The Predicament of Evolution
by George McCready Price  (1870-1963) 
(This was ©1925 by Southern Publishing Assoc.)
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Chapter Seven - Facts and Fancies

SCIENCE has advanced chiefly by means of observations and comparisons. Unfortunately, it is notorious that good observers of the facts of nature are often very poor rea-soners regarding these facts. The power to reason correctly regarding a large mass of facts seems to be given to only a few people in each hundred years or so in human history. The drawing of correct conclusions from observations and comparisons is subject to rigorous laws of logic, a primary necessity to which, as Bateson says, the early evolutionists paid small heed. "For them the unknown was a rich mine of possibilities on which they could freely draw." As we shall see presently, most of the blunders made by Darwin and his followers were due to drawing hasty conclusions from wholly insufficient data. And in no department of the general subject was this weakness more manifest than in comparing the structure of one animal with that of another, and concluding from the similarities thus discovered that the two animals must be related to each other by having had common ancestors.
But our increasing knowledge of the structures of birds, fishes, reptiles, and other animals, has brought to view thousands of organs in these various animals which are more and more a perplexity to the evolutionists. For after there has been fixed upon in one animal some particular organ that is like that in another, and this similarity has been urged as a proof that these two animals are blood relatives, an almost identical organ has been found in some other animal where any claim to a common ancestry would be absurd. This has occurred over and over again so many times that the evolutionists have invented the theory of "parallel development"; and so they say that these similar organs, perhaps in three or four kinds of animals that common sense tells us cannot be related by a common descent, have been evolved separately, that is, have been evolved these three or four times quite independently of each other. 

Scientific Sidestepping

For instance, we have the shark, the ichthyosaur (an extinct kind of fish-shaped reptile), and the dolphin (a true warmblooded mammal, and not a fish at all), all of which greatly resemble each other in external shape and general appearance. Each has the same long, sharp snout, the same powerful tail, the same general fishlike shape. And yet the first of these is a true fish, the second was just as true a reptile, while the third is a mam-mal, bringing forth its young alive and feeding them by milk, just as does a cow or a horse, though it lives in the sea.

Here the evolutionists have to say that this peculiar shape and general form has been evolved separately and independently in each of these three instances. Indeed, Henry Fairfield Osborn, President of the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, declares that a very similar shape and form has been independently evolved "at least twenty-four times.""Encyc. Brit.," Vol. XX, p. 578.

Soon after the evolution controversy arose, St. George Mivart, a very accomplished scientist of London, wrote a book entitled "The Genesis of Species," in which one chapter was devoted to examples of such closely similar structures or organs which, nevertheless, must have had diverse or independent origins. More recently, Dr. Arthur Willey, Professor of Zoology in McGill University, Montreal, has issued a book entitled, "Convergence in Evolution" (1911), "convergence" in this Hcnse meaning essentially the same as the "parallel evolution" spoken of above. The latter author declares that, "every system of organs throughout the animal kingdom will be found to yield abundant instances of convergence." (P. 107.) And he goes on to say that "the breaking down of the former landmarks of homology [comparison of parts or organs], offers a tremendous opportunity for emancipation from the trammels of speculation," because, in the light of our advancing knowledge of comparative anatomy among the various animals, "hardly one universal criterion of homology can be mentioned which would pass muster in a critical examination."P. 170.
Hard to Swallow

From this large group of facts we become convinced that these many similar or identical structures, which must have been evolved quite independently (if evolved at all), make too great a draft on our credulity. At least, these hundreds of examples of "parallel evolution" greatly weaken our confidence in homology, or similarity of parts and organs, as a proof of blood relationship.

Let us note a few more specific examples.

There is an animal on the other side of the world that is called the thylacine, or the Tasmanian wolf, being confined to the island of Tasmania.  It looks so absolutely like a dog or a wolf at a distance that one could hardly tell the two apart. Yet the thylacine is not a true mammal at all, but a marsupial, or pouched animal, carrying its immature young ones around in a sort of pocket, as the opossum does. Thus it is quite impossible to suppose that this animal has been derived from the dog or wolf, or the latter from it. The two types must have been produced quite independently. How did nature come to evolve this absurd parody on the wolf by any system of natural selection or any other form of evolution?

Let us take the eye. There are several distinct types of eyes, each type being quite efficient as organs of seeing. But if we take the eye of the higher animals, we become amazed to find an almost identical structure in the cuttlefish or devilfish, which is really a mollusk. Its eye has all the parts found in the human eye, a retina, a sclerotic, a choroid, a vitreous humor, an aqueous humor, and an adjustable lens, just as in the eye of one of the higher vertebrates. Now I can believe that these similar organs could have been created independently for these very distinct classes of animals. But I cannot believe that this marvelous organ was evolved independently in these two instances by any process of natural development or evolution. If Darwin used to say that the origin of the eye always gave him a cold shiver, whenever he thought of explaining it by evolution, I do not think that his mental equilibrium would have been restored if he had considered that this organ must have been evolved quite separately in at least these two instances. Indeed, this process must have been repeated also once more; for the pecten, another kind of shellfish wholly different from the cuttlefish, has two rows of almost equally perfect eyes around the edge of its body. I cannot force myself to believe that these complete organs of sight were separately and independently evolved by any natural development in these three instances.

Strange Comparisons

Or let us take the method of reproduction by which the young are developed for a period of time within the body of the mother by means of the structure called a placenta, the young partly-developed animal being afterwards brought forth alive or born. All the structures and the greatly complicated processes connected with this method of reproduction are very different from the method of laying eggs that prevails among most of the lower animals. But what is our amazement at finding that not only the larger land animals thus bring forth their young alive, but certain sharks do so also, and even the sea squirts or, as-cidians, do the same. How can we believe that this placental method of reproduction was separately evolved in these three instances? Yet it would be absurd to say that any two of these kinds of animals had derived these structures and these habits from a common set of ancestors.

There are four kinds of animals called anteaters, two in Australia, one in South Africa, and one in South America. Of those in Australia, one is a monotreme and lays eggs, the other is a marsupial or pouched animal. The other two are mammals; but differ from each other considerably. However, all four of these types have the same long snout, the same long, sticky tongue, and the same enormous development of the salivary glands; and they all feed habitually on insects, though under suitable opportunities they will use their long tongues also for extracting the honey from flowers. 

But these animals cannot be related to one another at all; each must have developed his peculiar organs of eating quite apart and independent of the other three.

Darwin Himself Stumped

Just how many times organs of flight have been evolved quite independently, according to evolutionists, I do not know. The pterodactyl was an ancient flying reptile, with large membranous wings like a bat. In addition to these two, we have also many kinds of insects, besides the birds, that have very efficient organs of flight. In addition, we have several kinds of flying mammals, several distinct kinds of flying fishes, and one or two flying reptiles.  What a crime against our reason it is to try to persuade ourselves that these animals all developed these organs of flight by some natural process of development and quite independently.

Then there are the electric organs of fishes. Darwin said that "it is impossible to conceive by what steps these wondrous organs have been produced." Many kinds of fishes have these electric batteries. But in some of them the electric organs are situated in the head, in others they are in the tail. Evidently these could not have had a common origin. The torpedo, a kind of skate, is one of the best known; but there is also the electric eel of South America, and the big electric catfish of the rivers of central Africa, which is called the thunder-fish by the Arabs. The difficulty of accounting for these electric organs is greatly increased when we find that in each of these three instances, at least, there are closely related species which, according to D. S. Jordan, show no trace of the electric apparatus.
The organs for the production of milk with which to feed the young are usually associated with the method of bringing forth the young alive. But pigeons, during the breeding season, produce a substance in their crops which greatly resembles the milk of mammals, and which when mixed with the partly digested food in the crop, is fed by the old birds to the young ones. But certain fishes called rays, classified under three distinct genera, which bring forth their young alive, have a wonderful apparatus on the inside of the uterus which secretes a true milk, with a most remarkable contrivance by which this milk is guided into the throat of the immature embryo, with associated muscles in the wall of the uterus which squeeze the milk out.

Facts that Spoil Theories

Let us next consider the familiar organ of birds known as the gizzard. It is really an extra stomach, fitted up like a mill for the express purpose of grinding up the food that has been swallowed without chewing. But besides the birds, we have the toothless anteaters, all of which have gizzards. Crocodiles and other kinds of reptiles also have them, and so did the ancient dinosaurs, the hugest beasts that ever walked the earth. In addition, we have also several kinds of fishes with gizzards, such as the "gizzard shad" and the "gizzard trout," and also two or more kinds of mullets. No wonder Willey says that when he first found this identical structure in two such widely separated families of fishes as the shads and the mullets, he began to distrust his own eyes. And he adds the very sensible statement that such facts appear to spoil all the usual theories of evolution based on comparative anatomy. "Convergence in Evolution," p. 110.

But habits and instincts among the animal must also be accounted for, if evolution be true. In the case of such animals as the social insects, that is, the bees, the wasps, the ants, and the termites (often called white ants), we have almost identical methods of breeding and habits of life which must (according to the evolution theory) have been separately evolved at least in these four instances; for no one can suppose that either of these groups is related to the others. 

I do not have the space in this chapter to go over the many remarkable structures and the astonishing habits of these social insects. Suffice it to say that each of these four groups has castes or distinct classes among the members of the colony. The termites and the ants are some of them much more complex in their organization than the honey bees; but it will suffice to take the latter as typical of the rest.

The peculiarity of this caste system is that the workers are different in structure and in habits and instincts from either the father or the mother, both of which do not engage in honey-gathering at all, and indeed could not gather honey and pollen if they tried. Among all these social insects there are castes or classes, which differ from one another and from their parents in a most astonishing degree. In this connection one is led to ask, How did these insects develop this habit of breeding certain classes of "workers" with structures and instincts so utterly different from their parents, structures and instincts in fact which none of their ancestors ever possessed? But still another question intrudes itself right at this point, How did four distinct tribes of insects independently develop this habit of producing classes that are completely different from any of their ancestors?

Degeneration More Sure than Evolution

There is no difficulty in accounting for these things on the hypothesis of a real creation. But I can only smile at the easy credulity of the man who says he believes these remarkable peculiarities could have been separately evolved in each of these four great groups of the social insects. The stories of "Alice in Wonderland" or of the "Wizard of Oz" do not make any greater demands on our imaginative powers.

As we gather up the general facts enumerated in this chapter, we are able to reach some very definite conclusions. The first of these conclusions is that morphology, or the comparison of structures found in distinctly different kinds of animals, is a delusion and a snare when we attempt by these comparisons to trace outlines of evolutionary descent. If such comparisons could get us anywhere, we would have to believe that the duckbill of Australia still retained its flat snout and its egg-laying habit as a relic, an heirloom, from its imaginary bird ancestors. But this latter idea would only create a smile on the part of any well-informed student of zoology. And we ought similarly to reject the suggestion that such a structure as the human vermiform appendix is in any way a relic of the herbivorous animals which evolution would declare were in the line of man's ancestry.

Morphology, or studies in comparative anatomy, has no evidential value for well-informed scientists today, and can be of service in proving evolution only for those who do not know the results of modern scientific study. Accordingly, when the skeleton of the gorilla is stood up alongside that of a man, and it is pointed out that every bone in the one is to be found in the other, it is only as if we were to place a Ford alongside of a Cadillac, and point out how many parts of the one are duplicated in the other. It is only by a trick of logic that such a comparison would lead us to say that the Cadillac has evolved from a Ford. The man who would seriously apply such a method of comparison to proving that man has evolved from lower animals, does not show much evidence of clear thinking.

On the other hand, if there is any blood relationship between man and the great apes, it is far more reasonable to suppose that the apes are degenerated or hybridized men, than that man has evolved by progressive development from the apes. Degeneration is a thousand times better established as a general principle of nature than is progressive development.

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