Countering Fuzzy Science
Public education today seems to be in the business of translating public tax dollars into fantastic myths, which are routinely fobbed off on young, impressionable minds as “facts.” A case in point is the way that genetic evolution is typically presented in today’s classroom. Now, I tend to recoil when fundamentalist Christians start waving their Bibles around as the supreme scientific authority because I have too great a respect for both the Sacred Scriptures and a rigorous scientific process to set these two formidable authorities against one another. At the same time one should recognize that there is a great deal of junk-science being fobbed of in primary and secondary level academia today which, much like a bad virus, only infects and weakens the cause of true objective inquiry. This is especially true in “social” sciences fields like psychology and sociology, yet such “pop” science has not failed to infect the teaching of biology as well.
As I see it, much of the problem stems from academia’s undying “faith” in Charles Darwin who has become, for many educators today, mankind’s secular messiah. More about his most questionable theory later, but first a five minute refresher course might be in order for those of us who have been away from our high school biology labs for 20, 30, or even 40 years. So buckle your seat belts because my argument involves some rather lengthy and rigorous analysis.
Genes, which reside in every living cell, are now known to provide the basic blueprint for all living organisms. But in order for genes to function properly they require the proper sequencing of four basic chemical molecules. This is similar to the millions of lines of binary software code which makes your cell phone and about every other electronic device today work. The key to sequencing those basic molecules is called DNA, which one may think of as a ladder, an extremely long ladder which supports those four essential molecules. Every rung on that ladder is called a “base pair” which consists of two separate molecules, thymine, for instance, which links up with adenine or else a molecule called cytosine which combines with guanine. No molecule in the first group is able to pair up with a molecule from the second group but only with its own mate. The order may be reversed however within a single base pair. This allows for the possibility of four basic combinations: TA, AT, CG, and GC. Every rung on the DNA ladder consists of one of those four permutations.
But how many rungs, or base pairs, are necessary on our DNA ladder to manufacture a viable working gene? Each gene, remember, may control one or a few traits in an organism, so it takes thousands of different genes in order for a human being or any other complex biological entity to fully function as a member of its species. Take a human being for example. Humans possess as many as 100,000 genes made up of long strands of DNA attached to 23 pairs of chromosomes which carry those genes. Only about 24,000 genes actually code proteins meaning that your complete genetic map is stored on 24,000 strands of sequenced molecules (scientists are only starting to grasp at functionality for the other ±80% of non-coding DNA which makes up a chromosome). Considering that all of that genetic material is somehow folded and wrapped up on 46 tiny chromosomes and fully contained within the nucleus of every single body cell (about 100 trillion in all!), that should give you an idea of the scale we are talking about here.
It is not just the incredibly small size of each and every gene but the fact that every gene is a fully coded strand of chemical DNA containing thousands to millions of base pairs, called nucleotides, which tends to boggle the mind. The sequencing on those tiny chemical ladders ultimately determines your species, body mass, hair color, organ functionality, susceptibility to disease, and so on. One particular gene, distrophin, contains some 2.4 million nucleotides of which a mere 11,055 actually encode proteins. But those 11,055 are so interspersed along the gene ladder that the remaining 2.389 million non-functioning base pairs are still needed to keep the sequence of nucleotides in their proper order and position.
For simplicity, let us consider just a single gene of very modest proportions containing 1,000 base pairs or nucleotides. In order to properly function for protein production those thousand nucleotides need to be in an exacting, predetermined order, e.g. TA-GC-AT-GC-CG-AT-TA-GC-GC-TA- etc., assuming that to be the coding for some particular bodily function controlled by this particular gene. Maybe it’s the rate of metabolism, or the transfer of oxygen into red blood cells. One or two mistakes in the code’s sequence could spell potential disaster for any organism depending on the critical bodily function controlled by our rather ordinary gene. Furthermore, every time a body cell replicates itself, a process called mitosis which occurs millions of times every day, the complete gene sequence carried on the chromosomes must also divide to create a perfect replica of itself in the new cell. The sequence on each of the +100,000 newly manufactured genes will be absolutely identical to the sequence found in the parent genes!
So let’s consider how the sequencing of our small, ordinary 1,000 nucleotide gene first came about. Today’s typical public high school biology teacher instructing your children in the “facts of life” will likely declare that genes, chromosomes, and cells are all the product of an evolutionary process based upon Darwin’s principle of “Natural Selection.” According to his standard theory, only good genetic traits get passed down from one generation to the next while bad traits gradually get eliminated. But if we go way back to some hypothetical “primal soup,” a dense chemical compound out of which organic things such as genes and cells and eventually whales supposedly evolved, we immediately run into serious problems related to mathematical improbability.
Let us call our rather average gene “Ed.” Ed is made up of a strand of DNA comprising about 1,000 rung-like nucleotides. Each rung consists of just one of the four possible combinations explained above. Since Natural Selection depends on tiny random mutations (basically a process of trial and error) to the gene codes we can easily calculate the odds required for Ed to acquire functional existence as a proud member of the gene family. Since Ed needs 1,000 nucleotides lined up in rigorous sequence, each of which has four possible permutations, nature would have had to try 4 to the power of 1,000 combinations in order to find that one successful combination for Ed to begin enjoying his life as a gene. How big a number is that? Well 4 multiplied by itself 1,000 times over produces a product in the neighborhood of 185 followed by 600 zeros.
By comparison our formidable national debt looks like this: $18,000,000,000,000 which is 18 followed by 12 zeros. The random probability that Ed will find that single perfect genetic combination enabling him to succeed as a full fledged gene is more like one chance in 185,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,… plus another 450 zeros tacked on to that total! It would appear that Ed’s chance of successfully being born into the proud gene family seems pretty remote if he must rely on nature selecting the optimal combination for him to flourish. Until then he is just one of the random molecule gang hanging around the pool hall waiting for something to turn up.
But Ed is not a particularly robust gene like some of his bigger brothers and sisters who may consist of many thousands or even millions of precisely combined nucleotides. Imagine a 4 followed by a million or more zeros and you start to gain an appreciation for the mathematical odds against something as complex as the gene dystrophin even existing. Beyond that all of those 24,000 or more individual working genes must somehow fully integrate with one another before any complex biological entity such as a dog or human being can ever walk the face of our planet. In other words the mathematical odds against any given higher life forms developing on earth are so great that we can safely say that life has no business being here at all. One has to wonder if the high school biology teacher ever compared notes with the math teacher down the hall?
Of course, life does exist, as we well know, against such insurmountable odds. How? The phenomenon can only be explained rationally by appealing to some grand intelligent consciousness capable of ordering insensate things like atoms, chemicals, and molecules into life sustaining genes and cells. The principle absurdity in the evolution theory as expounded in today’s high school and college biology classes is insisting that infrequent random mutations filtered by Natural Selection satisfactorily explains the existence of our natural world. Blind forces operating randomly are not the strongest candidates for ordering highly complex systems. The Law of Entropy suggests just the opposite. Yet too many teachers and scientists cavalierly treat an imperfectly understood “process” as a “cause.” Cause always precedes the process, not the other way around.
Certainly some types of evolution are possible, and from the evidence to date even probable, but it is illogical to attribute any such process to a mindless red herring like Natural Selection. The real cause behind life is necessarily rational, not blind, as it would have to be in order to arrange such a marvelous array of life forms. It is not blind nature but some overwhelming intelligence that must be responsible for the overwhelming biological diversity found in the natural order. Yet many scientists seem to be suffering in fearful anxiety that they may have to acknowledge at some point that God actually exists. Horrors! For all the good that science has accomplished, it negates much of it by insisting that scientists themselves need to play God instead of humbly acknowledging one inevitable reality: that He alone could have conceived and ordered such a complex and sensational universe. Could God have used an evolutionary process in creating the biosphere? Without a doubt, just as he appears to have used many natural processes to sculpt earth’s geology and topography. But even those seemingly blind processes are regulated by and follow well established laws which were obviously laid down early in the game. Only a being with superabundant intelligence could have established such laws and, so far, God seems to be the only candidate.
Too many questions remain unanswered to announce any definitive verdict on biological evolution. Fossil records are still to sketchy to interconnect many species. DNA has already proven that modern man is not a lineal descendant of such ancient humanoids as Neanderthal Man, despite the similarity of genetic materials. The truth is that we are no nearer to understanding the true origins of our own species, or any others, than Charles Darwin was 150 years ago when he so confidently assumed he had cracked the great mystery. In fact, had it not been for the scientific work of an obscure priest named Gregor Mendel, now recognized as the true father of genetics, we might still be groping in the dark.
But the time has come for modern science to finally demolish Darwin’s rickety and unsustainable theory of Natural Selection which ultimately means “random selection.” There is nothing random about life even if there are random events associated with it. God made life to be purposeful, especially human life, bringing it willfully into existence against all odds. That is why we must never view life as an accident but as an act of pure grace and goodness on the part of the Creator. He who made atoms and molecules, genes and DNA, not to mention insurmountable probabilities, saw fit to override the odds and craft those raw materials into creatures of great delight. One he even made into his own image and gave dominion over all the others. Into man he instilled a small fragment of the divine DNA, faintly imprinted on man’s soul. There is also a science which recognizes this fact, based on an authority far more reliable than Charles Darwin. That science, theology, draws its truths from the One who first wrote every true law of science.
Francis J. Pierson