Saturday, June 18, 2011

Biology's Big Bangs

A well known sports announcer frequently punctuates his NBA basketball broadcasts with the exclamatory “Bang!” Mike Breen repeats this amusing figure of speech to report a successful shot from “beyond the arc,” taken from a minimum distance of 22 ft to 23 ft 9 in. A basket from there scores three points for the team. “Bang!” highlights the drama of the event and the sudden change it sometimes produces in the game’s direction. This exciting shot contrasts with “free throws” which are worth only one point and result in a slow change of score.

The “Bang” sports metaphor is reminiscent of the “Big Bang,” theorized to be the Genesis 1:1 initial universal creation event bringing forth the existence of time, space, matter, and energy. In 2007 Eugene V. Koonin, Senior Investigator for the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) wrote a peer reviewed article in Biology Direct entitled “The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution.”

Koonin’s thesis poses an analogy “to the scenario of the origin of universes in the eternal inflation version of modern cosmology.” The term inflation in this context refers to the theorized “exponential expansion” in the earliest moments of our universe’s existence, and explains certain characteristics of our presently still-expanding universe as it has unfolded since that initial moment.

In the scope of the non-scientist’s inquiry into the truth of evolution, these esoteric issues are obscured in a blizzard of propaganda, such as, “Get on board with science!” Most laymen have no idea what that emotionally charged imperative means, because many origins issues are concealed within a philosophical smokescreen. That same smokescreen hides much embarrassing data about the history of life on earth--data which deflect us from the evolutionary model and tilt us instead toward belief in a supernatural creation model.

Dr. Koonin’s article is a candid admission of a startling historical phenomenon--a prickly problem evolutionists prefer did not exist. Major changes in earth life did not occur gradually; they occurred suddenly with no intermediate forms. This is a hallmark of the entire fossil record of past life on this earth--not a characteristic of theorized evolutionary sequences but rather, a predicted consequence of creation events. It is an unparalleled mystery from the standpoint of evolutionary theory. Quoted below is Koonin’s introductory paragraph:

Background: Major transitions in biological evolution show the same pattern of sudden emergence of diverse forms at a new level of complexity. The relationships between major groups within an emergent new class of biological entities are hard to decipher and do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s original proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla. In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal “types” seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate “grades” or intermediate forms between different types are detectable…”

How did the scientific community receive this startling confirmation of data long recognized but not much discussed in the evolutionary context? That depends on the individual worldview of members of that community. Fazale Rana from Reasons to Believe and Paul Nelson on Michael Behe’s Uncommon Descent blog, among others, highlighted Koonin’s article from a creationist perspective. The evolutionary community reacted with stunned disbelief, exemplified by self-described “skeptical biochemist” Lawrence A. Moran in his Sandwalk blog. Committed evolutionists have little trouble adhering to their paradigm.

Is Eugene V. Koonin a closet creationist? No, he is not. He is a committed evolutionist as are almost all in the field of bioscience. Edward O. Wilson, Harvard biologist, has stated, “People would rather believe than know.” Wilson’s statement makes an interesting study as we remember that the root meaning of science is knowledge. Readers are encouraged to make a deeper study of the precepts of belief, knowledge, and truth and how they relate to each other in terms of our core beliefs about reality, including creation events and earth history.