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Wed, March 20

Evolution: Scientific fact or faithful religion?

To question openly the theory of evolution in this, a modern, enlightened society freed from the superstitions of religion, is little more than a public proclamation of ignorance.

After all, evolution is an established scientific fact. On the other hand, is it?

Separating fact from fiction, and myth from reality, has always required an open mind and a hunger for the discovery of truth.

With evolution, this is a task made more difficult because intelligent debate is allowed only if done from a foundation that the theory itself is an established scientific fact.

The first widely accepted myth pertaining to evolution is that the theory arose from the studies of Charles Darwin.

In actuality, numerous philosophers and scientists during the classical period of Greece proposed that natural selection determined which animals would survive and which would not and that all life originated from a common ancestor: most notably Anaximander of Miletus in 550 B.C. and Empedocles in 450 B.C.

A primary foundation of scientific study is that establishment of fact is derived through observation, the development of a hypothesis, the testing of the hypothesis through controlled experimentation and then duplication of the experiment with the same results.

From this perspective, theory and conjecture are as far as evolution can proceed.

Dr. Colin Patterson, a senior paleontologist at the British Museum in London put it this way: "It is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to find reasons why stages should be favored by natural selection. But such stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the test."

One of the primary problems with evolutionary theory is its very foundation.

How did nonliving chemicals become life?

If this were possible, how did a "simple" life form develop into something more complex?

Evaluation of what constitutes a "simple" life form even from a naive, unscientific standpoint illuminates the need for an incredible amount of faith to accept evolution as established fact.

As an example, the odds of a perfect sequential order of amino acids necessary for the function of the protein in a single celled organism are almost incalculable.

Swiss scientist Charles Guye calculated the possibility of one protein with an average amino acid chain lining up in proper sequence at 1 in 10 to the 321st power.

Professor Dean Kenyon, a former biology professor with San Francisco State who holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from Stanford University, authored and coauthored numerous journals and papers on this subject.

His conclusion was that it was impossible for chemicals to align themselves in the proper manner and sequence and that the very concept of spontaneous generation of life was fatally flawed.

Religion has one foundational premise, faith, and a history of suppression of any questioning of the tenets of that faith.

If evolutionary theory has transcended the realm of science, could it be deemed a religion if, at its foundation, was faith, and if those who questioned this faith, were branded as heretics?

H.S. Lipson, professor of physics at the University of Manchester in Britain has been quoted as saying, "Evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to "bend" their observations to fit in with it."

Professor Kenyon often offered critical assessments of the theory of evolution in his class to spark informed study and debate. After being reprimanded by the chairman of the department, Professor Kenyon was removed from his teaching position when he continued to report the negative results of his research.

Whether the theory of evolution is science, or has strayed into the realm of religion is open to debate and conjecture.

However, no debate on the subject would be complete without contemplation of what the results would be in a society that blindly accepts evolutionary theory and follows it to its logical conclusion.

We would have a society where some men are more equal than others, where we would be doing a service to that society by eliminating the inferior, and the flawed.

We would have a society where there would be legal and moral justification for this elimination.

We would have a society where the criminal could claim to be the victim.

Religion and evolutionary theory both require faith, but they approach it from it different perspectives.

One asks that we build our beliefs on the fact that evolution occurred and the other, that life is the result of intelligent design.

Robert Jastrow, an agnostic scientist, brilliantly summarized this when he wrote, "For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream.

"He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, and is about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

Dr. Collin Patterson, after an epiphany of realizing that after more than twenty years of study, there was nothing about evolution he knew as a scientific fact, asked numerous colleagues if they too had had similar thoughts.

One responded by saying, "I do know one thing - it ought not to be taught in high school."


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