Astronomer and mathematician Chandra Wickramasinghe, has been a notable figure in the ongoing scientific debates on evolution, promulgating the unlikelihood that natural selection could explain the origin of something as complicated as the cell . Wickramasinghe is better known for his conviction that life is a "cosmic phenomenon" - that it is through cosmic dust that life has been seeded on earth . Yet he is also known for his criticism of what he calls Darwinist indoctrination as witnessed in his appearance at the 1981 Creation Science trial in Arkansas. In his testimony he severely attacked Darwinian theory on the basis that the accumulation of mutations upon which natural selection supposedly acted would, if anything, lead to the gradual degradation and not accumulation of the genetic information that we see in organisms today . He thus relegated Darwinian Theory to its more conservative form in which, "the processes of mutation and natural selection can only produce very minor effects in life as a kind of fine tuning of the whole evolutionary process" .
The low probabilities of obtaining functional enzymes in a primordial soup rule out explanations appealing to law and chance (image source here)
Wickramasinghe argued that gaps in the fossil record as well as the absence of transitional forms linking up the different phyletic groupings of fossils make the broader application of Darwinism across biology untenable . Nevertheless, what really convinced Wickramasinghe of the insufficiency of Darwinism was that specific enzymes are needed within the cell for life to even exist. According to Wickramasinghe, if one were to envisage the random assembly of all these enzymes from some concoction of amino acids in a hypothetical primordial soup, the odds of obtaining these enzymes with the specific functions they have in the cell would be a staggeringly low 1 in 10exp40,000. As he subsequently concluded, "the number of shufflings needed to find life exceeds by many powers of 10 the number of all the atoms in the entire observable Universe". 
The above observations themselves provide a source of awe and contravene the rather dismissive trivialization often used to oppose the inference of design- that the very fact that we are here to look back on the history of the universe is testimony that this very small probability must have been fulfilled without recourse to a designer's 'hand'. In reviewing Harold Morowitz work, for example, physicist and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann defined prebiotic evolution as a 'gateway event' in which the synthesis of nucleotides permitted genomes to simply, "come into existence" . But the inference that big things like genomes come out of small changes like the synthesis of nucleotides carries with it a complete lack of causal specificity . We have no naturalistic causal chain that takes us from a primordial soup to a living cell. From the origin of the bacterial cell to the advent of the first single-celled eukaryotes and the eventual evolution of higher animals, we find crevasse-size gaps and discontinuities that do not lend themselves easily to simple 'gateway event'-type explanations. True, there is a clearly observable increase in the level of complexity throughout our natural history and certainly we observe the emergence of higher levels of organization in the 'aggrandizement' of human societies and animal communities. Nevertheless, while theorists such as Stuart Kauffman believe that chemicals can arrange themselves into stable cycles 'for free', without any purpose or forethought , design theorists see the complexity of living form as a hallmark of an intelligence behind the design. I would concur.
Details of Chandra Wickramasinghe's testimony at the 1981 Arkansas Evolution/Creation trial can be found at http://www.panspermia.org/chandra.htm
 Murray Gell-Mann (1994), The Quark and the Jaguar, Adventures in the simple and the complex. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York p.240
 William Dembski (2002), No Free Lunch: Why Specified Complexity Cannot Be Purchased Without Intelligence, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, Lanham, Maryland pp 239-246
 Stuart Kauffman (2000), Investigations, Oxford University Press, New York
Copyright(c), 2008, Robert Deyes
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