Charles Jackson, a biology professor from Ashland, Ky., presented a lecture titled, “Does Molecular Biology Support Evolutionary Theory?” to the College’s Secular Student Alliance on Sept. 11.
Jackson, who said he has no training in theology, argued molecular biology does not provide adequate validation for the theory of evolution.
“You can believe in evolution if you choose to, but you can’t do it because you believe molecular biology is evidence for the theory,” Jackson said.
Jackson used the classic example of evolutionists’ belief humans and apes share a common ancestor, the missing link, to argue his point.
According to Jackson, people who support the evolutionary theory compare the genes of apes to the genes of humans and say, “all these genomes are due to mutations.” He said this is the underlying assumption in evolution.
Creationists believe, however, the genes of apes are so similar to the genes of humans because they are physically similar, Jackson said.
“Chimps and humans have similar DNA, creationists would say, since they have similar physiological structures,” Jackson said.
The missing-link concept was further complicated when a study published recently said Homo erectus “can’t be in our direct line of descent, which forced the rejection of Homo erectus as a human missing link,” according to Jackson.
Jackson also argued fossils cannot be definitively used as proof to support evolution, because creationists feel fossils support their theory.
“Evidence is not proof,” Jackson said. “We’re all looking at the same fossils, but coming up with two separate theories.”
Following Jackson’s lecture, Dan Cardinale, vice president of the Secular Student Alliance, presented an argument in support of evolutionary theory.
According to Cardinale, establishing the structure of DNA was a test for the theory of evolution, and showed “changes had to be heritable in order to support natural selection.”
This proves there is a lineage between humans and apes because there are certain changes that occurred, he said. Cardinale used the example of human chromosome 2 and the corresponding chromosomes 12 and 13 in apes, suggesting that human chromosome 2 resulted from the fusion of the ape chromosomes.
Cardinale also said the word “theory” in science has a much stronger connotation than when it is used in colloquial speech. In science, a theory has been tested, is supported by data and “accurately predicts results of further investigations,” he said.
“In science, you never necessarily prove something,” Cardinale added. “Every conclusion in science is tentative.”
“I felt that (the lecture) was extremely informative and well-organized,” Matt Pihokker, senior English major, said. “Both sides made their points and argued well, but the scientific, non-theistic side was able to back up any assertions with real facts.”
Kelly Duncan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.