Origin of Life: Would Darwin Approve of Lying?
Like any tyranny, one-party rule by the Darwin consensus
is unhealthy. It encourages laziness and propaganda.
Would Darwin be a Darwinist today? That question was posed by Don Batten at CMI in 2009 (reposted today, 20 Sept 2022). Batten opines that though Charley might be shocked at the complexity of molecular motors in cells, and worried about the ability of life to assemble unguided in his imaginary “warm little pond,” his materialist philosophy would overrule his reason, and he would remain a Darwinist—in spite of the evidence.
In a similar vein a podcast at ID the Future asked what might happen if Darwin visited the 21st century and learned about DNA. Based on a novella by Nickell John Romjue, the story in Darwin’s imaginary words is told in several episodes at icharlesdarwin.com. In both articles, the origin of life and complexity of the cell would have cut to the heart of Darwinism. Would Darwin have changed his mind in the face of the new evidence? If not, would he have approved of lying about it?
Another fact of history is that tyrannies tend to engage in more and more invocations of the Big Lie tactic. Dictatorships maintain their power by eliminating a free press. The party’s official narrative must be maintained at all costs, no matter the evidence. Once a one-party regime has established itself, one result is laziness. The Party’s organs of propaganda no longer feel that debate is necessary, since everyone who has survived the purges agrees with the party’s narrative. This is known as Consensus.
Reporters keep their jobs and gain prestige in the Party apparatus by showing their loyalty and allegiance to the narrative. Their journalistic products can take two forms: glittering generalities and bluffing. Glittering generalities keep the Party happy by making the narrative appear intuitively obvious and simple to laymen. Bluffing keeps the Party happy by overwhelming the more intelligent readers with an appearance of scholarship.
Here are examples of each of these forms in news items, one concerning the origin of life, one concerning Darwinian fitness.
Origin of Life – In an RNA Pocket (Weizmann Wonder Wander, 14 Sept 2022). The research staff and press agents at the Weizmann Institute wander as they wonder about their labs of Rehovot, Israel, thinking about how best to present the complex subject of the origin of life to lay readers. They decide that oversimplification and positive thinking are the best strategy. Make it into a fairy story. Once upon a time—
This story begins several billion years ago. There’s only chemistry, no biology – that is, plenty of chemical compounds exist on Earth, but life hasn’t yet emerged. Then, among myriads of randomly self-assembled chemical structures, one tiny RNA molecular machine reveals itself as perfectly suitable for creating bonds between activated amino acids, the building blocks of future proteins. It’s a turning point in the story of our planet: The synthesis of proteins, biological molecules essential for life, can now begin.
A good fairy story needs heroes. Three women whose pictures in the article play the roles of fairy godmothers.
Prof. Ada Yonath and her team at the Weizmann Institute of Science believe they have recreated that moment in the lab, showing how it might have happened. As to the primordial peptide-bond-making machine, they discovered that it’s still present in virtually every cell of all living organisms, from bacteria to plants and animals, including ourselves.
It’s so simple. The origin of life is in the pocket! A tiny pocket in a fold of RNA molecules scrunches amino acids together, and life is on the way to evolving into university professors, given billions and billions of years. This pocket is part of a complex molecular machine called the ribosome. Where did that come from? Why, from a protoribosome! Where did that come from? It might have come from outer space. Oooh. Aaah, say the readers. Things assemble by accident. They arise. They go viral (readers like that!). Stuff Happens…zzzzzz….
The protoribosome came about when a bunch of RNA nucleotide chains self-assembled into two semisymmetrical walls hooked up to create a pocket. Endless other structures must have accidentally self-assembled around the same time, but the protoribosome survived, “going viral,” it seems, because it performed useful functions and, thanks to RNA’s intrinsic capabilities, it could self-replicate. When two activated amino acids happened to interact with one another within this pocket, they formed a bond, facilitated by the prevailing chemical conditions. Those amino acids may have arisen on Earth or, as some argue, landed with asteroids from outer space, but their origin is irrelevant to our story. What matters is that within the protoribosome, two activated amino acids could bind to each other. Later on, such bond making united many more amino acids, linking them into a chain.
For anyone familiar with origin-of-life challenges, it is hard to overstate the goofiness of this story. But if it hypnotizes the readers, putting them to sleep so they trust in the narrative and have sweet dreams, so much the better for the Party. And look: the Party took over Israel, where people used to believe in a Creator God. That was so B.C.E. Now, Darwin has set up a fun Fantasyland. Let Goofy take you on a tour!
At the opposite end of the propaganda spectrum, there is bluffing: the appearance of scholarship to sway the unwary. In PNAS recently, Sharma and Traulsen from Germany presented a case for Darwinian fitness that most intellectual readers would fear to challenge. By employing an abstruse narrative built on “evolutionary graph theory,” and burying the reader in calculus, they show that Stuff can Happen: mutations can lead to evolutionary progress, even in cases of high mutation rates!
But what about deleterious mutations? They explain that organisms can progress by evolving to “reject deleterious mutations,” because, they say, there are “amplifiers of selection” at work to increase fitness (at least in computer models). The authors assume that beneficial mutations will occur without giving any examples of one. But that’s beside the point. Stand in awe of their mathematical wizardry.
Here’s a taste of one of the milder derivations in this paper:
Don’t even try to understand this, let alone question it. The bluffing is not intended to convince you how the Stuff Happens Law can actually build an eye or a wing. It’s intended to mentally beat you into submission, so that you learn never to question the Darwin Party.
We developed a model that takes such a continuous supply of mutations into account. We worked in the low mutation rate regime, where the fixation time of a mutant is much smaller than the average time between the two successive mutants. We found that the prevention of deleterious mutants from fixing can be more important than increasing the chances of advantageous mutants in order to obtain a higher steady-state fitness in the mutation–selection balance.
In the Darwinian narrative, evolution can suppress bad mutations and amplify good mutations. So now you know: Darwinism is supported on a strong mathematical basis. Computer models and calculus prove it. No data from nature are necessary. Any further debate or discussion would be unscientific. Stuff can happen. Darwin be forever praised!
If your head needs cleaning, please get some common sense and legitimate science now about the origin of life and Darwinism: