In the nearly 150 years since it was first published in 1859, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species has certainly proven to be one of the most influential books of our time. Not only has it shaped modern science; it has had a far-reaching effect on society as a whole. Today, millions of people assume that Darwin's theories, and those of his successors, have established evolution by natural selection as an established scientific fact.
In its November 2004 cover article, National Geographic magazine asked the question: "Was Darwin Wrong?" Unsurprisingly, the author answered: "No!" As is typical with advocates of Darwin's theory, the article asserted that the evidence in favor of evolution is "overwhelming." Even so, debate continues between those who believe in evolution and those who find its assumptions flawed. Many proponents of evolution insist that no educated person can deny its validity, but more and more scientists are finding fatal flaws in Darwin's theory.
What is the truth? Do those who dispute Darwin's theories have a leg to stand on? Can an educated person rationally deny the claims made by evolutionary theory? What does this mean for the creation account given in the Bible's book of Genesis? Does the Genesis account teach literal truth, or can a Christian accept the Bible as God's word, yet believe that evolution was God's chosen means of creation? Is it logical to believe in a Creator God?
The answers to these questions may surprise you. When you really look at the facts, you will find that it is the evolutionists who do not have a leg to stand on!
Make no mistake about it: the concept of evolution through natural selection is the basis of a particular worldview shared by most leading figures in both education and the media. Darwin and his successors have provided a theory that links a variety of biological facts together into a coherent whole that many find logical and attractive—even beautiful. National Geographic, in its November 2004 cover article, proclaimed: "Evolution is both a beautiful concept and an important one, more crucial nowadays to human welfare, to medical science, and to our understanding of the world than ever before. It's also deeply persuasive—a theory you can take to the bank" (p. 8).
This "beautiful concept" has important implications that we need to understand. Also, far from being "deeply persuasive," evolution requires a degree of "blind faith" far beyond what is asked of those who believe in the Bible's account of creation. Notice National Geographic's remarkable admission that "the fossil record is like a film of evolution from which 999 of every 1,000 frames have been lost on the cutting room floor" (ibid., p. 25). While asserting that the fossil evidence proves Darwin's theory correct, evolutionary theory asks its believers to accept a premise for which 99.9 percent of the data are missing! Ask yourself: if you tried to watch a film that contained only one out of every thousand frames, would you be able to follow the story or recognize the action that occurred? How much would you know about what really happened? Practically nothing! The "fossil record" to which evolutionists point consists overwhelmingly of "missing links."
Understanding the Evolutionary Worldview
What do evolutionists mean when they declare that Darwin's theory is crucial to our understanding of the world around us? Simply stated, they mean that evolutionary theory shows that we live in a world that is the result of random chance, not the result of a great plan and purpose. In other words, all life—including human life—is the byproduct of natural physical processes, and is not something bestowed by an all-powerful Creator.
Consider the great moral implication of this theory. If our lives are the result of a direct creative act by a real God, that God may have something to say about how we live those lives. He may hold us accountable for our choices. But if our lives are merely a fluke of biochemical processes, then there is no Supreme Authority to whom mankind is accountable, and no need to adhere to the constraints of biblical morality. After all, if human beings are merely animals, we should expect them to act like animals. Darwin's biological theory of evolution naturally spawned the concept of "social Darwinism"—that society benefits when its weak and "unfit" members are not cared for, and even exterminated—as was the case in Nazi Germany when "survival of the fittest" became a justification for the systematic annihilation of Jews, Gypsies and other groups deemed "unfit" by those in power.
Does human life have a great transcendent purpose, or are we merely a blip on the screen of evolutionary time? Are we made in the very image of our Creator, or are we simply "trousered apes"? Do we have a Creator who has revealed definite laws defining good and evil, or are such codes of ethics and morality mere human constructs that have evolved and will continue to evolve along with human society? Will a Creator sit in judgment of His creation, or does all life meet a nihilistic end? These fundamental questions affect who and what we are, and how we live. Evolution provides one set of answers to these questions. The Bible provides a very different set of answers. How can we be sure which answers are correct?
Even before Darwin, scientists had discussed the idea that life evolved from the simple to the complex. Darwin, however, added something new. Through his explanation of evolution by natural selection, Darwin sought to explain the appearance of design without having to acknowledge a Designer. The late Stephen Jay Gould, a noted Harvard University professor who for years worked tirelessly to popularize evolutionary theory, argued this point in a famous talk titled "The Darwinian Revolution in Thought." Gould told his audience at New Zealand's University of Victoria that Darwin's theory is inherently anti-plan, anti-purpose and anti-meaning. Gould saw this as a virtue of the worldview that comes from accepting evolutionary theory.
By contrast, the Bible provides the foundation for a worldview vastly different from what evolutionary theory proposes. When human beings look at our world, filled with so much pain, sorrow and death, we naturally ask: "Why?" Evolutionary theory says that there is no plan, purpose or meaning to answer this question. The Bible, however, teaches us that sorrow and death are the direct consequence of sin—of disobedience to the Creator (see Genesis 3). In fact, as the Apostle Paul wrote: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:12). Paul further explained that there is redemption and salvation from death and destruction. "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).
Evolution presents a materialistic worldview in which death has always accompanied life; death is seen as just another feature of the natural world. According to Darwin, there was no Adam nor an Eve. There was no serpent. There was no Garden of Eden. There was no first sin. But if we cannot believe Genesis 3 regarding the origin of sin and the current human condition, we have no logical basis to believe John 3 regarding God's solution to sin and death by the gift of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ! If one considers Genesis 3 a metaphor or a lie, then by definition Christ's sacrifice is also reduced to a metaphor or a lie. Evolution and the Bible are simply not compatible. Any who claim that they believe in both simply show that they understand neither!
What Is the Evidence?
Anyone can invent a theory, as Darwin did. But a theory stands or falls based on the evidence. Does the evidence prove or disprove evolution? Can we see evolution currently taking place? Can it be replicated in the laboratory? If mankind and the other creatures that inhabit our world have gradually evolved from a one-celled life form over many millions of years, surely there should be fossil evidence of transitional species. After all, if changes occurred gradually, and "nature" selected only the most efficient while others died out, then the transitional species should far outnumber those with which we are familiar.
The physical evidence for evolution is so minimal (as noted above, 999 out of 1,000 required pieces of evidence are missing) that evolutionists sometimes seem quite gullible in their search for evidence. Note, for example, the excitement that accompanied the 1999 discovery of fossil evidence that supposedly "proved" a key step in the evolution of dinosaurs. In November 1999, a National Geographic magazine headline proudly trumpeted the news: "New Birdlike Fossils Are Missing Links in Dinosaur Evolution." Underneath a picture of the fossils, a caption proclaimed that "this creature found in Liaoning Province, China, is a true missing link in the complex chain that connects dinosaurs to birds." The fossil was called a transitional species, and was named Archaeoraptor by scientists. Through the latter part of 1999, it was displayed proudly at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, DC. But then came "the rest of the story."
Further research demonstrated that scientists had not found the "missing link" between birds and dinosaurs after all. In the February 14, 2000 issue of U.S. News & World Report, editors could not resist taunting their embarrassed counterparts at National Geographic with an article that they titled: "The Piltdown Chicken." As the article explained, "paleontologists are eating crow. Instead of 'a true missing link' connecting dinosaurs to birds, the specimen appears to be a composite, its unusual appendage likely tacked on by a Chinese farmer, not evolution. The 'very bad news,' delivered to the society December 20 in an E-mail from Chinese paleontologist and co-researcher Xu Xing, has rekindled debate over the origin of birds" (p. 53).
An innocent museum-goer, looking at the exhibits in a museum of natural history, might easily be led to believe that the fossil record provides much evidence of the transition from one species to another. Viewing lifelike re-creations of modern man's supposed simian-appearing ancestors, the average person would be amazed to learn upon just how little evidence elaborate "reconstructions" are commonly made. For example, take the case of "Lucy," whom some have touted as the "oldest human." A small piece of the top of a skull, along with a tooth and a piece of shin bone—found scattered in the dirt more than 40 feet apart—served as the basis of this "scientific" reconstruction! Such displays reveal far more about the imagination and talent of artists than they do about the original appearance of what was actually found.
Sometimes, evolutionists reach conclusions so outlandish that one might rightly wonder whether they are truly serious. Take this statement from National Geographic, regarding a discovery made by paleontologist Philip Gingerich, who has spent years researching the ancestry of whales: "In the year 2000 Gingerich chose a new field site in Pakistan, where one of his students found a single piece of fossil that changed the prevailing view in paleontology. It was half of a pulley-shaped anklebone, know as an astragalus… Suddenly he realized how closely whales are related to antelopes. This is how science is supposed to work. Ideas come and go, but the fittest survive. Downstairs in his office Phil Gingerich opened a specimen drawer, showing me some of the actual fossils from which the display skeletons upstairs were modeled. He put a small lump of petrified bone, no larger than a lug nut, into my hand. It was the famous astragalus, from the species he had eventually named Artioocetus clavis" ("Was Darwin Wrong?" November 2004, p. 31).
Gingerich believes that he "proved" the connection between whales and antelopes from a fossil the size of a lug nut? How absurd!
Aside from the fossil record—in which even evolutionists admit that 999 out of every 1,000 items that they seek are missing—where is the evidence to prove Darwin's theory? Evolutionary scientists seek support by pointing to variation within a single species. For instance, pigeons vary in size and color. On his trip to the Galapagos Islands, Darwin collected small brownish birds whose beaks displayed variations in their size and shape. Darwin interpreted this pattern of diversification as evidence of evolution, and as the means by which different species arise.
However, there is a vast difference between the "micro-evolution" that is merely the variation within a particular kind of creature, and the "macro-evolution" that would cause a totally different kind of creature to develop. Dogs, for example, display tremendous variety of size, shape and coloring. However, they are all dogs, and in their variation are not "evolving" into something else. The ample evidence of variation and adaptation within species simply shows the marvelous engineering that God used in designing His creation.
"The Darwinist materialist paradigm… is about to face the same revolution that Newtonian physics faced 100 years ago. Just as physicists discovered that the atom was not a massy particle, as Newton believed, but a baffling quantum arena accessible only through mathematics, so too are biologists coming to understand that the cell is not a simple lump of protoplasm, as Charles Darwin believed. It's a complex information-processing machine comprising tens of thousands of proteins arranged in fabulously intricate algorithms of communication and synthesis. The human body contains some 60 trillion cells. Each one stores information in DNA codes, processes and replicates it in three forms of RNA and thousands of supporting enzymes, exquisitely supplies the system with energy, and seals it in semipermeable phospholipid membranes. It is a process subject to the mathematical theory of information, which shows that even mutations occurring in cells at the gigahertz pace of a Pentium 4 and selected at the rate of a Google search couldn't beget the intricate interwoven fabric of structure and function of a human being in such a short amount of time. Natural selection should be taught for its important role in the adaption of species, but Darwinian materialism is an embarrassing cartoon of modern science."
(George Gilder, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute,
quoted in "Biocosm," Wired, October 2004, p. 160).
Evidence for Intelligent Design
Evolutionists say that all life evolved from "simple" one-celled organisms. But how "simple" is the simple cell? In recent years, the development of powerful electron microscopes has revealed that the "simple" cell is not really so simple!
Jonathan Sarfati is a research scientist in Australia. He holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and has written about the complexity of "simple" life forms. His research has confirmed that even the simplest self-reproducing organisms contain encyclopedic quantities of complex information. The mycoplasma genitalium, which has the smallest known genome, contains 482 genes consisting of 580,000 base pairs.
But there is even more. The discovery of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and the genetic code of life was one of the 20th century's most momentous scientific discoveries. Scientists found that every living organism possesses DNA, a specialized molecule containing the "code" that controls metabolism, repair, replication and specialized function. How does DNA work? Researchers have identified a four-letter genetic "alphabet" that is formed into three-letter sequences called codons. These provide the "instructions" for DNA. Even the simplest bacterium has a genome of about one million codons. As Dr. John Baumgardner, a geophysicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, asked: "Do coded algorithms which are a million words in length arise spontaneously by any known naturalistic process? Is there anything in the laws of physics that suggests how such structures might arise in a spontaneous fashion?" Baumgardner answered his own questions with a frank scientific appraisal: "The honest answer is simple. What we presently understand from thermodynamics and information theory argues persuasively that they do not and cannot."
If evolutionary theory cannot explain million-codon cells, then what is the explanation? Is there evidence of intelligent design behind the world we see around us? More and more scientists are acknowledging that this is indeed the case. One of the best-known proponents of intelligent design is Dr. Michael Behe, a biochemistry professor at Lehigh University and the author of Darwin's Black Box. Dr. Behe sees "irreducible complexity" in the microscopic workings of the flagellum and the eye. Flagella—tiny whiplike appendages on microbes—have a molecular motor so intricate that even many scientists concede that it looks like it was designed. Some argue that the flagellum is itself "irreducibly complex; others suggest that it contains two irreducibly complex subsystems whose coordination cannot be explained by evolution. As for the eye, Dr. Behe challenges evolutionists to explain the 11-cis-retinal molecule, which reacts with light to set off the biochemical process that produces vision. Note, too, the intricate cellular architecture of the retina—if you remove even a single component, then the whole system fails.
We could go on and on, discussing specialized creatures ranging from bombardier beetles to woodpeckers. We could examine the life cycle and migration patterns of monarch butterflies or the sonar possessed by bats. The more you look into the creation, the more evidence you find of design and of irreducible complexity. We live in a universe of interrelated intricacy, not one of random chance.
With all of the physical evidence that points to intelligent design, why do so many educated people cling tenaciously to an unproven theory that is not even a theory in the strict scientific use of the term, but is rather a fatally flawed hypothesis? Nearly two millennia ago, the Apostle Peter foretold the controversy about origins, and explained the reason behind it: "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old…" (2 Peter 3:3–5). Dismissing the evidence of the catastrophes in ages past that bespeak God's previous intervention in judgment, they cling to a doctrine of uniformitarianism. If everything merely continues along with very gradual changes, then one need not worry about God suddenly stepping into history to call His creation into account.
Make no mistake about it: the evidence of creation demands a Creator! That Creator reveals in His word that He will soon intervene to judge His creation. A time of reckoning is coming—and is coming soon, within the lifetimes of most who are reading this article. Are you ready?
In the current controversies about teaching about the origin of life in public schools, there is a general misunderstanding of the differences between “origin science” and “operation science."
In Utah, like many other places in America today, a firestorm has erupted over what can be taught in the state’s public schools concerning evolution.1 The Utah legislature is currently considering a bill requiring public school teachers to inform students that the state does not endorse a particular theory of human origins.
A writer for the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper declared that scientists believe there are “no legitimate contenders” (meaning evolution is supreme) and that the debate concerning evolution is really about how it happened, not that it happened.2
The writer then discussed problems with the definitions of the word “theory” as understood (or misunderstood) by the general public vs. what scientists say: “Scientists reserve the word theory for a hypothesis, or idea, that has withstood rigorous examination to explain something that can be observed” (emphasis added). Later in the Tribune piece, a scientist is reported as saying that “Science demands testable explanations for observable occurrences” (emphasis added). The key word in both quotes is “observed/observable.”
There is a general misunderstanding of the differences between “origin science” and “operation science.” Origin science is based on events which happened in the past and are, therefore, not observable today. Operation science, though, is based on science currently being done in laboratories that is observable today. While it is true that operation science can help us understand what may have happened in the past, it is an extrapolation or best guess based on the evidence that we observe today.
Scientists are biased just like everyone else in that they bring their preconceived ideas about the past and how life originated into their research. For example, if a scientist’s presupposition is that God does not exist and that living organisms are the result of evolution over millions of years, then his interpretations of the outcome of operation science will seem to support his view of the past. When a scientist’s presupposition, however, is that God exists and that living organisms are the result of His creative powers within a six-day period, he can use this to properly interpret the results of operation science which support the Bible's claims. Because all scientists are working with the same data, the battle is not over the evidence but rather the interpretation of that evidence in light of the scientist's presuppositions. Origins science, because it is not testable, tends to be more influenced by a scientist's bias, and therefore tends to be more subjective rather than objective.
Human and chimp similarity?
The Tribune article then touched on the often-cited similarity of the human and chimp genomes as evidence from operation science that supports the presupposition of molecules-to-man evolution/millions of years. One University of Utah biologist who was quoted declared that human/chimp similarity is “absolutely, completely, totally convincing. It is proof [of evolution].” This is an astonishing statement, for nothing in science ever proves or disproves a theory. The evidence either supports or does not support a theory; proof is too strong of a word, and instead the word support is always preferred. This same scientist then went on to say that, “Anyone who has examined the evidence can see that the similarities point toward an ancient common ancestor that links all species.”
I am a scientist, a molecular geneticist, and I have examined the same evidence, and I believe the similarities point towards a common Designer that created animal kinds and man.
And how similar are the human and chimp genomes really? The often-quoted numbers of 96–99% similarity are only for regions of the DNA (DNA is the molecule of heredity) that code for proteins. If a particular protein serves a function in one organism and the function was needed in another organism, wouldn’t we expect to find the same protein?
In addition, the remainder of the genome consisting of “junk” DNA and highly repetitive sequences has not been examined for similarity. Why? Because in the evolutionists’ mind, they are not important.
“Junk” DNA, for example, is thought of as an evolutionary leftover. However, there is increasing evidence to support a role for so-called “junk” DNA. It may serve a role in regulating how much protein is eventually expressed from the DNA. “Junk” DNA may also serve as a spacer between genes (protein coding sequences) much like the function of the spaces between the words in this article—without them the letters wouldn’t make any sense.
Differences between humans and chimps
Here are some other interesting differences between the human and chimp genomes which are often not reported:
- The chimp genome is 12% larger than the human genome.
- Only 2.4 billion bases have been aligned between the two genomes, leaving a maximum similarity of 68–77%.
- In many areas of the genome, it appears major rearrangements of DNA sequences have occurred, accounting for another 10–20% dissimilarity.
- Chimps have 46 chromosomes and humans have 44 chromosomes (excluding sex chromosomes for both species).
- To save money and time, the chimp genome was assembled using the human genome as a template (because of the presupposition that humans evolved from the same line as chimps); it is currently unknown if the pieces of the chimp genome “puzzle” were put together properly.
To address these concerns and others, comparisons of the human and chimp genomes will be a part of “GENE” project sponsored by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).The bioinformatics team (of which I am a part) will be analyzing different aspects of the human genome with special emphasis given to the comparison of human and chimp genomes. As stated by project leader Dan Criswell of ICR, “GENE’s” goal is “to provide scientific evidence supporting the Biblical position that man was created distinctly different from the animals, and that each ‘kind’ of animal was created distinctly different from other ‘kinds’.” Again, it all depends on one’s presuppositions.
The interpretation of scientific evidence from operation science informs our beliefs about origin science. What must be understood is that scientists’ presuppositions determine their interpretation of the evidence—God or no God; six 24-hour creation days or evolution/millions of years; accepting the authority of the Bible or not adhering to the Bible.
A biologist in the Tribune article is quoted as saying, “It’s very difficult to be a biologist and not recognize the importance of evolution.” I would like to rephrase that: “It’s very difficult to be a biologist and not recognize the importance of God and His creation.”