Biogenesis vs. Abiogenesis
In the 1600s scientists believed life could arise from decaying matter, because maggots and flies emerged from dung, rotting meat, and garbage. Italian biologist Francesco Redi demonstrated in 1668 that maggots did not appear in meat if kept away from flies.22 In 1768 another Italian, naturalist Lazzaro Spallanzani, proved that substances originally containing microorganisms, when boiled and then sealed, remained microbe-free.23
It did not keep German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), a rabid Darwinian, from promoting abiogenesis. Biochemist Michael Behe says: “From the limited view of cells that microscopes provided, Haeckel believed that a cell was a ‘simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon,’ not much different from a piece of microscopic Jell-O. So it seemed to Haeckel that such simple life, with no internal organs, could be produced from inanimate material.”24
Famous French microbiologist Louis Pasteur refuted abiogenesis in 1862 in his “On the Organized Particles Existing in the Air.” He showed that microbes would grow only if a solution was exposed to air with spores of bacteria. In 1869, British physicist John Tyndall demonstrated that when dust was present putrefaction occurred; in the absence of dust, no decay took place.25
In 1953 chemist Stanley Miller, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, and Nobel laureate Harold Urey, put a mixture of gases through heat and electricity and produced a tar-like substance with some amino acids in it. The Miller-Urey result rocked the world: the “building blocks of life,” it was claimed, could be produced in the laboratory!
However, the experiment used a manmade “atmosphere” that did not include oxygen, which would have produced a different result. The process also had “unnatural” components such as a “trap” (which quickly removed chemical products from the destructive energy sources that made them). Further, biologist Gary Parker notes: “The molecules Miller made did not include only the amino acids required for living systems; they included even greater quantities of amino acids that would be highly destructive to any ‘evolving’ life.”26
Besides, half the amino acids produced were chemically “right-handed.” Every living protein, whether in animals, plants, molds, bacteria, and even viruses – except in some diseased or aging tissue – is made up of at least 300 amino acids, practically all of them structurally “left-handed.” Hence, the probability of a living protein being formed through sheer chance is equal to unerringly getting 300 “heads” in a row from the toss of a coin.
Co-authors Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe calculated the odds for a living protein to form solely by chance in one place as just one chance in 1040,000. In comparison, statisticians regard a probability of less than 1 in 1050 to be an absolute impossibility. They concluded that it was “an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.”27
The Miller-Urey experiment (and all other experiments after it) failed to produce even one single living protein – never mind that a protein still has a long, long way to go before becoming a complete living cell.
Enough time and chance?
Some scientists argue that, given enough time, as well as chance, all things are possible – even the emergence of the first living things from inanimate matter. Writer C. Folsome asked them in the magazine Scientific American: “Can we really form a biological cell by waiting for chance combinations of organic compounds? Harold Morowitz, in his book Energy Flow and Biology, computed that merely to create a bacterium would require more time than the Universe might ever see if chance combinations of its molecules were the only driving force.”28
Chemist Ilya Prigogine, 1977 Nobel Prize laureate, sums it up in Physics Today: “The idea of the spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore improbable, even on the scale of billions of years.”29 Gerald Schroeder informs us that: “Since 1979, articles based on the premise that life arose through chance random reactions over billions of years are not accepted in reputable journals.”30
The “simple” cell.
Charles Darwin believed that single-celled organisms were most primitive. Until the first half of the 20th century, scientists called the most basic living unit the “simple cell” – made up of nothing more than a jelly-like “protoplasm.”
In 1963 Dr. George Palade of the Rockefeller Institute discovered a complex network of minuscule tubes and sacs within the protoplasm, now called the “endoplasmic reticulum.”31 It became evident that there is no such thing as a “simple” cell. Even the earliest unicellular organisms on earth were unimaginably complex. Molecular biologist Jonathan Wells and mathematician William Dembski concur that “the simplest life forms we know, the prokaryotic cells (such as bacteria, which lack a nucleus), are themselves immensely complex. Moreover, they are every bit as high-tech as the eukaryotic cells…”32 Single-celled animals can “catch food, digest it, get rid of wastes, move around, build houses, engage in sexual activity… with no tissues, no organs, no hearts and no minds…”33 They even communicate with each other using chemicals.
We read in the National Geographic: “Each cell is a world brimming with as many as two hundred trillion tiny groups of atoms called molecules.”34 Newsweek is quite graphic: “Each of those 100 trillion cells functions like a walled city. Power plants generate the cell’s energy. Factories produce proteins, vital units of chemical commerce. Complex transportation systems guide specific chemicals from point to point within the cell and beyond. Sentries at the barricades control the export and import markets, and monitor the outside world for signs of danger. Disciplined biological armies stand ready to grapple with invaders. A centralized genetic government maintains order.”35
In addition, the “simple” cell has one capability not even today’s most advanced machines can do: It can replicate its entire structure within a matter of a few hours.
The theory of evolution
The roots of the theory of evolution goes back many years before Charles Darwin. In the 17th century, scientists like Francis Bacon and William Harvey recognized it. Darwin’s own grandfather, Erasmus Darwin (d. 1802), wrote about it. The French naturalist Chevalier de Lamarck proposed a similar theory in 1809. In 1835 and 1837, Edward Blyth, a creationist, published a treatise on natural selection.36
In 1855, Alfred Russel Wallace published the theory of evolution in a brief note in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History. On March 9, 1858, he explained the theory in a letter to Charles Darwin.37 Twenty months later, in 1859, Darwin published a more detailed version of the theory in his book that he had been at work on earlier: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. It became an instant sensation.
The Theory of Evolution posits that all living things changed through the ages into all the life forms today. From the first living cell, “simple” organisms evolved into fish, then into amphibians, then into reptiles, then into birds and mammals, then into primates and, eventually, man.
Darwin speculated that similarities in different species, such as the five digits of a man’s hand, a bat’s wing, and a dolphin’s flipper, which he called “homology,” constituted evidence for a common ancestry. He capitalized on the idea of “natural selection” or “survival of the fittest” – that is, nature selected the fittest organisms to survive. The “fittest” individuals supposedly had traits that enabled them to fare better than other members of their groups.
Darwin’s book led many Christians to abandon their belief in the Biblical creation by God. Almost all universities and public schools today teach Darwinian evolution, which holds that the ten million-plus species on earth evolved from a single cell that suddenly came to life around 3.5 billion years ago. We must give credit to Darwin for honesty, though, because he admitted that his theory needed to be proven.
“Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny”?
Ernst Heinrich Haeckel helped spread Darwin’s theory of evolution through lectures and books. He popularized the catchphrase “Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Accordingly, every animal’s embryonic stages (ontogeny) replicate in just a few weeks its species’ evolutionary history (phylogeny) which took millions of years. Thus, a human fetus begins life as a single cell, just like the first organisms on earth. Next, the cell multiplies as a hollow ball similar to sponges. The embryo then folds in to form a cuplike structure like jellyfish and corals. It afterward lengthens, passing through phases with gill slits, fin-like limbs, and a tail typical of fish and amphibians. The embryo then takes on a basic mammalian form, before finally assuming the shape of a primate.
Haeckel, however, cheated. He altered illustrations to fit his theory when the similarity of embryos was not satisfactory. He was found out, charged with fraud, and convicted by a university court at Jena, Germany. Eventually, “The theory of recapitulation was destroyed in 1921 by Professor Walter Garstang in a famous paper. Since then no respectable biologist has ever used the theory of recapitulation, because it was utterly unsound, created by a Nazi-like preacher named Haeckel.”38 Co-authors George Gaylord Simpson and William S. Beck (Life: An Introduction to Biology, 1965) confirm this: “It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny.”39 Surprisingly, many modern textbooks still include the disproved idea as proof for evolution.
Mutation: engine of evolution?
Evolutionists claim that mutation, a change in the genetic material (DNA) inside the cells of plants and animals, is the engine of evolution. Mutational changes are said to be passed on to descendants – producing “improved” new members of the species, which gradually turn into a new distinct species.
Harmful, not helpful. For mutation to happen, new information has to be introduced in the genes of the organism. Yet, practically all mutations showed a loss, rather than a gain, of genetic information – resulting in missing eyes, limbs, wings, tails, etc. Author Lee Spetner (Not by Chance, 1996) reports: “All point mutations that have been studied on the molecular level turn out to reduce the genetic information and not to increase it.”40
In any case, slight mutational changes are usually insignificant, but major genetic mutations, instead of producing improved organisms, are generally harmful to the species. Author Peo C. Koller (Chromosomes and Genes, 1971) tells us: “The greatest proportion of mutations are deleterious to the individual who carries the mutated gene. It was found in experiments that, for every successful or useful mutation, there are many thousands which are harmful.”41 The Encylopedia Americana says that “mutants illustrated in biology textbooks are a collection of freaks and monstrosities, and mutation seems to be a destructive rather than a constructive process.”42
Author G. Ledyard Stebbins (Processes of Organic Evolution, 1971) relates that in laboratory experiments, mutated insects were kept with normal members of their species. “After a greater or lesser number of generations the mutants are eliminated.”43 They were unable to compete and died off, because they had become less adapted for survival than their normal fellows.
Statistically improbable. Researchers often conduct experiments with fruit flies, chosen for their short life spans. Gordon Rattray Taylor, former chief science advisor of BBC TV (The Great Evolution Mystery, 1983), observed: “It is a striking, but not much mentioned fact that, though geneticists have been breeding fruit-flies for sixty years or more in labs all round the world – flies which produce a new generation every eleven days – they have never yet seen the emergence of a new species or even a new enzyme.”44 Although fruit flies can be made to mutate into deformed specimens, they are all still fruit flies.
Co-authors P. Moorhead and M. Kaplan (“Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution,” 1967) report: “The Wistar Institute symposium in 1967 brought together leading biologists and mathematicians in what turned out to be a futile attempt to find a mathematically reasonable basis for the assumption that random mutations are the driving force behind evolution. Unfortunately, each time the mathematics showed the statistical improbability of a given assumption…”45
Pierre-Paul Grasse, former French Academy of Sciences president and an evolutionist, admits: “No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution.”46
Two British scientists, Dr. A.R. Fersht and Dr. G.R. Lambert, made an important “discovery that enzymes exist within living cells that have just one assignment in nature. They find and correct any errors in the genetic code. These errors can creep into the code because of radiation, some chemicals, or for other reasons. However, these enzymes faithfully correct any errors, preventing mutations.”47 Francis Hitching (The Neck of the Giraffe, 1982) adds: “Genes are a powerful stabilizing mechanism whose main function is to prevent new forms evolving.”48
The law of genetics dictates that the offspring of the parent organism shall be of the same species. This is exactly what the Bible teaches: “But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds” (1 Cor 15:38-39).
Microevolution vs. macroevolution
Pierre-Paul Grasse, a zoologist, observed that adaptations within species have nothing to do with evolution. They are just minor changes around a stable genotype. For example, there are no less than 200 breeds of dog today, descended from just a few ancient dogs and wolves. They range from tiny Chihuahuas to burly St. Bernards, from cuddly Pomeranians to vicious pit bulls. Yet, they are all still dogs. Citrus fruits vary greatly – from sweet nectarines to sour lemons, little limes to large pomelos – but each one is still a citrus. They are examples of “microevolution.” What Darwin “discovered” – such as the variations in the beaks of finches in the Galapagos Islands – were limited biological principles that govern microevolution (change within a species), not those governing “speciation” or “macroevolution” (change from one species to another).
In breeding experiments, scientists have tried to keep modifying selected plants and animals indefinitely by crossbreeding to see if they could develop new species. Result? “Breeders usually find that after a few generations, an optimum is reached beyond which further improvement is impossible, and there has been no new species formed… Breeding procedures, therefore, would seem to refute, rather than support evolution.”49
Microevolution in reverse. In the 1930s brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, Munich Zoo and Berlin Zoo directors, respectively, recreated extinct animals. First was the tarpan, a Stone Age horse whose drawings were on the walls of caves in France and the last of which died in captivity in 1887. They crossed stallions known to have descended from the tarpan with modern mares. After just two breedings, a foal with all the tarpan characteristics was born.
They had actually followed their father, who, while running the Berlin Zoo, crossed the ibex (a wild goat) with domesticated goats. The older Heck produced animals with the exact color of the bezoar, the Middle Eastern wild goat that was the progenitor of all goats today.
The Heck brothers also recreated the auroch, the ancestor of modern cattle. The last of the huge auroch, which weighed up to a ton, died in a game preserve in Poland in 1627. After ten years of crossbreeding, they obtained a calf with all the traits of an auroch.50
Problems with evolution
There were a few gaps in the “evolutionary tree” when Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Believers in the theory expected these gaps to be filled as fossil finds increased.
We read in the Newsweek magazine issue of March 29, 1982: “Darwin, and most of those who followed him, believed that the work of evolution was slow, gradual and continuous and that a complete lineage of ancestors, shading imperceptibly one into the next, ould in theory be reconstructed for all living animals… But a century of digging since then has only made their absence more glaring.”51
David B. Kitts of the School of Geology and Geophysics, University of Oklahoma, said in the September 1974 issue of the journal Evolution: “Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of ‘seeing’ evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists the most notorious of which is the presence of ‘gaps’ in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them.”52
Norman D. Newell, former Curator of Historical Geology at the American Museum of Natural History, wrote in Adventures in Earth History (1970) that “the gaps which separate the highest categories may never be bridged in the fossil record. Many of the discontinuities tend to be more and more emphasized with increased collecting.”53