The Statement of Chemistry on the Origin of Life

In his August 1954, Scientific American article, "The Origin of Life," Nobel Prize winning Harvard Biologist George Wald stated,

"One only has to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation."

What is "the magnitude of this task" that reasonably renders a natural origin of life "impossible?" Dr. Wald states,

"In the vast majority of processes in which we are interested the point of equilibrium lies far over toward the side of dissolution. That is to say, spontaneous dissolution is much more probable, and hence proceeds much more rapidly, than spontaneous synthesis."

The processes of interest include building proteins, DNA, RNA, and lipids. Nature does not engage in the "processes" of building these life-essential molecules (synthesis); Nature, rather, dismantles them (dissolution), if they exist at all.

Why? Nature inexorably proceeds towards "equilibrium" (Chemical Equilibrium), the most stable state. For example, the most stable state for amino acids in Nature is individual amino acids, not proteins.

Building a protein, DNA, RNA, or lipid is an endothermic reaction, which is a reaction that requires an input of energy which will remain with the compound (until Nature takes it apart), plus an activation energy to cause the individual parts to combine. Over-simplifying, the reverse reaction, the destruction of the compound, dissolution, requires only the activation energy which is less energy than required for building, synthesizing, the compound. The dissolution, the destruction of the compound, releases the inherent energy in the compound and is termed an "exothermic" reaction. Nature prefers exothermic reactions, which for the life-essential compounds noted is destruction, not construction. Nature does not construct proteins, DNA, RNA, or lipids. 

Dr. Wald further states,

"How do present-day organisms manage to synthesize organic compounds against the forces of dissolution? They do so by a continuous expenditure of energy. … A living organism is an intricate machine for performing exactly that function. … What we ask here is to synthesize organic molecules without such a machine. … it calls for phenomena and forces … some probably yet to be discovered."

The "phenomena and forces" have not been discovered. The operating principle, Chemical Equilibrium, the foundation of Chemistry, the inexorable progress towards stability, towards death rather than life, will not be overcome, to any useful extent, by natural "phenomena and forces", ever, in this Universe. That principle, Chemical Equilibrium, the principle upon which Nature’s Chemistry operates is absolute. What is required is an "intricate machine," a living cell, in a very controlled environment, which uses energy with exceptional precision and design, to build rather than destroy -- which is Nature’s direction. A living cell is incredibly complex, "intricate," and all parts of the cell have to be in place simultaneously or it will not function at all; in fact, Nature will destroy any partial cell (which Nature could never construct at all). The term "simple cell" is the greatest oxymoron in the English language

Dr. Wald proffers probability as a possible solution ("yet … I believe," because given enough time, Wald speculated, anything can happen), but time is not the savior; time leads to equilibrium, to dissolution, not to "anything," at least in this Universe. And, if Chemical Equilibrium could be overcome, naturally, where probability would then be relevant, the incomprehensible number of compounds which could be formed could never be sorted, selected to construct anything useful. Both Chemical Equilibrium and probability are absolute blocks to life. 

The problem is not what we don’t know; the problem, now revealed by microbiology, is what we do know.

"We now know not only of the existence of a break between the living and non-living world, but also that it represents the most dramatic and fundamental of all of the discontinuities of nature. Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system, such as a crystal or a snow flake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive." Michael Denton, Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, p. 249,250, 1985.

Absolute. Science, specifically, astronomy, origin of life research via chemistry, biology, microbiology, the present ability to assess the efficacy of random mutation, geology, informatics, and probability all lead to the conclusion that a designer was necessary. The designer? Having reviewed the philosophies and religions of the world, the support for the different persuasions and the questions, there is no doubt in my mind that the Designer is the Person revealed in the pages of the Bible.

The statement of Chemistry is that "Life is not a natural phenomenon." That statement is absolute.

(Very readable) Sources for understanding the issues:

https://evolutionnews.org/ (Excellent source for understanding the issues on origin of life and evolution.)

Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Michael Behe, 1996. (This book addresses the complexity of and route to a molecular machine among the staggering collection of molecular machines comprising the ultimate biological molecular machine, a living cell.)

The Edge of Evolution, The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, Michael Behe, 2008. (It is assumed by Darwinists that random mutation of the genome is an effective mechanism to produce what we see in the fossil record. Given our recent ability to sequence the genomes of organisms, that assumption can now be directly addressed.)

Dr. Michael Behe’s responses to his critics (on the web) are also a very informative source of information and perspective.

Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton, 1985. (This will be current material for many more decades. Dr. Denton applies science to assess the data on the origin of life and its subsequent development.)

Programming of Life, Donald E. Johnson, 2010. (Ever write a computer program? Information is another absolute roadblock to a natural origin of life.)

www.reasons.org  (Excellent source on astronomy, geology, the Earth’s formation, as well as origin of life and evolution.)

Genesis, The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin, Robert M. Hazen, 2005. (Dr. Hazen, believes in a natural origin of life. This is an excellent book which goes into some detail about the scientific experiments which attempt to address natural origin-of-life issues. After reading it carefully, I wondered if the eminent researchers were listening to what science, chemistry was revealing, and I wondered that none of them named the common underlying problem, Chemical Equilibrium.)

In his August 1954, Scientific American article, "The Origin of Life," Nobel Prize winning Harvard Biologist George Wald stated,

"One only has to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation."

What is "the magnitude of this task" that reasonably renders a natural origin of life "impossible?" Dr. Wald states,

"In the vast majority of processes in which we are interested the point of equilibrium lies far over toward the side of dissolution. That is to say, spontaneous dissolution is much more probable, and hence proceeds much more rapidly, than spontaneous synthesis."

The processes of interest include building proteins, DNA, RNA, and lipids. Nature does not engage in the "processes" of building these life-essential molecules (synthesis); Nature, rather, dismantles them (dissolution), if they exist at all.

Why? Nature inexorably proceeds towards "equilibrium" (Chemical Equilibrium), the most stable state. For example, the most stable state for amino acids in Nature is individual amino acids, not proteins.

Building a protein, DNA, RNA, or lipid is an endothermic reaction, which is a reaction that requires an input of energy which will remain with the compound (until Nature takes it apart), plus an activation energy to cause the individual parts to combine. Over-simplifying, the reverse reaction, the destruction of the compound, dissolution, requires only the activation energy which is less energy than required for building, synthesizing, the compound. The dissolution, the destruction of the compound, releases the inherent energy in the compound and is termed an "exothermic" reaction. Nature prefers exothermic reactions, which for the life-essential compounds noted is destruction, not construction. Nature does not construct proteins, DNA, RNA, or lipids. 

Dr. Wald further states,

"How do present-day organisms manage to synthesize organic compounds against the forces of dissolution? They do so by a continuous expenditure of energy. … A living organism is an intricate machine for performing exactly that function. … What we ask here is to synthesize organic molecules without such a machine. … it calls for phenomena and forces … some probably yet to be discovered."

The "phenomena and forces" have not been discovered. The operating principle, Chemical Equilibrium, the foundation of Chemistry, the inexorable progress towards stability, towards death rather than life, will not be overcome, to any useful extent, by natural "phenomena and forces", ever, in this Universe. That principle, Chemical Equilibrium, the principle upon which Nature’s Chemistry operates is absolute. What is required is an "intricate machine," a living cell, in a very controlled environment, which uses energy with exceptional precision and design, to build rather than destroy -- which is Nature’s direction. A living cell is incredibly complex, "intricate," and all parts of the cell have to be in place simultaneously or it will not function at all; in fact, Nature will destroy any partial cell (which Nature could never construct at all). The term "simple cell" is the greatest oxymoron in the English language

Dr. Wald proffers probability as a possible solution ("yet … I believe," because given enough time, Wald speculated, anything can happen), but time is not the savior; time leads to equilibrium, to dissolution, not to "anything," at least in this Universe. And, if Chemical Equilibrium could be overcome, naturally, where probability would then be relevant, the incomprehensible number of compounds which could be formed could never be sorted, selected to construct anything useful. Both Chemical Equilibrium and probability are absolute blocks to life. 

The problem is not what we don’t know; the problem, now revealed by microbiology, is what we do know.

"We now know not only of the existence of a break between the living and non-living world, but also that it represents the most dramatic and fundamental of all of the discontinuities of nature. Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system, such as a crystal or a snow flake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive." Michael Denton, Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, p. 249,250, 1985.

Absolute. Science, specifically, astronomy, origin of life research via chemistry, biology, microbiology, the present ability to assess the efficacy of random mutation, geology, informatics, and probability all lead to the conclusion that a designer was necessary. The designer? Having reviewed the philosophies and religions of the world, the support for the different persuasions and the questions, there is no doubt in my mind that the Designer is the Person revealed in the pages of the Bible.

The statement of Chemistry is that "Life is not a natural phenomenon." That statement is absolute.

(Very readable) Sources for understanding the issues:

https://evolutionnews.org/ (Excellent source for understanding the issues on origin of life and evolution.)

Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Michael Behe, 1996. (This book addresses the complexity of and route to a molecular machine among the staggering collection of molecular machines comprising the ultimate biological molecular machine, a living cell.)

The Edge of Evolution, The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, Michael Behe, 2008. (It is assumed by Darwinists that random mutation of the genome is an effective mechanism to produce what we see in the fossil record. Given our recent ability to sequence the genomes of organisms, that assumption can now be directly addressed.)

Dr. Michael Behe’s responses to his critics (on the web) are also a very informative source of information and perspective.

Evolution, A Theory in Crisis, Michael Denton, 1985. (This will be current material for many more decades. Dr. Denton applies science to assess the data on the origin of life and its subsequent development.)

Programming of Life, Donald E. Johnson, 2010. (Ever write a computer program? Information is another absolute roadblock to a natural origin of life.)

www.reasons.org  (Excellent source on astronomy, geology, the Earth’s formation, as well as origin of life and evolution.)

Genesis, The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin, Robert M. Hazen, 2005. (Dr. Hazen, believes in a natural origin of life. This is an excellent book which goes into some detail about the scientific experiments which attempt to address natural origin-of-life issues. After reading it carefully, I wondered if the eminent researchers were listening to what science, chemistry was revealing, and I wondered that none of them named the common underlying problem, Chemical Equilibrium.)