Image by Eugene Zhyvchik

Evolution

Is Evolution True?

 

Is evolution true? This depends on what we mean by evolution? If we mean simply change over time, this is undeniable for anyone who is honestly seeking truth, in fact creationists and evolutionists agree at least on this. (1) If the definition is unguided random variation, through common decent and natural selection, as most biology text books, scientists and evolution proponents will want to insist. This becomes more problematic, which I hope to make clear.

I am not seeking to disprove evolution per se, but hopefully to show one version of the theory, is not compatible with the evidence.

My personal view is that Intelligent Design (ID) is the best explanation for the wide range of data. As for the age of the earth? I am happy to grant the standard ages provided. However, they require assumptions on the parent and daughter isotopes at the start, which cannot be known! Furthermore, inaccurate dating of known dates calls into question the reliability of radiometric dating, but this is really another topic altogether.

 

The narrative of evolution from scientists, text books and media to the layperson is that evolution is scientific fact, that is undeniable (2). However, Richard Dawkins after an interview with some Australian creationist in a rather famous interview (3) wrote “The answer in practice is complicated and controversial, all bound up with a vigorous debate over whether evolution is, in general, progressive. I am one of those associated with a limited form of yes answer. My colleague Stephen Jay Gould tends towards a no answer. I don’t think anybody would deny that, by any method of measuring – whether bodily information content, total information capacity of genome, capacity of genome actually used, or true (“Stuffit compressed”) information content of genome – there has been a broad overall trend towards increased information content during the course of human evolution from our remote bacterial ancestors. People might disagree, however, over two important questions: first, whether such a trend is to be found in all, or a majority of evolutionary lineages (for example parasite evolution often shows a trend towards decreasing bodily complexity, because parasites are better off being simple); second, whether, even in lineages where there is a clear overall trend over the very long term, it is bucked by so many reversals and re-reversals in the shorter term as to undermine the very idea of progress. This is not the place to resolve this interesting controversy. There are distinguished biologists with good arguments on both sides.” (Emphasis added) (4) Notice the concessions being made here, this kind of statement is never portrayed by the scientific community, the text books which teach students or what the media pumps out to people like you and me.

In fact, Professor Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, (5)(6) has spent a large part of his career exposing the lies that have been, and in some cases are still being taught in schools to date. In two of his books, ‘Icons of Evolution’ and ‘Zombie Science’, he explains in some depth the blatant misconceptions and plain lies that are just not supported by the evidence and unfortunately the scientific community knows this, but keep being perpetuating, as it is expedient for them to do so. For example:

The Miller-Urey experiment – which showed how they created the simple amino acids for life on supposed early earth atmosphere.  This however, is fallacious, yes, they did make some amino acids, the fallacious part, one among many inaccuracies, is that all evidence points to the early earth being oxidising, that is, the atmosphere was very much like it is now. You may be wondering why this is a problem?  Oxygen and water are in fact prohibitive to prebiotic chemistry. (7) (8)(9)(10)(11)(12)

 

Haeckel’s Embryos – Are a set of drawings made by Ernst Haeckle back in 1892, they showed how early development of the embryo looked largely similar, which gave rise to the idea that we all had a common ancestor, which was the beginnings of the field of phylogenetic embryology. Darwin thought that embryology provided “by far the strongest class of facts in favour” of his theory (13). However, the drawings were fraudulent (14)(15), as Matthew Cobb writes in the New Scientist “Fudging the data, he placed the drawings into a comparative grid, highlighting similarities between species and blurring differences. The results are highly inaccurate. Haeckel wanted to convince his readers that all vertebrates share a common ancestor, and that, as he put it, “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” – our embryonic development repeats our evolutionary past. This aphorism was soon disproved, but the use of Haeckel’s drawings persisted, particularly in education. There were waves of criticism, from the 1870s when the drawings were published, up to 1997...” (16). Michael Richardson, a British embryologist in 1997 with an international team of biologists compared Haeckel’s drawings with photographs of actual embryos and found many discrepancies. (17) later in an interview for the journal cience Richardson said, “It looks like it’s turning out to be one of the most famous fakes in biology.” (18) Unfortunately, the issue didn’t end there, as Wells writes in ‘Zombie Science’ “In 2008, University of Chicago historian Robert Richards, Haeckel’s drawings were no less accurate than those of his contemporaries, including the people who critized him. Cambridge historian Nick Hopwood also defended Haeckel against the fraud charge in a 2015...” Wells continues on the next page explaining the real issue “The real issue, however, is not whether Haeckel deliberately committed fraud. The real issue is that Haeckel’s drawings omitted half of the evidence – the half that doesn’t fit Darwin’s claim that embryos are most similar in early stages. By the logic of Darwin’s argument, the earliest stages should be the most similar, but vertebrate embryos actually start out looking very different from each other, then they converge somewhat in appearance midway through development...Biologist Rudolf Raff has called this pattern the “developmental hourglass". Haeckel helped Darwin by simply omitting the top half of the hourglass.”(References removed from citations) Despite this knowledge Jerry Coyne in his book ‘Why Evolution Is True‘ wrote this “Each vertebrate undergoes development in a series of stages, and the sequence of those stages happens to follow the evolutionary sequence of its ancestors....all vertebrates begin development looking like embryonic fish because we all descended from a fishlike ancestor.” (19) So, despite the evidence, people are taught this still from respected scientists.

 

Homology – Is a view that looks at similarities in the design of animals, the most common one is arms, if we look at the bone configuration of our arms, they happen to follow a very similar structure to most vertebrates, which is evidence of a common ancestor! See long story short’s video on homology  https://youtu.be/KXmuN2orx28. These similarities ultimately was the evidence Darwin used to create his ‘tree of life’, in fact Darwin wrote in the Origin of Species listing Homology among the facts that, “proclaim so plainly, that the innumerable species, genera and families of organic beings, with which this world is peopled, have all descended, each within its own class or group, form common parents."(20) One issue which arises from such a definition of homology as evidence, is that is circular reasoning, that is, homologous features show homology or put another way! Similar features show similarity! It is simply a tautology; it isn’t evidence per se. For example, in the above YouTube video,  Tim Berra wrote in his book ‘Evolution and the Myth of Creationism’  “If you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette, side by side, then a 1954 and a 1955 model, and so on, the descent with modification is overwhelmingly obvious. This is what palaeontologists do with fossils, and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people.” (21) The example is proof of common decent from design, a designer can reuse parts from an old model in a new one, if it is fit for purpose! So, likewise homologous features in nature could easily be just as good evidence of design. Now, to be fair, evolutionists now admit this in general, and typically adopt that the homology is that in the DNA, so animals will have similar DNA and thus, similar features, like the cytochrome C gene in the video. But as the video pointed out, there are issues with such a view, namely, depending on what gene you pick as the point of interest, you will get different animals in the tree of life. Thus, the person who wants to adopt such a view, will have to accept that animals diverged from multiple different lineages all at the same time, which becomes problematic at best. I conclude with an extended quote from Jonathan Wells and Paul Nelson on homology, (I recommend reading the who article) they write “Without a naturalistic mechanism to account for homology, however, Darwinian evolution cannot claim to have demonstrated scientifically that living things are undesigned, and the possibility remains that homologies are patterned after non-material archetypes. Without a demonstrated mechanism, naturalistic biologists are left with only one alternative: exclude design a priori, on philosophical grounds.

This exclusion could be taken as a statement that intelligent design does not exist, or it could be taken as a statement that intelligent design is beyond the reach of empirical science. The first is a philosophical or theological statement, and warrants the same response. The second is a methodological limitation which cannot be logically extrapolated to a limitation on reality. In other words, a scientist who makes the first move is engaging in metaphysical disputation, while a scientist who makes the second is declining to investigate a possible aspect of reality.

Unfortunately, many biologists make both moves, but fail to distinguish logically between them. While justifying their exclusion of intelligent design on methodological grounds, they act as though science has disproved its existence by providing a naturalistic explanation for homology. When confronted with the fact that science has failed in this regard, they reaffirm their methodological commitment and express faith that a naturalistic mechanism will someday be discovered.” (22)

 

 Missing Links – There have been a number of ‘Missing Links' over the years. A missing link is a supposed animal that is in between a proposed modern day animal and that of a much older fossil in the past. Whale (cetaceans sĕ-TAY-shuns) evolution for example is one such story that has boasted a number of transitional forms in the fossil record. However, the evidence now calls this into question as Jonathan Wells shows in a post in Evolution News (23) and his book ‘Zombie Science’(24), also see long story short’s video on the subject https://youtu.be/PRrVx3x6mA8.

 

For Charles Darwin bears could evolve into Whales as he writes in the 1st edition of the Origin of Species “swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale”. (25) His view was highly ridiculed by his critics and this view was removed from later editions.

 

However, for any such change from a life on land to a fully aquatic one, a number of key features need to happen, which are never answered, just assumed with just so stories! As Wells writes “Like all mammals, cetaceans breathe air, but they must do so while being almost fully submerged. So cetaceans have nostrils on the tops of their heads, called “blowholes”... Blowholes are unusual not just because of their anatomical location. They are very unlike the nostrils of other mammals. The blowhole of a cetacean is surrounded by thick muscular “lips” that keep the hole tightly closed except when the animal makes a deliberate effort to open it at the surface...Cetaceans often dive in pursuit of prey. Dolphins and porpoises can dive to a depth of three hundred meters. Sperm whales can dive to 2,000 meters, while beaked whales can dive to almost 3,000 meters (more than a mile and three quarters). The pressure on an animal at the surface is one atmosphere, and it increases by about one atmosphere for every ten meters of depth. So the pressure on a diving sperm whale can be two hundred times that at the surface.”(26) (citations removed)

Additionally, due to this extreme pressure at depth, whale’s and dolphins  have what are called ‘floating ribs', so that when they dive, their lungs collapse. Also Wells points out that “Cetaceans and other diving mammals also have diaphragms that are orientated nearly parallel to the spine rather than perpendicular.” Like in humans, Wells continues to explain why this feature is vitality important to deep diving creatures. Essentially if it wasn’t the case, the animals would suffer from ‘narcosis', as a result of being at high pressure nitrogen can start to be absorbed, which could then cause fatal decompression sickness (the bends)when returning to the surface for much needed air.

 

Reproduction is also challenging for cetaceans, the males of the species, requires internal testicles. This Is for a number of reason, including streamlining for least water drag and because at diving depths, temperatures can be cold as low as 0oC.(27) In all mammals for normal sperm production, requires the testicles to be a few degrees lower than the body temperature. So, how do cetaceans maintain that the testicles remain cooler than body temperature, when the whole body is generating heat around it? Wells writes “The cooling is accomplished with a counter-current heat exchanger. Blood that has been cooled in the dorsal fin and flukes is carried to a region near the testicles, where it flows through a network of veins that pass between arteries carrying warm blood in the opposite direction.  The arterial blood is thereby cooled before it reaches the testicles.”(27) (citations removed) Also see evolution news article which shows more of the adaptations needed. (28)

 

The biggest issue however, is that even granting the evolutionary time frame and the dates of these transitional fossils. The evidence directly contradicts the timeline proposed! In the long story short video for the whale evolution,  it vividly shows the inversion and ghost lineages of supposed timelines in the fossil records, which shows supposedly more evolved whales being younger than its intermediate. E.g. Indohuys (the supposed oldest in terms of the tree to modern whales) is 4 million years younger than Pakicetus. This is like trying to claim you are older than your grandparents. These semantic tricks, and the redefinition of the word ‘transitional’, are not the only problems they have in explaining how common ancestors eventually evolved into whales, they simply have not enough time for a plausible mutation to happen in the timeframe allowed. As Wells writes “Biologist Richard Sternberg has applied this analysis to cetaceans. Large mammals (such as the supposed ancestors of cetaceans) tend to have effective breeding population sizes comparable to that of humans, but modern whales reach maturity much faster, so their generation times are much shorter. Assuming a generation time of twenty-five years for humans and five years for the ancestors of cetaceans, Sternberg pointed out that fixing just two mutations in the latter would take millions of years longer than the time available in the fossil record. So there isn’t enough time to fix even two mutations, yet we need hundreds or even thousands of new mutations. Obviously, eight million years is not long enough to accumulate enough accidental mutations to turn a “walking whale” into a real whale... In 2016, a team of paleontologists published a report of their discovery in Antarctica of a fossilized whale similar to Basilosaurus. The fossil occurred in rocks previously reported to be at least forty-nine million years old- older than some of the so-called “walking whales.” This would reduce the time available for land-mammal-to-whale evolution from eight million years to practically no time at all-making the problem of whale evolution even worse.” (29)(30)

 

These, and in fact many more ‘icons' of evolution are presupposed in the theory, which underline the explanatory scope of the theory. To be clear, I am not claiming this disproves evolution, however, it in fact weakens anyone who holds to Darwinian evolution, as the evidence simply doesn’t add up.

 

Someone who holds to Darwinian evolution might say, “alright, these exceptions are a problem, but the evidence as a whole is very good." Is what Wells and others have pointed out, just exceptions to the rule, and in fact the evidence is in fact, very strong?

 

Reversion to the mean – Is a term used, in typical, when selective breeding of say the Bulldog breed is stopped, and the dogs are allowed to breed naturally, the traits selected for usually, revert back to something similar to the wild state. This is something that even Darwin knew when he wrote the Origin of Species, for example, the late, great Tom Bethall wrote an article on this subject, “In Chapter 1 of the Origin, Darwin brought up another subject — reversion to the mean. He referred to a statement often made by naturalists, ‘namely that our domestic varieties, when run wild, gradually but certainly revert in character to their aboriginal stocks. Hence it has been argued that no deductions can be drawn from domestic races to species in a state of nature.’
This was unwelcome to Darwin because it seemed to challenge his theory. He countered: ‘We may safely conclude that very many of the most strongly marked domestic varieties could not possibly live in a wild state. [But] in many cases we do not know what the aboriginal stock was, and so we could not tell whether or not nearly perfect reversion has occurred’.” (31) Tom continues by writing “he (Darwin) decided that there is “no infallible criterion by which to distinguish species and well marked varieties.” By the end of the chapter he is confident that “varieties have the same general characters as species, for they cannot be distinguished from species.” So, these changes in varieties may give some marked differences, e.g. Two tall parents are likely to produce taller offspring. However, this trend cannot be extrapolated too far, as it is also likely at some point a mate is relatively shorter, and any trait is reverted back to the mean, or tends to the mean over time. This in fact is what was observed in the case of Darwin’s Finches, Peter and Rosemary Grant did a 30 year study of the Galapagos Finches (32), they discovered that over time, with changes in environment, the tendency was for the beak and body shape would  revert back to something like the aboriginal stock. The issue I wish to stress here, is, the implications that Darwin and all evolution proponents want you to believe is, that these changes in varieties, become locked in, and provide a functional advantage and eventually form a new species over time e.g. if a finch is observed with a 1.2% beak size growth from its parents, then its offspring has another 1.3% beak size growth, it can be extrapolated that  in 10 generations or so, the beak size is much bigger and could eventually form a new species. But this isn’t backed by the data, the mean shape of beak and body size is kept in check. Additionally, this concept seems to be the case in all life, so we are unlikely to get actual speciation or new body plans soon. In fact a publication in prestigious ‘Science Magazine’, argues that the supposed six separate species of ground finches are just one big species, with no statistically clear distinguishing traits among the populations. Rather than fourteen total species on the islands, there may be only a handful. To describe what they think is going on, the authors coin the plaintive term “Sisyphean evolution.” In the ancient Greek myth that is a paradigm of frustration, Sisyphus is condemned to eternally roll a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down again as he approaches the crest. (33)

 

Irreducible Complexity – Irreducible Complexity was a term used first by Michael Behe, a Biochemist from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute’s Centre for Science and Culture. Behe describes it like this “An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, with each stage a functioning system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional… Since natural selection can only choose systems that already working, then a biological system would have to arise not gradually but as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on… Although an irreducibly complex system can’t be produced directly, one can’t definitively rule out the possibility of an indirect, circuitous route. However, as the complexity of an interacting system increases, the likelihood of such an indirect route drops precipitously.” (34)

 

An analogy commonly used is that of the common mousetrap, it has 5 parts: - A platform, Spring, Catch, Hammer and Holding Bar. If any one of those parts were missing, the mousetrap wouldn’t work. E.g. if the catch wasn’t there, it wouldn’t work only 80% of the time, or put another way, it wouldn’t catch a mouse only 4/5th of the time, it simply doesn’t work. Behe writes “Suppose we wanted to evolve a mousetrap by something like a Darwinian process. What would we start with? Would it start with a wooden platform and hope to catch mice inefficiently? Perhaps tripping them, And then add, say, the holding bar, hoping to improve efficiency? No, of course not, because irreducibly complex systems only acquire their function when the system is essentially completed.”(35) The same can be said about biological systems, in Behe’s new book ‘A Mousetrap For Darwin’ he writes about a few different systems, the Cilium, Blood clotting, bacterial flagellum, electron transport, photosynthesis, transcription regulation and much more. The most famous of course is the bacterial flagellum and has been hotly contested ever since Behe’s first book ‘Darwin’s Black Box’. One typical objection that is raised in this regard is the Type 3 Secretory System (T3SS) was a precursor of the bacterial flagellum, that is, the T3SS evolved into the flagellum later. Kenneth Miller being one of the main proponents that held this view. However, evidence has never been on Miller’s side “T3SSs evolved from the flagellum…” (36) However, this is a blatant miss characterisation of the word to “evolve” as the Type 3 only has around 30 proteins and the flagellum has 40, so it is by any standard a devolution, not an increase in functional information. But even given evolution, the 40 proteins which are required for the flagellum, only 23 proteins are common to other bacteria. (37) unfortunately, this is an old post and propagates strawman arguments and falsely equates (ID) with creationism, and clearly wasn’t aware of the evidence against the T3SS. So, given the evidence, even if we grant that a loss of functionality is evolution, we still have many issues to face, for example, loosing mobility isn’t an evolutionary advantage, the tightly organised and regulated biosynthesis of the flagellum makes it difficult to lose proteins and still keep gene expression of a complete system. (38)

 

 

 

Mutations & Evolution – It has been commonly understood now that any evolution takes place at the molecular/DNA level. Moreover, evolution has been notoriously hard to observe in larger mammals, so bacteria, who, have quick generation times of hours instead of 20+ years to generate new progeny, is the best way to observe evolution. Perhaps the best and often quoted long term study from evolutionists is microbiologist, Richard Lenski from Michigan State. Lenski’s study took E. coli for more than 65,000 generations over 30 years and took samples from each day and put them in a freezer for later study and comparisons. As, until recently the ability to sequence the whole genome was impracticable, until around 20 years ago. Behe writes in ‘Darwin Devolves’ “In subsequent papers they showed that the evolved bacteria had more descendants both because they grew faster and because they had a shortened “lag time” between cell divisions. Oddly, the cells were fatter too—85 percent larger in volume. They demonstrated that increases in the growth rate of each cell line came in discrete waves as individual beneficial mutations (whatever they might be) arose and swept through the populations.  They showed that some cell lines grew better on alternative food sources, and others did worse. To mimic sexual reproduction, they mixed the cell lines with other bacterial strains in hopes of increasing genetic diversity and the rate of adaptation; genes were swapped around, but no helpful evolutionary effect was found. 7 Ominously, one cell line turned into a “mutator,” with a defective ability to repair its DNA, leading to a mutation rate more than a hundred times greater than normal. Over the years another five of the starting twelve replicate cell lines would do the same. It wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that the first of the helpful mutations could be tracked down at the DNA level. The watchful researchers noticed that all the evolved cell lines had lost the ability to metabolize a sugar called ribose… To put a point on it, a beneficial mutation (by itself that deletion mutation increased the cell’s growth rate by 1 to 2 percent) turned out to be a degradative mutation, one in which the loss of a preexisting genetic capacity improved the bacteria’s survival.” (citations removed) (39) He goes on to explain that in a scenario where, miles per gallon is the most important factor if you were stuck in a desert and could only make it to civilisation by sheading excess weight on the car e.g. loosing the spare tyre, rear seats, hood and boot panels and any other things that could give extra millage. This is very much like the situation in the E. coli bacteria, removing functions in the cell, makes the cell grow faster. As the long story short video on bacterial resistance shows on this subject https://youtu.be/jlmgFFBBopM (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) (48), all the mutations were a loss of function, removing functions that were already available and breaking them, or loosing mobility.

 

More importantly however, Dr. Scott A. Minnich and co-workers were able to reproduce Lenski’s experiment and get the ability to process citrate within as few as 12 generations. Minnich writes “In summary, E. coli can rapidly mutate to a Cit+ phenotype in a relatively short time if subjected to direct selection. This indicates that the 33,000 generations to potentiate the evolutionary resources for the Cit+ phenotype do not reflect a direct requirement but merely experimental conditions. As such, Cit+ mutants exemplify the adaptation capability of microorganisms but, as of yet, the LTEE has not substantiated evolution in the broader sense by generation of new genetic information, i.e., a gene with a new function. Interestingly, our findings parallel the conclusions from bacterial starvation studies by Zinser and Kolter in which E. coli adaptations were dominated by changes in the regulation of preexisting gene activities rather than by the generation of new gene activities, de novo. The LTEE isolation of Cit+ mutants has become a textbook example of the power of long-term evolution to generate new species. But, based on our results, E. coli arrives at the same solution to access citrate in days versus years, as originally shown by Hall. In either case, genes involved in the process maintain their same function but show expanded expression by deregulation. Because of this, we argue that this is not speciation any more than is the case with any other regulatory mutant of E. coli. A more accurate, albeit controversial, interpretation of the LTEE is that E. coli's capacity to evolve is more limited than currently assumed.”(Citations removed) (73)

 

This loss of functionality is in fact the norm in biological systems not the exception, this is the case in polar bears, as Behe writes “The polar bear’s most strongly selected mutations—and thus the most important for its survival—occurred in a gene dubbed APOB, which is involved in fat metabolism in mammals, including humans. That itself is not surprising, since the diet of polar bears contains a very large proportion of fat (much higher than in the diet of brown bears) from seal blubber, so we might expect metabolic changes were needed to accommodate it. But what precisely did the changes in polar bear APOB do to it compared to that of other mammals? When the same gene is mutated in humans or mice, studies show it frequently leads to high levels of cholesterol and heart disease. The scientists who studied the polar bear’s genome detected multiple mutations in APOB. Since few experiments can be done with grumpy polar bears, they analyzed the changes by computer. They determined that the mutations were very likely to be damaging—that is, likely to degrade or destroy the function of the protein that the gene codes for. A second highly selected gene, LYST, is associated with pigmentation, and changes in it are probably responsible for the blanching of the ancestors’ brown fur. Computer analysis of the multiple mutations of the gene showed that they too were almost certainly damaging to its function. In fact, of all the mutations in the seventeen genes that were most highly selected, about half were predicted to damage the function of the respective coded proteins. Furthermore, since most altered genes bore several mutations, only three to six (depending on the method of estimation) out of seventeen genes were free of degrading changes.  Put differently, 65 to 83 percent of helpful, positively selected genes are estimated to have suffered at least one damaging mutation. It seems, then, that the magnificent Ursus maritimus has adjusted to its harsh environment mainly by degrading genes that its ancestors already possessed. Despite its impressive abilities, rather than evolving, it has adapted predominantly by devolving.” (49) (50) (51)

 

Additionally, in finch beaks, a mutation called ALX1, a protein of 326 amino acids, which has been discovered to have only 2 amino acid changes for the most pointy or blunt beak. (52) So, what do those changes do to the protein? The authors wrote that “[computer] analysis classified both as damaging.” (53)

 

More evidence of the acute lack of support for evolution is found again at the molecular level. As stated before, if evolution is happening, it takes place at the molecular level. We have seen previously that mutations tend to revert back to the mean and that a vast number of protein mutations are in fact considered harmful. But the important question is, how often do beneficial protein folds occur in sequence space. That is, is any arrangement of amino acids going to get a functional protein fold, or is it more complicated?

 

Douglas Axe on 2004 in the Journal of Molecular Biology showed that a protein fold of 153 amino acids would require up to 1 in 10^64 or as low as 1 in 10^77 tries to get a functional protein fold. (54) As a comparison in everyday life, a yeast cell has approximately 467 amino acids in a average protein (55), this is just over 3 times the size of the protein in the peer reviewed paper. However, the average yeast cell has 42 million proteins. (56) This would mean the sequence space is at least 3 times the size, if we plug these figures into a calculator, it would mean 10^64 X 10^64 X 10^64 = 10^192  42,000,000 so the probability of something as relatively simple like a yeast cell by chance is  1 in 4.2 X 10^199 or put another way 1 in 4.2 with 199 zeros at the end of it. To put this into context, there has only been around 4.3 X 10^17 seconds since the big bang, there are only 10^80 atoms in the entire universe (57).

 

However, as Stephen Meyer states in a lecture, showing that the problem is in fact much more complex. In a protein, amino acids are joined by peptide bonds, these occur with a 1 in 2 chance at each bond site, if you do not get a peptide bond,  the protein won’t successfully bond! So in a protein of 150 amino acids you have 149 bond sites, so each site has a 1 in 2 chance of producing a correct bond, which gives a 1 in 10^45 of occurring . Additionally, each amino acid have chirality, meaning they are handed, meaning they are non-superimposable, like the way you cannot fit a left handed glove on your right hand or vice versa. In life, amino acids are left handed amino acids,  if you get even 1 right handed amino acid in the chain, the protein won’t fold successfully.  So, again, you  have a 1 in 2 chance at each site of a successful protein, meaning another 1 in 10^45 chance. In Dr. Meyer's lecture he used a different figure from Douglas Axe’s research of 1 in 10^74, meaning with the 3 probabilities multiplied together is 1 in 10^164 for a protein of 150 amino acids. (58) We can see that with larger proteins the probability becomes even bleaker, if we use the figures we derived previously: 4.2 X 10^199 X 10^135  (note this figure was derived by times 10^45 by itself 3 times, as the protein length of 467 is approximately 3 times larger.)  X 10^135 = 1 in 4.2 X 10^469 to derive the more accurate probability of a protein of 467 amino acids in length folding by chance.

 

 

Abiogenesis

 

Some evolutionists I have spoken to generally don’t like this subject being raised,  as they see if as a separate subject. However,  I always remember to point out before you can get evolution,  Abiogenesis must have occurred. Abiogenesis, is the subject of pre-biology, how chemicals coalesced to form simple amino acids, eventually to complex life,  like ourselves.  Previously, we briefly looked into the work of the Miller-Urey experiment, we saw that the presumed atmosphere was wrong and in fact, the atmosphere is much like it is now, high in oxygen, which is in fact prohibitive to prebiotic chemistry! Moreover, the presumed prehistoric pond life arose from would have also been prohibitive as water degrades chemical reactions. (65)(66)(69)

 

However, the issues go much deeper, in the Miller-Urey experiments the amino acids they created were racemic (ra-see-mic) meaning they produced equal amounts of the left and right handed amino acids, but as we discovered life requires only left handed amino acids, this is known as homochirality, meaning the presence of only one hand of an amino acid. In fact, it turns out, it is very hard to get homochirality without the help of proteins to create it for us, chemical companies use proteins found in cells to create the amino acids in high  enough concentrations for chemists to synthesise in origin of life research.

 

Additionally, even if it was possible to get all the chemicals in one place, and you somehow,  under a rock somewhere, you get amino acids forming in homochiral form, nowhere in chemicals does it have the ability to stop, or know what goal it is heading to! Moreover, the chemicals don’t have a laboratory notebook,  so it can’t know what wrong turn it took 50 million years ago, so it can’t start again and make changes!  As Dr. James Tour a synthetic organic chemist, has extensively written and published over 500 articles and is well known in the subject of Origin Of Life (OOL) (59). Dr.Tour writes;

“Why the retrosynthetic approach to complex molecules? It is because finding a direct path to a target is far too complicated. Dead ends are everywhere; dead products accumulate massively; and, between the dead ends and the dead products, precious starting materials tend to become exhausted.

There are no targets in evolution. Nature does not perform retrosynthetic analyses.

Given a target and a path to get there, the synthetic chemist must now try a number of chemical permutations. Each step may need to be optimized, and each step must be considered with respect to specific reaction site modifications and different reaction rates.

What is desired is often ever so slightly different in structure from what is not. If Product A is a mirror image of Product B, separation becomes a time-consuming and challenging task, one requiring complementary mirror-image structures. Many molecules in natural biological systems are homochiral. Their mirror images cannot do their work.

Few reactions ever afford a one hundred percent yield; few reactions are free of deleterious byproducts. Purification is essential. If byproducts are left in reaction, they result in complex mixtures that render further reactions impossible to execute correctly.

After purification, a number of different spectroscopic and spectrometric methods must be used to confirm the resulting molecular structures. Make the wrong molecular intermediate, the synthetic chemist quickly learns, and all subsequent steps are compromised.

Intermediate products are often unstable in air, sunlight or room light, or in water. Synthetic chemists work in seconds or minutes.”(60)

This is known as the mass transfer problem, where any starting material you may have gets used in chemical reactions, some of which gets used in ways not helpful or needed, causing further run away reactions, that if not stopped would continue to use all the materials.  So, more material must be continued to be made from the rear to further the chemistry to life!  But how did nature do this? No one knows, chemistry doesn’t tent towards life, nor does it know how to, and even if it did, it doesn’t keep a record of what it did, to repeat the process or even improve it.

The point I am trying to get across here is, any chemical reactions you will get in nature will be a mess of different reactions that will pollute and degrade and become stereo-scrambled mess of competing reactions. In fact, synthetic chemists know this, this is why a retrosynthetic approach is undertaken,  to obtain a goal, define what is needed and the likely approach and detailed reporting on the way to ensure it is repeatable. Nature cannot do this, it doesn’t have any desire to tend towards life, nor can it stop any runway reactions or stop any undesirable reactions by purification. (61)(62)(63)(64)

A chicken and egg problem has been known for sometime now in the OOL research,  proteins are needed to build the machinery and decode and encode the DNA/RNA for life, yet they themselves needed code to create the proteins. So, what, if anything came first? It is however, being recognised that the information is key to the OOL as Dr. Tour states “The information or coding within the DNA (or RNA) that corresponds to the sequence of the nucleic acids is primary to the entire discussion of life. Some would rightly argue that the information is even more fundamental than the matter upon which it is encoded. I merely showed that the requisite molecules (lipids, proteins, nucleic acids and carbohydrates) are so unlikely to have occurred in the states and quantities needed, that we could never have gotten to the point of figuring out the genesis of the requisite code or information.”(71) Those who are trying to resolve this problem have tried to explain it by invoking the RNA hypotheses,  as RNA is relatively simple compared to DNA, however this has become unfruitful and has proven more complex than previously thought.(67)(68)(70)

Other issues have becoming increasingly apparent as our knowledge has grown over time, lipids, the building blocks of the cell membrane is far more complex than could ever been imagined, they have discovered over 1000 different lipid bilayers, and the experts are unable to come up with any plausible explanation of how it could arise in a prebiotic relevant way. (72) All of life is in fact snowing signs of irreducible complexity, lipids being an excellent example, any cell requires it to be able to maintain equilibrium, it does this by many complex mechanisms, as stated, they have discovered thousands of different lipids, all doing different jobs to allow the cell to survive and maintain homeostasis.

Laws of Thermodynamics:

Laws of thermodynamics, shows that the chemistry for life is impossible from a bottom-up approach (74).  “Only recently has it been appreciated that the distinguishing feature of living systems is complexity rather than order. This distinction has come from observation that the essential ingredients for a replicating system – enzymes and nucleic acids – are all information-bearing molecules. In contrast, consider crystals.  They are very orderly,  spatially periodic arrangements of atoms (or molecules), but they carry very little information.  Nylon is another example of an orderly,  periodic polymer (a polyamide) which carries little information. Nucleic acids and protein are specific polymers, and this aperiodicity is what makes the able to carry much more information.  By definition, then, a periodic structure has order; an aperiodic structure has complexity.” (Citations removed) (75). “There is a general relationship between information and entropy. This is fortunate because it allows an analysis to be developed in the formulation of classical thermodynamics, giving us a powerful tool for calculating the work to be done by energy flow through the system to synthesize protein an DNA... Orgel illustrates the concept in the following way.  To describe a crystal, one would only need to specify the substance to be used and the way in which the molecules were to be packed together.  A couple of sentences would suffice,  followed by the instructions “and keep on doing the same,” since the packaging sequence in a crystal is regular.  The description would be about as brief as specifying a DNA-like polynucleotide with a random sequence.  Here one would need only to specify the propositions of the four nucleotides in the final product, along with instructions to assemble them randomly... It would be quite Impossible to produce a correspondingly simple set of instructions that would enable a chemist to synthesize the DNA of an E. coli bacterium. In this case the sequence matters. Only by specifying the sequence letter-by-letter (about 4’600,000 instructions) could we tell a chemist what to make. Our instructions would occupy not a few short sentences, but a large book instead!”(76)(citations removed)  The authors go on to explain form to calculate the entropy and energy needed for a given chemical reaction, which I will not try to explain here! However,  the concluding calculations and summary are as follows; “Thus, the total work (neglecting the “sorting and selecting “ work) is approximately  ΔG = (300 + 159) kcal/mole = 459 kcal/mole....for our protein of 101 amino acids. The gas constant R = 1.9872 cal/deg-mole, and T is assumed to be 298 K. Substituting these values in Equation 8-15 and 8-16 gives Protein concentration = 10-338M This trivial yield emphasizes the futility of protein formulation under equilibrium conditions...”(77) This shows the energy used in a chemical reaction, without the  constant flow of new energy to drive the chemistry on. Note that just for a protein of 101 amino acids consumes 459kcal/mole, a typical breakfast meal is less than that. Many solutions have been put forward to try and answer this issue, one such solution is Mineral Catalysis,  the idea being that certain minerals have been known to allow for chemical reactions. The authors write “A novel synthesis of polypeptides has been reported which employs mineral catalysis...This technique has resulted in polypeptides of up to 50 units or more. Although polymerization definitely occurs in these reactions, the energy-rich aminoacyl adenylate is of very doubtful prebiotic significance per the discussion of competing reaction... the use of clay with free amino acids will not give a successful synthesis of polypeptides...”(78)(citations removed) So, it seems that the issue of overcoming the energy lost in competing reactions hasn’t been addressed, nor a plausible way in which usable energy can be used to drive chemical reactions beyond equilibrium.  

Panspermia:

This is the hypothesis that the chemistry needed for life arose on a distant planet and simple life arose, where some cataclysmic event caused some of this life to be blasted off into space and by some fortuitous route, entered our atmosphere and seeded life. Possibly, this happened several times in our history.  Proponents of this view, seem to think this avoids all the issues raised above, but it doesn’t!  All it does is move the problem to a different planet, where all the same issues will be waiting, and possibly more! But, even granting that life here was seeded from another planet, Where and how did they get the complex chemistry to make first life? Just pushing the problem back doesn’t answer the question.

But let’s consider the hypothesis more seriously, if, say a large asteroid hit this planet and as a result, large chunks of rock is sent out into space, with the first life somehow inside.  1. Any such impact, is likely to heat the rock, due to friction! It isn’t clear that any such simple life could withstand this. 2. In the vacuum of space it is at -270.45 °C, it isn’t clear any simple early life could survive that. 3. The asteroid in which the simple life now resides, could have been travelling for billions of years, possibly orbiting a star system for tens of millions of years, being bombarded with radiation and heat as it has a close fly by of the host star, till eventually it gets knocked out of orbital lock by a planets gravity, or hit by another asteroid. It isn’t clear simple early life can survive this. 4. Then by a set of fortuitous events, the asteroid’s orbit is in line with the planet, we call home. The asteroid enters the earth’s atmosphere and is exposed to heat of almost 1650°C, where the asteroid starts to break and burn up, further exposing the rock to heat. It isn’t clear simple early life can survive this. 5. The asteroid, assuming it was large enough, that it didn’t completely burn up, hits ground, where hopefully the early life hasn’t been destroyed by, heat, radiation, long exposure to freezing temperatures for billions of years, and periodic periods of heating up, then quick re-freezing. 

 

Conclusions

I have tried to give a broad overview of the evidence against evolution and abiogenesis, as I see it.  Necessarily the topic is far more complex and diverse than I can fully simply give it justice, but hopefully I have given you pause for thought, and given reason for you to do further investigation on this issue and come to your own conclusions.

However,  I hope you can see that the narrative often portrayed by the media and many scientists that evolution is a known fact, is blatantly false, and demonstrably so! Moreover, the evidence is best explained by a purposeful design and ultimate designer. Did this designer, use evolution, that is simple change over time, from simple life, to more complex life, possibly imputing more information at times, to create new body plans? Or did the designer do something more akin to the typical creationist understanding?  Clever people on both camps hold these views, to me however, it seems both silly and insulting to assume life arose from undirected chance alone, this view should be rejected altogether! We should acknowledge at the very least the handiwork of the Creator and give Him the honour due His name, the name that is above every other name, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen!

 

Further Reading:

 

References

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