The research, from Brandeis University biochemist Douglas Theobald, attempted to statistically test the hypothesis that all life evolved from the same common ancestor—one of Darwin’s primary assertions. The test proceeded by looking at the 23 universal proteins found in all life-forms, from relatively complex eukaryotes to somewhat “simpler” bacteria and archaea.
Those claims obviously presuppose an evolutionary perspective.
As Theobald explained, the similarity across life is usually attributed to universal ancestry à la Darwin’s theory. The argument against multiple, unique origins of different life-forms, as stated by National Geographic News, is that “[i]f life arose from multiple species—each with a different set of proteins—many more mutations would have been required” and that “it’s highly unlikely that the protein groups would have independently evolved into such similar DNA sequences.” However, those claims obviously presuppose an evolutionary perspective—i.e., that similarity but separate origin could have only occurred via chance processes.
Nonetheless, Theobald interprets his statistical results on that basis, arguing that the odds are 1 in 102680 that the different forms of life arose independently, and calling that the creationist belief that humans originated separately from other life “an absolutely horrible hypothesis” with 106000 (that’s a ten followed by 5,999 zeroes) to 1 odds.
The obvious flaw with Theobald’s conclusions, as we pointed out, is that he assumes protein similarity must have come about either by common ancestry or by the process of evolutionary convergence. Creationists adopt neither view, however, because there is a better view available: common design. Even amid the chasm of differences between various organisms, fundamental similarities make sense in light of a single Designer who re-used many of the basic biological mechanisms throughout life. In fact, commonality is central to separating life from non-life; if we shared nothing in common with, e.g., bacteria, we would probably not classify it as life at all.
Finally, it is ironic that Theobald is trying to use statistics and probabilities to show that all life today must have evolved from a single common ancestor. Creationists and other advocates of the Intelligent Design movement have frequently produced calculations showing the extreme improbability (on the basis of chance processes) of the earth’s special position in the universe, the amazing molecular machines inside our cells, and so forth. But evolutionists balk at such probabilities, providing strange rebuttals in the form of speculative “multiverses” and praise at the “unexpected power” of mutations and natural selection. This time, it’s our turn to balk, but on the grounds that Theobald has presupposed evolution from the start.
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