Educated People Should Know Better
by Dan Paden
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Sometimes, things appear in the paper that almost seem to be
a gift. Such was the "Readers Forum" piece by John Hartman in today's
(9-11-05) Tulsa Whirled.
Hartman is an educated man, or so one would assume from the note at the end of
the piece: a professor of Environmental Sciences for Western International University. Being properly intimidated by his credentials and suffering
from a lack of time, I won't take issue with all of his statements, even though
some of them--notably, his claim that Intelligent Design is not legitimate
science, even though by the exact same
criteria, neither is evolution--are just begging for analysis. No,
I'll confine myself to the fruit he left hanging lowest on the branch, his
comments about testing
“...in the case of
evolution, one could search for sudden discontinuities in the history of life,
in which a new structure or function has arisen without any previous history
and no relationship to structures or functions in other related organisms.
(Such new structures have not yet been found, by the way.)”
If this seems like gobbledygook, I don't
blame you. It's not uncommon, when I deal with those who defend evolution, to
find that they can't even coherently state their position. In this case, I know
what Hartman says. What he says is that he wants, as disproof of
evolution, new structures without a previous history (He knows of new
structures with a previous history?)
and further, those structures must show no evidence of being related to
structures in related organisms. I know, it sounds silly. What he means is that in order to falsify
evolution, the fossil record (this is what he means by "the history of
life") must first show at least some structures that cannot be traced
through intermediate stages to earlier, usually simpler, forms and second, that
the fossil remains of any given species must not look like the fossil remains
of any other species. His second requirement may be a little confusing to some;
he asks this because in the mind of the evolutionist, it is axiomatic that
homologous structure indicates common descent. The obvious and perfectly valid
objection that homologous structure is equally well explained by a common
designer either hasn't struck him, or he has dismissed it out
of hand. Hartman winds up this paragraph by stating that no fossils have been
found that meet his requirements.
Well, I'm not going to bother any more than I already have with Hartman's
second requirement. "Common designer" is a perfectly valid
alternative to "common descent."
What about Hartman's first requirement? Is Hartman correct when he says that no
structure(s) or function(s) has(have) arisen without any previous history and
no relationship to structures or functions in other related organisms."?
Have no such structures been found in the
fossil record? Does the fossil record record the
in-between--transitional--forms he thinks establish evolution? Perhaps he'd
care to take it up with some of his fellow evolutionists. I have a few of their
quotes here. Any emphasis is mine.
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." (Gould, Stephen Jay
[Professor of Zoology andGeology, Harvard University, USA], "Evolution's
erratic pace," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, pp.12-16, May1977, p. 14)
"The history of most fossil species includes two features particularly inconsistent
with gradualism: 1. Stasis.
Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They
appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear;
morphological change is usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does
not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears
all at once and`fully formed.'" (Gould, Stephen J.
[Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University,USA], "Evolution's
Erratic Pace," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, May 1977, p.14).
"Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of `seeing'
evolution, it has presented some nasty
difficulties for evolutionists the most notorious of which is the presence of
`gaps' in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between
species and paleontology does not provide them." (Kitts,
David B. [Professorof Geology, University of Oklahoma], "Paleontology and
Evolutionary Theory," Evolution, Vol. 28, September1974, p.467).
".. I fully agree with your comments on the lack of direct illustration of
evolutionary transitions in my book. If
I knew of any, fossil or living, I would certainly have included them.
You suggest that an artist should be used to visualise such transformations,
but where would he get the information from? I could not, honestly, provide it,
and if I were to leave it to artistic licence, would that not mislead the
reader?' (Patterson, Colin [late Senior Palaeontologist, British Museum of
Natural History, London], letter 10 April 1979, in Sunderland L. D.,
"Darwin'sEnigma: Fossils and Other Problems," , Master Book
Publishers: El Cajon CA, Fourth Edition, 1988, p.89).
"Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism, confirmed by the work of population genetics, and the
actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed
to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of
a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary
novelty. Anything truly novel always
seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record." (Mayr,
Ernst [Emeritus Professor of Zoology, Harvard University], "Toward a New
Philosophy of Biology: Observations of an Evolutionist," Harvard
University Press: Cambridge MA, 1988, pp.529-530).
"No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems
never to happen….. When we do see the
introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and
often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere!
Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that's how the fossil
record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something
about evolution." (Eldredge, Niles [Chairman and Curator of Invertebrates,
American Museum of Natural History], "Reinventing Darwin: The Great
Evolutionary Debate," , p.hoenix:London, 1996, p.95).
"The facts of greatest general importance are the following. When a new
phylum, class, or order appears, there follows a quick, explosive (in terms of
geological time) diversification so that practically
all orders or families known appear suddenly and without any apparent
transitions. Afterwards, a slow evolution follows; this
frequently has the appearance of a gradual change, step by step, though down to
the generic level abrupt major steps without transitions occur. At the end of
such a series, a kind of evolutionary running- wild frequently is observed.
Giant forms appear, and odd or pathological types of different kinds precede
the extinction of such a line. Moreover, within the slowly evolving series, like
the famous horse series, the decisive
steps are abrupt, without transition: for example, the choice
of the middle finger for further transformation, as opposed to the two middle
fingers, in the evolution of the artiodactyls; or the sudden transition from
the four-toed to the three-toed foot with predominance of the third ray."
(Goldschmidt, Richard B., [late Professor of Genetics, University of
California, Berkeley], "Evolution, as Viewed by One Geneticist,"
American Scientist, Vol. 40, January 1952, p.97).
"At the core of punctuated equilibria lies an empirical observation: once evolved, species tend to remain remarkably
stable, recognizable entities for millions of years. The observation is by no means new, nearly every
paleontologist who reviewed Darwin's Origin of Species pointed to his evasion
of this salient feature of the fossil record. But stasis was
conveniently dropped as a feature of life's history to be reckoned with in
evolutionary biology. And stasis had continued to be ignored until Gould and I
showed that such stability is a real aspect of life's history which must be
confronted-and that, in fact, it posed no fundamental threat to the basic
notion of evolution itself. For that was Darwin's problem: to establish the
plausibility of the very idea of evolution, Darwin felt that he had to
undermine the older (and ultimately biblically based) doctrine of species
fixity. Stasis, to Darwin, was an ugly inconvenience." (Eldredge, Niles
[Chairman and Curator of Invertebrates, American Museum of Natural History],
"Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of
Punctuated Equilibria," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985,
Dr. Richard Dawkins regarding the "Cambrian Explosion": "It is as though they were just planted there,
without any evolutionary history. Needless to say this
appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists." The Blind
Watchmaker, 1987, p. 229.
Dr. Gerald Todd on Fishes: "How did they originate? What allowed them to
diverge so widely? And why is there no
trace of earlier intermediate forms?" American Zoologist,
vol 20, 1980 p.757.
Dr. Robert L. Carroll: "We have no
intermediate fossils between fish and amphibians."
Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, 1988 p. 138.
Boyce Rensberger: "The popularly told example of horse evolution, suggesting
a gradual sequence of changes from four-toed fox-sized creatures living 50
million years ago to today’s much larger one-toed horse, has long known to be
wrong. Instead of gradual change,
fossils of each intermediate species appear fully distinct, persist unchanged,
and then become extinct.Transitional forms are unknown." Houston Chronicle, 5 Nov 1980, p 15.
Well, just call me an idiot (I know some
of you out there will do this very thing), but it certainly seems to me that a
fairly substantial number of evolutionist scientists would not agree that the fossil record shows
that no "new structure or function has arisen without any previous history
and no relationship to structures or functions in other related
organisms." Perhaps they are wrong. Perhaps Hartman is wrong. Certainly both cannot be right. Either there are is
abundance of transitional forms in the fossil record, or there is not.
For those who don't know, there are two main evolutionist "camps," if
you will: the neo-Darwinists and the Punctuated Equilibrians. The latter,
hatched principally by Gould and Eldredge, says, basically, that evolution couldn't have happened by small, gradual
change over time because there is no trace (there are, 150 years after Darwin,
only a handful of hotly-disputed examples of so-called transitional forms) of
such change in the fossil record. Evolution must therefore have happened in
great big jumps that somehow--dare I say miraculously?--never got recorded in
the fossil record. The neo-Darwinists respond that there is no known mechanism
that could possibly account for such rapid, massive morphological
change, and that therefore, "punk eek" is just plain stupid. They'll
have the fossil evidence someday. Or maybe we wouldn't recognize a transitional
form if we saw it. I kid thee not. That's what's going on in the scientific
At any rate, for Professor Hartman to allude to the fossil record as though it
settles the whole issue is silly. It doesn't even settle it within the
Evolutionists frequently amaze me. To sum up their public position, they say:
We don't agree on whether evolution happened gradually, in tiny steps, or
rapidly, in great, big jumps. We don't agree on mechanisms for driving
evolution. We don't agree on the implications of the fossil record. We don't
have a workable scenario for the origin of life other than spontaneous
generation, which, embarrassingly, Louis Pasteur disproved more than a hundred
years ago. We can't even agree on the value of the Hubble Constant. But by gum
and by golly, we expect you, the public--great unwashed mass of idiots that you
are--not only to kowtow to us and believe that this same body of evidence that
doesn't even produce agreement amongst ourselves somehow establishes evolution
as a fact, but to pony up the funds to indoctrinate your own children with this
idea. Once again, I kid thee not. That's what they say.