Intelligently Defining Evolution byRandy Goggin
Evolution is of course one of the most controversial words in the English language. It is also one of the most misused words. Most people familiar with YouTube have seen the “Evolution of Dance”, an entertaining video in which a dancer progresses through the different stages of American dance styles, from the 50’s to the present. We’ve heard people talk about how hairstyles, cars, skateboarding, and governments have “evolved”. Yet just about everyone understands that these things do not really give us examples of biological evolution, which is supposed to be a chance process driven by survival advantages, genetic mutations, and natural selection, not on human intelligence, ingenuity, and imagination.
In biology, according to evolutionists, unlike every other aspect of existence known to mankind, complex design and information supposedly arises from random, chance, natural processes, not intelligence.
In the documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein interviews agnostic, David Berlinski, who is interestingly one of neo-Darwinism’s most forceful critics in the film.
Berlinski points out that neo-Darwinism “is just a mess. It’s like looking into a room full of smoke.” He adds, “Nothing in the theory is precisely, clearly, carefully defined” This is exactly right.
One major problem in the evolution/intelligent design debate is that evolutionists use the term evolution so loosely when talking about changes in living things. Just about any change that takes place in the biological world is credited as evolutionary change, whether it is the speciation of dogs from wolves, the seasonal changes of finch beaks, or bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics (which really has nothing to do with increasing complexity or the construction of new complex organs, systems, etc.).
Evolutionists have too often used the line that evolution is simply “change over time”. They argue that we have seen changes occur in the present and should therefore conclude that these little changes build up over time into macroscopic evolutionary changes. The problem is that you cannot define every change as evolutionary change. The type of change needed to support the evolutionary story of how life was created is upward or progressive change. Without a progression from simpler to more complex, single-celled organisms could never “evolve” into such things as fish, whales, lions, or eagles, not to mention humans that have the ability and inherent desire to ponder such things.
The change-over-time-is-evolution’ claim is just one way evolutionists confuse the issue. Another tactic they’ve used to make creationists appear uneducated is to claim that creationists believe God created every animal just as it is now.
This is a straw man argument.
Creationists, both old-Earth and young-earth, acknowledge that genetic changes occur in living things.Butthis is not the issue. Creationists agree that changes do occur, but the controversy is the type of change that takes place.
Evolution theory puts forth the belief that all living things share one or a few common ancestors. The theory posits that single-celled organisms somehow formed from chemicals and that these organisms accidentally formed greater and greater complexity, from single-celled organisms to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. So the obvious point here is that all of the information and complexity had to arise along the way. When one thinks of the whole picture in this way, the dilemma becomes obvious: there needs to be increasing complexity, not just any type of change, but change from simpler to more complex. Single celled organisms don’t have complex eyes, blood clotting systems, photosynthesis, lungs, gills, etc. Assuming an evolutionary progression in the history of life on Earth, these things would have had to have been created along the way. That is the issue.
In fact, just looking at the appearance of complex eyes in the fossil record and in the biological world, evolution has to explain how these organs formed 40-60 different times from scratch through random, chance processes.
How could complex eyes, which are more complex than any camera yet invented, have accidentally formed even one time, let alone over 40 times. Evolutionists have pointed to light sensitive spots, which are complex in their own design, but this is a red herring fallacy. There is no transitional chain of fossils showing a progression from creatures with light sensitive spots to creatures with fully formed complex eyes, just as there is no chain of transitional fossils connecting creatures with no light sensitive spots to creatures that finally have them. In fact, when we look at the fossil record, we see complex eyes fully formed, which makes sense, because what survival advantage would they provide if they were not yet functional? So the question is how were organs such as complex eyes created?
And how would genetic mutations create such complexity when, by definition, they are random and cannot plan ahead to a time when all the parts would come together to form a new, complex functional organ or biological system?
These questions point to the core of the issue concerning the debate over whether evolution (through purely naturalistic processes) explains life’s origins and whether we can observe evolutionary changes in living things at present.
Some creationists and I.D. proponents have used the terms microevolution and macroevolution. While this is helpful in a discussion about evolutionary change, it could easily cause problems if not explained properly. Just hearing the terms microevolution and macroevolution, one might assume that microevolution deals with small changes and macroevolution, large changes, like from amphibians to reptiles. But that assumption would be flawed. Microevolution has to do with limited changes that occur within related species that do not add complexity or build new organs or biological systems. Macroevolution would involve change that shows a progression from creatures with no eyes to creatures with eyes or from a cold-blooded reptile to a warm-blooded bird.
Everyone involved or interested in the debate on evolution and I.D. should push for a clearer definition of the word evolution, because this would help clear away unnecessary debate, and it would help to reduce fallacious arguments.