Darwinian evolution is the most widely held theory of biological change. Small changes in living organisms supposedly happen naturally and randomly and frequently. These small changes (if favorable to the organism) supposedly accumulate, and over time it is thought that these small changes result in larger changes, even to the point of transforming one species into another. This process of accumulating small "beneficial" changes and eliminating "non-beneficial" changes is called natural selection (as opposed to divine selection).
No doubt, biological organisms do change over time in response to environmental stimuli and these changes sometimes seemingly accumulate so that new groupings of animals appear. The Stickleback fish seem to have gone through such a change (there are now two varieties of these fish where there use to be only one), and the so-called Walking Stick insects apparently have recently developed a new variety. A strain of bacteria may develop a resistance to certain anti-biotic medicines. For some, these are convincing examples of "evolution."
For most scientists the term "evolution" means that these kinds of changes are inevitable and persistent, and they believe that these changes illustrate how all biological change occurs. Darwinism is the theory that all of these small, natural changes have been added up over time so that original single-cell life-forms eventually transformed into all the multi-cellular life-forms known on earth today. According to Darwin's theory, by the accumulation of small changes invertebrates became vertebrates, reptiles became birds, and the amoeba eventually changed into a man.
There are several problems with this theory, however.
First, the Darwinian theory of evolution does not explain how life began. In the laboratory, we can "spontaneously" generate large quantities of amino acids, the building blocks of life, but even our carefully designed efforts result in useless mixtures, not the uniform series of amino acids that are necessary for life. The stereo-chemistry is always wrong when we make these molecules by chance processes. Even if we could get all the chemicals right, we still would not have life. At the moment of death, the chemicals are all still there, but life is not. Life requires a certain level of chemical complexity, but that chemical complexity is not the same as nor does it explain life, it only permits life. Life does not spontaneously arise from non-life even if all the necessary chemicals are there.
Second, the fossil record does not show the gradual changes predicted by the Darwinian theory of evolution. Fossilized transitional forms simply do not appear in the fossil record, though, if Darwin were right, there should be millions of such forms.
Third, the organized complexity of even the simplest living cell is such that it cannot be built up by small accumulated changes. Life is not found in the parts but only in the whole, and even the simplest whole is made up of many complex parts that would not arise and/or combine in the necessary specified manner through random, non-living, natural processes.
Fourth, a genetic code is found within the DNA molecule of the cell. This DNA molecule is not merely chemistry. It is an encoded message that provides the blueprints for building all of the proteins necessary to make the living organism. Encoded information is evidence of intelligent design.
Fifth, there are numerous systems that are essential for life and yet are hard, if not impossible, to account for on Darwinian premises. The ozone layer is one of those systems. The ozone layer, high in the atmosphere, acts as a filter for deadly radiation, thus making life possible on the earth. Yet, ozone is a by-product of living things. Without ozone already being there, living things could not exist. Life must exist in order to form and replenish the ozone layer. Naturalistic theories have a difficult time explaining the origin of this relationship.
Sixth, the earth is an open system, but even the sun's energy is not alone sufficient to account for the necessary rise in complexity required by evolutionary theory. In reality, things tend to simplify and wear out. The rise in complexity proposed by evolutionary theories simply does not happen in nature unless there is a plan and a mechanism to capture and organize the available energy. Neither of these are inherent within nature.
Seventh, the Bible says that God made the heavens and the earth, and that He made all of the animals and established that they would reproduce after their kind. All of the evidence is consistent with this claim. Stickleback fish and Walking Sticks now have two varieties, and bacteria have become resistant to some drugs, but the fish are still fish, the insects are still insects, and the bacteria are still bacteria. There is simply no evidence that one kind of creature has ever naturally transformed itself into some other kind of creature. Darwin was simply wrong.
The Bible says the world is not the source of life. The living God created the life we know and have, and the same everlasting, all-powerful God sustains that life for His own purposes and for His own glory. The best and most consistent claim is the one God made Himself. He told us that He created all things and that He saw that everything He finished was good.
Atlanta's Education Balance
The Atlanta-area Cobb County school board adopted a policy for "balanced education" addressing "disputed views of academic subjects" last September, in an action that refused to buckle to pro-Darwinian scientists and the American Civil Liberties Union.
School board chairman Curt Johnson, in a prepared statement he read at the meeting, said, "...we are not willing to cater to any particular viewpoint where genuine doubt exists, be it scientific or religious. We expect our science instruction to be broad-based, factual, and respectful of all views."
The two-paragraph science curriculum policy adopted Sept. 26 states:
"It is the educational philosophy of the Cobb County School District to provide a broad-based curriculum; therefore, the Cobb County School District believes that discussion of disputed views of academic subjects is a necessary element of providing a balanced education, including the study of the origin of the species. This subject remains an area of intense interest, research, and discussion among scholars. As a result, the study of this subject shall be handled in accordance with this policy and with objectivity and good judgment on the part of teachers, taking into account the age and maturity level of their students.
"The purpose of this policy is to foster critical thinking among students, to allow academic freedom consistent with legal requirements, to promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity of opinion, and to ensure a posture of neutrality toward religion. It is the intent of the Cobb County Board of Education that this policy not be interpreted to restrict the teaching of evolution; to promote or require the teaching of creationism; or to discriminate for or against a particular set of religious beliefs, religion in general, or non-religion."
The board had come under pressure from the president of the National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Alberts, who had written to academy members in Georgia urging them to draft opinion pieces for local newspapers and send e-mails or letters to the Cobb County school board in opposition to the deliberations involving the science curriculum.
Alberts described the deliberations as an effort to introduce "intelligent design" into the curriculum.
Intelligent design, according to its proponents, many of whom hold Ph.D. degrees from leading universities across the country, utilizes science itself in reasoning that living matter is too complex to have resulted from random chance, thus some entity must have purposefully created it.
Alberts, however, described intelligent design as "a recent permutation of 'creation science.'"
Alberts' letter was subsequently countered by a group of twenty-eight scientists from the University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University and other institutions in the state who sent a letter to the school board appealing for academic freedom to teach scientific controversy over Darwinian evolution.
The Georgia scientists, joining 130-plus other scientists nationwide, signed a statement that originated last fall called, "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism." The statement urged "careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory" in the classroom, while also expressing skepticism toward the Darwinian claim that "random mutation and natural selection account for the complexity of life."
L. Russ Bush is Academic Vice President/Dean of the Faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.