As we head into the new year and the impending Darwin bi-centennial on February 12th, we’re sure to be regaled with story after story of the wondrous things that Darwinian evolution hath wrought. A friend e-mailed the following to me, and with his permission, I reproduce it here below the fold. Perhaps pondering some of these questions might bring some balance to what is otherwise sure to be a lopsided Darwin love-fest for the next couple of months. The original of this can be found at the University of California Santa Barbara Veritas Forum website
1. Evolution by natural selection is more plausible in a theistic world than an atheistic world.
Evolution in a theistic world is possible if God pre-programmed the universe and infused Nature with information (the ultimate fine-tuning argument).
Evolution in an atheistic world is absurd. It’s “random turtles all the way down” – all the way down to the random origin of Nature itself and its ability to naturally select anything. A filter (e.g. natural selection) which was formed by chance and selects random events may best be described as garbage in – garbage out. It doesn’t describe the universe we find ourselves in, hasn’t got a chance of surviving the rigors of scientific and skeptical inquiry, cannot sustain scientific reasoning, and would certainly never have inspired science in the first place. It is simply unfit for rational thought and must naturally be selected against. Constantly evoking a god-of-chance is neither scientific nor rational.
2. Darwin never accounted for the arrival of the fittest. Naturalism’s god-of-chance is always called upon to do the job.
“Directed by all-powerful selection, chance becomes a sort of providence, which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped.”
Grasse, Pierre-Paul (1977), p. 177
Evolution of Living Organisms
Academic Press, New York, N.Y.
Pierre-Paul Grasse is the past President of the French Academie des Sciences and editor of the 35 volume “Traite de Zoologie” published by Masson, Paris.
3. Science rules out the possibility that natural processes might prevent major evolutionary change simply by definition because biological stability and conservation would imply that creation events had taken place since the creation of the universe.
If no data is required to eliminate real possibilities, why do we call this science? It clearly isn’t. Given that the origin of Nature itself constitued a singularity (or natural discontinuity), it is certainly possible that other natural discontinuties exist in the history of life (e.g. the origin of life itself). The goal of science ought to be to most accurately describe how nature functions, even if so doing would discover natural processes that prevented spontaneous generation (abiogenesis) or inhibited major evolutionary change (macrostasis).
4. Creation preceded Evolution anyway.
Evolution points back to a beginning – initially to the origin of the first species and then back to the origin of everything else including space and time. Nature is finite in time and space (whether referring to our universe or a potential multiverse) and obviously required a Law Giver.
“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” – Sir Fred Hoyle
“For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” – Robert Jastrow, “God and the Astronomers”
5. Edward Blyth described the process of natural selection well before Darwin and Wallace. He concluded that it acted as a force of conservation eliminating deterimental variations from populations.
A Theory of Conservation based upon Blythian selection would better describe how nature actually functions than Darwin’s interpretation of natural selection.
Edward Blyth wrote three articles on variation, describing the process of natural selection as restoring organisms in the wild to their archetype (rather than forming new species). These articles were published in The Magazine of Natural History between 1835 and 1837. There can be no doubt of Darwin’s regard for Edward Blyth: in the first chapter of The Origin of Species he writes “…Mr Blyth, whose opinion, from his large and varied stores of knowledge, I should value more than that of almost any one…”
Loren Eiseley claimed that “the leading tenets of Darwin’s work – the struggle for existence, variation, natural selection and sexual selection – are all fully expressed in Blyth’s paper of 1835”. He also cites a number of rare words, similarities of phrasing, and the use of similar examples, which he regards as evidence of Darwin’s debt to Blyth.
Ernst Mayr objected to this interpretation by stating, “Blyth’s theory was clearly one of elimination rather than selection. His principal concern is the maintenance of the perfection of the type. Blyth’s thinking is decidedly that of a natural theologian…” (Mayr E. 1984, The Growth of Biological Thought.)
“What was the work of Blyth?… Blyth attempts to show how [selection and the struggle for existence] can be used to explain, not the change of species (which he was anxious to discredit) but the stability of species in which he ardently believed.” (Darlington C.D., 1959, Darwin’s Place in History)
But Mayr’s onjection fails because natural selection cannot select anything that doesn’t already exist. All it can do is eliminate the “unfit.” However one wishes to describe the “fit” and “unfit,” natural selection clearly cannot account for the arrival of the fittest and the change in species in which Mayr ardently believed.
6. Darwin admitted that based upon the data published in his Origin of Species, one could come to “directly opposite” conclusions. For example, natural selection can prevent major evolutionary change from occurring on a gradual step-by-step basis by eliminating useless transitional stages thus explaining the lack of transitional sequences leading to all of the major body plans (phyla) in the fossil record.
“I am well aware that there is scarcely a single point discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts on both sides of each question, and this cannot possibly be done here.”
The Origin of Species
7. Natural selection better describes biology’s “ordinary rules of stability” than major evolutionary change.
“To know the reasons for infrequent change, one must understand the ordinary rules of stability. The Burgess Shale teaches us that, for the history of basic anatomical designs, almost everything happened in the geological moment just before, and almost nothing in more than 500 million years since.”
Gould, S. J. (1988),
A Web of Tales”
Natural History, October, pp. 16-23
8. Darwinian theory predicts a pervasive pattern of natural history that is upside-down from the pattern found in the fossil record.
Darwin’s theory predicts that as species diversity can ultimately be extrapolated to account for the disparity (major differences) among the higher taxa (e.g. phyla). New species should cluster to initially form new genera. As more and more species evolve their morphological differences should accumulate to justify classifying them into new families. As more and more species diversify, new classes and orders should appear filling out morphological space. Ultimately the disparity of the phyla would be produced. Species diversity should precede disparity of the major body plans.
The only problem with this major prediction of Darwin’s theory is that it is exacty backwards: the disparity of the higher taxa preceded species diversity (see Stephen Jay Gould’s discussion in Wonderful Life on the iconography of the cone).
“The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, and orders before families. This is not to say that each higher taxon originated before species (each phylum, class, or order contained at least one species, genus, family, etc. upon appearance), but the higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa.”
Erwin, D., Valentine, J., and Sepkoski, J. (1988)
“A Comparative Study of Diversification Events”
Evolution, vol. 41, p. 1183
Described recently as “the most important evolutionary event during the entire history of the Metazoa,” the Cambrian explosion established virtually all the major animal body forms — Bauplane or phyla — that would exist thereafter, including many that were ‘weeded out’ and became extinct. Compared with the 30 or so extant phyla, some people estimate that the Cambrian explosion may have generated as many as 100. The evolutionary innovation of the Precambrian/Cambrian boundary had clearly been extremely broad: “unprecedented and unsurpassed,” as James Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently put it.
Lewin then asked the all important question:
“Why, in subsequent periods of great evolutionary activity when countless species, genera, and families arose, have there been no new animal body plans produced, no new phyla?”
Lewin, R. (1988)
Science, vol. 241, 15 July, p. 29
9. Natural history is more compatible with progressive creation than Darwinian evolution.
Given that all of major groups of life appear suddenly in the fossil record and the “ordinary rules of stability” act in such a way as to inhibit major evolutionary change, it is rational to conclude that they were the result of progressive creation – the progression of variations in time on a common pre-existing theme. If the major themes were the result of direct (primary rather than secondary) acts of creation, scientists would be able to discover natural discontinuties beyond the origin of the universe and the irreducible complexity of life. While we would no longer have an adequate materialistic creation story (not that we have one now), we would undoubtedly have a more accurate description of nature and how it actually functions.
10. The ultimate origin of Nature itself cannot be natural. Either Nature or a Natural Law Giver has always existed. Nature has not always existed. What do you conclude?
When scientists tell you that the origin of everything natural must be explained purely in terms of natural processes, we need to remind them that no natural processes existed before Nature came into existence. We hold this truth to be self-evident, don’t we?
Creation preceded evolution.