If Evolution Were True

One of the tests of the validity of a scientific theory is its ability to make predictions. The hypotheses which result can then either be validated or falsified by evidence. What kind of world would we be living in if the theory of evolution really were true? By pondering the answer to that question, we can then compare the world in which we are living to the hypothetical world that Darwin's theory might predict and see how closely they correspond to one another.

Pinning the evolutionary theory down to specific predictions is not easily done because as a theory it lacks rigorous definition. W. R. Thompson noted that Darwin's hypothesis as a result has a kind of "immunity to disproof."

Every characteristic of organisms is maintained in existence because it has survival value. But this value relates to the struggle for existence. Therefore we are not obliged to commit ourselves in regard to the meaning of difference between individuals or species since the possessor of a particular modification may be, in the race for life, moving up or falling behind. On the other hand, we can commit ourselves if we like since it is impossible to disprove our statement. The plausibility of the argument eliminates the need for proof and its very nature gives it a kind of immunity to disproof. Darwin did not show in the Origin that species had originated by natural selection; he merely showed, on the basis of certain facts and assumptions, how this might have happened and as he had convinced himself he was able to convince others.1

Though intelligent design and the selection and mutation mechanism can both explain some appearances of design, the two forms of causation work differently. For this reason, there are some features of living systems that we should expect only if mutation and selection had generated them, and other features or outcomes that we should expect if intelligent design had done so. And there are some features of the living systems that we should expect to find whether either cause was operative.

Stephen C. Meyer,
Signature in the Cell, p. 457

There is no analogous example of a complex system based on purely random, undirected events that can be used as a reference point in order to conjecture what kind of world might exist if Darwin's theory were true. If random processes have any ability to produce order out of disorder, no one will dispute that they represent an exceedingly inefficient means of doing so.2 Random processes in an evolutionary context are essentially a form of trial and error, with chance determining which variations survive and which ones perish. This process, in which selection is made without intelligence, was termed by Darwin in the subtitle to his major work, natural selection. In a world in which such selection is randomly made, there must be a huge number of selections available in order to produce any that are more favourable than the alternatives. According to the theory, for one particular selection to prevail over other possibilities, it must have a distinct advantage for survival. On reflecting on these requirements of evolutionary theory, it is possible to infer at least four predictions that result from the proposed selection process:

  1. Organisms, each competing with others in their own species to gain unique advantages from their genetic variability, would represent an incredible array of "trial and error" mechanisms in development. Organisms would be loaded with both nascent and vestigial organs and features in many stages of proto-development and obsolescence. The living world would be immediately perceived as a "work in progress," with virtually unlimited stages of completion across the spectrum of life.
  2. Earlier and primitive forms, necessarily eclipsed by more advanced forms in the competition for survival, would inevitably cease to exist.
  3. Variations that reduce the chances for survival would be selected against.
  4. Efficiency would be selected over inefficiency. Organisms that could mass produce in short cycle times would have an advantage. Any trait that contributed to inefficiency in the struggle for survival would be discarded. Elegance is not efficient and therefore is not predicted.

The natural world which we observe and experience does not bear witness to any of these predictions. It is wholly opposed to them. The evidence, on the other hand, is completely consistent with the design hypothesis in which the natural world is understood as the Creator's work.

1 - Is the natural world a "work in progress" or "finished work"?

When one observes the natural world, does it appear to be a "work in progress" with virtually unlimited experimentation in trait and function development and obsolescence occurring across the continuum of living things? Is nature one vast research and development laboratory with no intelligence in charge of the experiments? Does the natural world abound with living things with elaborate systems in development that serve no purpose, either because they are on the way to future function or on the way out of former utility? Or does the natural world appear to be a finished work, in which organisms are endowed with limited variability that enables versatility, and in which their form is completely sufficient for and suited to their function?

The theory is inherently illogical for this reason: If a small successive change would confer no survival advantage until it went through a whole series of cumulative changes, why would it be selected for preservation at any of the steps, having no conscious foresight and no capacity to plan indicative of intelligence? Darwin himself recognized this fundamental flaw in his reasoning: "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." [The Origin, Chapter 6].

2 - Have alleged earlier and primitive forms ceased to exist as they were out-competed for survival by their more advanced progeny?


2010 Navigator

An analogy to an early automobile assembly line on which the Ford Model-T was produced will serve to illustrate this point. The Ford Motor Company long ago ceased production of the Model-T, as it was replaced by today's more advanced designs. If Darwin's theory were true, the exact opposite has occurred in the natural world. Early prototypes of living things have continued in production alongside the more advanced models that should have replaced them. The whole reason for the more advanced models coming into existence was on account of their survival advantages over the less advanced earlier models. Why then have early models allegedly survived in many cases?

Flying ant in amber

There are many fossils of ants preserved in amber, such as the one depicted on the left, which are routinely dated in the 50 million to 100 million year range according to the assumptions of evolutionary theory. These fossil ants are identical with living representative. Natural selection does not account for the purported stasis of some species over millions of generations. Why have they not continued to evolve into new forms and why have the earlier forms not become extinct in the process?

3 - Is Sexual Reproduction A Survival Advantage?

Wild strawberry runners

Wild strawberry blossom

One of the great puzzles that is prevalent across both the plant and animal kingdoms is sexual reproduction. From a survival point of view, it is difficult to understand how sexual reproduction, in which a mate is required, would be an advantage over asexual production, in which the original organism could reproduce on its own. Strawberries provide an example of an organism that combines both means: strawberries blossom and set seed-containing berries, from which seeds new plants can be propagated, and they also send out runners and propagate asexually. If asexual reproduction provided a survival advantage, why would the strawberry plant continue to flower and produce seeds or vice versa? An organism that requires finding a mate in order to reproduce is intrinsically at a disadvantage for survival over one that can auto-reproduce. Furthermore, the evolution of sexual function is very difficult to explain through natural selection. Because it would require simultaneous compatible changes in both the male and female, in both the independent genetic instructions in the X and Y chromosomes and the functional body parts which the genetic codes' instructions built, it is an exceedingly improbable outcome which natural selection might reasonably be expected to select against.

4 - Why Was Elegance Selected For When It Is Not Efficient?

When Mao was in power in China, he directed that the people all wear the same uniform clothing, known as the "Mao suit", a single colour, military style look that was very similar for men and women. If the sole purpose for the existence of organisms was to relentlessly reproduce themselves in order to survive, we would expect to see the same kind of uniform efficiency in nature, a system of mass production that rewarded efficiency and selected against elegance. But it is not so: the natural world is replete with elegance in colour, pattern, motif, texture, flavour, odour, and many other sensory characteristics. These are aesthetic attributes that a mindless process could not appreciate and would have no capacity to select for. A mindless process driven by ruthless efficiency would have no time for such expressions of elegance. Mao's philosophies were heavily influenced by Darwin's theory.

Plant breeders use various techniques to select for desirable traits such as high yield and disease resistance. The improvements that have been made in crops like the strawberry, in which the fruit size and plant vigour have been greatly increased over the wild strawberry, are the result of intelligent, purposeful selections over many generations of the breeding material. The very concept of "selection" implies intelligent discrimination according to predetermined criteria. What Darwin did not know, since the genetic code was not discovered until 1953, nearly one hundred years after he published The Origin, is that genetic variation associated with sexual reproduction is paradoxical. While the genetic code allows for a wide range of variation, the range of variation is not unlimited. (Plant breeders constantly run up against the limits in their efforts to select for enhanced traits). The limit is set by the pre-existing information, the range by the ways in which it can be arranged. For Darwin's hypothesis to be valid, it must demonstrate that new information can be added to the genetic code by random processes. In a game of Euchre, there are many different outcomes when the cards are dealt. Which particular "hand" a player receives will be randomly determined but it will always be cards in the original deck. Darwin's hypothesis must explain how new types of cards get generated and added to the playing deck. This is the central issue with Darwin's theory. Not only has no explanatory mechanism been discovered, but the understanding of the complexity of the genetic code has led to the informed conclusion that all the probabilistic resources of the universe are not sufficient to explain its origin on naturalistic principles.

The natural world is not compatible with the natural selection hypothesis but it is fully explained by the design criteria selected by the original Maker. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good...And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. (Genesis 1:12,31). Vegetable organisms were designed as food and that explains their sensory appeal. Male and female were appointed to reproduce within the limits of variation in their genetic information "after their kind," reflecting foresight and versatility. The original creative work was finished in order to give pleasure to the Creator. Each of us needs to decide to which hypothesis to align our lives, based on the evidence at hand.

James Farrar, Grimsby, ON

1 Introduction to The Origin of Species, 6th Edition (1956) p. xii

2 As Stephen Meyer has shown in Signature in the Cell, the probabilistic resources of the entire universe are insufficient to account for the spontaneous organization of the genetic code. Undirected processes cannot produce complex information: information is the signature of intelligence. It might also be stated that the inefficiency inherent in the concept of natural selection is one compelling reason for rejecting theistic evolution, the idea that God used Darwinian processes to develop new life forms on earth.