Book Review: The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry
by Rich Deem


The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's ArtistryFazale Rana (Ph.D. in chemistry), vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons To Believe, has written a new book, The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry, that attempts to show that cellular biochemistry points to the existence of the Creator who designed it. Whereas most intelligent design books attempt to show the existence of design by demonstrating the existence of irreducible complexity, Dr. Rana examines the cell's biochemistry with broad strokes of how everything works together with such marvelous fidelity. So, even if a single piece or line of evidence might be dismissed as a statistical outlier, the weight of evidence makes a powerful case for design by a Creator. Each chapter begins with an analogy from the art world that relates to the topic at hand. Apparently, Dr. Rana is quite an art enthusiast.

Protein manufacturing

One of my favorite sections was the discussion of how proteins are made within a cell. A large amount of the cell's molecular systems are involved in the process by which DNA is transcribed into RNA then translated into proteins. The process is like a beautifully choreographed symphony in which all the instruments come together to produce a sound that seems to be more than just the addition of the individual pieces. The protein manufacturing process is amazing in its own right. However, the quality control systems that operate at each step of the process ensure that the fidelity of the copies remain high without slowing down the process. However, just manufacturing proteins is not the end of the process. Many of these proteins undergo post-translational modifications, such as formation of disulfide bonds (one aspect of the protein folding process), folding of proteins into specific three-dimensional structures, addition of carbohydrate moieties, cleavage of the protein chain, and assembly into protein complexes. For most proteins, the linear structure of the protein does not define its three dimensional structure sufficiently so that it will fold properly on its own. Accessory molecules are required to ensure that the protein folds properly so that it will function as designed. How these systems co-evolved along with the proteins themselves is quite a mystery for evolutionists.

Irreducible complexity

Although The Cell's Design does not emphasize irreducible complexity as evidence for biological design, Dr. Rana does not shy away from criticisms that have been leveled at some of Michael Behe's original claims. For example, evolutionists have speculated that the complex molecular machinery of the flagellum were conscripted from previously existing biochemical systems that were originally evolved for other processes. However, these explanations are highly speculative and provide no evidence that the proposed agents evolved before the appearance of the flagellum (or afterward, which would completely destroy the argument). In addition, such explanations do not take into account how flagella in bacteria and archaea appear to have emerged independently.

Conclusion Top of page

The Cell's Design is a comprehensive examination of the biochemistry of the cell from a layman's perspective. Even so, the text does not gloss over the significant details of how the cell works. I recommend that readers have a least some college or at least are well read, since the text is detail-rich by necessity. Scientists will enjoy and understand the book best, so you might consider giving the book to some of your scientist friends. As a scientist myself, I see the design within the cell as much more beautiful than even the most wonderful sunset. The cell's design certainly does reveal the artistry of the Creator.

The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry
The Cell's Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator's Artistry

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Last Modified May 28, 2008


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