Debating Design: The Bacterial Flagellum | The Institute for Creation Research

Debating Design: The Bacterial Flagellum

Molecular motors--machines made of protein on the submicroscopic scale--are clear evidence of creative design (Romans 1:20). However, scientists who approach the data from an evolutionary perspective are quick to counter such design in the evidence. They insist that blind chance, mutations, and natural selection are all that is necessary to make a constant-torque, liquid-cooled, proton-motive force-powered rotating motor such as the tiny bacterial flagellum.

Did the flagellum have a purely naturalistic origin? Consider these two contradictory evaluations from secular scientists:

Natural selection thus accounts for the development of flagellum-driven bacterial motility.1
Natural selection can act only on those biologic properties that already exist; it cannot create properties in order to meet adaptational needs.2

Creation scientists do not object to natural selection in principle; however, it operates only on the information that is already present in the genes. Natural selection does not produce new information that would be required to make, for example, cyanobacteria.

A recent article sets out to counter the Intelligent Design argument of bacterial flagella's "irreducible complexity" by proposing that flagella developed as modular systems.3 The authors highlight an F-type ATPase--an enzyme clearly evidenced by design--and appeal to structures that are "equivalent" or "homologous" to other closely associated enzymes (e.g., homohexameric (FliI)6 ATPase of the flagellum and subunits of the F-ATPase). This is merely an extension of the evolutionary argument of homology--that similar structures share a common developmental origin. Creation scientists state that these subunits do not have the same evolutionary descent, but rather the same Designer. In other words, God uses the same materials (N-terminal and C-terminal subunits) to make different micromachines in His creation (such as those found in mitochondria, chloroplasts, and bacteria). Put another way, there are many different bridges throughout the world, but a closer look shows that most of them use the same types of bolts, girders, and cables.

The authors use phrases such as "may have been" and "possibly arose"--hardly the definitive declarations one should use to document the "fact" of evolution.

Concluding their arguments, the eight authors reveal their main objection to the design argument:

The English playwright Oscar Wilde said, "Science is the record of dead religions." In terms of the intelligent design case regarding |the bacterial flagellum|, the current factual analyses force this example to exit the realm of religion and return fully to the arena of science.4

The refusal to allow the evidence to speak for itself is simply unscientific. Creation and science are not incompatible. And, quite unaware, these scientists are actually unlocking the mysteries of creation.

References

  1. Wong, T. et al. 2007. Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum. Microbe, 335-40.
  2. Noble, E. et al. 1989. Parasitology: the Biology of Animal Parasites, sixth edition. Philadelphia: Lea and Febiger, 516.
  3. Wong et al, 335.
  4. Ibid, 339.

Cite this article: Sherwin, F. 2007. Debating Design: The Bacterial Flagellum. Acts & Facts. 36 (9): 15.

The Latest
NEWS
Geneticist Fired for Affirming Humans Once Lived 900 Years?
Geneticist Alexander Kudryavtsev, the head of the Russian Academy of Science’s Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, has been fired, reportedly...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Solar Eclipses
Designed by Susan Windsor* You're never too young to be a creation scientist and explore our Creator's world. Kids, discover fun facts...

APOLOGETICS
Motmot's Beauty Displays God’s Gracious Design
Beauty is God’s good gift. Whatever is truly good and beautiful comes from God (James 1:17), whose own beauty is beyond words. King David longed...

ACTS & FACTS
Eclipses: The Handiwork of Jesus Christ
Many remarkable events have occurred over the past 50+ years of the Institute for Creation Research’s ministry, but one of the most exciting is...

ACTS & FACTS
Dolomite Problem Best Solved by Flood
Dolomite is a very common sedimentary rock, comprising about 30% of all carbonate rocks.1,2 Its chemical formula is MgCa(CO3)2, whereas the...

ACTS & FACTS
RNA Editing: Adaptive Genome Modification on the Fly
When the workings of the genome were first being discovered, the central evolutionary dogma of molecular biology claimed that genetic information passes...

ACTS & FACTS
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve: Colossal Ice Age...
The tallest sand dunes in North America are found in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, located on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Biology Needs a Theory of Biological Design – Part 1
Anyone who watches American football has observed a predictable inconsistency. When a pass is caught extremely close to the sideline, everyone with...

DAYS OF PRAISE DEVOTIONALS
Spring 2024
...

NEWS
Is There Evidence for a Creator?
Contrary to what some scientists claim, there is compelling philosophical and scientific evidence that a Creator of the universe exists. For example,...