October 30, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Crystal Power Is Not Evolution

What would Max Planck think?  The Institute named after him put out a press release, “Evolution in the Nanoworld,” that claims that synthetic molecules can organize themselves by an evolutionary principle of selection:

The automatic molecular assembly and selection steps exhibited by the molecules, which start as random mixtures, demonstrates a fundamental step in the evolution of life.  The organization is activated by instructions which are built-in to the molecules.  During assembly, molecules exhibit active selection: those in incorrect positions move to make room for others which fit properly.  The molecular-level observation of such self-selection gives, for the first time, direct insight into fundamental steps of the biological evolution from inanimate molecules to living entities.

Dr. Klaus Kern added, “The ability of molecules to selectively sort themselves in highly organized structures is a fundamental requirement for all molecular based systems, including biological organisms.”  Yet it becomes clear from reading the details that the researchers at the Max Planck Institute had pre-programmed the molecules to assemble into the patterns:

Dr. Mario Ruben’s research team at KIT [Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, a partner in the research] is responsible for designing molecules with built-in instructions, which when read out activate the self-selection process.  He comments: “Spontaneous ordering from random mixtures only occurs when built-in instructions are carefully designed and sufficiently strong to initiate successful self-selection.

So this was a form of determinism, like crystallization, not natural selection.  Also, the resulting structures lacked any significant coded information content as in the genetic code.  Genetic instructions are different from molecular “built-in instructions,” because they can be translated and conveyed in ways that do not depend on the particular molecules used.
    Any analogy to living organization was further stretched by the fact that they used highly specialized conditions unlike anything in a plausible prebiotic scenario: “The molecules are placed on ultra-clean metal surfaces and heated gently to enable motion, sorting, and organization,” the press release said.  Furthermore, the molecules, once locked in place, were incapable of further evolution.

Note: The following commentary should not be perceived as anti-research.  On the contrary: we want a return to rational science that follows the evidence and avoids making preposterous metaphysical claims.  The press release contained an escape clause: “The resulting nanostructures also hold great promise as an efficient avenue to new catalysts, nanotechnologies, and surface applications.”  Great!  Focus on those goals, without the evolutionary nonsense, and you can get positive vibes here.  The evolution-talk has absolutely nothing to do with the nanotechnology.  Like a parasite, it only hangs on and saps the energy.
    OK, what is wrong here?  Making a connection from this research to the origin of life is so far-fetched, it is patently absurd.  ID people and creationists have been pointing out for decades the difference between the biological genetic code and crystallization, but no creationist should be required – the fallacy should be obvious to any thinking person, especially a scientist.  A grade-school child could understand the difference between a snowflake and a book.
    Notice that these researchers are esteemed men at Germany’s highest ranking research institute.  We’re not talking about intellectual slouches here.  This is the degree of absurdity you get in scientific reasoning and explanation when science becomes so entrenched in a materialistic paradigm it is incapable of thinking outside of it.  These guys have chained themselves in Plato’s fun-house, thinking the warped mirrors represent reality.
    Meanwhile, the incorrigible Darwinists at Univ. of Georgia are still at it, according to EurekAlert, thinking abiotic adenine is a step toward the origin of life (see 10/22/2007 entry), and EurekAlert gives them full court press.
    How do you get scientists to stop making absurd claims?  Two suggested therapies: (1) shame, and if that doesn’t work, (2) cut off the funding.  If the mad scientists still won’t change their evil ways, well, then we have Max Planck’s own view on scientific progress.  The renowned physicist, a Christian through his life, once quipped, “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”  ID needs about 30 more years for the attrition in the Darwin Party to clear the field.  (And the air.)

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