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Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life — A Bridge Too Far, Waaaay Too Far

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The origin of life: it’s a hurdle so high for materialists, it is hard to describe. Analogies fail to convey the hopelessness of expecting chance processes to leap over it. Let’s try nonetheless.

At the very least, materialists need to account for hundreds of molecular machines, a genetic code, and a membrane. Imagine an athlete who needs to jump a series of 500 hurdles a mile high, in order. Unfortunately he has a problem: he’s dead. A few other issues: He doesn’t want to jump over them, and he couldn’t if he wanted to. Nobody is there to help him or cheer him on. The only way for him to get over any hurdle is for some impersonal, chance force to supply energy. Perhaps an earthquake can do it. Maybe a volcano can blast him over the first hurdle. Or, let’s say a meteor hits the ground nearby, launching his limp, lifeless carcass over one of the hurdles.

No good. This is not looking hopeful at all.

Yet even so, the analogy is too generous. In a recent episode of ID the Future, Ann Gauger likened the probability of getting a single new functional protein by chance to standing outside the Milky Way and hitting a particular quark with a dart.

That is why it is so aggravating to watch reporters tell whoppers to an unsuspecting public. The author of a press release from Georgia Tech tried to assure readers that “life could have evolved with ease.” That’s right, with ease. Keeping the analogies above in mind, look at this reporter’s recipe for life:

The original recipe for gene soup may have been simple — rain, a jumble of common molecules, warm sunshine, and nighttime cooling. Then add a pinch of thickener.

That last ingredient may have helped gene-like strands to copy themselves in puddles for the first time ever, billions of years ago when Earth was devoid of life, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found. Their novel discoveries add to a growing body of evidence that suggests first life may have evolved with relative ease, here and possibly elsewhere in the universe. [Emphasis added.]

Just add a pinch of thickener. Really. That will get the body over the hurdles? That will aim the dart at the right quark?

The article informs us that “New research supports ancestors of genes self-copying in a mushy puddle.” So now you know. You are the product of accidents in a mushy puddle.

How does one even begin to describe the logical and scientific folly in such statements?

That’s why Stephen Meyer wrote Signature in the Cell. That’s why Doug Axe wrote Undeniable. That’s why Illustra Media produced their new film Origin. People need to know the facts. When chance is all you have in your explanatory toolkit, the math rules simplistic notions completely out of court. Wishful statements like “life may have evolved with relative ease” are patently false: absurdly, fantastically, ridiculously false.

Georgia Tech’s premise is that the primordial soup needed some thickening agent. Assuming an RNA World scenario (which has numerous problems), Nick Hud’s team needed a way for nucleotides to slow down so that they could copy themselves (assuming the RNA ribozymes will do that). Naturally, nucleotide strands snap shut too quickly in water, a process called strand inhibition. They found a thickening agent to slow the molecules down. But there are problems admitted in the press release.

First, the thickening agent didn’t exist. “The viscous solvent was glycholine, a mixture of glycerol and choline chloride. It was not likely present on pre-biotic Earth, but other viscous solvents likely were.” Likely to whom?

Second, they cheated by adding an intelligently designed molecular machine.

Also, after the short strands matched up to each long one, the researchers did apply an enzyme to join the aligned short pieces into a long chain, in a biochemical process called ligation.

The enzymes would not have been present on a prebiotic Earth, and although there are chemical procedure for ligating RNA, “no one has developed a chemistry so robust yet that it could replace the enzyme,” Grover said.

Third, they interfered with natural chance processes. “We can change the physical environment in an easy way, and promote these processes that wouldn’t happen in conditions ordinarily being used.”

To these three problems, admitted by the team, you could add dozens more: chemical problems, logical problems, time problems, to begin with. Chief among them is the source of the information in a living cell. Chemical evolutionists can’t call on natural selection, because there is no natural selection before accurate replication. Despite these flaws, the materialists get the full faith and credit of the U.S. government to promote their view:

Grover’s lab and that of Nick Hud at Georgia Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry published the results on Monday, October 10, 2016 in the journal Nature Chemistry. Their research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the NASA Astrobiology Program under the NASA/NSF Center for Chemical Evolution.

Our mission could be stated as shedding light on the “Nature of Nature,” to borrow the title of an excellent anthology edited by Bill Dembski and Bruce Gordon. As they have done for twenty years, Center for Science & Culture scientists and their associates continue to publish high-quality research, explaining to adults and students why the simplistic scenarios of the chemical evolutionists are untenable. In addition to Dembski, Meyer, Axe, and Gauger, scientists including Michael Behe, Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley, Jonathan Wells, Michael Denton, and others have contributed to a large body of literature that undermines government-funded misconceptions about the origin of life. You can find their work in these books:

  • The Mystery of Life’s Origin (Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen)

  • Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Denton)

  • Darwin’s Black Box (Behe)

  • Mere Creation (Dembski, ed.)

  • The Creation Hypothesis (Moreland, ed.)

  • The Design of Life (Dembski and Wells)

  • No Free Lunch (Dembski)

  • The Nature of Nature (Dembski and Gordon, ed.)

  • Signature in the Cell (Meyer)

  • Darwin’s Doubt (Meyer)

  • Undeniable (Axe)

For those without the time to digest a scholarly book, our short film The Information Enigma presents basic concepts in just 21 minutes, and Illustra’s new film Origin presents the problems with chance and materialism to a lay audience in just 45 minutes (see the trailer here).

Unlike the chemical evolutionists, we don’t get government funding. We have the goods, but our distribution isn’t paid for with federal grants. You can be an agent for getting this important information out to the public. Support the work of the Center for Science & Culture by going here. And support us at Evolution News here. As ever, thank you for your generosity, which is crucial to our mission.

Image credit: Georgia Tech.