Starting on Sept 24, 2001, PBS broadcast an eight hour series on Evolution, whose content lingers on at the PBS website. Its memory lingers also, as a classic case of evolutionary propaganda, a result of the liberal – subjective – imaginative Arts gradually merging with the conservative – objective – realistic Sciences. This unhappy combination of contraries might be styled ‘Artscience’, a knowledge domain blending fantasy and fact.
The article that follows is the Kolbe Center’s response to the PBS series, written by Dr. Robert Bennett. The Access Research Network also responded from the viewpoint of Intelligent Design.
A Kolbe Center Summary and Analysis: First, two scientists modestly inform us that Darwin’s “process” of natural selection is
The greatest science discovery ever! The bedrock of biology!
Let’s examine this claim calmly and carefully, via a simulated dialogue with a evolutionary scientist, based on what is actually known today:
What does this great discovery predict?
That species will change in the future, the fittest surviving by the mechanism of random genetic mutation, the others going extinct.
Which ones will survive, how will they change and when?
Can’t answer any of these, because the process is random and unpredictable.
OK, then. How did humans evolve – from what intermediate prior hominids, with what genetic or anatomical changes, and when did these changes occur?
Not known now. When the fossil record is complete, it will answer these questions.
Hasn’t the collection of thousands of bones over 150 years, which now fill museum storerooms, provided the proof that Darwin sought – the intermediate forms for the evolution of all life from its origin?
Well, not yet.
If no smooth transition in species has been demonstrated by paleontology so far, how can science distinguish between evolution of species and the direct creation of same from nothing? Or even that evolution has been proven to occur in the past?
In summary: this great biological bedrock makes no specific predictions about future species, and assumes that future fossil discoveries will validate the premise of evolution.
By the way, wasn’t Bedrock the fictional hometown of Fred Flintstone, a cartoon fantasy about the past?
An operative principle for evolution seems to be this bromide: “With enough time anything can happen.”
Perhaps a bit of good news here….. With a little more time, then, the hypothetical evolution will itself ‘evolve’, hopefully to a saner form, subject to the scientific method which requires factual proof, not the motivation of wishful thinking or denial of transcendence.
The implicit implication here of giga-years available for ‘evolving’, the old earth premise, needs some examination. It’s based on the shaky tool of radioactive dating of rocks. This first requires assumptions about the initial amounts of parent and daughter isotopes. Then the amount of parent/daughter gained or lost during decay by alternate transmutation modes or by particle transport (like leaching) must be known. These estimates are especially dicey if a fluid is involved like, let’s say, argon.
‘Tis small surprise, then, that twenty year old lava from Mt. Helens has been radio-dated by scientific labs, who were unaware of the source, in the range of 300,000 to 1,3000,000 years old, a rather large experimental error.
Radio-dating of samples without independent verification of age is a pure guessing game.
Steven Gould defined his view of evolution as local adaptation only, just by blind, random, purposeless selection (and rejection) of individuals.
Dr. Gould said once that the gaps in the fossil record were the best-kept secret in paleontology, a refreshing but rare admission of reality. These critical absences are not discussed; nor is his proposed remedy, punctuated equilibrium, despite his several appearances in sound-bites. Why strangely silent here, Dr. Gould ? Having second thoughts?
To boost human interest (and ratings ) PBS promoted two areas of epidemiology as models of evolutionary adaptation : AIDS and the spread of tuberculosis in Russia.
To succeed, this logical larceny requires the naivete’ of the general public in distinguishing microevolution, the natural or artificial enhancement of certain rare or latent characteristics already present in the genome, from macro evolution, the alleged transmutation of a species. The various breeds of dogs, cats and pigeons typify the former; nothing demonstrates the latter. Drug-resistance of HIV is micro-evolution of the viral protein coating, and each HIV mutation is not a new species – the definition doesn’t apply to a virus. TB micro-evolution involves no species change; the mutant bacterium remains TB. “TB or not TB, that is NOT the question.” At least, not here.
The wondrous functionality of the human eye, cited by ‘intelligent designers’ like Michael Behe, as a paragon of irreducible complexity unexplainable by mutation mechanisms, inspires quite less wonder in this presentation. Why? Because there are numerous defects, such as retinal separation, floaters, blind spots….!
This is a new oxymoronic evolprop that boldly goes where no logician dares to tread. Once used as a model of the possibilities of blind blundering chance in organic construction by natural selection, the eye’s anatomy and function were part of the evolutionary showcase. Any shortfall was discounted as part of the on-going saga of selective response to environmental pressure; everything is a work-in-progress. Then the Intelligent Design folks pointed out that the calculated probability of the eye’s assembly by mutation of the biochemical building blocks to produce its ‘irreducible complexity’ was a true computational infinitesimal – as close to zero as you can get, without being there.
The evolutionary defense here is evidently to discount the eye’s perfections and emphasize any negatives. So there goes that showcase! Is this smokescreen supposed to underscore the designer’s role as being imperfect, lest anyone try to associate the intelligent designer with the perfect Creator? Does this further subtly imply that the creations of a perfect Creator should themselves be perfect (thus ignoring original sin)? If this implication is the case, then consider: As a creation of God, the mind of man (excuse me – the brain) should be perfect. Then we should all be free of faulty thinking, agreeing on the truth in all things…..like special creation.
An attempt at hearing contrarian views is made by introducing Ken Miller, author of Finding Darwin’s God.
Is this a fair choice of the opposition? Hardly – Ken believes in evolution, as a theistic evolutionist! Thevolutionists are fence straddlers or moderates in the creation vs. evolution debate who try to conflate supernatural acts of creation with natural mechanisms of change. They believe in totally natural processes being responsible for current life forms (once God had created inanimate matter). This leads to such enigma as having post-Fall behavior like predation and death, which are consequences of original sin, in the pre-Fall animal life cycles. Figurative interpretations of scripture when a literal sense suffices are contrary to several magisterial councils and encyclicals.
Rev. 3:15,16 may be overstating their position; in any case, they swallow the evolution bait.
We are told that there is one body plan, 3 billion years old, from which all life descended.
Presuming this body plan resided in a real body, where did this template for all future life on earth come from? How? We know that when is a fiction, since it depends on the radioactive dating game, an age-guessing game that scientists play. Who is a question we can’t ask a scientist. Under modern science rules, science, like the state, must be separated from religion. Darwin only tried to deal with changes in life forms, not its origin from lifeless matter, biogenesis. And prudently so, as the probability of spontaneous generation of life in any hypothetical primitive inorganic soup is also a practical infinitesimal.
Man is not an exception to evolution….
Drawn to its logical conclusion, this point leads to agnosticism/nihilism, the loss of meaning to the human condition. Being an arbitrary chance product of material evolution, the brain generates random thoughts devoid of any basis in truth. One of these meaningless thoughts is…..evolution!
Chimpanzees have nearly the same DNA as we, proving they are our closest living ancestor.
So does this prove we’re evolving into chimps? (Well, maybe just some of us.) How can one tell which direction evolution will favor, in its random natural selection? Remember, the missing link is still just that – missing. Our percent composition by chemical elements and biochemicals is a closer match to other animals, proving what?
In choosing our animal nature characteristics, the Creator chose to efficiently reuse many existing animal genes and proteins. Since all species are different, one must be closest to man by any matching of physical characteristics. That this was the chimp, again, proves what?
The extinction rate is now one hundred times normal, due to man’s interference in nature.
What extinction rate? We were told of mass extinctions wiping out all the dinosaurs. Do we average this out over an alleged sixty five mega-yrs, to get the ‘normal’ rate? Do we include the Cambrian ‘explosion’ when computing the extinction rate?
What human interference? For eight hours the producers’ spin has been that man is the latest natural product of evolution, just another result of natural selection. What about threatened species whose survival is artificially supported by man: e.g., the Tennessee snail darter?
The number of species extant is unknown; only a minimum estimate is ventured by biologists. So we don’t know how many species there are now and we talk about a normal extinction rate despite pulses of alleged mass extinctions. In spite of these gaps in knowledge we DO somehow know that the rate is 100 times the normal rate (which we don’t know). Best leave this to a logician to untangle.
If new species are always evolving, and natural selection is without emotion or purpose, then why care that species are disappearing? Evolution will fill their slots with new species – that’s natural selection! Could there be a wisp of evolutionary doubt hidden here? Carl Sagan said once that death was just evolution’s way of making room for new species. Wonder if he still thinks that’s true.
Most Darwinists are also co-oriented towards ecology and natural conservation causes….. except for one species. For this one species alone they believe in increasing the population extinction rate by pre and post conception control.
A house of cards metaphor is invoked for ecological dependencies; each species is propped up by others, while itself supporting others.
The intricate ecological web of contingencies among life-forms is indeed impressive. It’s an even stronger case against evolution, as it requires complex parallel mutation in multiple species – what good is pollen without bees? The probability of coordinated trans-species symbiosis is very much smaller than advantageous single species genetic mutation, itself infinitesimal.
Evolutionary psychology is evolution’s explanation for sexual and social behavior. Altruism and charity among humans, even the sacrifice of a life, is explained away as natural selection in favor of the species as a whole, by the sacrifice of individuals.
Recall that Gould fancied a natural selection that blindly operates on individuals, not on a whole group, a species. Richard Dawkins’ alternative view of evolution focuses on DNA which selfishly tries to propagate itself, not caring which species are preserved or extinguished.
Neither view of evolution as mindless or selfish can explain a Christian virtue like love. Like evolution itself, evolutionary psychology can explain anything in hindsight, even contrary behavior in the same species. Avarice displays the individual’s drive for survival, charity and self-sacrifice the sense for species survival. By explaining everything, nothing is explained, as Chesterton probably said.
Stone age hominids were not creative, like we are – they used the same tools for a long time with no improvements!
What arrogance, to ignore that today we sit on top of a rich mountain of intellectual and technical inheritance from our ancestors. Deprive modern man of his technology infrastructure support and watch him set a record for mass extinction! Also, ‘for a long time’ assumes that the scientific dating game is correct.
Of the two (alleged) hominid lines of (alleged) twenty thousand years ago, the Neanderthals had no burial rituals and a low technical culture. No explanation for their disappearance is known.
First note that the other line of modern hominids(homo sapiens) had elaborate religious burials. Their use of altars indicates a sense of the spiritual.
An explanation for the extinction can be found by interpretation of Neanderthals as descendents of Cain and ourselves as the continuation of Seth’s line. Cain’s line was ended with the global flood (Noah was a descendant of Seth).
Ken Ham’s lecture is portrayed as a religious revival of fundamentalists, with ‘creation’ folk songs providing the introduction.
This same video stereotype was used for the opening of the film Inherit the Wind – for the same purpose. This subliminally infers that the core of Christian belief in divine creation is primarily fueled by emotion, not by objective and defensible truth.
Campus conflicts were filmed at fundamental Christian Wheaton College, where faculty take a creation pledge, but lots of division over creation vs. evolution is evident in informal discussions. At Jefferson HS in Lafayette it is the kids, not their parents, who demand a special creation option in the science curriculum.
It would seem that the Jefferson kids have more sense than their science teachers in seeing the conflict between the claims of evolution and their Christian beliefs. But it’s sad that they have no one to challenge the science ‘authorities’. Their parents can’t cope with the authoritarian sledgehammer of the science establishment.
It almost seems Orwellian, like some form of ‘evolution police’ enforcing SC – scientific correctness.
Imagine this….Big Brother is monitoring the classrooms and detects a problem.
“Attention, science class #104: A student was heard mentioning ‘creation’ in violation of the Supreme Court ruling on separation of church and state…..”
The book Genesis Flood (Morris) is chided for using selected examples to advance the creation viewpoint.
And the evolution spin-meisters never filter, suppress or distort physical evidence or creationist authors?
In his eagerness to defend Scripture using his background in hydrology, Henry Morris took an ill-advised tack. He attempted to explain God’s intervention in nature – the miracle of the Great Flood – using natural means. His scenario may truly be the vehicle of divine choice for the deluge, but seeking natural means to divine ends plants a nasty precedent to justify all miracles, including creation, through current scientific laws (which will change as time advances). Better to use the moral of the book of Job, chapters 38 to 42, for creation and all miracles. That is: scripture reveals what God’s interventions in nature were, not how they were implemented. Among the reasons – to show that he is the Lord of all things, even natural causes and effects. The effects of the Flood, like sediment stratification, are post-miraculous and fair game for natural interpretation, but not the Cause.
An interesting item was mentioned in discussing the boundaries of biostrata marking the geologic ages. The fossils of burrowing animals allegedly define periods of great biodiversity; their absence marks the times of (alleged) periodic mass extinctions .
As is the case with the interpretation of many archaeological discoveries, the fossils admit to an alternate Biblical view….. Burrowers are unlikely to be swept away or flee from their native habitat in a large-scale deluge, as the larger species would. So a pre-Flood base would be defined by the lowest layer of burrowers’ bones, whose depth would indicate the sediment deposited and the earth’ s topology at the time of Noah. The strata associated with the alleged Cambrian age would be the most likely candidate for this pre-Flood base. Rapid deposits of post-deluvian sedimentary silt would not allow time for the burrowers to establish nests/lairs, so the next layer of burrowing animal fossils would indicate the profile of the reclamation of the land by the burrowers disembarking from the ark.
Someone with a background in paleontology or geology could pursue this reasoning further by objectively looking at the worldwide distribution of burrowers’ bones in the strata for confirmation of this hypothesis, which would link the Biblical record with the fossil record. Any takers?
Review by: Dr. Robert Bennett