Christianity and Science – Fossil Gaps and Intermediate Forms

QUESTION: Christianity and Science – Fossil Gaps and Intermediate Forms


Another problem with macroevolution is the lack of fossil evidence. Over one hundred years ago, Darwin wrote, “The geological record is extremely imperfect...[and this fact] will to a large extent explain why...we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting 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.”1

When Darwin made this claim, he was correct in asserting that the geological record, as scientists knew it then, was imperfect. After a century of careful scrutiny of the geological record, it fails to support Darwin’s theories. One reason the fossil record does not support evolutionary theory is that many complex life forms appear in the very earliest rocks without any indication of forms from which they could have evolved.2 Creatures without ancestors cannot help but imply special creation. As Brown puts it, “The evolutionary tree has no trunk.”3

When scientists discover trilobites in lower Cambrian strata with magnificent body and eye structure without any ancestors leading up to them—there are no monobites—they know that evolutionary theory is hurting. No wonder Richard Dawkins said it was as though they “were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.”4 The problem at the present time is that “paleontologists lack clear ancestral precursors for the representatives of not just one new phylum but virtually all the phyla represented in Cambrian explosion.”5

Christianity and Science – The Fossil Record
The term Cambrian explosion “describes the geologically sudden appearance of animals in the fossil record during the Cambrian period of geologic time. During this event, at least nineteen, and as many as thirty-five (of forty total), phyla made their first appearance on earth. Phyla constitute the highest biological categories in the animal kingdom, with each phylum exhibiting a unique architecture, blueprint, or structural body plan.”6

This explosion of complex life is not the only way in which the fossil record condemns evolution. The lack of fossils supporting the transitional phases between species is perhaps the single most embarrassing topic for evolutionists, yet their absence is undeniable.

This fact is grudgingly recognized by leading evolutionists. The late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould admitted, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”7 Paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote, “Nearly all categories above the level of families appear in the [fossil] record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.”8 And David Raup, a geologist, confesses, “The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time.”9

The systematic lack of transitional fossils remains a major problem for evolutionists. This is made clear by Brown: “If [Darwinian] evolution happened, the fossil record should show continuous and gradual changes from the bottom to the top layers and between all forms of life. Actually, many gaps and discontinuities appear throughout the fossil record.”10 An evolutionary tree with no trunk (no life forms earlier than the already very complex ones in Cambrian rocks) and no branches (no transitional forms) can hardly be called a tree at all.

Not only are transitional forms not to be found in the fossil beds, but the very concept of specific transitional forms are even hard to imagine. Evolutionists are unable to present a reasonable explanation for the survival of any hypothetical transitional forms in nature because most novel features in their developmental phases would be useless until fully formed. Half-developed organs or appendages provide no clear advantage; on the contrary, they are more likely to be handicaps. Once again, Brown elaborates, “If a limb were to evolve into a wing, it would become a bad limb long before it became a good wing.”11


Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 Darwin, The Origin of Species, 2:124–5.
2 See Walter L. Starkey, The Cambrian Explosion: Evolution’s Big Bang? Or Darwin’s Dilemma? (Dublin, OH: WLS Publishing, 1999) and John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, ed., Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2003). Also, see volume 2 of Larry Vardiman, Andrew A. Snelling and Eugene F. Chaffin, Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth (El Cajon, CA: Institute For Creation Research, 2005).
3 Brown, In the Beginning, 3.
4 John Angus Campbell and Stephen C. Meyer, ed., Darwinism, Design, and Public Education (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2003), 340.
5 Ibid., 342.
6 Ibid., 324–5.
7 Pennock, Intelligent Design, 133.
8 Ibid., 143.
9 David Raup, “Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology,” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin (January 1979): 25.
10 Brown, In the Beginning, 3.
11 Ibid.

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