Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design
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Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

This is my personal virtual library, where i collect information, which leads in my view to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation of the origin of the physical Universe, life, and biodiversity

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Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Origin of life » The Origin of Life - Abiogenesis - Dr. Jack Szostak

The Origin of Life - Abiogenesis - Dr. Jack Szostak

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alright. Lets have a look at the arguments made in the video.

the early pre-biotic earth was filled with organic molecules, the building blocks of life.

No Viable Mechanism to Generate a Primordial Soup.

According to conventional thinking among origin-of-life theorists, life arose via unguided chemical reactions on the early Earth some 3 to 4 billion years ago. Most theorists believe that there were many steps involved in the origin of life, but the very first step would have involved the production of a primordial soup -- a water-based sea of simple organic molecules -- out of which life arose. While the existence of this "soup" has been accepted as unquestioned fact for decades, this first step in most origin-of-life theories faces numerous scientific difficulties.

In 1953, a graduate student at the University of Chicago named Stanley Miller, along with his faculty advisor Harold Urey, performed experiments hoping to produce the building blocks of life under natural conditions on the early Earth.1 These "Miller-Urey experiments" intended to simulate lightning striking the gasses in the early Earth's atmosphere. After running the experiments and letting the chemical products sit for a period of time, Miller discovered that amino acids -- the building blocks of proteins -- had been produced.

For decades, these experiments have been hailed as a demonstration that the "building blocks" of life could have arisen under natural, realistic Earthlike conditions,2 corroborating the primordial soup hypothesis. However, it has also been known for decades that the Earth's early atmosphere was fundamentally different from the gasses used by Miller and Urey.

The atmosphere used in the Miller-Urey experiments was primarily composed of reducing gasses like methane, ammonia, and high levels of hydrogen. Geochemists now believe that the atmosphere of the early Earth did not contain appreciable amounts of these components. UC Santa Cruz origin-of-life theorist David Deamer explains in the journal Microbiology & Molecular Biology Reviews:

This optimistic picture began to change in the late 1970s, when it became increasingly clear that the early atmosphere was probably volcanic in origin and composition, composed largely of carbon dioxide and nitrogen rather than the mixture of reducing gases assumed by the Miller-Urey model. Carbon dioxide does not support the rich array of synthetic pathways leading to possible monomers...3

Likewise, an article in the journal Science stated: "Miller and Urey relied on a 'reducing' atmosphere, a condition in which molecules are fat with hydrogen atoms. As Miller showed later, he could not make organics in an 'oxidizing' atmosphere."4 The article put it bluntly: "the early atmosphere looked nothing like the Miller-Urey situation."5 Consistent with this, geological studies have not uncovered evidence that a primordial soup once existed.6

There are good reasons why the Earth's early atmosphere did not contain high concentrations of methane, ammonia, or other reducing gasses. The Earth's early atmosphere is thought to have been produced by outgassing from volcanoes, and the composition of those volcanic gasses is related to the chemical properties of the Earth's inner mantle. Geochemical studies have found that the chemical properties of the Earth's mantle would have been the same in the past as they are today.7 But today, volcanic gasses do not contain methane or ammonia, and are not reducing.

A paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters found that the chemical properties of the Earth's interior have been essentially constant over Earth's history, leading to the conclusion that "Life may have found its origins in other environments or by other mechanisms."8 So strong is the evidence against pre-biotic synthesis of life's building blocks that in 1990 the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council recommended that origin-of-life investigators undertake a "reexamination of biological monomer synthesis under primitive Earthlike environments, as revealed in current models of the early Earth."9

Because of these difficulties, some leading theorists have abandoned the Miller-Urey experiment and the "primordial soup" theory. In 2010, University College London biochemist Nick Lane stated that the primordial soup theory "doesn't hold water" and is "past its expiration date."10 Instead, he proposes that life arose in undersea hydrothermal vents. But both the hydrothermal vent and primordial soup hypotheses face another major problem.

organic molecules are common in space.

might be. But they are not 100% homochiral, which is essential.

early life must have been extremely simple.


― Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis

To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometers in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity.

To create the first living cell, following steps are needed :

assembly of boundary membranes
• formation of energy capturing capabilities by the boundary membrane
• encapsulation of macromolecules (like proteins, RNA, and DNA) within the boundary membrane
• introduction of pores into the boundary membrane that can funnel raw materials into the interior space
• production of systems that allow the macromolecules to grow
• generation of catalysts that speed up the growth of the encapsulated macromolecules
• provision for the macromolecules to replicate
• introduction of information into one set of macromolecules that directs the production of other macromolecules
• development of mechanisms to cause the boundary membrane to subdivide into two smaller systems that can grow
• production of the means to pass information-containing macromolecules to the daughter products of the subdivision process

life in its bare minimal form requires genes that control DNA replication, cell division, protein synthesis, and assembly of the cell membrane. Minimal life also depends upon genes that specify at least one biochemical pathway that can extract energy from the environment

The prebiotic environment contained many fatty acids :

The cell membrane is made of specific proteins.

Fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) are members of a highly conserved family of proteins with the task of protecting a cell's delicate lipid balance.

To manufacture proteins, cells follow a very systematic procedure that first transcribes DNA into mRNA and then translates the mRNA into chains of amino acids. The amino acid chain then folds into specific proteins. So in order to sinthesize membrane proteins , you need a fully functioning cell nucleus, which in order to be able to function, needs the cell membrane, which protects it. That is a irreducible complex system.

The origin of primitive membranes is one of the more neglected fields in origin of life research. Although fatty acids can be produced under early earth conditions, they are quite resistant to assembly under conditions under which they are generated. In addition, these membranes fail to provide a reasonable mechanism for nutrient/waste transport or any way to produce a proton gradient, so that any "proto-cell" generated would soon die from an inability to use energy.

The prebiotic environment contained hundreds of types of different nucleotides, all it took was one to polymeryze.

In order a molecule to be a self replicator , it has to be a homopolymer, of which the backbone must have the same repetitive units; they must be identical. On the prebiotic world, the generation of a homopolymer was however impossible.

That lead Leslie Orgel to say :

It would take a miracle if a strand of RNA ever appeared on the primitive Earth.


Protocell Research: on the Verge of. . . a Dead End

Protocell Research: on the Verge of. . . a Dead End
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *

Harvard Medical School scientists believe they are closer to creating life out of non-living matter—but there are good reasons to doubt it.

Molecular biologist Jack Szostak and his team are building “simple cell models that can almost be called life,”1 according to an online report. They hope these “protocells” made from fatty molecules will trap precursors to nucleic acids and hold them long enough for these chemical precursors to begin to copy themselves. Such replication is thought to have jump-started the evolution of life. In a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Szostak published his work on the special membranes he believes could have been involved in this process. 

Though considered “as close as anyone has ever come to turning chemicals into biological organisms,”1 this whole endeavor has immense hurdles to clear before it can demonstrate the possibility that life spontaneously generated from non-life. Here are just a few of the obstacles that, presuming the absence of God, natural processes must have overcome to create Szostak’s protocell:

   IF neo-Darwinian evolution, which is supposed to involve nature selecting whole organisms from within a population, applies to raw chemicals, and

   IF the first cell membrane was not made with phospholipids like all modern living cells, but instead with fatty acids, and

   IF there was a nutrient-filled ocean on an early earth, and

   IF those nutrients contained just the right “precursor” chemicals,3 and

   IF those nutrients were optically purified (which science shows cannot happen without machines),4 and

   IF those precursors could eventually morph into the chemicals of real life: DNA, RNA, proteins, vitamins, cholesterols, and certain carbohydrates (although chemistry has shown this is not possible without machines),5 and

   IF those nutrients were highly concentrated in a small area, despite forces that would lead to their diffusion, and

   IF fatty acids could spontaneously generate in a watery soup, and

   IF the nutrient concentration coincided with a floating fatty acid bubble, and

   IF the ocean had the proper pH required to form “vesicles” (bubbles assembled from the fatty acids to serve as containers for the new cells), and

   IF the temperature in that ocean fluctuated precisely to disrupt the bubble’s integrity, permitting nutrients into (but not out of!) itself, and

   IF oxygen, free radicals, other harmful chemicals, ultraviolet light, electricity, or any physical motions were not there to disrupt the delicate concoction, and

   IF the high temperatures required to induce the bubble to assimilate small RNA-like bits, did not also break the precursors down before they “figured out” how to replicate or at least maintain themselves,6 and

   IF the small-sized oily vesicles that formed spontaneously were to somehow expand, providing adequate internal space to house biochemical precursors, yet without losing structural integrity,

   THEN we would have a chemical-containing bubble that is as close to a living cell as a desktop globe is to planet earth.

In short, the latest science has given us no reason to doubt a 48-year-old statement given by an honest scientist: “The physical chemist, guided by the proved principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, cannot offer any encouragement to the biochemist, who needs an ocean full of organic compounds to form even lifeless coacervates.”6

Despite naturalistic claims, life is not simply the product of randomly accumulated chemical debris. A living body and a non-living body may share the same chemical make-up, but only one is alive. Life contains specific structures, as well as an encyclopedia’s worth of non-repeating information that provides the genetic instructions needed to sustain that life. Moreover, we consistently observe that these attributes simply do not arise naturally. Chemicals cannot create life—they can only maintain the life that is already present. Life is ultimately a gift of God.7

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