While I was on vacation last week my daughter and I went into NYC and one of the places we visited was the Museum of Natural History. As we were walking around, I couldn’t help but reflect that if Neo-Darwinians set out to self-consciously build a Neo-Darwinian Cathedral, it would be the Museum of Natural History.
Everywhere you looked the displays and exhibits put evolution and materialism front and center. It was almost as though the curators wanted to make absolutely sure that anyone entering into the building might have a chance to take in the materialist gospel – “from nothing, came everything, and to nothing, everything shall return.” This was glaringly apparent in displays like “The Hall of Human Origins” which supposedly traces
“the remarkable history of human evolution from our earliest ancestors millions of years ago to modern Homo sapiens.”
and the Hayden planetarium, which rather than giving us a view of the majesty of the universe as it is, instead takes visitors on a fantasy-land ride through the universe as the Neo-Darwinian faithful believe it was built (or more correctly, randomly assembled):
“The bottom half of the Hayden Sphere houses the Big Bang, where visitors will be transported to the beginning of time and space, experiencing a dramatic, multisensory re-creation of the first moments of the universe. From here, visitors continue on an awe-inspiring journey that chronicles the evolution of the universe by following the Harriet and Robert Heilbrunn Cosmic Pathway — a sloping walkway that takes them through 13 billion years of cosmic evolution.”
Even a display on the amazing history of the horse couldn’t help but highlight the supposed evolution of the horse from other creatures.
But what is never pointed out to the visitor are the gaps, the guesses, the blind-leaps, and the overwhelming mass of data that contradicts the totally outdated assumptions of the Neo-Darwinians. In short, the museum doesn’t let on that what it is really doing is pedaling a self-contradictory and increasingly intolerant faith. The Neo-Darwinians and the forces behind this God denying movement (Romans 1:18-32, Eph. 6:11) have a vested interest in not doing so. But pastors, elders, and parents have a responsibility to the lambs that Christ has entrusted to expose Neo-Darwinianism for what it is, because Neo-Darwinianism is not science, but a false faith that is as resistant to questioning and critique as the Roman church in the middle-ages ever was. The purpose of this post, therefore, is merely to point out a few of the more glaring errors in the Neo-Darwinian matrix and then recommend some good resources so that OSP pastors and elders might equip their congregations and be informed themselves.
First, lets deal with the theory of “phyletic gradualism.” Whether or not you know what that is, you can’t go into the American Museum of Natural History without seeing it in chart after chart of supposed chains that indicate how a presently living species developed from another earlier species. Usually, the chains are drawn by making connections between fossil animals that have similar features. A few species are found that resemble another species and then there are speculations that this is an “ancestor.” Scientifically, this is the equivalent of finding a Camaro in the junk yard at one level in a stack, and a Corvette beneath it and speculating that the Camaro developed from the Corvette based on functional similarities between the two.
If evolution were working according to the traditional hypothesis referred to as “phyletic gradualism” presupposed by Darwin, we would see an easily discernable pattern of chains in the fossil beds, as species clearly “mutated” into other species. This however is not what we find, and even evolutionary paleontologists are aware of it. For instance, the following quotes are from Niles Eldredge and Stephen J. Gould, both paleontologists and supporters of evolution:
“No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of changeover millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” (Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate, 1996)
“It is, indeed, a very curious state of affairs, I think, that paleontologists have been insisting that their record is consistent with slow, steady, gradual evolution where I think that privately, they’ve known for over a hundred years that such is not the case.” (Eldredge, “Did Darwin Get It Wrong?” Nova 11/1/81))
“Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study. …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 I 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.’” (Gould, The Panda’s Thumb, 1980)
“Most families, orders, classes, and phyla appear rather suddenly in the fossil record, often without anatomically intermediate forms smoothly interlinking evolutionarily derived descendant taxa with their presumed ancestors.” (Eldredge, Macro-Evolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, and Adaptive Peaks, 1989)
Then there is the famous Cambrian Explosion, or what some scientists call “the Biological Big Bang”, that would be the death knell of phyletic gradualism if Neo-Darwinianism rested on data and not blind faith:
“The “Cambrian explosion” refers to the geologically sudden appearance of many new animal body plans about 530 million years ago. At this time, at least nineteen, and perhaps as many as thirty-five phyla of forty total (Meyer et al. 2003), made their first appearance on earth within a narrow five- to ten-million-year window of geologic time (Bowring et al. 1993, 1998a:1, 1998b:40; Kerr 1993; Monastersky 1993; Aris-Brosou & Yang 2003). Many new subphyla, between 32 and 48 of 56 total (Meyer et al. 2003), and classes of animals also arose at this time with representatives of these new higher taxa manifesting significant morphological innovations. The Cambrian explosion thus marked a major episode of morphogenesis in which many new and disparate organismal forms arose in a geologically brief period of time.
To say that the fauna of the Cambrian period appeared in a geologically sudden manner also implies the absence of clear transitional intermediate forms connecting Cambrian animals with simpler pre-Cambrian forms. And, indeed, in almost all cases, the Cambrian animals have no clear morphological antecedents in earlier Vendian or Precambrian fauna (Miklos 1993, Erwin et al. 1997:132, Steiner & Reitner 2001, Conway Morris 2003b:510, Valentine et al. 2003:519-520). Further, several recent discoveries and analyses suggest that these morphological gaps may not be merely an artifact of incomplete sampling of the fossil record (Foote 1997, Foote et al. 1999, Benton & Ayala 2003, Meyer et al. 2003), suggesting that the fossil record is at least approximately reliable (Conway Morris 2003b:505).” (Meyer, PROCEEDINGS OF THE BIOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WASHINGTON, 117(2):213-239. 2004, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”)
What paleontologists like Gould and Eldredge have have realized is that rather than showing a gradual progress of one species to another, the fossil record shows not the development, but the existence of complex biological structures with no record of earlier “transitional” structures.
“Stepping way back and looking at too broad a scale, one might discern some sort of progress in life’s history. …But the pattern dissolves upon close inspection. Most structural complexity entered in a grand burst at the Cambrian explosion, and the history of Phanerozoic life since then has largely been a tale of endless variation upon a set Bauplane. We may discern a few ‘vectors’ of directional change – thickening and ornamentation of shells…–but these are scarcely the stuff of progress in its usual sense.” (Gould, “The Paradox of the First Tier: an Agenda for Paleobiology,” Paleobiology, 1985)
Regarding why Neo-Darwinians are so tied to theories that are actually disproved by the evidence, Gould (who was himself an anti-theist) noted in his famous essay “Darwinian Fundamentalism” the distressing fact that Neo-Darwinianism had been transformed from a Scientific theory into the new unshakable faith of the present age. He and his colleagues criticized the willingness of educational establishments to continue teaching portions of Darwinian evolution that had long since been scrapped, as well as their unwillingness to embrace modern theories such as the “wonderful monster” concept of change via simultaneous rapid mutations (Punctuated Equilibrium). In fact, although he held creationists in utter contempt, he too was embarassed by the tendency of text-book publishers to print pictures of hypothetical “transitional life forms” that no fossil evidence has ever uncovered and which are biologically untenable.
For instance, Gould and many other paleontologists were only too well aware that a structure in-between an arm and a wing that was actually neither, made for a life-form that even under the concept of “survival of the fitest” would be “deleted.” As most modern paleontologists point out, we have fossil arms and we have fossil wings, we have fossil arms and fossil flippers, but no transitional forms in between. They’ve generally given up on searching for biologically untenable “links” and because design and creation are immediately ruled out (materialism is after all the ruling philosophy in the academy) as possibilities, they have generated a series of increasingly bizarre and unlikely theories such as punctuated equilibrium which speculates that at some point a lizard gave birth to a bird, and said bird found another similar mutant and the bird species began. At some point you have to step back and scratch your head and say, “and we Christians are the kooks because we believe God made birds and lizards?”
So the fossil record far from proving Neo-Darwinianism actually does the opposite. Darwinians always assumed they would find “transitional life forms” showing the development of one species into another. They haven’t, and in fact, recent digs particularly in the Cambrian strata in China are showing that the classic Darwinian tree, which went from a single common ancestor to an increasing diversity of life is actually upside-down. As we’ve mentioned there was a sudden “explosion” of life in the Cambrian period, and much less diversity afterwards, in other words, there are fewer and fewer lifeforms as one goes up the tree, not more and more. The fossil record tells us that species became extinct, but it doesn’t tell us new ones evolved from the existing ones. All the assumptions, taken on faith, by Darwinian scientists in the 19th century have failed to pan out in the fossil record.
But even more damaging to the Neo-Darwinian faith are the advances in DNA research and Biochemistry, areas that Darwin had no knowledge of and which are proving antithetical to his theories. The discoveries in these fields are showing to the chagrin of Darwinians that there is no natural mechanism for ADDING information to the DNA sequence that would allow, for instance, for a change of species. What this means is that while we can tinker with DNA in a lab, “nature” simply doesn’t have a mechanism for changing DNA in the way that would allow for Flatworms to become Field Mice. It simply can’t be done, and it doesn’t matter how much time or mutation one posits.
Proteins are made up of long complex chains of organic chemicals called “amino acids”, various proteins are brought together to form structures within cells each of which has a highly complex role to play – they are in essence the “engines” of the cell, the composition of these amino acid chains is determined by the information contained in DNA. It is the DNA code that instructs the cellular machines that put together the Amino acid chains in what order they are to go. Nothing in Darwin’s theory can account for the creation of the information in DNA or, most importantly, how amino acids were assembled in the correct order to form proteins prior to the creation of DNA. Proteins cannot precede the DNA necessary to construct them and inorganic chemicals cannot create information.
Also, natural selection cannot occur without the driving force of life and death and thus “genetic favoritism” and gradual change. What this means is that prior to the existence of life-forms Neo-Darwinianism lacks an engine to drive it. Natural selection actually presumes the existence of at least cellular life-forms before it can operate. So it cannot explain the combination of organic chemicals or even their creation.
Thus the “Deus Ex Machina” that powers Neo-Darwinian theory, natural selection, cannot account for the formation of life from non-life or the formation of actual information. Which means that while Genesis 1-2 can account for the creation of life, Neo-Darwinianism cannot.
Obviously this is only a very brief sketch of the information out there, and I present it merely to hopefully whet your appetite for your own studies. The following are a few links which I hope will be of value to you as you train-up your own flock, there are many more I could list, but this should be enough to get you started. Our congregation has used the videos below as part of series on understanding and refuting non-Christian worldviews:
Recommended Books and Videos that Address Neo-Darwinianism and its Problems:
by Phillip E. Johnson
by Phillip E. Johnson
Books that Address The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution:
Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael J. Behe
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael J. Behe
Intelligent Design 101: Leading Experts Explain the Key Issues by Michael Behe, Eddie N. Colanter, Logan Gage, and Phillip Johnson
Videos that Address the Big Bang “Random Universe” theory: