Recently I posted about whales and how evolution just cannot explain how a dog like animal could transform; evolve, into an aquatic animal such as a whale or orca. I received a comment asking me if I read anything except items that are anti evolution. I other words biology texts and other scientific literature. I answered that I had and gave examples. It seemed to me a good time to write how I went from a believer in evolution to a skeptic. For my longtime followers some of this is a repeat but I wanted to get this down in one place.
In the late 50’2 my parents bought a set of encyclopedias and a Time book on science that was lavishly illustrated. I think I may still have the Time book but the encyclopedia is long gone replaced by numerous others. These two purchases by my parents opened the world of science to a young boy, a love I have never lost. One article in particular caught my eye. It concerned the Miller–Urey experiment to recreate the conditions of the early earth and it was expected to show how life began. Reading that article back then it seemed that man would be creating life within a few years. Of course over 50 years later not only have we not created test-tube life but it seems we know believe the early atmosphere was not a very hospitable environment for life. Still I was hooked on science.
Once I got access to my elementary school library and was allowed in the nonfiction sections I read every book concerned with science. Then I started on the local city library branch and went through every book on science I could find. Oh, occasionally I branched out into history and biographies but science books were my favorite. From junior high on I took every science course offered. I even went to summer school the summer before the sixth grade to take a special course on science offered at the junior high’s new science lab. The only nonfiction I read then was science fiction. I loved Isaac Asimov both for his fiction but more so for the science article he wrote weekly and that were put together as collections. As soon as one came out in paperback I would buy it even though I had already read the hardbound book in the library.
Science nut would have been an apt description for me. But why not? In the sixties science was making great strides. We were in a race with the USSR to be the first nation to put men on the moon. President Kennedy had made a commitment for the US to send a man to the moon and return him safely buy the end of the decade. Then on July 20th 1969 Neil Armstrong put the first footprints on the lunar surface. I thought with science anything could happen.
I was a firm believer in evolution. It seems to me that my textbooks and all the reading I had done showed that evolution was a fact. I also saw no reason that evolution and my faith were in way way in conflict. After all couldn’t God uses evolution to carry out His plan? Of course He could. God can do anything.
Now, let’s flash forward to the 90’s. I find myself a father of two daughters and a son and we are attending a new church where eventually I am asked to teach adult Sunday school classes. Specifically I was asked to teach a class on apologetics. Apologetics, what in the world is apologetics and why in the world do Christians need to apologize about our faith? Of course today it seems the world constantly wants Christians to apologize about our faith but not so much back then. After reading up on apologetics I quickly found that the word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, to give a defense of. This was the first time I had really delved into why I believed what I believe and how much evidence there if for the Christian faith. The evidence got me. Being a science nut I loved following the evidence and here all along was a mountain of evidence for my beliefs. I was hooked on apologetics.
However a lot of my Christian friends did not believe in evolution. In about 2000 I set out to show that evolution and the Bible were compatible. I had collected a lot of information about Christian apologetics but my recent information on evolution was limited to reading National Geographic and Discovery magazine articles as well as books by Stephen J. Gould. What I wanted to see was what was new in the field of evolution. Imagine my surprise when I looked at our middle child’s Middle school science book to see the very same illustrations and proofs of evolution that I read in my High school biology text almost 40 years ago.
There were the same picture of peppered moths and the archaeopteryx bones. Darwin’s finches and Haeckel’s embryos as well as the iconic drawing of the evolution from apelike creature to modern man. I thought that over 40 years later something new would have been added. The problem is that all the new information supported microevolution and nothing was there to support macroevolution. Just a quick definition of my terms. Microevolution is changes within a species but the species itself remains. For example, Darwin’s finches where the size of the beak changes but we still have a finch. Macroevolution is the change from one kind of animal to another. Where for example a land dwelling creature eventually changes into a whale or and apelike creature becomes a modern human all through a slow unguided process called natural selection. The sad part is the example of the peppered moth is not an example of evolution at all but just a change in the ratio of black and white moths.
Yes there was work on single celled organisms and the workings within a cell but once again what one started with was what one ended with. I could find nothing to tell me why macroevolution had seemingly stopped. Why did we not see new kinds of organisms coming into existence? Since man has appeared there just aren’t any new creatures coming into existence. I was getting nowhere on the evolution side so I decided to look at what the critics were saying. Maybe if I attacked the problem from their side I could make my case.
Then I really ran into a problem. There were real issues with what I had been taught all these years. I read that Haeckel’s embryos had been faked. I thought surely this could not be the case. After all they have been in text books for decades. Guess what I found? There were indeed faked and even one of my favorite authors Stephen J. Gould said so but since they taught a truth, that evolution was true; they were done for a good cause. Really, faked science is okay as long as the intentions are good. The peppered moths and finches did not show macroevolution and there is now some question if the archaeopteryx was an ancestor or a contemporary of modern birds.
Then there is the fossil record. Even Darwin recognized that the fossil record was a problem for his theory. If one reads chapter six “Difficulties on Theory” from Darwin’s book The Origin of Species we find problems Darwin identified. He puts these problems in four major categories which I will summarize. First, if species have descended from other species in a gradual manner, why do we not see innumerable transition forms? Second, how can evolution account for the transitions of peculiar habits and structures of a new species when they are descended from a species with entirely different habits and structures? It is in this question that Darwin asks how evolution can account for the eye. Third, can instincts be acquired and modified by natural selection? Forth, how can evolution account for the fact that when different species are crossed the offspring are infertile, but varieties within a species are fertile?
I though surely after all this time we would have found the numerous transitional fossils. But no, after over 150 years of looking we still have a lack of these types of fossils. I found out that this is a problem recognized by Gould. Gould in his book The Structure of Evolutionary Theory said “Anatomy may fluctuate through time, but the last remnants of a species usually look pretty much like the first representatives… Paleontologists have always recognized the long-term stability of most species; we had become more than a bit ashamed by this strong and literal signal, for the dominant theory or our scientific culture told us to look for the opposite result of gradualism as the primary empirical expression of every biologist’s favorite subject–evolution itself.” p. 749 You can find more quotes from Gould in my post Evolution – Science Trapped in the Nineteenth Century Part 2 https://dwwork.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/evolution-science-trapped-in-the-nineteenth-century-part-2/
Gould had proposed a modification to Darwin called punctuated equilibrium to account for the sudden appearance of new kinds of organisms such as happened during the Cambium explosion. He was met with fierce resistance. It seems that anything but what was handed down by Darwin is considered blasphemy.
Finally I came to the book Darwin’s Black Box written by Michael Behe which introduced me to the concept of irreducible complexity. That is that some parts of an organism in order to function has to have every part in place else it serves no useful purpose. An example from the mechanical world is a mousetrap. Without all its parts a mousetrap just will not trap mice. Two biological examples are the bacterium flagellum and the ability for blood to clot. I have gone into this in my series on evolution.
It seemed that the more I looked into evolution the more problems I found, Problems that either were ignored or glossed over with lame explanations or an appeal to the future. What I have found is that evolution is to be accepted as fact and not challenged. That is not science as I know it and love. Science is the search for answers; it is questioning the status quo and looking for the next breakthrough.
I started to read about intelligent design and found even more questions about evolution but I also found why a creator makes even more sense. While I always believed in the creator God and still do, my belief in evolution has been horribly shaken. Biologists have let believers in evolution down as they have given up the search for answers and are content to live in the past.
Somethings will never be known as there is just so much one can tell from disarticulated bones. To quote a sign in the American Museum of Natural History in New York, “All these ideas are controversial, because they are based on scientists’ interpretations of fossil bones that are often incomplete, or that have become distorted over millions of years. We may never have all the evidence needed to support these ideas.” The fossils we see displayed in museums are how someone thinks they should look. When I was a kid the brontosaurus was displayed with its legs on the side like a lizard. Today what was called a brontosaurus is displayed with the legs under it similar to an elephant. The bones did not change just the interpretation of how they should be displayed. The funny thing is they fit in both places. When we come to the popular conceptions of extent animals such as the Jurassic Park movies and the covers of magazines, we have no idea what colors they are or how fast they move or really how they looked with flesh on.
I doubt that this will change the mind of anyone who believes in evolution as the base belief for most is that there is no God. If there is no God then one needs an explanation for why everything is here. For those who wish to explore more check out my series on evolution and the arguments for God. I close with this observation, evolution can be true and God can still exist, there are many who hold both views. However, if evolution is false then God must exist. Today I believe evolution to be false and the evidence for God to be overwhelming, the universe shows all the attributes of design.
Have a blessed day,