Evolution - A Conversation with Alex Williams

by cofty 62 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • cofty

    Alex - Thank you for your offer to have a conversation about evolution.

    I accept the scientific evidence that all life - including humans - evolved from a common ancestor through unguided evolution over millions of years. This isn't even a controversial position in the scientific community.

    The evidence rests on the data from many interconnected fields including paleontology, comparative anatomy, geology and especially genetics. It is no exaggeration to say that the evidence for your own non-human ancestry is contained in every cell in your body.

    It is my experience that JWs are generally quite ignorant (not in a pejorative sense) of the scientific case. I would be keen to listen respectfully to your reasons for rejecting the evidence.

    Shall we begin by looking at the evidence from DNA or is there a different aspect that you would prefer to discuss? My only proviso is that we try to avoid copy-paste and that we separate abiogenesis as a separate topic. I'm in the UK so there will likely be frequent delays in replying to your posts.

  • Alex Williams
    Alex Williams

    Which should I believe whats taught here in school or the Bible?

    Consider the RNA molecule,Robert Shapiro, professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University says no nucleotides of any kind have been reported as products of spark-discharge experiments or in studies of meteorites.”3 He further states that the probability of a self-replicating RNA molecule randomly assembling from a pool of chemical building blocks “is so vanishingly small that its happening even once anywhere in the visible universe would count as a piece of exceptional good luck.

    What about protein molecules? They can be made from as few as 50 or as many as several thousand amino acids bound together in a highly specific order. The average functional protein in a “simple” cell contains 200 amino acids. Even in those cells, there are thousands of different types of proteins. The probability that just one protein containing only 100 amino acids could ever randomly form on earth has been calculated to be about one chance in a million billion.

    A billion seconds is 31 years.A million hours ago was in 1885. so one chance in a million billion is not to be believed

  • cofty

    Hi Alex - Thank you for your reply but you are off-topic right from the start.

    The origins of amino acids and protein molecules is NOT part of the field of evolution. It is abiogenesis and as you will see in my OP I asked that we stick to the topic of evolution in this thread. JWS always confuse the two which is why I stipulated that.

    Evolution is about how the many millions of species that have ever lived all originated from a common ancestor.

    I am happy to start yet another thread about abiogenesis and share a lot of the latest evidence with you on that but I think it would be better to focus on one thing at a time.

    Over to you to start again.

  • cofty
    What about protein molecules? They can be made from as few as 50 or as many as several thousand amino acids bound together in a highly specific order.

    Just for the record (not to go too far off-topic) but this is incorrect. Your source ignores the fact of redundancy.

    Take just one example, a protein molecule that is involved in respiration called Cytochrome C. There are a billion times more possible arrangements of amino acids that will result in a completely functioning protein than there are atoms in the universe.

    When scientists examine the actual amino acid sequences of Cytochrome C in living things they find that the degree of differences across species precisely mirrors the relationship predicted by evolution. When they examine the underlying nucleotide sequences the pattern of common ancestry becomes even more apparent.

  • Alex Williams
    Alex Williams

    Well my point from the beginning was probability,in order to have evolve takes in the process of abiogenesis ,youre not the only one reading this.we can get into species aspect but I want to show how unlikely evolution was or is .I continue,it is assumed that amino acids somehow reached the oceans and were protected from the destructive ultraviolet radiation in the atmosphere, what then? Hitching explained: “Beneath the surface of the water there would not be enough energy to activate further chemical reactions; water in any case inhibits the growth of more complex molecules.We are talking about the origin of life so this is relevant

    Once amino acids are in the water, they must get out of it if they are to form larger molecules and evolve toward becoming proteins useful for the formation of life. But once they get out of the water, they are in the destructive ultraviolet light again! “In other words,” Hitching says, “the theoretical chances of getting through even this first and relatively easy stage [getting amino acids] in the evolution of life are forbidding.

    Here is a problem you need to answer for evolution :

    There are over 100 amino acids, but only 20 are needed for life’s proteins

    They come in two shapes: Some of the molecules are “right-handed” and others are “left-handed.” Should they be formed at random, as in a theoretical organic soup, it is most likely that half would be right-handed and half left-handed.

    There is no known reason why either shape should be preferred in living things. Yet, of the 20 amino acids used in producing life’s proteins, all are left-handed.
    How can this be if all this soup evolved with out a designer behind it.

    How is it that, at random, only the specifically required kinds would be united in the soup?

    John Desmond Bernal FRS was an Irish scientist who pioneered the use of X-ray crystallography in molecular biology. physicist known for his studies of the atomic structure of solid compounds, during which he made major contributions.

    “It must be admitted that the explanation . . . still remains one of the most difficult parts of the structural aspects of life to explain.” He concluded: “We may never be able to explain it.”

    But to me to believe something it has to be explained such as evolution process for life to begin

    What chance is there that the correct amino acids would come together to form a protein molecule? It could be likened to having a big, thoroughly mixed pile containing equal numbers of red beans and white beans. There are also over 100 different varieties of beans. Now, if you plunged a scoop into this pile, what do you think you would get? To get the beans that represent the basic components of a protein, you would have to scoop up only red ones—no white ones at all! Also, your scoop must contain only 20 varieties of the red beans, and each one must be in a specific, preassigned place in the scoop. In the world of protein, a single mistake in any one of these requirements would cause the protein that is produced to fail to function properly. Would any amount of stirring and scooping in our hypothetical bean pile have given the right combination? NO

    Then how would it have been possible in the hypothetical organic soup?
    The proteins needed for life have very complex molecules. What is the chance of even a simple protein molecule forming at random in an organic soup?

    Evolutionists acknowledge it to be only one in 10113 (1 followed by 113 zeros). But any event that has one chance in just 1050 is dismissed by mathematicians as never happening. An idea of the odds, or probability, involved is seen in the fact that the number 10113 is larger than the estimated total number of all the atoms in the universe!

    More difficult to obtain than these are nucleotides, the structural units of DNA, which bears the genetic code. Five histones are involved in DNA (histones are thought to be involved in governing the activity of genes). The chance of forming even the simplest of these histones is said to be one in 20100—another huge number “larger than the total of all the atoms in all the stars and galaxies visible in the largest astronomical telescopes.”

    Evolutionary theory attempts to eliminate the need for the impossible to be accomplished “in one blow” by espousing a step-by-step process by which natural selection could do its work gradually. However, without the genetic code to begin reproduction, there can be no material for natural selection to select.
    physicist H. S. Lipson, realizing the odds against a spontaneous origin for life, said: “The only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it.” He further observed that after Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, “evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to ‘bend’ their observations to fit in with it.”

    When confronted with the astronomical odds against a living cell forming by chance, some evolutionists feel forced to back away. For example, the authors of Evolution From Space (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe) give up, saying: “These issues are too complex to set numbers to.” They add: “There is no way . . . in which we can simply get by with a bigger and better organic soup, as we ourselves hoped might be possible a year or two ago. The numbers we calculated above are essentially just as unfaceable for a universal soup as for a terrestrial one.

  • cofty

    Alex - The answer to your previous post is that the idea of life arising in an 'organic soup' is many decades out of date.

    The big problem with that approach is where the energy comes from to sustain biological processes. The most promising progress in origin of life research is being made in the field of bioenergetics by scientists like Nick Lane and his colleagues at UCL. For more information see The Vital Question by Nick Lane

    Geochemistry likely became biochemistry in deep-sea alkaline vents. The specific details of how that occurred gets over the many seemingly impossible challenges of the outdated 'organic soup' model.

    The question of the chiral nature of life was solved many years ago by a Japanese scientist by the name of Soai. The solution rests in the autocatalytic reactions that leads to rapidly increasing amounts of the same enantiomer of the product. I could explain that in more detail but I'm not sure you are all that interested in the science.

    The subject of abiogenesis is still an open question. The history of life's millions of species is not. Evolution is a fact.

    Did you notice my comments in my previous post about cytochrome C and how it supports common ancestry? You seem to have ignored it. Shall we go into that in a bit more detail?

    When we agreed to a conversation about evolution I made two reasonable requests. Firstly that we stick to evolution and not conflate that with abiogenesis, and secondly that we avoid copy-paste.

    Not going so well on either of those so far.

  • cofty

    Contrast and compare -

    What about protein molecules? They can be made from as few as 50 or as many as several thousand amino acids bound together in a highly specific order. - Alex
    This is incorrect. Your source ignores the fact of redundancy... There are a billion times more possible arrangements of amino acids that will result in a completely functioning (cytochrome C) protein than there are atoms in the universe. - Cofty

    If we are going to have a conversation we need to not talk past each other.

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    The WTS does not want to distinguish between the "origin" of life and the "evolution" of living entities:

    "Some evolutionary scientists would like to make a distinction between the theory of evolution and the question of the origin of life. But does that sound reasonable to you?" ("The Origin of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking", Page 12)

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    Your reference to Shapiro is lifted from page 5 of "The Origin of Life: Five Questions Worth Asking:, Endnotes 3, 4, and 5 -- Scientific American, June 2007. ("A Simpler Origin for Life")

    Shapiro's article is available at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-simpler-origin-for-life/

    The article’s heading explains the brochure’s selective quotes:

    “The sudden appearance of a large-self-copying molecule such as RNA was exceedingly improbable. Energy-driven networks of small molecules afford better odds as the initiators of life.” (underlining mine)

    Excerpts from that article:

    DNA, RNA, proteins and other elaborate large molecules must then be set aside as participants in the origin of life. … Fortunately, an alternative group of theories that can employ these materials has existed for decades. The theories employ a thermodynamic rather than a genetic definition of life …

    One assumption of the small-molecule approach is that coupled reactions and primitive catalysts sufficient to get life started exist in nature. ... The small molecule approach to the origin of life makes several demands upon nature (a compartment, an external energy supply, a driver reaction coupled to that supply, and the existence of a chemical network that contains that reaction). These requirements are general in nature, however, and are immensely more probable than the elaborate multi-step pathways needed to form a molecule that can function as a replicator. …

    If the general small-molecule paradigm were confirmed, then our expectations of the place of life in the universe would change. … The small-molecule alternative is in harmony with the views of biologist Stuart Kauffman: “If this is all true, life is vastly more probable than we have supposed. Not only are we at home in the universe, but we are far more likely to share it with unknown companions.”

  • cofty

    Thank you for the context of Shapiro's quote Doug, that is a fascinating article.

    Nick Lane describes a 'metabolism first' scenario in The Vital Question.

    If you have any other examples of misleading references in Origins of Life I would love to see them too.

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