An Evolution Quiz


Source: Pamphlet No. 332 August 2001 – by Dr David Sack


Quite often when evolutionists and creationists talk there is a plasticity involved and ad hoc explanations abound. For example a young universe creationist, when asked to explain distant starlight, might proffer as an explanation the “mature Universe”, the “decaying speed of light”, or’ “Humphrey’s relativity”. When an evolutionist is asked to explain the stasis and abrupt change which govern the fossil record, he might suggest the “punctuated equilibrium”, “saltationist”, or “migrational” explanation.

Yet an honest creationist would certainly have to admit that if the furthest star were only a few thousand light years away, he would not argue with the data. And an evolutionist would have to admit that if the fossil record were gradualistic and was replete with a multitude of transitions, he would not argue with the data. When historical data are to be interpreted, each side will give an explanation which fits its philosophical religious commitment: Creationists are committed to the Creator in Genesis l, and evolutionists are committed to explaining all science using only materialist causes.

So the discussion can be very frustrating – like trying to catch a greased pig. It is because of this frustration that I have developed a list of “quiz” questions whose answers do not depend on an historical interpretation of data, but rather on known and documented facts. I tried to pick current issues (no mention of Piltdown Man or faked embryological drawings), as well as examples that evolutionists hold up as their “crown jewels” (no straw men). I challenge any evolutionist who reads this to set me straight on any of these answers or better yet, to come up with his 10 best “replacement facts” for the ones that are criticised here.


QUESTION ONE

True or False: The 13 species of “Darwin’s finches” are the result of a speciation event of about 1 million years ago when a foundling stock of South American finches adapted by evolutionary processes to the different environments on the different Galapagos islands.

False

We know that at least some of the finches interbreed, and perhaps all of them. This is documented extensively in the books by Peter and Rosemary Grant (Ecology and Evolution of Darwin’s Finches. 1986. Princeton University Press) and Jonathan Weiner (Beak of the Finch. 1991. Vintage Press), and in many scientific journals. While studying 6 of the 13 finch varieties, the Grants noticed that all six were involved in some interbreeding. However they still refer to them as different species, as do almost all evolutionists.

No new genetic information has been introduced into Darwin’s finches over time through mutations. This is confirmed both in Weiner’s book and in an article by Jan Klein (“Phylogeny of Darwin’s finches as revealed by mtDNA sequences,” in the April 1999 issue of the Proc. National Acad. of Sciences), as well as by clarification through personal correspondence with Jan Klein. In each of these cases it is made clear that the genetic differences are isolated nucleotides: in some cases 1 out of every 100 for a particular gene was different. In these cases the functionality of the gene did not, change. No new genetic information was introduced. Yet in Weiner’s book. p.134. we read:

“Darwin’s finches are a classic model of speciation: again they figure in virtually all of the textbooks, very often as the central illustration. That is why these birds have become such a universal symbol of Darwin’s process, so that their beaks now represent evolution the way Newton’s apple represents gravity.”

Why is this example still so highly revered when it is clear that no speciation, and thus no evolution, has occurred? This becomes more of a sociological riddle than a scientific one when such a position (holding Darwin’s finches up as an example of evolution) is taken by those who know that these finches actually interbreed.


QUESTION TWO

True or False: Bacteria become resistant to antibiotics primarily because of their ability to mutate so quickly and derive new genetic information that helps the bacteria to fend off the antibiotics.

False

In the case of bacteria the resistance is gained in one of four ways:

1 . Inheritance from parent
2. Plasmid transfer during reproduction
3. Genetic injection from other bacteria
4. Mutation which alters the DNA

The way that is least likely to be helpful is mutation. Mutations usually harm the organism, and ones that do provide for resistance are called “evolutionary cripples” by Novick (“Plasmids,” Scientific American, December 1980). He states on p.110 that “under natural conditions [the resistant mutants] rapidly die out.” Yet evolutionists always list
“mutations” first when describing the reasons for bacteria’s antibiotic resistance. Discouraged by this seeming dissonance, I scoured the literature seeking an expert. I asked Stuart B. Levy, faculty member at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, how bacteria gained antibiotic resistance. His answer:

“… if I looked over the cadre of antibiotic resistances as a group, I would say that the majority are acquired (plasmid or transposon mediated), and the minority would be chromosomal mutations.”

In some instances mutations can assist bacteria in resisting antibiotics. However such examples involve a loss of genetic information (Carl Wieland, “Superbugs – not super after all!Creation Ex Nihilo, Dec-Feb 1997/1998). In fact, Lee Spetner shows in his book Not by Chance (1997. Judaica Press) that, both theoretically and experimentally, new genetic information is not produced by random mutations. Additionally, bacteria frozen before the discovery of the medical use of antibiotics have been found to be resistant to these antibiotics. In fact Novick, an evolutionist, remarks in his Scientific American article cited above:

“[Plasmids’] existence must predate the clinical applications of antibiotics by millions of years”.

This reinforces the concept that, regardless of whether one is an evolutionist or a creationist, the information to resist preceded the need to resist.

There is no observed evolution here, no observed increase in genetic information. Yet this example, perhaps more than any other, is cited as one of the best examples of evolution in action!


QUESTION THREE

True or False: There is ample experimental evidence that the peppered moths of England are a classic example of natural selection in action (i.e., the light coloured moth on a polluted tree trunk was more easily visible to its predator and thus the darker coloured moth was naturally selected).

False

The answer is false for a whole variety of reasons, all elucidated by Jonathan Wells in his article Second Thoughts on Peppered Moths, (The Scientist, May 1999).

Wells points out that in experiments over the years, these moths have been:

1. pinned to tree trunks
2. glued to tree trunks
3. placed on tree trunks
4. released during the day near tree trunks on which they subsequently landed.

However, it is known that these moths almost never land on tree trunks during the day! In 25 years of research with peppered moths one scientist had seen moths land on tree trunks only twice. The moths usually alight in the higher branches of a tree, or at junctions of major branches. but not on the tree trunk itself (where lichens grow providing the supposed camouflage). Whatever causes the change in ratio of light to dark peppered moths over time, it cannot be predation by birds seeking out the less camouflaged moths on tree trunks.

Yet the story remains a centrepiece in evolutionary lore. H.B. Kettlewell, who performed most of the classic experiments, claimed that if Darwin had seen this, he would have observed the culmination of his life’s work. It is now clear that, although Kettlewell was a good scientist. others have since shown that his conclusions were flawed. As Wells noted in his article, this story should no longer be presented as a textbook example of evolution in action.


QUESTION FOUR

Which of the following is closest to the truth?

In the Spring of 2000 the Kansas Board of Education adopted a policy which:

(A) prohibits the teaching of macro-evolutionary topics such as the Big Bang and the spontaneous origin of
life;

(B) requires students to learn about micro-evolutionary topics such as antibiotic and insecticide resistance, and other examples of natural selection: or

(C) neither prohibits nor requires the teaching of evolutionary topics.

The answer is B

However- this is completely ignored in virtually every article condemning the Board’s decision. (http ://www.ksbe.state.ks.us/outcomes/science_12799.html)

This document specifically states that students will be required to learn biological evolution and natural selection.


QUESTION FIVE

True or False: There is undisputed fossil evidence of fossils formerly existing on Mars. (This lends credence to the theory of evolution since it suggests that the conditions necessary for life to come into existence are present on Mars and probably elsewhere in the universe.)

False

Here is a brief history of the Mars meteorite identified as ALH84001, which was found in Antarctica. August 7. 1996:

A NASA research team at the Johnson Space Centre and at Stanford University reports that they have found evidence strongly suggesting that primitive life may have existed on Mars more than 3.6 billion years ago.

October 1996: Scientific American reports, in its article “Bugs in the Data” by Gibbs and Powell: “So it is with understandable scepticism that scientists are greeting the bold assertions, made by David S. McKay of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Johnson Space Centre and eight colleagues, that the peculiar features they found in meteorite ALH84001 are best explained by the existence of primitive life on early Mars. Despite public enthusiasm about the conclusions, published in Science, many leading researchers who study meteorites and ancient life have weighed the evidence and found it unconvincing. ‘There are non-biological interpretations of McKay’s data that are much more likely,’ concludes Derek Sears, editor of the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.”

August 4. 1998: ABC News reports:

“Hundreds of scientists have poked, probed, crushed, dissolved and broken parts of the Mars rock known as Allen Hills 84001. So far, no one has found absolute, incontrovertible evidence that the potato-sized chunk ever contained life…” John Bradley, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, states:

“Early scepticism has evolved into international consensus that this rock does not contain Martian fossils. I do not know of a single other individual who believes it at this point.”

November 20. 1998: Richard Kerr pens a Science magazine article on the subject. The title says it all:

“Requiem for life on Mars? Support for Microbes Fades. “

This brief history illustrates that today the NASA claims are almost universally rejected.


QUESTION SIX

True or False: There is little, if any, dispute amongst evolutionary experts that Archaeopteryx is a reptile-bird transitional form.

False

There is great dissent in the scientific community about the status of Archaeopteryx. Many experts point to characteristics indicating that Archaeopteryx is not a missing link – but is simply a bird. Consider the following. In the article “Counting the Fingers of Birds and Dinosaurs”, in Science, April 17, 1998, Ann Burke and Alan Feduccia pointed out that birds today develop digits -III-IV on their wings, whereas fossil evidence strongly suggests that thereopod dinosaurs developed digits I-II-III on their feet. The best guess for the digits on Archaeopteryx’s wing is II- I-IV Almost certainly from this evidence, Archaeopteryx is a bird and could not have evolved from dinosaurs. In fact. Feduccia has bluntly stated that:

“Palaeontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur But it’s not. It is a bird” a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that,”(Alan Feduccia” “Early bird catches a can of worms,” Science, February 5, 1993)

Other scientists have pointed to the avian features of the skull of Archaeopteryx as evidence that it was a bird. Regarding possible reptilian scales on Archaeopteryx, feather expert Alan Brush stated:

“Paradoxically there is no fossil evidence for either scales or a horny bill in Archaeopteryx.” (A.H. Brush, 1996. “On the origin of feathers”, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 9:131-142)

Yet with all of this evidence pointing towards Archaeopteryx as a bird, it is shocking that textbooks and popular authors still portray it as a transitional form with incorrect drawings illustrating a head with scales and quotes like this one:

“So there is much we do not know about Archaeopteryx, but there is also much we do know, and not to perceive its transitional nature is to be wilfully blind to the obvious.” (7. Berra, 1991. The Myth of Creationism, Stanford University Press)


QUESTION SEVEN

True or False: The appendix is a vestigial organ that is evidence for evolution.

False

In the 1970’s medical textbooks were beginning to suggest an immunological function for the appendix. Since it is disproportionately large during embryological development doctors have theorised that it is especially helpful at fighting infection in young children. By 1990, doctors were even more certain of its function.

“The appendix lymphatic tissue is similar to that in the tonsils. Situated near the junction of the small intestine and the colon, the appendix appears to protect the intestines from infection in the cecum region where the colon begins.” U. Bergmnn and G. Howe, 1990. “Vestigial Organs are Fully Functional”, Creation Research Society, p. 11)

A recent medical book is much more emphatic about the function of the appendix:

“Other bodily organs and tissues – the thymus, liver, spleen, appendix, bone marrow, and small collections of lymphatic tissue such as the tonsils in the throat and Peyer’s patch in the small intestine – are also part of the lymphatic system. They too help the body fight infection.” (1997. Section 16, Chapter 167, The Merck Manual of Medical information, Home Edition, The Merck Publishing Group, Rahway, NJ)

Even with all of this evidence for a functional appendix, a recent encyclopaedia article states:

“The most familiar rudimentary organ in humans is the venniform appendix- This wormlike structure attaches to a short section of intestine celled the cecum, which is located at the point where the large and small intestines join. The human venniform appendix is a function-less vestige of a fully developed organ present in other mammals-” ( ” Evolution,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?eu=108619&sctn=11)


QUESTION EIGHT

True or False: Feathers and scales are made from the same protein. and develop in very similar ways, (This statement, while not proof, at least purports to lend some credibility to the alleged. evolution of birds from dinosaurs,)

False

Feather proteins and scale proteins are biochemically different, being, respectively, alpha-keratins and alpha-keratins. Further, the DNA that codes for the formation of each is very different. According to A.H. Brush:

“At the morphological level feathers are traditionally considered homologous with reptilian scales. However in development, morphogenesis, gene structure, protein shape and sequence, and filament formation and structure, feathers are different.” (“On the origin of feathers” Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 9: 131-142, 1996)

How different, you might ask? In the same article Brush stated:

“Reptilian scales and feathers are related only by the fact that their origin is in epidermal tissue.”

Nonetheless, many evolutionists claim a different story that can be found in older textbooks, namely, that scales and feathers are similar if not identical in protein structure and development.


QUESTION NINE

True or False: As far as we can determine, giraffes have long necks because, during times of scarce vegetation, nature selected those giraffes with genes for longer necks (i,e, only those with the longest necks were able to reach the highest leaves and therefore had the best chance of surviving).

False

Two articles provide documentation:

(l) Stephen Jay Gould, “The tallest tale,” Natural History-,May 1996, pp. 18-27; and

(2) Simmons and Scheepers, “Winning by a neck: sexual selection in the evolution of giraffe,” The American Naturalist, November 1996, pp. 771-186.

Gould’s article illustrates that Darwin actually had very Lamarckian ideas about the neck of the giraffe, despite the textbook credo that Darwin overturned Lamarckian ideas. The second article shows that even the traditional neo-Darwinian story. as outlined in our quiz question, is absolutely false. The newly proposed answer is that the genes for longer necks are perpetuated in males because they have a greater chance of becoming dominant over other males, thus gaining access to females. The only problem with this new theory is… how did the female giraffes get long necks?


QUESTION TEN

True or False: Given long periods of’ time, unexpected events can and probably will happen. For example, it may seem highly unexpected for a perfect bridge hand to he dealt (each of four person receives a complete suit of cards from a deck of 52), but it’s only because we live such short lifetimes. In fact, if we could live billions of years, perfect bridge hands would be expected to occur from time to time.

False

By the way this is claimed to be true by Richard Dawkins in his book The Blind Watchmaker (1986, Norton and Company), but the odds against a perfect bridge hand are 2 x 10 27 to 1 (I am using Dawkins calculation here) while the number of seconds in 4.6 billion years is 1 x 10 17. Therefore if a group of people played one bridge hand each second since the beginning of time (say 4.6 billion years ago), the odds would still be about 10 billion to 1 against a perfect bridge hand happening at some time.

Unlikely things do not necessarily happen even if given a long time. In a very similar way, one can show that the origin of the first living cell is a most unlikely event, and that even 4.6 billion years wont significantly increase the likelihood of its occurring.


Source: Pamphlet No. 332 August 2001 – by Dr David Sack

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