What have we learned since Charles Darwin's treatise on evolution, The Origin of Species, was first published in 1859? Science has advanced greatly since those horse -and-buggy days. In addition to a thorough exploration of the fossil record, a vast amount of other information is readily available.
As we saw in considering the fossil record, the controversy about evolution is increasing. Thomas Woodward chronicles the latest round of the intelligent design vs. evolution debate: "It was painfully real, and when the seething controversy exploded in August 2005— triggered by an offhand comment at the White House—millions of Americans shook their heads, either in disbelief or in anger, as it was discussed in headline news and network newscasts.
"Blamed for the growing crisis was an unlikely group of troublemakers, most with Ph.D.s after their names. This scattered group in recent years had grown into a network of several hundred scientists and other scholars ... In case you hadn't guessed it, the group bore a name: the Intelligent Design Movement" (Darwin Strikes Back, pp. 19-20). The heated controversy quickly spread beyond the United States to most of the world.
Why the confusion and contention? Simply put, as we saw with the fossil record, the increasing scientific evidence doesn't fit the Darwinian model—and evolutionists increasingly are finding themselves on the defensive.
Why has this happened? Mainly because the primary supposed proofs of evolutionary theory have not held up to further discovery and scrutiny.
What about natural selection?
After the fossil record, the second supporting pillar of evolution offered by Darwinists is natural selection, which they hoped biologists would confirm. "Just as the breeders selected those individuals best suited to the breeder's needs to be the parents of the next generation," explained British philosopher Tom Bethell, "so, Darwin argued, i— ~ ' ' --
Can Evolution Explain Life's Complexity?
nature selected those organisms that were best fitted to survive the struggle for existence. In that way evolution would inevitably occur. And so there it was: a sort of improving machine inevitably at work in nature, 'daily and hourly scrutinizing,' Darwin wrote, 'silently and insensibly working ... at the improvement of each organic being.'
"In this way, Darwin thought, one type of organism could be transformed into another—for instance, he suggested, bears into whales. So that was how we came to have horses and tigers and things—by natural selection" ("Darwin's Mistake," The Craft of Prose, Robert Woodward and Wendell Smith, editors, 1977, p. 309).
Darwin saw natural selection as the major factor driving evolutionary change. But how has this second pillar of evolutionary theory fared since Darwin's day? In truth, it has been quietly discarded by an increasing number of theorists among the scientific community.
Darwin's idea that the survival of the fittest would explain how species evolved has been relegated to a redundant, self-evident statement. Geneticist Conrad Waddington of Edinburgh University defines the fundamental problem of advocating natural selection as a proof of Darwinism: "Natural selection . . . turns out on closer inspection to be a tautology, a statement of an inevitable although previously unrecognized relation. It states that the fittest individuals in a population . . . will leave most offspring" (p. 310).
In other words, the answer to the question of which are the fittest are those that survive, of course. And which ones survive? Why, naturally, the fittest. The problem is that circular reasoning doesn't point to any independent criteria that can evaluate whether the theory is true.
Selection doesn't change species
Darwin cited an example of the way natural selection was supposed to work: A wolf that had inherited the ability to run especially fast was better equipped to survive. His advantage in outrunning others in the pack when food was scarce meant he could eat better and thus survive longer.
Yet the very changes that enabled the wolf to run faster could easily become a hindrance if other modifications of the body did not accompany the increased speed. For example, the additional exertion required to run faster would naturally place an added strain on the animal's heart, and eventually it could drop dead from a heart attack. The survival of the fittest would require that any biological or anatomical
■ll alterations would have to be in harmony and synchronized with other bodily modifications, or the changes would be of no benefit.
Natural selection, scientists have found, in reality deals only with the number of a species, not the change of the species to another. It has to do with the survival and not the arrival of the species. Natural selection only preserves existing genetic information (DNA); it doesn't create genetic material that would allow an animal's offspring to sprout a new organ, limb or other anatomical feature.
"Natural selection," said Professor Waddington, "is that some things leave more offspring than others; and you ask, which leave more offspring than others? And it is those that leave more offspring; and there is nothing more to it than that. The whole guts of evolution —which is, how do you come to have horses and tigers and things— is outside the mathematical theory [of neo-Darwinism]" (Wistar Symposium, Moorehead and Kaplan, 1967, p. 14).
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