Evolution For the Mentally Competent

Creation.com’s 15 Questions for Evolutionists are a lot better (and tougher) than Eric Hovind’s, but they still show an incredible ignorance of science, and laughably try to claim that science is “just like religion”. Nonsense.

1. How did life originate? Evolutionist Professor Paul Davies admitted, “Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell.” Andrew Knoll, professor of biology, Harvard, said, “we don’t really know how life originated on this planet.” A minimal cell needs several hundred proteins. Even if every atom in the universe were an experiment with all the correct amino acids present for every possible molecular vibration in the supposed evolutionary age of the universe, not even one average-sized functional protein would form. So how did life with hundreds of proteins originate just by chemistry without intelligent design?

Life began more than 4 billion years ago. The fact that we can learn anything about primitive life that lived that long ago is amazing. The fact that we don’t yet have the full picture of how that ancient life evolved is unsurprising. “We don’t know, therefore God” is some weak tea.

2. How did the DNA code originate? The code is a sophisticated language system with letters and words where the meaning of the words is unrelated to the chemical properties of the letters—just as the information on this page is not a product of the chemical properties of the ink (or pixels on a screen). What other coding system has existed without intelligent design? How did the DNA coding system arise without it being created?

There are many examples of systems with emergent properties. Conway’s game of life is a trivially simple automaton, yet seeding it with random noise can lead to moving and regenerating forms. Genetic algorithms find solutions to problems that are better than the best solutions that people can come up with by randomly mixing codes in much that same way genetic reproduction does. Neural networks are able to learn to do complex tasks by being trained with data rather than being designed.

3a. How could mutations—accidental copying mistakes (DNA ‘letters’ exchanged, deleted or added, genes duplicated, chromosome inversions, etc.)—create the huge volumes of information in the DNA of living things?

If you reproduce the same thing over and over with errors that can randomly delete, duplicate or scramble its parts, you can easily create huge volumes of code. Natural selection is what makes that code either beneficial (i.e. useful information) or harmless (i.e. junk DNA). Harmful mutations naturally die off.

3b. How could such errors create 3 billion letters of DNA information to change a microbe into a microbiologist? There is information for how to make proteins but also for controlling their use—much like a cookbook contains the ingredients as well as the instructions for how and when to use them. One without the other is useless. See: Meta-information: An impossible conundrum for evolution. Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful.

Most mutations are destructive, but when there are a billion billion billion reproductions, the small number that have a useful mutation is still significant. For example, a mutation in Denisovans, close cousins of humanity whose genome has been sequenced, was passed on to the Sherpa’s of Nepal, and is what allows them to live at higher altitudes than the rest of us.

3c. How can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible? E.g., How did a 32-component rotary motor like ATP synthase (which produces the energy currency, ATP, for all life), or robots like kinesin (a ‘postman’ delivering parcels inside cells) originate.

The same way in which the human eye originated. Don’t take my word for it. Watch as Richard Dawkins demonstrates the evolution of the eye.

4. Why is natural selection, a principle recognized by creationists, taught as ‘evolution’, as if it explains the origin of the diversity of life? By definition it is a selective process (selecting from already existing information), so is not a creative process. It might explain the survival of the fittest (why certain genes benefit creatures more in certain environments), but not the arrival of the fittest (where the genes and creatures came from in the first place). The death of individuals not adapted to an environment and the survival of those that are suited does not explain the origin of the traits that make an organism adapted to an environment. E.g., how do minor back-and-forth variations in finch beaks explain the origin of beaks or finches? How does natural selection explain goo-to-you evolution?

We now know that all birds evolved from non-avian dinosaurs. The earliest birds, like Archaeopterix, had teeth. The number of teeth animals have varies. Some environmental factor early in their evolution favoured birds that had fewer teeth, and so they developed toothless beaks.

5. How did new biochemical pathways, which involve multiple enzymes working together in sequence, originate? Every pathway and nano-machine requires multiple protein/enzyme components to work. How did lucky accidents create even one of the components, let alone 10 or 20 or 30 at the same time, often in a necessary programmed sequence. Evolutionary biochemist Franklin Harold wrote, “we must concede that there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations.

Since soft tissues rarely fossilize, and when they do, fine features like cell chemistry aren’t preserved, we can only look at existing life forms to see such evolution. Viruses, which are very simple life forms indeed, exhibit constant evolution. Without it, the human immune system would have wiped out the common cold millions of years ago.

6. Living things look like they were designed, so how do evolutionists know that they were not designed? Richard Dawkins wrote, “biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.”4 Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA, wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”5 The problem for evolutionists is that living things show too much design. Who objects when an archaeologist says that pottery points to human design? Yet if someone attributes the design in living things to a designer, that is not acceptable. Why should science be restricted to naturalistic causes rather than logical causes?

There are natural rock formations (like the giant’s causeway in Ireland) that look like they were designed. Just because something resembles something that a human designed does not mean it was designed. Science restricts causes to those that best explain the evidence. Every year that goes by, we have more evidence to support the theory of evolution.

7. How did multi-cellular life originate? How did cells adapted to individual survival ‘learn’ to cooperate and specialize (including undergoing programmed cell death) to create complex plants and animals?

Single celled organisms often live in communities. They form symbiotic relationships. Over time, if these prove beneficial to survival, the organisms grow more closely adapted to the relationship, until one cannot survive without the other. This is how the earliest multi cellular life evolved.

8. How did sex originate? Asexual reproduction gives up to twice as much reproductive success (‘fitness’) for the same resources as sexual reproduction, so how could the latter ever gain enough advantage to be selected? And how could mere physics and chemistry invent the complementary apparatuses needed at the same time (non-intelligent processes cannot plan for future coordination of male and female organs).

Asexual reproduction gives much less variation than sexual reproduction, where the viable genes from two organisms are mixed to produce offspring that has the traits of both parents. This allows organisms that reproduce sexually to evolve more quickly, offering them a strong advantage. As we have now learned, the differences between male and female organs are actually triggered by simple hormones. Originally, the genders of the simplest organisms that reproduced sexually would have been almost identical.

9. Why are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils missing? Darwin noted the problem and it still remains. The evolutionary family trees in textbooks are based on imagination, not fossil evidence. Famous Harvard paleontologist (and evolutionist), Stephen Jay Gould, wrote, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology”.6 Other evolutionist fossil experts also acknowledge the problem.

Fossilization is a very rare phenomenon. The number of fossilized gorillas ever found is roughly the same as the number of fossilized Australopithicenes found. However, with every year that goes by, we are filling in the transitional fossils. The evolution of whales from land mammals, birds from dinosaurs, and humans from our apelike ancestors, is now better understood than it has ever been. If you want to disprove a theory, you must find evidence that contradicts it.

10. How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years, if evolution has changed worms into humans in the same time frame? Professor Gould wrote, “the maintenance of stability within species must be considered as a major evolutionary problem.”

If an organism is sufficiently well adapted to its ecological niche to be able to outdo its competition, it has no evolutionary pressure. Dawkins, in the video I linked above, explains the phenomenon of local maxima: when an organism evolves something that is good enough, it is unlikely to devolve and then evolve into something better.

11. How did blind chemistry create mind/ intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality? If everything evolved, and we invented God, as per evolutionary teaching, what purpose or meaning is there to human life? Should students be learning nihilism (life is meaningless) in science classes?

Evolutionary biology doesn’t explain everything about the mind. Intelligence evolved. Brain size increased gradually in hominids. Much of morality evolved to allow cooperative hunting and the raising of children who, due to our larger brains, take a long time to become independent. It’s easy to see how altruism to the tribe would be advantageous. Once humans became sophisticated enough to start thinking about what we were thinking, we began to evolve these basic instincts into higher concepts. Science does not teach nihilism.

12. Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated? Evolutionists often use flexible story-telling to ‘explain’ observations contrary to evolutionary theory. NAS(USA) member Dr Philip Skell wrote, “Darwinian explanations for such things are often too supple: Natural selection makes humans self-centered and aggressive—except when it makes them altruistic and peaceable. Or natural selection produces virile men who eagerly spread their seed—except when it prefers men who are faithful protectors and providers. When an explanation is so supple that it can explain any behavior, it is difficult to test it experimentally, much less use it as a catalyst for scientific discovery.”

Evolutionary psychology is far less a science than biology, but it does hold explanatory and predictive power. Humans are overwhelmingly self-centered and aggressive because that enables survival, but war also hurts ones chances of surviving. Spreading ones seed is obviously a good survival strategy, but protecting and providing for ones offspring is also essential. It doesn’t matter how many children you have if they all die in the winter. It’s too bad if you expect simple answers. Humans are complex, and are capable of holding irrational contradictory beliefs.

13. Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution? Dr Marc Kirschner, chair of the Department of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, stated: “In fact, over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, have not taken evolution into account at all.”9 Dr Skell wrote, “It is our knowledge of how these organisms actually operate, not speculations about how they may have arisen millions of years ago, that is essential to doctors, veterinarians, farmers … .”10 Evolution actually hinders medical discovery.11 Then why do schools and universities teach evolution so dogmatically, stealing time from experimental biology that so benefits humankind?

As I mentioned previously, genetic algorithms are based directly on evolution. It also directly illuminates many aspects of genetics. Pure mathematics often similarly has little application. Yet without the pure sciences, the applied sciences would not be where they are today. Without genetics, we wouldn’t know about the genetic causes of many diseases. Without the theory of evolution, we might never have discovered genetics.

14. Science involves experimenting to figure out how things work; how they operate. Why is evolution, a theory about history, taught as if it is the same as this operational science? You cannot do experiments, or even observe what happened, in the past. Asked if evolution has been observed, Richard Dawkins said, “Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”

Experimental and theoretical science go hand in hand. Without a theory to test, you don’t know what experiments to run. When you have a theory about something that happened long ago (e.g. the big bang), you look for things that theory predicts (e.g. cosmic background radiation). When you find these things, they confirm the theory. Mathematics is a good example of a non-experimental science. When a mathematician comes up with a new conjecture, he doesn’t run experiments. If he can mathematically prove it, it becomes a theorem.

15. Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes? Karl Popper, famous philosopher of science, said “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical [religious] research programme ….”13 Michael Ruse, evolutionist science philosopher admitted, “Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”14 If “you can’t teach religion in science classes”, why is evolution taught?

Religion teaches that we must take things on faith alone (sola fide). Science teaches that a hypothesis becomes a theory when it best fits the evidence. Evolution best fits the evidence. Creationism doesn’t explain why we have appendices, or tail bones. It doesn’t explain why early birds had teeth, or claws on their wings. It doesn’t explain why early whales had legs, why the platypus lays eggs, or why snakes have leg bones. Evolution explains all these things. When something contradicts a scientific theory, the theory is altered or discarded entirely. We know that the Earth is billions of years old. We know that humans evolved from apes. When facts contradict the things you believe, its time to examine your beliefs critically.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
This entry was posted in philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Evolution For the Mentally Competent

  1. Thanks for the very nice collection. When I finally read “The Selfish Gene” what struck me was the similarity between his use of Von Neumann’s game theory to arrive at conclusions not very different from the individualist ethics in Atlas Shrugged, themselves extrapolated from Mencken’s “Treatise on Right and Wrong.” Tragically, the same bigots who attacked Darsin, Crick and Watson tried to lynch Dawkins, and left him with the impression that advocates of uncoerced laissez-faire were aggressors. His siding with the looter persuasion is a horrible consequence of package-dealing leading to bad reactions.

  2. jimbelton says:

    Richard Dawkins is a fascinating example of the split brain. On one hand, in the domain of biology, he refuses to take things on faith, instead following the evidence. On the other, in the larger sphere, he accepts the mainstream political dogma seemingly on faith,

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s