Why I rejected Evolution

Over the past few weeks I’ve been having a Twitter conversation with a bunch of different people over the subject of Evolution (ToE). Many of the respondents have been abusive, profane and very insulting (a subject unto itself I think) but a few others have offered well reasoned and respectable arguments supporting their belief in ToE so I thought I owed it to them to craft this broad response.

In doing this, I’ll ignore the more profane and downright silly responses I received and will also ignore those that provided nothing more than a barrage of questions back at me challenging what I believed – as if my underlying agenda was actually some form of proselytizing of the Christian faith. This was not the case and though many involved in the discussion brought God into the conversation and then moved into ‘attack’ mode including numerous (irrelevant) assaults against the God and the Bible in general and the Christian faith in particular, I personally did not raise the issue at all.

So, firstly let’s be clear what we are talking about. There are two ways of using the term ‘Evolution’ and these can be defined broadly as ‘Macro’ Evolution and ‘Micro’ Evolution. Micro Evolution can be defined as ‘change over time’ and Macro Evolution as the Darwinian mechanism which operates as a universal explanation for biological novelties.

Micro Evolution is not the form that is in dispute by myself or any other thinking person because it is obvious that species do adapt and change in response to the environment as a matter of routine. However, it can be argued quite credibly that this form of Evolution is a long way from Macro Evolution in very important ways. Firstly, Micro Evolution can be seen as nothing more than ‘variations within a kind’; that is, variations occur within a species due to reactions to environmental stimuli that either involve the formation of very minuscule amounts of ‘new’ information at the genome or simply the re-shuffling of existing information on the genome that was already there in the first place.

On the other hand Macro Evolution is something else again and I shall hereon refer to it as ToE.

“According to this theory, several billion years ago very simple, single-celled organisms appeared on the earth. They reproduced themselves, each new generation the same as the preceding, except that in some of the new individuals random or chance changes called “mutations” occurred. Most of the mutations were bad and the individuals having them died out, but a very few of the mutations conferred some advantage on the individuals possessing them. These individuals were better adapted (adjusted) to their environment (surroundings) and so were able to reproduce more of their kind. Thus individuals having the advantageous mutations gradually came to dominate the population. The favoring of a certain type of organism by the environment (nature) is called “natural selection.”

…by this stepwise process of mutation and natural selection the few original simple life forms were able to evolve (change) to more complex kinds, better adapted to their environments, to changes in their environments, or to other environments nearby. By this process ever more complex creatures supposedly originated. Many new kinds evolved to fit into new parts of the world, such as the oceans, the soil, ponds, and on the surface of and even inside of other creatures. Thus, through many millions of years new kinds of organisms evolved and flourished. Then they were replaced by new kinds, becoming extinct and sometimes leaving their fossil remains in the rocks.

The alleged history of Evolution began with single-celled animals, followed in order by single-celled plants, invertebrate (no backbone) animals, vertebrate (backboned) fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds, primates (monkeys, apes, etc.), and finally, man. So man is, according to the theory, simply the most advanced of the animals, and really only a highly organized form of matter.”[1]

[1] Dr Robert E Kofahl 14/03/2002

With all due respect to the many, many credible scientists that claim ToE to be a ‘proven’ scientific theory, it is quite clear there are some very serious issues that challenge that conclusion. These involve amongst many others: 1 an extreme controversy over the starting point of the theory i.e. abiogenesis – for which there is still no completely exhaustive answer; 2 an extreme tension between simplistic incremental alterations to the genome that may occur due to chance mutations due to copying errors at cell division and the production of incredible, new complexity occurring by the same unguided means and by pure chance driven only by Darwinian concept of ‘survival of the fittest’; 3 insufficient numbers of of transitional fossil forms;  4 the Cambrian explosion; 5 the orderly structure of the ‘tree of life’; 6 the apparent existence of design inherent in biology;and 7 what Francis Schaeffer called the “mannishness of man” which includes a sense of ‘being’, free-will, love of beauty, morality and other metaphysical elements of experience; and this is not an exhaustive list. Other credible challenges to ToE include the simple lack of sufficient time for generations to access species-altering mutational change (even if it did exist) and, for me, the simply illogical idea that chance plus time plus survival advantages could produce the complex biosphere that we experience all around us.

Let me work through these points very quickly. Firstly, the vast majority of arguments for ToE I encountered in my discussions involved individuals completely misunderstanding the difference between Macro and Micro Evolution. Again and again I would encounter arguments for Macro Evolution that quoted examples of Micro Evolution as ‘proofs’. It seemed just impossible for the people to discern between the two concepts. In saying this I don’t want to be dismissive of the sophisticated complexity behind some of these claims. For example, one contributor suggested that “changing allele frequencies” were “obvious proof of ToE” yet that same day I watched a debate where a highly credentialed professor at a leading US university said “changing allele frequencies have nothing to do with Macro Evolution and are not part of the conversation”. In other words, this phenomenon is simply a function of Micro Evolution. So, although understanding the concept of changing allele frequencies requires a reasonable understanding of the micro-biology, they are no more than another example of Micro Evolution. Over the years that I’ve been looking at this subject the confusion in people’s minds between Macro and Micro Evolution was (and is) a very common error.

Secondly, no-one on the other side of the argument was prepared to concede any point on the subject of abiogenesis; with most claiming this “had nothing to do with ToE” and was “an entirely separate matter”. This also makes no sense to me. After all, if there is no starting point to your theory then there is no extension to your theory. At any rate, the fact that there is still no credible proof that life formed from non-living matter in the distant past (despite the well disputed claims the that 66 year old Miller-Urey experiment had somehow ‘solved’ the problem) did not seem to bother ToE believers and 100% of them dismissed it as being irrelevant. I found it hard to agree with this.

Thirdly, I was confronted by some very intelligent, thinking individuals that pointed me to highly credible scientific journals, papers, web posts and other technical data that they claimed as the foundational ‘proof’ of ToE. I must admit these arguments were very strong in many ways and I was surprised at the progress with scientific inquiry in this field that has occurred in recent years. As I read through this information I came to understand how someone with a purely ‘scientific’ focus could believe these scientific findings did actually provide ‘proof’ of ToE and I was pleased of the opportunity of gaining a greater respect for these arguments.

In the end though, I found these erudite discussions still did not amply solve the extreme tension that exists between arguments that very small changes in genetic forms due to chance mutations can lead to highly complex new forms; regardless of the amount of time that might be available. Neither was this answered by the postulate that conditions could have existed where the process of change could be accelerated sufficiently to negate arguments for the extreme mathematical improbability of these effects occurring simply because I just don’t see how complex information can really flow from simplistic forms of information.

Even the legendary atheist Stephen Jay Gould recognized this problem. He concluded that humans are a “glorious Evolutionary accident” that required 60 trillion contingent events that “…could not be replicated even if Evolutionary history on earth repeated itself a million times.” Illustrate this problem in terms of biology and the problem becomes infinite. For example, Dr Jerry Bergman, calculated the probability of an ordered structure of just 206 parts (the number of bones in the human body) being assembled together in the correct general position. His workings show that on the first trial and on each and every trial thereafter a random sorting of these elements would result in the correct positioning only one time in 10388. Expressing this number if full we have:

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.[1]

 

Remember, this is for just 206 elements achieving a correct order (no interaction). Bergman shows that if one new trial could be completed for each second available in all of the estimated Evolutionary view of astronomical time, then the chances that the general position of the bones being obtained at random is less than once in 10 billion years!

 

Even if the universe were made up of nothing but bones, 100 billion cubic light years of area could only contain about 10130 sets of 206 parts each, even if we supposed the bones were only the size of an electron, one of the smallest known particles in the universe. If you considered this and then created a machine that could run not one trial per second but a billion-billion trials per second of every single one of the 10130 possible sets, then we would have only one chance in 10222 for all sets.[2]

 

For all practical purposes, this gives a zero possibility that the correct general position of only 206 parts could be obtained simultaneously by chance – and the average human has 75 trillion cells!

[1] ‘In 6 Days’ Dr Jerry Bergman BS Psych. MS Psych. PhD Eval & Research. MA Soc. 2nd PhD Human Biology and an Instructor of Science at Northwest State College, Ohio p 26

Furthermore, information itself is not a product of and cannot be accessed by inorganic forms – Einstein’s Gulf provides a discussion on this.

“Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, described the “gulf” that logically separates the concrete world of hard objects on the one hand from the abstract world of ideas on the other. He wrote:

“We have the habit of combining certain concepts and conceptual relations (propositions) so definitely with certain sense experiences that we do not become conscious of the gulf—logically unbridgeable—which separates the world of sensory experiences from the world of concepts and propositions (1944, p. 289

Einstein’s “gulf” can be pictured as shown in figure 1.

The Concrete World of Hard Objects, Events, and Space-Time Relations Eintein’s
Gulf
The Abstract World of Ideas, Concepts, and Propositions

Indeed, Einstein pointed to the nature and origin of symbolic information as one of the profound questions about the world as we know it. He could identify no means by which matter could bestow meaning to symbols. The clear implication is that symbolic informa­tion, or language, represents a category of reality distinct from matter and energy. Linguists today, therefore, speak of this gap between matter and meaning-bearing symbol sets as the `Einstein gulf’. Today in this information age there is no debate that linguistic infor­mation is objectively real. With only a moment’s reflection we can conclude that its reality is qualitatively different from the matter/ energy substrate on which the linguistic information rides.” Dr John R Baumgardner [1]

[1] ‘In 6 Days’ Dr John R Baumgardner BS Elect Eng., MS Elect Eng., MS and PhD Geophysics & Space Physics p 210 edited by John F Ashton PhD -New Holland Publishers Australia

That is not to say that the fact that some very smart people were holding on to these arguments as ‘conclusive’ did not give me pause . However, my conclusion was that the issue of ToE proof could not be confined solely to the study of existing biological forms. For example, this highly sophisticated stance has to ignore the many ‘chicken or the egg’ challenges to ToE. One good illustration is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is a high energy compound that releases energy by losing a phosphate group to give ADP, adenosine diphosphate. Energy is essential for life, and all life uses ATP synthase motors as its energy currency. Even bacteria and archaeans have ATP synthase motors. Because energy is vital for life and self-reproduction requires ATP to supply the energy needed to generate it, the energy needed for transformational change postulated by ToE could not occur without ATP synthase motors being in place in the first place. So how could the motors required to generate the energy required for change already exist if they themselves needed this same energy for their own propagation? There are many chicken or egg challenges to  ToE of this kind.

“Each component of a living cell is breathtakingly complex, yet in isolation it cannot survive nor replicate itself. All the parts of the cell are necessary to its functioning and replication. Nothing works until everything works. This has been called irreducible complexity. Even small parts of the components of cells can be unimaginably complex. An example of this is the enzyme adenosine triphosphate synthase, found in all living cells including animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. The elucidation of the structure of ATP synthase won a 1997 Nobel Prize. Every cell contains hundreds of these miniature motors embedded in the surfaces of the mitochondria. Each is 200,000 times smaller than a pinhead. The motor forges a bond between ADP and phosphate to form ATP. The ATP couples with other processes in the cell requiring energy to reform ADP and phosphate. So energy is directed to contract muscles, beat the heart and drive thought processes in the brain, while the products are recycled. At the centre of ATP synthase is a tiny wheel that turns at about 100 revolutions per second and turns out three ATP molecules per rotation. Just to keep us thinking and walking, humans must recycle their own body weight of ATP each day. Each enzyme is composed of thirty-one separate proteins that in turn are made of thousands of precisely arranged amino acids. Take away any one of the 31 proteins and the motor is useless. It could not have evolved. And consider this: the genetic information and RNA plus proteins needed to construct the ATP synthase are in total even more irreducibly complex than the ATP synthase itself. (A car-making factory is more complex than a car.)” Dr David Rosevear[1]

[1] THE MYTH OF CHEMICAL EVOLUTION – IMPACT No. 313 July 1999 by Dr David Rosevear 

In other words, what these purely biological discussions ignored was those that extend beyond biology and to consider those we have to move into the realms of philosophy and metaphysics – something that many reject as simply ‘hogwash’ but which in fact cannot be ignored if you are to consider the whole elephant. Many of those arguing for ToE dismissed philosophy completely claiming it is “non-science” but none of these people realized the self-refuting nature of that very claim which itself is a philosophical statement.

In other words, if you dismiss Dembski’s Intelligent Design as ‘non-science’, waive off Behe’s arguments for Irreducible Complexity as ‘idiotic ramblings’ and dismiss the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record as being ‘illusory’ you are still left with some serious challenges to ToE that simply can’t be answered by biology. And these challenges are still very many.

For example, there is an argument that, if I am nothing more than the product of chance chemical reactions with the biological framework of my body, I have no grounds to believe that my conclusions have any substance. In other words, my reactions are robotic and cannot be trusted as gaining any substantial insight. Indeed, it has been claimed that being nothing more than a biological robot leaves me with no claim to knowing anything at all even the claim that I am nothing more than a biological robot.

 “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms” Professor J B S  Haldane[2]

[2] ‘Possible Worlds’ Professor J B S Haldane p 209

Many of my correspondents argued that there were ample transitional forms in the fossil record to justify their belief in ToE. Whilst I don’t agree with this I can see how they come to view the fossil record this way. By arranging fossils in a particular way, it is possible to see them as being transitional but this ignores three critical issues; lack of fossil numbers showing transitional characteristics; the Cambrian Explosion and the orderliness of the ‘tree of life’.

If there truly had been an evolution of all life forms from the simple to the highly complex we would surely find billions of fossils showing intermediate forms. We simply don’t and though there are arguments in favour of forming what fossils we do have into progressive structural patterns these arrangements can be argued to be subjectively formed rather than proof positive. Secondly, the fossil record shows an explosion of fully formed species during the so-called Cambrian period. Many of these forms have remained unchanged to the present day. Thirdly, the so-called ‘tree of life’ used by ToE to show the progression of species throughout the ages makes no sense if ToE is true. Why would life form into specific lines of defined species if the process was purely random and unguided. Surely, ToE would not result in an orderly tree of life but in a chaotic and haphazard realm of multiple life forms.

Intelligent Design arguments were widely refuted by the ToE supporters I communicated with but I don’t think their arguments were sufficiently strong to warrant the abandonment of the question. And simply denouncing William Dembski, Michaeld Behe and Stephen Meyer as “idiots” provided no grounding in fact. These men and others like them are highly qualified and many hold PhDs from prominent secular universities. To simply denounce all of them as “non-scientists” and “fools” was ingenuous.

These personal attacks on individuals did nothing to refute the fact that so much of what we see in the natural world screams out such a strong argument for design that the purely naturalistic ideas of ToE face serious challenges that are not easily answered or have not been answered at all.

Finally, we have Francis Schaeffer’s “Mannishness of Man”.

Unless our worldview adequately explains the personality of mankind—his ability to relate personally with other personal beings, his ability to love, to show compassion, his moral motions, his will, etc.—then our worldview does not fit the world that exists.

From a Darwinian perspective, it has been said that personality can be accounted for in terms of survival of the fittest. People developed emotions because they saw that this would help them survive and master the other creatures. But this is a stretch. It is not at all clear that the first person to develop emotions would have an evolutionary advantage. In fact, if you developed compassion in a world in which no one else felt compassion, you would be at a huge disadvantage. If you developed the ability to love, but no other being on earth possessed the ability to love you in return, you would be digging yourself a whole. Personality simply cannot be accounted for in a Darwinian framework.
Mark Beuving —  November 16, 2012

“[I]f we begin with an impersonal universe, there is no explanation of personality. In a very real sense, the question of all questions for all generations — but overwhelmingly so for modern man — is ‘Who am I?’ For when I look at the ‘I’ that is me and then look around to those who face me and are also men, one thing is immediately obvious: Man has a mannishness. You find it wherever you find man — not only in the men who live today, but in the artifacts of history. The assumption of an impersonal beginning can never adequately explain the personal beings we see around us, and when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears.”

– Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time

In conclusion, I feel adherents of ToE, though presenting highly credible arguments for their beliefs, do not go far enough with their analysis. By confining themselves to purely biological issues, they ignore profound challenges to their conclusions that should and cannot be ignored. I therefore reject ToE and claim that it cannot be called a ‘proven’ theory until all of these aspects of the discussion have been properly canvassed. The fact that ToE is taught in schools and universities as ‘proven’ is a travesty and has the end result of indoctrinating individuals into a limited worldview; one which can have serious consequences for them as individuals.

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