Thursday, August 28, 2014

Molecular Machines

There are three possible positions to take with respect to biological evolution. One can hold that (1) all of life arose by random, unguided processes driven by nothing more than chemistry and natural selection; or one can hold that (2) evolution never occurred at all; or one can hold that (3) to the extent that evolution has occurred it was somehow directed by an intelligent agent.

Watch the following video about a cellular nanomachine called kinesin, one of thousands of such tiny molecular machines in every cell of every living organism and ask yourself which of the above views seems intuitively most likely.
Not only is the work of this vanishingly small molecule itself amazing but remember that something must be directing it in the cell so that it transports its cargo to the proper location, so that the microtubule on which it "walks" gets constructed, so that it recognizes whether another kinesin needs help, so that its own construction is executed properly so that it functions effectively, and all of these directions require information that must somehow have arisen and is stored somewhere in the cell and accessed where and when needed. This is all nothing short of astonishing.

I don't know which of the alternatives in the first paragraph is the correct one, but I hope I'll be forgiven for saying that I have a great deal of trouble seeing how it could possibly be (1).