HOLMBERG: Theory of evolution should be challenged – scientifically

Why does the apple fall from the tree to the ground?

The 325 year old law of gravity explains it.

In science, a  law is a theory that has been proven, without a shadow of a doubt.

A century and a half after Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, it remains a theory.

It hasn’t been proven, despite vast  excavations for fossils or amazing advances in unlocking the building blocks of life through chemistry and magnification.

Currently,  we have a new legislative challenge to teaching  evolution as fact in Virginia schools. (State Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell (R) pre-filed House Bill 207.)

It’s a social and philosophical tug-of-war as old as Darwin’s theory.

Even Darwin himself, 155 years ago, wondered why there are no  transitional fossils – missing links – between not only man and ape but between dog and cats, fish and amphibian.

In fact, all the animals alive today can be found in the most distant fossil records, although many have slowly changed over time to adapt to changing environments.

But nothing showing one species turning into another.

And yet, this theory of evolution is considered a law by many. It’s often taught in schools as a law. It is widely believed as a law.

Typically, anyone who doesn’t believe it is branded as a religious kook or an idiot.

Richard Neves, a Virginia Tech professior emeritus, has long fought this battle, despite being a nationally recognized scientist with an expertise in mussels.

“Those who are in charge of science in this country,” he said in a telephone interview, “from the National Academy of Sciences on down, they will not allow alternative hypothesis to be presented because their philosophical view is as strong as their scientific view.”

Almost religious in nature?

“It is,” Neves replied. “ . . . just as strong as any other typical religion we can think of. . .  they need to have a more open mind and look at the lack of evidence that does not support the neo-Darwinian theory.”

I’ll be that kook too. (Something I’m sure many of you had concluded long ago.) The holes in the theory are just too glaring.

Me, I have a bachelor of science in biology, and have a lifelong fascination with this study of life.

I am constantly amazed at the absolute certainty of peole who, armed with maybe one high school biology class, believe so completely and passionatey in the theory that man evolved from apes.

Of course, there is a lot of scientific support for the theory we can find in gene  maps, embryos and hair, scales and fingernails.

But no proof. We might yet find it under the oceans, or in a microscope slide.

But until then, why do so many cling so passionately to this theory?

You see the Darwin bumper stickers, the Darwin dog eating the creationism fish, and vice-versa.

Why – I mean, really – why are we set up in a simple, linear cultural war over this?  On one side we have the creationists, on the other the evolutonaries . . . tonight – a fight to the death!

Why just those two choices?

Darwin reportedly commented about the religious-like passion of those clinging to his theory shortly before his death..

There are those who say – with some accuracy – that it takes as much faith to believe in Darwinism as it does a divine creator.

Me, I have no idea what the answer is.

I don’t think a Biblical creationism should be taught in science classes.

I just wish evolution was taught as a theory – with some pretty glaring holes – instead of a law, and leave the door wide open for other possibilities so students could ponder where we come from and the resulting larger question: why are we here?

Ask yourself – why is it so important for you to believe in evolution?

Why are these words making many of you so  angry? (Please spend a moment examining the actual knowledge you have on this subject and measure that against your passion of your conviction. Take a breath. C’mon, a nice big one.)

Does the theory of evolution make you feel safe? Does it afford you  a fairly straightforward explanation for this thing called life, as direct and mathematical as explaining why the apple falls?

Maybe, just maybe, there’s something else – something we haven’t thought about, something we may not even be capable of thinking about.

What that is, I have no idea.

But one thing is for certain . . .  we won’t find it if we’re not looking for it.

63 comments

  • CRVP

    I don’t need to rehash a lot of what has already been said, but would like to point one thing out that has come up again and again with these comments.
    It seems there are several people who feel that evolution cannot be “proven” or replicated in any reliable way, so therefore the theory is flawed and is not true.
    I would suspect several of those making such claims lean more towards the creationist view of things. So I would then put the same argument to them. If evolution cannot be proven and therefore doesn’t exist, the same logic must hold true for creation theory as I have seen no hard evidence to support it.

    • DennisM

      You make a valid point. Do you really accept it both ways?
      Your point is better made in the context of unquided, naturalistic evolution versus the idea that living things show evidence of being designed by an intelligent agent. Intelligent Design (ID) is the moniker usually used for that, and it isn’t a religious concept nor is it accurate to call it creationism. But it and naturalistic evolution are equally unable to be proven and are equally “scientific”.
      ID has religious implications, as also does naturalistic evolution. But the implications are not the theory.

      • Stever

        The beliefs concerning the age of the universe has changed dramtically over time. There are both young and old earth/universe chronometers. Those who believe that abiogeneis took place some time in the distant past are operating by faith, and blind faith at that. It may take more faith to believe that life can spontaneous arise from inorganic sources by natural means than “In the beginning God created…”

  • JRVA

    two thoughts…
    first, the author claims to have a bachelor of science in biology. i do not doubt this is true as it is easy enough to verify or refute. i too have a bachelor of science in biology but do not claim to be an expert on evolution. yes, it was covered in intro bio, but the focus of my major was more on molecular physiology, so i wasn’t required to take any upper level courses on evolution. similarly, i wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on botany as that was not the focus of my major. don’t get me wrong – the author may have had a focus of evolution within his studies, but it is not stated in the article, and it would be foolish just to assume this is the case.

    second, in my opinion, people are arguing points that are fundamentally different. for me, religion, philosophy, etc deal more with the “why” and not really the “how.” of course there will be people who feel the bible should be taken literally, but i think the vast majority of people would agree that the bible is scientific text to explain the history of the earth. there is ample evidence that the earth really is more than 6000 year old, and anyone with at least a high school education should recognize this. science, on the other hand, explains the “how” and not the “why.” science doesn’t outright have a purpose or motive behind it – it just is. if a cell gets a mutation that makes it more advantageous, it doesn’t have a conscious to care. you can’t ask it, “why are you better?” – it just is, and as a result, it will survive compared to a similar organism without the added benefit.
    discussions about “why” are nice ones to have sitting around with friends of differing opinions who are open minded and not dogmatic in their views. people feel very passionately about these topics, but there are not clear “right” or “wrong” answers. you can believe what you feel is right and best for you, but recognize that your world view is not the only one.

    just my thoughts.

  • Nullifidian

    “Me, I have a bachelor of science in biology, and have a lifelong fascination with this study of life.

    “I am constantly amazed at the absolute certainty of peole who, armed with maybe one high school biology class, believe so completely and passionatey [sic] in the theory that man evolved from apes.”

    Yes, it’s clearly wrong to believe that evolution has occurred if you only have a high school biology class under your belt (never mind that one can self-educate through popularizations, textbooks, technical monographs, and even scientific papers—I’ve known lay people who could read and understand them), but having a bachelor’s degree allows you to go toe to toe with trained biologists with decades of experience on the subject of evolution. I can’t believe I just read something so positively dripping with idiocy as that.

    Perhaps you should have traded in your biology classes, which you obviously haven’t benefited from, for a few more English classes so that your articles wouldn’t turn out so incoherent and badly spelt.

    It’s also not hard to notice that for an article titled “The theory of evolution should be challenged scientifically”, you don’t actually present the scientific challenge to evolution. All you have shown is that you don’t like it and don’t understand it. But fortunately scientists are not required to convince a blowhard who thinks he’s got the number of evolutionary biologists on the strength of a few undergraduate survey courses.

    “Even Darwin himself, 155 years ago, wondered why there are no transitional fossils – missing links – between not only man and ape but between dog and cats, fish and amphibian.”

    And he answered his own question about why there might not be many transitional fossils known in his day. That’s what you can find out if you read the entirety of “On the Origin of Species” instead of just the carefully selected snippets creationists quote-mine. Furthermore, we are not obliged to cleave to Darwin’s understanding of the biological world, because a lot has happened in 155 years. Not only have we found numerous species of hominins (the transitional species between humans and our common ancestor with chimps—not between man and apes, because humans are apes), but we also have a very extensive fossil record of transitional tetrapods. Reading either Donald Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” for a general overview or Jennifer Clack’s “Gaining Ground: The Origin and Early Evolution of Tetrapods” for a specific focus on one transition will give you a much better knowledge of the current state of play in paleontology than you appear to possess.

    “In fact, all the animals alive today can be found in the most distant fossil records, although many have slowly changed over time to adapt to changing environments.”

    This is complete nonsense. It’s either a sign of such complete scientific illiteracy or such an egregious lie that you should be ashamed of yourself. We have fossil specimens that go back as far as the Paleoarchaean, roughly 3.5 Ga. So find the rabbits, find the deer, find the turtles, find the humans, find the bees, find the crickets, find the snails, etc. etc. I dare you. In fact, let’s waive three billion years and you can go find these species in 500 Ma deposits. This should be simple if you weren’t simply making it up when you claimed that “all [all, I remind you] the animals today can be found in the most distant fossil records”.

    “Darwin reportedly commented about the religious-like passion of those clinging to his theory shortly before his death..”

    The Lady Hope story? SERIOUSLY?!?! Do you not know anything about how to evaluate sources? Isn’t that rather a handicap for a journalist? Lady Hope’s story of Darwin’s deathbed conversion has been debunked ever since it was first put about, first by Darwin’s family, and one intrepid Darwin biographer, James Moore, wrote a book-length refutation called “The Darwin Legend”. Why don’t you actually start learning about evolutionary biology and the history of Darwin’s life from reliable sources BEFORE sounding off on it?

    Seriously, if this is the kind of “scientific challenge” evolutionary biologists can expect to field, they’ve got nothing to worry about.

  • Barry Desborough

    “Why does the apple fall from the tree to the ground?

    The 325 year old law of gravity explains it.

    In science, a law is a theory that has been proven, without a shadow of a doubt.

    A century and a half after Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution, it remains a theory.”

    Hopelessly muddled. I can hardly believe that a Bsc does not understand the differences between “law” and “theory”, and what they mean in the scientific context. I wonder where you got your degree?

    Gravity does not _explain_ why an apple falls. It _describes_ how an apple falls. And Newtonian gravity was replaced by Einstinian gravity. So it was hardly cast in stone.

    A law is not a theory. It is not something to be proven. It is an observed regularity of nature. There is no guarantee that no exceptions to it will ever be found.

    A theory is an explanation for an observed regularity.

    And yes, evolution has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Here is proof that chimps and humans share common ancestry, http://www.evolutionarymodel.com/ervs.htm

    “I don’t think a Biblical creationism should be taught in science classes.”

    Well, there is that, at least, but you should take a good hard look at the sort of kooks who are pushing “teach the controversy”. Creationist fruit-bats – every last one of them.

    • DennisM

      It’s interesting that no one tries to persuade us of the validity of gravity by saying it is as solid a theory as evolution. Quibbles about “how” versus “why” are beside the point. We can describe precisely how gravity works and predict its actions in advance. Nothing like that is possible with evolution — no way no how, even after 150+ years. Whatever we observe today is whatever evolved, and the stories keep getting more elaborate. Similar traits in widely different creatures are examples of “convergent” evolution, unless they are widely dissimilar traits in similar creatures, then it’s divergent. Traits are selected according to what is more fit for the environment, unless they are not, because they were selected by sexual preference. “Trees of life” built according to form vary widely from those built according to genes and even others according to proteins. No one can predict what will evolve, because whatever we see today is simply assumed to be what was most “fit.” But we know evolution happened, because… we need for it to have happened.
      You won’t be persuaded by this, but maybe you might be a little less strident in your own certainty.

  • Sandybritches@yahoo.com

    Gee Mark, people came out from under the rock to get you.
    Wish i knew euough to comment, i got a headache from trying
    to understand it, but you seemed to have people ranting this
    time.

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