Evolution as Bad Science – 3. The Origin of Life

Even if you’ve got a universe where life is possible, before natural selection can get going, you need to have something to select. In other words, you need life to be in place before it can evolve into something else. Evolution, properly defined, cannot say anything about the origin of life, only about its development. So evolution can say nothing about creation – it just pushes the problem of “how did everything get started” back in time. But this is a formidable problem, because evolution as a theory was up and running way before anyone understood anything about how life was made up, and how difficult it was to start. The simplest forms of life have several hundred genes, each of which needs the pre-existence of DNA, RNA and the whole cell structure before it can exist at all. The DNA needs to be made up of the right proteins, but you need DNA in order to make proteins! The proteins need to be assembled out of amino acids, but it turns out you need the cell to be in place to stitch all the amino acids together, and the really bad news is that there are two mirror-image versions of each amino acid – right handed and left handed, but life only uses the left-handed ones, and if your chain combines with a right-handed amino acid then it will destroy the whole thing. And amino acids aren’t exactly common – you’ll wait a long time to get the right circumstances for even a few of them to occur, (in fact, we’ve never observed this – we had to get scientists to set up experiments to make it happen) and then you get half left-handed and half-right handed, and this is fatal to your chances of getting life. And then you have to get not just a few together, but the 20-or-so that make up life, in the right combinations to make up a letter on the DNA code, and that has to link up with the right other letters and separate RNA, and somehow fall into a double-helix (like a pair of helter-skelters, mating) that is (this time) right handed, (left-handed double helix’s need not apply). And still you don’t have a cell.

It’s too hard to do without God. Is it any wonder that the world’s most prolific atheist author of the 20th Century, Professor Anthony Flew, when he looked at the problem of the origin of life, decided he had better start believing in God after all?

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