Dr. Jerry R. Bergman, Biology

Mousetrap with cheese

In Six Days: Ph.D. in human biology & Ph.D. in evaluation and research

Why I Choose to Believe in Creation

Dr. Bergman is instructor of science at Northwest State College, Archbold, Ohio. He holds a B.S. in psychology from Wayne State University, an M.S. in psychology from Wayne State University, a Ph.D. in evaluation and research from Wayne State University, an M.A. in sociology from Bowling Green State University, and a second Ph.D. in human biology from Columbia Pacific University. At Northwest State College Dr. Bergman has served as chairman of the academic affairs committee and as faculty advisor for degree programs. He has been a consultant for more than 20 science textbooks.

Almost every person at one time or another asks the question, “Where did life come from?” Bound up with the answer is the additional question, “What is the purpose of life on earth?” Essentially two viewpoints exist on this question: (1) the atheist position, which concludes that life came about through change, time and a large number of fortuitous events; and (2) the creationist position, which teaches that every living organism type was created by a creator which most people call God. Christianity has, since its inception, taught that life was created by God for a specific purpose. “You (God) created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). Likewise, Judaism and Islam have historically taught this creation doctrine (see Gen. 1:1–8).

Evolutionary naturalism, often called atheism, teaches that life began by the random collision of enough atoms to form complex molecules that produced accurate copies of themselves. These hypothetical molecules eventually evolved into cells and, in billions of years, evolved into all life extant today. The key to this molecule-to-human evolution was mutations (genetic copy errors) and natural selection (the selection of favorable mutations that alter the animal or plant so that they are more apt to survive).

The requirements for life

The thesis of this chapter is that the origin of life could not have occurred by a gradual process but must have been instantaneous. The reason this must be true is simple. Every machine must have a certain minimum number of parts for it to function, and if one part below this minimum is removed, the machine will cease to function. The example Behe uses is a common spring mousetrap which requires ten parts to function. The trap will no longer function if just one part is removed. No one has been able to show this concept to be erroneous only that under certain conditions a certain machine can operate with one fewer part.

Many of these “one fewer part” examples, though, are misleading. Ruse (p. 28, 1993) notes that a mousetrap can be fastened to the floor, thereby eliminating the base, he claims. In fact, it only uses a different base (the floor); a base is still necessary. Further, the mousetrap parts are useless without the intelligence to assemble them into a functioning unit. A trap is also useless without the bait, the knowledge and ability necessary to use the trap, and the existence of a mouse with enough intelligence to seek the bait but lacking in the experience and intelligence to avoid the trap. A simple mousetrap system is much more complex than it first appears.

The irreducible complexity argument can be extended to the creation process which produced life. The concept argues that both an organism and its parts, including organs, organelles, cells, or even its protein, cannot function below a certain minimum number of parts. In biological organisms the smallest unit of life is the cell, and the number of parts it contains at the subatomic level is usually much larger than a trillion.

As Hickman notes:

Cells are the fabric of life. Even the most primitive cells are enormously complex structures that form the basic units of all living matter. All tissues and organs are composed of cells. In a human an estimated 60 trillion cells interact, each performing its specialized role in an organized community. In single-celled organisms all the functions of life are performed within the confines of one microscopic package. There is no life without cells (Hickman, p. 43, 1997).


Even most bacteria require several thousand genes to carry out the functions necessary for life. E. coli has about 4,639,221 nucleotide base pairs, which code for 4,288 genes, each one of which produces an enormously complex protein machine. The simplest species of bacteria, Chlamydia and Rickettsia, are the smallest living things known. Only a few hundred atoms across, they are smaller than the largest virus and have about half as much DNA as do other species of bacteria. Although they are about as small as it is possible to be and still be living, these two forms of life still require millions of atomic parts (Trefil, p. 28, 1992). Many of the smaller bacteria, such as Mycoplasma genitalium, which has 452 genes, are parasite-like viruses and can only live with the help of more complex organisms. For this reason, when researching the minimum requirements for life, the example of E. coli is more realistic.

If the simplest form of life requires millions of parts at the atomic level, higher life-forms require trillions. All of the many macromolecules necessary for life are constructed of atoms, which are composed of even smaller parts. That life requires a certain minimum number of parts is well documented, and the only debate is how many millions of functionally integrated parts are necessary, not the fact that a minimum number must exist for life to live. All viruses are below the complexity level needed for life, and for this reason they must live as parasites that require complex cells in order to reproduce. Trefil noted that the question of where the viruses come from is an “enduring mystery” in evolution. They consist primarily of only a DNA molecule and a protein coat and…

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