Argument from the Origin of Life

Stephen Meyer of the discover institute has looked at the cell and found that it contains a remarkable amount of information, which Meyers defines as “specified complexity”.  Proteins, for example, are complex because of how many different parts they have in a very particular order and this complexity is “specified” because it allows the protein to perform a specific function (such as catalyzing an enzyme).  This specified complexity is achieved by the molecular forces of the various amino acids (building blocks of proteins) working on each other to cause the protein to fold in such a way as to allow its function.  If the amino acids were arranged differently, then the protein wouldn’t work because its shape would no longer fit its function.

Meyers asked the question, what are the odds that a functioning protein with just 150 amino acids could come together by random chance?  He looks at three specific factors of proteins to develop the math.  First he asked the question, in the whole range of possible proteins, what is the ratio of functional proteins to non-functional proteins?  According to Doug Axe, Director of the Biologic Institute who received his PhD from Caltech, the ratio works out to about one functional protein in every 1074 possible proteins.  In addition there are two different types of amino acid isomers possible at each amino acid site, and two different linkages possible between sites with only one option viable in either case (the odds of getting both correct throughout the protein is 1090).  Doing a little basic math we see that the odds of getting a single functional protein with 150 amino acids is 10164.

This is absurdly improbable.  In order to put this into perspective, let’s do some math with the number of elementary particles in the universe (1080) and the number of seconds since the big bang (1016).  If you were to blow up every elementary particle in the universe to the size of a protein, give it a random distribution of 150 amino acids, linkages, and isomers, and re-randomize those acids, links, and isomers every second throughout the history of the universe you would still have incomprehensibly small odds of getting even one functional protein (1 in 1068 that even one functional protein emerges at any point in the universe’s history).

Just how improbable is that?  As of this writing the odds of winning the Powerball lottery jackpot in the US is 1 in 292 million.  It would be more likely that you win the Powerball 8 times in a row than to get one functional protein in the setting described above.  Remember, though, that when it comes to the origin of life on earth not every elementary particle in the universe was present nor were their acids, isomers, and linkages randomized every second.  Also keep in mind that you need more than just one functioning protein to have a viable cell, you need hundreds.

The specific arrangement of the amino acids constitutes the “information” that Meyers describes.  So where did this information come from?  In 100% of our past experience, wherever information is produced the cause has been a designing agency.  It is for that reason that Stephen Meyers concludes that the information contained in the cell constitutes good evidence for a designer.


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