Answering God’s Critic
George Johnson is a professor of biology and genetics at Washington University (St. Louis), where he has taught for twenty-seven years. He is the co-author of a textbook on biology, which, in reality, is but an apologetic for organic evolution. Mr. Johnson also serves as an editorial fellow for the Post-Dispatch, a major newspaper in St. Louis. Recently, this gentleman authored an essay titled, “Answering evolution’s critics: Let’s look at the evidence” (1999).
Yes; let’s do that.
The professor begins his piece by suggesting that over the past century, since the emergence of Charles Darwin’s “theory of evolution by natural selection,” the evolutionary concept has “become nearly universally accepted by biologists” as the best explanation for biological diversity. Yes, that is generally true. But at various periods in human history “universally accepted” ideas have been woefully erroneous. Moreover, there are many highly qualified scientists who dispute the theory of evolution. In fact, there are numerous evolutionists who find Darwin’s concept of natural selection egregiously flawed (cf. Behe 1996).
One of the criteria for determining the validity of a good theory is its ability to “predict,” certain phenomena. The professor thus contends that evolution’s “predictions supported by the experiments and observations” of generations of scientists have established evolution on a firm basis. Really? Let’s see.
Evolution’s “Predictability” Ability
First, evolutionary theory attempts to explain the universe strictly in terms of material phenomena. Such a view would predict, therefore, that either matter is eternal, or else it has some intrinsic ability to create itself. Is there any evidence for that? Not a shred. In fact, it is contradicted by well-established laws of science (e.g., the first and second laws of thermodynamics).
Secondly, evolutionary theory contends that “life first arose from the non-living world” (Simpson et al. 1957, 43). If such is the case, one might predict that somewhere there is evidence that life is being spontaneously generated today.
Is there any such evidence? None at all. In fact, scientists refer to the “principle [law] of biogenesis” (i.e., the fact that life comes only from preexisting life). [Note: Significantly, at the same opening of the volume just quoted, Simpson and colleagues, commenting upon the work of Pasteur and others, stated that the labors of their predecessors “marked the end of belief in spontaneous generation and the establishment of the principle of biogenesis—‘all life comes from life’” (Ibid., 42). How does one explain such an obvious contradiction?
Third, evolutionary theory would predict that the fossil record would commence with a scarcity of living forms, which gradually proliferated over the ages. To the contrary, the fossil “library” starts with an “explosion” of life-forms, which George Simpson—a leading advocate of evolutionary dogma—called a “major mystery of the history of life” (1949, 18). Additionally, the fossil record reveals that earth’s biological creatures are far fewer today than in the past. Of some one hundred million species that have existed, only about two percent of these remain (Howard and Rifkin 1977, 21). This is not what the evolutionary model would predict.
These examples, and others (some addressed below), demonstrate that the theory of evolution is woefully weak in the “prediction” department.
Professor Johnson is distressed that Darwin’s views have not had full sway in Missouri’s schools over the years (since the advent of Darwinism—one hundred forty years ago). He opines that it is high time to bring old Darwin back into the classroom. (One expects that Charles has not been absent from class in Missouri!) As a result of a previous essay published in the Post-Dispatch, the teacher was criticized by readers, who offered objections to the gentleman’s evolutionary ideology. Johnson selected five of these “principle [sic] objections” for review.
We’d like to review his review.
Evolution Not Demonstrated
Many readers, it seems, point out that evolution is just a “theory”; it, therefore, has not been demonstrated scientifically. Johnson dismisses this by suggesting that scientists use the term “theory” in a different way from the layman. He then says: “Few of us doubt the theory of gravity because it is ‘just a theory.’”
Two observations are in order:
First, while there may be slight theoretical differences of opinion among scientists as to how gravity operates (e.g., Newton’s theory vs. Einstein’s theory), the fact of gravitation is not in dispute. Its effect is observed in a thousand ways daily. But the so-called concept of macroevolution (all forms of life have descended from an original ancestor), does not even meet the criteria of a respectable theory. It cannot be subjected to any testing process. It is, at best, a mere hypothesis—with no supporting data. Note the professor’s own admission: “Replacement of one species by another (what biologists call macroevolution) cannot be directly demonstrated, as the process typically takes millions of years” (emphasis added). This very fact thrusts evolutionary ideology beyond the pale of genuine “science.”
Second, Johnson can debate the matter of evolution’s substance with those of his own persuasion. Some years ago, Louis T. More, of the University of Cincinnati, delivered a series of lectures at Princeton University. These were subsequently published in a book titled, The Dogma of Evolution. Therein Professor More said:
The more one studies paleontology, the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone; exactly the same sort of faith which it is necessary to have when one encounters the great mysteries of religion (1925, 160).
In his introduction to the 1971 edition of Darwin’s The Origin of Species, L. Harrison Matthews, a British biologist/evolutionist, wrote:
Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation—both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof (1971, x).
Even more recently, Robert Jastrow, an agnostic and militant evolutionist (in attempting to explain the origin of biological life), declared:
The second theory [that life evolved on our planet spontaneously] is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief (1977, 52).
These sorts of quotations could be multiplied many times over; and so to act as if the issue of evolution were scientifically settled is either a reflection of ignorance or dishonesty. Professor Johnson’s claim, therefore, that biblical creation is “a religious belief,” while evolution is “scientific” is not valid. Colin Patterson, of the British Museum of Natural History—an evolutionist, mind you—has written:
Just as pre-Darwinian biology was carried out by people whose faith was in the Creator and His plan, post-Darwinian biology is being carried out by people whose faith is in, almost, the deity of Darwin (quoted in Leith 1981, 392).
Mr. Johnson’s ideology is as “religious” as anyone’s.
No Transitional Fossils
If the evolutionary story were true, one would expect to find a gradual series of biological developments preserved in the fossil record. But that is not the case. The “record in the rocks” reflects significant gaps between the major categories of flora and fauna. Darwin acknowledged this as a most “serious objection” to his theory (1859, 313).
But Johnson contends that since the days of Darwin “most fossil intermediates in vertebrate evolution have indeed been found.” That is an outrageous claim. Strange that Professor Johnson’s evolutionary colleagues are not aware of the gap fill-in. Dr. Stephen J. Gould of Harvard, America’s leading apostle of evolution, says:
All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt (1977, 24).
Darwin sought to explain the gaps on the basis of the “extreme imperfection of the geological record.” Modern evolutionists acknowledge that this rationalization is no longer valid. One scientist notes fossil discoveries have become “unmanageably rich,” and yet, he confesses, the “fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps” (George 1960, 1,3).
Mark Ridley, professor of zoology at Oxford University, has written:
[N]o real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory as opposed to special creation (1981, 831).
And why not? Because the evidence is not there. In the more than a quarter-of-a-million fossil samples in the various museums of the world, not a single creature has ever been discovered with half-formed organs. Where is the structure that is half-forelimb and half-wing? Only in the evolutionists’ dreams!
Professor Johnson’s sweeping assertions about “links” between reptiles and mammals, between apes and humans are pure spin—with not a fragment of genuine proof.
Creationists argue that biological organisms are much too complex to have happened by chance. Just as a clock demands a clock-maker, even so, a biological organism—infinitely more complex than a clock—must have had a Maker.
But George Johnson says: “Biologists disagree.” Disagree if you will—and fling common sense to the wind! Note the following quotations:
A modern building is certainly a complex and highly ordered structure, but its complexity cannot begin to compare with that of the living system (Simpson et al. 1975, 262).
And yet, the “living system” is supposed to have occurred by “accident.” Do buildings build themselves? If not, can something even more intricate fashion itself?
The nervous system of a single starfish, with all its various nerve ganglia and fibers, is more complex than London’s telephone exchange (Natural History 1961, 17).
A pair of pliers, a chain saw or even a missile guidance system doesn’t approach the lowliest parasitic worm in internal complexity. The human-made world is not nearly as intricate as the natural world (Science Digest 1981, 18).
But Professor Johnson contends that “many intermediate ‘eyes’ are known in various invertebrates.” What does that prove? Different levels of complexity in eyes does not prove that any of them developed accidentally—any more than differing levels of complexity between a roller skate and an automobile indicate that either of these happened by accident. Note the following statement from Sir Steward Duke-Elder:
The curious thing, however, is that in their distribution the eyes of the invertebrates form no series of continuity and succession. Without obvious phylogenic sequence, their occurrence seems haphazard; analogous photoreceptors appear in unrelated species, an elaborate organ in a primitive species, or an elementary structure high on the Evolutionary scale, and the same animal may be provided with two different mechanisms with different spectral sensitivities subserving different types of behavior (1973, 178).
With tongue-in-cheek, one supposes that God created eye variations to confuse evolutionists! In his book, The Enchanted Loom, evolutionist Robert Jastrow confesses:
The eye appears to have been designed; no designer of telescopes could have done better . . . [I]t is hard to accept the evolution of the eye as a product of chance (1981, 96,98).
For further evidence that the human body must have been intelligently designed—rather than having evolved fortuitously—see our book, The Human Body – Accident or Design?.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
According to the second law of thermodynamics, as matter/energy migrates from one form to another, there is a degenerative process that results. Nature is “running down.” The Bible even alludes to the fact that the creation is growing old like a garment that, eventually, is to be laid aside (Hebrews 1:10-12). The entire universe is proceeding toward an ultimate death—if current processes were permitted to proceed infinitely.
Evolution, from the nature of the case, requires a progressive mechanism (a building-up system, from the simple to the complex), but the second law reveals that earth’s environment is running down. It would appear, on the face of it, that the evolutionary scheme is not consistent with the facts of physics.
Here is Johnson’s response to this problem. While it is true that “disorder increases in a closed system,” earth’s environment is not closed. Energy from the sun bathes the planet, and so accommodates the organization of life on earth. The professor employs this analogy. A child may have a messy room, but mother comes in (outside energy), and presto—the room is organized again! Frankly, with all due respect, this is a terribly simplistic approach.
First, it takes more than mere energy to reorganize the room in our friend’s illustration. One could throw a stick of dynamite into the room (there would be energy!), but the place would hardly be more organized as a result. Without an “intelligent” mom, with all her capabilities and equipment, no reorganization would occur. Does any mother imagine that she can simply open her child’s bedroom window, let sunshine in, and the room will be reordered?
And so, as suggested above, in order for an increase in complexity to be effected, it takes more than just energy. Also required are:
- an informational system that contains a plan for the utilization of the energy; and,
- a mechanism of implementation (i.e., that which converts the energy into functional work channels).
There is absolutely no evidence that “nature” has fabricated (or is able to) either the code (information system), or the necessary conversion machine.
Noted evolutionist, Ernest Mayr of Harvard, speaks to this very point:
Living organisms, however, differ from inanimate matter by the degree of complexity of their systems and by the possession of a genetic program . . . The genetic instructions packaged in an embryo direct the formation of an adult, whether it be a tree, a fish, or a human. The process is goal-directed, but from the instructions in the genetic program, not from the outside. Nothing like it exists in the inanimate world (quoted in Lewin 1982, 719).
In the final analysis, the evolutionary process cannot win the battle against the second law in any environment. John Ross of Harvard has stated:
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 (1980, 40).
Biological organisms have been dying upon this planet for thousands of years. Is there a solitary example of where mere energy from the sun has effected a resurgence of these creatures from death?
Natural Selection— “Lunatic Logic”
Charles Darwin contended that “natural selection” (known also as “the survival of the fittest”) is that process by which certain beneficial traits allow an organism to survive in the struggle for life. It was alleged that an accumulation of these slight, variable traits could be passed along genetically, thus eventually producing new kinds of creatures.
Many intelligent people have noted, however, that “natural selection” is not a sufficient explanation as to how new organisms could develop. But professor Johnson begs to differ. He alleges that natural selection, which he calls “Darwin’s central contention,” has been “clearly and repeatedly demonstrated” over the past one hundred forty years. This simply is not the case.
Natural selection may work as a filtering process—the weak are eliminated frequently—but that does not offer a mechanism for the creation of new, radically different kinds of creatures. The famous evolutionary botanist of the University of Amsterdam, Hugo DeVries, once wrote: “Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest” (quoted in Nelson 1967, 94).
More recently, Stephen Jay Gould acknowledged:
The essence of Darwinism lies in a single phrase: natural selection is the creative force of evolutionary change. No one denies that selection will play a negative role in eliminating the unfit. Darwinian theories require that it create the fit as well (1977, 28).
A significant number of evolutionists today dispute Darwin’s concept of natural selection.
Several years ago, speeches by fifteen of Great Britain’s most prominent scientists were collected into a volume titled, Science Today. In one of these, C. H. Waddington, professor of animal genetics at Edinburgh University, said (regarding natural selection):
This is really the theory that if you start with any fourteen lines of coherent English and change it one letter at a time, keeping only those things that still make sense, you will eventually finish up with one of the sonnets of Shakespeare . . . [I]t strikes me as a lunatic sort of logic, and I think we should be able to do better (Waddington, Gray, et al. 1961, 38).
In the same volume, Sir James Gray, professor of zoology at Cambridge, commenting upon the same matter, declared:
Some feel that the argument [regarding natural selection] gets uncomfortably close to a point when an adequate number of monkeys, tapping typewriters for an adequate length of time will inevitably produce an encyclopedia. Such a thing, of course, is conceivably possible but nobody in their senses takes such things into consideration in everyday life . . . . If we look on organic evolution as one of Nature’s games of chance it seems just a little strange that she should have dealt quite so many winning hands. But your guess is as good as mine (Waddington, Gray, et al. 1961, 29-30).
Brace Loring, writing in a recent edition of American Scientist flatly stated:
Readers . . . may not realize the extent to which a major part of the field of biology and almost all of paleontology has rejected Darwin’s insights concerning organic evolution. Natural selection is dismissed as contributing nothing more than “fine-tuning,” and adaptation is largely ignored in practice (1994, 484).
Colin Patterson is the senior paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History. On March 4, 1992 Dr. Patterson was interviewed by Peter Franz on the BBC. In that session the eminent evolutionist declared:
No one has ever produced a species by mechanisms of natural selection. No one has ever gotten near it and most of the current argument in neo-Darwinism is about this question: how can a species originate and is it there that natural selection seems to be fading out and chance mechanisms of one sort or another are being invoked (quoted in Morris 1997, 135).
Professor Johnson’s arguments, eminent though he is, are clearly demonstrated to be without merit. It is not because our friend is lacking in ability, it is because he has no case. It is one of the tragedies of history that men of considerable intellect spend their entire careers building castles in the sand.
Scripture references: 1 Thessalonians 5; Hebrews 1:10-12
- Behe, Michael. 1996. Darwin’s Black Box. New York, NY: The Free Press.
- Darwin, Charles. 1859. The Origin of Species. Sixth edition. London, England: A. L. Burt Co.
- Duke-Elder, Steward. 1973. The Eye in Evolution. St. Louis, MO: C. V. Mosby.
- George, T. N. 1960. Fossils in Evolution. Science Progress, January.
- Gould, Stephen Jay. 1977. The Return of the Hopeful Monsters. Natural History, June/July.
- Howard, Ted and Jeremy Rifkin. 1977. Who Should Play God? New York, NY: Dell.
- Jackson, Wayne. 2000. The Human Body – Accident or Design? Stockton, CA: Courier Publications.
- Jastrow, Robert. 1977. Until the Sun Dies. New York, NY: Warner Books.
- Jastrow, Robert. 1981. The Enchanted Loom: Mind in the Universe. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- Leith, Brian. 1981. The Listener, October 8.
- Lewin, Roger. 1982. Biology Is Not Postage Stamp Collecting. Science, May 14.
- Johnson, George. 1999. Answering evolution’s critics: Let’s look at the facts. Post-Dispatch, July 25.
- Johnson, George and Peter Raven. 1999. Biology. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
- Loring, Brace. 1994. American Scientist, September/October.
- Matthews, L. Harrison. 1971. Introd. to The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin. London, England: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd.
- More, Louis T. 1925. The Dogma of Evolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
- Morris, Henry. 1997. That Their Words May Be Used Against Them. Sand Diego, CA: Institute for Creation Research.
- Natural History. 1961. November.
- Nelson, Byron. 1967. After Its Kind. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany.
- Ridley, Mark. 1981. Who Doubts Evolution? New Scientist, June 25.
- Ross, John, letter to the editor. 1980. Chemical and Engineering News, July 7.
- Science Digest. 1981. April.
- Simpson, George. 1949. The Meaning of Evolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Simpson, George, C. S. Pittendrich, and E. H. Tiffany. 1957. Life: An Introduction to Biology. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace.
- Waddington, C. H., James Gray, et al. 1961. Science Today. New York, NY: Criterion Books.