Friday, May 15, 2009

The Evolution of Venomous Proteins

Imagine a Star Trek movie in which two strikingly similar planets are discovered. The planets are in different corners of the universe, yet their coastlines, mountain ranges, inhabitants and cultures are amazingly alike. Or again, imagine a new, yet fully-formed, planet is discovered. The planet was not there a few years earlier, but there it is, complete with inhabitants and civilizations. These two phenomena--convergence and rapid appearance--are common in biology and, needless to say, they contradict evolutionary expectations. These surprises are not often seriously reckoned with. Evolutionists do not engage the implications of these findings, and sometimes they even avoid or deny the findings altogether.

To explain convergence and rapid appearance evolutionists tack on unlikely and complex explanations to their their theory. These epicycles are, themselves, a sort of measure of the truth value of a theory. A large number of epicycles suggests the theory is merely a tautology--a description of what we observe rather than an explanation of an underlying fundamental aspect of nature. A recent study of animal venom is the latest example of this pattern of epicycles and denial.

The study compared toxic proteins across a wide spectrum of species. These molecular assassins are cleverly designed. In World War II, the Allies bombed German ball bearing factories as a way of disabling its larger war machine. Obviously such a strategy required detailed knowledge of the war machine, how it works, the single point failures, where they are located, how they can be disabled, and so forth. Similarly, these biological toxins are finely tuned to disable crucial processes, such as the conversion of food energy to chemical energy, or the nervous system to paralyze the prey. Beyond vague speculation, evolutionists have no explanation for how such finely tuned toxins could have evolved.

Beyond the problem of how such designs evolved, these toxic proteins also reveal patterns of convergence and rapid appearance. Evolutionists are trying to figure out how very different types of animals have such similar venomous proteins. And some of the proteins appear to be completely new, as there are no known proteins in biology that share any significant degree of similarity. This implies a massive degree of evolutionary change in a relatively short period of time (something the study fails to mention), ending with a finely tuned molecular machine.

How can evolutionists present such findings within their framework? A common literary device in the evolution genre is the use of teleological language, such as "evolution designed the hemoglobin molecule to perform several important functions." Of course evolutionists do not literally mean that evolution consciously designed anything. Their teleological language is useful shorthand. Useful because it masks the absurdity of the notion that the blind, unguided process of evolution stumbles upon incredibly complex designs, again and again.

And so, not surprisingly, in this study the evolutionists use a plethora of teleological language in their peer reviewed paper. The reader is told, for example, that the study "confirms that convergent protein recruitment" spans all major animal phyla. We also learn that "the proteins chosen" in the evolutionary process are from widely dispersed protein families. Such literary devices are ubiquitous in the evolution genre and crucial to maintaining a credible narrative.