Detractors will immediately accuse me and Dr. Widtsoe of not understanding science and evolution. We’ll let the evidence speak for itself. He had a PhD and was the author of 7 scientific books and over 76 articles on chemistry and agriculture. I have a PhD and have written 1 scientific book and (co)authored 11 articles for peer-reviewed scientific journals.
To begin with, he and I agree that the law of evolution is an undeniable fact of nature. “[T]here seems to be a steady process by which unorganized matter is being organized into more and more complex forms. . . .[C]reation as a whole has been and is moving forward, becoming more complex, evolving and creating.”
Now the steady development of life forms on earth has led some to conclude that all life “must have descended from a common ancestor.” The belief that all life descended from a common ancestor is not factual; it is an inference from the facts. Widtsoe correctly argued that “inferences from the facts . . . must be treated as hypotheses or theories.” Hypotheses and theories like common descent are just scientific best guesses about the way the natural world operates. As such, they are subject to revision and refutation. Very few theories achieve lasting law-like status that has been ascribed to well-tested theories like gravity and relativity.
The following statement by Dr. Widtsoe demonstrates his far reaching wisdom on this issue. He wrote: “If the difference between fact and inference had been held clearly in mind, much of the absurd talk on the subject would have been eliminated.” He did not tell us what he meant by “absurd talk,” but I am confident that I know what he was talking about. By “absurd talk” he was, in all likelihood, referring to scientists claiming that common descent is a proven fact when it is not.
Like Dr. John A. Widtsoe I am all for evolutionary research. I support scientists’ efforts to develop evolutionary principles and test evolutionary hypotheses. I declare that most who teach and/or research evolution are true scholars and I respect them as such. But those who endeavor to convince others that common descent has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt are selling ocean front property in Arizona. Believing, teaching, and researching common descent are fine as far as I am concerned; trying to convince people that science has proven common descent is not. On this matter, Dr. John A. Widtsoe and I agree.