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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Nature’s Destiny

How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe

By: Michael J. Denton

شارك في العمل: الأستاذ مُصطفى نصر قديح

للتحميل: (PDF) (DOC)

destiny

نبذة مُختصرة عن الكتاب:

كتاب «قَدَر الطَّبيعة» مِن أشهر كُتُب العالم البريطاني ذو الأصول الأسترالية المشهور جداً «مايكل دينتون».

الكتاب مُكوَّن من قسمين، القسم الأوَّل بعُنوان الحياة، والقسم الثاني بعُنوان التَّطوُّر.

في الحقيقة، شعرت بالصَّدمة عندما أدركت طبيعة موقف «مايكل دينتون» تجاه نظرية التَّطوُّر، وهي نفس موقف «مايكل بيهي» تجاه النَّظرية، ولا أظنّ أنَّ اسم «مايكل» المُشترك بينهما هو السَّبب في ذلك!

في الحقيقة، موقف «دينتون» الرُّبُوبي، واضح جداً، من مُجرَّد بعض التَّأمُّل في عُنوان الكتاب «قَدَر الطَّبيعة»، والذي يُعبِّر عن أنَّ كل ما نراه في الطَّبيعة الآن مِن حولنا، هو أمر مُقدَّر حتمي، بداية من الضَّبط الدَّقيق للثوابت الفيزيائية للكون، مُرُوراً بنشأة الحياة، ووُصولاً في النِّهاية لظُهُور الإنسان على الأرض!

«دينتون» يستخدم بوُضُوح عبارة «التَّطوُّر المُوجَّه» (Directed Evolution)، والذي يقصد منه نفس ما قصده «بيهي» في كتابيه «صندوق داروين الأسود» و «حدّ التَّطوُّر»، وهو أنَّ النَّتيجة النهائية التي وصلت إليها التَّطوُّر، وهو الإنسان، جاء نتاج توجيه، وليس أمراً عشوائياً، وفي الوقت نفسه، ليس نِتاج تدخُّل إلهي، فهو لم يستخدم عبارة «التَّطوُّر الإلهي» (Theistic Evolution)، وعلى هذا فإنَّ «بيهي» و «دينتون» يؤمنان بأنَّ كلّ أشكال الحياة المُختلفة على الأرض الآن جاءت من سلف أوَّل مُشترك، وأنَّ هذا الكائن الحيّ الأوَّل يحمل في داخله ما يجعله قادراً على أن يتطوَّر إلى كل أشكال الحياة الأخرى!

«بيهي» و «دينتون» ينتقدان نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية في أنَّها تنقض التَّصميم الواضح في كلّ أشكال الحياة المُختلفة على الأرض، وكذلك ينتقدان أنَّ العشوائية قادرة على الوصول للتَّصميم الواضح في الكائنات الحيَّة، وهكذا يعرض «دينتون» في كتابه هذا أدلَّة التَّصميم الموجودة في الكون، بداية من الضَّبط الدَّقيق للثَّوابت الفيزيائية، مُرُوراً باستعراض أهمّ الظُّرُوف الأرضية المضبوطة خصِّيصاً لنشأة الحياة الإنسانية ومنفعتها، وُصُولاً في النِّهاية لاستعراض التَّصميم الموجود في الكائنات الحية، والتي تُنافي أنَّ التَّطوُّر كان نتيجة عشوائية.

وهكذا في النِّهاية نستطيع أن نقول إنَّ موقف «دينتون» من نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية موقف مُحدَّد جداً، فهو يرفض مسائل بعينها، ولكنَّه يقبل بعض أركانها الأساسية، ومع أنَّ الكتاب مُمتاز جداً في جُزئه الأوَّل، إلَّا أنَّنا لا نستطيع أن نُعوِّل على الجزء الثاني وحده فيما يخُص نقد نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، وعلينا أن ننتبه إلى أنَّ قضية أصل الإنسان من القضايا الرَّئيسية التي تجعل النَّظرية مُخالفة للنُّصُوص الدِّينية (خلق آدم عليه السلام)، ومن الواضح جداً أنَّ «دينتون» يقول بأنَّ الإنسان جاء نِتاج تطوُّر كائنات أدنى منه، أشبه بالقرود، وفي الوقت نفسه يقول إنَّ إمكانيات الإنسان الفسيولوجية والعقلية الذهنية أكبر بكثير من أن ننسب الفضل في وجوده للتَّطوُّر العشوائي الأعمى!

الكتاب يستحقّ في رأيي تقدير جيِّد جداً، وللكتاب ترجمة عربية من إصدارات «مركز براهين»، تستطيع الحصول عليه عن طريق «دار الكاتب»، ومع أنَّني لم أقرأ مُقدِّمة المركز للكتاب، إلَّا أنَّ غالب ظنَّي أنَّها كمُقدِّمة كتاب «صندوق داروين الأسود»، والذي يعني أنَّه لم يتمّ تنبيه الكاتب إلى خُطُورة بعض أفكار «دينتون» التي تتعارض مع الإسلام، وهذه إشكالية كبيرة نُواجهها في مُعظم الكُتُب المُترجمة إلى اللغة العربية، ولا حول ولا قوة إلَّا بالله العلي العظيم. ولكن على كلّ حال، هذه نتيجة لمشاكل كثيرة جداً نُعاني منها، كأمَّة ضعيفة علمياً.

Part 1: Life

Note to the Reader

· Readers familiar with the views of physicists such as Freeman Dyson, Fred Hoyle, and Paul Davies will be aware that over the past few decades many physicists have pointed out that the existence of life in the cosmos is critically dependent on the laws and constants of physics having the precise values they do [P. C. W. Davies (1982) The Accidental Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). See also J. D. Barrow and F. J. lipler (1986) The Anthropic Cosmo/.ogical Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press).]. The values are so critical that several well-known authors have argued that the cosmos gives every appearance of having been very finely adjusted or “prefabricated” for our existence. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xii]

· As Paul Davies points out in his Accidental Universe: “If nature had opted for a slightly different set of numbers, the world would be a very different place. Probably we would not be here to see it.” In his words: “The impression of design is overwhelming.” [Davies (1982); see Preface.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xii]

· Davies is careful to distance himself &om any claim that humanity is central in the cosmic scheme: “Where do human beings fit into this great cosmic scheme? Can we gaze out into the cosmos, as did our remote ancestors, and declare God made it all for us? I think not.” [P. C. W. Davies (1995) “Physics and the Mind of God,” the Templeton ‘Prize Address, First Things, August-September, pp. 31-35.] And in his latest book he states explicitly that “I am not saying that we Homo sapiens are written into the laws of physics in a basic way.” [P. C. W. Davies (1995) Art we A/.one? (London: Penguin Books), pp. 70, 85.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xii]

· And continues: “We should not expect extraterrestrial life to resemble our own in its basic chemistry …. There is no need, for example, to demand liquid water or even carbon. We could anticipate exotic life forms, such as creatures that float in the dense atmosphere of Jupiter or swim in the liquid nitrogen seas ofTitan.” [P. C. W. Davies (1995) Art we A/.one? (London: Penguin Books), p.25] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xii – xiii]

· Contrary to Davies and others, I believe the evidence strongly suggests that the cosmos is uniquely fit for only one type of biology-that which exists on earth and-that the phenomenon of life cannot be instantiated in any other exotic chemistry or class of material forms. Even more radically, I believe that there is a considerable amount of evidence for believing that the cosmos is uniquely fit for only one type of advanced intelligent life-beings of design and biology very similar to our own species, Homo sapiens. I do not agree with Davies when he claims,” The physical species Homo sapiens may count for nothing.” [P. C. W. Davies (1992) The Mind of God (London: Penguin), p. 232.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xiii]

· To defend the postulate that the cosmos is specifically fit for biological life as it exists on earth nec. essarily involves consideration of a vast number of natural laws, phenomena, and processes which are quite outside of the areas of physics and cosmology and penain uniquely to the biological realm, phenomena such as the thermal properties of water, the characteristics of the carbon atom, the solubility of carbon dioxide, the self-assembling propenies of proteins, the nature of the cell, and so forth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xiii]

· What is particularly striking is that, in almost every case, each constituent appears to be the only available or unique candidate for its particular biological role and, further, gives every appearance of being ideally fit not in one or two but in all its physical and chemical characteristics. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xiii- xiv]

· Also reviewed is evidence drawn from other areas of science that attests to the fitness of the earth’s hydrosphere, the fitness of the electromagnetic radiation of the sun, and the fitness of the periodic table for the carbon-based type of life as it exists on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xiv]

· if the laws of nature are so finely tuned to facilitate life’s being in the form of a unique set of carbon-based organisms, both simple and complex, on the surface of a terraqueous planet like the earth, then it seems conceivable that their becoming through the process of evolution might have been determined also by natural law. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xiv]

· And we need to understand clearly, as William Paley emphasized in his famous discourse on the watch, “that if the parts had been differently shaped from what they are,” the watch could never function. [W. Paley (1807) Natural Theology (London: Faulder & Son).] The same is true in arguing that the constituents of the cosmos are uniquely fit for life. The argument only works if we have some knowledge of “the machinery of the cell” and some understanding of the many reciprocal adaptations in the nature of its constituents that make life possible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xv]

· One recent book that invites some comparison is Stuart Kauffman’s At Home in the Universe, in which he argues that much of the course of evolution has been determined and driven by self-organizing and emergent properties of complex systems. [S. Kauffman (1995) At Home in the Universe (New York: Oxford University Press).]There is certainly more than a whiff of teleology about Kauffman’s arguments, and his overall conclusion is consistent with my own when he claims, for example: “We will have to see that we are all natural expressions of a deeper order. Ultimately, we will discover in our creation myth that we are expected after all.” [S. Kauffman (1995) At Home in the Universe (New York: Oxford University Press).p.112] And further: “We may be at home in the universe in ways we have hardly begun to comprehend. “18 Another book that also invites comparison is Vital Dust by the biologist and Nobel laureate Christian de Duve. De Duve has also “opted in favour of a meaningful universe” [C. de Duve (1995) Vital Du.st (New York: Basic Books).] and argues that the cosmos is fit for the origin and evolution of life and that the progress of evolution from simple to complex life forms was largely inevitable. However, de Duve’s position falls a long way short of defending the traditional anthropocentric view of the cosmos. The unique fitness of the laws of nature for the biology of higher, air-breathing life forms such as ourselves is not discussed in any depth and nowhere does de Duve argue that the pattern of evolution was directed specifically toward the human race. egarding man’s place in the cosmos, de Duve concludes in his final chapter, “The human mind may be only a side link in an evolutionary saga far from completed.” [C. de Duve (1995) Vital Du.st (New York: Basic Books). p.301] (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p xvii]

Chapter 1: The Harmony of the Spheres

· The fitness of the universe for life depends on a number of factors, including: the relative strength of the four fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces), the speed of expansion of the universe, the spacing and frequency of supernovae, the nuclear energy levels of certain atoms, etc. If these were not precisely what they are, then carbon-based life would certainly not exist. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p7]

· This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been, namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^(10123). This is an extraordinary figure. One could not possibly even write the number down in full in the ordinary denary notation: it would be [C. Sagan (1985) Cosmos (New York: Ballantine Books), p. 192.] followed by 10123 successive O’s. Even if we were to wrice a 0 on each separate proton and on each separate neutron in the entire universe–and we could throw in all the other particles for good measure-we should fall far short of writing down the figure needed. [Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind, 1989] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p9]

· As a result of advances in astronomy and physics over the past half century, we now know that the dying of stars in these immense self-destructive explosions is intimately related to our own existence as living organisms on earth. All the elements necessary for life-carbon (C), nitrogen (N), oxygen (0) and iron (Fe), etc.-are manufactured in the nuclear furnaces in the interiors of the stars. If these elements are to accumulate in rocky planets such as earth, they must be released from the stellar interiors and dispersed widely throughout the cosmos. The crucial release and dispersal of these key building blocks of life is one of the results of a supernova explosion. It is in the dying of stars that life has its birth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p10]

Biocentric Fine-Tuning

· Over the past three decades, facts such as these drawn from astrophysics and cosmology have led many physicists to argue that the cosmos appears to be finely tuned for life. The evidence and argument has been presented many times; [J. D. Barrow and F. J. Tipler (1986) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxford University Press), see chap. 1.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p10]

supernova

· Supernovae play another role which is critical to the existence of life. The shock waves they generate are probably important in i.nitiating the condensation of interstellar gas and dust into planetary systems such as our own solar system. Those ancient stargazers in China and America would surely have been amazed to know that without such strange new stars, like that which so dramatically lit up the sky on chat far-off July night, there would be no astronomers, no stargazers, no earth, perhaps no life of any sore. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11]

· If that supernova had been closer to the earth, then it might have bathed the earth in a lethal radiation, obliterating life. If it had been very dose, the earth might have been engulfed in a fireball and vaporized. The frequency and distribution of exploding stars are therefore also critical parameters. Supernovae are essential for life-without them none of the chemical building blocks of life will ever accumulate on the surface of a planet like earth-but they are also immensely destructive phenomena, eliminating all life on any nearby solar systems. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11]

· The distances between supernovae and indeed between all stars is critical for other reasons. The distance between stars in our galaxy is about 30 million miles. If this distance was much less, planetary orbits would be destabilized. If it was much more, then the debris thrown out by a supernova would be so diffusely distributed that planetary systems like our own would in all probability never form. [H. Ross (1989) The Finger of God (Orange, Calif: Promise Publishing Co.), p.127.] If the cosmos is to be a home for life, then the flickering of the supernovae must occur at a very precise rate and the average distance between them, and indeed between all stars, must be very dose to the actual observed figure. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11]

· In addition, it turns out that the production of the key elements for carbonbased life not only requires the enormous energy levels within the interiors of stars but is also critically dependent on what appears to be another set of very precise conditions in the nuclear structure of certain atoms, more specifically, the nuclear energy levels of the atoms 8beryllium, 12carbon, and 16oxygen. These energy levels affect the manufacture and abundance of carbon, oxygen, and other heavier elements essential for life. If they had been slightly different, no life-giving carbon or oxygen would have been manufactured. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11]

· That the manufacture of the key elements of life should depend on a set of such highly specific conditions is commented on by Paul Davies in his book The Accidental Universe. [P. C. W. Davies (1982) The Accidental Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 118.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11]

· Fred Hoyle considers the carbon-oxygen synthesis coincidence so remarkable that it seems like a “put-up job.” Regarding the delicate positioning of the nuclear  resonances, he comments: If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be …. A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [P. C. W. Davies (1982) The Accidental Universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 118.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p11-12]

· The picture that has emerged from modern physics and astronomy suggests that the formation of the chemical elements for life, and planetary systems capable of sustaining life and evolution over millions of years, are only possible if the overall structure of the universe and all the laws of nature are almost precisely as they are. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p12]

· Physicists recognize four fundamental forces. These largely determine the way in which one bit of matter or radiation can interact with another. In effect, these four forces determine the main characteristics of the universe. 6 They are the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong or nuclear force, and the weak force. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p12]

· An extraordinary feature of these four fundamental forces is that their strength varies enormously over many orders of magnitude. In the table below they are given in international standard units: [Davies (1982), p. 39.] Gravitational force = 5.90. 10 – 39 *Nuclear or Strong force = 15 *Electromagnetic force = 3.05 . 10 – 12 *Weak force = 7.03. 10-3 [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p12]

· The fact that the gravitational force is fantastically weaker than the strong nuclear force by an unimaginable thirty-eight orders of magnitude is critical to the whole cosmic scheme and particularly to the existence of stable stars and planetary systems. [J. Boslough (1985) Stephen Hawking’s Universe (New York: Quill), p. 101.]  [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p12]

· If, for example, the gravitational force was a trillion times stronger, then the universe would be far smaller and its life history far shorter. An average star would have a mass a trillion times less than the sun and a life span of about one year-far too short a time for complex life to develop and flourish. On the other hand, if gravity had been less powerful, no stars or galaxies would ever have formed. As Hawking points out, the growth of the universe-so close to the border of collapse and external expansion that man has not been able to measure it-has been at just the proper rate to allow galaxies and stars to form. [J. Boslough (1985) Stephen Hawking’s Universe (New York: Quill), p. 101.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p12-13]

· The other relationships and values are no less critical. If the strong force had been just slightly weaker, the only element that would be stable would be hydrogen. No other atoms could exist. If it had been slightly stronger in relation to electromagnetism, then an atomic nucleus consisting of only two protons would be a stable feature of the universe-which would mean there would be no hydrogen, and if any stars or galaxies evolved, they would be very different from the way they are. [For a discussion of the sorts of universe that would result if the constants were different, see J. R. Gribbin and M. J. Rees (1989) Cosmic Coincidences (New York: Bantam Books), chap. 10, pp. 241-269. See also Trimble, op. cit.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p13]

· Clearly, if these various forces and constants did not have precisely the values they do, there would be no stars, no supernovae, no planets, no atoms, no life. As Paul Davies summarizes: The numerical values that nature has assigned to the fundamental constants, such as the charge on the electron, the mass of the proton, and the Newtonian gravitational constant, may be mysterious, but they are crucially relevant to the structure of the universe that we perceive. As more and more physical systems, from nuclei to galaxies, have become better understood, scientists have begun to realise that many characteristics of these systems are remarkably sensitive to the precise values of the fundamental constants. Had nature opted for a slightly different set of numbers, the world would be a very different place. Probably we would not be here to see it. More intriguing still, certain crucial structures, such as solar-type stars, depend for their characteristic features on wildly improbable numerical accidents that combine together fundamental constants from distinct branches of physics. And when one goes on to study cosmology-the overall structure and evolution of the universe-incredulity mounts. Recent discoveries about the primeval cosmos oblige us to accept that the expanding universe has been set up in its motion with a cooperation of astonishing precision. [Davies (1982), Preface.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p13]

· In short, the laws of physics are supremely fit for life and the cosmos gives every appearance of having been specifically and optimally tailored to that end: to ensure the generation of stable stars and planetary systems, to ensure that.; these will be far enough apart to avoid gravitational interactions which would destabilize planetary orbits; to ensure that a nuclear furnace is generated in the interior of stars in which hydrogen will be convened into the heavier elements essential for life; to ensure that a proportion of stars will undergo supernovae explosions to release the key elements into interstellar space; to ensure that galaxies last several times longer than the lifetime of an average star, for only then will there be time for the atoms scattered by an earlier generation of supernovae within any one galaxy to be gathered into second-generation solar systems; to ensure that the distribution and frequency of supernovae will not be so frequent that planetary surfaces would be repeatedly bathed in lethal radiation but not so infrequent that there would be no heavier atoms manufactured and gathered onto the surface of newly formed planets; to ensure in the cosmos’s vastness and in the trillions of its suns and their accompanying planetary systems a stage immense enough and a time long enough to make certain that the great evolutionary drama of life’s becoming will inevitably be manifest sometime, somewhere on an earchlike planet.[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p13-14]

· And so we are led toward life and our own existence via a vast and everlengthening chain of apparently biocentric adaptations in the design of the cosmos in which each adaptation seems adjusted with almost infinite precision toward the goal of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p14]

· If the existence of life had been compatible with a greater range of values for the fundamental constants, or, in other words, if the design of the celestial machine could have been different at least to some degree and yet still have sustained life, then the teleological conclusion would be far weaker. It is the necessity that it be exactly as it is-adjusted to what is in effect near infinite precision in a long train and series of things that makes the teleological conclusion so compelling. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p15]

· As Davies comments in the last paragraph of The Cosmic Blueprint, “The impression of Design is overwhelming.” [P. C. W. Davies (1987) The Cosmic Blueprint (London: Penguin), p. 203.] And Paul Davies is not alone. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p15]

· Several well-known physicists and astronomers, among them Brandon Caner, Freeman Dyson, John Wheeler, John Barrow, Frank Tipler, and Sir Fred Hoyle, to cite only a few, have all made the point in recent publications that our type of carbon-based life could only exist in a very special sort of universe and that if the laws of physics had been very slightly different we could not have existed. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p16]

Chapter 2: The Vital Fluid

· In which it is argued that water gives every appearance of being uniquely fit for the type of carbon-based life that exists on earth. Every one of its chemical and physical properties seems maximally fit not only for microscopic life but also for large warm-blooded organisms such as mammals, as well as for the generation and maintenance of a stable chemical and physical environment on the surface of the earth. Some of the properties of water reviewed include its thermal properties, its surface tension, its capacity to dissolve a vast number of different substances, and its low viscosity, which allows small molecules to enter and leave cells by diffusion and which also makes possible a circulatory system. If the properties of water were not almost precisely what they are, carbon-based life wou/.d in all probability be impossible. Even the viscosity of ice is fit. !fit were any greater, then all the water on earth might be trapped in vast immobile ice sheets at the poles. If the thermal properties of water were even slightly different, the maintenance of stable body temperatures in warm-blooded organisms would be problematical No other fluid comes close to water as the ideal medium for carbonbased life. Indeed, the properties of water in themselves provide perhaps as much evidence as physics and cosmology in support of the proposition that the laws of nature are specifically arranged for carbon-based life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p19]

· But as we shall see, they are not nearly as extraordinary or amazing as the various ways in which water is so ideally and uniquely adapted to serve its biological role as the medium or matrix for life on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p22]

· Water has long been seen to have some special significance. That it is essential to life has been evident since the earliest of times, and many cultures have invested it with magical life-giving qualities. It is fitting that Thales, the first of the Greek philosophers, should have based his science on the assenion that water is the origin of all things, and that Bentley should describe it as “the vital blood of the Earth.” [I. B. Cohen (1958) Isaac Newton’s Papers and Letters on Natural Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 381-382.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p22]

· Water forms the fluid matrix in which occur all the vital chemical and physical activities upon which life on earth depends. Without water, life that exists on earth would be impossible. If the vital activities of the cell are the movements of pieces on a chess board, then water would be the board. Chess is impossible without the board; life is impossible without water. Water also forms most of the bulk of most living things. Most organisms are made up of more than SO percent water; in the case of man, water makes up more than 70 percent of the weight of the body. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p22-23]

The Necessity of Liquid

·  If the laws of physics sanctioned matter to exist in our universe only in the solid or gaseous state and outlawed liquids, then life, defined above as a complex chemical system capable of assembling and replicating itself, of manipulating its components and drawing its vital nutrients and constituents from its environment, would almost certainly not exist. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p23]

· Interestingly, John von Neumann, one of the fathers of the computer, in his Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata, envisaged his mechanical replicators floating on an infinite lake, the surface of which was covered with all the basic constituents they required to construct themselves. In other words, the medium in which the replicators “lived” was a fluid. [J. Von Neumann (1966) Theory of Self reproducing Automata, ed. W. A. Burks (Urbana: University of Illinois Press); seep. 82.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p23]

Water’s Unique Thermal Properties

· Water expands by heat and contracts by cold [but if this contraction were continued all the way to the freezing point] … the lower parts of water would have been first frozen and being once frozen hardly any heat applied at the surface could have melted them …. This is so far the case that in a vessel containing ice at the bottom and water at the top, Rumford made the upper fluid boil without thawing the congealed cake below. Now a law of water with respect to heat operating in this manner would have been very inconvenient if it had prevailed in our lakes and seas …. They would all have had a bed of ice, increasing with every occasion, till the whole was frozen. We would have no bodies of water, except such pools on the surfaces of these icy reservoirs as the summer sun could thaw to be again frozen to the bottom with the first frosty night. How is this inconvenience obviated? [This situation] is obviated by a modification of the law which takes place when the temperature approaches this limit. Water contracts by the increase of cold till we come near the freezing temperature; but then … expands till the point at which it becomes ice. Hence the water [at 4°C] will lie at the bottom with cooler water … above it …. In approaching the freezing point the coldest water will rise to the surface where congealment will take place. [But this is only part of the story.] … Another peculiarity in the laws which regulate the action of cold on water is, that in the very act of freezing sudden and considerable expansion takes place …. [Consequently, ice floats.] [W. Whewell (1871) Astronomy and General Physics Considered with Reference to Natural Theology, 8th ed. (London: Bohn). pp. 70-72.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p25]

· Thus, because of these two anomalous properties, water is not bound up in vast beds of submarine ice. We now know that these two properties of water are practically unique, a fact not known in 1832, as Whewell admits: “We do not know how far these laws of expansion are connected with or depend on, more remote and general properties of this fluid or of all fluids.”7 Note that what we have here are two different characteristics of water, both of which are mutually adapted toward the end of preserving bodies of liquid water on a planetary surface. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p25]

· The Fitness of the Environment deals with the peculiar fitness not only of water but with other important chemical components of living things, including carbon dioxide, carbonic acid, and carbon compounds in general. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p27]

· To show, in other words, that in fundamental characteristics the environment [that is, the various chemicals and physico-chemical processes which constitute living things and the chemical and physical character of the hydrosphere] is the finest possible abode for life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p27]

· He continues by admitting that: This is not a novel hypothesis. In rudimentary form it has already a long history behind it, and it was a familiar doctrine in the early nineteenth century. It presents itself anew as a result of the science of physical chemistry. [Henderson, op. cit.; see Preface.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p27]

· In presenting his argument for the unique fitness of water, Henderson alludes to the following thermal properties: 1. The anomalous facts (already referred to above) that water contracts as it cools until just before freezing, after which it expands until it becomes ice, and that it expands on freezing. These properties are practically unique. 2. When ice melts or water evaporates, heat is absorbed from the environment. Heat is released when the reverse happens. This is the phenomenon known as latent heat. The latent heat of freezing of water is again one of the highest of all known fluids. In the ambient temperature range only ammonia has a higher latent heat of freezing. Water’s latent heat of evaporation is the highest of any known fluid in the ambient temperature range. [Henderson, op. cit.; see Preface.pp.99-100] 3. That the thermal capacity or specific heat of water, which is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of water one-degree centigrade, is higher than most other liquids. 4. That the thermal conductivity of water, which is its capacity to conduct heat, is four times greater than any other common liquid. [Henderson, op. cit.; see Preface.p.106. See also F. Franks (1972) “Water, the Unique Chemical,” in .water: A Comprehensive Treatise, vol. 1 (New York: Plenum Press), p. 488.] 5. That the thermal conductivities of ice and snow are low. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p28]

· If it were not for the properties given in point 1, most of the water on earth would be permanently frozen into vast beds of ice at the bottom of the oceans. Lakes would freeze completely from the bottom up each winter in the higher latitudes. Without those properties in point 2, the climate would be subject to far more rapid temperature changes. Small lakes and rivers would vanish and reappear constantly. Without 3, the difference between winter and summer would be more extreme and weather patterns would be less stable, [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 86-89.] and the great ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream, which currently transfer vast quantities of heat from the tropics to the poles, would be far less capable of moderating the temperature differences between high and low latitudes. Without 2, again, warm-blooded animals would have a far harder time ridding their bodies of heat. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p28].

·  Henderson was particularly struck by the adaptive significance of the cooling effect of the latent heat of evaporation in the case of warm-blooded animals. Because, as Henderson points out, “in an animal like man … heat is a most prominent excretory product, which has to be constantly eliminated in great amounts, and to this end only three important means are available–conduction, radiation, and evaporation.” [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 86-89.]. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p28-29]

· which the existence of large complex life forms depend. Moreover, complex macroscopic life forms astonishingly utilize these same thermal properties to buffer themselves against thermal change, which is the inevitable outcome of their metabolic processes. And so via a series of deeply interconnected and wondrously teleological thermal adaptive properties, water bestows its vital magic on earth and its living inhabitants. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p30]

· The parsimony and elegance in this design is self-evident. As far as its thermal properties are concerned, water would appear to be uniquely, and in many different ways ideally, adapted for life on earth. In thermal terms, water is the unique and ideal candidate for its biological role. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p30]

Surface Tension

· Of course, the thermal properties of water are by no means the only physical characteristics which make this remarkable fluid so supremely fit for its biological role. Yet another is its very high surface tension. This has many biological implications. [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 126-127.] It is the high surface tension of water which draws water up through the soil within reach of the roots of plants and assists its rise from the roots to branches in tall trees. Large terrestrial plants would probably be a physiological impossibility if the surface tension of water was similar to that of most liquids. Recently, A. E. Needham commented on the utility of the high surface tension of water: Water has a uniquely high surface tension exceeded by few substances other than liquid selenium and this at a very much higher temperature. Water, therefore, is ideal for the formation of discrete living bodies, with stable limiting membranes. Air-water interfaces are less important, perhaps, than those between water and lipids, which likewise have high values. Other biologically useful consequences of the high tension are that materials which can lower the tension, surface active materials, tend to accumulate at the surface, and also to orientate there. Most of the biologically important carbon compounds have this property, which promotes their aggregation and concentration, as well as the formation of organised membranes. [A. E. Needham, op. cit., p. 11.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p30]

· Remarkably, the very high surface tension, because it tends to draw water into the narrow cracks and fissures in the rocks, assists in the process of weathering and washing chemicals from the rocks. Also, when it freezes, the rocks are fragmented, which in turn also assists the weathering process and the formation of soils. [Franks, op. cit., p. 20.] Here is another instance where a physical property of water is adapted for a role in fashioning the planetary environment for life while at the same time being adapted for a number of specific biological functions. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p30-31]

The Alkahest

· Water could have no biological role if it was not a good solvent. The capacity to dissolve a great number of different chemical substances is presumably a criterion that must be satisfied by any fluid if it is to function as a matrix for any kind of chemical “life” remotely similar to our own. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p31]

· It turns out that, as a solvent, water is indeed ideally fit, so much so that water approaches far nearer than any other liquid to the alcahest, the universal mythical solvent of the alchemists.23 This is a.property of critical importance to water’s biological role. Felix Franks recently commented on the solvent action of water: Other remarkable properties include the almost universal solvent action of liquid water, making its rigorous purification extremely difficult. Nearly all known chemicals dissolve in water co a slight, but detectable extent. [Franks, op. cit., p. 20.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p31]

· Water’s power as a universal solvent is also geologically significant, as the distribution of vital minerals through the hydrosphere would be far less equitable if its salvation powers were less marked. [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 112-115.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p31]

· The salvation power of water and the distribution of diverse chemical species in large amounts throughout the hydrosphere is illustrated by the vast amount of dissolved materials carried to the sea by all the rivers of the earth in one year. This quantity has been estimated to be some 5 billion tons. Henderson lists thirty-three different elements which can be found in the sea, and probably many more are present in trace amounts. To illustrate the utility of its salvation power in biological systems, he cites over fifty different compounds which are found dissolved in human urine. [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 113-115.] Today one could cite many hundreds. As one might expect from such a universal solvent, water is also a surprisingly reactive chemical. It catalyzes almost all known reactions. [A. E. Needham, op. cit., p. 23.]  [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p31]

Viscosity and Diffusion

· The fitness of water would in all probability be less if its viscosity were much lower. The structures of living systems would be subject to far more violent movements under shearing forces if the viscosity were as low as liquid hydrogen. Shearing forces are set up in a structure when a force applied to it tends to distort its shape. A structure composed of pitch, which has a high viscosity, will tend to resist such shearing forces far more effectively than a structure composed of treacle. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p32-33]

· If the viscosity of water was much lower, delicate structures would be easily disrupted by shearing forces and water would be incapable of supporting any permanent intricate microscopic structures. The delicate molecular architecture of the cell would probably not survive. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p33]

· On the other hand, if the viscosity was much higher than it is, no fish or anything we would call a fish would be possible. One can well imagine the difficulty of attempting to sail or swim through treacle! Nor would any microorganism or cell be able to move. If the viscosity of water was higher, the controlled movement of large macromolecules and particularly structures such as mitochondria and small organelles would be impossible, as would processes like cell division. All the vital activities of the cell would be effectively frozen, and cellular life of any sort remotely resembling that with which we are familiar would be impossible. The development of higher organisms, which is critically dependent on the ability of cells to move and crawl around during embryogenesis, would certainly be impossible if the viscosity of water was even slightly greater than it is. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p33]

· Viscosity also has a very important influence on the vital process of diffusion, and this has enormous bearing on the existence of our type of cellular life. It is difficult to see how else but by diffusion the necessary flow of matter into and out of any conceivable chemical self-replicating system based in a fluid medium could be maintained. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p33]

· Diffusion rates in water are very rapid over short distances. Oxygen, for example, will diffuse across the average body cell in approximately onehundredth of a second. [K Schmidt-Nielsen (1975)Anima/Physiology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 671.] The very great rapidity of diffusion of small molecules in water over short distances explains why small microorganisms, bacteria and protozoa, and even very small multicellular organisms are able to obtain their nutrients and get rid of their waste products simply by diffusion, without the need for a circulatory system. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p33]

· The rate of diffusion of a molecule in a fluid varies inversely with its viscosity. If the viscosity goes up, the rate of diffusion goes down. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p33]

· If diffusion rates were a hundred times less, cells would have co be a million times smaller to maintain their metabolic activities-a volume equivalent to a sphere containing a few protein molecules. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p34]

· The low viscosity of water is fie in another way because in a liquid of low viscosity the rate of diffusion of different molecules does not vary greatly from molecule co molecule. [H. Davson and J. F. Danielli (1952) The Permeability of Natural Membranes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 51-52.] Measurement of the actual diffusion rates of a variety of compounds in water shows that the diffusion rate varies inversely as the cube root of the molecular weight. This is a fascinating and important law, which is probably of critical significance. As Herbert Stern and D. L. Nanney explain in their Biology of Cells, “it means that the rate of diffusion is much the same for most molecules.” [H. Stern and D. L. Nanney (1965) The Biology of Cells (New York: Wiley), p. 77.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p34]

· To serve its biological role, diffusion must not be only very rapid over short distances, but its rate must be approximately the same for most of the key metabolites used by the cell. Both these criteria are satisfied by the diffusion of small metabolites in water. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p34]

· The diffusion of molecules in any fluid, whatever its viscosity, including water, has an important characteristic in that it is very rapid over short distances but very slow if there is far to go. In fact, the diffusion time increases with the square of the diffusion distance. Thus, if the diffusion distance is increased ten times, the time taken will be increased a hundred times. The physiologist Knut Schmidt-Nielsen calculated that in the case of oxygen diffusing into the tissues, it will attain an average diffusion distance of 1 micron (one-thousandth of a millimeter) in one ten-thousandth of a second, 10 microns in one-hundredth of a second, 100 microns in one second, 1 millimeter in one hundred seconds, 10 millimeters in three hours, and 1 meter in three years. [Schmidt-Nielsen, op. cit., p. 671.]  [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p34]

Viscosity and the Circulatory System

· Because of the increasing inefficiency of diffusion as a transport mechanism over distances greater than a fraction of a millimeter, no highly active organism more than a few millimeters thick can acquire and dispose of its metabolites by diffusion. Hence, to be viable all large organisms must have some additional means of acquiring and disposing of metabolites. In practice, this means some sort of circulatory or perfusion system. [As M. W. Clark (1948) Topics of Physical Chemistry (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins), p. 128, explains, “The slowness of diffusion over long distances and its great rapidity over short distances is, as the physiologist A. V. Hill who carried out pioneering work on diffusion in the thirties pointed out: ‘the basis of the capillary circulation and therewith the whole design of the larger animals.'”] In mammals billions of tiny capillaries permeate all the tissues of the body, transporting the necessary nutrients, including oxygen and glucose, to within diffusional reach of all cells where metabolic activities are occurring. Because diffusion is so ineffective over large distances, no active cell can survive in a mammal unless it is within about 50 microns from a capillary. In the active muscles of a guinea pig, there may be 3,000 open capillaries per square millimeter of muscle. This is a great number, occupying approximately 15 percent of the volume of the muscle, equivalent to 10,000 tiny parallel tubes running down a pencil lead. [As M. W. Clark (1948) Topics of Physical Chemistry (Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins), p. 146, explains, “The slowness of diffusion over long distances and its great rapidity over short distances is, as the physiologist A. V. Hill who carried out pioneering work on diffusion in the thirties pointed out: ‘the basis of the capillary circulation and therewith the whole design of the larger animals.'”][Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p35]

· It seems, then, the viscosity of water must be very close to what it is if water is to be a fit medium for life. It is sufficiently high to provide some protective buffering against shearing forces for the delicate structures of the cell and sufficiently low to ensure diffusion rates fast enough to allow for material exchange between the cell and its environment. In the case of higher organisms it must be low enough to permit perfusion of the tissues via a system of capillaries down to 3 to 5 microns in diameter, which are sufficiently small to bring within diffusional distance all the tissue cells of the body without their occupying a large proportion of the volume of the tissues. If it was much higher, diffusion would be prohibitively slow, and while very simple cell systems might be possible, large, complex, metabolically active organisms would not. No conceivable set of compensatory changes increasing the number or diameter of the capillaries, increasing the flow rate or decreasing average cell size, etc.—could be engineered to make mammalian life possible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p36-37]

Non-Newtonian Fluids

· Ordinary homogeneous fluids have a constant viscosity. Their fl.ow is directly related to the pressure applied. However, as Marcus Reiner points out in his Scientific American article “The Flow of Matter,” when a nonhomogeneous fluid, containing a suspension of particles like blood, is forced to fl.ow through a tube, it exhibits a curious behavior: when the pressure is doubled, the rate of fl.ow may triple. Remarkably, its viscosity becomes less as the pressure is increased. Liquids that behave in this way are called non-Newtonian. [M. Reiner (1959) “The Flow of Matter,” Scientific American 201(6):122-137.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p37]

· Now this apparently esoteric aspect of the phenomenon of viscosity is no triviality but rather a crucial adaptive property of blood. It means that when the blood supply to a tissue must be increased several fold, because blood behaves as a nonhomogeneous fluid consisting of red cells suspended in a watery fluid, then as the perfusion pressure increases, the viscosity conveniently declines. This effect greatly facilitates the increased delivery of blood to an organ when its metabolic activity is increased. The twenty-fold increase in the perfusion of mammalian muscles as strenuous activity commences is only possible because of this characteristic of a non-Newtonian fluid. What is particularly remarkable about this adaptive property is that the packaging of the hemoglobin (the oxygen carrying molecules in the red blood cell) in small particles, i.e., the red cells, rather than having them free in solution in the plasma, is itself adaptive, but for reasons completely unrelated to fluid flow or viscosity. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p37]

· These include the linking of the association and dissociation of oxygen and hemoglobin to a variety of sophisticated metabolic controls, which among other things assist in the buffering of the body against changes in its acidity and assist in the transport of carbon dioxide to the lungs. If the oxygen carrying molecules were free in solution, many of these adaptations associated with the reversible oxygenation of hemoglobin would have been in all likelihood impossible, and at the same time the advantage of the anomalous drop in viscosity when a suspension of particles is subjected to increased perfusion pressure would not accrue. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p37-38]

The Viscosity of Ice

· Remarkably, the viscosity of ice, the solid form of water, is also adaptive for life on earth. Just as the viscosity of liquids varies greatly, the viscosity of solids also varies over many orders of magnitude. Pitch, one of the least viscous of solids, has a viscosity about 1012 (1 trillion) times greater than that of water, while ice, which is a crystalline solid, has a viscosity 1016 times that of water. The rocks which make up the crust of the earth have viscosities ranging between 1025 and 1028 times that of water. So the range of viscosities of solids is 1016 [G. Ranalli (1987) Rheology of the Earth (Boston: Allen & Unwin), p. 71. A. Holmes (1965) Principles of Physical Geology (London: Nelson), pp. 61-62.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p38]

· If the viscosity of ice had been several times lower than it is, then glacial activity would have been much less effective in grinding down the mountains and releasing vital minerals into the hydrosphere. If ice had the viscosity of pitch, then glaciers would only have been a few feet thick and would have run gently down mountainsides, making little impression on the much harder rocks that make up the earth’s crust. On the ocher hand, it is fortunate that the viscosity of ice is not much higher than it is. If it were anything approaching that of granite, then all the water on earth would be immobilized at the poles and on the high mountain ranges. The earth’s higher latitudes would have been covered in vast sheets of granite-solid ice caps and the earth would have been sterile. There would be no liquid water on earth and no life. Today about 10 percent of the earth’s water is locked up as ice in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p38]

· It is possible that even if the viscosity of ice had been only 100 times greater, there would have been far less liquid water on earth and the climate would have been subject to rapid fluctuations from extreme heat to extreme cold, and it is very doubtful whether life as rich as it now exists on earth would have evolved. The actual value of the viscosity of ice would appear to be yet another adaptation of “water” that ensures that large bodies ofliquid water can exist on a planetary surface such as the earth’s. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p38]

The Density of Water

· It is clear that as living organisms are made up largely of water, then the density of water largely determines their weight. In the case of large terrestrial organisms on a planet the size of the earth, if water were several times as dense, then the maximum size chat could be attained would be only a fraction of chat actually attained by existing organisms. An upright bipedal humanoid species of design similar co Homo sapiens would not be feasible, for the weight of the body might well prevent its being lifted off the ground and maintained in an upright position. Nor could the limbs be moved unless the proportion of muscle was greatly increased. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p39]

· One set of adaptations that would theoretically be facilitated if water were less dense and organisms consequently less heavy per unit volume are chose associated with flight. However, as far as aquatic life is concerned, the consequences of water having a density much less than 1 gram per cubic centimeter would be severe. In such a hypothetical world, all other things being equal, carbon-based life forms (composed of 30 percent nonaqueous materials, mainly organic carbon compounds) would tend to sink like lead balloons to the ocean floor. On the other hand, if water was just a fraction heavier than it is, all carbon-based aquatic life would be restricted to floating on the surface. It is doubtful that many life forms, particularly microorgan40 isms, could survive the intense ultraviolet radiation that they would be subjected to if they were restricted permanently to the upper few millimeters of the sea. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p39-40]

Recent Discoveries

· Over the last few decades additional properties of water have come to light which further confirm its remarkable fitness. Morowitz points out: The past few years have witnessed the developing study of a newly understood property of water [i.e., proton conductance] that appears to be almost unique to that substance, is a key element in biological-energy transfer, and was almost cenainly of importance to the origin of life. The more we learn the more impressed some of us become with nature’s fitness in a very precise sense …. Proton conductance has become a subject of central interest in biochemistry because of its role in photosynthesis and oxidative phosphorylation. [Morowitz, op. cir., pp. 152-153.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p40]

· As Morowitz explains, both these key processes use proton conductance and hydrated ions which are major features of water: Once again the fitness enters in, in the detailed way in which the molecular properties of water are matched to the molecular mechanisms of bioenergetics. A property never imagined in Henderson’s time turns out to be a significant part of the fitness of the environment. [Morowitz, op. cir., p. 154.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p40]

· [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p41]

· [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p42]

Keeping Cool

· As a final example, consider the way that the large heat capacity, high latent heat of evaporation, heat conductivity, and low viscosity conspire together to serve the end of temperature regulation in a large organism like a man. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p42]

· Altogether, the work expended when a 100-kilogram man runs 10 miles in one hour will generate approximately 1,000 kilocalories of heat. If none of this heat were lost from the body during the run, it would raise the temperature of the body by I0°C. Such a temperature rise would almost certainly be fatal. If the body was constructed mainly out of, say, iron, salt, lead, or alcohol, rather than water, the temperature would be raised by I00°C, 50°C, 300°C, and 2o·c respectively. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p43]

· Liquids are poor conductors C8mpared with metals, but of all liquids, again water is at a unique maximum, having a thermal conductivity several times as great as the vast majority of liquids at ambient temperatures. [A. E. Needham, op. cir., p. 22.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p43-44]

· If the conductivity of water had been several times less, like that of absorbent cotton or wood, then even with the circulatory system conductivity would almost certainly have been too low to transfer heat to the surface of the body, and its elimination from the body, especially in situations of strenuous exercise, would pose insurmountable problems. The body would seize up like an overheated car engine. On the other hand, if the thermal conductivity of water was many times more, like that of copper, then the temperature of living things would equilibrate very rapidly with their environment, so that temperature regulation would be far more difficult to achieve. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p44]

· Changes in the environmental temperature would be rapidly conducted (as is the case with a piece of metal) throughout the body of the organism, which consequently would suffer continual swings of temperature. Small warm-blooded animals would probably be impossible, and even a large organism would experience difficulties in drinking a large quantity of cold water. To be fit for macroscopic life the thermal conductivity of water must be close to what it is. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p44]

· We see, then, that the very modest rise in body temperature after strenuous exercise is no ordinary phenomenon. It turns out to be dependent on the unique fitness of water as a buffer against changes in temperature. This fitness is dependent on four quite different physical properties of water that all exhibit a coincidental mutual fitness and which together perfectly fit water for this biological role. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p44]

· No other liquid is known which can even remotely approach the fitness of water for temperature regulation of a large terrestrial carbon-based form of life at the ambient temperature range of o·c to so·c. And, moreover, although some liquids such as ammonia and liquid sodium exhibit some of the thermal properties of water, none possess quite the same set of mutually adaptive properties. At certain temperatures liquid sodium, for example, exhibits a higher latent heat of evaporation than water but its thermal conductivity is very many times more than water, too high to permit any theoretical organism based in that medium to maintain a steady temperature in the face of environmental challenges. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p45]

· [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p45]

Conclusion

· As Henderson concluded, If doubts remain, let a search be made for any other substance which, however slightly, can claim to rival water as the milieu of simple organisms, as the milieu Interieur of all living things or in any of the countless physiological functions which it performs. [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 130-131.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p45]

· There is indeed no other candidate fluid which is remotely competitive with water as the medium for carbon-based life. If water did not exist, it would have to be invented. Without the long chain of vital coincidences in the physical and chemical properties of water, carbon-based life could not exist in any form remotely comparable with that which exists on earth. And we, as intelligent carbon-based life forms, would almost certainly not be here to wonder at the life-giving properties of this vital fluid. And if there is life like our own anywhere in the cosmos on some other earth, there will also be water and in all probability there will be seas and rivers and clouds and rain. There will be storms and waterfalls and icebergs, and surf will break on the beaches of that distant world. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p46]

· In the many mutually adaptive properties of this most remarkable of all fluids, we are brought dramatically face-to-face with an extraordinary body of evidence of precisely the sort we would expect on the hypothesis that the laws of nature are uniquely fit for our own type of carbon-based life as it exists on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p46]

Chapter 3: The Fitness of the Light

· The sun provides heat and light, both of which are essential to life.It is the heat provided by solar radiation in the infrared region of the spectrum which warms the earth, keeping the mean temperature of the earth above the freezing point of water and within the temperature range where the chemical reactions upon which life depends cart occur. It is the sun’s heat which energizes the great water cycle, drawing water by evaporation from the oceans into the atmosphere which then, via the precipitation of rain and snow, forms rivers and glaciers which carry the evaporated water back again to the ocean. And it is the energy provided by solar radiation within the visual region of the spectrum which drives the process of photosynthesis through which light energy is utilized to synthesize the fuels of life, the sugars and fats, which power the activities of virtually all complex forms of life on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p50]

· The sun’s radiation is essential in two ways: it provides the heat energy which keeps the earth’s temperature within the appropriate range for life and it provides the light energy necessary for photosynthesis. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p50]

Solar Radiation

· When electromagnetic radiation interacts with matter, energy is imparted. If the radiation is highly energetic in the X-ray or gamma-ray regions, this can tear acorns and molecules apart. On the other hand, radiation in the radio region imparts so little energy that it passes through matter with hardly any detectable effect. Only radiation in this tiny band-in the visual and infrared region-interacts gently enough with matter co be of utility co life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p51]

· Infrared radiation is also essential to life but for a different reason. When radiation in the infrared region of the spectrum interacts with matter, energy is imparted, which causes the random movement and vibration of atoms and molecules to increase. This we register as heat. As already mentioned, it is the heat imparted to the earth by radiation in the infrared region of the spectrum that keeps the earth’s hydrosphere warm, keeps water a liquid, and drives the climatic systems and the water cycle. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p52]

· Moreover, heat energy is important in another way. At least some heat is necessary for chemical reactions, because to interact chemically with one another, atoms and molecules must come into contact and this can only occur if they are in motion and may collide. Note, however, that heat energy is only of utility to the orderly chemical processes of life in a narrow temperature range-approximately that in which water is a liquid, [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p52]  

· Our amazement grows further when we note that not only is the radiant energy in this tiny region the only radiation of utility to life but that radiant energy in most other regions of the spectrum is either lethal or profoundly damaging. Electromagnetic radiation from gamma rays through X rays to ultraviolet rays is all harmful to life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p53]

·  Similarly, radiation in the far infrared and microwave regions is also damaging to life. Just about the only region of the electromagnetic spectrum which is harmless to life apart from the visible and the near infrared is the region of very long wavelength radiation-the radio waves. So the sun not only puts out all its radiant energy in the tiny band of utility to life but virtually none, in those region of the spectrum which are harmful to life. This coincidence is expressed in graphic form in the two diagrams below. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p53-54]

The Absorption of the Atmosphere

· Now this is a remarkable enough coincidence in itself But there are further coincidences to consider. To be of any utility to life, the radiation of the sun has to reach the surface of the earth. To do so it must pass through the atmosphere. Necessarily, any atmosphere surrounding a terraqueous planet containing carbon-based life is bound to contain some carbon dioxide gas, water vapor, at least some nitrogen, and for advanced highly active life forms considerable concentrations of oxygen. It is difficult to see how the actual concentrations of these gases could be very different from what they are in any atmosphere supporting a carbon-based biosphere (see discussion in chapter 6). [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p55]

· At the temperature range that exists at the earth’s surface, there is bound to be water vapor in considerable amounts in the atmosphere. The fact that the atmospheric gases oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor transmit 80 percent of the sun’s radiation in the visible and near infrared and allow it to reach the earth’s surface is another coincidence of enormous significance. The great majority of all atoms and molecular substances are completely opaque to visible light and radiation in the near-infrared region of the spectrum. Window glass, an example of a transparent solid which transmits light in the visible region, is exceptional. If the atmosphere had contained gasses or other substances which absorbed strongly visible light, then no life-giving light would have reached the surface of the earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p55]

· In the case of nearly all solid substances, layers only a fraction of a millimeter thick are sufficient to prevent the penetration of light. Even the atmospheric gases themselves absorb electromagnetic radiation very strongly in those regions of the spectrum immediately on either side of the visible and near infrared. The diagram below indicates the spectral regions absorbed by the atmosphere. [Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994), 15th ed., vol. 18, p. 200, fig. 5.] Note that the only region of the spectrum allowed to pass through the atmosphere over the entire range of electromagnetic radiation from radio to gamma rays is the exceedingly narrow band including the visible and near infrared. Virtually no gamma, X, ultraviolet, far-infrared, and microwave radiation reaches the surface of the earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p55]

· Despite these three remarkable coincidences, life would still not be possible without a fourth coincidence-the fact that liquid water is highly transparent to visible light. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p55]

The Absorption of Water

· The significance of the transparency of water to light cannot be exaggerated. All biological chemistry occurs in liquid water. If the energy of sunlight is to sustain life in the ocean then it must be capable of penetrating some distance below the surface of the sea. Even on land if light energy is co reach the chemical machinery of the cell it must invariably penetrate a thin layer of water. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p56]

· Nearly all electromagnetic wavelengths are strongly absorbed by water, except radio waves and light within the visible spectrum. 8 Even far ultraviolet and infrared radiation, the two bands immediately adjacent to the visible band, are absorbed readily by water and only penetrate a fraction of a millimeter below the surface. The absorption of visible light by water varies markedly across the visible spectrum. No red light can be observed below 18 meters. Yellow light only penetrates to 100 meters. By 240 meters most of the green and blue light has been absorbed. The absorbency spectrum of liquid water is shown in the diagram below.[Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994), 15th ed., vol. 18, p. 198, fig. 5.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p56]

· The very remarkable fact that the only region of the spectrum allowed through the atmosphere and allowed to penetrate liquid water is the tiny range of the spectrum useful for life is commented on in the latest edition (15th) of the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Considering the importance of visible sunlight for all aspects of terrestrial life, one cannot help being awed by the dramatically narrow window in the atmospheric absorption … and in the absorption spectrum of water. “[Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994), 15th ed., vol. 18, p. 203, fig. 5.] (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p56-57]

· The fact that water absorbs light in the far ultraviolet is of obvious biological significance, as it aces as another device co shield life from the damaging influence of ultraviolet radiation. Note that there are three independent mechanisms attenuating the UV flux reaching biological systems: 1. The radiant output of the sun falls dramatically from 0.40 microns to 0.30 microns so that very little ultraviolet radiation leaves the sun in the first place. 2. Ozone in the upper atmosphere absorbs UV light strongly below 0.30 microns. 3. Water (liquid and vapor) absorbs strongly below 0.20 microns. These factors together create a discontinuity at about 0.30 microns (see diagram below). [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p57-58]

· The very small amount of ultraviolet radiation that does reach the earth’s surface has clearly not hindered the evolution and development of life on earth. The spectacular success and persistence of life over the past 4 billion years indicates that life can thrive when subjected to at least some ultraviolet radiation and that the ultraviolet reaching the earth’s surface must have had little, if any, deleterious effect on life in general. In fact, very small amounts of ultraviolet may have played a significant role in evolution by raising slightly the average mutation rate. Without mutations, there can be no evolutionary change, and it is possible that the raised levels of mutation caused by the ultraviolet flux could have played a critical role in the evolutionary history of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p58-59]

· Another fascinating aspect of the fitness of the electromagnetic spectrum for life is the fact that both types of useful radiation, the visible and the infrared, are adjacent in the spectrum. What we have in effect are two adjacent playing cards back-to-back in a deck which extends across the cosmos. Just as the transparency of water to visible light and the fitness of the solar radiation for photochemistry are of necessity, so the close proximity of these two vital types of radiant energy gives every appearance of also being of necessity. If these two vital types of radiation were far apart in the spectrum, the possibility of prearranging nature so that they could both reach the surface of a watery planet in appropriate quantities from one unique source, such as the sun, would in all probability have been impossible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p60]

· We should indeed be awed and staggered by this series of coincidences: that the electromagnetic radiation of the sun should be restricted to a tiny region of the total electromagnetic spectrum, equivalent to one specific playing card in a deck of 1025 cards stretching across the universe; that the very same infinitely minute region should be precisely that required for life; chat the atmospheric gases should be opaque to all regions of the spectrum except this same tiny region; that water should likewise be opaque to all regions of the spectrum save this same infinitesimally tiny region, etc. It is as if a cardplayer had drawn precisely the same card on four occasions from a deck of 1025[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p60]

· Even with all these coincidences, unless the sun’s radiation reaching the earth’s surface had remained virtually constant throughout the past 4 billion years, life could never have survived and evolved as it has. The sun is fit as an energy source for carbon-based life forms not only in providing radiant energy with precisely the levels necessary for life, but also because it has provided that vital and necessary energy at an almost perfectly constant intensity for unimaginable eons of time. Even the slightest change in the output of radiant energy from the sun at any stage during the history of life would have had disastrous consequences. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p60-61]

Fitness for Vision

· The light of the sun is uniquely fit in yet another way for life on earth-the energy levels and wavelength of electromagnetic radiation in the visual spectrum are both uniquely fit for high-resolution vision. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p61]

· One reason that visual light is fit for biological vision is that if an eyes to “see” it must be able to detect the type of radiation forming the image. Light radiation is the only type of electromagnetic radiation that has the appropriate energy level for detection by biological systems. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p61-62]

· Not only are the energy levels and absorbance characteristics of light waves fit for detection by biological systems, but the actual length of the waves in the visual region of the spectrum is perfectly fit for the high-resolution camera-type eye of the precise design and dimension as that found in all higher vertebrate species, including man. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p62]

· Thus, various factors, including the wavelength of light, diffraction, the size of aperture, and chromatic and spherical aberration, together impose what we might term, after Horace Barlow, an instrumental limit on the resolution of the camera-type eye. However, this instrumental limit is not the only limit to the resolving power of the eye. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p65]

Micro-optical Constraints

· Clearly, no eye can resolve images smaller than the diameter of its individual photoreceptor units, and because of the inevitable constraints on cell design it is difficult to envisage photoreceptors much smaller than a few microns in diameter. (Most cells in higher organisms are between 10 and 50 microns in diameter.) This suggests that the cellular limit cannot be far removed from the instrumental limit of 2 microns imposed by the various factors alluded to above. Interestingly, the smallest photoreceptors in the vertebrate retina are in fact about 2 microns across. 20[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p65-66]

· The energy levels and the wavelength of light are of course only two aspects of the natural order that must possess precisely the properties and values they do for high-resolution vision to be possible. There are other features as well: there is the transparency of water to light; there is the low refractive index of water; there is the diffusion rates of small organic compounds in water to nourish the lens, which is a living tissue; there is the necessity for a large nervous system to analyze the visual data; and so on. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p67]

Seeing Outside the Visual Spectrum

· Compared with the visual spectrum, the other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum are not only totally unfit for biological vision, they would also appear to be far less fit for nonbiological vision. Even today, despite the development of radio and X-ray telescopes, much of our knowledge of astronomy has come from observations made through light telescopes. The following diagram summarizes some of the conclusions discussed above. And so it would appear that for several different reasons the visual region of the electromagnetic spectrum is the one region supremely fit for biological vision and particularly for the high-resolution vertebrate camera eye of a design and dimension very close to that of the human eye. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p69]

Conclusion

· While high-quality vision may not be essential to all life on earth, human existence would be inconceivable without it. While other species may be as reliant on seeing as humans are for survival, our uniquely human desire for knowledge could only have been satisfied, as Aristotle rightly points out in the opening paragraph of his Metaphysics, by the gift of sight. Virtually all our knowledge of the world, and particularly scientific knowledge, acquired over the past four centuries has been largely dependent on our possession of eyes of very high resolving power, or visual acuity, and capable therefore of bringing us a very detailed and information-rich image of our surroundings. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p70]

· We saw in the previous chapter that water, in many fascinating and highly intriguing ways, is uniquely and ideally fit for the type of carbonbased life that exists on earth, not just for simple unicellular microbial life but also for large terrestrial organisms. The evidence presented in this chapter shows that the light of the stars is also, no less than water, supremely fit for life, again in a multitude of different ways. Moreover, again, as in the case of water, this fitness is not merely for simple microbial life, but for large complex organisms such as ourselves. It is fit to provide the warmth upon which all life on the earth’s surface depends. It is fit for photosynthesis, which generates the reduced carbon fuels, whose oxidation provides energy for all complex life on earth, and it is fit for vision, the key adaptation through which our own species gained knowledge of the world. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p70]

Chapter 4: The Fitness of the Elements and the Earth

· In which the biological significance of various elements of the periodic table is examined. The fitness of the cosmos for carbonbased life is highlighted by the fact that the cosmic abundance of the elements corresponds to their abundance in living organisms and that the space between the stars is filled with immense quantities of organic compounds. Further representatives of every class of atoms in the periodic table are necessary for life. Even uranium atom 92 is essential for life, providing the heat and energy required for tectonic activity and the turnover of the earth’s crustal rocks, which in conjunction with the water cycle ensures the chemical constancy of the earth’s surficial layers. The properties of some of the mineral.r which play such a vital role in the maintenance of this chemical constancy are examined. The fact that recent astronomical studies suggest that solar systems not too dissimilar to our own, containing rocky planets somewhat like the earth, may be relatively common can be taken as farther evidence of nature’s fitness for carbon-based life. It is concluded that habitats like the earth which are so fit for a rich complex carbon-based biosphere are not freakish events but rather the inevitable end of natural law. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p71]

· This, as most other of the Atheists’ Arguments, proceeds from a deep Ignorance of Natural Philosophy; for if there were but half the sea that now is, there would be also but half the Quantity of Vapours, and consequently we could have but half as many Rivers as now there are to supply all the dry land we have at present, and half as much more; for the quantity of Vapours which are raised, bears a proportion to the Surface whence they are raised, as well as to the heat which raised them. The Wise Creator therefore did so prudently order it, that the seas should be large enough to supply Vapours sufficient for all the land.[-John Ray, The WisMm of God Manifested in the WOrdr of Creation, 170] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p73]

· The earth, “with its atmosphere and oceans, its complex biosphere, its crust of relatively oxidised, silica rich, sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks overlying [a magnesium silicate mantle and core] of metallic iron, with its ice caps, deserts, forests, tundra, jungles, grasslands, fresh-water lakes, coal beds, oil deposits, volcanoes, fumaroles, factories, automobiles, plants, animals, magnetic field, ionosphere, mid-ocean ridges, convicting mantle … is a system of stunning complexity.” [-J. S. Lewis, in F. Press and R Siever, Earth, 1986] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p73]

· many different atoms are used in living things, and in many cases life is critically dependent on these atoms having precisely the properties they possess. Of the 92 naturally occurring atoms, 25 are presently considered essential for life. Of these 25, 11 are present in all living things and in approximately the same proportions. These are hydrogen (H), carbon (C), oxygen (0), nitrogen (N), sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), chlorine (Cl), potassium (K), and calcium (Ca). Together these atoms make up 99.9 percent of the human body. Another 14 atoms are present in very small amounts in most living organisms, but often in varying amounts, and are known as trace elements. These are vanadium (V), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), molybdenum (Mo), boron (B), silicon (Si), selenium (Se), fluorine (F), and iodine (I). Another 3 atoms, arsenic (As), tin (Sn), and tungsten (W), are known to be essential in many organisms, but in many cases their biological role is obscure. [J. J. R. Frausto da Silva and R. J.P. Williams (1991) The Biological Chemistry of the elements (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 3-4. P. A. Cox (1995) The Elements on Earth (Oxford: Oxford University Press).] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p75-76]

· Thus, life processes utilize atoms from nearly all the groups in the table. As J. J. R. Frausto da Silva and R. J. P. Williams comment: The biological elements seem to have been selected from practically all groups and subgroups of the periodic table (the only exceptions are groups III A and IV B, besides that of the inert gases) and this means that practically all kinds of chemical properties are associated with life processes within the limits imposed by environmental constraints. [Frawto and Williams, op. cit., p. 5.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p76]

· Cosmic and Biological Abundance of the Elements Most of the atoms actually utilized in living organisms occur in the first half of the periodic cable from hydrogen (H), atom 1, to molybdenum (Mo), atom 42. After molybdenum only selenium (Se), iodine (I), and tungsten (W) play any role in living things, and even these atoms are not essential in most organisms. The fact that the atoms in the first half of the table are also the most abundant fits well with the notion that the atom-building system is designed specifically to generate the elements of life. Note that the atoms from carbon (C) to iron (Fe), which are the most important atoms utilized by living things, are all relatively abundant. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p76]

· The fact that the majority of the uranium and thorium rose to the surface layers during differentiation is fortunate and may be of great significance. Rock is not a good conductor, and it is possible that unless a major fraction of these radioactive elements had floated to the surface, the heat generated by radioactivity may not have been so easily lost by conduction from the crustal layers. Being trapped in the earth’s interior may have caused a very large increase in temperature over time, and with no conductive escape this might have led to a far more violent level of volcanism and turbulence in the earth’s center. This may well have repeatedly destabilized the crustal layers and the hydrosphere in violent and explosive episodes of volcanism, rendering the earth’s surface far less fit as a habitat for life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p82-83]

· The actual cosmic abundance of the radioactive elements has also been critical to their geophysical role in heating the earth. If too abundant, the earth-sized planets would be molten for eons of time; if too rare, no heating would ever have occurred. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p83]

Plate Tectonics

· But briefly, when two tectonic plates collide, one plate, “the overriding plate,” is crumpled and uplifted into great mountain chains, while the other, “the underlying plate,” is forced down into the Earth’s interior. This remarkable process results in the continual recycling of the Earth’s crustal material, including the many elements essential for life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p83]

· In itself the tectonic cycle would be insufficient to maintain an environment fit for life. It is only through the integration of the tectonic cycle with another great geophysical cycle, the hydrologic cycle, that the physical and chemical constancy of the environment is ensured. The water cycle is so familiar that it needs little further comment here except to say chat it is almost entirely due co the weathering by water that the elements in the uplifted crustal rocks are returned again to the sea. The extraordinary mutual fitness of these two cycles for the maintenance of the constancy of the environment is self-evident (see below). Like two gigantic cogwheels engineered to fit perfectly together, these two great cycles have turned together in perfect unison for billions of years, ensuring the continual turnover and essential cycling of the vital elements of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p83-84]

The Magnetic Shield

· The earth has a magnetic field which shields it from ionizing radiation from the sun and cosmic radiation originating from the depths of space. The way in which the field is generated has not yet been fully worked out, yet it seems likely that the movement of molten iron in the center of the planet, driven by convection currents, plays a critical role.[Press and Siever, op. cit., p. 479.] About 1 billion amperes of current is needed to produce the earth’s magnetic field. This is nearly as much electric current as the total amount generated by man throughout history. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p85-86]

· We now know that the magnetic field deflects away from the earth, the solar wind, cosmic radiation, and the intense ionizing radiation which periodically bursts from the surface of the sun, preventing all but about 0.1 percent from reaching the earth. The biological significance of this protective shield is controversial. Even without the shield, the atmosphere would absorb most of this radiation before it reached the earth’s surface. Moreover, during periods when the earth’s magnetic field reversed, the earth was temporarily left without any protection, perhaps for a duration of several years, and such reversals have occurred repeatedly. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p86]

· Another possible “biological role” of the magnetic field may be to protect the ozone layer, which prevents most of the damaging ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth’s surface. Ionizing radiation, which reaches the upper atmosphere, is known to be a major cause of nitrous oxide (NO) production, which in turn causes the destruction of ozone. Without the magnetic field, it is doubtful if more than a fraction of the current ozone levels could be maintained. [W. D. Parkinson (1983) Introduction to Geomagnetism (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press), pp. 356-357. M W. McElhinney (1973) Paleomagnetism and Plate Tectonics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 146-147.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p86]

Silicates and Clay

· Another feature of the earth which is ultimately the result of the heat generated by radioactivity is the fact that the surface rocks of the earth are largely silicates. This apparently esoteric fact is of great biological significance because the end product of silicate weathering by water and carbon dioxide is clay, which forms a major component of soil and plays a vital biological role by absorbing and retaining water and the key elements for plant life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p86]

· This water- and ion-absorbing characteristic of clay resides in its unique layered structure-like the pages of a book-in which each page consists basically of a layer of silicon and oxygen atoms. These atoms carry charges which attract other charged atoms (ions) and water so that the whole structure acts as a great reservoir holding ions in the soil and preventing their being leached out by water as it percolates through the soil. The total internal surface area of clays vastly exceeds the area of their external surfaces. [N. C. Brady and R. R. Weill (I 996) The Nature and Properties of Soils (En’f)ewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall), pp. 242, 270.] As two leading soil scientists point out: “Next to photosynthesis and respiration, probably no process in nature is as vital to plant life as the exchange of ions between soil particles and growing plant roots. These cation and anion exchanges take place mostly on the surfaces of the finer or colloidal fractions of both the inorganic matter–clays and humus. ” [N. C. Brady and R. R. Weill (I 996) The Nature and Properties of Soils (En’f)ewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall), p. 241] “Cation exchange joins photosynthesis as a fondamental life-supporting process. Without this property of soils terrestrial ecosystems would not be able to retain sufficient nutrients to support natural or introduced vegetation.” [N. C. Brady and R. R. Weill (I 996) The Nature and Properties of Soils (En’f)ewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall), p.270.] (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p86-87]

· There seems little doubt that were it not for the almost universal occurrence of clay minerals in soil, there would be no large terrestrial plants on earth and consequently no large terrestrial mammals. [C. F. Ugolini and H. Spaltenstein (1992) “Pedosphere,” in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, ed. S.S. Butcher et al. (London: Academic Press), pp. 123-153; seep. 128.] In a very real sense our existence depends on the fact that the most common crustal rocks weather to what would appear to be an ideal material for the growth of plant life, absorbing both water and the essential nutrients needed for growth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p87]

· It is surely a “coincidence” of great significance that the very rocks which by virtue of their viscosity and density will inevitably form the crustal rocks on a planet like the earth are weathered by the two substances water and carbon dioxide, the key ingredients of any carbon-based biosphere, into a substance that forms an ideal substratum for the growth of plants. It is clear from this brief excursion into the fields of geophysics and geochemistry chat uranium is in a very real sense, no less than carbon, essential for life. Moreover, co gee co uranium from hydrogen, obeying the acombuilding rules which nature has decreed means that inevitably a considerable number of “intermediate atoms” such as the “rare earths” will necessarily be created, albeit in very small amounts. So we can at least tentatively conclude that the whole periodic table is in essence biocentric, from alpha to omega, from hydrogen to uranium, the lase naturally occurring element. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p87]

· Moreover, although many of the elements in the second half of the table seem, at present, of no direct relevance to life, we should recall that the origin of life is still mysterious, and it is certainly conceivable that the properties of many of the elements considered nonessential today may eve11.tually prove to have some exotic but perhaps critical biological role in the process. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p87]

The Properties of Minerals

· It is obvious that a great many of the physical and chemical properties of the minerals that make up the earth’s crust and mantle must be very close to the observed values or the whole crustal recycling system would be untenable; indeed, the earth would be, in all probability, unrecognizable and quite incapable of supporting carbon-based life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p87-88]

· If the crustal rocks were less viscous, say, like pitch, the mountains would have melted into vast flat plains and nothing we would call a mountain chain would exist on the surface of the earth. If the viscosity of the rocks of the mantle had been substantially less, the convective turbulence would have been immense and the surface of the earth subject to daily movements and volcanism. If the viscosity of the mantle had been much greater than it is, on the other hand, the convection currents would have ceased and the tectonic system would have ground to a halt. And it is not only the viscosity of the minerals which must be very close to the observed values. If the elements essential for life are to be effectively recycled through the crustal rocks and hydrosphere, the solubility of the various compounds in which the key elements occur in the crustal rocks must also be close to the observed values. For example, the solubility of silicate minerals (which contain the element silica) is thousands of times lower than the solubility of the carbonate minerals (which contain carbon) such as calcite and dolomite, which make up limestone. If the carbonates had been less soluble, then all the carbon on earth would have been locked up in the limestone sediments and there would have been insufficient carbon in the hydrosphere to support life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p88]

· On the other hand, if the silicates had been as soluble as the carbonates, then the hydrosphere would have been overwhelmed with vast quantities of potassium, aluminum, silica dioxide, calcium, chloride, and other elements converting the sea into a supersaturated viscous sludge. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p88]

· Every one of the cycles essential to life on earth-the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorus cycle, the sulfur cycle, the calcium cycle, the sodium cycle, and so on-involves a host of different chemical compounds and processes which carry the essential elements from the rocks to the sea, where they are deposited in the oceanic sediments, incorporated into the crustal rocks, and then via tectonic uplift and volcanism carried again to the surface, where the weathering cycle can recommence. [J. E. Fergusson (1982) Inorganic Chemistry and the Earth (Oxford: Pergamon Press); see chap. 7.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p88-89]

· The maintenance of the approximately constant levels of each of the twenty-five or so elements essential to life in the hydrosphere over the past 4 billion years via a set of interlocking cycles-the water, carbon, iron, magnesium, tectonic cycle, and so on–conjures up the image of a vast terrestrial dock with the size and configuration of all its component cogs superbly tailored to fit perfectly together to ensure that the whole turns harmoniously and fine tuned to ensure that the individual cycles turn at the appropriate rate to maintain the required level of each of the elements, essential to life, in the hydrosphere. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p89]

Gaia

· The constancy of the chemical and physical characteristics of the hydrosphere, maintained as it is by a complex and exquisitely integrated set of interlocking geochemical cycles, has led a number of authors to regard the earth as a homeostatic system analogous to a living organism. As Siever comments in a Scientific American anicle entitled “The Dynamic Earth”: “In spite of all the changes that are observed at many different scales of space and time, the Earth as a whole stays remarkably constant …. it has become apparent … that the core, the mantle, the crust, the oceans and the atmosphere can be … viewed as a complex, interacting system in which there is a cyclic flow of materials from one reservoir to another …. The Earth as a vast recycling system has its counterpart in the physiological model of dynamic equilibrium known as homeostasis. “[R. Siever (1983) “The Dynamic Eanh,” Scientific American 249(3), pp. 30-39.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p90]

· The way in which these various factors-tectonic uplift, the crustal silicates, etc.-work together to ensure temperature stability and constant carbon dioxide levels over millions of years is very striking. The fact that (1) the silicates are the major crustal rocks, that (2) their weathering by the two major components of a carbon-based biosphere, water and carbon dioxide, produces a substance–clay-which is an ideal substratum for the growth of plants, and that (3) at the same time, the very same weathering process controls, via a negative feedback loop, both global temperature and carbon dioxide levels (which must be stringently controlled if plant life or any form of life is to thrive on earth) is further striking evidence of the fitness of the cosmos for carbon-based life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p90-91]

· If the Gaia hypothesis is correct, then Gaia would be, as Lovelock points out, “the largest living creature on Earth”[J. E. Lovelock (1987) Gaia: A New Look at Life on earth (Oxford: Oxford University Press); see Preface.p.34] and we and all other living things would be parts and partners of a vast being who in her entirety has the power to maintain our planet as a fit and comfortable habitat for life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p93]

· Although the position taken here differs from Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, there are some obvious parallels and the two viewpoints are not, of course, mutually exclusive. From the teleological position advocated here, when biology interacts with chemistry to maintain the constancy of the environment, this is the result of a preexisting mutual fitness of carbon-based life and the earth’s hydrosphere. Thus, the constancy of the environment does not arise because the earth is itself a “living, self-regulating entity” but rather because the laws of nature are fit to that end. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p91]

· When the trees on the edge of a forest suffer some injury, which might be from insects or microorganisms, they send messages across the forest warning the other trees of the impending attack. Forewarned of the danger, the trees preempt the attack by secreting chemicals that are harmful to the invading insects or microorganisms. In the case of the African Acacia, the pheromone is ethylene gas.[D. Attenborough (1995) The Private Life of Plants (London: BBC Books), p. 70.]  [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p91-92]

· le is possible to think of all the individual members of a particular bacterial species as being members of a superorganism spread out all over the earth. [E. Pennisi (1995) “The Secret Language of Bacteria,” New Scientist, September 16, pp. 30-33.] This is not so far-fetched as it seems, because all the members of a bacterial species are in continuous genetic communication by the exchange of genetic material via the plasmid system. If one individual bacteria acquires resistance to an antibiotic, it is this genetic communication system which spreads resistance very rapidly throughout the world to all the other bacterial members of the same species. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p92]

The Earth’s Fitness

· This excursion into the earth’s sciences has shown that the criteria that must be satisfied by a planet if it is to possess a stable hydrosphere fit for carbonbased life are quite stringent. Press and Siever comment:35 “Life as we know it is possible over a very narrow temperature interval … this interval is perhaps 1 or 2% of the range between the temperature of absolute zero and the surface temperature of the sun.” And they note that chis range of temperatures is only found on a planet at approximately the distance that the earth is from the sun. Continuing, they comment on the size of the Earch:36 Earth’s size is just about right-not too small that its gravity was too weak to hold the atmosphere and not so large that its atmosphere would hold too much atmosphere including harmful gases …. the Earth’s interior is a delicately balanced heat engine fuelled by radioactivity …. were it running too slowly … the continents might not have evolved to their present form …. Iron may never have melted and sunk to the liquid core, and the magnetic field would never have developed …. If there had been more radioactive fuel, and therefore a faster running engine, volcanic dust would have blotted out the Sun, the atmosphere would have been oppressively dense, and the surface would have been racked by daily earthquakes and volcanic explosions. [Press and Siever, op. cit., p. 4.] -[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p93]

· The impression gained from these considerations is that there is nothing unusual about Earth and that, given the cosmic abundance of the elements, the laws of nature will generate a planet with chemical and physical characteristics very similar to those of Earth, with a hydrosphere supremely fit for life. The fact that the other rocky planets, Mars, Mercury, and Venus, and the Moon appear to have undergone analogous changes serves to support the conclusion. Recent studies of the voluminous data brought back by the various space missions to Mars since the 1970s, reviewed by Jeffrey Karge! and Robert Strom in Scientific American, suggest that in the past Mars may have been a world remarkably similar to Earth: “with flowing rivers, thawing seas, melting glaciers and perhaps abundant life.”[J. S. Kargel and R. G. Strom (1996) “Global Climatic Change on Mars,” Scientific Amnican 275 (5):80-85; see p. 80.] -[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p94]

· The evidence suggests that Mars has experienced a complex climatic history punctuated with many relatively warm episodes. The evidence for glaciation on Mars consists of geological features which closely resemble those on Eanh: “bouldery ridges of sediment left by melting glaciers at their margins and meandering lines of sand and gravel deposited beneath glaciers by streams running under the ice … and apron-shaped lobes of rocky debris seen on the flank of some Martian mountains [which are probably] ‘rock glaciers’ like the ones that form within the Alaska Range.”[J. S. Kargel and R. G. Strom (1996) “Global Climatic Change on Mars,” Scientific Amnican 275 (5):80-85; see p. 82] And even the recent pictures beamed back to earth by NASA, from the Mars Rover, are reminiscent of a typical desert scene on Earth today. -[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p94]

· Why, for instance, did Mars cool down and lose its seas? Why is Venus so hot? But reasonably plausible explanations can be provided. In answer to the question “How did the three planets-especially Earth-get to their present-day states?” [A. Henderson-Sellers ( 1986) “The Evolution of the Earth’s Atmosphere,” in The Breathing Planet, ed. J. Gribbin (Oxford: Basil Blackwell), pp. 19-26; seep. 21.] Ann Henderson-Sellers suggests: “The most important parameter, by a long way, is the mean global surface temperature at the time when an atmosphere began to form. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p94-95]

· Given gravity, the cosmic abundance and properties of the atoms, the properties of the minerals formed by the combining of atoms, the phenomenon of radioactivity, the viscosity of silicate rocks, etc., then an earthlike planet with a stable hydrosphere, with oceans and rivers and rain, with mountains and volcanoes, with clay soils, with calcite rock, with a silicate crust, with plate tectonics, may be an almost inevitable end of geophysical evolution. The fact that two adjacent planets in our own solar system, Mars and Earth, are so strikingly similar, provides strong evidence in support of the notion that life-supporting planets are the inevitable end of natural law. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p95]

Other Solar Systems

· If the cosmos is indeed uniquely fit for life as it exists on earth, then the existence of planetary systems capable of harboring life should be relatively common. Over the past few years techniques capable of detecting large planets the size of Jupiter and Saturn have for the first time provided convincing evidence that other planetary systems do in fact exist and may also be quite cornmon.42[Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p95-96]

· Indeed, as the authors of a recent Nature article comment: “Our inference … suggests that planetary systems are abundant in the Galaxy. We speculate that if life arises readily on terrestrial planets, then life, too, may be abundant. The recent announcement that rocks from Mars may contain evidence of life would, if confirmed, support this speculation. Our nearest neighbours may be very near indeed.” [See “Worlds Around Other Scars Shake Planet Birth Theory,” in the “Research News” section, Science 276: 1336-1339. p.144]There may even be life in the oceans of Europa, perhaps drawing energy from geothermal sources like the hydrothermal fauna on the ocean floor of our own planet. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p96]

· And there is another final and intriguing twist to the story. The fact that a significant proportion of all planetary systems may contain large Jupiter sized gaseous planets in the same approximate position they occupy in our solar system has further teleological significance: first, because recent theoretical modeling of the dynamics of solar systems suggest that a large gaseous planet occupying the same position as Jupiter does in our own solar system confers dynamical stability to the whole planetary system, ensuring that the orbits of the other smaller planets are stable over billions of years and, second, because as planetary scientist George Wetherill points out, “without a large planet positioned precisely where Jupiter is, the earth would have been struck a thousand times more frequently in the past by comets and meteors and other interplanetary debris. [G. W. Wetherill (1995) “How Special is Jupiter?” Nature 373:470. See also G. W. Wetherill (1993) “Our Friend Jove,” Discover, July, p. 15. See also M.A. Corey (1995) The Natural History of Creation (Boston: University Press of America); seep. 69.] Wetherill continues that if it were not for Jupiter “we wouldn’t be around to study the origin of the solar system. “[Wetherill (1993).] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p96]

· The emerging picture is entirely in keeping with the teleological presumption that nature is ordered to generate terraqueous planets closely resembling Earth-uniquely fit for the origin, and evolution, of carbon-based life. As we did with water and carbon, we can represent again the unique fitness of the earth for our kind of carbon-based life in the form of a graph plotting all known planetary environments against their utility or fitness for carbon-based life. What we get is a unique optimum indicated by the uniqueness and sharpness of the peak. This is perfectly consistent with the hypothesis: that there is one environment determined by the laws of nature (the hydrosphere of a planet of the same size and distance from its sun as Earth) that is uniquely and ideally fit for carbon-based life. If there had been. several other types of environment having some fitness for carbon-based life, so that the plot resembled the pattern seen in the graph below, the design hypothesis would have been effectively disproved . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p97-98]

Conclusion

· all possible planetary environments We have learned several lessons &om this excursion into the earth sciences: first, that atom building must continue to uranium if there is to be life; second, that the existence of a stable hydrosphere uniquely fit for life on the surface of a planet like the earth is not a matter of chance but the determined end of natural law; and third, that the existence of carbon-based life in this unique and marvelously stable hydrosphere depends on a vast panoply of geophysical and geochemical conditions and processes as well as the physical and chemical properties of a very great number of chemical compounds, minerals, and gases. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p 98]

· And we also learn that what appears to be the ideal and unique physical and chemical environment for life, the earth’s hydrosphere, depends on a series of genuine and profound coincidences in the nature of things. There is the coincidence that main sequence stars like the sun provide a uniquely constant and ideal source of radiant energy to energize the water cycle on which life itself depends while at the same time emitting visible light of just  the required energy levels for photobiology. Then there is, first, the coincidence chat planets the size of the earth have just the proper mass to heat up sufficiently co cause, by outgassing, the formation of a hydrosphere shortly after their formation; second, that this mass provides sufficient gravitational force to retain the atmosphere and hydrosphere after the initial formation; and, third, a planet of a mass equal to the earth’s has the required geophysical properties co-drive the crustal tectonic cycle, which itself is so perfectly fit to function in unison with the water cycle. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p 98-99]

· It is hard co escape the feeling chat planets fit for our type of life will not only have seas and booming surfs and gentle rain, they will also have volcanoes and great mountain chains on which glaciers will form and from which rivers will emerge and carry the vital nutrients of weathering into the seas and throughout the hydrosphere. There will be continental drift and plate tectonics. It is a familiar picture, and not in the least contingent, but rather the inevitable and determined outcome of natural law. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p99]

Chapter 5: The Fitness of Carbon

· Nature has been kinder to us than we had any right to expect. As we look out into the universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together for our benefit, it almost seems as if the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming. [-Freeman Dyson, Scientific American magazine, 1971] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p103]

Organic Compounds

· The possibility that living things might be some sort of carbon-based chemical machine had already been raised in the late eighteenth century when Antoine Lavoisier and Pierre Laplace established that water and carbon dioxide are the products of animal and human respiration and that the oxidation of carbon and hydrogen was the source of animal heat and an essential process of life.[R. E. D. Clark (1961) The Universe: Plan or Accident? (London: Paternoster Press), p. 119.] However, the critical role of carbon and its compounds in the design of life was only fully appreciated in the second half of the nineteenth century. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p105]

· Shortly after Wohler and the collapse of the vitalistic doctrine, the English chemist William Prout suggested for the first time in his 1834 Bridgewater Treatise entitled Chemistry, Meteorology, and the Function of Digestion that the carbon atom may be uniquely fit for life because of its potential to form vast numbers of diverse compounds.[W. Prout (1855) Chemistry. Meteorology, and the Function of the Digestion, 2nd ed. (London: Bohn), p. 6. Prout was well-known in his day as the first to propose the notion chat the atomic weights of all the elements were multiples of the atomic weight of hydrogen, the first to divide foods into sugars, fats, and proteins, and as the discoverer of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p105]

The Carbon Atom

· The reason for the unique diversity and number of carbon compounds lies in certain unique characteristics of the carbon atom, atom 8 in the periodic table.6 & the British. chemist Nevil Sidgwick explains in his classic textbook Chemical Elements and Their Compounds: Carbon is unique among the elements in the number and variety of the compounds which it can form. Over a quarter of a million have already been isolated and described, but this gives a very imperfect idea of its powers, since it is the basis of all forms of living matter. Moreover it is the only element which could occupy such a position. We know enough now to be sure that the idea of a world in which silicon should take the place of carbon as the basis of life is impossible …. [N. V. Sidgwick (1950) The Chemical Elements and their Compounds, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 490. As Sidgwick explains, the reason for the stability of carbon compounds is chat “in the first place the typical four-covalent state of the carbon atom is one in which all the formal elements of stability are combined. It has an octet, a fully shared octet, an inen gas number, and in addition, unlike all the other elements of the group, on octet which cannot increase beyond 8, since 4 is the maximum covalency possible for carbon. Hence the saturated carbon atom cannot co-ordinate either as donor or as acceptor, and since by far the commonest method of reaction is through co-ordination, carbon is necessarily very slow to react and even in a thermodynamically unstable molecule may actually persist for a long time  unchanged. More than 50 years ago Victor Meyer drew attention to the characteristic unevenness (Tragheit) of carbon in its compounds, and there is no doubt that this is its main cause.”] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p106]

· A striking aspect of this great molecular plenitude is that the atoms which comprise it–carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen-are among the first few atoms manufactured in the stars and also among the most abundant overall in the cosmos. And remarkably, two of these atoms, hydrogen and oxygen, form water, the matrix of carbon-based life. It is as if from the very moment of creation the biochemistry of life was already preordained in the atom building process, as if Nature were biased to this end from the beginning . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p109]

· The vast and unique plenitude of organic compounds can only be exploited by living systems within a temperature range of approximately -20°C to 120°C. It is only within this range that the majority of carbon compounds have their characteristic metastability, which permits the intricate and sophisticated manipulation of their constituent atoms by the chemical machinery of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p111]

· The diagram below indicates the temperature range in which carbon compounds exhibit the necessary metastability to make them of utility to life. It is surely a highly suggestive coincidence that the chemical reactivity of the one great class of compounds, uniquely fit in so many other ways to  serve as the building blocks of life, is of optimal utility far the complex atomic and molecular manipulations associated with life in precisely that temperature range-0°C to J00°C-in which water, the one fluid supremely fit to serve as the matrix for carbon-based life forms, exists as a liquid at sea level on the earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p112]

· It is interesting to note in passing that liquid water would not exist on earth if the atmospheric pressure was less than half what it is. Which implies (since the density and pressure of a planet’s atmosphere is largely determined by its size) that it is unlikely that planets much smaller than the earth would contain large quantities of liquid water for any long period of time. At pressures much higher than atmospheric, liquid water can exist at temperatures of up to several hundred degrees. Much of the water in the earth’s crust is in fact much hotter than 100°C. However, water at such temperatures is of little utility for carbon-based life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p112]

The Weak Bonds

· The covalent chemical bonds which link the atoms together in organic compounds are not the only type of chemical bond utilized in living systems. There is another class of bonds, known as weak, or noncovalent, bonds. There are several different types of weak bonds. [The bonds are: ionic bonds, van de Waals forces, hydrogen bonds, and the hydrophobic force. A detailed description of these bonds can be found in any major textbook of biochemistry.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p113]

· Nature has provided no other glue to hold together the molecular superstructure of the cell. While we cannot have carbon-based life in the cosmos without covalent bonds, as there would be no molecules, just as certainly, we cannot have carbon-based life without these weak noncovalent bonds-because the molecules would not have stable, complex 3-D shapes. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p114]

· In fact, weak bonds are even more temperature-sensitive than covalent bonds.· Most weak bonds in existing biomolecules such as proteins are disrupted by increases in temperature which leave covalent bonds intact. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p114]

· The disruption of weak bonds occurs in two very familiar processes in the kitchen-in the heating and beating of egg white, both of which cause the egg white to whiten and coagulate. In a fascinating discussion in Scientific American in 1981, Jearl Walker described the role of the weak bonds in the making of a lemon meringue pie: When a cook forces a whisk through egg whites, shearing the fluid, some of the weaker bonds are ruptured and parts of the 30 structure of the proteins [present in the egg white] are destroyed. The cook does not totally disrupt the proteins because the forces [the covalent bonds] holding them in their primary structures are comparatively strong …. Any such altering of the structure of a protein is called denaturing. Once the proteins are partially unravelled [denatured] they begin to attach themselves co one another to form a three-dimensional mesh or gel. This interaction between the proteins is unlikely before denaturation because the proteins are relatively globular and relatively few of their sites for possible [weak] bonds are exposed. When the mixture is heated … the heat further denatures the proteins, unravelling them further and thus enabling the mesh to stretch … coagulating the whites into a firm structure. 25 [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p114-115]

Conclusion

· In short, then, the covalent compounds of carbon, and especially those containing oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, the substances of life, possess just those characteristics of complexity, diversity, and metastability essential if any sort of complex chemical system is to manipulate its atomic and molecular components in complex and intricate ways. Moreover, this plenitude is of maximum utility in the same temperature range that water, the ideal matrix for life based on carbon chemistry, is a liquid, and where the weak bonds can be utilized to maintain the delicate three-dimensional molecular conformations upon which the functions of the cell’s molecular machinery depend. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p116]

· Carbon is so uniquely fit for its biological role, its various compounds so vital to the existence of life, that we may repeat the aphorism, “If carbon did not exist, it would have to be invented.” The unique fitness of the carbon atom can be represented graphically as shown below. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p116]

Chapter 6: The Vital Gases

Oxidation

· All higher organisms obtain their energy supply from one of the most important chemical reactions on earth-the complete oxidation of reduced hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water: reduced carbon compounds + oxygen = water + carbon dioxide. As the oxidant in this reaction is oxygen itself, the process can only occur in an aerobic environment. This key reaction provides many times more energy than any of the multitude of alternative energy-generating reactions. Without it, higher active forms of life would not be possible. [Fenchel and Findlay, op. cit.; see chap. 2, pp. 62-63, and chap. 5.] The energy generated is used to manufacture the energy-rich molecules of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) in the mitochondria-a process called oxidative phosphorylation. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p120]

· Oxidation has many advantages. First, oxygen far surpasses any other chemical element except fluorine in the amount of energy liberated in the process of combining with other elements. Fluorine is, however, dangerously reactive at ambient temperatures. Also, while the chemical combination of hydrogen and oxygen results in the formation of water, when fluorine reacts with hydrogen, the product hydrofluoric acid is one of the most dangerously reactive of all acids. Moreover, fluorine has a great affinity for carbon and consequently the bonds between fluorine and carbon are very strong and can only be broken with considerable difficulty. [N. V. Sidgwick (1950) The Chemical Elements and Their Compounds, vol. l (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 1124-1129.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p120-121]

· Second, the compounds of carbon and hydrogen, which are the two most common atoms in organic compounds, are especially well qualified to be reservoirs of chemical energy liberated by oxidation, because hydrogen far exceeds any other element in the amount of energy that it yields upon oxidation and carbon is surpassed only by hydrogen and one other element, boron. Although there is less energy in compounds of hydrogen and carbon that also contain oxygen, such as sugars, proteins, and fats, a sufficient amount remains to make them highly efficient energy stores, holding far more energy than most other elements and far greater reservoirs of energy than the compounds of any other elements. Henderson was struck by the coincidence that oxygen is very nearly the most reactive atom, releasing great amounts of energy when reacting with other atoms, and that of all oxidations, those of reduced carbon compounds yield the most energy: “The very chemical changes, which for so many other reasons seem to be best fitted to become the processes of physiology, turn out to be the very ones which can divert the greatest flood of energy into the stream of life. “[L. J. Henderson (1958) The Fitness of the Environment (Boston: Beacon Press), pp. 247-248.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p121]

· To summarize, oxygen is fit (1) because of the great amount of energy released when it combines with hydrogen and carbon, and (2) because its chemical reactivity is attenuated at ambient temperatures (below about 50°C), allowing living systems to utilize this awesome energy source in a controlled and efficient manner. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p123]

The Solubility of Oxygen

· The chemical fitness of oxygen to living systems can only be exploited if additional conditions are satisfied. The solubility and rate at which oxygen diffuses in water is obviously critical. Since water is the matrix oflife, if oxygen was either insoluble in water or chemically unstable in an aqueous solution, it would be incapable of playing any biological role. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p123]

· If it was any lower, organisms would not be able to extract oxygen from an aqueous solution at a sufficient rate to satisfy their metabolic needs. Even as it is, all actively metabolizing organisms depend on complex physiological adaptations to extract and transport sufficient quantities of oxygen to satisfy their energy needs. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p123]

· Clearly, if the solubility of oxygen or its rate of diffusion in water had been significantly less, then no conceivable type of circulatory or respiratory system would have been capable of delivering sufficient oxygen to suppon the metabolic activities of highly active, warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms in an atmosphere with a partial pressure of oxygen of 150 mm Hg. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p124]

· if the solubility constant of oxygen had been significantly lower, then oxygen would be of little utility to life on earth, especially to organisms with high metabolic rates, such as mammals. It is doubtful indeed if any complex active organisms would have been possible, as no other chemical means of energy generation remotely as efficient as oxidation is available to carbon-based life forms. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p125]

· The very oxygen which supports their lives is toxic to them and they survive precariously, only by virtue of elaborate defence mechanisms.” [I. Fridovich (1976) “Oxygen Radicals, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Oxygen Toxicity” in Free Radicalr in Biology. ed. W. A. Pryor, vol. 1 (New York: Academic Press), pp. 239-240.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p125]

· Many body cells die if directly exposed to the oxygen in the atmosphere, 18 and in fact the partial pressure of oxygen in most of the tissues is only about 50 mm Hg, which is about one third of that in the atmosphere. [V. B. Mountcastle (1968) Medical Physiology. vol. 1 (St. Louis: C. V. Mosby), p. 631.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p125]

· It is evident, then, that oxygen’s solubility (and diffusion rate) in an aqueous fluid must be very close to what it is. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that the solubility of substances in water varies over many orders of magnitude. The solubility of many common gases varies over a range of nearly 1 million. The solubility of carbon dioxide, another gas of vital importance to life, is about twenty times greater than that of oxygen. [Pollack, op. cit., p. 1324.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p126]

· In summary, oxidation is fine because (1) of the enormous energies released when oxygen combines with other atoms, (2) the activity of oxygen is attenuated at ambient temperatures, and (3) oxygen has the appropriate solubility in water. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p126]

· Curiously, the very many simple microbial species that utilize reactions which do not require the presence of free oxygen in the atmosphere are probably essential to aerobic life in a number of ways. For example, many may be involved in the cycling of the elements through the hydrosphere, and it may be that the origin of life occurred in an anoxic environment; and save for the capacity of some primitive unicellular organisms to thrive without oxygen, it may never have occurred. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p127]

· The total pressure of the earth’s atmosphere is critical to life, particularly to highly active aerobic organisms like mammals, which depend on a complex respiratory system to deliver the oxygen in the air to the blood in the lungs. Recall first that respiration in vertebrates involves drawing air into the lungs (inspiration) via a system of branching tubes into tiny air sacs, or alveoli, where the oxygen in the air is absorbed by the blood, and then its expulsion (expiration) via the same set of tubes. Again, it is hard to imagine how the respiratory system in higher vertebrates could be much improved. In the adult human, gaseous exchange occurs across a special respiratory membrane lining the lungs which consists of 300 million alveoli. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p127]

· The very low viscosity and density are particularly critical because a significant proportion of the work of breathing is involved in overcoming what is termed “airway resistance,” and this is determined directly by the density and viscosity of the air. [Ibid. V. B. Mountcastle (1968) Medical Physiology. vol. 1 (St. Louis; C V. Mosby), pp. 622-626. Encyclopaedia Britannica (1994), 15th ed., vol. 26, p. 745.] . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p128]

· When the pressure is increased to several times atmospheric pressure, this resistance becomes prohibitive. [Bennett and Elliott, op. cit.; see chap. 4, pp. 76-109; p. 81.] It is clear that if either the viscosity or the density of air were much greater, the airway resistance would be prohibitive and no conceivable redesign of the respiratory system would be capable of delivering sufficient oxygen to a metabolically active air-breathing organism. If the atmospheric pressure were ten times greater, the work of respiration would be prohibitive. If it were about ten times less, the body fluids would vaporize at 38°C.28. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p128]

· if the atmosphere was several times more dense, this might reduce the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and the continents might be converted to arid wastelands. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p129]

· Oxygen makes another contribution to life in providing the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere which performs the vital function of protecting life from what would otherwise be lethal levels of ultraviolet radiation. The ozone shield effectively absorbs all the damaging UV radiation below 0.30 microns. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p130]

· Curiously, ultraviolet radiation is a particularly potent activator of oxygen in the near ultraviolet and it is via the activation of oxygen that ultraviolet radiation exerts many of its mutagenic effects. [J. W. Drake (1970) The Molecular Basis of Mutation (San Francisco: Holden-Day), p. 171.] In effect, oxygen, by providing ozone in the upper atmosphere, protects life not only from ultraviolet radiation but also from its own reactivity, which is dangerously enhanced by ultraviolet light. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p130]

· Our ability to breathe and to utilize the vital properties of the oxygen atom depends on a long and deep chain of coincidences in the nature of things. There is in the end nothing contingent about the choice of oxidation as the major source of energy for life on earth. Without the energy inherent in the chemistry of oxidation, life would have remained frozen forever at the primitive unicellular stage it reached on earth long before the Cambrian explosion and the development of complex multicellular life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p130]

· It is not that life adapted to oxygen or to the atmospheric conditions on the earth, but rather that long ago, long before the first or ganisms, long before the formation of the earth, the design of oxidative metabolism and the general character of the atmosphere of our planet was already built into the order of the cosmos. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p130-131]

Carbon Dioxide

· Despite all the energy that oxidation supplies to life, unless the end products of oxidative metabolism were innocuous and harmless and easy to dispose of, oxidative energy would not be available co life. In fact, the final two products of the oxidative breakdown of organic compounds are water and carbon dioxide. ( reduced carbon + oxygen = water + carbon dioxide ) Water is not only harmless to life, it is the very matrix of life. And we have already seen just how wonderfully and in so many ways water is adapted to life. Organisms have at their disposal a great number of means by which to rid themselves of excess water produced in the course of metabolism: via kidneys, via evaporation, via contractile vacuoles, and so forth . . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p131]

· The other end product of oxidative breakdown of organic compounds, carbon dioxide (C02), possesses a number of physical and chemical properties which are critical to life on earth. If carbon dioxide had been a toxic substance, if it had been a liquid insoluble in water, if it had been a solid, if it had dissolved in water forming a strong acid, the complete oxidation of carbon to carbon dioxide would have been impossible and complex carbonbased life would in all probability never have evolved. However, carbon dioxide is none of these things. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p131]

Excretion

· In fact, carbon dioxide is a relatively unreactive compound and a gas at ambient temperatures. That it is a gas should, as Needham points out, “be emphasised since it is one of the very few gaseous oxides at ordinary temperatures (water vaporises more than most others).”[A. E. Needham (1905) The Uniqueness of Biological Materialr (Oxford: Pergamon Press), p. 35.] Moreover, that carbon dioxide is an innocuous soluble gas which car1 be readily excreted from the body of terrestrial organisms via respiration is of enormous utility. As Henderson says: In the course of a day a man of average size produces as a result of his active metabolism, nearly two pounds of carbon dioxide. All this must be rapidly removed from the body. It is difficult to imagine by what elaborate chemical and physical devices the body could rid itself of such enormous quantities of material were it not for the fact that … in the lungs … [carbon dioxide] can escape into air which is charged with little of the gas. Were carbon dioxide not gaseous, its excretion would be the greatest of physiological tasks; were it not freely soluble, a host of the most universal physiological processes would be impossible. [Henderson, op. cit., pp. 139-140.] . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p131-132]

The Regulation of Acidity

· Like Henderson, the protein chemist John Edsall was also struck by the remarkable nature of the system: “The combination of the acidity and buffering power of H2 C03 with the volatility of C02 provides a mechanism of unrivalled efficiency for maintaining constancy of pH in systems which are constantly being supplied as living organisms are with acidic products of metabolism.”[Henderson, op. cit., p153]. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p133]

· It turns out, then, that both the maintenance of acid-base balance in the body and the excretion of the end product of oxidative metabolism, co2, depend crucially on the chemical and physical properties of co2 itself and its hydration product, bicarbonate. Thus both the problem of excretion of the end product of carbon metabolism and the problem of acid-base balance are both elegantly solved in the properties of the same remarkable compound–carbon dioxide. It is a solution of breathtaking elegance and parsimony based on another set of mutual adaptation in life’s constituents. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p133]

· The mutual fitness of the chemical actors for their respective roles in this the central metabolic drama of life is simply astounding. If these compounds did not possess precisely the chemical and physical properties they do, the drama would be impossible, and it is exceedingly difficult to envisage an alternative. . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p134]

· For Bentley’s point is well taken. Things could have been otherwise as far as we can tell. For example, if 0 2 and C02 were not gases, the design of large terrestrial carbon-based organisms obtaining energy by oxidative metabolism would in all probability be impossible. Carbon-based life forms such as mammals are critically dependent not only on the fact that 0 2 and co2 are gases but also on the low viscosity of water which makes possible (as we saw in the previous chapter) a circulatory system which is itself essential if the gaseous properties of 0 2 and C02 are to be exploited. Water is not only a key chemical player in the metabolic scheme of oxidative metabolism, but also through its low viscosity it provides the physical means, i.e., the circulatory system, by which the various chemical and physical properties of the other players, particularly the gases O2 and co2‘ may be utilized in the case of large terrestrial life forms. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p135]

· If hydration was instantaneous, this would mean that whenever the metabolism of carbon was increased, the increased quantities of Co2 generated would immediately hydrate, producing carbonic acid which would then dissociate, releasing H ions and subjecting the cell to sudden violent fluctuations in acidity that might well be lethal in higher organisms. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p135]

· Thus, as Henderson remarks, “the waters can never wash [C02] out of the air, nor keep it from the waters. It is the one substance which thus, in considerable quantities relative to its total amount, everywhere accompanies water.”[Henderson, op. cit., p.138] Not only does the gaseous nature of carbon dioxide greatly facilitate the excretion of the carbon from the body of large organisms; this same gaseous nature and its solubility and absorption properties provide what would seem to be the perfect means of distributing the carbon atom to every pan of the hydrosphere in the atmosphere and in the rivers, lakes, and seas. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p137]

Photosynthesis

· Photosynthesis is another absolutely vital biological process. Nearly all complex plant and animal life on earth depends upon it. It generates all the fuel-the reduced carbon compounds such as the sugars and fats, etc. which energize complex life on earth. Like respiration, it is so familiar that its remarkable nature fails to strike us. And like respiration, it is very hard to imagine any other process which could replace it to sustain complex life. Simple forms of life can obtain energy from sources other than sunlight, but for a rich, complex world on the surface of a planet there is no alternative to photosynthesis. And just like respiration, photosynthesis is possible only because each of the key players in the process-water, carbon dioxide, and oxygen-have precisely those properties they have. The fact that both C02 and 0 2 are gases which can be readily taken up or excreted by the plant cells is crucial; also important are the facts that carbon dioxide is distributed universally throughout the hydrosphere, that water is ubiquitous, and that the solubilities of carbon dioxide and oxygen are as they are. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p137]

· Moreover, we have already seen that in addition to all this, the sun’s light is perfectly fit for photochemistry, and the transparency of the atmosphere and liquid water are perfectly fit for sunlight’s penetration to the surface of the earth. Photosynthesis also depends on the unique light-absorbing characteristics of the magnesium atom in chlorophyll. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p137-138]

· Henderson’s conclusion in The Fitness of the Environment has certainly stood the test of time: Accordingly, we may finally conclude chat the fitness of water, carbonic acid, and the three elements make up a unique ensemble of fitness for the organic mechanism …. There is nothing about these substances which is … inferior to the same thing in any ocher substance … not a single disability of the primary constituents … has come to light. [Henderson, op. cit.,pp. 266-267.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p138]

· The fitness … [of these compounds constitutes] a series of maximaunique or nearly unique properties of water, carbon dioxide, the compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and the ocean-so numerous, so varied, so complete among all things which are concerned in the problem chat together they form certainly the greatest possible fitness. [Henderson, op. cit., p. 272.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p139]

· The organizer of the symposium, Christopher Langton, explained: Anificial Life is the study of man-made systems chat exhibit life-like behaviour characteristic of natural living systems …. By extending the empirical foundations upon which biology is based beyond the carbon-chain life chat has evolved on earth, Artificial Life can contribute to theoretical biology by locating life as we know it within the larger picture of life as it could be.[C. G. Langton (1989) “Artificial Life,” in Artificial Lift, ed. C. G. Langton, Proceedings  of an Interdisciplinary Symposium held in September 1987 in Los Alamos, New Mexico (Redwood City, Calif: Addison-Wesley), pp. 1-48; seep. l.] [My emphasis.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p145]

· According to an article in a recent issue of the Scientific American: Such products, depending on design and purpose, might roam through the human body, invading cancerous cells and rearranging their DNA. Other machines might swarm as a barely visible metallic sheen over an outdoor construction site. In a few days an elegant building would take shape …. Every hour entire factories no larger than a grain of sand might generate billions of machines that would look like a mass of dust streaming steadily from the factory doors-or like a cloudy solution suspended in water. [A. K. Dewdney (1988) “Computer Recreations,” Scientific American 258(1):88-91.]  [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p146-147]

· The sheer genius of modern technology and its achievements encourages the belief that, however complex life’s design, it must eventually be equaled in a machine. Possessing a technology so sophisticated that we can contemplate the design and construction of a submarine as small as a red blood cell, a computer smaller than a bacterium, objects which are every bit as complex in terms of number of components per unit volume as living systems, encourages the belief that machines will one day be built which are capable of self-replication, and that artificial life based on a completely different design to that on earth will finally be achieved. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p147]

· The contrast between the apparent ease with which life forms assemble and replicate themselves and the absolute failure to simulate this effortless activity in any son of nonliving artificial system is very striking. While engineers have been dreaming about the possibilities of artificial self-replicating automata over the past fifty years, advances in biology since the early fifties have gradually revealed how the miracle of self-replication is actually realized in living things. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p148]

· It is evident, then, that DNA has not one, but many properties which are wonderfully fit for its role as the genetic molecule: (1) the essential double helical structure, which is fit for self-replication and for the transmission of genetic information, (2) great chemical stability in water, (3) a metastable character consequent on the relatively low binding affinity of the two strands, which assists the machinery of the cell in pulling apart the helix for example during replication-and which confers flexibility on the molecule permitting it to adopt a variety of alternative shapes which are critical to gene expression, (4) the tiny distortions along the length of the helix-another consequence of its metastability-which greatly facilitates information retrieval by proteins, (5) the ability to be superfolded and -compressed into highly compact structures, which allows the storage of massive amounts of information in very tiny volumes (an essential requirement if it is to perform the genetic role in complex multicellular forms of life). [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p156]

· One fascinating aspect of this work is the possibility that some of the various alternative helical replicators, such as the PNAs, may have been used by very primitive life before the current DNA-RNA system evolved. They may even have played a crucial role in the origin of life. If indeed some alternative DNA-like replicators were utilized by early life on earth, then on purely selectionist grounds it is hard to see how they could have been superior and yet selected against and thus have lost out in the evolutionary race. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p159]

· The fact that proline has 4 codons may relate to its helix-breaking properties (a probable reason for its original choice as one of the 20 amino acids in the first place-see the discussion in the next chapter). Before concluding that the code is not maximally fit, we should remember also that the origin of the coding system and its early evolution are still mysterious. It may be that there is a reason for these apparent anomalies rooted in as yet undiscovered necessities associated with the evolution of the code. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p165-166]

Conclusion

· If life is the result of design, then every component must be perfectly fit for the end it serves. There can be no exceptions. If the genetic code is indeed less than optimum, then the entire teleological worldview collapses. Fortunately, in the case of the code we still have insufficient knowledge of protein structure and function to judge the code as clearly “nonoptimal.” Our knowledge of evolution is also incomplete. In the case of DNA and RNA, we are on safer ground; nearly everything we have learned since 1953 is at least consistent with the possibility that DNA and RNA are both ideally and uniquely fit. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p166]

· And DNA may be fit for its biological role in other ways of which at present we have only the haziest notion. For example, DNA can form many other conformations in addition to the double helix. It can also form what are called cruciform structures and the so-called triple helices. Triplex DNA is particularly intriguing, as there are a number of possible biological processes in which it could function, such as in recombination and in regulating gene expression. [D. Maxime, M. D. Frank-Kamenecskii, and S. M. Mirkin (1995) “Triplex DNA Structures,” Annual Review of Biochemistry 64:65-95.] Then there is the equally intriguing possibility raised recently by a paper in Science that DNA may provide the basis for a subcellular computing system.[D. K. Gifford (1994) “On the Path to Computation with DNA,” Science266:993-994.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p166-167]

· The biological solution to the “constructor device problem,” the way through the wall, is of course to be found in the characteristics and properties of a remarkable class of self-assembling biopolymers-the proteins. As I shall try to explain in the following chapter, as the universal nanoconstructors in a self-replicating automaton, they have no peer. They represent a solution of surpassing brilliance to von Neumann’s problem of the universal constructor. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p167]

Chapter 8: The Nano-manipulators

· The very great structural and functional diversity of proteins is one of the key characteristics of these remarkable molecules which contributes to their unique fitness as the molecular constructor devices of the cell. To appreciate more fully some of the other characteristics of proteins that tailor them so superbly for their biological role as the working components of life, it is necessary to digress here and review some basic aspects of their chemical design for those readers unfamiliar with this area of biochemistry. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p174]

· Finally, in this context it is interesting to note that the amino acids in proteins are often modified chemically in a variety of ways after the amino acid chain has folded into its native form. In effect, because of these chemi cal modifications, nature has available far more amino acids than the twenty actually used as the basic building blocks of proteins. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p178-179]

· In effect, those amino acids that are only sparingly soluble in water are forced by water into a tight water-avoiding ball. This ball provides the environment in which synthetic reactions, particularly condensation reactions that involve the removal of a molecule of water and which are almost impossible to carry out in an aqueous medium, can be easily performed. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p181-182]

· The strength of the weak bonds is obviously critical to the ability of the proteins to interact selectively with other ligands in the cell. If the weakbonds were weaker, then no protein would be able to bind specifically to any other molecule in the cell. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p182-183]

· If on the other hand these bonds were stronger, then proteins and their ligands would be bound so strongly that, once in place, they could never be removed. Consequently, the rapid association and dissociation of the protein and ligand on which so many protein functions, such as enzymic functions, depend would be impossible. In effect, proteins and all the constituents of the cell would be frozen into rigid immobile structures. The low diffusion rates would be incompatible with cellular existence. As Watson points out in Molecular Biology of the Gene, the low energy levels of these bonds are precisely what is required for enzymic function: Enzyme-substrate complexes can be both made and broken apart rapidly as a result of random thermal movement. This fact explains why enzymes can function so quickly, sometimes as often as 106 times per second. If enzymes were bound to their substrates by more powerful bonds they would act more slowly. [J. Wacson (1976) The Molecular Biology of the Gene, 3rd ed. (Menlo Park, Calif: W. A. Benjamin), p. 100. Chap. 4 contains a discussion of the role and biochemical significance of weak bonds.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p183]

· If we imagine a world in which the ratio between the strength of covalent and weak bonds was, say, 2 to 1 rather than 20 to l, then the weak interactions would tend to rip the strong bonds apart. Pulling off and reattaching our tape would break the very string holding our plastic balls together. On the other hand, if the ratio between the strength of covalent and weak bonds was increased to 200 to l, combinations of weak bonds would be incapable of achieving the necessary energy levels to strain, break, and form specific covalent bonds within the substrate. The atomic manipulation of matter by proteins would be impossible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p183]

· Precisely because of their metastability and the weakness of the interactions that hold them on the edge of chaos, the conformation of a protein can easily be altered if it binds to another molecule. Any such interaction will cause molecular distortions which will be transmitted throughout the molecule. These discrete conformational changes effect the functioning of the protein. In the case of an enzyme, they often result in significant changes in its activity. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p184]

· Recent advances in protein chemistry have revealed that the millions of different functional proteins appear to fall into about a thousand major families which share basic structural characteristics. But it is still uncertain whether these families represent a major fraction of all possible structural forms or just a small subset. Again, our knowledge is too limited. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p186]

RNA

· During the 1980s the unexpected finding was made by Thomas Cech that RNA molecules could act like enzymes and catalyze chemical reactions.  Since then a considerable number of RNA-catalyzed reactions have been documented.7 However, despite their many catalytic capabilities, it seems very unlikely that RNA molecules could carry out the vast diversity of biological functions carried out by proteins. For example, many synthetic reactions catalyzed by proteins are carried out in hydrophobic niches where water is excluded and RNA molecules are unable to form large nonpolar niches. The chemical properties of RNA molecules are also less diverse, being constructed out of only four bases, while proteins are made up of twenty different amino acids. Also, as the authors of a recent review point out, RNA is far less fit for allosteric regulation than proteins. 8 RNA strands are also far less amenable to being folded into complex, compact molecular structures. Although we cannot completely exclude the possibility, it seems extremely unlikely RNA could substitute for proteins in the great majority of diverse devices and materials used in living systems. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p186]

· Although RNA molecules cannot compete with modern proteins, RNA, because it can both carry information and function as an enzyme, may have served the function of both DNA and proteins in the most primitive cells shortly after the origin of life. It is an intriguing fact that RNA molecules are particularly suited for carrying out manipulations of RNA molecules self-manipulations-and in a world where the cell was largely a collection of RNA molecules, this may have been an ability of critical significance. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p186]

· In the entire realm of science no class of molecule is currently known which can remotely compete with proteins. It seems increasingly unlikely that the abilities of proteins couU be realized to the same degree in any other material form. Proteins are not only unique, but give every impression of being ideally adapted for their role as the universal constructor devices of the cell. Again, we have an example in which the only feasible candidate for a particular biological role gives every impression of being supremely fit for that role. And there is yet another, final aspect to the remarkable fitness of proteins. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p188]

· The mutual fitness of the large groove and the a helix for DNA-protein recognition must be considered a coincidence of very great significance, as recent work in this area has revealed that a great many DNA-recognizing proteins insert a protruding a helix into the major groove of the DNA helix when binding to the DNA. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p190]

· The protein-DNA recognition system contains a particularly intriguing play on the number four. In the largest genomes unique combinations of 4 bases are about 15 bases long. As we have seen above, given the existing energy levels of the weak chemical bonds involved in protein-DNA binding, protein recognition complexes can bind reversibly to DNA sequences up to this length but not to lengths much greater. We have also seen that because of the natural twist in the DNA double helix, protein recognition motifs such as the a helix can only feel along about 4 bases in the DNA double helix. It has often been said that God is a mathematician; on the evidence of molecular biology we might add that He is keen on the number four. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p192]

Conclusion

· Everything that has been learned about the chemical and physical properties of DNA and protein since the early 1950s increasingly confirms the wonderful fitness of these two remarkable molecules for their respective biological roles in the replicative cycle. The number and complexity of their mutual adaptations is growing continually as biological knowledge advances. But already the picture is impressive enough: the mutual fit of the a helix into the large groove of the DNA; the fact that both DNA and proteins are linear polymers so that the information in a DNA sequence can be translated via a coding system into the amino acid sequence of a protein; the fact that the four bases confer geometric perfection and great chemical stability on the DNA helix; the fact that four bases seems to be the ideal number for two different coding systems-the well-known genetic code specifying for the 20 amino acids in proteins and the DNA-protein recognition system whereby proteins are able to recognize unique DNA sequences long enough to function as unique target sequences in the genome; the fantastic diversity of proteins and their ability to regulate their own activities; the fact that the energy levels of the weak interactions are at precisely the level needed to confer on proteins their metastable character and to bind reversibly to unique DNA sequences and thereby to retrieve the information in the genes. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p192-193]

· We have seen that, in the case of water, the carbon atom, the process of oxidation, the light of main sequence stars, the earth’s hydrosphere, etc., the evidence suggests strongly that each is uniquely and optimally fit for its particular biological role. If the teleological position is correct, the DNA protein system should also be uniquely and maximally fit for the advanced type of cellular life that exists on earth today. Note that the teleological position does not imply that all self-replicating chemical systems will necessarily utilize or depend on this particular partnership, that self-replication can only be achieved using DNA and protein. The early evolution of life, for example, may have proceeded via a series of simpler replicating systems which contained neither DNA nor proteins-including some based entirely on RNA or RNA analogues. Teleology only implies that the partnership should be uniquely fit for the self-replication of a biochemical system as sophisticated and complex as the current cell system. And the evidence is certainly consistent with such a conclusion. Considering the bewildering suite of mutual adaptations–discussed above and in the previous chapter-it seems hardly conceivable that there could be any other two molecules as mutually fit, or more perfectly adapted to play the fundamental roles of “information bearer” and “constructor device” in a self-replicating automaton as complex and intricate as the cell. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p193]

Chapter 9: The Fitness of the Metals.

· Of all the metals there is none more essential to life than iron. It is the accumulation of iron in the center of a star which triggers a supernova explosion and the subsequent scattering of the vital atoms of life throughout the cosmos. It was the drawing by gravity of iron atoms to the center of the primeval earth that generated the heat which caused the initial chemical differentiation of the earth, the outgassing of the early atmosphere, and ultimately the formation of the hydrosphere. It is molten iron in the center of the earth which, acting like a gigantic dynamo, generates the earth’s magnetic field, which in turn creates the Van Allen radiation belts that shield the earth’s surface from destructive high-energy-penetrating cosmic radiation and preserve the crucial ozone layer from cosmic ray destruction. And it is iron which by its delicate association with oxygen in the hemoglobin in human blood is able to convey in subdued form this most ferociously reactive of atoms, the precious giver of energy, to the respiratory machinery of the cell, where oxygen’s energies are utilized to fuel the activities of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p198]

· Without the iron atom, there would be no carbon-based life in the cosmos; no supernovae, no heating of the primitive earth, no atmosphere or hydrosphere. There would be no protective magnetic field, no Van Allen radiation belts, no ozone layer, no metal to make hemoglobin, no metal to tame the reactivity of oxygen, and no oxidative metabolism. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p198]

· Professor Robert J. P. Williams of Oxford University, in a fascinating review entitled “The Symbiosis of Metals and Protein Function,” which summarized current knowledge in this area, concludes: In this essay I have not wanted just to repeat the message that metal ions are incorporated and used in biology in a particular way. Rather I wish to assert that biology without metal ions does not exist any more than biology exists without DNA or proteins. Metal ions are … an essential part of energy and dynamics …. No matter what we know about DNA and RNA and even of sugars the nature of the machinery of life rests with these two components, metal ions and proteins …. The all pervading influence of metal ions in biological systems is such that I now declare that in my mind there is no biology without metal ions.3 [My emphasis.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p198-199]

· Iron, for example, is nearly as common as carbon. Given their abundance, in any biocentric view, one would expect that the metals would be of considerable utility for life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p199]

· And it has turned out that many of the metals do indeed play a vital role in some of the most fundamental biological processes and the evidence increasingly suggests that many of these processes are dependent on the precise chemical and physical properties of particular metal atoms. Close to one-third of all enzymes involve a metal ion as an essential participant. [E. Frieden (1974) “Evolution of Metals as Essential Elements,” in Protein-Metal Interactions,ed. M. Friedman (New York: Plenum Press), pp. 1-31; seep. 11.] An excellent review of this topic is given by Frausto da Silva and Williams in their Biological Chemistry of the Elements. [J. J. R. Fralisto da Silva and R. J.P. Williams (1991) The Biological Chemistry of the Ekments (Oxford: Oxford University Press).] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p199]

Electron Conductors

· One key role plays by metals in the cell is the formation of electronic circuits, and one area where these play a vital role is in energy metabolism. Moreover, it is only the transitional metal atoms, particularly iron and copper, which possess precisely the properties required to form an electronic circuit. No other atoms will do. Only the transitional metals, having far more complex electron shells with many more energy states than the simpler atoms such as sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), etc., possess the appropriate electrochemical characteristics to trap and channel electronic energy. The unique electric conducting properties of the  transitional metals are also utilized in human technology to make wire conductors. As Frausto da Silva and Williams comment, “man makes his wires from metals such as copper; biology makes hop conductors from metal ions embedded in protein.” [J. J. R. Fralisto da Silva and R. J.P. Williams (1991) The Biological Chemistry of the Ekments (Oxford: Oxford University Press).p.107] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p199]

· If no atoms in the periodic table were specifically fit for this highly specialized role, then the controlled and efficient utilization of the energy of oxidation could not be achieved. Advanced life forms would in all probability be impossible. If we are to have electronic circuits in living organisms, these will be made of transitional metal wires. But the transitional metal atoms not only provide the electronic circuits of the cell upon which the efficient exploitation of oxidative energy is critically dependent, they also possess precisely the required complement of chemical and physical properties which permit organisms to manipulate the oxygen atom, without which oxidative metabolism would be impossible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p200]

· As Ernest Baldwin points out in his Introduction to Comparative Biochemistry. “It must take up oxygen where the partial pressure is high and give it up again equally readily to the tissues in which the pressure is low …. in other words, the compound of the … respiratory pigment with oxygen must be such that it readily dissociates.” [E. Baldwin (1964) An Introduction to Comparative Biochemistry. 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 81.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p201]

· The question arises as to whether a respiratory pigment designed on radically different principles to hemoglobin might be possible. The question was raised by Earl Frieden when he asked, “Why has no other essential metal … or other type of respiratory protein developed to satisfy this important function?” Because, he continues, such a pigment “needs to be able to form a stable dissociable complex with the highly reactive molecule, 0 2 , and, as he points out: “Transition metals excel in this capacity; few other chemical groups can do this. In fact all efforts to devise other physiologically compatible, model oxygen carriers have failed to date …. The compounds that come closest to emulating the oxygen-binding properties of hemoglobin … contain transitional metal iom.” [Frieden, op. cit., pp. 20-21.] (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p201-202]

· Water would also almost certainly have to be excluded from the binding site, and this would lead inevitably to something like the hydrophobic heme cleft in hemoglobin.The evidence is consistent with the possibility that hemoglobin is the ideal and unique respiratory pigment for metabolically active air-breathing organisms such as ourselves, and that its unique abilities depend in turn not only on the unique properties of the transitional metal atoms but on the specific properties of one of these atoms-iron. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p202]

· The fitness of the iron atom for reversible binding to oxygen is of course only one of many mutual adaptations in the nature of things which make possible the delivery of oxygen to the metabolically active tissues in a large organism like a mammal. There is also the fact that oxygen is soluble in water; that the viscosity of water is sufficiently low to make the design of a circulatory system possible; that the viscosity of a non-Newtonian fluid. i.e., one containing a suspension of particles–decreases as the pressure increases, a phenomenon which greatly facilitates the propulsion of the blood through the tissues in times of high metabolic activity; that carbon dioxide is a gas, and so on. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p202]

· On its significance, Frieden comments: “If a biochemist is asked to identify the one enzyme which is most vital to all forms of life, he would probably name cytochrome c oxidase. This is the enzyme, found in all aerobic cells, which introduces oxygen into the oxidative machinery that produces the energy we need for physical activity and biochemical synthesis …. This enzyme may be regarded as the ultimate in the integration of the function of iron with copper in biological systems. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p203-204]

· Remarkably, cytochrome c oxidase also contains two other metal atomszinc (Zn) and magnesium (Mg)-alchough their function is mainly structural. All in all, the activity of this remarkable nanomachine depends on the unique properties of four metal atoms-iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and magnesium (Mg) and as well as these metal atoms, like any other protein, its basic structure is built up of hydrogen (H), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), oxygen (0), and sulfur (S). In other words, here is one atomic machine which is composed of and exploits the unique chemical and physical properties of nine of the ninety-two naturally occurring elements. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p204]

Molybdenum

· we have what appears to be another case in which life on earth is critically dependent on the specific chemical properties of a unique constituent. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p205]

· In biological systems, it is calcium which is preeminently used where chemical information must be transmitted at great speed, as in the triggering of muscle contraction, transmission of nerve impulses across the synapse, triggering hormone release, the changes following fertilization, etc. As Williams points out in his review, “Amongst the metal ions available to biology only calcium can be high in concentration, can diffuse rapidly, can bind and dissociate strongly.” [Williams, op. cit., p. 238.] (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p206]

· As one author, commenting on the suitability of the helical structures in proteins to respond rapidly to the stimulus of calcium, remarks: “The proteins which are in the muscle or the internal filamentous units of cells must have activity matching that of calcium ….These proteins are largely based on helices. In a general sense a helical rod is useful in that its movement economically connects activities at either end through rotational-transitional movements like that of a screw or worm gear. It is fast since helix-helix movements need not break hydrogen bonds. We see in the helix the potential for matching the dynamics of the calcium ion.” [Williams, op. cit., p. 238.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p206]

Magnesium

· Magnesium is calcium’s sister atom in the periodic table and is similar in many of its properties to calcium, but it binds to proteins less quickly and less tightly than calcium. It is certainly less fit for the role of chemical messenger than calcium, but its gender affinity for proteins is utilized by the cell in the more subtle molecular rearrangements which accompany enzymic activities. In present day life forms its involvement is vital to many crucial enzymic processes. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p207]

· George Wald, who elucidated the biochemistry of vision, raised chis question in 1959 in a Scientific American article entitled “Life and Light”: “What properties do the chlorophylls have that are so profoundly advantageous for photosynthesis as to override their disadvantageous absorption spectra.”[G. Wald (1959) “Life and Light,” Scientific American 201 (4):92-108. Seep. 97.] Chlorophyll would appear on the face of it to be less than maximally fit for its biological role; maximal fitness would appear to demand chat it absorb light in the blue-green range of the spectrum. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p207]

· There are several other metal atoms-vanadium (V), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn)which are also essential to life and where the unique property of the individual atom appears to be exploited in some vital biological process. An excellent summary of the biological role of these metals is given in Biological Chemistry of the Elements, cited earlier. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p208]

Conclusion

· The emerging picture of the role of metals in biology is increasingly one in which it appears that all the metals in each of the main subgroups of the periodic table possess unique properties that are fit for particular vital and essential biological roles. Without them life remotely as rich and complex as it exists on earth would be impossible. The transitional metals, for example, give every impression of having been tailored to form the electronic circuits of the cell and to manipulate in various ways the oxygen atom. Moreover, it increasingly appears that even individual metal atoms such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and molybdenum may be uniquely fit for some of the biological roles they serve. Iron may be uniquely tailored for the sort of reversible binding to oxygen which occurs in hemoglobin, and magnesium for the absorption of light in chlorophyll. Trying to envisage life without metals is every bit as difficult as imagining human technology without them, for, as Robert Williams concludes: “There is no biology without metals.[Williams, op. cit., p. 247.] .. metal elements in some organization are of the essence of life as much as this is true of amino acids and nucleotides.”[Williams, op. cit., p. 246.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p208]

Chapter 10: The Fitness of the Cell

· In which it is argued that the cell is uniquely and ideally fit to fonction as the basic unit of carbon-based life. Cells are capable of carrying out any instruction, adopting any shape, creating the vast diversity of multicellular organisms and ultimately the whole world of life. Evidence is examined which suggests that the cell membrane is uniquely and ideally fit for its role of bounding the cell’s contents and conferring on the cells of higher organisms the ability to move and adhere selectively to one another. These critical properties are also dependent on the size of the average cell being approximately what it is and on the viscosity of cytoplasm being close to what it is. The membrane is also fit, in that its selective impermeability to charged particles confers additional electrical properties, which form the basis of nerve conduction. A variety of coincidences underlying the ability of cells to selectively adhere and move are discussed. The known properties of cells are remarkable enough, but there is still much to learn. The possibility that cells may possess powerful computing abilities and may even be able to behave intelligently is considered. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p209]

· It is cells that assemble the human brain, putting down a million connections a minute for nine months during gestation. It is cells that build blue whales, butterflies, birds, and grass. It is cells that built the dinosaurs and all past life on earth. Through the activities of some of the simplest of their kind, over the past 4 billion years they gradually terraformed the earth, generating oxygen via photosynthesis and thereby releasing its energizing powers for all the higher life forms. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p212]

· Cells can survive desiccation for hundreds of years, and so on and on. In short, they can do anything, adopt almost any shape, obey any order, and seem in every sense perfectly adapted to their assigned task of creating a biosphere replete with multicellular organisms like ourselves. The astounding nature of the Nano technological miracle the cell represents is self-evident. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p212]

· The fitness of the cell for its biological role in the assembly and functioning of multicellular life gives every indication, as with so many of life’s constituents, of being unique. In the case of many of their key properties and abilities, it is very difficult to imagine how these properties and abilities could be actualized except in a material form with the precise characteristics of the living cell. In other words, if we were to design from first principles a tiny nanoerector about 30 microns in diameter with the capabilities of the cell-with the ability to measure the chemical concentration of substances in its surrounding medium; with the ability to measure time, to move, to feel its way around in a complex molecular environment, to change its form; with the ability to communicate with fellow nanoerectors using electrical and chemical messages and to act together in vast companies to create macroscopic structures-we would end up redesigning the cell. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p213]

Lipids

· All types of lipids contain long hydrophobic chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms which are insoluble or only sparingly soluble in water. The structure of the fatty acid stearic acid is shown below. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p213]

· The fact that many types of lipids are insoluble in water is of great biological significance. Without insoluble components, the compartmentalization of the cell and the persistence of cellular structures would not be possible. Lipids are also the major component of the bounding bilayer membrane which surrounds every living cell. (See page 216.) If there were no carbon compounds insoluble in water, such as the lipids, organic chemistry would not be fit for life. Correspondingly, if water was truly a universal solvent, the alkahest of the alchemists, it would not be a fit medium for life because no compartments or stable structures would be possible and all the cells constituents would merely dissolve away. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p214]

· In addition to providing the cell with stable structures, boundaries, and companmencs, the nonpolar hydrophobic nature of lipids is also of great utility because lipid aggregates provide the cell with tiny nonaqueous microenvironments. Such hydrophobic microenvironments are vital to the life of the cell, because many of the synthetic and enzymic processes upon which the life of the cell depends can only occur in a microenvironment where water has been excluded. So their insolubility plays two roles in the cell, creating the stable insoluble boundaries between compartments and the vital hydrophobic microenvironments in which so much of the cell’s synthetic chemistry takes place. Without the hydrophobic properties of the lipids, carbon-based life would not be possible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p214]

The Cell Membrane

· One of the most important structures in the cell, which is largely composed of lipids, is the cell membrane. It is difficult to see how a cell could survive without some sort of bounding membrane which was relatively impermeable to the cell’s constituents, especially to small metabolites such as sugars and amino acids, to prevent its contents from diffusing away into the surrounding fluid. Such a membrane would also have to be relatively plastic and able to maintain a continuous barrier between the cell and its environment in the face of the ever-changing shape of the cell. As one leading biologist points out, it is essential that the cell membrane should behave like a “two-dimensional liquid” and be able to flow in all directions over the surface of the cytoplasm to maintain a continuous barrier between the cell and its surroundings in the face of “of the ever changing protrusive activities of the cell surface. “[J.P. Trinkaus (1984) Cells into Organs (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall), p. 53.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p215]

· As cell biologist John Trinkaus comments: Because water is itself a strongly polar molecule, the polar phosphate of the membrane lipids will inevitably be attracted to the surfaces of the membrane, both external and cytoplasmic. And just as inevitably their nonpolar fatty acid pans will tend to be squeezed into a nonpolar phase in the interior of the membrane …. The beauty of it is that everything arranges itself. … Simply because of their intrinsic chemical nature phospholipids naturally and spontaneously self-assemble to form a bilayer in a watery solution …. It is, as it were, “the nature of the beast” for them to do so.[J.P. Trinkaus (1984) Cells into Organs (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall), pp. 51-52]   [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p216]

· The electrical properties of cells depend on many other factors in addition to the insulating properties of lipid membranes. The propagation, for example, of the nervous impulse depends on the rapid transmission of a wave of depolarization along the nerve fiber. The speed of depolarization is itself due to the speed of diffusion of sodium and potassium cations through special gates in the membrane of the nerve cell. This process is again greatly enhanced by the low viscosity of water and by the unique properties of the actions themselves. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p217]

Cell Adhesion

· The ability of cells to selectively adhere to one another is one of their most important characteristics. According to one authority, “the adhesions that cells make with one another lie at the very basis of multicellularity. The form and functioning of all creatures that consist of more than one cell depend on their cells adhering firmly to one another and to the extracellular materials that intervene.”[Trinkaus, op. cit., p. 69.] . [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p218]

Crawling

· Yet another vital characteristic of cells is their ability to crawl, which is no less important and critical than their adhesive properties. Selective adhesion would be of little utility if cells could not move toward particular targets. Indeed, higher forms of life would not exist if cells could not crawl, and we would certainly not be here to ponder the phenomenon. [T. P. Stossel (1993) “On the Crawling of Animal Cells,” Science 260:1086-1094.] In crawling, a cell puts out fan-shaped extensions called lamellae, the leading edge of which make transient attachments with the underlying surface, and as they glide forward, they pull along the cell body passively behind them. The process is somewhat similar to the crawling of a snail, in which the snail’s foot is analogous to the lamellae and the shell analogous to the cell body. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, pp.220-221]

· Such tiny cells would hardly be able to put out complex arrays of protrusions to feel their way through a developing embryo. Indeed, the surface of such tiny cells might have to be entirely devoted to devices involved in transporting materials across the bounding cell membrane and leave little room for adhesion molecules. Lacking the ability of selective cell adhesion, even if such small cells could crawl, it is doubtful if this ability could be utilized to generate the complex patterns of cell movement and association which underlies much of the morphogenesis of higher organisms. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p.222]

· It is hard to escape the conclusion that the ability of cells to selectively adhere and to crawl, twin abilities upon which the assembly of multicellular organisms during development is critically dependent, could only find instantiation in an entity of the size and with the global biophysical and biochemical properties of the average animal cell. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p.223]

Osmosis

· Another physical phenomenon which has a critical bearing on the design of the cell, and particularly on the design of the cell membrane and hence the ability of cells to crawl and adhere, is the phenomenon of osmosis and its consequence, osmotic pressure. Osmosis is an inevitable consequence of the process of diffusion. It occurs wherever two solutions, one dilute and one concentrated, are separated by a membrane that is permeable to water but not to the solutes. In such a situation water moves from the dilute to the concentrated solution-in other words, the solution containing the most dissolved particles. The influx of water can only be prevented by applying hydrostatic pressure to the concentrated solution. This reverses the influx and forces the water back across the semipermeable membrane into the dilute solution. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p.223]

· If osmotic forces had been, say, ten times greater, the minor but relatively sudden dilution of the body fluids which occurs on drinking water might create osmotic imbalances of catastrophic consequence. Only if the cell walls of animal cells were far more rigid (like plant cells) would they have been capable of existence in a world where the pressures generated by osmosis had been ten times greater. But then the cell membrane would not possess those many critical characteristics upon which the world-building abilities of cells depend. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p.225]

Energy Balance

· Cells require energy not only to defend themselves against osmotic pressures by continuously pumping ions out across the cell membrane. They are also faced with the uphill task of continuously replacing all their molecular constituents, and this also requires energy. The half-life of many proteins in the cell varies from a few minutes to several days. Even those proteins which have relatively long half-lives, such as the hemoglobins, the proteins forming the contractile apparatus in the muscles and collagen, the major component of tendons, all turn over eventually and have to be replaced. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p225]

· In an adult human about 15 percent of the energy expended is devoted to protein synthesis alone. 2° Clearly, if the stability of proteins in the face of oxidative and other types of chemical degradation was even slightly less, then the energy burden imposed on cells would be insurmountable and the cell system would not be possible in any recognizable form. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p226]

· In short, there is much that remains to be discovered. Cells may possess many additional abilities, vastly more complex and sophisticated than any we know of at present. But as it is, from the scientific knowledge we have already acquired, there is no doubt the cell represents an exceptional and unique material form. And one which, as in so many other instances, seems ideally and uniquely fit for its biological role in creating the world of multicellular life. Is it conceivable that there could exist some other tiny material form which could compact, into so small a volume, so many extraordinary abilities as a living cell? [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p230]

Conclusion

· We would find an ideal source of energy in the radiant light of main sequence stars, and ideal habitats for our carbon-based life on the trillions of earthlike rocky planets which abound throughout the cosmos. At every step in the game we would find the same ready-made solution for each particular biological end we sought. And this would be repeated in case after case, leading down through a long, seemingly endless chain of coincidences from the carbon atom to the cell and eventually to a world of life very similar to that which exists on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p231]

· In short, the cell system as revealed by molecular biology has turned out to be a unique and peerless whole in which every component is uniquely fashioned by the laws of nature for its designated role, a three-dimensional jigsaw in which all the pieces fit together as perfectly and harmoniously as the cogs in a watch. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p231]

· A final and very remarkable aspect of the fitness of the constituents of life is that most of the key organic building blocks-sugars, amino acids, nucleotides, etc.-can be manufactured in a relatively small number of chemical steps from a small number of readily available simple molecules. It is a remarkable fact that the great majority of the atoms used in their synthesis are derived from only three very simple molecules that are available freely and in great abundance on the surface of the earth: water, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. Not only are the key components of life wonderfully fit for their biological roles, they are all only a very small chemical distance away from such universally available starting materials. Indeed, there are not many steps from hydrogen itself-the starting point of atom creation in the stars-to the ingredients of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p232]

· In the current molecular biological picture of life, we have found a “watch” more complicated and more harmonious than any conceived by William Paley, exhibiting in its design precisely what Richard Bentley was looking for, a “usefalness conspicuous not in one or a few only, but in a long train and series of things.” (My emphasis.) [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p.233]

Chapter 11: Homo Sapiens Fire Maker

· Of all the many varied life forms on earth, only our own species, Homo sapiens, is capable of any genuine understanding of the world. By any standards our success in comprehending and manipulating nature has been astounding. In the space of only four centuries since the scientific revolution, we have measured the diameter of galaxies, we have probed into the heart of the atom, we have peered back to the very beginning of time, and in the past few decades we have even contemplated traveling to the stars. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p238.]

· From the evidence presented in the previous chapters, such a phantasm of alien beings-designed along entirely different principles and instantiated in an exotic chemistry-looks increasingly implausible. For as we have seen, it would appear that there are few if any alternative ways of putting together the atoms of the world into a complex self-replicating system as sophisticated as the living cell. If we start from the carbon atom, our route is highly constrained. Having chosen carbon, we must next choose water, then proteins, DNA, oxygen, and so on until we arrive eventually at the design of the living cell as manifest in all living things on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p238.]

· Six adaptations have been widely cited as being crucial to the unique success of our species: (1) high intelligence, (2) linguistic communication, (3) highly developed visual ability, (4) possession of a superb manipulative tool-the hand, (5) our upright stance, and (6) our being a highly social species. In addition to these six adaptations, our technological success has depended on a crucial ability-the ability to handle and control fire, which led in turn to the development of metallurgy and ultimately, through the use of metals, to scientific and technological knowledge. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p238, 239.]

· As far as our cognitive capacities are concerned, it is true that other species-dolphins, parrots, seals, and apes-possess intelligence, but none, as far as we can tell, comes close to the intelligence of man. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p239.]

· Whatever it is about the architecture of the human brain that confers such a high level of intelligence, and whatever evolutionary processes led to such a prodigious development, as far as life on earth is concerned, our intelligence far surpasses that of any other known form of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p239.]

Language

· Language is another unique distinguishing characteristic of man. No other species possesses a communication system remotely as competent for the transmission of new information or abstract concepts as human language.1 [G. G. Simpson (1967) The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven: Yale University Press), p. 288.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p239.]

· Human speech depends not only on our special cognitive abilities but also on our possessing the appropriate organs to generate complex sound patterns. In fact, modern man’s speech-producing apparatus is quite different from the comparable systems ofliving nonhuman primates. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p239, 240.]

· Nonhuman primates have supralaryngeal vocal tracts in which the larynx exits directly into the oral cavity. In the adult human the larynx exits directly into the pharynx. This confers on man the capacity to generate a far richer phonetic repertoire than that available to a chimpanzee.2 [P. Lieberman (1975) “On the Evolution of Language: A Unifed View in Primate Functional Morphology and Evolution, ed. R. Tuttle (The Hague: Mouton Publishers), pp. 501-540; see pp. 504-510.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p240.]

· A chimp with a human brain could formulate sophisticated thoughts but would lack the ability to communicate verbally as efficiently as a human.3 [P. Lieberman (1975) “On the Evolution of Language: A Unifed View in Primate Functional Morphology and Evolution, ed. R. Tuttle (The Hague: Mouton Publishers), pp. 508, 536.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p240.]

Vision

· Aristotle, in this famous section from the beginning of his Metaphysics, acknowledges the importance of vision to our ability to comprehend the world: All men by reason desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in the senses … and above all in the sense of sight …. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings many differences to light.4 [Aristotle, Metaphysics l.l,980a21-7.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p240.]

The Hand

· In addition to our brain, our linguistic ability, and our highly developed visual ability, we possess another wonderful adaptation, the ideal manipulative tool-the human hand. No other animal possesses an organ so superbly adapted for intelligent exploration and manipulation of its physical surroundings and environment. Only the great apes, our cousins, come close. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p241.]

· Even a chimp with the intelligence of a human would have considerable difficulty carrying out many of the manipulative tasks that we take for granted, like peeling an apple, tying a knot, or using a typewriter. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p241.]

· One of the earliest and still one of the most fascinating discussions of the adaptive marvel that is the human hand was given by the first-century physician Galen: “To man the only animal that partakes in the Divine intelligence, the Creator has given in lieu of every other natural weapon or organ of defence, that instrument the hand: applicable to every art and occasion.”7 And he continues: “Let us then scrutinise this member of our body; and enquire not simply whether it be in itself useful for all the purposes oflife, and adapted to an animal endowed with the highest intelligence; but whether its entire structure be not such, that it could not be improved by any conceivable alteration.”8 The adaptive perfection of the hand was a popular topic among nineteenth-century natural theologians. [7. J. Kidd (1952) The Bridgewater Treatise on the Physical Condition of Man, 6th ed. (London: Bohn); see chap. 3 on the hand, p. 26.] [8. Ibid., pp. 29-31.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p241.]

· In the context of explaining man’s biological preeminence on earth, the crucial question is not whether the human hand represents the absolute pinnacle of manipulative capability, but whether any other species possesses an organ approaching its capabilities. The answer simply must be that no other species possesses a manipulative organ remotely approaching the universal utility of the human hand. Even in the field of robotics, nothing has been built which even remotely equals the all-around manipulative capacity of the hand. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p241.]

Fire and the Dimensions of the Human Body

· Our ability to handle fire is no trivial ability because it was only through the use of fire that technological advance was possible. Through fire came metallurgy and metal tools and eventually chemical knowledge. Because metals are the only natural conductors of electricity, the discovery of electromagnetism and electricity, even the development of computers, are all in the last analysis the result of our ancient conquest of fire. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p242.]

Fire and the Size of the Earth

· There are some intriguing coincidences related to our biological design and our ability to utilize fire. A carbon-based organism of our size and design possessing an upright bipedal posture is only feasible on a planet of approximately the size and mass of the earth. It is the size of the earth (or more specifically, its total mass) which determines the strength of its gravitational field. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p244.]

· If the earth had only twice the diameter, its gravitational field would be eight times stronger and a large upright bipedal creature like ourselves would not be feasible. In a very important sense, then, the earth’s size is fit for the design of a bipedal animal of the dimensions of a man and therefore fit for our ability to handle fire. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p244.]

Muscles and Movement

·      The manipulation of fire necessitates movement. In the case of a large organism the size of a human, chis in turn necessitates special structures muscles capable of exerting mechanical forces. Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p245.]

The Speed of Nerve Conduction

· Muscles, no matter how powerful, would be of little biological value unless their movements could be carefully controlled. In the human body the control of muscular movement is carried out by the nervous system. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p249.]

Alternative to Homo Sapiens

· In a thoughtful analysis of man’s evolutionary history and the acquisition of our unique biological adaptations, Sir Julian Huxley concluded: Writers have indulged their speculative fancy by imagining other organisms endowed with speech and conceptual thought-talking rats, rational ants, philosophic dogs and the like. But closer analysis shows that these fantasies are impossible. A brain capable of conceptual thought could only have been developed in a human body.21 [Huxley, op. cit., p. 8.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p255.]

· Moreover, as Huxley points out, the evolutionary generation of Homo sapiens has come about via a unique path: The essential character of man is . . . conceptual thought. And conceptual thought could only have arisen in a multicellular animal, an animal with bilateral symmetry, head and blood system, a vertebrate against a mollusc or an arthropod, a land vertebrate among vertebrates, a mammal among land vertebrates. Finally it could have arisen only in a mammalian line which was gregarious, which produced one young at birth instead of several, and which had recently become terrestrial after a long period of arboreal life. There is only one group of animals which fulfils these conditions-a terrestrial offshoot of the higher Primates. Thus not merely has conceptual thought been evolved only in man: it could not have been evolved except in man. There is only one path of unlimited progress through the evolutionary maze. The course of human evolution is as unique as its result. It is unique not in the trivial sense of being a different course from that of any other organism, but in the profounder sense of being the only path that could have achieved the essential characters of man. Conceptual thought on this planet is inevitably associated with a particular type of Primate body and Primate brain.22 [Huxley, op. cit., pp. 15-16.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p255.]

The Human Brain

· If the anthropocentric thesis is correct, then the human brain should be the most powerful possible thinking machine-biological or artificial-that can be built out of the atoms of our world. It should be peerless. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p256.]

· However, brain size alone seems to bear little direct relationship to intelligence. In man, for example, there is no obvious correlation between brain size and intellectual ability. 26 And although the brain of a dolphin may be larger than that of man or any other primate species, its neurons are far simpler and the cortical layer in the dolphin is also only about half the thickness than it is in man. 27 (Moreover, the overall design of the cetacean brain appears to have retained many primitive features.) [26. W. E. Le Gros Clark (1969) The Antecttknts of Man, 3rd ed. (Chicago: Quadrangle Books). p. 260.] [27. C. Wills (1993) The Runaway Brain (New York: HarperCollins); sec p. 7.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p256.]

· If intelligence is related to the total number of nerve cells, the total number of connections between them as well as the density of the connections, then as a recent New Scientist article puts it, “on this basis the human brain is the most complex in the animal kingdom.” Moreover, as the article continues, “no radical improvement in synaptic density may be possible because of the need to maintain the fine balance between the size and number of neurons and the blood vessels which nourish them. To produce a significant rise in processing power, the axons would have to be wider than they are now to speed up the rate at which they pass signals. This in turn would demand equivalent increases in the amount of insulation along the axons and a better blood supply, which would take up extra space in the brain cavity, leaving less room for axons.” As the article puts it, “Humans are about as smart as they are going to get.”32 [M. Ward (1997) “End of the Road for Brain Evolution,” New Scientist 153, no. 2066:14.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p]

Artificial Intelligence

· In the words of a recent Nature reviewer, “The latest work on information processing and storage at the single-cell level reveals previously unimagined complexity and dynamism.” We are left with “a feeling of awe for the amazing complexity found in nature. Loops within loops across many temporal and spatial scales.”33 [Nature, op. cit., p. 210.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p258.]

· Although the mechanistic faith in the possibility of AI still runs strong among many researchers in the field, there are also many detractors, including John Searle34 and Roger Penrose. 35 And there is no doubt that to date, as Penrose argues, no one has manufactured anything which exhibits intelligence remotely resembling that of man. [34. J. Searle (1987) “Minds and Brains Without Programs,” in Mindwavts: Thoughts on lntelligmce, Identity and Conciousness, ed. C. Blakemore and S. Greenfield (Oxford: Basil Blackwell). pp. 209-233.] [35. R. Penrose (1990) The Emperor’s New Mind (London: Vintage).] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p258.]

Homo Mathematicus

· However, there is another intriguing aspect to our success-the mutual fitness of the human mind and particularly its propensity for and love of mathematics and abstract thought and the deep structure of reality, which can be so beautifully represented in mathematical forms. In other words, the logic of our mind and the logic of the cosmos would appear to correspond in a profound way. And it is only because of this unique correspondence that it is possible for us to comprehend the world. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p259.]

· The physicist Eugene Wigner, who was much struck by the correspondence between mathematics and the physical world, spoke for many mathematicians and scientists when he remarked: It is hard to avoid the impression that a miracle is at work here …. The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.36 [E. P. Wigner (1960) “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics 13: 1-14.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p259.]

· And there are other aspects of the structure of reality which give the impression of having been tailored to facilitate our understanding of nature and ultimately the scientific enterprise itself. On this point Paul Davies comments: It is easy to imagine a world in which phenomena occurring at one location in the universe or on one scale of size or energy, were intimately entangled with all the rest in a way that would forbid resolution into simple sets oflaws. Or, to use the crossword analogy, instead of dealing with a connected mesh of separately identifiable words; we would have a single extremely complicated word answer. Our knowledge of the universe would then be an “all or nothing” affair.37 [P. C. W. Davies (1992) Tht Mina of God (London: Penguin); see p. 157.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p259, 260.]

· That the structure of the world appears to be curiously fit for human comprehension also struck Aristotle. Jonathan Lear comments that for Aristotle “the inquiry into nature revealed the world as meant to be known; the inquiry into man’s soul revealed him as a being who is meant to be a knower. Man and the world are, as it were, made for each other.38 The stupendous success of science since 1600 is testimony enough to the remarkable fitness of our mind to comprehend the world. [J. Lear (1988) Aristotle: Tht Desire to Understand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 230.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p260.]

Part 2: Evolution

Chapter 12: The Tree of Life

The Vestiges and Directed Evolution

· An interesting early attempt to provide a comprehensive account of the evolution of life as a process directed by natural law was presented by Robert Chambers in his famous 14-stiges of the Natural History of Creation, published in 1840 and one of the best-selling books of its day. Chambers proposed that the whole pattern of evolution had been written into the cosmic script from the beginning and that all the laws of nature had been specially arranged or programmed at the original creation to generate the tree of life. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p269.]

· Moreover, Chambers’s aim to account for evolution by natural law and his view of the tree oflife as a natural form correspond closely to the view being presented here. Reviewing critically the creationist position which was the orthodox view in the early nineteenth century, he comments: In what way was the creation of animated beings effected? The.ordinary notion may, I chink, be not unjustly described as chis-chat the Almighty author produced the progenitors of all existing species by some sort of personal or immediate exertion …. How can we suppose an immediate exenion of chis creative power at one time to produce zoophytes, another to add a few marine molluscs, another to bring in one or two conchifers again to produce cruscaceous fishes …. This would surely be to take a very mean view of the creative power-to, in shore, anchropomorphise it, or reduce it to some such character as chat borne by the ordinary proceedings of mankind …. Some ocher idea must then be come to with regard to the mode in which the Divine Author proceeded in the organic creation …. We have seen powerful evidence, chat the construction of chis globe and its associates, and inferentially of all the ocher globes of space, was the result not of any immediate or personal exertion on the part of the Deity, but of natural laws which are expressions of his will …. More than chis, the fact of the cosmical arrangements being an effect of natural law, is a powerful argument for the organic arrangements being so likewise, for how can we suppose chat the august Being who brought all these countless worlds into form by the simple establishment of a natural principle flowing from his mind, was to interfere personally and specially on every occasion when a new shell-fish or reptile was to be ushered into existence on one of these worlds? Surely the idea is too ridiculous to be for a moment entertained.2 [R. Chambers ( 1969) Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (New York: Leicester University Press), pp. 152-154.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p269, 270.]

· In Chambers’s view the “Divine attributes must appear not diminished or reduced in any way by supposing a creation by law, but infinitely exalted.” Chambers continues: If the properties adopted by the elements at the moment of their creation adapted themselves beforehand to the infinity of complicated useful purposes which they have already answered, and may still further to answer, under many such dispensations of the material world, such an aboriginal constitution, so far from superseding an intelligent agent, would only exalt our conceptions of the consummate skill and power that could comprehend such an infinity of future systems, in the original groundwork of his creation.3 [R. Chambers ( 1969) Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (New York: Leicester University Press), p. 158.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p270.]

· Chambers saw the origin of life as being analogous to crystallization: Crystallisation is confessedly a phenomenon of inorganic matter; yet the simplest rustic observer is struck by the resemblance which the examples of it left upon a window by the frost bear to vegetable forms. In some crystallisations the mimicry is beautiful and complete; for example, in the well known one called the Arbor Dianae. An amalgam of four parts of silver and two of mercury being dissolved in nitric acid, and water equal to thirty weights of the metals being added, a small piece of soft amalgam of silver suspended in the solution quickly gathers to itself the particles of the silver of the amalgam which form upon it a crystallisation precisely resembling a shrub …. Vegetable figures are also presented in some of the most ordinary appearances of the electric fluid …. The correspondence here is curious. A plant thus appears as a thing formed on the basis of a natural electrical operation-the bush realized.4 [R. Chambers (1969) Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (New York: Leicester University Press), pp. 165-167.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p270.]

· Chambers was led from his deterministic evolutionary model of the universe to the view that all reality, biological and physical, was in the end one immense interconnected Divine artifact.5 [R. Chambers (1969) Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (New York: Leicester University Press), pp. 25~251.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p270.]

· The idea that behind the apparently random ramifications of the evolutionary tree there is direction imposed by the order of nature has been reiterated over and over again since 1844. One of the most recent examples is in Arthur Koestler’s Ghost in the Machine: Several eminent biologists have in recent years toyed with the idea, but without spelling out its profound implications. Thus von Bertalanffy wrote: ‘While fully appreciating modern selection theory we nevertheless arrive at an essentially different view of evolution. It appears to be not a series of accidents, the course of which is determined only by the change of environments during earth history and the resulting struggle for existence, which leads to selection within a chaotic material of mutations … but is governed by definite laws, and we believe that the discovery of these laws constitutes one of the most important tasks of the future.’ Waddington and Hardy have both re-discovered Goethe’s notion of archetypical forms; Helen Spurway concluded from the evidence of homology that the organism has only ‘a restricted mutational spectrum’ which ‘determines its possibilities of evolution.’ …10 [Such restrictions may mean chat] given the conditions on our particular planet, the chemistry and temperature of its atmosphere, and the available energies and building materials, life from its inception in the first blob of living slime could only progress in a limited number of ways …. If this conclusion is correct, it sheds some additional light on man’s status in chis universe. It puts an end to the fantasies of science fiction regarding future forms oflife on earth. . . . [It means ] … that the evolution of life is a game played according to fixed rules which limit its possibilities but leave sufficient scope for limitless variations. The rules are inherent in the structure of living matter.11 [10. A Koestler (1970) The Ghost in the Machine (London: Pan Books), p. 174.] [11. Ibid., pp. 174-175.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p272.]

The Problem of Direction

· The prevailing view of the cosmos as fundamentally nonbiocentric, governed by lifeless mechanical laws, is strikingly conveyed in this section from Hugh Miller’s Footprints of the Creator published in 1849: Nature lay dead in a waste theatre of rock, vapour, and sea, in which the insensate laws, chemical, mechanical, and electric, carried on their blind, unintelligent processes: the creative fiat went forth; and, amid waters that straightaway teemed with life in its lower forms, vegetable and animal, the dynasty of the fish was introduced.18 [H. Miller (1869) Footsteps oftht Crrator. I Ith ed. (Edinburgh: Nimmo), pp. 293–294.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p273, 274.]

· Like Roger Cotes in his introduction to Newton’s Principia, they were again affirming a faith for which neither nature nor science provided any justification. Their belief in directed evolution was, as Neal Gillespie points out in his Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, in effect an article of “faith held despite what nature indicated.”19 Even St. George Mivart, one of the most ferocious critics of Darwinism, conceded in his Genesis of Species (1871) “that one could not find in nature such evidence of design that no man could sanely deny.”20 [19. N. C. Gillespie (1979) Charls Darwin and tht Problem of Creation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), p. 85.] [20. Ibid., p. 104.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p274.]

The Fitness of DNA for Directed Evolution

· This unidirectional flow of information from DNA to organism is clearly “fit” for directed evolution. In a world where the central dogma did not hold, where the genetic system was designed on different principles, where, for example, organisms had the ability to intelligently manipulate their DNA sequences at will, or where environmental factors could direct changes in DNA sequences, where information flowed from organism to DNA, it is very difficult to imagine how a long-term evolutionary program based on a programmed succession of changes in the DNA could have been feasible. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p276.]

· The Closeness of All Life in DNA Sequence Space One of the most surprising discoveries which has arisen from DNA sequencing has been the remarkable finding that the genomes of all organisms are clustered very close together in a tiny region of DNA sequence space forming a tree of related sequences that can all be interconvened via a series of tiny incremental natural steps. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p276, 277.]

· Organisms which seem very different at a morphological level can be very close together at the DNA level. One of the most dramatic cases of this is that of the cichlid fish species in Africa’s Lake Victoria. As Jared Diamond points out in The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: Cichlids are popular aquarium species, of which about two hundred are confined to that one lake, where they evolved from a single ancestor within the last 200,000 years. Those two hundred species differ among themselves in their food habits as much as do tigers and cows. Some graze on algae, others catch ocher fish, and still others variously crush snails, feed on plankton, catch insects, nibble the scales off other fish, or specialise in grabbing fish embryos from brooding mother fish. Yet all those Lake Victoria cichlids differ from each other on the average by about 0.4% of their DNA studied.24 [J. Diamond (1992) The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee (London: Vintage); see p. 23.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p277.]

· In fact, the differences between the DNA of man and chimp can be accounted for by simple well-known mutational processes which are occurring all the time in nature at present. In the case of primate DNA, for example, all the sequences in the hemoglobin gene cluster in man, chimp, gorilla, gibbon, etc., can be interconverted via single base change steps to form a perfect evolutionary tree relating the higher primates together in a system that looks as natural as could be imagined. There is not the slightest indication of any discontinuity. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p277.]

· As Simon Conway Morris comments, “The story emerging from molecular biology is that what may look very different in anatomical terms can be founded on a basically identical genetic architecture.”25 In the case of organs as dissimilar as the heart in insects and vertebrates, for example, their development may involve common pathways.26 In short, evolution is far easier to conceive of in DNA sequence space than in morphological or phenotypic space. By analogy, it is far simpler to move from mountain to mountain on a two-dimensional map than it is to move from mountain to mountain in actual three-dimensional space. [25. S. Conway Morris (1995) “Book Reviews,” Nature 376:736.] [26. R. P. Harvey (1996) “NK-2 Homeobox Genes and Hean Development,” Deve/.opmmtal BiobJgy 178:203–216.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p278.]

· From the DNA perspective the whole evolutionary tree of life is in essence nothing more or less than a vast set of closely related DNA sequences clustered close together in the immensity of DNA sequence space, where each individual sequence is capable of specifying a viable life form, and where all sequences are interrelated and ultimately derivable via a series of steps from an original primeval sequence, which was the genome of the first life form on earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p278.]

Escape from Selective Surveillance

· Overall, the new DNA sequence space is fit for directed evolution in a number of ways: (1) because of the closeness of all life forms at the DNA level and because all known sequences can be interconverted in small natural steps via well-known mutational processes, (2) because information flows only from the genotype to the phenotype, and (3) because functional DNA sequences can be derived via functionless intermediates, a new phenotype or organ system can be generated by saltation. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p279.]

Directed Mutation and Development

· These rearrangements are strictly programmed and occur at precisely predetermined times in the development of the organism. There is no compelling reason why similar types of changes could not have been genetically programmed to occur during the far longer time course of evolution. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p280.]

Constraints in Sequence Space

· Given the fundamental nature of organisms, and given a specially prearranged DNA sequence space, the evolutionary process of tracing out the tree of life becomes a perfectly natural phenomenon; the inevitable unfolding of a preordained pattern, written into the laws of nature from the beginning. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p282.]

The Question of the Spontaneity of Mutation

· One of the major obstacles within the biological community in the way of any widespread acceptance of the idea of directed mutation is the very deeply held belief in the so-called spontaneity of mutation.41 According to the authorities Dobzhansky, Ayala, Stebbins, and Valentine, writing in a standard text on evolution, “Mutations are accidental, undirected, random or chance events in still another sense very important for evolution; namely chat they are unorientated with respect to adaptation.”42 [41. Dawkins, op. cit., p. 313. J. Monod (1972) Chanct and Nectssity (London: Collins), p. 114. E. Mayr (1976) Evolution and the Divmity of Life (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), p. 32.] [42. T. Dobzhansky et al. (1977) Evolution (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman), p. 65.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p285.]

· What is very remarkable about chis whole issue is chat, as is typical of any “unquestioned article of faith,” evidence for the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation is hardly ever presented. Its truth is nearly always assumed. In nearly all the texts on genetics and evolution published over the past four decades, whenever the author attempts co justify the doctrine of the spontaneity of mutation, he refers back to a series of crucial experiments carried out in the lace forties and early fifties on the bacterium E. coli chat were associated with the names of Salvador Luria, Max Delbruck, and Joshua Lederberg.43 [T. Dobzhansky et al. (1977) Evolution (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman), p. 65.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p285.]

· But the fact that some mutations in bacteria are spontaneous does not necessarily mean that all mutations in all organisms throughout the entire course of 4 billion years of evolution have all been entirely spontaneous. This very point was made by Max Delbruck himself, who carried out with Salvador Luria some of the crucial experiments proving the spontaneity of mutation. As he conceded at a Cold Spring Harbor Symposium over forty years ago, “One should keep in mind the possible occurrence of specifically adaptive mutations.”44 [M. Delbruck (1947) Cold Spring Harbor Symposium on Quantitative Biology 11:154.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p286.]

· Recently, John Cairns, a leading microbiologist in the United States, commented in Nature on the subject of the spontaneity of mutation: “It seems to be a doctrine that has never been put to the test.”45 [J. Cairns, J. Overbaugh, and S. Miller (1988) “The Origin of Mutants,” Nature 335:142-145; seep. 145.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p286.]

The Origin of Life

· At the heart of the problem lay a seeming paradox-proteins can do many things, but they cannot perform the function of storing and transmitting information for their own construction. On the other hand, DNA can store information, but cannot manufacture anything nor duplicate itself. So DNA needs proteins and proteins need DNA. A seemingly unbreakable cycle-the ultimate chickenand- egg problem. As Monod put it in Chance and Necessity: The modern cell’s translating machinery consists of at least fifty macromolecular components which are themselves coded in the DNA: the code cannot be transUtted except by the products of trans/,ation. It is the modern expression of omne vivum ex ova. When and how did this circle become closed? It is exceedingly difficult to imagine.51 [Monod, op. cit., p. 135.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p293.]

· And Crick comments about the problem in Life Itself An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to be satisfied to get it going.52 [F. Crick ( 1981) Life Itself (New York: Simon & Schuster), p. 88.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p293.]

· The scenario looks promising, although other studies have revealed serious drawbacks:56 “Tests of the RNA-world hypothesis have shown that RNA is difficult to synthesize in the conditions that probably prevailed when life originated and that the molecule cannot easily generate copies of itself.”57 [J. Horgan (1993) “In the Beginning,” Scientific American 264 (2):101-109; seep. 101.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p294.]

· The fact that life emerged on the early earth as soon as conditions could support it points to the notion that life’s origin was a natural and highly probable event which was inevitable given certain critical conditions. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p295.]

· From a teleological perspective the origin oflife must be viewed as something quite inevitable and built into the laws of nature from the beginning, just as were the properties of water and the mutual fitness of DNA and protein and all the other coincidences in the physical and chemical properties oflife’s constituents. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p296.]

· Stephen Jay Gould, in a recent article entitled “War of the World Views” in the journal Natural History, 65 proposes “that the simplest kind of cellular life arises as a predictable result of organic chemistry and the physics of self-organizing systems but that no predictable directions exist for life’s later development.”66 [65. S. J. Gould (1996) “War of the World Views,” Natural History 105:22-33.] [66. Ibid., p. 30.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p296.]

Conclusion

· This raises the very natural but heretical idea, which has been explored in this chapter, that if the cosmos is fit for the being of higher life forms, then surely it is not inconceivable that an evolutionary mechanism for their actualization could also have been written into the order of things and that perhaps the entire process of biological evolution, from the origin of life to the emergence of man, was somehow directed from the beginning. I believe that our current knowledge of molecular genetics sanctions such possibilities. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p298.]

Chapter 13: The Principle of Plenitude

· Before the rise of Darwinism it was widely believed that all possible living forms had actually been realized in nature. It was argued that an omnipotent Creator who had fashioned all the laws of nature to the end of life and man would surely have so organized these laws to make manifest in material form all possible biological types. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p302.]

Chapter 15: The Eye of the Lobster

· Among the most persistent challenges to the Darwinian model of evolution are those many types of complex and unusual adaptations whose evolution is very difficult to account for in terms of a gradual accumulation of successively advantageous changes. The literature of biology is full of examples. The challenge arises because evolution by natural selection can only occur via functional intermediates. Consequently, to get from A to Z by natural selection each step on the path-A to B, B to C, etc.-must be advantageous, and this imposes very stringent constraints on permissible evolutionary paths. Darwin himself spent two chapters of the Origin attempting to explain how the origin and evolution of what he called “organs of extreme perfection” may be plausibly accounted for by a gradual accumulation of minor undirected changes. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p354.]

The Eye of the Lobster

· One of the most striking features of the lobster eye which is immediately obvious even on superficial inspection is that the facets of the eye are perfect squares (see page 352). It is very unusual to meet with perfectly square structures in biology. As one astronomer commented in Science: “The lobster is the most unrectangular animal I’ve ever seen. But under the microscope a lobster’s eye looks like perfect graph paper.”1 [J. R. P. Angel (1979) “Lobster Eyes as X-ray Telescopes,” AJtrophysical Journal 233:364-373. See also B. K. Hartline (1980) “Lobster-Eye X-ray Telescope Envisioned,” Science 207:47.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p]

· This unique optical system is found in only one group of crustaceans, the so-called long-bodied decapods, which include the shrimps, the prawns, and lobsters. The great majority of crustaceans, and indeed of all invertebrates, have refracting eyes which are based on a completely different design. In these eyes each unit contains a small lens which refracts or bends the light onto the focus on the retina. Moreover, che units are hexagonal or round. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p355.]

· However, just what selection pressures may have been responsible and through what intermediate states the reflecting eye evolved is a mystery. The transformation is puzzling because it is very difficult to imagine how the units in some transitional eye-halfway between a hexagon and a square, halfway between a lens and a reflecting surface-could form a better image than the original refracting eye. Consequently, it is difficult to see how those halfway, intermediate eyes would have been selectively advantageous in an evolutionary sense. This is critical, because evolution by natural selection can only follow an evolutionary route from A to B if each step taken on the route to B is adaptively advantageous and confers some increased survival value on the organism. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p356.]

· Why should an organism drop its perfectly functional refracting eyes and start out on the hazardous journey to reflection? Refracting eyes provide organisms with excellent image-forming capabilities, as witness the flight of the dragonfly. Many crustacean cousins of the lobster-crabs, for example- which occupy the same ecological niche as the lobster and have the same predatory lifestyle-have refracting eyes and obviously survive quite well in the same level of illumination. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p356.]

The Eye of the Scallop

· The visual system is remarkably complex and sophisticated. Amazingly, the scallop has not one but sixty of these tiny image-forming eyes. What is so striking is the apparent gratuity of the whole system. Why has such a simple organism evolved such a complex image-forming eye? [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p357.]

· William J. Dakin, a professor of zoology at Liverpool University before the Second World War and one of the first to describe the eye in detail, had problems accepting the Darwinian explanation. According to Darwin in chapter 6 of the Origin: When we reflect on these facts … with respect to the wide, diversified and graduated range of structure in rhe eyes of rhe lower animals; and when we bear in mind how small the number of living rhings must be in comparison with those which have become extinct, rhe difficulty ceases to be very great in be lieving that natural selection may have converted the simple apparatus of an optic nerve … into an optical instrument as perfect as is possessed by any other member of the Articulate Class. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p357, 358.]

· Commenting on this section, Dakin remarks: This is an optimistic view of the problem rather than evidence; it is a view to which I find it very difficult to subscribe in so far as the eyes of the Pectinidae are concerned. Indeed after a careful comparative study of the visual organs of the invertebrates one finds greater difficulty in accepting the principle of natural selection as the dominant factor in their origin than is the case with any other of their morphological features.5 [W. J. Dakin (1928) “The Eyes of Ptcten, Spondylus, Amussium, and Allied Lamellibranchs, with a Shon Discussion on Their Evolution,” Procttding.r of the Royal Society of London, Snits B 103:355-365; see pp. 359-360.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p358.]

· Dakin continues: Now it is very difficult to conceive of a complex structure, complex as these eyes, being the final result of a sifting by natural selection of a large number of chance variations, stress being laid on external factors. Indeed there is grave doubt as to whether the presence of any variations that might lead to such organs could have any survival value.6 [W. J. Dakin (1928) “The Eyes of Ptcten, Spondylus, Amussium, and Allied Lamellibranchs, with a Shon Discussion on Their Evolution,” Procttding.r of the Royal Society of London, Snits B 103:355-365; see p. 361.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p358.]

· Dakin concludes that the size and complexity of the eyes in Pectinidae cannot be explained by natural selection: Whatever may have been the origin of the eyes of the Pecten group I do not hold that utility explains their evolution … in the case of Pectinidae there is no evidence of the elimination of types with less complex eyes as unfit … in view of the diverse conditions existing in the Larnellibranchs there is no evidence that a reduction in the efficiency of the eyes of Pecten would lead to unfitness …. We cannot escape from the conviction that in one particular series of bivalves, all intimately related genetically, a distinct type of visual organ arose, independent of other visual organs, and that apart from adaptation, and apart from utility or advantageousness, it attained a certain extraordinary complexity.7 [W. J. Dakin (1928) “The Eyes of Ptcten, Spondylus, Amussium, and Allied Lamellibranchs, with a Shon Discussion on Their Evolution,” Procttding.r of the Royal Society of London, Snits B 103:355-365; see p. 364.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p358.]

The Marsupial Frogs

· Again, as in the two cases cited above, it is hard to believe that any sort of unguided evolutionary mechanism would have realized such an unusual adaptive end. Moreover, changing the basic organization of an embryo would appear to be far more radical than any of the other changes cited above. And again, for this co happen under the agency of natural selection, each one of the individual seeps along the evolutionary route must have been selectively advantageous. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p360.]

The Avian Lung

· Just how such a different respiratory system could have evolved gradually from the standard vertebrate design without some sort of direction is, again, very difficult to envisage, especially bearing in mind that the maintenance of respiratory function is absolutely vital to the life of the organism. Moreover, the unique function and form of the avian lung necessitates a number of additional unique adaptations during avian development. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p361.]

· The idea that an adaptation like the avian lung might evolve before its full utility can be exploited is perfectly consistent with a directed model of evolution. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p362.]

The Evolution of the Human Brain

· Perhaps the most celebrated and well-known example is the case of human intelligence. Many have commented on the striking fact that our intellectual capabilities, especially our capacity for abstract mathematical thought, upon which the whole enterprise of science is ultimately based, seems vastly in excess of any conceivable intellectual needs of the small tribe of hunter-gatherers who lived in Africa some 200,000 years ago and were the last common ancestors of all modern humans. What selection pressures on the ancient plains of Africa gifted mankind with musical ability, artistic competence, the capacity for profound abstraction, and ultimately the ability to comprehend the entire cosmos from which we sprang. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p]

· Commenting on the evolu~ionary conundrum posed by our intellectual capabilities in his recent book The Mind of God, Paul Davies reminds us “that the success of the scientific enterprise can often blind us to the astonishing fact that science works,” and he continues: What is remarkable is that human beings are actually able to carry out this code-breaking operation, that the human mind has the necessary intellectual equipment for us to “unlock the secrets of nature.” The mystery in all this is that human intellectual powers are presumably determined by biological evolution, and have absolutely no connection with doing science. Our brains have evolved in response to environmental pressures, such as the ability to hunt, avoid predators, dodge falling objects, etc …. John Barrow is also mystified: “Why should our cognitive processes have tuned themselves to such an extravagant quest as the understanding of the entire universe? … None of the sophisticated ideas involved appear to offer any selective advantage to be exploited during the pre-conscious period of our evolution …. How fortuitous that our minds (or at least the minds of some) should be poised to fathom the depths of nature’s secrets.”14 [P. C. W. Davies, (1992) TheMindofGod(London: Penguin), p. 149.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p362, 363.]

· How very fortunate indeed that evolution should have gifted a mind so fit for the scientific enterprise in a physical form so fit to that same unique end long before that enterprise was undertaken. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p363.]

Can Organisms Direct Their Own Evolution?

· Although it seems implausible that such complex adaptations could have resulted from any sort of undirected process, the question arises as to whether or not the direction was built into nature from the beginning or was the result of other secondary phenomena. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p363.]

· In the context of a teleological view of the cosmos, even if much of the overall order of organic nature was determined from the beginning, it is surely conceivable that the Creator, to paraphrase Darwin in the last paragraph of the Origin of Species, could have gifted organisms not only with the capacity for growth, reproduction, inheritance, and variability,19 but also with a limited degree of genuine autonomous creativity so that the world of life might reflect and mirror in some small measure the creativity of God. [Darwin, op. cit., p. 484.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p365.]

Conclusion: The Long Chain of Coincidence

· The fact remains that to date no artifact has ever been discovered on Earth which might be interpreted as a “Chariot of the Gods.” No structure or piece of machinery has ever been found that might have been constructed by aliens here on earth, or left by ancient star travelers from another world. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p377.]

· We still have at present no direct empirical evidence that the laws of physics might permit the existence of life or of intelligent beings designed along principles fundamentally different from those governing life on Earth. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p378.]

· Despite the optimism of the gurus in the fields of exobiology, artificial life, and nanotechnology, no even remotely detailed blueprint for an alternative feasible self-reproducing system has been worked out. Although the possibility cannot be completely excluded, from the evidence now available it seems increasingly unlikely that life can be realized in any other material system in our cosmos. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p380.]

· What is so particularly impressive and so highly suggestive about these life-giving adaptations is that what at first sight seem to be very trivial aspects of the chemistry and physics of a particular component turns out to be of critical significance for its biological role. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p382.]

· It is important also to recall that the vital mutual adaptations are in the essential nature of things and are not the product of natural selection. This was also stressed by Henderson: “Natural selection does but mould the organism without truly altering the primary qualities of environmental ficness.”13 [Feinberg and Shapiro, op. cit., pp. 274-275.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p382.]

· Commenting on Henderson’s arguments, the great biologist Joseph Needham stressed the same point: “Since the properties of water and the … elements antedate the appearance of life … they can be regarded philosophically as some sort of preparation for life. Purposiveness, then, exists everywhere, it permeates the whole universe …. Restricted teleology melts away in the immensity of that discussed by Lawrence Henderson.”14 [J. Needham (1929) The Skeptical Biologist (London: Chatto & Windus), p. 217; see pp. 210-218 for a review of Henderson’s Fitness.] [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p383]

· The evidence that life’s becoming is also built into nature, presented in the second part of the book, is admittedly not as convincing as the evidence presented in the earlier chapters. But it is consistent with the possibility. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p383.]

· The strength of any teleological argument is basically accumulative. It does not lie with any one individual piece of evidence alone but with a whole series of coincidences, all of which point irresistibly to one conclusion. It is the same here. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p384.]

· Rather, it lies in the summation of all the evidence, in the whole long chain of coincidences which leads so convincingly toward the unique end oflife, in the fact that all the independent lines of evidence fit together into a beautiful selfconsistent teleological whole. The evolutionary evidence is similar; it compounds. In isolation, the various pieces of evidence for direction, the speed of evolutionary change, the fantastic complexity of living things, the apparent gratuity of some of the ends achieved, are perhaps no more than suggestive, but taken together, the overall pattern points strongly to final causes. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p384.]

· Note also that theories or worldviews are most often accepted not because they can explain everything perfectly but because they make sense of more than any competitor does. Evolution was accepted in the nineteenth century not because it explained everything perfectly but because it accounted for the facts better than any other theory. Similarly, the teleological model of nature presented here is far more coherent and makes far more sense of the cosmos than any currently available competitor. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p385.]

· The idea that the cosmos is a unique whole with life and mankind as its end and purpose makes sense and illuminates all our current scientific knowledge. It makes sense of the intricate synthesis of carbon in the stars, of the constants of physics, of the properties of water, of the cosmic abundance of the elements, of the existence throughout the cosmos of organic matter, of the fact that the two adjacent planets Earth and Mars appear so similar, that the atombuilding process continues to uranium. No other worldview comes close. No other explanation makes as much sense of all the facts. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p385.]

· Whether one accepts or rejects the design hypothesis, whether one thinks of the designer as the Greek world soul or the Hebrew God, there is no avoiding the conclusion that the world woks as if it has been uniquely tailored for life: it appears to have been designed. All reality appears to be a vast, coherent, teleological whole with life and mankind as its purpose and goal. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p387.]

· All the evidence available in the biological sciences supports the core proposition of traditional natural theology-that the cosmos is a specially designed whole with life and mankind as its fundamental goal and purpose, a whole in which all facets of reality. from the size of galaxies to the thermal capacity of water, have their meaning and explanation in this central fact. [Michael J. Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe, The Free Press, New York 1998, p389.]

الحمد لله الذي بنعمته تتمّ الصَّالِحات

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Darwin’s Black Box

The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution

By: Michael J. Behe

ساهم في الإعداد: الأستاذ مُصطفى نصر قديح

للتحميل: (PDF) (DOC)

black-box

نبذة مُختصرة عن الكتاب:

مِن أشهر الكُتُب الأجنبية التي رُوِّج لها أنَّها مُتخصِّصة في نقد نظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، للمؤلِّف الأمريكي المشهور جداً، المُتخصِّص في مجال الكيمياء الحيوية، الدكتور «مايكل بيهي». والكتاب بعُنوان: «صندوق داروين الأسود» مُتوفِّر بفضل الله عز وجل باللُّغة العربية، عن طريق «دار الكاتب»، والتَّرجمة من إصدارات «مركز براهين».

طبعاً الشيخ «عبد الله الشهري» حفظه الله قدَّم للكتاب في التَّرجمة العربية، والأخ الفاضل «أحمد يحيى» بيَّن في مُقدِّمة أخرى سبب اختيار هذا الكتاب ضمن الأعمال التي ترجمتها المركز، ولي عتاب عليهم، وسوف أذكره بعد قليل.

الكتاب ينتصر لنظرية «التَّصميم الذَّكي» (ID)، والكتاب ينتقد نظرية التَّطوُّر في باب مُحدَّد جداً جداً، ولعلّ هذا الباب المُحدَّد لم يتناوله «داروين» نفسه لأنَّه لم يكن معلوماً في أيَّامه، ولكنَّ المفهوم التَّطوُّري الحديث يشمل هذا الباب بكُلّ تأكيد. وهذه نُقطة أريد لفت الأنظار إليها لعلَّها تُفيد فيما بعد عند نقد النَّظرية، وعند تناول الآراء المُختلفة للعلماء حولها.

«داروين» في كتابه «أصل الأنواع» لم يتناول في نظريته أيّ تفاصيل على مُستوى الخلية ووظائفها ومُكوِّناتها، ولكنَّه بدأ في التَّفكير في نظريته من خلال النَّظر في الكائنات الحيَّة ككُلّ. «مايكل بيهي» في كتابه هذا، يقول إنَّ كل ما هو ظاهر في الكائن الحيّ ككُلّ، بادئ في الأساس من الخلية الحيَّة الأولى! وأنَّ كلّ تغيير يطرأ على الكائن الحيّ سببه في الأصل تغيير حَدَثَ على مُستوى الخلية الحيَّة.

«داروين» لم ينظر للأُمُور هكذا، ولم يتكلَّم عن أيّ تفاصيل مُتعلِّقة بالخلية لتفسير التَّغيير والتَّفاوت والتَّباين الملحوظ بين الكائنات الحيَّة المُختلفة، هذا لأنَّ الخلية بالنِّسبة له كانت بمثابة «الصندوق الأسود» (عُنوان كتاب «بيهي»)، أي أنَّ الخلية ومُحتوياتها وخصائصها كانت مجهولة تماماً بالنِّسبة لـ «داروين»، ولذلك تعامل فقط على مُستوى الكائن الحيّ الكامل.

العِتاب الذي أشرتُ إليه مُسبقاً هو عَدَم تَّنبيه أو تَّعليق «مركز براهين» على منهج «بيهي» وتصوُّره لنظرية التَّطوُّر، فإنَّ «بيهي» له تصوُّر عجيب جداً لنظرية التَّطوُّر، مع نقده له، وهذا التَّصوُّر قد يُسبِّب بلبلة لبعض النَّاس، في كونه تصوُّر صحيح أم خاطئ؟! وإليكم المزيد من البيان لأهمية هذا الأمر في تصوُّري على الأقل!

هُناك أكثر من مُستوى للتَّعامُل مع نظرية التَّطوُّر، وقد أشار «بيهي» في بداية كتابه هذا إلى المفهوم الذي يتناوله فيما يخُص تعبير «التَّطوُّر evolution»، وهو يستخدمه بمعنى أشمل وأوسع من مُجرَّد تفسير نشأة الأجناس المُختلفة للكائنات الحيَّة (المعنى الذي استخدمه «داروين» في كتابه أصل الأنواع)، وإنَّما استخدم تعبير التَّطوُّر كآلية لتفسير كلّ شيء يخُصّ الكائنات الحيَّة في إطار مادِّي طبيعي بحت، بما فيها تفسير نشأة الحياة من البداية! وهذا هو المجال الذي ينتقده «بيهي»، فقط لا غير!

كتاب «بيهي» لا يُعتبر نقداً لنظرية التَّطوُّر بمفهومه التَّقليدي، وإنَّما يُعتبر نقداً لجزئية مُتخصِّصة جداً مُتعلِّقة بموضوع نشأة الحياة على الأرض (origin of life)، فإنَّنا نجد أنَّ «بيهي» في كتابه هذا يعترف بإيمانه بفكرة السَّلف المُشترك، وهذه الفكرة أصلٌ أصيلٌ لنظرية التَّطوُّر التَّقليدية، بل إنَّها من الأفكار الأساسية التي بسببها ننتقد النَّظرية كمُسلمين في الأساس! فكيف لا يتمّ التَّنبيه مِن قِبَل المركز على أنَّ «بيهي» يؤمن بصحَّة هذه الفكرة؟!

حتى لا أطيل كثيراً في هذا الموضوع، أريد توضيح أنَّ «بيهي» في كتابه هذا لا يعترض إلَّا على نُقطة واحدة دقيقة للغاية، ألَا وهي قُدرة نظرية التَّطوُّر على تفسير وُجُود الأنظمة الحيوية المُعقَّدة في الخلية، ولبيان عجز التَّطوُّر عن تقديم تفسير أو شرح لكيفية وُجُود هذه الأنظمة (عن طريق العشوائية والتَّدريج)، فإنَّه يُقدِّم فكرته المشهورة جداً المعروفة بعُنوان: التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال أو للتَّبسيط أو للتَّدرُّج.

من خلال قراءة أحسبها دقيقة لكتاب «بيهي» هذا، أرى أنَّ تصوُّره لنظرية التَّطوُّر ليس رفضاً تامَّاً محضاً، فإنَّه يقبل فكرة السَّلف المُشترك، ويدَّعي أنَّ الأدلة تُشير إليها، ولكنَّه ينتقد فكرة أنَّ الطَّفرات العشوائية والانتخاب الطَّبيعي فقط بمفردهما قادران على تفسير وُجُود الخلية بأنظمتها الحيوية المُعقَّدة. وهو في كتابه هذا يقول إنَّ مُصمِّماً ذكيًّا هو الذي قام بتصميم الخلية بما فيها من أنظمة حيوية مُعقَّدة، ثمَّ وضعها على نظام «الطيَّار الآلي»، فنتج عن هذا كلّ ما نراه حولنا من كائنات حيَّة مُختلفة. وهل هذا إلَّا نظرة مُعدلَّة لنظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّارويني؟! أقرب في نظري لما نُسمِّيه بالتَّطوُّر الإلهي، مع الأخذ في الاعتبار أنَّ الإلهية في الموضوع عند «بيهي» هو أنَّ المُصمِّم هو الذي وضع في الخلية كلّ ما يجعلها قادرة على التَّطوُّر بالطَّريقة التي يصفها «داروين»!

في النِّهاية أقول إنَّنا كرافضين لنظرية التَّطوُّر الدَّاروينية، لا نستطيع استخدام موقف «بيهي» في هذا الكتاب لنقد النَّظرية بشكلٍ كاملٍ وشاملٍ، وإنَّما موقفه أقرب لنقد الإلحاد بشكل عام، وإثبات وُجُود خالق حكيم مسئول عن نشأة الحياة على الأرض. ونقده للنَّظرية في إطار سَحْب آثارها على ما هو أبعد من مُجرَّد تفسير نشأة الأجناس المُختلفة، وهذا بيِّنٌ ظاهر في بداية كتابه، فإنَّ «بيهي» يعترض بوُضُوح على قُدرة النَّظرية على تفسير كلّ شيء، حتى نشأة الحياة، فيما يُسمَّى بـ «التَّطوُّر الكيميائي»، ويُبيِّن هذا عن طريق التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال.

رفض «بيهي» لكون نظرية التَّطوُّر قادرة على تفسير وُجُود الأنظمة الحيوية المُعقَّدة في الخلية لا يعني بالضَّرورة أنَّه يرفض الفكرة العامَّة للتَّطوُّر الموجودة في أذهان الناس، والتي من ضمنها فكرة السَّلف المُشترك، وأستطيع أن أقول أن تصوُّر «بيهي» لفكرة التَّطوُّر بالتأكيد مُختلفة عن فكرة «ريتشارد دوكينز» عنها، ولكنَّها لا تختلف كثيراً، فهُناك أوجه شبه كثيرة وكبيرة، والفارق الرئيسي بين ما يعتقده «بيهي»، وما يعتقده «دوكينز»، هو اعتقاد «بيهي» بأنَّ البداية كانت عن طريق مُصمِّم ذكي، أمَّا بقية القصَّة التَّطوُّرية، فلا أعتقد أنَّهما سيختلفان كثيراً عليها!

مع كلّ ما سبق ومع أسفي على الإطالة يجب التَّنبيه الشَّديد على أنَّ الكتاب نافع جداً، وهو مُنقسم إلى ثلاثة أقسام، القسم الثاني يحتوي على معلومات علمية دسمة جداً، ولكنَّ مُجرَّد قراءة القسمين الأول والثاني، وما تستطيع فهمه من القسم الثاني، سيُثمر – بإذن الله عز وجل – النَّفع الكثير!

وعتابي الأخير للمركز بسبب أنَّهم قاموا بترجمة الطَّبعة الأولى للكتاب، وليس الطَّبعة المُخصَّصة بمُناسبة مُرور عشرة أعوام على نشر الكتاب، والتي لا تختلف كثيراً عن الطَّبعة الأولى إلَّا بوجود فصلين إضافيين، أهمُّهما الذي يحتوي على ردود «بيهي» على الذين انتقدوا حُجَّة التَّعقيد غير القابل للاختزال!

الكتاب مُمتاز جداً، ومُمتع جداً، وبغضّ النَّظر عن موقف «بيهي» العجيب من نظرية التَّطوُّر ككُلّ، إلَّا أنَّه يُقدِّم حُجَّة بالغة في صالح المؤمنين، ونقداً لاذعاً للمادِّية والإلحاد، كذلك يُقدِّم تعليقات رائعة مُختصَّة بطبيعة العلم، والتَّناقضات المزعومة بين العلم والدِّين.

Preface

·     Yet understanding how something works is not the same as understanding how it came to be. For example, the motions of the planets in the solar system can be predicted with tremendous accuracy; however, the origin of the solar system (the question of how the sun, planets, and their moons formed in the first place) is still controversial.1 Science may eventually solve the riddle. Still, the point remains that understanding the origin of something is different from understanding its day-to-day workings. [Cameron, A. G. W. (1988) «Origin of the Solar System,» Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 26, 441-472.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p ix.]

·     Since the mid-1950s biochemistry has painstakingly elucidated the workings of life at the molecular level. Darwin was ignorant of the reason for variation within a species (one of the requirements of his theory), but biochemistry has identified the molecular basis for it. Nineteenth-century science could not even guess at the mechanism of vision, immunity, or movement, but modern biochemistry has identified the molecules that allow those and other functions. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p x]

·     Evolution is a flexible word.2 It can be used by one person to mean something as simple as change over time, or by another person to mean the descent of all life forms from a common ancestor, leaving the mechanism of change unspecified. In its full-throated, biological sense, however, evolution means a process whereby life arose from nonliving matter and subsequently developed entirely by natural means. That is the sense that Darwin gave to the word, and the meaning that it holds in the scientific community. And that is the sense in which I use the word evolution throughout this book. [Johnson, P E. (1991) Darwin on Trial, Regnery Gateway, Washington, DC, chap. 5; Mayr, E. (1991) One Long Argument, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 35-39.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p x, xi]

·     So, as a writer who wants people to read my work, I face a dilemma: people hate to read details, yet the story of the impact of biochemistry on evolutionary theory rests solely in the details. Therefore, I have to write the kind of book people don’t like to read in order to persuade them of the ideas that push me to write. Nonetheless, complexity must be experienced to be appreciated. So, gentle reader, I beg your patience; there are going to be a lot of details in this book. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p xii.]

·     The book is divided into three parts. Part I gives some background and shows why evolution must now be argued at the molecular level—the domain of the science of biochemistry. This portion is largely free from technical details, although some do creep in during a discussion of the eye. Part II contains the «example chapters» where most of the complexity is found. Part III is a nontechnical discussion of the implications of biochemistry’s discoveries. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p xii.]

Part I: The Box is Opened

Chapter 1: Lilliputian Biology

·      Biochemistry is the study of the very basis of life: the molecules that make up cells and tissues, that catalyze the chemical reactions of digestion, photosynthesis, immunity, and more.1 [By biochemistry I mean to include all sciences that investigate life at the molecular level, even if the science is done in a department with another name, such as molecular biology, genetics, or embryology.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p3.]

·      Like many great ideas, Darwin’s is elegantly simple. He observed that there is variation in all species: some members are bigger, some smaller, some faster, some lighter in color, and so forth. He reasoned that since limited food supplies could not support all organisms that are born, the ones whose chance variation gave them an advantage in the struggle for life would tend to survive and reproduce, outcompeting the less favored ones. If the variation were inherited, then the characteristics of the species would change over time; over great periods, great changes might occur. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p3, 4.]

·      For more than a century most scientists have thought that virtually all of life, or at least all of its most interesting features, resulted from natural selection working on random variation. Darwin’s idea has been used to explain finch beaks and horse hoofs, moth coloration and insect slaves, and the distribution of life around the globe and through the ages. The theory has even been stretched by some scientists to interpret human behavior: why desperate people commit suicide, why teenagers have babies out of wedlock, why some groups do better on intelligence tests than other groups, and why religious missionaries forgo marriage and children. There is nothing—no organ or idea, no sense or thought—that has not been the subject of evolutionary rumination. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4.]

·      Almost a century and a half after Darwin proposed his theory, evolutionary biology has had much success in accounting for patterns of life we see around us. To many, its triumph seems complete. But the real work of life does not happen at the level of the whole animal or organ; the most important parts of living things are too small to be seen. Life is lived in the details, and it is molecules that handle life’s details. Darwin’s idea might explain horse hoofs, but can it explain life’s foundation? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4.]

·      The cumulative results show with piercing clarity that life is based on machines—machines made of molecules! Molecular machines haul cargo from one place in the cell to another along «highways» made of other molecules, while still others act as cables, ropes, and pulleys to hold the cell in shape. Machines turn cellular switches on and off, sometimes killing the cell or causing it to grow. Solar-powered machines capture the energy of photons and store it in chemicals. Electrical machines allow current to flow through nerves. Manufacturing machines build other molecular machines, as well as themselves. Cells swim using machines, copy themselves with machinery, ingest food with machinery. In short, highly sophisticated molecular machines control every cellular process. Thus the details of life are finely calibrated, and the machinery of life enormously complex. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p4, 5.]

·      But as I will note later, if you search the scientific literature on evolution, and if you focus your search on the question of how molecular machines— the basis of life—developed, you find an eerie and complete silence. The complexity of life’s foundation has paralyzed science’s attempt to account for it; molecular machines raise an as-yet-impenetrable barrier to Darwinism’s universal reach. To find out why, in this book I will examine several fascinating molecular machines, then ask whether they can ever be explained by random mutation/natural selection. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p5.]

·      As commonly understood, creationism involves belief in an earth formed only about ten thousand years ago, an interpretation of the Bible that is still very popular. For the record, I have no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is. Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it. I greatly respect the work of my colleagues who study the development and behavior of organisms within an evolutionary framework, and I think that evolutionary biologists have contributed enormously to our understanding of the world. Although Darwin’s mechanism—natural selection working on variation—might explain many things, however, I do not believe it explains molecular life. I also do not think it surprising that the new science of the very small might change the way we view the less small. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p5, 6.]

·      Black box is a whimsical term for a device that does something, but whose inner workings are mysterious—sometimes because the workings can’t be seen, and sometimes because they just aren’t comprehensible. Computers are a good example of a black box. Most of us use these marvelous machines without the vaguest idea of how they work, processing words or plotting graphs or playing games in contented ignorance of what is going on underneath the outer case. Even if we were to remove the cover, though, few of us could make heads or tails of the jumble of pieces inside. There is no simple, observable connection between the parts of the computer and the things that it does. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p6.]

·      It was not until the seventeenth century that an Englishman, William Harvey, introduced the theory that blood flows continuously in one direction, making a complete circuit and returning to the heart. Harvey calculated that if the heart pumps out just two ounces of blood per beat, at 72 beats per minute, in one hour it would have pumped 540 pounds of blood—triple the weight of a man! Since making that much blood in so short a time is clearly impossible, the blood had to be reused. Harvey’s logical reasoning (aided by the still-new Arabic numerals, which made calculating easy) in support of an unobservable activity was unprecedented; it set the stage for modern biological thought. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p8.]

·      The discovery of an unanticipated Lilliputian world had begun, overturning settled notions of what living things are. Charles Singer, the historian of science, noted that «the infinite complexity of living things thus revealed was as philosophically disturbing as the ordered majesty of the astronomical world which Galileo had unveiled to the previous generation, though it took far longer for its implications to sink into men’s minds.» In other words, sometimes the new boxes demand that we revise all of our theories. In such cases, great unwillingness can arise. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

·      The cell theory of life was finally put forward in the early nineteenth century by Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann. Schleiden worked primarily with plant tissue; he argued for the central importance of a dark spot—the nucleus—within all cells. Schwann concentrated on animal tissue, in which it was harder to see cells. Nonetheless he discerned that animals were similar to plants in their cellular structure. Schwann concluded that cells or the secretions of cells compose the entire bodies of animals and plants, and that in some way the cells are individual units with a life of their own. He wrote that «the question as to the fundamental power of organized bodies resolves itself into that of individual cells.» As Schleiden added, «Thus the primary question is, what is the origin of this peculiar little organism, the cell?» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

·      Schleiden and Schwann worked in the early to middle 1800s—the time of Darwin’s travels and the writing of The Origin of Species. To Darwin, then, as to every other scientist of the time, the cell was a black box. Nonetheless he was able to make sense of much biology above the level of the cell. The idea that life evolves was not original with Darwin, but he argued it by far the most systematically, and the theory of how evolution works—by natural selection working on variation—was his own. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p9.]

·      The word evolution has been invoked to explain tiny changes in organisms as well as huge changes. These are often given separate names: Roughly speaking, microevolution describes changes that can be made in one or a few small jumps, whereas macroevolution describes changes that appear to require large jumps. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p14]

·      On a small scale, Darwin’s theory has triumphed; it is now about as controversial as an athlete’s assertion that he or she could jump over a four-foot ditch. But it is at the level of macroevolution—of large jumps—that the theory evokes skepticism. Many people have followed Darwin in proposing that huge changes can be broken down into plausible, small steps over great periods of time. Persuasive evidence to support that position, however, has not been forthcoming. Nonetheless, like a neighbor’s story about vanishing buttes, it has been difficult to evaluate whether the elusive and ill-defined small steps could exist… until now. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p15.]

·      Charles Darwin knew about the eye, too. In The Origin of Species Darwin dealt with many objections to his theory of evolution by natural selection. He discussed the problem of the eye in a section of the book appropriately entitled «Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication.» In Darwin’s thinking, evolution could not build a complex organ in one step or a few steps; radical innovations such as the eye would require generations of organisms to slowly accumulate beneficial changes in a gradual process. He realized that if in one generation an organ as complex as the eye suddenly appeared, it would be tantamount to a miracle. Unfortunately, gradual development of the human eye appeared to be impossible, since its many sophisticated features seemed to be interdependent. Somehow, for evolution to be believable, Darwin had to convince the public that complex organs could be formed in a step-by-step process. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p16.]

·      Using reasoning like this, Darwin convinced many of his readers that an evolutionary pathway leads from the simplest light-sensitive spot to the sophisticated camera-eye of man. But the question of how vision began remained unanswered. Darwin persuaded much of the world that a modern eye evolved gradually from a simpler structure, but he did not even try to explain where his starting point—the relatively simple light-sensitive spot—came from. On the contrary, Darwin dismissed the question of the eye’s ultimate origin: «How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated.»4 [Darwin, C. (1872) Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1988), New York University Press, New York, p. 151.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p18.]

·      Now that the black box of vision has been opened, it is no longer enough for an evolutionary explanation of that power to consider only the anatomical structures of whole eyes, as Darwin did in the nineteenth century (and as popularizers of evolution continue to do today). Each of the anatomical steps and structures that Darwin thought were so simple actually involves staggeringly complicated biochemical processes that cannot be papered over with rhetoric. Darwin’s metaphorical hops from butte to butte are now revealed in many cases to be huge leaps between carefully tailored machines—distances that would require a helicopter to cross in one trip.

[Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p22.]

·      The key to persuading people was the portrayal of the cells as «simple.» One of the chief advocates of the theory of spontaneous generation during the middle of the nineteenth century was Ernst Haeckel, a great admirer of Darwin and an eager popularizer of Darwin’s theory. From the limited view of cells that microscopes provided, Haeckel believed that a cell was a «simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon,»7 not much different from a piece of microscopic Jell-O. So it seemed to Haeckel that such simple life, with no internal organs, could be produced easily from inanimate material. Now, of course, we know better. [Farley, J. (1979) The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, p. 73.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

·      Darwin is to our understanding of the origin of vision as Haeckel is to our understanding of the origin of life. In both cases brilliant nineteenth-century scientists tried to explain Lilliputian biology that was hidden from them, and both did so by assuming that the inside of the black box must be simple. Time has proven them wrong. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

·      Inevitably, evolutionary theory began to mean different things to different disciplines; a coherent view of Darwinian evolution was being lost. In the middle of the century, however, leaders of the fields organized a series of interdisciplinary meetings to combine their views into a coherent theory of evolution based on Darwinian principles. The result has been called the «evolutionary synthesis,» and the theory called neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism is the basis of modern evolutionary thought. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24.]

·      One branch of science was not invited to the meetings, and for good reason: it did not yet exist. The beginnings of modem biochemistry came only after neo-Darwinism had been officially launched. Thus, just as biology had to be reinterpreted after the complexity of microscopic life was discovered, neo-Darwinism must be reconsidered in light of advances in biochemistry. The scientific disciplines that were part of the evolutionary synthesis are all nonmolecular. Yet for the Darwinian theory of evolution to be true, it has to account for the molecular structure of life. It is the purpose of this book to show that it does not. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p24, 25.]

Chapter 2: Nuts and Bolts

·      Lynn Margulis is Distinguished University Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts. Lynn Margulis is highly respected for her widely accepted theory that mitochondria, the energy source of plant and animal cells, were once independent bacterial cells. And Lynn Margulis says that history will ultimately judge neo-Darwinism as «a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.» [Mann, C. (1991) «Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother,» Science, 252, 378-381.] At one of her many public talks she asks the molecular biologists in the audience to name a single, unambiguous example of the formation of a new species by the accumulation of mutations. Her challenge goes unmet. Proponents of the standard theory, she says, «wallow in their zoological, capitalistic, competitive, cost-benefit interpretation of Darwin—having mistaken him. . . . Neo-Darwinism, which insists on (the slow accrual of mutations), is in a complete funk.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p26.]

·      Paleontologist Niles Eldredge describes the problem: No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change—over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution. [Eldredge, N. (1995) Reinventing Darwin, Wiley, New York, p. 95.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p27.]

·      Gould has been at the forefront of the discussion of another fascinating phenomenon: the «Cambrian explosion.» Careful searches show only a smattering of fossils of multicellular creatures in rocks older than about 600 million years. Yet in rocks just a little bit younger is seen a profusion of fossilized animals, with a host of widely differing body plans. Recently the estimated time over which the explosion took place has been revised downward from 50 million years to 10 million years—a blink of the eye in geological terms. The shorter time estimate has forced headline writers to grope for new superlatives, a favorite being the «biological Big Bang.» Gould has argued that the rapid rate of appearance of new life forms demands a mechanism other than natural selection for its explanation.4 [Beardsley, T. «Weird Wonders: Was the Cambrian Explosion a Big Bang or a Whimper?» Scientific American, June 1992, pp. 30-31.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p27, 28.]

·      Ironically, we have come full circle from Darwin’s day. When Darwin first proposed his theory a big difficulty was the estimated age of the earth. Nineteenth-century physicists thought the earth was only about a hundred million years old, yet Darwin thought natural selection would require much more time to produce life. At first he was proven right; the earth is now known to be much older. With the discovery of the biological Big Bang, however, the window of time for life to go from simple to complex has shrunk to much less than nineteenth-century estimates of the earth’s age. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

·      The English biologists Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders complain as follows: It is now approximately half a century since the neo-Darwinian synthesis was formulated. A great deal of research has been carried on within the paradigm it defines. Yet the successes of the theory are limited to the minutiae of evolution, such as the adaptive change in coloration of moths; while it has remarkably little to say on the questions which interest us most, such as how there came to be moths in the first place. [Ho, M. W., and Saunders, P.T. (1979) «Beyond Neo-Darwinism—An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution,» Journal of Theoretical Biology 78, 589.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

·      University of Georgia geneticist John McDonald notes a conundrum:The results of the last 20 years of research on the genetic basis of adaptation has led us to a great Darwinian paradox. Those [genes] that are obviously variable within natural populations do not seem to lie at the basis of many major adaptive changes, while those [genes] that seemingly do constitute the foundation of many, if not most, major adaptive changes apparently are not variable within natural populations. [McDonald, J. F. (1983) «The Molecular Basis of Adaptation,» Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 14, 93.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

·      Australian evolutionary geneticist George Miklos puzzles over the usefulness of Darwinism: What then does this all-encompassing theory of evolution predict? Given a handful of postulates, such as random mutations, and selection coefficients, it will predict changes in [gene] frequencies over time. Is this what a grand theory of evolution ought to be about? [Miklos, G. L. G (1993) «Emergence of Organizational Complexities During Metazoan Evolution: Perspectives from Molecular Biology, Paleontology and Neo-Darwinism,» Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists, 15, 28.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p28.]

·      Jerry Coyne, of the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, arrives at an unanticipated verdict: We conclude—unexpectedly—that there is little evidence for the neo-Darwinian view: its theoretical foundations and the experimental evidence supporting it are weak. [Orr, H. A., and Coyne, J. A. (1992) «The Genetics of Adaptation: A Reassessment,» American Naturalist, 140, 726.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

·      And University of California geneticist John Endler ponders how beneficial mutations arise: Although much is known about mutation, it is still largely a «black box» relative to evolution. Novel biochemical functions seem to be rare in evolution, and the basis for their origin is virtually unknown. [Endler, J. A., and McLellan, T. (1988) «The Process of Evolution: Toward a Newer Synthesis,» Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 19, 397.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

·      Mathematicians over the years have complained that Darwinism’s numbers just do not add up. Information theorist Hubert Yockey argues that the information needed to begin life could not have developed by chance; he suggests that life be considered a given, like matter or energy. [Yockey, H. (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, chap. 9.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

·      In 1966 leading mathematicians and evolutionary biologists held a symposium at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia because the organizer, Martin Kaplan, had overheard «a rather weird discussion between four mathematicians … on mathematical doubts concerning the Darwinian theory of evolution.»11 At the symposium one side was unhappy, and the other was uncomprehending. A mathematician who claimed that there was insufficient time for the number of mutations apparently needed to make an eye was told by the biologists that his figures must be wrong. The mathematicians, though, were not persuaded that the fault was theirs. As one said: There is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged with the current conception of biology.12 [11. Kaplan, M. (1967) «Welcome to Participants» in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, ed. P. S. Moorhead and M. M. Kaplan, Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia, p. vii. 12. Sch􀃘tzenberger, M. P. (1967) «Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution» in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, ed. P S. Moorhead and M. M. Kaplan, Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia, p. 75.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

·      Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute is a leading proponent of «complexity theory.» Simply put, it proposes that many features of living systems are the result of self-organization—the tendency of complex systems to arrange themselves in patterns—and not natural selection: Darwin and evolution stand astride us, whatever the muttering of creation scientists. But is the view right? Better, is it adequate? I believe it is not. It is not that Darwin is wrong, but that he got hold of only part of the truth.13 [Kauffman, S. (1993) The Origins of Order, Oxford University Press, Oxford, England, p. xiii.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p29.]

·      In 1871 one of Darwin’s critics, St. George Mivart, listed his objections to the theory, many of which are surprisingly similar to those raised by modern critics. “What is to be brought forward (against Darwinism) may be summed up as follows: That «Natural Selection» is incompetent to account for the incipient stages of useful structures. That it does not harmonize with the co-existence of closely similar structures of diverse origin. That there are grounds for thinking that specific differences may be developed suddenly instead of gradually. That the opinion that species have definite though very different limits to their variability is still tenable. That certain fossil transitional forms are absent, which might have been expected to be present. … That there are many remarkable phenomena in organic forms upon which «Natural Selection» throws no light whatever.” [Mivart, St. G. (1871) On the Genesis of Species, Macmillan and Co., London, p. 21.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p30.]

·      Before going further we should note the obvious: if a poll were taken of all the scientists in the world, the great majority would say they believed Darwinism to be true. But scientists, like everybody else, base most of their opinions on the word of other people. Of the great majority who accept Darwinism, most (though not all) do so based on authority. Also, and unfortunately, too often criticisms have been dismissed by the scientific community for fear of giving ammunition to creationists. It is ironic that in the name of protecting science, trenchant scientific criticism of natural selection has been brushed aside. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p30.]

·      The bombardier beetle is an insect of unassuming appearance, measuring about one half-inch in length. When it is threatened by another bug, however, the beetle has a special method of defending itself, squirting a boiling-hot solution at the enemy out of an aperture in its hind section.16 The heated liquid scalds its target, which then usually makes other plans for dinner. How is this trick done? [Aneshansley, D. J., Eisner, Т., Widom, J. M., and Widom, B. (1969) «Biochemistry at 100°C: Explosive Secretory Discharge of Bombardier Beetles,» Science, 165, 61; Crowson, R. A, (1981) The Biology of the Coleoptera, Academic Press, New York, chap. 15.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p31.]

·      The bombardier beetle is a favorite of creationists. (A storybook for children, Bomby, the Bombardier Beetle by Hazel May Rue, has been published by the Institute for Creation Research.) They twit evolutionists with the beetle’s remarkable defensive system, inviting them to explain how it could have evolved gradually. Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, has taken up their challenge. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33.]

·      In The Blind Watchmaker Dawkins turns his attention briefly to the bombardier beetle. First he cites a passage from The Neck of the Giraffe, a book by science writer Francis Hitching, that describes the bombardier beetle’s defensive system, as part of an argument against Darwinism: [The bombardier beetle] squirts a lethal mixture of hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide into the face of its enemy. These two chemicals, when mixed together; literally explode. So in order to store them inside its body, the bombardier beetle has evolved a chemical inhibitor to make them harmless. At the moment the beetle squirts the liquid out of its tail, an anti-inhibitor is added to make the mixture explosive once again. The chain of events that could have led to the evolution of such a complex, coordinated and subtle process is beyond biological explanation on a simple step-by-step basis. The slightest alteration in the chemical balance would result immediately in a race of exploded beetles.17 [Hitching, F. (1982) The Neck of the Giraffe, Pan, London, p. 68.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33.]

·      Replies Dawkins: A biochemist colleague has kindly provided me with a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and enough hydroquinone for 50 bombardier beetles. I am about to mix the two together. According to [Hitching], they will explode in my face. Here goes…. Well, I’m still here. I poured the hydrogen peroxide into the hydroquinone, and absolutely nothing happened. It didn’t even get warm…. The statement that «these two chemicals, when mixed together; literally explode,» is, quite simply, false, although it is regularly repeated throughout the creationist literature. If you are curious about the bombardier beetle, by the way, what actually happens is as follows. It is true that it squirts a scaldingly hot mixture of hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone at enemies. But hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone don’t react violently together unless a catalyst is added. This is what the bombardier beetle does. As for the evolutionary precursors of the system, both hydrogen peroxide and various kinds of quinones are used for other purposes in body chemistry. The bombardier beetle’s ancestors simply pressed into different service chemicals that already happened to be around. That’s how evolution works.18 [Dawkins, R. (1985) The Blind Watchmaker, W. W. Norton, London, pp. 86-87.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33, 34.]

·      Dawkins’s explanation for the evolution of the system rests on the fact that the system’s elements «happened to be around.» Thus evolution might be possible. But Dawkins has not explained how hydrogen peroxide and quinones came to be secreted together at very high concentration into one compartment that is connected through a sphinctered tube to a second compartment that contains enzymes necessary for the rapid reaction of the chemicals. The key question is this: How could complex biochemical systems be gradually produced? The problem with the above «debate» is that both sides are talking past each other. One side gets its facts wrong; the other side merely corrects the facts. But the burden of the Darwinians is to answer two questions: First, what exactly are the stages of beetle evolution, in all their complex glory? Second, given these stages, how does Darwinism get us from one to the next? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p33, 34.]

·      To point out the problem with his argument, however, let’s use what we know of the beetle’s anatomy to build the best possible case for the evolution of the bombardier bee-tle. First, we should note that the function of the bombardier beetle’s defensive apparatus is to repel attackers. The components of the system are (1) hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, which are produced by the secretory lobes; (2) the enzyme catalysts, which are made by the ectodermal glands; (3) the collecting vesicle; (4) the sphincter muscle; (5) the explosion chamber; and (6) the outlet duct. Not all of these components, though, are necessary for the function of the system. Hydroquinone itself is noxious to predators. A large number of beetle species synthesize quinones that are not even secreted, but which «taste bad.» Initially a number of individual beetles are chewed up and spit out, but a predator learns to avoid their noxious counterparts in the future, and thus the species as a whole benefits from this defense. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p34, 35.]

·      Although we seem to have a continuously changing system, the components that control its operation are not known. For example, the collection vesicle is a complex, multicelled structure. What does it contain? Why does it have its particular shape? Saying that «the beetle would benefit from concentrating the hydroquinone in a holding space» is like saying «society benefits from concentrating power in a centralized government»: In both cases the manner of concentrating and the holding vessel are unexplained, and the benefits of either would depend sharply on the details. The collecting vesicle, the sphincter muscle, the explosion chamber, and the exit port are all complex structures in their own right, with many unidentified components. Furthermore, the actual processes responsible for the development of the explosive capability are unknown: What causes a collection vesicle to develop, hydrogen peroxide to be excreted, or a sphincter muscle to wrap around? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36.]

·      All we can conclude at this point is that Darwinian evolution might have occured. If we could analyze the structural details of the beetle down to the last protein and enzyme, and if we could account for all these details with a Darwinian explanation, then we could agree with Dawkins. For now, though, we cannot tell whether the step-by-step accretions of our hypothetical evolutionary stream are single-mutation «hops» or helicopter rides between distant buttes. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36.]

·      Hitching had stated in The Neck of the Giraffe that: it is quite evident that if the slightest thing goes wrong en route—if the cornea is fuzzy, or the pupil fails to dilate, or the lens becomes opaque, or the focusing goes wrong—then a recognizable image is not formed. The eye either functions as a whole or not at all. So how did it come to evolve by slow, steady, infinitesimally small Darwinian improvements? Is it really plausible that thousands upon thousands of lucky chance mutations happened coincidentally so that the lens and the retina, which cannot work without each other, evolved in synchrony? What survival value can there be in an eye that doesn’t see?21 [Hitching, pp. 66-67.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p36, 37.]

·      Dawkins, grateful that Hitching again leads with his chin, doesn’t miss the opportunity: Consider the statement that «if the slightest thing goes wrong … [if] the focusing goes wrong … a recognizable image is not formed.» The odds cannot be far from 50/50 that you are reading these words through glass lenses. Take them off and look around. Would you agree that «a recognizable image is not formed»? . .. (Hitching) also states, as though it were obvious, that the lens and the retina cannot work without each other. On what authority? Someone close to me has had a cataract operation in both eyes. She has no lenses in her eyes at all. Without glasses she couldn’t even begin to play lawn tennis or aim a rifle. But she assures me that you are far better off with a lensless eye than with no eye at all. You can tell if you are about to walk into a wall or another person. If you were a wild creature, you could certainly use your lensless eye to detect the looming shape of a predator, and the direction from which it was approaching.22 [Dawkins, pp. 80-81.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p37.]

·      Remember that the «light-sensitive spot» that Dawkins takes as his starting point requires a cascade of factors, including 11-cis-retinal and rhodopsin, to function. Dawkins doesn’t mention them. And where did the «little cup» come from? A ball of cells—from which the cup must be made—will tend to be rounded unless held in the correct shape by molecular supports. In fact, there are dozens of complex proteins involved in maintaining cell shape, and dozens more that control extracellular structure; in their absence, cells take on the shape of so many soap bubbles. Do these structures represent single-step mutations? Dawkins did not tell us how the apparently simple «cup» shape came to be. And although he reassures us that any «translucent material» would be an improvement (recall that Haeckel mistakenly thought it would be easy to produce cells since they were certainly just «simple lumps»), we are not told how difficult it is to produce a «simple lens.» In short, Dawkins’s explanation is only addressed to the level of what is called gross anatomy. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p38.]

·      Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden: 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.24 [Darwin, C. (1872) Origin of Species, 6th ed. (1988), New York University Press, New York, p. 154.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p39.]

·      Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. 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 functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) 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. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p39.]

·      Richard Dawkins explains the problem well: Evolution is very possibly not, in actual fact, always gradual. But it must be gradual when it is being used to explain the coming into existence of complicated, apparently designed objects, like eyes. For if it is not gradual in these cases, it ceases to have any explanatory power at all. Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to miracle, which is simply a synonym for the total absence of explanation.25 [Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden, Basic Books, New York, p. 83.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p40.]

·      In biochemistry, a mutation is a change in DNA. To be inherited, the change must occur in the DNA of a reproductive cell. The simplest mutation occurs when a single nucleotide (nucleotides are the «building blocks» of DNA) in a creature’s DNA is switched to a different nucleotide. Alternatively, a single nucleotide can be added or left out when the DNA is copied during cell division. Sometimes, though, a whole region of DNA—thousands or millions of nucleotides—is accidentally deleted or duplicated. That counts as a single mutation, too, because it happens at one time, as a single event. Generally a single mutation can, at best, make only a small change in a creature—even if the change impresses us as a big one. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p40.]

·      Thus, to go back to the bombardier beetle and the human eye, the question is whether the numerous anatomical changes can be accounted for by many small mutations. The frustrating answer is that we can’t tell. Both the bombardier beetle’s defensive apparatus and the vertebrate eye contain so many molecular components (on the order of tens of thousands of different types of molecules) that listing them— and speculating on the mutations that might have produced them—is currently impossible. Too many of the nuts and bolts (and screws, motor parts, handlebars, and so on) are unaccounted for. For us to debate whether Darwinian evolution could produce such large structures is like nineteenth century scientists debating whether cells could arise spontaneously. Such debates are fruitless because not all the components are known. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p41.]

·      The first step in determining irreducible complexity is to specify both the function of the system and all system components. An irreducibly complex object will be composed of several parts, all of which contribute to the function. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p42.]

·      The second step in determining if a system is irreducibly complex is to ask if all the components are required for the function. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p42.]

·      But a motorcycle depends on a source of fuel, and a bicycle has nothing that can be slightly modified to become a gasoline tank. And what part of the bicycle could be duplicated to begin building a motor? Even if a lucky accident brought a lawnmower engine from a neighboring factory into the bicycle factory, the motor would have to be mounted on the bike and be connected in the right way to the drive chain. How could this be done step-by-step from bicycle parts? A factory that made bicycles simply could not produce a motorcycle by natural selection acting on variation—by «numerous, successive, slight modifications»—and in fact there is no example in history of a complex change in a product occurring in this manner. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p44.]

·      My previous list of factors that render a mousetrap irreducibly complex was actually much too generous, because almost any device with the five components of a standard mousetrap will nonetheless fail to function. If the base were made out of paper, for example, the trap would fall apart. If the hammer were too heavy, it would break the spring. If the spring were too loose, it would not move the hammer. If the holding bar were too short, it would not reach the catch. If the catch were too large, it would not release at the proper time. A simple list of components of a mousetrap is necessary, but not sufficient, to make a functioning mousetrap. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p45.]

·      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. A mousetrap made of unsuitable materials would not meet the criterion of minimal function, but even complex machines that do what they are supposed to do may not be of much use. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p45.]

Part II: Examining the Contents of the Box

Chapter 3: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

·      As strange as it may seem, modern biochemistry has shown that the cell is operated by machines—literally, molecular machines. Like their man-made counterparts (such as mousetraps, bicycles, and space shuttles), molecular machines range from the simple to the enormously complex: mechanical, force-generating machines, like those in muscles; electronic machines, like those in nerves; and solar-powered machines, like those of photosynthesis. Of course, molecular machines are made primarily of proteins, not metal and plastic. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p51.]

·      Proteins are made by chemically hooking together amino acids into a chain. A protein chain typically has anywhere from about fifty to about one thousand amino acid links. Each position in the chain is occupied by one of twenty different amino acids. In this they are like words, which can come in various lengths but are made up from a set of just 26 letters. As a matter of fact, biochemists often refer to each amino acid by a single-letter abbreviation—G for glycine, S for serine, H for histidine, and so forth. Each different kind of amino acid has a different shape and different chemical properties. For example, W is large but A is small, R carries a positive charge but E carries a negative charge, S prefers to be dissolved in water but I prefers oil, and so on. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p52.]

·      In the past two decades, however, only two articles even attempted to suggest a model for the evolution of the cilium that takes into account real mechanical considerations. Worse, the two papers disagree with each other even about the general route such an evolution might take. Neither paper discusses crucial quantitative details, or possible problems that would quickly cause a mechanical device such as a cilium or a mousetrap to be useless. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68.]

·      The first paper, authored by T. Cavalier-Smith, appeared in 1978 in a journal called BioSystems.3 The paper does not try to present a realistic, quantitative model for even one step in the development of a cilium in a cell line originally lacking that structure. Instead it paints a picture of what the author imagines must have been significant events along the way to a cilium. [Cavalier-Smith, T. (1978) «The Evolutionary Origin and Phylogeny of Microtubules, Mitotic Spindles, and Eukaryote Flagella,» BioSystems, 10, 93-114.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68.]

·      The second paper, authored nine years later by a Hungarian scientist named Eörs Szathmary and also appearing in BioSystems, is similar in many ways to the first paper.4 Szathmary is an advocate of the idea, championed by Lynn Margulis, that cilia resulted when a type of swimming bacterium called a «spirochete» accidentally attached itself to a eukaryotic cell.5 The idea faces the considerable difficulty that spirochetes move by a mechanism (described later) that is totally different from that for cilia. The proposal that one evolved into the other is like a proposal that my daughter’s toy fish could be changed, step by Darwinian step, into a Mississippi steamboat. [4. Szathmary, E. (1987) «Early Evolution of Microtubules and Undulipodia,» BioSystems, 20, 115-131. 5. Bermudes, D., Margulis, L., and Tzertinis, G. (1986) «Prokaryotic Origin of Undulipodia,» Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 503, 187-197.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p68, 69.]

·      The amount of scientific research that has been and is being done on the cilium—and the great increase over the past few decades in our understanding of how the cilium works—lead many people to assume that even if they themselves don’t know how the cilium evolved, somebody must know. But a search of the professional literature proves them wrong. Nobody knows. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p69.]

·      Some bacteria boast a marvelous swimming device, the flagellum, which has no counterpart in more complex cells.8 In 1973 it was discovered that some bacteria swim by rotating their flagella. So the bacterial flagellum acts as a rotary propeller—in contrast to the cilium, which acts more like an oar. [A good general introduction to flagella can be found in Voet and Voet, pp. 1259-1260. Greater detail about the flagellar motor can be found in the following: Schuster, S. C., and Khan, S. (1994) «The Bacterial Flagellar Motor,» Annual Review of Biophysics and Biomolecular Structure, 23, 509-539; Caplan, S. R., and Kara-lvanov, M. (1993) «The Bacterial Flagellar Motor,» International Review of Cytology, 147, 97-164.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p70.]

·      The general professional literature on the bacterial flagellum is about as rich as the literature on the cilium, with thousands of papers published on the subject over the years. That isn’t surprising; the flagellum is a fascinating biophysical system, and flagellated bacteria are medically important. Yet here again, the evolutionary literature is totally missing. Even though we are told that all biology must be seen through the lens of evolution, no scientist has ever published a model to account for the gradual evolution of this extraordinary molecular machine. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p72.]

·      In summary, as biochemists have begun to examine apparently simple structures like cilia and flagella, they have discovered staggering complexity, with dozens or even hundreds of precisely tailored parts. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

·      As the number of required parts increases, the difficulty of gradually putting the system together skyrockets, and the likelihood of indirect scenarios plummets. Darwin looks more and more forlorn. New research on the roles of the auxiliary proteins cannot simplify the irreducibly complex system. The intransigence of the problem cannot be alleviated; it will only get worse. Darwinian theory has given no explanation for the cilium or flagellum. The overwhelming complexity of the swimming systems push us to think it may never give an explanation. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

·      As the number of systems that are resistant to gradualist explanation mounts, the need for a new kind of explanation grows more apparent. Cilia and flagella are far from the only problems for Darwinism. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p73.]

Chapter 4: Rube Goldberg in The Blood

·      Blood clot formation seems so familiar to us that most people don’t give it much thought. Biochemical investigation, however, has shown that 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 the proper time or at the proper place. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p78.]

·      Blood clotting is on autopilot, and blood clotting requires extreme precision. When a pressurized blood circulation system is punctured, a clot must form quickly or the animal will bleed to death. If blood congeals at the wrong time or place, though, then the clot may block circulation as it does in heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, a clot has to stop bleeding all along the length of the cut, sealing it completely. Yet blood clotting must be confined to the cut or the entire blood system of the animal might solidify, killing it. Consequently, the clotting of blood must be tightly controlled so that the clot forms only when and where it is required. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p78, 79.]

·      The function of the blood clotting system is to form a solid barrier at the right time and place that is able to stop blood flow out of an injured vessel. The components of the system (beyond the fork in the pathway) are fibrinogen, prothrombin, Stuart factor, and proaccelerin. Just as none of the parts of the Foghorn system is used for anything except controlling the fall of the telephone pole, so none of the cascade proteins are used for anything except controlling the formation of a blood clot. Yet in the absence of any one of the components, blood does not clot, and the system fails. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p86.]

·      The king of Siam once asked his wise men for a proverb that would be appropriate for any occasion. They suggested «This, too, shall pass.» Well, in biochemistry an equally appropriate saying for all occasions is «Things are more complicated than they seem.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p89.]

·      Remember, a mousetrap spring might in some way resemble a clock spring, and a crowbar might resemble a mousetrap hammer, but the similarities say nothing about how a mousetrap is produced. In order to claim that a system developed gradually by a Darwinian mechanism a person must show that the function of the system could «have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications.» [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p90.]

·      In this section I’ll reproduce an attempt at an evolutionary explanation of blood clotting offered by Rusell Doolittle. What he has done is to hypothesize a series of steps in which clotting proteins appear one after another. Yet, as I will show in the next section, the explanation is seriously inadequate because no reasons are given for the appearance of the proteins, no attempt is made to calculate the probability of the proteins’ appearance, and no attempt is made to estimate the new proteins’ properties. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p90, 91.]

·      To illustrate the problem, let’s do our own quick calculation. Consider that animals with blood-clotting cascades have roughly 10,000 genes, each of which is divided into an average of three pieces. This gives a total of about 30,000 gene pieces. TPA has four different types of domains.7 By «variously shuffling,» the odds of getting those four domains together 8 is 30,000 to the fourth power, which is approximately one-tenth to the eighteenth power.9 Now, if the Irish Sweepstakes had odds of winning of one-tenth to the eighteenth power, and if a million people played the lottery each year, it would take an average of about a thousand billion years before anyone (not just a particular person) won the lottery. A thousand billion years is roughly a hundred times the current estimate of the age of the universe. Doolittle’s casual language («spring forth,» etc.) conceals enormous difficulties. The same problem of ultra-slim odds would trouble the appearance of prothrombin («the result of a … protease gene duplication and … shuffling»), fibrinogen («a bastard protein derived from .. .»), plasminogen, proaccelerin, and each of the several proposed rearrangements of prothrombin. Doolittle apparently needs to shuffle and deal himself a number of perfect bridge hands to win the game. Unfortunately, the universe doesn’t have time to wait. [7. TPA has a total of five domains. Two domains, however, are of the same type. 8. The odds are not decreased if the domains are hooked together at different times—with domains 1 and 2 coming together in one event, then later on domain 3 joining them, and so on. Think of the odds of picking four black balls from a barrel containing black balls and white balls. If you take out four at once, or take two at the first grab and one apiece on the next two grabs, the odds of ending up with four black balls are the same. 9. This calculation is exceedingly generous. It only assumes that the four types of domains would have to be in the correct linear order. In order to work, however, the combination would have to be located in an active area of the genome, the correct signals for splicing together the parts would have to be in place, the amino acid sequences of the four domains would have to be compatible with each other, and other considerations would affect the outcome. These further considerations only make the event much more improbable.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p93, 94.]

·      Since two proteins—the proenzyme and its activator—are both required for one step in the pathway, then the odds of getting both the proteins together are roughly the square of the odds of getting one protein. We calculated the odds of getting TPA alone to be one-tenth to the eighteenth power; the odds of getting TPA and its activator together would be about one-tenth to the thirty-sixth power! That is a horrendously large number. Such an event would not be expected to happen even if the universe’s ten-billion year life were compressed into a single second and relived every second for ten billion years. But the situation is actually much worse: if a protein appeared in one step10 with nothing to do, then mutation and natural selection would tend to eliminate it. Since it is doing nothing critical, its loss would not be detrimental, and production of the gene and protein would cost energy that other animals aren’t spending. So producing the useless protein would, at least to some marginal degree, be detrimental. Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection would actually hinder the formation of irreducibly complex systems such as the clotting cascade. [10. It is good to keep in mind that a «step» could well be thousands of generations. A mutation must start in a single animal and then spread through the population. In order to do that, the descendants of the mutant animal must displace the descendants of all other animals.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p96.]

·      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 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. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p97.]

Chapter 5: From Here to There

·      Ernst Haeckel thought that a cell was a «homogeneous globule of protoplasm.» He was wrong; scientists have shown that cells are complex structures. In particular, eukaryotic cells (which include the cells of all organisms except bacteria) have many different compartments in which different tasks are performed. Just like a house has a kitchen, laundry room, bedroom, and bathroom, a cell has specialized areas partitioned off for discrete tasks. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p101, 102.]

·      The fictional space probe is so complicated it hasn’t been invented yet, even in a crude way. The authentic cellular system is already in place, and every second of every day, this process happens uncounted billions of time in your body. Science is stranger than fiction. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p108.]

·      Because gated transport requires a minimum of three separate components to function, it is irreducibly complex. And for this reason the putative gradual, Darwinian evolution of gated transport in the cell faces massive problems. If proteins contained no signal for transport, they would not be recognized. If there were no receptor to recognize a signal or no channel to pass through, again transport would not take place. And if the channel were open for all proteins, then the enclosed compartment would not be any different from the rest of the cell. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p109.]

·      Because vesicular transport requires several more componens than gated transport, it cannot develop gradually from gated transport. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p110.]

·      Irreducibly complex systems like mousetraps, Rube Goldberg machines, and the intracellular transport system cannot evolve in a Darwinian fashion. You can’t start with a platform, catch a few mice, add a spring, catch a few more mice, add a hammer, catch a few more mice, and so on: The whole system has to be put together at once or the mice get away. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p110, 111.]

·      Logging on to a computer database of the professional literature in the biomedical sciences allows you to do a quick search for key words in the titles of literally hundreds of thousands of papers. A search to see what titles have both evolution and vesicle in them comes up completely empty. Slogging through the literature the old-fashioned way turns up a few scattered papers that speculate on how gated transport between compartments of a eukaryotic cell might have developed.4 But all the papers assume that the transport systems came from preexisting bacterial transport systems that already had all the components that modern cells have. This does us no good. Although the speculations may have something to do with how transport systems could be duplicated, they have nothing to do with how the initial systems got there. At some point this complex machine had to come into existence, and it could not have done so in step-by-step fashion. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p114, 115.]

·      Vesicular transport is a mind-boggling process, no less complex than the completely automated delivery of vaccine from a storage area to a clinic a thousand miles away. Defects in vesicular transport can have the same deadly consequences as the failure to deliver a needed vaccine to a disease-racked city. An analysis shows that vesicular transport is irreducibly complex, and so its development staunchly resists gradualistic explanations, as Darwinian evolution would have it. A search of the professional biochemical literature and textbooks shows that no one has ever proposed a detailed route by which such a system could have come to be. In the face of the enormous complexity of vesicular transport, Darwinian theory is mute. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p115, 116.]

Chapter 6: A Dangerous World

·      Terrorism and war threaten us, but they happen infrequently. On a day-to-day basis more people are assaulted by muggers and mayhem in their neighborhood than by exotic groups or foreign countries. The streetwise city dweller will have bars on his window, use an intercom or peephole to see who is at the door, and carry a can of pepper spray when it’s time to walk the dog. In lands where such modern conveniences are unknown, stone or wooden walls can be built around the hut to keep out intruders (both two- and four-footed), and a spear is kept by the bed in case the wall is breached. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p118.]

·      A cell hopefully trying to evolve such a system in gradual Darwinian steps would be in a quandary. What should it do first? Secreting a little bit of antibody into the great outdoors is a waste of resources if there’s no way to tell if it’s doing any good. Ditto for making a membrane-bound antibody. And why make a messenger protein first if there is nobody to give it a message, and nobody to receive the message if it did get one? We are led inexorably to the conclusion that even this greatly simplified clonal selection could not have come about in gradual steps. Even at this simplified level, then, all three ingredients had to evolve simultaneously. Each of these three items—the fixed antibody, the messenger protein, and the loose antibodies—had to be produced by a separate historical event, perhaps by a coordinated series of mutations changing preexisting proteins that were doing other chores into the components of the antibody system. Darwin’s small steps have become a series of wildly unlikely leaps. Yet our analysis overlooked many complexities: How does the cell switch from putting the extra oily piece on the membrane to not putting it on? The message system then is fantastically more complicated than our simplified version. Ingestion of the protein, chopping it up, presenting it to the outside on an MHC protein, specific recognition of the МНС/fragment by a helper T cell, secretion of interleukin, binding of interleukin to the В cell, sending the signal that interleukin has bound into the nucleus— the prospect of devising a step-by-step pathway for the origin of the system is enough to make strong men blanch. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p125, 126.]

·      Antibodies are like toy darts: they harm no one. Like a «Condemned» sign posted on an old house or an orange «X» painted on a tree to be removed, antibodies are only signals to other systems to destroy the marked object. It is surprising to think that after the body has gone to all the trouble to develop a complex system to generate antibody diversity, and after it has laboriously picked a few cells by the roundabout process of clonal selection, it is still virtually helpless against the onslaught of invaders. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p131, 132.]

·      Like the blood-clotting pathway, the complement pathway is a cascade. Inevitably, in both cases one encounters the same problems trying to imagine their gradual production. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p135.]

·      The proper functioning of the immune system is a prerequisite for health. Major illnesses such as cancer and AIDS have either their cause or their cure, or both, in the vagaries of the system. Because of its impact on public health, the immune system is a subject of intense interest. Thousands of research laboratories around the world work on various aspects of the immune system. Their efforts have already saved many lives and promise to save many more in the future. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p136.]

·      Although great strides have been made in understanding how the immune system works, we remain ignorant of how it came to be. None of the questions raised in this chapter has been answered by any of the thousands of scientists in the field; few have even asked the questions. A search of the immunological literature shows ongoing work in comparative immunology (the study of immune systems from various species). But that work, valuable though it is, does not address in molecular detail the question of how immune systems originated. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p136.]

·      We can look high or we can look low, in books or in journals, but the result is the same. The scientific literature has no answers to the question of the origin of the immune system. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p138.]

·      In this chapter I have looked at three features of the immune system—clonal selection, antibody diversity, and the complement system—and demonstrated that each individually poses massive challenges to a putative step-by-step evolution. But showing that the parts can’t be built step by step only tells part of the story, because the parts interact with each other. Just as a car without steering, or a battery, or a carburetor isn’t going to do you much good, an animal that has a clonal selection system won’t get much benefit out of it if there is no way to generate antibody diversity. A large repertoire of antibodies won’t do much good if there is no system to kill invaders. A system to kill invaders won’t do much good if there’s no way to identify them. At each step we are stopped not only by local system problems, but also by requirements of the integrated system. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p138.]

·      Diversity, recognition, destruction, toleration—all these and more interact with each other. Whichever way we turn, a gradualistic account of the immune system is blocked by multiple interwoven requirements. As scientists we yearn to understand how this magnificent mechanism came to be, but the complexity of the system dooms all Darwinian explanations to frustration. Sisyphus himself would pity us. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p139.]

Chapter 7: Road Kill

·      A few textbooks mention this problem. The typical explanation is economically expressed by Thomas Creighton: How might the biochemical complexity of metabolic pathways have evolved? In the case of the biosynthetic pathways that produce the building blocks of amino acids, nucleotides, sugars, and so forth, it is likely that these building blocks were originally present in the primordial soup and were used directly. As organisms increased in number, however, these constituents would have become scarce. Any organism that could produce one of them from some unused component of the primordial soup, using a newly evolved enzyme, would have had a selective advantage. Once the availability of that component became limiting, there would have been selection for any organism that could produce it from some other component of the primordial soup. According to this scenario, the enzymes of metabolic pathways would have evolved in a sequence opposite to the one they have in the modern pathway. [Creighton, T. (1993) Proteins: Structure and Molecular Properties, W. H. Freeman and Co., New York, p. 131.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p151.]

·       

·      The ABCD story is an old idea that has been passed on unreflectively. It was first proposed in 1945 by N. H. Horowitz in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Horowitz sees the problem: Since natural selection cannot preserve nonfunctional characters, the most obvious implication of the facts would seem to be that a stepwise evolution of biosyntheses, by the selection of a single gene mutation at a time, is impossible. [Horowitz, N. H. (1945) «On the Evolution of Biochemical Syntheses,» Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 31, 153-157.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p154.]

·      Nowhere does he or any other researcher attach names of real chemicals to the mythical letters. Origin-of-life workers have never demonstrated that the intermediates in the synthesis of AMP either would have or even could have existed in a prebiotic soup, let alone sophisticated enzymes for interconverting the intermediates. There is no evidence that the letters exist anywhere outside of de Duve’s mind. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p155.]

·      Another restless scientist is Stuart Kauffman of the Santa Fe Institute. The complexity of the metabolism of living organisms makes him doubt that a step-by-step approach would work: In order to function at all, a metabolism must minimally be a connected series of catalyzed transformations leading from food to needed products. Conversely, however, without the connected web to maintain the flow of energy and products, how could there have been a living entity to evolve connected metabolic pathways? [Kauffman, S. (1993) The Origins of Order, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 344.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p155.]

·      Kauffman discusses his ideas in a chapter entitled «The Origin of a Connected Metabolism,» but if you read the chapter from start to finish you will not find the name of a single chemical—no AMP, no aspartic acid, no nothing. In fact, if you scan the entire subject index of the book, you will not find a chemical name there either. John Maynard Smith, Kauffman’s old mentor, has accused him of practicing «fact-free science.»16 That is a harsh accusation, but the complete lack of chemical details in his book appears to justify the criticism. [Smith, J. M. (1995) «Life at the Edge of Chaos?» New York Review, March 2, pp. 28-30.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

·      Kauffman and de Duve identify a real problem for gradualistic evolution. The solutions they propose, however, are merely variations on Horowitz’s old idea. Instead of ABCD, they simply propose ABCD times one hundred. Worse, as the number of imaginary letters increases, the tendency is to get further and further away from real chemistry and to get trapped in the mental world of mathematics. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

·      The story of King Midas teaches some obvious lessons: don’t be greedy, love is worth more than money, and so forth. But there is another, less obvious lesson about the importance of regulation. It is no enough to have a machine or process (magical or otherwise) that does something; you have to be able to turn it on or off as needed. If the king had wished for the golden touch and the ability to switch it on or off when he wanted, he could have transmuted a few rocks into gold nuggets but not zap his daughter. He could turn the plates to gold, but not the food. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p156.]

·      When the regulation of metabolism fails, the result is illness or death. An example is diabetes; the uptake of sugar into cells is slowed, even though sugar molecules that manage to get into cells are otherwise metabolized normally. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

·      The regulation of AMP biosynthesis is a good example of the intricate mechanisms needed to keep the supply of biomolecules at the right level: not too much, not too little, and in the right ratio with related molecules. The problem for Darwinian gradualism is that cells would have no reason to develop regulatory mechanisms before the appearance of a new catalyst. But the appearance of a new, unregulated pathway, far from being a boon, would look like a genetic disease to the organism. This goes in spades for fragile ancient cells, putatively developing step by step, that would have little room for error. Cells would be crushed between the Scylla of unavailability and the Charybdis of regulation. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

·      No one has a clue how the AMP pathway developed. Although a few researchers have observed that the pathway itself presents a severe challenge to gradualism, no one has written about the obstacle posed by the need to regulate a cell’s metabolic pathway immediately at its inception. Small wonder—no one wants to write about road kill. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p159.]

·      The detail was necessary so that the reader could understand exactly what the problems are. Because I spent a lot of time on those systems I didn’t have time to get on to other biochemical systems, but this does not imply that they are not also problems for Darwinism. Other examples of irreducible complexity abound, including aspects of DNA replication, electron transport, telomere synthesis, photosynthesis, transcription regulation, and more. The reader is encouraged to borrow a biochemistry textbook from the library and see how many problems for gradualism he or she can spot. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p160.]

·      In this chapter I wanted to show that it is not only irreducibly complex systems that are a problem for Darwinism. Even systems that at first glance appear amenable to a gradualistic approach turn out to be major headaches on closer inspection—or when the experimental results roll in—with no reason to expect they will be solved within a Darwinian framework. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p160.]

·      If there is a detailed Darwinian explanation for the production of AMP out there, no one knows what it is. Hard-nosed chemists have begun to drown their frustrations in mathematics. AMP is not the only metabolic dilemma for Darwin. The biosynthesis of the larger amino acids, lipids, vitamins, heme, and more run into the same problems, and there are difficulties beyond metabolism. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p161.]

Part III: What Does The Box Tell Us?

Chapter 8: Publish or Perish

·      Nonetheless, some scientists are interested in evolution and have published a large amount of work in the professional literature. If complex biochemical systems are unexplained, what type of biochemical work has been published under the heading of «evolution»? In this chapter you will see what has been studied—and what hasn’t. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p165.]

·      Each monthly issue of JME contains about ten scientific papers on various aspects of molecular evolution. Ten papers per month means about a hundred papers per year, and about a thousand papers per decade. A survey of a thousand papers in a particular area can give you a pretty good idea of what problems have been solved, what problems are being addressed, and what problems are being ignored. A look back over the last decade shows that the papers in JME can be divided pretty easily into three separate categories: chemical synthesis of molecules thought necessary for the origin of life, comparisons of DNA or protein sequences, and abstract mathematical models. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p166.]

·      The origin-of-life question is tremendously important and interesting. Biology must ultimately deal with the question: even if life evolves by natural selection acting on variation, how did life get there in the first place? Publications concerned with the chemical synthesis of molecules thought to be necessary for the origin of life constitute about 10 percent of all papers in JME. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p166.]

·       

·      In light of these well-publicized successes an outsider can be excused for feeling a sense of shock when he stumbles across pessimistic reviews of origin-of-life research in the professional literature, such as one written by Klaus Dose, a prominent worker in the field. In his assessment of the state of the problem, Dose pulls no punches. “More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.” [Dose, K. (1988) «The Origin of Life: More Questions than Answers,» Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 13, 348.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p168.]

·      A convincing origin-of-life scenario requires that intelligent direction of the chemical reactions be minimized as far as possible. Nonetheless, the involvement of some intelligence is unavoidable. Reasonable guesses about what substances were available on the early earth—such as Stanley Miller made—are a necessary starting point. The trick for the researcher is to choose a probable starting point, then keep his hands off. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p169.]

·      In his book reviewing the difficulties of origin-of-life theories, Robert Shapiro notes that work on proteinoids has produced a startling unanimity of opinion:”[The proteinoid theory] has attracted a number of vehement critics, ranging from chemist Stanley Miller … to Creationist Duane Gish. On perhaps no other point in origin-of-life theory could we find such harmony between evolutionists and Creationists as in opposing the relevance of the experiments of Sidney Fox” [Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books, New York, p. 192.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p170.]

·      Imagining a realistic scenario whereby natural processes may have made proteins on a prebiotic earth—although extremely difficult—is a walk in the park compared to imagining the formation of nucleic acids such as RNA. The big problem is that each nucleotide «building block» is itself built up from several components, and the processes that form the components are chemically incompatible. Although a chemist can make nucleotides with ease in a laboratory by synthesizing the components separately, purifying them, and then recombining the components to react with each other, undirected chemical reactions overwhelmingly produce undesired products and shapeless goop on the bottom of the test tube. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p171.]

·      Gerald Joyce and Leslie Orgel—two scientists who have worked long and hard on the origin of life problem—call RNA «the prebiotic chemist’s nightmare.» They are brutally frank: “Scientists interested in the origins of life seem to divide neatly into two classes. The first, usually but not always molecular biologists, believe that RNA must have been the first replicating molecule and that chemists are exaggerating the difficulties of nucleotide synthesis…. The second group of scientists are much more pessimistic. They believe that the de novo appearance of oligonucleotides on the primitive earth would have been a near miracle. (The authors subscribe to this latter view). Time will tell which is correct” [Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books, New York, p. 192.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p171.]

·      Even if the miracle-like coincidence should occur and RNA be produced, however, Joyce and Orgel see nothing but obstacles ahead. In an article section entitled «Another Chicken-and-Egg Paradox» they write the following: “This discussion … has, in a sense, focused on a straw man: the myth of a self-replicating RNA molecule that arose de novo from a soup of random polynucleotides. Not only is such a notion unrealistic in light of our current understanding of prebiotic chemistry, but it should strain the credulity of even an optimist’s view of RNA’s catalytic potential…Without evolution it appears unlikely that a self-replicating ribozyme could arise, but without some form of self-replication there is no way to conduct an evolutionary search for the first, primitive self-replicating ribozyme.” .] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p171, 172.]

·      In other words, the miracle that produced chemically intact RNA would not be enough. Since the vast majority of RNAs do not have useful catalytic properties, a second miraculous coincidence would be needed to get just the right chemically intact RNA. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p172.]

·      Scientists working on the origin of life deserve a lot of credit; they have attacked the problem by experiment and calculation, as science should. And although the experiments have not turned out as many hoped, through their efforts we now have a clear idea of the staggering difficulties that would face an origin of life by natural chemical processes. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p172.]

·      In private many scientists admit that science has no explanation for the beginning of life. [Although many statements within the scientific community’s own journals and books are pessimistic, public statements to the news media tend to be of the everything-is-under-control variety. University of Memphis rhetorician John Angus Campbell has observed that «huge edifices of ideas—such as positivism—never really die. Thinking people gradually abandon them and even ridicule them among themselves, but keep the persuasively useful parts to scare away the uninformed.» Campbell, J. A. (1994) «The Comic Frame and the Rhetoric of Science: Epistemology and Ethics in Darwin’s Origin,» Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 24, 27-50. This certainly applies to the way the scientific community handles questions on the origin of life.]  [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p172, 173.]

·      The reason for this peculiar circumstance is that while chemists try to test origin-of-life scenarios by experiment or calculation, evolutionary biologists make no attempt to test evolutionary scenarios at the molecular level by experiment or calculation. As a result, evolutionary biology is stuck in the same frame of mind that dominated origin-of-life studies in the early fifties, before most experiments had been done: imagination running wild. Biochemistry has, in fact, revealed a molecular world that stoutly resists explanation by the same theory so long applied at the level of the whole organism. Neither of Darwin’s starting points—the origin of life, and the origin of vision—has been accounted for by his theory. Darwin never imagined the exquisitely profound complexity that exists even at the most basic levels of life. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p173.]

·      The second category of papers commonly found in the Journal of Molecular Evolution, accounting for about 5 percent of the total, concerns Mathematical models for evolution or new mathematical methods for comparing and interpreting sequence data. (…) Although useful for understanding how gradual processes behave over time, the mathematics assumes that real-world evolution is a gradual random process; it does not (and cannot) demonstrate it. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p173, 174.]

·      Although useful for determining possible lines of descent, which is an interesting question in its own right, comparing sequences cannot show how a complex biochemical system achieved its function—the question that most concerns us in this book.18 By way of analogy, the instruction manuals for two different models of computer put out by the same company might have many identical words, sentences, and even paragraphs, suggesting a common ancestry (perhaps the same author wrote both manuals), but comparing the sequences of letters in the instruction manuals will never tell us if a computer can be produced step-by-step starting from a typewriter. [18. Indeed, some proteins we have discussed in this book have sequences or shapes similar to other proteins. For example, antibodies are shaped similarly to a protein called superoxide dismutase, which helps protect the cell against damage by oxygen. And rhodopsin, which is used in vision, is similar to a protein found in bacteria, called bacteriorhodopsin, which is involved in the production of energy.  Nonetheless, the similarities tell us nothing about how vision or the immune system could develop step-by-step. One would have hoped that finding proteins with similar sequences would lead to the proposal of models for how complex biochemical systems might have developed. Conversely, the fact that such sequence comparisons do not help us understand the origins of complex biochemical systems weighs heavily against a theory of gradual evolution.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p175.]

·      The three general topics of papers published in JME—the origin of life, mathematical models of evolution, and sequence analyses—have included many intricate, difficult, and erudite studies. Does such valuable and interesting work contradict this book’s message? Not at all. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p175.]

·      To say that Darwinian evolution cannot explain everything in nature is not say that evolution, random mutation, and natural selection do not occur; they have been observed (at least in cases of microevolution) many different times. Like the sequence analysts, I believe the evidence strongly supports common descent. But the root question remains unanswered: What has caused complex systems to form? No one has ever explained in detailed, scientific fashion how mutation and natural selection could build the complex, intricate structures discussed in this book. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p175, 176.]

·      In fact, none of the papers published in JME over the entire course of its life as a journal has ever proposed a detailed model by which a complex biochemical system might have been produced in a gradual, step-by-step Darwinian fashion. Although many scientists ask how sequences can change or how chemicals necessary for life might be produced in the absence of cells, no one has ever asked in the pages of JME such questions as the following: How did the photosynthetic reaction center develop? How did intramolecular transport start? How did cholesterol biosynthesis begin? How did retinal become involved in vision? How did phosphoprotein signaling pathways develop? The very fact that none of these problems is even addressed, let alone solved, is a very strong indication that Darwinism is an inadequate framework for understanding the origin of complex biochemical systems. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p176.]

·      Attempts to explain the evolution of highly specified, irreducibly complex systems—either mousetraps or cilia or blood clotting—by a gradualism: route have so far been incoherent as we have seen in previous chapters. No scientific journal will publish patently incoherent papers, so no studies asking detailed questions of molecular evolution are to be found. Calvin and Hobbes stories can sometimes be spun by ignoring critical details, as Russell Doolittle did when imagining the evolution of blood clotting, but even such superficial attempts are rare. In fact, evolutionary explanations even of systems that do not appear to be irreducibly complex, such as specific metabolic pathways, are missing from the literature. The reason for this appears to be similar to the reason for the failure to explain the origin of life: a choking complexity strangles all such attempts. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p177.]

·      No papers were published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) that proposed detailed routes by which complex biochemical structures might have developed. Surveys of other biochemistry journals show the same result: sequences upon sequences, but no explanations. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178.]

·      The advantage of a book is that it gives the author a lot of room to develop his or her ideas. Setting a new idea in context, bringing in appropriate examples, explaining a lot of detailed steps, meeting many anticipated objections—all of this can take a fair amount of space. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178.]

·      A good example in the modern evolution literature is a book called The Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution by Motoo Kimura.20 In the book he had the room to explain his idea that most sequence changes that occur in DNA and proteins do not affect the way they do their jobs; the mutations are neutral. [Kimura, M. (1983) The Neutral Theory of Evolution, Cambridge University Press, New York.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178.]

·      A second example is The Origins of Order by Stuart Kauffman, who argues that the origins of life, metabolism, genetic programs, and body plans are all beyond Darwinian explanation but may arise spontaneously through self-organization.21 [Kauffman, S. A. (1993) The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution, Oxford University Press, New York.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178.]

·      Neither book explains biochemical structures: Kimura’s work has to do simply with sequences, and Kauffman’s is a mathematical analysis. But perhaps in one of the libraries of the world there is a book that tells us how specific biochemical structures came to be. Unfortunately, a computer search of library catalogs shows there is no such book. That isn’t too surprising in this day and age; even books like Kimura’s and Kauffman’s that propose new theories are usually preceded by papers on the topic that are first published in scientific journals. The absence of papers on the evolution of biochemical structures in the journals just about kills any chance of there being a book published on the matter. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178.]

·      During a computer search for books on biochemical evolution, you come across a number of juicy titles. For example, a book by John Gillespie was published in 1991 with the enticing name The Causes of Molecular Evolution. But it does not concern specific biochemical systems. It is, like Kauffmans, a mathematical analysis that leaves out all of the specific features of organisms, reducing them to mathematical symbols and then manipulating the symbols. Nature is blanched. (I should add that, of course, mathematics is an extremely powerful tool. But math is useful to science only when the assumptions the mathematical analysis starts with are true.) [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p178, 179.]

·      The search can be extended, but the results are the same. There has never been a meeting, or a book, or a paper on details of the evolution of complex biochemical systems. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p179.]

·      Many scientists are skeptical that Darwinian mechanisms can explain all of life, but a large number do believe it. Since we have just seen that the professional biochemical literature contains no papers or books that explain in detail how complex systems might have arisen, why is Darwinism nonetheless credible with many biochemists? A large part of the answer is that they have been taught as part of their biochemical training that Darwinism is true. To understand both the success of Darwinism as orthodoxy and its failure as science at the molecular level, we have to examine the textbooks that are used to teach aspiring scientists. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p179, 180.]

·      One of the most successful texts of biochemistry over the past several decades was first written in 1970 by Albert Lehninger, a professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, and has been updated several times over the years. On the first page of the first chapter of his first textbook, Lehninger mentions evolution. He asks why the biomolecules that occur in virtually all cells appear to be extraordinarily well fitted to their tasks: In this chapter, the first in a series of 12 devoted to the structures and properties of the major classes of biomolecules, we shall develop the idea that biomolecules should be studied from two points of view. We must of course examine their structure and properties as we would those of nonbiological molecules, by the principles and approaches used in classical chemistry. But we must also examine them in the light of the hypothesis that biomolecules are the products of evolutionary selection, that they may be the fittest possible molecules for their biological function.24 [Lehninger, A. L. (1970) Biochemistry, Worth Publishers, New York, p. 17.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p180.]

·      In all, there are nearly 6,000 entries in the index, but only 2 under the heading of «evolution.» The first citation is in a discussion of the sequences of proteins; as discussed earlier, however, although sequence data can be used to infer relationships, they cannot be used to determine how a complex biochemical structure originated. Lehninger’s second reference is to a chapter on the origin of life in which he discusses proteinoids and other topics that have not stood the test of time. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p180, 181.]

·      The extra references to evolution in the newest edition of the Lehninger text can all be fit into three categories: sequence similarity, comments on the ancestry of cells, and pious but unsupported attributions of a feature to evolution. But none of these, even in principle, can tell us how molecular machinery arose step by step. In no instance is a detailed route given by which any complex biochemical system might have arisen in a Darwinian manner. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p181, 182.]

·      A survey of thirty biochemistry textbooks (summarized in Table 8—1) used in major universities over the past generation shows that many textbooks ignore evolution completely. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p182.]

·      Many students learn from their textbooks how to view the world through an evolutionary lens. However, they do not learn how Darwinian evolution might have produced any of the remarkably intricate biochemical systems that those texts describe. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p183.]

·      The first way to know something is, of course, through personal experience. (…) The second way to know things is by authority. That is, you rely on some source of information, believing it to be reliable, when you have no experience of your own. So almost every person who has gone to school believes that the earth goes around the sun, even though very few people would be able to tell you how anybody could even detect that motion. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p184.]

·      Many people believe democracy is superior to other forms of government even though they haven’t lived under any other type. They rely on the authority of textbooks and politicians, and perhaps on verbal or pictorial descriptions of what it’s like in other societies. Of course other societies do the same, and most of their defenders rely on authority. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p184.]

·      Scientists are people, too, so we can ask how scientists know what they say they know. Like everybody else, scientists know things either through their own experience or through authority. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p185.]



 

·      In the 1950s, Watson and Crick saw a diffraction pattern produced by shining X-rays on fibers of DNA and, using their mathematical abilities, determined that DNA was a double helix. They knew by doing, from their own experience. As an undergraduate I learned DNA is a double helix, but I have never done an experiment to show it; I rely on authority. All scientists rely on authority for almost all of their scientific knowledge. If you ask a scientist how she knows about the structure of cholesterol, or the behavior of hemoglobin, or the role of vitamins, she will almost always point you to the scientific literature rather than to her own records of what she has done in her laboratory. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p185.]

·      The nice thing about science is that authority is easy to locate: it’s in the library. Watson and Crick’s work on DNA structure can be tracked down and read in Nature. The structure of cholesterol and other things can be found there as well. So we can say we know the structure of DNA or cholesterol based on scientific authority if papers on those topics are in the literature. If James Watson or a Presidential Science Commission decreed that DNA was made of green cheese, however, but didn’t publish supporting evidence in the literature, then we could not say that a belief in cheesy DNA was based on scientific authority. Scientific authority rests on published work, not on the musings of individuals. Moreover, the published work must also contain pertinent evidence. If Watson published a bare statement about the curdled composition of DNA in a paper largely devoted to something else, but provided no relevant support, then we still have no scientific authority to back up the claim. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p185.]

·      Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations. Since no one knows molecular evolution by direct experience, since there is no authority on which to base claims of knowledge, it can truly be said that … the assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p185, 186.]

·      «Publish or perish» is a proverb that academicians take seriously. If you do not publish your work for the rest of the community to evaluate, then you have no business in academia (and if you don’t already have tenure, you will be banished). But the saying can be applied to theories as well. If a theory claims to be able to explain some phenomenon but does not generate even an attempt at an explanation, then it should be banished. Despite comparing sequences and mathematical modeling, molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be. In effect, the theory of Darwinian molecular evolution has not published, and so it should perish. But we are here. Plants and animals are here. The complex systems are here. All these things got here somehow: if not in a Darwinian fashion, then how? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p186.]

Chapter 9: Intelligent Design

·      No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel prize winner—no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion. But we are here. Plants and animals are here. The complex systems are here. All these things got here somehow: if not in a Darwinian fashion, then how? [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p187.]

·      Clearly, if something was not put together gradually, then it must have been put together quickly or even suddenly. If adding individual pieces does not continuously improve the function of a system, then multiple pieces have to be added together. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p187.]

·      For purposes of argument, however, let’s suppose that the symbiosis Margulis envisions was in fact a common occurrence throughout the history of life. The important question for us biochemists is, can symbiosis explain the origin of complex biochemical systems? Clearly it cannot. The essence of symbiosis is the joining of two separate cells, or two separate systems, both of which are already functioning. In the mitochondrion scenario, one preexisting viable cell entered a symbiotic relationship with another such cell. Neither Margulis nor anyone else has offered a detailed explanation of how the preexisting cells originated. Proponents of the symbiotic theory of mitochondria explicitly assume that the invading cells could already produce energy from foodstuffs; they explicitly assume that the host cell already was able to maintain a stable internal environment that would benefit the symbiont. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p189.]

·      Because symbiosis starts with complex, already-functioning systems, it cannot account for the fundamental biochemical systems we have discussed in this book. Symbiosis theory may have important points to make about the development of life on earth, but it cannot explain the ultimate origins of complex systems. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p189.]

·      For the sake of argument, however, let us suppose that complexity theory is true—that complex mixtures somehow organized themselves, and that had something to do with the origin of life. Granted its premises, can complexity theory explain the complex biochemical systems we have discussed in this book? I don’t believe so. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p191.]

·      Complexity theory may yet make important contributions to mathematics, and it may still make modest contributions to biochemistry. But it cannot explain the origin of the complex biochemical structures that undergird life. It doesn’t even try. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p192.]

·      They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather, they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about. Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p193.]

·      The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs. Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day. Nonetheless, saying that biochemical systems were designed will certainly strike many people as strange, so let me try to make it sound less strange. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p193.]

·      What is «design»? Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts. With such a broad definition we can see that anything might have been designed. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p193.]

·      The scientific problem then becomes, how do we confidently detect design? When is it reasonable to conclude, in the absence of firsthand knowledge or eyewitness accounts, that something has been designed? For discrete physical systems—if there is not a gradual route to their production—design is evident when a number of separate, interacting components are ordered in such a way as to accomplish a function beyond the individual components.3 The greater the specificity of the interacting components required to produce the function, the greater is our confidence in the conclusion of design. [Detecting design in patterns of coin flips or other systems that do not physically interact is done in other ways. See Dembski, W. (1996) The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance Through Small Probabilities, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p194.]

·      In considering design, the function of the system we must look at is the one that requires the greatest amount of the system’s internal complexity. We can then judge how well the parts fit the function.4 [This is a judgment call. One can never prove that a particular function is the only one that might be intended—or even that it is intended. But our evidence can get pretty persuasive nonetheless.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p196.]

·      Inferences to design do not require that we have a candidal role of designer. We can determine that a system was designed by examining the system itself, and we can hold the conviction of design much more strongly than a conviction about the identity of the designer. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p196.]

·      The inference to design can be made with a high degree of confidence even when the designer is very remote. Archeologists digging for a lost city might come across square stones, buried dozens of feet under the earth, with pictures of camels and cats, griffins and dragons. Even if that were all they found, they would conclude that the stones had been designed. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p197.]

·      The conclusion that something was designed can be made quite independently of knowledge of the designer. As a matter of procedure, thе design must first be apprehended before there can be any further question about the designer. The inference to design can be held with the firmness that is possible in this world, without knowing anything about the designer. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p197.]

·      Anyone can tell that Mt. Rushmore was designed—but, as the king of Siam often said, this too shall pass. As time marches and rains fall and winds gust, Mt. Rushmore will change its shape. Millennia in the future, people may pass the mountain and see just the barest hint of faces in the rocks. Could a person conclude that an eroded Mt. Rushmore had been designed? It depends. The inference to design requires the identification of separate components that have been ordered to accomplish a purpose, and the strength of the inference is not an easy matter to quantify. An eroded Mt. Rushmore might give future archeologists fits if they could only see what looked like an ear, a nose, a bottom lip, and maybe a chin, each from a different presidential image. The parts really aren’t ordered to each other and might be simply an unusual rock formation. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p198.]

·      As the number and quality of the components that fit together to form the system increases, we can be more and more confident of the conclusion of design. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p198.]

·      As the number or quality of the parts of an interacting system increase, our judgment of design increases also and can reach certitude. It is hard to quantify these things.5 But it is easy to conclude that a system of such detail as the completed bacterial Elvis was designed. [It is hard to quantify design, but it is not impossible, and future research should proceed in this direction. An excellent start has been made by Bill Dembski in his dissertation (Dembski, 1996), which attempts to quantify the design inference in terms of what he calls the «probabilistic resources» of a system.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p199.]

·      The new protein is the product of intelligent design. Someone with knowledge of the blood-clotting system sat down at his desk and sketched out a route to produce a protein that would combine the clot-dissolving properties of plasmin with the rapid-activation property of proteins that are cleaved by thrombin. The designer knew what the end product of his work was going to do, and he worked to achieve that goal. After the plan was drawn up, the designer (or his graduate student) went into the laboratory and took steps to carry out the plan. The result is a protein that no one in the world has ever seen before— a protein that will carry out the plan of the designer. Biochemical systems can indeed be designed. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p201.]

·      The fact that biochemical systems can be designed by intelligent agents for their own purposes is conceded by all scientists, even Richard Dawkins. In his newest book Dawkins envisions a hypothetical scenario where a leading scientist is kidnaped and forced to work on biological weapons for an evil, militaristic country.10 The scientist gets help by encoding a message in the DNA sequence of an influenza virus: he infects himself with the altered virus, sneezes on a crowd of people, and patiently waits for the flu to spread around the world, confident that other scientists will isolate the virus, sequence its DNA, and decipher his code. Since Dawkins agrees that biochemical systems can be designed, and that people who did not see or hear about the designing can nonetheless detect it, then the question of whether a given biochemical system was designed boils down simply to adducing evidence to support design. [Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden, Basic Books, New York, pp. 17-18.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p203.]

·      Throughout this book, however, I have shown why many biochemical systems cannot be built up by natural selection working on mutations: no direct, gradual route exists to these irreducibly complex systems, and the laws of chemistry work strongly against the undirected development of the biochemical systems that make molecules such as AMP. Alternatives to gradualism that work through unintelligent causes, such as symbiosis and complexity theory, cannot (and do not even try to) explain the fundamental biochemical machines of life. If natural laws peculiar to life cannot explain a biological system, then the criteria for concluding design become the same as for inanimate systems. There is no magic point of irreducible complexity at which Darwinism is logically impossible. But the hurdles for gradualism become higher and higher as structures are more complex, more interdependent. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p203.]

·      In the face of the massive evidence we do have for biochemical design, ignoring that evidence in the name of a phantom process would be to play the role of the detectives who ignore an elephant. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p204.]

·      Just because we can infer that some biochemical systems were designed does not mean that all subcellular systems were explicitly designed. Further, some systems may have been designed, but proving their design may be difficult. (…) Detecting design in the cilium might be a piece of cake, but design in another system might be borderline or undetectable. It turns out that the cell contains systems that span the range from obviously designed to no apparent design. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p205.]

·      Since anything could have been designed, and since we need to adduce evidence to show design, it is not surprising that we can be more successful in demonstrating design with one biochemical system and less successful with another. Some features of the cell appear to be the result of simple natural processes, others probably so. Still other features were almost certainly designed. And with some features, we can be as confident that they were designed as that anything was. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p205.]

Chapter 10: Questions About Design

·      The early Greek philosopher Diogenes saw design in the regularity of the seasons: “Such a distribution would not have been possible without Intelligence, that all things should have their measure: winter and summer and night and day and rain and winds and periods of fine weather; other things also, if one will study them closely, will be found to have the best possible arrangement.” [Cited in Barrow, J. D., and Tipler, F.J. (1986) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 36.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p210.]

·      Socrates is said to have observed:”Is it not to be admired … that the mouth through which the food is conveyed should be placed so near the nose and eyes as to prevent the passage unnoticed of whatever is unfit for nourishment? And cans’t thou still doubt, Aristodemus, whether a disposition of parts like this should be the work of chance, or of wisdom and contrivance.” [Cited in Barrow, J. D., and Tipler, F.J. (1986) The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 36.]  [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p211.]

·      Arguments to design based on the bare assertion of their «rightness» evaporate like the morning dew when faced with the least skepticism. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p211.]

·      Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watch-maker takes its title from Paley’s watch analogy but claims that evolution, rather than an intelligent agent, plays the role of the watchmaker: Paley drives his point home with beautiful and reverent descriptions of the dissected machinery of life, beginning with the human eye… Paley’s argument is made with passionate sincerity and is informed by the best biological scholarship of his day, but it is wrong, gloriously and utterly wrong…If [natural selection] can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker. . . . But one thing I shall not do is belittle the wonder of the living «watches» that so inspired Paley. On the contrary, I shall try to illustrate my feeling that here Paley could have gone even further.4 [Dawkins, R. (1985) The Blind Watchmaker, W. W. Norton, London, p. 5.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p213.]

·      But exactly where, we may ask, was Paley refuted? Who has answered his argument? How was the watch produced without an intelligent designer? It is surprising but true that the main argument of the discredited Paley has actually never been refuted. Neither Darwin nor Dawkins, neither science nor philosophy, has explained how an irreducibly complex system such as a watch might be produced without a designer. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p213.]

·      Paley is at his best when writing about mechanical systems. Concerning the heart, he observes as follows: “It is evident that it must require the interposition of valves—that the success indeed of its action must depend upon these; for when any one of its cavities contracts, the necessary tendency of the force will be to drive the enclosed blood not only into the mouth of the artery where it ought to go, but also back again into the mouth of the vein from which it flowed… The heart, constituted as it is, can no more work without valves that a pump can” [Paley, W. Natural Theology, American Tract Society, New York, pp. 110-111.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p214.]

·      To be charitable, Paley may have thought that his strong examples made design inevitable, and he used the weak examples as icing on the cake. He likely didn’t anticipate that later opponents would refute his argument by attacking the icing. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p215.]

·      The philosopher David Hume argued against design in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, published in 1779. In The Blind Watchmaker Richard Dawkins recalls a dinner conversation with «a well-known atheist» that touched on the subject: I said that I could not imagine being an atheist at any time before 1859, when Darwin’s Origin of Species was published. ‘What about Hume?’, replied the philosopher. «How did Hume explain the organized complexity of the living world?» I asked. «He didn’t,» said the philosopher. «Why does it need any special explanation?»9 [Dawkins, R. (1985) The Blind Watchmaker, W. W. Norton, London, p. 5.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p217.]

·      Dawkins goes on to explain: As for David Hume himself, it is sometimes said that that great Scottish philosopher disposed of the Argument from Design a century before Darwin. But what Hume did was criticize the logic of using apparent design in nature as positive evidence for the existence of a God. He did not offer an alternative explanation for complex biological design.10 [Dawkins, R. (1985) The Blind Watchmaker, W. W. Norton, London, p. 6.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p217.]

·      A modern philosopher, Elliott Sober of the University of Wisconsin, in his book Philosophy of Biology, explains Hume’s reasoning for us in more detail: Hume believes … we must ask how similar watches and organisms really are. A moment’s reflection shows that they are very dissimilar. Watches are made of glass and metal; they do not breathe, excrete, metabolize, or reproduce… The immediate consequence, of course, is that the design argument is a very weak analogy argument. It is preposterous to infer that organisms have a given property simply because watches happen to have it.11 [Sober, E. (1993) Philosophy of Biology, Westview Press, Boulder, Co, p. 34.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p217.]

·      But Sober does not agree with Hume: Although Hume’s criticism is devastating if the design argument is an argument from analogy, I see no reason why the design argument must be construed in this way. Paley’s argument about organisms stands on its own, regardless of whether watches and organisms happen to be similar. The point of talking about watches is to help the reader see that the argument about organisms is compelling.12 [Sober, E. (1993) Philosophy of Biology, Westview Press, Boulder, Co, p. 34-35.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p217.]

·      Incidentally, even by Hume’s criteria, the analogy between а watch and a living organism could be made very strong. Modern biochemistry probably could make a watch, or a time-keeping device, out of biological materials—if not now, then certainly in the near future. Many biochemical systems keep time, including the cells that pace the heart, the system that initiates puberty, and the proteins that tell the cell when to divide. Moreover, biochemical components are known that can act as gears and flexible chains, and feedback mechanisms (which are necessary to regulate a watch) are common in biochemistry. Hume’s criticism of the design argument that asserts a fundamental difference between mechanical systems and living systems is out of date, destroyed by the advance of science which has discovered the machinery of life. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p218.]

·      Sober continues his analysis of Hume: I now turn to Hume’s second criticism of the design argument, which is no more successful than the first. . . . [Hume] contends that if we are to have good reason to think that the organisms in our world are the products of intelligent design, then we must have looked at lots of other worlds and observed intelligent designers producing organisms there.13 [Sober, E. (1993) Philosophy of Biology, Westview Press, Boulder, Co, p. 35.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p218, 219.]

·      Although Hume’s objection to the inductive argument might have been valid in his day, it has been destroyed by the advance of science. Modern biochemistry routinely designs biochemical systems, which are now known to be the basis of life. Therefore we do have experience in observing the intelligent design of components of life. There have probably been tens of thousands of experiments in which new biochemical systems were put together, and in the future there will be many, many more. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p219.]

·      The fatal problems with the analogy are not difficult to see. It was amusingly skewered by Robert Shapiro, a professor of chemistry at New York University, in his book Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Origin of life, which was published seven years before Sober s book.15 The fact that a distinguished philosopher overlooks simple logical problems that are easily seen by a chemist suggests that a sabbatical visit to a biochemistry laboratory might be in order. [Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. Summit Books, New York, pp. 179-180.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p221.]

·      The argument has been echoed by prominent scientists and philosophers, but it is particularly well presented by Kennet Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University : Another way to respond to the theory of intelligent design is to carefully examine complex biological systems for errors that no intelligent designer would have committed. Because intelligent design works from a clean, sheet of paper, it should produce organisms that have been optimally designed for the tasks they perform. Conversely, because evolution is confined to modifying existing structures, it should not necessarily perfection. Which is it? The eye, that supposed paragon of intelligent design, offers an answer. We have already sung the virtues of this extraordinary organ, but we have not considered specific aspects of its design, such as the neural wiring of its light-sensing units. These photoreceptor cells, located in the retina, pass impulses to a series of interconnecting cells that eventually pass information to the cells of the optic nerve, which leads to the brain. An intelligent designer, working with the components of this wiring, would choose the orientation that produces the highest degree of visual quality. No one, for example, would suggest that the neural connections should be placed in front of the photoreceptor cells—thus blocking the light from reaching them—rather than behind the retina. Incredibly, this is exactly how the human retina is constructed… A more serious flaw occurs because the neural wiring must poke directly through the wall of the retina to carry the nerve impulses produced by photoreceptor cells to the brain. The result is a blind spot in the retina—a region where thousands of impulse-carrying cells have pushed the sensory cells aside…. None of this should be taken to suggest that the eye functions poorly. It is a superb visual instrument that serves us exceedingly well… The key to the intelligent design theory … is not whether an organ or system works well but whether its basic structural plan is the obvious product of design. The structural plan of the eye is not.16 [Miller, K. R. (1994) «Life’s Grand Design,» Technology Review February/ March, pp. 29-30.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p222, 223.]

·      Miller elegantly expresses a basic confusion; the key to intelligent-design theory is not whether a «basic structural plan is the obvious product of design.» The conclusion of intelligent design for physically interacting systems rests on the observation of highly specified, irreducible complexity—the ordering of separate, well-fitted components to achieve a function that is beyond any of the components themselves. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p223.]

·      The most basic problem is that the argument demands perfection at all. Clearly, designers who have the ability to make better designs do not necessarily do so. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p223.]

·      The argument from imperfection overlooks the possibility that the designer might have multiple motives, with engineering excellence oftentimes relegated to a secondary role. Most people throughout history have thought that life was designed despite sickness, death, and other obvious imperfections. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p223.]

·      In discussing why aliens on other planets might build artificial structures that we could observe from earth, the physicist Freeman Dyson wrote: I do not need to discuss questions of motivation, who would want to do these things or why. Why does the human species explode hydrogen bombs or send rockets to the moon? It is difficult to say exactly why.17 [Dyson, J. F. (1966) «The Search for Extraterrestrial Technology» in Perspectives in Modem Physics, ed. R. E. Marshak, John Wiley and Sons, New York, pp. 643-644.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p224.]

·      When considering whether aliens would try to seed other planets with life, Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel wrote: The psychology of extraterrestrial societies is no better understood than terrestrial psychology. It is entirely possible that extraterrestrial societies might infect other planets for quite different reasons than those we have suggested.18 [Crick, F. H. C., and Orgel, L. E. (1973) «Directed Panspermia,» Icarus, 19, 344.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p224.]

·      In their writings, these authors correctly concluded that design could be detected in the absence of information about the designer’s motives. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p224.]

·      The next problem is that proponents of the argument from imperfection frequently use their psychological evaluation of the designer as positive evidence for undirected evolution. The reasoning can be written as a syllogism: 1. A designer would have made the vertebrate eye without a blind spot. 2. The vertebrate eye has a blind spot. 3. Therefore Darwinian evolution produced the eye. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p224.]

·      The scientific literature contains no evidence that natural selection working on mutation can produce either an eye with a blind spot, an eye without a blind spot, an eyelid, a lens, a retina, rhodopsin, or retinal. The debater has reached his conclusion in favor of Darwinism based solely on an emotional feeling of the way things ought to be. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p224.]

·      This argument is unconvincing for three reasons. First, because we have not yet discovered a use for a structure does not mean that no use exists. The tonsils were once considered to be useless organs, but an important function in immunity has been discovered for them. (…) This point also applies on the molecular scale (…) The point here is that Miller’s assertion rests on assumptions only. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p226.]

·      The second reason why Miller’s argument fails to persuade is that even if pseudogenes have no function, evolution has «explained» nothing about how pseudogenes arose. In order to make even a pseudo-copy of a gene, a dozen sophisticated proteins are required: to pry apart the two DNA strands, to align the copying machinery at the right place, to stitch the nucleotides together into a string, to insert the pseudocopy back into the DNA, and much more. In his article Miller has not told us how any of these functions might have arisen in a Darwinian step-by-step process, nor has he pointed to articles in the scientific literature where we can find the information. He can’t do that, because the information is nowhere to be found. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p226.]

·      Futuyma never explains how a real pelvis or eye developed in the first place, so as to be able to give rise to a vestigial organ later on, yet both the functioning organ and the vestigial organ require explanation. I do not purport to understand everything about design or evolution—far from it; I just cannot ignore the evidence for design. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p226.]

·      Additionally, suppose the designer placed into the cell some other systems for which, we cannot adduce enough evidence to conclude design. The cell containing the designed systems then was left on autopilot to reproduce, mutate, eat and be eaten, bump against rocks, and suffer all the vagaries of life on earth. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p228.]

·      The production of some biological improvements by mutation and natural selection—by evolution—is quite compatible with intelligent design theory. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p228.]

·      Design theory has nothing to say about a biochemical or biological system unless all the components of the system are known and it is demonstrated that the system is composed of several interacting parts. Intelligent-design theory can coexist quite peacefully with the panda’s thumb. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p229.]

·      Similarly, evolutionary biologists have recognized that a number of factors might have affected the development of life: common descent, natural selection, migration, population size, founder effects (effects that may be due to the limited number of organisms that begin a new species), genetic drift (the spread of «neutral,» nonselective mutations), gene flow (the incorporation of genes into a population from a separate population), linkage (occurrence of two genes on the same chromosome), meiotic drive (the preferential selection during sex cell production of one of the two copies of a gene inherited from an organism’s parents), transposition (the transfer of a gene between widely separated species by nonsexual means), and much more. The fact that some biochemical systems may have been designed by an intelligent agent does not mean that any of the other factors are not operative, common, or important. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p229, 230.]

·      The discovery of design expands the number of factors that must be considered by science when trying to explain life. What will be the effect of the awareness of intelligent design on different branches of science? Biologists who are working at the cellular level or above can continue their research without paying much attention to design, because above the cellular level organisms are black boxes, and design is difficult to prove. So those who labor in the fields of paleontology, comparative anatomy, population genetics, and biogeography should not invoke design until the molecular sciences show that design has an effect at those higher levels. Of course, the possibility of design should cause researchers in biology to hesitate before claiming that a particular biological feature has been produced substantially by another mechanism, such as natural selection or transposition. Instead, detailed models should be produced to justify the assertion that a given mechanism produced a given biological feature. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p230.]

·      For those who work at the molecular level, the challenge will be to rigorously determine which systems were designed and which might have arisen by other mechanisms. To reach a conclusion of design will require the identification of the components of an interacting molecular system and the roles they play, as well as a determination that the system is not a composite of several separable systems. To reach a strong presumption of nondesign will require the demonstration that a system is not irreducibly complex or does not have much specificity between its components. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p230.]

Chapter 11: Science, Philosophy, Religion

·      The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of «design!» The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and SchrÖdinger, Pasteur, and Darwin. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p233.]

·      Why does the scientific community not greedily embrace its startling discovery? Why is the observation of design handled with intellectual gloves? The dilemma is that while one side of the elephant is labeled intelligent design, the other side might be labeled God. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p233.]

·      The purpose of science is to explain the physical world—a very serious enterprise. However, other academic disciplines (principally philosophy and theology) also are in the business of explaining parts of the world. Although most of the time these disciplines stay out of each other’s way, sometimes they conflict. When that happens some dedicated people put their discipline ahead of the goal it is supposed to serve. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p234.]

·      A good example of disciplinary chauvinism can be seen in Robert Shapiro’s fine book, Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. After presenting a very readable, very devastating critique of scientific studies on the origin of life, Shapiro proclaims his steadfast loyalty—not to the goal of «explaining the physical world,» but to science: Some future day may yet arrive when all reasonable chemical experiments run to discover a probable origin for life have failed unequivocally. Further, new geological evidence may indicate a sudden appearance of life on the earth. Finally, we may have explored the universe and found no trace of life, or process leading to life, elsewhere. In such a case, some scientists might choose to turn to religion for an answer. Others, however, myself included, would attempt to sort out the surviving less probable scientific explanations in the hope of selecting one that was still more likely than the remainder.1 [Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books, New York, p. 130.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p234.]

·      Although many scientists and theologians thought that Darwinian evolution could be reconciled rather easily with the basic beliefs of most religions, publicity always focuses on conflict. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p235.]

·      Dickerson’s essay makes a useful springboard for considering how the theory of intelligent design fits into science: Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule: Rule No. 1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural. Operational science takes no position about the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural; it only requires that this factor is not to be invoked in scientific explanations. Calling down special-purpose miracles as explanations constitutes a form of intellectual «cheating.» A chess player is perfectly capable of removing his opponent’s King physically from the board and smashing it in the midst of a tournament. But this would not make him a chess champion, because the rules had not been followed. A runner may be tempted to take a short-cut across the infield of an oval track in order to cross the finish line ahead of his faster colleague. But he refrains from doing so, as this would not constitute «winning» under the rules of the sport.2 [Dickerson’s essay can be found in Journal of Molecular Evolution, 34, 277 (1992), and Perspectives on Science & Christian Faith, 44, 137-138 (1992).] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p238 ,239.]

·      In his essay, then, Dickerson does not say scientific evidence has shown that the supernatural has never affected nature (for those concerned about the definition of supernatural, substitute «higher intelligence»). Rather, he argues that in principle, science should not invoke it. The clear implication is that it should not be invoked whether it is true or not. It is relevant to our evaluation of his argument that Dickerson is a member of the American Scientific Affiliation, so he believes in God. He has no a priori reason to think that nothing beyond nature exists, but he thinks it is not good science to offer the supernatural as an explanation for a natural event. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p239.]

·      Ken Miller, whose argument from imperfection I analyzed in the last chapter, is like myself a Roman Catholic, and he makes the point in public talks that belief in evolution is quite compatible with his religious views. I agree with him that they are compatible.4 The compatibility or lack of compatibility, however, is irrelevant to the scientific question of whether Darwinian evolution of biochemical systems is true. [Of course, whether «evolution» and «religion» are compatible depends on your definitions of both. If one takes the position that evolution not only occurred solely by uninterrupted natural law, but that the process is «purposeless» and «unforeseen» in a metaphysical sense, then that does place «evolution» on a collision course with many religious denominations. Phillip Johnson has done an admirable job of pointing out the many ways in which the word evolution is used, and how shifting definitions can confuse public discussion of the issue. Johnson, P. E. (1991) Darwin on Trial, Regnery Gateway, Washington, DC.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p239.]

·      It is important to note that Dickerson’s argument is not itself a scientific one—it was not discovered by an experiment in a laboratory; it is not the result of mixing chemicals in a test tube; it is not a testable hypothesis. Rather, the argument is philosophy. It may be good philosophy, or it may not. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p239.]

·      The final point I wish to make about Richard Dickerson’s argument is that although he certainly didn’t intend it, it is a prescription for timidity. It tries to restrict science to more of the same, disallowing a fundamentally different explanation. It tries to place reality in a tidy box, but the universe will not be placed in a box. The origin of the universe and the development of life are the physical underpinnings that resulted in a worldful of conscious agents. There is no a priori reason to think that those bedrock events are to be explained in the same way as other physical events. Science is not a game, and scientists should follow the physical evidence wherever it leads, with no artificial restrictions. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p243.]

·      The prominent physicist A.S. Eddington probably spoke for many in voicing his utter disgust with such an idea: “Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me, as I think it must be to most; and even those who would welcome a proof of the intervention of a Creator will probably consider that a single winding-up at some remote epoch is not really the kind of relation between God and his world that brings satisfaction to the mind.” [The reaction of science to the Big Bang hypothesis, including Eddington’s and other prominent physicists, is recounted in Jaki, S. (1980) Cosmos and Creator, Regnery Gateway, Chicago.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p244.]

·      Nonetheless, despite its religious implications, the Big Bang was a scientific theory that flowed naturally from observational data, not from holy writings or transcendental visions. Most physicists adopted the Big Bang theory and set their research programs accordingly. A few, like Einstein before them, didn’t like the extra-scientific implications of the theory and labored to develop alternatives. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p244.]

·      The success of the Big Bang model had nothing to do with its religious implications. It seemed to agree with the Judaeo-Christian dogma of a beginning to the universe; it seemed to disagree with other religions that believed the universe to be eternal. But the theory justified itself by reference to observational data—the expansion of the universe— and not by invoking sacred texts or the mystical experiences of holy men. The model came straight from the observational evidence; it was not fit to a Procrustean bed of religious dogma. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p245, 246.]

·      It is interesting (though scientifically irrelevant) that the notion of a cycling universe would be compatible with many religions, including those of the ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, and Indians.8 [Jaki, S. (1986) Science and Creation, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p246.]

·      Francis Crick also thinks that life on earth may have begun when aliens from another planet sent a rocket ship containing spores to seed the earth. This is no idle thought; Crick first proposed it with chemist Leslie Orgel in 1973 in an article entitled «Directed Panspermia» in a professional science journal called Icarus. A decade later Crick wrote a book, Life Itself, reiterating the theory; in a 1992 interview in Scientific American on the eve of the publication of his latest book, Crick reaffirmed that he thinks the theory is reasonable. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p248.]

·      Richard Dawkins has written that anyone who denies evolution is either «ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked—but I’d rather not consider that.)» [Dawkins, R. (1989) New York Times, April 9, 1989, sec. 7, p. 34.]

[Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p250.]

·      John Maddox, the editor of Nature, has written in his journal that «it may not be long before the practice of religion must be regarded as anti-science.» [Maddox, J. (1994) «Defending Science Against Anti-Science,» Nature, 368, 185.]  [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p250.]

·      In his recent book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, philosopher Daniel Dennett compares religious believers—90 percent of the population—to wild animals who may have to be caged, and he says that parents should be prevented (presumably by coercion) from misinforming their children about the truth of evolution, which is so evident to him. [Dennett, D. (1995) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Simon & Schuster, New York, pp. 515-516.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p250.]

·      The scientific community contains many excellent scientists who think that there is something beyond nature, and many excellent scientists who do not. How then will science «officially» treat the question of the identity of the designer? Will biochemistry textbooks have to be written with explicit statements that «God did it»? No. The question of the identity of the designer will simply be ignored by science. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p251.]

·      The history of science is replete with examples of basic-but-difficult questions being put on the back burner. For example, Newton declined to explain what caused gravity, Darwin offered no explanation for the origin of vision or life, Maxwell refused to specify a medium for light waves once the ether was debunked, and cosmologists in general have ignored the question of what caused the Big Bang. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p251.]

·      The philosophical argument (made by some theists) that science should avoid theories which smack of the supernatural is an artificial restriction on science. Their fear that supernatural explanations would overwhelm science is unfounded. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p251.]

Afterword: Ten Years Later

·      When I wrote that sentence near the conclusion of Darwin’s Black Box ten years ago, I had no inkling of how very unsettling some people would find the concept of intelligent design1 (ID). [What exactly is «intelligent design? In an article in 2001 in the philosophy of science journal, Biology and Philosophy, I made an important distinction: «By [intelligent designl someone might mean that the laws of nature themselves are designed to produce life and the complex systems that undergird it. Without commenting on the merits of the position, let me just say that that is not the meaning I assign to the phrase. By «intelligent design» (ID) I mean to imply design beyond the laws of nature. That is, taking the laws of nature as given, are there other reasons for concluding that life and its component systems have been intentionally arranged, just as there are reasons beyond the laws of nature for concluding a mousetrap was designed? [Unless stated otherwise] whenever I refer to ID I mean this stronger sense of design-beyond-laws.»] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p255.]

·      Ten years ago I used the phrase «irreducible complexity»2 (IС) to shine a spotlight on a large and then-substantially-unappreciated problem for Darwinian evolution—like a mousetrap, almost all of the elegant molecular machinery of the cell needs multiple parts to work. Because of the need for many parts, it is extraordinarily difficult to rigorously envision how systems such as the cilium, flagellum, or blood clotting cascade could have arisen from simpler systems by the «numerous, successive, slight modifications» imagined by Charles Darwin. [The term «irreducible complexity» occurred to me independently. However, I’ve since learned that the phrase was used earlier in Templets and the Explanation of Complex Patterns (Cambridge University Press, 1986) by Case Western Reserve University biologist Michael J. Katz. He appeared to have in mind the same sorts of phenomena as I did.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p257.]

·      In a review of Darwin’s Black Box for the MIT-published Boston Review, University of Rochester evolutionary biologist Allen Orr rejected out of hand the maybe-a-toothpick-turned-into-a-mousetrap reasoning of Kenneth Miller: [W]e might think that some of the parts of an irreducibly complex system evolved step by step for some other purpose and were then recruited wholesale to a new function. But this is also unlikely. You may as well hope that half your car’s transmission will suddenly help out in the airbag department. Such things might happen very, very rarely, but they surely do not offer a general solution to irreducible complexity.14 [Orr, H. A. (1996), «Darwin v. Intelligent Design (Again).» Boston Review, Dec/Jan.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p262.]

·      Is the argument simply, as some have caricatured it, that we don’t know how Darwinism accounts for biological complexity; and so we naively jump to the conclusion of design? Is it just an «argument from ignorance»?18 Of course not. (…) design is positively apprehended in the purposeful arrangement of parts. Looked at this way, irreducibly complex systems such as mousetraps and flagella serve both as negative arguments against gradualistic explanations like Darwin’s and as positive arguments for design. The negative argument is that such interactive systems resist explanation by the tiny steps that a Darwinian path would be expected to take. The positive argument is that their parts appear arranged to serve a purpose, which is exactly how we detect design. [Blackstone N. W (1997), «Argumentum ad Ignorantium,» Quarterly Review Biology 72:445-447.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p263, 264.]

·      Rather, says Dawkins, it’s what we conclude when we get in touch with our inner engineer: We may say that a living body or organ is well designed if it has attributes that an intelligent and knowledgeable engineer might have built into it in order to achieve some sensible purpose, such as flying, swimming, seeing … It is not necessary to suppose that the design of a body or organ is the best that an engineer could conceive of. . . . But any engineer can recognize an object that has been designed, even poorly designed, for a purpose, and he can usually work out what that purpose is just by looking at the structure of the object. [Dawkins R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker, Norton, New York, p. 21.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p264.]

·      Dawkins doesn’t just grudgingly acknowledge some faint impression of design in life; he insists that the appearance of design, which he ascribes to natural selection, is overpowering: «Yet the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, impress us with the illusion of design and planning.»20 [Dawkins R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker, Norton, New York, p. 21.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p264.]

·      Here, then, is the argument for design in a nutshell: (1) We infer design whenever parts appear arranged to accomplish a function. (2) The strength of the inference is quantitative and depends on the evidence; the more parts, and the more intricate and sophisticated the function, the stronger is our conclusion of design. With enough evidence, our confidence in design can approach certitude. If while crossing a heath we stumble across a watch (let alone a chronometer), no one would doubt—as Paley rightly said—that the watch was designed; we would be as certain about that as about anything in nature. (3) Aspects of life overpower us with the appearance of design. (4) Since we have no other convincing explanation for that strong appearance of design, Darwinian pretensions notwithstanding, then we are rationally justified in concluding that parts of life were indeed purposely designed by an intelligent agent. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p265.]

·      A crucial, often-overlooked point is that the overwhelming appearance of design strongly affects the burden of proof: in the presence of manifest design, the onus of proof is on the one who denies the plain evidence of his eyes. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p265.]

·      Without strong, convincing evidence to show that Darwin can do the trick, the public is quite rational to embrace design.21 [Of course other factors besides the quality of the evidence, such as social pressure, can affect a person’s judgment. In the scientific and academic communities as a whole there is strong social pressure to dismiss design explanations for life out of hand. The social situation is quite different for the general public.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p266.]

·      Darwinian theory has remained dead in the water. The quickest way to illustrate the point is with the very title of a recent paper on the cilium: «Speculations on the evolution of 9+2 organelles and the role of central pair microtubules.» [emphasis added, both here and below] In other words, more interesting conjecture, more beguiling surmise, which have never been in short supply in Darwinian circles. The abstract of the paper shows the pivotal role of imagination in the story: [Rlecent advances . . . suggest that these organelles may have served multiple roles in early eukaryotic cells… we speculate that protocilia were the primary determinants of cell polarity and directed motility in early eukaryotes … we believe that addition of an asymmetric central apparatus … provided refined directional control. . . . This paper presents hypothesized steps in this evolutionary process, and examples to support these hypotheses.24 [Mitchell D. R. (2004), «Speculations on the Evolution of 9+2 Organelles and the Role of Central Pair Microtubules.» Biol. Cell, 96:691-696.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p267.]

·      There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p270.]

·      In his review of Darwin’s Black Box shortly after its publication in 1996 University of Chicago microbiologist James Shapiro declared, «There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.»33 Ten years later, nothing has changed. Call them wishful speculations or call them plausible scenarios—both just mean a lack of real answers. [Shapiro, J. (1996), «In the Details . . . What?» National Review, Sept. 16, 62-65. Shapiro’s judgment is seconded by Colorado State University emeritus professor of biochemistry Franklin Harold in his book The Way of the Cell (Oxford, 2001): «. . .we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical system, only a variety of wishful speculations.»] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p271.]

·      The conclusion of intelligent design is strengthened by each new example of elegant, complex molecular machinery or system that science discovers at the foundation of life. In 1996 that elegance already could be clearly seen, and in the past ten years it has greatly increased. There is no reason to expect it to level off any time soon. [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p271.]

·      A recent news article in the journal Nature reported on an invitation-only meeting where up-and-coming students could rub elbows with Nobel prize winning scientists. For this year’s meeting the organizing committee: “. . . invited scientific academies and other agencies around the world to open competitions for young scientists to attend, then whittled down a list of nearly 10,000 applicants. The final 2005 list of 720 invitees represented a new profile of participant: academically excellent, familiar with societal impacts of their research and fluent in English. They are generally under thirty, but the majority are now Ph.D. students or postdocs.” But the students asked surprising questions: “«It is curious to see the questions that students from different cultures ask,» [Günter Blobel (medicine, 1999)] remarked after a discussion on evolutionary biology led by Christian de Duve (medicine, 1974). He was taken aback to find some students expressing so much interest in the «creative guiding hand» of intelligent design.”34 [Abbott A. (2005), «Nobel laureates: Close encounters,» Nature 436:170-171.] [Michael J. Behe: Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Free Press, New York 2006, p272.]

الحمد لله الذي بنعمته تتمّ الصَّالِحات

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

More Than a Theory

Revealing a Testable Model for Creation

By: Hugh Ross

للتحميل: (PDF) (DOC)

atheory

نبذة مُختصرة عن الكتاب:

كتاب هام جداً للعالم الأمريكي «هيو روس».

الكتاب يتحدَّث عن فكرة في غاية الرَّوعة، لا يعيبها إلَّا أنَّها مبنية على الكتاب المُقدَّس، والفكرة تستحقّ أن يُنظر لها من منظور إسلامي، لأنَّ الكتاب المُقدَّس لا يقوى على حمل فكرة بهذه القُوَّة بدون ثغرات أو أخطاء.

الفكرة عبارة عن وضع نظرية علمية تتعرَّض للمواضيع التالية: نشأة الكون، الضَّبط الدَّقيق للكون، نشأة الحياة على الأرض، وأصل الإنسان، من خلال نُصُوص الكتاب المُقدَّس فقط!

هذه النَّظرية العلمي تعني أنَّنا نقوم بتحديد تفاصيل كل المواضيع السَّابقة بدِقَّة، وبشكل نظري فقط، بناءً على الموجود في الكتاب المُقدَّس، ثمَّ نقوم باختبار صحَّة ما وضعناه، من خلال مُقابلته بالكُشُوفات العلمية الحديثة!

والفكرة في حقيقتها مُمتازة، لكنَّني لا أستطيع أن آخذها بجدِّيَّة عند تطبيقها على الكتاب المُقدَّس، وأرى أنَّه يجب تطبيق مثل هذه الفكرة على القرآن الكريم والسُّنَّة النَّبوية الشَّريفة، بشرط أن تكون كلّ التَّفاصيل المكتوبة ناتجة عن تفسير نُصُوص القرآن والسُّنَّة فقط، بدون تأثير مُسبق بسبب معرفتنا للاكتشافات العلمية!

والموضوع مُفيد جداً لأن الإسلام والمسيحية يتقابلان في تفاصيل كثيرة مُتعلِّقة بالمواضيع المذكورة سابقاً، ومن المُفيد جداً معرفة مواطن الاختلاف بين الدِّينين، ثمَّ البحث في كون أيُّهما اتَّفق مع الكُشُوفات العلمية الحديثة!

الكتاب يحتوي على أفكار مُمتازة جداً تستحق القراءة في مجال عرض المعلومات الدِّينية بشكل علمي مُقنع لغير المُتديِّنين، ويتناول أيضاً مفاهيم قريبة من موضوع الإعجاز العلمي للقرآن الكريم تستحقّ الاطِّلاع.

والأهمّ من كُلّ هذا، بيان أنَّ هُناك فوارق جوهرية بين الذي يؤمن بالخلق والتَّصميم، وبين الذي يؤمن بالعشوائية والمادية البحتة، وبيان كيفية التَّفريق بين الاثنين بشكل علمي واضح، وكذلك فكرة وضع توقُّعات مُستقبلية لم يكتشفها العلم بعد بناءً على تصوُّرك الإيماني للكون، وبيان مدى صحَّة توقُّعات ودقّتها.

الكتاب يستحق تقدير مُمتاز، وأنصح بدراسته من قِبَل المُتخصِّصين، لأنَّه غني بالأفكار المُفيدة المُختلفة.

1 Is It Science?

· The ideas of creation and evolution also involve discerning realities from pseudo representations. The universe, life, and humanity were either designed with purpose and meaning, or they were not. The entire cosmos either explains itself, or it does not. Creation either happened, or it’s a figment of someone’s imagination. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 115-117). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· What a person believes about his origin colors every other part of his view on life. Strictly natural outcomes reflect no care, no reason, no hope. Yet these characteristics belong inherently to the concept of biblical creation. Because individuals behave as they believe, perspectives on evolution and creation embody a critical determinant for how people choose to live and plan their lives. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 118-120). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· He says that “a universe with a supernaturally intelligent creator is a very different kind of universe from one without.” Therefore, “the presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question.” [Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 82.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 129-131). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, redefines science as “an attempt to explain the natural world in terms of natural processes, not supernatural ones”. [Eugenie C. Scott, “My Favorite Pseudoscience,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education 23 (January–February 2003): 11.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 202-204). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Lawrence Krauss, director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University, echoes this restrictive definition: “Science assumes that natural phenomena have natural causes.” [Lawrence M. Krauss, “ ‘Creationism’ Discussion Belongs in Religion Class,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education 22 (January–April 2002): 11.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 204-206). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· In an official response to creationism and intelligent design, the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science wrote, “Science is a process of seeking natural explanations for natural phenomena.” [Board of Directors, “Statement on the Teaching of Evolution,” American Association for the Advancement of Science, February 16, 2006, http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2006/pdf/0219boardstatement.pdf.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 206-208). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Acknowledging the blatant censorship inherent in such redefinitions of science, Scott has tried to soften her stance by saying it’s not that science denies God’s existence or his possible role as a Creator. It’s just that science is incapable of ever detecting it. Because it is not possible to “hold constant the actions of supernatural forces” under laboratory conditions, Scott concludes that the possibility of a supernatural cause is “outside of what science can tell us.”16 She claims that science and scientific testing must be limited to direct observations of events occurring in nature or under controlled laboratory conditions. [Eugenie C. Scott, “The Big Tent and the Camel’s Nose,” Reports of the National Center for Science Education 21 (January–April 2001): 39.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 211-215). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Some may complain that the scientific community would never grant evolution critique, much less grant creation proponents top-level access. Yet Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA recently published an article critical of the evolutionary paradigm (see chapter 10, pp. 169–70).17 And RTB scientists have had opportunities to present their testable creation model before faculty and researchers at several leading universities.18 These opportunities have yielded much valuable critique for improving and extending RTB’s model. Our book Origins of Life garnered a commendable review in the journal Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres,19 and some components of the RTB creation model have been published in reputable science journals.20 RTB resources even prompted a Nobel laureate in chemistry to change his worldview perspective from stridently anti-Christian to ardently Christian.21 [17. Zachary D. Blount, Christina Z. Borland, and Richard E. Lenski, “Historical Contingency and the Evolution of a Key Innovation in an Experimental Population of Escherichia coli,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 105 (June 10, 2008): 7899–7906. 18. Ohio State University, University of California at Davis, University of California at Los Angeles, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Illinois, and Yale are recent examples. 19. David Deaner, review of Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off, by Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 37 (April 2007): 201–3. 20. David L. Block and Hugh N. Ross, “Unser Universum: Zufall oder Absicht?” ed. and trans. Gero Rupprecht, Die Sterne 68 (June 1992): 325–39; Jacquelyn A. Thomas and F. R. Rana, “The Influence of Environmental Conditions, Lipid Composition, and Phase Behavior on the Origin of Cell Membranes,” Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres 37 (June 2007): 267–85. 21. Richard E. Smalley won the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his contribution to the discovery of fullerenes. The RTB books most responsible for Smalley’s changed perspective were The Creator and the Cosmos, Origins of Life, Who Was Adam, Beyond the Cosmos, The Genesis Question, and A Matter of Days. For a summary of the story of Smalley’s change of perspective see “Dr. Hugh Ross’ remarks at the memorial service for Dr. Richard Smalley,” Reasons To Believe, November 2, 2005, http://www.reasons.org/about/staff/richard_smalley_memorial_service.shtml.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 222-229). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

2 Multiple Choice

· In 1984 biochemistry professor Isaac Asimov wrote “The ‘Threat’ of Creationism,” an article which has since appeared in several books, magazines, and Web postings. It warns fellow scientists and the public that creationists are “a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.”1 Although creationists are a relatively small group, Asimov sees them as a threat since “smaller groups have used intense pressure and forceful campaigning—as the creationists do—and have succeeded in disrupting and taking over whole societies.”2 Asimov concludes by warning that “with creationists in the saddle, American science will wither. We will raise a generation of ignoramuses. . . . We will inevitably recede into the backwater of civilization.”3 [1. Isaac Asimov, “The ‘Threat’ of Creationism,” in Science and Creationism, ed. Ashley Montagu (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), 190, http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/azimov_creationism.html. 2. Ibid., 183. 3. Ibid., 193.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 311-317). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· These fears continue on a larger scale today. Parliamentarians from the forty-seven nation Council of Europe issued a resolution on October 4, 2007, in which they alerted both their member states and the world that “creationism could become a threat to human rights.”4 The council members saw this threat emerging from the creationists’ “total rejection of science.”5 They wrote, We are witnessing a growth of modes of thought which challenge established knowledge about nature, evolution, our origins and our place in the universe. . . . The “intelligent design” idea, which is the latest, more refined version of creationism, does not deny a certain degree of evolution. However, intelligent design, presented in a more subtle way, seeks to portray its approach as scientific, and therein lies the danger.6 [4. “Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1580 (2007): The Dangers of Creationism in Education,” Council of Europe, October 4, 2007, http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/ documents/adoptedtext/ta07/eres1580.htm. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 317-324). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· On the other hand, Henry Morris, past president of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and for several decades the leading young-earth creationist spokesman, declared in 1988 that the theory of biological evolution must be strenuously opposed by all Christians. He said that “the bitter fruits of widespread amorality, materialism, the drug culture, abortionism, pornography, social diseases and a host of other ills—not to mention communism and fascism” spring from the roots of evolutionary humanism.7 Henry Morris also accuses evolutionists of stultifying the progress of science. He wrote that evolution has produced “not one good fruit in the form of real scientific advance in either living standards or altruistic behavior.”8 [7. Henry M. Morris, “Is Creationism Important in Education?” Creation 10 (June 1988): 29–31, http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v10/i3/education.asp. 8. Henry Morris, “Why ICR—and Why Now?” Impact, no. 337, July 2001, ii, http:// www.icr.org/i/pdf/imp/imp-337.pdf.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 324-330). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Is It A, B, C, D, E, F, G, or H? Each of the major participants in the controversy wants exclusive rights to the story of the cosmos and life. It’s a powerful story, one that carries enormous significance for every person on Earth. All sides seem to agree that the origins scenario holds the key to answering the great questions of life: Where did the universe and Earth come from? How did humanity get here and why? Where is life headed? Did humans invent God (or gods) out of insecurity or wishful thinking? Or is there really a God who endowed individuals with his creative and imaginative powers? Ultimately, what’s at stake is who or what determines the meaning of life. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 343-349). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· In recent decades, however, the word “evolutionist” has generally been applied to someone who asserts that all the changes observed in the record of nature (including the origin and history of the universe, Earth, and all life) can be attributed to natural causes alone. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 354-356). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Historically, “creationist” referred to anyone who acknowledges that a Creator is responsible for bringing the universe and life into existence. According to that definition, nearly half of all practicing scientists are creationists. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 361-363). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· About a decade ago, however, a diverse group of creation advocates formed an alliance widely known as the intelligent design movement (IDM). Their goal is to advance public instruction about the intelligent design concept, the inference that an intelligent designer is responsible for the origin and history of life. By refraining from making a specific identification of the designer or of any specific history of the universe or life, the movement has sought to remove any religious bias and, therefore, any apparent legal basis for disallowing the teaching of intelligent design in classrooms. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 384-387). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Coupled with the old-earth adjective, this “creationist” refers to someone who, in contrast to a young-earth view, believes not only the biblical account of creation but also the findings of mainstream science. These individuals typically embrace both the truthfulness of Scripture and the scientific evidence for a multibillion-year history of the universe, Earth, and life on Earth. [See Lane Coffee, comp., “Notable Christians Open to an Old-Universe, Old-Earth Interpretation,” Reasons To Believe, http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/notable _leaders/index.shtml (accessed October 11, 2005).] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 389-391). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Fully gifted creationists assert that God personally intervened in the natural order on just one occasion, the origin of the universe. According to this view, God so gifted the laws of physics and the universe at that cosmic beginning that thereafter, strictly natural processes brought about God’s desired outcomes specifically as he had planned. This particular subset of theistic evolution is scientifically indistinguishable from deism, the belief that God is responsible only for the initial creation of the universe. While some fully gifted creationists allow for the possibility of divine interventions beyond the cosmic creation event, they claim scientists can never detect such interventions. For example, the interventions of God are hidden underneath the umbrella of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics. (One implication of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is that causality at the quantum level remains concealed.) [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 403-409). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

3 Different Strategies

· With naturalism, the answers to the big questions of life become insignificant. Where did we humans come from? Random physical phenomena. Where are we going? Most likely to extinction. Such answers rarely captivate a student’s curiosity or ignite the general public’s imagination. Nor do they satisfy the soul’s hunger for meaning, purpose, or hope. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 496-499). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Carl Wieland, himself a young-earth creationist, pinpoints another major reason for this negative response. He notes that ID theorists “refuse to be drawn on the sequence of events, or the exact history of life on Earth, or its duration.”27 Therefore, “they can never offer a ‘story of the past.’ ”28 He asks, “If the origins debate is not about a ‘story of the past,’ what is it about?”29 [27. Carl Wieland, “AiG’s Views on the Intelligent Design Movement,” Answers in Genesis, August 30, 2002, http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2002/0830_IDM.asp.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 565-568). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· In Dover, Pennsylvania, United States District Judge John E. Jones III ruled, “the overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere relabeling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.” [Tammy Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District et al., case 4:04-cv-02688-JEJ (M.D. Penn. 2005), page 43, http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/kitzmiller/kitzmiller_342.pdf.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 579-580). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

4 An Objective Testing Method

· Typically, researchers hold fast to an existing model, defects and all, until they see how an alternate model works better in five ways. The new model must: 1. give a wider and more detailed view of what’s going on; 2. make better sense of established data; 3. provide more reasonable and consistent explanations for the phenomena under investigation; 4. result in fewer unexplained anomalies and gaps; 5. prove more successful in anticipating or predicting future findings. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 810-815). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

5 Resources and Standards for RTB’s Model

· (This list of data has been highly abbreviated. Endnotes indicate where more extensive explanations of specific aspects of RTB’s creation model can be found.) Relevant scientific data includes the:

1. beginning of the universe about 13.73 billion years ago3

2. beginning of cosmic space-time configuration4

3. transcendence of the cause for the beginning of space, time, matter, and energy

4. adequate dimensionality, in addition to length, width, height, and time, to account for the pervasive coexistence of gravity and quantum mechanics (a total of ten dimensions)

5. distribution of matter and energy across the cosmic space-time surface

6. precise values of the physical laws and constants necessary to make physical life possible5

7. constancy of the physical laws and constants6

8. exquisitely fine-tuned continuous cosmic expansion essential to life7

9. continuous cooling of cosmic background radiation from near infinite temperature

10. degree of cosmic uniformity and homogeneity

11. relative abundances of the elements before the advent of stars

12. buildup and relative abundances of nonradiometric elements heavier than helium

13. history of the relative abundances of radiometric isotopes

14. size of the universe8

15. cosmic dominance of darkness rather than light

16. location and abundance of exotic matter relative to ordinary matter

17. anthropic principle9

18. anthropic principle inequality10

19. optimized location for viewing the cosmos11

20. optimized time window for viewing the cosmos12

21. Milky Way Galaxy’s past merging, collision, and close flybys with other galaxies

22. cosmic timing of the peak abundances for uranium and thorium

23. timing and locations of supernovae occurrences at Earth’s solar system origin site13

24. timing and all other details of an early collision between a Mars-sized body and Earth14

25. effects and timing of the Late Heavy Bombardment15

26. lack of evidence for possible extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI)16

27. lack of any known possible location for the existence of ETI17

28. uniqueness of Earth’s solar system among all observed planetary systems for the possible support of advanced life

29. absence of detected life on other solar system bodies

30. extraordinary life-essential properties of the Earth-Moon system

31. transfer of the Sun’s orbit from its birthing position

32. position of the Sun’s orbit relative to the Milky Way Galaxy’s co-rotation distance

33. timing of the solar system’s last crossing of a spiral arm

34. decline (by a factor of six) in Earth’s rotation rate

35. decline (by a factor of five) in Earth’s heat from radioactive decay

36. long-term stability and strength of Earth’s terrestrial magnetic field and internal dynamo

37. Earth’s plate-tectonic history

38. absence of terrestrial prebiotics

39. absence of any known extraterrestrial source of concentrated prebiotics

40. absence of any known amino acids, nucleotides, or 5-carbon sugars in interstellar molecular clouds

41. lack of any abiotic terrestrial source for homochiral building blocks of biomolecules

42. lack of any known extraterrestrial source for homochiral building blocks of biomolecules

43. early timing of life’s origin18

44. suddenness of life’s origin19

45. complexity and diversity of Earth’s first life

46. lack of a primordial soup20

47. predominance of bacterial life for the first 3 billion years of life’s history

48. ubiquity and complexity of biochemical design21

49. ubiquity and complexity of biochemical organization22

50. history and diversity of Earth’s sulfate-reducing bacteria23

51. history and location of cryptogamic colonies24

52. Earth’s oxygenation history25

53. stellar mass loss during early and late periods of stellar burning

54. stellar brightening during the middle and late periods of stellar burning

55. Sun’s dimming (by 15 percent) during its first 1.5 billion years26

56. Sun’s brightening (by 15 percent) during the past 3 billion years

57. current extreme, short-lived stability of the Sun’s luminosity

58. capacity of the past history of life to adjust Earth’s atmosphere so as to perfectly compensate for changes in the Sun’s luminosity

59. pattern of advances in life’s complexity

60. history and abundances of water-soluble elemental (but life-essential) poisons

61. Avalon explosion

62. Cambrian explosion27

63. frequency and magnitude of mass speciation events28

64. frequency and magnitude of mass extinction events29

65. rapidity and diversity of life’s recovery from mass extinction events

66. rate of progression from simple to complex life-forms

67. rate of appearance of new species of large body-sized organisms

68. rapid appearance of higher-metabolism, larger-bodied species after each oxygenation event

69. Lazarus taxa phenomena30

70. occurrence of biological and biomolecular convergence events (repeated evolutionary outcomes)31

71. DNA similarities among diverse species32

72. sudden recent cessation of speciation33

73. timing of Earth’s petroleum production peak34

74. timing of Earth’s petroleum storage peak35

75. history and frequency of multiple-species symbiosis36

76. emergence of a self-preservation drive in life

77. emergence of the uniquely human drive for meaning (a sense of hope, purpose, and destiny)

78. emergence of “soulish” behavior as expressed in higher animals

79. diversity of “soulish” behavior in higher animals

80. motivation of higher animals to serve or please humans in diverse ways

81. emergence of “spiritual” behavior as expressed in humans

82. human capacity for altruism

83. human capacity for evil37

84. quantity and diversity of expressions of altruism in nature

85. social structure and division of labor among certain insect species

86. timing of vascular plants’ origin, diversity, and proliferation

87. ubiquity and diversity of carnivores and parasites38

88. ubiquitous optimization of ecological relationships throughout life’s history on Earth

89. longevity and stability of various species in the fossil record

90. abundance of transitional forms among large-bodied, low-population species39

91. scarcity of transitional forms among small-bodied, large-population species

92. rapid development of optimized ecologies40

93. apparent “bad designs” in complex organisms41

94. absence of “bad designs” in simple organisms and inorganic structures

95. life spans of various species

96. DNA similarities and differences among humans, Neanderthals, and chimpanzees42

97. low population levels of hominid species

98. absence of any evidence for evolution within hominid species

99. timing and other characteristics of humanity’s origin43

100. cultural “big bangs” in the arrival of jewelry, art, technology, clothing, communication

101. changes in the human life span44

102. uniqueness of human characteristics and capabilities45

103. over-endowment for humanity’s basic survival46

104. location of humanity’s origin

105. timing of the Neolithic revolution in human culture

106. descent of modern humans from one man47 (or a few men and from one woman or a few women)

107. narrow physical limits on the time window for human civilization48

108. broad physical limits on the time window for simple life-forms

109. optimization of the physical laws and constants for restraining evil

[3. Hugh Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 3rd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 23–136; Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1999), 27–52; Hugh Ross, “A Beginner’s—and Expert’s—Guide to the Big Bang,” Facts for Faith, no. 3, third quarter 2000, 14–32. 4. Ross, Fingerprint of God, 107–18; Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 99–136; Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 27–46; Hugh Ross, “Cosmic Brane Scans,” Facts for Faith, no. 10, third quarter 2002, 13; Hugh Ross, “Predictive Power: Confirming Cosmic Creation,” Facts for Faith, no. 9, second quarter 2002, 32–39. 5. Hugh Ross, “The Physics of Sin,” Facts for Faith, no. 8, first quarter 2002, 46–51; Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 145–67; Hugh Ross, “Physicalism and Free Will,” Facts for Faith, no. 7, fourth quarter 2001, 48; Hugh Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” in What God Knows, ed. Harry Lee Poe and J. Stanley Mattson (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2005), 121–36. 6. Ross, Matter of Days, 97–120, 163–214; Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” 121–36. 7. Ross, Fingerprint of God, 53–118; Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 23–98, 150–57; Ross, “Predictive Power,” 32–39; Hugh Ross, “Facing Up to Big Bang Challenges,” Facts for Faith, no. 5, first quarter 2001, 42–53. 8. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 50–53, 150–57; Hugh Ross, “The Haste to Conclude Waste,” Facts & Faith, third quarter 1997, 1–3; Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002), 33–41, 161–62. 9. Ross, Fingerprint of God, 119–38; Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 45–67, 137–212; Hugh Ross, “Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity,” Facts for Faith, no. 8, first quarter 2002, 24–31; Ross, “Predictive Power,” 32–39; Guillermo Gonzalez and Hugh Ross, “Home Alone in the Universe,” First Things, no. 103, May 2000, 10–12. 10. Ross, Matter of Days, 218–20; Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” 121–36; Hugh Ross, “The Faint Sun Paradox,” Facts for Faith, no. 10, third quarter 2002, 26–33. 11. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 56, 179, 183; Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” 121–36; Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay W. Richards, The Privileged Planet (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2004); Ross, “Anthropic Principle,” 24–31. 12. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 56, 179, 183; Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” 121–36; Gonzalez and Richards, Privileged Planet; Ross, “Anthropic Principle,” 24–31. 13. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 176–78; Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004), 211–13. 14. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 184–85; Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 87–88. 15. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 72–73, 82–85; Hugh Ross, Fazale Rana, and Krista Bontrager, “Magma Ocean,” Creation Update, May 18, 2004, http://www.reasons.org/resources/multimedia/rtbradio/archives_creation_update/200401-06archives.shtml. 16. Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 57–58. 17. Ross, Samples, and Clark, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, 33–54. 18. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 63–92. 19. Ibid. 20. Ibid. 21. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 93–181; Fazale Rana, “Yet Another Use for ‘Junk’ DNA,” Facts for Faith, no. 3, third quarter 2000, 56–57; Fazale R. Rana, “Protein Structures Reveal Even More Evidence for Design,” Facts for Faith, no. 4, fourth quarter 2000, 4–5. 22. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 93–181; Fazale R. Rana, “30% Inefficiency by Design,” Facts for Faith, no. 6, second quarter 2001, 10–11. 23. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 74–75, 217; Hugh Ross, “Bacteria Help Prepare Earth for Life,” Connections, first quarter 2001, 4. 24. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 219; Hugh Ross, “The Case for Creation Grows Stronger,” Facts & Faith, first quarter 1990, 1–3. 25. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 218–20. 26. Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 213–22; Ross, “Faint Sun Paradox,” 26–33. 27. Fazale Rana, “New Insight into the Ecology of the Cambrian Fauna: Evidence for Creation Mounts,” Facts for Faith, no. 3, third quarter 2000, 54–55; Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, “ ‘Exploding’ with Life! Interview with Dr. Paul Chien,” Facts for Faith, no. 2, second quarter 2000, 12–17; Fazale Rana, “The Explosive Appearance of Skeletal Designs,” Facts for Faith, no. 3, third quarter 2000, 52–53; Hugh Ross, “Biology’s Big Bang #2,” Facts & Faith, fourth quarter 1993, 2–3; Fazale R. Rana, “Cambrian Flash,” Connections, first quarter 2000, 3. 28. Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2001), 50–53; Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 82–84, 215–31; Hugh Ross, “Creation on the ‘Firing Line,’ ” Facts & Faith, first quarter 1998, 6–7; Hugh Ross, “Fungus Paints Darker Picture of Permian Catastrophe,” Facts & Faith, second quarter 1996, 3; Hugh Ross, “Life’s Fragility,” Facts & Faith, third quarter 1994, 4–5; Hugh Ross, “Dinosaurs and Cavemen: The Great Omission?” Facts & Faith, third quarter 1992, 6–7; Hugh Ross, “Dinosaurs’ Disappearance No Longer a Mystery,” Facts & Faith, third quarter 1991, 1–3. 29. Ross, Genesis Question, 50–53; Rana and Ross, Origins of Life, 82–84, 215–31; Ross, “Creation on the Firing Line,” 6–7; Hugh Ross, “Rescued from Freeze Up,” Facts & Faith, second quarter 1997, 3; Ross, “Fungus Paints Darker Picture,” 3; Ross, “Life’s Fragility,” 4–5; Ross, “Dinosaurs and Cavemen,” 6–7; Ross, “Dinosaurs’ Disappearance No Longer a Mystery,” 1. 30. Hugh Ross, “The Raising of Lazarus Taxa,” Facts & Faith, third quarter 1994, 5. 31. Fazale R. Rana, “Repeatable Evolution or Repeated Creation?” Facts for Faith, no. 4, fourth quarter 2000, 12–21; Fazale R. Rana, “Convergence: Evidence for a Single Creator,” Facts for Faith, no. 4, fourth quarter 2000, 14–20. 32. Fazale R. Rana with Hugh Ross, Who Was Adam? (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2005), 199–225; Ross, Genesis Question, 110–15; Fazale Rana, “Humans and Chimps Differ,” Connections, third quarter 2001, 1, 4–5. 33. Ross, Genesis Question, 63–65. 34. Hugh Ross, “Petroleum: God’s Well-Timed Gift to Mankind,” Connections, third quarter 2004, 2–3. 35. Ibid. 36. Hugh Ross, “Symbiosis—More Complex Than We Knew,” Connections, second quarter 1999, 2–3. 37. Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, 147–81; Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), 229–53. 38. Ross, Matter of Days, 97–109; Fazale Rana, “Extinct Shell Fish Speaks Today,” Connections, second quarter 2001, 1–2. 39. Ross, Genesis Question, 50–54; Fazale Rana, “ ‘Evolving’ Robots Challenge Evolution,” Facts for Faith, no. 5, first quarter 2001, 10–11; Fazale Rana, “Marine Body Sizes Add Weight to Creation Model,” Facts for Faith, no. 5, first quarter 2001, 12–13. 40. Rana, “Extinct Shell Fish Speaks Today,” 1–2. 41. Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 139–43; Rana, “30% Inefficiency by Design,” 10; Rana, “Yet Another Use for ‘Junk’ DNA,” 56–57; Rana, “ ‘Evolving’ Robots Challenge Evolution,” 10–11. 42. Rana, Who Was Adam?, 183–225. 43. Fazale Rana, “New Y Chromosome Studies Continue to Support a Recent Origin and Spread of Humanity,” Facts for Faith, no. 3, third quarter 2000, 52–53. 44. Fazale R. Rana, Hugh Ross, and Richard Deem, “Long Life Spans: ‘Adam Lived 930 Years and Then He Died,’ ” Facts for Faith, no. 5, first quarter 2001, 18–27; Hugh Ross, “Why Shorter Life Spans?” Facts for Faith, no. 5, first quarter 2001, 25; Rana with Ross, Who Was Adam? 111–21. 45. Rana with Ross, Who Was Adam? 77–95; Fazale Rana, “A Fashionable Find,” Connections, first quarter 2002, 2–3. 46. See Hugh Ross, Creation as Science, 159–60. 47. Rana, Who Was Adam?, 55–75. The data is not yet sufficiently definitive to distinguish the difference between present-day humans being descended from one or a few men and one or a few women. 48. Ross, “Time and the Physics of Sin,” 121–36.]

[Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 906-1013). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

6 The Biblical Structure Of RTB’s Creation Model

· The following details (with the exception of 9 and 10) have already been confirmed by twentieth-century cosmologists: 1. The universe has a beginning in finite time (see Gen. 1:1; 2:3–4; Ps. 148:5; Isa. 40:26; 42:5; 45:18; John 1:3; Col. 1:15–17; Heb. 11:3). 2. The beginning of space and time coincides with the beginning of the physical universe (Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:15–17; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2; Heb. 11:3). 3. The material universe was not made from that which is material, visible, or detectable (Heb. 11:3). 4. The universe has been continuously expanding from the beginning of space and time (Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Isa. 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Zech. 12:1). 5. The expansion of the universe appears precisely guided for the benefit of life (Job 9:8; Isa. 44:24; 45:12; 48:13). 6. The expansion of the universe resembles the spreading out and setting up of a tent (Ps. 104:2; Isa. 40:22). 7. The universe functions according to fixed physical laws (Jer. 33:25). 8. The entire universe is subject to those physical laws (Rom.8:20–22). 9. The universe has an ending in finite time (Job 14:12; Eccles. 12:2; Isa. 34:4; 51:6; 65:17; 66:22; Matt. 24:35; Heb. 1:10–12; 12:27–28; 2 Peter 3:7,10–13; Rev. 21:1–5). 10. At its end, the universe will roll up like a scroll and vanish in a burst of extreme heat (Isa. 34:4; 2 Peter 3:7, 10; Rev. 6:14). [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1256-1270). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The last species to appear on Earth, human beings (Homo sapiens sapiens), manifests not only far greater soulish capacities but also a unique characteristic the Bible identifies as “spirit.”19 No other species, past or present, expresses spirituality as defined by an innate: • awareness of right and wrong, or conscience; • awareness of mortality and concerns about what lies beyond death; • hunger for hope, purpose, and destiny; • compulsion to discover and create; • capacity for analysis, mathematics, and meditation; • capacity to recognize beauty, truth, logic, and absolutes; • propensity to worship and communicate with a deity. [Kenneth Richard Samples, A World of Difference (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 171–88.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1322-1330). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The story of life, death, and new life is part of RTB’s biblical model. It does not contradict New Testament statements about the kind of death that originated with Adam.20 Romans 5:12 clarifies this position: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” This death, introduced by Adam’s sin, applies strictly to humans.21 The whole of Scripture confirms that only humans, among all life created on Earth, can (and do) sin. Therefore, this “death through sin” applies to humans alone, not to plants and animals. In addition, the passage states specifically that this “death came to all men.” It does not say “to all creation” or “to all creatures.” The verses make no apparent reference to plant or animal life, nor do other parallel passages (see 1 Cor. 15:20–23). [Only one New Testament passage besides Romans 5:12 pertains to this subject. First Corinthians 15:21–23 states, “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” This context clearly limits death because of sin to human beings. 21. For more on this topic, see Ross, A Matter of Days, 97–109.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1349-1356). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· A very different world could have been created. The New Testament’s closing chapters show how different God’s future creation will be. Revelation 21 and 22, along with other passages in Scripture, describe how the new creation will operate by radically different physics and dimensionality. Some of these characteristics apparently include:25 • a much more expansive habitat for humanity than is possible in this universe • radically different creation laws and constants (no thermodynamics, no gravity, no electromagnetism) • no decay, no death, no pain, no evil, no regrets, no grief • no darkness, no shadows • no sun, no stars, and yet light everywhere • different dimensionality • unimaginable splendor, joy, beauty, peace, and love • greatly expanded access to knowledge • multiple simultaneously intimate relationships that eclipse the need or desire for marriage (or sex) and families • unlimited relational delight • unlimited capacity for pleasure • wholly meaningful and satisfying work • opportunity to lead and instruct angels [For an in-depth discussion of life beyond the present creation, see Ross, Beyond the Cosmos.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1394-1407). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The universe, which • began (once) in finite time; • has a beginning that coincides with the beginning of space and time; • was not made from that which is material, visible, or detectable; • continuously expands from the beginning; • is governed by constant laws of physics; • manifests precise fine-tuning for humanity’s benefit; • has enormous volume, encompassing an “uncountable” (to ancient peoples) number of stars; • contains stars that differ from one another and eventually stop • contains stars that differ from one another and eventually stop shining; shining; • will someday cease to exist. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1428-1436). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Earth, which • emerged from the cosmos at a specific time; • was enshrouded by an opaque cloud layer in the beginning; • began with an ocean that covered its whole surface; • was precisely fine-tuned for humanity’s benefit; • contains resources essential for launching and sustaining human civilization; • has a Sun and Moon and other astronomical companions specially designed to benefit life and humanity; • carries finite resources and time-limiting conditions for sustaining human civilization. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1437-1443). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Life, which • began early in Earth’s history; • began under hostile conditions; • began by divine intervention; • began with optimal ecological relationships; • began with optimal design for environmental conditions; • appeared in abundance, in diversity, and for long eras for the specific benefit of humanity; • started as physical only (most life-forms); then soulish creatures (many species) appeared; and finally, one spiritual species was introduced— an original pair of humans and all their descendents; • progresses from simple to complex through a series of extinction and replacement (speciation) events; • reflects shared common designs; • in its soulish characteristics, appears designed to serve and/or please humanity. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1444-1453). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Humanity, which • arrived late in Earth’s history; • resulted from divine intervention; • represents the culmination of God’s creation work on Earth; • remains the only earthly creature with a spiritual nature; • descended from one man and one woman who lived in a God-designed garden near the juncture of Africa, Asia, and Europe; • migrated rapidly from area of origin shortly after the flood of Noah’s time; • experienced a significant drop in the potential life span after the time of the flood; • genetically bottlenecked at a later date for males than for females (because male flood survivors were all biologically related to Noah, whereas females were not related to one another); • was gifted from the outset with attributes needed for functioning in a high-tech civilization. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1453-1463). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

7 Putting RTB’s Model For The Cosmos To The Test

· Prior to 1970, astronomers knew the universe had a beginning but understood little about exactly how the universe got its start. Then two physicists, Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, produced the first space-time theorems of general relativity.2 Their theorem proved, within the framework of classical general relativity, that if the universe contains mass and if the equations of general relativity reliably describe the universe’s dynamics, then its space and time dimensions must have had a beginning that coincides with the universe’s origin. [Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, “The Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A 314 (1970): 529–48.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1520-1523). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Today, astronomers have performed more than a dozen independent tests of general relativity and have confirmed the reliability of general relativity to describe the dynamics of the universe to better than 0.000000000001 percent precision. British mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, coauthor of the first space-time theorem, said, “This makes Einstein’s general relativity, in this particular sense, the most accurately tested theory known to science.”5 The thoroughness of testing and the precision of results combined with the breadth of the space-time theorems leave no reasonable basis for doubting that a causal Agent outside space and time brought the universe of space, time, matter, and energy into existence.6 [Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 230. 6. Ross, Beyond the Cosmos, 33–35.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1534-1540). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· In 1970 astronomers possessed only three methods for determining the universe’s origin date. None of them yielded a date any more accurate than ±35 percent. Today, many independent lines of measurement now validate, with better than 1 percent precision, that the universe began 13.73 billion years ago.7 [E. Komatsu et al., “Five-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Cosmological Interpretation,” Astrophysical Journal Supplement, forthcoming; Jonathan Coles, “A New Estimate of the Hubble Time with Improved Modeling of Gravitational Lenses,” Astrophysical Journal 679 (May 20, 2008): 17–24.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1540-1542). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Today astronomers possess many distinct tests for the nature of the ongoing cosmic expansion. Six of the most dramatic and explicit include the: 1. law of redshifts (galaxy velocity–galaxy distance relationship); 2. spreading apart of galaxies and galaxy clusters; 3. Tolman test for the surface brightness of identical objects; 4. lifetimes of supernova eruptions and gamma-ray bursts; 5. population statistics of stars and planets; 6. cooling of cosmic background radiation. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1619-1625). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Tolman Test In 1930 Caltech physicist Richard Tolman proposed an elegant test to determine whether observed redshifts indeed result from the universe’s general expansion.15 He demonstrated that the surface brightness of certain objects would be dramatically diminished (from being stretched out over a larger area) if the universe is expanding. In a nonexpanding universe, the surface brightness of identical objects would be the same everywhere, with no dimming. Surface brightness measurements of numerous astronomical bodies made possible by the Hubble Space Telescope revealed the exact degree of dimming predicted by the ongoing expansion of the cosmos.16 [Richard C. Tolman, Relativity, Thermodynamics, and Cosmology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1934): 467. 16. Allan Sandage and Lori M. Lubin, “The Tolman Surface Brightness Test for the Reality of the Expansion. I. Calibration of the Necessary Local Parameters,” Astronomical Journal 121 (May 2001): 2271–88; Lori M. Lubin and Allan Sandage, “The Tolman Surface Brightness Test for the Reality of the Expansion. II. The Effect of the Point-Spread Function and Galaxy Ellipticity on the Derived Photometric Parameters,” Astronomical Journal 121 (May 2001): 2289–2300; Lori M. Lubin and Allan Sandage, “The Tolman Surface Brightness Test for the Reality of the Expansion. III. Hubble Space Telescope Profile and Surface Brightness Data for Early-Type Galaxies in Three High-Redshift Clusters,” Astronomical Journal 122 (September 2001): 1071–83; Lori M. Lubin and Allan Sandage, “The Tolman Surface Brightness Test for the Reality of the Expansion. IV. A Measurement of the Tolman Signal and the Luminosity Evolution of Early-Type Galaxies,” Astronomical Journal 122 (September 2001): 1084–1103.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1652-1657). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Supernova Eruptions and Gamma-ray Bursts: In the Milky Way, an exploding star (a supernova) takes about seven months to transition from maximum to minimum brightness, while a typical gamma-ray burst near our galaxy takes an average of about 15 seconds to undergo this same transition. Observations show these transitions take longer, by the exact amounts consistent with their distances, for a universe that has rapidly expanded for the past 13.73 billion years.17 [S. Blondin et. al., “Time Dilation in Type Ia Supernova Spectra at High Redshift,” Astrophysical Journal 682 (August 1, 2008): 724–36; B. Leibundgut et al., “Time Dilation in the Light Curve of the Distant Type Ia Supernova SN 1995K,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 466 (July 20, 1996): L21–L24; A. G. Riess et al., “Time Dilation from Spectral Feature Age Measurements of Type Ia Supernovae,” Astronomical Journal 114 (August 1997): 722–29; G. Goldhaber et al., “Observation of Cosmological Time Dilation Using Type Ia Supernovae as Clocks,” in Thermonuclear Supernovae, Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute, held in Begur, Girona, Spain, June 20–30, 1995, NATO Advanced Science Institutes, series C, 486, ed. P. RuizLaPuente, R. Canal, and J. Isern (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997): 777–84; G. Goldhaber et al., “Timescale Stretch Parameterization of Type Ia Supernova B-Band Light Curves,” Astrophysical Journal 558 (September 1, 2001): 359–68; Ming Deng and Bradley E. Schaefer, “Time Dilation in the Peak-to-Peak Timescales of Gamma-Ray Bursts,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 502 (August 1, 1998): L109–L113.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1662-1665). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· A cosmos expanding too slowly produces only neutron stars and black holes.19 A universe expanding too rapidly produces no stars at all and, therefore, no planets.20 Astronomers and physicists note that the two factors governing the expansion rate (cosmic mass density and cosmic dark energy density) reflect the most exquisite fine-tuning anywhere in the sciences. [Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 151. 20. Ibid., 150–51.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1679-1682). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· According to recent studies, the universe can produce the kinds of galaxies, stars, planets, and chemical elements essential for the existence of physical life only if the cosmic mass density is fine-tuned to at least one part in 1060. That’s the result if there were no dark energy factor (the self-stretching property of the cosmic surface) contributing to cosmic expansion. If dark energy does exist, the fine-tuning of the cosmic mass density is reduced, but does not go away. For example, independent of dark energy, the universe would fail to produce life-essential heavy elements in the required abundances and in the necessary locations unless the mass densities of both ordinary and exotic matter are fine-tuned. However, while dark energy reduces the fine-tuning of the cosmic mass density, it in no way weakens the case for design. Instead it implies the most spectacular fine-tuning known to humanity.21 [Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, 39–41, 209–11.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1682-1689). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· For life to be possible, the cosmic dark energy density that governs the degree to which the cosmic space surface stretches must be fine-tuned to at least one part in 10120. This quantity, 10120, exceeds the number of protons and neutrons in the observable universe by 100 billion quadrillion quadrillion times.22 Fine-tuning to within one part in 10120 exceeds by a factor of more than a million quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion quadrillion times the best engineering achievements of the human race.23 In the face of such a staggeringly high degree of fine-tuning, even nontheistic scientists have made bold concessions. Given the existence of dark energy, one research team said, “Arranging the universe as we think it is arranged would have required a miracle. . . . It seems an external agent intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its own.”24 [22. It also exceeds by 1097 times the fine-tuning in what probably is humanity’s best engineering achievement, a gravity wave telescope that can make length measurements with a precision of one part in 1023. 23. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) currently ranks as the most exquisitely designed instrument ever made operational by humanity. It can make length measurements to within one part in 1023. This one part in 1023, however, ranks 1097 times inferior to the level of fine-tuning design present in cosmic dark energy. Such fine-tuning implies that the causal Agent that brought into existence the universe must be at least 1097 times more knowledgeable and more intelligent than the Caltech and MIT physicists that designed LIGO and 1097times more powerful than the U.S. government that funded LIGO. 24. Lisa Dyson, Matthew Kleban, and Leonard Susskind as quoted by Philip Ball, “Is Physics Watching Over Us?” http://www.nature.com/nsu/020812/020812-2.html (accessed August 14, 2002). The preprint to which Philip Ball refers (arXiv:hep-th/0208013v1 1 Aug 2002) was published in October 2002 by the Journal of High Energy Physics: Lisa Dyson, Matthew Kleban, and Leonard Susskind, “Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant,” http://ej.iop.org/links/q72/EzjZUjDJyeH0t0iDSa6pPg/jhep102002011.pdf (accessed April 2, 2006). Pertinent quotes are: (1) “Some Unknown agent initially started the inflation high up on its potential,” 1; (2) “the world started in a state of exceptionally low entropy. . . . However, there is no universally accepted explanation of how the universe got into such a special state,” 2; (3) “The question then is whether the origin of the universe can be a naturally occurring fluctuation, or must it be due to an external agent which starts the system out in a specific low entropy state?” 4; (4) “Perhaps the only reasonable conclusion is that we do not live in a world [universe] with a true cosmological [dark energy] constant,” 18.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1689-1697). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who first used the term “anthropic principle” in the scientific literature,33 observed a stunning temporal imbalance: the universe took billions of years to prepare for a species with the potential to survive no longer than a few million years. Carter called this imbalance between the minimum possible time required for the emergence of human life and the maximum time span for humanity’s survival, the “anthropic principle inequality.”34 [33. Brandon Carter, “Large Number Coincidences and the Anthropic Principle in Cosmology,” Confrontation of Cosmological Theories with Observational Data, ed. M. S. Longair (Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1974), 291–98. 34. Brandon Carter, “The Anthropic Principle and Its Implications for Biological Evolution,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 310 (December 20, 1983): 347–63.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1826-1830). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler later showed that this inequality is far more extreme than originally thought. They calculated that human civilization with the benefits of some technology and organized social structure can last no longer than 41,000 years.35 Furthermore, Barrow and Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for any conceivable intelligent physical species under any realistically possible life-support conditions.36 [John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 556–70.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1830-1833). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Physicists have calculated that physical life is impossible unless the universe is exceptionally uniform and homogeneous. As expected, astronomers see the same abundance of elements and density of matter and energy no matter where in the cosmos they look. Life also requires that virtually all constants of physics remain fixed to an extremely high degree throughout cosmic history, or at least since protons and neutrons formed. When astronomers make direct measurements of the values of physical constants at various epochs in cosmic history, they find remarkable consistency. In some cases possible variations prove less than two parts per 10 trillion per year—over the past twelve billion years.42 Laboratory measurements yield variation limits as small as two parts per quadrillion per year.43 [42. John N. Bahcall, Charles L. Steinhardt, and David Schlegel, “Does the Fine-Structure Constant Vary with Cosmological Epoch?” Astrophysical Journal 600 (January 10, 2004): 520–43; P. C. W. Davies, Tamara M. Davis, and Charles H. Lineweaver, “Cosmology: Black Holes Constrain Varying Constants,” Nature 418 (August 8, 2002): 602–3; Alexander Y. Potekhin et al., “Testing Cosmological Variability of the Proton-to-Electron Mass Ratio Using the Spectrum of PKS 0528–250,” Astrophysical Journal 505 (October 1, 1998): 523–28; D. B. Guenther, L. M. Krauss, and P. Demarque, “Testing the Constancy of the Gravitational Constant Using Helioseismology,” Astrophysical Journal 498 (May 10, 1998): 871–76. 43. E. Peik et al., “Limit on the Present Temporal Variation of the Fine Structure Constant,” Physical Review Letters 93 (October 18, 2004), doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.170801, http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PRL/v93/i17/e170801.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1860-1866). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

8      Putting RTB’s Model For Galaxies, Stars, And Planets To The Test

· Are There Solar Twins? Astronomers Jorge Meléndez and Iván Ramírez have spent most of their careers searching for a star that duplicates the Sun’s capability to make intelligent life possible on a planet that orbits that particular star. They recently wrote: The question of whether the Sun is unique or not [is] a question that has important philosophical consequences. An anomalous Sun favors some forms of the anthropic principle.2 [Jorge Meléndez and Iván Ramírez, “HIP 56948: A Solar Twin with a Low Lithium Abundance,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 669 (November 10, 2007): L92.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1933-1937). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Does a True Solar Twin Exist? In a research paper published November 10, 2007, Meléndez and Ramírez claimed they had finally found a true solar counterpart.5 They presented measurements on the star HIP 56948 showing a mass and temperature identical to the Sun’s. In addition, the lithium abundance appeared nearly the same. Meléndez and Ramirez identified HIP 56948 as a “true solar twin” by searching through a sample of more than 100,000 stars in the Hipparcos catalog of stars. This catalog lists accurate distance determinations, which are crucial for establishing an individual star’s precise properties. The characteristics of HIP 56948 are listed in table 8.2 along with the features of the two closest solar twins previously known. [Jorge Meléndez and Iván Ramírez, “HIP 56948: A Solar Twin with a Low Lithium Abundance,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 669 (November 10, 2007): L89-L92.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1962-1968). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· However, HIP 56948 is 1.2 billion years older and 15 percent more luminous than the Sun. As long as a star has hydrogen to burn in its core, it continues growing brighter as it ages. Such brightening happens as nuclear burning fuses hydrogen into helium. The added helium increases the star’s core density. This increased density then causes nuclear fusion to proceed with greater efficiency. A higher luminosity is consistent with the age difference between the two stars. The greater age and increased luminosity of HIP 56948 interfere with its potential to support an advanced-life-carrying planet. If Earth’s Sun shone brighter by just 0.4 percent (as it will when it’s only 0.2 percent older), advanced life would become extinct. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1973-1978). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· For advanced life to be possible on any planet, it must be accompanied by a just-right suite of gas giants. These planets act as gravitational shields. Their large masses either absorb or deflect asteroids and comets that would otherwise collide with the life-support planet. No single gas giant planet can provide adequate protection. It takes several to adequately cover all possible incoming collision routes. For this shielding to be effective, the gas giant planets must orbit neither too near nor too far from the life-support planet. In addition, a gas giant must not orbit so closely that its gravity disturbs the life-support planet’s orbit. Furthermore, to avoid disturbing that orbit, the inclination (tilt relative to the planetary system’s plane) and eccentricity (degree of ellipticity) of the gas giant planets must be nearly zero. If the masses of the gas giants are too great, their gravitational pull on the life-support planet will disrupt its orbit. However, if the masses are too small, the gas giant will neither deflect nor absorb sufficient numbers of incoming asteroids and comets. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 1995-2003). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· To date, there are 304 known extrasolar planetary systems. Of them, 303 contain a gas giant planet that either orbits its star closely (less than 3.5 times Earth’s orbital distance from the Sun) or possesses a large orbital eccentricity.10 Planets with these characteristics won’t even permit a water-rich planet the size of Earth to form in their vicinity.11 So far, only one “Jupiter twin” has been discovered, HD 154345b.12 This so-called twin of Jupiter orbits its star 20 percent closer than Jupiter does the Sun. It also lacks gas giant partners. Furthermore, its star is not even close to being a twin of the Sun. No advanced-life habitable planet is possible in the HD 154345 system. [10. Jean Schneider, “Interactive Extra-solar Planets Catalog,” The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia, http://exoplanet.eu/catalog-all.php (accessed May 31, 2008). 11. Sean N. Raymond, “The Search for Other Earths: Limits on the Giant Planet Orbits That Allow Habitable Terrestrial Planets to Form,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 643 (June 1, 2006): L131–L134. 12. J. T. Wright et al., “The Jupiter Twin HD154345b,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 683 (August 10, 2008): L63–L66.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2031-2036). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

9 Putting RTB’s Model For Life’s Beginning and Extraterrestrial Homes To The Test

· The atmosphere a planet accumulates during formation depends primarily on two factors: the planet’s gravitational pull and the distance from its star. The greater the pull and distance, the thicker the atmosphere, and the more powerful the planet’s capability to retain light-molecular-weight molecules long-term. These conditions pose a serious challenge. For advanced life to be possible, abundant water vapor must be retained for several billion years. However, the high gravity and low temperature necessary for such retention would result in an atmosphere far too thick for life, much thicker than that of Venus. For Earth to possibly support advanced life, something had to blow away about 99 percent of this primordial atmosphere. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2135-2140). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· According to detailed computer modeling developed in 2004, when primordial Earth was only 30 to 50 million years old, a Mars-sized planet smashed into Earth at a 45-degree angle. This planet’s speed upon impact was surprisingly slow (less than 4 kilometers per second).2 The collision: • ejected Earth’s thick, life-suffocating atmosphere. Some material eventually returned, forming a new atmosphere—one with the perfect air pressure for efficient lung performance, the ideal heat-trapping capability, and the just-right transparency for efficient photosynthesis. • supplied the optimal chemical composition so the new atmosphere could be further transformed by simple life-forms into the appropriate composition to sustain advanced life. • augmented Earth’s mass and density enough to allow the atmosphere to retain a large, but not too large, quantity of water vapor for billions of years. • raised the amount of iron in Earth’s core close to the level necessary for a strong, enduring magnetic field (the remainder came from a later collision event—see pp. 138–40). This magnetic field shields life from deadly cosmic rays and solar X-rays. • delivered just-right quantities of iron and other critical elements to Earth’s core and mantle. These produced sufficiently long-lasting, continent-building plate tectonics at just-right levels. Finely tuned plate tectonics perform a crucial role in compensating for the Sun’s increasing brightness. • increased the iron content of Earth’s crust, permitting a huge abundance of ocean life that can support advanced life.3 • salted Earth’s interior with an abundance of long-lasting radio–isotopes, the heat from which drives most of Earth’s tectonic activity and volcanism.4 • gradually slowed Earth’s rotation to a rate that eventually permitted advanced life to thrive. • stabilized Earth’s rotation axis tilt, protecting the planet from rapid and extreme climatic variations.5 • formed Earth’s moon. [2. Robin M. Canup, “Simulations of a Late Lunar-Forming Impact,” Icarus 168 (April 2004): 433–56; Herbert Palme, “The Giant Impact Formation of the Moon,” Science 304 (May 14, 2004): 977–79. 3. Louis A. Codispoti, “The Limits to Growth,” Nature 387 (May 15, 1997): 237; Kenneth H. Coale et al., “A Massive Phytoplankton Bloom Induced by an Ecosystem-Scale Iron Fertilization Experiment in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean,” Nature 383 (October 10, 1996): 495–99. 4. Peter D. Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth (New York: Copernicus/Springer-Verlag, 2000), 191–234. 5. William R. Ward, “Comments on the Long-Term Stability of the Earth’s Obliquity,” Icarus 50 (May–June 1982): 444–48; Carl D. Murray, “Seasoned Travellers,” Nature 361 (February 18, 1993): 586–87; Jacques Laskar and P. Robutel, “The Chaotic Obliquity of the Planets,” Nature 361 (February 18, 1993): 608–12; Jacques Laskar, F. Joutel, and P. Robutel, “Stabilization of the Earth’s Obliquity by the Moon,” Nature 361 (February 18, 1993): 615–17.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2140-2159). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Such an extraordinarily enormous mass ratio suggests purposeful design, especially when combined with several other extremely fine-tuned lunar features. [For a partial list, see Neil F. Comins, What If the Moon Didn’t Exist? (New York: HarperCollins, 1993).] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2163-2164). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Astronomers have calculated that between 3.9 and 3.8 billion years ago, the Late Heavy Bombardment pummeled Earth with roughly 17,000 collisions.11 These collisions deposited a total of 400,000 pounds of extraterrestrial material per square yard (220,000 kilograms per meter squared) over the entire surface of Earth.12 [11. Stephen J. Mojzsis, “Lithosphere-Hydrosphere Interactions on the Hadean (>4.0 Ga) Earth,” Astrobiology 1 (September 2001): 383; Stephen J. Mojzsis and Graham Ryder, “Accretion to Earth and Moon ~3.85 Ga,” in Accretion of Extraterrestrial Matter throughout Earth’s History, ed. Bernhard Peuckner-Ehreinbrink and Birger Schmitz (New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001), 423–26; Stephen J. Mojzsis and T. Mark Harrison, “Establishment of a 3.83-Ga Magmatic Age for the Akilia Tonalite (Southern West Greenland),” Earth and Planetary Science Letters 202 (September 2002): 563–76; Ronny Schoenberg et al., “Tungsten Isotope Evidence from ~3.8-Gyr Metamorphased Metamorphosed Sediments for Early Meteorite Bombardment of the Earth,” Nature 418 (July 25, 2002): 403. 12. Ariel D. Anbar et al., “Extraterrestrial Iridium, Sediment Accumulation and the Habitability of the Early Earth’s Surface,” Journal of Geophysical Research 106 (February 25, 2001): 3219–36; Schoenberg et al., “Tungsten Isotope Evidence,” 403–5.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2205-2207). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· From a naturalistic perspective, the origin of life required a site where amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and nucleotides (building blocks of DNA and RNA) could be efficiently concentrated and assembled. One problem, however, is that both oxygen and ultraviolet radiation are toxic to this prebiotic chemistry. They powerfully shut down any possible synthesis of amino acids and nucleotides. This oxygen-ultraviolet paradox explains why Earth contains no record of any prebiotics. The presence of oxygen halts prebiotic chemistry, whereas the lack of oxygen means no ozone shield could form in Earth’s atmosphere to prevent the penetration of ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. A few astronomers have speculated that perhaps some regions within dense interstellar molecular clouds might lack both oxygen and ultraviolet radiation and, thus, might conceivably permit prebiotics to form. However, no amino acids, nucleotides, or even the pentose sugars and nitrogenous bases that make up parts of the nucleotides have been found there. Repeated claims for the detection of the simplest amino acid (gly-cine)16 have proved false, as have claims for the detection of the simplest nitrogenous base (pyrimidine).17 [16. L. E. Snyder et al., “A Rigorous Attempt to Verify Interstellar Glycine,” Astrophysical Journal 619 (February 1, 2005): 914–30. 17. Yi-Jehng Kuan et al., “A Search for Interstellar Pyrimidine,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 345 (October 10, 2003): 650–56.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2229-2238). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· No known natural mechanism exists on Earth, past or present, for generating this homochirality.23 While some individual mineral crystals produce limited right- or left-handed enrichment (at best, about 10 percent), any natural ensemble of mineral crystals contains roughly the same number of crystals favoring production of left-handed configurations as it does those favoring right.24 Even under highly complex and carefully controlled laboratory conditions roughly simulating a realistic natural environment, chemists have struggled to produce homochiral amino acids. Only experiments exploiting 100 percent circularly polarized ultraviolet (UV) light have led to positive results. But even then, only a 20 percent excess of left-handed amino acids could be generated.25 The cost, however, was the destruction of nearly all the original amino acids. For every 2 percent excess generated, half or more of the amino acids in the original mixture were destroyed.26 [23. Jon Cohen, “Getting All Turned Around Over the Origins of Life on Earth,” Science 267 (March 3, 1995): 1265. In this article Cohen quotes one of the leading origin-of-life researchers, William Bonner. In February 1995, during the “Physical Origin of Homochirality in Life” conference held in Santa Monica, California, Bonner stated to the assembled scientists, “I spent twenty-five years looking for terrestrial mechanisms for homochirality and trying to investigate them and didn’t find any supporting evidence. Terrestrial explanations are impotent or nonviable.” 24. Robert M. Hazen, “Life’s Rocky Start,” Scientific American 284 (April 2001): 77–85. 25. G. Balavoine, A. Moradpour, and H. B. Kagan, “Preparation of Chiral Compounds with High Optical Purity by Irradiation with Circularly Polarized Light: A Model Reaction for the Prebiotic Generation of Optical Activity,” Journal of the American Chemical Society 96 (August 7, 1974): 5152–58. 26. Jose J. Flores, William A. Bonner, and Gail A. Massey, “Asymmetric Photolysis of (RS)-Leucine with Circularly Polarized Ultraviolet Light,” Journal of the American Chemical Society 99 (May 25, 1977): 3622–25.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2255-2262). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

10 Putting RTB’s Creation Model For Life’s History To The Test

· The stability and efficiency of Earth’s dynamo depends on the exact regulation of at least seven major geophysical features: 1. Relative abundances of silicon, iron, and sulfur in Earth’s solid inner core 2. Viscosities at the boundaries between this solid inner core and the liquid outer core and between the liquid outer core and the mantle 3. Ratio of Earth’s inner core to outer core radii 4. Ratio of the inner core to outer core magnetic diffusivity (measure of how well a magnetic field diffuses throughout a conducting medium) 5. Magnetic Reynolds number (a measure of viscous flow behavior) for the outer core 6. Gravitational torques from the Sun and Moon 7. Earth’s core precession frequency [Jihad Touma and Jack Wisdom, “Nonlinear Core-Mantle Coupling,” Astronomical Journal 122 (August 2001): 1030–50; Gerald Schubert and Keke Zhang, “Effects of an Electrically Conducting Inner Core on Planetary and Stellar Dynamos,” Astrophysical Journal 557 (August 20, 2001): 930–42; M. H. Acuña et al., “Magnetic Field and Plasma Observations at Mars: Initial Results of the Mars Global Surveyor Mission,” Science 279 (March 13, 1998): 1676–80; Peter Olson, “Probing Earth’s Dynamo,” Nature 389 (September 25, 1997): 337; Weijia Kuang and Jeremy Bloxham, “An Earth-Like Numerical Dynamo Model,” Nature 389 (September 25, 1997): 371–74; Xiaodong Song and Paul G. Richards, “Seismological Evidence for Differential Rotation of the Earth’s Inner Core,” Nature 382 (July 18, 1996): 221–24; Wei-jia Su, Adam M. Dziewonski, and Raymond Jeanloz, “Planet Within a Planet: Rotation of the Inner Core of the Earth,” Science 274 (December 13, 1996): 1883–87.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2456-2464). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Then two explosive events marked the appearance of complex multi-cellular life. The first, the Avalon explosion, occurred 575 million years ago.18 This event brought about the Ediacara life-forms, which included a variety of sponges and jellyfish. All the basic body plans or phyla for the Ediacara were fully present. No new phyla appeared during the subsequent 32 million years. Toward the end of that time, however, the Ediacara experienced a serious decline. [Bing Shen et al., “The Avalon Explosion: Evolution of Ediacara Morphospace,” Science 319 (January 4, 2008): 81–84.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2581-2585). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Following the Ediacarian decline, a second, much more dramatic outburst of complex life-forms occurred 543 million years ago. In a time window narrower than 2 to 3 million years (possibly much briefer), during the Cambrian explosion, some forty or more phyla of complex animals appeared (none related to the Ediacara), including at least twenty-four of the thirty animal phyla that remain on Earth today. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2585-2588). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Every species races an evolutionary clock. Certain characteristics of a particular species determine its odds of winning: • population size • average body size • average generation span (time between birth and the capacity to give birth) • abundance, variety, longevity, and stability of food sources • average number of progeny per adult • level and duration of parental care and training required for independence • complexity of morphology • complexity of biochemistry • protein-to-body-mass ratio • metabolic rate • hibernation and aestivation (summer dormancy or torpor) level • average life span • habitat size • ecological diversity of habitat • complexity of social structures • complexity of symbiotic relationships with other species [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2635-2647). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· My colleague biochemist Fazale Rana offers over a hundred examples of design convergence at the molecular level.27 Paleontologist Simon Conway Morris, in his book Life’s Solution, described dozens more at the organismal level.28 [27. Fazale Rana, The Cell’s Design (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 205–15. 28. Simon Conway Morris, Life’s Solution (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004).] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2693-2695). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· This concept of historical contingency is the theme of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould’s book Wonderful Life: No finale can be specified at the start, none would ever occur a second time in the same way, because any pathway proceeds through thousands of improbable stages. Alter any early event, ever so slightly, and without apparent importance at the time, and evolution cascades into a radically different channel. [Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1989), 51.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2698-2702). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Life influences the amount of heat and light Earth’s surface reflects into outer space.33 That amount determines whether Earth remains inhabitable or experiences a runaway freeze-up or a runaway boil-off. The kinds and quantities of life on Earth’s continental landmasses impact the cycling of silica, a substance that buffers soil acidification, regulates atmospheric carbon dioxide, and provides an important nutrient for both marine and terrestrial life-forms.34 [33. Neville J. Woolf, “What Is an Earth-Like Planet?” Abstract #926, Abstracts of the Biennial Meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, April 10–14, 2005, Astrobiology 5 (April 2005): 200. 34. Isabelle Basile-Doelsch, Jean Dominique Meunier, and Claude Parron, “Another Continental Pool in the Terrestrial Silicon Cycle,” Nature 433 (January 27, 2005): 399–402; Philip W. Boyd et al., “The Decline and Fate of an Iron-Induced Subarctic Phytoplankton Bloom,” Nature 428 (April 1, 2004): 549–53.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2745-2749). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

11 Putting RTB’s Creation Model For Advanced Life To The Test

· The perfectly timed appearances of the first and progressively more advanced vascular plants testifies of careful planning and design for the benefit of all life—most especially for birds, mammals, and humans. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2790-2791). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Most of Earth’s species can be explained in purely physical terms. But birds and mammals are different. In addition to their physical features, they manifest the capacity to express emotions and form lifelong nurturing relationships. These animals exhibit a freedom to choose apart from instinct. They possess a mind capable of exploring new experiences and solving problems. Such creatures bond with members of their own species and can form relationships with members of other bird and mammal species. Most especially, soulish animals can form emotional attachments with humans. Typically creation/evolution discussions largely ignore the issue of how soulishness originated. When pressed, naturalists and most theistic evolutionists insist that physical explanations exist for every soulish attribute. Yet they cannot describe where these soulish attributes came from. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2792-2799). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· A study of four thousand land mammal species spanning a body-mass range from 2 grams to 4,000 kilograms showed that the potential of extinction risk against six established predictors (environmental and species intrinsic traits) becomes greater with increasing body mass.5 In particular, a sharp increase in extinction risk occurs at a body mass of three kilograms. Above this size “extinction risk begins to be compounded by the cumulative effects of multiple threatening factors.”6 An independent study established a much greater accumulation of deleterious mutations for large body–sized mammals.7 The two studies combined establish that land mammals with large body sizes possess extinction rates much higher than those for smaller animals. Meanwhile, molecular studies demonstrate that larger animals with their lower metabolic rates and longer generation times have much slower rates of evolution.8 The bottom line is that large-bodied land mammals experience extinction rates far higher than the most optimistic naturalistic speciation rates. Consequently, large body–sized mammals cannot be the product of natural process or theistic evolution. Such high-extinction rates and slow-evolution rates also falsify young-earth creationism with its appeal to the rapid evolution of large-bodied animals after Adam’s sin and the flood.9 [5. Marcel Cardillo et al., “Multiple Causes of High Extinction Risk in Large Mammal Species,” Science 309 (August 19, 2005): 1239–41. 6. Ibid., 1240. 7. Konstantin Popadin et al., “Accumulation of Slightly Deleterious Mutations in Mi-tochondrial Protein-Coding Genes of Large Versus Small Mammals,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104 (August 6, 2007): 13390–95. 8. A. P. Martin and S. R. Palumbi, “Body Size, Metabolic-Rate, Generation Time, and the Molecular Clock,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 90 (May 1, 1993): 4087–91; James F. Gillooly et al., “The Rate of DNA Evolution: Effects of Body Size and Temperature on the Molecular Clock,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 102 (January 4, 2005): 140–45. 9. For an explanation and documentation see my book A Matter of Days (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004), 121–29.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2807-2817). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· All bird and mammal species predate humans. Yet many of them appear specifically designed to either benefit the needs of humanity or bring people pleasure. Furthermore, each of these species appears designed in distinctly different ways to carry out these purposes. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2822-2823). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Herbivores are mammals that sustain humanity’s agricultural enterprises. The first such beasts domesticated on a large scale were goats.10 It’s easy to see why. Even goats that have never seen a human will readily approach and follow one. They can eat almost anything and thrive in virtually all climate conditions. These mammals provide their owners with a wide range of agricultural products for very little cost. Goats seem perfectly designed to catapult the first humans into animal husbandry. Besides goats, many other bird and mammal species seem much better designed to meet humanity’s needs than even their own. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2834-2839). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The wide variety of ways in which birds and mammals express their soulish characteristics presents problems for any naturalist and most theistic evolutionary models. For such models to have credibility, bird and mammal species that are physically similar to one another should also be soulishly similar. The following example is only one of many that challenge this premise. Donkeys, horses, and zebras are physically so similar that humans have easily crossbred them to make mules, zorses, and zebrasses. Their soulish characteristics, however, are markedly different. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2844-2848). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Horses can form strong emotional bonds with their human owners. They will forgive cruelty. If treated well, they’ll sacrifice their own needs and even their lives to protect their owners. Loyalty to their human owners can be so strong that they will charge into battle with them. Donkeys are extremely adaptable. Like horses, they can form a lifelong emotional bond with a human. However, if a human loses his donkey, the donkey can take care of itself under almost any circumstances. It easily transitions from domestication to living in the wild and from living in the wild back to domestication. Unlike the horse, the donkey hates danger and provides useful service in warning its human owner of impending risks. Zebras are much more difficult to domesticate, harness, and ride than either horses or donkeys. However, they are more alert to imminent danger and much hardier. In the wild, zebras form dense herds providing human hunters an easy, productive source of food and leather. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2849-2856). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

12 Putting RTB’s Creation Model For The Origin And History Of Humanity To The Test

· Nontheistic models adhere to a central premise that humans arose by strictly natural unguided steps from a bacterial life-form that sprang into being 3.8 billion years ago. Famed evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala, an advocate for the hypothesis that natural selection and mutations can efficiently generate distinctly different species, nevertheless calculated the probability that humans (or a similarly intelligent species) arose from single-celled organisms as a possibility so small (10-1,000,000) that it might as well be zero (roughly equivalent to the likelihood of winning the California lottery 150,000 consecutive times with the purchase of just one ticket each time).2 He and other evolutionary biologists agree that natural selection and mutations could have yielded any of a virtually infinite number of other outcomes. [Quoted by Frank J. Tipler in “Intelligent Life in Cosmology,” International Journal of Astrobiology 2 (2003): 142.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2898-2904). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Astrophysicists Brandon Carter, John Barrow, and Frank Tipler produced an even smaller probability. Not only does the presumed natural evolution of an intelligent species necessitate a stunningly large number of improbable biological events, it also demands unlikely changes in the physics, geology, and chemistry of Earth and the solar system. For a species as technically capable as humans to arise from a suite of bacterial species in ten billion years or less, the probability was determined at 10-24,000,000.3 For comparison, the probability of randomly picking a single marked proton out of all the protons in the observable universe is 10-79. [Brandon Carter, “The Anthropic Principle and Its Implications for Biological Evolution,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 310 (December 20, 1983): 347–60; John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 510–73.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2904-2909). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The origin of humanity is a critical distinguishing factor for creation/ evolution models. Findings that prove humans emerged naturally from previously existing species in various regions rather than from one couple living in one region within the last 100,000 years would certainly deal RTB’s biblical model a severe blow. The model could also be falsified if researchers decisively demonstrated that humans possess no unique characteristics unaccounted for by superior intelligence alone. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2913-2916). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Geneticists have recovered mtDNA from humans dating as far back as 25,000 years.5 The range of diversity for human mtDNA does not overlap Neanderthal in any way. This observation, coupled with marked differences in their mtDNA, establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that Neanderthals made no contribution to the human gene pool. They have been eliminated as a possible ancestor. Dates for Homo erectus range from 1.8 to 0.5 million years ago, with some evidence suggesting dates as recent as 100,000 years ago. Given the rate of DNA decay, these dates leave little hope of recovering Homo erectus DNA pristine enough for meaningful comparisons with either Neanderthals or humans. Nevertheless, Homo erectus fossils are sufficiently abundant for testing this hominid’s role, if any, in humanity’s lineage. [David Caramelli et al., “Evidence for a Genetic Discontinuity between Neander-tals and 24,000-Year-Old Anatomically Modern Europeans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100 (May 27, 2003): 6593–97; Oliva Handt et al., “Molecular Genetic Analyses of the Tyrolean Ice Man,” Science 264 (June 17, 1994): 1775–78; Giulietta Di Benedetto et al., “Mitochondrial DNA Sequences in Prehistoric Human Remains from the Alps,” European Journal of Human Genetics 8 (September 2000): 669–77.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2932-2938). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· A discovery that the most ancient fossils for Homo erectus are indistinguishable from the most recent shows that Homo erectus remained static, experiencing no more significant change with respect to time than either Neanderthals or humans. Because Homo erectus manifests morphological features radically different from either humans or Neanderthals and because all three species experienced no observable evolutionary change, it is highly unlikely that Homo erectus was the ancestor of Neanderthals, archaic Homo sapiens, or modern humans. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2940-2943). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Mitochondrial DNA also allows scientists to investigate the originators of the human race, where they came from, and approximately when. This mtDNA evidence establishes that humans descended from one woman (or a very few women) in a single location.8 Likewise, Y-chromosomal evidence confirms that humanity descended from one man (or a very few men) from the same location.9 With obvious biblical overtones, geneticists refer to humanity’s mtDNA ancestor as mitochondrial Eve, and to the Y-chromosome ancestor as Y-chromosomal Adam. Scientists call the location where they originated the Garden of Eden. [8. Linda Vigilant et al., “African Populations and the Evolution of Human Mitochondrial DNA,” Science 253 (September 27, 1991): 1503–7; Margellen Ruvolo et al., “Mitochondrial COII Sequence and Modern Human Origins,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 10 (November 1993): 1115–35; Stephen T. Sherry et al., “Mismatch Distributions of mtDNA Reveal Recent Human Population Expansions,” Human Biology 66 (October 1994): 761–75; Satoshi Horai et al., “Recent African Origin of Modern Humans Revealed by Complete Sequences of Hominoid Mitochondrial DNAs,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 92 (January 17, 1995): 532–36; Masami Hasegawa and Satoshi Horai, “Time of the Deepest Root for Polymorphism in Human Mitochondrial DNA,” Journal of Molecular Evolution 32 (January 1991): 37–42; Mark Stoneking et al., “New Approaches to Dating Suggest a Recent Age for the Human mtDNA Ancestor,” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 337 (August 29, 1992): 167–75; Max Ingman et al., “Mitochondrial Genome Variation and the Origin of Modern Humans,” Nature 408 (December 7, 2000): 708–13; S. Blair Hedges, “A Start for Population Genomics,” Nature 408 (December 7, 2000): 652–53; Ann Gibbons, “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” Science 279 (January 2, 1998): 28–29. For a thorough review of the genetic origins of human beings see Rana with Ross, Who Was Adam? 9. L. Simon Whitfield, John E. Sulston, and Peter N. Goodfellow, “Sequence Variation of the Human Y Chromosome,” Nature 378 (November 23, 1995): 379–80; Jonathan K. Pritchard et al., “Population Growth of Human Y Chromosomes: A Study of Y Chromosome Microsatellites,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 16 (December 1999): 1791–98; Russell Thomson et al., “Recent Common Ancestry of Human Y Chromosomes: Evidence from DNA Sequence Data,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (June 20, 2000): 7360–65; Peter A. Underhill et al., “Y Chromosome Sequence Variation and the History of Human Populations,” Nature Genetics 26 (November 2000): 358–61; Ann Gibbons, “Y Chromosome Shows That Adam Was an African,” Science 278 (October 31, 1997): 804–5; Mark Seielstad et al., “A View of Modern Human Origins from Y Chromosome Microsatellite Variation,” Genome Research 9 (June 1999): 558–67; Ornelia Semino et al., “Ethiopians and Khoisan Share the Deepest Clades of the Human Y Chromosome Phylogeny,” American Journal of Human Genetics 70 (January 1, 2002): 265–68. For a thorough review of the genetic origins of human beings see Rana with Ross, Who Was Adam?] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2955-2959). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· According to the analysis this location is in eastern Africa, not Mesopotamia, the traditional biblical site. Both locations, however, are questionable. The Bible mentions four rivers coming out of Eden: the Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and Euphrates (see Gen. 2:10–14). The Pishon is said to flow through Havilah, the Gihon through Cush, and the Tigris through eastern Asshur. Most scholars identify Havilah as central Arabia, Cush as eastern Africa, and Asshur as Mesopotamia. Geologist Ward Sanford has identified two ancient riverbeds that flow into the southern part of the Persian Gulf near the border between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.10 One riverbed extends into central Arabia, the other into its southernmost tip. [Ward E. Sanford, “Thoughts on Eden, the Flood, and the Persian Gulf,” The News! Newsletter for the Affiliation of Christian Geologists 7, Number 1 (Spring 1999).] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2960-2965). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The mtDNA and Y-chromosome identification of the east African site is based on the observation that the people living there manifested the greatest genetic diversity of all humanity’s ethnic groups and on the assumption that human migration and mating was random. These practices, however, were far from haphazard. Both the Bible (see Gen. 10:1–11:9) and archaeological evidence testify to the early rapid migration of humanity from a single location to many distant lands.11 Then people ceased migrating and settled in their chosen destinations. [Vincent Macaulay et al., “Single, Rapid Coastal Settlement of Asia Revealed by Analysis of Complete Mitochondrial Genomes,” Science 308 (May 15, 2005): 1034–36.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2969-2973). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· New research, however, indicates that the widely advertised 98 to 99 percent similarity between chimpanzee and human DNA is greatly exaggerated. Such claims were based on small segments of the human and chimpanzee genomes where common sense dictates that similarities would be the greatest. While comparisons between the complete human and chimpanzee genomes have yet to be done, the most complete analyses performed so far show that the similarity is closer to 85 to 90 percent. [Tatsuya Anzai et al., “Comparative Sequencing of Human and Chimpanzee MHC Class I Regions Unveils Insertions/Deletions as the Major Path to Genomic Divergence,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100 (June 24, 2003): 7708–13; J. W. Thomas et al., “Comparative Analyses of Multi-Species Sequences from Targeted Genomic Regions,” Nature 424 (August 14, 2003): 788–93; Ulfur Arnason, Xiufung Xu, and Anette Gullberg, “Comparison between the Complete Mitochondrial DNA Sequences of Homo and the Common Chimpanzee Based on Nonchimeric Sequences,” Journal of Molecular Evolution 42 (February 1996): 145–52; The International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium, “DNA Sequence and Comparative Analysis of Chimpanzee Chromosome 22,” Nature 429 (May 27, 2004): 382–88; Jean Weissenbach, “Genome Sequencing: Differences with the Relatives,” Nature 429 (May 27, 2004): 353–55.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2985-2988). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· DNA date. Geneticists have calculated the date for the first Y-chromosomal man between 42,000 to 60,000 years ago.14 For the first mtDNA woman, the date reflects a much wider error bar, 170,000 ± 50,000 years ago.15 This mtDNA date assumes universal homoplasmy (that all humans possess only one set of mtDNA). However, studies show that 10 to 20 percent of the human population possesses two sets of mtDNA (heteroplasmy), and nearly 1 percent has three sets (triplasmy).16 Calculations based on these new findings place the date for the first mtDNA woman closer to 50,000 years ago, in line with the Y-chromosome date.17 It also corresponds with the biblical date for Adam and Eve’s creation based on reasonable calibration of the Genesis genealogies.18 The dates for the explosive emergence of advanced art, advanced tools, complex language, clothing, and jewelry corroborate this timing. [14. Pritchard et al., “Population Growth,” 1791–98; Thomson et al., “Recent Common Ancestry,” 7360–65; Underhill et al., “Y Chromosome Sequence Variation,” 358–61; Whitfield, Sulston, and Goodfellow, “Sequence Variation,” 379–80. 15. Ingman et al., “Mitochondrial Genome Variation,” 708–13; Hedges, “Start for Population Genomics,” 652–53. 16. Lois A. Tully et al., “A Sensitive Denaturing Gradient-Gel Electrophoresis Assay Reveals a High Frequency of Heteroplasmy in Hypervariable Region 1 of the Human mtDNA Control Region,” American Journal of Human Genetics 67 (August 2000): 432–43; Gibbons, “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” 28–29. 17. Gibbons, “Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock,” 28–29; Hugh Ross and Sam Conner, “Eve’s Secret to Growing Younger,” Facts & Faith, first quarter 1998, 1–2. 18. Rana with Ross, Who Was Adam? 46–47.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 2998-3006). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Why Did God Create Hominids? From a biblical perspective, God possesses complete knowledge of the future. He knew before creating any hominids that future humans would rebel against his authority and become selfish and dangerously harmful to each other and the environment. The many bird and mammal species driven to extinction sadly testifies to such abuse. Of the 15,000 to 20,000 bird species present at the time of humanity’s origin, only about 9,000 remain. Of approximately 8,000 land mammal species, only about 4,000 are left.19 Humans have devastated the very creatures God supplied to improve humanity’s quality of life. Perhaps this impact would have been even worse had God not created a series of progressively more advanced hominids. [19. Gary K. Meffe, C. Ronald Carroll, and contributors, Principles of Conservation Biology, 2nd ed. (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 1997), 87–156; John Alroy, “A Multispecies Overkill Simulation of the End-Pleistocene Megafaunal Mass Extinction,” Science 292 (June 285 8, 2001): 1893–96; Richard G. Roberts et al., “New Ages for the Last Australian Megafauna: Continent-Wide Extinction About 46,000 Years Ago,” Science 292 (June 8, 2001): 1888–92; Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich, Extinction (New York: Ballantine Books, 1981), 20–21; Jeffrey K. McKee et al., “Forecasting Global Biodiversity Threats Associated with Human Population Growth,” Biological Conservation 115 (January 2004): 161–64; Leigh Dayton, “Mass Extinctions Pinned on Ice Age Hunters,” Science 292 (June 8, 2001): 1819; Gerardo Ceballos and Paul R. Ehrlich, “Mammal Population Losses and the Extinction Crisis,” Science 296 (May 3, 2002): 904–7; David W. Steadman, “Prehistoric Extinctions of Pacific Island Birds: Biodi-versity Meets Zooarchaeology,” Science 267 (February 24, 1995): 1123–31; “Human Impact on the Earth: Journey into New Worlds,” The Sacred Balance, http://www.sacredbalance.com/web/drilldown.html?sku=35 (accessed June 29, 2005).] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3013-3018). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

13 Putting RTB’s Creation Model To The “Why” Question Test

· why would an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator: • take ten billion years to prepare the cosmos for life? • take more than four billion years to prepare Earth for human life? • fill the universe with so much empty space? • make the universe so predominantly dark? • make so many lifeless galaxies, stars, planets, and moons? • choose the physical laws that he did? • choose the cosmic space-time dimensions that he did? • endow the universe with so much decay? • cause humans to suffer so much? • grant humans such a very brief window of time in which they can exist? Other important questions have also refined and expanded RTB’s creation model. These include, why would: • a loving Creator make carnivores, detritivores, and parasites? • an intelligent, supernatural Creator make “junk DNA”? • “bad designs” exist in nature? • a caring Creator expose all his creatures to so many destructive “acts of God” such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, floods, drought, and wildfires? [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3121-3134). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· For decades this explanation satisfied curiosity. Many scientists considered junk DNA powerful evidence for naturalistic evolution.4 When identical segments of junk DNA appeared (often in the same genome location) in a set of species that from an evolutionary perspective are related to one another, evolutionists drew what they considered an obvious conclusion: respective junk DNA segments arose prior to these organisms’ divergence from a shared ancestor.5 [4. Edward E. Max, “Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics: Another Argument in the Evolution-Creation Controversy,” The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/molgen (accessed May 9, 2005). 5. Ibid.; Lodish et al., Molecular Cell Biology, 299–301, 303.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3205-3208). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· After more than thirty years of referring to DNA that does not code for the manufacture of proteins as “junk,” geneticists have discovered five kinds of nonprotein-coding DNA—pseudogenes, SINES, LINES, endogenous retrovi-ruses, and LTRs—that perform life-critical functions. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3222-3224). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Pseudogenes got their name from the assumption that certain DNA segments are the dead, useless remains of genes that many generations ago coded for proteins. Recent experiments, however, show that many pseudo-genes are not useless. When certain pseudogenes were turned off, the organism suffered either fatal or injurious consequences.8 Geneticists now realize that these pseudogenes somehow protected the protein-coding genes from breakdown or malfunction. Other pseudogenes were found to actually encode for functional proteins.9 Still other pseudogenes were misidentified and later discovered to encode for the construction of molecules once thought to serve no purpose.10 [8. Sergei A. Korneev, Ji-Ho Park, and Michael O’Shea, “Neuronal Expression of Neural Nitric Oxide Synthase (nNOS) Protein Is Suppressed by an Antisense RNA Transcribed from an NOS Pseudogene,” Journal of Neuroscience 19 (September 15, 1999): 7711–20; Shinji Hirotsune et al., “An Expressed Pseudogene Regulates the Messenger-RNA Stability of Its Homologous Coding Gene,” Nature 423 (May 1, 2003): 91–96; Jeannie T. Lee, “Complicity of Gene and Pseudogene,” Nature 423 (May 1, 2003): 26–28; Evgeniy S. Balakirev and Francisco J. Ayala, “Pseudogenes: Are They ‘Junk’ or Functional DNA?” Annual Reviews of Genetics 37 (December 2003): 123–51. 9. Esther Betrán et al., “Evolution of the Phosphoglycerate mutase Processed Gene in Human and Chimpanzee Revealing the Origin of a New Primate Gene,” Molecular Biology and Evolution 19 (May 2002): 654–63. 10. Christopher B. Marshall, Garth L. Fletcher, and Peter L. Davies, “Hyperactive Antifreeze Protein in a Fish,” Nature 429 (May 13, 2004): 153.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3225-3230). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· SINES is an acronym for short-interspersed nuclear elements. Emerging research shows that these DNA elements serve at least two distinct purposes. Some help protect the cell when it experiences stress.11 Others help regulate the expression of the protein-coding genes.12 [11. Wen-Man Liu et al., “Cell Stress and Translational Inhibitors Transiently Increase the Abundance of Mammalian SINE Transcripts,” Nucleic Acid Research 23 (May 25, 1995): 1758–65; Tzu-Huey Li et al., “Physiological Stresses Increase Mouse Short Interspersed Element (SINE) RNA Expression in vivo,” Gene 239 (November 1, 1999): 367–72; Richard H. Kimura, Prabhakara V. Choudary, and Carl W. Schmid, “Silk Worm Bm1 SINE RNA Increases following Cellular Insults,” Nucleic Acids Research 27 (August 15, 1999): 3380–87; Wen-Ming Chu et al., “Potential Alu Function: Regulation of the Activity of Double-Stranded RNA-Activated Kinase PKR,” Molecular and Cellular Biology 18 (January 1998): 58–68. 12. Wen-Man Liu et al., “Alu Transcripts: Cytoplasmic Localisation and Regulation by DNA Methylation,” Nucleic Acid Research 22 (March 25, 1994): 1087–95; Wen-Man Liu and Carl W. Schmid, “Proposed Roles for DNA Methylation in Alu Transcriptional Repression and Mutational Inactivation,” Nucleic Acid Research 21 (March 25, 1993): 1351–59; Carol M. Rubin et al., “Alu Repeated DNAs Are Differentially Methylated in Primate Germ Cells,” Nucleic Acid Research 22 (November 25, 1994): 5121–27; Igor N. Chesnokov and Carl W. Schmid, “Specific Alu Binding Protein from Human Sperm Chromatin Prevents DNA Methylation,” Journal of Biological Chemistry 270 (August 4, 1995): 18539–42; Utha Hellman-Blumberg et al., “Developmental Differences in Methylation of Human Alu Repeats,” Molecular and Cellular Biology 13 (August 1993): 4523–30.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3231-3233). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· LINES is an acronym for long-interspersed nuclear elements. Recent findings show that some LINES play a central role in X-chromosome inactivation.13 When such inactivation fails, serious genetic disorders result.14 Another discovered LINES function is to turn off one of the two protein-coding genes inherited from an individual’s parents.15 [13. Jeffrey A. Bailey et al., “Molecular Evidence for a Relationship between LINE-1 Elements and X Chromosome Inactivation: The Lyon Repeat Hypothesis,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (June 6, 2000): 6634–39; Mary F. Lyon, “LINE-1 Elements and X Chromosome Inactivation: A Function for ‘Junk’ DNA?” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (June 6, 2000): 6248–49. 14. Edith Heard, Philippe Clerc, and Philip Avner, “X-Chromosome Inactivation in Mammals,” Annual Review of Genetics 31 (December 1997): 571–610; Jack J. Pasternak, An Introduction to Human Molecular Genetics: Mechanisms of Inherited Diseases (Bethesda, MD: Fitzgerald Science Press, 1999), 31–32. 15. Elena Allen et al., “High Concentrations of Long Interspersed Nuclear Element Sequence Distinguish Monoallelically Expressed Genes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100 (August 19, 2003): 9940–45.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3234-3237). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Endogenous Retroviruses were once presumed by evolutionists to be the product of retroviral infections. Scientists hypothesized that retroviral DNA becomes incorporated into the host’s genome. New research, however, shows that many endogenous retroviruses protect the organism from retroviral infections by disrupting the life cycle of invading retroviruses.16 Others function as protein-coding genes.17 [16. Alan G. Atherly, Jack R. Girton, and John F. McDonald, The Science of Genetics (Fort Worth: Saunders College Publishing, 2000), 597–608; Greg Towers et al., “A Conserved Mechanism of Retrovirus Restriction in Mammals,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 97 (October 24, 2000): 12295–99; Jonathan P. Stoye, “An Intracellular Block to Primate Lentivirus Replication,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 99 (September 3, 2002): 11549–51; Theodora Hatziioannou et al., “Restriction of Multiple Divergent Retroviruses by Lv1 and Ref1,” European Molecular Biology Organization Journal 22 (February 3, 2003): 385–94. 17. François Mallet et al., “The Endogenous Retroviral Locus ERVWE1 Is a Bona Fide Gene Involved in Hominoid Placental Physiology,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 101 (February 2, 2004): 1731–36.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3237-3240). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· LTRs, an acronym for long-terminal repeats, were once thought to originate from endogenous retroviruses. Recent studies show that several LTRs play crucial roles in protecting organisms from retroviral attacks.18 Other research demonstrates that some LTRs help regulate the expression of certain protein-coding genes.19 [18. Clare Lynch and Michael Tristem, “A Co-opted Gypsy-Type LTR-Retrotransposon Is Conserved in the Genomes of Humans, Sheep, Mice, and Rats,” Current Biology 13 (September 2, 2003): 1518–23. 19. Wenhu Pi et al., “The LTR Enhancer of ERV-9 Human Endogenous Retrovirus Is Active in Oocytes and Progenitor Cells in Transgenic Zebrafish and Humans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 101 (January 20, 2004): 805–10; Catherine A. Dunn, Patrik Medstrand, and Dixie L. Mager, “An Endogenous Retroviral Long Terminal Repeat Is the Dominant Promoter for Human β1,3-Galactosyltransferase 5 in the Colon,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 100 (October 8, 2003): 12841–46.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3241-3244). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· The Panda’s “Clumsy” Thumb Perhaps the most famous examples of so-called “bad designs” in nature are those identified by Stephen Jay Gould in his book The Panda’s Thumb. Gould viewed the giant panda’s thumb as a clumsy contraption, an evolutionary adaptation of wrist bone material, not the work of a divine Designer. [Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb (New York: Norton, 1980), 24.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3250-3253). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· While rebuttals to this argument have been published since the mid-1980s,21 a study reported in 1999 offers the most rigorous response. Six Japanese biologists used three-dimensional computed axial tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (CAT and MRI scans) to determine that “the radial sesamoid bone and accessory carpal bone form a double pincer-like apparatus in the medial and lateral sides of the hand, respectively, enabling the panda to manipulate objects with great dexterity.”22 In the close of their paper, the Japanese biologists concluded, “The hand of the giant panda has a much more refined grasping mechanism than has been suggested in previous morphological models.”23 Their conclusions were confirmed by field observations of three pandas. Those studies showed the wrist flexion and manipulation of the double-pincer capacities are essential aspects of the panda’s specialized food gathering and feeding. [21. Peter Gordon, “The Panda’s Thumb Revisited: An Analysis of Two Arguments Against Design,” Origins Research 7 (Spring/Summer 1984): 12–14. 22. Hideki Endo et al., “Role of the Giant Panda’s ‘Pseudo-Thumb,’ ” Nature 397 (January 28, 1999): 309. 23. Ibid., 310.] [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3253-3260). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Not too long ago, in the same way the removal of tonsils and adenoids was common when I was a child, surgeons routinely removed the appendix during abdominal surgery. They presumed, as they were taught, that the appendix was a useless by-product of humanity’s evolutionary history. These practices stopped with the discovery that the tonsils, adenoids, and appendix play important roles in the human immune system. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3261-3264). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Likewise, textbooks on anatomy once claimed that the “tailbone” at the base of the human spine was a useless residual of humanity’s descent from long-tailed primates. As a result of research into the engineering dynamics of the human spine, anatomists now recognize that the human tailbone and in fact all the bones of the human spine, as well as its S-shape, are exquisitely designed to facilitate extended periods of running, walking, standing, sitting, and load carrying. [Hugh Ross: More Than a Theory (Revealing a Testable Model for Creation) (Kindle Locations 3265-3268). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]

· Any Creator powerful enough to create the universe could completely rid Earth of hurricanes and tornadoes. The costs, however, would include at leas