originally posted by: 5StarOracle
a reply to: Phage
The odds are not my work they are presented by others...
The calculation assumes that a single specific ribozyme must be synthesized for life to begin, but that’s not how it works. We make the plausible
assumption that an enormous number of random polymers are synthesized, which are then subject to selection and evolution. This is the alternative
hypothesis, and it is testable.
David Bartel and Jack Szostak, published a paper in Science in 1993. Their goal was to see if a completely random system of molecules could undergo
selection in such a way that defined species of molecules emerged with specific properties. They began by synthesizing many trillions of different RNA
molecules about 300 nucleotides long, but the nucleotides were all random nucleotide sequences. Nucleotides, by the way, are monomers of the nucleic
acids DNA and RNA, just as amino acids are the monomers, or subunits, of proteins, and making random sequences is easy to do with modern methods of
They reasoned that buried in those trillions were a few catalytic RNA molecules called ribozymes that happened to catalyze a ligation reaction, in
which one strand of RNA is linked to a second strand. The RNA strands to be ligated were attached to small beads on a column, then were exposed to the
trillions of random sequences simply by flushing them through the column. This process could fish out any RNA molecules that happened to have even a
weak ability to catalyze the reaction. They then amplified those molecules and put them back in for a second round, repeating the process for 10
rounds. By the way, this is the same basic logic that breeders use when they select for a property such as coat color in dogs.
After only 4 rounds of selection and amplification they began to see an increase in catalytic activity, and after 10 rounds the rate was 7 million
times faster than the uncatalyzed rate. It was even possible to watch the RNA evolve. Nucleic acids can be separated and visualized by a technique
called gel electrophoresis. The mixture is put in at the top of a gel held between two glass plates and a voltage is applied. Small molecules travel
fastest through the gel, and larger molecules move more slowly, so they are separated. In this case, RNA molecules having a specific length produce a
visible band in a gel. At the start of the reaction, nothing could be seen, because all the molecules are different. But with each cycle new bands
appeared. Some came to dominate the reaction, while others went extinct.
Bartel and Szostak’s results have been repeated and extended by other researchers, and they demonstrate a fundamental principle of evolution at the
molecular level. At the start of the experiment, every molecule of RNA was different from all the rest because they were assembled by a chance
process. There were no species, just a mixture of trillions of different molecules. But then a selective hurdle was imposed, a ligation reaction that
allowed only certain molecules to survive and reproduce enzymatically.
In a few generations groups of molecules began to emerge that displayed ever-increasing catalytic function. In other words, species of molecules
appeared out of this random mixture in an evolutionary process that closely reflects the natural selection that Darwin outlined for populations of
higher animals. These RNA molecules were defined by the sequence of bases in their structures, which caused them to fold into specific conformations
that had catalytic properties. The sequences were in essence analogous to genes, because the information they contained was passed between generations
during the amplification process.
The Bartel and Szostak experiment directly refutes the argument that the odds are stacked against an origin of life by natural processes. The
inescapable conclusion is that genetic information can in fact emerge from random mixtures of polymers, as long as the populations contain large
numbers of polymeric molecules with variable monomer sequences, and a way to select and amplify a specific property.
Arguing that the odds are too high for life to be possible without a creator/deity, is just an argument from incredulity and in no way does it falsify
the hypothesis. It's putting a number down on a piece of paper, throwing your hands in the air and insisting it couldn't happen because...numbers/god.
That isn't how science works. We test our hypothesis and we record the results. Then we submit a paper based on those findings for others to review
and look for errors. If it passes review and is published then even more people will try to replicate the experiment or attempt to falsify your data.
I've yet to see a single proponent of young earth creationism, specifically Christians with that inclination, attempt to falsify a single paper on the
subject. I see a lot of Gish Galloping, a lot of circular reasoning and even more ad hominem attacks.
But not once has anyone even attempted to falsify a paper. The closest was Cooperton who threw in the towel an hour after a link to the paper being
posted. And that is a textbook example of intellectual dishonesty... insisting that your position is superior, everyone else is delusional but not
once attempting to understand the other side of the argument let alone go so far as to attempt to falsify it. All while claiming they just want a
civil discourse after they told me I was sending my children to hell by giving them the information presented by both sides, giving them access to
material from both sides and letting them make up their own minds.
Apparently I'm only a good parent if I force my beliefs on children. But only if those beliefs are of the very specific version of Christianity of the