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  Global Views
Have Scientists Created Life?
Special Contribution
By Babu G. Ranganathan
DNA

Recent news reports suggest that scientists may be close to creating artificial (synthetic) life. None of this is happening by chance but by intelligent design and planning. Why, then, will many not give credit to God for the original DNA and life?

In the case involving synthetic (artificial) life, scientists don't actually create or produce life itself from non-living matter. What scientists do in this case is create (by intelligent design) artificial DNA (genetic instructions and code) which is then implanted into an already existing living cell and, thereby, changing that cell into a new form of life.

Even if scientists ever do create a whole living cell from scratch (and not just its DNA) it still would not be by chance but by intelligent design. Synthetic life is another form of genetic engineering. But God was there first! Remember that.

In all forms of genetic engineering, including production of synthetic or artificial life, scientists have always begun with already existing forms of life or their parts. Contrary to popular belief no scientist has ever created an entire living cell from "scratch" or from non-living matter. But, if that day ever comes it won't be by chance but only by intelligent design further supporting the argument that intelligent design was necessary for life's origin on Earth.

If the cell had evolved it would have had to be all at once. A partially evolved cell cannot wait millions of years to become complete because it would be highly unstable and quickly disintegrate in the open environment, especially without the protection of a complete and fully functioning cell membrane.

Although it has been shown that the basic building blocks of life, amino acids, can come into existence by chance, it has never been shown that the various amino acids can come together into a sequence by chance to form protein molecules. If the amino acids are not in the proper sequence the protein molecules will not function! Even the simplest cell is composed of millions of protein molecules.

It seems that the cell is irreducibly complex. For example, without DNA there can be no RNA, and without RNA there can be no DNA. And without either DNA or RNA there can be no proteins, and without proteins there can be no DNA or RNA. They're all mutually dependent upon each other for existence! It could not have gradually evolved! Evolutionists generally believe that it took one billion years for the first life form or cell to have evolved. That belief, although still taught as gospel in many elementary and secondary schools, cannot be sustained by modern science.

Of course, once there is a complete and living cell then the genetic program and biological mechanisms exist to direct the formation of more cells with their own genetic programs and biological mechanisms. The question is how did life come about on Earth when there was no directing mechanism.

If humans must use intelligence to perform genetic engineering, to meaningfully manipulate the genetic code, then what does that say about the origin of the genetic code itself!

The great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle has said that the probability of the sequence of molecules in the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is equivalent to a tornado going through a junk yard of airplane parts and assembling a 747 Jumbo Jet!

We tend to judge something as being simple or complex by its size. So many of us assume that because the cell is microscopic in size that it must be simple. Not so! Size is relative, but not complexity. If you were as big as the Empire State building you would probably think that the tiny cars and automobiles on the street were simple and could easily happen by a chance combination of parts. However, we know that is not so.

Natural laws are adequate to explain how the order in life, the universe, and even a microwave oven operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot fully explain the origin of such order.

Science cannot prove how life originated since no human observed the origin of life by either chance or design. Observation and detection by the human senses, either directly or indirectly through scientific instruments, is the basis of science and for establishing proof. The issue is which position has better scientific support. Both sides should have the opportunity to present their case.

If some astronauts from Earth discovered figures of persons similar to Mt. Rushmore on an uninhabited planet there would be no way to scientifically prove the carved figures originated by design or by chance processes of erosion. Neither position is science, but scientific arguments may be made to support one or the other.

Many think that natural selection in nature is proof that we had evolved. Natural selection does occur in nature. However, natural selection itself does not produce biological variations. Natural selection can only work with biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. It is a passive process in nature. Natural selection is simply another way of saying that if a biological variation occurs which is helpful to an animal or plant's survival then that that variation will be preserved and be passed on. Of course, nature does not do any active or conscious selecting.

The term "natural selection" is simply a figure of speech. Also, natural selection only applies once there is life and not before. In other words, natural selection is not involved in any pre-biotic, non-living interactions of chemicals.

Evolutionists believe that random or chance mutations in the genetic code (caused by random environmental forces such as radiation) will produce the favorable evolutionary changes necessary for natural selection to act upon.

However, there is no evidence that random or chance mutations in the genetic code are capable of producing greater biological complexity (vertical evolution) among natural species. Mutations are only capable of producing horizontal evolution (variations within natural species). In any case, most biological variations among natural species are due to new combinations of already existing genes and not mutations.

Considering the enormous complexity of life, it is much more logical to believe that the genetic and biological similarities between all species are due to a common Designer rather than common evolutionary ancestry. It is only logical that the great Designer would design similar functions for similar purposes and different functions for different purposes in all of the various forms of life.

What if we should find evidence of life on Mars? Wouldn't that prove evolution? No. It wouldn't be proof that such life had evolved from non-living matter by chance natural processes. And even if we did find evidence of life on Mars it would have most likely have come from our very own planet - Earth! In the Earth's past there was powerful volcanic activity which could have easily spewed dirt containing microbes into outer space which eventually could have reached Mars. A Newsweek article of September 21, 1998, p.12 mentions exactly this possibility.

We know from the law of entropy in science that the universe does not have the ability to have sustained itself from all eternity. It requires a beginning. But, we also know from science that natural laws could not have brought the universe into being from nothing. The beginning of the universe, therefore, points to a supernatural origin!

All of this simply means that real science supports faith in God. Science cannot prove that we are here by chance (evolution) or by design (creation). However, the scientific evidence can be used to support one or the other. It is only fair that evidence supporting intelligent design be presented to students alongside of evolutionary theory, especially in public schools which receive funding from taxpayers who are on both sides of the issue. Also, no one is being forced to believe in God or adopt a particular religion so there is no true violation of separation of church and state.

As a religion and science writer, I encourage all to read my Internet article "The Natural Limits of Evolution" at my website www.religionscience.com for more in-depth study of the issue.

Babu G. Ranganathan
(B.A. theology/biology)

*Some other Internet articles by the author are: "Creationists Right On Entropy, Evolution," "Are There Natural Limits To Evolution?" "Intelligent Design On Another Planet?" "How Does My DNA Work?" "Christ Was Begotten, Not Made" "Is Traditional View of Hell Biblical?"The most up-to-date versions of these articles may be freely accessed at: www.religionscience.com .



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The above opinion piece is written by Mr. Babu G. Ranganathan (Email: bgrnathan@yahoo.com), religion and science writer who was recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis Who's Who in The East. He holds a B.A. with concentrations in theology and biology. His articles can be reached at www.religionscience.com

 

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