Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

useless human body parts

There is this great misconception today that the human body is covered with useless organs. Blogs, youtube videos and scientific news sites frequently release the top 5, top 10, or top 20 most useless human organs or body parts. It makes for fun reads and as interesting as the topic is, all these sources are incredibly misleading because most of the organs they mention actually do have a function. Some, incredibly important functions.

So here is my rebuttal to the top 10 most useless human organs:

Plica semilunaris:

The plica semilunaris is that tiny fold of pink tissue in the corner of your eye where your little eye crusties tend to collect. According to many authors who believe this tissue is useless, they speculate that it is the remains of a third eyelid or nictitating membrane that many of our distant ancestry utilized and other animals use today, but that it is essentially functionless for humans.

This is not the case though. According to ophthalmologist Peter Gurney, the plica semilunaris enables unrestricted movement of the eye when turned outward, stretching and contracting to allow the eye ball and eyelids to move independently of each other when the eye looks side to side (Gurney, 99). Other studies suggest that the plica semilunaris secretes an agent that binds with free particles caught in your eye, coating them and minimalizing any scratching damage the particles may cause.

anat eye

Darwin’s point (tubercle) (extra skin flap on ear):

Darwin’s point, aka Darwin’s tubercle, aka the extra skin flap on your upper ear, is often mentioned as a useless part of the human body that is a throwback to some early ancestor that allowed the top of the ear to swivel or flap down over the opening. According to Dr. David Dewitt, professor of biology at Liberty University, the extra skin flap is a “harmless congenital defect” resulting from a malformation as the ear folds during early development only found in about 10% of humans (Dewitt).  In this case, the flap is indeed functionless, but the claim that the flap once had a function and no longer does is not correct. The flap is a random trait no different from other dominant traits (like a widow’s peak) which don’t serve a purpose, but were never supposed to in the first place.

Body Hair:

Body hair is a very popular example of a supposed useless organ because we tend to associate it as a sparse remnant of fur seen on apes which use it for warmth, sun protection ect. It is a fair question to ask;  why do we need facial hair, chest hair, leg hair, etc. ?

Dr. David Menton, retired professor of anatomy at the Washington School of Medicine and contributor to Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, points out that the difference between the dense hairs on apes and our sparse hair is related to our sweat glands. If our hair was too dense the water from our sweat glands would not be able to evaporate and we would not be able to keep cool. As far as purpose, the hairs are attached to several nerve endings that act as sensory receptors (called mechnoreceptors) which helps us detect motion and object proximity (Menton, 238-239). In addition, a recent study completed at the University of Sheffield in England found that body hair aids in fending off parasites and insects that land on our body. On one level it stimulates nerve endings letting us know a creature has landed on us. On a second level the hair provides a larger surface area prolonging the time required for the creature to get to our skin, allowing us enough time to swat the creature away (Hooper). But the most important function of hair and hair follicles is reepithelialization, in which in the event of a cut or abrasion hair follicles act as a source of epidermal cells for the skin to utilize for restoration (Menton, 239). If it wasn’t for hair follicles skin repair after injury would be impaired.

Vomeronasal Organ:

The vomeronasal organ (aka Jacobson’s organ) is a sensory organ associated with smell that many mammals have and utilize, but it is said that humans don’t use it. The vomeronasal organ is a chemoreceptor organ that responds to nonvolatile cues which in turn activates locations of the hypothalamus that regulates reproductive, defensive, and ingestive behavior along with neuro-endocrine secretion (Keverne, 716). This organ is present in humans, so the question is, do humans use it? A study  completed by Oxford University found evidence that indeed it may be used, and though usage may be minor it is not insignificant (Meredith, 433). Though the study is cautious to say more experimental testing is required to reach a final conclusion.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth (or third molars) are considered a useless body part because there does not seem to be any room for them on the jaw. Hence, they are often removed, as I’m sure many of you readers can attest to. But, there not being enough room on the jaw is not always the case for everyone. In fact, when people do have sufficient room on their jaw the wisdom teeth operate as fully functional molars used just as much as the first and second molars (Menton, 236). So why are some jaws too small to house the third molars? One reason is diet. In less developed countries diets are coarser, where in more developed nations the diet consists of softer foods (Bergman, 297). Coarser foods can influence the jaw to widen, which in turn creates the room necessary for the third molars. Other factors come into play as well, but the point is that they are not useless for everyone, only on those with small jaws.

In America it has been estimated that only 20% of all young people develop impacted molars and actually need them removed (Menton, 236),  but most Americans have them removed because the outdated consensus within the dental community is that they are useless and only run a risk of impacting the rest of your teeth. So it is better to play it safe and have them removed. Whether the dentists are right or wrong in doing this is not in question here, it is the use of the teeth that are in question, and it is certainly true that wisdom teeth are not useless.

Auricular muscle

The auricular muscle is a muscle attached to your ear that some people can stimulate to make their ears twitch. It is considered useless because it is thought to be a remnant of a more developed muscle that other mammals have which allow them to rotate their ears around much like cats, deer, etc. The problem is that most people consider muscles for only one use: movement. But movement is not the only role muscles can serve in the body. Some muscles in our body serve as sensory muscles while others, like the auricular muscle, serve as formation and positioning muscles, whose job it is to not necessarily move an appendage, but allow the appendage to form and be held in place.

This is nothing new however. A 1970s study from the University of Washington School of Medicine found that the auricular muscle serves a role as the foundation for cartilaginous pinna development and positioning (Smith and Takashima). That is, the auricular muscle ensures your ears develop and are held in position properly. For example, deformations of the auricular muscle lead to abnormalities known as “lop” ear. In fact, many defects of the ear can be linked back to muscle abnormalities surrounding the ear.

anat-Auricularis_superior

Coccyx (tail bone)

We’ve all heard that our tail bone is useless, or a throw back to when we had tails. It seems simple enough, we have this tail like bone structure, but we have no tail… how useless! This is actually very incorrect. The coccyx is an anchoring point for many muscles. The levatorani muscle group for example, attaches to the coccyx and plays a very important role of supporting the pelvic floor and maintaining fecal continence (www.coccygectomy.org). Other muscles that anchor to the coccyx are the anococcygeal raphe used for support of the anus and the gluteus maximus which facilitates a wide range of body movement from the waste down. Dr. Menton writes, “The incurred coccyx with its attached pelvic diaphragm supports the organs in our abdominal and pelvic cavities such as the urinary bladder, uterus, prostrate, rectum and anus. Without this critical muscular support, these organs could be easily herniated,” (Menton, 238).

So clearly the bone not only serves a function, but its function is vastly different from the function that a tail provides for other mammals. Dr. Menton writes, “The coccyx is commonly called the ‘tailbone’ because of its superficial similarity to a tail. The coccyx does occupy the same relative position at the end of our vertebral column as does the tail in tailed primates, but then where else would it be? The vertebral column is a linear row of bones that supports the head at one end and the other must end somewhere,” (Menton, 237).

anat coccyx_lg

Erector Pili

The erector pili are small muscles that give us that goosebump look when we’re cold and scared. The general idea of these muscles are that in the event of conflict, the pili engage causing our hair to stand on end, something many mammals do to appear larger or more intimidating. In the event of cold weather or chills, the pili engage causing the hair to rise trapping more air and creating additional insulation to keep the body warm. Both functions, for warmth and intimidation, are both considered useless on humans due to our lack of sufficient hair.

Yet, there are actually two functions the erector pili still provide to humans. The pili are positioned to help squeeze oils from the various sebaceous glands on our bodies, allowing the oils to secrete onto the skin surface (Menton, 239). This oil, called Sebum, provides Vitamin E, antioxidants and anti-microbal lipids to the skin. Additionally, even though our body hair can be sparse, goosebumps still do generate heat on our body and are still useful as an initial reflex in keeping us warm. Though this warming effect may not nearly be as effective as it is with hairier mammals, it is still a useful function. Plus, if you recall, it is a trade off for our ability to sweat and cool off during warm weather.

The Appendix

The appendix is a well known organ because of the risk it poses of bursting and killing us. Its function is, however, rarely publicized. In the past it was criticized as a useless organ that once served a purpose for digesting food. However, in more recent years it is being widely acknowledged as a major player in our immune system. The tissue lining the inside of the appendix has been found to make antibodies (Leyner & Goldberg, 64). Further research revealed that the appendix also serves as a “safe house” for storing bacteria used in the intestine for digestion. In fact, in the event of a pathogen making its way into the intestine, beneficial digesting bacteria are often lost in the ensuing purge. The appendix however replenishes the intestine with bacteria after just such an incident (Bolinger). Can you live without the appendix? Yes. But at great cost to your immune system. People who lose their appendix are more susceptible to acquire viruses like Hepatitis C.

Male Nipples

The number one cited useless organ has to be male nipples. It seems so obvious. Men do not need nipples. They are useless. And unlike other claimed useless organs, I make no argument of use for male nipples. They are indeed useless.

Where I will make an argument is the inference people draw from the uselessness of the nipples. Whatever your philosophical reasoning is for why men have nipples, the truth is that the purpose of all nipples is for breast feeding to rear young. But I’m sure you’re thinking, men don’t breast feed! Yes, men don’t breast feed, but females do. Well, during embryonic development our bodies follow a female template for about six weeks, after which, if you are to be a male, the male sex chromosome kicks in and male characteristics develop (Leyner & Goldberg, 61). In the same way, a female’s ovaries and a male’s testicles were originally the same organ, called gonads, before sexual differentiation.

 

Closing Thoughts

I hope you can see now that many of the organs that are claimed to be useless actually do have a use. Granted, many of these uses were not identified for a long time, which led to the misnomer that they were functionless. This leaves me skeptical of other and future accusations for useless organs whether on humans or other animals. As Mention points out, “The problem with declaring any organ to be without function is discriminating between truly functionless organs and those that have functions that are simply unknown. Indeed, over the years nearly all organs once thought to be useless have been found to be functional. When we have no evidence for function of an organ, we need to bear in mind that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” (Menton, 231).

Additionally, I’ve heard many people argue that an organ is useless simply because you can live without it. Wisdom teeth and the appendix are common examples. People have them taken out every day and are just fine… sort of. This argument is poor because it equates organ use to mere survival. You can technically live with no eyes. You can technically live with no legs. If you went into surgery to have your ears removed you could live without them. But your abilities will obviously be greatly impaired. In the same way, you may be able to live without any of these ten organs I listed, but at what cost?

A great example is the coccyx (tail bone). Brandon Miller, a contributor to live science and convinced that the coccyx is an evolutionary leftover writes, “It has been suggested that the coccyx helps to anchor minor muscles and may support pelvic organs. However, there have been many well documented medical cases where the tailbone has been surgically removed with little or no adverse effects,” (Miller). Miller  ignores the “suggested” notion that the coccyx has a purpose simply because of the lack of profound adverse effects if you have it removed. Yet medical sources that discuss the removal of the coccyx warn of the draw backs to the procedure. A common complaint among patients that have had it removed is the sagging of pelvic contents and fecal incontinence (Lakshmanan). And as Menton mentioned earlier, hernias are much more common in the pelvic region as well with the tail bone being removed. Whether you consider these drawbacks “minor” is irrelevant to the argument of function.

The last point I’ll discuss is the term vestigial, which is applied to many of the organs listed as useless. A vestigial organ is an organ surviving and remaining in a degenerate or imperfect condition or form (Miller). So an organ may have function, but because it is believed the organ once had greater function, it can be considered vestigial. This is precisely the problem I have with this term: How can we know an organ once had greater function? All claims would fall under the category of speculation. It seems that many people are failing to acknowledge a very reasonable and obvious notion: Perhaps these organs have always had the functions they continue to have. Yes, the  auricular muscle and vomeronasal organ may have minor uses we could live without, but these uses may have always been at their functional limit. Pointing out other mammals with similar organs used to a higher degree to argue the vestigial nature of our organs only works within an macroevolutionary worldview. It does not objectively provide any conclusive evidence on its own because it is circumstantial evidence. In other words, evolution must be assumed first, before vestigial organs can be used as evidence for the evolution. It is a circular argument: The vestigial organs prove evolution, evolution proves those are vestigial organs. As Dr. Dewitt concludes, “They [vestigial organs] are evolutionary relics of common ancestors with animals only if you begin with evolutionary presuppositions,” (Dewitt).

So next time you read of useless organs and evolutionary left overs just remember that most of the claims are outdated with origins that are exaggerated and speculated.

References:

“What is a coccyx and what does it do?” www.coccygectomy.org, accessed 10-06-2013.

Bergman, J., (Dec 1998) “Are wisdom teeth (third molars) vestiges of human evolution?” Journal of Creation, 12(3).

Bollinger, R.R., (2007) “Biofilms in the Large Bowel Suggest an Apparent Function of the Human Vermiform Appendix,” Journal of Theoretical Biology, 249 no.4, pp. 826-831.

Dewitt, D.A., (May 28, 2008) “Setting the Record Straight on Vestigial Organs,” www.answersingenesis.org accessed 10-06-2013.

Gurney, P., (December, 2001), “Dawkin’s eye revisited,” Journal of Creation, 15(3)

Hooper, R., (Dec 14, 2011) “Hairier is better- bedbugs bite our barest bits,” www.newscientist.com, accessed 10-06-2013.

Kevern, E.B., (Oct 22, 1999) “The Vomeronasal Organ,” Science, 286(5440).

Lakshmanan, P., (Aug 23, 2013) “Coccygectomy,” emedicine.medscape.com, accessed 10-07-2013

Leyner, M., & Goldberg, B., (2005) Why Do Men Have Nipples?  (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press)

Menton, D.N., (2010) “Vestigial Organs- Evidence for Evolution?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books)

Meredith, M., (May, 2001) “Human vomeronasal organ function: a critical review of best and worst cases,” Chem Senses, 26(4).

Miller, B., “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs),” www.livescience.com, accessed 10-07-2013

Smith, D.W. & Takashima, H., (1978) “923 Ear Muscles and Auricular Anomalies,” Pediatric Research, 12.

The following is a re-posted article from: http://www.faithandscienceresource.org.uk/id/design_rehab.html

Origins Science Needs Design Rehab

The following article was written by Dr John C Walton in response to an article by Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne which was published in the Guardian on 1 September 2005. Dr Walton’s response was sent to the Guardian on Tuesday 20 December 2005 but not published. Dr. Walton is Professor of Reactive Chemistry at St Andrews University.

Are highly accredited scientists like Professor John Walton “ignorant, stupid, insane (or wicked)” because they reject the ‘molecules to man’ view of origins? This is what Richard Dawkins would apply to scientists like him. With prestigious qualifications Professor Walton surely has a right to object! He can be found speaking on the Edinburgh Creation Group.

During the last decade a fresh, enlightening breeze has been blowing into every corner of the house that Darwin built. The enterprise promoting this sea change, known as Intelligent Design (ID), started to cohere in the mid 1990s. Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe published his book Darwin’s Black Box in which he convincingly showed that many biological structures display “irreducible complexity”. Structures like vision cascades, cellular cilia, bacterial flagella and other “molecular machines” require many complex and coordinated molecular working parts. Behe combed the literature in search of evolutionary scenarios involving many small steps, to account for the origin of such structures, but found them few and far between and totally inadequate. For biological machines to work, all (or most) of the molecular parts are needed at once, i.e. the complexity cannot be reduced to some much simpler state. Individual component proteins, or small selections of them, do not function at all and hence the Darwinian mechanism cannot build the observed complexity by gradual selection of increasingly efficient precursors. Irreducibly complex mechanical and electronic machines offer a pertinent analogy and are known to be the products of intelligent minds taking advantage of natural laws. Consequently, Behe argued that biological machines are powerful evidence of intelligent design in biology.

At about the same time Berkeley Law Professor, Phillip Johnson, applied his relentless logic to show that the full diversity of Darwinian evolution is not supported by compelling factual evidence from palaeontology or by empirical data from biology (see his book Darwin on Trial). Most importantly, Johnson highlighted the fact that the main support for Darwinian Theory derives from its philosophical assumptions. Evolutionists see science as essentially materialist and based on philosophical naturalism. Only chance and the laws of nature are admitted as acceptable explanatory tools. Any interpretation departing from this narrow arena will automatically be rejected as non-science or worse still as superstition.

But how is it possible to decide if something has been designed or if the design is only apparent? An important step was taken by mathematician and philosopher William Dembski who established criteria for detecting design. Dembski drew attention to the fact that detecting design is already a well established scientific activity in fields such as forensic science, archaeology and cryptology. Methods employed with obvious success in these areas to distinguish criminal from accidental activity, to differentiate artefacts from natural objects and to decode messages, should also be applicable to biological structures and to events in nature. In his book The Design Inference Dembski described a general method he called “specified complexity” for identifying design and distinguishing it from the effects of natural causes. He demonstrated that systems exhibiting high complexity combined with “specification” are always produced by intelligent agents. To be “specified” an object or event must correspond to an independent pattern or dynamic sequence. An example of specification would be a dart board with a bulls eye in the centre. The bulls eye is the specified target. Randomly throwing darts is unlikely to result in hitting a bulls eye. There is something special about hitting a bulls eye in a board on a wall that is very different from throwing darts then drawing a bulls eye around them wherever they hit. The difference is that the bulls eye is specified. It turns out that nature, and particularly biology, is equivalent to a long series of bulls eyes that have all been hit by darts. When something has the property of specified complexity it is logical and rational to conclude it was designed.

Dembski, Stephen Meyer and others have applied the specified complexity criterion to biological phenomena and find good agreement with Behe’s conclusion that their origin implies intelligent design. It is especially significant that the Intelligent Design criterion enables data from across a spectrum of scientific areas to be rationalised. Physicists have discovered that the existence of life in the universe depends on a highly improbable balance of fundamental factors, often referred to as the “fine tuning of the universe” or as “anthropic coincidences”. Application of the specified design criterion to this cosmic enigma also signals intelligent design as the most likely cause.

It is apparent that this is a fresh, logical and rational way of thinking, which enables design to be detected independently of any philosophical or religious beliefs. Objective thinkers will welcome this as a way of shedding light on some of science’s most perplexing impasses. In practise Intelligent Design is growing in influence among scientists and philosophers who are willing to consider design as a third fundamental cause along with chance and natural law. On the other hand the old school of materialists, who hold that only chance and necessity are admissible causes, oppose Intelligent Design with every means their powerful establishment positions give them.

Richard Dawkins and Jerry Coyne are long-time members of this vintage group and are adamantly opposed to Intelligent Design. No surprises there! Distinguished philosopher of science Karl Popper wrote “the wrong view of science betrays itself in the craving to be right”. The intolerant tone of the article written by Dawkins and Coyne “One Side Can Be Wrong”, which appeared in the Guardian Newspaper on September 1st. 2005 is a pity, and shows an emotional and ideological attachment to their world-view has led them deeply into wrong territory. For them evolution should brook no rivals. Origins research is one of the softest sciences so proponents particularly need to avoid the craving Popper spoke of and to cultivate an impartial and objective attitude. It is worth taking time to evaluate the more coherent of the points made in the article.

One label Dawkins and Coyne immediately stick on Intelligent Design is: “There is nothing new about Intelligent Design. It is simply creationism camouflaged with a new name.” The major players in Intelligent Design science emphatically reject this assertion. Proponents of Intelligent Design regard it as a scientific research programme that investigates the effects of intelligent causes. Intelligent Design advocates such as Michael Behe and William Dembski are not young earth creationists and do not reject evolution. For Dembski the purpose of Intelligent Design is “to rehabilitate design as a mode of scientific explanation.” Meyer wrote “The question that must be asked about the origin of life is not ‘which materialistic scenario seems most adequate?’, but ‘what actually caused life to arise on the earth?’”. The specified complexity criterion for detecting design makes no appeal to sacred books and is independent of all religious authority. Phillip Johnson remarked that, “Our objective is not to impose a solution, but to open the most important areas of intellectual inquiry to fresh thinking”. Of course Intelligent Design research has important implications for creationism, but support for creationism is not its objective. Intelligent Design advocates accept evolution, but they doubt that it can do everything that Darwinists claim. Their purpose is to ‘follow the evidence wherever it leads’. This statement has become a slogan of Intelligent Design advocates, and is entirely in harmony with the open-minded attitude with which any scientific investigation should be pursued. It is important to understand that Intelligent Design is not a claim that miracles occur. Rather, it seeks to establish if design is an actual feature of the universe that cannot be duplicated by the effects of natural law and chance.

Early in their article Dawkins and Coyne say “So, why are we so sure that intelligent design is not a real scientific theory, worthy of “both sides” treatment? Isn’t that just our personal opinion? It is an opinion shared by the vast majority of professional biologists . .”. “If Intelligent Design really were a scientific theory, positive evidence for it, gathered through research, would fill peer-reviewed scientific journals. This doesn’t happen. It isn’t that editors refuse to publish Intelligent Design research.” As already mentioned, for material naturalists “real science” only admits chance and necessity as valid causes. Dawkins and the majority of his evolutionary peers automatically rule out Intelligent Design on these philosophical grounds and consider it a waste of time to evaluate the evidence. The majority of professional biologists work in institutions dedicated to evolution and its sister disciplines. Many institutes are specifically named “Evolutionary Biology” or some variant of this. The research funding, the livelihoods, the careers, the professional reputations of all these scientists depend on adherence to evolutionary orthodoxy. Objectivity on foundational questions of origins is not an option for them in these circumstances. The majority scientific opinion cannot be taken as a trustworthy yardstick for gauging the validity of Intelligent Design. In any case, Dawkins and Coyne, after making their misleading point admit that it is nonsense: “[But of course science does not proceed by majority vote among scientists.]”

It is totally unsurprising that Intelligent Design research is not reported in mainline science journals. Contrary to Dawkins and Coynes’ assertion, editors routinely refuse to publish. When Dr Richard Sternberg, editor of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, published a single paper by Cambridge educated Stephen Meyer making the case for Intelligent Design, he immediately became the subject of a closet campaign of ridicule and intimidation. “They were saying I accepted money under the table, that I was a crypto-priest, that I was a sleeper cell operative for the creationists” said Sternberg. He was advised not to attend a biological society meeting because feelings were running so high order couldn’t be guaranteed. An independent agency, the US Office of Special Counsel, examined email traffic emanating from the Smithsonian Institution, where Sternberg held a fellowship, and noted that “retaliation came in many forms … Misinformation was disseminated through the Smithsonian and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false” (see: www.rsternberg.net for Sternberg’s own restrained account of the affair). Editors are well aware of the intimidation and harassment they will face so it is small wonder they shy away from publishing articles favourable to Intelligent Design. It is ironic for Dawkins of all people to denigrate Intelligent Design because, “Its advocates bypass normal scientific due process by appealing directly to the non-scientific public and – with great shrewdness – to the government officials they elect” when these are exactly the methods he adopts himself! His main contribution to science is the series of popular books expounding his brand of evolution to the general public. In fact Dawkins is following a long line of evolutionists including Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley and Stephen Gould all of whom have appealed directly to the non-scientific public in books and popular articles. Dawkins and Coynes’ belief that it is fine for evolutionists to appeal directly to the public, but wrong for those who disagree with them, is deeply revealing of their ultra-partisan approach.

According to Dawkins and Coyne, Intelligent Design scientists make unreasonable demands for evidence: “One side (Evolution) is required to produce evidence, every step of the way. The other side is never required to produce one iota of evidence, but is deemed to have won automatically, the moment the first side encounters a difficulty – the sort of difficulty that all sciences encounter every day, and go to work to solve, with relish.” For over a century evolutionary scientists have been promising that laboratory science will someday discover a quantifiable mechanism for evolutionary change. Scientifically rigorous explanations have also been promised for: how life originated; how the genetic code and new genetic information could arise; how complex biological organs like eyes, cilia, etc. originated; how new biological species developed from ancestral forms and why the fossil record does not show the “innumerable transitional forms” Darwin expected. Intelligent Design scientists do not denigrate the huge progress that biologists have made in understanding how smaller changes have come about, how new varieties of animals and plants are produced, i.e. microevolution in general. Evolutionists assert that the large steps to really new structures (macroevolution) are just an accumulation of smaller steps. It is very significant however, that even after all this time, verifiable laboratory evidence is completely absent, the fossil record presents major problems, and only fanciful “scenarios” are on offer. The point Intelligent Design scientists are making is that the time has now come to examine alternative explanations in which design is evaluated alongside natural causes. The relish with which scientists work in solving origins problems could be pleasantly enhanced by adding the Intelligent Design criterion to their arsenal of scientific tools.

Dawkins and Coyne believe: “Biologists, on the other hand, can confidently claim the equivalent “cinematic” sequence of fossils for a very large number of evolutionary transitions. Not all, but very many, including our own descent from the bipedal ape Australopithecus.” This claim is seriously at odds with considered opinion in the scientific literature emanating from specialists in palaeontology. For example, Kemp says “the observed fossil pattern is invariably not compatible with a gradualistic evolutionary process” (Fossils and Evolution, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 16; see also: Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 8-10.) Even evolutionist icon Stephen Gould admitted: “The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same as when they disappear, morphological change is usually limited and directionless; 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and fully formed.” The fossil record does not supply evidence for macroevolution. What is more, if the fossil record were really as portrayed by Dawkins and Coyne, there would have been no need for the “Punctuated Equilibria” hypothesis to have been formulated to try and explain the universal gaps.

Dawkins and Coyne keep up their courage by suggesting: “And – far more telling – not a single authentic fossil has ever been found in the “wrong” place in the evolutionary sequence. Such an anachronistic fossil, if one were ever unearthed, would blow evolution out of the water. As the great biologist J B S Haldane growled, when asked what might disprove evolution: “Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian.”” This is to seriously underestimate the capacity of evolution to absorb bad news! When it comes to the fossil record, even Charles Darwin admitted that it was strong evidence against his theory and appealed to the incomplete nature of the record to try to get around this. Not surprisingly, Dawkins and Coyne also appeal to the incompleteness of the record. But appealing to fossils that have not been found, and trying to explain away those that have been found, hardly constitute strong evidence supporting Darwinism. There is a great deal of flexibility about exactly what the right evolutionary sequence is. Furthermore, geochronology is far from an exact science. Different dating methods frequently give discordant results. Samples for radioactive dating may contain contamination from younger material or from older source rock so that the classify them either as intrusive, i.e. buried at a later date by human or natural means, or they are labelled frauds. Enough doubt can always be thrown. For a recent example, consider the report by Bennett, Huddart et al. of fossil human footprints in volcanic ash near Puebla, Mexico, dated to 40,000 yr by a variety of techniques including radiocarbon analysis (“right” date can usually be found, either by “selection” from available samples or by selection from the range of dates. A nice example of this process unconsciously in action during the controversy over the date of skull KNM ER 1470 from the Lake Turkana region of Kenya is described by Roger Lewin in his book “Bones of Contention”. Nor do grossly out of place fossils like rabbits in the pre-Cambrian present any threat to evolution. Evolutionary palaeontologists “know” such fossils are impossible and therefore they always classify them either as intrusive, i.e. buried at a later date by human or natural means, or they are labelled frauds. Enough doubt can always be thrown. For a recent example, consider the report by Bennett, Huddart et al. of fossil human footprints in volcanic ash near Puebla, Mexico, dated to 40,000 yr by a variety of techniques including radiocarbon analysis which challenged evolutionary views about the timing of human entry into the Americas. No surprise that it was rapidly followed by a rebuttal from Renne et al. (Nature 2005, 438, E7) re-dating the footprints by a gigantic leap to 1.3 Myr and redefining them as “markings” caused by erosion. Although many anachronistic fossils have been found, evolution routinely shrugs them off.

Dawkins and Coyne assure us that: “In fact, the bacterial flagellum is certainly not too complex to have evolved, nor is any other living structure that has ever been carefully studied. Biologists have located plausible series of intermediates, using ingredients to be found elsewhere in living systems”; but this is largely wishful thinking. What is meant by “located”? Does this mean located in the fossil record, located in laboratories or located in the imagination? When it comes to explaining the origin of the bacterial flagellum, and similarly complex, information-rich biological organelles, evolutionary ingenuity has found little to offer, as recourse to biochemistry textbooks and journals has demonstrated. Of course, a few, short “plausible series of intermediates” for these organelles may be “located” in imaginary scenarios regarded even by their originators as incomplete and highly tentative. Scientific imagination knows no limits! But the broad picture of this area of evolution is noteworthy for the scarcity of ideas and their insubstantial character.

The oft repeated dictum “evolution is fact” has become a password ritually affirmed by orthodox Darwinians. Even distinguished academics like Dawkins and Coyne clutch this shaky prop. “The weight of the evidence has become so heavy that opposition to the fact of evolution is laughable to all who are acquainted with even a fraction of the published data. Evolution is a fact: as much a fact as plate tectonics or the heliocentric solar system.” The trouble is, the word evolution has become too ambiguous in its meaning. In many contexts “evolution” means simply change, and who would deny change in the natural world? There is indeed a large volume of evidence that microevolution happens. This is not in dispute; but neither is this the process Intelligent Design scientists are addressing. To quote Phillip Johnson “The point … is whether it (microevolution) tells us anything important about the processes responsible for creating birds, insects and trees in the first place.” All the evidence favouring evolution is of the “finch beak” kind; small variations within a known species or closely related group of species. Fossil sequences of trilobites showing size gradations are well known, as are the laboratory experiments developing fruit flies with divergent morphology. The problem is that this kind of evidence does little to advance knowledge of how trilobites or fruit flies came into existence in the first place. That evolution was supposed to be about the origin of species has become lost in a maze of trivia.

For about 150 years science has striven mightily to explain the origins of everything in terms of only chance, allied with the laws of nature. Dawkins and Coyne offer nothing new, just the same unsubstantiated assertions and unfulfilled promises that have led origins science into decades of sterile wandering. Origins science seems gripped in a mesmeric addiction to games of chance. It is now time to check into design rehab. Their article shows that Dawkins and Coyne are still in full denial. The prime objective of the Intelligent Design enterprise is to establish design as a basic cause, along with chance and natural law, and hence to advance understanding of how complex biological and other structures originated. There are hopeful signs that a new generation is recognising this as a logically sound, rational and reasonable programme.

John C Walton (St Andrews, December 2005)

Reposted from: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/08/noted_atheist_p063451.html

 

 

“In September, Oxford University Press officially releases the hardcover version of a new book by renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel at New York University. It’s a bombshell.

Already available on Kindle, Nagel’s book carries the provocative title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. You read that right: The book’s subtitle declares that “the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.” Nagel is an atheist who is not convinced by the positive case for intelligent design. But he clearly finds the evidence for modern Darwinian theory wanting. Moreover, he is keenly appreciative of the “iconoclasts” of the intelligent design movement for raising a significant challenge to the current scientific orthodoxy. In chapter 1, Nagel cites with favor the work of three Discovery Institute Fellows in particular:

In thinking about these questions I have been stimulated by criticisms of the prevailing scientific world picture… by the defenders of intelligent design. Even though writers like Michael Behe and Stephen Meyer are motivated at least in part by their religious beliefs, the empirical arguments they offer against the likelihood that the origin of life and its evolutionary history can be fully explained by physics and chemistry are of great interest in themselves. Another skeptic, David Berlinski, has brought out these problems vividly without reference to the design inference. Even if one is not drawn to the alternative of an explanation by the actions of a designer, the problems that these iconoclasts pose for the orthodox scientific consensus should be taken seriously. They do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met. It is manifestly unfair.

Refreshingly, Nagel is not taken in by one-sided efforts to evade the arguments of intelligent design proponents by stigmatizing their presumed “religious beliefs.” As Nagel points out, “the empirical arguments” offered by ID proponents “are of great interest in themselves.” It’s the evidence that matters, and it’s the evidence that demands a response.
Nagel goes on to say something that likely will really rile some defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy:

I believe the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude for challenging a scientific world view that owes some of the passion displayed by its adherents precisely to the fact that it is thought to liberate us from religion. That world view is ripe for displacement….

Wow. Anyone who still believes that the weight of the evidence supports the Darwinian view, and that no rational person can doubt the Darwinian consensus, needs to read Nagel’s book.

Nagel is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and recipient of the prestigious Balzan Prize for his work in moral philosophy. He has received fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other institutions. He is one of America’s top philosophers. Obviously, he also is a man of great courage and independence of thought.

Get ready for the book burning parties by defenders of Darwinian orthodoxy. I wouldn’t even be surprised if there is an effort to convince Oxford University Press to disown Nagel’s book. So you might want to get the book while you can.”

The following is an article written by synthetic organic chemist Dr. James M. Tour called, “Layman’s Reflections on Evolution and Creation. An Insider’s View of the Academy .”

It is a very insightful and incredibly fascinating article about his stance on the creation/evolution debate that is put into wonderful perspective. You can find it here: http://www.jmtour.com/personal-topics/the-scientist-and-his-%e2%80%9ctheory%e2%80%9d-and-the-christian-creationist-and-his-%e2%80%9cscience%e2%80%9d/

Tour writes,

“Assuming that I have something significant to contribute to the evolution vs. creation debate, many ask me to speak and write concerning my thoughts on the topic. However, I do not have anything substantive to say about it. I am a layman on the subject. Although I have read about a half dozen books on the debate, maybe a dozen, and though I can speak authoritatively on complex chemical synthesis, I am not qualified to enter the public discussion on evolution vs. creation. So please don’t ask me to be the speaker or debater at your event, and think carefully about asking me for an interview because I will probably not give you the profound quotations that you seek. You are of course free to quote me from what is written here, but do me the kindness of placing my statements in a fair context.

I have been labeled as an Intelligent Design (ID) proponent. I am not. I do not know how to use science to prove intelligent design although some others might. I am sympathetic to the arguments on the matter and I find some of them intriguing, but the scientific proof is not there, in my opinion. So I prefer to be free of that ID label. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal), one of the finest scientists, mathematicians and inventors that the world has ever enjoyed, and also among the most well-respected and deepest thinking Christian apologists, wrote in his Pensees 463, “It is a remarkable fact that no canonical [biblical] author has ever used nature to prove God. They all try to make people believe in him. David, Solomon, etc., never said: ‘There is no such thing as a vacuum, therefore God exists.’ They must have been cleverer than the cleverest of their successors, all of whom have used proofs from nature. This is very noteworthy.’” As Kreeft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kreeft) points out in his commentary on Pascal’s Pensees, “If the Scripture does not use nature to prove God, it can’t be the best strategy. Notice that Pascal does not say that there are no good proofs of God or that none of them begin with data from nature. Elsewhere, he specifies merely that such proofs are psychologically weak, but he does not say they are logically weak. More important, they are salvifically weak, [meaning that] they will not save us. If nature proved God clearly, we would not have to search for him with all our hearts.” Pascal further writes in his Pensees 429 , “This is what I see that troubles me: Nature has nothing to offer me that does not give rise to doubt and anxiety; if there is a God supporting nature, she should unequivocally proclaim him, and that, if the signs in nature are deceptive, they should be completely erased; that nature should say all or nothing so that I could see what course I ought to follow.” Though 350 years since Pascal penned his dilemma, as a modern-day scientist, I do not know how to prove ID using my most sophisticated of analytical tools. I share Pascal’s frustration. Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, when scientists had obtained the first molecular resolution images of human DNA, it had self-assembled (a thermodynamic process) into the Hebrew script to say, “The God of Heaven and Earth was here.”? But it did not, and I suppose that the wonder would have elicited no love from the skeptic anyway. Therefore, God seems to have set nature as a clue, not a solution, to keep us yearning for him.

Not that it matters much, but since many want to know, I will ask the question for them: Where does Jim Tour stand on the evolution vs. creation debate? I do have scientific problems understanding macroevolution as it is usually presented. I simply can not accept it as unreservedly as many of my scientist colleagues do, although I sincerely respect them as scientists. Some of them seem to have little trouble embracing many of evolution’s proposals based upon (or in spite of) archeological, mathematical, biochemical and astrophysical suggestions and evidence, and yet few are experts in all of those areas, or even just two of them. Although most scientists leave few stones unturned in their quest to discern mechanisms before wholeheartedly accepting them, when it comes to the often gross extrapolations between observations and conclusions on macroevolution, scientists, it seems to me, permit unhealthy leeway. When hearing such extrapolations in the academy, when will we cry out, “The emperor has no clothes!”?

From what I can see, microevolution is a fact; we see it all around us regarding small changes within a species, and biologists demonstrate this procedure in their labs on a daily basis. Hence, there is no argument regarding microevolution. The core of the debate for me, therefore, is the extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution. Here is what some supporters of Darwinism have written regarding this point in respected journals, and it is apparent that they struggle with the same difficulty.

  • Stern, David L. “Perspective: Evolutionary Developmental Biology and the Problem of Variation,” Evolution 2000, 54, 1079-1091. A contribution from the University of Cambridge. “One of the oldest problems in evolutionary biology remains largely unsolved; Historically, the neo-Darwinian synthesizers stressed the predominance ofmicromutations in evolution, whereas others noted the similarities between somedramatic mutations and evolutionary transitions to argue for macromutationism.”
  • Simons, Andrew M. “The Continuity of Microevolution and Macroevolution,” Journal of Evolutionary Biology 2002, 15, 688-701. A contribution from Carleton University.”A persistent debate in evolutionary biology is one over the continuity of microevolution and macroevolution — whether macroevolutionary trends are governed by the principles of microevolution.”

So the debate between the validity of extending microevolutionary trends to macroevolutionary projections is indeed “persistent” in evolutionary biology.

Some are disconcerted or even angered that I signed a statement back in 2001 along with over 700 other scientists: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” Do not the texts written by the two authors above underscore what I signed, namely, “Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged”? And these “oldest problems in evolutionary biology” lead me and many others to our being “skeptical.” It is not a matter of politics. I simply do not understand, chemically, how macroevolution could have happened. Hence, am I not free to join the ranks of the skeptical and to sign such a statement without reprisals from those that disagree with me? Furthermore, when I, a non-conformist, ask proponents for clarification, they get flustered in public and confessional in private wherein they sheepishly confess that they really don’t understand either. Well, that is all I am saying: I do not understand. But I am saying it publicly as opposed to privately. Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me. Lunch will be my treat. Until then, I will maintain that no chemist understands, hence we are collectively bewildered. And I have not even addressed origin of first life issues. For me, that is even more scientifically mysterious than evolution. Darwin never addressed origin of life, and I can see why he did not; he was far too smart for that. Present day scientists that expose their thoughts on this become ever so timid when they talk with me privately. I simply can not understand the source of their confidence when addressing their positions publicly.

Furthermore, most of my scientist colleagues do not discuss macroevolution very often because they are too busy with their own fields of interest to be sidetracked by such tangential matters. Though the acceptance of macroevolution is rather implicit within their core understandings, most science professors are simply too harried to take much notice of the details. Pondering and thoughtfulness has been pounded and distilled out of many of us; there’s another meeting to attend, another proposal to write, another manuscript to proof, yet another lecture to deliver, 100 more emails to answer, and the anxieties about our futures must be allayed. “The peace which passeth all understanding,” is beyond reach, nay beyond understanding.

Likewise, I do not well-understand the stance of many of my creationist friends regarding their scientific evidence for creation or intelligent design, but they seem to be quite comfortable in most respects with the natural and historical suggestions for its claims. I am happy for them, but I hope that their position does not cause them to trump brotherly love or charity in thought or words. When they write on these topics, they are too quick to cite each other or to refer to 40-year-old studies, and slow to consider the newer findings in the mainstream scientific literature. The scientist is not the creationist’s enemy, and most scientists are quite sincere in producing research that is accurate to the best of today’s measurement abilities. For example, the gross dismissing of radiometric dating experiments that use even multiple corroborating nuclei, not by a mere 20% or even 100%, but by 4-5 orders of magnitude, based on antiquated “scientific” arguments, is unscientific and unfair. Moreover, to simply suggest that “God made it look older than it really is” is also unreasonable. With what else is God deceiving us? The virgin birth, the crucifixion or the resurrection, perhaps? Never. God is not in the business of deception, but in causing man to seek so that he could find. And my creationist friends need some thoughtful explanations for their children because, in my experience, young college-aged people seek truth, and if you threaten them, try to brow-beat them, or show them a select set of cloistered “scientific” data, they’ll smell hypocrisy, and sooner or later in life, reject it altogether.

What a comfort it must be to be pleasantly settled in one camp or the other, but I can not be so settled, and hence I have few tent-fellows. Based upon my faith in the Scriptures, I do believe (yes, faith and belief go beyond scientific evidence for this scientist) that God created the heavens and the earth and all that dwell therein, including a man named Adam and a woman named Eve. As for many of the details and the time-spans, I personally become less clear. Some may ask, What’s “less clear” about the text that reads, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth”? That is a fair question, and I wish I had an answer that would satisfy them. But I do not because I remain less clear.

I hope that’s satisfactory; I mean for me, a scientist and a Christian, to be unsure of a few things in both science and Christianity. The question is not fundamental to my salvation as a Christian which is based upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, my confession in him as Savior and my belief in his resurrection from the dead. And I used to think that my outward confession of skepticism regarding Darwinian Theory was also of little consequence to my career as a scientist. Specifically, in the past, I wrote that my standing as a scientist was “based primarily upon my scholarly peer-reviewed publications.” I no longer believe that, however.

In the last few years I have seen a saddening progression at several institutions. I have witnessed unfair treatment upon scientists that do not accept macroevolutionary arguments and for their having signed the above-referenced statement regarding the examination of Darwinism. (I will comment no further regarding the specifics of the actions taken upon the skeptics; I love and honor my colleagues too much for that.) I never thought that science would have evolved like this. I deeply value the academy; teaching, professing and research in the university are my privileges and joys. Rice University, from the administration, has always been gracious and open. The president of Rice University, David Leebron, has even written to the faculty that a,

“core value of our university is free and open inquiry. We encourage robust debate on the difficult issues of the day, and we welcome people with many points of view to our campus to better understand those issues and the differences that can divide us. That can and does mean that we sometimes provide a forum for opinions that may be controversial — or even on occasion reprehensible — to many or a few. While we cannot and will not censor the expression of divergent opinions, we do expect those opinions be expressed with civility and with respect for other points of view.”

Hence, by my observation, the unfair treatment upon the skeptics of macroevolution has not come from the administration level. But my recent advice to my graduate students has been direct and revealing: If you disagree with Darwinian Theory, keep it to yourselves if you value your careers, unless, of course, you’re one of those champions for proclamation; I know that that fire exists in some, so be ready for lead-ridden limbs. But if the scientific community has taken these shots at senior faculty, it will not be comfortable for the young non-conformist. When the power-holders permit no contrary discussion, can a vibrant academy be maintained? Is there a University (unity in diversity)? For the United States, I pray that the scientific community and the National Academy in particular will investigate the disenfranchisement that is manifest upon some of their own, and thereby address the inequity.

So what should be taught in schools regarding evolution? As I wrote, I am not a proponent of Intelligent Design for the reasons I state above: I can not prove it using my tools of chemistry to which I am bound in the chemistry classroom; the same tools to which I commensurately bind my evolutionist colleagues. But I think that a better approach might include more teaching about evolution, namely coverage of legitimate scientific criticisms of neo-Darwinism and disputes about the origin of the first life. That would be more balanced.

Some have asked me what I think of the movie, “Expelled. No Intelligence Allowed.” I saw a closed viewing of the movie in February 2008, two months before its public showing. It was difficult for me to watch because it struck so close to home, thus I am sure that my feelings were different than the other non-scientists in the theater. As to the veracity of the specific claims by others in the movie, I cannot judge since I was not walking in their shoes. But here is what I fear: the movie might serve to increase the polarization between the scientific and lay communities. That a subset of the scientific establishment is retarding the careers of Darwinian skeptics is true as far as I have witnessed personally. If there are legitimate scientific skepticisms regarding the extrapolation of microevolution to macroevolution, those skeptics are sometimes stifled through unfair treatment regarding their career advancement; that is real although most scientists would say that such attacks on careers are nonexistent. Most would say such a thing because they are not involved in the skirmish and they are not aware that a colleague down the hall is hemorrhaging. Like many, they are absorbed in their own work because science can be all-consuming. I do not fault them for that. Most scientists, as I said, are far too busy with their own careers to be involved with other’s problems of this sort. A small number of scientists would say that the stifled deserve stifling. Therefore, if attention can be brought to the unfortunate state in science through the movie, let it come. I hope all welcome freedom of speech and freedom of inquiry, even if that freedom threatens one’s own preconceived views or areas of research. But I also hope that the reaction will not be too great on the layperson’s side wherein their disgust induces a politician or two to become incensed in the investigation because of the unnecessarily incendiary portrayals to Nazism, Berlin-walling and church-demolishing in the movie; although entertaining from a theatrical perspective, that part of the movie is taken to an unrealistic extrapolation point. But then again, one who is far more qualified than I am, and further seasoned by fire, believed differently. Viktor Frankl (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl), a former Auschwitz inmate wrote in The Doctor and the Soul, that the source for much of the 20th Century’s inhumanity has come from the very origins being discussed here.

“If we present a man with a concept of man which is not true, we may well corrupt him. When we present man as an automaton of reflexes, as a mind-machine, as a bundle of instincts, as a pawn of drives and reactions, as a mere product of instinct, heredity and environment, we feed the nihilism to which modern man is, in any case, prone.

“I became acquainted with the last stage of that corruption in my second concentration camp, Auschwitz. The gas chambers of Auschwitz were the ultimate consequence of the theory that man is nothing but the product of heredity and environment; or as the Nazi liked to say, ‘of Blood and Soil.’ I am absolutely convinced that the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Maidanek were ultimately prepared not in some Ministry or other in Berlin, but rather at the desks and lecture halls of nihilistic scientists and philosophers [emphasis added].”

If Frankl is correct, God help us.”

 “Race is the witchcraft of our time… It is a contemporary myth. Man’s most dangerous myth.” – Montague Francis Ashley-Montague, Anthropologist.[1]

 

Identifying people as being part of a particular “race” has been instilled in me ever since I was a child. Reinforced by the notion that evolutionary science confirmed that we all come from varying races of humans (varying evolved versions of man), I grew up with very unhealthy views of the multitude of cultures and different people I encountered everyday in Los Angeles. My teachers would educate us about the “races” but then teach us toleration of differences and peace. Though I was far from being a “racist” in the traditional sense, I possessed what is debatably an unhealthy habit in that I had preconceived opinions about people based on their race. Social studies have revealed that when we identify someone as a particular race we immediately link that person with our preconceived notions of that race.[2] Regardless of whether those notions are positive or negative, they are still preconceived and unfounded in that individual initially. This is something, that if we were all honest with ourselves, we do to a certain degree everyday. Whether these thought processes are natural, healthy, right or wrong becomes a very debatable sociological issue.

 

Later in my life when I started reading the Bible, and eventually became a Christian, I was presented with a different viewpoint on races. The Bible makes it clear that we are all one, part of the same family.

 

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…” Acts17:26NKJV.

 

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28 NKJV.

 

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all,” Colossians3:11NIV.

 

These verses coincide with the first book of Genesis in which all of mankind is an offspring of Adam and Eve. This became a problem for me immediately because it corrupted the whole notion of there being races. Now some might try to reconcile a Biblical Adam and Eve with the traditional view of races, as I tried, but I concluded it cannot be done. A study of history, science, and sociology reveals that this issue is leaning towards one side more and more as time progresses. And it is leaning towards the Biblical model of there being no real races at all.

 

A Brief History of Racism

 

Discrimination has always been around. It can be argued that ever since man has been around there has been some form of discrimination against others for various reasons. But racism as we know it today did not significantly originate until the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries.[3] Suddenly European explorers were encountering people much different than themselves instead of the very subtle differences found in people within their own neighboring countries. It thus became a need to explain these differences.

 

The concept of race then began to take shape to explain these differences and eventually support the notion of more dominant races which could then justify exploitation of inferior races. And as history shows, European and neo colonialism generally involved an exploitation of the natives being colonized. This occurred for most indigenous populations, including Hawaiians, as well as Latinos who were colonized by Spainand Portugal. From Africa, to Asia, to all PacificIslands, Europeans were colonizing and taking power.[4]

 

Science was first used to distinguish race in the 18th century by a Swiss botanist and explorer named Linnaeus. His book Systems of Nature would become the foundation for modern taxonomy. In his second edition he took on distinguishing humans, in which he labeled all humans as homo sapiens, but divided them into four distinct regions; American (americanus), European (europaeus), Asian (asiaticus), and African (afer).[5] Further descriptions would indicate Homo sapien europaeus as very smart and muscular, whereas Homo sapien afer was noted as slow, negligent and foolish. But this taxonomy was differentiated and categorized by geography. Before Darwinian evolution originated in the 1800’s, this geographic location determined race. For example some scientists distinguished races as the “English Race” or the “Irish Race,” etc.[6]

 

This of course changed when Charles Darwin published his revolutionary book, Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection of the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. At the heart of this book are many incredibly racist ideals. Ideals which were quickly realized and propagated for the same reasons found in the Age of Exploration. If man was evolving, with Caucasians being the apex of advanced human, then all other races were inferior to some degree. Thus many atrocities could be justified, whether intentional or unintentional. Racism was no longer determined by geography, but by biological superiority with the lowest on the totem pole being more ape than man. Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Steven Jay Gould claims, “Biological arguments for racism may have been common before 1859, but they increased by orders of magnitude following the acceptance of evolution theory.”[7] According to Orin Starn, professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University North Carolina, “Brains were very much the preoccupation and obsession of many scientists and especially anthropologists in the 1800s, and you had back then this notion that—to put it crudely—that white people had bigger brains than people from the Third World, than brown people, and that bigger brains meant that they were more intelligent and that that could somehow explain and justify European colonialism and dominance over the rest of the world. So what you had back then in the 1800s was scientific racism.”[8]

 

Ernst Haeckel, a scientist at the time that strongly supported Darwinian evolution, yet is now widely discredited, wrote, “At the lowest stage of human mental development are the Australians, some tribes of the Polynesians, and the Bushmen, Hottentots, and some of the Negro tribes. Nothing, however, is perhaps more remarkable in this respect, than that some of the wildest tribes in southern Asia and eastern Africa have no trace whatever of the first foundations of all human civilization, of family life, marriage. They live together in herds, like apes.”[9]

 

There was a time when the Aborigines were considered to be the missing link between us and our apelike ancestors.[10] This resulted in terrible atrocities committed against aboriginal people in an effort to collect scientific specimens. There was a time when an African pygmy was displayed with an orangutan in the same cage at the Bronx zoo.[11] The Scientific American published an article on Congo pygmies noting them as “small ape-lie, elfish creatures… [that] exhibit many ape-like features in their bodies.”[12]

 

Science was also misused for race differentiation with intelligence tests like the Binet test in the late 1800s and early 1900s. At the time it was believed intelligence was a biological trait, so if you failed an intelligence test it was because of your biology.[13] The problem was that the test didn’t accurately gauge intelligence but instead gauged English literacy and western culture.[14] So if you didn’t speak English, were illiterate, and knew nothing of western culture you would of course fail, then you would be considered “feeble-minded.” Naturally many foreigners failed these tests which would lead to the belief that there were intelligence levels between races, with white Europeans and Americans being the most intelligent.

 

The notion of evolution-based biological races would lead to many atrocities in the years to come. Most notably the eugenics movement and the Nazi holocaust. Science was birthing a terrible racism with monumental casualties. But was this real science? Or pseudoscience involving more of cultural and social influence than actual observational research? What does science tell us today?

 

 

Are There Really Different Races?

 

First, there should be some clarifications on race, culture and ethnicity. Today people tend to use them interchangeably as if they are one and the same which leads to a massive convolution of the issue. Race is a classification system for identifying people within specific groups based on physical characteristics such as eye shape, skin color, etc. which is the result of common decent and heredity. Culture is the combined beliefs, values and behaviors that a group of people share. Then there is ethnicity, which is the most troublesome for people. Ethnicity is a part of culture, but applies to smaller groups within the culture. It contains the more specific characteristics of people within the culture. For example, many of us share a common national culture being Americans [assuming you as the reader are an American], but have varying beliefs and traditions more specifically found in our ethnicity. Often these values and beliefs can be entangled with both culture and ethnicity, and often they are not. Either way, ethnicity and culture is far different from race.

 

Today, all human beings are classified as Homo sapiens sapiens, with all scientists agreeing that there really is only one race of humans.[15] This is based off a large amount of research which is producing the same unified results. The National Institute of Health announced, based off human genetic sequences, that there is only one race, the human race.[16] Results from the Human Genome Project reveal that all humans are 99.9% similar to each other.[17] What we consider to be racial differences or characteristics are only minor variations among different people groups. Scientists have determined that the average person is about 0.2% different from another person whether their next door or around the world.[18]

 

Dr. Harold P. Freeman, the chief executive, president and director of surgery at NorthGeneralHospitalin Manhattandeclares, “If you ask what percentage of your genes is reflected in your external appearance, the basis by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent. This is a very, very minimal reflection of your genetic makeup.”[19] Additional studies report similar results of 0.012% of variance at a biological level.[20]

 

But if we are all the same for the most part, why do we look so different? This indicates precisely the problem: Appearance. Douglas C. Wallace, a professor of molecular genetics at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlantaexplains why race is so widely recognized at a personal level, “Unfortunately for social harmony, the human brain is exquisitely attuned to differences in packaging details, prompting people to exaggerate the significance of what has come to be called race. The criteria that people use for race are based entirely on external features that we are programmed to recognize and the reason we’re programmed to recognize them is that it’s vitally important to our species that each of us be able to distinguish one individual from the next. Our whole social structure is based on visual cues, and we’ve been programmed to recognize them, and to recognize individuals.”[21]

 

It is therefore necessary to break down the physical visual components of what we consider race. The first difference people immediately think of with race is skin color. When we think of skin color, we think of many variances in color from black people, to asian people, to latin people, and white people. But from a scientific stand point there is actually only one coloring agent, melanin. And of melanin there are only two types; eumelanin (brown to black) and pheomelanin (red to yellow).[22] So in reality all people are just different shades of melanin within melanocyte cells. Melanin also plays a part in eye color and hair color. The more melanin produced, the darker the eyes or hair of an individual. Then consider that melanin is controlled by four to six genes with multiple alleles and it becomes possible for one couple to produce children with a wide variety of skin shades.[23] For example, my two very tan parents producing me, a fair skinned freckled boy incapable of tanning. Unless you consider freckle accumulation a form of tanning.

 

According to genetic counselor Dr. Ricki Lewis, “Although people come in a wide variety of hues, we all have about the same number of melanocytes per unit area of skin. However, people differ in melanosome number, size, and density of distribution. Differences in skin color arise from the number and distribution of melanin pieces in the skin cells of the uppermost layers… skin color is not a reliable indicator of ancestry.”[24]

 

Another factor used to distinguish race is eye shape. But eye shape is determined by the amount of adipose tissue around the eye. Asians have more adipose tissue whereas Caucasians tend to have less, hence the notable difference in eye shape.[25] So we all have adipose tissue, but in varying amounts, just like melanin.

 

Further studies on genetics reveal that a traditionally labeled “black” person can be more related to a random traditionally labeled “white” person than another black person. Sub-Saharan Africans and Australian aborigines both have black skin and many would even go so far as to say they’re very similar looking, yet genetically they are very dissimilar in inherited characteristics. In one study, 100 PennsylvaniaStateUniversitystudents had their DNA tested to compare European, Asian, African and Native American genetic contribution. The results revealed that none of the students were “pure” anything. One light skinned black student was found to be 52% African and 48% European. Another student that considered themself “black” was found to be 58% European.[26]

 

Other flaws in race assumptions can be found in medicine. Race-based prescribing is used to prescribe medicines based on race. For example, a disease found more typically in socially identified African-Americans would lead to medicines being more readily prescribed to African-Americans. Though on average this is not a problem, many individuals identified as part of a particular race have been found to not fit criteria, with a white person being denied a drug that would work or a black person given a drug that won’t work.[27] Lewis clarifies this issue, “Basing medical decisions solely on race or ethnic group can lead to errors, such as failing to offer a drug that may be helpful to an individual who belongs to a group in which that drug does not usually work.”[28]

 

As a multitude of scientific research accumulates, it is leading to the unanimous conclusion in multiple scientific disciplines that “race” has no scientific validity.[29] Dr. Jurgen K. Naggert, a geneticist at the Jackson Laboratory says, “These big groups that we characterize as races are too heterogeneous to lump together in a scientific way. If you’re doing a DNA study to look for markers for a particular disease, you can’t use ‘Caucasians’ as a group. They’re too diverse. No journal would accept it.”[30] Dr. Eric S. Lander, a genome expert at the Whitehead Institute believes, “There’s no scientific evidence to support substantial differences between groups and the tremendous burden of proof goes to anyone who wants to assert those differences.”[31] Lewis writes, “Skin color is one trait used to distinguish race. However, the definition of race based largely on skin color is more a social construct than a biological concept, for skin color is but one of thousands of traits who frequencies vary in different populations.”[32] Dr. J. Craig Venter head of Celera Genomics Corporation writes, “Race is a social concept, not a scientific one.”[33]

 

Race is essentially determined via local meaning systems, rules, demographics, relationships, and structures.[34] All of which are facets of society, and thus race is a social determinant, not a genetic one. There is a reason why anthropology textbooks from the 1970s and onward are using the term “race” less and less.[35]

 

An article published in the Journal of Counseling and Development by Assistant Professor Susan Chavez Cameron from the University of New Mexico Albuquerque and Assistant Professor Susan Macias Wycoff from California State University Fullerton, argued that the term “race” is so meaningless it should be discarded. They write, “Originally based on a system of folk taxonomies, the term race has been used to group people by physical appearance, often with disruptive and harmful social consequences. Given that many national and international scientific groups have diminished their use of the term race in the classification of people, it is time for the mental health professionals to seriously discuss the role and assess the usefulness of the terms race… In lack of support to retain the term race as a scientific concept, and given the development of a no race position by anthropologists and geneticists, it is time for the mental health profession to become more active in addressing the use of this term.”[36]

 

Thus it can be concluded that the term “race” is a social construct, not a scientific construct. If it has no scientific value, than it can be argued that its social value is likewise worthless and, if anything, detrimental. These conclusions can hence be easily reconciled with the Biblical account of mankind being of “one blood” without the compromise of scripture. Yet, we could agree that there have been many instances of self proclaimed Christians being racist. How could this be?

 

 

Racist Christians

 

All racist Christians have one thing in common: compromise. It is the same problem found with many Christians whose actions contradict what is taught in the Bible. Many Christians from the 17th century and onward that adopted the revolutionary evolution theory, despite it contradicting biblical teaching, felt justified in their exploitation of other people due to their race. Compromising on Biblical verses that speak of all people being of one blood from the descendants of Adam and Eve leads to this possibility as well.

 

Case in point; the term “Caucasian” came from self-proclaimed Christians that rationalized that if man was created in the image of God, that undoubtedly the white man was this original creation. This decision came from the very unscientific and subjective notion of aesthetic beauty. White men declared that white people were more beautiful than the other “races” and thus God’s original creation of mankind were white. Based off that notion it was determined (again by unscientific subjectivity) that the most beautiful white people were from the country of Georgia. From there it was determined that white people would be called Caucasian, named after the Caucasas mountain range in Georgia where it is believed white humans evolved.[37] The entire rational behind the origin of he term Caucasian violates many Biblical tenants. Yet it was self-proclaimed Christians that developed and propagated it.

 

Many self-proclaimed Christians with biases will bend or ignore Biblical principals to facilitate their prejudices and secure their status in society. As Carol M. Swain, Ph.D., a professor of political science and law at VanderbuiltUniversity, writes, “… our Creator God designed unique men and women with different shapes, colors, talents, and ability groupings. In spite of God’s vast diversity in creation, however, people congregate based on their similarities. This natural inclination produces problems in society when one group possesses superior resources to other groups and uses those resources as a means of suppression. Through out history, humanity has used skin color to create rankings of social superiority, with lighter-skinned people typically designated as superior to those with darker skin. Discrimination based on skin color has been a hallmark of history.”[38]

 

Believing that there are superior races or a particular race that is superior to all others is known as ethnocentrism. And though many self proclaimed Christians have adhered to such a mindset, there is no Biblical scripture that commends this behavior. Outside of the verses noted earlier, further verses found in Deuteronomy 10:17 and Acts10:34declare that God has no partiality, and therefore does not favor a particular “race.” Revelation 5:9 asserts that Jesus laid down his life for people of all nations and languages. In conclusion, if truly believe in the revelation of Christ as recorded in the Holy Bible, you have no wiggle room what so ever to maintain that there are different races of humans. You must accept that we are all from the same family and are all children of God.

 

 

Racism Today

 

Today racism is alive and well. And though science has clearly demonstrated race is a social construct and is arguably irrelevant, many declare that proponents of evolution still cling to very racist notions, as can be noted in Professor J. Philippe Rushton’s book Race, Evolution and Behavior which claims that there are at least three races in existence.[39] Swain writes, “Hard-core racists argue for the existence of at least three races: Asians, blacks, and Caucasians, as well as a hierarchy of intelligence within the races; however, scientific evidence supports the existence of one human race.”[40]

 

Some people still argue that depictions of human evolution in textbooks today still harbor racist miscinceptions. Such as this picture which shows man evolving lighter skin and hair.

More and more scientists are getting on board with establishing a race-less future. Freeman declares, “Science got us into this problem in the first place, with its measurements of skulls and its emphasis on racial differences and racial classifications. Scientists should now get us out of it.”[41] The late Frederick Soddy, a radiochemist and economist likewise recognizes science’s role in social dilemmas, “[The blame for the future ‘plight of civilization] must rest on scientific men, equally with others, for being incapable of accepting the responsibility for the profound social upheavals which their own work primarily has brought about in human relationships.”[42] With time, hopefully the notion of “races” will be looked back on by all professionals in all fields as a sad time in our history, and with its demise, hopefully the demise of racism. It is a long shot, but one can dream. Ultimately science is confirming what the Bible has stated all along; there are not many races of man, but one race of man.

 

Associate Professor of Sociology at Emory University Atlanta Amanda Lewis writes, “Although the idea that race is a social construct is widely accepted, the reality of race in daily life has received too little attention.”[43]

 

So what is the moral of the story? We should abandon the concept of race and instead respectfully distinguish people by their ethnicity and culture. This is not to say we resort to a color-blind mentality, for that can be equally destructive leading to misconceptions of the nature of racism today as well as only benefiting those who are hardly (if at all) affected by a racism mostly encountered in minority populations.[44] We can’t ignore that racism is still out there, and we can’t assume it has been beaten. The change starts with every one of us as an individual. We each have a choice to make in how we deal with people different than us. Hopefully, realization that they’re not much different from you at all is enough to change how we identify and react to others.

 

I think it is fitting to end with a quote from concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl, who writes of their being more than one race, “There are two races of men in the world, but only these two- the ‘race’ of the decent man and the ‘race’ of the indecent man. Both are found every-where; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent and indecent people. In this sense, no group is a ‘pure race.’”[45]


[1] Ashley-Montague, F.M. (1942) Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, New York,NY: Columbia University Press.

[2] Lewis, A.E., (2009) “Everyday Race-Making: Navigating Racial Boundaries in Schools,” as written in Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 3rd Ed., Edited by Anderson, M. L., Logio, K. A., & Taylor, H. F.,  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, pp. 300.

[3] Cameron, S.C. & Wycoff, S.M., (1998) “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond a False Paradigm,” Journal of Counseling and Development, 76: pp. 279. This article can be accessed here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~sarnold7/edtech/articles/race.pdf

[4] Martinez, E., (2009) “Seeing More Than Black and White,” as written in Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 3rd Ed., Edited by Anderson, M. L., Logio, K. A., & Taylor, H. F.,  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, pp. 288.

[5] Gould, S.J., (1996) The Mismeasure of Man, New York,NY: Norton.

[6] Ham, K (2006) “Are There Really Different Races?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, Green Forest,AL: Master Books, pp. 220.

[7] Gould, S.J., (1977) Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Cambridge,MA: Belknap-Harvard Press, pp. 127-128.

[8] “All in the mind”, ABC Radio National,21 December 2008, <www.abc.net.au/rn/allinthemind/stories/2008/2435743.htm#transcript>.

[9] Haeckel, E., (1876) The History of Creation, pp. 363-364.

[10] (Feb 1924) “Missing Links with Mankind in Early Dawn of History,” New York Tribune, pp. 11.

[11] Bergman, J., (1993) “Ota Benga: the man who was put on display at the zoo!” Creation 16(1): pp.48-50.

[12] Keane, A.H.J., (1907) “Anthropological Curiosities; the Pygmies of the World,” Scientific American, 64:99, pp. 107-108.

[13] Cameron, S.C. &Wycoff, S.M., (1998) “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond a False Paradigm,” Journal of Counseling and Development, 76: pp. 277. This article can be accessed here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~sarnold7/edtech/articles/race.pdf

[14] Gould, S.J., (1996) The Mismeasure of Man, New York,NY: Norton.

[15] Ham, K (2006) “Are There Really Different Races?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, Green Forest,AL: Master Books, pp. 222.

[16] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[17] Schoofs, M., “The Myth of Race: What DNA Says About Human Ancestry- and Bigotry,” Village Voice, part 3.

[18] Gutin, J.C., (November 1994) “End of the Rainbow,” Discover, pp. 72-73.

[19] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[20] Cavalli-Sforza, L.L., Menozzi, P., & Piazza, A., (1994) The History and Geography of Human Genes, Princeton,NJ:PrincetonUniversity Press.

[21] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[22] Ham, K (2006) “Are There Really Different Races?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, Green Forest,AL: Master Books, pp. 227.

[23] Ham, K (2006) “Are There Really Different Races?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, Green Forest,AL: Master Books, pp. 227-228.

[24] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed.,New York,NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 135.

[25] Ham, K (2006) “Are There Really Different Races?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 1, Green Forest,AL: Master Books, pp. 229.

[26] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed.,New York,NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 135.

[27] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed.,New York,NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 136.

[28] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed.,New York,NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 136.

[29] Cameron, S.C. &Wycoff, S.M., (1998) “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond a False Paradigm,” Journal of Counseling and Development, 76: pp. 279. This article can be accessed here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~sarnold7/edtech/articles/race.pdf

[30] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[31] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[32] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed.,New York,NY: McGraw Hill, pp. 135.

[33] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[34] Lewis, A.E., (2009) “Everyday Race-Making: Navigating Racial Boundaries in Schools,” as written in Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 3rd Ed., Edited by Anderson, M. L., Logio, K. A., & Taylor, H. F.,  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, pp. 300.

[35] Littlefield, A., Liberman, L., & Reynolds, L.T., (1982) “Redefining Race: The Potential Demise of the Concept in Physical Anthropology,” Current Anthropology, 23, pp. 641-647

[36] Cameron, S.C. &Wycoff, S.M., (1998) “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond a False Paradigm,” Journal of Counseling and Development, 76: pp. 277. This article can be accessed here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~sarnold7/edtech/articles/race.pdf

[37] Cameron, S.C. &Wycoff, S.M., (1998) “The Destructive Nature of the Term Race: Growing Beyond a False Paradigm,” Journal of Counseling and Development, 76: pp. 280. This article can be accessed here: http://www.personal.kent.edu/~sarnold7/edtech/articles/race.pdf

[38] Swain, C.M., (2011) Be The People, Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., pp. 175.

[39] Race, Evolution and Behavior can be accessed here: www.­harbornet.­com/­folks/­theedrich/­JP_Rushton/­Race.­htm

[40] Swain, C.M., (2011) Be The People, Nashville,TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., pp. 175.

[41] Angier, N., (August 2000) “Do Races Differ? Not Really, Genes Show,” http://www.nytimes.com

[42] As quoted in Thaddeus Trenn’s “The Central Role of Energy in Soddy’s Holistic and Critical Approach to Nuclear Science, Economics, and Social Responsibility,” British Journal for the History of Science (1979), 42, pp. 261.

[43] Lewis, A.E., (2009) “Everyday Race-Making: Navigating Racial Boundaries in Schools,” as written in Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 3rd Ed., Edited by Anderson, M. L., Logio, K. A., & Taylor, H. F.,  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, pp. 301.

[44] Gallagher, C.A., (2009) “Color-Blind Privilege: The Social and Political Functions of Erasing the Color Line in Post Race America,” as written in Understanding Society: An Introductory Reader, 3rd Ed., Edited by Anderson, M. L., Logio, K. A., & Taylor, H. F.,  Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, pp. 267-273.

[45] Frankl, V.E., (1959) Man’s Search for Meaning, Boston,MA: Beacon, pp. 86.

This is a re-post from: https://matthew2262.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

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To illustrate what theories other than Darwinian evolution do when they’re worn out and ready to die, our reader John in Kansas City, MO, had this comment on Casey’s article “For Intelligent-Design Advocates, Lessons from the Debate over Continental Drift“:

I graduated with a degree in Geology in 1962. My historical geology book that had a 1960 copyright explains that there are two things all scientists agree upon, one is evolutionary theory and the other is geosynclinal theory. The latter is the idea that mountains emerge from offshore troughs that accumulate tons of sediments and then snap like a rubber band to throw up giant mountain chains. I recall visiting the Rocky Mountains on a geology summer camp in Wyoming in 1962 and observing a part of the Lewis Overthrust, which seemed quite inconsistent with that theory.Ten years later the entire paradigm changed because of the overwhelming evidence supporting plate tectonics.

Why hasn’t the same kind of evidence thrown out random mutation and natural selection? The answer is that evolution deals with a religious issue — where do we come from and what is the nature of life, while the cause of physical systems like mountains does not. It makes no religious difference whether mountains come from shifting plates or geosynclines. It does make a religious difference if life comes from mind rather than matter.

Here is the quote from the book. I still have it on my shelf:

The geosynclinal theory is one of the great unifying principles of geology. In many ways its role in geology is similar to that of evolution that serves to integrate the many branches of biological sciences. The geosynclinal theory is of fundamental importance to sedimentation, petrology, geomorphology, ore deposits, structural geology, geophysics, and practically all the minor branches of geological science. Just as the doctrine of organic evolution is universally accepted among thinking biologists, so also the geosynclinal origin of the major mountain ranges is an established principle in geology.[Thomas Clark and Colin Stearn, The Geological Evolution of North America: A Regional Approach to Historical Geology, p.43 (Ronald Press, 1960)]

Theories come, theories go. Except when, having exceeded their natural lifespan, they cling to a false life that keeps them out of the grave and moving about but still desiccated, cadaverous and weary, a kind of undead version of a scientific idea. If it were a character in horror and fantasy literature, Darwinian evolutionary theory would be called a lich.

The very first life form on earth. What was it? What did it look like? When did it appear? How did it come to be? These are all very good questions. Questions which are usually answered with more imagination than actual science since we weren’t there to observe of course. But the biggest question has to be the “how.” It is the “how,” that plagues the scientist’s mind when it comes to the first life.

There are only two means by which the first life could have appeared: natural origins or supernatural origins. Natural origins means the life came from non-living chemicals. Supernatural origins means the life came from an Intelligent Designer, a Creator God. Now immediately science throws out supernatural origins because it is of course not natural, and therefore, in the minds of most scientists, not science. Yet science itself cannot seem to yield any satisfying answers to the origin of life on earth. If life came from non-life, this brings with it a wide variety of problems and dead ends.

The Environment Problem

As much as we understand this planet to be hospitable for life, it is only hospitable for life fitted to live on it. For example, oxygen and water are required for life to exist, but are also detrimental to the internal components of an organism.

Let us take oxygen for example: It is a poisonous gas that oxidizes organic material.[1] The only way organisms can tolerate it is because they are already capable of tolerating it, with membranes that protect oxygen from damaging internal components of the cell. Therefore there is no way the organisms could have evolved from non-living material unless protective membranes were already present to protect the vulnerable internal organelles from oxidization. What are the odds that the first life form ever just so happened to have a protective membrane already in place?

Some evolutionists argue that this is not a problem because it assumes oxygen was not present in the early atmosphere of earth, and therefore not a threat. But the evidence does not support this claim. Even earth’s oldest rocks contain evidence of formation in an oxygen rich atmosphere.[2] Atmospheric physicists believe the earth has been fully oxidized for at least 4 billion years.[3] A fairly recent article published on crystals dated to 4.4 billion years ago show heavy evidence of oxidation.[4] Additionally, oxygen is needed for life as protection from harmful UV rays which we have via from the ozone layer, which is made out of oxygen![5] If there was no oxygen UV rays would eradicate all early life forms. Biochemist and molecular biologist Michael Denton writes, “What we have is sort of a ‘Catch 22’ situation. If we have oxygen we have no organic compounds, but if we don’t have oxygen we have none either.”[6]

To get around this concern of oxidization, scientists propose life formulated in the oceans and therefore was not subjected to oxygen initially. But just as with oxygen, water is hazardous to life as well. Organic molecules would be destroyed through the process of hydrolysis (also called “water splitting”) in which water bonds between two molecules causing them to split apart.[7] Any amino acid trying to form a protein would have its bond broken in a short matter of time. The US National Academy of Sciences confirms, “In water, the assembly of nucleosides from component sugars and nucleobases, the assembly of nucleotides from nucleosides and phosphate, and the assembly of oligonucleotides from nucleotides are all thermodynamically uphill in water. Two amino acids do not spontaneously join in water. Rather, the opposite reaction is thermodynamically favored at any plausible concentrations: polypeptide chains spontaneously hydrolyze in water, yielding their constituent amino acids.”[8] Physicist Richard Morris concurs, “… water tends to break chains of amino acids. If any proteins had formed in the ocean 3.5 billion years ago, they would have quickly disintegrated.”[9] Thus, the first life form would have needed a protective membrane already in place to protect it from oxygen and water. Yet, where did this membrane come from?

Additionally, the cytoplasm of living cells contain essential minerals of potassium, zinc, manganese and phosphate ions. If cells manifested naturally, these minerals would need to be present nearby. But marine environments do not have widespread concentrations of these minerals.[10] This has lead researchers to propose that life originated not in oceans, and not in locations exposed to oxygen, but instead in geothermal pools, geysers and mudpools, much like the primordial soup Darwin proposed. Yet all these geothermal features have one thing in common: They are incredibly acidic.[11] They also tend to be very hot, which would destroy many vital amino acids.[12] How did the cell develop protection from this acidity and from this heat? Without such protection initially it could have never come together.

Some speculate that natural selection of non-living chemicals provided such protective features. This is, however, a common error some scientists make in this arena when they propose natural selection occurred for these protective systems to be in place. As Chemist Dr. Jonathan Sarfati points out, “…when it comes to the origin of first life, natural selection cannot be invoked, because natural selection is differential reproduction. That is, if it worked at all, it could only work on a living organism that could produce offspring. By its very definition, it could not work on non-living chemicals. Therefore, chance alone must produce the precise sequences needed, so these simulations do not apply.”[13]

A significant problem with proposing life arose spontaneously via natural means is that in order to do so, the components of the cell would have to be naturally nearby. In other words, the cell’s chemical makeup would have to be harmonious with the environment’s chemical make up. UniversityCollegeof Londonbiochemist Nick Lanepoints out the problem with this, “To suggest that the ionic composition of primordial cells should reflect the composition of the oceans is to suggest that cells are in equilibrium with their medium, which is close to saying that they are not alive. Cells require dynamic disequilibrium — that is what being alive is all about.”[14] This is a tough fact to accept, but undoubtedly true. How could the first life form have naturally manifested via chemical means with a chemical make up so different and unique from the environment it is within?

The Homochirality Problem

Moving forward brings forth a new set of problems when amino acids are discussed. Often amino acids are discovered in locations where it is suggested they are naturally produced (like being found in meteorites). When this happens there is usually a hype of excitement over uncovering the source of the origin of life via natural means. But simply having amino acids around doesn’t solve the origin of life problem. There is an issue of handedness with amino acids. Out of the twenty amino acids used for life, the atoms that build them formulate two different shapes; right handed and left-handed amino acids. Just like a human hand, they’re slightly different. Your thumb is on the left side on one hand, but on the right side on the other. Amino acids are likewise mirror images of each other and are therefore called chiral.

But this creates a problem. Just like hands clasping together, right and left handed amino acids want to bond, canceling each other out. Yet, the amino acids found in proteins are 100% left handed, where as right handed amino acids are never found in proteins![15] Research indicates that right handed amino acids could never form a functioning protein. The fact that only left handed amino acids can create life is called homochirality. Yet any natural process of creating amino acids would create and equal amount of both left handed and right handed amino acids called racemates.[16]

 

One of the most influential chemist/biochemists of the 20th century, Linus Pauling, writes, “This is a very puzzling fact… All the proteins that have been investigated, obtained from animals and from plants from higher organisms and from very simple  organisms- bacteria, molds, even viruses- are found to have been made of L-amino acids.”[17] This is puzzling of course because what natural process only produces one type of amino acid, and not the other amino acid detrimental to life? The late Robert Shapiro, professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University writes, “The reason for this choice [only L-amino acids] is again a mystery, and a subject of continued dispute.”[18] Biochemist and head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Director of Clinical Research at the Singapore General Hospital, Dr. Aw Swee-Eng, is more direct on the subject, “The logical conclusion from these considerations is a simple and parsimonious one, that homochirality and life came together. But evolutionary lore forbids such a notion. It claims to explain how life began, but on the profound issue of life’s “handedness” there is no selective mechanism that it can plausibly endorse.”[19]

The Concept of Information

One factor that is sometimes left out in origin of life talks, that is in my opinion, critical, is the concept of information. All living organisms contain within their DNA information, and not just a little, but a lot! Former physics professor and director of information processing at the Instituteof Physicsand Technology in Braunschweig Germany, Dr. Werner Gitt, writes, “The highest known (statistical) information density is obtained in living cells, exceeding by far the best achievements of highly integrated storage densities in computer systems.”[20] This information leads to highly efficient bio-machinery in our cells that complete a vast array of functions. Every biological function that occurs can be traced back to proteins from genes from reading and transcribing RNA that receives the instructions from the information stored in DNA. It doesn’t simply just happen. It is an immensely complex, sophisticated and detailed process occurring non-stop and very rapidly. In fact, the average cell produces a protein through these processes every four minutes.[21]

Any theory or hypothesis to how life originated naturally must take the source of this information into account. Yet, none can be found. Gitt writes, “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.”[22] Biologist Dr. Raymond Bohlin writes, “DNA is information code… The overwhelming conclusion is that information does not and cannot arise spontaneously by mechanistic processes. Intelligence is a necessity in the origin of any informational code, including the genetic code, no matter how much time is given.”[23] Philosopher of Science and founder of the Discovery Institute, Dr. Stephen Meyer, writes, “Our uniform experience affirms that specified information-whether inscribed hieroglyphics, written in a book, encoded in a radio signal, or produced in a simulation experiment-always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind and not a strictly material process.”[24]

Thus, we are left with no natural method or process by which non-living chemicals can produce the informational code found in every life form that as ever existed. Biologist, Chemist and Physiologist Dr. Gary Parker writes, “Imagine that you have just finished reading a fabulous novel. Wanting to read another book like it, you exclaim to a friend, ‘Wow! That was quite a book. I wonder where I can get a bottle of that ink?’ Of course not! You wouldn’t give the ink and paper credit for writing the book. You’d praise the author, and look for another book by the same writer. By some twist of logic, though, many who read the fabulous DNA script want to give credit to the ‘ink (DNA base code) and paper (proteins)’ for composing the code.”[25]

Not Enough Time

With all things considered, many scientists try to jettison out the first life dilemma with the “time” argument. The argument being that given enough time anything can happen! Even the impossible…

The late Nobel prize winning scientist George Wald once wrote, “However improbable we regard this event [evolution], or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once… Time is in fact the hero of the plot… Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles.”[26]

Now let us logically think about this. Given enough time, anything is possible? First, I feel pressed to point out that there is something irrational in saying that because something is possible, it will occur. Or anything that can happen, will happen. It is possible that in flipping a coin every minute for fifty years you will get heads every time and never tails… but that doesn’t mean it will happen if you tried. Regardless, the notion that given enough time anything can happen is hardly scientific in my opinion, because it flies in the face of observational science. For example, the Law of Biogenesis which firmly points out that life has only been observed coming from existing life, never from non-life. There is also cell theory, which states that cells arise from pre-existing cells. Regardless of the amount of time tacked onto the issue, the law cannot change, and the dimension of time has no characteristic capable of changing this law.

Let us take for example a chair placed in a room. The chair remains in the room for one hundred years, then a thousand years, and eventually billions of years. At any point would that chair become organic or “living” in anyway? Of course not. It would remain just a chair forever. Why? Because there is nothing inherent in non-living molecules that drive them to arrange themselves into living structures. If there were, they’d be doing so to this day at an observable rate. Such is not the case. Life comes from life, and non-life remains non-life everyday.

Another flaw in this argument is the amount of time in question. Such statements like Wald’s seem to have at least a small degree of plausibility in perhaps an infinite time scenario, but time is not infinite. It definitely had a starting point. A starting point which conventional scientists place at 12 to 14 billion years ago. That is a major constraint on how long time is allowed to work its magic. Cosmologist Dr. Hugh Ross writes, “When it comes to the origin of life, many biologists (and others) have typically assumed that plenty of time is available for natural processes to perform the necessary assembly. But discoveries about the universe and the solar system have shattered that assumption. What we see now is that life must have originated on earth quickly.”[27]

This constraint worsens though because conventional geology and biology places the first life forming 3.5 billion years ago, and the earth is only supposedly 4.5 billion years old. So from a naturalist’s or uniformitarian’s point of view there was a billion years from the time earth was formed to the first fossil evidence of life, from which life is said to have manifested. A billion years is a significant time constraint.

Yet, the time constraint worsens further. From a conventional scientist’s perspective adhering to the nebular hypothesis of sun and planet formation, time is further restricted. The first millions of years would have been one of intense meteorite bombardment of earth as the solar system was forming. These intense meteorite bombardments would have eradicated any chance of life forming on earth. By the time these impacts are calculated to have ceased and the time of the first life forms appearing in the fossil record we’re left with a 10 million year gap.[28] That is an enormous time constraint. Additionally, some scientists propose this time frame was shorter because of the “faint sun paradox.” Namely, that the sun was 20 to 30% less luminous when it first existed, creating a very cold inhospitable world.[29] This makes it difficult to apply Ward’s philosophy of an abundance of time making the impossible possible because there is, for lack of a better phrase, hardly any time at all…

In fact, Nobel Prize winning cytologist and biochemist Christian de Duve states, “It is now generally agreed that if life arose spontaneously by natural processes—a necessary assumption if we wish to remain within the realm of science—it must have arisen fairly quickly, more in a matter of millennia or centuries, perhaps even less.”[30] So much for having all the time in the world.

Lastly, I do feel it is necessary to point out the entropy dilemma when it comes to time. The more time that elapses the higher the entropy, so if anything more time doesn’t make anything possible, but in fact, decreases the potential of anything to happen. As biochemist Dr. Royal Truman writes, “The claim that, with time, anything is possible, including the creation and perpetuation of life, is not based on any scientific principle. Rather, the opposite is true: complex and improbable structures of any kind tend to disintegrate over time.”[31] Sarfati agrees, “Long time periods do not help the evolutionary theory if biochemicals are destroyed faster than they are formed.”[32]

Panspermia; DNA astronauts

The difficulty with life spontaneously arising via chemical means is such a problematic concept that it lead Nobel Prize winner and DNA founder Francis Crick to instead postulate that life originated someplace else and traveled to earth via meteorite or space craft.[33] He admits, correctly, that this does not solve the origin of life problem, but merely pushes it back to another location, but that is precisely the point. He proposes that another life bearing planet may have had a slightly different environment more hospitable for the natural chemical means for life to originate.[34] This theory relies on the hypothetical existence of other such life bearing planets to which there is no scientific evidence of, period.

There is additionally a whole host of other problems with Panspermia. How do living cells survive an arduously long space flight on a meteorite? Let us not forget how far away the nearest star is much less the nearest hypothetical life bearing planet. Think of how difficult it would be to create and engineer a capsule to keep living cells alive for thousands of years of space flight, yet a random natural meteorite is capable of doing the job? DNA would have succumb to radiation exposure over such a long period of time in space flight. How did the DNA withstand the lethal radiation? So, these same cells that defied death in thousands (if not millions) of years of freezing space exposed to lethal radiation then somehow survived a scorching hot entry into earth’s atmosphere to reproduce on earth’s surface? As chemist Russell Grigg puts it, “All in all, interstellar space travel for living organisms is sheer wishful thinking.”[35]

What about contamination? Many of the meteorites found on earth claimed to have evidence of microbial life could just have easily had been contaminated with microbial life after they landed. Contamination is the number one reason why all these claims have been rejected actually.

To get around these concerns, many scientists instead believe meteorites and comets didn’t have life per se, but had the building blocks of life on them. But this circles back around to the original reason why panspermia was imagined in the first place. The building blocks of life were already present on earth. Adding more to the mix via meteorites doesn’t in anyway increase the likelihood of life arising via chemical means anyways. Ross brings up another good point, “Though comets, meteorites partly composed of carbon, and interplanetary dust particles may carry some prebiotics, they carry far too few to make a difference. In fact, with every helpful molecule they bring, come several more that would get in the way- useless molecules that would substitute for the needed ones.”[36] Life developing from nonliving chemicals is hard enough to prove, but suggesting life was seeded by meteorites from hypothetical life elsewhere in the universe is flat out impossible to prove. Yet, likewise, impossible to disprove… and so many cling to this notion to avoid a supernatural cause.

From Bolts to Boeing 747s

Many scientists additionally fail to properly distinguish the building blocks of life and living organisms themselves. Parker writes, “The pyramids are made of stone, but studying the stone does not even begin to explain how the pyramids were built. Similarly, until evolutionists begin to explain the origin of the ‘orderly mechanism,’ they have not even begun to talk about the origin of life.”[37]Just as there is a huge void between the bolts and small parts of a 747 to them actually all being carefully assembled into a fully functioning 747, likewise, the simple building blocks of life are organized in an immensely complex way in even the most primitive of organisms.

Hoyle writes of this airplane analogy, “What are the chances that a tornado might blow through a junkyard containing all the parts of a 747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and leave it ready for take off? The possibilities are so small as to be negligible even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards t fill the whole universe!”[38] Botanist Alexander Williams states, “There is an unbridgeable abyss below the autopoietic hierarchy, between the dirty, mass-action chemistry of the natural environment and the perfect purity, the single-molecule precision, the structural specificity, and the inversely causal integration, regulation, repair, maintenance and differential reproduction of life.”[39]

According to molecular biophysicist Harold Morowitz If you were to take a living cell, break every chemical bond within it so that all you are left with is the raw molecular ingredients, the odds of them all reassembling back into a cell (under ideal natural conditions) is one chance in 10100,000,000,000.[40] Additionally, Morowitz assumed all amino acids were bioactive when calculating these odds.[41] But only twenty different types of amino acids are bioactive, and of those, only left handed ones can be used for life. This further worsens the odds… And with odds like that, time is completely irrelevant because no amount of time could surpass before such an impossible miracle occurred naturally.

Non-theists counter argue that life was not necessarily as complex in the beginning as it is today. Therefore, the odds of a less complex form of life spontaneously assembling are much more probable. The problem with this counter argument is that the earth 3.5 billion years ago was supposedly hardly different at all (environment and atmosphere-wise) than earth today. Meaning the bare necessities required for life to exist on earth today were the same in the past, which is that of great complexity. Additionally minimum complexity presents its own problems in that minimally complex organisms require other larger organisms to survive and are not capable of surviving individually. Thus the first life and its subsequent offspring would have had to have been able to survive independently which requires sophisticated biological features.

Astronomer Michael Hart calculated the odds of DNA spontaneously generating with 100 specific genes (what he declared to be the minimum possible for life) in the most unrealistic yet optimistic conditions over the course of ten billion years. The odds? One in ten to the negative three thousandth power (10-3,000).[42] The time it would take for 200,000 amino acids to come together by chance to create one human cell would be 293.5 times the estimated age of earth of 4.6 billion years.[43] The Director of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware, Dermott Mullan, calculates that the odds of RNA assembling into a primitive cell over the course of an optimistic 1 billion years is one in 1079.[44] Material scientist Dr. Walter Bradley and Chemist Dr. Charles Thaxton calculated that the probability of amino acids forming just one protein is 4.9 x 10-191.[45] The odds of amino acids coincidentally being in the precise order and folds required to make the all the enzymes required for life is 10-650.[46] These are all horrible odds for a natural origin of life. Then consider that these statistics are independent of each other; the DNA would have to spontaneously generate, amino acids randomly together to form proteins in a cell, RNA assembling into a cell, etc. It is hard to accept with these odds, that anything that can happen did happen.

The Reproduction Puzzle

The late philosopher Anthony Flew, an ex-atheist, spoke of many of the philosophical troubles he had with the natural origins for life. One of which that was of great concern was reproduction. Life evolving from non-life is already such a statistical impossibility, but if it did happen, this first life would have to be able to reproduce and replicate itself. Information encoded DNA capable of driving life derived from non-living chemicals is already an absurd concept, but to contain information for replication and overall reproduction is astounding. This is from a philosophical standpoint, perplexing. It is too perfect and too coincidental that the very first life, already an impossibility, just so happened to also be able to duplicate itself. Such ability has “design” written all over it, not “chance.”

Error Protection

Even the most primitive cells today have multiple checkpoints in place to protect against errors. Cells have DNA checkpoints, where cell function momentarily pauses for special proteins to repair damaged DNA. There is an apoptosis checkpoint right before mitosis begins where specialized proteins called survivins run a “diagnostics” to determine whether the cell will proceed with mitosis or die through apoptosis. A spindle assembly checkpoint ensures chromosomes are properly bound together. Telomeres burn like fuses every time a cell divides. Once a telomere becomes too short, the cell stops dividing, usually maxing out at fifty divides.[47]  This feature controls cell division. Failure for these mentioned checkpoints to operate leads to a whole host of diseases, most notably cancers.[48]

So how did the first cell protect against errors when it reproduced? Such a capability could not have evolved, because such a capability would have been needed right from the very beginning. Without such a feature, all subsequent life would contain error-prone genetics and would not be able to function or reproduce. Mullan, points out, “A cell formed under these conditions [naturally] would truly be subject to serious uncertainties not only during day to day existence but especially during replication. The cell could hardly be considered robust.”[49] In order to maintain healthy function and reproduction, the first cell would have already needed these specialized checkpoints to guard against errors. The cells could not afford to wait thousands or millions of years for them to evolve. If they did, we wouldn’t be here.

Simultaneous Presence

In order to have fully functioning life at even the most basic kind, functioning RNA, DNA and proteins must be present. Remove any one of these from the picture and life can’t function. For example, transcription, translation and DNA replication all require systems already in place to occur. These functions could not simply have evolved because life requires them in place to begin with. As Ross states, “Thus, for life to originate mechanically, all three kinds of molecules [DNA, RNA, and proteins] would need to emerge spontaneously and simultaneously from organic compounds. Even the most optimistic of researchers agree that the chance appearance of these incredibly complex molecules at exactly the same time and place was beyond the realm of natural possibility.”[50]

Though biologists point out that some RNA has been found to act as enzymes or catalysts to perform functions that DNA or a protein would normally do, this has lead many scientists to propose that all one needs is the spontaneous generation of RNA, and it would take care of the rest. Problems with this theory is that the RNA studied to reveal these abilities was very limited, and could not account for the vast functioning seen in DNA and proteins overall. Furthermore, in order for RNA to function this way it would have to contain just as much information as the DNA and protein itself, so the issue of complexity in even the earliest life isn’t solved with RNA either. Molecular Biologist and professor at the Scripps Research Institute, Dr. Gerald F. Joyce writes, “The most reasonable interpretation is that life did not start with RNA … The transition to an RNA world, like the origins of life in general, is fraught with uncertainty and is plagued by a lack of relevant experimental data. Researchers into the origins of life have grown accustomed to the level of frustration in these problems …”[51]

Conclusion

Biologist Jonathan Wells just about sums it up, “So we remain profoundly ignorant of how life originated.”[52] Earth Scientist Casey Luskin writes, “It’s time for a little reality check here: origin-of-life theorists need to explain how a myriad of complex proteins and features arose and self-assembled into a self-replicating life-form by unguided processes, but they are still scraping for mechanisms to explain how an inert primordial soup of organic molecules could have arisen in the first place.”[53] Hoyle writes, “If there were some deep principle that drove organic systems towards living systems, the operation of the principle should easily be demonstratable in a test tube in half a morning. Needless to say, no such demonstration has ever been given. Nothing happens when organic materials are subjected to the usual prescription of showers of electrical sparks or drenched in ultraviolet light, except the eventual production of a tarry sludge,” and “As biochemists discover more and more about the awesome complexity of live, it is apparent that its chances of originating by accident are so minute that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot have arisen by chance.”[54] Physicist and Information Theorist Dr. Hubet Yockey writes, “The origin of life by chance in a primeval soup is impossible in probability in the same way that a perpetual machine is in probability. The extremely small probabilities calculated… are not discouraging to true believers . . . [however] A practical person must conclude that life didn’t happen by chance.”[55]

Yockey then goes further to add, “The history of science shows that a paradigm, once it has achieved the status of acceptance (and is incorporated in textbooks) and regardless of its failures, is declared invalid only when a new paradigm is available to replace it. Nevertheless, in order to make progress in science, it is necessary to clear the decks, so to speak, of failed paradigms. This must be done even if this leaves the decks entirely clear and no paradigms survive. It is a characteristic of the true believer in religion, philosophy and ideology that he must have a set of beliefs, come what may… Belief in a primeval soup on the grounds that no other paradigm is available is an example of the logical fallacy of the false alternative. In science it is a virtue to acknowledge ignorance. This has been universally the case in the history of science… There is no reason that this should be different in the research on the origin of life.”[56] Biochemist and head of the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Director of Clinical Research at the Singapore General Hospital, Dr. Aw Swee-Eng, concludes, “The available evidence from the field and the laboratory is not amicable to the theory that life began with the accidental assembly of a self-replicating molecule.”[57]

As it has been clearly demonstrated, there are a wide variety of blockades standing in the way of a natural origins answer for the first life, and no definitive solution has been reached nor can be confidently expected to be reached in the future. Yet, the other option, supernatural origins, is not subject to such obstacles. In fact, every problem a natural origin faces can be satisfactorily answered via supernatural origins. Though many scientists will not appeal to super natural intervention on the grounds that it is not science, and merely a “cut and run” for those who are too impatient to wait for future researchers to provide an adequate natural origins argument.

In response to that notion, Denton answers, “The almost irresistible force of the analogy has completely undermined the complacent assumption, prevalent in biological circles over most of the past century, that the design hypothesis can be excluded on the grounds that the notion is fundamentally a metaphysical a priori concept and therefore scientifically unsound. On the contrary, the inference to design is a purely a posteriori induction based on a ruthlessly consistent application of the logic of analogy. The conclusion may have religious implications, but it does not depend on religious presuppositions.”[58] Therefore, adhering to supernatural cause through rational deduction with proper observational science as support cannot be considered unscientific. Additionally, such a conclusion should not be considered a “cut and run” if the problems faced by natural origins can never be solved via natural means. What discovery (or discoveries) could solve the information, reproduction, environment, homochirality problems?

Physicist H. S. Lipson writes, “If living matter is not, then, caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces, and radiation [i.e., time, chance, and chemistry], how has it come into being? I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation.”[59] Parker writes, “In a novel, the ink and paper are merely the means the author uses to express his or her thoughts. In the genetic code, the DNA bases and proteins are merely the means God uses to express His thoughts. The real credit for the message in a novel goes to the author, not the ink and paper, and the real credit for the genetic message in DNA goes to the Author of Life, the Creator…”[60] Medical pathologist David Demick, M.D., concludes, “Thousands of experiments, and all of the recently gained knowledge of molecular biology and genetics, have only served to strengthen the most fundamental law of biology, laid down by Virchow over a century ago: ‘omni cellules e cellules’ (all cells come from other cells), also known as the Law of Biogenesis. Life only comes from life. This was the law established by the Author of Life, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—Jesus Christ.”[61] Griggs concludes, “Life is bristling with machinery, codes and programs, which are not an inherent property of the material substrate (the information for their construction having been passed on during reproduction). No observation has ever shown such information-bearing structures arising spontaneously. The obvious inference from science, as well as the obvious implications of Scripture, is that the original creation of living things involved the very opposite of chance, namely, the imposition of external intelligence on to matter by an original Designer or Creator.”[62]

So we’re left with a choice. Supernatural or natural? One answers all these problems, the other does not. You can hold out for a natural answer if you wish, but I would rather side with a sure thing. Logically, an Intelligent Designer, a God, is in my opinion, the only rational explanation behind the first life.


[1] Ward, P. & Brownlee, D., (2000) Rare Earth, Copernicus:New York,NY, pp. 245.

[2] Clemmey, H. & Badham, N., (1982) “Oxygen in the Atmosphere: An Evaluation of the Geological Evidence,” Geology, 10:141.

[3] Thaxton, C.B., Bradley, W.L., & Olsen, R.L., (1984) The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library:New York,NY, pp. 69-98.

[4] Trail, D., Watson, B.E., & Tailby, N.D., (December 2011) “The Oxidation State of Hadean Magmas and Implications for Earth’s Early Atmosphere,” Nature, 480: pp. 79-82.

[5] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 66.

[6] Denton, M., (1985) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Alder & Alder:Bethesda,MD, pp. 261.

[7] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 66.

[8] As quoted in Casey Luskin’s “More News Sources Admit the ‘Mystery’ of Life’s Origin,” (February 2012) http://www.evolutionnews.org

[9] Morris, R., (2002) The Big Questions, Times Books/Henry Holt:New York,NY, pp. 167.

[10] Switek, B., (February 2012) “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” http://www.nature.com

[11] Switek, B., (February 2012) “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” http://www.nature.com

[12] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[13] Sarfati, J., (2002) Refuting Evolution 2, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 157.

[14] As quoted in Brian Switek’s  “Debate Bubbles Over the Origin of Life,” (February 2012) http://www.nature.com

[15] Riddle, M., (2008) “Can Natural Processes Explain the Origin of Life?” as written in Ken Ham’s The New Answers Book 3, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 67.

[16] Ashton, J., (2000) In Six Days, Master Books:Green Forest,AR, pp. 82.

[17] Pauling, L., (1970) General Chemistry, 3rd Ed., W.H. Freeman & Co.:San Francisco,CA, pp. 774.

[18] Shapiro, R., (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books:New York,NY, pp. 86.

[19] Swee-Eng, A., “The Origin of Life; a Critique of Current Scientific Models,” creation.com

[20] Gitt, W., “Dazzling Design in Miniture: DNA Information Storage,” creation.com

[21] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[22] Gitt, W., (2006) In The Beginning Was Information, Master Books:Green Forest,AR.

[23] Lester, L. & Bohlin, R., (1989) The Natural Limits To Biological Change, Probe Books:Dallas,TX, pp. 157.

[24] Meyer, S., (2009) Signature in the Cell, Harper Collins:New York,NY, pp. 347

[25] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[26] Wald, G., (1954) “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191 no. 2:48.

[27] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 137.

[28] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 138.

[29] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[30] Duve, C., (September-October 1995) “The Beginnings of Life on Earth,” American Scientist, pp. 428.

[31] Truman, R., (December 2001) “The Fish in the Bathtub,” Creation

[32] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[33] Morris, J.D., “How Did Life Originate?” http://www.icr.org

[34] Crick, F., (October 1981) “The Seeds of Life,” Discover Magazine

[35] Grigg, R., (September 2000) “Did Life Come to Earth From Outerspace?” Creation, 22:(4), pp. 42

[36] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 138-139.

[37] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[38] As quoted in Paul E. Little’s Know Why You Believe, 4th Ed., InterVarsity Press:Downers Grove,IL, pp. 26.

[39] Williams, A., (August 2007) “Life’s Irreducible Structure- Part 1: Autopoiesis,” Journal of Creation, 21:(2) pp. 115.

[40] Shapiro, R. (1986) Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books:New York,NY, pp. 128.

[41] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 141.

[42] Hart, M. H. (1990) “Atmospheric Evolution, the Drake Equation, and DNA: Sparse Life in an Infinite Universe,” Physical Cosmology and Philosophy, MacMillan:New York,NY, pp. 264.

[43] Little, P.E., (2000) Know Why You Believe, 4th Ed.,InterVarsity Press:Downers Grove,IL, pp. 26.

[44] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[45] Thaxton, C., Bradley, W., & Olsen, R., (1984) The Mystery of Life’s Origins: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library:New York,NY, pp. 80.

[46] Sarfati, J., “15 Loopholes in the Evolutionary Theory of the Origin of Life,” creation.com

[47] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics; Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed., McGraw Hill:New York,NY, Pp. 30-31.

[48] Lewis, R., (2008) Human Genetics; Concepts and Applications, 8th Ed., McGraw Hill:New York,NY, Pp. 355.

[49] Mullan, D., “Probabilities of Randomly Assembling a Primitive Cell on Earth,” http://www.iscid.org

[50] Ross, H., (1994) The Creator and the Cosmos, Navpress:Colorado Springs,CO, pp. 142.

[51] Joyce, G.F.,  (1989) “RNA Evolution and the Origins of Life,” Nature 338: pp. 222-223

[52] Wells, J., (2000) Icons of Evolution, Regnery Publishing:WashingtonD.C., pp. 24.

[53] Luskin, C., (February 2012) “More News Sources Admit the ‘Mystery’ of Life’s Origin,” http://www.evolutionnews.org

[54] Hoyle, F., (1983) The Intelligent Universe, Michael Joseph:London, pp. 251.

[55] Yockey, H.P., (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, CambridgeUniversity Press:UK, pp. 257.

[56] Yockey, H.P., (1992) Information Theory and Molecular Biology, CambridgeUniversity Press:UK, pp. 336.

[57] Swee-Eng, A., “The Origin of Life; a Critique of Current Scientific Models,” creation.com

[58] Denton, M., (1986) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,3rd Ed., Alder & Alder, pp. 341.

[59] Lipson, H. S., (May 1980) “A Physicist Looks at Evolution,” Physics Bulletin, pp. 138.

[60] Parker, G., (January 1994) “The Origin of Life: DNA and Protein,” http://www.answersingenesis.org

[61] Demick, D., (December 2000) “Life From Non-Life… or Not?” Creation 23:1 pp. 41.

[62] Grigg, R., (December 1990) “Could Monkeys Type the 23rd Psalm?” Creation 13:1 pp. 34