Sunday, October 22, 2006

Why I am Not an Evolutionist


[Professor Richard Dawkins, British ethologist, celebrated spokesman for Darwinism and atheism]

I happen to be a subscriber to National Geographic magazine. The nature photography is simply irresistible. National Geographic also happens to be a leading advocate of Darwinian evolution and this month’s (11/2006) issue included a lengthy article specifically about evolution: “A Fin is a Limb is a Wing: How Evolution Fashioned Its Masterworks” page 110. This article is noteworthy in that it is actually a 25 page editorial endorsing evolution and critiquing the intelligent design theory.

Reading the text and looking at the beautiful illustrations, made me wonder: What would it take to prove evolution to me? [Note incidentally that in my opinion proving evolution true implicitly proves monotheism false, since the Bible, Genesis 1, explicitly states that all species were created separately.]

The answer is: fossils.

Evolution makes an extraordinary claim: that different species are all descended from a common ancestor. This is extraordinary because we know from everyday experience that like always begets like; humans have human babies, fish have fish offspring, cats give birth to kittens and so on. Therefore it seems incredible that apes could somehow produce humans or fish could produce reptiles. This doesn’t mean evolution is impossible; many extraordinary things can and do happen. However it means that a huge burden of proof rests on evolutionists to make their case. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

What the fossil evidence should show is gradual, seamless development, in millions of tiny steps, from microbes to advanced life such as eagles, oak trees, salmon, horses and humans. Just like a child develops from a single cell to an embryo, fetus, infant, toddler, adolescent and adult, gradually, seamlessly, each day progressing slightly further, so, Darwinism teaches, life developed and continues developing on earth.

In reality, the fossils do not show us anything like this. The fossils show sudden changes and jumps from one form to the next. This is comparable to a child remaining a newborn for 5 years, then suddenly, the next day, appearing as a toddler for 10 years, then waking up one morning as a teenager. This simply doesn’t make sense. If I would come into my 7 month old daughter’s bedroom tomorrow morning and find a five year old girl in the crib I would know that this is not a new developmental stage, this is a different child. This is basically what paleontologists find in the fossil record. The alleged transitional fossils or “missing links” which are occasionally reported with huge publicity still do not provide anything resembling a seamless spectrum of development from microbes to advanced modern life.

The answer given is yes, all those tiny, incremental steps did happen; however the fossils sadly never formed or have been lost. Fair enough, however in that case evolutionists have no convincing proof. If a prosecutor would tell a jury that yes, there must have been evidence that the defendant is guilty, but it’s been lost, I don’t think he would get a conviction.

All the other proofs of evolution, from vestigial organs, embryology, homologies and genetics, I personally don’t find convincing since they tell us nothing directly about what happened in the past and bizarrely they seem to be attempts by biologists to psychoanalyze God; to claim, for example, “If God created the ostrich, why did He make it with those useless little wings? So we see God didn’t do it.” I don’t think we know enough about all of God’s possible intentions to jump to that conclusion. This is what I call “Godlessness of the Gaps”: any time we see something and we cannot explain why God would do it that proves that God does not exist. Of course, this may just be proof of our ignorance, not proof of atheism. Since Darwin, the vast majority of “useless” organs have been found to be quite useful.

However, to psychoanalyze scientists a little, why does evolution remain so universally popular in the scientific world? Because the vast majority of scientists are either atheists or something close to atheists and there is no other possible atheistic explanation for advanced life other than variation and natural selection. Therefore, they reason, evolution must be true. The few scientists who are religious believers know that in order to be successful professionally they must conform to the majority.

I believe it’s obvious that if not for atheistic bias, Darwinian evolution would never have been considered seriously as a scientific theory. It’s not science; it’s baseless speculation.

A previous post deals with the issue of fossils at greater length.

25 comments:

manny said...

Answer this one question: WHAT would it take to convince you of evolution as scientific fact? For example, what would you consider to be a convincing missing link in the fossil record? WITHOUT FAIL, creationists simply continue to move the bar when a transitional fossil is found (and there are MANY) and demand that a new, intervening fossil be found. This has been going on for years and is intellectually dishonest.

In general, your post is just parroting objections to evolution that have been bandied about for years and for which there are very convincing answers to now. (The "atheist scientists" closer is simply an irrelevant ad-hominum attack that has nothing to do with arguments for and against evolution). Read up a little on more recent developments in evolution, particularly chromosomal and DNA evidence. It's not 1950 any more...

zach

jewish philosopher said...

As a subscriber to Scientific American, I do try to keep up to date.

The fact is, however, that the most recent evolutionist literature adds little to Darwin's "Origin of Species". Many of his proofs are still dragged out, decade after decade. One or two have been added and one or two subtracted after all these years.

The problem is that the entire pattern of fossil evidence is wrong according to Darwin and we have no other direct evidence of what happened in prehistoric times.

Anonymous said...

IF you depend upon the fossil record to establish the complete phylogenic (or morphologenic) path from bacteria to animal to land based animals to air based animals...YOU WILL FAIL. This matter has been settled long ago. HENCE the reason we scientists stopped looking for the "missing link fossil"

BUT today's modern approach is to examine the DNA of the animals and we find some amazing ties from the lesser animals to the greater animals. YOU can take frog embroys and add genetic material from birds beaks and you get DINOSAUR teeth in the frogs mouth. THIS IS NOT A CHIMERA...it is genetic proof that the larger, greater animals hold the genetic material of the lesser animals: but that those genes are simply turned off in that particular animal. Phylogeny begets phylogny not ontology begets phylogeny!

It is amazingly simple to shut off a gene...a simple unfolding, mishapen protien, or reversed coding upon copy makes the gene NON represented in the animal.

This is what we know to have happened between chimpanzees and homosapiens....our genetic material is 97% similiar...but a set of dna coding was reversed in the copying process. Then thru time...the homo sapien developed into a taller upright bipedal animal without a tail. We still have tails when we are embroys but the gene that expresses the tail is shut off during the development of the embroy. Amazingly enough about 3% of all humans are born with a tail across all racial and ethinic boundries. THIS IS PROOF ENOUGH for me that the gene is there and we are not meant to have the tail. BUT it is still there in the genetic code.

Does evolution occur....well we can see selective evolution occur in our own lifetime....DOGS. You can selectively breed a dog into a toy breed in about 15 generations with proper selections. IT is even easier when you look at Mendelov's experiments on pea pods. Or the Native American manipulation of corn into maize...a simple selection of purpled or dark colored seed of the corn plant vs the yellow variety. WE call them varieties but if it were animals we would call them races.

To say that evolution does not occur is to ignore that the environment stresses the animals and the stronger animals in that particular environment will succeed in breeding more often...thereby allowing their genes to spread.

It is possible to be a believer of Jewish theology and still be a scientist. I see the evidence of G-d everyday when I look at the complexity of the human body.

With the limited knowledge we have of the brain...no other man made replication has yet to duplicate even the slightest strength of the brain and in the compactness of the human brain. A 3 lb mass of flesh has the ability to control the most minute items as the flexation of my fingers as I type and to think simultaneously.

Belief and Science are not mutually exculsive....but you are correct that many scientist set aside the religious belief in order to complete the process of science. ie the replication of the results and interpretation of the results to provde the best explaination of the results based upon the past knowledge and current knowledge.

NOT to long ago we believed that PHOGISTON was a real phenomena. Phologiston was a negative weight item that seemed to disappear upon combustion. After some long investigations....it was agreed upon that PHOLGISTON WAS NOT CONGRUENT WITH THE CURRENT KNOWLEDGE...and it was replaced with OXIDATION/REDUCTION....the idea that oxygen was released upon combustion and the explained why carbon based items lost weight when burned.

Itay
theguyitay@gmail.com

jewish philosopher said...

The problem I have with the genetic arguments for evolution is that they seem to be based on a silly Biblical misinterpretation. Genesis 1 teaches that each kind of plant and animal was created separately. Evolutionists seem to assume for some reason that this means that each kind of animal and plant should be totally unique and not similar in any way to any other kind. Therefore when biologists discover that the bat wing resembles the human hand or that the nucleic acids in a chimpanzee’s cells resembles that in human cells, they declare victory “You see – the Bible is all wrong! Evolution must have done this!” Personally, I study the Bible daily and I know of no basis for this interpretation. There is no reason why separate species might not share some similarities. I believe that the octopus eye is similar to the human eye, for example, the skin of swine is similar to human skin and some birds use tools to build their nests and hunt for insects. So what?

Regarding the ability of animal and plant breeders to create new varieties, I don’t find this very impressive because those new varieties never possess any new organs or limbs, regardless of how relentlessly they are selectively bred. Darwin believed that selection, given enough time, would produce such results however we have no proof of that from known selective breeding.

Vile Blasphemer said...

It is nigh offensive how little you know about evolutionary study. I can't even begin to have this conversation again.

jewish philosopher said...

OOOh Vile; you're so vile.

jack said...

JP, well put. The atheists create this strawman argument for the similarity of genes and use it to prove their theory. The fact is that to prove a theory it has to be falsifiable. So what is it in atheism?

Goatboy said...

You may be surprised to hear that I actually agree with much of your post. Whilst not a theist I am becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the proclamations of evolutionary theory.

However, it occurs that two of your points could equally apply to your own beliefs:

"... a huge burden of proof rests on ********* to make their case. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

and later:

"It’s not science; it’s baseless speculation."

Theists often use lack of evidence to dismiss evolution as "only a theory", when in fact the very same arguement can be used to dismiss the existence of God as "only a myth".

boruch said...

>Evolution makes an extraordinary claim: that different species are all descended from a common ancestor. This is extraordinary because we know from everyday experience that like always begets like; humans have human babies, fish have fish offspring, cats give birth to kittens and so on.<

I'm sorry to have to break the news to you, but Chazal disagree. The Talmud states that certain insects come into being not by reproduction but by spontaneous generation. They even permitted killing these insects on Shabbos because of this.

So, I'd be careful before making statements like that if I were you.

jewish philosopher said...

Goatboy, there is immense evidence in favor of an intelligent designer. Every organelle within every cell of every organism which has ever lived is proof of an intelligent designer. Machines never arise spontaneously by blind chance. The identity of that designer was revealed to the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai, which is not a myth, it is a national historical tradition based on millions of witnesses.

Baruch, I believe that Chazal made use of the science which was available in their day, just as rabbis do today.

boruch said...

>Baruch, I believe that Chazal made use of the science which was available in their day, just as rabbis do today.<

Then why is it that gedolim today are banning books that say what you just said?

jewish philosopher said...

I have no idea. Why don't you ask them?

Rabbi Slifkin, by the way, is contraversial for several reasons; see my post.

Anonymous said...

>Note incidentally that in my opinion proving evolution true implicitly proves monotheism false, since the Bible, Genesis 1, explicitly states that all species were created separately.

How does proving the Bible to be false prove montheism is false?

>Evolution makes an extraordinary claim: that different species are all descended from a common ancestor. This is extraordinary because we know from everyday experience that like always begets like; humans have human babies, fish have fish offspring, cats give birth to kittens and so on.

The origin of life is extraordinary to us regardless of whether you attribute to evolution, creation by an invisible deity, or seeding by aliens. We just haven't been around long enough to see it happen. Do you require the same degree of proof for your creation belief as you do for evolution? Noooo. The question is why?

>However, to psychoanalyze scientists a little, why does evolution remain so universally popular in the scientific world? Because the vast majority of scientists are either atheists or something close to atheists and there is no other possible atheistic explanation for advanced life other than variation and natural selection. Therefore, they reason, evolution must be true.

This is actually true. However, it is equally true that the reason religious people insist on believing in God is because they can't conceive of any other possible explanation for the existence of life. The question is, which is a more likely explanation? A natural process that fits with the all of the available (though presently incomplete facts) or an invisible, undetectable, and unexplainable being whose sole claim to existence is that it was rumored to have been glimpsed by a bronze-age group of wandering tribes in the desert.

Mikeskeptic

jewish philosopher said...

"it was rumored to have been glimpsed by a bronze-age group"

There was more than a glimpse. You might want to skim over the first half of the book of Exodus.

Anonymous said...

Fuck science, I have a book that was supposedly written by a big man in the sky!

jewish philosopher said...

Thank you for that perfect example of deep atheistic thought.

Henry said...

What's all this about the majority of scientists being atheists? Amongst the world's leading and most respected astronomers are the Jesuits who run the Vatican observatories, including the large facilities at Castelgandolfo and Mount Graham. Some years ago they took on the dull task of systematically measuring the spectra of stars. This turned out to be not dull at all, as it has led to many important discoveries.

In my experience, scientist who are atheists put their case badly. Usually they ignore the fact that religion is dealing with an area of human experience for which the scientific method in inappropriate. The other side of this issue is that there are people who use the religious method as a means of accounting for the natural world of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology.

Many of our present-day difficulties stem from inappropriate crossovers in both directions.

jewish philosopher said...

I have some statistics on this.

Anonymous said...

That is a pity, probably it is due to the rise of fundamentalist religion (literal interpretation of written texts) that intelligent people have written off religion altogether. Which is perfectly understandable but means a lot of people are left without direction in their lives.

But there are still plenty of reputable and well-respected scientists who retain their religious committment - there are many Catholic, Orthodox and Church of England clergy who are qualified in a science discipline - and this has long been so.

jewish philosopher said...

Anyone who needs direction in life, please direct him to this blog.

Anonymous said...

What would they find here that would attract them to the views you are forwarding?

jewish philosopher said...

Logic, truth, facts, beautiful prose.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't see logic or truth, I see wilful ignoring of easily observed facts, and I have seen better prose too, with less nastiness going with it. To say nothing of actions.

Anonymous said...

We have a freakin' huge moutain of evidence. It's over.

We can open cells and see the DNA and the similarity between all species, suggesting a common origin, and the higher similarity between all mammals, and the extreme similarity between all apes. We can see the homeotic genes that control general structure and make a fly with legs instead of antennae and know why humans live all their life with a flat face while chimpanzees grow a muzzle at puberty.

We can see human retinas are built backwards with the optical nerve going through it, resulting in a blind spot. We can see the inefficient spaghetti architecture of pretty much every organism. We can see the strange behaviors evolutionary psychology explains.

We can study small evolutionary changes in bacteria and insects in the lab. We can see bacteria, viruses, insects and rats adapting to what we use to fight them. We can observe two species of bee separated only by adaptation to a specific parasit, and becoming one species again when the parasit is removed. We can track a species of lizard that is, right now, splitting into two different species.

What more evidence do you need?

jewish philosopher said...

"We can open cells and see the DNA and the similarity between all species"

We can open computers and see the CPU and the similarity between all brands.

"We can see human retinas are built backwards with the optical nerve going through it, resulting in a blind spot."

I can see buttons on my computer which have no purpose known to me.

"We can see bacteria, viruses, insects and rats adapting to what we use to fight them."

But they always remain bacteria, viruses, insects and rats.

"What more evidence do you need?"

The more improbable something is, the more evidence is needed. For evolution, overwhelming confirmation in the fossils of very gradual change from bacteria to man, with innumerable failed mutations along the way, might do it.