Chapter Ten: Conclusion
To understand the meaning of life, you have to have some ideas about the origin of life. If we know how the strange and wonderful process we call ‘life’ came to take place here on Earth, we have a starting place. If it came to exist on Earth as a result of random chance, then there may be no meaning at all to life. If life exists on this planet for some reason—any reason at all—understanding that reason can help us understand the meaning behind it all. This is a simple binary choice: either the events that led to the existence of the human race were random or they were not. Let’s consider a few of the arguments that might cause us to believe the events were NOT random:
One of the most powerful bits of evidence that life is not the result of random events is the existence of sex. Sexual reproduction is an extremely complex process that requires hundreds of different proteins (the worker molecules of life) working in perfect harmony, to take place.
For sexual reproduction to take place as a result of random chance, it would either have to evolve or appear spontaneously in its current, extremely complex, form. At some point, two different strands of DNA from two different beings must have gotten mixed. All of the enzymes and other proteins needed to disassemble the two different being’s DNA, sort it, and then reassemble it into a new strand of DNA which would lead to a being with at least the same capabilities as existing living things must have been present.
But that, alone, would not be enough. These proteins and enzymes would have to know what to do and do it, perfectly. They would have to realize that their job was to split the DNA and then recombine it into a viable being that mixes the characteristics of the two original beings. For this to happen as a result of random chance, a great many events that were unlikely to the point of near-impossibility would have to take place, sequentially, one at a time, in perfect order. If all of these events happened in perfect sequence, the first sexually-created being would come to exist.
Once the sexually created being existed, it would have to survive to sexual maturity.
Then, it would have had to find another being of the opposite sex to have sex with to make additional offspring. This basically means that the above process would have to have happened at least twice, in close enough proximity that the new beings would find each other, and close enough to the same way for these two to be sexually compatible. For random events to explain what we see, the babies would have had to grow up and find their own sexual partners and made and raised babies of their own. But this, alone wouldn’t be enough: these babies would have to have advantages over the simpler asexual beings that existed before, so that they could produce enough offspring to generate genetic diversity, leading to evolution. There are two conditions that would have to be met to have sexual beings evolve from asexual ones, and the evidence we have shows that neither of them were met:
If sexual reproduction had started out in a very simple form (simple enough to have happened by accident), then evolved, there would have to have been other, much simpler, sexually reproduction methods that the random chance events had put together and worked. These sexual methods would then have to be replaced by superior sexual methods, until we got to the very complex sexual reproduction methods in use by the sexual beings on Earth at this time.
But there has been no change: sexually reproducing that have been around for hundreds of millions of years reproduce exactly the same way as humans do, on a cellular level, with the same enzymes and other worker molecules performing the same tasks the same way, in the same order, at the same speed. If sexual reproduction had evolved into the complex process we see now, some of things that are now alive and reproduce sexually would take advantage of simpler methods of doing things (making proteins differently, for example, or separating the hydrogen bonds that join the double ‘ladders’ of DNA, differently, or folding the linear chains first manufactured by ribosomes into 3 dimensional proteins differently). In fact, on a molecular level, there is no difference between the way the most primitive bacteria (thought to be the first sexually reproducing living things on Earth) split, sort, and splice DNA and the way humans do it. All of the same proteins are involved; all of the same processes take place in the same order at the same speed.
We would have found evidence of evolution on this level. We have not found it. The only logical explanation for this is that the evidence does not exist: there was no change in this process. It operates today exactly as it did for the first beings to use it on Earth. There was no evolution.
The other major problem with accepting that sexual beings evolved from asexual ones involves competition. Natural selection causes MORE capable beings to survive. But sexual reproduction requires immense energy. This energy takes away from energy available for other tasks. Sexual beings are, by their very nature, inferior to asexual beings. If all other things were equal, sexually reproducing beings would not be able to come close to competing in a world with both sexual and asexual beings that were generally similar, other than their reproduction method.
For sexual beings to come to exist from asexual ones through random mutations, all of the required enzymes would have been in the right place at the right time in the exact right proportions at the time of the mutations. Somehow, all of these enzymes would have to come to ‘know’ what to do in reproduction. Then, they would have all had to do their jobs. As enzymes became depleted in the process, the cell must have ‘realized’ this, somehow, and made more. It would have to have done this with great precision, always producing the exact right quantity of enzymes, never too few or too many (this would have crowded out the necessary enzymes).
All the energy for this would have to be provided. This means that the cell would have to have had plenty of extra ATP, available for immediate use. Then, the newborn baby cell would have to have survived. These means it would have to mature pretty fast and learn to do everything needed for survival, in addition to learning the skills needed for sexual activity. Once the sexual being had matured, it would have had to have found a mate that had somehow come to exist as a result of the exact same process and was close enough in proximity and genetic structure to reproduce with the first sexual cell.
The odds of this happening by random chance are so low that we wouldn’t have the ability to estimate them. It would not be scientific to build analysis on the assumption that such an event occurred. If we are to be scientific, we must take this one piece of evidence by itself—the evidence of sexual reproduction—as sufficient to rule out any theory that life came to exist as it is on Earth through random chance.
The Genetic Code
The next argument against random causes involves the genetic code. The DNA in your cells has at least three different coded messages written inside of it. First, there is the four bit ‘reproduction code’ that allows it to reproduce itself with absolute perfection, time after time, making a mistake so rarely that, for practical purposes, you could say there are never any mistakes.
Second, there is the 64 bit ‘codon code.’ Each three links in the DNA ladder makes up one ‘codon,’ a triplet of which there are 64 possible genetic ‘words.’ Although we have not yet deciphered this code (we don’t know exactly what it ‘says’) we do know it is there, because each of the more than 5 trillion cells in your body contain an exact carbon copy of this coded message. For 5 trillion messages, each with more than 1 billion ‘words’ in it, to line up exactly in even 2 cases by random chance would be so unlikely as to be mathematically impossible. For them to line up exactly for each and every one of 5 trillion examples, all happening by random chance, would be so farfetched it seems insane to even consider it.
The third code, however, is the one that provides the strongest evidence against life coming to exist on Earth through random processes. This code matches up the coded messages in DNA to amino acids in proteins (the ‘worker molecules’ of life). The code matching is exact, without a single exception ever having been found. (This means that the same code in DNA always matches with the same amino acid, with no exceptions.)
Why does this provide the strongest evidence against existence as a result of random chance?
This is something that random processes simply do not do: They don’t write coherent, consistent, decipherable coded messages that make total sense to beings with advanced intelligence. To find even one example of such a coded message should be enough to tell us that intelligent design is involved. We find three, and all three are in the same molecule.
The Alpha Helix
In 1948, Linus Pauling, a researcher in X-ray crystallography at Stanford, caught a cold. He had been doodling some diagrams of the atoms of amino acids on paper and, while in bed, he began to fold the papers. He started to realize that the folded papers put the atoms into positions where the bonds made sense, while the unfolded papers didn’t. He folded until he got the best possible bonding properties, and found his paper was folded into a helix.
He had discovered an important reality of all amino acids that was later extended to all proteins (all molecules built on amino acids): they are built in helixes. He called his first model helix Alpha Helix. He won the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1951.
In his book ‘General Chemistry,’ Pauling explains the idea of helical bonds: The ‘spines’ of amino acids and proteins are long chains of carbon atoms. Carbon has four bonding points that always want to bond as far away from each other as possible, which means they will want to bond in a tetrahedron (a four sided pyramid). It is not possible to stack tetrahedrons at their tips and get a strait line. All of the bonds must be ‘curved.’ He found that the curves were all right hand curves, all with the same angle, and when stacked, made a helix.
If nature was to put a bunch of atoms together randomly, and it had to curve them, we would expect random sets of curves. For example, we might have ‘right, left, right, left,’ or ‘right, right, right, left,’ or ‘left, left, left, right.’
It turns out that every single curve in the helix is to the right. It goes: right, right, right, right, and on and on, for more than 3 billion links in some organic molecules.
If you see something that you would expect to be random but was not random, you would suspect there was some special reason for what you were looking at. Even something as simple as a line implies some sort of design: if you were flying over a featureless desert, and saw something that looked like a straight line, you would think that you were looking at a road or something some humans had built: nature doesn’t normally make perfectly straight lines.
It is easy to calculate the odds for a chain of anything that is a sequence of curves to all curve the same way, provided random forces are arranging them. The odds against a chain of 10 bonds, all turning out the same if arranged by random chance, are 210, or 1024 to 1 against. In other words, if you let something with two options happen at random (say tossing a coin), you would have to repeat this an average of 1024 times before you would get one example of all 10 being the same (all ‘tails’ on the coin toss, for example). The same formula can be used for the odds of a longer chain: the odds against 100 choices of a random variable being the same would be 2100, or 1,267,650,600,228,230,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 against. If you saw a chain of 100 links that could either be left or right, and they were all right links, the odds of this being due to chance would be 1,267,650,600,228,230,000,000,000,000,000 to 1 against.
All links in all proteins can be bonded either to the left or right. (It is possible to make ‘mirror image’ molecules that are identical to existing proteins but have the opposite curvatures. They can exist. There is no quantum mechanical or chemical reason for the bends to be to the right, this just happens to be the way they are made.) Some protein molecules have billions of links, all bonded the same way. (Human DNA, for example, has 57 billion carbon atoms; every single one of them is bonded in conformity with the alpha helix that Pauling discovered.)
How unlikely that all of the 57 billion carbon links in a DNA molecule would be right-hand bonds? The odds are 257billion to one against. If converted to numbers in the base 10 system, there are more zeros in the odds against random chance alignment for this one molecule than there are quarks in the universe. All DNA follows this same rule, as does all RNA and all proteins ever analyzed. The alpha helix is a fundamental part of all living things on Earth.
The odds against this kind of alignment of atoms occurring accidentally or through random chance are so high that, for practical purposes, we must rule out random alignment as mathematically impossible.
Mitochondria have its own DNA, which reproduces a different way than the DNA of nuclei of atoms. Mitochondria are a virtually perfect power-cell configuration and were in this same configuration from the very first beings that used these power cells. There is no need for it to ever change: it was perfect when it first appeared. Evolution can’t make it better.
If you were sending a package to another planet with DNA that you hoped would eventually evolve into intelligent beings, you would need to send down the parts that were already the way you wanted them to ultimately be in separate packages than the DNA that you wanted to evolve. The two packages would have different operating systems: the molecules you wanted to remain the same would reproduce by mitosis, leading to exact copies of the original molecules. This is the way mitochondrial DNA reproduces. The reproduction process is virtually perfect: for all practical purposes, the mitochondria that exists now is the same as the mitochondria that existed 530 million years ago, with the first evidence we have of mitochondria existing. (There are a few minor displacements in atoms that don’t affect the way the molecule works, but all critical parts of the molecule are identical.)
The other DNA, that you would want to evolve, would have to be sent under different conditions and operate in different ways, reproducing by meiosis (creating differentiated cells) and sexual merging of DNA. Since this particular method of reproduction requires enormous amounts of energy, it would need a power system to run it. As we have seen, mitochondria are the power cells that provide the energy needed for all living things that reproduce sexually and use meiosis. Mitochondria can’t operate without unbound oxygen, so you would need to send down cyanobacteria to create unbound oxygen first (unbound oxygen can’t exist in nature due to oxygen’s ability to bond with almost everything else). Then you would have to wait a very long time—perhaps many billions of years—for the cyanobacteria to unbind the oxygen and put it into the atmosphere before the mitochondria and cells that depend on the power mitochondria produce to be able to operate.
If you want to send life a fast distance, you would have to reduce it to a package with the smallest possible size and weight. This would be necessary both to reduce the required energy to a manageable level and to reduce the odds of a collision at high speed (even a collision with an atom would be enough to destroy an object moving at a high speed relative to the speed of light) to a level that would give acceptable odds of arrival. The smaller and lighter you could make the package, the better.
DNA weighs 1 picogram (1 billionth of a gram) per 978 million base pairs. The DNA for mitochondria has 3,700 base pairs, the DNA for cyanobacteria has 137 million base pairs, and the smallest genomes yet found in eukaryotes (sexually reproducing) is about the same size as that of cyanobacteria. This means that all DNA needed to seed life onto another planet could conceivably be put into a package with a weight of less than a billionth of a gram.
It is possible to imagine planners working all this out, putting the package together, and sending it to another world. Since the package could be made quite small, it could be sent long distances at fairly high speeds without violating any laws of physics. (See sidebar for more information.)
What kind of process could make all this happen as a result of random chance? Evolution might explain it, but we can rule out evolution because evolution would have necessarily left large amounts of evidence that has not been found. (Evolution requires change. Mitochondria did not change. The alpha helix did not change. Ribosomes did not change. The genetic code is identical for humans as for the earliest cyanobacteria.)
If there is a process that would allow such alignment of atoms through random chance and do all of the other things necessary for these atoms to come to life and do the things that we can watch living things do, this process has not yet been discovered. If there is no theory to explain it, saying ‘it exists but we just can’t explain it’ is essentially the same as saying ‘an invisible superbeing that lives in the sky created it all; we don’t know why or how.’ It is the same as saying ‘it is magic;’ this is no explanation at all.
This leaves only one conclusion: Life as we know it on Earth is NOT the result of a random process. It is the result of a non-random process. ‘Non Random’ means ‘intentional.’ The only scientific conclusion that has any significant likelihood of being correct is that some beings sent the basic precursors of DNA-based life to this world from another world.
What Does This Imply About The Meaning Of Life?
This book was written to support the ideas and concepts in the book Possible Societies. The theme of Possible Societies is simple: Humans are extremely capable beings. We are capable of organizing our existence in many different ways. Some are destructive; some are not destructive. Our ancestors chose to organize the realities of our existence in very destructive ways. If we remain in the path our ancestors put us in, and continue to play the game of life according to the rules they set, we will not survive as a race. We will cease to exist, and everything we have done in our entire existence will be meaningless.
Why does this matter? Why would anyone care about this?
I have had many people tell me it doesn’t matter at all. Our continued existence, they claim, is meaningless. Either we came to exist as a result of random processes or we were created by a superbeing or beings with magic powers. If we exist because of random processes, live itself is meaningless. If superbeings are responsible, life for each of us may mean something but existence for the human race as a whole is not under our control.
Our individual lives may have meaning because we can use them to prove our devotion to the invisible one(s) and prove ourselves worthy of a good afterlife. But the human race will only continue to exist as long as the magic ones has some reason to allow us to continue to exist. If this is a test to determine how we will be placed after we die, it is most definitely a very cruel test: the testers aren’t even willing to tell us we were being tested, tell us how to act to pass the test, or even allow us to objectively know they exist. We have to guess all of these things and, if the religious people are right, an incorrect guess or even a partially incorrect guess will lead to the most horrible punishment imaginable: an eternity of physical torture without hope for even a second’s respite through sleep or any hope of release by permanent death. If this is a test, as many people believe, the tester is cruel beyond the imagination of humans. Many people who believe this think that there will come a time when the superbeing will realize this test is cruel and discontinue it. This, they believe, will mark the end of the human race and it will be a good thing, because it will allow us all to go to the good afterlife place and not subject any to the need to make guesses to determine their perpetual destiny. They pray for this event—they call it the ‘rapture.’ They say that the existence of the human race is not up to us but, if they have anything to say about it, they would end it as quickly as they could. The magical ones gave us the ability to destroy ourselves when they gave us the ability to build thermonuclear bombs. All we need is an excuse and we can end this horrible experiment by destroying us all.
What if both of these theories about the origin of life and the existence of humans on Earth are wrong?
What if the events weren’t random but there aren’t any magic ones either?
What if there is a third option?
What if some group of intelligent beings went to a great deal of trouble to turn the hostile and lifeless planet Earth was when it was first formed, and make it capable of supporting advanced life? What if it sent a terraforming organism like cyanobacteria to this world? What if we are here because they went to even more trouble, sending the DNA needed for mitochondria, to power advanced life, and then sending the DNA for sexually reproducing complex life?
If someone went to this much trouble, then we are not here due to the whims of magic superbeings or random chance. We have a destiny. The scientific evidence overwhelmingly contradicts with the stories of invisible magic superbeings. It overwhelmingly conflicts the premise that ‘its all random.’ The scientific evidence tells us there is a reason for our existence. We don’t know what it is, but the evidence tells us it exists. If we stick around, we will eventually figure it out.
If we simply give up and allow the realities of the game that our ancestors decided to play and pass down to us to destroy us all, we are acting like the senseless lemmings that throw themselves off of cliffs for no reason. To accept death when it is unnecessary is suicide; to accept extinction of our race when it is unnecessary is genocide. I believe that those who pray for the rapture, and work to bring it about by refusing to accept science and advancing the destructive and violent societies built on religious beliefs are among the most immoral beings that can exist. If they want to kill themselves, perhaps, they have this right. But they don’t have the right to take the entire human race with them.
If we were placed here, the ones who went to such trouble to make it happen surely had some projections about how things would turn out. They surely realized that the minds that first had the ability to think on a conscious level would still be primitive in many ways. These primitive minds would come to conclusions that more evolved minds would not accept, and believe in magic beings. They would have realized that the issue of the ‘ownership’ of the world is a complex problem and, if people come up with some of the possible solutions to this problem, this would likely lead to the kinds of conflicts we see all around us on the Earth today. They would have realized that, if the brains had enough capabilities, they would come up with weapons, including nuclear weapons, to use to force others to accept their claims about the ownership and ownability of the world (by nations). They would have realized that this might be the toughest hurdle that would ever be faced by the beings they sent to this planet some 3.58 billion years ago, in their evolution to intelligence. They would have realized that some of these beings would not survive this phase. They would be evolved enough to build the weapons, but not evolved enough to understand why the pressures to build the weapons existed, and not evolved enough to accept that they had control over the variables that would save them.
I am arrogant and proud. My race, the human race, has done wonderful things in the past and we can keep doing wonderful things for a very long time into the future. Perhaps, if we were sent here intentionally, the ones who sent us knew that the odds against any one seeded planet making it would be very high, so, perhaps, they seeded thousands, millions, or even billions of planets. Perhaps, most of them were not expected to make it. Perhaps, they expected only one of these billions of seeded planets to produce a race of intelligent beings that would last long enough to accomplish whatever goal that they had for them.
When I look into the night sky, I am in awe of its magnificence. I have gone to the observatory gazed at the stars and galaxies, in endless wonder.
There is so much there.
Here we are, on this little world, about to kill ourselves over a game that is, by any objective measure, meaningless.
And people are oblivious! They see it, but they aren’t willing to accept that we have control over our destiny and the ability to organize our existence differently.
We are close to the end, BUT WE ARE NOT THERE YET.
There is still hope.
Perhaps billions upon billions of the worlds that we can see at night are inhabited, and perhaps the great majority of them won’t make it through the crisis we are now in, when they get to the point we are at now. But I am arrogant and proud. I love this planet and feel one with every living thing on it. It is worth fighting for. Perhaps only one race will make it through this crisis.
Why can’t it be us?