Table of Contents
Part I: The Preparation of the Earth
The Growing Evidence for Creative
FOR MANY years paleontologists have been remarking
upon the absence of certain essential links with which to complete,
in Arthur O. Lovejoy's phrase, "The Great Chain of Being."
There is something disturbing about these breaks in the record,
and great rejoicing has occasionally resulted from finding some
transitional form, such as the Polyp Hydra (linking animal and
and the Archaeopteryx which bridged the gap from reptiles to
birds -- or so it seemed. Moreover, where such links were still
missing, there were often those who were willing to supply them.
One very famous practical psychologist, P. T. Barnum, did just
this, supplying many such missing links in an exhibit which was
part of a larger collection of curiosities the public was invited
to see in 1842, seven years before Darwin's Origin of Species
was published. (43)
The advertisements of the day heralded this exhibition in New
York City, which began the American Museum, formed by combining
Scudder's and Peele's Museums. It was enlivened with freak shows
and stage entertainment. Perhaps some of the reconstructions
in present day museums are still in the Barnum tradition!
Gaps in the Record
At first the
authorities, faced with the existence of such gaps, attributed
this to the "incompleteness of the geological record."
When one or two of these missing links were later discovered,
their plea seemed to be quite justified. Given time, the chain
would be forged completely. But this has not proven to be the
case. The missing links persist at many critical points, and
there are not a few authorities today who believe that they never
will be found. Either they have been destroyed, or evolution
has been discontinuous. This
42. LoveJoy, A. O., Thc Great Chain of
Being, Harvard University Press, 1942, p.233.
1 of 16
43. Ibid., p. 236.
does not mean that they
now believe in direct creation by a personal Creator but rather
that the small jumps resulting from mutations as currently observed
have at times and for unknown reasons been much larger -- large
enough, in fact, for a reptile at one fell swoop to suddenly
become a warm-blooded feathered fowl. This kind of jump was not
termed a mutation but a saltation by R. Goldschmidt. (44) A single quotation from
this authority will serve to show what he had in mind when he
spoke of saltations:
At this point in our discussion,
I may challenge the adherents of the strictly Darwinian view,
which we are discussing here, to try to explain the evolution
of the following features by the accumulation and selection of
small mutants; hair in mammals, feathers in birds, segmentation
in arthropods and of vertebrates, the transformation of gill-arches
in phylogeny, including the aortic arches, muscles, nerves, etc.:
further, teeth, shells of molluscs, ectoskeletons, compound eyes,
blood circulation, alternation of generations, statocysts, ambulacral
system of ecinoderm, pedicellara of the same, enidocysts, poison
apparatus of snakes, and finally, primary chemical differences
like hemoglobin versus hemocyanin, etc. No one has accepted this
challenge! Corresponding examples from plants could be given.
In other words,
Goldschmidt argues that there have occurred at many points sudden
and radical changes of form involving at times the whole organism,
so pronounced as to be quite unexplained by gene mutations. His
major antagonist, Dobzhansky, completely disagrees. But on one
thing both concur, namely, that blind evolution accounts for
At first, Christians were quick
to underscore the gaps as evidence of the intervention of God.
Here, they felt sure, evolution must be abandoned and creative
activity introduced. But then inevitably some of the gaps began
to be filled in. Those who were a little more far-seeing warned
that it was dangerous to emphasize these gaps as evidence of
creative activity for two reasons: first, because if they were
reduced in number, God would be made smaller and smaller; and
secondly, because it tended to minimize the continuous sustaining
activity of the Creator in the day to day workings of Nature,
reducing God's activity not to sustaining the world but to special
interferences in it. In recent years this warning has been issued
more and more loudly in spite of the fact that evolutionists
themselves have been more and more ready to admit the persistence
of the gaps. (45)
44. Goldschmidt, Ralph, Material
Basis of Evolution, Yale University Press., 1940, p.6.
45. Lack, David, Evolutionary Theory and Christian Belief,
Methuen, London, 1957, pp.62, 63, in which several quotations
give warning against constituting the Creator as "God of
question is, then, do we need to surrender this evidence of creative
activity? If we are careful to remain aware of the fact that
God is not merely the God of the gaps but the God of the continuities
also, we shall not need to relinquish what seems to me a very
strong evidence of direct creation.
We do not believe in God simply
because gaps exist, which seem to demand a God to fill them.
We know these gaps exist at present, and there seems every likelihood
that they will persist, and so we merely say as Christians, "Such
gaps may well be points at which God was at work by directly
creative means." But the fact is that the scientist with
a Christian faith does not actually find himself any less eager
to fill in the gaps if he can. It is true that his faith may
make the search less important, but it may supply him with a
compensating drive -- the desire to explore God's handiwork in
creation simply because it is His handiwork. Moreover,
few if any paleontologists ever set out specifically to discover
a missing link whose form they have already conceived as intermediate
between two other divergent forms. They search for fossil animal
remains and if they happen to come across an intermediate form,
they rejoice as one who finds great spoil. But so would the Christian
paleontologist! One's faith in the reality of a Creator who had
a purpose really has no bearing on it. Finding an intermediate
form like an Archaeopteryx is not really the reward of diligence
(though diligence is required), but simply good fortune for the
finder. It may seem otherwise with supposed intermediate forms
between man and the apes, but here the situation is a little
different, because any fossil ape is taken almost automatically
as a missing link, even though the finder knows perfectly well
that given a certain basic skeletal structure of similar proportions,
a like habitat, and a similar source of food, convergence will
almost guarantee parallel development. It is only what one might
expect. It would be surprising if this were not so.
In some ways, the Christian research
worker is in an advantageous position: he may be kept, by his
knowledge of the Bible, from making some of the ludicrous mistakes
made by eager exponents of man's animal ancestry, such as the
construction of Mr. and Mrs. Hesperopithecus out of the tooth
of a wild pig. And in so far as he reports upon findings of fossil
remains of creatures below man, he may ‹ like Hugh Miller
(46) ‹ achieve
an eloquence unattained by
46. Miller, Hugh, The Testimony of the
Rocks, Nimmo, Edinburgh, 1874. A similar literary eloquence
will be found in two other books written in a like spirit: Prince
Petr Kropotkin, Mutual Aid, Extending Horizon Books, Boston,
reprint, 1955, and F. Wood Jones, Trends of Life, Arnold,
the indifferent evolutionist,
who sees only data in what he finds. Modern works on geology
or paleontology are, by and large, atrociously dull and have
none of the eloquence of, for instance, Miller's The Testimony
of the Rocks.
Gaps exist all down the line from
the very beginning to the very end of the record, from the Cambrian
Era to the Pleistocene Age, from non-living to living, from vegetable
to animal, from invertebrate to vertebrate, from cold- to warm-blooded,
from animal to man. These are merely the major areas in which
gaps exist. Gaps appear also between Orders, Classes, Families,
Genera, and Species. In the total view it could quite reasonably
be argued that there is not one missing link, i.e., between
animals and man, but a least a million missing links since there
are over a million species. Of course, gaps between species are
not really admitted, they are supplied by imagination. But at
the other levels they are acknowledged.
Between the non-living and the
living, there is a gap. There are some who hold that the viruses
supply a bridge, but this is not generally conceded. We have
already spoken of this gap earlier. Gaylord Simpson had an illuminating
statement about this. (47)
Above the level of the virus,
if that be granted status as an organism, the simplest living
unit is almost incredibly complex. It has become commonplace
to speak of evolution from amoeba to man, as if the amoeba were
a natural simple beginning of the process. On the contrary, if,
as must almost necessarily be true short of miracle, life arose
as a living molecule or protogene, the progression from this
stage to that of the amoeba is at least as great as that from
amoeba to man.
Many other writers
have underscored Simpson's words, stating that in fact the amoeba
had "solved" all the problems of living successfully
and that the rest of evolutionary history is merely an elaboration,
adding virtually nothing that is absolutely new. We hear much
these days, especially since Oparin's work, of the possibility
of synthesizing life in the laboratory. Supposing a protogene
or living molecule were so constructed, would it really be alive?
Is life merely chemistry and physics? Is not one of the characteristics
of living things a kind of will to continue alive? Where does
this "will" come from? Is it conceivable that it arises
automatically if you can just get molecule bonds of the right
kind in a test tube? Whether there is really a gap here, or not,
depends to some extent on how comprehensive one's definition
of life is to be. The power to adjust, to propagate, and to heal,
and not merely the power but the will ‹ the urge ‹ to
do these things is part of life.
47. Simpson, G. G., The Meaning
of Evolution, Yale University Press, 1952, pp.15,16.
inexplicable is the sudden profusion of life when we first meet
it. The controversy as to the reality, or otherwise, of pre-Cambrian
fossils continues unabated, not so much because there is an increasing
amount of evidence but because the Cambrian rocks which appear
next in time and are in some places found imposed directly upon
them, contain fossil remains representative of all the principal
phyla of animals. (48)
It used to be thought that the vertebrates were not represented
but there are today some who believe they were. (49) This leaves evolutionists
with the embarrassing problem of accounting for practically all
the major types of animals appearing suddenly without forebears,
a situation which is hard to explain except by postulating creation
on a grand scale in the beginning. This being unacceptable, it
becomes essential somehow to find at least some evidence of prior
stages of development in pre-Cambrian times. Hence the plea that
certain inclusions found in these earliest of all rocks are actually
the remains of very simple forms of life metamorphosed during
the subsequent history of these rocks. Douglas Dewar gave an
excellent treatment of these finds, giving the nature of them,
the claims made for them, and the authorities who held them to
be organic. (50)
He then showed the extreme precariousness of such claims. In
this Gaylord Simpson agreed: (51)
It is true that most pre-Cambrian
rocks have been so altered as to be unsuitable for the clear
preservation of fossils. This, however, is not true of all of
them, and the exceptions have been so carefully searched, that
fossils other than algae should have been found if present. There
must be some special reason why varied fossils are suddenly present
in the Cambrian and not before.
We must begin
of course with the major divisions, the phyla. Here there is
no doubt about the problem of gaps. The case was stated succinctly
by Buchsbaum, in a standard textbook: (52)
Everyone enjoys the unravelling
of a good mystery, but no one would like to read on from clue
to clue, until the earliest and most important events seemed
about to be disclosed, only to find that the rest of the pages
in the book were missing. Just this kind of exasperating situation
confronts us when we try to relate animals to one another in
an orderly scheme.
Anyone can see that honeybees are
much like bumble bees, that bees resemble flies more than they
do spiders, and that spiders are more like lobsters than like
48. Shull, A. F., Evolution, McGraw-Hill,
New York, 1936, p.46.
49. Romer, Alfred, Vertebrate Palaeontology, 2nd edition,
University of Chicago Press, 1945, p.36.
50. Dewar, Douglas, "The Earliest Known Animals," Transactions
of the Victoria Institute, vol.80, 1948, p.12-32.
51. Simpson, G. G., ref.32, p.18.
52. Buchsbaum, R, Animals Without Backbones, University
of Chicago Press, 1938, pp.334, 335.
we attempt to relate the phyla, which, by definition, are groups
of animals with fundamentally different body plans, there is
little we can say with certainty. Arthropods are clearly allied
to annelids, but how they are related to such utterly different
animals as starfishes or vertebrates is quite obscure. The fossil
record, which in many cases provides us with a whole series of
gradually changing specimens from which we can work out the evolution
of one small group from another, is of practically no use in
relating the phyla to each other. For, as we dig deeper and deeper
into the rocks, expecting to find a level at which the most recently
evolved phyla no longer appear, we find instead that the fossil
record is obliterated.
explained this for his readers by stating that the record fails
us here because the rocks have been so altered in various ways
that any fossils they contained have been changed beyond recognition
as such. But this is an entirely gratuitous assumption. There
are pre-Cambrian rocks at great depth which have not been so
metamorphosed, and yet they still contain no such missing links.
Unfortunately the student is not told that at this point in his
education. When his mind has been thoroughly set to accept with
conviction the theory of evolution then he can be casually told
that there are problems. This is almost deliberately misleading.
Buchsbaum says "We must assume a relationship." Must
Vast masses of unmetamorphosed
pre-Cambrian sediments, like the huge Cuddapah series of India,
over 20,000 feet thick, which are perfectly suited to have preserved
fossil traces of life ‹ had it existed ‹ are known. (53) It has also been claimed
that the early seas were deficient in lime, and that on this
account the hard parts which are normally fossilized were not
developed during this period. But the suddenness with which they
appear in Cambrian rocks is hard to explain on this basis, for
it seems unlikely that the lime salts were so suddenly increased
in the interval. And the existence of extensive coastal fauna
‹ missing earlier ‹ adds to the difficulty, since this
could not be accounted for by such a means. Moreover, as has
been pointed out on numerous occasions, jellyfish, which have
no hard parts at all, are found in Cambrian rocks as fossils.
So the total absence of fossils in pre-Cambrian times is not
merely due to the absence of hard parts.
The problem is real enough. Recently
Daniel I. Axelrod wrote: (54)
One of the major unsolved problems
of Geology and Evolution is the occurrence of diversified multicellular-marine
invertebrates in Lower Cambrian
53. Davies, Merson, "The Present
Status of Teleology," Transactions of the Victoria Institute,
vol.79, 1947, p.80.
54. Axelrod, Daniel I., "Early Cambrian Fauna," Science,
July, 1958, p.7.
fossils including porifera, coelenterates,
brachiopods, mollusca, echinoids, and arthropods.
In the Arthropoda are included
the well known trilobites which were complexly organized, with
well differentiated head and tail, numerous thoracic parts, jointed
legs, and -- like the later crustaceans -- a complex respiratory
system. From a phylogenetic standpoint the Early Cambrian faunal
assemblage is generally interpreted to represent rather simple
ancestral types in their respective phyla, which rapidly diversified
into numerous types (species, genera, families, orders) during
and following the Early Cambrian.
Their high degree of organization
clearly indicates that a long period of evolution preceded their
appearance in the record. However, when we turn to examine pre-Cambrian
rocks for the forerunners of these Early Cambrian fossils, they
are nowhere to be found. Many thick (over 5000 feet) sections
of sedimentary rock are now known to lie in unbroken succession
below strata containing the earliest Cambrian fossils. These
sediments apparently were suitable for the preservation of fossils,
because they are often identical with overlying rocks which are
fossiliferous, yet no fossils are found in them. Clearly, a significant
but unrecorded chapter in the history of life is missing from
the rocks of pre-Cambrian time.
Numerous theories have been advanced
to explain this hiatus. . . .
listed these, which include such theories as that the fossils
were destroyed by changes in the rock, that the fossils had no
skeletons because there was no calcium in the sea, that the sea
was acid preventing the formation of calcarious skeletons, that
the marine life originated in fresh water only reaching the oceans
in Cambrian times, that pre-Cambrian life lacked hard parts because
life was confined to surface water where skeletons would have
been of little use, or that skeletons suddenly appeared due to
the adoption of a sluggish mode of existence at the bottom of
the sea. These and other theories are examined and the general
conclusion is that in due time evidence will be forthcoming to
show how the evolution took place. It seems to me that it is
proper to continue this search and unless those who undertake
it adopt an essentially hostile attitude towards creation, the
search will not be thorough. Until they find what they are looking
for, we have as much right to believe in direct creation as they
do in evolution ‹ indeed more right, because the sudden appearance
of living forms is a fact, but their supposed evolution is still
only a theory.
Merson Davies pointed out that
it is not merely a case of the absence of a few simple transitional
forms. What is missing is virtually 99 percent of the earlier
stages of development of all kinds of forms, insects, birds,
mammals, reptiles all sorts of highly organized and presently
represented living creatures. Thus he wrote: (55)
55. Davies, Merson, "The Present Status
of Teleology," Transactions of the Victoria Institute,
vol.79, 1947, p.81, 82.
new types always appear suddenly, the greatest problems being
solved outright, without any clue as to how they were solved.
Nobody knows how crinoids originated. The first amphibians have
true feet, there being nothing to show how any fin became a foot.
Swimming molluscs (Pteropods) appear at the base of the record,
while their supposed ancestors, the Opisthobranchs, do not appear
until the Carboniferous some two hundred million years later.
The first birds have large and
perfectly formed feathers there being nothing to put between
a feather and a scale. The first bats are perfect bats, and even
include a still existing family (the Vespertilionidae) The first
whales are as true whales as any existing today, and include
quite different types, one of which belongs to the existing order
of Odontoceti, and seems to have no connection with the others.
The first insects include the largest
ones known to us ‹ Meganeura ‹ or monster dragonflies,
with a wingspan of nearly a yard in extent; also numerous cockroaches
of many kinds. The earliest known scorpion is hardly distinguishable
from existing ones, and has such a well-developed poison apparatus
that it is named Palaeophonus, or ancient murderer. It is the
same with the whip scorpions, which are fully characterized from
the first. Spiders also appear suddenly, and are practically
unchanged from the start. Among the first water fleas we find
the modern genus Estheria.
Wood Jones was
of the opinion that the vertebrates did not evolve out of invertebrates.
He said: (56)
Since the acceptance of Darwin's
theory of evolution many attempts have been made by distinguished
biologists (such as Gaskill and Patten) to prove that the invertebrates
did indeed evolve into vertebrates: but all the available evidence
makes it quite certain that the two great phyla arose in complete
independence of one another.
Nor can the
vertebrates be derived from the arthropods which are also found
in Cambrian rocks, as A. L. Kroeber put it: (57)
No arthropod can give rise to
a vertebrate, their patterns are separated by profound, unbridgeable
The same is
true in the plant world. C. R. Metcalfe and L. Chalk had this
to say: (58)
All views which have been expressed
concerning the phylogenetic interrelationships of plant families
are largely a matter of personal opinion. To the authors, as
indeed to many other botanists, it appears highly improbable
that the families of flowering plants have been evolved one from
In the same
connection, A. F. Shull said: (59)
56. Jones, F. Wood, Trends of Life,
Arnold, London, 1953, p.74.
57. Kroeber, A. L., Anthropology, Harcourt, Brace, New
York, 1948, p.315.
58. Metcalfe, C. R., and Chalk, L., Thc Anatomy of
Dicotyledons, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1950, quoted by Irving
W. Knoblock, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation,
vol.5, no.3, September, 1953, p.14.
59. Shull, A. F., Evolution, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1936,
flowering plants appeared suddenly in such abundance and variety
in late Cretaceous that it is generally assumed they originated
much earlier, though little fossil evidence of them in earlier
periods has been obtained.
in a remarkable book The Natural Philosophy of Plant Form,
goes even further and argues that it has been to the detriment
of botanical research that evolutionary ideas and the determination
to trace continuous lines has governed the thinking of contemporary
students in this field. (60) Similarly, Ronald Good pointed out that at least
some of the best-known speculations about organic evolution are
less generally applicable in botany than is usually claimed.
He observed: (61)
Little or nothing in this picture
of Evolution in the Flowering Plants supports the view that they
are the products of any highly competitive and illiminative plan
of nature. On the contrary it suggests that no matter what new
characters or combinations of old characters change with time
may effect, they are all able to find an existence somewhere
in the scheme of things.
It seems, therefore,
that not only are representatives of many of the stages of supposed
plant development missing, but even those which are available
are not to be accounted for by currently accepted evolutionary
theory. J.W. Klotz emphasized the problem here when he stated:
One of the big problems of plant
evolution, and especially the evolution of flowering plants,
is the fact that the latter appear so suddenly in the geological
record. . . .
Darwin called their origin an "abominable
mystery," and most evolutionists today still agree. It is
generally assumed that they must have originated earlier, not
because fossils have been found, but because it is inconceivable
that it should have originated so suddenly. Sprague says that
apart from the Caytomailes, which occupy a rather isolated position,
the earliest angiosperms recorded in the fossil state belong
largely to recent families and genera. He also points out that
fossils afford no clue to the inter-relationships of the families.
Scott says much the same thing.
He points out that the fossil history of the flowering plants
shows no sign of a beginning, for with few exceptions all these
specimens can be referred to families still existing.
D. H. Scott's
actual words are striking. (63) He said that the flowering
60. Arber, Agnes, The Natural Philosophy
of Plant Form, Cambridge University Press, 1950, 240 pp.
61. Good, Ronald, Features of Evolution in the Flowering Plants,
Longmans Green, London, 1956, p.388.
62. Klotz, John, "Nature's Complexity and God," in
The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by
J. C. Monsma, Putnam, New York, 1958, p.433.
63. Scott, D. H., Extinct Plants and Problems of Evolution,
Macmillan, London, 1924, p.57.
suddenly in their full strength, like Athene sprung from the
brain of Zeus. We know nothing of their evolution."
Walter Beasley has remarked upon
the importance of the mutual adaptation in the middle part of
the Cretaceous period of pollinating insects and honey-bearing
flowers. (64) John
Klotz pointed out that such interdependence between insects and
flowering plants are extensive. (65) One of the best known of these is the Yucca moth
and the Yucca plant in which the dependence is absolute. A similar
situation exists in the relationship between the commercial fig
and a group of small wasps; and likewise between the common Jack-in-the-pulpit
and a species of tiny fly. There is a dual problem here. Not
only is the origin of angiosperms and flowering plants a mystery,
but so also is the origin of insects, which in this case are
essential to them. Comte du Nouy stated that about one thousand
species of insects have been identified in the upper Carboniferous,
but nothing is known of their past. He said, "If they descend
from the common stock we have no idea when they branched off
to evolve in their own manner." (66)
Heribert Nilsson has published
a monumental work entitled Synthetische Artbildung. In
this massive volume (1,300 pages) Nilsson declared that having
spent a long life in seeking experimental proof of evolution
he now found himself forced to abandon it. He summed up his thoughts
at one point in the following words: (67)
My attempts to demonstrate Evolution
by an experiment carried on for more than 40 years have completely
failed. At least, I should hardly be accused of having started
from a preconceived antievolutionary standpoint. . .
It may be firmly maintained that
it is not even possible to make a caricature of an evolution
out of paleo-biological facts. The fossil material is now so
complete that it has been possible to construct new classes,
and the lack of transitional series cannot be explained as being
due to the scarcity of material. The deficiencies are real, they
will never be filled.
Earlier in his
book a whole section was devoted to the origin of flowering plants.
He spoke of the "incomprehensible appearance" of separately
existing stocks in the plant kingdom: (68)
64. Beasley, Walter J., Creation' s Amazing
Architect, Marshall, Morgan and Scott, London, 1955 p.115.
65. Klotz, John, "Nature's Complexity and God," in
The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by
J. C. Monsma, Putnam, New York, 1958, pp.78f.
66. Du Nouy, Le Comte, Human Destiny, Longmans, Green,
Toronto, 1947, p.77.
67. Nilsson, Heribert, Synthetische Artbildung, Verlag
CWK Gleerup, Lund, Sweden, 1953, pp.1185 and 1212.
68. Ibid., p.499. From page 447 onward Nilsson illustrates
the discontinuities in the development of plant life with dozens
of examples. The gaps are not minor ones, easily accounted for
by an appeal to the "imperfection of the record," but
major ones which force him to the conclusion that "there
is not even a caricature of an evolution."
look at the peculiar main groups of the fossil flora, it is quite
striking that at definite intervals of geological time they all
at once and suddenly are there, and moreover, in full bloom in
all their manifold forms. . .
We have referred
to the mystery of the origin of vertebrates. Alfred Romer stated
that two subclasses of bony fishes were already quite distinct
at their first appearance in the fossil record. (69) When we pass from cold-blooded
vertebrates to warm-blooded vertebrates, we run into similar
problems of the absence of transitional forms, nor can we even
conceive of them. From the very beginning it has been recognized
that the first baby mammal to be born could not have survived
unless its mother was already a mammal also. But when this mother
was a baby, it could not have survived unless its mother
were a mammal. (70)
And so the problem goes. Simpson held that the regular absence
of transitional forms is not confined to any one class or order
but is an almost universal phenomenon. He said, "It is true
of almost all orders, of all classes of animals both vertebrate
and invertebrate . . . and it is apparently true also of analogous
categories of plants." (71) He stated that this is true of all the thirty-two
orders of mammals and continued: (72)
The earliest and most primitive
members known of every order already have the basic ordinal characters,
and in no case is an approximately continuous sequence from one
order to another known. In most cases the break is so sharp and
large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed.
In another place,
the same authority quoted D'Arcy Thompson in 1942 as follows:
Eighty years of study of Darwinian
Evolution has not taught us how birds descended from reptiles,
mammals from earlier quadrupeds, quadrupeds from fishes, nor
vertebrates from invertebrate stock. The invertebrates themselves
involve the selfsame difficulties, so that we do not know the
origin of the echinoderms, the molluscs, of the coelenterates
nor of one group of protozoa from another. . .
The failure to solve this, the cardinal
problem of evolutionary biology is a very curious thing, and
we may well wonder why the long pedigree is subject to such breaches
of continuity. We used to be told, and were content to believe,
that the old record was of necessity imperfect ‹ we could
69. Romer, Alfred: quoted by Russell
Mixter, "Creation and Evolution," monograph, American
Sci.entific Affiliation, Goshen, Indiana, 1951, p.21.
70. Reddie, James, "On the Various Theories of Man's Past
and Present Condition," Transactions of the Victoria
Institute, vol.1, 1866, p.178 . Wallace and Darwin
both recognized this problem, but had no answer to it.
71. Simpson, G. G., Tempo and Mode in Evolution, Columbia
University Press, 1944, p.107.
72. Ibid., p.115.
73. Thompson, D'Arcy, On Growth and Form, Cambridge
University Press, 1942, pp.1092, 1093.
it to be otherwise: the story was hard
to read because every here and there a page had been lost or
torn away. . . . But there is a deeper reason. A "principle
of discontinuity" then, is inherent in all our classification.
. . .
In natural history Cuvier's types
may not be perfectly chosen nor numerous enough, but types they
are; and to seek for stepping stones across the gaps between
is to seek in vain forever.
I. Manton, in
a book dealing with problems of cytology and evolution in the
came to the conclusion that phyletic trees resemble less a trunk
with branches than a "bundle of sticks," a point of
view with which W. Pauli agreed when he said, "The evolutionary
tree proves not to be a tree at all but a profusely branched
It had been hoped that time would
correct the imperfection of the fossil record but this has not
proved to be the case, and today it is being very widely admitted
that the gaps are likely to remain. Indeed, a few paleontologists
are even doubting whether they ever existed. . . . In a volume
dedicated to Ernst Mayr, John Imbrie presented a paper entitled,
"The Species Problem with Fossil Animals." Here he
The most serious limitation
of paleontological data is the sparcity of fossils. It is true,
of course . . . that future (search) will bring forth an unknown
but certainly very large amount of new material from localities
and horizons now unrepresented in evolutionary collections. Nevertheless,
from general theoretical considerations on the nature of sedimentation
and diagenesis, and from practical experience in portions of
the geological column which have been thoroughly examined for
fossils, most paleontologists and stratigraphers would predict
that no amount of future field work will ever fill a majority
of existing phyletic gaps between transient species.
In short, the
intermediate forms, the missing links, are missing now and are
never likely to be found. Perhaps they never existed? Belief
in their existence is, then, faith in things not seen. . . .
And the gaps are extraordinarily
widespread. Witness this broad confession by perhaps the greatest
paleontologist in the United States at the present time, Gaylord
Simpson of Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural
History. In his Tempo and Mode in Evolution, he wrote:
On higher levels . . . continuous
transitional sequences are not merely rare, but are virtually
absent. These large discontinuities are less numerous so
74. Manton, I., Problems of Cytology and
Evolution in the Pteridophyta, Cambridge University Press,
1950: quoted by Irving W. Knoblock, Journal of the American
Scientific Affiliation, vol.5, no.3, September, 1953, p.14.
75. Pauli, W., Thc World of Life, Houghton Mifflin, Boston,
1949: quoted by Irving Knoblock as just above.
76. Imbrie, John, "The Species Problem with Fossil Animals,"
in The Species Problem, edited by Ernst Mayr, American
Association of Advanced Science, Washington, D. C., 1957, p.142.
77. Simpson, G. G., Tempo and Mode in Evolution, Columbia
University Press, 1944, pp.105, 115.
that paleontological examples of their
origin should also be less numerous; but their absence is so
nearly universal that it cannot, offhand, be imputed entirely
to chance and does require some attempt at special explanation
as have been felt by most paleontologists. . . .
As it became more and more evident
that the great gaps remained, despite wonderful progress in finding
the members of lesser transitional groups and progressive lines,
it was no longer satisfactory to impute this absence of objective
data entirely to chance. The failure of paleontology to produce
such evidence was so keenly felt that a few disillusioned naturalists
even decided that the theory of organic evolution, or of general
organic continuity of descent, was wrong, after all. . . .
The face of the record thus does
really suggest normal discontinuity at all levels, most particularly
at high levels, and some paleontologists (for example Spath and
Schindewolf) insist on taking the record at its face value.
This was written in
1944. Ten years later Simpson re-affirmed this distressing situation.
In his book The Major Features of Evolution, he wrote:
In spite of these examples,
it remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most
[emphasis his] new species, genera, and families, and that
nearly all new categories above the level of families, appear
in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual,
completely continuous transitional sequences.
It is difficult
to see how one could possibly ask for any more concrete evidence
for the fact of actual creation than this.
And once again, several years later,
he affirms that the situation still remains the same. In his
paper "The History of Life," presented during the Darwin
Centennial Celebrations, he wrote: (79)
It is a feature of the known
fossil record that most taxa appear abruptly. They are not as
a rule led up to by a sequence of almost imperceptibly changing
forerunners, such as Darwin believed should be usual in evolution.
A great many sequences of two or of a few temporally intergrading
species are known, but even at this level most species appear
without known immediate [emphasis his] ancestors, and
really long, perfectly complete sequences of numerous species
are exceedingly rare. Sequences of genera, immediately successive
or nearly so . . . are more common . . . But the appearance of
a new genus in the record is usually more abrupt than the appearance
of a new species: the gaps involved are generally larger . .
. This phenomenon becomes more universal and more intense
as the hierarchy of categories is ascended. Gaps among known
species are sporadic and often small. Gaps among known orders,
classes, and phyla are systematic and almost always large.
It is intriguing
to see how varied are the attempts to account for
78. Simpson, G. G., The Major Features
of Evolution, Columbia University Press, 1953, p.360.
79. Simpson, G. G., in Evolution After Darwin, vol.1,
edited by Sol Tax, University of Chicago Press, 1960, p.149.
these gaps. There is
no denying them any longer, and yet it is fatal to admit that
they are real: so there must be found some way of explaining
how they are missing from the record. There are two kinds of
solutions which salvage the theory of evolution. The older one
is that adopted by R. B. Goldschmidt who cut the gordion knot
by saying that probably no intermediate forms were ever required.
Animals changed by sudden monstrous leaps or saltations, rather
than by many small barely observable mutation. He proposed,
for example, that on one occasion a reptile laid an egg and to
mother's enormous surprise, a bird hatched from it! (80) All the phyla, classes,
orders, and families arose instantaneously by this kind of saltation.
Once it had occurred, the new "hopeful monster," as
it has been called, sires a whole family of offspring which then
quickly explore their genetic heritage and try out "explosively"
all the variant forms allowed by the new constitution. This whole
concept was seriously proposed by this very reputable geneticist
and given a serious hearing by what must have been a rather desperate
group of evolutionists. It is little short of miracle -- or perhaps
fantasy would be better. Theodosius Dobzhansky, in commenting
on Goldschmidt's idea, which he described as "catapulting
into being new forms of life," rightly observes "this
theory virtually rejects evolution as this term is understood."
A more recent "explanation"
was discussed by Jonathan Roughgarden in an issue of Science.
He wrote: (82)
In one of the most interesting
and provoking essays, Eldredge and Gould examine the importance
of gaps in the phylogenetic record. . . . New species
form in small populations separated from the main species population
by a physical barrier to dispersal. Then . . . it is unlikely
that (the fossil record) will sample the new species until some
late stage in its formation when its range has increased. Hence
gaps appear in the phylogenetic record.
This might help
to account for gaps in the record between species, but surely
not between higher classifications of animals? It is as Roughgarden
observes: the idea of geographic isolation as the cause of speciation
is "currently trading on its intuitive appeal, the authority
of its proponents, and its power as a synthesizing principle.
But its acceptance is transient."
80. Goldschmidt, Ralph, "Evolution As
Viewed by One Geneticist," American Scientist, vol.40,
81. Dobzhansky, Theodosius, Genetics and the Origin of Species,
Columbia University Press, 1949, p.53.
82. Roughgarden, Jonathan: reviewing "Models in Paleobiology,"
edited by Thomas J. M. Schoff, in Science, vol.179, 1973,
Although I have a great admiration for Gaylord Simpson's
clarity of thought and facility of expression, I cannot refrain
from mentioning how he has proposed that these gaps occurred.
As explained by G. Ledyard Stebbins in a paper entitled "The
Dynamics of Evolutionary Change," Simpson's idea is that
while "many examples are known in which a new type of animal
or plant appears suddenly and seems to be completely separate
in respect to many large differences from any earlier form,"
(83) one must simply
assume that "the fossil record contains many highly significant
gaps." This is interesting as a scientific explanation.
The record lacks the intermediate forms, and so we must conclude
that the intermediate forms are lacking in the record!
There is an observation made by
W. R. Thompson in a paper entitled "The Status of Species,"
which is particularly to the point in uncovering important hidden
implications involved in any proposal that such missing links
really did exist and really have been lost. He pointed
out that the argument that "although fossils of types and
species we need to complete a phylogeny cannot be found, these
types and species did once exist" is a double-edged weapon.
(84) If the types
leading up to and very similar to ichthyosaurs, for example,
existed before they are actually known as fossils, "why
may not the vertebrates also have existed before the periods
in which we find them as fossils, and may not the temporal succession,
fish-amphibians-reptiles-mammals, also be an illusion?"
The point is well taken. For we have as much right to argue that
there could conceivably have been modern fossils alongside the
very earliest ones, which would, of course, play havoc with the
whole theory of evolution. Who is to say that these postulated
modern fossils have not simply been lost along with all the rest
of the missing links?
This, then, is the present position.
It is not that we who believe in creation have distorted or misread
the evidence. The fact is that it requires as much faith in miracles
and as much faith in the reality of what still has not "been
seen" to believe in evolution as it does in creation. The
connection between different species, including man and the apes,
looks very convincing, but it may well be merely a matter of
common design by a single Creator.
83. Stebbins, G. Ledyard, "The Dynamics
of Evolutionary Change," in Human Evolution: Readings
in Physical Anthropology, edited by N. Korn and F. W. Thompson,
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1967, p.48.
84. Thompson, W. R., "The Status Of Species," in Philosophical
Problems in Biology, edited by Vincent E. Smith, St. John's
University Philosophical Series 5, Jamaica, New York, 1966, p.91.
Frank Marsh made a comment that is relevant here:
Evolutionists commonly explode
at this point and say, "Well, if God created us separately
and without evolution through the beasts, why did He deliberately
deceive us by making us appear morphologically and physiologically
as if we are blood relatives. . . ?" The answer is that
God has not deceived us. One reason why God gave us the Bible
is to clear this very point. Although we may appear to be blood
related to the beasts, the facts are that we are not. If we insist
upon being deceived on this point, it is not our Creator who
deceives us, but we ourselves.
given where man's knowledge was limited. We cannot blame God
if we choose simply to ignore it.
85. Marsh, Frank L, Life, Man and Time,
Pacific Press Publishing Association, California, 1957, p.171.
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
Previous Chapter Next