Confession of a
I ADMIT IT. I was once an evolutionist. An ardent one. Perhaps even a biased one, for I would not, for the longest time, consider any other possibility.
My father was a geologist, and, schooled in early twentieth century secular ways of thought, naturally had no other way of looking at the fossil record than as a chronicle of evolutionary change. (Even today hardly anyone considers any other possible interpretation.) So I was raised on the milk of evolutionary theory. In year twelve at high school, our biology class required an in-depth study of the theory of evolution. I was zealous for what was taught. I swallowed the supportive evidence as if it were proof. Not mindlessly, mind you; I really felt it was quite compelling. (It wasn't until years later that I discovered that one of those “proofs” we were offered — ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny — had long since been rejected even by evolutionists.) For my efforts I was even awarded the honor of sharing the prize for dux in biology.
I was so convinced of the "fact" of evolution that I was amazed when our English teacher set us an essay on the topic of the conflict between religion and science. Conflict. What conflict? Oh yes. I was aware that until the middle of the nineteenth century most people believed the biblical account of creation. But Darwin had yanked out every prop from under the biblical version, leaving it utterly threadbare. Or so I thought. And the Scopes trial had hammered the last nail into the coffin. Only obscurantists and religious fanatics still clung to any idea of divine fiat as the explanation for life. Surely conflict had ceased a long time ago.
So sure was I of the veracity of Darwin's dogma, that I took no notice whatsoever of the disquieting thoughts that came into my mind time and again while studying the theory and the evidence. I could see that all too often the facts simply didn't match the theory. (They don't match the more recent versions of evolutionary theory much better, either.) Many times I tried to picture in my mind the steps by which one organ or organism changed into another, and found that in every instance I was stumped. I remember our biology textbook had an illustration of the structure of the heart in the basic groups of vertebrates. I tried to imagine how the reptile heart actually changed into the bird heart, and found it just couldn't be done. But, hey, much more intelligent people must have grappled with those questions and been able to answer them convincingly.
But you know something? They haven't! Grappled, yes. Answered convincingly? No! Many have tried. Brilliant men, such as Steven Jay Gould. Richard Dawkins, and others too numerous to mention. In my opinion, all evolutionary explanations crumple under, and fall upon, the rock of logic and common sense.
I also remember being stumped by a theological question. Starting from the premise that God used evolution as His method of creation, I wondered about the point at which salvation first became a possibility. If human beings had descended by a graded series of tiny changes from some proto-human, exactly which tiny mutation created the transitional subspecies to which God first offered salvation? What seemingly small boost in mental capacity brought into being a creature upon which God smiled benignly and said, “At last; now we are in business”? I posed this question to the school chaplain (a man whom I greatly respect to this day). He drew back on his pipe, thought for a few seconds, and responded, “There are some questions for which we just don't have an answer” — or words to that effect. Back in those days, when agnosticism was de rigueur, that answer seemed acceptable to me.
Why did I change?
Nettles of doubts about the ability of Darwin's fabulous interpretation to explain the facts did not cause me, though, to doubt the truth of the theory. Horror of horrors! Everyone knew evolution was true. Who in his right mind would dare to question the received wisdom of such a fervently-embraced religious doctrine as evolution? But just as there were a few brave individuals in past centuries who questioned the authority of the mother church, I was surprised to discover, in my first year at Melbourne University, that a handful of intelligent folk actually questioned the unquestioned authority of evolutionary "science". I found a book or two in the university library evolution section that argued against evolution.
One day, when it had finally sunk in that the case against the dogma of evolution may be worth considering, I decided to consider the whole matter with an open mind. I actually began to read some of the literature in support of the biblical account of creation and to consider some of the flaws in evolutionary teaching. I was amazed at the results. More and more I came to see that the niggling doubts that I had banished from my mind were real objections to evolution theory, and were not just due to lack of understanding on my part. Slowly but surely, the nettlesome difficulties of evolutionary philosophy became a burr under the saddle that bucked me off the horse of evolution. I began to see that evolution had some real Trojan horses. Perhaps you could call them Trojan hearses, because to me, they are sufficiently strong to sound the death knell of the idea that life forms of today are the result of millions of years of modifications of previous life forms.
Evolution's Trojan hearses
Today, the ability of evolution to account for the facts is facing a growing chorus of discontent. Theory and facts just don't match. The arguments are becoming more and more sophisticated with growth in knowledge. Today you hear about the argument from cladistics. And from protein matching, etc. All very interesting stuff to consider. But the two Trojan Hearses that I discovered almost 35 years ago are still, to me, "the biggies". They will probably remain forever the key Achilles' heels of evolution. The beautiful thing is that you don't have to have a PhD to be able to understand these simple yet overwhelming objections to evolution.
In the past, evolutionists tried to answer these, but never did so satisfactorily, as far as I am concerned. Today they tend to gloss right over them, occasionally giving them lip service as if they are matters that have long since been settled. But they are not. I am reminded of an old saying: "My mind is made up. Don't confuse me with the facts."
Trojan hearse one: complex interplay of parts
A car cannot function without its carburetor. (Itself a complex part composed of many parts). Or its spark plugs. Take any essential part out, and it simply won't work. The theory of evolution by gradual modification of existing organisms cannot account for the seemingly infinite examples of this principle at work in nature. In fact, every creature is an example of this principle in action. Because every creature depends for its functioning on a harmonious working together of independent parts. Take any one part away, and you're a dead duck.
Evolutionary theory says that, for instance, a spider's incredibly complex silk-producing and spinning apparatus evolved one step at a time. Once upon a time there was a "semi-demi-proto-spider" without any such apparatus. It survived by hunting on the ground. Then one mutation occurred, and you had a demi-proto spider with, miracle of miracles, one perfect part of the unbelievably complex apparatus. But because this one part was of no use whatever to the spider, it didn't get selected by Mother Nature to be passed on to succeeding generations of proto spiders. End of the story. No evolution occurred. This may sound simplistic, but try and confute the reasoning.
Better still, ask an evolutionist to give you a precise, step-by-step reckoning, beginning with no silk-producing apparatus, of each step along the pathway of achieving even the "simplest" known version of silk-producing machinery. Remember, each successive modification must be advantageous to its proud new owner, or it will not be made immortal by the god of natural selection. Assuming a carburetor could survive by itself, would the addition of a spark plug be any advantage? None whatsoever. Ah, the faith of evolution!
As mentioned earlier, even as a high school student, thoroughly convinced of the truth of evolution, I could never see how the lofty sounding theory of natural selection could actually produce the end results we see today. It sounded good until you tried to apply it to any creature you could think of. No matter how limited your education, you should be able to see this.
Various evolutionists have tried to address this problem that won't go away. Some have even devised clever-sounding rebuttals to this objection. One such example goes by the cute little name of “preadaptation”. For instance, Stephen Jay Gould opines: “With preadaptation, we cut through the dilemma of a function for incipient stages by accepting the standard objection and admitting that intermediate forms did not work in the same way as their perfected descendants. We avoid the excellent question, What good is 5 percent of an eye? By arguing that the possessor of such an incipient structure did not use it for sight”. Clever, indeed; but born of desperation.
The other side of this coin is the positive one in support of creation — the argument by design. In spite of Dawkins' apology for evolution entitled "The Blind Watchmaker", the fundamentals of the old argument of William Paley remain valid.
Trojan hearse two: where are the intermediates?
Yes. Where are they, pray tell. If evolution was true, then we should be surrounded by a blancmange of creatures. It would be impossible to tell where one species ends and another begins. Don't let yourself be intimidated by the mockery of those who will try and make you sound ignorant for suggesting that this is a fatal flaw of evolution theory. It is! Evolutionists are guilty of some remarkable forms of casuistry when they try to argue around this.
Even if you give credence to the idea that successive extinctions have destroyed some of the intermediates, there still ought to be numerous living examples of single-step-by-single-step transitions from one species to another, one genus to another, one family to another. But you won't find them. An evolutionist would answer this by saying: "But there are!" And then would assert that since a rhipidistian (a type of extinct "fish") is intermediate between "normal" fish and amphibians, that there you have an example of a transitional form.
The whole point I am making here is that between rhipidistians and amphibians untold thousands of transitional forms must have swum and plodded, the older blending imperceptibly into the newer as modifications occurred, as fins imperceptibly morphed into limbs. A number of clever theories have been put forth over the years to account for the lack of this predicted blancmange. I'm sorry, but none of the ones I am familiar with has a tinge of persuasion to it. And the more radical ones, the saltationist theories, are so radical that you have to ask yourself if the adherents should even be called evolutionists. But that's another story.
Almost 30 years on down the line, in spite of numerous Steven Jay Gould articles I have read, I find myself more confident than ever that the facts of nature tally much better with the biblical account of creation than with evolution theory. I'm no longer afraid to be considered a heretic. Will the real myth please stand up?
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