In2-MeC

newly discovered entries of In2-DeepFreeze       First Generation Animations

Delhi, India
19 February 2004

Is There Any Science in Evolutionary Theory?

A collection of articles from the Internet

Why Science is Against Evolution

The theory of evolution depends upon three conditions.

Life Happens
Creative Mutations
Lots of Time

Let's look at each of these conditions, one at a time.

Life Happens

According to the theory of evolution, at some time in the distant past there was no life in the universe -- just elements and chemical compounds. Somehow, these chemicals had to combine to form Frankencell, which came to life somehow. (Presumably, a lightning bolt and a deformed assistant were involved. )

The February 1988 issue of EARTH magazine is a special issue on Origins. The cover promises an article that will tell us "How Life Really Began". The article itself, however, says that scientists just don't know. Even Stanley Miller, whose experiments are cited in most biology text books, states in that article that the origin of life is still unknown.

There are only two documented cases of inanimate objects coming to life.

Pinocchio
Frosty the Snowman

Most scientists consider these two reports to be false.

The notion that dead material can come to life all by itself is not consistent with scientific observation.

Creative Mutations

Under normal circumstances, creatures give birth to the same kind of creatures. One does not expect a lizard to hatch from a chicken egg. Chickens have baby chickens. It is established scientific fact that like begets like.

On rare instances, the DNA in an embryo is damaged, resulting in a mutant child that differs in some respect from its parent. Only a few mutations have been scientifically observed that are arguably beneficial. It is well known that mutations produce inferior offspring. For the theory of evolution to be true, there must be a fantastic number of creative mutations that produce new kinds of offspring which are better suited for survival, and therefore are favored by natural selection.

It is claimed that the reptile-to-mammal evolution is well documented. But for reptiles to evolve into mammals

scales had to have mutated into hair
breasts had to have evolved from nothing
hard-shelled externally laid eggs had to evolve into soft-shelled eggs that were nourished by an umbilical cord and placenta in a womb etc.

None of these transformations have ever been observed in a laboratory.

The notion that random genetic changes can produce creative mutations is not consistent with scientific observation.

Lots of Time

Sadly, it is well known that living things can die. This has often been observed. It has NOT been scientifically demonstrated that a dead thing can come to life. Despite this, evolutionists believe that given enough time, something dead will come to life by some method or another.

It has never been observed in any laboratory that mutations can cause one species to turn into another. Despite this, evolutionists believe that given enough time, some critters will eventually evolve into other critters.

Evolutionists claim that although we have not actually observed these things happening, that does not mean that they are impossible. They say it simply means they are extremely improbable. It is extremely improbable that you can toss a coin and have it come up heads 100 times in a row. But if you toss coins long enough, eventually it will happen. Evolutionists think the world has been around long enough for all these highly improbable things to happen.

The old ages for the Earth come primarily from the ages of rocks, which are dated by the presumed ages of the fossils in them. Radioactive measurements of rocks are based on assumptions that were chosen to make the radioactive measurements agree with the presumed ages of the fossils.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens produced many feet of stratified rocks which look millions of years old, but were produced in days or hours. Radioactive measurements of these rocks show them to be millions of years old, too. But we know they were formed in 1980 because scientists saw them formed.

Conclusion

The theory of evolution is not believed because of scientific evidence. It is believed DESPITE scientific evidence. Science is against the theory of evolution.

1998 Science Review

Science News summarized the most important stories they reported in 1998. It included some truly remarkable scientific advancements. Many of these advancements were made in biology, largely due to progress in gene sequencing and the resulting understanding of how living organisms function. This led to dramatic, and controversial, medical experiments. In other fields, chemists created a fullerene molecule smaller than a buckyball, and discovered how to make carbon nanotubes emit light. Computer scientists dramatically reduced the time necessary to decipher messages encrypted using the Data Encryption Standard, and wrote a program that can play poker well against expert poker players.

It was a good year for science, but not for evolution. Many of the 1998 articles in Science News fell into two categories:

things that evolutionists used to tell us were true, but now tell us are false; and

things that evolutionists used to tell us were false, but now tell us are true.

As you can imagine, it makes it difficult and frustrating for us when evolutionists debunk evolution faster than we can. But this happens every year. We are getting used to it, and we will try not to whine so much about it in 1999.

In 1998, evolutionists decided that ancient people werent so primitive after all. They now believe Homo erectus was smart enough to sail to Indonesia 800,000 years ago, and learned to talk 400,000 years ago. Mesopotamians knew how to make artificial rock about 2000 B. C. Ancient Peruvians were expert metal workers, and prehistoric Native Americans made "sophisticated sandals and slip-on shoes. " 1 But, on the other hand, they decided that Neanderthal people couldnt really play flute. Australian aborigines took longer to get out of their cave dwellings and into the suburbs than previously believed.

Evolutionists embraced the asteroid collision theory in greater numbers, and decided "the mass extinction at the end of the Permian period happened much faster than previously thought. " 2 Then, "Studies of fossil teeth suggested that a drop in carbon dioxide concentrations redirected mammalian evolution. " 3 (Isnt it wonderful what you can learn when inference from teeth is given equal weight with experimentation?)

Life evolved earlier than previously thought. "Fossilized soil deposits indicate that life may have colonized the continents as much as 2 billion years ago. " 4 "Researchers debated whether marks on 1. 1-billion-year-old sandstone were the oldest animal fossils. " 5 "The discovery of feathered dinosaur fossils in China boosted the theory that birds arose from dinosaurs. " 6 Some fish that went extinct 80 million years ago got new life, because some coelacanths were found alive and well swimming in Indonesian waters.

But the big news in 1998, which Science News reported on three times, is that the universe appears to be expanding at an ever-increasing rate because of some mysterious, anti-gravitational force. As a result, the cover of the January 1999 issue of Scientific American declared, "New observations have smashed the old view of our universe. "

We believe the Big Bang theory is totally wrong. So, it isnt surprising to us that as we build more powerful telescopes on Earth, and put astronomical satellites in orbit, their measurements dont confirm the theory. For example, the estimated mass of all the observed objects in the universe is much smaller than that predicted by the Big Bang. So, rather than declare the Big Bang wrong, astronomers said that 90% to 99% of the matter in the universe is Dark Matter which cant be detected. But the gravity from all this imaginary matter predicts much different positions and velocities for the newly observed stars and galaxies. So,

The universe may not be governed by the gravity of ordinary matter after all. Instead the universe may be controlled by the so-called cosmological constant, a surreal form of energy that imparts a gravitational repulsion rather than attraction. Because physicists know so little--nothing would be a fair approximation--about the constant, the fate of the universe is back where it started: in the realm of uncertainty. "7

Why do evolutionists believe in the new cosmology? Probably because the old one is clearly wrong, and they know it. Why else would they embrace a new cosmology based on an anti-gravity force nobody has observed and for which nobody has proposed a mechanism?

Footnotes:

  1. Science News, Vol. 154, December 19 & 26, 1998, page 402 (Ev)
  2. ibid. page 407
  3. ibid. page 409
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.
  6. ibid
  7. George Musser, Scientific American, January 1999, page 6 (Ev)

The Many Myths of Evolution

It is hard to discuss the problems with the theory of evolution because there are so many theories of evolution. All of them have major problems. Let's look at them.

Lamarkian Inheritance

Modern theories of evolution begin with the 18th century French evolutionist Jean-Baptiste Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamark. In the 1790's he popularized the idea of "the development or atrophy of organs through 'use or disuse' and their transmission to offspring who inherit these 'acquired characteristics'". 1 His ideas weren't universally accepted because he could not really explain how or why these characteristics were passed on. He had a vague notion that they were passed on because the critter "must" pass them on.

When a child sees Christmas presents under the tree, the child believes that Santa must have been there, which proves the existence of Santa Claus. In the same way, Lamark saw different sized trees, which he took as evidence that the taller trees must have evolved from shorter trees, which was his proof of evolution.

Since the French word Lamark used for "must" (besoin) was translated as "wants to" in the English translations of his work, English-speaking critics made fun of his idea that Giant Sequoia trees produced seeds for taller trees because the trees wanted to have taller offspring. This criticism wasn't entirely fair. Lamark didn't believe plants had conscious will. But the criticism stuck because Lamark made no attempt to explain the evolutionary mechanism. This left his theory of evolution too c lose to the realm of magic and miracles for scientists to accept it.

Darwinism

Darwin revived the theory of evolution by doing what Lamark could not do. He supplied a plausible mechanism for descent with modification. He correctly observed: (1) there is a certain amount of variation in offspring; (2) there are more offspring produced than can survive; (3) in the fight for survival, the best variants live and the worst variants die. He correctly concluded that this gradually causes small, but noticeable, changes in species.

Darwin then extrapolated this truth into non-truth. He believed that these gradual changes could continue without limit, resulting in changes so large that entirely new species would evolve. He believed that when more fossils were found, the fossil record would show evidence of these gradual changes. But after more than 130 years of searching, those fossils have not been found.

Pangenesis

Both Lamark and Darwin believed in pangenesis. According to pangenesis, a trait acquired by a parent during his or her lifetime could be passed on to children (Lamarkian or "soft" inheritance). If a man worked to develop large muscles, for instance, the repeated habit of weight-lifting would somehow leave a lasting record in the cells of his body. Particles carrying this information were called "gemmules. " They would migrate from all parts of the body to the sex cells, whereby they could be inherited by the offspring. 2

We now know that acquired characteristics can't be inherited. If you look at really old issues of National Geographic, you will see pictures of African women who from early childhood had placed increasingly large wooden crescents between their teeth and their lips, causing their lips to stick out several inches by they time the were adults, making them very beautiful (at least, in the eyes of the African men of that era). Their daughters, however, were never born with these big, beautiful lips. Every generation of girls painfully had to acquire large lips themselves.

Darwin, who was not a subscriber to National Geographic, didn't know this. He thought that giraffes who stretched their necks to eat the leaves other giraffes could not reach would have children with longer necks. The truth is, acquired characteristics are never inherited.

Suppose I tried to tell you that if you studied hard and spent a lot of time thinking, then you would have children who would be smarter and have bigger brains. You would have good justification for laughing at me. If I told you that we should eliminate IQ tests and simply measure the size of a child's head to determine how intelligent he is, you could legitimately say that is a stupid idea. It is well-known that you can't tell how smart a man is by measuring the size of his brain. You also know that knowledge can't be inherited. These are stupid ideas! But see how these very ideas are used by a UCSC biologist to explain how the human race evolved:

The force that seems to have accelerated our brain's growth is a new kind of stimulant: language, signs, collective memories-all elements of culture. As our cultures evolved in complexities, so did our brains, which then drove our cultures to still greater complexity. Big and clever brains led to more complex cultures, which in turn led to bigger and cleverer brains. 3

In other words, he claims that exercising our brains makes them stronger, and that this acquired characteristic is inherited by our children. This lets them think harder, making them even smarter, and so every generation gets smarter. The foolish not ion of pangenesis still plays a part in modern, main-stream evolution.

Neo-Darwinism

When biologists learned more about genetics, and discovered that acquired characteristics could not be inherited, this dealt a serious blow to Darwinism. But in 1905, George Romanes recognized that there is a difference between acquired characteristics and inherited characteristics. He proposed the theory of Neo-Darwinism, which asserted that natural selection could operate using only inherited characteristics. This gave Darwinism a temporary reprieve by replacing Darwin's erroneous concept of inheritance with a plausible genetic explanation for differences in offspring.

Natural Selection

Natural selection is simply the process that determines who wins the battle for survival. It is the filter that removes the inferior individuals and allows the superior ones to reproduce.

Synthetic Theory

The mathematical field of statistics and probability can be used to describe natural variations of things, including populations of living creatures. If you take the concept of a population of creatures with small differences (which are the result of inherited characteristics) and combine it with natural selection you get the Synthetic Theory of evolution. This theory says that the randomness of variations in offspring is guided by natural selection producing a gradual genetic drift towards new, better, more highly-evolved species.

When people talk about Neo-Darwinsim or Gradualism, they usually are really talking about the Synthetic Theory. The Synthetic Theory is one of the two most commonly believed theories of evolution today.

The Synthetic Theory, however, has some major recognized problems. The first problem is that the amount of genetic variation in normal offspring is limited. You can breed thoroughbred horses for speed, but there is a limit to how fast they can run. Everything we have learned from breeding dogs, pigeons, cows, pigs, or any another animal, has shown us that there are limits to the natural variations in animals.

Second, the Synthetic Theory is absolutely incompatible with the fossil record. If the Synthetic Theory were true, then the fossil record would contain, for example, a series of giraffe-like animals. The oldest would have relatively short legs and necks. The more modern ones would have longer legs and necks. But the fossil record doesn't show that.

The real question in the fossil record is not, "What happened to the dinosaurs?" It is, "Where did the dinosaurs come from?" The fossil record doesn't show a gradual change from any creature into Tyrannosaurus Rex, or any other dinosaur.

Hopeful Monsters (Saltation)

By 1940 it was clear (to Richard Goldschmidt, at least) that genetic research had proved that species cannot gradually evolve into other species, and that the fossil record showed that they had not. Since Goldschmidt believed that evolution must have happened somehow, he rejected Darwin's statement that Natura non facit saltum ("Nature does not make jumps"). He reasoned that a small change in a gene might cause a large change in a mutant offspring.

Of course it is true that sometimes five-legged frogs are found living in polluted streams. Mutant creatures can be radically different from their parents. Maybe a reptile did once lay an egg, and a bird hatched out of it. But it isn't very likely.

It has often been observed that mutations are harmful and rarely, if ever, beneficial. It is said that two heads are better than one, and two-headed calves have been born, but two-headed cows have not driven the one-headed variety into extinction yet.

If Goldschmidt's Hopeful Monster theory is true, then there had to be thousands of mutants that each developed into a different species. It is a hard theory to take seriously. Not very many scientists do.

Punctuated Equilibrium

In 1972, it was still evident from the study of genetics that species can't gradually evolve into other species, and the fossil record still showed that species didn't gradually evolve into other species. The Synthetic Theory was not consistent with scientific data. The only other options were Lamark's unspecified magic process and Goldschmidt's Hopeful Monster theory. Neither of these theories were acceptable. So, Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge proposed the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium. This popularized Ernst Mayr's earlier idea that "speciation could occur fairly rapidly in small, isolated populations. Cut off from the larger gene pool by geographic barriers, a small amount of variation would be amplified by selection. " 4

The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium is the other main theory of evolution that is accepted in evolutionary circles today. Its popularity is due to the fact that it is consistent with the fossil record (which shows no evidence of gradual evolution) without resorting to hopeful monsters.

The problem with this theory is that there isn't any positive evidence to support it. It claims that gradual evolution happens so quickly, in such limited areas, that the chances of finding any transitional fossils is essentially zero. Transitional fossils haven't been found, which is what the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium predicts. So, the fossils that haven't been found are claimed as support for the theory.

Horses

Many people think that transitional fossils have been found. They usually cite the evolution of the horse as an example. The Encyclopedia of Evolution, which has earned an Ev+ rating because it is highly critical of creationists in its sections on Flat-Earthers, Fundamentalism, Scientific Creationism, and Noah's Flood, has a section entitled "HORSE, EVOLUTION OF Saddled With Errors". (Gee, we wish we'd said that. ) It says,

[Yale paleontologist Othniel C. ] Marsh's classic (straight-line) development of the horse became enshrined in every biology textbook and in a famous exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History. It showed a sequence of mounted skeletons, each one larger and with a more well-developed hoof than the last. (The exhibit is now hidden from public view as an outdated embarrassment. )

Almost a century later, paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson reexamined horse evolution and concluded that generations of students had been misled. In his book Horses (1951), he showed that there was no simple, gradual unilineal development at all.

Marsh arranged his fossils to "lead up" to the one surviving species, blithely ignoring many inconsistencies and any contradictory evidence. 5

If you look at the textbooks used at Burroughs High School 6 and Cerro Coso Community College7, you will see beautiful illustrations showing the classic straight-line development of the horse are still enshrined there. I don't know if those science teachers tell their students that this is an obsolete theory that has been discredited, but both books present the figures as if this development of the horse is still believed to be true by paleontologists. It may be possible that generations of students are still being misled.

One wonders why these textbooks still use the horse as their showcase example of a "progressive series of fossils leading from an ancient, primitive organism, through several intermediate stages, and culminating in the modern form. " 8 Could it be because they don't have anything else to offer in its place?

Creation of Life

It is popularly believed that experiments have been done that showed that the chemicals present in the early Earth's oceans and atmosphere could have formed amino acids, which could have combined to form proteins, which eventually turned into the first living cell. This myth arose from the publication of the results of experiments done by Miller 9 and Fox. 10

On March 28, 1997, we showed the video. "Is Life Just Chemistry?" in which Michael Girouard, M. D. , showed that these experiments did not prove that amino acids and proteins could have formed naturally. In fact, they prove that life could not have happened that way.

After we showed the video, our favorite critic complained that we had taken a cheap shot by bringing up Miller and Fox. He said that those two series of experiments had been done more than 40 years ago, and that the errors in them are well known. He said that everybody knows that those experiments led nowhere, and that no respectable scientists are doing work along those lines. He said modern research into the origin of life is taking other approaches, but has not produced any positive results yet.

We agree with everything our critic said, except for the part that "everybody knows" it. It is our position that the general public does not know that these experiments failed and mistakenly believes that they succeeded.

One reason we believe that many people are misinformed is because the previously mentioned local high school text 11 presents the work of Miller and Fox as if it were long-established scientific proof of how life evolved.

The second reason is that the previously mentioned 1996 college textbook says this:

Organic Molecules Can Be Synthesized Spontaneously under Prebiotic Conditions In 1953, inspired by the ideas of Oparin and Haldane, Stanley Miller, a graduate student, and his adviser Harold Urey of the University of Chicago set out to demonstrate prebiotic evolution in the laboratory. They mixed water, ammonia, hydrogen, and methane in a flask and provided energy with heat and electrical charge (to simulate lightening). They found simple organic molecules appeared after just a few days (Fig 19-2). In these and similar experiments, Miller and others have produced amino ac ids, short proteins, nucleotides, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and other molecules characteristic of living things. 12

But even the strongly-biased Encyclopedia of Evolution admits:

Decades of persistent failure to "create life" by the "spark in the soup" method (or to find such productions in nature) have caused researchers to seek other approaches to the great enigma. 13

But even the most promising, technically sophisticated attempts to demonstrate the origin of life from nonliving chemicals are still guesses and gropes in the dark. For almost a century, many scientists have taught that some version of the "spark in the soup" theory "must" be true. Repetition of this idea as fact, without sufficient evidence, has done a disservice to new generations by capping their curiosity about a profound and open question. 14

To reputable scientists it may look like we are taking cheap shots at old, abandoned theories, but we will have to keep shooting until the public school textbooks abandon them.

Panspermia

Panspermia is the belief that life could not have started by natural processes on Earth, so it must have started in outer space. This theory was first suggested by British astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1978.

Simple life forms or amino acids may have ridden to Earth on comets or meteors. Of course, Hoyle recognizes this is no explanation for the origin of life; it simply moves the problem to another time and place. 15

The important point is that it moves the problem from a place (the Earth) where it has been scientifically proven that life could not naturally originate, to a place (anywhere else in the universe) where one can imagine any set of fantastic condition s that might be conducive to prebiotic evolution. That's why evolutionists want to believe so desperately that meteorite ALH84001 really does contain signs of life.

Summary

We agree that "repetition of this idea [that life could have been caused by a "spark in the soup"] as fact, without sufficient evidence, has done a disservice to new generations by capping their curiosity about a profound and open question. " In fact, we would extend this statement to say that the repetition of the idea that evolution is a fact, without sufficient evidence, has done a disservice to the advancement of science in general. It has prejudiced the reconstruction of fossils and the interpretation of geology and astronomy. Science will truly advance when we discard the theory of evolution and examine data without evolutionary prejudice.

Footnotes:

  1. Milner, The Encyclopedia of Evolution (1993), page 375 (Ev+)
  2. Ibid. page 353
  3. Wills, The Runaway Brain (1993), quoted by Richard Leakey, The Origin of Humans (1994), page 85 (Ev)
  4. Milner, The Encyclopedia of Evolution (1993) page 375 (Ev+)
  5. Ibid. page 222
  6. Sylvia S. Mader, Biology 3rd edition (1990), page 306 (Ev)
  7. Teresa Audesirk, Biology 4th edition (1996), page 312 (Ev)
  8. Ibid. page 312
  9. Stanley L. Miller, "A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions", Science, Vol. 117, No. 3046 (1953) (Ev)
  10. Sidney W. Fox and K. Baal, Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life, Dover Publishing (1953) (Ev)
  11. Sylvia S. Mader, Biology 3rd edition (1990), pages 328 - 332 (Ev)
  12. Teresa Audesirk, Biology 4th edition (1996), pages 365-366 (Ev)
  13. Milner, The Encyclopedia of Evolution (1993) page 274 (Ev+)
  14. Ibid. page 274
  15. Ibid. page 354

 

Meat and the Brain of the Evolutionist

On page 95 of the May 1997 issue of National Geographic magazine we read,

Meat and bone marrow also gave them [Homo erectus] the extra energy to grow larger brains. Have there been any scientific studies that support this statement? If so, why don't we include bone marrow in the school lunch program? Why don't they sell bone marrow supplements to improve your memory?

Of course there is a minimum nutrition level that one must achieve for organs to develop to their natural functionality. Once that level is achieved, however, additional nutrition or calories do not make critters evolve to the next higher level. You can't feed a gorilla enough meat and bone marrow to turn it into a person. Computer programmers are not smarter than the rest of the population because they exist entirely on a diet of TwinkiesTM and JoltTM cola.

The 19th century myth that a carnivorous diet is superior to a vegetarian diet is probably the source of this idea that apes evolved into people when they started eating meat. The modern medical advice is to cut down on meat and eat more fruits and v egetables if you want to be healthier, but the evolutionary tale still says that meat builds big brains and erect bodies.

The Fossil Trail Fizzles Out

The main reason we bought Ian Tattersall's book, The Fossil Trail, was its subtitle, "How we know what we think we know about human evolution". We are sensitive to criticism that we don't portray the evolutionists' positions correctly. We thought this 1995 book (written by the Head of the Anthropology Department at the American Museum of Natural History, who is also the Curator in Charge of the Hall of Human Biology and Evolution) would be an authoritative explanation of the evolutionists' current position on human evolution.

Tattersall took a chronological approach. He described each fossil discovery and how it affected the prevailing view about human evolution. Each chapter seemed to have the same outline. Somebody found a fragmentary fossil and used it to support a new theory. The new theory was rejected at first, then accepted later, but finally rejected at the beginning of the next chapter when somebody found a fragmentary fossil and used it to support a new theory. The new theory was rejected at first, then accepted later, but finally rejected at the beginning of the next chapter when somebody. . .

By chapter 11 we were totally confused.

Just what do evolutionists believe? But we pressed on because we thought chapter 17 would wipe the slate clean and present the currently accepted dogma. By the time we got to chapter 17, we frankly didn't care very much any more. We could not help bu t feel that when the second edition of this book comes out, it will contain chapter 18, which will explain why the theory presented in chapter 17 is as wrong as the theories presented in the preceding chapters. But we really needed to know what evolutionists believe today, so we pressed on.

Chapter 16 ends with these words:

As I said right at the beginning, what we think today depends very largely on what we thought yesterday. If the entire human fossil record were to be discovered tomorrow, and studied by experienced paleontologists who had developed their skills in t he absence of preconceptions about human origins, I am pretty sure that (after the inevitable bout of intellectual indigestion) a range of interpretations would emerge that is very different from those on offer now.

With this caveat, then, let's go back to the basic fossil evidence of our own origins and emergence, bearing in mind our historical interpretive burden. We all want to know where we came from; and knowing where received wisdom colors our perceptions of our origins may help us to approach this question a bit more dispassionately. 1

Having said this, Tattersall comes up with "an interpretation that is very different from those on offer now" in chapter 17. It appears that a better subtitle for the book would have been , "We now know that we don't know what we think we know about human evolution; but we do know why we don't think we know it, I think. " If you really want to appreciate the magnitude of the confusion about human evolution and understand why there is so much controversy among evolutionists, you should read The Fossil Trail for yourself.

Tattersall is remarkably candid when he explains how fossil remains are interpreted.

Eventually I plucked up the courage to ask a distinguished scholar the crucial question: How does one study fossils? How does one understand what they tell us about the history of life? The answer? "You look at them long enough, and they speak to you. "

Nowadays I realize that this response has a great deal more merit than it would appear to on the surface. . .

Well, despite my disappointment at the time I'd nowadays be the last person to dispute the importance of intuition in science; for there's no doubt that it stands as the very foundation of scientific creativity. 2

Based on this intuition (that is, what he hears the fossils telling him), the scientist creates a scenario describing how things came to be the way there were found.

. . . the average scenario is a highly complex mishmash in which considerations of relationship, ancestry, time, ecology, adaptation, and a host of other things, are all inextricably intertwined, tending to feed back into each other. When you're out there selling such complicated narratives, normal scientific testability just isn't an issue: how many of your colleagues or others buy your story depends principally on how convincing or forceful a storyteller you are--and on how willing your audience is to believe the kind of thing you are saying. . 3

In other words, the commonly used technique for establishing the a theory of human origins is "proof by intimidation. "

Most people think that fossils are the strongest argument in favor of the theory of evolution. In fact, the fossil record contains a very strong argument against evolution. That's why the scientists who study fossils were among the first to reject the neo-Darwin synthetic theory of evolution. Tattersall himself, along with paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Steven Jay Gould, developed the theory of Punctuated Equilibrium.

For years paleontologists had labored mightily to fit the evidence provided by their fossils into the framework of stately change dictated by the New Evolutionary Synthesis; and by around 1970 some of them were coming to find that fit increasingly uncomfortable. The Synthesis, as you will recall, elegantly explained all evolutionary phenomena in terms of the gradual accretion of genetic changes in evolving lineages, all under the guiding hand of natural selection. In turn this implied that species, while discrete units in space, should lose definition in the dimension of time. Species were, in fact, viewed as nothing more than arbitrarily defined segments of evolving lineages which, if they didn't die out leaving no descendants, would inevitably evolve into something else. Time and anatomical change were thus thought to be more less synonymous. The implication of this was that the fossil record should consistently show smooth intergradations from one species to the next; inconveniently, however, it too often didn't. Species, it has turned out, tend to appear rather suddenly in the fossil record, to linger for varying but often very extended periods of time, and to disappear as suddenly as they arrived, to be replaced by other species which might or might not be closely related to them. For a long time--indeed, since Darwin himself--this failure of the fossils to accord with the expectation was explained away by the famous incompleteness of the record. But as the years passed and more and more fossils were found, the predictions of the Synthesis became increasingly out of sync with what was actually there. The time was evidently ripe for a reappraisal of the paleontologists' expectations from the theory--and thus of the theory itself. 4

He then goes on to explain the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which speculates that "speciation could occur fairly rapidly in small, isolated populations. Cut off from the larger gene pool by geographic barriers, a small amount of variation would be amplified by selection. "5

Freed from the annoying limitation of having to show any evidence of evolution from one form to another, all one needs to do is simply group the fossils by apparent similarity (using something called a cladogram) and draw a conclusion.

Given the wealth of interpretations available, it's a tall order to encapsulate the state of play in paleoanthropology today. . . What I can most usefully do by way of summary is, I think, to follow my own advice and to review the evidence for the past of our species by advancing from the simple to the complex: from a cladogram, to a phylogenetic tree, and finally to a brief scenario of our evolution. 6

Then he goes on to tell his story. As Tattersall pointed out, how many of his colleagues or others buy his story depends principally on how convincing or forceful a storyteller he is--and on how willing his audience is to believe the kind of thing he is saying.

Footnotes:

  1. Tattersall (1995) The Fossil Trail pages 226-227 (Ev)
  2. Ibid. page 165
  3. Ibid. page 169
  4. Ibid. pages 159 - 160
  5. Milner, The Encyclopedia of Evolution (1993), page 375 (Ev+)
  6. Tattersall (1995) The Fossil Trail page 229

 

It Doesn't Make Sense

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution. " -- Theodosius Dobzhanski

This quote has been repeated so often that it is generally accepted at face value without question. It appears on the Saint Louis University Department of Biology web page and a faculty web page at the Alabama School of Mathematics and Science.

Removing the double negative, it says, "Everything in biology makes sense only in the light of evolution. " If everything in biology is the result of evolution, then everything in biology should make sense in light of evolution. But many modern biological observations don't make sense in light of the nineteenth-century theory of evolution. .

Let's look at some examples.

Two Sidewinders

Here in the Mojave Desert we are all too familiar with the sidewinder rattlesnake. The sidewinder doesn't make sense in light of evolution. How could a snake evolve an organ that manufactures and stores toxic substances in its own body without killing itself? How likely is it that the toxic chemical storage facility would accidentally become connected to hollow fangs? Is there some plausible explanation for how the action of biting would naturally cause the venom to squirt out the fangs? How is it that the poison that kills the rat doesn't kill the snake that eats the poisoned rat?

Here in the Mojave Desert we are also familiar with the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile. (It was designed here at China Lake. ) How did an infrared seeker get connected to an autopilot which is connected to steering fins on a tube containing a rocket motor and high explosives attached to a triggering mechanism? Clearly, those things were consciously assembled to create something that destroys airplanes. It is just as clear that the venom delivery system in a sidewinder rattlesnake is a weapon system that is the result of planning and execution, not accident and selection.

It doesn't make sense that poison would evolve in snakes. Nor does it make sense that similar chemical warfare systems would evolve in jellyfish, frogs, insects, and plants.

Born-again Caterpillars

Consider the life-cycle of a monarch butterfly. 1 The monarch butterfly egg hatches into a caterpillar. The caterpillar eats leaves and grows until such time as it gets the irresistible urge to hang, upside-down, helpless for about 12 hours, while its body undergoes some internal changes. Then, it starts wiggling, and the caterpillar's skin breaks just behind the head. As it wiggles, the head, skin, and legs fall off, leaving just a capsule-shaped chrysalis. This chrysalis hangs there helpless for a week or two. During this time, its innards dissolve into a jelly-like substance that is comparable to the yolk and white of an egg. Just as the yolk and white of an egg congeal somehow into a chicken, the goo inside the chrysalis congeals into a butterfly. Finally, the chrysalis breaks, a butterfly wiggles out, and migrates 3,000 miles.

How does this make sense in light of evolution? What is the survival advantage of hanging helpless for a week or two? What series of genetic accidents could have caused this to happen? Why must a butterfly become an egg a second time and be born again?

One could argue that this makes sense in a world view that teaches that nature is full of spiritual object lessons; but it doesn't make sense in a world view that teaches everything happens by chance, and the most advantageous processes survive while less efficient ones go extinct.

More Examples

There are lots of other things that don't make sense in light of evolution. We wrote about a few of them last September in the Stone Age Mutant Mammal Turtles essay. Breasts, pouches, and udders don't make sense. Radical changes in respiratory and circulatory systems don't make sense.

We are sure that if you think about it for a little while, you could come up with your own long list of things that don't make sense in light of evolution.

We admit that there are a few things that do make sense in light of evolution. Selfishness, murder, rape, deceit, cannibalism, and racism, come immediately to mind. If evolution were true, these traits would help in the battle for survival, and would eventually manifest themselves in the surviving species. But just because people murder and commit rape doesn't prove that evolution is true. There could be another explanation for this behavior.

Be Skeptical

Don't just accept the party line. Get into the habit of asking yourself, "Does this biological observation make sense in light of evolution?" In most cases we believe that you will find that it doesn't. Scientists are wasting their time trying to make sense of something that will never make sense. Even in those cases where scientists come up with a somewhat plausible explanation for how something that didn't happen happened, that explanation will be wrong. Wrong explanations are worthless, no matter how plausible they seem.

Footnotes:

  1. For a more detailed explanation of the monarch's life cycle, including some excellent pictures, see From Darkness to Light to Flight (Monarch-the Miracle butterfly) by Jules H. Poirier. (Cr+)

<< Back

© 2003 - 2023 Suhotra Maharaja Archives - Vidyagati das