The outstanding evolutionary mystery now is how matter has originated and evolved, why it has taken its present form in the universe and on the earth, and why it is capable of forming itself into complex living sets of molecules. This capability is inherent in matter as we know it, in its organization and energy.
(Harvard zoologist C.D. Darlington, Evolution for Naturalists, 1980, 15)
- It is a fundamental evolutionary generalization that no external agent imposes life or matter. Matter takes the forms it does because it has the inherent capacity to do so. This is one of the most remarkable and mysterious facts about our universe: that matter exists that has the capacity to form itself into the most complex patterns of life . . .
Scientists, whose job it is to observe and describe the nature and functions of matter and natural laws, oftentimes deceive themselves into thinking that because they cannot and do not deal in "spirit," therefore, it does not exist; or else, if it does, beliefs concerning it must be irrational and "mystical" and vastly inferior intellectually to scientific thought. But this is clearly a false dichotomy and a double standard. In the final analysis, all belief-systems require axioms, or "faith" in something, and all begin with unproven premises.
When and if scientists look down upon views in other fields of knowledge such as theology and philosophy, they are merely revealing their own radically deficient understanding of epistemology (the study in philosophy of how we know what we know) and the metaphysical roots of science itself. Science is grounded in a philosophy called empiricism: the belief that sensory observation leads to knowledge, which (not at all coincidentally) originated in the explicitly Christian context of Western Europe.
That's why, e.g., the great astronomer Kepler uttered his famous observation that he was "thinking God's thoughts after him," and why the vast majority of the great scientists for centuries were Christians, or at least theists of some sort. Even today, probably the majority of scientists still believe in God, but if so, they are too often reluctant to incorporate this aspect of their beliefs into their scientific work, due to the compartmentalism mentioned above, and a prejudice towards naturalistic explanations in fields of inquiry (such as our present subject) where materialistic explanations leave much to be desired.
The vast majority of scientific observations have little to do with theology, but when it comes to origins, both philosophy and theology come into focus, and the boundaries which we place between intellectual disciplines become quite fuzzy and permeable.
- The questions "What has caused evolution?" [and] "What is its purpose?" . . . span both science and philosophy, for science rests on a philosophical foundation and cannot be absolutely separated from it .
(George Gaylord Simpson & W.S. Beck, Life: An Introduction to Biology, 1965, 443)
At least it makes eminently good sense to allow this as a possibility, as Charles Darwin, his compatriot Thomas Henry Huxley and some others have done. The refusal to do this is often based on a prior hostile presupposition that God doesn't exist, and this belief is itself too often emotionally- rather than intellectually-based, and immune from rational argument.
It is absurd for the evolutionist to complain that it is unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing, and then pretend that it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.
(Catholic writer and social critic G.K. Chesterton)
I am an agnostic in religious matters. However, I am fascinated by strange developments going on in astronomy because of their religious implications. The essential elements in the astronomical and Biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy. Astronomical evidence makes it almost certain that the Big Bang really did occur. A few scientists dared to ask, "What came before the beginning?" The British theorist Edward Milne wrote a mathematical treatise on kinematic relativity, which concluded by saying, "The first cause of the universe is left for the reader to insert. But our picture is incomplete without Him."
Astronomers are currently upset. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind- supposedly a very objective mind - when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. Scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon that cannot be explained. There is a kind of religion in science . . . that every event in the universe can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event. This faith is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. He reacts by ignoring the implications or by trivializing. the scientist's pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation. This development was unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." But we scientists did not expect to find evidence for an abrupt beginning because we have had, until recently, such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time. Now we would like to pursue that inquiry further back in time, but the barrier seems insurmountable. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
(Astronomer Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, excerpt from God and the Astronomers, from "Have Astronomers Found God?," Reader's Digest, July 1980, 49-53)
[It is as difficult] to understand a scientist who does not accept the presence of a superior rationality behind the existence of the universe as it is to comprehend a theologian who would deny the advance of science . . . Astronomy and space exploration are teaching us that the good Lord is a much greater Lord, and master of a greater kingdom . . . Through a closer look at creation, we ought to gain a better knowledge of the Creator, and a greater sense of man's responsibility to God will come into focus.
(Wernher von Braun, the eminent rocket scientist who pioneered lunar flight, Cleveland Plain Dealer, 19 July 1969, 5)
- For practical purposes, the probability of creating any particular average protein from a prebiotic supply of amino acids by random processes is as remote as the probability of a monkey typing a sentence; it would require more time than is available even at the highest imaginable rate of protein synthesis. Selection must have been involved.
(T. Dobzhansky, F. Ayala, G.L. Stebbins, J.W. Valentine, Evolution, 1977, 359)
We . . . have no direct evidence as to how natural selection originated.
We do not understand even the general features of the origin of the genetic code . . . [it] is the most baffling aspect of the problem of the origins of life.
(Leslie Orgel, New Scientist, 15 April 1982, 151)
We have no unambiguous solution to the problem of the origin of DNA and its conversion into a hereditary substrate.
(A.S. Antonov, in Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life, R. Buver & C. Ponnamperuma, 1971, 422)
At the present time, there is no satisfactory hypothesis to explain the evolution of the protein-synthesizing mechanism.
(Biology and the Future of Man, ed. Philip Handler, 1970, 187: a book produced by nearly 200 biologists, which summarized the status of knowledge in the entire field)
If life really depends on each gene being as unique as it appears to be, then it is too unique to come into being by chance mutations. There will be nothing for natural selection to act on.
(Frank B. Salisbury, Nature, vol. 224, 25 October 1969, 342)
- The problem for biology is to reach a simple beginning . . . Most of the biochemical complexity of life was present already at the time the oldest surface rocks of Earth were formed. Thus we have no clue, even from evidence which penetrates very far back in time, as to how the information standard of life was set up in the first place, and so the evolutionary theory lacks a proper foundation.
(Sir Fred Hoyle & Chandra Wickramasinghe, both formerly atheist astronomers, Evolution From Space, 1981, 8)
A random shuffling of amino acids would have as little chance as one part in 10 to the 40,000th power of producing the enzymes.
The whole of the special creation theory was thought to be wrong and there was a general revulsion among scientists against it. In effect, because the details were seen to be incorrect, the fundamental idea that life was created by an intelligence was also rejected.
This forced a reliance on the inorganic processes of "Nature." Somehow a brew of appropriate chemicals managed to get together, the organic soup, and somehow the chemicals managed to shuffle themselves into an early primitive life-form. From then on, all appeared to be plain-sailing, natural selection operating on randomly generated mutations would do the rest.
Already in the mid-19th century, however, it was seen that the chemical shuffling part of this argument was weak . . .
Somehow matter of its own accord would shuffle itself into the enzymes, because of a deep over-riding principle in the nature of things. Except that "Nature" was the word used instead of "God," the idea was really the same as the older religious concept it was supposed to replace . . . There are so many flaws in Darwinism that one can wonder why it swept so completely through the scientific world, and why it is still endemic today.
If only ten amino acids of particular kinds are necessary at particular locations in a polypeptide chain for its proper functioning, the required arrangement (starting from an initially different arrangement) cannot be found by mutations, except as an outrageous fluke. Darwinian evolution is most unlikely to get even one polypeptide right, let alone the thousands on which living cells depend for their survival. This situation is well-known to geneticists and yet nobody seems prepared to blow the whistle decisively on the theory. If Darwinism were not considered socially desirable, and even essential to the peace of mind of the body politic, it would of course be otherwise . . . Just as the brain of Shakespeare was necessary to produce the famous plays, so prior information was necessary to produce a living cell.
- With the development of microbiology in the second half of the 20th century it became overwhelmingly clear that . . . biochemical systems are exceedingly complex, so much so that the chance of their being formed through random shufflings of simple organic molecules is exceedingly minute, to a point indeed where it is insensibly different from zero.
No matter how large the environment one considers, life cannot have had a random beginning. Troops of monkeys thundering away at random on typewriters could not produce the works of Shakespeare, for the practical reason that the whole observable universe is not large enough to contain the necessary monkey hordes, the necessary typewriters, and certainly the waste paper baskets required for the deposition of wrong attempts.The same is true for living material.
The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly-ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small. The idea of spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore highly improbable, even on the scale of the billions of years during which pre-biotic evolution occurred.
(Ilya Prigogine, G. Nicolis & A. Babloyants, Physics Today, vol. 25, Nov. 1972, 23)
It is generally agreed that atmospheric conditions on the primitive earth, especially the high flux of energetic ultra-violet rays, would destroy any form of life . . . Even if we were to accept the assumption that each of these reactions pre-existed in the "soup," the chance assembly of all of them into a functioning unit is inconceivable.
(John Keosian, The Origin of Life, 1968, 77-78)
It is sometimes argued in speculative papers on the origin of life that highly improbable events become virtually inevitable over the vast stretches of geological time. No serious quantitative arguments, however, are given in support of such conclusions.
(A.I. Oparin, Life: Its Nature, Origin, and Development, 1961, 31)
We must give up the idea that an organism could have been produced in the past, except by a similar pre-existing organism or by an agent, natural or supernatural, at least as intelligent as ourselves, and with a good deal more knowledge.
(J.B.S. Haldane, a leading evolutionist, in The Origins of Prebiological Systems and Their Molecular Matrices, ed. S.W. Fox, 1965, 12)
- When the probability of an event is below this limit, the opposite event may be expected to occur with certainty, whatever the number of occasions presenting themselves in the entire universe.
(Probabilities and Life, 1962, 28)
- Now another mystery interrupts the scientist's story. According to the fossil record, simple kinds of life appeared on the earth at some point during the first billion years of its existence . . . Either it was placed here by the Creator, or it evolved out of nonliving molecules in accordance with the laws of chemistry and physics. There is no third way; it must have been one or the other.
Scientists have no proof that life was not the result of an act of creation, but they are driven by the nature of their profession to seek explanations for the origin of life that lie within the boundaries of natural law. They ask themselves, "How did life arise out of inanimate matter? And what is the probability of that happening?" And to their chagrin they have no clear-cut answer, because chemists have never succeeded in reproducing nature's experiments on the creation of life out of nonliving matter.
(Robert Jastrow, The Enchanted Loom, 1981, 19)
How did a complex self-replicating organism evolve from an unorganized mixture of polymeric molecules? Little experimental evidence is available, so one is forced to attempt a speculative reconstruction of this phase in the origins of life.
(Leslie E. Orgel, The Origins of Life: Molecules and Natural Selection, 1973, 230)
The origin of life was necessarily the beginning of organic evolution and it is among the greatest of all evolutionary problems.
(George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution, rev. ed., 1967, 15)
There is no general agreement on the constitution of the primitive atmosphere nor on the mechanism of synthesis of organic compounds.
(John Keosian, The Origin of Life, 1968, 54)
There is a tremendous gap between this minimal organism, and an unorganized mixture of the simple molecules from which it was built up. How they came together, in a cooperative whole, we do not know. It is still a very long step from replicating proteins or nucleic acids, subject to natural selection, to the unique and complex cooperative system of proteins and nucleic acids that characterizes life as we know it. At the moment, we cannot guess how that step was taken.
(Colin Patterson, Evolution, 1978, 160)
The riddle seems to be: How, when no life existed, did substances come into being which today are absolutely essential to living systems yet which can only be formed by those systems? . . . All speculation regarding the origin of life is, of course, essentially an extrapolation.
(H. Blum, Time's Arrow and Evolution, 1968, 164, 168)
Thus there is a paradox. Both nucleic acids and proteins are required to function before selection can act at present, and yet the origin of this association is too improbable to have occurred without selection.
(T. Dobzhansky et al, Evolution, 1977, 359)
The gap between a rich organic environment with all the necessary precursors . . . and the simplest organized life, remains immense . . . It is difficult to visualize the steps by which they may have originated, because the various processes which occur in them are interdependent; none can function without the others.
(J. Butler, The Life Process, 1970, 185,188-189)
- Genetic changes underlie the evolution of organisms; mutations are the ultimate source of the genetic variation that makes possible the evolutionary process.
(Francisco Ayala & G.L. Stebbins, Science, 28 August 1981, 967)
The process of mutation is the only known source of the new materials of genetic variability, and hence of evolution.
(T. Dobzhansky, American Scientist, vol. 45, 1957, 385)
- Just as in a book misprints are more likely to produce nonsense than better sense, so mutations will almost always be deleterious, almost always, in fact, they will kill the organism or the cell, often at so early a stage in its existence that we do not even realize it ever came into being at all.
(John C. Kendrew, the Cambridge scientist who is a Nobel laureate for his discovery of the structure of the protein myoglobin, The Thread of Life, 1966, 106-107)
Natural selection has used mutations for building up well-integrated organisms. New mutations are likely to upset this balance and are therefore mostly harmful or lethal.
(Encyclopedia Britannica, 1967 ed., s.v. "Mutations")
- The real difficulty of Darwinism is the well-known problem of explaining an evolution which prima facie may look goal-directed, such as that of our eyes, by an incredibly large number of very small steps; for according to Darwinism, each of these steps is the result of a purely accidental mutation. That all these independent accidental mutations should have had survival value is difficult to explain.
(Sir Karl Popper, widely regarded as the foremost philosopher of science, Objective Knowledge, rev. ed., 1979, 269-270)
Neither Darwin, nor any Darwinian has so far given an actual causal explanation of the adaptive evolution of any single organism or any single organ.
(Sir Karl Popper, in "Evolution: Myth, Metaphysics, or Science?," John Little, New Scientist, 4 September 1980, 709)
A fact that has been obvious for many years is that Mendelian mutations deal only with changes in existing characters . . . No experiment has produced progeny that show entirely new functioning organs. And yet it is the appearance of new characters in organisms which marks the boundaries of the major steps in the evolutionary scale.
(H. Graham Cannon, The Evolution of Living Things, 1958, page unknown)
- . . . the most striking evolutionary change ever to be witnessed by man.
(The International Wildlife Encyclopedia, M. Burton & R. Burton, eds., 1970, 2706)
- The experiments . . . do not show evolution in progress, for however the populations may alter in their content of light, intermediate and dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston betularia.
(L. Harrison Mathews, Introduction to Darwin's Origin of Species, 1971 ed., J.M. Dent & Sons, London)
Are we justified in making the leap from gradual small-scale changes, like selection in peppered moths, or speciation in the galapagos . . . to large-scale results, like the existence of elephants and oak trees? Some evolutionists have felt unhappy about this.
(Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum, Evolution, 1978, 141)
- There seems to be no direct proof that evolution can work miracles . . . Is it possible that man, with his remarkable powers of intellect and spirit, has been formed from the dust of the earth by chance alone? it is hard to accept the evolution of the human eye as a product of chance; it is even harder to accept the evolution of human intelligence as the product of random disruptions of brain cells in our ancestors.
(Robert Jastrow, Science Digest, Dec. 1981, 87)
Development is the greatest mystery in biology, but we may need to understand its complexity in biolochemical detail before we can understand the alterations of ontogeny that are the history of evolution. the developmental how of evolution is largely unanswered because the mechanisms of development are so poorly understood.
(D.J. Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 1979, 182-183)
Studies of experimental mutation have not yet led to the understanding of naturally-occurring mutation.
(Edward & Peter Dodson, Evolution: Process and Product, 2nd ed., 1976, 276)
We still do not know the mechanics of evolution in spite of the over-confident claims in some quarters, nor are we likely to make further progress in this by the classical methods of paleontology or biology; and we shall certainly not advance matters by jumping up and down shrilling "Darwin is God and I am his prophet" . . . I have often thought how little I should like to have to prove organic evolution in a court of law.
(Errol White, Proc. Linnaean Soc. of London, vol. 177, 1966, 8)
- There is a great divergence of opinion among biologists, not only about the cause of evolution but even about the actual process. This divergence exists because the evidence is unsatisfactory and does not permit any certain conclusion. It is therefore right and proper to draw the attention of the non-scientific public to the disagreements about evolution. But some recent remarks of evolutionists show that they think this unreasonable . . . This situation, where scientific men rally to the defense of a doctrine they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigor, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by the suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and undesirable.
(Entomologist W.R. Thompson, Introduction to Origin of Species, New York, E.P Dutton, 1956 ed.)
A causal explanation can be given for past biological events. Yet such an explanation will often have to be so unspecific and so purely formal that its explanatory value can certainly be challenged. In dealing with a complex system, an explanation can hardly be considered very illuminating that states: "Phenomenon A is caused by a complex set of interacting factors, one of which is B." Yet often this is about all one can say.
(Ernst Mayr, Science, vol. 134, 1961, 1503)
Mutation can't create the immense amounts of useful information required for creative evolution. Even the exceptional mutations that have beneficial effects (like the human sickle-cell gene) do not involve the creation of new organs or capabilities. The developmental mutations on which you [Kenneth Miller, whom he is debating] rely are no exception. Most are harmful, and the few that are not only explain the loss of a structure, or its replacement by a pre-existing one in the same organism, never the emergence of a new complex organ. Adding natural selection to the mechanism doesn't help, because selective death only preserves what mutation has already created.
(Materialistic evolution critic Phillip Johnson [a lawyer, not a scientist], NOVA Online: "How Did We Get Here?" - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/odyssey/debate/deb08joh1209.html )
[Evolutionary theory is] one which cannot be refuted by any possible observations. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus outside empirical science but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. ideas, either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training. The cure seems to us to be . . . more skepticism about many of its tenets.
(L.C. Birch & P.R. Ehrlich, Nature, 22 April 1967, 352)
- If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down. But I can find out no such case . . . We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind . . . To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances . . . could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd to the highest degree . . . but the old saying of "Vox populi, vox Dei," as every philosopher knows, cannot be trusted in science. Reason tells me, that if numerous gradations from a simple and imperfect eye to one complex and perfect can be shown to exist, each grade being useful to its possessor, as is certainly the case; if further, the eye ever varies & the variations be inherited, as is likewise certainly the case; and if such variations should be useful to any animal under changing conditions of life, then the difficulty of believing that a perfect and complex eye could be formed by natural selection, though insuperable by our imagination, should not be considered as subversive of the theory.
(Charles Darwin, Origin of Species, ch. 6)
The eye either functions as a whole or not at all; it is either perfect or perfectly useless. How then, could it evolve by chance? Is it really possible, let alone plausible, that thousands of random mutations could have coincidentally evolved simultaneously to produce an organ which is a wonder of perfect synchronization? And nature abounds with such examples of amazing, mind-boggling coordination. For instance, the human brain has 12 billion cells with 120 trillion connections. Each neuron itself is marvelously complex, with six billion molecules of protein, 600 billion of RNA, and many unknown substances which somehow produce our "thoughts." The old argument from design (teleology) is now stronger and more compelling than ever.
- We are forced to admit that the eye was perfected and started to improve from the moment it enabled the animal to see, even though in a deformed and crude manner. But it only served this purpose after it had been optically constructed and linked by nervous cells to a sensitive optical center in the brain. How can we explain the simultaneous evolution of the elements necessary for vision as long as vision did not exist? The simple sensitivity to light of a particular region of the epiderm in no way explains the ultimate formation of the lens, of the iris, and of the retina.
(Lecomte du Nouy, Human Destiny, 1947, 96-97)
That damned eye - the human eye - . . . which Darwin freely conceded to constitute a severe strain on his theory of evolution. Is so simple a principle as natural selection equal to explaining so complex a structure as the image-producing eye? Can the step-by-step process of Darwinian evolution carry adaptation so far?
(Garrett Hardin, Nature and Man's Fate, 1961, 224)
The origin of such an organ as the eye . . . entirely at random seems almost infinitely improbable.
(George Gaylord Simpson, This View of Life, 1964, 18-19)
The eye appears to have been designed; no designer of telescopes could have done better. How could this marvelous instrument have evolved by chance, through a succession of random events?
(Robert Jastrow, Science Digest, Dec. 1981, 86)
- Of what possible use are the imperfect, incipient stages of useful structures? What good is half a jaw or half a wing? How could we ever construct an adult rhinoceros or a mosquito into something fundamentally different? . . . Yet transitions between major groups have occurred in the history of life.
(Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb, 1980, 189, 193)
- There are some features of plants and animals which can hardly be imagined as arising by gradual steps . . . For example, what use is a lens in the eye unless it works? What use are feathers unless they are "proper" feathers? What use is a lung that is half-developed, and cannot give you enough oxygen?
(Colin Patterson, Evolution, 1978, 142)
Darwinian assumptions are not needed for the day-to-day work of science. As I have shown in my book, if you look in the biochemical literature for scientific papers that try to explain how biochemical systems developed step-by-step in a Darwinian fashion, there aren't any. It's startling.To respond to a common criticism which objects to quotations of scientists, I cite scientists (and evolutionists, at that) because they carry much more authority on the matter than I do: a mere layman without all the training, technical knowledge and expertise that they have. Why should a scientist care about my opinion? It carries no weight whatever. This is common sense. But the critic of materialistic evolution who is a layman is betwixt and between: if we give our own opinions, it is stated (nicely, but firmly) that we are ignorant, misinformed, unacquainted with the latest findings which prove thus-and-so after all, guided by "extra-scientific" agendas, unfamiliar with the scientific method, and therefore not to be trusted in matters scientific. But if we cite scientists, then we get this accusation that we are quoting them out of context, implying that they disbelieve in evolution, engaging in a fundamentally improper and ultimately dishonest, deceptive methodology, not actually doing science, which we must do to enter into the discussion at all, and so forth. It's a catch-22.
There's a journal called the Journal of Molecular Evolution which is about 25 years old and has published over 1,000 papers since its inception. The journal publishes a lot about trying to determine which proteins, genes, and nucleic acids are related to which other ones by looking at their protein or nucleotide sequence. That may be interesting, and it may be a legitimate question in its own right, but comparing sequences simply can't tell you how these complex molecular machines came to be step-by-Darwinian-step. So essentially, over its 25- year history, the Journal of Molecular Evolution has completely avoided the real question of how the heck these extremely complex systems could have been put together.
So most scientists completely ignore evolution in their work, and the ones that think about it simply look for relationships and don't bother with Darwinism. Remarkably it has very little to do with the day-to-day work of science and serves pretty much as a philosophical underpinning which, in my opinion, is only inhibiting real research into how life developed.
(Biochemist Michael J. Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box, "The Evolution of a Skeptic": http://www.origins.org/real/ri9602/behe.html )
. . . the ability of a theory, here materialistic evolution, to supply "facts" to the true believer that the mere, neglected, primary data in no way warrant. The believer looks upon the most innocuous facts and sees in them a stunning confirmation of his theory, where a person who is not committed to the hypothesis sees irrelevant or, sometimes, hostile information. Thus the believer builds a great edifice of pseudo-knowledge which, like cotton candy, is spun from a little bit of
sugar and a lot of air.
(Michael J. Behe, "Darwinism: Science or Philosophy" - Chapter 10a; Response to K. John Morrow, Jr. - http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/fte/darwinism/chapter10a.html )
I have always stated that I am engaging in a primarily philosophical (but not religious) critique. I have never said I was a scientist, either. Scientific method, and the methodology of scientists writing monographs are two different things. I am saying that certain collections of propositions -- taken as a whole -- can lead one to certain conclusions, even if the ones who made the statements would deny the conclusions.
The same thing holds in theology and exegesis (and many other fields of study). E.g., Catholics might cite a Protestant Greek scholar or commentator with regard to Peter being the Rock (as opposed to his confession). Certain non-Catholic biblical scholars (in fact, many today) would agree with that. But they would disagree that this helps to establish an institutional papacy, etc. Is it therefore wrong to quote them? Of course not! They are cited with regard to that particular point, not the whole "Catholic ball of wax," so to speak. One builds a case, piece by piece.
Even when a scientist who criticizes current materialistic evolutionary theory, such as Michael Behe, speaks up, it isn't any different (because he is automatically regarded as a "heretic" who denies some of the dogmas): he is pilloried with the same old nonsense: that his true agenda is a desire to make a literal reading of Genesis required in every school (as a note of trivia: Behe is a Catholic, and Catholics virtually never take such a reading of Genesis, in the first place), that he is ignorant of true science, that he is a lackey of the young-earth, flat-earth, snake-handling biblical creationists, and so forth (as he has hilariously recounted some of the scientific "responses" to his research). Dogmatism and hostility to any criticism will prevail every time, which only goes to show that dogmatism and arrogance among materialistic scientists is alive and well.
As many philosophers of science have observed, the research community does not abandon a paradigm in the absence of a suitable replacement. This means that negative criticism of Darwinism, however devastating it may appear to be, is essentially irrelevant to the professional researchers. The critic may point out, for example, that the evidence that natural selection has any creative power is somewhere between weak and non-existent. That is perfectly true, but to Darwinists the more important point is this: If natural selection did not do the creating, what did? "God" is obviously unacceptable, because such a being is unknown to science. "We don't know" is equally unacceptable, because to admit ignorance would be to leave science adrift without a guiding principle. To put the problem in the most practical terms: it is impossible to write or evaluate a grant proposal without a generally accepted theoretical framework.
The paradigm rule explains why Gould's acknowledgment that neo-Darwinism is "effectively dead" had no significant effect on the Darwinist faithful, or even on Gould himself. Gould made that statement in a paper predicting the emergence of a new general theory of evolution, one based on the macromutational speculations of the Berkeley geneticist Richard Goldschmidt. When the new theory did not arrive as anticipated, the alternatives were either to stick with Ernst Mayr's version of neo- Darwinism, or to concede that biologists do not after all know of a naturalistic mechanism that can produce biological complexity. That was no choice at all. Gould had to beat a hasty retreat back to classical Darwinism to avoid giving aid and comfort to the enemies of scientific naturalism, including those disgusting creationists.
(Phillip Johnson, "What is Darwinism?": http://www.origins.org/pjohnson/whatis.html)
Eight years or so ago I came to the conclusion that Darwinian evolution was incapable of explaining data from my own field of biochemistry. I reached that conclusion on my own after studying the literature. But I was also isolated; none of my colleagues were talking about this . . .
Over the years I came into contact with other scholars who thought the same way I did. They encouraged me to think my ideas were legitimate; they said my ideas could be defended, and they agreed there was a significant problem that was being ignored. When you're alone, you just might be deluding yourself. But when you have colleagues, then you gain the confidence to really explore your ideas . . .
As a Roman Catholic I was always taught that God made life, and how He made it was up to Him. I was taught that the best scientific answer, so far, for how God made life was Darwinian evolution. That made sense to me, so I never gave evolution much of a thought. I was taught in my undergraduate years and graduate studies in biochemistry that all of these fantastically intricate systems that I was learning about were the result of Darwinian evolution. I had a thesis to complete, so I didn't think much about it.
However, in 1987 or so, I read Evolution: A Theory in Crisis by Michael Denton. It startled me because he said there were huge and unaddressed problems with evolutionary theory. In fact, there was a very good chance the theory was incorrect; it could not really describe how life came to be. When I read [Denton's] book, I got mad; I was upset because I realized much of my world view was not based on science, but rather on people saying, "Well, yes, this is the way it happened. Don't worry about it. Maybe you don't know how it happened, but somebody else does."
Well, reading Denton's book made me realize that nobody else knew about the problems. And from then on I became increasingly interested in it. I looked in my own field of biochemistry and in the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Molecular Biology and places like that for research that might say how these biochemical systems were gradually put together. I rapidly found out that there were no such papers. So, over time I developed the idea that in fact these systems
were the result of intelligent design.
I was fairly isolated for a while, but Phil Johnson's book came out and I read it, and liked it very much. Then one week in an issue of Science magazine I saw that there was a review of Johnson's book. I was very excited and thought, "Oh, this is great. They will have to address some of these issues, and we'll see what they have to say about it." I turned to the review, and it wasn't a review, it was simply a warning saying, "Uh oh. There's this anti-evolution book out there. Warn your students; it's confusing the public." And again I got pretty mad because they didn't address the substance of it. It was not even a dismissal, it was a warning. This is not what science is supposed to be about.
So I wrote a letter to the editor of Science pointing out that they should address the intellectual issues involved and not just dismiss something. Science published the letter and Phil Johnson saw it and wrote to me, and we began corresponding.
(Michael J. Behe, "Darwinism: Science or Philosophy" - Chapter 10a; Response to K. John Morrow, Jr. - http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/fte/darwinism/chapter10a.html )
The critics of my book have a remarkably similar reaction, varying in intensity depending on the personality of the people involved. The first reaction of most critics is to say, "Well, this is just thinly veiled creationism." And in reviews of my book by scientists they often speak about the first chapters of Genesis and the Arkansas Creation Trial, none of which I mention in my book. So they try to damn the book by association. They also do not see that there is a distinction between arriving at a conclusion simply from observation of the physical world, as a scientist is supposed to do, and arriving at a conclusion based on scripture or religious beliefs.
Additionally, the critics of my book have uniformly agreed that the biochemical systems I describe are enormously complex and currently unexplained, but they differ in their prescriptions. Some of them say, "Well, Darwinism will eventually explain this." Other people say, "Well, we don't know how it will be explained, but we'll come up with something in the near future." My reply is that the something that we can come up with in the near future is intelligent design theory. It is a perfectly legitimate scientific idea and there is no reason to avoid it.
An analogy I like to draw is to physics: many physicists were unhappy with the idea of a big bang because it seemed to have clear theological implications. Nonetheless, physicists embraced it as a legitimate scientific theory and built on it. I see intelligent design the same way; it may have religious implications but it's a clear scientific theory based solely on observations of biochemical systems that we should embrace and build on . . .
A public TV show named Think Tank was interested in setting up a debate between Dawkins [author of The Blind Watchmaker - Norton: 1986] and myself. They asked if I would be willing to participate, and I happily said yes. And they approached Richard Dawkins, but he refused to appear with me, saying he was insufficiently versed in biochemistry to address the issue. But then the TV show asked Dawkins to appear by himself on the show, which he did. During the interview, which I had an opportunity to see recently, the show host asked him about my book. He seemed to grasp the idea of irreducible complexity pretty well. However, he said it was cowardly and lazy of me to come to a conclusion of intelligent design, and he said that if I thought for myself I would realize that there must be a Darwinian explanation out there somewhere, and I should get off my duff and go out and find it.
Certainly Richard Dawkins is entitled to his strongly held opinions. But, in fact, from the evidence, I think intelligent design is the best explanation. And it's not a matter of whether I like the idea or not, or whether I like to sleep late and am lazy, rather it's that Darwinism is barking up the wrong tree and I think a better scientific explanation is design. I hope to meet with Richard Dawkins in the future, though.
Once we put God into the picture, however, there is no good reason to attribute the creation of biological complexity to random mutation and natural selection. Direct evidence that these mechanisms have substantial creative power is not to be found in nature, the laboratory, or the fossil record. An essential step in the reasoning that establishes that Darwinian selection created the wonders of biology, therefore, is that nothing else was available. Theism is by definition the doctrine that something else was available . . .
Of course, theists can think of evolution as God-guided whether naturalistic Darwinists like it or not. The trouble with having a private definition for theists, however, is that the scientific naturalists have the power to decide what that term "evolution" means in public discourse, including the science classes in the public schools. If theistic evolutionists broadcast the message that evolution as they understand it is harmless to theistic religion, they are misleading their constituents unless they add a clear warning that the version of evolution advocated by the entire body of mainstream science is something else altogether.
(Phillip Johnson, ibid.). . . Dr. Leslie Johnson asserts that "the theory is healthy," but the replies it gives to probing questions are those of a ninety-eight pound weakling . . . when detailed questions are asked about the origin of biological structures, proponents of the theory all too frequently resort to hand-waving and metaphor . . . Dr. Johnson is not atone in her style of argumentation: no one at this conference has argued the merits of Darwinism by pointing to a complex biological structure and explaining in detail how it arose from a simpler structure through the agency of natural selection. Instead we are implicitly invited to imagine such developments by means of fuzzy mental images, playing horror movie-like transmogrifications in our minds. This is the appeal of much of the "computer evolution" work that Dr. Johnson cites favorably: images can "evolve" like Dr. Jekyll on the computer screen without having to be tested for their ability to function in the real world.
But, then, if no one actually uses Darwin's theory to give plausible, detailed explanations for the origin of complex biological structures, what exactly is it good for? To use as a "framework," Dr. Johnson tells us. "Without evolution" descriptions of nature "would be as exciting as . . . telephone books." That may be true for Dr. Johnson, but it is not true for children visiting a zoo, it is not true for most laypersons, and it wasn't true for pre-Darwinian biologists like Linnaeus and
Cuvier. It is a dangerous intellectual game to confuse one's own mental filing cabinets for the real world.
(Michael J. Behe, Conference: Darwinism: Scientific Inference or Philosophical Preference? Held at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, March 26-28, 1992. Reply to Leslie K. Johnson -- http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/fte/darwinism/chapter6b.html)
Uploaded by Dave Armstrong on 5 June 2002 from previous materials. Slightly revised on 20 November 2002.