Saturday, January 5, 2008

Origin of Life – Problems; Post No. 1

I love the picture below, the one with a magnet in front of a car. I am told that this idea was actually patented some years ago. Can you guess why it doesn't work? The picture is fun, but it also raises one of man's eternal quests that he has pursued from the beginning of time: for a Perpetual Motion Machine. A Perpetual Motion Machine is one where no additional energy needs to be supplied, and so it's self-sustaining. But no one has ever discovered such a machine. So no matter how strong the magnet is, the force that the magnet exerts upon the car is exactly canceled by the force that the car exerts upon the magnet. There is no extra energy created by putting the magnet in front of the car.


 



 

In case my picture doesn't show up in my blog, it can be seen at: http://www.theory-of-evolution.net/chap10/self-replicating-RNA-perpetual-motion-4.php


 

So what does the Magnet Car have to do with the problem of the origin of life on earth? They both violate the same law – the law of conservation of energy. The theory that science uses in explaining the very first living/self-replicating cell that is believed to have existed some 4 billion years ago is that life arose simply and developed more and more complicated over time. To do this, the theory goes an RNA molecule arose which was both the code for the cell along with a catalyst. The RNA can act like the DNA's code in its instructions to the other components of the cell. It also can act as a catalyst to speed up the cell's chemical reactions. The great advantage of this theory is that it does not have to explain how something as complicated as DNA was created from simple chemicals, water and rock. But there are many problems with the RNA first model, and one of them is that it is essentially a Perpetual Motion machine, like the Magnet Car.


 

RNA doesn't have a means to allow it to use the sun's energy. I like the way author Stuart Pullen describes the problem for usable energy in the RNA came first theory. The RNA first model looks at the sun and forces like lightning, and suggests that these are the forces that could be used by the first RNA molecule to let it become "alive" (life for a cell I use as meaning that it can divide by itself and grow, or another term is self-replicate.) Author Pullen describes the problem as follows: "Consider a man and his car with no gas in the desert. The man is not concerned. He knows that … he has an unlimited supply of energy in sunlight. He theorizes that after the car absorbs enough sunlight, (the car) will suddenly start and he can drive home. His theory is flawed because his car does not know how to use the energy from the sun to perform useful work, and 5 billion years will not solve his problem." Stuart Pullen, 'Intelligent Design or Evolution', p. 135 (2005).


 

Thus, science's theory of some sort of a simple living/self-replicating RNA first molecule cannot work unless there is a supply of energy for the molecule, and a way to use and implement this energy. Otherwise, the RNA first molecule will just be a car in a desert trying to absorb sunlight. And so, any living cell must know how to couple to an energy source and also be able to couple its replicating to a powerful energy source. If it is unable to do this, then it is simply another Perpetual Motion Machine, like the Magnet Car picture shown above. Life for an RNA molecule is not that simple. It takes the combination of all three elements of a cell to create life: DNA, RNA, and proteins all working together. Therefore, if the very first living cell is this complicated, and even the best theories in science fall woefully short, don't you agree that this is another example of evidence of design in the world that is around us?

3 comments:

edward oleander said...

"Therefore, if the very first living cell is this complicated, and even the best theories in science fall woefully short, don't you agree that this is another example of evidence of design in the world that is around us?"

No, it just means we have more research to do. As has been said before, lack of evidence for theory A is not the same as existing evidence for theory B. The only thing that discrediting one theory does is leave room to fill the resulting void with evidence of another theory. The scientific community awaits direct evidence of creationism.

It's interesting to note that when I began debating evolution almost 30 years ago, the same tactics were used by the creationists then. The only difference was that 30 years ago there were several fronts for the creationist to attack evolution on. Over the past three decades, most of those avenues of attack (ie dinos evolving into birds, the role of the wing, and the evolution of the eye) have been eliminated by new and convincing evidence. Nowadays, the focus is on the formation of the first replicating cell because that is one of the few areas creationists can still attack. Meanwhile, the Creation movement has offered up no new direct evidence for it's own theories. When the mystery of the cell is solved (as it will be, eventually), what will the fallback target be then?
~Ed~

edward oleander said...

"Consider a man and his car with no gas in the desert. The man is not concerned. He knows that … he has an unlimited supply of energy in sunlight. He theorizes that after the car absorbs enough sunlight, (the car) will suddenly start and he can drive home. His theory is flawed because his car does not know how to use the energy from the sun to perform useful work, and 5 billion years will not solve his problem."

This is a HUGE Straw Man fallacy. No proponent of evolution that I know of states that RNA could utilize the sun for energy directly. The sun however, drives all the mechanics that cause chemical reactions and thus produce substances that could have been used for "food" (or more succinctly "fuel") for the proto-cell.

The sun does make the car run, in a fashion... The sun fed the plants that fed the dinosaurs that died in the comet, that were covered by the sediments that squished them into oil that was refined into gasoline and pumped into the car by the friendly AAA driver who rescued our hapless motorist who was stupid enough to run out of said gas in the middle of a desert... perhaps the author of that book misunderstood (or misrepresented) what he leaned from the evolutionary biologists...?
~Ed~

tom wolff said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for taking a look at my discussion of science's problems in explaining how the first living cell was created. Let me first explain why I think this is important: I believe in something called "front-loading" of the first living cell. Front-loading means that the first cell had everything needed for life, and other parts that would be used for life as the cell evolved in future generations. So this is why it is important to learn whether the first living cell was only an RNA molecule (as most of science believes), or whether it contained DNA, proteins and RNA, similar to all of life's cells found today. If there was front-loading of the first living cell, I believe this points to a Designer.

I showed in my Post that science's theory that a lone RNA molecule was the first living cell was not possible because it did not have a mechanism to use any energy source around it.

You called this a "huge Straw Man" argument. It clearly is not. Whether or not the sun was the original energy source or whether it was sun induced chemical reactions, the point still stands - there is nothing within an RNA only cell that is a mechanism to tap and use this energy.

To show that I have used a Straw Man argument should be a simple matter for you: just explain what is contained in an RNA only living cell that is the mechanism that can use an energy source (whether it is the sun or chemical reactions. Of course, you cannot do this because this sort of mechanism (to store and use energy) in the cells we see today is made through both DNA and proteins. So my point stands and your claimed Straw Man argument is false.

Finally, your Darwin-of-the-Gaps argument that science will one day discover how life originated is silly. As we learn more and more about the complexity of the living cell, we discover more and more ways to show that life could not evolve on its own. There are all sorts of science articles showing the problems that the study of the Origin of Life is finding. You should review one before having such "blind faith" in science's ability to overcome this problem.