Evolution Icon Evolution
Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design

“Do You Believe in Evolution?” A Short Answer

Tesla factory
Photo: Tesla factory, by Steve Jurvetson / CC BY.

Let’s say someone asks you, “Do you believe in evolution?” You don’t have time to give a 30-minute answer outlining the different meanings of the word “evolution” and the evidence pro and con for each, and you know your questioner wouldn’t listen to a 30-minute answer anyway. The other individual wants a simple yes or no. However, if you say yes it will be assumed you believe Darwin’s implausible theory on the origin of species, and if you say no it will be assumed you believe all species were created in six days several thousand years ago.

So what do you say? Here’s my suggestion:

Yes, I believe in the evolution of life, and I believe in the evolution of automobiles, but I don’t believe either could have happened without intelligent design. 

If you watch the second half of the video “Why Evolution Is Different,” you will see why this is actually a very informative and reasonable answer. Like automobiles, life evolved step-by-step, but not really gradually. 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. That is 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. 

Evolution and Technology

The video highlights further similarities between the evolution of life and the evolution of human technology. With automobiles, if you try to to sketch an evolutionary “tree” showing which models evolved from which, you may be able to produce a tree that is generally reasonable. But closer inspection shows that car species do not really fit so nicely into a tree structure: often even the designers might have a hard time identifying the “ancestor” of a particular model because it inherited ideas from several different automobile lineages. Contrary to Darwinian expectations, the evolutionary “tree” of life is equally confused. There are many indications that humans might have evolved from earlier primates, or that birds might have evolved from reptiles (though this “evolution” was not gradual). But here convergence also confuses things greatly. Similar new features (e.g., the echolocation abilities of bats and dolphins) and similar new genes often appear independently in distant branches of the supposed tree of life, suggesting common design rather than common descent. In fact, Winston Ewert has shown in a 2018 BIO-Complexity article that instead of a tree, the history of life is much better modeled by a  dependency graph like we see in the evolution of software development!

Car-Building Factories

This video carries the analogy between the evolution of life and the evolution of automobiles even further. It invites us to imagine that human engineers were able to design cars with fully automated car-building factories inside, with the ability to build new cars — and not just normal new cars, but cars with car-building factories inside them. If we left these cars alone to reproduce themselves, generation after generation, there would inevitably be duplication errors. But who would possibly imagine that these duplication errors, guided by “natural selection,” could ever accumulate into more advanced car models? Human-designed self-replicating machines are still pure science fiction, so we really have no idea how living species are able to pass their current complex structures down through many generations, much less how they could evolve even more complex structures. 

If you offer the above-suggested reply, you may then be asked to explain why you don’t believe “evolution” could have happened without design when most scientists still insist that it must have. Again you know you only have a few seconds to reply, so may I suggest: 

I don’t believe that the four fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics on Earth into computers, science libraries, and cell phones, for the same reasons I don’t believe tornadoes will ever run backward and turn rubble into houses and cars. 

And if you watch the first half of “Why Evolution Is Different,” you will see that this is a very informative and reasonable answer, too. 

By the way, the old version of this video has been updated. The above links are to the new version. And notice there are subtitles in English, Spanish, Polish, and Dutch.