Ditching Darwin

  A store specializing in vintage political paraphernalia displays a campaign button that reads, "Ronald Reagan is the missing link." It's a joke that scientists can appreciate, because a century and a half after Darwin, the missing links in the fossil record are still... missing. The missing link is the big hole in Darwinism. A now a new book by biologist Jeffrey Schwartz recommends ditching Darwin altogether, and looking for a new explanation of how life developed. The standard Darwinian theory is that new species arise by the gradual accumulation of tiny mutations. The theory predicts that the fossil record will reveal hundreds of thousands of transitional fossils linking each species to the next one. But the fossil record shows no such thing. Instead, new species appear suddenly--virtually overnight. As Schwartz puts it, fins turn into legs suddenly, without a trail of intermediate forms. Similarly, he says, "You don't see gradual evolution of feathers. You either have feathers or you don't." Even eyes appear out of nowhere. The Darwinian idea "that an eye evolves slowly over countless generations through painstaking accumulations of tiny mutations-that's wrong," Schwartz says. No wonder he entitles his new book Sudden Origins. And no wonder he's now in hot water in the scientific community. Ever since Darwin, many biologists have clung to the hope that the gaps in the fossil record would eventually be filled in, the missing links discovered. But Schwartz is saying that the gaps will never be filled in--because the missing links never existed. He urges biologists to start searching for a new theory to explain the sudden origins of organic structures. Schwartz himself thinks that he has found such a theory based on the action of so-called "homeobox" genes--regulatory genes that switch on and off during the development of embryos. The theory is that even a small mutation in a homeobox gene at early stages of development would lead to major changes later on, as the organism grows. But most biologists find Schwartz's theory implausible. "It seems a pretty wild hypothesis," says biologist William McGinnis. Mutations in the homeobox genes do result in drastically different forms within a species, McGinnis says, but most often these animals die or are very sick. You see, to originate a new species by mutations would require a huge number of coordinated changes all at once. A fish that suddenly develops lungs, for example, had better develop legs at the same time or it will simply drown. A giraffe that develops a long neck must at the same time develop a specialized heart to pump blood up its long neck. But in Schwartz's naturalistic theory, there's no directing force to coordinate all those changes, so the new forms of life would go nowhere--except to a graveyard. Schwartz does do us a favor by pointing out the failure of Darwinism, but his substitute theory of evolution is no better. Living things exhibit levels of engineering and design that scientists are only beginning to grasp--which logically suggests that they are the creation of a great Engineer, a Divine Designer. The theory that best fits the facts is one that starts with an intelligent cause behind the wonderful complexity of living things. It's the answer Christians have known all along.


Chuck Colson


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