13 Jan 1994
THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
Robert C. Newman
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
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
-- 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."