Darwin Doubts: Part 3
Many question why God would waste His time on so many doomed organisms if evolution were His creative method of choice used to construct life on Earth. But can you dismiss the evidence for intelligence just because you don’t like what is assumed about that intelligence? David Hume argued that if a designer created the Universe, what then could we conclude about this designer if we study what it produced? We may think it seems a big mess...
This Universe points to a designer that is not that powerful: why all the animal extinctions over time?
It points to a designer who is not morally good: why make wasps?
Doesn’t necessarily point to one single designer: how many people work to design and build a cruise liner for example? And if things go wrong with the ship, it tends to be because the engineering team didn’t communicate well with the plumbing team, etc.
So, if the Universe has flaws in its design, should we conclude that a team of designers were behind it – like the Greek Pantheon of Gods who squabble and bicker and the Earth pays the price?
However, with these particular lines of attack we are no longer talking within the realms of Science. Many atheists when presented with the mathematical and scientific challenges to Darwin stray into ethical, philosophical and theological debates in order to crush the necessary conclusion for intelligent design. But if we keep the debate firmly in the Scientific world for now, what conclusion should we hold to? What is the most logical, best-fit approach from the evidence put forward?
Evidence of Organic Molecules Arising Naturally
Darwinian evolutionists point to evidence from the Stanley Miller Experiment in 1953 which managed to artificially produce the building blocks of life by reproducing the early atmosphere of the Earth and shooting sparks through it to simulate lightning. Miller produced a red goo containing amino acids. This experiment apparently shows how unguided, naturalistic forces could have formed molecules which caused the first proteins to exist. Thus, no intelligent designer is required in evolutionary models (although you needed intelligent Stanley Miller in this experiment to produce the molecules!). Jonathan Wells, a PhD scientist in molecular and cell biology from Berkeley, has serious reservations about the Miller Experiment:
Nobody knows for sure what the early atmosphere on the Earth was like, but the consensus among scientists today is that it was nothing like the cocktail of gases that Miller used;
If you use the gas mixture that scientists accept today and repeat the experiment, you do not get any amino acids arising – you actually get Cyanide and other extremely toxic molecules. If there happened to be any loose proteins (needed for life) floating around in this chemical soup then the toxic molecules would fry them instantly just from their fumes alone;
Even if amino acids were delivered to Earth via an asteroid, you are still miles off from having a functioning cell, especially in the time restraints given (see my previous posts on the mathematical challenges of Darwinism).
The biochemist and atheist Francis Crick stated “an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going”.
But what about the Archaeopteryx missing link?
In 1859 Darwin lamented that the biggest issue with his theory was the lack of evidence in the fossil record. He asked “if species descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, why do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional fossils?” Lee Strobel writes “as if on cue, two years later scientists unearthed the archaeopteryx in a German quarry. Darwin’s supporters were thrilled – surely this missing link between reptiles and modern birds, unveiled so promptly after the publication of Darwin’s book, would be just the first of many future fossil discoveries that would validate Darwin’s claims”.
These future discoveries have failed to materialise. Jonathan Wells also has doubts about the ability of the archaeopteryx to offer any evidence for Darwinian evolution: “do you get from a reptile to a bird – which is an astonishingly huge step – by some totally natural process or does this require intervention from a designer?” It turns out that this fossil does not demonstrate a creature that was half-reptile and half-bird. Palaeontologists nowadays agree that the fossil is a bird with modern feathers – very different from a reptile in terms of its breeding system, bone structure, distribution of muscles, etc. Plus, the fossil record now shows that animals that look most like reptilian ancestors of birds occur tens of millions of years later than the dating of the archaeopteryx ‘finding’! Either birds evolved from reptiles millions of years after this fake fossil, or the premise that birds naturally evolved from reptiles is wrong as the dates don’t fit and the archaeopteryx can be treated as an authentic fossil. Either way, there are big issues with this piece of ‘evidence’ for Darwinian evolution.
Other transitional fossils have been ‘found’ over the years but as Alan Feduccia (evolutionary biologist at North Carolina University) states: “archaeoraptor is the tip of the iceberg. There are scores of fake fossils out there, and they have cast a dark shadow over the whole field. I have heard there is a fake-fossil factory in northeast China, in Liaoning Province, near the deposits where many of these recent alleged feathered dinosaurs were found.”
A big issue for Natural Selection via Random Mutation:
Intelligent Design can explain the convergence we see in the fossil record. Convergence is when different species that separated from their common ancestor a long time ago spontaneously arise the same bodily features at a later date. For example, bats, birds and butterflies all developed wing body plans separately. In unguided, random Natural Selection, wouldn’t you expect to see a wide variety of whacky designs that bear no resemblance to each other if they aren’t closely related? Why would wings appear on unrelated organisms whose DNA code should have drastically (and randomly) evolved/mutated over the large timeframe since they separated into new, distinct species? Convergence paints a picture of intelligent direction in evolutionary models; not directionless, random forces, indifferently governing Life’s progress.
An intelligent designer would utilise the same code many times to create similar yet unrelated organisms. Like how a car designer working for BMW may use body plans from earlier models with a few tweaks to settle on the latest version. The wheel is such an effective design – why mess with it and attempt to create square ones? The wheel is a common design feature used again and again and again across very diverse car models. In the same way, a wing may have some variations, but the concept of what a wing is doesn’t change. A designer may fall back on the concept of a wing and utilise it in many different creations. How does Darwin explain convergence? Through "junk DNA" that has now been disproved? How many leaky holes must appear before a bucket is thrown away and not fit for purpose?
Humans and Apes: Ancestry?
We are 98% genetically similar to chimps, so the theory goes that we must share a common ancestor to explain this. Jonathan Wells disputes this by suggesting that the similarities are actually a huge problem for Darwinists: “if you assume, as neo-Darwinism does, that we are products of our genes, then you are saying the dramatic differences between us and chimps is due to 2% of our genes…the problem is that the so-called body-building genes are in the 98% (the 2% are really rather trivial genes that have little to do with anatomy)”. We both have two legs, two arms, organs in similar locations, etc. but if an intelligent designer aimed to reutilise similar features then obviously we are going to have many overlaps in our genetic code with other organisms that bear a similarity to us. In the same way that “builders use the same materials – steel girders, rivets, and so forth – to build bridges that end up looking very dissimilar from one another”.
If we shared a common ancestor and inherited the majority of our genes via that mechanism, then why do the genes produce such different outcomes in the chimp species vs. the human species? The surprising thing is not the similarities but the vast differences between us when our coding is 98% the same. The differences between us allows our species to be conscious, moral, spiritual, intelligent, purposeful, altruistic, conceptual; i.e. bearing the marks of the Maker, being the only species that was made in “the image of God”.
Darwinism: No! Evolution: Yes! Intelligent Design: Convinced?
How did God create life? If it was via evolution, then great – there is plenty of evidence to attest to it. If it was via creating outright ‘kinds’ in specific families of organisms, which then diversified via micro-evolution, then that is well within the realms of possibility. The teachings of the Bible hint in this direction and it avoids the issues that Darwin’s model has with explaining how the first life form came to be and then how all the diversity arose from that one lucky cell in a short period of time. If God created via a different, as yet unknown mechanism, then I can’t wait to hear all about it through new scientific discoveries. But I would argue that the fine-tuned Universe and Origin of Life needs an explanation that incorporates intelligence, consciousness, purposefulness, powerful intervention and meticulously planned design. None of this I find in Darwin’s model.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.” Psalm 139
References & Footnotes  I believe I have indirectly answered many of these philosophical criticisms in earlier posts. See specifically My Purpose? posts, Why does God allow suffering? Objection - what about other religions, Morality: Proof of God? and the 4-part series on Why did Jesus have to die?  Klaus Dose and Sidney Fox (origin of life scientists) confirmed that Miller used the wrong gas mixture (hydrogen-rich mixture of methane, ammonia and water vapour).  The consensus today is that there was very-little hydrogen but plenty of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapour.  The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel  The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, 1859  The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, p.67  The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, p. 68  An accepted/uncontested dogma in Darwinian science  Discover Magazine, “Plucking apart the dino-birds”, Kathy A Svitil, 2003  Following a Darwinian model for now…  The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, p.65  The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, p. 65  Genesis 1:27