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Secular Science and Punctuated Equilibrium

QUESTION: Secular Science and Punctuated Equilibrium


If the fossil record is the only means for observing macroevolution, and if that record provides nothing that corresponds with the theory, then the evolutionist is left holding a groundless theory. This is intolerable for the Humanist—so a theory has been proposed that forces the fossil record to fit into the evolutionary mold. This theory is referred to as punctuated equilibrium. “Equilibrium” refers to the fact that species manifest a stubborn stability (stasis) in nature. “Punctuated” refers to the dramatic changes deemed necessary to explain how the gaps are bridged in the fossil record between the major divisions in nature.

Chris McGowan, after admitting that the fossil record does not contain evidence of macroevolution, jumps to the conclusion that punctuated equilibrium is the answer. He states, “New species probably evolve only when a segment of the population becomes isolated from the rest. Speciation occurs relatively rapidly, probably in a matter of only a few thousand years and possibly less.”1

Secular Science – No Evidence for Gradual Change
That is, punctuated equilibrium claims that science cannot discover the links between species in the fossil record because the change from one species to another occurs too rapidly, geologically speaking, to leave accurate fossil documentation.2

How does punctuated evolution mesh with the theory of evolution as presented by Darwin? Not as well as one might expect—in fact, it clashes directly with Darwin’s ideas. He writes, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”3 Apparently, some evolutionists are willing to “break down” Darwin’s theory in an effort to make a new form of evolution fit the facts.


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 Chris McGowan, In the Beginning (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984), 29.

2 See Walter James ReMine, The Biotic Message: Evolution Versus Message Theory (St. Paul, MN: St Paul Science Publishers, 1993) for a discussion on punctuated equilibrium.

3 Darwin, Origin of Species, 1:229, cited in Macbeth, Darwin Retried, 76.

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