Enzymes that perform 36 million processes a minute
Every second, more processes than can be counted are carried out in the bodies of all living things. So complex and detailed are these processes that at every stage, the intervention of “super-regulators” is essential to control the whole system that maintain order and accelerate events. These super-regulating chemicals in the human body are enzymes.
Every living cell contains thousands of enzymes, each of which performs its own tasks, such as assisting with the copying of DNA, breaking down foodstuffs and producing energy from them, and constructing chains of compounds from simple molecules.
Enzymes are produced by mitochondria inside each cell. Large parts of enzymes consist of proteins, the rest of are vitamins and vitamin-like substances. Were it not for these enzymes, none of our functions, from the simplest to the most complex, could take place, or else would occur so slowly as to stop altogether. In either case, the result would be the same—death. We could not speak, eat, digest, see or even breathe– in short, we could not live.
Enzymes’ most important tasks are to initiate, halt and accelerate various chemical reactions in the body. As the cells perform their functions, the chemicals inside them must react accordingly. Higher temperatures are needed to initiate most chemical reactions. Yet such high temperature could pose a danger to living cells, causing them injury or death. The solution to this dilemma lies in enzymes.
An obvious miracle of creation, enzymes manage to initiate or accelerate chemical reactions even in the absence of high temperature, yet as catalysts, they do not enter into—or are themselves changed—by these reactions. Take one example from your daily life of how enzymes accelerate the processes taking place within your body: Thanks to an enzyme involved in the removal of carbon dioxide from the blood as you inhale, you do not suffocate. An enzyme known as anhydrase accelerates the process of cleansing carbon dioxide by a factor of 10 million times! At this speed, the anhydrase can transform 36 million molecules every minute.
The Body’s Rapid and Economical Production Vehicles
Enzymes permit vital reactions to take place as quickly as possible, and also to exploit the body’s energy in the most efficient way. If you compare the human body to a factory, with the many enzymes working within its cells as various means of production, no source of energy would be able to run with that factory. Because the level of electricity needed to power trillions of machines, of 2,000 different types, all working perfectly at such high speeds would be enormous. In a laboratory environment, therefore, an exceedingly high level of heat and energy are needed in order to carry out even a simple reaction in the cell.
However, the cell’s working enzymes carry out their tasks silently and faultlessly in the relatively low heat from the body and with the energy they obtain from nutrients. Just one of these characteristics is sufficient to show how enzymes have been specially designed to make every reaction occurring place in the body perfect yet completely efficient.
Even as you read these lines, a large number of enzymes are controlling reactions taking place throughout your body and providing the nourishment and energy your cells need to stay healthy and functioning. Even though a person has no knowledge of everything that is happening inside his body, enzymes are not only aware of it, but also intervene in all processes in a most vital and accurate manner.
Moreover, every enzyme accelerates specific chemical reactions in the body. No enzyme does the tasks of another, nor makes a mistake in
performing its own, because each enzyme is specially formulated for performing its own task.
For example, while a large number of enzymes can be effective in fluids with a neutral pH, those enzymes charged with digesting foodstuffs in the stomach can work effectively only under a highly acidic environment. Again, saliva contains the enzyme amylase, which breaks starch down into maltose and accompanies food along the esophagus, but it is neutralized when it reaches the acidic environment in the stomach. But once it arrives there, in any case, its work is done. 1
Enzymes’ Lock-and-Key Compatibility
The molecular shapes of enzymes are completely in conformity with whatever substance they are designed to act upon. Each enzyme—and the substance it will affect by combining with it—fit together precisely in a three-dimensional complex geometry. The way enzymes detect the substance they match, then head towards and combine with it is exceedingly deliberate behavior. Moreover, enzymes resemble conscious hunters, in that they lie in wait, making a shelter for themselves to hide in, where they remain ready to join with their appropriate substance.
Each one is in the right place that matches its design and characteristics. They avoid environments in which they might be harmed or become ineffective.
The way they assume the responsibility of initiating or accelerating reactions is a matter worth reflecting on. Unless some agent is present to prevent them, various enzymes will constantly initiate and accelerate all of the various chemical reactions in the body. This could eventually lead to over-production of particular proteins or certain damaging imbalances within the cell. And so, it is the cell itself that regulates the enzymes’ activity. When the cell decides an enzyme to halt in its actions, it distracts it with an extraordinary act of conscious planning. To do so, it sends to the enzyme a substance similar to the one it normally combines with, and the enzyme attaches to this substitute instead.
Therefore, this “imitative” substance keeps the enzyme occupied and for a while, forestalls it from unwanted activity.
In order to snare the enzyme, however, this imitation substance must also compete with its genuine counterpart. This inhibition of the enzyme is therefore known as a competitive inhibitor. By means of this method, enzyme activities are thus halted until such time as whatever substance is produced as a result of the reaction triggered by the enzyme falls below a specific level.
This information is not to be read once and then forgotten. First of all, it will be useful to realize that proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins composed of unconscious atoms are making the calculations, taking the decisions and implementing the plans just described, and not trained human beings with consciousness and a sense of responsibility. The cell determines the amount of substance produced, as if were doing a control of inventory. And when it decides that production needs to be halted for a while, it implements an exceedingly sophisticated procedure in order to do so.
How the cell produces the imitation substance to occupy the enzyme and releases it at just the proper time is highly planned behavior.
Because if these imitation substances always existed in the cell at all times, they would then also halt production by distracting enzymes when they’re most urgently required. But the cells’ timing is always perfectly accurate. Such an organized, intelligent form of behavior that is performed in sequence, one after the other, by molecules too small to be seen with the naked eye, is just one of the countless signs of the superior nature of God’s creation. Obviously, these apparently conscious substances behave under our Lord’s command.
Scientists Reject Evolutionist Claims of Chance
As more and more details emerge about the structure of enzymes, proteins and other similar structures, the invalidity of the theory of evolution becomes even more apparent. These structures in the micro-world lead scientists, willingly or otherwise, to accept the fact that there is a flawless design in life.
One such scientist is the microbiologist Malcolm Dixon:
Every minute the enzyme system does what chemists working a full shift cannot. Could anyone believe that naturally occurring enzymes became aware of themselves and hundreds of their counterparts as the result of chance? Enzymes and enzyme systems are touchstones of the same genetic mechanism. The more advanced research is carried out, the more detailed a design emerges. 2
Enzymes’ structure is too complex to have emerged by chance—a fact that is expressed in the famous biochemist Michael Pitman’s probability calculations:
As we know, there are some 1080 atoms in the universe and 1017 seconds have gone by since the Big Bang. Two thousand basic enzymes are essential if life is to survive. The chances of a single enzyme coming into being by chance are greater than 1020. The chances of them all emerging as the result of chance is 10 40000. Even if we think of the whole universe as an organic soup it is still impossible for such a minute probability to come about. 3
As these scientists have said, it is impossible for even a single enzyme to form spontaneously by chance. Yet 50 “pre-enzymes” work together to produce a single enzyme. Yet another enzyme requires nine different other enzymes before it can synthesize a single amino acid. This raises a very difficult question for any reasonable scientist: How did the first enzyme come into existence in the absence of the others? This is a question for which evolutionists can never provide an answer.
In addition to the problems posed by enzymes’ chemical production, they have another extraordinary feature: Once enzymes form, they can easily dissipate again or become passive unless just the right conditions are maintained. In other words, they cease to function until and unless they are needed.
In short, to enable any single enzyme to function, all the other requisite enzymes, cells, systems and structures have to be already in place, in full working order. So how did the first enzyme come into being? The answer is obvious. Almighty God, the flawless Creator, created every living thing and its cells in one single moment, together with all their necessary enzymes and proteins. This fact is revealed in a verse from the Qur’an as follows:
O man! What has deluded you in respect of your Noble Lord? He Who created you and formed you and proportioned you and assembled you in whatever way He willed. (Qur’an, 82:6-8)
(1) Harun Yahya, The Miracle of Protein, Istanbul, Vural Publishing, March 2001.
(2) Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution, London, River Publishing, 1984, p.144.