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Forum > Sound Christian Doctrine


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If Darwin was alive today, he would be arguing AGAINST the validity of the Theory of Evolution!  :o

The End of Irreducible Complexity?

by Dr. Georgia Purdom, AiG–U.S.on

October 6, 2009

The titles of two recent science news articles caught my attention, “More ‘Evidence’ of Intelligent Design Shot Down by Science” and “Intelligent Design ‘Evidence’ Unproven by Real Science.”1 The evidence in question is a molecular machine. Members of the Intelligent Design Movement and creation scientists have often stated that molecular machines are irreducibly complex and could not be formed by evolution. However, evolutionists now claim the mechanism of “pre-adaptation” is a way that these molecular machines could have evolved.

What Is a Molecular Machine and Why Is It Irreducibly Complex?

Molecular machines are complex structures located inside of cells or on the surface of cells. One popular example is the bacterial flagella. This whip-like structure is composed of many proteins, and its rotation propels bacteria through their environment. The molecular machine of interest in a recent PNAS article is a protein transport machine located in the mitochondria.2 This machine transports proteins across the membrane of mitochondria so they can perform the very important function of making energy.

Molecular machines are considered to be irreducibly complex. An irreducibly complex machine is made of a number of essential parts, and all these parts must be present for it to function properly. If even one of these parts is missing the machine is non-functional. Evolution, which supposedly works in a stepwise fashion over long periods of time, can’t form these complex machines. Evolution is not goal-oriented; it cannot work towards a specific outcome. If a part of the machine would happen to form by random chance mutation (which itself is not plausible, see Are mutations part of the “engine” of evolution?), but the other parts of the machine were not formed at the same time, then the organism containing that individual part (by itself non-functional) would not have a particular survival advantage and would not be selected for. Since the part offers no advantage to the organism, it would likely be lost from the population, and evolution would be back to square one in forming the parts for the machine. There is essentially no way to collect the parts over time because the individual parts do not have a function (without the other parts) and do not give the organism a survival advantage. Remember, all the necessary parts must be present for the machine to be functional and convey a survival advantage that could be selected for.

So How Can Evolution Account for Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines?

The inability to find mechanisms that add information to the genome necessary to form parts for the molecular machines and the inability of Darwinian evolution to collect parts for the machines (no direction or goal) have led evolutionists to develop the idea of “pre-adaptation.” Simply stated, “pre-adaptation” is the formation of new parts for a new molecular machine (from currently existing parts that perform another function) before the machine is needed by the organism. Some quotes will help clarify.

Study authors Abigail Clements et al. state, “We proposed that simple “core” machines were established in the first eukaryotes by drawing on pre-existing bacterial proteins that had previously provided distinct functions.”3

Sebastian Poggio, co-author of the study, stated, “[The pieces] were involved in some other, different function. They were recruited and acquired a new function.”4

Wired Science writer, Brandon Keim, puts it this way: “[T]he necessary pieces for one particular cellular machine . . . were lying around long ago. It was simply a matter of time before they came together into a more complex entity.” He also states,

“The process by which parts accumulate until they’re ready to snap together is called preadaptation. It’s a form of “neutral evolution,” in which the buildup of parts provides no immediate advantage or disadvantage. Neutral evolution falls outside the descriptions of Charles Darwin. But once the pieces gather, mutation and natural selection can take care of the rest . . . .”5

These quotes conjure up images of Lego building blocks from my childhood days. The same blocks could be put together in many different ways to form different structures. The study authors suggest proteins that perform one function can be altered (via mutation6) and used for a different function. This eliminates the need to add new genetic information and requires only a modification of current information. Clements et al. state, “This model agrees with Jacob’s proposition of evolution as a “tinkerer,” building new machines from salvaged parts.”7

The problem with this concept is why would evolution “keep” parts that are intermediate between their old function and a new function? The parts or proteins are more or less stuck between a rock and a hard place. They likely don’t perform their old function because they have been altered by mutation, and they don’t perform their new function in a molecular machine because not all the parts are present yet.8 Studies have shown that bacteria tend to lose genetic information that is not needed in their current environment.

For example, the well known microbial ecologist Richard Lenski has shown that bacteria cultured in a lab setting for several years will lose information for making flagella from their genome.9 Bacteria are being supplied with nutrients and do not need flagella to move to find a food source. Bacteria are model organisms when it comes to economy and efficiency, and those bacteria that lose the information to make flagella are at an advantage over bacteria that are taking energy and nutrients to build structures that are not useful in the current environment. Thus, even if new parts for a new molecular machine could be made via mutation from parts or proteins used for another function, the process of natural selection would eliminate them. The parts or proteins no longer serve their old function, and they cannot serve their new function until all the parts for the machine are present.

In particular, notice the use of verbs in the quotes above, such as drawing on, recruited, came together, and snap together. These are all action verbs that invoke the image of someone or something putting the parts together. Going back to the Lego analogy, an intelligent designer (me!) is required to put the Lego blocks together to form different structures. Just leaving the blocks lying on the floor or shaking them up in their storage container doesn’t result in anything but a big mess of blocks! Although the powers to “tinker” and “snap together” are conferred on mutation and natural selection, they are incapable of designing and building molecular machines.


Pre-adaptation is another “just so” evolutionary story that attempts to avoid the problems of necessary information gain and the goal-less nature of evolution. It fails to answer how parts that are intermediate between their old and new functions would be selected for and accumulated to build a molecular machine.

Michael Gray, cell biologist at Dalhousie University, states, “You look at cellular machines and say, why on earth would biology do anything like this? It’s too bizarre. But when you think about it in a neutral evolutionary fashion, in which these machineries emerge before there’s a need for them, then it makes sense.”10 It only makes sense if you start with the presupposition that evolution is true and confer powers to mutation and natural selection that the evidence shows they do not have.

Clements et al. write, “There is no question that molecular machines are remarkable devices, with independent modules capable of protein substrate recognition, unfolding, threading, and translocation through membranes.”11

The evidence is clear, as Romans 1:20 states, that the Creator God can be known through His creation. Many people will stand in awe of the complexities of molecular machines and still deny they are the result of God’s handiwork. But that doesn’t change the truth of His Word that He is the Creator of all things.




No transitional Fossils  ???

In his book, Origin of Species, Darwin himself admitted that at the time of writing, the fossils discovered made it look like a series of acts of creation between each main order of life. Although he urged people to look for links between them, he also admitted that if no such links were discovered, then his theory would be incorrect. It therefore makes no sense what-so-ever, that man should unearth thousands of fossils every year, representing highly ‘developed’ and sophisticated life forms, and yet mysteriously there are no intermediate, half-developed life forms discovered between layers. No matter how much digging around we do, there really is no back door away from this issue. In fact so much of evolution’s credibility depends on this starting issue, nothing in this belief system evens begins to carry any weight whilst this anomaly exists. A bit like needing to throw a six to start a game of ludo.

A recent article by Jonathan Sarfati  Ph.D., F.M. explains;

Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science discusses the fossil record in several places. Creationists and evolutionists, with their different assumptions, predict different things about the fossil record. If living things had really evolved from other kinds of creatures, then there would have been many intermediate or transitional forms, with halfway structures. However, if different kinds had been created separately, the fossil record should show creatures appearing abruptly and fully formed.

The transitional fossils problem

Charles Darwin was worried that the fossil record did not show what his theory predicted:

Why is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory.1

Is it any different today?

The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote a book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:

I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them … . I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.2

The renowned evolutionist (and Marxist) Stephen Jay Gould wrote:

The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.3


I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record.4

As Sunderland points out:

It of course would be no puzzle at all if he [Gould] had not decided before he examined the evidence that common-ancestry evolution was a fact, ‘like apples falling from a tree,’ and that we can only permit ourselves to discuss possible mechanisms to explain that assumed fact.5

The gaps are huge

Teaching about Evolution avoids discussing the vast gulf between non-living matter and the first living cell, single-celled and multicelled creatures, and invertebrates and vertebrates. The gaps between these groups should be enough to show that molecules-to-man evolution is without foundation.

There are many other examples of different organisms appearing abruptly and fully formed in the fossil record. For example, the first bats, pterosaurs, and birds were fully fledged flyers.  

Turtles are a well designed and specialized group of reptiles, with a distinctive shell protecting the body’s vital organs. However, evolutionists admit ‘Intermediates between turtles and cotylosaurs, the primitive reptiles from which [evolutionists believe] turtles probably sprang, are entirely lacking.’ They can’t plead an incomplete fossil record because ‘turtles leave more and better fossil remains than do other vertebrates.’6 The ‘oldest known sea turtle’ was a fully formed turtle, not at all transitional.   It had a fully developed system for excreting salt, without which a marine reptile would quickly dehydrate. This is shown by skull cavities which would have held large salt-excreting glands around the eyes.7

All 32 mammal orders appear abruptly and fully formed in the fossil record. The evolutionist paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote in 1944:

The earliest and most primitive members of every order already have the basic ordinal characters, and in no case is an approximately continuous series from one order to another known. In most cases the break is so sharp and the gap so large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed.8

There is little to overturn that today.9


Like most evolutionary propaganda, Teaching about Evolution makes assertions that there are many transitional forms, and gives a few ‘examples.’ An article in Refuting Evolution contains the gleeful article by the evolutionist (and atheist) E.O. Wilson, ‘Discovery of a Missing Link.’ He claimed to have studied ‘nearly exact intermediates between solitary wasps and the highly social modern ants.’ But another atheistic evolutionist, W.B. Provine, says that Wilson’s ‘assertions are explicitly denied by the text … . Wilson’s comments are misleading at best.’10

Teaching about Evolution emphasizes Archaeopteryx and an alleged land mammal-to-whale transition series, so they are covered in chapters 4 and 5 of Refuting Evolution. Teaching about Evolution also makes the following excuse on page 57:

Some changes in populations might occur too rapidly to leave many transitional fossils. 
Also, many organisms were very unlikely to leave fossils because of their habitats or because they had no body parts that could easily be fossilized. 

Darwin also excused the lack of transitional fossils by ‘the extreme imperfection of the fossil record.’ But as we have seen, even organisms that leave excellent fossils, like turtles, are lacking in intermediates. Michael Denton points out that 97.7 percent of living orders of land vertebrates are represented as fossils and 79.1 percent of living families of land vertebrates—87.8 percent if birds are excluded, as they are less likely to become fossilized.11

It’s true that fossilization requires specific conditions. Normally, when a fish dies, it floats to the top and rots and is eaten by scavengers. Even if some parts reach the bottom, the scavengers take care of them. Scuba divers don’t find the sea floor covered with dead animals being slowly fossilized. The same applies to land animals. Millions of buffaloes (bison) were killed in North America last century, but there are very few fossils.

In nature, a well-preserved fossil generally requires rapid burial (so scavengers don’t obliterate the carcass), and cementing agents to harden the fossil quickly. Teaching about Evolution has some good photos of a fossil fish with well-preserved features (p. 3) and a jellyfish (p. 36). Such fossils certainly could not have formed gradually—how long do dead jellyfish normally retain their features? If you wanted to form such fossils, the best way might be to dump a load of concrete on top of the creature! Only catastrophic conditions can explain most fossils—for example, a global flood and its aftermath of widespread regional catastrophism. (see topic: Evidence for a Global Flood )

Teaching about Evolution goes on to assert after the previous quote:

However, in many cases, such as between primitive fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and mammals, and reptiles and birds, there are excellent transitional fossils.

But Teaching about Evolution provides no evidence for this! We can briefly examine some of the usual evolutionary claims below (for reptile-to-bird, see the next chapter on birds):

Fish to amphibian: Some evolutionists believe that amphibians evolved from a Rhipidistian fish, something like the coelacanth. It was believed that they used their fleshy, lobed fins for walking on the sea-floor before emerging on the land. This speculation seemed impossible to disprove, since according to evolutionary/long-age interpretations of the fossil record, the last coelacanth lived about 70 million years ago. But a living coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) was discovered in 1938. And it was found that the fins were not used for walking but for deft maneuvering when swimming. Its soft parts were also totally fish-like, not transitional. It also has some unique features—it gives birth to live young after about a year’s gestation, it has a small second tail to help its swimming, and a gland that detects electrical signals.12 The earliest amphibian, Ichthyostega (mentioned on p. 39 of Teaching about Evolution), is hardly transitional, but has fully formed legs and shoulder and pelvic girdles, while there is no trace of these in the Rhipidistians.

Amphibian to reptile: Seymouria is a commonly touted intermediate between amphibians and reptiles. But this creature is dated (by evolutionary dating methods) at 280 million years ago, about 30 million years younger than the ‘earliest’ true reptiles Hylonomus and Paleothyris. That is, reptiles are allegedly millions of years older than their alleged ancestors! Also, there is no good reason for thinking it was not completely amphibian in its reproduction. The jump from amphibian to reptile eggs requires the development of a number of new structures and a change in biochemistry—see the section below on soft part changes.

Reptile to mammal: The ‘mammal-like reptiles’ are commonly asserted to be transitional. But according to a specialist on these creatures:

Each species of mammal-like reptile that has been found appears suddenly in the fossil record and is not preceded by the species that is directly ancestral to it. It disappears some time later, equally abruptly, without leaving a directly descended species.13

Evolutionists believe that the earbones of mammals evolved from some jawbones of reptiles. But Patterson recognized that there was no clear-cut connection between the jawbones of ‘mammal-like reptiles’ and the earbones of mammals. In fact, evolutionists have argued about which bones relate to which.14

The function of possible intermediates

The inability to imagine functional intermediates is a real problem. If a bat or bird evolved from a land animal, the transitional forms would have forelimbs that were neither good legs nor good wings. So how would such things be selected? The fragile long limbs of hypothetical halfway stages of bats and pterosaurs would seem more like a hindrance than a help.

Soft part changes

Of course, the soft parts of many creatures would also have needed to change drastically, and there is little chance of preserving them in the fossil record. For example, the development of the amniotic egg would have required many different innovations, including:

The shell.

The two new membranes—the amnion and allantois.

Excretion of water-insoluble uric acid rather than urea (urea would poison the embryo).

Albumen together with a special acid to yield its water.

Yolk for food.

A change in the genital system allowing the fertilization of the egg before the shell hardens.15

Another example is the mammals—they have many soft-part differences from reptiles, for example:

Mammals have a different circulatory system, including red blood cells without nuclei, a heart with four chambers instead of three and one aorta instead of two, and a fundamentally different system of blood supply to the eye.

Mammals produce milk, to feed their young.

Mammalian skin has two extra layers, hair and sweat glands.

Mammals have a diaphragm, a fibrous, muscular partition between the thorax and abdomen, which is vital for breathing. Reptiles breathe in a different way.

Mammals keep their body temperature constant (warm-bloodedness), requiring a complex temperature control mechanism.

The mammalian ear has the complex organ of Corti, absent from all reptile ears.16

Mammalian kidneys have a ‘very high ultrafiltration rate of the blood.’ This means the heart must be able to produce the required high blood pressure. Mammalian kidneys excrete urea instead of uric acid, which requires different chemistry. They are also finely regulated to maintain constant levels of substances in the blood, which requires a complex endocrine system.19

by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., F.M.

First published in Refuting Evolution
Chapter 3
1.C.R. Darwin, Origin of Species, 6th edition, 1872 (London: John Murray, 1902), p. 413. 
2.C. Patterson, letter to Luther D. Sunderland, 10 April 1979, as published in Darwin’s Enigma (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 4th ed. 1988), p. 89. Patterson later tried to backtrack somewhat from this clear statement, apparently alarmed that creationists would utilize this truth. 
3.S.J. Gould, in Evolution Now: A Century After Darwin, ed. John Maynard Smith, (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1982), p. 140. Teaching about Evolution pages 56–57 publishes a complaint by Gould about creationists quoting him about the rarity of transitional forms. He accuses creationists of representing him as denying evolution itself. This complaint is unjustified. Creationists make it very clear that he is a staunch evolutionist the whole point is that he is a ‘hostile witness.’ 
4.S.J. Gould, The Ediacaran Experiment, Natural History 93(2):14–23, Feb. 1984. 
5.L. Sunderland, ref. 2, p. 47–48. 
6.Reptiles, Encyclopedia Britannica 26:704–705, 15th ed., 1992. 
7.Ren Hirayama, Oldest Known Sea Turtle, Nature 392(6678):705–708, 16 April 1998; comment by Henry Gee, p. 651, same issue. 
9.G.G. Simpson, Tempo and Mode in Evolution (NY: Columbia University Press, 1944), p. 105–106. 
10.A useful book on the fossil record is D.T. Gish, Evolution: The Fossils STILL Say NO! (El Cahon, CA: Institute for Creation Research, 1995). 
11.Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, A Review by Dr Will B. Provine. Available from , 18 February 1999. 
12.M. Denton, Evolution, a Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler & Adler, 1985), p. 190. 
13.M. Denton, footnote 13, p. 157, 178–180; see also W. Roush, ‘Living Fossil’ Is Dethroned, Science 277(5331):1436, 5 September 1997, and No Stinking Fish in My Tail, Discover, March 1985, p. 40. 
14.T.S. Kemp, The Reptiles that Became Mammals, New Scientist 92:583, 4 March 1982. 
15.C. Patterson, Morphological Characters and Homology; in K.A. Joysey and A.E. Friday (eds.), Problems of Phylogenetic Reconstruction, Proceedings of an International Symposium held in Cambridge, The Systematics Association Special Volume 21 (Academic Press, 1982), 21–74. 
16.M. Denton, footnote 13, p. 218–219. 
17.D. Dewar, The Transformist Illusion, 2nd edition, (Ghent, NY: Sophia Perennis et Universalis, 1995), p. 223–232. 
18.T.S. Kemp, Mammal-like Reptiles and the Origin of Mammals (New York: Academic Press, 1982), p. 309–310.



But Dawkins cannot accept that the most obvious reason for said "planting" is creation.



Fossil Record problems for the Theory of Evolution

Fatal flaw in Theory of Evolution envisioned by Darwin  :o

Over 140 years later, it is an established scientific fact that numerous species belonging to the same genera or families DID start all at once but those clinging to the "evolution" straw have "modified" the tenets of natural selection to include an even less likely probability: CO-evolution.

This requires that symbiotic life forms like bees and flower pollen, termites and the bacteria in their gut that enables them to digest cellulose, leaf cutter ants and the fungus they raise to digest the leaves into starches AND the bacterial coat in the fungus farming specialist ants that keep the fungus from getting out of control through very specific antibiotics happen randomly. This is where it gets ridiculous because symbiotic mechanisms (just to name a few of uncountable symbiotic relationships among widely divergent species with no possible evolutionary ancestor) MUST occur within a single life of the target species or the "evolutionary advantage" is of no use.

Why is this a big deal? Because CO-evolution is mathematically impossible from the standard evolutionist view that positive mutations take millions of years to come about. his MUST occur in a few years or whatever a single life cycle of the target species is.

But they won't discard the discredited Theory of Evolution because they will be forced to go the intelligent design route and believe our biosphere was put here by ET scientists doing a science experiment or, horror of horrors, the God of all creation.

Evolutionist in the face of proven Creation ->

The Theory of Evolution needs a name change. I propose the Theory of the River in Egypt (De Nile).

Fascinating thread, AG.

Not a scientist, and not sure what to make of it, but the facts as presented make for a compelling argument.


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