Is Evolution a Viable Theory?

“Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” So said Richard Dawkins back in 1986 in reference to Charles Darwin, the originator of the theory of evolution in 1859. I learned about evolution when I was a teen, and although I wasn’t an atheist, I wasn’t a Christian yet, either. One thing I recall is that evolution was presented as fact, not theory. If anything, that tendency is even stronger today, especially in textbooks. However, a theory is just that: a theory. (In this post, when I use the word “evolution,” I am referring to macroevolution, which is the hypothesized change from one species into another. It’s clear that microevolution, or changes within species over time, is a fact.)

After studying the evidence for evolution and thinking about it for many years, I have concluded that at best, it is a very weak theory. Here are five problems with it:

  • Irreducible complexity
  • The lack of transitional forms
  • The lack of “dead ends” in the fossil record
  • The fact that most mutations are not advantageous
  • The problem of reproduction

The first problem with evolution is what scientists call irreducible complexity. Everything we see is remarkably complex, even at the microscopic level.  Some organs and structures are so complex that invoking Darwin’s theory of natural selection and gradual change to explain them is almost laughable.  Two of the best-known examples are the eye and the wing.  If even one small part is removed, the whole becomes nonfunctional. In Darwin’s own words: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

The second problem with evolution is the lack of transitional forms, or “missing links.” To illustrate, it is taught, and popularly believed, that apes evolved into humans. Stephen Gould, a now deceased professor of paleontology (and not a Christian), wrote “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.” Here’s a quote from Philip Johnson, who was a Christian: “That 130 years of very determined efforts to confirm Darwinism have done no better than to find a few ambiguous supporting examples is significant negative evidence.” Even Richard Dawkins, our most well-known proponent of evolution, wrote, “It is as though they [numerous species that appeared 600 million years ago] were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.” Dawkins also wrote, “We don’t need fossils in order to demonstrate that evolution is a fact.” Really? Then what do we need? Nothing?

Let’s move on to the third problem with evolution: the lack of “dead ends” in the fossil record. What this means is that, according to Charles Darwin, there should be numerous examples of “failed” species in the fossil record. The best-known example of this is Neanderthal man, but we really don’t have enough evidence to know what he was. The fossil record shows us examples of fully formed “successful” species again and again. I have no doubt how Richard Dawkins would respond to this problem with evolution, based on his comment about not needing fossils to prove it.

The fourth problem with evolution is related to mutations. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand that “mutation” almost always connotes a negative change. However, evolution relies remarkably heavily on positive mutations to produce change.

Finally, and this is something I haven’t read but have thought about extensively: there is the problem of reproduction. What I mean is: Species cannot perpetuate themselves without reproduction, and a given member of a species can successfully reproduce only with another member of the same species. I say “successfully” because reproduction between different species produces sterile offspring. For example, maybe you know that when a horse and donkey reproduce, they make a sterile mule. Now let’s imagine two interspecies organisms (transitional forms); how likely would it be for both of them to have mutated in exactly the same way?  It is all but mathematically impossible, but this is the only way in which successful reproduction between them could take place.   Evolution is dependent on this happening over and over again. Furthermore, in an evolutionary sense, how can it be advantageous to lose the ability to reproduce with one’s own (former) kind?

To summarize, the theory of evolution faces five problems: irreducible complexity; the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record; the lack of “dead ends” in the fossil record; the fact that most mutations are not advantageous; and the problem of reproduction. I would guess that some reading this will think that I’m writing against evolution because I’m a Christian. Actually, I have examined the theory on its own merits and found it wanting. Also, when Richard Dawkins, our foremost proponent of the theory, writes that we don’t need fossils in order to demonstrate that evolution is a fact… well, to put it mildly, it doesn’t help his case for his so-called “fact,” which has at best become a very questionable theory to more and more scientists.

7 thoughts on “Is Evolution a Viable Theory?

  1. Brother Keith, Thank you for sharing this. This is the first time I’ve read such a simplified short detailed summary of the “Theory” of Evolution. It takes a science guy like you to write this from a Christian perspective. I will also link this to my Blog. Thank you again.

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    1. Thank you, Brother Andrew, and again, I am humbly honored. Several years ago, I taught a class at my church called “The Intelligent Designer,” and this was part of it. What I wrote in this post is a summary of the main problems with evolution as I detailed them in that class one Sunday.

      When my son was in middle school, the last question on a science test was something like, “Do you agree or disagree with the theory of evolution? Please explain why.” He answered that he disagreed because of irreducible complexity, using the example of the eye. Although the teacher disagreed with my son’s viewpoint, he gave him an “A” on the test!

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  2. “…the study of evolution is an exercise in futility, for it serves no useful purpose. Are you aware that over the course of many decades, the study of evolutionism’s doctrines has not produced a single useful irrefutable fact, historical information, or any pertinent scientific finding or advancement that would be of benefit to mankind? Of course, at times a bit of useful information may have come out of its study, but that would be in spite of, not because of.”

    Chapter 7, Reindeer Don’t Fly

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    1. As I have indicated in this post and elsewhere, evolution is a very poor theory for explaining the proliferation of life that we see. However, since it is still taught–and in fact, it is taught as fact!–I think it is useful to study it to some degree to educate others–especially those who have unquestioningly accepted it. Someone has said that the pictures/drawings of evolution have evolved into the “proof.” How true that is.

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  3. In reality, evolution does not even qualify as a theory! “To educate others” is why I wrote my book “Reindeer Don’t Fly: Exploring the Evidence-Lacking Realm of Evolutionary Philosophy.” If you would like to read it you could buy a copy or get it eBook. Or, much cheaper. If you would like to read it, I can Do a PDF file and attach it to an email. Just let me know.

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