On Monday, PragerU released a video giving two solid scientific reasons to doubt the Darwinian theory of evolution. In the video, Stephen C. Meyer, who earned a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science and who serves as a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, lays out two key flaws in the evolutionary theory that is often taught as gospel truth in may high schools and colleges.
Meyer begins the video by quoting evolutionary biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins, who claimed that anyone who does not believe in evolution is either “ignorant, stupid, or insane.” By that criteria, many in the scientific community are losing their sanity…
“In November 2016, I attended a conference in London attended by some of the world’s leading evolutionary biologists. The purpose? To address growing doubts about the modern version of Darwin’s theory,” Meyer recalls in the video. These scientists do not reject the general idea of evolution, but they admit that the current theory based on Darwin is falling apart.
To demonstrate why this is, the Discovery Institute scholar lays out two reasons to doubt evolution.
First, he points to the Cambrian Explosion: “The sudden appearance of new animals which evolutionary theory has failed to explain.” Roughly 530 million years ago, new animal forms emerged in the fossil record without evidence of earlier ancestors.
Meyer quotes Eugene Koonin of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, who described “the abrupt appearance of the Cambrian animals and other organisms, such as dinosaurs, birds, flowering plants, and mammals, as a pattern of biological Big Bangs.” New forms of life suddenly appeared essentially out of nowhere — and evolutionary theory cannot explain why.
This brings up an even bigger problem for evolutionary theory, what Meyer calls “the DNA enigma.” DNA is too complicated for the process of natural selection and random mutation to account for the emergence of new kinds of life.
“The DNA molecule stores information as a four-character digital code,” the video explains. “Strings of precisely-sequenced chemicals store the instructions, the information for building the crucial proteins that cells need to survive. Unless the chemical letters in the DNA text are sequenced properly, a protein molecule will not form. No proteins, no cells. No cells, no living organisms.”
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has compared DNA to a software program. “For computers to run faster and perform more functions, they require new code. Well, the same is true for life,” Meyer explains. If life is to become more complex, it must develop new genetic information.
According to Darwinian evolution, life evolves through mutation and natural selection. Random mutations introduce variations, and nature weeds out the unhelpful variations, allowing the individuals with good variations to survive and thrive.
“No one doubts that natural selection is a real process and that it produces minor variations, but many biologists now doubt that it produces major innovations in biological form,” Meyer explains. “What happens if you introduce a few random changes into computer code? You’ll likely mess it up, right?”
“In all codes and languages, there are vastly more ways of arranging characters that will generate gibberish than there are arrangements that will generate meaningful sequences,” the Discovery Institute scholar explains. “Natural selection only selects sequences that random mutations generate.”
Trusting random mutations to create new forms of life is like trusting that a bunch of random changes to computer code will generate an exiting new computer program — it’s extremely implausible.
It is also mathematically unlikely to an absurd degree. DNA sequences capable of making stable proteins are extremely rare — so rare, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it.
“Molecular biologist Douglas Axe showed that for every DNA sequence that generates a relatively short functional protein, there are ten to the seventy-seventh power non-functional sequences,” Meyer explains. To put that in perspective, he nots that “there are only ten to the sixty-fifth power atoms in our galaxy.”
“So finding a new DNA sequence capable of building a new functional protein is like searching blindfolded for a single marked atom among a trillion Milky Way galaxies,” he explains.
In other words, random mutations just won’t cut it.
Meyer is a leading figure in the Intelligent Design movement, which claims that life is too complex to have emerged and evolved without the intervention of an intelligent designer. Many have unjustly dismissed this scientific movement as pseudoscience, claiming that it is a smokescreen to introduce God into science. Yet Intelligent Design does not seek to identify the designer, only to demonstrate that a designer is necessary to explain life’s complexity. As this video shows, they have extremely powerful arguments.
For many Americans, the theory of evolution is intrinsically linked to the ideology of scientism — the quasi-religious belief that science will explain everything and therefore all religion should be rejected as benighted and superstitious. Scientism is not a scientific theory, but a set of assumptions many bring to the scientific enterprise. Science cannot prove the existence or non-existence of God, and religion is independent of the discoveries of science.
Many Christians reject evolution because they see it as the tool of scientism. Evolution as a scientific theory is not a threat to the Christian faith, but scientism is. Even so, evolution still has problems as a scientific theory, as Meyer explains very well.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.