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Is Evolution Fact or Fiction?

Introduction


Evolution is often presented as an established fact by many in the scientific community. For instance, Professor Richard Dawkins, a prominent evolutionary biologist, asserts that "evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun." While experiments and direct observations indisputably demonstrate the sun's heat, the same level of empirical evidence for evolution remains a topic of debate, especially among those who hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible. This article examines whether the evidence for macroevolution—the theory that all life forms descended from a common ancestor through a process of natural selection and mutations—is as solid as some claim.


Microevolution vs. Macroevolution


It is crucial to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution refers to small, observable changes within a species. Charles Darwin described this as "descent with subsequent modification." These minor variations have been observed and recorded in numerous scientific experiments and are often used by plant and animal breeders to develop desired traits. For example, dog breeders have selectively bred dogs to emphasize particular characteristics, resulting in a wide variety of breeds.


However, scientists extrapolate these small changes to support the theory of macroevolution. Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species," posited that all life forms evolved from a few simple organisms through numerous small modifications over vast periods. This theory suggests that small, observable changes within species can accumulate to produce entirely new species—a process termed macroevolution.


The Assumptions of Macroevolution


The theory of macroevolution is built on three main assumptions:


  1. Mutations provide the raw materials for new species.

  2. Natural selection leads to the production of new species.

  3. The fossil record documents macroevolutionary changes in plants and animals.


These assumptions form the foundation of evolutionary theory, but are they supported by the evidence?


Can Mutations Produce New Species?


Mutations are changes in the genetic code, which can result in alterations in an organism's traits. Hermann J. Muller, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, asserted that the accumulation of many small mutations is the primary mechanism for both artificial and natural evolution. However, a century of genetic research challenges this claim.


Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, has extensively studied mutation genetics. He notes that early enthusiasm for mutation breeding—a process by which scientists hoped to induce beneficial mutations in plants and animals—proved largely fruitless. Despite significant financial investment and decades of research, the vast majority of induced mutations were detrimental or led to organisms weaker than their wild counterparts. Lönnig concluded that mutations could not transform an original species into an entirely new one. This conclusion aligns with the laws of probability and the consistent results of mutation research throughout the 20th century.


Natural Selection and the Creation of New Species


Darwin's theory of natural selection posits that organisms best suited to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, this process supposedly leads to the emergence of new species. However, the evidence supporting this mechanism as a means of producing entirely new species is weak.


A prominent example often cited is Darwin's finches on the Galápagos Islands. Research by Peter and Rosemary Grant found that finch populations with slightly larger beaks survived better during drought conditions. However, these changes were reversible, and the finch populations oscillated back and forth in response to changing environmental conditions. Moreover, different finch "species" were observed interbreeding, which could potentially lead to the fusion of species rather than the creation of new ones.


Evolutionary biologist George Christopher Williams and theorist Jeffrey Schwartz have both suggested that natural selection may help species adapt to changing environments but does not create new species. This perspective challenges the notion that natural selection can drive the large-scale changes necessary for macroevolution.


The Fossil Record and Macroevolution


The fossil record is often presented as strong evidence for macroevolution. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) claims that numerous intermediate forms have been discovered, documenting the transition between major groups of organisms. However, this confident assertion is not supported by the fossil evidence.


National Geographic has described the fossil record as resembling a film with 999 of every 1,000 frames missing. Niles Eldredge, a staunch evolutionist, acknowledges that most species exhibit little to no evolutionary change over long periods. The fossil record shows that major groups of animals appeared suddenly and remained largely unchanged, contradicting the gradual changes predicted by macroevolution.


Jonathan Wells, a biologist, reviewed the fossil and molecular evidence and concluded that descent with modification from common ancestors is not supported at the higher taxonomic levels (kingdoms, phyla, classes). Instead, the fossil record suggests that major kinds of plants and animals appeared abruptly and did not evolve into other kinds over time.


Evolution and Materialism


Many evolutionists insist on macroevolution despite the lack of compelling evidence. Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, admitted that many scientists accept evolutionary claims because of a prior commitment to materialism—the belief that physical matter is the only reality and that all phenomena can be explained without supernatural intervention. This commitment to materialism often leads to the dismissal of alternative explanations, such as intelligent design.


Sociologist Rodney Stark has noted that there is a reward system in research universities that favors irreligious perspectives. This bias against religious explanations can influence how scientific findings are interpreted and presented to the public.



Evolution: Fact or Fantasy?


Introduction


Evolution is often presented as an established fact by many in the scientific community. For instance, Professor Richard Dawkins, a prominent evolutionary biologist, asserts that "evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun." While experiments and direct observations indisputably demonstrate the sun's heat, the same level of empirical evidence for evolution remains a topic of debate, especially among those who hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible. This article examines whether the evidence for macroevolution—the theory that all life forms descended from a common ancestor through a process of natural selection and mutations—is as solid as some claim.


Microevolution vs. Macroevolution


It is crucial to distinguish between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution refers to small, observable changes within a species. Charles Darwin described this as "descent with subsequent modification." These minor variations have been observed and recorded in numerous scientific experiments and are often used by plant and animal breeders to develop desired traits. For example, dog breeders have selectively bred dogs to emphasize particular characteristics, resulting in a wide variety of breeds.


However, scientists extrapolate these small changes to support the theory of macroevolution. Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species," posited that all life forms evolved from a few simple organisms through numerous small modifications over vast periods. This theory suggests that small, observable changes within species can accumulate to produce entirely new species—a process termed macroevolution.



The Assumptions of Macroevolution


The theory of macroevolution is built on three main assumptions:


  1. Mutations provide the raw materials for new species.

  2. Natural selection leads to the production of new species.

  3. The fossil record documents macroevolutionary changes in plants and animals.


These assumptions form the foundation of evolutionary theory, but are they supported by the evidence?


Can Mutations Produce New Species?


Mutations are changes in the genetic code, which can result in alterations in an organism's traits. Hermann J. Muller, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, asserted that the accumulation of many small mutations is the primary mechanism for both artificial and natural evolution. However, a century of genetic research challenges this claim.


Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, has extensively studied mutation genetics. He notes that early enthusiasm for mutation breeding—a process by which scientists hoped to induce beneficial mutations in plants and animals—proved largely fruitless. Despite significant financial investment and decades of research, the vast majority of induced mutations were detrimental or led to organisms weaker than their wild counterparts. Lönnig concluded that mutations could not transform an original species into an entirely new one. This conclusion aligns with the laws of probability and the consistent results of mutation research throughout the 20th century.


Natural Selection and the Creation of New Species


Darwin's theory of natural selection posits that organisms best suited to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce. Over time, this process supposedly leads to the emergence of new species. However, the evidence supporting this mechanism as a means of producing entirely new species is weak.


A prominent example often cited is Darwin's finches on the Galápagos Islands. Research by Peter and Rosemary Grant found that finch populations with slightly larger beaks survived better during drought conditions. However, these changes were reversible, and the finch populations oscillated back and forth in response to changing environmental conditions. Moreover, different finch "species" were observed interbreeding, which could potentially lead to the fusion of species rather than the creation of new ones.


Evolutionary biologist George Christopher Williams and theorist Jeffrey Schwartz have both suggested that natural selection may help species adapt to changing environments but does not create new species. This perspective challenges the notion that natural selection can drive the large-scale changes necessary for macroevolution.


The Fossil Record and Macroevolution


The fossil record is often presented as strong evidence for macroevolution. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) claims that numerous intermediate forms have been discovered, documenting the transition between major groups of organisms. However, this confident assertion is not supported by the fossil evidence.


National Geographic has described the fossil record as resembling a film with 999 of every 1,000 frames missing. Niles Eldredge, a staunch evolutionist, acknowledges that most species exhibit little to no evolutionary change over long periods. The fossil record shows that major groups of animals appeared suddenly and remained largely unchanged, contradicting the gradual changes predicted by macroevolution.


Jonathan Wells, a biologist, reviewed the fossil and molecular evidence and concluded that descent with modification from common ancestors is not supported at the higher taxonomic levels (kingdoms, phyla, classes). Instead, the fossil record suggests that major kinds of plants and animals appeared abruptly and did not evolve into other kinds over time.


Evolution and Materialism


Many evolutionists insist on macroevolution despite the lack of compelling evidence. Richard Lewontin, an influential evolutionist, admitted that many scientists accept evolutionary claims because of a prior commitment to materialism—the belief that physical matter is the only reality and that all phenomena can be explained without supernatural intervention. This commitment to materialism often leads to the dismissal of alternative explanations, such as intelligent design.


Sociologist Rodney Stark has noted that there is a reward system in research universities that favors irreligious perspectives. This bias against religious explanations can influence how scientific findings are interpreted and presented to the public.


Evolution: Fact or Fantasy?


Evolution is a fact only at a very small scale. It is fantasy when it is used to explain how plants and animals came into existence or how human beings supposedly evolved from apelike ancestors. If “evolution” merely refers to a process of cyclical variation in response to changing environmental conditions, then evolution is a fact that can be observed both in nature and in laboratory experiments.


For example, when a population of insects is sprayed with a deadly chemical like DDT, the most susceptible insects die but the individuals most resistant to the poison survive to breed and leave offspring, which inherit the genes that provide resistance. After many generations of insects have been sprayed, the entire surviving population may be comprised of the DDT-resistant variety. Such changes are not permanent, however, because the resistant mosquitoes are more fit than the others only for as long as the insecticide is applied. When the environment becomes free of the toxic chemical, the insect population tends to revert to what it was before.


A similar effect explains how disease-causing bacteria become resistant to antibiotic drugs like penicillin, which then are no longer as effective in controlling the disease as they formerly were. Almost all illustrations of “evolution in action” in textbooks or museum exhibits are similar to these examples. They involve no increase in complexity or appearance of new body parts or even permanent change of any kind. Small-scale, reversible population variations of this sort are usually called microevolution, although “adaptive variation” would be a better term.


It is misleading to describe adaptive variation as “evolution,” because the latter term commonly refers also to macroevolution. Macroevolution is the grand story of how life supposedly evolved by purely natural processes from very simple beginnings to become complex, multicelled plants and animals, and eventually human beings, without God’s participation being needed at any step along the way.


Charles Darwin assumed that macroevolution was merely microevolution extended over very long periods. Biology textbooks, museums, and television programs still teach people to make the same assumption, so that examples of microevolution are used as proof that complex animals and even human beings evolved from simpler organisms by a similar process.


The Complexity of Life


The primary flaw in the story of macroevolution is that all plants and animals are packed with information—the complicated instructions that coordinate the many processes enabling the body and brain to function. Even Richard Dawkins, the most famous living advocate of Darwin’s theory, admits that every cell in a human body contains more information than all the volumes of an encyclopedia, and every one of us has trillions of cells in his or her body, which have to work together in marvelous harmony.


The greatest weakness of the theory of evolution is that science has not discovered a process that can create all the necessary information, which can be likened to the software that directs a computer. Without such a demonstrated creative process, evolution is merely a story, because its supposed mechanism can neither be duplicated in a laboratory nor observed in nature.


It is true that there are patterns of similarity among living creatures. For example, humans, apes, mice, worms, and even plants have many similar genes. The important question is not whether there are similarities among all living things but whether those similarities came about through a natural process akin to the observable examples of adaptive variation that we find in textbooks and museum exhibits.


The Biblical Perspective


One mistake Christians often make in debating evolution is to take on too many issues at once, rather than starting with the most important problem and solving it first. For example, evolution requires a time scale of many millions of years, while many people understand the Bible to allow for an earth history of only a few thousand years. The evolutionary time scale is debatable, but debating it involves several complex scientific disciplines and distracts attention from the most important defect of the theory of evolution. The only mechanism the evolutionists have is a combination of random variation and natural selection, illustrated by the survival of the insects that happened to be resistant to an insecticide. This Darwinian mechanism has never been shown to be capable of creating new genetic information or new complex body parts such as wings, eyes, or brains. Without a mechanism that can be demonstrated to be capable of the necessary creation, the theory of evolution is just a fantasy with no real scientific basis.


The Bible teaches, “In the beginning God created” and “In the beginning was the Word.” A simple way of explaining this basic principle is to say that a divine intelligence existed before anything else and that intelligence was responsible for the origin of life and for the existence of all living things, including human beings. No matter how much time we might allow for evolution to do the necessary creating, the evidence shows that the process would never get started, because all evolution can do is to further minor variations in organisms that are already living, without any change in their basic classification. When the Bible says, “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1), it is presenting us with a fact, which we need to know to understand everything else, including what we were created for and how God wants us to live.


The Bible also says that God created men and women in His own image. That, too, is a fact. If it were not true, there would be no science, because no theory of evolution can demonstrate how intelligence came into existence, including the intelligence of misguided people who misuse science to try to explain creation without allowing any role to God.

“In the beginning was the Word.” The Bible says it and, properly understood, the evidence of science confirms it. Anyone who says otherwise is peddling fantasy, not fact.


Conclusion


The examination of the evidence for macroevolution reveals significant gaps and challenges. Mutations have not been shown to produce new species, natural selection appears to maintain adaptation rather than create new forms of life, and the fossil record does not document the gradual transitions predicted by evolutionary theory. The commitment to materialism among many scientists further complicates the acceptance of alternative explanations. As such, the claim that macroevolution is a fact remains contentious and unsupported by the available evidence.


About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).


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