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Many would have you believe that evidence against evolution does not exist. What is the truth about evolution and its supposed scientific “underpinnings”?
In December 2022, the well-known auction house Sotheby’s offered a handwritten 1865 manuscript by Charles Darwin, defending the theory of evolution he published in 1859 in his famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. The winning bid was for £719,000—about USD$882,000. One might wonder, Why such a high price for a single book?
There are numerous factors, but Darwin’s iconic role in human history is perhaps the greatest. Sotheby’s called Darwin’s Origin of Species “one of the greatest achievements of scientific discovery.” Referring to the same book, science historian Bern Dibner once wrote, “This, the most important single work in science, brought man to his true place in nature” (Heralds of Science, 1955, p. 92). High-sounding praise, to be sure.
Since Darwin first published his book more than 160 years ago, the theory of evolution by natural selection has been one of the most significant scientific theories in history. The extent to which it has shaped modern life in virtually every realm of understanding would be hard to overestimate. With immeasurable impact on science, philosophy, education, politics, and—most certainly—religion, it has wielded a powerful influence on the shape and form of society and civilization.
Many influential voices assure us that this theory is unquestionably true—proven beyond a doubt—and that no one of any intelligence or education would even dare to question it. Plenty of intelligent individuals would assert that evolution has been proven true a thousand times over, and that all the evidence we have upholds evolution as a fact of nature. According to at least one of the theory’s most devoted acolytes, to doubt the truth of evolution shows you to be ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked.
Perhaps we should make sure we all understand what we mean by the term evolution. Claiming that life began long, long ago in a vastly simpler form, perhaps one similar to a microscopic bacterium, the theory of evolution asserts that over millions, even billions of years, the struggle for survival rewarded slight, random variations in the descendants of that first life form—variations that gave them an advantage, perhaps letting them find food faster or reproduce more successfully—while, similarly, punishing those descendants whose random adaptions were less favorable for survival.
Evolution says that through this simple, natural, unintelligent, and unguided process—natural selection acting on random variations—those microscopic, bacteria-like organisms have, over a few billion years, turned into the astonishing and breathtaking variety of life-forms we see around us today, including human beings, with no divine Designer or Creator necessary.
But is it accurate? Is the evidence really that solid? Is the theory of evolution really that indisputable?
If, indeed, all life as we know it today is the result of nothing but mindless processes, then, yes, Darwin’s book is a towering achievement in human history, a monumental discovery that does, truly, put man in his place as nothing special, nothing remarkable—just a random life-form on a random planet, with no ultimate purpose. And therefore life has no real meaning at all—if that theory is true.
Of course, many claim very loudly that evolutionary theory is true. Evolution apologist Jerry Coyne writes in his popular and plainly titled book Why Evolution Is True, “Evolution is a fact. And far from casting doubt on Darwinism, the evidence gathered by scientists over the past century and a half supports it completely, showing that evolution happened, and that it happened largely as Darwin proposed, through the workings of natural selection” (2009, pp. xiii–xiv). Coyne’s certainty is not rare in science circles. It is, rather, quite common.
And to be sure, many want evolution to be true. Darwin’s theory has become a bit of an escape hatch for those who hope to explain the beautiful diversity and complexity of life without a Creator. As famous biologist Richard Dawkins once said, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist” (The Blind Watchmaker, 1996, p. 10).
Is he right? Again, only if evolution has been proven to be true.
But, in fact, it has not.
Despite claims that all the evidence supports it completely, the truth is that evolution has a whole host of dirty little secrets that our classrooms and popular science programs don’t talk about too loudly. This article will pull back the curtain to examine just a few of those dirty little secrets.
The first dirty little secret we’ll uncover is that even the simplest living cell is devastating to the theory of evolution.
In Charles Darwin’s day, little was known about cells. Single-celled organisms like amoebas were described by Darwin’s contemporary George Henry Lewes as merely “a microscopic lump of jelly-like substance, or protoplasm… entirely destitute of texture, and consequently destitute of organs” (Problems of Life and Mind, 1877, p. 38). In other cells, like those in our body, a nucleus could be observed, but its purpose was a mystery, and the cell otherwise seemed generally featureless, with few details to be seen.
In those days, when the smallest, simplest unit of life seemed that simple—just a bit of jelly with a few boring features—it was easy to imagine that somehow, within that mysterious “life-giving” jelly, anything could happen. But as microscopes improved and techniques were developed to tease out the secrets of the inner world of the cell, we discovered that this supposedly simple “jelly-like substance” is filled with machinery of astonishing functional complexity, engineering ingenuity, and masterful design.
For instance, approximately a billion chemical reactions take place every second in a human cell. And these are not random chemical reactions. Each human cell is filled with thousands upon thousands of proteins of ten thousand different varieties—molecular machines designed to work together and achieve specific purposes, manipulating their surroundings to create new structures and dismantle old ones in a dynamic dance of complexity that makes the Space Shuttle seem primitive by comparison.
If you order a free copy of our detailed resource Evolution and Creation: What Both Sides Miss—or read it online at TomorrowsWorld.org—you will see a diagram of a motor protein that some bacteria use to help them move. Built out of 78,216 different atoms, it is just one example of the vast world of complex cellular machinery that Darwin and his contemporaries could never have imagined. Life is impossible without these complex machines, and even the smallest hypothesized evolutionary changes would require alterations to these machines—or even require the design of new machines.
That is as unlikely as it sounds. Biochemist Douglas Axe has examined the probability of even one protein of any significant functionality at all forming by chance, and estimated it to be 1 in 1064—that is, 1 out of a number that is made up of a 1 followed by 64 zeros (“Estimating the Prevalence of Protein Sequences Adopting Functional Enzyme Folds,” Journal of Molecular Biology, 2004, volume 341, issue 5).
Along with colleague Ann Gauger, Axe explored the possibility that one protein could evolve from another similar protein, relying on just a handful of necessary changes to DNA. They found that, at currently understood rates of mutation, it would take 1027 years for such a change to take place—1027 being a 1 followed by 27 zeros, or one octillion. For some perspective, consider that the consensus of the scientific community places our universe at only 13.7 billion years old, and one billion has only nine zeros. In other words, one protein evolving into another is just not going to happen without intelligent intervention.
Again, even the simplest living cell is devastating to the theory of evolution.
The nature of DNA, the molecule we just mentioned, is another one of evolution’s dirty little secrets—because DNA represents an abstract coding system that points to intelligence. Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short, was unknown in Darwin’s day, and is responsible for carrying the information needed to build each of the proteins to make life possible. Each nucleus in each individual, normal cell in the human body contains about two meters of DNA packed into a microscopic dot—all of it containing the information needed to build me and to build you.
DNA uses base pairs combining four different compounds that act like the ones and zeros in computer code, giving our cellular machinery the detailed information needed to build the complex proteins life requires. Proteins read our DNA code and, based on that information, assemble new proteins from precisely sequenced amino acids—making every cell a complex chemical factory, creating purposefully arranged nanoscopic machinery and some of the most complicated chemical compounds found anywhere in the universe.
But where did this information, this abstract programming code, originate? Evolution can’t take credit—it is, after all, a mindless, purposeless process. In fact, where did DNA come from? You can’t build proteins without DNA, yet DNA itself is assembled by proteins.
The discovery of DNA should have been a great success for evolution—the secret of how the characteristics of life are passed on to our descendants was finally unveiled. But instead, DNA has been a disaster for evolution. The idea of a massive, information-rich molecule containing an abstract programming code able to hold and organize the information needed to build the complex machinery of life is incompatible with evolutionists’ idea that life has grown in complexity through mindless, information-poor, natural processes.
Evolutionists cannot deny that DNA represents an abstract coding system that points to intelligence.
Our next dirty secret of evolution lets us turn the tables on those who would jeer at supposedly “blind” faith in a Creator. The secret is that, since Darwin’s day, the gaps in the fossil record have grown larger, not smaller.
The theory of evolution depends on the slow and steady accumulation of small variations, as large “jumps” would imply an active designer or planner. The result, according to evolution, should be smooth transitions in the fossil record—animals gradually, almost imperceptibly “turning into” new animals through small, smooth changes.
But that isn’t what the fossil record shows. Rather than a smooth, continuous transition of creatures, the record shows gaps between different kinds of creatures. Charles Darwin was aware of this problem, and even wrote about it in his iconic book: “Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record” (On the Origin of Species, 1883 edition, p. 265). That is, Darwin hoped that further fossil discoveries would fill in all those gaps as paleontologists continued their work.
Well, they have, indeed, discovered a vast world of fossils, and the record is extensive. But our friend Darwin would be dismayed. The gaps have persisted, as Michael Denton observed in his seminal work, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis:
The overall picture of life on Earth today is so discontinuous, the gaps between the different types so obvious, that, as Steven Stanley reminds us in his recent book Macroevolution, if our knowledge of biology was restricted to those species presently existing on earth, “we might wonder whether the doctrine of evolution would qualify as anything more than an outrageous hypothesis.” Without intermediates or transitional forms to bridge the enormous gaps which separate existing species and groups of organisms, the concept of evolution could never be taken seriously as a scientific hypothesis (1985, pp. 157–158).
Of course, seemingly “continuous” lines of evolutionary progression are often trotted out for display to pretend the gaps are not nearly as damaging as they are. In textbooks and articles defending evolutionary theory, you will see theoretical sequences for whale, horse, and even human evolution. Yet not only are these sequences deceptive and not proven lines of descent at all—as we discussed in our 2020 telecast “Evolution: A Whale of a Tale,” which you can freely access online at TomorrowsWorld.org—the fact remains that if evolution were true, such sequences should be the norm, not the rare exception. This was a thorn in Darwin’s side that remains just as thorny today, more than 160 years later.
Ironically, evolutionists often accuse believers of having faith in a “God of the gaps” who magically does all the things that they cannot explain. Yet the unexplainable gaps in the fossil record turn the tables and put evolutionists in the place of wielding blind faith and believing in their own “god of the gaps”—or, more accurately, a “Darwin of the gaps.”
To uncover our next dirty little secret of evolution, you don’t need to be an expert on cellular biochemistry, a geneticist, or a fossil-hunting paleontologist. All you need to do is look in the mirror at your remarkable, evolution-defying eyes—because evolution continues to offer no credible explanation for how new organs can form.
After all, organs such as your eyes represent not just specialized tissues, but interconnected systems—often systems upon systems—finely tuned and exquisitely structured to work together. If one part is missing, the whole can fail. And improving the organ would often involve each piece or part evolving in conjunction with all the other pieces. This is a level of coordination that evolution simply cannot achieve.
The problem was summarized not long ago in the UK newspaper The Guardian. First, the article presents the traditional explanation for the supposed evolution of the eye—the explanation given to countless students over the decades by thousands of teachers and professors. Their story is that animals that for some reason have light-sensitive cells experience a series of slight mutations that increasingly confer survival advantages. Perhaps a slight cupping of the flesh around the cells helps to focus the light, and eventually a clear covering of some sort seals the space, which slowly becomes a lens. Then, muscles arrive to shape and focus the lens better. The Guardian continues:
This is the basic story of evolution, as recounted in countless textbooks and pop-science bestsellers. The problem, according to a growing number of scientists, is that it is absurdly crude and misleading.
For one thing, it starts midway through the story, taking for granted the existence of light-sensitive cells, lenses and irises, without explaining where they came from in the first place. Nor does it adequately explain how such delicate and easily disrupted components meshed together to form a single organ. And it isn’t just eyes that the traditional theory struggles with. “The first eye, the first wing, the first placenta. How they emerge. Explaining these is the foundational motivation of evolutionary biology,” says Armin Moczek, a biologist at Indiana University. “And yet, we still do not have a good answer. This classic idea of gradual change, one happy accident at a time, has so far fallen flat” (“Do we need a new theory of evolution?,” June 28, 2022).
In short, evolution promises that it can explain how our bodies’ exquisitely arranged and remarkably functional organs supposedly formed gradually over millennia—but, in reality, it hasn’t a clue. This dirty little secret, that evolution continues to offer no good explanation for how new organs can form, is devastating to a theory developed more than 160 years ago to answer that very question.
Let me confess something: I know it’s considered a cinematic classic, but I’ve never been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz. When I first saw it, I was a little kid, and frankly I found the flying monkeys pretty spooky! But, as I have grown older, one scene from the film has remained in my memory and become a real favorite.
It’s close to the end of the movie, as Dorothy and her band are confronting the terrifying Wizard of Oz for failing to keep his promises. As they do so, flames shoot out, thunder crashes, and the Wizard speaks to them as a giant, green, monstrous head hovering in the air in front of them, shouting, “Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz!” Meanwhile, Dorothy’s dog Toto makes his way to a green curtain off to the left and pulls it aside to reveal a small, white-haired old man using a machine to create the illusion they are all looking at, and speaking into a microphone to amplify his voice and make it sound terrifying.
My favorite part of that scene is when the old man turns around, notices that they can see him, and turns back to the microphone to demand, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
The forces arrayed to convince people not to question the theory of evolution are very similar. There is a lot of thunder and flame—impressive proclamations about “proof” and “evidence” and a lot of theater designed to make you think there is nothing to doubt, as well as pressure brought to bear on those who question. But, like the Wizard of Oz, evolution has not kept its promises. The theory promises an explanation of your origins, an explanation that needs no God and no intelligence at all—just an initial microbe; blind, careless, natural processes; and a few billion years. The giant, intimidating floating head proclaims a smooth transition across these years: from goo to you, by way of the zoo, as author Harold Hill once put it.
We need to be willing to pull back the curtain—to remain unimpressed by the theater, question what we’re shown, and be bold enough to call evolution out for not keeping its promises. Or, to borrow from another fiction, it might have been a hard day when you first learned that Santa Claus wasn’t real—but that realization brought you that much more fully into the real world and that much further away from a world of make-believe. Recognizing the dirty little secrets of evolution can help you step away from that world of make-believe, as well.
Yet the questions evolutionists seek to answer remain: Where do we come from? How did life come to be? Is there any purpose to it all? And if so, what might that purpose be?
Unclouded by the smoke, flames, and thunder of evolutionary theater, you can seek the real answer to those questions. And, as you do, if you really seek with an open mind and an open heart, with God’s help you will find your way to the only possible starting place in the search for those answers—the very first sentence of the Bible, which reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
All of us at Tomorrow’s World hope that you will find the courage to look behind the curtain more often.