A Scientific Consensus: Darwinism is Dead

Stephen C. Meyer, expounding Intelligent Design in his book Signature in the Cell, makes a point he does not seem to appreciate: for decades microbiologists have been abandoning Darwinism. Breakthrough technologies have shown that life at the cellular level is complex beyond anything Darwin or any 19th century biologist could have predicted. From the variety of cellular functions to the complex information transmitted in the gene, many outstanding scientists recognize that the math just doesn’t work. Intelligent Design represents only one concession to the statistical impossibility that chance caused the life of simple cells. Interrupting the following parade of microbiologists who, like Meyers, recognize that random chance alone cannot have produced the simplest cellular life, are conclusions flowing from this scientific consensus.

  1. Christian de Duve, for example, a Nobel Prize winner, and in no way an advocate of Intelligent Design, has abandoned random chance as the agent of upwards evolution or the ascent of man. He envisions primordial planet earth as a chemical reaction waiting to happen. Recognizing that the odds of random chance being impossibly against the formation of a single cell, let alone man, he has ceaselessly been searching for the string of chemical reactions that, once started, must have inevitably and, without chance, led to mankind. So far… no luck.
  2. Ilya Prigogine, won his 1977 Nobel Prize for his theory that biological life self-assembled from inorganic non-life through the non-equilibrium thermodynamic processes. Again, random chance was abandoned, this time for the notion of an outside force arising in a thermodynamic process that, somehow, energized evolution. Such a force has never been identified.
  3. Manfred Eigen, won the Nobel Prize in 1967 for his work measuring extremely fast chemical reactions brought about by energy pulses. Though proud to use the term evolution, his models of the origin of life are not based on chance but on self-organizing chemical reactions that cycle to higher and higher levels. He is also the author of Eigens Paradox that explains a critical problem in positing cycles of RNA that lead to DNA.
  4. Lynn Margulis believes parasites aided random chance in the evolution of the cell.
  5. Freeman Dyson, feeling random chance and self-organizing molecular scenarios are insufficient seems to believe in a combination of Eigens self-organizing RNA cycles andLynn Margulis sense that cellular evolution was the result of parasites.
  6. Michael Polanyi, whose interest in science often impacted his philosophic notions, rejected chance as the origin of life in Lifes Irreducible Structure.
  7. Bernd-Olaf Kppers, like Michael Polanyi, supports his notions that the whole (the living cell) is greater than the sum of its parts (chemical reactions) with evidence that random chance cannot result in the irreducible complexity of a living organism (60) nor explain the information it transmits.
  8. Bernd-Olaf Kppers, using methodology like that of noted Darwinian apologist Richard Dawkins, also modeled mathematical algorithms that guide randomly generated computer simulations of origin of life scenarios. Kuppers calls his theory of self-organization the molecular-Darwinistic approach. It is hard to tell what Kuppers means by statements like, inanimate matter organized itself of its own accord into animate systems (82).

Chance and randomness as the source of life is dead, as dead as Darwinism. Modern culture may have been convinced by the Copernican Revolution that science can be both counter-intuitive and true. Hence, the counter-intuitive notion of chance as the author of life may have become as widely accepted as the faith in the invisible electron. However, since the 1960s humanitys knowledge of the living cell, just the living cell alone, magnifies what we have known intuitively about the order, beauty and majesty of existence: it could not have happened accidentally.

  1. Fred Hoyle, superb mathematician and astronomer who, according to some reports, deserved a Nobel Prize for his role in showing that we are all stardust, also abandoned Darwin. He was well-known for comparing the possibility of the random rise of a single cell to the chance that a tornado hitting a junkyard would produce a 747. He is not an Intelligent Design theorist in the traditional sense. Instead, he believed life came from outer space by way of Panspermia. What will they think of next?
  2. Robert Shapiro likewise abandoned random chance as the source of life as is plain from the first lines of A Simpler Origin of Life.
  3. Stuart Kauffmans work has steadily evolved. His first book The Origins of Order: Self-Organization and Selection in Evolution involves a great deal of Darwinian affirmation while it systematically demolishes any chance for a single cell to have arisen by way of random processes. However, his second book, At Home in the Universe, is much more forthright. In his more recent publication, Reinventing the Sacred,he expresses an admiration for the innate creativity of our universe. Of course his work is not religious; its all very scientific.

In the late 1950s there was a legitimate consensus of most scientists that chance gave rise to life even as Darwins theory predicted. This reinvigorated neo-Darwinism was well represented by scientists such as Jacques Monod, Stanley Miller, and Alexander Oparin. However, in the late 1960s this changed. As 1967 was a social crack in time for America, 1968 cracked the facade of Darwinism. The breakthrough mathematics can be found in the work of Von Neumann, Wigner, and Morowitz. Many others, like Kuppers and Polanyi, corroborated these results. Whats sad is that this was an age ago. Almost two more generations of young people have been indoctrinated into what is, today, plainly junk science about the origin of life.

  1. John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, in Anthropic Cosmological Principle point out 10 steps in the course of human evolution, such as the development of the DNA base genetic code, so improbable that before it could have occurred the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star, and would have incinerated the earth.
  2. Eugene Wigner, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963, calculated the odds of chance giving rise to the first cell at zero! (Paragraph 3). According to Kuppers, Wigner associated himself with a teleological model (p. 80 ), or a belief in an unknown biological principle that differs from the mechanical laws of inanimate matter.
  3. Robert Sauer of MIT reported the odds of a functional series of amino acids arising in several of the 100 known proteins were 1 in 1063. Try the odds of getting a series of these proteins together in self-replicating chains.
  4. Harold Morowitz has also abandoned chance as the reason for the origin of life. He believes that thermo-dynamic energy is stored in chemical bonds of higher and higher complexity. His theory is unproven. Morowitz testified against the Creationists in 1982.
  5. Alexander Cairns-Smiths alternative to Darwinian randomness as the source of life is called the clay theory. It became an allegory for a type of self-organizing process that might have occurred in pre-biotic earth. Though his theory is not widely accepted, since the odds are zero that random chance alone generated a single cell, the search for such a pre-biotic missing link continues.
  6. Hubert P. Yockey in Self organization origin of life scenarios and information theory takes on the self-organizing theories of Shapiro, Kauffman, de Duve, and Prigogine. Although he claims not to be an I.D advocate, his denials (far down this page) are surprisingly supportive.
  7. Leslie Orgel, a classical Darwinist to the end, nevertheless took on a variety of his contemporaries origin of life scenarios such as self-organizing molecules arising through catalytic cycles, the contributions of meteor activity, and that life started on volcanic ocean vents. Orgel also challenged the likelihood of the pre-biotic RNA world suggested by Joyce, Szostak, and Holliger. His conclusion is that the odds against these theories are insurmountable at this time.

All of the above speculative notions arose because the scientific complexity of the cell was nothing Darwinism predicted or could explain. The scientific consensus is that there is no way chance could produce something so complex. There had to be, therefore, additional naturalistic answers. There just had to be. Theyve looked for forty years; so far, nothing. No promised land… nothing. Have we heard about the wandering reductionists plight in our lowly high schools and state colleges? No… mores the pity.

Like Richard Dawkins, though, Orgel would say that based on what we know now there is no chance that a single cell arose by random processes. These scientists have faith in Darwinism. This is why, at its core, the Darwin Theory is a philosophy of science. Will some breakthrough someday show that random chance caused life? That premise is not falsifiable; it is not testable. It is not scientific and cannot be disproved. However, right now the odds that random processes generated even a single living cell are zero. That is the provable, consensus science today.

If random processes cannot produce even a single cell, how much more impossible is it that they produced a daffodil, a dolphin, or a man? Darwinism is dead.

Although a number of microbiologists such as Gerald Joyce, 2009 Nobel Prize winner Jack Szostak, and Philipp Holliger profess to be inspired by Darwins notion of incremental evolution through random chance, their methodology is one of conscious synthesis. On the one hand, they have begun designing RNA molecules in an attempt to construct a series of incremental steps consistent with classical Darwinism. In 2009 Joyces group produced a self-replicating RNA strand, and recently Hollingers group made RNAzymes of 93 bases that self-replicate even more reliably than Joyces. These molecules are enzymatically active. On the other hand, Hollinger confesses the sheer joy of scientific accomplishment in finding their needle in the haystack (paragraph 6) even if by way of synthetic biology (paragraph 7)

Neither lab seems to have shown any interest in developing a statistical analysis of the odds of RNAzyme arising by chance, but, even more instructively, the choice of methodology dismisses any genuine belief in chance as an agent of molecular design. Using highly sophisticated laboratory techniques to develop previously unknown forms of RNA instead of working with billions of unaltered generations of a virus, shows recognition of the odds against chance giving rise to a cell. What is designed by man and what is natural are, almost by definition, distinct. In fact, the use of molecular design shows that intelligent design is one way the first cells could have been formed (Meyer p. 26/63).

Intelligent Design Proponents

  1. Dean H. Kenyon: Now a proponent of Intelligent Design, Kenyon began as a Self-Organization theorist who fell into heretical Creation Science in 1980. However, Kenyons form of Creation Science did not include a young earth or having dinosaurs on Noahs arc.
  2. David Berlinski, philosopher, mathematician and agnostic.
  3. Robert J. Marks, II, set his career at Baylor at Risk for his convictions about Intelligent Design.
  4. Charles Thaxton, like Kenyon, Thaxton felt the need to change the vocabulary of his views to separate himself from some Creationist positions.
  5. William Demski, like Robert Marks, set his career at risk for his convictions about Intelligent Design.
  6. Douglas Axe, followed up Sauers work in greater detail. He estimated 1064 for the possibility of low functioning sequences of amino acids to arise by chance and 1077 as the possibility for a specifically functioning protein to arise. Try the odds of putting together a series of these proteins so as to be self-replicating.
  7. Paul Nelson is a critic of common descent. His critiques involve recent advances in embryology and genetic homology.
  8. Jonathan Wells has demolished another key piece of the Darwin theory in his work with advances in the understanding of genetics and homology.
  9. Michael Behes first book, Darwins Black Box popularized the failure of the Darwin theory to explain the origin of even a single cell. His second book, The Edge of Evolution, represents advances in theIntelligent Design philosophy of science. He delineates what mutation and chance can and cant do along a series of frontiers while expanding what Intelligent Design can and has predicted about natural science.

Here is a list of scientists sympathetic to Intelligent Design from Discovery Institute. It looks like about a thousand names.

Tradition dies hard in every generation. Ignorance is not a lack of information; it is willfully ignoring knowledge. Centralized bureaucratic power breeds fear even in professionals, but tenured teachers can do better. It’s time to tell the kids: it is statistically impossible that Darwin’s explanation of the origin of life is correct.

Update 6-14-2011

I did name Stephen Meyer’s Signature in the Cell as my reference point for “A Scientific Consensus: Darwinism is Dead”; however, because the many posts below refer to me and my views, I want to revisit the credit due Dr. Meyer. Stephen Meyer’s work led me to almost all of the scientists I’ve listed above. I simply checked Dr. Meyer’s sources and documented them, as well as I could, in an online environment.   

I will take the heat for considering the list a scientific consensus. Dr. Meyer is simply referring to the work of others to augment studies of his own.

Libertarian Update 6-14-2011

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, apparently, “A Scientific Consensus: Darwinism is Dead” contains views not incompatible with the views of Ron Paul himself. See Ron Paul UTube video linked here:

[link edited for length]

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  1. THEMAYAN says

    One scientist on your list once told me, “scientist don’t change their minds. They just die” All new theories that challenged old entrenched ideas are met with scorn. And intelligent design is no different. In fact, because of the religious and political “implications” (and I stress the word implications) It is even more a hot potato than most other new theories.

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