http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/1106ng.asp ------------ by Dr. Terry Mortenson, AiG–USA 6 November 2004 The 33-page cover story of the November issue of National Geographic asks the question, “Was Darwin wrong?” After decades of evolutionary propaganda, the magazine surprised no one with their confident answer, “No!” But scientifically informed and careful thinking readers will not be persuaded by the “overwhelming evidence” (p. 4) presented. Obviously, National Geographic (hereafter simply NG) thinks that a significant percentage of their readers are slipping in their faith in evolution and need a remedial course in the some of the “abundant, various, ever increasing, solidly interconnected, and easily available” evidence (p. 8). NG admits that nearly half of Americans don’t believe in evolution, due in part to “Scriptural literalism” [really, it’s simply believing God’s plain word] and the “proselytizing” [NG isn’t proselytizing, of course?] work of young-earth creationist and intelligent design proponents (p. 6). They also blame it on “honest confusion and ignorance”; but given that the popular science magazines, the mass media and the educational establishment are controlled by evolutionists, evolutionists have no one to blame but themselves for this alleged confusion and ignorance. They are also hoping that their readers have a short memory. Only about five years ago, NG promoted “Archaeoraptor” as “proof’ that “We can now say that birds are theropods just as confidently as we say that humans are mammals.”1 However, this turned out to be a hoax—a Piltdown Bird—see Archaeoraptor—Phony “feathered” fossil. They had to publish an embarrassing recantation, but now they are back to their old indoctrinating tricks. The article starts with some of the usual patronizing nonsense refuting the “evolution is just a theory” claim. But this is a straw man, as we have long advised creationists from saying this very thing—see this section of our “don’t use” page. This section also refutes the very fallacy that NG tries to foist upon its readers: that we should not dignify evolution with a word like “theory,” and put the goo-to-you conjecture on the same level as the theory of relativity and theories of electricity. Rather, these theories that NG confidently compares with evolution are based on repeatable observations in the present, while evolution is a claim about the unobserved past. See Naturalism, Origin and Operation Science. The article says that “two big ideas are at issue here: the historical phenomenon of the evolution of all species (descended from a common ancestor) and natural selection as ‘the main mechanism causing that phenomenon’” (p. 8). The fundamental points of debate: Information To understand the following brief analysis of this article, it will be important to remember some important facts about life and the creationist view. All living things contain in their cells the DNA molecule that carries the information (genetic instructions) for making all aspects of that creature and all this information is in the first fertilized cell of each kind of creature. Amoeba DNA has no information for making hooves, hair, tails and eyes, but horse DNA does. Alligator DNA has no genetic information for producing feathers, hollow bones and one-way lung systems, but eagles do (as did Archaeopteryx). Some DNA information is common to many different kinds of creatures, but there are also differences. So the key questions related to evolution are these. One, how did this information come into existence in the evolutionist’s supposed first living microscopic creature? And, second, how did the information in that “simple” creature get changed and augmented to produce all the different kinds of plants and animals that we see living and in the fossil record? The NG article doesn’t even attempt to address the first question, with good reason. As the world famous astrobiologist, Paul Davies, says: It's a shame that there are precious few hard facts when it comes to the origin of life. We have a rough idea when it began on Earth, and some interesting theories about where, but the how part has everybody stumped. Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organised themselves into the first living cell.2 This is not surprising, given the problems with chemical evolution to explain life’s origin, and the key role of genetic information in the making of living creatures. Dr. Werner Gitt is a leading German scientist and young-earth creationist who is an expert on information theory. In his powerful, tightly reasoned book, In the Beginning was Information, he argues, “There is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.”3 So the evolution theory is in big trouble right from the beginning. But it gets worse, because, as creationists have repeatedly argued, and as we review below, natural selection and mutations (either alone or together) do not produce the increase of new genetic information needed to support the goo-to-you-via-the-zoo theory of evolution. Creationists believe, based on the clear teaching of Genesis, that God supernaturally made different “kinds” of plants and animals during the first six literal days of history and that He endowed those creatures with the genetic information to produce enormous varieties within the original kinds but not the ability to change into a different kind. Creation scientists (with PhDs earned at secular, evolution-dominated universities) are involved in ongoing scientific research to try to define the genetic boundaries of the original kinds, but most seem to agree that, generally speaking, the Genesis kinds are in most cases at the genus or family level, not the species level of modern taxonomic classification. See What is the Biblical creationist model? and Variation, information and the created kind. So the contrast between evolution and creation is clear. Evolutionists believe in the tree of life—that all living things are descended from one common ancestor. That is, they believe in vertical change from one kind of creature to another. Creationists believe in the forest of life—horizontal variation within the original created kind, but not one kind changing into another. Which view really fits the scientific evidence? Concerning natural selection, NG gets it wrong at the start when it says that “Wallace and Darwin share the kudos for having discovered natural selection” (p. 8). Actually, a respected creationist British scientist, Edward Blyth, discussed the concept (without using the term) 25 years before Darwin published his famous book. Blyth attributed variation within the original created kinds to changes in environment or food supply.4 NG describes natural selection as the “natural culling” of “useless or negative variations” (p. 8), but this reveals the fatal flaw in Darwin’s theory. As creationists have continually pointed out, natural selection doesn’t create anything new, it only selects from the existing genetic information from which the varieties are produced. The result is either the preservation of some of that information in a variety well suited to a particular environment or the complete loss of some of the information through extinction of a variety. But what never results is the increase or creation of new genetic information. NG misleads its readers and evades this information argument when it showcases losses of information as “proof” of goo-to-you evolution, which would involve massive increases of information. For example, NG asks, “Why do certain species of flightless beetles have wings that never open?” (pp. 12–13). We have long ago pointed out that such beetles did arise from beetles with fully functional wings because of a mutation that crippled the power of flight. But in some environments, such a mutation may be beneficial, i.e. benefiting the organism. For example, on a windy island, a beetle that flew into the air may be blown into the sea, while flightless ones will avoid that peril. But the bottom line is the beetle has lost something; this doesn’t explain how beetles or flight could have arisen in the first place. See Beetle bloopers: Even a defect can be an advantage sometimes, even though it results from a loss of genetic information. The evidence for evolution is presented by NG in four categories: biogeography (the study of the geographical distribution of living creatures), paleontology (the study of fossils), embryology (the study of the development of embryos to birth) and morphology (the study of the shape and design of creatures). Darwin used all these arguments, and so do modern evolutionists. Biogeography Evolutionists say that only evolution can explain why there are certain creatures in one location, say kangaroos in Australia, but not in another location. However, Darwin claimed that evolution explained the pattern of life on fixed continents, while now evolution is supposed to explain the pattern of life on continents that moved apart from one big one. If evolution is so flexible that it can explain such mutually incompatible distributions, then it explains nothing at all. Also, there are many puzzles to the observed distribution of living and fossil creatures. For example, kangaroos are not mainly in Australia “because they evolved there.” And evolutionists have to admit that marsupials once lived in Europe, Asia and North America (in profusion in the latter), but now are largely absent (except for opossums in the Americas). Here is a revealing admission from two evolutionists: Living marsupials are restricted to Australia and South America (which were part of the supercontinent Gondwana); North American opossums are recent immigrants to the continent. In contrast, metatherian fossils from the Late Cretaceous are exclusively from Eurasia and North America (which formed the supercontinent Laurasia). This geographical switch remains unexplained.5 But creationists contend that there are much better explanations of the biogeographic evidence, which flow from understanding the changes in climate and sea level after the global catastrophic Flood at the time of Noah and the fact that post-Flood people would have intentionally (and sometimes unknowingly) taken plants and animals to different parts of the world as they repopulated the earth. See Migration Q&A and chapter 1 of Woodmorrappe’s book, Studies in Flood Geology. Closely related species in an area, such as the thirteen species of finches in the Galápagos Islands that Darwin explored, have indeed arisen from a common ancestor. But finches changing into finches don’t tell us where finches came from in the first place. Rather, they are a classic example of sorting out genetic information, not generating new information, and far more quickly than evolutionists expected but just what the creation model predicted—see Darwin’s finches: Evidence supporting rapid post-Flood adaptation. Also, recent work shows that many of the changes are really the result of a built-in capacity to respond to cyclically changing climates. For example, while a drought resulted in a slight increase in beak size, the change was reversed when the rains returned. This argument applies to the other NG examples of anoles, mole rats, ants, pigeons and fruit flies. It’s also important to note that Darwin’s argument was against a compromising view similar to that of progressive creationists such as Hugh Ross: namely, that God created individual species where they are now living. Contrary to what the NG article implies, informed creationists do indeed believe that new species can arise. But these are the result of the reshuffling or loss of the genetic information in the original created kinds. As explained earlier, creationist scientists do not believe that the original created “kinds” (mentioned in Genesis 1) are equivalent to the modern man-made taxonomic classification of “species,” but more likely approximates the “family” level. Much recent evidence has accumulated to show that speciation can happen rapidly, which has surprised evolutionists but fits perfectly with the Bible’s teachings—see Speedy species surprise. Paleontology NG leads readers to believe that Darwin thought the fossil record supported his theory. But actually he admitted more than once in his famous book6 that the fossil record is an embarrassment to his theory of descent from a common ancestor. He knew that if his theory was true, there should be countless numbers of transitional forms (e.g., 100% reptile, 75% reptile-25% bird, 50% reptile-50%bird, 25% reptile-75%bird, 100% bird and many transitional forms between each of those). Darwin attributed the lack of evidence to our ignorance of the fossil record. But today our museums are loaded with fossils and the missing links are still missing. As the late Harvard evolutionary geologist, Stephen Gould, put it: The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.7 In a 1979 letter responding to the late creationist, Luther Sunderland, Colin Patterson, then Senior Palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London, concurred: I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them. You suggest that an artist should be used to visualize such transformations, but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it, and if I were to leave it to artistic license, would that not mislead the reader? ... You say that I should at least “show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.” I will lay it on the line — there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.8 Richard Dawkins’ evolutionist disciple at Oxford University, Mark Ridley, is emphatic: However, the gradual change of fossil species has never been part of the evidence for evolution. In the chapters on the fossil record in the Origin of Species Darwin showed that the record was useless for testing between evolution and special creation because it has great gaps in it. The same argument still applies. ... In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation.9 [emphasis in the original] So I guess the folks at NG are not real evolutionists, or at least not very informed. They certainly offer nothing in this article to negate these statements. Incredibly, NG even admits that “illuminating but spotty, the fossil record is like a film of evolution from which 999 out of every 1000 frames have been lost on the cutting-room floor” (p. 25). So there you have it. Evolution is 99.9% imagination! NG quickly reassures us that “dozens of intermediate forms” have been found, but they only give two examples: horses and whales. Creationists have exposed the flaws in the supposed horse evolution story for years. The story told by the fossils in South America is backwards compared to the story told by the fossils in North America—see What’s happened to the horse? Rather, the horse “tree” is really a bush, and comprises merely variants within the horse kind, and most likely a non-horse at the bottom—see The non-evolution of the horse: Special creation or evolved rock badger? and pages 189–97 in Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! A previous flawed attempt by NG (in 1981) to use horse fossils to support evolution is exposed in Horse find defies evolution. Pakicetus reconstruction What was found (fossil evidence in red) Gingerich, J. Geol. Educ., 31:140–144, 1983. As for whale evolution, NG refers to the work of paleontologist Philip Gingerich. It discusses his research on Pakicetus (“whale from Pakistan”), but doesn’t reveal the real story. In 1994 Gingerich claimed Pakicetus was a creature “perfectly intermediate” between a land animal and a whale.10 The fossil evidence at the time only consisted of parts of the skull, yet Gingerich’s artist drew the creature swimming in the ocean with front legs like a land animal but the mouth and a rear end looking like a sea creature as it was trying to eat fish. But by 2001 more fossils had been found11 and it was concluded that Pakicetus was “no more amphibious than a tapir.”12 Yet NG misleadingly tells us that Gingerich “discovered Pakicetus, a terrestrial mammal” (p. 31). That’s not what he called it when he discovered it and wrote about it in the scientific literature! NG goes on to say that Gingerich now believes that whales are related to antelope based on a “single piece of fossil” found in 2000. It was part of the anklebone of a “new species of whale,” they said. But later they found the other part and realized that it was “an anklebone, from a four-legged whale.” Hold on! When was the last time you saw a “four-legged whale”? Evolutionists are playing language games to call the fins and tail of a whale “legs.” But if, as NG says, the fossil “closely resembled” the anklebone in artiodactyls (hoofed land animals, such as antelopes), then how on earth could this “single piece of fossil evidence” be interpreted as being in any way related to whales? In evolution theory, imagination is king! NG says at this point “this is how science is supposed to work” (p. 31). Really? For more refutation of the supposed fossil evidence for evolution, readers should consult Darwin’s Enigma, Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! and chapter 5 of Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics. Embryology and Morphology Similarity of shape or design can just as well, if not more so, point to a common designer, rather than a common ancestor. Roller skates, bikes, cars, trucks, busses and trains all have wheels, but one is not the ancestor of the other. They are similar because intelligent human designers have all thought that wheels are a good way to move things on land. So too living creatures that share the same planet and are interdependently linked in a complex ecosystem will have many similarities and those which live in very similar environments on earth (e.g., in water or air or on land) will share even more similarities. Our infinitely wise Creator is smarter than all the engineers put together. Good designs can be, and are, easily modified for different applications. But when we take into account the differences in creatures that share common features, the common ancestor argument becomes even more unbelievable. For example, humans and frogs have five digits on their hands, but the developmental patterns in them are vastly different. In humans the fingers develop by programmed cell death in between the digits, whereas in frogs it is by outward growth as cells divide. See more detailed discussion of this in the sixth chapter of Refuting Evolution 2. As for embryos, the development is programmed by the information in the DNA molecule in the fertilized egg. So again the question is where did this information come from for the different kinds of plants and animals? It didn’t come from time and chance and the laws of nature. And we must never lose sight of the evolutionists continued use of Ernst Haeckel’s fraudulent drawings—see Ernst Haeckel: Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit and Fraud rediscovered. Yet, like Darwin and many science textbooks13 and evolutionist books for laymen,14 NG endorses embryonic recapitulation (p. 13). NG claims vestigial characteristics or organs as proof of evolution. These are aspects of the body that are claimed to be useless leftovers from our animal ancestry. There are two problems with this argument. One, the loss of function (through the loss of genetic information) cannot be evidence of the ascendance from a lowly kind of creature up to a higher form (which would require an increase of information). Secondly, nearly all of the 180 “vestigial organs” in man cited by evolutionists as proof of evolution at the turn of the 20th century are now known (because of medical research) to have at least one function. See Chapter 7 of Refuting Evolution 2 and Vestigial Organs Are Fully Functional. In fact, NG ludicrously uses male nipples as proof of evolution (pp. 12–13)—do they think males evolved from a race entirely comprised of breasted-female humans? For an answer, see Male nipples prove evolution? (reply to a skeptic). NG makes a big deal about plants, animals, bacteria and viruses changing to resist herbicides, insecticides and antibiotics. In fact, the article says that “there’s no better or more immediate evidence supporting the Darwinian theory than this process of forced transformation among our inimical germs” (p. 21). But in each cited example we have a certain kind of creature changing into another variety of that same kind of creature. One flu strain changing into another flu strain, or one staph bacterium changing into a different staph bacterium, or one variety of house fly turning into another variety of house fly is not an explanation of where the information to make the flu, staph or house fly came from in the first place. And we always find that the change is actually going in the opposite direction to what evolution requires—see The evolution train’s a-comin’ (Sorry, a-goin’—in the wrong direction). But how does this variation occur? Prominent evolutionist, Francisco Ayala tell us: Insect resistance to a pesticide was first reported in 1947 for the Housefly (Musca domestica) with respect to DDT. Since then resistance to one or more pesticides has been reported in at least 225 species of insects and other arthropods. The genetic variants required for resistance to the most diverse kinds of pesticides were apparently present in every one of the populations exposed to these man-made compounds.15 Research shows that the same can apply to antibiotic resistance. Scientists at the University of Alberta have revived bacteria from members of the historic Franklin expedition who mysteriously perished in the Arctic nearly 150 years ago. Not only are the six strains of bacteria almost certainly the oldest ever revived, says medical microbiologist Dr. Kinga Kowalewska-Grochowska, three of them also happen to be resistant to antibiotics. In this case, the antibiotics clindamycin and cefoxitin, both of which were developed more than a century after the men died, were among those used.16 But many times the changes are due to mutations, which are copying mistakes in the DNA molecule in the process of reproduction. What NG doesn’t tell the readers is that mutations result in a loss of genetic information in the creature. Most mutations are deleterious, if not fatal, to the organism. It is not on the way up (evolving), but on the way down (devolving). Sometimes, the mutation does improve the chance of survival, but it always involves a loss of genetic information. For example, the bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, is troublesome to humans, but doctors can destroy it with an antibiotic. After the patient takes the antibiotic, it is absorbed through the cell wall of the bacterium. It has the genetic information to make an enzyme which reacts with the antibiotic converting it into a poison, killing the bacterium. But due to a mutation, some H. pylori cannot make the enzyme and so cannot convert the antibiotic and so do not die but reproduce, giving the patient and doctor a new problem. The mutant survived through a loss of information, which is not a process that will eventually lead to an increase of information to change a bacterium over millions of years into a biologist. As Dr. Lee Spetner, a Jewish scientist and expert on mutations, has stated in his excellent book, Not by Chance: Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution, pp. 159–60: But all these mutations reduce the information in the gene by making a protein less specific. They add no information and they add no new molecular capability. Indeed, all mutations studied destroy information. None of them can serve as an example of a mutation that can lead to the large changes of macroevolution. ... Whoever thinks macroevolution can be made by mutations that lose information is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume. So much for mutations being any help to the evolutionist. Just like natural selection, they don’t produce the new genetic information that the theory requires. But like natural selection, mutations fit perfectly with what the Bible teaches. They are the result of the curse of God on creation when Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:20, Romans 8:20–22). NG is simply “hurling elephants” at their readers when it says that additional evidence for evolution comes from “population genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and ... genomics” (p. 20). Readers will see the insurmountable problems for evolution from biochemistry in Michael Behe’s (Ph.D. university biochemist) Darwin’s Black Box. For an agnostic, university molecular biologist’s strictly scientific evaluation of evolution, see Michael Denton’s Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (particularly chapter 10). Darwinism and religion NG wraps things up by asserting that “no one needs to, and no one should, accept evolution merely as a matter of faith” (p. 8). But that is precisely what most of the world, including most scientists (who are just laymen outside their own field of expertise), have done. Evolution is believed because it appears to be scientific due to “smoke and mirrors” arguments and because it gives people an excuse for not submitting to their Creator. As Romans 1:18–20 says, people suppress the truth in unrighteousness. But what is Darwin’s theory’s relationship to religion? Certainly, a person can believe in a vaguely defined “religion” and in evolution at the same time (see Is evolution “anti-religion”? It depends). NG claims the compatibility of evolution with papal pronouncements and Roman Catholic dogma (p. 6). However, as far as the likes of NG are concerned, when the Pope says you can believe in evolution, he’s an enlightened religious leader who should be heeded. But when he speaks on the sanctity of human life from conception and marriage, and thus opposes abortion and homosexual behavior, then he’s just an old bigot who should keep his religion to himself. But even the NG’s premise can be debated. There are Roman Catholics who don’t believe evolution or millions of years is compatible with their faith (or true science). For example, most of the scientists in the video Evolution ... Fact or Belief? and in the geology video Experiments in Stratification are Catholic. But the real issue is whether the theory of millions of years of evolution is compatible with the Creator’s Word, the Bible. For two centuries, young-earth creationists have shown clearly that it is not. See The Great Turning Point, Refuting Compromise, Creation and Change, and these articles: Two histories of death, Two world-views in conflict and The god of an old earth. Conclusion NG is wrong that scientific evidence proves goo-to-you-via-the-zoo evolution. The evidence has never supported Darwin’s theory, which is why an increasing number of Ph.D. scientists and well-informed laymen and students are rejecting what they have been taught (brainwashed) in schools, museums, TV science programs and in National Geographic all their lives. Darwin was partially right about natural selection explaining the origin of species. But because he didn’t pay attention to the Bible (but rather rejected it because of his rebellion against his Creator), he didn’t understand that speciation is simply the God-designed way for the original supernaturally created kinds to produce wonderful variety and perpetuate themselves in the changing environments of a sin-cursed world that would be radically changed by a global year-long Flood at the time of Noah. The Bible fits the facts, which explains why an increasing number of Ph.D. scientists are creationists—see In Six Days, On the Seventh Day, The Genesis Files and our website section Creation scientists and other biographies of interest. Evolution doesn’t agree with the scientific evidence. It cannot stand careful scrutiny, which is why evolutionists have to use political and academic power and legal intimidation to keep criticisms of evolution out of public schools. In fact, the atheistic anti-creationist Eugenie Scott tacitly admitted that if students were presented such criticisms, they might end up not believing it! In my opinion, using creation and evolution as topics for critical-thinking exercises in primary and secondary schools is virtually guaranteed to confuse students about evolution and may lead them to reject one of the major themes in science.17 It is sad to see that Philip Gingerich is an evolutionist, and not a Bible-believing Christian, today because his church didn’t teach him correctly. He said, “I grew up in a conservative church in the Midwest and was not taught anything about evolution. The subject was clearly skirted.” (p. 31) Churches that don’t equip their youth and adults to deal with the myth of evolution are likely to see them deceived by articles like this one in NG and many of them will drift away from the truth of God’s Word. Why should Christians continue to subscribe to a magazine like National Geographic that persistently writes deceptively untruthful articles to push an anti-god agenda? Instead, subscribe to Creation magazine—56 pages of full color, understandable, truthful articles, coming four times per year, and with no paid advertising. A gift subscription for a Christian or an unbeliever would make a great Christmas present.