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Monday, February 26, 2007

Cell Nuclei: Anything but Random

by Caleb Colley, B.A., B.S.


At the heart of biological evolutionary theory is randomness. Evolutionists claim that the human body is the result of random mutations prompted by natural selection. According to the University of California at Berkeley, “The mechanisms of evolution—like natural selection and genetic drift—work with the random variation generated by mutation” (“Mutations...,” n.d.).

However essential a pillar of evolution the random may be, it is antithetical to what we actually observe in nature, even in the basic unit of all living matter—the cell (Aw, 1982, p. 127). New research suggests that the nucleus of a mammal cell is made up of component parts arranged in a pattern which can be predicted statistically (“Scientists Prove...,” 2006). Systems biologists worked with mathematicians to identify, for the first time, “spatial relationships” governing the distribution of an important control protein in the nucleus, in relation to other components within the nuclei of mammal cells (“Scientists Prove...,” 2006).

The study, published in PLoS Computational Biology, reports that, “[i]t is becoming increasingly clear that nuclear macromolecules and macromolecular complexes are compartmentalized through binding interaction into an apparent three-dimensionally ordered structure” (McManus, et al., 2006). The widespread protein CBP acts on certain genes within the cell nucleus, causing them to make specific proteins at different times throughout the life of the cell (“Scientists Prove...”). The scientists developed a probability map for the nucleus and determined that CBP pockets are more likely to be located closest to the gene regions with which they are known to modify (“Scientists Prove...”).

Also, scientists at Purdue University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a technique that automatically locates and maps proteins involved in regulated cell behavior (“New Cell Imaging...,” 2006, p. 46). This allows the cancer researcher, for example, to verify the distinction between multiplying cells that are harmless and those that are malignant (4:46).

Perhaps these new advances constitute substantial progress in scientific examination of cellular life, but they certainly are not the first observations of incredibly sophisticated organization in the cell. Indeed, to observe cells at all is to observe strict organization in the human body itself, for the body is composed in a hierarchy of organs, tissues, and cells. And while it may be very useful to try to put things such as DNA and proteins in the perspective of a cell, “the amazing beauty and complexity of a cell is not always easy to grasp because of the very small sizes involved.... Cells have typical radius [sic] of 10 to 30 microns” (one micron equals a millionth of a meter; Baldi, 2001, p., 22).

Cellular divisions of organic matter were identified and given the name “cells” as long ago as 1663 by the English scientist Robert Hooke (Pfeiffer, 1964, p. 9). Although some 17th-century scientists realized how ridiculous it would be to suggest that something as obviously structured as a human body was composed of randomly assembled components, they did not understand fully the complexity of the cell. Ernst Haeckel, the famed proponent of embryonic recapitulation, contended even in 1877: “the cell consists of matter called protoplasm, composed chiefly of carbon, with an admixture of hydrogen, nitrogen and sulphur. These component parts, properly united, produce the soul and body of the animated world, and suitably nursed become man” (as quoted in Eiseley, 1961, p. 346).

By the mid-20th century, technology had opened the eyes of scientists to a deepened examination of the cell’s inner workings:

The microscopic blob of jelly called the cell is a remarkable entity. The most remarkable thing about it is the very fact that it is alive—not with a murky primordial glow, but as fully and vibrantly alive as a tiger or an oak tree. In a remarkable miniaturization of life’s functions, the cell moves, grows, reacts, protects itself and even reproduces. To sustain this varied existence, it utilizes a tightly organized system of parts that is much like a tiny industrial complex. It has a central control point, power plants, internal communications, construction and manufacturing elements (Pfeiffer, 1964, p. 16).

Reports of cellular organization do not surprise creationists, who understand that each cell is built according to fundamental design principles. Considering that even the most minute cell is capable of the five activities of life (metabolism, growth, reproduction, responsiveness, and autonomous movement), it only makes sense that the “brain” of the cell—the nucleus—is organized in a recognizable pattern.

In their cytology textbook, Cell Biology, Roberts, Nowinski, and Saez wrote: “[I]t has been demonstrated that beyond the organization visible with the light microscope are a number of more elementary structures at the macromolecular level that constitute the ‘ultrastructure’ of the cell. We find ourselves in the era of molecular biology...” (1970, p. 3). That was 1970, a few years after the advent of the electron microscope, which made it possible to study intracellular structures and their interrelationship. Scientists consistently have found that different parts of the cell relate to each other. Baldi wrote that the cell structure could be illustrated by a football stadium:

In the stadium, proteins come in many shapes and sizes, but typically have the dimensions of a tennis ball.... [P]roteins are extremely busy in the stadium as they continually bind and interact with each other.... Somehow proteins must find their way to the region of their activity: the football field (nucleus), the rest of the stadium (cytoplasm), the wall around the stadium (membrane), or even the external world in the case of secreted proteins. They are what keeps the stadium functioning, by generating energy, removing waste, exchanging food and other signals with the external world, producing other tennis balls, fighting enemies, and so on.... From time to time, proteins take care of the very complex events by which an entire stadium is precisely duplicated into two stadiums... (2001, pp. 23-24).

Evolutionists believe that the first living cell appeared 3.5 billion years ago and gradually increased in sophistication and organization (Baldi, 2001, p. 25). How and why did it appear? Is it reasonable to assume that the original nucleus, in all its complexity and organization, simply came together for no apparent reason, and then summoned the remaining cellular parts to join in the fight for existence? Is the origin of the cell explicable on strictly natural bases?

Such is illogical for several reasons, not the least of which is the existence of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and its vital role in the nucleus and in the life of the cell. The DNA is a supermodule that carries the coded information for the replication of the cell. It stores coded information in a chemical format and then uses a biologic agent (RNA) to decode and activate it. As Darrel Kautz has stated: “Human technology has not yet advanced to the point of storing information chemically as it is in the DNA module” (1988, p. 45, emp. in orig.; see also Jackson, 1993, pp. 11-12). The DNA regulates life and directs its synthesis (see Thompson, 2003, pp. 78-86).

The DNA, all within the nucleus, stores a tremendous amount of information. If transcribed into English, the DNA in the human genome would fill a 300-volume set of encyclopedias of approximately 2,000 pages each (Baldi, 2001, p. 21). As Jackson concluded, “a programmed message is not self-explanatory in terms of its origin. One must assume that someone wrote the initial program. A program does not write itself! Similarly, it is obvious that someone has programmed the data in the DNA” (1993, p. 11). The cell, with its complex nucleus, could not have developed accidentally.

Furthermore, consider cellular reproduction and the important role of DNA in the process. In mitosis, cell division is “a mathematically precise doubling of the chromosomes and their genes. The two chromosome sets so produced then become separated and become part of two newly formed nuclei” so that “the net result of cell division is the formation of two cells that match each other and the parent cell precisely in their gene contents and that contain approximately equal amounts and types of all other components” (Weisz and Keogh, 1977, pp. 322,325).

We demonstrated that the cell could not have developed accidentally. For the sake of argument, however, suppose that a single cell did “appear.” What then? Evolutionists are burdened to explain how and why the first living cell, 3.5 billion years ago, would have perceived a need to divide itself and reproduce. Evolution quickly becomes a logistical conundrum.

CONCLUSION
For purposes of research and experimentation, scientists depend on regular patterns at the cellular level. Such is possible only because cells exhibit precise organization. To believe evolution is to believe that the random gave rise to the organized by accident. Such a position is increasingly recognized as irrational in the presence of cellular organization. Sir Fred Hoyle, a prominent British scientist, has argued that the chance of higher life-forms emerging accidentally is comparable to the chance that a Boeing 747 jet could be assembled by a tornado sweeping through a junkyard (1981, 294:105). Thankfully, we have a more sensible explanation: “It is He Who has made us” (Psalm 100:3). God designed the eukaryotic human cell and its nucleus!

REFERENCES
Aw, S.E. (1982), Chemical Evolution: An Examination of Current Ideas (San Diego, CA: Master).

Baldi, Pierre (2001), The Shattered Self (Cambridge, MA: MIT).

Eiseley, Loren C. (1961), Darwin’s Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It (Garden City, NY: Anchor).

Hoyle, Fred (1981), “Hoyle on Evolution,” Nature, 294:105, November 12.

Jackson, Wayne (1993), The Human Body—Accident or Design? (Stockton, CA: Courier).

Kautz, Darrel (1988), The Origin of Living Things (Milwaukee, WI: Darrel Kautz).

McManus, Kirk J., et al. “The Transcriptional Regulator CBP Has Defined Spatial Associations with Interphase Nuclei” (2006), PLoS Computational Biology, [On-line], URL: http://compbiol.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/ journal.pcbi.0020139.

“Mutations are Random” (no date), University of California at Berkeley, [On-line], URL: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIIC1aRandom.shtml.

“New Cell Imaging Method Identifies Aggressive Cancer Cells Early” (2006), Bioscience Technology, 4:46-47, April.

Pfeiffer, John (1964), The Cell (New York: Time).

Roberts, E.D.P., Wiktor W. Nowinski, and Francisco A. Saez (1970), Cell Biology (Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders).

“Scientists Prove that Parts of Cell Nuclei are Not Arranged at Random” (2006), Imperial College London, [On-line], URL: http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/ news_20-10-2006-8-43-24.

Thompson, Bert (2003), The Case for the Existence of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Weisz, Paul B. and Richard N. Keogh (1977), Elements of Biology (New York: McGraw-Hill).





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We are happy to grant permission for items in the "Sensible Science" section to be reproduced in their entirety, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) the author’s name must remain attached to the materials; (4) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (5) alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, quotations, etc. must be reproduced exactly as they appear in the original); (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken.

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Old Paths can be the best.

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

(Jeremiah 6:16)

The Signature of Jesus

The following note was found in the office of a young man in Zimbabwe, Africa, following his martyrdom for his faith in Jesus Christ.

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit's power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.

I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colourless dreams, chained visions, worldly talking, cheap living, and warped goals.

I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognised, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labour with power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought. compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy. pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have prayed up and paid up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me. And when He comes for his own, He will have no trouble recongnizing me because by banner will have been clear.*


*Found in The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning. Multnomah (1992) Edition: Reprint, Paperback. ISBN 0880704799

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is Creation "Scientific"

The idea often is presented that the creation of the Universe is not “scientific” because a supernatural Creator cannot be tested using present scientific instruments and procedures. Eugenie Scott, the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education, avid proponent of evolution and outspoken opponent of creation, has expressed precisely such sentiments: “The ultimate statement of creationism—that the present universe came about as the result of the action or actions of a divine Creator—is thus outside the abilities of science to test” (2004, p. 19). Presumably, because God cannot be “controlled” in an experiment, and because He is a supernatural, non-physical Being, then any information that involves such a God cannot be deemed “scientific.”
It is interesting to note, however, that Scott makes some very pertinent admissions when it comes to the ways in which scientists gather data and formulate their theories. In her discussion of data collection, she noted that some scientific data are gathered from indirect observation. She stated:
In some fields, not only is it impossible to directly control the variables, but the phenomena themselves may not be directly observable. A research design known as indirect experimentation is often utilized in such fields. Explanations can be tested even if the phenomena being studied are too far away, too small, or too far back in time to be observed directly. For example, giant planets recently have been discovered orbiting distant stars—though we cannot directly observe them (2004, p. 6, emp. added, italics in orig.).
She proceeded to suggest that because we know that large planets would have quite a large gravitational pull, and because we see the distant stars “wobble” like they have been pulled by planet gravitation, then we can know that “these planetary giants do exist,” and even estimate their sizes.
Let us, then, analyze what Ms. Scott is suggesting: (1) there are some things in this world that we cannot observe directly; (2) we cannot do tests or experiments on the actual object; (3) nor can we see, taste, hear, smell, or touch them. But we can know that they exist due to the fact that we can see their effects on things.
One reason Scott is forced to admit the legitimacy of indirect observation is the fact that evolution cannot be tested directly. She admits: “Indeed, no paleontologist has ever observed one species evolving into another, but as we have seen, a theory can be scientific even if its phenomena are not directly observable” (2004, p. 14). According to Scott, we cannot observe evolution in action, per se, but we can look at the effects it has left in the fossil record and other areas and call it a “scientific” discipline.
It may come as quite a surprise to the reader that Ms. Scott’s explanation of indirect experimentation is almost identical to the evidence given by the apostle Paul for the existence of an omnipotent Creator: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Paul was simply saying that the general population cannot directly observe the Creator, and yet the effects the Creator causes in this observable Universe are so directly tied to His omnipotent abilities that those who refuse to recognize His existence are without excuse.
Can we look into this Universe and see complex biological machinery that demands a superintending mind? Yes. Can we look at the qualities of matter and energy in relationship to the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics and know that matter cannot be eternal and must have had a starting point? Absolutely. Is it possible to locate irreducibly complex systems in nature that could not have evolved, but must have been designed by an Intelligence that far surpasses any and all human intelligence? Certainly. Then just as surely as Ms. Scott recognizes that much scientific data comes from indirect observation, a rational thinker must admit the legitimacy of obtaining information about the Creator in the same way.
If we can look at phenomena that we know must be caused by a mind, such as computers, cars, and houses, then we can study the characteristics that show they were caused by a mind and look for those same characteristics in nature. When we do, we find abundant evidence that a Mind must have been involved in the Universe to bring about the physical effects that we observe directly. In truth, Creation is the only rational, scientific explanation for the material Universe.
REFERENCES
Scott, Eugenie (2004), Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press).
Copyright © 2007 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

God is always there for you!

HE WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU

The following touching story comes from the book, "Chicken Soup For the Soul":

In 1989, an earthquake almost flattened Armenia. This deadly tremor killed over 30,000 people in less than four minutes. In the midst of all the confusion of the earthquake, a father rushed to his son's school. When he arrived there he discovered the building was flat as a pancake.

Standing there looking at what was left of the school, the father remembered a promise he made to his son, "No matter what, I'll always be there for you!" Tears began to fill his eyes. It looked like a hopeless situation, but he could not take his mind off his promise.

Remembering that his son's classroom was in the back right corner of the building, the father rushed there and started digging through the rubble. As he was digging other grieving parents arrived, clutching their hearts, saying: "My son! "My daughter!" They tried to pull him off of what was left of the school saying: "It's too late!" "They're dead!" "You can't help!" "Go home!" Even a police officer and a fire fighter told him he should go home. To everyone who tried to stop him he said, "Are you going to help me now?" They did not answer him and he continued digging for his son stone by stone.

He needed to know for himself: "Is my boy alive or is he dead?" This man dug for eight hours and then twelve and then twenty-four and then thirty-six. Finally in the thirty-eighth hour, as he pulled back a boulder, he heard his son's voice. He screamed his son's name, "ARMAND!" and a voice answered him, "Dad? It's me, Dad!" Then the boy added these priceless words, "I told the other kids not to worry. I told 'em that if you were alive, you'd save me and when you saved me, they'd be saved. You promised that, Dad. 'No matter what,' you said, 'I'll always be there for you!' And here you are Dad. You kept your promise!"

What a beautiful illustration of the promise that God has made to us. "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'' (Heb. 13:5).

That is a promise with which we can trust our lives. Time and time again, God has proven His faithfulness. And we have every reason to believe that He will continue to keep that promise. Maybe you find that your world has collapsed around you. Your marriage is struggling. You're not sure where the money will come from to pay your bills. You just got off the phone with the doctor and the news is not good.

Hear these words of God. Fix them firmly in your mind. God said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." It may seems that hours have passed by without any sign of God in your life, maybe even days, weeks, months or years. Take heart and be assured. God said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." No matter how it may seem, God has not forsaken you. And he longs for the day when he can once again hold you in His arms.

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina