In Darwin’s demise: on the futile search for missing links, Will Hart (in Forbidden history, edited by Douglas Kenyon) says that Darwin’s theory of evolution is the only scientific theory taught that has yet to be proved by the rigorous methods of science. He concludes his article thus: ‘Until a more comprehensive theory of how life originated, changed, and continues to evolve emerges, as Robert Milton (a science journalist) put it “Darwin doesn’t work here anymore.”’
Ever since I read about this theory (when I was 24), I have been a sceptic. I had read a little anatomy and physiology by then. I couldn’t see how the eye could have evolved through random mutation (mutations are usually errors in copying DNA); and how natural selection, which eliminates the failures in adaptation, could have had a role. As the whole process requires a very long time, an inconceivable list of intermediate forms would need to appear along the way. Cosmic catastrophes may better explain the appearance of whole functioning forms; while yet needing an organising influence. I had indeed been influenced by Velikovsky.
The concept of punctuated equilibrium, allegedly intended to counter cosmic catastrophes as a cause, does not seem to be an explanation – only a description of what occurs. I have read an attempted explanation of this concept, but it was full of suppositions. As well, have intermediate forms (missing links) been found?
What then of flowering plants (100 million years old), with no intermediate species from non-flowering plants (300 million years old)? Most flowers need bees and other pollinators. How did this relationship evolve?
Whereas Darwinian evolution is based on competition, co-operation and symbiosis are clearly relevant in life. That competition was seen as the driver was consistent with Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism. Darwin and Marx were original thinkers of the 19th century. Marx’s viewpoint was that matter is the sole subject of change, which is the product of conflict arising from the internal contradictions inherent in all things. That view had a degree of plausibility then.
The biggest challenge was from Michael Behe, a biologist, who listed blotting clotting, cilia, the human immune system, the transport of materials within cells, and the synthesis of nucleotides as irreducibly complex, and that no gradual route could have led to their creation.
Whether life was originally brought to Earth by an advanced civilisation (the concept of panspermia) may be relevant. Did extraterrestrials also tweak some life forms on Earth onto more complex levels?
Theorising that purpose is built into all forms of life on Earth may be of some value. If this is true, how did it happen? Perhaps it is time to build the non-material, the ethereal, into a theory of evolution!
Comment: I have drawn from Will Hart’s article in part.