The Complexity of Life and the Odds Against Evolution

Adapted from The Death of Evolution by Wallace Johnson

Only life begets life. The work of Redi, Pasteur and others settled a long dispute.  They showed that life is not spontaneously generating on earth.  That has posed a problem for evolutionists: how to get life started on earth without a supernatural agent.

While the problem still remains, its difficulty is bypassed.  The public has simply been told that there is no problem.  The great channels of information have tirelessly carried the message that life generated itself by natural chemistry.  Thousands of good scientists may disagree; but, generally, their dissenting views are withheld from the public.  In this way, the modern media has made people believe as fact that which is impossible.

I dare say that the man of the world visualizes first-life as a blob of jelly, different from other blobs because it was lucky enough to acquire life.  This is a misconception.  Strictly speaking, there is NO SUCH THING AS LIVING MATTER.  This will become clearer as we proceed.

The electron microscope has given insight into the staggering complexity of a living cell, and some understanding of its various parts, each part interacting precisely with multitudes of other parts in a wondrous organization.

In the heart of the cell is the nucleus.   This is the control center, masterminding the operations of the cell through prodigiously complex molecules of nucleic acid (DNA), and the genes which make up those molecules.

Genes are units of heredity. Each carries the genetic code for some characteristic of the body.  The code is spelled out by hundreds of smaller units called nucleotides, arranged in highly specific sequence within the gene.

Chromosomes are strings of genes, and the genes are strung in precise and specific sequence.  The chromosomes form paired arms, twin arms, which coil around each other in a double spiral.  In the human cell there are 46 chromosomes arranged in 23 pairs along the twin arms.  In the nucleus of any cell, the chromosomes contain the coded blueprint for structuring the body.

A membrane encloses the nucleus, and through it chemicals can come and go.  On the other side of the membrane is a fluid called cytoplasm in which countless tiny bodies carry on the never-ending business of the cell.  An outer membrane encloses the cell, and it has the ability to decide which materials may enter the cell and which may leave it – a mysterious process which baffles modern science.

Inside the cell there is continuous activity building new proteins.  The blueprint for each type of protein is coded in a gene in the chromosomes.  Protein building begins when an extremely complex enzyme (RNA Polymerase) selects the appropriate gene.  The enzyme receives a start signal. It sets to work scanning the gene, and it builds an RNA-molecule in the image of the blueprint.  When the job is done, the enzyme receives a stop signal.   The new RNA-molecule takes on the role of Messenger-RNA, and it goes forth bearing its image, or copy, of the code.

It goes through the membrane into the cytoplasm, where it is captured by one of thousands of Ribosomes, which are complex beyond our understanding, and which are the manufacturers of proteins.  The ribosome's task is to build a particular protein by linking various amino acids in the specific sequence of the blueprint.  For this task it needs many slaves to catch the different amino acids.  The slaves are bodies called Transfer-RNA, and each is designed to catch a particular amino acid.  They need subservient slaves, special enzymes which are suitably shaped for driving one type of amino acid onto the equivalent transfer-RNA body.

The ribosome receives a go signal and begins to scan the copy of the code caried by the messenger-RNA.  The slaves muster and catch the various amino acids and put them at the disposal of the ribosome.  Working swiftly and silently, the ribosome links the amino acids, about 30 per second, in the specific coded sequence, and builds a new protein.  When the protein is complete the ribosome gets a stop signal.  The new protein is carried off to do its work in the body.

Such an over-simplified description does not do justice to the intricate operations involving many other steps and numerous specialist enzymes.  There are hundreds, and even thousands, of ribosomes at work making all kinds of proteins to specifications.  All around are other busy bodies doing their special jobs precisely in tempo with one another: Operator genes, Regulator genes, Anti-bodies, etc., etc.

DNA is needed to make enzymes; but enzymes are needed to make DNA.  Which came first?  This is a tough problem for evolutionists.  Operator genes would wreck a cell if the Regulator genes were not controlling them; but Regulator genes would be purposeless without Operator genes.   So, which came first?

The living cell is the most complex structure that exists and its every part depends somehow on its other parts.  When it is realized that a cell could not evolve part by part, but must exist totally or not at all, then it becomes clear that the propaganda about spontaneous generation of first life is unscientific wishful thinking.

This brings me back to the statement that there is no such thing as living matter.  In the cell, all the parts and pieces are separate units, working precisely together, but not themselves alive.  Life is not IN any of those parts and pieces, just as, in your automobile, there is not automobility in any piece or part, in a spark plug or a fuel injector.  Automobility is a super-quality that coheres to the total motor car.  Similarly, life is a super-quality that coheres to the total cell.

Suppose from a living cell we extract any structure.   Suppose we extract a ribosome, a membrane, or even DNA; we will find that such a structure, when separated from the total, organized cell, is nothing more than an organic molecule – a lifeless molecule.  Whatever life is, it coheres to the organized, complete cell.

In the fantastic processes within the cell, amino acids are nothing more than humble building-blocks used by the master builder.   This has to be kept in mind in light of the 20th century experiments, which have contributed to the myth that life itself spontaneously evolved.  In one of these experiments, Dr. Stanley Miller managed to produce some amino acids using "natural chemistry."  In another, Sidney Fox claimed to chain together some amino acids into something like proteins.  Both of these experiments required conditions and processes which could not possibly have ever existed on earth, and which would have destroyed life.  There were numerous other contradictions, including the problem with so-called left-handed and right-handed amino acids.  The second law of thermodynamics requires that randomly formed amino acids consist of equal ratios of left-handed and right-handed molecules.  Miller's amino acids were a law-abiding lot; they were a correct mixture of left and right-handed molecules.  The catch is that LIFE goes outside the law.  In living cells the amino acids are all left-handed; there is never a right-handed molecule.  This is one of those fascinating mysteries of life, revealing, not blind chance, but an imaginative intelligence at work.

So, living cells break through the laws governing inanimate nature.  Life, then, must be beyond these laws. This point is doubly proved in death.  At death, the law of non-living matter takes over.  The amino acid molecules start to rearrange themselves slowly until, eventually, they are in equilibrium, with an equal ratio of left-handed and right-handed molecules in the cell from which life has departed.

Whatever may be thought of the value of the above-mentioned experiments, it is appropriate to ask: what are the mathematical odds against one real protein forming by chance?  According to the Swiss mathematician, Dr. Charles E. Guye:

If we could imagine unlimited material shaking itself together over vast time so that this material fully interacts, the odds against one protein molecule forming would be 100160 (100 multiplied by itself 160 times) to one.  That means no chance at all. In fact, to meet those unimaginable odds, there would not be enough material in the whole universe to shake together.  We would need more universes of material; and not just 3 or 4 more universes; but sextillion, sextillion, sextillion more universes to provide the material.

The time required for shaking this material together on our planet would be, in years, 10143.  The mind cannot conceive that length of time, not even when musing in evolutionary time spans.

Let us suppose that one lucky protein did beat those nearly infinite odds and did assemble itself; it would be nothing more than an organic molecule.  Life would still be a long way off.  The question becomes: what are the odds against a complete cell assembling?  Our lonely protein would need other proteins to join it.  The second protein will be more difficult to assemble because it must match the first biologically.  The third will be still more difficult.  How difficult will be the assemblage of a full set of proteins for the simplest cell?  Even after making all possible and even impossible concessions to help the evolutionists' case for generating that first cell, the odds against it happening are estimated as 10119,850 to one.  Whatever may be the margin of error, the mathematics confirm what our reason knows, namely, that spontaneous generation of a living, self-replicating cell is impossible.

Genetic engineering is advancing spectacularly; but this is meddling with existing life, not creating new life.

Dr. Sol Spiegelman of the University of Illinois succeeded in synthesizing biologically active RNA, but he started his process with existing viral RNA and a specific enzyme from a virus.  When Spiegelman was asked if he had created life in a test tube, he replied humbly, "Only God can create life."

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