The Creation Explanation
|Intelligent, Purposeful Design in Nature|
Design in Living Creatures
The beetle with twin assault rifles. The Bombardier beetle, Brachinus, protects itself from its enemies by firing a hot charge of chemicals from two little swivel tubes in its tail. In 1961 Professor Schildknecht in Germany published the results of a careful investigation.1 Brachinus possesses in its body twin sets of apparatus consisting of two glands producing a liquid mixture, two connected storage chambers, two "combustion chambers" (this term is Professor Schildknecht's), and the two external tubes which can be aimed like flexible guns in the tail of a bomber.
Upon analysis, the stored liquid was found to contain ten percent hydroquinones and 23 to 25 percent hydrogen peroxide (sometimes used in rockets). Such a mixture, Schildknecht reported, will immediately begin to react in a test tube, rapidly turning brown. In the beetle's storage chamber the liquid is preserved unreacted, clear and colorless, for long periods of time. Why? The explanation is still unknown to science. Some undiscovered physical or chemical principle prevents reaction until some of the liquid is squirted into the combustion chambers, where two enzymes (catalase and peroxidase) bring about an immediate, violent explosion. The resulting products are vaporized and fired under pressure, boiling hot, at the enemy (at a temperature of 100oC.) Spiders, ants, and even predators as large as toads are effectively repelled by Brachinus' chemical warfare.2
Note that a rational evolutionary explanation for the development of this creature must assign some kind of adaptive advantage to each of the millions of hypothetical intermediate stages in the long process of evolutionary development of this remarkable artillery. But would the stages of one-fourth, one-half, or two-thirds completion, for example, have conferred any advantage? After all, a rifle is useless without all of its parts functioning. One small part missing or malfunctioning renders the rifle useless except, perhaps, as a club.
Is the Bombardier's artillery any different in this respect? Before this defensive mechanism could afford any protection to the beetle, all of its parts, together with the proper explosive chemicals, plus the instinctive behavior required for its use, would have to be assembled in the insect. A partially developed set of organs would not work. Therefore, according to the principles of evolutionary theory, there would be no selective pressure to cause the system to evolve from a partially completed stage toward the final completed system. This singular defense mechanism, so perfectly designed, raises a major problem for evolutionary theorists who imply that their theory explains everything.
In recent years some efforts have been made to show how beetles which produce evil smelling, corrosive chemicals related to hydroquinones could have evolved into Brachinus.3 Another carabid beetle apparently mixes hydroquinones with a little hydrogen peroxide in a chamber in its tail. A noxious repellent foam is exuded on its back. To evolve into Brachinus all this beetle had to do was to evolve its chamber into two chambers separated by a valve, evolve glands to produce two enzymes, find out how to store a mixture of hydroquinones with a seven-fold excess of hydrogen peroxide without having them react immediately, evolve the gun turrets aimable around an arc of 270 degrees, and evolve the necessary control systems and instinctive behavior. Simple, wasn't it? Prof. Thomas Eisner of Cornell University says it really happened.4 He tries to make it sound easy, but we can be excused for our skepticism.
To recapitulate, the general problem is as follows: If a particular type of organism, organ, or behavior did, in fact, originate by random mutations and natural selection, it should be possible at least to conceive a plausible series of hypothetical intermediate stages covering the entire assumed history of the unobserved evolutionary process. Furthermore, it should be possible to demonstrate logically that each proposed intermediate stage or mutation would confer a selective advantage upon the organism. According to the theory, there would be no reason for selection of intermediate stages unless they were advantageous. But such an explanation, including description of the intermediate stages and their advantageous character, is rarely accomplished. This is why we say that evolutionary theory fails to explain Brachinus and the other organisms which are described below. If a theory fails to explain the data in any field of science, that theory should be either revised or replaced with one that is in agreement with observation. Now examine the additional examples given in this chapter and draw your own conclusions.
figure 1-1. A specimen of Bombardier Beetle, Brachinus tschernikhi, found near San Diego, California, from the collection of the San Diego Museum of Natural History.
A lizard on the ceiling. The tropical gecko lizard can walk across your ceiling upside-down without falling off. How? Until a few years ago scientists did not know, though they proposed several theories. Examination of the toe pads of the gecko with optical microscopes at up to 2000 diameters magnification revealed thousands of little fibers arranged like the tufts of bristles in a toothbrush. Yet the question remained unanswered. An answer was finally provided by the powerful scanning electron microscope, which was able to take a series of remarkable photographs magnified to 35,000 diameters or more.5 What was revealed?
The gecko has on its toe pads many millions of fine fibers tipped with little suction cups, each about eight millionths of an inch in diameter. In conjunction with this, the lizard's feet are designed so that the toe joints bend or curl upward(try it sometime) so that he can peel the suction cups off gradually at each step and not get himself too firmly stuck to the surface. It is estimated that the gecko has at least 500 million suction cups on his toes. The extraordinary microscopic structure of the gecko lizard's toe pads clearly suggests intelligent, purposeful design. No remotely plausible scheme for the origin of the gecko's suction cups by random mutations and natural selection seems possible. Just try to imagine such a scenario yourself. Did an ancient species of lizard start with one suction cup on each toe, then go to two, four, eight....? And should some scientist with a clever imagination succeed in devising a plausible scheme, he would still be without a scrap of fossil evidence to demonstrate that it is actually a fact of earth history.
figure 1-2. Each chevron-shaped ridge of the gecko's foot pads is composed of thousands of fibers tipped with microscopic suction cups.
Do drinking giraffes have headaches? Darwin wrote in his Origin of Species that he had no difficulty in imagining that a long period of drought could have caused some hypothetical short-necked ancestors of the giraffe continually to stretch their necks higher and higher to reach the diminishing supply of leaves. He had no fossil evidence, of course, for such an evolutionary history. He also apparently was not aware of certain problems peculiar to giraffes which made his easy assumption of giraffe evolution even more difficult to accept.
The giraffe heart is probably the most powerful in the animal kingdom, because about double usual pressure is required to pump blood up that long neck to the brain. But the brain is a very delicate structure which cannot stand high blood pressure. What happens when the giraffe bends down to take a drink? Does he "blow his mind?" Fortunately, three design features have been included in the giraffe to control this and related problems. In the first place, the giraffe must spread his front legs apart in order to drink comfortably. This lowers the level of the heart somewhat and thus reduces the difference in height from the heart to the head of the drinking animal, thereby reducing the excess pressure on the brain.
Second, the giraffe has in his jugular veins a series of one-way check valves which immediately close as the head is lowered, thus preventing blood from flowing back down into the brain. But what of the of the blood flow through the carotid artery in the neck leading to the brain? A third design feature is the "wonder net," a spongy tissue filled with numerous small blood vessels and located near the base of the brain. The arterial blood first flows through this net of vessels before it reaches the brain. It is believed that when the animal stoops to drink, the wonder net in some way controls the blood flow so that the full pressure is not exerted on the brain. It is also believed by scientists that probably the cerebrospinal fluid which bathes the brain and spinal column produces a counter-pressure which prevents rupture or leakage from the brain capillaries. The effect is similar to that of g-suits worn by fighter pilots and astronauts. Leakage from the capillaries in the legs due to high blood pressure is also probably prevented by a similar pressure of the tissue fluid outside the cells. In addition, the walls of the giraffe's arteries are thicker than in any other mammal.
Some careful investigations and measurements of blood pressure have been made in live giraffes in action. However, the exact manner in which the various factors operate to enable the strange creature to function has still not been clearly elucidated. Nevertheless, the giraffe is a great success. When he has finished his drink he stands up, the check valves open up, the effects of the wonder net and the various counter-pressure mechanisms relax, and all is well. Not even a headache.6
Bats and whales that "see" with their ears. Bat echo-location capabilities are well-known but bear another look. The small insect-eating bats are master sound technicians.7 When hunting in the dark, they emit rapid sequences of ultrasonic chirps, for the most part inaudible to human ears. Each chirp lasts about two milliseconds and is frequency-modulated; that is, it begins at a very high frequency, around 100,000 cycles per second, and sweeps down to about half of the initial frequency. It is believed that this enables the bat to determine the size and other characteristics of objects which reflect echoes to the bat's ears. The shorter wavelengths reflect better from the smaller objects. The bat cannot be fooled by a pebble but will only capture insects. The most recently reported research on this subject reveals something of the extremely sophisticated mathematical analysis of echoes which groups of neurons in a bat's brain carry out with great rapidity. The bat is able to construct three dimensional "acoustic images" of multiple objects in space around the bat out to a distance of about 16 feet.8 This feat is duplicated repeatedly to give the bat an acoustic "moving picture" of insects in space around the bat, enabling the bat to locate flying insects accurately and catch hundreds of them per hour.
We will only briefly mention the striking sonar capabilities of dolphins, porpoises, and whales, which enable these creatures to perceive their obscure watery surroundings with amazing accuracy. The United States Navy has failed to duplicate their sonar technology.
The motorized microbe. The most thoroughly studied bacterium is Escherichia coli, E. coli for short. Shaped like a fat sausage about 1/10,000 inch long, this bacterial cell has some half-dozen flagella which protrude from its sides and trail behind. Motion of these flagella propels the bacterium through the fluid medium in which it lives--in our intestinal tract. But don't worry; it is a friendly resident--usually. Until the late 'sixties it was assumed that the flagella wiggled, but the discovery that they rotate initiated a wave of intense scientific study that continues to this day.9 It was found that the flagella, not completely flexible, actually have the form of a corkscrew or helical propeller. Each one is attached to a flexible tubular structure, a kind of universal joint which transmits rotary motion around a corner. This connects to a shaft which passes through a disk fixed in the cell wall which serves as a sleeve bearing and is probably also the stator of the motor. On the inner end of the shaft is the rotor of a constant torque, variable speed, reversible rotary motor! This motor is energized by a flow of positively charged protons, so it is in a sense an electric motor. Adding to this complexity is a sophisticated control system.
Surely evolutionary scientists can explain how this fantastic biological mechanism evolved. But the fact is that they can't. In the final paragraph of a 50-page review article, Dr. Robert Macnab says, "As a final comment, one can only marvel at the intricacy, in a simple bacterium, of the total motor and sensory system which has been the subject of this review and remark that our concept of evolution by selective advantage must surely be an oversimplification. What advantage could derive, for example, from a `preflagellum'(meaning a subset of its components), and yet what is the probability of `simultaneous' development of the organelle at a level where it becomes advantageous?"10 In 1980 Prof. Howard Berg of the California Institute of Technology, when challenged, could offer no evolutionary explanation except to assert, "It can be done." Nor could biology Professor William Thwaites of San Diego State University explain the origin of the microbe's motors in a phone conversation aired live on talk radio in April of 1983.
In the light of this and the other examples of design in biology which have been described in this chapter, we assert that one is not the least bit "unscientific" if he or she believes that bacterial flagella and all of the other basic design features of living organisms are, indeed, what they appear to be, the products of intelligent, purposeful design.
figure 1-3. An engineering sketch of an electric motor of the bacterium, Escherichia coli.
The butterfly that "invented" velcro. The Monarch butterfly is a bundle of miracles in its sequence of metamorphoses during development from egg to butterflyanatomy, behavioral instincts, transcontinental migrations, and precision navigation.11 One anatomical structure which is essential to the survival of the species is the cremaster possessed by the chrysalis. The four stages of development are egg, caterpillar, chrysalis (or pupa), and butterfly. In three days the egg, 1/20th inch long, hatches a baby caterpillar, 1/10th inch long. Stuffing itself with milkweed leaves for three weeks, the caterpillar sheds its skin three times and grows to a length of 1.2 inches. One day the handsome black, white and yellow caterpillar spins a little button of silk on the undersurface of a twig. Then it marches along under the twig and attaches its two hind pseudo feet to the silk button. After a while it lets go of the twig and hangs head down from the silk button. Soon the caterpillar begins convulsing, and its skin splits at the head and starts to roll up so the light green shell of the chysalis can be seen. In only about 45 seconds the skin has entirely rolled up, exposing the entire chrysalis. Now the hind feet of the caterpillar, connected to the chrysalis only by the inside lining of the hind gut, provide the only connection of the chrysalis to the twig. If the skin should separate now, the chrysalis would drop to the ground. In this case, when the butterfly emerged eight days later, the wings would probably be damaged and the insect would perish. But in the flick of an eyelash, a black rod-like cremaster is thrust from the hind end of the blind chrysalis and into the silk. On its end is a bulb covered with several hundred microscopic hooks. This is the perfect device to hook into the button of silk on the first pass. Immediately the chrysalis twists the cremaster several times to screw it tightly into the silk. Now the chrysalis is securely attached to the twig, and the discarded skin falls to the ground. The whole dramatic transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis took only 60 seconds!12
So who invented Velcro? The Monarch butterfly invented it! Or did accidental, purposeless, unplanned evolution invent it? The author challenges the entire evolutionary science establishment to explain how evolution created this device and the coordinated instinctive behavior. Remember that this highly integrated system of structural design and the sequence of instinctive behaviors must work without fail if the species is to survive. All the other marvelous mysteries of the creature become useless and impossible if the cremaster and the button of silk do not exist, and if the chrysalis does not have the instinctive behavior to use them correctly. What kind of system existed before this system was "invented" by evolution? What sequence of trial and error mutations and natural selection had to take place to perfect this system? How could the species survive while this was happening? There are no satisfactory scientific answers to these questions, no testable scientific theories. It is not the least bit "unscientific" for us to conclude that God created the Monarch and that God designed Velcro.
I am reminded of a a conversation between two robots in the newspaper cartoon, "Frank and Ernest." One robot is holding in his mechanical hand a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species. He says to his associate, "Nuttiest research and development program I ever heard of!"
Each creature a designed, integrated system. Every living creature is an integrated system which lives and functions as a whole. An excellent example of this is provided by the worker honeybee. Consider certain parts of the worker bee's body and their vital functions.13
figure 1-5. The honeybee was created according to a highly integrated design. The numbers refer to the numbered design features listed in the above text.
Without all of these design features and many more the worker bees could not function in the hive; as a result the hive would perish. Actually, the entire hive of bees functions as a single living organism. The queen controls the life and development of the hive by means of chemical substances called pheromones which circulate through the hive population in the food supply. The social organization in the hive is truly marvelous. One of the most remarkable features of this organization is the dance language used by a returning worker to inform other bees of the location and preferred course to a new source of nectar. The honeybee is surely the result of intelligent design.
The same may be said of the orb weaving spider. The selection of several protein formulations which she incorporates in up to seven different kinds of silk and the complex spinnarets having hundreds of microscopic holes through which the precisely formed threads are spun have not been explained on the basis of accidental, purposeless evolution.14 The beautiful design of the orb web is a miniature engineering wonder, but the spider learns her web-building technique from no one. The spider was, so to speak, hatched with a degree in web engineering. It may also be pointed out that no fossil evidence exists to prove the evolutionary origin or ancestor of spiders. The mute orb-weaving spider bears eloquent witness to the reality of design in nature.
1. Schildknecht, H. and K. Holoubek, Angewandte Chemie, Vol. 73, 7 Jan. 1961, pp. 1-7.
2. Aneshansley, Daniel J., Science, Vol. 165, 4 July 1969, pp. 61-63; Miller, Julie A., Science News, Vol. 115, 19 May 1979, pp. 330-331; Farb, Peter, The Insects (Life Nature Library, Time, Inc., New York, 1962), pp. 120-121.
3. Weber, Christopher G., Creation/Evolution, III, 1980, pp. 1-5.
4. Angier, Natalie and Dick Thompson, Time, 25 Feb. 1985, p. 70.
5. Gennaro, J.F., Natural History, Vol. 78, Aug. 969, pp. 36-43.
6. Carr, Archie, Land and Wildlife of Africa (Time, Inc., New York, 1964), pp. 62-63; Warren, James V., Scientific American, Vol. 231, Nov. 1974, pp. 96-105.
7. Griffin, Donald R., Echoes of Bats and Men (Doubleday Anchor, Garden City, N.Y., 1959).
8. Dear, Steven P., et al., Nature, Vol. 364, 12 Aug. 1993, pp. 620-623.
9. Berg, Howard, Scientific American, Vol. 233, Aug. 1975, pp. 36-44; Manson, Michael D., et al., Journal of Molecular Biology, Vol. 138, 1980, pp. 541-561; Berg, Howard C. and Steven M. Block, Nature, Vol. 309, 31 May 1984, pp. 470-472; Lipkin, R., Science News, Vol. 144, Dec. 1993, p. 388; Blair, David F., Biophysical Journal, Vol. 65, Nov. 1993, pp. 1751-1752; Berg, Howard C. and Linda Turner, ibid., pp. 2201-2216.
10. Macnab, Robert M., CRC Critical Reviews in Biochemistry, Vol. 5, Dec. 1978, pp. 291-341.
11. Poirier, Jules H., From Darkness to Light to Flight: Monarchthe Miracle Butterfly (Published by the author, San Diego, CA, 1995).
12. Koontz, Robert, research at the Creation-Science Research Center, San Diego, Calif.; Kofahl, Robert E., photography under direction of Dr. Koontz; Gottfried, Carlos F., "One of Nature's Most Incredible Phenomena: The Monarch Butterflies," Proceedings of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, Vol. 62 (1990), pp. 127-160.
13. Farb. Peter, ref. 2, pp. 125-132.
14. Shute, Evan, Flaws in the Theory of Evolution (Craig Press, Nutley, N.J., 1961), p. 136.