Abiogenesis is for people who don’t do the maths

Abiogenesis is the proposed evolution of non-living chemicals into a living cell, but the problems of scale with this theory are absolutely staggering:

  • The simplest bacterium cell needs maybe 382 different genes (which code for proteins produced via various enzymes which are also proteins) to become self-replicating… but even 1 is too many…
  • Proteins are composed of left-handed amino acids (right-handed amino acids won’t do), of which there are 20. The average protein’s amino acid length is around 300.
  • One essential enzyme is RNA polymerase, which transcribes DNA for making proteins. One component of it (subunit alpha) is 329 amino acids in length and comprises only 10% of its total machinery.
  • The odds of coming up with this part of RNA polymerase protein by chance combination assuming ideal circumstances is 1 in 10428 (20329 ~= 10428)
  • The number of combinations you need produce to test even 1 billionth of 1% of the total (0.00000000001) is 10417
  • The number of atoms in the universe is estimated at 1080 (this is a lower bound, if there a billion times more atoms then it would be 1089)
  • If all of the atoms in the universe were instantly rearranged to produce random distinct combinations of 329 amino acids we wouldn’t even being to get started getting anywhere, not even the tiniest faction of anywhere of standing a ghost of a chance of getting one copy of this protein somewhere in the universe
  • Lets be generous:
    • If each atom in the universe (1080) were a full protein synthesis lab with unlimited resources of left-handed amino acids
    • and could generate a 329 amino length protein at the rate of 10000000000000 per second (about the rate of atomic vibrations 1013)
    • for the supposed age of the universe of around 14 billion years (1018 seconds)
    • this would only allow for 10111 (1080 x 1013 x 1018) proteins to have been generated — which is still not even the tiniest fraction of a beginning on this problem of producing just one of this protein!
    • In fact if you recast this as a treasure-hunt for a secret message (RNA polymerase say) written in very very small letters on a subatomic particle somewhere inside an atom in the universe — you would need to check 10(428-80) options (10348) just to finish checking everywhere in the first atom! Then you still need to check the rest of the atoms in the universe… so we haven’t left the bounds of the first atom in our search! (you could carry on talking about a “universe” (1080) inside each atom, inside each atom, inside each atom, etc for quite a drill down sequence here!)
  • heat death of the universe is a far more likely end to this story than actually finding this protein by chance under even preposterously ideal circumstances
  • and that’s just one of several hundred required to get a self-replicating bacterial cell
  • and you need these several hundred available at exactly the same time and combined perfectly to get that cell
    • “Life was seeded from outer space” (panspermia) some scientists have proposed trying to improve the odds here (and I found quite compelling as a teenager who loved sci-fi) — but there isn’t enough space or time in this universe to get one single essential protein — even if the universe were a billion billion times bigger and a billion billion times older! Believing that the universe has hit this kind of jackpot billions of times over in one pond somewhere in the universe is both totally ludicrous and mandatory if you want to cling to abiogenesis — the evolution of life from non-living matter…

      Or you could ditch this lunacy and join the rational crowd who believe in God — and bow down.

About Anthony Caetano

Christian husband & father. Also an IT person but that doesn't come into this site much at all. Not on facebook or twitter, probably never will be. You can email me at my firstname at this domain.
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