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Nuclear Submarines and Living Cells

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Mark Corbett, Jul 21, 2017.

  1. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Wednesday, I posted a thread in the"General Baptist Discussions" forum about how seeing evidence of God in creation helps us to believe in Him and gives us courage to keep serving Him, even in the face of opposition and difficulties. In that post I focused on the “everyday experience” of God’s beauty and power seen in His creation. There is also a scientific side to seeing God in creation, and that is the focus of this post, which due to it's more "scientific" nature, I thought would fit best in this forum on Creations vs. Evolution.

    I’ve had an unusual life. Before I was called to be a pastor, and before I was called to share Christ’s love and truth overseas, I served in the US Navy for 5 years. As an undergraduate, I had majored in Mechanical Engineering. I was accepted into the Navy’s Nuclear Power program, where I received a year of intense training. Then I was assigned work as a nuclear engineer on submarines for four years.

    A nuclear submarine is one of the most complex and advanced machines which man has ever made. From salt water we could make fresh water, and from fresh water we could make O2 to breathe so that we could stay underwater for months at a time if needed. And that’s just a tiny taste of the complexity. Because I was on a submarine while it was being built and then while it was being tested, I got to see this marvel of technology in great detail.

    [​IMG]
    I served on a nuclear submarine like this one.

    As amazingly complex as a nuclear submarine is, it pales in comparison to the wonder and complexity of even the “simplest” living cells created by God.

    Steel Hulls and Living Cell Membranes

    It is obvious that a submarine has to have a strong hull. What is less obvious, is that the hull has to have many penetrations. As a new submarine officer, I remember having to memorize the location and function of every “hole” in the hull. There were several for letting sea water in and out for cooling in the power plant. Of course, there were the hatches that we could climb in and out of. Then there were also the torpedo tubes. Less glamorous, but just as important, were holes through which we could get rid of trash and waste. The point is, the hull had to allow us to get everything into the submarine we needed inside and allow us to get everything out that needed to go out, all while keeping us safe from the ocean, which would kill us if it got in!

    Every living cell faces a similar situation. It needs a cell wall to separate the contents and chemicals inside from the environment outside. But it has to be able to take in food, water, and other chemicals it needs while expelling waste products of various kinds. To achieve this the cell membrane (it’s “hull”) has a very complex set of the equivalent of tiny hatches and pumps, which let in just the right stuff, get rid of other stuff, and keep the cell interior safe.

    Nuclear Reactors and Mitochondria

    A submarine needs energy. Nuclear submarines use nuclear reactors to produce energy. It is important that energy production is carefully regulated. If the reaction in the core went too quickly, that would be very bad for the submarine. A similar situation exists with the car you drive. If all the gas burned at once, you would be in big trouble.

    A cell also needs highly regulated energy production. Energy in the right amount in the right place gives life. Too much energy too fast would damage or destroy a cell. Submarines have nuclear reactors, living cells have mitochondria. These miniature power plants are very complex and produce all the energy a cell needs in a way that is safe for the cell and amazingly efficient (much more efficient than your car engine or the nuclear power plant I operated!).

    Now, if you imagine that mitochondria might be less complex than nuclear reactors, try watching this short, awesome animation which gives just a glimpse of these amazing molecular energy factories:



    Computers and DNA

    Like many modern man-made machines, submarines have computers which help process complex information. For example, they use underwater sound waves to find enemy ships and target them. But a long time before the first computer was invented, God placed incredibly complex information processing systems inside every cell.

    Since the discovery of DNA, it has become increasingly clear that a fundamental characteristic of all life is that it stores, processes, and transmits vast amounts of information. The methods a cell uses to process information are very similar to computers. There are coded instructions in DNA just like there are coded instructions on the hard drive of your computer. The cell has complex molecular machines which read the coded instructions and use them to produce proteins and control the cell. You can get a taste of what’s involved by watching this short animation:



    The coded information in the cell would be useless without the complex molecular machinery which executes the instructions. But the machinery itself is built by the very same coded instructions! This goes far beyond anything man had been able to create up to now. Which brings us to our next point . . .

    Submarines Get Left in the Dust

    Up to now, I have compared the complexity of living cells to the complexity of a nuclear submarine. But the analogy eventually breaks down because cells are far more complex than submarines.

    There is something which all living cells are designed to do which no machine made by man has been able to do. Using raw materials found in nature, the cell can reproduce itself. It can also grow. God gave the ability to “be fruitful and increase in number” (Genesis 1:22) to living things. No submarine, computer, or other human made machine can do that.

    A nuclear submarine does not come into existence by random forces. Teams of intelligent engineers and scientists work for years to design a submarine. Living cells are far more complex than submarines. To imagine a cell coming into existence by mere physical forces and chance, would be like imaging a hurricane blowing over a junkyard and by chance assembling a fully functional nuclear submarine. The only plausible explanation for the immense complexity and magnificent design found in even the simplest living organisms is that they were created by a very wise and intelligent Creator. To Him be the glory.

    Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

    This post is slightly modified from a post on my blog.

    What do you think?
     
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  2. just-want-peace

    just-want-peace Well-Known Member
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    "The fool hath said -------"
    Stuff like this just reinforces the wisdom of that quote.
    What an awesome GOD we serve!!!!!
     
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  3. Aaron

    Aaron Member
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  4. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the complexity of God's creation. I've always found the concept of irreducible complexity an interesting one to consider and whether there is any merit to the argument that complexity is somehow proof of a creator. I agree with the premise that complexity is evidence of a creator, but I would say calling it proof is beyond what the science can tell us.

    I believe that God created all things, even those that appear random, not because of proof but because of faith in His holy inspired word found in the scriptures. Those scriptures describe faith as assurance in things unseen.

    Folks who subscribe to ID and irreducible complexity often equate things that appear random to an absence of a creator and try hard to show that things could not have developed randomly. And yet we see randomness in so many aspects of creation and even in scripture. When Jonah's shipmates cast lots, something that appears random to any outside observer, the lot fell to Jonah. Was God behind that random process? God is sovereign over all things, including those things that are random.

    In terms of reproductive machines, we are far from truly autonomous self replicating and evolving machines. But, all the basic building blocks of that happening are currently available with 3D printing and developments in artificial intelligence. It is no longer the realm of science fiction but just a matter of time.
     
  5. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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  6. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Gold Dragon, I hesitate to use the term "proof" because people tend to think of a proof as something very absolute, like the "proofs" we learn in geometry. However, I do believe that when correctly understood, the complexity of living things gives exceedingly strong evidence that an Intelligent Designer had to have been involved. While my OP in this thread gives some evidence for this in a broad way, I've just started a new thread where I give what I consider to be more detailed evidenced. You may see that thread here:

    How the Smallest Cells Give Big Evidence for a Creator
     
  7. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    I agree that things that appear to be random (casting lots) are not necessarily random. I don't think that ID proponents argue that. However, things which have a very strong appearance of not being random (like the letters making up this paragraph) do give evidence of intelligence design.

    So, like you, by faith and based on the Scriptures I believe that God is involved in even apparently random occurrences. However, random occurrences are not obviously designed. Complex creations are obviously designed, when they have a certain level and type of complexity.
     
  8. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    If that is the case, why couldn't God have been behind things like evolution and abiogenesis? The argument of ID folks is that they are too complex to have occurred randomly. Why couldn't God have used apparently random processes to create complexity?
     
  9. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you and ID folks that complexity i nature is an amazing testament to the Creator. I just disagree that complexity is somehow an argument against randomness and scientific models like evolution.

    I think it comes from the incorrect assumption of both believers and non-believers that random causation or apparently random causation discredits the existence of a Creator.
     
    #9 Gold Dragon, Jul 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  10. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy Well-Known Member
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  11. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    I certainly believe God COULD have used an apparently random process to create complexity. However, I don't believe that it what God actually did, especially in the case of living things. In the case of living things, their complexity is evidence of an Intelligent Designer.
     
  12. AwesomeMachine

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    The idea of random is a bastion of limited intellect. It places mankind at the center--a reference for truth--and then unknowable truth is relegated to the random. However, given a sufficient level of understanding, nothing is random. All outcomes can be predicted with absolute certainty. It just looks random to those who lack sufficient understanding.

    Before mankind discovered--you name it--it was already known. To say God used seemingly random processes to bring about His plan is really just justification of the limitations place on the human mind. Nothing is random! Everything will occur the way God has planned.

    There is a rational explanation for all miracles. The level of scientific advancement at any point in human history is an arbitrary measure in terms of truth. Let me ask you, "What stands between man's will and control of nature?" Another bastion of limited intellect is the impossible!

    Man cannot control nature, because he lacks understanding of how to control nature. So, rather than take his rightful place as an ignorant creature before God, the man says to himself, "It's impossible." But it's not really impossible, because God can do it.

    Statistics, the father of randomness, breaks down: "What if there is less than a 100% probability that an occurrence might happen? And, people were fascinated when a roulette wheel in Monte Carlo landed on the same number 7 times in a row. What are the chances of that?

    After it happens the chances are 100% that it occurred. Before it happens, the odds are equal that any combination of 7 spins will occur. After 7 spins of the wheel landing on the same number, what is the probability that the 8th spin will land on the same number. It's the product of the odds of the occurrences occurring separately; 1:1X1:36=1:36, the same as if the first 7 spins never occurred.

    I leave with this roulette related fact: the sum of the numbers on a roulette wheel equals 666. The sum of the squares of the first seven prime numbers also equals 666; 2^2 + 3^2 + 5^2 + 7^2 + 11^2 + 13^2 + 17^2 = 666. I hope that doesn't frighten anyone, because 666 is a literary device meaning, "Imperfection in triple superlative form." The actual number by itself has no intrinsic evil associated to it.
     
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  13. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody Well-Known Member

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    Just thought I'd throw this in there. For a roulette wheel to land on the same number seven times in a row is slightly smaller than 1:3x10^9. Or roughly one in three million. Or one in 38^6.

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  14. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Yes! And the chances of getting even one string of amino acids which would fold into a biologically useful protein is more like the chances of getting the same number on a correctly functioning roulette wheel 50 or 60 times in a row or more (this is not exaggeration). And a living cell needs many precise proteins all gathered together in the right way. And it needs a lot more than that.
     
  15. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody Well-Known Member

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    I am an avid Creationist. I believe that God created the Earth in six literal days. However, I hate the "odds" argument. I believe that if we try to argue the odds, we lose. Especially since we use different numbers than the scientific community uses.

    The currently accepted odds of producing a self replicating peptide varies, but on the high end is 1 in 10^45.

    Still astronomical, I admit. But let's say I hand you a deck of 52 cards, and tell you that if you shuffle them randomly, and come up with a certain order I will give you one billion dollars, you would be trying for days, weeks, even months to do it.

    But the odds of getting a deck of cards in an exact order is roughly 10^22 smaller than the odds that scientists calculate the odds of a self replicating peptide forming. The actual odds of you getting the right order in the deck are 1:8x10^67.

    Also, using the "odds" argument we have to concede that there's a chance. And if there's a chance, and given an infinite timeline, the likelihood of it happening asymptotes at 100%.

    So, essentially, if we allow for any possibility, however minute, we are saying, "Either that's how life developed on Earth, or it will develop somewhere that way with a certainty."

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  16. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Active Member

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    Sapper, what we agree on (that God created everything) is way more important than our disagreement.

    But I do disagree with the above statement. For a self replicating peptide to work in realistic prebiotic conditions it would need, at the very least, to be able to assemble a copy of it's same sequence from a pool of amino acids (granting such a pool ever existed). The closest anyone has come is a 32 residue peptide which can increase the likelihood of two halfs of itself joining (see this article in Nature). But you have to have the correct two halves available in the exact right time and location. This is what is needed:

    The correct 32 residue peptide. If you were lucky enough to have a pool of only the 20 amino acids used in the genetic code, the chance of this would be:
    20^32 = 4.3*10^41

    But you also need each of the halves:

    20^15 = 3.3*10^19
    20^17 = 1.3*10^22

    And you need all three to be together at the same place at the same time. The chances of that happening are astronomically infinitesimal. And even if it happened, you would then have two 32 residue peptides which would be useless without more astronomically improbably exactly needed residues being around.

    The above arguments, made quickly off the top of my head, are verified by an article at creation.com.

    Here's the relevant excerpt:

    Lee et al. made a 32-unit-long a-helical peptide based on the leucine-zipper domain of the yeast transcription factor GCN4. They found that it catalysed its own synthesis in a neutral, dilute water solution of 15 and 17-unit fragments. This was an ingenious experiment, but it does not help the evolutionary cause because:

    1. Where would the first 32-unit long chain of 100 % left-handed amino acid residues come from? Amino acids are not formed as easily as Lee et al. claim. If they form at all, they are extremely dilute and impure, as well as racemic (50–50 mix of left and right-handed forms). Such amino acids do not spontaneously polymerise in water.
    2. Where would a supply of the matching 15 and 17-unit chains come from? Not only does the objection above apply, but what mechanism is supposed to produce the right sequences? Even if we had a mixture of the right homochiral (all the same handedness) amino acids, the chance of getting one 15-unit peptide right is one in 2015 (= one in 3 x 1019). If it is not necessary to get the sequences exactly right, then it would mean that the ‘replication’ is not specific, and would thus allow many errors.
    3. The 15 and 17-unit peptides must be activated, because condensation of ordinary amino acids is not spontaneous in water. Lee et al. used a thiobenzyl ester derivative of one peptide. As they say, this also circumvents potential side reactions. The hypothetical primordial soup would not have had intelligent chemists adding the right chemicals to prevent wrong reactions!
    4. The particular 32-unit chain was an a-helix, where hydrogen bonds between different amino acid residues cause the chain to helicize. This common structure is more likely to be able to act as a template under artificial conditions. Lee et al. claim that b-sheets, which also depend on hydrogen bonding, might also be able to act as templates. This seems plausible. a-helices and b-sheets are known as the secondary structure of the protein.14
    Putting all this in layman's terms: A claim that there is a 1 in 10^45 chance of a truly self replicating peptide forming is not true because there is no evidence of any such peptide EVER having formed anywhere in the history of the world.
     
  17. Gold Dragon

    Gold Dragon Well-Known Member

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    Abiogenesis is definitely a conundrum for atheistic materialists. And despite what television shows on the topic like to portray, there are currently no viable models in the scientific community that can account for all the complexities of a single living cell from molecules. Maybe there will be a model or discovery to explain it in the future or maybe there never will be. But at the moment it is still largely a black box. Even if a robust model were to be formulated tomorrow, it cannot say one way or another whether God was behind that process. For that, we will always depend on faith.

    The validity of evolution does not depend on abiogenesis. Evolution only accounts for how species and diversity of life came about once life existed. And here we have a robust scientific model with plenty of supportive genetic, fossil and ongoing living evidence of its processes at work. Our God is an amazing God for giving life the ability to adapt to changing environments and create new species, even in the harshest of environments.
     
    #17 Gold Dragon, Aug 19, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2017
  18. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody Well-Known Member

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    I am not a chemist or a biologist. I'm actually a physicist/mathematician. So I can't really speak as to the requirements of what would have to happen. It seems like you've got a pretty good handle on it, though.

    What I had to do is to look it up. And I found several secular scientist who claimed that Creationist made it unnecessarily complicated, and the chances were much greater than we claimed.

    But, in the end, it doesn't matter how small the chances are. I still hold to if we about there is even a chance, we've lost.

    As a side note, I hate the term "mathematically impossible" attached to really low odds, like some preacher's do with this issue. I had it drilled into my head by many math profs that "if it's not zero, it's not zero".

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  19. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    1:3x10^9 is 1 in 3 billion, not 1 in 3 million.



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  20. Sapper Woody

    Sapper Woody Well-Known Member

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    You are absolutely right. It was late when I wrote that!

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