Evolutionary biologists have, since Darwin, held that random mutations are filtered by natural selection to produce the biological life that we now see. Since Darwin they have spoken in generalities, assuming that the mutations at the sub-cell level are actually happening across almost innumerable generations. In modern times, the sciences have not only begun to be able to measure such changes, but more profoundly, the mathematicians have begun to apply standard modeling to biology. Philosophers are also not playing friendly to the evolutionists. The result is somewhat troubling for the Neo-Darwinist. Several writers have gotten quite a bit of attention.
Arguably the most profound was Thomas Nagel’s landmark work, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly Wrong. What makes Nagel’s work so important is that Nagel is a committed atheist and cannot be accused of bringing religion into the discussion. “I believe true appreciation for the difficulty of the problem must eventually change our conception of the place of the physical sciences in describing the natural order.”(p.3) “The more details we learn about the chemical basis of life and the intricacy of the genetic code, the more unbelievable the standard historical account becomes.” (p.5)
David Berlinski, with a PhD from Princeton and having done good academic work in molecular biology, is a secular Jew. He cannot be explained away as a raving lunatic creationist. Berlinski states:
Why should a limited and finite organ such as the human brain have the power to see into the heart of matter or mathematics? These are subjects that have nothing to do with the Darwinian business of scrabbling up the greasy pole of life. It is as if the liver, in addition to producing bile, were to demonstrate a unexpected ability to play the violin. This is a question that Darwinian biology has not yet answered.
On the mathematical side, two dozen papers presented at a Cornell symposium were published in Biological Information: New Perspectives (World Scientific, 2013). One of them was titled Limits of Chaos and Progress in Evolutionary Dynamics by William F. Basener. In it, the author claims “The mathematics is basic topology and the theorems we prove are quite simple; they could be basic homework exercises in an upper level undergraduate course in dynamical systems. However, the insights resulting from the application do not seem to be generally known or understood in the study of evolutionary dynamics, either in theory or application.”(p.91) His paper shows:
Our first conclusion is that chaos and nonlinear dynamical system contribute nothing to the ongoing increase in complexity of evolutionary fitness of biological systems. . . . Second, the evolutionary process driven by mutation-selection, in both mathematical models and directly observed behavior, is that of a system going to an equilibrium and staying there. . . There is nothing inherent in the fitness-driven mathematical system that leads to ongoing progress . . .” (p.101)
A new work by mathematicians has laid a significant challenge at the feet of the evolutionist. Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics by Marks, Dembski, Ewart, explores the field of possible mathematical explanations for biological evolution, and claims there are no viable mathematical explanations.
For years evolutionists could speak in generalities about mutations happening, and could do so without much question as long as they stayed on the level of species. But once the DNA started being actually measured, the theories began to have trouble. Biologists predicted that billions of mutations would leave an animal’s DNA with a good deal of “junk DNA” But the ENCODE project mapped a large portion of human DNA and proved just the opposite. What was previously held to be useless, trash DNA turned out to be complex biological code that has a purpose.
Michael Behe’s book The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism, is interesting in that Behe has claimed at times to be a theistic evolutionist. Nevertheless, in this book he explores a biological system that is wide and deep: how malaria has responded against vaccines. The study is interesting in that it can be done on huge populations over a very long period of time and mathematically measured. Behe’s case is that the math shows that standard evolution can accomplish quite little.
These authors, plus those of noted academics like Alvin Plantinga, Stephen Meyer, and John Lennox, have made a significant challenge to the wall that biologists have erected. Those of us that study the logic of arguments can go all the way back to law professor Phillip E. Johnson’s 1991 book Darwin on Trial to find that when the curtain of scientism is pulled back, the evolutionists resort to leaps of logic and ad hominem arguments. Even better, get Johnson’s work Reason in the Balance where he systematically dismantles the flawed conclusions of the evolutionists as only a tenured law professor could.
Any fair-minded student of science would be wise to recognize that their are emotional biases on all sides that shape the conclusions. Any fair-minded student would also be wise to read some of the authors presented here and weigh their arguments with an open mind.