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Lies from your College Biology Class

[Note to reader: this series of articles is to expose the false science that is presented in a popular college biology textbook. When this series of articles is complete it will be posted as a free ebook on this website.]


Every college student will be expected to take credits in science. It is very likely that one will take a course on biology. One popular college biology text book is What is Life? by Jay Phelan.1)Jay Phelan, What is Life?: A Guide to Biology (Third Edition), W.H. Freeman & Company (New York, NY: 2015). From here on cited as WIL. In a classroom setting, this textbook may seem authoritative, especially with a qualified professor teaching from it. However, there are many unproven and unprovable assumptions, scientific inaccuracies, and bold lies presented as facts throughout the textbook.

For example, Phelan makes claims such as “Darwin’s theory has proven to be among the most important and enduring contributions in all of science.”2)WIL, p. 324 But students need to learn to ask critical questions, such as, “Exactly what has the idea of evolution contributed to the world?” What invention, what medicine, what technology, what exactly could not exist today without being dependent on the evolutionary philosophy? Dr. Nancy M. Darrall holds a B.S. in agricultural botany from the University of Whales, a Ph.D., in botany from the University of Whales, and M.S. in speech and language pathology and therapy from the University of London. He has testified,

I studied the nature of DNA, genes, and chromosomes and went on to look at gene expression in individuals and populations and the transfer of genetic information to subsequent generations. We learned to classify plants by traditional methods and modern techniques. The professor who lectured this last course commented that evolutionary theory had provided no new techniques or procedures for constructing classifications and that speculative attempts to produce phylogenetic trees and systems without much valid evidence actually retarded the progress of taxonomy (Heywood, 1967).3)Dr. Nancy Darrall, In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation (ed. John F. Ashton), Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 2005), p. 184

In other words, by assuming an evolutionary relationship between all living things caused the actual progress of science to be hinder from advancing as quickly as it could have.

Another claim made by Phelan in our text book is, “There have been no credible challenges to the basic principles of evolution and how it proceeds.”4)WIL, p. 358 Again, let us ask a critical question. What is he willing to accept as “credible?” Does he reject the credibility of every author who rejects evolution simply because they reject evolution? Has he read any author that has written critically on evolution? How is he defining “basic principles of evolution?” We will discuss Phelan’s definitions later in this book and discern his errors of his logic. But for now, it is enough to note that multitudes of modern scientists, with and without religious opinions, reject the basic principles of evolution. For example, The Discovery Institute has published “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” with over 1,000 scientists who agree with the following statement: “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”5)accessible at https://dissentfromdarwin.org/ 

Furthermore, Dr. Jerry Bergman, who has nine degrees, two being Ph.Ds., and over 700 publications, has compiled a list of 3,000 scientists that doubt evolution. His list entitled, “Darwin Skeptics: A Select List of Science Academics, Scientists, and Scholars Who are Skeptical of Darwinism,” is introduced with Bergman’s explanation:

The sources for the members of this list include primarily persons of my acquaintance, from their involvement in creationist or Darwin Doubter organizations, or books that they have written. The list is very incomplete, and I apologize for the many omissions. I estimate that, if I had the time and resources, I could easily complete a list of over 10,000 names….

On my public list, I have close to 3,000 names, including about a dozen Nobel Prize winners but, unfortunately, a large number of persons that could be added to the public list, including many college professors, did not want their name listed because of real concerns over possible retaliation or harm to their careers. Many of those who did not want their names on this list are young academics without tenure, or academics who are concerned that “outing” them could seriously damage their career. This is a valid concern. For this reason I have a private list with well over a 1,000 names.6)accessible at https://www.rae.org/essay-links/darwinskeptics/

Can the multitudes of technical scientific publications offering critiques of evolution be sweepingly brush off by Phelan as if they offer “no credible challenges?” In fact, we can ask, does Phelan offer any credible evidence of the basic principle of evolution? An astute student can see in the footnotes of this book that many publications cited to refute Phelan were published years earlier, sometimes decades earlier, causing us to question why Phelan is perpetuating “science” when his evidences have been refuted long before his published textbook?

This book is being written to counter some of these errors and to stir critical thinking in college student. Many people simply follow the consensus opinion because they think that is the only option. However, many scientists have changed their worldview after being confronted with opposing evidence to what they have been taught through the years of education. This is especially true concerning the topic of origins. Many scientists have shared their testimonies of how and why they came to reject evolution.7)A few sources that have been published are: On the Seventh Day: Forty Scientists and Academics Explain Why They Believe in God (Ed. John F. Ashton), Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 2002); In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation (Ed. John F. Ashton), Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 2005); and Persuaded by the Evidence: True Stories of Faith, Science and the Power of the Creator (Ed. Doug Sharp and Jerry Bergman), Master Books (Green Forest, AR: 2008).

Many people assume or have been told that the creation vs. evolution debate is a religion vs. science debate. However, evolutionary philosopher of science, Dr. Michael Ruse has accurately put it as a religion versus religion debate. Dr. Ruse was one of the main witnesses in the 1981 court case in Little Rock, Arkansas, for the constitutionality of equal-time for creation and evolution in the class rooms. Dr. Duane Gish was a witness on the creationist’s perspective who has made a comment that evolution was as much a religion as creation since it stands on the faith of those who believe it with a lack of empirical evidence to establish a claim of science. Dr. Ruse dismissed the idea at the time but would spend the next twenty years reconsidering the relationship of evolution and religion. In a Canadian Newspaper dated May 13, 2000, he wrote, “Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint–and Mr. Gish is but one of many to make it–the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.”8)Michael Ruse, “How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? Darwinians wrongly mix science with morality, politics”, National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7 (May 13, 2000). He later published a book entitled, Darwinism as Religion (2017).9)Michael Ruse, Darwinism as Religion, Oxford University Press (New York, NY: 2017).

If we were to ask, “what is wrong with What Is Life?,” the simplest answer would be that it is written from a strictly atheistic presupposition. The majority of American students would find fault with this fact. Much of what is being taught in this text book is indebted to circular reasoning. It infers only one option to interpret science based on the presupposed philosophical rejection of the possibility that God exists. If the student were asked, “is there a spiritual reality that impacts life?,” we are likely to have reasons to reject the conclusions presented by Jay Phelan’s explanation of What Is Life. If we were to take into consideration what the Bible has to respond to the question “what is life?,” we would find the answer in 1 John 5:20. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”



Heath Henning
Heath Henning
Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children. Read Heath Henning's Testimony

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