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From Developmental Biology, New Evidence for Intelligent Design: Two Videos Pose a Basic Challenge to Unguided Evolution

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You'll find them in the compost heap in your backyard. But you will need a microscope to see them well. They are the roundworms known as C. elegans. Only a millimeter long, these tiny creatures are helping us to understand what it takes to build an animal starting from a single cell. Their development poses a fundamental challenge to the idea of undirected evolution.

Today Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture releases two new videos on YouTube that tell the amazing story of this humble worm. One video, "How to Build a Worm," features CSC Fellow Dr. Paul Nelson who explains the implications for intelligent design of the embryological development of C. elegans.

The other, "Switched on Worms," features new animation depicting the cell divisions required to build C. elegans.

C. elegans is a particular passion for Dr. Nelson because it offers an extraordinary window into the process of biological development for many other animals as well, including humans.

Almost all animals begin as a single fertilized cell. By a process of cell division, this first cell gives rise to all the other cells needed to build the animal. But the new cells are not identical to their ancestor. During the development of the embryo, these new cells are specified to build different parts of the animal's body, such as the digestive system, the skin, or the brain.

Scientists have been able to follow this complicated process in detail during the development of C. elegans. It's a process that shouts intelligent design.

"You see a decision tree, sort of like a logical switching pattern, where you begin with your starting point -- you've got all the information there -- and then that information is subdivided in various ways, parceled out along different lineages," says Paul Nelson.

One group of cells is specified to become muscles, while another group of cells is specified to become the intestine or something else. Nelson explains:

There must be some governing logic, some control system, that tells those lineages what they're going to do as they are specializing. And I think from the perspective of an undirected process like natural selection or evolution generally, it's very hard to see how you can build that without knowing where you were going.

"The case for design could not have been made more explicit," he adds:

Of course, there are much more complicated developmental pathways in nature. A human baby... that's something that if we ever come to understand it will really take our breath away. But even these little worms, a millimeter long -- humble little creatures out there on the compost heap -- they carry the signal of design unmistakably.

For more information and documentation, Dr. Nelson has written a pair of posts here at Evolution News & Views highlighting the challenge to Darwinian thinking posed by the development of even so "simple" a creature as a roundworm. See:

"We hope that viewers and readers interested in intelligent design will help us promote these new videos by sharing them with their friends and relatives," says CSC Director of Communications Rob Crowther. "They are wonderful discussion-starters, and they highlight a new wave of evidence from developmental biology supporting intelligent design."