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Why evolution can't take the heat!
By Nicholas Comninellis, MD
Co-authored with Joe White, President of Kanakuk Kamps.
Finally, an honest critique of the scientific evidence for both evolution and creation. This hard-hitting, cutting-edge book challenges conventional teaching with provocative, evidence-based answers to some of the greatest questions of all time: Did life begin as a random accident? Were living creatures actually designed? How old in fact is the earth? Are our profs and teachers misleading us? Was Darwin right about evolution?
How Did Life Begin?
This is a vast question. But is it really important today? Absolutely. Knowing the truth about our origins is essential because it affects our attitudes toward ourselves and the way we treat other people. For example, if we are indeed the end result of billions of years worth of chance biochemical reactions, as evolutionary theory tries to explain, then human nature, and even the value of human life, is quite different than if we are actually the result of an intelligent Creator who designed us.
The truth about our origin also has an impact on our concept of God, even our interaction with God. If humans are actually the accidental by-product of biological mutations, it’s a count against there actually being any superhuman power. But if we’re the craftsmanship of a God who personally planned and designed humans and other creatures, then this is someone we may want to know more about.
Sorting out answers to the truth of our origins involves some fascinating work, and touches on the fields of cosmology (study of the universe), chemistry, physics, statistics, biology, genetics, paleontology, and archeology. Finding the truth also involves a certain amount of objectivity and emotional insulation, for some people’s strongest passions are kindled by this issue.
For starters, let’s be clear about what we mean by evolution. Prior to the mid-1800s, most people on earth believed that all living things — each type of animal, plant, and microorganism — were directly created by God, and had changed very little, if any, since that time. With few exceptions, most of the great scientists of the 17th and 18th centuries who actually invented the many disciplines that scientists practice today, believed that humans and all other creatures had been designed by a supernatural Creator.
Then in 1859 Charles Darwin published his book Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, also entitled The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life or Origin of the Species, for short. Darwin impressed the world with the proposal that all life began from a single cell, and that over millions of years living creatures have continually changed and adapted, becoming more complex and varied.
|Darwin: A Closer Look
Charles Darwin’s father and grandfather were physicians, and Charles initially sought to follow in their footsteps. In spite of being a less-than-sterling student, he entered Cambridge University in 1828, and eventually graduated with a degree in theology. After Cambridge, Darwin planned to enter the ministry somewhere in the English countryside.
One day he received a letter from Captain Fitzroy, a decorated seaman who commanded the sailing vessel Beagle. Darwin was offered the position of naturalist on an upcoming five-year, round-the-world ocean voyage. He accepted. During the voyage, he made copious notes of his observations, especially of the varieties within species. In particular, Darwin noticed as many as 13 varieties of finches, a small tropical bird.
Years after returning from the Beagle voyage, Darwin began to form his philosophy of origins. He suggested that varieties within species (such as finches) occurred spontaneously. In the struggle to survive in a harsh world, some varieties were better suited than others. Those who were superior lived and reproduced, while those who were weaker died off. He proposed that this process of spontaneous variation and “survival of the fittest” continued over millions of years, and resulted in the tremendous varieties of life we find today.
Darwin was initially praised by some as a marvelous thinker. His evolutionary approach impacted many fields, including biology, astronomy, ethics, religion, psychology, and philosophy. In stark contrast to his theological training, Darwin later demonstrated enormous contempt for anything Christian. He wrote:
The world rapidly accepted Darwin as an authority and adopted his explanation as fact. Within 50 years, most of the scientific community, and indeed much of the western world, had confidence in his leading.
Darwin’s theory of evolution today remains the most widely held explanation for the origin of life. In short, it says simply that all living things arose randomly from an inorganic, inanimate world. In this theory, all living things are interrelated. Humans and apes, for example, are believed to have begun from a single animal five to twenty million years ago. Likewise, primates (which include men and apes) are believed to have begun from a single animal approximately seventy-five million years ago.
Similar connections are imagined throughout the entire animal and plant kingdoms. The study of these hypothetical relationships is called phylogeny, and they can be illustrated by a so-called phylogenetic tree.
Evolution, as it is commonly understood today, depends upon four factors. Evolutionists (people who have confidence in the theory of evolution) explain them in this way:
Tiny Changes Don't Count
It’s also important to point out what is not considered to be evolution. Evolution does not refer to changes or adaptations within a particular basic type of plant or animal. Rather, evolution — sometimes specified as “macroevolution” — refers to one basic type transforming into another. Textbooks often describe adaptations that have taken place in biology — small changes within certain species. This process of adaptation is sometimes called “microevolution.” This is an actual occurrence — a fact on which all scientists agree. A common error is made in scientific reasoning, unfortunately, when these adaptations (or microevolution) are used to assume that “macroevolution” (evolution from one basic type of living creature into another) also takes place.
Each basic type of living creature has its own unique gene pool or genetic code. Basic types of animals are fairly readily recognized, and include the dog/wolf type, the elephant type, the chimpanzee type, the rat type, and so forth.
All humans belong to the basic “human” type. Tiny variations may occur within our type, such as differences in eye color, hair distribution, and skin color in the case of humans. In the case of corn, varieties seem to have arisen over the years, including starch corn, flint corn, sweet corn, pod corn, popcorn, and dent corn. Macroevolution does not refer to such limited changes, changes which do not lead to a new basic type of plant or animal.
What the theory of evolution does say is that dogs and cats arose from a common ancestor; an ancestor that over time diversified itself into mammals of different basic types. The theory also postulates that sparrows, finches, parrots, and blackbirds all came from a common forefather, such as an ancestral reptile; one who through the ages transformed itself into new basic types.
Some will refer to the subtle changes within basic types (for example, eye color among humans) as evidence of evolution in progress, that many such tiny changes could eventually lead to a new basic type. The critical evidence for evolution, however, lies not in proving tiny changes, but in proving the transformation of one basic type into another.
|Breeding and Artificial Selection Don’t Count
Sometimes evolutionists point to artificial selection of plants and breeding of animals as evidence for evolution. They say that such breeding is simply evolution in fast motion, helped along by human decision-makers. Anyone with experience in breeding plants or animals, however, quickly comes to three conclusions:
Breeding and artificial selection result in variations in existing traits only, and these are with the assistance of human genius. These are completely insufficient to prove evolution as a “natural” and spontaneous process since nothing new or complex arises, and the change accomplished is always extremely limited.
No matter what combinations may occur, the human basic type always remains human, and the dog basic type never ceases to be dog. In fact, breeding and artificial selection may actually demonstrate the maximum limits of evolution. The most modified creatures survive only because they are kept where they have ample food, and are protected from natural enemies.
|The Evidence Please
To prove whether or not a theory is true requires some honest investigation. The very best evidence for the truth of a theory is to observe the subject in action. Unfortunately, it is impossible to turn back time and take notes on the early development of life on our planet.
The next best evidence would come from constructing an experiment to test whether or not evolution seems to be currently happening, or is even a possibility. However, evolution is said to only take place over millions of years, making such an experiment impossible to undertake!
Lacking the above options, we are left with looking for indirect evidence of evolution. This evidence can come from three main sources:
• Probability. Spontaneous generation and random mutations are events for which we can estimate the probabilities of them happening. Natural selection can also be statistically analyzed. If evolution is indeed true, we should find that the mathematical probability is reasonable. In today’s scientific research, most investigations demand that the odds of being correct be at least 95%. Similarly, we would expect the mathematical odds favoring evolution to be quite good.
• Earth Age. Since evolution demands millions of years, determining the true age of our planet is also essential. Our investigation should also confirm that the earth is extremely old, on the order of billions of years. Otherwise, there simply would not be enough time sufficient for evolution to take place. We should also discover that throughout the earth’s long life, conditions were appropriate for life to flourish. The air temperature, oxygen concentration, sunlight, and so on were suitable to support living things.
• The Fossil Record. The fossil layers of the earth’s outer crust serve as a museum of earlier life. If evolution is indeed true, our investigation should unearth fossils that show a steady progression of life forms linking, for example, guppies and sharks, finches and eagles, and apes and humans.
We would expect that the oldest and deepest layers of fossils would contain the earliest, most primitive forms of life. As we search through younger, shallower layers, we would expect to find a gradual transition of the more primitive life forms into more complex ones. We would also expect that fossils of new life forms would not appear suddenly, but would show gradual changes or transitions.
Evolutionists claim, for example, that fish evolved into amphibians. So, we can expect to find transitional forms illustrating the gradual transition of fins into feet and legs, among other changes. Since the transition from fish to amphibian would have required many millions of years (during which time many millions, even billions, of the transitional forms must have lived) fossils of many of these transitional forms should be discovered.
If reptiles turned into birds, as is claimed, then we should also expect to find fossils with gradual extending of the front feet of the reptile into the form of wings like a bird, along with the reptile’s leathery skin transforming into feathers. The fossil record ought to reveal many millions of transitional, intermediate life forms. They should fill museum collections.
The fact that many people believe evolution is true is not enough to prove it. The fact that some creatures show similarities with other creatures is insufficient to prove that they evolved from one another. If evolution is accurate, it must be supported by fossils, a very old earth, and the laws of probability. We will return to these three proofs in the coming chapters.
The only other credible explanation for life is that it was intentionally designed and created. Just looking at the layout of the earth, planets, and cosmos causes some people to be convinced that a Designer must exist. Researching the intricacies of human biological life, our genetic code and internal systems persuades thinkers that it’s impossible for these to have originated by chance. Examining the claims and evidence for evolution convinces many individuals that there must be a better explanation.
The Christian view is that God both intentionally planned and produced the universe and all forms of life. Many scientists, non-Christian thinkers, and those of other philosophies also agree. Christian views about creation, and many other subjects, are found in the book called the Bible. Creation is primarily explained in Genesis, at the very beginning of the Bible.
For the sake of those not familiar with Genesis, a brief overview reveals God first creating the earth, followed by originating the plants, creating the sun and stars, and then the animals. God’s ultimate creative accomplishment was humankind. Genesis says little about how God created the universe, except that it happened suddenly and intentionally. God’s design and initiation of the universe is often called special creation.
Genesis describes God having a close friendship with Adam and Eve, the very first created people. Adam and Eve had three children, and their community grew rapidly. Genesis chapter 5 describes several generations of people before a special man named Noah was born.
Trouble was growing on earth, for people were ignoring God and treating one another cruelly. God decided to obliterate life and start over again. He chose Noah to build an ark (a giant boat) and fill it with a male and female of every type of air-breathing, land-dwelling animal.
God caused a flood of water to cover the entire earth, rising above even the highest mountains. All animal life on the planet perished. But Noah, his family, and the animals were safe in the ark. After a year, the water had subsided and dry land prevailed. Noah opened the ark and released the animals to replenish the earth with life.
As we will see later, considerable scientific and historical evidence supports the events described in Genesis.
Above, we identified each unique variety of life as a basic type. The first two chapters of Genesis describe God’s creation of each basic type of plant and animal. It emphasizes that each basic type was designed to reproduce itself. The minor changes that have occurred in living things since creation have been limited to changes within particular basic types.
Special creation does not eliminate the possibility of varieties occurring within basic types. Each was created with a large enough pool of genes to give rise to all sorts of varieties within that particular basic type.
Humans represent a basic type. There are about six billion humans in the world today. Except for identical twins, no two humans are exactly alike. None have the exact same gene combination. Yet we are all still distinctly human.
The situation with dogs is similar. All dogs are variations within that basic type. Whether a little Chihuahua or a German Shepherd, a beagle or a bulldog, all dogs have the same basic gene pool that makes them distinctly dogs. Humans, of course, have bred dogs to create special breeds. But they are all still dogs.
This is one of the points at which evolution and creation stand in complete opposition. Evolution holds that transformation takes place from one basic type into another. Creation holds that variations within basic types are possible, but that no transformation into new species has occurred. Instead, all basic types that ever existed — dinosaurs, bacteria, plants, mammals — were created at the beginning of time, and since then no new kinds have come into being. This is consistent with what the Bible says about creation being finished on the sixth day, as recorded in Genesis 2:2.
People who believe that life was designed and created are often known as “creationists.” Many Christians and believers in various religions would be known as creationists. Furthermore, numerous scientists looking at the evidence also hold the creation account as the best explanation for life. Some of the more famous “creationist scientists” include:
The number of today’s scientists who adhere to creation is also impressive. Rejecting the idea of particles-to-people evolution, they are more convinced by the arguments for an orderly, intentionally planned universe. Refusing the concept that life simply began by chance, they see life as telling us something about the Creator himself.
The Evidence Please
As in the case of evolution, the very best evidence for creation would come from actually being present and observing the creation of the universe in action. Lacking this, the next best evidence would come from studying creation in action today, proving that it is scientifically possible. Scientists continue to carefully study life. However, in recorded history no new life forms have been discovered. The Genesis account, furthermore, says that creation of life forms was completed back at the beginning of time.
Without evidence like that just described, we are left with looking for indirect signs of creation. Parallel to evolution, we can look at evidence from the same three main sources:
• Probability. Since life is so unique and complex, we should find that the mathematical probability of it occurring spontaneously is very, very low.
• Earth Age. The age of the earth described in the Bible is essentially very young; on the order of 6,000–10,000 years. Since all life was created simultaneously, a longer time frame is unnecessary to explain its existence. Our scientific findings regarding earth’s age should show a young planet.
• The Fossil Record. If creation is true, we’d expect to find a sudden, explosive appearance in the fossil record of highly complex forms of life. We would predict that fossils of all of the major types of plants and animals would appear abruptly. We also expect to find no sign of transitional forms linking one basic type to another in the fossil record.
We would anticipate finding fossilized remains of mice, lizards, cats, dogs, cows, elephants, horses, bats, dinosaurs, sharks, monkeys, apes, and men. Each basic type from its earliest fossils would be fully developed and possess the characteristics that set it apart from all others.
Either creation is true or evolution is true. No other possible explanation for life exists. The fact that some people believe in creation or evolution is not enough to prove that one or the other is correct. The evidence from fossils, the age of the earth, and the laws of probability is essential.
Watch Your Bias
Searching out honest answers to big questions is admirable. It’s also difficult. One of the major obstacles comes from each person’s bias. Bias means our tendency to find what we first decide we want to find, rather than what’s actually there. It means our inclination to see what we really desire to see, rather than seeing what actually exists.
People are prone to let their individual bias get in the way of logical thinking. We tend to wrongly believe, for example, that whites make for better students, and blacks for better athletes. We unjustly hold that men should be doctors and women should be nurses. We undeservingly view young people as less trustworthy than those who have gray hair. Bias keeps us from living our lives consistent with the actual truth. It causes you and me to become shortsighted and to miss opportunities.
Investigating ideas of creation and evolution tends to magnify people’s bias even more sharply. Some individuals don’t want to be confronted with a truth that may force them to rethink their entire perspective on God, history, science, and the value of human life. It seems easier to just dig in their heels, hanging on to ideas that have little support, rather than to look at the facts and reconsider.
But denying reality has its costs. Gravity will make you fall, even if you don’t believe it exists. Electricity can shock you, even though you can’t see it. Grasping untrue ideas about origins can cause you to totally miss some of the most remarkable aspects of life.
A person can try to overcome their own bias by taking these steps:
• Start by clarifying in your mind what it is you believe about this subject. From whom did you get these ideas? What questions do you have about them today?
• Decide in advance that you’ll reconsider the evidence, and not let your previous ideas get in the way.
• Promise yourself that, if necessary, you’ll change your views and try to live consistently with the truth surrounding this subject.
Hallucinations consist of imagining things that don’t really exist. No one honestly wants to have hallucinations. Neither do we want to fill our lives with unreal ideas. Let’s find out the truth about creation and evolution.
How did life begin? It’s not an abstract question, for the truth about our origins affects both our attitudes toward people and also our interaction with the supernatural.
The popular answer is evolution, that humans and all other living things are the result of spontaneous generation, random mutations, natural selection, and millions of years worth of time. Popular as this idea may be, evolution (if evolution is indeed true) must stand up to several tests: the probability must be reasonable, the inhabitable earth must be very old, and fossils must be found showing the transition from one basic type into another.
The only other possible explanation for life is creation; that God intentionally designed and produced all living things. For evidence, we’d expect to find creatures so intricate they could not have arisen on their own, a young planet consistent with the Bible’s account of creation, and a lack of fossils that clearly show transitions between creatures.
The subject of evolution and creation is complicated by people’s tendency to see what they want to see, rather than seeing the facts as they really are. By keeping our bias under control, however, we can discover the real truth about how life began.
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