So @Shekar requested if I might share my own reasons for remaining so skeptical of the larger Darwinian evolution theory, and of EC, and why I am still sympathetic to ID. Here’s my initial outline of my thoughts, apologies in advance for the length. I’ll split this into a few initial posts to better organize. I welcome any additional thoughts, but this is mainly to answer his questions:
So first, a bit of background - I was exposed to traditional creationism / creation science when I was in high school (beyond that I was taught the standard Darwinian model and had never doubted it). Now I found creationism interesting, but I remained skeptical of it, critical and skeptical as I tend to be - one person I heard going on about the “odds” of even a single protein forming by chance… but that observation didn’t impress me much at the time - I remember thinking, “Sure, and winning the lottery is a ridiculous long shot as well, but if you have enough tries or enough people playing then someone is almost certainly going to win eventually. Given enough time and chances…” Also I remember being struck by the complexity of life that was shared with me by these folks, but still was aware of the competing theory’s responses: “Sure, such and such is complicated, but it didn’t need to happen all at once… minute variations, assisted by natural selection, little by little, over a very long period of time…” So I remained skeptical. But given maybe my skeptical (or tentative, or at best “humble”?) nature, I wasn’t sold as a devotee to either of those approaches. I think I kept a, “Let’s wait and see” approach for myself.
In college, though, when I started my Biology/Biochemistry major… I Began to get blown away by a few things:
–The RIDICULOUSLY intricate, detailed, programmed, multi-layered, molecular machinery and database of DNA,RNA,Ribosomes, & Protein Synthesis. Up to that point, I’d heard creationists talk about how complex we are. I had no idea we were talking this kind of complexity. I remember at the time being utterly blown away by that system. I had done lots of computer work previous to this, and recognized this design as being akin to that. I MEAN, THIS IS A FREAKIN’ DIGITAL 3D PRINTER! You have a (Read Only) essentially digital database, a system to read the data, transfer that data to the mechanical “printing” system, and then this ridiculously brilliant system for essnetially decoding, then identifying and utilizing the exact amino acids in order to properly sequence them. The whole system is more brilliant than anything I had ever come up with. It struck me that if mankind were given the task, given only what we know about molecular/organic chemsitry, to come up with a system that could keep a database of 1000 proteins and be able to transcribe and “print” them… it would prove an impossible task for us. Then the line I’d heard about somehow organic matter getting zapped by electricity or thermal vents or sunlight, then just somehow getting formed into these processes began to move for me into the realm of high fantasy. I realized in this process almost immediately after I understood it that it had something about it that came to be known later as “irreducable complexity”. I hadn’t heard the term or the concept before that, but I instinctively recognized that. For the system to work, you needed DNA. You needed RNA (and the process by which it gets copied). You needed a coordinated/coded system somehow for the tRNA to latch onto very, very specific amino acids (and only those) for the entire system to work; and then you need a very, very, very, very specifically shaped and designed ribosome in order to make the system work. You needed ALL of these to get anything. This is years before Behe’s first book, but I recognized what came to be known as “irreducable complexity.”
Beyond that, we did the standard biology 101 experiments on evolving fruit flies… and I studied the various “interesting” mutations that can occur, and started to realize they are either very small and pretty insignificant e.g., eye color (though perhaps would give an advantage to survival), or atrocious (like legs growing where the eyes should have been), but never seemed to be something one could ever start growing a new organism with.
Finally, what in my background started to increase my skepticism… one of my professors had done significant work with mutations and shared with us that he considered it impossible that mutations could have much to do with evolution - now he was an absolute Darwin devotee, but he shared that in all his work and knowledge, mutations just don’t do what is necessary. He attributed nearly all of evolutionary change to population genetics. It didn’t take me long to realize, though, that population genetics have an effect on changing what already exists in the genes, but it isn’t going to “invent” something new. I had a long talk with him about this, and it essentially ended with him acknowledging that, for his understanding to work, the DNA for every elephant, dolphin, spider, sea cucumber, and human would probably have had to have been present in that first cell, and population genetics just kept shifting all that information to get where we are today. I found it absolutely ludicrous, but he was happy to believe that. It was then that I started to wonder if the proverbial emporer in fact were wearing any clothes.