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Volume 8, No 1, Spring 1998 [back]


Ümit Dericioglu


It is important to make a sound logical assessment of the methods used in advancing a theory. The axioms of a theory need not be self-evident. However, they should not be mutually contradictory. A good theory should explain the unexplained before, in a way which is not arbitrary and should predict unknown phenomena. The process of deduction leading to explanations and predictions should be done with sound logic devoid of contradictions and fallacies.

It should also be remembered that theories or new ideas proposed by scientists are not independent of the dominant world views or philosophies of their time.

The Underlying Philosophy

Evolutionary ideas did not start with Darwin. There were attempts before to explain how the living world came to be through some evolutionary processes. Lamarckism, the theory of inheritance of acquired characters was one such attempt. What was common among the evolutionary ideas including Darwinism, was the naturalist belief which still prevails in science today. Scientists believe that every natural event has natural cause(s). Although this belief itself can never be proven true through experimental sciences, it is believed that scientific research would not be possible if we stopped asking for an explanation, by attributing it to a supernatural or metaphysical cause. In addition to the fact that an infinite regression of cause and effect is not logically possible, this naturalist presupposition is not even necessary for scientific research. Ironically, evolutionism based on naturalism can even hinder the research possibilities, as this will be shown below.

What was different in Darwinism, however, from the other evolutionary ideas was the concept of "survival of the fittest" which had begun as "survival of the strongest" and ended up as "natural selection". Interestingly almost all of men who propounded some idea of natural selection, in the first half of 19th century were British. Darwin's and Wallace's views reflected the widespread belief of their time in their country, in the progress through competition.[1]

Russian zoologist, Pyotr Kropotkin [2] who was a staunch Darwinist volunteered to serve in the military in Siberia, in order to observe the struggle for the resources among the animals for survival. What he found instead was harmony and cooperation which later he depicted in his famous book Mutual Aid. It was obvious that Darwinian picture of nature did not fit the reality.

Natural Selection

In Neo-Darwinism, the central feature of selection is the differential reproduction. Natural selection occurs at population level, not at individual level. A part of population with advantageous trait(s) which manage to survive under otherwise difficult conditions pass their genes onto their progeny. They thus render their offspring dominant in the populations of future generations.

Since the early days of Darwinism, a very serious objection has persisted: Natural selection is a tautologous concept. In other words, it means those which can survive survive and pass their advantageous traits which enabled them to survive to their offspring. The tautology is obvious here. The concept of natural selection does not say anything new. The most important pillar of Darwinism is logically defective!

In response to this criticism, evolutionists claim that the question is not whether natural selection is a tautology but whether it is the guiding force of evolution. In other words, does the evolution occur in a particular environment as a result of natural selection? According to Hull, a lack of reference to environment deprives the theory of its empirical content.[3] Yet the tautology is still there. Besides, the natural selection is still hardly empirical. How shall we know what advantageous or deleterious mutations an organism might develop? With what probability? Since we need to take the relationship with environment into account, how do we decide whether a certain environmental condition is fatal for one part of a population while it is not for another? From the moment we know that there is a trait for an otherwise fatal condition, the tautology is there again. Before the trait and condition come about we cannot predict them. Once they occur, there is nothing new to know.

Some evolutionists regarded the natural selection as the sole cause of evolution while some completely rejected it likening to the ill-fated phlogiston.[4] In fact, it is even worse a concept than phlogiston. Phlogiston had been eventually discredited in experiments. Natural selection, however, due to its tautological nature, can never be proven wrong.

Indeed, natural selection provides explanations or plausible speculations for everything like phlogiston did. It is a panacea to explain the order and purpose in organisms without resorting to teleology. However, it is a concept which did not contribute to science. On the contrary, with its phlogiston-like all-encompassing explanations, it has been the weakest point of Darwinism. Darwinism (or Neo-Darwinism) with a logically defective and unscientific concept such as natural selection as an important pillar has been hardly a theory. Perhaps it was a poor attempt which was hoped to pave way to a successful theory of origins some day.

Avoiding The Real Issue

Evolutionists always considered the mutations capable of providing endless combinations, a viable few of which to be selected generation after generation, thus resulting in substantial changes and novelties in organisms. However, the real scientific issue was the nature of the mutations. Were they really random? Were there limits to the changes by mutations? In other words, were the changes a possible manifestation of limited genetic potential? Actually, nobody knows if the genes can lead to endless possibilities. This was just an assumption by evolutionists. According to them, when combined with very long time and filter of natural selection genes are capable of generating many highly ordered and sophisticated systems. A cautious reader will see the fallacious reasoning here: an endless random variant generator such as genes plus a sieve as natural selection, given enough time is capable of generating any existing system. By using the same fallacious logic one can explain anything one wants. For example, the origin of life before the genes were formed can also be explained. However, this is not science, but only an assumption of evolutionist.[5]

The fallacious reasoning of evolutionists is a good example of how naturalist philosophy may lead to unscientific claims contrary to the widespread belief that science is only possible with naturalist presuppositions.

The Definition of Species

The lack of a spatio-temporally independent definition of species presents a problem in evolutionism. For example, mass is the resisting capability of matter to force in Newtonian physics. The definition is always the same, regardless of time and space in question. Since the publication of The Origin of Species the evolutionists have been speaking of the evolution of species without being able to give a clear, unproblematic definition of "species".

A very popular and widely accepted definition of species is that organisms that can interbreed are of the same species. An interesting result of this definition is no matter how similar the creatures are, they are not of the same species if they cannot interbreed. Actually this definition is related to Mayr's Founder Principle. According to this idea, if a small subset of a population is isolated from the main population for some reason, since they would represent only a small subset of the gene pool, they would start to diverge and become sexually incompatible with the main population. Indeed, there are populations which do not interbreed after a long isolation, or if they are forced to, their offsprings are either sterile or genetically defective. It is said that the isolated population is on the verge of speciation. In fact, according to the definition above, they are almost new species, even if they look the same, behave the same.

However, the similarity between some creatures such as squirrels and moles, etc. in Australia and those others in other continents is at odds with Founder Principle. Evolutionists would like to explain it away by calling it "parallel evolution" which results in similar creatures under supposedly similar conditions. Unfortunately, parallel evolution contradicts Founder Principle. Aborigines who are believed to come to Australia, 30-40 thousand years ago can interbreed with Westerners. Therefore they are of the same species according to the definition. Why did such a long isolation not cause a genetic incompatibility? Unless Mayr's Founder Principle explains these problems and makes specific claims as to which species under what conditions become genetically incompatible after how long isolation in a consistent and testable way, it is merely an interpretation of a fact with the hope of explaining a process of so-called speciation.

Another problem the above definition represents is its inability to cover asexual species of our time and extinct species of the past. In case of asexual species there are no male and female individuals of the same species. Therefore the definition of interbreeding capability does not work for them. As for the extinct species of the past, how do we know if they were different from those which are similar today? Take Neanderthals, for example. Could they have interbred with modern humans? If they could, they would only be a different human race! How, then, can we conclude that some hominids represented the missing link of a different species on the way to homo sapiens, if we are to stick to the above definition?

Form/Function - Hardware/Software

In order to make a healthy comparison between the species we need to take not only the form into account but also the function. Unfortunately the fossil record gives us snapshots of a subset of past organisms. But it does not tell us much about the internal structure and function of the organs and behaviour of those creatures. Even a simple-looking change such as extending the neck of giraffe requires extensive adaptations in the body. Not only would the blood vessels extend and adapt accordingly, but the heart should also evolve strong enough to pump the blood to the brain. Unless we have a holistic approach in studying the organism, we would only see a perhaps deceptively small part of the whole picture.

Therefore it seems logically absurd to make broad statements about the history of the biological world, based on the fossil record which is a small subset of past flora and fauna. Besides, that small subset is only a part of form devoid of function.

A good example of this is the Coelacanth. It was believed to be extinct for millions of years until it turned up in the nets off the coast of Madagaskar, in 1938. Because it is a lob-finned fish, evolutionists claimed (and still do) that amphibians evolved from it. In 1986, a German biologist, Hans Fricke, studied the behaviour of the fish, in deep sea, using a specially designed submarine. He found that the fins enabled the Coelacanth to swim in all directions. They had nothing to do with the way the amphibians crawled.[6]

With the advent of computers and neurology, it is now known that the biological systems have a "software" part which governs their organs and behaviour. For example, even if a person has a complete mouth, tongue and vocal cords, i.e. "the perfect hardware", he cannot speak if the speech center in the brain is defective. Similarly, flying and navigating capabilities of birds would not be possible, unless their brains were equipped with the appropriate "software". Evolution of the "software" in harmony with the evolution of "hardware" through random blind coincidents of natural events is impossible to explain because the probability of such a parallel development of "hardware" and "software" through random events is practically zero. Therefore, "software" part of organisms presents an insurmountable challenge to the evolutionists.

More Fallacies: Argument From Similarity, Argument From Sequence

In order to establish an ancestral relationship between two species, evolutionists look for the similarities. Logically, however, if similarity indicates relationship, then dissimilarity should indicate the otherwise.[7] Evolutionists, while freely using the similarities to claim the evolutionary relationships, ignore the dissimilarities. In other words, their logic works only for their theory, never against it!

A striking example is hemoglobin. Red cells of humans have an antigen which is indistinguishable from those of apes. But when we find the hemoglobin also in root nodules of leguminous plants, the fallacy becomes obvious.[8]

Supposing that the fossil record indicates stages from primitive (multi-cellullar) creatures to more complicated ones in time, evolutionists claim that evolution is a fact. Even the ones who admit there are serious problems with Darwinism, claim that explaining the process of evolution, i.e. Darwinism is one thing and the fact that evolution occurred is another. According to them, the fossil record undeniably points to that fact.[9]

However, this line of reasoning shows how assertions laden with belief or philosophy can be portrayed as facts. Despite the fact that the creatures can be sequenced from primitive to more sophisticated in time, it does not necessarily follow that they evolved from each other. Take the example of an imaginery human tribe which produce pots and pans. As their skill and technology advance they develop more sophisticated ones. Later, for some reason, the tribe becomes extinct and in time, their pots and pans become fossilized. Then, very evolutionist minded aliens land and dig up the fossils. Their advanced methods date the simpler ones before the sophisticated ones. Then, aliens safely conclude that the evolution of pots and pans is a fact!

The only fact the fossil record tells us is the existence of some creatures in geological ages, provided that the relative datings are accurate enough. How they came into existence, whether they were re-designed from the preceding creatures or evolved from them or some of them showed up suddenly is a completely different matter.

The Lack of Scientific Method

Darwinism or Neo-Darwinism is claimed to explain the process. Unfortunately, however, there is no unambiguous method expressed in logical or mathematical language. All of the explanations are arbitrary in nature. If the process was really known as they always claim, we would be able to make clear scientific deductions. Then, it would be possible to feed the characteristics of a species and and some well defined conditions as an input to the process and learn the output. That would not have to be an imaginary species to be evolved millions of years later. But, at least, it would give us the tree of relationship of existing species and of the fossils. Then, it would be possible to even predict some yet-undiscovered species. However, Darwinism is nothing of that sort of theory. On the contrary, evolutionists prepare their taxonomical trees with evolutionary glasses and then tell us who evolved from whom!

Delayed Research Possibilities

Since evolutionists have always believed that mutations are open-ended possibilities, it never occurred to them that the genetic potential of a creature could be of a limited number of possibilities. Therefore, research to predict and test those possibilities could not be carried out. If we had a theory telling us the scope and the kinds of changes an organism could go through, it would be very fruitful. That way the breeders' practical knowledge would be generalized and enriched under the theory for all or many more species.

Another delayed research topic was the so-called vestigial organs. Evolutionists regarded them useless remnants from the evolutionary ancestors until later they were found to serve important functions in the body. Now no cautious scientist can claim that an organ is useless. Only it can be said that its purpose is not known yet.

The two cases above are simple but good examples to show how Darwinism based on naturalism can block or delay some avenues of scientific research.


As seen above, evolutionism suffers from many logical and methodological problems. It has a goal of explaining the origins and development of the living world. Yet the component parts of it are weak speculations which are often inconsistent and logically defective.

Naturalism and the urge to find answers for the origins and the positivist belief in science that it would provide the answers on all natural phenomena sooner or later have led scientists to areas beyond their capability. Evolutionists attempted the Herculean task of explaining the impossible, the occurrence of immensely organized hardware and very sophisticated software, the information of which was uniquely hard-coded during each regeneration. And they have ended up with speculative, self-contradicting and fallacious claims.

Evolutionism has reversed their view from a teleological paradigm to a self-ordering paradigm of natural selection. This tautological paradigm has spread to other research areas to provide explanations through almost arbitrary speculations.

Evolutionism, under the disguise of being purely scientific, has abused science in order to advance its underlying philosophy. Long ago, a man of wisdom and a reputable scientist, J. W. Dawson had warned evolutionists of this ill-fated path they have been driving science through:

"Nothing can be more interesting in a psychological point of view than to watch the manner in which some of the strongest and most subtle minds of our time exhaust their energies in the attempt to solve impenetrable mysteries, to force or pick the lack of natural secrets to which science has furnished no key." [10]


"It is a great mistake here to suppose that a little knowledge is dangerous; every grain of pure truth is precious and will bear precious fruit. The danger lies in misusing the little knowledge for purposes which it cannot serve." [11]

We will perhaps never scientifically know the history of life on Earth, how it began and how it developed. Claiming that evolution is the only alternative to Biblical special creationism which is not acceptable and unscientific, is yet another fallacy. Norman Macbeth, in his Darwin Retried, calls it "best-in-field fallacy". He says:

"Is there any glory in outrunning a cripple in a foot race? Being best-in-field means nothing if the field is made up of fumblers." [12]

Marxism claimed to explain human history through a dialectic materialist economic paradigm. The paradigm was nothing but a reaction based on a materialistic philosophy against the Western Capitalism and Colonialism. The Western Capitalism and Colonialism, in turn, began in a small part of the world and in a relatively very short time span of a long human history. Then Marx and his followers extrapolated their reactionary paradigm to all of the world and all times, naming it "scientific socialism". It was an over-simplification of human history as seen through their ideological glasses.

Similarly, Darwinism made big claims about the long history and great diversity of life which is a very complex reality, by extrapolating the mentality of 19th century colonialist England to living nature and its origins. One should always receive with great caution big claims under the banner of science, modelled after some popular paradigm or philosophy of a particular era in the Western part of the world.

Science, Ideology, and World View Essays in the History of Evolutionary Ideas, John C. Greene, University of California Press, 1981, p.49

Kropotkin was also the foremost theoricist of Anarchism.

Philosophy of Biological Science, David Hull, Prentice Hall, 1974, p.67

"So far as we now know, not only is natural selection inevitable, not only is it an effective agency of evolution, but it is the only effective agency of evolution" Julian Huxley, quoted by Brian Leith in The Descent of Darwin, Collins, 1982, p.39, from Evolution in Action by J. Huxley, Chatto & Windus, London, 1953

"Let us make it clear from the start: selection is a word that must be removed from the vocabulary of biology if one wants to make a serious attempt at understanding the mechanism of evolution" Evolution without Selection Form and Function by Autoevolution, A. Lima de Faria, Elsevier, 1988, p.xviii, see also p.3

"The neo-Darwinian concept of random variation carries with it the major fallacy that everything conceivable is possible" Ho and saunders, Beyond Neo-Darwinism, 1984 quoted in de Faria's above book on p.15

Natural Creation or Natural Selection? A Complete New Theory of Evolution, John Davidson, Element, 1992, p.180

The Creation-Evolution Controversy Toward A Rational Solution, R.L. Wysong, D.V.M., Inquiry Press, 1976, p.393

Ibid, p.394

"Evolution: myth, metaphysics, or science?" John Little, New Scientist, 4 September 1980, p.708

Modern Ideas of Evolution, J.W. Dawson (1820-1899) Prodist, 1977, p.54

Ibid, p.56

Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason, Norman Macbeth, Gambit, 1971, p.77

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