Three Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Worldview with Sean McDowell
High school biology textbooks are riddled with errors, misstatements, and exaggerations about evolution. This may come as a surprise to you, especially since evolution is taught a fact in most public schools. But, believe it or not, there is much more to the issue of evolution than is included in the pages of most high school biology textbooks. In fact, when all the facts are considered, and despite all appearances to the contrary, evolution is a theory in crisis. Let me explain.
As a high school student in the late 1950's Jonathan Wells was steeped in the theory of evolution. Even though he had grown up in a Christian home Jonathan abandoned his faith when he went off to college. He credits the theory of evolution as playing a major role in his decision to become an atheist. According to Jonathan, "The evolutionary story simply replaced the religious imagery I had grown up with." Jonathan continued his education by earning two college degrees and two doctorate degrees, but all the while he continued to assume evolution was true. After all, that's what everybody was teaching him. But when he began to look at evolution critically, he came to an entirely different conclusion.
In 2000 Jonathan Wells recorded his findings on evolution in a book called Icons of Evolution. In Icons, Wells demolishes the most common examples used as support for the theory of evolution. When I picked up a copy of his book, it was his subtitle that most piqued my interest: Why Much of What We Teach about Evolution is Wrong. In his book, Wells lists 10 examples of why evolution is wrong. Let's briefly consider three of his examples. There is a good chance you will find one of the following examples in your current biology textbook.
THE MILLER-UREY EXPERIMENT
In 1953 Stanley Miller used a laboratory apparatus to artificially produce amino acids-the building blocks of life. In his experiment Miller simulated the early conditions of life on earth, shot an electric current through it, and "bam" out came amino acids. If this was true, then God was out of a job. For if man can create life from non-life, then why would we need God? Although his experiment was heralded as a significant breakthrough (and still appears in most biology textbooks today), it has major flaws.
First, there is no existence that the pre-biotic soup (warm little ponds) ever even existed! Second, geological evidence indicates that the early atmosphere would have been very hostile, not friendly, to the production of life. Even if an amino acid was produced it could not have survived. Third, the amino acids produced by Miller were not even the types of amino acids that have any relevance to living cells. Even Miller, forty years after his famous experiment conceded in Scientific American: "The problem of the origin of life has turned out to be much more difficult than I, and most other people, envisioned." When the rubber hits the road, evolutionists simply have no idea how life could have emerged from non-life.
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />DARWIN'S TREE OF LIFE
Probably the most well known example used to teach evolution is Darwin's tree of life. Textbooks are full of the illustration of how all living creatures are modified descendants of a common ancestor that lived millions of years ago. The simple tree-like structure is meant to illustrate how creatures "evolve" over time and eventually account for all the complexity and diversity in the circle of life. But does the evidence of geology support such a claim?
Interestingly, even Darwin was aware of how his own theory was at odds with the facts. He observed 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 urged against my theory." Since the time of Darwin, the evidence has been even more disparaging for his theory.
According to Darwin's theory, the geological record should be full of species that are slowly increasing in complexity over time. Since evolution relies on time, chance, and incremental steps, sudden leaps are not possible. But this is exactly what the fossil record shows, which directly contradicts the theory of evolution! (Note: I assume old-earth dating for the sake of argument-even if we accept an old earth evolution is still false!)
In the Cambrian Explosion (which is dated by scientists to 530 million years ago), all the major body plans for animals show up in a geological instant without any trace of less complex ancestors. Rather than emerging in a step-by-step fashion, as predicted by evolutionary theory, the most complex animals show up virtually overnight (which is why the Cambrian Explosion is also called "The Biological Big Bang"). The Cambrian explosion occurred within an exceedingly narrow window of geologic time, lasting no more than 5 million years. Compared with the 3-plus-billion-year history of life on earth, the period of the explosion is less than one minute in a 24-hour-day. In comparison, this is less than one stride across an entire football field. Rather than life evolving over a long period of life on earth as Darwin surmised, it actually appeared in a very short time span. Darwins' tree of life is a myth.
FROM APE TO HUMAN
Probably the most common example used to support evolution is the idea that humans evolved from apes. The pictures of a knuckle-walking ape evolving through a series of stages into an upright human being are included in virtually all biology textbooks. And the fossils fill the halls of museums. Yet the evidence, as in the case of the other supposed evidences for evolution, is not as straightforward as it appears.
The first problem with the fossil record is that interpretations are greatly influenced by personal beliefs and prejudices. Scientists often begin with the conviction that human evolution is true and then fit the existing fossils into their preconceived ideas. This is illustrated in the famous example of the "Piltdown Man." In 1912 paleontologist Charles Dawson found some pieces of a human skull and part of an ape-like lower jaw with no teeth in a gravel pit in England. Since scientists had supposed that an earlier ancestor would have a large brain and an ape-like jaw, it was assumed to be the "missing link." Since "Piltdown Man" fit the description so accurately, no one checked to see if the skull and jaw fragments even belonged to the same individual. Later findings demonstrated that the skull was human and the jaw fragments belonged to an orangutan. In fact, the jaw had been chemically treated to make it look like a fossil and the teeth had been deliberately filed down.
The second problem is that the fossil record is open to many interpretations as individual specimens can be reconstructed in many different ways. For example, when National Geographic hired four artists to reconstruct a female character from seven fossil bones found in Africa, they came up with radically different interpretations. The reconstructions varied from a modern African woman to apelike creatures with varied foreheads, jaws and faces. Even though the artists had the exact same fossils they interpreted them in completely different ways.
The case for evolution is greatly overstated. Nevertheless, most biology textbooks have errors, misstatements, and biased data about evolution. In sum, here are three questions to ask your biology teacher or anyone else who may believe in the theory of evolution:
1. Origin of Life: Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth -- when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?
2. Darwin's Tree of Life Why don't textbooks discuss the "Cambrian explosion," in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor -- thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?
3. Human Origins. Why are artists' drawings of ape-like humans used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident -- when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?
Sean McDowell's monthly columns can be read at planetwisdom.com. Sean is also available to speak, and can be reached at email@example.com.
 Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2000)
 J. Horgan, "In the Beginning " Scientific American, February 1991.
 Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species, rep. from 1859 (New York: New York Library, 1958), 280.
 Jonathan Wells, "Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher about Evolution." http://www.iconsofevolution.com/tools/questions.php3.
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