Cosmic Time and the Archaeopteryx
Or More Specifically, is Evolution Scientific?
Earlier this month, the Kansas board of Education decided to remove the theory of evolution as a requirement in their science curriculum. Rather than teach macro-evolution as fact, they instead are referring to evolution for what it is: a theory. People are up in arms, assuming that the "religious right" is slowly overthrowing the educational system, and arguing that what they see as "the Fact of Evolution" (as opposed to the "Theory of Evolution") should be at the heart of any science curriculum. This seems a bit reactionary, considering that it is science, and not merely religious beliefs, that has revealed that Darwin's theory is unsound.
By Carolyn Gargaro
August 21, 1999
Published in the South Jersey Courier Post Sept. 15, 1999
Kansas isn't the first state to cause an uproar over the evolution theory. Two states - Arkansas and Louisiana - tried to mandate equal time for ''creation science'' and ''evolution science.'' The Supreme Court struck this down, and many argue that we should not equate the two theories in any fashion, because science and religion can never, and will never, mix. Why do so many people treat religion and science as opposite ends of the spectrum? Polls consistently show that at least 44% of Americans believe God created life as described in Genesis, and a roughly equal percentage accept evolution but think God had a hand in guiding it. Only about 10% believe in strict evolution, unaided by external forces. (LA Times, Monday, July 12, 1999 Home Edition Section: PART A) And in spite of current and past controversies over science vs. religion, both continue to thrive. Why do the pure evolutionists continue to dismiss the beliefs of creationists as merely superstitious theory without ever doing an in-depth study of Biblical writings? And conversely, why do Biblical scholars rely on popular press articles for their scientific knowledge?
The current dismissive attitude of pure evolutionists toward creationists is odd, considering that Darwin himself considered the existence of a Creator. Obviously, those advocating pure evolution are uncomfortable with the concept of a Divine Being as a Creator, even though the theory which they adamantly defend includes such a Creator. The Harvard University Professor Stephen Jay Gould, who has recently been making the talk show circuit as a proponent of Darwin's theory of Evolution, has quoted the closing lines of Darwin's The Origin of Species in two essays he wrote for Natural History magazine, and in both cases he omitted the words "having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one." One has to wonder why Gould must eliminate some of Darwin's own words to fit a theory he passionately defends.
On the other hand, why are many Biblical scholars afraid to delve into current scientific research? Perhaps they are afraid that science could challenge, or even disprove, their religious beliefs? Yet the pursuit of scientific knowledge and holding religious beliefs aren't mutually exclusive.
In The Science of God, the distinguished physicist and Biblical scholar Gerald L. Shroeder (formerly of the physics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) shows striking parallels between a variety of Biblical teachings and current scientific theory. He computes the time of the creation as recorded in Genesis in terms of cosmic time, and finds a surprisingly good correlation between the Earth-based time of 6 days and a universal time of 15 to 16 billion years. There is no possible way for the 6 days of creation to be measured in Earth-time since for the first two days there wasn't any earth. The Biblical calendar separates time before Adam from time after Adam - or Earth-time.
Scientists are fond of referring to their theories as facts - yet from the time of Aristotle until the 1960's, most scientists dismissed the theory popular among Biblical believers that the universe had a beginning. Scientists steadfastly maintained the fact that there was no beginning to our universe - that it was eternal. But today Big Bang is described as the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe. In this theory, the universe was created sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion. Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it's likely to remain unproven.
However, if scientists were wrong about the beginning of the universe, isn't it possible they were also wrong about the beginning of life? For years Darwin's theory of evolution has been accepted in spite of the fact that fossil records do not corroborate his theory, and in some cases contradict it.
For instance, Darwin claimed that we evolved from the simplest of life forms, from invertebrates to vertebrates, and so on. Such an occurrence would have required an extensive amount of time for transitions to take place, and fossil records would then show transitions from simplistic to complex life. We should be able to complete the story, as it were, from simple to complex.
Micro-evolution, or evolution within a phylum, does occur. However, it is inter-phylum development, the heart of the Darwin's evolutionary theory, that has been proven to be little more than wishful thinking.
We have fossils of simplistic life forms and fossils of complex life forms, but no fossils showing a macro-evolutionary change from simplistic to complex. The entire theory of evolution demands that they exist and none have been found as of yet. Throughout the entire fossil record, no midway transitional fossil has been found; that is, no trace of an animal that was half the predecessor and successor, except one: the Archaeopteryx, which existed 150 million years ago in the late Jurassic period. Six were found between 1861 and 1987. They have feathers on wings and a wishbone. This creature though, also had jaws with teeth, not a beak, and claws on its wing-liked feet, so it is somewhat like a reptile. This is considered an example of the transitional form in modern evolution from reptile to bird. It is the only one ever found.
Some scientists have claimed they have found transitional fossils, but later these have been shown to be hoaxes. Many times scientists mix fossils of one creature with another. One example of a supposed transitional fossil combined pig bones and human bones. Based on past experiences, one might even consider that the Archaeopteryx is also a hoax.
Ironically, in the Bible there is just one animal listed in two categories in the Old Testament - once in the reptile category and once in the bird category. This Biblical reference does not scientifically prove the existence of the Archaeopteryx, but, all religious beliefs aside, isn't it interesting that the one and only one "evolutionary" animal just so happened to be mentioned in the Bible in two categories -- something that was written thousands of years prior to the fossil discovery. (1)
In Darwin's The Origin of Species we are told to ignore the evidence of the fossil records and to fill in the gaps with our imagination. "Fill in the gaps" with imagination? Is Darwin suggesting that we have faith in his theory, and ignore scientific evidence in favor of our imagination? Is "filling in the gaps" scientifically sound?
As our scientific knowledge has increased, the stability of Darwin's theory of evolution has decreased. This is not to say that one day, we won't find something that again bolsters evolutionary theory, but in light of current scientific progress, wouldn't dropping evolutionary theory as a factual educational requirement be considered progress, not regression? Why would we continue to teach something that has an increasing amount of scientific data building up against it, as fact?
The belief that Darwin's theory of evolution is unstable is based on scientific evidence, not religious beliefs. In addition, eliminating evolutionary theory as the "heart" of science curriculum does not mean it should be replaced with religious theory. If certain religious beliefs coincide with scientific theory, that doesn't make the theories invalid, but just all the more intriguing. However, continuing to teach a theory as fact, despite scientific evidence, simply because it counters certain religious beliefs, is teaching ignorance, not scientific fact.
(1) In the third Book of the Bible, Leviticus, there is a list of ritually pure and impure animals. The list divides animals into categories: the insects in one place, fish in another, and so forth. In Leviticus 11:18 birds are listed. Among them we find the tinshemet. Twelve verses later (Lev. 11:30), the reptiles are listed. The tinshemet appears again. The same name, spelled identically (tuf nin shin mem tuf in Hebrew) is given for a bird and for a reptile because at one level of Biblical meaning the animal fell into two categories. In the entire Bible, there is the one reference to an animal that falls into two categories, the tinshemet. In the entire fossil record there is one fossil that falls exactly midway between two classes of animals, the archaeopteryx. And both the tinshemet and the archaeopteryx are part reptile, part bird.
- The Science of God : The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom
- The Origin of Species
- The Institute for Creation Research
This article copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Gargaro and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author.