CHAPTER TEN
THE IMPOSSIBLE ACCIDENT
 

'A super-intelligence

is the only good explanation

for the origin of life and the complexity of nature'.5
Professor Anthony Flew,

December 2004
 

Not very long ago, religion was the only guide to the way the world was perceived.

 

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.

 

In other 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 Heisenberg uncertainty 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.

 

He 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 crowd.27

 

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 he stated:

'It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism.'

Flew is a man of principle and when he was asked if his startlingly new ideas would upset some people, he responded by saying,

'That's too bad... my whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads.'

How refreshing.

 

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 clever things?

 

Physicists normally think of matter in terms of inert, clod-like particles jostling each other, so the elaborate 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 assembled.

 

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.

 

Experts remained 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 this.

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 left-handed 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, natural processes.

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 DNA.

 

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.
 

 

Could electrical 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.

 

This theory 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 50C that single DNA strands act as templates for synthesizing complementary strands, whereas at the higher temperature of about 100C, 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 concentrations.

 

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.

 

Perhaps Richard 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 first place.

 

For example, David A Kaufmann PhD, of the University of Florida said,

'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 truth.

 

He wrote:

'Although at the beginning the paradigm was worth 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.

 

Nevertheless, in 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 (Hoffer, 1951).

 

Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the 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 workable explanation.

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 of nucleotide.

 

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 1045.

 

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 configurations. 31

 

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 wrote:

'The presence of a living unit is exactly opposite to what we would expect on the basis of pure statistical and probability considerations.' 32

The English scientist J.D. Bernal said, way back in 1965:

'The answer 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 know it.'33

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 wrong'. 34

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.

 

As 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 all.

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 cosmic control'.35

 

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 head and saying:

'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 planet seeders!
 

 


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 nanometer is 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.

 

A typical 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 molecule.

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.

 

As Professor Paul Davies has pointed out, the living cell is full of nano-machines designed and refined by biological evolution.

 

And he posed the question:

'Could it be that some of them acquired their amazing properties by deploying fancy quantum tricks?' 36

He says:

'One vital 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 organisms.

 

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 number.

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.

 

Paul Davies acknowledges that life somehow emerged from the ferment of the quantum molecular world, and he adds:

'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 molecular-world.

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.

 

And we 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 was done.

 

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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