WindowView Thesis on Science
Thesis: Looking across all scientific disciplines—including, astronomy, biology, cell biology, chemistry, evolution, genetics, geology, information theory, paleontology, and physics—the scientific evidence provides support for an intelligent coordination of events in nature. This occurs throughout the history of the universe and on earth, making possible the rapid appearance of life forms, a vast diversity and abundance of species, all to prepare the planet for human life. Life is therefore special and not by chance.
Validating The Thesis
Yes ... everything leads up to our existence and the reason for this is special. Illuminating data in support the thesis supports the overall WindowView (also see Convergence Area). For simplicity, two sources are highlighted here.(5) Other sources and examples are found in the articles throughout the Science Area.
From this point you can read about the scope, data, and sources, ... OR you can skip down to the Evidence Section to read from scientific topic to scientific topic.
There are two main types of observations here. First, those that identify factors refining our view on origins. This potentially updates perspectives related to the accepted description for macroevolution. Any differences may provide unique support for the thesis stated above.
Second, an alternative to strictly material or natural processes emerges from assessing datasets now in existence. Looking objectively means not being caught by 'what we hope or want the data to say.'
Evidence from the scientific literature and what the history of the sun, earth, and moon reveal to us makes for a multi-faceted approach. Finding surprises in that data only makes more spectacular the conclusion that life is special.
Take a look and follow the trail of evidence down the length of this page. The data open the window to the strong inference for design in nature and not as a product of chance. Further, the orchestration from cosmos to life on earth is a reflection of an intelligence at work.
Today we have reason to update life's story based on what we know about: origins (universe, planet, chemical and biological), life's sudden appearances (fossil data), origin of biological information (past and present), distinct body plans and innovations exhibited by life, the origin and complexity of structures (from cell to organism), and about the timing, progression, and post-extinction event reappearance(s) of adapted and evermore complex life forms. The modern neo-Darwinian theory for evolution runs into problems regarding these issues even to the point we could call them “game changers.” You might ask: “How could anything derail the theory?” Take a look, the characteristics listed below provide an answer.
Darwin formulated ideas leading to his theory based on his observations of the power of selective breeding (e.g., breeders working with pigeons developing a pedigree), which is artificial selection requiring an intelligent agent (the mind of a human) seeking or directing a result. The idea that natural selection works on random variability (e.g., mutations) to direct evolution, absent a mind, can only appeal to chance. The the difference poses mind versus randomness and chance. Scientists have been continually working with a theory based on chance events. Also, artificial selection and natural selection both work with existing biological information (in genes) and neither process originates new information (producing completely new features). And origin of new biological information and innovation, as noted here, is a stumbling block for Darwin's theory.
Scientific perspectives are best focused on what is known, following where the data lead, and by dropping assumptions. In relation to other perspectives, we are aware of debates on science and religion, creation and evolution, and what skeptics may say. The window leaves open the prospect for new discoveries, but support for certain explanations and assumptions dwindles. Beyond revising our view based on scientific data, we arrive at a point where our view on humanity's material existence needs reassessment!
WindowView's science scenario focuses on information as a key component to our existence. To this we add the recent assessments of evidence for awesome inferences regarding life's origin. The origin of universe, planet, and life move us forward to observations vital to understanding who we are, what life is, how we got here, and perhaps a purpose to our existence.
INFROMATION + ORIGIN + X = EXISTENCE
solve for x
Solving For X
Humans have long desired explanations in terms of origins, from Egyptians, to Mayans, the Greek thinkers, and others today, we continually reflect on such a desire. Listen to those today who speak of exoplanets and you'll hear it in terms of: "Is there life out there?"
The implication is that it happened here, thus it must have happened elsewhere. But how? And how did it happen here? Is there an answer?
The data in hand today point to specificity of information in living beings and examples of complexity—from cells to cosmos. This information and the means for its biological processing opens the window to considering an intelligence as an active agent to making life possible. Why? Simply the only known source of information is a mind.
Is 'intelligence' the 'x' in the equation?
Are we NOT the product of evolution's material and stepwise trail and error process? That is the concept commonly taught in schools. Yet, a look at probability and the resources of time, material, and opportunity removes chance from the equation on origins by natural processes. The earth holds evidence illustrating eras of time initiated by life's sudden appearances ushering in sophisticated forms of life, with complex features at the cellular and organism level all to say we are not here by chance!
Sources and Impact
WindowView credits individuals(2), groups, and organizations(3) who research, and publish original papers and reviews of the scientific data to present a case for an intelligence at work in the universe.(4) Critics may be vocal in rejecting this position, but well-articulated points have awakened scientists today. Resistance to change is great, especially with any notion for moving away from a broadly accepted scientific paradigm. Still, some now take more seriously the idea that the current paradigm, the story we commonly hear, needs renewal. The data are saying it’s time for a reality check.
At this point we pick up from points listed in the "A Perspective on Astronomy" section on the Overview page.
The first origin: the universe. Scripture logged it in first, science only confirmed this 'recently' in the early Twentieth Century.
Starting at the 'big bang,' physical and chemical relationships in the universe made possible just right conditions paving a way for life on earth (some of the just right relationships are noted in our article on "Astronomy and Evidence From The Beginning"). Along the way, with the formation of stars, some "went Super Nova" and by their stellar explosions dispersed heavier elements to space. The result is iron and other heavier elements were created and available for the physiology of life and also solidifying earth's crust. Stars are a stepping stone to planets and life (on earth).
As our solar system formed, unique events led to the making of our moon, itself just the right size and distance from earth, and maker of the oceans' tides and remarkable total lunar eclipses. The combination of relationships between sun, moon, and earth are fine tuned for life on earth (some of these relationships are highlighted on our page entitled: "Living on a Privileged Planet").
Regarding solar, lunar and earth conditions just right for life:
• The young primordial earth loaded with uranium and thorium sustained radiation levels too high for advanced life, which did not appear until 570 million years ago (MYA) when radiation levels were far reduced. This narrows the window for advanced life's first appearance, a condition not addressed in general discussions on biological evolution.
• Solar output is not a constant over the lifetime of a star. The sun was initially unstable with elevated levels of solar flaring. Advanced life does not appear on earth until the sun's output is stable and luminosity favorable to life (Darwin's theory does not address the impact of varied conditions over time in relation to the sun, solar system, and position in the galaxy)
• Solar luminosity (energy output) must fit within an optimal range for life to thrive on earth (Dr. H. Ross notes: if 2 percent lower continual glaciation would occur; if 4 percent greater, evaporation from the planet's surface would move all ocean water to the atmosphere as a vast misty cloud progressively trapping heat).
• Different life forms appear at different times in earth's history with characteristics that compensate for the change in chemical and physical conditions on the earth. In simplest terms, as solar and lunar conditions change, so does life.
• Multiple factors must align (right atmospheric oxygen level, solar intensity, continental surface area, plate tectonics, tidal patterns, surface temperature, pH, water cycle, nutrient cycling, etc.) and in the right combination create optimal conditions to support life. These factors have undergone change over the earth's lifetime.
• Higher life forms, including humans, only appear when conditions are just right for their kind, for example, the ideal day length for humans is 24 hours long and far different today from earlier in earth's history with faster rotation and a year made of 400 days. The moon, by virtue of just the right size and distance from the earth, progressively slowed the earth's rotation to provide this condition, now, just right for human habitation.
• Life forms have encountered mass extinction events and as life repopulates the planet the new forms appear better suited for the prevailing conditions on earth (Dr. Ross explains this in terms of change in solar cycle for a young then aging star(1)). The reappearance of species after extinction events is tens of thousands of years in duration and not the millions or hundreds of millions expected for the Darwinian theory. These qualify as sudden (re)appearances! This includes post-extinction event reappearance of dinosaurs that brings new types suited to new conditions.
Quick Summary Point
• Incorporating astronomy into a first look brings important scientific insight.
• Data from astronomy refines opportunities and defines limits to biological life's appearance and life support, here or on any planet in the universe.
• Explanations for evolution commonly skip the problem of biological origins, knowledge of first life is lacking, while attributes for design remain evident.
The next question is: What does the scientific evidence reveal about what happened here?
The proper start to a discussion on biological evolution includes the origin of the universe, the multiplicity of conditions that must be right for galaxy, star, and planet formation, and then conditions on the primordial earth. To put it simply: "Earth started as a clean slate." The initial bombardment (by planetesimals from outer space) of the newly formed planet's surface generated intense heat and yielded a sterile surface.
Let's start with that clean slate and in general terms line up the topics to point by point "flip over the coin" as we go along.
So ... once the planet cooled ... one can image 'chemicals had to do something' in order to produce an initial form of life. Without an explanation we are left with: "Something happened." Scientists have ideas, conducted experiments, but can't explain what happened.
Next, we are taught a universal ancestral life form, simple to start, initiated the long road to evolution and higher life forms. This fits Darwin's thinking, but this is an assumption.
Further ... what Darwin didn't know is that complex information and sophisticated biological information processing are inherently sustaining life forms. This information, starting at distinct points of origin, directs the radiation of species in a way other than the tree pattern or bottom up pattern Darwin had pictured in his writings.
And, further still, Darwin, as others before him, subscribed to the concept: "Natura non facit saltum," (Latin for "nature does not make jumps"). But evidence from Ediacaran fossils (of the Avalon explosion, ca. 570 MYA) and Cambrian fossils (ca. 530 MYA) provide evidence for sudden appearances of life with remarkably advanced forms especially in the Cambrian explosion. This troubled Darwin as did his observation of the relatively rapid appearance and radiation of flowering plant species (Angiosperms, ca. 160 MYA).
Before concluding the listing here, additional important topics addressed below include: Cell types distinguish the sophisticated nature of life, macromolecules function as cellular machines, life exhibits complexity (some irreducibly complex), insufficient time for Darwinian evolution, and how probabilistic resources factor into a reasoned view on evolution and the appearance of life on Earth (or perhaps any life appearances that could occur in the universe).
Now take a look at each of these issues, one by one starting with chemical evolution.
Quick Summary Point
What happened? Are assumptions explanations? Is information material stuff? What causes information? Does nature have the ability to "jump?" What if the general theory on (macro)evolution is in part or whole, deficient, or wrong?
Keep these questions in mind as you read!
Scientists endeavor to discover how life originated, but as interesting as the ideas and experiments are to this point in time, no one can describe how chemicals yielded steps leading to living cells. This observation comes after entertaining numerous possible scenarios based on chemistry and various primordial conditions on Earth. Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen's book "The Mystery of Life's Origin," reviews such scenarios, and while this is an earlier publication their assessment is still scientifically relevant (download the free PDF copy of the book).
Quick Summary Point
Scientists have no explanation for life's origin from chemicals. Experiments, such as those made famous by Miller and Urey require human design to work and then the results are inadequate to explain first life. (See Chemical Origin article for discussion.)
Charles Darwin was an intellect, a well-traveled naturalist, active correspondent, copious writer, and a remarkable thinker. His theory on biological evolution was a best inference based on the evidence available to him in his day. He did not shy away from sharing his thoughts and even doubts as he corresponded with colleagues and published his works. You can read many sources about the man, his explorations, and the circumstances following the publication of his theory (See Window Articles: Have You Ever Met Charles Darwin and Darwin's Doubts). However, briefly put, modern datasets have expanded incredibly since the mid-1800s. There is a lot Darwin never knew.
From molecules to physiology, to cell types and complex cell structures and the location and processing of information was all out of Darwin's reach. But we will leave the discussion of such features to life for a moment to simply and briefly focus on life appearances.
You may be familiar with the term "Cambrian explosion," which identities, in terms of geological time, a very rapid appearance of advanced animals. But there are actually numerous other signs of rapid appearances of life, including the organisms of the Ediacaran fauna (Avalon explosion, ca. 570 Million Years Ago (MYA)), Cambrian explosion (ca. 530 MYA), dinosaur extinction events with rapid recoveries of species in time scales of tens of thousands of years (that is quick), and sudden appearance of flowering plants (ca. 160 MYA). Five marine extinction events occur on Earth starting about 430 MYA to the last event 60 MYA.
S.J. Gould” “… The history of life is not a continuum of development, but a record punctuated by brief, sometimes geologically instantaneous episodes of mass extinction and subsequent diversifications.” Wonderful Life, page 54
The well known Harvard professor Dr. Stephen J. Gould (paleontologist) considered potential processes that made for punctuated steps in evolution. Later, the idea of many jumps in the process fell on disfavor and he returned to thinking of evolution in more conventional terms. The next two sections reflect on, first, the Darwinian thinking and then, second, the other side of the evidence from the Cambrian era. The differences are astounding and certainly part of why Dr. Gould correctly commented on instantaneous episodes.
Darwin Model: Life's Appearance & Diversification
Darwinism says (and or assumes):
• all life starts from chemicals (implied) and then an ancient universal ancestor (one simple life form or a few; origin unknown)
• first life appears long ago (leaving a long time for evolution to gradually occur)
• evolution is a product of a natural selection (a process) working on variations (random genetic mutations) making emergence of new species possible from previous forms
• the modern neo-Darwinian view is DNA, genes, experience mutations and are the source of genetic variation and by extrapolation would be the origin, over time, for new biological information
• mutations that present an advantage are selected and passed on to successive generations and potentially lead to progressively more advanced forms of life. This leads to "survival of the fittest."
• a tree diagram with branch points (nodes) and branches is used to depict the diversification of life from a common ancestor to distinctly disparate phyla (this is a bottom up tree starting with more features alike and over time feature differences separate the forms into distinct groups)
Quick Summary Point
Briefly stated, biological evolution starts with a first ancestor (origin unknown) that by an unguided natural process working on variations (random chance genetic mutations), leads to a diversity of life forms that eventually end up in distinct major groups of of life (i.e., major phyla). The theory assumes there is enough time on earth for first life to appear and be modified into all the forms observed throughout earth's history.
What the Cambrian Explosion Tells Us
• known from scientific data, before the Cambrian era, earth's early life for several billion years was comprised only of single cell organisms or colonies of cells
• microbial life during the first 3 billion years concentrated toxic soluble elements (metals) into major deposits of insoluble ores, thus reducing soluble concentrations to advanced-life-tolerable levels in earth's environment
• about 570 million years ago (MYA) Ediacaran organisms make a rapid appearance (called the Avalon explosion) and represent a step up in complexity of form but not to the level of the Cambrian biota
• Ediacaran organisms, while complex compared to single cells and cell colonies, lack a mouth, head, bilateral symmetry, gut, or sense organs
• the Ediacaran life forms disappear followed by a stretch of the fossil record with evidence for sponges
• about 540 MYA, at the Cambrian, about 20 (of the 26 known) distinct fauna phyla appear (Burgess Shale evidence), suddenly, with distinctly different body plans, without any sign of ancestral or earlier transitional forms leading up to these organisms (major distinct groups, phyla, start here, not develop later—a top-down pattern for evolution)
• Cambrian fauna exhibit markedly advanced features, for example (depending on phylum): compound eye, mouth, anus, appendages, tentacles, bilateral symmetry, gills, gut, notochord
• finely preserved Cambrian fossils from Canada and China reveal detail in hard and soft bodied organisms some are photographic quality in their structural detail
• the explosion in biological phyla implies a concurrent rapid appearance of biological information that is required for the distinct cell types needed for the different body plans exhibited by these phyla this is an explosion of: phyla, body types, biological information, new proteins and other biomolecules, and cell types in virtually no time, in terms of the evolution model
• phyla appear first, followed by class, order, family and species, which is a top-down and not a bottom-up appearance of life (opposite the Darwinian expectation)
• The Avalon explosion of the Ediacaran fauna was not preceded by life forms more complex than single celled or colonies of cellular organisms. Even more interesting, once the Ediacaran fauna go extinct, there are no ancestral forms leading stepwise to the Cambrian biota which are far more advanced and with numerous distinct body plans. Evidence for sponges is clearly preserved in the fossil record, but that's just about all there is before the explosion. The body plans reflect distinct designs and fully developed organ systems, eyes, and even feature in soft bodies are well documented. The amazing inference is "nature jumped."
• Today the evidence from the Cambrian era is less in question and more a reliable source on the appearance (origin) of advanced life. Sudden appearances happened for the Ediacaran and Cambrian biota bringing new information, molecules, cell types, and completely unique body plans. All this with no predecessors in a now reliable and accepted fossil record.
• Biology students rarely hear of Darwin's counterpart, Alfred Russel Wallace (also an expert field naturalist in their day) incorporated design in his view on evolution.
• "Wallace observed, to Darwin’s chagrin, that man’s intellect—his reason, his artistic and musical ability, his wit, his talent, and most of all man’s moral sense—must be caused by an “Overruling Intelligence” that guided evolution." — D. O'leary in the Introduction to the book "Alfred Russell Wallace - A rediscovered life."
Rapid re-appearances of life come with a need of explanation for events following marine and dinosaur extinctions. Dr. Ross(5) notes that after dinosaurs go extinct rapid appearances bring new dinosaur types that are better suited for the then advanced conditions of the solar cycle. He indicates that above all evolutionary considerations, only an active intelligence could do this in some ten thousand years with just the right adaptations for the corresponding solar conditions. This perspective, in relation to time, is glossed over in the scientific literature, which does indicate extinction events are followed by rapid recovery of numerous species with many new ones coming in at that time.
We highly recommend a reading of Dr. Meyer's book "Darwin's Doubt," for a well written description of the Cambrian event and an accounting for the lack of evolutionary ancestors.
Quick Summary Point
The fossil record is adequate to know that only sponges and simple life preceded the sudden appearance of the complex and advanced Cambrian biota. If not nature, the question is: What explains the "jump?"
Life contains information in DNA. We'll leave you to find a library book or web site to read basic information on DNA, RNA, and cell proteins. The focus here is that the information in DNA is a code that in operation rivals or exceeds computer languages of today. This is known through genetic science that has produced genetic maps revealing life is based on complex and specific information.
A significant problem for the origin of species is in understanding how biological information originated. In simple terms, most of the recent research studies manipulate information (genes) that already exists, but without explaining how first information or subsequent new information in species is generated.
Also simply put, there are huge pitfalls and problems in thinking a gene can be modified in steps over time—without encountering a static neutral or lethal point—to arrive at a new gene with some function that is useful in life. The probabilities for this are staggeringly low. (A well written account of these topics is also presented in Dr. Meyer's book(5)) In the molecular age one might think scientists could demonstrate how new information is created. The intriguing finding here is that obtaining an explanation is instead a huge problem.
Along with no viable explanation for the origin of life from chemicals, there is no viable scientific explanation for the origin of biological information.
Additional Layers of Unexpected Information Complexity: Beyond the genome (DNA in chromosomes), cells contain other (epigenetic) information that contributes to development and function of an organism. Cell membranes and other internal structures carry information in unique ways still being studied. The incredible added layer of information changes the view on heredity and magnifies the picture on complexity in life.
Scientists are becoming aware that instructions that coordinate development (as in prenatal stages) is 'hard wired,' much like circuitry in an electronic device. The location of these instructions is still to be defined. Altering the 'circuitry' disrupts development even leading to lethal results. This leads to a serious question of how any evolutionary mechanism can alter early development leading to distinct new life forms. The present view is essentially it can't happen.
Think about the implications ... scientific evidence limits or makes void certain evolutionary explanations. What scientists do know is life sprung forth multiple times during earth's history. All this goes well beyond the standard model for how macroevolution works. It's not all in the genes that matters ... and that is amazing!
Quick Summary Point
No one can explain where the complex and specified information in life originated—in material and naturalistic terms.
More than chemical evolution, sudden appearances of life forms, and an explosion of biological information ... the distinct differences in the Ediacaran and Cambrian organisms present another often overlooked attribute. Distinctly different organisms (each phyla or type displaying unique new body form or plan) are made up or built with distinct sets of cell types. Each cell type is characterized by the structures and functions associated with that type. Some cell types are common to many phyla, but some are found only in certain phyla.
This leads to interesting questions: How did separate cell types arise? The biological information expressed in a cell type characterizes and 'operates' the cell. What is the origin of this level of sophistication?
The Cambrian fauna also reveal that as organisms become more advanced, they require more cell types. Ediacaran organisms are estimated to have 10 cell types while Cambrian organisms range from 20 to 50 cell types per phyla. To build an animal, one needs needs uniquely different cells ... each requires unique information ... the more complex the animal the more types. This adds an interesting perspective not considered by by Darwin.
Quick Summary Point
Different types of cells arrived with each new type or phyla of organism at the Cambrian explosion. This brings to light unique biological information, new molecules, structures, functions, and an overall integration of greater complexity.
The cells in your body contain machines! Some cellular machines are made up of a number of parts, like our cilia or a bacterium's flagellum (pictured on right). These examples are explained further in the next section. To visualize cells filled with intricate operating parts, take a look at a companion page with a few animations!
But what about a single molecule? Could that be considered a machine? Think about a tool box filled with tools. Each one is a specific folded shape for a specific task. A hammer drives nails into wood while an adjustable wrench works on nuts and bolts. Are cells (metaphorically speaking) filled with hammers and wrenches? If the tools are proteins, yes, and the implications for evolution are also quite astounding.
A single protein functioning as an enzyme might not be thought of as a machine. But consider that thousands of enzymes in all life forms are specific to a function not shared by other enzymes. The three dimensional (3D) shape, kind of like a hammer or wrench, is suited to the specific job the enzyme performs. In fact the overall 3D shape of the molecule is vital to function. A specific sequence of amino acids within the molecule causes the shape (a fold) and forms an active site which may cut or join molecules as the enzyme performs its work.
Specific groups of enzymes team up to form production lines in cells with coordinating signals turning on and turnoff enzyme function. A cell, in this regard, is like a factory with resource and materials coming in, products built on demand, components recycled for reuse, holding bins in cellular storage compartments, and transport of products to the cell exterior. Many macromolecules indeed are functional like machines.
The origin of proteins that serve in a broad array of functions is often thought of in an evolutionary context. Some first assembled by chance and trail and error, others by transformation of existing proteins, and overall the right kinds of proteins must be co-located in one place a cell to provide all the functions for life. As it turns out, an assessment of the time, resources, and opportunity required to evolve such macromolecules is a stumbling block to the Darwinian view.
Quick Summary Point
Proteins, both structural and functional (e.g. enzyme) are not random entities, in fact so specific that science is hard pressed to demonstrate how one protein can develop into another functional and useful form without first losing function and be eliminated from the cell. If not eliminated, then energy to make a sustain that protein is a drain on the energetics of the cell. Making endless neutral and nonfunctional proteins would drain energy and degrade the cell's function.
Publications by Drs Michael Denton and Michael Behe provide provocative descriptions of complexity in living systems.(6) For years students of science have learned of mammalian cilia, bacterial flagella, the human immune system, how blood clots, and the physiology of vision. Behe's description of all these topics comes to descriptions of systems that are irreducibly complex. A reading of "Darwin's Black Box" provides Behe's full and detailed description of each example.
The core concept is irreducible systems exhibit a complexity that cannot function when missing even one part or the system is nonfunctional. From another perspective, however, evolution would have had to "anticipate all required parts" to make such a unique system by natural selection.
Critics of irreducible complexity (IC) have responded and believe they have answers to disprove the concept. But in light of the specificity of proteins (as noted in the previous section) and how some 40 distinct proteins are required to assemble a flagellum, that itself operates like a motor, a machine, with propeller and shaft, the idea of design easily creeps in. Design, structure, function require more than natural selection, they all are linked to information.
The idea of IC features, that are all there or nonfunctional, serves to illustrate something even more essential. The cell's manufacturing instructions (biological information) must be entirely complete for the assembly process to work. Beyond unique examples of IC, the mere layering of multiple cellular components, including, membrane systems, compartments, signaling systems, feedback and control of chemical pathways, transport systems, organelles, information storage, and more all define an integration of complexity in its own right. Underlying all of these cellular features, specific and complex biological information processing is required. It is rather amazing that the scientific community reads their professional journals with diagrams, data arrays, and detailed descriptions and then just assume it all happened by chance.
Complexity of a Single Molecule
From having some information plus the means to process instructions for making systems, we are back to the question of first life. What would it take to "find" the first functional protein? A first cell would need more than one enzyme, so how many enzymes were packaged in the first cell? If one protein were to be a starting point for other proteins to follow, could that morph over time into another needed functional protein?
The questions are interesting, but from lab experiments and probability assessments, morphing just one protein (actually changing the gene) to develop a new protein runs into complications described by the work of Dr. Axe. The probability of developing a functional protein from scratch is exceedingly low. Morphing from one functioning protein to another runs into issues extending orders of magnitude greater than the time available during the life history of earth, let alone the universe. A more detailed review of this work is again covered by Dr. Meyer. The plain language description here is making the simple point that even a single molecule poses a huge challenge to the Darwinian model.
The idea of irreducible complexity serves as an initial focal point, as an example, but broadly speaking critics of the concept turn a blind eye to the larger reality associated with the complexity of arranging all parts of first life, the information required, and even the probabilistic resources to compose exact functional sets of enzymes, numbering in the hundreds for a simple bacterium. That truly is an all or none proposition of great complexity!
Quick Summary Point
Scientists are very familiar with biological systems. Accepting what is known as a given can blind us to significant questions, aside from what 'is,' the problem of 'how' can be avoided. Life is, but how did it form and what is the origin? And are life systems haphazard or inefficient ... or do they reflect efficiency, integration of parts, and design?
Dr. Meyer in "Signature in the Cell" and again in "Darwin's Doubt" provides explanations for a wide audience to better understand the use of probabilities. We often hear of a one in a million chance something could happen. But Dr. Meyer goes further to explain chance depends on resources and opportunity. So, how can a protein exist without component amino acids (AAs; resources) or a functional protein without means to bond (manufacture) AAs in a specific order (opportunity: plus time for trial arrangements to seek the exact functional sequence).
With resources and opportunity, a significant question is: What is the possible number of combinations of AAs to make a specific protein (AAs sequenced in correct order)? Meyer notes that for a protein made of 150 AAs, the probability of arriving at the exact order is 1 in 1074 (this example is applied to the case of a functional protein with a specified stable fold (3D shape), which is applicable to a biologically active protein). The probability is exceedingly low ... especially if you consider trials taking one second ... there is not enough time in the universe (if 14 billion years, then 4.41797 x 1017 seconds) to perform trials at the rate of one test combination per second. And this is only one protein. Cells require hundreds of different types of proteins to function. A single E. coli has some 600 enzymes (each a unique protein).
A reading of Chapter 9, Ends and Odds, in "Signature in the Cell," and Chapter 10, The Origin of Genes and Proteins, in "Darwin's Doubt," go deeper into the numbers and various considerations for probabilistic resources. While all of the examples are quite staggering in their implications, quotations from notable scientists grace the text in agreement. And what is considerable is that the calculations alone are dwarfed by adding a matrix of factors that have to be just right for life to work.
Quick Summary Point
The idea that chemicals assembled first life requires the reactant or subcomponent chemicals in adequate concentration and the opportunity for the assembly of the exact chemical components. A protein needs Amino Acids, but also the exact sequence to make the molecule biologically functional. If the chance assembly of a protein is exceedingly low and trails to "seek" out the correct combination of AAs takes longer than earth history, what does that say about creating first life that would require many proteins to start?
Some of the examples provided above speak to insufficient time available for natural selection and random mutation to provide an explanation for Darwinian macroevolution. We acknowledge that the fossil record does reflect changes and species appearance over time—in this regard the term evolution is applicable. The top-down evolution noted above still reflects radiation of species once the phyla appear. However, molecular and genetic studies that attempt to determine a date for the origin of first life result in vastly different results. Attempts to draw tree diagrams for the descent of species from genetic and molecular data yield inconsistent tree diagrams. Something is amiss, consistency is lacking in places one would expect evidence for a confirmation of evolution.
Regardless of 'tree of life' inconsistency, what might be the point of origin for life? Dr. Behe examines the time issue in his book, "The Edge of Evolution," and summarized in Meyer's Chapter 12 (i.e., 'Complex Adaptations and the Neo-Darwinian Math,' in "Darwin's Doubt"). Factors like population size, reproductive cycles, numbers of generations over time and the impact this has on developing a new gene, all factors into time and the probability a new gene could surface and be of benefit to a species.
Behe and coauthor Snoke found that a gene requiring only two coordinated mutations could arise conceivably from 1 billion organisms in 100 million generations. If more than two coordinated mutations are necessary to produce the new gene, the probability is unlikely, perhaps outside of reach for a microorganism and certainly for any higher form of life. More advanced life forms have smaller populations and longer generation times. Further, a single new gene is not enough especially where a coordinated set of genes are required for any biological innovation (e.g. eye, organ, appendage).
Quick Summary Point
Given all of the generations and all the organisms that have ever lived on earth, there is not enough opportunity for complex sets of variations, across all life forms, to diversify life over the history of the earth (or universe). Looking at one gene or one mutation is not the big picture on what must happen for macroevolution from scratch. The Cambrian explosion starts with complete functional genetic information per phyla and radiation of species follows.
The review of scientific data reveals more than chance events leads to biological innovation. Organisms at the Cambrian appear with fully functional eyes. There are no predecessors with developmental, trial and error, such sensory or optical features. Anatomical parts such as a mouth, gut, gills, appendages, and other features complete the body plans that are unique to each phylum.
Reflections on Information and Evolution: All of the above stated considerations are beginning to sink into the scientific community. But the dialog remains in the back halls of science, not out in public view.
If you have read this far and appreciate the discussion above is a plain language description—meaning far more detailed documentation stands behind this presentation—then you have reflections on important issues the window brings to you.
There are certainly many critics who insist all the issues described above are insufficient support the 'argument from design' and thus existence of a designer (an intelligence, mind) responsible for the universe and life. The popular media pick up on the sensational exclamations made by the skeptics ... who claim design is an example of bad science with some underlying religious agenda. The proponents for the concept of intelligent design have long insisted that scientific data are the source of the concept. And instead of picking single issues one at a time, as the critics do, the benefit of the window view is to recognize the broad landscape of scientific issues are what in fact support the design argument. Ultimately, each of us is left to make our own assessment. Do so, but be well informed in the effort!
Graduate students get immersed in their studies and often just accept that the level of complexity they see life exhibit is simply a given, taken for granted. Ask if such complexity arouse by a natural process and most often the answer is: “It evolved to be that way.” After all, that is what the textbooks say.
Looking at Life With Blinders Removed
Looking with a set of fresh eyes at the scientific journals with all the complex diagrams for how living cells organize and process chemicals, send signals within a cell or to other cells or organ or limb, time sequences of cellular events ... etc. ... gives pause for thought. So much appears so engineered and detailed. The picture science paints is intricate on many levels! Journal diagrams mirror this very point! It takes a Ph.D. to research the complexities to provide the data, but in stepping back a child can recognize amazing implications. Materialistic minds and skeptics seek explanations for what the data might lead to—natural explanations based on random events—yet an objective view of recent scientific evidence opens to the recognition “we are not here by chance.”
Articles for Further Exploration
Science Area articles touch on these and other topics. At some point you may recognize how scientific information leads us back to the WindowView thesis on what is special. The view looks beyond the classic text book descriptions and further beyond ongoing debates ... quiet time at the window does this!
The window allows us to visualize points that are often dismissed or hidden from view. With this realization, we all are back at the age old question on a “purpose to our being here.” And that points to the other WindowView scenarios. The window scenarios, like an open window, are evidence and perspectives that redefine the view on life.
T. Peterson, Ph.D., Editor
"Evolution is very possibly not, in actual fact, always gradual. But it must be gradual when it is being used to explain the coming into existence of complicated, apparently designed objects, like eyes. For if it is not gradual in these cases, it ceases to have any explanatory power at all. Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to miracle, which is a synonym for the absence of [naturalistic] explanation." -- Richard Dawkins
"No one at Harvard University, no one at the National Institutes of Health, no member of the National Academy of Sciences, no Nobel prize winner—no one at all can give a detailed account of how the cilium, or vision, or blood clotting, or any complex biochemical process might have developed in a Darwinian fashion. But we are here. All these things got here somehow; if not in a Darwinian fashion, then how?" -- Michael Behe
"One of the reasons that people embrace Darwinian orthodoxy with such an unholy zealousness, is just that it gives them access to power. Its as simple as that: power over education, power over political decisions, power over funding, and power over the media."
-- David Berlinski, The Incorrigible Dr. Berlinski
(1) This stated thesis may sound familiar to some of our visitors. We wish to give credit to Dr. Hugh Ross for our paraphrasing words for certain points made in his presentation in relation to the appearance of life on earth as a product of conditions in the universe and on Earth. An audio of this presentation can be obtained separately (audio disk 2 of 4). He also addresses an 'across all science disciplines approach' to accentuate a more holistic understanding of the 'argument from design.'
(2) Individual authors of articles and books used as sources here comprise a long list, that includes many Ph.D. scientists, but is hardly limited to: Agassiz, Axe, Behe, Berlinski, Bradley, Chien, Darwin, Davis, Dembski, Denton, Gonzales, Heeren, Hunter, Johnson, Kenyon, Meyer, Mooreland, Nelson, Olsen, Plantinga, Rana, Richards, Ross, Samples, Schroeder, Simmons, Spentner, Thaxton, Wallace, Wells, Woodward ... et al.
(4) examples of source organizations include the Discovery Institute and Reasons to Believe
(5) The Thesis page lists a number of points that are currently best summarized in two sources: 1)"The Cambrian Mystery," a four CD audio presentation by Drs. H. Ross and F. Rana (Available from RTB), and 2) "Darwin's Doubt." by Dr. S. Meyer (Book link). The information in these sources is further supported by the papers, books, seminars, and conferences in which additional information comes through all the named sources in footnote 2.
(6) Dr. Michael Denton's book "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" describes cellular complexity as a technical wonder, p328-329 and Dr. Michael Behe's "Darwin's black Box" describes why each of the examples, those cited in the section above, is irreducibly complex and thus unexplainable by evolution science.