©1996,1998 Darel Rex Finley. This article may be freely distributed so long
as it is not modified or abridged. The author of this article is not affiliated
with any persons, companies or products mentioned herein.
Revised July 4, 1998 (substantial changes)
Revised September 14, 2000 (reference to Walter ReMine replaces Moorehead & Kaplan)
Today, we live in a global society in which naturalistic evolution is widely
presumed to be the known mechanism by which complex life came into being.
Belief in evolution is heavily associated with the scientific approach to knowledge,
and it is pervasively implied that people who doubt evolution are either superstitious
or willfully ignorant. The situation is not helped by a small contingent
of biblical literalists who seem to steal the limelight from more rational
doubters, or are willfully given that limelight by a pro-evolution media.
In this atmosphere, I feel obligated to present a rational explanation
of my disbelief, both to deflect the impression that I am irrational, and
to encourage other disbelievers to be unafraid to express their opinion
on the subject.
Although this article is not primarily about religion, I must begin with a brief discussion of religious matters, since they are socially intertwined with the subject of evolution. (If you are uninterested in this section, skip to "Empirical Problems," below.)
My experiences in life have convinced me that virtually everyone, regardless
of intelligence, carries philosophical or religious biases in favor of some
vision of the purpose of life. Furthermore, those very few who do not have
such biases are generally apathetic. They do not tend to become evolutionary
scientists, due to a lack of interest in weighty questions about historic
A philosophic bias is not necessarily wrong. Obviously, if one person has
a bias that something is true, and another person has a bias that it is
false, they cannot both be wrong! A bias may be held on the basis of a
feeling or emotion, but may nonetheless be correct.
Neither is a bias necessarily anti-scientific. Some biases deal with subjects that science cannot presently explore, and sometimes people are willing to relinquish a bias if strong empirical evidence renders it non-credible.
My philosophical bias the one which is relevant to the
subject of evolution is that an omnipotent being we call God deliberately
caused the universe to exist and us humans to exist in it specifically
that he created the universe with us in mind. Since an omnipotent being
can do anything, this leaves open many conceivably possible scenarios as
to the exact process by which God created us. A few possibilities are listed
* All life evolved just as Darwin imagined; God gave the universe a set
of physical laws and initial conditions that he knew would evolve the beings
he wanted to create. The story of Adam and Eve is only metaphorical.
* All life evolved naturalistically, but Adam and Eve did exist as the first
humans to be given souls with conscious thought. All humans today are their
descendants. The Garden of Eden may have actually existed, by supernatural
* Plants and animals evolved, but humans were directly created.
* All life was directly created by supernatural intervention.
* Evolution of a sort occurred, but it was guided by periodic intervention.
Many more hybrid scenarios could be listed, but the main point is that while
my bias precludes atheism, it still leaves me open to consider a wide variety
of life-origin possibilities. Empirical evidence, however, may not be so
flexible it may narrow the field considerably to a very few scenarios or
even a single possible scenario.
Before looking at the empirical problems with evolution, two observations
should be noted about the nature of scientific theories and their empirical
1. All theories work on paper. Any scientific theory can be described
so that it sounds correct, even manifestly correct. The reason why an empirical
test is needed is because on paper a theory can make any assumptions it
needs to make in order to work. Often, these assumptions turn out to be
false when the empirical situation is evaluated.
2. Negative evidence is more important than positive evidence.
Positive (supporting) evidence of a theory can always be found. Usually,
this is why the theory was formulated in the first place. If many examples
of supporting evidence are found, but only a few pieces of negative evidence
are found, it might seem that the positive examples outweigh the negative. But empirical evidence does not add up this way. A single piece of strong,
negative evidence can destroy a theory. Theories are confirmed not primarily
by positive evidence, but by a lack of credible negative evidence.
There are three basic problems with evolution which I would like to mention:
On paper, the theory of evolution can assume that whatever amount of time
is needed to evolve existing lifeforms was available. However, massive
geological evidence exists that the environment of the Earth has been hospitable
to the survival (not to mention the appearance) of life for roughly 4 billion
years. That may sound like an eternity, until you start considering what
has to have happened in that time. Human DNA alone (leaving aside the other
complex structures of the cell) consists of about 3 billion nucleotides of genetic instruction.
This means that according to evolution, they must have evolved at an average
rate of about 0.75 nucleotides per year (not per generation).
If the rate was not constant, then there must have periods when this rate
was even faster.
Naturalistic evolution is supposed to happen so: Periodically an individual
organism will be formed that has a genetic mutation, an error, in its DNA. Probably, this error will be neutral or detrimental, but it is conceivable
that a very rare error will be somehow slightly beneficial. Thus, this
individual creature will have a slightly better chance of surviving and
procreating than its peers. If this individual survives and procreates
(i.e., is not eaten in infancy), then over many (hundreds?) of generations, that slight
advantage may slowly spread through the population until it is a permanent
part of the species.
Is it even remotely conceivable that the naturalistic process described
above could support a rate like 0.75 nucleotides per year? No. Trillions
or quadrillions of years might solve this anomaly, but those timespans utterly
dwarf the actual time of 4-5 billion years. Evolution fails this empirical
There are many subset examples. The whale, which appeared about 10 million
years after the first mammal, probably has millions of nucleotides of DNA that have nothing to do with being a simple land mammal, and would have
required impossible rates of naturalistic evolution to have acquired them
in the time available.
Admittedly, the above calculations are rough. However, they serve the purpose of putting the ball in the evolutionist's court. In the face of the above facts, it is up to the evolutionists to present an empirical and mathematical demonstration that evolution could have occurred in the time available. I have yet to witness any such demonstration. For more information on the problem of available time, read Walter ReMine's The Biotic Message or view some of his Usenet postings.
The Fossil Pattern
Evolution implies that the fossil record should show a general pattern of
creatures slowly, incrementally transforming into more sophisticated creatures,
leading eventually to the living organisms we have on Earth today. Some
breaks in the record are to be expected, but if a large number of fossils
have been deposited, we should expect to see the overall pattern implied
by the theory.
Instead, the fossil record shows something very different. Single-celled
life appeared almost immediately (about 4 billion years ago). No multi-cellular
organisms existed until about 550 million years ago, when numerous complex plant
and animal species appeared virtually simultaneously, then persisted unchanged
for millions of years, each eventually become extinct or surviving to the
present. Several other sudden appearances of collections of new species
occurred more recently, the most recent being the appearance of humans alone,
perhaps about 200,000 years ago.
It is always possible to present a few unusual fossil specimens as credible
supporting evidence for evolution, but it is not possible to reconcile the
general pattern of the fossil record with the naturalistic evolutionary
concept. Intermediate-like creatures such as Archaeopteryx or the therapsids could be a designer's early prototypes. To confirm evolution we need long, incremental transitions, not inexplicable sudden appearances followed by well-documented stasis.
Dependence On Interrelated Parts
On paper, evolution assumes that the beneficial function of a complex system can be slowly accumulated, as the parts of the system are accumulated. This concept is vital, because for complex systems to arise by the guidance of natural selection, the accumulating parts of the system must provide a benefit which natural selection can select.
Empirical studies of biology show that all life forms, from the simplest
microbes to humans, are filled with complex systems that do not appear to be amenable to this evolutionary requirement. Instead of a smooth path from nonexistence to the modern state, most biological systems exhibit what might be described as a "benefit cliff," impassable by chance mutation.
To illustrate consider the car. There are many parts on the car which are beneficial, but not strictly necessary. It is safer to drive with a rear-view mirror, but we could still drive without one. It is comfortable and fun to have air conditioning and a stereo, but we could still drive from one city to another without those things.
Suppose we remove all of these frills, stripping the car down to only what is absolutely necessary to drive from point A to point B, at a level of utility greater than could be provided by a bicycle. The car would still be very complex. A large number of critical parts (particularly in the engine) could not be removed. So, a parts-to-benefit graph of the accumulation of a car might look something like this:
The obvious problem is that natural selection doesn't even get to start selecting until a rather large amount of complex functionality is achieved. But if natural selection didn't design the complexity, then what did?
Mosts evolutionists today are aware of this problem, but insist that the incremental path required by evolution (the grey line in the graph) does exist; it just "hasn't been discovered yet." Of course, any false theory could be defended this way: "It only looks false; its truth hasn't been discovered yet."
How might the grey line be traversible? It is conceivable that a beneficially-neutral part could arrive, and stick around until by unbelievably spectacular chance other parts arrived that would work together with that one. But then we should expect to see most life forms rife with unused parts that may one day be beneficial in combination with as-yet-nonexistent
parts. We do not observe anything of the sort. Useless or apparently useless features, such as the human appendix, are very unusual exceptions, not the general rule.
The problem of interrelated parts is especially bad for the concept of evolution, because while
the problems of Available Time and the Fossil Pattern simply indicate that
evolution didn't happen here on Earth, the problem of Interrelated Parts
indicates that it can't happen at all.
Given these three serious empirical failures of the theory, any one of which
should be sufficient to cast the theory into severe doubt if not outright
falsification, I must rationally conclude that evolution is false, and that
the true scenario is probably that God created life on Earth in a series
of bursts, with adequate time inbetween for the new lifeforms to propagate
and to transform the environment in preparation for the next phase.
Evolutionists today treat the theory of evolution as an unquestionable truth,
as part of the definition of science itself, or as a rigorously tested and
thoroughly verified theory. In technical circles, where the empirical flaws
are common knowledge, evolutionists debate the possibility that a new naturalistic
explanation of life may be thought up, but in public presentations they
preach doctrinaire evolution and pretend that the empirical problems do
not exist. By deliberately concealing strong negative evidence, they are
in gross violation of the scientific attitude.
Unbelievers are treated very poorly. Insinuations are made that the only
reason to doubt (much less disbelieve) evolution is that a religious bias
requires the doubter to stick to one rigid scenario regardless of what the
evidence holds. At the same time, we are told that evolutionists are objective
scientists with no biases, who are willing to consider any possibility,
but are required by the empirical evidence to believe evolution.
The truth is usually the reverse. Creationists such as myself are open
to consider many possible ways that God might have chosen to create life,
but are required by the empirical evidence to discard most of these ways,
including discarding evolution. Evolutionists, guided by a bias in favor
of atheism, are locked into a single scenario, naturalistic evolution, and
must defend it regardless of what the evidence shows.
I predict that evolution will continue to dominate popular expositions of
science for a long time to come, simply because people who entertain naturalistic
biases tend to enter the field of mass media in much greater numbers than
people of other biases.
However, new technologies such as the Internet are making it increasingly
possible for individuals of modest means, not working in the field of mass
media, to broadcast information to the general public, and to communicate
easily with people of similar persuasions. Over time, this may weaken the
ability of evolutionists to indoctrinate new generations without running
into a lot of informed questions and serious skepticism.
I am indebted to the following books for the information in this article, and highly recommend them to anyone who seeks scientific reasons to be skeptical about evolution.
Darwin On Trial by Phillip Johnson
Evolution: A Theory In Crisis by Michael Denton
Darwin's Black Box by Michael J. Behe
These sites link to mine, and may be of interest to those who study Darwin's theory of evolution or interrelated subjects. I do not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these pages. (Note: Only pages which directly link here are linked here.)