SCISSION II - EVOLUTION
In the previous scission dealing with creation we
highlighted the controversy over anthropogenic
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
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.
Evidence as to
Man's Place in
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
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
Charles Darwin has been identified as one of the most influential men
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|.
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
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
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
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
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|.
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
[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.
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
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,
correction of mutational changes to the DNA, survival chances appear to
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.
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|.'
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
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.
This picture was
composed from one company's webpage by this author
Evolutionists make pilgrimages to the Galapagos Islands22|
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
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
1| Thomas H. Huxley, Agnosticism: a rejoinder. In Collected Essays vol 5 Science and
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;
4| Michael H. Hart, The 100: A
Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History; New York:
2000. Besides Darwin, Mohammed made the cut.
Also: "Special feature: Darwin 200". New Scientist
6| Daniel Dennett, Darwin's
Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life; Simon &
7| Charles Darwin, On The Origin of
Species (by Means of Natural
Selection, or the Preservation of
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
14| Laurence Moran, "Evolution is a Fact and a Theory". The TalkOrigins Archive
15| Dr. David N. Menton, "Is Evolution a Theory, a Fact, or a Law?". Missouri Association for Creation;
16| Mark Isaak, "Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution". The TalkOrigins Archive
2003. Also: SJ Gould, Hen's Teeth and
W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 253–262; 1994. Also: RE Lenski,
"Evolution: Fact and
Theory". ActionBioscience.org [http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/lenski.html];
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];
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,
23| Charles Darwin, Geological
Observations on the volcanic Islands of and Parts of South America
Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, Republication 1891, Appleton & Co.,