Thursday, November 5, 2009


In this post I question some of the assumptions of both Darwinian evolutionists and intelligent designers. Intelligent designers are not to be confused with creationists. Creationists are people that refuse to consider any ideas or conjectures, no matter how they were arrived at, that are in conflict with the account of creation as found in the biblical Book of Genesis. Intelligent designers are people, often scientists, who reject Darwinian evolution as an explanation for the origin and development of life because they feel that it fails, as a theory, to explain the bewildering complexity and coherence of life forms. Perhaps the population of creationists is dwindling as more progress is made in biological research, but with the use of modern instrumentation, including electron microscopes, X-ray crystallography and DNA micro arrays, and the fantastic complexity of life that is revealed at it's most minute and 'simple' level, the ranks of intelligent designers, as opposed to creationists, are swelling.

Just as people tend to confuse and conflate creationists with intelligent designers, there is much confusion and conflation regarding the theory of Darwinian evolution itself. There are really, as microbiologist Michael Behe, the 'father' of intelligent design explains, three separate yet related Darwinian notions. The first is the theory of common descent which states that all life forms have evolved from the same original ancestor. There is seemingly a lot of proof for this part of the theory, including many similarities of structures and function in all life at the molecular level and within phyla or kingdoms or species, a remarkable similarity of structure and function at the level of visible organs and traits. From the perspective of modern science, including intelligent designers, this is powerful evidence for a common ancestor. And it does seem like a fairly reasonable assumption: if we have hair and an ape has hair and a raccoon has hair; then at some point in the very distant past, there was probably an ancestor of all three of ours that had hair. As I say, intelligent designers have no quarrel with this aspect of evolutionary theory, although I do, and will discuss this later on.

A second notion of evolutionary theory is natural selection, which is basically this: If there are a variety of species and a variety of different individuals within a species, then those species and those individuals that are more fit, that are better adapted to their environment, will survive more readily than those individuals and species that are not as well adapted. Over time the better adapted individuals will replace the more poorly adapted ones and will dominate that species, just as the better adapted species will dominate other species. Natural selection, for the most part, is also not really argued among intelligent designers. It is obviously true, but perhaps, more complicated than originally thought. The qualities that make an individual member of a species better adapted are often other than the obvious qualities of stronger and faster. Sometimes species and individual members of species survive because they are better able to float below the radar of predators. Sometimes they are better able to cooperate among themselves to get their needs met, and function better in groups. And so on. Also, as the environment keeps changing, it favors certain individuals over others and certain species over others. As the weather gets hotter then colder, then hotter, different species and different individuals within species are favored. The same is true for cyclical changes in humid vs. dry environments, warmer vs. colder ocean water, and many chemical changes; more saline vs. less, more oxygenated vs. less, more carbonized vs. less, etc. Once the basic conditions on this planet stabilized and the atmosphere became oxygenated, all indications are that environmental changes have been cyclical rather than linear. It's hard to imagine a linear evolutionary path being naturally selected by cyclical changes in the environment.

It should be noted that both of these first two aspects of evolutionary theory, common descent and natural selection, have no power what so ever to explain how anything originally got here or how anything gets more complicated once it is here. The first part alludes to a common ancestor, but from where and how did this ancestor arrive? The second deals with selection not creation. Natural selection can cull from existing types, but how do those types find their existence in the first place?

Let me just mention a word about natural selection and its limitations. Selection, natural or otherwise, is just that; a selection from existing types. If you eat at a restaurant, you select different things on the menu. You do not create the menu. You are the diner, not the chef. Now if, over time, no one selects certain dishes, and the chef or the owner is throwing out this uneaten food every night, this will put a very strong pressure on them to eliminate this dish from the menu. Also if, over time, not only are certain dishes not selected, but the entire restaurant is not selected and the customer base is dwindling, that will put pressure on the chef or the owner to come up with some new dishes and, over time, either the menu will change or the restaurant will disappear; but, again, while the selection process may pressure the chef to create new dishes, the selectors (the customers) never actually create these dishes. That is always the province of the chef or the owner. And it should be noted that if the chef or the owner lack the creativity and intelligence to come up with appealing new dishes or a new way of presenting those dishes or some change that will make their restaurant more attractive to customers, then the whole restaurant will dissappear. So, in terms of restaurants at least, their survival is contingent on the intelligence and creativity of chefs or owners to respond to the pressures of selection. Selective pressures, by themselves, create nothing.

In the theory of evolution, then, who is the chef? The only explanation for the creation of new species, new forms, new body plans and for the increase in complexity of these forms and plans in Darwinian evolution is through the avenue of blind, accidental and fortuitous mutations. Although Darwin had no way of knowing it in his day, these mutations take place, according to modern science, by an accident in the genetic copying of genes during the process of replication. Genetic sequences are long strings of nucleic acid molecules, or nucleotides, which are coded for specific amino acids. In our cells, a long series of coded nucleic acids is transcribed within the nucleus onto an RNA molecule which transports this code outside of the nucleus of the cell to a ribosome where it is translated to a corresponding long series of amino acids that, when linked together and folded, form a protein. A genetic copying accident can result in a change in a nucleic acid, which can result in a change in the amino acid that that nucleic acid is coded for. These accidental changes are very rare (about one 'mistake' in one hundred million copies) and are almost always either deleterious, and damage the mechanisms of the cell and the workings of the body; or neutral and have no visible effect at the level of either the cell or the organism; still, extremely rarely, there is a very, very rare mutation that, according to the theory, causes an improvement in the workings of the cell, that increases the survivability of the cell and the organism of which this cell is a part; and future generations will favor this positive change and in this way the organism will improve and eventually, over a very, very long time, undergo radical change.

This part, the random mutation part, is the one that most bothers intelligent designers. It just does not seem, to intelligent designers, to be a process that occurs frequently enough to deliver anything like the amazing variety and complexity of life forms that we find today. So the math does not work. Also you would expect from this sort of change a very gradual yet very consistent change among organisms so that not only would every organism be linked in very gradual clear steps to every other organism, but that these changes should have taken place at consistent, regular and frequent intervals in our history. Yet, simple observation tells us that there are no such links. Each mammal is very much a mammal and not to be confused with a bird or an insect; just as every insect is very much an insect and not to be confused with a reptile or a fish. Not just on the outside of their bodies, but each has a completely distinctive internal form of organization; there is clearly a mammalian way of organizing internal organs, a mammalian kind of digestive, reproductive and nervous system, and there are very clear and distinct avian and insectivore forms of internal organization. Also, historically, there is absolutely no evidence of this gradual, relentless change of species. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. All evidence points to the first cells appearing suddenly, about four billion years ago, at the moment that conditions on this planet supported their survival (when the surface of the Earth became cool enough to have non-boiling water). There are no traces of organic tide pools (the so-called pre-biotic soup), no traces of any organic material at all prior to the appearance of these photosynthetic, metabolizing, digesting, growing and environment sensing bacteria. Then, for two billion years after that, fully half of the entire history of life on Earth, there was absolutely no evolutionary change, in the sense of life forms changing their basic structure or complexity. Four billion years ago there were bacteria and only bacteria; and two billion years later there were bacteria and only bacteria. Now among these bacteria there were all sorts of adaptations, so that bacteria were able to thrive in all kinds of environmental conditions: extreme heat, extreme cold, high acid, high base, little water, etc. If by evolution one means adaptation, then, yes evolution was taking place. But what we commonly think of as evolution is the evolving of one species from another; of a change of shape, body plan and basic structure. In that sense of evolutionary change, for two billion years there was none.

While we're on the subject, it's important to distinguish between evolution and adaptation. If you follow traditional evolutionary thinking, these processes of change, which would have taken many, many centuries where life forms were in a kind of awkward transition; where new organs or forms were gradually taking shape, but not yet functional as they awaited the next in a series of almost impossibly rare mutations to complete their formation; these transitional forms would not be adaptive at all. In fact, they would be the very opposite of adaptive. They would be using a lot of metabolized energy to sustain equipment that was in some stage of incompletion and not yet functional. That would put them at a clear competitive disadvantage to those creatures who were not taking this terrifying evolutionary journey, and whose every organ and every calorie of metabolized energy was being used to assist in their present time survival. Clearly the most adaptive of all creatures is the single celled bacteria. They can survive in every nook and cranny of this planet and they outnumber us more complicated creatures by the trillions. If any creatures actually left the adaptive comfort of being bacteria to venture into this almost endless process of accumulated fortuitous mutations, they would be risking their survival, not securing it. Evolution, then, is the opposite of adaptation.

Much of the confusion around evolution and the vehemence on both sides of the argument, stems from the failure to distinguish between two aspects of a living organism. A living organism both produces chemicals and builds the factory where these chemicals are produced. One mutation, or a change of one amino acid, in the chemicals that a body produces to protect itself and help it digest, can make a marked improvement. One, or two sequential mutations, can confer protection from certain pathogens and allow the members of a certain species that have that mutation to thrive and replace the members of the same species that are vulnerable to that pathogen. The same is true with digestive fluids. One or two sequential amino acid changes may allow an individual member of a species to digest and use the energy of a food source that is toxic or unusable to the other members. Again, that mutation, that one or two sequence amino acid change, would confer a distinct advantage in a particular environment, and the individuals that had that mutational advantage would thrive and dominate the population of the species that were exposed to that pathogen or that food source.

There is no argument in terms of mutations being able to alter body chemicals and chemically confer advantages and disadvantages. (Although there is a strong disagreement about how this amazing system that requires genetic replication, transcription and translation, metabolism and digestion, and immune system protection from pathogens, and was brilliant enough to have variation within species and include these occasional mutations to enhance the survivability of a species; how all of this technical brilliance arrived here in the first place. Yes, there is a very big difference, not about the functioning, but about the origin of this whole system.)

The bigger area of disagreement lies in the area of mutation of the genes involved in the construction of the chemical factory itself. It is in the construction of bodies and their biological systems that we enter a world of absolutely fantastic complexity. As opposed to the manufacture of enzymes, bodies are not created with the simplicity of one genetic sequence doing this, and one genetic sequence doing that. Genes involved in the construction of bodies are fired in enormously complex sequences, and each gene sequence, which, really, produces one building material used in the construction of this factory, is combined with other gene sequences to make amalgams of other proteins for other materials, and the same gene is used in many different parts and at many different times in the construction of the body. Everything is amazingly intertwined, and does not just depend on the genome, but on the firing patterns that initiate the process of transcription and translation, of protein synthesis.

Let's think about the power of these firing patterns for a minute. In our own body, the same genome, depending on which genes are fired, produces our fetal body, our child body, our adult body and our senior body. With no change in the genome, different firing patterns produce our brain cells, nerve cells, blood cells and muscle cells. The same genome produces both the caterpillar and the butterfly. And the breathtaking biological journey of the butterfly is merely a walk to the corner store when compared to the biological odysey of some creatures like the liver fluke. Follow the journey of the liver fluke with, of course, one unchanging genome, as it is described by molecular biologist Michael Denton:

" The adult lives in the intestine of a sheep. After the eggs are laid they pass with the faeces onto the ground. The eggs hatch, giving rise to small ciliated larvae which can swim about in water. If the larvae are lucky they find a pond snail: they must do this to survive, for the snail is the vehicle for the next stage in the life of the liver fluke. Having found a snail the larvae finds its way into the pulmonary chamber or lung. Here it loses its cilia and its size increases. At this stage it is known as a sporocyst. While in this condition it buds off germinal cells into its body cavity which develop into a second type of larvae known as rediae. These are oval in shape, possessing a mouth and stomach and a pair of protuberances which they use to move about. The rediae eventually leave the sporocyst, entering the tissue of the snail, after which they develop into yet another larval form known as cercariae which appear superficially to resemble a tadpole. Using their long tails these tadpole-like larvae work their way through and eventually out of the snail and onto blades of grass, where each larva sheds its tail and encases itself in a sheath. Eventually they are eaten by a sheep Inside the sheep they find their way to the liver where they develop sexual organs and mature into the adult state. They finally leave the sheep's liver and migrate to the intestine where they mate and so complete their extraordinary life cycle."

This entire odyssey, I remind you, is done with no change in the genetic make up of the liver fluke. At this juncture, you must wonder if there is not some level of organization that is higher than the genome. We have been taught to look at the genome as an ultimate cause. But is it possible that the genome, itself, could be a a result of something else; a higher order of organization than the genes themselves?

I had an interesting correspondence with a molecular biologist recently. I will respect his request that I not publish any of his e-mails on this blog, but I do want to summarize one part of our communication. We were discussing gene transcription. To begin the process of protein synthesis, the desired strand of genetic code (nucleic acids, or nucleotides, that codes for that particular protein) must be transcribed onto an mRNA molecule which then transports this message to another part of the cell where it is translated into a corresponding chain of amino acids and then into a protein. I was wondering how the molecules that form the mRNA find that exact spot in the DNA (three billion nucleotides long in the case of human DNA) which is coded for the desired protein. He said, basically, that science has not yet figured out all the mechanisms, but for one thing, the DNA is folded differently in different cells, so that the pieces of code that are frequently used in a particular cell (like the codes for adrenal cortical hormone in adrenal gland cells and the codes for manufacturing saliva in salivary gland cells, etc.) are always located on the most exposed surface of the nucleosome so the molecules do not have to search through anywhere near three billion nucleic acid molecules. Here again is another indication of a higher order of organization than the genome itself. If there is a fantastically complex pattern of gene foldings, so that genes in different cells are folded differently, exposing the codes most used by that particular cell to the outside surface of the nucleosome; isn't this another powerful suggestion that there is a level of organization higher than the genome itself? How could the same genome determine a whole variety of different folding patterns for itself?

I told him that I thought all these microbiological processes were guided. He very adamantly insisted that they were not; that he was certain that there were mechanisms at every step, although many of these mechanisms had not yet been discovered, that explain how all these processes are accomplished within the cell according to known laws of chemistry and physics without any guidance. But I have no argument with mechanisms and understand that all these reactions must occur following inviolable physical laws. Guidance occurs not by violating physical laws but by marshaling the energy to overcome physical forces. For instance if we humans guide anything, and we do that all the time, we do it not by violating physical laws but by mechanically overcoming them to get what we want. Let me explain:

One of the ways that scientists use to describe how proteins come together, or how a molecule of a protein will find the corresponding molecule of a nucleic acid, is by using the image of a lock and key. Each protein molecule has a complex three dimensional shape. Proteins bind when, among other things, their shapes correspond with each other and 'fit,' like a key fitting into a lock.

Let's suppose that a group of aliens arrived on this planet that just did not get human beings at all and thought that we were completely and totally automated machines. Now there are some scientists who claim to think that way also. Steve Pinker and Richard Dawkins,for instance, who claim to be complete materialists, who claim that we and all of life is entirely mechanical. The thing is that although they talk that talk, they never walk that walk. Regardless of what they say, they still treat people as living beings, as creatures possessing will (who do what they want to do) and creatures capable of experiencing things. Even the worst slave drivers or Nazi concentration camp guards, realized that the people they were torturing and coercing had will and were capable of experience. Even if you want to, you cannot torture a rock. Torture implies the capacity of experience in the tortured. To get people to perform onerous labor for no reward, the slave driver knows he must coerce them. That means that he must make the punishment for refusing to do what the slave driver wants much worse than the actual doing it. The slave does what he is asked, not because he has no will or desires, but because he wants the severe punishment for not doing it less than he wants the pain and discomfort of doing it. You do not have to coerce a machine to do its work. You just turn it on.

So, aside from these intellectuals who theorize one way but behave in another, let's imagine that there were aliens, the Gonks, who landed here and really believed that we were not living beings with will and the capacity to experience, but that we were merely machines. Now the Gonks did not come to torture us (again, how could you torture a machine). They were just here to study us. And one of the things they studied was our doors, and how we got in and out of them. To that end they did comprehensive studies (they were as scientifically advanced as they were socially retarded, and could detect every minute physical detail with their non-invasive scientific instruments, but could notice nothing about mood, feeling or behavior with their naked eyes.) So they saw that when a human machine had to get through a door it focussed its two round electric cameras (eyes) on the door which sent a signal to its two stilt appendages (legs) which started propelling the machine toward the door (walking). To accomplish this on a cellular level they saw that a certain amount of metabolic energy was used to fire many thousands of neurons, setting off many thousands of chains of electrical impulses, and many expansions and contractions of leg and foot muscles. Then, as the door was approached a small brittle instrument (key) was removed by one of the hanging upper appendages (arms) from a sac located just below the waist (pocket). With the aid of the two electric cameras the brittle instrument was brought to the precise spot where there was a slit in the outside surface of the door (lock). This again was accomplished by many contractions and expansions of muscles at the part of this appendage closest to the trunk (biceps and triceps) but especially with the smaller appendages that descended at the end of the larger one (fingers). This small brittle instrument was then pushed into this slit opening and every shape of the brittle instrument matched, exactly the shapes of the cavity it was entering. More energy was applied through those lower appendages to turn the instrument which was connected to a horizontal rod. As one of the upper appendages turned the instrument the rod was released, and with the help of the cameras, the other upper appendage was moved to a round protuberance below the slit (knob) which was turned by the contraction of several muscles in these descending appendages. Then, when all the obstacles to the door opening were removed, the door then opened and the machine continued through the door on its two stilts and accessed its fuel (food). The Gonks continued these observations and calculations until they were satisfied that everything, in terms of the amount of energy metabolized, the balancing of electrical charges and the skeletal and muscular mechanics fit their physical, chemical and thermo-dynamic formulas.

So, you see, if you study our behavior 'scientifically' you would also see no guidance. That is because WE, the part of us that wills, that wants to do things and that experiences things, is not visible. As fellow human beings we can recognize what is willful in each other and, to some degree, what each other is experiencing, by the way those experiences and that will affects our body and our behavior. So we know that someone opens a door because they "want" to go inside, and that wanting is what marshals all these microscopic and macroscopic activities that the Gonks so diligently studied. But we cannot observe our wanting, or our objectives, or our purposes directly. All our willful activity is guided, but we can only observe directly the physical, electrical and chemical results of that guidance.

The same thing holds true, of course, for our man-made machines. If the Gonks chose to study any of our machines, they would see that they too, complied with all their formulas. Man-made machines are obviously guided and purposeful, but, as with our willful activity, those purposes cannot be directly observed. The purpose of the machine and the idea of the machine first existed in the mind of the inventor before it was committed to a plan on paper or on a computer screen and before that inventor marshaled the forces and the materials to manifest his idea on the physical plane. Steve Pinker babbles about 'killing the ghost in the machine,' so why can't he tell me the weight of the 'idea' that gave birth to the machine and the measurements of the will that marshaled the forces and the materials to build it?

If all our willful activity and our machines are obviously guided, what about our involuntary, non-willful activity: things like growth, replication, digestion, circulation, etc. My point is that whether or not all these activities are guided, the fact that you cannot directly observe that guidance, and the fact that all these activities conform with the basic laws of physics and chemistry, have no bearing on whether they are guided or not.

Let's get back to mutations. Putting aside the very serious considerations that there doesn't seem to be any way that enough of these extremely rare fortuitous mutations could have taken place to deliver the astonishing complexity and variety of current life forms and that historical evidence (the fossil record) leads us in a very different direction, is there something else; a very basic problem in our understanding of the construction of living bodies and our understanding of the gene itself that would make such an accidental, mutational development logically impossible? It seems to me that there are two logical problems with our understanding of mutations; one of which you may have heard of before and one of which is brand new to this post (at least I hope it is).

The first logical objection to mutations as the pathway for evolutionary change and development is the problem of coherent complexity. If we want to talk about the body as a machine, it is an enormously complex one, certainly far beyond the complexity of any man made machine. But if we take a comparatively simple machine, like say a pocket watch; all the various parts of the watch are coherent, in that they are all precisely designed to fit with each other in a way that delivers the desired result (accurate time). What possible accidental change (or even purposeful change, for that matter) in one individual part of the watch could bring about any improvement? The first thing that would happen if you change the shape of any part is that the watch would stop. It is possible that an identically shaped part of a different material could bring about an improvement(say a more durable metal part replacing a plastic part) but proteins don't work that way. All proteins are three dimensional. Any change in any amino acid part of a protein creates a change in shape. If that altered protein is substituted for another in a system of great coherent complexity, then the system, rather than improving, breaks down. It is impossible to imagine a watch changing step by step into a better watch, or a television changing step by step into a better television. Any major improvement may borrow some ideas from earlier models, but the actual construction would have to start from the beginning and not be tagged on at the end. Here are Michael Behe's words:

Some systems seem very difficult to form by such successive modifications—I call them irreducibly complex. An everyday example of an irreducibly complex system is the humble mousetrap. It consists of (1) a flat wooden platform or base; (2) a metal hammer, which crushes the mouse; (3) a spring with extended ends to power the hammer; (4) a catch that releases the spring; and (5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back. You can’t catch a mouse with just a platform, then add a spring and catch a few more mice, then add a holding bar and catch a few more. All the pieces have to be in place before you catch any mice.

Natural selection can only choose among systems that are already working so irreducibly complex biological systems pose a powerful challenge to Darwinian theory.Irreducibly complex systems appear very unlikely to be produced by numerous, successive, slight modifications of prior systems, because any precursor that was missing a crucial part could not function. Natural selection can only choose among systems that are already working, so the existence in nature of irreducibly complex biological systems poses a powerful challenge to Darwinian theory. We frequently observe such systems in cell organelles, in which the removal of one element would cause the whole system to cease functioning. The flagella of bacteria are a good example. They are outboard motors that bacterial cells can use for self-propulsion. They have a long, whip like propeller that is rotated by a molecular motor. The propeller is attached to the motor by a universal joint. The motor is held in place by proteins that act as a stator. Other proteins act as bushing material to allow the drive shaft to penetrate the bacterial membrane. Dozens of different kinds of proteins are necessary for a working flagellum. In the absence of almost any of them, the flagellum does not work or cannot even be built by the cell.
Molecular machines are designed. Biochemistry textbooks and journal articles describe the workings of some of the many living molecular machines within our cells, but they offer very little information about how these systems supposedly evolved by natural selection. Many scientists frankly admit their bewilderment about how they may have originated, but refuse to entertain the obvious hypothesis: that perhaps molecular machines appear to look designed because they really are designed.

Advances in science provide new reasons for recognizing design.I am hopeful that the scientific community will eventually admit the possibility of intelligent design, even if that acceptance is discreet and muted. My reason for optimism is the advance of science itself, which almost every day uncovers new intricacies in nature, fresh reasons for recognizing the design inherent in life and the universe.**

Now this was excerpted from an article that appeared in Natural History Magazine, a magazine with a clear anti-design bias. Therefore to refute Behe, they must have searched carefully for the best rebuttal to his argument that they could find. Here's what they came up with, excerpted from a rebuttal argument to Behe by biologist Kenneth R. Miller:

Parts of a supposedly irreducibly complex machine may have different, but still useful, functions. Ironically, Behe’s own example, the mousetrap, shows what’s wrong with this idea. Take away two parts (the catch and the metal bar), and you may not have a mousetrap but you do have a three-part machine that makes a fully functional tie clip or paper clip. Take away the spring, and you have a two-part key chain. The catch of some mousetraps could be used as a fishhook, and the wooden base as a paperweight; useful applications of other parts include everything from toothpicks to nutcrackers and clipboard holders. The point, which science has long understood, is that bits and pieces of supposedly irreducibly complex machines may have different — but still useful — functions.

Evolution produces complex biochemical machines.Behe’s contention that each and every piece of a machine, mechanical or biochemical, must be assembled in its final form before anything useful can emerge is just plain wrong. Evolution produces complex biochemical machines by copying, modifying, and combining proteins previously used for other functions. Looking for examples? The systems in Behe’s essay will do just fine.

Natural selection favors an organism’s parts for different functions.He writes that in the absence of “almost any” of its parts, the bacterial flagellum “does not work.” But guess what? A small group of proteins from the flagellum does work without the rest of the machine — it’s used by many bacteria as a device for injecting poisons into other cells. Although the function performed by this small part when working alone is different, it nonetheless can be favored by natural selection.

Is that the refutation of Behe? This silliness misses Behe's point entirely. Yes, someone could use my stomach for a wine sac; could use my intestines to tie down luggage to the roof of a car, and play castanets with my teeth. That someone would, of course, not be me, because I, no longer having a stomach or intestines would be long dead. Behe's whole point is that there must be a continuous biological function. If any organism along the way uses its digestive system to play music, tie luggage or for any other purpose, what, in the world are they going to digest with? The point is that the digestive system, or the locomotion system, or the circulation system has to change increment by increment while still being a working digestive, locomotion or circulating system. How was this organism metabolizing before it 'learned' to metabolize? How was it eliminating before it 'learned' to eliminate? Unlike when we remodel our home and move out to a hotel for a month while new plumbing and new wiring is installed; biologically we couldn't have moved into a primordial hotel for fifty million years while our body was developing new nervous and digestive systems. Moving out is what we call death, the end of the line, biologically, evolutionarily, or otherwise. However long these evolutionary processes were supposed to take, all the basic biological processes must have been continuously functional throughout the entire process; and not only functional, but functional at a level of efficiency that enabled them to compete with other organisms that were not going through the radical upheaval of a process of evolution.

The second logical objection to mutations as the engine of structural changes in living bodies is actually the thesis of this post. (Were you wondering when I was going to get around to the thesis?) While intelligent designers make convincing arguments of math, history and coherent complexity, their assumption is always that if there were a way to explain how that many coherent mutations could have accumulated (which there is not) then that would convince us of the validity of Darwinian evolution. These arguments still miss the mark. The visible genome, as we see it and measure it, cannot, by itself, account for the entire construction of a living body, so mutations, or changes in the genome, cannot account, by themselves, for changes in that construction.

To make my point I would like you to think about the construction of man-made machines (by the way, if there is a reasonable gender neutral way of saying 'man-made' please let me know. I've come up with a few, but they all sound ridiculous.) How do you create a machine? Machines begin, like all man-made things begin, with a desire. You want to be able to do something, or accomplish something that you are not able to do. This unsatisfied desire creates a kind of stirring, a restlessness. You think about what you want and the obstacles that you must overcome to get what you want. Out of this restlessness comes the idea for a machine. Once you commit to actually manifesting this machine on a physical plain, you inevitably encounter other obstacles which require further ideas to overcome them. So the manifestation of a machine is usually the result of several 'hmmmm' moments as you run into obstacles, followed by several 'aha' moments as you come up with ideas to overcome these obstacles.

Beyond the kind of energy that you choose to operate your machine (mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc.)the idea for a machine consists of two parts. The first part is choosing or, if necessary, inventing, the materials that you need that have the right characteristics (the right strength or suppleness or rigidity or porousness, etc.) and the second is the shape that these materials must be formed into to direct the energy to its desired result. So the idea consists of materials and shapes. And finally you need a plan. The plan is the actual logistics of accumulating the materials you need in the right amounts and the right order to get the job done, and then the method of shaping these materials to achieve the exact contours that you need to get the desired results.

At this point I wanted to show you a video of the construction of a large building using time lapse photography. Please excuse my technical ineptness, but you will just have to imagine such a video. You have probably seen one at sometime. You see bulldozers excavating a hole in the ground; cranes arriving, and the building growing from the ground up, a process that probably took many months, if not years, consolidated to the span of a minute or two.So please make believe that you just watched such a video. Thanks.

Everything that is being constructed is the physicalization of first an idea, which consists of the materials and the shape of the building, and further a plan to get these materials in the right order to the job site and to shape these various materials to the exact size as indicated by the plan. Of course, you cannot see the plan on the video, but obviously the workers and the foremen were following these plans at every step of the construction. And, of course, the idea, itself, can never be directly observed. It existed solely in the mind of the architect before it was committed to paper or to a computer screen. I don't want to belabor the point, but I do have to emphasize that the building could not be built without both a method for delivering the right materials, in the right order, and a specific design of the shape of the building with a means of achieving that shape.

So if you go back to the video (that you were supposed to have just seen), you see that bulldozers arrived first to dig a hole for the foundation and then cranes arrived to move heavy materials into place. If the cranes got there before the bulldozers that would create an inefficient logistical nightmare. The cement must come before the iron girders which must come before the dry wall which must come before the office furniture, etc. Everything must arrive and leave the construction area in sequence. Suppliers must be notified in time so that they can manufacture the materials and deliver them to the site when they are needed. And everything has to take place according to not just a plan of sequence but a plan of shape. The bulldoze drivers need to know how big and how deep to make the hole. The steel workers need to know the outer dimensions of the building, etc. The materials and the shape that these materials take is dictated by the plan which is the first stage of physicalization of a non-physical idea in the mind of the architect.

Biological machines also consist of various materials and shapes. Biological machines are necessarily more complicated than man made machines because a living body not only constructs these various machines, but also manufactures the materials out of which these machines are made. There are macroscopic machines that we are all familiar with, like hearts and kidneys and livers and lungs and there are microscopic machines within individual cells. A microscopic cellular machine that has been studied intensively over the last several years is the flagellum. A flagellum is a kind of outboard motor which allows a bacterium to move about in a liquid medium. Here is an excerpt of Michael Behe's description of the construction of the flagellum from his book, The Edge of Evolution:

Just as the outboard motor of a motorboat in our everyday world consists of a large number of parts (propeller, spark plugs, and so on), so does the molecular outboard motor. The flagellum has dozens of protein parts that do the particular jobs necessary for the complex system to work. Those dozens of proteins are coded by dozens of genes in a bacterial cell. The genes are grouped into fourteen bunches called "operons." Next to each operon in the DNA are control signals. The control signals themselves fall into three categories we'll call class 1, class 2, and class 3. The genes for proteins that have to be made first in the construction process have class 1 control signals, those genes that go second have class 2 signals, and so on.

Most of the time, a bacterial cell isn't building a flagellum, because it already has one. However, after cell division a new cell has to start the construction program. To begin, the DNA control regions for class 1 genes mechanically "sense" that the time has come and switch on class 1 genes. There is just one operon in class 1, which contains just two genes. The genes code for two protein chains, which, like the alpha and beta chains of hemoglobin, stick to each other to make a single functioning protein complex. That protein is neither a part of the flagellum nor a part of the construction machinery. Rather, it's akin to the foreman of a project, who has to tell the other workers what to do. Let's call it the "boss" protein.

The boss protein binds specifically to the DNA control regions of the seven class 2 operons, mechanically turning them on. Class 2 genes code for the proteins that make up the foundation of the flagellum (plus some helper proteins), just as you'd expect in bottom up construction. One class 2 gene, however, isn't part of the foundation. It's another control protein. Let's call it the "subboss" protein. The subboss protein binds to the DNA control region of class 3 genes, which comprise proteins that make the outer parts of the flagellum. So each class of genes contains the gene for a protein that will turn on the next class.

But that's not all. Clever as that part is, the control system is much more finely tuned than just the cascading control proteins. For years researchers knew that if the genes for any of a score of protein parts in class 2-the ones that made up the foundation of the flagellum-were experimentally broken in the lab, the genes for the outer parts of the flagellum would remain switched off. But how could so many genes all control later construction?

Class 3 contains a gene for a protein that binds tightly to the subbboss protein, inactivating it. Let's call that the "checkpoint" protein. Why turn on the sub boss only to immediately inactivate it with the checkpoint protein? Later in the construction project, a clever maneuver gets rid of the checkpoint protein. The flagellum not only is an elegant outboard motor, but also contains a complex pump in its foundation, which actively extrudes class 3 protein parts to form the outer portion of the structure.

Here's the elegant trick. When the pump in the foundation of the flagellum is completed and running, one of the first proteins to be extruded is the checkpoint protein. Getting rid of the checkpoint protein releases the subboss protein to bind to the control regions of class 3 operons, switching on the genes for the outer portion of the flagellum. So the completion of the first part of the flagellum is directly linked to the switching on of the genes to make the final parts of the flagellum.

In just the past few years a group of Israeli scientists has developed clever new laboratory techniques to analyze in even finer detail the control exerted by DNA control elements on the construction of the flagellum. By successively joining the control elements to the gene for a protein that can be detected by its fluorescence, the scientists showed that, even within classes 2 and 3, the control elements switch the genes on in the order that they are needed for construction. Within class 2, the genes needed for the bottom of the foundation are switched on before the genes for the top of the foundation, and within class 3, genes for the bottom of the top are activated before genes for the top of the top.

The same group of scientists has examined DNA control elements for other cellular systems and discovered similar elegance there. When they studied cellular biochemical pathways for making amino acids, they discovered what is called "just-in-time" organization, where a protein is made as close to the time it's needed as possible:

Mathematical analysis suggests that this "just-in-time" transcription program is optimal under constraints of rapidly reaching a production goal with minimal total enzyme production. Our findings suggest that metabolic regulation networks are designed to generate precision promoter timing and activity programs that can be understood using the engineering principles of production pipelines.

What does all this jargon mean? Simply put, the more closely we examine the cell, the more elegant and sophisticated we discover it to be. Complex, functional structures such as the cilium(tiny hairlike organelles that can help a single celled creature move through a liquid medium, or help larger creatures move material through internal ducts) and flagellum are just the beginning. They demand intricate construction machinery and control programs to build them. Without those support systems, the final structures wouldn't be possible. The bacterial flagellum contains several dozen protein parts. The cilium, which so far has resisted investigation of its DNA control program, has several hundred. There is every reason to think that the control of its construction will have to be much more intricate than that of the flagellum.

Control of construction projects and other activities in the cell is difficult for scientists to investigate, because "control" is not a physical object like a particular molecule that can be isolated in a test tube. It's a matter of timing and arrangement. The upshot is that even now in the twenty-first century-more than fifty years after the double helical shape of DNA was discovered by Watson and Crick, and decades after the first X-ray crystal structures of proteins were elucidated-science is still discovering fundamental new mechanisms by which the operation of the cell is controlled.

Recently-some sixty-five years after George Beadle and Edward Tatum proposed the classic definition of a gene as a region of DNA that codes for an enzyme-an issue of the journal Nature ran a feature with the remarkable title "What Is a Gene?" The gist of the article was that the control systems that affect when, where, and how much of a particular protein is made are becoming so complex, and their distribution in the DNA so widespread, that the very concept of a "gene" as a discrete region of DNA is no longer adequate. Marvels the writer, "The picture these studies paint is one of mind-boggling complexity."

The discovery of 'control' elements in the DNA supposedly make the creation of new biological structures through accidental mutations more feasible,since the mutation of just a few 'control' genes can alter the firing and replication patterns of many sub-genes; but consider these words by molecular biologist Jonathon Wells:

"Natural selection works only within established species.Darwin’s finches and many other organisms provide evidence that natural selection can modify existing features — but only within established species. Breeders of domestic plants and animals have been doing the same thing with artificial selection for centuries. But where is the evidence that selection produces new features in new species?

Major evolutionary changes require anatomical as well as biochemical changes.New features require new variations. In the modern version of Darwin’s theory, these come from DNA mutations. Most DNA mutations are harmful and are thus eliminated by natural selection. A few, however, are advantageous — such as mutations that increase antibiotic resistance in bacteria and pesticide resistance in plants and animals. Antibiotic and pesticide resistance are often cited as evidence that DNA mutations provide the raw materials for evolution, but they affect only chemical processes. Major evolutionary changes would require mutations that produce advantageous anatomical changes as well.

The four-winged fruit fly is an....“icon of evolution." Normal fruit flies have two wings and two “balancers” — tiny structures behind the wings that help stabilize the insect in flight. In the 1970s, geneticists discovered that a combination of three mutations in a single gene produces flies in which the balancers develop into normal-looking wings. The resulting four-winged fruit fly is sometimes used to illustrate how mutations can produce the sorts of anatomical changes that Darwin’s theory needs.

This fly does not provide evidence for evolution. The extra wings are not new structures, only duplications of existing ones. Furthermore, the extra wings lack muscles and are therefore worse than useless. The four-winged fruit fly is severely handicapped — like a small plane with extra wings dangling from its tail. As is the case with all other anatomical mutations studied so far, those in the four-winged fruit fly cannot provide raw materials for evolution."

How could only three mutations in a single gene change the balancers into normal 'looking' wings? Because these genes are part of a whole series of 'control' genes. Control genes, like hox genes, realisator genes, gap genes and pair-rules genes are genes that, once fired, signal the firing of a whole series of other genes which results in the manufacture of a whole series of proteins. These control genes have supposedly given fresh new evidence of how accidental mutations could create new anatomical structures leading to brand new organisms. But as Weller points out they do nothing more than rearrange existing structures, and in the case of mutations of these genes, lead, not to an advancement, but to a horrible deformity in which a poor organism has 'extra' structures but not all the other connections (musculature, nerve connections, brain connections, adjustments in support mechanisms and equilibrium) to make these extra structures functional. What is becoming increasingly clear is that an organism is not an accidental chance amalgam of individual genes, but a functional whole and any major change in one area requires changes and adjustments throughout.

Going back to the example of building construction, these regulator genes act as supply agents for construction materials. If I were in charge of the construction of a building, there are many suppliers that I would have to call in the proper sequence and with the proper timing so that all the materials I would need would arrive at the right time at the construction site. Suppose there was a supply agent for building foundations. In other words, all I would have to do is contact him and he, in turn, would see to it that all the bulldozers, the cement mixers, the gravel, the re-enforcing bars, the lumber for the wooden cement troughs, in other words everything that was needed for the foundation and in the proper amounts, would be there at the construction site at the exact right time that they were needed. And, perhaps, going one better than that, suppose when that foundation supply agent was nearing the end of his check list, that he would contact the wall supply agent, who, in turn, would make sure that all the supplies necessary for the walls would arrive in sequence, and he, in turn, toward the end of his work would contact the roofing supply agent. In this way, with just one initial signal, my call to the first supply agent, the entire sequence of needed materials for the first excavation all the way to the last interior decoration would be guaranteed to arrive when and where they are needed. Please notice that all of this still says nothing about the actual constructing, the actual shaping and design of the building. For that I need builders, and even if I had automated builders, they would still need to have a plan, a design to follow so that all these materials could be fashioned into the required shape to make the entire building work.

My point is that as complicated as the manufacture of proteins and their timing and their delivery to the exact construction sites are, all of that still says nothing about how these proteins are shaped into the precise shapes that allow elegant structures like the flagellum to function. As was said earlier in discussing the video of the building construction, we need both the proper materials, their delivery to the proper construction sites and, of course, the plan from which the building is shaped. Where is the plan that determines not the materials, but the shape of biological machines? Now don't confuse the shapes of the protein molecules themselves with the contours of whatever it is that the protein molecules are building. Protein molecules can bind with other protein molecules to make amalgams of proteins, which have a very specific and unique shape, but these are only the building blocks of biological construction. They no more determine the shapes and contours of organs and organelles than the shape of bricks determines the shape of brick houses, or the shape of grains of sand determines the shape of sand castles. The analogy of Lego-pieces is often used to illustrate in a simple way how proteins inter-lock. But if the inter-locking mechanism of the Lego toy were only capable of creating one shape, how many Lego games would be sold? The whole point of the Lego game is that with a few hundred identically shaped pieces, with the same inter-locking system, one can create many, many shapes. How many more varieties of shapes would be possible with identical protein molecules that number not in the hundreds but in the thousands and millions and billions? And it is the shape as much or more than the material that creates the functionality of any machine, man made or biological.

Let's go back to Michael Behe's words. In his fairly detailed description of the construction of both the cilium and the flagellum, there is not a word of explanation regarding shape. All of Behe's description regards how the genetic sequencing determines how the various proteins arrive at the construction site in the proper amounts and in the proper order. The flagellum construction begins with a base of three rings. Each of these rings is composed of different proteins, and each has about twenty-six copies of their particular protein. But why a ring? Why not a line, or an oval, or a squiggle, or a rectangle, all of which shapes could be achieved with any of these proteins? The flagellum would not work with any other shape as its base. But who knows this? Not the protein molecules, and certainly not the genes which merely allow their code to be copied at a certain moment, which moment they do not directly determine. Perhaps there is some, as yet unknown mechanism; perhaps there is a circular ring of charges complementary to the charges of the protein molecules of the first ring at the cell wall. But what would be the origin of this ring of charges if they do exist? Certainly it would not be any part of the gene code for the ring proteins. It would have to have been established by a previous gene (if there is anything to sequential genetic evolution). Does that mean that the arrival of genes creating the proteins for the flagellum which supposedly happened by 'accidental' mutations was preceded by genes that prepared the way for this circular form? If that is the case, what is the origin for that circular set of charges in the cell wall? And what is the genetic antecedent for that? Are we saying that genes have foreknowledge of future mutations and pave the way for them by building charging patterns to determine their shapes? How can genes have foreknowledge of mutations if mutations are accidental, and how can genes have knowledge of anything if they are simply submicroscopic strings of nucleic acids?

The cilium is a hairlike shape. The method of construction is called IFT. These are raft-like proteins that travel up and down the sides of the cilia carrying new protein building materials in the construction phase and carrying replacement proteins in the maintenance phase after the cilium is constructed. On the way down from the tip of the cilium, these IFT rafts remove no longer needed construction equipment and during the mature life of the cilium, the IFT remove used up proteins that have been replaced by fresh ones. The length of the cilia in relation to the rest of the cell body is crucial to its efficacy. Although Michael Behe explains in great detail how all the protein material arrives there, he says this regarding the actual length and breadth of the cilium, "Apparently some as-yet-unknown switching mechanism senses how much material the cilium needs at any particular moment and changes the proportion of freight cars (rafts) between 'cargo-capable' amd 'cargo-incapable' as the need arises.'

The protein motor that powers the IFT rafts to the tip of the cilium (kinesin) is different than the protein motor that powers the raft on the way back (dynein). Behe writes, "Exactly what causes IFT to shift from kinesin-powered transport to dynein transport at the tip of the cilium remains unknown." But that shift, those rafts reversing direction, is what creates the tip. The exact spot where those IFT reverse direction determines the length of the cilia. What is it that the IFT are bumping up against that causes it to change direction? How does the cilia know exactly how long it needs to be? And what, if anything, does this have to do with genes?

So we see with the flagellum and the cilium, although much has been written about their various protein components, their genetic antecedents and how they are transcribed, translated, folded and delivered to the construction site at the precise time that they are needed, nothing is written and nothing is known about how they actually achieve the exquisite and exquisitely precise shape of cilium and flagellum, which shapes are the essential factors that enables them to do their work, that enables them, in fact, to be, cilium and flagellum.

If the shaping of these microscopic features of single celled creatures cannot be explained by any genetic mechanism, then how could they have 'evolved.' In the case of the first flagellum ring, the exact same twenty-six proteins could form any shape. If, accidentally, they formed a ring some billions of generations ago, there is nothing in the genetic sequence to distinguish those twenty-six proteins that formed a ring from those many, many sets of twenty-six that did not. And there is nothing, directly in the genetic sequence that can guarantee the replication of that ring once it was accidentally achieved. As I've said before, shape, any shape, although specified by a genetic sequence is not created by a genetic sequence. Something else is at work, and that something else is the true creative power and intelligence behind the construction of living beings. It is the shapes and the fact that all these shapes are functional that is truly wondrous. When we see pictures of the developing human embryo, there are changes in the protein materials, of course, but it is the changes in shape, the emergence of that human face and human hands and feet and a whole raft of exquisite and exquisitely functioning internal organs from a seemingly non-descript collection of cells, that really astonishes us. The genome provides the necessary materials in the right sequences, but it is the shaper that creates the human being. Without the shaper all that would be created is an undifferentiated mass of proteins.

One of the main, if not the main 'proof' of evolution is the repetitive patterns of shapes found throughout the plant and animal kingdom. This has led evolutionists to conclude that these commonly shaped traits are homologous; that they have evolved from the same genetic origin. But on further inspection, many of these seemingly homologous forms are manufactured by different genes following different embryonic pathways. In other words, the same shapes repeated over and over, but with different materials and different means of manufacture. What does this remind us of from our own world of man-made manufacture? We see, for instance, wheels made from rubber, from plastic, from iron and wood. We see them appearing in all different kinds of mechanical settings; all with the same basic shape and serving the same basic purpose, but used and manufactured in many different ways. Why is this? Because the wheel is an idea, and machines are created by combining existing ideas in novel ways.

What I am saying is that the genome is really an idea for a machine and the construction of that machine, and each gene is an idea of how to build a smaller sub-machine within that larger machine. The idea for a machine consists of two parts: the appropriate materials and the shape that these materials should take. What we have been able to observe regarding genes is the material part; how genes specify proteins. What can only be observed by its results is the idea of shape. We see the proteins manufactured from a genetic code being delivered in the right sequence to a construction site, and then we see those protein molecules assuming an exquisite and exquisitely precise shape. But the plan for that shape cannot be seen. Only the results of that plan can be seen.

Is there an actual, measurable plan? Some say there is: an energy body, or an astral body that exists prior to the physical body. This astral body is, supposedly, a subtle pattern of positive and negative charges that is the plan for all the ideas of shapes and shapes within shapes connected to that genome. The growing body of multiplying protein molecules expands along the contours of this astral body, positive to negative and negative to positive. I am not arguing, at the moment, about whether this is true or not; or if further research and more delicate instrumentation will reveal the existence of this astral body. But whether it is true or not, the next question would be: how did that astral body, or that "plan" get there? How does an idea on the non-physical plane, in the universal mind, suddenly translate into a physical body, with or without the intermediary of an energy body?

Does it seem a little too 'metaphysical' or too weird to you that an idea could 'magically' translate into a physical reality? But look at anything and everything that you ever created. Didn't that creation originally start as an idea? an idea that has no measurable, physical reality; just like the idea for the design of a building in the mind of the architect? But, you say, that idea did have a physical reality, an electro-magnetic reality, caused by the firing of neurons in my brain. But whatever idea you have, whatever thought or conception, on any topic and any laguage, verbal or non-verbal, it is associated with the firing of neurons of identical construction which yields a flow of electrons of identical voltage and deposits of identical chemicals. And that is true if these ideas or conceptions are taking place in your brain or my brain. How to explain the amazing sameness of these electrical and chemical responses with the amazing variety of conceptual stimuli? Isn't it clear then that neuron firings may be caused by an idea, may be used as a device to record our ideas, but that they are not the ideas themselves? That we have a thought, or an idea which leads to the firing of a pattern of neurons which leads to the stimulus of muscles and speech, which leads to further thoughts and actions, which leads, ultimately, to the actual manifestation of these ideas on paper or canvas or wood or clay? Isn't this basically the same process as a cosmic idea manifesting into an electrical pattern of form (astral body) manifesting into an actual physical body?

In the last fifty years science has uncovered an enormous amount of information about the chemical development of life, but nothing about the development of shape. How could the genome possibly explain, for instance, the enormously complex and constantly changing shapes and shapes within shapes of the developing human fetus? The genome of the initial fertilized egg is identical with the genome in every one of the one hundred trillion cells of the adult body. Through embryonic development the genome is replicated first millions, then billions and then trillions of times over, identically. Yet in each part of the body a different shape is created, and shapes within shapes, and all these shapes are constantly changing and are responsible for the functioning of all the various organs and their perfectly coordinated activities. Doesn't this obviously tell us that their is a central control, an over arching plan that is somehow connected to the genome, but that is not created or controlled by the genome?

As I said earlier, the idea for a machine comes out of a desire to accomplish something and a knowledge of the obstacles that must be overcome in order to accomplish that. The idea consists of two parts : the appropriate materials needed and the form that these materials must take to direct the energy to accomplish the desired task. A gene involved in the construction of a living body is an idea. The visible part of this idea is the manufacture and delivery of the appropriate materials (proteins) in the right sequence (firing pattern). The part that we do not see directly, but can only see the results of, is the idea of shape. As new proteins are manufactured and delivered to a construction site, they fill out a shape; a shape that already exists in the mind of God, or, if you prefer, in the cosmic consciousness.

Sometimes evolutionary change requires no change in the genome at all. Witness all the various incarnations of the liver fluke, all done by firing different genes with different patterns within the same genome. All that means is that many, many dramatic changes of shape can be wrought using different arrangements of the same materials. But sometimes a new idea will require a new material, and then a gene must be added. But a new gene involved in the construction of a living body can never be just added on. It's much, much more complicated than that. It must have it's own new delivery system and must be integrated into the firing patterns of many firing sequences with its own set of control genes and its own method of being delivered to various construction sites. The entire organism must be adjusted to accommodate this new gene and new structure, including adjustments in nerve and muscle connections, in sense of equilibrium, in the whole real estate of the brain since a new area must be set up to process information coming from this new structure and going to this new structure, etc., etc. For humans it would be an amazing,impossible, overwhelming endeavor. For God, or the Cosmic Consciousness, it may just be what She does.

Are there any hmmmm moments followed by aha moments when the Universal Mind is creating new structures and, possibly, adding new genes? Who knows? Perhaps that intelligence is out of time and space and already has the solution of any environmental problem before it actually occurs. Perhaps it is all foreseen. I like to think of it otherwise. I like to think of it as the Universe's loving game. As organisms continue in this process they get more and more complex and as they do the number of options of things that can be done, by building on all the existing structures (all the previous ideas) gets narrower and narrower. But coming up with an amazing solution that involves microscopic adjustments in gene sequences, firing patterns, metabolism, equilibrium, nerve and brain function, and still results in a completely integrated being that is actually more equipped, more able to deal with its environment in new and interesting ways, a creature that has more options than previously, is, it seems to me, a loving challenge worthy of the transcendent intelligence of the Universal Mind.

Going back to the hapless, isolated accidental mutation, and again I remind you that I am not talking about a mutation in the gene of a chemical that the body produces, but a mutation in a gene involved in the construction of the body itself; it should now be clear that such an accident could never result in anything but damage to the existing structures. There is no new integration, no new plan, no new firing pattern, and no idea. It is just a change in a chemical, or in the case of the accidental replication of a control gene, it may be the replication of a whole extra form, or extra idea (although it would never mean the creation of a 'new' idea). But that isolated extra 'idea' like the four winged fruit fly, would be just that: not a new idea but an isolated, disconnected useless repetition of an already existing idea, separate from all the myriad interwoven ideas that make up a complex living organism.


Please comment. Your thoughts are always welcome.


Ben said...

Wonderful stuff, Matt.
I'm just reading the new book "Wetware" by Dennis Bray, about the new ideas in systems biology which reminds me of some of the points you make.

PS the term "man-made": "artificial" or "synthetic" might avoid the gender issue. said...

Hey Matt! Thought this would interest you, an award-winning, peer-reviewed paper that postulates the existence of a black hole at the center of every atom. This does away with the "strong force". The "weak" force has been demonstrated to be just a property of electro-magnetism. So (like I predicted a comment or 2 ago) science has caught up with spiritualism and the universe is governed by 2 forces... gravity and electromagnetism.

Matt Chait said...

Interesting. I still think it makes a lot more sense to think of the two forces as ying and yang rather than gravity and electro-magnetism. Please read my post YIN YANG AND BEYONG! Also, see if you can track down any copies of a magazine called 'The Order of the Universe' by Michio Kushi.

Rudy Davis said...

Hi Matt,

Wow. Just Wow. This may be your most comprehensive and detailed post yet. I love the way you addressed Dawkins, Pinker, Ken Miller and Michael Behe in a single post! I am still your biggest fan and I feel that when I am reading your articles that I am peering into the mind of an intellectual genius yet to be recognized by the mainstream.

The only addition I would offer is that when I think about the complexity required to create the Universe and the processes which ultimately result in ourselves, I am filled with an overwhelming since of gratefulness to this guiding intelligence for going through the trouble to create me and everything and everyone that I experience. I guess since this is Thanksgiving, it is even more appropriate that I feel grateful.

I have read several books from Pinker, Dawkins, Miller and Behe but the writings of Chait are the most inspiring. I hope one day you will get a bigger audience to listen to your wonderful ideas and thoughts about a guiding intelligence.

Thank you Matt for the effort and time to share your thoughts and a have a great Thanksgiving!

Matt Chait said...

And I thank you for all your support. I completely agree with you that so much is given. The insights expressed in this blog have been given to me also. That's why I don't consider it egotistical to say that I think they are very exciting. I received them; they excited me and I wrote them down.
I have a statcounter, so I can tell how many people are reading this material. Certainly, I would like a much wider audience, but what is most important is that there are at least some people out there that are getting it, and are as excited to read these ideas as I was to receive them. That's why your enthusiasm is so important to me.
I know we have politicial differences and we probably disagree about a host of issues. So what? We are brothers, brother.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

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Ann R. Key said...

Intelligent Design is not science. When a scientific discovery is made, it allows humans to make predictions about natural phenomenon. ID does no such thing.

Matt Chait said...

Ann R. Key,
Did you read this post at all? Better yet, did you think about this post at all? I never said I was an ID'er. I never said ID was a science. I never said I was predicting anything. By the way, evolution is a horrible predictor of any phenomena. All it does is look back and say, "the reason this species or this trait survived is because they were better able to survive." If that kind of tautology floats your boat, then so be it. I am not talking about predicting things, I am talking about changing the context of your life, no matter what you experience. Do you think of your life as the predictable unfolding of a yet to be discovered formula; or do you think of your life as a wondrous, unpredictable expression of universal love and consciousness? I will predict that if you change the context within which you hold your experience, that the contents of your experience will also change, but that is beside the point.
Anyway, why would someone by the name of Ann R. Key be interested in a predictable life? If you thought about it, you really wouldn't want it. If you do, you should change your name to Min Otto Nee.

Ann R. Key said...

Matt, I read some of the post. Perhaps I assumed from the earlier portion of the post that you were an IDer. You stated that creationist and IDer's are different. I happen to be one of those that believe IDer's are creationist trying to squeeze creationism into the science lab. IDer's do believe that the biological organisms have an intelligent designer just like creationist. I further believe you are trying to make a similar argument using the Universal Mind. You tell me. By the way, evolution has applications in the real world. Evolution Applications Everyone's experience is different and the context of someone's life is different depending on the different circumstances. In one important aspect, all of our lives are predictable. We are all going to die. The road we travel is wondrous for some, but very brutal for others. No change of context will change the fact that my wife was handed a crappy hand. Believe me, you wouldn't want to trade places. She has more health problems than one should have to bear. As for my "name", that is based on a political philosophy. A social science. Specifically: Philosophical Anarchism It has nothing to do with the predictability of nature. Moreover, not everything in nature is predictable, e.g., the random mutations. Nevertheless, scientific discoveries do allow us to make predictions. Perhaps the simplest example would be falling bodies.

p.s. Good catch on my "name". That has slipped by many.

Matt Chait said...

Ann R. Key,

I should be good at spotting phony names. I used to write this blog under the name Miss Tickle, but stopped because people were expecting a porno blog rather than a mystical blog.

Anyway, I do find it exasperating that you continue to comment on this post without having read all of it or thought about any of it. You may think that you are bringing the clear light of reason into the fog of mysticism, but nothing could be further from the truth. Of course I know that there is something called random mutations and natural selection. Of course I know that scientific discoveries allow us to make predictions. You say ‘You tell me.” The blog is over 200 pages long. If you care to read it and think about it and comment about what I actually wrote and not just spit back something you read in a Richard Dawkins article, then I will be happy to “tell you” anything that you or I may have missed.

Ann R. Key said...

Matt, That was rude. I have a brain of my own, I don't need a Richard Dawkins article to speak my mind. If I were to "spit back something" it would more likely be something from Christopher Hitchens. And it wouldn't be because Hitchens somehow opened my eyes, it would be because what Hitchens has said I had already believed. One doesn't need to be an Einstein to know the simple truth. I am what you would call a "material materialist". Things that cannot be observed are irrelevant. Therefore, even if there is a God, God is irrelevant. For this God is obviously not participating in the affairs of humanity.

If you don't find my commentary worthy of a response, so be it.