Saturday, November 14, 2015

#95 Archaea

Probably most of you have never heard of Archaea. I had never heard of them either until just recently. In fact, the world had never heard of them until they were discovered in 1977.

The Archaea constitute a domain or kingdom of single-celled microorganisms. These microbes are prokaryotes, meaning that they have no cell nucleus or any other membrane-bound organelles in their cells.

Classification is difficult because the majority have not been studied in the laboratory and have only been detected by analysis of their nucleic acids in samples from their environment. [1]

Before 1977 they had always been considered a type of bacteria. But then microbiologist Carl Woese was able to recognize that they were very different from bacteria.

"He had stumbled on a brave new world of microbes that looked like bacteria to our eyes, but were in fact so unique biochemically and physically that they have ultimately proved to be more closely related to us than to them. He had stumbled on an entirely new form of life, right here on Earth." [2]

Being a believer in the Theory of Evolution, he concluded that back at the beginning of Darwin’s Tree of Life, there must have been an early split. Bacteria went one way and Archaea and all other life went the other way. Of course Archaea was so primitive, not even having a cell nuclei, it had to have branched off from the Tree of Life itself at the very beginning.


So Woese came up with an all new branch and thus there are now three major branches off of Darwin’s Tree of Life. Evolutionists don’t really give an explanation for whatever it was that came before these three branches.

To get a better idea of some of the differences between Archaea and bacteria, one good website is WiseGeek. Here is just one point of many.

“Archaea and bacteria are both single-celled microorganisms known as prokaryotes but this is one of the few things they have in common. Even though they both look vaguely similar when viewed through a microscope, each represents a completely different group of creatures. In fact, archaea differ from bacteria as much as humans do, in terms of their biochemistry and genetic structure. Archaea and bacteria have different cell membranes and cell structures, and archaea are found in extreme environments where most bacteria could not survive.” [3]


It turns out that Archaea are totally everywhere on the earth. In fact they make up as much as 20% of the biomass of all living things even though they are microscopic in size. “Archaea are particularly numerous in the oceans, and the archaea in plankton may be one of the most abundant groups of organisms on the planet.” [4]


They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are totally different from each other and do the exact opposite thing biochemically. Here is an example.

“Archaea carry out many steps in the nitrogen cycle. This includes both reactions that remove nitrogen from ecosystems (such as nitrate-based respiration and denitrification) as well as processes that introduce nitrogen (such as nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation).” [5]

See my Proof for God #48 Nitrogen Cycle for more information on that.

"To our surprise, we have found super-sized filamentous archaea almost big enough to see with the naked eye living on mangrove roots. We have found methanogenic archaea that interact with protozoa in the guts of cows and termites to help these organisms break cellulose down for energy. We've even found an archaeon that lives symbiotically with -- of all things -- a sponge." [6]

Here are four excerpts from Wikipedia that show the extremely important roles that Archaea play in maintaining all life on earth.

“Researchers recently discovered Archaean involvement in ammonia oxidation reactions. These reactions are particularly important in the oceans.

“The archaea also appear crucial for ammonia oxidation in soils. They produce nitrite, which other microbes then oxidize to nitrate. Plants and other organisms consume the latter.

“In the carbon cycle, methanogen archaea remove hydrogen and play an important role in the decay of organic matter by the populations of microorganisms that act as decomposers in anaerobic ecosystems, such as sediments, marshes and sewage-treatment works.

“In the sulfur cycle, archaea that grow by oxidizing sulfur compounds release this element from rocks, making it available to other organisms.” [7]

Some researchers believe that we would never have been able to come to exist on the earth without Archaea. Millions of years ago, the earth was covered with methane gas. They think it was the type of Archaea that digests methane that ate it all up or we could never have come along. Even today some scientists estimate that Archaea convert 300 million tons of methane per year into more life friendly chemicals.

"Scientists have discovered a methane metabolizing Archea in the extreme pressures of deep sea sediments. It is estimated that these bacteria-like organisms consume 300 million tons of methane each year, which prevent the Earth from turning into a furnace. According to Kai-Uwe Hinrichs, a biogeochemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and one of the authors of the study, 'If they hadn't been established at some point in Earth's history, we probably wouldn't be here.'" [8]

A tremendous amount is NOT known about Archaea. “Current knowledge on genetic diversity is fragmentary and the total number of archaeal species cannot be estimated with any accuracy. Estimates of the number of phyla range from 18 to 23, of which only 8 have representatives that have been cultured and studied directly.” [9] Here is another such statement. "Consequently, our understanding of the role of archaea in ocean ecology is rudimentary, so their full influence on global biogeochemical cycles remains largely unexplored." [10]

But scientists have been able to learn some things about their internal makeup, replication, and the biochemical processes they exhibit.

Let’s note here that they do not reproduce sexually. There are no male and female so it is hard to apply the Theory of Evolution. They do not have “parents” to give them two different sets of DNA.

So let’s look at some of the questions that Evolutionists are not going to be able to answer.

If you have read any of my Proofs for God such as #40 Chirality, #21 DNA, #27 The Truth about Mutation, or #35 Natural Selection, then you are probably already asking yourself some good questions.

In the very beginning for Evolutionists, somehow DNA came to exist. In the opinion of many scientists, it would be impossible to come into existence without super-intelligence involved because there is so much order, information, and design to DNA. But let’s skip over that discussion for this proof.


Evolutionists were forced to put Archaea and bacteria and the very bottom of the Tree of Life because they are so primitive. But they are so different it is impossible to explain that one was the ancestor of the other, so they don’t. They make separate branches of the tree and leave the beginning a mystery.

"Molecular handedness -- chirality in chemistry-speak -- is not a thing changed easily by evolution. For instance, the vast majority of protein building blocks called amino acids used by life on Earth are exclusively "left-handed". Why? No one really knows, although some have guesses. Once lefty amino acids took over, though, there was no going back biochemically -- the enzymes were set up a certain way and that was that. Thus, that archaeal and bacterial enzymes use glycerols with opposite handedness implies that bacteria and archaea parted ways long, long ago." [11]

To mutate from bacteria to Archaea or any other living thing is impossible to conceive of based on the different handedness of their enzymes. Remember DNA is a long, long chain of millions, if not billions, of individual amino acids.

Evolutionists have to believe that enzymes of both left-handedness and right-handedness somehow developed, once to produce Archaea and the plant/animal branch and another time to produce bacteria. The odds are astronomical against an enzyme coming to exist by Evolution even one time. But two independent times is not even conceivable. And then another miracle has to happen to produce the third branch of the Tree of Life (plants and animals).

We could stop there, but let’s keep going. Once one Archaea somehow exists as a fully functioning cell, it has to already contain all the necessary DNA to be able to replicate itself. (Please read Proof for God #41 The First Living Cell to learn how difficult that is.)

"The majority of its genes related to energy production, cell division, and metabolism were found to be most similar to those found in bacteria, while those related to transcription, translation, and replication were found to be most similar to those found in eukaryota." [12]


Here’s something else. Archaea hold all the records for being able to survive in the most extreme environments like hot, cold, acidic, or salty.

Then from that one very first Archaea, how do you explain such an extreme diversity of Archaea living in every environment on the earth? They are single celled organisms so when they multiply they do not have two parents from which to inherit different DNA. Their DNA somehow makes a copy of itself and then the cell splits into two “daughter cells” having exactly the same DNA.

"Archaea replicate asexually in a process known as binary fission. Archaea achieve a swimming motility via one or more tail-like flagellae." [13]

They just make a copy of themselves according to their existing DNA. I will concede that there might be some mutations during copying, but this is not a process that leads anywhere toward species development. See my Proof for God # Copying Degradation and my Proof for God # The Truth about Mutation.

Mutation is very rarely beneficial. It usually leads to death. There’s no hope there for growth and development of many different phyla.

Archaea live in many such extreme environments that they could not have evolved there. There are Archaea that are living at 130°C on the ocean floor next to an active volcano.

"Strain 121 can survive at temperatures up to 130C and experiments suggest there may be archaeal species that can tolerate temperatures of 140 to 150C. Lest you forget, water boils at 100C." [14]

There is no oxygen there and the heat destroys all other living things. How did they get there in the first place and not get destroyed on the way? How could they adapt to the heat in that environment without being killed first? If the heat didn’t kill them, how did they get oxygen and energy? They would have had to evolve the ability to convert compounds in the environment into oxygen and energy after they arrived there. It’s pretty clear that they had to be able to survive in that environment before they ever got there not after they arrived. Survival of the Fittest is totally out of the realm of possibility.


How about the type of Archaea that can thrive in a totally acidic environment of pH 0 (zero), comparable to sulfuric acid? All plants and animals die in acid. Since Evolutionists put Archaea on the Tree of Life, how do they explain that some type “adapted” into being able to do this? They could not have adapted once they were in the strong acid environment, no survival of the fittest because there are no survivors. Even bacteria which Evolutionists say came earlier on the Tree of Life are killed by acid.

Different types of Archaea also live in extremely alkaline environments. Some can live in extremely cold environments. Others live in the soil, the ocean, marshlands, even sewage. 

There are even Archaea that live in your stomachs that help you digest certain types of molecules. We are really lucky that they are there or we might not survive. That’s a very acidic environment which dissolves almost everything that comes into it. But not your very own Archaea.

“Methogens such as M. Smithii, the most abundant methanogenic archaeon in the human gut is an important player in the digestion of polysaccharides (complex sugars). Methangenic archaea help to remove excess hydrogen.” [15]


Here’s a neat little sentence with gigantic implications. “Like bacteria, archaea cell membranes are usually bounded by a cell wall and they swim using one or more flagella.” [16] How can evolutionists explain one or more working flagellum on an archaea? That means they have a working tail that motors them around. A tail takes a lot of engineering. A half evolved tail does not work. Evolution cannot explain in slow, gradual steps how you get a flagellum.

Archaea are so tiny that we can’t see them and yet there are so many that they make up 20% of living things on the planet. There are so many different kinds of them and they all seem to provide extremely essential chemical processes for our survival. We’d die without them.

There’s still a lot more to be learned about them, but just knowing what we know already makes it impossible to believe that they occurred by random chance or natural selection.

No evolutionary explanation suffices. There must be God.
_________________________

[1] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

[2] Frazer, Jennifer, Scientific American, "Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know", January 12, 2013, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/archaea-are-more-wonderful-than-you-know/

[3] WiseGeek, "What Are the Differences between Archaea and Bacteria?", http://www.wisegeek.org/what-are-the-differences-between-archaea-and-bacteria.htm#didyouknowout

[4] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

[5] Frazer, Jennifer, Scientific American, "Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know", January 12, 2013, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/archaea-are-more-wonderful-than-you-know/

[6] Frazer, Jennifer, Scientific American, "Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know", January 12, 2013, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/archaea-are-more-wonderful-than-you-know/

[7] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

[8] Deem, Rich, "The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System", 

[9] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

[10] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea

[11] Frazer, Jennifer, Scientific American, "Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know", January 12, 2013, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/archaea-are-more-wonderful-than-you-know/

[12] New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, "Archaea", http://treeoflife.nmnaturalhistory.org/archaea.html

[13] Encyclopedia of Life, "What are Archaea?", http://eol.org/info/457

[14] Frazer, Jennifer, Scientific American, "Archaea Are More Wonderful Than You Know", January 12, 2013, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/archaea-are-more-wonderful-than-you-know/

[15] New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, "Archaea", http://treeoflife.nmnaturalhistory.org/archaea.html

[16] Wikipedia, “Archaea”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archaea


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