This is the third part of a review on the book, “Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea”.
The first part of the review is found under the section of book reviews on this website. The second post is entitled “Bait and Switch Tactics.” In his book, the scientific journalist Carl Zimmer recounts the classic stories and proofs that are supposed to support Darwinian evolution. He makes no distinction between the Laws of Heredity that are seen to give rise to variation in species and the origin of the hereditary information itself, the DNA blueprint. There is no known mechanism of genetics that could cause cows to turn into whales, or ferns into red oaks. The first mechanism occurs through reproduction and is real. It has been understood for some time to be the way to breed dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and cattle as well as agriculturally important crops. It also has the ability to remodel living forms to a limited degree in the natural world. The second concept is supposed to have produced life and some 2 million and probably many more life forms on the planet. The second concept I have called Darwinian evolution. It has been assumed to work like reproductive genetics but by unknown chemistry, under impossible natural conditions, against incredible odds and a rejection of the most obvious requirement, intelligent intervention, nonliving substances have turned into living substances and diversified into the millions of living forms on our planet. This is mythology and not science.
In this post, Zimmer offers several more examples for us to consider. These have convinced him that all living forms have arisen by natural selection on variations that currently exist in the genome of living beings. This is not what is required by Darwinian evolution. None the less, his bait and switch tactics continue to suppress the truth of what is known about molecular genetics. Let’s look at these examples for evidence of Darwinian evolution.
There is a lake in Africa named after the Queen of England upon its discovery; Lake Victoria. Stories of multiple glaciations and endless ages have supposedly formed the lake. However, the current lake is the result of a catastrophic glacial meltdown that filled the lake to its current depth. Surprising to evolutionary geologists, the lakebed is only 14,500 years old instead of hundreds of thousands of years. Even this number is questionable as it too comes with a bag of unproven assumptions that must be met for the dating to be meaningful. The lake supposedly filled 14,500 years ago and at that time a single species of a small, very colorful fish called a cichlid slipped into the lake. Within approximately 8000 years, 500 species of cichlid were born through an “evolutionary boom” (pg. 108). To enhance the credibility of this seemingly incredible story of speciation Zimmer adds (or pulled from the textbooks) that these little fish may have been primed for an evolutionary explosion through their elaborate sexual behaviors. Males dance to attract females. If dances change due to genetic variation (within the design of the fish genetic program) females may have had a preference for a particular dance and mated. This may have caused isolation of a mating population, which by definition is what a species is; an isolated, successfully reproducing population of living beings. Please note that this addendum to Zimmer’s story is filled with the word may. It means a possibility, in this case, a concession or contingency that adds a degree of feasibility to the incredulous story…. None of this is fact; just wishful and wishful thinking.
Biologists are still studying these fish. The genetic differences have not been determined only the genetic similarities. This is no breakthrough. The supposed 500 species are all cichlids. No DNA testing was needed to determine this. But the testing was done and they are all cichlids. The differences between them as different species, if indeed they have actually speciated at all, are under investigation. My prediction is that not a single gene will be found that is new to the common stock of cichlid genomics and it may be shown that it was not a single species that slipped into the waters of Lake Victoria after all. It may have been 6 or 7 or a dozen interbreeding types; not species. This region of the world has other rivers and lakes that also harbor cichlids.
Currently, the data suggest these 500 “species” are more closely related to each other than those found in other lakes and rivers. But if cichlids are not isolated in their breeding habits just like the finches of the Galapagos Islands are not isolated in their breeding habits, they may represent the genetic repertoire of several “species” (subspecies?) or more or just one. Furthermore, the lake is not geographically isolated. Thousands of streams flow into the lake and the lake empties to form at least two rivers. The idea of speciation of this fish is quite incredible. Most likely, the 500 types of cichlids are breeding stocks and could give rise to fertile offspring through interbreeding. This would make them one species and not 500. Molecular biologists are looking for answers.
NEWS FLASH: IN A recent publication, (7 July 2010, Nature 466, 174-175 (2010)) the authors admit that these fish “hybridize” to create fertile offspring. This means they do not know the meaning of the world species. Unfortunately for evolutionary biologists, if the fish hybridize to create fertile offspring then they are not different species. They are not reproductively isolated but breeding populations segregated by sexual selection. Amazingly, the authors knowing they are not dealing with 500 species suggest that this “hybridizing” of species may be driving their speciation. Do you get any of this? This is a bold admission that evolutionary scientists do not hold to any definition of what makes a species. Since the fish can hybridize they do not represent speciation or evolution; just many schools of very pretty and colorful fish.
A note of warning to any who would choose the cichlid as a useful animal to describe any form of evolution let alone agree on their taxonomy (Genus and species). Strangely enough, this particular fish is found worldwide in many forms that range in size from 1 inch to 40 inches. The total number of named species is well over 1600 and estimates go as high as 3000. Remarkably, the animal type is predominantly freshwater and yet it has been found “dispersed” all over the world. Some think its dispersion is not real and that the isolation of groups of the fish on all continents is a result of the breakup of Gondwana Land 510 million years ago. Yet, after being separated all those years the fish has never actually evolved. Failures to classify them, the ease with which they breed or “hybridize” with one another and the thousands of separated forms that still retain the fundamental features of a cichlid after millions of years of isolation in freshwater lakes and streams around the world are a proof that evolution is a failed hypothesis. Zimmer or the biology textbooks could not have chosen a worse organism to make a case for evolution. Incidentally, if you have ever eaten Tilapia then you have eaten a cichlid.
Zimmer extends his ramblings into human biology. He discusses the production of antibodies in the human immune system. In this section “Fighting Colds with Natural Selection” he notes the remarkable ability of the body to fight disease without ravaging the body itself and he says, “The immune system harnesses the power of evolution to fine-tune its assault.” (pg. 111). Is this true? Do we contain the components of evolution in the microscopic world of cellular immunity?
Zimmer describes the production and function of the cells that produce antibody proteins. These are white blood cell proteins that protect the body from disease. He notes that the proteins have specific recognition sites for infectious invaders of the body. He describes the precision of antibodies to bind any one of billions of antigens (invading organisms, poisons or allergens) and to neutralize them on contact. After the infection clears, the cells making these proteins are retained a molecular memory of the disease agent so as to be ever vigilant to future attacks.
He describes antibody production (the proteins are also called immunoglobulins) as an evolutionary process that involves randomly mutating genes that create variation in the binding site of the antibody protein. The proteins are expressed in the B-cell of the developing immune system. When released into the bloodstream they seek out and bind particles or invaders that are foreign to the body. B-cells get feedback from other cells that present foreign proteins to them and when the B-cell is activated, it undergoes massive cellular replication. Millions of clones of the B-cell are produced and they all then secrete more antibodies into the bloodstream. The increased amount of antibody in the bloodstream counters the invader’s attack. After successfully conquering the cold virus, flu or infection, copies of the B-cell are retained in the lymph nodes. According to Zimmer, these cells demonstrate survival of the fittest. They varied. They were selected. They survived. Evolution was proven.
The reality of the genetic production of antibody molecules is far more complicated. It is, in fact, a precisely regulated and far more cerebral affair (complex affair) than Zimmer dares give credit. From the differentiation of stem cells in the marrow of our long bones, hips, and sternum, the B-cell matures. The antibody that will be produced by the B-cell is composed of 2 pair of identical proteins called the heavy and the light chains. Two heavy chains and two light chains, four proteins all together form the antibody. During the period of specialization, the gene for coding for the heavy chain of amino acids for the final antibody protein and one of two genes coding for the two versions of the light chain of amino acids for the final antibody undergo a directed DNA recombination. This event occurs on separate chromosomes where the genes are located. Each recombination event is a distinct rearrangement of the DNA code. This occurs even before the DNA code is transcribed into directions for protein production.
Each of the two genes, the heavy chain, and the light chain have multiple copies of multiple regions that are separated by intervening sequences; regions that do not code for protein sequences. Two genes, heavy and light, chosen for the production of the protein have C-regions or constant regions and multiple copies of three different and unique gene segments. They are labeled the variable gene segment or V-region of which there are 44 regions. The D-region or diversity gene segment has 27 copies and the J-region or joining gene segment that has 6 segments. Under the direction of the cell, these segments will ultimately be recombined through a controlled rearrangement that gives rise to two unique genes that will direct the production of two separate proteins.
The maturation of the B-cell involves the expression of other genes that regulate the recombination events. When the proteins are knit together, two heavy chains and two light chains when properly folded, are chaperoned by other proteins to help them to bind together. This makes a single macromolecular protein composed of 4 protein strands. The orientation of these 4 strands gives rise to various functions of the protein. Most important is that the strands aligned to form a hypervariable region at one end of the protein with the constant regions found at the other end of the giant molecule. The result is a Y-shaped globular protein that can bind at two identical target sites on the disease-causing invader. After binding to the invader, the constant region dictates how other cells of the body will dispose of the tagged and neutralized invader.
Using the words random and mutation in describing this incredibly complex and highly controlled event is like placing a gold ring in a pig’s snout and calling it beautiful. It is true that technically the rearrangement of DNA could be described as a mutation event but the deliberate and controlled processing of chunks of DNA for the purpose of producing as many as 30 trillion unique proteins from as many cells for the specified purpose of neutralizing foreign bodies such as virus’, bacteria, toxins, allergens and parasites in order to protect the human body from disease and death is hardly an act of randemonium. And this process is occurring every minute of every day of your life in the specialized bone marrow of a few specialized bones. Immunologists do not call these events mutations. They call it DNA recombination. DNA does not like mutations. In fact, the cell has many proof-reading proteins and, when stressed, the cell generates heat shock proteins from the DNA blueprint for the very purpose of protecting the DNA blueprint.
One must consider that a DNA mechanism that deliberately flirts with mutation, which exists to modify the genetics of immunological cells to protect the body from disease is remarkable. Even more so, this occurs in specified regions of the DNA, but for only a very brief period of time and with the purpose to accomplish one great goal: the manufacturing of two proteins that will combine in synchrony to form an elegant 3-dimensional organic bullet. This bullet can be mass produced. And when it is produced, it is capable of destroying invaders on contact. This amazing molecular biology is just one step removed from witnessing a miracle from God. It is at the very least, proof that an intelligent designer had immunology in mind at the creation.
Combine these remarkable events with the immune system’s ability to self-check each B-cell for potential autoimmune reaction (which could cause autoimmune diseases). And if this were not marvelous enough, after B-cell production has instigated the war on invading organisms, other cells produce antibiotics and still other immune cells clean up the battlefield. More cells knit the wounded area closed, while some of the B-cells return to lymph nodes to become memory cells; stored and prepared to clone (replicate themselves) in response to the same invader if needed.
To engage in a complete description of human immunity has taken others authors volumes of books to do it justice. B-cells, T-killers, macrophages, neutrophils, and eosinophils are the army of white cell defenders that roam the body, clearing dead cells, targeting invading organisms, touching and testing the cells that compose our body to kill cancers before they arise, to recognize infected cells and recruit immune backup. I marvel at the exceptional creative genius and planning that went into the design of the immune system. Zimmer’s take on the production of the immunoglobulin molecule is a mockery of William Paley’s argument for design. Zimmer said this, “…if Paley had been introduced to antibodies, so well designed for fighting particular disease…he might have said that antibodies must be the work of a designer, that nothing so well crafted, so well suited to its own antigen, could have been formed on its own. And yet every time we get sick, he is proved wrong.” (pg. 112).
How foolish and how blind can men become when they prefer darkness to light. The lack of critical thought that goes into evolutionary storytelling is simply an affront to reason. Adopting evolutionary biology as an explanation continues to be a form of delusion. It is literally a choice to believe a lie. All the stories of current living conditions, habitats, dog breeding, and genetics will never rescue what Darwinian evolutionists must have in order to rationally support their theory. It seems that what can’t be proved must be accepted because we know there is no God!! The burden of proof is on the evolutionists to prove that there is no God. Or at least prove that these biochemical and cellular marvels can be explained by materialistic mechanisms. Science in every field of study is stunted by the adoption of evolution by deep time (acceptance of great ages) as though time was the answer. Myths and mythological events must be accepted as “science by consensus” for it is not facts that support evolution but men voting on the best conceivable fantasy.
The topic of origins is important. What we believe determines who we are and how we live and treat others. Life and death are understood in very different terms depending on the view one adopts. Even morality, and what defines immorality is determined by where we place our faith. And don’t doubt it, Darwinian evolution is faith. Whether one believes that evolution gave us choice or that God did, we are people who walk in the shadow of death. An evolutionist fears no evil because his faith says there is no evil. We are naked apes and morality is an artificial synthesis. Neither is there anything to live for; hence there is nothing to fear in death. The believer in God fears evil because his faith says that evil is real and it must be quenched for we have everything to live for; life is good and death, conquered by God, is only gain. It is not for fear of death that I have a faith in God. It is not my goal to cling to eternal life out of fear that causes me to reject evolution. It is because the facts of life leave me no choice but to acknowledge that God exists. I have no choice in this matter. To choose to deny this knowledge would make me a liar. To believe that He does not exist would be delusional. All the facts of science prove to me over and over again that something beyond nature was, is and will always be at work in human existence. The choice I am left with is not whether I believe He is, but whether I believe IN HIM. But this gets us into theology and I’ll save that for another day.