April 21, 2006 § 17 Comments
By way of background, a protein- any protein- is a complicated little machine. It is manufactured by a living cell, which initially produces it as a linear chain of amino acids, which (the “polypeptide chain”) then spontaneously folds up into a stable “native state”. There are twenty different amino acids, and a typical protein will be a few hundred amino acids long (many are longer, including many which are necessary for the process of making proteins in the first place). Now, just because a protein folds into a native state that doesn’t mean that it is useful for any particular purpose; but all life depends upon proteins folded into stable native states. (This includes viruses, prions – the little boogers that cause Mad Cow – everything living or close to living).
None of these things, including viruses or prions, grow independently of a preexisting living cell that has all the machinery (machinery which includes lots of complex preexisting proteins, among other things) required to make them.
But suppose random polypeptide chains did appear spontaneously in some primordial soup, or inside some primordial protected lipid bilayer which also formed spontaneously. How many random polypeptide chains have been shown to fold into a well-defined stable native state at all, let alone perform any useful function?
If you guessed “none”, you win the prize. Folding doesn’t make a protein useful for a particular purpose, but folding is necessary in order to get a useful protein at all. And random polypeptide chains don’t fold. Of the twenty to the power 100 polypeptide chains possible of length 100, only the ones already coded in DNA or designed by a person – an infinitesimally small fraction of all possible ones – will fold. Randomly generated ones don’t.
So the next time a materialist (or a functional materialist) tells you that all the diversity of life arose by random chance, natural laws, and natural selection, you will know for a fact that he is making a statement of faith, not a scientific statement.
And it isn’t the evidential faith of a Catholic – trust vested in a Person known to exist from the natural evidence. No.
It is a blind faith.