The Creation Explanation
|Intelligent, Purposeful Design in Nature|
Some Mystery Construction Engineers of the Sea
1. The Venus Flowerbasket sponge and blind building crews.
Sir Alister Hardy describes a number of mysterious natural wonders in his book, The Living Stream.24 The Venus Flowerbasket sponge (Euplectella aspergellum), about the size and shape of a cucumber, has a rigid skeleton constructed of silica (mineral glass) needles called spicules. It is a cylindrical framework of the needle-like spicules which form lengthwise struts and circular hoops at right angles to them (see figure 1-8). Resistance to twisting is provided by the insertion of diagonal bars to form spiral geodesics in the framework.
figure 1-8. The silica skeleton of a Venus Flowerbasket sponge. It is constructed like the steel framework of a high rise building, with longitudinal members, circumferential members as right angles to them, and with diagonal braces to prevent twisting.
Now consider in figure 1-9 a sketch of the construction of a portion of the Venus Flowerbasket's framework by an extended multi-nucleated sponge cell. Note that the construction cells have no brain and no nervous system. The question comes to mind, "How can these blind cells that have no brain and no nervous system connecting them together know how to build just a single spicule, let alone the entire marvelous three-dimensional skeletal structure of the Venus Flowerbasket sponge?" Science has no answer. That God alone knows and can know is, in the light of the available evidence, still a viable position for any scientist to hold.
figure 1-9. A multinucleated sponge cell constructing a complex spicule made of silica extracted by the cells from the sea water. The spicule will be glued to others to construct the marvelous three-dimensional skeletal structure of a Venus flowerbasket sponge
2. The Scavenger Home-Builder Cells
Our next mystery begins with the death of a sponge such as the one we have just described. The dead cells and other soft materials decompose, leaving the framework to break up into tiny silica spicules and settle down into the ooze on the bottom of the sea. Other species of tiny, single celled organisms called arenaceous foraminifera, look under the microscope like formless amoebae. Most species of foraminifera secrete tiny shells of lime in which to live, but the species with which we are concerned build tiny houses from spicules of lime or silica dropped from dead sponges! In figure 1-10 we see sketches of these houses magnified about 35 times. Technitella legumen builds a home shaped like a hollow cigar a little more than 1/16th of an inch long (sketch A). Sketch B shows an enlargement of the structural detail, two layers of spicules cemented together at right angles for strength. Sketch C shows a different design used by another species of foram. In sketch D we see a much enlarged view of how different lengths and shapes of spicules are fitted and glued together by our tiny amoeboid architect/craftsmen. These sketches have been adapted from The Living Stream.
figure 1-10. A: This hollow cigar-shaped structure a little over 1/16th inch long is home to a single arenacious forminifera cell. B: The fine structure made of silica sponge spicules cemented in two layers at right angles for strength. C: Another species of foram make a spicule home shaped like a many-sided prism. D: Fine structure of C, showing how the foram selects and fits together many different lengths and shapes of spicules to make its home.
Let us now think together about the origin of these remarkable abilities and activities of the industrious and cooperative single cells of the sponge and of the enterprising amoeba-like foraminiferan architects. Can science show how the architectural plans for the Venus Flower basket and for the foraminiferan homes are "remembered" by the single cells? Supposedly these plans are stored in the DNA coded information of these organisms. Are they? Can this be proved? No, it cannot be proved. If it cannot be proved, how can we be sure? We can be sure only through an invincible faith, but faith is not science. Can it be proved, then, that these abilities were produced by evolution, rather than being created by the Creator of all things? No. Thus we are left with a choice between competing faiths.
If a scientist believes in evolution, he must assume that some process of gradual evolution taught these cells how to do what they do. Let us imagine the little amoeba-like foram squishing around in the dark ooze at the bottom the shallow sea. Perhaps he finds himself in an area where there is not really enough calcium in solution to form the little lime shell that most species of forams live in. So our little foram finds himself with no home on his back. But this is dangerous, so there is selective pressure to "figure out" a new kind home that can be built with available materials. One day while he is squishing through the ooze, he stumbles onto a bit of building material, a tiny silica spicule from some poor dead sponge. Our foram just has by chance a mutation which gives him the behavioral trait of hanging on to that first spicule and, perhaps, to a second one. But what is he to do with them? They are of no value to him now, and it is tiresome to drag them around. Nevertheless, we must imagine him and thousands of his descendants doing so until, finally, another mutation endows some of them with the ability to produce an underwater glue. Next, another mutation gives some of them the behavioral trait of gluing two spicules together, for no reason at all and with no advantage except, perhaps, that it is easier to drag them around glued together in one piece. You see, in this evolution business, both forams and scientists must be quite resourceful and imaginative in order to have a reason for existence. The forams have no intelligence and evolution has no goal. Their only hope of escaping extinction lies in an amazing sequence of chance, undirected, stumbling, unplanned mutations that finally enable them to construct from the almost microscopic spicules tiny boxes in which to live. Now by further mutations and natural selection, they "learn" to improve the quality of the house design, how to select just the right lengths and shapes of spicules, how to reinforce their walls with two layers of spicules set at right angles to each other, how to use spiral struts to increase the strength of tubes, how to go in and out, etc., etc.
Does this foray into speculation and imagination a la Darwin sound like science? Does it even sound plausible? Only if one is forced to think this way because of a previous choice to reject divine creation in favor of "creation" by some chance process of evolution. But the assumption is not a scientific conclusion. It is a philosophical or religious belief. There is no scientific evidence to prove that the complex designs of any living things originated by chance, without God the Designer and Creator of all things. In all of human history no complex new design has been observed to come from any source other than intelligent human minds. Therefore, we conclude that belief in creation by God is better in accord with the sum total of evidence than is belief in evolution. A scientist who is a Christian believer can investigate such wonders of the natural world with the glory of God as his goal. Furthermore, research with this motivation and faith commitment can be and has been every bit as fruitful for the advancement of scientific knowledge as research carried on by scientists who have other faith world views and motivations to guide their research.
Sir Alister Hardy, in his little book, The Living Stream, cited above, came to see that classical evolutionary theory cannot explain much of the data of biology. He concluded that there must be an intelligent Spirit in nature, which he referred to as God. He identified himself as not being an orthodox Christian, but he believed that some kind of a God must exist to guide evolution to produce the marvels he observed in nature. This is the concept of theistic evolution, not biblical creation. But most scientists are so totally given over to a materialistic world view that they will never listen to Hardy with much more than condescending skepticism. But the uncompromising biblical position is superior to Hardy's mixing up of materialism with theism. The facts of biology support the biblical record of special creation of the original kinds of plants and animals, which were made to reproduce after their respective kinds, not to evolve into new kinds. The Christian who simply believes the Bible and pursues the service of God and of his fellow men in obedience to the law of God and the gospel of Christ possesses the Truth and has the key to wisdom. Let us not compromise God's Truth, regardless of who or how many around us may reject the Truth as it is in Christ Jesus.
In concluding this topic, let it be emphasized that the Venus Flowerbasket sponge and the scavenger forams are absolute mysteries to scientists. They have not the slightest hint of how these creatures can exist and function without God. Nor is their origin by evolution either documented or explained.
24. Hardy, Sir Alister, The Living Stream (Meridian Books, World Pub. Co., N.Y., 1968), pp. 226-231).