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Letter to a Radio Station
By Richard Gunther
of all I would like to thank you and National Radio for airing a 'Science'
program. I think there is a terrible shortage of this type of program, (TV as
well), and along with this shortage there is a certain irony, considering how
important Science (and technology) is to all of us.
also thank you for way you have endeavoured to reduce technical and difficult
matters down to layman's terms. This helps to bridge the gap between the
qualified specialists and the unqualified public.
the matter which I would like to refer to was aired on Saturday 23rd Jan. being
the observation by a man interested in the evolution of birds. It was said that
the different species were the result of "an apparent bursting forth of
life" and a little later it was stated that "evolution took a
sudden unexplained jump". These comments were made because when the
fossil evidence is examined there is, according to some scientists, a layer of
rock in which zero fossils are found, and then, in the layers above it, a
super-abundance of different life-forms. These layers are labelled Pre-Cambrian
and Cambrian (Ordovician, Silurian - first plants, Devonian - insects, sharks,
the program, it was also stated that life began as a simple, one-celled
organism, which gradually changed until it was more complex. With this
increasing complexity, the multi-celled organism began to diversify, until it
produced all the life-forms we have today.
through my teenage years I was a strong evolutionist. I held the basic tenets of
evolution firmly, and even drew diagrams and taught other children in my class
at highschool with the science teacher's permission.
I was challenged by the way good science works to re-examine what I believed.
One thing which good science expects is accurate observation. When it
comes to evolution there is no observational evidence. We have the fossils, but
they are lacking in transitional forms. We have millions of life-forms all
around us but none of them have been observed to change from one species into
another. Even 'forced' mutation, as with the fruit-fly, every mutation was a
backward step for the fly, not a progressive one, in which the fly was more
have various dating methods, but they are all dependent on the assumption that
whatever we want to date must already be very old. Our measuring equipment has
to be adjusted to suit the assumption, otherwise it will not give us the result
have the 'appearance' of things, but we have no proof that the laws of Nature
have always operated in the way they presently operate. We assume that light has
always travelled at a certain speed. We assume that the earth is old. We assume
that the planets formed from a spinning disk of dust. No-one has ever observed
any of these things.
coming back to the 'Eureka' program, I would like to try to define a fossil,
because so much of evolutionary thinking rests on fossil evidence.
fossil, as I understand it, is an organism (or object) which has been enveloped
and sealed under a sedimentary deposit, i.e. sand, silt, shingle, soil. The
organism must be sealed very quickly, before normal decomposition can
occur. In some fossils just the bones remain, but in others even the texture of
the feathers, skin or scales can be seen.
fossil must be formed very quickly. This is an extremely important fact. I
mention it twice because if the process was not extremely rapid, there would be
virtually no fossils extant today.
fish, when it dies, usually floats on the surface, and is attacked by various
scavengers. What is left, if anything, sinks to the bottom and may be scavenged
yet again. A small amount of silt may lie on the scattered remains. Bacterial
attack will also contribute to the process of disintegration.
in a sterile, low-oxygen environment, the flesh rapidly becomes soggy and falls
apart, leaving no trace of the original structures.
the world there are fossil beds of beautifully preserved fish. Billions of them.
The silent testimony of the billions of well-preserved fossil fish around the
world is, by the most obvious common sense, evidence of rapid burial, and rapid
hardening of the encasing sediment.
assumptions claim that such fossils were formed slowly, over a vast period of
time, but the evidence points the other way.
returning to the original point, where the speaker on your program said that the
different species he was studying were the result of "an apparent
bursting forth of life" with the explanation that "evolution
took a sudden unexplained jump" - these comments were made because of
observations of the fossil evidence. Because the fossil evidence showed the
sudden appearance of a wide variety of complex organisms, it was concluded that
these organisms had come out of a sudden accelerated burst of evolutionary
me put to you another possible explanation.
animals found in the fossil record were all alive and well, but they were
suddenly buried by water-carrying sediment. Their remains, found in the fossil
beds today, are evidence that they were alive one moment, and dead the next.
They did not have time to decompose. In their countless billions, creatures in
every part of the globe were suddenly buried by water and sediment. This
catastrophic event produced the fossils, and the present-day landforms.
have put forward, in the above, a viable explanation for the presence of
fossils, but I have not yet touched on the matter of the origin of life.
Of course, in this area, we are all free to have our own opinions, but Science
is making the possibility of life just 'evolving' out of warm water rich in
minerals increasing difficult to accept.
example, the complexity of a 'simple cell'. The complexity within a
single living cell is mind-blowing. There are so many parts to a living cell,
all of which interact, all of which depend on each other for their survival, all
of which are interdependent . . . the complexity of a living cell is similar to
the complexity of an entire city such as New York. It stretches credibility to
say that all this could have arisen by chance.
thanks to the science of genetics, begun with Mendel and his pea plants,
we know that within a species, only the characteristics within that species'
genes can be passed on. It cannot produce any new characteristics because it
does not have the 'machinery' to do that. A complete genome is incapable of
producing enough new information to produce a different species (a different
genome). There is plenty of variety within a species - for example the dog
family - but dogs cannot become something which is not a dog. Mutations produce
sterility or non-viability, and any tampering by Man with the genetic make-up of
a species has, to date, completely failed to produce a new species.
has sometimes been proposed that in humans, genetic mutations are occurring, but
the only obvious ones are those which cause sickle cell anaemia, cystic
fibrosis, thalassemia, phenylketonuria and others. These alterations in the
genes are not beneficial, and could hardly be called progress.
nature of matter itself is interesting in this context. Matter left to itself
has never been observed to give rise to an information-storage unit - the living
cell. It is easy to postulate some near-miraculous event deep in the past, when
no-one was present to observe anything. All controlled laboratory attempts to
produce anything remotely resembling a living system have failed absolutely.
Some amino acids were once made, but they were all of the wrong sort - left or
right-handed. Life cannot exist where a diversity of handedness exists. Besides,
a living cell is far more than a collection of molecules brought together in an
organised way. A cell must not only 'feed', 'breath' and 'move', but also
produce a copy of itself on a regular basis, 'defend' itself, and a wide range
of other things. Matter, left to itself, has no such properties, nor does it
ever show any 'interest' in moving in this direction.
law of entropy - which says that everything in the universe is 'winding
down', losing energy, falling apart, etc - is another interesting factor here,
because when we observe present-day life, we see a high level of organisation.
This contradicts what we know about the nature of the universe, i.e. that it is
running down. The second law of thermodynamics also shows us that the
normal course in Nature is to move from complex to less complex. Taken together
these two laws mean that our world must have been, at some stage in the past,
more powerful, more complex, and more organised.
when we listen to the evolutionary point of view, we are told that our world (in
total contradiction to the observed nature of things) was less powerful and less
organised, and then, without any explanation as to how it happened, everything
went in reverse. Simple became more complex, and random events suddenly became
in the case of a video tape, when you make a copy of it, your copy is not quite
as good as the original. If you continue to make copies of each copy, you end up
with a video which is almost unplayable. The observed present-day nature of
things is similar to this. As each successive generation is produced, we see a
decrease in the total amount of information, as it is copied over and over. If
one works backwards we come, logically, to a time when all life was at its most
complex. This point contradicts the evolutionary view totally.
respect to your program, it is hardly a surprise to hear an almost exclusively
evolution-based point of view, because that is the prevailing view at present,
but the above may have proved that Science is by no means settled in one camp.
There are scientists who hold that evolutionary theory is lacking in evidence,
and in logic. These same scientists, many of whom are not even Christians,
strongly believe that the same evidence which evolutionists hold up is a strong
indicator for completely different conclusions.
would like to close with two quotes, One is from Dr, Collin Patterson, Senior
Palaeontologist at the British Museum of Natural History in London, Master
Books, San Diego, USA 1984, p 89. The other quote is from Professor Whitten,
Professor of Genetics, University of Melbourne, Australia, 1980 Assembly Week
is easy enough to make up stories of how one form gave rise to another, and to
find reasons why the stages should be favoured by natural selection. But such
stories are not part of science, for there is no way of putting them to the
are simply naive when they talk about experiments designed to test the theory of
evolution. It is not testable. They may happen to stumble across facts which
would seem to conflict with its predictions. These facts will invariably be
ignored and their discoverers will undoubtedly be deprived of continuing
which Allan Coukell of Radio Nz Ltd. on 27th Jan. 1999 wrote :
Mr. Gunther, thank you for your recent letter (24 Jan) regarding a Eureka! item
that mentioned evolution.
your letter you raise a number of interesting points. However, as you also state
in your letter, these points do not reflect the prevailing views of most
scientists. I'm sure you understand that a science programme such as Eureka!
must, as much as possible, be consistent with the mainstream of scientific
hope that a difference of opinion on one issue will not prevent you from
continuing to listen to Eureka! Thank you once again for taking the time to
you for acknowledging my letter. I was disappointed to see that you made no
comment about any of the scientific evidence I presented to you.
you said, "a programme such as Eureka! MUST, as much as possible, be
consistent with the mainstream of scientific discourse." You betray a
personal bias here. There are plenty of alternative views circulating within
"mainstream" science, all of which you deliberately exclude! Are you
afraid of alternative views?
remember that it was "mainstream" science which said that if a train
travelled at over 30mph the passengers would suffocate. It was also
"mainstream" science which denied the presence of microbes in
hospitals. "Mainstream" scientists have predicted many things in total
disregard of the evidence, or even common sense.
draw your attention to your use of the word "mainstream". Mainstream
means the "prevailing current or direction of activity or influence".
I think you are out of touch with mainstream scientific discourse - I suggest
that you read 'Darwin's Black Box'. I also recommend the book by Jewish
scientist Dr Lee Spetner - 'Not By Chance'. Dr Spetner has a Ph.D. in physics
from MIT and has taught information and communication theory for years at John
Hopkins University. Both these scientists are mainstream, and secular.
please note that it was "mainstream" scientist Ernst Haeckel (and his
contemporaries) who vigorously expounded the theory of "embryonic
recapitulation), that is, the theory that says that before birth the human
embryo goes through evolutionary stages. But Haeckel had no evidence, so
he 'manufactured' it, by deliberately falsifying his illustrations. Most
informed scientists over the last 70 years have realised that the recapitulation
theory is false - and it has been recently pointed out in 'Science' and
"New Scientist' - both respected 'mainstream' science journals.
must not dismiss these facts. They call out from "mainstream"
scientific discourse. They are relevant.
would now like to draw your attention to the subject of evolution again,
illuminating it exclusively with quotes from evolutionists.
main thrust of the theory of evolution maintains that all life is in flux.
Organisms are, it says, changing from one form to another, in a generally upward
direction - that is, from simple to complex. (I pointed out in my first letter
that this is in total contradiction to the observed laws of Nature), but if
evolution is to occurring, this must be happening.
fossil record, it is said, contains all the evidence we need to see the
transitions from one organism to another. But is this really so?
to modern plants?
C. Olson says, in 'The Evolution of Life' - "Supposedly somewhere within
the group called algae lay the sources of the higher plants, the vascular
groups. Whatever these ancestors may have been, they seem to have been
irrevocably lost in the vastness of time."
E.J.H.Corner says, in 'Evolution in Contemporary Botanical Thought' - " . .
. I still think that, to the unprejudiced, the fossil record of plants is in
favour of special creation."
cells to invertebrates?
Eldredge, in 'Darwin's Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems' says - "There is
still a tremendous problem with the sudden diversification of multi-cellular
life. There is no question about that. That's a real phenomenon."
Leakey, in "The Illustrated Origin of Species' says - " . . .
extensive searches by palaeontologists have failed to reveal the Precambrian
strata rich in fossils of multicellular animals (the ancestors of many Cambrian
animals) which Darwin believed must somewhere exist."
in 'The Fishes'(Time nature Library) says - "How this earliest chordate
stock evolved, what stages of development it went through to give rise
eventually to truly fish-like creatures we do not know."
in 'A History of Fishes' says - "The geological record has so far provided
no evidence as to the origin of the fishes . . ."
Rattray Taylor, in 'The Great Evolution Mystery' says - " . . . there are
no intermediate forms between limbed and finned creatures in the fossil
collections of the world."
Adler, in Encyclopaedia of Reptiles and Amphibians' says - "Although this
transition (from fish to amphibian) doubtless occurred over a period of millions
of years, there is no known fossil record of these stages."
L. Carrol, in 'Problems of the Origin of Reptiles' says - "Unfortunately
not a single specimen of an appropriate reptilian ancestor is known prior to the
appearance of true reptiles."
d'A Bellairs, in 'Encyclopaedia of Reptiles and Amphibians' says - "The
reptiles arose from amphibians of some kind, but the details of their early
history are not clearly understood and current ideas about them are in a state
in 'Biology and Comparative Physiology of Birds' (Vol.1, page 1) says -
"The origin of birds is largely a matter of deduction. There is no fossil
evidence of the stages through which the remarkable change from reptile to bird
Feduccia, in 'The Age of Birds' says - "Feathers are unique to birds, and
no known structure intermediate between scales and feathers has been
Lewin, in 'Bones of Mammals' Ancestors Fleshed Out' says - "The transition
to the first mammal, which probably happened in just one or, at the most, two
lineages, is still an enigma."
Attenborough, in 'Life on Earth: A Natural History' (Readers Digest/Collins,
page23) says - "Nor is there any fossil evidence of any consequence about
their (the echidna and platypus) ancestors. So we have virtually nothing to help
us link these creatures to any group of fossil reptiles."
mammals to land mammals?
Harrison Matthews, in 'The natural History of the Whale' says - ". . .we
have no certain knowledge of their origin (the cetaceans), for the
earliest-known fossils from the Eocene are already unmistakably whales, and we
can only guess at their evolutionary history by inference."
Sherwood Romer, in 'Vertebrate Palaeontology' says - "We are ignorant of
their terrestrial forebears (cetaceans and sirenians) and cannot be sure of
their place of origin."
mammals to bats?
E. Hill and James D. Smith, in 'Bats: A Natural History' say - ". . .all
fossil bats, even the oldest, and clearly fully developed bats and so they shed
little light on the transition from their terrestrial ancestor."
E. Leakey, in a footnote in 'The Illustrated Origin of Species' says -
"Unfortunately no fossils have yet been found of animals ancestral to the
to human beings?
Watson, in 'The Water People', Science Digest vol. 90, May 1982, page 44 says -
"Modern apes, for instance, seem to have sprung out of nowhere. They have
no yesterday, no fossil record. And the true origin of modern humans - of
upright, naked, tool-making, big-brained beings - is, if we are to be honest
with ourselves, an equally mysterious matter."
B. Eckhardt, in 'Population Genetics and Human Origins' (Scientific American,
vol. 226(1), Jan. 1972, page 94 says - "Amid the bewildering array of early
fossil hominoids, is there one whose morphology marks it as man's hominid
ancestor? If the factor of genetic variability is considered, the answer appears
to be no."
more quote which I would like you to read is from Malcolm Muggeridge - world
famous journalist and philosopher - from one of the Pascal lectures, University
of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada : "I myself am convinced that the theory of
evolution, especially the extent to which its been applied, will be one of the
great jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so
flimsy and dubious an hypothesis could be accepted with the credulity that it
see Allan - or at least I hope you can see - the Eureka! programme is not
really "consistent with the mainstream of scientific discourse"
-as you claim. There are plenty of detractors within the ranks of secular, often
atheist scientific thought.
is why I think your programme is a one-eyed, biased chunk of prejudice, and its
high time you gave a fair and equal time to the hosts of scientists who totally
disagree with its point of view - otherwise the program is not giving your
listeners a fair go!
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