To create a masterpiece, an artist typically performs one process after another—sketching, refining, adding and layering color, shading, intensifying, and perfecting. Biochemists have discovered that life, much like art, also requires a series of steps. These steps include:
- assembly of a boundary membrane
- formation of energy-capturing capabilities by the boundary membrane
- encapsulation of macromolecules (proteins, RNA, and DNA) within the boundary membrane
- introduction of pores through which raw materials can pass from outside the boundary membrane to inside
- production of systems that allow macromolecules to grow
- generation of catalysts that speed up the growth of encapsulated macromolecules
- provision for macromolecule replication
- introduction of information into one set of macromolecules that directs the production of other macromolecules
- development of mechanisms that cause the boundary membrane to subdivide and grow
- production of the means to pass information-containing macromolecules to the daughter products of the subdivision process
In the words of origin-of-life researcher David Deamer, “Looking down at this list, one is struck by the complexity of even the simplest form of life.”
The overthrow of the traditional view of “simple” prokaryotes—once thought to be little bags of assorted molecules haphazardly arranged inside the cell—helps substantiate the case for life as a divinely created masterpiece. Microbiologists now understand that these tiny microbes display exquisite spatial and temporal organization at the molecular level. This organization adds an extra level of complexity that has yet to be explained away by naturalistic evolutionary processes.
Common experience teaches that it takes thought and intentional effort to organize a space for functional use. By analogy, the surprising internal composition of prokaryotic cells reflects intelligent design. Instead of resembling a preschooler’s messy finger painting, the interior of the simplest living cell is best described as a carefully planned and marvelously executed work of art—one that masterfully carries out life’s most basic processes in living color.