Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life Itself: Exploring the Realm of the Living Cell

Life Itself: Exploring the Realm of the Living Cell
by Boyce Rensberger
Edition: Paperback

A fascinating look at the mind-boggling complexity of cells - miniscule factories seemingly totally controlled by and communicating with each other through the interaction of amazing molecular machines.

Even more mind-boggling is the author's blind faith that this arose through chance and evolution, thus such intellectually and scientifically vacuous statements like, "evolution solved this problem by" ... useless sops to fundamentalist Darwinism, and totally useless scientifically. Nowhere are such statements elaborated upon; the existence of the first cell is assumed, thereby glossing over one of the greatest frustrations in current biology. He sprinkles such religious statements liberally throughout, instead of questioning, as Behe did in "Darwin's Black Box." However, his accounts of the scientific details of the cell are fairly clear and fascinating, with some neatly done illustrations; and so this book becomes, unwittingly, a perfect companion to Behe's "Darwin's Black Box."

His scientific rigorousness is spotty - but not unusual for an evolutionist. In keeping with outdated evolutionist "science", he presents Haeckel's now-discredited, faked embryo drawings as proof of evolution ('Embryonic fraud lives on', New Scientist 155(2098):23, September 6, 1997).

But the further one reads, the more the skeptical mind is inclined to question, "How," "When," and "Why". For example, he describes the intracellular transportation network early on. This leads us to question, when reading that this molecule or that vesicle has to move from here to there, just how does it do this, what means of locomotion does it employ, and how is this orchestrated purely in terms of proteins and such? He does a generally good job of anticipating these questions, although each answer adds to the implausibility of the system developing by chance. But the more interesting question, "How did these systems originate?" is glossed over with "It evolved."

Elsewhere, he says that the processes of life are "no more mysterious, though often far more complex and wondrous, than the crystallization of water molecules into snowflakes. ... their formation is obviously no miracle." A strangely scientifically naive view (but not uncommon among fundamentalist Darwinists), he has ironically missed the point of his own book.He does not realize that his very own descriptions of the workings of the cell, to the open, skeptical mind, most certainly do point to a miracle.