The mystery of life... How did life begin? I shall make the surprising statement that there is no such thing as living matter, and touch upon this statement later. We are led to believe that the first life was some amoeba in pond scum or protoplasm.
When the electron microscope looked into the living cell it showed that each cell is complex beyond human comprehension, with millions and billions and literally trillions of bits and tiny pieces, each performing the right operation at exactly the right moment, interacting precisely with other bits and pieces....
In the nucleus of the cell is the prodigiously complex nucleic acid or abbreviated as - DNA. Duplicate copies of this long tape of coded information are coiled up in each of the 100,000,000,000,000 (one hundred trillion) cells in your body. You have 46 segments of DNA in most of your cells. You received 23 segments from your mother and 23 from your father. DNA contains the unique information that determines what you look like, much of your personality, and how every cell in your body is to function throughout your life.
If the 46 segments of DNA in one of your
cells were uncoiled, connected, and stretched out, it would be about 7
feet long. It would be so thin that its details could not be seen, even
under an electron microscope.
However, if all the DNA in your body were placed end-to-end, it would stretch from here to the moon more than 500,000 times! If all this very densely coded information were placed in typewritten form, it would completely fill the Grand Canyon 50 times!
The chromosomes carry the genes, and the genes hold the master code which determines the whole individual, be it plant, animal or man, defining its looks and his character.
The DNA manufactures a messenger, RNA, on which is imprinted a copy of the master code. The messenger goes forth carrying a copy of the code and is captured by a rider cell. The rider cell then examines the copy of the code. Somehow it just selects a small part of the code needed for designing a particular protein and it ignores the rest of the code. Then the rider cell calls an enzyme over to help. The enzyme obliges by supplying energy, and the rider cell starts to build a new protein. It follows the code and actually builds the pre-designed protein.
For its building blocks, it uses amino
acids. Now, of course, I have over simplified the whole incredible
operation. But you can see that the amino acid building blocks are only a
humble part of the grand process. This brings me back to the statement;
there is no such thing as living matter. In the cell all those bits and
pieces are separate units working precisely together, but not themselves
Similarly, life is a quality which coheres to the total cell. Suppose from a living cell we extract any structure. Suppose we extract a rider cell or any other protein or even some DNA. We will find that such structure, when separated from the total organised cell, is nothing more than an organic molecule - a lifeless molecule. Whatever life is, life coheres to the organised cell, the complete cell.
In the fantastic processes
within the cell, amino acids are nothing more than humble building blocks
used by the master builder, and this has to be kept in mind. When Dr.
Miller demonstrated that amino acids could be made by natural chemistry,
it was made to appear that the mystery of life was nearly solved. Doctor
Miller took a mixture of various gases - ammonia, methane and water vapor.
which he said represented the atmosphere of the primitive Earth. He put
these gases in a flask and passed electric sparks through them which
represented flashes of lightning. Various residues were formed including
some amino acids. Here were amino acids formed by natural processes. The
evolutionists got extremely excited. They began to make it known that
ideas of the supernatural could now be disregarded. From now on it would
be assumed that life began when a flash of lightning hit a most fortunate
group of molecules. This propaganda can be challenged on several accounts.
1. The Earth's atmosphere almost certainly, at any time, never in any way resembled Millers mixture.
2. Even presuming an atmosphere like Millers, without free oxygen, if any amino acid had been formed on Earth it would have been immediately destroyed by cosmic rays. Without oxygen there would have been no protection from the deadly rays.
3. Finally, a most intriguing rebuttal. Amino acid molecules can either be left handed or right handed. The second law of thermodynamics requires an equal ratio of right handed and left handed molecules. Miller's amino acids were a law-abiding lot; a mixture of left and right handed molecules. But here is the catch - Life breaks the law. In living cells the amino acids are all left handed and left handed only. Never a right-handed molecule! If you ate a right hander the body would reject it. The living cell breaks the unbreakable natural law.
Life must then go beyond the natural law. This point is doubly proved by death. At death the natural law takes over. The amino molecules start to rearrange themselves until they get an equal ratio of right and left handed molecules, in the cell from which life has departed. Suppose we say that Miller's experiment showed that amino acids are easy enough to make. We should also say that they are only the humble building blocks, for making a complete complex molecule - a protein. Then we should go on to say, what are the mathematical odds against one protein molecule forming by chance?
Well, here are the odds from Swiss mathematician Doctor Guy.
If we could imagine unlimited material shaking itself together over vast time, so that the material fully interacted. The odds against one protein molecule forming would be one to the one hundred and sixtieth power to one against.
The time required to shake the material
together on our planet, would be, in years, ten to the one hundred and
forty third power.
Other protein things would have to drop out of the mixture and join this lonely protein. Things like ribosomes and enzymes, to name a few, and even some DNA. And, of course, a membrane would have to drop out and envelop the lot to make one cell. Now that is a lot of assembling and dropping out. I don't believe this could happen by blind chance, and I don't think you do either. I might mention furthermore that something would even yet be missing - an energy system. Our supposed first cell is without an energy mechanism, to collect sunshine and turn it into chemical energy. That would mean a specialized cell inside the first cell. A specialized cell to do the special business of photosynthesis. Something so complex that it still remains a mystery to science.
Could blind mindless chance do all this. I can assure you that many good scientists reject the idea of life happening by chance. Professor Mortram phrased it nicely, "proteins are dead things, and it is only when the spirit of life breathes on them that these dry bones live."
For your reassurance let me summarise progress. Science with its genius and equipment has not made one speck of life in the laboratory. It's put together some organic molecules and even two small proteins. That is not life. In 1970, a doctor Kourana built a gene. He began with complex compounds and he copied a gene from a yeast cell. A most tremendous achievement, but it is not life.
In that same year, 1970, one of the most
eminent men in science, Sir Ernst Chain, fellow of the Royal Society,
(who, for his work on penicillin had received the Nobel prize jointly with
Fleming), said, "the laboratory synthesis of even the simplest
cell is just not on, and the notion that man is about to compete with God
is absurd, and not to be taken seriously."