Zack Grimes (owtkast023) wrote in answers_genesis,
Zack Grimes

Part III

Evolution: fact or fiction?

In Utah and elsewhere, it all depends on your presuppositions

by Dr. Georgia Purdom, adjunct AiG–USA lecturer and researcher

February 2, 2006

In Utah, like many other places in America today, a firestorm has erupted over what can be taught in the state’s public schools concerning evolution.1 The Utah legislature is currently considering a bill requiring public school teachers to inform students that the state does not endorse a particular theory of human origins.

A writer for the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper declared that scientists believe there are “no legitimate contenders” (meaning evolution is supreme) and that the debate concerning evolution is really about how it happened, not that it happened.2

The writer then discussed problems with the definitions of the word “theory” as understood (or misunderstood) by the general public vs. what scientists say: “Scientists reserve the word theory for a hypothesis, or idea, that has withstood rigorous examination to explain something that can be observed” (emphasis added). Later in the Tribune piece, a scientist is reported as saying that “Science demands testable explanations for observable occurrences” (emphasis added). The key word in both quotes is “observed/observable.”

There is a general misunderstanding of the differences between “origin science” and “operation science.” Origin science is based on events which happened in the past and are, therefore, not observable today. Operation science, though, is based on science currently being done in laboratories that is observable today. While it is true that operation science can help us understand what may have happened in the past, it is an extrapolation or best guess based on the evidence that we observe today.

Scientists are biased just like everyone else in that they bring their preconceived ideas about the past and how life originated into their research. For example, if a scientist’s presupposition is that God does not exist and that living organisms are the result of evolution over millions of years, then his interpretations of the outcome of operation science will seem to support his view of the past. When a scientist’s presupposition, however, is that God exists and that living organisms are the result of His creative powers within a six-day period, he can use this to properly interpret the results of operation science which support the Bible's claims. Because all scientists are working with the same data, the battle is not over the evidence but rather the interpretation of that evidence in light of the scientist’s presuppositions. Origins science, because it is not testable, tends to be more influenced by a scientist's bias, and therefore tends to be more subjective rather than objective.

Human and chimp similarity?

The Tribune article then touched on the often-cited similarity of the human and chimp genomes as evidence from operation science that supports the presupposition of molecules-to-man evolution/millions of years. One University of Utah biologist who was quoted declared that human/chimp similarity is “absolutely, completely, totally convincing. It is proof [of evolution].” This is an astonishing statement, for nothing in science ever proves or disproves a theory. The evidence either supports or does not support a theory; proof is too strong of a word, and instead the word support is always preferred. This same scientist then went on to say that, “Anyone who has examined the evidence can see that the similarities point toward an ancient common ancestor that links all species.”

I am a scientist, a molecular geneticist, and I have examined the same evidence, and I believe the similarities point towards a common Designer that created animal kinds and man.

And how similar are the human and chimp genomes really? The often-quoted numbers of 96–99% similarity are only for regions of the DNA (DNA is the molecule of heredity) that code for proteins. If a particular protein serves a function in one organism and the function was needed in another organism, wouldn’t we expect to find the same protein?

In addition, the remainder of the genome consisting of “junk” DNA and highly repetitive sequences has not been examined for similarity. Why? Because in the evolutionists’ mind, they are not important.

“Junk” DNA, for example, is thought of as an evolutionary leftover. However, there is increasing evidence to support a role for so-called “junk” DNA. It may serve a role in regulating how much protein is eventually expressed from the DNA. “Junk” DNA may also serve as a spacer between genes (protein coding sequences) much like the function of the spaces between the words in this article—without them the letters wouldn’t make any sense.

Differences between humans and chimps

Here are some other interesting differences between the human and chimp genomes which are often not reported:

  • The chimp genome is 12% larger than the human genome.
  • Only 2.4 billion bases have been aligned between the two genomes, leaving a maximum similarity of 68–77%.
  • In many areas of the genome, it appears major rearrangements of DNA sequences have occurred, accounting for another 10–20% dissimilarity.
  • Chimps have 46 chromosomes and humans have 44 chromosomes (excluding sex chromosomes for both species).
  • To save money and time, the chimp genome was assembled using the human genome as a template (because of the presupposition that humans evolved from the same line as chimps); it is currently unknown if the pieces of the chimp genome “puzzle” were put together properly.

To address these concerns and others, comparisons of the human and chimp genomes will be a part of “GENE” project sponsored by the Institute for Creation Research (ICR).The bioinformatics team (of which I am a part) will be analyzing different aspects of the human genome with special emphasis given to the comparison of human and chimp genomes. As stated by project leader Dan Criswell of ICR, “GENE’s” goal is “to provide scientific evidence supporting the Biblical position that man was created distinctly different from the animals, and that each ‘kind’ of animal was created distinctly different from other ‘kinds’.” Again, it all depends on one’s presuppositions.

The interpretation of scientific evidence from operation science informs our beliefs about origin science. What must be understood is that scientists’ presuppositions determine their interpretation of the evidence—God or no God; six 24-hour creation days or evolution/millions of years; accepting the authority of the Bible or not adhering to the Bible.

A biologist in the Tribune article is quoted as saying, “It’s very difficult to be a biologist and not recognize the importance of evolution.” I would like to rephrase that: “It’s very difficult to be a biologist and not recognize the importance of God and His creation.”

Feedback for the week of January 30, 2006

AiG aim claim: to ‘fool the weak-minded’?

Your website and the informatiom presented is irresponsibly fictional. I would first like to note that the first part of the bible, I do believe was written in the 6th century. Fundamentalist christians believe the world is 20 000 years old, your website doesnt seem to hold that into account. you also claim to be scientific. If this is true, then why do you not mention carbon dating and other such things which can date things over 300 million years ago. “Well, fossils dont come with birth certificates” - yes they do, just not in the literal way. I would also like to note that it would be impossible for dinosaurs and humans to co-exist as many dinosaurs were canivorous, therefore they would have eaten any man “drinking from the same water”. the lack of response to my message will just further prove that this website is full of lies. If you wish to disagree please reply promptly and I will take what you have to say into account.

your website merely attacks the idea of evolution, which im sad to say is far more convincing. I have the read the bible, and know of information contained in other scrolls you may not have even heard of. Your website may fool the weak minded, but does not fool the educated. You can not disprove evolution, there is far to much supporting evidence and none for creationism, merely your own thoughts, dinosaurs are never once mentioned in the bible which is your source of “genesis”/the creation of the world. everything on this website has been produced from your own heads. Know your enemy my friends.

Brogan Fraser
New Zealand

Your website and the informatiom presented is irresponsibly fictional. I would first like to note that the first part of the bible, I do believe was written in the 6th century.

I suppose you are entitled to believe that fish have been to Jupiter, but that doesn’t make it right. You might believe that Genesis was written in the 6th century, but you are wrong. You haven’t stated whether you thought Genesis was written in the 6th century AD or BC. If you think it was the 6th century AD, you are well off beam. If you are referring to the old documentary hypothesis, which suggests that Genesis was edited from earlier document in approximately 6th century BC, you are still off beam. You should be aware that the documentary hypothesis is now widely discredited, though still taught in many liberal Bible colleges. For a thorough refutation of the documentary hypothesis, and the dating of authorship, see Did Moses really write Genesis?

Fundamentalist christians believe the world is 20 000 years old, your website doesnt seem to hold that into account.

I don’t know to which Christian group you are referring. Answers in Genesis believes that the world is just 6,000 years old. (I know of a very small group in the UK that stretches the age of the earth to 20,000, but their views are not taken from scripture).

           you also claim to be scientific.

Indeed. My qualifications can be found on this website. I hold a Masters in Science Education and Management from a major UK university. Many of my colleagues hold PhDs. You neglected to mention your own scientific qualifications.

If this is true, then why do you not mention carbon dating and other such things which can date things over 300 million years ago. “Well, fossils dont come with birth certificates” - yes they do, just not in the literal way.

You demonstrate your lack of scientific knowledge. If you understood radiometric dating, you would know that it is impossible for carbon dating to date anything as being over 300 million years old. Carbon-14 has a half-life of just less than 6,000 years. It is not usually possible to measure significant quantities of parent isotopes beyond ten half-lives—in the case of carbon-14, this is about 50,000 to 60,000 years. For further information on why carbon-14 dating does not support millions of years, see What about carbon dating? It is true that other radiometric dating methods give apparent dates of millions of years, but it must be noted that all such dating calculations depend on the assumptions of the scientist doing the calculation. We have many articles on this website on this issue [see Q&A: Radiometric dating]. As you accuse us of not being scientific, you need to be aware that radiometric dating is one of our strong suits. The Radioactivity and the Age of The Earth (RATE) group of scientists have studied the issue in depth. Summaries of their findings can be found on this website. See, for example, RATE strikes at the heart of evolution. Moreover, the existence of measurable quantities of carbon-14 in coal deposits and diamonds demonstrates that these deposits must certainly be less than 50,000 years old, and such measurements are completely consistent with a young earth of 6,000 years old. See Measurable 14C in Fossilized Organic Materials: Confirming the Young Earth Creation-Flood Model.

I would also like to note that it would be impossible for dinosaurs and humans to co-exist as many dinosaurs were canivorous, therefore they would have eaten any man “drinking from the same water”. the lack of response to my message will just further prove that this website is full of lies. If you wish to disagree please reply promptly and I will take what you have to say into account.

What an extraordinary statement! Why would it be impossible for carnivorous dinosaurs to coexist with humans? Humans coexist with lions, tigers, crocodiles and white sharks, all of which are carnivorous. Surely, before you make accusations of lies, you ought not to make statements which show you have not done your research. In fact, all the answers to your points have been answered on this website many times in the past. [See Q&A: Dinosaurs.]

your website merely attacks the idea of evolution, which im sad to say is far more convincing.

I disagree with you. As a scientist, I find the concept of molecules-to-man evolution extremely unconvincing. Your posting does not relate which particular aspects of evolution that you find so convincing.

I have the read the bible, and know of information contained in other scrolls you may not have even heard of.

I doubt that. Do you really suppose that our staff have not researched widely? However, if you know of a piece of ‘killer evidence’, why not share it with us?

Your website may fool the weak minded, but does not fool the educated. You can not disprove evolution, there is far to much supporting evidence and none for creationism, merely your own thoughts,

Our website is not designed to ‘fool’ anyone. On the contrary, all our statements are backed up by references, which readers can check for themselves. We emphasise that the views of those, like yourself, who believe in molecules-to-man evolution are based, not on evidence, but on your prior evolutionary and materialist prejudices. We find that, when viewed without prejudice, the scientific evidence is entirely consistent with our rational presupposition in the Creator God of the Bible. As many articles on our site show [see Get Answers], the scientific evidence is frequently embarrassing for those who insist on believing evolution. Your last statement shows an even more blinkered view than that of Lewontin, who said ‘We take the side of science (by which he meant evolution) in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism’ [the italics were in the original].1

dinosaurs are never once mentioned in the bible which is your source of “genesis”/the creation of the world.

Of course the word ‘dinosaur’ cannot be found in the Bible. The principal English translation of the Bible is still the King James Version (sometimes referred to as the Authorised Version). This was translated in the early 17th century. The word ‘dinosaur’ was invented in 1841 by Dr Richard Owen—an eminent scientist and creationist. However, there are many passages in the Bible that seem to suggest dinosaurs. The best known example is the description of behemoth in Job 40. Footnotes suggest that this animal may have been an elephant or a hippopotamus, but the description is far more suggestive of a sauropod dinosaur.

everything on this website has been produced from your own heads. Know your enemy my friends.

Brogan Fraser
New Zealand

Your views and criticisms of us are extremely naïve, and you are following what you have been told, rather than thinking for yourself. But you are not my enemy. I shall be praying for you.

Paul Taylor, AiG–UK

Evolutionists struggle and strike back in the UK!

by Monty White, CEO, AiG–UK

3 February 2006

Evangelical Christianity has been under repeated attack on the TV networks in the UK over the last couple of months.

In December 2005, we had Lord Robert Winston on BBC1, with his The Story of God. Winston had three hours in which to broadcast his personal philosophy that ideas about God had evolved over the centuries. He made sure that he took plenty of time to criticise Christians who believe the Bible to be true, and exhibit A for him was the Creation Museum being built by our sister AiG ministry in Northern Kentucky, USA. (See The Story of God—a review of part one and The Story of God—an overview.)

Dawkins’s The Root of all Evil?

In early January, we had atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins on Channel 4 telling us why we should all be atheists. His two one-hour documentaries were entitled The Root of All Evil? (see our review). While his programmes opposed all types of religious faith, he spent most of his time criticising Bible-believing Christians.

At the end of January 2006, Dawkins popped up again on TV, this time on BBC2 along with David Attenborough, in a highly biased documentary pretending to analyse the Intelligent Design Movement, but in actuality the programme ended up doing a hatchet job on it.

When one considers the one-sided documentaries attacking biblical Christianity, how many programmes do you suppose there have been on the UK’s main networks made from a biblical point of view? How often have creationists been able to present the truth of the Genesis account of creation? I will give you a clue. It’s a ‘round’ number!

UK public do not believe evolution

Despite all the intense media propaganda, and despite the fact that evolution has been taught in school biology to the exclusion of all other theories for decades in the UK’s government-run schools, apparently only 48% of the British public actually believe evolution, according to an Ipsos MORI poll conducted for the BBC, published on 26th January 2006.1 Conversely, 17% said they believed in intelligent design, with 22% saying they believed in creation. The remainder did not know. Displaying his usual venom toward biblical Christianity, Dawkins said of the evolution-unbelievers: ‘These ignorant people would probably welcome enlightenment’. Of course, no one can consider themselves truly wise unless they have accepted all their opinions from evolution’s high priest himself!

The statistic of 22% believing in creation is interesting. It is unlikely that all 22% believe in the exact Genesis account, especially as this number is far higher than the estimated 8.5% who are evangelical Christians in the UK,2 but it must include a significant number of evangelicals who are in churches led by pastors who compromise on the book of Genesis.

Let’s put this 22% into context. Children are taught that evolution is fact from being very young. Pastors and ministers tell the children who attend church (a small minority of all young in the country) that they can believe evolution and just add it to the Bible. Bible college students in so-called ‘evangelical’ colleges are taught to ‘harmonise’ the Bible with evolution.

The popularisers of science such as Attenborough, Dawkins and Winston, who are aware of the distressing poll numbers, continue to hammer home the same message from our television sets with increasing intensity.

Meanwhile, genuinely evangelical Christians, who believe all of the Bible from the very first verse, are rarely given publicity (or, as with the case of Lord Winston’s programme, they are instead mocked). Yet less than half of the public believe evolution! Evolution does not seem, after all, to be a very convincing theory for Britons!

An evangelistic ministry

It is not our ministry, however, to convince people only to accept that God created the world. We are an evangelistic ministry. We teach creation, because we know it is the issue on which the Bible is most often attacked. Genesis is also the book which is the foundation of all our beliefs. We are sinners in need of a Saviour, because of Adam’s sin. The truth and authenticity of Genesis is fundamental to our understanding of the gospel. This is the message that we want to broadcast, and with your help and support, we will be able to reach more and more people with the life-changing creation/gospel message.

The strategy of ‘creation evangelism’ adopted by Answers in Genesis can now be seen to be not only theologically correct, but also strategically appropriate, as Christians seek to bring the gospel to this needy land of ours, where once so many used to know and love God in days gone by. However hard our opponents peddle their propaganda and try to silence us, we should always remember that He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4).

Intelligent design: is it intelligent; is it Christian?

War of the Worldviews sneak preview series: part 8

by Pam S. Sheppard, staff writer, AiG–USA

February 4, 2006

When it comes to intelligent design (ID), one thing is for certain—the mere mention of it stirs up much controversy. Whether it was President Bush telling reporters last fall that students should be taught ID alongside evolution or Judge Jones III ruling against the teaching of it in the landmark Dover (Pennsylvania) case, ID has become a major player in the creation/evolution battle.

Without question, ID has gained an increasing amount of recognition and publicity over the last several years at local and national levels. But just where does ID fit in the battle? It really depends upon whom you ask.

“I think people don’t really know where to place the ID movement (IDM) as far as worldviews go,” says Dr. Georgia Purdom, adjunct AiG–USA lecturer, researcher and author of chapter 9 of War of the Worldviews.

“Those within the ID movement try to maintain a middle ground so as to not bring wrath from either creationists or evolutionists. They have a ‘big tent’ approach where everyone lives happily in the middle. However, the ID movement is experiencing criticism from both camps for either going too far or not far enough in their explanations of who the designer is and what he has done,” she adds.

In order to understand the controversy behind ID, a person must first understand what is behind the ID movement. Is it religious … is it science … and is it intelligent?

In this chapter, Purdom answers these questions about ID, which holds that “certain features” of living things were designed by an “intelligent cause” as opposed to being formed through purely natural means.

ID affirms that living things are designed (it doesn’t claim that everything is designed) and show irreducible complexity. As Purdom explains, determining whether or not a feature of a living organism displays design can be made by using what is called an “explanatory filter” which includes the following levels of explanation:

  • Necessity—did it have to happen?
  • Chance—did it happen by accident?
  • Design—did an intelligent agent cause it to happen?

While some of the ideas from this movement help support a creationist worldview, they fall short, says Purdom. For one, ID does not attempt to explain all designs. Only certain features are designed and evolutionary processes are not ruled out.

The ID movement does not oppose an old age for the earth and even allows evolution to play a vital role once the designer formed the basics of life. By allowing for evolution, it also allows ID supporters to distance themselves from the problem of evil in the natural world.

Without the framework of the Bible and the understanding that evil entered the world through man’s actions (Genesis 3), God appears sloppy and incompetent. Because the ID movement does not acknowledge God as Redeemer, there seems to be no final solution for the evil in this world.

Although much of the media might say otherwise, the ID movement is very careful not to associate itself with Christianity or any formal religion. By doing so, some think it will stand a better chance of gaining acceptance as an alternative to Darwinism in the schools because it does not violate the so-called “separation of church and state,” Purdom points out.

In fact, many are attracted to the ID movement because they can decide for themselves who the creator is—a Great Spirit, Brahman, Allah, God, etc. The current movement does not have unity on the naming of the creator and focuses more on what is designed.

This divorce of the Creator from creation is the central problem of the theory. As Purdom points out in the book, the Creator and His creation cannot be separated; they reflect on each other. All other problems within the movement stem from this one.

In summary, ID has many good tenets, such as the idea of irreducible complexity, but it purposely separates the Creator from creation. God has a dual role of both Creator and Redeemer. An understanding of both these roles can only be accomplished using both general revelation (nature) and special revelation (the Bible).

In praise of Darwin this Sunday…in hundreds of churches!

by Ken Ham and Mark Looy, AiG–USA

February 6, 2006

This Sunday, over 400 congregations in 49 states in the USA will participate in what could be called a “Darwin praise service.” They will be celebrating (yes, that’s the word that could be used for many of the churches1) the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin. It’s called “Evolution Sunday.”

How did “Evolution Sunday” come about?

Two years ago, Prof. Michael Zimmerman at the University of Wisconsin (its Oshkosh campus)—and also its dean of the College of Letters and Sciences—began what became known as “The Clergy Letter Project.”

Using the university’s website, Zimmerman encouraged clergy across America to sign a letter that supports evolution and rejects the Genesis account of creation as literal history. As we posted this, over 10,200 clergy had signed this awful letter.

The next step for Zimmerman (again, using the university’s website) was to solicit donations so that funds could be obtained to publicize this clergy letter and to gain exposure across the nation. He set up an arrangement with an organization called The Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) to accept tax-deductible donations for his national project. What does CAP believe?

Regarding homosexuality, CAP states (under the heading “Rejecting bigotry, embracing dignity—equality for homosexual people”) that “Jesus taught equality, justice and obligation. We accept Jesus’ call to love one another and to welcome all God’s children at the table.”

In regard to child bearing/abortion, CAP declares: “We support responsible compassionate programs that are genuinely effective in helping prevent unintended pregnancy. An outcome no woman wants. We affirm that each woman’s body belongs to herself. No woman should be forced either to bear a child or to terminate a pregnancy.”

The next stage in Zimmerman’s plan (again, using his school’s website to push his evolutionary, religious agenda) was to promote a special “Evolution Sunday.”

Under the heading of “The Clergy Letter Project Presents Evolution Sunday” on his webpage, Zimmerman explained that:

On 12 February 2006 hundreds of Christian churches from all portions of the country and a host of denominations will come together to discuss the compatibility of religion and science. For far too long, strident voices, in the name of Christianity, have been claiming that people must choose between religion and modern science. More than 10,000 Christian clergy have already signed The Clergy Letter demonstrating that this is a false dichotomy. Now, on the 197th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, many of these leaders will bring this message to their congregations through sermons and/or discussion groups. Together, participating religious leaders will be making the statement that religion and science are not adversaries. And, together, they will be elevating the quality of the national debate on this topic.

Thousands of pastors have now made a public statement to say that what they call “faith” and what they deem “science” (by which they mean “evolution”) are compatible!

The irony is that as this “Evolution Sunday” program was being ramped up, the world’s leading evolutionist, atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins from Oxford University, hosted a television program broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK (and to eventually air around the world) that stated the very opposite message! (See our review.)

Dawkins (visibly angry at the Christian faith throughout his two-hour TV diatribe) stated: “People like to say that faith and science can live together side by side, but I don’t think they can. They’re deeply opposed. Science is a discipline of investigation and constructive doubt, questing with logic, evidence and reason to draw conclusions. Faith, by stark contrast, demands a positive suspension of critical faculties.”

Dawkins added, “Charles Darwin hit upon a truly brilliant idea that elegantly explains all of life on earth without any need to invoke the supernatural or the divine.”

Do you see the irony? The clergy supporting evolution, but the evolutionary, secular humanist insisting such a position is untenable. Dawkins has stated that evolution led him to his atheism.

But ... Dawkins is right this time—evolution and Christianity are incompatible.

In the TV program, Dawkins often attacked Bible-believing Christians with strident comments, such as: “Fundamentalist American Christianity is attacking science. But what is it offering instead? A mirror image of Islamic extremism. An American Taliban.” The next scene showed the burning towers of the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.

Dawkins likened Christians to terrorists!

He also stated:

To understand the likes of Osama Bin Ladin, you have to realize that the religious terrorism they inspire is the logical outcome of deeply held faith.

Even so-called “moderate” believers are part of the same religious fabric. They encourage unreason as a positive virtue. [Later he disdainfully calls them “fence-sitters.”]

What’s really scary is that religious warriors think of what they are doing as the ultimate good. Those of us brought up in Christianity can soon get the message: “Onward Christian Soldiers,” “Fight the Good Fight,” “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus ye soldiers of the Cross.”

But as far as I’m concerned, the war between good and evil is really just the war between two evils.

So, Christians are equated with Bin Laden and his terrorists!

At the same time, atheists like Dawkins (who continually have Channel 4 and the BBC at their disposal to influence millions of viewers) take glee when they see the clergy supporting evolution. Even though Dawkins unflatteringly calls them “fence-sitters,” he sees their compromise as a step towards atheism, for he expects that the next generation in the church will probably see the inconsistency of the clergy’s beliefs—and they will soon give up the Bible altogether.

Thankfully, even though thousands of clergy have compromised, there are thousands who have “not bowed the knee to Baal.” We are finding more and more pastors who are standing up for the authority of the Word, including those whom the Lord has prompted to use creation resources to equip the church to defend the Christian faith against the onslaughts of evolutionary humanism.

AiG is working on special materials and outreaches so that in the near future, we can begin promoting a “Creation Sunday” … or perhaps even a “Creation Week.” This would be a time when Christian leaders and others will have the opportunity to take a public statement that they are standing on God’s infallible Word!

“Evolution Sunday” will attack God’s Word this weekend. Sadly, it may lead many more people to hopelessness and despair. But a “Creation Sunday” (or whatever we decide to call it) will one day make a statement of hope to a dying world—the same message that AiG proclaims through its resources, conferences, this website and the future Creation Museum!

The war between Christianity and secular humanism is really heating up now. Dawkins and other prominent evolutionists are using the airwaves time and time again to aggressively attack Bible-believing Christians. Christians need to communicate a positive message to the world that the Bible is true from the very first verse.

To listen to an interview we recorded recently with our colleague Dr. Terry Mortenson on “Evolution Sunday,” click here.

Off the menu …
Given we’re told this is a dog-eat-dog and fish-eat-fish world, there’s something strange going on here

by David Catchpoole

Carnivorous fish such as the Oriental sweetlip and the coral rock cod normally feed voraciously upon shrimps and smaller fish. But these photographs show them placidly allowing cleaner wrasse and cleaner shrimp1

Gary Bell,

to crawl around tongue, gill chamber and vicious-looking teeth—and the cleaners don’t seem to be at all reticent to enter the ‘jaws of death’. And when the wrasse and shrimp have finished picking off parasites, the large fish let the cleaners go again without eating them.

The ‘cleaning symbiosis’ benefits both species,2,3 but evolutionary mutation/selection can’t explain how it arose.4,5 Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgi summed up the evolutionary puzzle presented by such symbiotic relationships (he was actually referring to a much simpler relationship between a young herring gull and its parent): ‘All this had to be developed simultaneously [like the cleaner entering the big fish’s mouth at the same time the big fish suspends his ‘normal’ (post-Fall)6 habit of eating small fish], which as a mutation has the probability of zero.

Gary Bell,

I am unable to approach this problem without supposing an innate drive in matter to perfect itself.’7

Szent-Györgi then goes on to coin the term ‘syntropy’—meaning some impersonal creative force needed to explain the ‘innate drive’ he mentioned.

So, if a brilliant Nobel prize-winning scientist, merely from observations of nature itself, has suggested there is some kind of unseen creative force, is it not reasonable to conclude from our observation of order in nature the existence of a Creator God?

References and notes

  1. Younger readers might remember that the animated movies Finding Nemo and Shark Tale respectively featured the cleaner shrimp and cleaner wrasse as the characters ‘Jacques’ and ‘Oscar’. Return to text.
  2. The ‘cleaners’ get to feed on the parasites, while the ‘clients’ get clean—ungroomed fish can suffer more than a four-fold increase in parasitic gnathiid isopods (which are microscopic crustaceans) within 12 hours. Grutter, A.S., Cleaner fish really do clean, Nature 398(6729):672–673, 1999. Return to text.
  3. Whitfield, J., Fish that go to the cleaners, Nature 421(6922):493, 2003. Return to text.
  4. Hammerstein, P. and Hoekstra, R.F., Mutualism on the move, Nature 376(6536):121–122, 1995. Return to text.
  5. Grutter, A.S., Cleaner fish use tactile dancing behavior as a preconflict management strategy, Current Biology 14(12):1080–1083, 2004. Return to text.
  6. Originally, animals were created vegetarian (Genesis 1:30). Return to text.
  7. Szent-Györgi, A., Drive in living matter to perfect itself, Synthesis 1 1(1):14–26, 1977; cited by Parker, G., Nature’s challenge to evolutionary theory, 20 September 2005. Return to text.

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