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Two Reasons Why a Bad Theory Remains Popular

Photo: A Boeing 787, by I, Yasobara, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

“Why Evolution Is Different” was the title of a talk I gave at a meeting in Istanbul in May 2017. Afterward I turned my presentation into a video, which I continued to develop, and which last year was redone by a professional cinematographer. The improved video was  introduced at Evolution News last June, and has now been translated into Polish, Spanish, and Dutch. The Polish subtitles were provided by Dr. Adam Wojcicki of En Arche foundation, the Spanish subtitles were written by myself and Fabian Fuentes of Mexico, and the Dutch subtitles by Andries van Renssen. 

An Extremely Implausible Theory

The talk, and the video, looked at the two main reasons why Darwinism, an extremely implausible theory which becomes even more implausible with every new biological and biochemical discovery, is still so popular in the scientific world today. 

The first reason, which I call “Le Conte’s Axiom” for reasons that will be clarified in the first two minutes, is the subject of the first half of the video. Science has been so successful explaining other phenomena in terms of purely unintelligent natural forces, why should evolution be so different? However implausible Darwinism is, and however inconsistent with the evidence, it must be true because it is the best materialists have to offer, and the only alternative anyone can imagine to the “unscientific” theory of intelligent design. 

Most non-scientists intuitively understand that explaining how plants and animals, and intelligent, conscious humans, could have arisen from a lifeless, barren planet is a very different and much more difficult problem than others solved by science. But most scientists are still confident that nothing could possibly be beyond the reach of their science. In the last decades, an increasing minority of scientists are finally recognizing that the layman is right, that evolution is different. The video attempts to make clear, in terms that even scientists can understand, why evolution really is different, and requires a very different type of explanation, involving intelligent design.

Why Darwinism Remains Popular

The second half of the video addresses the other main reason such an implausible theory as Darwinism is still more popular than intelligent design among scientists: the similarities between species, which suggest common descent. “This doesn’t look like the way God would have created things,” is the argument, one used frequently by Darwin himself. But the video points out how similar the fossil record is to the history of human technology, with obvious similarities between each new invention and previous designs but with large gaps where major new features appeared, for the same reasons: gradual development of the new organs that gave rise to new orders, classes, and phyla would require the development of new but not yet useful features. “Gaps among known orders, classes, and phyla are systematic and almost always large,” wrote Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson. So Darwinism could not explain the development of these new features even if they did occur gradually — and they don’t. 

The Phenomenon of Convergence

The video also looks at the widely observed phenomenon of “convergence,” where distantly related species evolve similar new features independently. Convergence suggests common design rather than common descent, and it is a phenomenon that is also often seen in the history of human technology: for example, Ford automobiles and Boeing jets may evolve similar new GPS systems. 

So if the history of life looks like the way humans, the only other known intelligent beings in the universe, design things — through careful planning, testing, and improvements — why should that be taken as an argument against intelligent design? 

But even these “unintelligent” forces of nature, which so many scientists insist must be able to explain the origin and evolution of life, give strong evidence of design themselves, as a new video “A Summary of the Evidence for Intelligent Design,” highlighted here last month, points out. This new video has Spanish subtitles and will soon have Polish subtitles, by the same translators.