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Five Major Evolutionist Misconceptions
about Evolution

(a rebuttal of Mark Isaak’s “Five Major Misconceptions” FAQ in the Talk.Origins Archive)
© 2005-2007 T. Wallace.  All Rights Reserved. 

Wallace responds to Wayne Duck’s “critique” of this article at this link.

A major reason why evolutionist arguments can sound so persuasive is because they often combine assertive dogma with intimidating, dismissive ridicule towards anyone who dares to disagree with them.  Evolutionists wrongly believe that their views are validated by persuasive presentations invoking scientific terminology and allusions to a presumed monopoly of scientific knowledge and understanding on their part.  But they haven’t come close to demonstrating evolutionism to be more than an ever-changing theory with a highly questionable and unscientific basis.  (The situation isn’t helped by poor science education generally.  Even advanced college biology students often understand little more than the dogma of evolutionary theory, and few have the time [or the guts] to question its scientific validity.)

The five propositions below are among the most troublesome to evolutionary theory.  Evolutionists have worked hard to counter them, but with no genuine success, because they are based on empirical scientific data and/or scientific laws.  In his “Five Major Misconceptions about Evolution” FAQ in the Talk.Origins Archive, Mark Isaak (ostensibly a spokesperson for evolutionary thought) says concerning these five arguments, “If you hear anyone making any of them, chances are excellent that they don’t know enough about the real theory of evolution to make informed opinions about it.”  He then attempts to refute each of them with a few brief and dismissive paragraphs:

Below are explanations of why each of these five statements is quite correct—and much more scientifically accurate than Mr. Isaak’s responses to the same.  For the objective reader, these explanations should help to put to rest the popular myth that the domination of evolutionary thought in modern thinking is based on scientific knowledge.  In reality, and in spite of the much-parroted claims of evolutionists, the facts of science (i.e., the empirical data and natural laws known to man), when examined without the prejudice of a naturalistic, mechanistic philosophy/belief system, do not support evolutionary theory.


“Evolution Has Never Been Observed”

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Isaak oversimplifies the whole notion of evolutionary change by telling us that, “Biologists define evolution as a change in the gene pool of a population over time.  One example is insects developing a resistance to pesticides over the period of a few years.  Even most Creationists recognize that evolution at this level is a fact.  What they don’t appreciate is that this rate of evolution is all that is required to produce the diversity of all living things from a common ancestor.”

Evolution or Variation?

Isaak here conveniently fails to mention whether by “change in a gene pool over time” he means exactly that (i.e., genetic variation, which is often called “micro-evolution”), or whether he means “macro-evolution”—which is something entirely different.  The postulation of “macro-evolution” (i.e., the emergence of entirely new and more “advanced” features through innumerable, completely new genetically-defined traits) is not to be confused with genetic variation (i.e., “micro-evolution”), which is the appearance and/or disappearance of existing and/or potential genetic traits through recombination of existing genetic code.  Proponents of evolutionism often fail to note the important difference between these two, simply calling them both “evolution,” and thereby deliberately blurring the distinction between them.

Genetic variation is a common phenomenon, perpetually manifesting itself as extant dominant and recessive genetic traits “appear” and “vanish” in successive generations within a population of organisms.  A population’s adaptation through genetic variation is as much a fact of biological life as are genes themselves.  Though some evolutionists like to call this phenomenon “micro-evolution,” the variations dictated by any gene pool are neither “new” traits, nor qualitative “changes” in the gene pool (as required for “macro-evolution”); their potential is already well-defined within the DNA of the population’s gene pool, and all possible changes (i.e., variations) within that population are limited specifically to those inherent traits.

Evolutionists have no basis for extrapolating the concept of genetic variation into Isaak’s claim that a particular “rate” of genetic variation “is all that is required to produce [(macro-)evolution] from a common ancestor.”  Isaak apparently wants us to join him in simplistically believing that because a population’s gene pool will display a variety of existing genetic content, therefore over time these organisms must somehow also “evolve” into new and different kinds of organisms by producing unequivocally new and meaningful genetic content.  This is wishful thinking, a leap of faith—not science, and the facts of genetic science simply don’t corroborate Isaak’s story.

As for Isaak’s “example” of insects and pesticide resistance, this author knows of no work in genetics that has conclusively shown such changes to be anything more than the natural adaptive variation (described above) arising from the existing genetic potential already present in the population’s existing pool.  Again, adaptive (and even non-adaptive) variations abound in the natural world, but they are not the genuine gene pool changes (i.e., additions of unequivocally new and meaningful genetic information) required by true evolutionary theory.

Dobzhansky’s Fruit Flies

Isaak continues:  “The origin of new species by evolution has also been observed, both in the laboratory and in the wild...” He then directs us to:
  1. the work of Theodosius Dobzhansky et al. (involving the deliberate, radiation-induced mutation of fruit flies in the laboratory), and
  2. the “Observed Instances of Speciation” FAQ in the talk.origins archives.

As for Dobzhansky’s fruit fly experiments, it should be pointed out that an example of a laboratory-induced physiological change in a specimen—even though it involves genetic change—can hardly be considered proof that NATURAL evolution occurs, since the change did not take place without the deliberate, intelligence-driven activity of man.

Furthermore, a genetic, mutational change alone, while it may qualify (in a broad sense) as evolution (“micro-evolution”), does not demonstrate evolution per se:  Evolution does not require mere change, but progressive change (i.e., from simple to complex, from one organism to another organism—an increase in both quantity and quality of genetic information).

In Dobzhansky’s work, numerous varieties resulted from radiation bombardment:  fruit flies with extra wings, fruit flies with no wings, fruit flies with huge wings, fruit flies with tiny wings...  In the end, however, they were all ... fruit flies!  Dobzhansky meddled with the genetic code of an organism and effected changes on the organism’s offspring.  Nearly all of the changes were detrimental to survival, and none of them resulted in an advantage over other fruit flies.

The “Observed Instances FAQ”

As for the “Observed Instances of Speciation” FAQ (the reading of which is encouraged by this writer), after one goes to the trouble of digesting all the preliminary verbiage, all the “speciation” examples given fall into one of two categories:
  1. “new” species that are “new” to man, but whose “newness” remains equivocal in light of observed genetic “variation” vs. genetic “change” (as discussed above), and/or because a species of unknown age is being observed by man for the first time.
  2. “new” species whose appearance was deliberately and artificially brought about by the efforts of intelligent human manipulation, and whose status as new “species” remain unequivocally consequential to laboratory experiments rather than natural processes.

In neither of the above examples cited by Isaak was the natural (i.e., unaided) generation of a new species accomplished or observed, in which an unequivocally “new” trait was obtained (i.e., new genetic information created) and carried forward within a population of organisms.  In other words, these are not examples of macro-evolutionary speciation—they are examples of human discovery and/or genetic manipulation and/or natural genetic recombination.  They serve to confirm the observable nature of genetic variation, while saying absolutely nothing in support of Darwinian “macro-evolution,” which postulates not just variations within a type of organism but the emergence of entirely new organisms.

Definitions of “species” and (therefore) “speciation” remain many and varied, and by most modern definitions, certain changes within organism populations do indeed qualify as “speciation events”—yet even after many decades of study, there remains no solid evidence that an increase in both quality and quantity of genetic information (as required for a macro-evolutionary speciation event) has happened or could happen.

Bold Claims vs. Empirical Science

Even so, Isaak insists that “it would be wrong to say that evolution hasn’t been observed.  Evidence isn’t limited to seeing something happen before your eyes.  Evolution makes predictions about what we would expect to see in the fossil record, comparative anatomy, genetic sequences, geographical distribution of species, etc., and these predictions have been verified many times over.  The number of observations supporting evolution is overwhelming.”

Isaak’s impressive confidence seems to be based in part on his inability to differentiate between “observing” an event and “interpreting evidence” to support a hypothesized event.  Even so, the empirical data largely fails to support his claims.  The fact is, evolution has NOT been observed, and its chief proponents don’t deny this.  Furthermore, contrary to Isaak’s assertion, evolution’s predictions regarding the fossil record, anatomy, genetics, and biogeography have NOT been verified with “overwhelming” support, contrary to Isaak’s bold claims, but are more often challenged by the facts, as we shall see.

And in fact, using Isaak’s own logic in fairness to the Creationists whom he wishes to discredit, one can just as easily (and much more accurately) state:  “It would be wrong to say that creation hasn’t been observed.  Evidence isn’t limited to seeing something happen before your eyes.  Creationism makes predictions about what we would expect to see in the fossil record, comparative anatomy, genetic sequences, geographical distribution of species, etc., and these predictions have been verified many times over.  The number of observations supporting Creationism is overwhelming.”

There is an abundance of material, published by evolutionists and non-evolutionists alike, affirming that Isaak’s claims regarding genetics and “observed” evolution are based more in dogmatic “interpretation” than in a scientific, objective approach to empirical data.  Two balanced, objective, scientific treatments of the subject by non-Creationists are:

- Denton, M. Evolution: A Theory In Crisis. Adler & Adler, Bethesda, MD. 1985. ISBN 0-917561-05-8

- Behe, M. J. Darwin’s Black Box. The Free Press, New York, NY. 1996. ISBN 0-684-82754-9


“The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution.  At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear No.”
[As reported by Roger Lewin (evolutionist), “Evolutionary theory under fire,” Science, vol. 210 (4472), 21 November 1980, p. 883]

Isaak next wants to dispel the “ignorance” upon which the claim is made that

“Evolution Violates the
2nd Law of Thermodynamics”

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Isaak begins this section with a typically dismissive declaration:  “This shows more a misconception about thermodynamics than about evolution.”  But we soon shall see who misunderstands both thermodynamics and evolution...

Defining the Law

Isaak’s definition of the second law of thermodynamics begins with:  “No process is possible in which the sole result is the transfer of energy from a cooler to a hotter body.”  He then tells us that “confusion arises” when the 2nd law is phrased as:  “The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease.”  Anyone familiar with the 2nd law will recognize that both statements are true, and that the second statement is commonly used of the two axioms in defining the 2nd law as it pertains to Classical Thermodynamics—yet for Isaak, it seems to cause some “confusion.”


To define our terms, in Classical Thermodynamics the term “entropy” is the measure of the amount of energy unavailable for work in a physical system.  Left to itself over time, any such system will end with less available energy (i.e., a higher measure of, or increase in, entropy) than when it started, according to the 2nd law.  In this classic form, the 2nd law applies specifically to probability of distribution with regard to heat and energy relationships of physical systems, and as such, the entropy involved may be described specifically as thermal entropy.

Similarly, the “generalized 2nd law” applies the same entropy principle to information systems in such a way that, left to itself over time, the information conveyed by an information-communicating system will end more distorted and less complete than when it began (again, a higher measure of, or increase in, entropy—in this case informational entropy), and likewise, applied to Statistics, left to itself over time, the order or regularity of a system will be less than when it began (and again, a higher measure of, or increase in, entropy—in this case statistical entropy).

The vital point to be grasped here is that the presence of a system (whether organizational or mechanical) hardly guarantees continuous enhancement, but more realistically is subject to continual degradation, if it is not kept to the pre-determined standard defined in its original design.  Evolutionistic thinking often ignores this principle, despite the fact that it is a profoundly and empirically established scientific fact.

Isaak tells us that creationists “misinterpret the 2nd law to say that things invariably progress from order to disorder.”  I know of no creationist who has published this “misinterpretation,” and Isaak neglects to document the “creationists” to whom he would credit this quotation.  However, it is commonly understood by not only by creationists, but by all scientists familiar with thermodynamics, that systems or processes left to themselves invariably tend to move from order to disorder.  Consider what Isaac Asimov (a highly respected evolutionist, and ardent anti-creationist) has to say:

“Another way of stating the second law then is:  ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’ Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us.  We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily.  Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty.  How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order:  how easy to let them deteriorate.  In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself—and that is what the second law is all about.”
[Isaac Asimov, Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p. 6]

Thus we observe a virulent anti-creationist stating essentially what Isaak claims is a “creationist misinterpretation” of the 2nd law.  Lest there be any doubts, a typical college-level chemistry text book (which doesn’t concern itself with matters of origins and therefore may be considered reasonably neutral on the subject) says:

“Scientists use the term entropy to describe the amount of randomness in a system.  The larger the entropy of a system, the less order or more randomness the system has.  We could say that the direction of change in diffusion or evaporation is toward a state of higher entropy.”
[D. Callewaert & J. Genya, Basic Chemistry, New York, Worth Publishers, 1980, p. 157]

It should be clear that the 2nd law of thermodynamics does indeed require that a natural process or system, left to itself, increases in entropy, or randomness, and therefore decreases in order, and—as Asimov put it—“deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself.”  Please don’t let the fact escape your notice that Asimov applies this law to “the universe” which pretty much assures us that its application is ... universal (applying to all processes and systems).

Open vs. Closed Systems

Next, Isaak arrives at the heart of his argument, invoking what has really become a classic—and very misleading—evolutionist tactic:  He tells us that the creationists’ error is that “they neglect the fact that life is not a closed system.”

The basis of his claim is the fact that while the 2nd law is inviolate in an isolated system (i.e., a system in which neither energy nor matter enter nor leave the system—often erroneously called “closed” system), an apparent “violation” of the law can exist in an open system (i.e., a system to which new energy or matter may be added).  Isaak tells us “life [is] irrelevant to the 2nd law,” and so is evidently convinced that every living system is an exception to the 2nd law.

Now, the entire universe is generally considered by evolutionists to be a “closed” (isolated) system, so the 2nd law dictates that within the universe, entropy is increasing.  In other words, things are tending to breaking down, becoming less organized, less complex, more random on a universal scale.  This trend (as described by Asimov above) is a scientifically observed phenomenon—i.e., fact, not theory.

However, here on earth, the popular evolutionary line of reasoning goes, we have an “exception,” because we live in an open system:  “The sun provides more than enough energy to drive things,” Isaak says.  And indeed, solar energy is added to the open sub-system of the earth continuously.  But simply adding raw energy to a system doesn’t automatically cause reduced entropy (i.e., increased organized complexity, build-up rather than break-down).  If this were true, no scientist would object to the elimination of the ozone, since more raw solar energy would only mean a welcome increase in organized complexity (a hastening of the alleged evolutionary process, as it were) in the world as we know it.

No, we know that raw solar energy alone does not decrease entropy.  In fact, by itself, it increases entropy, speeding up the natural processes that cause break-down, disorder, and disorganization on earth (consider, for example, your car’s paint job, a wooden fence, or a decomposing animal carcass, first with and then without the addition of solar radiation).

Speaking of the applicability of 2nd law to both “closed” (isolated) and open systems in general, Harvard scientist Dr. John Ross (not a creationist) affirms:

“...there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics.  Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems ... there is somehow associated with the field of far-from equilibrium phenomena the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems.  It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.” [Dr. John Ross, Harvard scientist (evolutionist), Chemical and Engineering News, vol. 58, July 7, 1980, p. 40]

So, if the 2nd law is universal (as any scientifically defined “law” must be, and as Ross here confirms), what is it that makes life possible within the earth’s biosphere, appearing to “violate” (or in Isaak’s words, be “irrelevant to”) the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

Raw Energy is Not Enough

The fact is, contrary to the simplistic claim often parroted by evolutionists like Isaak, any increase in organized complexity (i.e., decrease in entropy) invariably requires two additional factors besides an open system and an available energy supply.  These are:
  1. a “program” (information) to direct the growth in organized complexity
  2. a mechanism for storing and converting the incoming energy.

The earth’s living systems have both of these essential elements.  Each living organism’s DNA contains all the code (the “program” or “information”) needed to direct the process of building (or “organizing”) the organism up from seed or cell to a fully functional, mature specimen, complete with all the necessary instructions for maintaining and repairing each of its complex, organized, and integrated component systems.  This process continues throughout the life of the organism, essentially building-up and maintaining the organism’s physical structure faster than natural processes (as governed by the 2nd law) can break it down.

Living systems also have the second essential component—their own built-in mechanisms for effectively converting and storing the incoming energy.  Plants use photosynthesis to convert the sun’s energy into usable, storable forms (e.g., proteins), while animals use metabolism to further convert and use the stored, usable, energy from the organisms which compose their diets.

So we can see that living things do not in fact “violate” the 2nd law, nor are they excepted from or “irrelevant to” the 2nd law, but they actually have built-in programs (information) and energy conversion mechanisms that allow them to build up and maintain their physical structures in spite of the 2nd law’s effects (which ultimately do prevail, as each organism eventually deteriorates and dies).  Every living organism itself is a highly complex and organized creation, able to live within the earth’s “open system” biosphere (the only place in the universe known to man that supports life), by means of a unique, inherent program (information, DNA), plus an inherent energy conversion & storage mechanism (photosynthesis, metabolism).

Order vs. Organized Complexity

Isaak argues that Creationists try to “get around” something by claiming that “the information carried by living things lets them create order...but order from disorder is common in nonliving systems, too.  Snowflakes, sand dunes, tornadoes, stalactites, graded river beds, and lightning are just a few examples of order coming from disorder in nature; none require an intelligent program to achieve that order.”

What Isaak says here reveals some confusion on his part, between simple “order” and “organized complexity.” All living things (down to even a single-celled organism) are highly complex and organized—each component in its proper place and functioning according to its instructions to keep the organism going.  They don’t just “happen” in nature—the notion of spontaneous generation was long ago and often disproven [Redi (1688), Spallanzani (1780), Pasteur (1860), and Virchow (1858)], establishing the Law of Biogenesis, which remains confirmed in that man has never observed life coming from anything but life itself, which is not observed to exist at all without all of the above described factors in place in some form.

On the other hand, simple “order” such as that found in a snowflake or a crystal, for example, is exceedingly trivial, when compared to the increase in information, organization or complexity that would be required for either spontaneous generation (the beginning of biological evolution), or any form of progressive macro-evolution itself.  The formation of molecules or atoms into geometric patterns such as snowflakes or crystals reflects movement towards equilibrium—a lower energy level, and a more stable arrangement of the molecules or atoms into simple, uniform, repeating structural patterns with minimal complexity, and no function.  Living things, on the other hand, do not arrive at and maintain their high levels of order, organization, and complexity in order to achieve thermodynamic equilibrium, but are in fact maintaining far from equilibrium conditions in order to arrive at and maintain those levels.

Thus, crystals are not examples of matter forming itself into more organized or more complex structures or systems even remotely parallel to those inherent in living organisms, even though they may certainly reflect “order” in the form of patterns (the very structure of which is both enabled and limited by the molecules which comprise them), and they certainly cannot serve realistically as “proof” that life can therefore create itself.

To so erroneously equate mere passive “order” of molecules as they enter a state of energy equilibrium (e.g., the formation of crystals) with a spontaneous, self-induced increase in “organized complexity” (as demanded by evolutionary theory for both the beginning and development of life—and as prohibited by the 2nd law), is to truly misunderstand the 2nd law AND evolution.  This seems to be exactly what Isaak has done.

Jeffrey Wicken (an evolutionist) does recognize the difference, however, having described it this way:

“‘Organized’ systems are to be carefully distinguished from ‘ordered’ systems.  Neither kind of system is ‘random,’ but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an external ‘wiring diagram’ with a high information content ... Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information.  It is non-random by design or by selection, rather than by the a priori necessity of crystallographic ‘order.’” [Jeffrey S. Wicken, The Generation of Complexity in Evolution:  A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 77 (April 1979), p. 349]
Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine also has no problem defining the difference, even acknowledging the extreme unlikelihood that the requisite complexity for life could arise from non-life:
“The point is that in a non-isolated [open] system there exists a possibility for formation of ordered, low-entropy structures at sufficiently low temperatures.  This ordering principle is responsible for the appearance of ordered structures such as crystals as well as for the phenomena of phase transitions.  Unfortunately this principle cannot explain the formation of biological structures.  The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small.” [I. Prigogine, G. Nicolas and A. Babloyants, Physics Today 25(11):23 (1972)]
Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen make the same clear distinction:
“As ice forms, energy (80 calories/gm) is liberated to the surroundings...  The entropy change is negative because the thermal configuration entropy (or disorder) of water is greater than that of ice, which is a highly ordered crystal...  It has often been argued by analogy to water crystallizing to ice that simple monomers may polymerize into complex molecules such as protein and DNA.  The analogy is clearly inappropriate, however...  The atomic bonding forces draw water molecules into an orderly crystalline array when the thermal agitation (or entropy driving force) is made sufficiently small by lowering the temperature.  Organic monomers such as amino acids resist combining at all at any temperature, however, much less in some orderly arrangement.” [C.B. Thaxton, W.L. Bradley, and R.L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library, New York, 1984, pp. 119-120.]

Isaak asks, “If order from disorder is supposed to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, why is it ubiquitous in nature?” By now it should be clear to any objective reader that Isaak’s logic is faulty:

  1. his assumption that “order from disorder” is “ubiquitous in nature” is an error
  2. life’s “order” (better described as “organized complexity”) is possible only because of life’s inherent information and energy conversion mechanisms
  3. the “order” found in non-living natural structures is not simply due to an unaided decrease in entropy, but to a decrease in molecular or atomic energy level, due to external factors (usually temperature and the existing molecular structure of the elements involved).

The Missing Mechanism

Besides repeating his “misconception” claim, Isaak now goes on to say that “Evolution says that organisms reproduce with only small changes between generations ...  Occasionally, a change might be on the order of having four or six fingers instead of five ... the theory of evolution calls for differential reproductive success ... maybe the animals with longer appendages survive to have more offspring than short-appendaged ones.  All of these processes can be observed today.  They obviously don’t violate any physical laws.”

In the first place, not all evolutionists continue to subscribe to the “small changes between generations” theories (e.g., Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism).  There is a substantial number who now advocate the “punctuated equilibria,” “quantum speciation,” or “hopeful monster” scenarios, in which major morphological changes are believed to take place in rare, infrequent, and highly isolated events, separated by long periods of little or no change.

Secondly, such changes as Isaak’s example of “four or six fingers instead of five” are due to genetic errors (mutations), and contrary to Isaak’s claim, differential reproductive success serves better to weed-out these errors, rather than perpetuate them, which is good, because they are almost invariably harmful, or at the very least neutral, in effect.

As Ross correctly observed, “there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics.” Yet evolutionary theory demands precisely such violations every step of the way, as the expansion of the “big bang” acquires information, organization, and complexity, forming itself into galaxies, stars, planets, then highly complex amino acids, proteins, DNA—essentially generating greater and greater organization, complexity, and information all by itself, and all in complete contradiction of the best established natural law known to science.

While many evolutionists deny this problem, often dismissing it in the same fashion as Isaak has done (as a mere “creationist misunderstanding”), the fact is that there are evolutionist scientists who at least recognize the problem, and even attempt to deal with it.  Consider (again) the words of Ilya Prigogine et al. (the Belgian scientist who won the Nobel Prize in physics for his work in thermodynamics):

“...The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small.”

Charles J. Smith recognized the challenge posed by the 2nd law of thermodynamics to the most significant unanswered “how and why” of evolutionary theory:

“The thermodynamicist immediately clarifies the latter question by pointing out that the Second Law classically refers to isolated systems which exchange neither energy nor matter with the environment; biological systems are open, and exchange both energy and matter.  The explanation, however, is not completely satisfying, because it still leaves open the problem of how or why the ordering process has arisen (an apparent lowering of the entropy), and a number of scientists have wrestled with this issue.  Bertalanffy (1968) called the relation between irreversible thermodynamics and information theory one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology.” [C. J. Smith (evolutionist), Biosystems 1:259 (1975)]

George Gaylord Simpson and W.S. Beck (both solid and respected evolutionists) also understood the problem, saying:

“We have repeatedly emphasized the fundamental problems posed for the biologist by the fact of life’s complex organization.  We have seen that organization requires work for its maintenance and that the universal quest for food is in part to provide the energy needed for this work.  But the simple expenditure of energy is not sufficient to develop and maintain order.  A bull in a china shop performs work but he neither creates nor maintains organization.  The work needed is particular work; it must follow specifications; it requires information on how to proceed.” [G.G. Simpson and W.S. Beck (evolutionists), Life: An Introduction to Biology, Harcourt, Brace, and World, New York, 1965, p. 465]

Angrist and Hepler reiterate the unlikely nature of life’s beginning according to evolutionary assumptions, stating:

“Life, the temporary reversal of a universal trend toward maximum disorder, was brought about by the production of information mechanisms.  In order for such mechanisms to first arise it was necessary to have matter capable of forming itself into a self-reproducing structure that could extract energy from the environment for its first self-assembly.  Directions for the reproduction of plans, for the extraction of energy and chemicals from the environment, for the growth of sequence and the mechanism for translating instructions into growth all had to be simultaneously present at that moment.  This combination of events has seemed an incredibly unlikely happenstance and often divine intervention is prescribed as the only way it could have come about.” [S.W. Angrist and L.G. Hepler (evolutionists), Order and Chaos, Basic Books, New York, 1967, pp. 203-204]

Blum also sees the proposed scenario as more of a problem than a credible explanation:

“Since the reproduction of proteins could not have gone on without a means of energy mobilization, it might almost be necessary to assume that these two processes had their origin at the same time ... the problem of energy supply for the first organism seems fundamental ...  There would seem to be no way of replenishing the supply of such compounds except by capturing energy of sunlight by means of some photosynthetic process ... we must admit that photosynthesis of some kind ... arose very early in the course of organic evolution, if indeed it was not involved from the beginning.” [H.F. Blum (evolutionist), Time’s Arrow and Evolution, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 3rd Ed., 1968, pp. 160, 165 &166]

And Patterson also concedes that this issue poses a challenging question:

“Closely related to the apparent ‘paradox’ of ongoing uphill processes in nonliving systems is the apparent ‘paradox’ of spontaneous self-organization in nature.  It is one thing for an internally organized, open system to foster uphill processes by tapping downhill ones, but how did the required internal organization come about in the first place?  Indeed the so-called dissipative structures that produce uphill processes are highly organized (low entropy) molecular ensembles, especially when compared to the dispersed arrays from which they assembled.  Hence, the question of how they could originate by natural processes has proved a challenging one.” [J.W. Patterson (evolutionist), Scientists Confront Creationism, L.R. Godfrey, Ed., W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1983, p. 110]

The above statements—all by respected leaders in evolutionary thought—more than adequately document the fact that natural law stands in the way of a truly scientific explanation for any evolutionary process.  While the 2nd law of thermodynamics in its classical application may “permit” the necessary isolated reductions in thermal entropy required for—and theorized in—evolution, the generalized second law effectively prohibits the existence of a scientifically observable biological mechanism(s) required for beginning and/or perpetuating the necessary—and sustained— reductions in both informational entropy and statistical entropy.  The above (evolutionist) authors seem able and willing to recognize this problem, Isaak’s failure to do so notwithstanding.

Here, the best offered to us by the leading evolutionary thinkers and scientists (at least the ones who acknowledge the problem) is:  “The probability...is vanishingly small; the explanation...is not...satisfying, because it still leaves open ... one of the most fundamental unsolved problems in biology; the fundamental problems posed for the biologist by the fact of life’s complex organization... the work needed is particular work; it must follow specifications; it requires information on how to proceed; this combination of events has seemed an incredibly unlikely happenstance and often divine intervention is prescribed as the only way it could have come about; the problem of energy supply for the first organism seems fundamental ...we must admit that photosynthesis of some kind ... arose very early in the course of organic evolution, if indeed it was not involved from the beginning; ...how did the required internal organization come about in the first place?  ...the question of how they could originate by natural processes has proved a challenging one...”

Denial is Neither Scientific Nor Honest

The bottom line here is that evolutionary theory does indeed violate the principle of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  Neither Isaak nor any evolutionist authority has succeeded in proving the theory a practical possibility (let alone a reality), and only a few are objective (and/or honest) enough to acknowledge the problem, which is so confounding that no one seems to have even come up with a credible subsidiary theory to deal with it, or it surely would have been well documented by now!

Using natural processes alone, there’s just no explaining how the complex, information-intense organization of even single-celled life and its uniquely inherent and complex processes could have emerged from non-life in the first place, and then could continue to fly in the face of natural law with untold increases in information, complexity and organization to yield all the flora and fauna varieties known to have existed.

Rather than face the challenge, Isaak has invoked the popular evolutionist claim that evolution is “irrelevant to” the 2nd law on the grounds of an imaginary “open system clause.” The leading authorities in evolutionary theory aren’t so simplistic in their treatment of the problem.  Clearly, the “misunderstanding” of thermodynamics (and evolutionary theory itself) lies with Isaak, not with creationists, who rightly point out this serious challenge posed by nature to the evolutionary faith.

“There are No Transitional Fossils”

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Isaak begins this section by offering us this definition:  “A transitional fossil is one that looks like it’s from an organism intermediate between two lineages, meaning it has some characteristics of lineage A, some characteristics of lineage B, and probably some characteristics part way between the two.  Transitional fossils can occur between groups of any taxonomic level, such as between species, between orders, etc.  Ideally, the transitional fossil should be found stratigraphically between the first occurrence of the ancestral lineage and the first occurrence of the descendent lineage...”

Solid Ground or Shifting Sands?

It’s important that the reader understand up front that—in spite of such a clearly defined definition—there is much disagreement among the leaders in paleontology concerning which specimens qualify as “transitional” and which supposed “transitional forms” fit into which lineages, and where.

What one authority defines as a “transitional form” between lineage A and lineage B can be (and often is) just as authoritatively declared not so when it is said to better fit between lineage X and lineage Y, or when a specimen is found in a position stratigraphically “older” than the first occurrence of lineage A or “younger” than B—and all of these are common occurrences.

Other experts in morphology further complicate matters when they point out differences in physical characteristics so significant that evolutionists are forced to scrap one or another theory in phylogeny (developmental history) in spite of any existing similarities.

A very serious indictment of evolutionary “spokespersons” (such as Isaak) thus arises, as under the guise of a “united front” they declare the matter of transitional fossils to be no problem, while in reality the hands-on practitioners of science continue to disagree with one another on matters both great and small as they attempt to construct the very same phylogenies which the “spokespersons” describe as firmly established and beyond dispute.

As if that were not enough, while evolutionary literature may be replete with “just so” stories about how so many organisms evolved into their supposed descendants, there remains a conspicuous lack of credible accounting for empirically viable changes beyond that of bones and teeth.

Substantial differences exist between such systems as breathing, vision, circulation, locomotion, etc., both in general configuration and in the critical details.  Faced with the absence of empirical evidence for transitions in these systems, few evolutionists bother to speculate on how these systems could have successfully “transitioned” from one to the other, or how an intermediate version could possibly provide the needed functionality for either the “original” or the “descendant” system during the alleged transition.

What do the Experts Say?

In the first place, objective paleontologists concede that one’s interpretation of the fossil record will invariably be influenced by one’s presuppositions (in the case of the evolutionists, the presumption that evolution has taken place), and that everything must therefore be forced to somehow fit into that framework.  This has been precisely the observation of Ronald West:

“Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution because it is this theory (there are several) which we use to interpret the fossil record.  By doing so, we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory.” [Ronald R. West (evolutionist), “Paleontology and Uniformitariansim.” Compass, Vol. 45 (May 1968), p. 216.]

Steven Stanley, highly-respected authority from Johns Hopkins, has this to say on the lack of a transitional fossil record—where it matters most, between genera and higher taxa (in other words, immediately above the [often arbitrarily and subjectively defined] species level and upwards):

“Established species are evolving so slowly that major transitions between genera and higher taxa must be occurring within small rapidly evolving populations that leave NO LEGIBLE FOSSIL RECORD.” [Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution and the Fossil Record, Vol. 36, No. 3, 1986, p. 460. (emphasis added)]

If that weren’t enough to raise some doubts, Stanley, an affirmed evolutionist, is also objective enough to point out:

“The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and hence offers no evidence that a gradualistic model can be valid.” [Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process. San Francisco: W. M. Freeman & Co., 1979, p. 39.]

George Gaylord Simpson, another leading evolutionist, sees this characteristic in practically the whole range of taxonomic categories:

"...Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.” [George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.]

David Kitts acknowledges the problem and reiterates the subjectivity with which the fossil record is viewed:

“Few paleontologists have, I think, ever supposed that fossils, by themselves, provide grounds for the conclusion that evolution has occurred.  The fossil record doesn’t even provide any evidence in support of Darwinian theory except in the weak sense that the fossil record is compatible with it, just as it is compatible with other evolutionary theories, and revolutionary theories, and special creationist theories, and even ahistorical theories.” [David B. Kitts (evolutionist), "Search for the Holy Transformation," Paleobiology, Vol. 5 (Summer 1979), pp. 353-354.]

E. R. Leach offers no help, observing only that:

“Missing links in the sequence of fossil evidence were a worry to Darwin.  He felt sure they would eventually turn up, but they are still missing and seem likely to remain so.” [E.R. Leach (evolutionist); Nature 293:19, 1981]

Among the most well-known proponents of evolution (and a fierce opponent of Creationism), even Steven Jay Gould admits:

“At the higher level of evolutionary transition between basic morphological designs, gradualism has always been in trouble, though it remains the “official” position of most Western evolutionists.  Smooth intermediates between Baupläne are almost impossible to construct, even in thought experiments; there is certainly no evidence for them in the fossil record (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do not count).” [S.J. Gould & Niles Eldredge (evolutionists); Paleobiology 3:147, 1977]

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms is the trade secret of paleontology ...  The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis.  Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth.  They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance.  In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’” [S.J. Gould (evolutionist); Natural History 86:14 (1977)]

[It seems a bit ironic that Isaak also quotes Gould alluding in 1994 to “several” superb examples of intermediary forms and sequences—“more than enough” (according to Gould) to convince any fair-minded skeptic.  Are we to understand that it was during the 17 years between 1977 and 1994 these “superb examples” were discovered (and if so, one wonders exactly which ones they were)?  Or sometime during that period did Gould simply change his mind, deciding to dispute the findings of West, Stanley, Kitts, Leach and others (including himself!)?  The only remaining explanation—not unheard of among evolutionists—would be a mild case of schizophrenic thinking.]

In spite of the agreement among many prominent evolutionist leaders that the fossil record does little to provide evidence of evolutionary transition, the likes of Mark Isaak somehow feel justified in declaring that, “Paleontology has progressed a bit since Origin of Species was published, uncovering thousands of transitional fossils ... there are still many instances where excellent sequences of transitional fossils exist.”

What a complete contradiction to both the above leading evolutionists’ own words, and the actual fossil record itself!  If Isaak’s claims were true, why would the leading authorities of evolutionary thought so plainly disagree with this “spokesperson”?

Isaak even goes so far as to claim that, “notable examples are the transitions from reptile to mammal, from land animal to early whale, and from early ape to human.” Yet these same alleged “transitional sequences” remain no less equivocal and transitory (i.e., subject to continual dispute and re-evaluation among the “experts”) than any other.  Isaak declares them “notable examples,” apparently based on his personal confidence more than on any tangible, empirical data.

One well-documented treatment of this subject (replacing evolutionary dogma with objective, critical evaluation) may be found in Dr. Duane Gish’s recently updated book:

- Gish, D. Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No. Institute for Creation Research, El Cajon, CA. 1995. ISBN 0-89051-112-8

Isaak, on the other hand, directs us to the transitional fossils FAQ in the talk.origins archive for “proof” of transitional fossils.  A careful perusal of this source is well worthwhile, as it exemplifies the methods used by evolutionary “spokespersons” to defend their beliefs by blurring the line between dogma and science, touting so much theoretical speculation as if it were unequivocal, empirical data, so as to convince any willing disciple that they can’t possibly be wrong.

The “Transitional Fossil” FAQ

The above-mentioned FAQ, written by Kathleen Hunt, is in fact titled “Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ” (and does not even attempt to address the less conveniently “explained” absence of transitional specimens among invertebrates, or between invertebrates and vertebrates).  It is comprised of hundreds of references to various species and genera, citing various organisms as related and/or ancestral, based on the work of several evolutionist paleontological authorities.

To the willing disciple of evolutionary doctrine, Hunt’s publication may seem overwhelmingly persuasive and encouraging.  But an objective, critical look at the contents reveals that Hunt really does little more than perpetuate the myth of fossil transitions plainly denied by the evolutionist authorities quoted above.  She seeks to accomplish this with a combination of many assertively-made statements and (wherever possible) references to specific physiological similarities between certain species or genera, as suggested over the years by various phylogenic theorists.

What is missing from Hunt’s document is any honest acknowledgment that among the phylogenies she describes, few—if any—are universally accepted among paleontological authorities, and many remain tentative and subject to change, if not hotly disputed among authorities with differing viewpoints.

The reader is encouraged to remember that, given the abundant variety of vertebrate organisms in both the present and the fossil worlds, coercing a selection of them into a passable phylogenic arrangement to suit evolutionary preconceptions is no difficult task.  Given enough time and material, and a willingness to “overlook” any “unsuitable” facts, the desired scenario could easily be constructed, using similarities wherever they help, and ignoring them wherever they don’t.

Whale “Evolution”

One of many examples of the incomplete picture given in Hunt’s FAQ may be found in her treatment of whales.  Besides presenting a phylogeny that (much like elsewhere in the FAQ) seems to rely largely on dental records at the expense (in the absence?) of the balance of physiological evidence, she makes mention of Pakicetus, which she describes as “the oldest fossil whale known ... nostrils still at front of head (no blowhole) ... found with terrestrial fossils and may have been amphibious...” What Hunt fails to include in her description of “the oldest fossil whale” is the fact that the fossil material from which Pakicetus was conjured up consisted of nothing more than:
  1. the back of a mammal skull
  2. two jaw fragments
  3. some teeth

[Readers may see the image linked here for an illustration of just how much “whale evolution” is contrived from how little substance.]

As Hunt notes, these fossils were found amidst an array of land mammal fossils in 1983.  There is no significant evidence to lead one to assume these remains belonged to an “old whale” any more than to an “old land mammal.” Yet the discoverers (P.D. Gingerich et al.) chose to “interpret” their findings as a whale, and evolutionary proponents (such as Hunt) have happily parroted their claim ever since.

[Let the reader be reminded at this point that one alleged evolutionary ancestor of man (Piltdown Man) was exposed as a deliberate hoax; that another (Nebraska Man) might as well have been a hoax, a whole hominid “species” having been contrived entirely from a single tooth, which turned out to belong to a pig; and that among other now seriously questioned human “ancestors” is Ramapithecus (since reclassified as Sivapithecus), based on a few teeth and jaw fragments that turned out to so closely resemble those of a modern day orangutan that Richard Leakey’s associate and co-author Alan Walker has cautiously alluded to the orangutan as a potential “living fossil”.  The history of paleontology abounds with the rise and fall of various fabrications and complete reversals, demonstrating the need for extreme caution in accepting any claims based on what is often scant and equivocal evidence.]

Similarly, Hunt presents us with Ambulocetus natans (=“walking-whale swimming”), supposedly a “transitional” organism between land mammals and whales.  Now, Pakicetus (the “oldest whale”) is said to be 52 million years old, and yet Ambulocetus natans (featuring powerful limbs, hooves, a long tail, and land mammal breathing & hearing configurations) was found in fossil beds nearly 400 feet higher in elevation than Pakicetus and has been declared to be about the same age.  Curiously, Hunt doesn’t mention that this creature, weighing an estimated 650 lbs., in addition to possessing the above-mentioned land mammal physiology, also features teeth remarkably like mesonychid ungulates, considered to be large wolf-like carnivorous land mammals, adding further to its questionability as an ancestor of modern whales.

In any case, it is noteworthy (and conspicuously absent from Hunt’s document) that these Archeoceti (or presumed “primitive whales”) are not universally accepted as such.  G. A. Mchedlidze, a Russian expert on whales has expressed serious doubts as to whether the likes of Pakicetus, Ambulocetus natans, and others—even if accepted as aquatic mammals—can properly be considered ancestors of modern whales.  He sees them instead as a completely isolated group.  [G. A. Mchedlidze, General Features of the Paleobiological Evolution of Cetacea, trans. from Russian (Rotterdam: A.A. Balkema, 1986, p. 91]

In 1988 R. L. Carroll, a leading paleontological authority among evolutionists, published the presumption that whales evolved from a land mammal like the mesonychids.  Since then, it seems there has been a rush to attribute whale ancestry to anything resembling these wolf-like creatures, creating aquatic behavioral scenarios to help the imagination along—thus “filling” one of many troublesome gaps in the fossil record.

The so-called record of “transitional fossils” (as portrayed by Kathleen Hunt and elsewhere) is replete with just such unsubstantiated, equivocal “evidence” as exemplified in Hunt’s treatment of whale phylogeny.  It is by no means a convincing body of “scientific data” in which an objective student could hope to find solid evidence of transitional evolution.  More accurately, it is testimony to what is possible as a the result of forcing the data through an imaginative and speculative matching process, based mainly on hypothetical presuppositions.

The Old Archaeopteryx Trick

Having asserted that transitional fossils abound, Isaak proceeds to cite Archaeopteryx (a unique and hotly debated specimen) as an example, declaring that it “is clearly a mix of bird and reptile features (with more reptile than bird features, in fact).”

Yet concerning Archaeopteryx, at least a few leading authorities on the subject seem to disagree with Isaak:

“... Archaeopteryxwas, in a modern sense, a BIRD.”
[Allan Feduccia (evolutionist), Science 259:790-793 (1993) (emphasis added)]

Furthermore, the published work of Larry D. Martin et al., A. D. Walker, J. M. V. Rayner, S. L. Olson, K. N. Whetstone and others (all evolutionists) indicate precisely the opposite of Isaak’s assertion—that is, Archaeopteryx has far more bird-like characteristics than reptile-like characteristics.

It should also be mentioned here (especially since it was “overlooked” by both Isaak and Hunt) that full-fledged crow-sized bird fossils have been found in strata believed by evolutionists to be 75 million years older than Archaeopteryx (and as old as the oldest fossil dinosaur), making the “transitional” nature of Archaeopteryx (between dinosaurs and birds) less defensible than ever before.  [Tim Beardsley (evolutionist), Nature 322:677 (1986); Richard Monastersky (evolutionist), Science News 140:104-105 (1991); Alan Anderson, Science 253:35 (1991)]

And let’s not forget that Gould himself, while remaining a staunch believer in evolution, said:

“Smooth intermediates between Baupläne are almost impossible to construct, even in thought experiments; there is certainly no evidence for them in the fossil record (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do not count).” [S.J. Gould & Niles Eldredge (evolutionists); Paleobiology 3:147, 1977]

The question is inescapable:  If Isaak’s claim is correct (that transitional specimens abound), why would he refer us to the case of Archaeopteryx, in which he is obviously at odds not only with the conclusions of the evolutionist experts, but also with the latest paleontological data?

Surely if it existed, evolutionist spokespersons such as Isaak and Hunt would present more unequivocal proof from the fossil record.  We are repeatedly told of overwhelming and conclusive evidence for evolution, yet the hands-on paleontologists and the data they have accumulated tell a very different—and more objective—story.

“The Theory of Evolution Says That Life Originated, and Evolution Proceeds,
by Random Chance”

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“There is probably no other statement which is a better indication that the arguer doesn’t understand evolution,” Isaak tells us. “Chance certainly plays a large part in evolution, but this argument completely ignores the fundamental role of natural selection, and selection is the very opposite of chance.”

Here we find a classic game of semantics and subjective re-definition of terms.  On the one hand, Mark Isaak concedes that “chance plays a large part,” yet natural selection (now portrayed as if an inherently, non-accidental, designed, deliberate, goal-oriented process) plays a “fundamental role,” these two “opposites” somehow combining to make it all work out, precisely according to theory.  (Next question, please!)

Science History Speaks

It is noteworthy that the concept of natural selection was first suggested in the published observations of creationist scientist Edward Blyth in 1835 (24 years before the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species).  Blyth’s work is not likely to have been unknown to Darwin, who appears to have “borrowed” the concept from Blyth, ever since which time natural selection has been erroneously attributed to Darwin and cited as evidence of evolution.

Charles Darwin’s contribution amounted to advancing the imaginative (and still highly popular) notion that an abundance of time was the only missing ingredient for a plausible theory of evolution.  Modern science has come to seriously question this simplistic approach, however, returning us to a place in which Blyth’s observations remain valid, while Darwin’s speculative—but unfounded—extrapolations come under ever greater suspicion.

What do the Experts Say?

Before we go any further with this line of thinking, let us recall what some respected evolutionary authorities have said concerning natural selection:

“If most evolutionary changes occur during speciation events and if speciation events are largely random, natural selection, long viewed as a process guiding evolutionary change, cannot play a significant role in determining the overall course of evolution.” [Steven M. Stanley (evolutionist), Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 72:640-660, (1975), p.648.]

“Adaptation leads to natural selection, natural selection does not necessarily lead to greater adaptation ...  Natural Selection operates essentially to enable the organisms to maintain their state of adaptation rather than improve it ...  Natural selection over the long run does not seem to improve a species’ chances of survival, but simply enables it to ‘track,’ or keep up with, the constantly changing environment” [Richard C. Lewontin (evolutionist); "Adaptation." Scientific American (and Scientific American Book, Evolution), Sept. 1978]

“Mutations, in time, occur incoherently.  They are not complementary to one another, nor are they cumulative in successive generations toward a given direction.  They modify what pre-exists, but they do so in disorder.” [Pierre-Paul Grassé (evolutionist), Evolution of Living Organisms, Academic Press, New York (1977), pp. 97, 98.]

“In the meantime, the educated public continues to believe that Darwin has provided all the relevant answers by the magic formula of random mutation plus natural selection—quite unaware of the fact that random mutations turned out to be irrelevant and natural selection a tautology.” [Arthur Koestler (evolutionist), Janus: A Summing Up, Random House, New York, 1978, pp. 184-185.]

[For the reader’s benefit, a tautology is equivalent to defining an idea simply by restating the same idea in different terms (=circular reasoning)]

“As a generative principle, providing the raw material for natural selection, random mutation is inadequate both in scope and theoretical grounding.” [Jeffrey S. Wicken (evolutionist), “The generation of complexity in evolution:  a thermodynamic and information-theoretical discussion.” Journal of Theoretical Biology, vol. 77, April 1979, pp. 351-352.]

Stanley, Lewontin, Grassé, Koestler, and Wicken are all authorities in their fields, and they don’t seem to share Mark Isaak’s belief that natural selection has such special mystical abilities as to make it the “opposite” of chance.  In fact, they all seem to agree that natural selection itself is simply a part of the presumed random, changing, and unordered process known as evolution.

Isaak’s tale of opposites (chance vs. natural selection), while perhaps a fascinating exercise in semantics, is not a credible, scientific basis for denying random chance as an inescapably fundamental aspect of evolutionary theory.  To portray the process as anything else is to erroneously attribute to nature itself an inherent, supernatural purpose and mind of its own—which evolutionists (except perhaps the likes of Isaak) generally frown upon.

Science or Wishful Thinking?

Having blithely redefined the roles of chance and selection to his own liking, Isaak now proceeds to tell us that “chance ensures that such beneficial mutations will be inevitable.” (By “beneficial” he must mean leading to macro-evolution—i.e., information-gaining mutations.) Yet there are no records of genuine, information-gaining mutations even remotely suggestive of evolutionary progress.  Geneticists recognize mutations as erroneous duplications of genetic code in which information is invariably lost, and they don’t cite any observations of information-gaining mutations.  Isaak clearly goes out of the bounds of science, then, to make his claim.

The assertion that “different variations are selected, leading eventually to different species” has already been dealt with in this document (see the first section “Evolution has never been observed”).  In short, Isaak’s ignorance is here again betrayed by his failure to differentiate between genetic variation within an existing gene pool (a fact of science), and genetic (mutational) evolution from one organism towards another, more complex, advanced organism (an hypothesis).  The former has been observed and documented; the latter has not—and may not be justifiably extrapolated from the former.

“Harmful mutations usually die out quickly, so they don’t interfere with the process of beneficial mutations accumulating,” says Isaak.  The first half of his sentence is true, but the second half, again, erroneously makes the unsubstantiated presumption of beneficial mutations, begging the question:  How can that accumulate which does not exist?

The Origin of Life

“Nor is abiogenesis (the origin of the first life) due purely to chance,” Isaak insists.  “Once a molecule forms that is approximately self-replicating, natural selection will guide the formation of ever more efficient replicators.  ...Some self-replicating molecules are not really all that complex (as organic molecules go).

“Some people still argue that it is wildly improbable for a given self-replicating molecule to form...  This is true, but there were oceans of molecules working on the problem...  A calculation of the odds of abiogenesis is worthless unless it recognizes the immense range of starting materials that the first replicator might have formed from...”

In a few short paragraphs, Mark Isaak apparently believes himself to have swept away any objection to the age-old notion of spontaneous generation.  It is a classic evolutionist argument to invoke vast, immeasurable oceans of “starting materials” from which life must have formed itself.  “This is too big for you to comprehend, so just accept it,” is the implication.

But many highly respected (non-Creationist) scientists have rejected such a simplistic, leap-of-faith approach to this issue.  As our knowledge of biochemistry has grown over the past several decades, it has revealed insurmountable obstacles to even Isaak’s hypothetical primal “approximately self-replicating molecule.” An attempt to address the issue by describing some organic molecules as “not really all that complex (as organic molecules go)” betrays a severely limited perception of the problem:

“Prebiotic soup is easy to obtain.  We must next explain how a prebiotic soup of organic molecules, including amino acids and the organic constituents of nucleotides evolved into a self-replicating organism.  While some suggestive evidence has been obtained, I must admit that attempts to reconstruct this evolutionary process are extremely tentative.” [Dr. Leslie Orgel (evolutionist biochemist at the Salk Institute, California), “Darwinism at the very beginning of life,” New Scientist, 15 April 1982, p. 150]

“However, the macromolecule-to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions, which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis.  In this area all is conjecture.  ...We simply wish to point out the fact that there is no scientific evidence.  The physicist has learned to avoid trying to specify when time began and when matter was created, except within the framework of frank speculation.  The origin of the precursor cell appears to fall into the same category of unknowables.” [Davis E. Green (evolutionist, Institute for Enzyme Research, University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Robert F. Goldberger (evolutionist, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland), Molecular Insights into the Living Processes, Academic Press, New York, 1967, pp. 406-407]

“It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available.” [Prof. G. A. Kerkut (evolutionist, Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, Univ. of Southampton) in Implications of Evolution, Pergamon Press, London, 1960, p. 150]

Orgel, Green, Goldberger and Kerkut are but a few of many voices in the evolutionist camp who disagree with Isaak’s shallow treatment of this subject.  The highly complex and orderly structures and processes that comprise life and its functions can not even begin to be explained as having arisen from non-living matter, no matter how much primordial soup and time is involved.  Knowledgeable and objective members of the scientific community don’t deny this.


Lastly, Isaak disputes the claim that

“Evolution is Only a Theory;
It Hasn’t Been Proved”

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“Like so many other words, [evolution] has more than one meaning,” Isaak quite correctly reminds us (though his “Misconceptions FAQ” seems to betray a weakness on his part for confusing at least two of them).  He then provides us with his “strict biological definition,” which is “a change in allele frequencies over time,” assuring us that, “by that definition, evolution is an indisputable fact.”

In the first place, all changes take place over time.  The question is what kind of change we are addressing.  Variations within a gene pool, based on the pool’s existing genetic mix (eagerly labeled as “microevolution” by many evolutionists) would not necessarily qualify for Isaak’s “strict biological definition,” since “allele” changes are popularly considered to be the results of mutation, rather than the natural shuffling process of existing gene pool material.

On the other hand, mutational changes of a beneficial (or at least not harmful) and enduring nature are not known (as explained above), so all Isaak seems to be telling us here is that, by his “strict biological definition,” changes in (harmful) mutation occurrences do qualify as “evolution”—and that this is an “indisputable fact”.

Defining “Evolution”

Lest there be any misunderstanding, it would behoove us at this point to establish what evolutionary advocates, such as Isaak, normally mean when they speak of “evolution.” Other definitions notwithstanding (including the redefinition of genetic variation as “microevolution”—often used in a bait-and-switch argument), the general biological meaning of “evolution” to most evolutionists is

a continuous naturalistic, mechanistic process by which all living things have arisen from a single living source which itself arose by a similar process from a non-living, inanimate world.

Leaving alone the area of cosmogony, the “big bang” and its competing hypotheses, as well as some of the other details, this definition is usually adequate as a reference point from which the majority of evolutionists work.

Isaak tells us that, “...common descent is still not the theory of evolution, but just a fraction of it (and a part of several quite different theories as well).” Yet “common descent” (i.e., “all things arising from a single living source”) is indeed the larger part of the general theory of evolution, and he conspicuously fails to list any of the other “several quite different theories” which share this central theme of evolutionary doctrine.

Of greater significance, in any case, is the next claim:  “The theory of evolution not only says that life evolved, it also includes mechanisms ... which go a long way towards explaining how life evolved.” Unfortunately, the “mechanisms” to which Isaak refers have been largely discarded as inadequate for explaining, either singly or in combination, how life evolved; they do not go a “long way” at all towards explaining anything, yet they are tirelessly parroted as evolutionist doctrine, for lack of better material.

Defining “Theory”

Isaak would have us define “theory” for our purposes as “a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena,” but to do so would be to ignore the question of what specific “class of phenomena” evolutionism proposes to explain.  To date, evolutionary theory has not explained any observed phenomenon—rather, it serves up speculation and conjecture that unobserved (and unobservable) phenomena are responsible for life as we know it.  This does not qualify evolutionism as a theory according to the definition offered by Isaak.

A better definition (no. 2 from the same dictionary used by Isaak) would be

a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural, in reporting matters of actual fact.

Thus, evolutionary theory provides a conjectural, proposed explanation in reporting on the origin and diversity (matters) of life as we know it—life as we know it being actual fact.

“Generally speaking, scientific theories differ from scientific laws only in that laws can be expressed more tersely,” Isaak tells us.  A little less generality is in order here, however, as the term “law” in science refers to a description of invariable, observable, results or phenomena under like conditions, whereas the term “theory” refers to a proposed description or explanation, usually based at least in part on repeatability and observation (i.e., the scientific process).  The difference is hardly that one “can be expressed more tersely” than the other.

Curiously, Isaak now proceeds to set up for himself a straw man by saying “...a theory implies self-consistency, agreement with observations, and usefulness.  (Creationism fails to be a theory mainly because of the last point; it makes few or no specific claims about what we would expect to find, so it can’t be used for anything.  When it does make falsifiable predictions, they prove to be false.)”

Yet thus far, our analysis of Isaak’s own claims concerning evolution reveal it to fail even as a theory, by this auxiliary definition:

  • Evolutionism fails to be self-consistent
    1. by requiring multiple “definitions”, depending on the need of the moment
    2. in the varied, and contradictory camps connected with thermodynamics, phylogeny, proposed mechanisms, and various sub-theories, etc.
  • Evolutionism fails to agree with observations in
    1. the fossil record
    2. geology
    3. genetics
    4. molecular biology
    5. thermodynamics
    6. dozens of dating methods (both radiometric and geological/geophysical)
    7. probability mathematics
  • Evolutionism has failed to prove useful, having produced
    1. no new advancements in scientific knowledge or technology
    2. no advancements in medicine—and actually has hindered past research because of false claims (now discarded) concerning “vestigial” organs
    3. no positive contribution to society through evolution-based social “sciences”—having served as a pseudo-scientific justification for racism, nazism, communism, and other societal/ideological ills.

To state, in the face of these circumstances, that “Creationism fails to be a theory mainly because ... it makes few or no specific claims about what we would expect to find, so it can’t be used for anything,” betrays what should be an embarrassingly gross case of ignorance on the part of Isaak.  Unable to defend evolutionism in the face of his own definition of a theory, Isaak has resorted to a baseless, dismissive attack on a “Creationism” straw man.

The predictions of any theory, as they are proved either true or false by the empirical evidence, are precisely what increase or decrease that theory’s credibility.  While Evolutionists have resorted to all manner of subjective contortion, redefinition, and reinterpretation of data—as well as denial, and outright falsehoods—in heralding their theory as a model of scientific excellence, the truth is that a growing number of Creationists have assembled a reasonable body of empirical data, based on the predictions generally inherent in Creation Science.  Lack of objective familiarity with this data is no excuse for Mark Isaak to make such a dogmatic and misleading claim.

[As the purpose of this document is to deal specifically with the five “misconceptions” addressed in Isaak’s original document, the above claims will not be addressed here in detail.  However, additional documentation is planned for this web site, as time permits, in which the above-mentioned predictions and data will be presented.  In the meantime, the links at the end of this document may be of some interest to an objective student of the origins issue.  Suffice it to say for now that Mark Isaak clearly has stepped out of the realm of knowledge and fact in his brief and ostensibly effortless dismissal of a Creationism straw man.]

“Lack of proof isn’t a weakness, either,” Isaak now reiterates. “...In the real world, we must deal with levels of certainty based on observed evidence ... What evolution has is what any good scientific claim has—evidence, and lots of it.”

Again, careful and objective study of the empirical, scientific data does not lead us to Isaak’s conclusion concerning “evidence.” Those predisposed to an evolutionary belief system (or at least a naturalistic, mechanistic philosophical view of things) will naturally be eager to agree with the “findings” of the Mark Isaaks of the world.  But let’s not pretend that this is what “science” is all about.

Isaak concludes this line of defense by repeating the unsubstantiated claim that, “Evolution is supported by a wide range of observations throughout the fields of genetics, anatomy, ecology, animal behavior, paleontology, and others...”

We have already shown how genetic research has failed to support Isaak’s claims, and how anatomical and paleontological data are subjected to highly equivocal, subjective, and manipulative interpretations in order to “support” evolutionary “predictions.” Ecology and animal behavior likewise lend little or no obvious support to evolutionary beliefs without further subjective interpretation, which renders their respective data neither more useful, nor better understood.  (It is noteworthy that Isaak furthermore declines to include thermodynamics, probability, and the vast majority of uniformitarian-based dating methods (among others) in his list of “supportive fields.”)

“If you wish to challenge the theory of evolution,” Isaak tells us, “you must address that evidence.  You must show that the evidence is either wrong or irrelevant or that it fits another theory better.  Of course, to do this, you must know both the theory and the evidence.”

This document was written precisely to address the “evidence” Isaak has cited—evidence which is neither “wrong” nor “irrelevant”—but which is simply not there.  “Lack of proof isn’t a weakness,” Mark Isaak says.  Then is “lack of proof” a sure sign of a “fact” as opposed to as “theory”?  Lacking not only “proof,” but also any truly supportive, unequivocal “evidence,” we most certainly do not arrive at a “fact” of evolution—and there scarcely remains even a defensible scientific “theory” of evolution at all!

Conclusion

“These are not the only misconceptions about evolution by any means,” Isaak says.  On this count he is absolutely correct.  “Other common misunderstandings include how geological dating techniques work, implications to morality and religion, the meaning of ‘uniformitarianism,’ and many more.” Here, Isaak has this author’s unreserved agreement (though we may differ as to WHO is doing the misunderstanding).

Mark Isaak insists that, “To address all these objections here would be impossible.” Wishing to give him the benefit of the doubt, this author remains eager to see all of them addressed with truthfulness, in light of empirical science, and as objectively as possible.  Misconceptions do indeed abound in connection with evolutionism, its many fragile and mutually dependent theories, and its philosophical implications.  To address all these is not only possible, but it is the only responsible thing to do, if the truth is to remain of any importance to us.

With this document, this author has sought to demonstrate to the objective, inquiring mind that evolutionary dogma is not backed by the true science that its proponents assure us is there.  It is hoped that this rebuttal to Mr. Isaak’s original FAQ will provide food for thought to those who otherwise might have accepted the assertive, but highly questionable, claims and guiding philosophy of Isaak and his colleagues in the Talk.Origins newsgroup/archives complex.

Isaak says, “...the theory of evolution still has essentially unanimous agreement from the people who work on it.” There is also “unanimous agreement” among that remnant of stalwart believers in a flat earth.  It is not agreement with one’s colleagues that matters here, but agreement with true facts, true knowledge, and (therefore) true science.  A growing number of educated and informed people (including, no doubt, the vast majority of productive scientists) are not included among those described by Isaak as holding “unanimous agreement” with and/or “working on” the theory of evolution.

It has not been the purpose of this writer to needlessly disparage those who believe evolution to be a scientific possibility.  The facts of science are hard-pressed to provide unequivocal support to such a belief, however, and it is only reasonable that the truth of the matter be published and accessible to all.  Were it not for the fact that many evolutionists persist in defending their faith by perpetuating faulty logic and claiming tired, out-dated relics as “evidence,” essays like this one would not be necessary.  Mark Isaak’s essay is just one of many such efforts on the part of evolutionist spokespersons.  Careful examination of his simplistic and unsubstantiated arguments vis-a-vis the facts of science (and the understanding of even many respected evolutionist scientists) has made publication of this response a moral necessity.


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