Following the discovery of “Homo Naledi” on 10 September 2015 at Maropeng in Azania (South Africa) by Prof. Lee Berger and his team, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution surfaced again. Prof. Berger’s baboon discovery has been proclaimed “as our human ancestor.” There are reports however that “Scientists are not exactly sure at this stage because they have not been able to accurately date the fossils after three different approaches failed.”
Prof. Berger, an American Research Professor at Witwatersrand University has admitted that “There are also few flowstones that can be directly linked to the fossils, and those that exist are contaminated with clays making them hard to date.” Therefore, the team is still working hard to identify an accurate date of the fossils. Evolutionists claim that the theory of evolution is scientific and that this theory is no longer debatable. There is no scientific controversy about it. The only thing that is controversial is: how did evolution come about?
Evolutionists, however, admit that they have not yet found the missing link proving that apes are “ancestors” of human beings. In April 2010, the same Professor Lee Berger announced that he had discovered an enormously missing link between humans and apes. He called it Australopithecus Sediba. But there was no unanimity among exponents of evolutionary theory on this discovery.
Chris Stringer, a researcher and professor at the Natural History Museum in London said, “Sediba fossils themselves appear geologically too young to represent actual ancestors for the human-like fossils known from East Africa around two million years.” Prof. Fred Crine of Stony Brook University in New York, who is an anthropologist said that the partial skeletal remains of the young boy were too immature to be classified. He disagreed that the portrayal of Prof. Berger’s finding was significant “missing link” of the Homo genus. A professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley campus, Prof. Tim White commented thus “It is most unlikely that Australopithecus Sediba is the long sought ancestor of Homo sapiens.” Palaeontologist Richard Potts of the Human Origins Programme at Smithsonian Institute Washington DC is reported to have said that Prof. Lee Berger had “cherry-picked” the feature of his fossils that most strongly appeared to resemble those in the Homo lineage. There was not yet enough evidence to classify the fossils.
A Zimbabwe medical student I interviewed at the University of Zambia many years ago when I was in exile gave me his opinion on evolution. He said, “I believe that evolution has value as a scientific hypothesis (speculation). It has led to a clear grasp of some aspects of geology, anthropology and biological science. However, as far as I know it still remains a hypothesis and there is insufficient data to establish it as scientific theory. I have difficulty with evolution when it claims, as some of its proponents do, that life developed by mutations from low to complex forms of life as we observe today. The probability of one molecule mutating and continuing to mutate by chance from its low and higher forms is very small. I mean the probability of ideal conditions and environment is very small to take place.”
Now seriously speaking and thinking, how did man originate? Was he once a mosquito, a unicellular organism or an ape/baboon? Did human beings come into existence on their own and by chance? Human beings are too scientifically constituted to suggest that only a supreme scientist intervened in their coming into existence. What about the earth on which man lives and is sustained – and the universe in general? Was it created or it just happened on its own through “evolution” and by a strange chance? Would this be sensible and logical, particularly without even plausible scientific evidence?
What is Evolution?
The theory of evolution was first expounded by Charles Robert Darwin in his book ON THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES in 1859. Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. He died on 19 April 1882. He is the “father of the theory of evolution.” His followers say his theory taught two important things, namely: (a) It provided a great deal of evidence that evolution has taken place; (b) It proposed a theory to explain how evolution works – the theory of natural selection – the survival of the fittest and the elimination of the unfit. However, there has developed various theories of evolution. Here I will deal with only three, namely that of Darwin and those of De Vries’ and Lamark.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
According to Darwin, the theory of evolution deals with the mechanism of change from the simplest forms to the highest forms. It is a process of total change which is brought about by interaction between the physical environment and the genetic complex. In other words, continuously there is a pressure on the genetic system of a given animal by the environment in which it lives including the food it eats.
In 1859, Darwin spoke of mutations. This means modifications that are brought about by the changes in the chromosomes. There may be the breaking of chromosomes and rejoining of chromosomes. Darwin held that mutations come about through adaptation. The animals adapted themselves to the environment. Those that are not able to adapt themselves to the environment go to the wall. Either they adapt themselves or they die.
Darwin taught the theory of adaptation which led to the theory of natural selection in which nature selected the organisms (animals and plants) that will continue to live under certain environmental conditions. For instance, according to Darwin, the cold will select from a given group of animals, the kind of animals that must continue. Others will be destroyed by cold. Heat will also select what type of animal must leave in a hot environment, otherwise perish. Darwin’s understanding of natural selection led of course, to a very notorious theory in political circles –“the survival of the fittest and the elimination of the unfit.”
Darwin did not explain satisfactorily and convincingly how mutations come about beyond saying organisms that did not adapt themselves to their environment perished. Those that adapted themselves lived.
De Vries Theory of Evolution
Hugo Marie de Vreis was a Dutch botanist. He is chiefly known for propagating the concept of genes. He was one of the first European geneticists. He was born on 16 February 1848 and died on 21 May 1935. De Vries disagreed with some aspects of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He presented his own theory of evolution. He differed with Darwin on mutations. Instead, de Vreis spoke of saltation (“leaps”). He said these were accidental little jumps from one form to another. This is a sudden change from one generation to the next, which is larger in comparison to the usual variation of the organism.
Lamark’s Theory Of Evolution
Jean Chevalier de Lamark was born in December 1829 and died at the age of 85. He was of French nationality. He was a botanist. He accepted the theory of evolution, but he queried De Vries and Darwin on their understanding of evolution. Lamark said, “Look Darwin, you say these changes are brought by mutations which are small little changes brought by pressure on the environment on the genetic complex, but you do not show how the environment brings about the change.”
Lamark argued that the question is: when nature selects how does the animal actually get selected from its biological environment? Lamark was not satisfied with Darwin’s version of evolution. He said Darwin did not explain how certain characters in animals that had not been selected remained.
For instance, Lamark pointed out that at one stage man used ear muscles to move his ears. But the muscles were not functioning any more. Why did it become necessary that man should lose the power to move his ears? In other words, how did the atrophy (a waste away) of the organs come about?
Lamark then explained why man was more intelligent than animals. He said that physically man was no match to animals. Man has no speed. He had not strength like animals. To survive therefore, he had to use his brain more than any part of his body. The demand on the part of man to think brought about the development of the thinking part of his brain.
Lamark developed a theory of use and disuse. He said that by constant conscious use of a given organ the animal is able to develop that organ more and more. He pointed out that the use and disuse of an organ ultimately affected the chromosomes and chromosomes may develop and rearrange in such a way that an animal ultimately responds sufficiently to the stimulus and then it survives and chromosomes change and the corresponding organs change.
According to Lamark, all the organs on our body are a product or influence of the genes on the chromosomes. If for instance, you go to the gene that develops your ear and it is interfered with, you cannot get the same ear as you now have. That ear will be interfered in your chromosomes.
Divergent Opinions between Exponents of the Theory of Evolution?
As already indicated above, there are differences among evolutionists as to how various forms of life developed from low to high. But these exponents claim that despite their differences, there is sufficient evidence to show that evolution has taken place. They say for example, palaeontology (study of fossils) clearly shows that in the earth strata (layers), man comes at the latest strata right on top while lower forms of life are in the lower strata of the earth.
Other Views on The Origin of Life
It would be inadequate to discuss evolution without briefly referring to other views advanced on the subject of the origin of life. One theory is that in the beginning there was no order. A number of accidents happened but finally there was order.
Another theory is that the solar system was part of the sun. It was pulled out of the original sun being attracted by other stars (suns) bigger than it and there was a great catastrophe in the universe. This theory has been queried on the ground that the solar system would have melted by the heat of the sun and destroyed together with this earth. The sun is supposed to have sent out hot gaseous matter out of space. This gas, when away from the sun, cooled and became various planets that today constitute the solar system (universe). This brought about the balancing of forces. The centrifugal and the gravitational forces keep the solar system in balance. If these forces did not operate there would be a collision that would lead to the disappearance of planet Earth and all there is on it.
Evolution Does Not Seem to Exist In African Epistemology
Africa – Alkebu-Lan – “the Mother of Mankind” developed the first human civilisation and many other great civilisations. But there is no trace of the theory of evolution in African epistemology.
I want therefore to point out that in African epistemology visible and invisible things are attributed not to evolution but to the Supreme Being who made all things. There are many names for this Being among various African people, but they all refer to this one Being.
In Mizraim (ancient Egypt) Pharaoh Amenhotep IV preached Monotheism and popularised the doctrine of one God. This was long before an Africa-educated Moses was commanded to write the first books of the Bible. This Pharaoh eventually changed his name to Akhenaten/Akhenaton. He is reputed to have been the first person to teach monotheism on this planet. His wife was Queen Nerfertiti. They had six children, all girls.
In Africa even those who have been derogatorily called “Bushmen” or “Hottentots” or “Pygmies” by some Europeans; and whose proper names are San, Khoi and the Mbuti people respectively, have the concept of deity not of evolution. For instance, in the Congo the so-called “Pygmies” have enough intelligence to believe in the Supreme Being – Who is the source of all life and the Creator of mankind. Here is an example of one of their hymns: “In the beginning God, Today is God, Tomorrow will be God, Who can make an image of God? He has no body, He is as word that comes out of your mouth! That word! It is no more, It is past and still it lives, So is God.”
Evolution seems to be indeed a speculative theory, not a science. In science the results are proven facts through attested experiments. Africans in Mizraim as well as in Kush and Nubia built pyramids which demonstrated science. And sphinxes that proved profound scientific knowledge. The writings of the San people in the caves of Africa can still be read after thousands of years. No paint in Europe has lasted as long as theirs.
Galileo’s discovery of the law of gravity is unshakeably grounded in science. Other scientists have proved their scientific theories beyond reasonable doubt. Evolutionists must do likewise. Evolutionists speak of happenings millions of years ago. But they fail to show convincingly how scientifically they have reached their conclusions. There is this thing of human beings having evolved from baboons. What stops the current baboons to keep on evolving to be human beings? Why did they stop evolving? If they are “ancestors” of human beings, it is illogical they would stop continuing to be human beings and become inferior to their own “children and descendants!”
It is many years since Darwin speculated on this theory of evolution. We must see a few baboons coming out of the forest, wearing nice suits, smoking their cigars and holding their cell phones in one hand and computer on the other coming out of their cars at their offices. We should hear them speaking in Zulu, English, Hausa, Greek, Swahili, French, Arabic and Chinese!
Scientific knowledge must be used for advanced medical purposes. It must be used to improve the lives of the people and to uplift the living standard of the poor. Science must be used to serve the best interests of mankind.
Between 1891and 1892, Prof. Eugene Dubois earned fame for his discovery of Java Man as missing link between apes and human beings. But it was later established that this discovery was no missing link. This missing link between baboons and human beings is missing to this day scientifically. This is despite the many researches and failed discoveries made since Charles Darwin in 1859. Evolution seems to be more of a human speculation and a hobby of atheists running away from something they fear in the hope that it will disappear and no longer haunt them. Evolution is not science. It is speculative philosophy.
I think Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer was right many years ago when he said, “Educated men would not try thus to stand in the shadow were they able by any spiritual vision to enthrone God in His place as Creator. It still remains true in spite of five or six ‘fossil fragments’ separated in their location by sixty feet, that God created man in His image. Some men evidently prefer the image of an ape, but there are those who still prefer the image of God.”
Dr. Motsoko Pheko
The writer is a political scientist, lawyer, historian, theologian and author of several books in these fields.