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Feedback archive Feedback 2009

Is RNA self-replication evidence for evolution?; and: Does CMI tell “flat out” lies?

Published: 31 October 2009(GMT+10)
3D structure of myoglobin

3D structure of myoglobin, a protein used to store oxygen in muscles. This protein was the first to have its structure solved by X-ray crystallography. From Wikipedia, after Phillips, S.E., Structure and refinement of oxymyoglobin at 1.6 Â resolution, J. Mol. Bio. 142(4):531–54, 5 October 1980.

Correspondent Davis G. wrote:

Hello,

I’m sure I am one of many writing in to get your opinion on the scientific experiment reported in the media earlier this year in which RNA seems to self-replicate as well as evolve to favor certain “species”.

Could you please give us the creationist perspective on this? Thanks much, and God bless your ministry.

Best Regards
Davis G.

CMI’s Dr Jonathan Sarfati, a Ph.D. chemist, responds:

Dear Mr G./ Dear Davis

It’s likely that the media reports you mention were referring to the paper in Science journal by Tracey Lincoln and Gerald Joyce.1 Quite often, the media hype just doesn’t match what was actually discovered. To be fair, Joyce, a well known chemical evolutionist, made it clear that he and his Ph.D. student Lincoln had not produced life, despite the headlines.2 Much earlier, Joyce admitted:

“The most reasonable assumption is that life did not start with RNA … . The transition to an RNA world, like the origins of life in general, is fraught with uncertainty and is plagued by a lack of experimental data.”3

Quite often, the media hype just doesn’t match what was actually discovered

Joyce and Lincoln started off with a fairly long RNA molecule. Given that nothing like RNA appears in Miller–Urey experiments, this already shows unjustified interference from an intelligent investigator. In fact, not even the building blocks, ribonucleotides, appear in such experiments, and they do not spontaneously form RNA. In fact, there are numerous chemical difficulties with obtaining RNA by blind undirected chemistry, the only sort allowed on the hypothetical primordial earth, as chemical evolutionist A.G. Cairns-Smith points out in his book Genetic Takeover4 (see extract at Cairns Smith: Detailed criticisms of the RNA world hypothesis). And it’s a huge step from RNA to the genetic code, its major use today.

Not even the building blocks, nucleotides, appear in such experiments, and they do not spontaneously form RNA

Furthermore, this paper didn’t demonstrate replication but ligation—joining two small RNA pieces. So this research already assumed not just one but three RNA strands. For this to be relevant to chemical evolution, the two pieces just by chance had to have pretty close to the complementary base pairs of the first piece—natural selection could not be invoked before reproduction.

Furthermore, since polymerization is unfavorable, the RNA pieces must be chemically activated in some way. Note that a catalyst merely accelerates the approach to equilibrium; it doesn’t change it (see diagram and explanation in Dino proteins and blood vessels: are they a big deal?). The paper states that one of the two joining RNA strands has a triphosphate group on the end. This is very reactive, so would be an unlikely component of a primordial soup, and would not last long even if it appeared. So a supply of matching activated RNA pieces likewise shows unacceptable investigator interference.

See also Does ribozyme research prove Darwinian evolution? for a critique of an earlier Joyce paper on alleged ribozyme evolution, as well as Self-replicating peptides? which has many similarities to the recent Joyce claim.

Regards

Jonathan Sarfati

CMI-Australia

Post-Script (added 17 November 2009): South African correspondent Louis v.R. wrote to us claiming there is an inconsistency between our comments above and our subsequent article about the rapid conversion of sand to rock. You can see his letter, and our response, in our Feedback article When is “intelligent intervention” acceptable?



Does CMI tell “flat out” lies?

Jonathan W. claims to have read every word of our website and that every word is a lie. Is CMI engaged in deception? First the letter is printed entire, then CMI’s Lita Cosner responds point-by-point, showing that his accusations are nothing more than poorly-informed mudslinging.

I’ve read every word of your website, and every word of it is a lie. I feel sorry for any poor, unsuspecting layman who comes across this snake-oil of yours. Every “flaw” you point out in evolution isn’t even based on ANY observable truth. You just write whatever you can come up with in your head that sounds smart, preying on human ignorance.
And for what? What constructive purpose could there possibly be in denying evolution? It’s an observable truth that contradicts God no moreso than the truth that you grew in a womb. Individuals from individuals, species from species. How can you so violently plug your ears and deny the mountainous, exponential, continuing proof of common descent SOLELY because someone wrote a few words in a book that might contradict it if interpreted in your ultra-literal fashion? Many human hands recorded words in the bible across many languages. Nowhere does it demand you take genesis so literally, nowhere does it explicitly state how old the planet is or that animals can never change.
I know I don’t need to convince you. You know full well that you tell flat-out lies to the public and only see what you want to see when you look at the proof of speciation all around us. You should be ashamed.

Dear Mr W./ Dear Jonathan,

While we do not believe that the Bible is a ‘science textbook’, we believe that it is essentially a historical book and that it can be trusted to be correct regarding its historical and scientific claims.

I’ve read every word of your website, and every word of it is a lie. I feel sorry for any poor, unsuspecting layman who comes across this snake-oil of yours. Every “flaw” you point out in evolution isn’t even based on ANY observable truth. You just write whatever you can come up with in your head that sounds smart, preying on human ignorance.

I am sorry that you came away with such a negative impression of our website, although reading ‘every word’ of the now more than 7,000 articles we’ve published online is quite an accomplishment. If you had given a specific instance of an error, we would have carefully checked to make sure that the article was accurate, not outdated, etc, but since you did not, it’s not even a real accusation, just mudslinging. I assure you that we never intentionally post articles with false information. As someone who writes articles for the website, Creation magazine, and the Journal of Creation, I thoroughly check sources and go out of my way to ensure that I don’t misrepresent my sources in any way. Anything less would not be printed. In fact, we are so committed to integrity in our apologetics ministry that we encourage creationists not to use faulty arguments for creation (one of the top 10 read articles on our site), and we have written articles criticizing Christian hoaxes like the archaeological ‘discoveries’ of Ron Wyatt.

And for what? What constructive purpose could there possibly be in denying evolution? It’s an observable truth that contradicts God no more so than the truth that you grew in a womb. Individuals from individuals, species from species. How can you so violently plug your ears and deny the mountainous, exponential, continuing proof of common descent SOLELY because someone wrote a few words in a book that might contradict it if interpreted in your ultra-literal fashion?

God could have used any mechanism He wanted to create the world. But we believe the Bible tells us what God actually did.

The short answer to why we oppose evolution is because it is a view of origins which completely contradicts the biblical record, which we believe to be the Word of God. While we do not believe that the Bible is a ‘science textbook’, to quote the strawman so often used against creationists, we believe that it is essentially a historical book and that it can be trusted to be correct regarding its historical and scientific claims. (Please re-read ‘But Genesis is not a science textbook’; “re-read” since by your own account you must already have read it smile)

God could have used any mechanism He wanted to create the world, so you are correct in saying that evolution doesn’t necessarily contradict God per se (this is why we believe that someone can be an evolutionist and a Christian). But we believe the Bible tells us what God actually did. Furthermore, the god of theistic evolution, who would have to declare a world full of death and disease ‘very good’, would not be consistent with the character of the God of the Bible. Again, for someone so familiar with our website, and what we argue, you show stunning ignorance of our arguments (e.g. Some questions for theistic evolutionists).

I know I don’t need to convince you. You know full well that you tell flat-out lies to the public and only see what you want to see when you look at the proof of speciation all around us. You should be ashamed.

It would be very strange if so many people in our ministry gave up better-paying jobs, where they frankly wouldn’t receive this sort of angry feedback so often, to contend for a position they believed to be a lie. Every one of us is involved in this ministry because we believe that the historical nature of Genesis 1–11 is foundational to a biblical worldview, and that this affects the interpretation of the rest of the Bible.

Incidentally, I’m surprised that you would use “speciation all around us” as an example of the truth of evolution—because having read every word of our site, you would have surely come across the substantial number of articles on speciation, showing how it is a reality, and how creationists should be excited as examples of “surprisingly fast” speciation are reported. To refresh your memory, see Speedy species surprise: The rapid appearance today, of new varieties of fish, lizards, and more defies evolutionary expectations … but fits perfectly with the Bible.

We are not ashamed of the work we do here; it has led to many people coming to faith in the true God and salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are pleased that He has used our ministry both to convert non-Christians to the faith, and to strengthen the faith of those that are already believers.

Sincerely,

Lita Cosner
Information Officer
Creation Ministries International

Recommended Resources




Related Articles

Further Reading

References

  1. Lincoln, T. and Joyce, G., Self-sustained replication of an RNA enzyme, Science 323(5918):1229–1232, 2009. Return to text.
  2. Britt, R., Life as we know it nearly created in lab, LiveScience, 11 January 2009. Return to text.
  3. Joyce, G., RNA evolution and the origins of life, Nature 338:217–224, 16 March 1989. Return to text.
  4. Cairns-Smith, A.G., Genetic Takeover: And the Mineral Origins of Life, Cambridge University Press, 1982. Return to text.

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A reader’s comment
J. V., United States, 21 September 2012

That was a great reply to an insulting message. Evolutionists are just groping in the dark for weakness in Creation science and I like to know that people are not just putting up with their insulting mail.

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