Darwinian evolutionary theory claims that all living creatures are related by descent from common ancestors, and ultimately from bacteria. All the members of any particular species show slight physical variations, which are said to result mainly from random genetic mutations. Most mutations are harmful and are eliminated by natural selection, whereas offspring who inherit characteristics that render them better adapted to their surroundings are more likely to survive and reproduce. Over the course of time, modifications in successive generations of the same species have allegedly given rise to new species and ultimately to the amazing diversity of life we see today.
Many scientists have challenged the central role that neo-Darwinism, or the modern synthetic theory of evolution, assigns to random genetic mutations (mostly involving errors in the replication of DNA). Robert Wesson says that ‘Many evolutionists have always been uncomfortable ... with the idea that progress is simply a matter of selection of the best mistakes’, and that ‘organisms have responded to their conditions and needs more purposefully than strict Darwinian theory can allow’.1 The same objection is echoed by Lyall Watson: ‘It is abundantly clear from the fossil record that when organisms do change, the modifications which occur are of a kind which improve fitness far more often than can be expected from changes taking place on a purely random basis.’2
There is no empirical evidence that unguided trial and error will produce anything but the most trivial results. The probability of a cell developing by chance alone is staggeringly remote. The same applies to complex structures such as wings and feathers or the human eye and brain, which would require a long series of useful mutations in exactly the right order. Furthermore, all the intermediate, unfinished stages would have to offer some competitive advantage otherwise they would be weeded out by natural selection.
Darwinists attach increasing importance to regulatory genes. These genes can turn other genes on or off, so that new organs, supposedly already encoded in the genes, can appear very quickly and ‘simply’. But there is no satisfactory explanation for how such an intricate system arose in the first place, or how regulatory genes know which other genes to activate or deactivate; here too, Darwinists simply fall back on their blind faith in happy accidents. Moreover, DNA merely contains the code for the sequence of amino acids in proteins; it is not known to carry instructions for the assembly of proteins into cells, tissues, organs and entire body forms. In other words, genes do not contain the blueprint for the formation of organisms during embryogenesis. Many biologists now think that ‘epigenetic’ factors within the cell explain the origin of form, but this is little more than a speculative hypothesis. Some scientists invoke ‘self-organization’ – but giving the problem a name is not the same as explaining it.
Most evolutionists still agree with Darwin that new species arise ‘solely by accumulating slight, successive, favourable variations’. But dissident scientists argue that although genetic change and natural selection partially explain variations within species, or microevolution, they are completely inadequate to explain macroevolution, i.e. the emergence of higher types. Rupert Sheldrake remarks:
The main problem that Darwin and Darwinians have always faced is to account for the origin of species themselves, or of genera, families, and the higher orders of living organization. The idea that such large-scale evolutionary processes all took place gradually over very long periods of time has been challenged again and again. ... Why do plants and animals fall into distinct types, such as ferns, conifers, insects, and birds, rather than lying on a continuous spectrum of living forms?3A crucial problem facing gradualistic models of evolution is the conspicuous absence of a continuous sequence of transitional fossils between major groups of species – e.g. between invertebrates and fish, fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and birds, and reptiles and mammals. Existing fossils do not give a clear indication of how the fins of fish became the legs and feet of amphibians, how gills became lungs, scales became feathers, and legs became wings. It is becoming increasingly implausible to attribute this problem to the imperfection of the fossil record.
Contrary to neo-Darwinist expectations, most species suddenly appear on the scene, live for millions of years essentially unchanged, and then die out. Recognizing this, some Darwinists argue that, instead of emerging gradually, new species originate in sudden, rapid bursts of evolutionary creativity, with the result that no transitional fossils are left behind – but this theory still accepts the dogma that new species are the result of random, undirected mutations.
Information science has clearly demonstrated that the new information needed to transform one species into another cannot emerge by chance; some form of intelligence is required. Mutations typically cause a corruption or loss of existing genetic information. Experimentally induced genetic mutations in rapidly reproducing species such as fruit flies (Drosophila) have succeeded only in producing deformed or less viable flies, e.g. flies with extra pairs of legs or extra wings. After thousands of generations fruit flies remain fruit flies and show no sign of metamorphosing into dragon flies, butterflies, or anything else.
Similarly, animal and plant breeders have been able to create many new breeds and varieties of domesticated animals and cultivated plants, but they have failed to produce any changes significant enough to give rise to a completely different species. Animals and plants showing extreme variations are usually sterile or weak and tend to revert to the ancestral type or eventually die out.
Darwinists often assume that any given feature of a species must have some adaptive value and then speculate about the ‘selective pressures’ that have given rise to it. Darwin admitted that he had exaggerated the role of natural selection and that it was wrong to assume that every detail of structure had some special survival value. ‘If adaptation alone were the core of evolution,’ writes Fritjof Capra, ‘it would be hard to explain why living forms ever evolved beyond the blue-green algae, which are perfectly adapted to their environment, unsurpassed in their reproductive capacities, and have proved their fitness for survival over billions of years.’ He says that genotypic change is only one side of evolution, the other being creativity, ‘the creative unfolding of life toward forms of ever increasing complexity’.4 But what is the source of this creativity? And is it really true that new types of organisms always descend from ancestral creatures through a series of physical modifications, whether gradual or rapid?
An article in Trends in Ecology and Evolution in 2008 acknowledged that there exists a ‘healthy debate concerning the sufficiency of neo-Darwinian theory to explain macroevolution’.5 Biologist Scott Gilbert has stated: ‘The modern synthesis is remarkably good at modeling the survival of the fittest, but not good at modeling the arrival of the fittest.’6 According to palaeontologists James Valentine and Douglas Erwin, neo-Darwinism fails to account for the origin of new body plans and consequently ‘biology needs a new theory to explain “the evolution of novelty”’.7 In 2009 Eugene Koonin stated that breakdowns in core neo-Darwinian tenets such as the ‘traditional concept of the tree of life’ or the belief that ‘natural selection is the main driving force of evolution’ indicate that ‘the modern synthesis has crumbled, apparently, beyond repair’.8 About 850 scientists have signed the following statement: ‘We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.’9
Conventional evolutionary theory depicts life as a purely physical and mechanical process, devoid of purpose and intelligence. It is unable to explain where our bodies came from, let alone our minds. Wesson writes:
There is something of self-hate in the materialist approach. It depreciates the life of the mind and works of imagination and character. It demeans the richness and wonder of nature. It seems to make unnecessary further thinking about the mysteries of existence, of life and the universe.10Darwinism continues to reign because most materialistic scientists cannot conceive of a less implausible alternative. Many are afraid to criticize its shortcomings too loudly for fear of giving ammunition to their arch-rivals, the biblical creationists. There appears to be a widespread belief that the only alternative to blind chance is the biblical Jehovah! The intelligent design movement presents evidence pointing to some sort of designer, without linking this concept to a specific religious faith. Most scientists dismiss any talk of intelligent, nonphysical agencies as ‘not science’ or as ‘religion masquerading as science’. Geneticist Richard Lewontin stated:
We take the side of science ... because we have a prior commitment ... to materialism. ... [W]e are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’11Another biologist put it this way: ‘Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.’12 In other words, anything that contradicts mechanistic materialism is ‘unscientific’, no matter how well supported by empirical data.
The defects of standard Darwinism are considered in more detail in the sections that follow, and a variety of alternative ideas are examined. Theosophy, for example, rejects the materialistic assumptions on which Darwinism is based and the notion of a continuous transformation of physical forms, leading from microbes to man. It regards evolution as essentially a development of the consciousness that animates successive physical forms, and sees evolutionary innovations on the physical level as a reflection of processes taking place on deeper, subtler, more mindlike levels of reality.
- Robert Wesson, Beyond Natural Selection, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994, pp. 224, 226.
- Lyall Watson, Supernature II: A new natural history of the supernatural, London: Sceptre, 1987, p. 87. (Dr. Lyall Watson (12 April 1939 – 25 June 2008) was a South African botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, ethologist, and author of many new age books, among the most popular of which is the best seller Supernature.--wikipedia)
- Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past: Morphic resonance and the habits of nature, New York: Vintage, 1989, p. 280.
- Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, London: Flamingo, 1987, p. 310.
- Michael A. Bell, ‘Gould’s most cherished concept’, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, v. 23, no. 3, 2008, pp. 121-2.
- John Whitfield, ‘Biological theory: postmodern evolution?’, Nature, v. 455, 2008, pp. 281-4, nature.com.
- Quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt: The explosive origin of animal life and the case for intelligent design, New York: HarperOne, 2013, p. 292.
- Eugene V. Koonin, ‘The Origin at 150: is a new evolutionary synthesis in sight?’, Trends in Genetics, v. 25, 2009, pp. 473-4.
- Beyond Natural Selection, p. 308.
- Quoted in Darwin’s Doubt, p. 386.
- Scott C. Todd, ‘A view from Kansas on that evolution debate’, Nature, v. 401, 1999, p. 423.
An article published by David Pratt. @ http://davidpratt.info/evod1.htm