The Darwinian House of Cards

Taking on Darwin’s Theory of Evolution these days is a challenging task. It shouldn’t be. At closer examination the underpinnings of this popular theory is a proverbial house of cards. 

While one wouldn’t know it from the media headlines or a dialogue with high school or college students, or even with many individuals under the age of 35, many would say that the United States has a science problem. According to Pew and Gallup research polls, 50% of US citizens reject the facts of evolution. And while we’re told that 98% of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science say they believe humans evolved over time, only 66% of Americans overall perceive that scientists generally agree about evolution. By the way, less than 33% of Americans agree there is a scientific consensus on human-caused climate change.

Does that mean that these skeptics are uneducated, biased, and wrong? Or is it that by consensus and sheer numbers the other side is proven better informed, unbiased, and correct?

Probably depends on which side of the fence you stand. And I’m not differentiating between Christians and non-Christians, as you’ll find both on either side.

I’d say truth is muddled with the popular culture and media’s attitude on evolution and climate change. There is a certain predominate loathing and ridicule of that part of the public that doubts the Darwinian and man-made climate change narrative. There is also a sense of superiority and smugness about science which holds it and naturalist worldview-supporting scientists in high reverence and esteem. Combine this with selective use of evidence, appeals to authority and polling, control of peer review processes, claims that “the debate is over,” and personal ad hominem attacks, and you’ve got an environment where free and healthy evaluation, discussion, and calm review of the facts are not readily occurring.

Taking on Darwin
There is much that has been published which refutes and raises doubt about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It’s just not as easily heard or read and certainly not being taught or even debated widely by our children in the public and university educational systems. Or even in many churches. But it’s out there.

Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial,  and his Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, are excellent. As is Tom Bethell’s Darwin’s House of Cards. A thorough reading of any of these books would be sufficient to stop any evolutionist in their tracks and cause them to pause and wonder just what is it they actually believe. And how and why did they get to that belief.

Bethell, an Oxford University graduate, records his own investigation of the evidence, including interviews with stalwarts of science and philosophy such as Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Lewontin, Colin Patterson, and Karl Popper.

He delineates Darwin’s own doubts and thoughts about his untested theory, even the notion of “the survival of the fittest” – actually coined by Herbert Spencer and incorporated only in the 5th edition of Darwin’s The Origin of Species. Bethell also delves into other issues around common descent, extinction, organic convergence, the fossil record, intelligent design, the DNA problem, human exceptionalism, and Darwin’s theology.

Of particular note was what he calls “Darwin’s mistake” as it highlights a foundational error very early in the development of the theory.

Darwin’s Mistake
Darwin adopted an economic theory posited by “that great philosopher” Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) in his book Principle of Population which wrongly predicted that population increased geometrically and was destined to outrun food-supply. This would put many organisms under pressure and cause them to die. In his Autobiography, Darwin said that he first read Malthus in 1838 and that:

“It at once struck me that under these circumstances favorable variations would tend to be preserved, and unfavorable ones to be destroyed. The result of this would be the formation of new species.” 1

Darwin’s competitive peer, Alfred Russel Wallace, read the same book and likewise believed that this gave him “the long-sought clue to the effective agent in the evolution of organic species.” In essence, they both concluded that organisms would find themselves pressured by the Mathusian math, somehow causing them to increase in complexity and to speciate [becoming wholly different new species], thereby generating the fitter and then the fittest, allowing the fittest of all to survive.

This was and is a gross miscalculation.

Nevertheless, Darwin rushed his Origin of Species to publication ahead of Wallace in 1859. Darwin’s mistake was one of extrapolation – to assume that all organisms had to do was increase their rate of reproduction and ever more species would appear. As Bethell points out, without evidence Darwin’s supporters today still accept that inter-generational differences accumulated, eventually transforming their phenotype, or bodily form. But such a transformation has never been observed. No species has ever been seen to evolve into another. 2 Add in the blurring of terms like microevolution (variation within a species; e.g. finches) and macroevolution (change to a new species; e.g. bears to whales or monkeys to man) and disparate biological studies on birds, moths, and fruit flies, and the confusion is compounded.

Incidentally, Alfred Russell Wallace eventually changed his mind and embraced what is now call intelligent design.

Darwinism on the Run
While it certainly won’t happen overnight, it’s a fair guess that Darwin’s house of cards will collapse under the weight of its own flimsy icons and weak underpinnings. Bethell points out that in November 2016 the Royal Society in London convened a group of scientists to discuss “calls for revision of the standard theory of evolution,” acknowledging that “the issues involved remain hotly contested.” The meeting itself produced nothing new that would rescue the standard theory. Nevertheless it’s promising that real questions are being asked among the scientific ruling class.

Perhaps over the coming decades a new intellectual honesty will emerge from a curious and persistent generation that opts for real full disclosure of information and true peer review (on all sides). May we all, sooner than later, then settle into a truth that I believe is amply evident and on display everyday.

Is your belief system based on a house of cards?
…What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” – Romans 1:19-20

1 Darwin’s House of Cards, by Tom Bethell, Discovery Institute, 2017, p. 24.
2 Ibid.

Categories: Creation, Evidence, Evolution, Faith

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