by Bill Nugent
A group of scientists has publicly dissented from establishment neo-Darwinian evolution. This is a palace coup. It’s deviance within the evolution camp by those who remain committed to evolution but reject Darwinism. They are not creationists or even adherents to Intelligent Design (ID). They call themselves “The Third Way.”
Their website: ww.thethirdwayofevolution.com, states their case and gives their agenda. Dozens of prominent scientists and researchers are listed on their website including James Shapiro (University of Chicago) and Denis Noble (University of Oxford). They claim that new scientific findings have undermined the plausibility of the standard, neo-Darwinian evolution theory that is taught in public schools and colleges all over the world. They use much of the same reasoning that creationists and ID people have been using for decades but they still adhere to some form of naturalistic evolution.
The Third Way people have seen the recent scientific discoveries in biology including the epigenome (a complex cellular organ that surrounds DNA) and the fact that so-called “junk” DNA has been found to be functional. They regard the standard view of evolution to be based on shallow assumptions about mutations of DNA and natural selection. They call for an “extended scientific synthesis” but offer little in the way of concrete steps to shore up the theory of evolution. They seem to be grasping at straws and flailing at the Darwinian establishment. The reason why they haven’t made a clean break with evolution altogether is perhaps because they’ve continued to believe in philosophical naturalism as a worldview. Naturalism rejects any idea of a supernatural Intelligent Designer of life. (See: Evolution’s Surprising New Critics, J. Tompkins, Answers, July-August 2018, pp. 62-68, also at ww.answersingenesis.org)
First, a little history. Charles Darwin’s 1859 book: On the Origin of Species dealt more with plant and animal evolution without much discussion of alleged human evolution. Darwin’s overtly racist 1871 book: The Descent of Man argued the controversial notion that humans descended from apes and claimed that Blacks and other nonwhites were intermediates between apes and humans. Thomas Huxley (1825-1895), in England and Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899), in the U.S. were Darwin’s bulldogs who promoted evolution aggressively.
By the 1880s Darwinism was in crisis and rejected by many because of Darwin’s “blending inheritance” theory and other issues. After 1900, the work of Gregor Mendel on heredity was widely popularized. Mendelian heredity gave Darwinism an alleged mechanism for evolutionary change in organisms. This and other advances in biology were synthesized into Darwinism giving us neo-Darwinism, also called the “Modern Synthesis.” Evolution was introduced into the curriculum of colleges and high schools across the U.S. in the 1910s and 1920s.
Neo-Darwinism became so entrenched in the thinking of the educated elite that it led to the secularization of Europe and America. Evolution became the origins myth of atheistic philosophical naturalism. This secular faith caused millions to turn away from God and away from traditional morals. Now neo-Darwinism is in crisis again as new developments in genetics such as the new findings in epigenetics and the mapping of human and animal DNA, show the total inadequacy of genetic mutations as an evolution mechanism. More on that later.
Many of the traditional evolutionists and Third Way scientists have made such an emotional commitment to philosophical naturalism that they angrily reject any theory of origins that invokes any sort of spiritual or supernatural Intelligent Designer of life. However, some of them – especially the younger ones – are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee. They also smell the skunks in the evolution woodpile!
Critics claim that an appeal to an Intelligent Designer of life is unscientific. However, if I find a lost watch on a beach, is it unscientific for me to suggest that an intelligent watchmaker designed and made the watch? Such an appeal to an intelligent cause is not unscientific but is in accord with forensic, investigative science.
It’s appropriate to take a look at the seven reasons why so many scientists are now going beyond the Third Way type of dissent and abandoning philosophical naturalism altogether.
The seven reasons why many scientists reject philosophical naturalism are:
1) Life from nonlife is impossible: It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the origin of life can’t be explained by random collisions of atoms. Scientists have offered many strained speculative hypotheses as to how the first cell could have formed. The hypotheses are so stretched and full of assumptions they can hardly be called science. They all boil down to a reliance on chemical coincidences of extreme improbability. A simple bacterium or even a hypothetical proto-cell would require hundreds of thousands of base pairs precisely sequenced in its DNA. This can’t happen by chance even in a trillion years. Famous atheist Antony Flew abandoned atheism largely because of this argument.
2) Genetic mutations are destructive errors: Mutations scramble, garble, delete, duplicate or transfer base pairs in the DNA. Mutations do not add new strands of properly sequenced base pairs that would give new useful information to the DNA. Even viral insertions are the transfer of pre-existing viral base pairs into DNA. Such viral DNA strands are not new information when viewed from the context of the global gene pool. It would take thousands of properly sequenced base pairs added to the DNA of a mouse to put wings on it to make a bat. Mutations cannot do this. Mutations are not a mechanism for uphill evolutionary change. No other practical mechanism has been put forward by evolutionists.
3) The universe had a beginning: Back in the 1920s, one famous scientist reportedly said “If you can prove that the universe had a beginning, we’ll all be in church the next Sunday.” Virtually all scientists now agree that the universe had a beginning. Whether you call it the “Big Bang” or creation, you’re on solid ground when you say the universe had a beginning and has not existed from eternity. The old idea of the ever existing or “static” universe was disproven by Lemaitre and Hubble in the late 1920s. Therefore, the truth of the cosmological argument for the existence of God is openly verified by all the crowned heads of science. By the way, many scientists are showing up in church each Sunday.
4) The laws of physics are fine tuned for life: I won’t get too technical here but according to the laws of physics, there are more than twenty-five numbers that give the masses of elementary particles or the strengths of fundamental forces. Many Scientists have written that the laws of physics are “fine tuned” to allow for the existence of life. For instance, the ratio of the strong nuclear force to the magnetic force must be infinitesimally exact or stars could not have been formed. Famous atheist Christopher Hitchens admitted that the fine tuning argument was the most persuasive argument for creation.
5) Irreducible complexity refutes Darwinian gradualism: Biological structures in organisms are irreducibly complex. To understand irreducible complexity think of a car. A car must be complete in order to run. A car without a transmission or without a fuel pump or without a battery can’t run. Similarly, the first cell would need to form all at once in order for it to live. To say a cell formed all at once by random collisions of atoms is to invoke random causes beyond any semblance of plausibility.
6) The gaps in the fossil record are glaring: Evolution scientists, including Stephen J. Gould, Niles Eldridge, Ernst Mayr, paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson and others wrote about the lack of transitional fossils. The few transitional forms offered by evolutionary paleontologists are sparse, incomplete and require a lot of storytelling and imagination.The Cambrian explosion of fossils shows abrupt, sudden appearance of many types of organisms without plausible precursors or transitions. The lack of transitional fossils is what you’d expect if life was created but not what you’d expect if life was gradually evolved by accident.
7) Uniqueness of human life: Perhaps the most compelling reason is the realization that human beings are exceptional, sentient beings with capacity for love, relationships, learning and wisdom. To say humans are soulless descendants of apes who arrived by accident and go into oblivion at death is a cynical assessment of the human experience. Human life must have ultimate purpose and destiny or nothing matters, not even debates about origins. Only the existence of a super-intelligent Supreme Being who created us in His own image and for His own purpose can account for the transcendent thinking and feeling of humans.
Many scientists are taking a fresh look at Christianity. God sent Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel, who came in fulfillment of over three hundred prophecies that were written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. Additionally, Christ worked miracles of healing in front of eyewitnesses that proved He is the Son of God. Miracles of healing still occur today in Christian gatherings around the world. The prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ would suffer and die, bearing the punishment that we deserved because of our sins. “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins to all who turn to Him in repentance.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!