Peer-reviewed paper in medical journal challenges Darwinian evolution

Casey Luskin explains over at Evolution News.

Summary: (links removed)

A new article by Dr. Joseph Kuhn of the Department of Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center, appearing in the peer-reviewed journal Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, poses a number of challenges to both chemical and biological evolution. Titled “Dissecting Darwinism,” the paper begins by recounting some of the arguments raised during the Texas State Board of Education debate that challenged chemical and biological evolution. Those challenges include:

1. Limitations of the chemical origin of life data to explain the origin of DNA
2. Limitations of mutation and natural selection theories to address the irreducible complexity of the cell
3. Limitations of transitional species data to account for the multitude of changes involved in the transition.

(Joseph A. Kuhn, “Dissecting Darwinism,” Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings, Vol. 25(1): 41-47 (2012).)

It’s a good little introduction to where the action is on the origins debate but regular readers will have read it all before.

But there was one thing I found interesting.

The naturalistic response to this paper:  (links removed)

The journal also published a rebuttal to Dr. Kuhn by Charles Stewart Roberts, a cardiovascular surgeon in Virginia. Dr. Roberts’s rebuttal simply asserted, as if it were a truth that required no scientific backing, that all biological features could be produced by evolution:

The notion of “irreducible complexity” in a cell, as an argument against evolution, is beyond my present understanding. Knowing that life has existed on planet earth for billions of years, however, I suspect that there has been time enough for evolution, no matter how complex, with reducibility.

I was having a debate with an atheist on Facebook and this guy did nothing but duck and dodge by citations of peer-reviewed evidence, like the paper from December 2011 on the oxygen in the early Earth’s atmosphere, which destroys naturalistic origin of life scenarios. My favorite of his speculations was when he responded to the Big Bang cosmology by saying “one can easily envision a scenario in which the universe has existed eternally”. Or something like that. Atheists – always easily envisioning things that are falsified by the available experimental evidence.

Casey comments on Roberts’ “rebuttal”: (links removed)

We’ve addressed this sort of unsophisticated and poorly articulated argument in defense of defending Darwinian evolution many times. You can’t just vaguely appeal to vast and unending amounts of time (and other probabilistic resources) and assume that Darwinian evolution can produce anything “no matter how complex.” Rather, you have to demonstrate that sufficient probabilistic resources exist to produce the feature.

Rather than making assumptions, proponents of intelligent design ask what the Darwinian mechanism can, or cannot, do. For example, a 2010 peer-reviewed research paper by pro-ID scientist Doug Axe modeled a population of evolving bacteria, and found that there are severe limits on the ability of Darwinian evolution to produce multi-mutation features. (A multi-mutation feature is one that requires multiple mutations to be present before there is any advantage given to the organism.)

Axe’s research makes assumptions very generously favoring Darwinian evolution. He assumed the existence of a huge population of asexually reproducing bacteria that could replicate quickly — perhaps nearly 3 times per day — over the course of billions of years. But he found that complex adaptations requiring more than six neutral mutations would exhaust the probabilistic resources available over the entire history of the earth.

[…]Axe’s work suggests that we cannot assume, as Roberts does, that sufficient probabilistic resources exist to produce all the features we see in life, “no matter how complex.” Indeed, follow-up research by Axe and Ann Gauger suggests that many features might require more mutations before conferring an advantage than could arise in the history of the earth. Their 2011 study attempted to convert one protein into another, closely related protein — the kind of transformation that evolutionists claim happened easily in the history of life. Through mutational analysis, they found that a minimum of seven independent mutations — and probably many more — would be necessary to convert the protein and its function into that of its allegedly close relative.

Evolutionary theory certainly can explain some things. It works up to a point. But there is only so much time available, so much material to react, and so many reactions per second. Hand-waving is not going to prove the neo-Darwinian hypothesis. It’s going to take published experimental results. Like the results of Doug Axe and Ann Gauger.

Oh by the way, there’s another peer-reviewed article confirming the inability of naturalistic mechanisms to create first life discussed on Evolution News. (David L. Abel, “Is Life Unique?,” Life, Vol. 2:106-134 (2012)). I can’t blog on all of them!

12 thoughts on “Peer-reviewed paper in medical journal challenges Darwinian evolution”

  1. Definitely will read the Kuhn paper. Downloaded the pdf so should be nice nighttime reading.

    I think the Abel paper will pose a good challenge to your skills. It has sentences like:

    “Only purposeful choice contingency at bona fide decision nodes can rescue from eventual deterioration the organization and function previously programmed into physicality.”


  2. Hey WK, ID proponents often claim that DNA contains information on par with a language of sorts, but isn’t it qualitatively different from things like human language and mechanical designs? Instead of communicating thoughts and ideas, doesn’t it just react chemically to produce certain effects?

    Aren’t you assuming that because DNA produces these effects (for instance, proteins) that it was *designed* to do so?


    1. Amino acid scequences and protein sequences do not communicate ideas, they have biological function in the cell. So just like a nonsense sequence of letters communicates nothing, a random selection of amino acids or proteins in a sequence will not perform a task. The analogy to programming a computer is better. There, the sequence has programmatic function if the sequence is selected intelligently by a designer. Same with amino acids and proteins.


  3. OK, I get that a particular sequence of DNA may produce a particular protein, and that some other sequence may produce nothing at all, but how do you then draw the conclusion that the order was selected by a designer?

    Are you saying that the first sequence is non-random simply because it produces something? How do you know that the designer intended the thing it produces?


    1. Let’s rephrase what you said:

      OK, I get that a particular sequence of characters may produce a functional Java program, and that some other sequence of characters may fail to compile and run, but how do you then draw the conclusion that the order of characters was selected by a computer programmer?

      Are you saying that the first program is non-random simply because it compiles and runs and performs a useful function? How do you know that the programmer intended the functionality it produces?

      You need to understand how hard it is to get a functioning sequence of amino acids. Even a sequence of 200 amino acids that performs a function is fantastically improbable. Not only must each character be left-handed, not right-handed. It must be in the correct order. And the bond between each character must be a peptide bond,and not any other kind of bond. All of these conditions must obtain. If any of these conditions is wrong for any character, the sequence will not function.

      Before we continue, please read this article, and state the scientific term that refers to the “handedness” of an amino acid:


  4. Even a sequence of 200 amino acids that performs a function is fantastically improbable.

    Absolutely true and absolutely irrelevant.
    “Life” must have started with something much simpler.
    4 billion years is a long time. And the first 3.5 billion years left very little to be discovered in the fossil record.


    1. Ok so what I got there was an appeal to “something much simpler”. A protein is a collection of amino acids, and amino acids are the building blocks of life. What specifically is simpler than a chain of amino acids?

      Secondly, the article shows that even reacting trying random strings of amino acids at the fastest possible reaction rate, using all the particles in the entire universe, for the entire history of the universe (15 billion years, not 4.5 billion years), you are unlikely to get even 1 protein. But the simplest life, in order to perform minimal life functions, requires MANY different proteins.


  5. There hasn’t been 4.5 billion years for evolution on earth as evolutionists claim. In the time that earth has existed, there have been several ELE’s; collisions with other space objects, “snowball earth” events, pole shifting etc., that shorten the time considerably for humans to have evolved from amino acids.


    1. You’re right. I just keep giving them more time to be generous – but it doesn’t help them. The Hadean era ends at 3.9 billion years ago and signatures of the first life appears at 3.86 billion years ago. That’s a difference of 40 million years. That’s the real time period, ignoring any extinction events like those you listed.


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