The Origin of life by MD Kjell J. Tveter

Since the Universe has a beginning, then everything in the Universe must also have a beginning. This means that life also has a beginning. In this presentation I will give a survey of our knowledge on this subject.

The origin of life.

Even when we look at the definition of life we meet the enormous emotions involved. NASA is the leading center for space research, including a department for Astrobiology searching   for life in Cosmos.  NASA is dedicated to an evolutionary explanatory model for life. Finding extraterrestrial life will be taken as proof  that life will originate spontaneously when the physical conditions are appropriate without the need of a Creator.

In the Western world the prevailing view is that life has originated just by itself. Atoms joined to form molecules. Molecules reacted with other molecules, making more complex chemical structures possible. These complex structures formed the basis for the first primitive life. During the Earth´s age of some billion years, conditions for life must have existed at least once, according to this view. This story is presented as a scientific fact. And this is the lesson the average pupil is taught. This is what journalists write. They have so often written that the problems regarding the origin of life are now been solved, that the average man in the street believe their story. Charles Darwin proposed that life might have emerged in a warm little pond through chemical processes involving ammonia, phosphates and other organic compounds. His ideas have influenced people´s way of thinking for almost 150 years.

I have to give you some background information before we try to answer the question: How did life originate?

Scientists have for more than 60 years tried to synthesize life in the lab. They have not succeeded. Thousands of people have been involved, and the brightest brains. They have spent large amounts of money. They have had access to the most sophisticated equipment and the best laboratory facilities. At the present all theoretical pathways have been explored, and it is apparently no more possibilities to investigate. Hence, it is possible that the major view among scientists today might be cosmic panspermia. This means that life did not originate on Earth, but was transported to Earth as stardust, by comets and asteroids.  We realize that Science has no answer how life originated. To push the question into Cosmos, gives no answer. We may then ask: How did life originate in the Universe? You do not answer a question by asking a new question!

There is no purpose giving an overview of all the various experiments that have been performed and their theoretical reasons and backgrounds. Suffice to emphasize that despite an impressive scientific workload, scientists today realize that the problem of life´s origin is enormously bigger than anticipated. This research has given answers to some questions. More importantly, however, is the steadily increasing number of new unanswered questions this research has put forward. The field of molecular biochemistry has revealed that the answer to life´s origin has to be found at the molecular level. And this research has not presented any clue. Nobody has succeeded in making life in the laboratory. That is one reason for establishing a center for Astrobiology. These scientists are obsessed by the idea of self-generation of life. When all possible alternatives have been investigated on Earth, they now focus on Cosmos.

We have to say a few words regarding possibility and impossibility. What is impossible can never occur in our universe. Even if something is theoretically possible, it may be improbable. Feasable is what in practice can be done. The French scientist Emile Borel set the limit for what is feasible at 10-50. Dembski is a famous name within the Intelligent Design community. He has set this limit at 10-150.  My experience is that most people agree that something that is more seldom than 10-80 will never happen. The number of atoms in our visible universe is estimated to be 1080.. That is the number 1 followed by 80 zeroes. 10-80 is  0, ….followed by 79 zeroes before the number 1.

Professor Eugene Koonin is an evolutionist who is working with origin-of-life issues. He is a naturalist looking for a naturalistic explanation. Koonin solves this dilemma by suggesting that there are 101018 multiverses.  101018 is the number 1 followed by 1018 zeroes. We may wonder how is it even possible that intelligent people at all may propose anything like this. This number is so big that we have no idea of its very meaning. When we know that the number of atoms in the visible universe is 1080 we realize that there is something seriously wrong with Koonin´s proposal. I hope that you understand when a Creator is rejected some people may resort to the most incredible suggestions. To include God in their scientific worldview is absolutely excluded. God does not even exist as an idea in their consciousness. Then you should not be surprised that Intelligent Design faces severe opposition in these circles.

What is the reason that professor Koonin even suggests something so incredible and irrational? Koonin interprets the available data from the extensive research on origin of life such that life cannot have come into being by a gradual chemical evolution. This information demonstrates that so many specific substances and detailed conditions had to be present simultaneously that this far exceeds what is possible.

Therefore, he concludes that life had to be complete from the very beginning. It cannot have come into existence by evolution. All necessary genes had to be present at life´s origin. For this to happen his theory postulates an infinity of multiverses.

Some of you might have got the impression that the so-called RNA-world may be correct. RNA is a molecule that contains information. Some RNAs are protein-like and may serve as enzymes. And the idea was put forward that RNA could replicate itself. Many scientists postulate that a naturalistic explanation of life´s origin must start with self-replicating molecules. These molecules needed energy and supply of chemical substances to continue to make copies of themselves. This led to the emergence of compounds that in the end gave rise to the nano-machinery of life, according to the theory. However, the RNA- world is a hypothesis based on several assumptions and no evidence. In addition, some of the preconditions for the RNA-world are not compatible with our knowledge of molecular biology, and can simply never happen. Therefore, this theory is today rejected by leading scientists in this field.

What do we know about the possibility that proteins may arise spontaneously before life existed? A protein made up by 150 amino acids is a relatively small protein, most proteins consist of 300-400 amino acids. Calculations indicates that proteins of this size can never  arise on their own. The possibility is 10-164. If you mark one of the sand grains in the desert of Sahara, 10-164 is equal to finding this sand grain with blinded eyes, not one but three times!

We understand that people who do not believe in a Creator are seeking for a naturalistic explanation. They have to resort to reactions taking place in matter. In this series of programs I want to emphasize the distinction between life and non-life. Life needs the information in the DNA to exist. Non-life does not contain DNA. Therefore non-life can never  be the precursor of life. The very prerequisite for explaining the origin of life is knowledge about the origin of DNA. The French scientist Pasteur (1822- 95) made the statement that only existing life may give rise to new life. And his axiom has never been rejected, and is in reality the prevailing view, although it is not accepted or regarded as such.

I would like to introduce you to professor James Tour at Rice University in USA.  I recommend that you go to YouTube to listen to and viewing his presentations! He is one of the world´s leading scientists on the synthesis of organic compounds. He works at the nano level of chemistry. He has even made a nano-car complete with four wheels. He does not buy the substances he uses in his experiments. He produces them from scratch. He has therefore detailed knowledge of the many difficulties involved in synthesis of organic compounds, like proteins, nucleic acids and sugar. He has found severe flaws in articles written by leading scientists, so that published papers had to be withdrawn.

Professor Tour has a clear and distinct message: Life consists of four major building blocks: Proteins, nucleic acids, lipids and carbohydrates. None of these substances could arise spontaneously on the primitive Earth before life existed. That is a molecular biochemical impossibility. Regarding spontaneous formation of carbohydrates he claims that there is no scientist who has any idea of how this could be possible. Nobody knows where to start and the path to follow. The synthesis of new substances demands detailed knowledge about all steps involved. It takes long time even for experienced scientists to master the biochemical intricacies. Without this knowledge no successful synthesis will take place.

I have to mention what we may call handedness. The technical term is chirality.  If you expose a biochemical solution to polarized light the light will deviate either to the right or to the left. All biological sugars deviate to right, and are called D-forms. L-form sugars are not compatible with life. Proteins consist of amino acids. All biological amino acids deviate the light to left, and are called L-form.  D-amino acids are not compatible with life. An equal amount of L- and D- form is called racemic. There is no naturalistic scientist or evolutionist who is able to give a scientific explanation of how this selection of the right chirality can take place, and how it is a characteristic feature of life.

Even if we had all building blocks of life, information and knowledge would be required to put the pieces together correctly. According to professor Tour nobody knows where to start and which pathway to follow. You do not get a house by having a pile of bricks. The workers have to know how to do their work correctly! Without a competent labor force no complicated structures could be formed. And the simplest cell is far more complicated than anything we humans have ever made!

The famous British scientist Sir Fred Hoyle regarded the chances of spontaneous formation of life to be equivalent to a hurricane blowing through a pile of airplane parts being able to make a Jumbo Jet. Sir Hoyle found this possibility to be 1o-40.000. That  means it will never be possible.

Finishing remarks:

I have demonstrated evidence that life could not come into being just be itself. An intelligent mind is needed for such a huge task. You have to understand that when I postulate that naturalistic means are insufficient for a specific purpose, I indirectly claim that an intelligence is required.