Skip to comments.Evolution Is Biologically Impossible
Posted on 06/24/2002 2:56:50 PM PDT by Texaggie79
by Joseph Mastropaolo, Ph.D.*
Institute for Creation Research, PO Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021
Voice: (619) 448-0900 Fax: (619) 448-3469
"Vital Articles on Science/Creation" November 1999
Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved.
Charles Darwin was daydreaming when he wrote that he could visualize "in some warm little pond," with all sorts of salts and electricity, the spontaneous generation of the first living cell.1 Darwin's dream of the magical powers of salts and electricity may have come from his grandfather. Mary Shelley wrote of him in 1831 in her introduction to Frankenstein. "They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin . . . who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion." She goes on to speculate that galvanism (electricity) was the extraordinary means.2All theories need testing, so I bought some vermicelli pasta, kept it in salt water in a test tube for a month, and never saw any motion, voluntary or otherwise. I also used a tesla coil to conduct "galvanism" through it to a fluorescent bulb. The bulb lit and the vermicelli eventually began to cook, but never came to life.
"Darwin's bulldog," Thomas Huxley, had a vision of himself on the early earth as "a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from non-living matter."3 In Huxley's day, the cell was blissfully considered simply a blob of protoplasm. Huxley also may have read Mary Shelley's subtitle to Frankenstein, "The Modern Prometheus."2 Prometheus was the Greek mythical Titan, who formed a man of clay, then animated it. This myth may be the earliest reference to abiogenesis, the animation of inorganic materials. In order not to leave that possibility untried, I fashioned a clay man and directed the tesla-coil spark over it to light the bulb. The clay man was not animated.
Evolutionists currently invoke the "primeval soup" to expand the "warm little pond" into a larger venue, the oceans. They aim to spontaneously generate the first cell so they must thicken the salt water with (take a breath) polysaccharides, lipids, amino acids, alpha helixes, polypeptide chains, assembled quaternary protein subunits, and nucleotides, all poised to self-combine into functional cellular structures, energy systems, long-chain proteins and nucleic acids.4Then during an electrical storm, just the right mix of DNA, mRNA, ribosomes, cell membranes and enzymes are envisioned in the right place at the right time and the first cell is thunderbolted together and springs to life.5 That marvelous first cell, the story goes, filled the oceans with progeny competing in incredible polysaccharide, lipid, amino acid, nucleotide, and cannibalistic feasts. The predators thereby thinned the soup to the watery oceans we have today while the prey escaped by mystically transmuting themselves into the current complex animals and plants, or perhaps vice versa because no one was there to record it. We are assured by the disciples of Darwin and Huxley that the "once upon a pond" story to obtain a blob of protoplasm is still sufficient for the spontaneous generation of the cell as we know it today. All demur when asked for evidence. All balk when asked to reverse-engineer a cell in the laboratory in spite of the fact that laboratories rival nature and reverse engineering is orders of magnitude easier than engineering an original design. One wonders why they balk if cell stuff is so easily self-generated and carbon molecules seem to have such an innate tendency to self-combine.
To test simply the alleged self-combining tendency of carbon, I placed one microliter of India (lampblack) ink in 27 ml. of distilled water. The ink streaked for the bottom of the test tube where it formed a dark haze which completely diffused to an even shade of gray in 14 hours. The carbon stayed diffused, not aggregated as when dropped on paper. At this simple level, there is no evidence that the "primeval soup" is anything but fanciful imagination.
In science, the burden of evidence is on the proposer of the theory. So although the evolutionists have the burden of providing evidence for their fanciful tales, they take no responsibility for a detailed account or for any evidence demonstrating feasibility. Contrarily, they go so far as to imply that anyone holding them to the normal requirements of science is feebleminded, deranged, or evil. For example, Professor Richard Dawkins has been quoted as saying, "It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)."6 Instead of taking proper responsibility for the burden of evidence, the evolutionist propagandizes by the intimidation of name calling.
To set a better example, let us take up the evolutionist's burden of evidence to see where it leads. Our first observation is that apparently all functions in a living organism are based largely upon the structures of its proteins. The trail of the first cell therefore leads us to the microbiological geometry of amino acids and a search for the probability of creating a protein by mindless chance as specified by evolution. Hubert Yockey published a monograph on the microbiology, information theory, and mathematics necessary to accomplish that feat. Accordingly, the probability of evolving one molecule of iso-1-cytochrome c, a small protein common in plants and animals, is an astounding one chance in 2.3 times ten billion vigintillion. The magnitude of this impossibility may be appreciated by realizing that ten billion vigintillion is one followed by 75 zeros. Or to put it in evolutionary terms, if a random mutation is provided every second from the alleged birth of the universe, then to date that protein molecule would be only 43% of the way to completion. Yockey concluded, "The origin of life by chance in a primeval soup is impossible in probability in the same way that a perpetual motion machine is impossible in probability."7
Richard Dawkins implicitly agreed with Yockey by stating, "Suppose we want to suggest, for instance, that life began when both DNA and its protein-based replication machinery spontaneously chanced to come into existence. We can allow ourselves the luxury of such an extravagant theory, provided that the odds against this coincidence occurring on a planet do not exceed 100 billion billion to one."8The 100 billion billion is 1020. So Dawkins' own criterion for impossible in probability, one chance in more than 1020, has been exceeded by 50 orders of magnitude for only one molecule of one small protein. Now that Professor Dawkins has joined the ranks of non-believers in evolution, politesse forbids inquiring whether he considers himself "ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked."
Let us proceed to criteria more stringent. For example, Borel stated that phenomena with very small probabilities do not occur. He settled arbitrarily on the probability of one chance in 1050 as that small probability. Again according to this more stringent criterion, we see that evolving one molecule of one protein would not occur by a wide margin, this time 25 orders of magnitude.9
Let us go further. According to Dembski, Borel did not adequately distinguish those highly improbable events properly attributed to chance from those properly attributed to something else and Borel did not clarify what concrete numerical values correspond to small probabilities. So Dembski repaired those deficiencies and formulated a criterion so stringent that it jolts the mind. He estimated 1080 elementary particles in the universe and asked how many times per second an event could occur. He found 1045. He then calculated the number of seconds from the beginning of the universe to the present and for good measure multiplied by one billion for 1025 seconds in all. He thereby obtained 1080 x 1045 x 1025 = 10150 for his Law of Small Probability.9
I have not been able to find a criterion more stringent than Dembski's one chance in 10150. Anything as rare as that probability had absolutely no possibility of happening by chance at any time by any conceivable specifying agent by any conceivable process throughout all of cosmic history. And if the specified event is not a regularity, as the origin of life is not, and if it is not chance, as Dembski's criterion and Yockey's probability may prove it is not, then it must have happened by design, the only remaining possibility.
Now to return to the probability of evolving one molecule of one protein as one chance in 1075, we see that it does not satisfy Dembski's criterion of one chance in 10150. The simultaneous availability of two molecules of one protein may satisfy the criterion, but they would be far from the necessary complement to create a living cell. For a minimal cell, 60,000 proteins of 100 different configurations would be needed.5,10 If these raw materials could be evolved at the same time, and if they were not more complex on average to evolve than the iso-1-cytochrome c molecule, and if these proteins were stacked at the cell's construction site, then we may make a gross underestimation of what the chances would be to evolve that first cell. That probability is one chance in more than 104,478,296, a number that numbs the mind because it has 4,478,296 zeros. If we consider one chance in 10150 as the standard for impossible, then the evolution of the first cell is more than 104,478,146 times more impossible in probability than that standard.
Reproduction may be called a regularity because billions of people have witnessed billions of new individuals arising that way, and in no other way, for thousands of years. The origin of life was a unique event and certainly not a regularity. Therefore, according to mathematical logicians, the only possibilities left are that life either was generated by chance or by deliberate design. The standard for impossible events eliminated evolution so the only remaining possibility is that life was designed into existence. The probability of the correctness of this conclusion is the inverse of the probability that eliminated evolution, that is, 104,478,296 chances to one.
Although the certainty of design has been demonstrated beyond doubt, science cannot identify the designer. Given a designer with the intelligence to construct a cell and all life forms, it is not logical that he would construct only one cell and leave the rest to chance. The only logical possibility is that the designer would design and build the entire structure, the entire biosphere, to specified perfection. That seems to be as far as science can go.
Life was designed. It did not evolve. The certainty of these conclusions is 104,478,296 (1 followed by 4,478,296 zeros) to one. This evidence suggests a Designer who designed and built the entire biosphere and, for it to function, the entire universe. Primary and secondary sources from history properly provide additional information on the Designer because the biological sciences are not equal to that task.
1 Darwin, F., ed (1888) The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, London: John Murray, vol. 3, p. 18.
2 Shelley, Mary W. (1831) Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, Introduction, p. 9.
3 Huxley, Thomas H. (1870) "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis" in (1968) Collected Essays of Thomas H. Huxley, vol. 8, Discourses Biological and Gelogical, New York: Greenwood Press, p. 256.
4 Behe, Michael J. (1996) Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, New York: Touchstone, pp. 262-268.
5 Denton, Michael (1986) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Bethesda, Maryland: Adler & Adler, p. 263.
6 Johnson, Phillip E. (1993) Darwin On Trial, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, p. 9.
7 Yockey, Hubert P. (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 255, 257.
8 Dawkins, Richard (1996) The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., p. 146.
9 Dembski, William A. (1998) The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 5,209,210.
10 Morowitz, H. J. (1966) "The Minimum Size of Cells" in Principles of Biomolecular Organization, eds. G.E.W. Wostenholme and M. O'Connor, London: J.A. Churchill, pp. 446-459.
* Dr. Mastropaolo is an adjunct professor of physiology for the ICR Graduate School.
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I read part of it, but there were a number of glaring errors that made it obvious that it would be a waste of my time to read any further.
For example, you do not understand Occam's razor. Occam's razor isn't just a nice story, it is a proven theorem of mathematics that started out as a very smart observation. Mathematical proof of Occam's Razor as a correct method for hypothesis selection came centuries after it was originally posited. Since it is a rigorous mathematic construct, your use of it must also be rigorous to be meaningful.
In a nutshell, you egregiously misused the theorem to "prove" your point, but if you understood what the theorem actually says, you would find that it actually shows the opposite of what you were trying to assert. Hint: Occam's Razor has strict criteria for measuring degrees of freedom, which you took liberty to blithely ignore. This kind of weak scholarship is what discredits people in serious debate.
You can start by addressing this point, after which I might point out some other equally bad flaws.
Actually, my source is Michael Behe, a molecular biochemist at Lehigh University, and the author of Darwin's Black Box, a fascinating look at the concept of irreducible complexity. Hardly a moron...
Whether or not he is a moron is up for grabs, but his ideas on "irreducible complexity" and related mathematics are utterly devoid of competence or intelligence. He may make a good sale to the layman, but to a professional mathematician who specializes in fields relevant to what he is talking about it is third-rate garbage. He is neither a credible source nor a competent practitioner of the mathematics he is trying to dabble in.
I've read the entire book. There's not a lot of mathematics in it. He pretty much sticks to his field, which is molecular biochemistry. If you're arguing that your knowledge of mathematics makes you more qualified to talk about evolution than his knowledge of molecular biochemistry, then we can debate that issue separately.
Behe makes compelling arguments (I personally find the blood clotting argument MUCH more interesting than that of the eye, but they're both very powerful).
Actually, if you were to read more carefully:
"Take with you seven of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3. and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth."
I have read your book (just the firsts couple of chapters, actually), and I am highly impressed! I got into a debate with some atheist/materialists on another thread recently ("Atheists Improve Society"), and I wish I had been as articulate as you are in defending the rationality of belief in God.
One main defense atheists and agnostics fall back on is that no matter how deficient, improbable or convoluted their theories become, any attempt to add simplicity and elegance to their world view by talking about Mind (aka 'God') is vehemently rejected by them as 'irrational'. Thus, it is not the viability of their self-constructed theories nor the potency of any set of facts which serves as the chief 'refutation' for them, it is the presumptive arrogance that anything beyond their self-imposed limitations in thinking (again, 'God') is an affront to reason itself, and hence merely the foolish idol of lazy and uncritical minds. Yet, by what presumption is it 'logical' for man, a creature (of God or evolution, take your choice) to assume that he can contain all the mysteries of the universe within the boundaries of his own thoughts? Does DNA contain, in addition to its other subleties, the code to create a human brain capable of comprehending not only the biological processes of life, but the origins of that life, the origins of the universe and the ability to judge with finality that we are indeed Alone in the universe? Could a more intelligent creature than Man ever evolve someday? Obviously so, and it should be self-evident that Man does not represent the ultimate in possible Higher Intelligence. Yet the dogmatic materialists will more readily believe in a super-intelligent race of aliens, for which there is no evidence, than in a supremely intelligent Designer, for which there is plenty of evidence. That evidence being the incredible complexity of life, the sublime nature of human consciousness, and the inability of materialistic science to give a satisfactory account of the origin and purpose of same. But scientists always demand 'positive' proof, and jealously guard their right to remain skeptical, nay to be downright derisive and abusive, when anyone suggests the possibility of Intelligence (of the Divine sort, at least) which just might lie outside the apprehensive grasp of their purely logical cause-and-effect reasoning abilities.
You are confused, tortoise. Occam's Razor says that out of competing theories that explain the known facts equally well, one ought to choose the simpler theory, on the basis that the universe is unlikely to waste time with redundancies and needless complication. Implicit in that notion is the idea of an Intelligent Creator who values elegance in His creation. Outside of the value of simplicity and elegance, there is no way to 'prove' the correctness of equally plausible competing theories.
As it applies to the Creation/Evolution debate, for me this is not a debate of competing theories pitting God's miracles against natural processes, except in regards to the question of blind chance vs. intelligent design. I have about as little respect for religious dogma as I have for scientific dogma. For me, true religion and true science are never dogmatic, and far from being imcompatible, are complementary and necessary to a rational understanding of the universe. Thus, I would hardly endorse a literal interpretation of Genesis, nor deny that natural selection played a role in the growth of biological complexity and diversity. Although I have read only a couple of chapters so far of Raymond's book, I do not find him engaged in this either/or type of thinking that sidetracks most Crevo debates. Rather, he is asking if it is probable and hence reasonable that the complexity of life can be accounted for within the presently understood limits of scientific reasoning. If the answer is that the appearance and advancement of biological life on earth ('evolution' is an unprejudiced sense) is not wholly explainable by cause-and-effect reasoning, then his suggestion of an intelligent Designer is reasonable and cogent. Raymond is not a Bible-thumper (nor am I), he is analyzing the proposed theory (Darwinian evolution, as modified and refined over the past century and a half) against the known facts and asking what is the most reasonable hypothesis about how it came about. Unless and until biological science can provide a working model of how lifeless polypeptide chains form themselves into living DNA, RNA and complex proteins, this will remain a reasonable assumption about the origins of life. But today such working models are glaringly lacking, and scientists engage in their own 'material theology' when they hypothesize primordial swamps, soups of carbon compounds, bolts of lightening and such. Yet the primordial soup appeals to the atheistic mind, not for its plausability, but because the atheist fears and distrusts God, and finds a friendly rapport with unthinking chemical processes and blind chance. But since when does anyone's personal comfort level with competing theories constitute rational grounds for preferring one theory over another. Is this also part of 'Occam's Razor'?
God carefully hides Himself in His creation, for His own reasons. (We could get into an entire discussion on this topic alone!) While life admits of empirical explanations in a piecemeal fashion, let's look at some of the things that science has not explained, so far. Science cannot explain how purely material processes give rise to consciousness -- our ability to turn around and look at and understand the very processes which supposedly account for our entire creation. Nor can science provide the step-by-step mechanism by which life evolved from non-life. Scientists would like to, but wishing and having are not the same thing! Life from non-life, consciousness from non-consciousness, exquisitely intricate design from blind chance -- yet so many would deride the 'irrational' hypothesis of an intelligent Designer! Empirical science proceeds by collecting individual bits of data and synthesizing these into patterns, creating categories and concepts useful for understanding phenomena. Scientific theories are formed based on these complex concepts, using mathematical reasoning, and we (when we work as scientists) do the best we can with these theories to explain what we have observed. Yet science never apprehends the whole, never deals effectively with ontological questions and notions like meaning and purpose. I was a student of Bertrand Russell in my youth, and it is amazing how he simply 'legislates' out of consideration all notions of purpose and meaning in the universe. Well, if you start with the assumption that meaning, purpose (ie. teleology, a concept that has largely fallen out of modern use) are absent in the universe, it is hardly surprising when you arrive at the conclusion that there is no evidence of God.
There comes a point when we, as responsible, rational beings, have to put aside the limits and artificial blinders of science and face the universe with our entire consciousness, neither abandoning nor limiting ourselves to formal mathematics and logic, and fragmented observations of reality. We were created whole, and to the 'whole man', considering himself and the world about him, God has left unmistakable footprints on His creation, though he may seem absent when we seek after Him in the everyday world of sensation and 'common sense'. He made the leaf, but when we analyze the leaf, we find Him not, just an intriguing complexity of structure and process. That does not mean He does not exist! He is leaving clues everywhere, urging us to seek further, to gain more insight, to become more intelligent, in a non-linear way. And I am not expecting scientists to one day discover the evidence of Him, for He is not part of His creation, though present everywhere in it. (Nor do I believe God is of the male gender -- that's just a convenient, and time-honored way of referring to what is essentially a mystery to limited human thought.) God is not a thing to be verified by science, He is the Being that informs all beings, that creates and sustains them. Science will meet God one day when it admits the limits of empirical observation and purely logical, reductionistic modes of thinking. Meanwhile, I will rest comfortably in the understanding that there is a supreme Mind that runs the show, while the dogmatic materialists will continue to engage in a futile effort to explain everything, control everything. Science is limited in scope, while the universe reflects the Infinite variation and subtlety of its Creator.
Yes, in a sense.
Did its blood clot?
No. The first blood was seawater. Simple creatures like sponges and jellyfish still use it today.
(I learned that as a child from the Bell Science film "Hemo the Magnificent", directed by Frank Capra and animated by Walt Disney. Recommended.)
I made a statement: "It is absurd to say that there is no God". You wanted some simple logic to support that statement and I gave it to you. If you want something more complicated then read my book. I certainly do not have time to rewrite it here.
And this is just for one protein. A single cell has about 400 different proteins and a man has something like a trillion cells!!!
No, I was correct the first time. Your view of Occam's Razor is rather pedestrian, and you've simplified it to the point of being meaningless for this discussion.
Occam's Razor has relatively rigid criteria for deciding which of two (or more) hypotheses is "simpler". For the purposes of science, you count degrees of freedom by determining the number of unverifiable premises (or assumptions) required for the construction of the hypothesis. The "simplest" hypothesis is the one with the fewest degrees of freedom. Speciation through evolution only has two premises: natural selection and genomic variation. Both of these are trivially verifiable i.e. to attack this you would have to assert that natural selection doesn't happen or that genomic variation doesn't exist. Because these are verifiable premises, they do not meet the criteria for counting as degrees of freedom. Intelligent Design assumes that an Intelligent Creator must exist for speciation. The existence of an Intelligent Creator with respect to most living things is an unverifiable premise, an therefore counts as a degree of freedom under the criteria set forth by Occam's Razor.
ID has one more degree of freedom as a hypothesis than evolution, and therefore is an inferior hypothesis under Occam's Razor. Note that this doesn't say anything about which hypothesis is correct, only which hypothesis is more rational. It is interesting to also note that there are non-evolutionary hypotheses for speciation that are equally strong as evolution in an Occam's Razor sense, though ID isn't one of them. At the core, this is why ID is not taken seriously in the field of science; it is an inferior hypothesis, and even if evolution was falsified tomorrow (always a possibility), there are other hypotheses out there that are still stronger than ID and would replace evolution as the leading hypothesis. Eliminating evolution doesn't lend credence to ID, and it will never be a competitive hypothesis until it eliminates that pesky degree of freedom it contains.
My question (just one of many many many) still remains. Which evolved first, the eye of increased capacity, or the wiring from the eye to the brain of increased capacity?
Without design feedback, how would an organism derive benefit from more robust "wiring" let's say, if the eye was not equally of increased capacity?
Additionally, how did the mind-bogglingly complex wiring from eye to brain, which man today, with all his technology cannot hope to re-produce, how did this wiring design itself, especially considering that the DNA coding for the wiring had to be "written" before the wiring could be produced -- and it was "written" without the benefit of design feedback?
AND for it to create meaningful evolutionary "progress" it had to occur SIMULTANEOUSLY with advances in the eye design, which also had to come from DNA coding which also, SIMULTANEOUSLY had to be "written", ALSO without design feedback?!!
None of your answers, however well intended comes close to answering these questions, and this (and many many other unanswered questions) is why the theory of evolution is crumbling.
I know you will protest as always, that "this is the best theory science currently has", but science with unsatisfactory and incomplete and dubious answers -- answers that don't satisfy even other scientists -- is no science at all.
If the theory of evolution is for real, why does it continually come unglued? Nobody is STILL hotly debating the theory of gravity or relativity, because the math works out and the answers are satisfactory. But evloution is different.
Evolution is the "Dreyfuss Affair" of science. It's all glib and pat as long as nobody stubbornly asks the tough questions again and again, and, as with Dreyfuss, one day it will all just blow apart and be seen as the hideous lie it always was.
Perhaps you missed this response I made:
They would evolve in concert after a certain point. Perhaps they'd take turns being the bottleneck. What limits human eyesight now, the eye or the optic nerve? My guess is the eye, but who can tell what the situation was 1 million years ago?
It's like asking, what evolved first, the hummingbird or the flower? Neither "evolved first"; they evolved together. The feedback is built in; nothing evolves in a biological vacuum. At every point in the evolution of the eye and the optic nerve, one or the other will be less well-suited for its task. At that point, the evolutionary pressure will be on that component; further progress will depend on its improvement. Improvement of the better component won't occur, because there is no selection pressure to favor such mutations. If the weaker component gets improved sufficiently, the selection pressure will fall on the other component.
It's my understanding that the optic nerve isn't so very different from other nerves in the body, so probably very little modification has been required. That implies that most of the modifications have happened in the eye. And of course, a salutary modification, no matter how simple, might never come about. It's the luck of the draw. The best hand remains, but it's not always going to be a straight flush.
There's no shortage of hope out there. Artificial eyes are being tested on human subjects today.
The wiring doesn't seem to be the key, as the human brain will create mental pictures from even the slimmest input.
In fact, the human brain is mind-bogglingly adaptable... :)
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