SCISSION II - EVOLUTION

In the previous scission dealing with creation we highlighted the controversy over anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change. As heated as this battle has been at times, it is only a skirmish when pitted against the battle over the origin of species.

In 1842 Charles Darwin began to write of his views on nature which culminated in the publishing in 1859 of On the Origin of Species. It has been recognized that there were various historical proposals dealing with various 'fixed' species in nature, but Darwin's theory of evolution was a huge break with previous scientific trends. It is said that his views of debased human nature led to the idea of survival of the fittest, what he called 'natural selection'. That is to say that, prior to Darwin, it was thought that God had created 'fixed species'. Focus then was generally on what is now called 'micro-evolution', variations within definable populations due to time and environment.
From Thomas Huxley's Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature




The frontispiece
to Huxley's
Evidence as to
Man's Place in
Nature
(1863)
.
From:
Wikipedia



Darwin proposed a whole new - singular - way of thinking: nature without a creator, without God. However, it was Thomas Huxley, a self-educated English anatomist, that brought the discussion to the idea of humans deriving from apes. Huxley also coined the term 'agnostic'1| so that he didn't have to explain in detail how little he thought about the Deity. Still, he supported Bible reading in the schools, believing it set a good moral compass and proper language use. He strongly opposed public subsidies for church education. Darwin evolved into an agnostic over the last years of his life. In his Autobiography, published 1887, Darwin describes his change from having a naive acceptance of Christianity to becoming a reluctant agnostic to the point in which he “gradually came to disbelieve Christianity” and wondered why everyone else had not done likewise2|.

In 1863 Thomas Huxley wrote Evidence As To Man's Place in Nature where he felt he proved that man descended from apes. In an 1860 debate at Oxford, Bishop of Oxford Samuel Wilberforce presented his case against humans evolving from apes. Huxley is said to have retorted that 'he would rather be descended from an ape than a man who misused his gifts2a|.' This is said to have comprised a triumph of science over religion . . . much the way that the Scopes Monkey Trial in the United States was considered conclusive in favor of science, as depicted in the 1960 film Inherit the Wind.

It may be long lingering debilitating illness and the death of three of his ten children in childhood that motivated Darwin to drift away from the Christian faith. His eldest son, Francis, quotes his father's words near his death, "I am not the least afraid to die3|."

While many in Britain credit Huxley most for the secularization of English society, as far as this author knows the phrase 'separation of church and state' originated with V.I. Lenin in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. A bas-relief of Darwin's visage appeared in Moscow's V. I. Lenin State Library of the USSR [re-named in 1992 as the Russian State Library.] Atheistic Marxism found support in Darwin's theory.

Charles Darwin has been identified as one of the most influential men of history4|. Many of Earth's geographical features have been named after the naturalist; more than 120 species and nine genera have been named after Darwin5|. The United Kingdom has printed a portrait of Charles Darwin on the reverse of its 10 banknotes. An evolved form of evolution has currently been accepted as 'fact' by a vast majority of the world's scientists. More to the point, the theory of evolution has pervaded every scientific discipline today. In 1995 Daniel C. Dennett wrote in Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meaning of Life that Darwinism can be seen as a corrosive acid that is capable of dissolving many of our earlier beliefs in sociology and philosophy6|.

Doubting Charles

Darwin saw himself more as a theorist, and Huxley as an empiricist. It is arguable whether Darwin retained his doubts concerning his theory. He certainly seemed to become increasingly defensive about certain precepts at the core of his idea of selective evolution. In his great work The Origin of Species, he starts off Chapter 6 ['Difficulties on Theory'] with the sentence, 'Long before having arrived at this part of my work, a crowd of difficulties will have occurred to the reader. Some of them are so grave that to this day I can never reflect on them without being staggered; but, to the best of my judgment, the greater number are only apparent, and those that are real are not, I think, fatal to my theory7|.' Again, 'I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived8|.'

In his concluding chapter to Origins he wrote, 'That many and grave objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through natural selection, I do not deny. I have endeavoured to give to them their full force. Nothing at first can appear more difficult to believe than that the more complex organs [e.g. the eye] and instincts should have been perfected not by means superior to, though analogous with, human reason, but by the accumulation of innumerable slight variations, each good for the individual possessor9|.'

From The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin he is quoted as saying, 'For myself, also, I rejoice profoundly; for, thinking of so many cases of men pursuing an illusion for years, often and often a cold shudder has run through me, and I have asked myself whether I may not have devoted my life to a phantasy10|.'

Consider this from Chapter 9 of Origins: 'Consequently, if my theory be true, it is indisputable that before the lowest Silurian stratum was deposited, long periods elapsed, as long as, or probably far longer than, the whole interval from the Silurian age [approx. 144-416 million years ago] to the present day; and that during these vast, yet quite unknown, periods of time, the world swarmed with living creatures. To the question why we do not find records of these vast primordial periods, I can give no satisfactory answer. . . . The case at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained11|.'

Darwin felt strongly that his theory should be rigorously tested across the scientific spectrum, and was confident that eventually the theory would be proven to be scientific fact.

Theory or Scientific Fact?

Darwin's theory has been tested and re-tested, tried and challenged for a century and a half. Many scientists today are finding problems with 'evolution' because there are so many discovered phenomena that it does not explain12|. Yet the late Julian S. Huxley, descendant of Thomas Huxley, British biologist and philosopher, evolutionary proponent and eugenicist, said in 1959, ‘Darwin’s theory is no longer a theory but a fact.’

The Wikipedia site13| frames the 'theory of evolution' thus:
An example of evolution as theory is the modern synthesis of Darwinian natural selection and
Mendelian inheritance. As with any scientific theory, the modern synthesis is constantly  debated, tested, and refined by scientists, but there is an overwhelming consensus in the  scientific community that it remains the only robust model that accounts for the known facts  concerning evolution14|.
    [emphasis added here]

Critics also state that evolution is not a fact15|. In science, a fact is a verified empirical observation; in colloquial contexts, however, a fact can simply refer to anything for which there is overwhelming evidence. For example, in common usage theories such as "the Earth revolves around the Sun" and "objects fall due to gravity" may be referred to as "facts", even though they are purely theoretical. From a scientific standpoint, therefore, evolution may be called a "fact" for the same reason that gravity can: under the scientific definition, evolution is an observable process that occurs whenever a population of organisms genetically changes over time. Under the colloquial definition, the theory of evolution can also be called a fact, referring to this theory's well-established nature. Thus, evolution is widely considered both a theory and a fact by scientists16|.
. . . . .
Thus, to say that evolution is not proven is trivially true, but no more an indictment of evolution than calling it a "theory". The confusion arises, however, in that the colloquial meaning of proof is simply "compelling evidence", in which case scientists would indeed consider evolution "proven."17|

The Wikipedia page goes on to say:
[The creationist strategy:] an attempt to gradually undermine evolution and ultimately to "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions"18|. . . . Scientists and U.S. courts have rejected this objection . . .

Science has repeatedly turned to the courts for support; actually, it appears to be educators - science educators - who have aggressively tried to establish their views on evolution vs creationism as uniquely exclusive. How odd that evolutionists should turn to the courts to legitimize their science; shouldn't science stand on proven fact? According to the above, enough evidence equals fact, and consensus equals 'scientific fact'. By this scientific method the Earth could still be flat if we did not have satellites to prove otherwise.
edge of the flat earth
15th century conception of a 'flat earth'
Unhappily, the preceding Wikipedia page frames the controversy as being between science and religion. Inexplicably they did not include any scientific data that contradicts evolution - indeed wholeheartedly confirmed the validity of evolutionary theory.

An educational biology textbook defines the problem of 'where does life come from?' In 1977 the text stated, 'As we have seen, the life of every organism comes from its parents or parent. Does life ever spring from nonliving matter? We can find no evidence of this happening. So far as we can tell, life comes only from life. Biologists call this the principal of biogenesis19|.' From time to time we hear someone say, 'It is just a matter of time and we will create life.' Like someone from Missouri, 'I will believe it when I see it;' and look carefully for fraud as happens all too often in this sort of science.

Evidence has shown that when environmental stresses impose mutation on DNA the outcome is negative much more often than it is positive. Furthermore, DNA has shown a strong impetus to repair itself. In February, 2011 the Open Evolution Journal published an article questioning how genetic mutation might influence the theory of evolution20|. Dr. William DeJong and Dr. Hans Degens wrote in this abstract: Both digital codes in computers and nucleotide codes in cells are protected against mutations. . . . Our mutation protection perspective enhances the understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of digital and nucleotide codes and its limitations, and reveals a paradox between the necessity of dysfunctioning mutation protection for evolution and its disadvantage for survival. In other words, without correction of mutational changes to the DNA, survival chances appear to decline.

This author has seen only one rebuttal of this article, and it was completely sneering and derisive, offering no scientific counterpoint. The article has had excellent broadcast on the internet. It provides an example of the sort of debate going on within the scientific community concerning the theory of evolution.
Maps of synapses in search for memory


Map of a possible memory
engram laid down after short
sessions of unsupervised learning.
Mapping Memory (Gary Lynch)




One area of enquiry, to this author's mind, would be the location of the engram, and how it might have developed. The dictionary defines engram as a noun meaning 'a presumed encoding in neural tissue that provides a physical basis for the persistence of memory; a memory trace.' Wikipedia defines the engram as 'a hypothetical means by which memory traces are stored as biophysical or biochemical changes in the brain (and other neural tissue) in response to external stimuli21|.' In animals of lower orders as well as humans we find the ability to 'learn', that is, to remember specific stimuli to the organism. The search for the engram has proved elusive; in some lower animals it appears to be in one part of the brain; in other animals it can appear in different parts of the brain. In humans it can appear to be located in parts of the brain, but sometimes within neuro-muscular mechanisms, perhaps tied to the focused neurology.

As much as we are unable to find the origin of life, we are still unable to locate the engram, or to define the specific biological process by which it works. Such a breakthrough could help demonstrate the similarities and differences of memory between various species, including humans. We know that something sets we humans apart from the lower animals in that we can formulate a series of signs and symbols that we call language or complex abstract communication. If you point to something with a human child he/she will follow the line of the pointing to find the intended object. If you perform the same experiment with, say, a dog, it will usually look at the end of your finger.

It is true that creationism cannot escape its origins in a religious text: the Bible. It is not true that evolution is exclusively a science; it appears to have become a religion in its own right - at least for some. The outcome appears to be much like the case for anthropogenic climate change, mentioned here in the first scission. Science has formed a consensus, which many take to mean 'proven fact'. Proponents of evolution take the discipline as fact based on their faith that it cannot be disproved. Their justification appears to rest on the origins of the universe being the Big Bang Theory, a theory that claims to be science because it simply does not mention God.
Galapagos tour composite
This picture was composed from one company's webpage by this author
Evolutionists make pilgrimages to the Galapagos Islands22| just as Muslims make pilgrimages to Mecca and Christians make pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The difference is that there are no temples at the Galapagos Islands, just specimens.

Darwin also speculated on the origin of tektites, or Australites [1840]23|, and his ideas thereon prevailed until the beginning of the twentieth century. He identified it as obsidian - a volcanic by-product.

The Big Bang Theory makes no claims about from whence came the Big Bang at the 'beginning' of ?time. It rewrites the quote from Genesis, ‘And God said "Let there be light"’ into 'It just happened.' No true scientist has claimed that that settles the arguments. Yet secular courts have ruled that because creationism is based on the Bible it constitutes an 'establishment of religion', while evolution is 'science'. The Inquisition forced people to say, on threat of torture, that the world was flat.

Should not both theories contend in the court of ideas, proven science being forgotten for the nonce until something is proven to be exclusive to all else?

—————————————————————————————————
        [All web links acquired in Spring of 2014]
1| Thomas H. Huxley, Agnosticism: a rejoinder. In Collected Essays vol 5 Science and Christian
      tradition, Macmillan, London; 1889.
2| Francis Darwin, ed. The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter;
     Volume 1, Chapter VIII, pp. 304-313; London, John Murray; 1887.
2a| Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (3rd ed.), University of California Press; 2003.
3| Ibid.
4| Michael H. Hart, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History; New York: Citadel;
     2000. Besides Darwin, Mohammed made the cut. Also: "Special feature: Darwin 200". New Scientist
     [http://www.newscientist.com/special/darwin-200].
5| http://www.darwinfacts.com/
6| Daniel Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life; Simon & Schuster; 1995.
7| Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species (by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of
     Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life [full title]), Chapter 6: 'Difficulties on Theory'; John Murray; 1859.
8| Ibid, 'Introduction'
9| Ibid, Chapter 14, 'Recapitulation and Conclusion'
10| Francis Darwin, ed., The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter,
     Volume 2, p. 230; John Murray; London
11| Op. cit., Chapter 9: 'On the Imperfection of the Geological Record'
12| 'The mystery of the missing links', Mary Wakefield, Spectator Magazine, October 25, 2003
13| http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objections_to_evolution
14| Laurence Moran, "Evolution is a Fact and a Theory". The TalkOrigins Archive
    [http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html]; 1993.
15| Dr. David N. Menton, "Is Evolution a Theory, a Fact, or a Law?". Missouri Association for Creation;
    [http://www.bestbiblescience.org/theory.htm]; 1993.
16| Mark Isaak, "Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution". The TalkOrigins Archive
    [http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html]; 2003. Also: SJ Gould, Hen's Teeth and
    Horse's Toes; W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 253–262; 1994. Also: RE Lenski, "Evolution: Fact and
    Theory". ActionBioscience.org [http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/lenski.html]; 2000.
17| Douglas Theobald, "29+ Evidences for Macro-evolution: Scientific “Proof”, scientific evidence, and
    the scientific method". The TalkOrigins Archive [http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/sciproof.html];
    2004.
18| Discovery Institute; 1999; [http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.pdf]
19| Modern Biology Teacher's Edition, Holt, Rinehardt and Winston Publishers, USA, page 19; 1977.
20| Dr. William DeJong and Dr. Hans Degens, 'The Evolutionary Dynamics of Digital and Nucleotide
     Codes: A Mutation Protection Perspective', Open Evolution Journal, Vol. 4, pp. 1-4; February, 2011.
     The authority of the authors to make this claim is not completely clear. Dr. DeJong of INI-Research in
     the Netherlands has a degree in Applied Mathematics and Organization Science (1956); Dr. Hans
     Degens is on the faculty of the Institute for Biomedical Research, into Human Movement and Health,
     Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
21| http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engram_(neuropsychology)
22| http://www.galapagosislands.com/index2.htmlhttp://www.galapagosonline.com/packages/galapagos-tours.htm
23| Charles Darwin, Geological Observations on the volcanic Islands of and Parts of South America
     during the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, Republication 1891, Appleton & Co., New York.


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