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The Editorial

Wonderful science

As I write the various Nobel Prizes are being announced.

John Benton, Editor

Figure Image

This year’s prize for chemistry includes Scotsman Sir Fraser Stoddart and Bob Dylan got the prize for literature. But last year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry went corporately to Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar, who originate from Sweden, USA and Turkey respectively. They won it for their work on the mechanism of DNA repair.

This work was brought to my attention by Dr John Peet, one of the members of our home church. John gives a termly lecture on a Sunday afternoon dealing with all kinds of scientific subjects relating to Creation and as a church we are hugely indebted to him.

Genetic material

Human life begins when 23 chromosomes from our father’s sperm is combined with 23 chromosomes from our mother’s egg. Together this is the original version of our genetic material, our genome. The astonishing DNA molecule with its double helix structure, like two spiral staircases entwined, is the very stuff on which life depends. In 1981 Hoyle and Wickramasinghe estimated that the probability of such a molecule coming together by pure chance is 1 in 10 to the power of 40,000. This has always been a problem for atheistic evolution since mathematicians usually take a chance of 1 in 10 to the power of 50 as being effectively zero.

But it was back in 1965 that Tomas Lindahl began to wonder just how stable DNA is as a molecule. Some chemicals can be made, but for all kinds of reasons they break down. That’s why, for example, food goes off and we keep it in the fridge to delay the decay. Lindahl found that DNA undergoes noticeable breakdown with thousands of potentially devastating bits of damage to the genome every day from things like UV light. Clearly this situation would be incompatible with the existence of human life on earth. The breakdown of DNA causes such things as cancer and premature aging.

Inbuilt genetic repair systems

But what has been discovered is that ‘our DNA remains astonishingly intact, year after year, due to a host of molecular repair mechanisms: a swarm of proteins that monitor our genes. They continually proofread the genome and repair any damage that has occurred.’ It seems that the ‘cell’s toolbox’ (where did that come from?) contains specialised enzymes and different ones respond to different kinds of damage. On the web you can find a number of animations which picture for us how this works. As I watched a couple of these I could not but conclude with the Psalmist that we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.’ Not only does the complexity of the DNA molecule speak against it having a chance origin, but now we understand that for the molecule to survive there had to be an extremely complicated repair mechanism in place from the start.

As the facts of science are uncovered the basis for a totally chance universe seems to be getting smaller and smaller by the day. The world in its rebellion is against God, but the evidence is against the atheist and it will continue to accumulate.

Meanwhile Bible-believing Christians at school and at university will continue to find things very tough. With this in mind the Biblical Creation Trust have recently published a booklet for young people with some very helpful advice about how to cope. Its main headlines include ‘Don’t dismiss evolution lightly – be familiar with the evidence the evolutionists use’ and ‘Ask questions.’ The booklet is titled I’m a creationist…get me out of here!