Biological Complexity in Living Organisms

Biological Complexity in Living Organisms compares to Moore's Law by Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore – The background is a magnified diagram of the complex layout of a microchip.

Those who advocate for naturalistic evolution have a problem. Well, they have more than one, but this one is a math problem. In a publication on the National Institutes of Health’s Pub Med website, Alexei A. Sharov presents a dilemma for evolutionists. Simply stated, the size of the genome indicates biological complexity in living organisms, while macro-evolution requires exponential growth to achieve that biological complexity.

Perhaps this will be easier to understand if we relate it to Moore’s Law in semiconductor technology. In 1965, Gordon Moore of Fairchild Semiconductors and Intel projected that the number of components in each integrated circuit would double yearly. In 1975, the prediction was revised to every two years. It took on the quality of a “law” as the semiconductor industry used it as their target for planning production. Moore’s Law has led to technological changes that produced economic growth and social change. The point is that doubling the complexity of electronic technology means a logarithmic increase in versatility, as we have seen over the years.

Alexei Sharov applied that principle to evolution based on the exponential growth in biological complexity. Using the exponential increase in biological complexity in living organisms as a guide, it is possible to go backward in evolutionary time to see when life began. If the exponential hypothesis is true, tracing back in time, the origin of life would have been ten billion years ago. That is how long it would take for the genome to evolve to its present complexity in mammals. No evolutionist or other scientist believes our planet is that old. That presents a math problem for naturalistic evolution.

So, what do Sharov and others propose as the solution? They call it “panspermia,” meaning that life came to Earth from outer space. Nobel Prize winners Fred Hoyle and Francis Crick were advocates for panspermia. However, most evolutionary scientists reject it. Perhaps there is a better way to explain the fact that naturalistic evolution does not fit into Earth’s timeline. The solution, soundly rejected by Hoyle and Crick, is the idea of a Creator outside of time and space who designed the universe and life and put us on this planet for a purpose.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

References: “Genome increase as a clock for the origin and evolution of life” on Pub Med, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health, and Wikipedia

Afraid of the Facts

Afraid of the Facts - John Adams wasn't
President John Adams

We should never be afraid of the facts when they are accurately presented. U.S. President John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Last week, we looked at James Tour’s challenge to the leading origin-of-life scientists. None of them were willing to address even one of the five roadblocks to abiogenesis that he presented. The fact is that the study of abiogenesis, the origin of life from non-living matter, has progressed very little in the last 70 years. Science has found many barriers to abiogenesis since the Miller-Urey experiment of the early 1950s.

Quora is a social media question-and-answer website where people post questions and others respond with answers. A recent questioner asked, “Are scientists terrified of abiogenesis?” A person who said he was “45 years a physician” answered that he was not afraid of abiogenesis. Part of the response from the “physician” was:

“Abiogenesis is a process that occurred at least once in the history of the earth, and that single event (or handful of events) may have left no traces at all. The steps in abiogenesis were probably a series of unknown physical and chemical steps. So, the process may never be known.”

Saying that “unknown physical and chemical steps” in a “process may never be known” is a vague answer. He seems to be saying, “I’m not going to worry about that because it scares me.” As I said, people should never be afraid of the facts.

Genesis chapter one uses the Hebrew word “bara,” which is always used to describe something that only God can do. Verse one describes God creating the heavens and Earth out of nothing. Verse 21 uses that word again to describe the creation of the first animal life. Between those verses, the term “made” (Hebrew “asah”) or the words “let there be” describe God’s work.

Science has made significant progress in understanding the processes described by “made” and “let there be.” In some cases, scientists have even duplicated those processes in laboratories or particle accelerators. However, understanding how God created everything from nothing or life from non-living matter is beyond what science has accomplished or perhaps will ever understand. Christians should never be afraid of the facts because they point to a creator God.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

World of Life Beneath the Soil

World of Life Beneath the Soil - Earthworm
World of Life Beneath the Soil - Naked Mole-Rat
Naked Mole-Rat

An unknown world of life lurks beneath our feet, and we should be thankful that it does. A research report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) says that approximately 59% of all living species on Earth live in the soil. Because there are so many organisms living there and they are generally out of sight, scientists don’t know how many species exist in the world of life beneath the soil.

According to the report by Diana Wall of Colorado State University, Fort Collins, soil organisms support life above the soil in many ways. They make it possible for us to grow food, and they break down organic waste. We often think of earthworms, but there are also many smaller worm species. We seldom see various insects that spend their lives in the soil. However, we do see insects that live much of their lives under the ground as well as above. Those include ants, springtails, woodlice, and millipedes. We often think of some animals that live in the soil as pests, such as termites and nematodes. However, they serve the purpose of breaking down organic materials, helping to keep the world from filling up with waste.

Plants also live in the world of life beneath the soil. For example, fungi do not use photosynthesis like green plants, so they can survive in the darkness. Subterranean life forms include the least familiar amphibians, the caecilians, whose name means “blind ones.” Naked mole-rats live underground, and many other mammals spend at least part of their lives in subterranean darkness.

According to the report in PNAS, “soil is the most biodiverse singular habitat.” We don’t often think of the world of life beneath the soil, but we should thank God that He thought of it. Subterranean life makes it possible for life above ground to thrive and prosper. We see this incredible web of life as evidence of design.

— Roland Earnst © 2023


James Tour Challenge

James Tour Challenge
Photo portrait of James Tour taken by Photographer Jeff Fitlow in 2018

How did non-living chemicals become living plants and animals? Origin of life research has been the focus of countless hours and vast expenditures by expert scientists for the last 70-plus years. The results have been, well, unremarkable. Chemist Dr. James Tour of Rice University issued a 60-day challenge. The James Tour challenge to the leading origin-of-life researchers called for them to show what progress they have made in 70 years.

Dr. Tour points out that there are five major hurdles that the origin-of-life scientists must clear. They are the fundamental problems that stand in the way of life originating from non-life (abiogenesis). In simplified form, they are:

Linking amino acids into chains
Linking nucleotides into RNA molecules
Linking simple sugars into chains
The origin of biological information
The assembly of all components into a cell

YouTubers are claiming that scientists have completely solved these obstacles to abiogenesis. If that is true, Tour challenged the leading origin-of-life researchers to verify and explain it. The James Tour challenge gave them 60 days to put up their evidence. Dr. Tour said if they could show that they have solved even one of those problems, he would shut up about the issue.

The James Tour 60-day challenge expired at the end of October 2023. Not one scientist could meet his challenge. In other words, in 70 years of research, no progress has been made on any of the major roadblocks to non-living matter becoming a primitive living cell.

If brilliant scientists with the best equipment and modern laboratories ever manage to produce life from basic elements, what will they prove? They will not show that life can originate by unguided accidents. They will have demonstrated that an intelligent being can create life from non-living matter. That is what the Bible has said for thousands of years.

— Roland Earnst © 2023


Evolution News report on the James Tour challenge.

James Tour’s Put Up and I’ll Shut Up challenge.

James Tour debates a YouTuber who claims science has solved all origin-of-life problems.

James Tour mentioned in “Scientists and God” in our quarterly publication.

Creating life in the laboratory.

Answering Today’s Challenges

Answering Today’s Challenges

The Church struggles to stay informed and relevant on the issues and answering today’s challenges. In October 2023, the Survey Center on American Life and the Associated Press/NORC released new data revealing the attitudes and beliefs of our friends and neighbors. If the Church is going to lead people to faith in God, we need to know what they believe. Jesus knew the teachings of Judaism and the beliefs of the Romans, and we must follow His example. 

Here are some results of the recent surveys:

1) 44% of Americans have “hardly any confidence” in organized religion.

2) 29% of Americans believe evolution is the best explanation for the origin of life on Earth.

3) 38% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time due to processes guided by God or a higher power.

4) 31% believe humans and other living things have evolved over time, and God or a higher power had no role in this process.

5) 12% believe humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. 

6) 49% believe scientists generally believe the universe was created in a single, violent event, often called the “Big Bang.”

The problem with surveys is that words like “evolution” are not defined. If “Naturalism” were used instead of “evolution,” the numbers would be different. Confusing “evolution” and “creation” is another source of problems with surveys. Evolution deals with the changes in things already created. It does not attempt to explain the creation of space, time, matter/energy, or anything spiritual. 

It is interesting to see surveys like these and compare them to similar ones from past years. You don’t wear a hockey uniform to play baseball, and you can’t reach people today based on what people believed in the 20th century. God’s Word does not change and is a rock-solid guide for life, but young people today are radically different from last century. Answering today’s challenges requires meeting people where they are and not depending on methods that worked in the past. 

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: The American Perspectives Survey was conducted between May 16 and 24, 2023. The AP/NORC data was in The Week for October 20, 2023, on page 17. 

How the Mpemba Effect Works

How the Mpemba Effect Works
One oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms bond to form a water molecule

Yesterday, I warned of the danger of trying to solve an argument using the scientific method when people want to stick to their preconceived ideas. The argument I referred to was between my family members about whether hot or cold water freezes faster. The truth is that the phenomenon where hot water freezes faster is called the Mpemba effect after an African secondary school student who brought it to the attention of a British physicist. Even though it had been observed since Aristotle’s time, most people didn’t believe it, and nobody seriously attempted to explain how the Mpemba effect works.

Perhaps the reason science ignored the Mpemba effect is because it seems illogical and unreasonable. In 2013, Xi Zhang and colleagues at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore presented a possible solution to how the Mpemba effect works. Water molecules contain one atom of oxygen bonded to two atoms of hydrogen (H2O). The oxygen atom shares an electron with each hydrogen atom in what is known as covalent bonding.

In addition to the covalent bonding within the water molecules, the separate molecules are held together by hydrogen bonds. Water molecules are polarized, and since water is a liquid, the molecules move around. When a hydrogen atom in one molecule is close to the oxygen atom in another molecule, hydrogen bonds loosely hold them together. Hydrogen bonds explain the surface tension of water, its relatively high boiling point, and how the Mpemba effect works.

As water is heated, the molecules move faster, stretching the hydrogen bonds, causing them to store energy, and allowing the covalent bonds to relax and give up some energy. Covalent bonds giving up energy is equivalent to cooling, allowing the heated water to freeze faster. In a 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, Yunwen Tao and co-authors described using vibrational spectroscopy and modeling to show that hydrogen bonds can explain how the Mpemba effect works.

Other factors can be involved in water freezing to counter the Mpemba effect. Dissolved gases or other impurities, convection currents, evaporation, and even the container can influence the time it takes for water to freeze. The relative initial temperatures and consistency of the water samples are also critical factors.

The bottom line is that the design of water is an essential factor that makes life possible. We have said that before: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE. The fact that hot water can freeze faster than cold is hard to believe, but true. Even harder to believe is that the design of water, the universe, our planet, and life could be accidental, but atheists still argue that those designs all happened by chance. I challenge you to carefully consider where you stand on the existence of a creator God.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

References: and

Witch Hazel Howitzer

Witch Hazel Howitzer
Witch Hazel Flowers

Plants use an incredible variety of methods to distribute their seeds. Witch hazel shrubs use one of the most impressive methods. Rather than relying on birds, animals, wind, or flowing water, witch hazels shoot their seeds. The system is so well-designed that in half a millisecond, the seeds shoot out of their pod at speeds up to 30 feet per second. This method had been described as a witch hazel howitzer.

The U.S. National Science Foundation supported researchers at Duke University in a study of the incredible method witch hazels use to scatter their seeds. The researchers studied various species of witch hazels, including those that have seeds lighter than a grain of rice and others ten times that weight. Their research shows that all species they studied sent seeds flying at the same velocities regardless of the seed’s mass.

The way this system works is that the woody seed pod dries out and deforms in a way that squeezes the seeds. The pressure builds until it pops, sending the seed flying. The director of the study, Justin Jorge, says it is like squeezing a watermelon seed between your fingers until it shoots out. The force built up by the witch hazel is enough to send seeds over large distances, allowing this plant to reproduce in a forest without the help of wind, birds, or running water.

We see design in the witch hazel’s seed dispersion method, and it reminds us of Romans 1:20, which says we can know there is a God by looking at the things He has made. We see that evidence in the vast variety of ways plants reproduce. We see plant seeds transported by wind. Some plants produce a fruit that birds or land animals eat, but the seeds pass unharmed through the animal’s digestive system. Some plants have seeds that stick to the fur of animals, and some animals intentionally bury seeds. Others attach a small nugget of nourishment for ants. The ants eat the food and discard the seeds far from where they found them. When none of these options are available, God has built plants that propel their seeds over a wide area, like a witch hazel howitzer.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: The National Science Foundation Research News for October 10, 2023, and Journal of the Royal Society Interface August 23, 2023.

The First Month of Human Development

The First Month of Human Development Begins with Fertilization

When the sperm meets the egg, a human cell is produced. From this single cell, a human body is built, containing over 30 trillion cells. How does that happen? Science really has no answer to that question. Dr. Jacob Hanna at the Weizmann Institute of Science refers to this stage of human development as a “black box.” Most of the research on embryo development has been done on mice, rabbits, chickens, and frogs. What happens during the first month of human development remains largely unknown.

Understanding what goes on during the first month of human development would help in dealing with miscarriages, congenital birth defects, and the side effects of medications taken during pregnancy. Dr. Hanna and other researchers have built a group of cells that act like an embryo but can’t grow into a fetus. This group contains the cell types that are essential for an embryo’s development, including the placenta, yolk sac, and outer membrane. This is all before any organs are formed, and takes about eight days.

Dr. Hanna does his research without using fertilized eggs or anything derived from aborted babies. Scientists are already using these stem cell models taken from adult skin cells. This work could have addressed some problems of the past, such as the drug thalidomide, which was used as a treatment for morning sickness and was found to cause birth defects.

The complexity of the changes taking place during the first month of human development speaks of the wisdom and design that has produced all humans. We are very different from the animals that make up the world around us. The difference becomes evident as we study the development of a fetus from the single cell that started the process.

Many years ago, the writer of Psalms 139:13-14 reflected on this as he said, “For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: CNN Wonder Theory Science Newsletter for October 26, 2023, by Katie Hunt.

Astronomical Events and Halloween

Astronomical Events and Halloween

We previously discussed the religious history of Halloween, but it also has a connection to astronomical events. Halloween is a cross-quarter day halfway between the equinox and the solstice. The equinox is when day and night have equal lengths, and the winter solstice is the shortest day and the longest night. (Groundhog Day is also a cross-quarter day.)

Humans find all kinds of reasons to celebrate visible astronomical events. Some cultures have given each of the seasonal cycles some great religious significance. Neolithic builders erected Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, over a period of 1500 years, perhaps to commemorate the summer and winter solstices. That structure shows a great understanding of the equinox and solstice, and it was, and still is, a place of worship.

Other cultures have used astronomical events to govern their religious beliefs. The pyramids of the Egyptians and the Aztecs are examples, and there are many others. Even the celebration of Christmas has astronomical connections to the winter solstice. Several cults have tried to attach great significance to astronomical events, almost always with disastrous results.

The Bible makes it clear that the followers of Jesus must not be swept up in the celebration of heavenly bodies. Acts 1:7 tells us, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power.” The message of Christ is a spiritual one, not locked into watching what happens with the Sun and the Moon. Colossians 2:16 tells Christians, “Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or the sabbath days.”

It isn’t that Christians aren’t interested in what happens in the design and function of the universe, but we are warned not to engage in idolatry. Worshipping and serving created things rather than the Creator is idolatry (Romans 1:25). God’s word is the guide we should follow.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: for 10/31/23.

Neanderthals and the Bible

Neanderthals and the Bible
Wax figure of Neanderthal man in Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

In 1856, workers in Neander Valley near Dusseldorf, Germany, discovered a cave containing human bones that were different from modern humans. Scientists gave those bones the name Neanderthal, which means “Valley of the New Man.” We have written about this before (such as HERE, HERE, and HERE), but how can we reconcile Neanderthals and the Bible?

Since that first discovery, anthropologists have found Neanderthal remains throughout Europe and elsewhere. Neanderthals had large brains, thick bones, and muscle attachments, indicating high strength. The age of these specimens is much greater than any written human communication. They lived a nomadic lifestyle and dwelled in caves and natural shelters. They did not have cities or build sophisticated structures, but recent studies show intelligent behavior, including mastering fire for cooking, controlling animals, and providing warmth.

Genetic studies show that modern humans had Neanderthal ancestors. Some writers claim that Neanderthals were humans physically but had no soul and, thus, no spiritual awareness. That raises the question of how Neanderthals connect with Adam in Genesis 1 and 2. Those who promote theistic evolution say that ape-like hominoids evolved. Then, when these individuals reached a certain level, God infused them with a soul and called them “Adam,” Hebrew for “of the ground.” Some claim that Cain encountered Neanderthals in the area that Cain was banished to in Genesis 4:14 and following.

The point is that rather than deny that Neanderthals existed, we need to realize that there are many possible ways to reconcile Neanderthals and the Bible account of Adam and Eve. As scientists make more discoveries, the picture may become more evident. Meanwhile, we know the biblical account is valid and not at odds with findings about human history.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

References: The Naked Neanderthal by Ludovic Slimak and