Dallas’ Baylor University Medical Center surgeon Joseph Kuhn described three serious problems with Darwinian evolution in a paper titled “Dissecting Darwinism” for the school’s medical proceedings. He wrote that all textbooks must teach both the strenths and weakness of evolution.
The first weakness that Dr. Kuhn described in his paper is actually more than just a weakness—it is a deal-breaker for the proposal that purely natural processes could have brought forth living cells from mere chemicals. What keeps cells alive is the very non-natural information that resides within the molecules of life. These molecules have almost none of the randomness that natural processes always produce. In fact, when nature does overtake these molecules, they lose their vital information and the organism dies.
And the kind of information that DNA encodes is in the form of an all-or-nothing language system. Cell systems that use DNA have the same basic and irreducible features of any human language: symbols, specific meanings for each symbol, grammatical rules within which those individual symbols can be interpreted, message senders and receivers, and purposeful outcomes for the information communicated. This kind of information never comes from natural processes, but always from an intelligent person.
“Based on an awareness of the inexplicable coded information in DNA, the inconceivable self-formation of DNA, and the inability to account for the billions of specifically organized nucleotides in every single cell, it is reasonable to conclude that there are severe weaknesses in the theory of gradual improvement through natural selection (Darwinism) to explain the chemical origin of life. Furthermore, Darwinian evolution and natural selection could not have been causes of the origin of life, because they require replication to operate, and there was no replication prior to the origin of life.”
Even evolution’s most ardent advocate, Richard Dawkins, admitted in 2009 that “the most profound unsolved problem in biology is the origin of life itself.” But where Dawkins still believes a solution exists to this problem, Dr. Kuhn recognized that nature alone could not possibly produce life. But both admit that the origin of life is a problem for the nature-only view.
Perhaps the most difficult challenge for Darwinists to explain is the fact of life. They ask how non-living chemicals became the first living cell, but this question relies on two bad assumptions. A refreshing new idea from within the evolutionary community boldly confronts one of these, but it leaves the other bad assumption intact.
A novel approach to the question of life’s origin, proposed by two Arizona State University scientists, attempts to dramatically redefine the problem. The researchers – Paul Davies, an ASU Regents’ Professor and director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science, and Sara Walker, a NASA post-doctoral fellow at the Beyond Center – published their theory in the current issue of the Royal Society journal Interface. Their article is titled “The algorithmic origins of life.”
The authors shift attention from the “hardware” – the chemical basis of life – to the “software” – its information content. To use a computer analogy, chemistry explains the material substance of the machine, but it won’t function without a program and data. Davies and Walker suggest that the crucial distinction between non-life and life is the way that living organisms manage the information flowing through the system.
“When we describe biological processes we typically use informational narratives – cells send out signals, developmental programs are run, coded instructions are read, genomic data are transmitted between generations and so forth,” Walker said. “So identifying life’s origin in the way information is processed and managed can open up new avenues for research.”
“We propose that the transition from non-life to life is unique and definable,” added Davies. “We suggest that life may be characterized by its distinctive and active use of information, thus providing a roadmap to identify rigorous criteria for the emergence of life. This is in sharp contrast to a century of thought in which the transition to life has been cast as a problem of chemistry, with the goal of identifying a plausible reaction pathway from chemical mixtures to a living entity.”
Focusing on informational development helps move away from some of the inherent disadvantages of trying to pin down the beginnings of chemical life. “Chemical-based approaches,” Walker said, “have stalled at a very early stage of chemical complexity – very far from anything we would consider ‘alive.’ More seriously they suffer from conceptual shortcomings in that they fail to distinguish between chemistry and biology.”
“To a physicist or chemist, life seems like ‘magic matter,’” Davies explained. “It behaves in extraordinary ways that are unmatched in any other complex physical or chemical system. Such lifelike properties include autonomy, adaptability and goal-oriented behavior – the ability to harness chemical reactions to enact a pre-programmed agenda, rather than being a slave to those reactions.”
Why must evolution drive the supposed “transition” from disorder to specified, coded information in cells? The truth is that unintelligent evolution had no role in the origin of life. In fact, information science and physics have clearly demonstrated that the only way for new information to enter a physical system is from an intelligent source. But in the case of cells, that would have to be God, and God is not permitted in secular scientific discussions.
It is nice to see that a few secularists are willing to challenge the big, but bad, assumption that life is merely chemistry. But neither that nor the assumption that life must have come from nature is scientific or accurate. In fact, scientific observation leaves creation as the only viable explanation for life.
The minimum requirements for physical cellular life are vast in number, information rich, and precise in structure. Natural processes are not known to generate any of the kinds of molecular machines—many of which can manipulate specific, single atoms—that are required to sustain cells. Nor is there any plausible scenario yet imagined whereby the laws of chemistry and physics alone could manufacture the very mechanisms that enable living things to avoid the natural consequences of those laws—decay and diffusion.
The higher the number of specifications required for life, the lower the probability that life could have arisen through random, undirected forces. The actual number of specifications now known is so high that there is no reasonable doubt that life must have been engineered by a perceptive power that exists beyond natural laws. Since natural entities cannot account for life, a supernatural entity must.
Those who reject the Bible continue to research possible ways that nature could have generated a living cell. After almost a century of effort, and even using intricately designed experimental setups, they have met with total failure in producing even the most basic chemicals used as building blocks for the larger chemicals of living cells. Since God—not nature—made life, these evolutionary efforts will continue to fail.