|Evidences from Comparative Anatomy and Biochemistry
E. Norbert Smith, Ph.D.
Summary. Evidence supporting evolution is of two types; direct and indirect. There is absolutely no direct evidence of evolution from one major kind of animal or plant to another. The development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria or color change in Peppered moths hardly adds support for the origin of life or the evolution of man from single celled organisms. Most scientific evidence supporting evolution is indirect or circumstantial and thus has alternative interpretations. The obvious similarity between man and various animals in form, function or biochemistry can indeed be used to support a common ancestry and thus evolution, but such similarity can equally be used as proof of a common Creator. For proof that evolution actually occurred one must look elsewhere.
Introduction: Remember the last time you visited a zoo and watched the chimpanzees? One need not be a rocket scientist to notice the many obvious similarities between apes and people. Indeed that is part of the fascination we have for primates at zoos. We both have fingers with opposable thumbs replete with fingerprints. We have similar facial expressions and share many social interactions. Such marked similarities have been seen as proof of common ancestry since Darwin’s time. For medical reasons we first studied human anatomy. At first the dissection of cadavers was taboo and cages were built holding bodies under clear streams. Anatomists watched as the bodies decomposed and the flesh was eaten away by aquatic organisms. Drawings were made from such “stream dissection” and the parts of the human body were given names. As medical science advanced cadavers were eventually dissected and gradually physiologists learned the function of the parts. Much later the anatomy and physiology of other animals were studied. By this time evolution was firmly entrenched and students dissecting various animals were encouraged to use human anatomical nomenclature where feasible. Thus the bones of the wing of a bat, flipper of a whale, front leg of a cow and arm of a chimpanzee all have similar names (see the photo sent separately), as do the muscles, blood vessels and nerves. As a sidebar there is indeed a bit of circular reasoning here. Scientists set out to use similar names for similar structures on different animals and now such similar named structures are used as evidence of common ancestry. However the philosophical weakness is not the issue here.
The similarity in structure between various animals is obvious. Many animals have four legs. Many others have six and eight legs. Apes and humans alone share many more traits such as opposable thumbs and frictional ridges (fingerprints) and even facial expressions and social behavior. Does this mean we are closely related? Many in science see the evidence as firmly pointing to us sharing a common bloodline…proof positive that modern apes and humans evolved over time from the same ancestor. This is in sharp contrast to what the Bible plainly teaches regarding the origin of man. Could God’s Word be in error and science correct? These are important issues and must be resolved for they influence all aspects of life and spiritual growth. As a secular college professor I saw dozens of fine young science majors who were also Christians deeply troubled by these issues. Many could not face the arguments and changed their majors to other majors far a field from science, possibly missing out God’s calling on their life. Others remained in doubt regarding the truth of God’s Word. Their spiritual life and Bible study was forever diminished. These issues MUST be faced head on and resolved. This is my motivation for writing and sharing these essays online. Let’s proceed.
Comparative Biochemistry: When one studies the various molecules found in human and animal tissue one again finds obvious similarities. The very same chemical elements are found in all living things. Life is carbon based and life processes occur in an aqueous environment. Water is essential to all living things. Similar organic molecules make up men and mice and ants and trees and bacteria. The same amino acids are building blocks of all protein molecules in elephant or salamander. There are striking similarities in the hemoglobin molecule of earthworms and humans. Are all animals related? Does this prove we are all derived from the same stock? Even more biochemical similarities show up between chimpanzees and people. Chimpanzee and human hemoglobin are nearly identical. Again this evidence is used, even more forcefully to “prove” the fact of evolution. I used the term “more forcefully” here deliberately for the deep arguments from comparative biochemistry are usually found only in graduate level courses…where it would appear to the naive student everyone bows to evolution as Creator of all life. It is at this level I have often heard professors say, “There is far more evidence supporting evolution than there is supporting gravity.” Of course such statements shows they know nothing of physics and have not thought critically about the dogma that is modern evolution. Yet, such arguments can forever weaken a young Christian science major’s faith in the Bible and his Creator. How can the Christian see all this evidence and remain confidant in the truth of Scripture? Has science disproved or at least weakened the Genesis account of Creation? Most secular college and university professors would answer with a resounding, “YES.” What are we to do with such evidence if God’s Word is indeed without error?
Proof of Creation: Let me make it clear Comparative Anatomy is an excellent course and looking back it proved to be one of my favorite and most useful courses I took as a student for in it I really did begin to appreciate how all vertebrates are put together. Through the intense dissection and study of a shark, salamander and cat I began to grasp the anatomy of the endless variety of animals having backbones. The material is good. It is the relentless evolutionary interpretation that is damning.
Remember this is indirect or circumstantial evidence of evolution. Other interpretations are possible. If one looks closely at college textbooks on Comparative Anatomy one will often find a disclaimer where the author admits the data to be circumstantial with other possible interpretations. Of course those other interpretations are not mentioned and the author will then go on to admit the entire book will be seen as supporting evolution. In a similar vein a few astute professors will admit the evidence from comparative anatomy will be seen as supporting evolution, but other views exist. Again they unfortunately fail to provide a clue as to what other interpretations might be plausible. Let me give you a most plausible and logical alternative way to view all the data from Comparative Anatomy and Comparative Biochemistry. Yes, the similarity between various animals can indeed be seen as evidence of common ancestry. With equal validity it can also be seen as evidence of a common Creator. Allow a simple illustration.
I loathe large crowds of people. I feel uncomfortable in the press of people at a state fair or theme park. I am most content communing with nature alone in a forest, desert or along side a clear stream...or driving my big rig across this great land. However as an illustration lets assume I am at a theme park waiting in line. Isn’t waiting in line the reason people go to theme parks? I am shocked to see that person just ahead of me could be my identical twin. I don’t have a twin brother. Just because he and I happen to look alike, (Heaven help him!) in no way proves we are related. So it is with comparative anatomy. Similarity between my hand and the hand of a chimpanzee in no way proves we are related. I see such similarities as evidence of a common Creator. The protein molecule hemoglobin provides an efficient method for transporting oxygen thus God used variations of it over and over. Four legs seem to work quite well for many terrestrial vertebrates so God used it a great deal. More legs seem to work better for animals with hard exoskeletons such as insects and spiders so God used it for millions of species. Due to similar size, anatomy and life styles chimpanzees and humans require a large amount of oxygen. Why not use a similar transport molecule? My point is simple. Yes, the similarities seen between various animals can be seen as evidence of common ancestry, but it can equally be seen as evidence of a common Creator. Now wasn’t that easy?
Be informed: Anytime you hear on some nature program or read in a science book that certain groups of plants or animals are closely related evolution is implied. Modern science teaches toads and frogs are related (cousins in the popular science literature). God’s Word says He created many different kinds and that those kinds were to reproduce after their kind. And he did so quickly, not as a process over vast time periods. Thus God’s Word clearly prohibits frogs and toads or men and chimpanzees from having a common ancestor.
Application: Christian science students must learn to be persuasive and skilled in using these arguments in witnessing to lost students of science and to Christian students concerned with the many contradictions they see between science and the Word of God. Please understand that with regards to the indirect evidence we cannot “prove” Creation, nor can the evidence be used to “prove” evolution.
In order to witness to those in science we must keep several things in mind. We must always pray the Holy Spirit prepare their hearts for it is spiritual blindness, not the facts of science, which keeps them from seeing Truth. Pray for their understanding and that the veil be removed so they can clearly see and understand the evidence for Creation. Regarding Comparative Anatomy do NOT be dogmatic or arrogant. Say only, “Yes, the similarity can be seen as indicating a common ancestor, but it can also be seen as indicating a common Creator.” Let the Holy Spirit do His work. Our task is to be informed and ready to give the reason for our hope.
Comparative Anatomy proof of common Creator and intelligent design.
Comments, questions or farther discussion? Email me at Docgater@aol.com