In The Design Matrix, I documented how scientists originally envisioned the cell as an entity that was not very sophisticated or organized. Yet this original “prediction” did not turn out to be correct. In fact, a month or so ago a review article was published in the journal Science which continues to illustrate my point:
Bacteria were once viewed as amorphous reaction vessels with chromosomes that wandered freely and randomly throughout the cell. The advent of genetically encoded fluorescent reporters harnessed to powerful cell-imaging technologies has enabled in vivo tracking of protein movement and revealed a strikingly complex inner world within bacteria. This inner environment is exquisitely organized, in a highly controlled state of flux, and responsive to changing functions demanded of the cell. – Shapiro, L., McAdams, HH, and Losick, R. 2009. Why and how bacteria localize proteins. Science 326: 1225-1228.
In The Design Matrix, I drew out the significance of this:
Hume’s objection to Paley’s argument [life does not look designed] could have been seriously strengthened by scientific discovery. The perception of the cell as “an amorphous vessel housing a homogeneous solution of proteins” could have been verified. The perception of the cell as “a viscous fluid or gel surrounded by a membrane, much like a balloon filled with molasses” could have been confirmed.
Amorphous vessels and balloons filled with molasses would not arouse suspicions of design. But this is not what science has discovered. Modern science teaches us that “the cell is understood to be highly organized, with specialized areas for different functions and molecular motors shuttling components around.” Hume’s objection to Paley’s argument certainly has not been strengthened by scientific discovery.
To this, two years later, we merely add that modern science teaches us that the simplest of cells, bacteria, have a cytoplasm that “is exquisitely organized, in a highly controlled state of flux, and responsive to changing functions demanded of the cell.”