Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is There ‘Consilience’ With What Is Shown by Malaria?

In Previous Posts I have provided a short summary of what is contained in Prof. Behe's book entitled 'The Edge of Evolution'. The summary shows that when there is a full cell with a nucleus with complex divisions (called a eukaryotic cell) like malaria, it is difficult to make substantial changes to what the proteins of the cell do. One study relied upon Prof. Behe shows that the change rate is so slim that to even make a beneficial two-point amino acid change (i.e., where two amino acids in a protein are changed), such a mutation causes malaria to develop resistance to the best developed drug used in fighting malaria, Chloroquine. The long but not impossible odds were calculated by this published study as being 1 in 10²⁰ every time when malaria mutates. So although it is extremely unlikely for malaria to develop a resistance to Chloroquine, when it does it has disastrous consequences. A mosquito can pass along the Chloroquine resistance to an entire community, and the result is that there is Chloroquine resistance in an entire village/town. This leads to increased deaths and malaria at least temporarily, winning the battle against man. But an interesting point is that the Malarial parasite has an Achilles' heel: it won't develop in its mosquito host unless the temperatures are balmy, restricting it mainly to the tropics. And so we see that evolution has limits: it does not develop new abilities in a cell, like the ability to travel to more temperate climates (like the northern hemisphere). Malaria remains only in tropical climates where it is a fantastic killer of people. Here, evolution/ Darwinism is no help for malaria to become a truly global killer, thank God.


But Prof. Behe also has a chapter (chapter 10) describing 'Consilience'. I thought it was a cool term, so I thought I would share it with y'all. Consilience is defined by Prof. Behe as an old-fashioned synonym for concurrence. And he further describes this as when separate scientific disciplines all point in the same direction, there is a 'Consilience', and we can be more confident of the conclusion. He claims there is a Consilience of various branches of the physical sciences – physics, astronomy, chemistry, geology, molecular biology – all of which point to a purposeful design in the universe. These sciences reflect a vivid picture of a universe in which design extends from the very foundations of nature to all parts of life.


There are many examples of this discussed by Prof. Behe, the fine-tuning of the laws of physics, the molecules of life have useful properties to allow life on earth (like water molecules, for example), and the rarity of planets like we have on earth. All of the laws of science, finely tuned properties, details and events of the universe all point to our universe having been designed for life. Although Prof. Behe states that "Design isn't the only option", the evidence he provides certainly leads to that conclusion.


I will add as part of the Consilience the origin of life (OOL). There is a lot that can be said about the impossibility of life developing from non-living matter. But for now let me provide a link to an animation video of what is contained in a cell: Here is an example of why a cell is like a miniaturized factory:


  • a cell membrane with a particular, important shape;
  • inside the cell, is cytoplasm and a nucleus;;
  • every new cell is alive. They have a lifespan where they live, reproduce through cell division, and they die;
  • the cytoplasm is amazing: one cell has hundreds or even thousands of power plants (called mitochondria) that converts the chemical energy of food into a form of energy the cell can use to grow, divide and do its work;
  • the cytoplasm also have little sacs connected by membranes that act as the highways of the cell. These sacs and membranes channel the proteins throughout the cell.; (later addition, called Endoplasmic reticulum?)
  • also in the cytoplasm is the Golgi apparatus, which is the processing plant of the cell. The Golgi apparatus processes mostly the proteins in the cell. Some of the proteins are stored in small spheres, while others are transported to the cell membrane to transport to other cells;
  • also in the cytoplasm is the garbage plant (called lysosomes) that breaks down many substances. For example, in a white blood cell, the lysosomes break down harmful bacteria;
  • and you think that's complicated!, there is still more in the cytoplasm: for example, there is cytoskeleton of several types of protein rods that my encyclopedia says forms "complicated network", that forms the shape of the cell. On the outside of the structure is cilia/flagellum that contains the bundle of cytoskeleton rods that extend out of the cell, that allow the cell to swim;


It sounds like a little factory, doesn't it? It looks like someone has designed this cell. But the amazing nature of one single cell is just the beginning. Let's take a look at the cell's nucleus:


- the nucleus is the headquarters of the cell. It directs the activities of the cell.

- in the nucleus is the incredible chromosome – Human cells each have 46 chromosomes. Chromosomes are the carriers of inheritance. This is done through Genes, which are part of the DNA molecule. That was an interesting fact to me where the DNA is a single molecule. Genes control the passing on of traits from the parent cell to the offspring. Genes, of course, determines that a dog gives birth to a dog, and not a cat. The genes also determine blood type, color of eyes, and thousands of other characteristics. All inside the nucleus of one little cell.


- So DNA is part of the chromosome. As you know, DNA is where so much of scientific research is taking place. Breaking down the sequence of DNA. But DNA is just one molecule, made up of millions of atoms. And the grouping of chemicals in the DNA and its order is unique for each living creature.


- DNA's main work is to direct the production of "complicated" proteins. Most of the cell's structures are built of these proteins.


- proteins are the most abundant macromolecules in living cells. Proteins are made up of long chains (called polypeptides). And these chains are made up of small molecules called amino acids. 20 amino acids are found in proteins and the sequence is all important. Mndnfkfkewnhbfnmfmwekfkewlfkefkewlflwldelw. Did you like my illustration? Random assembly of the amino acids creates junk. Only by having the correct sequence of amino acids are the proteins made useful Just like with letters in the English language, the letters only make sense when they are put in the right order. Looks like another example of someOne's design of the cell, where proteins are brought together and made into something specific for use in the cell, right?



Bill Gates commented on the obvious: "DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we've ever created." Now Chuck Colson had an interesting comment about DNA in his How Now Shall We Live book (p. 75), where he notes: It's true that DNA is composed of ordinary chemicals (bases, sugars, phosphates) that react according to ordinary laws. But what makes DNA function as a message is not the chemicals themselves but rather their sequence, their pattern. The chemicals in DNA are grouped into molecules (called nucleotides) that act like letters in a message, and they must be in a particular order if the message is going to be intelligible…


Thanks. Let me know if you have any thoughts about this.


Anonymous said...

Yea Biology! It's exciting to see someone so interested in learning about cell biology and genetics. I just have one question: did you just type in random letters for your amino acid sequence illustration? Because you used the right starting amino acid and all the correct letters, but there was no match for the sequence in the databases. (I know, I'm a nerd).

tom wolff said...

Hi Allie,

I am glad that you found my blog. Yes, I wrote completely random letters, with no purpose or hidden meaning behind them. Thanks for checking into the sequence.

I hope that my next entry will update what Prof. Behe wrote about the incredible flagellum that was added in 'The Edge of Evolution'. I found his additional information very interesting. /s/Tom Wolff

Edward Oleander said...

Did you know that most of all that incredible genetic material in the genome is junk? It is left-over bits and pieces from when we were less evolved. You can trace the accumulation of junk-DNA by looking at present day descendents of simpler life forms. If our cells were designed, why do they have left-over crap in their DNA? As a species evolves through mutation, the old bits just keep building up, just as Evolution predicts. ID cannot account for this, or for "designs" that aren't as efficient or useful as other "designs" that accomplish the same purposes in different organisms...

tom wolff said...

Hi Ed,

Yes, it is true that Darwinism predicts that there is a great deal of "junk DNA" in the genome. But there is LOTS of recent studies that continue to show that there is not really junk DNA, and that there is more and more being learned about what this sort DNA really does. As an example, look at:

"Researchers at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins have invented a cost-effective and highly efficient way of analyzing what many have termed “junk” DNA and identified regions critical for controlling gene function. And they have found that these control regions from different species don’t have to look alike to work alike." (

Anyway, the theory that there are large parts of DNA that is useless, appears more and more to be just scientists not knowing all of the complexity of this portion of DNA.

Anonymous said...

need to check