Designer Genes

Patricia A. Mondore, M.A. and Robert J. Mondore

"For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Heb 3:4

Imagine yourself hopping on a spaceship and traveling at warp speed to another solar system billions of light years away. One planet, in particular, catches your interest so you decide to land there and check it out. You soon discover it has an oxygen level compatible with that of humans so you hop out of the ship to see if you can discover any form of intelligent life. At first, you see only a desert-like wilderness. There appears to be no life forms, intelligent or otherwise. You venture out hoping to find any clue that might lead to potential life. After a short walk you notice a small structure. As you get closer you recognize it to be a simple dwelling of some kind. Though it is unoccupied, it has windows, a door, and a slanted roof. After noting each detail carefully, you proceed on your expedition. After a while, you discover another structure, a little bit larger but made of the same basic materials and similar in design. Just beyond it, you see several other nearly identical structures. As you continue on your journey you notice an increasing number of buildings, closer together and of more complex structure. Some of the buildings have multiple doors, several floors and staircases throughout them.

Eventually, you arrive at what appears to be a city. The dwellings are systematically lined along roads. Some buildings are multiple stories. All have greater detail and complexity than anything you've observed thus far and each one is distinctly styled. Many of the structures were designed so ornately they appeared to serve no practical purpose other than sheer visual appeal. By the time you reached the center of the city you were in awe over the magnificently adorned edifices towering above you. You continued taking notes, hoping to not miss any details of this amazing space adventure. After a while, you realize it's time to head back to your spaceship. As you make your way out of the city you sighed to yourself. How sad to think that after traveling all this way and making all these fascinating discoveries, you would still have to go home and report there was no sign of life to be found on this planet.

One might find amusing the ignorance it would require to arrive at such an obviously illogical conclusion. Despite the fact that no life forms were physically observed it was clearly evident that some kind of intelligent being had to have lived on the planet. Anyone who doubted that fact would have to ignore what most would consider to be obvious and insurmountable evidence. Buildings imply a builder; design, a designer. In the above example it is obvious but is it always that easy to determine? The answer to that question has prompted great debate. It is within the context of this debate, that of natural selection versus intelligent design, that the idea of design pointing to a designer has been frequently addressed. Even before the time of Darwin and his theories of natural selection, nineteenth century Anglican clergyman William Paley was hard at work writing numerous scholarly articles in defense of design and its evidence in nature. While highly revered in his day, he would eventually be ridiculed for his ideas by the scientific community. One of his most famous works, "Natural Theology," would also become one of the most vehemently opposed. In the opening statement he writes:

In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that for any thing I knew to the contrary it had lain there for ever... But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to b in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for any thing I knew the watch might have always been there. Yet why should this answer not serve for the watch as well as for the stone?....namely, that when we come to inspect the watch, we perceive...its several parts are framed and put together for a purpose, e.g. that they are so formed and adjusted as to...point out the hour of the day; that if the different parts had been differently shaped from what they are, or placed after any other manner or in any other order than that in which they are placed, either no motion at all would have been carried on in the machine, or none which would have answered the use that is now served by it...the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker...who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.{1}

Recent scientists (Darwinists) have taken great delight in attempting to discredit Paley's ideas. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins actually wrote an entire book, The Blind Watchmaker{2}, attempting to refute him. Dawkins claimed that it is actually evolution and not an intelligent designer that created the watch saying, "Paley's argument is made with passionate sincerity and is informed by the best biological scholarship of his day, but it is wrong, gloriously and utterly wrong...If [natural selection] can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker." With a tone that completely writes off Paley's beliefs as outdated, Dawkins could lead the reader to believe that he somehow scientifically disproved Paley's original point. As some scientists have pointed out, he did not.

Biochemisist, Michael Behe easily dismisses Dawkins' rebuttal saying, "But exactly where, we may ask, was Paley refuted? Who has answered his argument? How was the watch produced without an intelligent designer? It is surprising but true that the main argument of the discredited Paley has actually never been refuted. Neither Darwin nor Dawkins, neither science nor philosophy, has explained how an irreducibly complex system such as a watch might be produced without a designer."{3} Behe is not alone in his rejection of Dawkins' attack on Paley's ideas. In their book, Evolution from Space, astronomers Fred Holye and Chandra Wickramasinghe wrote, "It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out, but leave William Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner.{4} What have these scientists discovered that would make them choose to take the side of a 19th Century clergyman in opposition to one of their own fellow 20th scientists? What proofs do they have to make such strong statements? Hoyle, for one, reached his conclusion based on his own mathematical calculations. In fact, Sir Fred Hoyle is one of the world's leading astronomers and mathematicians. Unlike Paley, whose studies were based on his deep faith in God, Hoyle considers himself both an evolutionist and an agnostic. Hence, he did not arrive at his conclusions because of any religious bias but strictly through his own mathematical calculations. We now know that even the simplest living creature is extremely complex. Hoyle attempted to calculate the probability of one of the simplest of these complex beings coming into existence by chance.{5} Assuming the first living thing would have been smaller and simpler than any present day creatures, he still calculated a 1 in 1020 (that is, a 1 with 20 zeros behind it) probability of occurring by chance. That is the probability for just one simple enzyme. However, even the simplest life form requires literally thousands of different enzymes with each one tailor-made to perform a specific function. That ups the probability to 1 in 1040,000 (or 1 followed by 40,000 zeros). Mathematicians generally agree anything with a probability of less than 1 in 1050 is equivalent to total impossibility. That these complex substances exist despite the fact that it is impossible for them to have formed by chance, Hoyle concludes, "A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."{6} Hoyle is not alone in this conclusion. He wrote, "Quite a number of my astronomical friends are considerable mathematicians, and once they become interested enough to calculate for themselves, instead of relying upon hearsay argument, they can quickly see the point.{7} One of Hoyle's associates, Chandra Wickramasinghe stated, "The chances that life just occurred on earth are about as unlikely as a typhoon blowing through a junkyard and constructing a Boeing 747."{8} Hoyle and Wickramasinghe worked together to mathematically calculate probabilities on development of even the smallest chemicals needed for life. Dealing first with hemoglobin they concluded that, even believing the earth was billions of years old, "there simply has not been nearly enough time for this process to have evolved."{9} The also studied the origin of genes with the same conclusion stating, "Mutations just don't occur often enough to account for all the hundreds of thousands of fundamentally different genes there are." They found it absurd to think that chance mutations could ever produce ‘genes which were to prove capable of writing the symphonies of Beethoven and the plays of Shakespeare."{10} Murray Eden, a Professor at M.I.T. came to a similar conclusion based on his own gene studies. He explains that "human genes contain about a billion nucleotides (the smallest unit in our genes-like a letter in the alphabet)" and "however you made the calculations, the length of time life has been on earth was not nearly long enough for all those nucleotides - all that information to have been generated by chance mutations."{11} British physicist Alan Hayward also believes there is ample scientific proof to "have thrown Darwin out." He writes that one major objection to Darwinism is its sheer improbability. "All that natural selection does is to destroy the unfit; the ‘fit' have to be produced by mutation which is known to be the result of pure chance. And the idea that chance could create all the manifold wonders of nature is preposterous - so preposterous that a great many mathematicians, as well as quite a few biologists, have rejected Darwinism on statistical grounds."{12} While the total improbability is proof enough, there is another factor that further negates the concept of Darwinian evolution. Even if natural selection were to have occurred despite the insurmountable odds, the problem of design must be dealt with if Darwinists are to have any reasonable defense for their position. A watch, based on its multiplicity of essential parts all working together to fulfil a specific purpose, clearly points to a watchmaker. An entire city of highly developed buildings insists upon the need for a developer. And even beyond the complexity of genes is the issue of the genetic information those genes contained. How does one explain a single cell leading to the Symphonies of Beethoven and plays of Shakespeare? Even unbelieving scientists are coming to see that the only rational explanation is an intelligent designer.

While many remain firmly embedded in their Darwinian beliefs, a growing number of scientists are finding it only reasonable to rule out natural selection as an explanation of the origin of life. In the mean time, Bible believers have known this all along. The Scriptures proclaim, "For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything" (Heb 3:4). Every life form exists, not by chance, but by the skillful hand of God who declares, "I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set pines in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it" (Is. 41:19,20). We read, "For this is what the LORD says-- he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other" (Is. 45:18).

When one finds a watch in the road, one realizes it was formed by the skilled hands of a watchmaker. When one happens upon ornately formed buildings, the same logic follows. When one discovers the complexity of the cell world, and the encoded language of DNA there is only one logical explanation for its existence; "God is the Builder of everything."


{1}Paley W. Natural Theology. American Tract Society, NY: 9

{2}Dawkins R. The Blind Watchmaker. W.W. Norton. London 1985

{3}Behe M. Darwin's Black Box. The Free Press. New York. 1996:213.

{4}Hoyle F, Wickramasinghe C. Evolution from Space. Dent, London, 1981.96

{5}Holye F. The Universe: Past and Present Reflections. Univ College, Cardiff, 1981.

{6}27 Davies PCW. The Accidental Universe. Cambridge Univ Press. London, 1982:118.

{7}Ibid, 28

{8}Wickramasinghe C. Threats on life of controversial astronomer. New Scientist 21 Jan 1982:140

{9}Hoyle F, Wickramasinghe C. Evolution from Space. Dent, London, 1981


{11}Moorhead PS, Kaplan MM (ed). Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution. Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia 1967:9

{12}Hayward A. Creation and Evolution. Bethany House Pub, Minneapolis MN 1995:55

© Copyright 1998, Patricia A. Mondore, M.A. and Robert J. Mondore. All rights reserved.