Monday, September 12, 2011
The Amylome: More Constraints on Protein Design and Evolution
Review: Not enough evolutionary experiments possible
Unlike most of the evolution narrative which appeals to speculative hypotheses about the distant past that cannot be tested, protein evolution is more amenable to scientific experimentation. For instance, in one case evolutionists concluded that the number of evolutionary experiments required to evolve a protein is 10^70 (a one with 70 zeros following it).
Yet elsewhere evolutionists computed that the maximum number of evolutionary experiments possible is only 10^43. So the number of evolutionary experiments required is 27 orders of magnitude greater than the number of evolutionary experiments possible.
Furthermore, both these estimates are optimistic. The number of evolutionary experiments required was estimated using only part of a protein and only part of its function was considered.
And the number of evolutionary experiments possible was estimated assuming a four billion year time frame and assuming the preexistence of an earth full of bacteria. The time frame is two to three orders of magnitude too large (proteins come early, not late in the history of life). And bacteria need thousands of, yes, proteins. You can’t use bacteria to explain how proteins first evolved when the bacteria themselves require an army of proteins.
The evolutionists did provide a more conservative estimate of the number of evolutionary experiments possible, reducing the number from 10^43 to 10^21. This increases the evolutionary shortfall from 27 orders of magnitude to 49 orders of magnitude. But even in this more conservative estimate the evolutionists continued to use the four billion year time frame and the pre existence of bacteria (with their many thousands of pre existing proteins).
Evolution, even by the evolutionist’s own reckoning, is unworkable. The theory fails by a degree that is incomparable in science. Scientific theories often go wrong, but not by 27 to 49 orders of magnitude. And that is conservative. The problem is too complicated for precise estimates, but the evolutionary shortfall is probably in the hundreds of orders of magnitude.
Another problem: Protein aggregation
Even if evolution could somehow create proteins, another problem that awaits is the propensity of proteins to stick to each other and form fibrils. As one researcher explained, “The amyloid state is more like the default state of a protein, and in the absence of specific protective mechanisms, many of our proteins could fall into it.”
The problem is that short protein segments of say half a dozen amino acids can be self-complementary and sticky. If these sticky patches are on the exterior of a protein, then multiple copies of the protein can attach and form a growing and dangerous amyloid fibril.
Not surprisingly the cell has several mechanisms to protect against protein fibrillation. The sticky patches may be particularly exposed when proteins are initially synthesized and folding. So other molecules, such as the so-called chaperone proteins, help to ensure proteins fold correctly and avoid the amyloid state. Other cellular mechanisms recognize and destroy amyloids that do form, and proteins that are particularly susceptible may be sequestered in their own compartments. In all there are hundreds of genes that help to protect against the amyloid threat.
Beyond these protective mechanisms, the proteins themselves tend to have their sticky patches safely hidden away in the protein interior. As one evolutionist hypothesized, “Most proteins have evolved to fold in a way that effectively conceals their amyloid-prone segments.”
If that is true, then it is yet another hurdle for evolution. Not only is there the conservative estimate of a 27 to 49 orders of magnitude shortfall just for evolution to create a protein, but now we have the problem of avoiding the amyloid threat. It is not good enough for the protein merely to fold and function. Its sticky patches need to be buried in the interior. And then the cell needs those hundreds of genes for all the additional protective mechanisms.
The scientific problems with evolution do count for those not committed a priori. But religion drives science, and it matters.