The Creation Explanation
|Life -- Miracle, Not Accident|
New Discoveries of Molecular Biology
Largely since 1970 the new techniques of recombinant DNA technology have been developed in molecular biology to unlock the coded messages of the long DNA molecules in living cells.17 An utterly amazing picture of complexity, diversity, and variability has been revealed in the genes and chromosomes. It is now know that many genes are not continuous chains of the four nucleotide codons. They are spit up into two or more segments called "exons." Separating the code-bearing exons are "introns," DNA segments which do not code for proteins. Many chromosomes are found to include numerous copies, sometimes hundreds, of a particular gene. Another common feature in many chromosomes is long segments made up of short sequences of DNA that are repeated perhaps hundreds, even thousands of times.
It has also been found that some genes or segments of genes, called transposable elements, can move rather easily to different positions in the chromosome or to a different chromosome (These have sometimes humorously been called "jumping genes"). A most important advance in the progress of molecular biology was the discover that small circular DNA molecules in bacterial cells, the plasmids, are able to transmit genes for resistance to antibiotics or other functions--from one bacterium to another, or even from one bacterial species to another. And there are other surprising processes which change and mix the DNA of organisms. In transduction some viruses pick up DNA segments and carry them into bacteria, where the DNA is incorporated into the bacterial chromosome. Mostly observed in microorganisms, gene transfer also is know to occur in some higher organisms. Several of these naturally occurring processes have been harnessed by scientists to insert foreign DNA including entire genes or groups of genes into the chromosomes of chosen target organisms. These techniques are the basis for the new technology of genetic engineering by which special strains of bacteria are genetically tailored with genes which enable them to produce medically and industrially important hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and chemical compounds. A practical example of this is the industrial production of the human insulin hormone. This means that people with diabetes can now inject themselves with pure human insulin which is totally free of contamination with allergins from cattle or pigs.
But does this vast new body of knowledge about the intricacy, diversity and variability of DNA in living organisms provide a testable scientific explanation or theory for the origin of life and for the evolutionary descent of all species from one or a few original simple life forms? The answer to this crucially important question is NO. The fact is that, as of this time (1994) at the level of the genes and chromosomes, there are no mechanistic explanations or testable scientific theories for (1) biological inheritance of specific complex structures, (2) embryonic development, e.g., from egg to chicken, (3) speciation, or (4) true evolutionary change, i.e., the origin of new kinds of plants and animals which possess new complex design features.
Let us explain and substantiate this assertion. Molecular biologists have the capability of determining the entire sequence of the nucleotides(genetic code letters) in the DNA molecule in a simple organism such as a bacterium. An international genome project has been initiated to determine the entire human genome. As we pointed out earlier, for the E. coli bacterium this would be about 3,800,000 genetic code letters, which would fill a book of about 1,300 pages with 3,000 letters on a page. For the 46 human chromosomes it would be some six billion code letters filling 2,000 books of 1,000 pages each. So for the more complex organisms, we would have a small library of books filled with the DNA information from a certain species. Let us turn this book or library for a particular species over to a group of scientists and ask them to determine for us from this total DNA information what the structure, functions, and behavior of this species are. They could not do it. Thus, although scientists understand fairly well how the DNA is inherited and how particular genes for particular protein molecules are inherited, they do not know how to relate the DNA information to what the organism actually is. That is, from the nucleotide sequence in the DNA they cannot tell what structures, functions and behavior are being inherited. For example, it is not known what the information for the construction of a feather, a tooth, or a liver is. Nor is it known how such information is stored in the DNA. Thus, at the molecular level of the structure of the genes and chromosomes there is no testable scientific theory for biological inheritance.
In like manner, scientists cannot predict the course of embryonic development from the DNA coded information,18 Consider the following quotation from an article entitled "The Molecular Architects of Body Design" which explains results of the latest studies of embryonic development:
All animals develop from a single fertilized egg cell that goes through many rounds of division, often yielding millions of embryonic cells. In a dazzling and still mysterious feat of self-organization, these cells arrange themselves into a complete organism, in which bone, muscle, brain and skin integrate into a homogenious whole.19
The article reports a wealth of information about groups of similar genes in fruit flies, mice and humans that control the production of proteins which direct the order of segment and structures in the developing embryos. This research is very important, but it still does not reveal how the information for the structural designs are stored in DNA and how the information is converted into the actual structures, for example, a tooth, a feather, or a liver. Thus we can assert that science still cannot explain why an egg turns into a chicken in 21 days. Is it not obvious, then, that science cannot explain how an amoeba turned into a university professor in 3 billion years?
Nor do they know just what happens to bring about the formation of a new species.20 It is obvious, then, that on the level of molecular biology where all the action is supposed to be, science lacks either demonstrable mechanistic explanations or testable scientific theories for evolutionary change.21 If scientists cannot explain why an egg becomes a chicken in 21 days, it is certain that they cannot explain how an amoeba became a university professor in 3 billion years. What evolutionary scientists do have is hope that some day they will have the explanations and theories they desire.
This hope is not science; it can be and is a motivation for research by scientists who believe in evolution. On the other hand it should be observed that the contrary belief can be a motivation for new thinking and research on the part of scientists who believe in creation. A good illustration of this is the hypothesis in genetics advanced by A.J. Jones which was described earlier in this chapter.9 It is to be hoped that geneticists who believe in creation will undertake research to test this and other new ideas. Such research can demonstrate the fact that hypotheses constructed within the creation conceptual model or framework for biology can indeed proved to be fruitful for science.
Speciation is a process which is part of the evolutionary scenario for the history of life and also of the creation model for biology. There is no question that new species have developed since the Flood of Noah, but the new species have all been within the boundaries of the created kinds. The created kinds undoubtedly are higher categories than species, perhaps at the level of genera or families. However, secular biologists will agree that Charles Darwin's Origin of Species failed to explain the actual mechanism of speciation. Prof. Ernst Mayr of Harvard University wrote concerning Darwin's Origin of Species, "Darwin failed to solve the problem indicated by the title to his work."22 A recent review article on "Genetics and speciation" by Dr. Jerry A Coyne of the Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, begins with the following synopsis: "Called the 'mystery of mysteries' by Darwin, speciation is still a little-understood area of evolution. Genetic analysis, however, has yielded new generalizations about speciation and suggests promising avenues of research."23 In his concluding paragraph Coyne quotes D.J. Futuyama's complaint that speciation is"more thoroughly awash in unfounded and often contradictory speculation than any other single topic in evolutionary theory."
As we have explained in Chapter-1, the central problem for evolutionary theory is the origin not of species, but of complex new biological designs. If two populations of organisms can exist in proximity to each other without interbreeding, they are considered to be different species. There are numerous examples of pairs of good species which are so similar to each other that to distinguish between them requires microscopic examination of specimens by an expert. This kind of variation, and even more striking change, is part of the creation model for biology. It is the origination of new species which have complex new biological designs not possessed by the species from which they diverged that pose the real problem for evolution. This problem has not been solved, for the sequences of intermediate fossil types needed to document the process of change are not to be found, the testable scientific theory to explain the origin of new complex designs does not exist, nor have the mechanisms to produce the new designs been discovered and demonstrated.
Another important unanswered question about biological inheritance is whether or not all of the information necessary to describe any organism is actually carried in the DNA and the cell structure. A materialistic scientist would, indeed, must say YES to this question. But we really do not know this for a fact. That it is so can only at this point be a working assumption for biologists. But there is some indication that the correct answer to the question is NO. Let us consider the complexity of the human brain. The cerebral cortex contains about 10 billion neurons, each one connecting by dendrites to from 100 to thousands of other neurons. If we assume just 100 such connections for each of the 10 billion neurons, the resulting network contains 100x10 billion = one trillion connections. These connections can be made in 108,400,000,000,000 different patterns.24,11 If the particular pattern used in the human brain is coded for in the DNA of human chromosomes, the required information totals 2.8x1013 bits, i.e., 28 trillion bits. (Note: One bit is the uncertainty dispelled or the information gained by obtaining the correct answer to a single yes-no question.) But the human chromosomes, containing 3x109 DNA code letters can carry a maximum of 2 bits of information per code letter for a total of only 6x109, that is, 6 billion bits compared with the 28 trillion bits needed to specify the neuronal network. Certain possible corrections to these calculations can alter the above figure to a maximum storage capacity of 4 billion bits in the human chromosomes compared with 7 trillion bits to specify the brain network. The human genome is still insufficient by a factor of 1,400 to specify the pattern of the brain network. And this does not allow for any information storage for the rest of the human body, functions and behavior.
Some secular scientists have noted the above problem and offered possible solutions. However, no really satisfactory solution has yet been proposed. The problem is neatly transformed into a non-problem by faith faith in the omni-competence of the genome. If it should turn out that there is, indeed, such a great insufficiency of required biological information stored in the chromosomes, where is it stored? If it is not stored in some cell structures, where can it be? Is it possible that much inherited information in each species is not determined by purely physical factors? Perhaps essential information is supernaturally provided and maintained by divine providence, as has been proposed by this author.11 And the Scriptures do seem to imply that there is an intiimate presence of the Spirit of God in all living things, without which they die:
At this time secular science has no sure answer, but only an assumption with which to answer the question. Why, then, should believers in the theory of evolution by mutations and natural selection be so dogmatic? It must be admitted, however, that probably the majority of biologists who believe in creation continue to agree with their secular colleagues that the design information must be in the genome and other cellular structures. We all have much to learn.
11. Kofahl, Robert E., "Is the Genome Sufficient, Where Is the Design Information, and What Limits Variation?" Creation Research Soc. Quarterly, Vol. 28, March 1992, pp. 146-148.
17. Alberts, Bruce, ibid (ref. 7), Molecular Biology of the Cell, pp. 185-196; Watson, James D. and J. Tooze, The DNA Story: A Documentary History of Gene Cloning (W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1981).
18. Lewin, Roger, Science, Vol. 216, pp. 1091-1092; _______, ibid., Vol. 224, 22 June 1984, pp. 1327-1329.
19. McGinnis, William and Michael Kuziora, "The Molecular Architects of body Design," Scientific American, Vol. 270, Feb. 1994, pp. 58-66.
20. Lewontin, R.C., The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change (Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1974), pp. 11-12, 159, 186, 171; Jean Marx, "Homeobox Genes Go Evolutionary," Science, 24 Jan. 1992, pp. 399-401, on p. 401.
21. Maddox, John, Nature, 24 Nov. 1983, p. 311; Jean Marx, ref. 20, on p. 399.
22. Mayr, Ernst, Animal Species and Evolution (Harvard University Press, Boston, 1963), p. 12.
23. Coyne, Jerry A., Nature, Vol. 355, 6 Feb. 1992, pp. 511-515.
24. Bremermann; Hans, Progress in Theoretical Biology, Vol. 1(1967), pp. 70-72; Kofahl, Robert E., in Repossess the Land (Bible-Science Assoc., Minneapolis, MN, 1979), pp. 122-126.