|Feature Article - October 2004|
|by Do-While Jones|
If there were a National Evolution Month, it would be October because the end of October is when there is so much emphasis on strange mutant creatures and dead things coming to life.
In the United Stated, many children went back to public schools in September. Despite the fact that scientists don’t how it could possibly happen, many students will be taught that somehow, proteins became people. Non-living chemicals must have assembled themselves into some primitive form of life, like slime mold.
Since it would certainly take a miracle for someone to change water into wine, it would take an even greater miracle for nothing at all to change water into slime. Yet this miraculous transformation is said to be “scientific”, not “religious.”
The water-into-slime miracle is the most troublesome part of the theory for evolutionists to explain. The change from amino acids, proteins, and sugar molecules into any kind of life, no matter how low, is much greater than the change of one kind of life to another. Every election year, those of us who live in the United States are reminded of how much more difference there is between sugar molecules and slime than there is between slime and people running for office.
So, going back to school, Halloween, and political campaigns, make us think more about evolution than we normally would at other times of the year. In particular, the thought of the dead coming to life (either to frighten people or to vote for them), should make us think more seriously about evolution. Hence, October really ought to be National Evolution Month.
Some evolutionists object to including the origin of life in the theory of evolution. That’s because they know they can’t have it both ways. On one hand, they want to argue that since microevolution (that is, variation in species) is true, “evolution is a fact.” They act as if the proof of any one thing described as “evolution” proves the truth of all other things that are called “evolution.”
Modern scientific investigation of the claim that life originated from an unknown, natural, unguided process, shows that the notion of “chemical evolution” is completely absurd. So, evolutionists must either argue that the disproof of one kind of evolution doesn’t disprove any other kind of evolution, or they must argue that chemical evolution isn’t really part of the theory of evolution. (The author of this month’s email tries to make the second argument.)
The idea that life originated by chemical evolution suffers from two problems which we categorize as “hardware” and “software”.
The hardware problem is the one that has been studied in greatest detail, primarily for historic reasons. Except for the work done by Babbage, Turing, and Ada, not much was known about computer programming (that is, software) or information science until the last half of the 20th century. Calculators were purely mechanical in up until the early 20th century. Hardware was all there was. Software is a recent invention.
Given that background, one can understand why Stanley Miller’s famous 1954 experiment was entirely hardware-oriented. He thought that if he put the right chemicals together (that is, if he assembled the right hardware), life would happen.
Now, it is well known why the right molecules could not assemble themselves into all the necessary organic compounds in the presence of oxygen. It is also well known why the right molecules could not assemble themselves into the necessary compounds in the absence of oxygen. If all the chemicals needed for life can’t originate in the presence of oxygen, and can’t originate in the absence of oxygen, the only logical conclusion is that all the chemicals needed for life can’t originate naturally under any conditions. The hardware just won’t come together by any natural accidental process for known chemical and thermodynic reasons even if the impossibly slim odds bring them all together.
Twenty-first century scientists know so much more about all the complex processes that go on inside a living cell that the 19th century idea of a “simple cell” is laughable. A cell isn’t just a membrane surrounding some protoplasmic jelly. Cells contain dozens of parts that most people can’t even pronounce, which are necessary for respiration and reproduction. Cells are remarkably complex pieces of hardware.
How gullible would you have to be for me to convince you that all the hardware in my computer came together by pure chance, without any conscious design involved? You may or may not know much about computers, but you certainly know something about luck. You know that my computer was not the result of a lucky, random congregation of parts.
Living cells are even more complex than the computer on my desk. My first computer had just 16,000 bytes of memory. The 512 megabyte memory in my current computer is 32,000 times bigger. Just think about that for a minute. The computer I have today has as much memory as 32,000 Horizon North Star computers. I could not put 32,000 Horizon North Stars in my office. Yet this little HP Pavilion has that much memory, and fits easily on my desk.
But a single human DNA molecule has about 3 billion base pairs. Each base pair has four possible values, so one human DNA molecule can hold 750 megabytes. That is equivalent to 1.5 times the memory in my current computer, or 48,000 times the memory in my first computer. Not only that, one DNA molecule is a lot smaller than any computer I’ve ever owned!
So, every single cell in your body contains about the same amount of memory as a modern desktop computer. Every cell in your body has all the hardware necessary to read that memory and use that information to build the things it needs to continue to function.
Some of the things it builds are the things that read the information in the DNA molecule. So, there is a chicken-or-egg problem at the molecular level. The cell needs information from the DNA molecule to tell it how to build the machinery that reads information from DNA molecules.
We don’t want to get into a deep metaphysical discussion about what life is. The essence of life is an elusive concept that is difficult to grasp, so let’s stay at the Forrest Gump level and note that there are many similarities between life and software.
It is no accident that we use the term “virus” to describe something that “infects” a computer. A virus will make a computer “sick”, perhaps to the point that the computer “dies.” We use all these metaphorical terms because a computer is, in many ways, like a living thing.
It isn’t enough to have all the computer hardware wired together properly. You have to load software into the computer make it work. Software is what brings the computer to life.
When you buy a computer today, it usually comes with the software all loaded, and ready to run. It wasn’t always so. I am old enough to remember the days when I had to use front panel switches to enter the Bootstrap Loader program into a PDP-11/20 computer. All this short program could do was to read a paper tape containing the Absolute Loader program into memory. The Absolute Loader program could read the program I really wanted to run into memory and execute it. It all started with me entering the Bootstrap Loader, which allowed the computer to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps.” Today, when your computer “dies,” you have to “reboot” the computer. You have to execute the little Bootstrap Loader program that someone stored in Read Only Memory (ROM) to reload your computer's software.
Here is the problem evolutionists have: Even if you do get all the right organic chemicals together in the right proportions, how do you get them to come to life? Assembling organic chemicals is like assembling the components for a computer; but just as the computer hardware won’t run without software, the organic chemicals won’t “run” without life. The organic chemicals need to be programmed to process energy, grow, and reproduce.
Even if Dr. Frankenstein correctly assembles dead body parts, the parts won’t come to life because all he has is hardware. The dead goldfish floating in your aquarium has all the amino acids, proteins, sugars, enzymes, etc., of a living goldfish. The hardware is all there. But just having all the hardware does not bring the goldfish to life.
When your computer dies, all the hardware is still there. The hardware won’t come back to life until you reload the software.
Evolutionists don’t have a way to get all the hardware assembled properly to form a dead cell. But even if they did, they would still have another problem. They don’t have any way to bring that dead cell to life. They don’t have any way to load the software into a dead cell that makes the cell function. (If they did, mortuaries would go out of business.)
Living cells aren’t just chemicals. They are cells plus information about what to do with those chemicals.
A floppy disk with a program on it doesn’t weigh any more than a blank floppy disk. You can’t see the program on the floppy disk. Information is weightless and invisible, but it is essential for functionality.
A living cell doesn’t weigh any more than a dead cell. You can’t see the life in a cell. Life is weightless and invisible, but it is essential for functionality. We don’t claim to know exactly what life is, but we do recognize that information is a necessary (though intangible) ingredient to life.
Evolutionists don’t have a Bootstrap Loader that will read life into a dead cell. That is, they have no way to get information into the DNA molecule. Since they don’t know how it happened, they claim (without proof) that the information got there by random chance.
Electical engineers, especially those who work with radio signals, are particularly aware of the relationship between information and random processes. They think in terms of “signal-to-noise ratios.”
“Signal” is the information in a communication channel. It is the voice or music on the radio station you are listening to. “Noise” is random fluctuations in the signal. Radio noise comes from power lines, electric motors, lightning, cosmic radiation, and thermal effects. If the signal is much stronger than the noise, then you can hear the radio station clearly.
As you go farther from the radio station, the signal strength decreases while the amount of noise remains the same. Eventually, the noise becomes strong enough that you notice the random changes it makes to the signal. You know from personal experience that noise causes information to be lost. You can’t always understand what the announcer says if there is lots of noise. You have never listened to a weak radio station and found that random noise added pleasing harmony or new lyrics to the song. Noise never adds information.
The DNA in people, penguins, and petunias, contains different information. Where did that information come from? The theory of evolution requires that random changes (noise) created all this information. But noise does not turn into signal all by itself. Random changes to DNA sequences do not increase information content any more than static caused by a lightning storm adds information to a news broadcast.
The science of information theory says that the presence of information is the result of an intelligent source, not chance. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project is looking for signals from outer space containing information because that will be proof of intelligent life outside our solar system. If scientists believed that communication signals from outer space could be the result of random processes, and not intelligent life, then there would be no reason to look for signals from outer space.
The theory of evolution is a non-starter because there is no way for life to begin naturally. The probability that all the required chemicals would be found next to each other randomly is less than the probability that all the parts of a computer would come together accidentally.
Even if you did get all the chemicals (or computer components) assembled together properly, you need some way to put the “software” in them and start them running. Evolution doesn’t have a way to do that.
The molecules-to-man theory of evolution can’t get past the molecules-to-living-cell part of the process. The theory of evolution, as generally taught in public schools, and on public television, is contrary to modern scientific knowledge.
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