THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

…the theory of spontaneous generation was held by many, perhaps by all the Fathers of the Church and that St. Thomas Aquinas himself when rebuking Avicenna for teaching spontaneous generation did so because Avicenna held the thesis that it was by the power of matter alone that life arose, whereas, as St. Thomas says, if matter does produce life it is because the Creator has given it the power to do so.

Windle, 1908, p. 84

 

The idea that life evolved, is false.  People believe it only because they don’t want to believe that God created life.  But today, on the basis of science alone, the only explanation for the origin of life is still “In the beginning, God created…”

Gish, 1990, p. 35

 

A witty Frenchman describes the first conservative going about at the dawn of creation with upturned eyes and hands exclaiming, “My God! My God! Conserve the chaos!”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1869, from Gaylor, p. 136

 

    The natural world unfolds according to natural principles.  The natural principles affecting the movements of planets and stars were determined (despite protests from biblical literalists against the influence of gravity, a heliocentric solar system, natural explanations of comets, the size of the universe, etc.) in an effort to understand the natural world, although biblical literalists did hurl accusations of atheism and heresy at many of these scientists.  The same could be said of the natural principles determining disease, or weather, or the functioning of the body.  Whether or not scientists have described the natural processes determining a natural phenomenon, everyone is just as free to feel that God is involved in the outcome.  

   As I stress elsewhere, no scientist claims to know how life started.  Many creationists have asserted the same.

Therefore, I must repeat that no one should ever hope to obtain direct evidence related to the origin of life.  No amount of sophisticated research can ever succeed in lifting this area of thought above a highly speculative plane.  One will forever be postulating what may have happened or what could  have happened, but will one never be able to answer the question, what did happen? (Gish, 1970).

 

The fossil record cannot help us—even though there are fossils of small organic spheres from Isua, Greenland, it is impossible to determine how a bubble-like pre-cell would differ from a simple pre-cell-like bubble.  The fields of anatomy, genetics, and embryology can’t be of use either since these pre-cells would have lacked anatomical features, embryological development, and a modern genetic code. 

     Even if life can be generated in a lab, this would still not offer any proof of how life developed on the early earth.  If the development of life is not overly improbable, it might be that some sort of living system could develop through separate sets of processes.

     Some creationists have been enthusiastic in pointing out the things which researchers into the origin of life have not yet accomplished—they have not yet been able to turn chemicals into a living cell, for example.  It is true that the small number of scientists working in a small number of labs who have begun this research have not discovered everything after fifty years of experimentation, nor have they been able to replicate the sum of all chemical reactions which would have occurred on an entire planet over several hundred million years within the confines of their labs.  They have made significant contributions—some even winning the Nobel prize for their work on RNA.  I can personally attest that my students in genetics benefit from the understanding which has resulted from the contributions of these researchers.  In contrast, conservative biblical literalists—many of whom have claimed for thousands of years that they could use the Bible to determine the specifics of the mechanics of the natural world—have yet to produce a single significant insight into the workings of the natural world.  I would caution creationists before they are overly critical of the biochemists who have performed very productive research in the past 50 years lest creationists be held to similar standards.

 

The Miller-Urey experiment is still featured prominently in textbooks, magazines, and television documentaries.  Yet for more than a decade most geochemists have been convinced that the experiment failed to simulate conditions on the early Earth, and thus has little or nothing to do with the origin of life.

Wells, p. 10

 

Instead of being told the truth, we are given the misleading impression that scientists have empirically demonstrated the first step in the origin of life.

Wells, p. 24

 

     The Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated that all of the biomolecules necessary for life could be generated in the absence of life from a few gases and a bit of energy.  Whether or not the conditions of the early earth matched the conditions of the experiment exactly (it was, after all, the first experiment in its field), it is still a significant finding.  Many creationists of the recent past were vitalists who believed that no organic molecule could ever be synthesized in the absence of life.

 

But geological and biochemical evidence no longer matters, because certain influential scientists decided that the Miller-Urey experiment had demonstrated the first step in the origin of life, and they simply declared that the primitive atmosphere must have lacked oxygen….Dogma had taken the place of empirical science.

Wells, p. 18

     Oxygen levels of the early earth were significantly lower than in modern times; that is the conclusion of empirical data, not dogma.  If creationists feel otherwise, they could change the opinions of the scientific community by proving it (for example, by pointing to extensive redbeds of oxidized iron dating from the early Archeozoic Eon).

 

The conclusion is clear: if the Miller-Urey experiment is repeated using a realistic simulation of the earth’s primitive atmosphere, it doesn’t work.  Therefore, origin-of-life researchers must look elsewhere.

Wells, p. 22

     I feel another conclusion is clear: science is still studying the conditions of the early earth.  Through such study, what “works” and what doesn’t is gradually being elucidated. 

 

 
One may begin a critical appraisal by noting that these experiments have been characterized by some scientists as exercises in chemistry and nothing more.  Consider the formation of amino acids in Miller’s experiment…(Zimmerman, 1964)

     At some level, all of life is an exercise in chemistry. 

 

In other words, the RNA world—like the protein-first scenario in the Miller-Urey experiment—is a dead end.  Origin-of-life researchers have been unable to show how the molecular building blocks of life formed on the early earth.  But even if they had discovered the origin of the building blocks, the origin of life would remain a mystery.  A biochemist can mix all the chemical building blocks and still not produce a living cell.

Wells, p. 23

 

Why have our best scientists been unable to simulate the naturalistic origin of life?  Why have they been unable to create self-sustaining life, by any means whatever, from raw naturally occurring materials?  This extreme difficulty is certainly not predicted by evolution.

Remine, p. 463

 

No one has ever seen evidence of life beginning from nonliving elements…

Sippert, p. 311

 

As we look at this subject, we must state clearly that no one at all has created life in a testtube by experiment!

Sharbaugh, 1991, p. 235

 

     Wells’ conclusion that the RNA world is a dead end does not reflect the conclusion of geneticists who research RNA.  While this may be his opinion, it should be recognized that there are more informed opinions out there and virtually all of them are vehemently opposed to his.  While it is true that no biochemist has mixed simple molecules to produce a cell, replicating the chemistry of an entire planet over the course of hundreds of millions of years is a bit of a challenge.

Research shows that at the lowest level this number is in the multimillions, producing an irreducible level of complexity that cannot be bridged by any known natural means (Bergman, 2000).

 

    As I discuss elsewhere, there is a difference between “science does not know” and “science does not know yet.”   Although the author of the above quote is apparently critical because the evolution of the first cell “cannot be bridged by any known natural means”, it should be emphasized that the same could once be said of all areas of modern scientific knowledge.  Just as there was once a vitalist movement which claimed that nothing in biology could be explained without invoking a “vital force” there are those who argue for the “irreducible complexity” of life who argue that nothing can be explained in biology without invoking an “intelligent design.”

 

The inclination of an organic chemist to remove his product from reaction conditions which would lead to subsequent decomposition is understandable.  Unfortunately, there were no organic chemists on the primitive earth to facilitate this removal, and products formed abiogenically would have been decomposed by the very energy sources that brought about their synthesis (Gish, 1970).

     The major threats to organic molecules are oxygen and bacteria.  Without these factors, organic molecules are thought to have had quite long half-lives early in the history of earth.

The Murchison meteorite found in Murchison, Australia, “is rich in simple amino acids” and an estimated 300 tons of organic molecules annually fall to earth, but no complex polypeptides or similar “organic” molecules have yet been found (Bergman, 1995b) 

     While this is true, tons of organic molecules per year over hundreds of millions of years nevertheless add up to a lot of raw material for polymerization reactions which could occur on earth.

 

A major feature of the biotic message is that life lacks ancestors.

Remine, p. 425

     The ancestors of cells would not leave any indication that they were ever there.  (Even fossils could not be distinguished from nonliving spheres of organic material.)  The fact that there are no traces of them is not conclusive evidence that they never existed.

 

SIMPLER ORGANISMS WERE, WELL, SIMPLER

 

The genetic information in the DNA cannot be translated except with many different enzymes, which are themselves encoded.  So the code cannot be translated except via products of translation, a vicious circle that ties evolutionary origin-of-life theories in knots.

Sarfati, 1999, p. 128

 

Macromolecules in the cell such as DNA, RNA, and proteins are interdependent for mutual synthesis….But, each step in this complicated synthesis is catalyzed by an enzyme, which, since it is a protein, would have had to be synthesized by the same process!...In order to explain life, the appearance of the entire machinery must be explained (Sharp, 1977).

 

In the single celled organism, Escherichia coli, the chromosome codes for 2000 to 4000 different polypeptide chains…Imagine the number of random events needed to explain these syntheses and their components! (Sharp, 1977).

 

Yet another vicious circle, and there are many more, is that the enzymes that make the amino acid histidine themselves contain histidine.

Sarfati, 1999, p. 129

 

The cell, then appears to be the only biological entity that self-reproduces and simultaneously possesses the other traits required for life.  The question then becomes “What is the simplest cell that can exist?”   Many bacteria and all viruses possess less complexity than required for an organism normally defined as “living” and for this reason must live as parasites which require the existence of complex cells in order to reproduce …The simplest microorganisms, Chlamydia and Rickettsea, are the smallest living things known, but also are both parasites and thus too simple to be the first life …The gap between non-life and the simplest cell is illustrated by what id believed to be the organism with the smallest known genome of any free living organism Mycoplasma genitalium.  M. genitalium is 200 nanometers long and contains only 482 genes or over 0.5 million base parits which compares to 4,253 genes for E. coli…Blood nanobacteria are only 50 nanometers long….Actually nanobacteria cannot be the smallest form of life because they evidently are parasites and primordial life must be able to live independently…That life requires a minimum number of parts is well documented; the only debate now is how many millions of functionally integrates parts are necessary (Bergman, 2000).

 

     Modern organisms, even bacteria, are too complex to represent the form which life first took.  As life evolved over millions of years, traits which represented advantages to ancestral cells became requirements for their descendants.  While it is true that the DNA-RNA-protein relationships in DNA replication, transcription, and translation are much too complex to have all fortuitously appeared in the first cell, no evolutionist is making that argument.  A small, self replicating molecule of RNA (inefficient molecules of this type have been synthesized) could have represented the original gene.

     While the enzymes needed to make histidine contain histidine, evolutionists are not arguing that the first cells had protein enzymes or that they were capable of making their own hisitidine. In an RNA world, histidine might not have been required for the physiology of these early cells and histidine would have been present in the environment, in any case.

 

Many very complex animals appear very early in the fossil record and many “simple” animals thrive today.  The earliest fossil known, which are believed to be of cyanobacteria, are structurally and biochemcially very similar to bacteria living today.  Yet they are claimed to have thrived almost as soon as earth is believed to have been formed.  Estimated at 3.5 billion years old…(Bergman, 1998b).

     The date of 3.5 billion years is about 1.1 billion years after the earth is thought to have formed, not “almost as soon as earth is believed to have been formed.”  Wow, and creationists complain about traditional dating techniques being off.

 

MISUSES OF STATISTICS

     The systems of the human body are complex.  At first, it might seem that this complexity is proof against the possibility of evolution—since all of the parts of a human system are interdependent, a human could not function with some, but not all, of the components.  Of course, not all animals are humans.  While a human could not survive without these inter-related components, other animals both can and do.  Animals existed long before circulatory systems, circulatory systems existed long before hearts, and hearts existed long before the separation of oxygenated from deoxygenated blood in different chambers.  Nervous systems existed before centralization, cerebral ganglia existed before more complex brains, and brains have gradually increased in complexity throughout the human lineage.  The first digestive systems were open at only one end and lacked accessory organs.  The first reproductive systems lacked separate ducts and gametes were excreted through the mouth.  Early animals survived without urinary and respiratory systems. We can see that human systems are not “irreducibly complex”—the diversity of animal life attests to the possibility of life despite the absence of many human structures.  If humans were the only animals alive today (all other lineages having gone extinct), this would not be as obvious.

    Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the earliest cells.  In the evolutionary model, cells evolved over time.  While modern cells require the complex interaction of many parts, their ancestors would have been simpler.  If some of the ancestral cells produced lineages which survived to the present day, we would have potential models for minimal requirements for pre-cells, just as living flatworms provide a model for minimal requirements for bilateral animals.  Unfortunately, as far as we know, the earliest lineages of precells left only one modern lineage (although it is possible that some viruses are an early offshoot of the line which led to simple cells) and thus we can only postulate what those precells might have been like, just as we could only postulate what primitive bilateral animals would have been like had flatworms become extinct. 

     However, it is incorrect to assume that simple cells could not exist through the observation that modern cells are complex just as it would be incorrect to assume that simple animals could not exist through the observation that humans are complex.  Many creationists postulate that the first cell had to have the level of complexity found in a modern bacteria, which is not proposed by the evolutionary model.

 

ODDS OF A BAZILLION MILLION KATRILLION TO ONE

     Many creationists claim to have calculated the odds against life arising through natural processes on the early earth during hundreds of millions of years.

The proteins needed for life have very complex molecules.  What is the chance of even a simple protein molecule forming at random in an organic soup?  Evolutionists acknowledge it to be only one in 10113 (1 followed by 113 zeros).  But any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening.  An idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe!

     Some proteins serve as structural materials and others as enzymes.  The latter speed up needed chemical reactions in the cell.  Without such help, the cell would die.  Not just a few, but 2000 proteins serving as enzymes are needed for the cell’s activity.  What are the chances of obtaining all of these at random?  One chance in 10 40,000! 

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1985, p. 44

 

 

The simulated abiogenesis of the proteins to mock-up the simplist original cell is more than a zillion (104,000,000, 1 followed by more than 4,000,000 zeros) times more impossible than the mathematical definition of impossible (Mastropaolo, 2001).

 

In truth, the origin of life would require hundreds of different kinds of protein molecules, and hundreds—most likely thousands—of different kinds of DNA molecules and RNA molecules.  Furthermore, because there are 350 million cubic miles of water on earth, and presumably all life-building chemicals would be dissolved in water, one would have to have many billions of tons, each, of every protein, DNA, and RNA molecule in order to produce the simplest form of life.

Gish, 1990, p. 32

 

In the above example, we are talking about the chances of lining up 17 or 18 things in a certain order by chance, but in a protein, with 100 amino acids, you have to line up 100 things in precise order!  In this case, however, since there are only 20 different kinds of amino acids, the answer is obtained by multiplying 1/20 times itself 100 times.  The answer turns out to be ONE chance out of 10,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000, 000,000,000!

Gish, 1990, p. 33

 

An average-sized protein molecule is composed of 288 amino acids of which there twelve different types.  These can be arranged in 10300 different ways….In other words, the probability of the formation of only one protein molecule is “1 out of 10300”….the probability of the coincidental formation of the 2000 types of proteins found in a single bacteria…was found to be over 104000.

--Yahya, p. 88

 

Even if we assume [the formation of the earth] was 1010 years ago, this would mean that, during this whole period of time, 1063 proteins—each 100 amino acids long—would be formed.  This, however, is still 1067 short of the 10130 possible configureations.  THis means that the chances of a simple protein contiaining 20 different amino acids and 100 amino acids long being formed by chance from the earth’s oceans containing nothing else but these 20 different amino acids during 1010 years is 1 to 1067 against (White, 1972).

 

There is one chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000 that all 380 of the amino acids would be left handed! (Coppedge, 1971)

That these microscopic cells contain al of the necessary information to carry out two involved processes, nitrogen fixation and cyst formation, points out that God’s plan in nature is a perfect one…

the presence of either of these systems, nitrogen fixation or encystment, in a single organism, much less the possession of both by single organisms, is more than can be explained by evolutionary concepts alone(Cagle, 1973).

 

 

In the fist section of this paper the author will show that the probability that such a thing [the abiotic origin of life] could have happened anywhwere in the universe is less than 1 in 10 2,999,942.   The approach is somewhat technical and is not unlike that approach taken in other creationist publications (Rodabaugh, 1975).

 

 

By statistical considerations, the probability that amino acids and other components would combine spontaneously to form a protein with a cahin of one hundred amino acids is examined….1/10157   (Trop, 1974)

 

Assume that at least ten mutations mist take place at once, in one and the same cell for such a progressive change to occur….During two billion years there could only have been 1044 births or multicellular animals, whild the best probability for the acquisition of a new type of cell would be one individual out of 10160 births (Armstrong, 1974).

…the probability of 1 in 10119,870 is necessary to obtain the minimum set of the required estimate of 239 protein molecules for the smallest theoretical life form.  At this rate he estimates it would require 10119,831 years on the average to obtain a set of these proteins by naturalistic evolution (Bergman, 2000)..

 

…..Elementary statistical theory shows that the probability of 200 successive mutations being successful is then (½)200, or one chance out of 1060. The number 1060, if written out, would be "one" followed by sixty "zeros." In other words, the chance that a 200-component organism could be formed by mutation and natural selection is less than one chance out of a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! Lest anyone think that a 200-part system is unreasonably complex, it should be noted that even a one-celled plant or animal may have millions of molecular "parts."  (Morris, 2003)

 

…the probability for formation of a set of 238 proteins, the minimal number which would sustain life.  The odds against this event occurring during the history of the earth would be 1 in 1029345, completely out of the realm of comprehension (Sharp, 1977).

 

     This is a misleading statistical argument.  Suppose you roll a dice 10,000 times.  Have you performed a miracle?  Of course not.  But if you challenge someone else to repeat your rolls in exactly the same order, the probability against that person’s success would be about the same as those give in some of the above quotes.  You, in essence, would have accomplished something which is impossible to repeat. 

     The observation that life did evolve in a certain fashion should not be used as an argument that life had to evolve in a certain fashion.  It is fallacious to assume that if one protein did not appear with a precise order of amino acids that life would cease.  After all, animals commonly have the same protein performing the same general function despite differences in amino acid order.  In other cases, different animals perform certain functions with entirely different proteins.  The abuses of statistics given above do not take this into account.  Any series of possible events (such as rolling a dice) can appear impossible if, when finished, you ask the probability of producing the exact same series of events.  The “miracle” of the incredible odds  is really just a statistical trick.   The fact of the matter is that our understanding of what molecules could have accomplished on an entire planet over hundreds of millions of years is simply not sufficient to allow for calculations of the likelihood of such an event.  Creationist attempts to do so in spite of their ignorance amount to little more than lies.

The simplest conceivable form of life should have at least 600 different protein molecules.  The mathematical probability that only one molecule could form by the chance arrangement of the proper sequence of amino acids is far less than one in 1 in 10450.

Brown, 1995, p. 14

 

     First of all, it should be stated that the author is not a biologist.  The simplest form of life which he finds “conceivable” is not necessarily the simplest form of life which is possible.  It is commonly thought that the chemistry of the first proto-cells was based on RNA and may not have had any protein molecules.  As already mentioned, using statistics as seen above is deceitful.

The genetic information contained in each cell of the human body is roughly equivalent to a library of 4,000 books.  The probability that mutations and natural selection produced this vast amount of information, even if matter and life somehow arose, is essentially zero.  It would be analagous to the following procedure until 4,000 books have been produced.

a)       start with a meaningful phrase.

b)      Retype the phrase, but make some errors and insert some additional letters.

c)       Examine the new phrase to see if it is meaningful.

d)      If it is, replace the original phrase with it.

e)       Return to step “b”.

To accumulate 4,000 books of meaningful information, this procedure would have to produce the equivalent of far more than 1040,000 is, realize that the visible universe has less than 1080 atoms in it.)

Brown, 1995, p. 13

     The numbers used in the argument given above were calculated by a single creationist who wondered at the probability of 2,000 modern enzymes appearing at once.  Let evolutionists argue what the evolutionary model predicts; creationists cannot seem to represent what the evolutionary model would predict without breaking one of the ten commandments.  This statistical calculation has been worded to deceive rather than to enlighten.

 

Teaching about evolution avoids discussing the vast gulf between non-living matter and the first living cell, single-celled and mulitcelled creatures, and invertebrates and vertebrates.  The gaps between these groups should be enough to show that molecules-to-man evolution is without foundation.

Sarfati, 1999, p. 49-50

Gaps are gaps.  The gaps in humanity’s understanding of the natural world in the past did not end scientific investigation, it stimulated it.  Creationists should learn from this example.  Evolutionists are investigating the gaps in their model and making great discoveries which have filled some of them.   The gaps in the creationist model are far more vast.  

 

“SIMPLE” CELLS

     Many creationists have argued that since simple cells are really not “simple” they are much to complex to have evolved.

Also, can those first types of life truly be described as “simple”?…Although we may care to think of fossil bacteria and fossil algae and microfungi as being simple compared to a dog or horse, the information standard remains enormously high.

Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, 1985, p. 60

 

Yet the materialistic bias of many evolutionists means that they reject an intelligent source for the literally encyclopedic information carried in every living cell.

Sarfati, 1999, p. 19

 

For many decades biology students have been taught the unscientific doctrine that prokaryotic cells are "primitive" in spite of their obvious complexity…. The 2000 edition of the prestigious Annual Review of Microbiology contains an intriguing article titled "Interim Report on Genomics of escherichia coli" that discusses the bewildering complexity of this oft-studied bacterium. The article is replete with phrases such as "regulation systems," "transport systems," and other complex cellular processes. E. coli is an important bacterial species normally found in the large intestine. It is one of the most thoroughly and intensely studied of all microorganisms and is found any place where there are people or animals. Occasionally, E. coli makes the headlines when foods are contaminated with uncommon pathogenic strains of this bacterium.

Evolutionists traditionally have viewed bacteria such as E. coli as simple forms of life. These single-celled organisms, so the story goes, were one of the first life forms to have sprung naturalistically from an unknown ancestor several billion years ago. Therefore they "must be" of a simple construction.

Autoaggregation? Regulatory networks? Transport systems? Coordinated behavior? Communication and decision-making capabilities? Enhanced export abilities? Is this why we should believe simple bacteria evolved from non-living chemicals? One could just as easily be speaking of a massive, hi-tech automated factory—a sophisticated organization that certainly doesn't spring up by chance, time, and natural processes! This is yet one more example of how evolutionary theory is contrary to the facts of science. Why do evolutionists insist on teaching that bacteria (prokaryotes) are simple or primitive when empirical research states the opposite? Worse, how can they say that "simple" life evolved from non-life using nothing but natural selection, chance and time? (Sherwin, 2001b)

 

 

Yet even this ‘simple’ organism has far too much information than can be expected from time and chance, without natural selection. The information theorist Hubert Yockey calculated that given a pool of pure, activated biological amino acids, the total amount of information which could be produced, even allowing 109 years as evolutionists posit, would be only a single small polypeptide only 49 amino acid residues long. This is about 1/8 the size (therefore information content) of a typical protein, yet the hypothetical simplest cell above needs at least 256 proteins. And Yockey’s estimate generously presupposes that the many chemical hurdles can be overcome, which is a huge assumption, as shown by many creationist writers.

….

The problem is, all observed examples of natural selection involve sorting or loss of pre-existing information; evolution requires new genes with new information. Neo-Darwinism requires that mutations can generate this new information, but observed mutations have never been shown to do so. Sometimes a loss of information can help an organism so is ‘beneficial’, e.g. beetles born without wings are less likely to be blown into the sea. But loss of wings is the opposite sort of change to what evolution needs (Sarfati, 2004b).

 

     To begin with, the fact that all living things are complex is not a secret which is being unveiled by creationists; in fact it is one of the first things mentioned in every general biology textbook.  However, when considering the diversity of life on earth, prokaryotic cells are the simplest forms of life—this is based on observation and is not an evolutionist ploy.  As I discuss in other chapters, inappropriate analogies can lead to inappropriate conclusions.  Cells are not like watches or factories and, as a result, what is true of watches and factories may not be true of living cells.

 

Just like that!  Quite a tale.  I hope that this princely molecule found a princess molecule so they could live happily ever after.  How many billions of billions were spent by us sons and daughters of Uncle Sam so that this anti-creation, anti-religious tale can be told?

Sippert, p. 214

     The study of the natural world is not inherently anti-religious.  It has only become so when conservative literalists have claimed that the earth must be flat, or disease must be caused by witches or minorities, or lightning must be caused by demons, or unicorns must exist, or the sun must revolve around the earth, etc.  In the Dark and Middle Ages, such religious dogma was accepted and scientific investigation was discouraged.  Since the scientific study of the natural world helped bring our civilization out of the Dark and Middle Ages, I personally consider any amount of money spent along the way as money well spent.

 

 

For example, consider a very simple putative organism composed of only 200 integrated and functioning parts, and the problem of deriving that organism by this type of process. The system presumably must have started with only one part and then gradually built itself up over many generations into its 200-part organization. The developing organism, at each successive stage, must itself be integrated and functioning in its environment in order to survive until the next stage. Each successive stage, of course, becomes statistically less likely than the preceding one, since it is far easier for a complex system to break down than to build itself up. A four-component integrated system can more easily "mutate" (that is, somehow suddenly change) into a three-component system (or even a four-component non-functioning system) than into a five-component integrated system. If, at any step in the chain, the system mutates "downward," then it is either destroyed altogether or else moves backward, in an evolutionary sense (Morris, 2003).

     Morris failed to consider that the only cells which would have been successful at adding to their complexity would have been those which had developed some way of protecting themselves against harmful mutations.

 

Without ozone to shield the earth, the sun’s ultraviolet radiation would destroy life.  The only known way for both ozone and life to be here is for both to come into existence simultaneously—in other words, by creation.

Brown, 1995, p. 12

     The fossil record indicates that life got a good billion-year-start on concentrated atmospheric oxygen (and thus an ozone layer).  While Brown’s statement about ultraviolet light destroying life is true, this is only true of terrestrial life.   The first several billion years of life’s history occurred underwater.

 

If sexual reproduction in plants, animals, and humans is a result of evolutionary sequences, an absolutely unbelievable series of chance events must have occurred at each stage.

a)       The amazingly complex, radically different, yet complementary reproductive systems of the male and female must have completely and independently evolved at each stage at about the same time and place….

b)      The physical, chemical, and emotional systems of the male and female would also need to be compatible.

..f)  This remarkable string of accidents must have spread throughout millions of species.

…if asexual reproduction (the splitting of an organism into two identical organisms) evolved before sexual reproduction, how did complex sexual diversity arise or survive?  Evolution can not explain it.

Brown, 1995, p. 14-5.

Sexual reproduction evolved before plants and animals diverged; it evolved among the protists.  While it is true that asexual reproduction evolved first and has a number of advantages over sexual reproduction, even asexual bacteria have evolved a number of mechanisms for gene exchange (e.g. conjugation and transformation).  If protists could reproduce sexually, then their plant and animal descendants would not need to evolve sexual mechanisms “completely and independently” as stated above.  Also, if we assume that males and females are compatible (although most late-night comedians would contest this), this is obviously a characteristic which natural selection can act on.  Organisms which are not compatible with the opposite gender do not have as many offspring as those which are.

It is time to be done with assumptions which are no more than armchair speculations, and to turn to true science and the Bible.  Both of those sources of information support the conclusion that the organisms having sex were so formed in the beginning (Tinkle, 1977b)

     True science indicates the opposite.  It appears that life existed for about a billion years before sexual reproduction evolved.

 

ENDOSYMBIOSIS

     Some creationists have argued that a complex eukaryotic cell could never have evolved from a simpler prokaryotic cell.

For evolution to have occurred, untold millions of transitional forms must have existed between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.  This is true for both of the naturalistic theories of organelle origins, endosymbiosis and straight gene mutation plus natural selection evolution …A total void of cell structures between eukaryotes and prokaryotes exists and organisms either lack organelles or possess fully functional organelles.  Not even one plausible example of an intermediate organelle has been found to bridge the chasm found between prokaryotes and eukaryotes…Without fully functional efficient mitochondria, Golgi complexes, the cells skeletal systems and all other organelles, eukaryotic animals cannot survive.  Furthermore, the time required for the evolution of organelles is believed to be enormous, and would have left many fossils… We now know that the eukaryotic cell is vastly more complex than the gross anatomy of the entire human body.  Also discussed is the lack of evidence for the evolution of these organelles, revealing a “missing link” much larger and of far greater significance than all others.  The gap between organelle containing cells, the eukaryotes and those cells lacking them, the prokaryotes, is greater than any morphological gap between animal body types (Bergman, 1999).

 Simpler animals may have streamlined organelles, but a huge unbridged and unbridgeable gap exists between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.  These gaps are not only real, but they must exist because all organelles such as mitochondria must have specific structures and a minimum complexity level in order to function (Behe, 1996)
 
     How did the eukaryotic nucleus evolve?  It may be prokaryotic cells which encoded a plasma membrane, simply produced additional membrane which surrounded the bacterial chromosome.  The DNA of the eubacterium Gemmata obscuriglobus is enclosed in two membranes.  It is not known whether this membrane will provide insight into the evolution of the eukaryotic nuclear membrane and there is no evidence of nuclear pores or of a nucleolus (Fuerst, 1991). 

 

     Endosymbiosis refers to a condition in which one cell lives inside another cell for the benefit of both.  Is this possible? Yes.  There are hundreds of known examples of endosymbionts such as bacteria living inside of protists and algae living inside corals, worms, clams, and even mollusks called nautiloids.  There are hundreds of known examples of endosymbionts such as bacteria living inside of protists, algae living inside corals, worms, clams, even mollusks called nautiloids. There is a great deal of evidence that supports the theory that mitochondria and chloroplasts are actually the descendents of eubacteria that were engulfed by a proto-eukaryotic cell and survived as endosymbionts (discussed presently). 

     One model of the origin of the eukaryotic cell is that an RNA based organism (termed a kronocyte) engulfed a prokaryote which eventually became the nucleus.  In this model, a phagocytic kronocyte engulfed an archaea and the plasma membrane of the archaea formed the nuclear membrane.  The endosymbiotic event which produced the eukaryotic mitochondria would have occurred afterwards.  The resulting cell would have possessed many nuclear genes having been derived from the archaeal chromosome, some resulting from the transfer of mitochondrial (eubacterial) genes to the nucleus, and some from the original kronocyte.

endosymbiosis

          Not only are there a number of endosymbionts which have evolved recently and still retain most of their ancestral nature, there is also evidence of more ancient endosymbiotic events, including those which resulted the mitochondria and chloroplasts of eukaryotic cells.  Mitochondria and chloroplasts are eukaryotic organelles which have a number of features which suggest they are derived from eubacterial ancestors.  They are similar in size to bacteria and they possess their own chromosomes which are circular, like those of bacteria.  (As a result, it is incorrect to say that human cells have 46 chromosomes: the mitochondrial chromosome composes a 47th and it may be present in many copies in any given cell.)  Mitochondria and chloroplasts are also similar to bacteria in their ribosomes, cytochrome c, genetic code, translation initiation, translation initiation factors, and internal structure.  Both mitochondria and chloroplasts reproduce by fission as do bacteria and cannot be synthesized by the genes in the nucleus.   If they are removed from a cell, the cell cannot replace them  (Gray, 1992; Margulis, 1996).

     Both mitochondria and chloroplasts are sensitive to antibiotics which affect bacteria such as streptomycin, spectinomycin, neomycin, & chloramphenicol while are unaffected by agents such as cyclohexamide that affect the cytoplasm.  Many of these antibiotics act on bacterial ribosomes.  However, eukaryotic mitochondria possess their own genes which contribute to ribosomes.  There are two rRNAs encoded by the mitochondrial genome: MTRNR1 (nucleotides 648-1601) and MTRNR2 (nucleotides 1671-32229).  Not only are high doses of certain antibiotics potentially dangerous to all humans (because they inhibit mitochondria in addition to inhibiting bacteria) some people possess variations in these mitochondrial rRNA genes which make their mitochondria more “bacteria-like” and thus can cause serious reactions if they take an antibiotic (OMIM).

     Plasmids are small pieces of DNA which exist outside major chromosomes.  Although virtually all plasmids are known from bacteria, some are known to exist in mitochondrial.  A number of linear mitochondrial plasmids are known in fungi and higher plants, some of which require the presence of two plasmids in order to replicate (Chan, 1991).  Plasmid-like DNAs are known from both fungal and plant mitochondria (Gray, 1992).

endosymbiosis

 

     Both mitochondria and chloroplasts seem to have originated from the endosymbiosis of prokaryotic cells in early eukaryotic cells.   The mitochondrial endosymbiotic event which led to mitochondria would have predated that which led to chloroplasts, given that virtually all eukaryotes possess mitochondria.

     The prokaryotic cells which are classified as archaea are intriguing in that many of their molecular characteristics (such as DNA regulation) are intermediate between eubacteria and eukaryotes.  Creationists insist, however, that archaea support their model.

 

The new evolutionary view that cellular forms diverged earlier in history than they once believed has excellent implications for special creation….This becomes significant for creation since there exist three evolutionary pathways, each with an unfilled gap of billions of years.   At the same time, this new model predicts the coexistence of the three basic cell types.  This coexistence is consistent with a creation model.  Thus the account of the evolution of the cell is inevitably becoming more like a creation model (Anderson, 1980).

 

WHY THE EARLY CELLS AREN’T PRESERVED IN AMBER

      The author of the following quote is critical of evolutionists who have not been able to find evidence of the evolution of eukaryotic cell in amber fossils.  Of course, amber is fossilized tree sap and could only be formed long after the evolution of the original eukaryotic cells had occurred. 

Analysis of putative ancient animal cells, such as those embedded in amber so far have not provided even a hint of the millions of required transitional forms….Termite and bee DNA claimed to be 25 million years old were also remarkably similar to its modern relatives.  Evolutionists theorize that eukaryotic cells arose around two billion years ago, thus they claim amber preserved examples do not reach back far enough to shed light on this early history.  The amber evidence does though show a lack of change for the period it documents.  The fact that no evidence exists, fossil or otherwise, for the evolution of eukaryotes is a real dilemma for evolution (Bergman, 1999).

 

SEX

Biologists have an adolescent fascination with sex.  Like teenagers, they are embarrassed by the subject partly because of their ignorance.  What sex is, why it evolved, and how it works are the biggest unsolved problems in biology.

Jones from Bergman, 1996.

     First of all, while it may be true that biologists are fascinated with sex, I challenge anyone who has read about how sexuality has been treated by conservative Christians throughout the past two millennia to claim that they have been more enlightened.

     Secondly, sexual reproduction evolved in microscopic organisms with no hard parts.  Even if there were fossils of the first organisms which practiced sexual reproduction, the genetic and cellular mechanisms would still be a mystery since these would not be preserved, even in the best of fossils.   While it is true that the origin of sexual reproduction is an unsolved mystery, this is hardly unexpected, given the need to study the genes of billion-year-old microbes to solve the mystery.  What we do currently understand about sexual reproduction in the natural world has come about through the study of  the natural world and not through conservative interpretations of Biblical passages.  Conservative literalists have often opposed such studies.  For example, Linnaeus was criticized for his descriptions of sexual reproduction in plants, given that flowers were frequently used in his day as examples of chaste beauty.

The complete lack of transitional forms bridging asexual cellular fission from the more complex asexual and sexual reproduction is not explained but confounded by the fact that some plants and simple animals can reproduce both sexually and asexually…A severe problem for evolution theory is to explain the evolution of sexual reproduction and behavior….The creationist explanation for sex and sexual dimorphism is that it is part of the Creator’s design for life….Evolution is totally inadequate to explain why males exist…Creationism, though, provides a clear explanation: sexuality exists because it is part of God’s plan for humans and other organisms…A reason for the lack of evidence is because it was alleged that the fossil record rarely preserved soft body parts; this ancient gonads and secondary characteristics rarely can be studied.  This is now known to be false, and a huge number of soft parts or their fossil impressions have been preserved in such places as the Burgess shale or on animals preserved in amber, tar pits, coal and other mediums (Bergman, 1996).

     There are two problems with the above quote.  First of all, it implies that “God did it” is an acceptable scientific explanation of a natural phenomenon.  For about a millennium and a half after the birth of Christianity, this was the main explanation for all natural phenomena.  Unfortunately, much of this period is referred to as the Dark Ages because it represent the period in the history of Western Civilization in which society suffered the greatest amount of ignorance concerning the phenomena of the natural world.  The main reason that our understanding of the natural world is superior to the witch-burning, flat-earth geocentrists of the past is that scientists discovered the natural causes of natural phenomena rather than relying only on phrases such as “God did it.”

      Bergman in the above quote claims that evolutionists cannot explain the origin of sexual reproduction.  I will admit that unveiling the genetic mechanisms controlling the cell division of microscopic organisms which have been extinct for a billion years is a fairly difficult research project.  Bergman suggests that the secrets to this process should be evident in fossils preserved in amber and coal.  Amber is fossilized tree sap and coal is made from the fossilized remains of large quantities of eukaryotic organisms (mostly plants).  The plants which produce amber and coal reproduce sexually.  An argument which implies that processes of fossilization which depend on advanced sexually reproducing plants should be able to preserve the very first sexually reproducing organisms is either ignorant, or deceitful, or both.

 

 

 

WOULD AN ABIOTIC ORIGIN OF LIFE UNDERMINE RELIGION?

     Would an abiotic origin of life undermine religion?  The early Christians often argued for spontaneous generation rather than against it, so apparently not.  Some modern creationists agree.

…even though the artificial production of living beings (should it come about) need be no threat to our faith, yet the attempt to do such a thing may be something in which no Christian (or Jew, or for that matter Moslem) should be engaged….Incidentally, if it be said that the magicians of Egypt had help from dark powers, can we be sure (I say this in all seriousness) that the same might not be true of similar attempts today?  The devil can think of many ways of working with man to man’s harm, nor is he limited to appearing complete with horns and tail and stirring the caldron with his pitchfork.

Harold Armstrong, from Scientific Studies in Special Creation (ed. Lammerts),1990, p. 329

 

There has been talk lately about the “artificial creation of life” in the laboratory…

…First of all: if this were done, it would not make God any the less…

…Secondly, until two hundred or so years ago, men believed that living beings, certain worms and insects, for instance, were produced without the intervention of living beings, by what was called “spontaneous generation”.  And this belief made no trouble for their Christianity; Sir Thomas Brown, for instance, a devout man certainly, believed in spontaneous generation, and mentioned it in passing in his “Religio Medici”….if this notion did not bother our forefathers, why should it bother us?

…In the third place: can we be sure that living things have never been created artificially before?  We are told in Exodus 8:7 that the magicians of Egypt produced frogs.  And Revelation 13:15 might mean that something like that will happen again.

    Incidentally, the fact that the magicians succeeded in their attempts—up to a point—does not, of course, show that God had lost control….It is true that the extent of Satan’s help should not be underestimated; he who was likely present when the sons of God shouted for joy at the creation would be in a good position to know something about how life was created.

Harold Armstrong, from Scientific Studies in Special Creation (ed. Lammerts),1990, p. 328-9

 

Will it ever be possible—starting with simple chemicals—to put together something alive, and have it maintain itself and reproduce in a test tube (or outside of a test tube)?  This question remains unanswered.  At any rate, as long as God ordains, we will go on researching and learning more about DNA and other aspects of His creation (Frair, 1968).

 

…if scientists do successfully synthesize living substance (no science creates matter), they will do so because of a planned “recipe”, a proper complex mixture of elements…Human intelligence will have been involved since scientists selected the “ingredients”….And so, by analogical reasoning, if human intelligence of necessity will be involved in any successful synthesis of living substance, then it follows logically that an Intelligent Creator was involved in the ultimate origin of life on earth (Moore, 1985)

 

    It is not surprising that there are conservative believers who claim that science will never fully understand natural phenomena, who pick on the newest of scientific endeavors in an attempt to prove the existence of God, and who attack those who are performing research on the natural phenomena which govern the natural world.  In fact, given that Christianity has been plagued by such individuals more close to two millennia, we should actually expect it.  In the past, these individuals promoted ignorance of the natural world rather than knowledge of it. 

     Attempting to understand the biological nature of the first living organisms is perhaps the most challenging question in modern biology.  Although genetics and biochemistry have already provided great insight into natural processes which might have been involved, it should be remembered that these are young relatively young sciences which are only beginning to obtain the tools necessary to study this question.  Creationists do have a right to criticize all scientific endeavors but it should be remembered that conservative believers have failed use a literal interpretation of the Bible to produce a single significant insight into the processes which govern the natural world, despite thousands of years of trying. Investigations into the origin of life in a handful of decades have already produced more scientific knowledge than the sum of all literalist arguments ever have.