email - November 2001

Four Protein Correction

When we err on the side of evolutionists, they don't complain!

Science Against Evolution was formed on May 16, 1996. On September 5, 1996, we opened for business by placing our first ad in the Swap Sheet. Two weeks later, we ran the “EVERYONE KNOWS LIFE HAPPENS” ad. That ad contained a serious error. Now five years later, someone finally brought it to our attention.

Dr. Timothy Standish of the Geoscience Institute wrote to tell us:

By the way, I noticed what I think may be an error in one of your Swap Sheet Ads entitled, "EVERYONE KNOWS LIFE HAPPENS" It says, "experiments have produced just 2 of the 4 necessary proteins necessary for life." This is news to me. As far as I can tell, nothing like what we would call a real protein has been produced using a prebiotic soup type situation. In any case, life requires many more than 4 proteins. Current estimates, based on the Mycoplasma genitalium genome put the minimum genome necessary for life at about 300-400 genes each of which codes for a protein. Life, even at its most simple, is still mighty complex!

What was I thinking? Unfortunately, five years ago, I wasn’t as careful to document sources as I am today. I found a note in which an undocumented evolutionary source had claimed that in 1974, Stanley Miller was able to produce the “proteins” adenine and guanine, but failed to produce cytosine and thymine. Adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine aren’t proteins. They are the four bases in the DNA molecule. But I was so focused on the “half-empty or half-full” perspective that I didn’t even stop to think that the bases aren’t proteins. I was more interested in the idea that two of the four required building blocks could not even be produced in the laboratory under ideal (possibly impossible) “natural” conditions.

Apparently some more recent experiments may have produced all four bases.

Juan Orowin, in 1961, took some of the materials that were produced in the Miller experiments and he took hydrogen cyanide, one of these compounds produced, along with ammonia and left out the aldehyde. So he kind of organized the experiment in a certain way. He produced some amino acids but he also got some adenine, one of the nitrogen containing bases. Later experiments by him and others were actually able to produce the other nucleic acid bases. 1

I wrote to apologize to Dr. Standish, explaining my error, and he wrote back,

I think of the four bases, cytosine is the sticking point when it comes to generating it using Miller-Urey type conditions. The problem is that not all reports are clear on this. Any way you slice and dice the chemical evolution thing, "experiments" that have been done generating this or that chemical are generally irrelevant to the real problem, which is generation of novel genetic information. Making the bases is merely making the letters to spell out the genetic information. Jonathan Wells wrote about this very well in Icons of Evolution.

We agree that evolutionists face an insurmountable problem when it comes to the origin of genetic information, and that Jonathan Wells’ book is excellent. But there is yet another problem that Wells doesn’t address.

Automobiles are made by natural processes. By that we mean that they are made by people like Henry Ford, not wizards like Harry Potter. No magic power is employed in their construction. No laws of physics are violated. Every step of the manufacturing process is governed by natural law. But the fact that many people have built automobiles using methods available to anyone who isn’t even an apprentice wizard does not prove that automobiles can occur spontaneously in nature without any conscious intent.

When you think about it, you will realize that it is impossible for any laboratory experiment that involves active participation of goal-seeking scientists to prove that a predetermined output can occur apart from conscious effort. It is clearly illogical to say that if an intelligent scientist designs a situation that produces an object, it proves that object can be produced in the absence of an intelligent designer. Yet evolutionists seem to be saying that the reason why nobody has designed an experiment that shows how life can begin without an intelligent designer is that the designers haven’t been intelligent enough.

The only way one could prove that automobiles are naturally-occurring phenomena would be to observe them forming in nature all by themselves.

Let’s take a simpler example. One could grow icicles in a laboratory by allowing water to drip onto a piece of wood suspended above the floor in a very cold room. That would prove that icicles can form under those conditions, but it doesn’t prove that they do form naturally that way (even though they really do form naturally). The only way you can prove icicles occur naturally is to observe them appear on the twigs of trees (or in some other natural environment) without any manipulation by any conscious, living thing.

The fact that one can manufacture a few of the molecules required for life in a laboratory does not prove that those molecules naturally assemble themselves in nature. It only shows you a set of conditions under which organic molecules might naturally assemble themselves. That, in turn, tells you what natural environment would be a good place to look to see if they actually do assemble themselves.

Going back to the icicle example, the laboratory experiment tells you that icicles can form when cold water slowly accumulates on something cold that has some open space below it. So, to see if icicles form naturally, you need to look in cold places where water is present. The laboratory experiment saves you the futility of looking for icicles in the desert on a hot, dry afternoon.

The real value of Stanley Miller’s classic experiment is that it tells us where to look (and where not to look) for the spontaneous formation of living creatures. It tells us that life cannot form anywhere there is free oxygen. That would be as futile as looking for icicles in the desert on an August afternoon. It tells us that some organic molecules might form where there is a high concentration of methane and ammonia. So, scientists should be going to the county dump, examining the thousands of disposable diapers there, to see if life naturally occurs in that environment.

Louis Pasteur is justifiably famous for disproving the spontaneous generation of life. But Stanley Miller deserves even more credit for extending Pasteur’s work by showing exactly why life cannot form spontaneously. Once the theory of evolution is finally discarded by the entire scientific community, perhaps the real meaning and importance of Stanley Miller’s work will be truly appreciated.

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Footnotes:

1 http://www.accessexcellence.org/bioforum/bf02/awramik/bf02a2.html