Who ‘believes’ in Evolution? – Evolution (Part 2)
Because the theory of evolution is just a theory, no one knows what it may have been like when the first cells were developed. One theory is that amino acids were formed, they formed into proteins, which eventually built a one celled organism. Another theory is that self-replicating RNA was the first thing created, and it continued dividing and eventually created a one-celled organism. The one celled organisms became multi-celled organisms, and continued developing. I’m just trying to explain the complexity of the very first step. In order for a protein to build a cell wall, it needs to be a protein that can build a cell wall. There also need to be many proteins. Proteins that build the lipids the cell wall is made of. Proteins that transport the lipids. Proteins that bind the lipids. Proteins are needed to build other proteins. And to be any kind of efficient, there should be dozens, if not hundreds, of copies of each of these proteins. One of each required could theoretically build a cell, but it would take a long, long time. In reality, the proteins would probably denature (die) before they got anywhere near finishing an entire cell wall. Not to mention, once you have a cell wall, you need a system to keep the cell alive. I don’t know exactly what the theory is on how it started, but either the couple of dozen specific proteins needed to build a cell wall all happened to be in the same puddle at the same time, or there was a DNA strand that happened to give the directions for building cell walls with a protein that happened to be able to read DNA, and then proteins that could build the proteins the DNA coded for. If neither of these things happened, cells could not have naturally evolved. Remember that my example was one protein, not a thousand different kinds that would have been needed to work together to build a simple cell.
This has been a very rough description of the process. There are many other factors involved. For example, amino acids are most likely to fold into the lowest energy state, so there are shapes that are more likely than others, giving many shapes a non-zero probability. Some amino acids are attracted to each other, so they will be more likely to bond, making some shapes more probable. Imagine that on your pearl necklace several of the pearls are magnetic; when you clump the necklace, those pearls will likely end up next to each other. There are also some amino acids that could replace each other without changing the function of the protein. When Levinthal calculated how long it would take proteins to randomly fold into every conformation, what he proved is that proteins follow a pathway for folding. Basically, when a new protein is built, it automatically, almost instantaneously, folds into the correct shape for its function. Which is good for life, but bad for evolutionary theory. The theory of evolution is based on random events resulting in life. We’ve gone over the odds of randomly creating a protein with the correct amino acid sequence, and the numbers involved in that protein randomly taking a specific shape. What are the odds that this randomly created protein would automatically fold into the perfect shape for performing its function? If it happened through evolution wouldn’t it randomly shift through at least a few shapes before settling into the one shape that happens to be productive?
That is just the beginning. The first step, I think, would be the hardest. But it is still pretty complicated after that. If the proceeding scenario happened, we would have a single, simple cell membrane. The cell would have a membrane wall, but nothing else. There wouldn’t be any way for it to move. There wouldn’t be any way for it to take in food. There wouldn’t be any way for it to reproduce. It wouldn’t have any of the traits a living organism has. Each of those traits would require dozens of additional proteins, each of those proteins having, at best, a 1/2.91e67 chance of being the correct amino acid sequence, and another 1/∞ chance of being in the right shape to perform the appropriate function. Later steps are more complicated.
Why do so many people believe in evolution? Evolution takes place at a molecular level. When something is born with a mutation it wasn’t something that just happened; the DNA was mutated; it was either misread, or mistranslated, or a piece of it got lost, or an extra piece was inserted, so that when the proteins read the DNA they got different information than normal. This would result in the proteins maybe creating extra proteins that do something different to the body, or it might give different instructions so the proteins build something differently or don’t build something they are supposed to. If someone is born with a mutation it is the result of a very complicated process. However, I don’t know of any high school that teaches its students Biochemistry or Molecular Biology when they are teaching evolution. What I was taught involved lots of pictures of skulls of different shapes, or a line of horses that looked a little different from each other. There wasn’t any explanation of how it happened, everything was explained using the word ‘mutation’. Now that I’ve studied ‘mutations’ at a molecular level, now that I’ve studied cells, DNA and protein and a molecular level, I’ve come to the conclusion that evolution is not a feasible explanation.
Guess what; most people don’t study biology at a molecular level. So they have no way of knowing how complicated of a process it actually is.
Like I said, many people just take for granted that evolution is the correct theory. Usually their explanation is that 95% of scientists believe in evolution. So, let’s examine that. There was a Gallup poll in 1997 that asked ‘scientists’ if they believed in creationism (God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years), theistic evolution (Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process, including man’s creation) or naturalistic evolution (Man has developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life. God had no part in this process). 5% believed in creationism, 40% believe in theistic evolution (or ‘intelligent design’), and 55% believe in naturalistic evolution.
‘Scientists’ is a very broad category. It includes Biologists, Chemists, Physicists, Geologists, Botanists, Astronomers and many other fields that have little to do with the science of life. 55% of the scientists polled believe that evolution occurred as I described above, which is the method taught to every high school student in America. 45% believe in some other method.
I found the following quote online in an article attempting to discredit scientists who don’t believe in evolution;
Of the scientists and engineers in the United States, only about 5% are creationists, according to a 1991 Gallup poll (Robinson 1995, Witham 1997). However, this number includes those working in fields not related to life origins (such as computer scientists, mechanical engineers, etc.). Taking into account only those working in the relevant fields of earth and life sciences, there are about 480,000 scientists, but only about 700 believe in “creation-science” or consider it a valid theory (Robinson 1995). This means that less than 0.15 percent of relevant scientists believe in creationism. And that is just in the United States, which has more creationists than any other industrialized country. In other countries, the number of relevant scientists who accept creationism drops to less than one tenth of 1 percent.1
They decided to only trust the opinions of those who study ‘earth and life sciences’. Topics included in these fields are Geodynamics, Biodiversity, Development Biology, Systems Biology, Botany, Zoology, Microbiology, Moleucular Biology, Cellular Biology, Physiology, Ecology, Geography, Geology, Geophysics and Geodesy. Of those only a few get into the complexities of living organisms on a molecular level, and this grouping doesn’t include any of the chemistries that deal with life.
Others argue that virtually all Evolutionary Biologists believe in Evolution. I think this is an amusing argument for accepting Evolution as an indisputable theory. After all, there are many branches of medicine and science that are disputed. For example; is Chiropractics a legitimate form of medical treatment? You can go to colleges all over the country and become a licensed chiropractor. You need an undergraduate degree, then four additional years of study to obtain a Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. Many people use chiropractic treatments when they are sick or injured. Some people use it to treat headaches. Some people are quite certain that it effects their digestive system. I have even heard that children who use Chiropractics their whole lives grow up beautiful. It could make sense; all the nerves in the body run through the spine, so if the spine is always in top condition none of the nerves will be pinched or bent, and you could conclude that it will help everything in the body work more smoothly. On the other hand, pinched or bent nerves could result in headaches or nausea. I think the ‘beautiful’ thing relates to the belief that symmetry is typically beautiful. However, there are some doctors that think Chiropractics is a ludicrous field, with no scientific substantiating evidence that it works. But I would venture a guess that virtually all chiropractors believe their field of medicine is effective.
For these reasons I think that simply polling scientists, especially focusing on evolutionary biologists, in order to come to a conclusion on evolution is not the best course.
My problem with evolution is mainly with the lack of explanation for the origin of life. There have been experiments done, and there has been a lot of emperical evidence collected which supports parts of the theory of evolution. However, there is still a vast amount of information missing. Once there were plants and animals on earth, it is slightly more acceptable (from a biochemical perspective) that they could have evolved into later life forms. It is still intensely complicated, but the most complicated step would be the very first one. That is why panspermia is also a theory. This theory hypothesizes that the ‘seeds of life’ (proteins, DNA, RNA, or single celled organisms) did not originate on earth, but were transported here from somewhere else. It is a less well known theory, but it is a theory accepted by a few who have actually studied biology at a molecular/atomic level. For example; Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, a molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist. Having done the research that led to discovering the structure of DNA, he knew a bit about the complexity of biological systems, and he came to the conclusion that it was too complicated to have evolved on its own. Another less well known scientist is Richard Dawkins, a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and very public author in support of evolution. Being an evolutionary biologist, he believes in evolution, but has no better explanation for the origins of life than panspermia.
Most scientists get around this by simply saying it doesn’t matter. They don’t know how it started, but evolution makes enough sense that they just buy the whole thing. That is a reasonable perspective to take, if examining the first step might illegitimate all subsequent steps. My perspective is that the first step is a fairly important one. If the first step of evolution had zero probability of occurring, then maybe we should be a little more open minded about other theories.
I think that is pretty much my conclusion. America, especially its schools, needs to be more open minded about evolution. There is plenty of evidence that evolution has taken place. There is also quite a bit of evidence that it hasn’t. I’ve only given my scientific opinion; that the biochemical complexity of proteins and DNA render evolution from amino acids impossible. I think there is enough evidence casting doubt on evolution that it shouldn’t be taught as fact in the schools. I have one example of what I mean; it involves a school in Cobb County, Georgia. In 2002 the school district started placing stickers in the front of their Biology textbooks. The stickers read:
“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”
Several parents, along with the ACLU, sued the school, and in 2005 the Atlanta Division District Court ruled that the stickers were an unconstitutional endorsement of religion. This is the standard for schools all over America; teach evolution as the only explanation for life on earth, and if you so much as suggest that there may be another explanation you can expect to be sued. This is wrong.