Ligon Duncan on the Non-Negotiables of the Gospel

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  • Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Scientists Found How Life Began? Christian Skepticism Response to Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life (NY Times Article)

    Several short responses to NYTimes article Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life [Similar article at Fox News entitled: Scientists May Have Found How Life Began)

    1. Another attempt of unbelievers to set forth an alternative to creationism.

    2. The work simply takes the issue one step further (deeper) from DNA to RNA (or more precisely from RNA to the RNA reactions) .... yet leaves leaves many questions unanswered and on some levels adds to difficulty of believing in naturalism.

    3. It should be noted that while the title of the article provides for ambiguity (Chemist Shows How RNA Can Be the Starting Point for Life) such that the phrase "can be" could suggest to uncritical readers that (1) it "could be" a possibility or (2) it actually "can be" (as in actually been shown and proven not only chemically, but existing resources found in necessary proximity, etc.) the starting point of life; ... that at the same time it has not been completely proven even from a mere chemical process that this is a possibility for the starting point of life. Note the following:

    Dr. Sutherland said he had not yet found natural ways to generate the other two types of nucleotides found in RNA molecules, but synthesis of the first two was thought to be harder to achieve.

    4. The article goes on to say "If all four nucleotides formed naturally, they would zip together easily to form an RNA molecule with a backbone of alternating sugar and phosphate groups." That's a currently unproven "IF" and represents in the greater context somewhat of a "longshot" at this time for one to rest their trust and hope upon.

    5. The presuppositions of the scientist are not surprising. Note:
    “My assumption is that we are here on this planet as a fundamental consequence of organic chemistry,” Dr. Sutherland said. “So it must be chemistry that wants to work.”

    6. Even if this did prove a possibility, if my memory serves me correctly, some scientists have shown that 3.8 billion years would still not be anywhere enough to arrive at the complexity found today.

    7. While the scientist's view of humanity has changed, it's certainly not impressive when it comes to human worth, dignity, etc.

    Dr. Joyce said he was so impressed by the role of phosphate that “this makes me think of myself not as a carbon-based life form but as a phosphate-based life form.”

    8. It's noteworthy that other scientists are not convinced.

    Dr. Sutherland’s proposal has not convinced everyone. Dr. Robert Shapiro, a chemist at New York University, said the recipe “definitely does not meet my criteria for a plausible pathway to the RNA world.” He said that cyano-acetylene, one of Dr. Sutherland’s assumed starting materials, is quickly destroyed by other chemicals and its appearance in pure form on the early earth “could be considered a fantasy.”

    9. The "longshot" of resting one's assurance and hopes on this theory are seen as well in the scientist's response -

    Dr. Sutherland replied that the chemical is consumed fastest in the reaction he proposes, and that since it has been detected on Titan there is no reason it should not have been present on the early earth.

    ... only that it hasn't been shown. (Note: I'm not suggesting that it wasn't present on earth, but only pointing out how far man will strive in his unbelief and the types of arguments he is willing to accept (even if in possibility/theory) in order to accomodate his presuppositions which stand in contrast and rebellion to God.)

    10. No source or justification is given for the "information" or (intelligence/design)found not only at the level of DNA but now at the level of RNA. Where did this come?

    Concluding Thoughts:
    1. While the title of the article suggests RNA "can be" the starting point of life, there's a lot of unanswered questions between the present theory (even with its new discovery) and either probability or the likelihood, much less the actuality of this being the truth.
    2. It's great to see the science advance. God uses even "the drives of the unbelieving to suppress the truth" to bring about good.
    3. The deeper man is able to look, the more amazed we ought to be when it comes to intelligence and design in creation. These things ought not only cause us to marvel, but to give God glory! ... for more on this, see the following videos:

    Origin of Life
    DNA Double Helix

    1 comment:

    jazzycat said...

    If his theory is valid as a possibility that could happen without help naturally, then surely he should be able to create life by giving a little optimizing help to the variables!

    Then perhaps he can explain to us how something [matter] came from nothing apart from an uncaused cause.

    Naturalism is a faith based belief in magic without a magician…….