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Teach Science, Not Evolution

© 2004    Reason McLucus

Public schools that teach Darwinian evolution are failing their students by wasting time on outdated ideas. Indoctrinating students with these ideas provides students with the wrong idea about how scientific knowledge is acquired. Biology is currently the most exciting field in science. As biologists learn more about the details of DNA and the internal operations of the cell they come closer to eliminating dread disorders like cancer.

Public schools should be presenting biology in a manner that motivates students to want to pursue careers in biology either in research or in applying that research through careers in medicine. Students aren’t likely to be motivated to become doctors or nurses by studying the beliefs of Charles Darwin or creationists.

 “Critical thinking” is one of the current buzz words in education. Anyone who understands genetics and uses critical thinking skills will recognize that Darwinian evolution(development through random mutations uncontrolled by some intelligence) cannot explain the development of biological life.

Contrary to the popular myth Darwinism isn’t a scientific theory by any rigorous definition of that term. A scientific theory explains how specific actions produce specific results. When Albert Einstein presented his Theory of Relativity he didn’t just make broad statements. He presented complex equations showing exactly what he believed his theory indicated.

A scientific theory does not make vague statements that genes just somehow changed over time in a way that caused complex life forms to come into existence. Even if the statement were true it wouldn’t be a scientific theory because it doesn’t explain the specific process. It’s a belief that cannot be proved or disproved through the scientific methods of observation and experimentation. A statement that random changes caused increased complexity must be accompanied by a statement of the probability of such changes occurring in a way that resulted in a change from one gene that produces a usable protein to another. A scientist doesn’t say “I assume you’re right.” A scientist says “Show me that what you are talking about can occur.”

 Likewise the statement that God created life might be true, but it isn’t a scientific theory because it doesn’t provide a specific explanation of what occurred at the physical level that can be scientifically tested. Claims that God, ET or some other form of intelligence created life on earth would have to include a listing of the specific actions involved to qualify as a scientific theory. Saying, “I baked a loaf a bread” would not be a scientific statement. Saying, “ I baked a loaf of bread by combining specified ingredients, etc. and indicating the reactions that converted the ingredients into bread” would be.

A scientific theory isn’t merely a statement believed by many, most or even all scientists. It’s a statement that specifically explains the relationship between cause and effect. Evolution doesn’t do that. It states a vague belief about what happened. That belief qualifies as a religious belief because it deals with a subject commonly dealt with by religion. Statements about the origin of life, particularly humans, is a common feature of religion.

Evolution isn’t based on scientific observation of a process capable of producing more complex life forms from simple life forms. Charles Darwin speculated about how life might have developed by looking at contemporary life forms and noting the discovery of fossils from different life forms. He suggested that maybe life just somehow developed by gradually changing over time.

He believed that animals had characteristics like size or long necks that were passed along to offspring. Darwin suggested that giraffes developed their long necks by successive generations having slightly longer necks and the longer necked giraffes being the ones most likely to survive. He didn’t understand that animals don’t pass along “characteristics”. They pass along genes that determine characteristics. The characteristics of the offspring depends on the selection of genes received rather than on the characteristics of the parents.

Gregor Mendel was researching peas at this time, but Darwin was unaware of Mendel’s work He crossbred tall peas and short peas and discovered that all the first generation would be tall peas. In the second generation 3/4 would be tall peas and 1/4 would be short peas. Scientists now know this results from the fact that some genes are dominant and others recessive. Each pea in the first generation received a dominant “tall” gene from the tall parent and thus was tall. Each pea also received a “short” gene from the short parent. When these peas were pollinated their offspring received one of four combinations of genes. Those that received a “short” gene from each parent were short. The others received a “tall” gene from at least one parent and thus were tall. Under Darwin’s thesis, all the second generation peas should have been tall because they had tall parents.

The discussion of evolution generally focuses on minor, if not trivial, issues such as whether or not Ronald Reagan and costar Bonzo the Chimp are distant cousins or whether birds are descended from dinosaurs. The important issue isn’t possible relationships between humans and chimps but how simple atoms/molecules formed the necessary organic chemicals that eventually became the components of one or the other or any ancestor they might have shared.

Those who argue for an uncontrolled evolutionary process ignore the extreme complexity of animals. As Michael Behe argues in “Darwin’s Black Box” an evolutionary process requires the intervention of some form of Intelligence. Behe questions how the genes that produce the complex chemicals in the cell could have developed by a random process because multiple changes would have had to have occurred.

Minor characteristics like size, shape and pigmentation could change through random mutations, but the operation of the complex system of specialized cells requires very specific forms of genes that cannot be changed without eliminating the function the cells provide. As those who watch the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon know if you lack the right form of certain muscle genes you will get the form of Muscular Dystrophy associated with that gene. It wouldn’t be possible to mutate to the proper form of the gene because none of the other forms produce exactly the right protein.

The problem of developing complex life forms isn’t limited to getting the right genes. The specialized cells these genes produce must also function with each other. The structures they comprise must be in the right places. The different “structures” must connect with each other. The “structures” formed by muscle cells must have blood vessels among them. They must be connected to nerve cells. They need other specialized cells to connect them to the bones so that the bones will move when the muscles move.

Moreover the macro structure must be engineered well enough to move around. If it has legs they must positioned properly and be able to support the weight of the animal. A properly engineered biological entity cannot be produced by trial and error. If the engineering is just a little off the entity will likely become someone else’s dinner. If an animal’s legs are just a little off the right location, they won’t support the animal and allow it to move.

The DNA code works like a computer program to operate biological life forms. These instructions produce the various proteins the plant or animal needs to function. Unlike a normal computer program, the DNA program contains the instructions to actually “construct” these same life forms from basic molecules. Also unlike a normal computer program, if the program crashes there is no way to tell it to restart.

I used to do a lot of programming. I would write the program then attempt to run it. If it didn’t work write, I would find the problem code and modify it. That approach cannot work for the development of biological life forms. If the animal, for example, doesn’t have the right code to produce its various body parts, it won’t develop. An intelligent being might be able to design a new cell with corrected code, but no natural process could do so.

Evolutionists believe that complex life forms gradually developed from simpler life forms through random changes in these instructions. One problem with this claim is that the instruction must be correct from the start. The other is that a life form cannot add functions without adding new instructions. Changing instructions would simply replace one function with another.

Some evolutionists contrive an explanation by suggesting that maybe a cell produced extra copies of some chromosomes or DNA segments and then maybe these genes changed and then maybe... Such a process would have the same problems of coming up with instructions that function properly. In addition, there would be a problem with creating the necessary instruction to access the new instructions at the right time. Extra chromosomes may prevent an animal from functioning properly by causing disorders like Down Snydrome

Most of us learned in school that each human receives an “X” chromosome from the mother. If a human receives an “X” chromosome from its father it will be a girl. A person receiving a “Y” chromosome will become a boy. Except it doesn’t always work that way. Development of the anatomy of a male or female depends in part on activation of a gene called the “sex trigger” at the right time. Because of this a baby with an “XX” combination might develop as a boy rather than a girl - although the man would be sterile. Lack of a gene to recognize testosterone and use it properly can cause someone with an “XY” combination to develop the anatomy of a female, although a sterile female. Thus developing a system of reproduction using two sexes would require development of multiple genes that must work exactly right the first time.

Concepts about the origin of the universe or of biological life aren’t essential for any scientific purpose. Isaac Newton developed his Laws of Physics and Albert Einstein presented his Theory of Relativity well before any physicist suggested that the universe began with a Big Bang.

Science doesn’t have all knowledge. It only has that knowledge which can be discovered through experimentation and observation. A science that doesn’t understand enough about biological life to cure all diseases and reliably replace defective genes doesn’t have enough knowledge to explain the origin of life. Evolution might explain the different breeds of dogs, but it cannot explain the origin of the dog. How life began is still unknown and science teachers shouldn’t lie to students and say that Darwinian evolution or creationism can explain it.

The concept of evolution hampers biological research. Scientists cite “evolution” as causing biological changes rather than engaging in serious research to find the real cause. For example, changes in the shape of the beaks of the South Pacific birds known as Darwin’s finches were once suggested as evidence of evolution. Recent research has determined that the shapes change in response to changes in diet resulting from changes in weather patterns. The beaks don’t evolve, changes in nutrition cause them to develop differently. Differences in diet might also explain some differences in the skeletal remains of past species.

Biologists have been suggesting that the development of immunity to antibiotics by bacteria results from evolution. They should be researching instead to determine if the antibiotics might actually cause a change in bacteria by changing their DNA. Bacteria might have a primitive immune system that causes different members of the same species to have slight molecular differences similar to the differences in human immune system cells. Scientists know that bacteria can exchange DNA segments with different species. Thus immunity acquired by human digestive system bacteria might be passed along to disease causing bacteria. These possibilities should be investigated instead of suggesting that immunity is a result of the magical, mystical process of evolution.

Gradual “evolution” of life only makes sense if some intelligence guided the process. If life came to exist without the intervention of some intelligence, it originated through some other process. One possibility is indicated by research showing that bacteria can obtain DNA from the surrounding environment. Complex species could have developed through a similar process provided they had an environment that allowed them to develop in huge numbers and generate new DNA sequences. Under this scenario, cells would continue to accumulate DNA either as individual pieces from the environment or by absorbing the DNA from other cells that became dinner. With quadrillions of cells, there would be a possibility of a very small percentage of cells accumulating the right combinations of DNA to develop into more complex life forms.

Students should be taught how to do science, rather than being taught that science consists of statements that must be accepted on faith. Biology students should be encouraged to observe nature and use computer programs that demonstrate biological processes.

Biologists are discovering the internal workings of the cell and how genes control biological processes. They are learning how to insert genes in plants to produce more desirable characteristics. There is too much information becoming available for students to have a chance to study it all. They certainly won’t have time to learn that information if they have to waste time studying outdated beliefs about how life originated.

We have a shortage of nurses. Biology is often taught to high school sophomores. Today’s sophomores who decide to become doctors would finish their training just about the same time baby boomer doctors begin retiring. As the baby boomer generation reaches the age when medical problems are more likely to occur, we will need more health care providers than we have today. We need more students to choose health care as a career. Emphasizing the health care aspects of biology could encourage more students to pursue health care. Teaching evolution is unlikely to do so.


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