Item description for The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry by Fazale Rana...
Overview Armed with cutting-edge techniques, biochemists have unwittingly uncovered startling molecular features inside the cell that compel only one possible conclusion--a supernatural agent must be responsible for life. This apologetics work explores the full scientific and theological impact of these discoveries.
Publishers Description Armed with cutting-edge techniques, biochemists have unwittingly uncovered startling molecular features inside the cell that compel only one possible conclusion--a supernatural agent must be responsible for life. Destined to be a landmark apologetic work, "The Cell's Design" explores the full scientific and theological impact of these discoveries. Instead of focusing on the inability of natural processes to generate life's chemical systems (as nearly all apologetics works do), Fazale Rana makes a positive case for life's supernatural basis by highlighting the many biochemical features that reflect the Creator's hallmark signature. This breakthrough work extends the case for design beyond irreducible complexity. These never-before-discussed evidences for design will evoke awe and amazement at God's creative majesty in the remarkable elegance of the cell's chemistry.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry by Fazale Rana has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
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Studio: Baker Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.02" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.83" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Release Date Jun 1, 2008
Publisher Baker Publishing Group
ISBN 0801068274 ISBN13 9780801068270
Availability 0 units.
More About Fazale Rana
Fazale Rana (PhD, Ohio University) is vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons To Believe. He is the coauthor, with Hugh Ross, of Origins of Life and Who Was Adam? Rana lives in Upland, California.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry?
Excellent new approach to intelligent design May 27, 2010
During the last decades several books supporting Intelligent Design have appeared. Their basic argument usually has been this--living components and structures are so complex and specified that they never could have appeared by mere chance. Therefore, they must be the result of Intelligent Design. This basically is a negative argument: there is no way to explain this apart from some divine intervention.
Critics call this the "God-of-the-gaps" argument. If there is a gap in our knowledge, then God must account for what we see. The obvious problem with the God-of-the-gaps argument is that similar gaps in the past often have shrunk and then disappeared as scientific knowledge has increased. Now that natural causes are known, we no longer are required to use the "God" explanation.
Microbiologist Fazale Rana, an openly Christian scientific apologist, is keenly aware of this weakness in the traditional ID argument. Yet, he also is aware of even greater positive evidence for design in living systems. He seeks a positive argument from the data to design.
Recent science in cellular biology and chemistry has made astounding leaps and discoveries about the inner working of the basic building block of all life, the living cell. All cells of plants and animals are basically the same in their components and method of operation. Yet they are ideally suited in their differences for the different kinds of organisms and the different tasks the cells must perform within each organism.
Rather than starting from apparently inexplicable complexity, Rana starts from actual examples and types of human design. Recently it has become apparent that the cell's processes are largely mechanical and electrical, as the various proteins interact with each other within the cell. This is biochemistry at its most basic level. In the last few centuries humans have developed technology using these same forces on a larger scale.
Rana builds a positive argument, using "abductive reasoning." Wikipedia defines this type of reasoning as follows: "Abduction means determining the precondition. It is using the conclusion and the rule to assume that the precondition could explain the conclusion. Example: `When it rains, the grass gets wet. The grass is wet, it must have rained.' Diagnosticians and detectives are commonly associated with this style of reasoning." As the definition states, abduction is most useful when explaining why the present circumstance is the way it is. This is the situation when we wonder about how living things got the way they are.
Rana's argument is abductive rather than negative. We see humans designing mechanical and electrical items all the time. What thinking and processes do they go through when they design and manufacture these items? The products they make are the actual fruits of design. Rana describes many of these features of design in the main part of the book, taking one chapter for each main design feature. He introduces the chapters with paintings by famous artists, each of which makes an interesting and pointed illustration of the design feature being discussed. Along with mechanical and electrical design, Rana sees artistic expression as well in the cell's workings ("the Creator's artistry" is part of the subtitle of the book).
The heart of the book takes these various design features and shows how they are employed in the makeup and workings of every individual cell. Cells show even more exquisite design and precision than the best human engineering and technology. Rana writes for a mature reader who can take time and effort to learn some details of microbiology. He explains these processes as clearly as possible for those of us not trained in biology. There are many well drawn illustrations. An introductory chapter helps a lot by explaining the basic parts and workings of the cell, and a glossary in the back is handy for checking the technical terms. Many of the processes Rana describes are complicated, and sometimes are difficult to follow; but Rana's explanations are as clear as can be expected in view of the complexity of the subject. Sometimes I had to read a section several times before getting the main point, but the effort was worth it!
It will be interesting to see how The Cell's Design will be received. Will it simply be disregarded as a disguised ID or creationist work, or will evolutionary scholars interact with the actual positive examples of design? Many think that the very idea of allowing the possibility of God's design in creation denies the scientific method. However, if God really exists, how can such a presupposed position lead to the truth about the cell's design? To follow the evidence, using sound logic, is the best way to reach the right conclusion. Rana provides an excellent case for an intelligent, skilled, and artistic Creator.
Interesting and Educational Apr 13, 2010
Dr Rana writes of the cell's biochemistry regarding how everything works together. He approaches the subject in such a way that the weight of evidence makes a case for design by creator. He discusses the important area of protein manufacturing and gives his views on irreducible complexity. But primarily, this book is an interesting and comprehensive examination of the biochemistry of the cell from a layman's perspective while still including the significant details. For all these reasons, I rate it five stars.
It surprised me. I was expecting less. Nov 2, 2009
I just finished. Thanks for the engaging read, Dr. Rana. Some really good points, and the thumbnail tour through the workings of the cell was excellent. With your permission, I would like to photocopy some of the sections for use in my honors high school biology classes.
Some places I found hard-hitting: (a) Molecular Convergence (Chap 11): Theories of evolution based upon random mutation and selection have long predicted that molecular convergence should be rare. In fact, the recent discovery of over 100 such instances is yet another case where the current paradigm has made an dramatically incorrect prediction. (e.g. another case is 'junk DNA')
(b) Error Minimization (Chap 9): The coding strategy of DNA is optimal for minimization of transcription errors; computer simulations show that the strategy life currently employs is PRECISELY the right one. Darwin might argue that nature would simply explore several possible coding strategies over time, gradually converging by natural selection to the most optimal. However, two facts preclude the 'searching' of possibility space. 1) a change/mutation in coding strategy is far more lethal than simply an transcription error; and 2) there is not evidence of any 'searching' in the fossil record. It just 'appears'...just like that... in the earliest life forms. Not bad for a convenient accident...or fine-tuning...
(c) Extensive cellular structure in prokaryotes: The recent discovery that prokaryotes are not just 'bags of loose chemicals' is going to require a lot of textbook revisions. It has been awfully convenient in the past to have a simple life form to evolve...whoops...there it went. The gap between current understanding and current observation just grew several orders of magnitude.
(d) Minimum Genes for Life (Chap 3). At least 200 to 500 genes are required for the simplest life...but they require other life in order to survive. Fully independent life forms (autotrophs) take more like 1500 genes. A very good argument for irreducible complexity. It will fun to see how this line of research develops, especially as Craig Venter 'invents' new life forms...
Some of the things I didn't like: (e) As we learn more of the workings of DNA, we are discovering lots of 'super' function to the code. Not just code for regulation and protein manufacture, but also repair. You discuss some of these. But I was also expecting a discussion of how efficient and 'deep' the code is in the sense that in the human genome, for instance, produces 20x as many proteins as there are genes...that is, individual genes serve more than one purpose, and some work in concert to produce more complicated proteins (I read this in Science recently...I think it was called the Q factor = 20, or something like that). The DNA in some species is far more profoundly coded than in others (I recall 20x for humans, and only 1x for drosophilia...I may be wrong).
(f) I think your reference and comparison with Paley weakens your argument. Most people associate Paley's argument with a SUBJECTIVE evaluation/awe of nature that leads to belief in a creator (Natural Revelation). Even though you are reasoning positively by analogy, you often employ objective and quantitative arguments, a strategy that is far more subtle and compelling than Paley's.
(g) Ok. Now for one of my pet peaves. Sorry, in advance. I liked your book...really. But, it bugs the heck out of me when creationist authors constantly keep saying, "revealing the design of the Creator," or "revealing the artistry of His handiwork." It sounds too much like, "Golly, Gee whiz, isn't God amazing." It sounds too much like you are reverting to a "God of the gaps" argument, or like you ran out of evidence or things to say, so you revert to the mantra instead of the argument.
(exhale...phew...now that's over)
OK, you are WAY better than most (left unnamed here), and you WERE making a positive argument by analogy with artists (painters). You clearly know your stuff, and you are entitled to your opinion, so I can handle a "Hallelujah, Amen, Brother!" every so often. But you need to consider your audience. If your audience is only Christians, well...some is OK. But every time you 'holler,' there is a critic or an atheist who will close the book...and his mind. Use it sparingly. Remember how you came to your faith...it wasn't the 'Hallelujah!' it was the evidence. The Hallelujahs came later...
In the end, I suppose it is a matter of preference. I would prefer it if you first laid out the evidence, and then made a summation of it later (when you formulate the argument), rather to have you repeatedly say, "See! Look there! It's his handiwork...again." (OK, I know I am exaggerating a bit...please forgive me...I am making a point.)
Nevertheless, congrats, and thanks for a fun afternoon. I've got the flu, and you definitely livened up my day... ;-)
Regards, Dr. Frank
Ghee, Fuz, It's SCIENCE! Oct 30, 2009
There are boxcars of volumes devoted to the promulgation of so-called "Creation Science," an excrescence of religious fundamentalism dedicated to making the case that the Biblical account of creation is confirmed by genuinely scientific evidence. Weirdly, most of what passes for science in these books is nakedly ANTI-scientific, intended to undercut the credibility of any prevailing scientific thesis that CONTRADICTS the literal truth of Scripture. By contrast, Creation Science offers one, and only one, AFFIRMATIVE argument for divine creation, viz., the age-old Argument From Design, which, when stripped of rhetorical packaging, boils down to nothing more scientific than a simple-minded "gee, whiz!" maneuver.
ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN (AFD)
Premise: Just look at the Universe's complexity, its conncinity of structure. Surely all this can't be the result of random processes or blind forces of nature.
Conclusion: It's the work of an intelligent Creator.
Aping the jargon of real science, some apostles of Creation Science have christened AFD's conclusion "the Intelligent Design Hypothesis," hereinafter, "IDH" (not to be confused with "IUD" or "IED"). Now, putting our acronyms to work, we have: The AFD is Creation Science's ONE, AND ONLY, AFFIRMATIVE argument for the IDH. This explains why the overwhelming bulk of Creation Science's output is negative. The lion's share of that output is intended to improve the credibility of AFD's premise ("Surely all this can't be the result...") by discrediting ANYTHING in Science which suggests that the cosmos IS the result of random processes or blind forces of nature.
Fazale Rana, yet another Creationist pettifogger masquerading as a respectable scientist, gives us THE CELL'S DESIGN, a purported exposition of how biochemistry supports the hypothesis of divine creation. Long stretches of text are devoted to exposition of low-level material from biochemistry and molecular genetics, clearly designed to establish the author's scientific bona fides and to create the impression that he sure knows what he's talking about. The book's polemical proportions, however, comprise a veritable how-to manual for producing pseudo-scientific drivel. True to form for so-called "Creation Scientists," Rana is at pains to demonstrate that almost everything secular science has to say about biological origins is wrong. In a transparently-shoddy attempt to transform common, garden-variety Creationist s#%t into state-of-the-art scientific shinola, Rana tries using as a magic wand the notion of a so-called "explanatory filter," a conceptually sterile device culled from William Dembski's THE DESIGN INFERENCE (Cambridge University Press, 2008). [FOOTNOTE: Dembski's gambit is to introduce the "explanatory filter" as a putative heuristic device that enhances the plausibility of chalking up to intelligent design any event that can't be explained by known statistical regularities. Whisking away swaths of mathematical fog, we get down to essentials by asking: Is the intelligent design hypothesis susceptible of precise mathematical formulation? Answer: No, of course not. So inference from statistical irregularity to the agency of an intelligent designer, in the final analysis, relies upon QUALITATIVE reasoning. The inference won't carry through unless one insists, at some point, that statistical irregularity is, at bottom, a deterministic affair. The problem then is to sift out those deterministic phenomena that owe to intelligent agency from those that don't. And how are we supposed to accomplish THAT? Why, by launching the AFD, of course! But all the fancy-shmancy mathematical carryings-on were supposed to be for the sake of BUTTRESSING the AFD. We've thus gone in a great big circle: Demski uses the AFD to bootstrap itself. Talk about begging the question! When he passes blithely from the premise that some phenomenon is statistically irregular to the conclusion that it's a result of intelligent design, all Dembski is doing is importing into probability theory the Master Cylinder from Felix the Cat cartoons disguised (quite literally) as a deus ex machina masterminding the improbable. Anyway, experienced statisticians are aware that the most common source of statistical irregularity is BIASED SAMPLING. Thus, it's only after sampling bias has been ruled out that they seek alternative explanations. Not Dembski, though. He immediately jumps to the conclusion that statistical irregularity reflects the operation of deterministic factors. END OF FOOTNOTE]
After introducing the notion of an explanatory filter on p. 25, Rana throws in a virtual disclaimer: "According to the filter, to be confident that an event, system or object has been produced by an intelligent designer it can't be a regularity that necessarily stems from the laws of nature, and it can't be the result of chance." Now, do readers of THE CELL'S DESIGN really need explanatory filters, or any other technicalities, to arrive at the platitude that something is a result of intelligent design only if it's NOT a result of random processes or blind forces of nature? The book's author apparently thinks so. Never fear, though. Rana goes on to state on p. 26: "[Biochemist Michael] Behe argues, and Dembski agrees, that Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms cannot generate irreducibly complex biochemical systems. In terms of formally applying the explanatory filter, this limitation means that biochemical systems are not regularities produced by the outworking of nature's laws." Ah, yes! NOW we get it: explanatory filters yield the result that biological systems AREN'T the result of random processes or blind forces of nature; therefore, they're the result of an INTELLIGENT CREATOR! Boy, we sure didn't see THAT comin', now, did we? The entire discussion of explanatory filters is nothing more than an extended exercise in the fallacy of Begging the Question.
Check out Robert T. Pennock, "Science and Religion", THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY, David L. Hull and Michael Ruse, Editors (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 414 - 415: 'In 1987, the Supreme Court ruled in EDWARDS v. AGUILLARD that creation science was not science but was disguised religion.... Quickly adapting to this loss, creationists changed their terminology. ...[M]anuscripts...dropped the term "creation science" in 1987 immediately after the EDWARDS decision and replaced it with the term "intelligent design". ...The intelligent design movement is most characterized by what it called "the Wedge", a strategy devised by Phillip Johnson, a law professor..... The Wedge was also a metaphor they used to speak of how they would split apart the materialist, naturalist worldview of science so they could replace it with their theistic science. When lobbying for their view to be taught in the public schools, they continued the old creation science claim that ID [intelligent design] was based entirely in science and was not religious.' Sound like anybody we know?
Yeah, yeah, I know: Hugh Ross, Fazale Rana, and the other Reasons to Believe bozos claim they're not affiliated with the ID movement. Nevertheless, their blabble about "irreducible complexity" is a dead giveaway that Rana, Behe, Dembski, et al. are cribbing from the Phillip E. Johnson ID playbook.
The usual anti-scientific advocacy for divine creation is a striking exercise in logical irrelevance. How does it follow from the alleged blunders of conventional science that God created the Universe? The arguments offered by Rana et al. differ in no important way from such blatant NON SEQUITURS as the following:
(A) It's NOT the case that the volume of a gas is a function of its temperature and pressure; therefore, God created the Universe.
(B) It's NOT the case that all bodies attract with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them; therefore, God created the Universe.
Well, perhaps THE CELL'S DESIGN is instructional after all. Maybe we should accept it at face value as providing a blueprint for using scientific information to settle theological issues.
1) Every entire rational function can be expressed as the product of as many factors of the first degree as its own degree indicates; therefore, God doesn't exist.
2) Hydrophilic colloids, as well as colloids protected by absorbed films of hydrophilic colloids, are coagulated by electrolytes; therefore, God doesn't exist.
3) With increasing energy, the rapid increase in the number of degrees of freedom that can be coupled to particle motion implies a decrease in lifetime for the one-particle state; therefore, God doesn't exist.
4) Particles have been observed to travel in a medium faster than the speed of light in that medium; therefore, God doesn't exist.
5) A goal of cell fractionation is to identify the organelle in which each enzyme is found and thereby determine the biochemical reaction associated with that organelle; therefore, God doesn't exist.
See how easy it is? Sure you do! Therefore, God doesn't exist!
God, or Higher Power? Sep 28, 2009
I must apologize from the outset. I plan to buy this book based solely on the fact that it is so well reviewed and evidently makes a convincing case for the existence of God (of the Bible, evidently), but I have obviously not read it to date. As a nurse, I really need no convincing on ID. After all, the complexity of a single liver cell rivals - if not exceeds - the complexity of machines created by our best and brightest. The space shuttle, computer systems, etc.
What I wonder is how Dr. Rana can take the leap of faith and attribute this complexity to Yahweh, as opposed to Allah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or (more humbly, I believe) simply a "higher power."
I read a response by Dr. Rana that directed the reviewer to his interview with Geoff somebody or other, to explain how he (Dr. Rana) connects the dots between ID and the Bible God. In short, the explanation seemed kind of sketchy, vague, esoteric...pick your favorite term. I still don't see how a few quotes from Genesis ties together the complexity of our body's cells with the God of the Bible. Why the Bible God? There are other options, you know, including that of a creator who has yet to be revealed through mankind some 2,000 years ago.
I maintain that the only reason for this would be your typical "fire insurance," in order to avoid hellfire. Can you perhaps elaborate, Dr. Rana? Many thanks,