Evolution in the News - February 2020
by Do-While Jones

Evolution Tested

CS Stephens looked at the theory of evolution from an engineering perspective.

CS Stephens sent me a copy of his new book, Evolution Tested. Depending upon your background, you will find this book beneficial in different ways. If you already know all the science against evolution, you will find this book to be an excellent review of all the scientific and philosophical arguments against the theory of evolution. It will confirm your decision to reject the theory of evolution.

If you know nothing about evolution, other than what you have been told in school or seen on TV, this book will be a mind blower. There is so much information in it that you never knew, it might be like drinking from a fire hose.

After reading this book, people with just a casual interest in the evolution/creation controversy might be surprised at just how much scientific evidence there is against the theory of evolution. It should be enough to cause them to question evolution, if not reject it outright.

Stephens gets all the evolutionary ducks in a row, and (like a sniper) dispatches every one with a single bullet. There are no wasted shots. Since his book covers so much material so concisely, it might seem incomplete.

For example, there are several paragraphs about how the fossil record is inconsistent with evolutionary theory scattered throughout the book. Duane Gish wrote four books on that subject alone! 1 Clearly, if Stephens went into the same detail about fossils as Gish did, and into equal detail on all the other evidence against evolution as other authors have, the book would have been so long that nobody would even begin to read it.

Stream of Consciousness

The following comments are meant to be descriptive—so please don’t take it to be derogatory: The book is not a carefully structured outline of all the arguments against evolution. It is more like a stream of consciousness consisting of thoughts about evolution, science, and modern society. I liked it because I found it to be a logical, easy to follow series of thought-provoking issues.

It isn’t the kind of book you can just read. You have to think about it, or (better yet) discuss it in a group. For example, he wrote,

The inability to replicate non-gradual speciation, the complete lack of fossil common ancestors available in the period preceding the Cambrian—the Ediacaran aka Precambrian period—inability to create credible phylogenic trees, and the recognition that DNA mutations must be too massive and useful-information laden to be probable in any number of universes, all contributed to the need for a new, less fettered approach to evolution. Evolution itself is never questioned. 2

Let’s unpack that.

The inability to replicate non-gradual speciation.” Darwinian Evolution depends on gradual evolution over many generations. Despite countless experiments on fruit flies, scientists have never been able to breed a new species gradually. Stephen Jay Gould suggested an alternative to Darwinian Evolution, called Punctuated Equilibrium, in which evolution happens rapidly (not gradually). But, despite countless experiments on fruit flies, scientists have not been able to produce non-gradual speciation, either. Fruit flies have never been made to evolve into butterflies (or any other species) gradually or non-gradually.

The complete lack of fossil common ancestors available in the period preceding the Cambrian.” This is a reference to “the Cambrian Explosion,” in which so many different kinds of life appear in the fossil record without any fossil evidence of life before them. If you know about the Cambrian Explosion, it makes perfect sense. If you don’t know about the Cambrian Explosion, you have to Google it. He could also have mentioned the lack of missing links—but he didn’t (in this paragraph).

Inability to create credible phylogenic trees.” If the theory of evolution were true, it would be easy to create an indisputable tree of life showing ancestry. But, depending upon which characteristics a scientist uses to create a tree of life, he will get different family relationships. Ancestry based on fossils often disagrees dramatically with ancestry based on DNA. We’ve devoted entire articles to this subject in past newsletters. 3 He just devotes a fraction of a sentence to it in this paragraph (but he mentions it again in other places).

DNA mutations must be too massive and useful-information laden to be probable.” The idea that random changes to DNA will cause an egg-laying reptile to grow mammary glands and give birth to live young who instinctively suck nipples for nourishment, is just insanely improbable. Furthermore, every internal organ in every animal, and every different method of sexual reproduction in plants and animals, depends upon coding instructions in the DNA that had to have arisen by chance (if not by design).

The need for a new, less fettered approach to evolution.” Evolutionists think they don’t really need to be bound by experimentation, critical thinking, and logic. Those things just box them in and keep them from proposing speculative answers to evolutionary questions. Evolutionists need to think outside the box of reality so they can find the answers to all these problems in the fantasy domain.

Evolution itself is never questioned.” Even though every specific detail about evolution runs afoul of science and logic, and every detail about how evolution works is questionable, evolutionists say it is unthinkable to question evolution in general as an explanation for the origin and diversity of life.

That one paragraph leads to multiple questions about the theory of evolution which are never asked in public schools. Since they are never asked, students don’t even know there are questions.

Evolution Tested is a treasure trove of thoughts about science in general and the theory of evolution in particular. Practically every page contains a quote from a recognized expert on the subject from Aristotle to Dawkins. (Modesty prevents me from mentioning that I am quoted on page 54. ) Each quote opens the door to further investigation.

Situational skepticism

Here’s another example. On page ii in the preface, he mentioned “situational skepticism.” He didn’t define it, or explore it in detail; but, from my perspective, he didn’t have to. The phrase immediately reminded me of a half-forgotten column in a grocery store science tabloid written years ago by Michael Somebody which had the word “skeptic” in the title. He was skeptical about everything from Bigfoot to UFOs. But when it came to evolution, he was as gullible as he could be. Dinosaurs evolved into birds? Of course! Who could question that?

The simple reference to situational skepticism reminded me of the hypocrisy of people who believe in the pseudo-science of evolution, while looking down on anyone who questions the theory of evolution as an unsophisticated science denier. He could have spent more time on that point, but he didn’t. I’m not being critical—I’m just describing his approach.

Taxonomy and Cladistics

Here’s another example:

Cladistics simplifies the classification issue by ignoring time and space. That means that a creature found in one part of the globe which resembles a creature in a remote and distant part of the planet, even in a very different time frame will still be connected in the same class. 4

This is brilliant and thought-provoking—but only if you think about it! Let me fill in what is written between the lines.

Taxonomy is the systematic classification of living things. It was first developed by Linnaeus to categorize living things to make them easier to study. That is, if you put all birds together in a group, it makes it easier to recognize similarities and differences in individual birds, and find general characteristics through inductive reasoning.

Linnaeus arranged the various groups of living things into a hierarchy. All similar species were grouped together in a genus. All similar genera were grouped together in a family. All similar families were grouped together in an order, and so on, to create a phylogenic tree.

Evolutionists believe that similar characteristics are due to common ancestry (not a common designer) so they believe that the taxonomic hierarchy is a representation of their mythical tree of life.

The problem evolutionists have is that some creatures (like the duck-billed platypus) don’t fit neatly into the hierarchy. Whales were originally considered to be fish (because they live in the water) but were later classified as mammals (because they nurse their young with milk).

How to classify living things is simply a matter of opinion. In an attempt to make classification less subjective (opinion-based) and more objective (fact-based), scientists developed rules for classification. This creates the illusion of objectivity—but the objective criteria for classification were subjectively determined. Whether or not an animal has mammary glands is not a matter of opinion that can be questioned—but whether or not having mammary glands is a more important classification criterion than living exclusively in water, certainly is open to question. Furthermore, the opinion of whether or not whales are fish, might have been politically prejudiced by international agreements regarding fishing.

In an attempt to solve the classification problem, evolutionists turn to cladistics, which is a systematic comparison of features. It has the appearance of being impartial and unbiased because the feature exists, or it doesn’t exist, in a particular species. In fact, it actually is biased because the relative importance of a feature is a matter of opinion. We have made that point in several previous articles.

Now, getting back to Stephen’s comment about cladistics ignoring time and space, in last month’s Evolution in the News column, 5 I used 2,353 words and three pictures to say that Philip Gingerich believes a wolf-like creature from Pakistan (Pakicetus, which means “Pakistan Whale”) walked and/or dogpaddled to Egypt, where it evolved into Aegicetus (“Egypt Whale”) which had a strong enough tail to allow it to swim to America, where it became the first true whale, Basilosaurus (which ironically means, “King Lizard”). Furthermore, Gingerich believes this without a paternity test, or any other evidence of biological relationship, which might surmount the obvious geographical objections to his theory.

Although I had recognized the geographical problems associated with other fossil discoveries, it had never occurred to me that cladistics completely ignores time and space, until Stephens mentioned it. All those computer-generated cladograms I’ve seen, which compare species strictly on physical or genetic similarity, don’t include any geographic data which could be used as a sanity check.

If someone claimed that a man who had never left the United States, fathered a child born to an Australian woman who had never been north of the equator, it would not matter what a paternity test says! Any genetic similarity is accidental and irrelevant. Geography matters more! In just two sentences Stephens made a point that took me more than 2,000 words to make. I really admire that.

Rogue Taxa

No matter what classification system is used, there are always “Rogue Taxa: Biota Without Ancestors (Phylogenetic Disconnects).” 6 Stephens wrote,

Persistent problematica have been attacked as “rogue” data, and software filters have been designed to add to computer programs to “smooth” the data, or to “prune the tree”. The object is to remove and ignore any data which doesn’t fit the model. 7

Then he referenced a commercially available software program called RogueNaRok which selectively ignores inconvenient truth.

RogueNaRok is an algorithm for the identification of rogue taxa in a tree set. …

What are Rogue Taxa?

Rogue taxa are wandering taxa, that assume plenty phylogenetic positions in a set of bootstrap (or Bayesian sampled) trees. Usually ambivalent or insufficient phylogenetic signal is the reason for this phenomenon. Thereby, they decrease resolution and/or support in the consensus tree. Removing (resp. pruning) them from a tree set may produce a more informative consensus tree. 8 [bold emphasis by Stephens]

Then Stephens asked the question,

When did deleting non-congruent data in order to preserve a predetermined hypothesis become a scientific process? 9

Stephens didn’t answer the question. He expects you to think about it. I think it must have happened before people started believing that a person’s gender at birth is non-congruent data that can be ignored to preserve a fantasy sexual identity. That, to me, is the most important point of the book. Any belief, no matter how irrational, can be justified simply by proclaiming it to be scientific because some people wearing white lab coats believe it. Rejection of real science started with acceptance of the theory of evolution as scientific, despite all the scientific evidence against it.

If You Think About it

If you think about it, Stephens makes some great points about situational skepticism and cladistics—but thinking has become a lost art, which is really the point of Stephens’ book. When you get right down to it, Evolution Tested is more about testing than evolution. Most of the book is about logic, philosophy, and critical thinking. Evolution plays a minor role. Evolution simply serves as an example of how experimental science has been replaced by political correctness and popular consensus, and the detrimental effects that blind acceptance of evolution (and other pseudo-scientific ideas) has on modern society.

Don’t Take Out the Appendix

Some readers don’t bother to read the appendix of a book because they think the appendix just contains footnotes and extraneous details. The five appendices make up one fifth of the entire book, and might be the most important part—so don’t skip the appendices.

The appendices deal with logic and rational thought, which are the main points of the book. The subtitle of the book is, “Evolution & empiricism viewed through engineering standards.” There is really more about empiricism than evolution in the book.

Stephens does not appeal to the Bible as an authority to support his arguments. He doesn’t even argue for Intelligent Design.

Reality Matters

Stephens is an engineer, so he knows that reality trumps emotion. It doesn’t matter how much you want a bridge to be structurally sound, or how cleverly you can argue that it is structurally sound, because if it isn’t really structurally sound, it will fall down.

The biggest danger to modern American society is that many people believe what they want to believe instead of what is really true. Children are no longer taught how to think rationally. Instead, they are taught that they are winners, even if they are losers, and are given trophies to celebrate their non-victories. They are taught gender is a state of mind, not a biological reality.

Because children are taught that how they feel is more important than reality, and that they can change reality by what they believe, they live in a fantasy world—until the real world knocks them upside the head.

Failure to think logically leads to cherished (but irrational) beliefs about such things including (but not limited to) evolution, weight-loss diets, medicine, gender, communism, socialism, global warming, racism, sexism, get-rich schemes, and gun control.

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Footnotes:

1 Those four books are Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record, Evolution? The Fossils Say No!, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!, and Fossils: Key to the Present.
2 CS Stephens, EVOLUTION TESTED: EVOLUTION & EMPIRICISM Viewed through Engineering Standards, https://www.amazon.com/EVOLUTION-TESTED-EMPIRICISM-ENGINEERING-STANDARDS-ebook/dp/B07TFJJQCS/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=evolution+tested&qid=1580488331&s=books&sr=1-1, Page 36
3 For links to more than 50 of our articles on the subject, see http://scienceagainstevolution.info/topics-dna.htm .
4 Stephens, page 145
5 Disclosure, January 2020, “Aegicetus gehennae”, http://scienceagainstevolution.info/v24i4n.htm
6 Stephens, page 150
7 ibid.
8 https://github.com/aberer/RogueNaRok/wiki/A-FAQ-like-introduction-to-RogueNaRok
9 Stephens, page 151