Is Evolution Science?

Is Evolution Science?


The question of whether evolution is science would seem to be unnecessary. Surely a subject which is so widely taught and believed must be scientific! But it is not the fact that many people, even scientists, believe a theory that shows it to be correct, but rather that it passes reasonable and unbiased tests of verification. I have seen many papers by evolutionary biologists presenting evidence and arguing about various mechanisms of evolution, but I have not seen a single paper in a scientific journal seriously considering the question of whether evolution is true and attempting to answer it by putting the theory to an unbiased test. And yet this theory is nearly universally accepted and taught, and those who reject it are considered as fanatical and risk professional ostracism! This has to be one of the most unusual chapters in the history of science. The many recognized problems with the theory of evolution never seem to lead biologists to the obvious conclusion that there is something wrong with their theory; rather, they simply continue to patch it up.

Evolutionary biologists construct many plausible stories about how life developed and evolved, based largely on the fossil record. But how do we know that these stories are true? This history is based to some extent on time periods provided by radiometric dating. But, to my knowledge, there has not been a single double-blind test of radiometric dating methods. Just to illustrate how human bias could unintentionally affect radiometric dating, it could be that there are many different kinds of rock that can be used for dating, and geologists may choose which kind is most suitable depending on the geological period. So we might have one kind of rock being used for dating one period, another kind being used for another, and so on. Or there could be modifications of techniques, and the technique chosen might depend on the geological period being studied. Such possibilities could lead to bias that might be eliminated by a double-blind test. Another problem is that dates might not be published that are too far away from the expected values. Furthermore, there are many problems with radiometric dating in itself that creationists have pointed out. One thing to keep in mind is that when geologists say that a radiometric dating technique is accurate to within one percent, they do not mean that the measured age is within one percent of the true age. What they mean is that if all of the assumptions of the method hold, then the measured age is within one percent of the true age. These assumptions have to do with restrictions on whether parent or daughter elements enter or leave the sample during the measured time span. Geologists admit that the measured ages are often 20 percent or more away from the assumed true age.

Even if radiometric dates were accurate, it would still not prove the theory of evolution. One response of evolutionists to such questions is that creationism is not science. The implication is that if creationism is false, then evolution must be true. But just because scientists cannot think of an alternative is no reason to accept a theory. I don't know of other fields where a theory is accepted simply because no one can think of an alternative.

In arguing that creation is not science, evolutionists expect creation to pass tests that are not reasonable. They expect creationists to be able to say why God created the specific animals that He did, or why He set the third-position codons as He did. Such questions are not necessarily possible to answer. There may have been many things going on relating to the Creation that we have no idea of. We cannot even predict what a Beethoven would compose or a Van Gogh would paint; much less can we predict what a Creator would create! It would be like asking archaeologists at a dig to predict what they would uncover in the next area of their site. If they could not say, then we could say that their field was not scientific, and that they must explain the ruins they found not as the activity of intelligent beings, but rather as the results of wind and erosion and other natural forces.

Evolutionary biologists will often argue that evolution has been observed. By this they mean tiny changes in species that have been seen in nature or in the laboratory. Because we have seen such tiny changes, they argue, given enough time, large changes could also take place. However, this line of argument is not logically correct. Just because I can jump an inch does not mean I can jump to the moon. Just because I can walk an inch does not mean I can walk around the world.

The similarities among life forms are claimed to be an evidence for evolution. All life uses the same genetic code, and all proteins spiral to the left instead of to the right. However, if these similarities were not observed, it would not argue against the theory of evolution. Rather, biologists would say that life originated more than once. And, if these similarities did not exist, it could be used as an argument against creation. Biologists could ask why the Creator did not do everything the same way always. Furthermore, there are differences as well as similarities among various life forms. If the similarities prove evolution, do the differences prove creation?

Another argument that is put forth in favor of evolution is the supposed hierarchical structure of living things. Even if life is hierarchical, organized into classes and sub-classes and so on, this is not necessarily a logical consequence of the theory of evolution. This is only so if we assume that once a feature is acquired, it is retained in evolutionary descendents. So once a backbone is formed, the descendents will retain it, but animals without a backbone will probably not develop it. However, one can just as well imagine vertebrates losing their backbones and evolving to invertebrates. If a bacterium can evolve to a man, why can't a man evolve to a bacterium? Thus evolution would be just as well adapted to a non-hierarchical organization of life as to a hierarchical one.

The on-line Encyclopedia Britannica has an article about evolution that claims that molecular distances between organisms are linearly related to their assumed divergence times as seen in the fossil record. This is claimed to be a verification of the theory of evolution. However, there are a number of problems with this analysis. First, when deciding on common ancestors, biologists may use the observed differences between organisms, and reject ancestors that appear too soon or too late. Second, dating methods have some latitude, and may be calibrated to some extent based on evolutionary assumptions. Third, the organisms to consider in this comparison may have been chosen to make the graph come out right. Such a claim about a straight-line relationship could only be established by a rigorous statistical analysis. And it would have to consider the entire fossil record, and not just a selected subset of it.

The fact that different organisms are found in different layers of the fossil record is claimed to show evolution. But as ReMine points out in The Biotic Message, evolution did not predict the fossil sequence; it simply adapted itself to it. So we cannot see the fossil sequence as verifying the theory of evolution. It is claimed that the fact that we do not see birds and trilobites together verifies evolution. But if we did see them together, evolutionary biologists would simply modify their evolutionary trees and speak about the incompleteness of the fossil record.

Creationism, by constrast, was formulated before the fossil record and most of the findings of biology were known. Because of this, the creationist nature of the fossil record and of life in general really is a vindication of the theory. By this I mean such features as the Cambrian explosion, the gaps in the fossil record, the improbabilities of abiogenesis, and numerous other findings discussed by creationists in general and elsewhere on this web page.

I would like to see evolutionary biologists put their theory to the test and give us some rigorous evidence that it is true, if they can, instead of merely arguing about mechanisms and presenting plausible scenarios. A few predictions of the theory that pan out or fail to materialize will not settle the issue, but rather some meaningful statistical tests. Until this is done, I would suggest that they recognize that this is a theory without a shadow of support.

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