Evolution from a Jewish Perspective
Note: Asher (Roland) Norman is an author, attorney and Orthodox Jew, living in California. He also lectures on the subject of “The Scientific Case Against Random Macro Evolution (and for Intelligent Design).” Norman also lectures on the subject of Jewish holiness, explaining the organizing principle of Jewish holiness in separating between life and death regarding food, (kosher laws) intimacy (family purity laws) and time (Shabbat). The following is a paraphrase from a lecture Norman gave on evolution.
This is Part One of a three-part series on evolution from a Jewish perspective.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution requires beneficial mutations and survival of the fittest/natural selection and adaptation into a new population. The original theory has been synthesized with modern genetics and population biology. (This concept is known as the synthetic theory or Neo-Darwinism)
Darwinism does not conflict with the Torah as long as one posits GOD is the foundation of the Scripture. The conflict arises when one holds the Creation happened by itself. Secular and Reform Jews are using evolution as an alternative to GOD. This is the reason the scientific veracity of evolution becomes important. If evolution is not true, we must remove the theory as an alternative to GOD.
To make matters more clear, it is important to explain the two kinds of evolution being discussed: microevolution and macroevolution.
Microevolution is mutation within the genetic potential of an existing species. This mutation can occur naturally or can also be realized through selective breeding. It is minor change within the constraints and existing boundaries of an existing species and represents nothing new like a new organ. For example skin color is micro evolution, representing a minor variation within a species. Microevolution is an uncontroversial, well-documented, naturally occurring biological phenomenon.
Macroevolution is the somewhat more contentious, theoretical extrapolation of microevolution that requires the introduction of new genetic information. This requires a birth with a beneficial genetic mutation beyond the normal genetic potential of an existing species, something truly new. This is what Darwinism’s evolutionary theory requires, making it possible for the creation of an entirely new species rather than merely a variation of an existing species.
The criteria for a scientific theory
To prove evolutionary theory scientifically, the proposed cause for an evolutionary change must be observed to exist. It must be possible to show quantitatively the proposed cause explains the observed outcome through the use of the accepted theory. Observation of the cause and effect must confirm the theory. If the proposed cause is unobservable, then it is imperative the cause should quantitatively predict the effect through use of the theory.
Does Neo-Darwinism satisfy the criteria? No. Why? Four reasons:
- A mutation creating new genetic information has never been observed;
- A new species has NEVER been observed descending from another;
- A beneficial mutation has NEVER been observed in an existing species;
- Therefore, the theory must at least prove beneficial mutations outside species limits could have occurred during the geological time available. Darwinists have not showed this could have occurred because it is statistically impossible in the time available.
This series of articles will reveal Darwinists distort the evidence for macroevolution using the following deceptions:
- They fudge the difference between microevolution (variation within a species) and macroevolution (variation outside the species limits) pretending they are the same thing.
- They pretend beneficial mutations (versus genetic defects) have occurred outside species parameters. Such beneficial mutations have never been observed. They pretend many more mutations occur than actually do by including fatal genetic defects. 99 percent of all mutations cause disease, death or nothing at all.
- They pretend there was sufficient time for beneficial mutations to occur although new fossil discoveries show the absence of time.
- They pretend the necessary transitional forms have appeared in the fossil record although the record is characterized by their absence.
- They pretend statistical probability supports evolutionary theory when the theory itself contradicts that probability. They pretend splitting up the overall “evolutionary process” of a complex organ (like the eye) somehow reduces the improbability of those separate steps occurring in the correct sequence.
- They use endearing phrases like “selection pressure” to back door the idea chance isn’t really blind. But chance is blind. (The vast number of animals don’t need a mutation but are statistically much more likely to have a mutation).
- Almost all individual mutations are recessive. (Orr 1991) This means a mutation in a gene will not have an effect on the phenotype unless the mutation appears in both copies of the gene. This dramatically reduces the chance macroevolution will ever occur.
- Almost all mutations are harmful. About 11 percent of mutations are lethal and will lead to the death of an organism that has it in both its copies of the gene. (Dobzhansky 1940)
- Finally, random mutations do not add genetic information to the DNA. Without new genetic information, it is not possible for mutations to create new organ systems, new body parts or a new organism. In short, random mutations cannot be the source of a new species because this would need new genetic information.
The only evidence for “macroevolution” lies in the unquenchable optimism among Darwinists that, given enough time, anything can happen.
Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing answered Holmes thoughtfully: it may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different. There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
— Sherlock Holmes (The Boscombe Valley Mystery, the Complete Holmes, Conan Doyle, 1928)
Most secular scientists have defined evolution as a “random forces theory” (creation happened by itself) although Darwin was religious and believed GOD was behind it. GOD is the supernatural alternative to random forces. As Phillip Johnson states in his book, “Reason in the Balance,” “if GOD is real, then a naturalistic science insists on explaining everything is out of touch with reality; if GOD is imaginary, then theologians have no subject matter.” We will see Darwinists have created a secular, materialist religion posing as science. In essence it is religion (faith based) pretending to be science.
Evidence of Design in Living Things
Rabbi Avrohom Katz wrote a book called “Designer World” which describes life processes present profound evidence of design. Darwinists try to reinterpret these processes by arguing they only appear to be designed. An examination of examples will be very helpful in making that determination. It is important to note 99 percent of all mutations cause disease, death or nothing at all. We are expected to believe the phenomenal structures and interdependent, irreducibly complex systems described below happened by the remaining one percent of random mutations by “luck and chance” and are not evidence of intelligent design. Consider the following two examples:
A mended finger
When a finger is cut there is an immediate reaction from the body’s emergency services occurs:
- Tiny platelets, produced by bone marrow, are the first line of defense. They rush to the breach and within seconds they make a temporary patch. There are between 250,000 to 500,000 of them in each cubic millimeter of blood.
- The heavier defenses, fibrin, then come into play. Fibrin is a protein, released by the blood plasma. It creates a meshwork of fibers across the wound, plugging the hole, stopping any more blood loss and preventing the entry of bacteria into the body. But why doesn’t this process clog our bodies causing damage or death? Since fibrin is so effective in coagulating the blood, it cannot be kept in the blood in that form.
- Instead, a chemical enzyme called thrombin acts on a protein called fibrinogen and the resulting chemical reaction converts the fibrinogen into fibrin only when it is needed.
- Once the blood has clotted, it begins to shrink and hardens into a scab which protects the damaged area while new tissue is forming. The clot shrinks more, pulling the tissues together and new cells at the margins begin to spread over the surface of the scab. This forms a new layer of skin at the rate of 0.5mm per day.
- New capillary branches grow and cut nerves grow into the tissues. This is effectuated by a chemical message sent by hormones to the healthy cells to reduplicate, producing skin cells as a result of genetic coding.
Which requires more faith that “lucky” random mutations “happened” to produce this ultra-sophisticated irreducibly complex interdependent system (irreducible complexity requires multiple components to be present at once) or that such a system was produced by intelligent design?
Let’s look at a second example:
Bats are blind. They use radar instead of eyes to work. The sophistication of this system is staggering.
- Bats send out bursts of short duration at a very high frequency of ultrasonic sound pulses that constitute a hyper-sophisticated radar system. Special muscles in their inner ears reduce sensitivity to make sure the bat doesn’t deafen itself.
- The efficiency of its radar system is demonstrated by the fact bats can feed upon flying insects at night and can capture them while flying. It detects them and tracks them with their brilliant echo-location.
- They can differentiate between a caterpillar and the leaf on which it rests in total darkness. A bat can fly through a fence of vertical wires spaced 20 centimeters apart in complete darkness without touching any of the wires. The wingspan of the bat is not much less than 24 centimeters.
- A bat has a special larynx, special ears, special muscles, all brilliantly coordinated, which rival or exceed the most advanced system of modern radar technology.
Which requires more faith that “lucky” random mutations “happened” to produce this ultra-sophisticated, irreducibly complex, interdependent system or that the creature was produced by intelligent design?
Why Isn’t Macroevolution observed today?
There are millions of species (including insects) on the planet. If macro evolution is a random occurrence to account for the enormous numbers of species it must be occurring constantly. Darwinists claim all genetic information was built up through “lucky” random mutations and then spread into a species by natural selection. If so, the same process must be going on continuously and at least some random macro-mutations should be observable today. Only micro-mutations have been observed. In human history, there has never been a reported birth by an offspring with a mutation that is both beneficial and outside the limits of the existing species. Longer beaks of the finches on the Galapagos Islands, the melanism in peppered moths, antibiotic resistance in bacteria or different skin colors in humans are all micro, not macro evolution. These changes cannot result in a new species.
Does the Fossil Record Support Neo-Darwinism or is it Characterized by the Absence of Transitional Forms?
Lucky, random, beneficial mutations could not have resulted in a new species in a single birth because it is mathematically impossible to be that “lucky.” It would take many thousands of mutations to create a new species. Logically, random mutations had to occur one mutation per birth at a time.
If lucky, random, beneficial mutations led to millions of new species, the proof should be in the fossil record. The record should be filled with a massive amount of these fossils showing macro-transitions which led to new species.
Darwin’s theory was incompatible with the fossil record both when he published his theory and even more so now. This is a massive problem for Darwinists so they pretend it does not exist. Darwin was very aware of this potentially fatal problem with the evidence and acknowledged this problem in “Origin of Species” on page 287:
Geological research, though it has added numerous species to existing and extinct genera, and has made the intervals between some few groups less wide than they otherwise would have been, yet has done scarcely anything in breaking down the distinction between species, by connecting them together by numerous, fine, intermediate varieties; and this not having been effected, is probably the gravest and most obvious of all the many objections which may be urged against my views.
Darwin concluded: “He who rejects this view of the imperfection of the geological record, will rightly reject the whole theory.”
Professor Stephen Gould of Harvard University observed: “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology …The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks are not the evidence of fossils … are never seen in the rocks.”
Professor Niles Eldridge, Curator of the Department of Invertebrates of the American Museum of Natural History agreed:
No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen … evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.
— Reinventing Darwin, 1995 page 95.
Other scientists have weighed on the debate:
The fossil material is now so complete that the lack of transitional series cannot be explained by the scarcity of the material. It is not even possible to make a caricature of evolution out of paleo-biological facts … The deficiencies are real, they will never be filled.
— Professor Heribert-Nilsson Lund from the University of Sweden
Despite the tremendous increase in geological activity in every corner of the globe and despite the discovery of many strange and hitherto unknown forms, the infinitude of connecting links has still not been discovered and the fossil record is about as discontinuous as it was when Darwin was writing the Origin.
Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life, what geologists of Darwin’s time and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record: that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the (fossil) record, then abruptly go out of the record.
— G. David Raup, Curator of Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History
(In the next article, Asher Norman will continue his study of evolution from a Jewish perspective by examining the fossil record.)
- Topical Bible Study: Creation/Evolution
— Koinonia House
- Judaism: Judaism and Evolution
— Jewish Virtual Library
- Does the Theory of Evolution Jibe with Judaism?
- The Theory of Evolution – A Jewish Perspective
— US National Library of Medicine
- The Origins of Life: A Jewish Perspective
Koinonia House Briefing Packages
– FROM: KHouse.Org