Dr. John Grebe's Challenge to Evolution
The following is excerpted from David Bradbury, “A Reluctant Convert from Evolutionism,” Persuaded by the Evidence (Master Books, 2008), edited by Doug Sharp and Jerry Bergman chapter 2:
In 1949, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a science degree and a firm belief that biological evolution was the proper scientific explanation for life as observed on earth today. ... I was a firm believer in and outspoken defender of chance evolution for the next three decades. Even today I still well recall (now with some embarrassment) the warm glow of intellectual superiority I felt as I confidently assured less well-educated others about how ‘molecules to man’ evolution was well and scientifically established. ...
Interestingly the circumstance prompting my first, admittedly belated, effort to examine this evidence came only upon a surprise encounter with what I perceived to be a totally reckless and unfounded challenge made before the Texas State Board of Education in November 1969. This was in the form of a $1,000 (more than $10,000 in today’s value) offer by a Mr. John Grebe to anyone (board member, scientist, college professor, or other) able to provide any first example of physically verifiable evidence (or even a basic mathematical model) sufficient to elevate the then hypothesis of macroevolution up to the status of scientific theory as then being proposed for inclusion in new textbooks under consideration.
Once I discovered that this challenge was still open, I seriously set out to collect this easy money. Sure, the dollars involved provided immediate incentive, but my greater desire at the time was to publicly embarrass this Mr. Grebe and put an end, once and for all, to such irresponsible attacks by so-called ‘creationists’ on what I then accepted as well-established scientific determinations.
I started by leafing through multiple textbooks to select representative claims. Then it was off to the science archives in local and university libraries (these were pre-Internet days) to locate and copy the original source data from the supporting experiments that would compel Mr. Grebe to part with his money and eat humble pie. At the time, I expected to quickly select from any number of verifiable confirmations that the progressive steps involved in macroevolution had indeed been checked and double-checked by responsible scientific experiments. However, to my disappointment and near disbelief, I could find no such objective confirming evidence anywhere then--nor after following years of continuing search is there any to be found, even today.
Indeed, this continuing absence only further confirmed that none of the claims purporting to qualify macroevolution as scientific are supported by the physical verification criteria required in the universally taught empirical (or Baconian) scientific method. ... All I could find in general-use texts then, and still in most texts today, were unsupported claims, statements, and assertions reflecting the consensus acceptance (‘beliefs’) of the prevailing evolutionary community.
Even with this troubling realization, my school-instilled trust in science as the best, if not only, method to compellingly establish physical truths was so deeply embedded, I continued to wrestle with this problem for a number of additional years before finally conceding that perhaps Dr. Grebe’s $1,000 challenge was not in as much danger as I had initially presumed. This change was also further influenced by my learning that the man issuing this challenge was actually Dr. John J. Grebe, the excellently credentialed director of basic research for the Dow Chemical Company, and not the irresponsible know-nothing I initially presumed. Also, that his offer was directed toward the leading evolutionists of the day (Simpson, Dobzhansky, Ayala, Grant, etc.) then championing the elevation of evolution from its long-accepted status of hypothesis to far higher status of theory in the next generation of undergraduate science textbooks. ...
Gradually, throughout the course of this now 50-year, sometimes wavering, and often sputtering venture, many unexpected good things have come my way. I started out as a happy, trusting, but scientifically misinformed atheist thinking I knew a lot more about evolution than I really did, whereas today, thanks to a loving Christian wife, much fascinating research (all without the range of those seeking to separate wheat from chaff), thoughtful advice from patient evolutionists and non-evolutionist advisors, and a resultant deeper understanding of the intricate processes involved in macroevolution, I’ve come full circle. Once the artificial ‘intellectual’ (scientific) barrier against religion posed by evolution was exposed, and serious consideration again given to spiritual matters, my return to Christianity has been personally most rewarding. For a while I was led to accept Richard Dawkins’s view that ‘Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist,’ but having once been blind, it makes the truth and light available to all mankind in Scripture all the more appreciated.
David Bradbury eventually became a Bible-believing Christian, and he re-offered Grebe’s challenge. On January 28, 2002, he wrote,
“This $1,000 challenge remains open (and uncollected). Until someone (teacher, board member or professor) can cite even a single example of empirically confirmable evidence that random shifts in gene frequency acted upon by natural selection can (or does) cumulatively collect to produce macro-evolutionary change, it would appear only reasonable to responsibly refrain from introducing such conjecture as proper scientific theory to students and to the public” (“Report on Comments on Proposed Modifications to Draft of Ohio Science Academic Content Standards,” http://www.arn.org/docs/ohio/ohioreport020402.htm, viewed April 5, 2010).
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