By Spencer D Gear
That was the heading of a letter to the editor in my local freebie newspaper, The North Lakes Times (northern Brisbane, Australia), August 8, 2012, p. E8: The letter read:
Evolution proved by science
Contrary to Col of Petrie’s comments (Press July 18) there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question.
In fact, the reverse is true. Evolutionary theory is based on science not on belief. Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory. Mainstream faiths accept this and don’t take the first book of the Bible literally. It is only fundamentalist fringe that seem incapable of accepting scientific fact and seem set on trying to impose their ignorance on the rest of us.
Marcus Toyne, Mango Hill
What is a theory?
This brief explanation of ‘theory’ states: ‘Theories are analytical tools for understanding, explaining, and making predictions about a given subject matter. There are theories in many and varied fields of study, including the arts and sciences’. When applied to evolution, this means that an evolutionary theory is a way of explaining and making predictions about Darwin’s and continuing explanations of evolution in science. Yes, there are theories that are developed, based on facts that have been uncovered.
What was the basic content (in summary) of Darwin’s evolutionary theory? This is one reasonable summary:
Natural selection explained how life evolved from the first simple organisms; how in nature the fittest win out, leaving more offspring with more of their desirable characteristics. This survival of the fittest would, over time, allow a species to change and develop until eventually new species could arise. Given billions of years, natural selection could create, unguided, the diversity of life on Earth.
Dr. Henry Morris wrote, ‘The vanishing case for evolution’, in which he stated:
Evolutionary belief is a remarkable and largely unexplained phenomenon. It is a belief held by most intellectuals all over the world, despite the fact that there is no real scientific evidence for it at all. Evolutionists allege that evolution is a proved scientific fact, based on a multitude of scientific proofs, but they are unable to document even one of these supposed proofs!
Morris cited David Kits who stated that ‘Evolution, at least in the sense that Darwin speaks of it, cannot be detected within the lifetime of a single observer’.
What are the holes in the argument in Toyne’s letter to the editor?
- He confuses theory and fact. Evolution is a theory. Some could even say that there is insufficient evidence for it to be called a theory and that it is nothing more than an hypothesis. Facts may point to the need to develop a theory, but we must not confuse facts with a theory. A theory is a proposed explanation; it is not a statement of facts.
- If evolution is based on science and not belief, why does this ‘belief’ continue when the transition species are just as non-existent as they were when Darwin announced his theory 150 years’ ago?
- He gives this false statement, ‘Every discovery, bit of evidence and experiment confirm the theory’. What are the facts concerning transition species? We’ll briefly examine this below.
- ‘Mainstream faiths’ are not defined, but I expect he is referring to theological liberalism in mainline denominations. This is using the logical fallacy of ‘appeal to authority’. Rational discussion is handicapped when people resort to the use of logical fallacies.
- He uses a genetic logical fallacy by diverting attention to the ‘fundamentalist fringe’ and rejecting it because of its origin. He should be addressing the issue and not associating it with a group of which he apparently does not approve.
- If mainstream faiths do not read the book of Genesis literally, this is not an argument for whether literal or otherwise should be used. A short letter just gives opportunity for him to make assertions without defending his claims. Therefore, his views are open to challenge, as I’m doing briefly here.
Charles Darwin knew about 1.5 centuries ago when he developed his theory of evolution that the fossil record did not demonstrate what he tried to predict in his theory. He wrote:
Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. (Darwin 1902:413, ch 9 link; also in ch 10).
What was the situation in the late 20th century? The late Dr Colin Patterson, senior palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote the book, Evolution. In reply to a questioner who asked why he had not included any pictures of transitional forms, he wrote:
I fully agree with your comments about the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them …. I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.
The renowned evolutionist, the late Stephen Jay Gould, formerly of Harvard University, wrote:
The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution (Gould in Smith 1982:140).
And Gould also wrote:
“New species almost always appeared suddenly in the fossil record with no intermediate links to ancestors in older rocks of the same region” (1977:12).
‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils’ (1977:14).
‘I regard the failure to find a clear ‘vector of progress’ in life’s history as the most puzzling fact of the fossil record’ (Gould 1984, link).
A letter of reply to the North Lakes Times
North Lakes Times
Marcus Toyne (North Lakes Times, Aug 8) seems to have confused theory and fact with his statement that ‘there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question’. Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 1.5 centuries ago.
There are major facts that question the evolutionary theory. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.
Dr Colin Patterson, former palaeontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote that ‘there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument’.
Former leading evolutionist of Harvard Uni, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote that the absence of fossil evidence for intermediatry stages ‘has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution’.
As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths ‘don’t take the first book of the Bible literally’, this is a red herring. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ and then statements of what was created on day 1, day 2, etc., are literal ways of stating God’s creation of our magnificent universe, according to Genesis 1.
Was the newspaper so adventurous as to print this letter? At least the paper did print a significant part of the above letter for which I’m grateful. How much of this letter do you think that the North Lakes Times printed? Here is what appeared in the paper on August 15, 2012, page E10.
Evolution theory ‘lacks facts’
Marcus Toyne (Pine Rivers Press, August 8) seems to have confused theory and fact when saying “there are no facts being discovered that bring the theory of evolution into question”.
Evolution is a theory and its problem with finding transition species to agree with the theory is as bad now as in Darwin’s day, 150 years ago. Darwin said that every stratum of geological formation should be full of intermediate links. They weren’t there in Darwin’s day and are still not.
Former leading evolutionist of Harvard University, the late Stephen Jay Gould, wrote the absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages “has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution”.
As for Toyne’s view that mainstream faiths “don’t take the first book of the Bible literally”, is a red herring. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” and then statements of what was created on day one and so on are literal ways of stating God’s creation of the universe, according to Genesis 1.
Spencer Gear, North Lakes
Two further letters in the North Lakes Times
On August 29, 2012, p. E8, The North Lakes Times published two further letters responding to my letter (above). The large heading in the newspaper was, ‘Evolution: Genesis v scientists’. There were 2 responses to me. One was by the author to which I responded, Marcus Toyne of Mango Hill. His main emphases were:
- Scientific theory explains facts;
- Theories provide the framework for understanding how we share a common ancestor with other apes through evolution.
- There are transition fossils that scientists find regularly but they don’t label them as such.
- The second version in Genesis 2 contradicts parts of chapter 1.
- Some do not consider the biblical creation story to be literal as a description of origins.
My reply to Mr. Toyne
On 3 September 2012, I sent this latter to the North Lakes Times to respond to some of Mr Toyne’s issues:
Marcus Toyne (NLT, 29 Aug) takes me to task over evolution as a theory and how Genesis 2 “contradicts part of the first (chapter of Gen.)”. Contrary to Marcus, a scientific theory doesn’t explain facts. It explains scientific observations and must be open to be falsifiable. The theory of evolution deals with unique events of the origin of life, including intelligence. These events are unrepeatable and cannot be subjected to the same kind of experimental investigation of a regular scientific theory.
He claimed scientists regularly find transition fossils but gave not one example. Not one! Dr Colin Patterson, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, wrote in 1981 that evolution was “positively anti-knowledge” and that “all my life I had been duped into taking evolution as revealed truth” [in Taylor 1984:393]. Evolutionary biologist, Ernst Mayr, wrote that the basic theory of evolution “is in many instances hardly more than a postulate and its application raises numerous questions in almost every concrete case” [in Taylor 1984:393]. A postulate is a supposition that is assumed without proof. These scientific specialists are not as certain as Marcus.
So Genesis 2 contradicts chapter 1? But Marcus gave zero examples. This makes his a red herring kind of argument. However, the JEPD theorists have proposed this for many years and it has been refuted over and over. Ch 2 does not present a complete creation story or the time sequence of ch 1.
If anyone misses the nature of a key word in the first 5 words of Genesis 1, there will be misleading information promoted. Those words are, “In the beginning GOD created”. If one does not understand the omnipotent Yahweh God who created (Hebrew bara = out of nothing) the universe, the one who parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass over on dry land and drowned the pursuing Egyptians, and the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead, then one will misunderstand the mighty acts of God in creating the universe.
Another letter opposing my position
Phil Gilbank’s response included these elements:
- A theory is a collected theory of facts that explains observed phenomena.
- The theory of evolution by natural selection is fact that is explained by the scientific facts.
- The book of Genesis is a myth.
- How does Spencer explain the anomaly in Genesis 1 that green vegetation was created on day 3 and there was no sun until day 4.
How should I respond?
I sent a letter on 3 September 2012 to The North Lakes Times:
So “the book of Genesis is a myth”, says Phil Gilbank (NLT, Aug 29). That’s his assertion that reveals one of his presuppositions. He provided no evidence. The wayyiqtol narrative structure of the Genesis creation accounts shows that the author wanted the readers to understand the account as happening in history.
There is evidence to show that Adam and Eve were real people. Genesis 1-2 presents them as actual human beings and it narrates the events of their lives as history. Have a guess what? They gave birth to literal children who produced similarly (Gen. 4:1, 25; 5:1ff). Later Old Testament genealogies placed Adam at the top of the list (see 1 Chronicles 1:1).
In the New Testament, Adam is placed at the beginning of Jesus’ literal ancestors (Luke 3:38). Jesus Christ himself referred to Adam and Eve as the first literal “male and female” indicating that their physical union was the basis of marriage (Matthew 19:4).
Phil thinks there is an anomaly between God creating vegetation on day 3 with no sun until day 4. Is Phil assuming days as representing millions of years? Whenever the Hebrew yom (day) is used with a numeral, it refers to a literal 24-hour period. Hebrew scholars, Keil & Delitzsch, stated that the days of creation, using the interchange of light and darkness, “must be regarded not as periods of time of incalculable duration, or years or thousands of years, but as simple earthly days” (n.d.:51).
By the way, the sun is not the only source of light. Phil will continue to have an issue with God’s creation of the universe as long as he retains the false view of Genesis being myth (not an uncommon theory) and failure to understand the nature of the omnipotent Lord God Almighty who created the heavens and the earth.
What is the meaning of ‘wayyiqtol narrative structure’ in the Hebrew language?
‘The most predominant verbal form in Biblical Hebrew narrative prose is WAYYIQTOL (41% of the total clauses in the texts and 79.2% of the total clauses in the narrative portion of the texts analyzed). The use of this form in uninterrupted syntactical chains consistently implies sequentiality of action in the narrative’ (Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Vol 5, 2004-2005).
Another put it this way: ‘Biblical Hebrew narrative usually employs verbal forms referring to the past, the variety of which is due not to an indication of tense, but rather aspect and narrative organization. Narrative sequence is mostly achieved by wayyiqtol clauses, which appear to be dominant in this genre, while boundaries of paragraphs and off-line information are usually achieved by non-wayyiqtol clauses’ (review of Roy L Heller 2004, Narrative Structure and Discourse Constellations, The Free Library).
See the article, ‘Are there two creation accounts?’ (Tekton). See also, ‘Alleged biblical contradictions – creation stories’ (CreationWiki); ‘Are there two creation accounts in Genesis’ (Wayne Jackson). See my own very brief article, ‘Are there two creation stories in Genesis?’
Darwin C R 1902, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (online), 6th ed. London: John Murray,available at: http://www.literature.org/authors/darwin-charles/the-origin-of-species-6th-edition/index.html (Accessed 8 August 2012).
Gould, S J 1977. Evolution’s erratic pace, Natural History 86, May, 12-16.
Gould, S J 1984. The Ediacaran experiment, Natural History 93(2):14–23, February. available at: http://www.sjgarchive.org/library/text/b16/p0298.htm (Accessed 8 August 2012).
Keil, C F & Delitzsch, F n.d. Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch, vol 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
Smith, J S (ed) 1982. Evolution now: a century after Darwin. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
Taylor, I T 1984. In the minds of men: Darwin and the new world order. Toronto: TFE Publishing.
 I am indebted to this author for some of the following citations: Johathan Safarti’s article, ‘Refuting evolution’, Creation Ministries International, available at: http://creation.com/refuting-evolution-chapter-3-the-links-are-missing (Accessed 8 August 2012).
 The email was sent to: email@example.com.
Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.