The Blind Watchmaker who is also Deaf and Dumb – Part II

Animals other than bats, owls and dolphins are also provided with a highly sophisticated mechanism to hear and see in total darkness. Apart from that, the following are some examples of mechanisms of awareness which in their narrow field far exceed that of humans and man-made machines. A most fascinating example is that of some snakes which are entirely guided by ultraviolet heat rays providing them with an extremely sensitive awareness, albeit narrowly confined to a specific task. They are fully equipped with the most advanced ultrasonic and infrared devices. A certain species of snakes is provided with an extremely sensitive receptacle between his eyes and nostrils which transmit to it infrared stimuli through an opening like a pinhole camera. This opening – only a few millimetres in size – transmits infrared rays to the receptacle which is so sensitive it can detect changes in temperature as small as 0.003ºC. To such changes the snake can respond as rapidly as. within thirty-five milliseconds, a speed which is hundreds of times faster than any similar device made by humans with modern technology.11 Cockroaches are so sensitive to vibration that they can detect movements so small that they can only be measured in units appropriate to gauge molecular distances. They can detect movement a mere two thousand times the size of a hydrogen atom12. For a mere cockroach to detect a movement so infinitesimally small is absolutely 61Review of Religions – July 2002 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is also Deaf and Dumb This is an extract taken from the book Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth, written by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad. mindboggling. The human eye can only detect the size of a hydrogen atom if it is enlarged by a factor of approximately 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Any reader who would like to read this figure is reminded that a trillion is only one, with eighteen zeroes on its right side. Anyone who attempts to read this figure is reminded that this would be an exercise in futility. Scientists have now accomplished the gigantic and most complicated task of mapping and charting the magnetic variations which naturally occur across oceans. Whales employ them for correctly navigating their movements in the sea. So far the scientists have not understood how whales can detect and employ these variations to their advantage. Perhaps Dawkins could explain to them how elementary the solution would become if the Darwinian principle of natural selection could be employed. But the scientists will have to be patient with him because his bit by bit explanation may take as long as a lifetime, yet most probably it will remain as unsatisfactory at the end as it was in the beginning. A duck-billed platypus is so sensitive to electricity that it can detect field strengths of a five hundred millionth of a volt per centimetre – a performance that can outpace by a large margin the most sophisticated electrical devices. For it to detect a mere one thousandth of a volt per centimetre generated by the flick of a shrimp’s tail is no problem at all. Sharks and rays are known to even detect stationary prey as they can detect the electricity made by the prey’s muscles as it breathes, even if it’s hiding in sediments on the ocean floor.13 Birds of prey have two circular fovea and a strip in each eye. Its structure and positioning enables it to function as a telephoto lens, magnifying images by an amazing number. Vultures can reach heights of 2000m or more and can survey the land for many kilometres around it for prey – which is often camouflaged!14 The crustacean Copilia possesses a pair of the most fabulous eyes. It 62 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 forms an image using its lens, which is scanned by a second mobile lens and retina. ‘The retina contains only nine light detectors, but by scanning the image up to ten times each second it is able to build up some kind of picture.’15 ‘The tail of the electric eel contains 10,000 tiny electric organs, arranged in 70 columns, and over half of the fish is given over to electricity production. This allows it to generate an incredible 550 volts. In fact, such voltages can even kill a person.’16 We most respectfully draw the scholarly attention of Dawkins to these realities which are just a few among thousands so far known to the scientists. We beg him not to waste his time and that of the reader by fiddling with childish computer games. Why does he not apply his theories to real life? It would have been far more sensible and convincing if he had taken up the case of all these freaks of nature as mentioned above with reference to their most complex mechanism. He does not have to search for the fossil records or the sequence of living animals which may have preceded them. We spare him that onerous task and require him only to concentrate his attention upon the eight living wonders quoted above and the amazing tasks they perform. Let him demonstrate to the world how their complicated components and parts were assembled in such a complex sequence. Every step has to be justified with reference to the application of blind Darwinian principles. Having done that he would still have quite a task ahead. Each component would demand a similar treatment because each would be further subdivided into a variety of sub-parts and the material they are made of – each playing a collective and individual role in the making of the finished product. In the end, the availability and the nature of the material necessary for their making has to be attended to in its own right. Who manufactured that material aimlessly? How was it manufactured without an appropriate factory? Who created that complicated factory 63 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 with extremely delicate know-how? How did such factories survive uninterrupted and undisturbed in the wide open nature of winds and sea storms? How did that material offer itself at the right moment to be pressed into service? It is a very plain and realistic exercise which Dawkins is requested to perform. He should confront the realities of biological mysteries which are so real yet far more mysterious than any biomorphic world can be. Dawkins will be well advised to resolve the riddles of life with reference to life itself as it exists. We suggest he should begin this exercise with the electric fish, which we briefly listed as the eighth wonder. Electric fish make use of their electric fields as navigation aids. These fish have an invisible, continuous field of electricity which surrounds the entire fish. On approaching an object, changes occur in its surrounding current which alters its voltage and aids direction. With this amazing navigation system the fish can distinguish between obstacles, predator or prey. As long as it does not confront any object its voltage is in a relaxed state. No extra burden causes any waste of energy. The moment it confronts an object, somehow a signal is sent to its voltmeters to immediately increase its voltage to such a high intensity that it can kill a man, or knock out a horse, in shallow waters. Dawkins fails to realise that it is impossible for this complex, intricate system to arise from natural selection or the bit by bit development theory that he is so fond of. Does he not stop to think where these bits originate from? How could alien minor changes survive in an organism which has not the facilities to cater for it? A study of electric fishes provides an excellent proof of the existence of a Conscious Creator. Such a Creator must possess a profound knowledge of how electricity is generated and works. We ask where would the first change occur to accommodate the idea of electric currents in water and more intriguingly, how? How do the muscles of the fish, arrayed in series, suddenly become tense, each generating electricity like a highly sophisticated electrical device joining their currents at the ends to a level of very high voltage? Incidentally, this saves every muscle the damage which may have been caused by high voltage electricity if they had been connected in parallel. According to Dawkins: 64 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 ‘It is very important that the fish’s own body is kept absolutely rigid. The computer in the head couldn’t cope with the extra distortions that would be introduced if the fish’s body were bending and twisting like an ordinary fish.’17 Logic and common sense raise a key question here, that if the fish couldn’t cope with the changes then why was it making the change in the first place? However he goes on to add: ‘… but they have had to pay a price: they have had to give up the normal, highly efficient, fish method of swimming, throwing the whole body into serpentine waves. They have solved the problem by keeping the body stiff as a poker…’18 Who ‘they’ are, who have solved the problem, Dawkins has avoided to mention. Did the fish do it themselves? If not, who did it for them? As we envision the initial making of the electric fish, in accordance with the bit by bit theory, the entire system seems to begin with the portholes. Dawkins explains: ‘The fish has what amounts to a tiny voltmeter monitoring the voltage at each “porthole”… if some obstacle appears in the vicinity, say a rock or an item of food, the lines of current that happen to hit the obstacle will be changed. This will change the voltage at any porthole whose current line is affected, and the appropriate voltmeter will register the fact. So in theory a computer, by comparing the pattern of voltages registered by the voltmeters at all the portholes, could calculate the pattern of obstacles around the fish. This is apparently what the fish brain does.’19 Why should the fish brain appear to perform this unique feat of electronic engineering? If one is totally convinced that the fish brain has no real wilfully created organisation or complexity of design nor 65 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 has it any capability of conscious operation itself as Dawkins asserts, then to allude to it as a masterpiece of electronic engineering is either extreme naivety or an inadvertent attempt to mislead others. In answer to this evident problem he immediately has this to say: ‘Once again, this doesn’t have to mean that the fish are clever mathematicians. They have an apparatus that solves the necessary equations, just as our brains unconsciously solve equations every time we catch a ball.’19 Thus, inadvertently, he has added another problem to the one he is already confronted with. Let alone the human brain and how it manages to compute the catching of a ball, turn back to the brain of that fish which unconsciously and automatically resolves a highly complicated mathematical problem. After this admission, we naturally expected him to turn to his cumulative bit by bit theory and show us how it applies to the electric fish he has described. He should have explained how these electrical portholes evolved piecemeal. How the issue of befitting voltage required by every specific situation was resolved, how this most fascinating electrical machine with all its portholes and their precisely controlled voltage automatically evolved, faultlessly following the unconscious bidding of the electric fish, remain the questions unresolved! Once again, we spare Dawkins the laborious problem of tracing a long line of less competent fish which gradually evolved into this perfect machine. Evidently they have disappeared from the plan of existence. Let them be gone. What he has before him to support his theory of bit by bit construction is this fish, with all its complicated mechanisms which he has to admit excels all similar manmade devices. Dawkins should have leapt upon this opportunity to prove the point that the fish’s brain could have created this fish unconsciously, directed only by the genes it carried. The genes themselves, Dawkins should not forget, are mindless unconscious things. Forget the fish for a while, let him explain how he himself could have devised and constructed such a fish with all the modern scientific know-how at his service! 66 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 References 11. DOWNER, J. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, pp. 12-13 12. DOWNER, J. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, p. 16 13. DOWNER, 3. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, p.29 14. DOWNER, J. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, pp.48-49 15. DOWNER, J. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, p.64 16. DOWNER, J. (1988) Supersense. Perception In The Animal World. BBC Books, London, p.32 17. DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.98 18. DAWKINS, R, (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.99 19. DAWKINS, R. (1986) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin Books Ltd, England, p.98 67 The ‘Blind Watchmaker’ Who is Deaf and Dumb Review of Religions – July 2002 We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to prov i d e discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. The cost of one year’s subscription is £15 Sterling or US $30 for overseas readers (Please do not send cash). 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