A CRITIQUE OF

DARWIN'S THEORY OF EVOLUTION

(Part 1)

by

Alex PATERSON

http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/science/darwin_critique1.htm

Updated: 8 March 2008


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This is the first of a two part article questioning Darwin's Theory of Evolution on scientific grounds.

Click here to go to part two (2) titled: A Critique of Darwin's Theory of Evolution (part 2)


SITE INDEX

Introduction
Darwin's Theory of Evolution
Irreducible Complexity
Philosophical Materialism
Second Law of Thermodynamics
Conclusion
Footnotes
Related Articles
About the Author


INTRODUCTION

It is clear that the physical Universe, including life on Earth, is an evolutionary process. Darwin's Theory of Evolution is but just one theory as to how this process occurred with regard to the evolution of 'life' on this planet and is considered by most educated humans to be a self-evident fact, yet rather surprisingly careful scrutiny reveals a dearth of empirical scientific evidence to support it. 1

If there were ever a case of "never letting the truth get in the way of a good story" then this would appear to be such a case. The following article briefly outlines the manifest shortcomings associated with Darwin's Theory of Evolution and is written to promote thought and discussion about this issue. You are invited to agree with, disagree with, seek clarification about, or critique the article if you so wish.

Alex Paterson (August 1999)

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DARWIN'S THEORY OF EVOLUTION postulates that 'life' 2 on Earth arose from non-living matter entirely by way of some unknown, 'unconscious', mechanistic, natural process on a pre-biotic earth and then proceeded to evolve into more complex life forms almost exclusively by way of a random mutation and natural selection process, 3 and all occurring without the involvement of an over lighting consciousness or 'creator'.

Darwin's model of evolution, known as "the survival of the fittest", is widely accepted by most of the contemporary scientific community, as well as the general public, as a "fact of life" as there is little doubt this process does play a significant part in changing the characteristics within the pre-existing gene pool of a species. (a process known as micro-evolution within species) On the face of it, Darwin's theory is so elegantly simple and in accordance with so many of the day-to-day observations of modern genetics that it does indeed appear to be self evident.

However, close examination of a whole raft of scientific data reveals the absence of virtually any empirical scientific evidence in support of the theory, either regarding the alleged spontaneous generation of life in first place, let alone the evolution of life forms from one species into another. If anything, the fossil evidence to date indicates the spontaneous appearance, without the existence of any earlier related life forms, of a vast number of life forms around 600 million years ago known as the 'Cambrian explosion', followed by very long periods (tens of millions of years) of minor changes occurring within species (a process known as Stasis) and the absence of any examples of possible evolutionary links between species prior to, during, or after this period.

But, as biochemist Michael Behe points out in his book, 'Darwin's Black Box', the most serious flaw in Darwin's Theory is that due to the 'irreducible complexity' associated with the biochemistry at a molecular and cellular level, the theory cannot be applied to the evolution of life at this fundamental level, which implies other factors must be operating in the evolutionary process. 4

IMPORTANT NOTE 1: It should not be construed that this criticism of Darwin's Theory implies that the author does not believe that life on Earth is the product of some form of evolution - but rather that the evolutionary model put forward by Darwin is flawed because it is not supported by any empirical scientific evidence.

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IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY is defined as the base level of complexity below which a system no longer functions. Thus an irreducibly complex system is one comprising several unique interacting components that contribute to the basic function of the 'system' and wherein the removal of just one component renders the whole system no longer functional. An irreducibly complex system cannot 'evolve' by slight, single step successive modifications to a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part, is by definition non-functional and as such would have no purpose and presumably could not be the subject of 'natural selection'. 5

Contemporary society is full of irreducibly complex man-made devices, yet in comparison with the complexity of life at a biochemical level, they are just child's play. The common mouse trap is an excellent example of a simple, yet irreducibly complex machine. It comprises ten parts of which the absence of just one renders the trap unserviceable. Irreducibly complex systems like a mousetrap cannot evolve via the Darwinian model of gradual single step minor changes. In the case of a mouse trap, you can't start with a wooden platform, catch a few mice, add a spring, catch a few more mice and so on. The whole system has to be complete before you can catch any mice. It's all or nothing. As Behe explains in great detail, the irreducible complexity associated with just a simple single cell organism at a biochemical level is of staggering proportions involving a cascade of non-redundant, exquisitely related processes to support it and all implying careful design.

Realistically, if Darwin's theory can't begin to explain the 'evolution' of a system as simple as a ten part mouse trap, what hope has it got in explaining the development of the complex biochemistry associated with a single cell organism, let alone higher life forms? 6

Darwin knew that his theory of gradual evolution by natural selection carried a heavy burden. As he said in his book, 'The Origin of Species':

"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down." 7

Darwin postulated his theory long before the irreducible complexity of life at a biochemical level was understood and it is difficult to believe that, given his above statement, even he could support his theory today.

So why is Darwin's theory still so trenchantly defended despite the lack of any empirical evidence in support of it and the increasing body of evidence against it? The answer lies in history. Contemporary Western society is rooted in a concept of reality known as Philosophical Materialism.

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PHILOSOPHICAL MATERIALISM came into prominence associated with the 'Age of Reason' which arose partly as a reaction to the stifling religious dogma of 16th - 18th century Europe. Philosophical Materialism postulates that the Universe is essentially a three dimensional materialistic phenomena and that 'life' on earth somehow arose out of a freak fortuitous event aeons ago by way of some unknown, 'unconscious' and mechanistic process in strict accordance with the 'fixed' laws of physics. Philosophical Materialism totally rejects as "superstitious nonsense" the concept of a 'Creative Principle' or 'Universal Consciousness' over lighting the creation of the Universe in general or the evolution of life on Earth in particular, as this is totally at odds with the basic premise of that philosophy.

Because Darwin's Theory of Evolution (as presented by neo-Darwinists) is in complete accordance with this philosophy, it has become entrenched as the official creation story of contemporary Western culture and is trenchantly defended by the scientific community despite growing evidence of the manifest shortcomings of the theory. Most scientists hold firmly to this theory - not because the mechanism has been observed to work, or that there is some irrefutable scientific proof of the same - but rather because their guiding philosophy assures them that in the absence of an over lighting 'Creative Principle', no other means are available to do the job. In other words, the theory must be right because in their eyes there is no alternative! 8

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THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS relates to a process fundamental to the Physical Universe in which all inanimate matter eventually breaks down into its constituent parts with the passage of time. In other words, all inaminate matter becomes less complex over time. A corollary of this law is the observation that inanimate matter never spontaneously organises itself into more complex forms. Thus for example, a car will eventually disintegrate into a pile of rust, but a pile of rust will never spontaneously build itself up into a car. The only matter known to Western Science to defy Second Law of Thermodynamics is that associated with organic LIFE. 2

From a scientific point of view, the proposition that something as incredibly diverse and irreducibly complex as life - and which is characterised by order, purpose and the ability to reproduce itself (in other words, displaying consciousness) - could have spontaneously defied the Second Law of Thermodynamics and come into being out of the relatively simple primordial environment of pre-biotic earth by way of some unknown, 'unconscious', purposeless, mechanistic process, smacks to many (including the author) of being bogus science. The fact that no empirical evidence in support of such a notion has ever been discovered or put forward almost defies belief that such a theory could become the predominant 'scientific' view of reality. Presumably, under normal circumstances such a notion would have been rejected without a second thought. However, Darwin's Theory of Evolution is not just another theory to be tested and discarded if it doesn't match the findings of objective scientific analysis - it is a theory rooted in the essence of Philosophical Materialism and the very basis of the 'science' that represents that philosophy. Under these circumstances, discarding such a theory is clearly unthinkable because the actual intellectual authority of contemporary Western science is at stake.

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CONCLUSION

American lawyer and author, Phillip Johnson, succinctly sums up the shortcomings regarding Darwin's Theory of Evolution in his book 'Darwin on Trail':

"The argument of 'Darwin on Trial' is that we know a great deal less (about evolution) than has been claimed. In particular, we do not know how the immensely complex organ systems of plants and animals could have been created by mindless and purposeless natural processes, as Darwinists say they must have been. Darwinian theory attributes biological complexity to the accumulation of adaptive micro-mutations by natural selection, but the creative power of this hypothetical mechanism has never been demonstrated, and the fossil evidence is inconsistent with the claim that biological creation occurred in that way. The philosophically important part of the Darwinian theory - its mechanism for creating complex things that did not exist before - is therefore not really empirical science at all, but rather a deduction from naturalistic philosophy. In brief, what makes me a "critic of (Darwinian) evolution" is that I distinguish between naturalistic philosophy and empirical science, and oppose the former when it comes cloaked in the authority of the latter." 9

Next: A CRITIQUE OF DARWIN'S THEORY (part 2) by Alex Paterson

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FOOTNOTES:

1. 'Empirical' is defined as based on observation and experiment, not theory. (Source: Oxford Dictionary 1991)

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2. 'Life' has a number of definitions, but for the purpose of this document it is defined as "matter capable of organised complexity and the ability to reproduce itself". (Alex Paterson)

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3. To quote Michael Behe in his book, 'Darwins Black Box': "Because Darwin observed there were variations between populations in all species, he reasoned that the ones whose chance variations (mutations) gave them an advantage in the struggle for life, would tend to survive and reproduce, out competing the less favoured ones and passing on the advantageous characteristics to their offspring. By this method characteristics of the species would gradually change and over great periods of time great changes would occur." Source: 'Darwin's Black Box' by Michael Behe (pXI)

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4. It should not be construed that this criticism of Darwin's Theory implies that the author does not believe that life on Earth is the product of some form of evolution, as it clearly is - but rather that the evolutionary model put forward by neo-Darwinists is flawed because it is not supported by any empirical scientific evidence.

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5. 'Darwin's Black Box' by Michael Behe (p39)

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6. Behe argues that "no one has ever explained in detailed scientific fashion how mutation and natural selection could build the complex, intricate structures associated with life at a micro biochemical level." Source: 'Darwin's Black Box' (p176)

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7. 'The Origin of Species' by Charles Darwin, 6th edition 1988 New York University press (p154)

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8. For more on this subject see: PHILOSOPHICAL MATERIALISM by Alex Paterson

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9. 'Darwin on Trial' by Phillip Johnson (p158)

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Copyright Alex Paterson 1999

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ABOUT Alex PATERSON

Alex PATERSON is an Australian citizen by birth. He writes articles and advises on issues pertaining to aviation, politics, sociology, the environment, sustainable farming, history, computers, natural health therapies and spirituality.

He can be contacted at:


Photograph of Alex Paterson

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COPYRIGHT DETAILS

The document, 'A Critique of Darwin's Theory of Evolution' is the copyright of the author, Alex Paterson. All rights worldwide reserved by the author. Notwithstanding this, the document may be reproduced and disseminated without the express permission of the author so long as reference to the author is made, no alterations are made to the document and no money is charged for it



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