Apologetics for Beginners: Discussing Evolution

dna-1811955_1920Evolution has been unilaterally presented for so long, and in such a way, that many have accepted it as fact. It is not fact. It is a theory, and it’s important to recognize that from the outset. Additionally, a common cultural connotation surrounding evolution, especially in popular media, is that only a willfully ignorant or blindly religious individual could disregard Darwin. Ironically, he has become the secular deity that academia worships, and the oligarchy leaves no room for questioning.

While this is definitely not a comprehensive look at the issue, it will hopefully give some insights into the weaknesses of evolutionary theory and how to discuss them with those who hold this view. If you are in conversation with someone who wants to flaunt evolution as game-stopper, don’t be intimidated by this assertion. There is much for which evolution must account.

Very few doubt the realities of adaptation, meaning simply that change does occur over both long and short periods of time. However, it would be the highest caliber of equivocation to imply this is all that is meant by the general term evolution. No, this term consists of many additional and much more doubtful implications, two of which we will examine here. The first of these is common ancestry, which is the argument that all organisms are connected by their descent from a single primordial structure. The second is that biological information can originate and exist without intelligence.[1] Let’s take a closer look at these problematic premises of evolution:

Common Ancestry

In chapter four of his book, The Origin of Species,[2] Darwin includes a branch-like sketch to help illustrate the theory he was positing. This “tree of life,” which it has since been called, supposedly demonstrates the idea of common ancestry through the modifying process of natural selection. In this analogy the root of the tree represents the simple form from which all life came. The middle of the tree represents forms that have gone extinct and the top of the tree shows the forms that we have today. Darwin himself acknowledged some degree of difficulty within his own theory, but hoped further fossil finds would prove him right. Unfortunately, these fossils have not been found.

In addition to the missing fossils, is the problem of the Cambrian Explosion.[3] This is the fairly fast geological emergence of most of the major groups of animals in the fossil record. It highlights the inadequacy of accepting a continuous ancestry from only one primordial form, and it emphasizes the uniqueness of animal structure. In other words, unlike the idea of common ancestry, where forms change extremely slowly from generation to generation, the fossil records show that these changes would have been extremely large adaptations over a relatively short period of time. Even if that were possible, those type of large changes, happening so quickly, would lead to deformity not advancement of a species. Rather, the evidence of the Cambrian Explosion seems to deny the idea of common ancestry all together.

The Importance of Information

The theory of evolution rests on the idea that the information needed to cause life can originate without intelligence. When we look at other examples of information, such as written books or software code, it is absurd to divorce the evidence of information from the reality of intelligence. Dr. Meyer uses the example of inserting random zeros into a computer code. Any programmer would admit that allowing this sort of unguided mutation would lead to a faulty operating system, not an improved functionality of the program. This is true for biological systems as well. There is a complex code in DNA which provides information for proteins. It is a stubborn sort of blind faith to believe this information-driven complexity could just happen by chance. There is simply no way that the random mutation of natural selection would produce a functional genetic code.

Furthermore, the whole idea of evolution is that organisms could have built up gradually from the unguided process of natural selection. This is an unintelligent process, meaning the information needed is not directed by a source of intelligence. This is an insurmountable problem due to the reality of irreducible complexity. In other words, in order for a biological system to function, there is a certain level of complexity that is required, which excludes the reality of the same system existing in a simpler form. If we look at bacteria for example, we see that the flagella motor consists of around thirty protein parts, and even with only a few parts missing, it is nonviable. All parts are needed to function. Accidental or slow systematic development is ridiculously improbable.[4] This necessity of information excludes the possibility that organisms came to exist in a simple form that then developed in complexity over time. Instead, it points to the existence of an intelligent source that caused life into existence in an irreducible manner.

So What?

Evolution may be the best theory that a naturalistic worldview has to offer, but that doesn’t make it a good theory in itself. Those who hold this view do so despite troubling gaps of evidence and contrary scientific data. They may want to call their belief fact, but don’t accept the rhetoric. There is much to be discussed. Christians may bear a burden of proof as to why their belief is reasonable, but so does every other faith, even if that faith is disguised as scientific theory.

[1] This blog is not presenting any original ideas, but rather is seeking to summarize and relate the ideas discussed originally and thoroughly in the following:

(a) Meyer, Steven C. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York: Harper Collins, 2013. (b) Interview between Stephen Meyer and Eric Metaxas with Socrates in the City which can be watched at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFPhTDfcbrA. (c) Podcast interview with Stephen Meyer and Doug Axe by Frank Turek on Cross-Examined. Podcast title: 5 Royal Problems with MacroEvolution (January 7, 2017).

[2] Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. New York: Penguin Group, 1958.

[3] It may be important to some readers to note that this discussion is not presented from a strictly young-earth perspective.

[4] Axe, Douglas. Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed. New York: Harper Collins, 2016, p. 189.

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