15 Answers to John Rennie and Scientific American’s Nonsense--Argument #15
||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
15. [Creationists suggest that] recent discoveries prove that even at the microscopic level, life has a quality of complexity that could not have come about through evolution.
Yes, Mr. Rennie, creationists do suggest that “even at the microscopic level, life has a quality of complexity that could not have come about through evolution,” but must instead have been designed. Consider the human body as the penultimate proof that “complexity.” In speaking of the human body as a whole, one evolutionist wrote:
When you come right down to it, the most incredible creation in the universe is you—with your fantastic senses and strengths, your ingenious defense systems, and mental capabilities so great you can never use them to the fullest. Your body is a structural masterpiece more amazing than science fiction (Guinness, 1987, p. 5).
Could a rational person really be expected to conclude that the “structural masterpiece” we call the human body—with all of its “ingenious” systems and its “highly endowed organization”—is the result of undirected evolutionary processes operating over eons of time in nature? Or is it more logical to conclude that the body is the result of purposeful design by a Master Designer?
From an organizational standpoint, the human body may be considered at four different levels. First, there are cells, which represent the smallest unit of life. Second, there are tissues (muscle tissue, nerve tissue, etc.), which are groups of the same types of cells carrying on the same kind of activity. Third, there are organs (heart, liver, etc.), which are groups of tissues working together in unison. Fourth, there are systems (reproductive system, circulatory system, etc.), which are composed of groups of organs carrying out specific bodily functions. To the unbiased, it should be obvious that the physical body has been marvelously designed and intricately organized for the purpose of facilitating human existence upon the Earth.
THE BODY’S CELLS
A human body is composed of over 250 different kinds of cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, muscle cells, fat cells, nerve cells, etc.—Baldi, 2001, p. 147), totaling approximately 100 trillion cells in an average adult (Fukuyama, 2002, p. 58). These cells come in a variety of sizes and shapes, with different functions and life expectancies. For example, some cells (e.g., male spermatozoa) are so small that 20,000 would fit inside a capital “O” from a standard typewriter, each being only 0.05 mm long. Some cells, placed end-to-end, would make only one inch if 6,000 were assembled together. Yet all the cells of the human body, if set end-to-end, would encircle the Earth over 200 times. Even the largest cell of the human body, the female ovum, is unbelievably small, being only 0.01 of an inch in diameter.
Paul Ferrigno admitted: “The complexity of Millennium domes, Eiffel towers and ‘Ferris wheels’ are likely just pale reflections of life at the heart of the cell” (2000, p. 366). Each cell possesses organelles such as ribosomes, mitochondria, Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, and a nucleus—all of which play vital roles in keeping the organism alive. While all of these microscopic organelles point to an intelligent designer, the truly amazing intricate complexity of a cell is observed within the nucleus, for it is within the nucleus that the DNA—or genetic code—is to be found.
Cells have three major components. First, each cell is composed of a cell membrane that encloses the organism. Second, inside the cell is a three-dimensional cytoplasm—a watery matrix containing specialized organelles. Third, within the cytoplasm is the nucleus, which contains most of the genetic material, and which serves as the control center of the cell.
The lipoprotein cell membrane (lipids/proteins/lipids—known as a bilipid membrane) is approximately 0.06-0.08 of a micrometer thick, yet allows selective transport into, and out of, the cell. Evolutionist Ernest Borek has observed: “The membrane recognizes with its uncanny molecular memory the hundreds of compounds swimming around it and permits or denies passage according to the cell’s requirements” (1973, p. 5).
Inside the cytoplasm, there are over 20 different chemical reactions occurring at any one time, with each cell containing five major components for: (1) communication; (2) waste disposal; (3) nutrition; (4) repair; and (5) reproduction. Within this watery matrix there are such organelles as the mitochondria (over 1,000 per cell in many instances) that provide the cell with its energy. The endoplasmic reticulum is a “...transport system designed to carry materials from one part of the cell to the other” (Pfeiffer, 1964, p. 13). Ribosomes are miniature protein-producing factories. Golgi bodies store the proteins manufactured by the ribosomes. Lysozomes within the cytoplasm function as garbage disposal units.
The nucleus is the control center of the cell, and is separated from the cytoplasm by a nuclear membrane. Within the nucleus is the genetic machinery of the cell (chromosomes and genes containing deoxyribonucleic acid—DNA). The DNA is a supermolecule that carries the coded information for the replication of the cell. If the DNA from a single human cell were removed from the nucleus and unraveled (it is found in the cell in a spiral configuration), it would be approximately six feet long, and would contain over 3 billion base pairs. It has been estimated that if all the DNA in an adult human were placed end-to-end, it would reach to the Sun and back (186 million miles) 400 times.
If transcribed into English, the chemical code (deoxyribonucleic acid—DNA) in the human genome (i.e, in a spermatozoon or ovum) would fill a 300-volume set of encyclopedias of approximately 2,000 pages each (Baldi, p. 21). Yet just as amazing is the fact that all the genetic information needed to reproduce the entire human population (around six billion people) could be placed into a space of about one-eighth of a square inch. In comparing the amount of information contained in the DNA molecule with a much larger computer microchip, evolutionist Irvin Block remarked: “We marvel at the feats of memory and transcription accomplished by computer microchips, but these are gargantuan compared to the protein granules of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA” (1980, p. 52).
It also should be noted that the DNA molecule does something that we as humans have yet to accomplish: it stores coded information in a chemical format and then uses a biologic agent (RNA) to decode and activate it. As Darrel Kautz stated: “Human technology has not yet advanced to the point of storing information chemically as it is in the DNA molecule” (1988, p. 45, emp. in orig.; see also Jackson, 1993, pp. 11-12). The intricate and complex nature of the DNA molecule—combined with the staggering amount of chemically coded information that it contains—speaks unerringly to the fact that this “supermolecule” simply could not have come into existence due to blind chance and random natural forces operating through eons of time, as evolutionists have claimed. This is not an adequate explanation for the inherent complexity of the DNA molecule. Does coded information happen by chance? And could the decoding system (RNA and ribosomes) just happen by chance as well? Hardly.
What, then, may we say about the infinitely more complex genetic code found within the DNA in each cell? Sir Fred Hoyle concluded that the notion that the code’s complexity could be arrived at by chance is “nonsense of a high order” (1981a, p. 527). In their classic text on the origin of life, Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen addressed the implications of the genetic code found within the DNA molecule.
We know that in numerous cases certain effects always have intelligent causes, such as dictionaries, sculptures, machines and paintings. We reason by analogy that similar effects have intelligent causes. For example, after looking up to see “BUY FORD” spelled out in smoke across the sky we infer the presence of a skywriter even if we heard or saw no airplane. We would similarly conclude the presence of intelligent activity were we to come upon an elephant-shaped topiary in a cedar forest.
In like manner an intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence....
We believe that if this question is considered, it will be seen that most often it is answered in the negative simply because it is thought to be inappropriate to bring a Creator into science (1984, pp. 211-212, emp. in orig.).
The complexity and intricacy of the DNA molecule—combined with the staggering amount of chemically coded information it contains—speak unerringly to the fact that this “supermolecule” simply could not have happened by blind chance. As Andrews has observed:
It is not possible for a code, of any kind, to arise by chance or accident.... A code is the work of an intelligent mind. Even the cleverest dog or chimpanzee could not work out a code of any kind. It is obvious then that chance cannot do it.... This could no more have been the work of chance or accident than could the “Moonlight Sonata” be played by mice running up and down the keyboard of my piano! Codes do not arise from chaos (1978, pp. 28-29).
Indeed, codes do not arise from chaos. Richard Dawkins (quoted earlier) correctly remarked: “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially, the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer” (1982, p. 130, emp. added). But it hardly is “superficial” to suggest that the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer. You cannot hide the complexity of life Mr. Rennie. The fact is, an intelligent Designer is demanded by the evidence!
THE BODY’S TISSUES
In the human body, there are numerous tissues (e.g., muscle tissues, nerve tissues, etc.). In fact, a single human has more than 600 muscles (containing about six billion muscle fibers), composing about 40% of the body’s weight. Muscles are the “engines” that the body uses to provide the power for movement. Some muscles are tiny (such as those regulating the amount of light entering the eye), while others (like those in the legs) are massive.
Muscles may be classified either as “voluntary” (i.e., under the control of the human will), or “involuntary” (i.e., not under control of the will). The voluntary muscles of the arms, for example, are attached to the bones by tough cords of connective tissue called tendons. One must “think” in order to move these muscles. The involuntary muscles are those whose contraction and relaxation are not controlled consciously (e.g., the heart and intestines). Some muscles are both voluntary and involuntary (e.g., the muscles controlling the eyelids, and the diaphragm). All muscles, in one way or another, are regulated by the nervous system. The design inherent in voluntary and involuntary muscles is utterly incredible.
If it is clear that an automobile engine was intelligently designed, why is it not reasonable to draw the same conclusion with reference to muscles. John Lenihan, although an evolutionist, wrote: “The body’s engines [muscles—BT/BH]...demonstrate some surprisingly modern engineering ideas” (1974, p. 43). Who initiated these “engineering ideas”?
THE BODY’S ORGANS
The skin is the largest single organ of the human body. It consists of three areas: (a) the skin layers; (b) the glands; and (c) the nails. If the skin of a 150-pound man were spread out, it would cover 20 square feet of space and weigh about 9 pounds. The skin is also a very busy area. “A piece of skin the size of a quarter contains 1 yard of blood vessels, 4 yards of nerves, 25 nerve ends, 100 sweat glands, and more than 3 million cells” (Youmans, 1979, 17:404d). The skin absorbs ultraviolet rays from the Sun, and uses them to convert chemicals into vitamin D, which the body needs for the utilization of calcium. It retains the fluids in the body, and yet still is permeable enough for perspiration to penetrate in order to cool the body. And, the skin is the primary means of defense against bacteria and other harmful organisms. Man has yet to develop a durable material that can perform the many functions that the skin carries out on a daily basis.
THE BODY’S SYSTEMS
The Skeletal System
As a specific example of bone design, consider the bones of the foot. One-fourth of all the body’s bones are in the feet. Each human foot contains 26 bones. The feet have been designed to facilitate a number of mechanical functions. They support, using arches similar to those found in an engineered bridge. They operate as levers (as in those occasions when one presses an automobile accelerator peddle). They act like hydraulic jacks when a person tiptoes. They catapult a person as he jumps. And feet act as a cushion for the legs when one is running. All of these features are quite helpful—especially in view of the fact that an average person will walk about 65,000 miles in his/her lifetime (equivalent to traveling around the world more than two-and-a-half times). The human skeletal system demonstrates brilliant design, which shows that there must have been a brilliant Designer behind it.
The Circulatory System
The circulatory system—which consists of the heart, arteries, arterioles, vessels, and capillaries—has several functions. First, it transports digested food particles to the various parts of the body. Second, it takes oxygen to the cells for burning food, thus producing heat and energy. Third, it picks up waste materials and carries them to the organs that eliminate them from the body.
The heart is an involuntary muscle that beats about 100,000 times a day, or nearly 40,000,000 times in a year. It pumps about 1,800 gallons of blood a day. In a lifetime, a heart will pump some 600,000 metric tons of blood! Evolutionists Miller and Goode conceded that “for a pump that is keeping two separate circulatory systems going in perfect synchronization, it is hard to imagine a better job of engineering” (1960, p. 68, emp. added). Yet this amazing device, which Miller and Goode admitted is “hard to describe as anything short of a miracle” (p. 64, emp. added), was produced by blind forces?
The Nervous System
The brain, located in the protective case called the skull, is the most highly specialized organ in the body. The late Isaac Asimov, well-known science writer and prominent humanist, once stated that man’s brain is “the most complex and orderly arrangement of matter in the universe” (1970, p. 10). Who arranged it? Paul Davies, professor of mathematics and physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia, observed that the human brain is “the most developed and complex system known to science” (1992b, 14:4).
It is not just the brain that is “difficult to explain by evolution.” Were space to permit, we could examine numerous other body systems (e.g., digestive, reproductive, etc.), each of which provides clear and compelling evidence of design. Atheistic philosopher Paul Ricci has suggested: “Although many have difficulty understanding the tremendous order and complexity of functions of the human body (the eye, for example), there is no obvious designer” (1986, p. 191, emp. added). The only people who “have difficulty understanding the tremendous order and complexity” found in the Creation are materialistic evolutionists who have “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). Such people can parrot the phrase that “there is no obvious designer,” but in light of the actual evidence, their arguments are not convincing.