Sunday, April 26, 2015

Richard Lenski: “It is an incontrovertible fact that organisms have changed, or evolved”

The Mother of All False Dichotomies

Practically since Darwin the various species of finches on the Galápagos Islands have been declared to be decisive, powerful examples of evolutionary theory. An undeniable confirmation of the age-old Epicurean idea that the world arose spontaneously. But exactly how do some bird species on an island group in the middle of the ocean demonstrate such a bold claim?

The answer involves much more than science. For these cute little birds do not tell us that single-celled bacteria somehow arose from a lifeless collection of chemicals. They don’t tell us that those bacteria gave rise to the complicated eukaryotes, and then to multicellular organisms, and then to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The Galápagos finches don’t even tell us how they themselves could have evolved.

What they do tell us is that nature’s organisms can change. Darwin inferred this, and more recent studies have uncovered some of the specifics. With changing weather patterns and food supplies, the birds respond accordingly. They adapt—a feature that is ubiquitous in biology.

The various species have some fantastic adaptation capabilities, and it’s nothing like evolution’s story of blind mutations hitting on better designs on rare occasion. Instead, it is a rapid shifting between preexisting designs, enabled by preexisting and very complicated mechanisms.

But it is change. And that, for Darwin and later evolutionists, is all they need. You see Darwin and evolutionists in general hold to a doctrine of creationism where the Creator constructs the species to be unchanging. In the eighteenth century it was referred to as the “fixity” or “immutability” or “stability” of species.

So if the finches could, in fact, change, then for evolutionists the fixity of species—and all of creationism along with it—must be false. And if creationism is false, then evolution must be true. As Darwin wrote in his notebook, if there was the slightest foundation for this idea, it “would undermine the stability of species.” Thus the template was cast for evolutionists to come.

What is striking is the heavy reliance on metaphysics. Nothing about the science here tells us, or even hints, that the biological world arose spontaneously as evolutionists insist is true. The underlying foundation of evolutionary thought is religious. As NT Wright recently quipped, “Oh my goodness, he [Darwin] has discovered some very interesting finches, this means we can’t believe in Genesis anymore.”

One recent study highlights this gap between the metaphysics and the science. The study further demonstrates the adaptive capabilities of species such as the finches. It also further demonstrates that adaptation is not evolution. The birds are quick to adapt but they are simply tracking the environment and food supply. The hallmark is their flexibility and adaptiveness.

As one scientist put it, “there has been no long-term specialised evolution.” For many years now even evolutionists have recognized that adaptation does not add up to the large-scale change evolution requires. Some other mechanism is needed.

Nonetheless the Galápagos finches continue to be celebrated as a proof text of evolution. They are an example of change, and evolution is equated with change—any kind of change. Even a mere altering of gene frequencies in a population is, for evolutionists, nothing less than full blown evolution. Such a trivial change becomes proof that the biological world arose spontaneously. It is the mother of all false dichotomies.

As evolutionist Richard Lenski put it, “It is an incontrovertible fact that organisms have changed, or evolved, during the history of life on Earth.” Yes, it is an incontrovertible fact that organisms have changed. But it is not an incontrovertible fact that they have evolved. The equating of change with evolution rests on deeply-held religious beliefs.

As NT Wright might say, “Oh my goodness, Lenski has discovered some very interesting bacteria, this means we can’t believe in Genesis anymore.” The idea that changing gene frequencies, or an occasional genetic mutation, proves that the species spontaneously arose is truly one of the greatest leaps of logic you will ever see. You can see more such examples here and here.

Religion drives science, and it matters.


  1. Well Duh.
    Yes biology has changed. The bible saids women changed to give birth in pain. snakes lost their legs and everything changed to kill and avoid being killed.
    Peoples looks indicate mechanism for important change.
    Camouflage in nature indicates survival of looks in creatures to preserve them. Wrong looks equals death. A clear lesson in nature post fall.
    Yet these minor changes don't prove or hint at mechanism or darwins mechanism.
    It shows to me evolutiondom really convinces themselves that change in nature makes God's laws unlikely in biology and convinces them the mechanism is natural and so all biology comes from this.
    a lame line of reasoning replacing bio sci investigation into complicated things.

  2. Never ceases to amaze me how agnotheists who claim they don't believe something if they don't see it all accept evolution as gospel even though no one has seen:
    1. Life arise from non-life
    2. The creation of novel genetic information that confers a selective advantage on offspring
    3. The creation of a completely new genus or even the transformation of one existing genus of organisms into another by external means

    1. Rick,
      Let's not confuse facts with beliefs here. It might disrupt the agenda of a mesotheist operating under the cloak of an atheist.

  3. Thanks for the article Cornelius - it seem to me the idea that organism were designed with a wide range but finite amount of characteristic in order survive in a volatile environment is a much better model for biology than macro evolution