Encore Books

13 Jan 1994

                                                         THE ORIGIN OF LIFE

Robert C. Newman

 

Introduction:

 

            Question of cause:  Dice or deity? Chance or design?

            What do we mean by science?

                        Method definition: no supernatural allowed

                        Goal definition: trying to find out truth

                        If the supernatural exists (and does anything), then these definitions are not equivalent.

            Recognizing the presence of mind in scientific research

                        archaeology/anthropology: arrowhead?

                        search for ET intelligence: radio signal?

                        prob 10,000 bits sufficient to recognize in either case

                        simplest bacteria has 1012 bits = 100 million pp Encyclopaedia Britannica

            What's wrong with the naturalistic alternative?

 

Formation of Proteins:

 

            Miller-Urey experiment 1953; frequently repeated under various conditions

                        -- have yet to produce 2 of 20 amino acids in any such experiment

                                    Arginine, Histidine

                        -- regularly produce lots of other amino acids not in 20

                        -- produce lots of other stuff that would interfere with following steps

                        -- need reducing atmosphere (less than 1% oxygen)

                                    but photo dissociation of H2O creates a problem here

                        -- polarity of amino acids (all left handed)

           

Formation of Nucleic Acids:

 

            Robert Shapiro, "Improbability of Prebiotic Nucleic Acid Synthesis"

            Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Cretion of Life on Earth, 182ff:

                        -- get low yields even with pure chemicals

                        -- need drastically different conditions for various

                                    steps: acidity, temperature, catalysts

                        -- competing reactions (IPNAS, 569bottom)

                        -- how do nucleotides find each other?

 

The Problem of Self-Replication:

 

            See Newman and Byl articles in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith:

                        Formation time for simple self-replicator estimated at about 1079 years.

                        Chance of happening since big bang is 10-69.

 

The Problem of Bootstrapping:

 

            Evolutionists assume that life can get from simplest   possible to simplest ever observed by mutation & natural selection, but no evidence this will produce complex mechanisms from simple ones.

 

            Analogy of producing meaningful text by randomly adding & changing letters, even with natural selection.

 

The Problem of Information:

 

            Easy to solve this with a mind behind the universe; seems impossible without.

                        (see Hubert P. Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology [Cambridge, 1992]).

 

            Chesterton (Orthodoxy, 41): "The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe.  But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle."