The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Origin of Species

The two stories of creation in Genesis concurs in the separate creation of every species of living things. How does this square with what we know from modern science? Despite attempts by the oxymoronic scientific creationists to cloud the issue, modern science has accumulated a vast amount of compelling evidence that this account in Genesis is simply false. Science has also discovered the actual mechanism of how the present diversity of life came to be. Before we go any further, let us look at these evidence and how they are incompatible with the myth of separate creation.

Evidence #1:Biogeography

The first evidence comes from the study of geographical distribution of plants and animals, called Biogeography. Some anomalies with regards to the distribution of animals and plants simply cannot be coherently explained by postulating a creator apart from the typical cop-out phrase: It is not for us to understand the workings of the Lord.

We see for instance that places with very similar environments but very far apart or with large natural barriers (deserts, oceans or mountain ranges) do not have the same native creatures. Central Africa for instance, have the same climate and other environmental conditions as Brazil, but both places do not share the same native animals. Central Africa has elephants gorillas, chimpanzees, lions and antelopes. Brazil has none of these, but instead has prehensile tailed monkeys, sloths and tapirs.[1]

And why does Australia have such a peculiar group of mammals called marsupials? Seven of the nine families of Marsupials are exclusive to Australia. Outside Australia only South America and the island of New Guinea has some marsupials. The varieties and numbers of these marsupials outside Australia are small. In Australia we have the marsupial equivalent of the antelope, the mouse, the wolf, the mole the cat and the anteater.[2] Why this strange distribution of placental analog in the marsupial? Was the creator playing a cosmic joke on mankind?

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Evidence #2: Taxonomy

The second evidence is from the science of classification of all living things, taxonomy. In the eighteenth century, the Swedish naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), himself a believer in the creation myth of Genesis, developed a system of classification of living things. This system, with some modification, is still in use today. He recognized that certain species of animals resemble one another very closely. He thus group them together in a category called genus.

For example the domestic dog, Canis familiaris, share such obvious similarities with wolves (e.g. Canis lupus), jackals (e.g. Canis mesomelas) and the coyote (e.g. Canis latrans) that they are all group under the same genus, Canis. That these animals resemble each other more closely than they would, say, an elephant, shows that nature allows a system of classification. This level of classification however is not all there is to it. Groups of genera can be clustered into larger assemblages that share more fundamental and more general characteristics.

For instance the genus Canis share similar characteristics with the genera Vulpus (foxes) and Lycaon (wild dogs). These are group under the Family of Canidae. What these classification tells us is that Dogs and wolves resemble each other closer than they would a fox. But dogs, wolves and foxes resemble each other closer than an animal not in the family of Canidae, let us take the elephant as an example here again. Nature not only seems to allow a system of classification but obviously favours one that is hierarchical; that each group can be further grouped together on the basis of more general similarities.

To continue our example, the family of Canidae is group together with other families such as Ursidae (the bear family), Mustelidae (which includes weasels, polecats and badgers) and Felidae (the cat family which includes the lion, tiger, leopard and the domestic cat). These families share similarities which include the fact that they are all flesh eating mammals, have strong jaws and large sharp teeth for tearing and cutting flesh. These families are grouped under the order of Carnivora. Carnivora is further grouped with some other orders under the class of mammalia. Some other order of mammals include Marsupialia, the Primates (which monkeys, apes and human beings) and Proboscidea (which includes, finally, our friend the elephant). All mammals share the characteristic of being warm blooded, hairy, vertebrates (having backbones), giving birth to live youngs who are nourished with their mother’s breasts. The class of mammals have a total of about 4,500 species group under it.

Mammals can be further grouped with other animals under the phylum Chordata. The members of this phylum have, at least sometime during their life, an elongated skeletal rod, or notochord, which stiffens the body, with a single hollow nerve chord located at the back side of the body. Other classes of animals included in this phylum include Pisces (the bony fishes), Amphibia (amphibians e.g. frogs, toads and salamanders), Reptilia (the reptiles e.g. snakes, lizards and crocodiles) and Aves (the birds). The phylum Chordata can again be group with other phyla into the kingdom of Animalia or of animals.[3]

The grouping we have seen above is certainly hierarchical. We can group living things into bigger and bigger groups sharing more generalized similarities. Linnaues tried in vain to develop different system of classification such as map like diagrams that would always group similar organisms together and separate dissimilar groups. Many other early taxonomies tried other ingenious system of classification, all of which proved unsatisfactory. The fact remains that the only satisfactory way of classifying living things is with a hierarchical system.[4] Why would living things illustrate this natural tendency of groups in such a system? The idea of separate creation simply cannot even begin to explain this.

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Evidence #3: Comparative Anatomy

The third evidence comes from the study of comparative anatomy. The figure below shows the fore limbs of four different animals: man, the dog, the whale and the bird. All these fore limbs have different uses in each of the animals: for the man it is used as a hand for manipulating things; for the dog, it is for walking; for the whale, it is for swimming; and for the bird, it is for flying. Yet remarkably, we see that the basic bone structure of these limbs are similar.

We can also see that all the bones from the fingers (phalanges) have the same basic design: the phalanges are joined to the metacarpals and then to the carpals, to the two long bones, radius and ulna, and finally to the humerus bone. We can see how the five phalanges (the fingers) are used by man for grasping but what is the use of the same phalanges in the whale, the dog and the bird? An engineer starting from scratch would surely have done away with these phalanges for the other three animals.[5] In fact, our hypothetical engineer would almost certainly have designed different basic bone structures for all of them.

The presence of such homologous organs in a varied group of animals shows that either the species was not separately created, or the creator suffers from an extreme lack of creativity! In fact what is seen here, from a creation-design point of view, is almost like the work of a craftsman or craftsmen who, left with little choice, modified a basic structure that was available to suit the applications. Modification, surely an ugly word for an all powerful and all wise creator!

comparative anatomy
Comparative anatomy between the front limbs of a man,
a dog, a whale and a bird.[6]

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Evidence #4: Vestigial Organs

The fourth evidence comes from the existence of vestigial organs which have no use in some animals but are useful in other animals. For instance, snakes have small bones which are rudimentary hind limbs, while whale have a rudimentary pelvic girdle. These structures used primarily in land locomotion, is of no use in the snake and the whale.[7] These organs are called vestigial organs.

The human being has more than one hundred such organs, of which the most well known are the fused tail (the coccyx) and the appendix.[a] Human beings have no tail, yet we see in his bone structure an obvious tail-bone called the coccyx. This tail bone has been shortened to the point where it is completely covered by the muscles of the buttocks. The caecum-appendix is a blind sac at the juncture between the small and large intestines. It has no use in modern humans and can sometimes be an outright nuisance, as some people who had appendicitis will tell you. Yet we see in other mammals, such as the guinea pig and the horse, the caecum performs an important function. It is the location of the bacterial digestion of food. [8]

Again: to ask the question: why would an all powerful creator put similar organs in different animals, some of which have no use for them at all?

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Evidence #5: Paleontology

The last evidence we will look at is from Paleontology. Paleontology is the study of living things that have long since died but left their remains mainly in the form of skeletal imprints found in rocks. These imprints are called fossils. Fossils can also be of shells, or petrified remains (of plants and animals) or even trials and footprints of animals.

Paleontologists have found that not all classes of animals and plants are found in the rock strata, the older the strata the less ‘modern” type of animals one would find. Thus, the rock strata formed during the last hundred million years ago would all the major groups of vertebrates. However, in rock strata of about 350 million years before the present time the fossils of mammals and birds are no longer found. Only the fossils of fish, amphibians and reptiles, among the vertebrates are to be found. Go back another 100 million years and only the fossils of fishes represent the vertebrates. All these does not make sense, given a six day creation.

Another example from paleontology is the seeming modifications different animals go through in time. Paleontologists has a very complete collection of fossils of animals that resemble closely the modern horse, Equus. Working our way backwards we can find fossils, some of them dating all the way back to the Eocene epoch (about 60 million years ago), which resembled the horse. The figure below shows the fore legs of the various fossils discovered at different rock stratas.[b] The modifications can clearly be seen: the horse through a period of 60 million years slowly lost most of its phalanges and metatarsal bones.[9] How is this to be explained in the context of creation?

evolution of the horse
Eohippus
Early Miocene
(60 mya)*
Mesohippus
Oligocene
(35 mya)
Merychippus
Late Miocene
(15 mya)
Equus
Modern Day
Fossil record showing the evolution of the foreleg of the horse
*mya = million years ago

All this evidence is irreconcilable with the myth of separate creation? But, as I said earlier, science has used these evidences to discover the actual underlying process of the origin of species: this process is known as evolution.

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Evolution

In fact all the evidences quoted above were first collected and presented by Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in his book The Origin of Species which was published in 1859 to support his idea of "descent with modification" or evolution. Darwin suggested that all living things descended from a few or even one primitive form. The primitive forms, through successive generations, underwent gradual changes, modifications and diversifications to become the modern animals and plants that we know today. All living things today are descended from living things which had lived before, though the descendants may look almost completely different if we trace the ancestry far enough. Since the publication of the Origin further scientific discoveries in the mechanism of inheritance, population genetics and biochemistry has led all scientists competent to assess the evidence that evolution is a scientific fact.

Let us see how evolution can explain all the evidences we have stated above:

  • The reason why we see different animals in widely separated geographic locations with similar climates is simple: the original animals that were in these locations followed different paths of evolution. We have very good geological evidence to explain why the marsupials are concentrated in Australia. During the Mesozoic era, Australia became isolated from the rest of the world, its primitive mammals did not have to compete with the better adapted placental mammals. Thus the marsupials started to occupy every available niche in the continent by evolution. In other places, such as South America, the marsupials were eliminated by competition with the placental mammals.

  • The hierarchical structure of classification that forces itself on the early taxonomist, is even easier to explain with evolution. Genus are collection of species that share a common ancestors not too long ago. Hence many of the similarities are still shared. The higher the division, the more remote the common ancestors are.

  • As for comparative anatomy, the man, the dog, the whale and the bird all evolved from an ancestor that has the stated forelimb configuration. As they evolved separately to fill different environments and surroundings these structures were modified accordingly, always retaining the basic structure.

  • It is the same with vestigial organs. Snakes evolved from reptiles who had functioning limbs, but as it evolved to fill a niche where the limbs were not needed these organs degenerated into vestigial organs. The whale evolved from a four legged mammal and the pelvic girdle is a vestige of this ancestor. Human beings, at a remote period back in time, share the same ancestors as horses and pigs which have the precursor to the appendix.

  • The fossil records from paleontology gives the most direct evidence of evolution. The fossils show that more complicated animals appeared on the earth later than the simpler ones. Thus birds and mammals, which are more complicated creatures than reptiles appear in the fossil record later. The fossil record also shows how birds and mammals evolved from reptiles. Perhaps the most well known example is Archaeopteryx. The fossil, first found in 1861 in Bavaria, is about the size of a crow, had both reptilian and avian features as we would expect from a pioneer species. It has reptilian like teeth and tail, yet it has wings that are covered with feathers and the wishbone, a feature found only in birds today.[10] This shows that more complicated animals, with more features and modifications, arose from simpler ones. Thus the reptiles themselves appear in the fossil record later than the amphibians, which are still simpler organisms. If we go back even further to the Proterozoic era only the simplest unicellular organisms can be found, thus showing that all modern day animals must evolve from these. The fossil record of the horse actually shows evolution occurring right before our eyes. The horse (it's forelegs and every other part) evolved through the millions of years to fit into its environment.

The verdict is clear: evolution is the explanation for the present diversity of living things. The biblical story of creation is an ancient myth and is to be read as such.

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Notes

a.Other examples of human vestigial organs include the nictating membrane, muscles that move the ear, the pointed canine, the third molar or wisdom tooth, the male nipple, the body hair, segmented abdominal muscles and the pyramidalis muscle.
b.To ease communication among geologists, various names are given to different times or eras of the past. Thus the evolution of the horse took place in the Cenozoic (or Modern ) Era which started from the time the dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago. On a smaller scale, geologists have given the following names: Paleocene (70-60 million years ago), Eocene (60-40 mya), Oligocene (40-25 mya), Miocene (25-10mya), Pliocene (10-3mya), Pleistocene (3 million years to 100,000 years ago) and Holocene (from 100,000 years ago to today).

References

1.Villee, Biology,: p777
2.Biscare et. al. (ed), Encyclopedia of Plants and Animals,: p232-234
3.McWhirter, Guinness Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Facts: p415-433
Biscare, Encyclopedia of Plants and Animals: p310-318
4.Stanfield, The Science of Evolution: p98-101
5.Hall, Biology: p255
6.Ruse, Darwinism Defended: p41
7.Stanfield, The Science of Evolution: p121-122
8.ibid: p121-123
Clegg & Clegg, Biology of the Mammal, p397
9.Kilgour, Mastering Biology: p401-403
10.Ruse, Darwinism Defended: p208, 312

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