A THEORY IN CRISIS (1)
The book by Michael Denton, "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, is a
secular critique of evolution. It is thoughtful, logical,
empirical, and well-written. Denton is sympathetic and fair,
showing rare insight and compassion towards Charles Darwin. he
distinguishes MICRO-evolution form MACRO-evolution. The first
occurs within genotypes.
Darwin's Galapagos finches illustrate micro-evolution,
as does the circumpolar overlap among species of
gulls, and the many varieties of fruit flies in the Hawaiian
islands. However, selective breeding of pigeons, chickens,
turkeys, cattle, horses, dogs, cats and many other domestic
animals yields similar results over less time.
MACRO-evolution, the second type, had to occur if evolution were
to get the first cell, or to leap across genotypes, say, from a
reptile to a bird.
While MICRO-evolution is evident in the
geographical distribution of many living species (2) and in
selective breeding, it sustains only Darwin's special theory of
evolution--variation within genotypes. the general theory, change
across types on the other hand, (MACRO-evolution) requires upward
rather than lateral movement.
For MACRO-evolution the problem is how fully developed viable
life-forms might arise completely by accident. Denton cites Monod
who said, "Chance alone is at the source of every innovation of
all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but
blind (3). Chance supposedly gave rise to the first
organism--perhaps a bacterium, alga, or protozoan. Later, the
theory says, chance resulted in complex invertebrates and plants,
followed by fish, then amphibians, reptiles, and, finally,
According to Denton, proof of such a sequence requires at least
one of two kinds of evidence: either an unbroken chain of
transitional fossils or surviving intermediates, or; plausible
reconstructions of such series together with their respective
The trick is to show how each link could be
viable enough for the next to get going. Only by establishing
complete transitional series can the hypothesized connectedness
in the hierarchy of genotypes be made plausible--empirical proof,
of course is a much taller order. here the issue is mere
plausibility. If such transitions ever happened, intermediate
forms should be found in the fossils and in living organisms.
Existing classes should overlap. Clear boundaries ought to be
exceptional rather than normative.
Though Darwin hoped fossil transitions would appear eventually,
none did. Only trivial cases of micro-evolution, hardly
rivaling selective breeding, were evident. Nor for more than
a hundred years would any accurate measure of distances between
existing classes become possible.
Or, take the Coelacanth. On the basis of fossil evidence,
evolutionists believed it was an intermediate between fish and
amphibia. reconstructions showed Coelacanth to have both
amphibian and fish-like characteristics. Later, live Coelacanths
turned up in the Indian Ocean near Cape Province, south Africa.
They were fish! The reconstructions had been wrong. All of which
shows that fossils provide a poor basis for detailed inferences
about proposed links between classes.
However, Denton points out that advances in microbiology make
possible a new sort of evidence. It is now possible to compare
directly the basic building blocks--the proteins--of living
things. Denton notes that proteins determine "all the biology of
an organism, all its anatomical features, its physiological and
metabolic functions....(4)." It is hard to believe that protein
structure and evolution could be unrelated. Denton writes:
The amino acid sequence of a protein from two different
organisms can be readily compared by aligning the two
sequences and counting the number of positions where the
chains differ (5).
And these differences
can be quantified exactly and provide an entirely novel
approach to measuring differences between species.....
As work continued in this field, it became clear that
each particular protein had a slightly different sequence
in different species and that closely related species had
closely related sequences. When the haemoglobin sequences
in different mammals, such as man and dog, were compared
the sequential divergence was about twenty percent, while
when the haemoglobin in two dissimilar species such as
man and carp were compared, the sequential divergence was
found to be about fifty percent (6).
Such comparisons make possibly the testing of hypotheses,
suggested by neo-Darwinian orthodoxy. For instance, suppose
bacteria have been around much longer than multi cellular species,
e.g. mammals. Suppose further that bacteria are more closely
related to plants than fish, amphibia, and mammals, in that
order. If so, we should see evidence of these facts in the
sequences of amino acids of common proteins. For example, all the
mentioned groups use cytochrome C, a protein used in energy
production. the differences in that protein should fit an
evolutionary sequence. However, bacterial cytochrome C compared
with the corresponding proteins in horse, pigeon, tuna, silkmoth,
wheat, and yeast show all of them to be equidistant from the
bacterium. The difference from bacterium to yeast is no less
than from bacterium to mammal, or to any of the other classes.
Nor does the picture change if we choose other classes or
different proteins. The traditional classes of organisms are
identifiable throughout the typological hierarchy, and the
relative distances between them remain similar regardless of
hypothesized evolutionary sequences. for example, Denton observes
that amphibia do not fall between fish and terrestrial
vertebrates. Contrary to the orthodox theory, amphibia are the
same distance form fish as are reptiles and mammals (7).
In all comparisons, the hypotheses of general evolution is false.
The really significant finding that comes to light from
comparing the proteins' amino acid sequences is that it
is impossible to arrange them in any sort of evolutionary
The upshot is that
the whole concept of evolution collapses (9) [because]
the pattern of diversity at a molecular level is unique,
isolated, and unlike by intermediates (10).
Moreover accidental design adjustments, as necessary for
general evolution, are logical disasters. Random
mutations from radiation, replication errors, or other
proposed sources, rarely result in viable design
adjustments, never in perfect more advanced designs.
Evidence for general evolution is altogether lacking and
predictions from the theory are false. Darwin confessed
the distinctness of specific forms and their not being
blended together by innumerable transitional links is a
very obvious difficulty (11).
Still he insisted on gradual change due to natural selection
which he said can produce no great or sudden modifications; it
can act only by short and slow steps (12).
More than a century later the fossil record still does not fit
Darwinian orthodoxy. Ironically, by admitting this "trade secret
of paleontology" (13). Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould has
achieved fame and glory. From Darwin forward, everywhere in the
biological hierarchy researchers came to uncrossed chasms. Yet
they pretended the gaps did not exist. This set the stage for
Gould's saltational theory - an idea Darwin explicitly rejected.
Gould's idea id like the fantasies of Fred Hoyle (14) and Francis
Crick (15) about extraterrestrial civilizations. While Gould,
along with colleague Niles eldridge, proposes miraculous sudden
leaps in evolutionary progress (16), Hoyle and Crick, propose
panspermia--life-seeds form some extraterrestrial civilization.
All such theories merely postpone thinking. Denton rejects them
and concludes that perfect design implies supreme intelligence.
But, unlike Gould, Eldredge, Hoyle, and Crick, he does not reach
his own proposal by wild imagination, but by a ruthless
application of logic.
He notes that the design problem and its solution find a nearly
perfect analogy in the difficulty of generating texts in a
language. While the number of possible texts is large, the number
of nonsensical strings is larger by orders of infinity. It is an
understatement to say that the probability of generating by chance
even one grammatical text of just a few hundred words is
vanishingly small. Any such string implies intelligence.
In the same way, viable sequences of life's material are an
infinitesimal proportion of possible arrangements. The question
is how a viable sequence could arise by accident. Denton
considers the odds. He cites Hoyle and Wickramasinghe who
estimate the chance of a single living cell spontaneously coming
into existence as 1 in 10^40,000 tries (one to the 40,0000th
power)--"an outrageously small possibility...even if the whole
universe consisted of organic soup (17)." Referring then to the
"elegance and ingenuity of an absolute transcending quality,
which so militates against the idea of chance, ...." he asks:
"Is it really credible that random processes could have
constructed a reality, the smallest element of which--a
functional protein or gene--is complex beyond...anything
produced by the intelligence of man?" (18)
In the end, Denton suggests, the advocates of orthodox evolution
are like Lewis Carroll's Red Queen. When Alice protested that
there's no use trying to believe impossible things, the Queen
"I dare say you haven't had much practice...When i was your age I
did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as
many as six impossible things before breakfast." (19)
1. A review of Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory In Crisis.
Denton is a molecular biologist and medical doctor. He's NOT a
creationist and none of his arguments and evidences relate to
2. the geographical distribution of organisms was, Denton says, Darwin's
main source of inspiration: "the origin of all my views." See Charles
Darwin, the Origin of Species, 6th ed., 1872, reissued in New York:
Collier, 1962, p. 25 (as cited by Denton, op. cit., p.45)
3. Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity, London: COllins, 1972, p 110 (as
cited by Denton, op.cit., p.43).
4. Denton, op. cit. p.303
5. Ibid., p. 275
6. Ibid., p. 276
7. Ibid., p. 285
8. Ibid., p. 289
9. Ibid., p. 291
10 Ibid., p. 290
11. See Charles Darwin, op. cit., p. 307 (as cited by Denton)
12. C. Darwin as cited by Denton
13. Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda's Thumb p.194
14.Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe & Evolution from Space
15. Francis Crick and L.E. Oregel, "Directed Panspermia," Icaus, 19,
341-346, also see Francis Crick, "Life Itself," simon % Schuster
16. Niles eldridge and Gould, "Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to
phyletic gradualism," in TJM Schopf, ed, Models in Paleobiology pgs.
17. Hoyle, F. "Evolution from space" pgs 24 & 323
18. Denton, op cit. p. 342
19. Lewis Carroll, "Alice Through the Looking glass. p 100
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 77 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231