The Chances of a Protein Forming
Allow the soup that nature disallows. Millions of amino acids in the soup, hundreds of different kinds, roughly half of them in a left-handed form and half right-handed. Would the amino acids now connect up in long chains to make proteins? Would only the 20 kinds needed be selected by chance out of the hundreds of kinds in the soup? And from these 20 kinds, would chance select only the left-handed forms found in living organisms? And then line them up in the right order for each distinctive protein and in the exact shape required for each one?7 Only by a miracle.
A typical protein has about one hundred amino acids and contains many thousands of atoms. In its life processes a living cell uses some 200,000 proteins. Two thousand of them are enzymes, special proteins without which the cell cannot survive. What are the chances of these enzymes forming at random in the soup—if you had the soup? One chance in 1040,000. This is 1 followed by 40,000 zeros. Written out in full, it would fill 14 pages of this magazine. Or, stated differently, the chance is the same as rolling dice and getting 50,000 sixes in a row. And that is for only 2,000 of the 200,000 needed for a living cell.8 So to get them all, roll 5,000,000 more sixes in a row!
By now I felt that I was beating a dead horse. But I continued. Assuming that the soup did give us proteins, what about nucleotides? Leslie Orgel of Salk Institute in California has indicated nucleotides to be “one of the major problems in prebiotic synthesis.”9 They are needed to make the nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), also called an overwhelming difficulty. Incidentally, proteins cannot be assembled without the nucleic acids, nor can nucleic acids form without proteins.10 It’s the old riddle in chemical garb: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
But let’s set that mountain aside and have evolutionist Robert Shapiro, professor of chemistry at New York University and a specialist in DNA research, dispose of the chance formation of nucleotides and nucleic acids in early earth’s environment:
“Whenever two amino acids unite, a water molecule is released. Two molecules of water must be set free in assembling a nucleotide from its components, and additional water is released in combining nucleotides to form nucleic acids. Unfortunately, the formation of water in an environment that is full of it is the chemical equivalent of bringing sand to the Sahara. It is unfavorable, and requires the expenditure of energy. Such processes do not readily take place on their own. In fact, the reverse reactions are the ones that occur spontaneously. Water happily attacks large biological molecules. It pries nucleotides apart from each other, breaks sugar-to-phosphate bonds, and severs bases from sugars.”11
The final step of the six listed at the outset: a membrane. Without it the cell could not exist. It must be protected from water, and it is the water-repellent fats of the membrane that do this.12 But to form the membrane a “protein synthetic apparatus” is needed, and this “protein synthetic apparatus” can function only if it is held together by a membrane.13 That chicken-and-egg problem all over again!
Molecular Biology Sounds Its Death Knell
The evolutionists’ dream was discovery of a supersimple first living cell. Molecular biology has turned their dream into a nightmare. Michael Denton, specialist in molecular biology, sounded its death knell:
“Molecular biology has shown that even the simplest of all living systems on earth today, bacterial cells, are exceedingly complex objects. Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10−12gms, each is in effect a veritable micro-miniaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the nonliving world.
“Molecular biology has also shown that the basic design of the cell system is essentially the same in all living systems on earth from bacteria to mammals. In all organisms the roles of DNA, mRNA and protein are identical. The meaning of the genetic code is also virtually identical in all cells. The size, structure and component design of the protein synthetic machinery is practically the same in all cells. In terms of their basic biochemical design, therefore no living system can be thought of as being primitive or ancestral with respect to any other system, nor is there the slightest empirical hint of an evolutionary sequence among all the incredibly diverse cells on earth.”14
Not surprising, then, that Harold Morowitz, a Yale University physicist, has calculated that the chances of getting the simplest living bacterium by random changes is 1 in 1 followed by 100,000,000,000 zeros. “This number is so large,” Shapiro said, “that to write it in conventional form we would require several hundred thousand blank books.” He charges that scientists committed to the chemical evolution of life ignore the increasing evidence and “have chosen to hold it as a truth beyond question, thereby enshrining it as mythology.”15
One scientist specializing in cell biology says that millions of years ago “just a single cell could make weapons, catch food, digest it, get rid of wastes, move around, build houses, engage in sexual activity straightforward or bizarre. These creatures are still around. The protists—organisms complete and entire, yet made up of just a single cell with many talents, but with no tissues, no organs, no hearts and no minds—really have everything we’ve got.” She speaks of a single cell percolating with “those hundreds of thousands of simultaneous chemical reactions that are life.”16
What an unbelievable maze of chemical traffic within the confines of a microscopic cell, yet without a traffic jam! Obviously, this demands a Master Designer of supreme intelligence. The information content coded into a speck of DNA weighing “less than a few thousand millionths of a gram” is enough “to specify an organism as complex as man.”17 Even the information content of a single cell, “if written out, would fill a thousand 600-page books.”18 How awesome! Intelligence far beyond our powers of comprehension is an absolute must to start life on earth.
My conclusion after all of this: Without the right atmosphere, no organic soup. Without the organic soup, no amino acids. Without amino acids, no proteins. Without proteins, no nucleotides. Without nucleotides, no DNA. Without DNA, no cell that reproduces itself. Without a covering membrane, no living cell. And without intelligent design and direction, no life on earth.
But scientists have rendered a great service to believers in creation. Their discoveries about life are a powerful reinforcement of my faith in creation, and I now read with deepened appreciation Romans 1:20, 21, 28: “Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity—however invisible—have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse . . . They made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened . . . In other words, since they refused to see it was rational to acknowledge God, God has left them to their own irrational ideas and to their monstrous behaviour.”—The Jerusalem Bible.
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Which Came First?
The egg comes from a chicken, but the chicken comes from an egg
Proteins can’t form without nucleic acids, but nucleic acids can’t form without proteins
A membrane can’t form without a protein synthetic apparatus, but this apparatus can’t form without a membrane
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Hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions are happening simultaneously in each living cell—without a traffic jam!
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The information in a single cell would fill a thousand 600-page books