The Edge Becomes Clearer

Douglas Axe has written an interesting post in which he reviews a recent article by Darwinists and further demonstrates the edge of evolution (i.e., Michael Behe).(1) Darwinists are consistently unable to demonstrate how useful mutations can occur on a level to result in anything other than minor advantages (usually with a single point mutation that just breaks things), and I think Axe’s analogy to computer software is very apt.

By way of analogy, you might easily cause your favorite software to crash by changing a bit or two in the compiled executable file, but you can’t possibly convert it into something altogether different (and equally useful) by such a simple change, or even by a series of such changes with each version improving on the prior one.  To get a substantially new piece of software, you would need to substantially re-engineer the original code knowing that your work wouldn’t pay off until it’s finished.  Darwinism just doesn’t have the patience for this.

Furthermore, returning to the first question, it seems that even humble binding-site conversions are typically beyond the reach of Darwinian evolution.  Durrett and Schmidt conclude that “this type of change would take >100 million years” in a human line [1], which is problematic in view of the fact that the entire history of primates is thought to be shorter than that [3].

Might the prospects be less bleak for more prolific species with shorter generation times?  As it turns out, even there Darwinism appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse.  Choosing fruit flies as a favorable organism, Durrett and Schmidt calculate that what is impossible in humans would take only “a few million years” in these insects.  To get that figure, however, they had to assume that the damage caused buy the first mutation has a negligible effect on fitness.  In other words, they had to leap from “the mutation need not be lethal” to (in effect) ‘the mutation causes no significant harm’.  That’s a big leap.

What happens if we instead assume a small but significant cost—say, a 5% reduction in fitness?  By their math it would then take around 400 million years for the binding-site switch to prove its benefit (if it had one) by becoming fully established in the fruit fly population.  [4] By way of comparison, the whole insect class—the most diverse animal group on the planet—is thought to have come into existence well within that time frame. [5]

Do you see the problem?  On the one hand we’re supposed to believe that the Darwinian mechanism converted a proto-insect into a stunning array of radically different life forms (termites, beetles, ants, wasps, bees, dragonflies, stick insects, aphids, fleas, flies, mantises, cockroaches, moths, butterflies, etc., each group with its own diversity) well within the space of 400 million years.  But on the other hand, when we actually do the math we find that a single insignificant conversion of binding sites would reasonably be expected to consume all of that time.

(1). Bold Biology for 2009

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Creationism and Irreducible Complexity

One of the testable hypotheses of Intelligent Design theory is irreducible complexity.  A term coined by Michael Behe in his book Darwin’s Black Box.  I think this concept could possibly problematic from a Creationist perspective, because I don’t believe anything is irreducibly complex to God.  It’s not a problem from an ID perspective, because ID doesn’t entail the existence of God.  We know there are things designed by the intelligence of humans that are irreducibly complex (e.g., a mousetrap); however, if you start with the assumption of an all-powerful and all-knowing God, then there is nothing that would be irreducibly complex to God.

I’m just trying to think through this issue, and I think this is a possible point of divergence between ID and Creationism.  I don’t propose that I speak for the majority of Creationists here, but these are some thoughts that I’ve been having on the subject.  I’ve not yet made up my mind on the issue and welcome opinions.