In last month’s article, I described the purpose of ICR’s life sciences research and sketched out the need for a counter-offensive strategy against evolution’s lines of scientific arguments. This month I describe the scope of this counter-offensive.
To reclaim the scientific throne from Darwin, creationists must not only identify the flaws in his explanation, they also need to replace his ideas with scientifically superior ones. Unfortunately, in the intense battle over the details of Darwin’s claims, it’s not always clear precisely which scientific questions need answering. For example, if Darwin’s assertion of “transitional forms” was incorrect, then what was the initial scientific question he was trying to answer with this claim?
The title of Darwin’s book identifies the big scientific and biological enigma that remains unsolved to this day: On the Origin of Species. In this work, Darwin offered a simple but comprehensive explanation for this puzzle. He addressed 1) where species originated (Darwin’s answer: in a single location), 2) how species originated (answer: via natural selection), 3) why species originated (answer: changes in environmental challenges), 4) when species originated (answer: slowly over long eons), 5) from whom species originated (answer: ultimately, one or a few common ancestors), and 6) why species go extinct (answer: survival of the fittest). The more familiar lines of evolutionary evidence (transitional forms, homology, vestigial organs, biogeography) are all pieces of this bigger puzzle.
Hence, any creationist explanation that rejects the evolutionary evidence without answering these bigger biological questions misses half the battle. For example, when a creationist demonstrates that most of the organs that were historically labeled vestigial (i.e., evolutionary “leftovers”) are, in fact, functional, this effectively undermines a key piece of evolutionary evidence, but it, by itself, does not answer the process by which species arise and go extinct. In addition, when creationists show that homology (repetition of the same biological structure in diverse species) is a hallmark of design, they simultaneously rebut an evolutionary argument and provide positive evidence for design, but they don’t answer the question of whether modern species are modified forms or exact replicates of the original kinds that God created during the creation week.
Much more creationist research is needed before the origin of species puzzle is solved and Darwin’s ideas are effectively displaced. For example, as we have described previously,1,2 the text of Genesis 1–11 does not teach the fixity of species. Rather, Genesis teaches that modern species are descendants of the original kinds God created, and these kinds correspond—in many cases—to the modern classification level of family, not species or even genus. Since Noah was commanded to take only two (unclean animals) or seven (clean animals) of each land-dwelling, air-breathing kind on board the Ark, and since many families have more than seven species, it is clear that many species have formed since the Flood and probably since creation.
Furthermore, Genesis also does not teach species’ geographical fixity. While Scripture does not specify the original geographical locations of the kinds God created, Genesis 6–9 makes it clear that the kinds on board the Ark disembarked around Ararat and then migrated to their present locations. Hence, all the questions that Darwin sought to answer apply equally well to creation science: where, how, why, when, and from whom species originate—as well as why they go extinct. Answering these questions with testable, accurate scientific explanations drives most of the current life sciences research efforts at ICR.
The scope of these six research questions is huge—almost intimidating. Why take on such a colossal task with such a small research team? Two observations argue that a comprehensive creationist explanation is a matter of when (not if) the explanation will be found. First, since we’ve grounded our research on the foundation of Scripture, we know that we’ll avoid a lot of pitfalls that hamper secular efforts whose scientific assumptions clearly contradict Genesis and are, therefore, in error. Second, to our surprise, we’ve made much progress in the last few years. We’ll tell you more about these results in subsequent installments of this series.
Click here to read “Purpose, Progress, and Promise, Part 1.”
Click here to read “Purpose, Progress, and Promise, Part 3.”
- Jeanson, N. 2013. Is Evolution an Observable Fact? Acts & Facts. 42 (1): 20.
- Jeanson, N. 2013. The Origin of Species: Did Darwin Get it Right? In Creation Basics & Beyond: An In-depth Look at Science, Origins, and Evolution. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 125-131.
* Dr. Jeanson is Deputy Director for Life Sciences Research and received his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University.