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Doctor’s Diary: Evolution’s Countless Chicken-and-Egg Conundrums

Geoffrey Simmons
sperm
Photo: Sperm, by Bobjgalindo / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0).

Editor’s note: Dr. Simmons is a physician and the author most recently of Are We Here to Re-Create Ourselves? He is a Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture.

It turned out last week that scientists had been wrong for 350 years about how sperm swim. From Science Magazine:

Watch a human sperm under a microscope, and it will appear to swim like an eel wiggling its tail through the water. But a new study reveals that sperm actually swim in a much more chaotic manner — one they’ve been able to harness for maximal speed.

Researchers scanned human sperm samples with a 3D microscope and a high-speed camera — one that could keep up with the speedy swimmers, which can manage 20 to 30 swimming strokes per second.

Though in two dimensions sperm appear to lash their tail from side-to-side in symmetric strokes, the reproductive cells actually move in a lop-sided manner, beating their tails to one side only (as seen in the video above), the team reports today in Science Advances.

That is fascinating, but the revelation veils many mysteries. 

Everyone is familiar with the riddle: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This circular causality dilemma has been discussed by philosophers for ages, without resolution. When applied to the theory of human evolution, as one case, it brings out several interesting and damaging challenges. Just substitute the human female and her fertilized ovum (egg) into the riddle or the human male and his “speedy,” “lop-sided” sperm. 

Man or Woman?

Or, you could ask whether a man or a woman came first. Religious texts say man preceded woman, by a very short period of time. Proponents of evolution, however, don’t clearly address the timing. To say humans evolved from apes, one must explain an uncountable number of viable, parallel, genetic steps (changes) in both sexes, at every twig and branch on the Tree of Life. There must have been pre-human males and females. And, before them, pre-pre matched pairs. And before them, pre-pre-pre matched pairs. And so on, going back to the primordial seas.

Evolutionists seem to assume that at least a pair of new, genetically matched animals of the opposite sex accidentally arrived at the same time(s). It’s the rabbit out of the hat trick, albeit two rabbits. After a few (not so) simple genetic tweaks, the Earth had air-breathing fish walking out of the sea, who knew what to eat on land and where to find it. Soon thereafter, in geological time, Orville and Wilbur Wright birds were taking off and safely landing, and eventually primates, who could dig insects out of logs, walk erect, and be trained to ride bicycles, appeared. Darwinian drawings make all this seem simple, like changing clothes, but scientists know that it isn’t. Virtually all intermediate, male-female pairs, possibly millions of them, are inconveniently missing from the fossil record.

One World Trade Center

This is not a discussion of natural selection or isolated mutations. Neither process can create a new species of our caliber. It is not about breeding a racing horse with a plow horse and getting a new version of a horse. Changing an ape’s zygote (first cells) into a human zygote would require many more steps than found in the One World Trade Center tower. Yet the Center serves as a good analogy. Note that virtually all stairs at the construction site had to be placed in order, at the right time, and in the right way. Step #1,011 could not be added until there were 1,010 stairs already in place. And, so it must go with the steps in evolution. Keep in mind, a biological skyscraper, such as a human being, might have billions of staircases.

Sexual partners had to come about in close proximity with the correct macro- and micro-apparatuses. Also, the two must have found each other irresistible. But there are a few genetic stumbling blocks here. Inbreeding dilutes the changes. Within a few generations, descendants from such a match return to their usual genotype and phenotype. Breeding with one’s own siblings and parents also dilutes genetic material and may lend itself to genetic crises. 

The conundrum, asking which came first, can be applied to all human body parts, all cell parts, all chemistries, all electrical sources, and all genetic instructions. This includes every aspect of the female genitals (macroscopic and microscopic), different female hormones with reciprocal hormone receptor sites, and two ovaries, strategically placed within the pelvis. Although each ovary has 250,000 eggs, only one egg typically matures at a time. How is this determined? By the ovary or the ovum? Both male and female parts must arrive at the same time, in the right place, and be compatible with the counterpart. The male’s includes external genitals, male hormones, the correct hormone with the correct receptor sites, and an ability to quickly make, and remake, sperm. In actuality, there are millions, possibly billions, of genetic and chemical changes needed to convert an ape zygote into a human zygote. And multiply that by two (sexes). 

Not only must the anatomical key properly fit, but there must be stimulating pheromones, visual cues, and foreplay to start everything off. There has to be something that gives the partners pleasure. Mandatory procreation probably failed the first time it was tried. Which came first, the sperms’ navigation systems or the egg’s GPS system? Both have a long, potentially dangerous journey before the rendezvous and another after fertilization. Did the two Fallopian tubes (narrow channels between the ovary and the uterus) precede the “sticky fingers” that catch a mature egg after it ovulates and drops? Did the egg’s ability to open its door to only one specific sperm come before the sperm’s ability to figuratively knock on the door? Did the mechanism to connect the male chromosomes to the female chromosomes arrive before chromosomes were made?

A Look Inside the Human Body

The chicken and egg conundrum seems to apply in virtually every system inside the human body.

Look at growth hormone and the millions of contractor bone cells with unique receptors. They build and shape bones; they repair fractures. The hormones, the receptors, and the workers are all needed at the same time and in the right places. Muscles could not have come about without tendons for anchoring them and nerves to stimulate them. Joints are useless without the presence of lubricating joint fluid, cartilage covering bone tips to dampen the banging traumas and ligaments for stability. Having only one hip socket doesn’t lend itself to a healthy existence. Fingers without joints would be of limited benefit. Joints without fluid would be hard to use. Joints without compartments to contain the fluid would be useless. Fingers without opposing muscles to flex and extend would be floppy appendages. And, a standout question is which came first, flexors or extensors for every moving part?

Which came first, two eyeballs or two eye sockets in the skull? Did eyelids come before eyelashes? Tear ducts before tear glands? Were the eyes properly spaced from the beginning or first found in unrelated locations? Which came first, the optic nerve in the back of the eye or the occipital lobes of the brain to interpret visual impulses? I could go on.

How a Darwinist Would Answer

A traditional Darwinist might argue that none of this matters. All congruent parts of chickens and eggs evolved together, from one size to another, from one color to another, from pre-pre chicken and pre-pre egg to pre-chicken and pre-egg to the chicken and the egg, and from one species to the next like an army marching forward, adding and subtracting troops as it goes. 

There are several problems with this kind of thinking, however. First, there is no proof that any new and significant DNA information (blueprints) can actually be added accidentally, by natural selection, or by trial and error. Second, there are trillions of these pairings that must happen and carry on at the same time. And, third, this conundrum, in humans, often involves more than two parts. Stepping back, for instance, opposing muscles need joints, innervating nerves, blood supply, and tendons. Joints, at the same time, need cartilage, ligaments, fluid, nerves, and blood supply. Bones need carpenters, regeneration teams, blood supply, growth hormone, and nerves. This can be taken back through uncountable conundrums, as an inverted pyramid, all the way back to fertilization. And, basically back through generations to our beginning.

The answer, of course, is that the egg and the chicken must have come at the same time. Alternate explanations are impossible.