Evolution is evidently not scientific
Review of Taken Without Consent: How atheists have hijacked science by David Williams
Kindle Direct Publishing, Seattle, 2020
David Williams is a British lawyer—with particular expertise in family law—rather than a scientist. Therefore, he is not qualified to discuss and critique the subject of Darwinian Evolution. That is, if you side with some of his critics that, “as a ‘non-scientist’ [his] arguments carry little, if any, weight as [he has] no expertise in science in general or in biology in particular” (p. 8). But since when was a matter decided solely according to a person’s academic credentials or authority? The field notes and writings of amateur naturalist Charles Darwin, returning from the Beagle voyage (1831–1836), were greeted warmly by many scientists of his day, but he had no formal scientific qualifications. This sort of objection to Williams’ argument is taken apart in a scholarly, lawyer-style. Williams’ profession is to know the law and the English judicial system. In his role as author, he places the reader on the jury bench to give a verdict on the main question addressed in this book: “How did we get here?” The late Phillip E. Johnson took a similar approach with Darwin on Trial.1
Taken Without Consent is clearly laid out and very readable. Williams starts with how something is proved in a court of law (chapters 1–3). This is followed by the application of the law court (questioning the evidence and making legal proof) to the case of Darwinian evolution (chapters 4–14). The first section is far from being a dry and unpalatable read because of Williams’ prolific use of anecdotes, interesting real-life court cases, and plenty of humour. He continues on a similar note throughout the rest of the book, making this a page-turner.
In order to prove something, it is essential to establish the facts/evidence (chapters 4–6). Observation of systems in nature is part of ‘operational science’, which the author calls ‘evidential science’. As an example, Williams quotes at length from Richard Dawkins’ book The Blind Watchmaker. Here he is rather complimentary, because Dawkins carefully explains the complex echolocation system in bats, an observed fact. Inevitably, Michael Behe is quoted regarding malaria and sickle cell disease, two tragic facts of life. Behe’s irreducible complexity argument, relating to the flagellum in particular, is also extensively addressed.
A key section of the book lists five essential elements that the author argues have to be proven (without exception) for evolution to be true. “Semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit (He who asserts must prove)” (p. 52). These evolutionary assertions (detailed in chapters 7–9) are:
- Billions of years is a fact of Earth history and life thereon.
- Common descent accounts for all organisms—living and extinct—in the past, present, and future.
- Natural selection has been central to evolutionary thinking since its inception.
- Mutations provide the raw material for the genome.
- Unguided processes, no intelligence allowed.
The first item is largely ignored, other than that evidence shows even billions of years are still not enough time for evolution to occur. Not much time is spent on the second either. However, an important question arises when quoting from Origin of Species regarding evolution’s progress through many, gradual, small changes: “‘numerous, successive, slight modifications’ from what?” Darwin doesn’t discuss the genesis of the common ancestor (p. 147)! All Darwin talks about is organisms that already reproduce. No wonder, because only an existing genome—of an organism that can reproduce—can be altered. Only reproducing things can pass on changes to the next generation. The third point, although explained by Williams, is not disputed. Natural selection is commonly accepted, by proponents as well as opponents of evolution, simply because it is observable. Williams reminds us, “that natural selection can only act upon the animal as a whole” (p. 160). This is often forgotten, but is important: natural selection cannot cherry pick mutations. What’s more, one nucleotide change in the DNA code (even if it is a beneficial one) has a knock-on effect, as the DNA is read in multiple ways.
By far the most space is taken up to critique and ultimately dispel the fourth item, the evolutionary claim concerning mutations. This is partly done by using Richard Dawkins’ example of monkeys typing Shakespeare. That Dawkins doesn’t come out unscathed is an enormous understatement, particularly since this analogy is riddled with fallacies. Foremost among the objections to Dawkins’ example is that it is a guided process, since it has a target (the opposite of the fifth item): Methinks it is like a weasel.
Science or philosophy?
Before a matter is decided in a court of law, the judge will summarise the facts, followed by what has to be proven, together with the applicable law(s). This is included in the final part: the verdict (chapter 16). Introducing this by a very biased example of a judge in a real court-case, David Williams dons the judge’s wig and gives his tongue-in-cheek ‘partial’ summary about the case against evolution. Then he invites the reader to decide: Have all five Darwinian evolution elements been proved beyond reasonable doubt (i.e. to the point of being sure)? In effect, he’s asking whether Darwinian evolution is a guilty masquerade of science. If it fails any of these five tests, can we therefore logically conclude that we got here by natural processes only (i.e. without a supernatural Intelligence)? The answer is a clear no, as he has made mincemeat of the claims regarding mutations. Williams admits that the evolutionary stories put forward often seem plausible at first glance. Nonetheless, they do not stand up to scrutiny; the devil is in the detail.2
If some think it is unfair to give a so-called ‘partial’ (biased) summary, before posing such a profound question, they should ask themselves: Is it fair of atheists to have hijacked science, by defining it as methodological naturalism (chapter 15)? This, by definition, excludes a Supernatural explanation of origins. When the science is not on your side, the only way out is, as Williams states, to “convince people that your position is scientific but someone else’s is unscientific”. This way, “you get the powerful message across that your position is true and the other position is false” (p. 315).
Williams points out, “it is inevitable that judges will have formed their own view of the evidence and of the guilt or otherwise of the defendants” (p. 342). But don’t let someone else—the author or the evolutionist—be the judge. Rather, evidence must be scrutinised to see which perspective holds up in the face of the facts. “Evidence decides arguments, not experts” (p. 9). If only experts are qualified to make a judgement on evolution, why then is there continual evolutionary propaganda in mainstream media, educational systems from early formative years, and throughout many avenues of life? “Either the evidence is accessible and capable of being understood by non-scientists or it is not” (p. 11).
What’s the verdict? Do we follow the evidence where it leads, or rather trust in man-made stories adhered to by the majority? There is no such thing as consensus science, and countless efforts have exposed the nakedness of evolution’s hollow claims. No good judge listens to one side only. A cross examination must take place, as done in a proper court of law. This book is just such a cross examination, and a very useful one.
The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:17).
References and notes
- Johnson, P. E., Darwin on Trial, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1991. Return to text.
- Some may object to this expression. I would like to say that evolution is not of God (it robs Him of His glory; see Romans 1:20) and people who passionately ‘preach’ evolutionary stories are not proclaiming what is clearly stated in Scripture: God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Matthew 12:30 starts with Jesus saying, “Whoever is not with me is against me”. Return to text.