What do you see? Water? A flower? Life? Beauty? Provision? The product of chance and unguided random mutations? Every cell in this “simple” flower is more complex and contains the products of more information than the computer’s code through which you are able to view it! Life is a gift – and the Giver of Life humbles us with treasures such as these.
It is quite probable that, unless you have made a special study of it, you will be quite unaware of just how complex the world of living things is. During the past couple of months my eyes have been opened about as wide as they can go as I have researched the case for Intelligent Design.
Our bodies, like all complex living organisms, are made of trillions upon trillions of living cells. The cell is a fundamental building block of life; one which until relatively recently, and certainly in the time of Darwin, was considered as some form of protoplasmic sludge that could simply emerge from random chemicals given the right conditions.
But cells, it turns out, are anything but simple. They are biological factories, stuffed full of complex machines. Each cell is encased by a dual membrane to control what may enter and leave the cell. It contains a nucleus, surrounded by nuclear pores through which molecules like proteins or RNA can pass, provided they have the right “password”. Mitochondria power the cell; cytoskeletons give it shape. Microtubules perform numerous mechanical tasks. Microfilaments and intermediate filaments interact with each other to grab, slide, contract and act as structural supports.
Whilst tiny, these structures are huge compared with the molecules which are used to form such things as proteins and nucleic acids in the cell. Proteins are made of amino acids, of which there are twenty. These can be thought of as letters of a biological molecular alphabet, the sequence of which must be exactly right in order to produce a given protein. A typical protein will contain between fifty and several thousand amino acid residues. These proteins must be folded, like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, into very precise structures in order to fulfill their particular purpose. The instructions for this protein design is, in turn, encoded in the information contained in the human genome. The chances of any one of these protein chains forming into their correct shape by chance is many magnitudes lower than the chance of throwing a thousand Scrabble pieces into the air and expecting them to land in such a way as to form a coherent, readable and meaningful passage of a book with correct grammar, spelling and punctuation; and then repeating that same result several times consecutively.
Despite this complexity of even a single protein, all human cells will contain at least 10,000 of the 20,000 or so proteins encoded in the human genome. Given that each gene may produce multiple variations of a single protein, it is entirely possible that individual cells may contain as many as 100,000 distinct proteins; all of these must be correctly constructed and folded in exactly the right sequence and folded to the exactly required shape to perform its function.
Darwin, at the time that he wrote On the Origin of Species had no knowledge of the complexity of the cell. It was, as Michael Behe describes, a “black box” to Darwin – much like the way that a computer is to most of us. We may know some of the components of which it is made, but it is, essentially, a box , the contents of which are a complete mystery to us.
So – what do you see? The product of chance and unguided random mutations? Or do you see the product of Intelligent Design?
For more on this topic I would highly recommend Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe, from which most of the information for this post is taken. You can find it on Amazon here: Darwin’s Black Box