Alert reader Atom called my attention to this article from the “education” section of the conservative site WorldNetDaily (WND): “Evolution to fall in 2012?” While the site is conservative, it’s still surprising that it would go after one of the best-established and best-documented theories in biology: evolution.
Their article takes off from the recent Gallup Poll on Americans’ views on evolution, emphasizing the slight uptick in young-earth creationists (up 6% since the last poll, but identical to the figure from 2006), while ignoring the long-term rise of 6% (since 1982) in those who accept purely naturalistic evolution). Now polls don’t determine scientific truth, but the lack of substantial increase in evolution-acceptance over the last thirty years is indeed distressing.
Based on this, and several other reasons, WND sees 2012 as The Year That the Theory of Evolution Will Die:
1. A well-known religious apologist says that there’s no evidence for evolution.
Carl Gallups, author of “The Magic Man in the Sky: Effectively Defending the Christian Faith,” says the trend is not surprising
“The more that real science – science that is truly observable, demonstrable, repeatable, and falsifiable is set forth with modern technological means and experimentation, the more evolution proposition is found ‘wanting,’” Gallups told WND. “People are just not buying the drivel of much of the pseudoscience of evolution that is attempted by the academic community to be passed off as absolute, settled science. Many foundational matters of evolution proposition simply do not meet the definition of ‘settled science.’ I think most people are intelligent enough to figure this out.”
Here are what I see as foundational principles of evolution:
- Evolution (genetic change in populations) occurred
- Life originated about 3.5 billion years ago and the original lineage and its descendants split many times, leading to the millions of species alive on Earth today and the many more who have gone extinct
- (The flip side of the above point): those millions of species have common ancestors, so that any pair of species, no matter what they are, had a common ancestor at some time in the past.
- Evolutionary change involves the gradual (that is, over tens to millions of years) transformation of populations; it is not instantaneous nor do individuals themselves evolve
- The appearance of design in nature is the result of natural selection
All of these propositions are regarded as “settled science,” not in the form of absolute truths—we don’t have those in science—but as propositions supported by so much evidence that you’ve have to be either a moron, perverse, or blinkered by faith to doubt them.
2. Gallups says that life is too complex to have evolved:
We also are understanding the decreasing statistical chances that all 20 million species of life, and their subsystems and sub-subsystems, and the necessity for their interconnectedness, could have arrived here by an accidental and random beginning in some magical, unobserved, never-recreated soup – as the evolutionists would have us to believe.”
The 20 million species did not arise by an accidental and random beginning, but largely through a process (natural selection) that is a combination of chance and determinism. The invocation of pure chance or randomness alone is a common creationist lie.
And yes, we don’t yet know exactly how life arose, but once it did we have a pretty good idea of how it evolved, and an excellent idea of when different groups arose or went extinct. I suspect that we’ll never know for sure how life arose, but I also suspect that in a few decades we’ll have a good idea. At any rate, invoking God for the origin of life is worse than saying “we don’t yet know.” The former is arrogant, the latter humble.
3. We don’t have transitional fossils.
Gallups offered the following as examples of his assertion: “The missing link between chimps and man has still not been found. Really! In over 150 years of desperately looking for it, we have no such fossil evidence. If evolution were true, we should have many such pieces of verifiable fossil evidence. Instead, we have none.”
He continued, “Not one scientifically verifiable transitional fossil has been discovered proving that one kind of living thing eventually becomes another kind of living thing.”
He apparently hasn’t seen the australopithecines. Nor has he seen the transitional fossils between fish and amphibians, between amphibians and reptiles, between reptiles and birds, between reptiles and mammals, and between terrestrial artiodactyls and their whale descendants. What Gallups says above is simply a lie, and he knows it’s a lie.
But is the best one by far:
4. We need to eat other living creatures, ergo Jesus. Yes, you heard it right. Gallups tenders one of the most bizarre attacks on evolution I’ve ever heard: The Argument from Eating:
When we ingest other living things, the DNA of those living things (fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats, etc.) just happens to be compatible with our DNA so that cellular respiration can take place. If it were not for the fact that our DNA is so akin to all other living things, we could not eat. If we could not eat, we would die.
Is the process of eating and cellular respiration the result of a mere fluke of evolution? Alternatively, could it be that a common Designer made certain that the process of eating and cellular respiration would function in such a precise and perfect manner? Which answer appears to be the most probable to you?
If the supposed cosmic and random happenstance of evolution was the real reason that all living things exist, why, when, and how did this happenstance mechanism decide that living things needed to eat anything in the first place? Would it not be odd that evolution should come up with the idea of food and energy creation through cellular respiration?
Cellular respiration is an astoundingly complex, energy-expending system. Yet in order for life to be sustained, living things must have other living things to ingest. What an odd thing for a mere cosmic coincidence to develop, by random generation. Is it not a strange convenience for evolution that all living things have such unimaginable DNA similarity that cellular respiration is possible?
Do I really need to refute this? Animals and plants cannot develop from seed or zygote to adults without an input of energy, either through photosynthesis, chemosynthesis or ingestion of other organic matter. You cannot build a body made of protein, DNA, and other biochemicals without ingesting the building blocks of those biochemicals, which means you can’t live on dirt or rocks. And if you’re going to eat plants or other animals, you’ll have to evolve a way to metabolize the stuff in their bodies.
(By the way, Mr. Gallups, DNA is only a very, very tiny component of what is metabolized when one thing eats another. Get your facts straight. And the DNA doesn’t have to be “compatible,” only able to be digested. Further, some organisms have a diet that has hardly any DNA. Red blood cells of mammals lack DNA, but vampire bats and mosquitoes do nicely on them.)
Happenstance mechanisms don’t “decide” anything: they just happen. And if you think cellular respiration and metabolism can’t be mere flukes of evolution, have a look at the complexity of a whale. No, that whale (and its own “mere flukes”) can’t have evolved either—except that have the fossils that show it did.
The reason Americans don’t accept evolution is not that they’re dumb or ignorant of the evidence. Mr. Gallups is neither. The reason is that they’re so determined to hold onto their faith that they’ll make any argument, however stupid, to discredit the biggest faith-killer in all of science: Darwinism. It’s no coincidence that these moronic (and long-refuted) arguments are made by a man who is an inveterate Christian.
And I’ll bet Gallups a thousand dollars that in five years the theory of evolution will be at least as strong as it is now. Shame on WorldNetDaily for feeding its readers lies in truth’s clothing.