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About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V



     

Part I: The Preparation of the Earth For Man

Chapter 7

Natural or Supernatural Selection

     THUS FAR we have seen how the earth was prepared for life and how free living organisms were introduced as soon as the setting was properly conditioned to support them. And we have also reviewed the evidence that throughout the earth's subsequent history there have evidently been innumerable occasions when creative activity was witnessed by the sudden appearance without antecedents of forms of plant and animal life precisely adapted to thrive in a world at that particular stage of preparedness.
     We can already discern at certain periods a grand logic in the order of events. Animals could not live on land without an atmosphere containing free oxygen and plant food. Because all animal energy is derived from the oxidation of foodstuffs in the animal body, both plant life and a respirable atmosphere were essential. Most plants need soil, especially plants which are to serve as animal fodder. To create this soil, specialized plant forms were designed that do not need soil to live in, and the decay of these slowly formed the soil for those plants which would serve as food. At the same time, all plant life began the process of preparing the atmosphere by ridding it of most of the carbon dioxide (all but .04 percent of it) and returning unwanted oxygen to it in a free form while converting the carbon into forms having usable energy.
     All this we have already considered briefly. And then began the parade of animal life which was to culminate in man. These successive forms themselves contributed to the preparation and conditioning of the final environment, which such a creature as man would require. As the process of conditioning neared its completion, more and more man-like forms were introduced as part of the web of life and as witnesses to the imminent appearance of man. Such creatures were not man's ancestors, but man's heralds. They indicated that the conditions of life -- of food, of atmosphere, of climate, and so

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forth -- were virtually established to constitute the earth a fit habitation for the crown of creation.
     Centuries ago Gregory of Nyssa,
(86) long before man had any idea, except from Genesis, of the nature of geological history, penned these words with remarkable foresight:

     It was not proper that the chief should make his appearance before his subjects. The king should logically be revealed only after his kingdom had been made ready for him, when the Creator of the universe had, so to speak, prepared a throne for him who was to rule. . . .

     Then God caused man to appear in the world both to contemplate the marvels of the universe and to be its master. Man was last to be created, not that he should therefore be contemptuously relegated to the last place, but because from his birth it was fitting that he should be king of his domain.
     As I see it, the gradual change from an environment such as one sees in reconstructions of early geological times into the kind of environment one now observes in travel literature, was brought about by a combination of natural and supernatural events. The Evolutionary Base Line, which we have already considered very briefly, may represent not so much a great unbroken "chain of being" (to use Arthur O. Lovejoy's phrase), with discontinuities or sudden jumps, but rather it may give us an approximate sequence of how the ages were characterized with respect to plant and animal life while God was introducing, successively, entirely new forms of life by direct creative activity, in each case only when the total ecology was fully prepared to accommodate them.
     There were times when there seemed to have been unusual bursts of creative activity, and times of what seem like phases of global destruction. Throughout the process, the total environment seems to have been altered progressively and providentially, making many forms obsolete but clearing the way for the introduction of other and higher forms, which sometimes resulted in almost a different world. Now and then, the temporal order of events seems to throw the purposefulness of the process into sharp focus. We know this with reasonable certainty, for instance, in the period which immediately preceded the coming of man. Hugh Miller wrote on this with characteristic eloquence:
(87)

     Not until we enter on the Tertiary period do we find floras, amid which man might have profitably laboured as a dresser of gardens, a tiller of fields, or a keeper of flocks and herds. Nay, there are whole orders and families of plants of the very first importance to man which do not appear till late even in the

86. Gregory of Nyssa: quoted by Charles Hauret, Beginnings: Genesis and Modern Science, Priory Press, Dubuque, Iowa, 1964, p.53.
87. Miller, Hugh, The Testimony of the Rocks, Nimmo, Edinburgh, 1874, p.45.

     pg.2 of 17     

Tertiary. Some degree of doubt must always attach to merely negative evidence, but Agassiz, a geologist whose statements must be received with respect, finds reason to conclude that the order of rosaceae ‹ an order more important to the gardener than almost any other, and to which the apple, pear, quince, cherry, plum, peach, apricot, victorine, almond, raspberry, strawberry, and various brambleberries belong, together with all the roses and the potentillas ‹ was introduced only a short time previous to the appearance of Adam. While the true grasses ‹ a still more important order which, as the cereals of the agriculturalist, feed at the present time at least two-thirds of the human species, and in their humbler varieties form the staple food of the grazing animals ‹ scarce appear in the fossil state at all; they are peculiarly plants of the human period.

     My understanding is that late Tertiary also saw the first appearance of such flora as the willow, myrtle, anemone, plum tree, magnolia, holly, rhododendron, azalea, and many other plants bearing fragrant flowers.
     There is no doubt in my mind, though I realize that this is a somewhat subjective point, that at the same time He was preparing the plant world for man, God was also taking delight in introducing animals of special significance to him, not only as sources of motive power or for food but in other ways ‹ as objects of companionship and for the enjoyment of their beauty and grace in their natural habitat. In the earlier stages of the preparatory process, animals seem to have been very largely without beauty by human standards, even ugly in fact, as though such things were not of any consequence at that time. The fact that ugly or ungainly creatures (like the crocodile, for example) are still with us in small numbers suggests that we should not make the mistake of supposing that the beauty of an animal, in man's eyes, contributes in any way to its survival, and it is reasonable for the Christian therefore, to view it as an expression of God's concern for man's pleasure ‹ even as the fragrance of flowers seems to be.
     We must suppose that God simply acted creatively in the most absolute sense, to introduce throughout this immensely long period of preparation those new forms of life which the fossil record tells us unequivocally came suddenly upon the scene without antecedents. But I do not think we need to assume that their explosive development into a multitude of variant forms thereafter was the result of a similar creative activity. I suggest that this proliferation occurred for reasons we can understand in terms of natural processes still manifestly at work in a natural order which no longer calls for such divine interferences. There is a principle widely recognized and experimentally verifiable that when a small population of animals is isolated or introduced into a new environment, its capabilities of variation are

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realized to the maximum extent as a direct consequence of inbreeding. The genetic reasons for this need not concern us here, but it is an important fact because this, in effect, is what would be the situation for every new animal or plant form introduced into the world by direct creation. Such a situation would lead as a natural consequence to what Ralph Goldschmidt termed "explosive diversification." (88)
     This phenomenon has been observed for both plants and animals. Years ago Sir William Dawson, referring specifically to post Pliocene molluscs and other fossils, observed that "new species tend rapidly to vary to the utmost extent of their possible limits and then to remain stationary for an indefinite time."
(89) The circumstance was noted in connection with insect populations by Charles Brues, who adds that "the variability of forms is slight once the population is large, but at first is rapid and extensive in the case of many insects for which we have the requisite data." (90) Adolph Schultz confirmed it for primate populations, (91) and Mayr for birds. (92) Ralph Linton noted it in connection with man also, (93) and Lebzelter elaborated this into an interesting key to early human history by saying, "Where man lives in large conglomerations, physical form tends to be stable while culture becomes specialized; where he lives in small isolated groups, culture is stable but specialized races evolved." (94) The point is an important one for early human history, because fewness of numbers did indeed lead to an extraordinary variability in type as seen in early fossil remains but a remarkable uniformity in pattern as seen in early cultural remains.
     Thus, the introduction of a newly created type, of which only a few would presumably be brought into existence, would result in close inbreeding at first and a consequent explosive diversification. Thereafter, it is quite possible that something akin to Natural Selection may have sorted out these diversified forms into appropriate habitats. Natural Selection is not creative; it is strictly selective. But it could serve as a sorting out mechanism.

88. Goldschmidt, Ralph, "Evolution as Viewed by One Geneticist", American Scientist, vol.40, 1952, p.97.
89. Dawson, Sir William, The Story of Earth and Man, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1903, p.360.
90. Brues, Charles, "Contribution of Entomology to Theoretical Biology," Scientific Monthly, February, 1947, p.130.
91. Schultz, Adolph, "The Origin and Evolution of Man," Coldspring Harbor Symposia on Quantitative Biology, No.15, 1950, p.50.
92. Mayr, Ernst, Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, Wistar Institute, No.5, 1967, p.47.
93. Linton, Ralph, The Study of Man, Appleton-Century, New York, 1936, pp.26f.
94. Lebzelter, V.: quoted by W. Koppers, Primitive Man and His World Picture, Sheed & Ward, London, 1952, p.219.

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     The potential for variation would allow newly introduced forms to spread rapidly, and successfully fill niches in the total ecology, thus modifying the environment and opening the way for the introduction of even further created forms. At the same time, God may have modified the environment by changing temperature, climate, altitude, or any of the other components, simply by acting upon the physical aspects of the world. These two counter-balancing forces, the physical and the biological, under the guiding hand of the Creator would be quite capable of bringing about a slow change, always in the same direction, toward living forms of greater independence, and toward man. Speaking as an evolutionist, Wood Jones says, "Indeed, it seems hardly too much to say that evolution is ultimately no more than the adaptation of organisms to environment." (95) If Jones had said change instead of evolution, I think he would have been nearer to the truth. And to make his observation even more complete, it would only be necessary to add ". . . and the environment responds in turn to the animals within it."
     It is no wonder, since God had planned everything ahead of time, that there are numerous occasions upon which animals seem to be actually making preparations or being prepared by the development of new organs or new capabilities for changes which have yet to be introduced. This phenomenon is referred to as "pre-adaptation." Pre-adaptation, a not infrequent phenomenon by any means, is one of the mysteries in the story of life, which the evolutionists who cannot accept the idea of plan and purpose find virtually impossible to account for. The best that Simpson could do was to suggest that there is really no pre-adaptation involved, but only an accidental development which evolution then takes advantage of. This he termed the "opportunism" of the evolutionary process.
(96) Le Comte du Nouy was in some ways a little more honest in facing up to the problem when he said: (97)

     To a Biologist who knows how to look at Nature, she is a constant source of wonder. . . . Throughout the development of Evolution the Scientist finds himself facing this unaccountable mystery, the creation of organs destined to improve sketchy solutions so as to increase the freedom of the individual, his independence with respect to his environment. . . .
     The same holds true for the appearance of homoiothermism (constant temperature) in birds. This is an immense and unquestionable liberation from the servitude of the environment and has, it must be admitted, all the

95. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London, 1953, p.154.
96. Simpson, G. G.,The Meaning of Evolution, Yale University Press 1952, pp.160-186.
97. Du Nouy, Le Comte, Human Destiny, Longmans, Green, Toonto, 1947, pp.70, 72.

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characteristics of absolute creation, whereas we feel that such cannot be the case. This stands today as one of the greatest puzzles of Evolution.

     Anyone unfamiliar with the subject might wonder why birds rather than mammals are mentioned. The fact is that current theory derives birds from reptiles, i.e., warm-blooded feathered creatures from cold-blooded scaled ones. There is a big controversy as to how feathers could be evolved out of scales. Those of us who disagree with evolution are not supposed to use our imagination too freely. If we do, we are accused of being unrealistic and unscientific. But imagination has had a holiday among evolutionists in this little problem. F. B. Sumner, (98) after considering the currently available explanations, concludes that "nothing but the guiding hand of a designer, here, if not the direct intervention of the Creator Himself . . . could have transformed the scales of a reptile forthright into the plumage of a bird." And more recently still, W. E. Swanton, of the British Museum of Natural History, emphasized the problem by saying, "Nothing in the series (of fossil remains) helps us with the vexed evolutionary and chemical problem of the transition of scales to feathers." (99) The plausibility of the scales-to-feathers transformation theory rests in the fact that both apparently spring from the epidermis and that on certain parts of the bird, feathers gradually give way to scales where the upper leg portion becomes the lower leg portion. But merely pronouncing the magic word Evolution really explains nothing. It is much more reasonably taken as evidence that a wise Creator designed a basic structure out of which He could subsequently create either scales, or feathers, or both at will. Even if by some chemical process it should be possible in time for scientists to induce scales to become feathers, or feathers scales, this would in no way weaken the evidence of creative activity, it merely gives us an insight into the wisdom of God in designing a basic living substance out of which He could later derive two very different structures as He saw fit.
     Another reason for choosing birds in this context is that they may have been the first warm-blooded creatures to be introduced, and this transformation is so profound that it requires far less faith to attribute it to the direct creative activity of God than it does to pure chance. A cold-blooded bird would be a very different creature both in form and habit from those with which God has beautified our world.

98. Sumner, F. B., Science, vol.93, 1941, p.522.
99. Swanton, W. E., "Critical Steps in Evolution from Fish to Birds, Mammals to Man," in Times Science Review, Summer, 1953, p.11.

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     To my mind, the evidence for a process of Supernatural Selection is abundant, and I believe, if the concept were once allowed (which seems unlikely at the present time), a great deal more evidence would be found almost immediately. Supernatural Selection has operated in Nature to bring about changes in form before those changes were entirely necessary, thus preparing an animal species for its own future and not merely for its immediate present. Le Comte du Nouy, because his philosophy allowed him to give recognition to this kind of evidence, not unnaturally has made a greater appeal to the common man, who is apt to find a purposeless universe a distressing thought. Thus he wrote of one stage of animal life: (100)

     Amphibians are terrestrial when they reach their full development, but aquatic till then. Reptiles, on the contrary are completely terrestrial. The development in the aerial medium necessitates an apparatus to enable the embryo to breathe air directly. Needless to say, the history of the development of this mechanism is entirely obscure. This is an example of a transformation which does not confer an immediate advantage on the animal endowed with it [his emphasis] but which represents a necessary step to attain a still distant but superior stage: that of mammals. . . .
     Everything always takes place as if a goal had to be attained and as if this goal was the real reason, the inspiration of Evolution.

     In an article on fossil man, Loren Eiseley referred to the same phenomenon, though his interpretation was slightly different: (101)

     The reason why a given form of life chooses to launch upon a new adventure is always apt to remain mysterious. One thing, however, seems rather plain: animals do not evolve new organs for the specific purpose of intruding into a new environment. Instead they start with what the Biologist calls a "pre-adaptation" ‹ an existing organ, habit, or other character which offers the possibility of being used successfully under new environmental circumstances.
     The first vertebrates to leave the water successfully, for example, had already acquired a primitive lung, utilized for survival in swamp waters of low oxygen content. Other pre-adaptations, such as a muscular fin capable of being transformed into a primitive foot, contributed to the success of the venture.
     What we cannot so readily clarify in certain of these instances is whether events forced the movement across into the new corridor, or whether the restless impetus, the exploring curiosity, the vital drive of the animal promoted the crossing.

     From their different points of view both writers discern the essential appropriateness of the pattern of change. In the long view, the end seems clearly to be the cause of the beginning, a concept which Gaylord Simpson felt was quite unacceptable. Yet for all his

100. Du Nouy, Le Comte, Human Destiny, Longmans, Green, London, 1947, pp.73, 74.
101. Eiseley, Loren, "Fossil Man," Scientific American, December, 1953, p.70.

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feelings of distaste, this great authority admitted that the evidence is there.
     Starting with a very simple environment and introducing into it just such forms as could live ‹ and, in time, leave their impress upon it, thereby modifying it slightly ‹ God began to prepare the stage for man. The modification of the earliest environment allowed the introduction of new species more complex in form but now able to survive where they could not have survived earlier. These in turn left their mark and prepared the environment so that the Creator could introduce even more complex forms of life both plant and animal. And so the process continued through millions of years. Every now and then some whole fragment of this system that had been introduced deliberately but had now completely served its purpose was removed from the picture to be replaced by some other form, which consequently appeared upon the scene without any introduction, except that the stage was ready to receive it.
     For the study of this interacting system in the past, we have only the fossils. And these can be interpreted in the light of the present. But the study of ecology today shows that in many instances several new forms must be introduced together and cannot be introduced separately. For example, honey-bearing flowers and pollinating insects are entirely dependent upon one another, and must both have been introduced together. These are only two such dependent forms. There are many others known, and undoubtedly many more unknown. And the possibilities for concomitant development purely by chance are slim indeed. To my mind, Natural Selection is a far less reasonable explanation than Supernatural Selection, because both insects and flowers were preceded by long lines of other insects and other flowers whose stages of development were so timed as to produce at the critical moment forms which must thereafter exist together.
     Both Darwin and Romanes agreed that if it could ever be shown that any two forms of life were fundamentally dependent upon each other and could only survive together, the theory of evolution by Natural Selection would no longer be tenable. In the course of time, a number of examples of interdependence came to be known to both these men. But in spite of their previous assurances, the discovery did not induce them to surrender their faith. Today it is known that Nature is full of such examples.
(102) Some of these are dealt with in the

102. Darwin, Charles, Origin of Species, Ward Lock, London, 1901, p.161; and George Romanes: quoted by Walter Kidd, "Plan and Purpose in Nature," Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol.31, 1897, p.216.

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Doorway Paper entitled "Nature as Part of the Kingdom of God" (Part II in Man in Adam and in Christ, vol.3 in The Doorway Papers Series).
     Natural Selection is held to operate randomly. That is to say, variations which prove a selective advantage to a living organism are quite random, and as it were accidental. But according to the view we are presenting, variation is not random. It takes place within certain pre-determined channels divinely appointed to make the end result possible. The fact that mutations are reversible is evidence of this. Mutations give rise to variant forms, and these variant forms may revert back to the exact original form.
(103) To my mind, this indicates that the change was controlled so that its exact reversion was possible. Let me illustrate. If I throw a baseball, and then run to where it lands and throw it back again, and an observer notes that the ball lands exactly at the point where I was standing for the first throw, he might say, "This was pure coincidence." But if I did this three or four times, he would be apt to say, "You are controlling the ball deliberately, and putting a measured amount of effort into the throw each time." In the same way, if a mutation led to a form which in mutating back again, returned the organism only part way back to its original form, and upon different occasions the extent of reversion was different, one could assume that such jumps or mutations were quite random. But apparently this is not so. Therefore variations resulting from this cause are according to law, and God stands behind the law.
     The non-randomness of variation in Nature has been underscored by several authorities. A. J. Cain has this to say:
(104)

     In view of the complexity of living things and their environment, a more cautious approach should be used.
So far, every supposed example of random variation that has been properly studied has been shown to be non-random. . . .
     Those characters or variation patterns that have been described as non-adaptive or random should properly be described as "uninvestigated." One must not assume randomness without proof.

     In a nutshell, the present controversy among the authorities is

103. This fact is now generally acknowledged in the literature. Cf D. Lewis and Leslie Crowe, "Theory of Revertible Mutations," (Nature, September 12, 1953, p.501); and John Sinclair, "The Nature of the Gene and the Theory of Evolution," (Journal ot the American Scientific Affiliation, vol.6, no.3, l954, p.3). Sir Gavin de Beer remarks upon it in mammals (Embryos and Ancestors, Oxford University Press, 1951, pp.96, 97); also S. L. Washburn (Appraisals of Anthropology Today, Univsity of Chicago Press, 1953, p.151); Francis Ryan in connection with bacteria ("Evolution Observed," Scientific American, October, 1953, p.80); and Theodosius Dobzhansky ("The Genetic Basis of Evolution," Scientific American, January, 1950, p.35); John Klotz in insects (Genes, Genesis and Evolution, Concordia, St. Louis, 1955, p.229); William Tinkle and Walter Lammerts in plants (Modern Science and Christian Faith, 2nd edition, Van Kampen, Wheaton, 1llinois, 1950, p.90 fn.).
104. Cain, A. J., "So-called Non-adaptive or Neutral Characters in Evolution," Nature, September 8, 1951, p.424.

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not whether evolution has taken place, but rather whether the observed progression of forms has resulted by accident or by design. If the latter is true, a factor is introduced which is no longer capable of complete explanation in terms of physics and chemistry, and it is for this reason that evolutionists have fought against it. They insist that progress results from natural and not supernatural selection. This feeling goes right back to the beginning of the controversy.
     Thus, for example, Wallace, who shared with Darwin the credit for launching the theory in a more or less polished form, finally became disillusioned as to the ability of the principle of Natural Selection to provide an adequate explanation. He concluded that "superior intelligence" must also be involved. After Wallace's death, Osborn wrote of "transformations which become more and more mysterious the more we study them." Although he did not join with Wallace by an appeal to a directing supernatural principle,
(105) he came in the course of his long life to explain evolution as the result of an organizing and directing principle (which he refused to call supernatural) for which he found no naturalistic basis or explanation.
     The well-known South African paleontologist, Robert Broom, held that there was "some spiritual power which has planned and directed evolution, and that below this there are other spiritual agencies, some good and some evil, which in turn direct 'partly intelligent' inferior spiritual agencies associated with various animals and plants.''
(106)
     Broom, with Sir Charles Bell, suggested that a study of one's own fingers and hand with its intricacy of bone, muscle, tendon, blood vessels, and nerves, and the delicacy and complexity of its conscious control, will convince anyone of the improbability that such a structure arose by sheer accident or by a continued series of accidents short of infinity. He then pointed out that whatever improbability one assigns to the random origin of a hand, this must be multiplied by a billion billion to express the improbability that Nature as a whole is the result of a sequence of accidental and random events.
     Yet Simpson was still convinced that:
(107)

     Adaptation is real, and it is achieved by a progressive and directed process. This process is natural, and it is wholly mechanistic in its operation. This

105. Quoted by G. G. Simpson, "The Problem of Plan and Purpose in Nature," Scientific Monthly, June, 1947, p.488.
106. Broom, Robert, "Evolution as the Paleontologist Sees It," South Africa Journal, Science, vol.29, 1933, p.54f.
107. Simpson, G. G., "The Problem of Plan and Purpose in Nature," Scientific Monthly, June, 1947, p.489.

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natural process achieves the aspect of purpose without the intervention of a purposer, and it has produced a vast plan without the concurrent action of a planner.

     This seems a fantastic faith, but it is adopted by some kind of compulsion ‹ the refusal to believe in any supernatural interference.
     The great geneticist, Weismann, argued in the same way. He wrote:
(108)

     We accept Natural Selection not because we are able to demonstrate the process in detail, not even because we can with more or less ease imagine it but simply because we must ‹ because it is the only possible explanation that we can conceive. . . .
     It is inconceivable that there could yet be another capable of explaining the adaptation of organisms without assuming the help of a principle of design.

     William Bateson likewise accepted Natural Selection only because he considered the concept of separate creation ''absurd.'' (109) And more recently we find examples of the same frantic refusal to face the possibility of God's creative activity. Patterson and Stone, in a book dealing with experiments with fruit flies, put the matter this way: (110)

     The only alternative to evolution by selection among random mutations with the majority of mutations detrimental at the time and place of their occurrence, is directed mutations to fit the need of the organism, possible only under supernatural guidance, although this is seldom the name applied to such a concept.

     One gathers from the context that this only alternative is completely unacceptable.
    In summary, then, although, to the seeing eye, there is really plenty of evidence of a Planner behind the process, this evidence must officially be ignored or denied, because the only currently acceptable explanation is the scientific one and science cannot allow anything which is not defined purely in terms of physics and chemistry. So long as this remains true, the concept of Supernatural Selection must be flatly rejected. But it is not rejected because the evidence is against it. The evidence of progress is undeniable. To believe that such progress could continue for millions of years by pure chance requires great faith. If natural forces are inadequate to account for the process, the only alternative is the existence of 

108. Weismann, A.: quoted by Philip Fothergill in Historical Aspects of Organic Evolution, Hollis and Carter, London, 1952, p.118.
109. Bateson, William; see P. Fothergill, ibid., p.173.
110. Patterson, J. T., and Stone, W. S., Evolution in the Genus Drosophila, Macmillan, New York, 1952, p.235.

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supernatural forces, and to reject these on a priori grounds is irrational. In short, the Christian is far more rational than the evolutionist, and because he is, his understanding of the process of biological progress may be nearer to the truth.

Natural Selection: An Unproven Hypothesis

     Although most authorities would find the concept of Supernatural Selection quite unacceptable and although they agree that Natural Selection is the cause of evolution, it has never really been possible to demonstrate it. About the only example of Natural Selection in action is thought to be the case of the spread of melanism in a species of moth. This is a case where some years ago a black variety of an otherwise white moth appeared in England for the first time. It was a rarity at first, valued by collectors. In the course of time, these black moths began to multiply at a greater rate than the parent group, until in certain areas the tables were turned and the white variety became quite rare. (111)
     This phenomenon is usually explained as follows: In an industrial atmosphere, the background tends to be dirty. And when the white moths settle, they stand out clearly and are picked off in greater numbers by the birds which eat them than the darker ones which are less clearly visible. So we have a clear-cut case of the operation of Natural Selection.
     However, for several reasons the problem is a little more complex. In the first place, the black moths are exceeding white moths in numbers in the countryside also, where a dark colour in itself may not be of any advantage at all.
(112) In the second place, there is some evidence that darkness of colour may be associated with superior viability. (113) The reasons for this are not understood at present, but there are other cases where the darker species is superceding a light one in which Natural Selection does not seem to be the affective cause. George Carter, after speaking of these things, said frankly: (114)

     It must be admitted that even today our belief in the efficiency of selection depends on logical deduction rather than on the results of observation or experiment.

     Even Natural Selection, therefore, is an article of faith. But there is

111. Carter, G. S., A Hundrcd Years of Evolution, Sidgewick and Jackson, London, 1958, pp.133f.; and David Lack, Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief, Methuen, London, 1957, pp.44, 45.
112. Klotz, John, Genes, Genesis and Evolution, Concordia, St. Louis, 1955, p.284.
113. Carter, G. S., A Hundrcd Years of Evolution, Sidgewick and Jackson, London, 1958, p.139.
114. Ibid., p.140.

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a double weakness in this doctrive. For, not only is it still undemonstrated in fact, even the basis of the argument for it is very often irrational. Natural Selection is supposed to be acting upon mutant forms which, having once appeared, are subsequently encouraged to multiply in a population, because the mutations have conferred some advantage on them. But the likelihood of mutant genes finding expression is very small, since mutations are almost always found to be harmful and disadvantageous. So the useful materials offered to Natural Selection to operate upon are exceedingly scarce. (115) Also, mutations artificially generated in the laboratory throw little light on how Nature has been able to create new forms. Nature has tended to resist change by mutation, not to encourage it. Thus, as has been pointed out many times, Natural Selection can only select (or reject) what is there already; it does not, apparently, have the power of creating new genes. Yet geological history is filled with examples of the sudden appearance of new forms.
     Almost every supposed illustration of Natural Selection used in standard textbooks can be shown to be quite unreasonable, although the average student is seldom aware of it. On one occasion, a professor of mine was illustrating Natural Selection with the familiar example of the tiger and the horse. The theory is that tigers easily overtook the slower horses with shorter legs and thereby eliminated them while the longest legged got away. These in turn sired the next generation in which many shorter legged offspring were soon destroyed. Thus Nature selected automatically the horses with longer legs, eliminating the rest. This process, being extended over many generations is taken to account for the evolution of faster and faster horses.
(116) While I was listening to all this, it occurred to me that only the faster tigers would ever get enough to eat; and they too, therefore, ought to have been developing longer and longer legs. I asked the professor about this point. For a moment there was silence, and then the whole class (about 300 students) burst out laughing ‹ and the professor finally joined in. He then lectured us for about 20 minutes on the need of being critical of accepted views, although he had not been too critical himself.
     Another classic example tells how the giraffe got his long neck.
(117) Recurrent and extended drought apparently reduced the

1l5. Ibid., pp.141, 142.
116. For textbooks using this illustration, see E. O. Dodson, A Textbook of Evolution, Saunders, Philadelphia, 1952, p.275; and W. Howells, Mankind So Far, Doubleday, New York, 1945, p.7.
117. Reproduced in all seriousness in Life Magazine, May 18, 1953, in a UNESCO article on "Race."

     pg.13 of 17     

supply of green things until the animals, including the giraffes, took to eating leaves from the lower limbs of trees. When these were eaten off, the animals with longer necks had the advantage and those with shorter necks died off. This continued for years and years, and for many centuries only those giraffes which could reach above their fellows could sire the next generation. Thus, their fantastic form resulted by Natural Selection. Unfortunately, the female giraffe is about twenty-four inches shorter than the male, a fact probably fatal to the theory, unless the males were uncommonly gentlemanly. (118)
     Sometimes Natural Selection has not operated where it seems obvious that it should have done so. The shrew is one of the tiniest of mammals. Its rate of metabolism is so rapid that it must eat twice its weight every day, and dies if denied food for only a few hours. Yet James L. Baldwin pointed out:
(119)

     Although only a slight increase would relieve its hunger pinch (by reducing heat losses), it ceased to evolve long ago. . .  Despite its severe handicap, Selection has not been able to add a fraction of an inch to its size in 55,000,000 years. Nevertheless, the smallness of this species has enabled it to survive and outlive all the huge species of dinosaurs.

     Not only is Natural Selection unable to do any more than select what is available, there are limits even to the powers of "Artificial" Selection. In Human Selection, it is possible to introduce purpose, but there is still no creativity in the strictest sense. A bewildering variety of dogs is possible, but nothing that is not still "dog." And probably in a remarkably short time, if they were all turned loose, the various lines would disappear or would revert to a wild type somewhat like a wolf or wolfhound.
     Moreover, breeding experiments are limited in quite specific ways. W. R. Thompson pointed out in his introduction to a new edition of Darwin's Origin of Species, published in honour of the Darwin Centenary by J. M. Dent in Everyman's Library:
(120)

     In a certain pure line of the housefly, those with the longest wings may conceivably have an advantage ‹ though I cannot see how this can be demonstrated ‹but we cannot, by choosing and mating those longwinged flies, produce a progressive increase in the proportion of longwinged flies or a progressive increase in wing length.

     This observation is important. For example, with respect to the giraffes, Natural Selection could only favour those with long necks

118. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London, 1953, p.93.
119. Baldwin, James L., A New Answer to Darwinism, published privately, Chicago, 1957, p.69.
120. Thompson, W. R., Introduction to Darwin's Origin of Species, Everyman's Library, Dent, London, 1956, p.xii.

     pg.14 of 17     

already. It could not increase neck length in each generation. If it did, we ought still to find, occasionally, that giraffes are born with quite short necks, unless one can assume that all the genes of the original line have disappeared.
     Selection, then, is not a creative but merely a sorting-out process. Nothing actually new can be added to the sum total of potential at any given moment. Advance in the evolutionary sense is quite out of the question by such a means. Francis B. Sumner put the matter this way:
(121)

     Another advance over the Selection view as conceived by Darwin, is a clearer realization of the limitations of Selection, in producing continuous change in a given direction. The great majority of experiments in this field have shown that the effects of selection while at first they may be rapid, soon come to an end. A level is reached in the character dealt with at which it ceases to advance, at least with any regularity or certainty.
     This situation is now explained on the basis already indicated, that we have to do with a sorting-out process, by means of which particular genetic combinations are separated out from a mixed population and perpetuated. In the course of this process no new elements commonly appear upon the scene though new combinations of previously existing elements may give rise to strikingly new qualities.

     Similarly, in the case of Artificial Selection, as L. B. Walton said many years ago, the supposed progress made in the improvement of domesticated animals and plants is nothing more than the sorting out of pure lines and thus represents no actual advancement. (122)
     There is a further consideration. It is often found that a single environment has favoured the introduction of a diversity of living forms each of which has found an entirely different ‹ and sometimes fantastic ‹ means of perpetuating its species. For example, the methods by which plants disperse their seeds are legion, and so diverse are they that one has the feeling God must have taken a sheer delight in exploring all the possible solutions. There are plants in which the seedpod lies at the junction of a leaf with the main stem. When the weather becomes dry, at this point the leaf begins to coil itself like a spring, and this process continues until there is a length of quite sharp and well-defined corkscrew. The formation of the corkscrew appears to result from the structure of the stem. Two layers of different material react to the drying process in building up tension until the arrangement breaks free and flies off with some

121. Sumner, F. B., "Is Evolution a Continuous or a Discontinuous Process?" Scientific Monthly, July ,1929, p.75.
122. Walton, L. B., "The Evolutionary Control of Organisms and Its Significance," Science, April 3, 1914, pp.479-488.
 

     pg.15 of 17     


force, carrying it a fair distance from the parent plant. Then two things take place: first, the ground is softened by rain at the same time to receive the seed pod, and secondly, moisture begins to act upon the coil in such a way that it starts to unwind itself. The whole structure is of such a form that the somewhat pointed seed pod is resting point down and at a slight angle to the soil. The gradual unwinding of the coil serves to drill the pod into the soil where it takes root in such a way that the old withered leafy end becomes the visible stem of the new plant. (123)
     To conceive of this extraordinary mechanism by which a plant propagates itself as having arisen purely by chance, by the action of Natural Selection, seems most unreasonable. But it is by no means alone. The more carefully Nature is studied, the more wonderful and varied are its devices. A single environment cannot surely be accounted the sole inspirer of such a multitude of mechanisms. How does such variety arise? Is it not quite as reasonable to recognize a Creator, not only with infinite power but with infinite resourcefulness also?
     Wood Jones has described a quite fascinating series of special structures, which appear usually in the later stages of embryonic development, and serve a special purpose, but only for an exceedingly short time. These structures are essential to the survival of the newly born animal, but then serve no further purpose. They consequently disappear without leaving a trace. To give one example from Wood Jones:
(124)

     Much has been written concerning the birth of Marsupials, and for a century or more it has been known that, although the newly born young is in a singularly immature state, its forelimb and hand are relatively well developed. The question as to how it becomes translated from the cloacal orifice, at which it is born, to the marsupial pouch in which it continues its immature existence, has long been settled, since, from several observations, it is known that it climbs from the cloacal orifice and into the mouth of the pouch by its own efforts. Many have considered that it is incredible that the very immature and ill-formed creature could make so long a journey through the fur of the mother's ventral surface without some maternal aid. It is only very recently that it has been shown (Lyne) that upon the rudimentary fingers of the immature young at birth there are very highly perfected little claw-like nails developed especially to enable it to make this one journey. The journey being safely accomplished and the immature creature having found sanctuary in the pouch, these temporary claws are shed, before the definitive nails, formed in accordance with the adult animal's needs, are developed. 

123. A number of species are known, a characteristic example being a member of the Geranium family (Erodium sp.) commonly called Cranesbill, found in Europe as a weed.
124. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life, Arnold, London, 1953, p.113.

     pg.16 of 17    


     It may be that my imagination is inadequate, but it is very difficult to conceive of such a momentary development resulting from Natural Selection. Unless the nails begin to grow in a form exactly suited to the incompletely born animal's needs, what could Nature select? It therefore throws no light upon how such structures were introduced for such a short journey and short period of time. The whole complex stands or falls as one. The pouch is useless unless the animal completes the journey, and the journey is made in vain unless the pouch is ready to receive its occupant. Moreover, it is suited for an occupant only half-born and yet in one essential this half-born creature must be, as it were, "adult."


     In summary, then, Natural Selection cannot be demonstrated to be operative at the present time, the usual illustrations of its operation in the past being very doubtful. Even if it were operative, it has little or nothing to work on in Nature, it is in no sense creative of new forms. Where it seems most obvious that it should have acted, it evidently did not do so, and it is totally incapable of explaining many of the devices by which species perpetuate themselves. Altogether a most unsatisfactory theory, as Thompson has put it:
(125)

     The position, therefore, is that while the Modern Darwinians have retained the essentials of Darwin's evolutionary machinery, to wit, Natural Selection, acting on random hereditary variations, their explanation, plausible in Darwin's day, is not plausible now.

     In short, Natural Selection is not really a reasonable doctrine any longer: it is little more than an article of faith. 

125. Thompson, W. R., Introduction to Darwin's Origin of Species, Everyman's Library, Dent, London, 1956, p.xiii.

     pg.17 of 17     

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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