Friday, October 4, 2013

Failure: How Evolutionists React

A Case Study in Protein Evolution

Proteins are highly complex molecular machines that perform essential tasks in our bodies. They also are a good example of what is wrong with evolutionary theory. The first problem with evolutionary theory is that it is unlikely. Proteins are not the first or only problem for evolution. Problems with evolution have been known since 1859 and before. But proteins provide a better, more quantitative, look at the problem than is usually available from biological designs. The second problem goes deeper into evolutionary thinking, for proteins reveal how evolutionists respond when confronted with undeniable scientific problems.

There’s no question that the human brain would have been quite a challenge to evolve from random biological change. Random mutations are not likely to have constructed it. Not in millions of years, and not in billions of years. And natural selection doesn’t help because selection does not coax the right mutations to occur. Every random mutation is, well, random. It is independent of need.

But what are the odds of evolving a brain? The chances are so astronomically against evolution that computing them is difficult. Evolution has always enjoyed this uncertainty. Darwin did not propose an idea that was just slightly unlikely. He proposed an idea that was astronomically unlikely—far beyond human comprehension. All we could say is that evolution is not a good scientific theory.

Enter proteins. They consist of a string of molecules called amino acids. Evolutionists have estimated the number of attempts that evolution could possibly have to construct a new protein. Their upper limit is 10^43 (a one followed by 43 zeros) obtained by multiplying 10^30 (cells in the world) by 10^4 (new genes generated per cell per year) by 10^9 (years). The lower limit is 10^21 obtained by multiplying 10^9 (bacteria species in the world) by 10^3 (unique sequences per species) by 10^9 (years).

While these estimates are incredibly optimistic for several reasons, we’re going by the evolutionist’s numbers. And for typical proteins, even these optimistic estimates of the number of attempts fall short by more than 27 orders of magnitude. And these deficits are according to the evolutionist’s own estimates of how many attempts would be required to find a typical protein.

One study concluded that 10^63 attempts would be required for a relatively short protein. And a similar result (10^65 attempts required) was obtained by comparing protein sequences.

Another study found that 10^64 to 10^77 attempts are required, and another study concluded that 10^70 attempts would be required. So something like 10^70 attempts are required yet only 10^43 attempts are possible. Even with these unrealistically conservative numbers provided by studies done by evolutionists, there is a shortfall of 27 orders of magnitude. Of course the real shortfall is much greater.

The numbers don’t add up. Proteins reveal scientific problems for evolution. What is interesting is how evolutionists react to these problems.

One professor once told me that these sorts of “problems” don’t count because they come from evolutionists. This is a common response. If the protein results posed scientific problems, then why are those researchers still evolutionists? But evolution is not a theory that is allowed to be wrong. Evolutionists blackball, ostracize and reject anyone who doesn’t go along with their belief. Breaking rank carries a considerable cost.

Furthermore, when it is creationists or IDs who make such findings, they are criticized for having a religious bias. So evolution is fully protected. If an evolutionist presents problems for evolution, then the problems don’t count because the person is an evolutionist. If a non evolutionist presents problems for evolution, then the problems don’t count because the person is not an evolutionist.

Another response from evolutionists, and one often proposed by those evolutionists reporting on negative results, is that the problem will be solved by future research. Problems are always cast as “research problems” not as theory problems. And future research, one way or another, will solve the problem. Evolutionists understand what conclusions are allowed and not allowed.

It is of course true that future studies may solve the problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if potential avenues of protein evolution are discovered in the future (but that would present the even more profound problem of how matter and natural law just happened to be arranged so as to produce such unlikely molecular machines). On the other hand, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the results go in the opposite direction.

In fact, future research may reveal all kinds of things. Future research, for example, may continue to refute evolution. Who knows what future research will find. It is simply a misrepresentation of science to cast the results as consistent and supportive of evolution, with merely some details to be addressed by future research. This just isn't what science is telling us right now.

It is what it is. We know what science is telling us. We need to honestly acknowledge the science. Future findings may always reveal something different, but that may or may not happen. One can either acknowledge the facts of science, or live in denial.


  1. Let's take a closer look at Axe, Estimating the prevalence of protein sequences adopting functional enzyme folds, Journal of Molecular Biology 2004.

    Axe: Figure 9 illustrates two possible ways for functional
    sequences to appear relatively common when a very low functional threshold is used.

    Leaving aside problems with the experiment, the experiment doesn't address which of the two landscapes is most representative of nature. He suggests the latter is more plausible, but the study itself doesn't provide the answer. Furthermore, while there is evidence that protein landscapes are, indeed, rugged, such landscapes can often be traversed by recombination.

    Axe: The fact that peptides too small to fold may bind ligands, and even show some catalytic activity, shows that these functions do not necessarily imply folded structure

    This undercuts his argument completely, because if primitive structures can exhibit catalytic activity, then there is no reason life couldn't coop these functions, then improve them over time.

  2. Replies
    1. Not sure what you imagine you are "traversing" if they are similar enough to go through a Holliday junction.