Problems with the Theory of Evolution: The Fossil Record

“The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, [must] be truly enormous.”-Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (emphasis mine)

Does the fossil record support the Theory of Evolution?

 `According to the theory of neo-Darwinian evolution (NDE), all life that we see today, and all of the extinct species that have been found in the fossil record, plants and animals alike, evolved from a “simple” single-celled organism (which itself evolved through chemical evolution through abiogenesis). This “simple” life-form is referred to as the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA). The problem seems to be, if this is actually the case, the glaring lack of transitional fossils in the fossil record. It would seem, intuitively, that given this paradigm, that the vast majority of fossils we find would be transitional, but this is not the case. (See the quote at the beginning of this article, and here are some more.) At the time, Darwin himself recognized the problem, and in fact, he considered it the strongest evidence weighing against his theory:

“Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory.”-Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

For instance, scientists claim that fish evolved into amphibians. How many “finely graduated” intermediate organisms would it take to bridge the gap from a true fish to a true quadrupedal amphibian, such as a salamander. Now, I’ll admit, evolutionary artists can paint a convincing picture…

If science imitated art…

…but these artistic pictures are not evidence, only speculation. Also, NDE (the modern synthesis) realizes that these changes have to take place at the molecular level in the cells, via mutation of the animal’s DNA. So although the picture above may look reasonable, it is woefully inadequate to explain the amount of changes necessary to transition from fish to amphibian. Where is the evidence for this unknowable number of transitional organisms? Keep in mind, the transition from fish to amphibian is just one of millions of transitions that have occurred according to Darwin’s theory (NDE).

Darwin rationalized his theory by claiming the fossil record was imperfect, hypothesizing that the intermediates didn’t get fossilized. Again, this seems to be counter-intuitive: if transitional organisms far outnumber those extant and extinct species that we find today and in the fossil record, it would seem that just in light of the law of averages that we would find more transitionals than not. To be fair, scientists have identified some fossils which some have deemed to be transitional (i.e. archaeopteryx, ambulocetus, acanthostega, tiktaalik) and perhaps in a future article we can look at some of these more closely. However, even with these fossils, the overwhelming majority of evidence weighs against Darwin’s idea of a “finely graduated organic chain.”

Darwin’s “incompleteness” hypothesis has since been discounted.

“The record jumps, and all the evidence shows that the record is real: the gaps we see reflect real events in life’s history — not the artifact of a poor fossil record.”-Eldredge, N. and Tattersall, I., The Myths of Human Evolution, pg. 59

The leading mechanism that seems to be favored to rescue Darwin’s theory is called “punctuated equilibrium.” Briefly, the claim is that species remain unchanged for long periods of time, known as stasis, and then suddenly and drastically change, perhaps due to a change in environment. Because the changes in the organisms happen so fast, the intermediates somehow escape being fossilized. There are problems with this type of evolution, but the main problem is that if NDE happens at the cellular level, as the theory predicts, then how does it happen as rapidly as proponents of punctuated equilibrium claim? The idea seems to contradict Darwin’s understanding of a “finely graduated organic chain.” Punctuated equilibrium seems to be a case of special pleading, where the changes required are too great for the way the general NDE theory is understood to work in the requisite amount of time, and the transitionals happen so quickly they escape fossilization.

The fossil record is just one area that shows weakness in the NDE theory. I hope to cover more in future articles.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.


Stephen Hawking and Haman; Kindred Spirits


He taketh the wise in their own craftiness…

Who is Stephen Hawking? A prominent physicist, very famous, referred to by some as a modern-day Einstein. Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous scientists in the area of cosmology. In his book, “The Grand Design”, Stephen Hawking writes:

“as recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch-paper and set the universe going.” (Emphasis mine)

Let me tell you a story about two fellows in the Bible named Haman and Mordecai. Their story can be found in the book of Esther, which is a really good read and doesn’t take much time, if you are so inclined. Haman had been promoted to a very high position in the king’s court, while Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, held some type of functionary position. Haman enjoyed having the people bow and scrape before him, but to his great displeasure Mordecai refused to do so.

And all the king’s servants, that were in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence. (Esther 3:2)

You would think that Haman would have been satisfied with his position and the respect he got from everyone save one old Jew, but of course he was not. He just couldn’t let it go.

Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all the things wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. (Esther 5:9-14)

That very night, by an amazing coincidence, the king couldn’t sleep a wink. So he had the royal chronicles brought to him and read them out of boredom. It happened that prior to all of these events, Mordecai had foiled an assassination attempt on the king’s life, but was never recognized or rewarded. So just about the time Haman comes be-bopping into his chambers to ask the king to hang Mordecai, the king asks him:

So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? (Esther 6:6)

So Haman, thinking the king wants to honor him, says:

…For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. (Esther 6:7-9)

It turns out the king thought this was a capital idea, and commanded Haman to do that very thing for Mordecai. Can you imagine Haman’s surprise when he found out the king was talking about Mordecai? Can you imagine how Haman felt as he led Mordecai through town to the adulation of the king’s subjects? Not only that, but Haman (and his family) ended up being hung on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai. This is known, in today’s parlance, as receiving “come-uppance.” There are, it turns out, some very applicable Bible teachings on this situation:

The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. (Palms 9:15-16) He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong. (Job 5:13)

Now, you are asking, what does all this have to do with Stephen Hawking? Here’s the thing: Stephen Hawking, by ruling out God as the creator of the universe, has wedded himself to “Scientific Determinism.” Simply put, everything that happens is the result of particles (atoms, molecules, etc.) interacting with physics. Just like a in long chain of dominoes falling, each individual domino falls in accordance with the physics of the previous domino striking it. The individual dominoes have no choice to stand or fall, nor can they choose where and how to fall. You, my friend, and I, are just dominoes in the line (according to Hawking).

“It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion. ” (Emphasis mine)

What are the consequences of this view? Well, here are a few. If Hawking is right, and it’s all just dominoes, then he had no choice to write his book, and had no control over the things he wrote. He has no way or even ability to know if the things he has written are true. Anything he wrote has no more meaning than if a monkey had banged it out on a typewriter. Do you think Stephen Hawking really believes that? I don’t believe it, and I don’t think Hawking does either. How about you, dear reader?

If Hawking is right, then I have no choice but to believe the way I do, just as he has none (and you either!). The people who bought his book were determined (by the laws of physics and chemistry) to do so. However, if he wrote the book because he made a choice to do so (an act of free will), then he has just negated what he has said in his book. Stephen Hawking has “hung” his book in a gallows he made to hang another (God, in this case).

He taketh the wise in their own craftiness…

Over all, it looks like Mr. Hawking needs to go back to the drawing board. Somehow he needs to come up with a model of the origin of the universe that allows for free will. I have an idea, Mr. Hawking… read the first chapter of Genesis.

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

P.S. Of course I realize that Stephen Hawking has forgotten more science than I will ever know. This article is not about knowledge of science, or intelligence, and is in no way meant to be derogatory to Mr. Hawking. At issue is his acceptance of Scientific Determinism. Let’s discuss that in your comments!

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