From Soup To Fish

Question from Wilson:
I am not an expert in biology just warning you, so feel free to enlighten me!

Correct me if I am wrong but evolutionists believe that life originated from a soup filled with amino acids or something along those lines. But there are a whole range of complex and simple microorganisms each with precise roles and functions almost like a program? And correct me again if I am wrong, now the cells function in a certain way due to a specific set of instructions in their DNA…how do you explain the exact precise instruction that each one of these different microorganisms have without there being an intelligent creator…finally I am also wondering how a bunch of amino acids decided to come together to make a microorganism and how that tiny cell decided itself that it needs to reproduce and how the heck microorganisms turn into a fish without a creator and if you’re gonna use time as an answer then what is the probability of such an event occurring for even a simple cell?

(Just as a lot of atheists find the idea of God absurd I find Evolution completely absurd)

Answer by SmartLX:
I’m not an expert in biology either, but a little research in response to things like this can teach you a lot, and I’ve been at it for a few years now. I’m still learning of course; while I write these answers I’ve usually got multiple other tabs open for reference material.

Before I go into details, the same logical problem applies here as to the last question I answered: the argument from ignorance. That’s not an insult, it’s the proper name for a specific fallacy where because you personally don’t know how something could happen, you assume it didn’t. Even if I had no answers for any of these, we would not be justified in jumping to the conclusion of a god until any other possibilities were not just dismissed but actually ruled out (or at the very least, actual probabilities were assigned to them).

I’ll try to address each of your points, but each of my points may not correspond to just one of yours or to the order of yours.

– There are multiple hypotheses about the origin of life from non-life (abiogenesis), and the “primordial soup” idea is one of the classic front-runners. Here’s a list of the current ones.

– Amino acids could occur naturally, as was demonstrated in the 50s, but a lot of different amino acids and other materials had to come together in just the right way to make the first simple proteins and genes. That’s a big factor reducing the probability that it would happen. However, there are three factors of a comparable scale which raised the probability: the sheer amount of material being constantly shoved against itself by natural forces, the huge number of different combinations that could have had the same effect, and finally the vast amount of time you mention – by current estimates, about one billion years from the formation of the Earth to the emergence of the first life form.

– The first life had DNA, or an equivalent like RNA, with one simple instruction: “Use the material around you to make another of yourself.” This was not an intelligent command, it was just something its physical makeup drove it to do, like a pinwheel spinning in the wind because of its shape. If it was in an environment full of the same material of which it was made, then this was straightforward: break evenly in two, then have each half absorb its own weight in raw material, then repeat. This is how microorganisms still do it today.

– Once life existed and was able to reproduce, it began to diversify. Slight imperfections in the self-copying process produced different offspring, and some of those differences were carried forward to the next generation. Whichever differences made it easier to survive and procreate, the creatures with those features tended to grow in number relative to the others. At some point a set of single-celled organisms joined together and shared their genetic material; the experiment was successful, and the first multicellular life came about. (Perhaps it had occurred before, but in the wrong conditions, and everything that tried it died.) At a certain point, small amounts of calcium became part of the essential material in the “body”, forming rigid structures; this helped with self-defense, and the viability of bones was established. Every tiny change that came about had to compete with other changes and come out on top, so every change that persisted had to have some benefit (or at least not be a hindrance), and thus a number of useful features began to accumulate. It’s been so long now that living things and their genes seem to be made of nothing but useful features, though some superseded components (like the appendix) have yet to be eliminated entirely.

I recommend reading at least a couple of books on evolution, just so you can know what the theory actually says before deciding whether it’s so unlikely. Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin is about to be accompanied by a TV show. Richard Dawkins’ early book The Blind Watchmaker is a great primer, and has little or none of his recent anti-religious material that puts believers off him. Just don’t restrict yourself only to books on evolution by creationists and/or Intelligent Design proponents, because all they do is claim that various things are impossible when at worst we just don’t know how they happen – and sometimes when we actually do know.

6 thoughts on “From Soup To Fish”

  1. Wilson wrote: “(Just as a lot of atheists find the idea of God absurd I find Evolution completely absurd)”

    One thing that wasn’t pointed out to you is that some of your questions have nothing to do with evolution. Evolution is the changes that happen in living forms over time, be it a single generation or 100 millions years. What you are talking about is the start of life, which is completely different, and that is called abiogenesis. This is a common mistake made by people that do not have a basic understanding of either topic.

    On another note (and I hope you give us a reply to this), have you ever stopped and thought about the absurdity of the circular argument that creationists hold about the start of life? I often hear from cultists that life is way to complex to have begun on its own. Therefore, they say, only a creator could have made such complex beings. That argument is circular nonsense though. Human life is so complex that it had to be created, but an even MORE complex being – a god – has to exist to create the human life. But does the believer apply the same argument to the existence of their god? No. The complex god creature can exist without being created, but human can’t. If your argument is correct and human life is too complex to have happened by chance, how is it that your all-powerful divine being can?

    I hope to read your answer in the future.

    1. Wilson: Sorry I can’t answer your query on abiogenesis because I know little about it. But if you’re still here, I’d be interested to know where you got the idea that evolutionary theory addresses the beginning of ‘life’, or self-replication. Was it school, church? Its always puzzled me that, in the USA at least, such a basic misunderstanding of science seems so commonplace.

      Tim: your second comment brings to mind one of my favourite quotes, from cosmologist John Barrow (who’s a deist):

      “All of these formulae for dealing with the existence of the world are happy to establish some initial cause beyond which explanations will not be sought.”

      Wilson: One of the things that I think many theists fail to grasp is that even if we found irrefutable evidence that a god created the universe / life, this would not qualify as an explanation for why the universe or life exists. It would merely be a description of the state of things. As Tim alluded, how do we then explain the reasons (purpose), methodology and existence of the creator? A naturalistic explanation of how life emerged (which I would place money on being inevitable – and in my lifetime I hope!) would better qualify as an explanation – we wouldn’t need to invoke either purpose or creator. Have you ever considered that possibility, or are you perhaps, as Barrow observes, happier finding justification for your belief in our current gap in knowledge?

      1. “All of these formulae for dealing with the existence of the world are happy to establish some initial cause beyond which explanations will not be sought.”

        Always thought that to be a rather intellectually dishonest thing for him to say too. First, as a scientist, he obviously knows that the evidence will lead you to the answer. The total lack of any evidence pointing to the existence of a god is somewhat damning even though the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Secondly, I feel comfortable in saying that of all the questions that mankind has ever asked since mankind could first start asking them, the question of where life came from and if a divine being had anything to do with it is the most asked and researched of them all. He is trying to suggest that no one is looking for a god, and we all know how absurd a claim that is.

        For a learned man to say that no one is looking for a god (when there obviously are), and that we all should be (even though there is no evidence that suggests one exists) is a breakdown of basic logic…

  2. abiogenesis is cracked thanks to the max planck institute that proved the last reaction in the chan of reaction leading up to forming dna.

    1 the process of hcn polymerisation by uv light from the sun in cold environment is called quantum tunneling ..

    the process has an enormous amount of little steps producing lots of other compounds (little steps in between of instable compounds that r falling apart in short time into again other compounds that have a short life so its difficult to detect , but all leading up to the end product)

    2 the tests have been done in the past years …but now by means of computational Chemistry is proven how they lead up to the final end product ..purine..so the paperwork is done as well.

    and purine changes easy into a and g by addition reaction of h and n

    pirimidine was already explained years ago (c and t)
    -pirimidine sythesis in pre biotic :in concentrated urea solution—such have been found in an evaporating lagoon or in pools on drying beaches on the early Earth—cyanoacetaldehyde reacts to form cytosine in yields of 30-50%, from which uracil can be formed by hydrolysis. These reactions provide a plausible route to the pyrimidine bases required in the RNA world—

    and from the XNA experiments we know that nucleotide forming compounds (nucleobase) will form by themselves nucleotides….xna has formed by itself a 6 nucleotide structure…..we, dna have only 4.

    so its even more complex as we are

    3 however in XNA the atp molecule adenine was missing , so oxygen metabolism wasnt possible becouse at that moment we couldnt account for purine, so we made a molecule that helps metabolism from scratch…xna lives and prospers.and evolves like mad.

    in the past 63 yrs. we have reconstructed the entire process leading up to the forming of nucleotide forming compounds ..and finally we have the last reaction in the chain of reactions cracked..

    the ATP molecule adenine for metabolism (and guanine) r proven how they form

    so abiogenesis is cracked , article 24 6 2013 MP institute fur kohlenforschung.
    http://www.kofo.mpg.de/en/news-events/news/excited-but-cold-scientists-unveil-the-secret-of-a-reaction-for-prebiotic-synthesis-of-organic

    the gazillionth nail in the coffin of ur nonexisting god..

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