Science in Christian Perspective

Video Review

The Deep Waters of Evolution

Produced by: Media Production Amigos Ltd., Finland, 1996, 20 min.

Pattle Pun*

 Department of Biology

 Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187

From: PSCF 49 (March 1997): 52-53.                                    Another view: Miller

This video criticizes four aspects of Darwinian evolution:

1. The paradigm or world view of evolution:

As summarized succinctly by Matti Leisola, Dr. of Technology and Biochemistry and senior lecturer at the Helsinki University of Technology, evolution is an overarching world view that explains the origin, meaning, and goal of human life. Ever since Thomas Kuhn first proposed the concept of paradigmatic shifts in 1962, the philosophical underpinning of the discussion on evolution has become apparent to most philosophers and some scientists.

Darwin had changed his world view before he promulgated the evolutionary origins of man. The dominant naturalistic world view among evolutionary scientists is also largely responsible for the blind faith and restricted interpretation, that given more time, all of the enigmatic data will be accommodated by new findings that can be explained by the evolutionary paradigm. This bias against any alternative explanation is at the root of the evolutionary debate. A challenge to such a world view will go beyond scientific objectivity, as exemplified by hostile reactions against scholars who do not conform to the dominant world view. The video gives examples of possible discrimination in scientific careers, academic freedom, and even personal and property safety.

2. The improbability and lack of mechanism of the abiogenesis of the first cell.

Dean Kenyon, Professor of Biology at San Francisco State University, wrote a book entitled Biochemical Predestination which promulgated the evolutionary origins of life before he changed his world view. Now he believes that the biochemical evidence for abiogenesis of the first cell is meager and abiogenesis is thermodynamically improbable. Siegfried Scherer, Professor of Microbiology at Munich University of Technology, also points out that the backbone of the evolution paradigm, natural selection, cannot be applied to a nonliving system. Since empirical data always documents that life comes from pre-existing life, the abiogenesis of the first cell will always remain a philosophical conjecture that cannot be verified empirically.

3. The limit of microevolutionary processes in generating biological diversity.

Siegfried Scherer concludes from his empirical studies on bacterial mutation and evolution that the concept in speciation that mutations are selected by changes in the environment has limitations. Transpecific evolution requires many beneficial mutations favorably selected by the appropriate environmental factors to build up complexities in genotypes and phenotypes. As he succinctly states, "the more mutations that have to happen at the same time, the lower the probability that such an event occurs." There are also other molecular patterns among organisms that distinguish them as separate and independent lineages.

4. The lack of intermediate fossils amongst major groups of organisms.

Lastly, the video points out the fact that the gaps existing in Darwin's time in the fossil record remain largely intact after more that 100 years of paleontological studies and despite countless researchers' intensive efforts to fill them. The only so called transitional form between birds and reptiles, Archaeopteryx, has been largely discounted because it exhibited mature features of birds and reptiles and it was contemporaneous with other mature birds. Other fossil finds such as Protoavis ("first bird") which lived 75 million years before Archaeopteryx also lend credence to this interpretation. The monophyletic evolutionary tree linking all extant organisms to a common ancestor is more an imagination than a paleontologically demonstrated fact.

Based on these criticisms, the video concludes that evolution is indeed in "Deep Waters." More and more, open-minded scholars are questioning the interpretation of the available scientific data. I believe the video did a credible job of presenting the major arguments against the evolutionary paradigm. For any ASAers that are not willing to totally adopt the naturalistic world view in the evolutionary paradigm, the video should be a good introduction to deeper discussion on science and faith. Even for those who adopt methodological naturalism in this discussion, the video also presents strong arguments using empirical data. I highly recommend this video for ASA circulation and promotion.