I am not a fan of either/or options. Often times when we are given two options to choose from we are mislead into thinking those are the only two options and that one of them contains the totality of known truth on that particular subject. Though often this is not the case, sometimes it is. One of the few areas in which I believe this is the case is the debate between macroevolution and microevolution as the explanation for the similarity and diversity we find within all of life. In short, this is an option between either Darwinian evolution (DE) by random chance purposeless natural selection or the creation of all living things by God through the initial creation of kind and the subsequent creation of the diversity within kind through microevolution. If macroevolution is the mechanism by which all living things came into existence then the Bible’s account of creation is not and vice versa. It is a truly either/or situation.
Following a long line of books seeking to refute the claims of DE is a new books by Dr. John F. Ashton, Evolution Impossible: 12 Reasons Why Evolution Cannot Explain the Origin of Life on Earth. Dr. Ashton is a proponent of creation science and written several books on the subject with Master Books. Ashton is an adjunct professor of biomedical and applied sciences in Melbourne, Australia. Evolution Impossible follows two of Ashton’s previous works, In Six Days: 50 Scientists explain Why They Believe in Creation and On the Seventh Day: 40 Scientists and Academics explain Why They Believe in God, and seeks to summarize their content.
Evolution Impossible is a book defending creationism and the belief in creation in 6 literal 24 hr. days and a worldwide flood. It does this primarily by refuting the claims of DE that (1) life began through the process known as abiogenesis (life coming from non-life) and (2) that, once started, all of the diversity of life we see came about by macroevolution over the course of millions and billions of years. The basic assumption of macroevolution is that everything originated from a single celled organism and evolved over vast amounts of time to the present. So, Ashton seeks to defend his position primarily by showing how DE is not a valid theory to explain the existence and diversity of life. In a way, Ashton is making the case that the burden of proof is on the side of DE proponents because their theory is indefensible and not as assuredly assumed as they would like to think.
Dr. Ashton accomplishes this task by addressing twelve lines of support DE proponents give in defense of their theory, only a few of which I will touch on.
Abiogenesis and Natural Selection
One of the most audacious claim of DE supporters is that an original living cell, from which all of life evolved from, originated by chance. This is behind the teem aboigenesis which is the belief that life comes from non-life. What is perhaps worse is that, though there is no substantial or defensible proof for this, this theory is purported to be a scientific fact that is propagated in all science text books. What Ashton does first is show that based on all that we know about both the structure/makeup and formation/development of life as we observe it this is indefensible. Ashton states
If it can be shown that it is absolutely impossible for a living organism to arise by natural processes from nonliving matter, then the theory of evolution would be without foundation and unable to provide the complete mechanical-naturalistic explanation of how we came to be here. (p. 37).
After a short discussion on how cells form and how many would have to form in the right pattern (among other things) Ashton concludes that
For the first life to start from nonliving matter, thousands of specialized large complex molecules must somehow be synthesized in very large numbers from simple small inorganic molecules. These molecules then have to come together randomly over and over again until somehow the structure of the cell is formed. This remarkable and complex structure would still, however, not be alive. To become alive, hundreds of metabolic reactions wold have to be initiated, with the metabolic intermediaries already in place at just the right concentrations so that the reactions went the right way. (p. 43)
One does not have to be a scientist to realize that DE is asking for more than life itself can give. There is so much required, that is not present, in order for DE to be possible that it is highly statistically impossible.
But the improbability of DE’s case is further seen when we move from the beginning of life to the continuation and development or the diversity of life. Here we run into the belief that all of the diversity of life that we see came about by the process of natural selection. In this discussion Ashton overviews the three types of evolution:
- Type 1 Evolution – This “involves no new additional genetic information being formed. It commonly involves the loss of preexisting genetic information that results in changes to the inherited genetic code in the offspring, making it different from the parent” (p. 51) Here we have changes within the same kind of organism and thus the loss of the genetic information does not produce a new kind of organism but rather a variation of the same kind of organism.
- Type 2 Evolution – This “involves the transfer of new genetic information from one organism into another organism. That is, additional new genetic information enters the DNA of an organism via, for example, virus-like proteins or by plasmids that can carry specific genes.” (p. 55) This is not the creation of a new organism but rather the transfer of genetic information from one to another thus creating a new strain – not type.
- Type 3 Evolution – This would require “the generation of totally new useful genetic information within the DNA code of an organism by some supposed process in nature, which results in a completely new function that has never occurred before.” (p. 56) This is the creation of completely new organisms from previously existing organisms of a different kind.
Ashton rightly points out that the examples used in text books to to prove type 3 evolution are actually examples of type 1 evolution. This fits with the fact that we do observe type 1 evolution and have never observed type 3. Further, type 3 evolution has never been observed by anyone neither is it probable for it to occur and develop all of life within the 4 billion years of supposed evolutionary time (p. 60).
Within the DE theory of millions of years is a connection between macroevolution and the fossil record. Over the course of several chapters Ashton discusses various theories and assumptions held by DE proponents such as uniformitarianism and the geological time scale (see also pgs. 136-37). Ashton thoroughly discusses the contents of sedimentary rocks and how they are formed by “the action of water.” (p. 67) One of the key points Ashton brings out time and time again is how sedimentary rocks are formed by water – massive amounts of it. With this in mind, there are four basic lines of evidence concerning the fossil record:
- Virtually all of the fossils used by DE supporters to support macroevolution are found in sedimentary rocks. These are fossils that “are mainly found in rocks formed under water.” (p. 73
- These sedimentary rocks are found all over the world.
- In order for this fossilization to occur, the plants and animals contained in the sedimentary rocks “had to be buried rapidly so that they would not rot or decay, or be eaten or break up under weatherizing conditions.” (p. 73)
- The fossil record clearly shows that there were a large number of plants and animals that existed in the past which no longer exist today. It is agreed on by both sides of the issue that 98-99 percent of all animals that have ever existed are now extinct. Thus, the fossil record is a record of extinction of preexisting lifeforms rather than transition from one to another.
One contemporary example of rapid and massive sedimentary rock formation is Mt. St. Helen’s. After her eruption in May of 1980 massive amounts of strata formed in just a few hours. This would normally be interpreted by DE as having happened over thousands of years. In order for the worldwide and massive amounts of fossils we see today to have occurred there had to be a universal event requiring water. Contrary to the claims of DE of all the fossil beds taking millions of years to develop, the fossil record (based on how we know sedimentary rocks form) could only have been laid down several thousand years ago.
Following discussion of the requirements for the formation of sedimentary rocks, Ashton discusses the absence of transitional fossils, pointing out that what we see is immediate presence of multi-cell organisms in the fossil record along side single-cell organisms. Even the late Stephen J. Gould admitted that the fossil record contains no transitional fossils (p. 94). Further, there is the reality that DNA and intact protein sequences contained in a fossil only last so long and would not be detectable millions of years later (p. 131).
While I have not read all of the books out there testing the claims of DE, I think Evolution Impossible is the best one I have read yet. Ashton is clear and concise. He is heavily footnoted and deals with the issues head on. Ashton lets the scientific evidence speak for itself. What becomes clear is that proponents of DE have an agenda to remove God from the picture. They need millions of years of life forming in order to do this.
Evolution Impossible is a book every Christian should read. It would make a great learning tool for school and can be the catalyst for further learning in the areas discussed. Ashton provides a good overview of the historical development of DE for readers to gain a better grasp of how it began. Contrary to the belief in God creating all things in six 24 hr days and a worldwide flood as being unscientific and a stopper for scientific inquiry, Ashton shows that it is very scientifically credible and respectable and is in fact the natural and reasonable belief to hold based on the evidence.
NOTE: I received this book for free from Master Books in return for an honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.