March 8, 2021 | David F. Coppedge

Great Oxidation Myth Unravels, Saved by the Scenario

Darwinians never give up a useful myth. When it falls apart, they patch it up with imagination.

Evolutionists have a store of sub-myths under the main RM+NS myth (random mutation and natural selection account for all the diversity of life). Among them are the origin of life, the RNA World, the Cambrian Explosion, the Great Dying, the Dinosaur Meteor Strike, the Younger Dryas, and more. One of the most familiar in evolutionary circles is the Great Oxidation Event, sometimes rendered the Great Oxygenation Event. It even received its own acronym: GOE.

The GOE supposedly represents a major turning point in evolution, when oxygen levels rose in the atmosphere (probably due to photosynthesis or anaerobic microbes releasing O2 as a by-product). Consequently, the new, improved “aerobic” microbes were able to use the energetic molecule for more efficient metabolism, and the evolutionary race took off. Eukaryotes appeared, then multicellularity, and so on. Humans would emerge in the distant future.

The GOE has run into trouble from time to time. In 2013, scientists calculated that photosynthetic organisms evolved up to 700 years before the GOE (29 Sept 2013). Earlier, some even argued GOE had been dethroned (17 April 2009). But the GOE sub-myth lives on, still spoken of as a matter of historical fact that occurred 2.4 billion Darwin Years ago. Now, another anomaly has hit the myth: evolutionists have calculated using molecular clocks that aerobic microbes emerged at least 500 million years earlier than the GOE—perhaps as early as 3.1 billion Darwin Years ago. This makes no sense, as Robert Service explains in Science Magazine (5 March 2021):

Yet skeptics have argued that if oxygen producers and users came along that early, they would have spread quickly across the globe. That’s because using oxygen allows organisms to extract more energy from their food. But the Great Oxidation Event, which left sediments around the world filled with red bands of iron oxides, didn’t occur until about 2.4 billion years ago.

Not to worry. Dan Tawfik of the Weizmann Institute in Israel, with his smiling colleague Jagoda Jabłońska, have a solution to the problem they created (they’re the ones who used molecular clocks to speculate that aerobes emerged 3.1 billion years ago, long before the GOE).

One solution they came up with is to say that the Great Oxygenation Event (their preferred phrase) was not so great after all. Microbes were using oxygen long before the GOE.

Another solution they proposed is that “protein evolution could help the issue.” Dan and Jagoda spent a lot of time calculating molecular clocks on microbes. Molecular clock dating assumes that organisms mutate at steady rates – a dubious, if not circular, assumption. The pair knows this method is fraught with errors:

“Of course, it was far from simple,” says Tawfik. “Genes can be lost in some organisms, giving the impression they evolved later in members in which they held on. And microorganisms share genes horizontally, messing up the phylogenetic trees and leading to an overestimation of the enzyme’s age. We had to correct for the latter, especially.”

Correcting for the latter means holding their methods to the standard evolutionary timeline. DODO methodology means that all data must conform to Darwin’s story of gradual progress by chance.

A third solution was to postulate the existence of landlubber bacteria in a new, bursty scenario:

The phylogenetic trees the researchers ultimately obtained showed a burst of oxygen-based enzyme evolution about 3 billion years ago – something like half a billion years before the GOE. Examining this time frame further, the scientists found that rather than coinciding with the takeover of atmospheric oxygen, this burst dated to the time that bacteria left the oceans and began to colonize the land. A few oxygen-using enzymes could be traced back even farther. If oxygen use had coincided with the GOE, the enzymes that use it would have evolved later, so the findings supported the scenario in which oxygen was already known to many life forms by the time the GOE took place.

The landlubbers were glad to find oxygen, because it offers wonderful energy. But they had to “evolve” ways to dispose of it, because as a reactive molecule it is also “potentially damaging.” Evolution to the rescue! Whatever function is needed, Darwinism is sure to provide, because Stuff Happens.

So photosynthetic organisms as well as other organisms living in their vicinity had to quickly develop ways to efficiently dispose of oxygen. This would account for the emergence of oxygen-utilizing enzymes that would remove molecular oxygen from cells. One microorganism’s waste, however, is another’s potential source of life. Oxygen’s unique reactivity enabled organisms to break down and use “resilient” molecules such as aromatics and lipids, so enzymes that take up and use oxygen likely began evolving soon after.

What does Robert Service think of this scenario? He states it only to bring up problems with it. It preserves gradualism and the GOE, but doesn’t solve everything.

The new timeline suggests early oxygen producers and users didn’t immediately sweep the planet, the researchers say. Rather, they likely evolved in small pockets that slowly spread over hundreds of millions of years. Only when they became abundant enough did these organisms modify Earth’s environment enough to lead to the Great Oxidation Event. “I feel like an archaeologist that is opening a grave for the first time,” Tawfik says.

Still, Shih and others caution that the team’s dating could be off, because molecular clocks are still an evolving science. “The order of events is almost certainly robust,” says Roger Buick, an astrobiologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. “But the timing of the events may not be.”

This theory-rescue tactic resembles what evolutionary cosmologists and biologists do: tinker with “scenarios” until one turns up that saves Darwinism. Even if the timing might be off, whatever seems to work is good enough. Fortunately, the Stuff Happens Law is able to make necessary things “emerge” on cue (oxygen-utilizing enzymes, photosynthesis—you know, all those simple little things). From the beginning of this kind of scenario-making, one thing is certain from the start: Darwinism will always survive.

Our readers certainly realize how incredibly complex enzymes are. And photosynthesis? Bad grief, they’re not going to just “emerge” and show up when they are needed! This is crazy, but it is how Darwinians think. Natural selection is their magic wand that makes stuff happen the way they want it to. You call this science?


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