By Phillip Johnson
Review and comments
by Kurt Howard, M.S.
No empirical evidence
Bacteria to invertebrate, fish to amphibian, reptile to bird, ape to man – for none of these alleged transformations have Darwinists presented any-empirical evidence. In other words, they have not demonstrated experimentally the conversion from one basic body plan to another. Furthermore, fossil evidence for transitional forms is either controversial or nonexistent. This modern day creation myth, which has come to rule contemporary thought, is based on naturalism, the idea that all the complexity seen in the world came about as a result of a mindless, purposeless, random process. In Darwin on Trial, Phillip Johnson brings the light of analysis and logic to bear on these crucial claims.
Time is the hero
The assertion that time is the hero of the story and can create the wonders of nature is obviously not based on experimental studies, but on a philosophical worldview called naturalism. This view supposes that the universe and all it contains is the result of natural causes, that there has been no supernatural interference. Claiming that, over a period of billions of years, hydrogen evolved into man, is as irrational as claiming that billions of years of random keyboard strokes could produce Microsoft Windows software. This absurd notion is equivalent to the prevailing view that random DNA copying errors over countless eons have produced the incredibly complex organ systems of living creatures. It is clear that these views are not based on empirical data, but on the assumption of naturalism. Anyone not imprisoned within the walls of this worldview can see that it takes intelligence to create complex systems.
Examples of “Evolution”
But what about examples of “evolution” given in the standard textbooks? What about the “evolution” of the peppered moth? These moths underwent limited variation from white to dark and back again to white, merely expressing features that already existed in their genetic, code.
Their color started out mainly white in pre-industrial England, changed to dark as industry scattered soot on. the trees and then changed back to white after the introduction of clean air laws. All the time they were moths.
What about fruit flies? They can develop grotesque abnormalities as a result of scientist-induced X-ray exposure, but all the time they were still fruit flies.
What about bacteria and insects developing immunity to drugs and insecticides? Certain individual bacteria and insects, possessing genetic characteristics that conferred resistance, survive and propagate. The bacteria are still bacteria and the insects are still insects.
What about Darwin’s finches? These birds were transformed from possessing larger, then smaller, then again larger beaks, depending on the climate-dependent available food of the islands they inhabited. They were and still are finches.
And what about dogs? After centuries of dog-breeding we have Chihuahuas and Great Danes and many breeds in between, all derived from a wolf-like progenitor. Human breeders have taken advantage of the great variability in the dog genome, selecting relentlessly and protecting the resulting freaks of nature. They are still dogs.
Finally, what about plant hybrids? By intelligent selection, wheat breeders created improved varieties, until they reached the end of genetic variability. At that point, improvement in yield ceased, in spite of continued attempts to go beyond previously achieved gains. They started with wheat and ended with wheat.
A Genetic Wall
All empirical data show that selection by nature or by man is up against a genetic wall that disallows conversion to a different body plan. Evolution – if this means conversion to a new body plan – has not been empirically demonstrated. Belief in evolution rests on faith, on a worldview based on an a priori assumption of naturalism.
Similarity in organs – homology – does not necessarily mean common ancestry. Wings, legs and flippers can simply demonstrate common design. Likewise, similarity in DNA nucleotide sequences does not prove common ancestry. A chimp’s DNA sequence is 98% concordant with that of a human, because common features and DNA sequence are based on a common design. Without the a priori assumption of naturalism, one is free to acknowledge a common Designer for these similarities.
The Faith of Naturalism
Science has been captured by naturalism and the faith of naturalism has defined the rules of debate. It is forbidden to postulate an Intelligent Creator as an explanation for the intelligence seen in creation. Design proponents are banished from the debate. If an alternative view is not naturalistic, it is not considered science. Since it is not science, it is therefore religion. By the rules of naturalism, science deals with facts. Therefore, if an explanation is not naturalistic, it is merely subjective belief.
Random mutation and natural selection are the pillars of Darwinist thinking. Mutation is conceded to be harmful about 99.8% of the time, neutral about 0.1% of the time. and possibly advantageous the remainder of the time. Sickle cell anemia is one of those very rare mutations that may be considered partially beneficial in falciparum malaria infested areas but it has no value elsewhere. This mutation in its full-blown expression is deadly because it garbles critical information for hemoglobin production and does not represent an increase in information. Similarly, natural selection cannot generate new information. It is important, not for creating new species, but rather for conserving existing ones by weeding out the unfit. Natural selection is not a mechanism for introducing new information to produce greater complexity into the genome.
The Fossil Record
The fossil record presents serious problems to Darwinists. Darwin said that species were transformed into different species by countless tiny, gradual steps. The innumerable intermediate forms required by Darwin’s gradualism are blatantly absent from the fossil record. Darwin said that complex forms would develop from simple forms by a slow gradual process. The “Cambrian explosion” shows very abrupt appearance of many complex body plans with no apparent predecessors. Major body plans then stay unchanged in the fossil record, either continuing to the present or becoming extinct. No transformation from one body plan to another is seen and those that became extinct did so not because of losing out in the “survival of the fittest,” but due to of catastrophic events.
Phillip Johnson has produced an insightful analysis of Darwinism and has proposed rules of reasoning and logic that could rescue the sciences, which are today suffering from the stultifying effect of dogma. He explains the semantic trickery used to achieve mind control and to acquire domination over the main institutions of contemporary culture. The reader is urged to read Darwin on Trial to become informed of the issues surrounding one of the main battles for the mind and soul of man.