The Information Enigma - Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines

Apologetic Question: Does Science Conflict With Or Support The Bible?

The Information Enigma - Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines

Contributed by Gary Silk, a Friend on our Advisory Board

Charles Darwin wrote is his Origin of Species, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down”. Michael Behe, PHD Molecular Biologist and author of the book “Darwin’s Black Box” used Darwin’s comment to form the basis of his concept of “irreducible complexity”. 

In a book by Lee Strobel titled “Case for A Creator” Behe is interviewed and clarifies just what “irreducible complexity” is. He states, "You see, a system or device is irreducibly complex if it has a number of different components that all work together to accomplish the task of the system, and if you were to remove one of the components, the system would no longer function. An irreducibly complex system is highly unlikely to be built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because the system has to be fully present in order for it to function”. 

Behe uses a simple mousetrap to illustrate the concept. A mousetrap has a series of parts that all work together to trap mice. It has a flat wooden platform to which the other parts are attached; a metal hammer, which does the job of crushing the mouse; a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged; a catch that releases when a mouse applies a slight bit of pressure; and last, there's a metal bar that connects to the catch and holds the hammer back when the trap is charged. If any of the parts are missing from the mousetrap or are not the right scale or placed in the right orientation to one another, the mousetrap will not work.

In the biological complexities of life, it turns out that there are many irreducibly complex systems that are essential to the creation and sustenance of life. In fact life is based on tiny molecular machines. 

A simple example Behe uses to illustrate an actual Biological example is the cilia of the simple cell. Cilia are the tiny hair like fibers that move in a coordinated way to propel a cell around allowing it to fulfill it’s purpose. Every cell has about 200 cilium. He describes the parts and functionality of a single cilia, "There are nine pairs of microtubules, which are long, thin, flexible rods, which encircle two single microtubules. The outer microtubules are connected to each other by what are called nexin linkers. And each microtubule has a motor protein called dynein. The motor protein attaches to one microtubule and has an arm that reaches over, grabs the other one, and pushes it down. So the two rods start to slide lengthwise with respect to each other. As they start to slide, the nexin linkers, which were originally like loose rope, get stretched and become taut. As the dynein pushes farther and farther, it starts to bend the apparatus; then it pushes the other way and bends it back. That's how you get the rowing motion of the cilium. That doesn't begin to do justice to the complexity of the cilium. But my point is that these three parts-the rods, linkers, and motors-are necessary to convert a sliding motion into a bending motion so the cilium can move. If it weren't for the linkers, everything would fall apart when the sliding motion began. If it weren't for the motor protein, it wouldn't move at all. If it weren't for the rods, there would be nothing to move. So like the mousetrap, the cilium is irreducibly complex.” In other words the parts of the cilia will not function by themselves and a cell could not move around without all the cilium in place and in the proper scale and orientation to the other parts.

The larger argument here is that it is inconceivable how something like even the simple cilia, with its irreducibly complex design, could evolve into a functional biological apparatus without the intervention of an intelligent designer. 

There are countless other examples scientists use to illustrate the concept of “irreducible complexity”. Some to consider include, the bacterial flagellum, the intracellular transport system, the ribosome, the blood clotting mechanism, every organ of any life form that exists not to mention any complete life form in totality. I encourage you to Google any of the examples given and study the complexity of these examples and ask yourself, could this have developed and exist if all the parts were not present at one time and in the proper scale and orientation to all the other parts that make up the system. I am sure you will conclude that God’s creation is a wonder to contemplate.

"God or Ourselves"

A rich man once walked away from Jesus because he had more faith in his money than God. To this our Lord replied it was impossible for people with riches to trust. (But we are like that too. We trust our ways, thoughts and means, but not God). When the disciples heard this they were shocked and said, “Who then can trust?” Jesus agreed, as he focused on them and said, “You are right, with man it is impossible without God’s help,” (Mt. 19:26). But Jesus also let them know with God’s help even the impossible tasks are never impossible. The question is, “Are we looking to God’s or ourselves?”

"Merging As One"

We often seek strength when we already have it. It is just a matter of doing it. We ask God to strengthen us; and yes, that is scriptural. But let us also realize He tells us to be strong. But how? How does asking for strength and His command to be strong fit together? How can we be courageous and not scared when things assault us daily? The answer comes in these words, “For the Lord your God will be with wherever you go,” (Joshua 1:9). When we meditate on this we find God is calling us to be strong and at the same time we find that we already are. They are not opposing words, but merging as one.

"He Is With Me"

Our Father enjoys surprising us in the little things to remind us of His love. God and me have this thing; (I know that sounds weird, but it’s true). He occasionally shows me a Red Cardinal or has me find a coin lying on the ground. Recently, I was crossing the street, and I know this may sound absurd, but there in the middle of the intersection were three scuffed up pennies. In that moment, time seemed to stop as I picked them up and God reminded me anew He was with me and His blessings and favor rested upon me. Sometimes it’s a Red Cardinal, other times a coin, but both remind me that He’s with me.

"Time with God"

Our pastor spoke on “Christ, the Prince of Peace.” He talked of God coming to give His people Peace with God and the Peace of God. Objectively, we receive Peace with God when we come to faith in Christ because His wrath no longer abides on us. Subjectively, God has given us His peace to know daily within ‘existentially.’ This comes as we engage His peace that is already ours in Christ and usually comes experientially through prayer as we release our control to His. To me, there is no other thing more enjoyable than knowing and experiencing God’s love and peace as we spend time in His presence.

"In the Bathroom"

You never know who God is going to allow you to meet. I was in college. It was late. I’d been up studying. Most were asleep. The dorm was quite. I thought I’d hit the restroom before retiring. I entered. He was doing janitorial work to help pay his way through school. We spoke and talked a while.  He quickly became a dear brother, and later my brother-in-law. Of all the times I ever spent in a bathroom, that night excelled them all! Recently he had a birthday. “Jim O’Neill, I hope it was good? Happy Birthday, you old bathroom chum!” Like I said, “You never know who God is going to allow you to meet!” 

The 7th Day

I was thinking of the term, “The Christian Sabbath” or “The Christian’s Weekly Day of Rest.” Why is it Sunday and not Saturday as OT teaches, “Work six days and rest on the seventh?” And yet, the NT teaches a Christian’s day of celebration is the first day of the week in response to Christ’s resurrection. Sunday is a day set aside to joyfully reflect and show gratitude to God for what he has done for us in Christ Jesus. But is it our practice? Let us all work on celebrating Sundays with times of joyful and peaceful rest; and keep this first day of the week holy as God has ordained this day for our good and His glory.

Snow Flakes & Diamonds

A friend reminded me of a scene where Asylon talks to one of the main characters in the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” This one questions another’s part in the story. Asylon replies, “That’s her story, not yours.” The same applies to us as we are always looking at others saying, “Why do they have this or that; or it is not fair they get this and I never do.” Each person’s story is unique to the one living it. Ours is to focus on our own story and not others. Just like snowflakes have their own differences, or diamonds have their special reflections, so we too are unique…………“It’s our story, and no one else’s.”

Three Wise Men

I sat with three men that had multiple years of ministry experience. In our conversation one said, “When we are young we were trying to learn and find our bearings, but as we gained age and experience we now seem to know them.” Simple words but insightful as I pondered them. In many ways, I know my bearings and in others I am still coming to terms with them as I walk with God. Recently, I told Nancy the things that once seemed so important don’t seem so anymore. Earthly values seem less now, as I often talk with others of the same. And isn’t this part of our calling, “To set our minds on things above.”

Someone Needing A Prayer

“The Love of God.” Someone called this morning needing prayer. I just wrote a letter for another needing grace. A friend shared his life a moment ago as he needed a hearing. I needed God’s Love. Faith broke in. Trust was called to action. Belief sounded, “Rest.” Acceptance embraced love. Reliance ignited obedience. Faithfulness exploded into Glory toward our King. Joy entered my heart. The Love of God, how rich and deep; it starts here, moves to faith, then to action as it is synonymous with obedience. Joy soon enters as God is glorified. A gripping and compelling tale, that is ………… “The Love of God!”