One in a Trillion Trillion

Supposedly, the first forms of life on earth were primitive anaerobic bacteria, since not enough oxygen was present to allow for aerobic respiration and glycolysis. Gradually, the atmosphere accumulated enough oxygen courtesy of cyanobacteria and diatoms that bacteria were able to defy the Pasteur Effect and evolved to use aerobic respiration predominantly. This is an overly simplistic generalization that is without any laboratory-verified evidence, but let’s not get discouraged just yet.

Be that as it may, let’s review a few basics from biology. Aerobic glycolysis is 38% efficient, creating 36 ATP molecules from one molecule of glucose. Anaerobic glycolysis is about 3-5% efficient, creating just 2 ATP molecules from the same sugar molecule. ATP is required for any work the cell needs done, including the assembly of amino acids into proteins which are necessary for all of life’s functions, including reproduction, metabolism, survival, etc.

The general formula for how much ATP is required for a protein to be made is:

 (4n)-1, where n = number of amino acids

The average number of proteins in a small, anaerobic bacterium is ~1,000.

The average size of those proteins is ~300 amino acids long.

An average-sized anaerobic bacterium will have ~300,000 amino acids, making up 1,000 proteins.

                (4n)-1 = ATP needed

                (4*300,000)-1 = 1,199,999 ATPs

So, a simple anaerobe needs to produce approximately 1.2 million ATP molecules to produce its essential proteins. These are needed so that the high-energy bond of the 3-Phosphates molecule can be broken and the energy released, which is used to perform the work of binding amino acids together, of powering the various cellular machinery that lines up the amino acids, of translating these sequences of amino acids into functional proteins, and the work of transporting the functional proteins to the specific location in the cell where their talents are needed. In short, to make proteins you need more proteins, and this requires massive amounts of energy.

Recall that anaerobic glycolysis only produces 2 ATPs every ~30 seconds.

For 1,199,999 ATPs to be made: 240 ATPs/Hr -> 5760 ATPs/Day -> 1,199,999 ATPs/5760 -> 208.3 days needed.

So, for just one small bacterium to metabolize the required energy in order to transcribe and translate the coding parts of its DNA into roughly 1,000 proteins it would take nearly 7 months, despite having multiple mitochondria that process the sugar and pump out ATPs. There are estimated to be more than one trillion bacteria in Earth’s biomass. How many billions of years would be needed just for the anaerobes? How long until eukaryotes would finally appear? I’m getting ahead of myself since there is no documented, verifiable, reproducible mechanism for this transition anywhere in current science literature… What a neat trick that would be!

That is just one small, relatively simple bacterium’s wait time to produce its essential proteins to ensure another generation of life. This does not take into account the required ATP that the bacterium needs for other essential functions to ensure survival in the meantime, such as communication, mobility and defense; only the energy needs for making the proteins needed for replication and division.

I’m in a generous mood today. Let’s say the anaerobe is extremely thrifty and is able to obtain all of its ATP needs in 6 months instead of 7. Boiling this down to a general formula then, 2 simple bacteria per year could afford to divide, or a 2:1 ratio. If the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and the first bacteria is thought to be nearly 4 billion years old, then simple math says it must have appeared within 500 million years of the Earth forming. This would require that in only 0.5 billion years, the violent formation of the Earth itself would have had subsided to the point where relative calm existed, along with a ready source of sugars and the required chemicals to spontaneously assemble into the DNA information needed to produce Life, all while overcoming impossible statistical odds of correct assembly and spontaneous generation of Life from non-Life. What’s more, any life form to appear would perhaps then have to endure the massive freeze as a result of the initiation of plate tectonics!

Realistically, during this 0.5 billion years, and before the big freeze hits which would last millions of years, we must play the statistics game to get even one functional primitive anaerobe. This requires a mechanism of obtaining only the right-hand version of DNA correctly assembled from the naturally-occurring racemic versions. Then, for each amino acid we need a mechanism that selects only the left-handed ones, since only these are used in making proteins. Arbitrary, you say? Life has standards, I say.

Only 20 amino acids exist and these combine in an unimaginable number of ways to create all of the proteins required for Life. Most proteins require 300-500 amino acids in just the precise order and folded in a precise 3-D conformation. Some proteins, such as titin, need 30,000 amino acids. If the 30,000 amino acids are not assembled in perfect order and folded in just the right shape, the protein is useless. Titin makes muscle contraction possible, and without it we couldn’t move.

Then we need to calculate the astronomical odds that each amino acid assembled to the previous one results in meaningful protein information being produced, which is impossible to ascertain until the sequence is translated into a functional protein by….yep, another protein complex composed of 2 subunit proteins, called the ribosome, which also needs to spontaneously assemble by chance, at the right time, just to facilitate this process.

The insurmountable odds of one protein being assembled correctly, by chance, would require more time than the entire supposed age of the Universe. Worse still, the odds for this one protein joining hundreds or thousands of others through an unguided process to collaborate in joining to create the first simple living anaerobe would require a few thousand ages of the Universe. Noted astrobiologist Paul Davies stated the chances of Life emerging are “perhaps one in a trillion trillion.”

If one simple anaerobe needs about 7 months to produce enough energy to transcribe and translate its DNA into functional proteins, how much time would billions of microbes need?  When would they obtain the extra energy needed for cell-to-cell communication or horizontal gene transfer events? How often/fast/slow could these events occur? What random processes would blindly result in sugar molecules being correctly assembled in the correct chirality for fuel and wouldn’t these dissolve in the “primordial soup” they are supposed to appear in? And finally, during all this time the bacterium would need to survive in a chaotic, toxic and violent environment of the assumed early Earth at the height of the LHB, while avoiding predation, preventing radiation/UV damage and apoptosis.

So, going back to our 2:1 ratio, if you were tempted to think that in 500 million years, there should be 1 billion anaerobes creeping about, you’d be wrong. It would appear that the chances of even one simple anaerobe appearing and surviving – much less “evolving” into something more complex such as a eukaryote – are practically and realistically 0.0000%, or else the time required might as well be infinity… and beyond!

But math doesn’t deter long-age evolutionists! For them, Evolution of Life from non-life is a fact and you’re a science denier if you think otherwise. In that case, sign me up.