the Theory of Evolution Says
The Theory of
Evolution (sometimes referred to as macroevolution) states that all living
things – all species – have come from a single ancestor through a
process of natural selection of small variations or descent with
modification over a long period of time.
biologists classified living things on the basis of similarities in
appearance. But Darwin proposed
that kinds of animals (species) should be classified on the basis of
ancestry, in the form of a family tree called phylogenetic tree.
The most recent species to evolve would be like twigs at the ends of
ancestral branches. These
branches are attached to larger branches of still older ancestors, and then
to a trunk representing the first living form which all were evolved.
What Evolutionists Say We Ought
Darwin hoped that
the fossil record would agree with and strengthen his theory by containing
many transitional forms between species, filling out the branches of his
hypothetical “tree.” The record was very incomplete at the time but he expected
additional discoveries to make it more complete. Darwin also expected to see only gradual changes, not abrupt
changes such as Cambrian “explosion” of life, dated some 550 million
If Darwin’s theory of
evolution were true, we should see transitional forms in fossils showing
gradual change. Instead gaps
occurred because these transitions forms were not found.
Many explanations for
gaps in fossil record are given. For
one thing, fossilization is relatively rare, especially for land-dwelling
animals. The vast majority of
fossils are of animals that lived in the sea.
Darwin expected fossils of the earliest ancestors to occur in the
oldest layers of compacted sediments from sea bottoms.
What We Actually Observe in
In general we do not
see fossils of transitional forms between different species of plant and
animals. A few fossils that appear transitional have been reported, but
major gaps remain. Most of the
transitional forms (the missing links) Darwin expected to find are still
missing. Despite the
illustration in textbooks showing a gradual transition in the family tree of
the horse or from ape to man, there is no hard evidence for it.
In the case of ape to man, virtually every “missing link” has
turned out to be either an ape or man, but not a transitional kind of
ape-man. Some finds were
Another finding, the
“Cambrian Explosion,” seems to contradict Darwin’s theory of gradual
change over long periods of time. Layers
of sediment from the Cambrian period, estimated to be about 550 million
years ago, show a sudden appearance of about 100 phyla of plants and
animals. Biochemist Michael
Behe uses the phrase “the biological big bang” to describe this period
thought to be less than five million years in duration.
Dawkins, in commenting on the Cambrian Explosion in The Blind Watchmaker,
said, that “It is as though they [these species] were just planted there,
without any evolutionary history.” This
mystery has caused some scientists to modify parts of Darwin’s theory and
adopt a new theory called punctuated equilibrium (or “punk eek”). Punk eek suggests that most transitions happened quickly in
small isolated groups of animals so there never were transitional forms.
What Scientists Say
Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate fossil links? Darwin writes, “That our paleontological collections are very imperfect, is admitted by everyone.” Nonetheless, fossilized shell species and vertebrate species fragments preserved in deposits are observed in nature, and from these, evolutionary sequences are assumed and proposed as evidence supporting Darwinian evolution. Paleontologist Stephen Gould writes, “All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt.” Gould says further, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. . . . . The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. Heribert Nilsson writes, “The family tree of the horse is beautiful and continuous only in the textbooks.” Darwin, in a later book, the Decent of Man, proposed that man evolved from lower forms based on comparison of body dimensions, effects of environments, use and disuse of body parts, distinctive facial features, natural selection, social habits and intelligence. According to zoologist Percival Davis, Darwin did not cite a single reference to fossils in support of his belief in human evolution. Clearly his original idea of human evolution did not grow out of a study of human fossil evidence, but out of a previously held opinion about the origin of man.
Explanation Offered by
the rarity of observed transitional forms is due to the rarity of actual
transitional forms because natural evolution alone did not produce what we
now observe. Most creationists regard the history of life on earth as
following roughly in the same order and sequence given in Genesis 1.
Young-earth creationists do not accept the geological timetable in
general, nor its use to infer any dating of fossils, in particular.
They believe in God’s direct intervention in the creation of life
and of major “kinds” of living things.
creationists who accept the geological timetable also give God credit for
the origin and development of living things.
Creationists may differ on how much of the process was actively
directed by God’s hand. Research
scientists Don Stoner, in his book A New Look at an Old Earth, says, “This
[Cambrian Explosion] is an interesting companion to the Bible’s phrase,
‘Let the water teem with living things’.”
Darwinists believe that man evolved from the lower primates. Davis says, “Darwinists have been searching for fossil remains to establish their belief that man evolved. . . .fossil remains of hominids are not comparatively few in number, they are usually very fragmentary . . . . [And paleontologists] cannot agree on any scheme of evolution