In two prior posts (Creation Science Organizations: Past, Present and Future and The Next Generation of Creation Scientists) I have raised questions about the viability of the creation science movement as measured by the conversion of new scientists to the movement. Of course there have been many converts to belief in a young earth or at least a growing base of young earth advocates. But, has creation science become a viable scientific enterprise? Has it produced a new generation of creationists experts who are testing creationists hypothesis and extending the theories to produce a more robust science than they were handed by Morris and company? I have argued that although there is a younger generation of creationists who are attempting to take on the burden of being the next generation of creation science experts, the number of these younger, say less than 50 years old, scientists are not what the original founders of the movement would have hoped for. It is clear that a younger generation of scientists are not flocking to the “truths” of creation science.
I want to provide some quantitative evidence to support my assertion that the efforts of creation science are not resulting in a large increase in the base of active researchers devoted to furthering creation science research. Although there are many magazines published by creationists organizations there are only a few places where scientific creationists engage in publishing research in which they attempt to have their peers review their work. The number of academic publications that seek to apply flood geology/creation science theories to data sets that are published in secular journals can be numbered on one or two hands. Effectively all of the published peer-reviewed work of creationists is found in their own journals.
There are three main research journals that publish creation science articles:
Creation Research Science Quarterly – Creation Research Society; 4 issues per year with 3-6 articles per issue.
Journal of Creation – Creation Ministries International; 3 issues per year, 10 papers per issue + reviews and notes
Answers Research Journal – Answers in Genesis; About 3 years old with 16 articles in 2011 and probably about the same in 2012.
There was a journal called Origins published since 1974 by the Geoscience Research Institute (an institute of the 7th Day Adventist Church) but it appears to have ceased publication in 2008. In the 1980s and 1990s it was most active but even then only contained 1-5 scholarly articles per year many by the same authors as found in the three journals listed above.
So who is writing for these journals? For the most part the authors come from members of the organizations that produce the journals but each do solicit submissions and published articles by independent researches and members or other organizations. Just to get some feeling for the authors and numbers of publications I went through all the issues of theses journals from 2011. Here are quick back of the envelope calculations:
Creation Research Science Quarterly (CRSQ) – 15 articles by 9 total authors
Journal of Creation – 29 articles by 15 authors
Answers Research Journal – 16 articles by 12 authors
That would be 60 total publications by 29 authors. It is only 29 authors because several not only published multiple articles in a single journal but also published in at least two of the three journals. Three of these authors (Joubert, 10; Bergman, 8; and Oard, 6) provided for 18 of the 60 or almost 1/3 of all primary creation science publications in 2011!
The CRSQ has been around since 1965. Looking back to 2001 I count 16 total articles by 11 authors with four of the authors the same as in 2011. Going back 15 years to 1996 I count 25 total articles by 14 authors with five of those (more than 1/3) being the same authors as published in 2011. Going back to the 1970s and 1980s the journal regularly published 20-30 articles per year though typically by less tan 50% that many authors. The trend has been toward fewer articles by even fewer authors. Sampling the last 20 years it appears that Reed, Oard, Bergman and Froede are responsible for up to 25% of all the publications. There has been about a 50% turnover in authors over the last 30 years but it is really remarkable how many active writers in the 1980s are still publishing articles after 2010.
There is a new creationist organization called Logos Research Associates that counts in its membership many creation scientists who are also members of other organizations (mostly Creation Research Society) but also several well known creationist that are no longer associated with ICR and others. They seem to be trying to put themselves in the position of being the premier academic/scholarly research arm of the creation science movement. Here is how they describe what they do on their home page:
As scholars and scientists we delve deeply into the scientific controversies which affect Christian belief and unbelief. We are doing high quality original research that can challenge many academic dogmas of our day – in areas such as cosmology, geology, genetics, and archeology. We are building national and international collaborative research teams. We wish to effectively communicate our findings, and the findings of others, to people like you.
When I looked at there list of team members I found 29 total listed of which 15 have a PhD in science. Cross referencing against researchers listed by the Creation Research Society and by the their profiles at Logos RAs I estimate at least 3/4 of the individuals are more than 50 years old and 1/2 probably more than 60. To be fair, creationists organizations such as this are relying in good part on volunteer work and so aren’t going to attract many younger members because they may hold jobs at places where they would feel discriminated against if they became active creationists proponents. Some of these folks when the are more set financially may take more risks may begin to take a more active role. I would argue that while there is undoubtedly a number that may fit this description this does not represent a significant number. Furthermore, Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research are not exactly destitute organizations that must rely on the good graces of independent scholars to do their research. ICR and AIG are desperately seeking to maintain their scholarly and scientific legitimacy even within the Christian community and I am sure would love to hire more real Ph.D scientists to bolster this positions. If anyone can agree with Ken Ham about the specifics of the creation account there should be a job there for them.
Returning to creationist scholarly publications, only 60 research articles in 2011 don’t tell the whole story. Of those a good portion involve analysis of theological concerns rather than scientific. Many of the scientific articles are not based on new data collected but are more like commentaries and speculations about how flood geology could explain secular data. Very few actually propose hypotheses for which new data is collected and analyses to test those hypotheses. I’m not saying that there aren’t intelligent people who are willing to devote great time and attention to writing for the creationist cause. Reiterating what I’ve said before, I’m pointing out here and my last two posts is that a 50 year old hypothesis if it were great at explaining the features of the earth’s land-forms it should be attracting a much greater professional following yet the average age of the intellectual drivers of the creationists movement is going up year after year.
You should do some kind of graph with this information. It looks like the kinda stuff that could easily go viral through the anti-creation movement as an infographic or something else which caters to us folks with short attention spans.
Adam, that is a good idea. I am still collecting stats. The problem is that to do it right I would have to look at each article since many so-called research pubs are no more than just comments on news. To compare apple to apples takes a bit of work. No doubt it would be interesting though. I would predict a slight downtrend in the total published articles with probably a similar downtrend in the total number of authors actively engaged in publishing.
It would also be interesting to see what proportion such “comments” make up. Certainly the vast majority of content produced by most creationist websites is simply “here is a news story that says evolution is true. It is wrong” and so would be intrigued to see how much their “research” is actually just more of the same.
Very interesting. These authors are the same people for the most part, and they are not being followed by a younger generation.
My impression is that the general population does not make a distinction between this variety of creationism and the work of creationists who take the sciences seriously in their research.
Also there is the matter of delivery to consider. Magazines, like newspapers, are not read as much as they once were. Today people go to the internet for news and information. I wonder if more people read Just Genesis than Answers in Genesis? My article on Moses’ Horite family just hit 20,000 reads. Just curious. I suppose there is no way to compare readership stats since we are talking apples and oranges.
Fascinating post, here, NH! I’m very interested to see what starts coming out of the Logos Research Associates group. Here’s a choice quote from their site, “The age question is a salvation issue for this very simple reason… If someone has genuine doubts concerning Jesus’ authenticity because Jesus alluded to the Garden of Eden, to Adam and Eve as real people, as well as to Noah, the Ark and the Flood, then it may well be impossible for that person to exercise true saving trust in Him. In such a case, the historicity of the beginning chapters of Genesis and the age of the earth together have indeed become a salvation issue.”
I hadn’t seen that quote. I have been looking over there site recently and they are very gracious in their approach to diversity among creationists but that quote above is certainly very strong. Although Ken Ham often acts this way even he is fairly careful not to equate belief in a young earth with the only way to salvation. Of course that quote can be read with some loopholes. If some has genuine doubts “because” Jesus…etc.. Does this mean that if Jesus’s words don’t cause doubt this it isn’t a salvation issue? I guess I agree, if a person sees the evidence for an old earth and they don’t have a good handle on hermaneutics and doctrine of inspiration and are told that a young earth is the only inspired interpretation then this will be stumbling block and could drive a person from the faith. Logos Research Associates will be a group to watch and see if they can pull together a more scholarly defense of young earth creationism.
How is it possible to put together a scholarly defense of a position that is simply wrong?
I think you hit on the reason for the dearth of creation science articles in that most of the research is being done by individuals who are not supported by outside grants or government agencies/institutions. Whatever the reasons might be, an analysis such as this does nothing to answer valid criticisms of evolutionary theory, and as a creationist, seem a diversion from the real issues. Evolutionists still have no valid scientific explanation as to how abiogenesis could have occurred, and the genetic and mathematical basis for natural selection seems hardly more certain. What you’ve documented is that evolutionists have done a very good job of ensuring that creationists receive virtually no outside funding and have no chance of publishing their work outside of creationist journals, regardless of the scientific validity of their research. Seems hardly different than the Dark Ages. steve roesler md.
Hi Steve, thanks for the response. I’ll grant that YECs really have no opportunity to get government money. This does reduce their budgets but dont’ forget that AIG is a mutlimillion dollar operation. Rather than spending another 50 million on an Ark they could afford to spend 5 million a year on real research but they don’t do it. If I could get their type of funding i can think of hundreds of projects they should do if they want to really test their hypotheses. The problem could be partially money but I know plenty of scientists that do very good research will little money so it should be possible for YECs to do some good research. But even the small amount they do could hardly be qualified as being quality work. Its full of misconceptions and faulty assumptions though some of that can probably be blamed on not having enough experts to properly evaluate each others work. It is possible that if they could get even another 10 to 15 people with some expertise int he fold that they would be able to self-police each other. One of the reasons it would be difficult to get YEC papers into mainstream journals has nothing to do with the young earth assumption but rather the quality of the work. As a reviewer for several journals myself I regularly read creation science papers and think “this should never have been published in its current form” and it isn’ because of the young earth spin on the data but faulty references, bad logic, unclear hypotheses etc… So YEC have disadvantages but if their work is of value they should be able to overcome many of their obstacles.
The argument that creationists do bad science and they are few in number, so they must be wrong has been made before. it doesn’t answer the questions of how nucleic acid chains might have formed in any conceivable primitive environment, how the chirality of both proteins and nucleic acids was achieved, or where the information in the genetic code came from. If you know a reference in a reputable scientific journal where these questions are addressed with suitable experimental evidence to confirm the theories put forth, please point me in the right direction. As of this time, I haven’t found a satisfactory answer to these questions other than the long, long time and big, big universe explanation. The fact that there aren’t enough reactions in the known time span of the uiniverse to account for a random accumulation of genetic information, even if the nucleic acids which code for such information in 100% of living things was being formed by some natural process (which it isn’t), is never addressed in evolutionist’ literature. To continue to insist that life formed by chance in light of these realities seems a much greater leap of faith than to propose that in the big, big universe there is an Intelligence which created it. Thanks for your kind response. steve.
@steve roesler, January 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm
“it doesn’t answer the questions of how nucleic acid chains might have formed”
Those questions are addressed elsewhere, in the scientific literature, and they stand apart from *this* question: what is the state of creation science as measured by scholarly publishing?
This post isn’t offered as a defense for those questions in the field of biochemistry, nor is it offered as an attack on creationist claims (other than claims about the state of creation science as measured by scholarly publishing).
If anything, this post may be seen as a part of the answer to the question: is creation science going anywhere?
If you count Intelligent Design into the mix, you get a few more writers (Behe and a few others).
In my research, I’ve only been able to find one peer-reviewed paper that explicitly states a pro-design conclusion and I eviscerated that paper here: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2013/03/02/intelligent-design-gets-peer-review-sort-of/
All of the papers basically have the same message “evolution can’t do X because we can’t think of how it would happen or it’s improbable; therefore design (god)”.
Even Behe’s publication rate has been very, very low since beginning to promote ID.
So how long do we wait for you to come up with an explanation as to how nucleic acids form, or why chirality exists, or how the information in the genetic code came into being? It’s been over 150 years since Darwin first published, what do you propose would be a reasonable time frame to wait for such explanations? How improbable does a theory have to be before it’s discarded? You make the point repeatedly that the lack of evidence in favor of evolutionary theory, and abiogenesis in particular, does not prove the existence of a Creator. What other alternative are you proposing? steve.
So if standard science explains most things well but does not explain (according to some people) a few things well, we should discard standard science and replace it with a version of science that explains almost everything poorly? I respectfully disagree.
@Roesler: The argument that creationists do bad science and they are few in number, so they must be wrong has been made before.
Correct. They have done bad science for ~120 years (going back to G. M. Price), so they must be wrong.
@Roesler: it doesn’t answer the questions of how nucleic acid chains might have formed in any conceivable primitive environment
Ah. In the regime of life on Earth, evolutionary theory makes so many predictions confirmed by observation, that you concede the entire biosphere to the evolutionists, and retreat to the world of dead matter. We accept your surrender: all biology is ours.
Let me perform a small edit on your quote:
Roesler: Creationism doesn’t answer the questions of how nucleic acid chains might have formed
Fixed! Yes, creationism does not answer the question of HOW nucleic acid chains might have formed.
To assert that 6,000 years ago, dirt turned into the human genome by sorcery is to allege a cause, but not to answer the question of HOW, and certainly it is not to present an EXPLANATION in the scientific sense of EXPLANATION: as in, makes testable predictions, is falsifiable, etc.
Roesler: So how long do we wait for you to come up with an explanation as to how nucleic acids form, or why chirality exists, or how the information in the genetic code came into being?
That’s right! How long do SCIENTISTS have to wait before CREATIONISTS come up with an “an explanation as to how nucleic acids form, or why chirality exists, or how the information in the genetic code came into being.” Creationists never had any such EXPLANATION in the scientific sense: as in, makes testable predictions, is falsifiable, etc.
Of course creationists have an allegation of cause: 6,000 years ago, dirt turned into the human genome by sorcery. That is an allegation of cause, not an explanation.
Roesler: how the information in the genetic code came into being?
What’s to explain? All natural processes create information. Sure, a lot of creationists claim that no natural process can create information, but creationism is a fraud. They can never cite their nonsense about “information never produced by natural processes” to the scientific literature.
Natural selection is a non-random process which can act on variations of any origin, either random or artificial, and as a non-random process it increases the difference between the distribution of fitnesses in the genetic sequences (plural) in a population and a random distribution.
Creationists blather on about some mystic “ooga booga information” that they won’t define and can’t compute. They allege that it cannot be increased by natural processes. They can’t cite the scientific or mathematical literature. It’s a hoax.
If you use the definition of mutual information from Claude Shannon’s 1948 paper founding information theory, non-random processes that increase correlation, increase information. If you use the definition of Kolmogorov complexity, even random mutations increase information (not necessarily fitness), but natural selection filters fitness-increasing mutations.
Roesler: where the information in the genetic code came from. If you know a reference in a reputable scientific journal where these questions are addressed with suitable experimental evidence to confirm the theories put forth, please point me in the right direction.
No, that’s the creationists’ problem. They insinuate there’s a mystic “ooga booga information” that they won’t define and can’t compute. Then they allege that no natural process can ever increase the mystic occult quantity they won’t define and can’t compute.
Creationists can never cite their assertions about ooga booga information to the scientific literature. I’ve asked dozens of creationists for an equation to define their ooga booga information. They never answer, they just change the subject.
I don’t ask creationists for equations, or anything else, anymore. I just say: creationist won’t copy and paste the equation because creationism is a fraud.
I agree that Young Earth Creationism is a fraud. There are other expressions of creationism that are science based. Don’t make the same mistake as Bill Nye. He lumps all creationists together, apparently unaware that Old Earth Creationists accept evident aspects of Darwin, such as adaptation and mutation.
You might be interested in this:
Creationists have been claiming for much more than 30 years that “more and more” scientists are turning creationist, or “an increasing number” of scientists oppose evolution. This has been a running lie for at least 30 years.
Here are some examples, going back many decades, of creationists using memes like “more and more” and “an increasing number” of scientists turning against evolution.
Evan Shute, 1961: “I suspect that the creationist has less mystery to explain away than the wholehearted evolutionist. … I concede micro-evolution, of course, which is the origin by evolutionary processes of species, genera, and even families. An increasing number of thoughtful scientists seem to be adopting this view, which I should add is decades old, and far from being original.” [Evan Shute, Flaws in the Theory of Evolution, (1961) p. 2.]
Henry Morris, 1981: “Matter of fact, there are now thousands of scientists who have become creationists, and these are in fairly recent years [relative to 1981]. As a matter of fact most of us, including myself, once were evolutionists, but have become convinced that creationism is a better scientific explanation. And so even though we represent a minority in science, it is a significant and a growing minority. And furthermore, as far as the population as a whole is concerned, polls indicate that the majority of the general population believes in creation, and a great majority believes that both should be taught in our public schools, no matter which one they personally prefer.” [Henry Morris in 1981 debate against Ken Miller.]
Thousands of creationist scientists in 1981? A growing minority? Morris was lying in 1981.
Henry Morris, Men of Science, 1982: “The discouraging situation [for creationists] of the early decades of this [20th] century is now  going through a dramatic change. Instead of only a handful of Bible-believing scientists, there are now thousands. …the fact is that now, in every field of science, there can be found a significant and growing number of men and women who believe the Bible and are evangelical, witnessing Christians. …there are thousands who are unashamed literal creationists, believing that all things were created and made in the six solar days described in the first chapter of Genesis… Many have suffered one or another form of persecution for their stand, and yet they stand! …However, it would not be appropriate to try at this point to do the same [give their names] for scientists who are still living. [Henry Morris, Men of Science, Men of God (1982), p.93-94]
Thousands of creationist scientists in 1982? A growing number? Morris was lying in 1982.
Henry Morris, 1984: “Furthermore, even if it wasn’t clear in Darwin’s day, the modern scientific creationist movement has made it abundantly clear in our day that all the real facts of science support this Biblical position. Despite all the bombastic books and articles, both by secular evolutionists and compromising evangelicals, which have opposed the modern literature on scientific Biblical creationism/catastrophism, the evidence is sound, and more and more scientists are becoming creationists all the time.” [Henry Morris, History of Modern Creationism (1984), p.329-330.]
Morris was lying in 1984.
Henry Morris, 1985: “There are still some die-hard uniformitarians who would question the first assumption but, as documented in the preceding chapter, more and more in the modern school of geologists are saying that everything in the geologic column is a record of catastrophe.” [Henry M. Morris, Creation and the Modern Christian, (1985), p. 241.]
Morris was lying in 1985.
Henry Morris, 1989: “Although the history of the earth and life has long been interpreted by the uniformitarian maxim, ‘the present is the key to the past,’ more and more geologists are returning to catastrophism.” [Henry Morris, “Evolution – A House Divided,” Impact, 194, August, 1989, p. iii.]
Morris was lying in 1989.
Mark Looy, 1990: “Even though the large majority of modern scientists still embrace an evolutionary view of origins, there is a significant and growing number of scientists who have abandoned evolution altogether and have accepted creation instead.” [Mark Looy, “I Think; Therefore, There is a Supreme Thinker,” Impact, 208, October, 1990, p. i.]
Mark Looy was lying in 1990.
Where would we be without a quote from the ID creationist textbook Of Pandas and People?
[Kenyon and Davis, 1993]: “Today, however, the ‘creative’ role of natural selection is being questioned by a growing number of scientists. Yet most of these scientists have not reconsidered the intelligent design argument which was replaced by natural selection as the supposed source of apparent design.” [Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon, Of Pandas and People, (1993), p. 67.]
“A growing number of scientists who study the fossil record are concluding that the structural differences between the major types of organisms reflect life as it was for that era. This view proposes that only the long-held expectations of Darwinian theory cause us to refer to the in-between areas as gaps. If this is so, the major different types of living organisms do not have a common ancestry.” [Ibid., p. 98.]
Kenyon and Davis were lying in 1993.
Here is Henry’s son, John D. Morris, taking up the family, um, business:
John D. Morris, 1994: “Even scientists are leaving Darwinian evolution in droves, recognizing that strictly natural processes, operating at random on inorganic chemicals, could never have produced complex living cells. They have grown weary of arguing how random mutations in a highly complex genetic code provide improvements in it.” [John D. Morris, The Young Earth, (1994), p. 121.]
John D. Morris was lying in 1994.
Here is the founder of ID as a political movement, Phillip Johnson:
Phillip Johnson, 1998: “In appearance it [evolution] is as impregnable as the Soviet Union seemed a few years ago. But the ship has sprung a metaphysical leak, and that leak widens as more and more people understand it and draw attention to the conflict between empirical science and materialist philosophy. The more perceptive of the ship’s officers know that the ship is doomed if the leak cannot be plugged. The struggle to save the ship will go on for a while, and meanwhile there will even be academic wine-and-cheese parties on the deck. In the end the ship’s great firepower and ponderous armor will only help drag it to the bottom.” [Phillip Johnson, “How to Sink a Battleship,” in Mere Creation, (1998), William A. Dembski, ed., pp 446-453, p. 453]
Henry Morris, 2002: “Creation scientists may be in the minority so far, but their number is growing, and most of them (like this writer) were evolutionists at one time, having changed to creationism at least in part because of what they decided was the weight of scientific evidence.” [Henry Morris, “What are Evolutionists Afraid of?”, Back to Genesis, No. 168 (Dec. 2002).]
Henry Morris was lying in 2002.
Grant Jeffrey, 2003: “As a result of the tremendous advances in the study of genetics, molecular biology, and the acknowledgement that the fossil record does not provide any support for the theory of evolution, a growing number of scientists have either publicly rejected evolution or have expressed very serious reservations about Darwin’s theory. ” [Grant R. Jeffrey, Creation, (2003), p.168]
Grant Jeffrey was lying in 2003.
William Dembski, 2007: “It will be interesting to see how the National Center for Science Education deals with the growing number of non-religious ID proponents. Check out the following link: icon-rids.blogspot.com.”[“ICON-RIDS: Non-Religious ID Scientists and Scholars.”. William Dembski. Uncommon Descent, June 16, 2007.]
William Dembski was lying in 2007. (His statements are debunked here.)
David Barton, 2008: “This position of intelligent design, also called the anthropic or teleological view, is now embraced by an increasing number of contemporary distinguished scientists, non-religious though many of them claim to be.” [David Barton, “The Founding Fathers on Creation and Evolution.” (2008).]
David Barton was lying in 2008.
H. Wayne House, 2008: “While incendiary rhetoric from parts of the scientific community disallows any challenge to Darwinian evolution, a growing number of scientists and experts support a supernatural origin of life, also known as the theory of intelligent design.” [H. Wayne House, Intelligent Design 101 (2008) product description.]
H. Wayne House was lying in 2008.
Answers in Genesis, 2009(?): “The history of science (and humanity) is filled with majority views being incorrect. Evolution is another such idea. …Finally, there are a growing number of scientists, creationist and not, who do not find the supposed evidence for evolution to be valid or acceptable. …it is past time for the myths of evolution—and the myth of evolution itself—to be dismissed once and for all.” [Answers in Genesis, (Undated, apparently 2009)]
Answers in Genesis was lying in 2009.
Lastly I must finish with the Nazi philosopher Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Adolf Hitler’s mentor.
Houston S. Chamberlain, 1905: “If we might not say that this craze [Darwinism] is only the last belated straggler of romanticism and Hegelism in alliance with flat English utilitarianism, and that a hundred years will not have passed [that would be 2005] before it will be judged as men to-day judge alchemy, … if we did not see around us … an energetic shaking off of this “English sickness”, as the Zoologist Friedrich Dreyer called it in a happy phrase, we might abandon all hope of a future for Science and culture.” [Houston S. Chamberlain, Immanuel Kant (1905), Vol. II, Chapter 6 “Plato”, p. 129]
You keep dreaming.
I’ll try to summarize my thoughts.
All known life forms are composed of proteins which are essential to their cellular function and of nucleic acids which contain the coded information used to produce said proteins. Proteins are polymers of different amino acids linked to form a chain and nucleic acids are likewise polymers of the nuclaic acid bases. Four different bases are used. The order of the bases in the chain forms a code, a specific sequence of three bases codes for each amino acid. The information in the nucleic acid chain, when transcribed is used to form a corresponding protein. There are 26 different amino acids in humans and a few others in other living organisms. The amino acids and nucleic acid bases can be either “R” or “L” forms much as a car has right and left fenders on a car and in living systems all nucleic acid bases are “R” forms and all the amino acids are “L” forms. I would presume that the above information is known to the readers of this forum, but I have included it as background for those who may find it helpful in understanding the following.
The smallest functional proteins are polypeptides of 10 amino acids. Generally they are much longer, but in order to have some functionality, at least ten amino acids are necessary. A living organism of any kind would necessarily need some capacity to reproduce or it would die out in the first generation. There must also be some capacity to transcribe the nucleic acids and use the information therein to produce a corresponding protein. There would also need be some means of energy production and/or utilization. Every living thing known has at least these three elements – reproduction, transcription, and energy utilization. Every living thing known is based on proteins and their functions are controlled and based on proteins, Given the above, the simplest “living” organism would have at least three proteins, each of which would need to be at least 10 amino acids in length, and would have a nucleic acid chain with the encoded information to produce the relevant proteins.
So the simplest conceivable living organism would have 30 amino acids total, and since 3 nucleic acids are needed to code for each amino acid, a nucleic acid chain 90 bases in length. This is an exceedingly generous assessment. In actuality, the simplest living cells contain ~400 genes with their corresponding proteins, many of which are hundreds of amino acids in length. To presume that an organism so simple could function and survive is nowhere confirmed either in the natural world, nor in any laboratory experiment, but for the sake of discussion, I have reduced the number s to a level much simpler/smaller than is even remotely likely.
Now given that there are ~30 usable amino acids found in living organisms and some other molecules including non usable amino acids which could conceivably polymerize in the polypeptide chains and that each of the amino acids has “R” and “L” forms, and only the “L” forms are functional in any known living system, there are easily 60 and probably more potential molecules which might be inserted at any point along the protein chain. To be generous, let’s presume that our primitive environment only had 10 amino acids, and that the simple proteins would still function using only 10 different amino acids – much fewer than any currently known organism. One still needs to account for the “L” and “R” forms so there would possibly be 20 choices at each site on our primitive protein. So to calculate the odds against a completely random formation of the simplest conceivable proteins in the simplest conceivable one arrives at 20 to the 30th power. Or to be somewhat clearer.a 1 with 39 zeros behind it. The calculations for the nucleic acid chains are no more optimistic 4 to 90th power gives you a 1 with 54 zeros behind it. Sum the two together and the odds against the chance formation of the very simplest possible “life” form is 1:1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. Note also that both the protein and the nucleic acid chain is necessary and that once you have one, you no longer get 6 or 10 or 15 billion years, or whatever time period you want to put on the universe to produce the second molecule. The 1/2 life of the proteins under any condition which might cause their formation is going to be on the order of minutes or less, and more likely milliseconds. The corresponding nucleic acids would obligatorily need to be produced in proximity to the proteins and within a very short time frame.
Finally, it’s been 60 years since Watson and Crick first discovered the structure of DNA and still there is no theoretical or experimental evidence that nucleic acids form under any natural condition, either in the present, or that might be postulated in a primitive earth. The lack of such a basic and fundamental element, would have killed any other purportedly “scientific” theory, but evolution lives on. steve.
@steve roesler, March 11, 2013 at 12:48 am
Your entire reaction seems predicated on the notion that proteins and genetic sequences should have appeared purely by a chance conglomeration of molecules. But nobody claims this, which makes the entire, somewhat lengthy summation a bit irrelevant.