What Evolution Can’t Explain Part II

imagesWell, it didn’t work that way,” she said. I was in the middle of a conversation with my daughter’s high school biology teacher. As I outlined in my last post, we were talking about evolution and, more specifically, how male and female evolution could occur simultaneously when it appears quite evident that the female reproductive system is much more complex. She had already agreed that complex systems should take longer to evolve….

“Evolution occurred gradually, over time, as the predecessors to humans slowly began to change.”

“Fair enough,” I responded. “So, tell me about that first pair of monkeys, the very first male and female monkey from which you say we evolved.”

“Well,” she began, formulating her thoughts, “it didn’t work that way.” I gave her a quizzical look and she continued. “Those predecessors also evolved slowly, over time, from still more primitive forms of life.”

I was patient. “Like what?” I asked. I don’t think anyone had pressed her for answers like this, but after all I wasn’t worried about getting a grade. My daughter, on the other hand, probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about dad’s efforts at higher learning. Luckily, she wasn’t nearby.

In answer, the teacher started to explain that monkeys had evolved from still lower forms of life. It was a long process with smaller animals making adaptations, adding feature, becoming larger. It all sounded quite vague and fuzzy, as she painted the picture of a planet teeming with life of various kinds, widely dispersed, and being driven by this engine of evolution.

I tried to stay on track with her. Then she made the jump that I was expecting – she started talking about life emerging from the primitive seas. Single celled life forms that began to replicate and pass their DNA on to the next generation. She paused when she saw me starting to shake my head.

“Wait a sec,” I said. “You’re getting ahead of me, or perhaps more precisely, you’re moving back too far. I’ll grant you that life first began in the seas, but even if I grant you the ‘primordial soup’ theory, you’re still making quite a jump. What I want to focus on are the first male and female land mammals. If we wind the clock back, there must be a point on the early Earth in which there are no mammals walking the land. Whatever life exists, it hasn’t yet evolved to sexually reproducing, warm blooded mammals. Before that point, maybe there’s life in the sea, but the land is barren; after that point, the land begins to get populated. You with me?”

She nodded.

“I’d like to know what model science has to explain how that first began. That first couple.”

She was still formulating an answer, so I pressed on. “I can understand that once you have thousands of fully functioning mammals that over time they may begin to change, especially if subjected to some environmental challenge. That makes perfect sense, whether it’s directed by the genes, as I believe was designed into them, or whether it’s a random process. But tell me how the first pair appeared on the land.”

I was hoping to get an answer, because I had been wondering for a while how Darwinists made sense of that rather large step, from single-celled asexually reproducing life to complex, sexually producing mammals. But it was not to be. “Coach.” We both looked in the direction of the voice. The bio teacher was also a coach, and someone was trying to get her attention. She smiled and said, “Let’s continue this later.” Was that a look of relief that crossed her features? Probably, I eventually decided. We never did finish the conversation.

Perhaps Darwinists have a plausible model for this transition, but I have yet to hear it. Instead, what I have heard is always along the lines of what’s recounted above – vague and fuzzy references to a planet teeming with evolving life, and then a jump to the oceans, where DNA first appears. But this jump appears to be a “just so” story, with a vague promise that someday science will make it all clear, will discover these missing links that just “must be there.”

Perhaps I just don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. Until I do, then, I guess I’ll just keep believing that the incredible complexity of life is what it appears to be – the telltale sign of an intelligent designer that set it all in motion for a purpose. After all, every time I see a complex, highly organized, interdependent system – like a watch or a plane or a car – I don’t struggle trying to figure out how it assembled itself. So, why do people struggle so hard when it comes to something even more complex – like life?

Why indeed.

Posted by Al Serrato

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  1. O says:

    I like your strategy and it makes sense. I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist either as God has revealed Himself to me so many times. I don’t get into intellectual debates with non-believers anymore. It’s a wast of time. Point them to God’s law and let it convict their heart and conscience.

  2. I says:

    That first couple, it wasn’t a mammal. Males and females were reproducing a long time before that, in the sea and out (it’s likely that we evolved from a type of salamander, which kind of slunk between water and land). The first sexually reproducing couple will definitely have been in the ocean, and would likely have both been asexually reproducing gender free creatures that just kind of accidentally mixed their reproductive organs (get a few sea creatures together, as with teenagers, it kind of happens). Over time (deep time) this will have developed into a more specified gender balance, but the principal will have been simply mixing cells, outside the parents’ bodies. It will have been countless millions of years later that early proto mammals will have started holding the newly fertilized creatures in their bodies, and at first, they wouldn’t have had any special equipment to do it with.

    The great thing about science is that it doesn’t need faith – if you don’t believe something, or their isn’t an answer, you can investigate it. If you still can’t find an answer, you can say “I don’t know” without fear of judgement. If I were to attribute an action to a god (any of them will do, except Thor, he’s sold out) then I’d need to know where that god came from, how it became the being it was, the conditions that allowed for such a being to form without reverting to “It’s magic”. It just adds another step of complexity to something that’s already really complicated, for me. If other people, like yourself, find it makes more sense to believe, then that’s fine too, we’ll just have to agree to disagree 🙂

    • Al says:

      Ian, I wonder if you see the irony in your statement – “over time (deep time) this will have developed into…” is a resort to magic. Pick up a book on human reproduction and consider just how incredibly complex the placenta is, or how intricately ordered a 1 inch preborn human being is, with interdependent organ systems and nerves spreading out and growing in perfect unison. “Deep time” doesn’t begin to explain that. A resort to God, by contrast, is a logical inference to draw – design and order require a source adequate to the task. Asking where God came from is a fair inquiry, but the underlying logic remains the same whether that question is answered to your satisfaction. Nuclear power still works even if I can’t fully understand it. Saying that the power just generated itself, because I can’t build or understand a nuclear reactor, would be irrational. So too is an insistence that complex living things just arose from some primordial muck.

      Brian, your language anaology actually furthers my point. Before the first words were uttered, the human mind had the capacity to take images and concepts and manipulate the passage of air through physical throats to cause vibrations in the air surrounding them. This just happened to coincide with incredibly complex sturctures located in two ears (to enhance sound reception, depth percetion, location of source, etc) which could take those vibrations and translate them into neural pulses that the receiving brain just happened to have the right software to decode. All this, of course, was already in place. It is that which needs to be explained. That language evolves is self evident, but misses the point. Why does it work in the first place? To bring the point home – dogs and cats could be put together for as much “deep time” as you want, and they will not start talking to each other.

      You are right that theists can believe in evolution. I would be included in those who believe that micro evolution is a fact. Atheists have no choice but to believe that macro evolution – life from non life, mammals from single celled creatures – is a fact. That’s why this debate matters – recognizing just how implausible such a world view is may help some people realize that they are placing their “faith” in something that is not only false but is leading them astray.

      • I says:

        There’s no irony in it, I just don’t have the time to explain how errors in RNA resequencing cause genetic alterations which alter the state of the living organism. If you look at the difference between a human and a banana, from the macro level, they’re completely and utterly different, but on the micro level, share about 50% of their genome. We’re only ever so slightly different from every other creature, it is micro-evolution on a 4 billion year scale.

        And yes, if over the course of a billion years, there was a convergence that benefitted mutual language development between cats and dogs, it could happen. It’s unlikely, but it could.

        Language acquisition is, as you pointed out, really, really complex, which is why so very few creatures have the ability to use it, but it developed piecemeal, not all in one go. That’s not how it works. Tiny tiny changes all mounting up with most of them failing miserably!

        • Al says:

          Ian, you don’t need to explain how RNA introduces changes into the DNA of living organisms, no more than you would need to explain how a patch improves the computer simulation that I want to run on my computer. You need to explain how the RNA got information, at a level of staggering complexity that makes a computer look primitive, in the first place. Your view seems to be that given enough time, information finds a way of assembling itself into functional RNA. This is, to say the least, implausible. The irony is that you accuse believers of wishful thinking when they acknowledge the obvious – information requires a source – while not recognizing that you are relying on some unknown and unexplained natural process of self assemply that itself needs to be explained.

        • Raúl E. López Yazdani says:

          Dogs and cats have been living with human beings as members of housholds for possibly thousands of years. Why is it possible that dogs can understand human language to a certain degree but human beings cannot understand barking language? Why would it be possible for dogs and cats to be able to communicate with each other after “deep time” of close exposure to one and other but we cannot understand dogs after “deep time”?

      • BGA says:

        You are now changing the scope from evolution to abiogenesis. My language analogy was meant to show that change from one kind to another doesn’t happen in huge jumps. Just like a parent speaking Classical Greek doesn’t give birth to a child who speaks Spanish, asexual reproduction does not change into sexual reproduction overnight. How language emerged is a different question.

        • J says:

          Just curious… with all the “deep time” it would take for the transition from asexual to sexual reproduction, what knowledge do we have of these transitional forms? Have scientists found a single shred of evidence that there were creatures able to reproduce in both fashions (supposing this is part of the transition)? Also, why don’t we see such examples today of creatures in an “in-between” state? If one or the other is advantageous, and the time it takes to transition is so long, shouldn’t we see the one becoming the other in some species today? Also, given the advantages, why don’t we have just one or the other still in existence today in stead of both? You’d think the inferior would have been done away with after all this time. Expecting to be labeled ignorant for my questions, but as a creationist from a child, I’ve not been exposed to such theories, nor had any desire to with all the problems I see with them. Maybe one of the evolutionists here can enlighten me on some of these particulars that pertain to the plausibility of their theories.

    • mrburggraf says:

      I think, if you will look at it with honesty you will see that you have to have just as much faith in science as we do in Christianity. Just look at your own post. Cases in point ((it’s likely that we evolved from a type of salamander, which kind of slunk between water and land)). Really if you look at your post everything you posted has never been proven, its all hypothesis meaning they can’t create the same. They have never found one single fossil that was in Darwinian transition.
      I now have some questions I really need answered. Please help me! 1) How did life originate?, 2) How did the DNA code originate? 3 How could mutations—accidental copying mistakes (DNA ‘letters’ exchanged, deleted or added, genes duplicated, chromosome inversions, etc.)—create the huge volumes of information in the DNA of living things? How could such errors create billions of letters of DNA information to change a microbe into a microbiologist? 4) Why is natural selection, a principle recognized by creationists, taught as ‘evolution’, as if it explains the origin of the diversity of life? 5) How did new biochemical pathways, which involve multiple enzymes working together in sequence, originate? 6) Living things look like they were designed, so how do evolutionists know that they were not designed? 7) How did multi-cellular life originate?, 8) How did sex originate? 9) Where are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils? 10) How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years? 11) How did blind chemistry create mind/ intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality? 12) Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution? I really need these answered. Can you please help me without any faith involved?
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  3. BGA says:

    Well evolution does not say that the first things to walk or live on land were mamals. Mamals are a very recent emergence in the fossil record. The first animals to exist on land were likely animals like the mudskippers we see today, legless fish with some ability to travel on land. We then have the emergence of amphibians who can do both and ultimately reptiles with lungs. Birds arise out of reptiles and mamals emerge as well.

    Asking who the first mamal or monkey couple were is like asking who the first English speaker was. There was no day in in which there were only Saxon and Norman speakers in England and the next day someone started speaking modern English. The two languages borrowed, developed and emerged slowly over generations.

    The fact that we do not have records of the precise vocabulary of what each generation spoke does not mean that we can’t trace the development and changes of languages based on patchy historical records and the characteristics on modern languages. Similarly in the fossil record we do not have skeletons for each generation, but we do have thousands and thousands of variations from fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal. It always happens in the right chronological order and it predicts exactly what we find in DNA.

    There are dozens of fossils from the last several million years with various hominid anatomies with various traits shared with various degrees with other great apes. Homo Sapiens Sapiens is one of these variations, extremely related to Neaderthals, to the extent that we believe there was some interbreeding. We never find anything resembling modern humans befor the last 2 million years.

    Yes biologists have a model for this and it is confirmed by hundreds of thousands of empirical observations. If you have yet to hear it, I would seriously question what you have done to educate yourself on this. I would suggest this YouTube series by science journalist Peter Hadfield. http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL82yk73N8eoX8RpvQfjdupAKFWKjtMhTe

  4. BGA says:

    And there is no requirement to accept evolution to be an atheist or to reject it to be a theist. There are many christian evolutionary biologists.

    • Mike Gantt says:

      Indeed there are many Christian evolutionists. However, it is hard to find one who can successfully reconcile the history that evolution implies with the history that the Bible tells – or even one who tries to do so.

  5. Different Ian says:

    It does not matter if they were mammals. They could be salamanders but they would still need something to reproduce with after a change occurred.

  6. Jack says:

    I enjoy the debate back and forth. I would enjoy it more if it weren’t a matter of life and death. The “evolution” from me being a militant atheist to now being humbled before Christ, my lord and savior, is verifiable fact. Evolution to me is simply a conflicting religion “designed” by man to disprove God and nothing more. I think that it’s Gods grace and the work of organizations like RC that have made this conversation more vibrant. Thank you for what you do. In my transformation, it took my heart breaking for everything that can’t be proven by science to make me see that science is our way to demonstrate the power, the glory and even the love of God.

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