15 Answers to John Rennie and Scientific American’s Nonsense--Argument #01
||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
1. [Creationists suggest that] evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.
Rennie argued that while “laypeople” may use the term theory as something that falls “in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty—above a mere hypothesis but below a law,” the truth is that “scientists do not use the terms that way” (2002, 287:79). To support his argument, he then offered the following definition of a scientific theory from the National Academy of Sciences: “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.” [Keep in mind that the NAS is the same group that, in 1998, mailed its 140-page indoctrination manual, Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science, to every science teacher in America.]
We recognize that the definition of “theory” is itself “evolving.” What once was considered a standard textbook definition no longer is viewed as paying sufficient homage to evolutionary theory. Thus, while pro-evolution organizations such as the National Academy of Sciences may not define a theory the way most people do, we ask you to consider the definition given by scientists for scientists. For example, in her widely used Dictionary of Modern Biology, Norah Rudin defined a theory as: “similar to a hypothesis but usually wider in scope. Explanatory theories for sets of phenomena are developed by observation and experimentation” (1997, p. 367). Stedman’s Medical Dictionary defines a theory as: “a reasoned explanation of the manner in which something occurs, lacking absolute proof ” (McDonough, 1994, p. 1023, emp. added). This definition is only slightly better than the one found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which says that a theory is an “abstract thought” (p. 749), and uses words like “hypothesis” and “conjecture” as synonyms.
It is these kinds of definitions of a “lack of proof ” that has brought about the need for a radically different definition of the word “theory” in the evolutionists’ camp. Evolutionists realize the necessity of changing the status of evolution from a theory to that of a fact in order to sell their theory to the general populace. They therefore expend great effort to convince people to stop speaking of the “theory” of evolution, and to speak instead of the “fact” of evolution.
But in order to accomplish this, they must redefine the word “fact” as it is used in science. And redefine they have! John Rennie is hardly the first to attempt such a redefinition. As long ago as 1965, George Gaylord Simpson and W.S. Beck attempted such a redefinition in their biology text, Life: An Introduction to Biology, and ended their “redefining” section by claiming that theories ultimately
...may be just as certain—merit just as much confidence—as what are popularly called “facts.” Belief that the sun will rise tomorrow is the confident application of a generalization. The theory that life has evolved is founded on much more evidence than supports the generalization that the sun rises every day. In the vernacular, we are justified in calling both “facts” (1965, p. 16).
Twenty-two years later, in the January 1987 issue of the popular-science magazine Discover, Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard authored a lengthy article titled “Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory.” In this particular article, Gould expressed his extreme agitation at the inability of certain people (who should know better, he said) to properly address evolution by its rightful designation—as a fact, not a theory. The specific cause (this time) for his discomfiture was an article in the September 30, 1986 issue of the New York Times by syndicated columnist Irving Kristol (“Room for Darwinism and the Bible”). Dr. Gould acknowledged both his dismay and dissatisfaction at the apparent inability of people like Mr. Kristol to distinguish (to use Gould’s own words) “the central distinction between secure fact and healthy debate about theory” (1987a, 8:64). Dr. Gould then explained himself when he noted:
Facts are the world’s data; theories are explanations proposed to interpret and coordinate facts. The fact of evolution is as well established as anything in science (as secure as the revolution of the earth about the sun), though absolute certainty has no place in our lexicon. Theories, or statements about the causes of documented evolutionary change, are now in a period of intense debate—a good mark of science in its healthiest state. Facts don’t disappear while scientists debate theories (p. 64, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Later, Gould wrote that “...evolution is also a fact of nature, and so do we teach it as well, just as our geological colleagues describe the structure of silicate minerals, and astronomers the elliptical orbits of the planets” (p. 65).
What could be clearer? Dr. Gould wanted everyone to know that evolution is a fact. How evolution occurred may be considered by some to be merely a “theory”; that evolution has occurred is a fact not open for further discussion. Gould even commented: “I don’t want to sound like a shrill dogmatist shouting ‘rally ’round the flag boys,’ but biologists have reached a consensus...about the fact of evolution” (p. 69). [In a guest editorial in the August 23, 1999 issue of Time magazine, Dr. Gould boasted that “evolution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science, as strongly as the earth’s revolution around the sun rather than vice versa. In this sense, we can call evolution a ‘fact’ ” (154:59).] Gould was upset because there are those who refuse to acknowledge evolution as a fact. According to him, “evolution is a fact, like apples falling out of trees” (as quoted in Adler, 1980, 96:95).
Twelve years after Dr. Gould’s Discover article was published, evolutionist Robert Pennock employed the same plan of attack in his book, Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism, when he wrote:
Biologists take Darwin’s thesis of the history of descent with modification from common ancestors to be a fact. The key evolutionary mechanisms of variation by mutation and recombination, genetic inheritance, natural selection, random drift, and so on are also known to be factual. Many broad features of the evolutionary pathways are also accepted as fact. All these core conclusions are based on such overwhelming observational and experimental evidence, both indirect and direct, that it is highly unlikely that they could ever be overturned. These are all parts of evolutionary theory and they are also all facts. There are other evolutionary hypotheses that have not yet garnered sufficient evidence and whose “facthood” is still in question, especially ones having to do with particular pathways of descent or with the relative importance of natural selection versus drift, for example, as the cause of some particular biological feature. It is also accepted that the theory of evolutionary processes is incomplete, that many details of the mechanisms have yet to be worked out, and that there could be as yet unknown processes working in tandem with the known mechanisms that are important in generating the patterns of order and disorder that characterize the biological world. As research uncovers more about these processes, we can expect that new findings will supplement and refine evolutionary theory but not undermine the factual elements that the evidence has already established (1999, p. 177, emp. added).
And so, we are told, the “fact” of evolution is well established, even though there are “other evolutionary hypotheses” yet to be worked out. This is an odd turn of events. Why so?
A fact normally is defined as an actual occurrence or something that has real existence. A theory is a plausible principle or body of principles—supported by at least some facts—intended to explain various phenomena. With those standard-usage definitions in mind, consider the following in regard to evolutionary “theory.”
Charles Darwin, in his Origin of Species, stated: “Long before the reader has arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to him. Some of them are so serious that to this day I can hardly reflect on them without being in some degree staggered” (1859, p. 158). Theodosius Dobzhansky, the late, eminent geneticist of the Rockefeller University, stated in his book, The Biological Basis of Human Freedom: “Evolution as a historical fact was proved beyond reasonable doubt not later than in the closing decades of the nineteenth century.” Yet two pages later he stated: “There is no doubt that both the historical and the causal aspects of the evolutionary process are far from completely known.... The causes which have brought about the development of the human species can be only dimly discerned” (1956, pp. 6,8-9, emp. added). Notice Dobzhansky’s admission that both the historical (what Gould refers to as the “fact” of evolution) and the causal (what Gould refers to as the “theory” of evolution) are “far from completely known.”
In other words, on the one hand evolution is declared to be a fact, yet on the other hand its defenders readily acknowledge that the process is “far from completely known,” has causes that are “only dimly discerned,” and difficulties that are “staggering.” Evolutionist W. LeGros Clark wrote: “What was the ultimate origin of man?... Unfortunately, any answers which can at present be given to these questions are based on indirect evidence and thus are largely conjectural” (1955, p. 174, emp. added). Kerkut, as an evolutionist, stated:
...I believe that the theory of Evolution as presented by orthodox evolutionists is in many ways a satisfying explanation of some of the evidence. At the same time I think that the attempt to explain all living forms in terms of evolution from a unique source...is premature and not satisfactorily supported by present-day evidence. ...the supporting evidence remains to be discovered.... We can, if we like, believe that such an evolutionary system has taken place, but I for one do not think that “it has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt.” ...It is very depressing to find that many subjects are being encased in scientific dogmatism (1960, pp. vii, viii, emp. added).
After listing and discussing the seven non-provable assumptions upon which evolution is based, Dr. Kerkut then observed: “The first point that I should like to make is that these seven assumptions by their nature are not capable of experimental verification” (p. 7, emp. added).
This stinging rebuke of the alleged factuality of evolution is not an isolated instance. W.R. Thompson, while serving as Director of the Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control in Canada, penned the “Introduction” to the 1956 edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species, in which he wrote:
Darwin did not show in the Origin that species had originated by natural selection; he merely showed, on the basis of certain facts and assumptions, how this might have happened, and as he had convinced himself he was able to convince others.... On the other hand, it does appear to me that Darwin in the Origin was not able to produce palaeontological evidence sufficient to prove his views but that the evidence he did produce was adverse to them; and I may note that the position is not notably different today. The modern Darwinian palaeontologists are obliged, just like their predecessors and like Darwin, to water down the facts with subsidiary hypotheses which, however plausible, are in the nature of things unverifiable (pp. xii, xix, emp. added).
As Charles Darwin’s brother, Erasmus, put it in a letter to Charles on November 23, 1859 (one day before the publication of The Origin of Species: “Concerning species, in fact the a priori reasoning is so entirely satisfactory to me that if the facts won’t fit, why so much the worse for the facts, in my feeling” (as quoted in Francis Darwin, 1888, 2:29).
Evolutionists dogmatically assert that evolution is a fact, yet admit that it: (a) is based upon non-provable assumptions that are “not capable of experimental verification”; (b) bases its conclusions upon answers that are “largely conjectural”; (c) is faced with evidence “adverse” to the available facts; (d) is built upon “watered down” facts; and (e) has both historical and causal aspects that “are far from completely known.” Little wonder Dr. Kerkut stated concerning the theory of evolution: “The evidence that supports it is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it anything more than a working hypothesis” (1960, p. 157). What a far cry from the assessments of Gould, Rennie, and their colleagues in the modern evolutionary camp.
Someone might object, however, that the quotations we have employed (from evolutionists such as Dobzhansky, Clark, and others) to document the nonverifiability of evolution are from the 1950s and 1960s. Much scientific research on evolution has occurred in the decades that followed, and thus it might be considered unfair to rely on such “dated” critiques of a concept like evolution that changes so rapidly and that has been studied so intensely.
Keep reading. We began with the quotations from the 1950s and 1960s intentionally, in order to document that the situation over the past four decades has not improved. By the 1970s, for example, little to nothing had changed. At the height of his professional career, Pierre-Paul Grassé was considered by many to be France’s greatest living zoologist. In fact, Dobzhansky wrote of him: “Now one can disagree with Grassé, but not ignore him. He is the most distinguished of French zoologists, the editor of the 28 volumes of Traité de Zoologie, author of numerous original investigations, and ex-president of the Academie des Sciences. His knowledge of the living world is encyclopedic” (1975, 29:376). In 1977, Grassé wrote in The Evolution of Living Organisms:
Today our duty is to destroy the myth of evolution, considered as a simple, understood, and explained phenomenon which keeps rapidly unfolding before us. Biologists must be encouraged to think about the weaknesses and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths. The deceit is sometimes unconscious, but not always, since some people, owing to their sectarianism, purposely overlook reality and refuse to acknowledge the inadequacies and falsity of their beliefs.
Their success among certain biologists, philosophers, and sociologists notwithstanding, the explanatory doctrines of biological evolution do not stand up to an objective, in-depth criticism. They prove to be either in conflict with reality or else incapable of solving the major problems involved (pp. 8,202, emp. added).
Three years later, in 1980, British physicist H.S. Lipson produced a thought-provoking piece in the May issue of Physics Bulletin (a refereed science journal). In his article, “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Dr. Lipson commented first on his interest in life’s origin and, second, on his non-association with creationists. He then noted: “In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to ‘bend’ their observations to fit with it.” Lipson went on to ask how well evolution has withstood the years of scientific testing, and suggested that “to my mind, the theory does not stand up at all.” Lipson concluded: “I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation.” Like other evolutionists who have voiced similar views, Dr. Lipson hardly was ecstatic about his conclusion—a fact he made clear when he wrote: “I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it” (31:138, emp. in orig.). What a unique idea—actually accepting the experimental evidence rather than employing bombast and vitriol in an attempt to coerce people into believing evolution!
Just a little over a year afterward, on November 5, 1981, the late Colin Patterson (one of the world’s foremost fossil experts who at the time was serving as senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History in London and editor of the professional journal published by the museum) delivered a public address to his evolutionist colleagues at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. In his speech, Dr. Patterson astonished those colleagues when he stated that he had been “kicking around” non-evolutionary, or “anti-evolutionary,” ideas for about eighteen months. As he went on to describe it:
One morning I woke up and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That’s quite a shock to learn that one can be misled so long. Either there was something wrong with me, or there was something wrong with evolution theory (1981).
Dr. Patterson said he knew there was nothing wrong with him, so he started asking various individuals and groups a simple question: “Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History, and the only answer I got was silence.” He tried it on the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar at the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all he got there “was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, ‘I do know one thing—it ought not to be taught in high school.’ ” Patterson then remarked: “It does seem that the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkably shallow. We know it ought not to be taught in high school, and that’s all we know about it.”
Patterson went on to say: “Then I woke up and realized that all my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth in some way.” But more important, he termed evolution an “anti-theory” that produced “anti-knowledge.” He also suggested that “the explanatory value of the hypothesis is nil,” and that evolution theory is “a void that has the function of knowledge but conveys none.” To use Patterson’s wording, “I feel that the effects of hypotheses of common ancestry in systematics has not been merely boring, not just a lack of knowledge, I think it has been positively anti-knowledge” (1981; cf. Bethell, 1985).
Dr. Patterson made it clear, as we wish to do here, that he had no fondness for the creationist position. Yet he did refer to his stance as “anti-evolutionary,” which was quite a change for a man who had authored several books (the last of which was titled simply Evolution) in the field that he later acknowledged was capable of producing only “anti-knowledge.”
Colin Patterson was not the only one expressing such views, however. For more than two decades, distinguished British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle stressed the serious problems—once again, especially from the fields of thermodynamics—with various theories regarding the naturalistic origin of life on the Earth. The same year that Dr. Patterson traveled to America to speak, Dr. Hoyle wrote:
I don’t know how long it is going to be before astronomers generally recognize that the combinatorial arrangement of not even one among the many thousands of biopolymers on which life depends could have been arrived at by natural processes here on the Earth. Astronomers will have a little difficulty in understanding this because they will be assured by biologists that it is not so, the biologists having been assured in their turn by others that it is not so. The “others” are a group of persons who believe, quite openly, in mathematical miracles. They advocate the belief that tucked away in nature, outside of normal physics, there is a law which performs miracles (provided the miracles are in the aid of biology). This curious situation sits oddly on a profession that for long has been dedicated to coming up with logical explanations of biblical miracles.... It is quite otherwise, however, with the modern miracle workers, who are always to be found living in the twilight fringes of thermodynamics (1981a, 92:526, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Hoyle, and Chandra Wickramasinghe (professor of astronomy and applied mathematics at the University College, Cardiff, Wales), went even further. Using probability figures applied to cosmic time (not just geologic time here on the Earth), their conclusion was:
Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make the random concept absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate.... It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect in a valid way the higher intelligences...even to the extreme idealized limit of God (1981, pp. 141,144, emp. in orig.).
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe suggested, however, that this “higher intelligence” did not necessarily have to be, as far as they were concerned, what most people would call “God,” but simply a being with an intelligence “to the limit of God.” They, personally, opted for “directed panspermia,” a view which suggests that life was “planted” on the Earth via genetic material that originated from a “higher intelligence” somewhere in the Universe. One year later, in 1982, Dr. Hoyle wrote:
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question (20:16, emp. added).
Three years after that, in 1985, molecular biologist Michael Denton authored Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, in which he stated:
In this book, I have adopted the radical approach. By presenting a systematic critique of the current Darwinian model, ranging from paleontology to molecular biology, I have tried to show why I believe that the problems are too severe and too intractable to offer any hope of resolution in terms of the orthodox Darwinian framework, and that consequently the conservative view is no longer tenable.
The intuitive feeling that pure chance could never have achieved the degree of complexity and ingenuity so ubiquitous in nature has been a continuing source of scepticism ever since the publication of the Origin; and throughout the past century there has always existed a significant minority of first-rate biologists who have never been able to bring themselves to accept the validity of Darwinian claims. In fact, the number of biologists who have expressed some degree of disillusionment is practically endless.
The anti-evolutionary thesis argued in this book, the idea that life might be fundamentally a discontinuous phenomenon, runs counter to the whole thrust of modern biological thought.... Put simply, no one has ever observed the interconnecting continuum of functional forms linking all known past and present species of life. The concept of the continuity of nature has existed in the mind of man, never in the facts of nature (pp. 16,327,353, emp. in orig.).
In 1987, two years after Denton’s book was published, Swedish biologist Søren Løvtrup wrote in an even stronger vein:
After this step-wise elimination, only one possibility remains: the Darwinian theory of natural selection, whether or not coupled with Mendelism, is false. I have already shown that the arguments advanced by the early champions were not very compelling, and that there are now considerable numbers of empirical facts which do not fit with the theory. Hence, to all intents and purposes the theory has been falsified, so why has it not been abandoned? I think the answer is that current evolutionists follow Darwin’s example—they refuse to accept falsifying evidence (p. 352, emp. added).
The next year, in 1988, physicist George Greenstein wrote:
As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather, Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit? (1988, p. 27).
In 1992, Arno Penzias (who fourteen years earlier had shared the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics with Robert W. Wilson for their discovery of the so-called “background radiation” left over from the Big Bang) declared:
Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say “supernatural”) plan [p. 83, parenthetical comment in orig.].
In his 1994 book, The Physics of Immortality, Frank Tipler (who co-authored with John D. Barrow the massive 1986 volume, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle) wrote:
When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics (Preface).
Then, in 1998, evolutionist Michael Denton shocked everyone with his new book, Nature’s Destiny, when he admitted:
Because this book presents a teleological interpretation of the cosmos which has obvious theological implications, it is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science—that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes....
Although this is obviously a book with many theological implications, my initial intention was not specifically to develop an argument for design; however, as I researched more deeply into the topic and as the manuscript went through successive drafts, it became increasingly clear that the laws of nature were fine-tuned on earth to a remarkable degree and that the emerging picture provided powerful and self-evident support for the traditional anthropocentric teleological view of the cosmos. Thus, by the time the final draft was finished, the book had become in effect an essay in natural theology in the spirit and tradition of William Paley’s Natural Theology….
Whether one accepts or rejects the design hypothesis…there is no avoiding the conclusion that the world looks as if it has been tailored for life; it appears to have been designed. All reality appears to be a vast, coherent, teleological whole with life and mankind as its purpose and goal (pp. xvii-xviii,xi-xii, 387, emp. in orig.).
Such quotations could be multiplied almost endlessly. Even a cursory examination documents that there is much more that is “unknown” than “known” in the evolutionary scenario, and that life “appears to have been designed” by some “supernatural Agency” Who served as a “superintellect” to monkey with the physics, biology, chemistry, etc. Furthermore, consider what has not been proved about evolution.
First, evolution cannot be established as “factual” unless something nonliving can give rise to something living—that is to say, spontaneous generation must have occurred. Evolution, in its entirety, is based on this principle. But what evidence is there that the concept of spontaneous generation is, in fact, correct? What evidence is there that life arose from nonlife? In their biology textbook, Life: An Introduction to Biology, evolutionists Simpson and Beck begrudgingly admitted that the spontaneous generation of life “does not occur in any known case” (1965, p. 261). Twelve years later, in his book, Until the Sun Dies, Robert Jastrow, the founder and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, summarized the situation as follows:
According to this story, every tree, every blade of grass, and every creature in the sea and on the land evolved out of one parent strand of molecular matter drifting lazily in a warm pool. What concrete evidence supports that remarkable theory of the origin of life? There is none (1977, p. 60).
Four years after that, in 1981, Sir Fred Hoyle complained in Nature magazine:
The likelihood of the spontaneous formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it.... It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence (1981b, 294:148, emp. added).
A decade later, in 1991, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe published in New Scientist an article with a catchy title (“Where Microbes Boldly Went”) but a dismal message—dismal, that is, for evolutionists who are forced by their theory to believe in the concept of biochemical evolution that allegedly produced the first life on Earth by chance processes.
Precious little in the way of biochemical evolution could have happened on the Earth. It is easy to show that the two thousand or so enzymes that span the whole of life could not have evolved on the Earth. If one counts the number of trial assemblies of amino acids that are needed to give rise to the enzymes, the probability of their discovery by random shufflings turns out to be less than 1 in 1040,000 (91:415).
Those “40,000 noughts” with which Dr. Hoyle was struggling in 1981 still were a thorn in his side ten years later. And the situation has not improved in the years since. One of the “scientific heavyweights” in evolutionary origin-of-life studies is Leslie Orgel, who has spent most of his professional career attempting to uncover the secrets of how life began on this planet. In the October 1994 issue of Scientific American, Dr. Orgel authored an article titled “The Origin of Life on Earth” in which he admitted:
It is extremely improbable that proteins and nucleic acids, both of which are structurally complex, arose spontaneously in the same place at the same time. Yet it also seems impossible to have one without the other. And so, at first glance, one might have to conclude that life could never, in fact, have originated by chemical means....
We proposed that RNA might well have come first and established what is now called the RNA world.... This scenario could have occurred, we noted, if prebiotic RNA had two properties not evident today: a capacity to replicate without the help of proteins and an ability to catalyze every step of protein synthesis....
The precise events giving rise to the RNA world remain unclear. As we have seen, investigators have proposed many hypotheses, but evidence in favor of each of them is fragmentary at best. The full details of how the RNA world, and life, emerged may not be revealed in the near future (271:78,83, emp. added).
It is not enough, of course, “just” to establish the possibility of spontaneous generation/biochemical evolution. Evolutionists also must explain the origin of the dazzlingly complex DNA/RNA genetic code that is the basis of every living organism. But, just as their fanciful-but-failed scenarios for the explanation of the naturalistic origin of life have left them lacking any substantive answers, so their theories regarding the origin of the genetic code have failed just as miserably. One eminent evolutionist, Sir John Maddox, confessed as much in a curiously titled but revealing article, “The Genesis Code by Numbers,” published in Nature (the scientific journal for which he served as editor for twenty-five years).
It was already clear that the genetic code is not merely an abstraction but the embodiment of life’s mechanisms; the consecutive triplets of nucleotides in DNA (called codons) are inherited but they also guide the construction of proteins. So it is disappointing that the origin of the genetic code is still as obscure as the origin of life itself (1994, 367:111, emp. added).
Second, not only is the inability of how to get life started a serious stumbling block for evolutionists, but now the where of this supposed happening has been called into question as well. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe have argued that life fell to Earth from space after having evolved from the warm, wet nucleus of a comet (see Gribbin, 1981; Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981). Sir Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, has suggested that life actually was sent here from other planets (1981). Meanwhile, back on Earth, Sidney Fox and colleagues have proposed that life began on the side of a primitive volcano on our primeval planet when a number of dry amino acids “somehow” formed there at exactly the right temperature, for exactly the right length of time, to form exactly the right molecules necessary for living systems (1977). Evolutionists are fond of saying (remember Gould?) that there is no controversy over the fact of evolution; it is only the “how” about which they disagree. Not true! They cannot even agree on the “where.”
Of course, some evolutionists will attempt to argue that such matters are not properly discussed as a part of the evolutionary process, and that evolution per se only applies to biological change. Dobzhansky, however, settled that issue when he stated:
Evolution comprises all the stages of development of the universe: the cosmic, biological, and human or cultural developments. Attempts to restrict the concept of evolution to biology are gratuitous. Life is a product of the evolution of inorganic matter, and man is a product of the evolution of life (1967, 55:409).
Third, in his January 1987 Discover article, Dr. Gould, discussed some of the “data” that establish evolution as a “fact” (his statement was that “facts are the world’s data”). An examination of these data disproves the very thing that Gould was attempting to prove—the “factuality” of evolution. He commented:
We have direct evidence of small-scale changes in controlled laboratory experiments of the past hundred years (on bacteria, on almost every measurable property of the fruit fly Drosophila), or observed in nature (color changes in moth wings, development of metal tolerance in plants growing near industrial waste heaps) or produced during a few thousand years of human breeding and agriculture (1987a, 8:65, parenthetical items in orig.).
Dr. Gould thus wants us to believe that such changes prove evolution to be a fact. Yet notice what the professor conspicuously omitted. He failed to tell the reader what he stated publicly during a speech at Hobart College, February 14, 1980, when he said:
A mutation doesn’t produce major new raw material. You don’t make new species by mutating the species.... That’s a common idea people have; that evolution is due to random mutations. A mutation is not the cause of evolutionary change (as quoted in Sunderland, 1984, p. 106, emp. in orig.).
On the one hand, Gould wants us to believe that bacteria and fruit flies have experienced “small-scale changes” via genetic mutations, and thus serve as excellent examples of the “fact” of evolution. But on the other hand, he tells us that mutations (“small-scale changes”) do not cause evolution. Which is it?
Further, notice that in his assessment, Gould made the same mistake that Darwin made 128 years earlier—extrapolating far beyond the available evidence. Darwin looked at finches’ beaks, and from small changes he extrapolated to state that evolution from one group to another had occurred. Gould looked at changes in fruit flies or bacteria and did exactly the same thing, all the while failing to tell the reader that the bacteria never changed into anything else, and the fruit flies always remained fruit flies. If the “data” are the “facts,” and if the “data” actually disprove evolution, how is it then that evolution can be called, in any sense of the word, a “fact”?
The standard-usage dictionary definition of a fact is something that is “an actual occurrence,” something that has “actual existence.” Can any process be called “an actual occurrence” when the knowledge of how, when, where, what, and why is missing? Were someone to suggest that a certain skyscraper had merely “happened,” but that the how, when, where, what, and why were complete unknowns, would you be likely to call it a fact, or an “unproven assertion”? To ask is to answer. Gould, Futuyma, Simpson, and other evolutionists may ask us to believe that their unproven hypothesis somehow has garnered to itself the status of a “fact,” but if they do, they will have to come up with something based on evidence to substantiate their wishful thinking. Merely trying to alter, for their own purposes, the definition of fact will not suffice.
Pardon us for our incredulity, but when the best they can offer is a completely inadequate explanation for life’s origin in the first place, an equally insufficient mechanism for the evolution of that life once it “somehow” got started via naturalistic processes, and a fossil record full of “missing links” to document its supposed course through time, we will continue to relegate their “fact” to the status of a theory (or better yet, a hypothesis). Adulterating the definition of the word fact is a poor attempt by Gould, Rennie, and others to lend credence to a theory that lacks any factual merit whatsoever.
If this is the best evolutionists have to offer as support for their claim of evolution’s factuality, it should be obvious to even the most casual observer that such a claim is completely vacuous. Little wonder, then, that evolutionist Michael Denton wrote concerning Darwin:
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 (1985, p. 77, emp. added).