vs Evolution: A False Debate
by Paul Von
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recent Kansas Board of Education decision to remove knowledge
of macroevolution from statewide student tests has re-energized
debate about the "fact" of evolution versus the "truth"
of creationism. The search for understanding of tangible evidence
is lost in the cacophony of sound bites. The scientific establishment
and religious fundamentalism, symbolized by the National Academy
of Science and the Institute for Creation Research, mix facts
with their "yearnings." Both institutions shape theories
of human history for their own ends.
strict creationism view is well known: The Christian God directly
created the universe and modern humans in less than a week about
five thousand years ago. The conventional scientist's belief is
that all life initiated from a singular chance event on Earth
4 billion years ago, then evolved by random mutations from single
cell bacteria to more and more complex species. The Academy's
1998 teacher guidelines reads, "There is no debate within
the scientific community over whether evolution has occurred and
there is no evidence that evolution has not occurred." That
statement artfully overlooks the lack of evidence showing it occurred
and ignores the opposing views of many scientists. In fact, the
information quoted to counter the lack of fossil evidence is circumstantial
and very illusive (tables of genetic similarities and amino acid
wrong with each side's argument? While there is evidence that
life forms adapt to diet, climatic, and other physical changes
(microevolution), there is no evidence of adaptations that result
in new speciation (macroevolution). For example, bacteria can
become resistant to antibiotics, but that does not result in different
types of organisms. While there is evidence of natural selection
in the survival of individual characteristics within a species,
there is no evidence that such strengths lead to new types of
plants or animals.
himself said that in the absence of transitional forms (his 1850's
hypothesis was based on the assumption they would soon be discovered)
his whole theory would be invalid. In fact it may be impossible
to fill that gap as fossils can never disclose whether they were
ancestors of anything else (per Colin Patterson, British Museum
of Natural History). Unknown to Darwin, and most scientists today,
is the existence of imprinted genes that control the timing sequences
of all cell processes. Called carpenter genes by author Lloyd
Pye, their control of timing is crucial to normal development.
Mutations to these species-specific genes result in cancer, developmental
defects, or the embryo's death. This mechanism appears to lock
a species into its own spiraling path of development (microevolution).
creationist falls in the face of evidence that a living Earth
has been around for a long time (carbon dating, tree rings, ice
cores, etc.) and that homo sapiens sapiens have at least a 250,000
year-old history (fossils and mitochondrial DNA). The increasing
evidence that life (including highly evolved beings) exists elsewhere
in the universe also undermines the strict creationists who see
humans as their God's special creatures.
are the tangible facts? Organic life remains have been embedded
in the earth for at least a few billion years. The plant and animal
kingdoms comprise separate hierarchies, from simple life forms
to more complex ones. The fossil record does not show transitional
forms (between two distinct species) and it shows no introduction
of major new groups since the Cambrian Explosion of 93 million
years ago. The record reveals that species appear full blown,
remain fundamentally unchanged, and become extinct for any number
human history of social and technological progress does not square
with the long slow process of evolution. Shortly after humans
appear on the scene, there is evidence of their activities around
the globe. Many historical accounts credit advanced beings (AB's)
with involvement in the creation of plants, animal, humans and
the Earth within the universe. Thus both sides seem to be partially
right, and partially wrong.
there are plausible theories that better fit the evidence. One
is the "Seed-bed Earth" which assumes life is pandemic
in the universe. It posits that some, if not all, planets are
born with inherent energetic patterns for multiple life forms,
ready to spring forth at the right time. (An analogy is that one
human cell has the potential -- with the right DNA instructions
-- to create all parts of the body.) As scientists discover more
evidence of extraterrestrial life forms, water which supports
life, and other physical conditions conducive to life, this possibility
becomes more likely. "Panspermia," another common theory,
says live spores in hardened casings (from comets, meteors or
asteroids) fertilized all of the Sun's planets and blossomed on
Earth. Two theories involve the postulation of off-planet AB's
as carriers. In one, the AB's would have initiated life here,
while in the other, the AB's (or gods) would have only intervened
in its development.
are such alternatives dismissed? Stephen Jay Gould, representing
the establishment view, said (Time, August 23, 1999), "...we
can call evolution a fact...a proposition affirmed to such a high
degree that it would be perverse to withhold one's provisional
assent." Religious fundamentalists assert their "facts"
even more baldly. Quoting Shakespeare, "(they) doth protest
too much, me thinks!" How does one explain why people remain
so hard-line when new evidence indicates otherwise?
answer seems to be that each side has boxed itself into a corner.
Clarence Darrow, at the 1925 Scopes trial in Tennessee, said,
"If Evolution wins, Christianity goes." That's what
the creationists fear. Establishment science believes the obverse:
"If Macroevolution falls, then Science will be undermined."
It's the same fear. I believe science would be better able to
carry on its work if it rid itself of an out-dated millstone.
institutions who build their authority on dogma put themselves
in a take-or-leave-it position. Unquestioned beliefs are essential
to their respective strategies to control human thought, and consequently
behavior, in order to stay in power. They would lose out in the
synthesis of opposing views that defines a new reality.
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