Life from Dead Matter — Part 4
Miracle #2 – Living Organisms from Dead Matter
Part 4—Incomprehensible Complexity
This is the part four of the second “miracle” of atheism. These miracles are impossible, illogical assumptions. Atheism is founded on these four illogical assumptions. They are required or atheism does not work as a belief system. That’s why they are called the four “miracles” of atheism.
Miracle 1 — Existence from Non-existence
Miracle 2 — Living Organisms from Dead Matter
Part 1—Spontaneous Generation
Part 2—Complexity Produces Life
Part 3—Proof from Science
Part 4—Incomprehensible Complexity
Miracle 3 — Order from Chaos
Miracle 4 — The Immaterial (Transcendent Categories) from Materialism
Today let’s examine the incomprehensible complexity of organic life.
Did life arise from natural processes such as evolution? I don’t think so. My previous essay examined the failure of science to prove life arose by natural processes. If life did not come from natural processes, from where did life come? Did life come from supernatural processes?
Science has nothing to add to a discussion of supernatural or metaphysical events. Such discussions are beyond the realm of science. Yes, science is a very powerful tool for exploring and understanding the physical world but there are so many realms beyond the reach of science. Perhaps the origin of life belongs to one of those other realms.
One fact regarding life has been established—life requires extreme complexity at the atomic level. The Bible refers to this complexity as being “fearful” and “wonderful.” In Psalm 139: 13-14 (NAS) the Bible says:
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
Are natural processes in the world today capable of forming the macromolecules required for life? We know proteins and other macromolecules are needed to carry out the basic functions of a single cell. Are these molecules really that complex? Let’s look at some examples.
A World of Complexity
Let’s start with the basic building blocks for proteins—amino acids. Amino acids are those “little” molecules that got scientists so excited during the origin of life experiments back in the mid-twentieth century.
Amino acids have the same basic structure. One carbon atom (atomic symbol C) forms the center of the amino acid. This carbon atom is called the alpha carbon. It is surrounded by an amino group (H3N), a carboxyl group (COO), and a side chain called the “R” group.
The R-group differs from one kind of amino acid to another. For example, two of the simplest amino acids are glycine and alanine. These are two of several amino acids produced during the origin of life experiments. The R-group for glycine is a simple hydrogen atom. The R-group for alanine is a group called a methyl group (CH3).
Pretty simple so far, right? But from here the components of life become much more complex. Amino acids link together and form long strings. This link is something called a peptide bond. A protein is a polypeptide—a string of many amino acids linked by peptide bonds.
Proteins, especially the complex proteins required by life, contain strings of dozens of amino acids and peptide bonds. These strings of amino acids must be twisted and bent into extremely complex patterns. Let’s consider two examples of proteins found in the human body: the albumin protein and the immunoglobulin G protein.
Serum albumin is the most abundant blood protein in mammals. Albumin is produced in the liver. Albumin serves as a carrier for steroids, fatty acids, thyroid hormones, drugs, and medicines, distributing them throughout the body. Albumin also stabilizes fluid volume in the cells. This all-purpose, essential albumin molecule contains 585 amino acids!
How many atoms is that? Well, each amino acid molecule contains at least seven atoms. Seven times five hundred eighty-five amino acids comes out to almost 4100 atoms in one albumin molecule! These amino acids must be twisted into a precise pattern or the molecule does not work. Are we to believe this molecule was produced by the random collision of atoms? Ha!
The albumin protein is a dwarf compared to the immunoglobulin family of molecules. There are five different classes of immunoglobulins—IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. They are roughly Y-shaped molecules consisting of three equal-sized portions, connected by a flexible tether.
Antibodies are a major component of the human immune system. Immunoglobulins are the main type of antibody. These molecules can bind to an almost unlimited array of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, and fungi. In this way immunoglobulins protect our bodies from infection.
Each immunoglobulin molecule is made up of two heavy chains and two light chains joined by disulfide bonds. The light chains contain approximately 220 amino acids each and the pair of heavy chains contains around 440 amino acids each. This adds up to 1320 amino acids or at least 10,000 atoms in each immunoglobulin molecule. What is the chance this molecule was produced by the random interaction of atoms? There is no chance whatsoever.
The largest molecule in the body is the DNA molecule. The basic components of DNA are four nucleotides: cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine. The nucleotides form pairs: cytosine pairs with guanine and adenine with thymine. A strand of human DNA contains 3.2 billion nucleotide pairs.
You can do the math. At this point my feeble understanding or organic chemistry has reached its limit. However, it doesn’t take a Nobel Laureate to realize that a DNA molecule contains billions of atoms placed together in a precise sequence. Is there any possibility these molecules came together randomly by chance? There is no possibility this ever took place. Not in our universe. Not in a million lifetimes.
Evolution claims these molecules came together randomly. That fact by itself is ridiculous. But problems for the evolutionist don’t end there. Not only must these complex molecules form by chance, each molecule also must maintain its complex organization in a world filled with powerful destructive forces. How can a cell sustain this level of complexity?
What Holds a Cell Together?
Let’s pretend for a moment that the impossible happened. Let’s imagine that hundreds of amino acids came together in just the right order with just the right amount of bends and twists. And now a fully formed macromolecule displays itself right before our eyes (of course, we might have problems seeing it without a very powerful microscope). Wow! The impossible happened.
What happens next? Well, before an atheist can blink his eye the macromolecule starts to fall apart. Why? A macromolecule out on its own in the world cannot survive very long. It will break down into polymer strings and, eventually, back into amino acids. Water is one of the primary agents involved in its breakdown.
That doesn’t make any sense. Life cannot survive without macromolecules. Yet, obviously, macromolecules survive and life goes on. How could this be? If something as common as water can break macromolecules down, what hope is there that macromolecules will survive? How can life continue on this world? What holds these macromolecules together?
The cell. I’m not talking about a jail cell, of course. I’m talking about a living, microscopic single cell. Cells are the building blocks for all living things from trees to animals to people. And what are cells made of? Mostly macromolecules and water. Macromolecules dominate cell structure.
Each cell provides a protected environment for macromolecules. This protected environment is surrounded by the cell wall. Within these protected walls, macromolecules are produced and maintained.
Scientists have identified four groups of macromolecules: carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids. Molecules from each group can be found in most cells. Carbohydrates store fuel for future needs. Some lipids serve as components of the cell membrane. Nucleic acids (RNA and DNA) hold and copy hereditary information and provide instructions for making proteins.
Proteins have many different functions in the cell. Some proteins are compared to little machines that carry out specific functions in a cell. Other proteins, such as immunoglobulins and albumin, are manufactured in specific cells and then released into the bloodstream to perform their functions.
So, cells hold the macromolecules together. What holds the cells together? Could it be “life?” Cells seem to get along just fine—producing molecules, dividing to make new cells, correcting and repairing errors—until they die. And that’s when they begin to fall apart—after death.
Two classes of cell death within the human body are apoptosis and necrosis. Apoptosis is natural cell death. According to literature distributed by the National Institutes of Health*:
Apoptosis is so carefully planned out that it is often called programmed cell death. During apoptosis, the cell shrinks and pulls away from its neighbors. Then, the surface of the cell appears to boil, with fragments breaking away and escaping like bubbles from a pot of boiling water. The DNA in the nucleus condenses and breaks into regular-sized fragments, and soon the nucleus itself, followed by the entire cell, disintegrates. A cellular cleanup crew rapidly mops up the remains.
The other kind of cell death is called necrosis. According to NIH:
Necrosis can result from a sudden traumatic injury, infection, or exposure to a toxic chemical. During necrosis, the cell’s outer membrane loses its ability to control the flow of liquid into and out of the cell. The cell swells up and eventually bursts, releasing its contents into the surrounding tissue. A cleanup crew composed of immune cells then moves in and mops up the mess, but the chemicals the cells use cause the area to become inflamed and sensitive. Think of the redness and pain in your finger after you accidentally touch a hot stove.
What is the secret that sustains cell composition? Apparently, the answer to that question is “life.” A cell has the ability to produce and sustain macromolecules for as long as it lives. When a cell dies it starts to decompose.
The complexity required for life cannot arise from dead matter. The incomprehensibly complex macromolecules needed to sustain life cannot form apart from life. Nor can they be sustained apart from life. When a living organism dies it begins to decompose. The macromolecules also decompose. When life departs from an organism, complexity begins to break down. Can we go from dead matter to incomprehensible complexity without involving life? Tell me how.
Well, perhaps life was not always this complex. Let’s consider some simpler examples of life. Can we avoid the problem of incomprehensible complexity?
Is “Start Simple” the Answer?
Living, functioning cells require the presence of dozens of highly complex macromolecules. Without these macromolecules a cell cannot function. But macromolecules are produced within cells. If there are no macromolecules, there are no cells. If there are no cells, there are no macromolecules.
Which came first, the macromolecule or the cell? Neither one can exist without the other. They cannot sustain themselves apart from life. Two ridiculously complex entities must be produced simultaneously and merged immediately with an unknown force called life. Nature cannot perform this miracle. It is beyond her realm. Is there any other way to get past this insurmountable problem?
By now Mr. Atheist is jumping up and down. He waves his hand in the air. “I know! I know the answer,” he shouts. “Evolution is the answer. The first cells were much simpler than the ones we know about today.”
What if this merry-go-round of cell, macromolecule, life, started with simpler forms of single-cell organisms? Of course we cannot prove this. There are no fossils of ancient single celled creatures. But we can look at some simple organisms today. Let’s look at two examples: a virus and a bacterium.
According to the National Institutes of Health web site,**
A fully assembled infectious virus is called a virion. The simplest virions consist of two basic components: nucleic acid (single- or double-stranded RNA or DNA) and a protein coat, the capsid, which functions as a shell to protect the viral genome from nucleases and which during infection attaches the virion to specific receptors exposed on the prospective host cell. Capsid proteins are coded for by the virus genome. Because of its limited size the genome codes for only a few structural proteins (besides non-structural regulatory proteins involved in virus replication).
A virus is a very simple organism. It reproduces by invading a cell and hijacking the cell’s reproductive capabilities.
Is a virus simple enough that nature can produce one through random interaction of atoms? That’s not very likely. Viruses have a component of nucleic acid (RNA or DNA), a protein coat, and a capsid shell. The virus is complex enough to code for a few proteins. Remember the complexity of nucleic acids and proteins? This is too complex for random assembly by nature.
What about bacteria? Bacteria can be so complex that sometimes just one part of a microscopic cell is too complex to be explained by evolution. One well-known example is the flagella assembly of several kinds of bacteria. According to Jonathan M.’s article on the web site evolution news,***
Actually, the process by which the bacterial flagellum is self-assembled within the cell is so sophisticated that I have long struggled to convey it . . .. Its core concepts are notoriously difficult to grasp . . .. But, at the same time, the mechanistic basis of flagellar assembly is so breath-takingly elegant and mesmerizing that the sheer engineering brilliance of the flagellar motor — and, indeed, the magnitude of the challenge it brings to Darwinism — cannot be properly appreciated without at minimum a cursory knowledge of its underpinning operations.
Jonathan M. continues:
The synthesis of the bacterial flagellum requires the orchestrated expression of more than 60 gene products. Its biosynthesis within the cell is orchestrated by genes which are organised into a tightly ordered cascade in which expression of one gene at a given level requires the prior expression of another gene at a higher level. . . . My description, given above, has really only scratched the surface of this spectacular item of nano-technology.
When discussing the biological mechanisms required for life, “simple” does not apply to any of the conversation.
What Is the Secret of Life?
Atheists and theists do agree that life is incredibly complex. But they disagree regarding the source and composition of life. What is life? From where does it come?
Atheists believe life is mechanical. They refuse to believe life has any metaphysical component. There is no soul. Life does not participate in any transcendent realms. So how do atheists explain the appearance of life in living organisms?
Atheists begin by taking the organism apart. They love to deconstruct complex systems. Although deconstruction does help scientists begin to understand complex systems, atheists use deconstruction to support their own agenda.
For example, La Mettrie deconstructed the human body. He examined the heart, lungs, stomach, and other organs. Each organ was considered separately from the others. This is a good way to begin to study the human body. This method yields valuable information about each organ but has difficulty identifying interactions between organs.
Why do atheists do this? As I said, they have an agenda. La Mettrie’s agenda was to destroy the idea that we have a soul. He wrote in Man a Machine:
Our only way to discover the true nature of man is a posteriori, i.e. on the basis of empirical evidence, trying to isolate the soul, as it were disentangling it from the body’s organs.
Having examined all of the organs in the human body, La Mettrie confidentially exclaimed that our souls do not exist. He was unable to find the soul in any of the organs of the body. Therefore, human souls do not exist.
Thus ‘the soul’ is an empty term, with no idea associated with it; a good mind should use it only to refer to the part of us that thinks.
La Mettrie was an atheist and a scientist. He draws conclusions using the atheist scientific method. His findings are totally materialistic. After deconstructing a complex system (like a human body), he rebuilds the system as if it were a machine. There is no room in his explanation for a soul or consciousness or God.
As for life, hardcore atheists believe we are no more alive than an automobile. You put gas in the car’s gas tank, flip the ignition switch, and the car “comes to life.” But isn’t this just another regurgitation of the atheist superstition of spontaneous generation? This atheist myth is not supported by the evidence.
Life is a very powerful force. Life has the power to temporarily overcome the effects of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. We live in a universe traveling in the direction of greater randomness—greater chaos. This is predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Macromolecules break down into smaller molecules. Everything decays; everything erodes; everything eventually falls apart.
But where there is life the Second Law is reversed. Life brings order, growth and reproduction and preserves incomprehensibly complex systems.
What is the secret of life? This life-force transcends other forces in the universe. Could there be a transcendent component to the riddle of life? From where does life come? Atheists say it appears spontaneously from nowhere. This is not an answer. It’s a guess.
What is the source of life? The Bible gives us answers. According to the Bible, God is the source of all life. The Bible says in Genesis 2: 7,
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (NAS)
Isaiah 42: 5 says the giving of life is one of the great deeds of God.
Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it.(NAS)
No other known force has the power to neutralize the Second Law of Thermodynamics. No other force is so completely hidden behind a cloak of mystery. This force has the power to quicken dead matter, transforming inert substances into beings that can think and dream and wonder and hope. But this force is not part of matter. This force belongs to God.