In an Encyclopaedia Britannica Online article concerning the theory of evolution, evolutionary biologist and philosopher Francisco Jose Ayala writes,
“The evolutionary origin of organisms is today a scientific conclusion established with the kind of certainty attributable to such scientific concepts as the roundness [sphericity] of Earth, the motions of the planets [orbiting the sun], and the molecular composition of matter.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory/The-cultural-impact-of-evolutionary-theory)
Elsewhere he writes, “Molecular evolution has shown all living organisms, from bacteria to humans, to be related by descent from common ancestors.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory/Biogeography)
He adds, “Scientists can reconstruct any detail of the evolutionary history of life by investing sufficient time and laboratory resources.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory)
In other words, science claims that life on earth (a replicator) happened to emerge (once?) from inanimate matter, by chance, and all the diversity of life on earth descended from this (one?) universal common ancestor. This theory, science says, is cast in stone—like the sphericity of the earth.
Now, in my blog “God of the Gaps?,” I have shown that it is practically impossible for life (an error-free replicator) to emerge from inanimate matter by chance alone, but let us suppose, for the sake of argument in this article, that a living cell (a primitive universal common ancestor) somehow emerged on earth. There is no doubt there is life on earth, and life only comes from other living organisms; so, there must have been a first life, somehow.
The Bible (which Christians claim to be God’s revelation), on the other hand, says that God created (practically simultaneously) various sophisticated life forms—not just one primitive life form—as science claims. In the book of Genesis, we read that during the Creation, God created all vegetation (both plants and trees) on the third day, all kinds of animals that live in water and fly in the air on the fifth day, and all kinds of insects, land animals (both tame and wild), and humans on the sixth day. In this article, I shall practically disregard the detail that God, according to Genesis, created all life in four days since I have addressed this biblical claim in my blog “Science in the Bible.” I shall mainly confine myself to what the evidence says regarding evolution: namely, whether, from the scientific evidence we have, God seems to have created many life forms directly or just one primitive organism that eventually evolved into all the species we see on earth—as science claims.
So, the question this article tries to answer is whether, despite what scientists say, it seems possible or even probable, from a scientific point of view, for all the diversity of life on earth to have evolved from a single universal ancestor, or whether many life forms necessarily had to exist in the first place. I shall also limit my discussion to the animal kingdom, rather than to vegetation, since most people can relate better to differences in animals than to differences in plants or trees.
There is absolutely no doubt that living organisms change minutely, and perhaps over time, significantly through selective breeding, say. Humans have imposed selective (rather than random) mating to have cows that produce more milk, chickens that produce more eggs, horses that run faster, more exotic pigeons, and so forth. Moreover, animals are known to adapt to their environment or else die: for example, sheep in colder countries grow a thicker coat of wool to protect themselves from inclement weather. This kind of evolution is termed microevolution, or small-scale evolution. Charles Darwin, who first conceptualized the theory of evolution, also observed finches adapt their beaks to take advantage of the various kinds of food sources on the isolated Galapagos Islands (which are situated about 1,000 km west of Ecuador, South America.
There are also modern biological experiments that show such variation beyond the shadow of a doubt. For example, there is an ongoing bacteria experiment, led by evolutionary biologist Richard Lenski, which he started in February 1988. In this experiment, Lenski monitored twelve identical populations of Escherichia coli (E-coli) bacteria under ideal Darwinian evolutionary conditions: namely, daily cycles of bonanza followed by starvation. They all grew in size and improved their ability to assimilate food compared to common E-coli. Moreover, after about 31,000 generations, one of these groups developed the ability to assimilate citrate (C6H5O7-3) in the presence of oxygen: something bacteria were never observed to be capable of doing. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment)
However, the problem with microevolution is that bacteria remain bacteria, finches remain finches, sheep remain sheep, horses remain horses, and so on. It’s somewhat like painting the exterior or renewing the interior tapestry of a car: the structure and operation of the car is not affected by such modifications. The crucial question, therefore, is whether there is any evidence of large scale evolution—termed macroevolution; a living organism evolving into another species: from a pig to a monkey, say, or from a bacterium (whose cell has no nucleus—termed prokaryote) to an amoeba (whose cell has a nucleus—termed eukaryote). Interestingly, presently approaching 80,000 generations under ideal Darwinian conditions, Lekski’s bacteria have not changed their genome toward a higher life form—like a eukaryote or a small worm, say.
Darwin had two doubts about his theory of evolution through random mutation and natural selection (or survival of the fittest). His first doubt, which he did not publish in his books because he did not have enough evidence, was whether life could possibly have emerged from inanimate (non-living) matter—termed abiogenesis. In fact, in an 1871 letter to botanist and explorer Joseph Dalton Hooker, Darwin wrote,
“It is often said that all the conditions for the first production of a living organism are now present, which could ever have been present. But if (and oh! what a big if!) we could conceive in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, &c., present, that a proteine compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes, at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed.”
As a scientist, Darwin was aware that even if one observes a perfect straight-line relationship between two parameters, one cannot extrapolate that straight line backward or forward indefinitely: conditions change at its extremes. Darwin hoped that his theory (his baby) could be extended even further backward to abiogenesis, however, as I mentioned above, it is practically impossible for the first life to have evolved from inanimate matter. So, it seems to have been only wishful thinking or better a dream on Darwin’s part.
The crucial question in this article is whether the analogous straight-line relationship of microevolution could be extended to macroevolution, at least—as Darwin’s theory proposes. In fact, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
“It is reasonable to assume that the continuation of microevolutionary genetic changes over very long periods of time can give rise to new major taxonomic [classification] groups, the process of macroevolution.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/heredity-genetics/Random-genetic-drift, emphasis mine.)
Is this a fact, as science claims, or is it an assumption? What does the scientific evidence say?
The nature of the fossil record happens to be very discontinuous: the normal pattern observed is that species appear suddenly, thrive and adapt for a while, and then disappear. They are subsequently followed by other species, and the same pattern is repeated. In fact, that’s where the names for geologic periods came from: from the fossils the various deposited layers contained. Indeed, even according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
“The fossil forms that occur in the rocks … provide the chief means of establishing a geologic time scale, with the timing of the emergence and disappearance of widespread species from the fossil record being used to delineate the beginnings and endings of ages, epochs, periods, and other intervals.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/geologic-time, emphasis mine.)
To be able to tell when the “emergence and disappearance” of species took place, there cannot be too many intermediate forms: they would cloud the issue. Yet, Darwin himself, in his book The Origin of Species, writes,
“The number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great.” (p. 408)
Why? Because random mutation is erratic: it goes astray many times before it hits on a superior organism which takes over the lead. However, in reality, intermediate and transitional forms like the bat (a mammal with wings), the penguin (a bird with flippers), and the lungfish (which can also breathe in air) are extremely rare. Because of the randomness of biological mutation, according to Darwin himself, they should be the norm, not the exception. So, why isn’t it so in the fossil record? Because, I presume, the initial assumption (the “axiom”) is wrong: I propose that macroevolution is another Darwinian dream wish: he still extended the straight-line relationship he discovered in microevolution too far backward. Not to mention that the fossil record lacks that “down-up” quality, that is, from less sophisticated to more sophisticated organisms, which Darwinian evolution necessarily implies.
Darwin knew about this disconnection in the fossil record; so, how did he explain it? In his book, he replies, “The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.” (p. 406) Had evolutionary theory predicted that intermediate and transitional forms were the exception not the rule, I could see how Darwin would have come up with such an explanation; but when they should vastly outnumber the fixed species, I don’t see how his argument could hold any water: only if we had no fossil record at all, I would say.
As if this were not bad enough for the theory of evolution, it seems that God wanted to have a say: he wanted to show us clearly that he was the one who diversified life personally (the same way he did show us in creating the first life and the universe, as I have argued in my blog “God of the Gaps?”). This happened during what is commonly known as the Cambrian explosion, which is dated between around 540 million and 530 million years ago. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,
“The event was characterized by the appearance of many of the major phyla (between 20 and 35) that make up modern animal life.” https://www.britannica.com/science/Cambrian-explosion.
Darwin knew about this Cambrian explosion as well, and he argued,
“If the theory [of evolution] be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Cambrian stratum was deposited long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Cambrian age to the present day.” (p. 438)
In fact, he seriously doubted whether the earth was old enough for this to happen because of physicist William Thomson’s calculation of the earth’s age to be between 20 million and 400 million years from the time it takes a red-hot ball the size of the earth to cool down. (p. 438) Thomson was wrong, of course; there was ample time: some three billion years of life prior to the Cambrian explosion. Yet, there are no fossils corresponding to any of these phyla (i.e., body plans) in the Precambrian Period. Biologists try to explain away this unexpected phenomenon by arguing that organisms were too soft in the Precambrian. In its article on the “Cambrian Explosion” the Encyclopedia Britannica has,
“The beginning of the Cambrian Period is marked by the evolution of hard body parts such as calcium carbonate shells. These body parts fossilize more easily than soft tissues, and thus the fossil record becomes much more complete after their appearance. Many lineages of animals independently evolved hard parts at about the same time. The reasons for this are still debated.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/Cambrian-explosion, emphasis mine)
So, although so many animals evolved through independent paths, we still have no fossils, at all. Yet, in his encyclopedia article on evolution, Ayala states,
“The oldest known animal fossils, about 700 million years old, come from the so-called Ediacara fauna, small wormlike creatures with soft bodies.” (https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory/The-fossil-record, emphasis mine)
700 million years ago is Precambrian time. Wouldn’t you think there must have been some intermediate organisms with semi-hard shells in the Precambrian Period? And if “soft bodies” managed to fossilize, wouldn’t the semi-hard shells have fossilized too? Maybe the organisms Darwin expected to have lived prior to the Cambrian, in fact, never existed. Now, what was Darwin’s opinion if this were truly to be the case?
“If numerous species belonging to the same genera or families have really started into life at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of evolution through natural selection.” (p. 432, emphasis mine)
What this means is that Darwin himself admits that if it could be proved, beyond any reasonable doubt, that a number of different body plans of animals appeared suddenly in the fossil record, it would be “fatal to the theory of evolution.” And what was Darwin’s explanation for the Cambrian explosion? He graciously admits,
“To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer. … The difficulty of assigning any good reason for the absence of vast piles of strata [rock layers] rich in fossils beneath the Cambrian system is very great. … The case must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained.” (pp. 439–40)
This was Darwin’s second doubt—the most detrimental to his theory. He tries to argue that the fossil record might still be too young (i.e., it was too early to tell) and sporadic. He warns, “We should not forget that only a small portion of the world is known with accuracy.” (p.439) He suggests that the land could have been submerged in the Precambrian Period and therefore could not fossilize anything, but there are no such indications: in fact, Precambrian fossils do exist.
The Cambrian fossils were first found in Wales, UK (Cambria is Latin for Wales) and later also on large land masses like Canada (in British Columbia), China (in Chengjiang), Russia (in Siberia), and the United States of America (in California, Nevada & Utah)—practically all over the world, one might say. Some 160 years (after Darwin’s book) of intensive searches for reasons trying to justify the theory of evolution yielded nothing.
In short, therefore, in his book, Darwin himself admits the downfall of his theory of a universal common ancestor if no fossils for the Cambrian explosion were to be found. And, as I also mentioned above, Darwin never claimed that life emerged abiotically: that is, from inanimate matter. In fact, he declares, “I have nothing to do with the origin of mental powers [the mind], any more than I have with that of life itself.” (p. 317, emphasis mine.) Interestingly enough, however, scientists nowadays do claim that life emerged abiotically in an effort to exclude God from science altogether.
In support of the above discussion, science philosopher Stephen Meyer (who is also a graduate in physics and earth science) summarizes the Cambrian explosion in the epilogue of his book Darwin’s Doubt as follows.
“Darwin’s Doubt makes its case for the reality of the Cambrian explosion chiefly, but not entirely, on the basis of the fossil record. Representatives of twenty-three of the roughly twenty-seven fossilized animal phyla (and of the roughly thirty-six total animal phyla) are present in the Cambrian fossil record. Twenty of these twenty-three major groups of animals make their first appearance in the Cambrian period with no discernable ancestral forms present in either earlier Cambrian or Precambrian strata.” (pp. 417–18)
Meyer wrote a whole book of over five hundred pages based on the above paragraph; so I would like the reader to appreciate the full significance of this quote. Again limiting our discussion to animals alone, we know of only 36 different phyla (body plans) that have ever existed over the entire history of the earth. Of these 36 body plans, 23 were found in the Cambrian explosion strata. In all the strata prior to the Cambrian Period, only 3 of these 23 animal body plans were found. This means that 20, or more than half of a total of the 36 different body plans in the entire history of the world, appear suddenly in a relatively short interval of time with no Darwinian predecessors in sight. These 20 new body plans found in the Cambrian Period seem to have just been placed there: they do not seem to have evolved from other organisms. Also, there are only 27 animal phyla that are found fossilized (9 are not found fossilized) of which 23 were all found in a period of a few million years. Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that somebody is trying to tell us something?
Personally, I cannot see how a body plan could have evolved gradually into a completely different one: an endoskeleton (i.e., having an inside skeleton—like a fish) to an exoskeleton (hard on the outside—like a lobster), say, or vice versa given that there were no ancestral fossils in the Precambrian worldwide. I hate to admit it as a scientist, but it seems that God intervened in our history not just once but several times: depositing various life forms on earth at different times. Maybe he wants to show us that life is the connection between the natural (matter) and the supernatural (spirit).
I know this sounds like I’m plugging a scientific gap with God, but in my blog “God of the Gaps?,” I have shown clearly, beyond any reasonable doubt, that from scientific evidence, God is a reality out there too, and, therefore, I contend that it is possible that, occasionally, he constitutes a part of our science as well. The more we delve into science, and the harder we try to leave him out of science, paradoxically, the more he seems to come to the forefront.
A very controversial subject is whether humans evolved from apes and monkeys. I must say, upfront, that I have no problem with this concept because our body plan is very close to that of apes and monkeys, like them we are bipedal animals (as opposed to birds), and many of our mannerisms resemble theirs—see the picture at the top of this article. Besides, we have a vestigial (useless) tail, which we probably inherited from monkeys: I seriously doubt that God would have created something as useless as a tailbone in the first place; this is probably the main reason why I believe we descended from apes and monkeys.
Likewise, I don’t think God would have designed the horse with four vestigial digits [fingers or toes] surrounding the horse’s hoof—which happens to be the middle digit. And I also think, for example, that the mouse and the rat are related because their body plans are so close : so, probably one has evolved from the other. I believe microevolution can achieve something like that.
Indeed, in an article on genetic “Heredity,” the Encyclopaedia Britannica has, “At the DNA sequence level, the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are 99 percent identical.” https://www.britannica.com/science/heredity-genetics/Random-genetic-drift.
However, even scientifically, there are serious difficulties concerning the hypothesis of human evolution from apes and monkeys. In the first place, when it comes to intelligence, I doubt whether chimpanzees possess 1% of our intelligence, despite every effort having been made to give them the opportunity to improve their intelligence in laboratories. They do not write books, they do not solve mathematical problems, they cannot play chess, they cannot think abstractly, they cannot speak, they do not design anything sophisticated, and on and on. Although far more intelligent than other animals, their intelligence pales compared to that of humans. Scientists know hardly anything about the mind (as opposed to the brain): namely, how electrical impulses in the brain are converted to feelings of joy or pain, self-awareness, reason, intelligence, color, and so on. Therefore, they are jumping to conclusions when they assume that intelligence is automatically linked to evolution. As we saw above, Darwin wouldn’t even touch “mental powers” with a ten foot pole.
Modern evolutionary biologists argue that the cranial size of our ancestors enlarged gradually, and so did our intelligence soar accordingly. I do not deny there might be some correlation between brain size and intelligence; however, there seems to be no direct correlation between intelligence and brain size in us humans: I don’t believe cranial size is everything in human evolution. In fact, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the African elephant’s brain is more than three times that of the human brain, but it’s intelligence comes nowhere close to ours. Apparently, it is the total number of neurons (brain connections )in the cerebral cortex that is the determining factor. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4053853/). Naturally, one cannot determine this from fossils since the cerebral cortex constitutes only a portion of the brain, nor can its neuron density be ascertained from them. The fossils we have of alleged human progenitors are incomplete specimens, the majority of which are just partial skulls, jaws, bones, or teeth. Couldn’t they be fossils of deformed or extinct apes, say? I think there is a lot of imagination and very little science in paleoanthropologists’ coming to such conclusions, not to mention monetary interests.
As mentioned, according to Darwin’s evolutionary theory there should be a multitude of such variations in human evolution. In his book The Greatest Show on Earth, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins insists that we do have a multitude of variant forms supporting human evolution from primates, and I tend to agree with him; he writes,
“In the case of humans, since Darwin’s time there’s now an enormous amount of evidence about intermediates in human fossils and you’ve got various species of Australopithecus for example, and … then you’ve got Homo habilis—these are intermediates between Australopithecus which was an older species and Homo sapiens which is a younger species.” (p. 199)
The Encyclopaedia Britannica shows 16 intermediate fossils (15 skulls & 1 jaw) of hominids that lived over a 4-million-year span. It’s no wonder that, in the article, anthropologist and evolutionary biologist Russel Tuttle describes human evolution as a “family bush” rather than a tree. https://www.britannica.com/science/human-evolution. In fact, he admits,
“The relationships among Australopithecus, Kenyanthropus platyops, Paranthropus, and the direct ancestors of Homo are unknown. … Our ancestry becomes no clearer as the candidates are narrowed to Homo species exclusively.” https://www.britannica.com/science/human-evolution/The-emergence-of-Homo-sapiens.
I think this is exactly what one would expect in genuine Darwinian evolution. I am totally neutral in this respect; in fact, personally, I do believe that our body evolved from that of apes or monkeys, mainly because there is some evidence to this effect: namely, our coccyx (or tailbone) and our superfluous intestinal appendix. But when it comes to our intelligence, it seems to me that the step is too great between us and chimpanzees. I believe God intervened again in this respect and made us—unlike other animals—“in his own image and likeness”; that is, reasonable creatures with some sense of right and wrong: in other words, to treat other humans the same way we would like to be treated by them ourselves.
Indeed, mathematical physicist and cosmologist Frank Tipler, in his book The Physics of Immortality, identifies the Holy Spirit with a physical field that enables all life. In his introduction to the book, he writes,
“[As others have] suggested, there may exist a previously undiscovered universal physical field … which can be regarded as the source of all life, and which can be identified with the Holy Spirit. … I shall argue … that the universal wave function … is a universal field with the essential features of … [a] new “energy” field. … The relation between God and Being suggest[s] identifying the personalized wave function with the Holy Spirit. If this identification is made, it becomes reasonable as a matter of physics, to say God is in the world, everywhere, and is with us, standing beside us at all times. … Such Presence is a key property of the Christian God. (This does not mean, however, that God intervenes in human history in a supernatural way.)” (pp. 13–14, emphasis in original)
I propose that the Holy Spirit is the source of our mental powers: it is our reasoning power that most convincingly makes us “like” God. Interestingly enough, in the Nicene Creed, Christians pray, “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” (emphasis mine)
Now, what is a field? It is a condition (usually invisible) that causes some other observation to occur. It’s a gravitational field that causes everything to fall to the ground rather than to float in air. It’s a magnetic field that causes your magnetic calendar or notebook to be pulled toward and stick to your refrigerator door. It’s a nuclear field that holds atoms together as a solid. There are no strings in between causing any of these phenomena.
Irreducible Complexity is a rather intuitive notion conceptualized and elucidated by biochemist Michael Behe in his book Darwin’s Black Box. In it, for simplicity and to convey the basic idea, he describes a mousetrap, which consists of a base, a hammer, a spring, a bar, a catch, and (binding) staples. If any of these items is missing, it cannot operate as a mousetrap. Moreover, any of these items on its own is useless. So, if there is no design foresight, as is the case with random (blind) mutation, it will never happen because the addition of any of these items to the machinery (organism) is going to encumber it, not help it; so, natural selection will discard it immediately: it will not wait for the other items to come together because it has no foresight. In his book, Darwin himself admits,
“If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” (p. 232)
Now, I have been in engineering for fifty-odd years; Indeed, I even possess a Canadian and US patent. From an engineering viewpoint, therefore, I would say that for a new feature (subsystem) to work, it needs at least three things: a sensor (or detector), a receptor, and means of communication between them. It also requires a feedback or error-detecting means, and some means of correction or locomotion: otherwise the new sensor will be useless.
Both Darwin and Ayala try to explain how the eye developed from a single (or several) photo-sensitive (light-sensitive) cells on the outer layer of the skin of an organism’s body. Strangely enough, in his book, Darwin writes,
“How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light, hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated; but I may remark that, as some of the lowest organisms, in which nerves cannot be detected, are capable of perceiving light, it does not seem impossible that certain sensitive elements in their sarcode [gelatinous material] should become aggregated and developed into nerves, endowed with this special sensitivity.” (p. 228)
Of course, I disagree with Darwin that a sensitive nerve is not that important. (Incidentally, Ayala hardly talks about the nerve/nerves in between.) Just because an organism develops a photo-sensitive cell, on its epithelium (outer skin layer), it does not mean that it will hold on to it just in case while it tries to develop a photo-sensitive, communicating nerve; nor will it have the capability of sensing (a receptor) the light inside its body: unless it is designed to do so in the first place, of course—not to mention the feedback loop (brain) and locomotion (muscles, legs, fins, wings, etc.) required to react to the light. Once it detects the light, what is it going to do with it? It needs intelligence. Moreover, biologists claim, that this has happened separately many times in different organisms. According to Ayala, for example, “Eyes have evolved independently at least 40 times.” https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory. Was it a random (chance) process? Or was it a common design: as we find the wheel being incorporated in various transportation vehicles. What are the odds? As I argued in my blog “God of the Gaps?,” the odds of finding a new useful protein are very slim. The odds of coordinating three or more proteins is astronomically improbable.
Now, developing a photo-sensitive cell might not be so detrimental to an organism, but imagine developing one limb out of the four limbs, would the organism hold on to it until it collects another three? Or would it discard it as cumbersome? Remember, it doesn’t know how to use it yet. Every engineer knows that unless there is foresight, design is impossible: things will not coordinate together by chance alone. So, there is always some level of irreducible complexity in any design.
In his book, Meyer points out that in 1979, two Nobel-Prize-winning geneticists, Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Eric Wieschaus, generated thousands of mutations in the small subset of genes that regulate embryonic development in fruit flies. These genes, known as regulatory genes, control numerous other genes that are responsible for the subsequent subdivision of the embryo into various anatomical parts constituting the body of the fly: its head, thorax, abdomen, legs, wings, eyes, and so on. Regulatory genes tell other genes when to start and when to stop, and so they indirectly control the growth and freeze the size of the various anatomical parts in the adult organism. These two geneticists mutated, one by one, all the genes of the fly’s genome including the regulatory genes, and they figured out how and which gene controls, directly or indirectly, the growth of which part of the fly’s body—termed reverse engineering.
In 1982, following his writing a paper on the mutations he and his associate had induced in fruit flies, Weischaus made a presentation on the processes of macroevolution. In this presentation, he declared that, without exception, all the fruit fly mutants they had studied were deformed and died as larvae (small, wormlike, early stage of animal development); that is, long before achieving reproductive age: thus, they did not even have a chance to reproduce an organism with a novel body plan (for better or for worse). When asked by the audience about the implications of their findings on evolutionary theory, he replied,
“The problem is, we think we’ve hit all the genes required to specify the body plan of Drosophila [the fruit fly], and yet these results are obviously not promising as raw materials for macroevolution. The next question then, I guess, is what are—or what would be—the right mutations for major evolutionary change? And we don’t know the answer to that.” (emphasis in original)
Meyer adds, “Thirty [-eight] years later, developmental and evolutionary biologists still don’t know the answer to that question. … If mutating the genes that regulate body plan construction destroy animal forms as they develop from an embryonic state, then how do mutations and selection build animal body plans in the first place. … To build a new animal and establish its body plan, proteins need to be organised into higher-level structures. In other words, once new proteins arise, something must arrange them to play their parts in distinctive cell types. These distinctive cell types must, in turn, be organized to form distinctive tissues, organs, and body plans. This process of organization occurs during embryological development.” (p. 257)
When a gene is changed, its associated protein probably also changes: it’s like changing a building block in a construction site. If a brick is replaced by a slightly bigger or smaller one or of a different material, the structure might not remain solid any more, depending on where the brick happens to be. But if a brick is replaced by a wooden beam, say, something has to tell it where to place that wooden beam. But only the brick has changed by random mutation: there is no accompanying instruction of where to place it; so, it places the beam in the place of the brick with catastrophic results. If, on the other hand, only the instruction has changed, the building block in question is placed in the wrong place.
It’s all a matter of design; every engineer knows that as soon as you change as small item in a complex coordinated system, it’s back to the drawing board again: a whole slew of other things must be changed as well—one might as well start redesigning it from scratch.
When Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, he collected all sorts of evidence in support of his theory of evolution from several fields of knowledge: comparative anatomy, paleontology (fossil study), embryology, and biogeography. There is hardly a more convincing evidence for a common ancestor than the similarity of the embryos of different animal classes (major biological categories, e.g., birds, mammals & vertebrates). In his book, Darwin writes,
“Various parts in the same individual, which are exactly alike during an early embryonic period, become widely different and serve for widely different purposes in the adult state. … It has been shown that generally the embryos of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are closely similar, but become, when fully developed, widely dissimilar. A better proof of this latter fact cannot be given than the statement by [naturalist] Von Baer that ‘the embryos of mammalia [mammals], of birds, lizards, and snakes, probably also of chelonia [tortoises and turtles] are in their earliest states exceedingly like one another, both as a whole and in the mode of development of their parts; so much so, in fact, that we can often distinguish the embryos only by their size.’” (p. 587)
If you visit an automobile factory, and see all kinds of chasses of different sizes, would you think that the larger chassis developed automatically from the smaller one, or would you conclude that the designer used the same basic design? Moreover, if you see a flywheel or a cogwheel, would you say it is a mutation of the external four wheels because it looks somewhat like them? It’s a different design: the material is drastically different, yes, but it spins on an axis—the same basic principle as the wheel.
Furthermore, all embryos start from a single fertilized egg, but they all have a widely different program in their DNA: just like all computer-program discs or USB sticks look alike. But they do completely different jobs: documents, drafting, games, pictures, presentations, spreadsheets, and so on. All zygotes (fertilized eggs) start by doubling the number of cells in order to increase in size. So, if one goes back far enough, one is going to interpret it as a similarity. But is that an indication of one organism developing from another, or is it an indication of a common design?
Any two body plans are like diverging straight lines: the greater the difference the greater the angle between them. They are very close initially, but once you are on one of the straight lines, there is no going back; you can’t zigzag between them: if you do so, it will not be a straight line any longer. Likewise, neither can a body plan change to another spontaneously: following its own program, it will require building materials that are not there, which had been called up earlier in the other organism. That’s why the genetic engineering experiments described above all ended up in disaster.
In his article on evolution Ayala opines that,
“there should be a ‘molecular clock’ of evolution; that is, the degree to which amino acid or nucleotide [DNA] sequences diverge between species should provide a reliable estimate of the time since the species diverged.” https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory/Modern-conceptions.
I was so excited about this concept in my younger days when I still believed in macroevolution. There is nothing wrong with the concept except that it happens to give widely divergent ages for a particular alleged or assumed progenitor. The basic problem lies mainly in which protein molecule one would select to calculate the mutation rate? In actual fact, they all give different rates: leading to inconsistent histories—of course, there should only be one true history. So which history does one choose: the one with preconceived notions based on apparent similarities? This goes directly against the grain of all scientific principles: that is, following wherever the data and the evidence leads and letting the dice fall whichever way they will. Picking results that fit preconceived notions is not science but a belief—a religion!
For example, Meyer points out that molecular clock studies on the age of the common ancestor for the Cambrian phyla by two teams of biologists came up with 800 million and 1,200 million years ago: that’s a difference of 400 million years. (Meanwhile there is not a shred of evidence in Precambrian fossils for the prior 300 million or 700 million years, respectively.) He continues,
“Many other studies have thrown their own widely varying numbers into the ring, placing the common ancestor of animals anywhere between 100 million and 1.5 billion years before the Cambrian explosion (some molecular studies, oddly, even place the common ancestor of animals after the Cambrian explosion). … Different studies of different molecules generate widely divergent dates. … Sometimes contradictory divergence times are reported in the same (refreshingly forthright) article. … Two different molecules … [analysed were found] to yield individual gene-based divergence dates that differed by as much as 1 billion years. … One study for certain animal groups falls within a 14.2 billion-year range—more than three times the age of the earth and clearly a meaningless result.” (p. 106–7, emphasis in original)
Need I say more concerning the molecular clock? In his article on evolution, Ayala admits that the molecular clock is not accurate, but he understates its inaccuracy; he writes,
“During the 1970s and ’80s it gradually became clear that the molecular clock is not exact; nevertheless, into the early 21st century it continued to provide the most reliable evidence for reconstructing evolutionary history.” https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory/Modern-conceptions.
Such statements are misleading, to say the least. Well, if one allows oneself to be guided by preconceived notions, results are going to confirm those preconceived notions.
As I explained in my article “Science in the Bible,” creationists insist that God created all life forms in four days around six thousand years ago. Therefore, they contend that all animals cohabited earth at some time; consequently, dinosaurs and humans, for example, should be found in the same fossil strata.
They also contend that all the fossils were the result of Noah’s Flood. The normal tidal actions caused by the moon’s gravitational pull on bodies of water around the globe could not be dissipated on the seashores (as normally happens) since the global flood resulted in a global ocean—with no land above the water. The cumulative effect of this tidal action produced something resembling a global centrifuge: baring the loose earth, depositing the animals’ dead bodies, hydraulically, in a semi-organized fashion (the denser animals below), and finally burying them under the disturbed sediment.
However, under these conditions, feathered animals (unless stripped of feathers) should have been buried last: which is not the case with the archaeopteryx fossils, for example. Moreover, radiogenic dating sets dinosaurs and humans (Homo sapiens) around 65 million years apart.
It seems, therefore, that the scientists’ claims regarding macroevolution are empty claims: science seems to be becoming more of a religion than a science in this respect. Nowadays, scientists seem to pick a “party line” and try to shove it down the throat of everyone who cannot compete with them. They even come up with theories that cannot possibly be verified—the multiverse theory, for example, in an effort to keep God out of the picture. I hate to say it because I consider myself a scientist too, but I think they have become too arrogant: their superior intelligence has gone to their head.
It also seems that, regarding macroevolution, oddly enough, the Bible is basically right and science is wrong, but not regarding the timing, of course: so we can’t really say that the Bible trumps science. Nor can we say, therefore, that the Bible is God’s word: some things it got right, others it got wrong: like any other good human book, I suppose.
Ayala, Francisco Jose. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online s.v. “Evolution (scientific theory).” https://www.britannica.com/science/evolution-scientific-theory. (Last update May 21, 2020.)
Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York, NY: Free Press, 2006. (ISBN: 9780743290319.)
Darwin, Charles to Joseph Dalton Hooker. February 1, 1871.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. New York, NY: Modern Library. (ISBN: 9780375751462.)
Dawkins, Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. New York, NY: Free Press, 2010. (ISBN: 9781416594796.)
Encyclopaedia Britannica Online s.v. “Geologic Time.” https://www.britannica.com/science/geologic-time (Last update June 2, 2020.)
Flannery, Timothy Fridtjof. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online s.v. “Cambrian Explosion (paleontology).” https://www.britannica.com/science/Cambrian-explosion. (Last update August 8, 2019.)
Griffiths, Anthony J.F., Arthur Robinson, and Theodosius Dobzhansky. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online s.v. “Heredity (genetic).” https://www.britannica.com/science/heredity-genetics. (Last update October 11, 2019.)
Herculano-Houzel, Suzana, Kamilla Avelino-de-Souza, Kleber Neves, Jairo Porfírio, Débora Messeder, Larissa Mattos Feijó, José Maldonado, and Paul R. Manger. “The Elephant Brain in nymbers.” National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), PubMed Central Identification (PMCID): PMC4053853, (Published online 2014 Jun 12, pre-published online 2014 Apr 30.) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4053853/.
Meyer, Stephen C. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2014. (ISBN: 9780062071484.)
Tipler, Frank Jennings. The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead. New York, NY: Anchor Books, 1995. (ISBN: 0385467990.)
Tuttle, Russel Howard. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online s.v. “Human Evolution.” https://www.britannica.com/science/human-evolution. (Last update February 3, 2020.)
Wikipedia s.v. “E-coli Long Term Evolution Experiment.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment.