THE CREATION AND EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: PART NINE
We have reached a point in our discussion of the creation/evolution controversy where we are able to begin drawing some conclusions based on the dynamics and data we have thus far examined. Before we do this, however, we need to consider some additional research recently provided by biologist Michael J. Behe, in his 2007 published book entitled, The Edge of Evolution, The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. As you may recall from essay number six in this series, we examined Mr. Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity as discussed in his first book, Darwin’s Black Box, published in 1996.
The concept of irreducible complexity postulates that the structures that make up living organisms are made up of parts, any one of which if missing, would result in that structure being non-functional and therefore of no value to the organism. Thus, living organisms are seen as made up of irreducibly complex structures, that is, structures that cannot be less complex than what they are if they are to be of functional value to the organism.
Since Darwinian evolution sees all living organisms gradually developing over eons of time through random incremental changes occurring in organic material, irreducibly complex structures would have had to develop as a result of their parts gradually coming into existence over time and forming into irreducible complexities of specific structures. Mathematical probability studies have shown such randomly produced irreducible complexities to be impossible. Even if such gradual development of the parts of irreducible complexities did occur, they would, in most cases, be of no value on their own and would disappear before being combined to form irreducible complexities.
It is therefore believed by creationists that since irreducible complexities must be present in order for living organisms to develop, it is utterly impossible that such organisms would come into existence through Darwinian processes. In his new book Michael Behe takes the concept of irreducible complexity to the next level in demonstrating the presence of such complexity at the molecular level.
A SECOND LOOK AT THE CILIA:
In installment six of this series, we summarized Mr. Behe’s discussion from his first book of the hair-like structures on the surface of cells called cilia that move fluid across the surface of cells and help move a cell from one place to another. To review; cilia are made up of nine pairs of microtubules (long thin flexible rods) which encircle two single microtubules. The outer microtubules are connected to each other by a structure called a nexin linker. Each microtubule has a motor protein structure called a dynein which attaches to one microtubule and has an arm that reaches over and grabs the dynein of another microtubule and pushes it down. These two rods start to slide lengthwise in relation to each other. The nexin linkers, which start as loose rope like structures, get stretched and become tight. As the dynein pushes farther and farther, it begins to bend the hair-like structure and then pushes the other way to bend it back. This is how you get the wave like motion of cilia.
According to evolutionary theory, the parts that make up the cilia would have had to gradually come into existence through small incremental structural changes taking place over a long period of time. The problem is that unless the rods, linkers and motor proteins, along with the many other parts of the cilia are all present at the came time, you don’t have working cilia. You don’t even have cilia. Cilia, by definition, are complete complex structures that include rods, linkers, dyneins and a great deal more. These individual parts have function only in combination with each other or in combination with parts associated with other structures where they form different irreducible complexities. In any given structure, all parts have to be present at the same time. Using the evolutionary model, such parts would all have to “find each other” at the same time to be of value in producing a specific structure. Probability calculations have shown this to be an impossible accomplishment.
As mentioned in installment six of this series, evolutionists have attacked Michael Behe’s statement that “any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional." Mr. Behe is essentially saying that, in the case of cilia, the individual parts have no function of their own. By having no function of their own, natural selection could not have chosen them as natural selection is seen as only choosing functional parts. Evolutionists have identified functionality for several of the parts of cilia in other areas of cellular structures where not all the parts that make up cilia are present. Therefore it is believed that natural selection could have brought about a combining of preexisting functional parts in forming the cilia. While this is a legitimate criticism of Behe’s approach, it does nothing to show how all the necessary parts of the cilia or any other structure could come together at one time. Evolution has not provided any evidence that such a thing can happen.
The story doesn’t stop here, however. As discussed in Mr. Behe’s latest book, in looking at the cilia of the single-celled algae Chlamydomonas through a high powered microscope, it was discovered that moving up one side and down the other side of the cilia were a series of “bumps.” Further study of theses bumps revealed they are the machinery that builds and maintains the cilia. If a cilium is cut off an algae cell, another one will be generated in an hour or so by this machinery. This machinery operates throughout the lifetime of the cilia and routinely brings in new copies of cilia components while removing old material. In a several hour period, over eighty different kinds of proteins are exchanged. There are motor proteins responsible for carrying particles up and down the cilium and for a variety of other cilium functions. It has been demonstrated that the proper maintenance of cilia is very important to the function of an organism. For example, a genetic mutation of one of the proteins in the cilium machinery can cause cilia to lack a certain part resulting in the cilium not working and causing infertility and chronic sinusitis in human males.
As already covered, the cilia must have all its parts present at the same time in order to work in a beneficial manner. The parts of cilia have several hundred proteins. All these proteins must be present at the same time in order for the parts of the cilia to be properly assembled. This type of complexity is true of all life. Therefore, we have irreducible complexity not only of the parts of the cilia but also of the molecular components that produce the parts. In order for cilia to be made and be maintained, its molecular structure must also be in a state of irreducible complexity. All its molecular components must be present at the same time and in a particular configuration in order for cilia to be made, exist and function. Mathematical probability studies have demonstrated that this kind of simultaneous accumulation of specific components could not be achieved through random mutation and natural selection.
Random mutation and natural selection have no conscious goal. There is no focus in the random expression of genetic material. Mathematically, there are so many directions molecular components could travel that the probability of just the right ones randomly coming together to facilitate a specific irreducible complexity is mathematically impossible. The existence and necessity of irreducible complexities basically negates the Darwinian process of gradual development of molecular structures and their derivatives.
Proteins have been found to have complex shapes and must fit into the shapes of other proteins to make possible the working of cellular machinery. Therefore, proteins work together to facilitate a particular result. It has been determined that nearly every major process that takes place in a cell is facilitated by an assembly of ten or more protein molecules interacting with additional assemblies of protein molecules. Therefore, the cell is a virtual factory of interacting assembly line workers all needing to be simultaneously present to complete a task. Such required synergy of activity shows the impossibility of all this coming about through unintelligent, random and aimless processes.
DNA AND CELLULAR INTELLIGENCE:
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the primary information carrying molecule in the genetic material of cells. DNA provides the blueprint for the creation and maintenance of cells. This blueprint, however, must be read by cellular machinery in order to be utilized. On the other hand, cellular machinery is produced as a result of information contained in DNA. Without DNA we don’t get cellular machinery and without cellular machinery DNA cannot be read to produce the machinery. Therefore, DNA and cellular machinery are co-dependant. They must be present at the same time. They cannot exist independently and be of any value. One could not have evolved from the other. Let’s take a look at an example of this interaction between DNA and cellular machinery.
A critical first step in the making of cellular proteins is the production of three different types of cellular machines called RNA (ribonucleic acid). The first type is messenger RNA (mRNA), the second is ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and the third is transfer RNA (tRNA). Messenger RNA carries information from the DNA blueprint as to how proteins are to be synthesized. The ribosomal RNA translates this information into a protein molecule and the transfer RNA carries individual amino acids to sites where new proteins are being formed. Without the presence of DNA, these three RNA types could not be formed as the information for their construction is in DNA. In order for this information to be utilized, however, it must be carried and translated by the very RNA molecules for which it is providing information. Without DNA information the RNA doesn’t form. Without the RNA molecules the DNA information can’t be processed. Both had to appear at the same time.
The above described process is only a small portion of what is involved in producing cellular proteins. Proteins are the foundation of living organisms. Making proteins is a very complex process involving many dynamics that must all be present at the same time in order for the process to work. This process begins with the expression of information contained in a cells DNA. This information is in the form of coded language. The simplest bacteria have DNA code consisting of around a million words with each word consisting of three letters from the four-letter genetic alphabet. The coded language of DNA is the intelligence behind the creation of the molecules of life. Evolutionists speculate that this intelligence began millions of years ago due to random forces within physical atoms and sub-atomic particles somehow coming together to facilitate an information system which led to the creation of life.
We know from the whole of human experience that design, development, and creation of physical things result from the expression of human intelligence. The physical things of mans civilization can all be traced back to the utilization of human intelligence. Twenty-first century man has produced information systems that are extraordinary in there ability to sort information and do useful work. All these systems are the result of man applying his intelligence to the design, development and creation of such systems. To postulate that the design, development and creation of something as complex as life, and the intelligence that life manifests, can be traced back to non-intelligent physical elements of the universe is totally unreasonable.
CONCLUSIONS REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF LIFE:
My purpose in writing this series of essays was to carefully and objectively examine the evidence presented by both evolutionists and creationists as to their positions on origins. My goal was to identify where the preponderance of evidence lies. As discussed in the first essay of this series, there is serious dissonance between the Biblical account of origins and that postulated by evolutionists and much of the scientific community. In reviewing the evidence for the origin of life, the evidence for life on earth occurring as a result of intelligent pre-existing life is much stronger than the evidence for life having appeared from the fortuitous activity of non-intelligent, inorganic materials. This conclusion is based on several key considerations as previously discussed in detail in this series and herein summarized.
As expressed above, the postulation that intelligence, as seen in DNA, and therefore life, was originally generated by non-intelligence is an unreasonable conclusion. There is absolutely no evidence to reach such a conclusion. All of human experience shows the existence of life to be traceable to preexisting life. There is no model to suggest life coming into existence from non-life. Science is often defined as the branch of inquiry that provides validity by demonstrating that some event can be repeated over and over again. That being the case, it is absolutely scientific to conclude that life can only come from pre-existing life as this event has been successfully repeated trillions of times. On the other hand, it is absolutely unscientific to conclude that life can come from non-life as this has never been demonstrated to occur. This makes biogenesis an absolute law and makes abiogenesis utter nonsense. See essay five in this series for a detailed discussion of biogenesis versus abiogenesis.
Irreducible complexity provides powerful evidence against the idea that components of living organisms came into existence gradually though incremental structural changes occurring over millions of years. It has been demonstrated at both the cellular and more advanced developmental stages of living organisms that various components must all be present at the same time in order for a particular structure to work and be of utility to the organism as a whole. Darwinian evolution, which stresses gradual development through genetic mutation and natural selection, cannot account for this requirement of living organisms. The need for individual components to be all present at the same time speaks loudly in favor of intelligent design being responsible for the development of such components. See essay number six for a detailed discussion of irreducible complexity.
At the level of human invention we see irreducible complexity as a necessary dynamic time and time again. The whole of human experience reveals the need for components of structures to all be present at the same time in order for the structure to work as intended. All this occurs as a result of the application of human intelligence. The greater the complexity of material structures the greater the degree of intelligence that is usually required.
In his first book, Michael Behe gives the example of a mousetrap having to have all its parts at the same time in order to function as a mousetrap. A mousetrap, like many other examples we could give, had a designer who determined what was needed to make a functional piece of equipment. Without its various parts all being present at the same time the mousetrap does not work. This same dynamic is seen with living organisms. Just as the mousetrap required intelligent design, so it is reasonable to conclude that the irreducible parts of living organisms had intelligent design. In all of human experience, we do not see things coming into existence fortuitously. Intelligent design and development is everywhere. While some may argue that fortuitous events such as accidents and storms happen all the time, even here we see previously established laws in action such as gravity, inertia etc. which show intelligent design. Therefore, based on repeatable observance of intelligent design at work at the human level in producing irreducible complexities, it is scientific to conclude that the irreducible complexities of life came to be as the result of intelligent design. On the other hand, it is quite unscientific to believe that life evolved from non-intelligence.
In essay five of this series we discussed the issue of how life developed on planet earth. Evolution sees life gradually developing from simple to complex forms. Therefore evolution requires there be no reproductive barriers. All organisms must be able to cross breed as failure to do so would stop the evolutionary process. What we find, however, is that reproductive limitation has been found at all levels of biological organisms. Organisms can interbreed freely within certain perimeters. As they step outside those perimeters, they produce sterile offspring, offspring that revert back to their own species or offspring that are increasingly feebler and simply die out. It has been found that even within species, as more varieties (subspecies) are produced, the varieties become weaker as the gene pool becomes more and more spread out. The exact opposite of this process is required for evolution. Evolution requires increasing strength of the gene pool to facilitate movement from less to more complex development. This is not what is seen in nature.
This reality directly opposes the idea that organisms have evolved from simple to complex. Reproductive barriers would prevent such evolution. It is therefore apparent that living organisms did not evolve but were intelligently designed to propagate within certain reproductive boundaries. The existence of reproductive boundaries suggests intelligent design, development and creation of complete organisms as opposed to their gradual development over eons of time. All indications are that a certain number of kinds of organisms were created with the ability to freely interbreed within their kinds. This interbreeding has produced and continues to produce the great variety of plant and animal organisms we see today and throughout earth’s history. The claim that species evolve into new species (macro evolution) is still being studied by this author and will be addressed in a future addendum to this series.
THE FOSSIL RECORD:
Evolutionists see the fossil record as providing evidence for the gradual development of living organisms. In reality we see the fossil record providing evidence for the design of completely developed organisms at all levels of complexity. The fossil record does not show a gradual, incremental movement from simple to complex but shows completely developed organisms throughout the sedimentary strata.
Furthermore, organisms thought to be less complex are found to have very complex structures. Gradual transition of organisms from simple to complex would have left evidence of such transitions. Yet clearly defined incremental, transitional stages showing species to species evolution are not found in the fossil record. The fossil record shows completely designed organisms. While varieties within species are certainly apparent, these varieties do not reflect incremental development of species into other species. They simply show variation within species. When examining evolutionist claims that transition stages have been found such as with Eocene mammals evolving into whales, it becomes evident that we are looking at comparative anatomy which is much stronger evidence for design than for evolution. Nowhere do we find in the fossil record evidence of the small incremental developmental structures of living organisms that evolution theory demands.
Since the fossil record shows millions of completely developed organisms, it is reasonable to believe that at some point in earth’s history there was design and creation of classes of organisms which were given the ability to reproduce within certain biological parameters and produce the tremendous variety of life forms seen in the fossil record and on the earth today. The Genesis account of organisms being created “after their kind” is a virtual scientific statement of fact. As mentioned above, a cornerstone of science is the ability to repeat an event over and over again to establish evidence for its validity. In looking at the dynamics of living organisms, it becomes readily apparent that there are basic kinds in both the plant and animal kingdoms from which the great variety of organisms have developed. This is found to be evident in the fossil record and the world of currently living organisms. The continuous repetition of organisms reproducing within the parameters of their kind is great testimony to the Genesis account. This author will continue to examine this issue and provide updates in future addendum's to this series.
PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE:
Reaching conclusions as to the origin of life, as is true in any field of study, is all about establishing preponderance of evidence. In this series of essays, we have examined the evidence offered by both the evolutionist and the creationist as to the origin of life on planet earth. We looked at the fossil record, comparative anatomy, comparative embryology and blood types and the concept of speciation. We examined mutation theory, natural selection and the concept of irreducible complexity. We reviewed findings of paleontologists and anthropologists as to the development of man. We looked at radio-metric dating as it pertains to determining the age of organic material. We examined the concepts of biogenesis and abiogenesis. Finally, we addressed DNA and the issue of intelligence found within the cell. If you review all this material, you will find that the proposition that life originated from non-life and developed through random activity of molecules over eons of time simple is not supported by the evidence.
Instead, the evidence clearly points to biological life originating from preexisting life having great intelligence and power to design, develop and create. It must be pointed out, however, that this evidence does not necessarily establish the identity of this designer. The identity of this designer must be established through examination of the claims made by religion and therefore this becomes a philosophical/theological issue. This writer believes the designer is the God identified within the Christian theological system. For the reasons I take this position, I refer the reader to my series entitled, “An Examination of the Reliability of Biblical Scripture,” found elsewhere on this website.
Having established that life is the result of intelligent design and a powerful creator, it logically follows that the physical universe is also the result of intelligent design and great creative power. As stated above, all human experience demonstrates that things don’t come into existence fortuitously. There is always intelligence to be identified in connection with existence. It is, therefore, unscientific to postulate that the universe sprang fourth by chance without any intelligence. Even if one accepts the Big Bang hypothesis, it is against all human experience to postulate that the Big Bang occurred without intelligence being behind its facilitation. I therefore must conclude that just as the evidence discussed above shows life was designed and created by a powerful and intelligent creator, some of this same evidence shows the physical earth and universe was created by an intelligent and supremely powerful creator as well. How this was accomplished and in what time frame will be the focus of our next and final installment of this series.