The Thoroughly Debatable Darwinian Theory of Evolution
We can all remember in school being taught about natural selection. To most of us, this aspect of the Darwinian theory of evolution seemed to be self-evident and obviously true. It seemed so natural didn't it? That if being fleet of foot would help a cheetah to catch its prey, then it becomes fleeter of foot. This idea seems so obvious, so logical, and such a wonderful mechanism -- until you look at it carefully. Then, it begins to dissolve in front of your eyes. We have featured many guests on 21st Century Radio¨ and Future Talk who have challenged Charles Darwin's ideas about how we became the "evolved" human beings that we are, but few have done so as succinctly and convincingly as Richard Milton in his book, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. Richard Milton is a science journalist and design engineer based in London, a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society, and a regular columnist for their magazine. He has been a member of the Geologists' Association for over 20 years, and did extensive geological research for his books. He is also the author of Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment, and he has been featured on the BBC, NBC and other television networks. More about his work can be found at his award-winning website, www.alternativescience.com
Richard Milton has applied his investigative journalism skills and engineering science training to the research of taboo subjects, not just in biology but in every other field as well, from homeopathy to ESP. But above them all, he calls Darwinism the most closely observed taboo by established academicians and scientists. The ad homonym attacks on Milton are par for the course for anyone who dares to publicly question the evidence offered as proof for the Darwinian argument. This seems ironic to us, as of all the subjects that should inspire great debate, the inquiry about who we are and where we came from should always be encouraged. The complete opposite is true, however, meaning the author of a book presumptive enough to be called "Shattering the Myths of Darwinism" got the dogs set loose on him to chase him off their property. "Eminent scientists wrote thundering reviews in all the great British publications," Milton told us. "In the weekly literary reviews I was called a crackpot and a loony, and it was suggested I needed psychiatric help. I was also called a harmless fruitcake. But the fascinating thing is, though, that none of those eminent scientists even made the slightest attempt to address any of the scientific issues that I'd raised."
This kind of dismissal is stifling to any kind of serious scientific debate. Milton is concerned about what he calls a very deep-rooted belief that science is an instrument of control; that because we know everything, we can control everything. "This is a dangerous illusion," he said. "We can affect the environment, we can't necessarily control the environment.... I'm very struck by the fact that in the 20th Century when science has become the religion of the western world, we seem to have completely forgotten about everything but science. We seem to have forgotten about philosophy and ethics and morality, about what used to be called the Humanities. And it's very striking when you look at the scientists of the 16th and 17th Centuries. They were interested in every aspect of human affairs. They weren't simply interested in math and measuring things. They were interested in mankind in the broadest sense. We seem to have lost that.... 'The proper study of mankind is man', and I'd like to get back to a much more broadly based application of knowledge."
Milton summarized some of the myths referred to in the title of his Darwin book, but we will touch on only a few of them here. All of these others are fully supported in his book: "the myth of the age of the Earth; the myth of radiometric dating; the myth of the gradualist fossil record; the myth of beneficial mutations, which just haven't been found; the myth of natural selection; the myth that evolution is blind; the myth of the beak of the finch; the myth of vestigial organs; the myth of homology; the myth of the missing link. There's a whole long long list of myths. Add them altogether and you get Darwinism." It is important to understand, however, that "Darwinism" was transformed in the early years of the 20th Century into the mechanistic, reductionist theory of "neo-Darwinism". Combine the idea of favorable mutation occurring by chance and being preserved in the majority of offspring, with the natural selection process, and you've got the theory that is taught everywhere in the world today. Neo-Darwinism implies, "that living creatures are machines whose only goal is genetic replication -- a matter of chemistry and statistics."
"The Survival of the Fittest" = Just Stating the Obvious?
The first question Milton asked was how do you measure one of the tenets of Darwinism: the survival of the fittest. How do you measure fitness of an animal or plant? As he told us, "The answer Darwinists give is by its capacity to survive. If it has a high capacity to survive, it's very fit. If it doesn't have a high capacity to survive, it's not very fit. So, how is survival measured then? Well, that's simple. You measure survival by the number of offspring left. If it lives to a great age and breeds many, many offspring, then its survival factor is very high. So, fitness ultimately means breeding success. The trouble is survival is also measured by breeding success. So, survival of the fittest means breeding success of the successful breeders. It's just tautology. And it's not just me that says that. Conrad Waddington, a Professor of Biology at Edinburgh University, said, 'Natural selection, which was at first considered as though it were a hypothesis that was in need of experimental or observational confirmation, turns out on closer inspection to be a tautology, a statement of an inevitable although previously unrecognized relation.' He says that the fittest individuals in a population defined as those who leave most offspring, will leave most offspring. That's perhaps a useful way of putting things, but remember what we're looking for here is the engine of evolution. I don't think a tautology of any kind is really advancing our scientific understanding of the world. These are just words. It's just a way in which we look at things and classify what's going on. We're not talking here about something which is fundamentally underlying the biological realm."
The Famous (Falsified) Chart of the Evolving Dog and Pony Trick
First and foremost, the theory of evolution according to Darwin is a theory of gradual change. Darwin noticed that every species varied. There were small variations from animal to animal. He bred pigeons and he discovered that by selecting pigeons he could change their appearance, their coloring, quite dramatically over just a few generations. And so he thought about what would happen in nature, and the idea we've all been taught in school is that a favorable adaptation, like a long beak in a bird, will result in offspring with longer and longer beaks until it stops being a favorable adaptation. But as Milton found, there is absolutely no evidence of any species anywhere gradually changing into another species (like the idea that an ape evolved into a human). Transitional species are missing entirely from any and all fossil records. As Milton said, "There is a discontinuity between stratum and every species. Nowhere in the world can you find an ice section of 20, 30 or 40 strata and a species gradually changing into another species and then another and another. And really this should be the norm if life evolved as Darwin imagined. That's what the rocks ought to show, but they don't show it anywhere." Most scientists have been taking this concept on an act of faith, but one or two individual scientists have apparently taken it upon themselves to supply the missing evidence. "For example," said Milton, "you look at the very eminent and distinguished paleontologist George Simpson (of Harvard and Columbia Universities) who produced a chart of horses, which I'm sure everybody will remember from their school days, showing the horse evolving from a very small, dog-like creature 50 million years ago, through something the size of a small pony, up to the modern horse. He did so on the basis of fossils, and he was absolutely emphatic that this chain was complete and there was no possibility of error. But if you read his own book, he admits that there are actually gaps in that sequence that we've all seen in the encyclopedias. And that they are unbridgeable gaps, so actually it is really just supposition that these animals are related, and they could be an ancestor and have a descendant relationship certainly, but the proof is missing." (Click here to see the whole chart.)
Homeostasis - the Horse is still a Horse
Genetic homeostasis was coined by Ernst Mayr who was Professor of Zoology at Harvard, who pointed out that if you try to cross-breed any animal or plant, you will eventually reach a point where you can't breed any further. As Milton explained, "You can breed a horse for being fast like an Arab Stallion, or you can breed it for being very strong so it can pull a plow or heavy loads. But there's a limit to how far you can go. It remains the horse is still a horse. It reaches a point where it won't change any further. The first time that this was discovered was when people discovered you could crystallize sugar from sugar beets. So they thought this is a great alternative sort of sugar. What we need now is a sugar beet with a lot of sugar in it. The common sugar beet only had about 5% of sugar, so they started cross breeding the high sugar yield types, and it went up 5%, 10%, 15%, then it got to, I think, about 17%, and that's where it stayed. It doesn't matter what you do, it doesn't matter how many high yield sugar beets you cross, you're not going to get any more than 17%. You just reach this barrier, this limit, this genetic homeostasis beyond which it won't pass. Now the funny thing is that every Darwinist that you talk to will acknowledge this. If you say to them, what about genetic homeostasis, they say, okay we accept that. And then they completely forget all about it and say, oh yeah, of course, and a microbe can turn into an elephant given enough time."
The Racism of Darwin
As most people are, Richard Milton says he was considerably disenchanted when he first discovered the racist attitudes of Charles Darwin and his contemporaries. "I suppose you have to remember this was in the 1850s," he noted, "and slavery was still around. So, it's not surprising, perhaps, that people held racists views. But Darwin actually believed that the white races were bound to actually exterminate black people all over the world. He actually believed black people were a lower evolutionary order than white people, and that they were genetically different, and they were bound to be exterminated. I'm afraid that that kind of thinking, although there's absolutely no scientific foundation, we know it's rubbish, but that kind of thinking was perpetuated into the 20th Century and became the foundation for Nazism."
Alternatives to Neo-Darwinism?
As he says, there is no "Milton's Theory of Evolution" that he is proposing to take Darwin's place. But in looking around at the other theories proposed by scientists, Milton reported on several alternatives worthy of merit. "There is the Lamarckian idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics which is universally considered disproved because we know that in the gross sense it's not true. A weight lifter doesn't have muscular children, so it's clear that that kind of acquired characteristic isn't passed on. But having said that, there is some experimental evidence that some acquired characteristics can be passed on and these experiments [with sea squirts and salamanders] tend to be completely ignored by science.... It's just not regarded as being real evidence by scientists because it's completely anti-Darwinian." Other extraordinary discoveries from recent decades, particularly from Cairns at Harvard and Hall at Rochester University, suggest that microorganisms can mutate in a way that is beneficial, meaning perhaps evolution is actually directed in some unknown way.
Then, of course, there is the E.T. Hypothesis from Francis Crick, and Sir Fred Hoyle who has pointed out that fossil micro-organisms have been found in meteorites, indicating that life is universal rather than a chance occurrence on our planet. Crick was a co-discoverer of DNA and, as Milton pointed out, "you might think the archetypal kind of Darwinist scientist. But he himself has gone on record as saying that he found it incredible that something as complex as DNA molecules could have formed spontaneously on the Earth, given the conditions that we believe have existed on earth. And so he suggests that life has come from outer space. But he doesn't think that life could exist in space, so he thinks that if it arrived here it must have arrived like a message in a bottle. It must have been the elementary organism encapsulated in some kind of spaceship. So he thinks that we are aliens."
It is time for Biology to drop its mechanistic approach. "If you think about it, Biology seems to have escaped all the exciting developments taking place in science over the past 100 years," pointed out Milton. "You know, we've had this revolution in physics, haven't we? First of all, with Einstein and relativity, and then with Max Planck and quantum mechanics. But biologists are still thinking in Newtonian terms; they're still building their molecular models with the white and the red ping pong balls and tennis balls. They are the ones still carrying on almost in a 19th Century way, thinking about living things in this completely mechanistic Newtonian kind of paradigm, and they haven't taken on board at all any of the things that have been happening in physics." But the strange things we are now discovering in the quantum world are happening not just at the atomic level, but at the level of living things. These quantum phenomenon must affect us in some way, and when biologists turn their focus inward on them, the myths of Darwinism will be revealed for what they are.