Re: Second law of Thermodynamics

Glenn Morton (
Sat, 22 Nov 1997 21:14:15 -0600

At 12:00 PM 11/22/97 -0800, Arthur V. Chadwick wrote:

>Joyce's work could have been replicated by a single contaminating
>bacterium. If it takes his supermolecule 5 minutes to cleave DNA, and they
>are in fact random cleavages, how is that going to contribute anything to
>the origin of life.

I would respond with 2 things: First, the bacteria has had 3.5 billion years
of selection to look for a better solution than Joyce was able to find in 2
years. Second, this is a property that ribozymes don't have in nature as I
understand the situation. Joyce wanted to evolve an ability that didn't
exist in nature.
So I am not surprised that better solutions can be found. The point is that
functionality is spread far more widely throughout sequence space than
Christians teach.

I would look maybe for a molecule that had the ability
>to put DNA together, not cut it apart, and put it together in such a way
>that the sequence had meaning in terms of protein. Then you have a
>significant molecule. Lots and lots of non biological chemical reagents
>have the ability to cleave DNA a lot faster than Joyce's molecule, and a
>lot more specifically as well. In fact the whole Maxim-Gilbert method of
>sequencing DNA by chopping it at specific base pairs is based on this
>effect. Joyce is still in the dark ages. But lest you be tempted to
>suggest that the chemical process is more evidence of ease of developing
>molecules with specificity, I would (needlessly) remind you that they are
>just helping things go downhill faster. What we need is a way to get
>things to go the other way by a mechanism that will at the same time impart
>specific information content to the molecules. Now that we don't have. Yet.

But Art, you miss the whole point of the example. I am not trying to prove
that life originated from molecules (although this has implications in that
regard). I do not have the ability to put together a origin of life
scenario. I am trying to show that the classic probability argument that
Christians put forth is very flawed. The standard arguments makes two
erroneous assumptions:

First they assume that a molecule either works or doesn't work, on or off, 0
or 1. But functionality is not the simple. Some work, albeit slowly, other
work rapidly.

Secondly they asume generally that only one sequence will work. Both of
these assumptions are wrong.


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