Life Without Evolution
A comprehensive deconstruction of Darwin’s creation story presented in 3 research essays. And introducing an alternative, the Creationary Synthesis.
by Nicolas Spencer Brown – First published online July 2018, last updated April 2023.
These essays are in support of the minority argument that the process of Darwinian evolution – natural selection acting on chance variation – fails to provide a plausible explanation for the origins of biological complexity and higher level biodiversity. Without a viable mechanism, the status of evolutionary theory is greatly diminished. Challenges to the adequacy of the established model – common descent through gradual accumulation of genetic mutations – do not simply come from advocates of creationism and intelligent design, but from theorists and researchers within the biological sciences who call for an expansion or replacement of old ideas. Yet no alternative mechanism for building the extraordinary structural variety of living forms has been convincingly demonstrated, suggesting that the mystery of biological origins continues to elude material science.
The essays further support the view that the prevailing evolutionary global paradigm is rooted more in materialistic philosophy than in empirical science, and is therefore wholly incompatible with all forms of religious and spiritual learning.
The Creationary Synthesis
The time has come to admit that material science has not only failed to explain the origin of first life, but the origin of the genetic code, the origin of biological complexity, the origin of biodiversity, and the origin of consciousness; and to stop pretending that it has. There are two possibilities for the future: either physical science will one day be able to account for all the secrets of life, or it will not. For those who believe in – or know of – any kind of spiritual existence, whether it be God, an afterlife, reincarnation, an eternal soul, or just some kind of cosmic consciousness or purpose, the former is a delusory ambition: science could never fully explain ‘everything’.
Proponents of intelligent design and progressive creation (and to some extent natural teleology and vitalism), do not today believe that every specie was created out of thin air, never subsequently to undergo any change at all. Rather, there was a long developmental history to life brought about by both material and transcendent forces working together. This is what Alfred Russel Wallace (cofounder of the theory of natural selection) believed, and what I am now rejuvenating as the Creationary Synthesis. It is not a scientific theory; it is a philosophical approach that recognises the limitations of the scientific method. To those with an open-minded disposition and a high regard for humility, it offers a solution to the entrenched warfare between evolutionists and creationists.
Ever since the general acceptance of natural law evolution (as a replacement for supernatural creation), which took hold in the West in the 1860s, matured with the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis through the 1920s, 30s and 40s, and culminated in the arrival of the ‘selfish gene’ in the 1970s, innumerable authors have questioned its mechanistic principles from the points of view of a wide range of disciplines. What is perhaps unique in this work is the focus on language; in particular, the manipulation of language to blur the boundaries between fact, theory and belief, in order to support an institutionalised dogma. The term ‘evolution’ has become so loaded with philosophical and pseudoscientific baggage, that it no longer has any clear and precise meaning in either science or philosophy. The conclusion drawn, which will feel unpalatable to some but liberating to others, is that a better understanding of life – whether it be the history of life, contemporary biology, or the meaning of your own life – is achieved by avoiding the word ‘evolution’ altogether. By rejecting the cynical and materialistic Darwinian scientific paradigm that has surreptitiously infected global humanity, the reward is to rediscover the spiritual magic and mystery that permeates life and your own life; to rediscover ‘life without evolution’.
The Evolutionary World View
Historians, philosophers, sociologists and scientists all point to one book that, more than any other, changed the way humanity understood its own existence: Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, first published in 1859. Human beings could no longer be regarded as the intentional creation of a divine mind, and now appeared to be merely the result of purposeless natural forces playing upon chance. The position of Homo sapiens as ‘special’ or ‘privileged’ in the hierarchy of nature became demoted to ‘the ape that got lucky’. And the implications were not to end there, for it was not only the physical attributes of animals that had arisen through adaptation, but the higher mental faculties too. Virtues such as morality, altruism, and even love, had no realism, and existed as a function of their bare survival benefits. Ultimately we were to discover that our totality – mind and body – represented the outward expression of chemical genes, which now replaced God as the choreographers of life. Such is the mastery of these molecular units, that free will cannot endure as a concept, and consciousness itself is believed to be all but illusion. The human essence is reduced to the hard logic of genes and memes, and no longer to an ethereal soul. This is the established evolutionary world view that has come to dominate contemporary science and philosophy, and has also profoundly influenced everyday popular thinking.
The idea of evolution, formerly known as ‘transformism’ or ‘progressive development’, was conceived of by others before Darwin; but it was the mechanism he named natural selection that convinced people that the mutability of species was a feasible possibility. Much has been clarified and expanded upon in the two centuries since The Origin was released upon the world, but natural selection remains the foundation of evolutionary theory. Yet doubts and problems persist with this framework. While many have applauded natural selection as one of the greatest ideas ever to have emerged in the history of human thought, others have been far less convinced of its scientific explanatory power. Simply put, selection can only select from what is already there. No gene, trait or variation is generated by natural selection, and the first member of each new specie must already exist before it can be preserved and allowed to multiply. An old teaser directed at the doctrine of natural selection is being increasingly heard again today: selection explains survival, but not the arrival!
The modern evolutionary synthesis of natural selection and genetics, still frequently referred to as neo-Darwinism, identifies mutation as the source of all variation. But there are difficulties with this supposition as well. It has proven impossible to demonstrate that complex, integrated biological systems can arise through the gradual accumulation of small genetic changes.
Another central element of evolutionary theory is the principle of universal common ancestry: the notion that all living forms descended from one single primordial unicellular organism, through transmutation and divergence brought about by natural law processes. This is no unreasonable hypothesis to advance when considering lines of development from the most simple to the most complex; but the process requires a verifiable mechanism, and if selection and mutation fail to fulfil that requirement, no alternative proposal is currently available.
The primary aim of Life Without Evolution is to support and build upon the efforts of many previous authors in detailing the explanatory gaps in neo-Darwinian theory, and exposing the inflated intellectual confidence it seems to feed. It is at best an inadequate account of biological origins, and at worst a confection of pseudoscience. Consequently, we should not be basing world views about the meaning of life and the significance of humanity on a train of false assumptions. A second, but no less important argument echoed in this work, is that evolutionary ‘theory’ is premised as much upon philosophy as upon natural science, and the philosophy it follows is antithetical to all forms of religious and spiritual thinking. For Christians, this means that the idea of a blind, mindless, undirected creation, cannot rationally coexist with the idea of a forward-planning, miracle-performing, designer god.
It is not within my ability to offer any empirical alternative for the origins of the biosphere, just as I could not account for the origins of the cosmos itself. I state only, and with due humility, that questions of ultimate existence remain a mystery, and that material science alone is probably an insufficient course of enquiry. However, one intriguing question remains that can be addressed with worldly wisdom. If evolution is a flawed theory, then why do the great majority of scientists, and, apparently, a fair majority of religious adherents, maintain faith in it?
“There is no controversy about evolution within science” is the line resolutely pronounced by spokespersons for the public understanding of science. The laws of biology, they unwaveringly reaffirm, have decreed that evolution is a fact, and that the primary mechanism of evolution – natural selection – has been satisfactorily explained and repeatedly observed. Evolution is not questioned by any scientist, they maintain, only by religious people. And yet anyone committed to a more thorough research of the scientific literature will discover that a significant minority of biologists, geneticists and paleontologists continue to question the accepted mechanism of evolution. So it is not quite true to say there is no controversy about evolution in science, or to claim that the mechanism of evolutionary change has been established beyond doubt. Challenges to evolutionary theory have always arisen from within the sciences, as well as without.
But there is a far greater implication here. If a proportion of legitimate scientists doubt the adequacy of long held mechanistic theories, then the scientific certainty ascribed to evolution – as a unified explanatory whole – begins to dissolve. This line of thinking becomes increasingly more uncomfortable for those devoted to the evolution-has-all-been-explained doctrine. Persisting doubts within science about how evolution could have happened will inevitably perpetuate doubts beyond science about whether evolution could have happened. Polls taken in America and Europe consistently show (for whatever reasons) that sizable percentages of the population do not accept, to some extent or other, accounts of evolution. For fear of spreading further doubt, members of the evolution fraternity (whose careers and reputations depend on the credibility of their science) have a clear motive for suppressing controversy within their ranks, and for extending this censorship to the education system and the public arena.
The usual presentation of evolution as ‘more or less explained with only the details missing’, is not an opinion shared by all. By bringing out into the open dissenting views, competing theories and disputed topics concerning, not merely the minor details, but some of the major tenets of evolutionary teaching, it is my hope to encourage other independent thinkers to form a rather different, and more honest opinion of the science.
I should state clearly at the outset that most of the quotations I use from scientific and educational sources relate to debates and disagreements about how evolution happens, and not about if evolution happens. Authors and researchers who diverge from the orthodox view are not usually questioning what they perceive to be the ‘fact’ of evolution. Yet it is this notion of ‘fact’ that is so troublesome. If the process of evolution is still unexplained, then in what sense is it a fact? It means little to simply declare “evolution happened” when what happened is unknown; or to concede that “life must have evolved somehow”, a thought hardly more profound than “life must have got here somehow”. Such bland truisms elucidate nothing! More than two centuries after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed the first reasoned theory of transformism, biology is still searching for a general theory of origins that does not attract controversy.
What does ‘Life Without Evolution’ (LWE) mean?
LWE refers to the observation that most of life, most of the time, is not evolving into new species. Whether recorded through the historical or the prehistoric, most species remain more or less unchanged for long, or very long periods of time. Life is not continually evolving – except in a trivial sense – and no evolution is the norm.
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