|Create Life from Chemicals|
|Srila Prabhupada Speaks|
Lump of Chemicals
You walk to the podium with great confidence that your talk would significantly influence the scientific community. You begin describing your findings—oxygen forms the bulk of our body, followed by carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, iron, fluorine, zinc and silicon, all of them weighing at least over a gram in a person’s body weighing around 70 kilograms—with great passion and enthusiasm. You say that samarium, beryllium and tungsten occupy the lower end of the scale, each weighing not more than 100 micrograms in an average person’s body. With great poise and assurance, you announce, “This discovery will pave the way to create specially-designed, genetically superior, adaptive beings of every living species on this earth.”
“You’re a bag of lies,” cries a voice suddenly from amongst the audience. “If what you say is true, why don’t you mix the chemical ingredients that you mentioned now and create at least a bed bug or mosquito? Or just produce a drop of milk or a grain of rice by chemical combination, liar! Or create a synthetic egg in your lousy lab and hatch it to produce a chicken. Your talk is simply empty nonsense. You cannot do anything, yet still you are talking, saying that life comes from chemicals. Actually the chicken is a better scientist than you, because it lays an egg and within a month produces another chicken. Chickens are producing life, but you cannot produce anything but empty sounds. I don’t believe I’m just a lump of chemicals.”
You wake up with a start, sweating and panting. You look at your watch. It reads 3 am in the morning. Phew! It was only a dream.
Little more than a century ago, science began to entertain notions of life arising from inert chemicals. Through the microscopes of that time, the cell appeared to be no more than a simple bag of chemicals. It therefore seemed reasonable to scientists such as Darwin to imagine that elementary living forms may have arisen from the random combination of organic chemicals in a primordial “soup.” But as man probed into the mysteries of the living cell, the idea that life came from chemicals began to appear less reasonable. Yet most scientists today cling to the dogma of chemical evolution.
The most common scenario portrayed by chemical-evolution theorists begins more than four billion years ago, when clouds of gases and dust are believed to have condensed on the earth’s ancient surface and gradually formed the primal atmosphere. Activated by ultraviolet light and electric bolts, this primitive atmosphere is supposed to have spontaneously given birth to organic chemical compounds, which then, for some 1.5 billion years, accumulated in ancient seas. These organic compounds interacted chemically and eventually formed primitive polypeptides (proteins), polynucleotides (DNA and RNA), polysaccharides (cell sugars), and lipids (fatty acids). A standard college text gives the final step: “From this rich broth of organic molecules and polymers, the primordial organic soup, the first living organisms are believed to have arisen.”
Many scientists also demonstrated that the presupposed atmospheric conditions of primitive earth were lethal to the “building blocks” of life. Oxygen destroys amino acids. However, without oxygen to deflect UV light, UV destroys amino acids. Thus, life can’t develop as a result of spontaneous generation with or without oxygen. Geology indicates oxygen has always been a part of earth’s atmosphere (every layer of strata, including the lowest layers, consist of oxidized rock).
As time went on, microscopic exploration gradually revealed increasingly complex phenomena within the tiny cell, such as the precise regulation of cellular metabolism by the nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), which involves the sophisticated interaction of thousands of kinds of elaborately structured protein molecules. It was no longer quite so easy to imagine how all this could have occurred by random combination of chemicals.
Modern Day Techniques
Scientists generally refer to a few of the current methods—in vitro fertilization, cloning and stem cell research to name a few—to cover up their unproven fascination with the theory of chemical evolution. Sometimes they also refer to the over ten elements, such as fermium, plutonium, and einsteinium, that were created in the laboratory. References to a couple of well publicized experiments that were allegedly successful partially in producing life from chemicals are also not uncommon.
In vitro fertilization is a medical technique in which a woman’s egg is placed with her husband’s sperm in a laboratory environment to promote fertilization. The result is a so-called test-tube baby. Cloning describes the processes used to create an exact genetic replica of another cell, tissue or organism. The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original, is referred to as a clone. The most famous clone was a Scottish sheep named Dolly. Research is also being conducted to turn stem cells into human reproductive cells or into a diverse range of specialized cell types.
These techniques and the aggressive marketing adorned with the scientific word jugglery bewilder the common man. If one can deeply consider the process of incubating a baby in the test-tube, this can be done only if you take the sperm and ovum of a living man and woman. In other words, the seed of life required to produce the baby in the test tube cannot be created by so-called scientists. What is their credit if they produce a baby in a test-tube? God is already producing millions of babies daily in nature’s test-tube, the womb. The same holds good for procedures such as cloning where a living donor should contribute the cell. As far as creating elements in the laboratory is concerned, it is a far cry from creating living beings.
The challenge that many a rational thinker has posed to the scientific community is this: if life were created by the mere combination of chemicals, prove it by creating life or life symptoms without using any constituent component from an already living being. Or they should at least be able to inject some “life-giving chemicals” into the body of a person and make him live forever.
No scientist in this world would accept this challenge, as most of them know deep within that they have not yet cracked the puzzle of life. It is thus not surprising that many chemists, after brief periods of enthusiasm for studying ‘life,’ silently return to the world of pure chemistry.