“Exposing Darwinism to possible falsification would not imply support for any other theory … falsification is not a defeat for science, but a liberation. It removes the dead weight of prejudice, and thereby frees us to look for the truth.”
- Phillip Johnson, Professor of Law, U.C. Berkeley
Phillip Johnson, in his latest book Darwin on Trial, points to dogmatic scientists, rather than empirical evidence, for perpetuating the theory of evolution. Lack of an alternative theory and fear of giving in to creationist’s claims are the reasons many refuse to consider the fallibility of Darwinism.
During a recent lecture at the University of Florida, Johnson argued that evolutionists fight attacks on Darwin with the fervency of a religious zealot, “because it takes more faith to believe in evolution than creation science.” Based on their faith that the mechanism of evolution is a foregone conclusion, these scientists have abandoned the scientific method articulated by Karl Popper. According to Johnson, it is a strong faith and a disregard for empirical science which has enabled Darwin’s theories to remain credible.
In Darwin’s The Origin of the Species, the first theory he presented was that “the species are not immutable.” Through mutations, Darwin contended that new species have appeared by a natural process called “descent with modification.” His second proposal was that this process could account for nearly all of the diversity of life, because all living things have a common ancestor, and that this process was guided by natural selection or “survival of the fittest.”
Darwin wrote that random, genetic mutations occur which allow the owner an advantage over its fellow members of the same species. This slightly superior creature then passes on the mutated gene to its offspring who, like their parent, are now somehow better suited to the environment. Eventually, these mutated specimens become more numerous than their ancestors because of their beneficial evolution. As a result of several million plus of these mutations, over millions of years we reach the pinnacle of evolution, Homo sapiens.
Aware of the need for empirical evidence, but having none, Darwin made an analogy to back up his claim. He pointed to plant and animal breeders who have been able to alter the characteristics of dogs, chicken, and sheep. On its face this explanation seems plausible until Darwin’s original point is reviewed. Darwin argued against any purpose of intelligence behind the evolutionary process. However, it is only through thousands of years of careful, purposeful, and intelligent breeding that such a variety of dogs exists today. It is through intelligence and foresight, not chance, that rottweilers and terriers are discernibly different. Johnson notes that by “citing accomplishments of intelligent designers proves only that the receptive audience for his theory was highly uncritical.”
Darwin’s theory of mutations was accepted with an equal amount of imprudence. Darwin stated: “Natural selection can act only by the preservation and accumulation of infinitesimally small inherited modifications, each profitable to the preserved being …” The last phrase of that theory is where the trouble begins, “each profitable to the preserved being.” Supposing that birds evolved from reptiles, as many Darwinists do, one must accept that through many “small and inherited modifications” reptiles sprouted feathers and wings. Simply believing that over millions of years small mutations transformed the scaly, terrestrial, cold blooded creatures into warm blooded riders of thermal air currents is easy. Proving it is not.
How did these small mutations toward the designs of flight benefit reptiles? Arguing that a lizard somehow profited by the addition of small nubs after the first mutation toward wings is ludicrous. Yet many scientists, in an attempt to defend the second half of Darwin’s statement, contend that such baggage would help an already efficient design. Considering a lizard’s primary defenses, camouflage and speed, it is difficult to dream up a way these appendages would give the mutant any advantage over its siblings.
Another hurdle of the reptile to bird jump is the avian lung. Unlike any other species on the planet, a bird’s lung only allows air to flow in one direction. Michael Denton, author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, although a devout atheist, recognizes evolution’s many shortcomings:
“Just how such a different respiratory system could have evolved gradually from the standard vertebrate design is fantastically difficult to envisage, especially bearing in mind that the maintenance of respiratory function is absolutely vital to the life of an organism to the extent that the slightest malfunction leads to death within minutes. Just as the feather cannot function as an organ of flight until the hooks and barbules are co-adapted to fit together perfectly, so the avian lung cannot function as an organ of respiration until the parabronchi system which permeates it and the air sac system which guarantees the parabronchi their air supply are both highly developed and able to function together in a perfectly integrated manner.”
Johnson’s opinion that such mutations are an absurdity is not unique, as the atheist Denton attests. Johnson believes the most glaring evidence denouncing Darwinism is located in the fossil record. According to Darwin’s descent with modification millions upon millions of micromutations, each profitable, allowed new species to form. Unfortunately for Darwin the fossil record tells a different story. While Darwin believed that “the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great,” he would later state that the fossil record was “the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”
Faithful to his believe, Darwin later blamed the imperfections of the record for the absence of intermediates. He argued that fossil formations, being only snapshots of history, were formed when no intermediaries existed. Darwin himself realized the extent to which nature was obstinate towards his theory: “Nature may almost be said to have guarded against the frequent discovery of her transitional or linking forms.”
Johnson suggests that there are no transitional forms, as the evidence to date suggests. Darwinists, however, believe otherwise, and fill in the gaps with macromutations, the likes of which Darwin himself refuted.
“If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish … I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.”
The second major problem the fossil record poses for evolutionists are two features which characterize all findings: stasis and sudden appearance.
Stephen Jay Gould, the best known defender of Darwinism today, recognizes these findings to be inconsistent with evolution:
1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty 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 occurrence of mutations but is suddenly transformed.
Although Gould is an evolutionist, he sounds like a creationist when he reports the evidence of the fossil record.
Probably the most damning evidence addition to the plight of Darwinism is the “Cambrian explosion.” From the rocks of this era paleontologists have found nearly every animal phyla and no evolutionary ancestors. The evidence says that during the Cambrian era nearly every animal phyla not only existed, but appeared suddenly.
Richard Dawkins, noted Oxford zoologist and atheist, attests to the sudden emergence of animals in the Cambrian record. “It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.” This is what creationists like Johnson have been saying all along.
By reporting empirical scientific findings Dawkins, Gould, and Denton are effectively wrecking Darwin’s theory. The question which must be answered is why do scientists continue to develop new theories to satisfy Darwinism and the evidence? When a large body of contradictory knowledge is discovered over time, the original theory is discarded, and the search begins for a new theory, which allows for the new findings. This is not the case for evolutionary theory however. The new evidence, as Gould’s colleague Niles Eldredge explains, is simply dismissed as “no results.”
“Each new generation, it seems, produces a few young paleontologists eager to document examples of evolutionary change in their fossils. The changes they have always looked for have, of course, been of the gradual, progressive sort. More often than not their efforts have gone unrewarded – their fossils, rather than exhibiting the expected pattern, just seem to persist virtually unchanged … This extraordinary conservatism looked, to the paleontologist keen on finding evolutionary change, as if no evolution had occurred. Thus studies documenting conservative persistence rather than gradual evolutionary change were considered failures, and, more often than not, were not even published. Most paleontologists were aware of the stability, their lack of change we call stasis … But insofar as evolution itself is concerned, paleontologists usually saw stasis as ‘no results’ rather than as a contradiction of the prediction of gradual, progressive evolutionary change.”
The time has come for the Darwinian community to stop making excuses for evolution. They should return to Popper’s scientific method of analyzing the facts on hand before accepting a one hundred year old theory as a foregone conclusion.