Remember my preference

About the Book

Table of Contents

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V


Part I: The Preparation of the Earth For Man

Chapter 6

The Growing Evidence for Creative Activity

     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 vegetable), (42) 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.
43. Ibid., p. 236.

     pg 1 of 16      

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 everything.
     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.

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 the Gaps."

     pg.2 of 16     

     The 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, London, 1953.

     pg.3 of 16     

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.

     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.

     pg.4 of 16     

     Equally 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 clams.

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.

     pg.5 of 16     

     But when 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.

     Buchsbaum then 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 we?
     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:

     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.

     pg.6 of 16     

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. . . .

     Axelrod then 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. Davies, Merson, "The Present Status of Teleology," Transactions of the Victoria Institute, vol.79, 1947, p.81, 82.

     pg.7 of 16     

     Essentially 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 clefts.

     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 another.

     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, p.57.

     pg.8 of 16     

     The true 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.

     Agnes Arber, 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: (62)

     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.

     pg.9 of 16     

plants "appear 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:

     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."

     pg.10 of 16     

     If we 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: (73)

     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 not expect 

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.

     pg.11 of 16     

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 Pteridophyta, (74) 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 shrub." (75)
     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 wrote:

     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.

     pg.12 of 16   

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: (78)

     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:

     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.

     pg.13 of 16     

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." (81)
     A more recent "explanation" was discussed by Jonathan Roughgarden in an issue of Science. He wrote:

     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, 1952, p.84-98.
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, p.1225.

     pg.14 of 16     

     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.

     pg.15 of 16    

     Frank Marsh made a comment that is relevant here: (85)

     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.

     Revelation was 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.

     pg.16 of 16    

Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

Previous Chapter                                                                      Next Chapter

Home | Biography | The Books | Search | Order Books | Contact Us