February 2, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Did Darwinism Build the Nuclear Pore Complex?

After nine years of work, three universities including a team at Rockefeller University completed a beautiful new model of the nuclear pore complex.  The story is told by Science Daily.
    The article attributed the origin of this exquisite gatekeeper of the nucleus to evolution: “their findings provide a glimpse into how the nucleus itself first evolved,” the article says.  How can this be?  The article claims that eukaryotic cells split off from the prokaryotes “when they developed a nucleus and other specialized organelles that allowed them to compartmentalize different aspects of cellular metabolism.”
    This language suggests some kind of plan or intention – certainly not what neo-Darwinian theory allows.  Nevertheless, Michael Rout of Rockefeller continued the language of planning and purpose as he described himself visualizing an evolutionary progress from earlier structures: “We think that once the cells gained this coating complex, they ran with it and started to duplicate it and specialize it.”
    As for a mechanism that could generate complexity from simplicity, Rout invoked a kind of copying and tinkering algorithm: “Evolution is a process of duplication and divergence,” he said.  Because the nuclear pore complex contains multiple copies of similar structures arranged like a wheel, he thinks this is evidence they must have formed by gene duplication, even though wheels are usually built by intelligent agents:

He and his colleagues saw clear evidence of this when they color-coded the proteins in the pore.  One method of color coding revealed alternating stripes, like spokes on a wheel: For every protein, there was another one that looked quite similar.  Color coding a different way showed the same pattern in the pore’s outer and inner rings, one of which appears to be a slightly modified duplication of the other.  These are evidence of duplication events, Rout says, showing that the evolution of the complicated nuclear pore was a more straightforward affair than previously thought.  “It’s made of many different variations of a theme of just one unit.”

In music, “Theme and Variations” pieces are usually ascribed to intelligent composers.  Strangely, as Rout continued describing the nuclear pore complex, his language shifted.  He began talking less about unguided processes, and more about engineering and detective work:

The nuclear pore is the communication device that the nucleus uses to communicate with the rest of the cell.  And if you don’t understand how that works, you don’t understand a key part of how the cell works.  And if you don’t understand that, you can’t completely understand how cancers work or how a single cell turns into a human being, or how a single grain of wheat turns into a whole crop.  You have to see the cell as a machine and understand all of its parts.

No attempt was made in the article to reconcile the apparently contradictory forms of description.

We need a new word to describe evolutionary biologists who talk like intelligent fools.  Everything they observe requires intelligent design and looks like intelligent design, but they glibly describe them as coming about from stupid, blind processes.  Somebody provide us a one-word concoction that encapsulates the apostle Paul’s description, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”  Wait: there is such a word – “sophomore.”  (Apologies to all second-year students.)  How about sophoxymoroniac?  Perfect.

Sophoxymoroniac, definition: a sophomoric (wise-fool) scientist with a mania for speaking in oxymorons (wise-foolish statements), like evolutionary design and Darwinian rationality.

    Now, we can expand our code language when describing Darwinists: you know, those sophoxymoroniacs with the fability to howl ev-illusionary mythoids in fogma.  (To decode the message, see commentaries from 05/14/2007, 05/29/2003, 07/27/2007, 12/20/2007, 01/16/2007, 05/14/2007.)
    Believing that blind duplication can produce machinery as elaborate as a nuclear pore complex (06/02/2003, 08/06/2004, 11/13/2007, 12/02/2007, bullet 2) is like believing that swirling snowflakes can produce a living snowman without a kid and a fairy godmother.  For a detailed response to the claim that gene duplication can produce new complex designs, see Jerry Bergman’s article “Does gene duplication provide the engine for evolution?” on CMI, and read Michael Behe’s latest book The Edge of Evolution – drastic measures, we know, but shock treatment is the only known cure for sophoxymoronia.

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Categories: Cell Biology, Dumb Ideas

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