Can the theory of evolution stand the test of modern science?
Posted on homepage: 7 November 2007 (GMT+10)
Imaginations were challenged in 1966 by the science fiction film called Fantastic Voyage. A submarine and a group of scientists were shrunk and injected inside a man’s body. In a race against time, they performed micro-surgery on him before reverting to normal size.
Since then, advances in biochemistry have allowed us to take many ‘fantastic voyages’, even inside cells!
Discoveries of biological machines at the sub-microscopic level are seriously challenging evolutionary theory, forcing a re-examination of a crucial question. How did the first life form come into existence? (Charles Darwin skirted this question in his book Origin of Species.)
Evolutionary scientists seem to be at a loss to answer this. They don’t have a mechanism that explains how non-living substances could have formed life.
What are the minimum components for life?
Thinking in terms of ‘irreducible complexity’ is helpful—trying to determine the minimum parts needed for a machine to accomplish a given goal. For example, which parts could you discard from a bicycle and still have it functional (i.e. capable of transportation)?
Well, you could probably get rid of its reflectors, mud guards or maybe the seat. You may even turn it into a unicycle! However, you would have to keep certain parts for it to function. At that point it would be ‘irreducibly complex’. In other words, you cannot reduce its complexity any further without it ceasing to function.
Most evolutionists recognize that to be capable of extracting energy from the environment and reproducing itself the ‘first living thing’ (supposedly billions of years ago) must have had at least the following parts for it to be ‘alive’ (its irreducible complexity).
- A recipe—enabling it to pass on genetic information to offspring.
- A de-coding device—something to ‘read’ the recipe.
- A power plant—a way to produce energy.
- An outer layer—to prevent the cell from breaking up.
- Framing—to stop it from collapsing.
- Workers—things to perform various tasks within the cell.
Trying to imagine all of these parts coming together by chance is incredibly challenging!1 Mechanisms like ‘natural selection’ and ‘mutations’ could not contribute to the assembly of the theoretical first living thing. They could only change a creature that is already alive! Even evolutionists admit this.2 So the only possible mechanism is time and chance.
A house by chance … fact or fiction … ?
To better understand unfamiliar concepts, it’s sometimes helpful to compare them with things we understand from our everyday lives. For example, a house being built has blueprints, a de-coder (the foreman on the job), a power source (furnace, electricity), an outer layer to protect it from the elements, framing to keep it sturdy and workers to build it. Although there are parallels, a house is actually much, much simpler than a living cell.
Pretend you could shrink to microscopic size to watch a cell ‘form’ in the alien world of the evolutionists’ theoretical ‘primordial soup’.
You see a bunch of timber, wiring, plumbing, siding (cladding) and so on float by. Imagine the studs bump together and just happen to form framing. And the wiring and plumbing snake their way through the framing while siding attaches itself outside and assembles a protective covering. Hard to believe?
But wait! What if on your ‘fantastic voyage’ you saw a furnace assemble itself and turn itself on? What if materials were carried by robots, powered by energy from the furnace?
Yes, the simplest living thing would have to possess machines in order to create itself! Where would they have come from? In today’s creatures their instructions are in the blueprint (the DNA) of the creature itself. Yet before the ‘first living thing’, the blueprint would not exist!
Could blueprints for cells form before the first cell came into being? Can a decoding system (a very complex set of programmed machinery in its own right) exist before the code for its own construction?3
Inside every cell are motors that generate energy for the cell to use in the form of a substance called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). Every living thing on planet Earth (plants included) uses ATP as energy.
Stopping ATP production in your body causes death (cyanide works this way)! It is essential for ‘life’.
ATP is formed by an incredible molecular motor called ATP synthase. It spins at some 10,000 rpm to generate ATP in your cells! It is the tiniest machine ever seen and is far beyond our ability to create.4 (See diagram above.)
Every cell with a nucleus also has ‘general laborers’ in the form of miniature genetic robots called ‘kinesins’. These are a family of tiny biological machines that transport material around in cells. They bring things to certain locations and remove parts that shouldn’t be there. They really are organic robots!
Amazingly, kinesins are inside every multicellular plant and animal cell on Earth! (Even single-celled yeasts have kinesins.) Evolutionists must explain how bacteria-like cells developed the kinesin transport system to account for its presence in more complex organisms. Considering that an incomplete system is unlikely to have any benefit, this is a huge problem for evolution.5
Back to reality …
In the ‘real world’ the thought of robots, engines and furnaces assembling by accident would be laughed at. But because of the commitment by evolutionists to purely natural processes, it is deemed possible for the genesis of life!
When Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution first became popular, scientists only dreamed of exploring the inner workings of the cell. Thought to be nothing much more than a simple ‘blob’, they felt that the first single-celled creature must have been easy to form by chance. Now we know that the construction of a house pales in comparison.
Remember, we have not even skimmed the surface of just how complex the simplest cell really is. Could something so immensely complicated form by chance? Time will not solve the problem; the more time you have, the more machines wear out and break down; they don’t form themselves from scrap metal.
High tech world …
Our society loves technology. The more modern and ‘high-tech’ things are, the more most people value them.
We want faster, more efficient computers. We are intrigued by spaceships travelling to the moon, submarines diving miles underwater, and movies with ultra-real special effects! When we see advanced technology, we understand that it takes intelligent minds to make it.
But the simplest life form on Earth is more advanced than any technology we will likely achieve anytime soon, if ever!
Nothing man-made compares to living things. Why is it then that intelligent people around the world are unwilling to believe that there is a God vastly more intelligent than they are, Who created them? Because believing in God means that they should also believe in and obey the rules that He has given us.
It also means that there is wrong and right in the world and that people cannot do whatever they want without concern about the consequences (judgment).
If we knew then what we know now …
If they had known in Darwin’s time what we know now, would millions of people have turned their back on God because of believing they ‘just evolved’? Would so many have denied the Bible and the real Creator of all things, Jesus Christ?
The more that knowledge of the intricate workings of the cell increases, the less believable the evolutionary story becomes. Recent discoveries in cell science have stretched most people’s credulity to the breaking point. They are increasingly placing the theory of evolution where it always should have been; in the realm of science fiction! To see a mind-blowing video representation of some of the inner workings of the cell, visit multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu and ask yourself, could such mechanisms happen by chance?
References and notes
- Many in this list are themselves coded in the blueprint, but are necessary to decode it. Hence the minimal blueprint is estimated to be 387 protein-coding and 43 RNA-coding genes (Nature 439(7074):246–247, 19 January 2006). Return to Text.
- See Dobzhansky, T.G., Discussion of ‘Synthesis of Nucleosides and Polynucleotides with Metaphoric Esters’, by George Schramm, in Fox, S.W., ed., The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices, Academic Press, New York, pp. 309–310, 1965. Return to Text.
- For further information see the Q&A topic ‘Origin of life’ creation.com/origin. Return to Text.
- Sarfati, J., Design in living organisms (motors), Journal of Creation 12(1):3–5, 1998, creation.com/motor. Return to Text.
- See also Sarfati, J., More marvellous machinery: ‘DNA scrunching’, Journal of Creation 21(1):4–5, 2007; creation.com/scrunching. Return to Text.