Can You Trust Your Textbook?
Author: Ian Taylor
1. Public school textbooks on Biology, Earth sciences, and Human society generally well-present the facts; it is the interpretation of those facts that is currently under fire and of concern. Without exception, the interpretation is from the evolutionary perspective and serves to colour the very words that are used in the text. Textbooks on Human anthropology are notoriously bad in this respect. However, this presentation is concerned especially with the slim chapter present in virtually every Biology textbook and usually titled “The Evidences for Evolution.” The subtitles in these notes will be recognizable in most Biology textbooks.
2. The Geologic Column. The text tells the student that fossils of simple life forms are found in the lowest strata of sedimentary rock then become more complex as the strata become more recent. Usually, there is a diagram of the geologic column with illustrations of sea-bed life forms at the bottom then in rising order: fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and finally man at the top. This all looks very convincing except that the life forms shown are not those used by the geologist to identify the rocks but are simply meant to indicate life believed to be typical of those particular eras of earth’s history. The reader would naturally perceive this to be the evidence for evolution and indeed, the textbook will claim the fossil order to be the most powerful evidence. Geologists actually use “index” fossils, a series of marine crustaceans, brachiopods, clams etc. all of which are very small, to identify and thus date the rocks. Geologists do not use the fish, the amphibian, the reptile etc. because these are often out of order or missing entirely. When the index fossils are out of order, geologists speak of the strata as an “unconformity” i.e. it does not conform to the theory. The order consistently found in the fossil record is admitted to be: the sudden appearance of perfected forms, absence of transitional forms and “adaptive radiation” all of which totally denies that evolution ever took place.
3. Homology. In comparing the anatomy of one mammal with another, it is very evident that parts of the body are built to the same basic plan. The fore limbs of the human, the whale and the bat are often cited as examples. This can be interpreted in two ways: Either, they are the best possible structure to accomplish the varied tasks to which these mammalian forelimbs are put and thus evidence for intelligent design or, they are the persistence of the basic pattern as evidence of inheritance from a common ancestor. The second explanation is based upon assumed relatedness and is central to Darwinian evolution. It means that as life forms have evolved from a common ancestor, there should have been millions of intermediate or transitional forms between those descendant forms we know today. The fossil record should show this but in fact all that has ever been seen is each life form appearing suddenly and in perfection. There is no sign of gradual change as fin changes to limb and limb to wing. Such changes would in any case violate the “survival of the fittest” principle since having a partially formed wing would render the creature less fit to survive. Darwin lamented that the absence of intermediate fossils was the weakest part of his theory and this is being echoed by senior paleontologists today. Yet, textbooks repeatedly claim that, “more and more missing links have been found” and the Archaeopteryx is the example always cited. This is the alleged transition between the dinosaur and the bird. It was controversial when discovered in 1861, is still the subject of some controversy and is not accepted as a transition by every evolutionist. When all the details of its discovery and the reclassification of more recent specimens are taken into account, it has all the earmarks of a hoax. Every alleged ape-to-man fossil has been wreathed in controversy, nevertheless, they invariably serve as textbook examples for several years until others quietly take their place.
4. Vestigial Organs. The so-called vestigial organs are cited as evidence for the “common ancestor,” and either the boa constrictor’s or the whale’s “legs” are given as examples. Two very small bones found half-way along the vertebrae are said to be homologous to the hip bones of other vertebrates. The explanation is based upon the assumption that whales and snakes evolved from four-legged ancestors; this is then offered as evidence that this did in fact occur. In the nineteenth century it was claimed that human beings had 180 vestigial organs but these have quietly disappeared as medical knowledge has advanced. Today, some textbooks will only offer the human “tail,” sometimes found in the newly-born as evidence but medical science knows this to be a caudal appendage having no relationship whatsoever to the vertebrae .
5. Embryology. Here it is claimed that during embryonic development of the mammal, including man, the embryo passes through many of the prior evolutionary stages. Promoted by Ernst Haeckel in 1866 as his “Biogenetic Law” or “Recapitulation Theory” and popularised by his phrase “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny,” it was condemned at the time as fraudulent by Wilhelm His, a noted embryologist. In spite of this, Haeckel’s nineteenth century engraving showing the parallel developments of the fish, the salamander, the tortoise, the chick, the rabbit and the human appears in most biology textbooks to this day. It is usually claimed that in its early stages the human has gills like a fish and a heart like a frog and is a popular argument to justify abortion. Embryonic development is said to be evidence for the common ancestor yet even the Encyclopedia Britannica (15th ed.) says: “[it] was influential …but has been of little significance in elucidating either evolution or embryonic growth.” Haeckel had taken liberties by making his drawings of the vertical descent of the various embryos look far too similar. For example, he had made the eye of the dog twice as large to match that of the human and doubled the length of the lower vertebrae of the human to match the tail of the dog. As bad as this was, a further scandal came to light in 1997. Professor Michael Richardson published a paper containing a series of photographs showing that the early embryonic stages of the fish, the salamander, the tortoise etc. i.e. the horizontal array of embryos, were not at all the look-alike embryos Haeckel had drawn. New Scientist (Sept.6, 1997) declared this news as “Embryonic Fraud Lives On.” However, the establishment had clearly been rattled because, incredibly, Richardson and five co-workers issued a letter five months later in Science (May, 1998) to say that “the principle underlying Haeckel’s drawings does not negate Darwinian evolution …”
6. Industrial Melanism. In 1959 Bernard Kettlewell published his work on the peppered moth as the “consummation and confirmation” of evolution. His work, and the famous photograph of the black and white forms of this moth on the lichen-covered trunk of a tree, have appeared in virtually every biology textbook as definitive evidence of evolution. The story began in England at the time of the Industrial Revolution where it was noted that as the tree trunks became blackened by industrial soot, the white form of the moth, Biston betularia, declined in numbers while the black form proliferated. Later in this century, when anti-pollution laws were introduced, the tree trunks became white and the moth population shifted back from predominately black to white. Kettlewell believed that the birds ate those moths that could easily be seen as they rested on the tree trunk. This shift in population was real but to this day no one really knows the mechanism. As early as 1975 doubts were expressed in Kettlewell’s explanation because it was known that there were major problems but nothing was said in the textbooks. In 1998 Michael Majerus published a scholarly work titled Melanism: Evolution in Action in which these problems were spelled out. The birds were not the principal predator since they fly during the day when the moths are well hidden; researchers do not know where they hide. The moths do not rest on tree trunks but Kettlewell assumed they did and glued dead moths to the trunks, hence the photograph. The same population shift has occurred in an identical population of moths in Michigan where there had been no industrial pollution. Kettlewell’s work is now highly suspect. He had simply observed a shift in population and is no more evidence for evolution than a shift in population of Caucasian and Black people.
7. Evolution of Resistant Bugs. When insecticides, i.e. DTD, were developed it was recognized that, say, 99% of the population were affected. This was seen to be commercially viable and although at first successful, like the peppered moths, that resistant 1% has now become dominant.
8. Geographical Distribution. Living things are classified on the basis of their similarity and sometimes similar creatures are found as isolated groups living on different continents. Darwin’s finches (Geospinidae) found on the Galapagos Islands are frequently cited as resulting from a mating pair that were blown from the mainland then diversified to the 14 different types as they adapted to different ecological niches. This is probably true but they have not become anything other than the finches they were on the mainland. The camel is found in Africa and as the related llama, in South America. It is said that this is evidence of the common ancestor that diverged in two directions by migration to become the camel and the llama we see today. This is also likely true but is equally good evidence for migration following the Genesis Flood. Breeding experiments that produce fertile offspring are necessary to tell when two look-alike types are related; the domestic dogs, foxes, fennecs, wolves, coyotes etc will all interbreed and produce fertile offspring thus are related. Yet, it is possible that geographic isolation can cause the offspring of related kinds to be sterile; the horse and ass produce the sterile mule and are probably in this category. The relationships between extinct fossil creatures cannot be known. When considered from the viewpoint of genetic information, it becomes immediately apparent that genetic information can and does become lost resulting in intersterility. In contrast, evolution demands that information, meaning intelligent design, is acquired by random events over vast periods of time. Quite the contrary, with more time, experience would suggest a greater loss of information.
Illustration: Though the appendix is now known to play an essential part in the immune system, evolutionists persist in calling it a vestigial organ.
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