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Another textbook teaching outdated ‘evidence’ for evolution

From GC of the UK. He has shown how a textbook makes a creditable admission about some difficulties with evolution, but elsewhere presents evolution as a ‘fact’, and helps keep the ‘faith’ by presenting discredited ‘evidence’ for evolution. His letter is presented with a response by Dr Jonathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International Queensland, Australia [now Atlanta, Georgia, USA], to show where answers to these common claims can be found on our Web site.

[GC]: I am a third year environmental science student at Chester College, Chester, England. I was interested to see what the first-year text says on the subject. The following are quotes (some of them abridged) from Biology by Campbell, Reece, and Mitchell, 5th edition, Addison Wesley, 1999.

[Textbook]: “Charles Darwin called the origins of the angiosperms (flowering plants) an ‘abominable mystery’. The mystery endures. The problem is the relatively sudden appearance of angiosperms in the fossil record, with no known transitional ancestors.”

[JS]: Of course there is no problem under the biblical framework, where plants were created to reproduce ‘after their kind’ (Genesis 1:11–13).

[Textbook]: “Whales evolved from terrestrial ancestors, an evolutionary transition that left many signs, including fossils.”

[GC]: (part of the caption of a reconstruction of Basilosaurus. The caption admits later on that Basilosaurus was:)

[Textbook]: “already aquatic … no longer used [its] legs to support [its] weight and walk.”

[JS]:The book Refuting Evolution (above right) shows how tendentious the fossil evidence is, and points out that Basilosaurus has features that rule it out as an ancestor of modern whales, and that its ‘legs’ probably functioned as reproductive claspers. See also the Whales section of Q&A: Fossils.

[GC]: Finally, Campbell gives a quarter of a page to claims against evolution. The following is a telling excerpt:

[Textbook]: “What, then, is theoretical about evolution? … Darwin’s ‘theory of evolution’ is natural selection — the mechanism Darwin proposed to explain the historical facts of evolution (emphasis added)… “so the ‘just a theory’ argument concerns Darwin’s second claim … natural selection.”

[JS]: We strongly advise creationists against saying ‘evolution is just a theory’. What they mean is ‘evolution is unproven’, but it gives the opposition the chance to side-track (if semantic gymnastics had been a sport at the Olympiad just held in this country, evolutionists would have won a stack of gold medals). The problem about calling evolution ‘a theory’ is that scientists often use the word differently from laymen. A ‘theory’ in science means a well-substantiated explanation of data. The evolution conjecture should not even be called a ‘theory’, because it gives it respectability by association with the Theory of Relativity, Newton’s Theory of Gravity, the Debye-Hückel theory of electrolytes, etc. All these theories have strong experimental support, although Newton’s theory has been augmented by Einstein’s. In contrast, evolution of life from non-living matter and from one kind of organism to a different kind has not the slightest experimental/observational support.

Also, as shown in Refuting Evolution as well as in our Q&A: sections on Mutations, Natural Selection, and speciation, these concepts are not necessarily evolutionary, but are important aspects of the biblical Creation/Fall model. In fact, natural selection was discussed by creationists before Darwin, and it removes information, while goo-to-you-via-the-zoo evolution requires new genes with new information.

[GC]: Which, handily, is the part that evolutionists can demonstrate. Again we see the naturalistic, humanistic basis of science. No matter that Campbell uses the old chestnut of embryo ‘gill slits’ (thank you for explaining what they really are), …

[JS]: You’re welcome [explained in Q&A: Embryonic Recapitulation]

[GC]: … or that his ‘proofs’ of man-to-molecule evolution are questionable. It is a fact to him, and so it is such to his readers.”

[JS]: Yes, the most important issue is convincing students that evolution is true, regardless of the quality (or lack thereof) of the evidence. That way, they can be ‘intellectually fulfilled atheists’, as Richard Dawkins claims to be because of evolution. This is exemplified by the Lerner report, which berates States of the USA that don’t teach evolution as fact, but apparently has no problem with using textbooks with false information designed to indoctrinate students into believing in evolution. It’s quite a sight to behold, people with such singleness of purpose in trying to prove that there is no ultimate purpose!

Published: 1 February 2006