Evolution on Trial
Committed evolutionists are now clamoring for a full reexamination of organic origins
IMAGINE that you are a jurist in a criminal trial. The defendant avows his innocence, and witnesses come forward to testify in his behalf. While listening to their testimony, however, you note that each witness contradicts the others. Then, when the defense witnesses are called back to the stand, their stories change. As a jurist, would you give weight to their testimony? Would you be inclined to acquit the accused? Likely not, for any inconsistencies in the defense erode the credibility of the defendant.
Such is the case with the theory of evolution. A host of witnesses have come forth to tell a variety of stories about the origin of life, defending the theory of evolution. But would their testimony hold up in court? Do those who uphold the theory speak in agreement?
How did life begin? Perhaps no other question has stirred more speculation and ignited more debate. Yet, the controversy is not simply over evolution versus creation; much of the conflict takes place among the evolutionists themselves. Virtually every detail of evolution—how it happened, where it started, who or what started it, and how long the process took—is hotly disputed.
For years evolutionists claimed that life began in a warm pool of organic “soup.” Some now believe that foam in the ocean could have bred life. Undersea geysers are another proposed site of life’s origin. Some postulate that living organisms arrived on earthbound meteors. Or perhaps, say others, asteroids smashed into earth and changed the atmosphere, stirring up life in the process. “Plow a big iron asteroid into earth,” says one researcher, “and you will certainly get interesting things happening.”
The nature of life’s beginning is also being reconsidered. “Life did not arise under calm, benign conditions, as once assumed,” suggests Time magazine, “but under the hellish skies of a planet racked by volcanic eruptions and menaced by comets and asteroids.” For life to evolve amid such chaos, some scientists now say, the whole process must have occurred within a narrower time frame than previously thought.
Scientists also have differing views about where God—“if he exists”—fits into the picture. Some say that life evolved without the intervention of a Creator, while others suggest that God started the process and let evolution take over.
After life began, how did evolution occur? Even here, stories conflict. In 1958, a century after The Origin of Species was published, evolutionist Sir Julian Huxley stated: “Darwin’s great discovery, the universal principle of natural selection, is firmly and finally established as the sole agency of major evolutionary change.” Twenty-four years later, though, evolutionist Michael Ruse wrote: “A growing number of biologists . . . argues that any evolutionary theory based on Darwinian principles—particularly any theory that sees natural selection as the key to evolutionary change—is misleadingly incomplete.”
Time magazine, while saying that there are “many solid facts” backing the evolution theory, nonetheless concedes that evolution is a complex tale with “many holes and no shortage of competing theories on how to fill in the missing pieces.” Far from suggesting that the case is closed, some of the most committed evolutionists are now clamoring for a full reexamination of organic origins.
Thus, the case for evolution—particularly for the beginning of life according to evolution—is not based upon consistent testimony. Scientist T. H. Janabi observes that those who advocate evolution “have developed and abandoned many erroneous theories over the years and scientists have so far been unable to agree on any one theory.”
Interestingly, Charles Darwin anticipated such conflict. In the introduction to The Origin of Species, he wrote: “I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived.”
Indeed, such conflicting testimony raises questions as to the credibility of the evolution theory.
Is Evolution the Intellectual Choice?
From its beginning, notes the book Milestones of History, the evolution theory “appealed to many people because it seemed more truly scientific than the theory of special creations.”
Moreover, the dogmatic statements of some evolutionists can be intimidating. For example, scientist H. S. Shelton asserts that the concept of special creation is “too foolish for serious consideration.” Biologist Richard Dawkins bluntly states: “If you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane.” Similarly, Professor René Dubos says: “Most enlightened persons now accept as a fact that everything in the cosmos—from heavenly bodies to human beings—has developed and continues to develop through evolutionary processes.”
From these statements it would seem that anyone with a measure of intelligence would readily accept evolution. After all, to do so would mean that one is “enlightened” rather than “stupid.” Yet, there are highly educated men and women who do not advocate the theory of evolution. “I found many scientists with private doubts,” writes Francis Hitching in his book The Neck of the Giraffe, “and a handful who went so far as to say that Darwinian evolutionary theory had turned out not to be a scientific theory at all.”
Chandra Wickramasinghe, a highly acclaimed British scientist, takes a similar position. “There’s no evidence for any of the basic tenets of Darwinian evolution,” he says. “It was a social force that took over the world in 1860, and I think it has been a disaster for science ever since.”
T. H. Janabi investigated the arguments put forth by evolutionists. “I found that the situation is quite different from that which we are led to believe,” he says. “The evidence is too scarce and too fragmented to support such a complex theory as that of the origin of life.”
Thus, those who object to the evolution theory should not simply be brushed aside as “ignorant, stupid or insane.” Regarding opinions that challenge evolution, even the staunch evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson had to admit: “It would certainly be a mistake merely to dismiss these views with a smile or to ridicule them. Their proponents were (and are) profound and able students.”
A Matter of Faith
Some think that belief in evolution is based upon fact, while belief in creation is based upon faith. It is true that no man has seen God. (John 1:18; compare 2 Corinthians 5:7.) Yet, the theory of evolution holds no advantage in this regard, since it is founded upon events that no humans have ever witnessed or duplicated.
For example, scientists have never observed mutations—even beneficial ones—that produce new life-forms; yet they are sure that this is precisely how new species arrived. They have not witnessed the spontaneous generation of life; yet they insist that this is how life began.
Such lack of evidence causes T. H. Janabi to call the evolution theory “a mere ‘faith.’” Physicist Fred Hoyle calls it “the Gospel according to Darwin.” Dr. Evan Shute takes it further. “I suspect that the creationist has less mystery to explain away than the wholehearted evolutionist,” he says.
Other experts agree. “When I contemplate the nature of man,” admits astronomer Robert Jastrow, “the emergence of this extraordinary being out of chemicals dissolved in a pool of warm water seems as much a miracle as the Biblical account of his origin.”
Why, then, do many still reject the idea that life was created?
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The dogmatic statements of some can be intimidating