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How Did Life Began?

How Did Life Began?

People with a mind-first philosophy believe that man was created by an intelligent designer. The Bible says that God created man and woman. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7). Man was created dead and then God breathed life into him with a soul and spirit that will live throughout eternity.

The matter-first philosophy says this could not have happened because there is no God. We will examine their claims and then we will look at the evidence supporting the mind-first philosophy which involves the eternal God as the Creator.

The most common matter-first philosophy explanation of the origin of life is the Primordial Soup Theory. This theory suggests some 3.5 billion years ago that amino acids spontaneously came into being in a pond or ocean as the result of the combination of chemicals in the atmosphere and some energy source. Amino acids are considers the building blocks of proteins. From protein molecules, the cells were created and from these simple amino acids all of the complex forms of life evolved.

In 1984, The National Academy of Science published a booklet “Science and Creationism”. In that booklet (pp.16) they listed a general time table for the evolution of all life.

    1. Microbial (procaryotic cells) appeared 2.7 billion years ago.

    2. Complex (eucaryotic cells) appeared 1.4 billion years ago.

    3. First multicellular animals appeared 670 million years ago.

    4. Shell-bearing animals appeared 540 million years ago.

    5. Vertebrates (simple fishes) appeared 490 million years ago.

    6. Amphibians appeared 350 million years ago.

    7. Reptiles appeared 310 million years ago.

    8. Mammals appeared 200 million years ago.

    9. Nonhuman primates appeared 60 million years ago.

    10. Earliest apes appeared 25 million years ago.

    11. Australopithecine (dentally similar to humans) ancestors appeared 5 million years ago.

    12. Homno spiens sapiens (modern humans) appeared 50,000 year ago.

As we have earlier indicated, this timetable is contrary to the arguments regarding a young earth. We should also note that even the fossils records do not support this timetable.

In 1950, chemist Stanley Miller and physicist Harold Urey did a famous experiment to test the Primordial Soup Theory. They mixed gases thought to be present on primitive earth: methane, ammonia, water, hydrogen together. Note: no oxygen was present.

“They then electrically sparked the mixture to signify lightning. The results were amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. It was later discovered that other energies also can excite gases and produce all 20 amino acids.” The announcement was then made to the world that man had created life in the laboratory.

There are a number of problems with this theory. The first is that amino acids have to become protein and amino acids do not spontaneously create protein. Some scientists have also argued that not all of the elements used in the experiment were available in the early atmosphere. “Experiments with true atmospheric gases did not produce abundant amino acids.” One example is the presence of oxygen which could have changed the results. Another, problem is that the whole evolutionary process violates the second law of thermodynamics, which states that systems become less and less organized over time. For amino acids to form protein spontaneously, they must become more and more organized over time. Also, the Primordial soup was too diluted to accomplish the desired results which means the amino acids cannot form protein spontaneously.

Present day studies of molecular biology and the structure of the living cell reveal that the cell is a very complex manufacturing plant. This is a closed system, when directed by DNA, the proteins are used to manufacturing amino acids and DNA. The amino acids are then chained together to build new proteins. It has also been stated that the probability of life developing through the evolutionary process is about the same as a tornado moving through a junk yard and creating a modern 747 airliner. It just does not happen!

When we observe the complexity of life and its ordered structures, we see the handiwork of an intelligent designer. About 30 years ago, I addressed this question in a manuscript. The following is quoted from that manuscript.

“The breadth and depth of the creation staggers our imagination, but we are just as overwhelmed when we look at the details of His life support systems. God took some little atoms and combined them with others in a different way to form living molecules which we call cells—the basic element of life. The human body contains sixty trillion of these little cells—grouped together in many different ways to perform all of our life functions. They come in different shapes and sizes, but each and every one carries the complete blueprint to rebuild us. Each cell contains twenty-three pairs of chromosomes —twenty-three from each of our parents. These chromosomes contain the genes, the basic units of our inheritance. There are hundreds of genes in each of our chromosomes. They establish a blueprint for us with instructions as to the color of our eyes and hair, the texture and color of our skin, and the length of our arms, legs, fingers and toes. They determine thousands other details that we don’t even know.”

“Remarkably, there are only two kinds of human cells that live without conforming to the twenty-three pair rule. There are only twenty-three individual chromosomes in our egg cells and sperm cells. When an egg is fertilized, the new offspring will receive a set of twenty-three chromosomes from each parent. The fertilized cell will divide again and again until there are over two trillion complete cells at the time the child is born. Each and every one of these cells contain the complete blueprint for the physical characteristics of the new person.”

“The process of creating, from a single cell, the complex, interactive system of parts that make up a new person is truly a phenomenal achievement. As each stem cell divides, it is programmed to become a part of a brain, a heart, a lung, a kidney, an arm, a foot or some other part that is necessary for the completion of the final product. All the members of our bodies are so well connected and coordinated that they provide life to the whole person, however, if these members are separated, they will soon die. The psalmist said, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Ps.139:14).”

“We stand in awe as we grasp the details of His creation, however, our finite minds cannot comprehend all of it. Medical science is still trying to understand the mysteries of our bodies. The human mind simply does not have the ability to comprehend the breadth and depth of His creation. Yet, there are some people who say it all fell into place by accident.”

Over thirty years have passed since I wrote those words and today we marvel at the advances science has made in the study of DNA and molecular biology. In 1953, James Watson and Francis Crick successfully mapped the DNA structure. However, it has taken many years to acquire this present knowledge. We now know that DNA is so unique in a person that it is now accepted as proof of identification in criminal cases. Many previously convicted innocent men and women have been released from prison based upon non-matches of DNA collected at the crime scene. These tests were not available at the time of their trial. At the same time, matches of DNA have solved many other old crimes. Just as with the fingerprint, each of our DNA structure is unique. Our DNA structure is in many ways equivalent to a very complex computer program.

In fact, according to Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell, the entire cell structure is a very complex integrated computer system. “DNA stores the assembly instruction for building the many critical proteins and protein machines that service and maintains even the most primitive one-celled organisms. It follows that building a living cell in the first place requires assembly instructions stored in DNA or some equivalent molecule.” The cell is made up of four major components, DNA, RNA, protein molecules and a protein building machine (itself a protein). Proteins make up half the dry weight of a cell, whereas other macromolecules such as DNA and RNA make up only 23%.

A Michigan State University web site gives the following definition of protein. “Proteins, from the Greek proteios, meaning first, are a class of organic compounds which are present in and vital to every living cell. In the form of skin, hair, callus, cartilage, muscles, tendons and ligaments, proteins hold together, protect, and provide structure to the body of a multi-celled organism. In the form of enzymes, hormones, antibodies, and globulins, they catalyze, regulate, and protect the body chemistry. In the form of hemoglobin, myoglobin and various lipoproteins, they affect the transport of oxygen and other substances within an organism.”

Wikipedia adds this statement. “The best-known role of proteins in the cell is as enzymes, which catalyze chemical reactions. Enzymes are usually highly specific and accelerate only one or a few chemical reactions. Enzymes carry out most of the reactions involved in metabolism, as well as manipulating DNA in processes such as DNA replication, DNA repair, and transcription.”

Proteins are manufactured in the cell by a protein-building machine, which was previously made by protein molecules, under the direction of genetic code, which was stored in DNA. “DNA consists of two long chains of nucleotides twisted into a double helix and joined by hydrogen bonds between the complementary bases adenine and thymine or cytosine and guanine. The sequence of nucleotides determines individual hereditary characteristics.”

Dr. Stephen C Meyer, in his book, gives us a very detailed description of how DNA, RNA and proteins are related. The following is a summary of Dr. Meyer’s description along with some of his quotes. He says that the DNA is a very complex computer program and compares it to computer programs which direct the processing in our computers. Humans who are intelligent designers write computer programs.

Computer programs are created using a binary coding format. By using a different combination of the numerals “zero” and “one” within an eight place grouping called a byte, 256 numbers, alphabetic characters and specials characters or symbols can be expressed. Programmer code uses letters, numerals, alphabetic characters, etc. which are converted to the binary code by the computer. If we have any computer knowledge, we know that the byte is also used for electronic storage such as a memory or a hard disk drive. These devices can store huge amounts of information. Size is expressed in megabytes (1 million), gigabytes (1 billion) or terabytes (1 trillion) and other multiplies of a thousand. All of this can be done using only two characters, the “zero” and the “one”. We all know that instructions stored in the programs and information stored as data just did not happen by chance. Have we ever seen a book that was written spontaneously?

Now, I want to compare the coding within the computer programs with the coding within the DNA molecule. The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion of these bases. As we can see, by using the characters A, G, C and T in various permutations (in permutations the sequence is important), trillions of instructions are stored. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining the cell structure similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences. There could be any number of permutations and it is these permutations that make our DNA unique. The only function of the DNA is to store all the information that is needed to build the protein that is stored in our cells. How did this information get there—by random chance or not?

The next step is the manufacturing of the protein molecule. This takes place in the protein-building machine which is itself a unique protein. The DNA is unzipped and instructions are copied to the RNA which serves as message carrier. By a process, which is called transcription, the RNA moves to the protein building machine. The protein molecule is built under the instruction, which is now in the RNA, by combining, in various combinations, twenty unique amino acids into a long string just as beads are strung together. These strings are of various lengths. The largest proteins consist of a string of 27,000 amino acids. These amino acids are of different shapes and all must fit together very tightly. After the amino acids have been strung together, according the instruction in the RNA, they are then folded into a three dimensional globular or fibrous form facilitating a biological function. If amino acids are not properly sized then the chain will not fold and the amino acid is rejected. This process is repeated for each of the types of proteins manufactured.

The proteins then have the ability to replicate new DNA chains with all its genetic code. It also has the ability to built new protein machines. As we can see the entire process is a closed system. The whole process reminds me of some of our modern assembly plants where complex computer programs direct the robotics machines to build our custom made cars. Which came first the DNA or the protein? The whole process provides evidence of an intelligent designer. We need to keep in mind that the whole process is much more complex than I described it. However, it follows the same processing steps and this gives us an idea of how precise and accurate our marvelous intelligent designer actually was and is.

Now, let us take a look at stem cells. Stem cells are the body’s master cells that have the ability to create new cells types which can build any of our body parts. A Mayo Clinic web site gives the following description. “Stem cells are the body’s raw materials —cells from which all other cells with specialized functions are generated. Under the right conditions in the body or a laboratory, stem cells divide to form more cells, called daughter cells. These daughter cells either become new stem cells (self-renewal) or become specialized cells (differentiation) with a more specific function, such as blood cells, brain cells, heart muscle or bone. Stem cells are unique—no other cell in the body has the natural ability to generate new cell types.”

“People who might benefit from stem cell therapies include those with spinal cord injuries, type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and multiple sclerosis. Stem cells could also be grown to become new tissue for use in transplant medicine.”

Source: Mayo Clinic.

The news media recently reported a major medical breakthrough, when a new esophagus was created for a man in the laboratory. The medical team used a computer to map the man’s esophagus and then construct an inorganic esophagus from a mesh like material to give it shape. The man’s own stem cells were placed in the mesh and they grew into a new organic esophagus. The new esophagus was then used to replace the man’s old diseased esophagus. Since it was made from the man’s own cells, there was no rejection.

Now, we want to look at what holds all our cells together within our bodies. It is called a Laminin. Wikapedia defines a Laminin as “a family of proteins that are an integral part of the structural scaffolding of basement membranes in almost every animal tissue”. They are cell adhesion molecules. If our bodies did not have them, we would literally fall apart. It is amazing that this connective tissue is in the shape of a cross. Were we created by an intelligent designer or not? To the mind-first people, the answer is “yes”. To the matter-first people, the answer is “no”. The particular assumption is based upon whether or not they believe there is a God.

“According to modern neo-Darwinists such as Oxfords’ Richard Dawkins, living systems give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose. But to Dawkins and other contemporary Darwinists that appearance of design is entirely illusory” (Signature in the cell, pp 4).

“When Watson and Crick discovered the structure and information bearing properties of DNA, they did indeed solve one mystery, namely, the secret of how the cell stores and transmits hereditary information. But they uncovered another mystery that remains with us to this day. This is the DNA enigma—the mystery of the origin of the information needed to build the first living organism” (Signature in the cell, pp 14).

Now before going to the next section, you may want to watch the following video featuring Dr. Stephen G. Meyer. ( See Video.)