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Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Creation of Life

The debate over creation and evolution rages on. But I would like to know a more fundamental question. How tough is it to create life from the primordial ooze? Does modern science have an inkling of how it happened? And if it does, can it be duplicated? Well, I hope this little article can answer some of these questions for you.

All of my information, including all of the quotes will be from the book; A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson. Now, Mr. Bryson is not a scientist, but this book is well researched, and I have gathered much of the same information from other sources. If any of the following interests you, I recommend reading his book. It is really informative and well written.

In 1953, graduate student Stanley Miller and his supervisor, Harold Urey created amino acids in a test tube. They declared amino acids to be the “building blocks of life” and everyone just assumed that it would be a short while before someone created life in a bottle. Not quite. Miller and Urey did not successfully duplicate earth’s early atmosphere. Later experiments using a more accurate mixture of gases, “has so far produced only one fairly primitive amino acid”. However, creating amino acids is not what we need to create life. We need to produce proteins.

“Proteins are what you get when you string amino acids together, and we need a lot of them”. For example, collagen is a common protein. To create it we would “need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence”. But, of course, we didn’t create proteins in the first place. They created themselves, spontaneously, without direction. “The chances of a 1,055 sequence molecule like collagen spontaneously self-assembling are, frankly, nil”.

That’s just one protein. “We are talking about several hundred thousand types of protein, perhaps a million, each unique and each, as far as we know, vital to the maintenance of a sound and happy you”. And to make it more complicated, each protein folds itself into a specific shape. “Even having achieved this structural complexity, a protein is no good to you if it can’t reproduce itself, and proteins can’t. For this you need DNA”. DNA can copy itself instantly but it can’t do anything else. “Proteins can’t exist without DNA, and DNA has no purpose without proteins”. How could both come into existence at the same time?

Not done yet. “DNA, proteins, and the other components of life couldn’t prosper without some sort of membrane to contain them”. All life needs “the nurturing refuge of a cell”. Without the cell, it’s all just a random collection of chemicals. “As the physicist Paul Davies puts it; If everything needs everything else, how did the community of molecules ever arise in the first place?” How indeed?

Now, my answer to that big question is, God. I believe God is the component that is required to solve the above problems. However, science will continue to delve into these mysteries in its own way. But there are other wonderful mysteries in our world and I will write about some of those, next weekend.


Pastor Bill

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