Evolution Part 1 – Science Trapped in the Nineteenth Century

Today I start a series on evolution that I expect will be the most controversial I have every done. For any adherents of the theory of evolution as Charles Darwin proposed it I would ask that you hear me out with an open mind. One does not have to be a Christian or even religious to see problems with the theory as it stands. Finally, I would respectively ask that all discussions be kept civil. I have always believed that resorting to profanity, insults or ad hominem attacks never resolves anything and is usually used by someone who either does not have facts on their side or refuses to have an opened mind.

I have a confession to make. Up until about twelve years ago I was a confirmed believer in Darwin and his theory of evolution. Now don’t get me wrong I was also a Christian and firm believer in God but I felt that both were right. I guess I believed what the late Stephen Jay Gould said about separate magisteriums of science and religion. I had God in one box and Darwin in the other, never the twain to meet. But over the years I felt like they should be reconciled. So about twelve years ago I set out to do some research and make a case for theistic evolution.

Before I get into what I found I will give you a little background on my acceptance of evolution as Darwin and others that followed taught. I am a science junkie. I love it and as a kid I devoured books and article about science. Isaac Asimov was my scientific hero. Of the over two hundred books he wrote I guess I read well over half of them. I waited each week in anticipation of when his science essay would appear in the local paper. Then I would reread them when a collection came out. I loved his science fiction and was first in line at the library when a new book came out. At the school library I read every science book, it mattered not what the subject was. I loved astronomy, paleontology, chemistry and biology. If it was science I read it.  And if Asimov believed in evolution then so did I.

As I got older I read the Panda’s Thumb by Stephen Jay Gould and found a new favorite science author and reinforcement for my acceptance of evolution. I read each of his books as they came out and accepted that evolution was not just a theory but a proven theory and settled science. I continue to read Discover magazine, Science Illustrated and on occasion Scientific American. My love of science continues but I have become disenchanted with evolution. Stephen Gould started it when he admitted that the fossil record did not support gradualism, more on this in a latter post. Gould put forth a change to Darwin’s theory adding punctuated equilibrium to explain the sudden appearance of organisms on the scene. This was and continues to be ridiculed and shot down in scientific circles; one of the chief critics is Richard Dawkins.

But Gould’s books and theories got me to looking at the evidence supporting Darwin’s gradualism theory of evolution and frankly I found serious holes. Not only holes but fraud, lack of research and unproven assumptions. To put it in a nutshell, the theory of evolution has been and still is stuck in the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century every other branch of science has seen theories changed or discarded as new information comes to light. We now know just how complex cells are, that the universe had a beginning and with new facts came new theories. The twentieth century saw an explosion of scientific knowledge, only evolution has not changed. Evolutionists cling to gradualism to explain all life and ignore any evidence to the contrary.

About ten years ago I wrote a paper in which I took a look at how evolution was taught in Texas schools for seventh grade science. What I found was outdated information, theories that have been abandoned for decades, unproven assumptions and in one case fraud that has been repeated for over a hundred years and another for over sixty years. Over the next few weeks I will revisit that paper; updating it using some newer text books in use today. I will expand on what I wrote then as I had space limitations. We will also look at intelligent design and see how that fits with the evidence. It has always been my belief that science should go where the evidence leads and not try to shoehorn the evidence into a pet theory. Of course it helps that I also believe that about religion.

Now some may ask if I think creationism or intelligent design should be taught in schools. No I don’t. First, I look at creationism as in the realm of religion. As for Intelligent Design, it is just too early in the game to teach in schools. I know the unbelievers reading this will say there is no difference between the two. That Intelligent design is just creationism dressed up in scientific language, but we will see the difference later.

What I do think needs to be taught are the issues with evolution. People need to know that there are problems that are yet to be resolved. I say put evolution out there warts and all and challenge kids to think and make their own decisions. If evolution is true then just maybe some young mind will be able to make the changes necessary for the theory to fit the facts. Or, just maybe Intelligent Design is true. Right now evolution is untouchable, something no scientific theory should be.

As a matter of full disclosure, I am an Old Earth creation believer. While I believe there is ample evidence in the Bible to support this conclusion I also believe that God would not design a universe with the appearance of age if it was only a few thousand years old. God is a God truth and that seems to me to at the least skirt the truth. The God of the Bible is not a trickster like Loki of Norse mythology. I also believe that Satan does not have to power to conceal God’s handiwork. Also, as I was writing this I came to realize that this is going to take a lot longer than I originally thought. Please bear with me as I want to be as accurate as possible in presenting my argument.

Have a blessed day

David

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About dwwork

The name of this blog is taken from 1 Peter 3:13 - “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. This verse became special to me over ten years ago when I was asked to teach an adult Sunday school class on Christian apologetics. This interest grew over the years to the point that I took some graduate level classes in apologetics. I think the best way to be prepared to give and answer to everyone who asks is to know scripture. It is my hope that through these short devotionals the reader will become more familiar with each verse. I have tried when possible to make them personal hoping in some small way to show that God’s word written over two thousand years ago is still relevant today. In the writing of these short devotionals I have been able to better understand how God’s word impacts my life. It is my hope that you too will come closer to our Lord Jesus and develop a closer relationship with Him. Finally, if the reader finds anything in conflict with scripture please let me know. God’s word is the final authority always overrules anything I might write. David
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11 Responses to Evolution Part 1 – Science Trapped in the Nineteenth Century

  1. John Paine says:

    David:

    I can’t wait for the rest of this series. I’ve been reading posts from our friends at RTB on evolution, and I must confess, I’m not much with biology or genetics, so I have to study a little harder than most on these topics. It seems clear there are some big deal discoveries coming to light that are quite problematic for evolutionary theory.

    Thanks again!

    John Paine

  2. robin claire says:

    I sent this post to an atheist that I am blogging back and forth with. So you might get a scathing comment or two from them – if they comment at all.

  3. I’m one of those atheists robin claire mentioned.
    Well, the theory of gravity and Newtonian physics haven’t changed in a long time either. This does not indicate that they are wrong or not keeping up with the times, rather it is a result of the fact that no one has discovered any reason to change either of them. It might be wise to note that what Darwin offered is not an explanation of life, but an explanation for the diversity of life. You might want to start the next post with a valid definition of evolutionary biology, how it is different than what Darwin proposed, and then move on to why you disagree with it.

    Before you have discussed any of the merits you note that perhaps ID is not wrong. Clearly there is a bias in your thinking. I’m not saying that is bad, just noting it for the rest. You also taint your dialogue with the note that you are an old earth creationist. Thinking that god made the world is not something that I directly have problems with but you will be talking about what should be taught in science classes so it’s wise to note these things up front. Note, what goes through your mind as you lay down to sleep or in the comfort of your private home or church is your business. it’s how you use that to affect the rest of the world that concerns me.

    I look forward to hearing about these problems with evolution that people need to know about. I can’t think of one scientist who sees problems that would cause a rethink of evolutionary processes. There might be a few, but I’ve not heard from any with credible evidence to go with their claims, so this should be interesting.

    The one thing that I do find insulting and to be something which shows you have less than honorable intents here is that you suggest that ideas be thrown out to students to let them make up their own minds. Perhaps you think we should let them make up their own minds on how to play sports, how calculus works, what proper English grammar is and other things… you know, throw it out there “warts and all” and let the kids make up their minds about what the truth is. For this you will not be forgiven. It is an ignorant way to talk about education, and it belittles every educator trying their best to help our children learn the truth about the world.

    • dwwork says:

      I always want to let the reader know where I come from. Of course anyone who reads my blog knows I am a Christian but when I start a series like this one I get hits from those who do not share my beliefs. I agree that a theories age does not work against it. In fact Newtonian physics works as well today as when Newton first put it forth. We would not be able to calculate orbits or have landed men on the moon without it. Physics however did not stand still. After Newton Einstein proposed his theories of relativity and after that we had quantum physics. I enjoy reading about the latest theories in physics because physics does not stand still. Evolution has essentially stood still since Darwin first published On Origin of Species. I was particularly frustrated whit how the scientific community treated Stephen Jay Gould when he tried to change the theory to account for what the fossil record shows.

      Now to your last paragraph. A theory should be presented with how it fits with observations and also where it falls short. Darwin in chapter six of Species wrote about problems he saw with the theory. I think most people are intelligent enough to see both the good and the bad of a theory, else how can science advance? Sports calculus and English grammar are as far I I know not theories. So no I think that the rules should be taught. Science though advances when someone challenges the status quo. Evolution seems to be the only theory that is exempt from this questioning. I do not advocate teaching Intelligent Design in schools as I think is has a ways to go before that. I also do not believe that any form of Biblical creationism should be taught in schools, and yes I know you most likely think ID and creationism are one in the same, I just wanted to cover all bases.. Thanks for your forgiveness, but we need to teach kids how to think. Which every educators I know agree with if they could only teach a subject and not how to pass a standardized test, but that is a topic for another day.

      I do look forward to a ongoing discussion. Thanks for dropping buy.

      David

      • You have asserted twice that evolutionary theory has not changed or been updated since Darwin presented his theory. Anyone can go to wikipedia to see:

        Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.[3][4] By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.[5][6] In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.[7][8]

        Clearly, there has been change or modification which is now accepted by all except those unwilling to accept evolution at all. This stands in stark contrast to your premise for this series of posts. I encourage you to explore this.

  4. Allallt says:

    I’m looking forward to the rest of this series.

    I’m slightly concerned with some of the things you’ve alluded to, for example the complexity of the cell doesn’t challenge evolution. Evolution is an explanation of complexity, not just in biology, but also in cosmology and geology and soils etc.

    The argument between graduated and punctuated evolution is a good argument, but the existence of that argument doesn’t do anything to challenge biological evolution. It’s strange that Dawkins challenges it though, because the E. coli experiment he discusses in “The Greatest Show on Earth” is a case of punctuated evolution.

    One of the big “frauds” in the teaching of evolution is Haeckels embryo diagrams (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-gQ4lAdS_e7k/UGCQHn0qL-I/AAAAAAAABeg/04Fzp9qblKA/s1600/textbook-fraud-haeckel-vertebrates-kardong-1998.gif), but new text books use photographs (http://ncse.com/files/images/richardsonvhaeckel.img_assist_custom.jpg). So Haeckel was wasn’t defrauding the public.

    I’m telling you my concerns so that you can address them in future posts. Again, I am excited.

    • dwwork says:

      Thanks, I will do my best. This will be a long term series as I want to do this justice. As to that age of a theory I agree. Newtonian physics is still valid toady and works for rocketry as well as orbit calculations. But physics did not stand still with Newton. We have Einstein’s theories of relativity and as course quantum theory. What I object the evolution is it being stuck in the nineteenth century with little changes to fit current facts and observations. I also plan to get into the complexity argument. I appreciate your comments. David

  5. Allallt says:

    Watson, Crick and Miescher also contributed greatly to huge changes in the understanding of evolution. They discovered great details about DNA, and that then became recognised as the mechanism that allows evolution to occur.
    If you read Dawkin’s ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ you can see refinements made to the theory. The thing that hasn’t changed is the fundamentals: evolution by natural selection.
    Sexual selection had to be investigated thoroughly after Darwin made the claim, because he made that claim without a lot of supporting evidence. Evolutionary psychology is a pretty new discipline. To say evolution hasn’t changed since the 1800s is a strange claim, and I still await the rest of the series in order to see your point.

  6. Pingback: Dover Design Debate Debacle | Veracity

    • dwwork says:

      I feel that first we need to get texts and school science programs to teach that there are indeed problems with the theory of evolution. Darwin listed some ot them in “Origins” and in fact there are many reputable scientists that also have doubts. Instead evolution is taught as settled science. Over the last 30 to 50 years we have learned that cells ar in fact complicated machines. Once we can teach the problems with evolution then it opens the door to the question, ok if evolution does not have all the answers then what does, ID. I hope to finish up my series over the next few weeks and then start one on ID.

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