The Predicament of Evolution
by George McCready Price  (1870-1963) 
(This was ©1925 by Southern Publishing Assoc.)
 
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Chapter Five - Voices from the Rocks


THERE was a time, not so very many years ago, when most scientifically educated people could hardly resist the idea that there must have been some sort of evolution or development among the animals and plants that have peopled the globe. It was not that we could stand the skeleton of a gorilla or a chimpanzee alongside that of a man and show that every bone in the one is duplicated in the other. We can still do that. And we can make a very similar comparison between a Ford and a Cadillac. It was not that we can compare the human embryo in its development with the embryos of the ape or the dog or the rabbit, and show that the human body is made in very much the same way as that of these and other animals, and has about the same parts plus some extras. The Cadillac is manufactured in much the same way as the Ford; for the effort is made to construct each in the most efficient manner possible. It was only because of slovenly thinking, or because of the charlatanic propaganda of such men as Haeckel, that anyone ever regarded such comparisons as genuine proofs of organic evolution.

But for anyone who was acquainted with the geological series, and who could trace out the gradually ascending and developing fossil types of the plants and animals, it was hard to resist the conviction that the modern kinds of organisms have come about by some process of natural development prolonged over many millions of years. It was this which, as Thomas Hunt Morgan declares, has always been "by all odds the strongest evidence that we have in favor of organic evolution."—"A Critique of the Theory of Evolution," p. 24. It is certainly a historical fact that Darwin's misplaced confidence in the geology of Lyell was the chief inciting cause for leading him to invent his theory of organic evolution.

New Facts in Geology

But with recent years developments have come about in geology which completely demolish this by all odds "strongest evidence," and leave us in a most surprising manner face to face with a real creation as the only adequate explanation of the origin of the forms now peopling the earth.
 

First came the proofs that in many places all over the globe the layers of rock contain fossils in the direct reverse of the evolutionary order, those that had long been regarded as "old" index fossils being found in the upper layers, while deep down underneath them were other fossils long regarded as immensely "younger." The whole of the Glacier National Park and a large portion of southern Alberta constitute one such area where the so-called "young" fossils were deposited first, while other fossils called immensely "older" are laid down on top of them. This made it appear that there must be something radically wrong with the chronological scheme that, for over a hundred years, the evolutionary geologists have taught us represents  an  accurate time-record of the relative order of sequence   in   which each particular type of  life  came  into existence. The suspicion began to arise that   perhaps   the Cambrian trilobites may not be really any older than the big dinosaurs, and the latter may not have been all killed off  when  the  big elephants and megatheriums  roamed around over America and Europe.

Other discoveries rapidly confirmed these suspicions, until now we know that this elaborate time-scale with which the world has become so familiar, is really a big blunder after all, so far as showing any definite differences in the ages of these fossils. These fossils certainly represent ancient forms of life, they actually lived and their bodies were evidently buried by flowing water. But there is no scientific method by which we can tabulate these fossils off in successive ages; for all these animals and plants may very likely have lived contemporaneously. On this theory, the geological formations merely represent ancient floras and faunas, buried in some way, but certainly not in the long-drawn-out series which evolutionary geology has taught us to believe.

For instance, the English and Pennsylvania coal beds are not certainly and necessarily any older than the Cretaceous coals of Alberta and British Columbia, or than the Tertiary coals of Germany and Australia. It is entirely possible and probable that the plants that helped to make these different coal beds may have lived contemporaneously in these widely separated locali-ties. It is entirely possible and probable that the trilobites may have been living in the ocean while the dinosaurs and the mastodons and mammoths were running around on the lands of America and Europe. And every one who has kept up with modern discoveries in geology knows that it is now impossible to prove that they could not have lived thus contemporaneously. As the burden of proof must always rest logically on the one who would wish to place the fossils in some sort of serial or chronological order, and as we now know that the long-trusted chronology hitherto in vogue has broken down completely, we may rest assured that no other plausible chronology is likely to, be attempted. Accordingly, we may conclude that the evolutionary scheme of geology, this by all odds "strongest evidence"' in favor of organic evolution, has broken down entirely.

"Facts" that are not Facts

One of the most widely used books in favor of organic evolution is the one by Prof. H. H. Newman, of the University of Chicago, entitled: "Readings in Evolution, Genetics, and Eugenics" (1922). It is a sort of compiled scrapbook of elaborate extracts from the leading evolutionary writers, with occasional chapters or parts of chapters by the compiler. The chapter on the "Evidences from Paleontology" has a subdivision entitled, "The Principal Facts Revealed by a Study of the Fossils." Under this we find a list of ten alleged facts (pp. 69, 70), which it may be worth our while to study in some detail, as these alleged "facts" are typical of a great deal of the misinformation that is commonly passed around in support of the doctrine of evolution.

I shall give these ten alleged "facts," as stated by Professor Newman, commenting upon each as we pass along.

"1. None of the animals or plants of the past are identical with those of the present. The nearest relationship is between a few species of the past and some living species which have been placed in the same families."

If Professor Newman were as well acquainted with geology and the fossils as he appears to be with modern breeding experiments, he would never have made such a statement. Of course, there are species and "species"; and if we hold to the now antiquated dictum of Cuvier that all the fossil forms are "extinct" species, such a statement might not appear so ridiculous. Apparently many students of the fossils are still working on the supposition that anything that can be distinguished from other similar types is a "species." But this is mere quibbling. Thousands and tens of thousands of forms found as fossils in the rocks are sufficiently like their living representatives to warrant us placing them, not merely in the same "families," as Newman says, but in the same genera, and even often in the same species. Several species of fossil bears are now admitted by good authorities as identical with our modern ones; the mammoth and several other fossil elephants can only with difficulty be distinguished from the modern Indian elephant; the big fossil hippopotamus found in many parts of England and western Europe is essentially identical with the modern one now living in the tropics.
 

If I had the space (and my readers had the patience), I could go clear down the line to the little shellfish, such as the pretty little brachiopod, Lingula, which belongs in the Cambrian formation, and which is found fossil in the cliffs around the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while "from the sand at the foot of the cliffs we can pig out living specimens of Lingula; and if we examine the fossil pells and those of the living animal with the minutest care, we would not be able to detect the smallest difference, down to the finest   striae, between  them."—Geoffrey Smith, "Primitive Animals," pp. 80, 91.

This author, from whom I have just quoted, is a well-known professor in Oxford University, and the book from which I quote is issued by the Cambridge University Press. Many other prominent scientists could be cited as declaring that multitudes of the fossils are so nearly like the living representatives that the two can be distinguished only with difficulty, it being a general rule that the fossil kinds are often larger.

The only comment that we can now make upon the statement given by Professor Newman, is that it is not true.

But we must pass on to his second "fact."

"2. The animals and plants of each geologic stratum are at least generically different from those of any other stratum, though belonging in some cases to the same families or orders."

Of course, he is here using the word "stratum" in the sense of "formation," a peculiar or misleading use of the term.

But if this second statement means anything more than his first one, it would seem to mean that no fossil animal or plant is ever found in two separated formations, or in two different subdivisions of the geological series. This is so absurdly false that I cannot understand how any well-informed man could have permitted himself to put such a statement on paper. If he should limit his statement to what are termed "index" fossils (which he does not), it would still be grotesquely untrue. So let us proceed.

"3. The animals and plants of the oldest (lowest) geologic strata repre-sent all of the existing phyla, except the Chordata [about equivalent to the Vertebrates], but the representatives of the various phyla are relatively generalized as compared with the existing types."

Of course they are "relatively generalized" or simple in structure; for that is the chief reason why they are classed as "oldest." Every person acquainted with geology in its modern form knows that there is no physical reason for calling the Cambrian or Ordovician "lowest" or deepest down in the earth, or for calling the Cretaceous or Tertiary "highest" or nearest to the top of the ground. We have long ago discarded the "onion-coat" theory; and we all know that these formations occur only as local, detached masses of rock here and there, and are artificially arranged in the geological series from these scattered localities. In other words, there is no spot on earth where more than two or three of the geological systems are ever found one above another. The geological series is a purely artificial series, made by the geologists in their libraries. And the very reason why certain fossils are placed in the Cambrian, or "oldest" group, is this very fact that they are "relatively generalized" or simple in structure.

Why then should we be treated to this begging of the question by having evolutionists bring these "generalized" types as proof of their theory?
 

 However, the geologists have not always been willing or able to shift the beds up or down, so as to make them conform to the evolutionary scheme. Fossil botany is much more of an exact science than is fossil zoology; for in the latter science we are generally limited to our study of the bones or the hard parts of the animals, while in fossil botany we have recovered thousands of specimens where by thin sections we can study the cellular structure of seeds and stems in a way that makes us even more certain of our results than we could ever have been by examining such structures as the leaves. It is on such incontestable evidence as this that the students of fossil botany are now telling us that the plants that have been assigned to the Paleozoic are really not so "primitive" after all. This is what D. H. Scott says on this subject:
"The average level of the lycopods [club-mosses] of the Coal Age [Carboniferous] was altogether far higher than that of the same group in our own time."—"Extinct Plants and Problems of Evolution" (1924), p. 147.

"Thus the Carboniferous representatives of the horsetails, like the corresponding club-moss allies, were in every respect more highly organized than their modest successors in the living flora." —Id., p. 148.

" Some of the most complicated seeds known are of Paleozoic age. . . . The seed, in fact, may be said to have reached its zenith of complexity in Carboniferous times; subsequent changes have been, on the whole, in the direction of simplification."—Id., p. 139.


Comment on this modern, thoroughly reliable information from one of the greatest authorities on fossil botany in the world, is quite unnecessary. Let us proceed with Professor Newman's fourth "fact."

"4. The animals and plants of the newest (highest) geologic strata are most like those of the present and help to link the present with the past."

The very reason why the Tertiary strata were originally called the "newest" or "youngest" by Buffon and Cuvier, was because their fossils were thought to be "most like those of the present." Lyell also arranged the subdivisions of the Tertiary on the very same principle. This is manifestly reasoning in a circle. Accordingly, what value can we place on the present use to which the evolutionists are putting the results of such an arrangement?

"5. There is, in general, a gradual progression toward higher types as one proceeds from the lower to the higher strata."

No doubt there is this "gradual progression" in the geologic series as a whole; but as already remarked, this is a purely artificial arrangement. Why not? Have not the geologists of five continents for nearly a hundred years been diligently at work in perfecting the geological series by putting all the newly found strata each in its proper pigeonhole? In reality, the geological series is just as much a schematized or artificial arrangement as is the card catalogue of a library. And as it would be folly for a bibliophile solemnly to declare that all the books under A, B, and C were published first, and those under X, Y, and Z were issued last; so it is a mere trying to deceive the public for any one in these days to tell us that the geological series from the Cambrian to the Pleistocene represents a real physical relationship of the various formations, the former at the bottom and the latter at the top.

"6. Many groups of animals and plants reached the climax of specialization at relatively early geologic periods, and became extinct."
 

Many kinds of life are really extinct; others are called "extinct" because for years geologists have made it a point to give a new name to all forms found in the so-called "older" rocks, so as to avoid the disagreeable confession that thousands of the fossils of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic strata are like their living representatives. As for those that are really extinct, like the trilobites and the dinosaurs and the mastodons, with many others, the evolutionists have always wanted to have them become extinct a few at a time; otherwise the catastrophic nature of the geological changes would appear too plainly and unavoidably.
"7. Only the less specialized relatives of the most highly specialized types survived to become the progenitors of the modern representatives of their group."

By this Dr. Newman means that the modern birds, or reptiles, or fishes are not descended from the more highly specialized birds, reptiles, and fishes of the long ago, but are to be traced back to lower representatives of these classes. Exactly so; for in every one of these groups and, in almost all the others, for that matter, there are representatives found fossil that are larger and better developed, often even more "specialized" structurally, than any now alive. Would the reader not have supposed that the evolutionists would mention this fact with an apology, instead of trying to work it in as evidence for evolution, as Newman has done?

"8. It is very common to find a new group arising near the end of some geologic period during which vast climatic changes were taking place. Such an incipient group almost regularly becomes the dominant group of the next period, because it developed under the changed conditions which ushered in the new period, and was therefore especially favored by the new environment."
 

Naturally enough, with an artificial series like that of the fossils, it would never do to have the newly introduced types start too abruptly; some "incipient group" ought to be found to make the transition easy and natural. As for the alleged "vast climatic changes" spoken of by Newman, we do know of one such change of climate, in passing from the ancient (fossil) world to the modern. As A. R. Wallace has stated it, there is one "uniform climatic aspect of the fossils"; while the passage from that wonderful, springlike climate to our modern extremes, is shown well enough by the fossil elephants found in such numbers in cold storage in the extreme north of Siberia. Here is one sudden and tremendous change of climate; but there is no other change of climate known to geology, except that many have tried to invent other climatic cycles, so as to make their "glacial age" appear like a regularly recurrent affair.

For a full discussion of this matter of climate, I would refer the reader to the monumental works of Sir H. H. Howorth, "The Mammoth and the Flood," "The Glacial Nightmare and the Flood" (2 vols.), and "Ice or Water" (2 vols.), also to my own "The New Geology" (1923).

"9. The evolution of the vertebrate classes is more satisfactorily shown than that of any other group, probably because they represent the last phylum to evolve, and most of their history coincides with the period within which fossils are known."

Dr. Newman here has in mind the well-known pedigrees of the horses, the elephants, and the camels, as shown by casts and diagrams in the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, as well as in other museums, and by cuts in various books on evolution.

Only two facts need to be borne in mind in this connection:

(1) In such a series as that of the horses, several of the specimens shown in the series can only be called horses in the same accommodated sense that the tapir is a "horse," or the hippopotamus is a "pig," or the hyena a "dog." Some of them do not resemble the horse as much as the hyena resembles a dog.

(2) As all the other parts of the geological series are artificially arranged, so are these subdivisions of the Tertiary system, where these fossil "horses" are found, even more artificial, if possible, than the subdivisions of the other systems.

No; these artificial arrangements of the fossils in the museums may deceive the millions of little schoolchildren who visit these institutions under the guidance of their teachers to study these wonderful "proofs" of organic evolution. But I do not feel free to express the thoughts that such methods of propaganda arouse in the minds of those who really know the facts in the case. Why should we all have to keep paying taxes to have our children deceived in this fashion?

"10. Most of the invertebrate phyla had already undergone more than half of their evolution at the time when the earliest fossil remains were deposited."

Dr. Newman is here trying to apologize for the fact that, even with the entire world to pick from, and with a perfectly free hand in arranging all the fossils from any part of the globe, evolutionary geologists have never yet succeeded in making a good start for their scheme of organic evolution. They still have to start not with one line of living forms, but with several; and the first of each of these lines is as well developed a representative of the line as would be a corresponding specimen of today. The following from Prof. A. H. Cook, in the third volume of the "Cambridge Natural History," will suffice on this point:
 

"The first undisputed traces of animal life, which appear in the Cambrian epoch, exhibit the same phyletic distinctions as now exist. Sponges, echinoderms, mollusca, and worms, formed already, in those immeasurably remote ages, groups apparently as generally distinct from one another as they are at the present time."—Page 5.


We have now examined briefly the ten precious "facts" with which one of our modern scientists seeks to state the evidences in favor of organic evolution that are to be drawn from geology. And yet Morgan has told us that the geological evidence is "by all odds the strongest evidence that we have in favor of organic evolution "!


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