Richard Dawkins continually rants against Intelligent Design as being faith-based and therefore “irrational.” Let us briefly examine some recent research in his field and see where the logic really lies.
Le Figaro—one of France’s most influential national newspapers—ran a lengthy article in its 28 May 2012 issue, titled “How Man Acquired Intelligence” (our translation, as throughout this diatribe). The article was based in large part on research reported in the May 11 issue of the journal Cell, with analysis by French specialists in neuroscience. We number the essential arguments in the article to facilitate comment on the “logic” of each.
- After the successful sequencing of the human genome in 2003, followed by that of the chimpanzee in 2005, it has been concluded that some six million years ago, when a separation of the two primates from their common ancestor allegedly occurred, hundreds of additional genes appeared by duplication in the humans and the proteins issuing from these copies were able to acquire new functions—specifically the augmentation of nerve connections in the prefrontal neo-cortex.
- At California’s Scripps Institute, Francis Franck Polleux discovered that the gene SRGAP2 in mammals facilitates the migration and extension of nerve cells in brain development. A copy of this gene (SRGAP2C), unique to the human being, appears to provide the ability to amplify the number of cellular surface contact points (“dendritic spines”). These pyramidal neuron cells of the prefrontal cortex relate directly to our most complex mental functions, each having 10,000 dendritic spines capable of connecting with other neurons. When SRGAP2C was introduced into mice [our italics], the number of their spines increased two to three times!
- According to researchers at the University of Washington, SRGAP2C appeared on the scene some 2.5 million years ago, at the same time as a massive enlargement of the human neo-cortex over against that of the Australopithecus (an extinct genus of hominoids). It was at this point that the genus Homo came on the scene.
- To be sure, more was involved. As Alain Prochiantz, professor at the prestigious Collège de France, admits: “Many genomic modifications must have contributed to the humanization of the brain—not only with the appearance of these newly discovered proteins but also with mutations [our italics] affecting the regulating of the genetic expression.”
- Does similarity between the human brain and the chimpanzee brain signify a common origin—six million years ago or yesterday? The medieval logicians identified the logical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc: the confusion of similarity with causation. Their analogy: “If two clocks strike the hour at the same time, does this mean that one has caused the other to strike?”
- Suppose mice do acquire an impressive increase in dendritic spines as a result of the (rather Frankensteinish) introduction of human SRGAP2C into their little brains. What does this prove as to human intelligence—unless one assumes gratuitously and a priori that the two species are inherently interlocked. But that assumption is what the evolutionist holds as his unshakeable starting-point—yet, ironically, it is supposed to be justified by such arguments as this one! Do we not find ourselves here in the logical quagmire of petitio principii—hoary old circular reasoning?
- If SRGAP2C and impressive enlargement of the human neo-cortex appeared at more-or-less the same time, did the one cause the other? Has the evolutionary biologist not again fallen into the rabbit hole of post hoc, ergo propter hoc? Moreover: even if we agree that SRGAP2C is unique to the human being, amplifies cellular contact points, and thus the potentiality of connecting with other neurons, does this explain human intelligence? A computer makes complex interconnections among applications, but it does not think—as philosopher John Searle has definitively shown by way of his classic Chinese Room argument.
- Ah, And what are they? “Sudden, unexplained, but transmissible, changes in genetic structure”—i.e., we have no idea why all at once something new appears on the genetic scene. This of course offers no rational explanation whatever. “Mutation” claims often function in science as no more than a form of Word Magic—giving a name to something the scientist simply does not understand. Parallel example: Why do the swallows return to San Juan Capistrano and the storks return to the Alsace on almost the same day each year? Answer: instinct (i.e., it’s something built into to the birds, but we don’t know what ultimately explains it).
Well, what’s to be said of all this?
Conclusion in brief: Intelligence cannot be reduced to proteins. And even if it could be, one would have to account for the origin of the proteins, and, far more important, why they are programmed to contribute to the incredible complexity of human thinking. The evolutionary biologist builds his inadequate theories without respect for the underlying logic of a house built on the rock of intelligent Creation.
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This—our final issue of Vol. 13—is wide-ranging—from the Palestine of Jesus’ day to the China of our time. Professor Emir Phillips treats in detail the Samaritan factor—how the existence and beliefs of the Samaritans related to our Lord’s approach to evangelism. Then Jacob Buday poses the question: “China: A Marxist Utopia?”