Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Dystrophin muscle protein, another big fail for Darwinian gradualism

There was a story on the news yesterday about a new drug which apparently may help sufferers with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This is a very bad disease which like so many others is genetically determined. It's caused by a single mutation which messes up one part of one system, the result is disability and a lingering death. That’s what mutations often do, as intelligent design theory predicts. For a fuller account of the biology, Wikipedia is a good place to start, just Google on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

The Wikipedia article begins ‘Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a recessive X-linked form of muscular dystrophy, which results in muscle degeneration, difficulty walking, breathing, and death. The incidence is 1 in 3,000. Females and males are affected, though females are rarely affected and are more often carriers. The disorder is caused by a mutation in dystrophin gene, located in humans on the X chromosome (Xp21). The dystrophin gene codes for the protein dystrophin, an important structural component within muscle tissue. Dystrophin provides structural stability to the dystroglycan complex (DGC), located on the cell membrane.’ 

Lets look at those last two sentences again,

‘ The dystrophin gene codes for the protein dystrophin, an important structural component within muscle tissue. Dystrophin provides structural stability to the dystroglycan complex (DGC), located on the cell membrane.’

Sounds very complicated? That’s because it is. One ‘tiny little’ piece of a sub-system of muscle is out of place, the whole system is trashed. That seems to me to unequivocally rule out Darwinian gradualism as a cause for the interlocking and irreducibly complex system that is skeletal muscle. Darwinianism requires that random gene mutations build better structures, given time and natural selection. However, the empirical science gives us example after example of mutations causing disability and death. Natural selection may prevent Duchenne gene being passed on, but this is a conservative, not progressive, effect. Evolution requires progress, mutations are not seen to provide it.
The great question the biology of DMD raises is, how did we get working muscle tissue in the first place? Not by random DNA mutations anyway-we see them fouling the system up here, not improving it. If muscle isn't fully functional, its no use, so if it evolved, EVERY STAGE it passed through must have been fully functional. That's before we start on the integrated systems of bone, tendon, joint, blood and nerve without which the muscle is as much use as a debit card in the middle of the Sahara desert or a laptop without electricity.

One is reminded of Darwin’s test for falsification, that if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed that could not possibly have developed by many gradual changes then his theory would utterly fail. He added smugly ‘but I can find out no such case’. That would be because of his great faith, whereby any objection was met with an ‘it could have happened-I have no difficulty imagining it.'

But if the protein dystrophin is so essential to normal muscle function (which this disease proves it is), and if one small gene defect affecting this one molecular system causes a fatal disease, (as it does) how can Darwinian processes possibly account for the development of normal functioning dystrophin? In proposed Darwinian gradualism, dystrophin and the other sub systems that make up functioning muscle came about from ‘humble beginnings’ (whatever they were, Darwin had no idea-he was bluffing and confabulating) via ‘numerous gradual changes’.
Each and every one of these imagined stages from 'humble beginnings' to the fully functioning muscle we see today would have had to be at least survivable inot successful reproductive age just to avoid death, and to actually achieve evolution, would  also have to confer a selective advantage. But this example is not survivable and certainly is no improvement. A watch does not work until it is all assembled, and neither does dystrophin.

This example of one mutation messing up a highly complex fine-tuned system that was previously working well is only one of hundreds that could be quoted. Darwin’s test of falsification is satisfied not once, but by every single biochemical sub system, not one of which could possibly have been made from scratch by the unguided process of natural selection acting on random mutations. It is much more logical to propose that the things which we see in nature were designed and created.

This is  all the more so since we have the testimony of Jesus of Nazareth, whom God raised from the dead, and of whom the apostle John wrote....

'All things were made by HIm, and without Him was not anything made that was made' (John's Gospel, chapter 1)

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