Friday, February 6, 2009

Origins 10, Molecules

Since, as we have seen, the smallest free-living organism is too large to have begun by chance (needing about 1 million DNA nucleotide molecules in sufficient order to function), some say that smaller entities could have built up to the whole organism. They use terms such as "selfish cooperator" and "gene pool" and "pre- or proto-biont."

These pre-bionts (meaning molecules waiting to be living things) would have to be composed of thousands of atoms in enough order to carry on specific chemical reactions under the laws of physics and chemistry. Let's look at just one very simple molecule made of 3 atoms, Water. As we see in the 1st picture, to the left, it is composed of 2 hydrogen atoms (white) and 1 oxygen atom (red) in a certain configuration.

Don't be turned away if you don't understand all the terminology of the "Information and Properties" below the picture. I would just like you to see for yourself the complexity of a simple molecule of water. Most people know that water freezes and thaws and boils at certain temperatures. These temperatures are listed below the first picture and called melting point and boiling point. There are many other physical and chemical properties of water which affect how it stays together, comes apart, or reacts with other molecules. The link takes you to Wikipedia, Water (data page) where there are 12 charts-full of information about this one little molecule. I have added two charts to the right which are both just a part of one larger chart. (You can see the chart details better by clicking on the picture for a larger version).

I do not understand all the terms myself, but I am amazed when I look at all the details of just one little molecule of three atoms. Often, the longer the molecule in a solution is, the slower the reactions to make it longer and the more likely it is to come apart (unless real physical effects like pressure might compress them into things like rocks). Many reactions need help from other atoms or molecules just to take place within a short enough time period to be useful biologically. The chemistry of water does not depend on what this molecule is supposed to become. Life's organisms are full of water molecules, but water outside of life is not called a "pre-biont." It is a water molecule.

Water is not "selfish." Nor are any other molecules.

Water may occupy the nooks and crannies of the bottom of the ocean, but the heat of the thermal vents is sure to keep it moving. In fact, it is estimated that the entire water of the ocean is filtered through the thermal vents every 10 million years, which limits the origin of life to that amount of time (in a 1996 article in Cell by Lazcano and Miller called, "The Origin and Early Evolution of Life: Prebiotic Chemistry, the Pre-RNA World and Time," ). That is because the molecules of life are pulled through and torn apart in that extreme heat.

Water molecules have followed the laws of physics and chemistry, which is the point. It is not that Intelligent Design advocates deny the laws of physics and chemistry. We are saying they are discontinuous with the existence of biological life.

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