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.

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About whyimconservative

I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with a Biochemistry degree living in Austin. I love my kids, my husband and my country. I want to explain why I'm conservative.

Posted on June 10, 2011, in Evolution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Why must creationism and evolution be mutually exclusive? Can one rationally believe that God created all organisms, and these over time evolve/ I do not see the problem here. I buy into almost every evolutionary biology article I have read. I am also down with other scientific theories, such as Newton’s theory of gravity and motion (yes, I know some call them “laws”). After learning about LaGrangian circular motion and other related problem sets, I decided that science is not for me, but I still buy into evolution. I believe Darwin’s basic premise that minor changes often lead to significant advantages after generations of reproduction. I believe that these changes very well may be guided by a higher power. Why is this wrong?

    The creationist literature I read strikes me as foolish. Perhaps I am simply not familiar with the good stuff, but I believe that small changes between generations do often provide advantages that result in changes to species. Why is my view incorrect?

    • I don’t think they have to be exclusive. It’s groups like the ACLU that want to exclude every reference to any possibility other than evolution. As for acceptance of evolution? It’s basically the origin of life that’s a stumbling block for evolutionary theory. It couldn’t have occurred on its own. Evolution is not a sufficient theory to explain how life began.

      • The conclusion that I can draw as a believer in Amighty God, the Creator of the Universe and the Bible as His word is this….. we are the “clay” and the “potter” gives us all the information we need to know in His word. To question and doubt is saying that we don’t need Him and that we could do a better job ourselves basically about everything.

  2. I do love the “just a theory” argument, it is true that evolution is just a theory much like the theory of relativity or gravity. All three of those ideas are “just theories”

    • Why yes, Gravity is a theory/concept/idea as is relativity. Last time I checked we’re still testing those regularly to try and make sure they count in all instances. When we stop testing we start “assuming.” So why should we not question evolution?

  3. The first time I heard about ‘panspermia’ was in my final-year biology class in high school; our teacher mentioned it as an alternative theory to Darwinian evolution, supposing perhaps that – since he was honest enough to acknowledge that Darwinism is an as-yet-unproven theory – it would be a good idea to propose an alternative. (Just don’t let that alternative be intelligent design!)

    He explained, as you have here, that the theory posits that life arose on Earth after the “seeds” were deposited here, having originated somewhere else.

    I raised my hand: “So how, then, did the life ‘out there’ originate from non-life? All that theory does is push the problem off of our planet and onto another one.” Blank stare from the teacher.

    Panspermia can offer a theoretical answer to how life *on Earth* originated, but cannot answer how life originated *to begin with*. It solves nothing, and adds a new variable to the equation: “What are the odds that these seeds of life drifting through the galaxy will encounter a planet suitable to sustain and grow these seeds?” (Someone break out the Drake Equation…)

  4. Tom,
    I’m guessing you’re either lying about the story or your teacher was horribly misinformed. Panspermia and evolution have nothing in common. It doesn’t matter how life first came about on earth, evolution via common descent remains the best explanation for the diversity of life on earth. That is all evolution cares about.

    You also make the same error the author of the blog makes by using the “just a theory” sentiment. In science, the highest “status” than an explanation for observed phenomena is a theory. The existence of gravity, the idea that germs cause disease, that atoms are made up of what we think they are made up of, these are all scientific theories. This is not to be confused with the layperson’s definition of “theory”, which would be something like a conjecture or hypothesis.

    You got “blank stares” because he doesn’t know, and we may not end up knowing, but at least he didn’t lie to you or misdirect you in to thinking that an intrinsically non-scientific explanation was regarded as being credible or useful to the overwhelming majority of the relevant scientific community (read: >98%).

    Panspermia could indeed explain how life arose on earth, which would be one big step in to understanding how life in general began.

    Lastly, you reference to the Drake Equation reflects my overall disappointment with science education. The Drake Equation is not science; practically every variable is a complete conjecture. When it was first created, it was a way to organize a handful of the variables regarding contact with alien life. Think of it as a “Hard Work = Proficiency x Motivation” sort of “equation”.

  5. Wow. I register for this blog so I can make a comment, and the very first thing anyone says to me is to accuse me of lying. Thank you; I feel so welcome here now…

    Is it such a leap of imagination that a public school teacher could be misinformed? When you look at how evolution is taught at the high school level, it bears no resemblance to the PhD-level studies of biochemistry, anthropology, and geology that form the actual underpinnings of Darwinism. High school evolution is so oversimplified that it’s actually a joke.

    When I refer to macroevolution as a “theory”, I (as a layperson) am using that word to represent the fact that we have never been able to observe it or test it in a laboratory (or in the “outside” world, for that matter), nor have geneticists manipulating genes been able to cause it to occur at a macro level. Gravity, on the other hand, can be measured and tested; the effects of germs and viruses can be observed. While these may still only be theories under the strictest of definitions, I doubt you could locate too many adult laypersons who would dispute the statement that gravity is a “fact” rather than a scientific theory.

    Lastly, I never said the Drake Equation was science; I’m not sure where in my six-word parenthetical you divined that suggestion. Indeed, it has been said that the Drake Equation tells you more about the person inputting the values than it does about the number of civilizations in the galaxy. When I said “break out the Drake Equation”, it was a follow-on to my question, “What are the odds that these seeds of life drifting through the galaxy will encounter a planet suitable to sustain and grow these seeds?” The first three variables in the Drake Equation – annual rate of star formation, ratio of stars that develop planetary systems, and ratio of planets suitable for life – address (but do not answer) the question of how many planets in the galaxy are capable of sustaining life.

    • I’m sorry about that; I don’t want you to feel unwelcome. If it is any consolation, pretty much every time I post I have a Biochem degree I’m accused of lying (or told to get a refund). I think evolutionists can’t stand the thought of someone with a real science background not buying into their beliefs. Theories mean they aren’t proven. I’ve never heard gravity called a theory. Things that are proven are principles.

      The Panspermia theory is just a cop-out. Evolutionists (who understand anything about microbiology) know that there is no explanation for the beginning of life, so they pretend that step doesn’t matter and just focus on the other things they think are more likely could happen. It has always been amusing to me that they accuse anyone who doesn’t buy into Evolution 100% of being motivated by religion. The only conclusion I make here is that Evolution is a shaky theory. It is not being taught as such. It has a lot of holes and leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and I think that’s how it should be taught. Instead, even though they know there are problems with it, they insist on it being taught as fact and insult anyone who disagrees. The only reason for this is because the real answer is so very complicated that right now all the alternative theories involve God or aliens. I’m rather apathetic about the ‘real’ answer. I have studied Biochemistry and Physics in a depth that suggests to me that evolution, as taught to high school students, is very misleading. I think that needs to change.

      • You are making claims about your formal education that your posts don’t really support. You could tell me that you have an advanced degree in quantum mechanics, therefore, witchcraft is simply quantum mechanics being controlled by a person. None of it makes any sense and your repeated demonstration that you don’t know what words mean in proper context and that you aren’t aware of the well-established responses to anti-science rhetoric only detracts from your credibility.

        Again, you expose to the world your ignorance and lack of use of the appropriate vocabulary within the appropriate context. I already explained the difference between theories and laws, and explained that they address two different things.

        Laws, in the event that my my other post was somehow hidden from you, are descriptions of observed phenomena. Laws of motion describe how objects move, laws of gravity describe the forces involved.

        Theories are explanations for the observed phenomena. They are made up of laws, are testable and falsifiable, and are always flexible to account for new data. If you’ve never heard gravity referred to as a theory, perhaps your independent study in Physics was as deep as your comprehension of the relevant vocabulary. Have you ever wondered why there is no Unifying Theory? It is because the current models (theories) of gravity do not account for things on a quantum level, hence all of the experiments done at large particle colliders (among others).

        Panspermia DOES NOT have anything to do with the diversity of life on earth. It does not address anything that evolution attempts to explain. You could pull out any reference to how life first began and evolution via common descent would be just as powerful and reliable as it is now.

        You claim that evolution is “shaky theory”, meanwhile, there are more people named “Steve” who are authorities in the relevant fields who accept that evolution is the single most powerful explanation for the diversity of life on earth, than there are people in total who disagree. Literally hundreds of papers are published every week about evolution and how it continues to be powerful and reliable. This is compared to the meager handful (if any) articles published to sources such as Creationist magazines which add no useful information in the scientific quest for knowledge and understanding.

        Again, you seem to be bent out of shape that evolution is full of holes, yet you only seem to attack abiogenesis. Evolution has NOTHING to do with the origins of life and makes no attempt to answer such a question. It does not care if aliens dropped off a basket of bacteria and hoped for the best, or if a cosmic bearded man dropped it off, or if life arose via natural means as explained at http://tinyurl.com/3qdnz5r or perhaps a source not yet identified or thought of yet. No matter the source, evolution via common descent remains the single most powerful and reliable explanation for the diversity of life on earth, and to refute it requires a response on a practically global scale.

      • Perhaps you could state your credentials, so we can all decide for ourselves if you are in a position to judge that my posts don’t support the education I claim to have. Where do you think new traits come from? They randomly develop, right? Appear in the offspring of some organism, and if it’s a good trait it lives to reproduce. Where, exactly, do new traits come from? They are a results of proteins, in each individual cell, building and creating the entire organism. Proteins do everything in an organism. Organisms don’t change unless new proteins appear and start doing things differently. I described, thoroughly, how proteins are formed. You are welcome to believe that you are correct and I am ill-informed. But nothing you say invalidates any of my conclusions.

  6. If the teacher was misinformed (read: disturbingly incompetent as a school teacher), why would your anecdote mean anything?

    Of course highschool biology classes aren’t in depth, there simply isn’t enough time and resources to delve in, run expensive lab lessons, and getting students to be interested in the topic enough to warrant putting resources into the class is difficult as it is.

    Also, “Darwinism” isn’t so much of a word, let alone something regarded as science. Evolution has changed substantially since Darwin’s time; he’d hardly recognize his model. Calling evolution Darwinism is, among other things, pretty disingenuous.

    But what you call “macroevolution” has been demonstrated, and the archives at talk.origins do a pretty good job at organizing it – http://tinyurl.com/4bl3d as well as the rest of that site covers the topic in pretty substantial depth while managing to be considerably approachable. Your discernment from germ theory or the theory of gravity from evolutionary theory is fabricated.

    To summarize the point about the Drake Equation, it is useless in astrobiology. Regarding the “seeds”, the seeds could be plentiful enough to attempt to seed a variety of planets and flourishing on planets where conditions are appropriate. Determining the odds for such a thing is useless.

    As a side note, it is worth mentioning that ID isn’t allowed in classrooms because it was, quite literally, creationism wearing a mask. See the origin of the phrase “cdesign proponentsists” (as well as the story behind Kitzmiller v Dover) for a full explanation for why ID is not allowed to be taught in schools. A quick summary: The creationist book “Of Pandas and People” initially used the terms “creation” and “creationists”, with apparently a search-and-replace run on the text of the book shifting “creationists” to “design proponents”.

  7. I am a college graduate in mechanical engineering and just reading the posts from people like this Jason fellow is pathetic. I am sure glad he was not my teacher or professor. Good thing that in engineering I avoided people like this. If I did this as student in my classes I would have failed.

    Jason said this:
    Again, you seem to be bent out of shape that evolution is full of holes, yet you only seem to attack abiogenesis. Evolution has NOTHING to do with the origins of life and makes no attempt to answer such a question.

    If evolution has no answers and cannot answer the origins of life then it has no creditability. Imagine if in my machinists class I tried to tell my professor that this CNC program has nothing to do with how we designed the piece in the process. I would fail.
    Get it. It is because evolution was unable to answer the origins of life is why it is the useless piece of crap it is. At least creationism answers this. If evolution makes no attempt to answer this question then it is a lie taught to us.

    Jason also said this:

    it is worth mentioning that ID isn’t allowed in classrooms because it was, quite literally, creationism wearing a mask.

    So because it may be right it has to be discarded. Here is how intelligent design works. I am typing this on a computer. I can either believe that my compute evolved or some intelligent designer a human created it. I believe in the latter and that is why I accept intelligent design. It is the only plausable explanation of why we are here.

    • JN – I like all of your comments. I don’t know if I’ve said it; whenever I’m reading your comments I look for a ‘like’ button, and when I can’t find one I move on. But I wanted to let you know they are read and appreciated. (Sometimes I get tired of responding to ridiculous comments that make no point and are already completely refuted by my article, so it’s nice to have someone else get on and say, “Stop being dumb,” for me.)

  8. Thank you for the response. Your article really refutes evolution and I use it in future arguments. I understand what you mean by the ridiculous comments. I was commenting on the marriage and homosexuality articles and had this guy immediately respond within hours to all of my comments.
    He never addressed the issues and just mentioned the same old tired worn out arguments while ignoring all of the issues we raised. I finally stopped responding to him as it is not vital for me to get in the last word but to win the argument.

    • I know, I gave up too. There’s not much else to do when they just blatantly deny things that have happened. He seems to think his movement is winning, when 32 states have outlawed gay marriage.
      I’m pretty proud of my evolution posts 🙂 It’s funny how riled up people get about it, when my conclusion is simply that it shouldn’t be presented as indisputable fact. ‘The debate is over’ only when people are trying to hide something. Overall, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog.

      • Thanks for the warm response. I will reiterate that your evolution article is one of the best ever and I have downloaded it and used it in debates. They really have no answer when it comes to the micro-biology. Just like in marriage corruption we see that Satan is alive and well.
        I am with you in debating that RJ idiot on marriage he just ignores your points and spouts the same old tired lies. He does the same thing on the NOM blog. I stopped not because I gave up but because I had won and I feel anyone reading the comments would have seen that. I do not have an ego so I do not need to get in the last word.

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