Kolbe Report 3/18/23

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Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I want to thank all of you once again who watched and prayed for Dr. Kevin Mark in his recent debate with Dr. Douglas Darnowski on the Crisis Magazine podcast.  The outpouring of congratulations we have received for Dr. Mark testify to the effect of your prayers and to the splendid defense that he offered for the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation.  In this newsletter, I would like to offer a few reflections on some of the topics raised during the debate since it was impossible for Dr. Kevin to respond to every point that was raised in the time available to him.

Dr. Darnowski dismissed the Paluxy evidence for dinosaur and human co-existence, clearly without having examined the evidence for himself.  He suggested that the tracks were carved, but that claim has been thoroughly debunked, as explained by Ademar Rakowsky in the article at this link.  The best proof that the tracks were not carved is the C-scan that was done of the Delk print which proves that the tracks were made naturally and were not carved.  The material beneath the tracks was shown to be compressed--which would not have been the case if the tracks had been carved.

CT-Scan of Alvis Delk Print

An objection was raised to the literal historical interpretation of Genesis One on the grounds that the text states that the sun was not created until the fourth day of the Hexameron, rendering it impossible to have 24-hour days without the sun.  The Fathers, like St. John Chrysostom, taught that God revealed that He created the sun on the fourth day so that those who remembered the revelation that was handed down from St. Adam would always know that the Sun is not the source of life.  All Catholics used to be taught this.  For example, the Little Flower, St. Therese of Lisieux, the one that St. Pius X called "the greatest saint of modern times," in her catechism was taught the following Q and A:

Q. Why were the sun, moon and stars not created until the fourth day?

A. They were not created until the fourth day, in order to teach man that they are not the authors of the productions of the earth. God wished thereby to prevent idolatry.

Q. What further do you remark with respect to the sun?

A. I remark that the sun rises and sets every day, runs his course with great velocity, illumines and vivifies all nature. It is in this an image of Christ, who, having gone forth from the bosom of His Father, returned to heaven, after having enlightened all men by His doctrine, and sanctified them by His merits and example.

St. Therese of Lisieux, “the Little Flower,” as a Young Girl

It is important to point out the wisdom of God in doing things this way because all over the world people who lost the memory of God's Creation Revelation began to worship the sun as a god--and even to offer human sacrifice to the sun, as the Aztecs did in Mexico until the arrival of Cortes and the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Other commentators have pointed out that the text of Genesis One teaches that the sun was created to “rule the day,” which would be impossible if the “day” did not exist before the sun.

Dr. Darnowski asserted several times that Catholics who adhere to the doctrine of special creation are succumbing to "fear.”  However, the reality is that the Catholic faith on the foundation of the true Catholic doctrine of creation offers the best antidote to fear and the ideal framework within which to maintain complete trust in our all-wise, all-loving, all-powerful Creator.  Theistic evolution, on the other hand, instills fear that God and His Church are not infallible and not trustworthy, and that fallible human science must give its stamp of approval to Catholic doctrines before they can be accepted.

Dr. Darnowski referred repeatedly to the Dominicans, as exemplars of orthodox preaching and teaching who promote theistic evolution using the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.  It is important to point out that anyone who studies the history of the founding of the Dominican Order will discover that the Kolbe Center is defending the doctrine of creation that St. Dominic himself founded the Dominican Order to defend!  (See the article at this link for more information.) The Albigensian heretics denied that God specially created the different kinds of corporeal creatures and the human body. Instead, they held that God created a few kinds of matter in the beginning and satan formed the matter into the different kinds of bodies. This view led to a denigration of Holy Marriage and all kinds of immoral behavior. St. Dominic founded the Dominic Order initially to combat these errors and to defend the traditional doctrine of special creation that the Kolbe Center is defending today.  Ironically, the Thomistic evolutionists agree with the Albigensians in denying the special creation of all of the different kinds of corporeal creatures.  Thank God, there are still a few Dominican theologians, like Fr. Thomas Crean, who continue to uphold the true spirit and doctrine of St. Dominic.  May their tribe increase!

The miracle of the trial by fire of the books of the Catharist heretics and of St. Dominic.

Dr. Darnowski identified so-called Evo-Devo as a mechanism for macro-evolution.  However, as David White explains in an excellent article on the CMI website:

Hox genes are developmental genes that guide overall body architecture. A single mutation in a Hox gene can dramatically change an organism. For instance, consider the mutant fruit fly that has legs in the place of its antennae! Although this condition obviously disadvantages the fly, these types of changes have excited many evolutionists, because they think they might provide clues as to how radical new body designs could evolve.

As more developmental genes have been discovered, a whole new field of inquiry has “sprouted” that attempts to merge developmental and evolutionary biology. The result is Evolutionary Developmental Biology (“Evo Devo”). The basic principle driving Evo Devo is that if embryonic development is “re-programmed”, “improbable” structures like limbs, wings and new body designs might arise.

Hox genes are part of a broader group of developmental genes that have many varied roles. Some of them mark out the geography of the embryo’s body. Others play key roles in the development of structures like limbs, eyes and hearts. But the most astonishing thing about Hox and other developmental genes is that they are shared across the animal kingdom. Organisms as diverse as leeches and lawyers are “built” using the same developmental genes! This discovery has come as such a shock that one of the world’s most eminent biologists, Sean Carroll3, confessed: “no biologist had even the foggiest notion that such similarities could exist between genes of such different animals.”

But why are evolutionists so surprised? Well, it’s simply because creatures that supposedly diverged millions of years ago shouldn’t share the startling similarity in developmental genes that they do. For example, evolutionists allege that humans once shared a common ancestor with fruit flies. However, since we diverged so long ago, any similar genes we shared should’ve been scrambled beyond recognition by almost countless generations of mutations. This is why Ernst Mayr, a man once described as “the world’s greatest living evolutionary biologist” stated, “the search for homologous [similar] genes is quite futile except in very close relatives”.5 But this is wrong. Not only do we share similar developmental genes with fruit flies, but also with almost every other creature on the planet!

So how has this changed the way scientists view evolution? Well, since very different animals are made using similar genes, Evo Devo proponents contend that the driving force of evolution is not changes in (protein coding) genes, but changes in regulatory DNA (genetic switches) that control the genes.6 In other words, “ … the evolution of form is not so much about what genes you have, but about how you use them.”7 Yet this contradicts what neo-Darwinists have long told us—“According to the modern theory (called neo-Darwinism), changes occur in organisms by mutations of genes8 [emphasis mine].

Many of the shared developmental genes are part of genetic switches that regulate other genes.9 During embryonic development these genetic switches initiate the cascade of gene expression that builds various structures. For example, the Pax-6 developmental gene is part of a genetic switch that induces eye development. When Pax-6 from a mouse was inserted into a fruit fly’s genome, fruit fly eye structures were formed. The mouse gene was so similar to its fly equivalent (even though these creatures supposedly diverged over 500 million years ago) that it induced the fly program for eye development! Likewise, the Distal-less gene forms part of a master switch for limb development and the Tinman gene (named after Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz) is part of a master switch for heart development. So embryonic development involves a vast array of master genetic switches that turn on the right program in the right place.

A Fruit Fly

Since changes in genetic switches are now being hailed as the key to evolution, Evo Devo proponents have been keen to highlight adaptations caused by such changes. Probably the most cited example involves stickleback fish. Normally, these fish have long spines projecting from their body. On the lake bottom, these are a disadvantage because dragonfly larvae latch onto them. However, some varieties have adapted to their environment. Due to a mutated genetic switch, they don’t develop pelvic spines, so they are much better at evading the grasp of predators. However, these sorts of changes are really devolution, not evolution, because a genetic switch has been corrupted, preventing the expression of a key spine-building gene (Pitx1) in the pelvic region. This showcase example of “evolution via genetic switches” hasn’t inspired prominent evolutionists like Jerry Coyne (University of Chicago), either: “these examples represent the loss of traits, rather than the origin of evolutionary novelties.”

Another fatal flaw in the Evo Devo hypothesis is the reality that mutations in genetic switches during embryonic development tend to result in death or deformity.  Indeed, the fundamental problem that Evo-Devo must—but cannot—overcome to provide a viable mechanism for macro-evolutionary changes is that empirical science is based on observation and experiment, yet no one has ever observed a single example of a truly “new” function arising through material processes in nature or in the laboratory.   In a recent newsletter, our chief biologist Pamela Acker analyzed one of the “best” examples of an allegedly “new” function arising through genetic mutation—an example cited by Catholic theistic evolutionist Dr. Kenneth Miller, among others.  She showed that, like Lenski’s celebrated e. coli mutations, the mutations initiated by evolutionary biologist Barry Hall did not actually evolve anything new.  The mutations merely de-regulated an existing function to the overall detriment of the organism.  As Pamela Acker explained:

Briefly, Hall "knocked out" the ability of E. coli to metabolize lactose by deleting the lacZ gene.  This gene codes for a protein called beta-galactosidase, which breaks lactose down into the simple sugars glucose and galactose.  (The term beta-galactosidase is also used generally to refer to any enzyme that can break down a disaccharide that includes the sugar galactose.)  When Hall plated these knockout bacteria on lactose medium, within a few days a colony of bacteria arose that was able to metabolize lactose - despite still not having a functional lacZ gene.  So they regained a function that they had lost, but in this case it was not from the restoration of the lacZ gene, but from a different gene altogether, named ebg.  This gene produced a protein in the mutated bacteria which has the designation ebgA, and was able to catalyze enough lactose to keep the bacteria alive on the growth medium.

This function, however, is by no means new for the gene and protein in question.  The original unmutated ebg protein, designated ebgO, was found to have catalytic activity on lactose when it was purified from the bacterial cells - in other words, the enzyme possessed a pre-existing ability to metabolize lactose (and also several other related sugars) and was ALREADY a beta-galactosidase.  Its ability to break down lactose was just insufficient in the un-mutated gene to keep the bacteria alive; the point mutation that resulted in the "new function" only allowed the enzyme to bind more efficiently to that particular sugar.  Even that efficiency was compromised, however, as the mutants grew 6-21 times slower than the wild type bacteria that produced normal beta-galactosidase.

In conclusion, as one reflects on the debate, it becomes apparent that the fundamental difference between the positions of Dr. Mark and Dr. Darnowski lies in the different frameworks within which they interpret the evidence.  Like all of the members of the Kolbe Center’s advisory council, and like all of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church before them, Dr. Mark takes God at His Word in the sacred history of Genesis and accepts that the entire work of creation was supernatural and that the natural order that we are living in—what some Doctors call the “order of providence” did not begin until the entire work of creation was finished.  Working within this framework, it is apparent that one cannot reasonably extrapolate from observations in the present order of nature all the way back to the beginning of the universe to explain how everything came to be.

On the other hand, the irrefutable reality of miracles—which Dr. Darnowski himself acknowledged in his reference to the Holy Shroud of Turin—proves that God who created all things supernaturally in the beginning is perfectly capable of acting miraculously in the present order of providence.  From that perspective, it is just as unreasonable to seek a naturalistic explanation for the origins of man and the universe and all of the different kinds of creatures as it would be to seek a naturalistic explanation for the miracle at the Wedding of Cana.  In both cases, the only way that anyone can know the true age and origin of the universe at the time of its supernatural creation or of the miraculous wine at the time of its miraculous production, is from the testimony of the truthful witnesses appointed by God, as the Holy Catholic Church has understood their testimony from the beginning.

The Miracle at the Wedding of Cana

Please join me in praying that Our Lady will obtain for Dr. Darnowski and for all Catholic theistic evolutionists of good will the grace to abandon the false uniformitarian naturalistic framework of the Enlightenment philosophers and return to the traditional Creation-Providence Framework of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.

Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,

Hugh Owen

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