Posted by: Randall Niles | February 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

I spoke at a few events last week and participated in a number of online dialogues. On more than one occasion I was told that I just don’t understand the beautiful “simplicity” of Darwinian Evolution. Since I’m not a scientist, I’ll never understand how “simple” code and structures could naturally evolve into “simple” cells and systems.


“Simple?” Who’s kidding who?


Yes, at the moment of conception, a fertilized human egg looks like a simple, single-celled blip no bigger than a pinhead. However, we now know that amorphous blip contains information equivalent to 6 billion “chemical letters” — enough complex code to fill 1,000 books, 500 pages thick with print so small that it would take a microscope to read it. 


Through the marvel of DNA, every single human trait is established at the moment of conception. Within hours, that single cell starts reproducing and grows a cilia propulsion system to move the fertilized egg towards the uterus. Within six days, the original cell (now called an “embryo”) has reproduced its library of information over 100 times. Ultimately, that original blip of life will divide into the 30+ trillion cells that make up the human body.


Wow! That’s at the cellular level. If the “simple” cell is that complex, what about the “simple” systems made up of these cellular structures? Come on — Is there really such a thing as “simple,” now that we can view organisms using the latest in microbiological and biochemical technology?


What about the human heart? It’s a miraculously efficient and durable hydraulic pump that no engineer could dream of producing.


What about the human brain? It’s a legitimate 3-pound computer system, 1,000 times faster than the latest supercomputer and with more connections than all the computers, phone systems, and electronic appliances on the entire planet.


What about human eyes, ears, and lungs? What about the digestive tract, reproductive system, and immune response? Seriously, how can we logically explain the random and gradual development of these complex systems?


In light of 21st century science and technology, what would Charles Darwin say on this, his 200th birthday? Actually, he addressed this eventuality in his original theory: 


“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”


— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Bantam Books, 1999 (reprint of 1859 original), 158.


Happy Birthday Chuck!


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