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Evolution and the Fossil Record

18 Aug
Evolutionary Tree of Life (From Google Images)

Evolutionary Tree of Life
(From Google Images)

According to the Theory of Evolution, life began millions of years ago on Earth in a primordial soup, appearing as the most basic form of life and from that evolving from the most simple into the most complex species. If the theory is true, there would have to have been a vast amount of intermediate species in the fossil record.[1] Darwin mused over the lack of transitional forms between the species he claimed had common ancestors, and concluded that the reason none could be found was the “extreme imperfection of the geological record.”[2]

One of the most glaring problems for the theory today is the continued lack of intermediate species in the face of a very rich geological record![3] No one is able to complain today, as Darwin did in his book, that the record is incomplete. Yet, the fossil record is pregnant with gaps between modern species their supposed less complex ancient ancestors.

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” Stephen Jay Gould, Harvard University; “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History 86, (1977): 14.

“Both the origin of life and the origin of the major groups of animals remain unknown.” [Alfred G. Fisher; evolutionist Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 1998, fossil section].

Dr. Colin Paterson is the senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History, which has the largest fossil collection in the world. Dr. Paterson was asked: why he did not show the missing links in his book, Evolution, he replied:

“I fully agree with your comments on the lack of evolutionary transitions in my book. If I knew of any, fossil or living, I would have included them. I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil…” [Dr. Colin Paterson, Senior Paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History – in correspondence with Luther Sunderland, quoted in “Darwin’s Enigma”]

Stephen J. Gould, the now deceased professor of paleontology of Harvard University, also admitted that there are no transitional fossils:

“The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages… has been a persistent and nagging problem for evolution.” [Dr. Stephen J. Gould; Evolution Now; page 140; Professor of Geology at Harvard University in Boston].

In other words, we have the theory; we know it’s true; we just need the evidence!

In the words of paleontologist David Raup: “In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general, these have not been found—yet the optimist has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks.” [Science, July 17 1981, Vo l 213, p.289]

What? There is fantasy in the evolutionary tree? Indeed there has been. We could name the Nebraska Man, devised from the tooth of a wild pig, the Piltdown Man an outright hoax, the Java Man[4] who turned out to be a gibbon, the Orce Man who turned out to be a donkey, Peking Man who turned out to be an ape, Lucy (Australopithecus) who also turned out to be an ape. These are among the myths of the evolutionary theory—the wishful thinking (and at least one outright hoax) of scientists who believed strongly in their theory but erred in their conclusions, no doubt due to their eagerness to get funding for their projects.

One could hardly condemn people who are simply wrong. We all err, and sometimes we err, because we are simply too eager to prove what we truly believe is so. On such occasions we make overly eager judgments instead of patiently waiting for more conclusive evidence. However, what one cannot excuse is the fact that it takes so long to remove these errors from the textbooks, sometimes decades. While one can understand an oversight, how is it possible to understand known errors taught years after their discovery as anything less than deliberate?


[1] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, 1859, page 311

[2] Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Vol. 2, 6th edition; page 49.

[3] George T. Neville; “Fossils in Evolutionary Perspective” Science Progress, Vol. 48, January 1960, pages 1, 3.

[4] It has been pointed out to me that ‘Java Man’ was not a hoax but belongs to the species homo-erectus, and after some investigation, I quite agree. The others listed above are hoaxes, but Java Man is not. He belongs to an extinct ape family that lived in groups and even used tools (like some chimps do). This opinion will not, however, be universally accepted, as many (most?) scientists would put Java Man in the human family. I do not.

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6 Comments

Posted by on August 18, 2013 in naturalism, theory of evolution

 

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6 responses to “Evolution and the Fossil Record

  1. agnophilo

    September 20, 2013 at 17:41

    Google “transitional fossil” and you will find many examples. Google “horse evolution”, “whale evolution” “human evolution”, hell we even have pre-shell turtle fossils that had teeth and spiked tails. The claim that there are no intermediate forms is ignorant or dishonest. Darwin even predicted some intermediate forms that were found in his lifetime. He said that if birds descended from land animals their ancestors must have had separate digits in the bones of their wings, which must be modified from forelimbs, nearly all of which have five digits in land animals. Two years later the first specimens were found of archeopteryx, a dinosaur with feathered wings and five clawed digits. 150 years later creationists are still claiming we’ve never found a single one. What was it you said?

    “While one can understand an oversight, how is it possible to understand known errors taught years after their discovery as anything less than deliberate?”

    Indeed.

    Oh, and piltdown man was a hoax perpetrated by a non-scientist, nebraska man was a tooth thought to possibly belong to a hominid that the non-scientific media ran with, java man is homo erectus, not a gibbon, and to claim that peking man and lucy “turned out to be an ape” as though scientists made a mistake is misleading because humans belong to the ape family to this day.

    “Judge not, that you may not be judged; for your own judgement will be dealt—and your own measure meted—to yourselves. And why do you look at the splinter in your brother’s eye, and not notice the beam which is in your own eye? Or how say to your brother, ‘Allow me to take the splinter out of your eye,’ while the beam is in your own eye? Hypocrite, first take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

    I think you know the author of that one.

     
    • Eddie

      September 21, 2013 at 10:41

      Greetings ‘agno’ and welcome; I always appreciate an opposing point of view.

      Google “transitional fossil” and you will find many examples. Google “horse evolution”, “whale evolution” “human evolution”, hell we even have pre-shell turtle fossils that had teeth and spiked tails. The claim that there are no intermediate forms is ignorant or dishonest. Darwin even predicted some intermediate forms that were found in his lifetime. He said that if birds descended from land animals their ancestors must have had separate digits in the bones of their wings, which must be modified from forelimbs, nearly all of which have five digits in land animals. Two years later the first specimens were found of archeopteryx, a dinosaur with feathered wings and five clawed digits. 150 years later creationists are still claiming we’ve never found a single one. What was it you said?

      I can also Google ‘Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Donald Duck’ but that wouldn’t make them anymore real than the supposed ‘transitional fossils’ you think you found. Perhaps you didn’t realize that the quotes I put forth as evidence of my claims come from evolutionists, not creationists. I haven’t claimed anything that the evolutionary scientists you hang your hat on haven’t claimed themselves. Read it again, if you like, and see if what I’m telling you here isn’t the truth.

      Oh, and piltdown man was a hoax perpetrated by a non-scientist, nebraska man was a tooth thought to possibly belong to a hominid that the non-scientific media ran with, java man is homo erectus, not a gibbon, and to claim that peking man and lucy “turned out to be an ape” as though scientists made a mistake is misleading because humans belong to the ape family to this day.

      Concerning ‘Java Man’, I stand corrected. I had a hold of bad information. You are correct—the find is now considered that of a homo erectus. I plan to place footnote in my article noting my error. Nevertheless, as my blog-post shows above, none of the evolutionary scientists named claim knowledge of any ‘intermediate’ species leading to modern lifeforms.

      Concerning ‘Peking Man’ and ‘Lucy’, it has yet to be proved that mankind belongs to the ape family–or that we have a common ancestor. I understand that this is your worldview, but it is not mine. :-)

       
      • agnophilo

        September 21, 2013 at 16:03

        “Greetings ‘agno’ and welcome; I always appreciate an opposing point of view.”

        Likewise.

        “I can also Google ‘Mickey Mouse’ and ‘Donald Duck’ but that wouldn’t make them anymore real than the supposed ‘transitional fossils’ you think you found. ”

        Yes, all scientists are liars (including the christian scientists) and all fossils are forgeries. Go enjoy the world of cynicism and delusion you’ve invented for yourself. But please don’t be a hypocrite and pretend to care about evidence or demand to see it when you refuse to even acknowledge it’s existence.

        “Perhaps you didn’t realize that the quotes I put forth as evidence of my claims come from evolutionists, not creationists.”

        Yeah, and they are outdated and out of context.

        The first quote, in context refers to evolution as a fact and is gould promoting his idea of punctuated equilibrium, the notion that evolution happens in short bursts rather than even gradual phases. Creationists cite it out of context to give the appearance that he is contradicting evolution when he’s not.

        The second quote is from some unknown bookworm and I don’t care about it. The third is again out of context and a) the book in question does contain lots of examples of intermediate forms and talks about intermediate forms, and b) the context of the quote makes clear he is talking about direct ancestry which is impossible to determine from fossils rather than relative morphology. The fourth quote is the same as the first. The last quote I can’t find the context for but I doubt the pattern would be broken if I could.

        “I haven’t claimed anything that the evolutionary scientists you hang your hat on haven’t claimed themselves. Read it again, if you like, and see if what I’m telling you here isn’t the truth.”

        Again, this is an attempt to pretend there is one sort of consensus by cherry-picking and ignoring everything else in order to justify ignoring the actual consensus. Do you honestly think most scientists reject evolution? Do you honestly think that’s an even remotely popular view among those who study living things? Look up any poll on the subject.

        “Concerning ‘Java Man’, I stand corrected. I had a hold of bad information. You are correct—the find is now considered that of a homo erectus. I plan to place footnote in my article noting my error.”

        But all the other fossils are frauds?

        “Nevertheless, as my blog-post shows above, none of the evolutionary scientists named claim knowledge of any ‘intermediate’ species leading to modern lifeforms.”

        They all did actually. Usually within a sentence or two of the context of the quotes taken out of context.

        “Concerning ‘Peking Man’ and ‘Lucy’, it has yet to be proved that mankind belongs to the ape family–or that we have a common ancestor. I understand that this is your worldview, but it is not mine. :-)”

        This is like denying that a bass is a fish or a cat is a feline or a parrot is a bird. Species are grouped objectively by their shared characteristics, we are apes the same way all those other species are members of their respective groups. That you don’t like this or think it somehow makes you low or dirty or makes some problem in your worldview is your own hangup. It doesn’t change the facts.

         
        • Eddie

          September 22, 2013 at 13:40

          Greetings once again agno,

          … all scientists are liars (including the christian scientists) and all fossils are forgeries. Go enjoy the world of cynicism and delusion you’ve invented for yourself. But please don’t be a hypocrite and pretend to care about evidence or demand to see it when you refuse to even acknowledge it’s existence.

          Did I claim all scientists are liars or that fossils are forgeries? If you wish to put words in my mouth, you could easily do so in a blog of your own. I wouldn’t even have to be present. I’m sure you are intelligent enough to address what I actually say without writing what I did not say as though I did.

          Concerning the evidence of my claims coming from evolutionists, not creationists…

          Yeah, and they are outdated and out of context.
          The first quote, in context refers to evolution as a fact and is gould promoting his idea of punctuated equilibrium, the notion that evolution happens in short bursts rather than even gradual phases. Creationists cite it out of context to give the appearance that he is contradicting evolution when he’s not.

          Did I even remotely claim that Dr. Gould didn’t believe in evolution or that he was contradicting himself or other evolutionists? The point I made was that evolutionists themselves cannot point to an undisputed, existing intermediate fossil for evidence of their theory. The whole ‘evolutionary tree’ is inferred—their words, not mine.

          The second quote is from some unknown bookworm and I don’t care about it. The third is again out of context and a) the book in question does contain lots of examples of intermediate forms and talks about intermediate forms, and b) the context of the quote makes clear he is talking about direct ancestry which is impossible to determine from fossils rather than relative morphology. The fourth quote is the same as the first. The last quote I can’t find the context for but I doubt the pattern would be broken if I could.

          Since you are quoting nothing but offering only your interpretation of what is said, I expect you believe I (we, the readers) should take you word/interpretation as the real truth. The fact remains, however, that: Dr. Gould said: “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.” Moreover, Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia quotes Alfred G. Fisher, evolutionist, (your “unknown bookworm” that you don’t care about – but, apparently, Grolier Encyclopedia believes is worth the space) as saying: “Both the origin of life and the origin of the major groups of animals remain unknown.” How “out of context” can these things be? Either the origin of life is known or it isn’t. Either the evolutionary tree that adorns our textbooks are backed up with evidence or they are “inferred”. If you wish to take issue with this, be my guest, but put something out there in the form of evidence that can be traced, if you wish to be taken seriously.

          Now, if you wish to take issue with my quoting these people and using their words as evidence against the theory, which they publicly put forth as “undoubtedly” factual, then be my guest here as well. However, know that in doing so that doesn’t negate the fact that what I’ve quoted was indeed said by these people who have given themselves over to defending, teaching and making their living on a worldview wrapped up in Darwin’s theory.

          Concerning my invitation to you to read the quotes again:

          Again, this is an attempt to pretend there is one sort of consensus by cherry-picking and ignoring everything else in order to justify ignoring the actual consensus. Do you honestly think most scientists reject evolution? Do you honestly think that’s an even remotely popular view among those who study living things? Look up any poll on the subject.

          What have I ignored? …that, although I accurately quoted these men, that they haven’t caved in to the ‘creationist’ philosophy? I apologize if I gave the impression–that is that they caved in or even are considering the ‘creationist’ point of view, but looking back I still don’t see where that could be construed. I understand that these men are evolutionist. I understand that they may even have written books after these citations that would continue to express their support for the theory they embrace—That said, they really did make these claims in books or journals meant to be read and understood by their colleagues—scientists and other scholars. Are you telling me that I should ignore the admissions they have made among themselves, as though it would be unfair of me to quote them speaking to the scholarly among them?

          Concerning my admission of error about ‘Java Man’

          But all the other fossils are frauds?

          What ‘fossils’ are you speaking of? You imply insincerity on my part, but you present no evidence.

          I said: “Nevertheless, as my blog-post shows above, none of the evolutionary scientists named claim knowledge of any ‘intermediate’ species leading to modern lifeforms.” And you claimed:

          They all did actually. Usually within a sentence or two of the context of the quotes taken out of context.

          Am I simply supposed to take your word for it—i.e. you aren’t mistaken or we aren’t comparing apples and oranges here?

          I said: “Concerning ‘Peking Man’ and ‘Lucy’, it has yet to be proved that mankind belongs to the ape family–or that we have a common ancestor. I understand that this is your worldview, but it is not mine.” And you made the claim:

          This is like denying that a bass is a fish or a cat is a feline or a parrot is a bird. Species are grouped objectively by their shared characteristics, we are apes the same way all those other species are members of their respective groups. That you don’t like this or think it somehow makes you low or dirty or makes some problem in your worldview is your own hangup. It doesn’t change the facts.

          The problem, as I see it, is you don’t seem to understand the difference between a fact and a worldview. We both believe we exist and our existence is a “fact”. You believe the origin of your existence can be traced from primordial soup billions of years ago through a common ancestry with the modern ape—this is your **worldview** or how you understand the ‘fact’ of your existence. I do not share this worldview. My worldview concerns special creation by a benevolent God, and this idea expresses my understanding of the fact of my existence. We both embrace our specific worldview through faith. Neither you nor I am able to empirically prove our specific worldview is the correct interpretation of the fact of our existence. We are not at war over ‘facts’ but over worldviews—i.e. which is more reasonable.

           
        • agnophilo

          September 23, 2013 at 14:31

          I am not going to go to the effort to supply you with evidence you have already stated (before seeing it) is not genuine or valid.

           

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