Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How Did We Get Here?

Proponents of theistic evolution such as Francis Collins would have us believe that biblical Christianity and Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection are compatible. They are not. Evolutionary theory says that we are here by accident. It is at odds with the biblical teaching that people are God’s special creation, set apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s no wonder that evolution’s primary advocates, such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, are the most outspoken atheists of our time. But which view is correct? I find the idea that God created each species individually more plausible because there are too many questions for which evolution does not provide a satisfactory answer. Here are the main problems I see with the theory of evolution.

1. Information. Each species has a massive amount of information encoded in its DNA that distinguishes it from others. Evolutionary theory tells us that an unguided, random process has built up this vast store of information over time, but we do not observe random processes that produce information in any other field. In Carl Sagan’s book Contact, scientists looked for patterns in radio signals from outer space as an indication of intelligent extra-terrestrial life. When they found a signal repeating a list of prime numbers, they interpreted it as proof that there was an intelligence producing the sequence. DNA is almost infinitely more complex than a sequence of prime numbers, and yet some scientists believe that it comes from a random process. The idea that God wrote the code for each species seems much more reasonable to me.

2. Probability. For atheistic evolutionists, the big problem is how life appeared in the first place. Among these is Francis Crick, who discovered DNA along with Watson. He believes in what he calls “directed panspermia,” which is a theory that the first single-cell organism arrived on earth from somewhere else. That’s just passing the buck. The idea that God created the first cell and evolution took over from there would be more probable, but still too improbable for me to believe. Fred Hoyle, the mathematician and cosmologist, said the probability that evolution produced the variety of life we see was similar to a tornado passing through a junk yard and producing a fully-functional 747. I could almost accept it for organisms with asexual reproduction. Gradual changes over long periods of time could possibly produce great changes. But the probability seems far too remote for organisms with sexual reproduction. Evolution would have to produce two specimens of the same new species at the same time, in the same geographic location, and for the opposite genders. (This is true because the ability to reproduce is one of the key things that separates one species from another; if the evolved organism could still reproduce with the old species, it would not be a new species.) You have to wonder how many times natural selection would have to produce a horse from whatever came before it until you would get one male and one female horse at the same time in the same place. Thousands of times? Millions of times? Again, the biblical explanation that God created each species seems much more plausible.

3. Irreducible complexity. Scientists have discovered molecular machines inside cells that are irreducibly complex, meaning that they consist of parts that serve no purpose outside of the machine of which they are a part. The molecular biologist Michael Behe has written extensively about the bacterial flagellum as an example. It is similar to an outboard motor, and it consists of many parts that serve no other purpose. Evolutionary theory cannot explain how natural selection could produce a molecular machine like this through a gradual, undirected process.

4. Lack of evidence. Darwin predicted that archaeologists would uncover transitional forms in the fossil record. These were supposed to fill in the gaps between the species we observe today, but we haven’t found them. The fossil record does not show the gradual transitions that Darwin predicted. Furthermore, no one has ever observed the birth of a new species. Scientists can produce a new generation of fruit flies every few weeks, and they study their mutations, but after thousands of generations in labs, they only produce more fruit flies, never a new species. If our ancestors were a different species a few tens of thousands of years ago (roughly a thousand generations), why shouldn't we see a new species emerge from fruit flies breeding in labs?

1 comment:

  1. "1. Information."

    Even if it were true that we don't see information creation elsewhere... and it's not... what would your point be? We do observe it here and that's all that matters. (Yes, we OBSERVE it. As in we can and have seen it happening. See the emergence of nylon digesting bacteria as just one example among many.)

    We don't observe nuclear fusion in biology or geology or any other field besides physics... so should we deny that nuclear fusion happens in suns or thermonuclear weapons even though we can see it happening plain as day because it doesn't happen in other things? Obviously not.

    And a list of prime numbers is not important because it is 'information', but because it is a clearly artificial *message*. A specific kind of information indicative of intelligence.

    "2. Probability."

    Every time I see someone raise probability as an argument against evolution they proceed to mangle basic principles of probability theory. This is no exception.

    First... evolution is not a random process, it is a stochastic process guided by very NON random environmental variables. So calculating the odds of anything "randomly evolving" is bogus.

    Second, you cannot retroactively determine the likelihood that a specific outcome of an event happened randomly. You can't come along in modern times, look at the current end product (humans), throw around a bunch of calculations about all the improbable events that had to happen to produce humans, and then declare that the giant number you came up with means it's mathematically impossible they randomly evolved therefore they must have been designed. This is very easily demonstrated.

    1. Take a deck of cards onto the roof of a building.
    2. Take all the cards out of the pack, and throw the whole collection of them off the roof.
    3. Go down to the ground and find where the ace of spades landed. The EXACT position, orientation, etc....

    How likely do you think it was that the ace of spades was going to just randomly land in EXACTLY that spot (like, to the micron), in EXACTLY that manner? I don't expect you to know the answer but I expect you to know it's really really unlikely.

    Now multiply that by the other 51 cards in the deck and get a mind bogglingly unlikely number for all the cards landing in exactly the pattern they landed in.

    Therefore... what? We've just mathematically proved that those cards didn't randomly land where they landed... someone came along and specifically *intelligently designed* that pattern by carefully and deliberately placing every single card exactly where it was found? Of course not.

    Here's what people don't grasp about probability. Complex random processes? ALL their outcomes are unlikely. By definition. Every single time. there is no such thing as the likely outcome of a complex random process. The more complex the process, the more unlikely the outcome it produces. Saying that an outcome was unlikely and therefore not randomly produced is like saying something is wet and therefore couldn't possibly have been exposed to water. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    "3. Irreducibly complexity"

    There is no such thing. Behe made it up, he threw around some examples of things he claimed were "irreducibly complex", every one of them has been debunked thoroughly but people just keep saying it anyway.

    For example, the flagella you mentioned:

    ...happy reading.

    "4. Lack of evidence"

    You must be joking. They fill libraries with evidence of evolutionary theory. A quick overview I wrote of some of the high points a while back can be found here:

    That's post 1 of 7, the other 7 can all be found there as well.