Molecular Biology: The Evolution of Complex Organs
“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.” Charles Darwin
Prior to 1859, most people believed that life was too complex to have originated without a creator. But when Charles Darwin published his Origin of Species, materialists saw his theory of human origins as evidence supporting an atheistic world view where God was excluded. Although Darwin was not an atheist, his theory became the linchpin for materialists to teach that God is irrelevant to life. But that was nearly 150 years ago.
In 1859 there was no understanding of how the cell worked at its molecular level. Darwin assumed that all biological systems including the cell would evolve gradually by natural selection over great periods of time. But science has made great advances since then, and the organs and systems Darwin thought were so simple have been found to be extremely complex and interdependent.
Irreducibly Complex Organs
In fact, new discoveries in molecular biology reveal that some organs and biological systems only work when all their parts are fully developed, thus they could not have developed gradually, one part at a time. Biochemist Michael Behe compares their interdependence to that of a mousetrap which can’t catch mice unless all its parts function perfectly. Behe defines these organs and systems as irreducibly complex.
Darwin knew that his theory had problems. He was especially concerned about the eye, and how it could have originated without design. He assumed that each progressive step in the eyes’ development gave the creature an evolutionary advantage. But that was merely his theory with no empirical evidence to back it up.
The truth is that in the nineteenth century Darwin knew very little about the extreme interdependence and intricate complexity of the eye. Now, with the aid of powerful microscopes molecular biologists like Behe are able to probe the depths of the eyes’ inner workings. Molecular biology has revealed that each human eye has over 100 million rods and handles 1.5 million simultaneous messages. It works similar to a TV camera, has automatic focusing, and has six million cones that can distinguish among seven million colors.
Behe points out that the eye is an irreducibly complex organ that could never have developed gradually by unguided natural selection. Materialists like Dawkins argue, however, that it is possible to imagine how the eye could have developed gradually like Darwin theorized. But it is one thing to imagine how the eye could have developed gradually, and quite another to say that there is scientific evidence to back up such an idea.
Darwin himself said he was “not concerned” with how the eye actually began, and was never really convinced that his theory of how the eye developed was right.
Later in his life Darwin confided to a friend:
“to this day the eye causes me a cold shudder.” Charles Darwin
The cell is another example of irreducible complexity. It operates like a factory with many working parts that must each synchronize perfectly. In the cell, a chemical named DNA instructs RNA to manufacture different proteins in a process so sophisticated and complex that it is beyond anything Darwin ever imagined. Biochemist Michael Behe writes of scientists’ reactions to this intricate complexity in his book, Darwin’s Black Box.
“In the face of the enormous complexity that modern biochemistry has uncovered in the cell, the scientific community is paralyzed.” Professor Michael Behe
Behe is joined by several other scientists who see evidence of a divine hand behind life’s complexity. Cosmologist Allan Sandage echoes Behe’s perspective;
“The more one learns of biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle–an Architect for believers.” Cosmologist Alan Sandage
The “brains” behind each cell in our bodies and every other living thing is a tiny molecule called DNA. Molecular biologists have discovered that this basic molecule of life is far too intricately complex to have originated by chance. DNA’s intricate complexity caused its co-discoverer, Francis Crick, to call it “almost a miracle.” Microsoft founder Bill Gates says that the software of DNA is “far far more complex than any software we have ever developed.”
Since no scientific process, including natural selection, is able to explain DNA’s origin, many scientists believe that it must have been designed. The amount of DNA that would fit on a pinhead contains information equivalent to a stack of paperback books that would encircle the earth 5,000 times. And DNA operates like a language with its own extremely complex software code. The coding behind DNA is pointing to a designer of such intelligence that it staggers the imagination. That view was stated by none other than the world’s leading atheist for the past 50 years, Professor of Philosophy, Antony Flew.
In Flew’s fifty years of proclaiming atheism in university classrooms, books, and lectures he argued that science had all but disproved God. But when he saw the intelligence behind DNA, this leading atheist reversed his long-held belief:
“What I think the DNA material has done is to show that intelligence must have been involved….It now seems to me that the finding of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.” Antony Flew
Although this former atheist is not a believer in a personal God, he now admits that the evidence points to some form of intelligence behind our origins.
Since writing Darwin’s Black Box, Behe’s scientific findings have ignited a firestorm of rhetoric over his book. Materialists have fervently attempted to marginalize his discoveries. However, to date, no scientist has been able to adequately explain how unguided natural processes could have produced these irreducibly complex biological systems.
As he ponders the intelligence behind DNA, Amir Aczel, an admitted materialist raises the question,
“Are we witnessing here something so wonderous, so fantastically complex, that it could not be chemistry or random interactions of elements, but something far beyond our understanding?” Professor Amir Aczel
The discovery of the incredible intelligence behind DNA has convinced many scientists that the answer to Aczel’s question is an emphatic “Yes!”