Oddities in Nature That Defy Evolution

When Darwin proposed his famous theory back in 1859, he was aware that one of the glaring weaknesses of his speculations was how to explain complex features in animals by small and gradual evolutionary steps. He admitted, "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" (The Origin of Species, Masterpieces of Science edition, p. 149).

About 150 years later, research has provided numerous examples in nature in which complex organs in animals could not have developed by small, successive steps. From molecular science on up, many complex systems had to appear simultaneously, with all their components intact, or they would not function, thus offering no survival advantage.

Professor Michael Behe explains: "It was once expected that the basis of life would be exceedingly simple. That expectation has been smashed. Vision, motion, and other biological functions have proven to be no less sophisticated than television cameras and automobiles. Science has made enormous progress in understanding how the chemistry of life works, but the elegance and complexity of biological systems at the molecular level have paralyzed science's attempt to explain their origins" (Darwin's Black Box, 1998, p. x).

Indeed, at every level, the complexity of life and its stunning array of functionality defies evolution.

The bombardier beetle's chemical weapon

One example of this kind of biological complexity is the bombardier beetle's defense system. It has so many essential parts and chemicals that if any are missing, the whole system will not work. Moreover, if everything did not work just right, the deadly chemical mixture inside the beetle would prove fatal rather than favorable.

The tiny beetle, less than an inch long, appears as a tasty morsel for many types of animals. But as they near the beetle to gobble it up,

50 Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?

50 Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?

they suddenly find themselves sprayed with a scalding and noxious solution that forces them to beat a fast retreat. How can this unassuming insect produce such a complex and effective defense system?

The components making up the beetle's effective chemical warfare have been analyzed by chemists and biologists down to the molecular level. When the beetle senses danger, it secretes two chemicals, hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, that end up in a storage chamber inside its body. By tensing certain muscles, it moves the chemicals to another compartment, called the explosion chamber.

But, just as a loaded cannon will not go off without some sort of ignition device, so these two chemicals will not explode without the right catalyst being added. Inside the beetle's body, this catalyst is injected into the explosion chamber. As a result, a boiling hot and toxic liquid is spewed out of the beetle's rear toward the threatening predator's face. All three chemical elements and chambers have to exist for this powerful defense system to work.

How could such a complex system evolve by gradual steps? With only the two chemicals mixing, nothing happens. But when the catalyst is added in the proper amount and at the right time, the beetle is equipped with an amazing chemical cannon. Could all these components appear by a gradual, step-by-step process?

Francis Hitching comments on the bombardier beetle's defense system: "The chain of events that could have led to the evolution of such a complex, coordinated and subtle process is beyond biological explanation on a simple step-by-step basis. The slightest alteration in the chemical balance would result immediately in a race of exploded beetles. The problem of evolutionary novelties is quite widely accepted among biologists ... In every case, the difficulty is compounded by the lack of fossil evidence. The first time that the plant, creature, or organ appears, it is in its finished state, so to speak" (The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 68).

Nevertheless, evolutionist Richard Dawkins tries to dismiss the complex features of the bombardier beetle by simply saying: "As for the evolutionary precursors of the system, both hydrogen peroxide and various kinds of quinones are used for other purposes in body chemistry. The bombardier beetle's ancestors simply pressed into different service chemicals that already happened to be around. That's often how evolution works" (The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, p. 87).

This is not a convincing explanation at all for Dr. Behe, who has studied this beetle's components down to their molecular level. "Daw-kins' explanation for the evolution of the system," he says, "rests on the fact that the system's elements 'happened to be around' ... But Dawkins has not explained how hydrogen peroxide and quinones came to be secreted together at very high concentration into one compartment that is connected ... to a second compartment that contains enzymes necessary for the rapid reaction of the chemicals" (Behe, p. 34).

Now that the whole defense system of the beetle has been thoroughly studied, even if the chemicals "happened to be around," this elaborate chemical cannon would not work without everything from the molecular level up working together and at exactly the right time. Dawkins' argument is as absurd as saying that if gunpowder, a fuse, a barrel and a cannonball "happened to be around," eventually they would assemble themselves, with the ingredients carefully loaded in the right sizes and proportions, and then go off at the right direction without blowing themselves up somewhere along the way. No, all the components had to be carefully and intelligently arranged in order to function.

Professor Behe notes: "Some evolutionary biologists—like Richard Dawkins—have fertile imaginations. Given a starting point, they almost always can spin a story to get to any biological structure you wish . . . Science, however, cannot ultimately ignore relevant details, and at the molecular level all the 'details' become critical. If a molecular nut or bolt is missing, then the whole system can crash" (p. 65).

Astounding bird migrations

Consider another enormous biological complexity—how birds, such as certain storks, ducks, geese and robins, gained the ability to navigate accurately across thousands of miles of previously unknown territory and land in exactly the right zone and at the right time of year to feed and breed. Then, when winter ends in the northern hemisphere, they fly thousands of miles back and arrive safely in their same nesting grounds.

Homing experiments have revealed that these birds have inherited the ability to map their location using the stars by night and the sun by day. They subconsciously process astronomical data and gauge the altitude, latitude and longitude to fly unerringly to a predetermined place. They have an internal clock and calendar to let them know when to start and finish their migrations. Perhaps what is most

52 Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?

52 Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe?

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