28. Common Descent or Common Design?
“He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer, in blue and in purple and in scarlet material, and in fine linen, and of a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.” Ex 35:35 (NASB)
Scripture says that man was created in God’s likeness. It also says God created everything. It stands to reason that if God designed and formed all we see in our world, He would endow the people created in His image with some ability to design and construct what they design. No other living thing makes complex tools and uses them to construct complex and artistic things for their own pleasure like humans. Many creatures fashion homes for themselves, but only humans draw up blueprints and hire help who can read those prints and build to a specification. Certain animals are known to use sticks or other objects they find as rudimentary tools or weapons, but only humans observe, design, and refine complex and efficient tools used for abstract and artistic purposes. Spiders weave beautiful webs, but their webs are built by instinct to perform a narrow range of functions. Beavers build homes inside dams with an underwater entrance, but they do not hang pictures on the wall nor invite friends over for card night.
The keen eye will observe countless similarities between various creatures, including humans. Evolutionists frequently cite these similarities as evidence of common descent. Creationists, on the other hand, cite the same similarities as evidence of a common Designer. Similarities are interesting and very useful in many ways, however it is the differences which draw the line between one kind of organism and another. An entire branch of biology, called taxonomy, is dedicated to identifying differences in organisms.
Almost all vertebrate animals have a head with a mouth, nose, two eyes, and a skull housing a brain. These similarities, touted as the result of common descent, are very superficial in light of the radical differences between various creatures within the realm of vertebrates. For example, a horse and a frog both have these features, yet they are radically different. One has hair, the other has none. One is easily a thousand times heavier than the other. In addition to obvious differences in appearance, various internal organs are different, much of their genetic codes are different, and their reproduction processes are different.
Even if you consider the donkey and horse, two animals seemingly very similar, there remain startling differences which make it easy for a child to tell them apart. Sufficiently similar creatures, like a horse and a donkey, may sometimes breed. When this happens critical genetic differences result in sterile offspring—in this case a mule. Evolutionists try to explain this problem as the result of extinction of various intermediary evolutionary stages. If that were so, it still would not explain why supposedly similar creatures cannot bare fertile offspring. Instead, what we observe in nature are clear and unyielding boundaries between organisms large and small.
Insects are relatively small (compared with vertebrates) and have three body parts with six legs, regardless of the insect species. Exoskeletons provide excellent protection from the environment for comparatively smaller creatures. Unfortunately, the lack of internal bones makes it impossible to support large internal organs. Conversely, complex organ systems work best in an environment without a rigid external boundary like that of an insect’s exoskeleton. In each case the creature’s form is ideally suited to its size and lifestyle. Natural selection fails to explain why some creatures have internal skeletons while others have external skeletons, each ideally suited to size and function, yet both are skeletons. Both are said to have developed common characteristics like legs, eyes, and so forth, yet these developments must have happened independently.
The parallel development of similar features in evolutionarily unrelated organisms is called parallelism or convergence. Birds, bats, and many insects are capable of winged flight. Certain types of spiders, snakes, and marine life are venomous. Many of the other things mentioned above are also considered examples of parallelism. A few others would be teeth, legs, toenails, tails, and so on. On the other hand, divergence is the term for extreme differences between otherwise relatively similar living things. Divergence is the basis of taxonomy. Without divergence it would not be possible to clearly classify one kind of organism with respect to another. The evolution model utterly fails to adequately explain parallelism and divergence.
In all but a few asexual species of relatively low animal life, animals of every type from insect to arachnid to mammal reproduce only by male and female heterosexual sex. Even plant life has “male” and “female” counterparts that must combine to reproduce. Most animals have a heart and circulatory system, a breathing system (lungs, gills, etc.), nervous system, and so forth. Most plants have roots, leaves, photosynthesis, nutrient flow, and breathing systems. There are many more similarities between plant and animal cells than there are differences, yet no one confuses plants and animals. Vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell are common across most of the animal kingdom. Although sensory systems of other kingdoms (such as plants, bacteria, viruses, etc) are less well understood, at least some form of ability to sense environment exists in almost all living organisms down to as little complexity as a single cell. Living things need certain things to survive. These include the right environment (heat, light, shelter), food, water, air, and a mate. Most organisms will react to their environment in ways that optimize their ability to survive and thrive. To this end we experience hunger, thirst, hot and cold, and so forth.
Ultimately, there is no logical reason to suppose the first randomly combined organic molecules formed by chance with sensory systems capable of helping those few molecules survive and thrive. Perhaps most curious is the notion that such randomly formed molecules would have any sort of will to procreate and survive in an environment which would by any reckoning be brutally hostile. A rational mind must confront these difficulties and in so doing must see that soup to man evolution is only possible in the wishful thinking of a man who seeks to deny the alternative.
While similarities may provide broad support for both Evolution and Creation, it is in the differences where we find Evolutionary theory becoming untenable. The existence of an intelligent Designer the only reasonable possibility. The evidence of similarity and differences in the living things we observe demand we recognize the earmarks of design. Creation is a matter of faith in a specific account of origins just as Evolution is likewise a matter of faith in a man-made concept of origins. Between these two faiths, only Creation accepts the existence of an intelligent designer.