Miller and Levine’s Biology (2014) Clearly Demonstrates Why Evolution is Probably False
Texas’ high school biology textbooks—written to standards adopted in 2009—have finally been completed. Back then, Science reported “New science standards in Texas strike a major blow to the teaching of evolution.” (3 April 2009)Two months later, Science—quoting noted evolutionist and textbook author Kenneth Miller—reported:
Miller’s answer [to the standards]… is not to get too excited. The new Texas standards leave plenty of room for authors to explain the robustness of evolutionary theory, he says, and that’s precisely what he and his publisher, Prentice Hall, plan to do. “The advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for,” Miller says. “The new wording is an opportunity to make biology texts even stronger.
For example, Miller intends to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles” within the cell to show that the cell’s complexity is in fact explained by evolution. (12 June 2009) Emphasis added
One of the supposedly “major blow” standards—Biology 7G—simply requires the students to “analyze and evaluate scientific [evolutionary] explanations concerning the complexity of the cell.” To fulfill this new requirement, Miller followed through on his plan to “introduce more material on the evolution of organelles“—specifically the ribosome.
Miller and Levine and the Ribosome
Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, in their new textbook, Biology (2014), at the end of Chapter 19 “The History of Life,” have an assignment for the students to “Think Critically and Evaluate” the evolutionary origin of ribosomes.
16. Evaluate Evaluate scientific explanations concerning the complexity of the cell. Ribosomes, which are composed of RNA (rRNA) and proteins, are part of the complex structure of cells. One hypothesis proposes that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone, and that ribosomal proteins were added gradually. Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it. Emphasis added (Page 565)
Miller and Levine’s Evidence for the Evolution of the Ribosome
Here is the text of the “evidence that has been presented.”
Ribosomes are complex organelles used by all living cells to translate the coded instructions of RNA molecules into the sequences of amino acids that make up proteins. Ribosomes in eukaryotic cells consist of four ribosomal RNA molecules and more than 80 different proteins. The origin of this complex structure has long been a mystery. New research, however, has led to some surprising findings. One of these is that the part of the ribosome where chemical bonds are formed between amino acids completely lacks proteins. This is true of other key places in the ribosome as well, so it is now clear that ribosomal RNA itself carries out the most important tasks in protein synthesis. How should we understand and evaluate this surprising fact? One interpretation supported by the evidence is that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone. Over time proteins were added to the RNA in ways that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex ribosomes. Emphasis added (Page 557)
Figure 19-18 A prokaryotic ribosome Ribosomal RNA (rRNA) of the large subunit is shown in gray while rRNA of the small subunit is blue. RNA makes up the interior of the ribosome, where protein synthesis takes place. Ribosomal proteins (shown in lavender on the large subunit and purple on the small subunit) and largely confined to the surface of the ribosome. This revealing image was produced in the laboratory of Dr. Harry Noller, University of California, Santa Cruz.
Some Questions for Students
If you are a student, let us tackle this assignment presented by Miller and Levine; let us now “Evaluate the proposed explanation of the evolution of ribosomes based on evidence that has been presented to support it.” We need only ask some questions. You can then decide for yourself how compelling their evidence is for explaining the evolutionary origin of a functioning ribosome? You decide if the authors have demonstrated “the robustness of evolutionary theory?”
Here are a few of the questions that could be asked:
Life without ribosomes?
- Are there any cells anywhere that do not have proteins? NO
- Can you have life as we know it without proteins? NO
- Are there any proteins anywhere in a living cell today that was not made by a ribosome? NO
- Therefore, can you have life today as we know it without ribosomes? NO
- Is there a “pure RNA-only molecular machine” that makes proteins today? NO
- Do they have evidence it ever existed? NO
- Wouldn’t actual evidence of RNA-only ribosomes be better than speculating “that the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone?” YES
- Therefore, is their entire argument based only on speculation? YES
How robust is the single “surprising fact” they do provide?
Even granting that “Ribosomal RNA carries out the most important task in protein synthesis,” what does this “surprising fact” demonstrate?
- Does it explain the origin of the ribosome? NO
- Does it explain how the ribosome incorporated the “more than 80 different proteins?” NO
Does it explain the origin of the original four RNAs? NO
- Does it explain how they were formed? NO
- Does it explain how they joined together? NO
- Does it explain how the messenger RNA (mRNA) with the coded instructions found them once they joined together? NO
- Does it explain how they were able to reproduce themselves? NO
Since the evolutionary preservation of the initial rRNA-only ribosome is dependent on its operating on a coded mRNA string, does it explain the origin of the coded instructions for the first protein to be coded in the mRNA? NO
- Do they have an idea where the coded information came from? NO
- Do they know how the mRNA with coded information reproduces itself so it can make a more proteins? NO
Were all the 80 proteins in the ribosome made by a ribosome? YES
- Do they know which of the 80 ribosomal proteins was added first? second? third? and so on? NO
- Can they add an extra protein today to “improve the efficiency of the process?” NO
- Do they know the function of the ribosomal proteins? a frame? a support structure? a chassis? THEY DON’T KNOW.
- Can you make a support structure out of pure RNA? THEY DON’T KNOW.
- Can RNA without proteins support itself and also make a protein? THEY DON’T KNOW.
- If not, how can you have a ribosome without a protein and how can you have a protein without a ribosome? THEY DON’T KNOW.
Consider an automobile. Couldn’t we say that its engine “carries out the most important tasks?” How plausible is it then to conclude that the “engine” gradually added a chassis “that improved the efficiency of the process, leading to today’s more complex” automobiles? NOT PLAUSIBLE AT ALL.
Remember, if there are no ribosomes there are no proteins; if there are no proteins, there is no life as we know it. But there is life, there are proteins, and there are ribosomes. Science tests ideas by experiment and observation; Miller and Levine have produced neither; they have only provided a just-so story “the earliest cells may have produced proteins using RNA alone.” Given this evaluation “based on the evidence” available today, are ribosomes the result of evolutionary processes? YOU DECIDE.
A closing argument:
- All life—every single living cell—requires ribosomes
- If you decide that as of today, evolutionary explanations “have not accounted for the origin of the ribosome and have failed the test of science,
- Then, the simple conclusion is that evolution itself “cannot account for” life and has failed the test of science.
One final question
According to Kenneth Miller, do “the advocates of these standards underestimate the strength of the scientific evidence for structures and phenomena that they mistakenly believe evolution cannot account for?”
Or, do the advocates of evolution overestimate the strength of the evidence?