Does Naturalistic Evolution Explain Life?

Human Cell - Does Naturalistic Evolution Explain Life?
Simplified Illustration of Human Cell

George Gaylord Simpson wrote in his book The Meaning of Evolution (1949), “It is already evident that all the objective phenomena of the history of life can be explained by purely naturalistic…materialistic factors.” In other words, neo-Darwinism explains life. With that in mind, he writes, “Therefore, man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.” Despite Simpson’s confidence, does naturalistic evolution explain life?

It is worth noting that Simpson began the paragraph from which I took the above quotes with these words, “Although many details remain to be worked out…” That is an understatement! Those who insist that naturalistic, materialistic evolution explains life completely are purposely overlooking “many details.” Does naturalistic evolution explain life? Here are a few of the problems with that explanation:

The Origin of Life- How did non-living matter become alive?

The Origin of the Genetic Code- DNA contains a massive amount of information, and information originates from intelligent sources.

The Origin of Sexual Reproduction- Most plants and animals reproduce sexually, requiring both male and female gametes. How did this complex process originate and continue?

The Lack of Transitional Fossils– If the evolution of all life has been a gradual process, why don’t we see an abundance of fossils showing transitional stages between life forms? How can you explain the sudden appearance of life forms, such as in the “Cambrian Explosion,” which Darwin admitted was a mystery?

The Development of Complex Organ Systems How could they happen by gradual changes?

The Development of Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines– They exist within every living cell and require every part to be in place for them to function. Therefore, explaining their origin through a step-by-step process seems impossible.

Mathematical Difficulties- Mathematicians have calculated that the number of gradual changes required to go from unicellular life to all of the diverse life forms, including humans, would be mathematically impossible within the span of Earth’s 4.5 billion years of existence.

Barriers Between the Types of Life Forms- It is possible with intelligent breeding to produce new varieties of dogs, cows, or roses. However, they are still dogs, cows, or roses. The evidence for one type of living creature evolving into another life form is lacking.

Those are just a few of the details that “remain to be worked out.” Darwin recognized some of them, such as the biological big bang of the Cambrian era and the lack of intermediate fossils. He expected those details would be resolved in the future. More than a century and a half later, there is still no resolution to those problems, and many more have been added to the list.

Does naturalistic evolution explain life? Many scientists accept it because the scientific community would shun them if they didn’t. Others accept it not because of its explanatory power but because they see no acceptable alternative. So when someone says that evolution has disproven the need for God, remind them that these are only a few of the reasons why naturalistic evolution falls short of explaining why we are here.

— Roland Earnst © 2023