September 24, 2008 | David F. Coppedge

Designed for Health

Recent science reports on physiology and health contain suggestions of intelligent design as well as challenges to evolutionary theory.

  1. “Amazingly elegant, amazingly precise and very complicated” kidneys:  Scientists studying the effects of hypertension on kidneys have found that ATP acts not only as an energy source but an extracellular messenger.  It’s involved in helping arterioles constrict to the right size in the glomeruli where the filtering of blood plasma takes place.  According to Science Daily, one team member who is “trying to figure out how this all fits together” was struck by the “amazingly elegant, amazingly precise and very complicated” processes involved.
  2. Bee nice:  The thought of a bee sting makes us shiver, but honeybee venom contains a molecule scientists can use to study hypertension.  Science Daily reported that a molecule called terpianin can restrict the flow of potassium ions out of a particular membrane channel.  This may allow medicines to adjust the level of salt reabsorption by kidney cells, and thus treat high blood pressure.
  3. Got stem cells?  Scientists have found a source of multipotent stem cells right on the cell walls of blood vessels.  Science Daily reported that these adult stem cells apparently have the “unlimited potential to differentiate into human tissues such as bone, cartilage and muscle.”  Advances in regenerative medicine are within sight with this discovery.  One researcher described what may be soon be possible: “These cells can be extracted easily and painlessly from convenient sources such as fat tissue, dental pulp, umbilical cord and placental tissue, then grown in culture to large numbers and, possibly, re-injected into the patient to heal a broken bone, a failing joint or an injured muscle.”  The ingredients have been right inside you all along.
  4. Clear eyes:  “Every tissue has evolved unique adaptations that allow it to perform specialized functions.” began a paper in PNAS.1  “Such adaptations are especially evident in the lens of the mammalian eye, where many of the usual cellular metabolic pathways have been sacrificed to achieve one overriding goal: transparency.”  The paper explained that one of the aquaporins (membrane water channels, 12/20/2001, 04/18/2002) in lens cells acts slower than others in its family.  That slow flow in aquaporin AQP0, though, has a function: “We hypothesize that the structural features leading to low permeability may have evolved in part to allow AQP0 to form junctions that both conduct water and contribute to the organizational structure of the fiber cell tissue and microcirculation within it, as required to maintain transparency of the lens.”

Of the four reports, only the last mentioned evolution.  The authors did not explain, however, how evolution produced the adaptation: they only assumed that since the “unique adaptations” that are “especially evident” in the lens cells they studied, they must have evolved that way: e.g., “Specifically, we suggest that this low permeability may be an evolutionary adaptation that allows AQP0 to promote intimate cell adhesion by forming mechanically stable junctions.”  Again, “Thus, low permeability may represent an evolutionary adaptation that allows AQP0 to play a dual role in water transport and cellular adhesion.”
    Moreover, the authors pointed out that two particular amino acid substitutions are “conserved [i.e., unevolved] throughout most of vertebrate evolution”.  Birds have just one of the amino acid substitutions, but they are higher up the presumed evolutionary tree than frogs.  This means the other substitution would have had to revert backward if evolution had occurred.  Furthermore, the authors did not consider the possibility that the slight sequence difference in birds might provide a functional adaptation for their aquaporins to support vision while flying.

1.  Jensen, Dror, Xu, Borhani, Arkin, Eastwood, and Shaw, “Dynamic control of slow water transport by aquaporin 0: Implications for hydration and junction stability in the eye lens,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, published online before print September 11, 2008, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0802401105.

The references to evolution in the PNAS paper are useless.  As is so typical, the Darwinspeak provides only an aftermarket narrative gloss on the scientific content so as to preserve the philosophy of naturalism.  Evolution doesn’t perform any function in the body of scientific knowledge.  It’s like a tumor.  Human brains and science will be much healthier after undergoing a radical Darwinectomy.*

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