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Origin of Life without Intelligent Design? Long Story Short Tackles the “Energy Harnessing” Problem

Image source: Discovery Institute.

The cheeky Long Story Short series has already detailed three fatal problems with scenarios of unguided abiogenesis — the origin of life from nonlife (herehere, and here). Let’s pretend those problems have been solved, though they emphatically haven’t been and, without intelligent design, they can’t be. Now Long Story turns to a fourth: “Energy Harnessing.” It’s up on YouTube today.

Life needs energy to function, and it needs vast amounts of it. In living cells, harnessing energy requires an ingenious nanomachine, ATP synthase. Evolutionary biochemist Nick Lane, not an ID proponent, has called it “the most impressive nanomachine of them all…It is hard to convey the astonishing complexity of this protein motor. This is precision engineering of the highest order, a magical device.”

It’s not just complex, though. ATP synthase charges ADP molecules to become ATP molecules, like a charged battery. As the video explains, the cell needs ADP to make ATP, but it also needs ATP to make the ATP synthase that charges ADP. So, “Life’s energy harnessing process is one big paradox. You need it before you can have it, and you can’t make it until you’ve already made it. Every part had to arrive, assemble, and start working all at once. Leaving no time for it to gradually develop.” Materialists, who must appeal to gradual development, have no answer to this.

In any picture of reality that doesn’t include intelligent design, the origin of life must have come about by a series of lucky coincidences. But these “coincidences” amount to a miracle. Proposed solutions to the energy problem, notably involving hydrothermal vents, fail to solve anything and just create more problems. Long Story does a fantastic job of making this clear.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



abiogenesisADPATPATP synthasebiologycoincidencesEnergyEngineeringgradual developmenthydrothermal ventsintelligent designmaterialistsmiraclenanomachinesNick Lanenonlifeorigin of lifeprotein motor