JW scientist banned from Institute's WebSite because of Creationistic Views
However, these assertions deny a host of counter-evidences showing that evolution didn't occur,
I feel like we've been here many times...
and cover up for a purely philosophical definition of science which excludes the possibility that there was an intelligent designing Creator a priori.
No, the scientific method does not rule out intelligent design a priori. It rules out intelligent design by mythical creatures such as fairies, unicorns, and undetected (and especially logically impossible) gods. If an intelligent designer was detected, then it would be science. To just make one up is not science.
I respect your non-answer. But you miss the point. The debate to our origins is not over. Is there a God? Who knows?
""To just make one up is not science.""
You mean like all the ape-human "finds" that have been exposed as fake? Do these count? If we use your standards, then your viewpoints can be discredited.
""A Distaste for Design
Indeed, there are many people out there who are convinced that evolution is a solid scientific theory, apart from any of its philosophical or theological implications. Most likely the textbook writers Wells reviews are not atheist followers of the church of Richard Dawkins, but rather are simply scientists trying to produce textbooks in line with mainstream scientific thought. However, the question must be asked, how is mainstream scientific thought so entrenched in evolutionary theory? As we have seen from Wells' work, it certainly is not because of the evidence. Most likely, the reasons can be seen in the sorts of objections which biologists give when discussing evolution's competing theory of origins--design.
Tamzek cites biologist Rudolph Raff arguing against design saying, "as the influence of the intelligent designer grows … the relationships between the phenomena and explanations becomes increasingly arbitrary … [until] one reaches a point where all biological features are 'special creations' and other explanations become unnecessary." 30 Raff does not want God, or teleology out of his life, Raff simply wants design and teleology out of science. In fact, design theorist William Dembski would see Raff's arguments as typifying the reasons for the exclusion of design from science:
"What has kept design outside the scientific mainstream these last 130 years is the absence of precise methods for distinguishing intelligently caused objects from unintelligently caused ones. For design to be a fruitful scientific theory, scientists have to be sure they can reliably determine whether something is designed. Johannes Kepler, for instance, thought the craters on the moon were intelligently designed by moon dwellers. We now know the craters were formed naturally. This fear of falsely attributing something to design only to have it overturned later has prevented design from entering science proper." 101 What would solve Raff's problem, however, would be a rigorous criteria which allows scientists to know when to detect and infer design, and when not to. If such a method could be found, then what is best explained naturally remains explained naturally, while what is best explained through design, becomes explained through design. As Dembski subsequently says, "[w]ith precise methods for discriminating intelligently from unintelligently caused objects, scientists are now able to avoid Kepler's mistake" 101 .
These methods for detecting design have been a subject of great controversy, as many claim they still are not rigorous, and produce false positives, false negatives, or come from false motives 102 . Dembski retorts that these problems can be solved 103 . Regardless of who is right, one thing is clear: it is often difficult to distinguish between the past action of natural processes, such as evolution, and the past action of non-natural processes, such as design. In fact, after seeing the anti-evolutionary evidence presented in this paper, one could just as easily argue that Raff commits his own mistake--improperly relegating all explanations to the natural realm, even when predictions from naturalistic theories are failing, adding epicycle after epicycle to preserve the naturalistic explanation.
Given the epistemological quandaries afflicting everyone from all sides of this issue, one has to wonder which arguments represent the middle road. Raff, and Tamzek, say it all belongs in the natural realm. In Icons, Wells says nothing about intelligent design, but simply claims that evidence for evolutionary theory is lacking, and shows many examples where predictions from evolutionary theory are not met in the scientific data. During Wells' talk at UCSD, Wells indicated he is willing to go with the evolutionary explanation if it is warranted by the evidence, he just doesn’t think it is. Dembski too is quite comfortable with evolutionary explanations, in fact during a talk at UCSD in 2001 he said, "as far as the Darwinian mechanism goes, blessings to it". Dembski would argue further that design, combined with evolution, is necessary and warranted to explain the origin of many biological features.
Thus it would seem that members of the "ID movement" are actually quite open minded and tolerant in the approach to the design-evolution issue, allowing for explanations to lie in both the natural and non-natural realms, or both the teleological and materialistic realms. In contrast, many scientists seem closed off to half of the issue: design. In being unwilling to try to sort out these epistemological quandaries, they leave all explanations of biological origins to the natural realm, be it the most accurate and fruitful course of investigation, or not. """"
Calm down, my man... take it easy What fake ape-human finds are you talking about? Are you referring to the ones that were discredited and exposed by scientists many decades ago or are you talking about recent finds?
Also, the stuff in your cut and paste job is all quite easy to refute. They are basically a bunch of non-arguments by people who don't understand the subject.
And why the long cut and pastes? I thought we had past that phase.
Hey, I am doing fine. Just asking fair questions.....
What is wrong with Cut and Paste? It would take too long to re-type it all. As such, your observation is not a reason to dis-credit the information.
The Fact of the matter is there is severe evidence lacking on many levels. You my friend, have much more faith than I do!
You really think you can rebut everything? You feel confident that the evidence confirms every aspect to the conclusion you hold? Good for you, but the reality is very different.
After reading all viewpoints, I feel the jury is still out........If that makes me a freak or dumb to you, then fine! Time will tell (hopefully).
thichi thichi thichi...venturing in a field you know even less about than history and politics...tsk tsk tsk
please do us all a favor and don'T post page long babbla about why evolution can'T work....just give us a summary ok!
first point from one of your posts:
the missing fossile record is a myth....there are more and more transitional forms discovered. just look at the hominid line....from primitive ape like creatures to humans...there are a dozen trasitional forms right there.
punctuated equilibrium...the guy who wrote the artivle doesn'T know what gould is suggesting. the theory is that as long as there are no environmental changes there won'T be a change in morphology since the organism is perfectly adapted to its current environment.
good examples are dingos (or any domesticated animal)...if you put them back in nature they will adapt a form that is perfect for the environment within a small number of generations. this perfect form will than exist for as long as there is no change in the environment.
second point...mechanisitc problems...that part is just total blabber...what is teh point he tires to make?
It is a common misperception that "natural selection" or "speciation" (macroevolution) are all there is to evolutionary theory. If "natural selection" or "speciation" are true, then somehow people assume that evolution works fine to explain everything. In fact, natural selection is only half of the mechanism behind evolutionary theory, and evidence for "speciation" often depends only on the definition of terms which biologists use.
pure bullshit rigth there. a species is very well defined. nobody is using fuzzy definitions!
Natural selection would still give us no answer to answer to the question "how did the different shades of moths originate in the first place?"
A good example is "Darwin's Finches" in the Galapagos Islands. Darwin found that different islands had different finch populations, and concluded that all the finches were descended from a single finch population which migrated to the Islands long ago. Because these finches live on different islands, they are "reproductively isolated" (a typical definition for a species), and we call them separate species. But have we really witnessed any radical evolution here? The differences between the finch "species" are almost trivial--the main difference lies only in slight changes in the size of their finch beaks, and the finches can still interbreed in captivity. Evidences like these do not tell us how important macrevolutionary transitions took place--such as the evolution of beaks, wings, feathers, or humans--in the first place. In fact, these testify that even after many many generations of reproductive isolation, populations tend to change very little, providing evidence against evolution of very different species.
the idiot who wrote that bullshit is contradicting himself in the same paragraph...the shades originate in the same manner the different peak form originate!
what does this moron want? the evidence from the fossile record is no good since the transitional forms are missing....here you have transitional forms so this is no good because they are just transitional forms and not different enough?
pure propagandistic BULLSHIT to mislead good hearted people like thichi who didnT' have the time to study this subject in detail.
the rest we can save for later.
I know its cut & Paste, but some really good points are made: Problems with the Purely Natural Explanations for the Origins of Life on earth
"Given so much time,
the "impossible" becomes possible,
The possible probable,
And the probable virtually certain,
One only has to wait:
Time itself performs the miracles."
(Wald, G. (1954), Scientific American)
"...we have now what we believe is strong evidence for life on Earth 3,800 thousand million years [ago]. This brings the theory for the Origin of Life on Earth down to a very narrow range ... we are now thinking, in geochemical terms, of instant life..."
(Ponnamperuma, C. from "Evolution from Space" (1981))
There are so many problems with purely natural explanations for the chemical origins of life on earth that many scientists have already abandoned all hopes that life had a natural origin on earth. These scientists include Francis Crick (solved the 3-dimensional structure of DNA 24 ) and Fred Hoyle (famous British cosmologist and mathematician), who, in an attempt to retain their atheistic worldviews, then propose outrageously untestable cosmological models or easily falsifiable extra-terrestrial-origins-of-life/panspermia scenarios 1 which still do not account for the natural origins of life. (Some of these models are discussed in our "Problems with Panspermia/E.T. Origins of life Scenarios" page.) We'll begin by looking at the current hypotheses attempting to explain the chemical origins of life on earth in naturalistic terms.
The dominating scientific paradigm for the chemical origins of life was derived over 70 years ago at a time when the popular cosmology held that the universe, and essentially the earth itself, were infinitely old 3 . Those trying to explain life in purely naturalistic terms liked having an infinite universe, for it made irrelevent any high improbabilities associated with the natural origins of life. As Hubert Yockey states, "even if life proves to be improbable, it will happen in such a[n infinite] universe." 3 In other words, given infinite time, infinite things are possible (perhaps even a valid atheism).
It was soon realized that the infinite universe was little more than wishful thinking. Einstein's general theory of relativity predicted that the universe must expand or contract if it contains any matter. 3 Thus, the universe must be finite both in size and age; not only did the universe have a beginning, but time is limited. Many cosmologists opposed these ideas because they wanted an infinite universe where life's natural origin wasn't improbable (and atheism was possible). Yockey notes that "[i]n spite of other successes of the general theory of relativity, the Big Bang, and in particular the idea that the universe had a beginning, was fought bitterly every step of the way" 3 . Eventually the math and a slew of astrophysical data wouldn't have it, and science accepted the finite, time-limited universe. Thus says the "Big Bang" theory: "time is limited". And thus says mathematics, chemistry, and physics: "the natural chemical origins of life is highly improbable (and so is a valid atheism)".
Disregarding commonly accepted cosmology and mathematics, researchers have still tried to explain the life's origin in naturalistic terms since the 1950's. Some experiments, namely the "Miller-Urey Experiments, have had some success. I want to note that it is a common, though given what many classes teach, forgiveable misconception that the natural chemical origins of life has been proven because experiments have created life in the lab***. This is mistaken, for not only has life nothing close to life ever been produced in lab experiments, but even if true life were one day created, it still wouldn't prove anything about what actually took place when the first life-forms came into existence. 2, 4 Events of the past, such as the origins of life, are ultimately untestable by science. Science can never absolutely prove anything regarding these matters and thus any belief, no matter how scientific one may think it to be, requires some measure of faith.
Science can, however, disprove hypotheses which are internally contradictory or go against the laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics, or geological evidence. Accordingly, a belief that life arose naturally on earth can be effectively disproven, to the point that anybody who chooses to believe in it can be shown to be holding great amounts of faith. At this point, one must ask the more personal and philosophical question, why?
***Please note: In my experience, the "Stanley Miller experiments" are often mistaken by those who have taken biology classes for such "lab-made life" or the proof of the origins of life. However these experiments (which will be discussed later in detail) produced nothing more than a few contrived chemicals and as will be seen, there are many scientific reasons saying the soup never existed. (i.e. the Miller-model would never work and the geochemical evidence points against the existence of the soup in the first place)Back up
The basic idea behind the chemical origins of life is that simple molecules became more complex molecules which eventually allowed the first auto-catalytic self-reproducing molecule to exist. Many would define the chemical origins of life as the existence of a single molecule that was not only able to replicate on its own, but could produce any molecules necessary to facilitate that replication. According to Stanley Miller, famous origins of life researcher, the chain of events looked something like this:
The touted sequence of events leading from a "random" explosion of matter and energy to DNA-based life. Please note, boldened terms will be discussed in the text.
Most origins of life researchers would generally agree with such a diagram, although some add "extraterrestrial input" in varying amounts somewhere along the line. For example, Stanley Miller believes extraterrestrial input (i.e. comets, asteroids, and random dust particles) contributed about 5% of the prebiotic organic molecules on earth 5 .
Pre-Biotic Synthesis and the "primordial soup":
In order to bake a cake, you first need all the ingredients. Pre-biotic synthesis is the means by which sufficient quantities of all the ingredients thought to be necessary for life's natural origin were formed. Many have called this collection of chemicals the "primordial soup". The questions we are going to ask are 1) Could the soup have even been produced? and 2) Is there any geological evidence that it ever existed?
1. Could the soup have ever been produced?
In the 1950's, Stanley Miller appeared to have found a way to make some of the ingredients of the soup by "zapping" a mixture of H 2 , HCN, H 2 O, CH 4 , CHO, and NH 3 gasses with an an electric spark. The first time Miller got nothing but brown tar but after more experiments he has obtained (albeit often in very small amounts) at least 19 of the 20 amino acids upon which life is built. Furthermore, it has been found that comets and carbonacous asteroids, which are thought to have been constantly bombarding the earth early in its history, can contain appreciable amounts of organic molecules. All this looks promising at first when trying to build up an ancient storehouse of pre-biotic organic chemicals.
However, the cake-baking analogy from above analogy now holds quite true! Just as a baker adds the proper ingredients to bake a cake, so the researchers designed their pre-biotic synthesis experiments in such a way as to get the sought-after organic molecules. Methane (CH 4 ) and ammonia (NH 3 ), were chosen not because they were actually thought to be a part of the early atmosphere but rather because they are essential to the production of the proper amino acids and gave the desired results. Even Stanley Miller admits that "[i]t is assumed that amino acids more complex than glycene were required for the origin of life, then these results indicate a need for CH 4 (methane) in the atmosphere" 7 . Whether or not these gasses actually simulated any real conditions on earth is a question they were far from asking. They just wanted to see if they could produce the right molecules using various contrived mixtures of gasses. Given the simple molecules they were trying to synthesize, these experiments are little more than simple exercises in organic chemistry and literally say nothing about the chemical origins of life.
"Miller-experiments" only work with gasses which would have formed a chemically reducing atmosphere (one with gasses which tend to lose electrons during chemical reactions). No free oxygen can be used in Miller experiments, however, in the absence of oxygen, there would be absolutely nothing to protect the pre-biotic chemicals from destruction by UV radiation, which is thought to have been 100 times stronger on the early earth than it is today 14 . Today, we all have heard that ozone in the atmosphere protects life from harmful UV radiation. However, ozone is composed of oxygen which is the very gas that Stanley Miller-type experiments avoided, for it prevents the synthesis of organic molecules like the ones obtained from the experiments!
Pre-biotic synthesis now finds itself in "damned if you do, damned if you don't" scenario:
1. Pre-biotic synthesis can only take place in a reducing atmosphere, but that very fact would guarantee the destruction of highly sensitive pre-biotic chemicals by UV rays.
2. You could protect the molecules with oxygen, but in doing so you'd eliminate any chance of their production in the first place. 8
The primordial soup cannot be dilute, but must be rich in amino acids and other organic molecules, allowing for many (nearly infinite) random chemical interactions to lessen the improbability of life's origin. Not only would UV radiation destroy any molecules that were made, but their own short lifespans would also greatly limit their numbers. For example, at 100ºC (boiling point of water), the half lives of the nucleic acids Adenine and Guanine are 1 year, Uracil is 12 years, and Cytozine is 19 days 8 (nucleic acids and other important proteins such as chlorophyl and hemoglobin have never been synthesized in origins-of-life type experiments 17 , but we'll forget about that for now). Such short-lived molecules could never be stockpiled, even if they could be produced naturally. For this reason, Miller proposed a cold origins of life (for at 0ºC their half-lives jump about 1 million years) even though at that temperature Ribose, a sugar which helps build DNA, has a half-life of 44 years 5 , and Cytozine a half life of 17,000 years 8 . The catch, once again, is that mathematical calculations based upon models for earth's formation say that back then the earth was an extremely hot place! Who eats cold soup anyways? This is another example where the conditions of the early earth are assumed because they are the only ones which allow for the chemical origins of life, not because there is any actual evidence for them.
The earth was hot because of the intense meteorite bombardment going on at that time. A significantly large impact would boil the oceans and would "reset the prebiotic clock, requiring prebiotic synthetic processes to begin again 8 " A conservative estimate is that a devastating impact might have happened as often as every 10 million years early in earth's early history, and that the window for the oriigns of life was on the order of about 10 million years 23 . Given the short half-lives of many organic molecules, millions of years may be necessary to create a pre-biotic soup. But is only 10 million years of build-up time(a high estimate) enough?
Another problem facing the soup is the fact that all biological organic molecules must somehow acquire the proper "handedness", known as "chirality." Amino acids can either exist in a "right-handed" form, or in the mirror image "left-handed" form. From the standpoint of doing chemistry, left-handed molecules are no different than right-handed ones. Yet, for some unknown reason, life uses only left-handed molecules amino acids. At what point did life begin to discriminate between right and left handed molecules? There is no known chemical reaction which "weeds out" the "right" from the "left" for all known chemical reactions produce more or less "racmic mixtures," of 1/2 right and 1/2 left handed molecules. As one scientist stated, "the basis for the origin of biomelecular chirality still remains obscure 9 ".
Oh yeah, and what about building a soup by comets and asteroids? This hypothesis has been refuted by many authors who have shown that organic carbon could not be delivered in large amounts to the early earth because it would be generally superheated and destroyed during impact 13 .
2. Is there any geochemical evidence that the soup ever existed?
There isn't a shred of geological evidence left in the rocks that a primordial soup ever existed. If there was ever a soup, the earliest precambrian rocks should contain high levels of non-biological carbon, for biologically produced carbon contains an excess of "isotopically light" carbon. Ancient sedimentary rocks, however, do not reveal this signature 10 , and thus there is no positive evidence for this soup.
There is also no evidence that the methane-ammonia atmosphere necessary for prebiotic synthesis ever existed 10, 11 . If if it had, then the rocks thought to be from that time period ougth to contain an "unusually large proportion of carbon or organic chemicals" 11 , which they do not 11 . It has also been shown that even a significant quantity of ammonia in the primitive atmosphere would have been destroyed within 30,000 years by UV rays 11 and methane within a few tens of years 16 . In fact, the geological evidence actually seems to point to a predominantly CO 2 atmosphere 11 , however "Miller-experiments" using CO 2 have produced no amino acids other than small quantities of Glycine 15 . Many have thought that the early atmosphere was produced by intense volcanic activity on the earth, but magma tends to release only N 2 , CO 2 , and H 2 gasses, not methane or ammonia 16 . Since the ammonia-methane atmosphere never existed, there is no way to create a soup. Some have even suggested that even if there was an ammonia-methane atmosphere, it wouldn't have produced a soup, but rather an oil slick perhaps up to 10 m thick 12 . If there was a 10 meter thick sludge of carbon enveloping the entire earth, where is the evidence of it? Some have claimed that there isn't any evidence for it becuase once life evolved, it consumed the entire prebiotic storehouse of molecules and left no trace of its existence. This convenient explanation fails, for rocks would have been formed on the earth during the time of the soup, but before the supposed origin of life, thus preserving a record of the primodial organics. There is no evidence, however, of these primordial organics.
So drastic is the evidence against pre-biotic synthesis, that in 1990 the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council recommended to scientists a "reexamination of biological monomer synthesis under primintive Earthlike environments, as revealed in current models of the early Earth" 16 .
Many speculate that given a primordial soup, the chemical origins of life does not seem quote so improbable. However, it would appear that the existence of the primordial soup itself may have been greatly improbable. For as second, let's reason like the scientists do: The primordial soup seems necessary for life's natural origin, life evolved naturally, therefore the primordial soup must have existed! Unfortunately, the converse is also true. If the primordial soup is necessary for life's origin, but the soup didn't exist, than life didn't arise naturally. Assuming, for a second, that the primordial soup did come to exist, we are now ready to analyze the second major step in the chemical origins of life: could the molecules in the soup have come together to make larger, more complex molecules.
Polymerization is the process by which "monomers" (simple organic molecules) form covalent bonds with one another to produce "polymers" (complex organic molecules). Monomersare thought be the constituents of the pre-biotic soup (amino acids, sugars, lipids, simple carbohydrates, nucleic acids), but polymers are chains--often very long chains--of monomers (fats, complex carbohydrates, phospholipids). This step is basically the method by which you get bigger molecules from the smallest molecules.
To help, here's a little analogy which might give some understandingof the types of structures we're dealing with here: monomers are like theletters, polymers are the words, biochemical pathways are the sentences,cells are the paragraphs, biological systems are the chapters, and theorganism is the whole book! The only difference? Polymers are like wordswhich are thousands of letters long.
The main problem with "polymerization" is that it requires dehydrationsynthesis. Most origins of life researchers have postulated that lifearose in a pre-biotic soup, which was an aqueous solution of pre-bioticmonomers. However, the chemical reactions which create polymers also createa water molecule. According to Le Chateliers Principle, one of the basiclaws of chemistry, the presence of a product (in this case, water) willslow the reaction. If one tries to polymerize monomers into polymers inan aqueous solution (one where water is the solvent), it not possible toobtain any appreciable amount. The bottom line, the polymerization stepin the chemical origins of life could never take place in water.
Many have proposed alternatives to get around this stumbling block.Since polymerization reactions also require an input of energy, heatingand drying has been theorized to input energy, and remove the water. However,this heating and drying has to take place in such a way as to not wipeout the created polymers. Some theorized locations for this reaction havebeen intertidal pools where repeated cycles of heating and drying can takeplace. The only problem? Well, you don't just have to remove some of thewater, you have to remove all of it! Even under ideal laboratory conditionsusing pure monomers and carefully measured heating and drying cycles, onlysmall polymers have been created. But of course, wouldn't they? These experimentsare designed to produce the product, and often in no way simulate possiblenatural conditions.
Pre-RNA World, RNA World, DNA/Protein World.
Many researchers have hypothesized that once polymers somehow formed, some of them came together to form the first self-replicating molecules. Somewhere within this step--the Pre-RNA world--the true origins-of-life occurred. However, nothing even close to a complete scenario by which polymers can naturally form a self-replicating molecule has ever been put forth.
A few self-replicating molecules have been created in the lab (i.e. in thoughtful and carefully-designed experiments). Some like the "PNA" (phospho-nucleic acid) hypothesis for the pre-RNA world, as a phosphorous based molecule has been designed and can self-replicate. Could phosphorous, though thought to have been in very low abundance in the early earth, have done the job? While it's a nice idea, no scenarios have been put forth as to how the PNA turned into RNA, or how PNA came into existence naturally in the first place!
Another researcher created AATE (amino-adenosine triacid ester) which, when dissolved in chloroform, can act as a template for creating new AATE molecules 20 . According to Jonathan Safarti, this system is irrelevant to the origins of life because of its information content:
"This system [AATE] carries very little information, in contrast to even the simplest cell. Mycoplasma gentalium has the smallest known genome of any living organism, which contains 482 genes comprising 580,000 bases. This organism is an obligate parasite. A free-living organism would need many more genes." 19
Safarti 19 goes on to point out that this molecule only replicates in chloroform solution, a highly natural condition, and that when it does replicate, it does so very accurately--too accurately for a Darwinian mutation-selection mechanism to operate.
A final lab-produced self-replicating molecule is GCN4, which does replicate in water, and does catalyze its own replication 21 . The molecule only replicates under a specific 15 or 17-unit "peptide code" of amino acids. This experiment has been hailed as brilliant by many and it is also testable as a precursor to life! Given the existence of an aqueous sea of amino acids which are somehow defying chemical laws to form long chains, the chances of properly forming the proper 15-unit self-replicating peptide in a given reaction are one in 3 X 10 9 . 19 When and how chirality could have been acquired and why this 20-amino-acid-based replicator could switch to a completely different 4-nucleic-acid-based replicator, such as RNA or DNA, are questions that also remains unanswered. Did it pass the test?
These purely speculative scenarios aren't bad on their own merits, but they are just another reminder of the philosophical presupposition driving this research in the first place: naturalism. Only when scientists assume there must be a natural explanation do they turn to completely unfalsifiable unverifiable and incomplete speculatory hypotheses.
The theory then says that some unknown precurser of RNA turned into RNA through an unkown process. This "RNA-world hypothesis" states that life then arose from a population of self-replicating RNA molecules. RNA is a sister molecule to DNA, used when DNA breaks up to create proteins or replicate. Like a copy from the library, RNA has a complementary code to DNA and goes out to do the dirty work. A few types of RNA have been known to have auto-catalytic self-replicating abilities, however this scenario inevitably encounters a chicken and egg problem 18 .
Stanley Miller once said at a talk I visited, "making compounds and making life are two different things. 5 " This is quite true, for life, by definition, must have the ability to self-replicate--a process requiring many enzymes and genetic biochemical molecules. But these molecules must be encapsulated within a "cell wall structure" or a small protective enclosure from the outside world. But, the protective cell requires replicating genetic machinery to be created. Thus, we now have a "chicken and egg scenario"--which came first? the self-replicating machinery (which needs a cell to operate), or the cell itself, which protects (and is created by) the cellular machinery? The answer is neither came first for both are required for self-replication. How could self-replicating RNA arise naturally when it essentially is an irreducibly complex system that cannot functionally replicate without other distinct components.
Somewhere along the line, RNA is then said to have turned into DNA, which is main genetic molecule in all life today. How did this happen? The answer is that nobody has a clue. I realize that it is a common tactic, when one doesn't really fully understand a subject, to simply quote an expert in order to legitimate a claim. Well, that's why I'm gonna quote one here. John Maynard Smith, emereritus professor of biology at the University of Sussex says, in his book, "The Major Transitions in Evolution":
"The origin of the [DNA based genetic] code is perhaps the most perplexing problem in evolutionary biology. The existing translational machinery is at the same time so complex, so universal) and so essential that it is hard to see how it could have come into existences or how life could have existed without it. The discovery of ribozymes has made it easier to imagine an answer to the second of these questions, but the transformation of an 'RNA world' into one in which catalysis is performed by proteins, and nucleic acids specialize in the transmission of information [a "DNA World"], remains a formidable problem." 22
It is safe to say that every step along the way, the natural chemical origins of life has insurmountable mountains to climb. Now that some of the scientific problems facing origins of life scenarios have been discussed, this is a good point to analyze some of the proposed locations for the origins of life given the previously discussed problems:
- 1. Deep sea thermal vents
>Deep sea thermal vents may provide the heat necessary for some reactions, but are obviously in water and therefore could not allow for polymerization through dehydration synthesis. Furthermore, organic compounds would quickly decompose if exposed to the high heat of deep sea thermal vents.
If you take a class discussing the "origins of life", you'll commonly hear the deep sea thermal vents proposed as a good location for the origins of life because they might house certain anaerobic high-temperature bacteria which are though to be ancient on planet earth. Don't buy it: the natural chemical origins of life could most likely not occur naturally anywhere, but definitely could not occur in a deep sea thermal vent environment.
2. Tide pools (or somewhere in the intertidal zone)
Tide pools and the surrounding area would still be readly exposed to at least minor amounts of water, which would greatly inhibit dehydrationsynthesis. Experiments which have mimicked optimal heating and drying conditionsnear tide pools still have only created small to modest polymers.
Even if the necessary polymers could be produced, because they now exist outside of water there will not be a high rate of random chemical interactions. One of the reasons that the primordial soup was hypothesized is because in such an aqueous environment, there would be a very high rate of random chemical interaction. In other words, if you were a molecule in the soup, you'd always be bumping into new neighbors. This constant "random bumping" would admittedly greatly increase the odds that many organic molecular reactions could take place. However, since the polymerization step can't take place in water, the number of random chemical interactions would be almost infinitely reduced. Instead of trying to make life in a liquid environment, you're now trying to make it in a more solid goo, which is much less congenial to random chemical interactions. How could life originate if the proper molecules have such a small chance of even finding each other?
However, this may not even be a necessary argument because, again, experimentalevidence suggests that the types of large polymers necessary for the originsof life would be difficult, if not impossible to create under even perfecttide pool-like conditions.
The ocean is composed of water. Water prevents polymerization becausepolymerization cannot take place in the presence of water. According to Le Chateliers principle, reactions do not take place when large quantities of the product are already present. Thus, polymerization necessary to build the large organic molecules involved in life's processes cannot take place naturally in the ocean, as the presence of water inhibits such reactions. Furthermore, any pre-biotic soup would be highly diluted in any ocean environment. The reactions producing pre-biotic chemicals would have to occur at an almost unthinkably high rate in order to overcome the high natural degradation rate and build up in an oceanic aqueous solution to the point where they would have the many random chemical interactions necessary to reduce the odds against the origins of life. Creating a viable primordial soup in an ocean is almost unthinkable.
4. Volcanic Ridges
The ridge hypothesis escapes the problem of water as it would allowfor heating and drying of the organic molecules. However in turn it hasthe problem of how the organic molecules would get there in the first place.The primordial soup is hypothesized to be an aqueous solution of monomers.So, water has to bring the monomers there in the first place (perhaps the ridgewas located near the shore of a continent or an island). However, if the watercan get there once it probably could easily return and end dehydration synthesis.
If the primordial soup did somehow splash on a volcanic ridge, and thendried out, then the synthesis of some polymers might be possible. However,this scenario is no different from the tide-pool, and thus it encounters thesame experimental problems. Even if dry monomers could exist in high concentrationsunder perfect temperature conditions (as is done in experiments), experimental evidencesuggests that the resulting polymers are still too small to allow for thenext steps in the origins of life. Also like the tide-pool, the resulting "goo" in which any polymers would exist would be a more solid substance, greatly inhibiting the high rates of random chemical contact necessary to increase the odds of the origins of life. Furthermore, volcanic ridges also facethe same problems as deep sea thermal vents as they are usually very hot and could easily destroyany organic molecules through high amounts of heat.
5. Clay surfaces
This theory was first proposed about 1400 B.C. by Moses in the bookof Genesis. Moses proposed that God created man out of dust, or clay. Thetheory has also enjoyed a new twist in the 20th century as A. Graham Cairns-Smith,hypothesized that clay crystals could have acted as a template which couldallow for the continued creation and replication of organic material. Hypotheticallythis scenario could create a wide variety of organic molecules, howeverit lacks any experimental evidence. As there are no experiments, thereare no results to judge and no practical problems encountered.
6. Extra-terrestrial Origin
Before critiquing the evidence of extra-terrestrial origin for life,let us consider the reasons it has been proposed. Many have consideredthe possibility of an extra-terrestrial origin of life because, scientificallyspeaking, they did not believe that the origin of life could have beenon earth. Some of these reasons include those which have alreadybeen discussed. However, given the naturalistic philosophy of science,they began to look elsewhere.
Mars was an initial alternative, but it is now considered highly improbablethat life on Mars could somehow travel to earth without destroying thelife. Others have looked at comets and meteorites, which are knownto have high concentrations of organic material (higher than on the earlyearth) as possibilities. Of course, comets experience extreme temperatures, as theyoften travel into the cold depths of space, and then heat up tremendouslyas they accelerate close to the sun. They also are commonly rich in water, which causesmajor problems for polymerization. Yet, while comets are always a possiblelocation, very little is known about their specific make-up or conditions. Meteorites also experience extreme temperatures, especially as they enterthe earth's atmosphere! Such "atmospheric-entry" temperatures would undoubtedlydestroy any organic molecules. What it really comes down to is most hypothesesfor the extra-terrestrial origins of life are at this time unfalsifiable. The question thus remains, "why are these hypotheses promoted as true science?" Perhaps it is because a philosophy of naturalism is driving science tofind natural explanations for all known phenomena regardless of the evidence,or lack thereof.
While it is never wrong to speculate or wonder, science is aboutthe provable and the unprovable. If a theory is unfalsifiableand clearly promoted because of a philosophy, that perhaps that theoryis not fit for science. Still unsure? Try answering these questions:If there were no philosophy of naturalism, would these hypotheses even be promoted? Are these theoriesthe logical extrapolations of compelling evidence, or an attempt to validatea more general philosophy stating that there must be natural explanations for everything?
A great example of an unfalsifiable naturalistic theory is the "multi-verse" hypothesis. Many have recognizedthat the physical properties of the universe are very friendly to the existenceof life. While some have cited this as evidence of a Creator (for an example, seeHugh Ross's: Evidencefor Design of the Cosmos), others hypothesized that this universe isone of infinite universes, and ours just happens to have the correct formulas for life. This universe was in a sense "naturaly selected"to contain life. The "multi-verse" hypothesis was clearly guided by a naturalistic philosophy, as it is completely unfalsifiable, and there is no evidence either way. It is nothing more than an attempt to explain things naturally.While many scientists would not even seriously consider this hypothesis to be science because of its untestable nature, the question remains, "what of other untestable hypotheses?" The completely natural explanation for the origins of life is in a sense unfalsibiable for it makes only one prediction: that life came to exist! However, in acourt of law, this is called "circumstantial evidence", for other competing theories are equally validated by the same evidence, and we are meant to infer the natural origins from this singlepiece of evidence. Of course, that inference is grounded in philosophy.
As we have attempted to demonstrate, many of the origins of life scenarios are falsifiable, and, given the evidence, are most likely false. Other theories are completely unfalsifiable, exposing the fact that they are only promoted due to philosphy, not scientific evidence. Despite all this, the natural chemical origins of life on earth is still taught, researched, and funded by the government as if it were a legitimate scientific enterprise. All this is owed to the naturalistic philosophy of science 2 , and what I think is a little too much late-night science fiction reading. However, even the staunchest evolutionists will usually admit that no one is even close to explaining how DNA-based life could arise from nonliving materials, and when pressed, do not usually try to impose their views regarding the origins of life upon the "unbeliever." One wonders, then, why almost every high school textbook and introductory college biology class teaches that the natural chemical origins of life took place about 3-4 billion years ago in, as Charles Darwin first said, some "warm little pond".
It is clear that science is working against great odds in order to naturalistically explain the chemical evolution of life. The question cannot help but be asked, "Is the natural chemical origins of life really a scientific fact? And if it isn't, why is it taught, pursued, and funded as if it were? Further Links:
• Problems with an Evolutionary Explanation for the Fossil Record
• Problems with Panspermia or Extraterrestrial (E.T.) Origins of life Scenarios
• On to Information Theory: Finding the Immaterial (i.e. non-natural) Properties of life
• The Science Behind Intelligent Design
• Transcript from the IDEA miracle sharing meeting
• Evidence of the Design of the universe through Anthropic Principles
Back to the Intelligent Design Theory Resources Main Menu Page
1. Life Itself, by Francis Crick (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981) and Directed Panspermia by F. H. C Crick and L. E. Orgel, Icarus 19:341-346 (1973)
2. "it is the job of science to provide plausible natural explanations for natural phenomena"
(Science and Creationism, a view from the National Academy of Sciences (2nd edition), Nat Acad Press, 1999. Pg. 20. At "http://books.nap.edu/html/creationism/")
3. Information Theory and Molecular Biology. Hubert P. Yockey, 1992, Cambridge University Press. The reader is encouraged to check out chapters 8-10 for a good discussion of the problems with the natural chemical origins of life. This book is available from the UCSD Libraries.
4. "Creationists have looked forward to the day when science may actually create a "living" thing from simple chemicals. They claim, and rightly so, that even if such a man-made life form could be created, this would not prove that natural life forms were developed by a similar chemical evolutionary process. The scientist understands this and plods on testingtheories."
(Stansfield, William D. [Professor of Biological Sciences, California Polytechnic State University], "The Science of Evolution," , Macmillan: New York NY, 1983, Eighth Printing, pp10-11)
5. Statments made by Stanley Miller at a talk given by him for a UCSD Origins of Life seminar class on January 19, 1999 (the talk was attended and notated by the author of this article).
6. Overman, Dean L. "Case against Accident and Self-Organization" (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1997) The reader is encouraged to read Parts III and IV for a good non-technical discussion of problems facing the natural chemical origins of life.
7. Stanley Miller as quoted in Origins: A skeptics guide to the Creation of Life on Earth by Robert Shapiro (New York: Sion and Schuster, Summit Books, 1986), pg. 112.
8. Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler and Adler, 1985), pg. 261).
8. Levy, Matthew and Stanley Miller. The Stability of the RNA bases: Implications for the origin of life. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, USA (Vol. 95, pg. 7933-7938).Darwin, Charles (1898). The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol II, p. 202. New York: D. Appleton.
9. Bonner, William A. "Origin and Amplifications of Biomolecular Chirality"
10. Schopf, J. William in Exobiology (edited by Cyril Ponnamperuma), North-Holland Publishing Company: Amsterdam-London, 1972 in the Precambrian paleobiology chapter, Pg. 27.
11. Abelson, Philip H. "Chemical Events on the Primitive Earth," from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Vol 55 Pg. 1365-1372 (1966).
12. Lasaga, Antonio, H. D. Holland, M. J. Dwyer. "Primordial Oil Slick". Science vol 174, Oct 4, 1971 pg. 53-55.
13. Anders, Edward. "Pre-biotic organic matter from comets and asteroids." Nature, Vol 342, November 16, 1989 pg. 255-257.
14. Canuto V. M., Levine, J. S., Augustsson, T. R., Imhoff, C. L., Giampapa, M. S. "The young Sun and the atmosphere and photochemistry of the early Earth". Nature Vol 305, September 22, 1983, pg. 281-286.
15. Schlesinger, Gordon and Stanley. L Miller. "Prebiotic Synthesis in Atmospheres Containing CH 4 , CO, and CO 2 ." Journal of Molecular Evolution, Vol 19 pg. 376-382 (1983).
16. The Search for Life's Origins. National Research Council Space tudies Board, National Academy Press: Washington D.C., 1990, pg. 66, 67, 126)
17. Brooks J., "Origins of Life," Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, p.87
18. Vaneechoutte, M., The scientific origin of life. Considerations on the evolution of information, leading to an alternative proposal for explaining the origin of the cell, a semantically closed system. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 901, 139,2000.
19. Safarti, Jonathan. "Self-Replicating Enzymes?" Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 11(1):4-6, 997. Also available at fix this!!!
20. Tjivikua, T., Balester, P. and Rebek, J., Jr., 1990. A Self-Replicating System. J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 112(3):1249-50.
21. Lee, D. H., Granja, J. R., Martinez, J. A., Severin, K., and Ghadiri, M., R., 1996. A self-replicating peptide. Nature 382:525-528 ...also see Nature 382:496-497.
22. Maynard Smith, John [Emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex] & Szathmary, Eors [Institute for Advanced Study, Budapest, "The Major Transitions in Evolution," W.H. Freeman: Oxford UK, 1995, p.81
23. Lazcano, A., 1997. The tempo and modes of prebiotic evolution. In: Cosmovici, C.B., Bowyer, S., Wertheimer, D. Eds. , Astronomical and Biochemical Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe. Editrice Compositori, pp. 419430.
24. J. D. Watson, F. H. C. Crick, Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids; A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, Nature, 2 April 1953, VOL 171, page737 . Note also: Crick got the x-ray diffraction pattern of a double helix by shining x-rays through crystallized DNA but even then very little was known about DNA. Crick wasn't sure if the genetic information was carried in the DNA or in the proteins. DNA seemed to be an unlikely candidate since it had only 4 nucleotides, but the DNA was ubiquitiously in every living cell, so they knew it meant something. They also weren't sure if the nucleotides pointed outward or inward--or did the did the phosphate backbone point inward or outward. They knew it was a polynucleic acid, but didn't know exactly what exact structure of the full chain was. They took got the x-ray pattern and knew that it was helical, and therefore the bases had to point inward towards each other. But what's amazing about Watson and Crick made all the right predictions--they predicted that DNA would be the perfect genetic molecule, because they saw from the way the nucleotides were oriented that you could easily replicate the DNA, carry information, even allow for mutations, and do everything you would expect a genetic molecule to do. On a personal note, Lyle Jensen, grandfather of IDEA Club founder Kirk Jensen, is a creationist and a member of the AAAS. Kirk's grandpa took the same x-ray pictures as Crick and Watson and made the exact calculations to get the bonding angles, atom positions, and stacking positions of the oligomeric nucleotide bases etc., and really nailed down the exact structure of DNA. Lyle Jensen used something similar to the14 base-pair strand that Crick used, but developed better mathematical techniques so he was able to take diffraction patterns and bypass many of the mathematical problems people had previously encountered regarding the exact structure of crystalline DNA.
"thichi thichi thichi...venturing in a field you know even less about than history and politics...tsk tsk tsk """
Your insults are very telling. You can pontificate anything you want, I only offer another viewpoint that deserves some attention. And dispite what you say, good points are raised.
Your speaking in absolutes is distressing. I am very surprised that you have not blamed "ID" on the Zionists!
Fossils? Ha! Lets look at what your "Experts" say:
"Not one change of species into another is on record ... we cannot prove that a single species has been changed."
(Charles Darwin, My Life & Letters)
"..why, if species have descneded from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?" "... 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."
(Darwin, C. (1859) The Origin of Species (Reprint of the first edition) Avenel Books, Crown Publishers, New York, 1979, p. 292)
"In most people's minds, fossils and Evolution go hand in hand. In reality, fossils are a great embarrassment to Evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of Creation. If Evolution were true, we should find literally millions of fossils that show how one kind of life slowly and gradually changed to another kind of life. But missing links are the trade secret, in a sense, of paleontology. The point is, the links are still missing. What we really find are gaps that sharpen up the boundaries between kinds. It's those gaps which provide us with the evidence of Creation of separate kinds. As a matter of fact, there are gaps between each of the major kinds of plants and animals. Transition forms are missing by the millions. What we do find are separate and complex kinds, pointing to Creation."
(Dr Gary Parker Biologist/paleontologist and former ardent Evolutionist.)
"Many species remain virtually unchanged for millions of years, then suddenly disappear to be replaced by a quite different, but related, form. Moreover, most major groups of animals appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed, and with no fossils yet discovered that form a transition from their parent group. Thus, it has seldom been possible to piece together ancestor-dependent sequences from the fossil record that show gradual, smooth transitions between species."
(Hickman, C.P. [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Washington and Lee University in Lexington], L.S. Roberts [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Texas Tech University], and F.M. Hickman. 1988. Integrated Principles of Zoology. Times Mirror/Moseby College Publishing, St. Louis, MO. 939 pp.; (pg. 866))
"When we view Darwinian gradualism on a geological timescale, we may expect to find in the fossil record a long series of intermediate forms connecting phenotypes of ancestral and descendant populations. This predicted pattern is called phyletic gradualism. Darwin recognized that phyletic gradualism is not often revealed by the fossil record. Studies conducted since Darwin’’s time likewise have failed to produce the continuous series of fossils predicted by phyletic gradualism. Is the theory of gradualism therefore refuted? Darwin and others claim that it is not, because the fossil record is too imperfect to preserve transitional series...Others have argued, however, that the abrupt origins and extinctions of species in the fossil record force us to conclude that phyletic gradualism is rare. "
"A number of contemporary biologists, however, favor various hypotheses of the punctuated equilibrium theory...They base their hypotheses on fossil records which have large ""chains"" of missing organisms. Although missing-link fossils are occasionally discovered, the record does little to support Darwin’’s concept of gradual, long-term change...Others opposed to hypotheses of evolution through sudden change argue that because such a tiny percentage of organisms becomes fossilized...drawing definite conclusions from fossil evidence about evolution through either gradual or sudden change is not warranted." (Hickman, C.P. [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Washington and Lee University in Lexington], L.S. Roberts [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Texas Tech University], and A. Larson. 2000. Animal Diversity. McGraw Hill, NY. 429pp.; (p. 23, 261))
"The fossil record has always been a problem." (Montgomery Slatkin, editor 'Exploring Evolutionary Biology", American Scientist book, 1994)
"evolutionary theory deals with biology in the present, and uniformitarianism permits the use of present processes to explain past events. THe concept of uniformitarianism does not enter the picture until the attempt is made to use evolutionary theory (biological present) to explain the fossil record (paleobiological past). Contrary to what most scientists write, the fossil record does not support the Darwinian theory of evolution because it is this theory (there are several) which we use to interpret the fossil record. By doing so we are guilty of circular reasoning if we then say the fossil record supports this theory. When an effort is made to explain the fossil record (whether it be taxonomic differences or changes in response to ecological factors) in terms of Darwinian evolution the concept of uniformitarianism is essential, for it alows us to use the present to explain the past. This should be its main purpose, to allow us to reconstruct the past on the basis of a theory or theories founded on nonhistoric events."(Ronald R. West, PhD (paleoecology and geology), Assistant Professor of Paleobiology at Kansas State University, Paleoecology and uniformitarianism". Compass, vol. 45, May 1968, p. 216. Note: IDEA would like to kindly thank Dr. West for providing us with a copy of his original paper which showed that this quote, if taken out of context, could be construed to mean something very different than its originally intended meaning. As noted in our quote disclaimer and explanation page , we make no official implications on our quote pages of any given quote. However, for those interested, it should be noted that this quote is discussing Darwinian evolution from a philosophical standpoint, saying that proof of the Darwinian mechanism must lie in the present, and that then it should be applied to the historic record. For this reason, Dr. West argues, the fossil record cannot in principle support the Darwinian mechanism. However, if certain fragments of Dr. Wests article were taken by themselves, those fragments might seem to have a very different meaning than the one implied by Dr. West in his actual article. This is a good example of why quotes should always be checked to their original source and context whenever using them in any official format!)
"The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution."(Stephen J. Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), 'Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?' Paleobiology, vol 6(1), January 1980, pg 127)
"None of five museum officials could offer a single example of a transitional series of fossilised organisms that would document the transformation of one basically different type to another."(Luther Sunderland, science researcher)
"It is sometimes suggested that Darwin's theory is systematically irrefutable (and hence scientifically vacuous), but Darwin was forthright about what sort of finding it would take to refute his theory. "Though nature grants vast periods of time for the work of natural selection, she does not grant an indefinite period" (Origin, p. 102), so, if the geological evidence mounted to show that not enough time had elapsed, his whole theory would be refuted. This still left a temporary loophole, for the theory wasn't formulatable in sufficiently rigorous detail to say just how many millions of years was the minimal amount required, but it was a temporary loophole that made sense, since at least some proposals about its size could be evaluated independently."(Dennett D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," 1996, p.46)
"As is well known, most fossil species appear instantaneously in the fossil record."(Tom Kemp, Oxford University)
"The curious thing is that there is a consistency about the fossil gaps; the fossils are missing in all the important places."(Francis Hitching, archaeologist).
"There is no need to apologise any longer for the povertyof the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration... The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps."(T. Neville George, "Fossils in Evolutionary Perspective",Science Progress, vol 48, January 1960, pp. 1, 3.)
"The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution [i.e., a species becoming a new species] accomplishing a major morphological transition and hence offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid."(Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution (Freeman, San Francisco, 1977), p. 39)
"Despite the bright promise that palaeontology provides means of 'seeing' Evolution, it has provided 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 palaeontology does not provide them." (emphasis added)(David Kitts, Ph.D. Palaeontology and Evolutionary Theory, Evolution, Vol.28 (Sep.1974) p.467)
"In China its O.K. to criticize Darwin but not the government, while in the United States its O.K. to criticize the government, but not Darwin."(Chinese Paleontologist Dr. Jun Yaun. Chen)
""Progressive increase in knowledge of the fossil record over the past hundred years emphasizes how wrong Darwin was in extrapolating he pattern of long-term evolution from that observed within populations and species. If the patterns of evolution over time scales of millions and hundreds of millions of years are so different from those that Darwin postulated for modern populations and species, can the processes of natural selection that he established on the basis of living species adequately explain long term evolutionary phenomena?" (Robert Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 8)
""The following phenomena are of particular concern to biologists: 1. The origin of major new structures: Biologists have long struggled with the conceptual gap between the small-scale modifications that can be seen over the short time scale of human study and major changes in structure and ways of life over millions and tens of millions of years. Paleontologists in particular have found it difficult to accept that the slow, continuous, and progressive changes postulated by Darwin can adequately explain the major reorganizations that have occurred between dominant groups of plants and animals. Can changes in individual characters, such as the relative frequency of genes for light and dark wing color in moths adapting to industrial pollution, simply be multiplied over time to account for the origin of moths and butterflies within insects, the origin of insects from primitive arthropods, or the origin of arthropods from among primitive multicellular organisms? How can we explain the gradual evolution of entirely new structures, like the wings of bats, birds, and butterflies, when the function of a partially evolved wing is almost impossible to conceive? 2. The extremely irregular occupations of the adaptive space as opposed to the nearly continuous spectrum of evolutionary change postulated by Darwin. Although an almost incomprehensible number of species inhabit earth today, they do not form a continous specrum of barely distinguishable intermediates. Instead, nearly all species can be recognized as belonging to a relatively limited number of clearly distinct major groups, with very few illustrating intermediate structures or ways of life. All of us can immediately recognize animals as being birds, turles, insects, or jellyfish, and plants as conifers, ferns, or orchids. Even with millions of living species, here are only a very few that do not fit into recognizable taxonomic categories. Of all living mammals, only the tree shrews are difficult to classify....Even among the hundreds of thousands of recognized insect species, nearly all can be placed in one or another of the approximately thirty well-characterized orders. One might hypothesize a very different pattern among extinct plants and animals: Fossils would be expected to show a continuous progression of slightly different forms linking all species and all major groups with one another in a nearly unbroken spectrum. In fact, most well-preserved fossils are as readily classified in a relatively small number of major groups as are living species.... Compared with the millions of specimens of trilobites that have been collected, there are very few that might be thought to bridge the gap between tribolites and any other group of extinct anthropods. The number of species that bridge the gaps between dinosaurs and more primitive reptiles and between dinosaurs and birds is very small compared with the number that everyone recognizes as dinosaurs. How do we account for the extremely irregular distribution of basic body plans in space and time under a theory of evolution based on gradual and continuous change?" (Robert Carroll, Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, pp. 8-10)
"There are gaps in the fossil graveyard, places where there should be intermediate forms but where there is nothing whatsoever instead. No paleontologist writing in English (R. Carroll, 1988), French (J. Chaline, 1983), or German (V. Fahlbusch, 1983) denies this is so. It is simply a fact. Darwin's theory and the fossil record are in conflict" (David Berlinksi, mathematician and not a creationist in Commentary, Sept. 1996 pg. 28)
"it is difficult to pin down the precise identity of ancestors, and there is a good case for not even trying to do so." (Richard Dawkins The Blind Watchmaker, 1996, p. 284)
"The missing link between man and the apes...is merely the most glamorous of a whole hierarchy of phantom creatures. In the fossil record, missing links are the rule: the story of life is as disjointed as a silent newsreel, in which species succeed one another as abruptly as Balkan prime ministers. The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms that lie between species, the more they have been frustrated...Evidence from fossils now points overwhelmingly away from the classical Darwinism which most Americans learned in high school..."(John Adler with John Carey: Is Man a Subtle Accident, Newsweek, Vol.96, No.18 (November 3, 1980, p.95)
"Darwin's theory of natural selection has always been closely linked to evidence from fossils, and probably most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument in favour of Darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true."(Dr David Raup, Curator of geology, Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, 'Conflicts between Darwin and paleontology', Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, vol 50(1), January 1979, pg. 22)
"...we have proffered a collective tacit acceptance of the story of gradual adaptive change, a story that strengthened and became even more entrenched as the synthesis took hold. We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports that interpretation, all the while really knowing that it does not."(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, p44)
"But how good is the geological record? I have already mentioned that the ordinary viewpoint of evolution held by most paleontologists favours gradual incremental change. The fossil record, they say, is too incomplete to take seriously. And, they say, you cannot prove a gap. But of course you can prove a gap, especially if clines occurred. If there is a break in the record it must be possible to detect the break. The main point about breaks is that, if they were really random, as proposed by Darwin, they must have been plugged by one hundred and fifty years of work. But the gaps have not been plugged. They still persist; yet authorities still plead the cause of failure of preservation. Such authorities forget that if there is a million to one chance of one specimen of a population, and then if that species lived 5-15 m.y., we therefore get 5-15 times the population fossilized. The trouble may perhaps have lain more truthfully in our failur to find or describe the material. It is special pleading to rely upon gaps, and it is special pleading to propose inadequate preservation. We would do better to look at what the record really says."(Prof. J. B. Waterhouse (Department of Geology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Inaugural Lecture, 1980)
"Evolutionary biologists can no longer ignore the fossil record on the ground that it is imperfect."(David S. Woodruff, professor of Biology at UCSD, in SCIENCE, 5-16-80, p.717)
"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. Yet Darwin was so wedded to gradulaism that he wagered his entire theory on a denial of this literal record:
The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connectign together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory.
"Darwin's argument still persists as the favored escape of most paleontologists from the embarrassment of a record that seems to show so little of evolution directly. In exposing its cultural and methodological roots, I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism (for all general views have similar roots). I wish only to point out that it was never `seen' in the rocks."Paleontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin's argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the process we profess to study." (Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA], "Evolution's erratic pace," Natural History, Vol. 86, No. 5, pp.12-16, May 1977)
"It takes a while to realize that the 'thousands' of intermediates being referred to have no obvious relevance to the origin of lions and jellyfish and things. Most of them are simply varieties of a particular kind of creature, artificially arranged in a certain order to demonstrate Darwinism at work, and then rearranged every time a new discovery casts doubt upon the arrangement."(Hitching, Francis, [Writer], "The Neck of the Giraffe: Or Where Darwin Went Wrong," Pan: London, 1982, p27)
"Many new groups of plants and animals suddenly appear, apparently without any close ancestors. Most major groups of organisms--phyla, subphyla and even classes--have appeared in this way. This aspect of the record is real, not merely the result of faulty or biased collecting. A satisfactory explanation of evolution must take it into consideration and provide an explanation...The fossil record, which has produced the problem, is not much help in it solution."(The Evolution of Life by Everett C. Olson. The New American Library, New York and Toronto, 1965, pg. 94)
"It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of families, appear in the [fossil] record suddenly, and are not led up to by gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences"(Simpson, George Gaylord (1953), The Major Features of Evolution, New York: Columbia University Press, p. 360)
"[T]he fossil record itself provided no documentation of continuity -- of gradual transitions from one kind of animal or plant to another of quite different form." (Stanley, S. M., 1981 The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, N.Y., p. 40)
"It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student, from trueman's Ostrea/Gryphaea to Carruthers' Zaphrentis delanouei, have now been 'debunked'. Similarly, my own experience [sic] of more than twenty years looking for evolutionary lineages among the mesozoic Brachopoda has proved them equally elusive.'(Dr. Derek V. Ager (Dpt. Geology & Oceanography, University College, Swansea, UK), 'The nature of the fossil record.' Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, vol 87(2), 1976, pg 132)
"At the present stage of geological research, we have to admit that there is nothing in the geological records that runs contrary to the view of conservative creationists, that God created each species separately, presumably from the dust of the earth."(Dr. Edmund J. Ambrose, Emeritus Prof of Cell Biology)
"A major problem in proving the theory [of evolution] has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth's geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin's hypothetical intermediate variants - instead species appear anddisappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argumentthat each species was created by God."(Mark Czarnecki [evolutionist], "The Revival of the Creationist Crusade", MacLean's, January 19, 1981, p. 56.)
"The appearance of many novel morphologies, frequently expressed taxanomically as new phyla, classes, or orders, occurs with such rapidity in evolutionary time that microevolutionary substitutions involving structural genes seem and implausible mechanism."("Hopeful monsters," transposons, and Metazoan radiation by Douglas H. Erwin and James W. Valentine in Proc Natl Acad. Sci. USA, Vol 81, pp 5482-5483, September 1984)
"One of the most surprising negative results of palaeontological research in the last century is that such transitional forms seem to be inordinately scarce. In Darwin's time this could perhaps be ascribed with some justification to the incompleteness of the palaeontological record and to lack of knowledge, but with the enormous number of fossil species which have been discovered since then, other causes must be found for the almost complete absence of transitional forms."(Brouwer, A. [Professor of Stratigraphy and Palaeontology, University of Leiden, Netherlands], "General Palaeontology," , Transl. Kaye R.H., Oliver & Boyd: Edinburgh & London, 1967, pp162-163)
"So, the geological time scale and the basic facts of biological change over time are totally independent of evolutionary theory. It follows that the documentation of evolution does not depend on Darwinian theory or any other theory. Darwinian theory is just one of several biological mechanisms proposed to explain the evolution we observe to have happened."(Raup, David M. [Professor of Geology, University of Chicago], "Evolution and the Fossil Record," Science, Vol. 213, No. 4505, 17 July 1981, p.289)
"We are faced more with a great leap of faith that gradual, progressive adaptive change underlies the general pattern of evolutionary change we see in the rocks than any hard evidence.""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." "The fossil record flatly fails to substantiate this expectation of finely graded change." (Eldredge, N. and Tattersall, I. (1982) The Myths of Human Evolution Columbia University Press, p. 59. Note on this quote: It has been reported that this quote has been incorrectly referenced to pg. 57, but that the correct reference is to pg. 59. Make sure you check the page in the original if you want to cite this quote.)
"...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?""Yet Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. As a palaeontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should at least 'show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.' I will lay it on the line-there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument. The reason is that statements about ancestry and descent are not applicable in the fossil record." (Patterson, Colin [late zoologist specialising in fossil fishes, British Museum of Natural History, London], letter 10 April 1979, in Sunderland L.D., "Darwin's Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems," , Master Book Publishers: El Cajon CA, Fourth Edition, 1988, p89. Ellipses are Sunderland's.)
"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.""The virtual complete absence of intermediate and ancestral forms from the fossil record is today recognized widely by many leading paleontologists as one of its most striking characteristics, so much so that those authorities who have adopted the cladistic framework now take it as axiomatic, that, in attempting to determine the relationships of fossil species, in the words of a recent British Museum publication: " we assume that none of the fossil species we are considering is the ancestor of the other." "G.G Simpson recently estimated the percentage of living species recovered as fossils in one region of North America and concluded that, at least for larger terrestrial forms, the record may be almost complete!...According to an article by Wyatt Durham in the Journal of Paleontology," as many as two percent of all marine invertebrate species with hard skeletal components that have ever existed may be known as fossils. Assuming ten to twenty species per genus, this means that for certain groups, such as mollusks which are ideal fossil material the percentage of genera known could be as high as fifty percent. There are, therefore, grounds for believing that in the case of some groups appealing to the imperfection of the fossil record as an explanation for the gaps is not a particularly convincing strategy." (Agnostic Michael Denton in "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" (1986) Bethesda, Maryland, Adler & Adler, Pub., p.162, 165, 189-190) "Paleontologists disagree about the speed and pattern of evolution. But they do not--as much recent publicity has implied--doubt that evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution simply does not depend upon the fossil record." "If the creationists want to impress the Darwinian establishment, it will be no use prating on about what the fossils say. No good Darwinian's belief in evolution stands on the fossil evidence for gradual evolution, so nor will his belief fall by it." "Some palaeontologists maintain that animals have evolved gradually, through an infinity of intermediate stages from one form to another. Others point out that the fossil record offers no firm evidence of such gradual change. What really happened, they suggest, is that any one animal species in the past survivied more or less unchanged for a time, and then either died out or evolved rapidly into a new descendant form (or forms). Thus, instead of gradual changes, they posit the idea of "punctuated equilibrium". The argument is about the actual historical pattern of evoluion; but outsiders, seeing a controversy unfolding, have imagined that it is about the truth of evolution--whether evolution occured at all. This is a terrible mistake; and it springs, I believe, from the false idea that the fossil record provides an important part of the evidence that evolution took place. In fact, evolution is proved by a totally separate set of arguments--and the present debate within palaeontology does not impinge at all on the evidence that supports evolution." "No real evolutionist uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of evolution over creation." (Mark Ridley (zoologist, Oxford University), 'Who doubts evolution?' New Scientist, vol. 90, 25 June 1981, p. 830-832, Emphasis Added)
"Although the comparative study of living animals and lants may give very convincing circumstantial evidence, fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms."(Carl O. Dunbar, PhD. (geology) (Professor Emeritus of Paleontology and Stratigraphy, Yale University, and formerly Asst. Editor, American Journal of Science) in Historical Geology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Yourk, 1960, pg. 47)
"Stasis is data."(Gould, S. J. (1991), "Opus 200", Natural History, August, p. 16)
"[S]tasis, or nonchange, of most fossil species during their lengthy geological lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all paleontologists, but almost never studied explicitly because prevailing theory treated stasis as uninteresting nonevidence for nonevolution. [T]he overwhelming prevalence of stasis became an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left ignored as a manifestation of nothing (that is, nonevolution)."(Gould, S.J. (1993), "Cordelia's Dilemma", Natural History, February, p. 15)
"[W]ell represented species are usually stable throughout their temporal range, or alter so little and in such superficial ways (usually in size alone), that an extrapolation of observed change into longer periods of geological time could not possibly yield the extensive modifications that mark general pathways of evolution in larger groups. Most of the time, when the evidence is best, nothing much happens to most species."(Gould, S.J., 1988, "Ten Thousand Acts of Kindness", Natural History, Vol. 97, No. 12, December, p.14)
"The Eldredge-Gould concept of punctuated equilibria has gained wide acceptance among paleontologists. It attempts to account for the following paradox: Within continuously sampled lineages, one rarely finds the gradual morphological trends predicted by Darwinian evolution; rather, change occurs with the sudden appearance of new, well-differentiated species. Eldredge and Gould equate such appearances with speciation, although the details of these events are not preserved. They suggest that change occurs rapidly, by geologic standards, in small, peripheral populations. They believe that evolution is accelerated in such populations because they contain a small, random sample of the gene pool of the parent population (founder effect) and therefore can diverge rapidly just by chance and because they can respond to local selection pressures that may differ from those encountered by the parent population. Eventually some of these divergent, peripheral opulations are favored by changed environmental conditions (species selection) and so they incrase and spread rapidly into fossil assemblages.The punctuated eqilibrium model has been widly accepted, not because it has a compelling theoretical basis but because it appears to resolve a dilemma. ... apart from its intrinsic circularity (one could argue that speciation can occur only when phyletic change is rapid, not vice versa), the model is more ad hoc explanation than theory, and it rests on shaky ground." (Robert E. RIcklefs (Dpt. Biology, University of Pennsylvania) "Paleontologists confronting macroevolution.' Science, vol. 199, 6 Jan 1978, p. 59)
"Paleontologists (and evolutionary biologists in general) are famous for their facility in devising plausible stories; but they often forget that plausible stories need not be true."(Stephen Jay Gould (Prof. of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), Dr. David M Raup (Curator of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago), J. John Sepkoski, Jr, (Dpt of Geological Sciences, University of Rochester, New York), Thomas J.M. Schoph (Dpt of Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago), and Daniel S. Simberloff (Dpt of Biology, Florida State University), 'The shape of evolution: a comparison of real and random clades'. Paleobiology, vol 3(1), 977, pp 34-35)
"No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seemed to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change--over millions of years, at a rate too slow to account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the fossils did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on somewhere else. Yet that's how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution."(Eldredge, N., 1995, Reinventing Darwin, Wiley, New York, p. 95)
"Most families, orders, classes, and phyla appear rather suddenly in the fossil record, often without anatomically intermediate forms smoothly interlinking evolutionarily derived descendant taxa with their presumed ancestors."(Eldredge, N., 1989, Macro-Evolutionary Dynamics: Species, Niches, and Adaptive Peaks, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, New York, p. 22)
"[T]here are all sorts of gaps: absence of gradationally intermediate 'transitional' forms between species, but also between larger groups -- between, say, families of carnivores, or the orders of mammals. In fact, the higher up the Linnaean hierarchy you look, the fewer transitional forms there seem to be."(Eldredge, N., 1982, The Monkey Business: A Scientist Looks at Creationism, Washington Square Press, pp. 65-66)
"The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, and orders before families. This is not to say that each higher taxon originated before species (each phylum, class, or order contained at least one species, genus, family, etc. upon appearance), but the higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa."(Erwin, D., Valentine, J., and Sepkoski, J. (1988) "A Comparative Study of Diversification Events" Evolution, vol. 41, p. 1183)
"The history of most fossil species include 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 appearances. 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, S.J. (1977), "Evolution's Erratic Pace", Natural History, vol. 86, May)
"[the neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolution] is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy." (Gould, S. J. (1980), "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?", Paleobiology, 6(1), p. 120
"[T]he absence of fossil evidence for intermediate stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution."(Gould, S.J., 1982, "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?", Evolution Now: A Century After Darwin, Maynard Smith, J. (editor), W. H. Freeman and Co. in association with Nature, p. 140)
"The more one studies palaeontology, the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone; exactly the same sort of faith which it is necessary to have when one encounters the great mysteries of religion."(More, Louis T. [late Professor of Physics, University of Cincinnati, USA], "The Dogma of Evolution," Princeton University Press: Princeton NJ, 1925, Second Printing, p.160)
"If life had evolved into its wondrous profusion of creatures little by little, Dr. Eldredge argues, then one would expect to find fossils of transitional creatures wihch were a bit like what wen tbefore them and a bit like what came after. But no one has yet found any evidence of such transitional creatures. This oddity has been attributed to gaps in the fosil record wihch gradualists expected to fill when rock strata of the proper age had been found. IN the last decated, however, geologists have found rock layers of all divisions of the last 500 million years and no transitional forms were contained in them."(The Guardian Weekly, 26 Nov 1978, vol 119, no 22, p 1)
"Mr. Bird is concerned with origins and the evidence relevant thereto. He is basically correct that evidence, or proof, of origins-of the universe, of life, of all of the major groups of life, of all of the minor groups of life, indeed of all of the species-is weak or nonexistent when measured on an absolute scale, as it always was and will always be."(Nelson, Gareth [Chairman and Curator of the Department of Herpetology and Ichthyology, American Museum of Natural History, New York], "Preface," in Bird W. R., "The Origin of Species Revisited," Regency: Nashville TN, 1991, Vol. I, pxii)
"Indeed, it is the chief frustration of the fossil record that we do not have empirical evidence for sustained trends in the evolution of most complex morphological adaptations."(Gould, S. J. and Eldredge, N., 1988 "Species selection: its range and power" Scientific correspondence in Nature, Vol. 334, p. 19)
"Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism ... 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, E., 1991, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 138)
"What one actually found was nothing but discontinuities. All species are separated from each other by bridgeless gaps; intermediates between species are not observed. ... The problem was even more serious at the level of the higher categories."(Mayr, E., 1982, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, p. 524)
"With the benefit of hindsight, it is amazing that palaeontologists could have accepted gradual evolution as a universal pattern on the basis of a handful of supposedly well-documented lineages (e.g. Gryphaea, Micraster, Zaphrentis) none of which actually withstands close scrutiny."(Paul, C. R. C., 1989, "Patterns of Evolution and Extinction in Invertebrates", Allen, K. C. and Briggs, D. E. G. (editors), Evolution and the Fossil Record, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D. C., 1989, p. 105)
"[T]ransitions between major groups of organisms ... are difficult to establish in the fossil record."(Padian, K., 1991, "The Origin of Turtles: One Fewer Problem for Creationists", National Center for Science Education Reports Vol. 11, No. 2, Summer, p. 18)
"Darwin's book-On the Origin of Species-I find quite unsatisfactory: it says nothing about the origin of species; it is written very tentatively; with a special chapter on "Difficulties on theory"; and it includes a great deal of discussion on why evidence for natural selection does not exist in the fossil record. Darwin, I think, has been ill-served by the strength of his supporters."(Lipson, H.S. [Professor of Physics, University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, UK], "Origin of species," in "Letters," New Scientist, 14 May 1981, p.452. Emphasis in original.)
"The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change. All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt."(Stephen Jay Gould, Natural History, 86, June-July, 1977, pp. 22, 24.)
"The united efforts of paleontology and molecular biology, the latter stripped of its dogmas, should lead to the discovery of the exact mechanism of evolution, possibly without revealing to us the causes of the orientations of lineages, of the finalities of structures, of living functions, and of cycles. Perhaps in this area biology can go no farther: the rest is metaphysics."(Grasse, Pierre-P. [editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie," former Chair of Evolution, Sorbonne University and ex- president of the French Academie des Sciences], "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," Academic Press: New York NY, 1977, p17, 246)
"There are a number of problems with hypothetical schemes capable of producing rapid, large, coherent changes in phenotypes. Equally large immediate changes in the genotype might be needed, and any large change in genotype or phenotype must surely be sufficiently disruptive to be lethal. And where would a large change in a phenotype or genotype come from? Moreover, suppose an oddity were to be produced, how would a population be established and maintained?"(Thomson, Keith Stewart [Professor of Biology and Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University, USA], "The Meanings of Evolution," American Scientist, Vol. 70, pp.529-531, September-October 1982, p.530)
"The principal problem is morphological stasis. A theory is only as good as its predictions, and conventional neo-Darwinism, which claims to be a comprehensive explanation of evolutionary process, has failed to predict the widespread long-term morphological stasis now recognized as one of the most striking aspects of the fossil record."(Williamson, Peter G. [Assistant Professor of Geology, Harvard University], "Morphological stasis and developmental constraint: real problems for neo-Darwinism", Nature, Vol. 294, 19 November 1981, p.214)
"[F]or more than a century biologists have portrayed the evolution of life as a gradual unfolding ... Today the fossil record ... is forcing us to revise this conventional view."(Stanley, S. M., 1981, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species, Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, N.Y., p.3)
"The gaps in the fossil record are real, however. The absence of a record of any important branching is quite phenomenal. Species are usually static, or nearly so, for long periods, species seldom and genera never show evolution into new species or genera but replacement of one by another, and change is more or less abrupt."(Wesson, R., 1991, Beyond Natural Selection, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 45)
"[L]arge evolutionary innovations are not well understood. None has ever been observed, and we have no idea whether any may be in progress. There is no good fossil record of any."(Wesson, R., 1991, Beyond Natural Selection, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 206)
"...not being a paleontologist, I don't want to pour too much scorn on paleontologsists, but if you were to spend your life picking up bones and finding little fragments of head and littel fragments of jaw, there's a very strong desire to exaggerate the importance of those fragments..."(Dr. Greg Kirby (Senior Lecturer in Population Biology, Flinders University, Adelaide) in an address on the case for evolution given at a meeting of the Biology Teachers' Association (South Australia) in 1976)
"Palaeobiologists flocked to these scientific visions of a world in a constant state of flux and admixture. But instead of finding the slow, smooth and progressive changes Lyell and Darwin had expected, they saw in the fossil records rapid bursts of change, new species appearing seemingly out of nowhere and then remaining unchanged for millions of years-patterns hauntingly reminiscent of creation."(Pagel M. [Research fellow, Department of Zoology and Hertford College, Oxford University], "Happy accidents?" Nature, Vol 397, 25 February 1999, p.665)
"Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin, and knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded ... ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information--what appeard to be a nice simple progression when relatively few data were available now appears to be much more complex and much less gradualistic."(Raup, D. (1979), "Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology", Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, vol. 50 (1), p. 24, 25)
"A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks, semipopular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general these have not been found yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks."(Raup, David M. [Professor of Geology, University of Chicago], "Evolution and the Fossil Record," Science, Vol. 213, No. 4505, 17 July 1981, p.289)
"Paleontologists just were not seeing the expected changes in their fossils as they pursued them up through the rock record. ... That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, ... prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search ... One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin's predictions. Nor is the problem a miserly fossil record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong.""The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor's new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin's predicted pattern, simply looked the other way." "Darwin's prediction of rampant, albeit gradual, change affecting all lineages through time is refuted. The record is there, and the record speaks for tremendous anatomical conservatism. Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record." (Eldredge, N. and Tattersall, I. (1982), The Myths of Human Evolution, Columbia University Press, p. 45-46)