- Insist on a definition of the term evolution. Biology texts use the term in the following three ways:
Evidence for a) and b) is often mistakenly advanced in support of c).
- The gradual change in the characteristics of species over the course of time. The Christadelphian need not concern himself with this definition of evolution, since minor changes do occur within species without a change in their essential nature. (E.g. humans today are on the average taller and heavier than humans of a hundred years ago.)
- 'Horizontal differentiation' - the diversification of a single type into a number of types of creatures with similar characteristics. Again, the Christadelphian need not concern himself with this definition since different types of dogs may have come from one dog type, but they are still dogs.
- 'Vertical evolution' - the development of existing forms1 from a few primitive forms with increasing complexity and development through the ages. It is this definition which conflicts with the special creative acts of God outlined in Genesis.
- It is useful to anticipate that the evidence for 'vertical evolution' is usually taken from four major areas:2
- Paleontology - the study of fossil remains of extinct animals and plants, including traces of their existence (e.g. footprints in slate, clay, or coal). It attempts to establish the order in which things lived.
- Morphology and Comparative Anatomy - the study of the comparison of living and dead things for resemblances and differences which might suggest relationships between them and indicate whether one form might have been derived from another.
- Embryology - the study of developing creatures before their birth. Comparisons are made between the adult or developing forms of other creatures.
- Genetics - the study of how the characteristics of parents are transmitted to their offspring, and how variations in these characteristics can arise. It is also concerned experimentally with breeding research in which new variables are produced and specialized.
- In general, the evidence produced in discussion can be critically evaluated in terms of the following schema:
- Evidence required - A reasonable argument in support of vertical evolution must show that there is a finely graded sequence from simply to complex over a long period of evolutionary history.3
- Evidence lacking
- At best paleontological enquiry can only show that one form of life came after another, (granting the generous assumption that all inverted orders of fossil deposits can be explained). Present paleontological enquiry does not prove descent.
- The fossil record does not show a finely graded sequence from simple to complex.4 Its record is one of discontinuity. Types spring suddenly in the Cambrian deposits.
- Morphological, Anatomical,5 and
- Evidence required - It must be shown that x and y are part of an historical sequence of progressive changes, or that x can be made to give birth to y by this or that genetic modification.
- Evidence lacking
- Comparing the anatomy of the wing of a bird, the paddle of a whale and the arm of a man, certain similarities of structure can be observed. But resemblances of structure are just as capable of indicating a common designer as ancestry from prior forms.
- Morphological, anatomical and embryological evidence depend on palaeontological and genetic claims. It depends on whether the fossil record shows a finely graded progression from simple to complex, and whether the study of genetics provides the mechanisms by which creatures would move over time from simple to complex.
- Evidence required - Experimental evidence to prove that chance factors can elaborate the structural complexities of creatures.
- Evidence lacking
- Although it is true that selective breeding has produced many varieties of plants and animals which may, under carefully controlled conditions, breed true to their new type, the fact that almost without exception, such new types would not be viable in nature6 is very strong presumption that evolution is unlikely to have been much helped by such processes.
- Indications of diversity on the same level of organization (e.g., Drosophila - the fruit fly) do not prove that present organization has proceeded from single-celled creatures to complex placentae.
- Years of labour, and millions of dollars of research have gone into unlocking the secrets of genetic codes. If anything, this would indicate deliberate planning and highly intelligent understanding behind its formation. It remains to be proven that it could occur by chance.
- It is helpful to know that there are currently about 1,000,000 species of animals and 250,000 species of plants described in biological literature. Taxonomic categories usually follow the structure set out by Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist. The classification uses the following categories:
- Kingdom - either plant or animal
- Phylum - related classes
- Class - families with common fundamental characteristics
- Family - a cluster of genera (the plural of genus)
- Genus - species with common characteristics
- Species - kinds of plants and animals "the individuals of any one kind differing from each other only in minor traits, except sex; sharply separated in some traits from all other species; and mutually fertile, but at least partially sterile when crossed to other species". Edward O. Dodson, Evolution: Process and Product, (New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1960), p. 28.
The classification of two birds, the red-headed woodpecker and the red-winged blackbird would, for example, be classified as follows:
- Evidence for evolution is sometimes taken from biogeography (the study of geographical distribution of plants and animals) and taxonomy (the science of the classification of organisms). These, however, are not usually the crucial arguments. When arguments of classification are advanced by evolutionists it requires stressing that it is the evolutionist, and not the fossils, which orders the single celled amoeba, first, and next to it places a multicellular hydra, a three-layered worm, an amphioxus, and then a fish, an amphibian, reptile, lower mammal, lower ape, higher ape, and man. The order is a synthetic one. It no more proves that one form of life came from another than the arrangement of books on a shelf from simple to complex proves that the books "evolved". Both simple and complex may have been produced simultaneously. Arguments from the classification assume the very thing which must be proved. Return
- This argument is considered in greater detail in an excellent article by C. E. A. Turner, "Phantom Ancestors". The article is an abstract from a pamphlet published by the Evolution Protest Movement under the title, "Horse Sense about Horse Evolution". See Science Section ed. by D. A. B. Owen, The Testimony, 34, No. 401, (May, 1964), pp. 171-173. Return
- Alfred Norris notes, "Of course specific instances to the contrary are claimed. In particular, much is made of the evolution of the horse from a primitive, dog-sized and multitoed eohippus ('dawn horse') to our modern large and single-toed-equus. Here we can, if we wish, join 'deceitful delusion', and exploit the differences which exist between those who try to arrange the fossils in sequence. But it is much more profitable, to my mind, to point out that even if the sequence were absolutely demonstrated we begin with a placental mammal of a particular type, and we finish with a placental mammal of the same type. It is bigger in size (but no one calls that evolution), and it has fewer toes (which needs no comment), but it is utterly valueless in providing any sort of presumption that less complex creatures evolve into more complex ones; for nothing of the kind has happened in this instance. Nor has it in any other for which the sequence is claimed to be sufficiently complete to justify a belief in demonstrated descent." Alfred Norris, 'Where Science and Religion Meet: Is Evolution a Fact?' The Christadelphian, 102, No. 1208, (Feb., 1965), pp. 59-62. Return
- Sometimes vestigal organs (useless representatives of organs which in other animals serve a useful purpose) are presented as proof of evolution. It is argued that these useless organs like the coccyx (last vertebral column of man and said to be the vestigial tail) or the appendix have no function in humans but functioned in the ancestors of humans. The argument assumes that if no purpose is known for organs that no purpose exists. Weidersham listed 180 of such organs which he considered "useless luggage". Recent research has shown that only a small number of organs now have no known purpose at some stage in the human life. Many evolutionists are critical of the vestigial proof for evolution as the "useless luggage" becomes increasingly smaller. See H. Enoch, Evolution or Creation, (London: Evangelical Press, 1968) pp. 14-21. To make a case for evolution, it must be shown that nascent organs are in evidence (organs newly acquired by an animal, but which did not exist in its ancestors). Such proof has not yet been found. Return
- It is generally accepted that the genes (heredity determiners) tend to keep species constant. However, the genes are capable of undergoing a change (mutation), so that the trait determined is different from the original and is just as stable. Since mutations form the basis of heredity they are thought by evolutionists to provide the raw material or mechanism for evolution. Nearly all such mutations result in inferior survival chance in nature. "Indeed inasmuch as a living cell is an exceedingly complex, very finely adjusted whole, it is to be expected that any permanent change in cellular properties would be more or less disruptive and harmful." Paul Weisz, The Science of Biology, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960), p. 690. Return