The descent of evolution

Science | Observable scientific data does not support Darwin’s theory of macroevolution
by Robert P. Crowner
Posted 2/06/16, 02:22 pm

Last year, Christine Crowner’s husband died. In December she emailed me: “My husband was an engineer for many years. He was always very concerned that American schools teach kids what to think, not how to think. … Many kids raised in Christian homes [have been] lured away and made to question the creation story at either public high school or college.” Christine attached to her email a paper her husband had written that “will help many of your readers fight this problem in their local public schools.” She asked me to publish it.

Later, I emailed her back and confessed, “I dreaded opening up the “The descent of evolution” article you sent, because we turn down 100 columns or essays for every one good enough to use, and I figured I’d have to disappoint you—but then I read your husband’s piece, and it’s a terrific summary of some main Darwinism problems.” So here, on the Saturday before the anniversary of Darwin’s birthdate (which he shares with Abraham Lincoln: Feb. 12, 1809), is Bob Crowner’s last paper. —Marvin Olasky

Charles Darwin in his book The Origin of the Species,published in 1859, proposed a theory of evolution (macro) that all life had evolved by natural selection from a common beginning. This materialist viewpoint was based upon his observations of microevolution on his five-year trip as an unpaid naturalist aboard the scientific vessel H.M.S. Beagle to the east and west coasts of South America. His theory is in decline as recognized by scientists who know facts and knowledge not available to Darwin.

Evolution, defined in dictionaries as “the development of a race, species or other group,” must be divided into two separate categories:

  • Microevolution is the change over time in a given species. This kind of evolution or adaptation is readily observable in living things such as dogs, etc., and in humans who have grown taller within our lifetime.
  • Macroevolution proposes that all life has evolved from a common beginning. For this theory to be valid, evidence of intermediary species—e.g., half-bird and half-fish—is essential. There is no observable factual evidence for this proposition. When Darwin wrote his book in 1859, he recognized this and presumed evidence would be uncovered in the future.

Since Darwin’s book was published, his theory has been widely accepted until recently, even though evidence for macroevolution has never been discovered. In fact, within the last 15 years, with the benefit of improved electron microscopy and new discoveries such as DNA, it has become evident that Darwin’s theory is a failed theory not supported by factual scientific evidence.

Is there an alternative theory that would explain the origin of life that is supported by scientific facts? Intelligent design is such a proposal. It reasons that, based upon observable data in many scientific fields, there is evidence of design in living things that cannot be explained by natural selection from a common ancestor. Let us explore a few of these fields.

Mathematical chance

If you were to see some words written in wet concrete, would you think it was reasonable that those words happened to be there by random chance? Of course not. Rather, you would assume that some intelligent person had composed them and written them in the wet concrete. Mathematically it is impossible for life to begin from non-living matter. Stephen C. Meyer, who holds a Ph.D. in biology from Cambridge, points out that the odds of forming one protein molecule (there are 300 to 500 protein molecules in a minimally complex cell) at random are one chance in 10 to the 125th power (10 followed by 125 zeros) or impossible.[1] Similarly, Michael Denton, an Australian doctor and scientist, states that to get a cell by chance would require at least 100 functional proteins to appear simultaneously in one place, which would give a probability of 10 to the negative 2,000th power.[2]

Francis Crick and James D. Watson discovered DNA, the double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid that is known as the “language of life,” in 1953. Six feet of DNA are tightly coiled inside every one of the 100 trillion cells in the body.[3] The possibility of this complex information system occurring by random selection is now recognized as impossible by many scientists.

Irreducible complexity

Michael J. Behe, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, has explored a very important concept of intelligent design: irreducible complexity. He defines it as “a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”[4] He uses the simple five-part mousetrap as a commonplace illustration of a system that is irreducibly complex—the removal of any single part will make it non-functional.

This concept of irreducible complexity is very significant in the discussion of evolution and intelligent design because Darwin himself wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”[5] Behe goes on to discuss the cilium, a structure that makes it possible for cells to swim, which is irreducibly complex. Still another example of such a structure is a flagellum that is a swimming device present in some bacteria. It must have at least three parts in order to function. Behe argues it would be impossible for an irreducibly complex structure to evolve without all of its parts being originally available.

Fossil record

Another important issue is what the fossil record exhibits regarding evolution. Darwin, while not having the benefit of cellular technology that is available to scientists today, did recognize that the fossil record posed a problem. He wrote, “Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be raised against my theory.”[6] Unfortunately for Darwinists, the fossil record still does not support evolution, but it does fit with intelligent design.

Jonathan Wells, a biologist who holds a Ph.D. from both Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley, has written a book, Icons of Evolution, which demonstrates that much of what is taught about evolution is wrong or even fraudulent. Wells notes, “Although the abrupt appearance of animal fossils in the Cambrian [period] was known to Darwin, the full extent of the phenomenon wasn’t appreciated until the 1980s.”[7] He further notes, “The fossil evidence is so strong, and the event so dramatic, that it has become known as the ‘Cambrian explosion,’ or ‘biology’s big bang.’”[8] Thus, the fossil record does not support the theory that living things developed gradually over long periods of time, but instead appeared rather abruptly in their present form. Henry Gee, chief science writer for Nature is quoted by Wells as saying, “To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.”[9] Michael Denton makes an important point when he notes that “ninety-nine percent of the biology of any organism resides in its soft anatomy, which is inaccessible in a fossil.”[10]

Physiology

Geoffrey Simmons, M.D. in his book What Darwin Didn’t Know points out the incredible complexity of the human body and the interdependence of its parts. He points out many examples in the body that illustrate irreducible complexity:

  • “Every significant change in the male’s reproductive system had to have been met with a reciprocal change in the female’s (or vice versa).”[11]
  • “The egg knows when it’s time to ovulate, how to pop out, how to travel through the fallopian tubes, how to receive a single sperm and close out other sperm, and how to eventually implant in the uterus.”[12]
  • “A cell resembles a miniature industrial complex that is much more complex than a General Motors or Boeing plant.”[13]
  • “The brain can store between 100 trillion and 280 quintillion bits of information in a mere three pounds of matter.”[14]
  • “Eyes are like antennae for the brain. Millions of cells lining the interior of each eye function as photochemical receivers, converting light waves into a myriad of electrical impulses that are forwarded at a speed of about 200 miles per hour to the brain. There the impulses are sorted, organized and analyzed in holograph ways. All of this is accomplished in milliseconds.”[15]
  • “Many hormones work in parallel or tandem, some compete, and some have double and triple functions.”[16]
  • “Every action involves a complex array of interacting nerves, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, soft tissues, blood vessels, and bones. Millions to billions of cells work in unison.”[17]

In his chapter “Purposeful Design,” Simmons lists 81 facts that he believes point to design rather than chance as postulated in Darwin’s theory of evolution. Simmons points out that Darwin had little knowledge of genetics, physiology, and conception. So how could his theory still be accepted as valid? Remember, the prevailing theory for years was that the Earth was flat. It is not! Likewise, another theory was that the sun revolved around the Earth. It does not! New knowledge can prove previous theories wrong.

Other scientific fields

There are other fields of science beyond the scope of this paper that offer scientific evidence for intelligent design: Cosmology offers the “Big Bang” theory, astronomy offers the delicate balance of the Earth for supporting life, and consciousness in the mind or the psychological aspect of human beings all defy that such complexity could ever have evolved from nothing.

Conclusions

In order to believe in Darwin’s theory of macroevolution, a scientist must believe that nothing can produce everything, non-life can produce life, and chaos can produce order. Actually, the Second Law of Thermodynamics concludes that order is moving toward disorder.

This paper has demonstrated the presence of intelligent design in many scientific fields. Mathematics demonstrates that it is impossible that life could have evolved by natural, random, spontaneous selection. This is buttressed by the knowledge of the complex structure of DNA and the functions it performs in the human body and mind. The observable fact of irreducible complexity confirms that intelligent design was required.

Finally, the complexity and interrelated systems observable in the human body and brain, which are now possible with improved scientific instruments and methods, further confirm that Darwin’s theory was based upon guesses and assumptions and hoped-for future findings of factual evidence in the fossil record. Francis Crick, a philosophical materialist, said, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”[18]

An argument used by Darwinists to “prove” macroevolution is the “common” characteristics that appear to be evident in various species such as joints, eyes, mouth, etc. These characteristics in the extreme are said to indicate a common ancestry. An even more reasonable assumption would be that the same intelligent designer, using workable and efficient factors from previous designs, designed the species. Would you conclude that because most internal combustion engines have similar parts such as pistons, rings, and seals that each iteration of the design had spontaneously evolved by random chance? Would you think that the Boeing 747 had randomly evolved from the Boeing 727 as it sat in the hanger, or would you believe they had a common designer? The answers to these questions obviously illustrate intelligent design.

One of the most common arguments used by Darwinists is that intelligent design is not science but rather religion. This is a spurious claim as can readily be seen from the data presented in this paper. Many scientists who argue for intelligent design do not believe in a specific religion and may even be atheists. The issue is not between religion and science, but rather between “good” science and “bad” science. Questions about the identity and nature of the “Designer” should be left to other competent individuals in other fields.

Darwin’s theory of evolution is a failed theory that was never substantiated by hard facts or good science. The obvious question is, why do so many public and private schools and public and private universities persist in teaching only Darwin’s outdated theory? Many of the scientists who now embrace intelligent design state that in high school or college they accepted the theory of evolution without question since they were not exposed to any other theories. However, once they studied this theory, accepted in their youth and in their own disciplines at the graduate level, many of these scientists forced themselves to reconsider their blind acceptance of macroevolution. In fact, they set out to prove that the material they had been taught did not agree with the facts in light of the technical advances not available to earlier generations. Now, it not only makes sense to teach both theories, but truth and fairness demand that students be exposed to all scientific data.

ENDNOTES

[1] Meyer, Stephen C. in The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, (2004) Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 229.

[2] Denton, Michael, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, (1986) Adler & Adler, Bethesda, MD, p. 323.

[3] Strobel, Lee, The Case for a Creator, (2004) Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 219.

[4] Behe, Michael J., Darwin’s Black Box, (1996) The Free Press, New York, NY, p. 39

[5] Darwin, Charles, The Origin of the Species, 6th ed. (1988) New York University Press, New York, NY, p. 154

[6] Darwin, Charles, The Origin of the Species, (1958) Penguin, New York, NY, p. 280

[7] Wells, Jonathan, Icons of Evolution (2000) Regnery Publishing, Washington, DC, p.38

[8] Ibid., p.37

[9] Ibid., p. 221

[10] Denton op. cit. p. 177

[11] Simmons, Geoffrey, What Darwin Didn’t Know, (2004) Harvest House, Eugene, OR, p. 67

[12] Ibid., p.67

[13] Ibid., p. 75

[14] Ibid., p. 102

[15] Ibid., p. 116

[16] Ibid., p. 176

[17] Ibid., p. 230

[18] Crick, Francis, Life Itself, (1981) Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, p. 88

Robert P. Crowner
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Comments

  • Buddy's picture
    Buddy
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Wonderful, Wonderful.

    Evolution is the satan’s apple for today. The many highly
    technical life forms around us witness strongly for creation. One little grain
    of wheat has more programming built in than all of mans greatest creations. If
    you pray for eyes that see you will find the marvelous, engineering in just our
    human bodies. Sound reasoning witnesses that our internal organs were by
    design. The programming of human conception, birth and growth to maturity
    cannot just happen without being designed and this goes for the many other life
    forms around us. I guarantee you 100%, we are created. Now that you believe
    that it’s time to start a relationship with your creator. That’s why you were
    created, to have a relationship with him. We need not look light years away for
    other life forms, our present life form lives but a speck of time compared to
    our new body that will last for eternity. This present life determines where we
    spend eternity.

    1 Let not your heart be
    troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's
    house are many mansions: if it were not so, I
    would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and
    prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that
    where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:1-3
    (KJV)

  • Rebecca I
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Thank you for printing this. It covers a lot of ground in short space, which makes it very useful.

  • CarolinaJay
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Another great resource is Reasons to Believe - http://www.reasons.org/ .  They have very detailed explanations of how the Word of God as revealed in the Bible is entirely consistent with the Word of God as revealed in His Creation.  In fact, Hugh Ross explains how the Earth is at just exactly the right place in our galaxy, and the history of the Sun and the Earth make conditions for human life on Earth perfect just exactly now.  No other location, and no other era would be hospitable.At Darwin's time, scientists believed that things had been the same for infinite time.  So no matter how small the probability, anything could happen in infinite time.  Astronomy's proof of the Big Bang and a limited duration for the universe (and an even more limited time duration for Earth) blew Darwin away - but the biologists persist in blinding their eyes to the obvious.

  • tpen3219
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    I sincerely appreciate the effort made by this gentleman. I wish more people would take a stand. But as a distributed "paper" it is extremely light-weight. There are far more substantive, comprehensive and rigorous resources that would benefit your readers. I encourage you to provide more of these more robust papers, articles, and books. CMI, Answers in Genesis and many other creation organizations have hundreds of PhD-level evaluations of the problems of evolution and are very accessible to lay readers. Many non-creationists have also documented the many problems with the theory of evolution, e.g. Michael Denton.
    The politicized scientific community has pushed a purely political and anti-religious agenda using the theory of evolution as a means to an end. Because it has nothing at all to do with science and everything to do with controlling society, evolutionists use every means necessary to force their fabricated theory on society. We see the same thing happening now with climate change. The science is corrupted, manipulated, and misrepresented to achieve a purely political end. "Consensus" is the new "science", even though the "consensus" is a fabrication. Worse, as scientists or even simply rational human beings are we supposed to follow the crowd unquestioningly? I recall mothers asking us incredulously, “If the group jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?”
    The same tactics used so successfully to force evolution on society are being used to force climate change on us as well. Dissenters are mocked, removed from positions of influence, their papers are rejected from scientific journals, and their research funding is rejected or revoked. The education system, controlled primarily by the same politically motivated crowd, refuses to discuss any doubts or problems with the theory, and prevents presentation of alternative theories.
    In what other areas of science, or life in general, is discourse shut down so violently? Political battles are the only other arenas where such tactics are used. Contrary evidence is slandered so profusely that its value is drowned out by the sheer volume.
    The theory itself is so malleable that any evidence can be used to support it. This fact makes evolution, (and climate change) an invalid theory because it cannot be falsified.
    Worse, the theory of evolution contributes nothing to science. Evolution contributes nothing to biology because it is nothing more than speculation about how living things "might have" come to be as they are today. We have come to call these "just-so stories", hearkening back to Rudyard Kipling's children's stories such as “how the elephant got its trunk”. In fact, many of these "just-so stories" change over time without ever troubling the evolutionists.
    How living things operate today is learned by observation and empirical study of existing life forms. Speculation about how they got that way has no value other than to support the theory that they assume to be true. In fact, the common reasoning used by evolutionists goes something like this: The elephant's truck proves evolution because we know it evolved. The second most common "evidence" lacks any scientific value at all. Evolutionists line up a set of fossils in a sequence and say, "We know evolution is true so we predict that sequences are evidence for evolution. We know that evolution is true because sequences show that living things evolved." Not only is circular reasoning and completely lacking in merit, but these sequences have repeated been falsified, such as the "just-so story” about horse evolution which was completed destroyed by scientists who actually believed in evolution, and the evolution of birds from dinosaurs when they found fully formed fossilized birds dated earlier than the supposed transition fossils. The same thing is happening today with whale evolution. First they come up with a narrative and then they look for fossils that fit the narrative. However, no one can ever know whether one fossilized animal evolved from another. They are just bones. For example, we could dig up dog skeletons of varying ages from all around the world and put them in a sequence from smallest to largest and say, "See, the great Dane evolved from the Yorkie". These skeletons would display more variation than in any of the evolutionists' supposed sequences. Yet we know for a fact that all the dogs are the same species. They do not exhibit any evolutionary sequence at all.
    In short, most of the funding for evolution research is spent on things that can never be proven and provide no scientific value other than "supporting" evolution.
    In fact, evolution has stifled and misdirected research. Take for example the appendix. Evolutionists, because they believed it had no function, simply labelled it a "vestigial Organ" (meaning it used to have a function but evolution has made it useless) and ignored it. Had they focused on what it “is” instead of “how it came to be”, they would have discovered much sooner that it plays an important role in the immune system by stabilizing the population of good bacteria in the intestines, bacteria that provide significant health benefits.
    The absurdity of the theory of evolution is stretched even further to non-biological sciences. At least the original theory limited itself to mutations and natural selection, mechanisms to create and spread changes. But now it is applied broadly to astronomical and chemical evolution without any mechanism for creating and propagating changes. The evolutionary mindset now means that “nothing” can produce matter, energy, and time, and matter itself can “evolve” (whatever that actually means) to increasingly complex structures; cosmic dust to stars, galaxies and planets and atoms to chemicals to living organisms.
    Those who want desperately to believe that there is no God now place blind faith in “nothing” and theories that defy every law of physics. They tell us stars form from cosmic dust without having any idea how it could happen. They tell us chemicals under just the right conditions can organize themselves into incredibly complex organic molecules, yet after more than 40 years of the leading chemists working in the finest laboratories there is no progress toward a viable way to make it happen.
    We need to remember this is a political battle, not a scientific battle. Recognize the goal behind the tactics. Don’t follow them over the cliff.

  • lexrex
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    The resistance to intelligent design is not intellectual. It is moral, as the apostle indicates in Romans 1. Design implies a Designer, which implies an obligation to discern the Designer's nature and attributes by any searcher of truth. Truth is in ultimate terms the last thing that the unregenerate want.

  • DakotaLutheran
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    As far as I can tell, evolutionary theory is still firmly and unquestionably implanted in the biological sciences. A theory is never abandoned unless a better one can replace it. There are no such reasonable competitors. Even ID does not claim to replace evolutionary theory, only to point to instances where intelligent design seems likely. Evidence for some kind of evolution are astonishing, ones not known by Darwin. The one most amazing to me is that the genetic code is universal among all living earthly organisms. How such a code could arise appears to me to nothing short of miraculous. To date, there are no explanations from the physical sciences. Evolutionary theory can in large measure be true without having to account for this genesis. What this apparent fact indicates to me is that the probability of life arising by the kinds of resources that the physical world can provide must be astonishingly small, for it appears to have only arisen by these means once. Perhaps others arose, but we have no evidence of it. Nonetheless, evolutionary theory is supported by being able to find genetic connections between species of all kinds, even some correspondence between plants and humans. By the same kind of probabilistic arguments, it seems unlikely that humans and plants just happened to have complex snippets of DNA code performing similar functions. While it is true that one might also argue that the similarity is due to having the same Designer, one must not conclude that people are being deliberately obtuse or enemies of God should they support an alternative theory. There are, as you all know, many Christian scientists who support some form of evolutionary theory. I have no reason to doubt their sincerity. While, as I said, evolutionary theory appears nearly universally accepted, there are many streams of evolutionary theory. At least dissenter (atheist Thomas Nagel), believes that our understanding of the physical universe is flawed, and not only  because of the existence of life. Such a possibility might open the door to theistic notions, perhaps written into the cosmos. It was such considerations that changed Antony Flew, a long time atheist philosopher, into some kind of theist shortly before his death. The amazing complexity and coherence of life does not go unnoticed even by unbelieving scientists. They speak of evolution and Chance as a kind of god. But their god is troubled and many know it. 

  • Kathleen
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Thank you for giving us access to this quality overview.  

  • GTPman
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    I greatly admire the quip by Konrad Lorenz that, "“Philosophers are people who know less and less about more and more, until they know nothing about everything. Scientists are people who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing.”  Whether Darwin was either is debatable, provided that the debate be conducted within a padded cell.  The trouble is that we are awash in the volumes produced by hosts of PhD's of many disciplines in the legitimate debate over evolution.  While I heavily favor the highly disfavored creationism, like Solomon I am growing weary of the making of many books.  Would that God would rebuke the wind and restless waters with a, "Peace, be still!"  But, ahhh, even a brook to frequent in a weary land will have to suffice in this life.

  • bbma
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    succinct

  • bbma
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    succinct

  • Richard H's picture
    Richard H
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    DakotaLutheran.You state: "As far as I can tell, evolutionary theory is still firmly and unquestionably implanted in the biological sciences."  The religion of evolutionary theory is firmly entrenched in the secular science due to artificial philosophical constraints the secularists established to exclude God from the field.  However, there are many scientists of all religions who question the scientific soundness of the theory as it continues to unravel due to scientific advancements.  You state: "There are no reasonable competitors."  What objections do you have to God's word and the scientific explanations from creation scientists?  What makes their explanations unreasonable?I'm curious how you find the genetic code as evidence for evolution? 

  • Scott B
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    First, my condolences to Mrs. Crowner for the loss of her
    husband. Judging by his essay, he must have been a capable and good-hearted
    man.

    The essay makes a number of good points.  It notes a number of pointers to a
    supernatural origin for the universe as a whole, e.g. the Big Bang and the fine
    tuning of physical constants that permit life to exist. It also notes the lack
    of scientific explanations to date for the origin of life from plain molecules
    (chemical evolution).

    The main burden of the essay, however, is to cast doubt on
    biological macroevolution, i.e. the development of today’s lifeforms from the
    earliest living cells. Unfortunately, this part of the essay is thoroughly mistaken.
    It cites various statements from Intelligent Design (ID) authors as though they
    are authoritative, when they are not.

    Like the late Mr. Crowner, I am an engineer and a Christian.
    Like him, I read the ID authors and believed them, because they offered some
    measure of scientific basis for their arguments, and because they offered
    support to my fairly literal interpretation of Genesis. However, I am also a
    research scientist, and eventually got around to giving a fair reading to the primary
    literature in the area. What I found is that the ID proponents typically do not
    tell the whole truth. On every issue I examined in depth, I found that the full
    sweep of the evidence showed the assertions of ID proponents like Michael Behe
    and Jonathan Wells to be wrong.

    For instance, on the issue of fossils, the essay states:  “For
    this theory to be valid, evidence of intermediary species—e.g., half-bird and
    half-fish—is essential. There is no observable factual evidence for this
    proposition.”

    That is incorrect.
    When I looked into this question, I found plenty of cases where “intermediary
    species” are known from the fossil record. This on-line article

    https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/
     shows diagrams of chains of intermediate
    species bridging the transitions from fish to amphibians, from reptiles to
    mammals, and from a fox-sized twig browser with 3-4 toes per foot
    (Hyracotherium or Eohippus), to today’s one-toed grass-eating horses.

    The essay quotes Darwin’s words in The Origin of Species, “Why then is not every
    geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology
    assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this,
    perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be raised against
    my theory.” But it fails to quote the very next sentence of Darwin’s which tells
    why this is not a problem for his theory: “The explanation lies, as I believe,
    in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”  This is exactly correct.

    We know from present day observation that only a very small
    percent of deceased animals become fossilized.  The fate of nearly all carcasses is to rot
    away or be eaten, rather than become buried in sediments under conditions which
    would leave clear physical traces millions of years later. Also, the basic math
    of population genetics shows that genetic transitions are much more likely to
    occur in small, isolated populations which will be relatively unlikely to leave
    fossils. Thus, the fossils that are found will be those of stages along the
    evolutionary journey where a population becomes widespread and fairly stable
    for many thousands or millions of years. Science predicts therefore, that we
    should not expect to find fossil representatives of every tiny change along the
    way, e.g. species-to-species transitions. However, in many cases we should find
    at least some representatives of intermediates for large transitions, like reptiles
    to mammals. Which we do.

    There are, of course, limits to the level of detail we can infer
    from an assemblage of fossils. As explained in the https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/
      article, while a set of intermediary fossils
    may be broadly consistent with macroevolution, we typically cannot be sure of
    the exact lineage relations among those fossils. One reason for that
    uncertainty is that the evolutionary family trees can be “branchy”, so we
    cannot be sure whether a particular fossilized species lies close to the main transitional
    trunk of the family tree, or somewhere out on a branch. That is what is meant
    by the Henry Gee quote cited in the essay (via ID author Jonathan Wells): “To
    take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a
    scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the
    same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not
    scientific.” Henry Gee was appalled that ID proponents would take his
    straightforward observation on the limits of inference from fossils as though
    it cast doubt on evolution in general: “The Discovery Institute has used
    unauthorized, selective quotations from my book In Search of Deep Time to
    support their outdated, mistaken views."

    Mr.
    Crowner’s essay cites a quote from Jonathan Wells on the Cambrian Explosion to
    conclude: “Thus, the fossil record does not support the theory that living
    things developed gradually over long periods of time, but instead appeared
    rather abruptly in their present form. “ 
    The examples of intermediate fossils cited above show this to be
    incorrect in general. It is also incorrect regarding the Cambrian explosion
    more specifically.

     See https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/darwins_doubt/
    for the significance of the Cambrian explosion. Just looking at the vertebrate
    line, the critters with spinal cords that first appeared in the Cambrian were
    not anything like today’s jawed fish, reptiles, mammals, etc. They were “basically
    filter-feeding worms that happen to swim. They don’t have jaws, scales, limbs,
    a bone skeleton, or anything else that most readers would associate with the
    word ‘fish’ “.  

    Next to
    show up in the fossil record millions of years later were jawless fishes, and
    after more millions of years finally fishes looking something like today’s
    jawed, bony fishes. More millions of years gets us amphibians crawling onto
    land, more millions of years to get reptiles, more millions of years to see
    primitive mammals, more millions of years to find fossils of more modern-like
    mammals. All this supports the theory that that “living things developed
    gradually over long periods of time.”

    To keep my remarks here tractable, I’ve confined my comments
    to the fossil record, but the same treatment could be given to the ID claims
    regarding irreducible complexity, etc. It is unfortunate that the writings of
    ID proponents continue to mislead Christians such as Mr. Crowner and so many
    others into believing that evolution is not supported by the physical facts.
    This just makes our faith seem dishonest and unrealistic to almost anyone with
    scientific exposure.

  • Scott B
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    First, my condolences to Mrs. Crowner for the loss of her
    husband. Judging by his essay, he must have been a capable and good-hearted
    man.

    The essay makes a number of good points.  It notes a number of pointers to a
    supernatural origin for the universe as a whole, e.g. the Big Bang and the fine
    tuning of physical constants that permit life to exist. It also notes the lack
    of scientific explanations to date for the origin of life from plain molecules
    (chemical evolution).

    The main burden of the essay, however, is to cast doubt on
    biological macroevolution, i.e. the development of today’s lifeforms from the
    earliest living cells. Unfortunately, this part of the essay is thoroughly mistaken.
    It cites various statements from Intelligent Design (ID) authors as though they
    are authoritative, when they are not.

    Like the late Mr. Crowner, I am an engineer and a Christian.
    Like him, I read the ID authors and believed them, because they offered some
    measure of scientific basis for their arguments, and because they offered
    support to my fairly literal interpretation of Genesis. However, I am also a
    research scientist, and eventually got around to giving a fair reading to the primary
    literature in the area. What I found is that the ID proponents typically do not
    tell the whole truth. On every issue I examined in depth, I found that the full
    sweep of the evidence showed the assertions of ID proponents like Michael Behe
    and Jonathan Wells to be wrong.

    For instance, on the issue of fossils, the essay states:  “For
    this theory to be valid, evidence of intermediary species—e.g., half-bird and
    half-fish—is essential. There is no observable factual evidence for this
    proposition.”

    That is incorrect.
    When I looked into this question, I found plenty of cases where “intermediary
    species” are known from the fossil record. This on-line article https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/
     shows diagrams of chains of intermediate
    species bridging the transitions from fish to amphibians, from reptiles to
    mammals, and from a fox-sized twig browser with 3-4 toes per foot
    (Hyracotherium or Eohippus), to today’s one-toed grass-eating horses.

    The essay quotes Darwin’s words in The Origin of Species, “Why then is not every
    geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology
    assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain, and this,
    perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be raised against
    my theory.” But it fails to quote the very next sentence of Darwin’s which tells
    why this is not a problem for his theory: “The explanation lies, as I believe,
    in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.”  This is exactly correct.

    We know from present day observation that only a very small
    percent of deceased animals become fossilized.  The fate of nearly all carcasses is to rot
    away or be eaten, rather than become buried in sediments under conditions which
    would leave clear physical traces millions of years later. Also, the basic math
    of population genetics shows that genetic transitions are much more likely to
    occur in small, isolated populations which will be relatively unlikely to leave
    fossils. Thus, the fossils that are found will be those of stages along the
    evolutionary journey where a population becomes widespread and fairly stable
    for many thousands or millions of years. Science predicts therefore, that we
    should not expect to find fossil representatives of every tiny change along the
    way, e.g. species-to-species transitions. However, in many cases we should find
    at least some representatives of intermediates for large transitions, like reptiles
    to mammals. Which we do.

    There are, of course, limits to the level of detail we can infer
    from an assemblage of fossils. As explained in the https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/
      article, while a set of intermediary fossils
    may be broadly consistent with macroevolution, we typically cannot be sure of
    the exact lineage relations among those fossils. One reason for that
    uncertainty is that the evolutionary family trees can be “branchy”, so we
    cannot be sure whether a particular fossilized species lies close to the main transitional
    trunk of the family tree, or somewhere out on a branch. That is what is meant
    by the Henry Gee quote cited in the essay (via ID author Jonathan Wells): “To
    take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a
    scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the
    same validity as a bedtime story—amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not
    scientific.” Henry Gee was appalled that ID proponents would take his
    straightforward observation on the limits of inference from fossils as though
    it cast doubt on evolution in general: “The Discovery Institute has used
    unauthorized, selective quotations from my book In Search of Deep Time to
    support their outdated, mistaken views."

    Mr.
    Crowner’s essay cites a quote from Jonathan Wells on the Cambrian Explosion to
    conclude: “Thus, the fossil record does not support the theory that living
    things developed gradually over long periods of time, but instead appeared
    rather abruptly in their present form. “ 
    The examples of intermediate fossils cited above show this to be
    incorrect in general. It is also incorrect regarding the Cambrian explosion
    more specifically.

     See https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/darwins_doubt/
    for the significance of the Cambrian explosion. Just looking at the vertebrate
    line, the critters with spinal cords that first appeared in the Cambrian were
    not anything like today’s jawed fish, reptiles, mammals, etc. They were “basically
    filter-feeding worms that happen to swim. They don’t have jaws, scales, limbs,
    a bone skeleton, or anything else that most readers would associate with the
    word ‘fish’ “.  

    Next to
    show up in the fossil record millions of years later were jawless fishes, and
    after more millions of years finally fishes looking something like today’s
    jawed, bony fishes. More millions of years gets us amphibians crawling onto
    land, more millions of years to get reptiles, more millions of years to see
    primitive mammals, more millions of years to find fossils of more modern-like
    mammals. All this supports the theory that that “living things developed
    gradually over long periods of time.”

    To keep my remarks here tractable, I’ve confined my comments
    to the fossil record, but the same treatment could be given to the ID claims
    regarding irreducible complexity, etc. It is unfortunate that the writings of
    ID proponents continue to mislead Christians such as Mr. Crowner and so many
    others into believing that evolution is not supported by the physical facts.
    This just makes our faith seem dishonest and unrealistic to almost anyone with
    scientific exposure.

  • World Observer
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    This reader found Mr. Crowner's profound article to be very valuable in validating some personal assumptions regarding macro evolution theory shortcomings.  Thank you for posting same.  Here's hoping such truths will soon be included in widely used science texts.

  • Erik O
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    I am a student of logic. I love logic, it's simple ability to root out the reality in obscure situations. The ability to reveal the man behind the curtain. The Bible is logic, it defines it, demonstrates it, and embodies it. Logic is from God. Logic leads to the conclusion that we have not descended from animals. To continue to think so and try to apply logic to a macroevolutionary theory is to become illogical, an antitype to the character of the logical man.

  • PaulC
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    This comment is not directed at the details of this article, but a related field.  The Bible is authoritative and accurate.  I realize that there are many things that I do not know how to check.  But where we can check it, it rings true.  Included in that which can be checked is that it is accurate with its record of time.  Bible Chronology has become my hobby.  I do not have the credentials of a scientist, but I am a lover of God and of his truth.  An excellent book on the subject of Bible chronology is The Chronology of the Old Testament by Floyd Nolen Jones, available from AnswersInGenesis.org   Dr. Jones has studied in many fields of scientific inquiry.  He began as an evolutionist who changed to believe that the Bible is accurate in what it records.   What his book has to do with this is to show that the history of the world is in many ways documented, and fairly short--about 6000 years.  I know that there are many who are skeptical about this.  I invite you to read his book.  Yes, it is somewhat technical, but he has done the Christian church a valuable service in showing the accuracy of what is recorded.  A bible believer cannot be (as far as I can tell) consistent and claim also to believe that God used evolution as his tool to create.  

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    On this contentious issue of conflicting theories of Evolution and Intelligent Design, I am more in alignment with Scott B as posted in this Comment section.  For while I believe in Triune God who created the universe, which among other characteristics is The Intelligent Designer, I do not accept the ideology and science known as Intelligent Design.  A fundamental ontological question that is omitted from the late Mr. Crowner's essay is the question asked by five-year old children. "Who made God?" Or to put it another way, where did this intelligence to create such a marvelous universe come from?  Theology of course premises that the Eternal Creator God is, well, eternal, that is, always has been even before the creation of the universe. So we are back to faith.  A positivist ideology tries to construct a theory of the universe based upon science, while on the other hand Intelligent Design proponents try to construct science upon theological premises.  (to prove God?)  Hey, I can't figure out how God can instantaneously handle a 100 billion galaxies averaging 100 billion stars each, spread out over 93 billion light years, while numbering the hairs on my head (which are not that many anymore).  My mind buckles.  So why do I believe in God that is revealed in Jesus? The Spirit bears witness with my spirit.

  • Richard H's picture
    Richard H
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Allen Johnson,I would suggest you are conflating the science of Intelligent Design with Creation Science.  They are distinctly different, though they, in many ways, compliment each other.  Creation Science begins with the presupposition that scripture is true and interprets the evidence accordingly.  The science you appear to support is the atheist based secular science beginning with the presuppositions that there is no God and matter and energy are all that exist and ever existed.  Intelligent Design begins with the presuppositions that intelligence, matter and energy exist and interpret the data accordingly.  It just so happens that the ID interpretations do point to the truths of scripture where secular science dishonestly ignores that possibility every time.  The ID interpretations, however, stop short of naming God as the creator but rather end with pointing to an Intelligent agent as the designer and creator based on the best explanation that we know of today (ie: only intelligent agents design and create complex systems, they never happen by chance) .  You may be confused about God being eternal but you seem to accept that matter and energy always existed and never had a beginning.  Otherwise, you have to also ask where did matter and energy come from, and based on secular science, that is impossible to answer, not just difficult to comprehend?Secular science requires more faith than either ID or Creation Science where it comes to origins.  Science is employed in all three systems, its the interpretations that very due to the faith systems they use.    

  • Lockmess Family
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    The most amazing story of my lifetime is the change from a country ambivalent, maybe even lukewarm, to the gospel, to a country absolutely hostile to Christianity and to young-earth creationism in particular.  Intelligent design proponents don't fare a lot better.  I applaud the late Mr. Crowner for his essay, and was reminded of many of the good resources I've encountered along the way.  Thank you for publishing it.

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Richard H., I appreciate your thoughtful response to my posting. My own position tends to align with a Theistic approach which includes an evolutionary biological explanation for life. Perhaps I didn't write clearly enough, but I do accept the Big Bang hypothesis which means matter and energy came out of nothingness and had a point in which time began. This to me explains the passage in Genesis 1 in which God says, "Let there be light." I probably did conflate Intelligent Design with Creation Science (such as Answers in Genesis), although the  Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District case concluded that Intelligent Design was a veiled attempt through a modified version of Creation Science to establish religion. (see Kenneth Miller, etc.)  What I see at root is an effort to prove God through science (Intelligent Design) and a contra effort to disprove a personal, knowable God through positivist evolutionary science. Either ideology of course can have profound public policy ramifications.  My point is that we cannot empirically prove or disprove God (which might have been the temptation Satan lured Jesus with to throw himself off the Temple).  So how do we come to faith, a faith which indeed includes a belief in a Creator God who both spans the universe and time yet knows each of us individually and loves us enough to suffer and die upon a cross imposed by sinful humanity (including me)?  Rather than go into biblical exegesis and theological explanation, I said that the Holy Spirit bears witness into my spirit.  It rings true. And so with that in mind, Intelligent Design proponents can indeed show the vestigia trinitatis of all creation, the painting that points to The Artist, the music that points to The Composer.  But I feel that Theistic  evolutionary theory can do this better and with more integrity.  Of course, Richard, you are right that at secular science also has to make some massive ontological leaps of "faith" beginning with "why and how and where the Big Bang" along with the remarkable miracle that the laws of physics are just right.  So I might be made of stardust by  the Intelligence that planned this long journey. But the ontology of this Intelligence (God) is unknowable.  "I AM who I AM."

  • Tim E
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    I am neither a research scientist nor any other sort of scientist, but I am a human being created in the image of God.  I grow tired of the argument that there is a large consensus on such and such a scientific subject, therefore it must be true.  Does this argument not fly in the face of the scientific method?  As for me, I will believe in the inerrancy of scripture first and wait for honest science to catch up, as has happened already many, many times in the past.  After all, we area all fallible creatures easily deceived.  Genesis 1-3 lays out as direct a case for creation by God as is possible and that's good enough for me.

  • Richard H's picture
    Richard H
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    Alan Johnson,Thank you for the clarification.  You would do well to also read the Kitzmiller V Dover case from the ID take.  Judge Jones copied verbatim what the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State attorneys had written out for him.  As a student of both Creation Science and Intelligent Design they are not the same.  Ken Miller I've found to not be a reliable source on this issue.  ID is not out to "prove God" but rather to prove that an Intelligent Agent is the most reasonable explanation for origins which the secular scientists attempt to dishonestly deny.  The ID folks consist of Christians (varying from young earth creationists to old earth creationists) as well as agnostics and people of other faiths.  Their primary effort is to be completely honest about truth in science and remove the artificial blinders and constraints the atheists have placed on science and students.  You'd do well to read Darwin's Black Box or Signature in the Cell to understand what some of those truths are.Take Care and God Bless

  •  Paul B. Taylor's picture
    Paul B. Taylor
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    It is absolutely necessary that we begin think tanks that can address the issue of secular science verses Biblical science.  As is demonstrated by this article, the atheist mind is one that does not primarily prove what it believes, but, rather, fights the belief in God.  It is the will power of the atheist-socialist that challenges Biblical Christianity.  Christians who work in the fields of Biblical science must muster their wills with factual truths that defeat secular science and the will power of the atheist.  We are right: they are wrong, not because we say that they are wrong, but rather because we can prove that they are wrong.

  • JJ
    Posted: Fri, 04/15/2016 12:59 pm

    I want to say thanks to DakotaLutheran and Scott B for their thoughtful and respectful dissenting responses. Scott B in particular raised some points that are too often ignored, unknown, or misunderstood in the creationist community.

  • AST Student's picture
    AST Student
    Posted: Wed, 06/08/2016 11:33 pm

    These are very well written responses and to the point.  I recently attended a class that gave all the evidence Mr. Crowner gathered along with much more.  It baffles me that Darwin's theory is still being taught.  Not long ago I entered into the Museum of Natural History's Mammal's exhibit in D.C.  I was astonished that Darwin's theories were being flung about in a promoting fashion as if they were to be accepted by all.  I marveled as the many visitors seemed to nod in agreement with the ongoing videos. 

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