Having your cake, and eating it
Evolution is not science
Published: 18 June 2020 (GMT+10)
In school curricula ‘change over time’ often defines evolution. I witnessed an example of this after teaching a primary class about dinosaurs and the Flood. Their teacher—not a creationist—told the children so afterwards, emphasising that all living things have changed and continue to do so. Such a vague definition means that evolution explains nothing well, as can be seen from this statement from Finnish biochemist and former Darwinist Dr Matti Leisola:
“Evolution is slow and gradual, except when it is fast. It is dynamic and creates huge changes over time, except when it keeps everything the same for millions of years. It explains both extreme complexity and elegant simplicity. It tells us how birds learned to fly and yet also lost that ability. Evolution made cheetahs fast and turtles slow. Some creatures it made big and others small; some gloriously beautiful and others boringly grey. It forced fish to walk and walking animals to return to the sea. It diverges except when it converges; it produces exquisitely fine-tuned designs except when it produces junk. Evolution is random and without direction except when it moves toward a target. Life under evolution is a cruel battlefield except when it displays altruism. Evolution explains virtues and vice, love and hate, religion and atheism. And it does all this with a growing number of ancillary hypotheses. Modern evolutionary theory is the Rube Goldberg of theoretical constructs.1 And what is the result of all this speculative ingenuity? Like the defunct theory of phlogiston,2 it explains everything while explaining nothing well.”3
Let’s break this up into 15 small sections and consider Leisola’s challenges further.
1. Evolution is slow and gradual except when it is fast.
Evolution is dead in the water without the vast stretches of time. It is slow and gradual according to the evolutionist majority (gradualists), except that there is evidence for rapid speciation. Take away the millions of years and you remove evolution’s magic wand, ‘hiding’ the imaginary progression from molecules to man. It is interesting to note the punctuated equilibrium hypothesis: evolution happened so fast that no evidence of it was fossilised in the geologic column, but these periods of rapid evolution were interspersed with long periods of stasis. Derek Ager put it this way:
“The stratigraphic record has been compared to the traditional life of a soldier – long periods of boredom interrupted by moments of terror.”4
2. Evolution is dynamic and creates huge changes over time, except when it keeps everything the same for millions of years.
The General Theory of Evolution5 suggests that non-living chemicals spontaneously arranged themselves into single-celled organisms.6 Over time—and through many other life forms—this ongoing evolution culminated in mankind.7 Yet, this story is in stark contrast to the evidence of so-called ‘living fossils’.8 These are creatures alive today which, when compared to fossilised remains of the same, look remarkably similar, showing little to no signs of change.
3. Evolution explains both extreme complexity and elegant simplicity.
The early evolutionary idea that cells were simple (not much more than blobs of protoplasm), popularised by Darwin and contemporaries, was soon realised to be wrong. It was proven a particularly fallacious notion with the rise of electron microscopes and molecular biology techniques for elucidating the complexity within cells. Even unicellular organisms, when viewed at a molecular level, show staggering complexity, particularly their molecular machinery—see e.g. germ’s miniature motor has a clutch, and germ with seven motors in one! This, many continue to believe, was caused by mindless, unguided evolution.
However, powerful and highly effective biological systems are often discovered to be surprisingly simple. There is a certain beauty and elegance in the design, termed parsimony. And if we were talking about human achievements in engineering, chemistry, mathematics, or philosophy, this would justly deserve praise and adulation. But rather than attribute biological examples of this to a Designing Intelligence, the praise is given to evolution. Take DNA for example, the molecule of heredity: essentially, two strands of nucleotides (each with a sugar-phosphate backbone) are orientated in opposite directions, their respective organic bases paired by hydrogen-bonds (A with T, G with C), allowing the whole structure to ‘unzip’ so that a base-sequence can be read or replicated. It is a complex structure (especially for those unfamiliar with organic chemistry) but compared to the 3-D structure of most proteins, DNA is disarmingly simple. Alan Grafen and Mark Ridley (although evolutionists) rightly marvel at the “elegant simplicity of the double helix”.9
It is on a par with saying that ‘a hard disk drive looks simple’—but saying nothing about the mechanical sophistication, let alone the information contained therein. Nobody would claim the latter could result from an unguided, goal-less naturalistic process. But from a purely materialistic point of view, evolutionists have no choice but to reach such an unwarranted conclusion when they consider DNA, even though it defies naturalistic explanations. The point is, whether viewing something super-complex or relatively simple, evolutionists must keep the faith and attribute everything they’re seeing to blind, purposeless evolution. Evolution gets the glory! Nick Rennison in 100 Must-read Life-changing Books10 referred to Richard Dawkins’ The God delusion, in which he champions the elegant simplicity of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Of course, Darwinism has been superseded by neo-Darwinism, but the whole point of the article you are reading is to show that cell and molecular biology are anything but simple.
4. Evolution tells us how birds learned to fly and yet also lost that ability.
We all know that birds allegedly evolved from dinosaurs, don’t we? Supposedly, the only thing for the evolutionists to work out is whether it was from the ground up, or from the trees down. Flight is something extraordinary. Although the comparative anatomy of vertebrates has been used extensively to convince students to believe in evolution, there are major structural and functional differences between legs, flippers and wings; their similarities are not due to evolution—see Homology made simple. Some birds might well have lost the ability to fly, but this evidences a working system turning into a broken system. Nobody has shown a gradual progress from non-flight to flight. Yet, evolutionists propose that flight can be gained and lost not just once, but numerous times! The whole idea fails to fly.
5. Evolution made cheetahs fast and turtles slow.
Cheetahs, large cats, are the fastest land animals. But why do turtles remain slow? It would be extremely convenient to be able to run away from incoming predators and not be eaten. Of course turtles thrive being in the water, but surely survival of the fittest—i.e. natural selection—would have selected for speedier relatives, both in the water and the tortoises on land? And while we’re thinking of these shelled animals, why should some reptiles have evolved shells to escape predators while others in the same environment evolved speed? All these evolutionary tales sound little different from British author Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories! Or is it more a case of survival of the luckiest? And what about the evolution of the sloth—slowest mammal on Earth? In the end, whether animals become faster or slower over time is not the issue. A faster member of the cat family is still a cat!
6. Evolution: Some creatures it made big and others small.
The largest extant creature swims in the ocean. The blue whale can grow to the order of 30 m (ca. 100 feet) and may very well be the biggest creature to have ever lived. However, some creatures are so small you need a microscope to see them. What a variety in size! Yet, these critters all have their own genomes which use the same four letters (base pairs) in their DNA. Some might think that this means they all evolved, ourselves included, from goo-to-you-via-the-zoo, but it is better explained by a Creator who devised the genetic alphabet and information storage system (the most densely packed information system known to man). And as with faster/slower animals, becoming larger or smaller over time provides zero support for evolution—Chihuahuas and Irish wolfhounds are both classified as the same subspecies Canis lupus familiaris, within the species of grey wolf, Canis lupus.
7. Evolution: some gloriously beautiful and others boringly grey.
The subject of what counts as beautiful is notoriously difficult because of its subjectivity. Some think that creationists only have things to say about elegant and beautiful creatures (e.g. the hummingbird). This is not the case but, on the flip side, is there a good evolutionist argument for beauty? The belief that male peacocks used their stunning feathers for sexual attraction was a blunder.11 What about camouflage? Could the instances of camouflage we see be considered beautiful? Many would argue yes, regardless of their origins worldview. Indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Consider spiders that most people (not all) think are not particularly beautiful per se, but some spiders are great artists, in that they make enlarged images of themselves by using debris. The beauty in these creepy crawlies is not necessarily in their appearance (though opinions differ), but that they are ‘creative’.
The outward appearance of the elephant might be boringly grey in some people’s minds, but the critical issue as far as origins is concerned is that these phenomenal creatures are not the result of random processes. And what about the grey squirrel? Certainly, most would agree it is not as stunning as its red counterpart, yet they belong to the same created kind, as the two can hybridize. The existence of variety within organisms, far from confirming the ‘creative powers’ of evolution, should raise a person’s awareness of the Creator.
8. Evolution forced fish to walk and walking animals to return to the sea.
According to evolution, fish became amphibians that became land animals, and later a land mammal evolved into whale-like creatures. At each step in evolution, there has to be a survival advantage, or it would be selected against. So, for fish that thrive using gills to take oxygen from the water, in order to change to efficient air-breathing animals, the hypothetical intermediate stages would have to give an increase in survival and offspring-bearing. How can such a radical change, from one system to a completely different system, be advantageous at every stage of development? Because if it wasn’t, natural selection would not ‘endorse’ the deconstruction of one fully-functional system to build the other. Darwin struggled to explain such incipient systems, and in the end failed to do so adequately. Presumably these transitions have to be accepted by faith.
9. Evolution diverges, except when it converges
The evolutionary tree of life, with its many creatures at the branch tips, gives us the idea of a great divergence, ultimately from a single-celled organism that arose from mere chemicals. The fantastic diversity that we see is the result of the power of evolution, supposedly. However, when evolution is deemed to have ‘stumbled upon’ some useful feature, in the thinking of evolutionists, they suppose that there are multiple ways to converge at such an end-product (for instance the many look-alikes among marsupial and placental mammals). That is how powerful evolution is claimed to be, for sometimes it ‘explains’ very different end results (divergence), while at other times it ‘explains’ similar end results (convergence). Such a plastic idea can hardly be falsified so should not be accepted as scientific at all.
10. Evolution produces exquisitely fine-tuned designs, except when it produces junk.
Richard Dawkins wrote “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”.12 In fact, the word ‘complicated’ appears no less than seven times on page 1 of The Blind Watchmaker. It goes without saying that Dawkins is one of the most ardent evolutionists there is. Yet the evolutionary thinking of such men has, at the same time, greatly hindered the advance in genetics—through otherwise intelligent and talented scientists swallowing the assumption that the vast majority of information in genomes is junk, left over from the evolutionary past. On the contrary, operational scientists are discovering many functions of this so-called ‘junk-DNA’.
11. Evolution is random and without direction, except when it moves toward a target.
Central to neo-Darwinian evolution is the idea that a series of chance mutations can specify useful, complexity in living things—but this is a cheat because the numbers defy probability. And we should ask, can biologically useful information arise from random DNA? Evolution fundamentally is an atheistic worldview. The late William B. Provine said, “belief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism”.13 Without evolution having a Director (which would be anathema to any true-blue evolutionist), there is no direction. Why then do evolutionary popularisers like Richard Dawkins use examples with a clear target to argue for evolution? Sometimes you really do get the impression that, for some of these people, evolution is their substitute ‘creator’.
12. Life under evolution is a cruel battlefield, except when it displays altruism.
The oft-touted ‘survival of the fittest’—aka natural selection—is essentially a culling of the weak. This sometimes gruesome process, a reality of the cursed world in which we live, comprises the ‘death of the unfit’ without which Darwin could not have written his Origin of Species and evolution would be dead from the outset. Yet, the opposite is also used in favour of evolution; that is, when animals show altruism. Where the behaviour of one animal benefits another, with no advantage for itself, or even at its own expense, it is argued that man is not so different from animals. Some evolutionists call it ‘reciprocal altruism’; akin to ‘I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine (in due time)’.14 This is contrary to ‘survival of the fittest’ and fits better with an originally good creation that is now fallen.
13. Evolution explains virtues and vice.
Evolution is said to proceed by survival of the fittest, which means the weak leave less offspring than the better adapted, which live longer and pass their favourable characteristics to the next generation more than the weak do. Leaving aside the question as to why humans live so long after their most fertile/reproductive time has passed, it is legitimate to ask an evolutionist why we should bother to care for the old, sick, and the weak. The answers we hear are not really surprising, such as, “because these older people are good for the community. They may pass on knowledge, which may benefit the others.” But such admirable reasons for caring for the infirm and elderly are anti-Darwinian, for evolution is solely about alleged improvements to the genome. In fact, Richard Dawkins has confessed, “I’m a passionate Darwinian when it comes to science, when it comes to explaining the world, but I’m a passionate anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality and politics.”15 Can evolution really explain why there are, for instance, both rapists and charitable Christians?
14. Evolution explains love and hate.
Evolution is naturalistic, materialistic, but we’re told that somehow it can explain abstract things that we all intuitively know are not part of matter, such as love and hate. Feelings are fleeting, which probably contributes to the sheer amount of breakups, or rather breakdowns, of marriages around the world. “Haven’t ya heard … Luv is a verb” sang the band DC Talk in 1992. They were right in saying that love is much more than just a feeling; to truly love someone means you act lovingly, even when you don’t feel like it. The highest form of love in the Bible is agape (Greek ἀγάπη). This is unconditional, sacrificial love, not something that would naturally follow from a process involving natural selection. The only biblical condition regarding God’s love is to accept it, on His terms. The Christian has a good understanding of why there is love, because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).
Secular thinking leads to statements such as this one, in the university textbook 99% Ape: How evolution adds up:
“Evolutionary psychology does not deny the importance of feelings like love. Instead, it asks the ultimate ‘why’ question of where our capacity to feel them comes from.”16
Why did human aspects like “desires, beliefs, and so on” evolve, the writers ask? Their answer: “We evolved this dualistic way of thinking because it works pretty well in everyday life”.16 So, something that supposedly evolved in the distant past happens to work pretty well in present day life. That sounds an awful lot like foreknowledge. Unless, of course, you are persuaded that everyday life has not changed for millennia. Few people who feel amorous about another person will seriously hold that position.
Consider another example of such dreadful, circular reasoning in the same book:
“it is true people choose their spouse because they loved him or her … because over thousands of generations, ancestors who had this emotional package left more offspring than those who did not.”16
This is akin to: X happens now, because when X happened in the past evolution caused X to continue to happen. The real question is: how did X arise in the first place? No answer is given. It doesn’t add up at all, rather it is an evolutionary just-so-story, as are all such non-supernatural ‘explanations’ for human moral and ethical capacities.
15. Evolution explains religion and atheism.
A definition of religion is: “the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices” or another one begins as follows: “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe” (Dictionary.com). According to these definitions (but many more exist), both Christianity and atheism would be classed as religions. Atheists do not consider themselves to be religious, but atheism naturally follows from an evolutionary paradigm (or the other way around), as the late Dr William Provine acknowledged. Why would a naturalistic process give rise to what some would deem to be its antithesis, supernaturalism? Evil is the absence of love. Darkness is the absence of light. Naturalism is the absence of the supernatural. But nature cannot give rise to itself. From nothing comes nothing. The only plausible explanation for the existence of the created order is that an immaterial entity has existed eternally. These are good starting points to describe the God of the Bible, the Creator of the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1).
Trying to ‘have your cake and eat it’
Occam’s razor—a ‘law’ of parsimony or succinctness—is sometimes paraphrased as, “the simplest solution is most likely the right one”. With all of these different elaborations of Matti Leisola’s points about the overreaching claims for evolution, would it not be a lot simpler to believe that there is a Creator who made things supernaturally?
Leisola’s statement deftly exposes the bankruptcy of the General Theory of Evolution—for more, see 15 Questions for Evolutionists. When a statement or idea can fit opposing ideas (A and not-A) it is no good as a scientific hypothesis. Some evolutionists may find it reassuring that their worldview cannot be falsified but they’re wrong to claim it is scientific. On the other hand, those who are genuine critical thinkers and truth-seekers will be deeply uncomfortable with such unscientific views. Beware though! Dissenters from evolution may find that they’re treated uncannily like dissenters of some religions and it can indeed be costly; see If you can’t beat them, ban them.17
References and notes
- Reuben Goldberg was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He is best known for his popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. Return to text.
- Phlogiston was a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies, and to be released in combustion. Return to text.
- Leisola, M. & Witt J., Heretic: one scientist’s journey from Darwin to design, Discovery Institute Press, Seattle, p. 199, 2018. Return to text.
- Ager, D.V., The nature of the stratigraphic record, Macmillan, 1973. Return to text.
- A more suitable word would be hypothesis or idea. Return to text.
- Some evolutionists claim that the origin of life is excluded from evolutionary theory but see the Introduction to Origin of life. Return to text.
- The host of the popular TV series Cosmos (1980), atheist Carl Sagan, candidly said what this implies, “You are worth about 3 dollars worth in chemicals.” Return to text.
- Werner, C., Living fossils: evolution: the grand experiment vol. 2, New Leaf Press, Green Forest, AR, 2008. Return to text.
- Grafen, A. & Ridley, M., Richard Dawkins: how a scientist changed the way we think, Oxford University Press, p. 61, 2007. Return to text.
- Rennison, N., 100 Must-read life-changing books, A&C Black, London, p. 23, 2008. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Evolution’s blunders, frauds and forgeries, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, pp. 129–140, 2017. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, USA, p. 1, 1986. Return to text.
- Provine, W.B., “No free will” in: Catching up with the Vision, Rossiter, M.W. (Ed.), Chicago University Press, p. S123, 1999. Return to text.
- Science and Technology Illustrated, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 24, p. 2958, 1984. Return to text.
- The Science Show, ABC Radio, Australia, 22 January 2000. Return to text.
- Silvertown, J., 99% Ape: How evolution adds up, Natural History Museum, London, pp. 173–176, 2008. Return to text.
- Berman, J., Slaughter of the Dissidents: The shocking truth about killing the careers of Darwin doubters, Leafcutter Press, 2008. Return to text.