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Whatever happened to evolutionary theory?

"Whatever happened to evolutionary theory?" Continued...

Issue: "Darwin's meltdown," April 3, 2004

In the first few years of this century, the cultural dominance of Darwinism was so strong, especially in academia, that critics were slow to speak up. By 2009, however, when Darwin's followers had hoped to stage a triumphal celebration of their leader's 200th birthday, millions of people were laughing at the emperor with no clothes.

The third and perhaps most decisive development was a series of breakthroughs in biology and medicine inspired by the new theory of intelligent design. Everyone, even the Darwinists, agreed that living things look as though they were designed. Darwinists insisted that this was merely an illusion, produced by the combined action of random mutation and natural selection; but design theorists argued that the design was real. For years the controversy remained largely philosophical; then, in the first decade of this century, a few researchers began applying intelligent-design theory to solving specific biological problems.

One of these was the function of so-called "junk DNA." From a Darwinian perspective, "genes" were thought to determine all the important characteristics of an organism, and gene mutations were thought to provide the raw materials for evolution. When molecular biologists in the third quarter of the 20th century discovered that certain regions of DNA encode proteins that determine some of the characteristics of living cells, and equated these with "genes," Darwinists assumed that their theory was complete. They even proclaimed DNA to be "the secret of life."

Yet molecular biologists learned in the 1970s that less than 5 percent of human DNA encodes proteins. Darwinists immediately declared the other 95 percent "junk"-molecular accidents that had accumulated in the course of evolution. Since few researchers were motivated (or funded) to investigate garbage, most human DNA was neglected for decades. Although biologists occasionally stumbled on functions for isolated pieces of "junk," they began to make real progress only after realizing that the DNA in an intelligently designed organism is unlikely to be 95 percent useless. The intensive research on non-coding regions of human DNA that followed soon led to several medically important discoveries.

Another insight from intelligent-design theory advanced our understanding of embryo development. From a Darwinian perspective, all the information needed for new features acquired in the course of evolution came from genetic mutations. This implied that all essential biological information was encoded in DNA. In contrast, intelligent-design theory implied that organisms are irreducibly complex systems in which DNA contains only part of the essential information. Although a few biologists had been arguing against DNA reductionism for decades, biologists guided by intelligent-design theory in 2010 discovered the true nature of the information that guides embryo development.

All three of these developments-teaching the controversy, educating people about the lack of evidence for evolutionary theory, and using intelligent-design theory to make progress in biomedical research-were bitterly resisted by Darwinists in the first decade of this century. Defenders of the Darwinian faith engaged in a vicious campaign of character assassination against their critics in the scientific community. Meanwhile, their allies in the news media conducted a massive disinformation campaign, aimed primarily at convincing the public that all critics of Darwinism were religious zealots.

More and more people saw through the lies, however, and within a few short years Darwinism had lost its scientific credibility and public funding. By 2015 it was well on its way to joining its intellectual cousins, Marxism and Freudianism, in the dustbin of discarded ideologies. By 2020, Darwinism was effectively dead.

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