You’ve gotta have faith?
The tenets of evolution have come under fire due to advances in science and now Darwinian evolution does not even get past the first hurdle. It seems ironic that it takes a leap of faith to be an atheist, writes CB Rogers
November 22, 2010 Edition 1
The teaching of evolution and, in particular, human evolution is becoming an issue in our schools.
Hopefully it will not reach the level of conflict that is raging in the US, where creationists are demanding that “intelligent design” by a creator supplant the teaching of evolution.
As a devout Darwinist and ardent atheist for 40 years (up until five years ago), I would have considered the teaching of any form of creationism at our schools as pure nonsense.
In my student days, Darwinian evolution and atheism were the only reasonable and intellectually sound “faiths” to have.
All this changed five years ago when a young doctor challenged me to prove evolution was fact. As starting literature, she gave me Ralph Muncaster’s book, A Skeptic’s Search for God, where he started by investigation abiogenesis, the origin of first life. The book was a revelation and I was disappointed to find that evolutionary biologists/chemists had made zero progress in explaining how first life (the first living, reproducing cell) began – they had no clue.
Muncaster argued that this first living cell either started by a chance, random, natural process (evolution), or by some sort of purposeful, supernatural, intelligent design (creationism). There was no third way. His premise was simple: if it could be proved that life originated by chance, there would be no reason for an intelligent designer; if not, there had to be some form of God.
What I discovered was that there was more chance of life in reptilian form arriving by flying saucer from outer space than for some form of single-cell creature self-assembling by chance from a primordial soup and, for the first time in 40 years, I had to consider the possibility of an intelligent designer.
When Darwin published his great work 150 years ago, it was at least a hundred years before the sciences of micro/cellular biology, bio- and organic chemistry would provide an insight into some of the secrets and complexities of the cell. Among other things, the DNA molecule, the complexity of the genome and the rigorous statistical analysis that could have shown the flaws in his theories of chance origin and macroevolution were still in the future. Had he had access to all this information, his great theory might have been quite different.
In brief, Muncaster used statistical analysis and the five logical steps outlined below to prove it impossible to produce the first living cell by random chance.
It cannot be explained how simple compounds such as amino acids would, by chance, not only form, but condense into larger protein chains and RNA (ribonucleic acid) and DNA in the harsh environment of the “primordial soup”.
How would billions of individual components “know” when to arrive?
What are the chances that DNA, with more than 3 billion base pairs distributed among the 46 chromosomes, along with ribosomes, the mitochondria, plus all the other complex substructures such as the Golgi apparatus, would know how to randomly fit in such a tiny space in just the right way and at just the right time?
The first fossils appeared 3.5 billion years ago, consequently the first living cell had to be older; at that time Earth would have been a hot, hostile place. “How would the cell’s surface (including the cytoskeleton) ‘know’ to somehow cover the cell to protect it” from these destructive elements?”
How would the DNA “kick-start” into life without being programmed?
Evolutionists argue that with infinite time anything is possible; give a monkey a typewriter and it must eventually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare. This is no longer valid now that an age of 15 billion years has been estimated for the universe. Still, the estimated 4.5 billion years for the age of the Earth seemed sufficient time for molecules to “get lucky” and form the first DNA, RNA and protein molecules and from them the first bacterium. But probability calculations carried out by a number of scientists showed incredible odds against this time being sufficient.
To quote just two examples:
British astronomer and mathematician Sir Fredrick Hoyle calculated and said that: “?the likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40 thousand zeros after it. It is enough |to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution.”
And agnostic microbiologist, Dr Michael Denton, on the minimum protein development, calculated that: “To get a cell by chance would require at least 100 functioning proteins to appear simultaneously in one place.
“This is 100 simultaneous events, each of an independent probability, which could hardly be more than 10-20, giving a maximum combined probability of 10-2 000.”
These figures are mind boggling, but, as an organic chemist, the clincher for me was the question of chirality in the formation of the cellular constituents – amino acids (all L-forms) and nucleotides (all D-forms). A description of chirality is beyond the scope of this article, but it is to do with the highly specific manner in which molecules link together in cell components. Suffice to say that the issue raised by chirality placed the odds for the random beginning of first life at essentially zero.
It is obvious then that naturalistic evolution of first life is statistically impossible and it then follows that it required an “intelligent designer”; Darwinian evolution does not even get past the first hurdle.
As each tenet of evolution comes under fire, it seemed ironic that it has been advances in science that are responsible.
As intelligent design gains credibility, one now needs faith to be an atheist.