The origin of the theory about the origin of life
2. HOW DID IT GET THIS FAR
2.2 Why was Darwin received with open arms?
2.3 Why is the evolution theory so popular right now?
Charles Darwin is not the inventor of the evolution theory. What did he have that others did not? Why have his ideas grown to be so popular? Why is the evolution theory so popular today? Is that because it is just simply Pure Biological Truth? Or do other issues also play a role?
2.1 How Darwin arrived at his theory
Charles Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos Archipelago led to the publication of his book The origin of species by means of natural selection (or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life) on November 24, 1859. The wide variety of finches and turtles he observed on the islands, led him to conceive a mechanism for the origin of species (the idea of evolution already existed). In this process, Darwin gratefully used other people’s ideas and data which were vital in his day.
From the book An Essay on the principle of population by Malthus, he learned the following, later known as the law of Malthus: the population grows faster (exponential growth) than the resources (linear growth), which finally results in a massive death toll. Darwin developed the concept of the struggle for existence, which later became better known as the struggle for life.
From the book Principles of geology by Charles Lyell, Darwin understood that the changes in the Earth’scrust, such as erosion, were supposedly the result of forceswhich are still active, and have been for a long time. This principle is called actualism, in contrast to one-time catastrophic forces. At the time, it was a revelation. He also applied that principle to the living nature, by postulating that it is controlled by forces which always function in the same way.
Lyell also proposed that, as a result of geological or climatological changes, the environment of a species of animal can be altered. The animal can react to this in three ways:
- by migrating by
- becoming extinct
- or by adapting.
Darwin hit upon the ingenious thought that since, according to Malthus, extinction is never total, the most adapted individuals survive. It is not extinction or adaptation, it is adaptation through extinction. In other words, considering that many varieties of one species will have to die in the struggle for existence, those varieties which have adapted the most to the new circumstances have the highest chance of survival. It is called adaptation.
Darwin’s next step was: then how do animals change? For this question, he took a look at breeders, because they are able to continually get new plants and animals. A breeder works like this: from one brood, he selects the offspring which most resemble what he wants to have, and breeds them further. The other offspring are destroyed. The breeders use artificial breeding; in living nature, it works along the same principle: natural breeding. Later, this term was replaced by natural selection.
Another scientist, Alfred Russell Wallace, was working on the same problem, the origin of species, and published an article, twelve pages long. This contained the Serawak Law, which states that a new species does not simply appear from nowhere, but originates at the place where another closely related species had existed previously and up to that point in time. The new species is descended from the old, cannot differ significantly from the old species, and replaces the old species.
Wallace later wrote an essay, in which he described the principle of divergence as a law. All descendants of a parental pair are different from each other, and their offspring are also different from each other. This results in an infinite variety in further reproduction. This was an important principle for Darwin’s concept of descendance; since a species does not naturally display a tendency towards endless variety, natural selection is fairly impotent.
The end result is this:
1. The law of Malthus, struggle for life
There are too many offspring, which cannot all survive.
2. The principle of Lyell, the beginning of actualism
Environments change constantly and gradually.
3. The law of Wallace, principle of divergence
There is spontaneous and infinite variation in successive generations.
Darwin, natural selection, survival of the fittest
Animals which adapt the least become extinct; animals which adapt the best survive.
One important point was that, at that time, people believed that God had created the earth and the living creatures on it exactly as they appeared at that moment. The whole idea that the earth could be subjected to change and that a species could change or adapt was unthinkable.
An important question which arises from this is why Wallace’s law stipulates infinite variation. That idea was definitely not based on observation!
What Darwin discovered is how different alternatives of a species can originate in Living nature. What he didn’t discover is how the species themselves originated. That was an idea he came up with (or got from his contemporaries, who were also working on this issue), prompted by his discovery.
The logic actually goes like this:
1. In living nature, we see spontaneous variation
2. This proceeds infinitely.
3. So the species themselves originated from each other (or from a common ancestor).
4. This represents a progression from simple to complex.
5. Therefore, everything must have started with a unicellular organism.
6. This is only possible if it took an unbelievably long time.
7. So that must be true. It did take an unbelievably long time.
8. Evolution exists (or existed)
9. All other issues must therefore be seen from an evolutionary perspective: geology (fossils and geological layers), embryology, later astronomy (the Big Bang), and the recent favorites, psychology and sociology, etc.
Where does this go wrong?
In history, it went wrong from the very beginning. Everyone thought that spontaneous variation did not exist, and therefore had great difficulty accepting Darwin’s discoveries. This resulted in a division, in which one group defended an indefensible point of view (there is no variation) and the other went too far (the species themselves also originated from each other). For the most part, the evolution theory has gotten the upper hand.
2.2 Why was Darwin received with open arms?
Long before Darwin, the idea was proposed that species could change into other species. Various Greek philosophers have supported this. Lactantius, who lived from 260 to 330 AD (!), wrote:
Some people teach that the first men lived nomadic lives among the woods and plains. They were not united by any bond of speech or laws. Instead, they lived in caves and grottos, using leaves and grass for their beds. They were prey for the beasts and stronger animals. Eventually, those who had escaped, having been torn [by wild beasts]… sought out the company of other men for protection. At first they communicated to each other by nods; then they tried elementary forms of speech. By attaching names to various objects, they little by little developed a system of speech.
Lactanius, Institutes, book 6, chapter 10. (quoted from www.bible.ca/h-darwin.htm)
Around the turn of the 18th century, various naturalists proposed a sort of evolution. Lamarck (1744-1829) is the best-known; he published his thoughts in the year Darwin was born (1809). However, that idea of a common ancestry never caught on ..until Darwin. What did Darwin have that the others didn’t? Why was he the one who achieved the breakthrough?a) Darwin’s observations of variations absolutely did not agree with the theories, generally accepted at the time, about static life forms.
Of course, Darwin did discover something: how in living nature different varieties can originate, just as they can originate artificially if they are bred, because humans provide selection. Nearly all the natural scientists of that time, even the atheists like Lyell, thought that little or no variation occurred in living nature, or could occur. Darwin proved the opposite. His opponents’ point of view was therefore no longer viable.
b) Because there is no longer a need for a Creator to explain the earth’s origins.
It is almost inconceivable how significant this argument was. Before Darwin, you could think or claim there was no God, but it could never be argued. There were always difficult questions about where life would have come from and so on. With Darwin’s theory of evolution, it became possible to support unbelief or atheism. Is it then understandable that some people (for example Karl Marx) were waiting for something like this?
c) It provided a tool with which one could resist the church in areas of politics, belief, and sexuality.
Other than a rational (meaning intellectual) breaking away from belief in a God, a rational breaking away from the hold of the church on society is of course also possible. That trend came into existence with the arrival of Darwin’s ideas, and is still not completely gone.
d)The politics of that time needed Darwin’s theories as a basis or confirmation of their own theories.
This will surprise you, but I really didn’t make it up. I will summarize, in my own words, what Prof. Jan Hendrik van de Berg writes about that in his book Koude rillingen over de rug van Darwin (Cold shivers down Darwin’s back).
Most of the political movements of that time can be put into three categories: Marxism, liberalism, and National Socialism.
- Karl Marx immediately annexed Darwin’s book. His ideas on the struggle between the classes, the struggle of the workers against the ruling aristocracy, corresponded perfectly with Darwin’s concept of struggle for life.
- Liberalism could use Darwin’s ideas very well if they were applied to economy: let the economy follow its own course; like living nature, it will take care of itself, and he who is best prepared will prevail over his competitors.
- Hitler’s National Socialism, up to and including the Endlösung, is the consequence of a logical application of Darwin’s principles on the human race.
Our present political system came into existence in Darwin’s time. Until then, the bourgeoisie (the rich) ruled over the proletariat (the people, the workers). The idea of democracy developed at that time: all men are equal. In this, democracy is anti-Darwin, since Darwin says that everything is different and that the strongest will win. Because people are in fact not the same ( equal, but that is something else), out of that original idea of democracy comes immediate formation of parties, of people who are reasonably equal. These political parties are Darwinistic: they compete with each other in the struggle for (political) existence.
e) It gives an argument for giving in to animal(!) lusts.
This is also an interesting one, which might not be expected. As you can understand, the way we handle sex these days is totally different than 150 years ago. It hasn’t been that long since the public display of a bare breast was completely unthinkable. In Darwin’s time, things were much stricter. Sex was something spiritual or romantic. For us, is has become purely physical. That doesn’t change the fact that people had the same kinds of lusts then as now. Darwin gave them a rational argument to give sexual desire a free rein and to experience things differently. Of course, this was not caused only by Darwin. Social developments of the time were reinforced by Darwin’s story.
What many people do not know is that Darwin’s second book, The descent of Man, is actually called The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex. He writes on page 13 of Part II:
The whole process of that most important function, there production of the species, is strikingly the same in all mammals, from the first act of courtship by the male, to the birth and nurturing of the young. Monkeys are born in almost as helpless a condition as our own infants.
That comparison between human and animal love was definitely new and shocking in his time. For us, it is a common idea.
f) Darwin published his book after the Romantic period, when Realism controlled public thought. In Romanticism, spirit and emotion were praised, but Realism replaced these with admiration for material things and rationalism.
Romanticism and Realism designate periods in literature and art history. Realism expressed a need for an “integral and objective representation, even of the most banal reality.A treatise on the origin of human life in a purely natural, animal (and therefore banal?) manner fits very well in such a cultural turnover. 
g) It knocks man off his pedestal, which corresponds well with Realism’s reduced concept of humanity.
Where Romanticism was, among other things, the "cult of feeling" en "the triumph of individuality as a reflection of the divine”, during the Realist period people were less inclined to think highly of man. It was the time of the Napoleonic Wars, with their bloody battlefields, which were the inspiration for Henry Dunant to found the Red Cross. It was the time of Florence Nightingale, who wrote practical instructions for nurses.Darwin painted man as animal-like, not god-like.
What should we think of these things?
Darwin’s ideas fit with, or can be applied to, the following areas:
- religion or anti-religion, atheism;
- psychology (concept of man
Darwin’s theory was not accepted only because of biological reasons, or because it is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. On the contrary, you can see from the quantity of the above points and their all-encompassing living nature that Darwin came at the right moment.
2.3 Why is the evolution theory so popular right now?
(Some points will show a resemblance to the previous paragraph.)
Why does it seem as if the discussion about evolution or creation is over? It is completely accepted that the evolution theory is the only serious explanation for the origin of life and therefore a part of the required material. You are completely ridiculous if you think that God created the world. Why is the evolution theory so popular?
a) We don’t know any better
As a student in school or university, unless you have had a very emphatic upbringing in which you heard the creationist side of the story, you just have no information about the evidence opposing evolution."There are not many schools where both stories are told. In various documentaries and living nature series on television, it is present as a hypothesis. “Sharks have been surviving for thirty million years,” a commentator’s voice says on a Discovery program. If you hear that often enough, who are you to say it isn’t true? And if someone claims it isn’t true, then of course he is immediately wrong, because the whole world accepts it!
Nearly all present-day scientific and popular science books and magazines tell nothing but the evolution theory. We grew up with it, we heard it from early childhood onwards, we hear almost nothing about the other side, in other words: we don’t know any better.
b) It is the only serious explanation
It is often said that belief and science are at odds. Either you believe, or you are a scientist, not both. And you are free to believe, but science is down-to-earth and reliable and contains a greater percentage of truth than belief. But how many scientific arguments or evidence against the evolution theory have you heard (they do exist)? Probably not even one. If you have heard arguments, they were most probably weak derivatives from a proponent of the evolution theory, who immediately explains why this could not be true.
c) There aren’t many choices
There aren’t ten theories you can choose from. And those that exist, are practically unknown. There are quite a few alternative variations on the evolution theory, but most of those are also almost unknown, and the main point (everything came from unicellular organisms) is the same
d) The alternative is unacceptable
The alternative means that you believe in:
- a Magician who Waves a Wand
- God as Explanation-For-As-Yet-Unsolved-Physics-Problems, the ‘God of the gaps’
- Adam and Eve!!!!!
e) The simplicity of the basic principles
The basic ideas are simple to explain to a layman. Biology and physics are difficult subjects. Most people do not know much about them. The evolution theory can be broken down in a very basic sketch and is therefore easily digested. Quantum mechanics (even though many people may have heard at least the name) will never be as popular as the Big Bang, because it is much too complex.
f) It appeals to the imagination
If you close your eyes, you can see the Big Bang, almost taste the primeval genetic soup You can imagine how fish crawled onto the land and became reptiles. These days there are morphing-programs available for the computer. You can even change your girlfriend into a cat, so you can definitely change a reptile into a bird.
It leaves room for imagination. With the basic principles as a beginning, you can create lots of variety (very appropriate word). It is also a rich source of inspiration for artists in the areas of literature, films, advertisement, sculpture, etc. You might see, for example, a caveman in a bearskin with a big club chasing mammoths over the prairie while shouting incomprehensibly. Lovely! Even scientists allow themselves to be seduced by fantasies. One professor claimed in a documentary that the reason people are aggressive is because we still have traces of dinosaur brains in our heads! The problem is that a statement like that is impossible to test, and therefore very unscientific, and therefore only based on belief. (And I had never heard that man was descended from dinosaurs?!)
Photo 1, American Museum of Natural History, Homo ergaster
g) It is too complex
Discussion between proponents and opponents almost always gets bogged down in a discussion of details. The greater the knowledge involved, the more involved and niggling the discussion becomes. A well-informed layman is soon unable to follow it at all. Facts, forget ‘evidence’ (whether for or against), can hardly be checked. Little choice remains but to simply believe...
h) There is evolution!
But the word evolution is confusing in this context. It should be variation. Variation exists and new variation can come into existence. Others call this micro-evolution. We can observe in Living nature that species with the same origin, for example a primordial wolf, can develop to look very different from each other if they reproduce outside their original population, like a snow fox and a dachshund. As a result, we think that there is a common origin for all species. That is also called evolution. But there is a huge difference between that kind of ‘evolution’ and variation (as we shall see).
i) Unbelievable technical progress is being made
This may surprise you, but the world we live in changes every day. If you buy a computer today, it will be obsolete within six months. Incredible progress is being made in almost all areas of science. The rate of progress now is very different than in the past. The Middle Ages encompass the period from 500 to 1500, during which life passed in almost the same circumstances, without any major changes. But in our time, everything happens at a furious pace, and it keeps getting faster. You can see a clear progression! We feel that we keep going upwards, that we continually evolve. Compare us with the people of the Middle Ages. Aren’t we more civilized than they were? We are superior. We have automobiles and Walkmans, and we have been to the moon!
However, that is not evolution. Evolution is 'lower' species developing into higher species by natural selection. The modern Western man, however, is not a higher species than men in the Middle Ages, or aborigines. We could still create offspring with them (okay, that is a bit difficult with people from the Middle Ages, but still). The progression we see is in the knowledge we accumulate. Some things are discovered because someone devoted his entire life to discovering it. We learn about his discoveries from two lines in a textbook. Something which is discovered today doesn’t need to be discovered tomorrow. That is why our knowledge rests on the shoulders of our ancestors. We have the ability to go much farther than they did, but we do have to work hard for it. We need to study hard to understand all the groundwork done before our time. If an aborigine child grew up in the Netherlands, he would be able (depending on his upbringing) to be a good engineer.
This technical progress has nothing to do with evolution, but does create the feeling that an evolution is happening, a kind of intellectual evolution.
j) Evolution is always presented by people who know more than we do
Teachers, professors, biologists, scientists. Who are we to contradict them? If we are capable of raising objections, then they are easily able to refute them because of their greater knowledge. We have no clear understanding of what they are saying, and therefore cannot refute them in return. As a result, if it sounds reasonable, it is probably right.
An impression of inviolability accompanies the evolution theory. Anything labeled as science is seen as having a mark of quality and guarantee, and people have the tendency to believe in it. The man in the white lab coat is always right and is very believable (advertising companies also make use of this more than willingly).
k) It gives freedom
Natural selection does not create obligations. The evolution theory reduces humans to ‘complex biochemical-genetic life forms’. Everything that makes a man a man can therefore be reduced to genetic information or biochemical processes. There is no morality, no law, no responsibility, no good or evil, no guilt. Man is free to do what he wants. He is his own god.
l) It gives man purely physical, bodily, ‘animal’ sex
(Or to put it more mildly: it gives free sex)
Because it even justifies the deeper darker lusts which lurk in the hearts of men by declaring them natural. The evolution theory says: it’s natural, it’s biological, it’s healthy, it’s supposed to be this way, go ahead, you don’t have to be ashamed, just do it. There are no limits, because it is all determined by natural selection.It also explains the urge to commit adultery: he has to pass on his genes. And, very popular these days, even the sperm is involved in this. As soon as it comes into contact with someone else’s sperm, a sort of spermatological war begins with roadblock-cells, attackers, and roadrunners or something like that, in other words, it is now scientifically proven that even sperm is prepared for adultery, so why should we resist?!
m) It is not necessary to believe in God (anymore)
There is a need or a will not to believe in God! The evolution theory satisfies that need. The evolution theory explains everything. We don’t need God anymore. We can save ourselves. Literally.The evolution theory explains the origin of matter, time, space, life, the species, man; only the origin of the natural laws and forces of physics which are supposed to have caused all of this have not yet been explained. Anyone can explain anything they want. Do you want an explanation for the brown coat of a deer? It is camouflage so it will blend in. Do you want an explanation for its white tail? That’s so it can choose to stand out, so that its young will see it.
n) All scientists believe in evolution
That’s a good one. People think that all self-respecting scientists believe in the evolution theory. It is true that almost all scientific publications, the ‘real’ ones and the popular-science magazines, have an evolutionary point of view. Most textbooks also have that point of view. The museums I know which deal with the origin of the earth also have an evolutionary slant. That’s a powerful argument. Still, I would like to defuse things a bit. I personally know quite a few people who have gotten scientific degrees and/or fill scientific positions and do not believe in the evolution theory at all.
To begin with, I come from a family of doctors.
- My father, for example, was a general practitioner, and as such was quite aware of the biological functions of the human body. He is a Christian and believes in a Creator.
- My brother also studied medicine, and works at Lilly, a pharmaceutics company, where he heads the worldwide research for a cure for osteoporosis, a loss of calcium in the bones, affecting older women. He thinks it is a shame that all documentation on dinosaurs has a evolutionary slant (because of his small son who is about the age to be interested).
Furthermore, there are many scientists who work for Philips who go to the church in Eindhoven that I go to. One example:
- Jan Bok is an engineer in physics whose team discovered the energy-conserving light bulb. He thinks that the evolution theory raises some impossible intellectual problems for us.
There are also scientists who openly express their disbelief regarding the evolution idea in publications:
- Ben Hobrink is a biologist and wrote a book: Evolutie - Een ei zonder kip. (Evolution – An egg without a chicken)
- Dr. Walt Brown, a mechanical engineer, has an interesting Internet site at http://www.creationscience.com about geology.
- Professor dr.dr.dr. Ouweneel (he has doctorates in philosophy, biology and theology). He has published many books on a wide variety of subjects, including psychology, evolution, and occultism.
It seems like one camp doesn’t know (or want to know) about what the other is doing, and vice versa. A sort of denominational segregation. A sort of Us and Them. If you are in one denomination, everything from the other denomination is stupid, unscientific, the evil world, not to be taken seriously, and the list goes on. On the other hand, not all non-Christian scientists believe undividedly in the evolution theory:
- Michael Denton, who has a degree in molecular biology, wrote the book Evolution: a theory in crisis. A quote: ‘Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more or less than the great cosmic myth of the twentieth century.’
- John Boslough, a ‘leading American scientific journalist’, wrote [Masters van de tijd], in which he explains that the present, very precise data from the universe means that the Big Bang theory finally has to be discarded.
- In 1980, the Macro Evolution Congress was held in Seattle, with this shocking conclusion: there is evolution on a small scale (micro-evolution, or variation on a theme), but not on a large scale (macro-evolution).
- Niles Eldridge and James Gould launched their momentarily generally accepted Punctuated Equilibrium theory which says that evolution can no longer be seen as gradual, but must have happened in spurts.
- Michael J. Behe recently wrote Darwin’s Black Box. He is a biochemist and not a creationist, he argues that the biochemical machinery must have been designed!
- In America, Gallup does a regular survey on how people see the origin of life. In 1993, 47% chose for creation alone, 35% for creation and evolution, 11% for evolution alone, and 7% had no opinion. In a survey among chemists in 1988, 52% indicated that “supernatural intervention played a role”, and 48% chose “it is possible that humans evolve from a primordial soup” (Walt Brown, In the Beginning, pp. 203).
In other words: many people believe that all scientists say it is like that. It is clear that the evolutionary viewpoint is dominant (in magazines and schoolrooms) and it tends to dismiss all other possibilities as unscientific, but it is simply untrue that there is only one undisputed scientific viewpoint.
There are greatly differing reasons why people believe in the evolution theory. It is definitely not the case that only biological truth hangs in the balance. It also involves (or has consequences for) how you think about God, or about people, or sex, life after death, abortion, about your career (survival of the fittest or live and let live), etc. Pretty comprehensive. Changing how you think about the evolution theory has many consequences. That’s why the issue is often not the search for truth, but the search for the consequences of one truth or another.
That is also the reason it is so difficult to have a serious discussion about facts. Facts are not the issue. Evolutionists will always have the feeling: “You want to convert me. You are a religious freak, so I cannot take you seriously. You think I should believe in a Creator.” People who believe in a Creator will always feel that “You just don’t want to see the truth, scientific or not.”
If you realize the extent of these matters (why the evolution idea was so well received, why it is so popular, what aspects of life it affects), you see the contours of a religion appearing. A godless religion. A religion aims to control all aspects of its followers lives, or, to put it differently, man tries to find a religion which gives him what he wants in all aspects of his life (why else would he follow it?). The point of the evolution theory is that man gets what he wants: his freedom. Problems do come with it, moral problems for instance, but we take the bad with the good. We try as good and as bad as possible to live with it.
The entire problem of the lack of standards and values in our society and the urgent necessity of public social discussion on that problem is caused by the general acceptance of the evolutionary theory.
We raised our children, brought them up with the idea from the beginning, that we are creatures created only by natural selection, with the logical consequence that we are amoral. The promises of this godless religion or philosophy we follow are wonderful. The price will be paid now and in the years to come. Despite all social discussion, the population will only lose standards and values. The standards that still exist are often Christian standards, but the foundation for maintaining these standards has been removed. The coming generations will be even less inclined to maintain the standards themselves. And for that we have the evolution theory and Darwin to thank.
- Charles Darwin is not the inventor of the evolution theory.
- Charles Darwin discovered a mechanism by which variation originates in living nature.
- Charles Darwin did not discover how the species themselves originated.
- There were many social, cultural, and especially political circumstances which made it possible for Darwin’s ideas to gain attention. It is definitely not only about Biological Truth.
- The reason the evolution theory is so popular right now is because it gives man freedom, specifically moral and sexual freedom.