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The Philosophical and Theoretical Flaws of Darwinian Evolution

Posted by Tony Listi on January 22, 2008

Besides the frauds and the fossils, there are logical problems with the theory of evolution.

The renowned philosopher of science Sir Karl Popper pointed out that evolution is not science because it is “not testable” but rather “metaphysical.” It is impossible to test/observe evolution− unless one can wait millions of years. Darwin himself sets out an impossible test for his theory: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would completely break down.” How is one to set up an experiment to put it to the test? We cannot go back in time and directly observe supposed organ evolution over millions of years. Besides, a Christian fundamentalist could easily posit: If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by God, my God theory would completely break down.

Evolutionary theory and terminology is in fact filled with tautologies (logical fallacy consisting of inane repetition). The phrase that most aptly encapsulates evolution, “survival of the fittest,” is a tautology. Popper observes, “To say that a species now living is adapted to its environment is, in fact, almost tautological…. Adaptation or fitness is defined by modern evolutionists as survival value, and can be measured by actual success is survival: there is hardly any possibility of testing a theory as feeble as this.” Nobel Prize winning geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan recognized the phrase as “little more than a truism.” British geneticist C. H. Waddington also recognized natural selection to be a tautology. Consider another example: “vertebrates evolved from invertebrates.” But invertebrate by definition means “not a vertebrate.” Evolve means to change, and a changed thing is not what it once was, by definition. Thus the example can be reduced to absurd and useless repetition: something evolved from what it was not. The end result of the phrase is merely an assumption, not a demonstration. Evolution in this way assumes itself, cloaked in logical fallacy. Everything becomes confirmation of evolution. Evolution must therefore provide real demonstration or revise its terminology. And yet, many of the evolutionary/taxonomical terms for biological groups are defined by an absence of characteristics, which is what gives rise to the tautological problem.

Even if the fossil record was surely complete and did in fact include the many transitional organisms Darwin had hoped for, one could not conclude evolution was true. The fossil “sequences” of similar physical structures would not strictly prove or demonstrate the existence of a natural mechanism, such as Darwin’s natural selection, that dictated one set of structures gave rise to another. The fossil record itself cannot reveal parental/descendant relationships; it presents end products, not processes. Evolution is a process and thus derives no support from fossils. It can only impose itself, an assumption, onto the fossil record through guesswork. The mere appearance of progress hardly establishes mutation and natural selection as the engine of change. Moreover, the capacity to draw a diagram and come up with a story about how things might have happened is not science. Processes must be observed. If a process cannot be observed by science in real time, it is hardly worthy of the prestigious title “scientific theory” but rather “untested hypothesis.”

The same goes for homologous structures and DNA similarities among various organisms. They too are end products and, in and of themselves, cannot reveal the process that gave rise to themselves. Merely more assumptions and guesswork. (According to this criteria, Intelligent Design, as a process theory, seems to fall outside of science as well. Yet if evolutionists wish to maintain that a process can be inferred from an end product without direct observation of the process, they must concede ground to Intelligent Design, which posits its own explanatory process. Of course, I wonder about the testability of some ideas in modern theoretical physics and astronomy that claim to be “science.”) Another problem with homologous structures is that there are some remarkable similarities of structure that not even Darwinian biologists attribute to common descent (e.g. the eyes of octopuses and humans). With regard to DNA, humans are at least 95% genetically identical to chimpanzees, but we are also 35% genetically identical to daffodils! Thus DNA itself doesn’t seem to tell us much about who we are. There is a much more complicated process(es) that uses DNA to make the stuff of life.

As mentioned, the vast majority of mutations are actually harmful to an organism. Probability is already against evolution. But even supposing mutation happened to work the way evolution claims it works, each and every mutation of the hundreds needed just to make one new or altered biological structure (let alone a new organism entirely) would have to, in some way, make the organism more “fit,” otherwise natural selection would not occur. Unfortunately though, Darwin had no idea about DNA and the other vastly complex systems of molecular biology/biochemistry known today. The cell seemed simple enough to him, yet it is more complex than any microchip or piece of nanotechnology ever created by man, more complex than New York City. Each cell in the human body contains more information than in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. This biological complexity reveals thousands of fine-tuned mechanisms that perform vital functions. If one part in the mechanism is missing or defective, the entire system fails leading to disability, disease, or death (e.g. blood clotting, flagellum function, eye function, etc.) This “irreducible complexity” turns Darwin’s impossible test back on him. To at least be understandable, if not credible, evolution has to actually demonstrate that the innumerable parts that participate in various mechanisms and make up an organ, which in turn contributes to a vital function, can each contribute some survival advantage to an organism. Each new protein, receptor, signal, cell, etc. in itself has to confer some sort of advantage. Examining these parts in detail though shows that they only contribute to the overall mechanism and can do nothing else. Evolution must actually confront and demonstratively explain the complexity and understanding of modern biochemistry. If it cannot, it is not science but rather faith. Thus far an “evolution in the gaps” theory has superseded the “God in the gaps” one. In light of the facts of complexity, it seems highly unlikely, if not impossible, that evolution can meet the challenge.

Evolution has no explanation for why humans have a moral sense, consciousness, and rationality in general. To say that these are merely the product of random material causes, as evolution must, is to undermine the validity of science itself, which rests on consciousness and rationality actually having meaning. As professor Haldane put it, “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the [random] motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms [or that they move randomly].” Strict materialism defeats science itself and thus evolution. Mere motion and matter cannot make Truth.

The logical deductions of Darwinism have been catastrophic for society. It clearly helped to give rise to Marxism and Nazism. Marx saw the “struggle” as among classes, Hitler conceived of the struggle as among the races. We know for certain Marx had read Darwin’s Origin: “This is the book which contains the basis in natural history for our views.” (Ironically, Darwin was very much influenced by Malthus, a free market economist. Many have noticed that evolution is merely laissez-faire economics transplanted into the natural sciences.) Mein Kampf means “My Struggle,” which Hitler described in unmistakably Darwinian terms, referring to the “higher evolution of living organisms.” A theory that says the fittest always rise to the top has to be comforting to any dictator. Racism and eugenics both demonstrably derived support, if not their very being, from Darwin’s theory. Darwin’s half-cousin and eugenicist Sir Francis Galton coined the term “eugenics.” In fact, Darwin subtitled his Origin of Species “The Survival of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin may even helped plant the seed of animal rights activism: erroneously making man out to be no more than an animal may only have had the effect of elevating animals to the level of humans. Darwin, intentionally or not, overturned almost every aspect of traditional and Biblical morality. His theory enshrined biological instincts over moral values.

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