Month: October 2010

What are the Odds?

Evolution is a word that, in Christian circles, stirs up deep contentions. So much so that most pastors would rather ignore the issue of creation rather than risk the inevitable, divisive controversy. Why is this the case? At face value, it seems as if science and scripture are almost totally at odds about the origins of life. If a pastor embraces biblical creation, aren’t they just inviting ridicule from unbelievers and closing doors to the gospel? Maybe.

Since I’m not one to shy away from controversy, I thought I’d offer a small argument in favor of creation. This argument relies on a little bit of science and a little bit of logic; Both lie just at or above the layman’s level. Please feel free to add your own comments as you feel appropriate.

DNAThe logic of the argument arose organically while I was defending Christian theism on YouTube (as I often do). It goes like this:

1) According to the theory of Naturalistic Evolution, the first creatures on this earth were simple; They had a small amount of DNA (relatively speaking) and few moving parts.

2) Today, there are many complex creatures in the world; They have large amounts of DNA and many interacting, interdependent, moving parts.

3) In order to get from a simple creature to a more complex creature, as is obvious, copious amounts of functional (protein coding), instructional and structural DNA must be added to a creature’s genome.

4) The only known means to create this new genetic information is mutations, where, for one reason or another, a creature’s current genetic information gets altered, extended or both to create a novel function.

5) Although mutations occur in cells throughout a creatures life, only mutations that are passed on are relevant to evolution.  Mutated cells that die without being passed on are irrelevant.

6) Therefore, unless a mutation occurs in the reproductive organs or in a very, very early stage of fetal development, they are pointless in terms of evolution.

So it isn’t just mutations that urge on Naturalistic Evolution via Natural Selection, it’s mutations that occur in the reproductive areas to the DNA that is used to create a baby. Now, what are the odds that any random shuffle of reproductive DNA will contain a mutation? What are the odds that the mutated DNA will be among the fortunate few used to create a baby? What are the odds the mutation will be both beneficial (or neutral) and contain new information?

Considering the number and eggs a woman has and the mind-numbing number of sperm a male produces in his productive years, these numbers are already infinitesimally small. Wait, it gets better.

RNAIn a similar way, in order for a creature to pass on an information adding, beneficial or neutral mutation to a significant number of the other members of the species (so as to become fixed), the population must be small and, on most occasions, inbreeding must occur. At this point, the odds are getting very, very, very small. So small that, in fact, it would almost seem impossible.

Add to this the fact that DNA contains a “language” of sorts that is read and interpreted to create proteins and you can see where I’m going with this. There’s a reason why famous agnostic/atheist Anthony Flew rejected pure atheism in favor of his own flavor of deism in 2004: The sheer volume of both coincidences and serendipitous situations that must occur for a single high order creature to arise from a lower level one border on the a number that suggests the miraculous.

Now, let’s wrap all this up with some great Naturalistic Evolutionary science.

Since it’s nearly impossible to make DNA work as a first source of life, an alternative hypothesis has been suggested. In this hypothesis, DNA was not necessary at all, instead RNA (which carries copied DNA information to protein creation machines) functioned as both a catalyst and carrier of information; DNA wasn’t necessary because the RNA both stored information and allowed it to be copied into proteins. Ingenious, right?

So where did RNA come from? Simple. Enter the ironically nick-named “garbage bag” theory. Oily or metal oxide membranes formed in water. Huge numbers of random polymers just happened to be floating around (what a coincidence). Since the membranes allowed small polymers in and kept large polymer chains from leaving (how serendipitous) longer and longer chains formed. Other substances destructive or distracting to this process were somehow kept out of the process (it’s a miracle in the ancient seas) and among the polymers there were a variety of monomer sequences available. Then, some mysterious means to amplify the number of polymer chains containing certain catalytic properties came along (this miracle is apparently not of God) which caused the RNA to fold up and start to do something (rather than just do nothing).

Yeah … I’m convinced. How about you?