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The Lie: Evolution


The Bombardier Beetle

by Dr. D. T. Rosevear

A corner of the garden had been neglected all the summer and now It was a wilderness of weeds, all going up to seed. I smiled to myself as I got out the garden flamethrower. I had always enjoyed fireworks, and it was this which .had fired my boyhood ambition to become a chemist. Soon a roaring jet of pre-heated paraffin was licking around the weeds. Dry material went up in smoke. Green plants turned a darker shade of green. I knew that in a day or two, they too would be shriveled. The odd slugs were quickly fried.

My flamethrower, though, is a very crude' Instrument compared with the little Bombardier beetle, Brachinus. This insect, only a centimeter long, can explode a jet of hot, noxious fumes at its enemies. The fuel Is not simply paraffin which has to be Ignited, but a mixture of chemicals which can be reacted at will. The main constituents are substituted hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide. If you put these together In a test-tube, nothing much happens until the mixture Is boiled for some time. In fact, the hydrogen peroxide can be manufactured commercially from a quinone derivative, and is probably made In a similar sort of way by the beetle.

However, the rate of reaction between these two chemicals Is Increased to explosive speed by the 'addition of two enzymes, which act as catalysts. These are incredibly complex molecules, whose shape and activity ate such that they hold the hydroquinone and peroxide together and encourage them to react.

One enzyme is a catalase, which decomposes the peroxide very rapidly without Itself being decomposed. The other enzyme is a peroxidase, which oxidises the hydroquinones to noxious quinones. The beetle secretes hydroquinone, tolylhydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide solutions Into a reservoir. When danger threatens, a charge of chemicals Is passed from the reservoir through a muscular valve into a horny chamber at the back of the beetle. Enzymes cause the reaction to pro­ceed at an explosive rate with a sharp sound like the crack of a pistol. The pressure of oxygen gas formed shoots a hot, smelly, bluish vapour of quinones out through two nozzles behind the Insect.

Man has built rockets using the reac­tion of hydrogen peroxide on a reducing agent, but the rockets do not manufacture their own fuel as the Bom­bardier beetle does. The 25% strength peroxide used by the beetle would burn the skin of a hand, turning it white In a moment, but the beetle Is not corroded by the peroxide, nor Is burned by the explosive reaction which deters poten­tial predators. Its body structure is designed to withstand such shocks: I deliberately say designed, because it is much too complicated to have been made by chance.

These enzymes are very complicated In their structure, and specific In their design. As a research chemist In industry, I have prepared much-less complicated molecules, but even these have required a long series of experiments with carefully controlled conditions. The yield of product at each stage In the synthesis is small, so by the end of a multistage preparation, one Is lucky to have Isolated enough material to study: and yet the beetle makes these Incredibly complex chemicals to order! lf the beetle got its chemistry wrong, It would be eaten by the predator Instead of scorching his enemy. These complex and highly specific enzymes could hardly arise by chance!

Yet some people have argued that the beetle did develop his defence mechanism by chance, which was acted upon by natural selection. They suggest that the Mark I beetle did not have a flamethrower, and by a series of mutations, selected as advantageous to the beetle's .survival, this complex mechanism gradually developed. The snag with this explanation, though, Is that until the defence mechanism was fully developed and functioning, It would not be advantageous. In fact, it would simply be an extra encum­brance, which, according to this same theory, would be selected against, and so mutations and natural selection would not produce the goods. Also, with chance mutations acting to pro­duce a delicate explosive device, a mistake In the development of the mechanism might result In the beetle blowing Itself up! One sometimes hears of a terrorist being killed while at­tempting to set up a time-bomb or a booby-trap. How much more probable that chance mutations would get It wrong!

In any case, it Is unreasonable to sup­pose that mutations would increase the complexity or the amount of information In a mechanism: they are usually the result of harmful radiation or mutagenic chemicals. It Is rather like altering the connections in the cir­cuitry of a television set at random and expecting to Improve the picture. Mutations are always harmful and are often lethal, yet evolutionists postulate that they are the stepping stones to progress. I was once questioned about mutations after giving a lecture at Cam­bridge University, and I challenged the audience to cite one beneficial muta­tion. The only, example they could give me was the defective gene which causes the amino acid valine to be substituted for glutamic acid at position six in the beta chain of haemoglobin. This gives Immunity to malaria, but this Is trivial beside the fact that it causes the fatal disease 'sickle-cell anemia'. No, mutations can­not be beneficial.

Interestingly, dinosaur remains have been found which have cavities in the skulls with a similar pattern to those which produce and fire hot fumes from the back end of the Bombardier beetle. The skull constructions of Corytho­saurus, Lambeosaurus and Parasaur­olophus suggest that these great creatures of a past era could fire hot gases from their nostrils. It Is well known that there Is a widespread folk­lore of fire-breathing dragons from China to Wales, and Including our own patron saint, George. Could these fiery­ monsters really have co-existed with men? The book of Job is perhaps the oldest book In the Bible and dates from soon after the Flood. In chapter 41 we have a description of a large scaley sea creature unlike anything known today, called Leviathan. He is described as very fierce, with terrible teeth: even air cannot get between his close-set scales.

Out of his mouth go burning lights;
Sparks of fire shoot out. .
Smoke goes out of his nostrils,
As from a boiling pot
and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
and a flame goes out of his mouth.

A thousand years later, he turns up In Psalm 104; but today, like the rest of the dinosaurs, he is extinct.

As I put away my garden flamethrower, I thought how crude It was compared with the Bombardier beetle; and then I spotted, stamped on the Instrument, a patent number. Yes, it had been designed and I could discover the designer's Identity If I wanted to go to the trouble of looking up the records. The Designer of that beetle obviously designed the whole of matter, in­cluding you and me, and if we wanted to discover His Identity, we could look It up In His record - the Bible.

1 John, chapter 5, verses 11 and 12 says, 'And this Is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life Is In His Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.' God's creation tells us something about the wisdom and power and care of God, but God's record, the Bible, tells us more specifically about His love to uS,ln that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty for our disobedience. Jesus Christ rose again from the dead, and He can be alive within you If you want Him. What's more, He will soon be returning to .earth as Lord and Judge. Read the record for yourself, and then do something about it!

Pamphlet 233

The Creation Science Movement