EVOLUTION: FACT OR PHILOSOPHY

by Jan Young


CHAPTER 1: WHY QUESTION EVOLUTION?

How solid is the scientific evidence for the theory of evolution? Recent findings have cast doubt on what many thought were the facts about evolution. Many of the transitional forms have been called into question. No common ancestor has been proven to link apes and humans. Despite what is still printed in textbooks, the fossil record is no longer seen as indisputable proof for evolution.

WHAT IS EVOLUTION?

The theory of evolution claims that the universe, the solar system and the earth were formed billions of years ago in an explosion of gases called the Big Bang. Atoms and molecules somehow organized themselves into complex arrangements. Over a long period of time, all the elements developed, along with all the forces and laws of nature. All these things happened by chance.

Most of the geographical features of the earth formed through slow, gradual processes that continue to operate today. The earth developed atmosphere, water, and just the right combination of elements for life to spontaneously begin. The first living cell somehow originated DNA, the complex genetic code that tells cells how to grow and reproduce.

Over millions and billions of years, the one-celled organism developed into more and more complex organisms, by mutations of genes. Only those mutations survived which gave the organism a greater ability to adapt and to reproduce.

Life evolved to form insects, fish, birds, reptiles, and finally, mammals. Apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor. All this happened by chance, through natural processes that continue to operate today.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

You may already have an opinion about whether or not the theory of evolution is true. Or perhaps you haven’t thought much about it, one way or the other. You may not even care. Should you?

Whether you realize it or not, your belief about evolution affects your entire philosophy of life. It is the basis for your value system, your self-esteem, or your lack of it. Understanding the implications of evolution-based thinking will help you understand modern trends in our society.

If the theory of evolution is true, humans are not created beings--humans are merely advanced animals. If humans were not created by a higher being or force, then we are not responsible to any higher authority than ourselves.

That means there is no basis for an absolute standard of right and wrong that all people should be held accountable to. Morality is relative--each person has the right to decide for himself or herself what is right and wrong. If we are animals, then instant gratification of our desires becomes could easily be considered more important than the concepts of self-discipline and self-denial.

If survival of the fittest is how evolution took place, then the way to get ahead is to ruthlessly exercise power over others who are weaker than you. What incentive is there for the old-fashioned values of selflessness, charity, or compassion for the weak?

If you are merely an animal, a chance happening, then you may feel that your life has no ultimate value, meaning or purpose. You may feel that you have no real reason for living. You may lack self-esteem. People seem to be losing respect for the sanctity of human life, as reflected in the growing acceptance of abortion, euthanasia and suicide (either self-inflicted or assisted).

If you are just an animal, and the struggle for survival is the ultimate value, with no absolute standard of right and wrong, then your views of how people should act in the business world will be affected. Ethical standards in government will also reflect this moral relativism. The idea that “the end justifies the means” will govern the actions of more and more people, including those in authority over us, those who have the power to tax us and the power to interpret how our laws will be applied in our particular situation.

These changing views of morality are reflected in society today. Can they be traced to the growing belief that humans are merely the product of random chance, just the highest form of animal life? If we are only animals, doesn't it follow that we can only be expected to act like animals? Does this belief contribute to the rising problems of low self-esteem, crime and suicide among young people today?

These are issues that will affect your life, sooner or later. Many of your values can be traced to your view of who you are and how you got here.

DID EVOLUTION HAPPEN?

Some people believe the evidence points to the theory of evolution. But today, more and more scientists are questioning the scientific basis of evolution. Many aspects of the theory of evolution contradict known laws of science and mathematics.

If the theory of evolution is true, then all things came into being "naturalistically." Only natural events took place--events that follow the laws of nature, as we see them operating today. That means, no supernatural events had anything to do with causing the things around us to take their present form.

Evolutionists have a naturalistic world view. Therefore, the theory of evolution must be based only on the laws of nature, and must be able to explain the origin of everything. In this book, we will see how well evolution stacks up against this naturalistic view.

When we think of evolution, we think of living organisms changing from simple to more complex. But if the theory of evolution is true, it must also be able to explain how the earth and the universe originated. They had to have formed according to known laws of nature. Where did everything come from in the first place? How did life begin?

Evolution was once thought to have the answer to these questions. But as we will see in the following pages, science has shown that life can only come from living substances. Science has also demonstrated that things never get more complex by chance, as evolution requires.

Paleontologists have studied fossils found in layers of rock. The fossil record does not show that simpler organisms changed to more complex organisms, as once thought. Methods used to date the fossils are not as reliable as once believed.

Biologists have found that slow, gradual change is improbable. Most changes are so complex that many mutations would have to take place all at once. Mathematicians have shown that the chance of evolution happening by mutations is zero. Scientists are now admitting that the theory of evolution cannot be studied by the classic "scientific method." In order to address these issues, the theory of evolution has "evolved" from Charles Darwin's view of slow gradual change to include the possibility of rapid change also. These problems and others will be discussed in this book.

Many scientists maintain a belief in the fact of evolution even when scientific evidence contradicts it. Everyone is free to believe what they choose, including scientists. However, this type of belief might better be called philosophy than science. It is common to speak of "believing in" evolution, yet we never speak of “believing in” gravity, electricity or space travel. Is evolution science, or is it philosophy?

LOOKING AT BOTH SIDES

Thinking logically is an important part of being a scientist. You may not think of yourself as a scientist, but in a way, you are. According to the dictionary, a scientist is someone who observes things, thinks logically about them, and draws conclusions based on his observations. These are things that you do all the time.

As you read this book, you will be encouraged to think logically and to examine the evidence for and against the theory of evolution as if you were a scientist. You will find that not everyone comes up with the same answers. That is because different people look at the same evidence in different ways.

The purpose of this book is to raise many questions, but not necessarily to provide the answers or argue for an alternate theory of origins. In the following chapters, we will be looking at some of the problems with the theory of evolution. Each chapter deals with a particular aspect of the theory, and begins with an overview of the case for evolution.

We will then examine some of the problems with the theory. We will see how the evidence compares to known facts and laws of science. We will see how different scientists interpret the evidence. We will hear from scientists who are convinced of evolution and also from those who question it. Since most non-religious books on evolution deal only with the supporting evidence, this book will concentrate on the conflicting evidence.

Another purpose of this book is to examine the issue in a calm, unemotional way. Many books resort to ridicule, name-calling and emotionalism when discussing the conflicting views about evolution, and those who hold them. These methods are often used as substitutes for supporting evidence. Many evolutionists say that those who question evolution are so ridiculous that their questions don’t even deserve a serious answer. Such a defense of evolution does not satisfy anyone who is seriously seeking information on which to base his or her opinion.

Accusations about religious views are used as ammunition against those who question evolution. However, religion need not enter the discussion. In this book, the problems with evolution will be presented only in the context of scientific evidence. In the concluding chapter, we will discuss the possibility of a non-religious presentation of evolution in the public school science classroom.

School textbooks generally present evolution as fact, but often support it with out-dated and incomplete information. The material in this book, though not new or unknown to scientists, is seldom included in textbooks. Yet it has great bearing on whether or not the theory of evolution has actually been proven scientifically. After reading this book, you will be better equipped to weigh the evidence both for and against evolution.

What do you think: is evolution fact or philosophy?


Copyright 2003 Jan Young

Return to Table of Contents

Return to Jan Young--Author