February 8, 2019 | David F. Coppedge

Clutter Created You

OOL without designing intelligence is a fOOL’s errand. Watch smart chemists act like intellectually-fOOLfilled atheists.

Scientific materialism has one ironclad rule: No mind. No God. No supernatural intervention. Stuff happens all by itself. Thus restricted, materialists who may know a lot about chemistry may exhibit utter lack of logic. Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fOOLs.

Drawing by Brett Miller for CEH.

Take Keith Cooper’s headline from Astrobiology Magazine: “Cleaning up the clutter: how proto-biology arose from the prebiotic clutter.” First, the protagonist in the story has to dispense with designing intelligence.

Just like the mythical creation stories that depict the formation of the world as the story of order from chaos, the early Earth was home to a chaotic clutter of organic molecules from which, somehow, more complex biological structures such as RNA and DNA emerged.

There was no guiding hand to dictate how the molecules within that prebiotic clutter should interact to form life. Yet, had those molecules just interacted randomly then, in all likelihood, that they would never have chanced upon the right interactions to ultimately lead to life.

“The question is, out of all the random possibilities, are there any rules that govern these interactions?” asks Ramanarayanan Krishnamurthy, an organic chemist at the Scripps Research Institute in California.

Notice several things. First, the people responsible for this story dismiss any “guiding hand” from square one. That’s an argument by assertion that merely reconfirms their commitment to atheism. Second, they know that the current orderly world could not have emerged by randomness (thus the need for “rules that govern” mindless molecules. They have their work cut out for them. No mind; no guidance; just laws of nature (rules).

Could the complex molecules required for life emerge spontaneously by chance? Credit: Illustra Media, Origin.

These rules would be selective, inevitably leading to the right interactions for assembling life’s building blocks. To unlock the secrets of these rules and how the prebiotic clutter transitioned to the biologically ordered world of life, Krishnamurthy utilizes a discipline called “systems chemistry,” and published a paper concerning the topic in the journal Accounts of Chemical Research that explores this relatively new way of understanding how life came from non-life.

Nobel prize-winner and geneticist Jack Szostak of Harvard Medical School describes systems chemistry as: “one of the news ways of thinking about the problems of prebiotic chemistry.” To understand how systems chemistry works, think of a flask full of chemical A, to which another chemical, B, is added and which reacts with A to produce two more chemicals, C and D. Since no process is 100 percent efficient, the flask now contains chemicals A, B, C and D. “So now you have a system,” explains Krishnamurthy. Systems chemistry considers the system as a whole and explores the rules within that system that govern how each chemical interacts with the others, and in different conditions.

All we have been told so far as that clutter added to clutter creates a system. Tell that to your teenager. He can justify his messy room by calling it a system, and start a new science of Systems Clutter to explain that he is doing ‘research’ on the origin of order from chaos.

Szostak and RK are aware of the enormous improbability of useful molecules coming together by chance (see clip “The Amoeba’s Journey” from the Illustra Media film Origin). He calls systems chemistry a way of thinking. “It’s a matter of thinking about what chemicals or conditions are likely to be available and likely to be helpful.” Thought experiments have been productive sometimes in science, but experimentation is the acid test.

Of course, unravelling the chemistry of the prebiotic clutter is a far cry from explaining the interactions of four chemicals in a flask. The computing and analytical power required to simulate such a complex system was beyond reach just a decade or two ago. Instead, the majority of research into the origin of life previously had focused on individual classes of biomolecules, the most promising being RNA (ribonucleic acid).

Further reading shows major problems with the “RNA World” hypothesis these days, in spite of decades of hype about the insight it had provided. Krishnamurthry (lets call him RK) knocks Miller’s spark-discharge icon while he’s at it.

The RNA world has, however, come in for much criticism lately, which Krishnamurthy believes is deserved. RNA is able to transfer genetic information in organisms and is made of chains of ribonucleotides. But there’s a catch.

“Nucleotides don’t just pop up from chemical mixtures, they have to be made in a very defined manner,” he says. “There has to be a certain order to the reaction sequence. It’s not like Stanley Miller’s spark discharge experiment where he put all these gases together, pressed a switch and ‘Voila!‘”

Young Stanley Miller with his iconic spark-discharge experiment.

Miller, we recall, only could say ‘Voila!‘ about tiny amounts of four amino acids, all mixed-handed (see the Illustra Media film Origin). Amino acids are not rare. Life uses only twenty types, all left-handed, out of hundreds of amino acids. RNA and DNA are much more complicated molecules. Their formation goes against the natural laws of chemistry. Szostak, a leading past proponent of the RNA World hypothesis, knows that.

Although Szostak agrees that systems chemistry has the power to support the RNA world theory, or at least explain the origin of RNA, he points out that a disproportionate amount of work has been put into understanding how nucleotides form, and not enough into what happens after that. “There are still missing steps in understanding how RNA could be made,” he says. So, the challenge now for systems chemistry is to show how and why each of these stages occur.

“Just synthesizing a monomer of RNA like a nucleoside or a nucleotide isn’t enough to say you’ve found the origin of RNA,” says Krishnamurthy. “How do you put those monomers together in a meaningful manner that is self-sustainable?

Graphics here and at bottom by Brett Miller. Used by permission.

Further pained reading of this doomed article shows RK struggling to find “selection” in prebiotic chemistry that might lead not to life, but to “proto-biochemistry”. He gives his ordered clutter a mouthful of a term: “homogeneous heterogeneity.” That’s opposed to “heterogeneous heterogeneity” (i.e., disordered clutter). We’re getting smarter every day. “In other words, it is the emergence from the prebiotic clutter of an orderly proto-biochemistry.” Then we learn that progress is all in futureware:

There is a long way to go yet and Krishnamurthy recommends that progress will be best made with baby steps as scientists develop this bottom-up approach to the origin of life from the heterogeneous prebiotic clutter. By discovering reactions and catalysis that select the right interactions between organic compounds, the aim is to build up our understanding of how the basic building blocks assembled — how, for example, RNA emerged from the chaos.

For reasons why materialism is unscientific, see this Illustra film.

Baby steps are useless if the baby is blind, deaf, and has nowhere to go. That’s a random walk. You cannot impose a goal on mindless molecules, like Mom coaxing baby toward her loving hands. They’ll just do whatever the laws of chemistry tell them to do. There is no natural selection, either; all OOL storytellers admit that. Optimism is no substitute for experimentation.

Ultimately the wish is to build an experimental simulation that includes the entire heterogeneous heterogeneity of the prebiotic clutter in a replica of Earth’s early environment, and then to run that simulation over and over again to see which selective interactions are most common and whether they can repeat the origin of life.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to work out reasonable pathways for making all the building blocks of biology, and for assembling these components into simple, primitive cells,” says Szostak. “However, there is a lot to be learned before we can accomplish this ambitious goal.”

Order emerging from chaos: Is this not one of the very creation myths the article began dismissing in the first paragraph?

The terms “baby steps” and “building blocks of life” use the power of suggestion to fool the unwary. They give the impression that molecules are striving to become alive. They create visions of progress, crying “Information, information” when there is no information. They are broken cisterns that can hold no water; clouds without rain; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

These intellectually fOOL-filled atheists are cheaters. They impose their own creative minds and goals on mindless molecules, coaxing them to do what they want. That’s unfair. Let them put all the cluttered molecules into a sealed tank, take their guiding hands off, and come back in a billion years to see what emerges. That would be scientific. Teasing people with the Building Blocks of Lie is not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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