Review: Jonathan Park: Ep. 44 – Darwin’s Fiery Mountain, Part 1

For more Jonathan Park reviews, click here.

Plot Summary:

An anonymous host has invited the Creation Response Team to investigate a new species of tortoise discovered in the Galápagos Islands, but something doesn’t seem quite right. Why are they on the island of Fernandina when the tortoises are found on Santa Cruz? Just as the team discovers their host’s secret motives for stranding them on the island, they have a bigger problem — surviving the eruption of Fernandina! (Taken from here.)

The Study Guide for episodes 44-45 can be found here: jp_vol4_study_guide_epi44-45

Topics in this episode:

  • Evolutionists and Evolution
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Galapagos Island Tortoise
  • Mutations
  • Natural Selection
  • Problems for the YEC

 

Background Information

The Jonathan Park CDs are produced by Vision Forum Ministries.  Through these CDs, VF hope to ‘provide children and adults with scientific evidence that is in harmony with the Word of God’.  [Which raises the questions, ‘What does “in harmony” mean?’ and ‘What do they do with scientific evidence that is not in harmony with the Word of God?’]

Tagline: This is our Father’s world, God created it; we can explore it, so live the adventure!

NOTE: The producers of this series neglect to reference their information in any form.  No references is ever given either on the CD or in the Study Guide for ANY information presented in the series.  Even the voice actors of the series are not given any credit anywhere.  We only know that the series is a production of Vision Forum Ministries.

Topics:

Review

Evolutionists and Evolution

The Story: Jonathan says, ‘Evolutionists are always talking about how animals are turning into other animals.’ (1:44)

The Facts: Once AGAIN, we have the YEC characters use the word evolutionist in a way that is not used by mainstream scientists.  The term that Jonathan is looking for is evolutionary biologists; they are biologists who specialise in the  study of the origin, descent and changes in species. Dr Park does nothing to correct Jonathan; in fact he uses this word too, and refers to himself as a former evolutionary paleontologist!

The Story: Dr Park explains to Jonathan that the two driving forces of evolution are mutations and natural selection. He likens the process to a two-stroke engine where the upward stroke that provides the ‘fuel’ is mutations and the downward stroke which drives the ‘engine’ forward is natural selection (2:18-2:26).

Mutations are mistakes in an animal’s genetic code; the plans for how an animal will grow.  Evolutionists say that the right kind of mistakes could actually change an animal for the better. “And this where the upward stroke (sic) of the engine comes into play – natural selection.”  Natural selection weeds out the animals that are less fit to survive in the environment. (2:26-3:32)

The Facts:This is actually a pretty good summary of how evolution works! Evolution can (roughly) be described as a two-step process: mutations and natural selection.  So far, so good.

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The Story: Dr Park continues by saying that when we actually look at mutations and natural selection, they work the opposite of what the evolutionary theory says.   He then quotes Genesis 1:24 and concludes that we know that animals just aren’t evolving. Jonathan agrees with a “Good answer!” (3:32-4:05)

The Facts: And FAIL!

There is overwhelming evidence for evolution.

Mutations and natural selection will be explored later on in the program.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Galapagos Islands

The Story: The characters talk about the Galapagos Islands – where they are and the important role they played in Darwin’s life.

Many people have been so influenced by Darwin’s ideas of animals slowly evolving over long periods of time that even today there are evolutionists (there’s that word again!) on the islands trying to document how evolution is happening there.

Many of the animals there are unique to that island and for that reason many think that it is the perfect place to study the effects of evolution. There is even a Charles Darwin Research Station (but) all they are really observing is beautiful examples of variety and adaptation that God has already placed into the creatures there.  Although they claim it as evolution, none of their observations fit their theory that mutations and natural selection can change one animal into another.  They are missing the two-stroke engine! (10:33-11:14)

The Facts:

The facts and history about Charles Darwin’s voyage on the HMS Beagle and his subsequent ideas of natural selection appear to be correct.

Here is the Charles Darwin Research Station website. A look at their main objectives reveals that they are not there to study the effects of evolution as the JP show seems to imply.  I guess that research station is guilty by association simply because they chose to name their station after Darwin.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Galapagos Island Tortoise

The Story: We learn that it is the tortoise’s shell that can be used to differentiate between the species. Dr Park explains that the scientific name for the Galapagos Island Tortoise is Geochelone elephantopus and that

evolutionists have broken it down to 15 subspecies.  The evolutionists believe that the tortoises are evolving differently. (14:30-15:13)

The Facts: The Galapagos tortoise used to be classified under the genus Geochelone and subgenus Chelonoidis, but Chelonoidis has been ‘upgraded’ to genus status.  So the scientific name for the Galapagos tortoise is now Chelonoidis nigra.

Individual tortoises use the colours and the patterns on the shells (carapace) to identify others of their species.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Mutations

The Story: Dr Park explain that mutations and natural selection actually work the opposite of what evolutionary theory teaches.

Evolutionists believe that they are documenting slow changes brought on by mutations – mistakes in the animal’s genetic code over time.  But to make new animals, mistakes would have to add new information into an animal’s genetic code.  However, mutations don’t work the way evolutionists need for the two-stroke engine. Evolutionists say that thousands upon thousands of beneficial mutations created enough new information to turn a single cell into a complex animal. But since mutations are almost always harmful and often lose information, it seems to run contrary to the evolutionary theory.

Creationists, however, can easily explain all the different varieties of tortoises – they were already programmed into the DNA of the tortoises.  They are simply expressing different variations of the original created kind made by the Creator.  Even though the tortoises can vary and adapt, in the end they are still tortoises.

(15:13-16:16)

The Facts:

The topic of mutations was already explored and discussed in:

Ep. 11: The Return to Hidden Cave

Ep. 26: The Winds of Change, Part 2

Ep. 35: The Wilderness Express, Part 1

In short,

(i) mutations are not always harmful

(ii) mutations can add new information

The Creationists are making an Argument from Incredulity.  Just because something is hard to believe doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Natural Selection

The Story: Natural selection is the second part of the two-stroke engine.

Evolutionists like the finches on the Galapagos Islands because they have documented beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are changing.  However, this isn’t evolution – it’s (only) variation.

In the 1970s and 1980s, a very warm El Nino changed the weather on the Galapagos Islands. Many types of finches that were thought to be from different species began to breed with each other showing that they were actually the same type of finch.

Some of the finches have adapted so that they have very long beaks, enabling them to better reach into holes to retrieve grubs thus giving them an advantage over the other finches. According to evolutionary thought, if grubs ever became the sole source of food for these birds, the long-beaked finches would continue to thrive while the other finches would eventually die out. Remember that mutations are almost always harmful and leave a loss of information in the animal’s genetic code. If a creature has been made worse off, it will be less likely to survive than the others, so it will be the one to die out, not survive and pass on the mutations to its babies.

So, the second stroke of the evolutionary engine works the opposite to what the evolutionists need it to.

(20:47-22:15)

To Summarise:

The YEC characters seem to be saying that mutations do occur, but only for variation and adaptation.  Mutations have not been observed in changing one animal into another.  Also, mutations are almost always harmful and therefore those animals with mutated genes would be less likely to survive and hence die out sooner.

Secondly, Natural Selection also plays a role in adaptation. It influences variety that was pre-programmed into an animal. Animals showing bad mutation would not survive. So natural selection allows this mutation to die out. So Natural Selection works against evolutionary theory. It often keeps bad mutants from surviving to pass on the mutation.

So, mutations and natural selection do not work in the way that evolutionary theory requires because no new animals have been observed.

The Facts:There is overwhelming evidence for evolution.

For more information on what evolution is and how it works, a good place to start would be Evolution 101 put out by the University of California, Berkeley.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Problems for the YEC

Young-Earth Creationists reject the notion that the immense diversity of animals that we see today is a result of evolution, and yet they do have to contend that some form of evolution via natural selection must have taken place.  Not only do YECs have to explain the diversity, they also have to explain why predatory features exist in animals when such features would have been unnecessary at the Beginning in the perfect Garden of Eden.

Mainstream evolutionary biologists describe evolution via natural selection as taking place over millions of years, but YECs have to believe that complex mechanisms of attack and defence had to have evolved over a mere few thousand.  YECs also have to explain when these mechanisms arose.  Was it after the Fall but before the Flood, or after the Flood?

Many YECs contend that Noah only took on original ‘kinds’ of animals onto the Ark.  This would mean that these animals diversified, adapted and varied at a rate unlike anything mainstream evolutionary biology has ever seen!  So, YECs reject the notion that ‘new’ animals could evolve over millions of years but accept the notion that thousands and thousands of species could evolve in a few thousand.

[Click here to return to list of Topics.]

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Conclusion

The bulk of the program was on the adventure aspect.  Myles Morgan is getting more and more ruthless and ‘crazy’.  Sensitive listeners may want to avoid it.

The rest of the program was on mutations and natural selection and how they don’t work the way evolution is supposed to, and hence although mutations and natural selection do occur, they do not help evolution but merely adaptation and variation.

Overall, I feel that the information presented in this program raised many problems for the YEC position that need addressing and answering.

The volcano on the island the Creation Response Team is on the verge of erupting.  Will they be safe?  (I think we all know the answer to that!  This is only Volume 4 and there are more volumes to come.  Unfortunately.)

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Posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2011, in Evolution, Jonathan Park, Vision Forum, Young Earth Creationism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Kathy,

    I read a book a little while ago that you might find interesting – it’s called What Darwin Got Wrong. It’s written by two atheists, one a philosopher and the other a molecular biologist. Together they analyze the concept of natural selection and come to the conclusion that it couldn’t work. They still believe in evolution – it’s just that they believe another mechanism must have been responsible for bringing it about. Worth a read.
    Another book I’ve found very helpful is A Biblical Case for an Old Earth by David Snoke. The author doesn’t believe in evolution, but he does believe in an old earth, and he points out that the Bible can support this idea, including the idea of death before the Fall. He makes a distinction between “natural evil”, i.e. animals killing each other, natural disasters, etc, and “moral evil”, which is where people wilfully disobey God. I found his conclusions very satisfying overall, and it helped tip me over into the “old earth” camp. He also points out the various holes in the YEC theories and why the evidence just doesn’t support them.

    Like

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