2. The supposed simplicity of the cell

2. The supposed simplicity of the cell

The supposed simplicity of the cell

The supposed simplicity of the cellConsider for a moment the simple, humble bacteria. What Charles Darwin saw under a crude microscope looked quite primitive—a rounded glob of matter called "protoplasm"—and he thought it consisted of a few elementary components that could be easily assembled.

Yet today we know bacteria contain complex molecular machines, each bacterium being more like a sophisticated automobile factory with multiple robotic devices and a complex control center.

As molecular biologist Jonathan Wells and mathematician William Dembski point out: "It’s true that eukaryotic cells are the most complicated cells we know. But the simplest life forms we know, the prokaryotic cells (such as bacteria, which lack a nucleus), are themselves immensely complex. Moreover, they are every bit as high-tech as the eukaryotic cells—if eukaryotes are like state-of-the-art laptop computers, then prokaryotes are like state-of-the-art cell phones… There is no evidence whatsoever of earlier, more primitive life forms from which prokaryotes might have evolved" (How to Be an Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or Not), 2008, p. 4).

These authors then mention what these two types of cells share in terms of complexity:

• Information processing, storage and retrieval.
• Artificial languages and their decoding systems.
• Error detection, correction and proofreading devices for quality control.
• Digital data-embedding technology.
• Transportation and distribution systems.
• Automated parcel addressing (similar to zip codes and UPS labels).
• Assembly processes employing pre-fabrication and modular construction.
• Self-reproducing robotic manufacturing plants.

So it turns out that cells are far more complex and sophisticated than Darwin could have conceived of. How did mere chance produce this, when even human planning and engineering cannot? In fact, no laboratory has come close to replicating even a single human hair!


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