May 022016
 

(Note: Evolution has become a religion say some scientists….so we include here opposing information to what may be taught about evolution in schools.)


Question: “What are some flaws in the theory of evolution?”

Answer: Christians and non-Christians alike often question whether the theory of evolution is accurate. Those who express doubts about the theory are often labeled “unscientific” or “backwards” by some in the pro-evolution camp. At times, the popular perception of evolution seems to be that it has been proven beyond all doubt and there are no scientific obstacles left for it. In reality, there are quite a few scientific flaws in the theory that provide reasons to be skeptical. Granted, none of these questions necessarily disproves evolution, but they do show how the theory is less than settled.

There are many ways in which evolution can be criticized scientifically, but most of those criticisms are highly specific. There are countless examples of genetic characteristics, ecological systems, evolutionary trees, enzyme properties, and other facts that are very difficult to square with the theory of evolution. Detailed descriptions of these can be highly technical and are beyond the scope of a summary such as this.

 

Generally speaking, it’s accurate to say that science has yet to provide consistent answers to how evolution operates at the molecular, genetic, or even ecological levels in a consistent and supportable way.

Other flaws in the theory of evolution can be separated into three basic areas.

  • First, there is the contradiction between “punctuated equilibrium” and “gradualism.”
  • Second is the problem in projecting “microevolution” into “macroevolution.”
  • Third is the unfortunate way in which the theory has been unscientifically abused for philosophical reasons.

First, there is a contradiction between “punctuated equilibrium” and “gradualism.” There are two basic possibilities for how naturalistic evolution can occur. This flaw in the theory of evolution occurs because these two ideas are mutually exclusive, and yet there is evidence suggestive of both of them.

Gradualism implies that organisms experience a relatively steady rate of mutations, resulting in a somewhat “smooth” transition from early forms to later ones. This was the original assumption derived from the theory of evolution.

 

Punctuated equilibrium, on the other hand, implies that mutation rates are heavily influenced by a unique set of coincidences. Therefore, organisms will experience long periods of stability, “punctuated” by short bursts of rapid evolution.

Gradualism seems to be contradicted by the fossil record. Organisms appear suddenly and demonstrate little change over long periods. The fossil record has been greatly expanded over the last century, and the more fossils that are found, the more gradualism seems to be disproved. It was this overt refutation of gradualism in the fossil record that prompted the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

The fossil record might seem to support punctuated equilibrium, but again, there are major problems. The basic assumption of punctuated equilibrium is that a very few creatures, all from the same large population, will experience several beneficial mutations, all at the same time. Right away, one can see how improbable this is. Then, those few members separate completely from the main population so that their new genes can be passed to the next generation (another unlikely event). Given the wide diversity of life, this kind of amazing coincidence would have to happen all the time.

While the improbable nature of punctuated equilibrium speaks for itself, scientific studies have also cast doubt on the benefits it would confer. Separating a few members from a larger population results in inbreeding. This results in decreased reproductive ability, harmful genetic abnormalities, and so forth. In essence, the events that should be promoting “survival of the fittest” cripple the organisms instead.

Despite what some claim, punctuated equilibrium is not a more refined version of gradualism. They have very different assumptions about the mechanisms behind evolution and the way those mechanisms behave. Neither is a satisfactory explanation for how life came to be as diverse and balanced as it is, and yet there are no other reasonable options for how evolution can operate.

The second flaw is the problem of extending “microevolution” into “macroevolution.” Laboratory studies have shown that organisms are capable of adaptation. That is, living things have an ability to shift their biology to better fit their environment. However, those same studies have demonstrated that such changes can only go so far, and those organisms have not fundamentally changed. These small changes are called “microevolution.” Microevolution can result in some drastic changes, such as those found in dogs. All dogs are the same species, and one can see how much variation there is. But even the most aggressive breeding has never turned a dog into something else. There is a limit to how large, small, smart, or hairy a dog can become through breeding. Experimentally, there is no reason to suggest that a species can change beyond its own genetic limits and become something else.

Long-term evolution, though, requires “macroevolution,” which refers to those large-scale changes. Microevolution turns a wolf into a Chihuahua or a Great Dane. Macroevolution would turn a fish into a cow or a duck. There is a massive difference in scale and effect between microevolution and macroevolution. This flaw in the theory of evolution is that experimentation does not support the ability of many small changes to transform one species into another.

Finally, there is the flawed application of evolution. This is not a flaw in the scientific theory, of course, but an error in the way the theory has been abused for non-scientific purposes. There are still many, many questions about biological life that evolution has not answered. And yet, there are those who try to transform the theory from a biological explanation into a metaphysical one.

 

Every time a person claims that the theory of evolution disproves religion, spirituality, or God, they are taking the theory outside of its own limits.

 

Fairly or not, the theory of evolution has been hijacked as an anti-religious mascot by those with an axe to grind against God.

Overall, there are many solidly scientific reasons to question the theory of evolution.

 

These flaws may be resolved by science, or they may eventually kill the theory all together.

 

We don’t know which one will happen, but we do know this: the theory of evolution is far from settled, and rational people can question it scientifically.

 

Recommended Resources: Battle for the Beginning: Creation, Evolution, and the Bible by John MacArthur andLogos Bible Software.

 Posted by at 01:06

  2 Responses to “More Scientific Flaws in Evolutionary Theory”

  1. Punctuated Equilibrium Vs Gradualism:
    This argument seems to be a Non Sequitur. There is no reason why both processes can not work in concert. If a species is well suited for it’s environment there will be gradual drift but real change will be slow. If the environment changes then the species will gradually change with it but at a more rapid pace than before. Creationists sometimes falsely believe that very rapid change is possible in a single or few individuals leaving a small group fundamentally different from the original species and unable to find breeding partners or too small a population to survive due to limited genetic diversity. What they fail to understand is that even Punctuated Equilibrium takes 100’s to 1000’s of generations and works across large populations. It maybe many time faster than Gradualism but is still an extremely slow process.

    Macro vs. Micro Evolution:
    While it’s true we can only see relatively small changes in the 150 years we’ve been studying evolution This is a minuscule amount of time and the theory predicts we would not see major changes in such a short time scale. (Wolf to Chihuahua is a small change?) Creationists have never been able to provide a mechanism that prevents macro changes. There is nothing to stop organisms from making extreme changes (Wolf to Chihuahua or Cat to Hyena, or Hippo like creature to Whales) We have plenty of examples in the fossil record of gradual change adding up to major (Macro) differences. Like the aforementioned Hippo To Whale where we have fossilized transitional fossils in between them. There are also DNA analysis that backs up the fossil record. For example Whales closest land cousin genetically is the Hippo just as the fossil record suggested. I think everyone can agree that Hippo to Whale would represent Macro Evolution and not just some adaption.

    Evolution Abused:
    Here is where I agree with the author. Evolution is a scientific theory regarding change in species over time. It is not a philosophy. No one is promoting survival of the fittest as a life style. Nor should Evolution be used as a denial of God. That doesn’t make any sense. This is not a failing in the theory itself but a flaw in the understanding of the theory by the masses.
    However, “Only God could have created us” has been used for millennia as the major argument for God. Evolution is now an alternative to that argument. That’s why some theists find Evolution so frightening. Our origin has always been a trump card for religionist to keep and expand their flocks. Now that trump card has been removed from their hand, they really have very little else. It’s basically a losing hand without needing a God for Creation. So articles like this exist to shed suspicion on Evolution as a desperate measure to retain believers in an otherwise failing worldview.

    • While the editor is not an expert on evolution, there are answers to what BC says above.

      BC had often stated to me that “science is settled” in regard to evolution and in regard to “climate change or global warming”

      Many intelligent people have argued that the belief in evolution raises questions which have not been satisfactorily answered. That is our stance.

      Here is one answer to BC’s point about punctuated equilibrium and gradualism.

      “Punctuated equilibrium” refers to a concept in evolutionary biology that is both controversial and widely misunderstood. Both punctuated equilibrium and its alternatives have significant drawbacks, either in plausibility or evidence. Punctuated equilibrium seeks to reconcile the idea of natural evolution with the missing links in the fossil record. The debate within science over the validity of punctuated equilibrium demonstrates many of the problems with evolutionary theory in general.

      Punctuated equilibrium attempts to answer a major problem with the fossil record. For almost a century, naturalistic science assumed that the gaps in the fossil record would eventually be filled, and there would be a semi-complete record of so-called “transitional forms” between the various species. In fact, the opposite happened, and the gaps became even more pronounced. The actual fossil record indicates species seemingly appearing from nowhere, and without the long, slow, gradual changes expected by classical evolutionary theory. Punctuated equilibrium seeks to answer this problem by supposing that evolution doesn’t occur steadily, but sporadically.

      In 1972, Stephen Gould and Niles Eldredge published a landmark paper on punctuated equilibrium. Their contention was that the gaps in the fossil record were best explained by gaps in evolution. That is, that most species did not change much over time, but occasionally experienced major changes in brief periods of time. “Classic” Darwinian evolution is presumed to take place very gradually, with a steady and slow change of organisms over time. Punctuated equilibrium replaces this slow change with long periods lacking any change at all, mixed with relatively short periods of rapid change.

      Another way of looking at this is to say that, according to punctuated equilibrium, species are normally not evolving, and when they do evolve, it is relatively quick and dramatic. At times, this has become a source of controversy within the scientific community. Depending on whom you ask, punctuated equilibrium is either a refutation of gradual evolution, or just a specific form of it. This is one of the major disagreements over the theory – whether it replaces or enhances the classical notion of naturalistic evolution.

      Despite a better agreement with available evidence, there are many scientific problems with punctuated equilibrium itself. The mechanism for punctuated equilibrium is assumed to be small groups of a particular organism separated in some way from the main population. This would accelerate the transmission of mutated genes through the population, and much more quickly produce a new species. However, multiple studies have found that inbreeding such as this produces extremely negative effects, which run counter to the idea of rapid advancement. The fossil record also calls into question the plausibility of this notion. The so-called “Cambrian Explosion,” for instance, is the sudden emergence of almost every biological type known to man, in a geological blink of an eye. This seems to contradict the idea of broad genetic stability intermixed with localized change.

      There are also several points of irony related to punctuated equilibrium that have little to do with the science, and a great deal to do with the assumptions of the scientists. Gould was criticized for being heavy on rhetoric and light on scientific substance by the “old guard” of evolutionary theory. This same criticism has been applied by theists to atheistic naturalism in general. Gould and Eldredge predicted resistance to their ideas, stating that the scientific community was too devoted to theories and not facts. That is, they expected to be resisted for no other reason than what they proposed didn’t follow the preferred assumptions. More than 30 years later, this is still one of the major obstacles to open, honest dialogue about science.

      Punctuated equilibrium represents an odd combination of traits. It closes some holes in evolutionary theory, but opens up others. It supposedly makes evolutionary theory more evidence-based, and therefore more scientific, but it also makes the “naturalism of the gaps” attitude easier to take. That is, punctuated equilibrium makes it easier to explain away the lack of transitional forms as though it was evidence that actually supports evolution.

      When all is said and done, punctuated equilibrium is an attempt to reconcile available evidence with the idea of naturalistic evolution. It is, in many ways, another example of re-interpreting facts in order to fit an ideology. Still, any willingness to modify evolutionary theory in light of evidence is good, since this can only lead closer and closer to the idea of a Creator God. Pursuit of these ideas might help close the philosophical gaps between atheistic naturalism and intelligent design – which might be the very reason punctuated equilibrium is so highly resisted in some academic circles.”

      Recommended Resource: The Wedge of Truth: Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism by Philip Johnson

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