INTELLIGENT DESIGN: Darwin’s Dilemma

October 21, 2018 | By More

Many people today believe that the origins of life on this planet can be explained by an evolutionary process, where inorganic material spontaneously produced organisms who “crawled out of the primeval mud,” and who, after eons of time culminated in the human being. This is the theory propounded by Charles Darwin in his book, The Origin of Species where he gives incontrovertible evidence of organisms mutating in response to their environment through ‘natural selection’ or survival of the fittest.

However he did not claim that this process explained the appearance of the first living organisms. He said: “Our ignorance is as profound on the origin of life as on the origin of force or matter” (The Origin of Species)

He nevertheless theorised that evolution could be responsible for the origins of life, though he makes this caveat:   “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”. (The Origin of Species)

Darwin was working in the mid nineteenth century, when  cells were considered simple accumulations of protoplasm.  The invention of the electron microscope came almost 100 years later, in 1936 and was followed by the discovery of DNA in 1953. The extraordinary complexity of the sub-atomic world was revealed – a world of which Darwin was unaware.

The self-confessed flaw in Darwin’s evolutionary theory is now coming to light: Many microbiologists now believe it is impossible for DNA to have evolved by the “numerous, successive, slight modifications” required for Darwin’s theory to hold.

 

There are two main reasons:

1) There can be no cellular functioning without DNA.  It is the ‘command centre’ of every living cell. Therefore DNA must have been in place before any evolutionary modifications could take place. Without it, the necessary systems of reproduction, sensory capacity and adaptability to environment could not have been acquired.

2) “Irreducible Complexity”: a term coined by microbiologist Michael Behe. He and others, claim that DNA is of such inter-related complexity that it is virtually impossible for it to have developed incrementally; any evolutionary antecedants would have been dysfunctional. Behe said in Darwin’s Black Box: “Evolution cannot produce something where there would be a non-functioning intermediate. ‘Natural Selection’ only selects those structures which are functional”.

Biologist Frank Salisbury said in Nature of DNA:  The entire system must come into being as one unit, or it is worthless.”

So, if DNA, which contains all the genetic information necessary to make a daisy into a daisy or me into me, could not have developed progressively through time, then how could it have arisen?  Here we get into the old controversy between the “evolutionists” – those who believe in the spontaneous generation of life from inorganic material, and “creationists” who believe that life is the handiwork of a Creator /God. Today many scientists ardently uphold Darwin’s evolutionary theory; indeed it has been widely presented as fact, rather than the hypothesis it is.

Einstein said : “Science and Religion are branches of the same tree”   However there are many who see the two as irreconcilable.  It may be difficult to accept the concept of a Mind/Intelligence higher than our own.

 

DESIGN

And yet there is evidence of a mind at work in the design of our DNA.  The fundamental property of all design is: Idea Precedes Implementation.  Before we consider making anything it first exists in our mind as a mental construct or idea.

Life is preceded by DNA, which contains the blueprint/design/idea for all life forms  …for a bacterium – an oak tree- or a human being.  The DNA molecule represents more than itself – it is the design for an entire living organism.

Designs require a designer – a creative mind. And in the case of DNA a supremely intelligent one. Every one of the 37 trillion cells which comprise the human body contains the DNA/genetic material for the entire body. Each cell extracts from its DNA the information it needs to perform its own particular task, according to its designated role in the body…… and how to  best serve the interests of the entire organism, sometimes giving precedence to another organ in greater need of a certain nutrient. This is a holistic communications network far more aware and  sophisticated than any man-made system.  It is a spectacular process born of a  spectacular design.

 

INFORMATION

There is a difference between ‘pattern’ and ‘design’. We see self-replicatory growth patterns in fractal formations throughout the natural world . It is information which mainly differentiates pattern from design; fractals carry no information, whereas the information carried in DNA is immense.  It is an encoding and decoding mechanism that stores and transmits the message of the living organism. The code consists of the letters A,C,T,G, which in 3 billion interactions determine cellular function.

Codes are a means to an end . Information is always distinct from the medium that carries it, whether it be a book or DNA, and always conveys the intentions of an intelligent mind.

 

THE HUMAN BODY

The trillions of cells which comprise our body interact with eachother moment by moment and are orchestrated so brilliantly that we are unaware of the incredible activity going on within us.  We give no thought to the amazing transformation that a ham sandwich goes through to become us … a part of our cellular identity. In a matter of hours it becomes completely transformed into human material, requiring no conscious effort from us…. except maybe to decide whether it tasted good..!.

Many scientists believe that life can be explained by purely biochemical processes, but they have been unable to prove that these could self-organise into living organisms…and are unwilling to admit the possibility of an unknown Mind / Intelligence behind these processes.

 

SCIENCE AND RELIGION

If we can accept that there is a Mind with an “Intelligent Design” which underlies creation, then we step beyond the parameters of Science and into the domain of Religion /Spirituality.  However there are many, including Einstein, who think there is no distinct boundary between the two ; that Truth transcends man- made boundaries . All the monotheistic religions are founded on the principle that there is a Creator..(whether he is named God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahman or The Life Force)  ….who is “ omnipotent and ubiquitous” – who created everything and is to be found in everything.  Science has revealed the marvels of DNA without which no life can exist ….  is present in all living things… and shows all the hallmarks of being the “Intelligent Design” of a great Mind

It can be overwhelming to believe that we owe not just our own existence, but all life around us to a Higher Intelligence, yet it can be argued that DNA research makes this conclusion preferable to the alternative: that inorganic material  can, in a single generation, organise itself into a complex coding system which produces life.   

If Darwin were alive today, I wonder where he would stand on the issue….

 

Rosemary Scragg

Ottawa,  August 2018

Category: Articles, Spirituality & Meditation

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