Looking at Cells

Intelligent Design: That’s Shocking

I can still remember the first time I looked at a nerve cell through a microscope. I was impressed—after all, I knew firsthand the result of injuring a finger or toe—but I was not nearly as impressed as I would become years later as my scientific training progressed. From that first casual glance, I was able to identify various parts of this highly specialized cell, but that glance didn’t reveal much about how a nerve cell communicates, or how different nerve cells carry out different tasks. It was easy to forget this was a living structure. My first glimpse into just how complex this little cell was came from a textbook titled Ionic Channels of Excitable Membranes written by Bertil Hille. It was during that same semester that I enrolled in a cellular biology class and began learning about molecular machines and intracellular transportation.

The study of cells points to an intelligent designer.

The study of cells points to an intelligent designer.

Having taken biology and science classes from my undergraduate years, I was extremely familiar with the common labels of “organelles” within a cell. Not many students graduate with a degree in biology without being about to identify the nucleus of a cell, and structures such as the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria, ribosomes, and Golgi apparatus. But suddenly those labels seemed far too elementary as we began to study these structures in microscopic detail—and how they actually functioned. I spent weeks disseminating information on ion and voltage-gated channels that allow the cells to maintain a voltage gradient across the cell membrane. We examined vesicular transport and all of the proteins necessary for normal cellular activity. I had always heard of the word protein—primarily in regards to diet, but now I was learning there were countless proteins necessary just to conduct routine cellular maintenance.

And then we jumped off the deep end—into the ocean. By my third year of graduate school we had learned not only how to record electrical activity from specific nerve cells within the brain, but also what was happening to those nerve cells on the microscopic level that allowed them to pass an electric current. Our textbooks went from broad generalities about areas of the human body down to very specific physiology of a single system. For instance, we studied Douglas Junge’s classic Nerve and Muscle Excitation to fully comprehend synaptic transmission and membrane potentials. And, even though in many cases I was looking at the same type of nerve cell that I initially observed through the microscope, it was no longer just a two dimensional cell with a nucleus and an axon. I was looking at an incredible living machine that itself purposefully created specific proteins and transported them to distinct areas of the cell for specific tasks. This was a three-dimensional cell that conducted electrical current from one end to the other, and was able to pass the nerve signal on to a neighboring cell—in less than a second! I’ll never forget one of the hardest tests I took was just a single question (and lots and lots of blank paper). My professor wanted us to describe in microscopic detail what happened when a painful stimulus was felt in the leg and the leg moved. That was a test in which we were given several days to complete.

The human body is just like a massive onion in complexity. Every time you peel back an anatomical layer there is a new and even more complex layer underneath. It appears to be unending in layers. So from whence did all of this complexity arise? Is it logical to conclude that everything we see is the product of time + mutations + natural selection?

How many beneficial mutations would it take to make all of the necessary proteins for life?

That’s not even addressing the chicken/egg problem. For instance, within the cell two ribosomal subunits are required to synthesize proteins from amino acids in mRNA. Without the ribosome, proteins cannot be formed—and the cell would die. Yet, those ribosomes are made of large complex proteins themselves. How were the original proteins for the ribosome formed if protein assembly is dependent on having ribosomes present? From whence did the original ribosome originate? In thinking of the chicken vs. egg, consider which came first, the heart or lungs—the digestive system or the vascular system? Both are needed to function properly.

How do cells know to become a liver cell, blood cell, or nerve cell? How did they know which type of nerve cell to become? How did the cell know how much of each secretory protein or cargo molecules to produce? How did they acquire and store the material needed to make such molecules? How did the proteins know the proper way to fold and unfold? How did the various genes know when to turn on and off? How is each protein programmed with stop codons as polypeptide chains were forming? This is machinery far more sophisticated than the iPhone, and it can last years longer.

Anyone who evaluates the evidence with an unbiased eye is forced to admit that the only logical conclusion is that the human body—just like the Universe—demonstrates far too much complexity to have arisen by chance. It shows incredible design and purpose, and many scientists recognize it. During my scientific training, I had the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with many brilliant minds. I talked to neurosurgeons, physicists, anatomists, molecular biologists, etc.—and in almost every case, they would admit that what we were studying was far too complex to have arisen by purely evolutionary processes. However, as soon as another individual walked into the laboratory, the scientist would drop the conversation and always toe the evolutionary party line. After all, in many cases their positions were tethered to an allegiance of naturalism.

How tragic is it that thousands of young people today are growing up under the impression that evolution is a “fact” and that naturalism has an answer for everything. In many cases, they are being intimidated to repeat evolutionary dogma under the assumption that all “intellectual” people believe in evolution. The notion of anything supernatural is considered unscientific—and religion is viewed as a crutch for weak individuals. After all, no respectable scientist would ever posit a belief in some Intelligent Designer. In 1989, Richard Dawkins wrote a book review in the New York Times espousing, “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”

I think it is time someone reminded Richard Dawkins of the shoulders he is currently standing on. Dawkins has the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants who laid the foundations for the scientific fields he studied. Most of those scientific fields—currently taught in major universities—were founded by men who believed that God created everything, similar to the description given in the Bible. Did that mean these men were ignorant or stupid? Did it lessen their discoveries in the scientific community? Consider the following small sample.

Sir Isaac Newton, a man who was perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, who laid much of the groundwork in areas like physics, calculus, mathematics, astronomy, etc. He wrote strong papers refuting atheism and defending creation and the Bible.

He said, “I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever.”

Johann Kepler, a man considered by most to be the founder of the field of astronomy, who said his astronomy was thinking God’s thoughts after Him. He went on to declare, “I see how God is also gloried, by my endeavors in astronomy for the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Blaise Pascal who helped develop hydrostatics and differential calculus. He came up with the famous Pascal Wager in which he asked the question, “How can anyone lose who chooses to be a Christian?”

Samuel B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph and Morse code. The first message he sent was “What hath God wrought” (Numbers 23:23). He went on to declare, “The nearer I approach the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer is the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible …”

Robert Boyle, a man considered by most to be the father of modern chemistry. He actually conducted mission work, used his own money to translate Bibles into foreign tongues, and set up the Boyle Lectures after his death to defend the Christian religion.

James Clerk Maxwell, a mathematician and theoretical physicists who originated “Maxwell’s Equations” and developed the classical electromagnetic theory. Albert Einstein called Maxwell’s achievement the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton. During his life Maxwell mathematically refuted evolutionary “nebular hypothesis” (still being taught in many classrooms today), and scientifically refuted Darwin and other evolutionary philosophers.

These were brilliant men—men who founded many of the fields we turn to for answers today. These were individuals who conducted phenomenal science, held a belief in God, and weren’t pre-committed to naturalism. Don’t let someone tell you that belief in an Intelligent Designer is unscientific. I maintain that those who are so pre-committed to naturalism, who are able to look at the evidence of complexity and irreducible complexity and deny the handiwork of God, are either ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that). The evidence of design is unmistakable. Darwinism is the mistake.

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