Monday, February 21, 2005

This is worth reading...

Anonymous posted a response to my assertion that there are no scientific arguments against evolution. He posted the following on his page:

Evolution And Fallacies

Below is a short essay I wrote with some of the problems with evolutionary theory as it stands now. This is not meant to start a war of sorts over the issue, I am simply responding to some guy who claimed that there is no one that could make a scientific challenge to evolution. [His post]


Life requires many polymers, large molecules made from monomers. Polymerization requires bifunctional monomers, and is stopped by a small fraction of unifuntional monomers (they can combine with only one other monomer, thus blocking the continuation of the chain). All prebiotic simulations produce five times as many unifunctional monomers than bifunctional monomers.

But another problem exists at the level of the very structure. Many of life's chemicals come in two forms, left-handed and right-handed. Life requires building blocks that all have the same handedness, (called homochirality). Proteins have only left-handed amino-acids, while DNA and RNA have only right-handed sugars. Living organisms have special mechanisms to produce homochirality, but ordinary undirected chemistry, as in the hypothetical primordial soup, would produce equal mixtures of left and right-handed molecules, called racemates. This little block stops enzymes form forming the right shape, DNA from helixing and RNA from replicating.

Yet the problems aren't over. Polymerization reactions release water, and by the well-known law of mass action, excess water breaks up polymers. The long years conceived by evolutionists just makes the problem worse, allowing more time for the water to act on the polymers.

Phosphate is necessary for DNA, RNA, ATP and many other organic molecules, but abundant calcium ions in the ocean would make phosphate unavailable for chemical evolution, (thus why washing with soap in hard water is so.... hard).


Prokaryotic and Eukaryotics differ greatly. The former has loose DNA strands and no organelles, the latter has a nucleus and organelles. But there is no in between. If the latter really did come from the former, why are there no intermediate stages? If this is how the line of evolution really went, and we have samples of both, why nothing in between?


Paleontology is the field that provides what is probably the most convincing evidence for evolution from an observers point of view, but the least convincing evidence from the scientific point of view. If the physics and chemistry are impossible, does it matter that the fossils show progression? No. But still, Paleontology holds its own problems. For example, a lack of intermediate species. A lack of a way to explain how in certain fossil records which contain hundreds of animals, no plants are found. For millions of years. How did the animals get by? A lack of pretty much anything but a gallery of different shapes.


The moon has this nasty habit of causing tides here on earth. This nasty habit happens the make the mass of the earth oscillate slightly, and the net result of this: The moon moves away from the earth at 4cm per second, and the length of the day on earth increases by 0.0016 seconds per century.

Now, assuming that the moon has always had this nasty habit of causing tides, and assuming that gravity has always existed, going backwards shows that aproximately 1.3 billion years ago the moon should be touching the surface of the earth.

This simply won't do, as we have found moon rocks to be roughly 4.5 billion years old, and the process by which the moon was created, a Mars sized planet colliding with the earth, would certainly have made the earth pre-cambrian inhabitants perturbed.

But the most interesting thing about this, is perhaps the irony of who discovered it: George Darwin, Charles Darwin's father.

More problems exist though. The next one within the Sun.

We estimate by measuring the Sun's mass and energy output and such, that the Sun has a lifespan of about 10 billion years, or that it has enough materials to produce for 10 billion years. At around 5 billion years old, the Sun should have used nearly half it's potential lifetime.

During these years, the sun would not have remained static; the sun would have gradually changed. The conversion of hydrogen into helium in the solar core would have altered it's composition, which would have resulted in the sun's core slowly shrinking in size and increasing in temperature. This would have increased the fusion rate and hence, brightened the sun. Because of this, the sun must be about 40% brighter today than when it allegedly formed, and the sun ought to be 30% brighter than when life first formed.

The change in energy output would have cause an increase in average global temperature of about 16-18 C. Since the current average temperature is about 15 C, this would have put the temperature of the prebiotic earth below freezing.

Just a few of the problems, but I think I've made my point. Just because you believe something to be true doesn't make everyone who disagrees an idiot.

You got served. (Always wanted to say that. ^_^)

Here is my response:

The funniest thing about your post is that you seem to assume that no scientists have looked into your claims. A little bit of web searching on a slow work morning shows that all of your claims are being addressed by scientists.

First off, the origin of life is a separate issue from subsequent evolution. While we are nowhere near knowing how life started, there has been a lot of progress made, and progress is encouraging. Many ideas have been put forth since the “primordial soup” days, and many of them are quite compelling.

Secondly, it is unlikely that the first prebiotic self-replicating molecules were the same ones being used by living organisms today. Scientists have proposed different hypotheses as to whether chirality arose before self-replication or was selected for later, or whether proteins came before nucleic acids. One thing’s for sure, the very first self-replicating molecules are long gone, and it will take much research to determine plausible chemistries.

A lot of the current thinking has been along the lines of minerals serving as substrates and catalysts. For example iron-sulfide containing small bubbles in rocks around undersea vents seem to be able to catalyze molecules essential for life. There is plenty of evidence showing that various molecules essential for life can be generated through natural processes. Further research is certain to provide more pieces of the puzzle, and I strongly suspect that the polymerization and chirality problems will be solved with further research, and the answer won’t be “because God is left-handed.”

Regarding calcium and phosphates, you seem to have gotten this from the, Institution for Creation Research,
which I’m pretty sure isn’t an accredited institution. Without going into detail, much of the calcium was likely busy forming calcium carbonate.

Rather than showing that the chemistry and physics are impossible, you have simply demonstrated a lack of imagination and intellectual curiosity.


Intermediate stages between prokaryotes and eukaryotes are unlikely to have survived to the present day, and would not have been preserved in the fossil record. The fact that mitochondria have their own DNA suggests that they are prokaryotes who took up residence inside a primitive eukaryote and formed a symbiotic relationship. Other organelles, such as chloroplasts in plants appear to have arisen in the same manner.

See: Endosymbiosis and The Origin of Eukaryotes


The fossil record is very fragmentary. It is very rare for a life form to be preserved as a fossil. A specimen must be covered very quickly and not disturbed until the present day. The fossil record is also biased towards hard items like teeth and large bones, and away from small, delicate, and soft structures. The current thinking regarding speciation happens among small isolated populations, and also that species are stable for a while and then change rapidly until they hit another stable point. This happens in a geological eye blink and in a small area, and is unlikely to be preserved as a fossil. Furthermore, it is a very large planet and we have only been looking for fossils for a short time. Also, we can only dig where rock is exposed. Who knows what is preserved under present day vegetation, topsoil, pavement, glaciers, and submerged ancient coastlines?

The lack of plants preserved with bones in certain fossil beds does not at all mean that there weren’t any plants, for the reasons cited above.

Finally, there are plenty of intermediate fossils, Archaeopteryx is the quintessential one.


The Moon is moving away from earth at the rate of about 4 centimeters a YEAR not per second. Look it up. Your calculation is way off.

Furthermore, the formation of the moon by the collision of the Earth with a Mars sized body is proposed to have taken place about 4.5 billion years ago, well before the formation of life.

In regards to the dim young sun, you are assuming that atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gasses were the same as the present day. Scientists believe that the CO2 levels were at least 100 times what they are presently, providing a much stronger greenhouse effect. In fact, there is evidence of worldwide glaciations between 1 billion and 600 million years ago, due to fluctuations in the atmospheric concentrations of CO2, so yes, the earth did get rather cold from time to time. As the sun has gotten brighter, our CO2 levels have fallen into almost trace amounts, still providing a little insulation, but not nearly as much as in the distant past.

Do some reading. [Dave's Big Beef]

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