Thursday, February 21, 2008

Essential reading for Young Earthers

Intelligent designs on God fail the test of evolution

Under the Microscope

Prof William Reville

[transcribed, with admiration but not with permission from the Irish Times, Thursday, 21st February, 2008]

Natural theology studies what can be known rationally about God and develops rational arguments for the existence of God. Probably the best argument for the existence of God was the argument from design, most ably enunciated by the 18th-century clergyman William Paley (1743-1805). That argument was fatally wounded in 1858 by the theory of evolution through natural selection. The argument from design was recently resurrected and is now called Intelligent Design (ID). ID is championed by fundamentalist Christians and proposes that evolution cannot account for the development of “irreducibly complex” molecular systems in the cell. However, biochemistry has clearly demonstrated that evolution through natural selection can account for “irreducible complexity”.

William Paley argued as follows:
Suppose you are out walking and pick up a stone. You can explain its features by the natural processes of weathering etc and, for all you know, the stone might have lain there forever. Now you pick up a pocket watch. You see the complicated interlocking wheels and the coiled spring powering their movement. You see the whole mechanism connected to the hands that move across the face of the watch to tell the time. You are clearly looking at a designed product and you logically conclude that it was produced by an intelligent designer.
Paley then looked at the living world which abounds with exquisite design. Consider, for example, the eye, a complex apparatus clearly designed to form images. Paley concluded that such biological devices are obviously designed by a supreme intelligence – God.

Paley’s argument was very good, given the level of biological understanding at the time. The young Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was impressed, but the same Darwin, together with Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), later destroyed Paley’s argument with the theory of evolution through natural selection. This showed how design in the biological world is unconsciously and naturally produced.

Darwin and Wallace pointed to the variety that naturally exists within a species. Some variants have traits that allow them to procreate better than their fellows. These characteristics will be naturally selected and will appear in increased proportions in the next generation. And this proportion will increase generation after generation so that, over many generations, it transforms into a new species well fitted to its environment. The biological world is designed, but the designer is blind, unconscious and natural. Darwin and Wallace didn’t understand the mechanism of heredity and knew nothing of the structures within the biological cell. ID claims that many of these “irreducibly complex” structures could not have arisen through evolution.
ID’s main example of irreducible complexity is the bacterial flagellum. Bacteria whip these long appendages about to propel themselves through their watery environment. The long flagellum is connected through a universal joint to a complex motor structure in the membrane of the bacterial cell. The motor assembly is made from dozens of different proteins and it is an intricate jig-saw of interlocking and interacting parts. It can only work when all the parts are in place simultaneously. Remove one part and the mechanism fails.

A core principle of evolution is that change occurs gradually, by minor modifications of pre-existing structures, driven by natural selection of improved function. But ID asserts that structures such as the flagellum cannot arise by modification of a pre-existing structure, since the smallest modification of the flagellum would render it useless. ID concludes that the flagellum is “irreducibly complex” and was designed de novo by a super-intelligent designer.
If the flagellum was designed de novo, one would not expect each of its individual components to have other separate useful functions in the cell. But, when you look at the several individual components of the flagellum, this is exactly what you find. For example, a whole section of the base of the motor has an individual existence in the cell as the ‘Type III Secretory Apparatus’ used in some bacteria to inject poison into other bacteria.

It is well established in biochemistry that evolution builds complex molecular machines by combining various simpler components that already exist in the cell but used for different functions. ID fails to stand up against the theory of evolution by natural selection, just as Paley’s argument failed 150 years ago.

William Reville is associate professor of biochemistry and public awareness of science officer at UCC Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

C. David Parsons said...


"The Quest for Right": A Creationist Attack on Quantum Mechanics.

By Stephen L of the

Here's a different take on creationism/ID: "The Quest for Right," a multi-volume series on science, attacks Darwinism indirectly, by attacking quantum mechanics:

"American Atheists base their reasoning on Quantum Interpretation, hand in hand with Quantum Mathematics. Summoning the dark forces of quantum mysticism, with mathematical incantations, possesses the power to bewilder, and thus con, the average persons seemingly at will, into believing the bizarre and surreal: Z Particles, Neutrinos, Leptons, Quarks, Weak Bosons, etc. Mystics attempt to pass off quantum abuses as legitimate science, by expressing the theories in symbolic fashion. These formula represent the greatest hoax ever pulled upon an unsuspecting public....The to expedite the return to classical physics, by exposing quantum dirty tricks. That is, unethical behavior or acts, undermine and destroy the credibility of Biblical histories. These dirty tricks include: Absolute dating systems, Big Bang Theory, Antimatter, and Oort Cloud. These...have no further station in Science."

A more sophisticated way to argue against Darwin is certainly to argue against modern physics. Without modern physics, you lose astrophysics too, which enables the author to make the case for YEC [young earth creationism]. The author goes on to "prove" that things like red supergiant stars and X-ray pulsars don't really exist, except in the imagination of scientists.”

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