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Letter of the day: The study of natural science can provide no answers to the vexed question of God's existence

Creation debate

DONALD Gale (Write Back, January 16) argues that the complexity of biochemical mechanisms involved in life is such that they are unlikely to have originated from the random processes of nature, and so must be a divine act of creation.

But, in chemistry, we do know of complex, ordered structures which spontaneously form from disordered systems, such as the spontaneous assembly of micelles (cell-like structures) from solutions of lipid molecules, or oscillating chemical reactions which form spatially structured wave patterns.

We even know of a kind of molecular evolution in reacting auto-catalytic systems, from which informational order can emerge.

This was studied by the Nobel laureate Manfred Eigen, who showed how molecules which act as catalysts for their own formation may produce complex hyper-cycles of linked reactions, from which this type of order can emerge (ie this is a self-reproducing entity, which arises by chance, pace Mr Gale's assertion that such a thing is impossible).

This is likely to be the way complex RNA sequences were selected before life originated.

A completely natural account of the origin of life may eventually be given, based on observations like these, but this does not preclude the theological account favoured by Mr Gale.

If God only acts through (or rather consistent with) nature's laws, (which perhaps he instituted), then a natural description of the origin of life - which ignores all talk of God and supernatural agency - is perfectly compatible with both an atheistic view of the world and a theistic view of things.

Studying, through natural science, the possible steps which lead to life on earth cannot tell us whether there was a creator, or if it all is just a matter of chance in a godless world.

The God question is not decidable through empirical investigation.

DR NICK CANNING

Coleraine, Co Londonderry

Belfast Telegraph

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