Looking Through the Window
Science Area Narrative
This is a plain language overview of the entire science area!
on Narrative links below to
see key questions, short answers, in the window pane on the right.
Biological evolution, by general definition, is an unguided, purposeless, chance driven process that never had your existence in mind.
IF that's true, then there is no need to read further. Why?
Well, if true, your life has no ultimate value — in the end, you meet an inevitable finite conclusion. Furthermore, humans, their entire history, and even the cosmos is headed to an inevitable cold darkness. Physics tells us to expect such a fate by entropy. That's it, there is nothing more to it.
Today we are awakened by the notion that humans and all life are a product of complex information. Life's intricate structures and functions — down to the molecular level — reveals the strong inference that we are a product of design.
Common to our experience, we say: "design reflects purpose." Think a moment ... a truly incredible and wondrous thought process begs our consideration of what that purpose might be. The window is here to for you to consider the evidence. In this area we constantly resolve what is to be seen by scientific data.
Keep asking, what does the sphere of scientific information tell us. Keep that focus as you read here!
A most important question: "What is the evidence that puts us on track to seeing the specificity, complexity, design, and the awesome reality to life's existence and to life's origin?
EVIDENCE concerning origins and design comes from many avenues of science. If this also brings us back to consider the Genesis account, so be it. But the point here is that science, not belief systems (neither religious nor scientific), is in view. Be aware, many scientists have slipped into believing certain assumptions instead of what the evidence reveals.
Look and Ask Questions!
Here are ten questions that you can ask about assumptions biologists have made for a long time concerning evolution. Do the assumptions help or hinder science! If the assumptions are wrong, then what does the evidence from scientific cata really say? The text in this column helps to get us thinking about many related perspectives and problems!
Frequently asked questions about Intelligent Design that you can consider! Here are sme details to consider! Also, open this as a PDF file, read and save a copy to your computer!
Look At The Data!
Remember, science information tells us that the universe has a beginning (a 'Big Bang'). But the science data cannot reveal who or what initiated the bang — the cause may be natural or supernatural. Here, we are not trying to prove or disprove the cause, but instead allow the evidence to open our minds to something awesome.
Life is an opportunity for discovery ... please, don't be left out of the most important thinking concerning your life!
A widely held position on origins is that the theory of evolution, as published by Charles Darwin in the mid-1800s, explains how life arouse on earth.
An objective, fair, review of scientific information reveals where Darwin's theory fails to explain. Evidence for design in the universe opens to the presence of an intelligence as an agent responsible for life as we see it. This brings us to a new approach to understanding our place in the universe. Once apparent, you can consider a purpose to life.
First, take a look at the science, later other areas in the window help to complete the larger view. WindowView's science area essentially highlights the following point:
Life is not by chance and there is good reason to consider a purpose to all we see!
What's here is reasonable and it's based on empirical evidence. All this gives insight for what appears later in the window. This is something to consider later (in summary) when building a paradigm based on the entire view.
Narrative Content Guide
If you keep scrolling this column you'll visit each of the following headings in turn. Or simply click here to jump ahead!
Content in this text column
- Change in the View
- Main Narrative
- Science & Origins
- Darwin and Darwinism
- Age and Time
- Tree of Life
- Fossils and Life's Appearance
- From Genetic Information to Embryos
- Design, Complexity and Examples
- The Wedge
- Science, Time, and Change
- Yale Symposium (Audio Links)
Origins Past & Looking to the Future
Life's origin is repeatedly defined by certain well worn assumptions — these are widely held throughout Western culture. Remarkably, the impact of this is that your lifestyle and the society around you are shaped by beliefs about evolution. Reality is ... the scientific data tell another story about origins!
The WindowView presents only a slice of scientific detail. So, this is a starting point for building a case that renews our understanding about life.
The WindowView timeline also places science along a perspective that runs from eternity past to eternity future. But there is more to the timeline than science alone! Putting our origin in context sets us in the very direction that science, history, and current events now take us.
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Change in the View
If evolution theory is put in question, then what else has explanatory power?
Be aware that arguments to design are not based on other data! Seeing a difference comes with the way assumptions fade and our eyes sharpen with further evaluation. It's like looking at the other side of the coin for the first time. Or like a discovery that comes with turning over an old familiar rock. We have simply missed an explanation that's been there all along!
there is a huge debate about all this today. It's in the news, in the classroom,
and in the courts. While some people resist a change in views — because
this offers conclusions that are personally and philosophically unacceptable — we
need to go where the data take us.
Yes, the evidence offers a change in view! Multiple perspectives strengthen the case for a change in paradigms (i.e., a model or explanation for how nature, the universe, and life works).
A look at origins brings us to what is truly remarkable!
Science & Origins
Many accounts given for life's origin start with an established 'biological view.' Some tell the story after the fact of life's established presence on Earth. In fact, the Public Broadcasting System (PBS, in the U.S.) presents many TV shows that do just that — yet this approach is flawed. The story starts before ... not with ... life's appearance!
COSMIC ORIGINS: For example, astronomy shows us special conditions make the universe and our planet particularly unique. This speaks to special conditions that reveal 'design' is supporting our existence. If conditions are 'fine tuned,' then there is specific evidence for an existence that's not by chance. Supporting evidence comes into view even before the infant universe greatly expands and life finds itself on the Earth. In fact, there are numerous elements to this fine tuned universe! Remember, the probability for so many factors to be set just right is incredibly low (to the point of an impossibility!). Odds are we shouldn't be here!
We also live in a most unique place in the cosmos! Rather than being insignificant life forms — as Carl Sagan insisted — we occupy a place in the cosmos that suggests just the opposite! Our Earth's orbit resides in a life friendly habitable zone, just the right distance from the sun! A bit closer or a bit further from the sun and Earth would be barren. Equally unique, the solar system (our sun and planets) resides in a 'galactic habitable zone,' just the right distance from the center of our galaxy! Again, too close or too far from the galaxy's center and there would be no life on Earth!
We find ourselves in a unique spot between major galactic arms of the Milky Way galaxy. This allows Earth bound observers to see the entire universe with a clear view. This window to the universe allows us to discern so much of what we call science. The data tell us that numerous coincidental 'just right factors' are set in place (the constants and forces described by physics and chemistry) to make the universe a stage for life. Our position as observers to see what we do seems privileged — our place in the cosmos is an 'enabler' to finding purpose!
(This look from an astronomical perspective is the first feature article in the Science Area.)
CHEMICAL ORIGIN: But wait, there is the vital question of how life arose in the first place!
Is there a good explanation for the chemical origin of life? So far, the answer is NO! Current attempts to explain life's chemical origins face insurmountable hurdles! For the present we refer to a number of proposals and models for chemical origins, but so too, how all proposed mechanisms for a chemical origin meet a dead end — none seem plausible!
Outside of living cells, chemicals DO NOT spontaneously assemble to form all the building blocks specifically necessary to life. Further, there are tempting examples in favor of [some] chemical self-assembly, but again not enough to give us a fully functional cell. A look at thermodynamics points to the conditions and difficulties that raise the bar on the hurdle mentioned above. (Thermodynamics is the study of how chemical reactions go or don't go.) This may sound a bit technical, but the point made here is very simple.
If thermodynamics did not pose problems to chemical origins, then perhaps there would be spontaneous generation of life's components in puddles, ponds, lakes, and oceans long ago and even today. But that doesn't happen ... not even in carefully controlled laboratory experiments ... so how can we expect thermodynamic principles to favor chemical origins to life eons ago?
We are genuinely faced with a marvelous but insurmountable puzzle. The best scientists find no workable explanations! In fact, if the earth is truly old, then why do we find evidence for life in rocks that are the oldest known! Life began a presence here the 'instant' the planet could have conceivably hosted any form of life. Think about it! That's astounding!
MAKING CALCULATIONS: We next turn to the question of probability. Do life forms make sophisticated changes driven by chance? Were we made by a trial and error process? That's the main assumption underlying Darwinian thinking!
How likely is it that life can develop one unique species from yet another unique species! (Note: technically we are really saying from one unique group to another, say from reptiles to birds—phyla to phyla—from one distinct body type to another type).
At each step, hundreds of coordinated and simultaneous adjustments would make sense. If such change is not by chance, then by what means!!!
questions concerning chance even before thinking about how improbable
it is that information was organized into
life — in
the first place — even as a genetic code!
This code is highly specified and very complex!
Where did the information come from to create a genetic code?
How did that happen!
NO one knows!
The arrangement of key chemicals and the way DNA holds information has all the ear - marks of being engineered!
a look at design. We do this later on (see text below).
How probable or improbable is it for one species to evolve into another? Calculations made by Dr. Lee Spetner. The present example is excellent for its ability to get us thinking about important questions on chance and randomness as driving forces behind life's appearance.
Given what science knows about genetics, using parameters from the published scientific literature, Dr. Spetner calculates the probability ... to reveal evolution (the general theory specifically) is mathematically impossible. He lays it all out for us in a comprehensive and scientifically credible presentation. In the end, he is saying, specifically, we are not here by chance! Note other sources reach similar conclusions.
Before we move on to biology in general, we see at least three areas where life's appearance on earth reveals something special and it's not simply caused by material means nor by an undirected random process. Thus far we've looked at information from astronomy, chemistry as it applies to the origin of life, and a mathematical [i.e., probabilistic] consideration of how species evolve from ancestral species.
With regard to counterpoints raised elsewhere. There are views to be found in print and on the Internet that push back on what is stated here. Some are data driven while others carry personal perspectives — but note the scope of any critique.
Ask if that counter information embraces a holistic look or a narrowed focus. Critical views that argue a single point may capture our attention and momentarily cast doubt.
Even if we've missed a few of the specifics, we'll continue to build a view on an expanding base. It's not just a few special cosmic conditions, or a lack of chemical explanation, or even select calculations ... put it all together into one larger working explanation.
a look! See what works and what fails!
Discern what's true!
That is why there are over 40 feature articles that accompany this narrative. And science is only one portion of the WindowView!
Book List: Many of these titles have been used to prepare the feature articles that appear in the Science Area of WindowView.
Darwinism (i.e., macroevolution; the general theory) is widely supported as a fact. The media, textbooks, government-funded entities reflect this position. But look at the evidence. Is this based on any assumptions? (Yes!) Is this then driven by belief (by some perrsons) and thus a scientist's creation story? ASK:
- Is Darwinism in part or whole misleading?
- Should any State or Educational Organization regulate policy based on erroneous concepts?
- What are the consequences to being misinformed?
- What did humanity think before Darwin's time?
- What does today's scientific evidence reveal?
The 'thought-environment' in Darwin's day experienced a shift. The impact remains with us today. In fact, when it comes to origins or defining purpose to life, humanity's thinking exhibits a number of shifts. Some of the shift is strictly philosophical and some faith oriented. Yet even the biological center moved away from the view of the ancient thinkers—the Greeks and others—to a naturalism that seeks to explain origins in material terms (even PBS TV continues this tradition today). This is a shift away from ideas related to life's characteristics that speak to our existence by design—i.e., not by chance and based on new data Darwin never had. More evidence and discussion on this comes with the 21st - century (as is covered below).
To learn about the Victorian era sheds light on what Darwin was exposed to, his thinking, and that his view was not simply biology. He recognized potential in shifting views to the point of expressing specific doubts about his own theory. Let's not trivialize Darwin as scientist or for being human. What would be our experience and impressions if we had the opportunity to meet Charles Darwin—the man, up close and personal.
Let's spend a moment reflecting on what we'd think if we could meet Darwin. We see the iconic pictures of this man, but if we heard him, sat together to chat, and even let him ask questions concerning today's science, what might we think following this encounter? Indeed, what might he think?
Would Darwin change his mind based on modern evidence? He probably would! But remember he's iconic and fixed in time— fixed in place by what is in our minds!
What Helped The Shift?
Who supported Darwin's theory? Sometimes called Darwin's 'bulldogs,' certain individuals stepped forward to support evolution, not just on the merits of the theory, but for other reasons including personal motives.
Today, personal philosophies and metaphysical views complicate the picture on evolution. This goes back to Victorian thinking and a struggle to put science in the ideological driver's seat. Theological questions might fade away if evolution was the absolute case. But does stating it's a fact do the trick or is this simply tricky business? Learn about several key bulldogs and keep their motives in mind as you explore other parts of the window. Essentially, no misguided effort from the past can hold forever. This releases us to see alternatives and to clarify issues related to origins.
Building an Objective View
If evolution theory represents a tidal wave with opinions swamping all attempts to research or conclude anything but what evolutionism presumes, then science fails. If so, it's not surprising to see some scientists—who have certain reservations about evolution—are hesitant to be outwardly vocal. Any academic expression of doubt concerning the legitimacy of a widely accepted theory risks criticism, jeopardizes one's job security, tenure, even the editorial discrimination by journals that publish research results and related articles.
If this is true (and it is!), then testing new concepts or 'cutting-edge' research outside the sphere of the main stream must be conducted on the side. If the results of this work are truly important, there is still an up stream battle to getting this information published. Objectivity has little to do with this scenario. What is the true consequence when science fails?
Book List: Many of these titles have been used to prepare the feature articles that appear in the Science Area of WindowView.
Age and Time
We mentioned astronomy provides valuable information about the fine-tuned nature of our universe. Other specific observations reveal we live on a privileged planet! There is also scientific evidence that tells us the age of universe is billions of years. The Hebrew Scriptures state creation follows a sequence of six day-length steps. Are these two views exclusive?
Perhaps not! There is a very interesting possibility here!
One approach we've run into uses Einstein's relativity. There is a way to calculate the age of the earth and universe in terms of billions of years, and at the same time in relative terms explain the unfolding events as occurring over six days!
Another scientific and biblical based review (see our article: Science and Scripture) reveals biblical references to time—even to a universe and Earth with old age!
We recognize and respect interpretations of the Genesis account as being six days. We also recognize this account leaves room for discovery. There are also those who believe the Earth is young. From this point on, within the window, we'll simply demonstrate that naturalism (which relies on an old Earth) fails to explain even when considering the evidence in relation to an old Earth.
NOT ENOUGH TIME
Even with billions of years there is still insufficient time to explain life's appearance—remember the discussion above and the problems that chance events run into when making calculations in relation to time and evolution theory. Much more time—than has already transpired for this universe—would be required. Also note, planets, like Earth, have an existence that's a fraction of the universe's present time span.
Yet, the general discussion on origins continues to assume life arises on Earth (or any planet) from chemicals to cells, to complex forms—by descent with modification, natural selection, etc. This process is driven by random events and trial and error results to yield, over extensive geological time frames, increasingly complex life forms. Identifying time as the (assumed) driver for biological change is misleading. Even in the presence of evidence for increased complexity over time!
KEY POINT: Time is not a solution nor does it answer the questions concerning origins. More amazing is evidence for life's sudden appearances in the fossil record over time.
SEEING THE WHOLE PICTURE
So what is the driving force here? Consider an example in the form of an illusion. Here is a case where we have to make a distinction in the way information reveals the full story. Have we only recognized part of what that data tell us? Additional perspectives on what's at work appear later in this narrative. Keep in mind life's complexity depends on information and the initial derivation of that information is a critical clue identifying the source of our existence. What we can say for sure is that random events are not the answer.
So there is a working solution for a combined scientific and biblical view on time. What comes next is an assessment of what does and does not work for evolution theory over time.
REFLECTION: More complex forms do appear later and later in Earth's history. This trend is not necessarily proof of biological evolution. Think critically! Consider the possible ramifications when looking at the evidence. Fossils now tell us complex forms appear rapidly with little to no evidence for intermediate or ancestral forms. That's complexity appearing without traceable cause. (e.g., Cambrian explosion)
Remember, it takes specific complex information to make complex life. How does that information appear so rapidly?
From what Darwin tells us, there are two theories to describe. The first is the general theory and the other is the special theory. The general theory is an extension of the special theory.
Let's say it right up front ... Darwin got it right when he thought in terms of the special theory. In this case, over short time periods, species can give rise to other closely related species. This is called microevolution. The general theory assumes much longer time frames are involved (i.e., macroevolution). You can briefly explore a bit more about macroevolution and microevolution in two separate feature articles on these topics.
THE UPDATED THEORY
Neo-Darwinism is based on early 20th-century evidence. There's lots to describe concerning neo-Darwinism. However, space is limited, so the accompanying feature article addresses this briefly.
Certainly, Darwin's theory was initiated by interpreting evidence of the day, in his time. When genetics and later molecular biology came along Darwinism needed an update. Neo-Darwinism is a rethinking of the previous Darwinian view in newer terms. Is that any better? Does neo-Darwinism overcome the problems noted above. In a word: No.
There is an important footnote to this story. Many sources indicate there was an intent within the scientific community to force the newer 20th-century data into the older evolutionary paradigm. What if scientists had, after the turn of the century, just taken the opportunity to make a completely fresh review! Apparently, remodeling evolution was then more like a tune up rather than an engine overhaul. An important opportunity was missed! The new review today examines this issue through the most recent discussions on origins (see: Design, Complexity and Examples section below). Perhaps this is the long overdue review!
NEW EVIDENCE COMES TODAY
As more evidence comes from the molecular world, the more one must look beyond Darwinism to make sense of the data. Relevant examples of this are considered below. In short, it's just not newer data that made neo-Darwinism, but instead the persistence in a belief birthed by Darwinism. And lets be clear it is Darwinism and not Darwin that launched this belief system. Beyond Darwin, evolution theory took on a life of its own—by the actions of others in adopting the theory—to the extent that even today this belief system goes beyond the data. Again, as evident here, evolution is now questioned especially in light of: 1) arguments from design, 2) the examples for complexity, and 3) developmental data previously passed over by Darwinists (also see: From Genetic Information to Embryos below).
Tree of Life
Classical thinking on the lineage of life assumes all life stems from a common ancestor. If we go back in time, ahead of Darwin and Wallace, back to earlier thinkers something different emerges. Yes, there was a great sense of order and that life may have progressed from sea to land and land to the air. But the idea that life comes from a common ancestor was not a main line view. In fact, arguments for keeping organisms classified in 'unconnected' unique groups was considered a viable perspective. To some, this grows out of accepting a divine creation. To others, it's shown by scientific observation! Further still were thoughts on how life bears signs of design—something that evolution can not explain.
So often we are shown an illustration for a 'tree of life' with plants and animals positioned at the tips of the tree's branches. The illustration depicts where organisms rest in a taxonomic and in an organizational sense, but science today still struggles with the notion that the branches and branch points are a connected reality.
ARE THE BRANCHES THERE?
Intermediate forms along the lengths of branches should exist for the entire length of the tree's trunk and at every fraction of an inch along the branches leading to each species held by the tree.
Technically, there should be fossil evidence of a 'blur' of varied life forms. Any 'species' is then only part of a continuum of intermediate forms.
As it turns out, there is also a hierarchy to life that can support other ways of viewing such a classification scheme. The alternative does not start with a single tree trunk but a number of (origin) points with fully formed groups. Species can still arise within this arrangement, but the overall branching pattern and common ancestor is gone. The difference reveals yet one more valuable clue and another unique perspective on origins.
As you might suspect from the description above, there are problems with using the tree illustration. So ... we next consider additional approaches to the way organisms can be classified. Even the alternate solutions come with some debate within the scientific community, but the discussion continues because the tree diagram is based on assumptions—to the point of being misleading. Let's look at classification by illustrating one of the ways the tree can be redrawn.
The Darwinian tree is confounded by problems when comparing anatomical traits. You would think this is the method that makes evolution's tree. Looking closer, there are mismatching sets of traits across supposedly similar forms. If evolution theory is to stand, this mismatch needs an explanation!
This stands in opposition to a progression of traits that would easily fit a logical classification. And later molecular evidence further disrupts the Darwinian tree. In this case, nodes and branches appear to cross back and forth instead of forking upward in a neat treelike pattern. Elsewhere molecular scientists keep remaking different tree patterns because new confounding data destroys the tree concept. The tree idea doesn't work.
FOSSIL EVIDENCE IN PERSPECTIVE
The idea that evolution explains descent and thus propagation of an array of continually varying life forms from one or several common ancestral population(s) is not clearly supported. Again, while traits and structures are shared, there are numerous mismatches that disrupt making simple conclusions. Still, many evolutionists choose to hold fast to the classical scheme. Further, examples for the incredibly sudden appearance of life in the fossil record raises a critical challenge to any thought of gradual descent—appearance of life over a long time frame—in the classical sense. In fact, one is left to consider that sudden appearances are the norm. Such events are then followed by a blossoming of closely related species within phyla. (But not one phylum leading to another) .
NON-RANDOM VARIATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Well then, if life forms don't merely keep changing to produce other newer unique forms (e.g., new body plans and unique organs), then what might drive formation of at least a closely related species. One concept is related to an interplay between evolution and the environment. But here the proposal is that information in the genome (i.e., in the DNA making the chromosomes) of organisms is already there—ready to be tapped in response to varied conditions. There is a mystery yet to be solved, but we know that the genomes appear to embody potential, either in the excess ('junk' or 'nonsense') DNA (that in some recent work demonstrates is functional genetic information) or in the ability to 'intelligently' invert, transpose, or rearrange existing DNA molecules. Moving segments of DNA is rearranging information. This appears a functional part of activating resident information. If done improperly the organism may suffer or die. If executed properly, the advantageous change potentially results in sufficient working efficiency that keeps an individual or population alive to reproduce further.
Another footnote to add here is that mutations (small changes in the genetic code) that lead to 'adaptive' information changes may actually work by losing information and not creating new information. Some or possibly the majority (dare we say all) mutations appear to confer an 'advantage' but by the introduction of less efficiency and not greater efficiency. Again, like the illusion, perhaps science has focused so long on the obvious mutation story, that the rest of the picture is hard to recognize. By uncovering more of this picture we think science will give us some spectacular surprises!
REFLECTION: We are led to assume molecules of DNA 'know' how to capture and store vast libraries of information. Scientists can document experimental differences in DNA in real time (over short periods), but to say this explains evolution is an inappropriate extrapolation. We see scientists are just so use to saying it, they have not stopped to realize the implications or impractical nature of what they assume. What it takes to build a genome as Darwinism requires is not supported by what scientific data have to tell us! The intricate complexity, the marvelous ability to replicate information, the presence of awesome repair mechanisms, the amount of information stored and it's so efficiently retrieved, and other facets to this topic again bring us back to consider it's all by design.
A NEW HYPOTHESIS
In fact, one proposal is that the environment is the main driver and 'evolution' in the 'micro-' sense is the result. This has been demonstrated. This illustrates where evolution works. Furthermore, such a form of evolution is nonrandom, no new information is added by any process, and this point needs recognition as a unique hypothesis. Such recognition would expand our view and remove some of the 'default favor' granted to random evolution process.
Fossils and Life's Appearance
It's not news that fossils are important to studying life's existence in previous eras of time. Recently scientists have obtained awesome evidence for complex life forms appearing—rapidly—in relatively brief spans of geologic time (e.g., ca. 5 or fewer million years for the events associated with the 'Cambrian explosion').
In fact, evidence for life on early earth ... reveals an appearance immediately after the young planet's surface cools. Life comes at the first opportune moment; some 3.8 billion years ago. This without any time for evolution's gradualism over a long time span.
Panspermia: This is the concept that proposes life's arrival on Earth comes from somewhere else in the universe. Serious scientists have made such proposals, but insufficient time and conditions anywhere else pose the same problems as here! Panspermia just puts off the insurmountable with hopes based on naturalism. This is not a solution to life's origin.
EXTINCTION AND SHORT TIME frames
Multiple extinction events have visited the Earth in ages past. At the very least these events have come with life rebounding at astounding rates. One suggestion is that if evolution were the gradual process of descent with modifications, that extinction events turn back the evolutionary clock. Recovery would not be so rapid. Note this is not a matter of one great event, like that associated with the loss of all dinosaurs. Multiple events mean multiple challenges at different times. There are thus two interesting mysteries here. Why does: 1) life appear so rapidly as in the Cambrian era (and other phyla appear likewise at other 'points' in time; for example, flowering plants have their own 'explosion' as they first appear on Earth!) and 2) life rebounds (phyla reappear) quickly after an event that causes global extinctions. If evolution needs all the time it can get ... how can the clock even be reset once, back to near time zero, to start all over again?
One persistent area of concern is the lack of transitional intermediates in the fossil record. The idea is species A will be altered slightly and progressively until one finds species B. The intermediates are then all slightly 'morphed' over time with mutations and by selection resulting in something like the following series:
Starting with species (or phyla) A=>A1=>A2=>A3=>B3=>B2=>B1 and finally B.
There are scientists who believe strongly in evolution and thus work hard to find intermediate forms in the fossil record.
The thumbnail answer here is that organisms that "look transitional" can be identified. But wrinkles in evolutionary thinking come when we consider: 1) time frames of life's appearance, 2) the question of how extensive the data are for intermediates universally (they are not common), and 3) some living-fossil organisms exist today that show incredible conservation of features with their ancient kin (the same species) as observed in fossils. The take home message is that 'intermediates' simply turn out to be unique enough to be distinct species. Virtually innumerable gaps need to be filled by examples of intermediate forms to make this a working concept.
Darwin thought that in time the fossil record would be extensive and prove his theory correct. The fossil record in some areas of the world is now extensive, but not in any way yielding the support anticipated back in the mid-1800s.
Note of Interest
from AAAS 2002
Read an short sidebar commentary regarding recent evidence from dinosaur finds made in Africa.
Without a doubt, new fossil finds will come. Some will be heralded as great discoveries. But until the empirical data confirm Darwin's thinking, microevolution stands as the only working model. And perhaps there are nonrandom aspects as to how organisms adapt to environmental challenges. Dr. Sereno's work in Africa (see Note of Interest above) may repeat the pattern of numerous interesting finds with unique creatures that do little to fill transitional gaps—other than to finally document the types of dinosaurs and other species that once existed in Africa.
From Genetic Information to Embryos
Let's really shift gears here! Let's look at the inner workings of cells and organisms. This is marvelous because the mystery of life only deepens.
In the Darwinian sense, all modern research should simply cinch the story, sew it up, and settle it, now and and for all time. The picture we see is incredible but not as anticipated by evolutionists. Still, they persist in describing findings according to their expectations. There is evidence that just does not fit their concept and that is what makes for intrigue and fun in seeing what science has in store for us!
WHERE THE INFORMATION IS
We noted previously that no one—in a material sense—can identify the source of biological information. The existence of this information can be examined from what science knows about DNA. Yet, this is only the 'master' molecule—no, we are not forgetting RNA—involved in storing and moving the information around. So much information in yet such a small package ... storing data more effectively than any computer technology today—it's awesome! There is something spectacular to our look at DNA. We think it's as special as all the other perspectives here at the window. Take a moment to consider the unique features of life's information systems!
THE CODE IN ACTION
As scientists expose the genetic codes for various plants and animals—including the human genome—new peculiar questions arise. Again, some of what is being discovered mounts an ever increasing challenge to evolution theory!
To briefly review a point or two about genes in action, stasis , and death (by design) which will appear in future feature articles will approach these topics.
Embryology - Looking At Organisms Develop
One area of study in biology often assumed to provide evidence for evolution is embryology. But a growing concern should be that embryos tell a story that is not in total synchrony with Darwinian theory.
There are two brief points—of many others we could include—that are noted in the feature article here. First, the developmental sequence that embryos exhibit does not parallel an evolutionary sequence as taught in schools. Some background is needed to understand this in context (see feature article). Once described, a common mantra of the biology textbooks is invalidated. Take a look to understand why "Ontogeny does not Recapitulate Phylogeny."
MUTATIONS ARE A PROBLEM
Also, mentioned here—but to be described in more detail in a future article—is the problem that mutations create at any stage for the developing embryo. One might think that just the right mutation during some early phase of development might impart something new for the species and thus some advantage for the mature adult stage.
Instead of a cascade of novel new features, mutations early on appear only detrimental. To be clear, an honest appraisal of embryology is likely to highlight problems and not solutions. The difficulties here are like the confounding hurdles described above for chemical evolution or the probability that life's complexity arises by chance. For example, we are talking about the appearance of entirely new organs, radically different lungs (in birds) or eye architecture (octopus without a close evolutionary connection), or the incredible coordination between any new structure and development of the rest of the forming organism!
Molecules Tell Us of a Separation of Groups
As noted above, molecular evidence should help, not hinder, promoting evolution theory. There are several sets of data to examine concerning the current molecular story. At this point we have room for one of these discussions. The main point: instead of a seamless story from ancestral life to modern organisms another pattern appears! Instead of a stream of life branching out over time, the evidence supports separate springs issuing from separate locations. Yes, molecules resemble a commonality in various phyla, but rather than linking species groups, there is an indication of relatively equal separation! This seems a parallel to what the evidence shows for sudden appearances of species (phyla) at the Cambrian explosion.
List: Many of these titles have been used to prepare the feature articles that appear
in the Science Area of WindowView.
Design, Complexity and Examples
Another perspective on origins is that of intelligent design. This topic impacts how we define our being. It goes right to the heart of what is taught in schools. Actually, intelligent design is not allowed by many school systems. Where is the objectivity? Design is an issue requiring our attention. This begs a look at how we regard life as a whole. In the window's context, this ultimately leads us to understanding a will and purpose associated with life. Something evolution theory can never reveal—but design does!
Darwinian theory (macroevolution) today represents an accepted secular creation myth. Scientific evidence, in fact, supports the case for intelligent design ... which in turn refutes assumption and myth. Even Darwin was open to the possibility that future data could one day collapse his general theory. That day has arrived.
Let's consider evidence in support of intelligent design. What we find is truly amazing. Nature itself embodies this evidence in all living systems. Think about this! Recognize what the evidence reveals. Today, science is able to reveal details necessary to demonstrate the presence of design.
A NEW TOOL
Intelligent design would only be a concept without a means to detect something as a product of design. And there is a tool to detect design! Take a moment to examine how this works—as briefly illustrated in our article on the explanatory filter. This tool can be successfully applied to the examples considered below. Such examples are identified as having 'specified' or 'irreducible' complexity.
EVIDENCE IN SUPPORT OF DESIGN
Read our feature article on irreducible complexity. Consider how observations at the molecular level—where life's inner workings are revealed through recent technological advancements and detailed scientific research—provide evidence for design. We focus on the writings of Dr. Behe with links to examples that go beyond Behe's discussion. This is a starting point. Let's look back at the earliest arguments for design and then refresh the view with modern scientific observations. This is cutting edge stuff.
Behe's book, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, was published in 1996. Since then thousands of reviews, responses, and critiques have failed to derail the key points made by Dr. Behe. Design is in the details.
THINK REALLY small!
Take a moment to scale yourself down to a miniature size so small that a visit to a cell is like touring a huge factory. Look around at the molecules that now tower over our heads! What you'll quickly see, with the help of your imagination, is that a cell is filled with numerous molecular machines. And the speed and efficiency by which these machines work is incredible ... but have you ever stopped to think about this? How can chance evolution account for this ... or can it? Whatever you think, this is a great exercise and with a moment of quiet consideration your jaw should drop! And why not be awed by what we see here! Really, life is that wondrous. We are so often too preoccupied to really take this all in and be amazed. So, take a look!
EXAMPLES TO AMAZE US
are a few more approaches to seeing life's incredible complexity, design and
examples that fit into the design arena. We address this a bit more in additional
feature articles on: complex
and evidence for design in cells.
Evidence from fossils and present life forms reveals unique properties that cannot simply be explained by evolution theory. Read about several examples including feathers, the eye, etc., as described here.
OTHER EXAMPLES GOING AWAY
Textbooks commonly employ examples to state a case for evolution. These are sometimes called the icons of evolution. If the icons are solid examples, then the standard story has something to stand on. If not, then we are well advised to recognize problems and misleading information. An analysis of each icon provides a valuable real time exercise in critical thinking. The feature article here provides a reference to a recent book by Dr. Jonathan Wells on this topic. But his writing is neither the first nor will this be the last we hear about the icons and problems with current textbook examples for evolution.
SCIENTISTS THINKING ABOUT FUTURE WORK
There are a number of scientists who would like to obtain funding to conduct research along the lines of detecting design in the universe. In a future feature article on testing a new hypothesis we will describe some of the recent thinking about this type of research going into the future. Even as funding entities today downplay the importance of such research, this does not invalidate the importance of this work. If anything, the current reluctance to provide funding only stalls academic freedom and blocks a constructive and objective endeavor. Those who criticize intelligent design as non-science, without a research base, neglect to admit the prejudice against funding this new exploration! Frankly, this puts off finding further amazing perspectives on our life and what makes our existence so remarkable.
Unlocking the Mystery of Life (VHS or DVD) is a stunning introduction to intelligent design. Many of the issues described in the window are wonderfully and clearly put forth in graphic terms. We strongly encourage a viewing of this video!
Above—at the top of this column of text—we entertained a feature topic on Darwin's bulldogs. Perhaps we can now see a new type of bulldog in the writings of Prof. Phillip Johnson. Take a moment to see how an academic lawyer—building a case through discovery with current science evidence—now recognizes not only the failings of evolution theory but sees far reaching consequences to our society's blind acceptance of material naturalism. This sets the stage for us to ask what the full implications are to what we think and teach our children. Or more so, to the blind acceptance of assumptions and how this characterizes and impacts our society as a whole.
The Intelligent Design 'movement' has gained momentum, numerous adherents, progress in being heard by boards of education across the U.S., and even a writing that accounts for the recent history for Intelligent Design (see Doubts About Darwin in our booklist). Our booklist has grown immensely in the past several years due to an intense and growing interest in this area! And this promises to be only a beginning to a most fascinating science based revolution.
MORE THAN THE MATERIAL AND NATURAL WORLD
Given all that we've seen to this point, it's time to examine position (a belief) held at large today. The influence of material naturalism goes to the root of the human experience. With the early great thinkers comes an awareness going beyond what is simply the material experience. And as noted above, much of the discussion on biology and origins during the Victorian era shifted humanity's mind set back to a focus on materialism or a methodological naturalism.
Today the global economy and politics has much to do with what's material. Society at large has built a foundation on materialism and naturalism. The human world revolves on a material axis. To see this as an influence and as a distraction ... reveals how important a long look at the details on origins can be. Perhaps beyond absorbing what's so special to being here, there is also an encounter with betrayal. If our existence is really better defined in other terms, other than what we assume every day ... then getting beyond naturalism opens the window further still. If you feel the betrayal, then you are getting the difference ... and time at the window is revealing something important to you. Yes, we live in a material world, but our origin tells us something that goes way beyond all this.
Also note, the tendency to living strictly in the material sense also drives the global change, current depletion of natural resources, and puts out of reach obtaining a goal of a sustainable environment. Materialism's (thus humanity's corporate) consumption drives the current global decline that is noted in the next feature area (Window).
Science, Time, and Change
THE POPULAR MEDIA's TREATMENT OF science AND EVOLUTION
We started our window session by looking at three critical areas—on astronomy, chemical origins, and probability. None of these topics was covered by the 2001 multi-episode PBS broadcast on evolution. This fails to recognize how we even get to the point of biology's existence and thereafter have any reasonable discussion on evolution. The producers of the PBS special essentially admit to skipping the up front issues [as noted in personal communications with WindowView]. If you wish, you can access and download a free viewer's guide (complete book in PDF!) designed to accompany this recent television series (as provided by the Discovery Institute).
LIFE ELSEWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE
There are so many fascinating topics to address. We can't cover them all, but one we want to briefly cover includes some interesting spins on the expectation for life on other planets, especially mars. Let's keep an open mind. Data that will come in the future may be reported as further proof of a material origin and evolution. Again, context is important. The information we already have is enough to squash speculation. Today's data helps us to reason further regarding implications of data to come tomorrow. Mars helps to illustrate why life on Earth is so unique!
THE QUALITY OF LIFE HERE TO DAY ... AND CHANGE
Elsewhere, within WindowView, there are a number of articles describing global change. Each description builds a picture for 'signs of our times.' On the one hand the evidence for change is clear, yet there are some who rebut and say not to worry. Take a moment to think about issues you'll encounter in other areas as you look through the window—especially with regard to global change and our planet's future.
THINKING ABOUT EVERYTHING ALONG TIME
Take a moment to reflect on how science events tell us something along a timeline. Change and driving forces can indicate where we are headed in time. Science is part of the story and elsewhere there are other indicators to consider.
ANOTHER VIEW FITS WHAT WE LOOK AT HERE
Place holder: apologetics (<<< see draft content now)
Is there a consistency between science and Scripture? We reveal that the Bible is in fact consistent, and note where other faiths fall short in this regard. Further, specific aspects of science are listed with examples from the biblical text ... read and compare ... we also provide a reference to a 2004 publication for further reading.
To Sum It All Up — The Holistic View
At this point we can review the topics presented here as a series of thumbnail sketches. The summary offered here is a bit lengthy and may best serve you as a printed article. Overall, the broad sweep of the Science Area's feature articles is represented, in sufficient form, such that if you need to you can return to a specific feature article. If read online, there are links throughout the summary back to specific feature articles and the details contained there.
With the turn of the new millennium comes a new visitation to the true nature to humanity's origin. And this goes beyond nature to reveal an intelligence is behind our existence. The revolutionary ripple that now moving through science and society will mount like a tidal wave. The impact however goes beyond a change in scientific paradigm ... it begs our thinking on a much larger scale. We are not here by chance ... so then, how do we respond. This point beckons us to return to the window to look further.
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