googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Are Amino Acids the Building Blocks of Life?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Are Amino Acids the Building Blocks of Life?

A few months back, published this “spectacular” headline: Building blocks of life created in impossible place. The first sentence of the article reads, NASA-funded scientists have discovered amino acids, a fundamental building block of life, in a meteorite where none were expected.” If you do a Google search on “amino acids building blocks of life,” you'll get about 1.4 million hits. Amino acids are so fundamental to life, anytime scientists find some created “naturally,” it's headline news. They're sure that where there are amino acids, life can begin.

About 50 years ago, two scientists named Miller and Urey conducted what has been called the classic “origin of life” experiment. “Miller took molecules which were believed to represent the major components of the early Earth's atmosphere and put them into a closed system. The gases they used were methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3), hydrogen (H2), and water (H2O). Next, he ran a continuous electric current through the system, to simulate lightning storms believed to be common on the early earth. Analysis of the experiment was done by chromotography. At the end of one week, Miller observed that as much as 10-15% of the carbon was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed some of the amino acids which are used to make proteins.” 1

The Miller-Urey experiment has been cited in high school biology textbooks for decades. It's somewhat hypocritical of them to do so because every time a creationist asks about the origin of life, the retort is usually to say, “that's not part of evolution.” For something that is not supposed to be a part of their theory, biology textbooks have given a lot of ink to the subject. The obvious reason they mention the experiment is to suggest that if amino acids can form naturally, we have made the first step in discovering the origin of the supposed first life form.

The Miller-Urey experiment has been critiqued one a variety of grounds. Scientists disagree on the supposed composition of the primordial atmosphere. Also, the amino acids produced were a mixture of left and right handed amino acids when right handed only are needed. The experiment was never really considered a seriously close attempt at creating life in a test tube.

But let's be generous for a moment. Let's suppose that the conditions of the experiment closely matched earth's original atmosphere. Further, let's suppose that the amino acids were the right handed variety necessary for life. Even if all that is true, how close are we really to discovering the origin of life? Think about this: amino acids are the building blocks of life in the same way that rocks are the building blocks of the pyramids. So, if I find rocks lying around naturally, then couldn't a wind storm arrange them into a pyramid? If aluminum is the building blocks of an airplane, then couldn't a tornado whip up a 747? If trees are the building blocks of homes, then couldn't a log cabin form naturally under just the right conditions?

You see, life is not about substance – it's about organization. Finding amino acids on a meteor and believing they can be arranged naturally to create life is more absurd than believing rocks could naturally arrange themselves to make the pyramids. The pyramids are considered one of the wonders of the world yet DNA is far more complex. Why is it then, that people can seriously believe life began naturally yet simultaneously understand that the pyramids required builders?

Some people say creationists believe in a “God of the gaps.” That is, we invoke divine intervention where ever there is a lack of understanding. However, understanding that complexity is evidence for design isn't about what I don't know – it's about what I do know. I know that planes are built and not just a natural arrangement of aluminum. I know that the pyramids were built and not just a natural arrangement of stone. I know that log cabins are built and not just a natural arrangement of wood. I know that the more complex something is, the less likely it is to have been an accident.

A rock is just a rock. It takes purpose and design to build something out of it. I'm not impressed about finding amino acids on a meteor. I know that it take purpose and design to build something out of it.


Anonymous said...

Hi!!! Nice forum. This my first post.

RKBentley said...

Welcome. I'm glad you like my blog. Please visit again and share your thoughts.

God bless!!

Todd Williams said...

It's also more likely that these meteors originated as material from earth from previous collisions, having now returned to collide with earth again.