[Originally published as Evidence Speaks: An interview with Lou Hamby]
A few years ago, the Discovery Institute made arrangements to show the premier of a movie entitled “The Privileged Planet” at the Smithsonian Institution. It made no references to God, the Bible, or supernatural events. It merely documented the incredible number of things that had to be just right, within very narrow parameters, in order for life to exist on earth.
Yet, angry scientists all over the U.S. sent emails, letters, and more, demanding that the film not be shown at the Smithsonian. The reason for all the outrage was that it seemed to infer that the earth was the result of careful planning and design.
Indeed, that was exactly what the facts seemed to show. The negative reaction of so many scientists goes to illustrate how strongly they hold to the belief of naturalism.
When scientists are looking for explanations about how or why things operate in nature as they do, it is perfectly logical to expect explanations based on natural processes and properties of matter and energy. When scientists try to reconstruct the past and discover the origin of everything, this is no longer a logical demand.
Only allowing naturalistic explanations automatically throws out all possibilities of a supernatural design and creation. This kind of logic also tends to accept weird, unlikely explanations over the possibility that something is the result of a supernatural Designer, even when that object or organism shows evidence of having been designed.
An Example of Such Intricate Design
Desert lizards are an example of animals that have every indication of being perfectly designed to live in harsh desert environments. I have asked Lou Hamby* to share his expertise about these interesting animals, how they manage to thrive in such hot dry conditions, and how they influence his view of Darwinian evolution.
Question 1: Lizards are found in almost every kind of environment. What area are you most familiar with?
Lou: My area of expertise is desert lizards and mostly lizards of the US.
Question 2: How are desert lizards able to live in harsh desert conditions?
Lou: Some desert lizards find shelter from the sun in either burrows or rock outcrops. Some live on sand dunes and have fringe toes and a shovel head that enables them to run at high rates of speed and dive into the sand and dig below the heat range. I would say many of these lizards are living on sand dunes with heat indexes of 130 to 150 degrees. Some lizards either very seldom or never actually drink water. They get their moisture from their food sources.
Desert chuckwallas, as an example, live on granite outcroppings in Southern California deserts. They are almost always found in conjunction with rocky outcrops utilizing the cracks and crags for shelter. As a defensive mechanism, they have the ability to blow themselves up so they cannot be extracted from these cracks by predators. I believe the characteristics of the lizards were designed to fit their environments.
Question 3: Do different kinds of lizards tend to remain in the same kind of environments over long periods of time?
Lou: Absolutely. For instance, desert iguanas and fringe-toed sand lizards are found abundantly in sandy deserts over an extensive area. However, one does not see these same lizards living on the rocky outcrops in these same deserts. On the other hand, rocky outcrops may harbor many other kinds of lizards, such as the desert collared lizard, the Baja collared lizard, the chuckwalla, the banded rock lizard, and others. They tend to remain in rocky outcrops in specific eco-niches and don’t move to live in sandy environments because of their design.
Many years ago, the Mediterranean Gecko came to the southern US by ship as immigrants came to America through the Galveston ports. They quickly spread through Texas and to other states and are well suited to some of the environmental conditions in these states. So, while I believe they are designed for specific habitats, they also can thrive in areas outside their original habitats given the right circumstances that are supportive to their design.
Question 4: Have you observed differences in the body plans of fossil lizards compared to the same species that are living today?
Lou: What I have personally observed in the fossil record is no change (stasis) in body plans. For instance, fossils of horned lizards, collared lizards, and other species of lizards have been found. Some of these fossilized lizards were found in the LaBrea tar pits and were well-preserved. All of them, if they have living counterparts, seem not to have changed body plans.
Whenever one digs up a fossil or examines an amber encased lizard with a living cohort of the same species, it invariably has not changed. Its bones, and even in the case of the Gila monster where skin fossil impressions have been preserved, comparisons of the living species and the fossil species all seem to be the same. Fossil horned lizard head skeletons are no different from modern lizards of that species. Jaw bone analysis for fossils of alligator lizards, leopard lizards and collared lizards are a carbon copy of the same lizards that exist today. Fossil anoles discovered in amber are thought to date to ancient times. These lizards are clearly identifiable and show no changes in design at all.
Question 5: From your study of lizards, how well do you think desert lizards fit with the ideas of Darwinian evolution?
Lou: For every specific distribution zone, each lizard is uniquely designed for its specific niche. If one looks at a chameleon, or a horned lizard, or a fringe-toed sand lizard, one can easily see how well-designed these lizards are for their specific environment. This purely infers “design” to me.
Even though variation and changes in coloration are found in desert lizards, the body plans of specific species tend to remain unchanged over long periods of time, and they remain perfectly suited by design to their environmental niches. Certainly, across large portions of distribution zones, one might find some variation in color, but this is not evolution, and in fact, is not even microevolution. Many factors can affect variation in the colors of lizards. Even certain plants and food can affect their color, as well as sunlight, the breeding season, and other factors.
Darwinian evolution assumes that amphibians evolved into reptiles over millions of years, but these ideas are assumed on theoretical grounds and are not inferred from the evidence.
The evidences that I observe regarding body plans, eco-niche, DNA, and variation in genes, all point to or infer design. The evidences do not line up with a non-guided mechanism as being responsible for these factors. The information (like software in a computer) contained in DNA clearly infers design. Since nature did not produce this information, new discoveries in the field of DNA research continue to challenge Darwinian models, which fall short when naturalism is applied as the theoretical base. The evidence of design is all around us, and specifically lizards, are an excellent example.
Lou has studied lizards for over 40 years, collecting, studying their natural history, breeding indigenous lizards of California and Arizona, and developing husbandry techniques with different study groups. He has been a source of information for zoos, study groups, universities, and hobbyists. You can see an example of his work on Texas Parks & Wildlife,