Does an atheist need to explain the following?

As a Christian, I accept and respect the decision of an atheist to negate God; this is clearly their prerogative. However, I submit to you that there are multiple outstanding issues which might pose difficulties for an Atheist who wishes to remain content that Science actually speaks against God, rather than for Him. For instance: 1. How did something come from nothing (i.e. what caused the Big Bang)? 2. Irreducibly complex systems. 3. Non-living matter needing to arrange itself into living matter (mathematically refuted). 4. The Cambrian Explosion. "It's as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history" (Dawkins 1996) 5. An incomplete fossil record – “the trade secret of paleontology” (ATHEIST Gould, Stephen Jay; Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA) 6. The Anthropic Principle. 7. Origins of the mind. 8. Can a brain produced solely by a chance, undirected system be capable of determining ultimate truth? (A question posed by Darwin himself). 9. Are things “right” (i.e. moral/ethical) just because we say they are? (Without something transcendent to ourselves there is no objective morality). Clearly an atheist is not obliged to have definitive answers but could faithfully anticipate science filling in all these gaps. I’m just not sure I could live like that? I feel science happily points towards God. In Christ Tom
Atheist Answer: 

Atheists can deny gods, but we can't "negate" them. If there's a god here somewhere, it's there, and all the disbelief in the world won't destroy it. If there aren't any gods, however, all the belief in the world won't create one.

I've addressed a lot of your numbered points before if you want to have a look in Recent Posts, but I'll summarise for you.

1. The Big Bang wasn't necessarily something coming from nothing. It might have been, sure, but nothing prevents the existence of a natural precursor: say, another universe. In that case, the implication is an infinite series of universes, or a stable external universe producing unstable internal universes like this one.

Your solution to the same problem is that God created the universe, and he existed forever before that. If you can simply declare this, isn't it simpler to cut out the extra entity and suppose that the universe itself has always existed in some form? God explanations always look so clean and simple, until you then have to explain the god.

2. Name one actually irreducibly complex system. Those presented in public so far have been hypothetically reduced, and in most or all cases already had been when they were presented as irreducibly complex. If you have a favourite example, we can go through it here.

3. The mathematical refutations of abiogenesis (life from non-life) have themselves been refuted, starting with Hoyle's famous Boeing 747 argument. In brief, although the chances were small, the opportunities were many and the possible forms early life could have taken were almost infinite. Most impossible-looking probabilities suppose that only a particular protein or enzyme must be formed.

4. Quote-mining Dawkins, of all people, will get you nowhere. The Cambrian "explosion" was if anything a very slow explosion, occurring over several million of the 15 million years of the Cambrian period. It was indeed a period of great change and many new variations, but since it's around the period when animals themselves first appeared, one would expect this. Nobody said evolution had to proceed at the same rate throughout its 3.5 billion year history.

5. The incomplete fossil record is hardly a secret. A given plant or animal has an incredibly small chance of becoming a fossil at all, and we'll never find most of them anyway, so it's inconceivable that the record will ever be "complete".

Those fossils we have found, however, paint a sparse but consistent impression of branching descent from a common ancestor. What would really throw evolutionary theory off is not missing fossils, but fossils in the wrong period. The famous hypothetical example is rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.

6. The anthropic principle is often very atheistic in nature. It counters the sense of privilege we might feel in having a planet which is perfect for our needs, by saying that we could only have emerged on such a planet, wherever it was.

What you really mean is the fine-tuning argument, which states that if the conditions of the universe were even slightly different, we could not exist. In the hypothetical context of a multiverse the above applies again; out of the many different universes we could only have emerged in one which suits our needs.

There are other objections which do not require this model, for example: perhaps to achieve a different but life-friendly universe, the conditions of the universe need to be wrenched rather than tweaked, and other equilibria exist far away from the current "settings". All possible arrangements have not been tested, only those near ours.

7. The mind can be easily explained, at least in broad strokes, by evolution. The mind is beneficial. Those animals including primates which developed rudimentary versions of the brain functions we think of as "mind" had a tremendous mental advantage over those which didn't. Later, any deadly contest of will or wits was won by whoever had the better mind. Natural selection favours the clever, all other things being equal.

8. Darwin was in no doubt that an undirected system had in fact produced the brain. It may not in fact be capable of determining ultimate truth, whatever that is, but it is perfectly capable of making reasoned decisions based on the evidence before it.

9. Perhaps nothing is intrinsically "right" or "wrong". We can never know. Therefore we adopt a heuristic approach to morality: that which is beneficial is usually right, and that which is harmful is usually wrong. If it works, we keep it. If it doesn't, we change it.

Without something transcendent to ourselves there is probably no absolute morality, but there is plenty of objective morality. The objects used can be simple and straightforward, like a comparison of relative benefit and harm, or they can be tried and tested, like the ancient ethic of reciprocity (the Golden Rule), or they can be complex and careful, like the law.

These objects can certainly be challenged, but in the absence of any infallible authority we actually know exists, we use the most solid things we have, such as logic, mathematics, group consensus and our common human empathy.

Tom, I notice something about your perspective, based on your nine issues. It is not science that points to God, it is rather the perceived failings of science. You point in every case to what science supposedly can't explain (though in most of these cases it's well on the way), instead of what it can. Yours seems to be a god of the gaps.

Those gaps are getting smaller. Just this year, for instance, scientists discovered a method by which RNA (a precursor to DNA) can form, and elsewhere they synthesised rudimentary self-replicators. There is now less we don't know about the natural emergence of life from non-life than there was a year ago. God is a necessary part of that process to fewer people. The nature of gods of the gaps, Tom, is that they shrink.

If you want to keep believing, you're better off embracing the world as it really is, rather than denying things like evolution for which the evidence is overwhelming. God can always fit around science if you want Him to. Just accept that things are as they are, and say God made them that way.

- SmartLX


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Is abiogenesis really getting anywhere?


You made the claim that “with recent developments abiogenesis research is getting MUCH closer to a full explanation”. However, such a claim is really not accurate and only serves to generate false hope. For instance, a recent study reported on the New Scientist website: “Artificial molecule evolves in lab” (January 2009) is a case in point. (It should be pointed out that the article is very misleadingly entitled.)

In their quest for the putative “self-replicator”, the authors report on artificially synthesizing an RNA enzyme (RSC), capable of – not replicating itself directly it should be said – but stitching together two shorter RNA molecules to produce a copy of itself.

They went on to create almost 300 versions by mutating the original. Predictably, some did the job better than others. Apparently the authors felt this was akin to “evolution”!?

For people without a scientific background this might sound like a big step. I’m afraid it’s not.

Scientists have managed to barely mimic nature.

In reality they are like small children who have attempted to make a paper airplane (badly), and looking up they see a real Boeing 747, declaring “I can make that.” This is not intended to be disrespectful, but serves as a sensible analogy (something similar to Sarah Simpson’s cavemen finding a modern car and trying to work it out, as she comments on the same endeavour (Simpson, Sarah. 1999. Life's first scalding steps. Science News, 155(2):24-26.)

Two things concern me:
(1) Life at a cellular level generally doesn’t decrease in complexity as we descend down the “evolutionary ladder” as might be expected by Darwinian theory. If you’re anticipating a primitive “ultra-simple” cell – things just don’t seem to head in that direction.
(2) This is owing to the fact that even the simplest cell (able to survive independently) must have the infrastructure capable of allowing metabolism, assimilation, respiration, growth, replication and response to stimuli (“irritability”); there is a limit to how simple things can get, certainly nowhere close to the realms of random self-assembly (abiogenesis) simplicity.

What this means is that science is hypothesizing a cell, the likes of which nothing has ever existed (including bacterial fossils), and the likes of which we couldn’t even conceive of. A cell which might even require unique building blocks i.e. not proteins, the likes of which don’t exist.

How is manufacturing a RNA enzyme taking us closer exactly? We don’t even know where we’re going – historical science needs a time machine.

As the authors in that study themselves say: "If somebody makes something great in the lab, it's fantastic. But really the origin of life on Earth is an historical problem that we're never going to be able to witness and verify".

Maybe it’s time to invoke not the “God of Gaps” but rather invoke a sensible mind that recognises when the gaps just aren’t really gaps at all, but a pointer to something a bit more intelligent then ourselves.



I said closer, not close. We're nowhere near the mark, but we still know more than we did last year. That's all it takes to inspire optimism and justify further research. You are suggesting that the researchers should simply stop, on something like the third step of a journey of many miles, because they cannot see the destination.

The RNA in the experiment replicated itself as directly as any life form, because life also uses external material to do it. The only difference is that living cells generally internalise and process that material first. Food only helps us grow new cells after we eat it, but the new cells are still made from what used to be food.

The "evolution" phase of the experiment was certainly an exercise in natural selection; the stronger replicators won out. Only the mutations were artificial.

The paper plane analogy is indeed sensible. The children who actually grow up to make Boeing 747s generally start out by making paper planes. Every aeronautics engineer was a kid once. As their understanding increases, they can build more advanced models, then small parts of real aircraft, and finally oversee the design and construction of a complete flying machine.

The paper plane phase is important because it demonstrates to children that the principles of flight can apply to any material, from cardboard to titanium. All they have to do is learn and then apply them. The discovery of flight in general is similar: from lift to thrust to steering, from balloons to propellers to wings and flaps, we applied the different principles as they came to be understood. At every stage we knew it was possible, because birds did it all the time. Skeptics at the time, like the chief engineer of the US Navy, said, "If God had intended that man should fly, he would have given him wings."

While it's much more difficult to discover the principles of an event so rare it may only ever have happened once, the first spontaneous self-replicator made from organic material which didn't do this previously is a proof of concept for at least one stage in the process. Particularly when it's made of RNA, the leading candidate for the precursor of DNA in our own ancestral cells (see the RNA world hypothesis). The next step is to generate the RNA itself from something simpler.

I'll address both your numbered points at once.

The basic composition of a cell hasn't changed much since the origin of the common eukaryotic (e.g. human) cell, but there are simpler versions like the prokaryotic (e.g. bacterial) cell. That likely came from a protobiont, which by definition is not a cell at all but a simpler collection of organic molecules in a membrane. Protobionts could exhibit reproduction, metabolism and irritability, so that's half of your list covered. The membranes at least have formed in laboratories in conditions similar to the early Earth.

A protobiont with the right material in it (RNA's a good start) would function like and essentially BE a prokaryote. The chances of a given protobiont having this ideal mix were very small, but the conditions varied across Earth and the materials were abundant. The chances for the first prokaryote were almost endless.

Get the idea, Frame? If a cell-like structure gets any simpler than a prokaryote, it no longer qualifies as a cell. Therefore an "ultra-simple" cell, relative to a prokaryote, is an oxymoron, therefore there are none. Otherwise, protobionts qualify. The only objection is semantic.

Without time travel, obviously we'll never witness and verify the original abiogenesis event. That doesn't mean we'll never understand or replicate it, or that it's not worth trying. Nor does that mean it's wise to assume that it's impossible until it happens. Nor does it all mean that a more likely scenario is that a being with no origin and yet unlimited presence, with no education and yet unlimited knowledge, caused it deliberately.

It might however seem that way to someone who's already swallowed that pill; someone for whom the most complex, exotic and I would argue unlikely entity imaginable is simply a given. The impression of natural processes as hopelessly inferior to something supernatural and invisible just doesn't extend beyond religious belief.


It's interesting that Intelligent Design advocates are stereotypically accused of making an argument from ignorance. Ironically, the accusers are in fact guilty of the very same crime – “We don’t really know how this could have happened, but lets assume evolution (or abiogenesis) somehow did it.” Evolution and abiogenesis appear to almost take the form of Gods!

As we agree, the impetus for modern science was Christianity – an attempt to understand in more depth the world God has created. The modern era was also the birth of the autonomous human mind, which felt that humans could ignore God, and behave as if He wasn’t there.

You’ve suggested that science is agnostic. I must strongly disagree. We live our life based on presuppositions (assumptions which could be true, partially true or false), which form our worldviews (e.g. scientific naturalist, theist, existentialist etc). “Agnosticism” is just not a worldview. (I’d recommend: The Universe Next Door, A Basic Worldview Catalog by James W. Sire). In reality, a supposed “agnostic” is just being non-committal, and refuses to make a statement of belief in God, based perhaps on what he sees as a current lack of sufficient evidence, though he certainly doesn’t use science as a hunt for such evidence (ID advocates do that!). It’s easy to work out his worldview by observing the way he lives his life and the means by which he makes decisions.

Truly, a theist would not have been anticipating a pattern of non-design such as evolution and it therefore comes as no surprise that Darwin’s worldview is categorically naturalistic.

There really are only three possibilities in regards to the appearance of the millions of species past. (1) The first of each species spontaneously generated form non-living matter, (2) the first of each species was created and allowed to multiply and produce variants within that species, or the first of each species came from a previous species in a chance, undersigned format. We can easily guess which option a theist and naturalist might go for.

To quote Allan Rex Sandage, the greatest observational cosmologist in the world: “there is a reluctance [in the scientific community] to reveal yourself as a believer, the opprobrium is so severe.” (Sharon Begley, “Science Finds God,” Newsweek July 20, 1998). Incidentally, it was through science that Sandage accepted an intelligent designer.

There is a massive difference between science that seeks to explain the observable, which includes just about everything, and science that makes metaphysical claims and arrogantly proposes to prove them.

If science was left to Christianity, we probably wouldn’t have evolution – so what? – no evolution doesn’t mean anything in regard to DNA and the genome project (arguably our finest achievement yet), space travel, medicine etc, all it achieves is to buttress the atheistic mindset. We’d still even have fossils – motivated to learn of all the wonderful and diverse species God has created. Evolution springs from the atheistic mind, and Evolution replaces God. Evolution only serves to give us an excuse to ignore God.

If you could suggest how evolution otherwise benefits mankind today – I would be grateful. Furthermore, if you could point out a useful product of science the Christian scientific mind would not have been interested in that would also be useful.

To suggest Science is “agnostic” just doesn’t make sense. We all live based on assumptions. Agnostics live according to the (naturalistic) values of atheists because they believe the evidence presented to them is insufficient to convince them of God. For the most part it doesn’t matter because they are not seeking to venture beyond the observable world e.g. biochemists generally study cells rather than hypothesizing about cells that might have once been. The desire to pursue evolution and its corollaries such as abiogenesis, is a hunt to obliterate any suggestion of design (consciously or unconsciously done).

As Richard Dawkins says, in his debate with John Lennox, people are filled with awe when they look at nature, and naturally want to attribute it to a designer, but Dawkins seeks to blunt and ultimately overcome this desire by virtue of scientific understanding.

Firmly In Christ

More for FTG

Evolution and abiogenesis seem to take the form of gods only to those who see the handiwork of a god in everything. The difference is that in the case of evolution we can actually see how it happens without divine assistance, and in the case of abiogenesis we have several hypotheses that in principle we will be able to test. They make more sense the more we investigate, not less. Contrast this with Christian theology, where the quest to understand the nature of God is literally endless and nothing of it, even His existence, may ever be confirmed.

I said that the founders of modern science were mostly Christian, not that Christianity was the impetus. They were all white people too - do we owe modern science to the white race? No, we owe it to individuals who put their beliefs aside and looked at the evidence.

As I explained, they searched for natural explanations and did not invoke divine intervention; only afterward did they credit God for what they had found. God was not actually useful to their work, but fortunately He was not a hindrance either because presupposing His existence does not imply or predict anything one can test.

"Agnostic" is a stronger word than you think. It can imply that it is impossible to know the divine, not simply that one does not know. In the context of science, the existence of a god is currently irrelevant for two reasons. It does not change the fact that there are natural processes at work which can be investigated. It is also untestable, as I say above. Besides, you're confusing agnostic science with agnostic scientists when you bring their personal lives into this.

Science does make basic assumptions of naturalism, but it tests them. If positive evidence, rather than gaps in positive evidence, emerged which established supernatural intervention in the universe beyond reasonable doubt, these assumptions would be happily discarded. Scientists like to find out for themselves that they're wrong, because the discovery itself makes them famous and because they genuinely want to know the facts.

Only the religious suggest options 1 and 2. This is fitting, given the campaign to make natural abiogenesis sound impossible, because 1 and 2 suppose multiple abiogenesis events and make a god sound more likely. Evolutionary theory implies your un-numbered third option, not because it's easier but because genetics have shown that all life has a single common ancestor. (Evolution is undirected, yes, but it's not a chance process as long as there are good reasons why one creature outlives another.)

There is no metaphysical claim associated with any of this. The search for a natural process of abiogenesis takes no position on the existence of gods. It simply supposes that IF a god exists, it either did not intervene in this event or it set up the natural process beforehand, as Francis Collins supposes with evolution. If any stage in the process is found to be literally impossible, this may suggest direct intervention instead.

Evolution and abiogenesis, whether right or wrong, do indeed explain the observable, because we observe life. It is sometimes necessary to posit the unobserved to explain the observed, as it was with gravity and germs. Eventually, the means becomes available to observe more. Gravity waves have been detected, germs appear under a microscope, horseflies have speciated in front of us ("macro-evolution" in action) and we've watched the precursors of life do lifelike things like self-replicate.

Sandage was apparently convinced of an intelligent designer by the general complexity of the universe and by the origin of life problem, in the 1970s when abiogenesis research had produced little more than amino acids. That's also about the time when he ceased to be regarded as the pre-eminent observational cosmologist. Carl Sagan, whose career spanned about the same period as Sandage's, begged to differ. Take two minutes and read his piece Pale Blue Dot.

Evolutionary theory is crucial to medicine, for one thing. There's a new flu shot every year because influenza is evolving so fast we can feel it happening. Swine flu is one of its stronger incarnations. Here's a list of the other major uses. See which ones you like.

There's no scientific advancement or discovery that all Christian scientists would reject, because plenty of Christians will happily accept a natural explanation instead of a miracle by crediting God with nature. As I've said, God always fits around science.

However, going back to the foundation of modern science as you're fond of doing, Galileo would have told you what the Church's own science department would not accept as scientific. They only apologised to him posthumously (in the 1990s) for threatening him with torture if he continued to undermine geocentricity and Heaven's physical location outside of the largest celestial sphere. It's impossible to disprove gods, but some specific dogma is vulnerable to evidence.

Dawkins certainly wishes to overcome the impression of design because he honestly thinks it is wrong. If you read a book of his, he will tell you why. The difference between your reasoning and his is that for you God is a premise, so "Firmly In Christ" are you. The absence of gods for him, and for me, is not a premise but a conclusion.

RNA World Hypothesis is taking us nowhere!

Your “atheistic faith” appears stretched to near breaking point when you point to the “RNA hypothesis” as stepping in the right direction, when in fact you’re just side-stepping in no direction at all. You’re firing at a target in the dark, a target you hope is actually there at all!

Would you care to pass comment on the points raised in the excerpt below?

Excerpt from Lee Strobel’s “The Case For a Creator” (2004) p.229-230.

I raised another possibility. “Maybe replication first began in a much simpler way and then natural selection was able to take over,” I said. “For example, some small viruses use RNA as their genetic material. RNA molecules are simpler than DNA, and they can also store information and replicate. What about the so-called ‘RNA first hypothesis’ that says reproductive life originated in a realm that’s much less complex than DNA?”

“There’s a mountain of problems with that,” he said. “Just a cite a couple of them, the RNA molecule would need information to function, just as DNA would, and so we’re right back to the same problem of where the information came from. Also, for a single strand of RNA to replicate, there must be an identical RNA molecule close by. To have a reasonable chance of having two identical RNA molecules of the right length would require a library of ten billion billion billion billion billion billion RNA molecules – and that effectively rules out any chance origin of a primitive replicating system.” 1

Although popular for a while, the RNA theory has generated its share of sceptics. Evolutionist Robert Shapiro, a chemistry professor at New York University, said the idea at this point “must be considered either a speculation or a matter of faith.” 2 Origin-of-life researcher Graham Cairns-Smith said the “many interesting and detailed experiments in this area” have only served to show that the theory is “highly implausible.” 3 As Jonathan Wells noted in my earlier interview with him, biochemist Gerald Joyce of the Scipps Research centre was even more blunt: “You have to build straw man upon straw man to get to the point where RNA is a viable first biomolecule.”4

Jay Roth, former Professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Connecticut and an expert in nucleic acids, said whether the original template for the first living systems was RNA or DNA, the same problem exists. “Even reduced to the bare essentials,” he said, “this template must have been very complex indeed. For this template and this template alone, it appears it is reasonable at present to suggest the possibility of a creator.” 5

1 For a summary of other arguments against the “RNA first” hypothesis, see: “Stephen C. Meyer Replies,” First Things (October 2000)
2 Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth (New York: Summit, 1986), 189.
3 Ibid
4 See: Gerald F. Joyce, “RNA Evolution and the Origins of Ife,” Nature 338 (1989), 217-24, and Robert Irion, “RNA Can’t Take the Heat,” Science 279 (1998), 1303.
5 Jay Roth, “The Piling of Coincidence on Coincidence,” in: Henry Margenau and Roy Abraham Varghese, editors, Cosmos, Bios, Theos (Chicago: Open Court, 1992), 199.

RNA world

The thing about firing in the dark is that one can see much by the muzzle flashes and ricochet sparks. Each shot is usually truer than the last. If not for decades of research, the RNA experiment this year could not have happened.

Thanks for putting "atheistic faith" in quotes, Tom. I would have too; it's nothing more than an expression by religious apologists. It's an oxymoron - what atheists have isn't faith, it's confidence based on the evidence so far.

Lee Strobel would be a fair enough apologist if he didn't claim to know all sides of the story. The man goes out interviewing to get different opinions, but only ever seems to find or feature people who are currently believers.

The first objection raised here (the excerpt doesn't say by who) is the idea that information does not form or increase by chance. It does. For a simple example, stir a bowl of alphabet soup and see how many words jump out at you. Argue this point further if you want my full position, but please, first search this site for where I've already done so.

As the recent experiment demonstrated, an RNA molecule does not need an identical molecule nearby to self-replicate. Those molecules joined together two halves of themselves. Therefore all that's needed is for the sum of a molecule's parts to be present. In another iteration of the experiment (read the article again) two very different molecules manufactured each other. This shortens the odds considerably, because the options are opened up wide.

Even if not, the odds you quote are not unassailable. As I've been saying all along, the opportunities spanned the surface area of the Earth, the depth of the ocean and a billion years.

The diameter of the Earth is 12,500 kilometres and the width of a molecule is less than 2 nanometres. That's about 10^32 molecules' worth of lateral space, or I'm much mistaken. Add a factor of a billion for volume where the ocean is just two metres deep, and then multiply by the time, say in seconds. That's about enough billions to match your bid, or at least give a fighting chance. We knew it was rare to begin with, because it hasn't apparently happened since.

The above broadly addresses the argument by Jay Roth that the starting complexity of DNA or RNA was too unlikely. Moving on, you fail to mention the full positions of the other biologists you quote to support Strobel.
- Robert Shapiro argues that metabolism and self-replication developed without RNA.
- Graham Cairns-Smith advocates an entirely different theory of abiogenesis involving clay crystals, which while not widely known or accepted is still viable today.
- Gerald Joyce conducts much of his research with both RNA and DNA, seeing them both as at least analogous to life. He merely does not think that RNA came first in our own heritage.

All of the above advocate natural abiogenesis, they are simply in the current minority pursuing other avenues they see as more productive. All of them are producing interesting work in those avenues, and progress in one does not invalidate another. Someone may actually hit upon a viable method other than the one that produced us.

That leaves only author, Moonie crusader and Discovery Institute favourite Jonathan Wells. He's been famous since his testimony at the Dover trial, so his arguments have been answered, and savaged for good measure, all over the web. Here's a taste.

You do mention Stephen Meyer, poster-child of the Expelled conspiracy theory, in your references. Another Discovery Institute front man, he embarked on a life of anti-Darwinism without having studied biology (he's a geologist). The jewel of his academic output is eviscerated here.

I'll respect the conclusions of Lee Strobel relative to biology or anything else when he runs a full interview with, not just quotes briefly, someone who genuinely opposes his point of view at the time. Until then I see him as a seeker of yes-men. That doesn't mean his arguments are invalid, it just gives me confidence that there are existing answers to them. So I go and find them.

Science just keeps pointing towards God!

So, the fossil record has come up a bit short as far as transitional fossils go, biologists have therefore changed tack. Welcome to the molecular biological revolution. Amphibians sure look (morphologically) closer to fish than do mammals and you would expect this would therefore be true at a molecular level.

In his book “Evolution: a theory in Crisis” molecular biologist Michael Denton highlights astonishing results when the DNA coding (as indicated by amino acid sequencing) for the same protein (namely, cytochrome C, involved in cellular energy production) is compared between a variety of animals, plants and yeasts. The data indicates that rather than the coding of, say, amphibians being closer to fish than to mammals, in fact amphibians are just as different as are mammals. Furthermore, the cytochrome coding of all eukaryotic organisms (e.g. horse, pigeon, tuna, silkmoth, whet, yeast) are EQUALLY different compared with bacterial cytochrome).

“No intermediate type of cytochrome exists to bridge the discontinuity which divides the living kingdom into these two fundamental types [eukaryotes and bacteria]. The bacterial kingdom has no neighbour in any of the fantastically diverse eukaryotic types. The “missing links” are well and truly missing” (Denton)

Maybe the “missing links” are with those WMDs?



Anonymous...that's probably you, Tom, or a friend of yours. Do remember to log in.

Did you know Michael Denton has changed his position since 1985 when he wrote Evolution: ATIC? In his second and last book Nature's Destiny he accepts common ancestry and gradual progression ("biological evolution") between all species, in stark contrast to his earlier arguments against the idea. He now argues that a fine-tuned universe made the process (and us) inevitable. He's changed from a straight creationist to a theistic evolutionist.

Now, just because Denton doesn't use an argument anymore doesn't necessarily mean it's invalid, so the link above to Evolution: ATIC contains a concise reply to the cytochrome C argument.

To summarise even further, the differences between cytochrome C in modern organisms are not so important because modern organisms are not descended from each other. There are no "living fossils", only organisms which look like much older organisms - all forms of life today are cousins. Cytochrome C has changed over time relative to our common ancestor over exactly the same amount of time, not between modern creatures. Using only non-extinct creatures in the analysis missed the real progression.

For a full and very clear reply to the argument (with pictures) by a biologist, see here.

On your other topic, there will always be "missing links", no matter how many fossils are unearthed. Say a fossil is found which forms a perfect link between two species; we can then look for two intermediate links between that fossil and those either side of it in the progression. EVERY unknown species is a missing link until it's discovered. The difference from WMDs is that, like these two examples in the last month, they just keep turning up.