Copyright 2005 Rick Harrison
The Meyer-Jordan Problem: How to Originate Biological Information
Let me borrow for a moment Sir Fred Hoyle’s analogy of a tornado. A tornado, an example of a largely random and chaotic system (though not fully so), can move your car into your neighbors yard on a single day of bad weather (and smash it all up), but that does not mean that, given even four billion years to try, the weather will hit upon a pattern that will consistently take you to the office and back with punctuality, stop at the corner grocery three times a week thirty years running until you retire, and then begin dropping you off at the golf course, giving you a fifty yard boost on the par 5’s. You can send your measurements in to the PGA for the green jacket, but it “ain’t gonna” happen.
Reaching deep down into the limitless wells of wisdom and profundity their materialist philosophy is known to be blessed with, neo-Darwinists reassure us that the answer to life’s origin and evolution is simple: we just need more “tornadoes,” more random or chaotic events to throw the right pieces into the right places. This is what has been passing for evolutionary science! As a matter of the simple physical history of our universe, those tornadoes never occurred; the physical processes of nature have never been truly random.
Why do neo-Darwinists say an unthinkably improbable and astoundingly complex chain of accidents occurred to create and evolve life when they have nothing concrete to offset the known astronomical improbability (such as an actual biomechanical chain of events proving an accidental dynamic was involved)? Very simple: politics, and politics of the Marxist or atheistic materialist variety.
I don’t mean to impugn specific evolutionists and science authors by name. Much of the bias for neo-Darwinian evolution may come from a subconscious reflection of our culture having associated a pure scientific thought process with the materialist worldview. But the Marxist crusade for the minds of humanity is real, and there are those in and around science who do consciously serve that crusade.
There are also many who are unknowingly influenced or deceived by the propaganda Marxists have generated over the years. It is not my intent in this book to point fingers and say who is who (I don’t actually know), but simply to forewarn the reader: There is a war going on for the minds of the public. The threat of Marxist propaganda being inserted into current scientific discussions is quite real, and past discussions are heavily contaminated.
Artificially prolonging the life of the accidental theory of evolution is politically helpful to Marxists, who have for decades now clandestinely infiltrated mainstream science, at least with their thinking, if not with their persons. Marxists need accidental evolution to make the materialist worldview that underlies their political theory credible to the public, and they don’t mind (mis)using science to save their political philosophy. When the public throws out the theory of accidental evolution, Marxism pretty much goes with it.
This will seem to be an overstatement to students of philosophy who realize that the social-economic class warfare dynamic of Marxism doesn’t depend on accidental evolution. In theory, one could affirm the social-economic theory of Marxism and believe in intelligent design in biology, with or without God. But I am not speaking within the context of theoretical philosophy here. I am speaking of social dynamics initiated from the level of individual cognitive structures, dynamics that apply to people of the past four generations (who still live) who saw the argument for an atheistic-materialistic worldview in the theory of accidental evolution.
There is nothing in the social economics of class warfare to argue for atheism, only for God’s judgment of sinners who don’t care about the poor. What is there that really argues for the atheistic-materialistic component of Marxism if not accidental evolution? Marx’s social-political-economic philosophy doesn’t depend upon accidental evolution, but the atheism and materialism of his metaphysics do depend on it—and he didn’t offer his philosophy ala carte, as a pick this and leave that set of options; he offered dialectical materialism as an integrated worldview. A definitive refutation of the theory of accidental evolution stands to deprive classic Marxism of the bulk of its adherents, though some may elect to export Marxist social-economic theory into a worldview that is theistic, or at least God-neutral.
I am not making classic Marxists out to be the devil incarnate here, although the devil can afflict them as well as anyone else, particularly if they are not practicing their faith in God (which would protect them). Marxism is a theory based upon compassion for the poor and underprivileged, a theory of social justice; it is essentially Christianity without Christ. Some of the best Marxists will rival some of the best Christians in their compassion, asceticism, unselfishness, charity and willingness to sacrifice for others. This kind of Marxist will not be maliciously deceiving anyone. There may be other kinds of persons practicing Marxism, however, who aren’t so compassionate. Even the best Marxists will allow deception as an instrument to get the job done: all is fair while fighting in a good cause; the end justifies the means, etc.
You can find hardcore political criminals in Marxist communities (mainly in official Communist groups, or refugees therefrom) but most Marxists, at least initially, are just compassionate true believers. Intelligent Marxists may acknowledge the weight of current scientific data against accident as the primary architect of life, but, as true believers who are firmly convinced on doctrinal grounds that the world and life forms in it are accidental, they may irrationally expect the data trends to eventually reverse and vindicate their beliefs.
The problem for science is that compassionate true believers in anything can be so caught up in the passion of their beliefs that they subconsciously skew everything they perceive. Nothing contrary to their beliefs gets through the cognitive filters. In the case of Marxists, cognitive filters may cause them to evince a subconscious bias for materialism, and this prevents their properly evaluating the scientific evidence that has now accumulated against the accidental theory of evolution.
That is why I belabor the math of probability so much in this book. Accidental evolution has been disproved based upon probability standards that apply everywhere else in science. Neo-Darwinists are just playing a word game with the public to forestall the social awareness that there is an intelligent designer of our world. Once the astronomical complexity and improbability of life has been established there is nothing in future data trends that can conceivably make the theory of accidental life scientifically credible. There is no way to make living systems simple again once they have been shown to be ultra-complex—the trend is not going to reverse.
Neo-Darwinian evolutionists don’t necessarily endorse Marxism; perhaps none of them do; but Marxist-materialist philosophy has strongly influenced Western scientific culture. And there are plenty of real Marxist agents of influence out there trying to manipulate both the media and academia in favor of the Marxist worldview, though not as many as during the Cold War, and they are not necessarily operating under any official national government’s direction.
Marxists have an understandable fear of intelligent design theory. If God is real, of course, Marxism is false. True, in intelligent design theory the designer of life doesn’t have to be God, but ID theory does leave room for God. If science explicitly leaves room for God, Marxism isn’t thereby shown to be necessarily false, but it is shown to be premature, and it loses the enormous positive conceptual support that accidental evolution provides. If life is definitely an accident, then obviously there is no God, in which event Marxism stands to reap enormous benefits in credibility, worldwide prestige, and recruiting potential. If Marxists could just get the public to fully swallow the theory of accidental evolution and its ugly stepsisters, atheism and materialism, they would be home free.
This is the reason Marxists and those under their influence attack intelligent design theory with such vehemence, saying ridiculous things like it is religion and not science. Intelligent design theory has stepped up here in the last act of the drama about politicization of science to steal that final victory from them—just when they were getting so close to fooling us all.
What many readers may have forgotten since the Cold War has ended is that Marxism drives very radical, often cruel solutions to the problem of how to more efficiently re-engineer human society. Most people would hesitate to embark on such pogroms while serious doubt remains about the underlying atheist-materialist philosophy. One should be hesitant to embark on otherwise unnecessary wars and revolutions that will kill millions of innocent people or implement massive, cruel prison work projects and psychological reconditioning programs when the basis for those actions could be mistaken—and when God might severely disapprove (which he does).
Marxism needs accidental evolution to provide the psychological grounding for the radical action phase of their social reconstruction pogroms. Marxism may retain some armchair believers after the loss of accidental evolution, but Marxists need accidental evolution to get discussion group joiners out of their chairs in the philosophy colloquiums and into the streets for bloody revolutionary action; they need fully convinced revolutionaries to support cruel treatment of the populace after a Marxist state has come into being. They need science’s full support to change the talkers into walkers.
For the same reason, Marxist agents of influence functioning as authors, lecturers, news commentators, and book reviewers will continue to try to bluff the public into belief in accidental life even after the PhDs in the universities have moved on. It makes no difference to Marxist recruiters whether the scientific experts actually believe in an accidental world or whether the public merely thinks they believe it. This is where we are at today in the ideologically burdened struggle for or against politics-free evolutionary science.
In professional academic circles very nearly all evolutionary scientists admit that evolution was no accident. For all practical intents and purposes that position is now unanimous among scientists when writing in technical peer-reviewed scientific journals. Does the public know this? By and large, no, they don’t. In popular books on science where authors can mix materialist-atheist philosophy with science without incurring professional censure, the view that life originated and evolved from purely accidental processes in a purposeless world remains the dominant theme. It’s all horse manure, and it is not found in scientific journals and research studies.
Are there genuine scientific grounds for such views, given what science presently knows? No. The accidental worldview now runs starkly against the evidence, though in the day of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx the question was a toss-up at best, accidental life was still a plausible alternative. At that time the accidental view of life’s evolution garnered the lion’s share of legitimate scientific support. Things have changed.
When we closely examine the case for the accidental origin and evolution of life today, we see that the neo-Darwinist defense of accidental evolution has only reached the point of explaining the first simple event, the tornado putting your car in the neighbor’s yard. This correlates to the very limited influence that truly accidental genetic mutations are known to have on evolutionary change. The input of truly accidental mutations is negligible compared to the enormous amount of new biological information required to construct the tree of life. And these few truly accidental mutations are almost always destructive. When they are not destructive, such mutations can only achieve the most simple of alterations.
Darwin was dealing with largely undifferentiated goo as the primary attribute of cellular dynamics, whereas modern science is dealing with unthinkably complex mechanistic systems inside cells and intricately organized and regulated information systems. The two conceptions simply don’t compare.
In the popular books the neo-Darwinists verbally sidestep the truths of modern microbiology and genetics. The accidental worldview that Marxists must assume is now known to science to be wrong. Our universe is not founded on chaos; it is orderly—we know that. If it was not orderly, natural laws would not hold over the long term and we could not have science at all! We don’t have tornadoes at the microscopic and genetic levels of biology. True accident has had very little opportunity to alter biological systems. When it has, the result has been invariably harmful.
Nonetheless, neo-Darwinists ask us with effusive confidence to extend the capability of a purely destructive process so far as to give it the ability to achieve a masterpiece of organizational complexity. My answer to that is “No can do.” Such a thing has never been seen; the math doesn’t work; and we can’t show any biomechanical trail of randomly produced biological form variations extending through history that would demonstrate that such a great mathematical fluke actually occurred. Life is not an accident; next question.
Yes, on rare occasions the improbable does happen. But the only way an assertion that something highly improbable happened can be intellectually and scientifically defended is by demonstrating it with physical evidence. There are two parts to such a demonstration: 1) showing the biomechanical chain of events, and 2) showing that an accidental dynamic, randomness/chaos, was the major feature driving those events. This has not been done and the chance of science ever doing either of these things for the evolutionary process is effectively zero.
Henry Gee, noted paleontologist and evolutionary biologist, and a senior editor at the journal Nature, tells us that we are never likely to know the complete history of evolution. Much of the data concerning many plants and animals living and evolving during certain decades, centuries, and millennia is probably forever lost to science. Deducing all the miniscule genetic and microbiological changes within cells and cellular systems in each of those lost species that must have occurred to produce the path of evolution will remain forever out of our reach. We’ll be fortunate to eventually deduce the chain of biomechanical evolutionary events affecting species we do know about, and that task may itself be defeated by the absence of so many links in the chain that might have provided context and continuity—if not by sheer biological complexity.
Thus, when the neo-Darwinists exhort the rest of science and the public to hang on until more of the missing pieces are found, they are just “pulling our leg,” “playing with smoke and mirrors,” “selling us a bill of goods,” etc.—and badly damaged overly politicized goods they are. Ask the people in Missouri and Oklahoma if they think the solution to rebuilding their towns following an E-5 tornado is to wait for more tornadoes to come through and rebuild things better than ever. No; it “ain’t gonna” happen, no matter how long you wait. Still, the neo-Darwinists tell us to just hold on for future discoveries; “the check ’s in the mail.”
The bottom line on accidental evolution is that accidents break machines; they don’t make them. More tornadoes and lots of time is not the answer. That check isn’t coming.
It’s hard to beat Fred Hoyle, but let’s try another analogy to reinforce the point: baking a cake. This may be the perfect example to show the disparity between neo-Darwinian imagination and reality. Moms know it is hard to get a cake to come out right, but compared to the complexities of biology, cakes are child’s play.
It is easy to imagine the string of events that would produce an accidental cake. A lady returning from the grocer with a rip in her flour sack and hole in the shopping bag spills wheat flour in a puddle of water on the pavement on a scorching day near a trash dumpster where yeast mold has begun to grow. Some old beets lie fermenting amongst a pile of stale discarded sugar. (Sounds good already doesn’t it?) Next door, Dad throws out the remnants of some stale baking powder used to clean up pet odors. Things are rapidly falling right into place.
Next, a ten-year-old comes out to teach the seven-year-old neighbor to milk the pet goat in the exact same spot as the flour spill. While digging their grubby little fingers into a can of cocoa surreptitiously borrowed from Mom’s kitchen counter, another two, younger siblings, spill some cocoa into the milk while shuffling around in the other ingredients. The sun moves further up into the sky and begins to shine directly through a broken 8” X 10” magnified reading lens for the sight-impaired that Grandma has placed on top of the overfull trash bin. This creates an area of intense heat around the mess of ingredients on the ground. Half an hour later, Walla Booby! Chow time! The cake is ready! Um, Um, Umh! Accidental evolution has definitely been “proved” here, right? No.
It takes more than an imaginary story about a process that is so much simpler than the evolution of life that all the zeros in the number describing the difference wouldn’t fit in this book. And this, by the way, is the quality of organism you would get from an accident if you could get one at all. But you can’t get one by accident because living organisms are trillions upon trillions upon trillions of times more complex than cakes—or rock mountains, if you read Dawkins.
Yes, rock mountains are trivially “complex,” but they are not functionally, irreducibly, and interdependently complex. Accident can make a rock mountain with 3 billion points of curvature in its component rocks a whole lot easier and faster than it can make a human being with a 3 billion nucleotide genome. The odds of the one thing happening by accident are astronomically different from the odds of the other happening by accident. Rocks with irregular faces have a lot of detail in their surface shapes, but this is a trivial kind of complexity compared to living biology.
Rock mountain components only have to fulfill a single function: be strong enough to endure random jostling until the component rocks all find the point of gravitational, lateral, and centrifugal force vector equilibrium. There are no moving parts in rock mountains; the mess of stone just has to sit there!
Genome complexity in terms of the simple number of nucleotides doesn’t even scratch the surface of life’s full complexity. At a minimum the properties of each biotic molecule, including and especially astronomically complex proteins, that are relevant to chemical reactivity inside the body have to be considered before we even consider the complexity of the brain, nervous system, and immune system. How many rock mountains or garbage cakes can do nuclear physics, play the violin, paint, love their friends, family and God, or reproduce?
“But wait!” the neo-Darwinists are likely to say; “we just need to expand the cake story to account for additional complexity.” And so they begin an additional imaginary narration, perhaps something like the following.
It seems that something is going on back in the neighborhood where the kids are accidentally making a dumpster cake. Lo and behold, who has inadvertently misread his car’s electronic mapping system after being diverted by an accident on the way to a lecture and turned up at the very spot in the nick of time for an accidental lunch and dessert? You guessed it: a committed neo-Darwinist, a noted professor of evolutionary biology.
He sits there chewing some genetically modified gum, anticipating the upcoming playoffs, never doubting that his diversion in traffic will produce lunch accidentally. In a few moments the traffic mess that his stalled car has produced generates precisely that, an accident. A bicyclist riding against traffic is hit by an impatient motorist trying to beat the jam. He flies over the handlebars and lands, miraculously unhurt, but his bagged deli lunch flies into the air and lands perfectly in the evolutionist’s lap as he sits in the opposite lane oblivious to the fact that the light has turned and insurance premiums are going up all around him.
Not seeing the bicycle crash due to texting random numbers on his phone in an attempt to accidentally step into a major advance of his academic position, and having no idea where the food came from, he has no choice but to write it off to the good fortune that one can inevitably expect from an accidental world. Constructive accidents happen all the time. After all, the accidental theory of evolution tells us that more has happened from less—much more.
The missed turn that follows the chaotic entanglement at the intersection puts our evolutionist, you guessed it, into the kid’s alley where the inadvertent baking experiment is in progress. No problem, he thinks; a few wrong turns are to be expected. Well, what’s thaaaat!? Dessert, naturally…. Yum, yum. End of story; accidental evolution proved!
Yes, all this could happen, in theory, though not often and not to a high standard of quality. But is it a reasonable scientific expectation that it will happen, and more to the point, should we expect it will happen trillions of trillions of times in closely orchestrated sequence as is required to produce complex life? No. It is not reasonable, and it is not scientifically defensible.
Should we find a truly flawless cake sitting in the parking lot, will this dumpster-kid-bake scenario qualify as our best scientific theory of how to explain the existence of that cake? Of course not. Who would believe it? And a cake only involves a handful of ingredients manipulated over a single round of processing, not a hundred thousand ingredients processed for trillions of rounds, requiring a painfully precise recipe extending into hundreds of books. That is what life requires, not a rare garbage cake in the alley.
Each advance in the evolution of the tree of life requires a substantial jump in biological information. It requires another origination event. As a biologist friend of mine, Gary Jordan, explained to me some years ago, stirring my initial interest in this subject, neo-Darwinian evolution has no explanation for any of these origination events (including the creation of first life). The neo-Darwinian theory of accidental evolution cannot explain the creation of new complex increments of meaningful biological information, except as mathematical flukes so extreme as to be dismissible as a scientific explanation.
With each origination event, as Professor Michael Behe reminds us, there must also be an integration event that matches up the new feature produced by the new information to a highly complex system of very closely matched interdependent parts and precisely synchronized functions. Unless the integration work is simultaneously done, or has been previously done, the origination event is wasted. How would an accident ever achieve all of this in real evolutionary time? The math says it would never happen, not within the remotest bounds of scientific credibility.
Now we see why Stephen Meyer titled his controversial paper, “The Origin of Biological Information….” Meyer and Dembski et al. began jointly working at least indirectly on this biological information problem and other aspects of intelligent design theory in 1993 (and individually perhaps earlier). They have since published work confirming the problem that Jordan presciently identified to me circa 1998, and Sir Fred Hoyle, way ahead of all of them (despite being an atheist), spotlighted in 1981 in his article, "The Universe: Past and Present Reflections." Engineering and Science, November, 1981 on page 11. Lane P. Lester and Raymond G. Bohlin raised the same problem of Neo-Darwinian evolution having no explanation of the origination of biological information in their fascinating book, The Natural Limits to Biological Change, published by Zondervan/Probe in 1984.
These origination events are the key to the explanation of life (at least one of the keys), both in the event of abiogenesis and in events of macroevolution. The dilemma of how to originate complex meaningful biological information in real evolutionary time is a showstopper for the neo-Darwinian theory of accidental evolution. The classic evolutionary theory of Darwin, Mayr, Dawkins and the other neo-Darwinists who say that God or intelligent design is not needed to explain life can now be seen to have failed on this one key criterion: how to explain the origin (and integration) of the complex and task-specific (specified) biological information required by the historically documented timeline of macroevolution.
Events of macroevolution require a large series of wide-ranging yet closely managed genetic changes, each change generally requiring an entire set of genes to be altered simultaneously or very nearly so. These genome changes have to match up to corresponding changes in the microtubule networks in the walls of reproductive cells. Our best guess at the moment is that the management functions requisite to closely orchestrating these changes were somehow embedded in the developmental and transpositional genomes. But it may be more complex than that—perhaps much more complex. Part of the management system could be hidden at subatomic level within the interactive proclivities of biomolecules, and the entirety of the biotic side of evolution might have to be coordinated with minute changes in the abiotic physical environment including the magnetic field properties of molecules and atoms, reaching perhaps even to the subatomic level.
In an Annual Review of Genetics article, Scott Gilbert and his co-authors say that the emerging synthesis in evolutionary biology is that the classic Darwinian model for macroevolution that says that population dynamics can explain macroevolutionary events has failed. A new dynamic is being invoked by a more robust theoretical model that posits special segments of the developmental genome, called “morphogenetic fields,” as the primary source of macroevolution.
While this hypothesis may have identified one of the primary hotspots for genome self-transformations in terms of physical location within living systems, it does not explain how viable macroevolution is successfully achieved against super-enormous odds without there being a management system in place to coordinate thousands of interdependent biological changes in real time. While we don’t know how many or what kinds of additional directional elements may be embedded in nature that would focus the result more or less specifically towards the evolution of the tree of life, we do know that those directional elements must be there somewhere. The math tells us that.
We now know life is not an “accident.” What remains to be shown is to what extent it was “on purpose;” precisely what kind of “purpose;” from where, who, or what that purpose originated; and where purpose entered into and interacted with physical systems to influence natural systems development over the course of history.
The neo-Darwinists’ rhetorical propaganda campaign has painted a picture of intelligent design theory that is the opposite of the truth. The Church doesn’t need intelligent design theory to make its belief in God compatible with known features of our world. God, in theory, could use even an accidental process to create; God doesn’t need to be in a hurry. The main impetus pushing intelligent design theory is a concern for scientific integrity, not religion.
Yes, men and women of faith are concerned that Marxist interference in science has harmed religion by distorting the import of the scientific data so that it seems to argue against God. But that same interference has harmed science too. Intelligent design authors and scientists who have a Christian faith are certainly trying to solve the first problem, but preservation of scientific integrity is also a legitimate problem for science to solve.
The ID movement is not a push for religion to replace science, but a push to restore integrity to science. It is a crusade against allowing the pseudo-religion of Marxist, atheist, and materialist philosophy to masquerade as science. It is a push to get the Marxist-materialist political contamination out of modern evolutionary science and return science to an objective assessment of the logical import of the empiric data.
This is a good place in the discussion to mention the other deception that Marxist-materialist-neo-Darwinist propaganda artists are perpetrating against the public. They say that intelligent design theory is Creation Science, which it is not in the sense typically understood by the public and the originators of Creation Science. Creation Science is a school of thought that uses the Bible’s account of creation in Genesis as an authoritative foundation for the science of life’s creation. Intelligent design theorists (most of them) do not do that; they keep religion separate from science. They also allow that the scientific data does not require the designer of life to be God; it could be any form of higher intelligence at all, including ET.
Intelligent design theory is not Creation Science. It might in the common language sense of creation theory be a form of creation theory because it asserts that life had a creator, but Charles Darwin said the same thing. Intelligent design theory does not use the Bible as a science book and does not employ religious authority of any kind in its arguments. Intelligent design theory is strictly a science-based approach to explaining the origin and evolution of life, an approach that says the scientific data suggests intelligent design as a driving force in life’s creation and evolution.
If science is ever to be able to competently address the question of the presence of absence of evidence for design in nature it is crucial that it be able to distinguish what is a religious claim from what is not a religious claim. Consider: to say that the information content in natural law is inadequate to explain the information content in DNA and other features of complex biological machines, as Dr. Stephen Meyer does, is not to say that God exists; it is simply to say that there is a mismatch between the information capacities of the two systems. That is a scientific, not a religious claim. To find a computer and assert that some intelligent person must have made it is not to practice religion but common sense.
William Dembski has spent three good long books (The Design Inference, The Design Revolution, and No Free Lunch) teaching us why the design inference is good science. There is nothing of religion in his argument. He doesn’t deny his own personal faith, but would we respect him more or less if he did? And, lest we forget, Christian men and women of science were responsible for most of the major advancements in science through history.
Most modern ID theorists simply say that life qualifies as a highly sophisticated machine and that all such machines have designers. Both claims are properly scientific, and, on the surface at least, apparently true. Yes, I put the supernatural claim back in Part 2 to form what I call a Judeo-Christian-Islamic God theory, but even there the supernatural element occurs only as a conclusion derived from logic and scientific data, not as a premise justified by religious authority. Most versions of ID theory have no supernatural elements at all. They are both valid science and convincingly supported.
With the known exception of my own JCIG theory presented in Part 2, most modern forms of intelligent design theory make no religious claims. They don’t assert who the designer is, only that there must be one. Although William Paley couched his watchmaker argument in terms of God’s existence, over the past few decades, mathematician William Dembski, philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, and molecular biologist Michael Behe, et al., have formally proposed intelligent design theory in a more generalized way that leaves the question of who the designer is completely open. Mainstream modern ID theorists explicitly disavow making any claim that God must be the designer (or any other religious claim). Here in Part 1 I have presented a version of intelligent design theory that does the same thing (no religious elements).
So, beware propaganda artists at work. You will find them in particularly rabid form among the anonymous contributors to Wikipedia articles about intelligent design authors and intelligent design theory. In those articles the claim is frequently made that intelligent design theory is Creation Science and that intelligent design theorists are trying to sneak religion into science. Even a federal court has been deceived by this kind of verbal subterfuge.
Yes, intelligent design authors have religious backgrounds; they are men and women of faith. But so have most of our famous scientists through history been men and women of faith. (NOTE: The usual disclaimer applies here. The authors of incorrect statements about intelligent design theory in Wikipedia articles are not necessarily Marxists; they may only be mimicking/mirroring the Marxist-influenced line of thinking that has taken hold in scientific circles.)
Yes, some of the intelligent design theory authors have had a prior interest in Creation Science, as I have had myself. But I have moved on from that scientific mistake to support a better theory that properly comports to scientific method and keeps religion out of science: intelligent design theory.
As a Catholic I subscribe to the Church’s teaching that the Bible is not intended to be a science book and that the integrity of scientific data and method must be preserved from contamination from either religion or atheist-materialist philosophy, allowed to go where it may. Some forms of intelligent design theory, such as I propose here in Part 1 of this book, do that, while other versions of intelligent design theory may try to keep some religious elements.
For the sake of integrity in science we need to scrupulously keep those different versions separate from each other. My apologies if the next remark tends to confuse new students of the subject. In this book I appear to have proposed one theory of each type, ID theory without God (in Part 1) and ID theory with God (in Part 2). That is true, but my ID theory with God that I propose in Part 2 does not bring religion in to compromise scientific method; it only says God is a reasonable conclusion to draw from the scientific data using scientific method broadened to include the methods used in the social sciences as well as the natural sciences. To distinguish the two versions, I call the theory in Part 2 Judeo-Christian-Islamic God Theory (JCIG Theory), and the theory in Part 1 simply intelligent design theory.
Again, for the sake of clarity, in JCIG Theory, scientific method and integrity is preserved; religious doctrine is not permitted to interfere with the scientific process. God is merely a conclusion drawn from scientific data and logical inference. JCIG Theory doesn’t tell you how to live or how to think or that the Bible should dictate your views on evolutionary science. It tells you that if you think, if you think carefully about the scientific data, you will see that the existence of God is a reasonable conclusion to draw.
Members of the science-literate public have to step up and reclaim their intellectual autonomy. For too long the public has been cowed by the neo-Darwinian argument from scientific authority, an argument that has had no real evidential support beyond expert opinion.
Let’s All Go to the Library!
Since neo-Darwinian scientists cannot make a convincing scientific case for an accidental world, they employ rhetorical assaults instead. Oh, they sound convincing—on the surface—but the neo-Darwinian argument is based upon wordplay, not upon thorough analysis of the data. Neo-Darwinian arguments are inevitably seen to fail when closely examined.
The appendix to this book on 100 Fallacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution, a book in itself, provides more than ample proof if you have any doubts. (This appendix is currently down for revision. It is so large it will likely evolve into a separate book—but not by accident.)
For example, neo-Darwinists point to the reorganization of existing genes via biological machinery as evidence of an accidental system having no designer. But they do this without first explaining how an accidental process could have produced those genes, genomic systems, and life forms that protect them in the first place. Why begin a theory of mainstream science at step two when it is already known that step 1 is a complete failure? Merely assuming all the hard parts and leaving them unexplained is not science; it is a cheap political trick.
Yes, some statistical studies of imaginary populations of animals tell us how some minor variations might be achieved over time by random gene mixing and mutation. In all likelihood this much could actually happen, though there is little documentation of real cases. However, this does not tell us how to produce macroevolutionary change resulting in radically different body plans, major new features, functions, and biological systems.
Since the origination of the genomes and larger living systems have not been explained, even if some macroevolution of major biological form and function variations could be shown to have occurred by accident after the larger work of creating self-transformational genomic systems was done, there would be no reason to call the overall event of the creation of the tree of life accidental. To be justified in calling life an accident, science must first demonstrate how to produce by accident all the requisite foundational systems that preceded those “accidental” macroevolutions.
Perhaps a literary analogy will help to understand the flaw in the neo-Darwinian argument here. The neo-Darwinian habit of grossly overstating the implications of reproductive mixing of genes corresponds to a librarian randomly moving books around in the library and then inanely claiming there are no authors of the books because the superficial reorganization of the library was random. Is that the standard of logical quality we should demand from highly touted flagship theories of science? The great philosophers of science such as Sir Karl Popper and Ernest Nagel are probably turning over in their graves, may God rest their kindly souls.
Even if chapters or much smaller sections of books were to be juggled, let’s say in a computer’s electronic files, the meaningful units being moved around and the overall interpretive system are not thereby shown to be an accident—we still know there is an author of those complex meaningful segments of writing. Likewise, the mere fact that bodily systems move meaningful units of genetic information around in what presently appears to be a largely random fashion does not demonstrate that the larger living bodily systems, those meaningful genetic units, and the tripartite genomic system that interprets them are of accidental origin.
One can design a program and intentionally structure it in such a way that after it is intelligently built to specifications it will then periodically re-organize certain of its own components using random transpositional routines—a self-modifying robotic system. Such a robot should not be considered an accidental creation merely because one of its systems is set up to periodically do an internal re-organization.
Robotic assembly lines are used in heavy manufacturing. They can be reconfigured to produce a variety of different products, or somewhat different varieties of the same product. This reconfiguration can itself be automated. In theory, programming these variations of product configuration can be randomized as well. The robot begins making economy cars in June, then luxury sedans in October, and SUVs the other ten months, etc. If we randomized car production in this way, would it mean the entire process was an accident? Of course not.
Intelligently designed systems can survive some randomization of some components and still accomplish an intelligently selected purpose (such as life). Randomization may even be an advantage in certain cases, such as in aiding the creature to adapt to a changing environment. Moving “books” around in the genetic libraries of life, even if done randomly, doesn’t disprove purpose or design because the larger purpose of maintaining a continuing tree of life remains unthwarted, and new secondary purposes are enabled: survival via adaptation, artistic variation, production of new or more complex life forms via evolution, etc.
Moving books around does not obviate the need for authorship, and accidental processes are, to coin a phrase, “punch-poor” authors. They are very little better as editors. Taking the kindergarten class to the nation’s rare book museums, blindfolding them, and turning them loose with crayons will not improve the masterpieces on the shelves. Similarly, in the highly sophisticated and finely tuned designs of living systems, truly random, that is, accidental genetic change can only cause cell, organ, system and structural degradation, inefficiencies, injuries, or death—at least in real evolutionary time.
As in the case of the rare book library, productive results from random alterations, although assumed by modern science to be theoretically possible (over nearly infinite time), have been demonstrated to occur so rarely in practice as to be dismissible—and we certainly have not had nearly infinite time.
As Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby knew, children can teach us a lot. The net result of continuing unsupervised visits by grades K-1 to the library would be rapid degradation of the library irrespective of the one rare crayon that finds its mark to make the period at Romeo’s kiss an exclamation point. Thirty years hence, half of Shakespeare’s soliloquies, love scenes, and dramatic murders would be overwritten with X’s and O’s, an occasional flower, happy face, or stick man.
Stickmen and happy faces will never combine to form a Shakespearean sonnet; they can only trivially modify one. This is what the observed and documented evidence of presumed to be accidentally spawned gene mutations has amounted to so far: trivia. Despite the neo-Darwinists loudly reassuring everyone for decades that accidental evolution is an unquestionable fact, “stickmen” and “happy faces” are really all we have! We need intelligent authorship to explain the libraries of life.
But Doesn’t Intelligent Design Require a Perfect World? No.
Despite what some neo-Darwinist authors of popular science books would have us believe, an intelligent designer of life need not have perfection (immediate or long-term) in mind for his or her physical creations on this Earth. Similarly, an intelligent designer of life on Earth need not require full control of events, stasis in biological form, or maximum physical efficiency, and he or she need not insist on micromanaging the evolutionary process. The goal may merely be the evolution of a tree of life much as we have seen it, a goal that does not worry the details a lot, allowing for some flexibility in how it’s all done.
This is obviously true if the designer is the Christian God, who is not creating paradise here, but shepherding his human children between a prior paradise lost through our own faults (Eden) and the new paradise to come in a future world. Physical imperfections may even be a “necessary evil” to facilitate justice, punishment, penance, rehabilitation, conversion, healing, and renewal.
No one expects a criminal rehab facility to be a luxury hotel, but the neo-Darwinists are apparently oblivious to all mankind’s faults and sins despite the newspaper headlines. They insist that God could have no reason for creating an imperfect intermediate world, and no reason for using an imperfect physical process (though all of God’s important goals are spiritual, not physical). Physical imperfections are generally irrelevant to achievement of spiritual goals, and they may even facilitate the achievement of spiritual goals.
Obviously, a literary critic would be premature to evaluate an intermediate draft of a book as if it were the final product. The Catholic Church teaches that life is a work still in progress, yet the neo-Darwinists insist that, if there were an intelligent designer, things would have had to have been perfect here on Earth and from the very beginning. There is nothing that obligates this point of view. Christianity is the obvious counterexample. In the Christian worldview, humanity fell from paradise and our world was cursed because of that fall, becoming much less perfect than it initially was due to the curse. Even if we grant the neo-Darwinist narrow view that an intelligent designer must always desire a “perfect” product, we must still allow that the designer might elect to impose imperfection as a punishment upon a creation that was in fact previously created perfect.
By inducing difficulties, trials, burdens, and hardships, physical imperfections can encourage self-discipline and strength of will, and promote spiritual advancement through suffering. Tragedy can revive compassion in a dying soul. If the purpose of our world is to be an intermediate one, a rehab center between two paradises, as the Church teaches, it need not be physically perfect so long as it facilitates spiritual growth and the harvest of souls in Final Judgment, which then leads to the paradise neo-Darwinists say we should have been given already if there was a God.
But God doesn’t have to be a materialist! He can make us wait for paradise until we demonstrate that we deserve it, and then deliver it in the spiritual dimension. Is it reasonable to expect a good God would give paradise to evil people? The gift of paradise need not be immediate as the neo-Darwinists insist; it can be delayed until it is deserved.
Neo-Darwinists make another philosophically indefensible assumption. Their arguments imply that if God’s creatures are living in any world the design implementation of that world must necessarily be complete as of the first instant the world appears; they dismiss the possibility that it could still be under construction for extended periods of time, also dismissing the possibility of any God-created world being imperfect or intermediate. How do atheists become such incontrovertible experts on God?
In opposition to that view, the Church teaches that one may consider the entirety of God’s works, to include Eden (the initial paradise humanity was evicted from), this present world, and the perfect world that God creates after Final Judgment, as elements of a single act, a three-part creation that is presently still in progress. Yes, a good God would create a paradise, and in the Catholic view we are moving towards it even now, the ultimately perfect world that God presents after Judgment. But why does God have to play by neo-Darwinian, Marxist, atheist, and materialist rules? Why does he have to give evil people paradise before they consent to reform? Obviously, he doesn’t.
The Church in this world offers a path of spiritual therapy, permitting healing and growth for a fallen humanity—more than that, really: it offers, rebirth, recreation. Souls perfected through the grace of God in his Church can then, through the merits of Christ, attain admittance into paradise when it finally arrives. Against the backdrop of these monumental spiritual goals and dynamics the physically imperfect details of evolutionary pathways are seen to be either fully irrelevant to God’s purposes or supportive of them.
Thus, the neo-Darwinian argument against cosmic purpose, that this world would have to be immediately perfect with no flaws, evil, or suffering in it if there were a good God, is merely circular or question-begging materialist philosophy. It is not scientific evidence, and it is an invalid objection taken as philosophy of religion. It also denies the evidence of our eyes and ears (the daily news headlines) that proclaim humanity is a morally fallen race, a race that needs healing and redemption—and, yes, some punishment—prior to regaining paradise. Neo-Darwinists are terrible philosophers, but, oddly, they only seem to make mistakes in one direction: in favor of materialism.
In propounding such naïve arguments, neo-Darwinists evince no awareness of what it means to sin, as if they were completely oblivious to the possibility. This is a strong indication of the influence of Marxist thinking, for in the worldview of atheist-materialism bad human behavior is not considered a freely chosen act of moral crime, but an imperfection in the behavioral conditioning of the human animal (as in dog training).
Let’s try an analogy. The neo-Darwinian argument against God and intelligent design based upon the imperfections of this world is like denying the talent of a great writing instructor because he or she has not corrected the flaws in his students’ poor compositions after they blatantly disregarded the rules and techniques properly presented to them in class of their own free will. The writing instructor is not the author of those flawed literary productions; the wayward students are the authors.
In the Christina worldview, God is not the author of the flaws in the present creation in the sense that they were his original goals or the best he could do; the flaws in our world are a just punishment for humanity’s prior sin, and a consequence of our present sins. Thus, using the Christian worldview as a counterexample, we see that it is not always the case that temporary imperfection in a creation proves lack of intelligent design.
Does Natural Selection Impact This Discussion Either Way?
Not really. In a changing world the effects of natural selection are unavoidable. This remains true whether the world is accidental or of intelligent design. The fittest will always excel; they will win direct physical competitions and have greater reproductive prowess.
Natural selection occasionally vetoes a proposed evolutionary change that mismatches the environment, but that is not a problem for an intelligent designer with the kinds of goals the Christian God is said to have. Like a literary critic, natural selection can occasionally give thumbs down to a “book,” but this does not mean there was no author of that book. New writers quickly discover that many books never find an audience; they don’t sell, but they still have intelligent authors, just not sales-savvy ones. In the case of evolution non-sellers may be evolutionary building blocks, stepping stones, or just unintended events that fall within the parameters of variation the tolerable to the designer. Neo-Darwinists fail to consider that perhaps the author of the genetic books of life has a larger concept in mind, a long term effort still in progress, and spiritual goals that don’t demand physical perfection.
The presence of a quality control production line foreman for laptop computers who rejects dysfunctional computers does not eliminate the need for an electrical engineer to design the computer. Similarly, intelligent design remains necessary to solve the problem of how to author life’s books despite the occasional design veto by natural selection. Natural selection only solves the problem of how to get rid of the lower quality “books,” biological forms that may or may not have had a legitimate prior use as a building block for the evolution of the tree of life, and the problem of how to get rid of biological designs that no longer match current environmental requirements.
But natural selection can’t do it all. Beyond the creation of first life, intelligent design is also needed to accomplish significant ultra-complex revisions, to improve the text in complex ways that are statistically unavailable to an accident, even an accident assisted by natural selection.
Theories of evolutionary science, to provide a genuine explanation of life, must solve all three of these problems, authorship, revision, and rescission, not just how to veto unwanted books once written (rescission). When life was presumed to be very simple, the team of accident and natural selection seemed to be a plausible answer to all three problems. Since science has discovered vastly greater complexity in living systems it has become clear that accident plus natural selection is a grossly inadequate solution to the first two tasks.
When natural selection votes it “says” fairly simple things like: “too weak for the predator community,” “insufficient offspring to ensure species survival,” “too slow,” “too stupid,” “wrong food preference,” “poor food access because beak is too small,” “insufficient insulation from the cold,” etc., or perhaps some combination of these things. Natural selection doesn’t write millions of interdependent books; it only critiques sets of books after they compete with other books and bounce off the requirements of their current living environment. It’s basically just a “go” or “no go,” pass or fail concept. Natural selection preserves the good “books” on a best-sellers list, but without an intelligent author and publisher there is nothing to preserve.
In biology, natural selection does help to preserve the best libraries after they have once been achieved. But if blindfolded children are the only authors in the entire system, how many masterpieces will be proposed for preservation? In our modern era of genetics and microbiology, to say that biological libraries were constructed by accident is simply nonsense. It is not only Art Linkletter’s children who say the darnedest things; neo-Darwinian evolutionists say them as well!
“Random” in Evolutionary Science Does Not Mean “Accidental”
In the professional academic arena the theory of a truly accidental evolutionary process has long been abandoned, but it will be the rare member of the general public who knows it. This is because the word “random” keeps coming up in the evolutionary discussions even today.
However, in modern evolutionary texts “random” is merely used to disavow a connection between mutations and a creature’s current environmental conditions. It doesn’t imply completely accidental construction of the tree of life; it only denies that mutations are divinely ordained real-time tune-ups. This is because few mutations are beneficial to a creature in its present environmental niche. The term “random mutation,” then, only means that changes produced by mutation show no statistically significant preference for what a creature needs to optimize its design in regards to its current living environment.
While this shows that any intelligent designer is not micromanaging evolution to standards of perfection from the creature’s point of view, it does not show our world or the life forms in it to have been created by accident. From the spin neo-Darwinists apply to some of their popular books, however, you would think the occurrence of such “random mutations” proved the accidental creation of life.
True, some of Darwin’s own comments suggest that he actually believed that mutations in the stronger, purely accidental, sense were responsible for evolution. Despite this, Darwin once commented that evolution was probably the inevitable result of some natural law. Having natural law drive the process of evolution would take away the accidental nature of the overall process while still allowing substantial randomness to occur within certain guiding and protective constraints. Darwin’s strong view of randomness in mutations (if in fact he held such a view) and Hugo de Vries’ similar concept of naïve mutationism, however, have long been abandoned. Science has established that externally induced point mutations caused by toxic or radiological exposures are not constructive and make no significant input to evolutionary change.
This is not surprising considering the enormous complexity of biological systems science has discovered since Darwin’s time. Consider this excerpt from the abstract of an excellent recent article in the journal Genomics.
The genome in a higher organism consists of a number of types of nucleotide sequence-specialized components, with each having tens of thousands of members or elements. It is crucial for our understanding of how a genome as an entity is organized, functions, and evolves to determine how these components are organized in the genome and how they relate with each other; however, no such knowledge is available.
The authors, Wu, Wang, and Zhang, go on to describe the interactive genomic system of a basic plant. In addition to a number of structural components, the genomic system of the plant they examined, Arabidopsis thaliana, includes 31 types of genes having different functions and different numbers of functions, retrotransposons, and DNA transposons, as well as simple and complex DNA sequence repeats, all these periodically affected by events of recombination as well as nucleotide substitutions, deletions, and insertions.
This article reveals that transformation of the genomes is not accidental in the stronger more traditional sense of “random” used by Darwin. (This is my conclusion, not the authors.’) While some random elements remain in the genome transformation process, the larger process is highly constrained. It occurs within a living machine that governs, shepherds, preserves, and protects. It is driven by a very complex system of base information, closely managed by genetic quality control systems, and constrained further by physical control systems. There are no tornadoes here.
Hence, the move of modern evolutionists away from the term “accidental” to the philosophically much weaker term “random;” it is all they can now scientifically defend. The bottom line here is that pure accident is obviously not what is going on in the transformation of the genomes, despite the fact that every mutation that occurs is not micromanaged by God or an intelligent designer to ensure that it benefits the creature hosting the change.
God's Wonderful Gizmos and Gadgets
When my children were small they (well, OK, we) played an educational computer game called "Gizmos and Gadgets." The game starts with a picture of an engineering or mechanical job that has to be done. Players are given a choice of tools and equipment to use to accomplish that job: pulleys, levers, gears, electric switches, etc. The software was "smart" enough to know which items would work best for a given problem because the programmers built their engineering expertise into the game. It is important to note that no true junk was presented for evaluation, only valid tools and mechanical devices that would be useful in one type of situation or another.
The tutorial or demonstration module of the game cycled randomly through the available items, bleeping and 'X'ing out the ones that didn't work, and visually celebrating with great pomp and circumstance the proper solution. It was fun, though my kids thought it was a little childish. Gizmos and Gadgets demonstrated the principle that randomly cycling through a finite serious of potentially useful options can be a valid engineering solution in itself, particularly where the designer doesn’t want to have to monitor and directly intervene to manually adjust the system.
In the Christian worldview this possibility takes on a certain additional force when one considers that God is purely good and holy. Why would God wish to have to constantly “get his hands dirty” by coming down to this sinful mess we have made to constantly tinker with it to re-optimize natural processes? If he did fully optimize it, he will just have to turn around and curse it again as punishment for our continuing sins.
Such a schema of randomly cycling through alternative design solutions is a process that evolution may well have used. When recent discoveries of self-organizational tendencies in biology are added to Michael Denton’s theory of predetermined forms for the biotic proteins in natural law, we see the possibility for something very similar occurring in the creation and evolution of life. Within certain strongly biased-for-success probabilities natural elements have a tendency to self-assemble over long periods of time given substantial predisposing assistance from natural law and the initial state of matter and energy at the Big Bang. Once living systems have been achieved, the genomes cycle through candidates for biological design changes incrementally over time. This is a partly random but still closely shepherded process.
This model doesn’t tell us how we first got the detailed biological information libraries of the genomes or how we got our natural laws, but it does go a long way towards explaining evolution, which is something a fully accidental model can no longer do. This is an information-first model, not an accidental, model. It is a form of intelligent design theory, and a form of orthogenesis (directed evolution).
In addition to producing mechanical soundness with a relatively small margin of error, such a process is also an apt solution to the problem of how to spontaneously (though not instantaneously) match a genome to a changing environment. Simple: gizmos and gadgets. Cycle through predesigned options until you find a device that works. Such a system of exploring a multitude of machine component options may not be fast enough to ensure the survival of an individual creature, and at times not even a species, but it goes a long way towards ensuring the continuance of life itself. In the Christian worldview, even the latter goal, the continuance of life itself on this Earth, is something God intends to have finite limitations.
You might object, “But isn’t that exactly what the neo-Darwinists say happened: nature randomly explores options until something clicks then natural selection preserves it?” No, not exactly. The two models sound very similar at the general conceptual level, but in the intelligent design version the “devices” that constitute the most simple gizmos and gadgets of life (or their component modules) are not simple at all; they are very complex. By contrast, in the neo-Darwinian theory of (accidental) evolution the modules are ultra-simple, perhaps at times being nothing more than a single nucleotide change.
What science has never been able to show is how very simple elements combine by accident to make the more complex systems components of the tree of life in real evolutionary time. With recent moves towards explaining evolution by morphogenetic fields and events spawned by the developmental and transformational genomes, evolutionary science is either approaching a “gizmos & gadgets” kind of concept or something even harder for an accident to manage, biological machine creation from scratch in real time.
I should point out, however, that a basic morphogenetic field model of evolution based upon random mutation alone is not the full explanation of the origin of life and its evolution. It doesn’t get us past Professor Behe’s irreducible complexity objection. Multiple closely matched parts must still show up in the same place at the same time in many cases. Most of those parts are themselves quite complex.
Scientific Prematurity: Deep Time, Deep Data & Deep BS
A vast new resource of biological information science has accumulated in the past twenty years. It reveals that evolutionary theory construction has been overconfidently proceeding upon what has turned out to be a fully inadequate base of information.
In addition to the deep time problem, we also have the obstacle of the deep data of microbiology and genetics. When genetics and microbiology were still in the relatively early phases of their development, evolutionary science blundered ahead recklessly, drawing hasty conclusions long before science had dug down as far as basic physical systems data actually went. Through the 1970s at a minimum we had not yet collected anything near representative evidence of the real complexities of life. Yet neo-Darwinists proceeded with much pomp and bluster to announce that there could be no alternative to their own expert “deductions” that accident was the primary dynamic that had driven the origin and development of life. This, despite the fact that the prevailing theory of evolution, which modern neo-Darwinists refuse to update, is vintage 1859! (partially updated circa 1955 and 1980)
Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Henry Gee derides, as everyone should, the infamously fallacious argument from authority. The entire history of science, philosophy, and civilization joins him in condemning as unreliable, politically suspect, and fully contrary to scientific method, arguments based upon authority alone (even technically expert authority). I agree with Gee completely, both that the argument from authority is dangerous (remember Freud once heartily recommended the Gestapo to everyone) and that the whole enterprise of Darwinian evolutionary theory has been vastly premature.
While it was factually premature for Darwin to hypothesize accidental evolution in the sense that he was missing masses of critical data, it was not theoretically premature. Darwin could honestly propose his theory because, although he might rationally allow that he was missing a lot of data that the future would unveil, he could neither know for certain that he was missing critical data, nor anticipate the import of data he did not yet have.
What I argue in this book is that now that we do know the missing data, we don’t have Darwin’s excuse for proposing a mistaken theory. We now know it takes a lot more than natural selection to pull living machines as complex as they are now seen to be out of the hat of otherwise purely accidental processes within the limited time available in Earth’s history.
My own view goes a bit further than Gee’s Deep Time. I propose that we are now experiencing additional limits similar to the limitations incurred from “deep time,” limits one might term “deep information,” and “deep complexity.” One might even say in regards to the neo-Darwinian penchant for politicized propaganda that science must now also wrestle with deep BS. One now has to routinely do hours of exhaustive scrutiny of linguistic subterfuge just to filter a few real data points out of the purely linguistic haystack of modern popular writings on evolution, writings that are heavily politicized. Textbooks aren’t nearly so bad, but their introductory sections and remarks on general theory are at times partly politicized.
Over the next few decades, while we are updating evolutionary thought with volumes of new complexity data, we should put the default presumption that the accidental tenet of neo-Darwinian theory is an established fact on hold. It is time to allow competing strategies and theories to get a fair hearing and receive equitable research support.
Given that Darwinists were always missing so much data, it is no surprise that neo-Darwinian theory has it all wrong. As of the “new” evolutionary synthesis circa 1950 science had yet to illuminate the intricate processes of the developmental and transpositional genomes, and in those days we were still missing a great deal of the understanding of even the basic operational genome that we have today. The new synthesis of the 1950s had access to the smallest fraction of the data presently available. Compared to what we know today, even the update to evolutionary theory achieved in the 1980s was merely knee-deep in microbiological and genetic complexity data, whereas today we are up to our necks in it.
And yet it remains entirely possible that even now we have not crossed the threshold of data acquisition essential to reveal the true character of the biomechanics of evolution. Firm conclusions regarding any directional impetus in the larger process of evolution must await a fuller scrutiny of the minutia of physical, chemical, and biochemical processes.
Additional biological form-determining factors almost certainly reside at deeper levels than we have yet mapped: electromagnetic properties of molecules and atoms, self-organizing nanostructures, etc. We cannot even fully synthesize or analyze the massive data we already have available from proteins, genomes, and neural networks. Science is only just beginning to investigate the levels of interface between physics and biology.
For the past 150 years evolutionary theory has been way ahead of the potentially acquirable relevant data. Science must compose hypotheses to guide research, yes, but not to the exclusion of all competing theories, as has been done in evolutionary science. Lest we forget, the proper method of science is to, first, gather the facts, and then construct the theory. What Meyer, Dembski, and Behe et al. are telling us is essentially the same thing: we have allowed our theorizing to get well ahead of the data.
So What is the Catholic Church’s View of All of This?
There are a few Catholics who have come down on both sides of the intelligent design debate, but most Catholics are just beginning to awake to the topic. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna has defended the general concept of intelligent design as a discernable feature of God’s creation and authoritatively denounced neo-Darwinian theory and other versions of evolution that deny the role of the creator of life. There are also Catholic critics of intelligent design theory like Catholic priest and astronomer Father George V. Coyne, that say that God could have created our world and tree of life even with a neo-Darwinian process: accident assisted only by natural selection.
I take Cardinal-Archbishop Schönborn’s position. While allowing that Fr. Coyne makes a technically valid though rhetorically weak point, my thesis in this book is that the scientific data now says that the intelligent designer of life apparently did not do it that way. There was insufficient time, matter, and energy to support an purely accidental process, and what we know of nature’s heavy bias towards life forbids calling the physical history of our world accidental.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we can discern God’s designing hand in his creation. “Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason..." (CCC 286) By mathematical definition a purely accidental and chaotic process would leave no identifiable signature traces at all, and therefore Fr. Coyne’s position allowing for such a method of creation seems to run afoul of either the Catechism or the mathematical model of a pure accident. While we might still discern God’s hand in creation with spiritual discernment, I don’t know how the human intellect and human reason would discern God’s hand if a fully accidental method had been used. It is possible that Fr. Coyne holds to some hybridized version of neo-Darwinian theory that does not ascribe a purely accidental and chaotic process to evolutionary history, but the originators of neo-Darwinian theory did affirm such a chaotic and purely accidental process. (See the quote by Peters & Gutmann below)
Beyond those two positions there are probably many Catholics who just don’t think the intelligent design debate need be of concern to them at all because the Bible is not a science book. They are willing to go with whatever science produces on the subject. In the intro I remarked that it has been an exciting couple of decades in science with the emergence of a startling volume of evidence for intelligent design theory, but those Catholics are likely thinking, “What’s so exciting? I’m a Catholic. Why should I care? Evolution—smevolution; it’s all the same to me.”
Catholics may never have doubted God’s existence because of evolutionary theory, but the neo-Darwinian accidental version of evolution has caused a lot of non-Catholics to doubt God’s existence. Getting the bogus myth of accident out of evolutionary theory should be exciting for all Catholics because it allows millions of agnostics to see real indications of our Creator in the truths of science.
Beyond that, there is just a straightforward political war going on out there for the minds of the public regarding the alternatives of holding either an atheist-materialist or a Christian worldview.
Although scientists confidently inform our school boards and federal courts that there has never been a conflict between God and “evolution” (and this is the Catholic position, but only for basic evolution), this is not what the neo-Darwinists tell our students in college textbooks, where they assert that the theory of evolution constitutes a great social advance, a liberation from the superstition of religion, etc. And it is not what they tell the public in popular books on evolution where they constantly beat up 7-day Creationism without giving any time to evolution-compatible forms of Christian faith.
Catholic/Christian teaching is, as one would expect, in direct opposition to all God-incompatible formulations of anything. This includes evolutionary theory when it is presented in God-incompatible forms. His Holiness Pope Saint John Paul II, in his 1996 “Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution,” informed us that although basic evolution does not conflict with the Bible and the faith, some forms of evolutionary theory do.
And to tell the truth, rather than speaking about the theory of evolution, it is more accurate to speak of the theories of evolution. The use of the plural is required here—in part because of the diversity of explanations regarding the mechanism of evolution, and in part because of the diversity of philosophies involved. There are materialist and reductionist theories, as well as spiritualist theories. Here the final judgment is within the competence of philosophy and, beyond that, of theology....
It is by virtue of his eternal soul that the whole person, including his body, possesses such great dignity. Pius XII underlined the essential point: if the origin of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God...
As a result, the theories of evolution which, because of the philosophies which inspire them, regard the spirit either as emerging from the forces of living matter, or as a simple epiphenomenon of that matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. They are therefore unable to serve as the basis for the dignity of the human person.
Thus, Pope Saint John Paul II emphasized the importance of distinguishing the different versions of evolutionary theory. Neo-Darwinists, however, seldom bother with such niceties. The confusion of different versions of evolution works to their advantage as they often (and mistakenly) remind the public that the Catholic Church endorses “evolution.” When they do this the public can only assume they mean the speaker or writer’s own presently stated or previously endorsed form of evolutionary theory. But this is not necessarily so, and in the case of neo-Darwinists it is definitely not so.
At rock bottom, the Catholic position is not even an endorsement of evolution as such, but only an endorsement of the validity of science generally. In the Catholic view, the Bible says that God made the world and its life forms; it does not say how he made them. The Church views science as an appropriate means to attempt to discover the mechanics of creation, while acknowledging that we have been assured of the fact of creation by the authority of the Church and its approved theology.
And the Church doesn’t categorically assert that science is infallible within its own empiric domain either, but only that the results of scientific study are trustworthy when science is properly performed. None of the theological tenets of the Church require an endorsement either of evolution or of any alternative view, but only the affirmation that the Bible is not a science book and that life is not an accident in the sense that it resulted from an intentional act of creation by God, regardless of whether God employed a lot of random mixing of physical elements in the process or not.
Conversely, the Church also holds that science books should restrict themselves to science. As Cardinal, Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn explains in his recent book, Chance or Purpose, when scientists deign to step outside science’s appropriate bounds and claim that there is no God they have entered the realm of metaphysics and ideology. At this point, they have left their scientific credentials behind; they are doing materialist politics or personal philosophy, not science.
Neo-Darwinian evolutionary theorists have historically committed this error in tagging materialism and an accidental worldview onto basic evolutionary theory. This puts them outside the bounds of pure science and into conflict with the Church. Thus, it is fully inappropriate for a neo-Darwinist (or anyone else) to inform the public that the Catholic Church embraces “evolution” without further clarification of which of the various forms of the theory fall within that endorsement and which do not.
This clarification is especially needed for statements by neo-Darwinists. The Catholic Church does not embrace their form of evolutionary theory because neo-Darwinian theory asserts a Godless accidental creation of life (accidental mutations assisted by nothing more than natural selection), leaving no room for cosmic purpose and intelligent design.
To avoid serious error in representing the Church’s position regarding any particular statement about evolution, one must always be careful to distinguish between basic evolution (descent from a common ancestor with periodic modifications—not necessarily accidental), accidental-atheistic evolution (the neo-Darwinian form), and further embellished but still God-compatible or God-incompatible versions, such as some formulations of “Synthetic Theory.”
There are many other variants of the theory of evolution: accidental drift, punctuated equilibrium, orthogenesis (directed evolution), naïve mutationism, and so on. Any of these can be combined with philosophical tenets and worldviews that lie outside the proper scope of science. A person of faith must inquire as to what position (if any) each variant of basic evolutionary theory takes on the question of at least allowing for the possibility of God, cosmic purpose, and intelligent design before endorsing it or representing the Church as endorsing it.
If the versions of evolution opposed to the faith were obscure and infrequently held views that never reached classrooms with the implied endorsement of mainstream science, our concern here as Catholics would be slight. The Church does not wish to impede freedom of thought, but rather to preserve both genuine scientific truth and the truths of the faith, which are held never to conflict. Unfortunately, the primary version of evolutionary theory that is being taught in our schools and colleges, neo-Darwinian evolution, has the very flaws that make it incompatible with the Christian faith: affirmation of materialism and the denial of intelligent design/cosmic purpose!
People of faith, therefore, cannot simply speak of evolution as if it were one single homogenous theory, as the neo-Darwinists often do. We must distinguish the variants to preserve clarity and integrity regarding the relationship of God and science.
A current Vatican document, entitled “Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God,” makes this clear, further developing the position statement made by Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1996 message to the Pontifical Academy. Here the problem is made explicit: neo-Darwinian evolution does conflict with the Christian faith.
In continuity with previous twentieth century papal teaching on evolution (especially Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis), the Holy Father’s message acknowledges that there are “several theories of evolution” that are “materialist, reductionist and spiritualist” and thus incompatible with the Catholic faith. It follows that the message of Pope John Paul II cannot be read as a blanket approbation of all theories of evolution, including those of a neo-Darwinian provenance which explicitly deny to divine providence any truly causal role in the development of life in the universe. (My emphasis)
Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, recently affirmed the Church’s position in a courageous New York Times editorial, one that surprisingly drew “flak” even from the Vatican’s own Pontifical Academy of Science. Cardinal Schönborn has apostolic teaching authority. Therefore, when he affirmed intelligent design and labeled neo-Darwinian evolution incompatible with the Christian faith, his statement was authoritative. Here is an excerpt from his Times editorial.
Ever since 1996, when Pope John Paul II said that evolution (a term he did not define) was "more than just a hypothesis," defenders of neo-Darwinian dogma have often invoked the supposed acceptance - or at least acquiescence - of the Roman Catholic Church when they defend their theory as somehow compatible with Christian faith.
But this is not true. The Catholic Church, while leaving to science many details about the history of life on earth, proclaims that by the light of reason the human intellect can readily and clearly discern purpose and design in the natural world, including the world of living things.
Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science.
As some who have followed this issue know, the “flak” came from Father George V. Coyne, a priest and astronomer who was Director of the Vatican Observatory until August 2006. Coyne sharply criticized Cardinal Schönborn’s editorial. Father Coyne, however, was speaking as an individual scientist, not as the pope’s spokesman. The Vatican Observatory is an advisory body to the Vatican on scientific matters; it does not hold a position of teaching or administrative authority in the Church.
In addition, Father Coyne is an astronomer, not an evolutionist. Those who think Father Coyne’s sharp criticisms represent an admonishment of Cardinal Archbishop Schönborn by the Vatican are much mistaken. Cardinal Schönborn is as high above Father Coyne as he can be in the Church without being pope. A former student of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schönborn, with a group of the pope’s other former students, regularly met with Benedict for years to confer on evolution and other issues. Schönborn is co-author with Benedict XVI of a recent book that chronicles their 2006 conference at Castel Gandolfo, entitled Creation and Evolution.
Have our most astute Church leaders imagined this conflict between neo-Darwinian evolution and the Catholic faith? Not at all. Neo-Darwinian evolutionists have historically not only affirmed an accidental/purposeless worldview that excludes God but also integrated that assumption into their evolutionary writings as if it were fully entailed by scientific data. The scientific data entail no such thing, however.
Neo-Darwinists have also openly disparaged religion and affirmed that the more “enlightened” views of atheism and materialism are supported by the methods and discoveries of science. All this is poppycock, of course. Empiric science can say nothing whatsoever against the existence of God, the human soul, or the spiritual dimension generally by virtue of its self-imposed limitation of addressing only physical subjects.
While there is no conflict between real science and religion, the conflict between neo-Darwinian “theory” (which is often formulated as a combination of basic evolution with the personal philosophies of atheism and materialism) and Catholic/Christian faith is undeniably real. The result of combining philosophical systems with pure science is an adulterated hybrid system that cannot qualify as science because the conclusions reached cannot be verified or refuted (such as that there is no God) by empiric data.
The sweeping philosophical conclusions affirmed by atheism and materialism cannot be generated from purely scientific method. These are arbitrarily tacked-on philosophical preferences. Some (presumably not all) of the scientists who do this may be intentionally trying to advance Marxist politics by smuggling the philosophy of materialist atheism into mainstream science as if it were a scientific fact.
Not all evolutionists who affirm neo-Darwinian theory add on the materialist philosophical adjuncts, but many have. There has been no strict accounting of who has and who hasn’t, and no by-name differentiation of the sub-theories that add materialist philosophy from the sub-theories that don’t. It is a real mess to sort out.
The effect has been that neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has become widely understood to include materialism and an accidental world dynamic. Although we do have to allow for the existence of versions of neo-Darwinian theory that don’t tack on materialism and atheism, and don’t deny the substantial bias for life science has discovered in natural law and the physical constants, the Church cannot endorse the larger class of sub-theories as a whole until the materialist-atheist and purely accidental versions have been removed and renamed.
Some readers, including Catholic ones, may think I have overkilled the discussion on many points, and for them I probably have. But future men and women of faith who read these discussions prior to conversion may gain a good deal more respect for the theistic worldview during their period of agnostic searching and discernment to see it all laid out with rigorous attention to detail. It is good for them to see that we don’t have an intellectually blind faith, but rather a well-reasoned one, to see that the best interpretation of the scientific data lends a great deal of support to the Catholic-Christian-Moslem worldview.
Much like the old axiom, that the price of democracy is eternal vigilance, the same price must be paid to defend the faith amidst intense ideological warfare. Both dishonest and honest mistakes in science can lead to altered worldviews among the doctrinally uncommitted. Most scientists today recognize and respect the boundary between science and philosophy or theology, but not all, and it hasn’t always been so. Mistakes have been made both ways. Early science incorporated some theological precepts, and there was a time not many years past when many scientists thought that an accidental atheistic worldview could be justified by science alone.
Dr. Sidney Fox, for twenty-five years Director of The Institute for Molecular and Cellular Evolution at the University of Miami, tells us in his book, The Emergence of Life, that most scientists believed the events of physics and biology to be truly accidental until about 1965. This is when substantial dissent first arose to the accidental worldview originally hypothesized by Charles Darwin, and later encouraged by physicists like Niels Bohr under the auspices of indeterminacy theory in particle physics (quantum mechanics).
Despite the fact that science itself is impossible in a fully accidental world, as is natural law and any consistent structure in physical objects, many scientists early on fell in with the accidental school of thought. As a published theorist at least, Darwin was not an atheist, but he did not see any influence of God on the apparently random processes of nature. Others, like famous evolutionist Ernst Mayr, asserted that science can rule out cosmic purpose in nature with full confidence.
Scientists tended to blur the distinction between philosophy and science during those heady early years that comprised the heyday of modern science. Being a little carried away by their own success, they apparently felt they were finally getting at the ultimate nature of reality and saw no further need for the nicety of maintaining what may have seemed to them hairsplitting rules distinguishing the disciplines of science and philosophy. Looking back, it now seems to some of us that they were vastly oversimplifying the issues, and more than a little premature. I don’t think we can rule out that early on scientists became just a little bit intoxicated with the genuinely impressive successes of their own and immediately preceding generation of scientists.
This intellectual hubris, if we may call it that, ultimately manifested itself by scientists offering theories that pulled in what would traditionally be called philosophical systems and blended them (at times informally, and perhaps even unconsciously) with science. This produced hybrid theoretical systems, such as views of quantum physics that say the foundation of physics is purely random/accidental, and views of evolution that integrate a similar description of the underlying foundational processes of nature.
The neo-Darwinian theory of accidental evolution is typically formulated as such a hybrid system of science and materialist philosophy, though the philosophical side is not usually given a lot of attention. The philosophical component is merely assumed as an unstated axiom by materialist believers, and it is totally ignored as irrelevant to practical operations by scientists practicing pure science. The public can easily fall into serious errors concerning the nature of the world they live in by assuming that the hybridized neo-Darwinian theory represents the view of all of science. This is not true. And the hybrid version does conflict with the faith.
In their article, “The Meaning of the Theory of Evolution,” which constitutes chapter 2 of Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Evolution, D. S. Peters and W. F. Gutmann lay out the conflict between neo-Darwinian evolution and intelligent design (and the Christian faith) in an unmistakable way by saying that evolutionary processes are truly accidental, denying both purpose and design. Professor Douglas Futuyma, in the 3rd edition of his textbook, Evolutionary Biology, does much the same thing, as does Dr. Monroe Strickberger in his textbook, Evolution.
[Peters & Gutmann] At this point we would like to discuss some of the general cultural, spiritual, and philosophical implications of the theory of evolution. Our pre-evolutionary world view, powerfully influenced by the classical philosophers, was one that attributed the diversity of life forms and their function to the presence of a grand plan operating with a purposeful goal. Once life was examined under the neutral observation of scientists, using the methodology employed to arrive at the theory of evolution, we developed an entirely different understanding. The process of evolution is not activated by some goal-oriented plan (e.g., ever better adapted animals or more and more complex animals) but is instead the result of chaotic, purely accidental changes in the genetic complement of organisms. (My emphasis)
We now know that the genetic changes required for the evolution of life are enormously complex and that the process is clearly not chaotic, not purely accidental as some of the scientists of Peters and Guttmann’s day used to believe. While we cannot demonstrate a complete system of directional factors that lock in a specific outcome, the genetic systems are far from accidental and even the laws of physics and chemistry are heavily biased towards forming the key elements of life.
The hybrid neo-Darwinian theory (with materialist philosophy added) was premature at best, for there was no way for scientists of Peters and Guttmann’s generation to rule out such discoveries of astronomical biological complexity and enormous biases for life in physical and biological processes as have since been made. In fact, their conclusions were dramatically premature, seen in the light of what science knows today.
Peters and Guttmann’s mistake possibly fell into the same category of honest mistake Darwin made, presuming that the level of discovery of his own generation was revealing enough, reflecting physical and biological processes deep enough, that future discoveries would not alter his present conclusions. Those kinds of mistakes are the honest ones. Since then, modern scientists have learned that lesson and grown more cautious in allowing for more radical future discoveries.
The dishonest mistakes are the intentionally oversights, omissions, and misrepresentations inserted into science by professional agents of disinformation serving Marxist and Communist ideologies, or otherwise legitimate scientists who are seeking favors from those agents or their larger organizations and governments. Fortunately, since the Cold War has ended, the Marxist no-holds-barred crusade against Christian thinking in Western democracies has largely, but not completely abated. There is less political subversion of science going on behind the scenes to generate sweeping and largely indefensible generalizations in scientific texts (where they don’t belong) about which philosophical worldview we should adopt.
However, since legitimate scientists don’t typically turn their hand to philosophical concerns, once philosophical add-ons are implanted into the traditions of science no one typically makes an effort to remove them. Genuine scientists, as opposed to political philosophers and propaganda agents, don’t have the philosophical and rhetorical skill set and background study to argue such points to a definitive conclusion, and those who try quickly learn there are negative political consequences to their career for having tried.
There is also a third category of mistake, residing somewhere between the honest and dishonest, that one might call the psychological bias mistake. Scientists who make this mistake don’t realize that their personal worldview preferences, philosophies, religions, or personal psychological profiles predispose them to slant their scientific work either in favor of an accidental atheistic point of view or a religious point of view.
Whichever of these three dynamics are at work in the case of specific authors, scientists like Peters, Gutmann, Strickberger, and Futuyma vastly overstated the philosophical case for the accidental worldview. Granting that the pathways of evolution aren’t flawless or direct, this does not rule out God accomplishing his purposes through evolution in an indirect way. If God’s goal is the spiritual perfection of humans, myriads of “flaws” in the direct march of physical evolution need not impede his achieving that goal in the slightest.
Here is another example of the problematic formulation of neo-Darwinian theory that packages materialist philosophy with the purely scientific components.
[Futuyma] Second, people had long sought the causes of phenomena in purposes: the will of God, or the FINAL CAUSES (the purposes for which events occur). Newton revolutionized Western thought by providing purely MECHANISTIC explanations for physical phenomena. Thereafter, physicists would exclude from their theories any reliance on purpose (final causes), divine design, or the operation of any supernatural forces in the day-to-day workings of the physical world. Darwin’s immeasurably important contribution of science was to show how mechanistic causes could also explain all biological phenomena, despite their apparent evidence of design and purpose. By coupling undirected, purposeless variation to the blind, uncaring process of natural selection, Darwin made theological or spiritual explanations of the life processes superfluous. In the decades that followed, physiology, embryology, biochemistry, and finally molecular biology would complete this revolution by providing entirely mechanistic explanations, relying on chemistry and physics, for biological phenomena. But it was Darwin’s theory of evolution, followed by Marx’s materialistic (even if inadequate or wrong) theory of history and society and Freud’s attribution of human behavior to influences over which we have little control, that provided a crucial plank to the platform of mechanism and materialism—in short of much of science—that has since been the stage of most Western thought. (My emphasis)
Note the implication that the majority and the best of Western thought derives from materialism. It may be unnecessary to invoke God to describe the day-to-day mechanics of life, but God has not been shown unnecessary to the creation and evolution of life, or to the meaning of life.
In integrating materialism as an essential element of science at the end of the passage, Futuyma is both implying that all there is to life is the day-to-day physical processes, implying thereby that science rules out God. But the philosophy of materialism is not an element of any discipline of science, including evolutionary science, physics, or cosmology; it is a personal philosophical worldview. Science, properly defined, takes no position on God’s existence as a matter of dogma, though it might allow that some empiric data might suggest the presence or absence of God within the context of a particular logical argument. Futuyma’s argument seems to be that because nature is mechanistic we don’t need God. But the presence of a machine is hardly evidence for the absence of a machine designer.
Futuyma completely ignores the problem of life’s origin. To say that God is superfluous to explaining the processes of life is not to say science can explain everything without God; it cannot. It cannot explain the origin of complex life and it cannot explain the origin of the material world, the event of the Big Bang. In fact, it is not even true, given what we now know of the complexity of living systems, that God is presently unnecessary in the explanation of the processes of life, if one includes the evolutionary process in that category. All the major events of macroevolution and the events of origination of major units of novel biological information presently stand completely devoid of explanation.
There are many jumps in complex design achievement necessary to the evolution of life that involve improbabilities so vast that science cannot rationally affirm them to be accidental. We don’t yet have an explanation for these jumps, including the first achievement of life, so how can we say God is known to be superfluous to the creation and evolution of life until we know what the actual explanation is? The explanation doesn’t have to be God, but we don’t yet know that it isn’t God.
In his textbook on evolution Monroe Strickberger takes a similar tact to Futuyma. Strickberger goes even further, seemingly debunking religion entirely—and in a textbook supposedly devoted to pure science.
[Strickberger] He [Darwin] thus replaced what many had seen as an understandable view of nature—that is, the creativity of a human like God—by the most heretical concepts of all, randomness and uncertainty...Nevertheless, faith in religious dogma has been eroded by natural explanations of its mysteries, by a deeper understanding of the sources of human emotional needs, and by the recognition that ethics and morality can change among different societies and that acceptance of such values need not depend upon religion...The roots of religious beliefs lie in human attempts to appeal to and control the forces of nature...From these roots arose the concept of God and soul, both of which were supposed to be eternal and immaterial. (My emphasis)
Though language can be misleading, the Church appears to be under heavy assault here in Strickberger’s assertion that religion has been fully explained by natural forces and the implication that the foundation of true religion is the same as the foundation for animistic magical systems (the attempt to control nature). Strickberger seems to go so far as to suggest the ludicrous position that science has demonstrated that man created God merely in his imagination to fulfill his psychical needs—science has not demonstrated this—and that this proves that God did not create man and our world, and that we may reasonably presume therefore that there is no God! Or so the language seems to suggest. This position is both factually false and logically fallacious.
The logic is bad because the mere fact that someone has a psychological need to believe something, like that there is an oasis a few hours walk ahead in a dessert, does not mean there is no oasis. Young children need to believe that their parents and family will be there when they wake up to support, defend, and care for them. That psychological need to believe does not prove the non-existence of their family. Many of us have a psychological need to believe that the police, fire, rescue, ambulance, and hospital medical staff will be there and perform ably when tragedy strikes in our family. That certainly doesn’t prove the nonexistence of emergency services staff members.
Similarly, any psychic need to believe in the existence of God that ancient humanity might have harbored does not count as evidence for the non-existence of God. Fallacious philosophical arguments of this kind are ludicrous enough, but to claim that science has demonstrated those beliefs to be true is truly ludicrous. How is science going to demonstrate that billions of modern people haven’t had an authentic encounter with God (when they say they have) merely on the basis of primitive societies once having held pagan superstitions? How do neo-Darwinian evolutionists know that those primitive superstitions did not later give way to authentic religious faith?
It is bad logic to affirm that the future must be no more than the past it derived from. If this were true science itself could never make progress. It is no more legitimate to say that modern theologies are pagan superstition than it is to say that modern science is alchemy.
Strickberger’s conclusions are not supported by findings in sociology, psychology, and anthropology; they are merely the result of the simplest logical fallacy on the books, post hoc propter hoc, after this therefore because of this. This is all just materialism chasing its tail again, circular reasoning. Proponents of such views must first assume there is no God to rule out that the foundations of modern religions are derived from authentic encounters with God, and formed in accordance with his instructions.
Why haven’t these neo-Darwinists considered the possibility that as the human race matured it gained a more accurate understanding of God just as science gained a more accurate understanding of the physical world as time went along, and as children gain a more accurate understanding of their parents as they mature (usually). Just because we used to do something one way doesn’t mean we still do it that way. We humans used to be hunters and gatherers. Does that mean that scientific farming and the industrial sciences are nothing more than hunting and gathering?
Science has in no way demonstrated that the foundations of Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam derive from primitive pagan practices such as sun worship, sorcery, and alchemy, as opposed to authentic personal encounters with the living God. To assert such a thing requires one to overlook the overt contradiction of pagan superstition by modern theology. Modern religious faiths expressly reject those superstitions. They are as different from pagan superstition as modern scientific mechanized farming is from Stone Age hunting and gathering.
In affirming God-incompatible formulations of evolution, the above cited authors are not alone in the history of evolutionary thought. It is quite common, as much the standard through the history of evolutionary theory as not. Even the late Stephen Jay Gould, co-originator of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, in the introduction to Carl Zimmer's text, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, says that evolution has no direction, no purpose and no goal.
Theodosius Dobzhansky says this about the evolutionary process: “Though neither planned, guided, predestined or predetermined (except in the Laplacian sense of universal deterministic causality), the biological evolution gave rise to man.” Dobzhansky is one of the very fathers of modern evolutionary biology. He was at the core of the new evolutionary synthesis circa 1950 that originated the two modern forms of evolutionary theory: Neo-Darwinian Theory and Synthetic Theory (its God-compatible “twin”).
How in the world would Dobzhansky or anyone else know if evolution were planned and predestined or not? One can plan and orchestrate even an accident. God could have set things up in a physical schema sufficiently complex that, although God could guarantee the result, the process would appear accidental to humans. This might remain true no matter how deep we went with science. What Dobzhansky should have said was “Though we can presently detect no indications of planning or guidance…” His language was too strong and went too far, and the premature theory of neo-Darwinian accidental evolution too eagerly followed.
Synthetic Theory at least allows for purpose in nature, though it doesn’t ascribe that purpose to God or intelligence. Different evolutionists have defined purpose in evolution in different ways, usually vaguely, and with varying success. Most seem to think it a natural epiphenomena of some kind, which means it is not purpose at all in the sense we normally use the word.
G. G. Simpson in chapters 4 and 10 of This View of Life, provides perhaps the most coherent discussion of purpose in evolution to be found amongst the Darwinists/neo-Darwinists, but at points his discussion seems to be saying that that the purpose in nature is more than merely “cumulative selection” and at other points that it is not more than “cumulative selection,” with “cumulative selection” being left pretty much a mystery in its own right. So, it remains to be established if Simpson actually made any forward progress towards clarifying our understanding of the manifestation of directional dynamics and “purpose” in evolution.
Ernst Mayr seems to apply the terms “synthetic theory” and “neo-Darwinian theory” somewhat differently than Simpson, but, for our purpose here, it is sufficient to note that there is a range of different tactics that mainstream evolutionists have employed to deal with the question of purpose in nature. They vary widely, and they seem largely rhetorical, having less conceptual substance than one might have hoped. There is a real question about whether any of these naturalistic approaches to purpose are philosophically coherent.
Ultimately, what these evolutionists who acknowledge purpose seem to be saying is that there is a clear bias for life in nature and that science can easily see the overwhelming convergence of natural processes in the direction of life. At the same time, philosophically, they see no reason to ascribe that directional funnel towards life to the influence of intelligent design in preference to its being a basic attribute of “dumb” nature itself. For them, it is OK for science to stop looking for a deeper explanation at this point and just say, “Nature is just that way.” To me this is contrary to the tradition and spirit of science, which always strives for a deeper explanation.
The only affirmations Dobzhansky and the neo-Darwinists are justified in making about purpose in evolution is that they, as of the time of their writing or speaking, can detect no biomechanical or physical method by which God or an intelligent designer could have directed the course of evolution. They should never assert that they can affirmatively demonstrate there are no hidden directional elements in nature that others might find in the future as science progresses, or that God may have hidden such elements forever beyond human scientific vision.
Since Dobzhansky wrote his statement, of course, science has detected plenty of indications of directional guidance to the process of evolution. It is also true that for most of the period of modern science when neo-Darwinists were parroting Dobzhansky and Mayr’s early claims about there being no visible path for purpose in nature, there were in fact some known indications of directional forces towards life that they simply chose to ignore, such as the physical constants discussed by Hugh Ross and Fazale Rana in their book Origins of Life. Neo-Darwinists may retort that evolutionists don’t deal with the laws and constants of physics and cosmology, but their writings specifically say “nature” when discussing cosmic purpose, not just “biology.”
In fairness, many neo-Darwinists may have been heavily influenced by reading 1950s-vintage quantum physics. Physicists of the time may have (incorrectly) represented quantum physics as justifying an accidental worldview.
The neo-Darwinists’ failure to discover mechanisms of cosmic purpose doesn’t rule out God. It only establishes that, whatever God elected to do by way of guiding evolution, neo-Darwinists were unable to discern for whatever reason, including not trying very hard, and not wanting to know.
We see in these quotes from the neo-Darwinists why Pope Saint John Paul II, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, and J. Augustine Di Noia, et al. took pains to remind us that the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution conflicts with the Catholic faith. In fact we see that it conflicts with all religions that affirm a real God.
But that conflict is not embedded in pure science (which is a method of physical discovery, not a philosophical worldview), as some of the neo-Darwinists, atheists, Marxists, and materialists would like us to believe. Religion only conflicts with science after pure science is adulterated with the philosophy of materialism.
No purposeful goal, no goal oriented plan, chaotic, purely accidental—the lack of purpose explicitly acknowledged in the kind of formulations of evolutionary theory we see in the authors cited above straightforwardly eliminates the possibility of God or an intelligent designer of life. Strickberger relegates religion to a mere psychological manifestation having no basis in fact. All this is fully incompatible with the Christian faith.
The important thing to keep in mind is that absolutely none of this is scientifically defensible. The full set of data presently available to modern science allows clear pathways for cosmic purpose, albeit not simplistic ones. Even sociology and psychology, properly understood, are as much pro-God as pro-atheism. Much of the experience of open-minded psychologists and psychiatrists argue for the reality of the soul, and those therapists who are open-minded enough to pray for and with their patients often see more improvement.
While the roots of “religion” for Cro-Magnon man may lie in attempts to appeal to and control nature, there is no psychological, sociological, or anthropological evidence that this is true for modern man. Modern man is no longer desperate to try to control nature through magical religion, ironically, precisely because science has succeeded so wonderfully in doing it. We already have control of a large part of nature, and, with the exception of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes have means to insulate ourselves from the rest. In many cases we have structures that can handle earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes as well.
Certainly, nothing in Christianity is about controlling nature. A core teaching of Christianity is that we must detach ourselves from an unhealthy preoccupation with things physical and focus on developing spiritual virtues and personal holiness. One can equally argue that neo-Darwinism and other materialist philosophy-science hybridized systems are closer derivatives of pagan religions than modern religions are. It is the materialistic scientists who are obsessed with controlling nature, not Christians, Moslems, Jews, and Buddhists.
Science has never proved God superfluous to the larger explanation of the origin of life and our world. They have only demonstrated that God doesn’t appear to be micromanaging the process of life’s physical development.
Although theological explanations are not scientific by definition, and therefore, as Futuyma suggests, they are superfluous to the description of the mechanics of biology, that does not make them superfluous to explanation of larger key questions of human experience, viz. the origin of life, art, literature, music, philosophy, and religion. For theological explanations to be totally superfluous to human concerns, science would have had to have satisfactorily explained everything, including, and especially origins, the origin of life and the origin of the universe, as well as human emotional, moral, religious and artistic experience. But these are precisely the things science cannot explain.
All of these things are arguably of greater significance to human existence than exploding atoms for monstrously powerful weapons, reconfiguring molecules to produce new toxic chemicals, or tinkering with already viable genetic systems before we fully understand them. In other words, they are more important to overall human experience than greed-, power-, and control-oriented science.
As long as we Catholics and Christians forbid the redefinition of science as including materialism and atheism, Marxist and fascists can’t use science to justify changing the laws to allow behavioral reconditioning of citizens who challenge the materialist worldview; they can’t use genetic modification of everything to make it more profitable for the power mongers though less healthy for us; they can’t use eugenic extermination of the old, the elderly, and the genetically non-optimized (as they define it) to make their world less inconvenient; and they can’t replace democratic systems of government with more “efficient” ones (horrific police states), etc. If you think the debate over accidental evolution has no social consequences, think again.
Science has its place, and an honored one it is. But science can be abused and raised beyond its proper place of service—made into a false religion instead of a practical method of discovery. Enormous questions with the greatest import for the future of human society ride on the outcome of this ongoing debate between materialists who wish to dominate science for political reasons and those who want to keep science pure and free of philosophical, religious, and political contamination.
Obviously, pure science is benign and of the greatest assistance to humanity in many ways, such as properly matured medical science and the environmental stewardship disciplines. Science is good. It has its place, but it is not everything. Science helps keep us alive, but our subjective experience of the humanities, arts, literature, religion, moral values and emotional commitments give meaning and quality to our lives, make life worth living, and comprise the higher aspects of what it means to be human.
Once again, the risks in adopting the neo-Darwinian view of human life are of the gravest kind—our Popes’ warnings are not purely academic. The great theologian C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) made this graphically clear in the trilogy of novels ending with That Hideous Strength. This trilogy is referred to as the "Ransom Trilogy," or the "Space Trilogy." Lewis shows us how the man-as-robot view pulls all moral grounding from the criminal justice system. You can’t hold a robot morally accountable for preprogrammed behavior, and this includes your own government! What results is totalitarian government implementing cruel behavioral conditioning programs for humans, to the blatant disregard of all human rights. Robots have no inalienable rights.
C. S. Lewis’ novel, and the two that precede it in the series, make this argument against the neo-Darwinian philosophy more strongly than analytical logic can ever do. Ayn Rand’s classic novel, Atlas Shrugged similarly indicts the dangers inherent in Marxist-like runaway socialism, despite the fact that she was an agnostic that saw no evidence for God. In both of these great works of literature we are shown the inevitable de-humanizing progression of the neo-Darwinian, Nazi, and Marxists philosophies. The reader watches it unfold step by abhorrent step into a society that never questions but simply believes what they are told by “scientific experts.” What results from these de-humanizing systems is a horror repugnant beyond all civilized human conceptions.
This is why Christians should object to the teaching, not of basic evolution, but of neo-Darwinian evolution in our classrooms, for as Cardinal Archbishop Schönborn has pointed out, neo-Darwinian evolution is political ideology, not science. It is also why we should insist that the purely scientific versions of intelligent design theory, those not compromised with religious tenets, should be given a hearing in the classrooms. The mere fact that an author of a theory has a faith in God does not mean his or her theory must be disqualified. Most of present scientific theories were originated by men and women of Christian faith. And the fact that early forms of intelligent design theory did include religious tenets is not cause to disqualify those versions that don’t have religious tenets. Science allows all of its other theories to be modified and improved, and so intelligent design theory is entitled to the same privilege.
Postscript to this section: I previously alluded to Father Coyne’s criticism of Cardinal Archbishop Schönborn’s affirmation of intelligent design. Now that we have a better feel for the larger context, let’s take a closer look at that criticism.
What specifically is wrong with what Father Coyne has said about Cardinal Schönborn’s affirmation of intelligent design? Father Coyne insists that Cardinal Schönborn is wrong on at least five fundamental issues. His tone is quite authoritative in these criticisms. In defense of Cardinal Schönborn then, let’s see if Coyne’s hardline position actually stands up to closer analysis. [My comments are inserted in brown; Father Coyne’s points are paraphrased or quoted in black.]
Coyne point one: the scientific theory of evolution, as all scientific theories, is completely neutral with respect to religious thinking [Wrong, Cardinal Schönborn’s topic is not basic evolution but neo-Darwinian evolution (which, in denying cosmic purpose, is not neutral towards religion). Father Coyne commits the fallacy of equivocation here, improperly switching between two different meanings of the same term: basic evolution and neo-Darwinian evolution (and between the different versions of neo-Darwinian evolution, a very few of which may actually be neutral to religion). Given the confusion that evolutionary theorists themselves have wrought in the language, failing to distinguish between purely scientific and philosophical hybrid theories, this is a very forgivable “sin.” Fr. Coyne is wrong about this in the context of criticizing Cardinal Schönborn’s editorial, however. That editorial was addressed to the versions of neo-Darwinian theory that are not neutral to religion. Those offending versions represent the classic neo-Darwinian tradition, as the quotes above from Futuyma, Strickberger, Dobzhansky, and Peters and Gutmann demonstrate.]
Coyne point two: “the message of John Paul II, which I have just referred to and which is dismissed by the cardinal as ‘rather vague and unimportant,’ is a fundamental church teaching which significantly advances the evolution debate.” [This misleads the reader into thinking that the John Paul II message advances a Church position in favor of neo-Darwinian evolution. It does not. By condemning materialist theories, Pope John Paul II condemned neo-Darwinian evolution. Pope John Paul II merely said that basic evolution was “more than a theory.” Basic evolution is fully compatible with intelligent design. Neo-Darwinian evolution is not just basic evolution; it is basic evolution with materialism and atheism added. Cardinal Schönborn did not “dismiss” the pope’s message; he merely clarified the proper understanding of the message.]
Coyne point three: neo-Darwinian evolution is not in the words of the cardinal, ‘an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection;’ [Wrong again. In fact, Father Coyne could not be more wrong here because the father of modern evolutionary thought, Theodosius Dobzhansky, affirms precisely what Cardinal Archbishop Schönborn ascribes to neo-Darwinian theory: “Though neither planned, guided, predestined or predetermined (except in the Laplacian sense of universal deterministic causality), the biological evolution gave rise to man.” 
In addition to trying to substitute an innocent version of neo-Darwinian theory for the traditionally defined version that is not innocent, what Fr. Coyne is apparently doing, without cueing us in, is pulling Dawkins’ rabbit of “cumulative selection” out of the hat. As discussed at various points throughout this book, “cumulative selection” is a conceptual cheat of probability theory. Cumulative selection says that nature has accidentally and gradually grown to be an effective biological machine-building machine. This does not solve the problem of how accident can make that complex machine-building machine; it only backs the problem up a step chronologically.
What Coyne may be doing here is saying that evolutionary science has been progressing in a manner that allows the neo-Darwinian theory to be incrementally updated and improved over time. There have been no other major theories in evolutionary science, only versions of what has been called neo-Darwinian theory, so it is natural and consistent with scientific tradition to include under the same umbrella all the present advancements in evolutionary science to date.
The current state of evolutionary science holds that the process of evolution is not fully unguided, given the bias for life that is evident at different points in physical processes and natural law, some of which we have just discussed in this book. Therefore, Coyne may be saying, that neo-Darwinian theory has been updated in a de facto kind of way so that it no longer entails lack of guidance in the evolutionary process. While that is true for some authors, it certainly isn’t true for the classic authors cited above, to include Richard Dawkins. The early formulations that include the add-on of materialist philosophy remain a problem, both for the integrity of science and instruction of the faithful about the interface of science and religion.
Though Coyne and Schönborn may be talking about different versions of neo-Darwinian evolution, Cardinal Schönborn’s point remains valid concerning the problematic versions of neo-Darwinian theory that are still being hawked to the public in popular science writings. Those problematic versions may be older, but they are not dead in the sense that Latin is a dead language. They are still actively sponsored theories, and the classic literature that promotes those theories is still on the library shelves and must therefore be addressed.]
Coyne point four: the apparent directionality seen by science in the evolutionary process does not require a designer; [Cardinal Schönborn did not premise his argument on oversimplified directionality, though Father Coyne’s remark here implies that he did. Intelligent design theory and the more general Catholic concept of humanity’s ability to detect design in nature by use of the intellect and rational faculties is not founded upon naïve and oversimplified concepts of directionality such as merely moving from the simple to the complex. Rather, intelligent design theory argues from the entire gamut of complex design features seen in living things, and from immense improbability and resource exhaustion, as well as from the lack of accidental biomechanical pathways between species, all of which reveal the impotence of an accidental process.
By implying that the intelligent design case is based upon simple directionality alone, Father Coyne unfairly represents the ID case and commits the straw man fallacy. In this vast oversimplification of the intelligent design perspective Coyne unfairly attributes an invalid argument to Cardinal Archbishop Schönborn that he did not make.]
Coyne point five: Intelligent Design is not science despite the cardinal’s statement that ‘neo-Darwinism and the multi-verse hypothesis in cosmology [were] invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science,’ ” [We have already seen the strength of the scientific argument for intelligent design. Mathematician and philosopher of science William Dembski has given us four comprehensive books that present the mathematical and philosophical case for design. Michael Behe’s books, Darwin’s Black Box and Edge of Evolution; Jonathan Well’s book Icons of Evolution; Michael Denton’s books Evolution a Theory in Crisis and Nature’s Destiny; and Stephen C. Meyer’s scientific journal article, “The Origins of Biological Information and the Higher Taxonomic Categories” and his recent book, Signature in the Cell, are all overtly and unquestionably scientific presentations. Father Coyne here blatantly ignores all this genuinely scientific work. One wants to say that he should get away from his telescope more often.
What is actually unscientific is the multiverse theory, which is not testable in any version of the theory that can help the accidental worldview and accidental theory of evolution. Father Coyne gives both multiverse and accidental evolution a free pass from scientific method, while, similar to other neo-Darwinists, saying that evolutionary theorists can remain confident in their position against intelligent design without giving credible responses to any of the strong ID arguments, and without apparently having read any of the modifications to the ID theory issued in the past 30 years!
Refusing to allow ID theory to amend itself to properly remove religious tenets so as to qualify as genuine science by tying all present and future versions of ID theory to antiquated and discarded prior versions is itself a violation of scientific method. All other scientific theories are permitted amendments; why is prohibition of amendment only applied to intelligent design theory?
As a top flight senior scientist and accomplished thinker Fr. Coyne surely knows all these things. Therefore, his failing to make the elementary intellectual distinction between prior versions of ID theory that contained religious tenets and the current versions that have removed religious tenets constitutes a glaring error that itself calls for an explanation.
Conclusion: While perhaps Fr. Coyne had a good motive in trying to prevent a conflict between science and religion by focusing on the innocent religion-neutral versions of evolutionary theory, to be technically correct we must say that Father Coyne is nonetheless demonstrably wrong on all five of his points of criticism addressed at Cardinal Schönborn’s New York Times editorial. The non-innocent versions of neo-Darwinian theory that are not religion-neutral are the classic, traditionally defined versions most representative of the bulk of work done under the neo-Darwinian banner. Cardinal Schönborn’s position is therefore fully vindicated.
Summary & Conclusion
The Case of Uncle Bob on the Bus—A Question of Time
The one question that seems to have bothered scientists the most about accidental evolution is “Could there have been enough time available for accident to throw together such complicated biological machines?” Modern complexity data and the probability numbers that derive from that data say no.
As Sherlock Holmes might upbraid Watson for holding simplistic theories, one could say, “Yes! Uncle Bob is the same guy we saw in Spokane yesterday, and, yes, the bus line does connect the two cities. But the bus cannot get Bob from the Pacific Northwest to New York in one day!” Yet “He took the bus!” is all the neo-Darwinists will say.
“Look,” they tell us, “there is a bus stop in Boise, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Cleveland…it’s all laid out. What could be clearer? The bus route is an undisputed historical fact!”
It is true that the intermediate milestones of biological form variation that must be met if the proposed path from microbe to man is to be traversed are clear. We know the main stops on the route that evolution must go in general terms. And the fossils give us a rough timeline for when various species appeared. But intermediate milestones are not the only factor relevant to assessing the viability of accidental evolution any more than they are the only factor involved in assessing bus travel across 3,000 miles of rough country in a single day by bus. Time is relevant as well.
In addition to asking us to believe the impossible on time, complexity, resource limitations, and probability, neo-Darwinists ask us to decide the issue before we even know the “road conditions.” The real biomechanical pathways of historical evolution have yet to be demonstrated; we don’t yet know what biochemical path evolution actually took, and we don’t know what the real “engine” was that drove the production of viable form and function innovations in real time.
The accidental version of the evolutionary “bus” can already be certified as nonoperational. The ascribed power plant, accidental variation, doesn’t have the horsepower, and insufficient fuel is available (Dembski’s resource exhaustion argument). Pure accident is known to be incapable of moving the evolutionary machine between known points on the phylogenetic tree in real evolutionary time.
Darwinists have always assumed that the biomechanics of accidental biological form change will simply be worked out over time. They assumed that the results of future research would fall comfortably within their theory. Over the past several decades, however, it has not so fallen. And the more we look the more difficult the process is seen to be. The neo-Darwinists presumption of a free ride to eventual confirmation of their theory no longer holds water. It really does look like neo-Darwinian theory is headed for the trash heap of science.
What Decides the Issue?
The accidental theory of evolution has in fact failed on fourteen separate tests:
2. Resource exhaustion
3. Time bottlenecks: the near impossibility for accidental origination of biological information within real evolutionary time during the Cambrian explosion, at certain accelerated points of evolutionary development, called punctuated equilibrium, and at points requiring the integration of new genes into complex interrelated systems
4. Mathematical bias for life well beyond an accidental or random parameter
5. Direct observation that nature is not a random fractal producing mixing bowl
6. Direct perception of design or artificiality in biological systems
7. Randomly produced biotic and abiotic machines and machine components are not seen to be continuously produced by nature en masse as required by an accidental evolutionary process
8. Chicken & egg problem for abiogenesis: it takes life to produce many of the key proteins of life
9. The three-amino-acid barrier to random alteration of proteins: protein structures are broken by random mutation before they are advanced
10. Thousands of mutagenesis studies have produced no support for the accidental thesis
11. Irreducible complexity of numerous biological systems satisfies Darwin’s own criterion for the refutation of his theory
12. The fossil record doesn’t match an accidental process
13. Failure to identify any biomechanical route that could produce the necessary events of macroevolution within the historical timeline (or on any timeline) from random event processes. Science doesn’t know the biomechanics of macroevolution.
14. Failure of science to produce life in the lab shows that life is not simple enough for an accident to produce
So, Just How Complex Has All of This Become, Really?
For a nice look at how modern evolutionary science proceeds and also a surface-scratching hint at how fantastically complex the life sciences have become see the Madame Curie Bioscience Database. This is only a small part of the National Library of Medicine's total online collection. Give those collections a decent browse, and you will soon get the picture.
Also, see the recent Eugene V. Koonin et al. article on evolutionary classification of proteins published online at Genome Biology. Both of these works are very well done, and it was good of their authors and Web publishers to make them available on line. Browse through the Genome Biology volumes for an additional eye-opener on the burgeoning complexity problem.
If your appetite for science has been whetted, then, just for fun, look at the article by S. Gerlo et al. in the journal Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. Next read a smattering of the articles on biochemistry, genetics, protein research, etc. at BioMedCentral, Cornell University’s Arxiv project, and do a quick survey of the following journals. You don’t have to spend a lot of time at each stop to get the point regarding the complexity explosion.
American Journal of Cell Physiology
The American Journal of Human Genetics
Protein Folding, Structure & Proteomics Articles in Nature Magazine
Protein Folding Articles from Max Planck Institute
Biomed Central Article on Protein Structure Identification
Wikipedia Articles on Protein Folding and Structure Prediction
Wiley Page on Proteomics
Essential Biochemistry: Web Links and Essential Readings (from Wiley)
Briefings in Functional Genomics
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences from Springer
Genome Biology and Evolution
Human Molecular Genetics
Integrative & Comparative Biology
The Journal of Biochemistry
Journal of Heredity
Journal of Molecular Cell Biology
Journal of Theoretical Biology
Molecular Biology and Evolution
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Nucleic Acids Research
Theory in Biosciences
Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Next stop? (once you have caught your breath) Any university bioscience library. Flip through some of the technical journals at random to get a closer look at how astronomically complex life science has become. Alternatively, if you don’t want to work quite that hard, just go to Science magazine’s beautiful Web site, but they won’t have it all.
It doesn’t matter so much where you look, so much as that you just keep looking. The trail of complexity is virtually endless in relation to the time available in a single human lifespan. The complexity of biological systems is off the charts!
But I do urge you to go a bit further than merely Science and Nature magazines, though they are an excellent place to start. There is no substitute for glancing at the professional biology, chemistry, and genetics journals (even if you can’t understand them), because only there will you be on the frontlines of research where the true complexity of life is being unveiled in study after study. If you stick to popular commentaries you will be in trouble. Too often they will present politically orchestrated oversimplifications.
The knowledgebase for biological systems includes millions of highly detailed component descriptions such as these articles present and it is rapidly growing. Topics now range down to atomic and subatomic structures/energy functions and nanosystems.
Even given all of this, modern science has discovered only a fraction of the life science knowledgebase that will ultimately be revealed. The clear trend is that there are natural laws operating to impose a bias for life at the molecular, atomic and nanosystems levels, making the production of the essential components of biological life inevitable. If you browse through the scientific journals and do nothing but look at the diagrams and illustrations you will have before you in visible form an uncontestable argument against accidental evolution.
Neo-Darwinists are in denial of what we already know. We now have a firm grasp of the basic underlying structures of biological machines. We know enough about DNA and protein to know that such complex changes to them as would be necessary to move from dust to amoeba to man won’t happen by accident in untold trillions of lifetimes of our universe.
For decades now, neo-Darwinian theorists have selectively ignored evidence that argues against their theory, acknowledging only that which supports it. Despite thousands of truly impressive-sounding studies that hybridize fact and imagination, we have established no essentially complete biochemical pathways between any two creatures with radically different body types.
At some point or another in our future research into the development of the tree of life I believe we may ultimately find a case, or a few cases, where (preexistent) Hox genes combined with highly complex (preexistent) combinations of microtubule structures, and other important and substantial epigenetic factors (preexistent gene marker patterns), and a set of complex maneuvers performed by a (you guessed it) preexistent transpositional genome, will be shown to produce one moderately different type of creature from another. We will then have observed one instance of “macroevolution.”
This is almost inevitable (unless events of macroevolution really do entail miracles and God is no longer dispensing them, or unless the physical process of evolution is altered over time such that such events no longer occur after a certain point in physical systems evolution has been passed). If it does happen, it probably won’t happen any time soon.
Neo-Darwinists insist this will never happen because evolutionary changes are so gradual that dramatic transitions involving large jumps don’t ever occur. If this turns out to be true, despite the fact that we have had to jettison the accidental concept, the method we will have to use to confirm a step by step production of macroevolution is to document each step along the way between one creature and another that is radically different. Again, don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. We are unlikely to be able to discover the completely evolutionary pathway between two radically different creatures (assuming there is one between radically different creatures).
However, even if science can reach a point where it can shown instances of highly complex preconfigurations of biological systems that lead with mechanical surety and statistical consistency to predictable instances of macroevolution we will not thereby have shown an accidental process. To do that we must demonstrate an accidental achievement of all those preexisting components within the corresponding time reflected in the historical record for similar evolutionary jumps.
It is unthinkable that an accident could manage to produce living systems so complex, and new research can only move biological complexity and the corresponding improbability numbers in one direction: further beyond the boundary that rules out chance altogether. One need only scan the bioscience publications at the National Library of Medicine to see how true this is. The known complexity of biological systems has grown exponentially over the past five decades and continues to advance at an astounding rate.
I Say Again: Humility in Science
What the intellectually honest science books and articles show us is that until quite recently science did not even accurately understood the basic concept and structure of a gene, let alone the other five primary systems needed to translate genetic information into the operational and regulatory systems necessary for life. What this means is that the hypothesis of accidental evolution, even for the bulk of the twentieth century, was founded upon a grossly oversimplified view of living systems. At this point, given what we have seen in the science publications, there is no further point in pretending. Accident could not have done this.
It is time for evolutionary science to sit down at the epistemological dinner table and cut itself off a large slice of humble pie. Neo-Darwinian theorists got it completely wrong and modern science backed them up 100% the entire time. It’s a scandal!
Science does not know everything about life. In terms of the deep philosophical questions it knows very little. The top ten questions science still cannot answer are the biggest and most crucial questions of all relevant to this debate about the origin and meaning of life. The same thread runs through all of them: humility.
1) Where did all the matter and energy come from at the Big Bang?
2) Why did the Big Bang occur that made our universe?
3) Why were matter and energy so incredibly organized and informed at the beginning, and why did our life-friendly natural laws immediately begin to operate within a fraction of a second after the Big Bang if the foundational processes of our world are accidental and chaotic?
4) Why do quantum particles obey the laws of nature in groups when their individual behavior is erratic, that is, why do we have consistent natural laws if the underlying events are truly random?
5) Why did the ordered structures of the galaxies form when the laws of nature as presently described don’t require it?
6) What is the nature of life, its essence, or core definition?
7) How can life be produced from nonliving elements alone?
8) How do we explain the origin and rapid development of life when accident clearly cannot do the job?
9) How do we unify all of physical theory, quantum theory, relativity, and the various forces of nature?
10) What is the nature of mind and the soul, the related mental, emotional and spiritual experience of humanity, and how could a purely physical explanation account for these areas of human experience?
These ten points of profound mystery occur at precisely the points in the formation and function of our world where one would rationally expect the creative influence of God or an intelligent designer to be most manifest: the beginning of things, the physical foundations, and the point where humanity is distinguished from the lower animals. These mysteries suggest many things, all incompatible with a big accident: miraculous creation; divine purpose; the incremental flowering of a blueprint for God’s plan (information-first theory); controls for pattern development (quality control on implementation of the blueprint for life); hidden directional constraints that guided the structural design for the cosmos; bringing forth living creatures “after their kinds,” as stated in the Bible; and a spiritual-physical faculty that facilitates the self-aware soul’s interaction with the body.
Our ignorance of our world remains this profound to this very day and yet the late Ernst Mayr and the neo-Darwinists insist that science can find no place whatsoever where cosmic purpose might be acting in nature! Please…God save us from politics in science.
Dr. Stephen Meyer’s emphasis on the difficulty of finding a single useful gene sequence by accident bears repeating here. How hard is it to accidentally find a sequence of DNA 5,000 nucleotides long that can do from 500 to 3,000 different useful things for the human body in hugely complex ways, including using alternate splicing and reading frame mechanisms (a more or less typical gene, of which we humans have from 19,000 to 40,000 depending upon whom you read)? Clearly, science’s present answer is “We don’t know.”
There is still an awful lot of basic biochemical, genomic, and proteomic data critical to the debate about intelligent design that we don’t know. What we do know is that new data is pouring in like an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. It all favors exponentially increasing complexity, which in turn drives probability figures, already decisively against accident, completely through the roof. The increase in complexity we have seen with each additional decade of research has so far outpaced a standard ballooning analogy as to be more properly described as an explosion.
As of the year 2000 we were just gearing up to apply nuclear transfer technology to the cloning of laboratory mammals (rats) in an attempt to enhance our ability to trace out some of the connections between genes and phenotypic processes. It is a horrendously complex job, considering the entire taxonomic inventory, with major hurdles and critical unanswered questions.
The simple straightforward DNA–based system of information that runs living systems, which we were confident represented the secret of life, has turned out to be not so simple. There are six different interacting genome-related systems: the basic genome (DNA/RNA and genes), the gene regulatory system, the genomic translation system, proteomics (and associated systems of the phenotype), the developmental genome, and the transformational genome, as well as alternate reading frames. The quantity of literature describing the complexity of each of these factors in living biology is mountainous and just keeps on coming. Compare this to what Darwin based his theory upon: some gooey protoplasm, a nucleus, some chromatin and very little else.
And that’s just the information revolution in biology. Physics is very likely sitting on the verge of a new data explosion as well. The eventual import of the discovery of dark matter in physics combined with LHC results and continued work on string theory can only be imagined.
An argument might be made for adding humility as a basic tenet of scientific method, along with the classic tenets of empiric observation, hypothesis, and test. Or perhaps I should say, an argument to return humility to its former place in scientific method. Scientific method began with humility as one of its primary tenets. Science has traditionally taken the view that one shouldn’t assume any position on a scientific question until the full set of potentially related data is available for evaluation. There could be no reason beyond politics for evolutionary science to abandon the principle of cautious humility, but abandon it they did.
There are plenty of things science does not yet know about our world. How human life was created remains one of those things. Science absolutely does not know with certainty the nature of events that generated the origin of the universe; the origin of the form, order, and structure that is in it; or the origin of life. For a very current and clear indication of just how much modern science doesn’t know about our world’s ultimate origin and foundational physical dynamics listen to the excellent audio interview with premier mathematician and physicist Sir Roger Penrose on the Science Friday website.
Yet the materialists, who tend to dominate modern science, have presumed to authoritatively make pronouncements about science not needing God for explanation of anything. Such hubris, despite our theories of quantum/relativity physics being incomplete; despite our theory of cosmology being significantly incomplete; and despite our theory of abiogenesis (life from nonliving elements) being dramatically incomplete.
While scientists working under the umbrella of neo-Darwinian theory have described the gross events of evolutionary history, none of that description is uniquely tied to neo-Darwinian theory or the accidental worldview. The same evolutionary history is compatible with many other theories, including intelligent design.
Neo-Darwinian theory makes extravagant claims about how it all happened, and why, yet none of the causal dynamics asserted by neo-Darwinian theory can be verified—and they are hugely improbable. Anywhere else in science a theory having such enormous improbability would simply be dismissed as too incredible to maintain.
Of all the things of importance that neo-Darwinian theory claims about how and why evolution occurred, none can definitely be proved—they are all purely theoretical assumptions that cannot be directly demonstrated in the real world. The genetic mutational models and population dynamics offered by neo-Darwinian theory cannot be verified as being capable of producing macroevolution. Both the process dynamics of creating life from nonliving substances (abiogenesis) and the biomechanics of macroevolution remain completely unknown to science.
Science has never had proof of neo-Darwinian theory. Accidental evolution aided only by natural selection initially assumed the position as of our best explanation of life way back circa 1860 for two reasons: we had no other explanation outside religion and we could not see inside the cell at the time.
God was available as an explanation of life in philosophy and theology but, due to non-verifiability and non-observability, God as an explanation was not available to science. And Darwinian evolution probably is the best explanation of how an accident might create life. The problem for neo-Darwinian theory is that we can now see that life is no accident.
The only parts of evolutionary science that can be proved are the partial description of historical events derivable from the fossil record and the list of genetic, biochemical, and structural similarities common to many organisms on the tree of life. These comprise a solid argument that the species are related, but it doesn’t mean life is an accident. These are two different questions.
None of the historical and biological facts known to science concerning evolution require neo-Darwinian theory (accident assisted only by natural selection) to explain them. Several other theories, including intelligent design theory, orthogenesis (biological purpose left more generally defined), and random drift theory can and do explain the same historical, biochemical, and genetic facts at least as well.
The number of human genes keeps changing. Is it 100,000, 40,000, 20,000, 19,000? While the estimate of human genes consistently moves downward, the complexity of a single gene measured by its broken and scattered physical distribution across millions of nucleotides in the chromosome, the complexity of its functions, and the complexity of its regulation, skyrockets upward. This trend is exactly the opposite of what the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution needs to be credible. Accidental evolution needs vast numbers of simple functional parts.
Neo-Darwinian (accidental) evolution requires gradual small changes. But genes so hugely complex, intensively interactive and interdependent, genes that have many internal sequences that are functionally intertwined, forbid a gradual accidental evolutionary process. In short, accidental evolution requires life to be trillions of orders of magnitude simpler than we now see it to be.
Some of the components of life are simple enough and have so little interdependence and interactivity that they might have been created by accident, but many other components of life are not so, and they are interdependent. As Charles Darwin himself conceded, it only takes one component that could not have been assembled gradually by accumulating small accidental changes to refute the theory of the accidental evolution of life.
The entire time that neo-Darwinian theory has held sway in evolutionary science (approximately 150 years) science has been unable to directly demonstrate that a random process could generate macroevolution (or any significant portion of a living system). Macroevolution itself seems to be the first clear and incontrovertible counterexample to the theory of accidental evolution. Yet the theory of accidental evolution was never questioned. Why?
The answer seems to be that neo-Darwinian evolution, as a component of atheistic, materialistic, and Marxist worldviews, has consciously or subconsciously become the psychological equivalent of a religious belief for many in mainstream science. That belief holds the honored position of untouchable dogma among much of Western academia. Nowhere does science look to challenge or to disprove that dogma.
Like humility, objectivity is another traditional tenet of scientific method that evolutionary science has managed to jettison since science became an ideological battlefield with the advent of Marxist-sponsored movements for atheistic materialism in the mid to late 1800s. Western science has largely put its own principles requiring objectivity and critical scrutiny of scientific theory aside to protect its favorite son, neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory, and its parent worldview, materialism.
Despite the intellectual hubris of neo-Darwinists, there is much that science still does not know about our world. Many people would be surprised to learn that even the number of living and extinct species is still unknown. Over the past fifty years the estimates of the number of currently living species have varied from 4 million to tens of millions to 100 million or more, depending upon whom you read. In other words, we don’t even know that! I am not criticizing zoology for being slow, but neo-Darwinists for not having the patience to wait on the data. The number of species and the extent to which form, function, and genetics vary among them is very much relevant to computing the probability of accidental evolution.
Biological science has only identified and described some 2 million of the presently estimated 8-10 million living species in rough fashion, that is, in basic taxonomic and anatomical data. Achieving a full biochemical process description of the physiology of those species with a complete genome map linked to phenotypic character sets and gene regulatory functions is still a long way off.
We don’t know how many distinct proteins exist in nature with precision (likely several hundred thousand), but we do know the human body alone uses some 85,000 proteins. The complexity of a single protein frustrates the ability of our best computers to track. In addition, we have relatively complete descriptions at the biochemical level of only a fraction of the total inventory of cellular processes, though this is rapidly changing.
For the few species for which we have completed gene maps, those maps have not been linked thoroughly to the cellular, systemic, and developmental processes they govern. This is not likely to happen anytime soon as Dr. Anton Nekrutenko informs us that a single gene can generate several thousand expressed sequences that provide unique instructions to the cell.
So, for the 19,000 or so genes now presumed to comprise the human genome, that is a mere 75,000,000 or so gene sequences with primary functions to track down through hugely complex biological systems. What’s so hard about that?
Well, for starters it is in theory possible for each gene to have several sequences that affect the regulation of potentially every other gene in the genome. In those cases it is not just a matter of tracking single level gene expression sequences, but of mapping an avalanche of domino chain reactions that can potentially reach anywhere within the astronomically complex human biochemical-genetic system. True, most gene expression and regulation functions aren’t that bad, but some are. And remember, these are microscopic processes, extremely fragile and sensitive to disruptions in the internal living environment. It is difficult research to do.
Humility—in The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking says we cannot demonstrate that the universe is not infinite. That means we still don’t know if it is infinite or not. Key points of logic in the debate over the accidental worldview versus intelligent design are greatly strengthened or weakened depending upon the answer to that one question, yet the atheists and materialists who have tended to predominate in modern scientific circles have assured us that science has proved the world to be accidental. Such sweeping conclusions are vastly premature.
Physicists and cosmologists are still grappling with very basic questions, things quite fundamental in nature, such as the type and number of extra dimensions, even questions regarding what comprises the fundamental stuff of which the universe is made—and how much there is of it. As late as 2003 we were finalizing confirmation of the discovery of dark matter and dark energy—we still don’t know what they are, yet these substances make up as much as 70-90% of the entire universe!
We only recently discovered that there are black holes out there that are far too old to comport with existing cosmological theory. One hypothesis is that they were formed with the aid of dark matter…but that doesn’t help because we don’t know what dark matter is. The finding in 2010, reported in Discover (Jan/Feb 2011) that neutrinos can transform from one type to another, shook physicists’ comfortable working assumption that neutrinos did not have mass, and the recent discovery of a monster quasar challenges long held assumptions about black holes. Science has no absolutely reason to be smug about the big question of the presence or absence of cosmological purpose in nature.
The hypothesized Higgs particle (boson) may turn out to be the “explanation” for dark matter and also the key to a grand unification theory in physics, but for the moment at least the Higgs particle itself remains largely a mystery. The full explanation of the Higgs particle is held to require something outside the standard model of physics.
Physicists are not yet sure what that something is, but the existence of extra dimensions is one of the candidates that might finally account for the Higgs’ behavior. The newly built Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva Switzerland has shed some light on this question, and very recently (circa June 2013) significant progress seemed to have been made in discoveries at the LHC. These are still awaiting a full analysis, confirmation, and theoretical extrapolation. Some scientists expect further work at the LHC might reveal totally new phenomena. A golden age of physics derived from LHC discoveries is considered a real possibility.
Physicists’ minds are now completely open to what they might find in the terascale of high-energy particle physics (the trillion electron volt, TeV, range). The terascale has never before been explored. One real possibility is that they will find a grand unifying force that will tie together our understanding of all of the forces in nature in a single explanation. Physicists are practically certain of finding new particles or confirming those particles that were until now merely hypothesized. The discovery of evidence for extra dimensions is another plausible outcome from LHC projects.
For our purpose here the point is that fundamental questions about the nature of our world remain unanswered, with no known limits upon future radical discoveries. Yet the neo-Darwinian evolutionists and their atheist cousins in physics guarantee us that our universe and the life forms in it are nothing more than one big accident. But, if we don’t yet know the basic nature and number of the key ingredients in nature’s recipe, how can we be so cocksure that we don’t need a cook to explain the banquet?
Neo-Darwinian evolutionists’ smug assumption that science has all the answers is contradicted by what we actually know of science’s present limitations. There is plenty of room for new discoveries that would vastly reduce the degree to which we view our physical world as being at all random, and there is not a whole lot that is random about the natural processes of our world—very little really. Our theories of the two levels of physics (quantum mechanics and relativity theory) are still not compatible with each other, and even the theory of gravity is threatened by the new discoveries of dark matter and the accelerating expansion of our universe. So far, an understanding of dark energy requires physicists to use both of the incompatible math systems of quantum mechanics and general relativity at the same time. There is currently no solution to this dilemma in physics.
While a revolution in particle physics is predicted to occur over the next few decades, a revolution has already been occurring in and around evolutionary science in the new fields of genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, etc. An avalanche of new and substantive data has recently poured fourth that dwarfs Darwin’s protoplasmic-era theory of 1859, dwarfs the new evolutionary synthesis of the 1950s—literally dwarfs it—and even dwarfs the science available in the 1980s when the last update to the evolutionary synthesis occurred.
What have we in the public heard of this gold-rush bonanza of scientific revelation in biology? Zilch, squat, notta! With the exception of the handful of scientists advancing the theory of intelligent design against the withering tide of political opposition from materialists in science, it has been a fully silent revolution compared to the noise typically made about even relatively minor discoveries everywhere else in science. Politics uber alles!
Despite media silence, the flow of new biological research data is genuinely awesome. In no way can the import of all this data for the intelligent design question be said to be fully understood. The problem for the accidental theory of evolution is very simple: the complexity of living systems has turned out to be exponentially greater than scientists have traditionally believed it to be.
Complexity has become an evolutionary issue in its own right. Intelligent design scientists, primarily microbiologist Michael Behe, mathematician William Dembski, and philosopher of science Stephen Meyer, have been the first to recognize the enormous implications that this newly discovered complexity has for evolutionary theory.
Here, in a nutshell, are the core problems with neo-Darwinian theory: 1) accidental processes do not form the foundation of nature, so saying that our world is one big accident has always been inaccurate; 2) the processes directly responsible for the production of life were not random in the sense of a chaotic mixing bowl analogy; 3) living systems are so complex that the probability that an accidental process could have produced them during the evolutionary timeline is so infinitesimally small as to be dismissible; and 4) biological systems show self-organizational tendencies and self-transformational capabilities substantial enough that the default explanation of life must shift to a non-accidental dynamic.
The burden of proof now shifts to the neo-Darwinists and other proponents of accidental evolution to show that a random/accidental dynamic did in fact produce the systems of biology. This will be a nearly impossible burden to carry, given what we already know of natural history and natural systems. Natural systems are strongly guided by both natural law and the initial state of physical matter and energy coming out of the Big Bang; there is nothing truly random about natural history.
The neo-Darwinists have led the public to believe otherwise by using the word “random” in a completely different context, saying that genetic mutations were “random” in the sense of not being directly related to changes that would benefit a creature in its present environment. To say that genetic mutations that occur in creatures after they are created are not correlated with what would be beneficial to the individual organism in its present environment doesn’t mean that the natural systems and historical event dynamics that first spawned life were accidental. And it doesn’t mean that genetic systems of the kind found in living systems on Earth when combined with the sorts of mutations that occur here, given our universe’s physical system and Earth’s ecosystem, are not often beneficial to a species’ long-term survival. It also doesn’t mean that the combination of those mutations and genetic systems is not conducive to producing a variety of viable life forms, thus forming a tool that an intelligent designer of life might elect to use for his or her own reasons.
Intelligent design has never been ruled out by “random mutations” in the neo-Darwinian sense of the word. However, what one might call a physical perfectionist micromanagement approach to creation is ruled out. But a physical perfectionist does not exhaust the list of possibilities for an intelligent designer of life.
Even the Christian God, being oriented to the spiritual realm, need not require the process for creating physical beings to be flawless in real time. After all, in the Christian metaphysic the highest creatures of the earthly tree of life, human beings, are condemned under burden of the prior mortal sins of their ancestors. They are being given a second chance on Earth, exiled to this literally cursed world that is only a temporary intermediate step to the final perfect spiritual world to follow.
Micromanaging perfectionism is not obligatory in such punitive, intermediate, and temporary conditions. We don’t hold ourselves to that standard in our own prisons, and we are intelligent designers.
What one might call “Darwin’s new clothes,” the neo-Darwinian theory of accidental evolution, are not the theoretical suit of royal armor we have been led to believe. Far up past the humble realms of common sense and pure scientific method where you and I work through our problems, up much higher into the thin heady air of social-scientific Marxism that has for decades now been successfully masquerading as natural science, the neo-Darwinists are finally feeling a cool draft sneak past their thought-to-be-royal attire. People are beginning to question the wisdom of neo-Darwinian dogma.
The logical and evidential support for accidental evolution has turned out to be a scanty little ensemble indeed. Science is beginning to see through it all, awakening to the fact that there are real, substantial, and probably fatal problems with the theory of accidental evolution assisted only by natural selection. The whole thing has turned out to be a monumental embarrassment to science. The new versions of Darwin’s theory (those minus a creator) have no clothes!
Neo-Darwinian theory is an elegantly simple theory, yes. The problem is that it doesn’t seem to be a true theory. Superficially, neo-Darwinian theory seems to be the equivalent of a top of the line Mercedes or BMW limo, but taking a close look under the hood reveals that it is a limo without an engine.
Back down here on earth, where the rest of us mere mortals must do our science the hard way, with fact and logic instead of political theory, the default assumption of accidental evolution doesn’t come so quick and easy any more. Recent data from microbiology and genetic science reveals the neo-Darwinian argument for accidental evolution to be largely political pomp, puff, and bluster. Accidental evolution has turned out to be both a premature conclusion and a wrong one.
Yet has the public heard and understood the consequences of any of this? No. Why not? The Marxist lobby’s has had a death-grip-stranglehold on media spin coming out of mainstream science. Their atheistic spin linguistically smothers the true import of new scientific data.
The simplified view of the genome that has underpinned the false hopes of accidental evolution for decades has finally and irrevocably burst. We can see this with something so brief and unassuming as Elizabeth Pennisi’s article in the premier journal, Science, 15 June 2007. Now we know that it’s just not that easy to accidentally stumble upon a living genome. This is not her point, but mine. However it is an inescapable inference from the increased complexity of the genome that her article, along with hundreds of others, reveals.
Did the public get that point n 2007? No, not at all. That is why I am suffering through the migraines involved in writing this book. Articles containing data that irrevocably refute the accidental evolutionary thesis exist in quantity, but they are published already embedded in the larger scientific cultural context of materialism. Then, post-publication, they are buried in layer upon layer of heavily spun commentaries. What student or non-tenured professor would dare objectively interpret the articles’ scientific, philosophical, and political implications for themselves given the visible weight of “expert” opinion already pushing a neo-Darwinist read across the entire international spectrum of scientific media?
Political fallout from challenging neo-Darwinism has, for many decades, been untenable for scientific professionals. Lay persons on the school and university boards and administrations can’t force a reset in academia because they don’t have time to dig through the propaganda layers in order to be confident that they have an accurate understanding of the subject. They are also afraid of the same kind of political backlash unfairly damaging their school’s reputation, such as occurred at Baylor University when they had the courage to set up an intelligent design theory think tank. Science has become a rigged game within the politically charged arena of evolutionary theory. In essence, we have allowed Marxists to dictate academic policy on teaching evolution via political intimidation. A few courageous scientists are bucking this politically dominated system to get the truth out to the public, but they need your support.
Politics Uber Alless!
If you have been wondering why modern science seems to be so far behind the data in updating evolutionary theory to take the accidental component out of it, the answer is simple. A malicious atheist political propaganda campaign has been subtly and incrementally supplanting scientific integrity in evolutionary science for decades. The public remains largely unaware of this scandal. It is time the rest of the story was heard.
It is the rare discerning reader who will take the trouble to dig far enough into the evidence, language, and logic to discover the hidden Marxist subterfuge that underlies many popular and academic books and lectures on evolution. Propaganda in place of science is not a good thing, but as far as skill and technique goes, the Marxists have been very good at it. They spin discussions of evolution, physics, and cosmology in very subtle ways, always nudging the reader toward atheistic materialism. What one typically reads in discussions by authors of this type is a hybrid of pure science and political philosophy, although it is made to look and sound like pure science.
Sounds too outré to believe, but it is true. There are Marxist propaganda artists who have infiltrated the scientific community and science media community—been there for years! These men and women are professional agents of disinformation, “spies,” for lack of a better word. The average reader has no chance against these professional debaters and information warriors minus mounting a huge personal research effort and spending endless hours working out a tedious analysis of complex scientific jargon and tons of purely linguistic subterfuge (BS.) Yes, it really has gotten that bad: politics uber alles (politics above all else). Science has become an ideological battleground.
A Beautifully Simple Conception
If the case for the accidental version
of neo-Darwinian evolution is so weak as I have described it here, why do we
cast aside the obvious design inference and defer to
First, the argument from authority: we have been taught to believe the experts when they say that the evidence for accidental evolution is by far greater than it is. Why? Because the “experts” say so.
Second: the methodical brilliance,
understated charm, and disciplined eloquence of
Natural selection acting on spontaneous variations in simple and pliable biological systems—it was a beautifully simple conception, elegant in the extreme. It provided a completely stress-free environment for evolutionary theorists. “Oh, don’t worry about it; it could happen by accumulated small changes. The protoplasm does all the work, you know.” For nineteenth century biologists, constructing a body was easy: link a bunch of cells together—they’ll know what to do. We now know the process is much more involved. Life is not a lava-lamp.
Within the socio-historical context of
the mid-nineteenth century,
However, time has not borne out the naïve enthusiasm for the accidental mutation plus natural selection model. Yes, it was so simple as to be supremely elegant; but it turns out it was just too simple. The overconfident expectations of Darwinists and much of the public for quick, incremental, and final confirmation of accidental evolution were never fulfilled. The state of confirmation of the accidental theory of evolution is no further advanced today than when Darwin proposed it in 1859! It is in fact a refuted theory awaiting the removal of purely political barriers to its full repeal.
In all fairness to Darwin, he presented a darn good case within the capacity of the science of his time. There was nothing wrong with Darwin’s judgment. He evinced no blind spots for the evidence. None of the evidence I have argued in this book was available to Darwin. There is no doubt in my mind that Darwin would concede the point that the accidental tenet of his theory of evolution has now been satisfactorily refuted.
Darwin didn’t have Big Bang theory, genetics, or microbiology. Darwin didn’t have squat for hard scientific data relevant to the true nature of the biological processes involved. There was goo inside the cell. That goo was held to be imminently pliable and variable. The parts are small, the changes tiny, and the time to work enormous…This all sounds pretty vacuous compared to the standards for hard biomechanical data today. “Where’s the beef?” one wants to say. But that’s all the beef they had at the time. Darwin’s theory did not mismatch the available scientific data. Today, however, neo-Darwinian theory does mismatch the data.
There was nothing to contradict the accidental hypothesis at the time Darwin wrote his book and no better explanation available. And it did explain a lot of observations of seemingly purposeless events; it did explain minor microevolutions; and it provided a more rationally congruent context for the unending tragedies in nature than the naïve religious finalism of the time: every detail is controlled by God and has an ultimate purpose for the good. God was clearly not micromanaging the world as previously thought, so maybe he wasn’t managing it all. Perhaps it was set completely free on a fully accidental course.
Darwin’s theory did constitute a watershed breakthrough in the development of human thought. It was a genuine historical milestone in philosophy and science. In addition to its being enormously out of date at this point, however, there is one other small problem: the theory isn’t true.
Adding the input of natural selection to lock in otherwise accidental variations was an extraordinarily ingenious touch. In the abstract, and in the absence of hard biochemical and mathematical data to the contrary, it seemed to close the books on orthogenesis and intelligent design. The sheer intellectual thrust of the idea as a philosophical advance was, at the time, so overwhelming that no one stopped to think, “Oh, we don’t yet know the biomechanics of how living systems work. Perhaps later on when we do know the data might not support this new theory.”
Although there was no hard scientific data to support Darwin, his theory was intuitively very explanatory and well corroborated by some visible relatively minor microevolutions, finches’ beaks, and so on. But corroboration is not why his theory succeeded. The phenomenal impact of Darwin’s theory derived not from the fact that it was scientifically confirmed—it wasn’t—but from the fact that it was a philosophical blockbuster and a scientific theory so magnificently elegant that it literally thrilled the human mind to contemplate it—and because it had strong political sponsors (Marxists) working in the background encouraging its acceptance. The devil, of course, if you believe in the supernatural (you should), was strongly pushing for an atheistic accidental worldview behind the scenes as well.
Darwin’s life and work is historically fitted very snuggly between the push for atheistic humanism in the French Revolution and atheistic dialectical materialism coming out of the great march for progress for the lower class worker inaugurated by Marxism and Communism in Germany and Russia. These movements did not leave the intellectual climates in England and the rest of Europe and America unaffected. A major cultural and conceptual revolution was blossoming. It developed great momentum. Masses of people got caught up in it and were swept along at a pace that did not permit careful and critical thinking. Darwin’s success was not entirely about the objective merits of his book, though it was a magnificent piece of work.
Let’s not move on before giving credit where credit is due. The book (The Origin of Species) was good; it was very good. Darwin had a persuasive, a truly logical style of writing (many of his successors have met with less good fortune)—and he did his homework. His conclusions were based on years of study and careful reasoning. Darwin also had a natural charm derived partly from being in love with his subject. What he did not have was knowledge of modern genetic science and electron microscope empowered biochemistry. This was not his fault. One can only imagine what a scientific mind of Darwin’s caliber would do with the tools available today!
As Professor Michael Behe has written,
cells were simply black boxes to
It was an ingenious theory, but it was not an informed theory. And a theory of biological change that is fully ignorant of the biomechanics involved can’t really be a bonafide scientific explanation, can it? It can be intellectual dynamite and constitute an amazing philosophical progression for its age, but it can’t be confirmed science without the biochemical pathways of evolution being known.
Darwin’s theory essentially said “the cell and its protoplasm do all the work required to produce the accidental variations of life, but we have no idea how; then natural selection keeps the good ones and life evolves.” That was it.
Now, in the twenty-first century, one wants to say that that is all a bit fast—and a lot oversimplified. “Hold on a minute Charley! What about all of this new data from genetics and microbiology?” Chances are extraordinarily good that Darwin would draw the same conclusions from the data that we have drawn in this book. The criterion he gave for the refutation of his theory strongly suggests it.
No one questions that
Darwin still made as brilliant a contribution to the history of human thought as anyone—bar none. He gave a completely new field of science its initial impetus, and he inspired countless generations of science students with the true spirit of scientific inquiry. The Origin of Species manifested consummate discipline, careful reasoning, and the romantic quest for discovery. But, as it turns out, despite all of that, Darwin didn’t know how evolution worked in terms of the biomechanics, and when he guessed, he guessed wrong. Accident was not the engine driving the process. There is only one reason a scientist that good could be wrong: he didn’t have the information he needed.
What are the detailed mechanics of the
billions of critical steps at the biochemical level at which they must occur to
achieve transition from amoeba to man? How can random changes add up to
something significantly beneficial without first getting in the way in a
Here’s another good question. If the design inference is so obvious to us, how did Darwin get past it? First, in an odd indirect sense, he didn’t. Darwin didn’t deny the possibility of making a design inference; he actually made one, but in the negative. He personally did not perceive design in nature, but not because he denied that the faculty of perceiving design was available to humans.
Darwin basically said the equivalent of “Intelligent humans would be able to perceive purpose or design in nature if it were there, and I have looked as closely and carefully as anyone and it’s just not there as far as I can see.” But of course he was unable to reach deep enough to see the intricate machinery located at the cellular and genetic levels. He did, however, allow for the possibility that future research would add greater vision into biological processes and thereby refute his theory.
When Darwin looked at nature at the gross superficial level he perceived accidental processes—or thought that he did. He saw no overriding plan or sense to the natural course of events that was then available to inspection. Darwin saw no divine purpose revealed in the macroscopic day-to-day operations of nature. If a man was struck by lightning standing under a tree, Darwin saw no divine providence in it. Neither do I…usually.
It is interesting to note that Christ himself saw no divine providence in it; he acknowledged that there are true accidents in the world (Luke 13:4-5 NABRE), yet he certainly did not deny the world’s Creator. Neither did Darwin in his published work.
Darwin offered his theory of evolution as a theistic evolutionist, as if God had first made the world and then left it more or less on an unguided course. The only obvious intellectual error that I can see that is fairly attributable to Darwin is what one might call the “Bowling Ball Fallacy.” When a master bowler releases a ball down the alley, the bowler and many fans already discern that it is going to be a strike. In some types of events an initial impetus of guidance is enough; one doesn’t have to babysit the ball as it goes down the lane. We know we shouldn’t call the strike an accident just because there is some intervening time and space where the bowler has taken his hand off the ball and it could said to be running along “unguided” except for the laws of nature. We don’t think the variance of an inch or two either way on where the ball hits the front pins, or variations in which pins fly in which direction after a long series of strikes, disproves the existence of an intelligent and skilled bowler.
Darwin’s intellectual independence from modern neo-Darwinists is in clear evidence here. He was not a card-carrying member of the materialist church of a meaningless and accidental world. It is reported that he never read the autographed copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital that Marx sent him, though he gave him a polite reply. Charles Darwin may be the only thinker on record in the history of the evolutionary discussion who saw not even the appearance of purpose in natural processes and at the same time affirmed the Creator as the source of life.
Life’s evolution is the perfect situation to suggest the bowling metaphor, yet Darwin seems to have (understandably) missed it. God throws a bigger ball with more complex movements at deeper levels than human science could track at the time. Life looked like an accident at the time but, upon closer inspection, it turns out that it isn’t.
A tribesman from some isolated region that doesn’t have the sport of bowling but does have frequent rock slides might make a similar error while visiting a Western nation. Looking through the window of a bowling alley that cuts off the view of the bowler standing past the delivery line, he might assume the same about bowling balls: it’s an accident that all the pins are consistently being knocked down because the ball shows no indications of intelligent guidance as far as he can see. But why should he assume that he can see far enough to justify the conclusion? This was the same mistake that nearly all of science in Darwin’s time made.
Actually, it was the next several generations of science that perhaps most unqualifiedly made that mistake. Darwin and his contemporaries both proceeded cautiously and allowed for the future refutation of the theory. It was only after the enormous political clout of the theory of evolution in favor of atheistic materialism in the public mindset became clear that all of a sudden the theory became an unassailable icon fully established beyond any future questioning. But, of course, there is nothing of the spirit of science in calling a theory unassailable in the first place, and certainly not before the physical mechanics of the processes are even known!
This kind of emotional vestment and divinization of a scientific theory has not occurred in regard to any other theory in history, only here in the battle between the proponents of atheistic Marxism and belief in God. Interestingly, the exact same thing happened, only in reverse, in the Catholic inquisition regarding Galileo’s theory in astronomy, and for the same reason: politicization of science in pursuit of ideological dominance.
Yes, I am a Catholic, but no one endorses the inquisition. It was a mistake. Humans make mistakes, big ones, even in pursuit of serving God, who does not endorse such travesties. This is the same mistake the Moslem Jihad is making today. Their genuine religious fervor to protect God-fearing culture from pagan error and immorality in Western cultures (yes, we are guilty as charged and must diligently work to improve) has driven them to try too hard. They are making the mistake of trying to extend the faith by violence, a tactic God does not approve of.
Why did Darwin’s original theory have such clout for atheistic materialism if it is technically compatible with belief in God? Because it damaged the prestige of the Church, a great enemy of Marxism and materialism, that’s why. Many Christians during the early years of the evolution debates, 1860-1960, still believed that every single event that occurred in nature, even the smallest, was ordained by God and had its own purpose that would ultimately serve the larger good—another mistake. God shepherds his creation, yes, but he does not micromanage it.
Christians were wrong about that, but the view was such a widely known flagship tenet of popular theology that, when the Darwinian theory of evolution contradicted it, it struck a very telling blow against theism in the minds of agnostics and atheists around the world. It may have even led many believers to question their faith. This fact was not lost on Marxist political operatives, who are willing to sacrifice truth itself to advance the social acceptance of their theory.
The neo-Darwinists knew their point was not a valid argument against God in general, but they also knew it was a devastating refutation of a belief millions of Christians held to be infallible at the time. If Christians could be mistaken about one religious belief held (in the popular conception) to be infallible (this was not one of the Catholic infallible teachings, which have never been mistaken) why couldn’t they be mistaken about all the others? Because of this widely held mistake in popular theology, the theory of accidental evolution was a monumental propaganda coup in the Marxist war against the Church for the minds of the public.
Has evolutionary science really been that politicized? Come on! Think about it for a moment. Although neo-Darwinists don’t know what the total set of laws, constants, and events are that produced any given macroevolution, somehow they do know it involved only the simplest of steps, and they do know that accident had plenty of time to throw it all together, and they do know that God had nothing to do with it. It is impossible to know the latter without knowing the former. The theory of accidental evolution is a politically sponsored theory; it is not science, Evolutionary science has to be able to do better than this.
Science has now advanced to the point that, if we were honest enough to cast aside politically grounded intransigence, we would see that Darwinian theory has lost both of its primary functional components: random variation and natural selection. Random mutations have been shown to be destructive not constructive, and natural selection can be seen to so infrequently offer an opinion at the key junctures of biological machine construction as to be of little use in the construction phase of the tree of life. Without those two elements, accidental mutations and natural selection, there is no neo-Darwinian theory. At some point we are simply going to have to make the psychological adjustment and admit it: neo-Darwinian evolution is a failed theory.
Charles Darwin, a very religious man in his younger years initially bound for the clergy, was always a theist in his professional published scientific work. He was also a theist for most of his personal life, and never fully an atheist. As a published evolutionary theorist he certainly was not what we now call a neo-Darwinist, a theorist who has added atheism and materialism to the theory of evolution. Darwin’s overall score on logic was excellent, while the logic of the neo-Darwinists stinks. Darwin appeared to have no political or philosophical axe to grind; he was a pure scientist.
Darwin, himself, admitted that neither he nor science had an explanation as to the ultimate origins of life, and he felt it was unlikely that science would ever discern the ultimate origin of things. As far as his scientific writings went, Darwin never intended to ontologically replace God with anything; he acknowledged that God was the origin of the initial breath of life that got evolution going.
True, Darwin didn’t see any indications that God was intervening to direct the individual steps of evolution after the ball had once been set in motion. In fact, he doesn’t appear to have realized there was a bowling ball in motion. But he did see God as the creator who instilled the initial breath of life into living things. What he didn’t see was God micromanaging daily events and biological mutations in real time for the wellbeing of either individual creatures or species.
Darwin saw some mechanisms in nature, of course, planetary movements, the water cycle, growth processes, natural selection, specific anatomical functions, etc. He was so awed by the vastness of the cosmos and the ability of man to contemplate it that he did posit God as the ultimate source of the universe and the natural laws within it. However, he saw no intelligent plan guiding the day-to-day interactive course of natural processes.
What Darwin saw, or thought he saw, was the interaction of purely chance biological form variations and natural selection: a process so unconstrained that, once the larger cosmos had been created and set fully free by God, anything or nothing might have come out of it in the way of life forms and natural processes. Darwin may be unique in history in saying both that God is the creator of our world and that life is a genuine accident. That shows how precise and disciplined a thinker Darwin actually was.
Not having discovered, as we have since, the intricacies of genetics and microbiology, Darwin did not feel compelled to label the universe a machine-building machine. He labeled it a giant lava lamp, a vast wandering, tragic, random lottery drawing type creation. It was a creation, however, that was also beautiful and wondrous beyond comprehension—so wondrous that is spoke to Darwin’s soul of a Creator.
Darwin had no knowledge of the bias for life in nature or the directional factors we can now see thanks to Amir Aczel, Hugh Ross, William Dembski, Roger Penrose, Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, Michael Denton, Simon Conway Morris and the myriad of researchers whose work they summarize. He couldn’t compare the number of physical particles available in the history of our universe to the vastly greater amount now known to be required for an accident to produce life by trial and error.
Darwin’s view at least as of the writing of his classic work The Origin of Species was that God exists but is not necessary to the explanation of the day-to-day processes of nature. He saw a natural process set free to run its own blind course, yes—but set free by God. Hence, it is not Darwin’s formulation of evolution that conflicts with the Christian, Catholic, and Moslem Churches; it is the neo-Darwinist formulations offered by modern theorists such as Richard Dawkins, Ernst Mayr, Monroe Strickberger, and Douglas Futuyma, et al. that conflict with the Church.
It is true that Darwin privately came to believe so strongly in the influence of random mutation aided only by natural selection that he felt the force of the design argument had been negated as pertains to the evolution of gross biological structures. But Darwin did not have the benefit of the evidence of modern biochemistry and genetics in order to see the full strength of the argument for design.
Although Charles Darwin’s personal religious views transitioned at times from believer to agnostic, he was a theist when he wrote The Origin of Species, holding that “the Creator” formed natural law and imbued the essence of life into matter at life’s inception. For a thinker who has become the flagship author of atheistic materialists, it is odd that his conception is remarkably consonant with the account given by Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna Christoph Schönborn in his recent book, Chance or Purpose, at least so far as the inception of life goes.
At the time of his writing,
To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the birth and death of the individual.
Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting, I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind to some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist. This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species, and it is since that time that it has very gradually, with many fluctuations, become weaker.
In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an Atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. I think that generally (and more and more as I grow older), but not always, that an Agnostic would be the correct description of my state of mind.
Note that Darwin here may have, perhaps unwittingly, proposed an interesting argument for God and/or intelligent design: the existence of intelligent thought cannot be accounted for except by positing that an intelligent source somehow engendered it. It is not clear if Darwin was focused on the complexity of thought processes, or the mysterious nature of mind itself, but either way, we have no genuine alternatives to his conclusion to this day. In this passage he confirms that Origin of Species was the work of a theist; affirms that he sometimes still believed in God even in old age; and that at worst during his later years there were fairly frequent moments when his thinking could be called agnostic, but not atheistic.
Finally, consider Darwin’s secretary’s remarks upon persistent inquiries from the public.
Mr. Darwin begs me to say that he receives so many letters, that he cannot answer them all…He considers that the theory of evolution is quite compatible with the belief in a God…
Additional informal comments of the great evolutionist:
I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us, and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.
Nevertheless you have expressed my inward conviction, though far more vividly and clearly than I could have done, that the Universe is not the result of chance.
Claims have been made that
It is an accepted axiom of academia that it is inappropriate to mix a professional person’s private informal comments with their more rigorously vetted formally published work. Certainly we don’t critique scientific journal articles based upon what a researcher has said down at the local pub. The material that is published is critiqued, and nothing else. Darwin himself was most explicit about the fact that he could not make a public recommendation for or against religion because he had not devoted the rigorous thought to the subject required to justify any public statement.
Darwin’s published views clearly did incorporate the Creator as the source of life and natural law. Some of his later speculations posited that natural law would be found to account for life, but he also attributed natural law itself to the work of the Creator. I think we have to go with Darwin’s own published works and his stated opinion regarding giving deference to them. Consider Sir Julian Huxley’s letter on the subject to a correspondent, reprinted in Krishna R. Dronamraju’s excellent book on Huxley, If I Am to Be Remembered.
May 7, 1957
Rev. Rene Petit, S.J.
Thank you for your letter of 29 April, in reply to which I may inform you that Darwin certainly mentioned the Creator in the first edition of the Origin of Species. On page 488 of the 1859 edition (and page 414 of the reprint by Watts & Co., 1950), there is the identical sentence:--“To my mind it accords better…” as you have given in your note No. 2.
Furthermore, in the Essay which he wrote in 1844 and which was not published until after his death…Darwin wrote on pages 253-254 of the 1909 edition; and pages 253-254 of the 1958 edition:
“It accords with what we know of the laws impressed by the Creator on matter that the production and extinction of forms should, like the birth and death of individuals be the result of secondary means….”
Darwin’s position that God did not micromanage the creation of life but allowed secondary processes to complete the details is fully consonant with the general RFP (request for proposal) form of an information-first theory of evolution such as I have proposed at Appendix 15. In other words, God or some other intelligent designer laid down certain general requirements for life without specifying the details of how they must be fulfilled. The designer/Creator allowed nature to take her own course without controlling events in real time, at the same time embedding certain directional constraints and influences pointing in the desired direction. Despite a lack of complete physical control the designer was nonetheless able to predict an outcome that met his/her specifications within given tolerances for error.
Should we be confident that future data will continue to reveal signs of intelligent design and a bias for life? Yes. Why? A very simple truth: accidents cannot make complex machines; they only break them. Try to think of one example where accident has produced a genuinely complex machine. There are none. Demonstrating the actual chain of evolutionary events, and proving them accidental, is the only way to overcome the presumptive falsehood of the accidental theory of evolution that is implied by the astronomical odds against it. We have every reason to believe that such a demonstration can never be made.
Nonetheless, neo-Darwinists tell us that life, the most complex machine we know of, is the sole example of a machine produced by accident. The most complex machine is the only one made by accident? I don’t think so.
Charles Darwin would not have responded that way to the ultra-complex systems we have found in living biology since his own time. He would have had the integrity to admit that here was the genuine refutation of his theory of accidental evolution: one or more systems so complex that they could not have been formed by accident. Modern day evolutionists have simply swept Darwin’s criterion under the rug and ignored it. It has, however, long been satisfied.
The appearance of randomness in nature’s course on the surface, correctly noted by Darwin, has since been overwritten by overwhelming evidence of design beneath the surface of that course in the physics, chemistry, genetics, and biomechanics discovered only with the advent of the electron microscope and genetic sequencing tools. Though these tools were unavailable to Darwin, it is nevertheless a testament to his genius that his more general postulation of an evolutionary process guided by natural law, a process requiring a Creator at its inception, can now stand without need of amendment in the face of modern research.
End Part I
 W. E. Lonnig and H. Saedler, “Chromosome Rearrangements and Transposable Elements,” Annual Review of Genetics, vol. 36 (2002): 389-410. Scott F. Gilbert, John M. Opitz, and Rudolf A. Raff, “Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology,” Developmental Biology, vol. 173, no. 2 (1996): 357-372.
 Wu, Chengcang, Suojin Wang and Hong-Bin Zhang, “Interactions Among Genomic Structure, Function, and Evolution Revealed by Comprehensive Analysis of the Arabidopsis thaliana Genome,” Genomics, vol. 88, no. 4 (2006): 394-406.
 Gee, Deep Time, chap. 5.
 McLeish, Tom. “Introduction: Statistical Mechanics of Molecular and Cellular Biological Systems. Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Vol. 3, no. 6 (2006): 123-124.
 Pope John Paul II, “Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution,” delivered to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 22 October 1996, in Robert John Russel, William R. Stoeger, S.J., and Francisco Ayala, eds., Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Berkeley, CA: Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1998), 3-8.
 As a historical/theoretical point of information, Synthetic Theory includes beefed-up claims about the capabilities of natural selection and several important embellishments of the mechanics of evolution centered mostly on population studies that supposedly advance it beyond classic Darwinian theory. Synthetic Theory is, as best I can determine, God-neutral, whereas neo-Darwinism is historically tied to atheism and materialism. Despite the fact that many authors seem to use the terms Darwinian, neo-Darwinian, and Synthetic theory interchangeably for certain purposes, these three versions of evolutionary theory are not identical twins, but only historically and conceptually close relations. To further muddy the waters, each scientist seems to have his or her own slightly modified version of one or more of these three primary variations of Darwinian theory.
 Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, Chance or Purpose? (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007), 24.
 Very Rev. J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., et al., “Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God,” approved by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then President of the International Theological Commission, and published to the Web at
 Christoph Schönborn, “Finding Design in Nature,” New York Times, July 7, 2005, Op-Ed A23.
 Pope Benedict XVI, Creation and Evolution: A Conference with Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007).
 Sidney Fox, The Emergence of Life (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1988), chap. 8.
 Gerald L. Schroeder, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (New York: Broadway Books, 1998), 4-5.
 D. S. Peters and W. F. Gutmann, “The Meaning of the Theory of Evolution,” in Bernhard Grzimek, ed., Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Evolution (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1976), 37-38.
 Douglas J. Futyma, Evolutionary Biology, 3rd ed. (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc., 1998).
 Monroe W. Strickberger, Evolution, 3rd ed. (Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2000), 59-67.
 Ernst Mayr, Toward a New Philosophy of Biology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), part one, essay three; Theodosius Dobzhansky, “On Some Fundamental Concepts of Darwinian Biology,” in Theodosius Dobzhansky, Max K. Hecht, and William C. Steere, eds., Evolutionary Biology, vol. 2 (New York: Appleton-Century-Crafts, 1968), 32; Carl Zimmer, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), xii.
 V. B. Smocovitis, “G. Ledyard Stebbins and the Evolutionary Synthesis,” Annual Review of Genetics, vol. 35 (2001): 801-14. The “new synthesis” of the 1950s integrated Mendelian genetics, population studies, and various other findings of the separate branches of science into evolutionary theory.
 The standard practice is not to capitalize “synthetic theory.” In the initial use above, I introduced the term in capitals and continue the capitals in the next few footnotes because I wish to make clear to new students of the subject that synthetic theory is in fact a separate and distinct version of evolutionary theory, one that allows for purpose in evolution (at least for some theorists). For our purposes in the debate between intelligent design theorists and proponents of an accidental worldview-based theory of evolution it is not merely another way to say “neo-Darwinian theory” because one allows for purpose and the other does not. (There are other technical differences that I don’t address in this book.)
 Fazale Rana and Hugh Ross, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2004), 222.
 Midgley, Mary. Evolution as a Religion. New York: Methuen & Co., 1985.
 Pope John Paul II, “Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution,” delivered to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 22 October 1996, in Robert John Russel, William R. Stoeger, S.J., and Francisco Ayala, eds., Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Berkeley, CA: Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1998).
 Theodosius Dobzhansky, “On Some Fundamental Concepts of Darwinian Biology,” in Theodosius Dobzhansky, Max K. Hecht, and William C. Steere, eds., Evolutionary Biology, vol. 2, (New York: Appleton-Century-Crafts, 1968), 32.
 In a world where things are truly random in the sense of chaotic, science is not possible. Neo-Darwinists encounter a “Catch-22” kind of dilemma here: either the other world is not random and won’t prove an accidental worldview, or our science won’t be able to operate there in the random world because the natural laws that make our science possible don't hold in a random/chaotic world. There is therefore no way neo-Darwinists can prove an accidental world-friendly multiverse thesis that the blueprint of life (or portions of it) was injected into our universe from another universe after being originated there by accident.
 Eugene V Koonin, et al. “A comprehensive evolutionary classification of proteins encoded in complete eukaryotic genomes,” Genome Biology, vol. 5, no. 2 (2004).
 Cutello, Vincenzo et al. “A Multi-Objective Evolutionary Approach to the Protein Structure Prediction Problem.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Vol. 3, no. 6 (2006): 139-151.
 Michael J. Denton, “Physical Law Not Natural Selection as the Major Determinant of Biological Complexity in the Subcellular Realm: New Support for the Pre-Darwinian Conception of Evolution by Natural Law,” Bio Systems, vol. 71, no. 3 (2003): 297-303.
 Behe, Edge, 100-101.
 Meyer, “Origin of Biological Information,” 213-222.
 Gabrielle A. Reeves, et al. “Genome and Proteome Annotation: Organization, Integration, and Interpretation.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface, vol. 6, no. 31 (2009): 129-147.
 Philip M. Iannaccone, “The ‘New’ Genetics and Mammalian Cloning in Environmental Health Research,” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 108, no. 10 (2000): A438-439.
 See the NASA article, “Universe 101: How Did Structure Form in the Universe?” http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_cosmo_struct.html; Jim Manzi, “The Origin of Species, and Everything Else,” National Review, October 8, 2007, 42-46.
 Trevor R. Hodkinson and John A. N. Parnell, eds., Reconstructing the Tree of Life: Taxonomy and Systematics of Species Rich Taxa (Boca Rotan, FL: CRC Press, 2007), 4.
 Kristi Lew, Evolution: The Adaptation and Survival of Species, Understanding Genetics Series (New York: Rosen Publishing, 2011), 65-67. We have never known precisely how many living or extinct species there were, and unfortunately, we are now losing more than 50,000 species a year to extinction, primarily from reductions in the rain forests.
 Julian L. Griffin, “Metabolic Profiles to Define the Genome: Can We Hear the Phenotypes?” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B, Biological Sciences, vol. 359, no. 1446 (2004): 857-871; Behe, Black Box, 41.
 Anton Nekrutenko, “Reconciling the Numbers: ESTs Versus Protein-Coding Genes,” Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol. 21, no. 7 (2004): 1278-1282.
 See the discussion of dark matter in Lawrence Krauss, Quintessence (New York: Basic Books, 2000).
 Charles Q. Choi, “Dark Side of Black Holes,” Scientific American, vol. 302, no. 3 (2010): 22-24.
 Andrew Grant, “Ghost Particles Shake Physics,” Discover, Jan/Feb 2011, 64. Alicia Chang, “ ‘Monster’ Quasar Is Brightest Object Ever Found,” Huffington Post, 29 June 2011.
 Chris Smeenk, “The Elusive Higgs Mechanism,” in PSA 2004 Part II, Symposia Papers, edited by Miriam Solomon, Philosophy of Science, vol. 73, no. 5 (2006): 487-499.
 Chris Quigg, “The Coming Revolutions in Particle Physics,” Scientific American, vol. 298, no. 2 (2008): 46-53.
 Jaggard, Victoria. “Physics Nobel Explainer: Why Is Expanding Universe Accelerating?” National Geographic News. October 4, 2011: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/10/111004-nobel-prize-physics-universe-expansion-what-is-dark-energy-science/.
 Massimo Pigliucci, “Postgenomic Musings,” Science, vol. 317, no. 5842 (2007): 1172-1173.
 Elizabeth Pennisi, “DNA Study Forces Rethink of What It Means to Be a Gene,” Science, vol. 316, no. 5831 (2007): 1556-1557.
 Behe, Black Box, chap. 1-2.
 Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1st edition, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2004), 210, 525. The second edition adds a third reference to the Creator as he who breathed life into creation. This appears in the very last sentence of the book.
 Darwin, Origin, 210, 525.
 Darwin, Origin, 525.
 Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2005), 70.
 Ibid, 63.
 Ibid, 65.
 Ibid, 72.
 Darwin, Origin, 525.
 Dronamraju, Krishna R., If I Am to Be Remembered: The Life and Work of Julian Huxley with Selected Correspondence. (Singapore: World Scientific, 1993), 225.