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Creation  Volume 20Issue 1 Cover

Creation 20(1):50–51
December 1997

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Not by chance!

Shattering the modern theory of evolution

A review of Not by chance! by Lee Spetner, Ph.D.
The Judaica Press, Brooklyn, N.Y. 1997
272 pages

reviewed by Carl Wieland

‘See, speak, or hear no evidence against evolution’ seems to be the golden rule in the academic world—so it will be interesting to see the response to this devastating assault, by a highly qualified author, on the very core of evolutionary theory.


Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins’ best-selling book The Blind Watchmaker may be the most influential treatise of all time in winning converts to raw Darwinian meaninglessness. Many a university student has given up on the idea of creation, defeated, after being given one of Dawkins’ books.

Before Darwin, says Dawkins, it was tough being an atheist, because there was no satisfying explanation for the origin of all the information (design) which characterises living things. In our common experience, information only comes from intelligence.

Dawkins claims that the Neo-Darwinian Theory (NDT) is, like gravity, something which only the intellectually retarded or insane would deny. It explains, without God, why there is all the design information in nature. Things only appear to be beautifully designed to fit into their environments as a by-product of the following process:

As the information that codes for living things (on the DNA molecule) is copied during reproduction, there are tiny accidental changes (mutations), which are inherited.

If one of these enables its possessor to survive better, it will have a better chance of passing on its information, including this change. Such helpful mutations will, it is claimed, gradually accumulate over millions of years, allowing a microbe to become a microbiologist.

Jewish scientist Dr Lee Spetner’s book aims a death-blow at the heart of this whole Neo-Darwinian story. The crucial battleground has always been the origin of information, and in this field, Spetner is uniquely qualified to comment. With a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, Spetner taught information and communication theory for years at Johns Hopkins University. In 1962 he accepted a fellowship in biophysics at that institution, where he worked on solving problems in signal/noise relationships in DNA electron micrographs. He subsequently became fascinated with evolutionary theory, and published papers concerning theoretical and mathematical biology in prestigious journals such as the Journal of Theoretical Biology, Nature, and the Proceedings of the 2nd International Congress of Biophysics.

The problem with the NDT is not natural selection—this is a straightforward, easily observable phenomenon, but it cannot of itself create information.

The real issue concerns mutations, the alleged source of all the new information needed for evolution. With a detailed probabilistic analysis, based upon the standard evolutionary mathematics of such authorities as Gaylord Simpson and Fisher, Spetner shows that the chance of getting the required mutations for such ‘cumulative selection’ is just way too small.

Further, grand-scale evolution (protozoa to pelicans, pomegranates, and politicians) would require a massive increase in information over time. If this happened by an accumulation of mutations, such mutations must, on average, add information. Spetner, whose level of technical knowledge of his subject is well in advance of the average biologist, shows that on theoretical grounds, this is completely precluded.

He then examines the classic textbook situations that have been used to tell students that, since adaptation by mutation and natural selection is happening in front of our eyes, this process only needs time in order to perform all the miracles credited to evolution. Spetner shows in exquisite (but clear) detail that where these changes are by genuine point mutations (rather than by the 'switching on' of existing genes) they are all, without exception, losses of information.

In a memorable turn of phrase, he says that anyone who thinks that an accumulation of mutations (information-losing processes) can lead to macroevolution (a massive net gain of information) ‘is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume.’

After such a ‘king hit’, Dawkins’ computer simulations of ‘insects’ and literary weasels seem somewhat puerile, and are easily dealt with by the author, who, from reliable information received, is rather keen to debate Dawkins on this whole issue. Why not, when one appears to be equipped with such decisive scientific weapons?

Having demolished the NDT, Spetner talks of a ‘non-random’ theory of evolution, though he provides no detail apart from the hint that living things have the capacity built into them to allow them to ‘evolve’ to some degree. To the extent that such programming was present, of course, it would mean that intelligence was required.

This allows for a few alternatives, including ‘progressive creation’ and, of course, straightforward creation of Genesis ‘kinds’, with mechanisms built in to allow subsequent ‘micro-evolution’ (built-in variation potential) within each kind. Spetner mentions the Torah (of which Genesis is a part) and a rabbinical tradition of some 730 separate kinds of animals and birds originally created. Apart from this, he gives no hint of where he stands on the question of six days, and so on.

Spetner also makes no attempt to address the fossil record, the time question, or any of the other related issues. Since he has lifted the hood of the Neo-Darwinian automobile, and found the engine is missing, he probably thinks it superfluous to see if the tyres are in good order. He may also be deliberately (and wisely) restricting himself to fields in which he is an undoubted expert. That expertise ensures that this book will do a power of good in the creation/evolution struggle.

To say that Spetner’s book is an absolute ‘must’ for anyone defending Scripture in this increasingly educated age is an understatement. To put it succinctly, it seems that unless evolutionists can pull a brand new rabbit out of the hat, Spetner has just blown the whole evolutionary mechanism out of the water once and for all. The evolutionary/humanist establishment cannot allow this to happen, of course, so it will be interesting to see their reaction and attempts at damage control. I trust that readers of this review will make it as hard as possible for them to ignore this groundbreaking work, by spreading it as far and fast as they can.


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