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Pistons & Waterwheels: Is It God, or Is It Evolution? 

It’s hard to believe that evolution invented electrical transmission, tunnels, gates, and all manner of devices we humans take credit for.  Respiration, the method by which living cells harvest their energy from sugars, relies on some such inventions, specifically waterwheels and, as it now turns out, piston pumps,

         Inside our cells are micro-microscopic organs (“organelles”) that do the cells’ work.  One of these organelles, the mitochondrion, takes energy from sugar, and uses the energy to recharge the cell batteries that power cell work. 

         The batteries are molecules called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) when they are charged, and ADP (adensine diphosphate) when they need a charge.

         The charger is an enzyme that works like a waterwheel.  Instead of water, protons flow over a molecular dam, powering the waterwheel that packs a new charge into a phosphate molecule, and then attaches that molecule to ADP, to make ATP.

         In the last half of the 20th century, Paul Boyer and John Walker discovered how this waterwheel enzyme works.  They won the Nobel Prize in 1997 for this discovery.

         Now a Russian researcher, R.G. Efremov has discovered that another enzyme works like a piston pump, to push the protons behind the dam in the first place.

         It seems uncanny that these unbelievably tiny machines could have resulted from evolution.  And not from recent evolution, not in the plants and animals we know today, but in bacteria some 3 billion years ago.

         I've been thinking about the New Atheists and God:  The New Atheists believe in evolution, but not in God.  Yet frankly, if evolution can invent these fantastic atomic and molecular machines and coordinate their workings to maintain life, then evolution begins to sound a lot like God.  Hm-m-m.

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