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Abdu-l-Majeed
10-18-2007, 10:26 AM
Atheism (part 1 of 2): Denying the Undeniable


“Life’s greatest tragedy is to lose God and not to miss him.”

--F.W. Norwood



Atheists might assert that they don’t acknowledge the existence of God, but the view of some Christians and all Muslims is that at some level even the confirmed Atheist affirms God’s presence. The innate but neglected awareness of God typically surfaces in Atheist consciousness only in times of severe stress, as exemplified by the World War II quote “There are no Atheists in a fox-hole.”[1]

Undeniably there are times -- whether during the agonizing days of a lingering illness, the seemingly eternal moments of a violent and humiliating mugging, or the split second of anticipating the impact of an imminent car crash -- when all mankind recognize the reality of human fragility and the lack of human control over destiny. Who does a person beseech for help in such circumstances other than The Creator? Such moments of desperation should remind every person, from the religious scholar to the professed Atheist, of the dependence of mankind upon a reality far greater than our own meager human selves. A reality far greater in knowledge, power, will, majesty and glory.

In such moments of distress, when all human efforts have failed and no element of material existence can be foreseen to provide comfort or rescue, Whom else will a person instinctively call upon? In such moments of trial, how many stress-induced appeals are made to God, complete with promises of lifelong fidelity? Yet, how few are kept?

No doubt, the day of greatest affliction will be the Day of Judgement, and a person would be unfortunate to be in the position of acknowledging the existence of God for the first time on that day. The English poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, spoke of the irony of the distressed human appeal in The Cry of the Human:

“And lips say “God be pitiful,”

Who ne’er said, “God be praised.”

The thoughtful Atheist, full of skepticism but fearful of the possibility of the existence of God and a Day of Judgement, may wish to consider the ‘prayer of the skeptic,’ as follows:

“O Lord--if there is a Lord,

Save my soul--if I have a soul.”[2]

In the face of skepticism blocking belief, how can a person go wrong with the above prayer? Should Atheists remain upon disbelief, they will be no worse off than before; should belief follow a sincere appeal, Thomas Jefferson had the following to say:

“If you find reason to believe there is a God, a consciousness that you are acting under His eye, and that He approves you, will be a vast additional incitement; if that there be a future state, the hope of a happy existence in that increases the appetite to deserve it…”[3]

The suggestion can be made that if an individual doesn’t see the evidence of God in the magnificence of His creation, they would be well advised to take another look. As Francis Bacon is noted to have commented, “I had rather believe all the fables in the legend, and the Talmud, and the alcoran (i.e. the Quran), than that this universal frame is without a mind.”[4] He went on to comment, “God never wrought miracle to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it.”[5] Worthy of contemplation is the fact that even the lowest elements of God’s creation, though perhaps ordinary works in His terms, are miracles in ours. Take the example of as tiny an animal as a spider. Does anybody really believe that such an extraordinarily intricate creature evolved from primordial soup? Just one of these little miracles can produce up to seven different kinds of silk, some as thin as the wavelength of visible light, but stronger than steel. Silks range from the elastic, sticky strands for entrapment to the non-adhesive drag-lines and frame threads, to the silk for wrapping prey, making the egg sac, etc. The spider can, on demand, not only manufacture its personal choice of the seven silks, but reabsorb, breakdown and remanufacture--self-recycling from the component elements. And this is only one small facet of the miracle of the spider.

And yet, mankind elevates itself to the heights of arrogance. A moment’s reflection should incline human hearts to humility. Look at a building and a person thinks of the architect, at a sculpture and a person instantly comprehends an artist. But examine the elegant intricacies of creation, from the complexity and balance of nuclear particle physics to the uncharted vastness of space, and a person conceives of…nothing? Surrounded by a world of synchronous complexities, we as mankind cannot even assemble the wing of a gnat. And yet the entire World and all the Universe exists in a state of perfect orchestration as a product of random accidents which molded cosmic chaos into balanced perfection? Some vote chance, others, creation.

Footnotes:

[1] N.Y. Times. 13 Apr 1944. Cummings: Sermon on Bataan, The Philippines.

[2] Renan, Joseph E. Prayer of a Skeptic.

[3] Parke, David B. p. 67.

[4] Bacon, Francis. Atheism. p. 16.

[5] Bacon, Francis. Atheism. p. 16.
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Abdu-l-Majeed
10-18-2007, 10:28 AM
Atheism (part 2 of 2): A Question of Understanding



Most Atheist arguments challenge the compatibility of an all-loving God with the perceived injustices of life. The religious identify such challenges as reflecting an arrogance of intellect -- being the assumption that we as mankind, an element of creation ourselves, know better than God how His creation should be ordered -- coupled with the failure to appreciate a larger design.

The fact that many of mankind fail to make sense of certain aspects of this life should not dissuade from belief in God. The duty of man is not to question or deny the attributes or presence of God, and not to incline to arrogance through professing to be able to do a better job, but rather to accept human station in this life and do the best that can be done with what we’ve been given. By analogy, the fact that a person does not like the way the boss does things at work, and fails to understand the decisions he makes, does not negate his existence. Rather, each person’s duty is to fulfill a job description in order to be paid and promoted. Similarly, failure to grasp or approve of the way God orders creation does not negate His existence. Rather, humankind should recognize with humility that, unlike the workplace boss, who may be wrong, God by definition is of absolute perfection, always right and never wrong. Humankind should bow down to Him in willing submission and in recognition that failure to understand His design on our part does not reflect error on His part. Rather, He is The Lord and Master of Creation and we are not, He knows all and we do not, He orders all affairs according to His perfect attributes, and we simply remain His subjects, along for the ride of our lives.

The confused and sensitive souls who encounter difficulty reconciling God’s existence with a harsh and often painful life deserve sympathy and explanation. If a person accepts the fact that God knows what He is doing and we don’t, he or she should rest comfortable with the understanding that deep down things may not be what they at first seem. Perhaps the wretched amongst humankind deserve their lot in life for reasons unforeseen, and perhaps they suffer only a short worldly existence to receive an eternal reward in the next life. Lest a person forget, God granted the favorites of His creation (i.e. the prophets) the greatest worldly gift of certainty, guidance and revelation; however, they suffered greatly in worldly terms. In fact, the trials and tribulations of most people pale in comparison to those of the prophets. So although many people do suffer terribly, the message of hope is that the archetypes of God’s favorites, namely the prophets, were deprived of the pleasures of this world in exchange for the rewards of the hereafter. A person might well expect a comparable reward for those who endure the trials and hardships of this life, while remaining steadfast upon true belief.

Similarly, a person cannot be faulted for expecting the disbelieving tyrants and oppressors to have all the enjoyments of this world, but none of the hereafter. Some of the known inmates of Hell spring to mind. Pharaoh, for example, lived a life of posh magnificence to the point that he proclaimed himself to be the supreme god. Most likely opinions changed when he broke wind. In any case, a person can reasonably expect him to be somewhat dissatisfied with his toasty abode of the moment, and the memories of his plush carpets, fine foods and scented handmaidens to have lost their charm of consolation given the heat of the moment.

Most people have had the experience of ending a great day in a bad mood due to some sour event at the conclusion of events. Nobody values a fine meal that ends in divorce, a romantic interlude rewarded with AIDS, or a night of revelry capped off by a brutal mugging or crippling car crash. How good could it have been? Similarly, there is no joy in this life, no matter how great the ecstasy or how long the duration, which is not instantly erased from memory by a 100% full body burn. One side of one hand represents 1% of the total body surface area of a human being, making a kitchen burn of a fraction of a fingertip count for less than a thousandth of the total body surface area. Nonetheless, who doesn’t forget absolutely every little, every big, everything during that moment of painful thermal affliction? The agony of a whole-body burn, especially if there is no relief -- no jumping back, no pulling away -- is beyond the capacity of human imagination. The few who have survived such burns agree. Not only does the torture of a total burn exceed the boundaries of human imagination, but the agony of the experience surpasses the limits of language. The horror can neither be adequately conveyed by the unfortunate of experience, nor fully understood by those blessed to have escaped initiation. Certainly one looooooong, eternal, full-body bath in fire can be expected to erase any pleasant memories of the past, consistent with the conclusion that

“…the life of this world is but little comfort in the Hereafter.” (Quran 13:26)

With regard to the subject of the present appendix[1], two elements of guiding consciousness deserve consideration, the first being that deep down all people have an innate knowledge of the presence of the Creator. Humankind may intellectualize this awareness away in search of the conveniences and pleasures of this world, but deep down, all mankind know the truth. What is more, God knows that we know, and He alone can calculate the level of individual rebellion and/or submission to Him.

The second element of dawning spiritual awareness is simply to understand that there is seldom a free lunch. Rarely does anybody get something for nothing. Should a man work for a boss whom he does not understand or with whom he does not agree, in the end he still has to do his job in order to get paid. Nobody goes to work (for long, anyway) and does nothing more than saying, “I’m at work,” expecting a paycheck to follow based on nothing more than unproductive attendance. Similarly, humankind must satisfy a duty of servitude and worship to God if hoping to receive His reward. After all, that is not only the purpose of life, it is our job description. For that matter, Muslims claim that such is the job description for both men and Jinn (plural for ‘spirits;’ singular ‘Jinn’ee,’ from which the Western word ‘genie’ is derived), for God conveys in the Holy Quran:

“And I have not created Jinns and men, except that they should serve (worship) Me.” (Quran 51:56)

Many people question the purpose of life, but the position of the faithful of many religions is exactly that stated above – mankind exists for no other reason than to serve and worship God. The proposal is that each and every element of creation exists to either support or test mankind in the fulfillment of that duty. Unlike worldly employment, a person can duck his or her responsibilities to God and be granted a grace period. However, at the end of this probationary period called life, accounts become due and payable, and such is certainly not the best time to find one’s account ‘in the red.’

Francis Bacon provided a wonderful closure to the topic of this appendix, stating, “They that deny a God destroy man’s nobility; for certainly man is of kin to the beasts by his body; and, if he be not of kin to God by his spirit, he is a base and ignoble creature.”[2] Should a person believe that after a few million years something worthy of the barbecue will emerge from the froth of Stanley Miller and Harold Urey’s primordial bouillabaisse, humankind still has to account for that which we all feel within us—the soul or spirit. Each and every element of mankind has one, and here is the metaphysical keystone which separates man from animal.

Again, those who doubt that which cannot be directly experienced may find excuse for denial of the soul, but they will most likely find themselves to have scant company. Furthermore, the discussion then moves into one of the nature of truth, knowledge, and proof, which logically springboards into the next section, on agnosticism.

Footnotes:

[1] This article is originally an appendix to the book “The First and Final Commandment” by the same author.

[2] Bacon, Francis. Atheism. p. 16.
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Skavau
10-21-2007, 04:54 PM
Originally Posted by Abdu-l-Majeed
Atheists might assert that they don’t acknowledge the existence of God, but the view of some Christians and all Muslims is that at some level even the confirmed Atheist affirms God’s presence. The innate but neglected awareness of God typically surfaces in Atheist consciousness only in times of severe stress, as exemplified by the World War II quote “There are no Atheists in a fox-hole.”[1]
How would the author of this article know this precisely?

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Undeniably there are times -- whether during the agonizing days of a lingering illness, the seemingly eternal moments of a violent and humiliating mugging, or the split second of anticipating the impact of an imminent car crash -- when all mankind recognize the reality of human fragility and the lack of human control over destiny.
This much is true. So?

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Who does a person beseech for help in such circumstances other than The Creator? Such moments of desperation should remind every person, from the religious scholar to the professed Atheist, of the dependence of mankind upon a reality far greater than our own meager human selves. A reality far greater in knowledge, power, will, majesty and glory.
Again, how would the author know this? Assuming such to be the case, merely appealing for a power such as God does not affirm God's existence.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
In such moments of distress, when all human efforts have failed and no element of material existence can be foreseen to provide comfort or rescue, Whom else will a person instinctively call upon? In such moments of trial, how many stress-induced appeals are made to God, complete with promises of lifelong fidelity? Yet, how few are kept?
The author is repeating himself.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Does anybody really believe that such an extraordinarily intricate creature evolved from primordial soup? Just one of these little miracles can produce up to seven different kinds of silk, some as thin as the wavelength of visible light, but stronger than steel. Silks range from the elastic, sticky strands for entrapment to the non-adhesive drag-lines and frame threads, to the silk for wrapping prey, making the egg sac, etc. The spider can, on demand, not only manufacture its personal choice of the seven silks, but reabsorb, breakdown and remanufacture--self-recycling from the component elements. And this is only one small facet of the miracle of the spider.
So?

This article is very dull. I am surprised at the amount of rhetoric. I have seen many more fly right into the teleological argument.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
And yet, mankind elevates itself to the heights of arrogance. A moment’s reflection should incline human hearts to humility. Look at a building and a person thinks of the architect, at a sculpture and a person instantly comprehends an artist.
Disbelieving in God does not by definition assume arrogance.

And we know that a building has a creator because we know the origins of the building. It is meaningless to refer to the universe because we do not know its origins.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
But examine the elegant intricacies of creation, from the complexity and balance of nuclear particle physics to the uncharted vastness of space, and a person conceives of…nothing?
Unstated premise: The universe is not an end in itself. The argument assumes its own conclusion as fact in its premise. This is begging the question.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Surrounded by a world of synchronous complexities, we as mankind cannot even assemble the wing of a gnat. And yet the entire World and all the Universe exists in a state of perfect orchestration as a product of random accidents which molded cosmic chaos into balanced perfection? Some vote chance, others, creation.
Natural law is not random.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Most Atheist arguments challenge the compatibility of an all-loving God with the perceived injustices of life. The religious identify such challenges as reflecting an arrogance of intellect -- being the assumption that we as mankind, an element of creation ourselves, know better than God how His creation should be ordered -- coupled with the failure to appreciate a larger design.
So the moral asserted in the authors response is simply "Don't question". I hope he (or she, I suppose) knows that this is a thoroughly unconvincing response and does not actually reconcile the perceived contradiction by some Atheists between an unjust world and an all-loving God.

If you were to ask me why I just hit someone and I reply "You do not know better than me. Do not question me" - I have not answered the question, I have ignored it (and in the process elevated myself to an arrogant prat).

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
The fact that many of mankind fail to make sense of certain aspects of this life should not dissuade from belief in God. The duty of man is not to question or deny the attributes or presence of God, and not to incline to arrogance through professing to be able to do a better job, but rather to accept human station in this life and do the best that can be done with what we’ve been given.
So the moral is roughly the same as above. Do not question the existence of God. In fact, it is even stated that man should not question or deny the attributes or presence of God.

How disappointing.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
By analogy, the fact that a person does not like the way the boss does things at work, and fails to understand the decisions he makes, does not negate his existence.
No. The Problem of Evil (apparent contradiction between an all-loving God and the injustice in human existence) does not negate the concept of a God. It does however negate whether a benevolent God exists or whether a supposed benevolent God is actually benevolent.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Rather, each person’s duty is to fulfill a job description in order to be paid and promoted. Similarly, failure to grasp or approve of the way God orders creation does not negate His existence. Rather, humankind should recognize with humility that, unlike the workplace boss, who may be wrong, God by definition is of absolute perfection, always right and never wrong.
Not if God does not exist. If God does not exist, then God is nothing.

Originally Posted by Abu-l-Majeed
Humankind should bow down to Him in willing submission and in recognition that failure to understand His design on our part does not reflect error on His part. Rather, He is The Lord and Master of Creation and we are not, He knows all and we do not, He orders all affairs according to His perfect attributes, and we simply remain His subjects, along for the ride of our lives.
And 'willing submission' requires arguments that stand up to more impressive scrutiny. Simply asking people not to question anything is not a good argument.

The rest of the article bored me and is of no relevance at all.
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Isambard
10-21-2007, 06:06 PM
Well put Skav. Good to see yaa around again :D
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Skavau
10-21-2007, 07:43 PM
Originally Posted by Isambard
Well put Skav. Good to see yaa around again :D
I disappeared during Ramadan here. All the discussions that I would come here for died because the Comparative Religion and the World Affairs section were closed.

Not to mention threads considered too argumentative were closed.
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Pygoscelis
10-21-2007, 08:45 PM
Originally Posted by Skavau
Again, how would the author know this? Assuming such to be the case, merely appealing for a power such as God does not affirm God's existence.
Its a good point. The "no atheists in foxholes" claim is not only a myth, but even if it were true it would only indicate that desperate people cling to the irrational. That is not news. Desperate people not only turn to Gods. They also turn to many other irrational measures.
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ranma1/2
10-22-2007, 02:21 AM
Originally Posted by Skavau
I disappeared during Ramadan here. All the discussions that I would come here for died because the Comparative Religion and the World Affairs section were closed.

Not to mention threads considered too argumentative were closed.
No kidding, i pretty much only skimmed for the last month or so. Even one article i posted in the islamic section got deleted "the could have moved it here"

But yes the no atheists in foxholes is a old pratt that needs to be buried in one.
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Trumble
10-22-2007, 07:10 AM
And yet the entire World and all the Universe exists in a state of perfect orchestration as a product of random accidents which molded cosmic chaos into balanced perfection? Some vote chance, others, creation.
Just to add to Skavau's point on that. Another assumption consistently made when talking of 'chance' is that the universe could have happened any other way, particularly in terms of universal constants and such. We have absolutely no idea whether that is the case or not.

The whole article sums it up really.. it is only (debatably) "denying the undeniable" if you accept a whole set of worldview assumptions that atheists generally do not accept.
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wilberhum
10-24-2007, 09:58 PM
Again, those who doubt that which cannot be directly experienced may find excuse for denial of the soul, but they will most likely find themselves to have scant company. Furthermore, the discussion then moves into one of the nature of truth, knowledge, and proof, which logically springboards into the next section, on agnosticism.
The hair on the back of my neck always stands up when I see the word "Proof".
The only thing proved is they have no understanding to the word. :rolleyes:

Or they just make up a defination that suites them.
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tetsujin
10-28-2007, 09:59 PM
Originally Posted by ranma1/2
No kidding, i pretty much only skimmed for the last month or so. Even one article i posted in the islamic section got deleted "the could have moved it here"

But yes the no atheists in foxholes is a old pratt that needs to be buried in one.
I have nothing to add except for the fact that I like XKCD too. :D
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czgibson
10-28-2007, 11:56 PM
Greetings,

Just who is this article supposed to impress?

Any atheist who has researched their position to even a mediocre level will have seen these arguments many times; most of them have, after all, been around for centuries. They weren't convincing then and they're not convincing now.

In this article, we also have the amusing spectacle of people like Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Francis Bacon being wheeled out to support the author's position. Are we supposed to be awed by their names to the point where we believe whatever they say?

I find it amazing that anyone could consider this to be a useful or intelligent document.

Peace
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barney
10-29-2007, 12:16 AM
The atheist in the foxhole is hedging his / her bets.

I think it is a pretty devout atheist that will argue that the universe did not originate from a point.

In times of dire stress they will try to communicate with that point. It's in all likelyhood uncommunicatable with, and they know that, but it's not going to hurt to try.

There may not be any atheists in foxholes, but theres definatly no atheists who havnt got a secret agnostic lurking inside them :D
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Isambard
10-29-2007, 01:01 AM
Originally Posted by barney
The atheist in the foxhole is hedging his / her bets.

I think it is a pretty devout atheist that will argue that the universe did not originate from a point.

In times of dire stress they will try to communicate with that point. It's in all likelyhood uncommunicatable with, and they know that, but it's not going to hurt to try.

There may not be any atheists in foxholes, but theres definatly no atheists who havnt got a secret agnostic lurking inside them :D
mmm no Im pretty convinced there is no benelovant God out there. I am atheist to the bone baby:okay:

I think there should be a little pocket book that should be handed to all atheists and agnostics thruout the world containing a list of every PRATT in existance. I swear its always the exact same tired arguements Ive gotten kinda bored:(
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ranma1/2
10-30-2007, 05:29 AM
hmm perhaps ill write it. Maybe it will be on the NY times best seller.

I can see the fundies banning together to get it banned already.
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Muezzin
10-30-2007, 04:42 PM
This is all very entertaining, but we're starting to stray a bit, dudes.
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Isambard
10-30-2007, 04:51 PM
Originally Posted by Muezzin
This is all very entertaining, but we're starting to stray a bit, dudes.
Eh, the main stuff has been refuted thourly in my opinion:D

Seeing as how noone isbacking up the author Im guessing this was a hit-n-run.

So c'mon let us have a little fun :shade:

PS. In regard to the pocket book Theist arguements agaisnt Atheism PRATTs, there already exists a number of books they delve into why it is usually faulty thinking that can go back a couple of thousand yrs...but folks still dont listen. I say srew trying to be methodical and just have a list so instead of doing the whole song and dance again, just refer to a number for ex.

"No, you are wrong. Refer to # 6 in your Atheist PRATT book"

Such a time saver :D
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 04:59 PM
Originally Posted by Isambard
I swear its always the exact same tired arguements Ive gotten kinda bored:(
who are you swearing by? I like atheists to be devout in their convictions.. you should find some other means to loan your 'arguments/disceptations' credence, than make such a declaration under oath!

cheers!

p.s: won't you thoroughly refute this as well?


Probabilities of randomly assembling a primitive cell on Earth


Summary

We evaluate the probability Pr that the RNA of the first cell was
assembled randomly in the time available (1.11 billion years
[b.y.]). To do this calculation, we first set a strict upper limit
on the number of chemical reactions nr which could have occurred
before the first cell appeared.
In order to illustrate the consequences of the finite value of nr,
we make some extremely minimalist assumptions about cells. We
consider a cell composed of Np = 12 proteins, each containing Na =
14 amino acids. We refer to the minimum (Np , Na) set as a (12-14)
cell. Such a cell is smaller than some modern viruses.
The ability to perform any of the basic tasks of the cell is not
necessarily limited to a single protein. Many different proteins
among all those which were available in the primeval soup may have
been able to perform (say) waste disposal. In order to allow for
this in estimating Pr, we include a factor Q to describe how many
different proteins in the primeval soup could have performed each
of the basic tasks of cell operation. The larger Q is, the easier
it is to assemble a functional cell by random processes. However,
there is a maximum value Qmax that is set by phase space arguments.
The hypothesis that life originated by random processes requires
that Pr be of order unity. We estimate how large Q must be (Qra :
subscript “ra” denotes “random assembly”) in order to ensure Pr = 1
in the time that is available (1.11 b.y.). We find that Qra must be
so large as to exceed the maximum permissible value Qmax in the
phase space of proteins comprised of a set of 14 distinct amino
acids. Such a large value of Qra would have serious consequences
for biology: if Qra were truly as large as Qmax in the primeval
soup, then essentially all 14-acid proteins must have possessed
the ability to perform each of the fundamental tasks in the cell.
That is, there was no task specificity among the proteins: a
protein which was able (say) to maintain the membrane in a cell
would also have been able to control (say) the replication
process.
In such a situation, the very concept of a cell, as a wellorganized
factory in which the task of each department is
regulated, and each department must coordinate dependably with all
2
others, would no longer be valid. A cell would quickly be reduced
to an unpredictable entity which lacked robust properties.
In the “real world”, where a cell must be able to preserve itself
and replicate faithfully from generation to generation, it seems
inevitable that the various proteins must be prevented (by nature)
from performing multiple tasks. That is, there must be a certain
amount of specificity to the task that any given protein can
perform: of all available proteins, only a fraction F should be
capable of performing the task of (say) membrane repair. In a cell
where the number of proteins is Np, the restraints of specificity
require that the value of F can certainly not exceed 1/Np. But F
might be much smaller than this upper limit. This leads us to
introduce a “protein specificity index” m such that the actual
value of F in the primeval soup is usefully written as (1/Np)m. In
the modern world, the value of m ranges from 1 to a maximum value
between about 10 and 20.
We find that, even assigning the minimum possible specificity (m =
1), the probability Pr of assembling the RNA of a (12-14) cell by
random processes in 1.11 billion years using triplet codons is no
more than one in 1079. And if the protein tasks are even marginally
specific (with m = 2-3, say), the chances of random assembly of
RNA for the first cell decreases to less than one in 10100.
In order to improve the chances of random assembly of the first
cell, we consider a situation which might have existed in the
young Earth. We suppose that proteins could be constructed using a
smaller set (numbering Naa) of distinct amino acids: we consider
the case of Naa = 5 (instead of the modern 20). If, in these
conditions, the number of bases in DNA remained as large as 4,
then doublet codons sufficed to encode protein production with the
same amount of error protection as occurs in the modern (triplet)
genetic code. In such conditions, the probability of randomly
assembling the RNA for the first cell in 1.11 b.y. improves.
However, it is still small: the optimal probability is no more
than one in 1063.
To improve the probability even further, it is tempting to
consider the possibility of singlet codons. But we point out that
these are not relevant in a realistic biology.
In the context of doublet codons, we can improve the probability Pr
of random assembly by considering a larger set of distinct amino
acids. The number of distinct amino acids for which doublet-codons
can encode ranges from 5 to 14 (allowing for start and stop
codons). As Naa increases above 5, there is a marked improvement in
3
Pr for a (12-14) cell: in fact, Pr may approach a value of order
unity when Naa = 11 provided that the specificity index m is
smaller than 1.3. (This is far below the average value of m, and
represents very marginal specificity.) And Pr formally exceeds
unity for Naa in the range from 12 to 14, provided that m does not
exceed 2.5. This value of specificity is still well below the
average value. It is not clear that a functioning cell could
survive for long with such low protein specificities.
Nevertheless, the fact that Pr formally reaches a value as large as
unity suggests that we may have found a window of opportunity for
random assembly of the first (12-14) cell.
However, these cells face a potentially fatal problem: even with
11 amino acids to be encoded by 16 codons in the RNA, there is
little redundancy in the genetic code. And for Naa = 14, the
redundancy vanishes altogether. As a result, there is a much
reduced error protection in the code which translates the
information in RNA to proteins. In the limit Naa = 14, there is no
error protection at all: transcription from RNA to protein then
has no immunity against noise. Moreover, in the limit Naa = 14
(plus a start and stop), proteins would be equally able to encode
for RNA, in violation of the Central Dogma of biology. Therefore,
although the probability of randomly assembling the RNA for a (12-
14) cell in such a world may approach unity in a mathematical
sense, it is not clear how useful such a cell would be for
biology.
We stress that our assumptions about a (12-14) cell are minimalist
in the extreme. In the “real world”, it is not obvious that a
protein containing only 14 peptides will be able to fold into a
stable 3-dimensional shape at the temperatures where water is
liquid. And in the “real world”, a cell probably requires as many
as 250 proteins to function. In such case, even if Naa = 14, Pr
approaches unity only if the specificity index m lies in the very
restricted range between 1.0 and 1.17. We identify this as a
narrow window of opportunity for random assembly of primitive
cells. But even this narrow window closes altogether if our
estimate of the number of chemical reactions is too large by
several orders of magnitude (as it may well be).
Our calculations refer only to the assembling of a cell in which
the genetic code is already at work. We do not address the origin
of the genetic code itself.
We conclude that, even if we assume that the genetic code was
already in existence (by some unspecified mechanism), conditions
in the early Earth must have been “finely tuned” in order to
4
“squeeze through” the narrow window of opportunity and assemble
the first cell on Earth in a truly random manner.

1. Introduction
Evolution theory claims that all species of animals and plants
that now exist on Earth came into existence as a result of random
variations in pre-existing species. It is presumed that life on
Earth began as a single cell. An essential aspect of evolution
theory is that the first living cell originated in the early Earth
also as a result of random processes.
When Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, he did not know the
chemical make-up of a cell. Therefore, when he appealed to random
processes at work in nature, he could be excused for not knowing
what exactly was entailed in such processes. But in our day and
age, advances in microbiology and biochemistry have opened up to
us the molecular details of the processes that occur in living
cells. For example, we now know the make-up of proteins and DNA.
In fact, we will need to describe these in some detail in order to
proceed with our discussion of the probability of random
formation. (We will return to these details below.)
We are now in a position to spell out the chemical processes that
must have occurred if the first cell was indeed put together by
chance.
2. The challenge of creating the first cell
The question we wish to examine here is the following. If the
process of assembling the first cell occurred in a truly random
manner in the early Earth, what conditions would be needed?
To address this question, we need to answer two more basic
questions: (a) how much time was available before the first cell
appeared? And (b) how many chemical reactions of the correct type
could have occurred in the time available? The aim here is to
answer these questions as quantitatively as possible.
The answer to question (b) will set a limit on the properties of
the first cell that would have been created by random processes in
the early Earth.
We turn first to the question of how much time was available for
the development of the first living cell.

5

3. The earliest life forms on Earth
The fossil record indicates that the first life forms to appear on
Earth existed some 3.45 billion years ago. These are cyanobacteria
(formerly called blue-green algae) which are found in rocks from
Apex Chert, Australia. ). The first life forms on Earth were
single-cell organisms. (See http://www.unimuenster.
de/GeoPalaeontologie/Palaeo/Palbot/seite1.html
It is hardly surprising from an evolutionary standpoint that the
earliest forms of life on Earth were single-cell organisms.
Presumably it is easier for random processes to give rise to a
single cell first, before bringing forth a multi-cell organism.
4. How much time elapsed before the first cell appeared on Earth?

The age of the Earth, based on radioactive dating of rocks, is
estimated to be 4.56 billion years old. Comparing this with the
cyanobacteria ages, we see that the first living cells appeared
within a time interval of 1.11 billion years of the formation of
the Earth.
Therefore, the time tfc required for the development of the first
cell on the Earth is certainly no longer than 1.11 billion years.
Actually, the value of tfc might be much shorter than this.
Astronomers who calculate the internal structure of the Sun find
that the Sun has not always been as luminous as it is today: the
young Sun is calculated to have had a luminosity that is some 20-
30 percent fainter than it is today. Therefore, the mean
temperature on the early Earth might have been considerably colder
than it is today, so cold that the water on Earth’s surface was
frozen. (This is the “faint young Sun problem”: Sagan and Mullen,
1972, Science vol. 177, 52).
It is likely that the development of life requires water to be in
liquid form. The solar structure calculations suggest that the
energy provided by the Sun to the Earth might not have become
sufficient to melt the ice until the Sun was about 700 hundred
million years old. This means that the first living cell appeared
no more than about 400 million years after liquid water became
available.
Moreover, the early Earth would have been subject to a more or
less heavy bombardment by the debris of the proto-planetary disk
6
before the latter was finally cleared out. The impacts of
planetesimals (such as that which destroyed the dinosaurs some 60
Myr ago) would have interrupted the processes which were “trying
to form” the first cell. Large impacts might have reduced the
interval for assembling the first cell to even less than 400
million years.
However, in order to improve the chances of evolution, let us
grant a full 1.11 billion years and ask the question: could the
first cell have developed by random processes in 1.11 billion
years?
The number of seconds of time in 1.11 billion years is 3.5X1016. We
will need this number in what follows.

5. Some essential constituents of cells
Now that we know how much time is available, we move on to the
main question that we wish to address: how was the first living
cell formed? Evolution theory asserts that it was formed by random
processes. We wish to assess the probability of such processes.
To assess realistically the chances of assembling the first cell
by chance, we need to know certain fundamental properties of the
components that go to make up a cell. Let us first summarize
these.
5.1. What do we need to know about proteins?

There are three levels of structure within a protein which are
relevant to us here.
(a) Primary Structure

A protein consists of a series of amino acids that are linked (by
peptide bonds) into a chain in a specific order. The change of
even a single amino acid in a chain of dozens or hundreds of amino
acids may in certain cases disrupt the functioning of the protein.
(b) Secondary structure
In order that proteins may function, the primary structure (i.e. a
chain of amino acids) is not sufficient. Certain segments of the
amino acids in the chain group themselves together into sub-units
known as alpha-helixes, beta-sheets, and beta-turns. For example,
7
an alpha-helix consists of a chain of consecutive amino acids
arranged in a twisted three-dimensional structure (including 3.6
acids per turn of the helix) with well-defined angles between
neighboring acids in the chain.
These well-defined sub-units form the secondary structure of the
protein: they are stable and rigid, like “lego” blocks which can
be “fitted together” into a larger structure.
(c) Tertiary structure
Once the “lego” blocks are available, the stage is set for the
protein to go beyond the secondary structure: using available
thermal energy, the protein twists and folds itself into a certain
3-dimensional structure with specific bumps and hollows. These
bumps and hollows, which are referred to as the tertiary structure
of the protein, determine where electric charge builds up, and
these localized charges control the protein’s function, including
the reactions that it can catalyze (if it is an enzyme). For
example, insulin (one of the shortest proteins in the human body,
with 51 amino acids) folds itself naturally into a wedge-like
shape which enables groups of six insulin molecules to pack
themselves tightly into spherical clusters.
The sequence of amino acids in a particular protein may be highly
specific at certain locations. There are certain sites in the
protein (“invariant sites”) where even a single alteration in the
sequence can lead to drastic changes in the shape of the folded
protein, thereby disabling the protein. For example, human
hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen through the blood,
contains Na = 574 amino acids arranged in four secondary sub-units,
with an overall spherical tertiary structure. Two of the invariant
sites in hemoglobin have attracted widespread attention because of
the drastic consequences they may have in a certain segment of the
population. If one of the amino acids (glutamic acid) in a certain
position in two of the sub-units of the hemoglobin molecule is
replaced by another amino acid (valine), the result is the painful
and deadly disease known as sickle cell anemia. Although it would
seem that switching only 2 out of 574 amino acids ought to have an
insignificant effect, this is not the case for these two
particular sites. Just by changing 2 amino acids and leaving all
the remaining 572 as before, the process of folding the molecule
is altered so much that the 3-dimensional shape of the hemoglobin
changes is no longer spherical. Instead the molecule takes on an
elongated structure resembling a sickle.
8
There are some proteins in which essentially all sites are
invariant. For example, histones which have at least 125 amino
acids in the peptide chain, have 122 invariant sites. Such
proteins are therefore exceedingly specific in the arrangement of
amino acids.
However, not all sites in all proteins are invariant. In many
proteins, there are sites where the amino acid can be replaced by
a number of other amino acids without affecting the functioning of
the protein. Yockey (Information Theory and Molecular Biology,
1992, Cambridge Univ. press, 408 pp; Table 6.3) discusses the
example of a particular protein (iso-1-cytochrome c, with 110
amino acids), with a list of all amino acids which are
functionally equivalent at each site. Some sites can have up to 13
different amino acids and still the protein retains functionality,
whereas others (the invariant sites) must contain one and only
particular amino acid in order to protect against protein
dysfunction.
At the primary level, the linear sequence of amino acids in a
protein is important to the proper operation of a living cell. But
in order to reach the final operating stage (which is fully threedimensional),
the creation of the “lego” blocks (i.e. stable and
reproducible secondary structure) is an essential intermediate
stage.
(d) How long are the secondary structures?
A central question in the present context is: what is the minimum
requirement for the “lego” blocks to be formed? What does it take
to be able to create the rigid sub-units which are used in making
the final protein? The answer is found in the quantum chemistry of
an alpha-helix and a beta-sheet: in principle, a sequence of at
least 4 amino acids is required in order to make the smallest
alpha helix (this allows for one complete turn of the helix). The
minimum size of a beta-sheet may be comparable.
However, the minimum size is not the only factor that is at work
in creating the “lego” blocks in proteins: the question of
stability also enters, because it is a fundamental requirement for
living cells that the secondary structures must be rigid.
Otherwise, the shapes of proteins in a cell would be subject to
chaotic fluctuations. Studies of reproducible structure of subsequences
in proteins suggests that chains of at least 7 amino
9
acids are required in order to create a stable and reproducible
“lego” (Sudarsanam and Srinivasan, 1996, abstract E0274, IUCR
Seattle meeting). It therefore seems unlikely that stable “lego”
blocks can be constructed with a chain that is less than 7 amino
acids long.
Now, the tertiary structure of a protein comes into existence only
if at least two stable “lego” blocks are joined together in a
reproducible 3-dimensional structure. (Many proteins require more
than 2 secondary structures: e.g. hemoglobin contains 4.) Thus,
the bare minimum requirement for a protein is that Na should be at
least twice the bare minimum needed for rigid and stable secondary
structure. According to the estimates of Sudarsanam and
Sreenivasan, this requires Na = Nmin = 14.
We emphasize that this assumption of a mere 14 amino acids in a
functioning protein is extreme. A protein with only 14 amino acids
is very short in terms of the proteins that exist either in the
modern world (e.g. insulin, with its 51 amino acids, and
hemoglobin, with its 574 amino acids), or even in ancient
proteins. For example, bacterial ferrodoxins, with at last 56
amino acids, “are believed to date nearly to the time of the
origin of life, and the histones which are also believed to be
ancient and have at least 125 amino acids” (Yockey, p. 143). Even
in the earliest stages of life on the planet, before the so-called
“breakthrough organism” had appeared, the proteins that might have
been operational back then have earned the title of “miniproteins
” because the number of amino acids they contained was
“perhaps 20 or shorter” (Maniloff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA,
vol. 93, p. 10004, 1996).
Computational attempts to “construct” proteins which are capable
of folding into a certain unique and stable tertiary structure
have been made by several groups. Dahiyat and Mayo (Science vol.
278, p. 82, 1997) found that, using only amino acids which occur
in modern nature, the shortest protein without sulfides or metals
that folds into a stable tertiary structure contains 25 amino
acids. An earlier computation (Struthers et al., Science vol. 271,
p. 342, 1996) had obtained a stable tertiary structure with a
chain of only 23 amino acids: however, one of the 23 was a nonnatural
amino acid. It seems that polypeptide chains with fewer
than 23-25 amino acids can probably not create the tertiary
structure which is key to protein function unless they are
assisted by sulfides or metals.
How far below the 23-25 limit can a functional protein go when
assisted by sulfides and metals? The answer is not clear. However,
10
it seems unlikely that the limit will be reduced below 14, which
is our limit based on the stability properties of at least two
“lego” pieces (alpha-helices and beta-sheets). In fact, in terms
of the thermal energy which is available, it is not clear that a
protein as short as 14 amino acids will be “foldable” or
“bendable” at temperatures where water is liquid.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of optimizing probabilities, we assume
that polypeptides in the primeval soup could indeed function as
proteins while containing no more than 14 amino acids.
5.2. What do we need to know about DNA?
DNA is a molecule that has the shape of a long twisted ladder (the
"double helix"). In this ladder, there are "rungs" connecting the
long "sidepieces". The "sidepieces" are long linear chains of
sugars and phosphates, while each "rung" is composed of two
interlocking bases. The four bases consist of two purines and two
pyrimidines. The bases in the ladder are arranged in a definite
order, just as amino acids are arranged in a definite order in a
protein.
When a cell wishes to reproduce a certain protein, the section (or
"gene") of DNA that is responsible for that protein must undergo a
well-defined process. First, the two bases that are interlocked in
each rung of the ladder in that section must be "unzipped" so as
to expose a sequence of bases. The exposed sequence then creates a
strip of RNA whose task is to assemble amino acids from the cell
medium in the correct order.
The order of the bases along the DNA “ladder” (or along the RNA
strip) is highly specific, just as the order of acids in the
protein is crucial for protein function. The change of even a
single base inside a gene may result in the creation of the wrong
protein, and the organism may die as a result. This indicates the
need for serious error-protection in the process of replication of
a cell.
6. Cell structure: high information content
Even a “simple” cell is a complicated system where chemicals of
various kinds operate in a synergistic way to provide various
functions that are essential to cell viability.
11
The outer wall (or membrane) provides the cell with its own
identity, and separates it from the rest of the world. Apart from
the membrane, i.e. inside the body of the cell itself, there are a
number of sub-systems that must run cooperatively in order to keep
the cell in operation. The most important chemicals are proteins
and the DNA that has the capacity to reproduce those proteins.
Some proteins provide the structural characteristics of the
different components of the cell. Some proteins serve as catalysts
in the various chemical reactions that keep the cell running.
There are also regulatory proteins which ensure that each protein
performs its function only in its proper location within the cell:
it would not do, e.g., to have energy generation occurring in the
cell membrane. In a multi-cell organism, these regulatory proteins
ensure that (e.g.) kidney cells do not grow in (say) the eye.
It is amazing that there is enough information in a linear object
(a DNA strand) to determine a three-dimensional object (a
protein). How is it that the sequence of bases in DNA instructs
the cell to make proteins, each of which is a “sentence” composed
of a specific sequence of various choices from a “vocabulary” of
the 20 (or so) amino acids which occur in modern proteins? (There
are many more amino acids in nature, but they are non-proteinous,
and we do not consider them here.) The beginnings of an answer
were first proposed by Gamow (1954: Nature 173, 318): there exists
a code which translates the information in the bases in DNA into
the amino acids in protein. This was an amazing insight on Gamow’s
part. As Yockey says (p. 4): “The idea…of a code is so
unconventional that had Gamow’s paper been submitted by almost
anyone else, it would most certainly have been rejected”.
The eventual identification of the code at the heart of biology is
a triumph of human ingenuity. The bases in DNA are now known to be
grouped into 64 “code words”, and the sequence of these words
contain the information which is eventually translated into the
20-letter vocabulary of proteinous amino acids.
A more difficult question to answer is: how do the amino acids
“understand” the “language” of the “words of information” that are
contained in the DNA? (For example, a string of letters may mean
one thing to a Frenchman, something else to a German, and nothing
at all to an Englishman.) It is not obvious that an answer has yet
been given to this question. It may in fact be the most difficult
question of all to answer. For example, Yockey (2000: Computers
and Chemistry 24, 105) argues that the answer may simply be beyond
the powers of human reasoning. In the present calculation, we do
not address the issue of the origin of the code. We merely assume
12
that the code is already in existence as a result of unspecified
processes in the early Earth.
Returning to a question about the links between DNA and protein
that can be answered, the distinction between 64 and 20 is
noteworthy and essential for living cells. In terms of coding
theory, the fact that 64 greatly exceeds 20 means that DNA code
has a lot of built-in redundancy: there are more code words (or
symbols) at the source (DNA) than at the destination (protein).
Coding theory proves that this redundancy of source relative to
destination is an essential feature of a code in order to protect
from errors in transmission. One of the theorems of coding theory
(Shannon’s channel capacity theorem) makes a strong statement
which at first sight appears counterintuitive (Yockey, p. 8): even
if there is noise in a message, the proper use of redundancy
allows one to extract the original message “with as small a
probability of error as we please”.
Therefore, if we were to attempt to construct a biological system
based on a code where redundancy is absent (and we shall mention
one such attempt in Section 19 below), the process of cell
replication would inevitably be prone to errors in transmission.
Since even a single error may prove to have mortal consequences
for a protein (and its host organism), it is hard to see how cells
that are subject to serious errors in replication could be
regarded as “living” in any meaningful sense.
The code words in DNA in the modern world consist of a series of
triplets of bases. Each triplet (written as ACG, or UGA, etc,
where each of the letters A, C, G, and U is the initial letter of
one of the 4 bases) encodes for a particular amino acid. There are
64 such triplets available as a source code. (We will consider
below the possibility that triplet codons were not necessary in
the primeval soup, but that doublet codons might have sufficed
then.)
If a cell contains a particular protein that is a chain of Na amino
acids in a certain sequence, then the DNA of that cell contains a
corresponding segment containing 3Na bases also arranged in a
sequence that exactly parallels the Na acids in the protein.
However, this is not all that is required for a gene. Since the
DNA consists of a long chain of bases, we need to ask: how does
the RNA know where to start “reading” the code for a particular
protein? The answer is: in the DNA itself, associated with each
gene, there must be a “start code” and a “stop code”. In fact, a
triplet of bases serves to encode START and another triplet to
13
encode STOP. (E.g., in modern cells, the triplet AUG encodes for
start, while stop has three possible codons: UAA, UAG, UGA.).
Therefore, although a strip of RNA needs to have 3Na bases in a
particular order, the gene (i.e. the corresponding piece of the
DNA) must have 3Na+6 bases in a particular order.
As an example, we note that among the shortest proteins that exist
in human beings, insulin contains 51 amino acids in a particular
order. Such a protein requires a sequence of 153 bases in human
DNA in a specific order, plus 6 bases for start and stop.

7. What does a cell need in order to function?
To determine the probability that the first cell was assembled
randomly, we first need to answer the following general question:
what is required in order to make a functional living cell?
In other words, what is the bare minimum number of proteins for a
cell to function at all? If we can answer this, it should help us
determine what the very first cell might have looked like.
As a first step in answering this, it is worthwhile to consider
the simplest known cell that exists in the world today. This is an
organism called "Mycoplasma genitalium" (MG) whose genetic
information is many times smaller than the information in the
human genome: the number of genes required for the functioning of
MG in its natural state is only 517. (Humans have tens of
thousands of genes.)
Recently, researchers have raised the interesting issue: are all
517 of these genes really necessary for MG to function properly?
The answer is No. By removing genes one at a time, researchers
have been able to show that the cell continues to function with
fewer than the total complement of 517. By eliminating more and
more of the genes, it has emerged that MG continues to function
normally as long as there are between 265 and 350 protein-coding
genes (see Hutchison et al., Science vol. 286, p. 2165, 1999). An
earlier estimate of the minimum cell size in nature had suggested
that the minimum number of proteins for cell operation might
indeed be about 250 (J. Maniloff, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA Vol.
93, p, 10004, 1996).
It appears, then, that the simplest cell in the modern world
requires at least 250 proteins in order to survive in viable form.
Many of the 250 (or so) essential proteins in MG have identifiable
14
functions. Hutchison et al. list 13 categories of identified
functions in the MG genome: (1) cell envelope, (2) cellular
processes, (3) central intermediary metabolism, (4) co-factors and
carriers, (5) DNA metabolism, (6) energy metabolism, (7) fatty
acid metabolism, (8) nucleotides, (9) protein fate, (10) protein
synthesis, (11) regulatory functions, (12) transport/binding
proteins, and (13) transcription. Each of these 13 categories
contains multiple genes, so that (e.g.) protein synthesis does not
depend solely on a single protein for its operation: there are
backups and multiple redundancies in each category. For example,
some 19 proteins are used for membrane maintenance (category (1)).
About 150 of the MG proteins can be assigned with some confidence
to one of the 13 categories.
However, more than 100 of the MG genes perform functions that are
currently unidentified. Nevertheless, the cell certainly requires
them: without them, there is empirical proof that the cell fails
to function.
8. The first cells to appear on Earth: reducing the requirements
to an absolute minimum
It might be argued that the first cells to appear on Earth were
smaller than the simplest cells (such as MG) that exist in the
world today. Those primitive cells might have been able to operate
with many fewer proteins than the 265 needed by MG.
Although we will use this argument below, it is actually difficult
to substantiate. The mathematician John Von Neumann estimated the
bare necessities which are necessary in order to construct what he
referred to as “a self-replicating machine” (Theory of Self-
Reproducing Automata: Univ. of Illinois press, 1966). It has been
a popular exercise among science fiction writers to use this idea
in connection with how a civilization might colonize a galaxy by
sending out machines. Von Neumann concluded that the number of
parts in one such machine must be in the millions. Other authors
have reduced this estimate somewhat, but even according to the
most optimistic estimate, the numbers remain very large: the best
estimates suggest that there must be between 105 and 106 parts in a
self-replicating machine. This means that the genome needs at
least 105 bits in order to metabolize and replicate (Yockey, p.
334). Using the information content in a typical modern protein,
Yockey concludes that the original genome must have been able to
specify at least 267 proteins. The fact that this is close to the
minimum number required for a modern cell (such as MG) suggests
that one is not necessarily permitted to assume that the original
15
cell contained significantly fewer proteins than the smallest
modern cell.
Nevertheless, other authors have argued that the Von Neumann
approach is overly restrictive. E.g., Niesert (1987, origins of
Life 17, 155)) estimates that the first cell might have been able
to operate with as few as 300-400 amino acids.
Which of these various estimates of minimum requirements for the
first cell should we consider? There must be some absolute minimum
requirements for making even the simplest cell. For example, one
might argue that, among the 12 non-regulatory categories of gene
functions listed by Hutchison et al., one representative protein
should be present in the first cell. And each of these 12 proteins
should have an accompanying protein to serve in a regulatory role.
This line of reasoning would suggest that 24 proteins are a
minimum for cell operation.
Can we reduce this to an even barer minimum? Examples of minimum
cell requirements have been summarized by the paleontologist
George Gaylord Simpson. Of the 13 categories listed by Hutchison
et al, Simpson narrows down the bare minimum to the following: (i)
energy generation, (ii) storing information; (iii) replicating
information; (iv) an enclosure to prevent dispersal of the
interacting sub-structures; (v) digestion of food; (vi) waste
product ejection (Science vol. 143, p. 771, 1964).
In view of these bare-bones requirements, it is hard to imagine
how any cell could function without at least the following six
types of proteins: (i) those that help to digest food, (ii) those
that generate energy for cell operations, (iii) those that carry
away waste products, (iv) those that preserve and repair the cell
membrane, (v) those that determine when reproduction is to occur,
and (vi) those which actually catalyze the tasks of reproduction.
Corresponding to each of these six, there must be a regulatory
protein which ensures that the corresponding protein does not
“express itself” in the wrong location in the cell.
It is hard to imagine how a living cell would exist at all if it
failed to contain at least these 12 proteins.
The fact that the simplest cell in the modern world (MG) requires
265 proteins as a bare minimum in order to function makes our
estimate of 12 proteins look ridiculously small. But since it is
possible that the first living cells may have been much simpler
than those we find in the world today, let us make the (perhaps
16
absurdly reductionist) assumption that the first cells in fact
were able to operate on the basis of the bare minimum 12 proteins.
As an illustration of how reductionist our assumption is, we note
that in the first cell, we are assuming that a single protein is
responsible for ensuring proper functioning of the lipid membrane
of that cell. In contrast, the smallest known cell in the modern
world (MG) uses 19 genes to encode for lipoproteins (Hutchison et
al. Science vol. 286, p. 2166). The use of 19 genes in the modern
cell is an example of the large amount of redundancy that nature
uses to ensure that the membrane survives. But the first cell may
not have had the luxury of redundancy: it may have been forced to
survive using only one gene for its membrane. It would have been a
precarious existence.
We have argued that each protein must contain at least 14 amino
acids: thus our bare minimum cell, with 12 proteins and 14 amino
acids in each, contains 168 amino acids. This is even smaller than
the bare minimum of 300-400 amino acids described by Niesert
(1987, Origins of Life, 17, 155). The DNA of our minimal (12-14)
cell would contain only about 500 bases. This is 10 times shorter
than the genome of a certain virus (PHI-X 174) which transmits 9
proteins. It is widely believed that a virus cannot be regarded as
a “living cell” (it has no self-contained replication system), so
this again indicates the extreme nature of our assumption that the
first cell could have as few as 12 proteins. But let us proceed in
the spirit of optimizing the probability that the first cell
appeared by chance.
8.1. The first cell: putting the proteins together by chance
In the early Earth, the commonest concept of conditions back then
is that the primeval "soup" consisted of various chemicals that
were stirred up and forced into contact with one another as a
result of the forces of nature (including rain, ocean currents,
lightning). Simple chemical reactions in the soup were easily able
to create amino acids: these molecules are so small (containing no
more than 10-30 atoms each) that random processes can put them
together quickly from the abundant C, O, N, and H atoms in the
soup. As a result, we expect to find in the primeval soup, in
abundant supply, all of the 22 amino acids that occur in modern
life forms. (For the number 22, see Nature vol. 417, 478, 2002).
In fact, there are more than 100 amino acids in modern nature, but
only 22 are used in proteins. And of those 22, numbers 21 and 22
are rare. Most living material relies on only 20 of these amino
acids, and we will use that number here.
17
To be sure, the “primeval soup” hypothesis is not without its
opponents (e.g. Yockey, pp. 235-241). Laboratory experiments which
claim to replicate conditions in the primeval Earth generate not
only amino acids but also a tarry substance (as the principal
product). This substance should have survived as a non-biological
kerogen in ancient sedimentary rocks, but no evidence for this has
been found. It should not be surprising that, in the primeval
soup, other amino acids, not currently used in life forms, could
have been formed. (This would include the acids that are used in
nylon.) And each of the amino acids which are created randomly in
the primeval soup would be created in two forms: the D-variety and
the L-variety. (These varieties refer to the ability of the
molecule to rotate the polarization of light either right or left:
this ability depends on the chirality of the molecule, i.e. on the
handedness of its 3-dimensional structure.) For reasons that are
not yet obvious, only one of these varieties (the L-variety) is
actually used in present-day life forms. However, the basic
property of amino acids, that they polymerize, operates only
between L alone or D alone: when an L and a D amino acid combine,
their opposite chirality has the effect of locking out any
possibility of further polymerization.
Another difficulty of a very different nature has to do with
reactions in an aqueous solution. The very process of assembling
amino acids into a polypeptide chain (so as to make a protein)
requires the removal of H from the amino radical and the removal
of OH from the acid radical: it is not obvious how these
constituents of a water molecule can be removed in an aqueous
solution.
Despite these difficulties with the primeval soup hypothesis, the
idea of the soup is so widespread in textbooks that it is a
natural starting point for an optimized estimate of probabilities.
In the spirit of the present approach (where we do whatever we can
to optimize the chances of assembling the first cell randomly), we
will simply go along with the textbooks. We shall assume that the
formation of the first cell in the early Earth began in liquid
water where only 20 L-amino acids need to be taken into account.
Other simple chemical reactions in the soup also give rise more or
less quickly to the four bases (two purines and two pyrimidines)
that form the "rungs" of DNA. Why are these formed relatively
readily? Because each base consists on no more than 13-16 atoms,
random processes can also assemble these bases rapidly from the
abundant C, O, N, and H atoms. It was probably more difficult to
form pyrimidines than purines, but the principle is robust:
18
formation of small molecules is essentially inevitable in the
early Earth.
In order for the first cell to come into existence, at least 12
proteins, each with Na amino acids in a specific order, had to
emerge in the same patch of the "primeval soup". To be sure,
individual proteins were probably emerging at random at many
places around the world. But if our aim is to form a complete
living cell, it will not help if the membrane protein emerged (at
random) in China, the energy protein in Russia, and the
replication protein in South America. That will not do: the only
way to have the first cell develop is if all 12 proteins emerge in
close enough proximity to one another to be contained within a
single membrane.
How might this have happened in random processes? By way of
example, let us consider one particular protein, in which the
chain of amino acids happens to be denoted by the series of
letters ABCDEFGHIJKLMN. In order that this protein be made by
chance, amino acid E (say) (one of the 20 commonest in nature)
might have started off by entering into a chemical reaction with
amino acid F (another of the 20), such that the two found it
possible to become connected by a peptide bond. Then amino acid D
might have had a chemical reaction so as to join onto the EF pair
at the left end, forming DEF by means of a new peptide bond. Note
that it is important to form DEF rather than EFD, which would be a
very different protein. This process presumably continued until
the entire 14-unit protein chain ABCDEFGHIJKLMN was complete.
8.2. The first cell: putting the DNA/RNA together by chance
It is not enough to assemble 12 proteins to have a functional
living cell: the cell must be able to reproduce, and for that
the cell needs DNA (or at least RNA). In order to ensure
reproduction of the cell, there had to be (also in the same patch
of the primeval soup) at least 12 genes on an RNA strand, each
containing 3Na+6 bases in a specific order.
Thus, in the very same patch of "soup" where the protein
ABCDEFGHIJ formed by chance, a strand of RNA must have been formed
where the three bases that encode for amino acid A were joined in
a specific order along the RNA strip by a series of chemical
reactions. Then the three bases that encode for amino acid B had
to be added in a specific order to the sidepieces, right next to
the three bases that encode for A. This process must have
continued until the triplets of bases that encode for each of C,
D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, and N respectively were assembled in
19
a specific order into a chain of 30 bases. There would also be one
triplet at each end of the 30-base sequence to serve as markers
for start and stop. This 36-base sequence would then form the gene
for the first protein in the first cell.
Now that we know how the first proteins and RNA/DNA were put
together, we are in a position to estimate the probability that
this will occur by random processes.
9. Probability of protein formation at random
In the example given above, we recall that amino acid (say) E is
only one of 20 amino acids that exist in living matter. Amino acid
F is also one of 20. Therefore, a process that successfully forms
the sequence EF at random out of a soup where all amino acids are
present in equal abundances, has a probability p2 which is roughly
equal to (1/20) times (1/20) = 1/400.
Actually, however, pre-living matter contains not only the Lvariety
of each amino acid, but also the D-variety. Therefore, a
better estimate of the probability p2 that the correct pair of Lamino
acids be formed is (1/40) times (1/40), i.e. p2 = 1/1600.
However, once an L-acid unites with a D-acid, the opposite nature
of their chiralities leads to a “lock-out”: no further
polymerization is possible. So we will optimize probability by
assuming that only the L-variety is present. We therefore take p2 =
1/400.
Another way to state this result is that if we wish to create the
combination EF (both L-variety) by chance, the number of chemical
reactions that must first occur between amino acids in the
primeval soup is about 1/p2, or about 400. That is, if we allow so
much time to elapse that 400 reactions can occur in the primeval
soup, then there is a high probability (close to a certainty) that
the combination EF will appear simply at random.
This argument assumes that the only amino acids in the primeval
soup are the 20 which occur in modern living organism. However,
there were certainly other non-biological amino acids available.
As a result, many more than 400 reactions was almost certainly
required before the combination EF appeared at random. However, we
will optimize the chances for random assembly of the first cell by
ignoring the non-biological amino acids.
After creating EF by random processes, the next step is to have
the next amino acid to join the chain be the L-variety of (say) G,
i.e. only 1 out of the 20 types available. Then the probability
20
that the three amino acids EFG will be assembled in the correct
order is about (1/20)3.
Continuing this all the way through a sequence of Na amino acids
in a protein, the chance f1 of correctly picking (at random) all
the necessary amino acids to create one particular protein is
roughly equal to (1/20) raised to the power Na. This corresponds to
f1 = (1/10)x where x = 1.3Na. Actually, to the extent that some
amino acids may be replaced by others without affecting the
functionality of the protein, the above expression for f1 is a
lower limit. (We will allow for this later in this section.)
Yockey (p. 73) shows that instead of 20N for the value of 1/f1, a
more accurate estimate is 2NH where H is the mean value of a
quantity known as the Shannon entropy of the 20-acid set (see
below). In the limit where all amino acids have equal probability
of being encoded, and are equally probable at all sites in the
protein, 2NH turns out (from the definition of H) to be equal to
20N . In all other cases, 2NH is less than 20N. This returns us to
the previous conclusion: the above expression for f1 is a lower
limit on the true value.
Suppose that the particular protein with probability f1 has been
formed in a particular patch of the primeval soup. Then in order
to form a single cell (with at least 12 proteins as a bare minimum
to function), eleven more proteins must also be formed in the same
patch of soup, in close enough proximity to one another to be
contained within a single membrane. Each of these proteins also
has a certain number of amino acids: for simplicity let us assume
that all have length Na.
The overall probability f12 that all twelve proteins arise as a
result of random processes is the product of the probability for
the twelve separate proteins. That is, f12 is roughly equal to f112,
i.e. f12 is roughly (1/10)y where y = 15.6Na.
We can now quantify the claim that the first cell was assembled by
random processes. If the first cell consisted of only the bare
minimum 12 proteins, and if each of these proteins was uniquely
suited to its own task, the probability that these particular 12
proteins will be formed by random processes in a given patch of
primeval soup is f12.
Now let us turn to the fact that a protein may remain functional
even if a certain amino acid is replaced with another one.
(Obviously, we are not referring to invariant sites here.) For
example, it may be that the protein which we have specified as the
one that is responsible for (say) energy generation in the cell is
21
not unique. There may exist other groupings of amino acids which
also have the shape and properties that enable the task of energy
production for the cell. Maybe the others are not as efficient as
the first one, but let us suppose that they have enough efficiency
to be considered as possible candidates for energy production in
the first cell. Then we need to ask: how many energy-producing
proteins might there be in the primeval soup?
It is difficult to tell: in principle, if Na has the value 14
(say), then one could examine the molecular structure of all 14-
amino acid proteins (of which there are some 2014 , i.e. 1018.2 if
all amino acids are equally probable) and identify which ones
would be suitable for performing the energy task. Presumably there
must be some specificity to the task of energy production:
otherwise, a protein which is supposed to perform the task of
(say) waste removal might suddenly start to perform the task of
(say) membrane production in the wrong part of the cell.
Therefore, it is essential for stable life-forms that not all
available proteins can perform all of the individual tasks.
Suppose the number of alternate energy-producers Q is written as
10q. In a world where all proteins have Na = 14, the absolute
maximum value that q can have is qmax = 18.2. This is the total
number of discrete locations in the “14-amino acid phase space”.
In the real world, a more realistic estimate of qmax would be
smaller than the above estimate. First, not all amino acids have
equal probability of being encoded: there are more codons in the
modern genetic code for some amino acids than for others. (E.g.,
Leu, Val, and Ser have 6 codons each, whereas 10 others have only
2 codons each.) When these are allowed for in the probability
distribution, it is found that the “effective number” of amino
acids in the modern world is not 20 but 17.621 (Yockey, p. 258).
Thus, with Na = 14, a more accurate estimate of qmax(eff) is 17.4
(rather than 18.2).
As a result, in the real world, qmax(eff) may be considerably
smaller than 18.2. However, in the spirit of optimizing
probabilities, let us continue to use the value 18.2.
The requirement that some specificity of task persists among
proteins requires that the value of q must certainly not exceed
qmax. At the other extreme, in a situation where each protein is
uniquely specified, q would have the value qmin = 0 (so that one
and only one protein could perform the task of energy production).
22
Now we can see that our estimate of f12 needs to be altered. We
were too pessimistic in estimating f12 above. Each factor f1 needs
to be multiplied by 10q. For simplicity, let us assume that q has
the same value for each of the 12 proteins in the cell. Then the
revised value of f12 is 1/10z where
z = 15.6Na - 12q . (eq. 1)
This result applies to a cell with 12 proteins, each composed of
amino acids chosen from a set of 20 distinct entries.
10. Random formation of DNA/RNA

The first cell could NOT have functioned if it consisted only of
proteins. In order to merit the description living, the cell must
also have had the ability to reproduce. That is, it must also have
had the correct DNA to allow all 12 proteins to be reproduced by
the cell.
In order to estimate the probability of assembling a piece of DNA
by random processes, we can follow the same argument as for
proteins, except that now we must pick from the available set of 4
bases.
Repeating the arguments given above, we see that for each protein
which contains Na amino acids in a certain sequence (plus one start
and one stop), there must exist in the DNA a strip of B = 3Na+6
bases in a corresponding sequence. If we pick bases at random from
a set of 4 possibilities, the probability of selecting the correct
sequence for a particular protein is (1/4)B. Therefore, the
probability of selecting the correct sequences for all twelve
proteins, if each protein is unique, is (1/4)D where D = 36Na + 72.
Writing this with the symbol fRNA, we see that fRNA is equal to
(1/10)E where
E = 21.7Na + 43.3. (eq. 2)
Again, however, if instead of unique proteins for each task, there
are 10q proteins available to perform each task in the cell, then
we must increase the above value of fRNA to 10-G where
G = 21.7Na + 43.3 - 12q. (eq. 3)

23
11. Probability of random formation of a complete cell
Since both the RNA and all 12 proteins have to be formed in the
same patch of primeval soup in order to form a viable cell, the
probability fcell that random processes will perform both tasks in
the same patch of soup will be the combination of the separate
probabilities. That is, fcell is roughly equal to fp X fRNA, i.e.
about 10-J where
J = 37.3Na + 43.3 - 24q. (eq. 4)
Therefore, once enough time elapsed in the primeval soup to
allow the chemicals there to undergo a certain number of
reactions, R12p = 1/fcell, there would be a high probability (in
fact, a near certainty) that the proteins and the requisite DNA
for a (12-14) cell could indeed have been assembled by chance in
the primeval soup.
In order to optimize the chances of forming the first cell, we
ask: is it possible to find ways to make R12p smaller than the
above estimate? The answer depends on the theory that one adopts
for the development of the first cell.
Suppose one were to theorize that the only thing one would have to
provide to get the first cell going was the RNA containing the
genetic code for the 12 proteins. (It might be beneficial if the
RNA could catalyze its own replication: however, this is not
altogether desirable, since it leads to possibilities of ‘‘errorcatastrophes
” [Niesert et al. 1987, J. Mol. Evol., 17, 348].)
According to the "RNA-first theory", one would not have to "wait
around" for proteins to be constructed by random reactions in the
primeval soup. Instead, once strips of RNA were formed (as a
result of random processes), DNA could be assembled from the RNA
strips. At that point, proteins should be reproduced more or less
automatically, apart from the necessity of certain enzymes
(proteins) to catalyze the "unzipping" of the DNA itself, and to
catalyze the collection and assemblage of the amino acids.
In order to optimize the chances of cell formation at random, let
us assume that the unzipping can be done with the help of a single
protein, and that the collection and assemblage of amino acids can
also be done with a single protein. (This is a far cry from the
modern world, where multiple proteins exist in even the simplest
cell to perform each task.) Then the first cell will require the
RNA to be assembled by chance (with probability fRNA, as given
above) plus just two proteins (with probability f2) also assembled
24
by chance. If this theory is correct, then R12p(RNA-first) would be
equal to 10K where
K = 24.3Na + 43.3 – 14q. (eq. 5)
This may provide a substantial reduction below the original
estimate of R12p.
Should we also consider the obvious alternative to the RNA-first
theory? That is, should we also consider the “protein-first”
theory? The answer is no, provided that the modern genetic code is
at work. The structure of the modern genetic code is such that,
according to the Central Dogma, proteins do not pass on
information to DNA: the flow of information goes only from DNA (or
RNA) to protein, and not the reverse. As Yockey (2000) puts it,
“The origin of life [as we currently know it] cannot be based on
‘protein-first’.” However, the “protein-first” theory may need to
be considered when we consider a certain “window of opportunity”
in the early Earth (see Section 19).
Because we now know how many reactions are required in order to
create the first simplest possible cell, we are in a position to
test the evolutionary claim that the first cell was assembled
randomly. To do this, we proceed to the crucial question that is
at the heart of the present argument. This question, and its
detailed answer, is the subject of the next section.

12. How many reactions occurred in the primeval soup?

Is random assembly of the first cell possible? To address this, we
need to answer the following question: How many chemical reactions
(of the sort we are interested in) actually occurred in the
primeval soup during the first 1.11 billion years?
We will not be surprised to find that the number of reactions nr
is a "large" number (in some sense). Nevertheless, nr is a finite
number.
Once we obtain nr, we can then estimate how large the value of q
must be in order that the probability of randomly assembling the
first cell of order unity. That is, we will equate nr to 10J (or to
10K, if we accept the "RNA-first theory"), and solve for q,
assuming that Na is at least as large as 14. The value of q which
we obtain from this estimate will be labelled qra to denote that
this is how large q must be in order that random assembly of the
first cell in the primeval soup becomes essentially certain.
25
We are interested in chemical reactions involving amino acids or
bases. To proceed with this discussion, we need to consider in
detail what happens during such a reaction. The most basic
requirement of a chemical reaction is the following: the two
reacting molecules must at the very least come close enough to
each other to have a collision. However, the very fact that two
molecules collide does not guarantee that a reaction will occur.
The reaction is controlled by many factors, e.g. the energy
involved, the angle of the encounter, the removal of by-products,
etc. As a result of these factors, many collisions may occur
before even a single reaction occurs. This explains why it is so
difficult to manufacture (e.g.) nylon: the creation of the peptide
bonds that hold nylon together (exactly equivalent to those which
hold proteins together) requires careful quality control. The
quality control which the DuPont engineers are forced to impose in
order to create nylon was certainly not available in the primeval
soup: therefore, the efficiency of the reactions which led to
peptide bonds (i.e. proteins) in the primeval soup was almost
certainly very small.
In view of this, we can derive an absolutely firm (and probably
very generous) upper limit on the number of two-body reactions n2
that occurred between two amino acids during any time interval by
calculating the number of collisions ncoll that occurred between
those two amino acids during that interval. In practice, n2 is
probably orders of magnitude smaller than ncoll. The purpose of a
catalyst is of course to increase n2 as much as possible: however,
even with a “perfect” catalyst, n2 can never exceed ncoll .
So let us turn to estimating ncoll. This number, which is “large”
but finite, will provide us with a firm piece of quantitative
evidence that will allow us to test the assertion that the first
cell was assembled randomly.

13. Collisions between amino acids in the primeval soup
We begin the calculation of ncoll by estimating the mean time tc
that elapses between successive collisions of molecule A with
molecule B. The general formula for tc is straight-forward. Let us
consider molecule A as the projectile, and molecule B as the
target. If projectile A moves with mean speed v cm/sec through an
ambient medium where there are nt target molecules per cubic
26
centimeter, then tc equals 1/(v nt A) seconds. Here, A is the area
(in square centimeters) presented by the target molecule.
13.1 Mean time interval between collisions
Let us now estimate the three quantities that enter into tc.
First, the area A. Amino acids and bases in nature have linear
dimensions of a few Angstroms (where 1 Angstrom = 10-8 cm).
Therefore, a typical amino acid or base molecule has A equal to
about 10-15 sq. cm.
Second, as regards v, there is a standard formula for the mean
speed of the molecules in a medium at temperature T: v2 = RgT/m
where Rg is the gas constant (= 8.3 X 107 ergs/degree/gram) and m
is the molecular weight. Amino acids and bases have m = 100 or so.
Moreover, living cells require liquid water in order to survive:
this means that T must be in the range 273-373 degrees Kelvin.
Taking an average value for T of about 300 K, we find that v for
the molecules in which we are interested here is about 104 cm/sec.
Even if we consider the extremely hot conditions at the ocean
bottom, near the hot thermal vents, where temperatures may be as
large as 1000 K, this will increase our estimate of v by a factor
of no more than 2. This will have no significant effect on our
conclusions below.
Third, as regards nt, we note that at the present time, the total
mass of living organisms on Earth is Mliving = 3.6 X 1017 grams (see
http://www.ursa.fi/mpi/earth/index.html). In the early Earth,
before the first cell appeared, the mass of living material was by
definition zero. But there were amino acids and bases present in
the primeval soup. So in order to optimize the chances of cell
formation, let us make a second gross assumption: let us assume
that all of the mass that is now in living organisms was already
present in the primeval soup in the form of amino acids (if we
wish to assemble proteins) or bases (if we wish to assemble RNA).
With a molecular weight of about 100, each amino acid (or base)
has a mass maa of about 1.7 10-22 grams. Therefore, the total number
ntotal of amino acids (or bases) in the primeval soup was of order
Mliving/maa. With this assumption, we find ntotal = 2 X 1039.
Naturally, this estimate is quite uncertain. Other estimates of
this number are larger. E.g. Bar-Nun and Shaviv (Icarus 24, 197,
1975) estimate 5.4 X 1041, while Shklovskii and Sagan (1966
Intelligent Life in the Universe) estimated 1044. We shall see
that our results are only slightly affected by these
uncertainties.
27
Finally, to derive nt in the primeval soup, we need to divide ntotal
by the volume of the material where living material existed on the
early Earth. In the present Earth, the volume of the biosphere is
of order 1019-20 cubic cm. However, life probably started in
particular locations, and so the relevant volume of the primeval
soup was probably much smaller. Let us suppose that the early
Earth had a biosphere with a volume that was 10-100 times smaller
than it is at present. (This putative decrease in volume will help
to speed up reactions.) That is, let us suppose that all of the
amino acids which now are present in living matter on Earth were
concentrated in the primeval soup into a favored volume of only
1018 cubic cm. Combining this with our estimate of ntotal, we see
that the mean density of amino acids in the favored volume of the
primeval soup nt could have been about 2 X 1021 per cubic cm.
Is this a reasonable value? To answer this, we note that this
value of nt corresponds to a mean mass density of 0.34 gram/cubic
cm for the amino acids in the primeval soup. This density is very
high (the molar concentration is about 0.1): it is questionable
whether such a high density of amino acids could ever have been
dissolved in water. This estimate of mass density is certainly
close to the upper limit possible: it could hardly have been any
higher. In order to remain dissolved in water (with mean density 1
gram/cubic cm), the mass density of amino acids can certainly not
exceed the density of water. Therefore, our estimate of the upper
limit on nt is not unreasonable as we try to optimize the chances
of randomly assembling a cell. (If we were to use Bar-Nun and
Shaviv’s estimate of the total number of amino acids, we would
need to dilute them by dissolving them in at least 100 times more
volume than we used above in order to keep the mean density less
than that of water. With Shklovskii and Sagan’s estimate, the
volume must be larger still by a further factor of 200.) The
actual value of nt in the primeval soup was probably orders of
magnitude less than the estimate given above. Maximum molar
concentrations of amino acids in the primeval soup have been
estimated to be as low as 10-7 or 10-8 (Hulett 1969 J. Theor. Biol.
24 56; Dose, 1975, Biosystems 6, 224). Thus, our estimates of nt
are probably too large by 6 or 7 orders of magnitude. However, in
the spirit of optimizing the chances of making a cell, let us use
the above upper limit as the value of nt.
Now we have all of the ingredients we need to calculate tc, the
mean time between collisions in the primeval soup. We find tc = 5 X
10-11 seconds.
13.2. Number of collisions by a single amino acid in 1.11 b.y.
28
Now that we know the mean interval between collisions, we see that
in the primeval soup, a given amino acid experienced 2 X 1010
collisions every second as an upper limit. Therefore, each amino
acid experienced no more than 2 X 1010 reactions every second with
other amino acids.
How many collisions did an amino acid experience in the primeval
soup in the course of a time interval of 1.11 billion years, i.e.
in the 3.5 X 1016 seconds before the first cell appeared on Earth?
The answer is straightforward. Multiplying the above reaction rate
by the number of seconds available, we find that each amino acid
in the primeval soup experienced at most nr(1) = 7 X 1026 reactions
with other amino acids before the first cell appeared on Earth.
13.3. Total number of collisions between amino acids in 1.11 b.y.

Finally, we ask: what was the total number of reactions between
amino acids that occurred in the primeval soup before the first
cell appeared? The answer is again straightforward: since each
amino acid experienced nr(1) in that time, and since there were
ntotal amino acids in the primeval soup, the total number of
reactions nr between amino acids was about 1065 before the first
cell appeared.
This is a "large" number. But it is finite.
Moreover, we have artificially forced nr to be as large as possible
by making four extreme assumptions. (i) Every collision produces a
peptide-bonding reaction. (ii) The mass of pre-biotic material was
as large in the primeval soup as it is in today’s biomass. (iii)
The entire biomass in the primeval soup was in the form of amino
acids (or bases). (iv) All amino acids were concentrated in pools
where their mass density could build up to the maximum permissible
value. In the real primeval soup, conditions might have been such
that any or all of these assumptions could have failed by several
orders of magnitude. (In particular, (iv) almost certainly failed
by 6-7 orders of magnitude, and (i) almost certainly failed by
several orders of magnitude because of reaction kinetics.)
Therefore, it is highly likely that the actual total number of
collisions which occurred in the primeval soup before the first
cell appeared could have been 10 or more orders of magnitude less
than 1065.
Of course, our estimates refer to our estimates of the biomass
only, and also to binary collisions only. If we were to use the
estimates of Bar-Nun and Shaviv or of Shlokskii and Sagan, the
number densities per unit volume nt cannot exceed the value we have
29
already used above. Therefore, there will be no change in the
number of collisions per second. But the total number of
collisions would increase by 2-5 orders of magnitude above our
estimate.
For the sake of argument, let us assume that these other processes
compensated for orders of magnitude deficits associated with the
extreme assumptions (i)-(iv) above. That is, we will assume in
what follows that nr was indeed of order 1065. This appears to be a
very generous estimate of the total number of reactions in the
primeval soup.

14. Random production of the first cell
We are now in a position to estimate probabilities for randomly
assembling the first cell.
Let us return to our estimate of the number of reactions that were
necessary to create the first cell by random processes. In order
to create a cell containing 12 proteins with chains of N = Na amino
acids each, we recall that R12p was required to be 10J (where J is
given in eq. (4) above) if proteins and RNA were both assembled at
random.
However, if we accept the "RNA-first theory", we recall that the
number of reactions R12p(RNA-first) was "only" 10K (where K is given
in eq. (5) above).
Now that we know how many reactions actually did occur in the
primeval soup before the first cell appeared, we can equate nr
to the above values of R12p in order to determine how large qra must
have been in order to have reasonable probability of assembling
the first cell at random.
Setting R12p equal to nr, we find that the value of qra required for
random assembly of the first cell must satisfy the equation
37.3Na +43.3 -24qra = 65 (eq. 6)
if proteins and RNA were assembled together. On the other hand, if
we accept the RNA-first theory, then we find
24.3Na +43.3 -14q(RNA)ra = 65. (eq. 7)
30
As mentioned above, the value of Na is no less than 14. Inserting
Na = 14 in eq. (6) and (7) leads to qra = 20.8 or q(RNA)ra = 22.8.
The numerical value of qra increases linearly with the value of Na,
increasing by 1.7 for each unit increase in Na. However, qra is not
sensitive to the number of proteins in the cell. Moreover, qra is
not sensitive to errors in our estimates of the number of
collisions in the primeval soup: even if our estimated number of
collisions is wrong by factors of (say) one million times too
large or too small, our estimates of qra would change by only plus
or minus 0.4.
The above estimates of qra emerge from the two basic points of our
argument: (i) a finite time was available for chemical reactions
to operate, and (ii) a cell cannot function as a truly living
organism with less than the bare minimum of 12 proteins.
However, as we saw in Section 9 above, the total number of all
available proteins in the Na = 14 world is such that q has
certainly a maximum value qmax = 18.2. (The actual maximum would be
smaller than this for the reasons discussed in Section 9 above,
but let us continue to optimize the case for random assembly and
retain qmax = 18.2.) We see that the value of qra that is required
to ensure random assembly of the first cell is larger than qmax.
However, it is formally impossible for q to have a value in excess
of qmax: qra cannot exceed qmax even in optimal conditions. If qra is
equal to, or larger than, qmax it implies that every available
protein in the primeval soup must have been capable of performing
the task of every other protein. This indicates a serious lack of
specificity of tasks in the cell.
This conclusion does not depend sensitively on the choice of Na. If
functioning proteins actually require Na to be as large as (say) 20
(such as the mini-proteins referred to by Maniloff), we would find
q(RNA)ra = 33. However, the total number of proteins in an Na = 20
world would be of order 2020 , i.e. qmax = 26. The value of q(RNA)ra
again exceeds qmax, and so the conclusion about non-specificity
still applies.

15. Do proteins in the primeval soup have specific tasks?

The result that qra has a value in excess of qmax has significant
implications. It implies that there are no distinguishing
properties between proteins: each protein would have had the
31
ability to perform the task of all the other functional proteins
in the first cell. If that were to be the case, then there would
be no way to regulate the various distinct groups of cell
operations: replication could occur in the membrane, or membrane
generation could occur in the energy generation sites.
However, the nature of a cell requires that proteins have clearly
defined and distinctly specific functions. That is, not all
proteins must be capable of (say) membrane production: only a
fraction F (<1) of the proteins must have this capability.
What is a likely value for F? At one extreme, the smallest value F
can have is Fmin = 1/Qmax. Writing F = 10-f, this means that the
maximum possible value of f is fmax = qmax. In this limit, protein
specificity would be maximized: there would then be one and only
one protein out of the Qmax distinct proteins which could perform
any one of the basic tasks of the cell. In such a case, all 14
amino acids in each protein would be an invariant site, forbidding
any substitutions.
This extreme specificity is not true of most modern proteins:
typically, only a subset of sites are invariant. E.g., Yockey
(Table 6.3) discusses a 110-acid protein in which only 14 sites
are invariant. At the remaining 96 sites, a number of other amino
acids (from 2 to 19) may be substituted without degrading
significantly the functioning of the protein. The amino acids
which are functionally acceptable at a site are those which do not
impede the folding process or the biochemical requirements of the
protein. Because of these possibilities for substitution, the
probability of randomly “finding” a functional protein in “aminoacid
phase space” may be much improved over what one might expect
on the basis of the value of Qmax alone. Yockey (p. 254) describes
in detail how to compute the probability factor 2HN when one knows
how many different amino acids can be substituted at each site.
For the 110-acid protein discussed by Yockey, the improvement in
probability is enormous (from 1 in 10137 to 1 in 1093). It is not
clear how much improvement will occur in a small protein, where
there are only 14 amino acids. For the latter, the phase space is
limited to 1018.2. The 3-dimensional folding of such a small protein
might be quite sensitive to amino acid substitutions, more so than
for a larger protein. If this is true, then the improvement factor
might be quite small.
At the opposite extreme, F can certainly not exceed Fmax = 1/12 if
we are to preserve the distinction of 12 separate proteins for
each of the cell’s tasks. The limit F = 1/12 represents the
32
minimum possible protein specificity. This means that f cannot
have a value less than 1.08 in a cell with Np = 12 proteins.
In fact, it is probable that F is much smaller than 1/12. If F
were as large as 1/12, the prognosis for cell survival would be
slim: a single point mutation could convert (say) a membraneproducer
in any particular cell into (say) a waste management
protein. If this were to happen, the cell and its progeny could
hardly expect to survive for long.
This suggests that, in order to ensure long life for the cell, the
value of F should be much smaller than 1/12. How small might F be?
Let us introduce a “protein specificity index” m such that
F=(1/12)m, i.e. f = 1.08m. With this definition, the minimum value
that m can have is mmin = 1 (the minimum permissible specificity).
Values of m in the range (say) m = 3-4 represent conditions where
protein functions are only marginally specific. The maximum value
that m can have is mmax = qmax/1.08: in the example given above where
qmax = 18.2, mmax would have a value of about 16.9. In the limit m =
mmax, every protein performs a unique task.
With this well-defined range of the m parameter, we may usefully
refer to an “average specificity index” mav = (mmin + mmax)/2. With
the values just cited, we find mav is about 9. High specificities
can be considered as those with m values in excess of mav. Low
specificities are those with m values less than mav.

16. What are the chances of creating the first functioning cell
randomly?
The fact that the factor F departs from unity has the effect that
the Q factor which we used above in estimating the probability of
random formation of the first cell must be replaced by the product
FQmax. The quantity q in our earlier estimates must be replaced by
qmax-f where f cannot be less than 1.08.
In view of this, if we adopt the “RNA-first” theory, the necessary
number of reactions for random assembly of the first cell is 10L
where
L = 24.3Na + 43.3 –14(qmax - f). (eq. 8)
Setting Na = 14, the chance Pr of random assembly of the first cell
in the first 1.11 billion years of Earth’s existence (during which
time there were at most 1065 reactions) is one in 10b where
b = 14(f - qmax + qra ). (eq. 9)
33
With f=1.08m, and qra – qmax = 4.6, the chance Pr is about one in
1015m+64.4. Since m cannot be less than 1, Pr is certainly less than
one in 1079. If m takes on its average value mav = 9, Pr decreases
to 1 in 10200. Even if m takes on values that are much smaller than
mav (say 2-3), the probability Pr amounts to only one in 1094-109.
Note that the exponent b increases rapidly as Na increases: both
qra and qmax are proportional to Na. As a result, if we increase Na
to (say) 21, we would find that qra – qmax would increase from 4.6
to 6.9. Then even with m = 1 (its lowest value), exponent b
exceeds 100.
Even if we were to allow for a much older Earth, with an age of
(say) 100 billion years, the number 65 in our formula for qra would
increase only to 67. This would lead to a reduction of only 0.14
in qra in the “RNA-first scenario”. This would increase the chance
of random cell assembly, but even in the best possible case (m=1),
Pr would still be no better than one part in 1077.
The result Pr < 10-79 applies to a cell consisting of only the
absolute minimum set of Np = 12 proteins. Such a cell is extremely
small compared to the smallest known cell in the modern world
(where Np = 250). What if the minimum number of proteins in a
functional cell is 30 or 50 or 100? In such cases, the requirement
of specificity of protein function has the effect that the factor
F must be smaller than 1/Np , i.e. the exponent f must exceed
log(Np). In terms of the protein specificity index m,
f = m log(Np), (eq. 10)
where m cannot be less than 1. In view of this, the probability of
random assembly of the first cell is one in 10b where
b = (Np+2)[mlog(Np) – qmax + qra ]. (eq. 11)
Therefore, if the first cell required (say) 30 proteins to become
operational, the chance of assembling its RNA at random in the
primeval soup after 1065 collisions is less than one in 1047m+147.
The exponent in this result rapidly becomes large even if we allow
for only marginal specificity. For example, if m has a value of 2,
Pr is less than one in 10240. And if m is set equal to its average
value mav = 9, Pr falls to less than one in 10570.
If the modern genetic code was operative in the first primitive
cell (much smaller than the smallest cell in today’s world), the
above numbers are mathematical statements of the chances that the
34
RNA for the first cell was assembled by random processes. It is
clear that the probabilities are extremely small. We stress that
we have optimized a number of parameters in estimating the above
probabilities.

17. What about doublet-codons?

We can improve the situation for random assembly of the first cell
by considering the following possibility: suppose that, by some
means, the proteins in the first cell were assembled from a
smaller set of distinct amino acids than the Naa = 20 which exist
in nature today.
To be specific, let us suppose that the number of distinct amino
acids which were used in the first cell was as small as Naa = 5. It
is not obvious that functional proteins could actually exist with
such a small “vocabulary” of amino acids. However, it has been
claimed that protein folding is possible with as few as 5 distinct
amino acids (Riddle et al. 1997). Therefore, consideration of this
case probably does not violate any of the constraints of physical
chemistry. It also does not violate any of the limitations of
information theory: the quaternary genetic code might have begun
as a “first extension” using doublet codons (Yockey, p. 188).
(Vestiges of this early code might still exist in modern
mitochondria.) Doublet codons might have encoded for as few as 4-5
proteins (see Yockey, Table 7.1).
The major change in our calculation in this case is that the
codons in the RNA would no longer need to consist of triplets of
bases. Assuming that there are still 4 bases to use for RNA
coding, doublets would suffice to provide unique encoding for all
5 amino acids (plus a start and a stop code). Of course, one might
suspect that in a world where the number of useful amino acids has
been reduced from 20 to 5, there might also be a reduction in the
number of useful bases. For example, if there were only 2 useful
bases (i.e. if the genetic code were ever binary consisting of one
purine and one pyrimidine, a possibility discussed by Yockey (p.
184), then triplet codons would still be needed even to encode for
Naa = 5. In this case, we would return to the estimates derived
above for the triplet codon world. If there were 3 useful bases
available, doublet codons would suffice to encode for up to Naa = 7
(plus a start and stop code).
However, to optimize chances for random assembly, let us assume
that all 4 of the modern bases are available so that we can
exploit the possibility of doublet codons for the case Naa = 5.
35
In this case, the probability of assembling the RNA for a cell
consisting of 12 proteins, each with Na amino acids, would be fRNA =
(1/10)M where
M = 14.4Na +28.9 – 12q. (eq. 12)
We still need two proteins to allow DNA to do its work: with only
5 different amino acids to choose from, the chances of assembling
these two proteins at random are (1/5)P X 10-2q where P = 2Na.
Therefore fRNA in the 2-codon world would be equal to (1/10)R where
R = 15.8Na + 28.9 – 14q. (eq. 13)
In order that RNA for the first doublet-codon cell could have been
assembled at random in the first 1.11 billion years of Earth’s
existence, we must satisfy the equation
15.8Na +28.9 –14qd = 65 (eq. 14)
where subscript d denotes that we are dealing with doublet codons.
What is the minimum size of a protein in a world with Naa = 5? In
our previous discussion of our modern world where Naa = 20, we have
argued that proteins with Na = 14 are the smallest functional
units. Does this argument remain valid when Naa is reduced to a
value as small as 5? The answer is not obvious. For lack of
alternatives, we will assume that Na cannot be less than 14 in a
functional protein in the Naa = 5 world.
With this assumption, we find that qd cannot be less than 13.2.
This is many orders of magnitude smaller than the value of qra
which is required in the three-codon world. At first sight, this
might appear to represent a large increase in protein specificity.
However, results from the three-codon world are not relevant here.
Instead, we need to compare the new estimate of qd with the total
number of distinct proteins that are possible in the primeval
soup. With 5 distinct amino acids in the soup, and with each
protein containing 14 amino acids, we see that there are some 514
distinct possible proteins. Therefore, in this case, Qmax = 109.8 ,
i.e. qmax = 9.8. In view of the requirement that Q be at least as
large as 109.8, we see that the qd required for random assembly of
the RNA for the first cell again exceeds its maximum permissible
value, this time by 3.4. That is, once again essentially all
proteins are required to perform the task of all other proteins.
We are faced once again with the problem of lack of protein
specificity.
36
To satisfy the demands of specificity, we again introduce the
fraction F = 10-f of all available proteins which are able to
perform the task of (say) energy production. As before, we write f
= m log(Np) where m lies between 1 and qmax/log(Np). (With the above
numbers, mmax = 9.1, and the average specificity mav takes on a
value of about 5.) In view of this, we see that the probability of
assembling RNA for the first cell by chance in the 2-codon world
becomes one in 10c where
c = (Np+2)[mlog(Np) – qmax + qd ]. (eq. 15)
Since the difference qd - qmax is now “only” 3.4 (as opposed to 4.6
for the 3-codon case), we see that the probability of random
assembly of the RNA for a (12-14) cell has increased in the 2-
codon case by at least 16-17 in the exponent. This is a great
improvement indeed relative to the 3-codon case.
However, even with absolutely marginal specificity of protein
tasks, i.e. m = 1, the probability Pr of assembling RNA randomly in
the primeval soup for a (12-14) cell which uses only Naa = 5
distinct amino acids is no better than one in about 1063. If the
specificity has its average value mav = 5, then Pr = 10-123. Even if
the value of m is much smaller than mav (say m = 2-3), and with
more realistic numbers of proteins in the cell (say Np = 30), the
chances of randomly assembling the RNA for the first cell in the
primeval soup using doublet codons is no better than one in 10200.

18. What about singlet codons?

We might (in principle) improve the chances of randomly assembling
the first cell if the genetic code were able to operate with
singlet codons (instead of doublets or triplets). However, it
seems unlikely that such a world can exist. It is known that
folding of a protein simply cannot be achieved using an amino acid
set that is as small as 3 (Riddle et al. 1997): on the other hand,
folding can be achieved if the set of amino acids is as large as
5. For the sake of argument, let us make the extreme assumption
that folding CAN occur with an amino acid set consisting of only 4
species in the primeval soup. In this case, a singlet codon (one
of the four bases for each amino acid) would in principle suffice
for the RNA to encode for the amino acids, although with zero
redundancy (and therefore no error protection).
37
However, in order to assemble an accompanying DNA molecule, we
also need to have start and stop codons. That is, we must encode
not merely for the 4 amino acids, but also for the start/stop
codons. This means that the DNA is required to encode for at least
6 elements. This cannot be done with singlet codons (if only four
bases are available.)
We conclude that the doublet-codon world is as simple as we can go
and still have access to the flexibility of the genetic code.

19. A window of opportunity

When we considered what was probably the simplest example of a
doublet-codon world, with Naa = 5, we found that random assembly of
the first cell turned out to be more probable than in the triplet
codon case with Naa = 20. But still, the probability Pr is very
small.
However, this is not the only example we might consider. Doublet
codons with 4 useful bases can in principle encode for a
“vocabulary” of proteins made with Naa in the range from 5 to 14
(allowing for start and stop codes). And if proteins still consist
of Na = 14 amino acids, then the maximum available number of
proteins Qmax increases from 514 to 1414 as Naa increases from 5 to
14. That is, qmax increases from 9.8 to 16.0. The corresponding
values of mmax in a 12-protein cell are 9.1-14.8 (with mav = 5.05-
7.9).
Returning to the expression we obtained for the probability Pr of
random assembly of RNA for the first cell in a doublet codon
world, 1 in 10c, we recall from eq. (15) that
c = (Np+2)[m log(Np) + qd – qmax]
where qd = 13.2 (for proteins with 14 amino acids each) and m has a
value of at least 1. Inserting qmax values in the range from 9.8 to
16.0, we see that the difference qd-qmax is no longer in all cases
positive definite. In fact, when Naa grows to a value as large as
9, the value of qd-qmax becomes for the first time negative (-0.2).
This will certainly improve the probability of random assembly.
However, if we insert numerical values, and set the specificity to
its average value (mav = 7.2), we find that in a (12-14) cell, the
value of the exponent c for the case Naa = 9 becomes 106. If we
allow the protein specificity to fall to a very small value, say m
= 2, then c becomes 28. That is, the probability that the RNA of
38
the first cell with Naa = 9 was assembled by chance in the first
billion years of the primeval soup might be as large as 1 in 1028.
These represent large improvements over the probabilities we have
considered above.
Moving on to even larger values of Naa, the formal probabilities of
random RNA assembly become even larger. In fact, with Naa = 11, the
probability Pr approaches unity if m has a value less than
1.4/log(Np). Thus, in a (12-14) cell, a value of m less than 1.3
would ensure that Pr could have a value of order unity if Naa = 11.
Such a cell could have had its RNA assembled randomly with high
probability in the primeval soup in an interval of 1.11 billion
years.
In the limiting case Naa = 14 in the doublet codon world, a (12-14)
cell could be assembled randomly with high probability (in fact,
with near certainty) in 1.11 billion years as long as mlog(Np) does
not exceed the numerical difference between qmax and qd (i.e. 16.0-
13.2 = 2.8), i.e. as long as m does not exceed 2.5. This
represents the widest opening of the window of opportunity for the
random assembly of the RNA for a (12-14) cell.
We note that a specificity of less than 2.5 is much smaller than
the average mav: for the case Naa = 14, mav has the value 7.9. If
the protein specificity index in the primeval soup was indeed as
large as the value mav, the probability Pr of assembling the first
(12-14) cell randomly in a doublet codon world is no more than one
in 1080.
The window of opportunity in the doublet-codon world has an
interesting property that is relevant to the modern world. For a
14-acid cell where the number of proteins is as large as in the
smallest known modern cell (Np = 250), the probability of random
assembly Pr could have approached unity as long as m is in the
range 1.0-1.17. This is a very restricted window: but it is a bona
fide window. It indicates that, provided all of the various
optimized conditions are satisfied, random assembly of a (250-14)
cell might have occurred with high probability in the young Earth
with Naa = 14.
However, the restricted window for the Np = 250 cell closes
altogether if we have overestimated by too much the number of
collisions in the primeval soup. As was mentioned in Section 13.3,
our choice of 1065 for the value of nr (the total number of
reactions experienced by bases or amino acids in the primeval
soup) may be too large by 10 or more orders of magnitude. If nr is
in fact equal to 1058 (or less), then qd increases to 13.7 (or
39
more). In this case, the probability Pr (= 1 chance in 10c) falls
far below unity even if m has its minimum possible value (m=1):
the exponent c takes on the value 24.7 (or more).
Values of m as small as 1.17 or 1.3 (or even 2.5) represent
marginal specificities; they are far below the average
specificities, and are close to the absolute minimum value of m
(=1). Whether living cells could in fact survive (and replicate
faithfully) in the present of such marginal specificities is not
known. At the very least, it is a cause for concern in the context
of cell robustness.
The above calculation suggests formally that random assembly of
the first cell could have been achieved in the primeval soup if
certain conditions were satisfied. The requirements are: (i) at
least 11 distinct amino acids were available for use in the making
of proteins; (ii) 4 distinct bases were available for the DNA;
(iii) the protein specificity index m did not exceed 2.5 (for a
cell with 12 proteins); (iv) the number of amino acids in the
polypeptide chain of each protein equals 14; (v) the total number
of reactions between bases or amino acids in the primeval soup was
1065 ; (vi) we accept the RNA-first theory of cell assembly.
If any of these conditions was violated in the young Earth, the
probability of random assembly quickly falls to very low values.

20. Entropy constraints on the window of opportunity
At this point in the argument, we need to ask: is the mathematical
scenario described in Section 19 relevant in a robust biological
world?
In order to address this, we need to consider a certain aspect of
coding theory (Yockey, p. 5). The Central Dogma of biology states
that DNA encodes for protein assembly but proteins do not encode
for DNA assembly. To ensure this, coding theory states that the
“vocabulary” at the source (e.g. DNA) must have significantly more
symbols than the “vocabulary” at the receiver (amino acids).
In the modern world, there is no problem with this requirement.
With 64 codons in the DNA, and only 20 amino acids in (most)
proteins, there is a large excess in the “mutual information
entropy” of DNA compared to amino acids. The maximum information
content of a DNA sequence is 5.931 bits per codon, whereas the
information content of an average protein sequence is 4.139 bits
per amino acid (Yockey, p. 175). (These numbers are close to the
40
definition of Shannon entropy for the source log2(64) and receiver
log2(20) respectively: the slight differences arise because not all
modern amino acids are encoded with equal probability.) The
difference dH between 5.931 and 4.139 (dH = 1.792 bits per codon)
is (in the language of coding theory) a measure of the difference
in Shannon entropy between source (DNA) and receiver (proteins).
(Shannon entropy has nothing to do with the Maxwell-Boltzmann-
Gibbs entropy of thermodynamics). Because of this difference in
entropy, DNA can communicate information to amino acids, whereas
amino acids cannot communicate information back to the DNA.
The large amount of redundancy (represented by the ratio of 64 to
20) in the modern DNA “vocabulary” relative to the amino acid
“vocabulary” allows for error checking in the course of cell
replication. With the proper use of redundancy, the channel
capacity theorem (Yockey, p. 115) indicates that the error rate in
a code can be kept below any specified level. This is essential
for cells to ensure reliable and consistent replication in the
course of many generations.
As one possible measure of the level of error protection in a
code, we may refer to some results obtained by Yockey (p. 73). It
turns out that in a protein with N amino acids, the number of
high-probability states N(h) in parameter space is 2NH where H is
the Shannon entropy per amino acid. In the event that all sites
have equal probability of occupation by each and all of the Naa
distinct amino acids, the value of N(h) becomes equal to NaaN, as
expected from the probability arguments we have used in this
paper. In view of the formula for N(h), it seems reasonable to
use, as a measure of error protection in the translation from DNA
to proteins, the number E = 2NxdH. In the case of a modern protein
such as insulin (with N=51), E has a value of 3 x 1027, and we
interpret this to mean that insulin is extremely well protected in
the modern world from errors in transcription.
Now let us return to the doublet codon option in the primeval
soup. A world containing 14 distinct amino acids in the proteins
(plus one start and one stop code) would correspond to a doublet
code in which the source has 16 symbols but the receiver also
contains 16 symbols. In this situation, where dH = log2(16/16) = 0,
there is zero entropy difference between source and receiver. As a
result, E = 1, and the measure of error protection for (say)
insulin would be some 27 orders of magnitude smaller than it is in
the modern world. Replication of insulin in such a situation would
be subject to intolerable uncertainty.
41
Moreover, the Central Dogma of biology would break down: a protein
(such as insulin) would be able to control DNA just as much as DNA
controls proteins. This hardly seems like a prescription for hardy
life forms: there are too many options for lack of
reproducibility.
However, the break-down of the Central Dogma in the Naa = 14 world
suggests that in such a world, one might consider not only the
RNA-first theory, but also a “protein-first” theory. The numerical
factors entering into our estimates of the probability of random
assembly would then change. Thus, the value we have used above for
qd (=13.2) (obtained from eq. (14)) would have to be changed to a
value determined from a modification of the expression for z in
eq. (1). We recall that eq. (1) refers to the case where the set
of distinct proteinous amino acids contains 20 entries. Here, we
have only 14 entries in the set, and as a result, z changes to
13.8Na – 12q. Setting z equal to 65 and Na = 14, we find qd = 10.7.
The window of opportunity now widens somewhat: for the case Naa =
14, the value of Pr approaches unity as long as the specificity
index m does not exceed 4.9. This is still well below the average
value mav (= 7.9). Thus, we are still forced to confront the
requirement that protein specificities are quite small.
A doublet codon world, if it is to be of interest to biology in
the context of error-free replication, must certainly contain less
than 14 distinct amino acids. How much less than 14 should we
consider? We have seen that there is a good probability that RNA
can be assembled randomly as long as Naa has a value of 11 or more.
Including a start and a stop codon, this means that the genetic
code must use 16 symbols at the source to encode for 13 (or more)
amino acids. The difference in Shannon entropy between source and
receiver for this case is log2(16/13), i.e. dH = 0.3. With such a
value of dH, the error protection E of insulin would fall to 4 x
104, i.e. some 23 orders of magnitude weaker than the protection
which exists in the modern genetic code. And for the cases Naa = 12
and 13, the values of dH are 0.19 and 0.09 respectively. The
corresponding values of E for insulin would be 826 and 24, i.e. up
to 26 orders of magnitude less protection than in the modern
world.
Although it is sometimes claimed that error protection “must have
been” less in the early genetic codes than in the modern world,
this is not necessarily true. On the contrary, to ensure that
reliable replication occurs among millions of cells of even a
single species, it appears that the earliest genetic codes “must
have been nearly as accurate as those of today, otherwise even
short proteins could not have been transmitted in sufficient
42
numbers” (Yockey, p. 338). In other words, if the earliest genetic
codes were error prone, biology would not have been possible.
In order to ensure the same error protection between source and
receiver which exists in the modern world, there should be similar
redundancy to what exists in the modern world. That is, the ratio
of the number of codons in the DNA to the number of symbols in the
amino acids should be comparable to the modern value (64/20 =
3.2). This suggests that, at an epoch when there were 16 codons in
the DNA code (if there was indeed such a “doublet-codon epoch” in
the early Earth), the value of Naa should have been 5. This is
precisely the case we considered in the Doublet Codon section. The
Central Dogma would be just as robustly valid in such a world as
it is in today’s world. However, the chances of randomly
assembling such a cell is (as we have seen) only 1 in 1063.

21. Window of opportunity? or bottleneck?
There is a further constraint on the world of doublet codons in
which Naa lies in the range from 11 to 14. This has to do with how
well protected the genetic code is from noise-induced mutations.
Cullmann and Labouygues (1983, BioSystems 16, 9: hereafter C&L)
have discussed this issue in numerical detail.
In order to understand the results of C&L, a brief summary of
their terminology is necessary. In a doublet code, with 4 bases,
there are 16 possible codons. Of these, only a certain number (the
“sense codons”) are used to encode for proteinous amino acids. The
remainder are “non-sense codons” which serve to terminate the
translation. Mutations of various types can occur as a result of
noise. There is one class of mutations which causes a sense codon
to switch to a non-sense codon. In a second class of mutations, a
single mutation causes a sense codon to switch to another sense
codon. In the latter case, the protein may still function if there
are synonymous code entries. But if we dealing with an invariant
site, then the protein function is disabled, and C&L refer to a
“mis-sense” codon.
C&L have systematically analyzed all possible doublet codons in a
world where the number of amino acids being encoded varies from Naa
= 0 to 16 (thus including all numbers of interest to us here). In
each case, they count up how many single mutations N lead to nonsense
codons, and how many single mutations D(1) belong to
synonymous and mis-sense codons. C&L point out that the optimal
code (as far as immunization from noise is concerned) is one which
43
minimizes N and which simultaneously maximizes D(1). Codes which
have N not too far from its minimum value also possess significant
immunization against noise. C&L find that, starting with Naa = 0
and increasing Naa in steps of unity, there is at first a growing
number of doublet codes which satisfy the optimal condition.
In the present context, it is important to note that this growth
in available codes continues up to Naa = 8, at which point there
are thousands of codes which are not far from optimal. But for Naa
= 9 and larger, the number of available codes begins to diminish
rapidly. For Naa = 12, the number of codes has decreased to the
hundreds, and as Naa approaches 16, the numbers drop off towards a
value of 1. Thus, as a doublet-codon system attempts to encode for
more and more amino acids, there are less and less options the
closer Naa approaches 16.
Yockey (p. 190) refers to this as a “bottleneck” which has
evolutionary significance. He suggests that doublet codons might
have been successful in operating biology as long as Naa was
smaller than 16. But as more and more amino acids became available
for inclusion into proteins, and Naa eventually increased above 16,
it eventually became necessary to go to triplet codons. However,
before this happened, and as Naa increased upward through values of
9, 10,…16, the shrinking size of parameter space in which noiseimmunized
codes can exist would have exposed the organisms of that
time to an increasing lack of immunization against genetic noise.
Now, we recall that, in our discussion above, the probability of
randomly assembling the RNA for the initial (12-14) cell first
rises to large values when Naa is as large as 11. Using the results
of C&L, we now see that this value of Naa has a significant
property: it is already past the peak in available numbers of
doublet codes. Thus, we are already approaching the vicinity of
Yockey’s “bottleneck”. This makes it increasingly difficult for an
immunized genetic code to handle the large variety of proteins
which one might expect to find in a flourishing biosphere.

22. Overview on the window of opportunity
Let us now take an overall look at the window of opportunity in
the light of our discussions of the “bottleneck” (Section 21), the
entropy (Section 20), and the requisite marginal specificities of
proteins (Section 19). Taken in combination, these discussions
suggest that what appears as a window of opportunity for random
assembly of the first cell (in a formal mathematical sense) may be
44
subject to several classes of difficulties in the biological
context.
It is true that a scenario in which the doublet-codon window opens
up to its widest extent describes a system which is interesting
from a mathematical perspective. But from a biological
perspective, this system suffers from three serious drawbacks.
First, in the encoding process between DNA and proteins, error
protection is many orders of magnitude weaker than it is in modern
organisms. Second, the phase space of permissible genetic codes
shrinks to smaller and smaller volumes. Third, a huge number of
the available proteins must be able to perform each and every task
in the cell: the number is so large that there would have been
almost no specificity in protein tasks within a cell. That is,
there is a good chance that a protein which is supposed to be used
for (say) membrane repair, may switch to one whose function is
(say) enabling reproduction.
Any one of these features could be considered as posing
significant difficulties for cell survivability. The combination
of all three exacerbates the problem. It is difficult to see how a
cell (even of the primitive kind we consider here, no bigger than
a modern virus) could have survived. For the first robust cell to
have developed randomly in the doublet-codon phase of the
primitive Earth, conditions must have been “just right” to allow
survival in the presence of the above serious drawbacks.

23. Conclusion
We have numerically evaluated the probability Pr that, in the first
1.11 billion years of Earth’s existence, random processes were
successful in putting together the RNA for the first cell. In
estimating Pr, we initially assumed that the first cell follows the
rules which guide modern life-forms. That is, we assume there are
Naa = 20 distinct amino acids in proteins, and triplet codons in
the genetic code.
In calculating Pr, we consider only the random assembly of RNA: we
assume that once the RNA is present, it will generate the proteins
for the cell. (Thus, we are not requiring that the proteins be
assembled randomly: if we were to impose such a requirement, the
probabilities of random assembly of the first cell would be even
smaller than the results we obtain here.) Furthermore, we consider
45
a cell which is much smaller than those which exist in the modern
world. The latter contain at least 250 proteins. By contrast, we
have reduced the requirements of the first living cell to a bare
minimum: we assume that that cell was able to function with only
12 proteins. Compared to the smallest known living cell, our
choice of 12 proteins seems almost absurdly reductionist. Our
“cell” looks more like a modern virus (which cannot reproduce
itself) than a bona fide cell. But we proceed anyway.
Moreover we also assume that each protein consists of a chain of
no more than 14 amino acids. We refer to this as a (12-14) cell.
Again, a chain with only 14 amino acids is considerably shorter
than the smallest known protein in the modern world (which
contains a few dozen amino acids). It is not clear that a protein
with only 14 acids would be subject to the 3-dimensional folding
which is essential to protein functioning. Nevertheless, we make
these reductionist assumptions about a cell with the aim of
optimizing the probability of assembling the first cell.
In this spirit, we start with the assumption that the only amino
acids which existed in the primitive Earth were the 20 (or so)
distinct types of amino acids which occur in the proteins of
modern living cells. Also in the spirit of optimization, we assume
that the entire pre-biomass of the Earth was in the form of
proteinous amino acids. We specifically exclude the non-biological
amino acids (numbering more than one hundred) which may have been
produced in the primitive Earth. Moreover, we also assume that all
20 of the proteinous amino acids were present solely in the Lisomer
form so that the growth of a protein chain is not ended
prematurely by unintentional inclusion of a D-isomer. Furthermore,
we assume that the initial cell occurred in the physical
conditions which are most commonly cited in textbooks, i.e. in a
“primeval soup”. This allows us to obtain a firm (and generous)
upper limit on the number of chemical reactions which could have
occurred before the first cell appeared on Earth.
With all of these assumptions, we find that the probability of
assembling the RNA required for even the most primitive (12-14)
cell by random processes in the time available is no more than one
in 1079.
In order to improve on the probability that random processes
assembled the RNA for the first cell, we make the (unproven but
likely) assumption that proteins in the earliest cells were
constructed from a smaller set of distinct amino acids than those
which occur in modern cells. In order to ensure that the primitive
life forms had a similar level of error protection in their
46
genetic code as that which exists in the modern world, we consider
a case in which the early proteins consisted of only Naa = 5
distinct amino acids. For these, the genetic code can operate with
doublet codons. In such a world, the probability of randomly
assembling the RNA for the first cell in the time available is
certainly larger than in our modern (triplet codon) world. But the
probability is still small, no more than one part in about 1063.
We have identified a region in parameter space where, once the
genetic code exists, the probability of random assembly of the
first cell could have reached formally large values in optimal
conditions. These conditions include the following: (i) the first
cell contained 12 proteins; (ii) each protein in the cell
contained 14 amino acids; (iii) there were 4 bases in DNA; (iv)
the protein specificity index was no larger than 2.5 (far below
its average value); and (v) conditions in the primitive prebiosphere
were such that chemical reactions occurred at their
maximum possible rates. (The last of these conditions almost
certainly involves an optimization which is unrealistic by as much
as 10 orders of magnitude.)
(Note that we have said nothing about how the genetic code came
into existence. We merely assume that it is already in operation.
The origin of the code is a more formidable problem than the one
we have addressed here.)
If mathematics were the only consideration, our conclusions would
suggest that the RNA for the first cell could have been assembled
randomly in the primeval soup in 1.11 b.y. once there was a code
and abundant supplies of between 11 and 14 distinct proteinous
amino acids. However, when we take into account considerations of
coding theory (especially the necessity to protect the proteins
from errors of transcription), it appears that this region of
parameter space is hostile to protein production. And the genetic
code has to pass through a “bottleneck” in order to enter into the
modern world, with its 20 proteinous amino acids. As a result, the
first cell might have had serious difficulties surviving as an
autonomous biological system.
Finally, the extreme nature of our assumptions regarding the first
cell (12 proteins, each containing 14 amino acids) can hardly be
overstated. If a cell is to fulfil even the minimum requirements
of a Von Neumann self-replicating machine, it probably needs at
least 250 proteins. Even with multiple optimizations in our
assumptions about the primeval soup, the window of opportunity for
creating such a cell in 1.11 b.y. narrows down to a very
restricted region in phase space: (I) there must have been exactly
47
14 distinct amino acids in the cell proteins, (II) the protein
specificity index must have been between 1.0 and 1.17, and (III)
at least 1058 chemical reactions must have occurred between the
bases (or amino acids) in 1.11 b.y. The “fine tuning” of such
conditions presents a problem. However, there are more serious
problems than fine tuning: error protection in the genetic code
fails altogether in these conditions. Even the Central Dogma of
biology breaks down. A cell formed under these conditions would
truly be subject to serious uncertainties not only during day-today
existence but especially during replication. The cell could
hardly be considered robust.
Nevertheless, as Yockey (p. 203) points out, the possibility that
an organism from the doublet-codon world might have survived the
“bottleneck” may have some empirical support. According to the
endosymbiotic theory (L. Margulis 1970, Origin of Eukaryotic
Cells, Yale Univ. Press, New Haven CT), mitochondria might have
been at one time free-living bacteria which now survive in a
symbiotic relationship with the cytoplasma of other cells. In
mitochondria, the genetic code differs somewhat from the code in
other cells. Perhaps mitochondria are representative of organisms
which originated in the doublet-codon world, but which could not
survive on their own because of the difficulties associated with
the hostile zone of parameter space where they originated.
In summary, if the first cell actually originated by random
processes, the genetic code must already have existed, and
conditions must have been “finely tuned” in order to trace a path
through a narrow (and hostile) region of parameter space. The idea
that some of the constants of the physical world have been subject
to “fine tuning” in order to allow life to emerge, has been widely
discussed in recent years (e.g. in the book by J. D. Barrow and F.
J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University
Press, 1994, 706 pp). If we are correct in concluding that “fine
tuning” is also required in order to assemble the first cell, we
might regard this conclusion as a biological example of the
Anthropic Principle.






--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reply

Isambard
10-30-2007, 06:19 PM
Why by the mighty tome called the Atheist manifesto of course! Teaches us how to bring disaccord and choas into the world for our dark masters!

Anyways, you are using the double whammy of God-of-the Gaps and Irreducible Complexity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_of_the_gaps
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/behe/review.html

Seeing as there is no Atheist PRATT book as of yet, Ill just stick to these links ;)

Enjoy!

Edit: If youd be kind enough to provide a link and wait a day or so, I might be able to debunk it in a bit more detail. The methodology is the same though
Reply

Trumble
10-30-2007, 06:33 PM
I thought we had declared a moratorium on 'debate by Google'? :muddlehea
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 06:38 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
who are you swearing by? I like atheists to be devout in their convictions.. you should find some other means to loan your 'arguments/disceptations' credence, than make such a declaration under oath!
I assume he did not mean it literally. Are you trying to cause conflict?

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
Probabilities of randomly assembling a primitive cell on Earth


Summary

We evaluate the probability Pr that the RNA of the first cell was
assembled randomly in the time available (1.11 billion years
[b.y.]). To do this calculation, we first set a strict upper limit
on the number of chemical reactions nr which could have occurred
before the first cell appeared.

<snip>
I remember reading an excellent response by a highly intelligent member from another forum to probability. I will find his response and credit him.

Originally Posted by Dante
I: The claim to improbability falls prey to the fallacy of postdiction. It is not meaningful to calculate the theoretical probability of an event after it has occurred. For example, let us suppose you have a deck of fifty-two cards - a standard deck. Shuffle them well, perhaps seven times. Now, deal out each card one by one. Note the order. What do you suppose was the probability of that specific sequence for appearing?

Congratulations, it was on an order of 1.24 x 10^-63 - a vanishingly small probability. You will never see that sequence again most likely. In fact, if you took all of Earth's 6.5 billion humans and had them deal one trillion decks per second, it would still take you about 3.93 x 10^38 years to see it. That's 393 million million million million million million years.

For perspective, that's about 29 billion billion billion years times the estimated age of the universe.

Surprised that you got it anyway? Notice the flaw here? You never specified in advance which sequence you were going to get. Clearly, you were going to get something but you did not specify what. This is a grave fallacy in this entire flawed line of reasoning.
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 06:41 PM
Please don't waste my time with your opinion or wikipedia..
until such a time you read the article in full can refute it with the same level of science and dextrity don't waste my time.

I am not interested in your shenanigans and I am not seduced nor taken aback by the lexiconic. In other words cut the crap and do some home work. The article stands as is. Someone's thesis.. can you dispute the math and the science in it or you going to dance around with the same ole recycled rhetoric we are accustomed to seeing from your ilk?

In fact the author who is a doctor, doesn't make the conclusion of 'God' for you are left to draw your own conclusions. He merely disputed the crap many of you peddle as science to make a case for atheism all the while labeling others as unread, or whatever other labels.

Don't debunk an article with a book you've read. Dispute it with your mind, do you think you can think for yourself?
cheers!
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 06:41 PM
...
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 06:53 PM
Originally Posted by Skavau
I assume he did not mean it literally. Are you trying to cause conflict?
I am being quizzical.. I too get tired of the same. See how amazing the human condition goes both ways!


I remember reading an excellent response by a highly intelligent member from another forum to probability. I will find his response and credit him.
whahahha ;D.. I can't even begin to count how many things are wrong with that statement!
1- Glad you remember reading!
2- good luck searching
3-A sad commentary indeed to await someone else to fight your battles for you. When you are all so into 'reasoning' and rationality!
4-What is the matter.. can't sit down and fiddle with your pen and paper, looking at the dates of fossils, the least number of amino acids required to make a functioning protein, let alone a full cell and the drive behind why we keep having these perfectly successful 'speciation' every so often for yourself, that one of you has to reference us to wiki, the other gets upset with google, and you tell us of the articles you remember reading? is this some joke?

if none of you can address the article above, with logic, sound reason, math and science, especially molecular biology, that which supposedly, has led the lot of you to become atheists, then please don't waste my time! I honestly do have better things to do with it...
And pls know, I couldn't care less if you worship the porcelain God or your dawkins... This is merely to tell you, from a science stand point, you are as illogical, lacking orderly continuity with your argument, as the most illiterate folks that make up the flat earth society!



cheers!
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 06:54 PM
deaf dumb and blind:hmm:
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 07:09 PM
Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
deaf dumb and blind:hmm:
Kuffar have been described as 'cedar trees'.. Nothing sways them short of being uprooted. As in truth upon death..
The cedar tree to which Allaah likened the kaafir (disbeliever)

Abu Hurayrah said: "The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The example of the believer is like that of a plant which is continually bent over by the wind; the believer is continually beset with afflictions. The example of a hypocrite is like that of the cedar tree, which does not yield until it is uprooted in one go." (Muslim, 5024)

The scholars of Arabic language said: the cedar (al-arz) is a tree similar to the stone pine tree, which grows in Syria and Armenia. According to another report, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "The example of the kaafir is that of the firmly-rooted cedar which does not yield to anything until it is uprooted in one go."

Hence I am not a fan of these articles to begin with, because it brings out so much jadal (vain discourse) back and forth. I rather feel that they should enjoy life to the fullest, they only get one chance... If I had nothing to hold me back, I'd be eating life up seeing what I could get away with, not arguing that God doesn't exist because dawkin said so, or because of wikipedia or some article by pratt or Dante. what a shame, a mob of hysterical vigilantes!


:w:
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 07:23 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
whahahha .. I can't even begin to count how many things are wrong with that statement!
1- Glad you remember reading!
Eh?

I do not understand what you are getting at above.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
2- good luck searching
Thank you. I have seen it various times. I am unable to find a very long explanation by him.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
3-A sad commentary indeed to await someone else to fight your battles for you. When you are all so into 'reasoning' and rationality!
I thought it would be appropriate to have a response by someone which was relevant to what you raised.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
4-What is the matter.. can't sit down and fiddle with your pen and paper, looking at the dates of fossils, the least number of amino acids required to make a functioning protein, let alone a full cell and the drive behind why we keep having these perfectly successful 'speciation' every so often for yourself, that one of you has to reference us to wiki, the other gets upset with google, and you tell us of the articles you remember reading? is this some joke?
Except I didn't use Google.

And can you please inform us precisely, in as little words as possible - your precise argument. Are you, if what I am seeing is correct - arguing that everything is too unlikely and therefore needs a creator?

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
if none of you can address the article above, with logic, sound reason, math and science, especially molecular biology, that which supposedly, has led the lot of you to become atheists, then please don't waste my time! I honestly do have better things to do with it...
Please drop the pomposity. You don't get to choose your responses.

Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
deaf dumb and blind
Ignoring the ad hominem, about what - precisely?
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 07:25 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
Hence I am not a fan of these articles to begin with, because it brings out so much jadal (vain discourse) back and forth. I rather feel that they should enjoy life to the fullest, they only get one chance... If I had nothing to hold me back, I'd be eating life up seeing what I could get away with, not arguing that God doesn't exist because dawkin said so, or because of wikipedia or some article by pratt or Dante. what a shame, a mob of hysterical vigilantes!
Do you wonder why I think you hold all Atheists in contempt?

The above statement is precisely why I think such. If you are unable to communicate to us on a level of humanity, then why should any of us bother to respond?
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 07:37 PM
listen sakavu et al.. I have no time to stop to observe and start to excogitate on why you are or others like you are atheists. I am not going to descend to word play with you to drown out the fact that you are unable to answer the original document.

I have spoken in lay man's terms plenty under Muslim evolution thread and tons of others those that are hiding some where in the crevice of this forum, those that have met with a certain fate in recycling bin.This isn't the first time I bring this in full view!

I think the intention of the article is purely scientific, there is no mention of God anywhere in it, least of which the conclusion if you have skimmed over the whole!.. if you are put off by reading, it isn't my problem, if you are stupefied and your only defense mechanism is to wrangle back and forth, that also isn't my problem. If you are buying time to find some inane atheist to fight your battles for you, that too isn't my problem.
I think the article is very simple and self-explanatory. even the mathematical values used are designated in the top by letters so that the most simpleton of minds can follow.
And there is a reason to why I post it as such, though I don't think it is very difficult to find sources for this article, so everyone can go look for some buffoon to do the refuting for them. You have a mind, you can think, I have no doubt to believe you became an atheist after much deep thought, you shouldn't be fazed then when someone offers you so SIMPLE questions on YOUR FALSE BELIEFS. The way the lot of you do around here day in and day out, in that brassy style we are accustomed to seeing from your ilk.

That is all the talking I am going to do to answer crap. Until such a time one of you sits with the above paragraph by paragraph sentence by sentence to show me the error in it.

cheers!
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 07:56 PM
Originally Posted by Skavau
on a level of humanity
Quite the contrary, I don't think of any human being no matter how base or degenerate, on a level less than that of a dignified being in the most glorious form of creation (what they do to their ownselves is a different story). I rather think it an atheist who is having a difficult time distinguishing himself from a parasitic protozoa.

cheers!

p.s --I wasn't looking to engage any of you, I am sorry if I gave that impression. I just came to slap one caustic remark with another.. we too are quite capable of blackguarding!
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 08:02 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
listen sakavu et al.. I have no time to stop to observe and start to excogitate on why you are or others like you are atheists. I am not going to descend to word play with you to drown out the fact that you are unable to answer the original document.
Conceded - I did not read the original document spare the start of it. It seems to be the same typical argument about probability.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
I think the intention of the article is purely scientific, there is no mention of God anywhere in it, least of which the conclusion if you have skimmed over the whole!.. if you are put off by reading, it isn't my problem, if you are stupefied and your only defense mechanism is to wrangle back and forth, that also isn't my problem. If you are buying time to find some inane atheist to fight your battles for you, that too isn't my problem.
This is so ironic coming from someone who in my experience uses the internet to copy articles and use them as arguments. I simply asked for what the summary of the argument is.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
And there is a reason to why I post it as such, though I don't think it is very difficult to find sources for this article, so everyone can go look for some buffoon to do the refuting for them. You have a mind, you can think, I have no doubt to believe you became an atheist after much deep thought, you shouldn't be fazed then when someone offers you so SIMPLE questions on YOUR FALSE BELIEFS. The way the lot of you do around here day in and day out, in that brassy style we are accustomed to seeing from your ilk.
You did not ask any questions, you posted an article and from quick glance of the article, it is all about the probabilities of arranging a cell. It is from every indication a typical argument from probability which makes itself look intelligent by appealing to scientific data of what is. Presumably, you are of the standpoint that such improbability of creating a cell invokes the necessity of a God.

I am not. And that standpoint you assert there is entirely philosophical and nothing to do with science. Since there is nothing in the article that invokes God or a creative intelligence, I have absolutely no reason to bother to refute any of it. It is entirely your standpoint that there is a need for Atheists to explain it.

Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
That is all the talking I am going to do to answer crap. Until such a time one of you sits with the above paragraph by paragraph sentence by sentence to show me the error in it.
Your pomposity is incredible. You seem to be of the standpoint that your article is infallible if not addressed in full detail and to your demands. It is equivalent to some of the hit and run posters on forums. They will copy an article from the internet and appeal to its authority.

If you are waiting for a full explanation to your demands, I imagine you will be waiting a very long time.
Reply

Woodrow
10-30-2007, 08:08 PM
Just a reminder to everybody. Keep all replies directed to the topic and not to any poster.
Reply

Gator
10-30-2007, 08:15 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
...we find that the probability of
assembling the RNA required for even the most primitive (12-14)
cell by random processes in the time available is no more than one
in 1079.
No more than that! Pretty good odds, actually.
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 08:26 PM
:peace:

by Dr. Zakir Naik



CONGRATULATING AN ATHEIST

Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, " My special congratulations to you", because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief - he is a Christian, because his father is a Christian; he is a Hindu, because his father is a Hindu; the majority of the people in the world are blindly following the religion of their fathers. An atheist, on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; what ever concept or qualities of God he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him.

My Muslim brothers may question me, "Zakir, why are you congratulating an atheist?" The reason that I am congratulating an atheist is because he agrees with the first part of the Shahada i.e. the Islamic Creed, ‘La ilaaha’ - meaning ‘there is no God’. So half my job is already done; now the only part left is ‘il lallah’ i.e. ‘BUT ALLAH’ which I shall do Insha Allah. With others (who are not atheists) I have to first remove from their minds the wrong concept of God they may have and then put the correct concept of one true God.


LOGICAL CONCEPT OF GOD

My first question to the atheist will be: "What is the definition of God?" For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God. His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives. The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities - therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods.

If a non-Muslim believes that Islam is a merciless religion with something to do with terrorism; a religion which does not give rights to women; a religion which contradicts science; in his limited sense that non-Muslim is correct to reject such Islam. The problem is he has a wrong picture of Islam. Even I reject such a false picture of Islam, but at the same time, it becomes my duty as a Muslim to present the correct picture of Islam to that non-Muslim i.e. Islam is a merciful religion, it gives equal rights to the women, it is not incompatible with logic, reason and science; if I present the correct facts about Islam, that non-Muslim may Inshallah accept Islam.

Similarly the atheist rejects the false gods and the duty of every Muslim is to present the correct concept of God which he shall Insha Allah not refuse.

(You may refer to my article, ‘Concept of God in Islam’, for more details)


QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE

The methods of proving the existence of God with usage of the material provided in the ‘Concept of God in Islam’ to an atheist may satisfy some but not all.

Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.

If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, " Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.

SCIENTIFIC FACTS MENTIONED IN THE QUR’AN: for details on this subject please refer to my book, ‘THE QUR’AN AND MODERN SCIENCE – COMPATIBLE OR INCOMPATIBLE?


THEORY OF PROBABILITY

In mathematics there is a theory known as ‘Theory of Probability’. If you have two options, out of which one is right, and one is wrong, the chances that you will chose the right one is half, i.e. one out of the two will be correct. You have 50% chances of being correct. Similarly if you toss a coin the chances that your guess will be correct is 50% (1 out of 2) i.e. 1/2. If you toss a coin the second time, the chances that you will be correct in the second toss is again 50% i.e. half. But the chances that you will be correct in both the tosses is half multiplied by half (1/2 x 1/2) which is equal to 1/4 i.e. 50% of 50% which is equal to 25%. If you toss a coin the third time, chances that you will be correct all three times is (1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2) that is 1/8 or 50% of 50% of 50% that is 12½%.

A dice has got six sides. If you throw a dice and guess any number between 1 to 6, the chances that your guess will be correct is 1/6. If you throw the dice the second time, the chances that your guess will be correct in both the throws is (1/6 x 1/6) which is equal to 1/36. If you throw the dice the third time, the chances that all your three guesses are correct is (1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6) is equal to 1/216 that is less than 0.5 %.

Let us apply this theory of probability to the Qur’an, and assume that a person has guessed all the information that is mentioned in the Qur’an which was unknown at that time. Let us discuss the probability of all the guesses being simultaneously correct.

At the time when the Qur’an was revealed, people thought the world was flat, there are several other options for the shape of the earth. It could be triangular, it could be quadrangular, pentagonal, hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal, spherical, etc. Lets assume there are about 30 different options for the shape of the earth. The Qur’an rightly says it is spherical, if it was a guess the chances of the guess being correct is 1/30.

The light of the moon can be its own light or a reflected light. The Qur’an rightly says it is a reflected light. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/2 and the probability that both the guesses i.e the earth is spherical and the light of the moon is reflected light is 1/30 x 1/2 = 1/60.

Further, the Qur’an also mentions every living thing is made of water. Every living thing can be made up of either wood, stone, copper, aluminum, steel, silver, gold, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, oil, water, cement, concrete, etc. The options are say about 10,000. The Qur’an rightly says that everything is made up of water. If it is a guess, the chances that it will be correct is 1/10,000 and the probability of all the three guesses i.e. the earth is spherical, light of moon is reflected light and everything is created from water being correct is 1/30 x 1/2 x 1/10,000 = 1/60,000 which is equal to about .0017%.



The Qur’an speaks about hundreds of things that were not known to men at the time of its revelation. Only in three options the result is .0017%. I leave it upto you, to work out the probability if all the hundreds of the unknown facts were guesses, the chances of all of them being correct guesses simultaneously and there being not a single wrong guess. It is beyond human capacity to make all correct guesses without a single mistake, which itself is sufficient to prove to a logical person that the origin of the Qur’an is Divine.


CREATOR IS THE AUTHOR OF THE QUR’AN

The only logical answer to the question as to who could have mentioned all these scientific facts 1400 years ago before they were discovered, is exactly the same answer initially given by the atheist or any person, to the question who will be the first person who will be able to tell the mechanism of the unknown object. It is the ‘CREATOR’, the producer, the Manufacturer of the whole universe and its contents. In the English language He is ‘God’, or more appropriate in the Arabic language, ‘ALLAH’.

QUR’AN IS A BOOK OF SIGNS AND NOT SCIENCE

Let me remind you that the Qur’an is not a book of Science, ‘S-C-I-E-N-C-E’ but a book of Signs ‘S-I-G-N-S’ i.e. a book of ayaats. The Qur’an contains more than 6,000 ayaats, i.e. ‘signs’, out of which more than a thousand speak about Science. I am not trying to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God using scientific knowledge as a yard stick because any yardstick is supposed to be more superior than what is being checked or verified. For us Muslims the Qur’an is the Furqan i.e. criteria to judge right from wrong and the ultimate yardstick which is more superior to scientific knowledge.

But for an educated man who is an atheist, scientific knowledge is the ultimate test which he believes in. We do know that science many a times takes ‘U’ turns, therefore I have restricted the examples only to scientific facts which have sufficient proof and evidence and not scientific theories based on assumptions. Using the ultimate yardstick of the atheist, I am trying to prove to him that the Qur’an is the word of God and it contains the scientific knowledge which is his yardstick which was discovered recently, while the Qur’an was revealed 1400 year ago. At the end of the discussion, we both come to the same conclusion that God though superior to science, is not incompatible with it.


SCIENCE IS ELIMINATING MODELS OF GOD BUT NOT GOD

Francis Bacon, the famous philosopher, has rightly said that a little knowledge of science makes man an atheist, but an in-depth study of science makes him a believer in God. Scientists today are eliminating models of God, but they are not eliminating God. If you translate this into Arabic, it is La illaha illal la, There is no god, (god with a small ‘g’ that is fake god) but God (with a capital ‘G’).

Surah Fussilat:

"Soon We will show them our signs in the (farthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?"

[Al-Quran 41:53]

Reference: http://www.irf.net/irf/comparativereligion/index.htm
Reply

wilberhum
10-30-2007, 08:30 PM
I just learned the meaning of PRATT about 10 minutes ago.

I never thought I would have use of it so quickly. :giggling:
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 08:38 PM
Originally Posted by wilberhum
I just learned the meaning of PRATT about 10 minutes ago.

I never thought I would have use of it so quickly. :giggling:
And why would u wanna make use of such word :rolleyes:may I ask…………or have I totally misunderstood something
Reply

wilberhum
10-30-2007, 08:44 PM
Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
And why would u wanna make use of such word :rolleyes:may I ask…………or have I totally misunderstood something
Why would I want to use such a word? Becuse it truly explains the situation. :thumbs_up
Have you totally misunderstood something? I don't know. Do you know what it stands for? :(

If not try;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRATT
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 08:50 PM
Originally Posted by wilberhum
Why would I want to use such a word? Becuse it truly explains the situation. :thumbs_up
Have you totally misunderstood something? I don't know. Do you know what it stands for? :(

If not try;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRATT
lol, ok cool i understand now:D
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 08:58 PM
anyways Atheist people (not meaning that in an offensive way)
have any of you even bothered to read what I posted with the green font?

if not why not! lol

anyways Allah swa is the one who guides people to the straight path, I'm just trying to help you see the plain TRUTH.

I would say ask God for guidance but I have to remind my self that you don’t believe in God:(
Reply

wilberhum
10-30-2007, 09:00 PM
Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
lol, ok cool i understand now:D
Glad you are not offended.

“Preaching to the Choir” also comes to mind.
Meaning that it is only believable to the believers.

The article has so many holes in it that any rational non-believer will never find it creditable.

Peace
Wilber
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 09:01 PM
Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
anyways Atheist people (not meaning that in an offensive way)
have any of you even bothered to read what I posted with the green font?
Yes. I have seen it (and Zakir Naiks other work) hundreds of time. It is about as groundbreaking and as innovative as the Teleological Argument relayed by Christian Fundamentalists.

Oh wait. Zakir Naik uses the Teleological Argument.

Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
anyways Allah swa is the one who guides people to the straight path, I'm just trying to help you see the plain TRUTH.
You could do better than Zakir Naik.

Just some of his argument responded to for now:

Zakir Naik is a man who simply repeats very common arguments about God. There is very little to be proud of in him as a Muslim, let alone an Atheist. I get tired of seeing his arguments endlessly copied on the internet as if they are revolution in thought.

Originally Posted by Article
CONGRATULATING AN ATHEIST

Normally, when I meet an atheist, the first thing I like to do is to congratulate him and say, " My special congratulations to you", because most of the people who believe in God are doing blind belief - he is a Christian, because his father is a Christian; he is a Hindu, because his father is a Hindu; the majority of the people in the world are blindly following the religion of their fathers. An atheist, on the other hand, even though he may belong to a religious family, uses his intellect to deny the existence of God; what ever concept or qualities of God he may have learnt in his religion may not seem to be logical to him.

My Muslim brothers may question me, "Zakir, why are you congratulating an atheist?" The reason that I am congratulating an atheist is because he agrees with the first part of the Shahada i.e. the Islamic Creed, ‘La ilaaha’ - meaning ‘there is no God’. So half my job is already done; now the only part left is ‘il lallah’ i.e. ‘BUT ALLAH’ which I shall do Insha Allah. With others (who are not atheists) I have to first remove from their minds the wrong concept of God they may have and then put the correct concept of one true God.
Yes.

Originally Posted by Zakir Naik
LOGICAL CONCEPT OF GOD

My first question to the atheist will be: "What is the definition of God?"
An Atheist can answer with an array of answers to that. Traditionally, the Islamic attributes towards God is omniscience, omnipotence, benevolence, eternal, judge, creator, transcendent, perfect.. etc.

Originally Posted by Article
For a person to say there is no God, he should know what is the meaning of God. If I hold a book and say that ‘this is a pen’, for the opposite person to say, ‘it is not a pen’, he should know what is the definition of a pen, even if he does not know nor is able to recognise or identify the object I am holding in my hand. For him to say this is not a pen, he should at least know what a pen means. Similarly for an atheist to say ‘there is no God’, he should at least know the concept of God.
Originally Posted by Article
His concept of God would be derived from the surroundings in which he lives.
Not necessarily. An Atheist may not even have a concept of God. Some Atheists may assert various concepts of God according to their understanding of Gods that people believe in.

Originally Posted by Article
The god that a large number of people worship has got human qualities - therefore he does not believe in such a god. Similarly a Muslim too does not and should not believe in such false gods.
This assumes that all Atheists disbelieve in a particular qualities of a God and for particular reasons. The actual reasons Atheists disbelieve in God is overwhelmingly due to lack of evidence or reason to suppose there is one or incoherence in the definition of God as provided by many.

Originally Posted by Article
Many atheists demand a scientific proof for the existence of God. I agree that today is the age of science and technology. Let us use scientific knowledge to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to prove the existence of God and simultaneously prove that the Qur’an is a revelation of God.
Right.

Originally Posted by Article
If a new object or a machine, which no one in the world has ever seen or heard of before, is shown to an atheist or any person and then a question is asked, " Who is the first person who will be able to provide details of the mechanism of this unknown object? After little bit of thinking, he will reply, ‘the creator of that object.’ Some may say ‘the producer’ while others may say ‘the manufacturer.’ What ever answer the person gives, keep it in your mind, the answer will always be either the creator, the producer, the manufacturer or some what of the same meaning, i.e. the person who has made it or created it. Don’t grapple with words, whatever answer he gives, the meaning will be same, therefore accept it.
This is, as I can quite clearly see - the Teleological Argument. Hardly an innovation in thought or even an effective argument to proving anything.

The Teleological Argument assumes its conclusion in the premises. It assumes that the universe was created and concludes that it was created by God. Analogies used to provide a clearer picture refer to human inventions being designed - but ignores the fact that the universe (which is the sum total of everything) and a car (often used in analogies) are comparable. They are not comparable in the slightest. We are with complete knowledge and evidence of the origins of cars. We are not with knowledge on the origins of the universe.

The Teleological Argument is only of any value if you actually contend the universe was created. Even then it does not actually account for or provide any meaningful evidence for what created or established the designer of the universe, and by the arguments own standards - it would require one or defy its own logic. The Teleological Argument therefore begs the question and is one rather irritating and consistent logical fallacy.
Reply

Whatsthepoint
10-30-2007, 09:01 PM
Originally Posted by Ourra-Tul-'Ain
anyways Atheist people (not meaning that in an offensive way)
have any of you even bothered to read what I posted with the green font?

if not why not! lol

anyways Allah swa is the one who guides people to the straight path, I'm just trying to help you see the plain TRUTH.

I would say ask God for guidance but I have to remind my self that you don’t believe in God:(
If you wanna advertize Islam I suggest you stop using the spherical earth and watery humans. It's not convincing at all. If I were you, I'd switch to the quranic mathematical miracles and prophecies.:)
Reply

Ourra-Tul-'Ain
10-30-2007, 09:14 PM
Originally Posted by Whatsthepoint
If you wanna advertize Islam I suggest you stop using the spherical earth and watery humans. It's not convincing at all. If I were you, I'd switch to the quranic mathematical miracles and prophecies.:)

you know what, let me not be the one who 'convinces you' how about you do your own research with an open heart and mind and see where that takes you.


"If I were you, I'd switch to the quranic mathematical miracles and prophecies.:)[/QUOTE]" well if you have looked at them things you mentioned then what can I say; except TO YOU YOUR WAY, TO ME MINE: peace:

I only want for you what I want for my self may Allah swa guide us all ameen.

:peace:
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 09:16 PM
Originally Posted by Skavau
Conceded - I did not read the original document spare the start of it. It seems to be the same typical argument about probability.
There is nothing typical about it. There is how ever something typical about your thought process that is no different from that of any religionist!

This is so ironic coming from someone who in my experience uses the internet to copy articles and use them as arguments. I simply asked for what the summary of the argument is.
I have told you and repeatedly, I have discussed molecular biology and the assembly of cells here in more than one thread. If you haven't read or followed them, there is nothing much I can do about that!


Again. until you are able to provide a scientifically sound refutation, there is no point in engaging me in the snarls of your mind. I am simply not interested in your opinion. I am interested in the science behind what people write or think. Until you can do that.. there is no point to this!


cheers!
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 09:17 PM
Originally Posted by Gator
No more than that! Pretty good odds, actually.
That was deep thank you.
try the rest now.. one line by one!

cheers!
Reply

Trumble
10-30-2007, 10:05 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
That is all the talking I am going to do to answer crap. Until such a time one of you sits with the above paragraph by paragraph sentence by sentence to show me the error in it.
This is utterly absurd. You post, uncredited, an article that runs to 47 pages (Dermott J. Mullen's Probability of randomly assembling a primitive cell on earth) and then demand a "sentence by sentence" rebuttal? To analyse it and produce a full response, 'refutation' or otherwise, would take days even for an expert in the field and as far as I'm aware we have no such person here.

You can't even be bothered to summarise the article into a format that might be both readable in less than an evening and a fit subject for discussion by what you know is a non-specialist audience, so why should anyone put in the effort needed to reply? How long did it take to cut n'paste - 30 seconds?
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 10:24 PM
Originally Posted by Trumble
This is utterly absurd.
is it absured to you as an atheist being smug literally asking us to bring it on?

You post, uncredited, an article that runs to 47 pages (Dermott J. Mullen's Probability of randomly assembling a primitive cell on earth)
Indeed, it was posted here more than once, you'd think the same folks demanding a source would just as easily use the search button. the same folks who ask me to summarize would bother reading other threads, where I have debated the exactsame in the most succinct fashion!

and then demand a "sentence by sentence" rebuttal? To analyse it and produce a full response, 'refutation' or otherwise, would take days even for an expert in the field and as far as I'm aware we have no such person here.
We have plenty of molecular biologists here. Br. Mustafa is one, anyone who has had an under grad in biology will have branched over to molecular as part of their curriculum, I assume anyone who engages in the sciences in such an overt way on a public forum, has at least some base level knowledge of the subject! Further if you actually take the time to read the article, you'd see it written in a language that everyone can understand. You lay here on the biggest information source all day, I see it rather easy to look up any term that is difficult for you to comprehend

You can't even be bothered to summarise the article into a format that might be both readable in less than an evening and a fit subject for discussion by what you know is a non-specialist audience, so why should anyone put in the effort needed to reply? How long did it take to cut n'paste - 30 seconds?
What would you like summarized exactly if the whole article is in fact a summary. Even early fossils that are used as examples we are linked to them, if you'd actually bothered to read!
Took me 30 seconds indeed to post but took me a good four days to read it.
I don't need to be answered back with the usual quips. I find it rather hilarious the lot of you go on and on about how every theistic argument has been refuted and yet have the audacity to sit here asking us who in our midst is an expert in the field!
Mind you in no where in the article does he mention God. He simply speaks of the assembly of a primitive cell composed of even smaller peptides than that used in viruses (which on a side note aren't considered living organisms) as they need a host to actually function. but even with that going into the simplest that could have been assembled by mere chance, using our eldest known fossils, comparing it to the life of this earth, to that of first crude life to the complex forms we have today.. I couldn't possibly make it any simpler than that, nor can he be more precise than what he has written.
The irony is, not one of you, NOT ONE has actually bothered addressed the article. You have all engaged us in a nice dance with anything but the actual topic.
That is fine, and I am not looking for a reply, simply because I know how the lot of you function, you'll either go get an article from the web like you've done with the paper on evolution from physics stand point to attack the character of the scientist defending his thesis, rather than actually take the time to read, understand and see if your own mind can pick the flaws or accolades, or link us to wikipedia or simply attack the person posting.. yet by same token, have the temerity to come here on an Islamic forum of all places and dicate to its folks how they are living in some ice age.

Bottom line of this, is please get off your high horses. You want to be an atheist no one is holding a gun to your head to be anything else. I rather think the people who sway you here, do it to be inviting and humanistic, wanting to share with others what they know and love. I can think of no other reason of extending the da3wa to someone. certainly no one gets paid for it... For me I frankly couldn't care less where the lot of you rot!



cheers!
Reply

Isambard
10-30-2007, 10:32 PM
Im curious by what you mean when you say 'high horse' . If you click on the first pg, the whole thread was started by someone posting an article that on the surface, was meant to discredit atheist claims.

The article itself was picked apart and refuted citing that it was just a collection of fallacies points refuted a thousand times (PRATT).

You yourself admit that your article doesnt invoke God, that it merely talks about irreducibility. To attribute it then to God would be a God-of-the-gaps claim as you having linking the two rather you claim ignorance therefore God.

So then it goes back to what i said earlier, its the PRATTs of God-of-the-gaps and irreducibility as you yourself admitted to pertaining to the premise.
Reply

جوري
10-30-2007, 10:51 PM
Originally Posted by Isambard
Im curious by what you mean when you say 'high horse' . If you click on the first pg, the whole thread was started by someone posting an article that on the surface, was meant to discredit atheist claims.
So? I have never given any atheist credit, to discredit him/her at a later time!
The article itself was picked apart and refuted citing that it was just a collection of fallacies points refuted a thousand times (PRATT).
This concerns me how? I am not the one who posted the original article, although I did enjoy it! I thought it was written in the simplistic terms atheists enjoy, on the account it makes it easy to pick apart!

You yourself admit that your article doesnt invoke God, that it merely talks about irreducibility. To attribute it then to God would be a God-of-the-gaps claim as you having linking the two rather you claim ignorance therefore God.
What you have just done is what I call an a priori judgment! True the author leaves you to draw your own conclusion..but your judgment should be reached after consideration of what was presented.. all the gaps have in fact been filled. There is only one LOGICAL conclusion that can be considered aesthetically consistent in relation to all parts discussed and presented!


AGAIN, and for the umpteenth time, I don't enjoy sitting on the web wrangling with little smug self-satisfied thickos. You claim you or yours have been capable of refuting the first, just as easily then refute the second. That is what it means TO NOT HAVE ANY DOUBT! It means no one can throw an article at you that will unnerve you! it means you can sit there drink your mochajavacrapchinno with greta on your arms, titter to yourself while shrugging your shoulders at all the abhorrent muslims in the world and how they stifle your mind with their doctrine and obsolete rituals!


cheers!
Reply

Skavau
10-30-2007, 11:48 PM
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia

Again. until you are able to provide a scientifically sound refutation, there is no point in engaging me in the snarls of your mind. I am simply not interested in your opinion. I am interested in the science behind what people write or think. Until you can do that.. there is no point to this!
Refutation to what? I explained this in my last post and I will repeat the same if you refuse to understand or do not understand - I have nothing to refute. You conceded yourself the article does not conclude God, and therefore it is entirely your own conclusion that the article somehow asserts God. What is there for me to say precisely?

You think it shows God. I do not. You ask for me to refute it. I see nothing to refute. As I said:

Originally Posted by Skavau
You did not ask any questions, you posted an article and from quick glance of the article, it is all about the probabilities of arranging a cell. It is from every indication a typical argument from probability which makes itself look intelligent by appealing to scientific data of what is. Presumably, you are of the standpoint that such improbability of creating a cell invokes the necessity of a God.

I am not. And that standpoint you assert there is entirely philosophical and nothing to do with science. Since there is nothing in the article that invokes God or a creative intelligence, I have absolutely no reason to bother to refute any of it. It is entirely your standpoint that there is a need for Atheists to explain it.
Originally Posted by PurestAmbrosia
What you have just done is what I call an a priori judgment! True the author leaves you to draw your own conclusion..but your judgment should be reached after consideration of what was presented.. all the gaps have in fact been filled. There is only one LOGICAL conclusion that can be considered aesthetically consistent in relation to all parts discussed and presented!
I have no interest truly in reading the article. It is apparently describing the probability of the creation of a single cell. You yourself concede there is no conclusion towards a God. Considering the articles premise and conclusion, I see no reason for me or any other Atheist to refute anything.

You have to show how it concludes God.
Reply

جوري
10-31-2007, 12:05 AM
Originally Posted by Skavau
Refutation to what? I explained this in my last post and I will repeat the same if you refuse to understand or do not understand - I have nothing to refute. You conceded yourself the article does not conclude God, and therefore it is entirely your own conclusion that the article somehow asserts God. What is there for me to say precisely?
Where in my post did I invoke you sakavu for a refutation? -- Don't you find it rather jejune to insinuate yourself in a debate only to let us know how uninterested in it, I honestly forgot you exist here-- so grow up!

You think it shows God. I do not. You ask for me to refute it. I see nothing to refute. As I said:
I don't care what you see or don't see in it. Given that you haven't even read it; How preposterous are you? --What exactly are you yapping about? If you can't stick to a topic, or have even read to come write here, with what I can only deem an attempt to save face-- if only the wild farcical exuberance of a clown be construed for something meaninfgul.. and the topper is doing it by proxy of another atheist' conclusions! -- please do us all a favor and simply DON'T POST!
We are not all fervidly awaiting your input--You sound hysterical in most of your nonsensical attempts at a reply. Get someone to slap you quick so you can snap out of this!






cheers!
Reply

Woodrow
10-31-2007, 12:22 AM
A atheist is an atheist. A theist is a theist. Never the twain shall meet. No need in all of us getting our blood pressure up over what we will not agree on.


:threadclo:
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