The Evolution of Speculation

He seemed to be posing for a portrait.  The first picture I came across on the website had him staring at the camera.  He wasn’t smiling; his face seemed frozen in a perpetual frown, but I am sure it was not his fault.  It was no doubt genetic.

The completion of his DNA mapping had made the news.  His story was number one on National Geographic’s top ten headlines.  It seems the Los Angeles Times carried a story about the completion of his genome sequence.  It was recently published by a research scientist with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts Jessica Alfoldi in the journal Nature.

Let me introduce you to the coelacanth, an ancient fish thought to be extinct since the end of the Cretaceous period, more than 65 million years ago.  This is why the coelacanth has been dubbed the “living fossil.”  Fossilized remains of the coelacanth are numerous.

Based solely on the fossilized remains, absent the presence of any sarcous material (the soft tissues of the body such as skin, muscles, internal organs, etc., which typically do not survive fossilization) ichthyologists once theorized the coelacanth was an intermediate life form (i.e., missing link) between fish and amphibians.  The coelacanth had three pair of ventral fins fasten to lobes that appeared to be legs beginning to form.  They speculated the coelacanth lived in coastal marshes, could walk on land, and had gills and lungs.

Then in 1938 a native fisherman caught one in the waters between South Africa and Madagascar.  Ichthyologists’ theories about the coelacanth collapsed faster than a house of cards hit by a leaf blower.  Here is the first and it’s a biggy, the coelacanth is not extinct.  Oops!  In 1988, Hans Fricke working for National Geographic photographed the coelacanth in its natural habitat.  The coelacanth was discovered to be a pelagic, that is, it is a fish that lives in the deep water of the open seas, not in shallow coastal marshes.  Fricke observed (take note of this word observed) the coelacanth swam everywhere it went never attempting to “walk” with its three pair of ventral “limbs” even on the ocean floor.  Further study revealed the coelacanth is a true fish with gills and no lungs.

Scientists are very good at reporting what they discover through observation, but many times their speculative conclusions are more like science fiction than scientific fact.  Why?  Science is the discipline of observation, not speculation.  When scientists talk about things from the distant past they are talking about things that are unobservable.  It is easy to theorize about a dead fossil, but a living specimen can certainly change one’s view.  Well, maybe not.

The article in the Los Angeles Times goes on to report, “It didn’t take long after the African coelacanth’s discovery for biologists to speculate about its relationship to the ancient lobe-finned fishes that eventually evolved to become land vertebrates.”  It would appear the scientific community did not breathe a collective sigh over the mistakes of past speculations, before making new speculations.

The apostle Paul wrote, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2 Corinthians 10:5.  There is a difference between a fact and a speculation.  Paul is warning us not to forsake what we know about God as revealed in the Scriptures based on an unproven speculation.

That does not seem unreasonable to me.  What does seem unreasonable to me is to blindly embrace the speculations of evolutionists when those speculations have been repeatedly proven to be wrong.

The basic premise of modern science regarding the existence of mankind is the human race is the random product, of a mindless process, that began by accident.  The Scriptures maintain we are the divine product, of an intelligent design, that began with purpose.  The first view is based on speculation, the second on revelation.  I will not forsake what has been revealed for what has been speculated.

Neither of these views can be proven absolutely, but I do not intend to embrace speculations that have been repeatedly corrected, for the revelation in Scripture which has withstood the need for correction for several millennia.  I do believe in evolution, since science is constantly evolving.  In fact, the surest evidence for the existence of evolution can be clearly seen in the evolving speculations of science.


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