Evolution And The Force
by Jesse L. Smith
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A family of ape-like creatures nestled around one another as the night cast shadows about the desolate wilderness they lived in. It had been a normal day for these creatures, filled with the normal routines of searching for food and grooming one another. The next morning however brought something unusual that the creatures had never before encountered. There in the midst of their habitation a sleek rectangular object, black with well defined edges stood upright with a foreboding appearance. The creatures, seized both with fear and fascination gathered around the mysterious object and began to cautiously poke and then carefully lay their hands on the strange form. Later that afternoon one of the creatures sat nonchalantly amidst a pile of bones when the afternoon sun cast its shadow over the rectangular black object. Suddenly the creature had an epiphany of some sort, and picking up one of the bones realized that it could be used as a tool to crush other bones. This was the dawn of man.
This scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey is not the only example in our culture of the idea that the process of evolution is somehow driven by a mysterious force in nature. Popular references to evolution often speak of it on a global level, with the idea that life is ‘trying’ to evolve. This gives evolution a personal aspect that is very different from the impersonal process taught in high school biology courses. Of course this should not really come as surprise since nature in modern thinking must also play the role of god. The concept of God as being a separate entity from nature has been rejected for the most part by popular thought, and therefore nature must be responsible for its own origin. Although evolution is taught as an impersonal process that requires no external influence, the logic behind this thinking fails when we consider what natural selection alone had to accomplish. The idea that natural selection alone could have produced all the life on this planet is little different from the assumption that spontaneous generation could instantly produce frogs from muddy puddles.
The principle of natural selection itself is very sensible and pragmatic. High school students are given very logical scenarios that demonstrate how the principle could operate in nature. For example a pack of wolves suddenly encounter a change in the environment that causes a severe drop in temperature throughout their habitat. Several members of the pack happened to have thicker coats that enable them to survive and reproduce more successfully in the colder temperature. In time through natural selection the entire population of wolves has thicker coats. After students have been instructed in this principle they are led to believe that this process was responsible for cells emerging from non-living elements, fish turning into salamanders, salamanders to lizards, lizards to birds, and so forth all the way to humanity. At first glance this seems somewhat plausible considering similarities that are universal to all life, but could all this change really have occurred through a gradual step by step process?
Once again theories that remove God as creator have the tendency to oversimplify life, as if living creatures were no more complex than play-doh with an infinite capacity to be shaped and molded into other things. But even if life were as simple as play-doh, the principle of natural selection requires that every change that occurs must be advantageous or confer some survival benefit in order to be transferred to the rest of the population. It is very easy to point out the survival benefits of limbs and wings, scales and feathers, vertebrate and invertebrate configurations – but what about the intermediate stages between them? A limb doesn’t turn into a wing overnight or through a single mutation, nor does a scale turn into a feather. The question must be therefore, what would be the survival benefit for transferring a trait to an entire population that is not yet fully functional? Evolution requires that every single mutation be beneficial in order to be transferred to a population. It has been suggested that the reason the first ‘fish’ crawled out of the water onto land was to exploit a yet untapped ecological niche. Once again this sounds reasonable, but at the same period of time invertebrate creatures were at their most highly evolved state with 3 meter scorpions and giant insects roaming around. What competitive advantage would such a creature have had in those circumstances?
If evolution had occurred in the way it has been suggested then the entire fossil record would be filled with play-doh like creatures having intermediate characteristics between fully functional forms. Although there are plenty of creatures that have variations of fully functional traits, these intermediate forms simply do not exist. Some of the most famous examples of so-called transitional forms turned out to be fully functional! The Coelacanth was once touted as the missing link between fish and land dwelling creatures with its fleshy limbs, until it was found still alive today. The famous missing link between birds and dinosaurs, Archaeopteryx – appears to be a fully functional creature with developed wings and feathers.
The problems with evolution are well known among scientists and researchers who themselves aren’t bound by their own version of ‘blind faith’. Really when it comes right down to it the battle over evolution is more of a philosophical debate about whether or not to acknowledge God. Of course acknowledging God is an unthinkable option for many that carries with it many unwanted social and cultural ramifications. If most scientists had to choose between God and aliens as the Creator of life on earth, hands down the choice would be aliens. Not surprisingly of course the ‘seed theory’ of life is becoming more popular among scientists – which states that we were planted here by aliens!
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