Born in Missouri? The Argument Against Evolution
Although I was born and raised in Southern California - I sometimes feel affinity for the “Show Me” state of Missouri. I’ve often gone ‘against the grain’ of traditional thought - to examine issues myself - and I don’t always agree with the common consensus. In Judo, for example - I argue against the traditional form of Osoto-Gari. Those reading my blog here might well be familiar with that example.
Now, if I were ‘Trailer Trash’ from the Appalachians - with too much family inbreeding, people could rightfully dismiss me as a ‘crackpot’. And indeed, some reading this will instantly dismiss the ideas presented here. Evolution is one of those ‘hot-button’ topics upon which rational discussion is rarely possible. (Similar to the other two famous topics which everyone avoids - Sex and Politics) But for those without closed minds - read on:
There are many battles going on currently concerning the “Theory of Evolution”, and it’s teaching in the educational system. Many people, and quite honestly, primarily with a religious background - are trying to get a more balanced viewpoint of evolution into the schools.
Having been raised in a very traditional home - with church service and Bible study a deep part of my life - it seemed that the theory of Evolution was a worthwhile topic to dig into. Particularly with my life-long interest in the fields of science, rather than the humanities.
Now - whenever I dig into any topic - I try to follow the same set procedure … one that our legal system is quite familiar with. It’s called the ‘adversarial process’ - you have one person, the prosecutor; doing his best to convict, and another person, the defense attorney; doing his best to acquit.
If you don’t study both sides of an argument, you can’t imagine what you’re missing.
Unfortunately for those seeking the opposing arguments for evolution - far too many people with no real scientific background have jumped in, and based on not much more than their religious faith, have attempted to bash Darwin’s evolutionary theory. This does far more harm than good - as someone like me, trying to find real arguments on both sides - end up with the ridiculous. Poor and ignorant argumentative attacks on Evolution will not convince anyone with intelligence - they will merely impress those who are already predisposed (from a religious background) to disagree with Evolution
Before going much further - just what is the meaning of “evolution” as I’m discussing it? Darwin’s original idea, like many great ideas, was elegantly simple. He saw that there was a great deal of variation in all species - some larger, some faster, some smarter, and so forth… he reasoned that because food supplies are not unlimited, animals that some chance variation in abilities that gave them an advantage (perhaps simply to make use of a different food source) would also tend to allow them to survive and reproduce in higher numbers. If this ‘chance variation’ in ability were inheritable, then in time the animals with superior advantages would crowd out the less advantaged animals, and over immeasurably long periods of time, this would lead to visible changes to the species. (The oft-cited ‘evolution’ of the horse can be brought to mind here.)
Another detail needs to be kept in mind - there are two forms of evolution - macro-evolution and micro-evolution.
Micro-evolution - the change *within* a species (example - a moth’s wings darken to match the new environment of a city)
Macro-evolution - the change of one species to another (Popular example [and vastly simplified] - from Monkey to Human)
There is no dispute about micro-evolution - it’s a biological fact, and is used in daily life all around us. Many of the grocery store foods we buy, for example, are products of micro-evolution… tomatoes that resist disease, for example. So please don’t confuse the two - they are not related.
One of the first interesting facts that I learned about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was that those who would naturally be expected to endorse it - paleontologists - were the most vocal critics that Darwin had. And although this isn’t taught in biology texts used in the U.S. educational system - the fossil record does not support evolution. What should be common - transitional fossils - are simply non-existent.
As paleontologist Niles Eldredge describes the problem:
“No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change - over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.”
In Darwin’s day - it could be assumed that as paleontologists continued to dig up new fossils - the proof that Darwin was waiting for would eventually surface. This was certainly a reasonable thought - and must have comforted Darwin - who was certainly aware of the problems that the fossil record posed for his theory.
In science, one of the most critical factors that differentiate it from religion is a test of ‘falsifiability’. This simply means - is there a way to prove the theory untrue?
The belief in God is not falsifiable - there’s simply no argument or evidence that could be presented that would demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. So a belief in God cannot be in the realm of science, and must remain in the realm of religion - which is rightfully concerned with matters of faith. (This is not to be taken as an assertion that matters of faith cannot be true!)
On the other hand, Einstein’s theory of gravitation clearly satisfied the criterion of falsifiability. Even if, at the time Einstein proposed his theory - the means of testing it had to wait until technology could catch up - it was theoretically possible to prove Einstein’s theory wrong.
So what is the “falsifiable” test of Evolutionary theory? Darwin himself provided it: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”
And unfortunately in our educational system - you won’t learn this - but Darwin’s test of his theory has been falsified.
Stay tuned to part two to learn how…