Random Reality – An Open Letter to Tildeb
This letter is in response to your comment from October 4 2015 – https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/eating-habits-excerpt-from-teh-forthcoming-the-bible-trial/#comment-24325
Let me begin by thanking you again for posting your comments on this blog. It is my firm belief that an open discussion in which both sides articulate their understanding of truth will bring us all closer to the truth.
Design denotes designer. We do not find complex functionality without intelligence that created the sophistication. This would then bring us to understand that the complex functionality of the natural world has been designed by intelligence.
Evolutionists argue that this premise is false. The theory of evolution proposes that random changes filtered by natural selection can produce design and they can produce design blindly, without intelligence. Many experiments and observations seem to have confirmed the theory of evolution so why would anyone stick to the argument of intelligent design? Your conclusion seems to be that anyone who still believes in intelligent design after the scientific discoveries have decisively confirmed evolutionary theory must be ignoring reality.
But let us examine reality as the scientists report to us.
There are several components to the theory of evolution. The theory proposes that living beings can change over a span of generations (in other words; heritable change). The theory proposes that these changes can occur randomly, without any direction. And the theory proposes that the process of natural selection will ensure that those changes that enhance the survival of the organism will outlast those that have not made those changes.
These are three different components to the theory and it is only on the basis of the second component that we can say that the premise of intelligent design has been undermined. If the first and third components of evolutionary theory are true but the second one is not, then the premise of intelligent design is not affected. In other words, if living beings can change and those changes are filtered by natural selection but those changes are not random, then the original assumption that functionality indicates intelligence is firmly in place. If these living beings changes by some other process, a process which is not random, then the functionality of the original living being is actually higher and more complex than if it would not be able to change. A car that can adapt itself and change according to its surroundings is far more complex than a car that cannot do make these changes.
All the evidence to the theory of evolution that has accumulated over the last 150 years have established that living beings can and do change and that these changes are filtered through the process of natural selection but they have not established that these changes are random. The fact that 150 years of research did not turn up evidence of the randomness of evolution is a powerful piece of evidence against that aspect of the theory of evolution. Those who use evolution to “disprove” the premise of intelligent design are ignoring this reality.
I realize that you believe that science has proven the random basis of evolutionary change and I will show you why your belief is not rooted in reality, but first, for the benefit of the readers, allow me to articulate and establish my position. Let us examine some of the more popular science experiments that have established the theory of evolution.
The peppered moths of England seem to serve as an example for evolution. These moths used to be light colored. When the industrial revolution increased pollution, the environment of the moths changed. Trees that used to be light were now blackened and dark. The peppered moth population changed colors and became dark. As the government began regulating pollutants the environment of the moth changed again and with time the moths became light again.
Here we see how a living organism has changed over time and how natural selection controlled that change. It would seem that this is a classic example of evolution in action.
But no one ever claimed that new moths were developed. The light colored and dark variants of the peppered moths always existed side by side. There is always a majority of one type and a minority of the other. What changed was the preponderance of one over the other. And this was achieved through natural selection. As the environment darkened, the chances of the light colored moths to escape from their predators decreased and the chances of the dark colored moths were enhanced. This caused the dark colored moths to increase and take over the population. This process was reversed with the changes to the environment brought about by the lessening of pollutants.
This experiment proves the third of the three premises of the theory of evolution, the premise of natural selection. But this experiment does not establish the premise that living beings could change or that the changes are random.
Another observation that has been used to establish the theory of evolution involves finches. Charles Darwin observed that the finches on the Galapagos Islands are different than finches found elsewhere in the world. Darwin theorized that these differences arose through evolution. In other words, the ancestors of these Galapagos finches were plain old finches and with time they changed and evolved into the particular finches that they are.
This theory was confirmed with an experiment conducted on Southeast Island in the Pacific Ocean. In 1967, 100 finches were brought from Laysan Island to a small group of islands about three hundred miles northeast of Laysan. These finches were examined 20 years later and it was discovered that they had developed different bill shapes from their ancestors.
Here we have evidence to two of the three premises that make up the theory of evolution. We have seen that the population of the species can change and that the change is filtered by natural selection but there is no evidence to the premise that this change was random. The fact that the beneficial changes were developed so quickly indicates that the changes were not random (http://www.researchgate.net/publication/22628078_Beyond_neo-Darwinism__an_epigenetic_approach_to_evolution._J_Theor_Biol ).
But what about bacteria? Various experiments done with bacteria would indicate that bacteria could change and that those changes could be random and that natural selection will filter those changes.
One such experiment showed how a particular bacterium which could only subsist on one type of sugar developed a change in its genetic makeup that enabled it to subsist on a different type of sugar. These changes were progressive. In other words, in each subsequent mutation, the bacteria’s ability to subsist on the new type of sugar was qualitatively enhanced.
But upon closer examination (http://www.msg.ucsf.edu/agard/Publications/26-Agard-Nature-89.pdf ) it is revealed that these changes are not a random acquisition of complexity. In order to believe that random changes can build up to create new and diversified life forms we must posit that the genetic code of the organism acquired new information that was not present in the original genetic code. But at each stage of this experiment the bacteria lost or repressed genetic information in order to adapt to its environment.
Another observation that would seem to support the theory of random evolution is the hypermutation of the B-cell. Certain sections of the DNA of the B-cell (which is a part of the immune system) mutate at a relatively rapid rate. These mutations add information to the genetic code and they seem to be random.
So here we have it. All three elements of the theory of evolution have been established.
But this is not so. These random mutations only occur in a specific section of the B-cell’s genome (string of genetic information). These random mutations enhance the B-cells functionality. In other words the immune system works better with these random mutations taking place in this particular spot in the B-cell’s genome. This is not random. This is like a computer which is programed to make random combinations for a specific purpose and function (http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.php ).
Did I forget to mention Lenski’s experiments with the e-coli bacteria? The e-coli bacteria cannot process citrate. But with time, some of the e-coli bacteria in Richard Lenski’s laboratory developed the ability to subsist on citrate. Again, we have change, and this change was random (it took more than 30,000 generations of e-coli to come up with this ability) and the change was filtered by natural selection (the citrate processing e-coli dominated the population once they developed their specialized ability).
But here too, the e-coli bacteria did not become more complex, it actually became more simple. Normal e-coli bacterium possesses a repressor which stands in the way of the bacteria from processing citrate. What happened in Lenski’s laboratory was that some of the bacteria mutated in a way that the repressor was disabled. Such mutations, which simplify the organism, cannot be the source of producing complexity.
Let us go back to the peppered moths for a moment. The Kettlewell experiment has been touted as THE proof for evolution for decades. Generations of college students have been fed the story and it has shaped the thinking of many people. But recent studies call the entire experiment into question ( http://amcbt.indstate.edu/volume_19/v19-3p3-9.pdf ). Will the problems with Kettlewell’s experiment get the same widespread coverage as did his faulty conclusions? How many students will continue to be misled into thinking that Kettlewell’s moths decisively establish the verity of every aspect of evolutionary theory when in fact it is questionable if his study even provides a basis for one component of evolution?
The scientific community has set itself up as the sole distributer of reality. After all, since science is the study of reality, where else would we expect to find reality? But the history of Kettlewell’s experiment demonstrates that the scientific community is plagued by an unhealthy affinity to comfortable falsehoods as is everybody else. The scientific community suffers from the same vices that afflict the religious community; an attitude of self-righteousness, moral elitism and an aversion for uncomfortable facts.
Tildeb, you have stated that you want your worldview to be shaped by reality and by nothing else. I applaud this method and I admire it. I too strive for this ideal. I urge you (as I urge myself) to stick to the ideal and not allow anyone or anything to shape your thinking, but your own ability to think and the raw facts.
May God be with you on your journey.
Acknowledgment: I obtained most of the scientific information contained in this article from Dr. Lee Spetner’s book; “Not by Chance” (Judaica Press 1998) and from a subsequent correspondence with Dr. Spetner.
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal