Saturday, April 3, 2010

Is Avatar Scientific?

by Babu G. Ranganathan

We hear it all the time. "Mother Nature" designed this or "Mother Nature" designed that. Wow! (A moment of silence, please...). The latest and popular film, Avatar, is a worship of Nature.

But, just because something exists in nature doesn't mean it originated from nature. If all the chemicals that make-up an earthworm were scattered and left to themselves, "Mother Nature" would have no ability to re-organize them into a worm again. It takes an already existing worm to bring about another worm.

Although it has been shown that some amino acids, the basic building blocks of life, can come into existence by chance, it has never been shown that the various amino acids can come together into a sequence by chance to form protein molecules. The only reason why amino acids come together into a sequence in the cells of our bodies is because they're directed to do so by an already existing genetic code or program (DNA) which also is made up of molecules arranged in a precise sequence.

If there weren't any already existing DNA and protein molecules, poor "Mother Nature" would be helpless to make any DNA and proteins.

In the midst of arguments over evolution and intelligent design, it is amazing how many in society, including the very educated, believe that scientists had already created life in the laboratory. No such thing has ever happened.

All that scientists have done is genetically engineer already existing forms of life in the laboratory, and by doing this scientists have been able to produce new forms of life, but they did not produce these new life forms from non-living matter. Even if scientists ever do produce life from non-living matter it will only be through intelligent design or planning so it still wouldn't help support any theory of life originating by chance or evolution.

Recent news reports suggest that scientists may be close to creating artificial (synthetic) life. None of this is happening by chance but by intelligent design and planning. Why, then, will many not give credit to God for the original DNA and life?

In the case involving synthetic (artificial) life, scientists don't actually create or produce life itself from non-living matter. What scientists do in this case is create (by intelligent design) artificial DNA (genetic instructions and code) which is then implanted into an already existing living cell and, thereby, changing that cell into a new form of life.

If the cell had evolved it would have had to be all at once. A partially evolved cell cannot wait millions of years to become complete because it would be highly unstable and quickly disintegrate in the open environment, especially without the protection of a complete and fully functioning cell membrane.

As mentioned earlier, it has been shown that some of the basic building blocks of life, amino acids, can come into existence by chance, but it has never been shown that the various amino acids can come together into a sequence by chance to form protein molecules. Even the simplest cell is composed of millions of protein molecules. An average protein molecule may have five hundred amino acids arranged sequentially. Larger protein molecules may have thousands. The simplest cell has millions of complex protein molecules!

Without DNA there cannot be RNA, and without RNA there cannot be DNA. And without either DNA or RNA there cannot be proteins, and without proteins there cannot be DNA or RNA. They're all mutually dependent upon each other for existence! The cell is irreducibly complex. It could not have gradually evolved! Evolutionists generally believe that it took one billion years for the first life form or cell to have evolved. That belief, although still taught as gospel in many elementary and secondary schools, cannot be sustained by modern science.

Once there is a complete, living, and fully functioning cell then, of course, the genetic program and the complex biological mechanisms exist to direct the formation of more cells. In a complete and living cell, the cell membrane allows for certain raw materials and molecules from the environment to enter into the cell. Once inside the cell, the genetic code and other complex biological mechanisms direct these raw materials or molecules to form into more cells with their own genetic code and complex mechanisms. The question is how could life have come about naturally on Earth when there was no already existing code or directing mechanism in Nature.

If humans must use intelligence to perform genetic engineering, to meaningfully manipulate the genetic code, then what does that say about the origin of the genetic code itself!

The great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle has said that the probability of the sequence of molecules in the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is equivalent to a tornado going through a junk yard of airplane parts and assembling a 747 Jumbo Jet!

We tend to judge something as being simple or complex by its size. So many of us assume that because the cell is microscopic in size that it must be simple. Not so! Size is relative, but not complexity. If you were as big as the Empire State building you would probably think that the tiny cars and automobiles on the street were simple and could easily happen by a chance combination of parts. However, we know that is not so.

Natural laws are adequate to explain how the order in life, the universe, and even a microwave oven operates, but mere undirected natural laws cannot fully explain the origin of such order.

Science cannot prove how life originated since no human observed the origin of life by either chance or design. Observation and detection by the human senses, either directly or indirectly through scientific instruments, is the basis of science and for establishing proof. The issue is which position has better scientific support. Both sides should have the opportunity to present their case.

If some astronauts from Earth discovered figures of persons similar to Mt. Rushmore on an uninhabited planet there would be no way to scientifically prove the carved figures originated by design or by chance processes of erosion. Neither position is science, but scientific arguments may be made to support one or the other.

Many think that natural selection in nature is proof that we had evolved. Natural selection does occur in nature. However, natural selection itself does not produce biological variations. Natural selection can only work with biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. It is a passive process in nature. Natural selection is simply another way of saying that if a biological variation occurs which is helpful to an animal or plant's survival then that that variation will be preserved and be passed on. Of course, nature does not do any active or conscious selecting. The term "natural selection" is simply a figure of speech.

Also, natural selection only applies once there is life and not before. In other words, natural selection is not involved in any pre-biotic, non-living interactions of chemicals.

Evolutionists believe that random or chance mutations in the genetic code (caused by random environmental forces such as radiation) will produce the favorable evolutionary changes necessary for natural selection to act upon.

However, there is no evidence that random or chance mutations in the genetic code are capable of producing greater biological complexity (vertical evolution) among natural species. Mutations are only capable of producing horizontal evolution (variations within natural species). In any case, most biological variations among natural species are due to new combinations of already existing genes and not mutations.

What about “Junk DNA”? The latest science shows that "Junk DNA” isn't junk after all! It's we who were ignorant of how useful these segments of DNA really are. Recent scientific research published in scientific journals such as Nature has revealed that the "non-coding" segments of DNA are more than just useful; they are vital in regulating gene expression (i.e. how, when, and where) genes are expressed.

Recent research also shows that repetitive structures in DNA are vital in forming the chromosome matrix, which, in turn, enables chromosomes to be functional and operative.

Genetic information, like other forms of information, cannot arise by chance, so it is far more logical to believe that the DNA and biological similarities between species are due to a common Designer rather than common ancestry through evolution by way of random mutations. The Creator simply designed similar functions for similar purposes in all the various forms of life.

DNA similarities within a true species can be used to establish relationship because within a true species the various individuals can interbreed, but this not the case across true species. Therefore, similarities across true species cannot be used for establishing biological relationships. 

What if we should find evidence of life on Mars? Wouldn't that prove evolution? No. It wouldn't be proof that such life had evolved from non-living matter by chance natural processes. And even if we did find evidence of life on Mars it would have most likely have come from our very own planet - Earth! In the Earth's past there was powerful volcanic activity, which could have easily spewed dirt-containing microbes into outer space, which eventually could have reached Mars. A Newsweek article of September 21, 1998, p.12 mentions exactly this possibility.

Just because the right conditions exist to sustain life doesn't mean that those conditions can bring life into being by chance.

We know from the law of entropy in science that the universe does not have the ability to have sustained itself from all eternity. It requires a beginning. But, we also know from science that natural laws could not have brought the universe into being from nothing. The beginning of the universe, therefore, points to a supernatural origin!

All of this simply means that real science supports faith in God. Again, science cannot prove that we are here by chance (evolution) or by design (creation). However, the scientific evidence can be used to support one or the other. It is only fair that evidence supporting intelligent design be presented to students alongside of evolutionary theory, especially in public schools, which receive funding from taxpayers, who are on both sides of the issue. Also, no one is being forced to believe in God or adopt a particular religion so there is no true violation of separation of church and state.

What we believe about our origins will influence our philosophy and value of life. This is no small matter!

As a religion and science writer, I encourage all to read my Internet article "The Natural Limits of Evolution" at my website for more in-depth study of the issue.

The Institute for Creation research ( has many good articles, books, and resources from Ph.D or Master's degreed scientists who believe in creation and who believe that true scientific supports creation.