The Creation alternative
A brief introduction for High Schools
The following is the complete text of a tape which is being submitted to the Education Dept for duplicating and distributing to interested teachers and students. The availability of the tape is to be announced in the Biology Teachers Newsletter. It is hoped that it will be the first in a series.
Prepared by Dr C. and Mrs V. Wieland for and on behalf of the Creation Science Association, GPO Box 2035, Adelaide 5001.
The general concept that the universe, the Earth and all living things came into being by a gradual process of self-transformation from very simple matter over many millions of years is referred to hereafter as ‘evolution’. Most people believe that it is the only reasonable scientific explanation of origins. Many even talk about it as a fact of science, some even as a law. The history of science, however, should teach us that ideas held firmly by the majority are often wrong, and frequently are a barrier to scientific progress. Today, thousands of scientists and educated professionals are convinced that evolution is not the correct explanation for how things came to be. They insist that the facts of science, looked at objectively and fairly, give more support to the idea of special creation. For example, the international Creation Research Society consists of more than 600 holders of at least a Master’s or Doctor’s degree in science, who all hold this view.
We have already broadly defined what we mean by evolution. Creation is here broadly defined as the concept that the universe was brought into being by special, completed processes, as a fully functioning entity. The basic plant and animal kinds were separately created and any variation or speciation since then is only within the limits of these created kinds. We should also point out that the evolutionist regards the fossil bearing rocks of the Earth’s crust as a slow unfolding of successive ages, whereas the creationist claims that they are better interpreted as a record of catastrophic, worldwide flood action for the most part.
The purpose of this tape is threefold:
- To point out that creation is a better scientific explanation of origins; at any rate a good enough explanation to be presented side-by-side with evolution whenever origins are discussed in the classroom.
- To present some of the scientific reasons for claiming this, hoping that it will stimulate the listener to read further.
- To dispel some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding this question. Unfortunately, it is easy to react emotionally to a new idea instead of thinking it through. Teachers who are listening will be interested to hear that a Ph.D. in science education has been recently awarded to Dr Richard Bliss in the United States. Dr Bliss demonstrated in a carefully designed study that students taught both creation and evolution side-by-side performed significantly better than their colleagues who were taught evolution only, in terms of well-defined educational parameters. Let’s mention three commonly held myths:
MYTH NO. 1: ‘All scientists believe in evolution.’
We have already mentioned the hundreds of highly qualified scientists who make up the Creation Research Society. There are many scientists also who hold serious doubts about current evolutionary theories but do not seem willing to consider creation as an alternative for personal philosophical reasons.
MYTH NO. 2: ‘Evolution is a fact of science.’
Many of the world's leaders in evolutionary thought, while they of course believe in evolution, do recognize that evolution is not a fact, nor is it properly called a scientific theory even. You see, they know that such an idea cannot be tested by the experimental method. That isn't a criticism of evolution—the same is true of creation. The scientific method can't finally get at this question. Certainly it is possible to use the scientific approach to help us decide which one is the more reasonable, but we can't prove or disprove either one scientifically. The evolutionists Drs Ehrlich and Birch, writing in Nature magazine (vol. 214, April 22nd 1967 p. 352), say that the theory of evolution is outside of empirical science. They go on to say:
‘No one can think of ways to test it. Ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have obtained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training.’
So, although it’s impossible to prove or disprove either one of these two, we can compare them scientifically. We refer to them as models. A model is a framework of ideas that we use to help us understand how scientific facts might fit into an overall pattern. We can compare these two models by seeing which one fits the facts most directly.
MYTH NO. 3: ‘Evolution is a scientific idea, but creation is a purely religious idea and therefore should not be taught in science classes.’
We certainly agree that a science classroom should not be the place for teaching of philosophical or religious viewpoints. Evolution teaches that things have arisen by means of natural processes, that is, the sort of processes going on today, and since science deals with the sort of events that we can observe and test, this is why it is claimed to be the only scientific idea. But think on this—if we studied carefully and scientifically the processes at work in a motor car, and if these were the only processes we had available to study, does this mean that the only scientific conclusion is that those very same processes caused that motor car to come into existence? Of course not. In fact, a scientific study of the processes in a motor car would lead us to the point of saying that these processes could not have built the car. Creationist scientists are saying this—that a scientific study of today's world, its processes and laws leads us to the conclusion that it could not have generated itself by means of these same processes and laws. If you wish to believe that present-day processes have built all things, then you are taking a philosophical or religious step, since you can’t prove that. The great evolutionist L. Harrison Matthews, writing in the foreword to the 1971 edition of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, recognizes this. He says: ‘belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in creation... both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof.’
When the evolutionist talks of life arising by chance from an organic chemical soup a billion years ago, or of a swirling cloud of dust and gas condensing into stars and planets, he is dealing with matter outside the true domain of science - how can one possibly test such an idea? So you see that creation and evolution are equally religious in the sense that they involve faith in unique past events when no human observer was present. The question then becomes—which is the more reasonable faith? Here of course we can and must use the tools of science and logic to establish a level of credibility in one or the other, but we maintain that the only fair way to overcome the philosophical bias of both creationists and evolutionists is to present both views, and let students make up their own minds. At the present time this is very difficult, since scientific teaching and research is heavily dominated by evolutionary ideas at present.
In this short tape we can only present a fraction of the case for creation, but we can direct you to the available literature. Some of the evidence presented may seem like mere criticism of evolution, but remember that if we can show in a particular instance that a naturalistic (that is, evolutionary) explanation is implausible, then this may be direct, positive evidence for creation, since it is the only alternative.
Some of you might ask—why only evolution or creation? Aren’t there any other explanations? The answer is, essentially no. If we boil them down to their basics, there are only two explanations possible—either special, completed processes or ongoing processes, either creation or self-transformation. Certainly there are many varieties of each—how do we choose which ones to discuss? Well, in science classrooms, no one is taught the evolutionary ideas of say, the ancient Greek philosophers. The model of evolution which is taught is that which is held by the majority of scientists who believe in evolution, and that seems fair to us.
It seems just as reasonable, then, to teach the model of creation held by the majority of those scientists who are creationists.
Let’s talk now about the sort of changes we see happening today in populations of living things. According to the evolution model, all living things are related because they all arose from the first living thing. In the creation model, the basic kinds of living things were separately created, and the variation which we see today is within the limits of these created kinds. So we see many varieties of dogs, but they all interbreed and are all easily recognizable as dogs, and not on their way to being anything other than a dog. The wolf, Canis lupus, and the coyote do not normally interbreed with the common dog, Canis familiaris, and they are classed as separate species. However, they can and do interbreed in captivity, and most creationists would therefore place them in the same created kind, which in this case would correspond to the genus Canis. It should be remembered that the differences between, say, a Great Dane and a Chihuahua did not arise through mutation and selection in any sort of an evolutionary process. There is no reason to assume that they have come about in any way apart from the normal processes of gene segregation and recombination aided by artificial selection, following the strict laws of Mendel. (Your teacher has probably told you about these already.) So the original mongrel dog kind had the genetic information for all the features you see in the various breeds already in it, but they were only expressed through sorting them out into isolated lines.
You see, genetic variation is not limitless, as Darwin believed, but quickly reaches a limit in any particular direction. The different kinds of creatures may therefore be regarded as spheres of variation with distinct boundaries between them. If you start with a Chihuahua population only, you cannot breed a Great Dane from it, no matter how hard you select. You would have to go back to the original mongrel dog population and start again.
In France in the last century, an attempt was made to increase the sugar content in the beet crop by selection. The content rapidly increased for the first few generations of beets, but then quickly reached a limit, where it has stayed ever since. It can't be pushed further, because all the genes for sugar content have been channeled and sorted into that plant already. This observation agrees with Mendel's laws and with modern genetic knowledge. It also is exactly what we expect in the creation model—some variation, but within limits.
Because this does not directly fit the evolution model in its basic form, the evolutionist must have some way of getting new genetic material produced. The mechanism which he proposes is mutation, which is an accidental change in the genetic code. We are told that most mutations are harmful, which is what we would expect from a random process. Imagine interfering at random with the workings of a computer and expecting it to work better! However, we are told, every now and then through geologic time, along comes a rare ‘good’ one, which, guided by natural selection, becomes established. How many bad ones for each good one? Well, it all depends on who is making the guess. Some say one in a thousand, some one in a million. Give us enough time, they say, and there'll be enough ‘good’ ones to add up to real evolutionary change. Well, let’s look at this question scientifically. Let’s take the most favorable possible guess at the mutation rate on average in the past. Then let’s take the most favorable guess anyone has made about how many bad to good mutations take place. How long would it take to transform the first single-celled organism into a man? This is exactly what was done at a scientific symposium in 1967, organized by the Wistar Institute, in which evolutionist mathematicians were brought face to face with evolutionary biologists.
The biologists supplied the mathematicians with the most favorable possible data, and the staggering result was that it would take billions of times longer than the supposed 4.5 billion years of Earth history!
One of these scientists, Dr Murray Eden, Professor at MIT, concluded that, ‘...an adequate scientific theory of evolution must await the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws—physical, physico-chemical and biological.’
Let us then sum up about present-day changes in living things. These seem to fit both models, and there is certainly no argument about the ‘horizontal’ shifts in population such as the peppered moths. Real ‘vertical’ evolutionary change to an overall higher level of complexity has never been observed. In addition, the application of mathematics to the problem does not allow us to use mutation to account for the assumed evolutionary change and therefore here creation is the better model. Natural selection, of course, operates to weed out the unfit in both models, as it is nothing more than a commonsense phenomenon. Dr D.B. Kitts, evolutionist from the University of Oklahoma, writing in the journal Evolution in 1974, says that evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, has never been detected in the lifetime of any observer.
What about the similarities that we see between different kinds of living things? This is called the argument from homology. For example, the bones in the forelimb of humans, frogs, lizards, monkeys and horses seem to have the same general pattern, and this is taken to show that they have evolved from a common ancestor. The same sort of arguments are used at a biochemical level. For example, when the chemical cytochrome C is compared by means of its amino acid sequences in different creatures, it is claimed that the pattern shows a variation which corresponds well to the evolutionary ‘tree of life’. Certain similarities in embryonic development have also been used to give support to the idea of evolution.
We agree that this is the sort of evidence you would expect to find if the evolution model is correct. But you see, it also quite comfortably fits the creation model. By its very nature, creation involves the intelligent application of design information, which it would seem logical to conserve. For example, if the pattern of the forelimb bones in a frog works well, following good bioengineering principles, then it would seem reasonable for the same principles to be used in the other creatures, modified to fit their particular needs. However, creation also has room for variety and creativity, therefore the creation model, besides predicting an array of similarities, also predicts an array of differences, right across the board. The similarities which we see fit both models, but the differences are much harder for the evolutionist to explain.
The same argument applies to biochemical differences and similarities. Since biochemical makeup is related to external structure and function, the creationist would in general expect an ape to be more closely related to a man biochemically than say to a lizard. Let me mention just a few examples of biochemical differences which are very incompatible with evolutionary theory. The insulin of a sperm whale and a fin whale is identical to that of a dog and a pig, but different from that of a sei whale. The structure of cytochrome C in the rattlesnake is far closer to man than it is to the turtle, which is another reptile. Looking at the cytochromes C in two closely related organisms, Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and Desulfovibrio vulgaris, we find that they have marked differences in their amino acid sequences. Unfortunately, these sort of facts are often not mentioned when students are shown the diagrams of how nicely cytochrome C fits evolutionary expectations.
But the creationist case on this homology question does not end there. In a sensational article in the 1971 Oxford Biology Reader, one of the world's bestknown evolutionists, Sir Gavin de Beer, absolutely demolishes the evolutionary arguments on this subject. The article is called ‘Homology, an Unsolved Problem.’ For example, he talks about the forelimbs in the newt, the lizard and man, which he of course believes are strictly homologous, that is, inherited with modification from fishes. But he points out what he calls the ‘astonishing fact’ that in all these 3 the forelimb arises from different trunk segments. In the newt from 2,3,4 & 5; in the lizard from 6,7,8 & 9 and in man from 13 to 18 inclusive. He also says later in the article that homologous structures may arise from totally different positions in the embryo, even from totally different germ layers. Further, homologous structures can develop in the embryo through entirely different mechanisms, that is, different organizer-induction processes. Last of all, he goes to genetics, and in his words, ‘This is where the worst shock of all is encountered’. Note that it is only a shock to those who maintain that evolution must have occurred. He says that identical genes do not necessarily control homologous structures, and homologous structures need not be controlled by identical genes. In the closing paragraphs he says, ‘What mechanism can it be that results in the production of homologous organs, the same “patterns” in spite of their not being controlled by the same genes? I asked this question in 1938, and it has not been answered.’ So here again the evolutionist must bring in secondary assumptions or hypotheses, because the actual evidence does not directly fit the expectations of his model. At this point also, we see creation as the better model, because there is no need of any secondary assumption.
Let’s look now at the overall concepts of creation and evolution and see how they fit in with known scientific laws. In the overall evolutionary picture, we start with an initial chaos, or at least a state containing very little order or information, and we end up with the complex universe we have today, choc-a-bloc with highly ordered information, including that incredibly complex and ordered arrangement, the human brain. All this is supposed to have happened by natural processes, that is, the laws of physics and chemistry plus time plus chance plus nothing. You may only talk about natural selection being a guiding principle once you already have something that reproduces itself. Even after you have this, the raw material in the form of new genetic information, which natural selection can work on, must also arise by chance processes. In other words, we have a process operating which takes us from chaos to cosmos.
The creationist model says just the opposite; you have an initial finished creation which is highly ordered, and although one would expect some conservation mechanisms to be at work, real overall change would be in a downhill direction. In other words, cosmos to chaos.
The two most universal and thoroughly tested laws of science are the 1st and 2nd laws of Thermodynamics, which apply to all real processes. The first tells us that no matter or energy is now being created or destroyed, and that the total energy of the cosmos remains constant. (Matter, of course, can be considered as another form of energy.) The second law tells us that all natural processes left to themselves run downhill, in the direction of increasing disorder. Another way of putting it is that ordered systems containing higher levels of information never arise spontaneously unless the information is built into them. For information and order to arise in any system, you must have four things. The evolutionist usually says that the Earth is an open system, open to the sun’s energy. These two things, an open system and an external energy source are necessary, but they are not enough. You need two more things—an energy conversion mechanism and a code to direct the process. Mutation and natural selection are neither, of course. We see that it takes ordered systems to produce ordered systems—they could not, therefore, arise by themselves in the first place. Evolution really is impossible long before you get to the first cell.
Listen to Dr John Rankin, an Australian scientist with a Ph.D. in mathematical physics in the field of cosmology, which is a study of theories on how the universe began, ‘All evolutionary theories on the origin of stars, galaxies and the solar system which I have studied, at one or several points defy the laws of physics. The very idea that any ordered system can give rise to itself directly contradicts the most basic laws of science’.
Evolutionists teach that life has arisen from non-living chemicals by chance—a spark of energy in the right place at the right time. You may have heard of Stanley Miller’s famous experiment, where an electrical discharge through a mixture of simple chemicals produced some amino acids, the building blocks of life. If you take a closer look at the apparatus, you will see that it contained a special trap, to trap and isolate these chemicals as soon as they are formed. He had to do this, of course, because the very same energy which had formed them would much more rapidly destroy them because of this principle of thermodynamics. But on the assumed primitive Earth there were no organic chemists with special traps! Also, you will notice that all these sorts of experiments assume that there was no oxygen on the primordial Earth, because of course oxygen would destroy these chemicals by oxidation. But if you have no oxygen, you have no ozone layer to protect these chemicals from the destructive effects of ultraviolet radiation, and once again the scheme reaches a dead-end. The amino acids are of course extremely trivial results, since they contain very little information compared to the sequences necessary for even the simplest protein.
Let's give the evolutionist these building blocks, then, and see if it is reasonable to expect life to form from them by chance. Remember, no natural selection can help until you have a self-replicating system. James F. Coppedge, a molecular biologist, has applied mathematics to the problem of one simple gene arranging itself by chance. In his figures, he uses assumptions that are incredibly favorable to the evolutionary point of view. For example, he uses as many sets as there are atoms in the universe, and in each set he allows eight trillion tries per second. How long do you think it would then take, given that many tries and all the raw ingredients, to get the ingredients in the right order by chance? A million years? A billion? The answer is 10147 years. How big a number is that? Let's use Coppedge's example. Assume we have an amoeba, given the task of carrying matter, one atom at a time, from one edge of the known universe to the other, about thirty billion light years. Let's say this amoeba moves at the slowest speed imaginable—one Angstrom unit (the diameter of a hydrogen atom) every fifteen billion years. How much matter could that amoeba have carried in the time taken for one simple gene to form? The answer is that it would have transported so many entire universes across the whole distance that it would take every person living on Earth and counting non-stop 5,000 years just to count them.
These numbers are so large that one can comfortably say that it is an impossibility. But even if it did happen, this gene would still be totally useless unless it was perfectly coordinated in time and space with other equally ordered systems. In this whole matter of the spontaneous origin of life, the ideas of evolution conflict violently with science.
Now at this point you may be saying, this is all very well, but don't fossils prove that evolution has occurred in the past? Well, we agree that the real answers to this whole question should be found in the fossil record, since these are the remains and impressions of creatures that once lived upon the Earth. But it might surprise you to hear that it is the fossil record which provides the most powerful evidence for creation. The evolution model predicts and requires a vast number of transitional forms linking together the various groups of animals and plants that we find today. This is the crucial evidence demanded by his model. Darwin recognized this and was confident that further collecting would turn up these transitional forms or in-between kinds. The fossil record in his day showed only a number of spheres of variation, with no links connecting them, just as we find in the living world and just as we would predict on the basis of creation. Because evolution is said to have taken place by a series of very small changes accumulating through time, we should find these transitional forms in the hundreds of thousands. If they were found, they would surely be paraded as indisputable evidence that evolution had actually taken place. The problem for the evolutionist today is that even though there is an unmanageably vast number of fossils, the transitional forms are still missing. In other words, according to Dr George Gaylord Simpson, one of the all-time champions of evolution, there is a systematic absence of transitional forms between all the higher categories of life, that is, the created kinds of the creationist. This is evidence of the most powerful sort for creation, because it is exactly what the creation model expects and predicts, but it must somehow be explained away by the evolutionist.
What about the fossil record of plants? Professor E.J. Corner, Cambridge University botanist and evolutionist, in the book Contemporary Botanical Thought (1961) says that, ‘...I still think, to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in favor of special creation’. Professor David B. Kitts, Professor of Palaeontology at the University of Oklahoma, writing in the journal Evolution (vol. 28, p. 467, 1974) sums up the situation regarding the fossils in this way, ‘Despite the bright promise that palaeontology provides a means of “seeing” evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of “gaps” in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and palaeontology does not provide them...’.
This is the testimony of an expert in the field. If anyone knows what the fossil record shows, Prof. Kitts does. Incidentally, if you think he hasn't heard of Archaeopteryx, this fossil bird, first found in 1863, has not been regarded as a transitional form for many years by most informed evolutionists, mainly because it lacks any true transitional structures. Those who have been clinging to Archaeopteryx as their last hope of a transitional form must let go now, because an unquestionable bird has been found which dates, by the usual evolutionary assumptions, at some 60 million years older than Archaeopteryx. This is reported in Science News, Vol. 112, September 1977 p. 198. Let me quote from another authority, Dr Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard. In the May 1977 issue of 'Natural History', p. 14 he says: ‘We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favoured account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.’ If the English language means anything, Professor Gould is saying that we never see this assumed evolutionary process by studying the fossil record.
We have not got time to discuss the whole concept of the ‘geologic column’. The creationist claims that there is a good deal of evidence to show that the so-called ‘geologic column’ exists only in textbooks and that a study of the sedimentary rocks of the Earth's crust without an evolutionary perspective suggests that they were laid down fairly rapidly, and do not represent a gradual succession of long ages. There is field evidence, heavily documented, that such creatures as man, dinosaur and trilobite lived on the Earth simultaneously. To standard evolutionary reasoning, this is absurd and so the actual evidence is ignored. All that will have to wait for another tape, as will a discussion of the evidence for so-called ‘human evolution’. It can be shown that all of the ape-men series that were constructed since Darwin were based more on imagination than on hard evidence and that the same appears to be true today.
In closing, let us say quite clearly that those who may have taught evolution to you were not being dishonest in any way. We have in our Association biology teachers who faithfully taught evolution as it had been presented to them and who were simply not aware that any alternative existed. In discussions with South Australian teachers, we have found most of them to be open and fair-minded about this issue, and many agree that the scientific case for creation deserves a fair hearing. Some, of course, tend to react emotionally rather than logically and we feel that this is a great pity, especially when they are only partway familiar with creationist arguments. We would certainly not judge ourselves competent to comment on evolution until we had made a thorough study of what evolutionists had to say. Those who want to have a list of further reading material on scientific creationism are invited to write to the Creation Science Association, [address given but CSA no longer exists]. Your general comments and feedback on this material are welcomed.
(approx. playing time = 40 mins)