Tag Archives: Origin of Species

Evolution: Complex Functions

In his day, Darwin’s ideas were revolutionary and could not be falsified with the vast amounts of scientific data that are so easily available today. Darwin admitted that there remained great gaps in his theory of transitional species when he said,

“But just in proportion as this process of extermination [natural selection] has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record” (Darwin, 1998: 406).

However, he believed that these gaps would be compensated for after enough scientific data had been gathered. Sadly enough, that hope has failed and Humanity is left with even more perplexing questions regarding human evolution. Michael Behe, Ph.D. and Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University, has embarked on an in-depth study of the biochemical processes that regulate the human body. He has summarized some of his work in his book entitled, Darwin’s Black Box. The term “black box;” has effectively been used to illustrate his point of the many assumptions Darwin made without examining the fine details. A “black box” is used to represent a process where the box receives input and produces output, but the contents and workings inside the box are unknown. This symbolic representation is often used in engineering when only the input and output are needed. However, when dealing with the science of evolutionary processes, the complete understanding down to the smallest molecule is required to sufficiently support the notion that life has evolved through eons of time to the present complexity demonstrated in the human body. In the 1800′s, Darwin and his associates were unable to investigate these details of bodily functions, but since the invention of the electron microscope, these details have been unmasked. For brevity, two examples of the human molecular operations at the cellular level will be examined which clearly run the theories of neo-Darwinian evolution aground. They are the minimum requirements for the functionality of the human cilium and the clotting of the human blood.
Behe first introduces his argument regarding irreducibly complex systems and minimal function with the following definition.

“By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functionality. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly… by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. An irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to Darwinian evolution. Since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on” (Behe, 1996:39).

Behe continues with the distinction between necessary and sufficient conditions required for a functioning system. An irreducibly complex system is necessary to perform a given function, but it is not sufficient. The materials, parts, components, etc. that make up the irreducibly complex system may be available in different qualities, sizes, properties, but only a precise combination of these components may merit a sufficient condition for system functionality.

“In order to be a candidate for natural selection a system must have minimal function: the ability to accomplish a task in physically realistic circumstances… but even complex machines that do what they are supposed to do may not be of much use… Nonetheless, minimal function is critical in the evolution of biological structures… Irreducibly complex systems are nasty roadblocks for Darwinian evolution; the need for minimal function greatly exacerbates the dilemma” (Behe, 1996:45-46).

To summarize, a system is functional if it meets the necessary condition that it contains all the irreducibly complex components and it meets the sufficient condition that it performs the minimal function. After examining the following biochemical examples, Darwin’s suggestion that “[if] it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Darwin, 1998:232) becomes reality.
The human cilium “is a structure that, crudely put, looks like a hair and beats like whip” (Behe, 1996:59). The cilium is used to transport liquid over the surface of a stationary cell, or when free to move acts as an oar to propel the cell forward. This cellular operation has a very complicated and detailed structure. As space does not permit a thorough biochemical explanation in this article, the reader is encouraged to research this structure separately. Behe sums up the problem in the following.

“Ciliary motion certainly requires microtubules; otherwise, there would be no strands to slide. Additionally it requires a motor, or else the microtubules of the cilium would lie stiff and motionless. Furthermore, it requires linkers to tug on the neighboring strands, converting the sliding motion into a bending motion, and preventing the structure from falling apart. All of these parts are required to perform one function: ciliary motion… The complexity of the cilium… is inherent in the task itself… The question is, how did the cilium arise?” (Behe, 1996:65-65).

This structure and system as described by Behe is an irreducibly complex system with minimal function. After performing a thorough investigation as to the possible evolutionary steps which resulted in the formation of this system, Behe concludes that no one knows how this system came to be through evolutionary steps. If only one part of this system is missing, the system is functionless and there is no advantage or disadvantage in the remaining parts. Thus, nature has nothing to select to bring about this ciliary system. There has been an enormous increase in the knowledge of how the cilium works, but many people have falsely assumed that if they don’t know how it evolved, surely someone else does. This, in fact, is not the case. The evolution of the cilium is a mystery to science. No one can suggest even a possible route of development, much less demonstrate scientifically plausible processes. This swimming machine is but one of the many biochemical machines for which evolution offers no explanation as to origins. If Darwin had been aware of these drastic objections to his theory, he surely would have questioned the validity of it. The cilium is not an organ, per say, in the human body—as organ development was the perspective Darwin had—but is a very small and complicated machine available in many cells that make up the organs.
The clotting mechanism in the human blood stream is a breathtaking operation to study and difficult to fully grasp. There are so many intertwined chemicals and reactions that constitute a fully functioning blood clotting mechanism. The reader is again encouraged to research the blood clotting process in the human body separately for a thorough comprehension of its complexity. Behe states that,

“…when a person suffers a cut it ordinarily bleeds for only a short time before a clot stops the flow; the clot eventually hardens, and the cut heals over… Biochemical investigation, however, has shown that the blood clotting is a very complex, intricately woven system consisting of a score of interdependent protein parts. The absence of, or significant defects in, any one of a number of the components causes the system to fail: blood does not clot at a proper time or at the proper place” (Behe, 1996:78).

If the blood does not clot in the correct place, a person may suffer severe problems in blood supply to other parts of the body; if the clot does not occur at the correct time, a person may continue to hemorrhage and death may result. Either of these failures has a detrimental effect on the human body and if the blood clotting mechanism were anything but fully functional, there would be no means in which nature could select its gradual progression to its present state. Blood clotting is an irreducibly complex system. If any of the components involved (i.e. fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, proaccelerin and their many chemical forms) is missing, the system ceases to function. Gradual progression through incremental steps is impossible as far as neo-Darwinian theory is concerned. “There are other ways to stop blood flow from wounds, but those ways are not step-by-step precursors to the clotting cascade. For example, the body can constrict blood vessels near a cut to help stanch blood flow” (Behe, 1996:86). On blood clotting, Behe concludes with the fittingly remarks.

“The discussion is meant simply to illustrate the enormous difficulty (indeed, the apparent impossibility) of a problem that has resisted the determined efforts of a top-notch scientist [Russell Doolittle, Harvard Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at the Center for Molecular Genetics, University of California] for four decades. Blood coagulation is a paradigm of the staggering complexity that underlies even apparently simple bodily processes. Faced with such complexity beneath even simple phenomena, Darwinian theory falls silent” (Behe, 1996:97).

These two examples of biochemical challenges to the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution are a mere fragment of the total volume of biochemical irreducibly complex machines, which possess highly specialized components to perform the minimal functions required by the organism. There is absolutely no concrete evidence for gradual progression of these irreducibly complex systems—from the base elements to the current specialized forms—and no scientist has been able to explain, on scientific terms, the means by which natural selection, as described by Darwin, could have acted on the initial system to perfect it to its present finely-tuned state.
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Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box. New York, NY: Touchstone Rochefeller Center, 1996.

Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. Modern Library ed. Toronto, Ontario: Random House of Canada Limited, 1998.
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Evolution: Overview & Thermodynamics

Overview

For decades, humanity has embraced the theories of human evolution as scientific fact; however, there have been many scientific advances and discoveries, which have led to an alternate solution to the question of Homo sapiens’ origin. This theory of origin is the belief that humans are created beings, fashioned from the dust of the earth by an Intelligent Designer as described in the Genesis record. Modern research and development in scientific knowledge has revealed undeniable evidence that disproves neo-Darwinian theories of evolution through natural selection and variation among species.

Human creation can only be supported through a complete and detailed evaluation of the various arguments presented for evolution. Over the past two centuries, from the time of the release of Darwin’s Origin of Species, theories on evolution have bubbled to the surface in many forms. Originally, the mere idea of evolution caused great controversy in the scientific community as the “Great Chain of Being”—the belief that the present earthly state of all living and non-living things was perfect and no species has or ever will change—was the accepted philosophy of life on this planet (Lubenow, 1992: 93-95). This belief in the “Great Chain of Being” is not held by active creationists, today. Genetic variation within species has been observed and has demonstrated microevolution. Macroevolution is the belief that through slow evolutionary processes, species may change into other, more complex species. In the current post-modern world, the neo-Darwinian (macroevolution) theories are taught as scientific principles and the “out-dated” theories of creation science are treated as fiction. The next few postings will explore the fallacies in evolution theory and present the ideas of creation theory as alternate solutions to the human origin problem.

Currently, there are two main streams of scientists investigating the origins of Mankind and the existence of the universe itself. These two streams are the well known and strongly supported evolution scientists and the often-ignored creation scientists. In the evolution science, one tends to support either the Darwinian Theory of Evolution or the Punctuated Equilibrium Theory of Evolution, which comfortably compliments Darwin’s original idea. The Darwinian theory of evolution states that a simple life form originated from a rich broth of primordial organic soup and through natural selection and random mutations, simple life forms developed into more complex species. In his book, The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote “[this] preservation of favorable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest” (Darwin, 1998: 108). Darwin was very strongly opposed to the notion of a creation event, from which all life descended, when he said, “I can entertain no doubt, after the most deliberate study and dispassionate judgment of which I am capable, that the view which naturalists until recently entertained, and which I formerly entertained—namely, that each species has been independently created—is erroneous” (Darwin, 1998: 22).

The punctuated equilibrium theory, as proposed by Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldridge of Harvard, states that the first living organism formed in the same manner, but instead of a gradual incremental development, evolution has occurred in short bursts of increasing complexity. For extended periods of time, all life forms remained unchanged. Then at certain points in the distant past, evolutionary processes affected life on earth in short, quick leaps. Richard Milton writes that according to Gould and Eldridge, “This [theory] would account for the lack of transitional fossils. The difficulty with punctuated equilibrium is that it is wholly speculative and has been introduced simply to account for the lack of fossils that ought to exist in the neo-Darwinist theory” (Milton, 1997: 214). This theory fails to provide a logical framework, based on scientific principles, to explain the available scientific data and, therefore, still demands the question, “How did evolution happen and where is the evidence?”

A contorted view of the creation model in the 1800’s—the Great Chain of Being—and a lack of scientific knowledge available during this time provided the perfect breeding grounds for Darwin’s ideas on evolution through natural selection. However, in the post-modern world (1950 to present), much has been learned in the area of evolution and creation theory, microbiology, fossil records, etc. that has been included with the scientific evidence, which strongly disproves Darwin’s original theory and offers much support for the creation model. The Darwinian theory of evolution was so well-seeded in that era, that to uproot the false ideas on which it was based, a paradigm shift from Natural Selection to Creation is required—a revolutionary new way of viewing all the available scientific data. Milton writes, “The power of such a paradigm [science with respect to evolution], says Kuhn, is so great that some scientists will continue to believe it even in the face of contradictory evidence” (Milton, 1997: 185).

On the other hand, creation scientists branch off in three directions, two of which conform to the neo-Darwinian theories mentioned above. Some hold to the belief that the universe was brought into existence through vast amounts of time under strong influence of an Intelligent Being, with no necessary correlation to the God defined in the Biblical scriptures. Still others push for the God of the Bible who directed evolution over eons of time, which is described symbolically in the Genesis account of the six-day creation story. Finally, there still remain those individuals, including scientists in every field of study, who apply the scientific principles to evolutionary data to champion their belief in a created universe, as described in a literal six-day creation account in Genesis followed in a later era by a worldwide flood. The defense of this latter theory and the falsification of the human evolutionary theory are the goals of the next few postings.

One may, in fact, question the very science of evolution theory. Albeit, creation science has been scrutinized in the same manner; however, the principles and laws of science strongly support the creation theory after one accepts an initial act of creation designed by an Intelligent Creator. To believe in the theory of evolution, one must continually deny the very principles of science and scramble for fragments of evidence to support the belief.

Thermodynamics

There are fundamental flaws affiliated with the neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory. The Laws of Thermodynamics blatantly deny the very possibility of evolution. These laws have never been proven false—hence the term “law”—and no evolutionary evidence has been presented in favour of a temporary reversal of any one of these laws. Referring to the collection of articles in Thermodynamics and the Development of Order edited by Emmett L. Williams, each law shall be stated in order of importance as it relates to evolution and shall be explored on evolutionary principles.

The Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics was developed after the first three, but is fundamental to the science of thermodynamics. It states that “two systems in thermal equilibrium with a third system are in thermal equilibrium with each other” (Williams, 1981: 7). This law as well as the third does not pose much of a problem to evolution, but has been included for completeness. The Third Law of Thermodynamics states that “As a system approaches absolute zero, all processes cease and the entropy of the system approaches a minimum value.” (Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermodynamics).

The First Law of Thermodynamics “states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed…[It] asserts that all types of energy—heat, mechanical, chemical, electrical, etc.—are quantitatively conserved in conversions from one kind to another” (Williams, 1981: 1). The first law accounts for all energy changes in a system according to the following relation. The total energy of a system is the sum of the system’s heat content and the amount of work done on or by the system. The first law clearly states that the creation work, as described in the literal Genesis account, is complete and is not a continuing process through to the present day. “Only processes of conservation, preservation, and maintenance are scientifically possible” (Williams, 1981: 13). To hold to the theory of evolution, one must support the notion that creation operations are at work today. Now, one may contest that the quantity of matter and energy is fixed, but it is being used in different ways as evolution progresses. One must then be concerned with the possibility of the gathering and organizing of energy and matter and must look to the second law.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that “[the] total amount of entropy in nature is increasing” (Williams, 1981: 6). Entropy is defined as “the energy per degree of absolute temperature that cannot be recovered as work” (Williams, 1981: 6). In other words, all operations tend toward maximum randomness. If a gas is released in a room, it will disperse to fill the total volume of the room and give rise to the most random location of each gas molecule. The first and second laws go hand-in-hand and assert that wasted energy cannot be used again—it becomes unavailable, but is not destroyed. “All natural processes occur spontaneously. It is possible to force some processes in a reverse direction; however, once the system is released from this force, it will proceed spontaneously in the natural direction toward equilibrium”—maximum randomness (Williams, 1981: 17). Aging and wearing out processes as observed in nature—the human body, vegetation, animals, clothing, appliances—demonstrate the progression toward maximum entropy (i.e. the human body dies and decays away to its basic elements). “[Evolution] is an irreversible process which leads to greater variety, to more complex, higher degrees of organization… Either evolution has occurred in spite of the second law, or evolution has not occurred at all” (Williams, 1981: 19). Not one of the thermodynamic laws has ever been proven false and never has there been a natural process which acts in complete reversal of one of these laws. Why should evolutionary theory then be accepted as fact, based on sketchy evidence and in stark denial of the first and second laws of thermodynamics? Clearly, the validity and possibility of even a simple evolutionary process occurring over eons of time is extremely improbable and scientifically unsupported.

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Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. Modern Library ed. Toronto, Ontario: Random House of Canada Limited, 1998.

Lubenow, Marvin L. Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1992.

Milton, Richard. Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 1997.

Wikipedia.org http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermodynamics

Williams, Emmett L. Thermodynamics and the Development of Order. Kansas City, MO: Creation Research Society Books, 1981.

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