The following are my notes on a video presentation by Tim Barnett called “Shattering the Icons of Evolution.” (Note: some credit for the material might go to Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? by Jonathan Wells. I haven’t read it but I’m told it’s similar.) I decided to use my notes instead of writing a regular blog post because the presentation laid things out more clearly than I would be able to. I am not a scientist. I’m just doing my best to understand the evidence. Arguments for Darwinian evolution have caused many people to abandon Christianity, so I think it’s important to look at the evidence and not just dismiss evolution out of hand.
(Side note: I should clarify that I am not a young earth creationist or a theistic evolutionist. I am an old earth creationist who does not believe in macroevolution. I hold this view because, to the best of my knowledge, it’s the view that is most supported by the evidence. As I’ve said before, I think that the only good reason to believe something is because it’s true.)
DEFINITIONS OF EVOLUTION:
Do you believe in evolution?
First we have to ask: What do you mean by evolution?
Uncontroversial definitions of evolution (microevolution):
- Change over time
- Change in gene frequency in a population
- Mechanism: natural selection (survival of the fittest) and random mutation
- Limited common descent
Controversial definitions of evolution (macroevolution):
- Universal common descent
- All organisms have descended from a common ancestor solely through an unguided natural process
Evidence for macroevolution can be divided into three categories:
- Mistaken projection
- Mistaken information
- Mistaken conclusion
Small changes + time = big changes, like dinosaurs into birds.
- Peppered moths (Light or dark ones flourish depending on the color of the trees.)
- natural selection, not macroevolution.
- Finch beaks (The size of finch beaks changes according to needs and in times of drought, etc.)
- Also natural selection, not macroevolution.
- Antibiotic resistant bacteria (Mutant H. pylori lacks the ability to produce the enzyme that converts an antibiotic into a poison that would kill the H. pylori.)
- The change was beneficial, but it broke something (the ability to create the enzyme) and made it less complex, which is the opposite of what would happen in macroevolution. In macroevolution, it should become more complex. Even though it was a beneficial change, it is not a step toward macroevolution.
These 3 are often given as evidence of evolution, but they only support microevolution, not macroevolution.
Information that has been disproved but is still included in textbooks.
- Transitional forms (Intermediate states between an ancestral form & its modern descendants.)
- There are a handful of disputed so-called transitional forms, but we should find many more transitional forms than what we actually have. In Origin of the Species, Darwin said that this is the most serious objection against his theory.
- “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” – Stephen Jay Gould, “Evolution’s Erratic Pace” (1987)
- The rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record led Gould to develop the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which says that new species evolve suddenly over brief periods of time, followed by longer periods during which there is no genetic change.
- Embryology (Similarities in early stage embryos are evidence of common descent.)
- Darwin thought that embryology was “by far the strongest single class of facts in favor of change of form.”
- Ernst Haeckel’s drawings, which are still used in some science textbooks, show early embryos of a fish, salamander, tortoise, chicken, and human as looking nearly identical to each other. Comparing those drawings to actual photographs of embryos shows that they are nowhere near identical. Science Magazine, a peer-reviewed academic journal, wrote about how Haeckel’s drawings are fraudulent.
- There is no reason for those drawings to still be in textbooks because they do not reflect reality.
- Junk DNA (DNA was thought to be 98% junk, or nonfunctional, no longer needed DNA accumulated over millions of years of evolution.)
- 2% of our DNA is protein coding. 98% is non-protein coding and was thought to be useless, representing the trial and error of evolution.
- The ENCODE Project enabled scientists to “assign biochemical functions for 80% of the genome, in particular outside of the well-studied protein-coding regions.”
Evidence that could support evolution, but could just as easily support creation.
- Vestigial organs (Organs that have become functionless in the course of evolution.)
- The list of human vestigial organs has become shorter since we discovered uses for some of them.
- There are some underwater creatures that live in total darkness and have non-functional eyes. Why would a divine creator give a creature eyes that it has no use for? Because the eyes started out functional, but became non-functional through mutation and natural selection. A loss of function isn’t evolution, it’s more like de-evolution.
- Homologous structures (Homology has to do with similarities between organisms.)
- There are similarities in bone structure across different species of animals and humans.
- What best explains similarity? It could be common descent or common design.
- Mammalian eyes (examples: human, whale, mouse) are similar and thought to be a result of common descent. But the octopus eye is an example of convergent evolution and is thought to have evolved completely independently of the mammalian eye.
- Common design is a more rational explanation than the idea that the eye evolved independently numerous times.
Why is evolution so widely believed?
Evolution is partly true: microevolution is true.
Why is macroevolution so widely believed?
Because of philosophical reasons: a commitment to methodological naturalism. The only alternative to macroevolution is intelligent design, and that option is automatically rejected because it doesn’t fit a naturalist worldview. Without the bias of naturalism, the evidence points away from macroevolution.
Are There Transitional Intermediates in the Fossil Record?
The Fossil Record Proves Evolution. Right?
Like a Fish Out of Water: Why I’m Skeptical of the Evolutionary Paradigm
Three (More) Reasons Why Junk DNA Is No Longer Evidence for Evolution
Can Naturalists Explain Where Life Originated?
Why Is Evolution So Widely Believed?