“The Making of the Fittest” by Sean Carroll – Must Read!

“The Making of the Fittest” is one of the best introductions to evolutionary science, especially for those who have any doubts about its validity. It is lucid, easy to read, and packed with amazing and convincing facts. The subtitle says it all: “DNA and the Forensic Record of Evolution.” The same kind of evidence that is now universally accepted in all courts as proof of guilt or innocence also provides evidence “beyond all reasonable doubt” about the evolutionary history of all living beings.  Here’s is how Carroll explains his motivation:

More accurate and rigorous than fiber or fingerprint analysis, and far more reliable than eyewitness testimony, DNA analysis can provide conclusive proof about who was or was not at the scene of a crime. The authority of DNA evidence … led to a revolution in the criminal justice system and a vast increase in the use of DNA testing to both convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. …

The power of DNA testing extends far beyond criminal justice. The determination of paternity is now definitive, and testing for carriers of genetic diseases is now routing, thanks to DNA science. but there is one arena where that power is not yet widely appreciated: in what one might call the philosophical realm.

Just as the sequence of each individual’s DNA is unique, the sequence of each species’ DNA is unique. Every evolutionary change between species, from physical form to digestive metabolism, is due to – and recorded in –  changes in DNA. So, too, is the “paternity” of species. DNA contains, therefore, the ultimate forensic record of evolution.

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7 comments on ““The Making of the Fittest” by Sean Carroll – Must Read!
  1. jim achmoody says:

    I suggest you read ‘Creation and the Cosmos’ and Hugh Ross’s recent book that digs into the book of Job. It contains some challenges to evolution not often heard

  2. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the suggestions. But did you mean “The Creator and the Cosmos” by Hugh Ross?

    I don’t see how any “challenges to evolution” could help with the debate between Science and the Bible. It seems like the issue is completely settled. Science wins.

  3. Jon says:

    Hi Richard;

    I think your final comment, “Science wins” reveals a deep prejudice you might want to reexamine. What exactly do you mean by “science”. There are deeply committed scientists on both sides of the spectrum as to the origins of life. There are scientists in the evolutionary camp and scientists in the intelligent design camp. In fact a renowned biologist whose last name is Crick stated that the belief that human beings by chance could have evolved is tantamount to believing a jumbo jet could be formed by throwing metal parts into a hurricane.

    I am an attorney and I have learned in the process to be skeptical of “science”. Many trials have experts who are supposedly renowned “scientists” testifying to different conclusions while viewing the same evidence. How is that possible? It depends on who is paying them. You have repeatedly criticized Christian leaders as being out for the money as a motivation for what they say. May I suggest that “scientists” have the same prejudices, the same avarice, the same flaws. .

    You have cited the book involving DNA as conclusory evidence regarding evolution. I find it interesting that at the OJ Simpson trial there were 2 “experts” on each side of the case who looked at the same DNA and rendered opposite conclusions as to OJ Simpson’s guilt.

    Finally, you might want to read Michael Behe’s book called “Darwin’s Black Box” for a clearer understanding of intelligent design. I think you will get a clearer understanding that evolution is not necessarily the last say as to biological science. You will also see that scientific opinion is no more objective that religious opinion on a number of subjects.

    Thanks for listening


  4. Hi Jon,

    It’s great to have an attorney offer his view on this issue. When I said “science wins” I did not mean to imply that science could give an unambiguous conclusion in every instance. That would be absurd. Case in point: The wiki says the DNA evidence in the Simpson case was questioned because “What should have been the prosecution’s strong point became their weak link amid accusations that bungling police technicians handled the blood samples with such a degree of incompetence as to render the delivery of accurate and reliable DNA results almost impossible.” The problem had nothing to do with the accuracy of the science per se, but mere human error. Nobody challenged the science of DNA as far as I know.

    There is a world of difference between being skeptical of the application of science in particular cases where evidence can be tampered with and the general principles and results of science that can be supported with a large body of facts. The DNA evidence that supports common descent is overwhelming in my estimation. Read the book and you will see why.

    It is important to separate evolution from the question of the origin of life. We have no knowledge of how life first began, but we have a mountain of solid knowledge of how it evolved after it began. Sure, there is a lot we don’t know about the details, but that does not obviate the knowledge we do have.

    The Intelligent Design movement is not accepted nearly as broadly as you suggest when you say “There are scientists in the evolutionary camp and scientists in the intelligent design camp.” What do you think the ratio is? I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know that the vast majority of scientists working in the field of biology are convinced the evidence supports evolution. And of the few that are ID creationsts, they are almost uniformly driven by religious ideology. The same cannot be said of evolutionists since they are a very diverse group with no unifying religious ideology, and there are many who believe in both God and evolution (Evangelical Francis Collins, the former head of the Human Genome Project and author of “The Language of God” being a prominent example).

    The problem with Intelligent Design is that it simply is not science. It presents no theory to explain phenomena. On the contrary, it is simply a search for phenomena that current science cannot explain which is taken as evidence that “God did it.” This makes it essentially nothing but a “God of the gaps” argument.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it is impossible for there to be a God who could have created life and even guided aspects of evolution. The problem is that there is no direct evidence supporting that conclusion. All the actual evidence we have supports the theory of evolution. And there is another problem with ID is its lack of conscilence with the rest of science. No scientific discipline exists in isolation. Take the age of the earth as an example. It is supported by geology, astronomy, physics, biology, mathematics, and every scientific discipline that touches the topic. And the results derived from one field are independently confirmed by the others. That’s why Young Earth Creationism is so egregiously wrong. The proponents strain at gnats while ignoring the mountain of mutually confirming results from diverse fields. Denial of evolution is very similar.

    I read Behe’s book but did not find it convincing for the reasons stated above. Have you read any books written by evolutionists, such as the one reviewed in my post? If not, how could you think to challenge evolution or even have an opinion on this matter? If so, I would be very interested to know which ones you read and why you did not find them convincing.

    Thanks for taking time to discuss this with me.

    All the best,


  5. Jon says:


    The problem with evolutionary thought as well as a lot of the thought governing the major consensus of science is that it rests on a philosophical presupposition of uniformitarianism- that life as well as the forces that govern it have all happened at the same rate in the same way as what is presently observed. Because of this uniformitarian thinking and to make their theory more plausible, they have historically opted for longer and longer periods of time to make their theories work. I don’t know if you are aware that there was a recent discovery of dinosaur meat which was preserved even though this supposed dinosaur became extinct 65 million years ago. I don’t buy the argument that majority opinion proves truth especially in light of the fact that we have had an indocrination system in our public schools for the last 40 years that prohibits any other opinion being expressed in the classroom. The Dover case in Pennsylvania proves that. Modern science has become a sacred cow which cannot be questioned.

    At one time the Catholic church controlled all public opinion in Europe. Those who protested were burned at the stake and excommunicated. We now have the inquisitiion in a milder form. Professors are denied tenure or public grants for research if they espouse ID theory.

    I would like to expose the fallacy of evolutionary dogmatism to the evidence in a homicide. Let’s assume a coroner finds a body with what appears to be slash marks on the body. There are no eye witnesses to the death, therefore we do not know what person or animal attacked the body. I think the logic of evolutionism would state that since we cannot identify the entity which was involved in the death, there is no proof that the death was from an intelligent cause. The whole argument involving evolution vs intelligent design rests with an interpretation of the evidence, not the evidence. Every time an evolutionist is confronted with the irreducible complexity of life and how it could not have developed over time, they throw up their hands and say that this does not prove that life is a product of intelligent design. They don’t draw the same conclusions in homicide cases even when the perpetrator cannot be identified. Science cannot prove or disprove the existence of God, but the evidence in nature to me clearly shows intelligent causation.

    Evolution could make sense if there was not voluminous evidence in every species of what I call countermeasures. If you read Michael Behe’s book, I am sure you read the chapter on the blood clotting system in mammals. We have built into our blood system 18 different triggers which must act in sequence to the right degree for our blood to clot when we are injured. If these triggers are not in place working together like a machine we would either bleed to death or our whole circulatory system would become a giant blood clot. We survive as well as all creatures survive because there are built in countermeasures to deal with unforeseen events.

    There is a certain hypocrisy to say that the wonder of nature randomly evolved, but progress scientifically must occur because of “intelligent planning”. If our wonderful world is the product of random unintelligently caused events, then why should we even engage in science. Just leave it up to evolution and it will all work out. On the one hand, evolutionary scientists like Richard Dawkins describe evolution as “elegant”, but on the other hand think it thoroughly proper for the same scientists to tinker with the genetic code in plants to “improve” them. If evolution actually produced a superior product then why are we tinkering with it.

    At one time, you believed there was actually a God who cared for you and was willing to die for you. Now you are opting for the view that you exist because of random biochemical processes over which you have no control . You say that one of the reasons that you abandoned your faith is because most of the time does not answer prayer. Is it more comforting to you to think that there you are just a biological accident whose birth, death and everything in between has no meaning over than that it happened? I can understand your frustration with the Bible. I have the same questions that you have raised. I am a universalist because I believe the Bible and it more adequately explains every scripture and not just portions of scripture. I also believe that is the good news God really intended to convey. I also believe that such a view does not take away from God’s love and His justice.

    Anyway I have to get to work.

    Have a good day.


  6. Hi again Jon,

    Thanks for explaining your reasoning. I understand your sense that there is a sort of conspiracy amongst the intelligentsia in favor of evolution – I was inclined in that direction when I was a fundamentalist Christian. But it’s really little more than creationist propaganda. I have since educated myself on the issues, and have found that the arguments put forth by creationists are truly abysmal and factually unbelievable. It’s not that there are no unsolved problems with evolution. Indeed, it could be that we are ignorant of some fundamental facts that support ID. But that’s not the issue. The issue is the lack of consilience with the overall body of scientific knowledge. Have you read Edward O. Wilson’s book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge? It discusses how all apparently independent disciplines like mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, geology, and so forth are all based on “a small number of fundamental natural laws that comprise the principles underlying every branch of learning.” That’s the problem with creationism. It is entirely out of harmony with the vast body of scientific knowledge that has been confirmed by millions of researchers.

    Creationist tend to look for anomalies scattered here and there to cast doubt on established science, all the while ignoring the vast body of established results. Now don’t get me wrong – some of the greatest scientific break-thoughs have occurred when seemingly minor anomalies end up overthrowing long-established scientific paradigms. This is what happened when Quantum Mechanics was invented because classical mechanics couldn’t explain black body radiation. But nothing like this is going to happen with creationism. They are driven by ideology and are not participating in real science at all. They are constantly looking for a way to overthrow established science without actually doing any real science. They have suggested no theories that could threaten to overthrow the unified body of knowledge, which is what they would have to do to make creationism feasible.

    Your assertion that “the major consensus of science is that it rests on a philosophical presupposition of uniformitarianism” is true in a sense, but it is well based on the evidence. If the history of the universe were not essentially uniform, then different disciplines would arrive at different ages of the universe, for example. It is the consilience from a variety of disciplines that makes the evidence so compelling.

    Yes, I read Behe’s account of the blood clot cascade, and it is interesting. But there are many gaps in his argument. For example, the fact that he doesn’t know the history of the mechanism over the vast scales of evolutionary time means that he cannot make any certain claim about “irreducibility.” It could have worked differently, with fewer steps in previous times. We simply do not know and do not have the evidence to prove “intelligent design.” And most significantly, it doesn’t matter if everything was intelligently designed because the Bible doesn’t say anything about God creating creatures over a span of billions of years. So even if ID were true, it wouldn’t support the Biblical account.

    I am going to have to edit my post, because a number of people have misread it to think that I say God does not answer prayers because of some personal prayers that were not answered. That’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about the fact that God does not, as a general rule, answer ANYBODY’S prayers! That’s just a statistical fact, and it contradicts everything Christianity and the Bible teach about God. So I have a factual reason to reject the Bible on that point alone.

    Finally, let me say that I am very open-minded about “ultimate reality.” I tend towards Idealism – the idea that Mind is the ground of being. But I have no proof, so I’m not committed to that position. I mention it because it is possible that life was “designed” in the sense that it is an expression of Mind so I’m not rejecting the Bible for these reasons. I reject the Bible and Biblical Creationism because they are entirely contrary to the vast body of knowledge. Or so it seems to me, anyway!

    Have a great day. I look forward to further conversation.


  7. Jon says:

    Hi Richard;

    I hear you say things like “vast body of knowledge”, “millions of researchers”, etc. Really. If there was such a vast body of knowledge, then there would be all kinds of remains of species on our planet showing progressive changes as the evolutionist suggests. They simply do not exist. The blood clotting cascade is more than an anomaly. It is a direct contradiction to evolution. Evolution to be plausible must occur gradually over time. That is the back door the evolutionist always retreats to when he is cornered. A blood clotting system cannot progressively evolve and where is the evidence that it has progressively came to exist. In order for animals with blood systems to exist, they must have a fully functional blood clotting system. This system must work in a certain order and rapidly. It cannot evolve over time or the species ceases to exist. This in only one example of countermeasures built into life. Life is full of countermeasures and that is why it continues on a perpetual basis. All of the components to sustain life must exist together at the same time and function synchronistically in order for it function in each of the 1.8 million different species which exist on this planet. Of course if you have adopted an idealogy that denies emphatically that a supreme being can create or even intervene in nature then you have to somehow explain away all of these countermeasures even though they repeatedly hit you in the face.

    The examples you have given of religious evolutionists are not convincing to me. I object to evolution as implausible on a scientific basis. The odds of life existing as it does through evolution with all of the necessary changes to occur even over milliions of years is a number that is incalculable- even if I may use a religious term- “miraculous”. If I have to choose to believe the “miraculous” speculations of evolutionists over what I see in front of me, I choose to believe there is a God who “miraculously” created it in a short period of time and did not have to use millions of years to accomplilsh it.

    I pity the fact that God has never answered any of your prayers, but I have witnessed God answer prayers of mine right in front of me. In 1989, a woman came to my office suffering from diabetic shock and stumbling on a walker. My law partner and I prayed for her and we saw her leg healed in front of us. We saw her start to rub her fingers together and asked her why she was doing that and were told that she had not had feeling in fingers for over 10 years, but was now starting to have feeling in her fingers. Anyway she walked out of our office without the aid of the walker she used to get into our office. All of this happened after we prayed to God and asked Him to heal her. In the early 1990’s I was in a church service when a person there fainted because he was having a cardiac arrest. The person had a bad heart. His heart stopped and many of us thought he was dead. After prayer to the Almighty his heart started to beat without CPR and he was then taken by an ambulance to the hospital. The next week we saw a visual image of what his veins leading to his heart were like a few weeks before the incident and what the veins were like shortly he went to the hospital. There was a marked difference. Now I guess you can say I am a liar, but I saw what I saw.

    As an attorney, I look at the word “proof” a little differently than a non attorney. Proof in a legal sense merely means that something is more believable than not believable, but the believability of something depends on who is the jury. What is sad to me is that you have bought into the fallacy that evolutionists do not have a prejudice built into their methodology which they have been force fed prior to the time they ever conduct any experiments or make findings. You somehow believe that when the only public money available to scientists in the form of grants is available for those who follow the party line of evolution, that this will not influence the “findings” of those who are looking for proof of origins. If every jury in the US was paid money to reach one verdict over another, I wonder if any justice would ever occur. Let’s take half of the public monies available for scientific research and give it to ID advocates and the other to evolutionists and then see what the textbooks would say. Let’s let ID advocates and evolutionists put their arguments and findings next to each other in a textbook and let the educated public decide who is telling the truth. What if we were having a jury trial and only one side of the case was ever presented. Do you think that is fair and just? Would you like to be the party who did not have a chance to present his side? If we creationists are so full of shit (excuse my French), then why can’t we have an equal opportunity to present our side? If evolution is such a infallible doctrine, then why can’t any evidence be brought into a biology classroom to show its flaws or anomalies. Or could it be that there are some people who have such a virulent hatred for God that they will engage in any form of academic totalitarianism to suppress any form of opinion contrary to their own. Could it be that they would like to think of themselves as belonging to a class of ultimate beings (gods if you will) who are far superior to the rest of humanity because they have adopted the label “scientist”. You see if “science” has the answer for all of man’s problems, then who needs a divine being?

    Talk to you later



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