ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.

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Can random unguided events by chance explain the emergence of a finely tuned universe, and life?

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Can random unguided events by chance explain the emergence of a finely tuned universe, and life?


Claim: the origin of life is overwhelmingly improbable, but as long as there is at least some chance a minimal proteome to kick-start life arising by natural means, then we shouldn’t reject the possibility that it did.
Reply: Chance is a possible explanation for the various finely tuned parameters and constants required to have a life-permitting universe, and a minimal genome, proteome, metabolome, and interactome to emerge by stochastic, unguided means, and as consequence, the origin of life, but it doesn’t follow that it is possible, and necessarily the best explanation. Here is why.

What is the maximal number of possible simultaneous interactions in the entire history of the universe, starting 13,7 billion years ago? 
There have been roughly 10^16 seconds since the big bang.  There is a limit to the number of physical transitions that can occur from one state to another within a given unit of time. A physical transition from one state to another cannot take place faster than light can traverse the smallest physically significant unit of distance. That unit of distance is the so-called Planck length. Therefore, the time it takes light to traverse this smallest distance determines the shortest time in which any physical effect can occur. This unit of time is the Planck time of 10 minus 43 seconds. Based on that, we can calculate the largest number of opportunities that any physical event could occur in the observable universe since the big bang. Since all 10^80 elementary particles can interact with each other simultaneously maximally 10^43 per second, since there are a limited number of elementary particles, and since there has been a limited amount, that is,10^16 seconds since the big bang, there are a limited number of opportunities for any given event to occur in the entire history of the universe.

The maximal number of possible simultaneous interactions in the entire history of the universe, starting 13,7 billion years ago, can be calculated by multiplying the three relevant factors together: the number of atoms (10^80) in the universe, times the number of seconds that passed since the big bang (10^16) times the number of possible simultaneous interactions of all atoms per second (10^43). This calculation fixes the total number of events that could have occurred in the observable universe since the origin of the universe at 10^139.  This provides a measure of the probabilistic resources of the entire observable universe.
There are about 10^80 atoms in the observable universe. Thus, if the odds of having a specific outcome had been 1 in 10^80, we could have said that’s like finding a specific atom marked red among all the particles in the universe.
The odds to have an interactome ( finding a functional set of about 1300 proteins in bacteria P.Ubique, the smallest known life-form, and interconnecting them to become functional) is 10^725600. The probability is 725520 orders of magnitude (or powers of ten) smaller than the probability of finding the marked particle in the whole universe. Another way to say that is the probability of finding a functional interactome of P.Ubique by chance alone is 725537 times a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion times smaller than the odds of finding a single specified particle among all the particles in the universe. And the problem is even worse than this. More typical proteins have hundreds of amino acids. I used an average of 300 amino acids to calculate the odds. But, for example, the typical RNA polymerase—the large molecular machine the cell uses to copy genetic information during transcription, has over 3,000 functionally specified amino acids.  The Ribosome had to be fully operational when life began. The bacterial ribosome consists of three rRNA molecules and approximately 55 protein components that must be put together in an intricate and tightly regulated way. Formation of the ribosome involves a complex series of processes, i.e., synthesis, processing, and modification of both rRNA and ribosomal proteins, and assembly of the components. The quality of the particle must also be checked and the amount of active ribosomes monitored. All of these events must be tightly regulated and coordinated to avoid energy losses and imbalances in cell physiology. The small subunit is made of 1,542 nucleotides) and 21 ribosomal proteins (r-proteins), while the large subunit is composed of two rRNAs, 23S (2,904 nucleotides) and 5S (120 nucleotides) rRNA, and 33 proteins.  The probability of producing the ribosome alone by chance would be trillions of orders smaller than the maximal number of possible simultaneous interactions in the entire history of the universe, starting 13,7 billion years ago.

We can calculate the odds that a minimal functional proteome would arise by unguided random natural events, not considering all other essential things to get a first living self-replicating cell.

Mycoplasma is a reference to the threshold of the living from the non-living, held as the smallest possible living self-replicating cell. It is, however, a pathogen, an endosymbiont that only lives and survives within the body or cells of another organism ( humans ).  As such, it IMPORTS many nutrients from the host organism. The host provides most of the nutrients such bacteria require, hence they do not need the genes for producing such compounds themselves. It does not require the same complexity of biosynthesis pathways to manufacturing all nutrients as a free-living bacterium.

Pelagibacter unique bacteria are known to be the smallest and simplest, self-replicating, and free-living cells. Pelagibacter genomes (~ 1,300 genes and 1,3 million base pairs ) devolved from a slightly larger common ancestor (~2,000 genes). Pelagibacter is an alphaproteobacterium. In the evolutionary timescale, its common ancestor supposedly emerged about 1,3 billion years ago. The oldest bacteria known however are Cyanobacteria,  living in the rocks in Greenland about 3.7-billion years ago.  With a genome size of approximately  3,2 million base pairs ( Raphidiopsis brookii D9) they are the smallest genomes described for free-living cyanobacteria. This is a paradox. The oldest known life-forms have a considerably bigger genome than Pelagibacter, which makes their origin far more unlikely from a naturalistic standpoint.  The unlikeliness to have just ONE protein domain-sized fold of 250amino acids is 1 in 10^77. That means, to find just one functional protein fold with the length of about 250AAs, nature would have to search amongst so many non-functional folds as there are atoms in our known universe ( about 10^80 atoms).   We will soon see the likeliness to find an entire functional of genome Pelagibacter with 1,3 million nucleotides, which was however based on the data demonstrated above, not the earliest bacteria....

Pelagibacter has complete biosynthetic pathways for all 20 amino acids.  These organisms get by with about 1,300 genes and 1,3 million base pairs and code for 1,300 proteins.  The chance to get its entire proteome would be 10^722,000.  The discrepancy between the functional space, and the sequence space, is staggering.

  ( To calculate the odds, you can see this website: https://web.archive.org/web/20170423032439/http://creationsafaris.com/epoi_c06.htm#ec06f12x

Steve Meyer: Signature in the Cell, chapter 10: Taking this into account only causes the improbability of generating the necessary proteins by chance—or the genetic information to produce them—to balloon beyond comprehension. In 1983 distinguished British cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of producing the proteins necessary to service a simple one-celled organism by chance at 1 in 10^40,000 . At that time scientists could have questioned his figure. Scientists knew how long proteins were and roughly how many protein types there were in simple cells. But since the amount of functionally specified information in each protein had not yet been measured, probability calculations like Hoyle’s required some guesswork. Axe’s experimental findings suggest that Hoyle’s guesses were pretty good. If we assume that a minimally complex cell needs at least 250 proteins of, on average, 150 amino acids and that the probability of producing just one such protein is 1 in 10^164 as calculated above, then the probability of producing all the necessary proteins needed to service a minimally complex cell is 1 in 10^164 multiplied by itself 250 times, or 1 in 10^41,000.


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