I don’t know how much I can stomach of this…
I’m going to ignore the four pages where Meyer explains that his detractors really didn’t discredit his previous book (Signature in the Cell). They did, but I’m not going to get into that fight. SitC is dead. It’s useless. And even the DI knows it.
So let’s to the actual science that Meyer screws up.
Scientists attempting to explain the origin of life must explain how both information-rich molecules and the cell’s information-processing system arose.
Done. Yes, it’s that simple. I’ve known about this research for years, long before SitC came out, much less Darwin’s Doubt.
A ribozyme (ribonucleic acid enzyme) is an RNA molecule that is capable of performing specific biochemical reactions, similar to the action of protein enzymes. The 1981 discovery of ribozymes demonstrated that RNA can be both genetic material (like DNA) and a biological catalyst (like protein enzymes), and contributed to the RNA world hypothesis, which suggests that RNA may have been important in the evolution of prebiotic self-replicating systems.
This is from Wikipedia (all emphasis original). So a ribozyme is both information AND information processing. There you go Dr. Meyer, the question was answered before you ever got around to asking it… indeed, it was answered about the same time you got your first degree. The Nobel prize in chemistry (1989) was awarded for the catalytic properties of RNA.
Here’s a general catalyst ribozyme. The paper describes a ribozyme that can extend any other RNA primer. It was published in 2001, almost 12 years ago. More sloppy research from Meyer.
This paper describes a ribozyme capable of forming another ribozyme from scratch. It was published in 2011, so I’ll give him a pass on this one.
Here’s one of my favorites. The prior papers are interesting, but “How do we get those ribozymes. That needed intelligence.” Except, intelligence really isn’t required. This paper describes the catalytic properties of an RNA that is only 5 nucleotides long. It’s actually better than that because the active site is only 3 nucleotides long.
The most intriguing possibility raised by these results is that an RNA reaction center for phosphoester transfer may exist somewhere near this size. This would make the polymerase/replicase needed to initiate Darwinian evolution of RNAs, the founding event of the RNA world, much more likely. On one hand, with this few ribonucleotides to dispose in space, there may not be other similar nucleotide structures that are both stable and capable of catalysis. On the other hand, for obvious reasons, it will be extraordinarily important to look for other tiny RNA active centers, now knowing they can exist.
How long, do you think, would it take to form an RNA that has this specific pattern of 5 nucleotides? How long would it take to form any 5 nucleotide RNA that has some catalytic function?*
Probably not that long at all.
So you see, Dr. Meyer, it’s already explained. It was explained before you finished your degrees. It’s a known fact that ribozymes are both the information and the information processing system. Which is why the analogy to computers breaks down. It just doesn’t work for biology. **
Now, before the creationists get all hot and bothered… let’s finish the book shall we? This is a specific response to a specific claim. Meyer asks how the information storage system and the information processing system can appear. It’s because, in biology, they can be the same system. That’s it.
* Because creationists (including ID proponents) don’t understand this, it is inappropriate to make these calculations because there is absolutely no way to understand everything involved. Different nucleotides have different binding energies so the distribution is not totally random. Metal ions can radically alter the probability of certain bonds forming. It’s impossible (not improbable, but impossible) to understand all of the factors to produce an accurate result. It’s a waste of time… except for people that are scared of big numbers… like creationists.
** Using analogies as an argument is doomed to fail anyway.