Is evolution really impossible?

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Dr John Ashton has produced a relatively short volume, provocatively entitled Evolution Impossible. But has he really demonstrated the theory relied upon by scientists around the globe is impossible? If so, how? And is the book readable for those of us who’ve never immersed ourselves in the sciences? RECORD went to Dr Ross Grant to give us a review of the book.

Overall I found the book’s style well paced and engaging. In the introduction, Ashton concisely covers the claims and assertions of evolutionary theory. He supports the summary with relevant quotes and referenced publications from reputable evolutionary scientists. He then proceeds to give the reader a “behind the scenes” view of the very real problems that the scientific community is currently addressing regarding the identified holes in evolutionary theory. Almost like a political intrigue the reader is left in anticipation of what is coming next. 

. . . this is as an excellent overview with many issues dealt with in sufficient detail to provide readers much food for thought.

Over the next 13 chapters the reader is treated to a logically constructed, credible apologetic for a creationist model of origins delivered at a popular level. The unique feature of this work is Ashton’s ability to summarise in one modest volume, material relevant to the evolution debate across a very wide spectrum; from probability theory and the first living cell, to the global flood and fossil record, to radiometric dating and beyond. 

While I found the book to be a generally good read, some areas are worthy of specific comment. The summary of Darwin’s theory of evolution in Chapter 2 begins well but may jump too quickly into creationist explanations to keep an evolutionist comfortably engaged. Detail on Darwin’s theory could have been expanded to outline more clearly Darwin’s limited knowledge of genetics and heredity. 

Ashton provides a good introduction to complexity theory, leading the reader clearly and logically through the complex probability calculations; wisely pausing to give readers realistic reflective points, enabling them to grasp the meaning of the huge numbers generated. A very readable chapter on the likelihood of evolution producing new genetic information is provided. However, Ashton could have highlighted the important implications of the cell’s complex DNA repair mechanisms more clearly, as these stop mutations—precisely the opposite of evolution’s requirements.

Ashton makes a solid case for interpreting the fossil record as evidence for mass extinctions by an aquatic/marine catastrophe. However, while his statement “. . the fossil evidence suggests that all animals were wiped out in one massive world flood” (p 77), is not inconsistent with the data, more direct evidence should be provided. 

In the section on missing links, Ashton does well to keep the readers focused by constantly reminding and summarising what is actually required to transition (at the molecular level) from one structure, through the many new transitional forms (ie. a huge amount of new information). As he points out, such transitions are something the fossil record does not support. 

As I have not found a good textual summary of the evidence for a worldwide flood, I was very pleased to see Dr Ashton attempt it. He introduces the topic confidently and provides a good collection of relevant information. This section would have benefited from a summary table covering the various peoples, origins and details of flood legends. I did find his deuterated water explanation for the reduction in post flood ages speculative (though cautiously plausible). 

Disappointingly, the section on erosion/sedimentation rates and the age of the earth appeared to be padded out with reiterated evidence for the short existence of life due to genetic decay (already discussed in a previous chapter). While a good attempt at an important area of evidence, this section seemed to lack significant technical detail.

Toward the end of the book Ashton gives a reasonable précis of some of the core problems with the current big bang theory with use of opinion from both older, reputable scientists like Hoyle and Wickramasinghe and more recent comments from Lerner and Lieu. 

This book covers the gamut of empirical topics relating to the evolution debate, providing much good data for both the general and specialist reader to ponder. Ashton brings information from a variety of sources in a way that is engaging and logical and adds to the thinking person’s model of origins. However, while this volume provides a good overview of many of the key arguments against evolution in a readable style, the gravity of some of the arguments would be strengthened with a more comprehensive reference list of seminal/original material. I do hope he is planning an expanded volume to address these issues. That said, this is as an excellent overview with many issues dealt with in sufficient detail to provide readers much food for thought. I thoroughly recommend it.  

Dr Ross Grant, a biochemical pharmacologist, is head of the Australasian Research Institute and clinical associate professor at the Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School of the University of Sydney.