Our last post about Babu Ranganathan was almost a year and a half ago: Creationist Wisdom #497: Babu Is Back. To our great delight, we stumbled upon him again, this time — like the last — in The Mercury of Pottstown, Pennsylvania.
Today’s letter (they call it a guest column) is titled Scientists have never created life. The newspaper has a comments feature, but Babu’s column has attracted only one so far.
As you know, we don’t use the full name of a letter-writer unless he’s a politician, preacher, or some other public figure. But Babu Ranganathan is an exception. We used to write about his articles when they appeared in Pravda, but they seem to have abandoned him. He’s a graduate of Bob Jones University, with a major in Bible and a minor in whatever that school calls Biology.
Babu must be a great embarrassment to the allegedly conservative Discovery Institute in Seattle, but we find that whether they’re writing in Seattle or in Moscow, creationism’s advocates and apologists are all the same. Their anti-Enlightenment mode of thought and their peculiar style of argument — specifically what they say about evolution — demonstrate that rejection of reason is the common thread that unites authoritarians around the world.
We’ll give you a few excerpts from Babu’s latest — but as with his last letter, we won’t give you too many or bother with much rebuttal because like his other writings, it’s the usual collection of long-refuted creationist nonsense, and you’ve seen it all before. Okay, here we go, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
The recent news is that scientists have created synthetic life.
Babu isn’t specific about that, but we assume he’s referring to biochemist J. Craig Venter’s stripped-down microbe with nearly half its genes removed that we wrote about in Removing Junk DNA “Proves” Intelligent Design. It surprised us that the Discoveroids posted about it, because it shows that the original microbe had a load of unnecessary junk in its genome, strongly suggesting — at best — incredibly clumsy design. They ignored that and claimed that Venter’s work was an example of intelligent design. As we shall see, Babu shares their opinion. He says:
What really is synthetic life? What scientists did was use intelligent design and planning in building DNA code from scratch and then planting that DNA code in an already living cell and, thereby, modifying that cell. That’s all that synthetic life is. Scientists didn’t create life from non-living matter. But, even if scientists create life from non-living matter some day it will not be by chance, so there’s no support for any evolutionary origin of life in such a scenario.
Clever, huh? If it exists in nature, it’s intelligent design. If it’s done by humans in the lab — it’s intelligent design. Heads, tails, it doesn’t matter — creationists always win. Let’s read on:
Miller, in his famous experiment in 1953 showed that individual amino acids (the building blocks of life) could come into existence by chance. But, it’s not enough just to have amino acids. The various amino acids that make-up life must link together in a precise sequence, just like the letters in a sentence, to form functioning protein molecules. If they’re not in the right sequence the protein molecules won’t work. … The probability of just a single average size protein molecule arising by chance is 10 to the 65th power. Mathematicians have said any event in the universe with odds of 10 to 50th power or greater is impossible!
10 to the 65th? That’s a big number! Babu doesn’t tell us where he got it, but we assume he means one in 1065. That doesn’t matter. He continues:
The late great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle calculated that the odds of even the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is 10 to the 40,000th power!
Wowie — Hoyle also originated the Junkyard tornado argument. Again, we assume Babu means one in 1040,000. Hey — Babu made this same argument with the same numbers in a Pravda article we discussed more than five years ago in Babu “Proves” that Reality is Impossible!. In rebuttal, we showed that the chance of any particular shuffle of a deck of cards is one in 8.06581752 × 1067. So according to Babu, any sequence of a deck of cards is mathematically impossible. Impressed? Sure you are. Here’s even more:
The cell could not have gradually evolved. A partially evolved cell would quickly disintegrate under the effects of random forces of the environment, especially without the protection of a complete and fully functioning cell membrane. A partially evolved cell cannot wait millions of years for chance to make it complete and living!
Maybe. But maybe not — see How Life Began — Problem Solved? Moving along:
What about natural selection? Natural selection doesn’t create or produce anything. It can only “select” from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. If a variation occurs that helps a species survive, that survival is called “ natural selection.” It’s a passive process. There’s no conscious selection by nature, and natural selection only operates in nature once there is life nd reproduction and not before, so it would not be of assistance to the origin of life.
Gasp — natural selection couldn’t have originated life! We’re so devastated that we don’t know how we’ll carry on. Ah well, this is Babu’s final paragraph:
Science can’t prove we’re here by chance or design. Neither was observed. Both are positions of faith. The issue is which faith is best supported by science. Let the scientific arguments of both sides be presented.
Like Babu’s earlier articles, this one was mostly recycled stuff from his earlier writings. He never has anything new to say, but he’s always good for a laugh.
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