Action & Reaction - April 2000

Letter to the Daily Independent

(This letter from us to the editor was published by the Daily Independent on April 18, 2000.)

On March 12, the Daily Independent published both an editorial and an Associated Press article about a poll conducted by the People for the American Way Foundation concerning creation and evolution. Since then, there has been a series of letters to the editor on the subject. It may seem strange that Science Against Evolution has not responded for over a month. That's because the initial poll was about "the teaching of evolution in public schools."

What should be taught in schools, what level of government should control the curriculum, how funding should be tied to academic content, and whether or not religion should be taught in schools, are political issues. Some letters to the editor addressed those writers’ concerns about the effect of the theory of evolution on the moral fabric of society, religion in general, and Christianity in particular. Science Against Evolution is an educational, secular, non-profit corporation that addresses neither political, social, nor religious issues.

On April 12, however, film critic Tom Cummings tried to defend the theory of evolution on scientific grounds. As a result, the issue is now on our turf.

Mr. Cummings correctly points out that science deals with knowledge discovered using the scientific method. He implied that the theory of evolution has some support from experimental science. Let's examine that conjecture.

According to the theory of evolution, simple molecules (such as methane and/or ammonia) came together to form slightly more complicated organic compounds (such as amino acids) at some time in the distant past. These simple organic compounds formed increasingly more complex compounds, which eventually formed the first cell (we like to call it "Frankencell") which came to life through some unknown natural process. Then, Frankencell reproduced itself. Its offspring varied to some degree over the subsequent generations, eventually diversifying into all the species that have ever lived. Have there been any experiments to investigate this hypothesis? Yes, there have.

In 1953, inspired by the ideas of Oparin and Haldane, Stanley Miller, a graduate student, and his adviser Harold Urey of the University of Chicago set out to demonstrate prebiotic evolution in the laboratory. They mixed water, ammonia, hydrogen, and methane in a flask and provided energy with heat and electrical charge (to simulate lightening). From those experiments, and many similar experiments that have been done since then, we now know innumerable sets of conditions that can't produce life spontaneously, and none that will. Furthermore, this research has revealed fundamental principles that explain why life cannot begin spontaneously.

As a young boy I collected butterflies. On several occasions I put living butterflies in a jar of carbon tetrachloride. Every time this experiment was performed, the living butterflies died. I was never able to put a dead butterfly in a jar of oxygen and bring it back to life. The experimental evidence is overwhelming. Living things naturally die. Dead things don't naturally come to life. But to believe in evolution, one must believe that (at least once) something dead came to life naturally. This is not supported by, and is in direct opposition to, scientific experimental data.

Many experiments have been done regarding the diversification of species. Commercial breeding programs use artificial selection (an accelerated, guided form of natural selection) to breed plants and animals with desired characteristics. For centuries, man has been breeding race horses. For the past 104 years, he has been racing them at the Kentucky Derby. This race is sometimes referred to as "the most exciting two minutes in sports" because the winning time is always very close to 120 seconds. There is no change. There is a limit to how fast a horse can run, and they have reached it.

Species are limited in their variability by the genetic material available to them. Experiments have shown that breeding can produce new varieties (different kinds of dogs, horses, or roses, for example) but can't produce an entirely new species. The ability of scientists to put organisms into classes like "amphibians," "reptiles," and "birds," is an observable result of the fact that simple breeding doesn't create new kinds of species. If evolution were true, there would be so many intermediate forms that it would be hard to draw such distinct lines between phyla, orders, and families.

The fruit fly, Drosophila, is often used in laboratory experiments. Because it has a short life span, many generations can be studied in a reasonable amount of time. It has been subjected to radiation and toxic chemicals that produce mutations, in the hopes that it will evolve into something else. These experiments have never produced birds, butterflies, or mosquitoes. Not even mutation can produce a new species.

Species reproduce after their own kind. Only in a supermarket tabloid are you likely to see a headline that says, "Dog has kittens". You won't read such stories in scientific journals. But the theory of evolution requires that every species living today has an ancestor that was a different species. Somewhere along the line, something had to give birth to something else if the theory of evolution is true. This is not supported by, and is in direct opposition to, scientific experimental data.

An intelligent designer (a gene jockey) can remove some DNA from one organism and insert it into the nucleus of the cell of another organism in the laboratory. With a little luck, this will produce a new, genetically engineered species. But even the gene jockey has to have some DNA "preprogrammed" with the desired characteristic to start with. The fact that it is so difficult to engineer a new species in the laboratory, and the fact that it depends upon material from another pre-existing species, both argue against new species appearing accidentally so many times (once for every species that ever lived).

Those people who participate in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) believe that dead things have come to life and evolved into intelligent life forms many times all over the universe. They even use the Drake Equation to compute how often it has happened. Despite their best efforts, they haven't found any intelligent life "out there" yet. There is no experimental evidence for evolution in outer space.

The theory of evolution did not spring from Darwin in 1859. Cicero (who could not have been a Christian because he lived from 106 to 43 BC) and William Paley (1743 - 1805) both argued against evolution on largely scientific grounds before Darwin was born. Both noted that natural processes cannot explain the origin of complex living organisms. Darwin merely proposed a method (based on his incorrect understanding of genetics) that he thought would overcome these scientific objections. Darwin had a plausible argument in the nineteenth century.

The theory of evolution is in crisis today because it is not supported by, and is in direct opposition to, modern scientific experimental data. Each month we add a few more examples of science against evolution to our web site (www.ridgenet.net/~do_while/sage). Those people who do not have access to the Internet can use the computer at the Ridgecrest public library, or can get one free issue of our monthly newsletter by writing to us at P.O. Box 923. Subsequent newsletters are $15 per year.

If there is any scientific evidence that shows how dead things come to life naturally, or how one species evolves into a different kind of species, we haven't seen it. Since we haven't seen any, we assume that Mr. Cummings hasn't, either.

As a great film critic once concluded, "So how can someone believe in something in spite of a complete lack of evidence? I guess the answer to that is faith." [This was the last sentence of Mr. Cummings' letter to the editor.]

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