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Why Can’t Evolutionists Make Headway?

Featured as a back-of-page article in the CSABC Quarterly Letter of December 2008

by Richard Peachey

For decades, evolutionists have done their utmost to tighten their monopolistic grip on our taxpayer-funded public education systems. Yet we often hear them lamenting their failure to win over a larger percentage of the North American population. What is limiting their success?

One key factor is very simple: things look designed. The universe as a whole, the Earth, living things in general, and humans in particular bear the marks of high-quality engineering design and artistry.

Cosmologists recognize that the universe appears "fine-tuned." So, in order to fend off the conclusion of a divine Fine-Tuner, they theorize the existence of a "multiverse" — a plethora of (forever unobservable) universes (plural!) in which ours just happens to be a lucky one with physical laws amenable to complex life.

"Animals give the appearance of having been designed by a theoretically sophisticated and practically ingenious physicist or engineer," writes Richard Dawkins, the world's leading atheist and evolutionist (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 36). Dawkins thinks he can explain this phenomenon through naturalistic (God-less) processes such as mutation and natural selection; nonetheless, he readily grants the pervasive "appearance of design" in nature.

The late Nobel laureate and determined atheist Francis Crick, in his autobiography, made this intriguing statement: "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved" (What Mad Pursuit, p. 138). To me that sounds very much like a man trying hard to suppress the obvious truth!

Sometimes evolutionists respond with allegations of flawed or suboptimal design. Unhappily for them, the ultra-Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett has already cut the legs out from under such an approach:

"There is simply no denying the breathtaking brilliance of the designs to be found in nature. Time and again, biologists baffled by some apparently maladroit bit of bad design in nature have eventually come to see that they have underestimated the ingenuity, the sheer brilliance, the depth of insight to be discovered in one of Mother Nature's creations" (Darwin's Dangerous Idea, p. 74).

It's too bad that Dennett's philosophical blinders prevent him from giving credit where it's due: to the true Designer. But at least he can see the problem with making accusations of poor design!

A second major reason for the widespread rejection of evolution is existential: evolution implies nihilism. If evolution were really true, the whole history of life would amount to nothing more than a match struck in the dark and blown out again. Lots of "sound and fury," to use Shakespeare's words, but "signifying nothing." No ultimate meaning or purpose to human existence; also no ultimate moral accountability or justice for the oppressed.

A third reason for holding to creation rather than evolution is biblical: a lot of us still maintain a great respect for the Book that is in many ways foundational to western culture. Among young Canadians aged 18 to 34, a solid majority of 62% say they believe the Bible is "the inspired word of God" (Globe and Mail, April 22, 2000, p. A1).

The Bible, clearly, is a creationist work; it portrays its central figure, the master teacher Jesus Christ, as a creationist and even a Genesis literalist (see Matthew 19:4-6).

A fourth reason to stay skeptical of evolution is the weakness of arguments used in its favour. For example, new research keeps uncovering previously unknown functions for so-called "vestigial structures" and "junk DNA."

As well, frauds and mistaken interpretations — such as the "German Darwin" Ernst Haeckel's scandalously embellished drawings of vertebrate embryos, or the phony-feathered-fossil-dinosaur "Archaeoraptor," or the not-hominid-after-all Ramapithecus — fuel our suspicions against a dogma that feeds on this kind of support.

One stunning example of misinterpretation has been revealed within the last six years. How many of you are aware that the entire first half of the fossil record is currently up for dispute? All fossils from 3.8 billion years old to 1.9 billion years old (according to the evolutionists' timeframe) — that's a full half of the fossil record, chronologically speaking — are currently being debated by paleontologists. Many fossils that leading scientists once advertised as "very convincing" and "compelling" have now been thrown into grave doubt (see Cell 85:793-798; Nature 417:782-784; 430:288f.; 434:155; and references provided with those articles).

Cornell University historian of biology Will Provine, a noted atheist who was interviewed in the film Expelled, commented a few years ago: "Most of what I learned of the field [i.e., evolutionary biology] in graduate school (1964-68) is either wrong or significantly changed" <>.

Evolutionists continue to be especially vexed by the question of how life began. Evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci, after recounting Stanley Miller's classic 1953 origin-of-life chemistry experiments, was forced to conclude: "Unfortunately, such experiments have not progressed much further than their original prototype, leaving us with a sour aftertaste from the primordial soup" (Skeptical Inquirer 23[5]:24).

Up to 2004, Antony Flew had been one of the world's best-known atheists — for over 50 years! In 2007 he published a book explaining why he changed his mind. One strand in the rope of evidence that lassoed him was that "biologists' investigation of DNA has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved. . . . there is no law of nature that instructs matter to produce end-directed, self-replicating entities" (There is a God, pp. 123, 131).

Because of issues like these, there will always be resistance to the dominant evolutionary worldview!