From the book: "I don't have enough Faith to be an Atheist"
New Life Forms: From the Goo to You
via the Zoo?
"In grammar school they taught me that a frog turning into a prince was a fairy tale. In the uiniversity they taught me that a frog turning into a prince was a fact!"
In THE MOVIE Contact, Jodie Foster plays a scientist who is part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SET!) research team. SETT, which is a real organization, has scientists who scan space for unmistakable signs of intelligent life. What constitutes an unmistakable sign of intelligent life? A message: That's right, something like "Take out the garbage—Mom."
In the movie, Foster gets extremely excited when her antenna picks up radio waves that appear to have an intelligent pattern, "One, two, three, five, seven, eleven . . . those are primes!" she exclaims (meaning prime numbers). "That can't be natural phenomena!"
Indeed, random radio waves can be naturally produced, but those that contain a message always have an intelligent source. Prime numbers, from one to 101 in order, constitute a message that only comes from an intelligent being.
Foster is so confident that ET has been found, she goes public with her discovery. Government and military officials then converge on her facility. "If this is such an intelligent source, then why don't they just speak English?" one official asks with a hint of derision.
"Because math is the only universal language!" Foster fires back.
Of course she's right. In fact, alphabets, and thus language itself, can be ultimately reduced to numbers. This is why the English alphabet is mathematically identical to the genetic alphabet of DNA and why the comparison of cell information to encyclopedias is a one-to-one relationship rather than just an analogy.
While Foster and her colleagues later discover a more complicated message embedded in the radio waves, they are absolutely certain the prime numbers alone prove that the message came from intelligent life. Why are they so certain of this? Because repeated observation tells us that only intelligent beings create messages and that natural laws never do. When we see a sequence of prime numbers, we realize that it requires an intelligent cause just like the messages "Take out the garbage—-Mom" and "Mary loves Scott" do.
Ironically, Contact was based on a novel by the late Carl Sagan, an ardent evolutionist who believed in spontaneous generation and who was instrumental in starting the real SETI program. The irony lies in the fact that Sagan was absolutely convinced that a simple string of prime numbers proves the existence of an intelligent being, but the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias in the first one-celled life does not. It takes a lot of faith not to believe in God. More than we have! Moreover, it was Sagan who wrote this about the human brain:
The information content of the human brain expressed in bits is probably comparable to the total number of connections among the neurons—about a hundred trillion bits. If written out in English, say, that information would fill some twenty million volumes, as many as in the world's largest libraries. The equivalent of twenty million books is inside the heads of every one of us. The brain is a very big place in a very small space. The neurochemistry of the brain is astonishingly busy. The circuitry of a machine more wonderful than any devised by humans.1
Actually, Sagan probably underestimated the brain's information content at twenty million books. Nevertheless, the figure is still stunning. To conceptualize it, picture yourself at center court of Madison Square Garden several hours before a basketball game. You are the only one in the arena, and you are looking at almost 20,000 empty seats all around you. How many books would you have to stack on each seat in order to fit twenty million books in that arena?
You would need to stack 1,000 books on each and every seat to fit twenty million books in Madison Square Garden. Think about that. The roof is not high enough to allow that many books; you'd have to blow off the roof and keep stacking! That's how much specified and complex information is between your ears. Sagan was indeed right that the brain is a very big place in a very small space, and it's something immeasurably more sophisticated than anything humans have ever created.
Now let's review the facts: Sagan realized that the human brain has the information content of twenty million books. He also realized that's drastically more specified and complex than a string of prime numbers. Then why did he think the simpler message required an intelligent being but not the one twenty million books long? We might also ask Sagan and his fellow Darwinists a question of similar weight: If intelligent human beings can't create anything close to the human brain, why should we expect nonintelligent natural laws to do so?
The Darwinist response will usually involve "natural selection." Is this sufficient to account for new life forms? After all, it's a long way from one cell to the human brain.
What About New Life Forms?
Before discussing the origin of new life forms, we need to revisit the problem of the origin of first life. It certainly is a long way from one cell to the human brain, but the journey may be even longer from nonliving chemicals to the first cell. That's the most difficult problem for Darwinists. Where did the first life come from?
Do you see the magnitude of this problem for Darwinists? If Darwinists don't have an explanation for the first life, then what's the point of speaking about new life forms? The process of macroevolution, if it's possible at all, can't even begin unless there's preexisting life.
But as we saw in the last chapter, this doesn't stop the Darwinists. Against all empirical and forensic evidence, Darwinists make up a "just-so" story—spontaneous generation or panspermia—that magically gives them the first life they need. This isn't science—this is a joke. In fact it reminds us of a joke. Steve Martin used to say, "I know how you can be a millionaire and never pay taxes! First, get a million dollars, Okay, now..."
The Darwinists' position is even more problematic when you consider that they don't even have an explanation for the source of the nonliving chemicals, much less an explanation for life. As we saw in chapter 3, one of the most profound questions to ask is, "If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing at all?" We saw that the atheists have no plausible answer to this question. Suggesting a possibility is not enough—they have to present evidence if they are going to be scientific. It's obvious they don't know where the universe came from. A good box top (worldview) should be able to plausibly explain all of the data. If it can't answer the fundamental questions of the origin of the world or the origin of life, it's not a viable box top. It's time to look for a new one.
Even though we see that the Darwinist box top is fundamentally flawed, we need to look at a few of the claims the Darwinists make regarding the origin of new life forms.
Their theory is macroevolution.
Microevolution vs. Macroevolution
You remember macroevolution—from the goo to you via the zoo. It's the belief that all life forms have descended from a common ancestor— the first one-celled creature—and all of this has happened by natural processes without any intelligent intervention. God was not involved. It has been a completely blind process.
Darwinists say this has happened by natural selection. But the term "natural selection" is "a misnomer." Since the process of evolution is, by definition, without intelligence, there is no "selection" at all going on. It's a blind process. The term "natural selection" simply means that the fittest creatures survive. So what? That's true by definition—the fittest survive (this is called a tautology—a circular argument that doesn't prove anything). Logically, these are the creatures that are best equipped genetically or structurally to deal with changing environmental conditions (that's why they survive).
As an example of "natural selection," consider what happens to bacteria attacked by antibiotics. When bacteria survive a bout with antibiotics and multiply, that surviving group of bacteria may be resistant to that antibiotic. The surviving bacteria are resistant to that antibiotic because the parent bacteria possessed the genetic capacity to resist, or a rare biochemical mutation somehow helped it survive (we say "rare" because mutations are nearly always harmful). Since the sensitive bacteria die, the surviving bacteria multiply and now dominate.
Darwinists say that the surviving bacteria have evolved. Having adapted to the environment, the surviving bacteria provide us with an example of evolution. Fair enough, but what kind of evolution? The answer we're about to give is absolutely critical. In fact, outside of the philosophical presuppositions we've been exposing, defining "evolution" is perhaps the greatest point of confusion in the creation-evolution controversy. This is where Darwinian errors and false claims begin to multiply like bacteria if not checked by those who believe observation is important to science. Here's what observation tells us: the surviving bacteria always stay bacteria. They do not evolve into another type of organism. That would be macroevolution. Natural selection has never been observed to create new types.
But macroevolution is exactly what Darwinists claim from the data. They say that these observable micro changes can be extrapolated to prove that unobservable macroevolution has occurred. They make no distinction between micro-evolution and macro-evolution, and thus use the evidence for micro to prove macro. By failing to make this critical distinction, Darwinists can dupe the general public into thinking that any observable change in any organism proves that all life has evolved from the first one-celled creature.
This is why it is essential that the right distinctions be made and that all hidden assumptions be exposed when discussing the creation-evolution controversy. So if someone ever asks you, "Do you believe in evolution?" you should ask that person, "What do you mean by evolution? Do you mean micro or macroevolution?" Microevolution has been observed; but it cannot be used as evidence for macroevolution, which has never been observed.
Darwinists are masters at defining the term "evolution" broadly enough so that evidence in one situation might be counted as evidence in another. Unfortunately for them, the public is beginning to catch on to this tactic, thanks largely to the popular works of Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson. Johnson first exposed this Darwinistic sleight of hand with his groundbreaking book Darwin on Trial. That's where he points out that, "None of the 'proofs' [for natural selection] provides any persuasive reason for believing that natural selection can produce new species, new organs, or other major changes, or even minor changes that are permanent."2 Biologist Jonathan Wells agrees when he writes, "Biochemical mutations cannot explain the large-scale changes in organisms that we see in the history of life."3
Why can't natural selection do the job? Here are five reasons it can't:
1. Genetic Limits—Darwinists say that microevolution within types proves that macroevolution has occurred. If these small changes can occur over, a short period of time, think what natural selection can do over a long period of time. Unfortunately for Darwinists, genetic limits seem to be built into the basic types. For example, dog breeders always encounter genetic limits when they intelligently attempt to create new breeds of dogs. Dogs may range in size from the Chihuahua to the Great Dane, but despite the best attempts of intelligent-breeders, dogs always remain dogs. Likewise, despite the best efforts of intelligent scientists to manipulate fruit flies, their experiments have never turned out anything but more fruit flies (and usually crippled ones at that).4 This is especially significant because the short life of fruit flies allows scientists to test many generations of genetic variation in a short period of time.
Within a Type
Most importantly, the comparison between natural selection and the artificial selection that breeders do is completely invalid, as table 6.1 demonstrates. The biggest difference is the fact that artificial selection is intelligently guided while natural selection is not.
Confusing intelligent with nonintelligent processes is a common mistake of Darwinists. This was the case when I (Norm) debated humanist Paul Kurtz in 1986 on the topic of evolution. The debate, moderated by TV apologist John Ankerberg, produced this exchange regarding macro evolution:
Geisler: [Chandra] Wickramasinghe [who is an atheist] said, "believing that life came by chance is like believing that a Boeing 747 resulted from a tornado going through a junk yard." You have to have a lot of faith to believe that!
Kurtz: Well, the Boeing 747 evolved. We can go back to the Wright brothers and see that first kind of airplane they created...
Kurtz: Yes, but...
Ankerberg: By intelligence or by chance? [Laughter]
Kurtz: There was a period of time in which these forms changed...
Ankerberg: But didn't they create those airplanes using intelligence?
Kurtz: I was using the analogy that Dr. Geisler was using.
Geisler: Well, you're helping my argument! [Laughter] You ought to drop that one and find another one!
Kurtz: No, no, I think the point I make is a good one because there have been changes from the simplest to the more complex airplanes.
Geisler: Yes, but those changes were by intelligent intervention!
Indeed, directional change in airplanes by intelligence proves nothing about the possibility of directional change in living things without intelligence. As we'll see in the next section, directional change in living things by natural selection has not been observed. And directional change in living things with intelligence hits genetic limits. So even when it is intelligently guided, evolution hits walls. In other words, even when scientists intelligently manipulate creatures with an end in mind—which is the antithesis of the blind Darwinian process—macroevolution still doesn't work1. If intelligent scientists cannot break genetic barriers, why should we expect non-intelligent natural selection to do so?
2. Cyclical Change—Not only are there genetic limits to change within types, but the change within types appears to be cyclical. In other words, changes are not directional toward the development of new life forms, as macroevolutionary theory requires, but they simply shift back and forth within a limited range. For example, Darwin's finches had varying beak sizes, which correlated with the weather. 5 Larger beaks helped crack larger, harder seeds during droughts, and smaller beaks worked fine when wetter weather brought an abundance of smaller, softer seeds. When the weather became drier, the proportion of finches with larger beaks grew relative to the smaller-beaked finches. The proportion reversed itself following a sustained period of wet weather. Notice that no new life forms came into existence (they always remained finches); only the relative proportion of existing large-beaked to small-beaked finches changed. Notice also that natural selection cannot explain how finches came into existence in the first place. In other words, natural selection may be able to explain the survival of a species, but it cannot explain the arrival of a species.
3. Irreducible Complexity—In 1859, Charles Darwin wrote, "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." We now know that there are many organs, systems, and processes in life that fit that description.
One of those is the cell. In Darwin's day the cell was a "black box"-—-a mysterious little part of life that no one could see into. But now that we have the ability to peer into the cell, we see that life at the molecular level is immeasurably more complex than Darwin ever dreamed. In fact, it is irreducibly complex. An irreducibly complex system is "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." 7
Those are the words of Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University, who wrote the revolutionary book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Behe's research verifies that living things are literally filled with molecular machines that perform the numerous functions of life. These molecular machines are irreducibly complex, meaning that all the parts of each machine must be completely formed, in the right places, in the right sizes, in operating order, at the same time, for the machine to function.
A car engine is an example of an irreducibly complex system. If a change is made in the size of the pistons, this would require simultaneous changes in the cam shaft, block, cooling system, engine compartment, and other systems, or the new engine would not function.
Behe shows that living things are irreducibly complex, just like a car engine. With painstaking detail, he shows that numerous functions in the body—such as blood clotting, cilia (cell propulsion organisms), and vision—require irreducibly complex systems that could not have developed in the gradual Darwinian fashion. Why? Because intermediates would be nonfunctional. As with a car engine, all the right parts must be in place in the right size at the same time for there to be any function at all. You can build an engine part by part (and that takes intelligence), but you can't drive to work with only a partial engine under the hood. Nor could you drive to work if one essential part of your engine were modified but others were not. In the same way, living systems quickly would become nonfunctional if they were modified piece by piece.
The degree of irreducible complexity in living things is mind-boggling. Recall that DNA's genetic alphabet consists of four letters: A, T, C, and G. Well, within each human cell there are about 3,000 million pairs of those letters. 8 Not only does your body have trillions of cells and make millions of new cells every second, but each cell is irreducibly complex and contains irreducibly complex subsystems!
Behe's discoveries are fatal for Darwinism. Irreducible complexity means that new life cannot come into existence by the Darwinian method of slight, successive changes over a long period of time. Darwinism is akin to natural forces—without any intelligent help—producing a running car engine (i.e., an amoeba) and then modifying that irreducibly complex engine into successive intermediate engines until those natural forces finally produce the space shuttle (i.e., a human being). Darwinists can't explain the source of the materials to make an engine, much less how any irreducibly complex engine came to be in the first place. Nor can they demonstrate the unintelligent process by which any engine has evolved into the space shuttle while providing propulsion at every intermediate step. This is evident from the complete absence of explanations from Darwinists for how irreducibly complex systems could arise gradually. Behe exposes the empty claims of Darwinists when he writes:
The idea of Darwinian molecular evolution is not based on science. There is no publication in the scientific literature—in journals or books—-that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations. Since there is no authority on which to base claims of knowledge, it can truly be said that the assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster. 9
The feeble attempts by Darwinists to deal with irreducible complexity reveal the magnitude of the problem for their theory. Darwinist Ken Miller has suggested that irreducible complexity isn't true because he can show that Behe's example of irreducible complexity—a mousetrap—-isn't really irreducibly complex. According to Behe, all five parts of a traditional mousetrap need to be in place at the same time, in working order, for the mouse trap to work. You can't catch mice with just a platform and a spring, for example. But Miller thinks he can disprove Behe's point by building a similar mousetrap with-only four parts. (Miller actually brought this up during a televised debate on PBS in the late nineties.) But Miller's critique actually misses the mark. First, like a typical Darwinist, Miller ignores the fact that his mousetrap requires intelligence to build. Second, Behe is not saying you need five parts for any mousetrap—just for the traditional mousetrap. It turns out that Miller's mousetrap is not a physical precursor to Behe's traditional mousetrap. In other words, transforming Miller's mousetrap into Behe's would require more than one random (i.e., Darwinian) step—it would require the addition of another very specific part and several very specific adjustments to existing parts (and that requires intelligence). Third, even if those changes could somehow be made by mindless processes, the mousetrap would be nonfunctional during the transition period. But for Darwinism to be true, functionality must be maintained at all times because living things cannot survive if, say, their vital organs do not perform their usual function during slow, trial-and-error Darwinian transitions.10 Finally, a mousetrap is only an illustration. Living systems are immeasurably more complex than a mousetrap. So Behe's point clearly has not been refuted by Miller, nor has it been refuted by any other Darwinist.11
During an Intelligent Design conference in July 2002, at which both Behe and I (Frank) were speakers, one particular Darwinist was a bit militant during the question and answer period of the lectures. I wanted to turn the tables and ask him a few questions, so I made it a point to sit next to him during lunch.
"What do you do with Behe's irreducible complexity argument?" I asked between pizza slices.
He rolled his eyes and said, "Oh, that's no big deal. There are biochemical scaffolds that are built around the system to allow it to evolve gradually."
When I saw Behe later that day, I told him about the Darwinist's explanation. He rightly pointed out that: 1) there's no evidence for such "scaffolds," and 2) it actually complicates matters for Darwinists; namely, if these "scaffolds" do exist, then who keeps building them in just the right places? That would require intelligence.
Others have tried to find Darwinian paths around irreducible complexity, but all have failed. Behe confirms as much when he categorically states, "There is currently no experimental evidence to show that natural selection can get around irreducible complexity."12
Behe does not underestimate the implications of irreducible complexity and other discoveries regarding the complexity of life. He writes:
"The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of 'design!' The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein."13
4. Nonviability of Transitional Forms—Another problem that plagues the plausibility of natural selection creating new life forms is the fact that transitional forms could not survive. For example, consider the Darwinian assertion that birds evolved gradually from reptiles over long periods of time. This would necessitate a transition from scales to feathers. How could a creature survive that no longer has scales but does not quite have feathers? Feathers are irreducibly complex. A creature, with the structure of half a feather has no ability to fly. It would be easy prey on land, in water, and from the air. And as a halfway house between reptiles and birds, it probably wouldn't be adept at finding food for itself either. So the problem for Darwinists is twofold: first, they have no viable mechanism for getting from reptiles to birds; and second, even if a viable mechanism were discovered, the transitional forms would be unlikely to survive anyway.
5. Molecular Isolation—Darwinists often say that evidence of common descent lies in the fact that all living things contain DNA. For example, Richard Dawkins states, "The reason we know for certain we are all related, including bacteria, is the universality of the genetic code and other biochemical fundamentals."14 Darwinists think the DNA similarity between apes and humans, for example, which some say is 85 to over 95 percent, 15 strongly implies an ancestral relationship.
But is this evidence for common ancestry or for a common creator? It could be interpreted either way. Perhaps the Darwinists are right-—it is possible that we have a common genetic code because we've all descended from a common ancestor. But they could just as easily be wrong-—perhaps we a have a common genetic code because a common creator has designed us to live in the same biosphere. After all, if every living creature were distinct biochemically, a food chain probably could not exist. Perhaps life with a different biochemical makeup is not possible. And even if it is, perhaps it couldn't survive in this biosphere.
Consider Fig. 6.3. Does similarity and progression prove that the kettle evolved from the teaspoon? No. Similarity and progression does not automatically imply common ancestry. In this case we know it means there is a common creator or designer. This is the same situation we have for real living things.
Similarity and Progression
Does similarity of design prove a common ancestor or a common designer? Did the pot evolve from the teaspoon?
As we said before, the capacity of the DNA genetic alphabet to contain a message is equivalent to the capacity of the English alphabet to contain a message (the only difference is that the DNA alphabet has only four letters versus twenty-six for the English alphabet). Since all living things have DNA with its four nitrogen-containing bases (represented by the letters A, T, C, and G), we would expect a high degree of similarity in the information among creatures whether or not they are ancestrally related.
Let's use an example from English to illustrate what we mean. Here are two sentences with exactly the same letters:
Charles Darwin was a scientific god. Charles Darwin was a scientific dog.
While the letters in the two sentences are identical and the order is virtually the same (greater than 90 percent), the slight difference in order yields opposite meanings. In the same way, only a slight difference in the order of the letters (A, T, C, and G) in living things may yield creatures that are far apart on the hypothetical evolutionary tree. For example, while some studies show that the DNA similarity between humans and the most similar ape may be about 90 percent, other studies show the DNA similarity between humans and mice is also about 90 percent.16 Such comparisons are controversial and are not completely understood. More research needs to be done in this field. But if mice genetically are as close to humans as apes, this would greatly complicate any Darwinian explanation.
But let's suppose that further studies someday show that ape DNA is indeed closer to humans than the DNA of any other creature. This would not prove the Darwinists' conclusion that there is an ancestral relationship. Again, the reason for the similarity could be a common creator rather than a common ancestor. We must find other evidence at the molecular level to help us discover whether the common genetic code is evidence of a common ancestor or of a common creator.
That other evidence has been found-—-by comparing protein sequences. Proteins are the building blocks of life. They are composed of long chains of chemical units called amino acids. Most proteins have in their structure more than 100 of these amino acids, which must be in a very specific order. It's the DNA that contains the instructions for ordering the amino acids in the proteins, and the order is critical because any variation usually renders the protein dysfunctional.
Here's where the problem arises for Darwinists. If all species share a common ancestor, we should expect to find protein sequences that are transitional from, say, fish to amphibian, or from reptile to mammal. But that's not what we find at all. Instead, we find that the basic types are molecularly isolated from one another, which seems to preclude any type of ancestral relationship. Michael Denton observes:
At a molecular level there is no trace of the evolutionary transition from fish - amphibian - reptile - mammal. So amphibia, always traditionally considered intermediate between fish and the other terrestrial vertebrates, are in molecular terms as far from fish as any group of reptiles or mammals! To those well acquainted with the traditional picture of vertebrate evolution the result is truly astonishing.17
So even though all organisms share a common genetic code with varying degrees of closeness, that code has ordered the amino acids in proteins in such a way that the basic types are in molecular isolation from one another. There are no Darwinian transitions, only distinct molecular gaps. Darwinists cannot explain the presence of these molecular gaps by natural selection any more than they can explain the presence of huge gaps in the fossil record (which we'll talk about next).
What About the Fossil Record?
So let's quickly review what we've seen so far. These are the five lines of evidence which show that natural selection could not have produced new life forms:
Nonviability of transitional forms
But doesn't the fossil record support the Darwinian theory? Let's take a look.
Without the benefit of today's technology, Charles Darwin could not recognize the problems his theory faced at the cellular level. However, he did recognize that the fossil record posed a big problem for his theory because it didn't show gradualism. That's why he wrote, "Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be "urged against my theory."18
But Darwin thought that further fossil discoveries would reveal that his theory was true. Time has proven him wrong. Contrary to what you may hear in the general media, the fossil record has turned out to be a complete embarrassment for Darwinists. If Darwinism were true, we would have found thousands, if not millions, of transitional fossils by now. Instead, according to the late Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould (an evolutionist):
The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1). Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; Morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2). Sudden Appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and 'fully formed.'19
In other words, Gould is admitting that fossil types appear suddenly, fully formed, and remain the same until extinction without any directional change—exactly what one would expect to find if creation were true.
But instead of adopting creationism, Gould rejected the gradualism of Darwinism and formulated a theory he called "Punctuated Equilibria" (PE). PE suggests that species evolved faster over a shorter period of time, thereby explaining the huge fossil gaps. Gould had no natural mechanism by which this could have occurred, but since he was an atheist he had to explain the fossil record somehow. This is a classic case of allowing your prejudices to taint your observations.
But we digress. The main point here is that the fossil record actually lines up better with supernatural creation than with macroevolution. Indeed, there aren't missing links-—-there's a missing chain!
There is no chain because nearly all of the major groups of animals known to exist appear in the fossil record abruptly and fully formed in strata from the Cambrian period (which many scientists estimate to have occurred between 600 and 500 million years ago). Jonathan Wells writes, "The fossil evidence is so strong, and the event so dramatic, that it has become known as 'the Cambrian explosion,' or 'biology's big bang.'"20
This evidence, of course, is completely inconsistent with Darwinism. All animal groups appear separately, fully formed, and at the same time. That's not evidence of gradual evolution but of instantaneous creation. So the Darwinian tree we are so used to seeing doesn't properly illustrate the real fossil record. In fact, as Wells observes, "if any botanical analogy were appropriate, it would be a lawn rather than a tree." 21 And that lawn would have patches of different grasses or plants separated by large areas of nothing but dirt.
At this point you may be thinking, "But what about the skull progression we're so used to seeing? Doesn't it appear that man has evolved from apes?"
A number of years ago I (Norm) debated a Darwinist who lined up skulls on a table to illustrate that evolution had occurred. "Ladies and gentlemen, right here is the evidence for evolution," he declared.
Gee, how can you ignore the fossils? The skulls look like they're in a progression. They look as if they could be ancestrally related. Is this good evidence for Darwinism? No, it's not any better than the evidence that the large kettle evolved from the teaspoon.
The problem for the Darwinists is that the fossil record cannot establish ancestral relationships. Why not? Because, according to Michael Denton, "99 percent of the biology of any organism resides in its soft anatomy, which is inaccessible in a fossil." 22 In other words, it's extremely difficult to discover the biological makeup of a creature by looking at its' fossil remains. Jonathan Wells observes, "The fossil evidence is open to many interpretations because individual specimens can be reconstructed in a variety of ways, and because the fossil record cannot establish ancestor-descendant relationships." 23
But this doesn't stop the Darwinists. Since Darwinism has to be true because of their prior philosophical commitment, Darwinists have to find evidence supporting it. So instead of admitting that fossils can't establish ancestral relationships, Darwinists take the one percent that fossils tell them and then use the other 99 percent of leeway to depict their fossil discoveries as filling any gap they want. With such vast leeway and no facts to constrain them, Darwinists have been free to creatively build entire "missing links" from fossil remains as trivial as a single tooth. This is why many so-called "missing links" have later been exposed as frauds or mistakes. 24 Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature, writes, "To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific."25
Not only is the fossil record inadequate to establish ancestral relationships; in light of what we now know about the irreducibly complex nature of biological systems, the fossil record is irrelevant to the question. The similarity of structure or anatomy between types (sometimes called homology) also tells us nothing about common ancestry. Michael Behe writes:
"Anatomy is, quite simply, irrelevant to the question of whether evolution could take place on the molecular level. So is the fossil record. It no longer matters whether there are huge gaps in the fossil record or whether the record is as continuous as that of .U.S. presidents. And if there are gaps, it does not matter whether they can be explained plausibly. The fossil record has nothing to tell us about whether the interactions of 11-cts-retinal with rhodopsin, transducin, and phosphodiesterase [irreducibly complex systems] could have developed step-by-step." 26
So, according to Behe, biology dwarfs anatomy on the question of the plausibility of macroevolution. Just as the contents of a book provide far more information than its cover, the biology of a creature provides far more information than its skeletal structure. Nevertheless, Darwinists have long argued that similarity of structure between, say, apes and humans is evidence of common ancestry (or common descent). Does it ever dawn on them that similarity of structure may he evidence of a common designer rather than a common ancestor?11 After all, in a world governed by certain physical and chemical laws, perhaps only a certain range of anatomical structures will be conducive to animals designed to walk on two legs. Since we all have to live in the same biosphere, we should expect some creatures to have similar designs.
Moreover, while apes may have a similar structure to humans, what is often overlooked is the fact that apes and humans bear almost no resemblance to snakes, fungus, and trees. But according to Darwinism, all living things have evolved from the same ancestor. To posit Darwinism, you must be able to explain the vast dissimilarity between living things. You must explain how the palm tree, the peacock, the octopus, the locust, the bat, the hippopotamus, the porcupine, the sea horse, the Venus flytrap, the human, and mildew, for example, have all descended from the first irreducibly complex life without intelligent intervention. You also have to explain how the first life and the universe came into existence as well. Without viable explanations, which Darwinists have failed to provide, it takes too much faith to be a Darwinist. And that's why we don't have enough faith to be Darwinists.
Is Intelligent Design an Intelligent Alternative?
Much more could be said about macroevolution, but space does not permit us to go any further. Nevertheless, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn from the data we have investigated in this chapter. In light of the fossil record, molecular isolation, transitional difficulties, irreducible complexity, cyclical change, and genetic limits (and the fact that they can't explain the origin of the universe or of first life), you would think Darwinists might finally admit that their theory doesn't fit the observable evidence. Instead, Darwinists are still providing unsubstantiated "just-so" stories that actually contradict scientific observation. They continue to insist that evolution is a fact, fact, fact!
We agree that evolution is a fact, but not in the sense the Darwinists mean it. If you define evolution as "change," then certainly living beings have evolved. But this evolution is on the micro, not the macro level. As we have seen, there's not only a lack of evidence for macroevolution; there's positive evidence that it has not occurred.
If macroevolution isn't true, then what is? Well, if there's no natural explanation for the origin of new life forms, then there must be an intelligent explanation. It's the only other option. There's no halfway house between intelligence and nonintelligence. Either intelligence was involved or it wasn't. But Darwinists don't like this option. So once they exhaust their ability to adequately defend their own position with unbiased scientific evidence (which is very quickly), Darwinists typically turn their guns on the Intelligent Design people—those of us who believe there's intelligence behind the universe and life. Here are their typical objections and our responses: 28
Objection: Intelligent Design is not science.
Answer: As we have seen, science is a search for causes, and there are only two types of causes: intelligent and nonintelligent (natural). The Darwinists' claim that Intelligent Design is not science is based on their biased definition of science. But that's arguing in a circle! If your definition of science rules out intelligent causes beforehand, then you'll never consider Intelligent Design science.
The irony for the Darwinists is this: if Intelligent Design is not science, then neither is Darwinism. Why? Because both Darwinists and Intelligent Design scientists are trying to discover what happened in the past. Origin questions are forensic questions, and thus require the use of the forensic science principles we already have discussed. In fact, for Darwinists to rule out Intelligent Design from the realm of science, in addition to ruling out themselves they would also have to rule out archaeology, cryptology, criminal and accident forensic investigations, and the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). These are all legitimate forensic sciences that look into the past for intelligent causes. Something must be wrong with the Darwinists' definition of science.
Table 6.2 shows the difference between empirical science and forensic science:
Empirical (Operation) Science
Studies how things work
Tested by repeatable experiment
Asks how something operates
How does water fall?
How does rock erode?
How does an engine work?
How does ink adhere to paper?
How does life function?
How does the universe operate?
Forensic (Origin) Science
Studies how things began
Tested by uniformity
Asks what its origin is
What's the origin of a hydroelectric plant?
What's the origin of Mount Rushmore?
What's the origin of an engine?
What's the origin of this book?
What's the origin of life?
What's the origin of the universe?
Objection: Intelligent Design commits the God-of-the-Gaps fallacy.
Answer: The God-of-the-Gaps fallacy occurs when someone falsely believes that God caused the event when it really was caused by undiscovered natural phenomena. For example, people used to believe that lightning was caused directly by God. There was a gap in our knowledge of nature, so we attributed the effect to God. Darwinists assert that theists are doing the same thing by claiming that God created the universe and life. Are they correct? No, for a number of reasons.
First, when we conclude that intelligence created the first cell or the human brain, it's not simply because we lack evidence of a natural explanation; it's also because we have positive, empirically detectable evidence for an intelligent cause. A message (specified complexity) is empirically detectable. "When we detect a message-—like "Take out the garbage—Mom" or 1,000 encyclopedias-—-we know that it must come from an intelligent being because all of our observational experience tells us that messages come only from intelligent beings. Every time we observe a message, it comes from an intelligent being. We couple this data with the fact that we never observe natural laws creating messages, and we know an intelligent being must be the cause. That's a valid scientific conclusion based on observation and repetition. It's not an argument from ignorance, nor is it based on any "gap" in our knowledge.
Second, Intelligent Design scientists are open to both natural and intelligent causes. They are not opposed to continued research into a natural explanation for the first life. They're simply observing that all known natural explanations fail, and all empirically detectable evidence points to an intelligent Designer.
Now, one can question the wisdom of continuing to look for a natural cause of life. William Dembski, who has published extensive research on Intelligent Design, asks, "When does determination [to find a natural cause] become pigheadedness? . . . How long are we to continue a search before we have the right to give up the search and declare not only that continuing the search is vain but also that the very object of the search is nonexistent? " 29
Consider the implications of Dembski's question. Should we keep looking for a natural cause for phenomena like Mount Rushmore or messages like "Take out the garbage-—Mom"? When is the case closed?
Walter Bradley, a coauthor of the seminal work The Mystery of Life's Origin, believes "there doesn't seem to be the potential of finding a [natural explanation]" for the origin of life. He added, "I think people who believe that life emerged naturalistically need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there's an Intelligent Designer." 30
Regardless of whether or not you think we should keep looking for a natural explanation, the main point is that ID scientists are open to both natural and intelligent causes. It just so happens that an intelligent cause best fits the evidence.
Third, the Intelligent Design conclusion is falsifiable. In other words, ID could be disproven if natural laws were someday discovered to create specified complexity. However, the same cannot be said about the Darwinist position. Darwinists don't allow falsification of their "creation story" because, as we have described, they don't allow any other creation story to be considered. Their "science" is not tentative or open to correction; it's more closed-minded than the most dogmatic church doctrine the Darwinists are so apt to criticize.
Finally, it's actually the Darwinists who are committing a God-of the-Gaps fallacy. Darwin himself was once accused of considering natural selection "an active power or Deity" (see chapter 4 of Origin of Species). But it seems that natural selection actually is the deity or "God of the Gaps" for the Darwinists of today. When they are totally at a loss for how irreducibly complex, information-rich biological systems came into existence, they simply cover their gap in knowledge by claiming that natural selection, time, and chance did it.
The ability of such a mechanism to create information-rich biological systems runs counter to the observational evidence. Mutations are nearly always harmful, and time and chance do the Darwinists no good, as we explained in chapter 5. At best, natural selection may be responsible for minor changes in living species, but it cannot explain the origin of the basic forms of life. You need a living thing to start with for any natural selection to take place. Yet, despite the obvious problems with their mechanism, Darwinists insist that it covers any gap in their knowledge. Moreover, they willfully ignore the positive, empirically detectable evidence for an intelligent being. This is not science but the dogma of a secular religion. Darwinists, like the opponents of Galileo, are letting their religion overrule scientific observations!
Objection: Intelligent Design is religiously motivated. Answer: There are two aspects to this objection. The first is that some Intelligent Design people may be religiously motivated. So what? Does that make Intelligent Design false? Does the religious motivation of some Darwinists make Darwinism false? No, the truth doesn't lie in the motivation of the scientists, but in the quality of the evidence. A scientist's motivation or bias doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong. He could have a bias and still be right. Bias or motivation isn't the main issue— truth is.
Sometimes the objection is stated this way: "You can't believe anything he says about origins because he's a creationist!" Well, if the sword cuts at all, it cuts both ways. We could just as easily say, "You can't believe anything he says about origins because he's a Darwinist!"
Why are creationist conclusions immediately thought to be biased but Darwinist conclusions automatically considered objective? Because most people don't realize that atheists have a worldview just like creationists. As we are seeing, the atheist's worldview is not neutral and actually requires more faith than the creationist's.
Now, as we have said earlier, if philosophical or religious biases prevent someone from interpreting the evidence correctly, then we would have grounds for questioning that person's conclusions. In the current debate, that problem seems to afflict Darwinists more than anyone else. Yet, the main point is that even if someone is motivated by religion or philosophy, their conclusions can be corrected by an honest look at the evidence. Scientists on both sides of the fence may have a difficult time being neutral, but if they have integrity, they can be objective.
The second aspect of this objection is the charge that Intelligent Design people don't have any evidence for their view-—'they're simply parroting what the Bible says.' This aspect of the objection doesn't work either. Intelligent Design beliefs may be consistent with the Bible, but they are not based on the Bible. As we have seen, Intelligent Design is a conclusion based on empirically detectable evidence, not sacred texts. As Michael Behe observes, "Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent activity. The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself—not from sacred books or sectarian beliefs." 31
Intelligent Design is not "creation science" either. Intelligent Design scientists don't make claims that so-called "creation scientists" make. They don't say that the data unambiguously supports the six-twenty-four-hour-day view of Genesis, or a worldwide flood. Instead, they acknowledge that the data for Intelligent Design is not based on a specific age or geologic history of the earth. ID scientists study the same objects in nature that the Darwinists study—life and the universe itself— but they come to a more reasonable conclusion about the cause of those objects. In short, regardless of what the Bible may say on the topic, Darwinism is rejected because it doesn't fit the scientific data, and Intelligent Design is accepted because it does.
Objection: Intelligent Design is false because the so-called design isn't perfect.
Answer: Darwinists have long argued that if a designer existed, he would have designed his creatures better. Stephen Jay Gould pointed this out in his book The Panda's Thumb, where he cited the apparent sub-optimal design of a bony extrusion pandas have for a thumb.
The problem for the Darwinists is that this actually turns out to be an argument for a designer rather than an argument against one. First, the fact that Gould can identify something as sub-optimal design implies that he knows what optimal design is. You can't know something is imperfect unless you know what perfect is. So Gould's observation of even sub-optimal design implies an admission that design is detectable in the panda's thumb. (By the way, this is another reason the Darwinists are wrong when they assert that Intelligent Design is not science. When they claim something isn't designed correctly, they are implying they could tell if it were designed correctly. This proves what ID scientists have been saying all along—ID is science because design is empirically detectable.)
Second, sub-optimal design doesn't mean there's no design. In other words, even if you grant that something is not designed optimally, that doesn't mean it's not designed at all. Your car isn't designed optimally, yet it's still designed—-it certainly wasn't put together by natural laws.
Third, in order to say that something is sub-optimal, you must know what the objectives or purpose of the designer are. If Gould doesn't know what the designer intended, then he can't say the design falls short of those intentions. How does Gould know the panda's thumb isn't exactly what the designer had in mind? Gould assumes the panda should have opposable thumbs like those of humans. But maybe the designer wanted the panda's thumbs to be just like they are. After all, the panda's thumb works just fine in allowing him to strip bamboo down to its edible interior. Maybe pandas don't need opposable thumbs because they don't need to write books like Gould; they simply need to strip bamboo. Gould can't fault the designer of that thumb if it wasn't intended to do more than strip bamboo.
Finally, in a world constrained by physical reality, all design requires trade-offs. Laptop computers must strike a balance between size, weight, and performance. Larger cars may be more safe and comfortable, but they also are more difficult to maneuver and consume more fuel. High ceilings make rooms more dramatic, but they also consume more energy. Because trade-offs cannot be avoided in this world, engineers must look for a compromise position that best achieves intended objectives. For example, you can't fault the design in a compact car because it doesn't carry fifteen passengers. The objective is to carry four not fifteen passengers. The carmaker traded size for fuel economy and achieved the intended objective. Likewise, it could be that the design of the panda's thumb is a trade-off that still achieves intended objectives. The thumb is just right for stripping bamboo. Perhaps, if the thumb had been designed any other way, it would have hindered the panda in some other area. We simply don't know without knowing the objectives of the designer. What we do know is that Gould's criticisms cannot succeed without knowing those objectives.
So Why Are There Still Darwinists?
If the evidence is so strong for Intelligent Design, then why are there still Darwinists? After all, these people are not dummies-—their names are usually followed by the letters Ph.D.!
The first thing to note is that this is not just an intellectual issue where Darwinists take a dispassionate look at the evidence and then make a rational conclusion. Richard Dawkins has famously written, "It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I'd rather not consider that)." 32 Of course, Dawkins's comment is simply false. There are brilliant Ph.D's who believe in Intelligent Design. But the real question is, Why the invectives? Why the emotion? Why the hostility? I thought this was science. There must be something else at stake here.
There is. Let's go back to Richard Lewontin's quote from the last chapter. Recall his assertion that Darwinists believe in the absurdities they do because "materialism is absolute. For we cannot allow a divine foot in the door." Now, that's the real issue. Keeping God out. But why would Darwinists not want a "divine foot in the door"? We suggest four major reasons.
First, by admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they are not the highest authority when it comes to truth. Currently, in this technologically advanced world, scientists are viewed by the public as the revered authority figures—the new priests who make a better life possible and who comprise the sole source of objective truth. Allowing the possibility of God would be to relinquish their claim of superior authority.
Second, by admitting God, Darwinists would be admitting that they don't have absolute authority when it comes to explaining causes. In other words, if God exists, they couldn't explain every event as the result of predictable natural laws. Richard Lewontin put it this way: "To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen."33 As Jastrow noted, when that happens, "the scientist has lost control," certainly to God, and perhaps to the theologian. 34
Third, by admitting God, Darwinists would risk losing financial security and professional admiration. How so? Because there's tremendous pressure in the academic community to publish something that supports evolution. Find something important, and you may find yourself on the cover of National Geographic or the subject of a PBS special. Find nothing, and you may find yourself out of a job, out of grant money, or at least out of favor with your materialist colleagues. So there's a money, job security, and prestige motive to advance the Darwinian worldview.
Finally, and perhaps the most significantly, by admitting God,
Darwinists would be admitting that they don't have the authority to define right and wrong for themselves. By ruling out the supernatural, Darwinists can avoid the possibility that anything is morally prohibited. For if there is no God, everything is lawful, as a character in a Dostoevsky novel observed. 35 (We'll elaborate on the connection between God and morality in the next chapter).
In fact, the late Julian Huxley, once a leader among Darwinists, admitted that sexual freedom is a popular motivation behind evolutionary dogma. When he was asked by talk show host Merv Griffin, "Why do people believe in evolution?" Huxley honestly answered, "The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn't want God to interfere with our sexual mores." 36 Notice, he didn't cite evidence for spontaneous generation or evidence from the fossil record. The motivation he observed to be prevalent among evolutionists was based on moral preferences, not scientific evidence.
Former atheist Lee Strobel reveals that he had the same motivation when he believed in Darwinism. He writes, "I was more than happy to latch onto Darwinism as an excuse to jettison the idea of God so I could unabashedly pursue my own agenda in life without moral constraints. " 37
Author and lecturer Ron Carlson has had Darwinists admit the same to him. On one such occasion, after lecturing at a major university on the problems with Darwinism and the evidence for Intelligent Design, Carlson had dinner with a biology professor who had attended his presentation.
"So what did you think of my lecture?" Carlson asked.
"Well, Ron," began the professor, "what you say is true and makes a lot of sense. But I'm gonna continue to teach Darwinism anyway."
Carlson was baffled. "Why would you do that?" he asked.
"Well, to be honest with you, Ron, it's because Darwinism is morally comfortable."
"Morally comfortable? What do you mean?" Carlson pressed.
"I mean if Darwinism is true—if there is no God and we all evolved from slimy green algae—then I can sleep with whomever I want," observed the professor. "In Darwinism, there's no moral accountability." 38
Now that's a moment of complete candor. Of course, this is not to say that all Darwinists think this way or that all Darwinists are immoral-—some undoubtedly live morally better lives than many so-called Christians. It simply reveals that some Darwinists are motivated not by the evidence but rather by a desire to remain free from the perceived moral restraints of God. This motivation may drive them to suppress the evidence for the Creator so they can continue to live the way they want to live. (In this sense, Darwinism is no different than many other world religions in that it provides a way to deal with the guilt that results from immoral behavior. The difference is that some Darwinists, instead of acknowledging guilt and offering ways to atone for it or rules to avoid it, attempt to avoid any implication of guilt by asserting that there's no such thing as immoral behavior to be guilty about!)
These four motivations that we've suggested should not surprise us. Sex and power are the motivators that underlie many of our most intense cultural debates, such as those about abortion and homosexuality. Too often people take positions in those debates that merely line up with their personal desires rather than taking the evidence into account.
In the same way, belief in Darwinism is often a matter of the will rather than the mind. Sometimes people refuse to accept what they know to be true because of the impact it will have on their personal lives. This explains why some Darwinists suggest such absurd "counterintuitive'' explanations—explanations that are "against common sense." Despite the plain evidence for design, these Darwinists fear encroachment of God into their personal lives more than they fear being wrong about their scientific conclusions.
This is not to say that all Darwinists have such motivations for their beliefs. Some may truly believe that the scientific evidence supports their theory. We think they get this misconception because most Darwinists rarely study the research of those in other fields. As a result, very few get the big picture.
This is especially true of biologists. Molecular and cell biologist Jonathan Wells observes, "Most biologists are honest, hard-working scientists who insist on accurate presentation of the evidence, but who rarely venture outside their own fields." 39 In other words, although they do honest work, they only see their own piece of the puzzle. Since they've been taught that the Darwinian box top of the puzzle is generally true (it's just those pesky details that remain unresolved), most biologists interpret their piece of the puzzle with that box top in mind, giving the order arose from chaos (the design of the universe).
Life arose from non-life (which means that intelligence arose from nonintelligence, and personality arose from non-personality).
New life forms arose from existing life forms despite evidence to the contrary such as:
Nonviability of transitional forms, and
The fossil record
Okay, so the evidence is not good for macroevolution. But what about theistic macroevolution? Perhaps what can't be explained naturally makes good sense if you add God to the picture.
Why suggest that? If there were evidence for God and for macroevolution, then there might be a reason to combine the two. But, as we have seen, there is no evidence that macroevolution has occurred. It's not like you have contradictory evidence: some evidence that points to macroevolution, and other evidence that disproves it. If you had, say, a fossil record with millions of transitional forms on one hand, but irreducibly complex creatures on another, then perhaps you could suggest that God guided evolution through those unbridgeable gaps. But since that is not the case, it seems that God wasn't needed to guide macroevolution because there's no evidence macroevolution has occurred!
Finally, let's look at the evidence with another question in mind: "What would the evidence have to look like for creation (Intelligent Design) to be true? How about:
A universe that has exploded into being out of nothing
A universe with over 100 fine-tuned, life-enabling constants for this tiny, remote planet called Earth
* has been observed to arise only from existing life (it has never been observed to arise spontaneously);
* consists of thousands and even millions of volumes of empirically detectable specified complexity (and is, therefore, more than just the nonliving chemicals it contains);
* changes cyclically and only within a limited range;
* cannot be built or modified gradually (i.e., is irreducibly complex);
* is molecularly isolated between basic types (there's no ancestral progression at the molecular level);
* leaves a fossil record of fully formed creatures that appear suddenly, do not change, and then disappear suddenly.
An honest look at the facts suggests creation, not macroevolution, is true. As we have seen, atheists have to work really hard not to conclude the obvious. That's why they need to have a lot more faith than we do.
Finally, we have a proposal to help resolve the debate in this country over what should be taught in the public schools regarding creation and evolution. What would be wrong with teaching them what we've just covered in chapters 3 to 6?Notice we haven't been quoting Bible verses to make our points. We've been citing scientific evidence. So this isn't a battle of science versus religion; it's a battle of good science versus bad science. Right now, most of our children are being taught bad science because they're being taught evolution only. It doesn't have to be that way. What would be unconstitutional about teaching the SURGE evidence, showing them the complexity of the simplest life, making the distinctions between micro- and macroevolution and between forensic and empirical science, or exposing the problems with macroevolution? Nothing. So why do we continue to indoctrinate our children in a flawed and crumbling theory that is based more on philosophical presuppositions than on scientific observations? Why don't we give our children all the scientific evidence—pro and con-—-and let them make up their own minds? After all, shouldn't we be teaching them how to think critically on their own? Of course we should. But Darwinists will go to great lengths to ensure that that doesn't happen. Darwinists would rather suppress the evidence than allow it to be presented fairly. Why? Because this is the one area where Darwinists lack faith—they lack the faith to believe that their theory will still be believed after our children see all the evidence.
WELL EVOLUTIONISTS STICK THAT IN YOUR PIPE AND SMOKE IT!!
TO BE CONTINUED