Reflections on the Emperor’s New Clothes
by Ralph Matthews
In the tale by Hans Christian Andersen, the emperor’s special clothes were invisible to anyone who was unfit for office or unpardonably stupid. The emperor got caught in a web that was partly of his own making because of his vanity.
People who have great confidence in their own enlightenment and the inherent ability of man to solve the problems of humanity without divine aid are also vulnerable to pride and self-deception.
The emperor ended up parading before the people in regal nakedness, convinced of the beauty of his imaginary apparel. For fear of being thought unpardonably stupid, the multitudes enthusiastically applauded his public modelling of his invisible clothes. Emperor ‘Evolution’ is similarly dressed up with continual promotion from the media and educational authorities.
Some of this emperor’s followers seem to imply that anyone who can’t see the evidence is so ill-informed that they’re not entitled to an opinion. Let us consider the emperor’s articles of clothing extolled by true evolutionist believers.
Article #1. Natural selection. Darwin called this his theory. By invoking natural selection, plausible explanations can be given for almost everything. The long neck of the giraffe and the short neck of the hippopotamus are both explained by the theory. Most people readily accept these explanations. Natural selection can be used as a justification for immoral human behaviour.
Problem. There are limits beyond which variation cannot proceed even with artificial selection. Truly natural selection selects against novel and monstrous forms and is basically a conservative, not an innovative, mechanism. Natural selection does not explain amoeba-to-man evolution. We see many varieties of finches, ducks and dogs, but they always produce offspring which are finches, ducks, and dogs. Change is limited.
Article #2. Mutation. Random changes in the genetic blueprint of the organism produce the novelties that allow natural selection to break through the natural limits.
Problem. Random changes in the complex coded information in living organisms are usually lethal, harmful or useless and even the rare ‘beneficial’ mutations, e.g. wingless beetles on windy islands and fish in caves with shrivelled eyes, are information losses. The effect of mutations is likely to have the same effect as the random shuffling of statements in a computer program. Random changes to existing genetic information do not produce truly new traits (such as feathers, eyes, wings, lungs, etc.). [See The evolution train’s a-comin’ Creation 24(2):16–19 and Q&A: Mutations] Where are the ‘Missing Links’?
Article #3. Transitional forms. Since evolution has (it is alleged) proceeded relentlessly over many millions of years, remains of the intermediate forms should be everywhere in the fossil record.
Problem. The search for these transitional forms—’missing links’—has failed to produce any unequivocal examples. Some paleontologists suggest that they will never be found because they are not there. Evolution supposedly occurred so rapidly in the past that the evidence has vanished without trace. This explanation raises another problem. Evolution cannot be observed in the present because allegedly it is proceeding too slowly. Why should it have occurred so rapidly in the past?
Article #4. The fossil record shows the development of life-forms that have proceeded from simple to complex over geological time.
Problem. The simple life-forms are not so simple. There are other explanations for the perceived order in the fossil record. For example, the more plentiful number of marine fossils in lower strata with more mobile forms in higher strata is to be expected if the earth suffered a catastrophic flood. [See also Q&A Fossils] We do not see anything proceeding from simple to complex by any natural process. In fact, the reverse occurs: complex things naturally tend to become less ordered. All natural spontaneous processes are accompanied by more disorder.
Article #5. Extinct life-forms. We know that many different creatures once lived on earth which are now extinct as a result (it is believed) of the evolutionary process of competition in the struggle for survival. Problem. Creatures can become extinct for numerous reasons, such as encroachment of man’s activities upon the domain of the endangered species. Extinction is not evolution.
Article #6. Embryonic recapitulation. The development of the foetus in the womb retraces the evolutionary history of life-forms.
Problem. The leading proponent of this idea, German zoologist Ernst Haeckel, faked his drawings. The idea has been discredited by authorities for a long time. [See Q&A: Embryonic Recapitulation and Similarities] General fallacies
Article #7. Vestigial organs. The human body is said to contain many organs that are a carry-over from our evolutionary development—the appendix, the coccyx, tonsils, ear muscles, etc.
Problem. It used to be maintained that there were almost 200 vestigial organs in the human body. Almost all these organs are now known to perform useful functions. The routine removal of various organs or their destruction by ionizing radiation was once widely practised in the belief that they were useless. People died because of this. Nowadays, doctors are reluctant to remove even tonsils, which once were regarded as ’vestigial’. [See Q&A: Vestigial Organs]
Article #8. Homology. The fact that there are certain similarities between components of living creatures ranging from bones to biochemistry shows that all things must have evolved from a common ancestor.
Problem. This is by no means the only conclusion. An alternative explanation is that the components of all living things are designed and manufactured by a common Designer/Maker.
Article #9. Imperfections. The alleged existence of imperfections in the design of living things supposedly proves that evolution must have occurred. A Creator God would never have made anything with these imperfections.
Problem. A better explanation is that all life-forms were created perfectly fitted for the functions for which they were originally intended, but some changes have occurred because of the entry of sin into the world which has marred that original perfection (Romans 8:20–22). Also, many so-called ‘imperfect’ designs work brilliantly in reality.
Article #10. Adaptation. We know that germs develop an immunity to antibiotics, insects develop resistance to insecticides, rabbits develop resistance to myxomatosis. All these things are said to be examples of evolution in action.
Problem. After all this, the germs are still germs, the insects are still the same sort of insect, the rabbits are still rabbits. There is no indication that the basic form of the organism under the attack is going to change into something else. These changes do not result from some spontaneous increase in information in the genetic programs. The rabbits are not about to become horses or hounds. The general evolution model requires that one kind of thing change into a different kind of thing. Age-of-the-earth assumptions
Article #11. 4.6 billion years. Evolutionists say they know that the earth is around 4.6 billion years old. Given the great age of the earth, anything could have happened over such a vast period of time, and probably did.
Problem. There are no scientific laws in the present that allow us to postulate that life could ever make itself. We do not know that the earth is 4.6 billion years old. The assumption of the principle of uniformity (‘everything remains the same’) together with assumptions about starting conditions and other matters, allows selected data based on long-lived radioisotopes to be used in support of such a belief. Other data based on radioisotopes give estimates ranging from comparatively young ages to billions of years more than 4.6 billion years. There are dozens of natural chronometers based on the principle of uniformity that give estimates for the age of the earth ranging from less than 10,000 years to millions of years. The majority of these chronometers give ages vastly younger than the presently accepted evolutionary age for the earth. [See Q&A: Radiometric Dating and Young Age Evidence.] The articles attiring the Emperor are, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder, in spite of the devoted homage of powerful courtiers. Some museums, especially, are shrines of remembrance—long on scenarios relating the story, but short on critical attention to the substance of the actual garments. The credibility is impressive, but not the clothes. This emperor’s clothes really are invisible.