Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith
Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation
I. W. Knobloch, Ph.D.
Some Recent Points of View on Certain Aspects of Evolution
JASA Vol. 12 (March 1960): 23-24.
Mutations-"it was formerly held that conspicuous mutants or sports were important in evolution but few people still hold this view. If one calls a polyploid (an organism in which the chromosome number has been doubled or more-this frequently looks quite different from the parent or parents) a mutant, then this phenomenon is an exception to the prevailing opinion. The modern point of view is that species arise by small additions much as Darwin envisioned the matter."
The incompleteness of the fossil record-"the remains of most of the species which have existed, have never been preserved" (consider the difficulty of preserving the soft-bodied animals and plants). "The fact that an animal stops appearing in the fossil record is no proof that it does not continue to exist" (paleontologists and paleobotanists date the rise and fall of organisms by the presence or absence in the rocks. "A case in point is the coelacanth. This fish appeared 270 million years ago and disappeared about 60 millions of years ago. It had, apparently. become extinct. However, this same species is being taken occasionally off the coast of Africa today" (in this case, the fossil record was not very trustworthy and continuing the reasoning, may not birds and mammals haye existed in the Cambrian hut left no remains?)
Complex inter-dependence as a stumbling block-Maculinea arion (L.),
the European large blue butterfly. lays her eggs on the flower heads of wild
thyme; the young larvae feed on these for a few weeks. On the 7th abdominal
segment is a small gland which if stimulated, produces a drop of sweet fluid.
Ants milk the larvae for this juice. In about 3 weeks, the larvae begin to move
about on the ground and if an ant milks it repeatedly, the larvae expands its
body behind the head and in front of the gland. The ant seizes the expanded
portion and drags the larvae into its nesting area. Here the larvae feed on the
young of the ant. After hibernation, the larvae starts feeding in the spring. it
then pupates and, in about 3 weeks, emerges as a butterfly. An even more
remarkable example is the brown Argus, Aricia agestis (Schiff.) which
cannot live at all without the ant because the ants are necessary to clean out a
fungus which grows in the sweet fluid of the gland" (there are many such
instances in the literature which are difficult to explain by evolution but I am
going to take the position here that change is characteristic of Life and that
someday we may be able to explain such phenomena by the action of mechanisms not
known with an." large degree of certainty today. It seems just as Scientific to
deny the existence of changing species as it is to insist that organic
evolution, from simple to complex, has been proven)
The above three examples Were taken from "Natural Selection and Heredity" by P.M. Sheppard, London, 1958. The comments of the writer of this column are in parentheses.
The Pugwash Continuing Committee
In a conference was held in Austria from September 14-20. 195;8 on the effects of war on mankind, Scientists from many countries, including those behind the Iron Curtain. attended and the Vienna Declaration resulted. Those who are interested, may learn more about this by writing Dr. Rabinowitch, Box. 61,5734 University. Chicago, 37, Illinois. A few sentences from the Declaration might show the nature of the document -
"the development of nuclear weapons makes it possible for man to destroy
"a full-scale nuclear war would be a world-wide catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude"
"defense against nuclear attack is very difficult"
"although the nations may agree to eliminate nuclear weapons·-the knowledge of how to produce such weapons can never be destroyed"
"If, in a future war, a substantial proportion of the nuclear weapons already manufactured were delivered against urban targets, most centers of civilization in the
belligerent countries would be totally destroyed, and most of their populations killed".
New Ideas on Plant Evolution
In a recent article by K.R. Sporne (On the phylogenetic classification of plants-Amer. J. Bot. 46: 385-394, 1959) some very frank admissions are made concerning plant evolution. This article is recommended for those interested in this subject. Dr. Sporne does not decry evolution but he points out the fallacious reasoning used by strong advocates of the theory.
Algae are classified on the basis of their pigments and, of course, these are lacking in fossil forms. Furthermore only lime or silica-secreting species were presented and nothing can be known of the other species which existed at that time. Algae may have changed hut not evolved since the early algae were not simpler than present day forms. In regard to the fungi, the phycomycetes seem to antedate the other two groups. The Bryophytes are found in the Carboniferous and they furnish few clues to evolution since liverworts of that time can be matched with living Jungermanniales. Ferns and fern allies are well-represented in the rocks. T f the discovery of Aldanoph1yton, a lycopod from the Cambrian of eastern Siberia in 1953 by Kristofowitch can stand scrutiny. the ancestry of these plants goes back almost to the beginning of fossil time. We would certainly have to stop deriving ferns from the mosses as the earlier evolutionists insisted.
As the above few notes may indicate, the article is very provocative and well-worth reading by those with some background.
Several Interesting Admissions
"The all-too-frequent picture of evolution as a progression from ameba to man, is, and always has been, utterly without foundation". This can be found on page 655 of The Science of Biology by Paul B. Weitz, McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1959. I had always thought that organic evolution implied that there had been such a progression from simple things to complex things. It has taken an evolutionist of the stature of Dr. Weisz to straighten me out on this matter. Incidentally, his statement is more or less contradicted by his chart on page 67; which shows everything starting from "virislike types".
"Classification of animals to this day practically always begins with Protozoa and ends with Vertebrata (which in turn begins with cyclostomes and ends with mammals). Some taxonomists vehemently deny that this is a sequence from lower to higher (although students are usually told that it is)." George Gaylord Simpson says this in an article dealing with anatomy and morphology, Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 103(2): pp. 296. Incidentally this volume number is given over entirely to modern views on evolution and celebrates the anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species.