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The Big Bad Wolf, Theism and the Foundations of Intelligent Design - Page 11

Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross report that: "Theoretical and experimental studies designed to discover the bare minimum number of gene products necessary for life all show significant agreement. Life seems to require between 250 and 350 different proteins to carry out its most basic operations." 129 The simplest existing self-reproducing organism known outside the laboratory is the bacterium Mycoplasma Genitalium, which has 482 genes (two thirds of which have been shown to be necessary to its survival in the laboratory). Outside of the laboratory Mycoplasma Genitalium is "unable to sustain itself without parasitizing on an even more complex organism... Therefore a hypothetical first cell that could sustain itself would have to be even more complex." 130 Rana and Ross argue:

the minimum complexity for independent life must reside somewhere between about 500 and 1,500 gene products. So far, as scientists have continued their sequencing efforts, all microbial genomes that fall below 1,500 belong to parasites. Organisms capable of permanent independent existence require more gene products. A minimum genome size (for independent life) of 1,500 to 1,900 gene products comports with what geochemical and fossil evidence reveals about the complexity of Earth's first life. Earliest life forms displayed metabolic complexity that included photosynthetic and chemoautotrophic processes, protein synthesis, the capacity to produce amino acids, nucleotides, fatty acids and sugars [as well as] the machinery to reproduce. Some 1,500 different gene products would seem the bare minimum to sustain this level of metabolic activity... neither enough matter nor enough time in the universe exist for even the simplest bacterium to emerge by undirected chemical and physical processes. 131

Paul Davies writes that the odds against producing just the proteins necessary for a minimally complex life-form by pure chance are "something like 1040,000 to one." 132 No wonder Benjamin Wiker concludes: "there are insuperable problems in trying to explain, via some mode of design-free evolutionary theory, how the first cells could have arisen". 133 As Swift concludes:

it is no longer tenable to hide behind millions or even billions of years - trying to argue that even the improbable becomes probable given time - nor even behind the argument that life did not have to evolve on earth but could have arisen on any one of an astronomical number of possible planets. The conclusion is plain and simple: the universe is not big enough or old enough, not by a factor of trillions of trillions... for the complexities of life to have arisen by random associations of simple organic molecules or of random mutations of proteins or nucleic acids. 134

Appealing to the existence of a billion billion life friendly planets (and they have to be life friendly planets) doesn't rescue the theory of spontaneous origination when the odds against the formation of a single functional protein are 10180 to one. In point of fact, Dawkins' appeal to the existence of a billion billion life friendly planets is made in the teeth of the evidence, because as astronomer Danny R. Faulkner writes: "it is unlikely that there are many, if any, other earth-like planets in the universe" 135 able to sustain life. Benjamin Wiker reviews some of the finely tuned conditions that permit life on earth:

Our sun is not a typical star but is one of the 9 percent most massive stars in our galaxy, and is also very stable. Further, the sun hits the Goldilocks mean for life - neither too hot (like a blue or white star) nor too cold (like a red star) - and its peak emission is right at the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum - the very, very thin band where not only vision is possible but also photosynthesis. Earth just "happens" to have the right combination of atmospheric gases to block out almost all the harmful radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum but, strangely enough, opens like a window for visible light. Jupiter is deftly placed and sized so that it not only helps to balance the Earth's orbit but also acts as a kind of debris magnet keeping Earth from being pummeled. Our moon is just the right size and distance to stabilize earth's axial tilt so that we have seasonal variations but not wildly swinging temperature changes. 136

Hugh Ross reviews 200 parameters required for a life-bearing planet. Comparing the chances of a planet falling within these parameters by chance alone with our best estimate of the total number of planets in the universe (1022) he estimates that there is "less than 1 chance in 10215" of a habitable planet existing in the universe. 137 Elsewhere, Ross argues:

fewer than a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all stars will have a planet capable of sustaining advanced life. Considering that the observable universe contains less than a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars, we can see that not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life. 138

Offering an updated Drake equation for calculating the number of intelligent civilizations in our Galaxy, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and philosopher Jay W. Richards conclude: "the probability that the Milky Way Galaxy contains even one advanced civilization is likely to be much less than one. This is an interesting result, of course, since we exist." 139 Naturalistic astrobiologists Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee concede that: "If some god-like being could be given the opportunity to plan a sequence of events with the express goal of duplicating our "Garden of Eden", that power would face a formidable task. With the best intentions, but limited by natural laws and materials, it is unlikely that Earth could ever be truly replicated." 140 The fine-tuning of the non-cosmic preconditions of life both negate Dawkins' hand-waving evocation of increased planetary probabilistic resources in the (forlorn) hope of avoiding the conclusion that life exhibits specified complexity, and to constitute an example of specified complexity in its own right.


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