A whale of a tale
Gaps in the fossil record; the lack of transitional forms; evidence of design; massive catastrophism; sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record; enormous sedimentary layersin fact, virtually all of the major arguments used by creationist scientists to combat molecules-to-man evolution—evolutionary history explains them all! At least, that’s according to Dr Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics at University College, London, in his updated version of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, entitled Almost Like A Whale.1
Why don’t we see intermediate forms today illustrating evolution? You wouldn’t expect to if you really understood the process of evolution.
But, according to long-age interpretations of the fossil record, some animals have remained unchanged for millions of years, while others appear or disappear suddenly. Well, that’s what you’d expect from evolution!
And how about some animals that show ‘apparent miracles of complexity?’ This just reveals the ‘force of natural selection’.2
In fact, it doesn’t matter what arguments creationists use, it doesn’t matter what one finds in the universe—what you find is exactly what you would expect if evolution were true! Besides which, ‘evolution is impossible to deny’,3 and ‘No biologist can work without the theory of evolution’.4
Such are the summarized ramblings of Jones, who, using the same chapter headings as Darwin, updated each section with the supposed latest and greatest evidences for molecules-to-man evolution. At the same time, he took every opportunity to shake his fist at the Creator God of the universe.
Jones calls this 400-page work ‘a post-modernist treatment of evolution’, 5 but anyone expecting to come across startling new challenges to cause creationists to cringe or run for cover will be disappointed. This is just a rehash of the usual (sometimes outdated and already rejected) evolutionary arguments, with some additional examples of them, all presented with religious fervour.
Jones begins the book by stating that ‘no scientist denies the central truth of The Origin, the idea of descent with modification … evolution is inevitable’.6 We are told that evolution ‘depends on mistakes in reproduction’6 and life is ‘a series of successful mistakes’.7
To set the scene for the rest of the book, Jones wants to make sure we don’t think too highly of ourselves. He says, ‘We are all branches on a common tree and share descent with primates and, for that matter, with pigs’.8 Remember that the next time you have bacon for breakfast!
Consistent with the title, whale evolution, one of his major planks, features early on. He regurgitates that typical whale evolution story involving the alleged transitional forms, Pakicetus, Ambulocetus and Basilosaurus. He makes the outlandish claim that, ‘With these fossils, almost all the steps from land animal to leviathan have been found.’9 What are the facts?
Pakicetus has been imaginatively reconstructed as a ‘walking whale’ from some teeth, skull and jaw fragments. The bony evidence is consistent with it being a land mammal. Its hearing apparatus was that of a land mammal, and it was found buried with other land mammals. [Ed. note: see Whale Evolution?, showing how further evidence published after this article shows that Pakicetus was a completely terrestrial mammal and nothing like the reconstruction shown.]
There are more bones present in Ambulocetus (dated later than true whales, incidentally).10 But even here the crucial bits are missing. One evolutionist writes: ‘Since the pelvic girdle is not preserved, there is no direct evidence in Ambulocetus for a connection between the hind limbs and the axial skeleton.’11
Basilosaurus, known of for over 100 years, has no such missing parts. This oddly serpentine creature had functional reproductive claspers which gave rise to the claim that they ‘devolved’ from hind legs. But a famous evolutionist fossil expert writes of this entire group that it ‘could not possibly have been ancestral to any of the modern whales’.12
Speciation is not necessarily evolution
Jones proceeds to give many examples of speciation (the formation of new species): dogs, pigeons, horses, cats, roses, mice, oxen, antelopes, finches, crows, lizards and others. Creationists do not disagree with such observations. In fact, we point out that it is an important part of the Biblical Creation/Flood model. But we also point out that the changes occur only within the information already present, which follows naturally from the Biblical teaching that living things were to reproduce ‘after their kind’.
Crucially, in none of these examples is there any new information (resulting in brand new characteristics) generated. In fact, within the ‘daughter’ group there is less genetic information than in the group from which it descended.
In spite of this, Jones continually calls such changes ‘evolution’, thus indoctrinating his readers to believe that any form of change in living things is part of the evolutionary process. But if you continue a downhill process forward in time, it will not add up to a massive uphill process. Put another way, adding up lots of losses will not result in a net gain. But fish-to-philosopher evolution demands massive net information gains.
Despite the fact that all breeding selection processes do is sort the information already present, plus concentrate a few inherited genetic defects, Jones states that ‘the best place to see evolution is on the farm’13 and says, ‘A dog show is evolution chalked out for all to behold.’14 Creationists have long pointed out that wolves and dogs are the same created kind. The downhill processes of selecting from the information already present have led to domestic dogs, and still further to the ‘pure’ (i.e. more and more genetically ‘thinned out’) breeds of today. Jones’s statement that a dog ‘is a barely evolved wolf’15 serves only to maintain the semantic confusion around the word ‘evolution’. By labelling all genetic changes, even downhill ones, as ‘evolution’, he makes it seem as if he has thereby proved that particles turned into people.
In fact, Jones carefully weaves a web of what can only be called deceit in setting up his readers to reject Biblical Creation and the account of the Flood. Having documented new species forming, he continually calls this speciation ‘evolution’. He then cleverly sets up a ‘straw man’ for the unsuspecting reader so as to be able to ‘demolish’ creationists. He states, ‘Nobody, say the anti-evolutionists, has ever seen a species arise. That, as it happens [and as he has painstakingly shown in the previous pages], is not true …’.16
During this indoctrination process, he states that ‘the world may contain a hundred million different kinds of plant and animal’.17 He is preparing the ground to bring up the usual but fallacious argument that Noah couldn’t have fitted all the land animal kinds on the Ark. He states, ‘Noah, the world’s second taxonomist (after Adam), had to decide who to allow on to his Ark.’18
Not the moth fraud, surely …
Jones continues with a typical neo-Darwinian discussion of natural selection and mutation as the basic mechanism for molecules-to-man evolution. He states, ‘Natural selection is a machine that makes almost impossible things’.19 He then illustrates this using the example of—wait for it—England’s peppered moths. For one thing, this did not involve mutation. It was at most a fairly trivial example of natural selection shifting relative proportions of two varying types within a population back and forth. Moths, resting on tree trunks in the daylight, were ‘picked off’ by birds more readily depending on whether they were dark or light in relation to how light or dark the bark was.
Even the famous biologist L. Harrison Matthews, in the foreword to the 1971 edition of Origin of Species, conceded that selection of peppered moths did not show ‘evolution in action’. But we know now that such moths do not rest on tree trunks in daylight. The photos in countless textbooks are fraudulent; dead moths were glued or pinned onto the trees.20
Concerning the human eye, Jones, in what seems to be the real motive behind the book, shakes his fist at God by claiming, ‘The feeblest designer could improve it’.21 He calls it the work of ‘an insensible drudge: an instrument, like all others, built by a tinkerer rather than by a trained engineer.’ Incidentally, this has been thoroughly discredited in our refereed journal TJ, by an expert in ophthalmologic function and design.22
Professor Steve Jones1, the author of Almost Like a Whale (described as ‘a modern version of Darwin’s Origin of Species’), interviewed by The Science Show2, on why people die, said:
‘What happens is that any gene which increases our ability to reproduce ourselves … will be favoured even if it’s tremendously expensive after reproduction has taken place. So that’s why children are healthy and old people are unhealthy. What matters is living long enough to pass on your genes. Once you’ve passed on your genes you don’t matter in the Darwin Machine, so you die.’
- Dept. of Biology (Galton Laboratory), University College London.
- Broadcast on ABC radio (Australia) on 5 May, 2001.
Like Darwin, Jones sees a world full of death and decay. He would not, of course, accept our sin, through the Fall and the resultant Curse on creation, as being responsible for the mess we observe around us. He goes into great detail to ensure the reader is almost repulsed by a ‘nature red in tooth and claw.’ Even though he doesn’t say it in these words, one can hear him saying, how can there be a God of love in this world of death, disease, violence and suffering? As he states, ‘…it may not be a logical deduction, but to my imagination it is far more satisfactory to look at such instincts as the young cuckoo ejecting its foster-brothers … not as specially endowed or created instincts, but as small consequences of one general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.’
Jones certainly seems familiar with the Bible and its account of Creation, referring to many Biblical passages throughout. He refers to Adam and Eve (see What was the original sin? below) as he begins an explanation for the evolution of sex—showing clearly how he views the morality of this issue. He says, ‘Sex … is a biological marketplace. Every species is, more or less, a sexual republic. Within each, open exchange is the rule and every inhabitant has a chance to barter its DNA with any other.’23
Does Jones ever admit any weaknesses in evolution? He does say, echoing Darwin: ‘Geology assuredly does not reveal any finely graduated organic chain, and this is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against the theory of evolution.’24 However, he then tries to substantiate that this is what you would expect to find. After all, there have been many catastrophes that destroy evidence—fossilization is a rare event because animal flesh and bones decay quickly. Simple statistics show the fallacy of his argument; how odd that the transitional forms Darwinism requires are preferentially destroyed! He goes to great lengths to discuss the destructive force of water, and even says, ‘The turmoil of the rocks means that fossils are not laid down in neat sequence in an ordered world’.25
He then derides those who believe in Noah’s Flood by subtle intimidation: ‘The nineteenth century preferred to see the past swept away by acts of God. Disasters were an excuse for not thinking.’26
His arguments concerning the age of the sediments and the Earth are the usual ones creationists have heard for years and have answered many times before: The Green River Shales of Wyoming,27 radiometric dating,28 chalk beds,29 fossil reefs,30 etc.
Truly this considerable work is an illustration of fallen man as portrayed so graphically in Romans 1 as he ‘exchanged the glory of the uncorruptible God for an image made like corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things’ (Romans 1:23). The same chapter indicates that fallen people do not ‘like to retain God in their knowledge’ (v. 28).
Romans 1:21 says: ‘Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.’ Sadly, no better example of this can be found than Jones’s statement concerning the legs of English sparrows introduced into the USA. Applying his blind faith in supposed unlimited variation in genetics (contradicted by real science), he refers to the lengthening of these sparrows’ legs by a mere 5% in a century and says: ‘Although it is not known to what extent the change in sparrow shape is due to genes rather than to a direct response to the environment, evolution at that speed would bring forth a sparrow with the legs of an ostrich in just ten thousand years.’31
This work, acclaimed by the secular world, has come, and will go. However, ‘The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand for ever’ (Isaiah 40:8).
What was the original sin?
Despite Jones’s obvious familiarity with the Bible, he seriously misleads his readers about the whole issue of human sexuality and the Fall.
On page 184 of the book discussed here, he says, ‘Adam and Eve fell into temptation when they ate the tomato of the tree of knowledge … Sex, the trap into which the inhabitants of Eden fell … .’ Not only does the Bible say nothing about a tomato or any other label for the fruit of the tree, Jones libels the Genesis account by maintaining that Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan into having sex. Adam and Eve, as husband and wife, were told by God, prior to the temptation and Fall, to ‘be fruitful and multiply’ (Gen. 1:28)—hardly possible without sexual intercourse! The original sin was the rejection of God’s authority, in the eating of a literal fruit from a literal tree, which was the only thing they had been told not to do. It resulted from not trusting God’s Word (‘Did God really say…?’), and from pride, the desire to be like God.
In fact, this idea that the Fall had to do with sex is such a ridiculous caricature of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality that one suspects it was deliberate, in order to further inoculate people against Biblical Christianity (the play Inherit the Wind, an anti-Christian distortion of the famous 1925 Scopes ‘Monkey Trial’, also falsely puts this same nonsense into the mouth of the lawyer defending creation).1
Jones has written another popular evolution-based book, in which he also engages in repeated subtle ridicule of Christianity. In it, he says, ‘Sex … led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, Eve the more culpable as she tempted Adam towards immorality (a persistent theme in the ideology of gender, in which sexual blame is usually placed on females).’2
Imagine the outcry if an academic were to so repeatedly and blatantly, on such a widely published scale, misrepresent any other major document of antiquity.
AIDS and Evolution
Steve Jones’s rewrite of Darwin’s Origin majors on the AIDS virus as one of the best examples of evolution. However, more than a decade ago we wrote extensively in demolition of this claim.1
Copying (genetic) defects (mutations) in viruses may be the cause of major changes in infectivity simply by random reshuffling of the code on their exterior.
An immune system ‘trained’ to detect enemy soldiers of one type will not recognize them if they have ‘changed uniform’, in effect. Such random shuffling back and forth may of course beautifully demonstrate mutation and natural selection, but does not remotely show these in the process of propelling an organism ‘uphill’.
The changes do not show any increase in functional complexity; they are all strictly ‘horizontal’. I.e., they do not add any information.
In any case, viruses can never demonstrate evolution in living things because they are not themselves living. They require the machinery of an already living, fully complex organism to reproduce.
Thus, viruses can’t be evolutionary ancestors of other life-forms; informed evolutionists do not regard these non-living ‘cellular parasites’ as being intermediate between life and non-life, for example. Viruses must always remain viruses; at best they can be used to ‘argue by [faint] analogy’.
The way Jones uses the AIDS virus in his book is as misleading as his sections on speciation (see main text), since it gives the impression that its ability to mutate and be selected for is a demonstration of observed evolution. Yet no matter how many millions of years it were to go on for, such a process is not remotely capable in principle of turning a virus into anything other than a virus—not even into a living organism, let alone a progressively more complex one.
References and notes
- Jones, S., Almost Like a Whale: the Origin of Species updated, Doubleday, London, 1999. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 157. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 21. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 22. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. xxi. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. xxii–xxiii. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. xxvi. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. xxvii. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 18. Return to text.
- Batten, D., A whale of a tale? CEN Tech. J. 8(1):2–3, 1994. Return to text.
- Berta, A., What is a whale? Science 263(5144):180–181, Thewissen, J.G.M., Hussain, S.T., Arif, M., Fossil evidence for the origin of aquatic locomotion in archaeocete whales, pp. 210–212, 1994. Return to text.
- Stahl, B.J., Vertebrate History: Problems in Evolution, McGraw-Hill, New York, p. 489, 1974. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 25. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 27. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 40. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 129. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 50. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 51. Of course, it was not Noah’s decision, but God’s. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 75. Return to text.
- As documented in Wieland, C., Goodbye, peppered moths, Creation21(3):56, 1999. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 140. Return to text.
- Gurney, P.W.V., Our ‘inverted’ retina—is it really ‘bad design’?, CEN Tech. J. 13(1):37–44, 1999. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 183–184. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 207. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 217. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 235. Known as the informal logical fallacy of ‘poisoning the well’. Return to text.
- Garner, P., Green River Blues, Creation 19(3):18–19, 1997. Return to text.
- See Woodmorappe, J., The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods, Institute for Creation Research, California, 1999. Return to text.
- Snelling, A.A., Can flood geology explain thick chalk beds? Journal of Creation8(1):11–15, 1994; creation.com/chalk. Return to text.
- Oard, M.J., The paradox of Pacific guyots and a possible solution for the thick ‘reefal’ limestone on Eniwetock Island, CEN Tech. J.13(1):1–2, 1999; Roth, AA, Fossil reefs and time, Origins22(2):86–104, 1995. Return to text.
- Ref. 1, p. 242. Return to text.