Friday, May 8, 2009

What Journalists Need to Know About Evolution

My high school physics teacher's favorite admonishment was "if all else fails, read the directions." It is amazing what one can learn by reading rather than divining. And this holds for more than assembling science projects. If you want to understand evolution why not try, yes, reading what evolutionists write. With my high school physics teacher admonishment in mind, this is exactly what I did many years ago. And if you are too busy to spend long hours in the library, let me tell you what I found. If you will read just this one blog entry, and keep an open mind, I promise you will learn the truth about evolution.

There is, of course, much scientific evidence for evolution. But there is also much evidence that the Earth is flat, that the planets and stars circle about the Earth, and that it rains on Tuesdays. In fact, given what we know from science, evolution is easily high on the list of worst theories ever. But don't take my word for it, read the evolution literature. It is chocked full of major problems with the evidence. If you are interested in the details, you can read about the fossils, comparative anatomy, and adaptive change. These are the major categories into which most of the evidence for evolution falls. In each case, the evidence raises more questions than it answers--and this is the evidence that is supposed to support evolution.

Beyond this lie more problems, such as the origin of structures so complex we still cannot understand them. In biology lie secrets that military designers would love to uncover and utilize. Our best submarines cannot track targets as accurately as bats can track their prey.

Given all these evidential challenges, it is not surprising that evolution is consistently upended by the data. In the past century, as science progressed, evolution's fundamental predictions turn out to be false. Evolutionists are constantly surprised by science.

Evolution is, by any measure, not a good scientific theory. So what gives evolutionists their confidence? Why do they universally claim that evolution is a fact, every bit as much as gravity is a fact. We feel gravity every waking moment, how could evolution possibly have this level of certainty? Understanding this is the key to understanding evolution. And again, one merely needs to read the literature. Evolutionists are not coy about their certainty. Nor is their certainty a result of exaggeration or fallacy. It all makes perfect sense once you read their proofs. Evolution is a fact, they say, because God would never have created what we find in biology.

A popular version of this argument today comes from pseudogenes, genes that appear to be broken. The argument cites pseudogenes that appear in multiple species, where they are broken in the same way. These shared pseudogenes, like identical typos in different manuscripts, suggest a common source (i.e., a common ancestor). But such a suggestion faces a plethora of problems. We don't even know how genes could evolve in the first place, let alone how species give rise to different species.

Furthermore, there are perfectly good non evolutionary explanations for shared pseudogenes. In fact, such explanations are used even by evolutionists in instances where necessary. Regardless of such complicating factors, however, what evolutionists are sure of is that pseudogenes, and certainly shared pseudogenes, would not be created. As leading evolutionist Ken Miller argues, evolution is the obvious explanation for pseudogenes because otherwise they reveal a designer who “made serious errors, wasting millions of bases of DNA on a blueprint full of junk and scribbles.”

This is the latest incarnation of an argument that has been used as often as discussions of origins have occurred. It is the constant theme running through evolutionary thought. The evidences may come and go, but the underlying conviction is forever. Within evolutionary thought it traces back to Darwin who skillfully persuaded his readers with this religious argument about the creator and creation.

But this genre of thought by no means began with Darwin. His arguments can be found in Hume, Kant, Leibniz and dozens of other Enlightenment thinkers. And of course the lineage traces yet further back, to antiquity and undoubtedly beyond. What is interesting is that Darwin's sources, supporters, and audience were largely Christian. In Darwin's day, this religious argument about God was primarily supplied by the heavily christianized culture. There is much more to say about how this history arose, and how it relates to our situation today. But that is another story.

Now you know the truth of evolution. Religion has deeply penetrated into science, and it has produced Darwin's theory. The science is weak, but the metaphysics is powerful. Religion drives science, and it matters. In the past, religious authorities used manipulation and intimidation to enforce their views and control the culture. It is no different today. As before, many go along with the charade. Evolution will go down in history as a sort of Emperor's New Clothes tale, except this time it is real. You can keep this truth under wraps, or you can help reveal it. If you choose the latter, I can promise you one thing. You will be ridiculed and rejected. You will probably lose your job, or at least your next promotion. Oh, one other thing: you will be on the side of truth.