The Problem of the Black Box

The Problem of the Black Box

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.
—Colossians 1:16

A fatal flaw of evolution is the problem of the black box. Now, remember, to have life, thousands of protein molecules have to come together randomly to form the complex organism called the cell. To understand the chances of that happening randomly, we have to understand the complexity of a living cell.

In his landmark book “Origin of the Species,” Charles Darwin made a condition upon which his theory rests. Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” When Darwin wrote those words, he understood that the cell was the building block of all of life. But neither Darwin nor any other scientist at the time understood how complex the cell was. To them the cell was like a black box. They couldn’t peer into it and know what was in it.

But more than 150 years later, through the aid of powerful instruments, we’re able to look into the black box of the cell and see that it is far too complex to have assembled over a long period of time. Instead, as Michael Behe says, when you look into the cell, you see all kind of systems that had to be in place at the same time for the cell to start operating. For example, there had to be a functioning membrane; there had to be a system to produce DNA; there had to be a system for replicating DNA. There had to be energy processors. All of those things had to be present at the same time for the cell to start functioning. Behe uses the illustration of a mousetrap. For a mousetrap to be effective, all of the parts of the mousetrap have to be present and working together. You can’t just have the platform and catch a few mice. And then add a spring and catch a few more mice. And then the hammer to catch a few more mice. In other words, all the pieces of the mousetrap have to be functioning for the mousetrap to work. It is irreducibly complex.

Behe says it is the same thing with a cell. You can’t build a cell by forming a membrane and saying, “Okay, it’s functioning.” Then years later the DNA processor appears, and later the replicating system and the energy source. No—all of those things have to be assembled together for the cell to work. Now, remember what Darwin said? He said if it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed that was irreducibly complex, his theory would break down. Today we do know of an organism that cannot be explained by slight modifications, and that is the cell. The chances of all the parts of a cell coming together at one time are big enough to bury the whole theory of evolution. If the beginnings of life were not random, they therefore must be the product of purposeful intelligence.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Four Fatal Flaws of Evolution” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Illustration from Michael Behe, “Darwin’s Black Box” (New York: Free Press, 1996).