ORGAN OF THE ROMAN THEOLOGICAL FORUM
|Editor: Msgr. John F. McCarthy, J.C.D., S.T.D.||Distributed several times a year to interested members.|
|Associate Editor: Rev. Brian W. Harrison, O.S., M.A., S.T.D.||Not to be republished without permission.|
|Please address all correspondence to:||www.rtforum.org e-mail: email@example.com|
Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, P.O. Box 13230, St. Louis, MO 63157, USA
|No. 100||Roman Theological Forum | Article Index | Study Program||July 2002|
THE MYTH OF EVOLUTION
Anyone who has lived through the crises and controversies of the last half of the twentieth century will be able to recall numerous instances where two opposing groups made claims which directly contradicted each other. While both sides could not be correct, the impartial observer often found it difficult to determine which of the opposing claims was closer to the truth. And that difficulty still persists today in the controversy between creationists and evolutionists.
The mass media frequently publicized claims that evolution has been scientifically proven beyond any reasonable doubt. And hundreds of books make this same claim. Yet creationists insist that there is not one piece of genuine scientific evidence that evolution has occurred or can occur. To complicate matters further, evolutionists frequently disagree among themselves, as do creationists. As a result, it is quite common to find creationists quoting evolutionist scientists to support their own arguments. In fact, creationists have published a number of books which rely almost entirely on quotations from evolutionists. The title of That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Henry M. Morris, Institute for Creation Research, 1997, 487 pp.) explains its purpose. The scholarly, two volume, The Origin of Species Revisited (W. R. Bird, Philosophical Library, 1989, 1114 pp.), bases its scientific case almost entirely on statements and writings of evolutionists. And Darwin's Enigma (Luther D. Sunderland, Master Books, 1988, 180 pp.) is based largely upon interviews with five well-known paleontologists. While these quotations certainly do not disprove evolution, they demonstrate that many of the claims that have been made by propagandists for evolution have been challenged by other reputable scientists.
Because such a confused state of affairs makes it difficult for the average person to form a sound judgment, it may help to examine some selected excerpts from the voluminous material published on topic. To help us place this material in its proper intellectual context, however, we will begin with a visit to the mythical kingdom of Darwinia, where we will eavesdrop on a conversation between two of its citizens.
Evolutionist Al: Hi Bob! I was wondering ... what is the easiest way to prove evolution?
Evolutionist Bob: That's easy. Just define it to be something that everyone knows is true.
Al: But how do you do that?
Bob: Here, let me show you how they do it in the United States, Their famous reference work, The Encyclopedia Americana (International Edition, 1969) defines it this way: "Evolution is any series of changes in which the nature of each step depends on what has preceded." (Vol. 10, page 609).
Al: But that definition could apply to an artist working on a sculpture, a general moving his forces in a battle, or even a building under construction.
Bob: Of course! That's why we can insist that "evolution is a fact."
Al: What about something more scientific?
Bob: Fine ... Here's one from the U-X-L- Encyclopedia Of Science (1998):
"The term evolution in general refers to the process of change. For example ... the way in which a section of land evolves over time ... as the result of forces such as earthquakes, volcanoes, land movements, rain, snow, wind, and other factors." (page 854)
Al: That sounds more scientific; but what about living things?
Bob: O.K. Let's look at The New Encyclopedia Britannica (15th edition, 1988) for their explanation ...
"Evolution may be defined as change in the genetic composition of a population through time." (Vol. 18, page 939)
Al: People can see that, can't they?
Bob: Of course they can. And the Americana emphasizes that even more clearly. Under the "Evidences of Evolution" they tell us; "5. A certain amount of change (differences between parent and offspring) can be observed at the present time." Everyone knows he's different from his parents, so how can anyone challenge the fact that evolution has taken place?
That conversation may have been imaginary, but the quotations cited were not. And they demonstrate both the cleverness and the dishonesty of the intellectual monster we call "evolutionism." "Evolution" is first defined to mean nothing more than "change", - something which is clearly visible in the world around us. Then, employing the fallacy of equivocation, the same term is applied to a totally different concept – the supposed evolution of all animal species from earlier and different species, and ultimately from one common ancestor.
Having seen how evolutionists manipulate the meaning of words, we can go one step further and see how they manipulate scientific findings. Both the Americana and the Britannica list five types of "Evidences for Evolution." As would be expected, the ‘fossil record’ appears on both lists. After all, if evolution did take place in the past, the only reliable evidence of it would be a succession of fossils which showed a gradual change from one species to another, from the earliest organisms up to the primates. Darwin was convinced that future research would produce such a succession of fossils; a century and a half of digging has failed to justify his expectations.
The Americana claim is fairly cautious. "4. Fossils belonging to successive geological periods were different, yet enough alike to imply kinship." Note the admission that the supposed kinship is only "implied." Other books make far more extravagant and unjustified claims. But does the evidence support these claims? Unfortunately the situation is complicated by the controversy involved. A number of famous evolutionists, including Gould and Eldridge, when speaking to other scientists, admitted that the fossil record does not support gradual evolution. But when their statements were used by creationists as an argument against evolution, they reversed themselves and claimed there were many transitional fossils. Obviously, when scientific evidence is "adjusted" to aid one side in a controversy, - in this case the campaign against creationism – we are no longer dealing with science but propaganda. Several creationist books deal with this question in some detail, including Evolution: The Fossils Say No! (Duane T. Gish, Creation-Life Publishers, 1978, 189 pp.), and Evolution: The Challenge Of The Fossil Record (Duane T. Gish, Creation-Life Publishers, 1985, 277 pp.). The supposed human fossils are considered in Bones of Contention (Marvin L. Lubenow, Baker Book House, 1992, 295 pp.). On the entire controversy, with its claims and denials, see Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics: "history and the record fails to contain a single example of a significant transition." (D. S. Woodruff , Institute for Creation Research, 1993, 451 pp.).
Certainly one of the most disputed claims is that of the fossil record supposedly showing the evolution of the horse. A quarter century ago, in an interview, Dr. Niles Eldridge referred to "the exhibit on horse evolution prepared 50 years ago. That has been presented as literal truth in textbook after textbook. I think that is lamentable." But the Britannica devotes half a column, with diagrams, to this "lamentable" claim (page 986).
Perhaps it would be appropriate to close this very brief discussion of the fossil record with a few more quotations ...
Ronald West: "Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution."
D. S. Woodruff : "fossil species remain unchanged throughout most of their history and the record fails to contain a single example of a significant transition."
Niles Eldridge: "paleontologists have been insisting that their record is consistent with slow, steady, gradual evolution where I think that privately they’ve known for over a hundred years that such is not the case."
Steven M. Stanley : "Once established, an average species of animal or plant will not change ... (to) a new species, even after surviving for something like a hundred thousand, or a million, or even ten million generations."
Surprisingly, although many Catholic evolutionists are aware of the lack of fossil evidence, they nevertheless accept evolution rather than direct creation. A priest–anthropologist, interviewed by Inside the Vatican, admitted that "there seem to be no intermediate forms ...", but then stated "I favor the idea of evolution". Another noted priest-scientist, asked why he believed in evolution, replied "For metaphysical reasons." And an American who writes frequently about evolution for Catholic journals, concedes that "the fossil record shows ... species appear suddenly in a fully developed state," but finds evolution preferable to creationism. As a result, there is a strange parallel between the thinking of the atheistic and theistic evolutionists. The atheist evolutionist disregards the lack of fossil evidence because he rejects the idea of a Creator. The Catholic evolutionist ignores the lack of fossil evidence because he rejects direct action by the Creator. Both rely upon personal preference rather than scientific data. To some extent, this attitude is also reflected in the next example of "Evidences for evolution."
What the Britannica describes as "structural similarities", is presented in the Americana in these words: "Anatomical and other likenesses between groups of organisms could be explained as a heritage from a common ancestor." Yes, but they could also be explained as part of the plan of an all-wise Creator. Merely because something "could be explained" in a particular way, does not mean that such an explanation is true. There is a world of difference between genuine scientific evidence and merely asserting that something "could be" true. This is not a case of scientific reasoning, but one of ‘personal preference’.
Similarly flawed reasoning can be seen in "evidence" number one given in the Americana. "The classification of organisms as a branching system which would result from evolution, but not from totally independent origins of species." Note that this "classification" is done by evolutionist scientists, and therefore inevitably involves an obvious use of the fallacy of circular reasoning. First, the scientists assume evolution is true and that all organisms evolved from earlier ones in a branching pattern as suggested by Darwin. (See: Icons of Evolution (Jonathan Wells, Regnery Publishing, 2002, 338 pp.). Second, they arrange all organisms into a branching system so as to reflect an evolutionary relationship. Finally, when the diagram of branching relationships is completed, they use it to prove that evolution is true. Of course, the diagram of the branching pattern is their own creation, and based on the assumption that Darwin's idea was correct. But when such diagrams appear in books, readers are led to assume that these relationships have been proven scientifically. Needless to say, they have not.
An even more glaring example of misleading propaganda parading as science, occurs in the Britannica's third "evidence" for evolution: "Embryonic development and vestiges." To place this in its proper context we have to look back at Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), described in the 14th Edition of the Britannica as "very typical of the school of extreme evolutionist thought." Relying upon a source sympathetic to evolution, we read: "Haeckel is remembered primarily for his development of the now discarded biogenetic law. This states that the developmental history of an organism recapitulates its evolutionary history ... As a matter of fact, the idea had been pretty well disproven before Haeckel encountered it" (Americana). The story of how Haeckel faked his drawings and how his ideas have been discredited, is told in many books, including Icons Of Evolution (Jonathan Wells, Regnery, 2000, 338 pp.), The Neck of the Giraffe (Francis Hitching, Mentor Books, 1982, 258 pp.) and The Case against Evolution (George B. O'Toole, Macmillan, 1925, 377 pp). Despite the fact that Haeckel's ideas were discredited a century ago, the Britannica devotes nearly half a page to them, attributing them to "Darwin and his followers", thus avoiding identifying their true source. According to the Britannica
Needless to say, human embryos do not have gill slits but pharyngeal pouches which serve as guides for developing blood vessels. Additional information on this discredited claim for evolution can be found in The Theory of Evolution Judged by Reason and Faith (Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini, Joseph F. Wagner Pub., 1959, 205 pp.), In the Beginning (Walt Brown, Center for Scientific Creation, 7th ed. 2001, 328 pp.) and Refuting Evolution (Jonathan Sarfati, Master Books, 1999, 144 pp.).
Sir Gavin deBeer has been quoted as saying: "Seldom has an assertion like that of Haeckel's theory ... done so much harm to science." Yet this theory continues to be used – a century later – in the Britannica as an "evidence" of evolution. One can reasonably ask: Is the evidence for evolution so weak, that discredited and logically flawed arguments must be used? That the answer is a definite "Yes!" is suggested by another famous "evidence" for evolution: the peppered moth in England.
To illustrate Darwin's "natural selection," the Britannica uses two photos, one showing a light-colored moth and a dark-colored moth against a light background, and then against a dark background. Similar photos and explanations appear in hundreds of textbooks and books arguing for evolution. In Biological Science (William T. Keeton, W.W. Norton, 2d ed., 1972, 888 pp.) for example, similar photos of moths on tree trunks are accompanied by a one-and-a-half page explanation. The students are told: "The various species of moths ... habitually rest during the day in an exposed position on tree trunks or rocks." Supposedly the birds eat the ones that are most easily seen, demonstrating "natural selection" in action. And, since "natural selection" is at the heart of Darwin's theory, the students are led to conclude that this is an illustration of evolution taking place within the moth population in England. For years, creationists have dismissed this "evidence," noting that, regardless of whether the moths are light or dark, they are still moths, and no real evolution has taken place. Several scientists questioned the "moth story," but were disregarded. Now, however, careful studies have disclosed a number of important facts. (1) These moths do not rest "during the day in exposed positions on tree trunks or rocks." They rest in hidden spots on the underside of leaves, twigs, etc. As night fliers, they hide in dark secluded spots. (2) No more than 1% of these moths are eaten by birds. (3) The photos in the books were all "staged," often with dead moths glued to tree trunks. The tale has now been told in Of Moths and Men (Judith Hopper, Norton, 377 pp.). A number of British scientists have suggested that the "moth story" be dropped from books. But since standard reference works like the Britannica are still using Haeckel's theory after a century, the story of the peppered moth will probably still be in books on evolution in the year 2100.
Before considering other "dubious" evidence for evolution, it is important to note the difference between two very different uses of the term "evolution." The changes within various species which can sometimes be seen are examples of microevolution (also called "phenetic" or "anagenesis" evolution). The supposed changes from one species to another, which have never been observed, are called macroevolution (or phyletic evolution). Both creationists and evolutionists recognize that small changes (microevolution) do occur due to natural causes. The average American, for example, is taller, heavier, and longer-living than a century ago, due to improved diet, medical care, etc. But he is still a human being. But many evolutionists take these visible examples of microevolution and use them as "proof" that macroevolution is possible. For example, in the U-X-L Encyclopedia of Science, we read: "evolution can actually be observed ... Lederberg exposed bacterial colonies to an antibiotic ... (and) only a few survived. As the colony reproduced ... the antibiotic was no longer successful in killing off the new strain of bacteria that had evolved." Actually, no new strain of bacteria "evolved" at all. The few bacteria which were originally resistant to the antibiotic survived, reproduced freely, and rapidly increased in number. Once these antibiotic-resistant bacteria were the only ones left ... the antibiotic no longer had any effect at all. The survival of this tiny original group of drug-resistant bacteria was an example of "natural selection," but not of evolution.
Similarly misleading examples appear in The World Book Encyclopedia (2002): "Direct observation of evolution is commonplace ... Scientists have also directly observed speciation in the laboratory. Researchers found that ... the anomalous sunflower ... evolved from hybrids of two other species." The caption on the three accompanying photographs is more cautious: "The anomalous sunflower probably developed from a cross of the common sunflower ... and the prairie sunflower" (Emphasis added). When something only "probably developed," you can be sure it was not "directly observed." And even if it were observed, this would be nothing more than an example of the cross-breeding which horticulturists and animal breeders have practiced for centuries. It would be an illustration of microevolution, not of macroevolution.
The crucial difference between microevolution and macroevolution is reflected in this quotation from a report by Roger Lewin (Science, Nov. 21, 1980). Describing a conference held in Chicago in 1980, he wrote: "An historic conference ... under the simple conference title: Macroevolution. The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting the answer can be given as a clear No." A world-famous expert on evolution reports that the consensus of other experts is that microevolution is not "evidence" for macroevolution; but the encyclopedias and textbooks tell us the opposite.
A comparable example of evolutionists’ "inventing" evidence for evolution is "biogeography" or "geographic distribution of species." The World Book Encyclopedia claims that this "provides important evidence for the theory of evolution." But let us see what this supposed "evidence" actually consists of. "Certain island groups ... have never been connected to continents ... The species found on oceanic islands are those that can travel easily ... insects, bats, birds. ... The Galapagos Islands have no native amphibians or land mammals. These animals cannot easily migrate from continents to islands. Species on oceanic islands are most similar to those on the nearest continental mainland. ... This suggests that the first species to inhabit the Galapagos Islands came from South America rather than originating on the islands."
Now this may be 100% accurate; but it has absolutely nothing to do with evolution! And it is certainly not a proof that evolution has taken place. It merely recognizes the obvious: that certain creatures were able to reach particular islands, while others were not. And those "immigrant" species which reached various islands may have changed slightly (microevolution) to adapt to the environment – just as the Eskimo and the native of New Guinea have adapted to very different climes. The famous finches on the Galapagos Islands are still finches, not bluebirds or parrots.
The Britannica employs equally invalid arguments. "The absence of many species from hospitable environments (e.g., pigs and goats from Hawaii, lions and giraffes from South America) can be explained by the theory of evolution." It is almost ludicrous to cite the absence of pigs from Hawaii and giraffes from South America as a proof for evolution. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder", as the old saying goes, but the absence of pigs and giraffes does not prove evolution.
But what about "presence"? The Britannica tells us: "There are also in Hawaii more than 1,000 species of snails and other kinds of mollusks that exist nowhere else. This unusual diversity is easily explained by evolution". In other words, anything we find in nature, absence, presence, similarities, differences - they are all claimed to be evidence of evolution. The absence of a species or its presence and diversity, tell us absolutely nothing about the origin of the first snails or giraffes. And that's what the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists is all about.
Of course, as the old "evidences" for evolution are discredited (e.g. Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, etc.), new ones are suggested or invented. One of the most recent – and most effective – is number five on the Britannica's list: molecular biology. This is still a relatively new field and new discoveries are likely for some time. But the pattern has already become clear: the evolutionists find some selective data which they present as evidence that all creatures have a common ancestor. At the same time, they ignore other data which contradict their assumption. Creationists study the same data and conclude that they show that evolution has not occurred. See, for example: Of Pandas and People (Davis & Kenyon, Haughton Pub, Co., 1989, 165 pp.). Even an evolutionist has concluded that the arguments from molecular biology are invalid: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Michael Denton, Adler & Adler, 1986, 368 pp.). But the Britannica devotes the greater part of a page to the claim that: "molecular evolution has shown all living organisms, from bacteria to humans, to be related by descent from common ancestors."
First note the term "molecular evolution." This is certainly not a branch of science; nor do molecules evolve. "Molecular evolution" is a myth invented by evolutionists, based upon fallacious reasoning. Consider the argument presented by the Britannica, which I will summarize for the sake of brevity. Suppose we compare two books and find that they are virtually identical, with only one word out of every hundred being different. We would conclude that either one was copied from the other, or that both were copied from the same original. But the DNA of higher organisms is very similar; so this "gives unmistakable evidence of common origin." But now consider the reasoning involved ...
If two books are virtually identical – except for what may be copying errors – they point to a common author; the same author was responsible for both books. Similarly, the similarity in the DNA of two creatures points to a common author: the all-wise and all-powerful Creator of the universe. DNA is a form of information, and information can originate only from an intelligent being, in this case the Divine Intelligence. After all, a normal reader will assume that both books were "created" by the same author, -- not that they "evolved" from some earlier poem or short story by "natural selection."
Noting that the DNA of all living things consists of the same four nucleotides and sequences of the same 20 amino acids, the Britannica concludes that this genetic code "cannot be of independent origin". But that is precisely the argument of creationists! The genetic code of living things did not evolve through billions of "independent" mutations over millions of years (as evolutionists claim), but had its "common origin" in the Creator.
The irrationality of the Britannica argument is revealed clearly in the further statement that "this unity (of genetic code) reveals the ... common ancestry of all organisms. There is no other RATIONAL way to account for their molecular uniformity when numerous alternative structures are equally likely" (emphasis added). Presumably the existence of a Creator is not considered "rational" by the Britannica. And, having ruled out the Creator, the only remaining explanation they have is: evolution. Thus we are not dealing with scientific evidence, but philosophical and atheistic reasoning. An observation by another evolutionist seems apropos of that Britannica statement: "What we call rational thinking may just be a highly sophisticated and powerful method of self-delusion." (Rob Wipond).