Author and IT professional Chuck Easttom is noted for saying that, “Young earth creationism is essentially the position that all of modern science, 90% of living scientists and 98% of living biologists, all major university biology departments, every major science journal, the American Academy of Sciences, and every major science organization in the world, are all wrong regarding the origins and development of life…but one particular tribe of uneducated, bronze-aged, goat herders got it exactly right.”
This statement sums up the way the scientific community (and perhaps some of you) see creationists like me…as a religious fundamentalist with blinders on, putting my ‘blind faith’ in some ancient, dusty book of fairy tales.
It is true that I reject the theory of evolution because it contradicts the Bible. After all, if the Bible is the word of God, and if evolution contradicts the Bible, then the Bible must be right…because God is right! God is going to have a better perspective on the origin and history of life than modern-day scientists.
But, contrary to what you might think, I’m not a religious fundamentalist with blinders on, choosing “willful ignorance” over truth. I also reject the theory of evolution because it contradicts science…and that’s the purpose of this speech – to explain why evolution isn’t a viable scientific model; why it isn’t a fact.
What is Evolution?
It might shock some of you to hear me say this, especially after what I just said, but I actually think that evolution is a scientific fact…at least in one sense. I would go so far as to say that anyone who outright rejects evolution is ignorant.
Here’s the thing: when you ask me the question, “Is evolution scientific?” I have to then ask, “What do you mean by ‘evolution?’”
The most basic definition of evolution is “change,” or “change over time.” Well, change happens all around us, even on a biological level. There are dog breeds that didn’t exist before. Velociraptors no longer roam the planet. Things have changed.
Because ‘evolution’ is such a broad term, Charles Darwin preferred to call it “descent with modification.” (6)(7) “Simply put, descent with modification means that traits are passed down from generation to generation and sometimes undergo changes or modifications over time.” (8) From ReadingEvolution: “Evolution is not only change in living things, but specifically it is descent with modification. This means that organisms living today have descended from earlier ancestors, who were modified, or physically changed, through the course of their descent.” (9)
I think we can all agree that there are changes from one generation to the next. We inherit a different combination of genes and therefore look different than our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
And then there’s the fact of natural selection. Ed Grabianowski with com explains it this way: “Natural selection is the engine that drives evolution. The organisms best suited to survive in their particular circumstances have a greater chance of passing their traits on to the next generation.” (10)
Natural selection is like artificial breeding except its ‘nature’ selecting the traits, not a farmer. And again, this happens. The ‘peppered moths’ are a great illustration of natural selection. (11) The lighter typica moths thrived in pre-industrial England because they blended in with the lichen on the trees. Meanwhile, the darker carbonaria peppered moths had trouble surviving because they couldn’t blend in with the lichen; they were picked off by predators. When the Industrial Revolution came, pollution killed the lichen, and soot rested on the trees. The white typical moths began to die out. Nature ‘selected’ the carbonaria moths because now they had the more advantageous trait.
As the environment changes, the critters that have the more advantageous traits will be more apt to survive. This is natural selection, and it happens all the time. It’s a fact! Everyone here should agree with evolution if we define it as biological change over time due to natural selection and descent with modification.
But this is where we run into some problems.
Marshall Brain, the founder of HowStuffWorks says, “It is interesting to note that, in all of the selective breeding of dogs, there has been no change to the basic dog’s genome. All breeds of dog can still mate with one another. People have not seen any increase in dog’s DNA, but have simply selected different genes from the existing dog gene pool to create the different breeds.” (16) This is also true of natural selection.
You see, natural selection can only select from the traits – i.e. the genetic information – that are already present in the organism. So you might get a smaller dog, but it’s still a dog. You might get a finch with a bigger beak, but it’s still a finch. You might get a faster horse, but it’s still a horse. This is microevolution which is defined as “varieties within a given type” (12), and it happens all the time. But natural selection in and of itself cannot and will not lead to large-scale changes over time (i.e. molecules to man evolution; macroevolution).
Mutations – the “Engine of Evolution”
For large-scale changes to occur, genetic information has to be added (or perhaps even removed) from the organism, and for this to happen, you have to have mutations.
Douglas Futuyma from Action Bioscience explains, “There cannot be evolution without genetic variation in the first place. So there must be mutation and often recombination to generate the different genotypes or the different versions of the genes, known as alleles, which then may or may not make a difference in the ability of an organism to survive and reproduce. You can’t have any evolutionary change whatever without mutation, and perhaps recombination, giving rise to genetic variation.” (2)
Jerry Coyne agrees with this: “The first is the idea of evolution itself. This simply means that a species undergoes change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA which originate as mutations” (Why Evolution is True, p. 3).
And then, “Evolution absolutely depends on mutations because this is the only way that new alleles and new regulatory regions are created.” (13)
Natural selection happens all the time. Variety does arise – black and brown dogs; smaller and bigger beaks, etc. In fact, wide variety can arise as a result! Again, this is what we call microevolution and it presents no problems to the Creation model.
But in order for the ‘theory of evolution’ to be true – in order for dinosaurs to evolve into birds and for something that looks like the R.O.U.S. from The Princess Bride to evolve into whales – you have to have advantageous mutations…lots of them! And this is where the theory of evolution begins to fall apart.
The Problem of Mutations
Mutations are not a viable means of macroevolutionary change for the following reasons:
- They are usually (NOTE: Most sources indicate that mutations are totally random, but new research indicates that they may not always be. (36))
- They usually aren’t that common. (15)
- Laurence Loewe with Nature: “Mutation rates are usually very low.”(15)
- ‘Adaptive radiation’ (sudden changes in the environment) might accelerate the rate of mutation, but overall, the mutation rate is low.
- They must take place in the reproductive cells to be heritable. Mutations that are not heritable and that remain in the present organism’s body are somatic mutations. (13)
- Reversions, where a mutation is reversed, are apparently common. (17) There is also something called “DNA repair” which fixes most point mutations.
But here’s the main point: most mutations are either neutral or harmful:
- Donald J Tosaw, Jr. with evolutionhappens.us explains, “Of the mutations which do result in new traits, most are harmful. That is, they interfere with an organism’s physiology or in some other way reduce an organism’s adaptability to its environment.” (1)
- “Evolution absolutely depends on mutations because this is the only way that newalleles and new regulatory regions are created. But this seems paradoxical because most mutations that we observe are harmful or, at best, neutral.” (13)
If that’s not bad enough, mutations recombine information or result in a loss of information, but do not add new information to the genome:
- Gary Parker says, “Mutations are NOT genetic ‘script writers’; they are merely ‘typographic errors’ in a genetic script that has already been written. Typically, a mutation changes only one letter in a genetic sentence averaging1, 500 letters long.” (Creation: Facts of Life, p. 120)
- Marshall Brain, founder of HowStuffWorks, adds, “Evolution’s mutation mechanism does not explain how growth of a genome is possible. How can point mutations create new chromosomes or lengthen a strand of DNA?” (16)
- Robert Carter wrote in his article Can mutations create new information?: “When evolutionists cite examples of ‘new’ information, they are almost invariably citing evidence of newtraits, but these traits are caused by the corruption of existing information. Mutations can create new varieties of old genes, as can be seen in white-coated lab mice, tailless cats, and blue-eyed people. But damaging mutations cannot be used to vindicate molecules-to-people evolution. Breaking things does not lead to higher function (and presupposes a pre-existing function that can be broken). “
- See ADDENDUM A, The Addition of Information to the Genome
But let’s assume that a ‘helpful mutation’ does occur – a mutation that increases the survivability of an organism. Again, this won’t lengthen an organism’s genome, but it does change the organism, even if it’s in a minor way. According to evolutionists, this is what we need – small changes and lots of time.
However, a single mutation isn’t going to create a new organism. You need multiple, related mutations
Gary Parker discusses this in his book Creation: Facts of Life. He says, “The mathematical problem for evolution comes when you want a series of related mutations. The odds of getting two mutations that are related to one another is the product of their separate probabilities.” (p. 108)
Parker says that there is one mutation for every 10 million duplications of a DNA molecule (107). (ibid.)
In a Nature article by Leslie Pray from 2008: “Scientists have reported mutation rates as low as 1 mistake per 100 million (10-8) to 1 billion (10-9) nucleotides, mostly inbacteria, and as high as 1 mistake per 100 (10-2) to 1,000 (10-3) nucleotides, the latter in a group of error-prone polymerase genes in humans (Johnson et al., 2000).” (21)
Let’s do some math. I’m going to be extremely generous and go with a very high mutation rate of 103. This means that there is one mutation (error) for every 1,000 nucleotides. For three successive, related mutations (let’s say, to bring about macroevolutionary change in the eye), the probability would be 1 in 1,000,000,000 (10-3 x 10-3 x 10-3). Again, this is just three successive mutations in just one system in just one And I’m giving a lot of ground by giving such a high mutation rate, and by assuming that these mutations are both beneficial and heritable.
What evolutionists have to prove is NOT that beneficial mutations may occur or even that information can be added to the genome. He has to prove to us that such is ubiquitous and serves as an observable means of macroevolutionary changes on a wide scale. Otherwise, his position is reduced to hypothetical, wishful thinking.
With all of these things in mind, it’s hard to see how mutations can explain the complexity and diversity of life that we see today – and remember, according to evolutionary theory, we’re not just talking about humans and dogs, but bananas and redwood trees, too!
In an online article called Mutations and Evolution by J. Kimball: “So how can the small changes in genes caused by mutations, especiallysingle-base substitutions (‘point mutations’), lead to the large changes that distinguish one species from another? These questions have, as yet, only tentative answers.” (13) This sums up the problem well.
Entropy & Genetic Load
But not only do mutations utterly fail to drive macroevolutionary progress, it appears that they are actually driving evolutionary decline and deterioration.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that “in any cyclic process the entropy will either increase or remain the same.” (26)(29) The concept of Entropy “is that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems.” (27) In other words: order breaks down over time.
“Roger Lewin wrote in a 1982 article in Science, “One problem biologists have faced is the apparent contradiction by evolution of the second law of thermodynamics. Systems should decay through time, giving less, not more, order.” (28) NOTE: Lewin goes on to explain that this only applies to closed systems, and that because earth is an open system (an influx of energy from the sun), the law of entropy doesn’t apply. This is a common response, but it falls short:
John Ross of Harvard explains that “there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems…There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.” (30)
Open systems have a tendency to disorder. There are cases where local order can increase at the expense of greater disorder elsewhere, but this is still a major problem for macroevolution.
But most importantly, “raw energy cannot generate the specified complex information in living things.” (31)
So the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Law of Entropy remain a real problem for evolutionists. How can disorder lead to such incredible order when some of the most fundamental laws of physics dictate the opposite!
Along these same lines, there is the problem of genetic load. From EvoWiki: “Genetic load is a measure of the number of harmful mutations an average member of a population is carrying…Most individuals in stable populations carry a number of recessive lethal mutations, termed their ‘genetic load.’” (32)
To put it more simply, it’s the idea that mutations build up and become a ‘load’ or ‘burden’ (also called Genetic Burden). THINK ABOUT IT: If more mutations are deleterious or harmful, rather than helpful, how can true macroevolutionary progress take place? It’s like taking one step forward and two steps back. That’s not a recipe for “molecule to man” evolution if you ask me.
Not only do evolutionists need to show us how random mutations can account for macroevolutionary change, he needs to answer the problem of genetic load by either showing:
- How beneficial mutations outpace harmful ones.
- How harmful mutations can be removed from the genome.
So again, I agree that microevolution occurs all around us. Nature selects from the existing genetic information those traits which are the most adaptive, resulting in variety – different breeds of dogs and horses; bigger beaks on finches, etc.
But in order for macroevolution to be true, new genetic information has to be added (to get from a hyena to a whale, for example). According to evolutionists, this new genetic information comes as a result of mutations…but as I have shown, this is untenable both mathematically and scientifically. In fact, I believe it takes a whole lot more faith to believe in macroevolution than it does to believe in Creation.
Evolution Evidences – Rapid Fire
I’ve gone on for a long time now about the mathematical and logistical problems with the theory of evolution. But none of this really matters if there is clear, irrefutable evidence that macroevolution is true and that we have ALL descended from a common ancestor.
I think that we’ll be discussing these issues more in the second half of the debate, during the cross-examination and the audience Q&A, but I’d like to provide some rapid-fire answers to some of the common evidences of evolution.
Transitional fossils – fossils that show a transition between one kind of animal and another – are often cited as evidence for macroevolution:
- Common examples:
- Archaeopteryx (dinosaur à bird)
- Tiktaalik (fish à tetrapods)
- Whale evolution (from a four-legged land animal)
- The problem(s) with this line of evidence:
- Many of these transitional fossils have been exaggerated.
- These same ‘odd’ combinations of traits can be seen in creatures today.
- Arguments must assume a complete knowledge of the fossil record (as later discoveries have invalidated many of the ‘transitional’ claims).
- Evolutionary presuppositions are required. Creationists see the same evidence and conclude that these were fully-formed, distinct species, or perhaps varieties of kinds.
- Also regarding the fossil record, there are countless examples of anachronistic (out-of-place) fossils. As David Raup said in New Scientist in 1981: “One of the ironies of the creation-evolution debate is that the creationists have accepted the mistaken notion that the fossil record shows a detailed and orderly progression.”
Dating methods – while fossils and strata (rock layers) are often dated at hundreds of thousands, millions, or even billions of years old, these dating methods are based on critical, unprovable assumptions…and are therefore unreliable.
- This is even true when it comes to cross-checked dating methods.
- From a Christian standpoint, not only did God create a mature earth, but the global, catastrophic flood of Noah’s day would explain apparent old ages given by radiometric dating.
- There’s also the problem of soft-tissue in dinosaur bones.
Junk DNA and Pseudogenes – it is argued that much of our genome consists of DNA and genes that are ‘junk’. “What Intelligent Designer would create so much junk?” These dead genes and pseudogenes are leftover from our evolutionary past…so the argument goes.
- Recent research (via the ENCODE project, from 2003-2007) has assigned broad function to much of this ‘junk DNA.” While not ‘protein-coding,’ many of these genes are ‘regulatory genes.’
- Pseudogenes do not prove common descent, but merely a loss of function.
- While we shouldn’t be so quick to assign a gene as functionless, ‘loss of function’ not only fits the Creation model, but is predicted by it (i.e. ‘the fall’).
Vestigial Organs – these are organs that evolutionists argue have lost their original function (i.e. tailbone, appendix, etc.) and prove our evolution.
- Function can be assigned to nearly all (if not all) of these ‘vestigial’ organs. How can we call these organs vestigial when they have clear functions today?
- Even if certain organs/structures have lost some function, again, this fits with the Creation model and is even predicted by it (i.e. ‘the fall’).
- The same is true with atavisms, which are the same as vestigial organs except that they only happen occasionally (i.e. whale ‘legs’ and human tails).
- Many of these have been exaggerated.
- But again, the Creation model predicts a loss of function.
Embryonic Homology – the idea that “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny” (also known as the ‘law of recapitulation’); our evolutionary past is replayed in embryonic development:
- Gill slits and tails are the best known examples.
- Many of these examples are grossly misunderstood. For example, the ‘gill slits’ are actually ‘pharyngeal arches’ and are gradually shaped into the palatine tonsils, middle ear canals and the parathyroid and thymus glands.
- While many see these examples as proof of common descent, the most that they prove (in certain cases) is common design.
Bad Design Features – if we are “intelligently designed,” then our bodies should reflect optimal design…and yet this isn’t the case, according to evolutionists.
- The inverted retina and ‘recurrent laryngeal nerve’ are classic examples.
- In many of these cases, the ‘bad design’ argument falls woefully short; these structures actually reflect sensible design.
Examples of Evolution in Action – when creationists ask for examples of evolution, we are often given many examples.
- Bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics; bugs becoming resistant to DDT
- But in these cases:
- It is often a matter of variation via natural selection, not mutations.
- The mutations reflect a loss or recombination of information.
- Bacteria are still bacteria. Bugs are still bugs.
- Other alleged examples of evolution are only of variations within kinds, something creationists acknowledge.
In the end, while I obviously disagree with Darwinian evolution because it doesn’t jive with the Scriptures, I also reject it because it doesn’t jive with science. This may sound absurd to some of you, but in the very least, I hope you can see that while evolution is presented as an irrefutable, scientific fact…there are some serious questions that need to be answered.
Or maybe it is that what I’ve said in this short speech has challenged your thinking. If so, please understand that there is a lot more to say. Also, keep in mind that there are a ton of ‘creation scientists’ out there who are a lot smarter than I am who can make an even more compelling case against evolution.
Is macroevolution a viable scientific model? Not only is it mathematically impossible, there is no observable, hard evidence that it can happen.
Evolutionists often accuse Christians such as myself for responding to all of the unknowns and mysteries of science with “God did it.” They call this the “god of the gaps” argument. But it seems to me that evolutionists do the same thing, except that instead of appealing to God, they appeal to deep time. They argue that, given enough time, microevolution (which is observable) becomes macroevolution (which isn’t observable). This we might call the “time of the gaps” argument, and only proves that they are people of faith, too.
This isn’t a battle between superstition and science, between facts and faith. This is a battle of worldviews. The question then becomes: which worldview offers a more reasonable interpretation of the evidence?
I think I’d rather put my faith in the Creator who was there in the beginning than in fallible scientists who draw unreasonable, untenable, unprovable conclusions that not only force us to reject real science, but our own human nature which tells us that there is a greater purpose…a purpose and a calling that transcends the physical.
(30) John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980, p. 40
(35) Williams, G.C., Natural Selection: Domains, Levels, and Challenges, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 143–148, 1992, cited in http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j19_1/j19_1_113-125.pdf