Times Examiner Facebook Logo

Friday, May 17, 2024 - 08:36 PM


First Published in 1994


A common creationist argument against abiogenesis is that it violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics based on the fact that abiogenesis would require a huge reduction and entropy, and the second law indicates that entropy increases. The evolutionist response is that this is not true because the Earth is an open system and gets energy from the sun which can allow entropy to decrease locally. This response is correct, but the evolutionists making this response are using energy like a magic wand. They act as if all you need to do is apply energy to a system and its entropy will magically decrease.

The problem is that whether or not an application of energy will reduce the entropy of the system or increase it depends upon how that energy is applied to the system. For example, if you detonated an atomic bomb in a junkyard, you would not reduce the entropy of the junk getting a fully formed and functional Boeing 747. What would happen is you would scatter the junk actually increasing its entropy. However, if you channel the same amount of energy into the right tools and people you could reduce the entropy of the material and build several fully functional Boeing 747s.

Now there exists a thermodynamic principle that actually explains in broad thermodynamic terms the difference between construction work and a bomb of the same amount of energy. This principle is so broad and so general that it actually explains how both the second and third laws of thermodynamics work. The basic concept is that when energy is applied to a system entropy of the system moves towards the entropy of the applied energy. Statistically entropy is related to the number of equivalent states of what is being considered. This is a pretty straightforward concept, but it is also devastating to the notion of abiogenesis.

Now there are four sources of energy that can be applied within a prebiotic system, heat, radiation, electrical energy, and chemical energy. Because heat and radiation are completely random, they have absolutely no hope are producing the extremely low entropy levels of a living cell. Electrical energy can do a little better because its flow tends to be directional, and it can jumpstart chemical reactions. However, raw as can be found in natural conditions such as lightning is known to damage living systems. This leaves chemistry as the only completely natural source of energy left but is it actually capable of producing life from non-life?

Now chemistry by itself is capable of producing a lot of the building blocks of life, however it turns out that while chemistry is capable of assembling proteins under the right conditions, it is incapable of producing the specific amino acid arrangements necessary to make the proteins actually needed for life let alone construct the molecular machines that living cells use them to build.

In a previous article we showed that even the simplest living cell still uses 438 proteins. And that even assuming those proteins are only 50 amino acids long, which they are not in the actual cells, and assuming that you can produce as many as a billion functional proteins of such length, which exceeds the total number of proteins used by every living thing on earth by at least two orders of magnitude, we still have to select from among 20 amino acids for each place in each protein.

When all this is taken into consideration the total number of possible proteins with a length of 50 amino acids is 1065 combinations. However, we also need 438 proteins resulting in (1065)438 or 3.6 X 1028492 combinations, this is the number of ways that pure chemical energy can combine the amino acids. Meanwhile, in our overly generous situation we only have 109 combinations capable are being used in the construction of a living cell.

Consequently, if any prebiotic system got nearly enough functional proteins to almost become a living cell, when chemical energy is applied again these proteins will be broken up and possibly even reorganized into non-functioning proteins. Consequently, this little general principle of thermodynamics that shows what happens when energy is applied to a system also shows that every no source of energy available in a prebiotic world has way too much entropy to be capable of producing a living cell. Please note there is a lot more to successfully producing a living cell than just getting these proteins together, so the real numbers are likely to be many orders of magnitude higher, but this is a result of trying to be as generous to abiogenesis as possible.

This leaves only two known phenomena capable are producing hey living cell. The first is a living cell, which is programmed by its DNA to use its internally constructed molecular machines to produce a living cell. The other is intelligence. Intelligent beings are the only phenomena known in the universe to be able to work with the degree of specificity necessary to build a living cell from scratch. In fact, if scientists were to one day produce a living cell from scratch in a lab, it would really only support an intelligent designer, not naturalistic abiogenesis. The only other hypothetical alternative would be some currently unknown natural phenomenon that is capable of producing specific structures such as those found in living cells. In the absence of such a phenomenon, the only viable possibility is an intelligent designer.


Help support these articles.