Enzymes: Catalysts of Life

Enzymes: Catalysts of Life

Chemical reactions occur every day. They take place all around us and inside us. However, many of these chemical reactions would either be impossible or far too slow to be of any use to life. They require a catalyst, something to either jumpstart the reaction or speed it up to a rate that is useful for biology. These catalysts are called enzymes. Due to their unique use and function, enzymes provide a challenge for the evolutionary theory. This article will attempt to explain why this is the case.

In order to understand the importance of enzymes, we need to understand why chemical reactions are so important to the body.  The bodies basic unit of function is the cell. Cells uptake nutrients that they use to feed themselves. However, these nutrients are not taken in whole. Instead, they must be broken down into smaller basic molecules such as proteins, sugars and so on.  To take a slice of roast beef and turn it into its constituent parts small enough for the cell to absorb, multiple chemical reactions must take place.  These chemical reactions break the down the slice of roast beef in our example and turn it into proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and sugars. However, many of these chemical reactions are either incredibly slow or do not happen at all without a catalyst. Enzymes, generally composed of proteins, provide that catalyst.

Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions through a very unique process. The enzyme will bind with one of the chemicals participating in the reaction. This chemical it binds to is called the substrate. The place on the enzyme where it bonds to the substrate is called the active site.  Enzymes are very selective about the kind of substrate to which it will bind. This is due to the unique shape of each enzyme and substrate. They are form fitted the one for the other, like pieces of a puzzle.  Because of this, lactase, which helps break down the sugar lactose found in milk, will only bind to a reaction involving lactose. This ensures that enzymes will always break down its intended substrate, preventing chaos and extraneous reactions.

While enzymes bind to the substrates in biochemical reactions, they are not part of the reaction itself. What that means is they are not used up during the reaction. Instead, as the reaction completes, the enzyme breaks off from the substrate and is ready to be used again in another reaction. Enzymes function best at a temperature around forty degrees Celsius. They can operate in both higher and lower temperatures, but forty appears to be the ideal temperature.  Some enzymes also participate in DNA replication.

Enzymes present a significant problem for evolutionary dogma.  Since almost all enzymes are incredibly specified, they cannot have evolved from one another. Each must have concurrently evolved with its given substrate. If the enzyme evolved first, it would have had no use and been selected out of the population by natural selection. If the substrate and chemical reaction using the substrate had appeared first, then the reaction would have been far too slow to be useful and the organism would have died off.  Thus both the enzyme and the chemical reaction requiring it must have formed simultaneously.

Evolution has another problem with enzymes, that being the fact that they are not used up in the chemical reaction. Most chemicals that enter a chemical reaction are broken apart and reformed as a new chemical, or a different concentration of the same chemical at the end of the reaction. This is what would be expected if a mindless chance random process had created the universe. However, having something latch on at the beginning of the reaction, expedite its progress, then leave the reaction unscathed is unexpected. Even were an enzyme to evolve, it would be expected it would either be consumed in the reaction as other chemicals are or simply break down after completion of its task, much as RNA strands do. Instead, the same enzyme can be reused for multiple reactions. Evolution would expect that the enzyme would be consumed rather than reused.

While simple molecules like enzymes are not commonly seen or thought of by most, they provide ample challenge to evolution. The nearly mutualistic need between enzymes and their substrates and the ability to reuse enzymes for multiple reactions gives the evolutionary theory a headache when it comes to enzymes. Creationists, of course, can simply point out that the enzymes were designed to function the way they do from the beginning. When God made the world, He designed enzymes to function just as they do and, since He made the substrates simultaneously, there is no delay between the two. Creation provides a far better explanation for the actions of enzymes than evolution can or will.

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