Intelligent Design? – The Bacterial Flagellum
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In the early nineties, Professor Phillip Johnson of the University of California, Berkeley, invited a group of scientists to Pajaro Dunes, a small beach town on the central coast of California. The scientists were from major academic centres including Cambridge, Munich, and the University of Chicago, and had gathered together in order to question a concept that had dominated science for 150 years, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Their purpose was to tackle head on the fundamental mystery of life’s origin by asking whether intelligent design was behind it.
One of the participants, Dr. Michael Behe, a biochemist at Lehigh University and author of Darwin’s Black Box, has investigated complex biological systems since 1988 that seem to defy explanation by natural selection. Behe’s skepticism arose largely from the study of life’s fundamental unit, the cell. In the 19th century when Darwin was alive, scientists thought that the basis of life, the cell, was a simple glob of protoplasm that was easy to explain. The perception of the cell didn’t really change until the 1950’s, whereupon, scientists knowledge of the cell exploded, and they learned how complex it was, with a complexity Darwin could never have imagined.
At the basis of the cell, molecular machines have been discovered, for example, little molecular trucks that carry supplies from one end of the cell to the other, and machines that capture the energy from sunlight and convert it into usable energy. These are but two of many which have individual functions. According to Dr. Behe, when asking where do the machines come from, the standard Darwinian model is inadequate in that it has no answer.
The bacterial flagellum is designed like a rotary motor, but rather than spinning at a few thousand revs per minute, the flagellum motor spins at approximately 100,000rpm. As well as this, there is no chance assembly of the parts which go to make it. The flagellum is but one instance of irreducible complexity. When it comes to cell reproduction and DNA, the situation is even more intriguing. It has been found that amino acids are unable to assemble themselves into proteins without a detailed set of instructions that is in the form of information. It is argued that this information and the assembly of proteins is the result of design, what is being referred to as Intelligent Design. The theory is in direct opposition to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Not all scientists support the theory of Intelligent Design, but it is gaining support in the scientific community. If Darwin’s theory of evolution is unable to answer crucial questions that arise from observation, then as a scientific theory, it will be consigned to the dustbin in time.
The following documentary discusses Darwin’s theory, and presents a detailed analysis of the bacterial flagellum along with a discussion on DNA and the information system represented by it. It is compelling evidence for Intelligent Design:
Tags: Intelligent Design, irreducible complexity, Natural selection