Book Review: A Meaningful World

                  The authors of A Meaningful World are a powerful tag team, both bringing significant experience into their book. Dr. Benjamin Wiker has three degrees: a BA in political philosophy, an MA in Religion, and a PhD in Theological Ethics. He has taught a vast collection of university courses including philosophy, theology, history, mathematics, and most relevant to this book, the history and philosophy of science. He is currently a senior fellow at the Veritas Center for Ethics and Public Life, as well as director of Human Life Studies. He is the author of twelve books.[1]

                  Dr. Jonathan Witt is a senior contributor and managing editor at The Stream and a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. He is a established author, both in academic journals and scripts for documentaries. He was the lead writer for the award winning film Poverty Inc.[2] Dr. Witt’s experience and writing skills are brilliantly melded with the experience and all around knowledge of Dr. Wiker to produce an amazing book. Their incentive is to defeat this poison of purposelessness that has welled up in our culture.

                  A Meaningful World is a targeted attempt to prove that nature is overflowing with value and meaning. All too often, reductionism and materialism steal the depth of richness originally understood to exist. In an attempt to combat the desire for immediate, straightforward answers stemming from a reductionist mentality, the authors take their time and lay out each and every proof before hitting home with the punch line. Instead rushing through their proofs, they make sure the beauty and purpose shine through in each situation. This is clearly one of the books strengths, though it is sure to annoy those who desire instant gratification.

                  Wiker and Witt begin their adventure with the basic outline of what it means to have meaning and how our culture has wandered away from finding value or purpose in the things around us. Our culture has become so calloused to the meaning in things that even the brilliance of Shakespeare is undermined and taken for granted.  Even Richard Dawkins, with all his education and knowledge, takes a quote from Hamlet and fails to comprehend that its meaning far surpasses its immediate words, but instead is an integral part of the entire play.

                  After playing with Shakespearian brilliance, Wiker and Witt turn to the meaningful nature of mathematics. A quote from Einstein encapsulates the chapter incredibly well: “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”[3] Mathematics is an immaterial concept that humans can use to explain or describe mechanisms and processes or even probabilities in nature. Of all things, mathematical equations are some of the best descriptions for understanding the universe beyond all else. Why should such an immaterial concept be able to explain things so well? Why do we find pleasure in the harmony and orderly nature of math? It is because it shows meaning. A purposeless conglomeration of matter and energy need not be comprehensible like we see it, but we do see it in incredibly organized ways.

                  Once the reader finishes reading about the wonderful simplicity in geometry, Wiker and Witt turn to chemistry for one of the most underrated, yet most incredible descriptions of order and purpose in the world: the periodic table of elements. Students and adults alike may see it and glaze over it all the time, but it contains some of the most orderly collection of data about the physical world that has ever been discovered. Brilliant minds in history gained understanding of the atomic nature of matter, and men like Mendeleev took that and found the reoccurring patterns of atomic mass and atomic behavior. He understood this so much that he could predict the mass and nature of an undiscovered element! Why would the universe have such meaning and order without a purposeful existence?

                  A Meaningful Worldmoves on into the field of cosmology. In cosmology, they weigh similar arguments as Gonzales and Richards in their book Privileged Planet, where they conclude that the factors that make a planet habitable also make it perfect for discovery. From the perfect size and alignment of our moon to help us discover the composition of the sun via perfect solar eclipses, or the healthy positioning of the solar system in the galactic habitable zone, or even the clear atmosphere that allows for the perfect vantage point for discovery, the cosmos are overflowing with hints that we are  put here to be able to see the rest of the universe. Yet again, we see intention and order where so many claim there is only chaos and chance.

                  The authors wrap up by bringing their book home to us: life based upon cells. Reductionism has been attacking the incredible complexity and purpose in living things. DNA, Proteins, RNA, and life itself is threatened with being downgraded to being defined by its abiotic parts and chemical reactions instead of being shown to have incredible complexity and purpose all the way through.

                  I highly recommend this book to any who are tired of the nihilistic outcome of modern scientific reductionism. The writing is easy enough for a high school student to understand, yet rich enough for a literary expert to find artistic. We need more people to realize how the universe is overflowing with meaning and purpose. There is only so much that mankind can take of this mentality of worthlessness before we begin to treat, not only ourselves, but also others as being of little to no value. Dr. Wiker and Dr. Witt have turned on a bright light in the midst of such dreary darkness. This book, like life itself, is meaningful.


[1] http://www.benjaminwiker.com/benjamin-wiker.html

[2] https://stream.org/author/jonathanwittjayrichards/

[3] Albert Einstein, quoted by Wiker and Witt, A Meaningful World, page 83

Book Review: Darwin’s Doubt

Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, author of Darwin’s Doubt, is a former geophysicist and college professor. His Ph.D. in the philosophy of science is from the prestigious Cambridge University. The prominent Times Literary Supplement named his previous book Signature in the Cell “Book of the Year” in 2009. This current book, Darwin’s Doubt, was a New York Times best seller. Currently, he is the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.[1] Any open-minded reader can see and understand the clarity and thoroughness of Dr. Meyer’s research that leads to the inevitable conclusion that Darwinian evolution is in a fatal crisis.

            Darwin’s Doubt is named after what Charles Darwin himself admitted to be the weakest points of his argument for evolution by natural selection and the common descent of life: the fossil record. While modern evolutionists will tout the fossil record as one of their greatest strengths, even Darwin knew that his whole theory was shakily founded when it came to the evidence of the fossil record. One event in particular hidden down deep in the strata of the Earth’s crust holds the evidence of a sudden appearance of new an unique animal body plans. We call this event the Cambrian Explosion.

            During the Cambrian Explosion, we see a sudden appearance of fossilized animals not seen in previous layers. By Darwinian evolutionary mechanisms, we should see the gradual changes from a common ancestor, changing step by step up to other, more complex creatures. This gradual diversification was visualized as Darwin’s tree of life, a common illustration even in modern biology textbooks; however, this tree of life is being pulled up by its roots. Instead of finding that gradual increase in complexity, we go from small, soft-bodied organisms to a sudden burst of assortment. From the small Morella to the armored trilobite with its incredible compound eyes, to many others that represent most of the modern phyla. Could random mutation and natural selection account for such sudden change? Dr. Meyer doesn’t think so.

            Unbeknownst to Darwin, living organisms are built and run using blueprints found in a complex molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short. Many evolutionists rejoiced at the news, drafting the mutation of that molecule into their theory with gusto; yet, as Dr. Meyer argues, the amount of DNA required to build new structures and new animal forms is not something that can be done step by step over long periods of time. Like the uploading of a new application or operating system in a computer or smart phone, gaining new abilities like those found in the Cambrian strata require a large, organized input of brand new information. This information is clearly a bane for naturalistic evolution.

            As is logically seen in computer codes and other forms of written language, meaning is inevitably destroyed when put through a series of random changes. Evolutionists assume that the small, successive changes will help climb “Mount Improbable,” but they don’t realize that those small steps can go backwards down the mountain twice as fast as they go up. If the whole code is not suddenly inputted into the organismal DNA, then no new animal or new organ is ever feasibly going to appear. No current natural mechanism can explain the sudden appearance of this new upload of information in these unique Cambrian organisms.

            To explain where such information could have come from, one must know where these information rich molecules come from too. DNA, RNA, and proteins are all complex in size and shape, as well as specific in their organizational patterns. Where could they have come from? This line of questioning leads us into one of the biggest conundrums evolutionists will ever face: which came first? In true chicken and egg fashion, we see that DNA, RNA and proteins are all joined in indispensible interconnectivity. DNA is duplicated by complex protein machines. Similar proteins produce copies of that DNA into RNA, which in turn leaves the cell’s nucleus to code for the formation of the proteins. DNA needs both RNA and proteins to survive and reproduce. RNA needs DNA and proteins to do the same. Proteins need DNA, RNA and other functional proteins to come about. Which came first? If all are so vitally indispensible to the others, then no step-by-step process can be used to explain their origin. We only see such interdependence within engineered systems, drawing us to a conclusion of intelligent design.

            Dr. Stephen Meyer does a terrific job summarizing the case against Neo-Darwinism and naturalistic explanations for the sudden appearance of new Cambrian animals. His case-by-case rebuttal of the leading modern hypotheses is thorough and convincing. Meyer shows readers why he is a leading voice in the Intelligent Design debate with his thought provoking case against the evolutionary paradigm’s history of the Cambrian Explosion.

            Very little could be added to Dr. Meyer’s book. Not only did he invest significant effort in the rebuttals of a wide range of evolutionary hypotheses, but turned each on its head and pointed back to the core evidence. Richard Dawkins’ Mount Improbable no longer has a gradual slope at its back, but rather sheer cliffs on all sides. The conclusion of Intelligent Design is not only logical, but Meyer’s arguments make it seem inescapable.

            Darwin’s Doubt is an incredible book for any open to hearing evidence against the dogmatic theory of evolution. It does not take a trained scientist to comprehend Dr. Meyer’s entire book either. An interested layman—even a high school student—could sink their teeth into this text and come away with a significant case for Intelligent Design.


[1] Stephencmeyer.com/bibliography

The Speciation of the Word “Species.”

How the lack of a solid definition for “species” undermines evolution.

            The foundation of Darwinian evolution is constant change over eons of time. Change is the cornerstone of evolution. Evolution by natural selection requires the continual changes in organismal life to not only be possible, but common enough to lead in a net upward direction. From the first cellular life all the way up the branches of the tree of life to diversify into things as fascinating as monarchs, manatees and men, and as wonderful as worms, wombats and women, change must continue in that ascending trend. The diversity of life on Earth is absolutely astonishing. According to Live Science contributor Stephanie Pappas, there may be upwards of one trillion species on the Earth.[1] After centuries of study and exploration, mankind has just barely scratched the surface of such a huge number.

            According to Darwin’s theory, all of these species have diversified within the 3.8 billion years life is estimated to have been around. As the theory is commonly presented, organisms transition from one kind to another over time with slight changes caused by mutations and guided by environmental pressures. These change are deemed the norm, with a nearly limitless amount of physical transformation possible. All you need add is time and the right environment and voilà, a new species appears. But how does one know if a new species has appeared? What does the term “species” even mean exactly?

            As simple and elegant as this seems, the transition of species to species is actually quite difficult. Not only are such transitions unremittingly rare, but the whole process of speciation encounters significant trouble when one analyzes the modern evidence. The phenotypically selected traits prized by artificial selection have not once lead to the creation of a new body plan, and wild organisms show little signs of change outside of a limited range of changes. What holds organisms back? Why do some organisms appear unchanged over the eons while others are claimed to have transformed so drastically? What if this elegant theory of common descent was nothing but a façade? What if it is like the little man behind the curtain in Emerald City, deceiving a nation into granting him authority over it?

I. Defining Species

            Evolutionists claim that natural selection can work its wonders by changing an organism little by little. The first major hurdle is the species level, and many claim that we have clear evidence of it being breeched by evolutionary mechanisms. Such changes are then assumed to add up to larger changes over eons, which would clearly be impossible to study due to the limited time mankind has had to observe. The issue, however, lies in the moving goal post in this argument. Often, it is claimed that a new species has been formed via evolution, yet few seem to realize that we do not yet have a single, unified definition of a species. Most definitions focus closely on the ability of similar organisms to breed and reproduce fertile offspring, while others lean more towards geological isolation, but the emphases varies far more than some realize. One survey of the literature discovered a startling thirty-two definitions for biological species![2] For a term as freely used as “species,” one would think there would be some semblance of agreement on what it actually means in the life sciences.

            Here we have a hidden conundrum in the field of biology: what is a species? Evolutionists shout from the rooftops every time they discover another example of speciation, yet what does speciation even mean when the meaning of “species” lacks a firm foundation? Are the goal posts of what is considered a species changing each time they argue for evolutionary speciation? How can such large claims of evolutionary change be substantiated when we don’t even know what separates organisms at this level? It seems that the evolutionary tree of life is planted in loose sand rather than fertile soil.

II. Speciation and Evolutionary Theory

            To unravel this mystery, one must first understand the evolutionary concepts of how new creatures arise through a process called speciation. According to National Geographic, there are five types of speciation: allopatric, peripatric, parapatric, sympatric, and artificial.[3] Four of these are said to occur naturally, while artificial speciation is done with the guidance of human breeders.

            “Allopatric speciation occurs when a species separates into two separate groups which are isolated from one another.”[4] For example, if a canyon, river, or mountain range comes between two sections of a population, it becomes impossible for them to interbreed, allowing them to diversify in different ways depending on the common environmental stresses of their particular habitats. Over time, these populations diversify to the point that they would not interbreed with their parent community on the other side.

            Peripatric speciation is very much like allopatric in that a section of the population becomes isolated.  “The main difference between allopatric speciation and peripatric speciation is that in peripatric speciation, one group is much smaller than the other.”[5] When left with a smaller population, the direction of change is much more pointed depending on the genes available in the limited gene pool.  Any recessive traits present will become more pronounced in the little population.

            Parapatric speciation is said to occur when a species is spread out over a large geographic area. “Instead of being separated by a physical barrier, the species are separated by differences in the same environment.”[6] While each individual could possibly mate with all the others, they are far more likely to mate with those in their own geographic region or specific habitat niche, giving a form of isolation in geographic pockets.

            The last of the natural speciation types is a bit more controversial, owing to the fact that some scientists doubt its existence in nature. Sympatric speciation is the model that supposes that new characteristics could develop spontaneously in a population without any barriers. Such a drastic leap is difficult to argue. Such spontaneous changes are counter-intuitive to the slow, step-by-step process of evolution by natural selection.

            The last method of speciation is one often used to argue that speciation is possible in the first place. Artificial speciation is that breeding of organisms guided by humans. Darwin himself was an avid breeder of pigeons, producing all sorts of colors, shapes and sizes in his flocks, which helped trigger his interest in the variability of organisms. We also know that we can breed chickens to be fatter, cows to produce better milk, and even plants to produce everything from brussel sprouts to broccoli. It is quite clear that organisms have the capability to change—some to very drastic lengths—but are we truly seeing enough change to conclude that organisms can change past the species—let alone genus—levels? Can life really start as a single cellular organism and change within 4-5 billion years into the trillion organisms we see today? All these modes of speciation seem great in theory and feasible on paper, but can they explain the arrival of every organism that has ever existed? Can we even see such changes occurring today?

III. Examples of Speciation: Finches

            One of the most famous examples are Darwin’s Finches, found on the Galapagos Islands where the young Charles landed during his voyage on the Beagle. As the story goes, each Island had finches of similar stature, but each had a different beak variation, giving them specializations in different food sources. The large beaked finches sought the hard seeds and nuts, while the pointy, narrow beaked finches hunted insects. As the story goes, Darwin noted the similarities and was inspired towards his theory of natural selection.

            Sadly, this story holds little truth. Darwin did not use the finches in his books. In reality, the legend of “Darwin’s finches” was actually contrived a century later. Some textbooks also tell students that a slight increase in the average size of finch beaks, observed after a severe drought in the 1970s, shows how natural selection could produce a new species in only two hundred years. What these textbooks fail to mention is that the change was reversed when the rains returned, and no net evolution occurred.[7]

The real picture of these finches shows a constant oscillation during the wet and dry years, with no net gain on either side of the adaptations. We even note that hybrids between the finch varieties are evolutionarily more fit, showing a likely merging of the different species.[8] True speciation has not occurred with these iconic finches.

            In a recent study, it was claimed that these very finches had yet again produced a new species. In an article published by Audubon, “an Española Cactus-Finch… had crossed miles of ocean to mingle with the local Medium Ground-Finches.”[9] This finch from a different Island with a different sized beak not only got to this other Island, but proceeded to breed with the native female finches. Their offspring were nicknamed the “Big Bird” lineage, and in three generations, the hybrids were breeding exclusively with other hybrids. Evolutionary biologists, of course, herald this, as clear evidence of speciation and evolution at work; yet some problems arise when one digs deeper.

            What makes one species of finch different than another? When a horse and a donkey breed, their offspring, the mule, is infertile. The mule is considered a hybrid between these two separate species due to that infertility. With these finches, the researchers clearly identify the finches on each Island as different species. If we define species—as many do—to refer to the ability of species to produce fertile offspring, where does that take this “new species?” If this Española Cactus-Finch was a different species, formed over time by allopatric speciation, wouldn’t that mean it could no longer breed with the Medium Ground-Finches of this other Island? Not only did they breed successfully, but also their offspring were clearly fertile! If many of the definitions are considered accurate, then their offspring—being fertile—wouldn’t be hybrids of two different species, but instead their parents would be considered the same species!  As we clearly see with the mule, even their definition of hybrid is flawed here, since they identify the offspring of the two finches as hybrids, yet the hybrids clearly could breed. The finish line of speciation has changed multiple times, constantly getting closer to the runners to make the race easier to win. Clearly, if we do not have solid definitions for species or hybrids, the words can mean whatever they want one to mean as long as it supports evolution.

IV. Contradiction of Speciation: Dogs

            In a sneaky contradiction of definitions, scientists will deem two interbreeding finches of similar makeup as separate species, yet when we look much closer to home, the vast array of canine variation is shrugged off as different breeds of the same species. Throughout thousands of generations, dogs have supposedly stemmed from the majestic wolf into every breed of dog we see (though the wolf is easily insulted when relationship is implied to Chihuahuas and the Shih Tzu). The issue here is that we have once again used the term species in whatever way we desire, not a universally applicable one.

            If we once again attempt to define a species as similar organisms that breed and reproduce fertile offspring, then what of the dog breeds that cannot reproduce? No miniature Dachshund could ever carry the offspring of a Great Dane, nor could a small spaniel bring the offspring of a large Labrador to term. Even though the puppies could themselves be viable, it takes artificial interference for them to survive; after all, the puppies would be so large, their mothers couldn’t hold them to term. Why is this not considered a separate species by the conventional definitions?

            What of the drastic physical differences we see so clearly in dogs? How much change to an organism is necessary before it becomes a completely different species? According to a study in The American Naturalist,

The amount of shape variation among domestic dogs far exceeds that in wild species, and it is comparable to the disparity throughout the Carnivora. The greatest shape distances between dog breeds clearly surpass the maximum divergence between species in the Carnivora. [10]

The realization of this is astounding! There is far more diversity in the physical structures of all dog breeds—all of which are classified as the same species—than the entire Order [Order is three levels of classification broader than species] of Carnivora! Dogs have more differences than bears and weasels, cats and raccoons. Every carnivorous mammal we know of, the amount of change between them is smaller than those changes seen in this one species known as the domestic dog. Once again, we see an overly flexible definition for species, this time in man’s best friend.

V. Adaptation within the Genome verses Macroevolution

            Why is this whole argument something to fuss over? Why does the definition of species have to be so important to the origins of life debate? If one surveys the examples of evolution in the literature, one will notice that the clearest examples of evolutionary change are actually small-scale adaptations. Since evolution works in small successive, slight steps, then this act of speciation is critical in the proof of the macroevolutionary steps. If one cannot even prove that these small changes can cause true speciation, then the figurative rug is pulled out from under macroevolution. Evolutionists often claim that macroevolution is far too long a process to observe by us “new on the block” humans, so they must insist that speciation can eventually lead to larger changes.

            What if this speciation concept not only fails to define its terms properly, but also fails to feasibly extrapolate to these major macroevolutionary changes? What if the changes we see in organisms like dogs and finches can simply be explained as adaptations within the organismal genome rather than macroevolutionary change? Such a revelation would undermine the entirety of the evolutionary paradigm!

            As has already been cited earlier, the finch populations in the Galapagos naturally fluctuate. During droughts, the finches tend to gravitate towards larger beaked individuals that can crack open the thick seeds that still remain; however, once the drought ends, we see a clear return from a thick beaked majority back to a “happy medium.” No net evolution had occurred, since the changes were one step forward followed by one step back. Such changes are not viable moves toward macroevolutionary diversification, but instead, are changes that occurred within the existing genome. The finches already had the capacity for beak variation within their genome, making these changes only adaptations within boundaries, not change without boundaries. Yet, even that isn’t the whole picture. What if we said that evolution didn’t bring just changes within the genome, but actually caused degradation? What if many adaptations are losses of information? Biochemist Dr. Michael Behe describes the adaptive mutation in the Galapagos finch populations as ones that are more likely to degrade or disable genes. “For instance, the gene most strongly associated with the difference in blunt-beak verses pointed-beak finches is called ALX1. The only variation in it throughout all finch species is two mutations that both impair function.”[11] With the outward, phenotypic changes that we see come internal genotypic disruptions of existing genes. In other words, to gain these outward benefits, the organism must sacrifice other internal functions. This is clearly not evolution, but devolution.

            Within canine populations, we see an interesting occurrence: when artificially selected, we can produce the incredibly drastic levels of change we have already mentioned, but when left to their own devices, packs of wild dogs tend to blend together into a more standard, long snouted, longer legged dog.

Left to their own devices, dogs will be dogs—and will eventually intermingle enough to level out extreme differences within the species. Natural selection ensues and hybrid vigor results: Witness the similar color and size of mutts in Mexico and other countries where they’re allowed to roam. To protect particular characteristics, though, breed enthusiasts have long guarded a highly controlled process, regulating genetic lines and creating registries that stipulate which animals can be bred to produce more of the same type.[12]

What we see here with dogs is a failure of natural selection. Darwin was an avid pigeon breeder and noticed the variations he could produce with artificial selection, and thus he assumed natural selection could do something similar with enough time. Our conundrum, however, is that such drastic changes are only seen in artificially guided breeding, not in natural ones. Natural selection has not shown us any ability to alter an organism outside a range of adaptations, and it almost definitely brings populations to equilibrium within the bounds of the genome or to degradation via the neutralization or destruction of previously functional genetic code, not to true diversification and advancement.

VI. Evolution’s [not so Great] Achievements

            The claims of evolutionists aren’t limited to finches and dogs. Other examples of supposed evolutionary speciation are prevalent, but few can hold water when compared to the sheer weight of change necessary for macroevolution to occur. Many of these greatly touted examples of evolutionary change might be benefits, but they get there by moving backwards. Rarely do we ever see a forward moving beneficial mutation.

            Mutations, a key ingredient in evolution, are far more likely to destroy genetic information than add to it. For example, Dr. Richard Lenski’s long-term E. coli bacterial evolution project, which has produced over 50,000 generations of bacteria,[13] celebrated the arrival of bacteria that seemingly gained the ability to eat citrate; however, Dr. Behe swoops in for the kill.

… the most widely publicized result from Lenski’s lab was the appearance of strains of E. coli that were able to eat citrate. However, the bacteria already have this ability. It is normally switched off in the presence of oxygen. The fortunate bacteria obtained an alteration that allowed them to access citrate in all conditions.[14]

So evolution to these bacteria didn’t produce a brand new function; instead, they change existing information. This example doesn’t stop there, however. These citrate-munching bacteria developed additional mutations, which were more losses of information. The changes that allowed it to adapt to a new environment resulted from a loss in function, not a gain.

            A similar case study on the bacteria responsible for the Black Death in the 14th century shows eventual loss of complexity, not a gain. Bacteria have the ability to pick up or exchange DNA with other bacteria, and the plague bacteria was once harmful before doing such a pickup. Problem is that in doing so, the bacteria lost abilities and became limited to a parasitic lifestyle.[15]

            One of the best cases of evolutionary advancement has been the mutation of rhodopsin production in certain species of cichlid fish. Rhodopsin is a protein that helps with light absorption in the eye. This mutation gave greater light sensitivity at greater depths and does indeed convey a positive advantage to the fish. Does this beneficial mutation undermine the claim that has been presented in this essay? Not at all! Not only are such beneficial mutations so exceedingly rare, we find that such a change was just the mutation of a single amino acid. When one plots out the hundreds or thousands of coordinated mutations needed simply to form the eye in which this rhodopsin molecule resides, we realize that there is not enough time in which such changes could occur even at faster rates. With the odds of mutation, all beneficial mutations would rapidly be overwhelmed by the exceedingly more common information-degrading mutations. With every one step forward, there would be ten steps back. This is in no way a feasible mechanism for macroevolution.

VII. Conclusion

            Darwinian evolution is inescapably founded upon the long-term macroevolutionary changes that are supposedly proven by speciation events. Over long periods of time, making use of random mutations that cause phenotypic changes, evolutionists claim we can change from one type of organism to another from single cellular organisms to humans; yet this whole concept is build upon a farce. Speciation, the change of one species to another is not just a gray area, but also an undercover attempt to prop up a failing theory. Without a solid definition of what a species is to start with, evolutionists can claim that speciation has occurred any time they desire. With such a misleading and weak definition of species, speciation cannot be confirmed. If speciation cannot be confirmed, then macroevolutionary change crumbles.

            Even if we accept particular cases of beneficial mutations and natural selection, we still cannot use such examples to make a case for macroevolution. We can see, based upon known mutation rates that deleterious mutations are far more common than beneficial, so even in the extremely rare cases of positive changes, such changes will eventually be overwhelmed with the negative. Instead of increasing complexity over time, we observe dilapidation of existing functions, causing more devolution genetically than evolution.

            If we continue to let evolutionists have this much freedom to define a species as they like, they will continue to pull the wool over our eyes with new examples of phenotypical changes. Such external changes do not necessarily show an increase of ability, but more likely is evidence of a negative internal change. If this analysis is accurate, then evolution is already dead. If science can once and for all define what divides organisms at a species level, maybe then they can start to prove speciation events. It is doubtful, however, that such a definition will ever arise. As it currently stands, without a proper definition of species, there can be no proof of speciation.


[1]Pappas, Stephanie. “There Might Be 1 Trillion Species on Earth.” LiveScience. May 05, 2016. Accessed November 27, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/54660-1-trillion-species-on-earth.html.

[2] Zachos, Frank E. Species Concepts in Biology Historical Development, Theoretical Foundations and Practical Relevance. Cham CH: Springer, 2016.

[3] National Geographic Society. “Speciation.” National Geographic Society. October 09, 2012. Accessed October 26, 2018. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/speciation/.

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] Luskin, Casey. “Not Making the Grade: An Evaluation of 22 Recent Biology Textbooks And Their Use of Selected Icons of Evolution.” September 26, 2011, 12.

[8] Ibid

[9] Purbita Saha, Galapagos Finches Are Proving to Be the Poster Birds of Evolution Again. Audubon, December 12, 2017. https://www.audubon.org/news/galapagos-finches-are-proving-be-poster-birds-evolution-again.

[10] Drake, Abby Grace, and Christian Peter Klingenberg. “Large‐Scale Diversification of Skull Shape in Domestic Dogs: Disparity and Modularity.” The American Naturalist 175, no. 3 (2010): 289-301. doi:10.1086/650372.

[11] Behe, Michael J. Darwin Devolves: The New Science about DNA That Challenges Evolution. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2019, quoted in “Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves Topples Foundational Claim of Evolutionary Theory.” Evolution News. November 23, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/11/michael-behes-darwin-devolves-topples-foundational-claim-of-evolutionary-theory/.

[12] “The Purebred Paradox.“ Animal Studio Repository. Accessed October 25, 2018. https://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1088&context=allanimals

[13] Richard Lenski. E. coli Long-term Experimental Evolution Project Site. Edited by . Vers. . Michigan State University . November 29. Accessed November. http://myxo.css.msu.edu/ecoli/.

[14] “Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves Topples Foundational Claim of Evolutionary Theory.” Evolution News. November 23, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018. https://evolutionnews.org/2018/11/michael-behes-darwin-devolves-topples-foundational-claim-of-evolutionary-theory/.

[15] Ibid

Book Review: Debating Design

                  The book Debating Design is a conglomeration of essays by various authors on the topic of the origins of life debate, specifically design in nature. The two editors are highly distinguished in this field of research. Adding to the quality of the debate, the editors are from the opposite side of the debate from the other.

                  The first of the editors is Dr. William A. Dembski. Dr. “Bill” Dembski has a rich history in the Intelligent Design movement. He was a great boon to the field, acting as a leader in laying the groundwork for the modern resurgence of the theory by clearly defining and explaining clearly what Intelligent Design is and is not. He previously acted as a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. His educational pedigree is incredibly lengthy. He started with a B.A. in psychology in 1981, and from then through 1996, he accumulated three masters’ degrees, two Ph.D.’s and an M.Div. The focus of these degrees ranges from philosophy, to mathematics, to statistics. There are few who can rival his educational foundation.

                  Our second editor is Dr. Michael Ruse. Coming from the side of Darwinian evolution, Dr. Ruse has a long list of honors and authorships. The vast majority of his works span between the philosophy of science and Darwinian evolution. He is a frequent debater on the topic and is respected by supporters and opponents alike. While Dembski has an incredible education, Dr. Ruse has—along with bachelors, Masters’ and Ph.D. degrees—far more experience in the field of evolution and the origins of life. He has been writing, lecturing and debating for decades and is considered an expert in evolution and the philosophy of science.

                  With these two renowned editors, we can see that Debating Design will be stacked full of some of the best arguments from each side. There is no doubt that they have compiled a qualified group of scientists, historians and philosophers to help them compile this book. The qualifications of each author are not in doubt. Neither are the reasons behind the book itself. After all, what better way to get the measure of such a grand debate except to gather all the best experts from each side that one can? In the pursuit of truth, as all science should be, this book brings forth the arguments from both sides.

                  As clearly state in the introduction to their book, the editors share their belief that Intelligent Design is a significant factor on the contemporary landscape and should not be ignored. Supporters of Intelligent Design see it as an incredible breakthrough in how we can look at the nature of reality, but the opponents of Design see it as a threat to the status quo, long held in sway by Darwinian evolution, both in the scientific field and the educational classrooms. While both editors find this debate important for different reasons, both agree resolutely that both sides need to clearly grasp the views of the other. Ignorance is not the way to combat conflicting views.

                  Debating Design is different than many other evolution or design books in that it presents more than just one side at a time. Most authors tend to stick to making their case as strong as possible to convince their readers that they can explain that particular phenomena best, yet here, the editors have opened up their own sides to criticism from the other, putting their faith in the wisdom of the reader to decide which argument seems most logical in explaining the origins of life. This approach is very useful to the professional and the laymen alike as they traipse the complex arguments of the origins of life debate.

                  Clearly, this book format is one of its great strengths.  Instead of leaving it up to the reader to seek out other experts and different perspectives, Dembski and Ruse have compiled a valuable source of expert commentary on the debate from both sides. While the readers should not draw their conclusions based off of this text alone, it is a terrific place to start an analysis of this vitally important and incredibly complex debate. The writers approach the debate from all different angles too. Some bring in a scientific argument, while others focus on the history of the debate. Others still remain focused on the philosophy aspect, combining the science with other avenues of though, as scientific arguments should; after all, science cannot stand-alone. Science, history, and philosophy are all intertwined closely, especially in a debate that has lasted for centuries like this one. Dembski and Ruse should be applauded for working together to produce such a valuable resource.

                  This book is an easy recommendation to all who desire to understand the evolution and design debate; however, I would caution readers new to the debate to take their time in such a book. Since this text is written by the experts specifically for comparison with specialist opinions from the other side, many of the essays, while useful, are very deep and likely confusing to the uninitiated reader of this debate. Some of the authors explain their views at a level the layman could understand while others might venture into territory that might confuse them.  Without a decent foundation in the basics of the origins science and the philosophy of the arguments, it might be a bit difficult for some; therefore, I would tend to recommend this text to the veteran reader, but not to the greenhorn enthusiast. Once a basic understanding of the common terms and logical arguments is attained, then the reader would be ready for this content rich volume.

                  Over all, Debating Design is a must have for the origins of life debater. Dr. Dembski and Dr. Ruse have done us all a great service by working together cooperatively to present these arguments side by side. Few other books lay out both sides of an argument and let the reader decide their strengths and weaknesses. In a way, this makes Debating Design just like an actual debate!

Because Science!

The Flaws of Viewing Science as a Source of Truth

            The very existence of science is founded on the presupposition of rationality in nature. Before modern science, such a rational worldview was not easily attainable due to the insertion of spiritual or philosophical views that often countered such rational pursuits. Astrology and the actions of a pantheon of deities were often the regular explanations for phenomena, but that eventually changed. With the rise of Christianity in Europe came a changing of the tide. Mankind no longer used such outlandish explanations to explain things in the natural world; instead, we see a shift towards rational thought. The foundations of Christian faith laid the groundwork for the assumption that the cosmos was indeed functioning logically and that our ability to rationally think was further evidence towards the conclusion that nature could be known and understood through rational means, not appeals to the unseen whims of the gods or spiritual feelings of the objects in question. The rise of rational thought has laid the foundations for the philosophical view of realism, upon which most of modern science now stands. The following essay intends to show why realism is so closely tied to scientific thought and how it should be properly used.

I. The Rise of Rational Science

            Contrary to the common misconception found permeating our modern culture, modern science and religion are not at war with each other; rather, what we call science today is necessarily the child of a particular religious foundation in Christianity. Instead of opposites, science and religion have marched hand and hand from the start until modern times, when naturalists have done their best to force a rift between the two.

            While many assume that modern science is the offspring of the classical Greek and Roman philosophies, we find that it actually was a seed planted and watered by the Christian worldview. Historian of science Rodney Stark investigated these origins in his book For the Glory of God.

…The rise of science was not an extension of classical learning. It was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine: Nature exists because it was created by God. To love and honor God, one must fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork. Moreover, because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation, we ought to be able to discover these principles.[1]

The nature of God is as revealed in Christianity laid the foundations for scientific thought. Unlike some of the previously followed deities, the great I Am was not one to change based upon emotional mood or whimsical want; no, the God revealed in the Bible was unchanging. His actions therefore could not be attributed to random acts of passion, anger, lust, or any typical human emotional response. This leads us directly to the assumption that anything done by such a creator would have a reason behind it. The believers in Christianity logically took this to mean that our powers of rational thought were placed in us by our maker so that we would be able to investigate creation with the ability to understand it and be amazed at the works of God. It was on this foundation that modern science bloomed into the rationally comprehensive tool we use today.

II. Realism Defined

            What is realism and how does it relate to our view of scientific progress? Scientific Realism, roughly defined in terms of science, “holds that science progressively secures true, or approximately true, theories about the real, theory-independent world “out there” and does so in a rationally justifiable way.”[2] The basic assumption of realism in science is that science can indeed be an accurate way to understand truths in the world. Science, in this view, is typically the literal pursuit of truth or approximate truths.

            Rational realism is by far the majority view among scientists. Even those that point to a relationship between science and Christianity typically hold to such views. The problem with the second stance is when faith and science disagree. Which is the truth in such a situation? Should we be claiming that science is wrong when clashing with religion, or should religious concepts be the ones that need to change? It all gets down to the proper understanding of the relationships of science, religion and truth.

III. What is Truth?

            Our postmodern culture has tarnished Truth’s sparkling reputation. It has become the “cuttlefish” of concepts, constantly changing its colors and textures to adapt to the environment around it. It is all too frequently heard referred to as “my truth” or “your truth.” Such statements assume that our personal experiences and personal feelings can decide the truthfulness of something. For example, one moral truth could supposedly be right for me, but I cannot assume it is right for others in the same way. Such naiveté is palpable.

            The truth simply cannot be relative like the postmodernists claim. Logically, such an interpretation is a blatant contradiction. The Oxford Dictionary defines truth as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”[3] The claim that truth is relative is in itself a contradiction, owing to the fact that such a statement is an assertion of absolute truth.

            This becomes a problem for realism in science. Can science be considered truth? Science, by nature, is limited in scope. It is constantly discovering new things and building our knowledge of the universe, but we cannot call its discoveries truths since truth is absolute. Scientific discoveries do indeed point us towards the best possible explanations, but claiming that those explanations are truth means that it is absolute and unchallengeable. If any aspect of scientific discovery is not open to challenge or refutation, then it is, by definition, no longer science. Science by design must be open to critique and the addition of new knowledge. Until we have gleaned all knowledge from the universe, we cannot make absolute truth statements about things discovered empirically.

            Realism often employs another form of truth (be it actually different or simply semantic gymnastics) known as the approximate truth, or verisimilitude. Instead of making absolute truth claims, those suggesting approximate truth would be comparing theories for relative truthfulness. Moreland was helpful in clarifying this.

Theory A has greater verisimilitude than theory B if and only if A is more approximately true than B. Theories can increase in verisimilitude; that is, they can increase in the degree that they are approximately true. If the notion of verisimilitude can be adequately spelled out, then rational realists are claiming not that our current theories are the final truth of the matter but only that scientific progress is measured in growth in verisimilitude.[4]

Based upon the concept of verisimilitude, we can supposedly avoid the snare of calling scientific discoveries absolute truth by simply measuring competing hypotheses against each other to find which is approximately closer to the truth.

            The real problem here is that anything with the title of “truth,” including approximate truth, must be absolute. Truth does not travel in degrees, but either is or is not true. This seems a bit problematic to say the least for this concept of verisimilitude.

IV. Will the Real Truth Please Stand Up?

             Even when we trip up on our abilities to accurately discern the truths of reality, we cannot logically deny the existence of truth. Just like the contradicting paradoxical statement “truth is relative,” the similar claim that “there is no truth” is equally self-defeating due to the fundamental truth assertions in the statement. With this alone, we must conclude that truth does actually exist. The million-dollar question would then be “where can we find truth?” If only that was indeed a million dollar question, since I could seriously use the cash.

            The postmodernist would again say that truth comes from inside us. Our experiences and our feelings decide what is true to us. Shallow as this seems, it is a far too commonly held view; however, it simply cannot be so. For example, take two different individuals form different walks of life with dissimilar experiences. If one claims that his experience tells him that A is true, not B, what can we say when the second person says that B is true, not A? What happens when the personal truths contradict each other? If one person claims that they are a woman trapped in a man’s body, while the other asserts that such a thing is not biologically possible and instead a mental disorder, which do we assume has the truth? If they are exact opposites, it is impossible for them to both be true. Truth cannot be both true and false simultaneously. Clearly, we cannot rely on our own personal perspectives to be the measuring rod for truth. Truth must come from something external to our temperamental feelings.

            As mentioned before, modern science stems from the rise of Christian thought in Europe. What did such a worldview have to say on the topic of truth? From the Christian perspective, God must be the source of all truths. He created the cosmos, so reality is literally molded by his will and wisdom. Moral laws and physical laws alike share their origins in God. He is unchanging; therefore his creation is not the haphazard makings of an emotional being out of anger, spite or some other human emotion. Is creation is the outpouring of his of order, logic, and wisdom. Since mankind has been given an almost unquenchable thirst for knowledge and rational thought, we can assume, based upon this understanding of a rational creator making both us and creation, that the cosmos is designed to be known by rational means.

            If creation is full of order and design and we are endowed with the capacity to rational thought, it takes no genius to conclude that the quest after knowledge about the cosmos and how it works—aka science—must also be a rational pursuit. If reality is designed to be knowable, then realism is a logical means with which to explore it.

V. Return to an Approximation of Approximate Truth

            Thus far, a few things have been established:

  1. Truth exists.
  2. Truth is absolute.
  3. As fallible humans, our sciences cannot be considered truth.
  4. The unchanging creator is the most logical source of truth.
  5. Creation is rational, so the pursuit of comprehension of its inner workings must also be rational.
  6. Therefore, science is rational, but cannot be considered truth.

This might seem to be a stalemate to some. Antirealists definitely think so. After all, science cannot be truth, so how can it really be a useful pursuit of the nature of reality?

            Instead of pushing the view of science as source of truth, what if we simply considered it a tool that helps us discover the most likely nature of the universe? In many ways, this is similar to verisimilitude, but without automatically assuming any truth claims. With the separation from truth, we can get as far as claiming, “this is the best we can do with the data we have right now.”

Geocentrism was once the dominant view in the civilized world. All the data did indeed seem to show the Sun moving around the Earth. Even when Copernicus presented his radical concept of heliocentrism, the data was not there to prove it above and beyond that of geocentrism. For a span of time, there was data that could back both models, yet not negate either. Both could not be true, so more data was required. With the improvement of the telescope by Galileo, new phenomena were finally confirmed, such as the phases of Venus and moons orbiting other planets, and the geocentric view gave way to the heliocentric model. Is the heliocentric model 100% accurate? We have no idea. If we were to find new data from new phenomena, we could at least alter the current models. That is the nature of science: it must remain open to debate and open to change.

This view of science is similar to the nature of a graphed asymptote. As seen in the figure below, asymptotes are always getting closer to the x and y axis without ever touching it.

Graphed on Cartesian coordinates. The x and y-axes are the asymptotes.[5]

What if science was acting like an asymptote as it approaches the x or y? What if we treat truth as the axis? We constantly desire to get closer, yet know that we cannot actually touch it with our current trajectory. Should not this model of science still give us a model of reality that gives a “more likely than not” scenario? With this mentality, we can still maintain science as a useful tool, yet still be able to avoid the philosophical pitfalls of making truth claims about the conclusions we draw.

VI. Inference to the Best Explanation

            A real life example of this “asymptotic” rational science can be found as a fundamental methodology for the historical sciences. Geology, paleontology, archaeology, and even forensic investigation all use a method of extrapolation that philosopher of science Dr. Stephen C. Meyer calls the “inference to the best explanation.”

Recent work on the method of “inference to the best explanation” suggests that determining which among a set of competing possible explanations constitutes the best depends upon assessments of the causal powers of competing explanatory entities.[6]

Unlike in laboratory sciences like chemistry and physics, the historical sciences cannot be easily replicated, if it is even possible at all. The Big Bang event is an obvious example. It is doubtful a scientist would even want to trigger such an event even if they could! Yet, how then can we draw conclusions about the legitimacy of such models without being able to duplicate them? Clearly, this inference to the best explanation is used to compare hypotheses that attempt to answer the same phenomenon and decide which has the best explanatory power. Some used to theorize that the universe was eternal, and others suggested that it fluctuated in a rubber banding type back and forth movement. Our best explanations through physics, using the data we have before us pushes towards the conclusion that the universe indeed had a beginning and it started from a central point. Is this conclusion of how the universe began truth? We are simply unable to know except that it is a logical and rational conclusion on the nature of phenomena in reality. This form of realism is likely the best means of understanding the universe science will ever be able to achieve.

VII. Realism Concluded

            For science to remain as the perceptibly useful methodology for comprehending the nature of phenomena, realism is the best possible philosophy. Science must be founded upon the ability to rationally understand nature, and we as intricately rational beings have been instilled with a hunger for knowledge. Our studies in science, however, must be tempered with the humility of seeing such pursuits the way they should: likely explanations, but not absolute truths. Our conclusions must remain like the asymptote line: always getting closer to the true goal, but never assuming we have reached that goal already. This way, science can still maintain its usefulness while avoiding falling into a dogmatic nature.

Work Cited

  • Stark, Rodney. For the glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery. Princeton University Press, 2015.
  • Moreland, J.P. Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation. Baker Books, 1989.
  • Meyer, Stephen C.  DNA by Design: An Inference to the Best Explanation for the Origin of Biological Information. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 4, Special Issue on the Intelligent Design Argument (Winter 1998), pp. 519-556 Published by: Michigan State University Press.

[1] Stark, Rodney. For the glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery. Princeton University Press, 2015, 157.

[2] Moreland, Christianity and the Nature of Science, 139.

[3] Oxford Dictionary, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/truth

[4] Moreland, 149

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymptote

[6] Meyer, Stephen C.  DNA by Design: An Inference to the Best Explanation for the Origin of Biological Information. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Vol. 1, No. 4, Special Issue on the Intelligent Design Argument (Winter 1998), pp. 519-556 Published by: Michigan State University Press. 546

Attack on Humanity

The Dehumanization of the Unborn

Just a few generations ago, a child in the womb was correctly assumed to be fully human; however, within the last few decades, this has been brought into question. Doubts have come from all over the place, be it from evolutionary science or personal assumptions, and it has lead to the dehumanization of the unborn. Instead of being seen as beautiful persons created in the image of their creator, terms like “embryo” and “fetus” are used to distance us from the humanity of the child in the womb. These practices are not just ignoring the humanity of the child for convenience sake, but also to profit from the use of the aborted child’s body. In this, we see blatant human trafficking disguised as a mission of mercy, sacrificing the most innocent of us to benefit others. The terrible practices of abortion, the sale of fetal tissue, and the use of fetal cells in medicine is an abomination, leaving our culture seeped in the blood of billions of human sacrifices, all the while blinded to the tragedy of their actions.

I. The “Choicest” of arguments

            The pro-abortion advocates, self identifying as “pro-choice,” have made numerous claims over the last few decades in their attempt to drive a wedge between the unborn and all other humans. While laden with scientific and illogical inaccuracies, their methods have been successful within a culture that has slipped into postmodernism and a post-absolute truth worldview. The following are some of the most common arguments and the counterarguments against them.

            The assertion that is most frequently shouted at every available opportunity by the pro-choice group is the “my body my choice” argument. By this, they claim that the choice to end the life of the embryo rests solely on the decision of the mother because the embryo is within her, attached to her, and therefore simply another part of her. To take away the woman’s right to abortion is seen as the equivalent of removing the woman’s rights to her own body.

            This argument is fundamentally flawed based upon two points: first, it assumes that the embryo is not a unique individual nor human; second, it alleges that the embryo is actually part of the mother’s body, giving her sole ownership of it. The humanity of the unborn cannot be scientifically nor logically denied. A simple DNA test would prove that the growing life within her is not part of her, but rather a unique combination of her and the father’s genomes. We can also point out that women do not naturally have two heads, four eyes, and eight limbs. That second set of parts is not part of the mother, but rather part of a completely unique individual that is hosted within the mother temporarily. Unless the pro-choice proponents can prove that the embryo is simply another part of the mother scientifically, they cannot assert a right to discard it. Even that, however, is dubious, since when someone wants to surgically remove one of their body parts simply because they do not want it, we question their sanity.

            Another common argument is that abortion is necessary to protect women in dangerous medical situations. If the mother is at risk, they claim, she should have the priority over the child and be allowed to abort. The flaw is that the vast majority of abortions done today are not because the mother’s life is in danger. The overwhelming reasons behind the majority of abortions are either inadequate finances to raise a child or that the mother is not ready for the responsibility of that role. Abortions due to the life of the mother being seriously threatened are less than one percent of all abortions.[1] In cases of ectopic pregnancy, where the zygote implants in the fallopian tube of the mother (which is not sustainable), we see that growth there would not only kill the embryo, but the mother as well.  Other than this, there are practically no actual situations in which the mother actually needs to abort to save her life.

Yet, despite such statistics, no pro-choice person would claim that we should limit abortions to medical necessity alone. The opposite is actually the case we see with the legal system pushing further and further away from any sort of limitations on abortion. Recent legislation in places like New York have stripped an unborn fetus of all rights, even going as far as reducing the charges of murder to a lesser offense. Soon after the bill was enacted, a man murdered both his girlfriend and the five-month child in her womb. While he was charged with murder for the woman’s death, the new law significantly reduces the sentence for the purposeful killing of the unborn child.[2] In such an instance, the true colors of the pro-choice movement are revealed. Instead of focusing on the health of the mother like they claimed, they passed legislation that removed the human rights of the unborn, doing so to thunderous applause.[3] Abortion is not about the health of the mother; it is about the dehumanization of the unborn children.

            One of the most common arguments for abortion, however, tends to be some form of an argument of financial inability on the mother’s part. As the argument typically goes, abortion is needed because the mother is financially unable to provide for the child. It is assumed that poverty is one of the worst situations to bring a child into. Yes, it is a big worry, and yes, such situations are indeed difficult, but does that necessitate the death of the child? There is nothing but hypocrisy in the argument that claims poverty is bad for a child, yet is willing to kill the child. How can killing a child be better than a chance at life?

It is truly ignorant to assume that a child can never be happy if born into poverty. Being poor is in no way a guarantee of a terrible life. In fact, one could say that the poor children are most likely to strive for better. This can be seen when we survey some of the richest people in the world. Many of the top billionaires came from very humble beginnings. One in particular undermines this argument for abortion tremendously. Leonardo Del Vacchio was sent to an orphanage when his widowed mother couldn’t care for him anymore. After working in a factory for a few years, he eventually opened his own shop where he made glasses. He is now the owner of companies like Ray-Ban and Oakley, and has a net worth of 23.5 billion dollars.[4] Clearly poverty and the inability of a mother to care for her child financially do not guarantee a dead end life unworthy of living. With life, there is hope for the child. With abortion, there is absolutely no chance of hope.

            While “pro-choice” arguments are far more numerous than these presented, some of the most commonly used ones are revealed as shallow and unfounded. The child has been reduced to nothing but an inconvenience to be done away with on a whim, instead of the biological human with personhood and rights that it is. As we will see in the following sections, this practice is not only dehumanizing, but also quite barbaric in nature and practice.

II. Abortion Practices

            Few people actually realize the horrors of the abortion procedures. An undisputable expert on these methods is Dr. Anthony Levatino, a board-certified OB-GYN with 40 years of experience, including over 1000 abortions that he personally performed. [5] He regrets his actions and has invested his efforts to showing people what abortion really is.

            First trimester medical abortions are chemical abortions. The chemicals Mifepristone and Misoprostol are used to destabilize the lining of the uterus, which the fetus is attached to. This cuts off nourishment to the child, starving them to death. The other chemical causes heavy contractions and heavy bleeding to force the baby out. If this method does not work, suction is used to forcibly rip them out of the womb.6

This suction method, known as Suction D & C, is the most prevalent abortion method, and is most commonly done during the first trimester. The suction is so strong that it literally rips the embryo limb from limb, often ending in the crushing of the skull by the abortionist. Absolutely no method of torture ever created is as barbaric and effective at killing as this.[6]

Second trimester abortions are no less barbaric. Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) abortions are one of the main methods. It is typically done as late as 24 weeks, even though our current medical technology has been able to save premature babies as early as 21 weeks.[7] Suction machines are not strong enough to pull the embryo apart, so in its place, a sopher clamp is used to grab limbs of the baby and, piece by piece, dismember it while it is still alive. By this stage, the baby can obviously feel tremendous pain.

Third trimester abortions occur when the child is already within the window of viability with our current medical technology. Being fully formed and large, the baby cannot be easily removed by force. Instead, they are injected with digoxin, which can cause fatal cardiac arrest.  They are injected in the heart or head, and the toxin kills the child. A few days later, the mother is induced into labor to deliver her dead child. If this does not work, it becomes another D & E abortion, removing the child piece by piece.[8]

Dr. Maureen Condic, Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Utah has suggested, contrary to the claims of the pro-abortion advocates, that the earliest stages of the fetal nervous system forms by 28 days. “The neural circuitry responsible for the most primitive response to pain, the spinal reflex, is in place by 8 weeks of development… This is the earliest point at which the fetus experiences pain in any capacity.”[9] With this knowledge in mind, how can we say that abortion is anything but cruel? Far from being a clump of cells in the mother, we can clearly see a unique individual that is being killed in the most tortuous of ways. The only way that this can be seen as even remotely moral is if this fetus is not a human person. That said, such treatment of puppies and kittens would draw outrage, so the argument is hypocritical coming from pro-abortion advocates.  

III. Sale of Human Fetal Tissues

            If the practice of abortion is not terrible enough, evidence has come to light that abortion provider Planned Parenthood has been profiting from the sales of human fetal tissues. An organization called the Center for Medical Progress began an undercover investigation onto this suspected tissue sales. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt went undercover starting in 2013, running through the release of the first of their incriminating videos in 2015. Planned Parenthood’s top executives were caught discussing their sales of these fetal tissues, such as baby hearts, lungs, livers, and brains, but their legal teams are incredibly influential and many lawmakers, including the California judge who presided over the case against the journalists are financially supported by the abortion giant.[10]

            The first round of lawsuits fell in Planned Parenthoods favor, as the journalists were the ones punished. Planned Parenthood was found innocent of charges; however, the legal battles are not over yet.

Two of Planned Parenthood’s business partners, DaVinci biosciences and DV Biologics have admitted guilt in a $7.8 million settlement with the Orange County District Attorney for selling aborted baby body parts from Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties for profit in violation of federal and California law.[11]

On top of that bombshell, Texas fifth circuit court vindicated the journalists against the most common arguments against them. Instead of the footage being edited to make them look bad, the video footage that had been used to uncover the Planned Parenthood scandal was not heavily edited or doctored. This means that what was said on the videos was not taken out of context. The Texas court ruled that Texas may strip Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies.[12]

            At this point, it can be said with confidence that the evidence points towards the abortion industry profiting from the deaths of human babies. The legal system is slowly catching up, but abortion is still a heated battle with one side fighting to save the unborn, and the other fighting to further dehumanize them.

IV. Stem Cell Research

            Unbeknownst to many, abortion is not the only field that takes advantage of the helpless human embryo. The use of embryonic stem cells in medicine has quite often promised incredible breakthroughs and nearly miraculous cures of numerous diseases like diabetes, MS, and many others. The industry has drawn billions of dollars in support of this research with the hopes of one day solving a myriad of diseases. Such a tremendous flow of funding makes this avenue of research incredibly lucrative. It isn’t difficult to see why many companies would push for their staff to work with these lines of stem cells. The problem comes with the weight of significant moral baggage.

Stem cells were an incredible discovery. These cells are quite special due to their ability to differentiate into other types of cells. As is quite obvious from even such a basic description, the possibilities of healing injures or curing diseases seems without limit.

            Embryonic stem cells are considered pluripotent.[13] This means they have the capabilities to transform into any type of tissue. These types of cells quite literally have the capacity to become any tissue in the human body. The mystery that researchers are trying to crack is, of course, the methods of how to control the transformations. You wouldn’t want a stomach cell to form where you are trying to produce neurons or, even worse, accidentally causing a cell to keep dividing unchecked as a cancerous growth. Still, if such manipulations of these cells become feasible, there are indeed great possibilities for medical breakthroughs.

            Stem cells have also been discovered within the bodies of adults. These stem cells, however, lack the naturally occurring full pluripotency of the embryonic cells. These cells typically only differentiate into cells from the tissue it was found in. For example, stem cells found in the liver are limited to becoming part of the liver. This limited diversification is known as multipotency.[14] For this reason, many have passed over these stem cells as a viable option, choosing instead to chase after the possibilities in the pluripotent embryonic stem cells.

While there seems to be so much hope tied to embryonic stem cell research, it is bogged down with tremendous ethical baggage. Due to the cultural shift in the views on the value of a human zygote or fetus, few are conflicted on taking embryonic stem cells even with the knowledge that it unavoidably destroys the zygote. This begs the question: is a zygote a human person?

            One must also wonder of the effectiveness of this treatment thus far. As we typically have seen in the research, there have been too many hurdles to the control of embryonic stem cells. To date, embryonic stem cells have not been able to cure anything.[15] With over 10 years and hundreds of millions of dollars poured into research, we have little to show for it; however, adult stem cells have not only overcome many of these shortcomings, but have already successfully cured many people of an impressive range of disorders.[16]

            For now, a last ethical dilemma is the necessity of human cloning for the use of embryonic stem cells. While often called “somatic nuclear transfer,” the process is quite literally the same as cloning. It removes the nucleus of an ovum cell, replacing it with the nucleus of another cell, and causing it to begin embryonic development using DNA from some other original host.  This is quite bluntly human cloning, which is banned around the world. Not only are researchers destroying fully functional and developing embryos, they are crossing the line with cloning, which in itself has its own debate on how such individuals would be seen as lesser humans.

V. Other Medical Uses

            Stem cell research is not the end of the use of the fetus in medical research. Some find it shocking to hear that tissues from aborted fetuses are regularly used in the production of vaccinations. “Human cells from the tissue of aborted fetuses have been used in vaccines since the 1960s, and currently they are used in 11 vaccines. Aborted human fetal cell cultures are used for growing viruses, which are then used in the preparation of inactivated and live virus vaccines.“[17] Why is this necessary? Viruses require host cells to multiply, and vaccines need to be grown for use in both live and inactivated viral vaccinations.

            For decades, tissues have been used that originated from a cell line created long ago. Many argue that the passing of time that distances us from the original abortions makes this acceptable due to it going to a supposedly good cause; however, does time make the destruction of human life any less immoral? Clearly it does not. These cell lines are tissues stolen by deadly force from the bodies of innocent humans. Just like with embryonic stem cell research, people have dehumanized the fetus, yet this time it is far later than the first few days of development. Here, they are taking tissues from livers, skin, heart, lungs and brains and other organs.[18] It only takes one look and knowledge of scientific terminology to see this on the Center for Disease Control’s own database. We see “human-diploid fibroblast cells,”[19] known as strain WI-38; Strain MRC-5 was derived from lung tissues from a 14 week old aborted caucasian male fetus that was aborted from a 27 year old woman who’s life was not in any physical danger.[20] In this, we see a new branch of human trafficking.

            According to Dr. Stanley Plotkin, a vaccine developer considered to be the leader in the field, numerous aborted fetuses are used in many studies. One study alone used seventy-six fetuses, all aborted at three months or older and developing normally, which were later used in his experiments to create the strains that could be used in vaccine production. [21] Dr. Plotkin was well aware of the religious objections to the use of aborted fetuses, but in his atheism, he saw no issues. Of course, this man also admits in the same testimony to experimenting new vaccines on orphan children and that it was not unusual to do the same on the mentally handicapped, having done so on mentally retarded children himself.20 The human rights abuses are clear, yet to Dr. Plotkin and many of his colleagues, these acts of dehumanization are normal procedures. They use the tissues of aborted children to make vaccines, and then further dehumanize those they deem less valuable, like orphans and the handicapped. What greater example of dehumanization is there? This is a giant leap closer to the dehumanization on the level of Josef Mengele in Nazi Germany.

VI. Humanity of the Unborn

            When all is said and done, all arguments for abortion and the exploitation of the fetus must assume one thing: the fetus is not a human person. If the fetus is not equal to all other humans, we can abort them for nearly any reason, be it physical, emotional, psychological health, or even just because they don’t want it. Such flippant destruction of life would cause uproar if it were done to puppies or kittens, but not to the human fetus. As previously noted in the “my body my choice” argument, it must be assumed that the fetus is not human. This point is not only illogical, but also unscientific.

            Biologically, it is untenable to argue that the fetus is simply another part of the mother simply because it is inside her and gleaning resources from her. By that logic, the bacterial fauna of the intestines would also be a part of the mother, not separate organisms living in mutualistic symbiosis. On top of that, from the moment of conception, the fetus has a unique genome created by a recombination of both the mother and father’s DNA. Its blood type and gender are frequently different from the mother, both of which are also decided at conception. Within mere days, the embryo has its own heartbeat, its own nervous system, and long before the mother can feel it, the embryo is capable of moving arms and legs. Nobody could ever scientifically show that a woman has two heads, two pairs of arms and legs, and two blood types at once. No, physically, this embryo is fully human.

            Of course, some abortion advocates would grant the humanity of the fetus, but they attack its personhood. Arguments range all over the place, but frequently it is claimed that they are not a person at conception, so even though they are human, they are not of equal value to human persons, making abortion acceptable. The problem is their utter failure to accurately define when an embryo becomes that person.

            Some say that it is only a person after birth, yet how can this be logically defended? The timing of birth varies tremendously. While nine months is the average time for fetal development in humans, we often see children born at many different times. Some are born later than average, while many could come prematurely. As previously mentioned, our medical technology makes it feasible to keep babies alive if born even at 21 weeks! Is this child more or less a human person due to its early arrival? Clearly there is no way to suggest that.

            Is the child then magically granted personhood upon exiting the birth canal? Does the birthing process instill it with special value? If so, are children born by cesarean section less human than those birthed vaginally? It is ludicrous to even claim such things since they have no basis in observation nor rationality.

            One of the more prevalent arguments however, is not the timing of the birth, but the mental capacity of the baby. Some say that self-awareness or self-sufficiency is needed for personhood. Logically, this must also apply to all other humans equally. Are comatose hospital patients any less a person due to their lack of consciousness? What about self-sufficiency? Is a physically feeble 90 year-old less human due to their inability to cook, clean, work, and sometimes even feed themselves? What about when a healthy adult is asleep? Are they truly conscious or self-aware then? We get into dangerous eugenic territory when we take this argument to its logical conclusions. There is no place that the abortion advocate can point to as being logically better than conception as the point of personhood’s origin. As ethicist Scott Rae says,

…if I am hunting with a friend who enters the woods and I then hear what sounds like the rustling of a deer at the same spot where my friend entered, I had better not shoot. After all, I cannot be sure whether the rustling sound was made by my friend or the deer. If in doubt, I should not shoot into the trees. Likewise, if in doubt about the personhood of the fetus, one should not risk the life of the fetus, since it may be a person whose life is being ended by abortion. Uncertainty about the status of the fetus justifies caution, not abortion.[22]

Rae hits the issue very clearly: if there is any doubt on when the fetus is human, it is only logical to err to the side of caution in case one ends up killing a human person. If you do not know when the embryo is a human person, it is unethical to assume that gives the rights to kill it at any point. The only defensible origin of the human person is at conception.

VII. Conclusion

            Society has become calloused to the flippant destruction of innocent human life. Excuses are a dime a dozen, yet logical arguments are few and far between. Using logic and science alone, one can fairly succinctly dismantle pro-abortion arguments; but is that enough to change hearts and minds? Sometimes, but the heart issue goes much deeper. We base our conclusions to such arguments as this on our underlying worldviews.

            Evolutionary worldviews tend to bring humanity down to the level of the animals. If we have come from animals through a process of errors, death and struggle, something like abortion could make sense. Yet the evolutionary argument is falling on hard times today with the rise of Intelligent Design. Such arguments not only dismantle the capabilities of natural mechanisms, but also point positively towards a designer. The Christian could easily combine such research with the historical evidence of their faith to show that humans are quite exceptional.

The scriptures tell us that humans are not mere animals. Mankind was created in the image of God. As such, we are the image bearers of the divine, and an attack like abortion desecrates the image of God.[23] We have traded in our reality as sons and daughters of the creator of the universe for the convenience and selfishness of abortion.  As the Psalmist said in praise to God, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”[24] Who are we to tear down what God has made so wonderfully?

How can be so brash as to claim superior value to that of our children? The dehumanization of the unborn must stop, but laws and arguments rarely sway hearts. Instead of putting legal Band-Aids on the surface, we must seek to change the hearts of our culture from the ground up. Abortion has grown to such epidemic proportions due to the failure to build up the current generations with knowledge of human exceptionalism and immense value. As is this author’s goal, education both in school and church must not ever waver in its defense of scientific, logical, and scriptural defenses of human value, especially for those that cannot speak for themselves like the unborn.


[1] “AbortionFacts.com.” Fact #8: Less than 1% of All Abortions Are Performed to save the Life of the Mother. – AbortionFacts.com. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.abortionfacts.com/facts/8#2.

[2] Jones, Emily. “Man Stabs Pregnant Woman and Baby to Death – No Charges for Killing Child Thanks to NY Abortion Law.” CBN News. February 11, 2019. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2019/february/man-stabs-pregnant-woman-and-baby-to-death-no-charges-for-killing-child-thanks-to-ny-abortion-law.

[3] McGuire, Ashley. “Most Americans Don’t Want a Standing Ovation for Abortions until Birth. But Democrats Do.” USA Today. January 30, 2019. Accessed April 15, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/01/30/new-york-abortion-law-liberal-leaders-celebration-death-life-column/2670049002/.

[4]Cain, Áine. “21 Billionaires Who Grew up Poor.” Business Insider. August 28, 2018. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.businessinsider.com/billionaires-who-came-from-nothing-2013-12/.

[5] “About Dr. Levatino.” AbortionProcedures.com. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.abortionprocedures.com/about-dr-levatino/.

[6] Levatino, Anthony. “Abortion Procedures: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Trimesters.” YouTube. February 24, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFZDhM5Gwhk&t=10s.

[7] “Born at 21 Weeks, This May Be the Most Premature Surviving Baby.” TODAY.com. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.today.com/health/born-21-weeks-she-may-be-most-premature-surviving-baby-t118610.

[8] Levatino, Anthony. “Abortion Procedures: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Trimesters.” YouTube. February 24, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFZDhM5Gwhk&t=10s.

[9] “Expert Tells Congress Unborn Babies Can Feel Pain Starting at 8 Weeks.” ONEOFUS. September 28, 2017. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://oneofus.eu/2013/05/expert-tells-congress-unborn-babies-can-feel-pain-starting-at-8-weeks/.

[10] “California Judge with Connections to Planned Parenthood Fines Pro-Life Journalist David Daleiden $137,000.” Texas Right to Life. July 20, 2017. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.texasrighttolife.com/california-judge-with-connections-to-planned-parenthood-fines-pro-life-journalist-david-daleiden-137000/.

[11] Daleiden, David. “Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Business Partners Admit Guilt in $7.8 Million Settlement.” The Center for Medical Progress. December 12, 2017. Accessed April 09, 2019. http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/2017/12/planned-parenthood-baby-parts-business-partners-admit-guilt-in-7-8-million-settlement/.

[12] David, Daleiden. “Fifth Circuit Vindicates CMP’s Undercover Videos.” The Center for Medical Progress. January 18, 2019. Accessed April 09, 2019. http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/2019/01/fifth-circuit-vindicates-cmps-undercover-videos/.

[13] “What Is the Difference between Totipotent, Pluripotent, and Multipotent?” What Is the Difference between Totipotent, Pluripotent, and Multipotent? | NYSTEM. Accessed March 09, 2019. https://stemcell.ny.gov/faqs/what-difference-between-totipotent-pluipotent-and-multipotent.

[14] Ibid

[15]“Boston Children’s Hospital.” Boston Children’s Hospital. Accessed April 10, 2019. http://stemcell.childrenshospital.org/about-stem-cells/faqs/.

[16] “Medical Diseases & Conditions | Adult Stem Cell Treatment.” Stem Cell Research Facts. Accessed March 9, 2019. https://www.stemcellresearchfacts.org/stem-cell-treatments.

[17] “New Human Fetal Cell Lines Available for Vaccine Production – NVIC Newsletter.” National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). January 15, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://www.nvic.org/nvic-vaccine-news/january-2018/new-human-fetal-cell-lines-for-vaccine-production.aspx?fbclid=IwAR0lMzvhUdRaBGK2-i9bpm1LO0Jw5ntT0nVMKb2bTvPcfRxfL1dHAZHflnk.

[18]P, Lars. “Stanley Plotkin, Godfather of Vaccines, UNDER OATH Part 8.” YouTube. October 08, 2018. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o06qJA0kjww.

[19] “Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary.” Center for Disease Control. October 2018. Accessed April 10, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf.

[20] Jacobs, J. P., C. M. Jones, and J. P. Baille. “Characteristics of a Human Diploid Cell Designated MRC-5.” Nature News. July 11, 1970. Accessed April 17, 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/227168a0.

[21] P, Lars. “Stanley Plotkin, Godfather of Vaccines, UNDER OATH Part 8.” YouTube. October 08, 2018. Accessed April 11, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o06qJA0kjww.

[22] Rae, Scott B. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018, page 138.

[23] Genesis 9:8, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

[24] Psalm 139:13, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®

The Myth of Evolutionary Homology

How evolution’s greatest strength shows its ultimate weakness

   

         It is almost certain that the majority of people educated in America have seen it: the image in their biology or anatomy classes that compares the structural anatomy of a human hand with a bat’s wing, a horse’s leg, and a cat’s paw. Mapped out clearly before everyone is this similarity that is held up as one of the defining evidences of Darwinian evolution. Because these similarities seem to be built using common parts, a successive relationship is inferred. To the evolutionist, these similarities are undeniable proof for common ancestry, the core dogma of Darwinian evolution. Is this field of comparative biology as impregnable as it is touted to be? Is this pillar of evolution upholding Darwin’s argument nearly one hundred and fifty years later?

I. Homology

            Before we can delve into the arguments for and against comparative biology, we must clarify what it is. Evolutionary theory predicts that all living organisms will share some similarities due to their common ancestry. Yet common functional structures do not automatically confirm relationship. There is a key difference between structures that are considered truly homologous and those considered analogous. Homologous structures, like the forelimbs of the organisms commonly pictured in the biology class poster, have not only common functions, but common structures as well. The bones in our forearm, while different sizes, closely resemble the organizational structures within other vertebrates like the bat wing, whale fin, etc.  The homology goes beyond simple structure these days, spilling into the study of genetics and embryology.

            On the other hand, analogous structures are ones that are similar in function, but have arisen via different origins. The wings of an insect and the wings of a bat have a common use, but their structures are clearly different. Insect wings have membranous wings stiffened by harden veins that dried soon after they morph into the adult stages. Bat wings, while seemingly membranous, are actually bone with layers of skin growing between the digits and the creature’s sides. They are both functionally used for flight, but neither works the same way, nor are they in any way related.

            This line between homologous and analogous structures is a fine one in many situations. Similarities are sometimes very close in both structure and function and the organisms in question could be uncannily similar, yet at the same time, they could have very different structures that cannot be related. Convergent evolution comes into play in situations like these. Sharks and dolphins have very similar external appearances and structural functions, but the fish to mammal difference confirm that they are not close evolutionary relatives. The same could be said about sugar gliders and flying squirrels, both incredibly alike in structure, function, and behavior with one drastic difference: their reproductive systems. Any evolutionary relationship between these two species would have to be found all the way back at the divergence of mammalian reproduction between placental mammals and marsupials. Because of this, no evolutionary relationship is implied, but the homologous definition is blurred. It is incredibly difficult to assume evolution could produce nearly identical structures and creatures more than once.

II. Vestigial Structures

            Within this argument for homology lies the evolutionary presupposition that there exists many structures that are nothing but evolutionary leftovers. Some might have adapted to serve some minor purpose, but many are considered worthless leftovers from previous evolutionary stages. As well known biology textbook writers Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine wrote,

Vestigial structures are inherited from ancestors but have lost much or all of their original function due to different selection pressures acting on the descendant… [Why] retain structures with little or no function? One possibility is that the presence of the structure does not affect an organism’s fitness, and, therefore, natural selection does not act to eliminate it.[1]

Popular layman sources for science education like livescience.com lay out this argument in simplified slideshow format.[2] The story is very similar to many other sources, including some textbooks. Examples include the human appendix, the human tailbone, and even the whale pelvic bones. These few structures, as well as a dwindling list of others, are claimed to have no functions and are worthless leftovers.

            The appendix is found in many animals. It is significantly larger in herbivorous mammals and much tinier in our bodies. In the herbivores, it assists the digestion of plant materials, but in omnivores and carnivores, it is much reduced. To some people, it is considered not just a useless leftover, but a liability as well, with its frequently capacity to become infected, inflamed and eventually burst, which could cause drastic damage, if not deadly results. But is this organ as worthless as implied? Is it just an evolutionary leftover? Apparently it is not. The growing scientific consensus suggests that the appendix is indeed quite important, especially in embryonic development, though it remains functional in different ways into adulthood.[3]

            Another very common structure deemed vestigial is the so-called “tailbone” in humans. This curved structure at the end of the spine is said to be the remnants of a tail from when our proto-monkey ancestors still had them, presumably for balance during their arboreal lifestyle. It is not at all uncommon for many to deem it as worthless leftovers[4] without thinking twice. These claims, if true, would leave us in a very uncomfortable situation, quite literally.

“For instance, the coccyx is one part of a three-part support for a person in the seated position. Weight is distributed between the bottom portions of the two hip bones (or ischium) and the tailbone, providing balance and stability when a person is seated…The tailbone is the connecting point for many pelvic floor muscles. These muscles help support the anus and aid in defecation, support the vagina in females, and assist in walking, running, and moving the legs.[5]

Even with these admissions of important purpose of this bone, properly called the coccyx, these authors still dogmatically define it as vestigial, apparently ignorant to the words they wrote directly opposite to that conclusion. If the coccyx bone is an important location for the attachments of ligaments and tendons, then how could it truly be considered vestigial? This is a clear example of the weakness of the homological argument: it may look similar to a tiny tail to the imaginative eye, but that in no way proves that it actually is a tail. Similarity does not equal relationship.

            In a similar instance, though outside the human body, it is commonly argued that the little pelvic bones in cetaceans are the remnants of legs from their evolutionary ancestors that walked the land. Over time, with the fading need to return to land and the further adaptation into a fully aquatic environment, the early proto-whales were suggested to have slowly lost functional legs. The legs didn’t simply disappear, but rather shrank in size and complexity until all that are left are the current pelvic bones. Like the coccyx bone in humans, it had, for many years, been deemed an evolutionary leftover with no function. Yet again, however, we see that this assumption of vestigiality is incorrect. 

            Evolutionary biologists from none other than the respectable Harvard University have tackled this false vestigiality, even if they themselves do not even realize it.[6] While still assuming the whale pelvic bones are the remnants of legs, they turn around and preach how useful they actually are.  Their research has found that these pelvic bones are actually important attachment sites of muscles important for sexual reproduction. These bones are apparently able to help guide the male whale genitalia during mating, a difficult task for such a large, water-bound mammal. Without these pelvic bones, whale copulation would be quite a bit more hit and miss, resulting in lower chances of producing offspring, and possibly limiting the population of cetaceans altogether, which could easily end in an evolutionary dead end.  Again, because of their positioning, homologous relationships are presumed, but not proven.

            Overall, this argument for vestigiality ends up being too shallow to be as clear a proof for evolutionary relationships as is typically claimed. This is mainly because the argument for vestigial organs is not a scientific one, but rather a theological one. Dr. Paul Nelson wrote on this very concept in Biology and Philosophy. He noted, “Evolutionists have long contended that the organic world falls short of what one might expect from an omnipotent and benevolent creator. “[7]

When people try to explain how or why a creator might have created, they are well beyond the boundaries of the modern applications of science. To make such claims, you have to imply knowledge of the creator and what their goals were. When an evolutionist implies “God would not build an organ that way,” they are building their case as a negative case against their understanding of who God is and how they perceive him to work, not on scientific suppositions. This use of theology undermines the purpose of the argument for vestigial organs.

III. Ontogeny

            Another common argument from homology is found in the study of embryology. Stemming from as early as Darwin’s lifetime, some biologists claimed to see the actual evolutionary stages played out in the development of an organism’s embryo. As Darwin himself wrote, “…the embryo is the animal in its less modified state; and in so far it reveals the structure of it progenitor… community in embryonic structure reveals community of descent.”[8] Many of the shapes and structures that early embryologists discovered seemed very similar to each other, leading to these claims of homologous relationship. Embryologists like Karl Ernst von Baer suggested that the early stages of embryonic growth, be it in birds, mammals or reptiles, all looked incredibly alike. German biologist Ernst Haeckel took this concept to the extreme with his famous phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” This biogenetic law of his, also known as recapitulation, was influential in shaping evolutionary thought during his day. His artistic representations of the embryonic stages of multiple different species spread like wildfire because the similarities were uncannily similar. Haeckel claimed that organisms, humans for example, undergo the major evolutionary stages during development, going from single cellular, to multicellular, and all the way up to chordates and finally to their final modern stage on the evolutionary ladder.

            Sadly, Haeckel was overly attached to his biogenetic law and its boon for evolutionary theory. In his drive to prove Darwinian evolution, he took short cuts by literally altering the artistic representations in manners that forced the similarity beyond what was actually seen. His ruse was eventually discovered and he was forced to retract the claims he made, but by then it was too late. His concept had already taken root in the mind of the public. For decades, his infamous depictions of embryonic homologies remained for all to see in educational textbooks. Some college professors admit that the biogenetic law in its full form was false, but that the basic concepts are still sound science.

A modern day embryologist realized that the similarities claimed by people like Haeckel had not been accurately tested. He built a team of researchers and tackled the question himself. His published findings in the journal Anatomy and Embryology[9] reviewed the similarities of an even larger sample size than Haeckel had reviewed. His findings were conclusive. Needless to say, there were very obvious differences that any competent embryologist could see that show the differences between the organisms in the earlier stages, undermining the original assumptions of homology.

IV. DNA Homologies

            Darwinian evolution is founded on the concept of common ancestry. Darwin made a convincing case to his contemporaries, but the generations that followed him have had to morph the argument based on the ever-growing knowledge of DNA and genetics. If you ask an evolutionist, the transition into the growing field of genetics was one of the best things for evolution. Textbook authors like Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine state categorically

At the molecular level, the universal genetic code and homologous molecules provide evidence of common descent…All cells use information coded in DNA and RNA to carry information from one generation to the next and direct protein synthesis. This genetic code is nearly identical in almost all organisms, including bacteria, yeasts, plants, fungi, and animals. This is powerful evidence that all organisms evolved from common ancestors that shared this code.[10]

The realization that all life on Earth has DNA was gobbled up like candy to further the Darwinian gospel, but do these homologies truly support Darwinian evolution?

            A first shortcoming of this common evolutionary assumption is a clear upset of universal ancestry by none other than what could be compared to a universal familial DNA test. Unlike what Miller and Levine boldly claim, we are now finding many different genetic codes in different organisms. They may use the same basic DNA materials, but their codes are far too different to show a united ancestry of all living things. In fact, they have found twenty-four different codes,[11] and, due to the fragility of the encoded information, such drastic variations could not be sustained between the generations. This could be compared to a child knowing fluent Spanish after being raised in an exclusively English home. Where did that child learn its language? There is no feasible way to tweak one or two words from English to arrive at fluent Spanish, yet these codes would have to make such sudden (but still functional) changes to be related, which is not feasible. Each of these is more likely to have its own unique origins. A cohesive, universal, homologous genetic code for all life has major disconnects.

            It goes beyond just those twenty four codes too. Some of the codes that are different than what was deemed standard are found in the mitochondria’s own set of DNA. Multiple mDNA’s have been discovered that use unique codes. If we find eukaryotic cells that have similar nuclear DNA, yet their mDNA is different, we are forced away from the conclusion of close relationship, since all mDNA should have originated early on in the evolution of eukaryotes. For example, invertebrates and vertebrates cannot share a common ancestor since their mDNA is not even based upon the same code. These codes cannot change overnight. Even slight changes can be catastrophic.

            Even if we focus on what is often considered a great example of close homology, we find the evidence coming up short. In the instance of our relationship with the higher apes, such as the bonobos or chimpanzees, it is very often claimed that we have a 96% similarity between our DNAs.[12] Frans de Waal, a primate scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia boldly asserted, “We are apes in every way, from our long arms and tailless bodies to our habits and temperament.” Again, as with other examples of homologies, once we look past the outer layers of the arguments, the illusion drops away.

            This 96-98% similarity figure is based upon comparison of small sections of the human and chimp genomes. When one does a more thorough comparison of larger portions of the chromosomes, we get much lower percentages.

Genome-wide, only 70% of the chimpanzee DNA was similar to human under the most optimal alignment conditions. While, chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity, the overall extreme discontinuity between the two genomes defies evolutionary time-scales and dogmatic presuppositions about a common ancestor.[13]

That 70% similarity is a drastic reversal for homology claims. These higher claims of similarity are borderline deceptive, but have been very effective in duping many people for decades. Homologies like this are nothing more than conclusions based upon incomplete research.

            The human-chimpanzee relationship is an even deeper problem for evolution than just the genome comparisons. It also gets down to finding the actual genetic links that could prove the possibility of the physical changes we see. Dr. Paul Nelson, in a presentation at Biola University, described a short list of traits that set chimpanzees apart from humans physically. The list includes a baculum, a lack of pharyngeal air sacs, no chin, pigmented sclera, no eyebrows, and many others. If we hypothetically agreed with the 96-98% similarity in the two genomes, we still have an uphill battle to show that it is even possible to create all of these changes with only that 2-4% DNA change. If all those changes could occur with so little DNA variation, then we should be able to identify where the “switches” are that control them. The pigmentation in the eye in a chimp is black while in humans it is white. Shouldn’t that color change be a simple switch of a gene or two? But such things have been evading evolutionists. Could they possibly find one or two possible changes? Sure, but the list is incredibly long and varied for such a small DNA difference to account for. To lose a full bone (like the baculum), we are likely to see a much larger variation. Even if the DNA matched as much as they claimed, the homologies have very little strength behind their claims of common ancestry.

V. Conclusion

            Evolutionary homologies seem so conclusive, but as in the Wizard of Oz, once we peer behind the curtain, we find that the whole thing was a charade. The comparative anatomy posters in biology textbooks are deceptively used to push the Darwinian concept in dogmatic fashion, yet they lack the strength to stand on their own merits. If anyone dares to move the curtain of evolutionary dogmatism, they will find a theory that is crumbling under its own insinuations. Modern scientific investigation does not support homologous relationships; rather, it reveals it for what it really is: a modern myth.

Works Cited

  • Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (1964) 449.
  • Miller & Levine, Biology,  (New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2014), 469-470.
  • Nelson, Paul. “The Role of Theology in Current Evolutionary Reasoning,” Biology & Philosophy. (October 1996), Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 493–517

[1] Miller & Levine, Biology,  (New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2014), 469.

[2] Miller, Brandon. “Top 10 Useless Limbs (and Other Vestigial Organs),” Live Science (February 2005) https://www.livescience.com/11317-top-10-useless-limbs-vestigial-organs.html (accessed Oct. 10th, 2016).

[3] Martin, Loren G. “What is the function of the human appendix? Did it once have a purpose that has since been lost?” Scientific American (2017). https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-the-function-of-the-human-appendix-did-it-once-have-a-purpose-that-has-since-been-lost/ (accessed Oct. 11th, 2017)

[4] Caba, Justin. “10 Useless Human Body Parts: What You Do And Don’t Need.” Medical Daily (2017). http://www.medicaldaily.com/10-useless-human-body-parts-what-you-do-and-dont-need-297264

[5] Staehler, Richard A. “Anatomy of the Coccyx (Tailbone).” Spine Health (January 2017). https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/spine-anatomy/anatomy-coccyx-tailbone (accessed Oct. 11th, 2017)

[6] Reuell, Peter. “Status Shift for Whale Pelvic Bones,” Harvard Gazette (October 2014). https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2014/10/status-shift-for-whale-pelvic-bones/ (accessed Oct. 11th, 2017).

[7] Nelson, Paul. “The Role of Theology in Current Evolutionary Reasoning,” Biology & Philosophy. (October 1996), Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 493–517

[8] Darwin, Charles. On the Origin of Species, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (1964) 449.

[9] Richardson, M., Hanken, J., Gooneratne, M. et al. Anatomy & Embryology (1997) 196: 91. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004290050082

[10] Miller & Levine, Biology,  (New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., 2014), 470.

[11]Koonin, Eugene V. and Wolf, Yuri, I. “The Common Ancestry of Life,” NCBI (2010). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Taxonomy/taxonomyhome.html/index.cgi?chapter=cgencodes (accessed Oct. 12th, 2017).

[12] Lovgren, Stefan “Chimps, Humans 96 Percent the Same, Gene Study Finds,”

 National Geographic News (August 2005). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/08/0831_050831_chimp_genes.html (accessed Oct. 10th, 2017).

[13] Tomkins, Jeffrey P. “New Research Evaluationg Similarities Between Human and Chimpanzee DNA,” Institute of Creation Research (2013). http://www.icr.org/article/new-research-evaluating-similarities (accessed Oct. 12th, 2017).

The Origins of Complex Specified Information

“DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

― Bill Gates, The Road Ahead

            For many, the debate over the origins of life has been settled. It is often assumed that Charles Darwin rendered unnecessary any arguments that the complexity of life needed to be explained by something outside of nature. Darwin and his disciples have been confidently shoveling dirt over the opposition for generations. However, new arguments for intelligent design have arisen: the discovery of complex specified information in biological life has become both intelligent design’s greatest strength and naturalistic evolution’s greatest weakness. 

I. Evidence from DNA

            Within modern genetic research, we have had many breakthroughs in the decoding of the DNA molecule. Deoxyribonucleic acid, (DNA) has been identified as one of the most efficient information storage methods ever known. Not even digital code from the most advanced supercomputers measures up to DNA’s compact and proficient design. Software pioneer Bill Gates said, “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software we’ve ever created.”[1] Upon this incredible molecule, lays a code hidden within a sequence of molecules called base pairs. The pattern of these base pairs could be compared to a digital code’s language of ones and zeros. This information rich molecule contains what Dr. Stephen C. Meyer has called complex specified information.[2] Meyer explained,

The crucial biomolecular constituents of living organisms possess… “specified information” or “specified complexity.” Biological information… constitutes a salient feature of living systems that any origin-of-life scenario must explain “the origin of.” Further… all naturalistic chemical evolutionary theories have encountered difficulty explaining the origin of such functionally “specified” biological information.”[3]

Clearly it’s reasonable to doubt the ability of naturalistic evolution’s explanatory power for DNA if it cannot explain the origins of life’s instruction manual.

II. Specified Complexity

            What is complex specified information, and why does this provide such a headache for naturalistic evolution? To understand this, one must first understand the terms “specified” and “complexity”. For example, when we see a set of letters like “ESGIUHKDMNB,” we see a rare or highly unlikely event. If I were to randomly hit keys on my keyboard, it would be highly unlikely that I would hit the keys in that same sequence. This makes this a “complex” sequence. When we see something more like “FOX,” we can identify it as a sequence that conforms to a previously known pattern, making it specified. The second case is not complex because it could be randomly reproduced with the proper amount of time. Now let’s combine the two examples. A sentence, such as “WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?” is a chain of letters and spaces that are both complex, due to the difficulty of random generation in the perfect order, and specified, because they are ordered in a specific way that conveys a previously understood pattern. Likewise, DNA shows incredible levels of specified complexity in its informational storage. Meyer concludes “…my characterization of DNA and RNA [ribonucleic acid] as molecules that store functional or specified information is not even remotely controversial within mainstream biology.”[4]

George Wald once claimed, in Scientific American, “Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.”[5] Wald’s claims, however, are based on assumptions that more time can make highly unlikely events possible. It is a common misunderstanding of probabilities to assume that with enough time, things that are astronomically improbable will simply come to pass. Wald even suggests that some scientists are openly returning to spontaneous generation to explain life’s origins.[6] If this is true, scientists would be ignoring the simple, yet conclusive debunking of spontaneous generation from centuries earlier because they have very few other choices to explain the origin of specified complexity with.

Is it possible to produce the key building blocks of life through a purely natural and random process? Director of the Biologic Institute Dr. Douglas Axe explains, 

A prevalent idea at the time was that proteins were not particularly fussy about the sequence of amino acids [the building blocks of proteins] along their chains, and even less fussy about the identities of the amino acid that end up on the outside of their folded structure. According to many scientists then, all a protein needed in order to fold was an appropriate placement of water-loving and water-repelling amino acid appendages along the chain.[7]

Simply put, it was commonly assumed that proteins were fairly easy to make. That notion, however, didn’t last long. Through his research on proteins, Axe has discovered that the odds of producing functioning proteins by chance were beyond his wildest imagination.

… I was able to put a number on the actual rarity—a startling number. With only one good protein sequence for every 1074 bad ones, I had found functional proteins to be…rarer than Denton’s criterion! Unless this number was overturned somehow, a decisive blow had been dealt to the idea that proteins arose from accidental causes.[8]

To put that 1×1074 probability in perspective, it is estimated that the “…number of stars may very well be around 1.2×1023  – or just over 100 sextillion.”[9] Through a process of randomly mutating sequences of the amino acids in proteins, Axe discovered that chance alone could not explain the origins of these molecules. Therefore, the identification of specified complexity in DNA forces researchers to look for answers in places other than random recombination. 

III. Interconnectivity in DNA, RNA, and Proteins

By definition, natural selection, the proposed mechanism that drives evolution forward, can only work on living, self-replicating organisms. Natural selection cannot apply to chemicals, and this is where evolutionary theory has problems: DNA requires proteins to read it, package it, maintain and fix it. Even DNA reproduction requires proteins. RNA, a copy of DNA, is required to produce proteins, both because it brings the instructions for the proteins and because it constitutes a functioning portion of the process that produces protein strands. RNA relies on DNA for its information and proteins for forming it as a copy of that information. This leads to one significant puzzle of interconnectivity and instigates a chicken and egg scenario: which came first: the DNA, the RNA, or the protein? Natural selection cannot produce all three parts simultaneously. Robert F. Service states:

In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves.[10]

Even though this seems to be quite puzzling, some evolutionary science writers suggest that it could still be solved. Service continues

Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start. Although the new work does not prove that this is how life started, it may eventually help explain one of the deepest mysteries in modern science.[11]

By claiming that the building blocks of life are fairly easy to get started, many imply that the rest of the process of building a living organism should fall into place rather easily.

            The issue here is that these biomolecules are just the building blocks. As Axe’s research shows, putting those biomolecules together in a functional order is inconceivably difficult.[12] One could compare this situation to having all the parts to an automobile, but leaving random chance to put all of them together in a functional manner.

IV. Other Explanations for Origins of Complex Specified Information

            If complex specified information cannot be explained by natural selection, what else could account for it? There are only three possibilities left. One is the random recombination of parts that just happened to produce a functioning molecule that included specified information. Imagine, for a moment, that DNA was a book of blank pages. Now, picture a stream of random letters, numbers, and punctuation appearing on those pages until every page was filled. Would it be logical to think that the product is now a novel? Of course not! It would be gibberish. If occasional words did appear, they would soon be consumed by the degenerative nature of random mutations. If a few words appeared, they are still worthless since they have neither context nor function. Logically, if a string of letters such as “FORWUBFAWAS” appears at random, we may notice “FOR” and “WAS,” but in their context, they lack any value. In DNA, a single “word” means nothing in functional terms if there isn’t a sentence around it. An instruction manual is an apt comparison to DNA because one needs to see all the steps to be able to build the functioning product. Famous atheist Richard Dawkins has recognized these similarities: “The machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.”[13] If a prominent supporter of the naturalistic evolutionary view sees this comparison, one should take note.

            However, Dawkins suggests that this design is illusory and “…the living results of natural selection overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker, [they] impress us with the illusion of design and planning.”[14] Dawkins would conclude that our notions of design are flawed and that natural selection, a directionless process could create the illusion of design; however, this ignores the observational nature of the scientific method.

However, is Dawkins correct that our intuitions about design are not trustworthy? Axe wrote, “…whenever we think we would be unable to achieve a particular useful result without first learning how, we judge that result to be unattainable by accident.”[15] Thus, our design intuition can be scientifically observed to be correct. We can look back at Bill Gates’ comparison of DNA to computer code: what is the only observable source for the information found in computer code? An intelligent mind is the only known cause, and science must be based upon our observations. Thus, using proper scientific methodology, we must conclude based on our observations, that, because DNA contains such a richness of functional information, it must come from a similar source as computer code, written novels, or instruction manuals: an intelligent mind.

            If the origins of information cannot be traced from natural selection or random processes, then what other options are there? In 1969, Dean Kenyon, Professor Emeritus of Biology at San Francisco State University, and coauthor Gary Steinman developed an idea in a book entitled Biochemical Predestination. They argued that life might have been “biochemically predestined” by the properties of attraction existing between its constituent chemical parts, particularly among the amino acids in proteins.”[16] Their textbook became a predominant text on chemical evolutionary theory, and suggested that there were predispositions in molecular attractions in these biomolecules that made functional proteins not just likely, but necessary.

However, Kenyon himself eventually discredited his own theory. “Ironically… Dean Kenyon has now explicitly repudiated such theories as both incompatible with empirical findings and theoretically incoherent.”[17] Simply put, any attractions seen in the bonding of amino acids “…do not correlate to actual sequences in large classes of known proteins”[18] Some amino acids have particular attractions to others, but they are not strong enough to force the particular functional order needed to get the working proteins we see today.

Explaining DNA’s information-rich sequences by appealing to differential bonding affinities meant that there had to be chemical bonds of differing strength between the different bases along the information-bearing axis of the DNA molecule. Yet, as it turns out… there are no bonds at all between the critical information-bearing bases in DNA.[19]

Because there are no actual chemical bonds between the information storing base pairs in DNA, there is no way that stronger bonding attractions in biochemical predestination could explain the existence of DNA’s complex specified information.

            If neither natural selection, random chance, nor chemical necessity can explain the origin of complex specified information, then what else is left? Logically, if an event cannot happen through these mechanisms, there is only one reasonable alternative. Intelligent design has the explanatory power to help us comprehend the origins of these complex biomolecules and their complex specified information, because “Intelligent design is the scientific study of the intelligible principle of biological function.”[20] Because the functions are complex and specified, an intelligent cause is the only logical answer to the origins of this information. In all our common observations, we see similar types of information only in books, digital code, and other analogous sources. Where does this breed of information come from? Do books write themselves? Can a computer randomly produce more functional code? No, these things require an intelligent source to infuse more information into them. The intelligent causation of life, therefore, is the only scientifically viable explanation we have left. Naturalistic evolution has been buried under the burden of proof, while Intelligent Design should take its earned place at the forefront of science.

Works cited

Axe, Douglas, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed (New York: HarperOne, 2016), 33-34.

Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books/Harper Collins, 1995), 17.

Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986), 21.

Egnor, Michael, “Life is a ‘Distinguished Outcome,’” Evolution news and Views, (Nov. 2015), http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/life_is_a_disti101061.html (accessed Sept 19, 2016)

Gates, Bill, The Road Ahead (Boulder, Colo.: Blue Penguin, 1996), 228.

Kenyon, Dean and Steinman, Gary, Biochemical Predestination, 199–211, 263–66, quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003), 248.

Meyer, Stephen C., “Denying the Signature: Functional Information Is the Fact to Be Explained,” Evolution News and Views (Nov. 2015), http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/denying_the_sig_2101021.html (accessed Sept. 15, 2016)

Meyer, Stephen C., “DNA and the Origin of Life,” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (East Lansing: Michigan State University, 2003), 237.

Meyer, Stephen C., Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 109.

Service, Robert F., “Researchers May Have Solved Origin-of-life Conundrum,” Science (March 2015), http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/03/researchers-may-have-solved-origin-life-conundrum (accessed Sept. 15th, 2016)

Villanueva, John Carl, “How Many Atoms are there in the Universe?” Dec. 2015, http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-universe/ (Accessed 9/18/16)

Wald, George, The Origin of Life (Scientific American 191, 1954): 44-53, quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003), 237.


[1] Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (Boulder, Colo.: Blue Penguin, 1996), 228.

[2] Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 109

[3] Stephen C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life,” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (East Lansing: Michigan State University, 2003), 237.

[4] Stephen C. Meyer “Denying the Signature: Functional Information Is the Fact to Be Explained,” Evolution News and Views (Nov. 2015), http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/denying_the_sig_2101021.html (accessed Sept. 15, 2016)

[5] George Wald, The Origin of Life (Scientific American 191, 1954): 44-53, quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003), 237

[6] Wald, The Origins of Life 1954, 44

[7] Douglas Axe, Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life is Designed (New York: HarperOne, 2016), 33-34

[8] Ibid., 57.

[9] John Carl Villanueva, “How Many Atoms are there in the Universe?” Dec. 2015, http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-universe/ (Accessed 9/18/16)

[10] Robert F. Service, “Researchers May Have Solved Origin-of-life Conundrum,” Science (March 2015), http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/03/researchers-may-have-solved-origin-life-conundrum (accessed Sept. 15th, 2016)

[11] Ibid

[12] Axe, Undeniable, 57.

[13] Dawkins, Richard. River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books/Harper Collins, 1995), 17.

[14] Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986), 21

[15] Axe, Undeniable 2016, 20

[16] Dean Kenyon and Gary Steinman, Biochemical Predestination, 199–211, 263–66, quoted in Stephen C. Meyer, “DNA and the Origin of Life” in Darwinism, Design and Public Education (Rhetoric & Public Affairs), ed. John Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer (Michigan State University Press, 2003), 248

[17] Stephen C. Meyer, DNA and the Origins of Life n.d. 249

[18] ibid., 250.

[19] Meyer, Signature., 243.

[20] Michael Egnor, “Life is a ‘Distinguished Outcome,’” Evolution news and Views, (Nov. 2015), http://www.evolutionnews.org/2015/11/life_is_a_disti101061.html (accessed Sept 19, 2016)

Philosophy’s Untimely (& Over Exaggerated) Death

Stephen Hawking: “Philosophy is dead.” Me: “Can you prove that scientifically?”

In our modern world where scientism has seized hold of western culture, famous scientists tend to hold more sway than most other educated thinkers. Men like Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse-Tyson, and even Bill Nye are held up as celebrity experts to be heeded. In their opinion, science and metaphysics are non-overlapping magisteria; however, even though these scientists claim that science is the best source of truth and understanding, they frequently slip into metaphysical claims. The purpose of this paper is to show how their lack of understanding on how metaphysics, science and other topics of thought interact is one of their greatest weaknesses.

I. Introduction

            Dr. Stephen Hawking is a world-renowned physicist. He was the appointed prestigious Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, a position once held by none other than Sir Isaac Newton himself. Space.com heralds him as “…one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists in history.”[1] Clearly, this is a man of great distinction, and one whom we should heed, right? If so, when he makes the bold claim that “…philosophy is dead,”[2] should we have a funeral for the field of philosophy? No, do not close down all philosophy and metaphysics courses just yet. Dr. Hawking, rather blindly, has made this conclusion from none other than philosophical arguments. Celebrity scientists like Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson all hold low views on the usefulness of philosophy, often insinuating that science is superior in usefulness and ability to answer important questions. Their common and often public conclusions are absorbed into our culture, even though it is a blatant misunderstanding of how we can pursue truth.

            In a “Big Think” video,[3] Bill Nye of the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” fame was asked about the value of philosophy. In a roundabout and discombobulated way, Nye seemed to conclude that philosophy was of little value. He made it apparently clear that he has no training in philosophy, and holds great misconceptions of its usefulness. If this is true, why do people even care what he thinks on the issue? Is Bill Nye a philosopher? Clearly he is not. Is he even a scientist? Well, that is debatable, but I will not touch on that here. Why does the public hold him up as a reliable expert? It gets down to our culture slowly succumbing to scientism and materialism.

II. Scientism

            What is scientism? “Scientism is the idea that all forms of intellectual inquiry must conform to the model(s) of science in order to be rational.”[4] Expanding on this, it can be said that, from a view from within scientism:

No knowledge is deemed valid or justified unless its claims can be tested and verified empirically through experimentation, observation and repetition. This criterion is part of an intellectual infrastructure which controls the way people think, argue, infer, and make sense of things. Truth claims that do not submit to this kind of scrutiny become irrelevant, invalid, or unacceptable as per a pure fantasy.[5]

In other words, empirical study is the only way to find rational truths, and anything that cannot be empirically tested is automatically rejected.

This concept has grown steadily ever since Charles Darwin produced a naturalistic mechanism for the origins of life. Since then, western culture has slowly increased its push against all things they deem to be outside of empirical testability: religion and philosophy are two of the major ones to be hit hardest.

            As Bill Nye mentioned in his “Big Think” video on philosophy, science helps answer things through the senses. Philosophical concepts or religious ideologies are often abstract and intangible, so their value is supposedly less than what could be concluded by empirical testing. This, of course, is closely related to generations of thinkers through whom the modern rise in reductionism stems. This is where everything in human behavior is explainable strictly by the firing of the brain’s neurons, which in turn are reduced to atomic physics. With reductionism being assumed, scientism would inevitably come to dominate thought since empirical methodologies are the most reliable cause and effect testing methods.

III. Materialism

            Stemming from Darwinian mechanical explanations, scientists have often pushed far away from all things they could not explain empirically. The supernatural or spiritual realm was one of the first real casualties in this turn of thought. Science became naturalistic, and this change can be linked to a theological change.

            One of the earlier theological proponents of the application of naturalistic methods in science was René Descartes. René and his adherent Leibniz concluded that God was flawless and perfectly powerful. To remain as such, they claimed that God would have had to start the universe and set the universal laws of nature, but never interact in creation again. They likened God to a supreme watchmaker, one who so perfectly designed a watch that it would never need to be rewound again to stay on time.[6] If the creation was in constant need of re-tuning to continue working, then that imperfection supposedly reflected poorly back on the creator.

The implications of such a view is that God created the universe, but was not directly involved in the processes that lead up to the origins of life and man; therefore, the laws of nature explain the origins of life and can functionally be understood through the application of naturalistic scientific methods.

            Descartes’ concept of a theologically founded naturalism lead into a full-fledged materialism, which is the rejection of all that is divine. Many later thinkers took Descartes and Leibniz’s concept just one step further and claimed that even the origins of the universe could be explained by natural laws without divine intervention. The human body could then be explained all in physical terms, with no supernatural or spiritual component to it. Thomas Henry Huxley, a fervent proponent of Darwinian evolution, openly held such a materialistic view:

I hold with the Materialist that the human body, like all living bodies, is a machine, all the operations of which will sooner or later be explained on physical principles. I believe that we shall sooner or later arrive at a mechanical equivalent of consciousness, just as we have arrived at a mechanical equivalent of heat.[7]

Huxley himself tied his materialism back to Descartes in the same essay as the quote above, thus lending more strength to the connection between changes in theological thought and the rise of materialism in science.

            This then marks the cut-off of science and theology. Materialism has become the status quo for modern thinkers, and empirical methods of learning have come to the forefront of the pursuit of truth. Because of this emphasis on the empirical, philosophy has lost its proper place in the hunt for knowledge. It is because of this that Bill Nye dismisses the value of philosophy and Dr. Hawking claims that philosophy is dead.

IV. Cultural Influence

            Provocative biologist and author Lewis Wolpert once claimed in a public debate that most of what philosophy told us was “obvious or trivial.” He even called the philosophy of science “pure junk.” He emphasized science’s rapid growth and constant discoveries as showing its value, while philosophy was lacking anything that lead to similar discoveries.[8] This is a representative mindset of where our culture has gone: we want instant gratification, so the rewards and achievements of science seem better than those of philosophy.

            It is not surprising how easily the white lab coat of a scientist and the discoveries such people make all the time impresses the layman. Our growth in science has lead to incredible leaps in technology in very short periods of time. In my generation alone, we have jumped from the invention of the first personal desktop computers to the invention of the Internet, and beyond. Computers started as behemoths that filled entire rooms just to do simple processing functions, but have since been able to fit into a sliver of metal or plastic in a personalized cell phone that contains more computing power and functionality than those computers that sent men to the moon. Clearly science, which leads to technology, has great powers of discovery.  Such obvious displays of progress sweep up the masses in a tidal wave of excitement. You do not have far to look to find a person glued to their phones. It is literally becoming an addiction!

            It is no surprise, then, to see the lack of cultural interest for philosophy in our modern era. While philosophy once was the uniting factor of all the studies one could pursue, it has been demoted due to its less than entertaining charisma. Slowly, philosophy has dwindled in public school education until the most typical students ever get is a basic introductory course in it in college. It is hard to make such a study as appealing to a culture that hungers for instant gratification and entertainment. You could describe thinking as a dwindling art.

            Clearly, science “celebrities” like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have been able to capitalize on the wow factor and entertainment value of science and technology. Bill Nye’s show “Bill Nye the Science Guy” was supposedly educating youth in the value of science, but his true colors have bled through and his more modern humanist agendas show up to ridicule those that deny scientism, his applied materialism. Tyson, in his recent reboot of Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” television show, used computer graphics and strong scientific “evidences” to impress and humble his audiences, yet underneath all the beautiful imagery was a dogmatic purpose: to skew public opinion against anything that contradicted his materialistic worldview. His show went so far as to portray members of the early clergy as dark, foreboding figures that wanted to stop science in its tracks at all costs. Because public figures like Nye and Tyson so openly reject alternatives to their materialism, much of the public is caught up in their worldview. Through flashy entertainment that parents deemed educational, these famous science icons have gained the trust of a whole generation. This is frightening! As none other than Adolf Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”[9] Through influence of a full generation of students through their educational shows, these men have set themselves up as experts in the mind of these who are now growing into adulthood. They then will likely share those same experiences with their children, ensnaring the next generation in the same trap.

V. Errant Truth

            Because of the growing faith in these celebrity scientists in our modern culture,many now assume (often unconsciously) that these men are making solid, trustworthy, science-based claims. Due to the lack of proper logical or philosophical training in our educational systems today, few people even take note when a scientist makes metaphysical or philosophical claims. What is often surprising is how often they actually do fall back on these non-empirically oriented ways of thinking.

            Many famous scientists constantly make truth claims about aspects of science. Bill Nye said that “Evolution is a theory, and it’s a theory that you can test. We’ve tested evolution in many ways. You can’t present good evidence that says evolution is not a fact.”[10] Neil deGrasse Tyson, in the 2014 show “Cosmos,” also said categorically that “Evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact!”[11] Even famous scientist and author Richard Dawkins tries to hit the same point home:

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact…That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is… Evolution is the only game in town, the greatest show on earth.[12]

All these influential scientists seem to be pointing in one direction: that certain conclusions in science can be considered truth. While the word “fact” is often used to mean “data,” in many cases it is actually used to infer a claim of truth. What they nor their followers realize is that they are making the metaphysical claim that science can be a source of truth. But can it?

            Logically, truth must be absolute. Truth must be true, since otherwise it would not be true to begin with. Inversely, when one says that truth cannot be true, they themselves are making an absolute truth statement, which is self contradictory. This also draws the conclusion that truth cannot change. For example, if a man was convicted of a crime and sent to prison, but later found innocent and set free, it was not the truth of his guilt that changed, it was our perception of the truth. In the same way, science is in constant flux, changing conclusions with new data seemingly every few months. Evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology David Barash hints that science should not be seen as a collection of knowledge or truths, but an “ongoing reconfiguration” that must be free to change as we focus more and more towards discovering the best conclusions.[13]

            Some people try to redefine truth, even when “truth” is still used in an absolute way:

But in science, truth is, by definition, a malleable and perfectly revisable thing. This is because scientists compile data into models of how natural systems work. As time passes, new data and perspectives are assimilated into the consensus and the models are adjusted accordingly. It’s the best we can do.[14]

This redefinition tries to help scientists avoid the repercussions of constantly evolving truth claims, but it ignores the absolute nature of truth. Truth does not change, only our perceptions of it.

With this in mind, it does not seem accurate for Nye, Tyson, and Dawkins to suggest that specific concepts in science are truths. They are making the metaphysical claims that their preferred models are absolutely true, which is not what science can do. Since science is required to be open to revision and is observably in constant change in many aspects as we learn more, we cannot claim that any part of it is truth. It aims to discover truth, but until we know all there is to know about the universe’s workings, we cannot claim to have the absolute truth.

VI. Necessity of Metaphysics in Science

            Unmistakably, our celebrity scientists have shown a lack of understanding of the necessity of philosophy and metaphysics in scientific thought; that said, what is the actual relationship between these two fields? While they are often different in their methods, empirical science and metaphysics are necessarily connected. Those stuck in scientism must stand by claims that science will one day find all the answers to every major question, but as professor emeritus of philosophy Roger Trigg said

…Naturalism—the modern version of materialism, seeing reality as defined by what is within reach of the sciences—becomes a metaphysical theory when it strays beyond methodology to talk of what can exist. Denying metaphysics and upholding materialism must itself be a move within metaphysics… The assertion that science can explain everything can never come from within science…

Questions of purpose, causation, or even reality are fundamental metaphysical questions. Science has never been capable of answering these things on its own. This is why the highest educational degree one can earn is a PhD, standing for “Doctor of Philosophy.” Historically, we see early graduates, no matter the degree focus, were required to study philosophy, since it is a foundation on which all other studies must rely. Albert Einstein agreed that philosophy was necessary for the proper practicing of science.

I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science… A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering.[15]

It is metaphysics that gives science its purpose. Why do we study nature? How can we accurately understand natural phenomena? Can we legitimately understand reality? Can there be supernatural causes for the natural world? The questions we see science trying to answer are all based on metaphysics. Science without metaphysics is like a football game without any goals: there is no purpose to the process.

VII. Conclusion

            As with Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, philosophy has arrived uninvited to its own funeral. The rumors spread by Stephen Hawking of its untimely demise were significantly exaggerated. Hawking, Nye, Tyson, and many others have simply imagined that their science could replace philosophy. From their biases coming from materialism and scientism, they have put on blinders to avoid seeing the philosophical and metaphysical foundation upon which their empirical science firmly stands. If they continue to insist that science can stand alone, they will only be building their homes on sinking sand.

            The empirical sciences and philosophical thought are joined at the hip. To separate them is to unravel their greatest power and leave science as a bird with a broken wing. It cannot soar to grand conclusions about the nature of reality or the universe without first having the help of philosophy to get it off the ground.

Works Cited

  1. Nola Taylor Redd, “Stephen Hawking Biography,” Space.com  Nov. 18 2017, https://www.space.com/15923-stephen-hawking.html
  2. Matt Warman “Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead,’” The Telegraph, May 17, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8520033/Stephen-Hawking-tells-Google-philosophy-is-dead.html
  3. bigthink. “Hey Bill Nye, ‘Does Science Have All the Answers or Should We Do Philosophy Too?’ #TuesdaysWithBill.”YouTube, YouTube, 23 Feb. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROe28Ma_tYM.
  4. Merrill Ring, “Science as the Conceptual Foundation of Human Thought: Two Cases of Scientism,” California State University, Fullerton, http://philosophy.fullerton.edu/faculty/merrill_ring/scientism.aspx
  5. Gordon Carkner, “Cultural Identifiers of Scientism,” Apologetics Canada, January 15, 2014, https://www.apologeticscanada.com/2014/01/15/cultural-identifiers-scientism/
  6. Michael N. Keas and Kerry V. Magruder, CSSR 529 Course Packet
  7. Huxley, Thomas H. “Materialism and Idealism,” Bartleby.com, http://www.bartleby.com/library/prose/2766.html (viewed 11/26/17)
  8. “Hawking vs. Philosophy,” Institute of Art and Ideas, https://iai.tv/video/hawking-vs-philosophy, (viewed 11/29/17)
  9. Adolf Hitler, Reichsparteitag, 1935. http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/nca/nca-01/nca-01-07-means-46.html (accessed 11/27/17)
  10. Sarah Fecht, “Science Guy Bill Nye Explains Why Evolution Belongs in Science Education,” Popular Mechanics, Feb. 4 2011, http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a6455/evolution-classroom-bill-nye-science-education/
  11. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: “Some of the Things that Molecules Do.” DVD, Ann Druyan, Steven Soter, (2014; Cosmos Studios, Fuzzy Door Productions)
  12. Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Simon and Schuster, Sep 22, 2009)
  13. David P. Barash, “Paradigms Lost,” Aeon, 2015: https://aeon.co/essays/science-needs-the-freedom-to-constantly-change-its-mind
  14. Allison Terbush, “Truth in Science.” Berkeley Science Review, http://berkeleysciencereview.com/truth-in-science/
  15. Albert Einstein, Correspondence to Robert Thorton in 1944. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/einstein-philscience/

[1] Nola Taylor Redd, “Stephen Hawking Biography,” Space.com, Nov. 18 2017, https://www.space.com/15923-stephen-hawking.html

[2] Matt Warman “Stephen Hawking tells Google ‘philosophy is dead,’” The Telegraph, May 17, 2011, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/8520033/Stephen-Hawking-tells-Google-philosophy-is-dead.html

[3] bigthink. “Hey Bill Nye, ‘Does Science Have All the Answers or Should We Do Philosophy Too?’ #TuesdaysWithBill.”YouTube, 23 Feb. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROe28Ma_tYM.

[4] Merrill Ring, “Science as the Conceptual Foundation of Human Thought: Two Cases of Scientism,” California State University, Fullerton, http://philosophy.fullerton.edu/faculty/merrill_ring/scientism.aspx

[5] Gordon Carkner, “Cultural Identifiers of Scientism,” Apologetics Canada, January 15, 2014, https://www.apologeticscanada.com/2014/01/15/cultural-identifiers-scientism/

[6] Michael N. Keas and Kerry V. Magruder, CSSR 529 Course Packet

[7] Huxley, Thomas H. “Materialism and Idealism,” Bartleby.com, http://www.bartleby.com/library/prose/2766.html (viewed 11/26/17)

[8] “Hawking vs. Philosophy,” Institute of Art and Ideas, https://iai.tv/video/hawking-vs-philosophy, (viewed 11/29/17)

[9] Adolf Hitler, Reichsparteitag, 1935. http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/nca/nca-01/nca-01-07-means-46.html (accessed Nov. 27th)

[10] Sarah Fecht, “Science Guy Bill Nye Explains Why Evolution Belongs in Science Education,” Popular Mechanics, Feb. 4 2011, http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/animals/a6455/evolution-classroom-bill-nye-science-education/

[11] Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: “Some of the Things that Molecules Do.” DVD, Ann Druyan, Steven Soter, (2014; Cosmos Studios, Fuzzy Door Productions)

[12] Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Simon and Schuster, Sep 22, 2009)

[13] David P. Barash, “Paradigms Lost,” Aeon, 2015: https://aeon.co/essays/science-needs-the-freedom-to-constantly-change-its-mind

[14] Allison Terbush, “Truth in Science.” Berkeley Science Review, http://berkeleysciencereview.com/truth-in-science/

[15] Albert Einstein, Correspondence to Robert Thorton in 1944. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/einstein-philscience/

Hello, My Name is Truth.

The notion that truth is relative is still the view embraced by many people. If truth is relative, then we will lose sight of the objective feature of things. Conceiving truth as relative particularly would put fundamental Christian doctrines at stake. In this regard, the Christian view of objective morality should be rejected if indeed truth is relative. So in this paper, I will show why we should take truth as being grounded in an objective feature of things.

I. Truth’s “general relativity”

            I start off my school year with each new class of high school biology students with an essay in an attempt to lay the foundations for my push against scientism. The prompt of this essay asks the students to describe what they think the actual nature of truth is: either absolute and unchanging or relative to each person’s individual situations and experiences. After many quizzical looks and much head scratching, my students get to work, trying to produce a somewhat coherent argument in the allotted time.

            While some students are quick to stand on the absolute nature of truth, I have been flabbergasted by how many conclude, not only that truth is relative, but also that truth is both relative and absolute. Even at the high school level, we see a drastic misunderstanding of what truth is and can be. With the removal of logic and philosophy curriculum from K-12 education, our modern generations are lacking the fundamental thinking skills necessary to identify a logically cohesive argument. Without these skills, an individual is left either building weak arguments or relying on “experts” to tell them how to think, which is likely what is leading our modern culture downhill so rapidly. Until we can teach our students how to think instead of what to think, this will likely continue to degrade theological foundations for thought, including that for Christianity and Christian morals.

II. Nature of Truth

            Can truth be relative? Can it be both relative and absolute at the same time? To start, definitions are always vital in such discussions. The Oxford Dictionary defines truth as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”[1] It may seem redundant to claim that truth is true, but it emphasizes the nature of truth: truth cannot be false.

            Some might suggest that truth is actually relative. What is meant by relative truth?

Relativism, roughly put, is the view that truth and falsity, right and wrong, standards of reasoning, and procedures of justification are products of differing conventions and frameworks of assessment and that their authority is confined to the context giving rise to them.[2]

With relative truths, context should be what determines if it is good or bad, wrong or right. Simply put, it is the assumption that truth can change, and that is the real issue: can truth change?

With their lack of training, my students were often unable to notice the logical conundrum within their arguments. When one suggests that truth is anything except true, they are trapped within a contradiction. The statement “truth is relative” is in itself an absolute truth statement. In the same way, the statement “truth is both relative and absolute” is an absolute statement, and therefore paradoxical. Unless truth is true at all points, it was not truth in the first place. Truth cannot change. What many people, including most of my students, do not realize is that it is our perceptions of the truth that change, not the truth itself.

An example a student attempted to use to show relative truth was a criminal court case. In this example, a man was accused of murder and convicted by a jury of his peers to life in prison. He remained in prison for twenty years before new evidence arose that showed his innocence. To many of my students, they saw this case as proof that the truth could indeed change, but it is simply a failure to understand what the nature of truth actually is. In such a story, the truth was that the man was innocent the entire time, but the jury perceived him guilty based on their limited perceptions of that truth. Humanity as a whole is ensnared by this problem: we have troubles seeing the entire truth, so we need to be able to base our truth claims on the weight of evidence we can see.

This actually becomes a problem for adamant supporters of science. When scientism grows in popularity, people decide that the empirical sciences are the best source of truth; however, empirical methods fall into a trap. Science, by nature, is limited in scope. It is constantly discovering new things and building our knowledge of the universe, but we cannot call its discoveries truths since truth is absolute. Scientific discoveries do indeed point us towards the best possible explanations, but claiming that those explanations are truth means that it is absolute and unchallengeable. If any aspect of scientific discovery is not open to challenge or refutation, it is by definition, no longer science. Science by design must be open to critique and the addition of new knowledge. Until we have gleaned all knowledge from the universe, we cannot make absolute truth statements about things discovered empirically.

            If we cannot know something absolutely, how then can we trust the assumption that there is such a thing as truth? By nature, absolute truth is a logical necessity.  If a person wants to argue against truth being absolute, they must have a specific idea of what they think is true in the first place. To argue on any topic is to assume that there is a true answer.

            Where can we find absolute truth then? Often, proponents of relativism will insinuate that truth is a personal entity. What is true for one person is not always true for another. If truth is a universal entity, however, then it cannot vary from person to person like they suggest. It must be greater than any one person: something nobody can change. Temporal truths, such as “I am hungry” may not apply to all instances in time, but at the moment of feeling, the truth is that I would feel that hunger. Even having a meal and satiating that hunger cannot change the truth that I was hungry at that point in time. That hunger at that moment is absolute because we cannot go back and change it. That said, this temporal truth does not apply to all like universal truths would. How can we claim that something is a universal truth if empirical science cannot make such conclusions? We clearly need to combine evidence from a much larger spectrum of studies. Science is powerful when teamed with philosophy, history, logic, and theology. Together, we can base our understanding of reality on the best explanations.

III. Moral Absolutes

            One frequently debated topic within universal truth is the existence of absolute morality. Are there things that are always wrong or always right, or can some things be acceptable in different circumstances? Like truth, morals are often considered absolute.

Moral Absolutism is the ethical belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, regardless of the context of the act. Thus, actions are inherently moral or immoral, regardless of the beliefs and goals of the individual, society or culture that engages in the actions.[3]

For morals to be considered unconditional and applicable to everyone irrespective of their culture or religion, they must be greater than humans as a whole.

If morals were from within a person, then one person’s morals may not apply to other individuals or societies. This relative morality suggests that what is considered wrong for one person or culture might not be evil for another. For example, cannibalism is seen as horrific by most peoples, but to the cannibals themselves, it is simply normal behavior. A more modern example is sexual relations outside of marriage. When criticized by their elders, many younger individuals will suggest that the strict moral code of the earlier generations was stifling and unnecessary and that it “doesn’t apply” to them. Excuses are made so often that sexual impropriety has become normal.

…the lines between right and wrong are blurred to the point that we are no longer sure if there is such a thing as right and wrong… Instead, all truth, including morality, becomes perspectival and subjective, a matter of nothing but personal preferences and tastes.[4]

This moral relativism can also be seen from a naturalistic mentality. Clarence Darrow once defended two teenage killers, Leopold and Loeb, whom had murdered a fourteen year old, just for the thrill of it. Darrow urged them to plead guilty, but adamantly argued in court that these boys were simply the product of their physical nature.

Essentially Darrow argued that what we do, and the way we are, ultimately comes down to luck.  We are responsible neither for our heredity nor for our environment… A terrible crime, then, should be viewed like the effects of a hurricane or an earthquake. [5]

The moral implications of naturalism are that we are simply the products of our genes. Our actions are predetermined physical responses. The Leopold and Loeb murder was simply animal instincts and they should not be held accountable for their genes. Morals go out the window in this case, and murder, rape, theft, or any other previously reprehensible act is simply humans acting within their genes. With morals goes the entire justice system, like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If nobody can be held accountable to their actions, then we can never punish them for such things.

            Yet can we change our actions? Are we held responsible? Of course! A child is punished for lying or stealing, because that can change their behavior for the future. We can easily show that children without discipline grow up to become entitled and troublesome due to a lack of understanding of right or wrong, but those brought up with proper discipline are more likely to recognize moral boundaries.

            It gets down to where such morals come from then. Does the action of a child being taught that cannibalism is morally evil make it evil, or is there some universal source that has predetermined that moral law? There must be. If morals were not fixed by a source greater than each individual human (or each culture), then they would become contradictory. To state that morals are relative is to make an absolute truth statement about them. Moral truth cannot be relative and still be true at the same time. Therefore, morals must be universal, absolute, and written by a greater source. To the Christian, this author of morality is God. If it is not created by an unchanging God, then the morals will never be able to remain constant. Our civilization as a whole would implode on itself in anarchy.

IV. Biblical Implications of Truth.

            For the Christian, the Bible plays a crucial role. It is necessary for the Bible to be true in all parts for the entire foundation of the faith to be worth believing in. If the Bible is not true, then Christianity crumbles. In reality, the Bible, being the written word of God, must reflect God’s nature accurately to show us that he is worthy of our worship.  If the Bible is not inerrant, then how can any of it be trusted? Can fundamental aspects of the faith, like the miracles of the Exodus, or the resurrection of Jesus be trusted? We must first understand the nature of God, on whom all this must be founded.

            What is the character of God as revealed in the Bible? He is our all-powerful creator (Isaiah 33:6); He is all-wise (Job 12:13, Psalm 147:5); He is love (1 John 4:7-8); and most relevant to this discussion, he is the source of truth (Titus 1:2). Truth must be absolute, so for God to be a source of truth, he must be unchanging. Clearly all things in the universe are changing, but God stays the same. If the great “I Am” were a changing, moody being like the Greek and Roman deities, then all the above attributes could not apply.

            Christian faith stands on many core tenants. The inerrancy of scripture is absolutely essential for it to be truthfully believed. Many raise important objections to this in an attempt to show that inerrancy does not exist. One common challenge is that certain doctrines were changed over time. Critics of Christian origins, like Bauer and Ehrman, have suggested that there was not one original orthodox position, but multiple “Christian” beliefs that fought it out until the dominant one became orthodoxy in the church.[6] Clearly this would undermine the biblical message’s claim at being the inerrant word of God, if it were in any way true; but how could such a concept be true? How can such a New Testament message come from anything but one point? Every source we have, including the New Testament documents themselves, stem back to one person in time: Jesus of Nazareth. How could it be correct that multiple “orthodoxies” existed before the dominant one we have today? If they are indeed the words of Jesus, then those are the original orthodoxy and the only one at that. Anything contradictory to what Jesus had said would be considered heretical from the start. It seems absurd that those claiming to be prominent biblical scholars could write such a logically unsound concept. Like truth, the doctrines have not changed over time, only our perception of them.

            Similar to the claims above, it is quite common to hear critics argue that the biblical texts themselves have changed over time. Like a game of telephone with kids, the message is inevitably changed little by little by the scribes and priests that copied it or translated it. Most documents copied in similar ways would indeed fall prey to that issue, but in what would consider a miraculous way, the texts of scripture have not changed significantly at all. We can actually trace the chain of many of the biblical texts from the eyewitnesses to others who meticulously maintained the accounts as accurately as possible. [7] With the New Testament accounts, we have well over 5000 documents that collaborate the accuracy of our modern documents. [8]  While a few errors may be found, none of them change the meaning of the passages they are located in, preserving the message of the Bible more accurately than any other historical document ever. Far be this from undermining the Bible’s authority; proper investigation unveils that the devotion of the scholars who had been charged with copying these texts was incredibly accurate.

            As a biologist, it is common to hear challenges to biblical authority coming from a more scientific basis. All too often, it is not just the historical, but also the scientific accuracy that is disputed. The first target of scientific critics is most definitely the existence of God. Entire tomes could be written in response to these claims, so there is not the time to cover it all here; however, the claim that science has disproved the existence of God is a fundamental misunderstanding of the capabilities of science. The scientific method is quite useful when studying the natural world, but by definition, a supernatural being is above the natural. Science cannot measure, quantify or identify specific supernatural beings or events because that is outside its purview to do so. When someone claims that science has proven there is no God, they are making incorrect metaphysical claims, not scientific ones.

            With that clarified, we can actually use science to identify the necessity of design in nature. The Intelligent Design movement, a non-religious scientific movement, identifies many aspects of nature that cannot be properly explained by natural, blind processes like natural selection. The origins of specified complex information is an incredible argument for design in nature. Simply put, there are different types of information. A word like “TRUE” could be considered specified due to its clear meaning, but because it is so short, the odds of it appearing by random recombination are decent. A sequence like “SFG 78FKBSIY9;RT*(DAOUC” lacks that same specified meaning, but it is complex, so this exact phrase is very unlikely to reappear by random recombination. When we see sentences like “TRUTH IS TRUE, NOT FALSE,” we see a combination of specified and complex information. This combination of both complex and specified information has never been observed (a key empirically scientific term) coming about by natural, unguided processes. The only known source of such information is an intelligent mind. Why is this important? Because the very foundations of life are built with specified complexity! DNA, RNA, and even proteins show incredible degrees of specified complexity. Because of the inability of natural selection to create such structures and because the only observed source of it is intelligence, we can only conclude that DNA and similar structures were written by an intelligent source. Clearly a designer is necessary to explain the origins of life!

            Some critics go a step further and challenge the biblical narrative by claiming that modern science has surpassed what the Bible could explain. Within this postulation, it is assumed that the Bible makes scientifically absurd claims, but this is simply a misconception about what science can claim and what the scriptures actually say. Genuine study of the Bible reveals details that not even the original authors understood why some things happened, but we can with modern science. One example is when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives. In his anguish over the trials he knew were to come, he was described to be sweating blood.[9] This is a known condition called hematohidrosis, where individuals, especially those under incredible stress, literally sweat blood.[10] While it seems like a miniscule detail, it is a vital one. It adds to the accuracy of the story, especially since few if any of the biblical authors would have ever seen such an occurrence before. How could the author make such a thing up? It clearly adds to the credibility of the text.

            Other examples of scientifically sound practices are revealed with further study. In Leviticus, the people were instructed to give the land a Sabbath rest every seven years.[11] This practice, unbeknownst to the ancient Jewish people, was vital for the replenishment of nutrients in the soil. Constant use of a plot of land strips the soil of what plants need for growth, decreasing the overall productivity of the land. Modern farmers know this well and take measures to avoid depleting the soil. Other biblical rules in the Old Testament law, like the kosher laws, were often helpful in keeping the people healthy. Pork was a common carrier of parasites. With it deemed unclean, the people were able to avoid those parasites that afflicted most other contemporary cultures. Many other laws are now known to scientifically be in the best interest of the people, especially in a pre-medicinal society. How could the people have known these were useful unless God told them? The Bible is full of concepts that are scientifically sound. Anything in the Bible that can be scientifically clarified lines up with modern science to a degree unparalleled in any ancient document. Modern science is no enemy of biblical truth; rather, it is a great source of evidence for the legitimacy of Bible.

V. Conclusion

            It can be conclusively stated that truth absolutely exists. It is blatantly illogical to assume that truth is not absolute by nature because any claims of truth being relative are themselves absolute truth claims. The existence of absolute truth demands an absolute source that is greater than the ever-evolving culture and behavior of mankind. Morals are based in truth and therefore also absolute. Evidence from history and science point resolutely to the Bible being a reliable source because God is absolute and unchanging, just like truth. We may not know all the truths about God, but that is simply because we cannot yet perceive it. One day, we will be able to look upon Truth in the face clearly and be amazed at how little we genuinely understood in the first place.

Works Cited

  1. Oxford Dictionary, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/truth
  2. Standord Encyclopedia of Philosophy (First published Fri Sep 11, 2015) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/
  3. Luke Mastin, Moral Absolutism (2008) http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html
  4. Köstenberger & Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, Crossway 2010, Wheaton Illinois (15).
  5. Tamler Sommers, Darrow and Determinism: Giving Up Ultimate Responsibility. http://www.naturalism.org/philosophy/free-will/darrow-and-determinism
  6. Köstenberger & Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, Crossway 2010, Wheaton Illinois.
  7. J. Warner Wallace, Why I Know the Story of Jesus Wasn’t Changed Over Time. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/why-i-know-the-story-of-jesus-wasnt-changed-over-time/
  8. Jonathan Morrow’s PowerPoint presentation, Biola, Summer 2017.
  9. Luke 22:44
  10. Evan Starkman, This Woman ‘Sweats’ Blood, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/bleeding-face-palms
  11. Leviticus 25:4

[1] Oxford Dictionary, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/truth

[2] Standord Encyclopedia of Philosophy (First published Fri Sep 11, 2015) https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/

[3] Luke Mastin, Moral Absolutism (2008) http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_moral_absolutism.html

[4] Köstenberger & Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, Crossway 2010, Wheaton Illinois (15).

[5] Tamler Sommers, Darrow and Determinism: Giving Up Ultimate Responsibility. http://www.naturalism.org/philosophy/free-will/darrow-and-determinism

[6] Köstenberger & Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy, Crossway 2010, Wheaton Illinois.

[7]  J. Warner Wallace, Why I Know the Story of Jesus Wasn’t Changed Over Time. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2017/why-i-know-the-story-of-jesus-wasnt-changed-over-time/

[8] Jonathan Morrow’s PowerPoint presentation, Biola, Summer 2017.

[9] Luke 22:44

[10] Evan Starkman, This Woman ‘Sweats’ Blood, WebMD,

https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/bleeding-face-palms

[11] Leviticus 25:4

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