When Darwin proposed his famous theory back in 1859, he was aware that one of the glaring weaknesses of his speculations was how to explain complex features in animals by small and gradual evolutionary steps. He admitted, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” ( The Origin of Species, Masterpieces of Science edition, p. 149).
About 150 years later, research has provided numerous examples in nature in which complex organs in animals could not have developed by small, successive steps. From molecular science on up, many complex systems had to appear simultaneously, with all their components intact, or they would not function, thus offering no survival advantage.
Professor Michael Behe explains: “It was once expected that the basis of life would be exceedingly simple. That expectation has been smashed. Vision, motion, and other biological functions have proven to be no less sophisticated than television cameras and automobiles. Science has made enormous progress in understanding how the chemistry of life works, but the elegance and complexity of biological systems at the molecular level have paralyzed science’s attempt to explain their origins” ( Darwin’s Black Box, 1998, p. x).
Indeed, at every level, the complexity of life and its stunning array of functionality defies evolution.
The bombardier beetle’s chemical weapon
One example of this kind of biological complexity is the bombardier beetle’s defense system. It has so many essential parts and chemicals that if any are missing, the whole system will not work. Moreover, if everything did not work just right, the deadly chemical mixture inside the beetle would prove fatal rather than favorable.
The tiny beetle, less than an inch long, appears as a tasty morsel for many types of animals. But as they near the beetle to gobble it up, they suddenly find themselves sprayed with a scalding and noxious solution that forces them to beat a fast retreat. How can this unassuming insect produce such a complex and effective defense system?
The components making up the beetle’s effective chemical warfare have been analyzed by chemists and biologists down to the molecular level. When the beetle senses danger, it secretes two chemicals, hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, that end up in a storage chamber inside its body. By tensing certain muscles, it moves the chemicals to another compartment, called the explosion chamber.
But, just as a loaded cannon will not go off without some sort of ignition device, so these two chemicals will not explode without the right catalyst being added. Inside the beetle’s body, this catalyst is injected into the explosion chamber. As a result, a boiling hot and toxic liquid is spewed out of the beetle’s rear toward the threatening predator’s face. All three chemical elements and chambers have to exist for this powerful defense system to work.
How could such a complex system evolve by gradual steps? With only the two chemicals mixing, nothing happens. But when the catalyst is added in the proper amount and at the right time, the beetle is equipped with an amazing chemical cannon. Could all these components appear by a gradual, step-by-step process?
Francis Hitching comments on the bombardier beetle’s defense system: “The chain of events that could have led to the evolution of such a complex, coordinated and subtle process is beyond biological explanation on a simple step-by-step basis. The slightest alteration in the chemical balance would result immediately in a race of exploded beetles. The problem of evolutionary novelties is quite widely accepted among biologists . . . In every case, the difficulty is compounded by the lack of fossil evidence. The first time that the plant, creature, or organ appears, it is in its finished state, so to speak” ( The Neck of the Giraffe, p. 68).
Nevertheless, evolutionist Richard Dawkins tries to dismiss the complex features of the bombardier beetle by simply saying: “As for the evolutionary precursors of the system, both hydrogen peroxide and various kinds of quinones are used for other purposes in body chemistry. The bombardier beetle’s ancestors simply pressed into different service chemicals that already happened to be around. That’s often how evolution works” ( The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, p. 87).
This is not a convincing explanation at all for Dr. Behe, who has studied this beetle’s components down to their molecular level. “Dawkins’ explanation for the evolution of the system,” he says, “rests on the fact that the system’s elements ‘happened to be around’ . . . But Dawkins has not explained how hydrogen peroxide and quinones came to be secreted together at very high concentration into one compartment that is connected . . . to a second compartment that contains enzymes necessary for the rapid reaction of the chemicals” (Behe, p. 34).
Now that the whole defense system of the beetle has been thoroughly studied, even if the chemicals “happened to be around,” this elaborate chemical cannon would not work without everything from the molecular level up working together and at exactly the right time. Dawkins’ argument is as absurd as saying that if gunpowder, a fuse, a barrel and a cannonball “happened to be around,” eventually they would assemble themselves, with the ingredients carefully loaded in the right sizes and proportions, and then go off at the right direction without blowing themselves up somewhere along the way. No, all the components had to be carefully and intelligently arranged in order to function.
Professor Behe notes: “Some evolutionary biologists—like Richard Dawkins—have fertile imaginations. Given a starting point, they almost always can spin a story to get to any biological structure you wish . . . Science, however, cannot ultimately ignore relevant details, and at the molecular level all the ‘details’ become critical. If a molecular nut or bolt is missing, then the whole system can crash” (p. 65).
Astounding bird migrations
Consider another enormous biological complexity—how birds, such as certain storks, ducks, geese and robins, gained the ability to navigate accurately across thousands of miles of previously unknown territory and land in exactly the right zone and at the right time of year to feed and breed. Then, when winter ends in the northern hemisphere, they fly thousands of miles back and arrive safely in their same nesting grounds.
Homing experiments have revealed that these birds have inherited the ability to map their location using the stars by night and the sun by day. They subconsciously process astronomical data and gauge the altitude, latitude and longitude to fly unerringly to a predetermined place. They have an internal clock and calendar to let them know when to start and finish their migrations. Perhaps what is most surprising is that they are able to reach their distant destiny even on their first trip—without any experience!
For instance, the white-throated warbler migrates every year from Germany to Africa. Remarkably, when the adult birds migrate, they leave their offspring behind. Several weeks later, when the young birds are strong enough, they instinctively fly across thousands of miles of unknown land and sea to arrive at the same spot where their parents are waiting! How can these inexperienced birds navigate with such accuracy across thousands of miles and arrive safely to be reunited with their parents?
From North America the golden plover circumnavigates around most of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres in its migrations. After nesting in Canada and Alaska, plovers begin their trip from the northeastern tip of Canada and fly across the ocean down to Brazil and Argentina, a trip of more than 2,400 miles. When the season is over they travel back north, taking a different route through South and Central America, then up the Mississippi basin all the way to their nesting grounds. They do this flawlessly year after year.
Dr. Scott Huse comments: “The causes of migrations and the incredible sense of direction shown by these animals presents the evolutionist with one of the most baffling problems of science. Evolutionists are indeed hard-pressed to explain how these remarkable abilities evolved piecemeal through mere chance processes apart from any directing intelligence. The piecemeal development of such an instinct seems highly improbable because migratory instincts are useless unless perfect. Obviously, it is of no benefit to be able to navigate perfectly across only half of an ocean” ( The Collapse of Evolution, 1998, p. 34).
The salmon’s amazing cycle
Some species of salmon exhibit amazingly complex migrations. Hatching from eggs in streams, they spend the first few years of life in freshwater lakes and rivers. After growing to several inches they swim downstream to the ocean, where they adapt to a completely different chemical environment—saltwater—and spend the next few years.
In the process they often migrate for thousands of miles as they feed and grow. Eventually, toward the end of their lives, they leave the ocean environment and swim upriver and upstream against the current until they reach the very stretch of stream where they were hatched years earlier. There they spawn and die, with their decaying bodies providing nutrients for the newly laid eggs. The eggs then hatch to start a new generation, repeating the amazing cycle.
These many adaptations go against the supposed “numerous, successive, slight modifications” of evolutionary theory as well as plain common sense. If species are well adapted to live in freshwater, why undergo the physiological changes necessary to live in saltwater? And why the enormous and exhausting trip back to their original birthplace only to face certain death?
How do these fish, after traveling up to several thousand miles, manage to find the very streams in which they were first spawned several years earlier? No plausible evolutionary explanation has been offered.
The decoy fish
In Hawaiian waters swims the astounding decoy fish. When hunting for other fish to eat, it raises its dorsal fin, which appears as a small, helpless fish, complete with an apparent mouth and eye.
It then stays motionless except for the dorsal fin, which it moves from side to side to make the decoy appear to open and close its mouth. The fin itself becomes transparent except for its upper part, which looks like a separate fish. It turns a bright red, enhancing the illusion of a smaller fish. This unassuming creature thereby creates an optical illusion that even a Hollywood special-effects artist would envy. To an incoming fish the decoy looks like an easy meal, and as it moves in for the kill it suddenly finds itself inside the jaws of the decoy fish.
As Dr. Huse points out: “The decoy-fish clearly exhibits great ingenuity, attention to biological details, and a sense of purposefulness. No matter how one contorts one’s reasoning, one cannot explain such a marvel in terms of the evolutionary theory. Such clear design does not result from mere chance but rather requires careful and deliberate blueprint encoding within the DNA of the decoy-fish by a highly capable molecular programmer” (p. 36).
And there are other fish species that use similar deceptions to snare a meal. “One type of anglerfish has a ‘fishing rod’ coming out of its back with a luminescent ‘bulb’ at the end of it. Another, the deep-sea angler, has a ‘light bulb’ hanging from the roof of its mouth. It just swims around with an open mouth, dangling the lure from side to side. Small fish, attracted by the display, swim to their death right into the angler’s mouth!” (ibid.).
Dr. Huse also notes that anglerfish have the ability to move their “bait” in a manner that mimics the real thing; an anglerfish with a fishlike bait will move it in a swimming motion while one with an appendage resembling a shrimp will move it with a shrimp’s backward-darting motion. On those occasions when the anglerfish’s “bait” is nipped off—as could be expected to happen under the circumstances—the anglerfish can fully regrow it within two weeks (ibid.).
Denying undeniable evidence
By now you’ve probably realized that evolution as an explanation for the teeming varieties of life on earth—not to mention your existence as a thinking, rational human being—simply doesn’t add up. Furthermore, we’ve only scratched the surface (see “The Case Against Evolution” for suggestions on books that examine the subject in far greater detail).
So why, then, do so many people cling so tightly to a belief with so many deficiencies?
The apostle Paul’s comments about the philosophers of his day certainly apply to our day:
“For all that can be known of God lies plain before their eyes; indeed God himself has disclosed it to them. Ever since the world began his invisible attributes, that is to say his everlasting power and deity, have been visible to the eye of reason, in the things he has made. Their conduct, therefore, is indefensible; knowing God, they have refused to honour him as God, or to render him thanks. Hence all their thinking has ended in futility, and their misguided minds are plunged in darkness. They boast of their wisdom, but they have made fools of themselves, exchanging the glory of the immortal God for an image shaped like mortal man, even for images like birds, beasts, and reptiles.
“For this reason God has given them up to their own vile desires, and the consequent degradation of their bodies. They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and have offered reverence and worship to created things instead of to the Creator . . .” (Romans 1:19-25 Romans 1:19-25 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.
24 Why God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, Revised English Bible, emphasis added).
Rampant unbelief and immorality have a great deal to do with denying and refusing to obey a Creator God.
But changes are afoot in the face of overwhelming evidence.
“It is obvious that Darwin’s theory no longer has the standing it had a few years ago,” says Dr. Alan Hayward. “A small but significant minority of biologists have rejected it entirely, and are looking for a better theory to put in its place. So far, though, they have failed to find one . . . On the other hand, the case for the existence of the Creator is stronger today than it has ever been. In every branch of science there is a growing body of evidence that the universe and its contents have been designed — that things just could not be the way they are as the result of chance.
“This evidence has so much weight that even some eminent scientists who are unbelievers have had the courage to face it . . . The most reasonable answer to the question: Creation? is surely: Yes—creation of some sort” ( Creation and Evolution, 1985, p. 65, emphasis added).
Now, with our greater understanding of enormously complex and integrated systems that rule all living systems, many scientists are coming to see that Darwin’s theory that all life evolved through a gradual system of adaptations can be easily and satisfactorily refuted.
Professor Behe sums up the results of many years of working in molecular biochemistry: “The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life has proven to be a phantom; instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as the result of simple natural laws” (p. 252).
And the vast complexity of not just the basis of life but all of its systems and interrelationships diminishes the likelihood of evolution as an explanation for life on earth into utter impossibility.
Not surprisingly, conclusions such as these have not received much publicity. Most people are unaware of Darwinism’s many flaws and voluminous scientific findings and conclusions that contradict evolutionary theory. But recognition of the obvious fact that life was the product not of random forces but of intelligent design is gaining ground. And eventually, everyone will know.
Swedish zoo-physiologist Soren Lovtrup sums up: “I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science” ( Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, 1987, p. 422). What a remarkable day that will be!