The Collapse of Darwinism and the Fact of Creation
10 Jun 2011
Evolution, History of Science
The premise of this Harun Yahya group video is that evolution has been disproven based on science. The hour-long video is broken into three parts: 1) The Origin of Life (mins 0:35-20:30), 2) Imaginary Mechanisms of Evolution (mins 20:30-34:00 ), and 3) The Fossil Record (mins 34:00-60:10). The presentation does not provide a balanced discussion, but rather makes blanket statements in order to create the impression that scholars no longer support natural selection (biological evolution) as the dominant paradigm to explain the diversity of life on Earth. The video uses an abundance of stock images of animals and “scientists” (people in lab coats and looking into microscopes).
Part 1. The video opens by noting the position of Earth within the larger universe, that is, it’s one planet orbiting one of the universe’s 300 billion stars. The “design” and “harmony” of the planet and the life on it is emphasized. While introducing Darwin, the video suggests that Darwin’s theories denied the existence of God. It then summarizes some research done in the mid twentieth century to determine the origins of life (abiogenesis). The discussion continues with the “complexity” of the cell, and the “impossibility” of complex organisms arising through “coincidence”. The first section closes with a discussion of DNA and the information it contains. Part 2: selection, which it defines as “the idea that strong individuals that are well adapted will survive”. It summarizes the work of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d. 1829), who developed a prior theory about evolutionary change. The video suggests that both Lamarck’s and Darwin’s theories are “contrary to some fundamental laws of biology” (23:50). Darwin is quoted with concerns over “any complex organ” that could not have been formed over numerous modifications. The development of genetics in the twentieth century is summarized, stating that “efforts by evolutionists in the twentieth century do nothing but confirm that natural selection has no evolutionary power.” (26:00) The concept of irreducible complexity is introduced to explain what the video suggests Darwin’s theory could not. Mutation as a mechanism for the change in DNA is presented, but the video states that mutations only harm living beings (28:20) Richard Dawkins is presented as being unable to produce an example (30:00). The section closes with a quote from the Qurʾān, verse 59:24. Part 3: The section opens with a limited diagram of the evolutionary tree, portraying progressions from fish to dinosaurs to birds to mammals to primates. The video suggests that if evolution were true, there would have to be intermediary forms, which would be half fish and half reptile, for instance. The Cambrian period (which the video says was 500-530 million years ago, although the generally accepted period is 540-485 million years ago) is presented as “the oldest stratum in which fossils have been found” (39:00), although it also suggests that older fossils of unicellular organisms have been found. The video states that “Cambrian species came into existence all of a sudden without any ancestors” (40:50). The video uses the example of the coelacanth as a creature that has not changed over millions of years (44:50). Another potential transitional form that is presented to be debunked is the Archaeopteryx, which has been suggested as intermediate between reptiles and birds (46:10). The video then turns to the evolution of primates, including humans. It begins a discussion of Australopithecus [afarensis], which the video suggests is “merely an extinct ape species” (51:20). It presents a selection of the Homo species and suggests that representations of these earlier species is “propaganda” (53:00), showing various representations of the zinjanthropus [now known as Paranthropus boisei] as an example (56:10). The video then surveys some of the faked “fossils” from the twentieth century, such as Piltdown man, Ramapithecus, and “Nebraska man”, Hesperopithecus haroldcookii, suggesting that these are the best fossils that can be presented. The section closes with a reminder that Allah is the one and only Divine Creator.
Authorities mentioned: Part 1 Charles Darwin (d. 1882), Karl Marx (d. 1883), Louis Pasteur (d. 1895), Alexandr Oparin (d. 1980), Stanley Miller (d. 2007), Jeffery Bada (b. 1942), Sir Frederick Hoyle (d. 2001), James Watson (b. 1987), Francis Crick (d. 2004); Part 2 Charles Darwin, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (d. 1829), Gregor Mendel (d. 1884), Ernst Mayr (d. 2005), Theodosius Dobzhansky (d. 1975), Julian Huxley (d. 1975), Colin Patterson (b. 1933), Richard Dawkins (b. 1941); Part 3 Charles Darwin, Derek Ager (d. 1993), Richard Dawkins, Mark Czarnecki, Stephen Jay Gould (d. 2002), Raymond Dart (d. 1988), Lord Solly Zuckerman (d. 1993), Charles Oxnard (d. 1997), Richard Leakey (b. 1944), Earnest Hooton (d. 1954)
Verses of the Qurʾān mentioned in the video: 59:24, 82:6-8
The video lists three entities involved in its production: IPCI Islamic Vision (Birmingham, UK), Okur Production (Istanbul, Turkey), and SKD Bavaria Verlag (Munich, Germany). Although the video does not give a publication date, internal evidence suggests that it was done in the late 1990s (“as we leave the twentieth century”, min 10:50).
The material on Islam is within the bounds of what Muslims have historically understood as acceptable.
There are a number of problems here. Intelligent Design and irreducible complexity are not considered viable theories based on the current evidence among a majority of evolutionary biologists. Generally speaking, evolutionary theory does not engage in theories about abiogenesis (the origins of life from non-living materials). There are a variety of sources one might examine to consider a scientific response to the common Intelligent Design constructions presented here. For a general discussion of evolution, see Neil Shubin’s 2009 lecture, “Finding Your Inner Fish”. This lecture also provides a thorough discussion of his work with a single fossil, seeing it through an evolutionary transition, discrediting the assertion that the fossil record does not hold evidence of transitions.
For a complete discussion of the representations of Intelligent Design generally, see NOVA’s Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial (2007) or the producer’s statement from NOVA. For teaching resources on the topic, see the National Center for Science Education’s site. The video includes a front bumper for the SRF, or Science Research Foundation.
Although there is limited historical material here, it must be noted that the video does not adequately survey the spectrum of possible material, selecting quotes that generally distort Darwin, for instance, or using outdated science as if it is still considered current. None of the material should be considered factual without comparing it to a solid textbook like Zimmer C. and Emlen DJ. (2013) Evolution: Making Sense of Life.