DARWIN'S TWO THEORIES
Charles Darwin was not the first to believe that life could arise by purely natural processes. In fact, the idea can be traced back as far as ancient Greece. And surely long before Darwin, people made the casual observation, “Hey, that guy kind of looks like a chimp.” But it was Darwin who gave the ideas intellectual teeth, or viability, through his observation and hypothesizing of several processes, including adaptation and natural selection.
Few people realize that Darwin’s theory of evolution predicts two different results: microevolution and macroevolution. We will look at microevolution first.
His micro-evolutionary theory states that variations within a species (cats, dogs, humans) can produce radical changes over time. He stated that sometimes these changes are accelerated by environmental conditions. For example, while on the Galapagos Islands, Darwin observed finches that had apparently grown slightly longer beaks during drought conditions. This confirmed his belief that creatures adapt to their environments.
Evolutionist Niles Eldredge explains the importance of adaptation to Darwin’s theory: “Adaptation is the very heart and soul of evolution. It is the scientific account of why the living world comes in so many shapes and sizes: how the giraffe got its long neck, why porpoises look so much like sharks … how birds fly.”2
Darwin believed that overpopulation of a species creates food shortages, which result in a struggle for survival, with the strongest of the species winning out. Kind of like Survivor, the winners pass on their genes to the next generation, improving the species, so life advances by survival of the fittest.
The evidence for Darwin’s theory of change within a species is compelling. Bacteria do mutate and evolve. Cats, dogs, birds, and human beings all show evidence of variation predicted by Darwin. Some of us are tall, others short. Some thin, others…oops, better not go there.
The controversy surrounding Darwinian evolution is over his general theory of macroevolution. It states that over eons of time, all life evolved by the same process of natural selection. If true, then human beings are merely the end product of a long evolutionary chain. His belief in macroevolution is the reason Stephen Jay Gould was able to say that human beings are nothing more than “glorious evolutionary accidents.”3
As we examine Darwin’s general theory of macroevolution, we need to recognize that most biologists believe it provides the only scientific explanation for human origins. Materialists use this argument to reject intelligent design, saying it is “unscientific.”
Biologists in general, have been far more reluctant to accept intelligent design as a valid option for the design evidenced in nature than their scientific counterparts in astronomy, physics, and cosmology. But that seems to be changing. In the face of stubborn opposition from the Darwinian paradigm, many biologists and paleontologists are now exposing Darwin’s predictions to the scrutiny of scientific investigation, willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads. So let’s see where it leads.
An increasing number of scientists are looking at the evidence from a common sense point of view. If macroevolution is right then it makes sense that the fossil record would prove Darwin right. So they begin by looking at the evidence that Darwin predicted would substantiate his claims. Darwin predicted that transitional fossil discoveries would eventually prove his theory right.
According to Darwin, these transitional fossils would provide ample evidence of gradual changes brought about by chance mutations.
The idea that one species could slowly change into another creates its own special problems, and because of these, Darwin championed the idea of favorable mutations. That is, the DNA of an organism would, on rare occasions, mutate favorably, which over time would lead to other favorable mutations, and the next thing you know, that ugly rat is now a cute little armadillo. Darwin assumed that life advanced over time from one-celled creatures all the way to humankind.
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