Dr. Rodney Stark
Note:� This is an article from American
Enterprise Online, a publication of The American Enterprise
Institute.� For other excellent articles, visit their website.
write as neither a creationist nor a Darwinist, but
as one who knows what is probably the most disreputable
scientific secret of the past century: There is no plausible
scientific theory of the origin of species! Darwin himself
was not sure he had produced one, and for many decades
every competent evolutionary biologist has known that
he did not. Although the experts have kept quiet when
true believers have sworn in court and before legislative
bodies that Darwin's theory is proven beyond any possible
doubt, that's not what reputable biologists, including
committed Darwinians, have been saying to one another.
question, Charles Darwin would be among the most prominent
biologists in history even if he hadn't written The
Origin of Species in 1859. But he would not have
been deified in the campaign to "enlighten"
humanity. The battle over evolution is not an example
of how heroic scientists have withstood the relentless
persecution of religious fanatics. Rather, from the
very start it primarily has been an attack on religion
by militant atheists who wrap themselves in the mantle
a thoroughly ideological Darwinist like Richard Dawkins
claims, "The theory is about as much in doubt as
that the earth goes round the sun," he does not
state a fact, but merely aims to discredit a priori
anyone who dares to express reservations about evolution.
Indeed, Dawkins has written, "It is absolutely
safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not
to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid,
or insane ...."
is precisely how "Darwin's Bulldog," Thomas
Huxley, hoped intellectuals would react when he first
adopted the tactic of claiming that the only choice
is between Darwin and Bible literalism. However, just
as one can doubt Max Weber's Protestant Ethic thesis
without thereby declaring for Marxism, so too one may
note the serious shortcomings of neo-Darwinism without
opting for any rival theory. Modern physics provides
a model of how science benefits from being willing to
live with open questions rather than embracing obviously
is most clear to me is that the Darwinian Crusade does
not prove some basic incompatibility between religion
and science. But the even more immediate reality is
that Darwin's theory falls noticeably short of explaining
the origin of species. Dawkins knows the many serious
problems that beset a purely materialistic evolutionary
theory, but asserts that no one except true believers
in evolution can be allowed into the discussion, which
also must be held in secret. Thus he chastises Niles
Eldridge and Stephen Jay Gould, two distinguished fellow
Darwinians, for giving "spurious aid and comfort
to modern creationists."
believes that, regardless of his or her good intentions,
"If a reputable scholar breathes so much as a hint
of criticism of some detail of Darwinian theory, that
fact is seized upon and blown up out of proportion."
While acknowledging that "the extreme rarity of
transitional forms in the fossil record" is a major
embarrassment for Darwinism, Stephen Jay Gould confided
that this has been held as a "trade secret of paleontology"
and acknowledged that the evolutionary diagrams "that
adorn our textbooks" are based on "inference
... not the evidence of fossils."
to Steven Stanley, another distinguished evolutionist,
doubts raised by the fossil record were "suppressed"
for years. Stanley noted that this too was a tactic
begun by Huxley, always careful not to reveal his own
serious misgivings in public. Paleontologist Niles Eldridge
and his colleagues have said that the history of life
demonstrates gradual transformations of species, "all
the while really knowing that it does not." This
is not how science is conducted; it is how ideological
crusades are run.
Darwin's day it had long been recognized that the fossil
evidence showed that there had been a progression in
the biological complexity of organisms over an immense
period of time. In the oldest strata, only simple organisms
are observed. In more recent strata, more complex organisms
appear. The biological world is now classified into
a set of nested categories. Within each genus (mammals,
reptiles, etc.) are species (dogs, horses, elephants,
etc.) and within each species are many specific varieties,
or breeds (Great Dane, Poodle, Beagle, etc.).
was well-known that selective breeding can create variations
within species. But the boundaries between species are
distinct and firm � one species does not simply trail
off into another by degrees. As Darwin acknowledged,
breeding experiments reveal clear limits to selective
breeding beyond which no additional changes can be produced.
For example, dogs can be bred to be only so big and
no bigger, let alone be selectively bred until they
are cats. Hence, the question of where species come
from was the real challenge and, despite the title of
his famous book and more than a century of hoopla and
celebration, Darwin essentially left it unanswered.
many years spent searching for an adequate explanation
of the origin of species, in the end Darwin fell back
on natural selection, claiming that it could create
new creatures too, if given immense periods of time.
That is, organisms respond to their environmental circumstances
by slowly changing (evolving) in the direction of traits
beneficial to survival until, eventually, they are sufficiently
changed to constitute a new species. Hence, new species
originate very slowly, one tiny change after another,
and eventually this can result in lemurs changing to
humans via many intervening species.
fully recognized that a major weakness of this account
of the origin of species involved what he and others
referred to as the principle of "gradualism in
nature." The fossil record was utterly inconsistent
with gradualism. As Darwin acknowledged: "...why,
if species have descended from other species by fine
gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional
forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of
the species being, as we see them, well defined?"
offered two solutions. Transitional types are quickly
replaced and hence would mainly only be observable in
the fossil record. As for the lack of transitional types
among the fossils, that was, Darwin admitted, "the
most obvious and serious objection which can be urged
against the theory."
dealt with this problem by blaming "the extreme
imperfection of the geological record." "Only
a small portion of the surface of the earth has been
geologically explored, and no part with sufficient care."
But, just wait, Darwin promised, the missing transitions
will be found in the expected proportion when more research
has been done. Thus began an intensive search for what
the popular press soon called the "missing links."
the fossil record is enormous compared to what it was
in Darwin's day, but the facts are unchanged. The links
are still missing; species appear suddenly and then
remain relatively unchanged. As Steven Stanley reported:
"The known fossil record...offers no evidence that
the gradualistic model can be valid."
the evidence has grown even more contrary since Darwin's
day. "Many of the discontinuities [in the fossil
record] tend to be more and more emphasized with increased
collecting," noted the former curator of historical
geology at the American Museum of Natural History. The
history of most fossil species includes two features
particularly inconsistent with gradualism, Stephen Jay
Gould has acknowledged. The first problem is stasis.
Most species exhibit no directional change during their
tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking
much the same as when they disappear. The second problem
is sudden appearance. Species do not arise gradually
by the steady transformation of ancestors, they appear
are precisely the objections raised by many biologists
and geologists in Darwin's time � it was not merely
that Darwin's claim that species arise through eons
of natural selection was offered without supporting
evidence, but that the available evidence was overwhelmingly
contrary. Unfortunately, rather than concluding that
a theory of the origin of species was yet to be accomplished,
many scientists urged that Darwin's claims must be embraced,
no matter what.
keeping with Darwin's views, evolutionists have often
explained new species as the result of the accumulation
of tiny, favorable random mutations over an immense
span of time. But this answer is inconsistent with the
fossil record wherein creatures appear "full-blown
and raring to go." Consequently, for most of the
past century, biologists and geneticists have tried
to discover how a huge number of favorable mutations
can occur at one time so that a new species would appear
without intermediate types.
as the eminent and committed Darwinist Ernst Mayr explained,
�The occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation
... is well substantiated, but they are such evident
freaks that these monsters can only be designated as
'hopeless.' They are so utterly unbalanced that they
would not have the slightest chance of escaping elimination
through selection. Giving a thrush the wings of a falcon
does not make it a better flyer.... To believe that
such a drastic mutation would produce a viable new type,
capable of occupying a new adaptive zone, is equivalent
to believing in miracles.�
word miracle crops up again and again in mathematical
assessments of the possibility that even very simple
biochemical chains, let alone living organisms, can
mutate into being by a process of random trial and error.
For generations, Darwinians have regaled their students
with the story of the monkey and the typewriter, noting
that given an infinite period of time, the monkey sooner
or later is bound to produce Macbeth purely by chance,
the moral being that infinite time can perform miracles.
the monkey of random evolution does not have infinite
time. The progression from simple to complex life forms
on earth took place within a quite limited time. Moreover,
when competent mathematicians considered the matter,
they quickly calculated that even if the monkey's task
were reduced to coming up with only a few lines of Macbeth,
let alone Shakespeare's entire play, the probability
is far, far beyond mathematical possibility. The odds
of creating even the simplest organism at random are
even more remote � Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe,
celebrated cosmologists, calculated the odds as one
in ten to the 40,000th power. (Consider that all atoms
in the known universe are estimated to number no more
than ten to the 80th power.) In this sense, then, Darwinian
theory does rest on truly miraculous assumptions.
the most amazing aspect of the current situation is
that while Darwin is treated as a secular saint in the
popular media and the theory of evolution is regarded
as the invincible challenge to all religious claims,
it is taken for granted among the leading biological
scientists that the origin of species has yet to be
explained. Writing in Nature in 1999, E�rs Szathmay
summarizes that, "The origin of species has long
fascinated biologists. Although Darwin's major work
bears it as a title, it does not provide a solution
to the problem." When Julian Huxley claimed that
"Darwin's theory is...no longer a theory but a
fact," he surely knew better. But, just like his
grandfather, Thomas Huxley, he knew that his lie served
the greater good of "enlightenment."
Part Two Here
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