TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Intelligent Design

Nobel laureate, organic chemist and a leader in origin of life studies, Professor deDuve writes in his excellent book, Tour of a Living Cell, "If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one..”
Humans and all mammals have some 50,000 genes. That implies, as an order of magnitude estimate, some 50,000 to 100,000 proteins active in mammalian bodies. It is estimated that there are some 30 animal phyla on Earth. If the genomes of each animal phylum produced 100,000 proteins, and no proteins were common among any of the phyla (a fact we know to be false, but an assumption that makes our calculations favor the random evolutionary assumption), there would be (30 x 100,000) 3 million proteins in all life.
Now let's consider the likelihood of these 3 million viable combinations of proteins forming by chance: Proteins are complex coils of several hundred amino acids. Take a typical protein to be a chain of 200 amino acids. The observed range is from less than 100 amino acids per protein to greater than 1000. There are 20 commonly occurring amino acids that join in varying combinations to produce the proteins of life. This means that the number of possible combinations of the amino acids in our model protein of 200 amino acids is 20 to the power of 200 (i.e. 20 multiplied by itself 200 times), or in the more usual 10-based system of numbers, approximately 10 to the power of 260 (i.e. the number one, followed by 260 zeros!). Nature has the option of choosing among the 10 to power of 260 possible proteins, the 3 million proteins of which all viable life is composed. In other words, for each one correct choice, there are 10 to power of 254 wrong choices!

Randomness cannot have been the driving force behind the success of life. Our understanding of statistics and molecular biology clearly supports the notion that there must have been a direction and a “Director” behind the success of life.

Topics: evolution

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jan 17 2012: Faith and science CAN coexist.

    Scientists are usually labeled either "creationists" or "evolutionists". Why it must be so?
    And who has the right to insult the other party just because of his beliefs?

    Science is based on mutual respect. If any so-called scientist lacks of it, it cannot be considered as a real scientist since he does not accept openly any other divergent point of view.

    Science involves questions, tough question marks, possibility to lose or to win. Faith as well.

    I think there are a lot of intelligent scientists (and normal people) out there having doubts with the evolution model but being scared to be expelled by the scientific community they have to believe in evolution. Unwillingly. At times a part of them takes courage to raise the hand and ask such uncomfortable questions.

    The video is actually stunning. The replication of the DNA is a perfect machine of cooperation, coordination and elegance, no matter what people beliefs. And this is just a tiny part of our organism.
    I have personally enormous doubts that the question "where does such beauty come from?" can be fully answered only by the evolution model without any driving intelligence behind that. Let put the question in another way: How can beauty AND functionality coexist perfectly only and exclusively within the evolution theory?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.