Complex Evolutionary Outcome

The Telegraph story on The evolution of clots is provided as an example refuting anti-evolutionists and also provides an interesting insight into the life saving natural phenomena of blood clotting. The author, Steve Jones is professor of genetics at University College London.

This is one of those teetering edge type living phenomena that are a careful balance between not having enough versus having too much. Hemophilia and deep vein thrombosis and strokes and heart disease are all impacted by doing it right or wrong.

First, definitions and the reason for concern.

Intelligent design, or ID, began as an attempt to promote creationism without breaking American laws that keep religion out of schools. In spite of the eloquent concern of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who feels that the idea demeans not science but faith, it is spreading in Britain.

The the source many use to maintain their delusions.

The ID crew, to use Darwin’s own phrase, “look at an organic being as a savage looks at a ship, as at something wholly beyond [their] comprehension”.

Then the point:

Scientists, unlike creationists, do not know everything, but as they learn more, every such claim has been rubbished. Evolution is not mocked but glorified by life’s intricacy. ID is a bad idea, but has generated lots of good research, all of which shows how inane it is.

And, finally, the example.

The clotting machinery is an icon of just how complex life may be. Designers love it: for to staunch the flow needs a cascade of a dozen or more enzymes that work like a row of toppling dominoes. Two interacting pathways meet at a crucial junction point.

Much better, in fact, than no clot at all. Plenty of animals manage with just a few parts of the machinery and DNA shows that – like the eye – the rickety apparatus that stops us from bleeding was assembled from random bits that just happened to be hanging around.

Living organisms are systems and the systems become more complex as the organism becomes more advanced. Things are tried through mutation and other processes and these often leave bits and pieces behind. These bits and pieces may end up being used for something else and some may be interlocked in various ways with features the organism needs to survive. Science is the process of learning the story that is told by these bits and pieces and of learning how they are used and how the interact in the system of functions that make up a living entity.

It is really only recently in human history that tools have been developed to really find out how things work and how they create an historical picture of evolving organisms. Blood clots and eyeballs are two complex components that are being better understood and this understanding is leading to better therapies for when disease or malfunction occurs.

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