Evolutionary theory describes that, over a very long time period, all life can be traced back to a common source. There is no explanation for how life started, but prior to this all molecules also evolved / developed from the simplest element, hydrogen.
Biblical Creation describes life being created by God. All life can be traced back to the “Kinds” described in Genesis – both at the time of creation and also each kind being saved by Noah at the time of the flood. All life on earth can be traced back to these original kinds – including “mankind”.
We can see that the description of Kinds, which over time through selection (or speciation) become more specialised species is consistent with the Bible. When we speak with scientists about Natural Selection, they will provide you with examples that are consistent with this model. However, they will not provide you with examples that explain the general theory of evolution (the picture on the left above). In other words, they will explain how a wolf can become more specialised to (e.g. heat or cold), but cannot explain how wolves came in to being in the first place.
To paraphrase C.S.Lewis:
A slow miracle is as incredible as a fast miracle
Introducing Natural Selection
The full title of Charles Darwin’s 1859 book is: “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.
This means that ‘nature’ preserves those individuals that are best suited to the environment in which they live.
(Darwin did not include humans in his original book “on the origin of species,” this was not until 12 years later in the book “the descent of man”. This enabled the theory to gain acceptance before being extended to humans.)
Natural Selection is a simple concept and appears very logical and straightforward. Those creatures with features that are suited to surviving in a given environment will survive better than those that do not have those features.
For example.Wolves with small ears, short legs and thick coat will tend to survive better in the Arctic. Long legs, larger ears and thin coat are suited to hotter climates.
Darwin, himself, said that ‘nature’ is not sentient, and so does not select, but Natural Selection is a convenient phrase for the survival or death of individuals and genes.
The idea is that small variations (mutations) are always occurring – those with favoured variations survive… this propels an organism towards an entirely different organism… given enough time.
Natural Selection was the only mechanism proposed by Darwin. It is used by biologists to describe “differential reproduction” (as above).
The ‘fittest’ are, therefore, the ones that produce the most surviving offspring.
What is Natural Selection (or Speciation)?
Evolution includes the concepts:
- Change over time
- Common Ancestry of Species
In combining these, Darwin’s theory involved the formation of new species, which is speciation. As we saw above this consistent with Biblical Creation. Speciation involves the origin of, for example, a variety of rabbit that no longer breeds with its ancestor rabbits (or birds that no longer breed with their ancestor birds). Darwin assumed that the variation seen between species was limitless, so that natural selection could change a microbe into a mongoose over a very long period of time.
This brings us to the first issue with the General Theory of Evolution (GTE): it is a huge leap to go from looking at variations in an existing feature (fur length, beak characteristics) to explaining the origin of beaks themselves. Variations in wolves do not explain the origin of wolves. Whilst speciation (the Special Theory of Evolution) is observable, the GTE is not.
As far back as 1980, a report in Science on a conference of evolutionary biologists at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, said: “The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No”.
Professor G.A. Kerkut said: it is not clear whether the changes that bring about speciation are of the same nature as those that brought about the development of new phyla [major divisions of living things, of which there are about 80, including microbes].
In other words:
- The Special Theory of Evolution (STE) describes simple changes in species and is supported by the evidence.
- The General Theory of Evolution (GTE) describes the origins of diversity of everything (from “nothing” to “something” to “humans”) and is an extrapolation from STE.
“Phyla” could be thought of as corresponding to major divisions of living things, i.e. “Kinds” which are described in Genesis
Animals start out with genes to support a broad range of characteristics (a range of hair lengths, leg lengths, etc).
The animals move to, or are placed in, a specific environmental situation (e.g. heat, cold, predators that hunt in a particular way).
The animal responds by specialising to the particular environment – losing the ability to return to other environments (e.g. penguins can no longer return to flying, polar bears are specialised to the arctic). This speciation means that the genes which enable it to return to other environments have now been lost (i.e. this is a loss of genetic diversity).
This is the same for all species… they have lost the genetic diversity that was present when there were only “Kinds” or “Phyla”… the examples that are normally provided are not General Theory of Evolution they are simply Speciation / STE / Natural Selection – which is consistent with Genesis.
Natural Selection operates on the genetic information already present in a population – it does not create new genetic information (genetic variation). This loss of genetic variation is described in more detail in the previous post in this series, covering the Laws of Thermodynamics.