Re: That's why it's called the theory of evolution

Stephen E. Jones (
Sat, 21 Aug 1999 20:41:41 +0800


Here is an interesting article at:

from the National Post, Canada by a journalist who is a *real* sceptic-he
doesn't believe in creationism (he seems only aware of the young-Earth
version), but neither does he, from his science training, believe the
evidence is adequate for him to believe in evolution (ie. macroevolution).

I like the following:

"Science has theories for all these phenomena, but they are just that --
theories, and often poor ones at that. I believe there is a mechanism behind
the development of species through the ages that has not yet been
discovered. What is it? I have no idea. But logic demands there is
something we do not yet know."

I wonder what that could possibly be? :-)


PS: There is so much stuff coming in about this Kansas issue on the other
list I am on (as well as this one), that I may not have time to debate issues
at length, so for the time being I will probably just post articles that I may not
have time to answer responses to. Also, I am trying to set up my web page.

National Post, Canada

Thursday, August 19, 1999

That's why it's called the theory of evolution

Philip Mathias
National Post

I don't believe in evolution. That's why, for a moment, I was pleased the
Kansas Board of Education voted last week to delete any mention of
evolution from the state's science curriculum.

But my delight was only momentary, because I believe even less in
creationism, which teaches God created each species by miracle at different
stages in the history of the world. Creationists sometimes say the fossil
record is a sham, and God created all the animals in seven "days," as the
Bible declares. That's not for me.

But I don't believe in evolution either, for two reasons. The first is that
evolution has become a faith, a kind of scientific religion, whose dogmas
you must believe if you are to be treated with respect as a thoughtful

I have tried to debate evolution with many scientists, and their reaction is
always the same -- at first the discomfort felt by a believer faced with an
unbeliever, and then, when the light dawns, contempt for somebody they
believe must be a religious nut.

In fact, I graduated some time ago with a degree in chemistry, physics,
mathematics and biology (including evolution theory) from London
University. And I like to think I learned my lessons well -- that a true
scientist believes nothing until it is proven.

Evolution, for the most part, is unproven. That's why it's called the theory
of evolution. In scientific practice, theories are grist for the mill of debate
and testing, not unquestioning faith.

Evolution's dogmatic underpinnings are likely a hangover from the
Victorian era. Life scientists had to be forceful in those days to counter the
stifling insistence of religionists that the direct hand of God explained

Despite victory in Kansas, creationism will never become the mainstream
theory of the development of life on Earth. These days, most people
understand the book of Genesis is an attempt to explain the human
condition by story, not literal fact. It's high time for science to stop
countering an imaginary threat from religion by pushing its own articles of

My second reason for not believing evolution is that, for the most part, it is
not proven and is even, at times, nonsensical. At this point in the argument,
I must make a careful distinction between macro- and micro-evolution.

There's no doubt species do adapt to local conditions. A bird's beak will
change to deal with different nuts, and gazelles will run faster to escape
cheetahs that are also evolving into faster runners to catch the gazelles.
That's micro-evolution.

But macro-evolution is another ballgame. The process of natural selection
that changes birds and gazelles is gradual. But the fossil record is not
continuous, as natural selection would require. The elephant and the whale
appear relatively suddenly.

Some argue the huge gaps in the fossil record are caused by genetic
mutation. An individual in one species is born with a mutation that forms
the beginning of quite another species. Nothing in between. The problem
with this idea is that mutations are almost always a handicap, and only
occur in one individual at a time.

Are we to believe the same mutation appeared spontaneously in enough
individuals of one species to enable the mutants to form the breeding base
for another stable species? That would truly be a miracle. As astronomer
Fred Hoyle put it, that's like believing a hurricane could blow through a
junkyard and assemble a Boeing 747.

Another popular theory is that species evolved by micro-adaptation, but in
rapid bursts, and in places far from the locations where we find fossils.
That's why there's no record of the gradual change from one major species
to another. That's like saying we know there are people on Mars, but we
have no evidence yet.

Evolution theory can't explain many mysteries, such as the development of
the eye. Natural selection is supposed to act without knowledge of where it
is going -- so why would it assemble a rudimentary lens, cornea, muscles
and retina all together, when these individual components cannot work in

Evolution can't explain the sudden appearance of highly evolved
invertebrates in the Cambrian period 600 million years ago. It can't explain
the radical difference between humans and apes -- so superficially similar in
bodies but worlds apart in capabilities.

Science has theories for all these phenomena, but they are just that --
theories, and often poor ones at that. I believe there is a mechanism behind
the development of species through the ages that has not yet been
discovered. What is it? I have no idea. But logic demands there is
something we do not yet know.

Does that mean evolution should be kept away from children in schools, a
la Kansas? No, it doesn't. Evolution should be taught in a healthy, balanced
way, not as dogma, but as theory.

Evolution's shortcomings should also be taught, so children may
understand the majesty of the natural world, and its impenetrable mysteries,
and at the same time develop truly inquiring minds.

Copyright (c) Southam Inc. All rights reserved.

"Reduced to the initial and still crude form in which it is now emerging in
the modern world, the new religious spirit appears, as we have said (cf. I),
as the impassioned vision and anticipation of some super-mankind ... To
believe and to serve was not enough: we now find that it is becoming not
only possible but imperative literally to love evolution." (Teilhard de
Chardin P., "Christianity and Evolution", 1971, pp183-184, in Bird W.R.,
"The Origin of Species Revisited", Regency: Nashville TN, Vol. II, 1991,