16 Swiss Cheese
Bible and Science – Swiss Cheese
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:20).
Many years ago, when I was a graduate student at the University of Illinois, a Nobel Prize winning scientist visited the Physics department. During the course of his seminar, he ventured an insight that defined the difference in viewpoint between experimental and theoretical physics. To paraphrase what he said: For the theorist two points define a straight line while for an experimentalist a thousand points will not suffice.1 The thought behind his definition was to point out that many times in science, important physical discoveries would have been overlooked if physicists had been satisfied with only a cursory examination of their data because it seemed to fit some existing theory. Many times new data expanded the frontiers of physics even though existing theory had made everything appear to be solved.
A famous misstatement
One of the most famous examples of this syndrome was the assertion by Michelson2 made at the turn of the 20th century at the University of Chicago. When reviewing the results of 19th century physics, he is reputed to have said that physics had discovered all the known laws of the universe; all that needed to be done was to fill in the decimal places, implying that obtaining greater accuracy for the known physical constants was the only remaining challenge for physicists.
Ironically, at virtually the same time he was making these comments, a German physicist, Max Planck, was in the process of doing experiments that would shortly lead to the revolutionary idea of quantum mechanics that would turn the world of physics inside out.
The first half of the 20th century was full of new surprises. Besides quantum mechanics, what followed was relativity, atomic physics and later subatomic physics (just to name a few), none of which followed classical 19th century ideas. Classical theoretical physics was full of holes and the new information created a whole new world of thought, along with the need for brand new theories.
Darwinism full of holes
A flawed theory is sometimes called a “Swiss cheese” theory because it is full of holes. As we discussed above, the holes in the analysis may not be recognized because existing well-accepted theory, based on insufficient evidence, appears to have solved everything.
Classical Darwinism is essentially a moldy Swiss cheese theory; the concept of gradual small incremental changes over eons of time leading to the plethora of species on this planet just does not match the fossil evidence, nor has it been able to explain the fact that evolution seems entirely contrary to known physical laws. Evolutionists know this and are scrambling to patch up the holes with new ideas called neo-Darwinism and such concepts as punctuated equilibrium.3 One can only wonder if this exercise will succeed any better than trying to fill in the holes in real Swiss cheese! What I intend to discuss in this article are the flaws, or holes, in the theory of evolution. No theory in science can be considered acceptable if it has imponderables attached to it, mechanisms that are unknown, and concepts that counter known physical laws. The theory of evolution (as of this writing) fails as a scientific theory on all three counts. Let’s take a detailed look at the holes in Darwinism.
Fundamental laws violated by evolution
The first concern to note is that Darwin’s model of evolution violates the laws of thermodynamics (or information theory, which is a manifestation of the same underlying principle). We discussed this at length in the chapter on DNA, but it is equally applicable here in considering the so-called gradual ascent of man from one-celled protozoa. Plainly, Darwinism assumes that more ordered higher-level biological forms could evolve from lesser structures when the law of entropy clearly proves that the universe tends to a state of maximum disorder. What is the mechanism that allows biological processes to repeal this law? A little scientific proof would be welcome!
Second is the existence of organs of immense complexity in living beings requiring numerous coordinated genetic innovations. In his original arguments, Darwin recognized the difficulty in explaining this intricacy,4 but since insufficient evidence was available at the time to be definitive it was, in effect, filed away for future reference. Amazingly, later generations of evolutionists ostensibly ignore this problem. Nevertheless, the repeated occurrence of changes calling for numerous coordinated genetic modifications is almost impossible to explain by the theory of evolution.5
The example of the eye
As just one example let us consider the immense complexity involved in the sense of vision in mammals, specifically human beings. The eye is a remarkable image-sensing instrument, and coupled with the brain, an unparalleled recording and storage device far superior to even the most advanced digital cameras.
The eye measures approximately one inch in diameter and is completely formed and functioning at birth. The human eye has just one lens and that lens is deformable so that the curvature can be rapidly changed for different focusing conditions. The light range of sensitivity of the human eye spans from being able to see in dim moonlight to observing on the beach on a bright, clear sunny day. It can distinguish objects as small as a speck of dust to as large as the whole vista of nature spread before it on the rim of the Grand Canyon. The eye sees in full color (i.e. the visible spectrum) and records these images in real-time on the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eyeball that has 120 million rods and 6 million cones that translate the incoming light to electrical signals that are sent to the brain for processing and storage. The rods and cones have three different types of pigments that enable the eye to distinguish between blue, green and red light and hence combine colors to give almost 200 individual color tones. The eyeball itself is not hollow but filled with a gelatinous vitreous humor, which supports the eye’s shape to maintain focusing and also as a protective cushion. The eye itself is set in deep sockets in the skull to protect it from the environment and a system of lubrication via the tear ducts keeps it moist and washes out foreign matter (and the eyelid with lashes protects against larger wind-blown objects entering the eye). The imaging information is sent to the brain from the retina, which can process images in color and senses images in three dimensions. The three dimensional analysis of images is utterly dependent on the fact that humans have two eyes instead of one (this appears to be the case for almost all animals).
The brain has an extremely large storage capacity for images, dwarfing any microcomputer, and in a healthy individual the mind has an incredible capacity for recalling these images even years after seeing an event (law enforcement often depends on this ability to identify criminals in lineups). I could go on, but let it suffice that what I have written makes the case for the complexity of the human vision system.
How could the eye evolve?
Now a number of questions arise: how did all these elements that make vision possible evolve simultaneously? Did mammals have only one eye for millions of years and, since they were at a disadvantage, did two-eyed creatures eventually supplant them? Did the retina originally see only in shades of grey and later develop color? Did the retina at one time have very low resolution and then ultimately extend the number of cones and rods and shrink them in size so they would increase in sensitivity? Was the eye always ensconced in the protective environment that it has today or did it once lie on top of the skin structure without tear ducts or protective lids?
Evolutionists will point to various lower life forms that see in more primitive fashions including the bat, which of course doesn’t “see” at all. From this they will extrapolate to the current status of vision in human beings and other mammals. But this is utter sophistry because the fossil evidence for all hominids, and all mammals with complex stereovision, shows that this feature always existed from the oldest skeletal findings right down to today. For the dozens of genetic variations to have been coordinated to all occur at the same time to make the eye work, a most incredible stroke of luck must have happened. In fact, if you consider each of the various features that make vision function in humans, the odds of it all happening at once by Darwin’s random evolution model would be akin to winning the lottery, not just once but every day year after year for perhaps a century or more!
No new species have been developed
Another major objection to evolution is the misnomer in the very title of Darwin’s book, the Origin of Species. Even though there is plenty of evidence for small-scale evolution within a species the fact remains that no new phyla have appeared, and no new classes or orders [ever!].6 Some species seem never to have evolved at all even over enormous time spans ranging to 500 million years.
Improvements within a species from breeding are common. Champion racehorses and show dogs are cases that can be cited. However, genetic modification that change one species into another has never been documented. When man has tampered to intervene in nature and interbreed between species the result has always been sterility in the offspring. The mule is a primary example where the mating between two separate but closely related species, the horse and the donkey, results in sterility. The Bible says that God created every animal each according to its kind (Gen 1:24, see also I Cor. 15:38) and nothing that has been done so far in genetic engineering would lead us to modify that scriptural assertion.
What caused the mass extinction of many species?
Also very difficult to explain is the phenomena of overshoot, the wooly mammoth being a prime example. Here was an animal closely related to elephants, only bigger, taller, and stronger in every way. Fossils of mammoths are among the most common animal bones found and have been detected in Europe, Asia and North America (in virtually every state in the USA). The nearly intact body of a well-preserved mammoth has even been found frozen in a glacier in northern Siberia. Pre-historic hominids must have hunted these animals for food and other animal products because cave paintings have been found depicting such scenes. What caused these magnificent beasts to disappear about ten thousand years ago? Curiously, this happened at exactly the same time period that Cro-Magnon man faded from the picture. Did something dramatic happen ten thousand years ago that caused these extinctions? The evidence is circumstantial, but the answer seems to be yes though we cannot exactly specify the scenario.
The disappearance of dinosaurs at the end of Mesozoic Era has been blamed on a large meteor impact to this planet, but many other cases of mass extinction remain total mysteries and that includes the enigma of our supposed hominid ancestors. What happened to them? They allegedly superseded apes because they were a superior species (survival of the fittest!), but they are all gone and apes are still with us. Explaining the suddenness of mass extinctions of many species is another hole in the theory of evolution. Given the interdependence of nature, how did it survive these mass extinctions? This question remains unanswered.
Whence the advent of male and female?
Another great mystery that the theory of evolution fails to address is sexual differentiation. Many years ago when I first moved to the suburbs I decided to plant a holly bush. As a city boy growing up in an apartment house, I knew next to nothing about horticulture and I was extremely disappointed to find that my planting almost immediately withered.
Nothing I seemed to do improved the situation. I watered it faithfully, put all sorts of recommended nutrients in the soil, but to no avail. Then one day my father-in-law came for a visit; and, knowing he was a keen gardener, I asked him what I could do to save the plant. He knowingly looked around and immediately spotted the problem. He said I had a male holly bush and it needed a female companion! I thought he was pulling my leg, but sure enough, after doing a little library research, I realized he was absolutely correct.
Even plants follow the biblical injunction given as the reason for sexual differentiation: it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Gen. 2:18). Apparently this applies to holly bushes also! Why? The scriptural answer is a spiritual one; the interdependence in nature of male and female assures both genetic variation (as would be impossible in cloning) and companionship.
How does the evolutionist explain sexual differentiation? To cite a recent journal review article; “Consider, for instance, the fact that sexual reproduction is itself a fundamental evolutionary paradox…Although a number of competing theories for the evolution of sexual reproduction have been put forth, we still have no unanimously accepted explanation.”7, Apparently, almost 150 years since Darwin, evolutionists don’t seem to have a clue about sex.
Fossil record disproves Darwin
Finally, the fossil record shows many cases where major changes in pattern and explosive development of many variants for a species seems to happen virtually overnight. This type of data is now so widely acknowledged among paleoanthropologists that leading lights in the field, such as the late Stephen Jay Gould, questioned the traditional idea that evolution is a continuous, gradual process working in nature. Instead, he and others working in the field suggest that evolution occurs in rapid, irregular spurts and have coined the phrase “punctuated equilibrium” to describe the phenomenon.
Given this reassessment of the fossil data one would think that classical Darwinism would be dead. However, the theory of “punctuated equilibrium” turns out to be merely a patchwork on the holes in the theory of evolution! It does away with the gradual genetic change model and makes the mechanism(s) responsible for evolutionary changes even more mysterious.
In the past, we were supposed to believe that time was the hero that made everything work in classical Darwinism, that given sufficient millions of years it was statistically possible that every variation that could happen would happen. Natural selection then decided which species actually survived.
It is obvious that the fossil evidence contradicts this gradual model and we are now told that these genetic variations happen almost instantly (in terms of geologic history a few ten thousands of years is virtually instantaneous!). In order to accept the punctuated equilibrium theory we not only have to throw out the thermodynamic law of entropy, but we also have to ditch any meaningful concept of statistical variation being capable of producing genetic change.
Everything would become so much simpler if some evolutionists would simply admit that their model requires a lot more faith (and all of it faith against the facts) than believing in divine creation.
How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures (Psa. 104:24).
By John C. Bilello, Ann Arbor, Michigan
1 Attributed to Sir Nevill F. Mott.
2 This is the same Michelson we mentioned in a previous chapter who had discovered in 1887 that there was no ether in the universe. He had now moved to the University of Chicago.
3 S.J. Gould and N. Eldredge. Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered, Paleobiology, 3, (1977), pp. 115-151.
4 C. Darwin, Origin of Species, Avenel Books, New York, (1979), Chapter VI, pgs. 205-233. Originally published by J. Murray, London, (1859).
5 G. R. Taylor, The Great Evolution Mystery, Harper & Row, New York (1983). This is an extremely valuable book criticizing evolution by an expert. It is now out of print but available at used book sources.
6 Biological classification schemes: Organisms are classified in seven major groups called kingdoms, thirty-three phyla or divisions, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. As we move down from kingdom through species the relationship between animals in the group becomes closer and closer and the number with the classification gets larger (example, there are 10 million species).
7 Robert Dorit, American Scientist, vol. 92, (2004), p.464.