Within the controversy between creation and evolution, those who adhere to a form of creationism will point out that there is a notable lack of fossil evidence in support of Darwinian evolution, and there are even theories meant to explain why there is a lack of fossils (such as Punctuated Equilibrium), to which those who adhere to evolution will reply that we do not need fossil evidence because of the evidence in genetics. Research related to the DNA molecule has proven that all organisms on earth are in fact related, and this proves that they had a common ancestor. Is this the case? Does DNA prove evolution?
Well, I will be the first to concede that DNA does prove that all organisms on earth are in fact related; human beings are related to bananas. So I have absolutely no problem with DNA research and a close examination of the natural world, in fact I am willing to embrace the conclusions that it reveals, because after all, the natural world was created by God. However I am not willing to embrace macro-evolution nor can I concede that a relation between all living organisms suggests common ancestry.
In saying this, I want to clarify that I am not a scientist nor an expert in Darwinian evolution, but rather I am responding to the claim that the relation between organisms proves common ancestry. At its’ core, this is a philosophical claim. Of course, its’ premises (common DNA) are scientific, but the conclusion (common ancestry) to it was drawn by philosophical means, as is the case in any deductive argument.
So I am not necessarily claiming that common ancestry is false (even though I do not personally believe in it) but rather I am claiming that common DNA structure cannot serve as evidence to demonstrate it.
Argument From Ignorance
The conclusion that common ancestry is true does not follow logically from the fact of common DNA. This is a formal fallacy known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or Argument From Ignorance, which is essentially to say that we do not know the cause of the relationship between all organisms, and therefore the explanation must be in macro-evolution.
This is a fallacy because there could be alternative explanations for the similarities in the structure of the DNA molecule, and to say that this is evidence for one of those explanations is spurious and flies in the face of basic logic. We cannot make the mistake of tying our interpretation of the fact, with the fact itself. For example, common DNA is the fact, but common ancestry is the Darwinists interpretation of common DNA.
Which, of course is fine, they are free to see it that way through the lens of their worldview, however we cannot say that it proves common ancestry, because it does not. It only proves that all organisms are related, which could be due to any number of explanations that do not include common ancestry.
Therefore to appeal to this as evidence for macro-evolution is, as I said, a logical fallacy. For this reason, I have always found this argument for evolution to be less than convincing, to put it mildly.
A Common Designer
One of the possible explanations for the relationship between all organisms is that they have a common designer. After all, architects often use similar blueprints in several different projects, and so the same, I would say, with God. However obviously a common relationship does not prove a common designer, but it is available as a possible explanation.
The reason that the Darwinists are not willing to accept this conclusion is that (many of them) have presupposed existence of God to be false, and thus have also eliminated him as an explanation out of philosophical fiat. But that is obviously not a proper way to come to conclusions and is likely the cause of their fallacy in this argument.
Indeed when we examine the specified complexity fo the DNA molecule, design seems to be a much more obvious interpretation of this. The DNA molecule is a language of four letters and as Richard Dawkins pointed out, it contains more information than 1000 encyclopedias combined. As such it is a spectacularly complex message, and messages only come from minds.
To illustrate this point, suppose a series of explosions crashes on the moon spelled out the words, “Hello, earthlings!” We obviously would not conclude that it was just a collision of space junk, but rather it was an intelligent message from an intelligent mind. Similarly, if you found a box of overturned alphabet cereal with a bunch of pieces spilled onto the table, and they spelled out the sentence, “Take out the garbage. – Your loving wife,” I do not think we would be compelled to say that the box randomly spelled out that phrase after being knocked over. Instead we would immediately recognize that this message came from an intelligent mind.
In the words of Doctor Frank Turek, to suggest that this much information came to exist by natural forces is like suggesting that a library was the result of an explosion at a printing shop. There is no natural law that can produce specified complexity, as simple as the message “Hello, earthlings!” much less a natural law that can produce 1000 encyclopedias.
Therefore the conclusion that there was a common designer seems to me to be a much more obvious and rational conclusion on the basis of the data that we have. But there is no reason that we should believe that the DNA molecule proves common ancestry, indeed it seems quite fallacious to offer that conclusion.
If you would like to discuss this further, come join our Theology Discussion Group