Over since the publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859, his theory of natural selection has been a matter of debate. The theory claims that life on Earth began and developed by chance and all living things come from a common ancestor. Likewise, the theory claims that apes are the closest relatives of human beings.
Even if the defenders of the theory admit it to be just a theory, it is still being presented to the masses as if it were a scientific fact. In fact, there is a great deal of evidence against the theory, and this accumulates, day by day. Recently, the claims of great genetic similarity between apes and human beings have been refuted. The article entitled, “Chimpanzee Chromosome Surprised,” published in Nature reveals that the genes of humans and chimpanzees are far more different than they were thought to be.
An interview was held with Dr Michael J. Behe, a leading American biochemist. Dr Behe, famous for his work criticizing the theory of evolution, has made important contributions to shedding light on the question of the true origin of life:
Dr Behe, could you tell us about your opinions concerning the scientific data given in the article published in Nature that proves the genes of humans and chimpanzees to be very different in reality?
A group of researchers from the University of Tokyo have compared all the letters on the alphabets of the 21st and 22nd chromosomes. The conclusion they arrived at is very remarkable, for it has turned out that there was a far greater difference between the two species, as opposed to what was formerly accepted. Darwin’s theory really gets into trouble here. As a matter of fact, the more we learn about biology, the more trouble Darwinism gets into. If we have a superficial knowledge of living beings, we think them to be simple and we can accept Darwinism, which tries to explain seemingly simple systems through small accidental changes. Within the last thirty years however, we have learned that life is incredibly complex, beyond our imagination. For instance, bacteria, seen by evolutionist taxonomy to be the simplest creatures, have minute but very complicated and perfect biochemical motors that enable them to move. The only way to explain how bacteria can have such a complex mechanism is to accept the existence of a supernatural creation.
Then what does the similarity between the different proteins, genes, and organs of different creatures signify?
No, similarities between different creatures first of all fail to answer the basic question of biology. That is, how did organs and systems so peculiar and complicated come to exist? Darwinism can give no answer to that.
On the other hand, there are surprising similarities even between the species that are thought to be very different from each other. Between humans and bacteria for instance. . . The question is: “Do these similarities constitute a picture compatible with Darwin’s theory?” In fact, they don’t, because the species which are supposed to be close relatives according to Darwinist claims sometimes turn up to be genetically different. Or some living beings that are supposed to be totally irrelevant to each other have very similar organs or genes. For example, the human eye and the eye of the octopus are almost the same. But of course this does not mean that we are relatives of octopuses. It is more logical to accept that these two eye structures do not come from a “common ancestor,” but from a design that emanates from “the knowledge of a single Creator.”
In my opinion, this concept of “design” is based on the theory of “intelligent design,” which you also support. Do you think this theory explains the similarities between living things better?
Yes, you can explain these similarities through design. We know that many designers or inventors use similar parts in different systems. For instance bolts, nuts, or cables are used in different devices. They are the best pieces to be used in the relevant mechanical systems. Of course, we cannot say that one device with a cable evolved from another. They were designed separately. The intelligent design theory is very consistent in its accounting for such similarities.
The intelligent design theory is sometimes severely criticized by defenders of Darwinism and they have tried to refute it. There is an inclination to present Darwinism as if it were an undeniable part of biology. What do you think is the reason behind this?
The reason is not scientific, but rather there is a philosophical and ideological aspect. Some scientists believe that we must explain the universe and life by natural factors alone. The basis for their belief is presumption that accepts the universe as a product of natural forces alone. But what if this is not so? Even when we see a pair of eyeglasses, we know that it is not a product of natural forces; we can infer that it was made by an intelligent and skilled optician. And life is thousands of times more complex than that. Therefore, we conclude that life must have been created as well. Here, the important point is evaluating scientific evidence without prejudice, as much as possible. Darwinists claim that science cannot accept a supernatural power. But until the mid-19th century, a great majority of scientists accepted the existence of a creative power, namely, God. The claim that science should be materialistic became widespread after Darwin. However, this claim increasingly conflicts with scientific evidence. Science should not try to give a materialistic explanation for life but rather to produce a correct explanation for life. Evidence should be analyzed, even if some people’s philosophical assumptions are disturbed.
Your book “Darwin’s Black Box” has been chosen as one of the most important 100 books of the 20th century by National Review magazine. In your opinion, what was it that made this book so important?
As a matter of fact, the reason for this was not the new and original information found in the book. I only showed the reader that in molecular levels of life there are very sensitive and complex systems and all these constitute evidence for a conscious planning and organization. When most people take a superficial look, when they consider plants, animals, birds, or fish, they can feel that there is some plan and program. But Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is taught in schools, tells us that this order and system in nature can be explained without a Creator. I think the greatest influence of my theory was to show that the Darwinist explanation was too superficial and misleading.
The greatest problem for Darwinism is explaining how new biological structures, how new creatures, come into existence. Darwinism can shed light on how already existing biological structures may undergo small changes. For example, it can offer you an explanation about how the small differences in the beaks of finches in the Galapagos Islands appeared. But how did birds come to exist in the beginning? How did complex structures like the feathers or wings of a bird form? How did all the sensitive organs and systems like the brain, the eyes, the clotting of blood, all of which require several parts to work in perfect harmony, come to be? It is impossible for Darwinism to explain these, for each of these is a very complex structure that can function only when complete. The most consistent way to account for their origin is to accept the interference of a Conscious and Omnipotent Power, a supernatural Creator.
I believe that Darwinism is leaving the stage. It will be seen that explaining life through this theory is not possible and the theory will be abandoned. The process leading to this end has already begun. The reason for this is not what I and scientists like me are doing. The more we learn about life, the better we understand how complex it is. Scientists are beginning to realize that such complex structures cannot be attributed to purposeless and random mechanisms.
As we know, the supporters of Darwinism usually say that they think within scientific grounds, and those who oppose them base their ideas only on religious belief. The picture you are giving seems to be refuting this claim. Do you agree?
Yes, exactly. In the past people used to reject Darwinism on a religious basis. And the defenders of the theory so far have always claimed science to be on their side. But the surprising findings obtained since the last quarter of the 20th century have reversed the picture. Today, our rejection of Darwinism is not based on what we do not know; rather it is based on what we know. Now the followers of dogmatic thought are Darwinists themselves. We present them scientific evidence demonstrating that living beings are created in a planned and programmed fashion, whereas they reject this only due to their philosophical and ideological worldviews.
There are insistent narrow-minded defenders of old theories that occurred before scientific revolutions. But then science is victorious against false theories. I think this is what will happen to Darwinism soon.
Dr Michael Behe, still teaching biochemistry at Lehigh University, shook the scientific world with his book Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution in 1997. The National Review magazine defined his work as “one of the most influential books of the 20th century.” In his book, Dr Behe has put forward a new theory called “the intelligent design” in order to explain the origin of life. Today, there are hundreds of scientists, several institutions and scientific foundations that support the intelligent design theory. As a result of these organizations, the Darwinist claims in the school books in Georgia, Ohio, and New Mexico states have been taken out. The debates concerning this in other states are still going on. The organization Discovery Institute, which leads the intelligent design movement, is presided by Bruce Chapman, one of the consultants of Ronald Reagan.
The latest scientific research for comparing the genetic structures of humans and chimpanzees has revealed there to be a far greater difference between the two species than was thought to be. In the research carried out by a group of scientists presided by Dr Todd Taylor in Riken Genome Science Institute in Yokohama Japan, human and chimpanzee genes were compared one by one for the first time. The conclusion surprised the scientists, who had expected to find a great similarity. Dr Taylor et al. published the result of their research in their article in the famous science magazine, Nature. In the article entitled “Chimpanzee Chromosome Surprised” the first detailed comparisonhas revealed that human and chimpanzee genes are unexpectedly different.
Formerly, it was claimed that there was a 98% similarity between human and chimpanzee genes as a result of some limited comparison, and this proof was often repeated in support of evolutionist claims. Dr Fujiyama et al. for the first time made a detailed research on the subject. The scientists who meticulously compared the 22nd chromosome of chimps and the 21st chromosome of humans, which are claimed to be similar, found that 68,000 DNA units in total were different. The researchers have stated that in the 231 genes they studied, they determined a great deal of difference, approaching 83%, and that 23% percent of the genes they studied were completely irrelevant.
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper commented on this result, saying “chimps are not as close to us as they were thought to be.” Dr Jean Weissenbach, the leader of Genoscope, a genetic research institute in France, agreed and pointed to the fact that chimpanzees have thousands of genes that are different from us.