New Page -- 1 April 2005
Updated -- 15 June 2005
Creationism versus Evolution
How on earth did we get here? Not so much as how did we get into the fix we have, but how and when did mankind first appear on the scene?
That seems to be the question increasingly upon our minds in recent times. Whether or not the various species of Earth -- including ye olde Homo sapiens -- evolved from apes and tribolites over millions upon millions of year (i.e. the Theory of Evolution view), or whether instead it was all done in the dramatic, slam dunk fashion of Creationism -- i.e. divine intervention some five thousand years ago (give or take a generation), full of sound and fury and signifying... whatever.
The lines in this Battle Royale between the scientific evolutionary theory and the religious creationism view were drawn some 140 years ago at the publication of Charles Darwin's opus, On the Origin of Species. On the one side of the debate were the fundamentalist supporters whose arguments John Rennie  has called "Creationist Nonsense". On the other side were the so-called scientists advocating what often amounted to "Scientific Nonsense." The acromonius debate thus became known as the Nonsense Follies, and has been eargerly pounced upon by the Media in recent months. The Media loves conflict!
The scientific fundamentalists (the SF gang) won a significant round in the From Whence We Came Sweepstakes three-quarters of a century ago at the John Scopes "Monkey" trial. Suddenly it was okay to teach evolution in the classrooms. Then in 1991 the Nine Supremes -- fundamentalists of yet another sort -- struck a near mortal (mortal as opposed to moral) blow against the religious fundamentalists (the RF gang). The so-called Justices did this by ruling against a Louisiana law mandating equal time for Creationism in the class room. It was beginning to look like the theory of evolution was hereafter to be supported by law -- or to be more specific a theory of natural processes would be defended by man's wholly artificial law (just not necessarily nature's law).
The SF gang was beginning to feel pretty good at this point. Their version of truth and justice was apparently begining to win out! That is, until the equally dastardly RFers struck back with a cleverly concealed theory of Creationism called Intellligent Design. The ID approach was to avoid all mention of God, the Bible, Barney the purple dinosaur and related entities. Instead the new rallying cry was to teach the controversy in the public schools! The idea was to teach evolution as only one possibility among others. Such a tactic was to be the wedge with which to return Creationism -- or at least certain aspects of it -- to the forefront of the susceptible student's mind.
The SFers, famous for their objectivity and earnest desire for everyone to keep an open mind were horror struck at such an open, objective approach! The very idea of teaching the possibility of a counter theory was anathema... in a manner of speaking. To put it fairly bluntly, the SF gang went ape! [pardon the pun] Not only were schools, talk radio shows, and congressional resolutions portraying ID as a semi or even fully legitimate alternative to our old friend ET (Evolution Theory), but the idea was also finding its way into biology curricula and textbooks. As Evan Ratliff  has written:
"The ID movement's rhetorical strategy -- better to appear scientific than holy [always a good ruse in modern times] -- has turned the evolution debate upside down. ID proponents quote Darwin, cite the Scopes Monkey trial, talk of 'scientific objectivity', then in the same breath declare that extraterrestrials might have designed life on Earth. It may seem counterintuitive, but the strategy is meticulously premeditated, and it's working as planned. The debate is back, and coming to a 10th grade biology class near you."
It should be pointed out -- en passante -- that contrary to Mr. Ratliff's suggestion of a "counterintuitive" argument, i.e. "that extraterrestrials might have designed life on Earth," there is the distinct possibility that the counterintuitive version is in fact the reality of the situation. Just keep in mind that by definition, angels are extraterrestrials. Of course, the extraterrestrial monicker might also refer to various rock stars and football fans. Sigh.
In any case, the ID strategy of teaching the controversy was apparently patterned after a 1991 book, Darwin on Trial , which dispensed with the biblical creation accounts and thereby united anti-evolutionarists under the single, secular-sounding banner of Intelligent Design. Written by a University of California law professor, the idea was to challenge the scientific materialism of mainstream science by driving the wedge of casting reasonable doubt on the theory of evolution.
For the SF gang, this constituted a serious threat. Being reasonable, logical, and wondering if there is just a bit more to the universe than mechanical devices -- both classical and quantum -- had all the potential for seriously threatening the all-important status quo of deadweight science. Accordingly the response by the old guard of scientific materialism was swift and multipronged.
For example, the bastion of old guard science, Scientific American magazine, weighed in with such novelties as its "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense." You may be able to guestimate the tenor of the arguments by the title. The fact that this article was fundamentally [pardon the pun] nonsense in itself does not exactly bode well for the counter-counter-revolutionaries. Intelligent Design just might have something to say.
Here's the problem... or the solution, depending upon your ability to have an open mind:
There's probably a little bit of both -- Creationism AND Evolution.
The theory of evolution is in fact a theory -- with all manner of more often than not unstated assumptions -- and "no amount of validation changes a theory into a law." Far more importantly, no amount of validation of a theory of evolution broadens or generalizes the specific terms of the theory to encompass far more than that to which it is entitled. In other words, a theory which has supporting evidence is not necessarily a good theory in cases where there is no supporting evidence, nor can a well established theory necessarily be generalized in the extreme cases. These latter points are oft times referred to as logical, rational thinking; and the theory of evolution must be bound by all such applicable scientific methods. Come to think of it, so must the theory of Creationism.
(6/15/05) Moreover, as noted by Michael D. Lemonick , "Evolutionary theory does have gaps, but so do relativity, quantum theory and the theory of plate tectonics. [a "teach the controversy advocate", John] West says those are different because scientists in these fields, unlike evolutionists, aren't afraid of intellectual debate."
Actually, scientists in every field have a strong tendency to fear debate when it involves radical departures from established theory. Relativity was throughly critized for its time paradox as "allowing someone to cheat death"; Quantum Theory was attacked in no uncertain terms by Albert Einstein ("God does not play dice"), and in the case of plate tectonics, Alfred Weggener, at his first presentation of his Continental Drift theory, was laughed off the stage. The debate over evolutionary theory, therefore, is nothing really new for the science community.
To give a gist of what a theory is all about, we might recall Mark Twain's reference to the fact that the Mississippi River was increasing in length several inches each year -- i.e. the silt was extending the Mississippi River delta further into the Gulf of Mexico. This is an accepted scientific fact -- as it was even in his era. Twain then reasoned by extrapolation that in the far future, the Mississippi River would wrap around the earth several times. At the same time, back in Permian times, the river might have been as wide as it is today, but only one inch long. Twain's point, of course, was to note the idiocy and sheer stupidity of extrapolations taken to extremes.
The same could be said of Evolution Theory -- and for that matter Creationism.
Consider an example of the former. Dog breeders in an effort to create minature, extraordinarily cute doggies of certain breeds, did some highly selective breeding. Not unexpectedly, however, some of the male dogs of this new breed were too short to have even a remote chance of impregnating a somewhat larger female. Motivation and enthusiasm for the impregnation process might have been in the little bugger's heart and soul, but his physical stature was simply not there. His "talent" simply could not be expected to go to the lengths essential for the process. [One suspects this may have been the problem in certain human relationships as well.]
Fortunately for the purveyors of true doggie love, the breeders came to the rescue and provided stools for the starwart but unfortunately short males. They also encouraged the females to be appropriately positioned in relation to the stool, and simultaneously not allow the object of the male's desires to wander off while their hopeful lover mounted the stool just prior to the more essential mounting. [Unfortunately, this is probably not a viable method for those certain human relationships.]
The key of course, is that the traditional theory of evolution is going to have one heck of a time explaining this dimunation of the species in terms of the "survival of the fittest" or some other such concoction. UNLESS, of course, the Evolutionary Theory allowed for a degree of evolution in the theory itself and included Intervention by an Intelligence; or II.
[We won't call such an addition "intelligent design" inasmuch as any and all interventions are not necessarily by design. There is also inadvertent interventions, accidental interventions, and stumbling in the dark interventions. We also won't call it Intelligent Intervention, in that there is a plethora of examples of intervention which are decidedly not intelligent, smart, or well considered.]
(6/15/05) There is also a possible implication raised by Evolutionary Theory, which has been described by Robert Wright . His thesis is the traditional good news/bad news scenario. "The good news:
we're born for fun. The bad news: it's not built to last."
Wright begins his essay with the question is "what is happiness for?" On the one hand, humans "so reliably pursue food and sex because eating and copulating release neurochemicals that make them feel happy." Wright then creates his own form of "missing link" and decides that "laws governing happiness were designed not for our psychological well-being but for out genes' long-term survival prospects." He then drops the bad news: "Happiness, though designed to materialize under lots of circumstances, is also designed to evaporate." "Among natural selection's mottoes is, 'Stay hungry.' That is, Don't stay happy." He even goes so far as to state, "the lure of happiness works best when we're under the illusion that the bliss will persist."
These depressing conclusions are a natural outgrowth of Evolutionary Theory, even if the arguments are somewhat lacking in rigorous logic. For example, "If happiness endured, our genes would do about as well as drug dealer would do if highs lasted forever. That's not a casual comparison. A drug's high wears of because it depends on neurochemistry that was designed to make reward fleeting." Designed?
While Mr. Wright might have been talking about an "evolutionary design", even that phrase leaves something to be desired. How does an evolutionary tendency turn into a design? Or was there some intelligence doing the designing? Mr. Wright would likely say no to the latter, in that he also notes, "For better or worse, humans seem to have been created by evolution, not aliens." And yet, how did our brains evolve some 80% of brain power that we do not use, or our DNA contain 80-90% of "junk DNA", i.e. that part of our genetic code which does not seem to have any purpose?
Evolutionary Theory is of course not the only side compounding nonsense with nonsense. At the same time, Creationists have been loath to admit to aspects where evolutionary theory seems readily apparent, to incorporate evolution as a process between spurts of intervention by an intelligence, and thus the Creationsists/ID proponents have done a good job of sabotaging their own efforts.
It seems readily apparent that what is needed is a Theory of Creative Evolution -- a theory which readily incorporates the evidence from Darwin and a century and a half of other scientists which show many aspects of Evolutionary Theory to be accurate, AND at the same time, which allows for Intervention by an Intelligence. Also critical to the new idea is the inclusion of catastrophism in addition to gradualism.
Castrophism verus Gradualism
One of Evolutionary Theory's major drawbacks has always been the tendency of timid and shy scientists to promulgate evolution as a very slow, gradual process extending over millions of years. There is certainly evidence which supports such a slow process, but there are also extreme examples of sudden, very rapid events adding to the complexities of life.
There are, for example, ancient mammoths which were found frozen in the tundra, but with fresh vegetation in their mouths -- vegetation from a climate unlike typical tundra climate, and parenthetically, looking not unlike the frozen veggies you left in the freezer for lo those many months. Furthermore, in an interesting twist the mammonth's meat was subsequently eaten by the local villagers who had happened upon the happy find -- and with no apparent ill effect. Clearly, something had happened rather abruptly -- an early case of Quick Frozen foods.
There is also the astounding Cambrian Explosion which generated new species, classes and phylum on a massive level -- a complexity of life never since surpassed in terms of diversity. [E.g. you can read about this diversity in more detail.] Then there is the Permian extinction which accounted for the loss of the vast majority of species, and on smaller scales, the Pliocene and Pleistocene extinctions. Very importantly, there is simply no way to know or even remotely prove the length of time over which these events took place -- explosions and/or extinctions. They might well have been in a Biblical day as easily as in ten million years.
Scientists and many others typically do not like catastrophism. The feeling is that if an extraordinary event could wipe out most of life on the earth really, really quickly in the past, then gee, fellas, it could potentially do the same thing next week! Comets could have fallen from the sky to wipe out the dinosaurs and like, but then logic suggests that comets could also take out the reigning species next week before you take that much needed vacation. Remember Shoemaker-Levy?
In that case, you might also want to recall the words from Ecclesiastes:
"Man hath no better thing... than to eat, and to drink and to be merry" in the time "God giveth him under the sun."
It is extremely importantly to realize that just as sudden radical events may have done in species in the past, there is also the possibility that in the same time frames new species may have arisen in something far shorter than a generation. Catastrophism could easily include sudden bursts of creativity -- as in the case of our young doggie stud being successful in his efforts, or in woman joining man on the main stage.
Evolutionary Theory has pretty much been hoisted by its own pitard when it attempted to deny sudden, radical events in the history of earth. And the Intelligent Design RFers have leaped into the breech, carrying their own head-in-the-sand baggage.
Curiously, modern mainstream scientists seem perfectly willing to admit to the potential for half the world's species of mammals to become extinct within a quarter of a century from today -- largely, it should be pointed out, as a result of human intervention. It is also assumed that such intervention is neither intelligent nor by design. Nevertheless the geological record is currently recording what might be called the Holocene Extinction. It might be noted, for example, that by 2026 at least 70% of the world's human population will be without an adequate water supply.  How do you suppose that those mammals substantially lower on the food chain will fare under those future conditions?
Even when there is clear evidence for massive extinctions (today's or yesterday's), there is always controversy as to what brought about the extinction. Maybe it was a comet in a glancing blow of the earth. [See also, the Epic of Creation.] Or maybe it was radical (and potentially sudden) variations in the sun's radiation . But human ingenuity, aka intervention by an (alleged) intelligence, can mimic much of nature's catastrophic nature -- even if on a much different time scale. On the flip side, modern science can create custom made critters from scratch . Quickly.
In a nut shell, Intervention by an Intelligence is a well proven concept. The idea of such interventions all being by Intelligent Design is far less likely -- although it does not rule out ID in special cases.
Keep in mind that "Intelligent Design" assumes -- by its very title -- two distinct points: that the new design was a good or smart one, and that it was all part of a plan. Such assumptions can not be supported by the evidence, although there is always the possibility that a specific Intervention by an Intelligence was both intelligent (smart) and thoroughly planned by in advance.
It is, of course, one thing to talk about birds, critters, worms, scum, Republicans, and the like and the intricate details of how they evolved. Such subjects are easy in that there is nothing personal here, and very few people develop connections or bonding with worms, bacteria, Republicans, and so forth -- such as they might do with Dogs, Cats, and other Deities.
On the other hand, It is quite another matter to talk about the evolution of modern human beings. Ah yes. That part can become quite personal!
The Evolution/Creation of Mankind
John Rennie, in his intemperate refutation of Creationism and Intelligent Design , states:
"If superintelligent aliens appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt. But no one has yet produced such evidence." [emphasis added]
Rennie then proceeds to claim that evidence exists for the succession of hominid creatures with features progressing step wise from apes and the Homo erectus species to "the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago)." To buttress his argument, he includes photos of skulls from A. Afarensis, A. Africanus, Early Homo, H. Erectus, and H. Sapiens. Unfortunately, for purposes of the argument, the photographic distinction between H. Sapiens and the alleged family tree is huge! The absolutely ludicrous nature of Rennie's argument is as plain as the nose bone on the face. When it comes to strictly evolutionary path for the human species, there is still a missing link between the most recent innovations: Homo erectus and Homo sapiens -- the latter the precursor to modern humans.
Evolutionary Theory (we will avoid the temptation to abbreviate it as "ET" -- for what is hopefully obvious reasons), for example, includes humanoid skeletons of Homo erectus from as long ago as 1.5 million years -- Nariokotome and Olduvai Gorge -- to as recent as 53,000 to 27,000 years ago -- Ngandong -- and Homo sapiens as early as 195,000 years ago -- Omo Kibish . It is noteworthy that both species were apparently sharing the planet for at least 150,000 years. This would suggest that any derivation of Homo sapiens from selected branches of the Homo erectus family tree was not a natural inevitability of the Homo erectus species, but instead a possibly special case. This, folks, is the raw material for any theory of Intervention by an Intelligence.
Accordingly, we have some good news and some bad news. The evidence is already extant which shows that Homo erectus was an ancestor of mankind, but only after Intervention by an Intelligence added some very notable brain power to the mix! Instead of a slow evolution from knuckle draqgging to think tanks, there is the quantum leap from savanna roaming to Hummers driving through Safari Parks. In this scenario, the "missing link" becomes irrelevant, in that an intervention by an intelligence has eliminated the very concept, and leapfrogged the process of evolution.
This may sound vaguely familiar to the arguments of Intelligent Design. But alas, it's not. Intelligent Design includes the unstated argument that such intervention even in an evolutionary environment was likely that of a creator God coming down from on high and creating from the earth itself a couple of human beings. Instead, what is being suggested here is that extraterrestrials -- mortal, often dysfunctional, and often intent solely upon their own designs -- came to earth and at one point decided they needed a slave race to do their bidding. They then combined the DNA of selected members of Homo erectus with their own DNA, and thereby via genetic manipulation created half-breeds as the root stock of mankind. [There is also the possibility that Homo neanderthalensis was also created in a somewhat less successful set of experiments.]
In the Sumerian annals there is a detailed description of precisely how the simply more intelligent extraterrestrials, the Anunnaki, created Homo sapiens (modern man) by combining the DNA of the extraterrestrials with that of Homo erectus. The description even goes into considerable description of the process -- enough description in fact to suggest that the Anunnaki scientists (Enki and Ninki) knew what they were doing. The mom and pop of modern man were simply responding to the need for slave labor, but apparently ended up having a real affection for their little half-breeds. [Unlike Enlil's decidedly negative reaction to the new kids on the block!]
The end result is that Creative Evolution includes both evolutionary tendencies and the potential for multiple occasions of interventions by an intelligence (smart, by design, or the contraries) of each and every species on the planet. In other words, the I's have it!
The big question, meanwhile, is whatever happened to mom and dad (i.e. Enki and Ninki). Do we all perhaps have some abandonment issues?
(1/29/11) BTW, the subject of Evolution and Creationism is further explored in Laurence Gardner's new book, The Origin of God. While Gardner's book might be a bit more controversial... i.e., it's going to really, really upset some people with very structured (aka fossilized) views... the extremely well researched "Origin of God" is nonetheless fascinating in that the evidence is becoming incontestable that there was an "Intelligence" influencing the evolution of mankind (and ostensibly by "Design") and, in particular, creating modern mankind's societies beginning in Sumerian times some 6,000 years ago. One cannot recommend Gardner's book more highly.
 John Rennie, "15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense," Scientific American, July 2002.
 Evan Ratliff, "The Crusade Against Evolution", Wired, October 2004.
 Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial, 1991.
 Mike Morwood, Thomas Sutikna, Richard Roberts, "Flores Find", National Geographic, April 2005.
 Michael D. Lemonick, "Stealth Attack on Evolution", Time Magazine, January 31, 2005.
 Robert Wright, "Dancing to Evolution's Tune", Time Magazine, January 17, 2005.
Under Evolution and/or Intervention
Science and Religion Arthur Young Objectivity Causality
Or forward to:
Law of Thermodynamics Entropy
The Nine Supremes Annals of Earth Epic of Creation