Darwinian Dictates

I keep coming back to the Creation/neo-Darwinism/Intelligent Design debate.

Why?  …  Because it is the core issue that will decide the values and moral direction of generations of Americans.

Read this article, Darwinian Dictates,  from World magazine as a lead in to what we can expect in the future education of American children.

Some excerpts from Mr. Luskin’s article:

“NGSS makes biological evolution a “core idea” and urges that by the third grade students should be presented with “evidence of common ancestry” of humans and animals. Middle-school students should “infer evolutionary relationships,” and in high school they should hear that “common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.”

“NGSS requires students to learn that similarities among vertebrate embryos indicate common ancestry, but says nothing about the significant differences between embryos in their earliest stages. A 2010 paper in the world’s foremost science journal, Nature, explained, “Counter to the expectations of early embryonic [similarities], many studies have shown that there is often remarkable divergence between related species both early and late in development.” Under the NGSS, such evidence would be excluded.”

“Once students hit high school, NGSS has them learning that “similarities in DNA sequences” across different species also support common ancestry. But NGSS does not note that the scientific literature is filled with studies where DNA similarities conflict with the predictions of common ancestry. A 2009 article in New Scientist, “Why Darwin Was Wrong About the Tree of Life,” observed, “Many biologists now argue that the tree concept is obsolete and needs to be discarded.” “

Mr. Luskin’s article eloquently highlights these issues at a high level, but let me add to this a specific  example that speaks to my own observations, studies and intellect … the evolution of the mammalian eye.

Charles Darwin had some serious reservations about how his theory would hold up in light of the complexity of the eye:

“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 been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”

Continuing, Darwin states:

“Yet reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a perfect and complex eye to one very imperfect and simple, each grade being useful to its possessor, can be shown to exist; if further, the eye does vary ever so slightly, and the variations be inherited, which is certainly the case; and if any variation or modification in the organ be ever useful to an animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, can hardly be considered real.”

So Mr. Darwin moves from a position of such evolution being absurd to, just a few sentences later, believing it to be possible under his theory.

This problem of the eye eventually led to a 1994 study by Nilsson and Pelger,  A Pessimistic Estimate of the Time Required for an Eye to Evolve (Proceedings: Biological Sciences, Vol. 256, No. 1345, (April 22, 1994), pp. 53-58).

You can also read Richard Dawkins take on the matter at http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/646417-how-the-blind-watchmaker-made-eyes

Now read the other side of the story … “Could the eye have evolved by natural selection in a geological blink?” … a side that will not be taught if the NGSS  core science curriculum comes to pass. Read it here at http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/could-the-eye-have-evolved-by-natural-selection-in-a-geological-blink/

But the story does not end with the eye, but continues with the other complex data gathering and data processing instrumentation packed tightly into our sometimes thick skulls … complex instruments such as: stereoscopic eyes, stereoscopic ears, dual strap-down inertial systems necessary for balance and a sense of three-dimensional place and attitude in a 3-D world, smell,  taste and a means for energy (food) and air to enter into the body.

A reminder is appropriate at this point:

The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

Is what I’ve described above enough to give you pause and wonder as to the best explanation?

No? Then let’s move down into the body and take a look at the kidney where we see:

A doctor who is a secular humanist talks about the “design” of the kidney

Read what one commentator Barb has to say:

You yourself produced my kidneys; you kept me screened off in the belly of my mother.” (Psalm 139:13)

Many of the chemical processes in your body release toxic substances and waste into your bloodstream. If allowed to remain, these would cause serious problems for you, even death. They have to be continuously filtered out and removed. This filtering is one of the principal functions of your kidneys.

To visualize how the kidney works, imagine a stadium with thousands of spectators coming in for an event. First, the crowd must divide into numerous small lines. Then, the people in each line pass one by one through security gates, where individuals without tickets are turned aside. The spectators with tickets pass through to their assigned seats. Similarly, all the many elements making up your blood need to circulate throughout your entire body. As they do so, however, they must repeatedly pass through your kidneys by means of large blood vessels, the renal arteries, one for each kidney. After entering the kidney, the renal artery fans out into smaller vessels in the kidney’s inner and outer layers. The various elements in your blood are thus channeled into smaller and more manageable “lines.”
Finally, the blood arrives at tiny clusters, each consisting of about 40 tightly looped, minute blood vessels. Each cluster, called a glomerulus, is surrounded by a two-layer membrane known as Bowman’s capsule. Together, the glomerulus and Bowman’s capsule make up the first part of your kidney’s ‘security gate,’ a nephron—the basic filtration unit of your kidney. There are over a million nephrons in each kidney.

The blood cells and proteins in your bloodstream are indispensable. They provide your body with vital services such as oxygen supply, defense, and damage repair. To prevent the loss of blood cells and proteins, the first stage of filtration separates them from all other elements. This specialized task is accomplished by Bowman’s capsules.
Blood vessels entering the glomerulus split up into tiny capillaries with very thin walls. Thus, blood pressure can force some water and other small molecules through their fine membranes, out of your bloodstream, and into Bowman’s capsule and the coiled tube connected to it. This tube is called the convoluted tubule. The larger protein molecules and all the blood cells remain in the bloodstream and continue to flow through the capillaries.

Now filtration becomes more selective. Your kidneys must make absolutely sure that nothing of value to your body escapes! The fluid flowing through the tubule at this point is a watery mixture, consisting of dissolved useful molecules along with wastes and unwanted substances. Specialized cells along the tubule’s inner wall recognize useful molecules, such as water, salts, sugars, minerals, vitamins, hormones, and amino acids. These are efficiently plucked out by being reabsorbed into the tubule wall and passed back into the surrounding network of capillaries to reenter your bloodstream. The capillaries join up again as little veins that then combine to become the blood vessel called the renal vein. By it your blood, now filtered and cleansed, leaves the kidney and goes on to sustain life in your body.

After studying anatomy and physiology at the high school and college levels and working in the medical field, it amazes me how people can examine (and I mean really examine) the human body and come to the conclusion that “it just happened” by mutations and natural selection.

An expansion of Psalm 139:13  is:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Enough yet to give you pause and wonder as to the best explanation?

No … then perhaps your eyes are still somewhere along that long Darwinian path.

Don Johnson – August 2013


20 responses to “Darwinian Dictates

  1. Hello, Don. Please ignore my response at Disqus. I hadn’t seen your link.

    When we worked together at Thompson, I had not read Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” or given a fair chance to anything mentioning evolution. Now I have, and I think that the current synthesis of evolutionary theory explains a lot. “What Evolution Is,” by Ernst Mayr is also enlightening.

    On the eye argument, the idea of separate creation of every species doesn’t explain things that evolution can — blind cave fish with vestigial eyes, so closely related to fish outside of the cave that they could be a “variety.” Then, in the same cave, rats with gigantic eyes, also very closely related to rats with small eyes outside of the cave.

    Also [since the well-being of people seems to be of great concern here], if humans are the most important creation of some benevolent deity (paying individual attention), why are people also born blind, and why do birds have better eyes, seeing much more sharply and in extra wavelengths. Creation doesn’t explain these things. Animals moving to new environments and adapting over eons seems to explain it better.

    Joe H

    • Hi Joe,
      I’ve been giving much thought to the issue in recent years after much initial reading and study back in the 1980s.
      Most of my writing I’ve captured at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/creation-evolution/

      The eye is just one of many such designs we see in nature. I’ve coined a phrase “Massively Complex Synchronicity” in which I try to expand the issue well beyond just a single thing such as the eye. These essays are at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/the-origins-of-the-universe-simple-or-complex-your-choice-part-1/ and https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/the-origins-of-the-universe-simple-or-complex-part-2-the-problem-of-massively-complex-synchronicity/

      Recent findings in the DNA world is my current passion, and lead me to believe that Neo-Darwinism will be replaced by Information, Intelligence and Design as the unifying ideas underlying biology. A good source of articles is at http://www.icr.org/creation-dna/ with the Related Articles list at the bottom being quite fascination as well/

      Your ‘why’ questions are good ones, and have been questions theologians and philosophers, as well as us common folk, have been wondering about for centuries; ‘why do bad things happen to good people?’ These why questions are where theology can give insight and comfort, but science, by its very nature remains silent. The book of Job, for example, talks about suffering and lessons, not necessarily concrete answers, can be taken away from the story.


    • Let me share this experience with you; it’s about suffering.

      Back in the early 1980s when I first became a Christian I had many questions and struggles as I was trying to come to grips with the conflict of 16+ years as an atheist and evolutionist, with what I was now being told and taught about faith and the Bible.

      Two verses in particular were giving me fits:
      “Be ye therefore imitators of God … ”
      “My strength is made perfect in weakness … ”

      Ridiculous … nonsense … I kept telling myself. You are telling me about a God that created the heavens and the earth, and now I’m supposed to imitate that God? … preposterous … can’t be done!
      And … now you are telling me that the strength of this God who created the heavens and the earth is … weakness. What kind of madness is this?

      There was a young teen aged girl Charlotte in our church, perhaps 13 or 14 at the time. Charlotte was wheel chair bound and on constant oxygen, suffering from Cystic Fibrosis; dying and knowing death was just around a very close corner for her. Yet when Charlotte was in the room, joy … love and hope came wheeling in with her. You just couldn’t help but to be incredibly uplifted by this dying girls whole being … she radiated life in the best possible way.

      One night at church, and still struggling with the two passages I mentioned earlier, I looked to my left at Charlotte in the middle isle, in her chair … being … well being just Charlotte. My heart leaped as I now understood and witnessed personally the truth in those two passages.

      Charlotte in her weakness was imitating God.

      I understood immediately and was filled with a deep gratitude and a desire to be more like Charlotte.

      I don’t know why Charlotte was afflicted with this horrible disease. I don’t know why some people like Helen Keller are born blind.

      But I did know Charlotte.

  2. By the way, in Psalm 139, which you quoted above, it says he was “woven together in the depths of the earth.” Should we take that seriously? Earlier in the Psalm it mentions a place called Sheol, i.e., the netherworld. Is there any such place?

    • Good morning Joe,
      I’ve had a chance to read Psalm 139, and some commentary on it. I’m using The Apologetics Study Bible, which uses the Holman Christian Study Bible with Allen P. Ross as the contributor for Psalms.

      Wow! I hadn’t read this Psalm in total in many years, and it immediately captured me. It’s been difficult for me to get my mind around it in the sense of trying to describe it, but it strikes to the very heart of my being as a “human being.” To a large degree, it is self describing, but let me give it a shot.

      Here’s this ancient, ignorant goat herder (actually a sheep herder) pondering over and contemplating the wonder of his own body, from conception (and even before) and his own formation in his mother’s womb, and then on to the rest of his life beyond birth. Simply an amazing piece, without arrogance or self-centeredness, but rather penned with a genuine reverence, awe, love and respect for the Creator of the magnificent body he (the Psalmist David) resides in.

      In the context of this discussion of Neo-Darwinism and Intelligent Design, this Psalm is worthy of reflection and examination. No … there is no scientific talk here, no talk of DNA, no scientific treatise on cellular biology, no theories on embryology, no proofs of theories. Just that ignorant Shepard … in awe of the body he believes his Creator has fashioned for him personally.


      • “Ignorant” definitely describes a lot of the ideas that go with creation in the Bible, particularly in the Psalms and Job. We shouldn’t EXPECT it to jive with the facts we learn from science, and that is my point.

        All of the ID argument I have seen is apologetic. Nobody can say what an “irreduceable complexity” looks like, or why it couldnt be an evolved complexity. It’s a gut call, made for apologetic reasons. It won’t survive one minute of dialectic, and inevitably leads to contradictions.

        Once the obvious fallacies are swept under the rug, and the Designer is held as a likely reality, a quantum leap is made to Bible God as the Creator, while there’s no more reason to believe in Yahweh than Quetzalcoatl or the Deity of The Day at godchecker.com.

      • Thanks for your comments Joe.

    • Good morning Joe.
      You say you want to see irreducible complexity? Here’s what you do.
      First get a good nights sleep, tomorrow’s going to be a rough day.

      When you get up the next morning, look into your bathroom mirror – at your two eyes staring back at you, at your nose and mouth, at those two ears, at your skull containing that brain of yours.
      Raise your two hands and look at them front and back while flexing your fingers.
      Look down at your two feet and raise each knee in turn towards your chest.
      Watch your chest heave in and out as you breath deeply.

      The rest of your day is going to require some real imagination on your part, because you are not ready, skilled or trained for what’s coming next.

      Drive out to the Lake and strap yourself into one of those big beautiful F-18s and send that magnificent machine rocketing skyward, and pretend you’re going into combat — alone.
      You see them on your radar screen some 30 miles out – four bandits in close formation, co-altitude with you, angels 20 approaching fast.
      You watch on you radar scree as one breaks high, one low, one left, one right.
      Then the radar screen goes dark – something in that irreducibly complex radar system goes tango uniform and you’re left with only your eyes to search the heavens for those wanting to kill you.
      You know they’re out there and your head twists left, right, up, down as you jink that Hornet to expose more sky. You try to relax those fingers on the sticks, but it is increasingly harder to do as your heart begins to race and you breath deeper to try and control your mind and body.
      Yow spot a bogie coming at you from 10 o’clock high, and as you turn into him you see another coming from 2 o’clock low. You still don’t know where the other two are, but you race between the two you do see, turn hard left and somehow wind up on the high guy’s six. Fox2 against him and he explodes. You’ve lost the other guy but know he’s got to be close. You push the nose up into a twisting turn into the sun when you hear a warning of heat at your six. Twisting you nose over, and luckily with the sun now at your back, you see a bad guy silhouetted against a big puffy cloud. You lock on and hearing the chirp, pickle another Fox2 – and again a bad guy splashed.

      Where are the other two? Head jerking around you frantically search and don’t find. Then you see it — smoke in the air and coming straight at you. A quick hard turn left and the missile explodes close off to your right. Shrapnel splatters your right wing and rudder, but nothing serious — you still have good power and good control — but man that was close.

      You’re in a dance with this guy – twisting and turning; an over the top dive and a quick reversal and climb. He can’t get a good lock on you but he sees you and is tracking you with his two eyes as you also are tracking him with your now fear filled eyes – can’t get a lock on this guy.

      The dance goes on and on and on and on. No advantage either way. But that other guy, the fourth guy, is out there somewhere too – watching and waiting for the right time to enter the fight on your six.

      Then you see him, and he’s about to grab on to your six, too far away right now but closing. Just about then you luckily get a chirp on your dance partner and in a flash it’s Fox 2 against him and he’s gone and out of the fight, leaving just you and the remaining bad guy.

      The good news is that it’s now just you and him. The bad news? You realize the reason he laid back was to watch the dance. He’s the ace and wise to the ways of battle and has sized you up and knows the situation better than you do. He knows you’re shot up, exhausted, afraid, and your aircraft is now leaking just a bit of fuel. But he waits, just far enough away to avoid a serious engagement … and waits ,,, and waits as your fuel gets closer and closer to bingo.

      Then he makes his move and closes in, but in his arrogance presses the edge and makes a mistake as he accelerates on your six just as you pop your speed brakes and make a dizzying turn back on him and then another reversal to put you on his six with your last remaining winder.

      You get the solid chirp as he jinks to avoid the shot … but it’s too late for him and your last Fox2 splashes him and it’s time to go home.

      You’re on the ground now, and by the time you turn the bird over to maintenance and debrief, it’s late into the evening and you drive home.

      You sneak into your six year old daughter’s bedroom and pull a blanket over her and tuck the little teddy bear close to her face, then head for the bathroom. As you take off your clothes and get ready for bed you whisper something almost unconsciously “God … I’m sure glad I’m still alive!”

      And you approach the same mirror you stood before that morning. And you look – but this time it’s different.

      You see those same two eyes, but now they are looking around as you move your head up, down, left, right – just like you had done just a few hours ago at angles twenty. You see the same nose and mouth, but the mouth seems to be gasping and quivering a bit more than in the morning. The same ears are there, but you notice a bit more ringing now.

      You lift those same two hands up towards your face. Those same two hands that so skillfully saved your life hours ago against seemingly impossible odds. But now those hands are shaking as you look at them and turn them around and flex the fingers.

      Same with your legs, they start to tremble and your knees feel weak as you reach out and grasp the sink.

      You break out in uncontrollable sobbing.

      You look back into that mirror and you say to yourself – today I saw … today I was part … of irreducible complexity.

      • Oops, I can’t do all of that. I was born with one bad optic nerve. The eye is perfectly good, but I don’t see much through it. Can’t qualify to fly. I can look in the mirror, and see just another man, lucky, perhaps, but not conceited enough to think that I am favored by someone all-powerful, sitting up high. I also see one sad, lazy eye.

      • I think you skipped the imagination part, but thanks for reading.

  3. Hi Joe, good to hear from you after all these years, and strange the circumstances. I guess since you found this blog you can find out pretty much all about my life since the lab days, but what about you? This may not be the best venue, but I’ve often wondered about you after you left TARIF.

  4. And, I’ll have to look into a few commentaries on Psalm 139.

  5. By the way, I do most of my discussion on Facebook. Are you on there? If you give me your email address, I can Friend you, and also Private Message with more personal things,

  6. Don,

    You seem to be saying that intelligent design creationism (IDC) offers a superior explanation for certain biological structures and systems. That leads to an obvious question: What is IDC’s better explanation?

    • I’m also still interested in a good philosophical explanation or defense of IDC [in your own words; I dont expect any science and won’t follow a bunch of hyperlinks]. The dream you wrote up was cool. It doesn’t satisfy my desire for a good argument.

      Your Friend,

    • Hello Jose,
      I’m fighting a nasty cold, but hope to respond to your question in a few days.

  7. Pingback: Intelligent Design: A far-far superior explanation | A Yearning for Publius

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