Evolutionary scientists sometimes say the most fascinating things. When confronting creationists, they always present a unified front, insisting that total evolution is a certain fact of science, proved beyond reasonable doubt. Creation, on the other hand, they say, is nothing but religion. Sometimes they even get real ugly about it. One of England's top evolutionary biologists, Richard Dawkins, recently made the following pronouncement:
I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world's great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.1
Dawkins was speaking of religious faith, in general, especially any faith that opposes his neo-Darwinism which he equates to proven science.
However, while they can be of one mind about creationism, they also squabble vigorously among themselves when they assume we creationist Christians are not listening. A humanist, Rob Wipond, writes:
Scientists can be tired, ornery, and incredibly irrational when they wake up in the morning. Some do lie, some do falsify data. . . . They can be greedy; they may well have weak powers of logic, while no one else has the time or money to debunk their arguments.2
Wipond then proceeds to argue that belief in evolution is itself based on blind faith, stating that so-called "rational thinking may just be a highly sophisticated and powerful method of self-delusion."3 He goes on to say:
But then, it merely exposes how much the belief in evolutionary theory is ultimately based upon a similar kind of blind faith. It shows there is no definitive, final proof for evolution, either. There are just a lot of suggestive facts that make some of us formulate an argument, every bit as tautological as the quote-the-Bible-to-prove-creationism-is-
right arguments, which goes something like this: "Evolution seems to have occurred; therefore, evolution has occurred."4
We wonder if Dawkins would agree that blind faith in evolutionary theory is also "one of the world's great evils." Probably not.
Wipond is not alone in noting the absence of any proof for evolution. One of the nation's most eminent biologists, Keith Stewart Thompson, has recently discussed this curious fact.
As long as there have been theories of evolution (and certainly before Darwin), critics have complained that "the hypothesis remains destitute of satisfactory evidence" (Rev. William Paley, 1802). . . . That the charge applies equally against creation theorists is of little comfort.5
Thompson has noted the same problem that creationists have often emphasized. No one in all human history has documented an example of real evolution taking place. Evolution is not empirical science; it is a set of "just-so stories." He goes on to say:
Perhaps the most obvious challenge is to demonstrate evolution empirically. There are, arguably, some two to ten million species on Earth. The fossil record shows that most species survive somewhere between three and five million years. In that case, we ought to be seeing small but significant numbers of originations and extinctions every decade.6
But, of course, we don't! Not even in the laboratory, where many attempts have been made to speed evolution up.
Furthermore, the problem cannot be solved by stretching the imaginary process out over millions of years. The fossils also say no! There are no evolutionary transitions fossilized anywhere, although billions of fossils are there still preserved in the rocks.
One of the outstanding problems in large-scale evolution has been the origin of major taxa, such as the tetrapods, birds, and whales, that had appeared to rise suddenly, without any obvious answers, over a comparatively short period of time.7
Professor Carroll, an eminent Canadian paleontologist, is well aware of such highly publicized fossils as archaeopteryx (the alleged half-reptile, half-bird) and the so-called walking whale, but he still has to acknowledge that birds and whales arose suddenly without obvious ancestors. As a matter of fact, it is well known by paleontologists that literally all phyla, classes, orders, and families of plants and animals have arisen suddenly without obvious transitional ancestors, as far as the fossil record shows.
Nor will it do to attribute these ubiquitous gaps in evolution to the popular new theory of "punctuated equilibrium," being promoted by Harvard's Stephen Jay Gould. If there is minimal evidence for the slow-and-gradual evolutionary process of neo-Darwinism, there is far less evidence for the invisible process of sudden evolution postulated by Gould and his followers. A very interesting and cogent comment about Gould has appeared recently.
Even his critics grant that Dr. Gould is popular with lay readers, but this has also made him a favorite target of attack. In The New York Review of Books last year, John Maynard Smith, a prominent British evolutionist, said of him that "the evolutionary biologists with whom I have discussed his work tend to see him as a man whose ideas are so confused as to be hardly worth bothering with, but as one who should not be publicly criticized because he is at least on our side against the creationists."8
Let's stay united against the creationists, they say, no matter how we argue among ourselves, and no matter how flimsy is our evidence for evolution.
Dr. Thomson courageously has recently tried to define just what they should look for that could constitute genuine evidence of evolution.
All evolution is change but not all change is evolution. . . . I would argue that in order to constitute evidence of true evolution, a phenomenon must meet three simple criteria: it must be shown to be genetically based, it must be irreversible, and it should result in reproductive isolation of populations.9
That sounds quite reasonable, but no "change" observed thus far in nature, or in the laboratory, has been shown to meet these criteria. Mutations take place, but they are either reversible, deteriorative, or neutral. Recombinations of existing genes take place, but are "horizontal" changes that do not result in reproductive isolation. Natural selection takes place, but this is a conservative phenomenon, which weeds out defective mutants and keeps the population stable. Adaptations take place, but these are horizontal changes which conserve the species against extinction, but do not produce new species. Thomson concludes:
The million-dollar question is: What mechanisms lie between the short-term, low-scale and wholly reversible results so far obtained, and the origin of a new species? What conditions and mechanisms are required to feed back from a given level of phenotypic plasticity to a new genetic or phenotypic constitution? Stay tuned.10
Evolutionists must, therefore, simply "keep the faith." Somewhere, someone may find real empirical proof of evolution. In the meantime, most everything they say (other than mere recitals of facts on which both creationists and evolutionists agree), seems potentially something that can be used against them.11 One of their own has said it well.
So if we want to compare science and religion fairly and objectively, let us not compare science the fantasized ideal to religion in human reality but, rather, science in human reality to religion in human reality. And this is where the role of science as spinner of myths, as deluder of the masses, as intensely repressive force, must be confronted.12
1 Richard Dawkins, "Is Science a Religion?" The Humanist (vol. 57, Jan/Feb 1997), p. 26.
2 Rob Wipond, "The World is Round (and Other Mythologies of Modern Science)" The Humanist (vol. 58, March/April 1998), p. 11.
3 Ibid., p. 10.
4 Ibid., p. 10.
5 Keith Stewart Thompson, "Natural Selection and Evolution's Smoking Gun," American Scientist (vol. 85, Nov/Dec 1997), p. 516.
7 Robert L. Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Paleontology (Cambridge, U.K., Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 391.
8 David L. Wheeler, "An Eclectic Biologist Argues that Humans Are Not Evolution's Most Important Results: Bacteria Are," Chronicle of Higher Education (vol. LXIII, Sept. 6, 1996), p. A-23.
9 Keith Stewart Thomson, op. cit., p. 518.
11 See That Their Words May Be Used Against Them (Henry M. Morris, Master Books, 1997), 487 pp., for almost 3000 quotes of this nature from evolutionists.
12 Robert Wipond, op. cit., p. 9.
June 1, 1999
Editor, "Letters" Section
Reports of the National Center for Science Education
P.O. Box 9477
Berkeley, CA 94709
In the January/February issue of NCSE Reports (pp. 22-23), Troy Britain notes an apparent misrepresentation by me of Robert Carroll’s belief concerning transitional forms in the fossil record. I had quoted a statement by Professor Carroll in his textbook on vertebrate paleontology, and it was indeed quoted out of context.
The quote was as follows: "One of the outstanding problems in large-scale evolution has been the origin of major taxa, such as the tetrapods, birds and whales, that had appeared to rise suddenly, without any obvious answers, over a comparatively short period of time". Actually the quote included a typographical error ("answers" instead of "ancestors"), which I failed to catch in proofreading.
It gives me a small bit of comfort however, to note that Mr. Britain is also subject to error, quoting the statement in my quote as "appeared too suddenly, [sic]" instead of the correct "appeared to rise suddenly", as I had copied it (see my article "What They Say" in Acts & Facts for March).
More importantly, he is quite right that the quote was not in proper context, and I am sorry about this. The error, however, was not one of deception but of presumption. I did not actually have the 1997 edition of Carroll’s book at hand, but simply used the quote as I had received it from a constituent. I did try to check it, but the book was not yet in our ICR Library, and I finally just assumed it was o.k. and used it in my article. Carroll had made a number of similar comments about fossil gaps in an earlier book, so this seemed consistent. This assumption was wrong, however. This mistake on my part was probably no more justifiable than deliberate misrepresentation, so I must simply apologize.
Mr. Britain implied that he has been reading my "Back-to-Genesis" articles, so he would know that this article, and the two previous articles ("The Stardust Trail" and "All Spaced Out") contain a total of over 30 brief quotes from evolutionists. I assume the Carroll quote was the only one involving this kind of problem—otherwise Mr. Britain undoubtedly would have commented on them also.
I do try diligently to quote evolutionists accurately and in context, knowing that people like Mr. Britain are hoping to find just such errors. I am confident of the accuracy and proper use of almost all of the references in the approximately 3000 such quotes in my book That Their Words May be Used Against Them, to which Mr. Britain referred rather sarcastically. Unfortunately (and as much as I hate to admit it!) I am not infallible and do make mistakes. I always try to give the reference to any quote I use, so readers can check them for themselves if they wish. Mr. Britain did find such a mistake and I thank him for it.
Of course, none of this changes the fact that true transitional series between basic kinds are altogether absent in the fossil record, and that was the point I was trying to make. I could just as well have quoted Gould or Raup or many other paleontologists to the same effect. If evolution was really occurring on a major scale during the geological ages, Carroll and Britain and others should be able to cite hundreds of clear and unequivocal examples, instead of repeatedly pointing to such highly inadequate and speculative cases as the so-called reptile-to-bird and ungulate-to-whale transitions. But these imaginary transitional series are not in the fossil record because they never existed.
Henry M. Morris
Institute for Creation Research
* Dr. Morris is Founder and President Emeritus of ICR.