THE IMPOSSIBLE ACCIDENT
is the only good explanation
for the origin of
life and the complexity of nature'.5
Professor Anthony Flew,
Not very long ago, religion was the only guide to the way the world
For right or for wrong the various scriptures of
theological tradition provided a way of making sense of everything
from the miracle of birth to the movement of the stars in the sky.
But today we have rational thinking - we have science.
The word 'science' is from the Latin scire, meaning 'to know' and it
is concerned with the
organization of objectively verifiable sense experience.
words, it makes sense of the way we see the world in a testable and
verifiable way. It seems that there is nothing that science cannot
explain given enough time and study. From Anthropology to Zoology,
the people of the twenty-first century have experts who can explain
where almost everything came from and how it works.
But science does have its limits. The
principle, for example, means
that we cannot exactly know the position and the momentum of a
particle simultaneously. We can choose one or the other - but we
cannot have both. And there is at least one subject that science
appears to be unable to explain. The origin of life.
In his book, How to Think Straight, Professor Anthony Flew has
pointed out that practical
reasoning and clear thinking are essential for everyone who wants to
make proper sense of the information we receive each day.
stresses the importance of being able to quickly know the difference
between valid and invalid arguments, the contradictory versus the
contrary, vagueness and ambiguity, contradiction and
self-contradiction, the truthful and the fallacious. These, he says,
are the qualities that separate clear thinkers from the
After sixty-six years as a leading champion of atheism and
logical thinking, Professor Anthony Flew has made sense of new
information which has led him to state that science appears to have
proven the existence of God.
Flew's reason for this monumental
about turn is the discovery of evidence that shows that some sort of
intelligence must have created the world we inhabit. He has
particularly pointed to the investigation of DNA by biologists,
which has shown that an unbelievable complexity of the arrangements
are needed to produce life; leading to the conclusion that
intelligence must have been involved.
We have bemoaned the lack of objectivity that often pervades the
academic community but we must applaud a m an who is prepared, at
the age of eighty-one, to throw away the cornerstone of his life's
work. That takes guts!
The first the world knew of Flew's change of heart was his letter to
the August-September 2004 issue of the Philosophy Now journal where
'It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to
think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of
that first reproducing
Flew is a man of principle and when he was asked if his startlingly
new ideas would upset some people, he responded by saying,
too bad... my whole life has been guided by the principle of
Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.'
That is exactly what we are trying to do with the
information we have gathered about the Moon and the origins of life
on our apparently designed incubator.
We have arrived at a point where we need to try and understand the
emergence of life. And
we find, at this precise moment, that the old assumptions about how
life originated have been thrown out of the window.
The first question we asked ourselves is: What do we mean by 'life'?
We use the term to cover all kinds of organisms from cyano-bacteria
to plants and animals. The essence of life is reproduction, the
formation of identical or near identical copies of a complex
structure from simple starting materials. The increase of
complexity involved in the formation of living organism s from
their precursors distinguishes the processes of biological growth
and reproduction from physical processes such as crystallization.
This local increase of complexity can also be described as a
decrease of entropy, which we have already speculated might be the
motivation of the unknown creative agency that seeded and promoted
life on Earth.
But where is the boundary of what is and what is not a life form.
Is, for example, a virus a living entity?
The standard answer is 'no
it is not', but that is now seen as a very debatable point. Viruses
cannot replicate on their own but can do so when they occupy a host.
In the late nineteenth century, researchers realized that some
diseases were caused by biological objects that were then thought to
be the simplest and smallest of all living, gene-bearing life-forms.
Throughout most of the twentieth century, though, viruses have been
designated as non-living material.
All living organisms possess a genome, which is the set of
instructions for making the body, and this is always composed of
nucleic acid. It is usually DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) or in the
case of some viruses, RNA (ribonucleic acid). The genome consists of
a number of genes, each of which is a segment of nucleic acid coding
for a particular type of protein molecule. In October 2004, French
researchers announced findings that blurred the boundary once again.
Didier Raoult and his colleagues at the University of the
Mediterranean in Marseille announced
that they had sequenced the genome of the largest known virus,
Mimivirus, which had been discovered in 1992.
This virus, about the
size of a small bacterium, contained numerous genes previously
thought to only exist in cellular organism s. The virus is therefore
a very smart bit of 'dead' matter or it is part of a unique club of
entities only known to exist upon Earth.
The remarkable nature of living matter caused astrobiologist Paul
Davies to observe in December 2004:
'Most people take the existence of life for granted, but to a
physicist like me it seems astounding. How do stupid atoms do such
Physicists normally think of matter in
terms of inert, clod-like particles jostling each other, so the
organization of the living cell appears little short of miraculous.
Evidently, living organisms represent a state of matter in a class
apart from the rest.'
The Solution that Identified the Problem
Back in 1953, when Watson and Crick discovered the helical structure
of the DNA molecule and the general way that it coded the formation
and replication of proteins in cells, it seemed that a plausible
scientific explanation for the origin of life was about to be
The laboratory synthesis of amino acids from basic chemicals further heightened the expectations that humankind was on the
verge of creating a living cell.
It was suggested that the early Earth, through a mixture of volcanic
activity and landmass weathering, had acquired oceans rich in
nutrients and chemicals - known as 'the primeval soup'. It was in
the constant mixing and intermixing of chemicals, and probably with
the aid of lightning strikes, that the first primitive life had come
into existence - or so the evolutionists suggested.
confident that the primeval soup theory was the most likely
explanation and were convinced that, given time, someone would manage to create life in a laboratory.
Soon after Watson and Crick's discovery, Stanley Miller, a graduate
student from Chicago
University, cooperated with Harold Urey, a Nobel Prize winner, to
recreate the exact circum stances that are believed to have existed
in the primeval soup of the infant Earth. Their soup contained
water vapor, hydrogen, m ethane and ammonia.
It was estimated that
lightning had played a part in the emergence of life, so Miller and
Urey provided an electrical spark to their chemical soup and
eventually succeeded in creating simple amino acids. 'Hooray!', they
and everyone else concerned said, because amino acids are a major
component of organic life.
Unfortunately, more than half a century
later, no one has come any closer to actually creating life than
It has also been pointed out that the amino acids created by Miller,
Urey and others are but a
tiny few of the constituents required for life. In any case, the
experiment was very selective in its methods. Amino acids are
referred to as being left- and right-handed, both of which were
present in Miller and Urey's soup, whereas life uses only
amino acids. What is more, the very electrical spark that created
the amino acids would also have destroyed them, so they had to be
artificially isolated in the experiment.
It might be thought reasonable that if life once formed in the
oceans, it would continue to do so today. In reality this can't
happen because the mixture of temperatures, chemicals and gases
present is wrong.
It was generally accepted that life could not
spontaneously appear in an oxygen rich atmosphere and so the
evolutionists had to suggest a very different sort of atmosphere on
the infant Earth. (Oxygen, whilst preserving life, destroys organic
molecules that are not alive.)
Generating life in the laboratory proved to be utterly impossible
and researchers began to realize that new natural laws would need to
be discovered to explain how the high degree of order and
specificity of even a single cell could be generated by random,
The DNA molecule is in the form of a double helix - rather like a
ladder twisted into a spiral.
The bases of the DNA are found in pairs and these make up the rungs
of the ladder that carry the information to replicate the entity.
When DNA copies itself, the ladder breaks down the middle of the
rungs. New bases are matched to the bases of each upright and so the
original DNA molecule then becomes two new identical molecules of
Information necessary to build new proteins, and to perform
other necessary chemical changes, is taken to various parts of a
cell by another molecule, this one being ribonucleic acid (RNA).
RNA is similar to DNA but is only a single helix. RNA is therefore
the 'messenger' that allows the information held within DNA to be
distributed and acted upon.
An important question remains, and it is one that science still
cannot answer. How did DNA come about in the first place, because as
things stand now, only DNA can create DNA.
Some chromosomes contain extremely long strings of DNA of more
than a meter in
length, which is colossal considering the microscopic nature of the
DNA molecule itself. However, the question that has puzzled everyone
concerned is the origin of this process, because all enzymes are
proteins and protein synthesis must be directed by DNA. Yet, DNA
replication cannot take place without these proteins.
So, what came
first - the protein or the DNA?
The problem goes right back to the origin of all life. But it is a
problem that appears to have no answer.
What is certain is that
amino acids, nucleotides, lipids and other multi-atom molecules can
be manufactured at random by heat, for example from lightning
strikes. They can also come about from sunlight and other sources of
energy that don't themselves have life.
Many ideas have been put
forward to explain the occurrence of DNA but none of them can be
more than educated guesses.
storms on earth have
contributed to the appearance of DNA?
But as we were researching this book a new theory appeared, and it
is one that has gained favor with many experts.
suggests that DNA exists thanks to the presence of Earth's Moon!
Four billion years ago, the orbit of the Moon was much closer to
the Earth than it is today. At this time, the Earth was spinning much faster on its axis and phenomenal tides were being raised on the
Earth, by the constant passing of the Moon. With the Moon so much
closer to Earth the height of the tides would have been colossal
(see chapter 5).
Richard Lathe, a molecular biologist at Pieta Research in Edinburgh,
has suggested that within the primordial oceans, constantly dragged
back and forth by the passing of the Moon, DNA could have been
rapidly multiplied. 28
One of the most commonly held theories regarding the origin of DNA
is that it emerged when smaller, precursor molecules in the waters
of the early oceans - 'primeval soup' - came together or were
'polymerized' into long strands. These long strands, it is
suggested, became the templates for more molecules to attach
themselves along the templates, which eventually resulted in
double-stranded molecules like DNA.
Richard Lathe suggests that the problem lies in the need for some mechanism that would
constantly break apart the double strands, in order to keep the
process going. He maintains it would have taken some external force
to dissociate the two strands.
It is at around 50°C that single DNA strands act as templates for
strands, whereas at the higher temperature of about 100°C, these
double strands break apart and this doubles the number of molecules.
When the temperature falls, the process begins again.
The number of
replications grows exponentially with just forty cycles producing a
trillion identical copies.
A billion years after the Moon cam e to orbit the Earth, it was
extremely close to its host planet and the Earth was spinning much
faster than it is now. The tides, as Lathe suggests, must have
extended several hundred kilometers inland, which meant that coastal
areas were subjected to rapid changes in salinity and this would
have led to repeated and very frequent association and dissociation
of double-stranded molecules similar to those of DNA.
As the huge tides advanced, salt concentrations would have been very
low. Even modern double-stranded DNA breaks apart under such
conditions, because electrically charged phosphate groups on each
strand repel each other. However, when the tides receded, precursor
molecules and precipitated salt would have been present in high
Lathe claims that this would have encouraged
DNA-like double-stranded molecules to form, because high salt
concentrations neutralize DNA's phosphate charges and this allows
strands to stick together.
It is these constant salty cycles and changes in temperature that,
Lathe says, would have amplified molecules such as DNA but he points
out that the tidal forces were absolutely vital in the process.
Whilst it is true that the Sun also creates tides on the Earth,
these are of a very low magnitude com pared to those caused by the much closer Moon. Three billion years ago it was closer still.
Without DNA there could be no life because it stands at the very
heart of the replication of living matter. From the single-celled amoeba to the largest blue whale on our planet, DNA is the vital
component that began life and which keeps it going.
Lathe is correct and it was the presence of so large a Moon that
began the chemical process that led to us, but it does remain a fact
that despite all the theories, no scientist has yet managed to take
the various chemicals that comprise life and arrange them in such a
way that they become even the very simplest life form.
Lathe's theory could explain how the Moon caused the early
replication of DNA but its
origin remains a complete mystery, and many scientists are quite
unsettled about the theory of how life came into existence in the
For example, David A Kaufmann PhD, of the University of
'Evolution lacks a scientifically
acceptable explanation of the source of the precisely planned codes
within cells without which there can be no specific proteins and
hence, no life.'
Admittedly David Kaufmann is a creationist, so maybe we can expect
him to come to this conclusion.
But then there is Professor Hubert P. Yockey, a physicist from the University of California - who is most
definitely not an adherent of creation and is concerned that
discredited ideas continue to clog up the process of seeking out the
'Although at the beginning the
consideration, now the entire effort in the primeval soup paradigm
is self deception on the
ideology of its champions...
The history of
science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of
acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its
failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available
to replace it.
order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the
decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms.
This must be done even if
this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive. It is
a characteristic of the true believer in religion, philosophy and
ideology that he must have a set of beliefs, come what may
Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no
other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of
false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge
ignorance. This has been universally the
case in the history of science as Kuhn (1970) has
discussed in detail.
There is no reason that this should be
different in the research on the origin of life.' 29
Yockey makes this statement because, like many other scientists, he
cannot believe that the
question regarding the emergence of life can be answered at all well
by the primeval soup theory. Like the Double Whack theory of the
Moon's birth - it is simply wrong and obfuscating progress to a
The main reason there is so much unrest about this question is
because DNA cannot exist
without life, and life cannot exist without DNA. The two are
totally interdependent and create a chicken-and- egg situation that
seems impossible to resolve.
It occurs to us that even the theories of Richard Lathe, on the way
the Moon may have contributed to the rapid spreading of life through
huge tides and chemical mixing, com e no closer to explaining how
life actually cam e about.
Some experts still claim that it must have happened by accident,
presumably because the
other possibilities are too hard to swallow. However, it would be
far more sensible to claim that fairies from Neverland did it.
The Probability Problem
Nobody doubts that the information contained in a single gene must
be at least as great as the enzyme it controls.
However, just one
average protein contains over 300 amino acids. In order to create
the protein it would take a gene of DNA that would have to contain
1,000 nucleotides in its chain. Every DNA chain contains four sorts
This seems complicated but it results in a possible 4
x 101000 possible forms. For those who do not realize, 4 x
101000 represents the number 4 followed by 1,000 zeros.
These are values beyond all comprehension. To get some perspective
on this, it is interesting to note that it is estimated that there
are only 10 x 1080 particles in the whole Universe. One begins to
realize how utterly impossible it would have been for complex DNA to
be accidentally created in the primeval soup of the young Earth.
In the world of probability, some things are very likely to happen,
others might sometimes
happen but some can never happen at all.
An expert in probability,
Emile Borel (1871-1956)
claimed that phenomena with very small probability don't occur. He
estimated that there would
be about one chance in 10 x 1050 for a small probability. Minute
though these odds were, they
weren't remote enough for more modern experts in probability.
William M. Dembski, associate
research professor in the conceptual foundations of science at
Baylor University and a senior
fellow with Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture in
Seattle, decided to go further.
He estimated that there were 10 x 1080 particles in the Universe and
wondered how many times
per second an event might occur. The number he came up with was 10 x
He then calculated
the number of seconds from the beginning of the Universe to the
present time and then, to make
sure he was erring on the side of caution, he multiplied this number
by one billion and arrived at
the number 10 x 1025 seconds. He now multiplied all the figures
together achieving a result of 10
x 10150 for his Law of Small Probability.30
For a minimum living cell there are 60,000 proteins of 150
Joseph A. Mastropaolo, an expert who has tackled
this problem at length, estimates that the probability of the
evolution of this first cell would be an absolutely staggering 1 in
10 x 104,478,296 or 10 followed by 4,478,296 zeros.
This exceeds Dembski's estimation for Small Probability by such a great margin
that were it not for the fact that DNA does clearly exist, no
self-respecting scientist could uphold the possibility of it having
originated by chance.
If every particle in the Universe had one chance for every second
since the beginning of time - we still would not have DNA.
In case there are readers who doubt Mastropaolo's skepticism
regarding the possibility of
DNA creating itself from scratch, it is interesting to see that he
is far from alone.
Peter T. Mora of Macromolecular Biology Section,
Immunology Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
'The presence of a living unit is exactly opposite to what we
would expect on the basis of pure statistical and probability
The English scientist J.D. Bernal said, way back in 1965:
would seem to me, combined with the knowledge that life is actually
there, to lead to the conclusion that some sequences other than
chance occurrences must have led to the appearance of life as we
And to add to the list of dissenters regarding a theory
that clearly doesn't hold water, primeval or not, we have the
opinion of the late Professor Sir Fred Hoyle, one of the most
respected astronomers who has ever lived.
'Rather than accept that
fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the
blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose
that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act. By
"better" I mean less likely to be
However, no matter how great and how many the howls of indignation
at this complete disregard of probability, one of the fundamental
tools of science, it remains a fact that DNA did occur somehow.
the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum of any sort. No matter how
much Professor Yockey may suggest that if we have no viable theory
we should exist without it until one is discovered, it seems that to
many scientists a twisted and broken paradigm is better than none at
After all, the alternative might be unthinkable to most experts. We
might, for example, have
to consider the possibility of a 'mind' behind the creation of DNA,
even if we can accept evolution as a viable theory once DNA existed.
The majority of scientists would prefer to break their own rules
rather than to evoke the deity, but even Professor Sir Fred Hoyle
was left with the only conclusion that could occur to him, namely that the Universe was under some sort of 'intelligent
Is this the way
forward? If we are going to be truly honest, bearing in mind the
utter impossibility of the chance occurrence of DNA, might we have
to accept that 'God spoke and it was so'?
Who can blame Anthony Flew for turning a lifetime's work on its
'A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for
the origin of life and the complexity of nature.'
However, Flew's definition of God bears little resemblance to the
deity of Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition,
which he describes as being depicted as 'omnipotent Oriental despots-cosmic Saddam Husseins'.
He is actually describing something as
open as our own 'Unknown Creative Agency' - which presumably might
mean virtually anything from a sublime single
entity to a
galactic federation of
The Seeds of Life
Some sixty years ago, when quantum theory first emerged, physicists
thought the mystery of life was about to be resolved.
By looking at
the tiniest building blocks of matter it was starting to explain how
everything worked - so it surely would also explain the essence that
we call life. They were to be disappointed, but recent developments
have raised the hopes of some scientists that the nature of first
life might be explained by new levels of understanding about sub
atomic behavior in biology.
In 2004, these new ideas caused NASA to convene a workshop of
leading scientists to discuss the subject of 'quantum life' at their
astrobiology laboratory in Ames, California, where discussion
covered fields such as nanotechnology and quantum computation.
Nanotechnology is concerned with the manufacture of artifacts or machines that are assembled on an atom-by- atom basis. A
an almost unbelievably small unit of length.
A human hair is
typically about one 10,000th of a meter in diameter and a common
cold virus is approximately one thousandth of this size.
protein unit making up the coating of such a virus is typically ten
nanometers thick - equivalent to about 100 atomic diameters, or the
size of one of the amino acid groups making up that protein
A whole new world of technology is
envisaged from building self-replicating machines that could, for
instance, carry out surgery at a cellular level inside the human
body. However, an increasing number of scientists are suggesting
that nature may have used this idea a long time ago.
Paul Davies has pointed out, the living cell is full of nano-machines
designed and refined by biological evolution.
And he posed the
'Could it be that some of them acquired their amazing
properties by deploying fancy quantum tricks?' 36
part of a cell's reproductive machinery is a little motor, called a
polymerase enzyme, which crawls along unzipped strands of DNA and
forges the links
that match up the unpaired nucleotide bases with complementary
bases floating through its environment.'
Apoorva Patel of the Indian Institute of Science, believes that
living cells m ay use quantum mechanics to boost their information-processing
efficiency, which could explain why the genetic code is the way it
is, and why it is found in all
As Davies points out, quantum theory describes atoms and
molecules as waves, which can overlap and combine coherently - known
as superposition. This means that the normal rules of time/space do
not apply and an atom can exist in a superposition of excited and
unexcited states, or of states corresponding to several spatial
locations at the same time.
These superpositions are expected to be
the basis of quantum computers that will be able to hunt for a
target among a jumble of data. This is said to be equivalent to
finding a name in a telephone directory when you know only the phone
The role of quantum theory in the origin of life is not yet clear.
But it seems that the new technologies that humankind is now
investigating may be at the root of life itself.
acknowledges that life somehow emerged from the ferment of the
quantum molecular world, and
'The role of quantum processes in
living matter is still unclear. It is entirely possible that
quantum mechanics was the midwife of life, but has
played an insignificant role since... All scientists agree that life
somehow emerged from the ferment of the quantum
The key issue is on which side of the quantum-classical divide the
transition to life occurred.
Niels Bohr once said that anyone who is not shocked by quantum mechanics hasn't
understood it. I believe that anyone who is not shocked
by life hasn't
understood it. The question before us is whether quantum mechanics
is shocking enough to explain life.'
It seems to us that whoever seeded life on our planet, all those
billions of years ago, was using a form of self-replicating
'technology' which will eventually come to be understood.
might not be that far from that understanding now.
Who Built the Moon?
At this point we are as sure as we possibly can be that the following
statements are true:
The Moon is approximately 4.6 billion years old.
The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old.
The Moon was
manufactured from lighter materials taken from the young Earth.
The Moon was made as an incubator to foster life on Earth.
The manufacturer of the Moon seeded life on Earth.
Evolution as described by Darwin is broadly accurate.
The manufacturer of the Moon left deliberate messages, intended to
be read by humans at this point in geological time, to draw
attention to what they have done.
It appears reasonable to assume that the manufacturer of the Moon
(the UCA = Unknown Creative Agency) has a good reason for wanting humans to understand what
The UCA could have seeded life and moved on, if its motive
was pure altruism. It therefore seems that it is important to work
out who built the Moon.
It seems certain that we have only identified the first
'introduction' aspect of the message from the UCA. The details of
the message are likely to hold the key to the next phase of human
development-information that will
change our destiny forever.
We believe that we have succeeded in identifying the key numbers
that will be used in deeper layers of the detailed communication. We
trust that others will take up the challenge of interpreting other
aspects of the message, but our immediate task is to try and work
out who built the Moon.
And we believe there are only three possibilities.
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