Evolution, Human Evolution, Theory Of Evolution


Before demonstrating the layman's ill-justified acceptance of some scientific theories, it is necessary, as you will soon see, to recount some of the strange and inexplicable discoveries in our solar system in addition to the ones already listed above.


On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11 was launched with three astronauts aboard: Neil A. Armstrong, Edward E. Aldrin, Jr., and Michael Collins. Their mission: to land on the moon. This mission, being the first manned exploration of an extraterrestrial body, received unparalleled media coverage. The first step on the moon was replayed on TV so many times that my parrot learned to say, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Before manned exploration of the moon, a widely accepted theory concerning the state of the moon was the "dead boulder" theory. Scientists believed that the forces which brought our moon into existence could only have produced a "dead chunk." They apparently could not envision any activity or history of activity -- fires, volcanoes, molten rock, and the like -- on the moon.

By the time the Apollo program ended, our astronauts had brought back so many lunar rocks that the full moon looked a bit lean. The rocks were analyzed for years, and the findings were astonishing: the moon, it turned out, was not a "dead rock" after all. The lunar rocks were various forms of igneous material. At some point in the moon's history it must have been flooded with oceans of white-hot, melted rock. Scientists concluded that the moon was once the scene of large scale thermal, chemical, and mechanical activity.

Theories surrounding the evolution of the moon were rewritten. No, not by scientists. By the moon rocks themselves. The moon had now become a "once living little planet," a far cry from the original "dead rock." And although exterior activity seems to have died, there is even speculation that the moon's core is still active today.

At this point, it is far from clear where the moon's "life" came from.

The ironic thing is that before the Apollo program began, scientists had had three basic theories concerning the origin of the moon. One, the moon came from outer space and somehow swung into its present orbit. Two, the moon was a chunk which broke off earth and flew into orbit. Three, the moon was formed by accretion of smaller chunks in space. Strangely, scientists had never been sure to begin with whether the physics of theories one and two were even possible. And the Apollo program ended with scientists no closer to an answer; although the rocks gave some insight into the moon's composition, they created a great mystery around its origin and formation.

So, the moon went from misconceived notions before exploration, to inexplicable findings after exploration.


On August 25, 1981, Voyager flew past Saturn. Again, facts made a laughing stock out of theories. We couldn't have been much farther from the truth about Saturn's rings if we had thought them to be an intergalactic creature's bagel collection.

After exploration, the rings of Saturn were described by scientists with words like "outrageous," "perplexing," "maddening," "puzzling," and the like. What scientists once thought was a three-ring system with a "well understood" structure turned out to be a bewildering system of thousands of ringlets. And the rings of Saturn suddenly turned into a confusing mystery. Science has yet to come up with the physics to explain them. How are they formed? How do they change patterns?

And the mysteries surrounding Saturn went beyond the formation of the rings. One of our spacecraft picked up intense radio emissions about one million times as powerful as lightning emanating from Saturn's rings. The discovery was so bewildering and unexpected that scientists at the time thought the spacecraft's instruments had malfunctioned. These radio emissions remain as baffling a mystery today as the rings themselves.

Some think it may be years before scientists explain all that they have encountered during exploration of Saturn and its rings. Some are not that optimistic and don't think we will ever explain it all.


On January 24th, 1986, Voyager 2, after about an eight year and 3 billion mile journey, flew within 51,000 miles of Uranus. The data relayed back to earth was just another indication of how little we really understand about cosmological physics.

Uranus, too, is nothing short of a great big puzzle. The planet lies on its side; instead of its equator, one of its polar regions points toward the sun. Added to this enigma is that the north pole on Uranus is 55 degrees away from the north magnetic pole; on earth, it is only about 12 degrees away.

Of the five major moons found orbiting Uranus, one in particular, Umbriel, amazed scientists. While the other four moons had long ridges, glacier flows, and deep fractures, which are signs of internal activity, Umbriel showed none of these. A statement by Dr. Lawrence A. Soderblom of the United States Geological Survey echoed scientists' puzzlement: "Sandwiched between objects that are very active, there is one (Umbriel) that's very dark and very old and inactive." He also indicated that scientists were at a loss to explain why Umbriel should be so different from the other moons.

After viewing photos of another one of Uranus' moons, Miranda, scientists described it as one of the most bizarre worlds in our solar system. Its features are as puzzling as Umbriel's but more pronounced.

Dr. Edward C. Stone of the California Institute of Technology summed it up this way: "The Uranus system is just totally different than anything we've seen before."


Can it be that in these days of great technological advances our understanding of cosmological physics is still so shallow that we cannot satisfactorily explain some discoveries in our very own solar system? As if to add insult to injury, Saturn and Uranus seemed to thrust themselves a notch beyond simply destroying theories. Exploration of these planets has shown that there are phenomena in our own solar system which defy explanation even after discovery. That is, not only have theories been shattered, but our entire inventory of scientific data is insufficient to explain some existing phenomena. And we're talking about phenomena relatively close to us -- not millions or billions of light-years away. We're talking about events in our own time -- not in the universe's distant past.

The point in noting the disappointments and puzzles encountered within our solar system will be made clearer in the next chapter.