THE CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: ADDENDUM #1
I have continued to research this issue because I feel it is the most critical issue facing the Christian. Many Christians have tacitly accepted evolution as fact. A number of books have recently been written by present and former Christian ministers who have embraced evolution as the mechanism used by God to create the universe and all life. Some have embraced what is called Theistic Evolution. Christians who accept evolution as fact often fail to see the ramifications of such acceptance relative to Christian doctrine.
Evolution, as an explanation of origins, is not what we see taught in the Biblical Scriptures. The Biblical scriptures teach special creation by a powerful and intelligent creator God. The Christian theological system is based on a creationist perspective. The Genesis creation account is clearly used by the New Testament writers as a template for the doctrine of salvation. If evolution, as commonly taught, should turn out to be true, it would place into serious question the validity of Christian doctrinal teaching, including salvation theology.
It is with these concerns in mind that I continue to investigate the creation/evolution controversy. As is my practice, I will assume nothing and make every effort to carefully and objectively investigate the dynamics involved. I will begin by taking another look at the issue of speciation. Do species relate to the Genesis kinds? Is macroevolution the mechanism whereby species evolve and are continuing to evolve as evolutionists claim?
In parts five and nine of this series, the concept of speciation was discussed and it was shown that species are defined as organisms that freely interbreed and produce fertile offspring that are able to continue producing fertile offspring. Where organisms cannot interbreed or where interbreeding results in an organism that cannot produce fertile offspring or were such offspring revert back to one or the other of the two organisms interbreeding, it is believed the two organisms represent two different species.
We used the example of the horse and donkey. The horse and donkey are anatomically very much alike and yet are of two different species as determined by reproductive limitations. When a horse and donkey mate, they produce a mule and male mules are always sterile. In rare cases, female mules have produced colts provided they have been mated with a male donkey or horse. When a female mule is mated with a horse, her off-spring is anatomically like a horse and breeds like a horse. When a female mule is mated with a donkey, her off-spring is anatomically like a mule and breeds like a mule. In other words, the mule’s off-spring from mating with a donkey is the same as that produced by a horse and donkey mating. The mule is unable to pass on any donkey traits so for all practical purposes, the mule is a horse as to breeding ability. The mule is essential a naturally produced hybrid as opposed to a man made hybrid that results from intentionally mating separate species.
This kind of reproductive limitation is found throughout the plant and animal kingdom. Creationists argue that reproductive barriers prevent species from evolving into other species as by definition species are organisms that can freely interbreed to produce fertile organisms and where interbreeding results in sterile organisms a natural barrier is identified which prohibits expansion of the species. Therefore, many creationists believe species represent the kinds of the Genesis creation account and it is from these Genesis kinds that the great variety of plant and animal organisms has developed.
Evolutionists firmly believe species have and continue to evolve into new species. They do not see reproductive barriers limiting the evolution of one species into another. They see new varieties within species branching off and becoming new species.
The theory of evolution is based on development of organisms from a common ancestor. You have all seen pictures of the evolutionary tree. All life is believed to have begun with a single cell from which developed the vast array of organisms found in the fossil record and seen alive today. These organisms branched out into groupings of organisms represented as branches on a tree. Various branches represent common ancestors from which shoots develop into species and the twigs represent varieties within species which continue to branch out to the point where they become new species be virtue of becoming unable to any longer interbreed with other varieties that branched out from a particular species having a common ancestor. This is the process referred to as speciation.
Evolutionists believe they have identified millions of species in both the fossil record and alive today that have evolved through the speciation process. They belittle the idea that a creator created millions of species which equate to the Genesis kinds as recorded in the Genesis creation account. They further point out that no way could Noah take millions of species into the ark if species are indeed equated with the Genesis kinds.
Creationists, on the other hand, dispute the claim that millions of species exist and insist we are looking at varieties within species and not at species. Creationists show that evolutionists have not adequately discovered the extent of reproductive limitations between organisms. It’s pointed out that very little research is done to actually determine the extent to which varieties within a species can or cannot interbreed. It is asked, how many organisms are actually monitored as to the extent of their capacity to interbreed with other organisms in an effort to determine reproductive boundaries. It is believed by creationists that the designation of species is rather arbitrary and that in reality there are a lot fewer species than is believed based on the definition of a species being a classification of organisms that cannot interbreed with other organisms.
Some creationists believe the definition of the kinds of Genesis is more reflective of the biological designation of genus, family or even order or phylum. These are much broader classifications of life forms and are not strictly defined by reproductive limitations but by broad morphological characteristics of organisms. This approach allows for a much broader range of both plants and animals to be included in Genesis kinds. It would then be from these broadly defined kinds that all other organisms would develop over time, including species that would further develop reproductive barriers. It is believed these Genesis kinds were created to have inherent reproductive limitations when trying to interbreed with other kinds. Therefore, the kinds seen in the Genesis creation account are distinct classifications of organisms from which all other organisms within such classes have developed and continue to develop.
Creationists who take the approach of the Genesis kinds representing broad categories of organisms envision the tree of life to look more like a forest of many trees than a single tree. Each tree in the forest represents a Genesis kind from which many organisms branch out over time including reproductively limited species.
A new field of study within the creationist community has developed called Baraminology. The term Baraminology means the study of created kinds. It was coined from the Hebrew words "bara" (created) and "min" (kind). This group of creationists is attempting to examine the genetic sequencing found in organisms with the goal of developing a new classification for organisms based on genetic similarity. The use of genetic sequencing is becoming a major tool in the battle between creationists and evolutions as both sides are trying to use this tool to establish their position.
For creationists who believe the individual Genesis kinds are distinct classifications of created organisms from which all other organisms related to such classes have developed, species evolving into other species is not a problem. The Genesis kinds are seen as having the ability to develop into a great diversity of related organisms including organisms that eventually develop reproductive boundaries. This development of millions of organisms from the Genesis kinds is seen as occurring through genetic changes, environmental adaptation and natural selection. Therefore, this approach virtually accepts evolution as the mechanism responsible for the great variety of organisms found in the fossil record and those living today. This approach allows for the Genesis creation account to remain viable while at the same time accommodating the evolution position that millions of species have developed over time.
For the creationists who believe the Genesis kinds equate to species with their reproductive barriers, evolution of new species is seen as impossible. However, if it can be demonstrated that millions of new species have developed over time and are not limited to a single creation event as seen in the Genesis account, then this particular creationist position is problematical. What evidence do evolutionists have that shows species have gradually evolved over millions of years and that there have existed and presently exist millions of species?
IS THERE EVIDENCE FOR EVOLUTIONARY SPECIATION?
Evolution is seen as a continuous process where organisms gradually and incrementally evolve into other organisms over long periods of time. How, then, can evolution produce groupings of organisms that are discontinuous? How can plants and animals evolve into species that become separated by reproductive barriers? Darwin did not address this issue in his “Origin of the Species.” While he dealt with how species change over time through natural selection, he did not address how species change into other species.
Some have argued that identifying species is very arbitrary. Research is limited as to determining reproductive barriers. It is common to classify organisms as belonging to the same species based on having common characteristics. In many cases organisms having common characteristics freely interbreed and produce fertile offspring. With other organisms this is not the case. A horse and donkey share many common characteristics but do not produce fertile offspring.
It has been demonstrated that some organisms fail to interbreed, not because they can’t but because various factors discourage or prevent interbreeding. Such organisms have been shown to interbreed and produce fertile offspring when placed in an accommodating environment. Sometimes males and females are classified as being of two different species because they differ significantly in characteristics only to later find they are of the same species. Therefore, having or not having common characterizes is not always helpful in determining species.
Some animals have developed different mating habits or sex pheromones and don’t find one another attractive and therefore don’t mate. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are of two different species. Sometimes organisms, having similar characteristics, don’t mate because of different geographical location. This doesn’t mean they could not interbreed if given the opportunity. Plants can fail to interbreed, not because they can’t but because their pollinators are different. One variety of the monkey flower is pollinated by bumblebees and another by hummingbirds and rarely if ever interbreed. Are these different species or two different varieties within the same species that don’t regularly interbreed because of having different pollinators?
It is difficult to determine one species from another by simply observing their behavior in the wild. The only way to know for sure that one organism can’t breed with another organism or if such breeding will produce a hybrid is to make such determinations in a laboratory. Compared to the multiple millions of organisms extant, very few have been tested in this manner to determine their species status.
This being said, it must be noted that organisms as simple as fruit flies and mosquitoes have been shown in the lab to be of different species based on breeding experiments showing sterile male offspring, very limited female fertility and DNA sequencing that confirms they are different species. If different species can be identified among organisms as simple as fruit flies and mosquitoes, it would be reasonable to conclude that there may be millions of species extant in the world. If this is the case, it would appear unreasonable to conclude species relate to the Genesis kinds. It would be much more reasonable to conclude the Genesis kinds represent much broader classifications of organisms from which the many varieties and species of fossilized and living organisms have developed.
Using the language of evolutionists, the Genesis kinds would be the common ancestors to the development (evolution) of millions of organisms found in the fossil record and alive today. The only real difference between creationists and evolutionists under this viewpoint is that creationists would say God created the ancestors and evolutionists would say the ancestors all evolved from a single ancestor which was a primordial self replicating cell that appeared from a chance meeting of a certain number of amino acids many millions of years ago.
The problem with either of these views is that they both require the gradual development of organisms which in turn requires the presence in the fossil record of a great number of incremental, intermediate stages of development. This, however, is not what we see. There are not indisputable transitional life forms in the fossil record. By transitional forms are meant intermediate forms of life appearing in the fossil record that are "in-between" existing types of organisms found today or in the past. If slow, gradual evolution occurred, you would expect to observe a continuum of change in the fossil record. If life took millions of years to arrive at its' present state of development, the earth should be filled with fossil forms showing minor changes as species were evolving.
The opposite is true. When fossils are examined they are found to be fully developed organisms. The fossil record shows a rather sudden appearance of millions of fully developed organisms. This makes the evolutionist contention that organisms have gradually evolved over millions of years very problematical. The fossil record does not provide the necessary evidence of the gradual transition of one organism into another that evolution requires.
Evolutionists argue there are millions of intermediary forms of life that illustrate an evolutionary transition. According to evolutionary theory, all organisms are in transition. Therefore, a "transitional form" is a selected form that represents a particular evolutionary stage in the development of living organisms. Contemporary "transitional" forms may be called living fossils. Looking at life from this perspective makes all living things transition stages in the ongoing development of living organisms.
The problem with this approach is that it ignores the need to find incremental transitional life forms. For example, it is believe fish evolved into amphibians. This would presuppose a gradual development of fins into feet. If gradual development of fins into feet took place, where are the transitional stages in the fossil record? Where are the transitional forms showing a gradual development from fins to feet? There are no forms showing modified fins gradually becoming feet. Fish have small pelvic bones that are embedded in muscle and not connected to the backbone. Amphibians have large pelvises that are firmly connected to the vertebral column. Without this anatomy, the amphibian could not walk. There are no forms in the fossil record that show a gradual change from pelvic bones shifting from being embedded in muscle to being connected to the vertebral column.
Evolution postulates that flying organisms developed from land based organisms. Yet the structural changes that would be necessary to facilitate the development of wings and the ability to fly are not found in the fossil record. What we see in the fossil record are fully developed flying organisms. Therefore a gap exists between land based organisms and flying organisms. There are not any clearly definable intermediate stages. There should be millions.
Contrary to the impression given by evolutionary books and magazines, evidence of indisputable transition life forms is sparse. In his book “On the Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin wrote this:
The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, (must) be truly enormous. 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.
When we examine populations of living organisms, there are clear distinctions between various plants found in the plant kingdom and various animals found in the animal kingdom. This has allowed for them to be classified into taxonomic groups. These same distinctions are seen in the fossil record allowing fossilized organisms to be classified into taxonomic groups. Since evolution postulates an extremely slow and gradual transition of one organism into another, we should find clearly identifiable intermediate fossils that that can be classified into taxonomic groups. This, however, is not the case. The sheer absence of these transitional forms is virtual empirical evidence against a gradual incremental development of organisms.
There are over one hundred million identified and catalogued fossils currently found in museums around the world. There should be tons of transitional forms found in this massive amount of catalogued material. This, however, is not the case. Evolutionist Michael Denton writes:
It is still, as it was in Darwin's day, overwhelmingly true that the first representatives of all the major classes of organisms known to biology are already highly characteristic of their class when they make their initial appearance in the fossil record. This phenomenon is particularly obvious in the case of the invertebrate fossil record. At its first appearance in the ancient paleozoic seas, invertebrate life was already divided into practically all the major groups with which we are familiar today.
Noted anthropologist Edmund Ronald Leach stated: “Missing links in the sequence of fossil evidence were a worry to Darwin. He felt sure they would eventually turn up, but they are still missing and seem likely to remain so.”
The late evolutionary scientist and Harvard professor Stephen J. Gould once said:
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.
To deal with this problem, Gould came up with the concept of "punctuated equilibrium" which states that evolution may take place in small populations for short bursts of time before a plateau is reached. This means that transitional forms would be few in number because they only exist in small populations for small lengths of time. Since “punctuated equilibrium” has not been proven to account for the absence of intermediate fossils, this concept is of little value in resolving this issue. What complicates this issue is what is commonly referred to as the Cambrian Explosion.
THE CAMBRIAN EXPLOSION:
Cambrian explosion is a term that refers to the great quantity and diversity of invertebrate (lacking backbones) organisms found in what is called the Cambrian layer of the geologic column. The geologic column represents layers of different types of sedimentary rock that have been identified in various parts of the world. These layers have been divided into three major eras which have been further divided into twelve different periods. The Cambrian layer is at the base of this column and is considered part of the Paleozoic Era which relates to ‘ancient” life. The Cambrian layer is dated by scientists to be around 530 million years old and it is believed it took five to ten million years for it to develop.
The Cambrian layer has virtually every invertebrate phylum known to man. Phylum is a major taxonomic group into which animals are divided. All major invertebrate body designs, along with a tremendous variety of each design, exist in this layer. These invertebrates were largely organisms having hard shells and other parts that were able to be fossilized. There is no solid evidence in the Cambrian layer of any of these organisms gradually evolving. No indisputable transitional forms, which would link the different groups to a common ancestor, have been identified in the Cambrian. Lobopods found in the Cambrian (worms with leg like structures) are believed by some to represent a evolutionary transition from worms to arthropods. Such conclusions are problematical because the great majority of organisms found in the Cambrian are extinct. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to determine what is an evolutionary form versus a variety of a established body type that may have been created.
Layers of rock found below the Cambrian (Pre-Cambrian layer) have been found to contain evidence of multi-cellular life but very little in the way of fossil remains. What has been found does not provide any concrete answers as to why there is this sudden appearance of fully developed organisms in the Cambrian layer.
Evolutionist Richard Dawkins, in is book, The Blind Watchmaker, on page 229 wrote, We find many of them [Cambrian fossils] already in an advanced state of evolution, the very first time they appear. It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history. Needless to say, this appearance of sudden planting has delighted creationists.
Before we are able to discuss the Cambrian explosion in any meaningful manner we must first address the issue of the geologic column itself. How is the geologic column identified?
THE GEOLOGIC COLUMN:
A geologic column was identified by geologists long before evolutionary theory was introduced. Geologists noticed different layers of sedimentary rock stacked one upon another in various parts of the world. As fossils came to be identified in these layers of rock, ages were assigned to them based on their perceived complexity of development. Dates were then assigned to the layers of rock based on the assigned dates of the fossils found in such rocks. As various radiometric dating methods developed, these methods were used to test/confirm the dates previously arrived at.
It should be noted that locations where it is possible to see all twelve geologic periods represent less than 0.4% of the earth’s surface, or 1% if the ocean basins are excluded. Therefore, it is the exception, rather than the rule, to be able to assign all of the twelve periods to the sedimentary strata in any one location on the earth. Other areas of sedimentary stratification reveal bits and pieces of the geologic column
There are two main theories as to how these rock layers were formed. One is that they were formed in a slow and gradual uniform manner over millions of years and the other is they were formed in a short period of time due to a catastrophic event or several catastrophic events usually seen as a flood. Sedimentary rock layers are dated by radiometrically dating the igneous rock surrounding it and fossils found in such layers are dated by the dates assigned to the sedimentary layers and by a method called indexing. All this is discussed in detail in parts two and three of the original essays in this series.
The geologic column is divided into three major eras of evolutionary development. From bottom to top, the oldest era of fossil life is called Paleozoic meaning "ancient life". This is followed upward by the Mesozoic era meaning "middle life" and upward from this time frame is the Cenozoic era meaning "recent life". The Paleozoic period is further segmented into seven periods representing successively increased complexity of life forms. The Mesozoic and Cenozoic are likewise segmented into three and two periods respectively. A typical textbook rendering of the geologic column will be arranged in this manner and is generally explained to be from 100 up to 200 miles thick from bottom to top. In actual on site measurement however, the average thicknesses of identified geologic columns around the world are about one to 16 or so miles thick with the worldwide average being about one mile in thickness.
Since the original dating of stratum was based on estimated ages of fossils found in the stratum, it would appear the validity of such ages rests on the dependability of radiometric dating methods. Evolutionists believe such methods have validly confirmed the multimillion year dates of fossils and the strata in which they are found. If dating methods can demonstrate that sedimentary rocks and the fossils found in them become progressively younger as you move up the geologic column, it would appear to be a reasonable conclusion there has been a gradual development of life forms over millions of years.
The Cambrian explosion, however, creates a series dilemma for the evolutionary position that organisms have developed gradually over millions of years. The Cambrian shows millions of fully developed organisms suddenly appearing and becoming fossilized. There is little evidence of simple to complex in the Cambrian rock. Yet evolutionists believe the Cambrian layers took 5 to 10 million years to develop, a time period that should have shown a good measure of evolutionary development with evidence of clearly identifiable transitional forms. Many of the Cambrian invertebrates are now extinct. Yet their complex body types are apparent in modern organisms. This all indicates the Cambrian invertebrates are not simple primitive ancestors of today’s complex invertebrates but are complex organisms in their own right, with no trace of evolutionary ancestors.
Sudden fossilization can only occur as a result of rapid disposition of sedimentary material that entraps organisms before they have a chance to deteriorate. Fossilization does not occur slowly. The sudden fossilization of organisms in the Cambrian layer places into question the millions of years assigned to the development of the Cambrian layer. The evidence suggests rapid fossilization, not fossilization over millions of years. Fossilization is seen as the result of rapid disposition of sedimentary rock due to the action of water.
Could the Genesis flood be involved here? On the surface it would not appear to be so because the fossils found in the Cambrian layer are mainly invertebrates, organisms lacking back bones and having exoskeletons which are hard coverings outside the body. Vertebrates (organisms having back bones) are, at the moment, largely missing from the Cambrian. Vertebrates, however, are clearly identified as being created in the Genesis account (livestock, wild animals, etc.). So not only the Genesis flood but the creation account itself could be predated by the Cambrian explosion if it holds that mostly invertebrates are found in this layer and the geologic column is reflective of a gradual accumulation of simple to complex organisms over millions of years of evolutionary development.
It should be noted, however, that recent evidence has identified vertebrates to be present in the Cambrian rock along with the invertebrates. The remains of a fossilized fish were recently found in a Cambrian layer at Haikou, near Kunming, the regional capital of the Chinese province of Yunnan. Research by Chinese, British, French and Japanese scientists showed this was indeed a vertebrate. All the details of the animal’s head and backbone could be seen in the remains. Another fossilized fish was unearthed in Cambrian rock in another area of China and has been identified by the National Museum of Natural History in Paris as definitely a vertebrate.
If such discoveries of vertebrates in the Cambrian continue to be made, it could greatly expand the number of phylum identified in the Cambrian explosion to where most if not all of currently living organisms could trace their ancestry to this period of history. What is of great interest, and an apparent challenge to evolutionary theory, is that there are not found in the rock layers above the Cambrian any entirely new body plans of invertebrates that are not already seen in the Cambrian layer. If indeed the Cambrian is 530 million years old, evolution has not produced any significant change in the basic design of invertebrates in a half billion years. This flies in the face of what is expected of evolution.
The fact that the Cambrian layer does not show a simple to complex continuum of organism development, and the fact that layers above the Cambrian do not show development of new invertebrate body types, raises serious questions as to evolution being the mechanism whereby living organisms came to be. What do we find in the other eleven periods of geologic time as to evidence for evolutionary development? Do we find simple to complex in these layers?
The next layer up from the Cambrian is the Ordovician period. This layer of sedimentary rock contains some fossils similar to what is found in the Cambrian but here we see many more vertebrate organisms. As with the Cambrian, many of the organisms identified in the Ordovician are extinct. There is no distinct arrangement of simple to complex but there is a definite increase in complexity of structure seen in the Ordovician fossils as compared to the Cambrian. There is observable movement from less structurally complex to more structurally complex fossils as you move from the Cambrian to the Ordovician. Does such increase in structural complexity represent gradual evolutionary transition from simple to complex?
As we progress up the geologic column, we do see an increase in overall complexity in the structure of organisms. While organisms as simple as bacteria have complex structures, the overall increase in complexity of organisms is apparent as you move from the bottom to the top of the geologic column. Organisms in the higher geologic periods increase in number of complex parts and as a whole are more complex than organisms in the lower geologic periods.
Is such structural difference the result of fortuitous change through gradual evolutionary processes occurring over millions of years or are we looking at an original design of basic body plans from which great varieties of organisms have developed within such plans? The absence of distinct intermediate forms in the fossil record would lead one to believe organisms have developed within the parameters of an original creation of designed body plans. If this is true, however, the apparent movement from simple to complex in the geologic column becomes problematical as such movement suggests gradual development of body plans over millions of years.
On the other hand, if a great flood occurred as recorded in Genesis, the action of the water could very easily have created virtual mountains of deposits of suddenly killed organisms with the invertebrate marine organisms settling to the bottom and other organisms, including vertebrates of all types, being deposited in accumulating layers of stratum from lower to higher. Such disposition would reflect the ability of organisms to seek higher ground in their attempt to flee from the advancing waters. The ability of stratum to develop quickly has been clearly shown in research as discussed in part 3 of this series. If a great flood created the geologic column of fossilized organisms, this column does not represent millions of years of evolutionary development but reflects a catastrophe of mammoth proportions that buried millions of organisms in a short time frame.
As previously recorded in this series, the fossil record shows a mixed variety of buried organisms at all levels of sedimentary strata in addition to the predominance of “simple” to “complex” as you move upward from the Cambrian period of the Paleozoic era to the Pleistocene period of the Cenozoic era. The key consideration regarding the fossil record is how fossils are formed. Fossils are not formed gradually! Fossils can only be formed suddenly as the result of sudden death and subsequent sudden burial. The fossil record is a record of sudden burial in rapidly developing sediment which entrapped millions of organisms and permanently encased them as the sediment hardened into rock. Anything less than quick burial would allow for predators to eat the remains and scatter the bones and bacteria to reduce the bones and other hard body parts to their foundational elements.
Evolutionists claim radiometric dating has established the Cambrian to be millions of years old and therefore the fossils found throughout the Cambrian to be that old. Such dating is said to establish that fossils found in the Cambrian are much older than fossils found in the next layer up and fossils found in that layer are much older than the next layer up and so forth. The Cambrian layer shows the sudden fossilization of millions of organisms. If this was a gradual fossilization occurring over millions of years, there would have been the necessity of rapid disposition of sediment occurring on a virtually continuous basis over that period of time. The physical evidence shows a sudden disposition occurring during a short period of time.
Not only do evolutionists claim the Cambrian was formed over millions of years, but all successive layers of strata were formed over millions of years based on the dating of rocks wherein fossils are found. Here too, however, we have the same problem of fossilization taking place slowly over millions of years which is contrary to our knowledge as to how fossils form. So how is this dilemma resolved? Our knowledge of how fossils are formed is definitive. We know fossils are formed due to sudden death, sudden burial and sudden disposition of sediment. Go to http://www.fossils-facts-and-finds.com/fossil_formation.html for an explanation as to how fossils are formed.
We will continue this discussion in addendum #2