By Kenneth B. Cumming, Ph.D.*

Introduction. Perhaps the most frequent disagreements between crea-

tionists and evolutionists are what each group thinks about: (1) biological

variation, (2) the fossil record, and (3) the role of natural selection as a

control system. Therefore, much of the usual creation/evolution battle-

ground lies in the fields of genetics, comparative anatomy, and geology.

Yet, skirmishes spill over into other disciplines such as ecology (the

study of organisms at home') where the researchers and writers try to

explain how and why living systems (ecosystems) developed.

I will not dwell on origins or the fossil record at this time. What I will

deal with are the relatively short-term developmental aspects of the issue

as seen in the hierarchical design of living systems especially in organiza-

tion, cycles, and homeostasis. These biological properties will be used to

show that living systems are predictable, directional and conservative.

These properties support the creationist perspective and conflict with

evolution, which requires randomness, non-directional progression, and

liberal opportunity for change.

Organization. Among the signs of life, organization is probably the most

striking.2 Other signs such as metabolism, responsiveness, and repro-

duction take analysis or time to observe. However, structural complexity

is quickly recognized; it is a product of large molecule syntheses under

the direction of another giant molecule-nucleic acid. Structural and

dynamic proteins form the warp and woof of life; nucleic acids provide

the plan,

From these macromolecules are built the hierarchies of anatomy. At

the micro level, cells have been shown to have intricate membranous

ultrastructure. At a higher level organisms have a finely woven fabric of

tissues. Even ecosystems have a megastructure of interconnected com-

munity practitioners. So, complex organization is one of the most im-

portant attributes that makes living systems "alive."

*Author. Dr. Cummins is chairman of the Biology Department in the

ICR Graduate School. He has the Ph.D. from Harvard University in

the field of ecology.

One might challenge this concept as stretching an analogy too far. But

other authors conclude that these patterns are real. For example,

J.G. Millers wrote a treatise on Lining Systems in 1978 (McGraw Hill)

in which he compiled an enormous amount of data to support his

general living systems theory. In a 1981 Center- Magazine excerpt of the

book Miller states:

According to general systems theory, the universe contains a hier-

archy of systems, each more advanced level made up of systems at

the next less complex level. The systems at any one level are similar

sorts of things. They are, for instance, all subatomic particles, or all

cells, or all societies... General living systems theory is concerned

with the very special subset of all systems, the lving systems. Al-

together ... there appear to be nineteen critical subsystern processes

which are identical at all levels of living systems.

Thus, there are anatomical descriptions of cells, animals, and com-

munities which pictorially display the members' appearance and loca-

tion within the organization. For example, comparative anatomy is a

well-established science that relies on the consistency of occurrence of

structures. In addition there are functional organizations. For example,

in ecology we expect to find organisms within niches performing their

"role" in the vertical and horizontal stratifications. In fact, absence of

ecological equivalents signals problems in the ecosystem. From these

recurring patterns, I conclude that living systems are predictable in

anatomical and functional organization,

Life Cycles. A property of communities familiar to all is rhythmicity,

a repeating pattern of everits. These are characterized by a beginning,

interim of consistent length, and erid. It is seen, for example, in the

daily vertical migration of small sea life, seasonal breeding of deer, and

the annual food-storing behavior of flying squirrels., However, there is a

hierarchy of cycles that apply to generations of living systems too-that

of the cell cycle, life cycle, and succession. I hold that these display direc-

tionality (i.e., start to finish on a timetable according to prescribed steps).

Various phases of activity within a cell leading to division are called

the cell cycle. One complete cycle constitutes a generation and has a

characteristic time of completion: simple cells without riuclei 20-30

minutes, complex cells with nuclei 10-25 hours.5 Nucleated cells divide

after a sequence of seven phases: initial growth-G,, chromosomal repli-

cation-S, secondary growth-G2, prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and

telophase. Although the cycle can be mariipulated experimentally, there

is a naturally characteristic cell behavior which is directional.

Existence in multicellular organisms is measured as life cycles from

conception to death. Whereas in protozoa the single cell becomes the

offspring through division, in many-celled organisms (metazoa) select

cells (usually sex cells) become the progenitors of the next generation.

The range of time for a life cycle for metazoo may be in days to hun-

dreds of years. In spite of the variety of organisms, life cycle steps may

be simplified in the following sequence:

fertilized egg > embryo > youth > adult > senility

Any number of developmental accidents can modify the end product.

Yet, there is a generally repeatable progression.

A sequence of different communities of organisms in a particular living

space (habitat) is frequently caned a succession. As an example, Horns

describes the properties of one New Jersey forest succession. He found

that soil moisture and leaf arrangement are basic factors in determining

th(t succession of this mixed forest and that the most stable end-point

(climax condition) is a mosaic of residual unique successional stages.

He concluded there was a convergence on the same final distribution of

trees no matter at which successional stage it begins. Even t[iough suc-

cession of forests, ponds, and sand dunes may occupy hundreds of

years, there is a describable recurrence of conitnunities that lead to the

end of the cycle. Therefore, living systems are consistently directional

in their activities.

Homeostasis. Horn also noted in the forest he studied that although

multilayered (leaf distribution) trees are able to grow faster than mono-

layered trees in the open environment of early succession, the shaded

understory limits the growth of the multilayered offspring. This geometric

arrangement of leaves is just one feedback mechanism in living systems

that fit under the general term homeostasis (staying the same). It is a

term generally applied to regulation of the internal environment by meta-

bolic adjustments under the pressure of variable external stimuli. How-

ever, homeostasis operates in all living systems. In cells, enzymes with

more than one active site (allosteric) are part of a feedback (cybernetic)

system to regulate intermediary metabolism. Usually negative feedback

is the governor for efficient and economical use of cell resources. For

example, synthesis of the three amino acids lysitie, threonine and

methionine is judiciously managed by allosteric control of the alternate

enzymes (isozymes) of aspartokinase.1

Temperature regulation in man is a commonly quoted example of an

organismic homeostatic mechanism. Skin thermoreceptors tell the brain

what the skin temperature is. Internal temperature is monitored in the

brain (hypothalamus), spinal cord, abdominal organs, etc. Voluntary

response from the cerebrum coupled with involuntary integration of

sympathetic nerves and thyroid hormone lead to an orchestration of heat

manipulators in the adrenal medulla, sweat glands, skin arterioles and,

skeletal muscies.8 The end of it all is a routine 98.6F +- 2' (37'C +/- lo).

With so much metabolic traffic and energy balance, a set of manage-

ment systems is essential for the survival of organisms. Homeostasis

enables these organisms to operate within their range of tolerance. Such

stabilizing mechanisms lead to conservatism in cells, organisms and


Discussion. Hardin,9 Wilder-Smith' and Parker" all refer to a famous

book Natural Theology, that was published by William Paley in 1802 in

which Paley stated that all nature speaks of the Designer behind it. The

existence of a watch proved a watchmaker; the existence of the design

(highly coded structure) in nature and matter proved the existence of a

designer behind them. By 1870, however, Darwinian theory had swept

away Natural Theology and substituted as Wilder-Smith puts it, "Design

might be designed, as it were, but design might also just as easily arise

from randomness." So thorough was the sweeping that Henderson2 in

1913 wrote:

"At length we have reached the conclusion which I was concerned

to establish. Science has finally put the old teleology to death. Its dis-

embodied spirit, freed such a ghost science has nothing to fear. The man

of science is not even from vitalism and all material ties, immortal, alone

lives on, and from obliged to have an opinion concerning its reality,

for it dwells in another world where he as scientist can never enter."

But alas, as cybernetics would have it, Hardin in his 1968 book 39

Steps to Biology suggests again that nature challenges evolutionary theory

and we should think about it. Hardin asks, "Was Paley right?" Wilder-

Smith picked up the argument referring to the findings of the computer

specialists at the 1966 symposium entitled Mathematical Challenges to

the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution in which Professor Eden

of MIT stated, "It is our contention that if random is given a serious and

crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness

postulate is highly implausible."

Are these are only a few isolated examples of the reevaluation of evolution

or is the inquiry growing? Frances Hitching" wrote in the April 1982

edition of Life magazine "Was Darwin Wrong?" It is only one of many

investigative articles, reviews, and books on the subject which has

reached national concern.

Conclusion. In this article I have tried to indicate that some ecological

topics are enmeshed in the Creation/Evolution dialog. I have presented

the thought that the relatively short-term basic developmental properties

of organization, cycles, and homeostasis, at all levels, show predictable-

ness, direction, and conservativeness. These appear to be at variance

with expected properties of evolution such as randomness, variable

direction and liberal opportunity for change.


1 .Odum), Eugene, Fundamentals, (PA: W.B. Saunders Co., 1971), 574 pp.

2. Curtis, Helena and Sue Barnes, Invitation to Biology, (NY: Worth Pub., Inc., 1981), 696 pp.

3. Milier, James and Jessie Miller, "Systems Science: An Emerging Interdisciplinary Field," The Center

Magazine, V. xiv, No. 5, Sep.-Oct. 1981, pp. 44 55.

4. Smith, Robert, Ecology (inci Field Biology, (NY: Harper & Row PL,b Inc , 1974), 850 pp,

5. Sheeter, Phillip and Donald Bianchi, Cell Biolo_q_y: Structure, Biochemistry, and Function, (NY: John

Wiley & Soils, 1980), 578 pp.

6. Horn, Henry, "Forest Succession," Scientific American, V. 232, 1975, pp. 90-98.

7. Sheeter, Phillip And Donald Bianchi, op. cit.

8 U(inder, Arthtdr, lames Sherman, and Dorothy Luciano, Human Physiology, (NY: McGraw Hill Bk.

Co., 1980), 724 pp,

9. Hardin, Garrett, 39 Steps to Biology. A Scientific American book, San Francisco, 1968.

10. Wilder Smith, Arthur, 'Fhe Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Euolutio,, (IL: Harold Shaw

Publishers, 1974), 269 pp.

ii. Parke,, Gary, Creation: The Facts of Life, (San Diego: CLP Publishers, 1980), 163 pp.

12. Henderson, Laurence, The Fitness of the Enuironment, (MA: Peter Smith, 1970), 317 pp.

13. Hitching, Francis, 'Was Darwin Wrong?" Life, Apr. 1982, pp. 48-52.