Over at one of my favorite sites, The List Universe, James Frater has posted a pro-evolution article, Top 15 Misconceptions about Evolution, which instigated me to make my own list of misconceptions from the other perspective. I apologize in advance for the many links, and some statements that I have not backed up with references. However, just take this as a primer, not the end-all. Enjoy.
1. The reality of natural selection proves evolution – in fact, they are nearly synonymous!
One of the consistent errors of those who misunderstand evolution and scientific reasoning is to conclude that, since natural selection seems a reality, evolution itself is a reality. What they fail to recognize is that (a) proving one of the supposed mechanisms of evolution does not prove evolution, and (b) natural selection fits into the creationist model also, so proving that natural selection happens doesn’t obviate the other major contender, creation science.
A related problem is that evolution’s definition is ambiguous and plastic, and can mean different things in different contexts – and this is not a strength, but a weakness, because it allows for easy misunderstanding and bamboozling (example from Science), and such unclear communication relies on the reader to have to interpret the scope of the claims of the writer.
2. The reality of adaptation proves evolution – in fact, they are nearly synonymous!
While sloppy evolutionists imply or allow their readers to make the jump from adaptation’s reality to evolution’s reality (same error as above), they also make the mistake of failing to differentiate between adaptation (which they might rather call ‘variation and natural selection’), which relies on existing information and genes being expressed, which is congruent with the creationist model, NOT the evolutionist one.
What evolutionists mean when they imply that adaptation is evidence of evolution is ‘random mutation creates new information (variation), which gives an organism selective advantage AND is passed on to progeny.’ But that’s way more than simple selective expression of existing genes, and the burden is on them to prove that mutation really creates novel functional proteins, rather than combinations or adaptations of existing proteins. The evidence they usually parade out, such as the A-I Milano mutation, or nylonase, is thin, if not inadmissible.
3. Evolution has been proven by empirical science.
While the evolutionary model might make predictions (though poorly), and might incorporate existing data (again, poorly, see the next point), it has never been directly observed. That’s because it relies on the interpretation of historical evidence, not direct empirical evidence. Evolutionists try to squirm out o this fact, but they can’t. Evolution is as observable as the creation event. It’s assumed to be true.
4. The phylogenetic trees are factual and stable.
In Evolutionary Trees – In Flux or Broken and Bogus?, I discussed the common response of evolutionists to new evidence – more often than not, they have to scramble to redo their ancestry models to fit the new data. Even worse for them is that genetic mapping is forcing scientists to hugely modify the existing trees, which were based on morphology instead of genetics. While some may feel that this is merely using better data to improve our model, I predict that the more genetic info we get, the MORE confused the trees will get.
5. The human fossil record is significant and clearly defined (lucy anyone?)
- Most palaeontologists have never handled the original fossils, but only casts of them
- Many fossils exist to falsify evolution, and are purposely marginalized or miscategorized to avoid their obvious implications
- Most hominid remains can be easily categorized as fully human or fully simian
Lubenow seems more and more correct in asserting that all ‘hominid’ fossils may actually turn out to be entirely modern human or entirely simian, not part of an evolutionary continuum. Now of course, evolutionists have some rebuttals to Lubenow, but his points remain salient and meaningful, and the rebuttals are often a real reach against simple, obvious logic, imo.
6. The fossil record may be incomplete, but other scientific disciplines have proved evolution.
Interestingly, more and more evidence from the micro and macro worlds, genetics (even more) and astronomy, and other sciences like geology (not to mention statistics), are constantly bringing up challenges to evolution. But that’s a well-guarded secret kept by the priests of evolution.
Evolutionists rightly avoid committing to abiogenesis as the source of the origins of life, even though they have to admit that this is really what they believe, and they have no other explanation for origins. Why should they shy away from it? Well, because scientists have for years tried to prove the Miller experiment, the Dawkins selfish gene idea, and such, but it can’t be done. And it never will, because it’s contrary to reality and nature, just like evolution itself.
8. Christianity and evolution are compatible
If you have a very liberal approach to the interpretation of literature and the bible, you could easily believe this. But reading the historical narrative of the book of Genesis as a myth is not just liberal, it’s intellectually dishonest, because it is obviously written by the author, and assumed by people after him, as real history.
But even deeper, the implied theology of evolution contradicts standard biblical theology. See Evolution and Religion: Not Compatible? Also, such a strong approach begs the question, Is Creationism a Barrier to Faith?
9. Evolution is in no way related to social darwinism, eugenics, and historic racism.
Evolutionists might be forced to admit that Darwinism, racism, and Nazism were historic bedfellows, but they fail to admit that social darwinism is a logical, inescapable conclusion drawn from Darwinism. Even Darwin Understood the Social Application of his Theory:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. ~ Charles Darwin, from The Descent of Man
It is a small step, if any at all, from Darwin’s quote above to this one:
A stronger race will supplant the weaker, since the drive for life in its final form will decimate every ridiculous fetter of the so-called “humaneness” of individuals, in order to make place for the true “humaneness of nature,” which destroys the weak to make place for the strong.
For more on evolution and it’s ideological counterparts in history, see:
- Darwinism’s history of racism
- Evolution and Social Darwinism in Civil War Reconstruction
- Darwinism and Imperialism
- From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany
11. Evolution has contributed meaningfully to science, and certainly has not hindered it.
Evolution can claim few, if any real contributions to science and medicine, and the few they do claim may be easily attributed to basic scientific method, to basic genetics, and not to evolution. Feel free to enjoy these gems:
- Darwinism Impeding Science
- The Role of Evolution in Biomedical Research is Highly Exaggerated
- Evolution Contributes Nothing to Medicine
- Evolution’s Impact on Science
12. Evolution is not a key component of the atheist world view.
Some people like to argue that you don’t have to be an atheist to believe in evolution, and that is true – there are some well known Christians who are theistic evolutionists, like Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, who wrote a recent book on the subject entitled The Language of God : A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
However, if you are an atheist, you have pretty much a 99% chance of believing in evolution – not just because you rely on reason and science exclusively, but because you have no other theory of origins – that is, unless you are a truly strong individual, you MUST have a story to explain where life came from. This is why Richard Dawkins, the infamous atheist famously said:
…although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Another well known fact is that every cruel totalitarian atheist regime has also had evolution as part of its ideological underpinning – not just because they thought it “true science,” but because they used it to justify their anti-religious stance and persecution, if not for eugenic purposes also.
13. Scientists don’t have a reason to be self-deceived about evolution
When I express doubts about evolution, I often hear the retort “how could so many smart scientists be wrong?” as if such a thing could never happen. Not only will a ready student of history see how often scientists have held on to orthodox positions and resisted new ideas, it still happens today. We have good reason to be skeptical of today’s scientific claims. For example, see:
- Why I Trust Science in Principle, but not in Practice
- Separation of Science and State
- How the Media Spins Science
- The Politicization of Scientific Research
- Science as Salvation – A Cautionary Tale
Expressing such skepticism is not
- ignoring the significant contribution of science of the past decades (though much of its origins may be credited to Christian and creationist scientists like Pascal, Keppler, Lister, Steno, and Maxwell, to name a few)
- revealing a fear of science, nor a belief that science and faith, or reason and faith, are antithetical
- revealing a belief of a vast conspiracy in science
But it does show that modern thinking people should be disabused of their naivete, thinking science to be infallible, or able to answer moral and social questions, or above political and ideological manipulation and bias. But that won’t stop some evolutionists from thinking that evolution is the answer to life, the universe, and everything.
But back to the question – do scientists have a reason to deceive themselves into believing evolution, and in doing so, in enforcing a dogmatic scientific orthodoxy that squashes dissent? You bet. Read with pleasure Mass Delusion – 10 Reasons Why the Majority of Scientists Believe in Evolution, and call me in the morning.
While the original article that instigated me outlined a similar list of misconceptions that people have about evolution, it was decidedly PRO evolution. My list, though named similarly, is the list from the other side – rather than misconceptions of evolutionary doubters, my list is one of misconceptions of evolutionary believers. I dare say a similar pair of lists could be written for creationism, as well as intelligent design.