How did the lens, retina, optic nerve, and all the other parts in vertebrates that play a role in seeing suddenly come about? Because natural selection cannot choose separately between the visual nerve and the retina. The emergence of the lens has no meaning in the absence of a retina. The simultaneous development of all the structures for sight is unavoidable. Since parts that develop separately cannot be used, they will both be meaningless, and also perhaps disappear with time. At the same time, their development all together requires the coming together of unimaginably small probabilities.1
The foregoing represents the core of "Irreducible Complexity." Michael Behe, a biochemist currently teaching at Lehigh University, coined this term to describe "a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning."2
Complex organs such as the human eye are comprised of separate but necessary subsystems, which cannot be explained by "time-and-chance" development. Or, using the above language, the development of such an interrelated system could only result from "unimaginably small probabilities." For a growing number of scientists this means "statistical impossibility!"
To put it in layman's terms an internal combustion engine is only good when all the parts are present and put together in the exact design that the engineers at GM planned. Until then, it makes a good anchor but won't get your car down the road.
What did Charles Darwin have to say about the incredible complexity of the eye in his book Origin of Species ?
To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree possible.3
So how did Darwin deal with the staggering realities of the eye in the 1850's? As "absurdly" improbable as it was, he followed through with his theory of natural selection and pointed to simpler eye structures found in simpler creatures. He reasoned that more complex eyes gradually evolved from the simpler ones. However, it appears that this conjecture no longer passes scientific muster. Short of the micro-biological and genetic information issues, paleontology now shows that "simple creatures" emerged in the world with complex structures already intact. Even the simple trilobite has an eye (complete with its double lens system) that's considered an optical miracle by today's standards.
When it comes down to it, evolutionary theory declares that everything we see in the organic world merely has an "appearance of design." Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker and a professor at Oxford University, is probably the leading proponent of evolutionary theory since the death of Stephen Jay Gould. Dawkins writes:
Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.4
He goes on to say:
...the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker.5
Nevertheless, Richard Dawkins is an atheist who staunchly maintains that the design we see in the world is merely an illusion - that these amazingly complex systems are an accidental product of natural selection.
It's remarkable how we assume the presence of design in all sorts of endeavors outside biology. Whether criminal jurisprudence or forensic science, archaeology or engineering, we find that "specified complexity" is a reliable indicator of the presence of intelligent design. Clearly, chance can explain complexity, but not specification. A random sequence of letters is complex, but not specified (it's meaningless). A Jerry Jenkins novel is both complex and specified (it's meaningful). You can't have a Jenkins novel without Jenkins.
Here's one to consider. The SETI project (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence that was the focus of the movie Contact ), is a multi-billion dollar effort to scan the cosmos for some indication of intelligence. Amazingly, SETI is based on one simple notion. If we find radio waves that contain any type of ordered sequence of sounds, then we've discovered intelligence somewhere in the universe.
Think about that! The whole premise of these scientists is that you can't have ordered sound (such as the blips and dashes in a Morse code transmission) without an intelligent force behind them. Do you see it? "Design necessitates a designer" -- there's no legitimate alternative!
Charles B. Thaxton, PhD in Chemistry and Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University agrees:
...an intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn't the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code; it is such a message sequence.6
Because of the metaphysical implications of life resulting from Intelligent Design, a surprisingly large number of us seek to reject the most plausible answer and find a mechanism by which complex information code could arise naturally by random chance. In the current debate on whether to allow a consideration of Intelligent Design in the public arena, many reject it outright because of their worldview bias, not because of scientific reasoning.
Isn't this the real battleground in the recent debates regarding the origin of our universe and the origin of life? What if we all shed our prior preconceptions and logically examined our organic world according to the same rules of reason that we apply to most everything else? Maybe we would all start to see things a little differently.
Have you heard all the advertisements for laser eye surgery? Why not just let anyone grab a laser gun and operate on your eyes! Randomness doesn't work so well in the operating room and all they are trying to do is make a few minor adjustments to an eye that is already working fairly well. Just something to consider in between games of Left Behind: Eternal Forces.
- Dr. Ali Demirsoy, Inheritance and Evolution, Meteksan Publications, Ankara, 475.
- Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Simon & Schuster, 1996, 39.
- Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (referred to simply as "Origin of Species"), Bantam Books, 1999 (reprint of 1859 original), 155.
- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, 1996, 1.
- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 21.
- Charles B. Thaxton, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library, 1984.
Got Spiritual Questions?
Sources : Randall Niles, www.AllAboutGOD.com , www.GotQuestions.org , and www.AllAboutTheJourney.org .