It seems to me that the "controversy" over creation and evolution exists at several levels. There is one level at which claims and counter-claims are made—"The facts prove evolution. Millions of fossils can't be wrong" versus "Creation is true." There is another level at which the facts reside. And there is a third "research" level, at which research can be conducted to try to determine the facts.
Some have decided to look at the evidence, rather than deal with the issue at the level of claims and counter-claims. In looking at the evidence, several people have been struck by the paucity—some would call it absolute lack—of evidence supporting evolution. Yet on the other hand, others have claimed that evolution is supported by much evidence.
Among those struck by the lack of evidence are some noteworthy examples. Dr. Gary Parker is one. He once wrote biology textbooks which were used in many schools and which taught evolution. However, when he began to learn more about evolution, he began to believe less and less in it until he finally became a creationist! And this, remember, is after he examined the evidence of—or lack thereof—more closely.
Another scientist who has come to see that random mutation could not possibly account for evolution is Dr. Lee Spetner. Dr. Spetner has a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, has published papers on evolution, and has taught at Johns Hopkins University and Howard University. Although he has put forth a theory that evolution occurs by means of some non-random mechanism which cannot yet be totally explained, he claims that neo-Darwinian evolution by means of random mutations is impossible. He has researched and taught information processing and believes information theory shows that neo-Darwinian evolution could not have occurred. He does not claim that evolution via mutations never happened—only that it must have been non-random. Although he argues for evolution by some other mechanism, the point here is that he argues against the random mutation-based, neo-Darwinian evolution. In fact, he has titled his book Not by Chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution (The Judaica Press, Inc., Brooklyn, 1998).
Concerning looking at the evidence, William Fix notes, in quoting Robert Broom (The Bone Peddlers—Selling Evolution, Macmillan, New York, 1984. p. 240):
Now it seems to me difficult to avoid the conclusion that behind the various devices for cross-fertilization in flowers, and the various arrangements for seed dispersal, there is intelligence somewhere. Fortuitous mutation or variation seems too far-fetched.
Incidentally, Broom discovered Australopithecus robustus and collaborated with Raymond Dart, who discovered Australopithecus africanus. This is an observation of an evolutionist worth paying attention to.
There are other examples of Fix's findings which I shall describe below, but the question naturally arises, Why? Why would anyone adhere to a theory in disagreement with the facts? Especially, why should a scientist?
Let us try to answer some of these questions. First, science being an exploration into new territory, one might expect some mistakes. After all, Daniel Boone's blazing a trial is different from our driving to the corner market! Certainly, early experiments and early evidence might lead one to a theory which later evidence might be able to disprove. The evidence may be rudimentary at the time of the theory's proposal. It is possible that some key facts were not ignored intentionally, but simply were not available or were not known early enough in the development of the theory. Perhaps scientists didn't have enough data to allow them to understand or determine the truth, so they guessed. Although we want to avoid jumping to erroneous conclusions, scientists like to theorize. It's their job. And theories are useful as guesses to explain the facts, but then let's be certain to call it a theory and not a fact.
This is where emotion and possibly other human factors (described below) can cause scientists to take an unwarranted dogmatic about position. Scientists, after all, are human. This may seem obvious, but it is worth repeating and reemphasizing and reiterating. They are human. As such, scientists may have an emotional attachment to an idea and adhere to it in spite of evidence to the contrary. Some scientists have been known to "fudge" their data; that is, to deliberately falsify evidence. Of course, not all scientists are actively involved in falsifying their data.
Another factor is that people—scientists included—may simply accept what they have been taught. They may not have actually checked out all the facts. They may accept the conclusions of their teachers without question.
Another factor to consider is what we might call peer pressure. If one sees all one's peers—be they scientists or teenagers—adhering to a certain idea, there might be some reluctance to espouse ideas at variance with the status quo. Yes, scientists are not supposed to do that, but recall, they are human.
Then there is the possibility of wanting to rid themselves of any personal responsibility, such as would be imposed by a supernatural creator. Without creation, without God, there are no rules from God for them to obey. They can do what they want.
For whatever reasons the scientist believes the theory is correct, that theory may simply be difficult to dislodge. Once convinced of the truth of a matter, some people become fixed with their opinion and ignore contradictory evidence, since the issue has already been decided in their minds.
Well, these reasons might sound plausible, but in reality aren't scientists more objective than this? Let's look at what some researchers have to say, some of whom are not creationists.
One such is William Fix, the author of The Bone Peddlers—Selling Evolution, already mentioned above. But Fix cannot be said to be a strict anti-evolution creationist, for he says (p. 313):
...it appears that both creationists and evolutionists are correct to some extent...
Concerning whether scientists are truly always objective, he goes on to say:
The greatest impediment to the advancement of science is not lack of evidence but lack of perspective. They can become so committed to a particular stance that they forfeit their detachment. At one time or another, respected authorities have declared that it was impossible that the earth could be a sphere, impossible that it could turn on its axis, impossible that matter could spontaneously decompose (which we know happens with radioactive elements), impossible that man could fly, impossible that man could break free of the earth's gravitational field.
I began my deeper researches into the question of evolution in a position I described as "middle of the road. ...the direct evidence from the fossil record is even weaker than I had thought, and what there is is much distorted by wishful thinking and, again, by wild extrapolation. ...
I next discovered the amazing fact, ...that almost every ancestor of man ever proposed suffers from disqualifying liabilities that are not widely publicized. I gradually came to realize that the presentation of fossil evidence for human evolution has long been and still is more of a market phenomenon than a disinterested scientific exercise. ...
Again and again these proposed ancestors have been discredited by subsequent discoveries.
The withdrawal of these so-called pre-human ancestor candidates indicates that the proposal of them as human ancestor was premature. Perhaps these may have been better presented as a possible ancestors than as absolutes. Yet Fix states his observation of the extreme position taken in evolutionists' statements, such as that of the late Stephen J. Gould:
That evolution occurred is a fact. People evolved from ape ancestors ...
while Fix says of another evolutionist:
...Kurten is a respected scientist of international reputation. He is also a thoroughgoing evolutionist. But contrary to Gould's flat statement that people evolved from apes, ...according to Kurten, it would be more accurate to say that the apes descended from man! ...It is one thing to express an opinion ... It is quite another to declare that the answer has been found and that there is no uncertainty about the matter...
Perhaps you have an opinion on the reality of evolution. Perhaps you may benefit by asking yourself, "Is this opinion based on evidence? Or is it based on claims? Do I know of reason to believe what I do concerning evolution? Am I accepting someone else's authority?"
Above we read of the humanness of scientists. So, we might say, "Why not give them some slack—people make mistakes!" Yes, they do. And research may give hints and suggestions to things, some might say, that later, more complete evidence and research may show to have been wrong. Yet, it may have been the best that could be done when it was initially proposed—before all the evidence was in.
Yes, later evidence may change the conclusions based on earlier, less comprehensive evidence. Then, in such a case, why not call such a proposal a theory, rather than a fact?
Yet Fix observes that there have been claims that evolution is a fact and that the evidence has proven it.
The evidence cannot be said to be all in support of evolution, as we shall see from the glimpse below. Yet, Fix claims that the extreme support of evolution as fact and of the existence of certain pre-human ancestors as fact was espoused by a majority of researchers:
...anthropologists... were victims of their own imaginations... Defenders... will no doubt protest that no one is infallible... But we are dealing here with more than an unfortunate minority... it would seem...most of the profession... it is a matter of record that not a few, but most, of the ancestors of man endorsed by eminent students over the years have later had to be recalled.
Such an extreme statement of evolution was noticed by Fix as being put forth by several people and/or organizations. This struck Fix as unwarranted by the evidence and almost dogmatic. He looked more into the matter and wrote a book about the problems with evolution.
Here is some of what he and others have discovered and written about the matter. These are examples that once were supposedly facts but have since had to be rescinded.
Piltdown man was quite famous for years, based on a skull found in 1912. However, in 1953 it was discovered that the skull was a deliberate hoax. The teeth had been filed, the jaw stained to appear old, and the jaw came from an orangutan.
In 1922, a single tooth led to the description of Nebraska man as our ancestor. Yet when other bones were found a few years later, it was revealed that Nebraska man was a pig!
Concerning Ramapithecus, Fix says (p. 232):
"The supposedly parabolic and thus human shape imputed to the Ramapithecus jaw was based on a reconstruction from two pieces of upper jaw. ...there was no midline the center of the palate... Thus the reconstructed shape, ...widely accepted by most anthropologists, was in fact purely conjectural. ...The speculative nature of the reconstruction...became painfully obvious when the first complete Ramapithecus lower jaw was recently found. This jaw is rather V-shaped, making it unlike either the parabolic-shaped human jaw, or most ape jaws, which have parallel sides. ...Ramapithecus was in the books as our Miocene ancestor for fifteen years....
There many more examples, both in Fix's book and in other sources, of erroneous "evidence" of evolution. For example, dating methods have been brought into question. A living animal has been dated to 600 BC, and a historically recent lava flow has been potassium-argon dated to be over 2 billion years old.
We won't look into more examples here because of space. But, suffice it to say, the evidence for evolution is not so clear-cut as some might think, based on hearing only the claims. Looking at the evidence leads one to another conclusion.
One last quote from Fix:
There is one conclusion I would emphasize. To give schoolchildren or anyone else the impression that the only scientific way to explain man is by slow evolution from the animal kingdom is totally unwarranted by the positive facts and a serious abuse of the public trust. It is also a disservice to the scientific enterprise. I hasten to add ...that I am not promoting a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis. Indeed, I am convinced that the emergence of man is a far deeper mystery than either creationists or evolutionists contend. ...But it is safe to say that when the problem of man's origin is considered holistically, it is thoroughly possible to doubt the man-from-animal theory without being either misinformed or a rock-bottom fundamentalist. ...
If you want to look more into the evidence, you are invited to a TASC meeting. TASC has presentations on these topics at the meetings as well as books and videos you can purchase that deal with these issues.