Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nothing...Makes Sense...

Around midpoint of the last century, bio-scientists increasingly began to talk about evolution unifying every dimension of life science. In 1958, evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith wrote “The main unifying idea in biology is Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection.” Theodosius Dobzhansky first introduced a similar statement in 1964 in an article in American Zoologist, and later resurrected it as the title of a 1973 article in the American Biology Teacher. He stated “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” This statement has become a self-affirming mantra of committed evolutionists. Its value as an expression of philosophical worldview surpasses its truth value. Similar sentiments are now common in biology textbooks.

It is unusual to research any field of bio-science without encountering frequent invocation of the term evolution. For instance, while investigating the metamorphosis and migration of the monarch butterfly, I encountered frequent references to the evolution of four stage insect metamorphosis. Whether one reads popular life science articles written for the layman, or the scholarly writings scientists produce for their peers, it is not unusual for many topics to be framed in evolutionary terms. It is also a practice of authors in social or behavioral science.

The 1950s and 1960s were days of heady discussion and transition from old style Darwinist evolutionary biologists who emphasized the organism, to a different set of scientists who stressed discoveries at the molecular level. There were groups of scientists who felt more comfortable in one camp or the other. What developed has become known as the “modern evolutionary synthesis,” or “Neo-Darwinism.” All disciplines in biology were eventually united under evolution’s banner. The view that evolution explains everything is promoted relentlessly.

When lawyers battle in courtrooms over guilt or innocence, they interpret almost every shred of evidence to favor their client. But establishing legal innocence does not always equate with establishing truth. So it is with the verdict on evolution. In the courtroom of the classroom and culture where evolution is tried, we must be committed to finding truth, not merely claiming victory for a philosophical belief system. Evidence for evolution is ambiguous, incomplete, and circumstantial. Sudden creation events along the timeline of earth’s history, including the special creation of man, seem entirely plausible and rational. “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” seems to be an over-reach designed to sway the jury unfairly.