Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evolution vs. Design: Score One for Darwin

Evolution vs. Design: Score One for Darwin

The debate between those who believe that all the living things in the
universe are the result of a chain of purely random events, and those who believe that some things are too complicated for random chance to design them, has just, very quietly, been given a nudge in the direction of order arising out of random chaos. While this Great Question is one that will not, by its very nature, be actually solved to everyone's satisfaction, a little-remarked discovery that will appear in an article in tomorrow's edition of the journal Nature might shine a bit of light on the controversy.

The crux of the argument for Intelligent Design, at least for those who do not believe that the Designer has the other qualities we would attribute to an all-powerful, all-seeing God, is the very complication and organization that would be needed to transform a puddle of chemicals into a living cell. The Darwinists have answered this objection with a melange of theories which postulate some sort of counterintuitive process that establishes order out of chaos, something they call the theory of self-organization,. Sometimes. More usually, they attempt to conflate I.D. with creationism, and then rail against belief in a diety (As the Enlightened Caveman did last year).

This debate has devolved into one in which both sides are dug in, and will defend their side with religious fervor. But for those of us who have not really taken a side in this one, a piece of evidence has emerged that puts some weight into the random chance camp's argument. I wonder if anyone (besides us) will notice.

It seems that an object of galactic size has been discovered that takes the form of a double helix. That is, the very same form as a DNA molecule. Which is the very molecule that is the difference between a puddle of chemicals and a living cell. Moreover, the scientists that made this discovery have a theory that describes how magnetic fields work to create this specific type of order upon this chaotic system. Now, do not expect astronomers to draw connections between the macro world of the Cosmos and the micro world of Biology, but the rest of us are free to allow our imaginations to roam. If a specific magnetic process orders suns as they are being sucked into a black hole into a double helix, then there might be other, similar processes that will order molecules of acids into the very same shape. Not random at all. To this we might add that recent discoveries show that, more than four billion years ago, before the primordial Earth had a breathable atmosphere, it was infested with abundant bacterial life.

That sort of ups the ante, doesn't it?