© 2004 Reason
Public schools that teach Darwinian evolution are failing their
by wasting time on outdated ideas. Indoctrinating students with these
provides students with the wrong idea about how scientific knowledge is
acquired. Biology is currently the most exciting field in science. As
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
students to want to pursue careers in biology either in research or in
applying that research through careers in medicine. Students aren’t
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
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
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
his Theory of Relativity he didn’t just make broad statements. He
complex equations showing exactly what he believed his theory
A scientific theory does not make vague statements that genes just
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
and experimentation. A statement that random changes caused increased
must be accompanied by a statement of the probability of such changes
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,
it isn’t a scientific theory because it doesn’t provide a specific
explanation of what occurred at the physical level that can be
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
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
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
belief because it deals with a subject commonly dealt with by religion.
Statements about the origin of life, particularly humans, is a common
Evolution isn’t based on scientific observation of a process capable
of producing more complex life forms from simple life forms. Charles
speculated about how life might have developed by looking at
life forms and noting the discovery of fossils from different life
He suggested that maybe life just somehow developed by gradually
He believed that animals had characteristics like size or long necks
that were passed along to offspring. Darwin suggested that giraffes
their long necks by successive generations having slightly longer necks
and the longer necked giraffes being the ones most likely to survive.
didn’t understand that animals don’t pass along “characteristics”.
They pass along genes that determine characteristics. The
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
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
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
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
received one of four combinations of genes. Those that received a
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
The discussion of evolution generally focuses on minor, if not
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
eventually became the components of one or the other or any ancestor
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
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
cells requires very specific forms of genes that cannot be changed
eliminating the function the cells provide. As those who watch the
Lewis MDA Telethon know if you lack the right form of certain muscle
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
none of the other forms produce exactly the right protein.
The problem of developing complex life forms isn’t limited to
the right genes. The specialized cells these genes produce must also
with each other. The structures they comprise must be in the right
The different “structures” must connect with each other. The
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
the weight of the animal. A properly engineered biological entity
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
forms. These instructions produce the various proteins the plant or
needs to function. Unlike a normal computer program, the DNA program
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
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
simpler life forms through random changes in these instructions. One
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
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
maybe these genes changed and then maybe... Such a process would have
same problems of coming up with instructions that function properly. In
addition, there would be a problem with creating the necessary
to access the new instructions at the right time. Extra chromosomes may
prevent an animal from functioning properly by causing disorders like
Most of us learned in school that each human receives an “X”
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
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
would be sterile. Lack of a gene to recognize testosterone and use it
can cause someone with an “XY” combination to develop the anatomy of
a female, although a sterile female. Thus developing a system of
using two sexes would require development of multiple genes that must
exactly right the first time.
Concepts about the origin of the universe or of biological life
essential for any scientific purpose. Isaac Newton developed his Laws
Physics and Albert Einstein presented his Theory of Relativity well
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
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
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
“evolution” as causing biological changes rather than engaging in
research to find the real cause. For example, changes in the shape of
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
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
instead to determine if the antibiotics might actually cause a change
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
species. Thus immunity acquired by human digestive system bacteria
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
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
in huge numbers and generate new DNA sequences. Under this scenario,
would continue to accumulate DNA either as individual pieces from the
or by absorbing the DNA from other cells that became dinner. With
of cells, there would be a possibility of a very small percentage of
accumulating the right combinations of DNA to develop into more complex
Students should be taught how to do science, rather than being
that science consists of statements that must be accepted on faith.
students should be encouraged to observe nature and use computer
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
in plants to produce more desirable characteristics. There is too much
information becoming available for students to have a chance to study
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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