September 8, 2003













Historical Reality








Copernicus’ “Heliocentric” Hypothesis—Yes


Darwin’s “Common Descent” Hypothesis—NO









Don McLeroy

Member, State Board of Education

3707 Tanglewood

Bryan, Texas 77802

979 255-2538

I.   Introduction


Evolutionists are quick to point out that the hypothesis of “descent with modification from a common ancestor” (hereafter referred to simply as “common descent”) is as much a historical reality as the hypothesis of “heliocentricity”.



Like the heliocentric hypothesis of Copernicus, the hypothesis of descent with modification from common ancestors has long held the status of a scientific fact. No biologist today would think of publishing a paper on “new evidence for evolution,” any more than a chemist would try to publish a demonstration that water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.”[1]


“In The Origin of Species, Darwin propounded two large hypotheses. One was descent, with modification, from common ancestors, or, for simplicity, the hypothesis of descent with modification. I will also refer to this as the "historical reality of evolution." The other large hypothesis was Darwin's proposed cause for descent with modification: that natural selection sorts among hereditary variations…”.[2]


“Those who oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools sometimes ask that teachers present "the evidence against evolution." However, there is no debate within the scientific community over whether evolution occurred, and there is no evidence that evolution has not occurred. Some of the details of how evolution occurs are still being investigated. But scientists continue to debate only the particular mechanisms that result in evolution, not the overall accuracy of evolution as the explanation of life's history.”[3]

“(E)volution is as well documented as any phenomenon in science, as firmly supported as the earth’s revolution around the sun rather than vice versa.”[4]


Is “common descent” historical reality?

Is “common descent” an accurate explanation of life’s history?

Is it fair to claim “common descent” is analogous to heliocentricity?



The purpose of this analysis is to answer the above questions.


After clarifying the meaning of key words, the hypotheses of “heliocentricity” and each of the two components of the neo-darwinian synthesis—“common descent” and “natural selection operating on genetic variation” will be analyzed as cogent arguments, and good theories.


This analysis will demonstrate that “common descent” has not been conclusively demonstrated to be true and therefore can not be described as “factual” in our textbooks.


Therefore, any book that represents “common descent” as a fact and not a hypothesis should be rejected as factually incorrect.


Also, any good book will present at least some of the identified weaknesses raised in this analysis.






II.           Clarifying the Discussion



Evolution has many meanings; a lot of confusion can be avoided by clarifying these meanings. The key confusion in a textbook is when its generic definition of “change over time” is gradually morphed into Darwin’s controversial idea of a “descent from a common ancestor”; when this distinction is lost and they are both defined as fact, confusion reigns.





Two Preliminary Definitions (These are terms not used in the TEKS or the textbooks, but are very useful in clarifying the terms that are used.)


Adaptive variationSmall changes of diversification within a type. The species remain the same basic type.


Examples: Darwin finches with different beak sizes. Antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Discussion: A Fact   Adaptive variation is explained by the inherent ability that is apparent in all organisms.


MacroevolutionLarge changes within biologic organisms that account for all the new kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. This is equivalent to “descent from a common ancestor” or “descent with modification”. This states that all life is “related” genealogically.


Examples:  “Protozoa” to man. Reptile to bird. Reptile to mammal.

Discussion: A Theory This is the great controversial claim for evolution that critics dispute. Macroevolution is claimed to be the result of adaptive variation operating over long periods of time.





The Main Definitions of Evolution (These are terms that are used in the textbooks.)


Evolution “Generic”—Change over time.


Discussion: A Fact  This fact is not disputed or controversial. But note, this is not the equivalent as saying all life is related. It is broader than adaptive variation as it accounts, for example, for the fact that many organisms, like the dinosaurs, once lived but are now extinct.


Evolution as “Descent from a Common Ancestor— macroevolution.


Discussion: A Theory  Unfortunately, this term is considered by textbooks to be equivalent with the “change over time” evolution and therefore presented incorrectly as a fact


Evolution as the Evolutionary “Process—Natural selection operating on genetic variations.


Discussion: A Theory  This is what is universally accepted by all scientists and textbooks as the theory of evolution.


Evolution as “Neo-Darwinismdescent from a common ancestor by natural selection operating on genetic variations.


Discussion: A Synthesis Theory  Neo-darwinism is also referred to as the modern synthesis; it is a synthesis of the two theories of “descent from a common ancestor” and “process”. Though not labeled as such, neo-darwinism is the correct term for what is presented in the textbooks as evolution.


 III.    Is Heliocentricity a proven fact or hypothesis?




Yes! It is a Fact!

No! It is not a Fact!


A strong argument makes its appeal to authority, utility, scientific experience, silence, analogy and tendency to prove its point.


How strong is the “heliocentricity” argument?


Appeal to Qualified or Unqualified Authority

Everyone agrees.


Appeal to Utility (it works)  or False Cause

It works quite well.


Appeal to Scientific Experience

It fits both historic science and empirical science.


Appeal to Silence or Ignorance



Appeal to Analogy—Strong or Strained



Appeal to Strong Tendency or Hasty Generalization






A good theory displays six good qualities: coherency, adequacy, consistency, simplicity, accuracy and fruitfulness.


How good a theory is “heliocentricity”?


Coherency—Is it self-contradicting?

Completely coherent


Adequate—Does it explain all the facts?

It explains all the facts.


Consistency—Is it in agreement with other theories and disciplines?

It is consistent with all other known science.


Simple—Is it unnecessarily complicated?

It is very simple.


Accurate—Is it precise or approximate?

It is very accurate.


Fruitful—Is it productive or a dead end?

It has proved very fruitful.



Summary of the Heliocentric Hypothesis


Heliocentricity is unquestionably reality. It has all the strengths of a cogent argument, and displays all the qualities of a good theory. It amazingly doesn’t have any weaknesses.


How will descent with modification from a common ancestor stack up to the same analysis?

IV.      Is “Descent from a Common Ancestor”—a Proven Fact or a Hypothesis?





Yes! It is a Fact!

No! It is not a Fact!


A strong argument makes its appeal to authority, utility, scientific experience, silence, analogy and tendency to prove its point.


How strong is the “common descent” argument?


Appeal to Qualified or Unqualified Authority


·       All major science organizations endorse it as a fact.[5]

·       All major universities world wide teach it as a fact.

·       Most highly qualified academics support “common descent” as a fact.

·       “Common descent” research is widely published and “peer-reviewed”.



1.      Darwin’s critics are likewise highly qualified; they include the founder of the fields of paleontology and comparative anatomy-Cuvier and modern taxonomy-Linnaeus.


2.      Stephen J. Gould, Harvard paleontologist and evolutionist, uses popular literature. Gould defends the adequacy of non-peer-reviewed literature: “The concepts of science …can be presented without any compromise, without any simplification counting as distortion, in language accessible to all intelligent people.” (WL p.16)

3.      Likewise, today’s critics use popular literature. It is also difficult for evolution critics to get published in evolutionary scientific journals.

4.      Darwin was not peer-reviewed.


The Expert’s Blind spot

5.      The “bandwagon” can sometimes be wrong. Charles Walcott’s, one of America’s premier paleontologists, misread “the Burgess Shale in the light of his well established view of life—and the fossils therefore reflected his preconceptions.” (WL p. 253)

6.      “The greatest impediment to scientific innovation is usually a conceptual lock, not a factual lock.” (WL p.276)

7.      Experts are subject to trying to” shoehorn” data into pre-existing concepts.

8.      Niles Eldredge, co–developer of “punctuated equilibrium”, stated the paleontologist’s dilemma: “either you stick to conventional theory despite the rather poor fit of fossils, or you focus on the empirics and say that saltation looks like a reasonable model of the evolutionary process—in which case you must embrace a set of rather dubious biological propositions.” (DT p.60)  Saltation-a systematic macromutation.

9.      Evolutionists were blind to the peppered moth’s contrary evidence for over a decade after it was published. (MM  p.259)

Appeal to Utility (it works)  or False Cause


False Cause

10.    We don’t know if macroevolution is works. While adaptive variation has been empirically demonstrated to be true; it can not, however, be cited as evidence of “macroevolution”.

11.    Douglas Futuyma cites six evidences for utility, for macroevolution to be true: bacterial antibiotic resistance, 1898 storm that killed a lot of birds and the survivors had slightly larger craniums, the Galapagos finches, the sickle cell patients’ resistance to malaria, mice extinctions, and the peppered moths. Yet none of these examples show major changes or any permanent changes. (DT pp.25-27)

12.    There is no empirical evidence of extrapolating “micro” to “macro”.




Appeal to Scientific Experience


Historical Science

13.    Since conventional science has been so successful in other fields, such as chemistry, physiology and physics, there is a belief that science can answer everything.  Biologic origins, however, occupy what is properly referred to as “historical” science.

14.    The goal of “historical” science is to reconstruct the past. Ex. Archeology and parts of anthropology, geology and evolutionary biology.

15.    Philosopher Karl Popper doubts “historical” science is science at all.

16.    Popper claimed: “The wrong view of science betrays itself in the craving to be right.”

o    Entire professional disciplines are based on “common descent”; they are threatened when their “fact” comes under attack. (DT p.149) 

o    The longer a hypothesis is called a fact, the more difficult it is to challenge it. (MM p.297)

17.    Luis Alvarez, a Nobel laureate, debunked “historical’ science in the New York Times, claiming, “I don’t like to say bad things about paleontologists, but they’re really not good scientists. They’re more like stamp collectors.” (WL p. 281)

18.    “Historical” science depends on narrative not experiment.

19.    Gould cites “historical” science claims can be verified by disproof of alternatives. But, since the evolutionist declares there are no alternatives, “descent from a common ancestor” must be true. This is a truly an ingenious way to win an argument.

20.    Origin of life research is conducted empirically and scientists are pessimistic about it; “common descent” research is conducted historically and scientists are optimistic about it.

Empirical Science

21.    Mayr: “Evolution is a historical process that cannot be proven by the same arguments and methods by which purely physical of functional phenomena can be documented. Evolution as a whole, and the explanation of particular evolutionary events must be inferred from observation.” (E p.13)

22.    “Common descent” covers events that can never be observed or will be observed; therefore it is not conventional science.

Appeal to Silence or Ignorance

·       Evolutionists cite imperfection in organisms as evidence of “common descent”. Ex. The blind spot of the human eye means it must have evolved.[6] Hollow bones in flightless penguins, a Panda’s thumb, etc.


23.    Evolutionists claim there is no other option but their theory so it must be true. There are other options: typology, catastrophism, or we don’t know.

24.    “Punctuated Equilibrium” is an appeal to no evidence, to ignorance. (see Paleontology )

25.    Circular reasoning—Evolutionists claim the absence of transitional forms enhances their theory. Darwin appealed to the “extreme imperfection” of the fossil record. How did he know it was imperfect?  Only by assuming the premise he was trying to prove—that there must be an “interminable number” of transitional forms.

26.    Raup likens the Cambrian explosion to a disease epidemic, “Evolution is indeed like a disease if one thinks of speciation as analogous to reproduction of the disease organism and extinction as analogous to its death. …If the analogy is correct, it is futile to search for some special event—physical or biological—that triggered the Cambrian explosion.” (Ext p.27)

27.    Mayr hypothesized that evolution proceeded rapidly on the fringe of species distributions, in isolated as areas. “Hence, the fossil record would be most inadequate exactly where we need it the most—at the origin of major new groups of organisms. (ST p.83)

Appeal to Analogy—Strong or Strained


Strained analogy

28.    “Common descent” depends on the strained analogy that adaptive variation over a long time becomes macroevolution. But, Micro changes do not necessarily extrapolate to macro changes. For example: High-low weather pressure systems do not predict seasons—the tilt of the earth orbiting the sun does.

29.    Darwin, himself, made an appeal to a strained analogy by appealing to artificial selection to support natural selection.






Appeal to Strong Tendency or Hasty Generalization

·       Life as seen in the fossil record demonstrates “change over time”.


The Fossil Record

30.    Fossils, homologous structures, moths, molecular evidence are hastily generalized as proof of macroevolution. However, these are only circumstantial evidences. They easily support non-evolutionary theories also.

·       Homology—common anatomical morphology. “The hypothesis of evolution predicts next, that organisms should share various characteristics in a hierarchical arrangement.” (ST 105)

·       Molecular homology—common building blocks, processes, and organization.


31.    Homologies are assumed to be ancestral; analogies are assumed to be parallel adaptations. Homologies and analogies are not empirical evidence, they are only assumptions and also are hastily generalized as evidence.

32.    Circular reasoning—by definition a homology is acquired from a common ancestor and we know they are common ancestors because they share this trait.

33.    Circular reasoning—what is homologous and analogous depends on what is first assumed to be a common ancestor trait. For example, many marsupials and placentals are very similar morphologically. However, these similarities are arbitrarily designated as analogous while the mode of child bearing is designated as homologous. They make this decision arbitrarily, based on the geographical isolation of Australia.

·       Vestigial structures.

34.    To claim a structure is a trace of its ancestral past has been an embarrassment for the evolutionists as the list of previously designated vestigial structures has declined. Ex. The thyroid gland, the pineal gland, the appendix and the coccyx.

35.    Vestigial formation is moving in opposition to evolution.

·       All life shares a common genetic code. Richard Dawkins states: I regard this as near-conclusive proof that all organisms are descended from a single common ancestor.” (BW p. 270)


36.    Again, this is only circumstantial evidence. Common building blocks and  similar biochemical pathways in nature makes the food chain less complicated. 

Continental drift would predict that groups that evolved late would not be broadly distributed over the world, whereas early evolved groups would be.

37.    Again, this is only circumstantial evidence.




A good theory displays six good qualities: coherency, adequacy, consistency, simplicity, accuracy and fruitfulness.


How good a theory is “common descent”?


Coherency—Is it self-contradicting?

·       A completely naturalistic explanation.


38.    It is only “historical” science—not testable or observable.

39.    It is not easy to explain how random macroevolution can generate a highly ordered classification system  This implies:

a.      You can’t lose the descent trait as you lose the ancestral relationship, and

b.      All intermediate forms must die out or they would be alive today.

c.      The essence of Darwin’s Origin of the Species was that species change gradually into new species. When a new species is formed in this way, the ancestral species does not die: it is merely transformed into another species. The ancestral species is said to have undergone “pseudoextinction”—as opposed to “true extinction.” (E p.6-7)

40.    Attempts to explain highly specified irreducible complex systems have so far been incoherent—a choking complexity strangles all such attempts.  (DBB p.177)

41.    There are no living transitional forms.












Adequate—Does it explain all the facts?


·       It explains the old rocks with simpler life and younger rocks with more complex life.[7]

·       Flowers are good runners. (FDG 61)

·       Coprolites . (FDG 62)



42.    Stasis is the natural order of the fossil record. In contrast to what would be predicted in “common descent”, all fossils show a sudden appearance in the fossil record and then remain remarkable unchanged in appearance.

43.    The absence of pre-Cambrian fossils that can explain the rise of the incredible “Cambrian Explosion” leaves the defenders of evolution scrambling to create hypothetical qualifiers such as “vast Pre-Cambrian oceans with no continents nearby to serve as a source of sediments” (WL p.274) to explain the absence.

44.    The Cambrian explosion, with all major phyla appearing suddenly, totally contradicts the “common descent” view.

45.    The fossil record is not as incomplete as is maintained; George Gaylord Simpson states that the fossil record is virtually complete for the larger forms. (TC p.189)

46.    Gould: “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record is the trade secret of paleontology.” (DT p.59)

47.    Eldredge: “We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change], all the while knowing it does not.” (DT p.59)

48.    Therefore the paleontologists/evolutionists proposed abrupt macroevolutionary changes to account for the lack of transitional forms:

a.      Goldschmidt was first in 1940. This Berkeley professor published in the Yale University Press his idea that “every once in a while a macromutation might, by sheer good fortune, adapt an organism to a new way of life, a ‘hopeful monster’ in his terminology” (PT p.188) to explain the gaps.

b.      Gould and Eldredge followed in 1974 with their hypothesis of “Punctuated Equilibrium”.

49.    There are no fossils at the forks of the branches of the evolutionary tree of life; they are only found at the end of the branches.


It explains the sequential nature of the fossil record. i.e. Basic morphology of the groups seems to fall into a natural sequence.



o    Fish to Amphibians.










o    Amphibians to reptiles.





o    Reptiles to birds.






o    Reptiles to mammals.











o    Mammals to Man







The Sequential Nature of the Fossil Record

50.    Among the primary sequential patterns of the fossil record, the vertebrate, the primate and the plant series, every division is clean cut; they offer no proof of Darwin’s intermediate forms.

51.    The sequential nature of the fossil record is NOT as convincing when you look at the details. Ex. The aortic arches (TC p.113)

52.    Fish to Amphibians.

a.      A living coelacanth, a proposed candidate for a transitional organism between fish and amphibians, and thought to have been extinct for 70 million years, was found living in the seas off Madagascar in 1938; it showed no signs of being adapted for a land environment. Also, “Throughout hundred of millions of years the coelacanths have kept the same form and structure. Here is one of the great mysteries of evolution.” (Jacques Millot, Scientific American 193 p.37)

b.      Barbara J. Stahls’ Vertebrate History “none of the known fishes is thought to be directly ancestral to the earliest land vertebrates.” (DT p.76)

53.    Amphibians to reptiles.

a.      While it would be difficult to document this transition of primarily soft body changes in the fossil record, no explanation has been offered for the adaptation of the reptilian amniotic egg from an amphibian egg. A hard shell, two membranes and a yolk sac must be explained. (TC p.218)

54.    Reptiles to birds.

a.      Feathers are very hard to explain. Again, Barbara J. Stahls’ Vertebrate History states about feathers: “how they arose initially, presumably from reptile scales, defies analysis.”

b.      To fly, a reptile would need, for starters, a new heart, new bones, new scales, new muscles, a new backbone, and strong breast muscles.

55.    Retiles to mammals.

a.      In the featured reptile to mammal sequence, it is speculated that several of the therapsid species separately evolved into mammals. This would require “that accidental mutations crafted the extraordinary, precisely integrated parts of the mammalian ear. Moreover, they did this many times, each independently, a claim that seems severely strained.”  (P p.101)

b.      Great emphasis is made on the transition of the reptilian jaw to the mammalian jaw and ear. But, what about the origin of the mammalian organ of corti?

c.      What did the mammalian breathing diaphragm develop from?

56.    Mammals to man.

a.      Baby humans are helpless for years.

b.      All fossils to date have been  either ape or man.

c.      Very few hominoid fossils when compared to dinosaurs etc.

d.      Circular reasoning. The scientists first assume some sort of relatedness, and then assemble a pattern of relations. (P p 112)

Classification—“Common descent” fits the tree of life. It explains taxonomy as a result of ancestral relationships.




57.    Each textbook devotes a chapter to the classification of living organisms, usually in it s evolution section. This because classification could indicate common ancestry and thus be proof of “common descent”. But, Ernst Mayr, of Harvard, America’s leading taxonomist in the 1970’s observed that all higher classifications are arbitrary, not empirically sorted.

58.    Mayr also observed that with the great philosophical shift from traditional taxonomy to evolutionary phylogeny that one would expect a radical change of classification, but this is by no means the case. In fact, you can not tell an evolutionist from a traditional taxonomist like Cuvier by their classification. (TC p.124)

59.    Classification evidence is also presented as a tautology—If we define “common descent” as what produces classification, we can not then use classification to prove “common descent”.

60.    Just identifying a relationship does not equate to “common descent”; it just means that life can be organized in a table.

61.    Traditional taxonomy can explain the same data accurately.

62.    There are no identified ancestors at the forks of the tree of life, or at the nodes of the cladists. There are no creatures at the branching points.

63.    David Raup: “We actually may have fewer examples of smooth transitions than we had in Darwin’s time, because some of the old examples have turned out to be invalid when studied in more detail.” (DT p.187)

64.    “The fact that we can use a few characteristics to make a treelike diagram accords with the idea of evolution, but of course it doesn’t prove that evolution has occurred”.  (ST p.205)


65.    Discontinuities are what allow biologists to categorize life. Without distinguishing characteristics, like mammalian hair, the different classifications would be lost. Discontinuities are what make it possible to distinguish a dog from a cat, a tree from a flower.

66.    Discontinuities are a problem for “common descent”. “The fact it was possible to predict the entire morphology from a tiny fragment of one of the parts provided Cuvier with what he saw as irrefutable evidence for permanent discontinuities. For example, a depression on a fossil jaw bone implies a specific muscle attachment; the shape and size of the depression implies the size and direction of the muscle and thus the size and shape of the face. It is only the discontinuous nature of life that allows one reasonably to assume what the depression on the jawbone really represents.

67.    It doesn’t explain the discontinuities of the tree of life. The typological model fits the data exactly.

68.    “…it is easy to see how Cuvier and Agassiz could have seen in the pattern of nature what they took to be irrefutable evidence in favor of their anti-evolutionary stand. “ (TC p.117)

69.    “Common descent” predicts a continuum of organisms through the evolutionary tree of life, yet natural history reveals the opposite, with the persistence of discontinuities between groups.


Other Major unexplained phenomenon

70.    It does not explain the incredible increase of information encoded in the genetic codes.

71.    It can not explain “irreducible complexity”. (See Michael Behe’s  Darwin’s Black Box)

Consistency—Is it in agreement with other theories and disciplines?

·       It is consistent with the ages of the geologic column.

·       It is consistent with “naturalism”









72.    It works against probability theory. Something may be possible but not probable. (TC p.66)

73.    To get a cell by chance would take at least one hundred proteins. For that to develop by chance would take a probability of 1040,000. (TC p.323)

74.    It is inconsistent with problem solving by undirected chance. It is so inefficient it is impossible. Ex. Play golf blind and see what you shoot. (You would be lucky to find your ball after the first shot.)

75.    The improbability of the origin of DNA led its discover, Francis Crick, to propose “Panspermia”—the idea that the source of DNA complexity came from outer space.

Physics and Chemistry

76.    It works against physics and the 2nd law of thermodynamics. All things decay, rundown and increase in disorder “you can not simply dismiss the problem of …complexity of biological systems by a vague appeal to open-system, non-equilibrium thermodynamics. The mechanism responsible for the emergence and maintenance of coherent (organized) states must be defined”.  (ML  p.117)


76.    It works against embryology: different embryonic structures give rise to similar morphologic structures. (TC p.145)

77.    De Beer; “… correspondence between homologous structures cannot be pressed back to similarity of position of the cells of the embryo or the parts of the egg out of which these structures are ultimately differentiated.” (TC p.147)

78.    Insect metamorphosis rearrangement is from different embryonic cells. (TC p.147)

79.    Limbs form in different species from different embryonic tissue. (DT p.73)

Molecular Biology

80.    It works against molecular biology: Molecular discontinuities are the same as morphologic discontinuities.

81.    It is not enough to show a relationship; one must show that the relationship is a result of decent from a common ancestor.

82.    Molecular discontinuities confirm the taxonomic classification systems just as much as they confirm “common descent’s” classification systems.

83.    A Tautology—The idea presented in the textbooks that “molecular clocks” support “common descent” is false. The molecular clock hypothesis just restates homology and reconfirms that there are no ancestral intermediate forms.

84.    None of the papers, ever, in the Journal of Molecular Evolution has proposed how “common descent” could work in the origin of photosynthesis, intra-molecular transport, cholesterol biosynthesis. Etc.


85.    The implied origin of “common descent” –the chemical origin of life—contradicts the law of biogenesis which states that life only comes from other life.

Simple—Is it unnecessarily complicated?


On the surface, it is simple and elegant.

86.    The Self-sacrifice and other behavioral characteristics require creative hypotheses.

87.    Likewise, the incredible symbiotic relationships require creative hypotheses.

88.    One can’t even envisage transitional forms. Darwin stated his theory would absolutely break down if you couldn’t show the sequential steps.

89.    According to Mayr, something as complex as the eye must have evolved 40 separate times.

90.    Flight would have had to evolve four separate times: for insects, for birds, for extinct reptiles, and mammals (bats).

91.    Hind limbs and forelimbs developed separately; it is not likely that the adaptive necessity would generate 5 digits for each one.

92.    Evolutionists are incredibly optimistic, Futuyma states: “If you ask, ‘What would I have to do to transform a primitive mammal; into a bat or a whale?’ the answer is, ‘Nothing very drastic.’” (ST p.62)

Accurate—Is it precise or approximate?


93.    It is totally circumstantial and hypothetical. There is no preciseness in “common descent” at all.

Fruitful—Is it productive or a dead end?

·       It encouraged “missing link” fossil hunting.

·        It is claimed to be the great unifying principle of biology.[8]  


94.    It discouraged reporting of routine fossil finds.

95.    “Common descent” has encouraged origin of life research which is a dead end.

96.    Critics ask biologists: What would change about your biology research, if “common descent” were false? The most common answer is: “Nothing”.

97.    “Common descent” is “a failed scientific research program—that does not constitute a well-supported scientific theory, that its explanatory power is severely limited and that fails abysmally when it tries to account for the grand sweep of history.” (ID p.112)

98.    “Common descent” discouraged the search for function of what was thought to be vestigial organs.

99.    Ignored so called “junk” DNA for over 40 years.

Summary of the “Common Descent” Hypothesis


While heliocentricity is unquestionably reality, descent with modification from a common ancestor is unquestionably a weak argument and theory.


V.       How Good is the Evolutionary “Process”?—Natural Selection Operating on Genetic Mutations






Coherency—Is it self-contradicting?


100. Natural selection is nature’s “quality control”; it actually prevents macromutations beyond species.

101. It is a tautology 

a.      The survivors survive.

b.      The fittest are those that have more off-spring and those that have more off-spring are the fittest. (DT p.20)

102. Natural selection of artificial selection reverts to the wild type.

103. The highly specialized artificially selected breeds die out in the wild.

104. Natural selection is a “conserving force” in action—not a creative force. Ex. It preserves organisms through severe threats. For example: Peppered moths, Galapagos finches, and moth and finch alleles are already present.

105. Gradual extinctions are predicted but not found.

106. Artificial selection reaches a limit due to the limit of the genetic pool.

107. Natural selection is credited for both producing highly ordered and precise results and also for imperfect results.

Adequate—Does it explain all the facts?

·       It explains adaptive variation.


108. Can’t explain macroevolution.

109. It can not explain living fossils, creatures that have supposedly survived virtually unchanged.

110. Molecular biologists, when challenged to name one single unambiguous example of the formation of a new species, remained silent.(DBB p.26)

Consistency—Is it in agreement with other theories and disciplines?

·       Genetics—in a small population a genetic variation can spread fairly rapidly i.e. the new “bean” can dominate.



111. In a large population the new “bean” is swamped. Hardy-Weinberg law.

112. The “founder effect” in small populations will hurt survival as well as help it.

113. Genetic drift—Accidents, and chance can explain dominance or survival.

Simple—Is it unnecessarily complicated?


114. You can’t evolve a sentence.

115. Overlapping genes.

116. Moves to fast to see; moves to slow to see.

Accurate—Is it precise or approximate?


117. Beneficial mutations are rare.

118. No net gain in genetic complexity.

Fruitful—Is it productive or a dead end?

·       It can guide medical researchers in the fight against disease.

·       Natural selection brings taxonomy, genetics, paleontology botany, zoology ecology together.


VI.   Conclusion


The entire crux of the evolution debate hinges on whether “descent from a common ancestor”, like the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, is accepted as a historical reality, or as only a hypothesis.


This analysis has argued that it is only a hypothesis, and a shaky one at that.




·       I urge board members to carefully consider the argument of this analysis and in spite of  the overwhelming scientific experts’ opinions, consider what the overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates, and insist that “common descent” be portrayed as a hypothesis in the textbooks.


·       I also urge the board to reject any book that portrays descent with modification from a common ancestor as a fact.


·       I also appeal to the publishers to incorporate in the texts the many reasons for the distinction.




























TC         Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, (Bethesda, Adler & Adler, 1986)

DT         Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial, 2nd edition, (Downer’s Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1993)

WL        Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life, (New York, W. W. Norton, 1989)

ID          William Dembski, Intelligent Design, (Downer’s Grove, InterVarsity Press, 1999)

DBB      Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box, (New York, The Free Press, 1996)

ML        Thaxton, Bradley, Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, (New York, The Philosophical Library, 1984)

P            Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon, Of Pandas and People, (Dallas, Haughton Publishing, 1989)

ST          Douglas Futuyma, Science on Trial, (New York, Pantheon Books, 1983)

Ext         David M. Raup, Is Extinction Bad Genes or Bad Luck?,  (New York, W. W. Norton, 1991)

E            Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, (New York, Basic Books, 2001)

MM       Judith Hooper, Of Moths and Men, (New York, W. W. Norton, 2002)

FDG       Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God, (New York, Cliff Street Books, 1999)

BW        Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, (London, W. W. Norton, 1986)


[1] Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 3rd ed., Sinauer Associates, 1998, p 12.

[2] Douglas Futuyma, Evolutionary Biology, 3rd ed., Sinauer Associates, 1998, p 12.

[3] Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, National Academy of Science, page 3


[4] Stephen Jay Gould, I Have Landed, Harmony Books, 2002, p. 214

[5] The appeal to a qualified authority is the strongest argument for “common descent” to be considered a fact in our textbooks; it is incredibly strong! How can a board of lay persons make a stand against such impressive credentials? I say we can take such a stand based on the scientific evidence and the ‘historic” nature of evolutionary science. It is completely within our responsibility to look at “common descent”, and take it out of the arena of fact and place it back into the arena of a hypothesis.


My challenge to the evolution supporters is to not attack any group, not to argue against a bunch of straw men, but to respond to the questions raised in this analysis.

[6] The deductive logic of this statement follows: (1) a designer would not have made an eye with a blind spot, (2) the eye has a blind spot, therefore (3) “common descent” produced the eye. This is an invalid argument with an unknowable premise. (DBB 223)

[7] This is as good as it gets in the evidence for “common descent”; this is as close as they get to empirical evidence. Having noticed that the old rocks contain simple organisms (like bacteria) and younger rocks contain more complex organisms (like dinosaurs), they hypothesize that the complex ones are ancestors of the older simple ones, but they can not prove ancestral relationships. Mayr: The most convincing evidence for the occurrence of evolution is the discovery of extinct organisms in older geological strata. (E p.13)

[8] [8] If evolution is so important, why is evolution only referenced only 138 times out of 144,000 entries in college biochemistry books? (DBB p.182)