Here at the start of the 21st century, the theory of evolution remains the dominant explanation in schools and the mass media about the appearance and the wondrous variety of more than a million living species on planet earth.
Of course, not all areas of the world place the same emphasis on the theory. In China, for instance, a paleontologist quipped to an American colleague: “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin” (“The Church of Darwin,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16, 1999).
Interestingly, France, Spain, Latin America and Islamic countries haven't accepted the theory with the same enthusiasm. Nevertheless, in Great Britain, where Darwin was born, and in America, which has received so much of its cultural heritage from the British, as well as in Germany, Darwin's ideas on evolution are still king and criticism is frowned upon.
A beleaguered theory
Why is this theory, soon to become 150 years old, so prevalent? What is its basis and how firmly is it rooted? To some it has supplanted religion—and also become a religion.
“Next to the Bible,” anthropologist Ashley Montagu claims, “no work has been quite as influential, in virtually every aspect of human thought, as The Origin of Species” ( The Origin of Species, 1958, Mentor edition, quote on the back cover).
Surely the theory must have impressive proofs for it to be supported so vocally by so many scientists and college professors. Yet, surprisingly, some of these same scientists, in more candid moments, have admitted that Darwin's book did not really explain what its title refers to—the origin of species.
Gordon Taylor, for instance, in his pro-evolution book Great Evolution Mystery, mentions: “As Professor Ernst Mayr of Harvard, the doyen [senior member] of species studies, once remarked, the “book called The Origin of Species is not really on that subject', while his colleague Professor Simpson admits: “Darwin failed to solve the problem indicated by the title of his work.'
“You may be surprised to hear that the origin of species remains just as much a mystery today, despite the efforts of thousands of biologists. The topic has been the main focus of attention and is beset by endless controversies” (1983, p. 140, emphasis added throughout). And the controversy continues today.
But why should this controversy persist? If the theory of evolution is, as some scientists claim, as sure as the theory of gravity, then why do we see so much wrangling and doubt? In the United States, for example, a nationwide poll in 2005 revealed that only 22 percent, a little more than one in five, believed human beings evolved from earlier species as the theory of evolution claims.
What natural selection can and cannot do
It is important, first of all, to distinguish what Darwin discovered from what he did not. He did find out that natural selection can preserve advantageous changes in a species. He did not find out how these variations originate .
Darwin noted in The Origin of Species: “Natural selection acts exclusively by the preservation and accumulation of variations, which are beneficial under the organic and inorganic conditions to which each creature is exposed at all periods of life. The ultimate result is that each creature tends to become more and more improved in relation to its condition . . . This principle of preservation, or the survival of the fittest, I have called Natural Selection” (pp. 124, 130).
Yet it's a long way from explaining merely how the species survived to how it had arrived! As biochemist and agnostic Michael Denton states: “The fact is that the evidence was so patchy one hundred years ago that even Darwin himself had increasing doubts as to the validity of his views, and the only aspect of his theory which has received any support over the past century is where it applies to micro-evolutionary phenomena.
“His general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe” ( Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1985, p. 77).
No direct evidence to support evolution
Very few have actually read The Origin of Species from cover to cover—and admittedly, to most it is a very tedious book. Darwin himself called it “one long argument” (p. 435).
Darwin was a dedicated naturalist and loaded the book with numerous observations from the natural world in an attempt to convince his readers of his assumptions. Yet he himself confessed in his book that he did not have any direct evidence for his theory, only analogies and possible examples from nature.
He mentions in the introduction of his book, “For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those which I have arrived” (p. 28).
In another candid moment, Darwin acknowledged to a friend, “I do not pretend to adduce direct evidence of one species changing into another” (Letter to F.W. Hutton, April 20, 1861).
He admits in his book: “If my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed; but the very process of natural selection constantly tends, as has been so often remarked, to exterminate the parent-forms and the intermediate links. Consequently evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains, which are preserved, as we shall attempt to show in a future chapter, in an extremely imperfect and intermittent record” (p. 166).
So he recognizes that there aren't any living species in transitional forms he can point to as evidence and says we must go to the ancient fossils for any support. Ironically, he also explains that natural selection does not preserve the transitional forms, but actually exterminates them.
This is a clever way of disposing of the corpse! In other words, he can't find the evidence among living things for his theory because the chief method of evolution, natural selection, has eliminated the proofs!
Evidence missing from the fossil record
What about the fossil record? Surely here, one thinks, Darwin will present the clear evidence for his case. However, he later admits it's not there as well! “Why then,” he reluctantly asks, “is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geologic record” (pp. 293-294).
A bit later, he concedes: “The number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great . But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon the earth. Independently of our not finding fossil remains of such infinitely numerous connecting links, it may be objected that time cannot have sufficed for so great an amount of organic change” (p. 295).
With a clever sleight of hand, he says the proof can't be found presently on the earth but in the past—and then later says it's not in the past either, and blames the fossil record for not showing the support he needed!
800 examples of the subjunctive mood
So what was he to do without genuine evidence? He supposed, conjectured, guessed and concocted. One enterprising reviewer of Darwin's book counted some 800 examples of the subjunctive mood—of suppositions about the theory—using “if,” “maybe,” “perhaps,” “possibly,” “might,” “could,” “conceivably” and many fictional illustrations.
If this theory is backed, as evolutionist Richard Dawkins claims, by proofs certain as “the earth going around the sun,” then why is there so much speculation?
Why not just present the concrete evidence as in any other scientific theory? Because Darwin's theory is not just another scientific theory, but a philosophical viewpoint —and, for many, a belief system. It promotes materialistic naturalism—the idea that all that exists in the universe is matter and its laws, and that all things evolved without the need for a Creator!
“It is ironic to recall,” says Dr. Denton, “that it was the increasingly secular outlook in the nineteenth century which initially eased the way for the acceptance of evolution, while today it is perhaps the Darwinian view of nature more than any other that is responsible for the agnostic and skeptical outlook of the twentieth century. What was once a deduction from materialism has today become its foundation” ( Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, p. 358).
No true missing links
Now what about the geological evidence? After another 150 years of digging and searching on every continent, have scientists found the vital fossils Darwin called “the connecting links”?
“Since Darwin's time,” Dr. Denton goes on to say, “the search for missing links in the fossil record has continued on an ever-increasing scale. So vast has been the expansion of paleontological activity over the past one hundred years that probably 99.9% of all paleontological work has been carried out since 1860” (p. 160).
“Despite the tremendous increase in geological activity in every corner of the globe,” he adds, “and despite the discovery of many strange and hitherto unknown forms, the infinitude of connecting links has still not been discovered and the fossil record is about as discontinuous as it was when Darwin was writing the Origin. The intermediates have remained as elusive as ever and their absence remains, a century later, one of the most striking characteristics of the fossil record” (p. 162).
There is, consequently, no “smoking gun” found in the fossil record that backs Darwin's theory.
How about some of the examples Darwin used in his book? How have they fared? Incredibly, they have all turned out to be myths about evolution! Let's look at some of those supposed proofs.
From flying fish to flying birds
Darwin, for example, imagined flying fish could gradually turn into birds. He wrote, “Seeing that a few members of such water-breathing classes as the Crustacea and Mollusca are adapted to live on the land; and seeing that we have flying birds . . . it is conceivable that flying-fish, which now glide far through the air, slightly rising and turning by the aid of their fluttering fins, might have been modified into perfectly winged animals” ( The Origin of Species, p. 168).
Does he present any evidence of the gradual change of this flying fish? No, he doesn't have any evidence from living animals or fossils. So what does he do?
He resorts to an imaginary explanation. “Thus, to return to our imaginary illustration of the flying-fish,” he says, “it does not seem probable that fishes capable of true flight would have been developed under many subordinate forms . . . Hence the chance of discovering species with transitional grades of structure in a fossil condition will always be less, from their having existed in lesser numbers, than in the case of species with fully developed structures” (p. 169).
Since he doesn't have any examples of how flying fish evolve into something else, he then explains away the evidence by saying that the chance of finding transitional forms will always be “less” than species with fully developed structures. But “less” does not mean “none.” In fact, he doesn't present a single example to back his claim. His book is full of such baseless and speculative illustrations used as supposed proofs.
Modern evolutionists, it should be noted, have long since rejected Darwin's proposal that birds came from flying fish. The current popular conception is that they came from dinosaurs.
The long neck of the giraffe
Darwin was aware of a notable case against his theory—the giraffe, the tallest living animal. How could this creature develop its long neck—and where are its previous ancestors?
This is his explanation: “The giraffe, by its lofty stature, much elongated neck, forelegs, head and tongue, has its whole frame beautifully adapted for browsing on the higher branches of trees . . . In every district some one kind of animal will almost certainly be able to browse higher than the others; and it is almost equally certain that this one kind alone could have its neck elongated for this purpose, through natural selection and the effects of increased use” (p. 205, 207). No examples are given, no fossil ancestors are cited, just speculation.
Today, we know animals can't acquire characteristics through increased use or disuse. Scientists have cut the tails of mice for hundreds of generations and none have ever been born without tails. Darwin didn't know the truth about the laws of heredity that were being discovered by Gregor Mendel and others that revealed fixed genetic walls on living things, and so he erroneously thought creatures could acquire elongated characteristics by continually stretching their necks.
Also, could he show examples of the gradual development of the giraffe's neck? No he couldn't, so he again resorted to conjectures. When pressed by the critics of his time to present the evidence for the gradual elongated necks, he admitted, “Why, in other quarters of the world, various animals belonging to the same order have not acquired either an elongated neck or a proboscis cannot be distinctly answered; but it is as unreasonable to expect a distinct answer to such a question, as why some event in the history of mankind did not occur in one country, whilst it did in another” (p. 207).
Here we see Darwin confessing his ignorance as to how the giraffe developed its elongated neck! Then, when helpless to provide solid evidence for his theory, he resorted to a meaningless comparison to man's historical events!
He ends the section on the giraffe by admitting, “Except by assigning such general and vague reasons, we cannot explain why, in many quarters of the world, hoofed quadrupeds have not acquired much elongated necks or other means for browsing on the higher branches of trees” (p. 208).
One scientist, after considering this brazen flight of fantasy about giraffes, was so dismayed with the theory that he said, “I have always been slightly suspicious of the theory of evolution because of its ability to account for any property of living beings (the long neck of the giraffe, for example). I have therefore tried to see whether biological discoveries over the last thirty years or so fit in with Darwin's theory. I do not think that they do. To my mind, the theory does not stand up at all” (H.S. Lipson, “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, 1980, p. 138).
What would happen to an animal that grows a longer neck? To survive, it would also have to simultaneously develop stronger bronchial arches, greater musculature and a bigger heart or else it would be a disadvantage to have a longer neck—and probably lethal.
As Francis Hitching says, “Looking at the lifestyle of giraffes, it is hard to see that the traditional Darwinian selection pressures of competition for survival in conditions of overcrowding, and predation by other species, have very much to do with their extraordinary shape . . . The need to survive by reaching ever higher for food is, like so many Darwinian explanations of its kind, little more than a post hoc speculation” ( The Neck of the Giraffe, 1982, pp. 178-179).
In a future issue we will examine more examples of the myths of evolution. GN