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How did life begin?

January 10, 2013
The Journal

To the editor:

One of the anonymous commenter's (2:44 P.M.) responded to the Jan 5 'Let's get back to the Christian way' with what appears to be a pro-evolution stance, saying: "Schools are for education - not indoctrination"

I have a 2004 Holt Biology high school textbook. Chapter 12, "How Did Life Begin?" starts with the basic chemicals of life and then moves on to the 1980's T.Cech hypothesis - "RNA was the first self-replicating information-storage molecule and it catalyzed the assembly of the first proteins." The verification of this has never been observed experimentally (in prebiotic conditions). But the real question is where did the information come from to produce those complex manufacturing processes? Information does not have physical properties, but it can be written on physical things like paper, microchip, DNA molecule, etc. We can make the connection that intelligence applied the information onto the carrier material.

Suppose a guy is hiking in northern Minnesota and comes across an old rusty tractor. He begins to imagine how it got there: "Well, I know there are iron ore deposits nearby, perhaps a great forest fire and high winds blew chunks of super hot charcoal onto the ore and smelted it into molten steel, then an earthquake moved the molten steel into clay mold impressions that were made by worms. More evolutionary processes continued over the ages until there was a tractor." Finally getting a grip on reality, he remembers that tractors are made in factories.

Likewise you could say that even the smallest living thing, a one cell bacteria, is made in a factory, a factory that makes another factory just like itself. In it are machines that make parts for other machines, machines that assemble machines, then check for errors and scrap incorrectly assembled units, a shipping and receiving department that checks material coming into the cell and stuff going out, little trucks running all over the place hauling stuff for internal factory use and stuff going outside, gate keepers, garbage handlers, fuel manufacturing machines, highway builders for the trucks, a communications network that monitors conditions inside and outside of the cell, and communicates with internal departments and other cells. And all the instructions on how to do this are written on a master blue print DNA molecule.

And finally, there is the most complex machine in the universe; the human brain with it's 100 trillion connections producing a mass of communications that exceeds that of the internet. Scientists involved in the Human Brain Project (to simulate the human brain) say they need a computer that runs in the exabyte range, (that's ten to the 18th power, flops per second) it will consume 20 megawatts of power but won't be available until 2020. HBP should done by 2023.

Was it intelligence that put instructions into the DNA blue print on how to build a brain that doesn't consume 20 megawatts of power, rivals the internet and can be built in 9 months? Or, was it just a few dead chemicals getting together and producing intelligence we cannot even compete with? Two options here; give the kids a choice.

Phil Drietz




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