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Apologetics Series #7: God in the Cells

Many students and even scientists assume that evolution can explain the complexities within the cell without really being given the answers to how. However, people can only go so long being told to have faith in a half-baked theory before investigating the truth for themselves. What many scientists, including Michael Behe, found is that there is no how, no explanation given for how evolution could produce the amazing complexities that we find within our own bodies and cells.

The president of the National Academy of Sciences describes cells as “an elaborate network of interconnecting assembly lines, each of which is composed of a set of large protein machines […] Why do we call [them] machines? Precisely because, like machines invented by humans to deal efficiently with the macroscopic world, these protein assemblies contain highly coordinated moving parts” (Bruce 92). Darwinian evolution simply cannot account for these.

Darwin himself stated that, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, [his] theory would absolutely break down” (Darwin 154). Well, scientists nowadays know about the irreducible complexities of the cells that fulfill this requirement and dismantle Darwin’s theory.

A system or device is is irreducibly complex if “it has a number of different components that all work together to accomplish the task of the system, and if you were to remove one of the components, the system would no longer function” (Strobel 208). It is highly implausible that such could be formed through Darwinian processes of evolution. Take the metaphor of a mousetrap to understand it.

There are multiple pieces that make up a mousetrap and all must be present for it to work at all. From the wooden platform, and the metal hammer, to the spring between them, the catch that is released when a mouse sets it off, and the metal bar holding it together, all parts are necessary to catch mice. Not only do all of the pieces have to be there, but they all have to matched up correctly. Mousetraps can only exist because an intelligent designer put them together like that. So why can’t we say the same about exceedingly complex organs in cells?

Cilium

Cilia are hairs on the surface of cells that move the fluid nearby. There are about 200 stationary cilia that line the respiratory tract and synchronously wave to flush mucus down toward the throat. However, cilia also line moving cells and work to row them forward, as in sperm cells. On the surface, they appear quite simple (although still completely necessary), but under a microscope, we can appreciate their complexities.

Each cilium is made up about 200 protein parts. Firstly, there are 9 pairs of long, skinny, flexible rods called “outer” microtubules that encircle two singular “inner” microtubules. Secondly, nexin linkers connect the outer microtubules. Thirdly, each microtubule has a motor protein called dynein, which has arms that reach and hold one inner microtubule whilst pushing the other down. This pulls the nexin linkers taut and bends the entire apparatus, then changes direction and bends backwards. That’s how the cilium begins to make the rowing motion. Each part is completely necessary to make the cilium work, just like the mousetrap. It is extremely improbable that all of the right parts, in all of the right sizes, could have fit together perfectly to create this system in the first place, let alone be replicated throughout the body in this organism and future organisms.

The Eye

Dr. Ming Wang states that “as a medical doctor and a scientist, [he] can firmly attest to the fact that it is impossible for natural selection to explain the amazing intricacies of the eye” (Wang, Broocks 105).

The eye contains numerous pieces for focusing images and adjusting brightness—think of the complexities of a camera—and then to process that information in the brain. The eye is too complex to have developed randomly, through evolution, although some scientists attempt to depict rudimentary illustrations of how the eye might have developed over time. In short, there is no evidence for such, and moreover, eye surgeons and experts, such as Ming Wang, dismiss the theories as absolutely impossible. God is necessary to create the eye.

Bacterial Flagellum

The flagella works like an outboard motor for different bacteria. It is comprised of a long, whiplike protein called flagellin which is attached to a drive shaft by hook protein, allowing the propeller and drive shaft to rotate freely. “Several types of proteins act as bushing material to allow the drive shaft to penetrate the bacterial wall and attach to the rotary motor” (Strobel 216). Howard Berg of Harvard University has called it the “most efficient motor in the universe [at 10,000 revolutions per minute…] way beyond anything we can make, especially when you consider its size [on the order of 1/20,000 of an inch]” (217). Moreover, its energy is generated by a flow of acid through the membrane, and it has sensory systems built-in that tell it when to turn on and off, guiding it to its vital resources. This one system is exceedingly complex!

When presented with the drawings of flagellum, even skeptical engineers are forced to consider the intelligent design behind such a complex system.

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Molecular Transportation

Cells–eukaryotic cells in particular, which are found in all organisms except bacteria–are made of numerous “rooms” with very particular machines in each. In each cell is the nucleus (where DNA lies), the mitochondria (the “powerhouse of the cell”), the endoplasmic reticulum (which creates proteins), the Golgi apparatus (the storage unit for proteins because transported elsewhere), the lysosome (a garbage disposal), secretory vesicles (storage unit for cargo before sending it out of the cell), and the perixisome (which helps metabolize fats). Each “room” is sealed off and some are split into multiple parts; in total, there are 20+ different sections in each. Firstly, the sole fact that each system is complete and perfectly situated in the right “room” is a miracle of DNA instruction, the “book of life”. However, that miracle merits its own blogpost; I promise we’ll get back to it.

Moreover, the ribosomes –a factory comprised of “fifty large molecules containing more than one million atoms”– takes the instruction from DNA and automatically creates all of the proteins we need. It can create every living thing, and constructs each component in only a matter of minutes. That is amazing enough on its own without thinking about how extremely small the system is. It is “of the order of several thousand million million times smaller than the smallest piece of functional machinery ever constructed by man” (Denton 338).

But what happens once the ribosome creates the parts? There is a complex system to get the parts into the right rooms. There are molecular “trucks” with their own motor systems to transport the cargo as well as know where to go and when they get there, a sort of “ticket” on the parts that allows them to get on the right trucks, the “highways” for them to travel on, and a sort of plank to get the parts off the truck and into the room. There are so many interconnected parts that recognize each other and react to keep the system going. If even one part is missing, the system falls completely apart.

The irreducible complexity within each (eukaryotic) cell is exceedingly more complicated than Darwin could have ever imagined! In his day, scientists thought the cell was just a little blob with a nucleus. They didn’t know how it did anything, so believing that this cell could arise from absolutely nothing and then evolve to more complex things made more sense. Maybe if he had the technology we have today, and recognized the complexity, he never would have proposed his infamous theory.

In fact, Darwin’s own theory has been proven to be a complete failure by his own words. Clearly it has been “demonstrated that [there exist] complex organ[s…] which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications” (Darwin 154).

“The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone […] The existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together. Each part of a living thing depends on all its other parts to function […] The more one learns of biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle–an architect for believers, a mystery to be solved by science” (Sandage).

Thanks again for reading! Feel free to leave a comment.

-Allison Shockley

For more information, check out the following…

Behe, M.J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. NY: Touchstone, 1996.

—. “Darwin’s Breakdown: Irreducible Complexity and Design at the Foundation of Life.” In Signs of Intelligence, ed. Dembski, W.A., & Kushiner, J.M. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2001.

—, Dembski, W.A., & Meyer, S.C. Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius, 2000.

—. “Intelligent Design Theory as a Tool for Analyzing Biochemical Systems.” In Mere Creation, ed. Dembski, W.A. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity. 1998.

Broocks, R. God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty. Nashville, TN: W Publishing, 2013.

Bruce, A. “The Cell as a Collection of Protein Machines,” Cell. Feb 8, 1998.

Darwin, C. The Origin of Species. 6th ed. New York, NY: New York University Press, 1998.

Denton, M. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.

Sandage, A. “A Scientist Reflects on Religious Belief,” Truth: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Christian Thought, vol. 1 (1985).

Strobel, L. The Case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

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