Now you see it, now you don’t!
Can we observe evolution?
Published: 10 January 2017 (GMT+10)
Many evolutionists seem to live with a kind of ‘schizophrenic’ mindset. They often claim evolution is ‘science’ and creation is ‘faith’—by which they mean blind faith not the biblical faith that’s connected to logic and evidence. But when someone touts science as being on their side, one naturally thinks of someone describing something observable, repeatable, and testable etc. After all, isn’t that what we were told in school science is based upon—observation and testability?
I’ll believe it when I see it!
Obviously if you are performing repeated experiments on something, then you are observing and experiencing the results in real time. With so many people declaring evolution is a ‘fact’ one would expect that evolutionists should be able to give us numerous examples of having observed evolution ‘in action’. How many do they actually have? None, according to the most famous evolution (and atheopathy) promoter on the planet!
“Evolution has been observed, it’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”1
Anyone with a rudimentary grasp of the English language can surely understand the conclusion. Richard Dawkins, the Amazon best-selling author of numerous books championing evolution, has admitted evolution hasn’t been observed!
Now this quote has surely caused Dawkins some pain as creationists quote him saying this in presentation after presentation, much to the chagrin of many of his evolution-believing devotees who have been convinced that evolution is a demonstrable fact.
And Dawkins isn’t alone. The most famous theistic evolutionary group has admitted the same thing.
Many still wonder why macroevolutionary changes have never been observed. The simple answer … is that we haven’t been watching long enough. The types of genetic mutations that eventually lead to macroevolutionary changes are rare, and this accounts for the slow pace of evolutionary development.2 [Emphasis mine]
So much for science in the observational sense. What to do?
Seeing is believing?
Some evolutionists take a completely different tack.
Actually, there is superabundant evidence for animals evolving under our eyes: British moths becoming darker since the Industrial Revolution (industrial melanization), insects evolving DDT resistance since World War II, malaria parasites evolving chloroquine resistance in the last two decades, and new strains of flu virus evolving every few years to infect us.3 [Hyperlinks added: to our articles dealing with these claims.]
But surely if these were good examples to use Dawkins (former Professor for Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University) and BioLogos (an evolutionary ‘think-tank’) would know about it and not have said what they did!
Of course the reason they didn’t use examples like this is that these are instances of natural selection, and unlike the average evolutionary ‘true believer’, more informed evolutionists understand that natural selection only selects from genetic information already present. It doesn’t create new distinct forms, functions and features in creatures which is what evolution requires.
Peppered Moths turning into Peppered Moths is not exactly proof that molecules turned into moths, mammoths and men over millions of years! As evolutionist L. Harrison Matthews admits in his 1971 Introduction to Darwin’s Origin of the Species;
“The experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection—or survival of the fittest—in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the populations may alter in their content of light, intermediate or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia.”4
And this was before severe problems were found in the Peppered Moth story.
Trying to equivocate the words evolution, natural selection and ‘change over time’ is a common tactic used by many evolutionists—also called ‘bait-and-switch’. Changes in living things have certainly been observed from generation to generation, but that isn’t what people mean when they say the word evolution in a big picture sense. Also, creationists have long pointed out that natural selection is an important part of the creation model. Since creationists are informing more and more people (especially in the church), the average Christian isn’t being fooled by such tactics nearly as much anymore.
Mutations in the DNA coding are the supposed engine of evolution that create new de novo genetic information to appear that supposedly evolves creatures. But if evolution hasn’t been observed then logically mutations generating such information haven’t been observed either. As BioLogos says;
The types of genetic mutations that eventually lead to macroevolutionary changes are rare, and this accounts for the slow pace of evolutionary development.5
Let the spin begin
Recently some Dawkins defenders have come up with a way to try and explain away his ‘ … hasn’t been observed while it’s happening…’ admission by using an analogy to explain what Dawkins ‘really meant’.
For example, on the popular Yahoo Answers website, a search on key words ‘evolution has been observed but not when it’s happening’ shows one evolutionary internet warrior using this argument;
I suppose you agree that ‘aging’ is also accepted on faith. I mean no one has been observed constantly getting older. We do know people appear older at different points in time, but no aging has been observed “while it happens.”
And, of course, no one can identify the ‘transitional’ point where a young man becomes an old man. So, there's no evidence that humans age, right? This same logic would also explain why human growth has never been observed “while it happens.”
But aging is observed in ‘real time’! Embryonic development (aging in the sense of an organism’s development from a single cell to its mature form) is observed while happening all of the time by those studying fetal development, and aging in the sense from moving beyond full maturity towards geriatric 'old age' can be observed in real time as well.
We ‘age’ in that sense because of DNA damage (mutations) during cell replication. There are approximately 2,500 total DNA damaging events per hour6 in humans. Fortunately for us, most of that damage is repaired by ingenious repair machines coded by over 200 genes,6 so only a few of these mutations remain—but mutations are increasing. So aging is observed over the course of minutes/hours (under the microscope), days and weeks (just watch a Great Dane puppy during its formative growth spurt), months (watch a baby develop into a toddler) and years (just keep looking in the mirror every morning).
If the analogy of observing aging is like observing evolution occurring, have humans observed people being born and aging to later stages in life? Yes! But has anyone observed one creature turn into a different kind of creature with novel forms, functions and features during their own lifetime? The answer is a huge emphatic ‘no!’ according to Dawkins himself.
We are condemned to live only for a few decades and that’s too slow, too small a time scale to see evolution going on.7
Dawkins’ damage control
Several years after Dawkins initial ‘hasn’t been observed while it’s happening … ’ gaff he was on a TV program called The Genius of Charles Darwin where he attempted to clarify this ‘non-observable’ problem with evolution. Did it help?
Nobody has actually seen evolution take place over a long period but they have seen the after effects, and the after effects are massively supported. It is like a case in a court of law where nobody can actually stand up and say I saw the murder happen and yet you have got millions and millions of pieces of evidence which no reasonable person can possibly dispute.8
No! If it’s like a murder case where no one saw it happen then again, no one has observed evolution.
Unable to provide observational evidence for evolution, the atheist-founded-and-operated (anti-creationist lobbying group) National Center for Science Education (NCSE) tried to circumvent the problem in a different way by stating:
The failure of many students to understand and accept the fact of evolution is often a consequence of the naïve views they hold of the nature of science … . According to this naïve view, the key to the unique success of science at producing true knowledge is “The Scientific Method”, which, on the standard account, involves formulating hypotheses, making predictions, and then going into the laboratory to perform the crucial experiment. … In contrast, the work of many evolutionary biologists involves the reconstruction of the past. The methods they use do not conform to the standard view of “The Scientific Method”. (Emphasis mine)
So according to the NCSE, if you can’t actually prove your theory using controlled experiments, what do you do? Simply declare that only ‘naïve’ people think that the scientific method has anything to do with ‘science’! Incredible. So which is it? Is evolution science or history?
Evolutionist Ernst Mayr agreed;
Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain.9
A creationist couldn’t have said it better. Indeed, creationists have long pointed out the distinction between origins and operational science, and the above two evolutionists evidently agree with this distinction! For evolutionists, storytelling is ‘science’. They don’t believe it because they see it, they see it because they believe it!
They have fabricated an imagined history which cannot be verified by eyewitness accounts and given it a veneer of credibility by glossing over it with scientific terminology. And unfortunately many in the Christian community have bought into this narrative as a replacement for the true history recorded in God’s word.
They would do well to hold to the Apostle Paul’s instructions to Timothy;
… guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’, for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20)
References and notes
- ‘Battle over evolution’ Bill Moyers interviews Richard Dawkins, Now, 3 December 2004, PBS network Return to text.
- biologos.org/questions/what-is-evolution, when accessed 2 September 2010. Return to text.
- Diamond, J., Who Are the Jews, Natural History 102(11):12–19, November 1993. Return to text.
- L. Harrison Matthews, FRS, Introduction to Darwin’s Origin of the Species, J. M. Dent & Sons, London, 1971, p. xi. Return to text.
- Ref 2. Return to text.
- Lees-Miller, S.P, DNA damage and DNA repair, Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, biomed.med.kyushu-u.ac.jp/admission/pdf/DNA_repair.pdf. Return to text.
- Richard Dawkins, Transcript: A conversation with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, 7pm | Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 | ASU Gammage Auditorium. Return to text.
- The Genius of Charles Darwin, Series 1, (UK) Channel 4 TV: Sat 11 Oct 2008. Return to text.
- Ernst Mayr, Darwin’s Influence on Modern Thought, Lecture 1999, ScientificAmerican.com, 2009. Return to text.
Evolution is defined as a stochastic process, and hence depends both on time and sample size.
I've read somewhere that today there are as much people as the total amount of people that has already lived.
This means that we should be seeing (statistically) as much mutations on people as have occurred during the whole human history.
Hence, the affirmation that we are not seeing evolution because we don't live long enough is wrong, at least when we consider humans.
Marcos, whether mutations are occurring (and the sample size) is not the issue. It is whether the mutations that are occurring add the voluminous amount of information gaining genetic coding for de novo forms, functions and features to evolve something from one kind of creature to another that is. Obviously they do not.
Thanks for the encouraging words Cal. It’s only through CMI’s ‘Creation Magazine’, ‘Journal of Creation’ & creation.com that I am able to grasp the issues & their importance. CMI Live with Richard & yourself have been very helpful in my understanding of the issue with plastic definitions. I like what evolutionist Kerkut says about it, see http://creation.com/evolution-definition-kerkut
CMI often uses hostile witnesses & that’s great for credibility. For the sake of other contributors to this comments section, for obvious reasons, I consider Dawkins ‘plastic’ definition mentioned earlier, to be deceptive. Kerkut & others knew this.
Another article which helped me understand evolution, was just recently published; http://creation.com/the-evolution-trains-a-comin
However the penny dropped after watching ‘Changes in Living Things (part 2)—Mutations (Creation Magazine LIVE! 1-04)’ especially from 18:40-28:40 (H-Pylori antibiotic resistance). This was one of those, ‘Ahaaa, now I get it’ moments. Evolution is very cleverly based on Atheism & moving definitions.
I think CMI have been overly generous to atheists, asking for just a single clear-cut example of a random mutation (i.e. genetic spelling mistake) which has added [new] genetic information to a genome. Even if they give 10,000 examples, it would not be enough. Anyone who’s read Dr John Sanford’s book ‘Genetic Entropy’ & looked at the weak arguments against his thesis will understand why.
It would seem that evolutionists believe in two kinds of magic. The kind that happens so fast it is unobservable and the kind that happens so slow that it is unobservable
Enjoyed this article immensely, especially describing Dawkin's gaffs as word-play.
I just hate his description of evolution as " the increase or decrease of an observable genetic trait". I have always visualized this as population genetics and further more the gene that we observe "increasing out of no where" did actually pre-exist. Just because we didn't find it ( or were looking for it) does not mean it wasn't already in the environment.
For example, take your favorite environmental pest gone crazy, DDT resistant mosquitoes, Roundup resistant weeds or fungicide resistant crop diseases. Just assume at the beginning of the new chemical control agent approval hearings that resistance to this new chemical already exists, albeit at very low levels (>1 %). What differences do you theorize would regulatory agencies or chemical companies do if this assumption was used? A pesticide company may propose to market the chemical for a maximum number of years, perhaps have a "selection pressure break" for 24 months where they take said chemical off the market, they could swap out one of the alternate chemicals in their mixture so that the selection pressure is subtlety altered.
I propose these ideas so that you can see that evolutionary thinking got us into many environmental messes just by assuming that "those weeds won't evolve any solution in our lifetimes!!!". Instead we as christians should be emboldened to fight this evolutionary wordplay. Thank you again for an inspiring article.
Hi Martin, thanks for your comment.
I think it is safe to assume researchers are aware of the existence of organisms already having resistance etc as it is in the literature discussing such things.
That is exactly why CMI points out that examples such as 'mosquitoes evolving resistance' are equivocal and actually no help to the general theory of evolution. See http://creation.com/pesticide-resistance-and-evolution
Dr Sarfati masterfully exposes Dawkins' use of such word play in his book 'The Greatest Hoax on Earth?' It is a great read and shows believers how to easily overcome the supposed 'best evidence for evolution'.
It really doesn't matter about the "systematic increase or decrease in the frequency with which we see a particular gene in a gene pool" as Dawkins claims. It's a matter of the appearance of NEW genes in the gene pool. It is obvious that amoebas do not have the genes for arms, legs, eyes, ears, etc., and those genes would have to be ADDED in order to evolve into astronauts. The problem of "frequency" is totally irrelevant if the FIRST ones can't be accounted for by natural processes, as evolution requires. Similarly, the problem of the diversity of life is irrelevant if the evolutionist cannot account for the ORIGIN of life from non-living chemicals. If evolution can't even START, it obviously can't proceed, any more than an Indy car can get very far in the race if it can't start its engine. What Dawkins, BioLogos, and other evolutionists are doing is resorting to "technobabble" to hide the fact that there is no real evidence for their theory.
Come one, come all to the "Greatest Show on Earth"--Magic without a Magician--where one day there was no universe, then with a big bang, there it was. One moment there was no life, then one moment later, there it was.
We Creationists do have an advantage, in that we've been able to personally observe creation in action--being born again--being made a new creation in Christ. I was a drug addict and alcoholic when one day I was looking in the mirror when God revealed to me the blackness of darkness that was my soul. I became terrified and cried out to Him and He instantly delivered me. So remember they're the ones who truly have "blind faith", who believe in what they haven't observed and in desperate need of our prayers.
There is something satisfying about this article. I read it through and then looked up the author's bio. (The blue writing of the author's name). That in itself is illuminating and the 9-minute video added weight to how the magicians presenting evolutionary stories, perform their word-tricks.
We humans are so smart in some things, but on clear thinking about origins, we are largely being hoodwinked by master magicians, unless we are educated about how to reveal some of the magicians' tricks. Keep up the clear education.
Let me get this straight, Richard Dawkins denies evolution has ‘been observed while it’s happening’ while biblical Young Earth Creationists (YEC's) promote the evidence for such observations, as evolution is defined by Dawkins himself;
“ … when there is a systematic increase or decrease in the frequency with which we see a particular gene in a gene pool, that is precisely what we mean by evolution.” The Greatest Show on Earth, p33, 2009
If Dawkins defines evolution as above & then denies evolution has been observed, what gives? I’d love to ask Dawkins if he still stands by his definition & the ‘…hasn’t been observed while it’s happening’ statement. If he is consistent, he would be denying such observations such as the peppered moths, antibiotic resistant bacteria etc.
Who would have predicted Dawkins denial of what YEC’s readily admit can be seen? Is this irony?
This article leads to another important topic; that of ‘defining our terms correctly’ when engaging in origins debates / discussions; lest we talk past each other.
I have debated origins with atheists & I pointed out the differing definitions given to ‘faith’ & ‘evolution’ to which the atheist got abusive. I suspect much of their justification for atheism relies on plastic definitions.
Errol, this is a powerful observation you've made. As I read it I thought "Why hasn't anyone at CMI pointed this out before?" As your comment has arrived from Australia I'll just say "Good on ya' mate!"
Regarding the illogic of Dawkin’s attempted gaff clarification. Has a cause-effect relationship ever been observed for murder? Of course it has. Therefore a valid cause-effect relationship can be applied to a particular murder case that has not been observed. Has a cause-effect relationship ever been observed for the evolutionary scenario (or any part thereof) of raw chemicals to biological cell to invertebrate to vertebrate? No. Therefore no valid cause-effect relationship can be applied here. Dawkin’s attempted ‘murder’ analogy is obviously invalid.