The Coming Paradigm Shift in the Biological Sciences


Article #284

By Bill Nugent

A paradigm shift is a sea change. A paradigm shift is a fundamental change in the way scientists connect the dots in making sense of collected data. Paradigm shifts are rare because the prominent scientists and academics who have authority in scientific circles strongly believe in the old establishment scientific model.


To begin, let’s look at a paradigm shift that occurred about 400 years ago in the field of astronomy. From the time of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the middle of the sixteenth century astronomers were virtually unanimous in the belief that the earth was at the center of the universe and the sun, moon and stars revolved around it. The second century astronomer Claudius Ptolemy (c.85 – c. 165 AD) formulated the highly complex Ptolemaic geocentric model that was the gold standard in astronomy for well over 1,000 years.


Ancient astronomers observed the stars and noticed that some stars seemed fixed in the sky while a small number of stars seemed to wander and sometimes even move backwards (retrograde motion). These wandering stars (asteres planetai) were called “planets” from the Greek word “planasthai” which means “wander.” The ancients described planets as moving on a circle called an epicycle within what was called a deferent. The genius of the Ptolemaic system was the addition of the equant which modified the positions of the planets as they supposedly revolved around the earth. It was claimed that the planets moved in large circular orbits but also in smaller circles that accounted for the retrograde motion.


We, in our modern sophistication, are tempted to chuckle at the absurdity of a complex scientific model resting on the false premise that every planet and star revolves around the earth. The amazing thing about the Ptolemaic system however, was that it worked! It was used to formulate astronomical charts that gave accurate predictions of the locations of celestial bodies up to 1,000 years in advance. Using geocentric astronomical charts, Columbus was able to accurately predict the lunar eclipse that occurred on February 29th 1504 by which he was able to manipulate the natives into giving him and his men more food on the island of Jamaica.


Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), a devout Christian, noticed flaws and minor inaccuracies in the Ptolemaic system and made a revolutionary change by postulating that the sun was at the center and the planets, including earth, revolved around the sun. His heliocentric (sun at center) system was more streamlined than the old system and eliminated many of its flaws but, amazingly, it was not as accurate as the Ptolemaic in making astronomical predictions! This was because Copernicus assumed that the planets moved in circular orbits rather than elliptical. It would be almost a century before Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) improved Copernicus’ model with elliptical orbits.


There was much resistance to the paradigm shift from geocentrism to heliocentrism. I won’t go into the details of the Galileo affair and other heated debates. There was as much authoritarianism in science then as there is today. Those who were in the wrong, who held the geocentric view, were in positions of power to resist those who held the scientifically sound heliocentric view. The truth, however, won out in the end.


This brings us to the major scientific paradigm of our own time. It is the claim made by the Darwinian evolutionary model of biological history that all life is descended from a single cell that formed in the primordial ooze by random collisions of atoms. According to the Darwinist, this cell and others like it mutated into multi-cellular organisms which in turn experienced mutations to their DNA which brought about new forms of organisms, which were sorted out by natural selection, eventually forming primates from which humans supposedly evolved. The Darwinian paradigm is entrenched in most institutions of higher learning worldwide. The Darwinian paradigm is held by the majority of scientists and those scientists who reject Darwinism are often persecuted to the extent of losing their positions in academia.


I mentioned earlier that the geocentric Ptolemaic system in astronomy made accurate predictions of the locations of celestial bodies years in advance. This goes to show that even a flawed scientific theory can handle some of the data in a convincingly accurate way. There were, of course, minor inconsistencies in the predictive ability of the Ptolemaic system but these seemed insignificant and were largely ignored by the scientific power brokers. Similarly, there are ways in which Darwinism seems to explain some scientific data accurately. However, even some of the most devoted Darwinists have frankly admitted that there are inconsistencies between Darwinism and many scientific facts.


To an unbiased observer who looks at the full range of scientific data, the flaws in the Darwinian paradigm are glaring. As far back as the 1930s microbiologists began to point out that the extreme complexity of even the simplest single celled organism such as an e. coli bacteria made it impossible to conceive of such a living cell forming randomly on the prebiotic earth. As the science of microbiology has progressed over the decades, it furnishes even more evidence of the extreme complexity of the cell. We now know that the nucleus and mitochondria of a cell coordinates more than a trillion chemical reactions per second. A cell is far more complicated than the computer I’m using to write this article! The first cell could not have formed by chance.


I could go on about the other problems with Darwinism such as the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Even the champion of evolution, Stephen J. Gould (1941-2002), often pointed out the lack of transitional forms to his Darwinist colleagues.


Darwinists have certainly tweaked the Darwinian model. Gould’s “punctuated equilibrium” and Goldschmidt’s “hopeful monster” hypotheses were attempts to explain the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Kenyon’s “affinity theory” was an attempt to explain how chemicals in the primordial soup could coalesce into building blocks of life and form the first living cell out of nonliving molecules. Kenyon abandoned affinity theory when experiments showed that the molecules that were supposed to combine to form cellular proteins did not have sufficient affinity for each other and the whole scheme was gummed up by the formation of tars.


It reminds me of how Ptolemy tweaked Aristotelian geocentrism and came up with his Ptolemaic system and later the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) tweaked Ptolemy’s model. In Tycho Brahe’s model, the planets revolved around the sun but the sun revolved around the earth. Brahe’s new model made better predictions than Ptolemy’s but was still fundamentally wrong because it was still geocentric. Like geocentrism in astronomy, Darwinism can’t be stretched to account for the scientific evidence. Darwinism is looking more and more like an unscientific secular origins myth.


There is a very strong move afoot led by scientists to throw out Darwinism. These scientists are the Copernicuses and Keplers of today. Many scientists from a wide variety of scientific fields rightly contend that the Darwinian paradigm doesn’t explain the data. They are calling for a paradigm shift. One large group of dissenters is called the Intelligent Design movement. They maintain that life was designed and engineered by an intelligent designer.


The Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture based in Seattle Washington is a think tank of Intelligent Design (ID) scientists. On their website they have a list of over 800 scientists who have publicly dissented from Darwinism. Since there is no secular or godless scientific theory that would replace Darwinism, the creation paradigm seems to be the only alternative. Although ID scientists seldom make an overt appeal to religion, they are often called neo-creationists.


Another large group of dissenters, who are more religiously oriented, comprise the scientific creationist movement which is also led by Ph. D. scientists. These scientists reject the Darwinist paradigm. They maintain that, although science in a strict sense, doesn’t prove the existence of God, science certainly points to the necessity of the existence of a Creator God. The Institute for Creation Research and Answers In Genesis are two creationist organizations.


The Darwinist origins paradigm is crumbling and there’s a shift toward a new paradigm. This new paradigm asserts – figuratively speaking – that God is at the center of the universe and everything revolves around God rather than man. God is the Creator who brought all things into being for His own purposes. Humans did not evolve from animals. It’s only a matter of time before Darwinism will be a distinctly minority view in science.


God created the earth for a purpose. Earth is the stage where sentient beings, created in the image of God, are tested as to whether or not they will obey God and worship God. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God has provided the means of redemption by sending Jesus, the promised Messiah of Israel. Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. The prophecies foretold that Christ would suffer and die, taking upon Himself the penalty we deserved because of our sins. Christ rose from the dead to offer forgiveness of sins to all who turn to Him in repentance. Turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

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