January 2009 Weakness of Evolution - Origin of Life Itself


In This Issue
Science - Can Dead Chemicals Spontaneously Come to Life?
Citizen Involvement - How YOU can help!
"A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question..." - Charles Darwin in Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

Today's installment of our series on well-known scientific weaknesses of neo-Darwinian evolution deals with the origin of life itself.  Many of you learned in high school that this had been largely solved by Stanley Miller and Harold Urey who put a mixture of gases in a closed system, set up a trap to protect and extract any organic molecules, and arced electricity through it to simulate lightning.  What you may not have been told is that this work has been discredited as nothing more than an interesting lab experiment.  It used the wrong gases, non-natural processes, produced poisonous organic molecules (rather than the "stuff of life") and no longer has relevance to origin of life chemistry.  Darwin's "warm little pond" remains sterile.

Even the Darwinists have largely punted on this one now, with some of their "best" guesses being that life started "on the backs of crystals" or came from outer space.  How do they currently address this question?  They don't.  They now rule this question out-of-bounds.  How convenient.  If you can't get the very first step right, ignore it and go to the next steps but declare there is no problem.

Let's be clear:  The issue is how to get from dead chemicals to living cell components with zero guidance, no pre-existing DNA or RNA, and using only random naturalistic processes.

Separately, our petition to the SBOE for the retention of time-tested "strengths and weaknesses" language in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) continues to grow.  For you or a friend or family member to sign up, please visit:
http://www.strengthsandweaknesses.org/teachbothsides.htm.  Please help!



SCIENCE:  Can Dead Chemicals Create Life?
A Skeptical View of Abiogenesis

The enormity of the origin of life, or abiogenesis, problem can be seen even if one starts from a very favorable initial condition. With the hope of assembling a functional system of proteins needed for life, suppose that we already have all of the 20 amino acids of life available with an equal probability of adding each to a growing chain of amino acids. Then there is a 1 in 20 chance of getting the right amino acid with any addition to the chain.  Each protein in a life system must contain a specifically ordered chain of several hundred amino acids. 

Consider a specific chain of 400 amino acids. The probability of getting this specific sequence is 1 in 20400 or about 10520. One would have to randomly make 10520 chains, each 400 amino acids long, to get one chance of getting the needed sequence. This is a number so large that it is very difficult to comprehend. It is much larger than anything 'astronomical'. In fact an estimate of the total number of atoms in the observable universe, including all of the atoms in all of the stars in all of the billions of galaxies that can be seen by all of the telescopes, is 'only' about 1080. This is a very small number compared to 10520. In fact 10520 is larger than 1080 x 1080 x 1080 x 1080 x 1080 x 1080 which equals 'only' 10480.

In an effort to be wildly optimistic, suppose that all of the atoms, 1080, in the observable universe interacted with all the other atoms, 1080, in the observable universe a million, 106, times a second for the last ten billion, 1010, years!  Since there are about 3x107 seconds in a year, this would give 1080 x 1080 x 106 x 1010 x 3x107=3x10183. This is still miniscule compared to the number of random events, 10520, needed before we can expect to obtain our medium size protein molecule. In fact there seems to be no way of being sufficiently optimistic, even with all of the time and material in the universe, to reasonably expect one specifically needed amino acid sequence to actually occur. Even if by some great fortune the right sequence did occur, one would still have only one molecule, which by itself can accomplish nothing.

Destructive Chemical Processes:  While we are waiting for these amino acid chains to build up, there are several processes simultaneously trying to tear them apart. 


Chirality:  Another problem is that these organic molecules have both left and right-handed forms, which are mirror images of one another in three-dimensional space. So far all natural abiotic sources of amino acids produce an equal mixture of handedness in these molecules. But amazingly, almost all of the amino acids in the proteins of life systems are exclusively left-handed so the chain building must exclude all of the right-handed amino acids somehow.  Even if a source of left-handed molecules is found, the chain building process must exclude the right-handed forms coming from the presently known chemical processes. Some hopeful methods of doing this have been proposed and published but none have been experimentally verified yet. 

Even after all of the above is accomplished the amino acid chain must be properly folded in to the right three-dimensional shape to form a functional protein molecule. These proteins cannot be any randomly occurring protein because they must fit together as the parts of a very complex biochemical system or machine. This machine must protect its parts from the environment while it extracts energy and materials from that environment to grow and reproduce. So even if we got a protein, we still would not have even the first functional living cell, only that single protein! It has been estimated that even the simplest conceivable life system would require at least two thousand different proteins that fit together as the parts of a machine. By contrast the life system of humans is thought to employ over 100,000 different proteins.

Thus the abiogenesis problem is so enormous that it is understandable that origins of life researchers are excited at every possibility of a step forward.  It is also understandable that the skeptics remain exceedingly skeptical. Little seems likely to change in this standoff unless some radically new principles are recognized and brought into play.

[NB:  You may direct comments to:  newsletterfeedback2009@strengthsandweaknesses.org]



Your Assistance Needed on Three Fronts! - We have an urgent need for assistance in three areas. 

First, please take a minute and sign our "Teach Both Strengths AND WEAKNESSES of Evolution Petition
" here.  It will only take 30 seconds and will help counter the Darwinist dogma that, "No one questions evolution."

, please take a few minutes now to write a politely worded letter of support to the State Board of Education encouraging them to keep or even strengthen the "scientific strengths and weaknesses" language that has served Texas well for TWENTY YEARS without a single legal challenge.  You might also point out one or two of your favorite weaknesses of evolution theories--there are so many to choose from!  Email the Board at sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us. Other contact information is located here.

Third, mark January 21, 2009 on your calendar.  This is the day public testimony will be taken before the full State Board of Education in Austin.  It is especially important that you consider testifying if you are a teacher or have Ph.D. credentials.  For more information, see:

Thank You!