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A New Look at Evolution

January 9, 2021

A NEW LOOK AT EVOLUTION

Will something more than physical principles be

needed to account for the origin of the species?

 

Today a great many people accept without question the idea that man arose from lower species by the process of evolution. If one suggests otherwise, he runs the risk of being labeled hopelessly ignorant of the realities of life on earth.

Darwin is credited with first proposing a plausible physical mechanism that would explain the variety of life forms we observe in the world around us. Evolution, as he explained it, is based on the twin principles of variation and natural selection. When members of a species reproduce, he reasoned, there is variation among individual representatives of the species. Some of these are better equipped to survive in their particular environment, and therefore their qualities are selected and passed on to their descendants. Over the passage of time, these changes in organisms are sufficient, according to evolutionary theory, to result in changes of species.

Since Darwin’s time, the concept of variation has undergone some changes. Modern evolutionists believe that mutations in genes produce the variations that natural forces select for survival. (Darwin did not know about genetics.) Evolutionists have considered a number of types of genetic variations—point mutation, genetic recombination, and random genetic drift, for example—but these all fall under the broad heading of random variation. And to this day the only principle accepted as giving direction to the evolutionary process is natural selection. So Darwin’s basic principles of random variation and natural selection are still the foundations of evolutionary thought.

Today’s evolutionists would still agree with the following statements of Darwin: “I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”1 And, “… what special difficulty is there in believing that it might profit the modified descendants of the penguin, first to become enabled to flap along the surface of the sea like the logger-headed duck, and ultimately to rise from its surface and glide through the air?”2

This may sound reasonable to some—that over millions of years bears turn into whales. But is that what actually happened? And even more important, is there any real scientific reason to suppose that it could happen that way at all, even in theory? An objective review of the facts suggests to some observers that the answer to both questions is definitely no. At this time, as we shall show, there are no valid grounds for insisting that evolution is the only possible explanation for the variety of living forms we see today.

Many people think that the only alternative to Darwinian evolution would be some form of Biblical creationism. There are, however, many alternatives, including concepts of a universal designing intelligence other than the one advocated by fundamentalist Christians and concepts of evolution other than the one advocated by Darwin.

Yet the great majority of scientists stand ready to defend evolution against any alternative concept. They widely propagate the slogan “evolution is a not a theory but a fact.” This statement implies they have gone beyond the level of theory, when in fact they have hardly reached the level of genuine theory in their discussion of evolution. Indeed, the theory of evolution as it now stands does not actually explain—in the rigorous scientific sense of the word explanation—how one species transforms into another.

When scientists speak of evolution, they mean that all the species we see around us today have descended generation by generation from a primordial single-celled organism. All the variations in different life forms are supposed to have come about by evolutionary processes governed by the laws of physics as they apply in biology and chemistry. Darwinian evolution thus relies upon the all-encompassing basic strategy of modern science: material reductionism. In this case, life is reduced to chemistry, and chemistry is in turn reduced to physics. These natural laws are deemed sufficient to explain evolution, and all available evidence is said to confirm that evolution did in fact occur as described above. This of course excludes intelligent design in any form.

In their presentations to the public, evolutionists are quick to wrap themselves in the mantle of scientific objectivity and reason. They claim to be just examining the facts as they present themselves, and if the facts indicate conclusions different from the ones they currently hold, they profess to be quite prepared to change their theories. But they decline to do so because they see “overwhelming” evidence in their favor. As paleontologist Niles Eldredge, a major spokesman of evolutionary thought, says, “Evolution is a fact as much as the idea that the earth is shaped like a ball.”3 But let’s see if the evidence really is so overwhelming that evolution is a fact in the same way that the earth is round is a fact.

In this day and age it is fair to say that a great many people who are well off financially are in a position to obtain direct evidence of the fact that the earth is round. You can go to your local travel agent, purchase a round-the-world airline ticket, and see what happens. Say you start out in Los Angeles and fly west across the Pacific, continuing on across Asia and Europe. Eventually you’ll arrive at the eastern coast of North America, and in five or six hours you arrive back in Los Angeles. With that experience, it is not unreasonable for you to conclude that the earth is a globe. Also, armed with your idea that the earth is a globe, you can explain quite a number of things—why the sun rises at different times at different longitudes, the progression of the seasons, and so forth. These predictions are not vague. You can calculate the exact time for sunrises and sunsets at different points on the globe for months and years in advance.

Such direct verification does not exist in the case of evolution. Of course, if you had some sort of time machine by which you could go back hundreds of millions of years and then photograph a certain kind of reptile called therapsids and then with timelapse photography follow them around as they gradually changed into mammals, primates, and finally man, then that would be pretty solid evidence of evolution. Or else if you could look at an animal today and predict what it would be likely to evolve to in a million years, and then go ahead into the future in your time machine and track the development of the species to see if it matches up with evolutionary predictions, that would be some substantial evidence. Of course, after seeing so many full-color paintings of evolution in textbooks, many people might think the scientists, do have such time machines. Actually the physical evidence of the past is quite fragmentary, and therefore the scientists rely mainly upon theoretical speculation. Thus in absence of solid confirmation we should remain open to examining a number of different theories. At this point evolution does not have an exclusive claim to being the sole explanation of the variety of species.

Not only is there a startling lack of observational evidence confirming the theory of evolution, but the theory itself is not soundly formulated enough to warrant any attempt at confirmation. A major feature of a valid scientific theory is that it offers accurate predictions; so from the theoretical basis of evolution one should be able to deduce certain things about the observable world. What do the evolutionists predict? The prominent evolutionist Niles Eldredge, in attempting to answer this challenge, came up with two predictions: there should be a hierarchy of biological forms and a sequence of fossils arranged in an ascending order of development in the strata of the earth.4

It’s understandable evolutionists would like their theory to predict hierarchies of forms, because we all know they exist. But a hypothesis involving design would predict the same thing. For example, in creating an essay, an author often begins by writing an outline of ideas arranged in hierarchical order. Hierarchies are a natural product of the mind. In vehicles designed by engineers we can also see a hierarchy of mechanical forms: automobiles of various sorts, trucks, tanks, boats, submarines, airplanes, etc. But we would be in error to suppose that they evolved from one another. Although the machines can be arranged in hierarchies, they are all separately designed and manufactured. So hierarchies of form are not proof that one form evolved from another by physical reproductive processes. They could just as well be accepted as proof of a designing intelligence.

Evolutionists also predict a sequence of fossils. But does their theory really predict (in advance) the actual sequence, or does it merely come after the fact? Imagine a hypothetical evolutionist from another planet arriving on earth during the Precambrian epoch, a time when it is supposed only some primeval algae and bacteria existed. Could he have predicted in advance that variation and natural selection would go on to produce spiders and oysters? Why not just more and better algae and bacteria? Evolutionary theory can offer no reason why if life started with a single cell we now have elephants and mosquitoes. Scientists can only point to the species now existing and claim “they evolved.” They cannot predict any specific organism or class of organisms. They might say that their theory does support a broad trend from simple organisms to ones more complex, but this claim is excessively vague and does not exclude other possible explanations.

Nevertheless, in all their writings and speeches evolutionists insist that evolution did take place and that it did so solely by natural physical laws. They feel to admit other causes—such as a designing intelligence—is unscientific. But the explanations they propose in terms of natural laws are themselves unscientific because no one has yet constructed models showing even approximately the stages in the progressive evolution of organisms. They have discovered that physical bodies are complex molecular machines and maintain that these complex molecular machines develop by progressive modification from other complex molecular machines. Therefore they should be able to provide models showing how the transformations take place, in detail.

In what way, for example, did certain eels develop the capacity for delivering powerful electric shocks? A mere wave of the hand will not suffice—detailed models of the step-by-step changes should be supplied. Without such models the theory of evolution remains a vague idea outside the realm of true science. If evolutionists say that this is too great a task, then they should give up their claim that they know and have proved that organisms descend from other organisms by modification. They should simply say that they don’t yet know or understand why we have the types of living beings now existing.

A scientific evolutionary model should take genetics into account by showing in a systematic step-by-step way how genes determine physical forms of organisms. For example, a human body containing hundreds of billions of cells organized into such complex structures as the brain starts from a single cell in the womb. How, therefore, does the genetic information within the fertilized human egg guide this complex development? At present there are ongoing, but unsuccessful, attempts to come up with mathematical models to explain the process, which remains one of the most significant unsolved problems of modern science.

If a satisfactory model is ever developed, it might then be possible to develop rigorous scientific explanations for the transformation of one species into another. For example, scientists say that by genetic mutations, prehistoric fish transformed into amphibians. But if they don’t even know how you get the form of the fish from its own genetic material, anything they say about the fish form changing into an amphibian form is bound to be highly speculative—practically speaking, an imagination.

To put the theory of evolution on firm ground, mathematical models of how genes translate into physical form are absolutely essential. Without such models there are only vague handwaving stories about evolution. These stories can’t provide any firm, testable predictions, and when they are applied after the fact to observations, they are so flexible that they can be adapted to any set of data imaginable. In contrast, a mathematical model gives definite predictions that can be compared with evidence and thus be proved or disproved.

If such models did exist, it might be possible to use sufficiently powerful computers to determine what might happen when a specific set of genetic information is randomly modified in concert with certain selective rules. If these modifications predicted in the model actually resulted in physical changes that corresponded to observed relationships among species, then we could say that evolution had actually been raised to the level of a science.

But this is not the case. As of yet there exist no models making definite predictions about evolution. In fact, the evolutionists are not at all certain about what they would like to predict. Contradictions abound. On one hand the student of evolution can find statements that the outcome of the process of evolution is completely a matter of chance. And on the other hand, there are statements saying the outcome is quite determined by physical processes involving natural selection. In human evolution, some authorities assert that the evolution of manlike beings is highly probable and would be likely to happen on any suitable planet in the universe. For instance, Dale Russell and Ron Sequin of Canada’s National Museum of Natural Science have proposed that if dinosaurs had not become extinct, there is a good chance that they would have evolved into humanoid reptilian forms by now.5

Then there are those who assert that the appearance of human beings on earth is a chance occurrence. According to this view, at the beginning of the evolutionary process there would be no certainty that humanlike creatures would develop. Theodosius Dobzhansky, a leading evolutionary theorist, poses this question: imagine a highly competent biologist living 50–60 million years ago in the geological epoch called the Eocene. Could he have predicted that man would evolve from the primitive primates then in existence? Not very likely according to Dobzhansky, who says, “Man has at least 100,000 genes, and perhaps half of them (or more) have changed at least once since the Eocene. The probability is, to all intents and purposes, zero that the same 50,000 genes will change in the same ways and will be selected again in the same sequence as they were in man’s evolutionary history”6

So here we have two completely contradictory viewpoints about evolution. They both cannot be right. One says evolution is determined; the other says it proceeds in a way that can never be duplicated. Therefore it would seem that evolutionary theory does not provide a very consistent framework for deciding even the most basic questions.

Another example of how the theory of evolution fails to predict specific results is found in the writings of prominent Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theorist John Maynard Smith. “Suppose,” he writes, “that at a time 200 million years ago, during the age of reptiles, some event had occurred which doubled the rate of gene mutation in all existing organisms; we must suppose that for some reason the rates did not fall back to their original levels. What would have been the consequences? Would the extinction of the dinosaurs, the origin of mammals, of monkeys, and of man have taken place sooner, so that roughly the present state was reached in only 100 million years? Or would the rate of evolution have stayed much the same? Might it even have been slower? The short answer is that we do not know.”7

To appreciate the significance of the above statement, let’s consider the science of ballistics. If on the basis of ballistics an artillery officer could not tell his commanders what would happen if he doubled the amount of explosive used to fire the shells, then we would have to conclude that that sort of ballistics doesn’t deserve to be called a science. By the same logic, the current theories of evolution definitely have their shortcomings, as theories go. In fact, we would have to say it is not so much a question of whether or not a particular theory of evolution is correct, but whether there exists a theory at all.

OM 7-1: A Cellular Motor

A Cellular Motor

The difficulties facing a theory of evolution can be more clearly seen when we consider a concrete example such as the cellular motors in the E. coli bacterium.8 This one-celled creature possesses flagella (corkscrew-shaped fibers) powered by rotary motors built into its cell wall. The turning of the flagella propels the E. coli through the water just like a ship’s propeller, and by operating these motors in forward and reverse direction the bacterium can guide itself to its desired destination.

Now suppose we imagine a bacterium without this apparatus. The question is this: by what evolutionary steps could we arrive at a bacterium with the cellular motors? What is the sequence of intermediate stages? The requirement is that each stage would have to confer some definite advantage to the bacterium over the previous stage. Otherwise, the changes cannot be attributed to natural selection, which is said to govern the process of evolution.

It has been determined that 20 genes govern the structure of the motors. That means the development could not take place all at once because of a single mutation. An alternative is for the successive changes to come about gradually by random genetic mutations that affect a small number of genes. But if you just get part of a motor, how can that possibly benefit the organism? It would probably make it less likely to survive because it would be wasting its energy to produce a useless structure. Natural selection would therefore tend to prevent such changes.

Suppose then that one cell finally did somehow get a workable motor structure but didn’t have the sensory system needed to control the motor. Then it wouldn’t be able to properly use the motor, and thus the motor would be of no value. On the other hand, the sensory apparatus would be useless without the motor. What this means is that the sensory apparatus and the motors should develop simultaneously, which complicates the whole matter greatly.

In essence, the problem is this: the motor clearly involves a great number of interacting components, and for the entire motor to work, all the components have to be present together and assembled in the right way. It is very hard to imagine how you could produce such a complex mechanism unless you were suddenly able to bring together all of the components. Modern evolutionary theorists have no adequate explanation. But an intelligent designer would be able to do this, because the mind can go from an idea to a working design by a process of reasoning in which the intermediate stages do not have to survive in some natural environment. If a designer wanted to build a molecular motor, he could think about it and come up with a plan, slowly or quickly. It is possible to envision that, but it is difficult to imagine it could happen by a blind natural process.

The E. coli motor example is by no means unique. There are innumerable other instances of complex form ranging from sophisticated molecular machinery in cells (as described in the previous article) to remarkably developed organ systems in higher species of life. The problem of the origin of such structures is universal and remains unsolved by evolutionary theorists. In fact, since most of the structures in higher organisms are far more complex than the simple example from E. coli we have just considered, we anticipate that an honest attempt to explain their origin will involve correspondingly greater difficulties.

The recently developed science of molecular biology has made the task of the evolutionary theorist much more difficult. Followers of classical Darwinian theory customarily think of evolution in terms of what we might call plastic deformation. They tend to envision an organism as a plastic model and, for example, imagine one could gradually deform the plastic shape of a monkey until it by stages came to take on the appearance of a man. Most people still see evolution in this simplistic way.

But organisms are not plastic models. Physical bodies are extremely complex molecular machines, the workings of which are far more complicated than any machine of human manufacture. So it is practically impossible to see how you can change one machine into another type of machine by a process of plastic deformation. You can do body work on a car and change its shape somewhat, but if you want to rearrange the insides, that is an entirely different story. A new kind of engine, for example, is likely to require a whole new set of parts with a whole new set of interrelationships, and these cannot be produced by gradual continuous deformation of the parts of the original motor. If you start pulling wires and stretching metal in the motor and driveshaft, the machine is likely to break down entirely.

Some evolutionists have suggested that the characteristics that distinguish human beings from apes can be accounted for simply by an increase in brain size. This is another case of plastic deformation in operation—it sounds so simple, just like blowing up a balloon. But neurological studies of the brain have shown that it is not just a lump of flexible gray matter—it is composed of billions of neurons linked together in complex circuits.

So to go from an ape brain to a human brain is not as easy as blowing up a balloon. It would mean increasing the number of neurons and rewiring them so as to enable the brain to generate such complex human functions as speech. A human child, at a very early age, is able to spontaneously assimilate the symbolic structures and communication processes of a spoken language. Apes can’t do this. This has led experts in linguistics, such as Naom Chomsky, to posit that the brain has a kind of grammatical software programmed into it.

Carrying the computer analogy a little bit further, we can understand that doubling the size of a computer memory and giving it a 16-bit processor instead of an 8-bit processor is not enough to increase its usefulness to the user. What’s really required is new and more advanced software, programs that will let the user take advantage of the extra capacity. The same is true of the human brain—it may be bigger than the ape’s, but the real difference is the more complicated programming it is able to run. The big question is how the new programs come into being. One thing is certain: it is difficult to add radically new capacities to a program by randomly modifying it in the hope that by gradual small changes it will improve. It is more reasonable and logical to suppose that a process of designing and engineering a completely new system of software is what’s really involved.

Another example of the difficulties facing evolutionary theory may be found in the statocyst of a certain species of shrimp.9 The statocyst is a small, hollow, fluid-filled organ that helps the shrimp balance itself. Amazingly, its function depends upon the shrimp inserting a grain of sand into it through a tiny opening. By means of the pressure the grain exerts upon the sensitive hairs lining the inner walls of the statocyst, the shrimp can tell up from down. It is extremely difficult to imagine any series of gradual intermediate steps that might have led to the statocyst and the behavior associated with it.

At this point, when it becomes clear that a physical explanation of the origin of complex structures is out of reach, some scientists try to save the theory of evolution by appealing to blind chance. Although we have discussed this topic before in this magazine, the appeal to chance is so common in science that we feel it important to again dispel some of the misconceptions associated with it. Scientists making this appeal propose that somehow or other, everything comes together in just the right way by chance. But this involves a serious misconception. Chance is only meaningful when you can repeat an event and observe statistical patterns in the results.

For example, imagine you were the first person to ever flip a coin. If you could flip it only once, you really couldn’t draw any conclusions about the chances of heads coming up rather than tails. Even if you flipped it five times, a pattern might not emerge—it might come up heads all five times. But if you flip it several hundred times, you are justified in making probability statements about the event.

Now how does all this relate to evolution? It is clear that the origin of a species is not something that can be repeatedly observed. Yet, as we have previously noted, the evolutionary theorist Theodosius Dobzhansky has stated that there is almost zero chance of human evolution being repeated. In general, when evolutionary theorists evoke chance they are talking about probabilities so small that you would not expect events with such probabilities to occur even once in the course of a span of time billions of times longer than the accepted age of the universe. (See “Could Life Arise by Chance?”, p. 34.)

So in considering evolutionary events that are likely to occur only once in hundreds of billions (or even trillions) of attempts, it becomes useless to speak of them in terms of chance. It would be meaningful if you could repeat the events many hundreds of billions of times, but we are dealing with events that historically are supposed to have occurred but once. Therefore, if scientists can offer no acceptable physical explanation of the origin of the complex physical structures of an organism, then these structures become simply “unique events.” We cannot say anything certain about their origin. All we can say is that they exist.

Some evolutionists have already been forced to draw similar conclusions. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the deans of modern evolutionary theory, says in his book This View of Life: “The factors that have determined the appearance of man have been so extremely special, so very long continued, so incredibly intricate that I have been able hardly to hint at them here. Indeed, they are far from all being known, and everything we learn seems to make them even more appallingly unique.”10

OM 7-2: Does Evidence Support Design Model?

Does Evidence Support Design Model?

At this point, it is safe to say that the laws of physics do not fully account for evolution as it is currently being put forward. Yet the idea of evolution is so thoroughly embedded in people’s minds that it is difficult for them to objectively consider alternative explanations. Oftentimes, it’s a case of the theory determining how evidence is seen rather than vice versa.

Here are some common examples of evidence that people uncritically assume support the idea of evolution: the fact that creatures of different species have similar bodily parts; the fact that creatures of similar structure have similar genetic content; the fact that some creatures have what appear to be vestiges of organs or structures that were more fully developed or useful in their presumed ancestors; the fact that plant and animal breeders have been able to modify species to some extent; and the fact that the observed features of organisms sometimes appear to contradict what would be expected of an intelligent creator. But the lines of reasoning leading from these evidences to the exclusive conclusion of evolution are weak, and it’s quite possible that other explanations may better fit the facts.

Similar body parts in different species might suggest to some a common ancestry, but an intelligent creator might also use similar parts in constructing unique physical forms. In fact, that would be more efficient than designing completely new parts for each species. When human engineers build a new model of jet aircraft, they make use of structures already designed and tested in previous aircraft. So why should a superintelligent designer of organisms work in a less efficient way?

In recent years, geneticists have discovered that in species of similar form the DNA and other proteins have similar molecular structures. So just as evolutionists have deduced ancestral relationships among species from similarities in physical form, some of them now deduce such relationships from the genetic similarities. It is not, however, very surprising that similar species would have similar genetic materials. But the main point is that such similarities show nothing definite about how the organisms originated and cannot be used as proof of Darwinian-style evolution. If an intelligent designer had produced varieties of organisms with certain structural similarities, we would also expect to see parallel molecular relationships. In one of his recent books, prominent astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle reproduced a chart purporting to show evolutionary relationships among species based upon molecular studies. He observed, “One should not be deceived, however, by the elegance of this result into thinking that [the chart] proves the existence of an evolutionary tree. What it shows is that if a tree existed, then it was like this.”11

It can be reasonably argued that vestigial organs may be the result of design rather than evolution. The embryo of the baleen whale, for example, is said to possess what appear to be vestigial teeth. In the process of embryonic development, these are reabsorbed and replaced in the adult form by baleen (long, fringed structures in the mouth of the whale used to strain tiny organisms from seawater for food). Evolutionists take the vestigial teeth as evidence that the baleen whale evolved from a whale species that had teeth.

But there is another possible explanation. Let us suppose that an intelligent creator wanted to design a large number of whalelike forms in the most efficient way. He might start with genetic coding for a basic body plan that included teeth. When he arrived at the plan for the body of the baleen whale, he could alter the genes to suppress the growth of teeth and add genetic information to cause the growth of the baleen strainers. In this version, you would also expect to see embryonic teeth. Altogether the design hypothesis is as reasonable as the evolutionary hypothesis, and perhaps even more so, because the evolutionists have no step-by-step explanation for the origin of baleen. They can only assert that it happened by a kind of evolutionary magic. Despite all this they reject outright any argument in favor of design, a possibility they refuse to consider because it violates their unproven belief that everything in the universe can be explained by unaided physical laws and processes.

Ever since the time of Darwin, the changes resulting from breeding have been put forward as evidence for evolution. If man can produce limited changes in plants and animals over a few generations, then just imagine the possibilities of change over the course of millions of years. So goes the reasoning.

But evolution by natural selection and inducing changes in plants and animals by breeding are not at all comparable. In breeding there is a deliberate intent to obtain specific results—a bigger apple, a cow that produces more milk—but in the process of natural selection there is no intelligent directing plan. And in the absence of such a plan how do you get the results? How do we know for sure that natural selection will actually channel a process of evolution in a direction of progressive change toward more highly developed species?

It could just as well tend to simplify bodily plans much as possible, because that would be more economical and thus of greater benefit to the organism. At present, however, we have no way of knowing which direction natural selection will favor—other than assertions by evolutionists. Everything they say about natural selection comes after the fact. Why do elephants have such big ears? Because it gave them a selective advantage, they say. What’s the next step for the elephants? They can’t even give a hint.

It may be admitted that natural selection will eliminate individuals of a species that are unfit to survive, but there is no proof that the dying off of the unfit will result in the whole species gradually changing into another one. And even if species did transform, how do we know that natural selection would not inevitably lead to species that are energy efficient—slow and low to the ground with big, thick shells like turtles? Natural selection is supposed to select traits that are the best for survival, but can any evolutionist specify just what is advantageous for survival? Why hasn’t radio evolved in amphibious descendants of electric eels? They certainly would have the basic equipment for it, and it seems like it would confer a lot of advantages.

Also, all available evidence shows that there are limits to the changes that can be brought about by breeding. The noted American botanist Luther Burbank stated, “I know from experience that I can develop a plum half an inch long or one two-and-a-half inches long, with every possible length in between, but I am willing to admit that it is hopeless to try to get a plum the size of a small pea, or one as big as a grapefruit. I have roses that bloom pretty steadily for six months of the year, but I have none that will bloom twelve, and I will not have. In short, there are limits to the development possible.”12 This hard fact about breeding doesn’t bode any good for evolution, because if there are built in limits to how far you can change a species there is no possibility that you could get evolution of new species.

The process of breeding is something like stretching a rubber band. It stretches only so far—and then it either breaks or snaps back. For example, during the nineteenth century, domesticated rabbits were brought into Australia, where there were no native rabbits. When some of these domesticated rabbits escaped, they bred freely among themselves, and very quickly their descendants reverted to the original, wild type.13

Ernst Mayr of Harvard, one of the most prominent advocates of evolution, met with the same problem in his own experiments with fruit flies. He tried to decrease and increase the bristles on the bodies of the flies. The average is 36, and he got them up to 56, but at that point the flies began to die out. He also bred them down to 25 bristles, but after he allowed them to return to unselective breeding they were back to average within five years.14 These results reveal a major anti-evolutionary characteristic of species: when changes are pushed beyond a certain limit members of a species will become sterile and die out or else revert to their standard form.

The French zoologist Pierre-P. Grassi points out in his book Evolution of Living Organisms, “The changes brought about in the genetic stock [by breeding] affect appearances much more than fundamental structures and functions. In spite of the intense pressure applied by artificial selection (eliminating any parent not answering the criterion of choice) over whole millennia, no new species are born. … Ten thousands years of mutations, crossbreeding, and selection have mixed the inheritance of the canine species in innumerable ways without its losing its chemical and cytological [cellular] unity. The same is observed of all domestic animals: the ox (at least 4,000 years old), the fowl (4,000), the sheep (6,000), etc.”15

In short, it may be possible to induce changes in the existing form by breeding (making the creature smaller or bigger, for example), but it does not appear possible to generate entirely new complex structures in the organism in this way. If this cannot happen by man’s conscious efforts, why should we assume it could happen by blind natural processes?

Darwin himself admitted the difficulty of accounting for complex form in The Origin of Species. “To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.”16

Darwin then goes on to suggest in an extremely sketchy way that you can have a sequence of gradual changes taking you from a light-sensitive spot in some primitive creature to a mammalian eye. But this sort of magic-wand waving will not do. True science would demand detailed descriptions of exactly how each transitional stage would be formed. To put the matter in proper perspective, it would be like going from a slide projector to a color television merely by successive modifications of design. If someone were to claim this were possible, he should be able to provide us with schematic drawings and working models. Yet nothing approaching this has been offered in support of claims of evolution of complex forms in living organisms.

As we have many times suggested, this leaves open the possibility of an intelligent designer. Yet many evolutionists feel that the particular way organisms are structured rules out such an intelligent designer. Harvard paleontologist Stephen J. Gould writes, “Odd arrangements and funny solutions are the proof of evolution—paths that a sensible God would never tread.”17 As an example, he cites the Panda’s thumb. The Panda bear has a thumb it can use to grasp the bamboo shoots that form the mainstay of its diet. This thumb, however, is not one of the five fingers of the normal mammalian paw. Rather this extra digit is constructed from a modified wrist bone, with appropriate rearrangement of the musculature.

In essence Gould claims, “God would not have done it that way. Therefore it must have happened by evolution.” But this negative theological reasoning is invalid on many counts. The first point is that it is inappropriate for the evolutionists to introduce in their favor a concept they have completely excluded from their account of reality—namely God. Secondly, we might ask from where they have obtained such explicit information about how God would or would not create things if He existed? How do they know He might not produce new features in organisms by modifying existing ones?

In the case of the Panda’s thumb, we note that although Gould rejects design by God as an explanation, he fails to provide an adequate explanation by evolutionary processes. He simply states that a single change in a regulatory gene, which controls the action of many structural genes, was responsible for the whole complex development of bone and muscle. But he does not specify which regulatory gene changed, nor does he explain how a change in the regulatory gene would orchestrate this remarkable transformation. He offers nothing more than the traditional vague magic-wand explanation.

The evolutionists have not conclusively shown that an evolutionary process, guided only by the laws of physics, actually occurs. They have no real theory, only vague speculations backed up by imperfect arguments. When faced with design as a factor in accounting for the origin of complex organisms, they often set up stereotyped simplistic concepts of God as a straw man to knock down. To admit any cause other than physical ones would be to admit the failure of modern science’s basic strategy for comprehending reality, a strategy that has resulted in a radical narrowing of intellectual options. Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the idea of an intelligent designer of complex organisms should not be rejected. This suggests a whole new strategy for approaching scientific questions. If an intelligent designer exists, then it might be possible to obtain from this source accurate information about the actual origin of species. This possibility will be further examined in the final article of this magazine, “Higher-Dimensional Science.”

OM 7-3: References

REFERENCES

  1. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species (New York: Atheneum, 1972), p. 184.
  2. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (New York: New American Library, 1964), p. 306.
  3. Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business (New York: Washington Square Press, 1982), pp. 31–32.
  4. Niles Eldredge, The Monkey Business, pp. 36, 41.
  5. Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, “Future People,” Science 83 (March 1983), p. 74.
  6. Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Darwinian Evolution and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life,” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Winter 1972), p. 173.
  7. John Maynard Smith, “The Limitations of Evolutionary Theory,” The Encyclopedia of Ignorance, ed. Ronald Duncan and Miranda Weston-Smith (New York: Pocket Books, 1977), p. 237.
  8. Howard C. Berg, “How Bacteria Swim,” Scientific American, (August 1975), pp. 36–44.
  9. Wolfgang von Buddenbrock, The Senses (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1958J pp. 138–141.
  10. George Gaylord Simpson, This View of Life (New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc., 1964), p. 268.
  11. Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution From Space (N.Y: Simon and Schuster, 1981), p. 84.
  12. Norman Macbeth, Darwin Retried (Boston: Gambit, 197 1), p. 36.
  13. Pierre-P. Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms (New York: Academic Press, 1977), p. 124.
  14. Francis Hitching, The Neck of the Giraffe (New York: New American Library, 1982), p. 41.
  15. Pierre-P. Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms, p. 125.
  16. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, (New York: New American Library, 1964), p. 168.
  17. Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb (New York: W, W. Norton & Co., 1980), pp. 20–21.

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