Sadly, in our nation today there is a strong movement under way to steal from our children the freedom to think and examine their world outside of a very narrow, all-pervasive religious perspective. While it is common to hear in the media that it is Christian “fundamentalists” behind this movement, exactly the opposite is true. Rather, those who embrace the religion of naturalistic materialism (in its various forms such as humanism, atheism, etc.) have successfully done what many thought impossible: they have installed their own religion as the official religion of the United States government, banishing any and all competing world-views.
One of the results of this new situation is that if one wishes to be thought of as “scientifically astute” or ‘educated” one must bow before the orthodox idol of materialistic thought, primarily expressed in its greatest child, the theory of evolution. If one dares to ask the freedom to fit the facts of scientific research into any other theory than that of evolution, one is automatically the target of ad hominem attacks, and, sadly, slanderous abuse. It seems that no level of abject lying or misrepresentation is not allowable to the devotee of naturalistic materialism-all is fair in the defense of the orthodox religion. Surely no Roman Catholic inquisitor was more dutiful than the modem defenders of naturalistic materialism.
But, we are told, there is no possible way that any other view could be true! Really? Well, let’s take some of the facts of science and demonstrate that what we know to be true fits far better within a theistic/creationist viewpoint than an atheistic/materialistic one.
We shall first looks the function of natural selection and ask the question, “which theory best explains and even predicts the existence of natural selection in species today?”
If, in any instance, it is found that the information better fits into the creation model than the evolution model, then surely we by this see that simple honesty demands our granting the freedom for further examination in this direction. Only an incredibly deep prejudice, from I submit from a commitment to the religion of materialism, can possibly provide a basis for a denial of such freedom.
The make-up of animal and vegetable species, genetically speaking, includes a mechanism that allows a species to adapt to changing environmental conditions that, without the existence of this mechanism, would result in the extinction of the species. This process or mechanism is known as natural selection. How does it work? Basically, the forces of predatory or environmental selection work upon the inherent ability of the genetic mechanisms to change and adapt to allow the species sea whole (not the individuals of a particular generation, but generations further along the time-line) to survive and adapt.
Some have erroneously described this process simply as “the survival of the fittest” That is not exactly an accurate way of describing the process. A better description would be “the nourishment (and eventual survival) of those whose genetic make-up becomes predominate in the species’ gene-pool” but most people wouldn’t remember such a description. Natural selection is the process whereby the spectrum of phenotypic manifestations of the genetic make-up is “taken advantage of” by the selection pressures of the environment At “stasis”, the genetic “center” of a species might be at point “c.” Stasis would be described as a time when there is no specific or directional pressures being exerted upon the species, either by predation or environment. Hence, those individuals with genetic makeup “g” predominate in the gene-pool of the species; that is, those whose genetic make-up is “g” match closely the paint “c” in the center of the genetic spectrum of the gene-pool;
these individuals, then, have more viable offspring that pass on their genotype than an individual with, say, genotype “i”. Since “i” is not as well adapted to the environment as “g” then “i” will not, as long as environmental conditions remain the same, replace “g” as the center-point of the genotypic spectrum of this species.
Now, lets say that a shift takes place in some environmental factor. The classic Illustration is predation. A new predator enters the environment with, by Its nature, begins to being more pressure upon the individuals with the “g” genotype than the “i” genotype (which was, till this time, a minority in the gene-pod). The practical result of this is that those with the “i” genotype begin to have more viable offspring in the second generation than those with the “g” genotype. The effect over time, of course, is a shift of the center of the gene-pool from “c” (favoring the “g” genotype) to say, “d” (favoring the “i” genotype). Obviously I am simplifying this greatly, as there might be numerous genetic factors involved, complex selection pressures that combine predation, etc. But hopefully the basic outlines are clear.
Now, his important to differentiate between natural selection and micro-mutational evolution as proposed in the neo-Darwinian model. Natural selection, as described above, is not dependent upon, nor driven by, any mutation in the genetic code of the individuals within the species. As we saw, the above genotypes in our example “c” and “i”) both existed together in the gene-pool; the environmental pressures did not “create” anything new, but the ability of the species to adapt was derived from the pre-existing range of genetic possibilities. Now, it is dear, then, why the neo-Darwinian synthesis must place such a huge emphasis and weight upon the existence of mutation to provide ‘new” genetic material upon which, over great expanses of time, natural selection can then work to bring about the incredible complexity and variation of life as we see it today.
Now, in light of all this, let’s ask some simple questions. First, which of the two models would predict such a mechanism as natural selection? Well, natural selection is primarily a mechanism of conservation. It is not the “engine” of change that is so often claimed for it. Which model would predict a mechanism that would allow for the conservation of a species? If a Creator did indeed produce a purposeful creation, would not such a mechanism be expected? And how shall the evolutionist explain the origination of the process of natural selection? Clearly the model does not predict it at all, and neither can it provide a logical explanation for how it came about. We need not here enter into the discussion of the impossibility of the evolutionary position to explain the origin of the genetic mechanisms themselves; the point is that the whole spectrum of scientific evidence relative to natural selection fits perfectly and without contradiction into the creationist model, and tie the evolutionist to points to natural selection, he cannot do so in the same way as the creationist. The evolutionist must emphasize the exceptional circumstance, rather than the norm. Now, it is admitted that bath sides of this debate must, at times, engage in some “fitting” of the facts; this is simply put of the process. But it would seem that on such a basic issue as natural selection, such “fitting” would be looked at with a good bit of skepticism; sadly, ft seems the prejudice of the religious views of researchers at times gets in the way.
A further note might be added at this point: scientists identify two different kinds or extremes in reproduction strategy. These strategies are known as r-selection and K- selection. Those species that would be characterized as “r-selecting” species are those that are “opportunistic” in their methodology; they have high intrinsic rates of growth, rapid development into the adult stages, early reproduction, small body size, and minimum care of young. Frogs (and most amphibians) would be identified as “r-selectors”. K-selection, on the other hand, is just the opposite. These species (such as an elephant or an ape) would have lower reproduction rates, later development times, larger body size, and far more energy devoted to care of young.
What does this have to do with the current discussion? If we think briefly about the relationship between r- and K-selecting species, we see that the r-selectors would exhibit much more ability to “utilize micro-mutation” in development, if this is actually what happens. Now, the creationist would look at this situation and say, “well, the r- selecting organisms will display a much wider variety of phenotypic manifestation and speciation than will the K-selectors; one will have, for example, a far greater range of “insects” than one will have of “apes” because of this-one will have lateral, not vertical, differentiation.” But the evolutionist is faced with a real difficulty; for the variation, mutationally speaking, between each of the K-selecting “higher’ mammals (as an example) is far greater than that between r-selecting amphibians or insects. Hence, to provide for the incredible number of micro-mutations necessary to explain the incredible complexity of the higher mammals (such as the human brain!) one must have greater (not lesser) opportunity for mutation, which requires large numbers of generations. But right here the facts are opposite of what is needed for the evolutionary theory to function! As one moves toward the more complex or inter-active animals, one has fewer and fewer generations to account for the increase in complexity! This is surely no problem for the creationist, but it is a great hurdle for the evolutionist!
Hence we see, from just this brief examination, that the scientific evidence as we know it can successfully be fit into the creationist model-In fact, that it fits with better consistency and accuracy than in the evolutionary model. This alone is sufficient to demonstrate for all the sad religious bigotry that predominates in scientific circles today that would eliminate the freedom to think in any way other than the “orthodox’ way of naturalistic materialism.
On the subject of An Early Oxidizing Atmosphere:
Having examined mineralogical evidence in this regards, Erich Dimroth and Michael Kimberley said, “In general we find no evidence in the sedimentary distribution of carbon. sulfur, uranium, or iron that an oxygen-free atmosphere has existed at any time during the span of geological history recorded in well-preserved sedimentary rock” (1970, Can. J. Earth Sci., 13,1161). Not only this, but we are now aware that elemental oxygen is formed by the free dissociation of water molecules under ultra-violet radiation; without the ozone layer filtering out wave-lengths below 3000 Angstroms, this dissociation would result in a (relatively) large amount of elemental oxygen – enough, according to Carver (1981, Nature 292, p. 136) to form an ozone layer at 0.01 PAL The point being that there is more evidence of an oxidizing atmosphere than against it. All current models of abiogenesis eliminate oxygen from the environment. indeed, J.C.G. Walker, in his Evolution of the Atmosphere (New York: MacMillan. 1977, pg. 224) said that the “strongest evidence” for a reducing (no oxygen) atmosphere is that we know that chemical evolution took place! Talk about circular reasoning! If you will take time to examine Bradley, Thaxton and Olsen, you will find that the concensus is shifting away from the position taken by many modem writers.
Foreword to The Mystery of Life’s Origin written by
Dr. Dean Kenyon, Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University
(Book by Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen)
The Mystery of Life’s Origin presents an extraordinary new analysis of an age-old question: How did life start on earth? The authors deal forthrightly and brilliantly with the major problems confronting scientists today in their search for life’s origins. They understand the impasse in current laboratory and theoretical research and suggest a way around it. Their arguments are cogent, original, and compelling. This book is sure to stimulate much animated discussion amongst scientists and laymen. It is very likely that research on life’s origins will move in somewhat different directions once the professionals have read this important work.
The modem experimental study of the origin of the first life on earth is now entering its fourth decade, if we date the inception of this field or research to Stanley Miller’s pioneering work in the early 1950s. Since Miller’s Identification of several (racemic) protein-forming amino acids in his electric discharge apparatus. Numerous follow-up studies have been conducted. Conforming in varying degrees to the requirements of the so-called “simulation paradigm,” these experiments have yielded detectable amounts of most of the major kinds of biochemical substance as well as a variety of organic microscopic structures suggested to be similar to the historical precursors of the first living cells.
This program of research can be regarded as a natural extension of Darwin’s evolutionary views of the last century. The goal of the work is to find plausible uniformitarian mechanisms for the gradual spontaneous generation of living matter from relatively simple molecules thought to have been abundant on the surface of the primitive earth.
The experimental results to date have apparently convinced many scientists that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life will be found, but there are significant reasons for doubt. In the years since the publication of Biochemical Predestination, I have been increasingly struck by a peculiar feature of many of the published experiments in the field. I am not referring to those studies conducted more or less along the lines of Miller’s original work, although there are firm grounds for criticizing those studies as well. I am referring to those experiments designed to elucidate possible pathways of prebiotic synthesis of certain organic substances of biologic interest, such as purines and pyrimidines, or polypeptides.
In most cases the experimental conditions in such studies have been so artificially simplified as to have virtually no bearing on any actual processes that might have taken place on the primitive earth. For example, if one wishes to find a possible prebiotic mechanism of condensation of free amino acids to polypeptides, it is not likely that sugars or aldehydes would be added to the reaction mixture. And yet, how likely is it that amino acids (or any other presumed precursor substance) occurred anywhere on the primitive earth free from contamination substances, either in solution or the solid state? The difficulty is that if sugars or aldehydes were also present polypeptides would not form. Instead an interfering cross-reaction would occur between amino acids and sugars to give complex, insoluble polymeric material of very dubious relevance to chemical evolution. This problem of potentially interfering cross-reactions has been largely neglected in much of the published work on the chemical origins of life. The possible implications of such an omission merit careful study.
Other aspects of origin-of-life research have contributed to my growing uneasiness about the theory of chemical evolution. One of these is the enormous gap between the most complex “protocell” model systems produced in the laboratory and the simplest living cells. Anyone familiar with the ultrastructural and biochemical complexity of the genus Mycoplasma, for example, should have serious doubts about the relevance of any of the various laboratory “protocells” to the actual historical origin of cells, in my view, the possibility of closing this gap by laboratory simulation of chemical events likely to have occurred on the primitive earth is extremely remote.
Another intractable problem concerns the spontaneous origin of the optical isomer preferences found universally in living matter (e.g., L- rather than D-amino acids in proteins, D-rather than L- sugars in nucleic acids). After all the prodigious effort that has gone into attempts to solve this great question over the years, we are really no nearer to a solution today than we were thirty years ago.
Finally, in this brief summary of the reasons for my growing doubts that life on earth could have begun spontaneously by purely chemical and physical means, there is the problem of the origin of genetic, i.e., biologically relevant, information in biopolymers. No experimental system yet devised has provided the slightest clue as to how biologically meaningful sequences of subunits might have originated in prebiotic polynucleotides or polypeptides. Evidence for some degree of spontaneous sequence ordering has been published, but there is no indication whatsoever that the non-randomness is biologically significant. Until such evidence is forthcoming one I certainly cannot claim that the possibility of a naturalistic origin of life have been demonstrated.
In view of these and other vexing problems in origin-of-life research, there has been a need for some years now for a detailed, systematic analysis of all major aspects of the field. It is time to re-examine the foundations of this research in such a way that all the salient lines of criticism are simultaneously kept in view. The Mystery of Life’s Origin admirably fills this need. The authors have addressed nearly all the problems enumerated above and several other important ones as well. They believe, and I now concur, that there is a fundamental flaw in all current theories of the chemical origins of life. Although the tone of the book is critical, the authors have I written in it the positive hope that their analysis will help us find a better theory of origins. Such an approach is, of course, entirely consistent with the manner in which scientific advances have occurred in the past.
In the author’s criticisms are valid, one might ask, why have they not been recognized or stressed by workers in the field? I suspect that part of the answer is that many scientists would hesitate to accept the authors’ conclusion that the fundamentally implausible that unassisted matter and energy organized themselves into living systems. Perhaps these scientists fear that acceptance of this conclusion would open the door to the possibility (or the necessity) of a supernatural origin of life. Faced with this prospect many investigators would prefer to continue in their search for a naturalistic explanation of the origin of life along the lines marked out over the last few decades, In spite of the many serious difficulties of which we I are now aware. Perhaps the fallacy of scientism is more widespread than we think.
One’s presuppositions about the origin of life, and especially the assumption that this problem will ultimately yield to a persistent application of current methodology can certainly influence which lines of evidence and argument one chooses to stress, and which are played down or avoided altogether. What the authors have done is to place before us essentially all the pertinent lines of criticism in one continuous statement and to invite us to face them squarely.
All scientists interested in the origin-of-life problem would do well to study this book carefully and to evaluate their own work in this light of its arguments.
Dean H. Kenyon
Professor of Biology
San Francisco State University