Peter Atkins Dramatically Overstates the Evidence for Evolutionary Phylogenies

I recently picked up Galileo’s Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science by Oxford chemist Peter Atkins. It’s a 2003 book, and on the plus side, it offers enjoyable and concise explanations of many important scientific theories, including some lucid diagrams explaining Einstein’s ideas about relativity. In his chapter on evolution, Atkins boldly states, “The effective prediction is that the details of molecular evolution must be consistent with those of macroscopic evolution.” (pg. 16) I’m willing to accept that “prediction.” However, Atkins unfortunately goes on to dramatically overstate the evidence for molecular evolution by asserting, “That is found to be the case: there is not a single instance of the molecular traces of change being inconsistent with our observations of Read More ›

Wired Magazine Makes Biological Design Inference

We are often told by Darwinists that design cannot be detected in biology. But an article entitled “Wired Science Reveals Secret Codes in Craig Venter’s Artificial Genome” reports that “Wired Science has ferreted out the secret amino acid messages contained in ‘watermarks’ that were embedded in the world’s first manmade bacterial genome, announced last week by the J. Craig Venter Institute.” In biochemical jargon, each amino acid is ascribed a letter. Thus, one can encode sequences of amino acids that effectively spell out words. (The IDEA logo has done this since 1999 by using a chain of 4 amino acids that spell out “I.D.E.A.”) These are the words that Wired‘s sleuths discovered in the “manmade” parts of the bacterial genome Read More ›

Leslie Orgel: Metabolic Origin of Life “Unlikely”; Complexity Requires “A Skilled Synthetic Chemist” (Part 2)

In Part 1 I discussed the eminent and late origin of life theorist Leslie Orgel’s criticisms of theories that self-sustaining metabolic pathways could spontaneously come into existence on the early earth and evolve into life. Orgel’s was skeptical that this could occur because “the chance of a full set of such catalysts occurring at a single locality on the primitive Earth in the absence of catalysts for disruptive side reactions seems remote in the extreme.” Indeed, according to Orgel, the type of complexity we normally find in the metabolic pathways of life require “a skilled synthetic chemist.” But what if we assume that such pathways could come into existence? Even if such pathways existed, they would still be far from Read More ›

Leslie Orgel: Metabolic Origin of Life “Unlikely”; Complexity Requires “A Skilled Synthetic Chemist” (Part 1) (Updated)

Last year I blogged about Robert Shapiro’s excellent article in Scientific American that gave cogent critiques of many standard models of the chemical origin of life. Shapiro critiqued the view that a primordial soup existed on the early earth that ultimately gave birth to a self-replicating molecule, which eventually evolved into RNA and then DNA. After critiquing this standard model, Shapiro gave his alternative explanation, proposing that life evolved from metabolic pathways that naturally occurred on the early earth. As I wrote at that time, Shapiro “gives scant explanation for how these life-like metabolic networks can come into existence naturally, and he gives no details as to how these thermodynamic states produce real life–life as we know it today.” Now Read More ›

Leading Biologists Marvel at the “Irreducible Complexity” of the Ribosome, but Prefer Evolution-of-the-Gaps

A roundtable symposium was recently held at by John Brockman entitled, “Life: What A Concept!” discussing how life arose. Participants included some huge names in origin of life research and genomics, such as Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, and Seth Lloyd. None of the participants are favorable towards intelligent design, but the transcript of their conversations suggested that the ribosome may exhibit “irreducible complexity” (their words). It’s clear that these anti-ID scientists don’t even understand exactly how life works, much less do they know how it arose naturally, but that they are nonetheless taking an evolution-of-the-gaps approach, assuming that complex micromolecular machines like the ribosome will (despite their present appearances) indeed turn out to Read More ›