In the last two articles, I have made the contention that the so-called science of evolution has no basis in fact. Natural selection has a real but minimal impact on increasing the success of a specie within an ecosystem but only because the genetics available are from a pre-existing design. In essence, life was programmed to adapt. It is in the process of sexual reproduction when these genetics are randomly rearranged by several well-known, but highly complex pre-programmed molecular mechanisms that produce the egg or sperm cells. It is from the fertilization of sperm and egg from which new features may arise in the new individual and grant the potential for increased the adaptability to changing conditions in the ecosystem.
Our breeding programs can select for the many combinations that give rise to differences. This has been seen within a very short time in breeding programs directed for shape, size and ability for that specie. Such differences have also been seen within a very short time in animals and plants that have gone feral. A very few documented cases of this limited form of “evolution” have been documented to have occurred in nature. It is through the genetics of sexual reproduction that result in the differences between you and me. But this process does not have the ability to make a human being into anything other than a human being. This is the only real “evolution” that science knows anything about.
A brief overview of Darwin’s work, entitled, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection”, demonstrated that Darwin himself had only a working hypothesis of natural selection; as did all naturalists of the day. He could see the variability in living beings that gave rise to change but he labored to extrapolate those effects to a much grander scale; not knowing the limits of genetic variation in living things. In his work he never proved how species originate; hence the title was “On the Origin of Species…” not “The Origin of Species…” for it was a speculation not evidence of his form of evolution. Facts for his extended evolutionary speculations did not exist. His process would take millions of generations. His work was filled with supposition, imagination, and creative stories to illustrate the potential by which this hypothesis might work to create completely new types of living beings. He never proved it and science is still in the dark as to the origin of species by materialistic means.
Today molecular geneticists, of whom I am one, know that new traits do not arise from anything other than pre-existing genetic information. Mutations in genes damage traits. Some of us continue to ponder, where did the original, pristine genetic information come from? What or who is the originator of species? In this installment I wish to look more closely at those things that were clearly comprehended by the naturalists established in that day; established from astute observations, actual measurements, and the hard cold facts of population studies.
Since most naturalists of the day had derived their education from the theological seminaries, colleges and universities of the time, they approached the study of the observable world through what we might consider the bias of the Divine perspective. While at first glance it might seem that this bias was a bad idea we must remember that we all approach from the bias of our own experiences, upbringing and education. Indeed, a naturalist’s studies had at its roots a metaphysical foundation. This bias reasonably argued that all things living, the world itself and the cosmos could be studied through human reason, logic, and common sense to the praise of the Creator. After all, things that seemed designed, the complexity of the interplay of living things with the inanimate world and the human ability to synthesize an understanding of such things, even from a child’s perspective, did not just suggest purpose but demanded such a verdict.
To remain impartial in the development of a foundation for the arguments that will proceed in future articles, a brief account of the historical development of the natural sciences is appropriate. The close of the dark ages, which lasted from about 500 A.D. to the 13th century, saw the beginning of an enlightenment in human thought and reasoning. A good example of an early naturalist, a priest from the Catholic Church- Thomas Aquinas by name, becomes for us a historical bridge between those dark ages and the scientific revolution to follow. We must admit that the dark ages were not completely devoid of serious students of nature and literature and of the Bible in particular. From out of the superstition, the filth, the torture, the wars, the rivalries, the murders, the greed, the plague, the fornications and the adulteries of those dark ages, the students of the word of God (monks and priests), sheltered in many respects from the real world, represented an enlightened elite, though until the 13th century, relatively useless to the betterment of mankind. Such was the nature of the failings of Christianity as a religion in the hands of men. Still it was the freedom of thought given men like Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) from a comprehensive study of the scriptures that inaugurated what we today would consider design theory. For Aquinas argued that the empirical observations of nature, the existence of order, the appearance of intent, and the apparent direction or goals of the natural world were indicative of design; and design can only be imposed on nature intellectually. This has become known as the teleological argument.
In the centuries to follow, leading into the scientific revolution, men like Nicholas Copernicus, Tyco Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Rene’ Descarts, Isaac Newton and many others established the fundamentals of our current sciences including physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry, fully convinced that all of nature could be understood by an application of human intelligence to that which was obviously designed by an intelligent creator. It was Galileo who established what we have come to know to be the scientific method. The method, when applied, considers material observations and measurements from which hypotheses could be formed. From such ‘best guesses’ experiments could be planned and carried out to establish, disqualify or modify the hypotheses and in time, allow the researcher to arrive at a theoretical basis for understanding life. It is from the unalterable proofs of some theories that led to the discoveries of the laws of the universe, physics, chemistry and mathematics.
The Renaissance and the Age of Reason:
The European Renaissance, which lasted from the 14th to the 17th century, was a cultural reformation in education, a revived dependency on scientific observations, a general movement to empirical studies and an increased focus on art, architecture and self-awareness. Debate was generally encouraged but many authors published their thoughts anonymously, particularly when doubting the established religious philosophies of the day, including and especially Christianity and the Bible in particular.
Thomas Paine had a particular disdain for all churches of the day (mid to late 1700s) and the Bible in particular. He penned a book “The Age of Reason”, published in 1794, as an effort to elicit a reaction from the French and the American public. That he did indeed. However his arguments concluded that there is a God who is discernible through nature, he is good and that there must be an afterlife; this in spite of his mockery of biblical revelation. He saw the Bible a fraud of men. He determined this early in life. His theology was tainted through his negative childhood religious experiences and child-like misunderstanding of complex theological lectures. He carried his disdain for both organized religion and the Bible in particular into adulthood. Unfamiliar with the book itself he spent half his work on butchering inaccurate memories of Bible stories and saw the scripture as a tool used by greedy clergy to enslave the men of Christian faith, to justify war and crime in the name of God. In the second section of his ravings he admits to having finally procured a Bible and a New Testament only to remark (not surprisingly) that “…I have found them to be much worse books than I had conceived. If I have erred in anything in the former part of the Age of Reason, it has been by speaking better of some parts of those books than they have deserved.”
Of importance to anyone familiar with the Bible they will see that Paine did read the Book but with such failure to apply simple hermeneutic principles that he makes a greater fool of himself than of the Scriptures; though to his condemnation of the riff-raff of the clergy I am partial to his opinion. Nevertheless, he convincingly demonstrated ‘the Word of God” to be found in the observation of nature, mathematics, astronomy and mankind. That by simple observations of life, geography, the order of the cosmos that one demonstrates the art, imagination, and magnanimity of a God who is good, and that by the deliberate act of creating man, God must have done so for the purpose that we acknowledge and enjoy His creation. Through this purpose of our creation, we can be assured of life after death. He may have considered himself a deist but he speaks of God and the afterlife with a passion of one enamored by a supernatural person… creation is the word of God speaking to man and God is distinct from that creation.
Another student of nature, William Paley was born in July 1743 in England and studied to become an Anglican priest. A brilliant thinker and student of nature and of the Bible he wrote books on both philosophy and Christianity. In the same year of Paine’s book, Paley published “A view of the Evidence of Christianity”. In this work he dealt with the personal character of those that were eyewitnesses to the Christ, the consistency of the NT writings both in their presentation of the man Jesus and the miracles that validated his ministry. He further develops the history of the Jews with their preconceptions that reckoned on a military messiah as contrary to the true purpose and revelation of God in Jesus as a spiritual mediator destroying those things that stood between the Jew and the Creator; these contradictions being the cause of the hatred and mistrust of Christians by Jews. Of the most potent arguments Paley made for the necessity of the miracles of Christ, two remain in my mind. One purpose was to demonstrate that this lowly carpenter’s son, born in a city of ill repute, who had never contributed to literature, science, or invented any important or essential artifact to the betterment of mankind was indeed the “Chosen One” of God sent to liberate men from their enslavement; the miracles witnessing to this fact. The second purpose to miracles was to convince the Jews and to promote faith in Jesus as the Christ as the liberator not of political slavery from men but from the slavery of sin and its effects on man’s relationship with God. Besides demonstrating the existence of human immortality through the miracle of the resurrection, Jesus also destroyed the rudimentary elements of a spiritual Adversary, Satan. Without the super natural manifestations of Jesus we must ask; upon what other credible evidence would kings, priest, judges, and the common man abandon not only their love of material existence in the world but their sinful ways as well.
Paley also wrote “Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, Collected from the Appearances of Nature.” This later book was an exposition on the belief that through an understanding of nature one could arrive at a greater understanding of the nature of God; that nature reveals God’s nature, his genius, his omnipotence. He saw in creation an order and complexity that revealed the Maker. Using the analogy of a watch and watchmaker, Paley saw that it was purpose that fit organisms into their environments, environments that gave habitat to ecosystems and that the structure of living things were deliberate in design to allow for the necessary functions required for living.
It is of interest that in his autobiography, Charles Darwin had this to say of Paley’s work: “The logic of this book and, as I may add, of his ‘Natural Theology,’ gave me as much delight as did Euclid. The careful study of these works, without attempting to learn any part by rote, was the only part of the academical course which, as I then felt and as I still believe, was of the least use to me in the education of my mind. I did not at that time trouble myself about Paley’s premises; and taking these on trust, I was charmed and convinced by the long line of argumentation.” This tone was in opposition to the developing arguments against super-naturalism and Christianity in particular as Paley’s first work was a direct response to David Hume’s popular works opposing the Christian miracles, the Bible itself and therefore the existence of God. All of this against a backdrop of a growing trend toward materialistic philosophical pandering’s that fully developed as the theory of evolution in Darwin’s later works. Darwin later retracted his respect to Paley’s work concluding that he had discovered natural selection as a law in biology; a statement no biologist would dare to make today.
Towards the end of the 17th century many philosophers and naturalists freely published their doubts or directly refuted the reasonableness of the Bible as a source useful either to support Christian theology or to serve as an incentive to define their research of nature within the framework of design. But this freedom of inquiry and opinion did not starve the pure naturalists of the day who found design in nature a proof of the wisdom and intelligence of what they termed the “First Cause”.
The Thinkers of Darwin’s Day:
Current with life and times of Charles Darwin, Edward Blyth, a zoologist and most recognized for his contributions to ornithology, had written three publish articles on the variation of species and the effects of selection, both artificial and natural, on creating stable forms of the same kind of organism. In fact, Blyth had written most of the concepts for natural selection 20 years before Darwin publish his treatise. The difference between their positions is that Darwin hypothesized that natural selection, when extrapolated to great ages, could have been the driving force for the development of every living being on the planet while Blyth observed that the variety in living forms could be selected for only to maintain or restore organisms in the wild to their ancestral form or archetype as he termed them. Though he never used the term natural selection in his articles, which were published in “The Magazine of Natural History” between 1835 and 1837, he clearly demonstrated through observation and argument that selection and the struggle for existence were obvious natural mechanisms which had endowed all creatures with a robust but limited ability to maintain through these adaptive changes the successful but permanent identity of their form. In fact, this is the only kind of ‘evolution’ empirically established by science either before or after Darwin’s publication to this day. Worded another way, natural selection assures a constant and unchangeable character of the created form by removing through struggle and death those extreme variations and/or individuals who are less fit by their deviation from the original kind. No improvement in the kind of being can be detected. Only a ‘plasticity’ in the life form which gives rise to fixed variations and combinations of the same form to assure survival of the species, not the origin thereof.
Blythe was not the only naturalist who held that natural selection had a limited effect on the variation within a species. Asa Gray, an American botanist, professor at Harvard University and a church-ed member of the First Church of Cambridge was a significant collaborator of Darwin’s evolutionary concepts in so far as to admit that varieties of plants were the product of natural means of selection. However, for Gray the products of this natural order were established without doubt by the designer’s preconception and not by natural means alone. The best of friends, Darwin relished the support of Gray and his contributions to the science of botany. Gray however held fast to a Divine hand in design and tried to convince Darwin that design was inherent in nature and not a random phenomenon, a fact proven through rigid experimentation to this day. Yet Darwin was not convinced and could not conceive that a man could “…be an ardent theist & an evolutionist” at the same time, though he also admitted that not all of his own theories were necessarily atheistic.
There are many other scientists, philosophers and theologians who argued for or against the new hypothesis of Charles Darwin. In fact the times were ripe for this argumentation. In his book, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”, Dr. Michael Denton spends a chapter noting that the revolutionary movement from a theistic perspective to a materialistic one of biology in the space of 20 years, was not due to any convincing scientific evidence presented either by Darwin or other advocates of the theory. Rather, it was the social, psychological and philosophical momenta within Western culture with its growing mistrust of the biblical narrative and authority of the Bible and its miracles in particular (and no doubt a contempt for the manipulation of politics and policy by the clerics) that seduced many hardline empiricists to engaged in the debate, yielding to evolution’s naturalistic ‘creativeness’ as though any meaningful studies had proven evolution a fact.
In summary, as I have come to understand, the times in which scientific materialism arose were filled with open debate and obviously disagreement particularly as to the validity of the Bible as a reliable revelation of God to man and therefore a questionable artifact by which to interpret scientific discoveries. Whether one was a theological naturalist or what we might now consider, a secular scientist was not determined primarily by the use of an objective scientific method but rather a philosophical bias.
In future articles I hope to show that the debate continues between the two philosophical worldviews and in fact has not died out. I will show the demise of the theological naturalists, the rejection of the metaphysical foundations of modern scientific methods and the abandonment of empirical and objective assessment in biology when supporting evolutionary thought, at least in Western civilization. Most interesting will be the presentation of scientific discoveries that have truly revolutionized our modern world and how these discoveries are being force fit into an evolutionary philosophical paradigm now often claimed to be a fact of nature. Concurrent with the growing acceptance of an unproven philosophy (evolution) I will show the cultural, political and logical ramifications of accepting evolution as a fact, the fruitlessness of teaching it in our academics and the bewildering but growing political and social attempts at protecting evolution from being questioned by the public, the church, the educated or even scientists who specialize in the field.
I admit that the a priori commitment to either materialism or super-naturalism generally determines a biased approach that drives scientists to interpret the facts of life as having either a natural or theological explanation. I hope to demonstrate that when objective reasoning and honest inquiry are made into the facts of life, one will reach the conclusion that intelligent design wins the day. Who the designer is becomes a separate study from the sciences but just as Paine discovered, even in his hatred of the Christian God, intelligence rules the Universe.