Assembled by Richard Peachey

CAN SMALL VARIATIONS LEAD TO LARGE-SCALE EVOLUTION? — EVOLUTIONISTS CAN’T AGREE!

“A long-standing issue in evolutionary biology is whether the processes observable in extant populations and species (microevolution) are sufficient to account for the larger-scale changes evident over longer periods of life’s history (macroevolution). Outsiders to this rich literature may be surprised that there is no consensus on this issue, and that strong viewpoints are held at both ends of the spectrum, with many undecided.”

— Sean B. Carroll, genetics professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Laboratory of Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison (“The big picture,” Nature 409:669, 2001).

MUTATIONS DON’T HELP EVOLUTION!

“. . . I am still not convinced there is a single, crystal-clear example of a known mutation which unambiguously created information. There are certainly many mutations which have been described as ‘beneficial’, but most of these beneficial mutations have not created information, but have rather destroyed it. For illustration, some of us (like me) would view a broken car alarm as ‘beneficial’. However, such random changes, although they might be found to be ‘desirable’, still represent a breakdown — not the creation of a new functional feature. Information decreases. This is the actual case, for example, in chromosomal mutations for antibiotic resistances in bacteria, where cell functions are routinely lost. The resistant bacterium has not evolved — in fact it has digressed genetically and is defective.”

— John Sanford, genetics professor and researcher in plant genetic engineering, Cornell University (Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome. Lima, NY: Elim Publishing, 2005, p. 17).

WHY STUDENTS BELIEVE WHAT THEY BELIEVE ABOUT ORIGINS . . .

“If the students that we studied are taken as representative of college-educated nonscientists, then it appears that a majority of people on both sides of the evolution-creation debate do not understand the process of natural selection or its role in evolution. One result of this lack of knowledge is that the debate is reduced to, as creationists argue, a dispute between two different kinds of faith. Most students who believed in the truth of evolution apparently based their beliefs more on acceptance of the power and prestige of science than on an understanding of the reasoning that had led scientists to their conclusions.”

— Beth A. Bishop and Charles W. Anderson (“Student Conceptions of Natural Selection and its Role in Evolution.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 127[5]:426, 1990). The subjects in this study were 110 college students, mostly in third or fourth year, enrolled in a non-majors’ introductory biology course, which included instruction in evolution and natural selection.

MISSING LINKS — BETWEEN ALL MAJOR GROUPS OF ORGANISMS!

“Major transitions in biological evolution . . . do not seem to fit the tree pattern that, following Darwin’s proposal, remains the dominant description of biological evolution. The cases in point include the origin of complex RNA molecules and protein folds; major groups of viruses; archaea and bacteria, and the principal lineages within each of these prokaryotic domains; eukaryotic supergroups; and animal phyla.

“In each of these pivotal nexuses in life’s history, the principal ‘types’ seem to appear rapidly and fully equipped with the signature features of the respective new level of biological organization. No intermediate ‘grades’ or intermediate forms between different types are detectable.”

— Eugene V. Koonin, National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health, U.S.A. (“The Biological Big Bang model for the major transitions in evolution.” Biology Direct 2007, 2:21 <http://www.biology-direct.com/content/2/1/21>).

ONLY TWO ALTERNATIVES: BOTH WITH RELIGIOUS IMPLICATIONS

“From the time of the ancient Greeks, philosophers and scientists contemplating origins have recognized two alternatives: Either the various species were specially created in some way, or they evolved from pre-existing species. The former view tends to stress the importance of a divine creator, while the latter de-emphasizes or eliminates a creator. Both views have religious implications.”

— Edward J. Larson, historian of science and law, University of Georgia (“The Courtship of Charles Darwin.” Science & Spirit 16[5]:32, 2005).

AMONG EVOLUTIONISTS: NOT MUCH AGREEMENT!

“When discussing organic evolution, the only point of agreement seems to be: ‘It happened.’ “

— Simon Conway Morris, paleontologist, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge (“Evolution: Bringing Molecules into the Fold.” Cell 100:1 [Jan. 7, 2000]). Note: This statement was the first sentence of the first article of the first issue of the prestigious science journal Cell in the new millennium!

EVOLUTION: NOT QUITE A “HARD SCIENCE”!

“Evolutionists have ‘Physics Envy.’ They tell the public that the science behind evolution is the same science that sent people to the moon and cures diseases. It’s not. The science behind evolution is not empirical, but forensic. Because evolution took place in history, its scientific investigations are after the fact — no observations, no testing, no repeatability, no falsification, nothing at all like physics. They are like the people on CSI, only the crime scene is much older. I think this is what the public discerns — that evolution is just a bunch of just-so stories disguised as legitimate science.”

— John Chaikowsky (Letter, “Geology v. physics.” Geotimes 50[4]:6, 2005).

NO LONGER THE WORLD’S LEADING ATHEIST! HERE’S WHY

“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. . . . It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence. . . .

“Although I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have come to see that, when correctly formulated, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God.”

— Antony Flew, professor of philosophy (retired), Oxford University; leading proponent of atheism for over 50 years (There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperCollins, 2007, pp. 75, 95).

ON THE FINE ART OF BEING AN EVOLUTIONIST

“Evolutionary scenarios are an artform. They usefully exercise the brain, causing us to look at old data in new ways and stimulating us to collect new data. They do not have to be true!”

— W. Ford Doolittle, leading theorist on the (alleged) evolutionary origins of basic types of organisms, Dalhousie University (Reviewer’s report 1, in Eugene V. Koonin, Tatiana G. Senkevich, and Valerian V. Dolja, “The ancient Virus World and evolution of cells.” Biology Direct 2006, 1:29 <http://www.biology-direct.com/content/1/1/29>).

WHY WOULD THIS QUESTION BE SO DIFFICULT TO ANSWER??

“Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing . . . that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said ‘I do know one thing — it ought not to be taught in high school.’ “

— Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist, British Natural History Museum; author of the museum’s general text on evolution (speech given at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, Nov. 5, 1981. As cited in Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial, 2nd edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 10).

EVOLUTIONISTS’ A PRIORI COMMITMENT TO MATERIALISM

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

“It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

— Richard Lewontin, leading evolutionary geneticist, Harvard University (“Billions and Billions of Demons.” The New York Review of Books 44[1]:31, Jan. 9, 1997).

IS EVOLUTION SO CENTRAL A CONCEPT?

“While the great majority [of] biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky’s dictum that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’, most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas. ‘Evolution’ would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one.

“Yet, the marginality of evolutionary biology may be changing. . . .”

— A. S. Wilkins, editor of BioEssays (“Evolutionary processes: a special issue.” BioEssays 22[12]:1051, 2000).

REMARKABLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN HUMANS AND “OTHER ANIMALS”

“It is the strangeness of human behaviour that really puts the darwinian view to the test. And here there is much to discuss. We have enormous brains that make us shrewd beyond belief in comparison to other animals, we have the only fully developed symbolic language on the planet, we cooperate with and engage in elaborate task-sharing and reciprocal relations with people we don’t know, we help the elderly, give money to charities, put on matching silly shirts to attend football matches, obediently wait in queues, die for our countries or even sometimes for an idea, and we positively ripple and snort with righteousness and indignation when we think others don’t do some of these things. We even have a word for this sense of how others ought to behave — morality. Chimpanzees, and for that matter other animals, aren’t like this.

“No wonder the creationists don’t believe the darwinian account.”

— Mark Pagel, professor of evolutionary biology, University of Reading, U.K. (“Selling evolution.” Nature 447:533, 2007).

CREATION SCIENCE: A “HEALTHY” APPROACH!

“The attitude that spawned the creation science movement is the same one that made America a leader in world science: a healthy disrespect for authority.”

— Kenneth Miller, evolutionist professor of cell biology, Brown University; biology textbook author (as quoted in New Scientist 166[2235]:35, 2000).

DON’T TRUST EVOLUTIONARY ARGUMENTS TOO MUCH!

“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved. It might be thought, therefore, that evolutionary arguments would play a large part in guiding biological research, but this is far from the case. It is difficult enough to study what is happening now. To try to figure out exactly what happened in evolution is even more difficult.

“Thus evolutionary arguments can usefully be used as hints to suggest possible lines of research, but it is highly dangerous to trust them too much. It is all too easy to make mistaken inferences unless the process involved is already very well understood.”

— Francis Crick, Nobel Prize-winning evolutionist and atheist who (with James Watson) elucidated the structure of DNA (What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery. New York: Basic Books, 1988, pp. 138f.).

ETHICS ACCORDING TO EVOLUTION: MORALITY IS ONLY AN ILLUSION!

“There are no foundations to morality. It is just a sentiment or a feeling, as was argued by David Hume and more recently by the noncognitivists (most famously, the emotivists). Morality is something that has been put in place by evolution to make us work efficiently as social animals; without morality, there would be chaos.

“I argue in addition, however, that although morality is in this sense subjective, our biology makes us think that it is objective; if it did not, we would start to cheat, and once again everything would break down, and chaos and anarchy would rule. In this sense, as I have said many times, morality is a collective illusion of human beings, put in place by our genes, to make us efficient social animals.”

— Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy (“Evolutionary Ethics: What Can We Learn from the Past?” Zygon 34[3]:447, 1999).

EVOLUTIONARY THINKING: NOT ALL THAT FRUITFUL FOR BIOLOGY

“Darwinian evolution — whatever its other virtues — does not provide a fruitful heuristic in experimental biology. This becomes especially clear when we compare it with a heuristic framework such as the atomic model, which opens up structural chemistry and leads to advances in the synthesis of a multitude of new molecules of practical benefit.

“None of this demonstrates that Darwinism is false. It does, however, mean that the claim that it is the cornerstone of modern experimental biology will be met with quiet skepticism from a growing number of scientists in fields where theories actually do serve as cornerstones for tangible breakthroughs.”

— Philip S. Skell, professor of chemistry (emeritus), Pennsylvania State University; member of the (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences; called “the father of carbene chemistry” (“Why Do We Invoke Darwin? Evolutionary theory contributes little to experimental biology.” The Scientist 19[16]:10, 2005).

FROM DARWIN TO HITLER? YES, THERE IS A CONNECTION!

“Those skeptical about the role Darwinism played in the rise of advocacy for involuntary euthanasia, infanticide, and abortion should consider several points.

“First, before the rise of Darwinism, there was no debate on these issues, as there was almost universal agreement in Europe that human life is sacred and that all innocent human lives should be protected. Second, the earliest advocates of involuntary euthanasia, infanticide, and abortion in Germany were devoted to a Darwinian worldview. Third, Haeckel, the most famous Darwinist in Germany, promoted these ideas in some of his best-selling books, so these ideas reached a wide audience, especially among those receptive to Darwinism. Finally, Haeckel and other Darwinists and eugenicists grounded their views on death and killing on their naturalistic interpretation of Darwinism.”

— Richard Weikart, historian, California State University, Stanislaus (From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 160f.).

THE FLEETING NATURE OF EVOLUTIONARY “DATA”

“Most of what I learned of the field [i.e., evolutionary biology] in graduate school (1964-68) is either wrong or significantly changed.”

— William Provine, historian of evolutionary biology, Cornell University (“Teaching About Evolution and The Nature of Science [National Academy of Sciences]: A Review.” <http://web.archive.org/web/20040709130607/fp.bio.utk.edu/-darwin/NAS_guidebook/provine_1.html>).

EVOLUTIONARY THINKING LEADS TO A HUGE MISTAKE!

Introns (non-protein-coding sections of DNA within eukaryotic genes, removed during post-transcriptional processing) were “undoubtedly the biggest surprise” and their “misinterpretation possibly the biggest mistake, in the history of molecular biology. Although introns are transcribed, since they did not encode proteins and it was inconceivable that so much non-coding RNA could be functional, especially in an unexpected way, it was immediately and almost universally assumed that introns are non-functional and that the intronic RNA is degraded (rather than further processed) after splicing. . . . Indeed, it may well be that most of the human genome is functional . . ., including many sequences such as introns and other mobile element-derived sequences that have been long considered as parasitic evolutionary debris. . . .”

— John S. Mattick, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland (“A new paradigm for developmental biology.” The Journal of Experimental Biology 210[9]:1529, 1540, May 2007).

WHEN IS AN OBSERVATION NOT AN OBSERVATION??

“Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”

— Richard Dawkins, zoologist; world’s leading spokesman for evolution and atheism (interview with Bill Moyers, “Now,” PBS Network, Dec. 3, 2004 <http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript349_full.html>).

ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN SCHOOL

“Students can present any views for or against evolution in the biology class and break no laws. These views do not have to be relegated to comparative religion classes. Teachers do not have to ‘teach’ the views of the students — the students present their views. In what class other than biology are one-half or more of the students prevented from speaking their minds?”

— William Provine, historian of evolutionary biology, Cornell University (“Teaching About Evolution and The Nature of Science [National Academy of Sciences]: A Review.” <http://web.archive.org/web/20040709130607/fp.bio.utk.edu/-darwin/NAS_guidebook/provine_1.html>).

LEADING ATHEIST ADMITS LIVING THINGS LOOK DESIGNED!

“Echo-sounding by bats is just one of the thousands of examples that I could have chosen to make the point about good design. Animals give the appearance of having been designed by a theoretically sophisticated and practically ingenious physicist or engineer. . . .”

— Richard Dawkins, zoologist; world’s leading spokesman for evolution and atheism (The Blind Watchmaker. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987, p. 36).

DARWINISM IS OPPOSED TO GOD (DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MIX!)

“Natural selection, an immensely powerful idea with radical philosophical implications. . . . The radicalism of natural selection lies in its power to dethrone some of the deepest and most traditional comforts of Western thought, particularly the notion that nature’s benevolence, order, and good design . . . proves the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent creator. . . . To these beliefs Darwinian natural selection presents the most contrary position imaginable. Only one causal force produces evolutionary change in Darwin’s world: the unconscious struggle among individual organisms to promote their own personal reproductive success—nothing else, and nothing higher. . . .”

— Stephen Jay Gould, paleontologist, Harvard University (“Darwinian Fundamentalism.” The New York Review of Books 44[10]:34, June 12, 1997).

EVOLUTION: “STERILE AND STULTIFYING”!

“I believe that the notion that the intricate biological structures of the world bubbled up from a prebiotic brew and that ideas are an after-effect of a meaningless random flux is the most sterile and stultifying notion in the history of human thought.”

— George Gilder, “The Materialist Superstition” (<http://www.discovery.org/a/2258>).

A HEADACHE FOR DARWIN

“For Darwin, the sudden appearance of advanced animals in the fossil record was a major problem for his theory of evolution. He attempted to explain the lack of a visible prehistory by calling on the incompleteness of preservation of the crucial rock record. This explanation he himself regarded as unsatisfactory, and we now know that he was on the wrong track: The Cambrian explosion was a real biological event, a radical reconstitution of the biosphere, not a fluke of preservation. Darwin’s headache is still with us, however, but in other forms. We are still far from a satisfactory explanation of the Cambrian explosion. For example, the origins of multicellularity, non-bilaterians and bilaterians are all contentious problem sets where expectations have frequently forced the interpretation of fossil data.”

— Stefan Bengtson, paleontologist, Swedish Museum of Natural History, from the abstract of his presentation at the Darwin 200 Conference in Beijing, October 2009, “Darwin’s headache, caused by the Cambrian Explosion.” <http://www.darwin200.cn/bio/Bengtson_S.html>