Table of Contents
Part I: The Preparation of the Earth
Natural or Supernatural Selection
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.
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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
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:
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,
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
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
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."
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,
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,
92. Mayr, Ernst, Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian
Interpretation of Evolution, Wistar Institute, No.5,
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.
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.
characteristics of absolute creation,
whereas we feel that such cannot be the case. This stands today
as one of the greatest puzzles of Evolution.
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
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,
99. Swanton, W. E., "Critical Steps in Evolution from Fish
to Birds, Mammals to Man," in Times Science Review, Summer,
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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,
107. Simpson, G. G., "The Problem of Plan and Purpose in
Nature," Scientific Monthly, June, 1947, p.489.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
122. Walton, L. B., "The Evolutionary Control of Organisms
and Its Significance," Science, April 3, 1914, pp.479-488.
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
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,
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,
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
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