Origin of Life Part 5

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origin-of-lifeIn I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Geisler and Turek discuss the problems of the origin of life and the origin of new life forms (see their chapters 4-6). As a quick aside, they also reveal that biologists generally remain within their own field of expertise and do not venture into related disciplines like paleontology or geology. Instead, most biologists rely on the opinions of other scientists and assume that the really strong evidence for evolution comes from those related sciences.

Darwinists, especially atheists, have no plausible explanation for the origin of life. They tell “just-so” stories that all require spontaneous self-assembly, something never observed in actual experiments. Stephen Meyer has much to say about this in Signature in the Cell.

Atheists disparage critics of evolution if they don’t have appropriate advanced science degrees, especially in biology, but that objection is simply a dodge. Once they make this complaint, they do not address the critic’s argument, indicating their inability to provide a rational, scientifically credible counterargument. When the critic does hold advanced degrees in appropriate sciences, they then besmirch his or her character with ad hominum attacks.

The Intractable Atheists

Why don’t atheistic evolutionists roll over when they’re confronted with scientific evidence that contradicts their philosophical presupposition of materialistic naturalism? Is the evidence used for the big bang actually the afterglow of God’s stretching out the heavens—a divine big bang—when God called into being that which did not exist (Rom. 4:17)? There are physicists who reject the big bang. John Lennox warned Christians to be wary about interpreting biblical texts based on current scientific knowledge. See more about this below.

Concerning the Anthropic Principle of the universe, over 100 fine-tuned physical parameters[1] that allow life on Earth, such as the gravitational constant and the expansion rate of the universe, strongly indicate that the universe was designed. Don’t the widespread presence of flat time gaps (paracon­formities), mega­sequences of sedimentary rock traceable over one or more continents,[2] and enormous turbidite deposits belie the belief that the geologic strata are the results of millions of years of erosion and deposition? Doesn’t the study of organic chemistry show that amino acids and RNA nucleotide bases cannot spontaneously form chains in a water environment? Doesn’t probability speak against the chance development of digital information in biochemical macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins? Why don’t the complex biochemical pathways for the utilization of glucose and other substrates convince them that there must be a designer? Can’t they understand that intermediate organisms gradually evolving from reptiles into birds would be less fit to survive than reptiles? The intermediates would be non-viable. Wouldn’t they begin to doubt Darwin’s main thesis that evolution occurs by innumerable, finely-graded intermediates if they learned it’s not supported by the fossil record? Don’t they know that paleontologists have long noted that species appear suddenly, without ancestral links and remain unchanged until their extinction, as Stephen Jay Gould explained?[3] This was also confirmed more recently by Ernst Mayr[4] and Robert B. Carroll who said “What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin”[5]

As Frank Turek said, the presuppositions of atheists and materialists force them to consider only naturalistic causes. They treat the idea of intelligent design with scorn, ridicule, and extreme prejudice, because it threatens their unfounded presupposition that evolution is true. If intelligent design becomes the dominant origins theory, it would destroy their hold on grant money and their audience (political power). They interpret everything in terms of evolutionary processes and they expect everyone to accept evolution as fact.

Consider, as Stephen Meyer asks repeatedly in his books, how did the information in DNA originate? Intelligent agents are the only known source of functional, non-repetitive, specified information such as that found in proteins, DNA, and RNA. These large biomolecules do not form spontaneously, therefore they must be the result of intelligent design.

Since man is a product of intelligence, man cannot be the source of the information. The source must be an intelligent agent who existed prior to man. What is meant by non-repetitive is that this specified information is not the result of chemical and physical laws that only produce endless repetitious sequences, such as those found in crystals of salt or snowflakes.

Faulty Biblical Interpretations & John Lennox

Most scientists in every discipline presuppose evolution is true and interpret their data to fit this presupposition. Before Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler, scientists commonly believed that the earth was the center of the universe (Geocentrism) and were very resistant to the idea that the earth rotated on its axis and orbited the sun. Most scientists were Christians and accepted the geocentric view because of biblical metaphors, such as I Samuel 2:8 and Psalm 104:5. But as the scientific evidence mounted, fewer and fewer people believed the earth did not move.

John Lennox discusses this in Seven Days that Divide the World. Lennox advises creationists to accept an old universe and long ages for the days of creation, while cautioning that we should not base scriptural interpretations on current science, making his advice a mixed message. Lennox assumes that current geological interpretation is true. Geologically, however, there are widespread structures that indicate a young earth as John Morris discusses in The Young Earth. There are many geochronometers that indicate a young earth. Because radiometric dates appear to support the evolutionary presupposition, evolutionists choose them and exclude all other methods that indicate the earth is only thousands of years old.

The Problems Discovering the Origin of Life

Molecular Biology of the Cell, 6th ed., 2014 by Bruce Alberts and Alexander Johnson, assumes evolution is true and proceeds to give facile explanations for how life evolved into the three major branches: Bacteria, Archaea, and Eukaryotes. Their presupposition becomes obvious as they explain the development of novel features in increasingly complex organisms. They claim “The raw material of evolution is the DNA sequence that already exists (p. 16).” This ignores the problem of how the non-repetitive, specified digital information of DNA originated by random events.

According to Jimmy Gollihar, a University of Texas graduate student in chemical biology,

“The origin of life remains a daunting mystery in part because rather than knowing too little, we increasingly know about too many possible mechanisms that might have led to the self-sustaining replication of nucleic acids and the cellularization of genetic material that is the basis of life on Earth.”[6]

That seems to be an amazingly irrational remark. Is he saying we know too much to be able to explain how life first arose on our planet, putting us at a disadvantage for ever discovering the truth about the origin of life, or there are too many ways to explain the origin of life because we know so many possible mechanisms? Around 1859, when Darwin published his book, we knew very little about cellular biochemistry, and Darwin could explain the origin of life in some “warm little pond.” Now we know too much! However, Gollihar has put his finger on a great conundrum: the cellularization of genetic material. Hutchinson had to put the synthesized genome into the cytoplasm of an enucleated cell in order to get the genome to function.

How did all the necessary components for life come together at the right time and the right place to be enveloped in a cellular membrane? It isn’t sufficient to find a way to naturally replicate nucleic acids in some imaginary early Earth scenario, to show that those nucleic acids could spontaneously polymerize into a functional molecule of digitized information, and, most importantly, envelop all the necessary systems for the first living cell. It won’t do to have all the right chemistry but not have it enclosed within a cell membrane; otherwise it’s nothing more than chicken soup.

Life doesn’t arise from a soup, primordial or otherwise. There is still the necessity of bringing the right components together, isolated from the surrounding medium, and compartmentalized so that anabolic and catabolic processes don’t interfere with each other. Normal chemistry must not be allowed to happen. This would occur within a proteinoid microsphere as proposed by Sidney Fox,[7] or a self-assembling lipid vesicle (micelle).[8] A concentrated solution of amino acids won’t bring about protein formation because inappropriate cross-reactions would prevent protein formation,[9] and any amino acids that happen to bond with one another would be split immediately by water interaction with the peptide bond.[10]

Cellular structure is not dictated by DNA. Rather, epigenetic processes control the type of cell and body plan of an organism, and epigenetic information comes from the preexisting structure of the parent cell, in the case of one-celled organisms, or from the architecture of the zygote. Well-documented studies of sea urchins showed this fact. A stem cell taken from one developing structure, such as a cone cell, in the sea urchin embryo and placed within the influence of local cell-cell interaction of another cell type, such as a neuron, causes its transformation into the latter type.[11]

As Richard Francis says, all cell types have the same genes, but the difference is in gene expression caused by epigenetic processes. It is possible to convert cancer cells to normal cells by exposing them to stem cells (op cit, p. 132). Francis says this is not reprogramming as commonly referred to, but is epigenetic “reprogramming” done to the genes rather than by the genes. Francis considers the genes as hardware rather than software.

Stephen Meyer discusses the importance of epigenetics (Darwin’s Doubt, pp. 271-287) in the development of body plans and cell types. Epigenetic processes control both cell types and body plans of widely disparate organisms such as worms and birds. Mutations in epigenetic information have little effect because “the structures in which epigenetic information inheres—cytoskeletal arrays and membrane patterns, for example—are much bigger than individual nucleotide bases or even stretches of DNA.” This makes them invulnerable to mutations caused by the typical agents, such as radiation and various chemicals.

In either case, this phenomenon underscores the axiom that life comes from life and not a soup of the right stuff. This is the law of biogenesis articulated by Louis Pasteur. Life does not arise spontaneously. It requires the input from outside intelligence.

[1] Geisler, N., Turek, F., I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, pp. 104-106.

[2] See evolutionist Derek Ager’s The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, pp. 1-25 and creationist John Morris’ The Global Flood.

[3] Gould, S.J., “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History 86:13-14, 1977.

[4] Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, Phoenix, London, 2002

[5] Carroll, R.B. “ Towards a New Evolutionary Synthesis,” Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15: 27-32, 2000.

[6] Gollihar, J., Levy, M., Ellington, A.D., Science, 343 (6168), pp. 259-260, 17 January 2014.

[7] Duane Gish, Ph.D. 1976. Origin of Life: The Fox Thermal Model of the Origin of Life. Acts & Facts. 5 (3)

[8] Luisi, P.L., Walde, P., Olberholzer, T., “Lipid vesicles as possible intermediates in the origin of life,” Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science 1999, 4:33-39

[9] Roberts, J.D., Caserio, M.C., Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry, 2nd ed., pp. 1236-1237.

[10] The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems, p. 60 published by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academies Press, www.nap.edu

[11] Francis, R.C., Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes, p. 127, 2011.

About the Author

Jon Covey and is wife Anita have been long-time members of the South Bay Creation Science Association. Jon and Anita write the monthly Creation in the Crossfire newsletter and have been invaluable in adding great research and insight into the creation articles we send out.