Forget the mustard seed. Behold the amino acid, the building block of the protein, lifeless in itself, and yet, given enough time and chance, it self assembles into the greatest tree of all: the Tree of Life. So is the kingdom of—.
Hold it right there, atheist prophet!
Over at Uncommon Descent yesterday, I thought that Gil Dodgen crisply and admirably stated the problem of dicing time accounting for the origin of life:
The important thing to keep in mind concerning probabilities and the origin of life is that proteins, and everything else in a living cell, are manufactured by machinery which is controlled by an abstract-representation digital coding system. Proteins not only don’t self-assemble, they cannot self-assemble, because basic chemistry drives the process in the opposite direction.
Once this is taken into consideration all arguments that assert, “But it could have happened by chance,” are rendered ludicrous on their face.
By way of analogy, the basic Darwinian argument for the origin of life goes something like this:
1) Clay occurs naturally.
2) Bricks are made of clay.
3) Therefore, there is some (given enough time) probability that houses made of clay bricks came about by stochastic processes and the chemistry of clay.
While I think that Dodgen overstates his case (by using the word “ludicrous” with regards to chance formation hypotheses), and while I also think that chemical processes do show themselves capable of going, under some conditions, in the generally right direction, towards life (think of the amino acid chains produced by the Miller-Urey experiments), I think that Dodgen nevertheless arrives at a startling analogy: proteins are to amino acids as brick houses are to clay. Of course, the first living cell would have been far more complex than a brick house, but this doesn’t hurt the case for telos in the universe, does it?
Wiki Commons: “Aleksandr Oparin and Andrei Kursanov in enzymology laboratory 1938”.