Darwin's Creation Myth*
*Italicized because it's also the title of Alexander Mebane's brilliant 75-page monograph that sports these subtitles as well: What It Is; How It Has Proved Unfit; Why It Survives. (No ISBN#. Available only from The Sourcebook Project, POB 107, Glen Arm, MD 21057 USA. US$7.95 +US $1.50 postage in the USA.)
The post-Darwinist, er, "position"Interviewer: What causes a new species to arise?
Post-Darwinist: I dunno, and neither does anyone else. But it sure isn't "natural selection" à la Darwin, since that's only a subtractive method and by definition can't create anything new, certainly not a whole new species. All it does is kill off what doesn't work of various random mutations inside a species. It's impossible to conceive even of getting from a randomly occurring photo-sensitive cell in an organism to the camera-type, ball-shaped eye we have via "natural selection." And whatever else may be the case, something more than just "random chance" -- as required by Darwinism -- is clearly at work both to develop an eye or to generate a new species. What that is. . .ah, there's a whopper mystery!
Interviewer: Oh, so you must be a "Creationist" then. . .??
Post-Darwinist: Nope. Just a "post"-Darwinist*. . .in a holding pattern. . .but with a little bit of "attitude". For instance, I love evolutionary theorist, Sir Fred Hoyle's, famous joke about the Miller-Urey hypothesis. This was the "pre-biotic soup" of gases and other molecules struck by lightning, whereupon some parts of it became proto-amino acids which are essential building blocks of life. This 1950s experiment has become a Darwinist staple in classrooms everywhere to "explain" the origins of life on earth. It is, of course, seriously defective and incomplete as Hoyle notes when pointing out that even a one-celled living organism emerging by chance from such a pre-biotic soup is about as likely as that "a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein."
Click here for a 2002 article from NEXUS by Lloyd Pye that goes into full and witty detail about the problems with the Darwinist approach to human origins I'm sketching here. For an excellent, detailed critique of all the problems with the "pre-biotic soup" idea, see Pye's recent [late '97] book with the delightfully challenging title, Everything You Know Is Wrong: Book One - Human Origins. The section headed, "What is Life?" [p.10ff] will strip your grade-school science teacher's, er, "explanations" right to the funny bone. And click here for another article giving more background especially about the notorious tautology properly attributed to Edmund Spencer, not Darwin, "survival of the fittest". The piece refers liberally and well to Richard Milton's recent book, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism (2000). See our Bibliography page for more.
Interviewer: Well, if you're not a Darwinist, how can you be talking about "evolution" at all?
Post-Darwinist: Right. A thorny issue. What Darwinists themselves seldom notice is that to use the term "evolution" at all in the context of what they interpret to be just a random set of events is an oxymoron. "Evolution" implies that there was some goal or plan involved before the process started, however dimly conceived it may have been. In common usage, something can be considered to be "evolving" only if it's going somewhere. So, encountering this contradiction right at the "front door", so to speak, any newcomer to the issues of evolutionary theory is bound to get a headache in a hurry.
New Being Project staffer: Let me break in here for a minute and explain how, in light of the language problem you just pointed out, we can still use a phrase like "evolutionary jump": Quite honestly, it's mostly by default. Darwinism is unsupportable even by the fossil record; creationism is clearly badly flawed and its advocates typically extremely dogmatic (though no moreso than the mainstream academic Darwinists). But, however flawed both positions are, something big and enormously important has been going on among all the organisms here on this planet for uncountable millions of years. Something that goes through lots of changes. The fossil record alone is adequate testimony to that, sometimes showing whole phyla suddenly disappearing (with and without natural catastrophes) and -- even weirder -- suddenly appearing, without a trace anywhere of the ancestry required by Darwin's theory. In fact, sudden movements and long plateau periods** are much more the rule than gradual changes, thus we can suspect the possibility of a "jump" in the works. . . .But, of course, it's also technically incorrect to use the word "evolution" for this process, since we have no idea where it's going or, indeed, if it's going anywhere. Maybe closer to correct would be "non-linear cladistic variability with apparent increasing complexity over time" or another piece of high-tech jargon. Trouble is: Who'd understand what we're saying at all if we wrote stuff like that? So until the post-Darwinist, er, "position" gets a firmer foothold and is not so scary to the Establishment (who mistakenly fear that the only alternative is fundamentalist, Bible-thumping Creationism). . .well, oxymoronic "evolution" it'll have to be. And the inelegant, almost disco-dance-step, phrase, "evolutionary jump." Anything else is Yawn City for most readers.
Post-Darwinist: I just want to add one more point about how scared the mainstreamers seem to be running. Not only do they immediately try to brand anyone who questions Darwinism a "Creationist", they pull another subtler, but even less logical trick: They claim we have no basis to argue against Darwinism unless we can adequately replace it. "However wrong the current answer may be, it stands until a better answer arrives. It is as if a criminal defendant were not allowed to present an alibi unless he could also show who did commit the crime."*** How this strategy squares with any notion of "scientific inquiry" is beyond me.____________________
*Enjoying some good company: Lyn Margulis, co-author of the Gaia Hypothesis; Otto Schindewolf, David Raup of the Field Museum in Chicago; Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA; Michael Denton (Evolution: A Theory in Crisis); Karl Popper ("Darwinism is not really a scientific theory because natural selection is an all-purpose explanation which can account for anything, and which therefore explains nothing."); chemist Robert Shapiro (Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to Creation of Life on Earth); MIT's Robert Wesson (Beyond Natural Selection); British primatologist Solly Zuckerman; and many more.
**This sequence was dubbed "punctuated equilibrium" ("punk eek" to his students) by premier US paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould.
***Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991) p. 8. Along with Mebane's book, referenced at the top of the page, this is the other best post-Darwinist book. UC Berkeley law professor Johnson inspects Darwin's theory and particularly modern Darwinism, using the rules of evidence that would apply in a court. Thorough, witty, leaves you at the end with your feet planted firmly in mid-air about the question, "Where did we come from??!!"
The above brief romp is a work-in-progress. This page and links from it to sub-pages under it will always be "under construction". I'll add more as I discover it through reading or research. I welcome and will post relevant contributions from you as well. If you email them to me and are willing for me to use them in whole or in part, please say so in your letter. -DP