Science is dynamic; the more we discover, the more our textbooks should change to reflect that. Therefore, the ignorantly static nature of biology curricula today boggles my mind and should infuriate you, the victim of this strange phenomenon: the willful rejection of modern scientific evidence.
You know that Charles Darwin revolutionized classroom science with “The Origin of Species” in the 1850s. You may not know that his last chapter explains how fossil evidence among other things would eventually confirm or negate his theory. What you won’t read about, for reasons akin to conspiracy, is that evidence has indeed been found that almost categorically disproves Darwin’s evolutionary theory. A century and a half later, I have to wonder why we’re not allowed to think outside the Darwinian box.
Darwin was a clever guy. He had questions about what he observed in nature, and he devised a way to make sense of it all. We call this theorizing. With a theory, protocol typically mandates that its viability be tested through research and investigation. So let’s look at that.
Darwin was pretty sure that fossil evidence would soon fill the gaps in his theory and demonstrate the evolutionary progression of species. The past thirty years in particular have yielded a lot of fossil evidence. Instead of a gradual chain of developments, it has shown the “sudden appearance of nearly all the animal phyla, and they appear fully formed,” reports former Chicago Tribune legal editor turned pastor Lee Strobel. This creates an uncomfortable situation for proponents, and it only gets worse.
There’s a tricky concept called “irreducible complexity” that is the monkey wrench Darwin feared. His theory works in miniscule steps such that if you can find any system that could not have been achieved through mini-steps or that wouldn’t work without all of its components, it’d be out the window. Darwin knew this, and challenged anyone to find an example. Biochemist Michael Behe did just that and more, actually finding lots of them including “mechanisms blood clotting, cellular transport mechanisms, antibody defense against disease and the cilium – a whip-like structure that some cells use to swim with.” Take away any component and you have nothing; another nail in the coffin.
Let’s take it further. The whole concept of evolution hinges on the possibility that life could have spontaneously begun. Macroevolution presupposes that over vast periods of time, inanimate matter could eventually give life to itself. The absence of corroborating evidence leads creationists to contend that only intelligent design can explain animation. There are many sub-theories that have tried, over the years, to prove that spontaneous life is possible – and they’ve systematically fallen by the wayside.
In 1953, University of Chicago graduate student Stanley Miller performed an experiment to prove that spontaneous life was not only possible, but inevitable. He combined several elements and succeeded in creating amino acids in what was considered the biggest boost for evolutionism among scientists.
Then in the 1980s, it was proven not only that none of those elements were present in the primordial soup, but that he’d fixed the experiment intentionally, and that even creating amino acids in no way proved that they would spontaneously order themselves into proteins and eventually living tissue. But you’ll find that a lot of textbooks still cite that and other shady events as evidence, suspiciously failing to tell you how utterly they were disproved. You should be feeling robbed right about now.
Dr. Walter L. Bradley, co-author of “The Mystery of Life’s Origins,” notes that Darwin’s research demonstrated the enormity of the problem of the origin of life rather than explaining it. If there is no natural explanation forthcoming, then “people who believe that life emerged naturalistically need to have a great deal more faith than people who reasonably infer that there’s an intelligent designer,” he said.
When a theory is found to have missed the mark, it becomes history, not science. We learn, move on, and start theorizing again. It’s called progress. That macroevolution continues to be taught as the primary accepted theory is baffling in a country that purports to value objective scientific fact. And that such a large contingent stubbornly supports a crumbling theory means it has some reason to fear the alternatives.
Since we’re all about theorizing, I’ll go out on a limb and say that there’s a perceived moral responsibility wrapped up in admitting that Darwin is a dinosaur, and maybe we’re just not that brave yet. Still, the results are in and they all point to intelligent design. If that smacks distastefully of religious rhetoric to some, or carries uncomfortable moral implications, that’s a shame. But to ignore the evidence is decidedly unscientific.
If scientists, textbooks and our esteemed professors would act a little less like obstinate children and more like objective seekers of truth, your education might have progressed beyond the 19th century.
Elizabeth Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.