Monday, January 12, 2009

How Much Longer Can Darwinism Be Sold? Part 4

This is the fourth post in a series of articles on the evils and errors of Darwinism. So far, we have postulated that Darwinism, - the tenets of which furnish the philosophical foundation for atheism and materialism (I do know they both preceded Darwin), and for the actions of Stalin and Hitler in exterminating millions, - is correct about some things and wrong about others.

That which Darwin got wrong, however, is crucial. We have seen how the DNA code structure argues conclusively for the tenet that we are all related in some way; but that same DNA code also argues conclusively that there had to be a designer to produce such a perfect code millions and maybe billions of years ago – a code that remains unchanged in every living thing to this day. The fossil record, however, and the absence of transitional forms (only a pitiful few have been discovered among the millions of fossils found, and those found are questionable) shows that there is no such thing as a single “tree of life”, but rather many trees and telephone poles.

Today I want to discuss random mutation and natural selection. In this I am heavily influenced by the works of the microbiologist, Dr. Michael Behe. Random mutation happens frequently when the DNA code is accidentally altered in the embryo of an offspring. If the mutation is favorable to survival and passed on to the offspring’s offspring, it will gradually spread throughout the population. Darwin was not aware in his time how this might happen, but observed that small, beneficial changes did occur in this manner in his observations in the Galapalos Islands. There is no argument that this has happened throughout history over and over again; this is called ‘microevolution’. Darwin’s next point, however, is a leap of faith that is also crucial, and has been completely disproved by Behe and others – that these random mutations can accumulate to the point where new body structures and even new life forms can be assembled – a process that is called ‘macroevolution’.

The rate at which favorable mutations can build on each other has not been possible to analyze realistically until recently because of the large number of specimens and the large number of generations that need to be followed and studied. The likelihood of a favorable, random mutation (most mutations are unfavorable) occurring and spreading is dependent on the size of the population and on the number of generations there are in the time frame available; the larger the population and the more generations, the greater the likelihood of a favorable mutation occurring and taking hold.

Behe knew, however, that there are organisms with immense populations, which reproduce rapidly and which have been studied thoroughly for many years – such as malaria, e coli and HIV bacteria. One of his contributions is to extrapolate from this knowledge relationships and probabilities that can apply in general. Malaria, for example, develops resistance to drugs fairly rapidly, through random mutations and natural selection, but multiple mutations occur infrequently, and when the time frame is compared to the population sizes and the inter-generational times of other species, like humans, it becomes evident that only minor evolutionary changes have had the time to occur in humans and in other species. The odds against major changes requiring multiple mutations are so enormous as to be impossible.

Behe found that in malaria bacteria, the odds of one mutation that gave resistance to a drug to be about one in a trillion, and the odds of multiple mutations to be about one in a hundred billion billion.

From “The Edge of Evolution”:
“If all of these huge numbers make your head spin, think of it this way. The likelihood that homo sapiens achieved any single mutation of the kind required for malaria to become resistant to chloroquine – not the easiest mutation, to be sure, but still only a shift of only two amino acids – the likelihood that such a mutation could arise just once in the entire course of human lineage is minuscule – of the same order as, say, the likelihood of you personally winning the Powerball lottery by buying a single ticket.”

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Behe is talking here of the odds of a single, complex mutation. The odds of successive mutations creating new body parts or new body forms are incalculable and impossible.

Behe had already shown in a previous work that cells contain minute machines that have several parts working together to some common purpose – and could not possibly have evolved - since the specialized parts had no other function except as a working member of the molecular machine. Those who have tried to show him wrong, like Miller, have fallen far short. Behe, then, has shown us once again that there must be a designer behind the grand scheme of life.


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