Things Darwinian Evolution Cannot Explain

With my background in engineering, one of the most common topics I have encountered over the years is Darwinian evolution. Because of that, it has become one of my favorite topics to research and discuss. The theory of macroevolution – that all life descended from one common ancestor due to random genetic mutations – can be found everywhere, from high school science textbooks, college history courses, and even children’s movies. Because it pervades nearly all areas of our lives, people just naturally assume this theory must be true. However the popularity of a theory is not what validates a theory. If so, then I would expect to find unicorns congregating in every elementary school hallway.

Believing something to be true simply because it is a pervasive theory is one of the most dangerous logical fallacies we can make. True scientific pursuits will look at the scientific evidence and follow logically where it leads. When this universe is examined honestly, it reveals details and design that the naturalistic explanation of Darwinian evolution fails to explain. And not just because “we don’t know the answer yet,” but because a naturalistic answer is not possible. From the anthropic fine-tuning of the physical parameters of the universe to the irreducible complexity of DNA replication in the cell, there are too many examples of intricate design found within life to have an unintelligent, material, natural cause. The logical conclusion is that design comes from an intelligent designer, not blind, random forces of nature as Darwinian evolution claims. (For more on this topic, check out chapter 2 of my book, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity).

Darwinian evolution desires to explain this existence using material only, acting through natural processes alone. It does not allow for anything outside of this existence as a cause for this existence. While I love to look at the scientific details that require an intelligent, creative, all-powerful Creator, there are so many other aspects of our existence that cannot be explained without this Creator. Here are just a few to get you thinking about this topic.

1.) Living from non-living One of the first lessons elementary kids learn for biology is identifying living vs. non-living things. My kids have brought home worksheets where they were asked to identify whether a rock, flower, balloon, cat, and baseball were living or non-living. This seems truly elementary but it becomes a significant hurdle for Darwinian evolution. How do natural processes alone make the leap from living to non-living? Is there some physical process that can take a baseball and make it a living thing? There are specific characteristics something must have in order for it to be a living thing (movement, respiration, sensitivity, reproduction, nutrition, growth, and excretion). Natural processes working on matter only cannot make such a change from non-living to living. This is why Darwin’s book is called On the Origin of Species and not on the origin of life. He posited that all living things descended from a common ancestor, but he can give no account for where or how this common ancestor began.

The first item deals with life in general, but the rest of this list will look specifically at human life. According to Darwinian evolution, there is nothing unique or different about humans. We have simply progressed down the same evolutionary path as all other living things, even sharing a common ancestor with apes. However, there are things about humans that cannot be explained through this Darwinian evolutionary process. I came across a quote by Charles Magel that was an interesting assessment of this point. He said, “Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is, ‘Because the animals are not like us.’” This is a fascinating observation. Yes, we share a lot in common with animals but we must agree there is something unique about humans that separates us from the animal world.

2.) Desire for discovery Humans have an almost insatiable desire for discovery. Whether it is under the sea, across the sea, on top of the mountains, or into space, humans have a desire for discovery and exploration. When humans encounter this world around us we have a deep desire to understand “why.” It is what compels nearly everything we do. If an apple falls and hits a dog on the top of the head, the dog will move to another spot. If an apple falls and hits a human on the head, the human will wonder why it fell, why the tree was there, and even why that particular tree grew apples.

No other creature on earth looks at the heavens and wonders what is out there. No other creature studies nature to understand how it works. These are unique features about humankind. Nothing in naturalism explains why this is a part of the human existence, especially since the quest for knowledge is oftentimes at odds with “survival of the fittest.” Humans are very often willing to sacrifice their life to discover new things, simply to leave the human race with the next bit of knowledge. But what blind natural process could have generated a being that would ask the question why – and would search for the answer?

3.) Complex and theoretical thinking Of course in order to study this universe around us, we must be capable of complex and theoretical thinking. But if we are material only, formed out of natural processes, how could we ever trust any theoretical thinking? We could no more trust our thoughts than we could trust a calculator assembled by apes to do our calculus homework. Granted, if we were a product of only natural processes we wouldn’t have to worry about calculus because it would be meaningless to us. The fact that we have this level of complex, theoretical thinking – and that we trust this thinking – indicates we are more than just matter. Our thoughts have significance and have some level of reliability to them. This goes directly against what our existence would look like if we were a product of naturalism.

4.) Language, specifically written language Most animals have some form of communication. So if this were about communication, that would not be anything unique to humans. Animal communication, however, is very different from human language. Animals communicate when there is danger nearby, for mating purposes, or when expressing some need or basic emotion (hunger, fear, play). Human communication goes so much deeper than that. We express ourselves in ways far beyond simple animal signaling. We express deeper emotion, our passions and desires, and of course all of those complex and theoretical thoughts we have! If that weren’t enough to separate us from animals, we take it a step further and have a language that is written. In studying ancient civilizations, this is always the sign of intelligence. Humans are able to scratch out symbols, pictograms, or characters in a particular arrangement in order to communicate in a far more sophisticated way than animals. Random genetic mutations does not result in an increase in genetic information. It would not be able to add information to increase intelligence in such a way that humans can work out a code for language and complex communication.

5.) Information If archaeologists consider written language a sign of intelligence in ancient civilizations, then we must draw the same conclusion from the written language in our cells. Darwinian evolution works on the idea that there are mutations in the genetic code to program a new feature in an organism. But it can’t explain the very existence of the genetic code itself, that written language in our cells. For that matter, Darwinian evolution cannot explain the existence of information. Information cannot come from an unintelligent source. Therefore, natural processes working only on material entities cannot produce information, especially information that is written in coded form. E.H. Andrews, Professor of Materials in the University of London said, “It is not possible for a code, of any kind, to arise by chance or accident…A code is the work of an intelligent mind. Even the cleverest dog or chimpanzee could not work out a code of any kind. It is obvious then that chance cannot do it…Codes do not arise from chaos.” Yet every cell contains information written in code that directs and organizes every living thing. This cannot be the result of a random, chaotic process acting on matter. This is something Darwinian evolution cannot explain.

6.) Musical instruments Humans are not the only creatures that make music, but we certainly take it to a different level. Typically, animals make sounds as their base form of communication. And while at times to us it can be enjoyable to listen to the cacophony of nature’s sounds, for the animal it is usually serving some actual purpose other than just the joy of making music. Humans, however, take the time to make instruments of all types to find new and interesting ways of producing sounds. We use this music not just to signal other animals around us, but to express emotion and to communicate ideas. We use it to share joy or sadness, anger or love. And we produce this music using instruments – simply for our entertainment! This is something unique to humankind. We paint, sing, dance, and act for entertainment. We stop to admire that which is beautiful, like a colorful sunset or a magestic mountain. We stop to observe the beauty in nature and it brings peace to our souls. How does Darwinian evolution explain this uniquely human feature? What survival advantage is there for making music or creating art? What natural explanation can be given that our existence makes room for appreciating beauty?

7.) Marriage Though many animals mate for life, marriage is vastly different. Marriage is a solemn commitment before God and others that you will not only just co-exist with one another, but will love one another, support one another, care for one another in whatever circumstances life may bring. The marriage vows run far deeper than just mating for life. It involves love and commitment. It involves two people becoming as one. Even when marriages fail, it is so hurtful because deep in our souls we know that is not how it is supposed to be. Our failures and disappointments in marriage point out that we know what marriage is supposed to be like. And it is supposed to be far greater than cohabiting and raising offspring together.

There is no evolutionary reason for the concept of marriage. In all honesty, evolution would promote the strongest male mating with as many strong females as possible. Nature would promote the fittest to survive and would discard the weak. Evolution would not promote monogamy, commitment, devotion, and love. Not only is there no evolutionary explanation for marriage, there’s no human explanation for marriage. Where did humankind come up with this concept? There is no place in nature where it could be observed and no discernible reason why it would be invented. As my dad always says about my mom, who recently passed away, “I love my sweet Jan more than evolution would allow.” There is not a Darwinian evolutionary reason for love. Love is something that goes far beyond our genetic code, our material existence, our perpetuation of our species.

8.) Humans exist You have to admit, there must be something unique about our existence that rises above just the natural world. From the natural world perspective, we would be the least likely species to ever survive to the next generation. We have no fur to keep us warm in cold climates, our skin burns and peels with too much exposure to sun in warm climates, or shrivels up with too much exposure to wet climates. We have no claws for warding off attackers. We have no huge teeth to sink into our prey. We’re not very fast. We can’t stay under water for long periods of time. We can’t jump. We can’t fly. We’re not great at climbing trees. Naturally, we have every reason to be extinct. Except we have these features that Darwinian evolution cannot explain. We have reason. We have complex thought. We have theoretical thinking. We have detailed communication. We have creativity. We have coded information in our DNA. We have marital love. None of these can be the result of random, natural processes acting on material alone. They are the evidence of a divine, loving Creator who uniquely formed humans in His likeness.

Cathryn Buse

Cathryn Buse grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a masters in Engineering. She worked for nearly ten years in the engineering field supporting Department of Defense missile programs, commercial rocket manufacturing, and NASA design programs. From her experience in engineering, Cathryn discovered that people had a skepticism of religion in general and Christianity in particular. This started her pursuit to study apologetics so she could help others see the truth of the Christian faith and bring thinking minds into faith in Jesus. She founded Defend the Faith Ministry to teach, speak, and write on various apologetics topics. Cathryn has authored two books and is currently working on her third. She now resides in Decatur, Alabama with her husband and two sons.You can learn more at