Darwin's Enigma
by Luther Sunderland  · ©1988  ·  PREV    NEXT

Chapter 5

More Problems Than Solutions

What is Punctuated Equilibria?

Ever since the time of Charles Darwin, people have pointed to the abrupt appearance of the various forms of life in the fossil record as being in conflict with the idea that all of life gradually and slowly evolved from a common ancestor. They have argued that any realistic theory on origins should account for this evidence. Darwin talked extensively about this problem in The Origin: "Mr. Mivart is further inclined to believe, and some naturalists agree with him, that new species manifest themselves 'with suddenness and by modifications appearing at once.' " Of course, Darwin disagreed with this since he was firmly convinced of gradualism. He concluded: "My reasons for doubting whether natural species have changed as abruptly as have occasionally domestic races, and for entirely disbelieving that they have changed in the wonderful manner indicated by Mr. Mivart, are as follows."1

At the turn of the century, well-known geneticist pioneer Hugo De Vries talked about the saltation of new species from time to time. Saltation means a sudden or abrupt change, a jump or leap. Through the years, others, like Europe's top paleontologist, O.H. Schindewolf, felt that evolution had proceeded by sudden jumps. In the 1930s he proposed that a reptile laid an egg and hatched out a full-fledged bird as an explanation of the reptile-to-bird gap. Then in 1940, world-famous geneticist from Berkeley, California, Dr. Richard Goldschmidt made the concept famous with his book The Material Basis for Evolution.2He noted that paleontologists had searched for a hundred years since the time of Darwin for transitional forms in the fossil record without finding any. Obviously, none were ever going to be found, and if evolutionists were going to keep the faith, they needed a new theory. So he proposed the "hopeful monster theory." He said that every now and then a two-legged sheep or a two-headed turtle was born. They were all monsters and died but, hopefully, over enough time, there might be a good one which would survive. He said that every time there was gap in the fossil record, a monster had been born. For example, he said that he agreed with Schindewolf's suggestion that the first bird had hatched from the egg of a reptile.

Needless to say, Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory was met with much derision. Critics said that there was not a shred of evidence to support his theory. He responded that this was unfair criticism because neither was there a shred of evidence for slow and gradual evolution. No one paid much attention to Goldschmidt because in the 1940s there was much excitement and hopeful anticipation over the new Darwinism that Simpson, Mayr, Dobzhansky, and others were writing volumes about. Then came the so-called creation science movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which focused much public attention on the complete lack of intermediate forms in both the fossil record and living organisms. An alternative theory to gradualism was badly needed, for the continued absence of transitional forms was beginning to cause great embarrassment in the evolutionist camp.

A graduate student working with Bolivian trilobites was the one to propose the theory that sparked a revolution. Niles Eldredge said that in 1972 he discovered some features in the fossil record that just did not fit the idea of slow and gradual evolution. He enlisted the assistance of Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard and introduced the world to the theory they called punctuated equilibria. Here is how Gould described this event in an article in Discover magazine, May 1981:

In 1972 my colleague Niles Eldredge and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium. We argued that two outstanding facts of the fossil record -- geologically "sudden" origin of new species and failure to change thereafter (stasis) -- reflect the predictions of (this new) evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record.

He contended that the lack of intermediate forms in the fossil record could not continue to be explained away with stories about the unlikelihood of anything but the terminal forms with completed organs being fossilized. This absence of intermediates he called a trend: "Trends, we argued, cannot be attributed to gradual transformation within lineages, but must arise from the differential success of certain kinds of species."3 It was more like climbing stairs than rolling up an incline.

At a convention of science writers November 19, 1978, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Dr. Eldredge was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying that if life had evolved into the wondrous profusion of creatures little by little, then there should be some fossiliferous record of those changes. The report said:

But no one has found any such in-between creatures. This was long chalked up to "gaps" in the fossil records, gaps that proponents of gradualism confidently expected to fill in someday when rock strata of the proper antiquity were eventually located. But all of the fossil evidence to date has failed to turn up any such missing links, Eldredge said, and there is a growing conviction among many scientists, that these transitional forms never existed. And if this is so, then the gradualist view of evolution is an inaccurate portrayal of how life developed.4

Dr. Eldredge said that if the conventional picture were true, paleontologists should find a slow, gradual change in fossils. Instead, he said, the fossil record is quite different. It shows the "sudden appearance" of species that exist almost unchanged for several thousand years. He said that this picture holds true for human evolution also. The fossil record shows a jump to Neanderthal man and another jump to Homo sapiens. This new theory says the missing links should never be found because they never existed. Eldredge said that his theory of punctuated equilibria could be wiped out if a single series of intermediates was found in the fossil record. But no such series has been found. (Note that the official name of the theory uses the plural form, "equilibria," although even Stephen Gould often incorrectly uses it in the singular, "equilibrium.")

Dr. Raup seemed to think that there was a general revolution going on in evolutionary thinking. In fact he wrote a section for a 1980 yearbook for the World Book Encyclopedia that was entitled "Revolution in Evolution." In his 1979 interview, he had this to say about hopeful monsters and punctuated equilibria:

All of the authors of the neo-Darwinian theory which they formulated back in the thirties and forties are losing their influence. They are getting old and dying off. I predict that that whole concept will be thrown out in the next ten years and a new theory will be devised to take its place. A new wave of thinking is sweeping the field.

What will be the new theory? Dr. Raup confessed, "I have no idea."

Here is what Dr. Patterson thought of punctuated equilibria:

Well, it seems to me that they have accepted that the fossil record doesn't give them the support they would value so they searched around to find another model and found one. The support they get for that model comes from geneticists and population biologists who have trouble imagining how a large population could split. So they say it doesn't have to happen that way. A population was isolated by a catastrophe of some sort. Once you start applying that reasoning to the fossil record, you are doing what these people (Creationists) are saying you are doing. When you haven't got the evidence, you make up a story that will fit the lack of evidence.

Norman Macbeth was a bit stronger in his evaluation of the punctuationalist idea. In an interview with the author on May 29, 1982, he expounded his assessment. He felt that Eldredge and Gould came out with their version of it partly in response to his 1971 book Darwin Retried. He first commented about Goldschmidt's version of the theory:

A wild suggestion to meet a glaring need. In 1940, Goldschmidt promoted an idea of evolution that has come to be known as the "hopeful monster theory." He noted in desperation that since no one could find any mechanism that was operating slowly and steadily in the Darwinian sense, it seemed impossible to explain evolution on the basis of accumulating tiny steps. He was thus driven to the idea that changes occurred in large and very sudden steps. He said there were systemic mutations which caused a complete shake-up. The products were usually monsters like two-legged sheep. They couldn't survive but hopefully if there were enough of them, you might get a good one, hence the label "hopeful monster theory." Critics pointed out that with such a large change occurring suddenly the new form would find it very difficult to find an equally monstrous partner with which to reproduce.

Why had Macbeth been calling hopeful monsters "the hypothesis of despair?"

Because Goldschmidt saw macroevolution as the big problem and found no answer to it in neo-Darwinism. In other words, the central question is the origination of new species with new structures and features. Gradual minute changes never seem to be the answer since they only change something that is already in existence. Since my book came out ten years ago, there has been a great revival of interest in Goldschmidt's idea. Many people, like Gould, are now saying Goldschmidt was on the right track, although he never produced a mechanism that you could document. They say it did happen that way in sudden large jumps without cumulating insensible changes, as Darwin called them. Goldschmidt recognized that he was, to some extent, pipe dreaming, but he felt it necessary to pipe dream because the synthetic theory offered nothing. He was driven to this because the fossil record offered no evidence of gradual change. I sympathize with Goldschmidt personally, but I do not espouse the idea of a hopeful monster because, as any fool can see, it is extremely difficult to document, in fact, impossible. This is not a scientific theory; it is only a statement that shows we are in such terrible shape that we have to admit that the changes must have been on the order of a miracle.

Question: "What happened at the meeting in the Chicago Field Museum on Natural History in October 1980 where 160 scientists met to discuss macroevolution? Did most of them support some form of punctuated equilibria as Newsweek magazine reported?"5 To this Macbeth replied:

There were various kinds of scientists assembled there for three or four days to discuss the problems of macroevolution, and they got absolutely nowhere. The impression I got from two or three people who attended it was one of spectacular bankruptcy. They had no theory whatsoever to explain macroevolution. It is still in the condition it was in Goldschmidt's time with Gould and others now recognizing it. They have nothing to offer except the faint hope that in epigenesis they may someday find something.

Paleobiologist Steven Stanley, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, is one of the most outspoken proponents of punctuated equilibria theory. In 1979 he authored the book Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, which attacked gradualism and attempted to defend the punctuationalist view of evolution.6 Then in June 1982 he wrote an update on this thesis in Johns Hopkins Magazine entitled "The New Evolution." In it he summarized in very strong terms the case against the gradualistic theory of evolution.

First, he showed how Charles Darwin was a gradualist, quoting him from The Origin:

It may be said metaphorically that natural selection is daily and hourly scrutinizing, throughout the world, every variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad, preserving and adding up all that is good; silently and insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation to its organic and inorganic condition of life. We see nothing of these slow changes in progress, until the hand of time has marked the long lapse of ages.

Stanley wrote that, although this gradualistic view of evolution had ruled evolutionary thought for over a century, he took issue with it:

Having carefully scrutinized data from the fossil record during the past decade, however, I have demonstrated a biological stability for species of animals and plants that I think would have shocked Darwin. Certainly it has jolted many modern evolutionists.

He gave examples of various species that remained stable for millions of years such as tiny foraminifera, mollusks, beetles, mammals, mosses, and higher plants. He said that some biologists had doubted the veracity of this evidence, suggesting that fossil remains provided too imperfect a picture of the history of life, but, "This, I would argue, is an unfair charge."

His argument focuses on beetles since their genitalia are so specialized. Beetle genitalia are so uniquely constructed that they enable individual beetles to mate exclusively with members of their own species. This permits scientists to identify members of the many thousands of beetle species, and it so happens that beetle genitalia are durable structures that preserve well as fossils, thus providing reliable information on the antiquity and stability of the species. He argued that since there was no change in the key aspects of body form that differentiate species, it is almost certainty that the species underwent no evolution save for a bit of "fine tuning."

Professor Stanley acknowledged that at times we might fail to distinguish between closely similar species within genera, "but errors of this sort have no bearing on the question at hand. Even if evolution does occasionally occur by a tiny step, such a small change cannot help explain the major shifts seen elsewhere." He reasonably argues, "To explain large-scale evolution, we need to look at large-scale evolution."

Large volumes of fossil data now available from all over the world (not available in Darwin's time) permit us to make these generalizations according to Stanley:

Once established, an average species of animal or plant will not change enough to be regarded as a new species, even after surviving for something like a hundred thousand, or a million, or even ten million generations. . . . Something tends to prevent the wholesale restructuring of a species, once it has become well established on earth.

The stability of species is all the more remarkable when we observe that dramatically new kinds of animals and plants have indeed appeared in very little geological time.

In order to defend the pure assumption that life had evolved from a common ancestor in spite of a total lack of supportive fossil evidence, Stanley offered the rapid-change-within-small-populations proposition. He thought that this would account for the fact that macroevolution was not recorded in the fossils and "we are forced to conclude that most evolution has occurred rapidly within small populations and in local areas."

He admitted that there was no known mechanism for this sudden jump or major restructuring of life supposition: "At present, we have no certain answer." Apparently it has not occurred to Professor Stanley that he is trying to prop up the theory of common-ancestry evolution which has been refuted by the direct fossil evidence and it is time to deposit it in the trash can.

The theory of punctuated equilibria is causing much turmoil among evolutionists. They know that there is no actual mechanism that would explain large rapid jumps from one species to another, and yet they also know the fossil record does not support gradualism. They are left on the horns of a dilemma. Some thus try to take the middle-of-the-road position and claim that both gradualism and punctuated equilibria are correct explanations. Gould does not see it that way, however.

Stephen Jay Gould on Problems with Gradualism

At a conference at Hobart and William Smith College on February 14, 1980, to honor Mary Leakey, Dr. Gould elaborated on his theories about evolution in a lecture entitled "Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?" First, he affirmed that the essence of the evolutionary process was selection leading to adaptation. The so-called "modern synthesis," which came to be accepted particularly after Dobzhansky's 1937 book Genetics and the Origin of Species,7and Simpson's 1944 book, Tempo and Mode of Evolution,8embraced "mutation, selection, and gradual accumulation." Gould said that he had been beguiled as a graduate student in the mid-1960s with the notion that by studying the processes governing populations of Drosophila fruit flies in bottles, you could explain everything that occurred over millions of years in evolution and that slow, gradual, sequential substitution of genes within local populations, all leading to adaptations, is the essence of the evolutionary process at all levels. He said that he had since watched the modern synthesis gradually come apart. If Ernst Mayr's characterization of it was accurate, "then the theory as a general proposition is no longer adequate to explain evolution in spite of its persistence in textbook orthodoxy." He said that a typical 900-page textbook on biology would contain only two paragraphs on macroevolution "because there is no theory of macroevolution in the modern synthesis... there is no theory because everything can be extrapolated out of what happens in local populations, so two paragraphs is fine."

Dr. Gould emphasized the random nature of the process of change. He said:

The point is that Darwinism holds to this very basis, that random factors enter only into the production of raw material. That's the whole point. We've got a theory that selection controls the direction of variation in raw materials only. That's what's random, and it's the deterministic processes of selection that produce change and direction. So, in fact, random factors produce change. That is not what Darwin contended as I understand it.

He disputed the whole idea that minor variations such as in the coloration in moths could be extrapolated to explain the major changes in macroevolution. It is an elegant story, but the question is, "Is that a model for everything else?" New models of evolution, he said, were at variance with the synthetic proposition that speciation is merely an extension of microevolution within local populations. He argued that you cannot extrapolate the evolutionary trend from the level of change within local populations.

The gaps in the fossil record, he insisted, could not be explained away with the excuse that the fossil deposition process just somehow skipped recording the intermediate stages. Dr. Gould said:

The fossil record is full of gaps and discontinuities, but they are all attributed to the notorious imperfection of the fossil record. The fossil record is imperfect, but I think that is not an adequate explanation... one thing it does show that cannot be attributed to its imperfection is that most species don't change. . . . They may get a little bigger or bumpier but they remain the same species and that's not due to imperfection and gaps but stasis. And yet this remarkable stasis has generally been ignored as no data. If they don't change, it's not evolution so you don't talk about it.

Actually, he should have said that lack of change is stasis, not due to stasis.

Dr. Gould argued that changes were abrupt, not gradual. For example, in human evolution, he said, "There is no evidence that the increase in size of the human brain is one of these slow and steady, accumulative, adaptive, sequential, advantageous changes." What role do mutations play in speciation? Dr. Gould answered:

A mutation doesn't produce major new raw material. You don't make a new species by mutating the species. . . . That's a common idea people have; that evolution is due to random mutations. A mutation is NOT the cause of evolutionary change. Something else than natural selection brings about species at new levels, trends, and direction.

During the question and answer session following his Hobart and William Smith College lecture, Dr. Gould was asked if there was not Stratigraphic evidence indicating gradualism? He emphasized his answer with a burst of profanity and a slap of his fist on the table:

The fundamental reason why a lot of paleontologists don't care much for gradualism is because the fossil record doesn't show gradual change and every paleontologist has known that ever since Cuvier. If you want to get around that you have to invoke the imperfection of the fossil record. Every paleontologist knows that most species don't change. That's bothersome if you are trained to believe that evolution ought to be gradual. In fact it virtually precludes your studying the very process you went into the school to study. Again, because you don't see it, that brings terrible distress.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of students have not spent a lifetime searching for transitional forms in the fossil record as Dr. Gould has done and they are not aware that there is none. Frank statements like these by Dr. Gould are censored for school materials. Textbooks frequently contain dogmatic statements about how well the fossil record documents evolution, so instead of experiencing "terrible distress," students develop a comforting faith that there must be some good evidence somewhere that would substantiate common-ancestry evolution. They are still indoctrinated with the idea that mutations do "produce major new raw material" and that mutations thus provide the ultimate creative source for the entire biosphere.

Needless to say, Stephen Gould's statements have caused great consternation among the faithful followers of Charles Darwin who expend great effort in attempting to downplay Gould's embarrassing statements about the triviality of natural selection as a major explanation for the generation of basically new genetic information. For example, Nature magazine, May 10, 1984, reported on lectures Gould had just given at Cambridge University: "It is therefore a relief to be able to report that... Gould and eight invited discussants concluded that by and large, Darwin ... got it right."9 The words "by and large" certainly must allow for a huge margin of error unless Gould is wrong about the lack of evidence for gradualism.

Social Implications of Punctuational Theories

Some evolutionists reject the punctuationalist version of evolution for sociological reasons, contending that it is a philosophy growing out of the revolutionary concept of Marxism. Dr. Beverly Halstead of Reading University in England has expressed this objection in print several times. Although to an outsider there might appear to be a rather tenuous connection, the claim does have some substance if statements by its current champions have any relevance. Gould and Eldredge explicitly made the association in an article about punctuated equilibria in Paleobiology magazine:

Alternative conceptions of change have respectable pedigrees in philosophy. Hegel's dialectical laws, translated into a materialist context, have become the official "state philosophy" of many socialist nations. These laws of change are explicitly punctuational, as befits a theory of revolutionary transformation in human society.

They apparently feel that Marxism is a viable political system which they prefer:

In the light of this official philosophy, it is not at all surprising that a punctuational view of speciation, much like our own, but devoid (so far as we can tell) of references to synthetic evolutionary theory and the allopatric model, has long been favored by many Russian paleontologists. It may also not be irrelevant to our personal preferences that one of us learned his Marxism, literally, at his daddy's knee.10

It is interesting that Gould has occasionally tried to give the impression that he objected to being called a Marxist, but yet has never denied being one. In fact, at least once under oath in a court deposition for the trial regarding the constitutionality of the Louisiana Balanced Treatment Law, he acknowledged that he was a Marxist.

In "The Darwin Debate," Marxism Today, Young wrote:

Aspects of evolutionism are perfectly consistent with Marxism. The explanation of the origins of humankind and of mind by purely natural forces was, and remains, as welcome to Marxists as to any other secularists. The sources of value and responsibility are not to be found in a separate mental realm or in an immortal soul, much less in the inspired words of the Bible.11

Theodosius Dobzhansky was one of the authors of the neo-Darwinian synthetic theory, which temporarily salvaged Darwinism in the 1930s when it was practically dead. He was told how, when the Communists overthrew the Czarist government and took control in Russia in 1917, they needed a materialistic basis for their world system. They recognized evolution as the solution to the problem, accepting it as their official explanation of dialectical materialism. They virtually raised Charles Darwin to sainthood.

Just before his death, Dobzhansky gave a paper at a 1974 conference organized to review the history and status of the evolutionary synthesis. The papers given at this conference were published in a book by Ernst Mayr and William Provine, The Evolutionary Synthesis. In Dobzhansky's paper, "The Birth of the Genetic Theory of Evolution in the Soviet Union in the 1920s," he gave a historical sketch of evolution theory in Russia and showed how it formed the basis for the new Communist political movement which was germinating there:

When Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published in 1859, Russia was entering a period of political reforms and a ground swell of radicalism among its intelligentsia. The coincidence was fortuitous, but it left an impress on the intellectual tradition. Evolution was accepted not only as a scientific theory but also as a part of the liberal world view ... standard bearers of the radical youth proclaimed that a valid personal philosophy must rest on a solid base of natural science, and evolution was a pivotal part of that.12

He said that although some scientists had some reservations about certain parts of Darwin's theory, they still "accepted evolution as part of the new gospel." The scientific discussion of the problem was taken over by Marxist philosophers in the 1920s and early 1930s. At that time the Timiriazev Institute was working on "the study and propaganda of the scientific foundations of dialectical materialism." He wrote, "The debates among the high priests of dialectics were often impassioned but inconclusive. Both Lamarckians and Darwinians claimed to be faithful dialecticians." Dialectical materialism is the theory advanced by Marx and Engles that there is a continuous transformation of matter and an interconnectedness of things implying social transformation through socialism toward a classless society.

When Dobzhansky left Russia on December 4, 1927, he brought with him the major tenets of what later was to be called "neo-Darwinism" or the "modern synthesis," often credited to the Anglo-American trio of Fisher, Haldane, and Wright. These included the concepts of the gene pool and genetic drift. He went to Columbia University and joined forces with Simpson, Ernst Mayr, and others who together brought the theory of evolution into respectability again. Ernst Mayr told the author that when he came to Harvard in the early 1950s, there hadn't been a course in evolution taught there for over 25 years. He started the first modern evolution course at Harvard in 1952.

It is well known that Karl Marx, although born a Jew, had renounced all religion in favor of atheism but he had no real scientific basis for his faith until Darwin came along. He was so enamored with Darwin that he offered to dedicate his book Das Kapital to him.

For a time, some influential scientists in Russia, such as Kammerer, Pavlov, and Lysenko, began to favor Lamarckism over the uniformitarianism of Darwinism. But unlike the tautologies in Darwinism, Lamarckism could be tested. Finally, when it had been thoroughly falsified it was officially repudiated.

Regardless of the well-known objections, both social and scientific, to the theory of punctuated equilibria evolution, since the late 1970s it has virtually swept aside all competition and become accepted by the vast majority of evolutionists in the United States. Stephen Jay Gould was chosen as "Man-of-the-Year in Science" by Discover magazine and appeared on the cover of Newsweek. The educational system is slow to be turned from a pervasive course, however, and few textbooks even mention punctuated equilibria theory twenty years after it was first widely publicized.

Are Fossils Forming Today?

Since the late 1700s and early 1800s, the central unifying theme in geology and paleontology has been the idea that, with rare exception, all fossil-bearing geologic deposits were laid down slowly and gradually by uniform processes similar to those going on today. The slogan has been "the present is the key to the past." Because of this it was given the name "uniformitarianism." No significant catastrophes have been considered possible in this interpretive framework except local floods, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes. In fact, it was formulated for the explicit purpose of wiping out the centuries-old idea that there could have been a worldwide flood that once covered the entire earth with water. The uniformitarianists and catastrophists have been bitter rivals for the past 200 years. It can be stated quite properly that its companion theory became universally taught throughout public education institutions in the 1950s and 1960s. But not quite. There remained a few pockets of stubborn resistance -- and not just among the Creationists.

A non-creationist, Immanuel Velikovsky, was destined to put the first significant crack in the solid uniformitarianism edifice that had been built up in the natural science field. His first book, Worlds in Collision, published by Macmillan in 1950, postulated near misses of planets and comets in the fairly recent past.13 Immediately, the book was enveloped in furious controversy, and Macmillan, intimidated by threats from academicians and scientists who wrote and bought textbooks, transferred the book to Doubleday. At the time, it was the number one best seller in the nation.

Another book by Velikovsky, Earth in Upheaval, gave an even more convincing case for worldwide Catastrophism.14While the earlier book included extensive documentation from literature and folklore showing that every civilization had witnessed cosmic disturbances, this book contained a massive amount of geological and paleontological evidence showing that catastrophes were the primary mechanism for fossil deposition and formation. It also gave evidence that conflicted with Darwinism.

At first the scientific community was solidly opposed to Velikovsky, and it gave him very shoddy treatment, calling him a heretic. But after over 50 of his predictions were shown to be correct through space program research, some scientists began to reconsider his ideas.

Although today few conventional astronomers agree with some of his hypotheses about the recent interaction among Mars, Venus and Earth, close encounters of Earth and comets or stars are now openly discussed. In fact, most of the recent geological conferences have been dominated by discussions of worldwide catastrophes which caused mass extinctions of almost all life -- perhaps 96 percent of the species.

The April 19, 1984, issue of Nature magazine devoted over 2 pages to editorials and 11 pages to five articles on periodic mass extinctions. Editor John Maddox lectured his readers on why it was important to remain open-minded on the postulated causes of these catastrophes. He noted that the papers all referred to one given by David M. Raup and J. John Sepkoski, now both at the University of Chicago, and that they had "prevailed while others advocating periodic extinctions have done less well." He wrote, "But it is proper to acknowledge that the intellectual climate has changed in favor of Catastrophism."15

So, we have experienced a complete revolution in evolutionary-uniformitarian thinking over the past 30 years. It went from no worldwide catastrophes depositing fossils to one catastrophe about every 26 million years. This is no insignificant development in a field where there has been so much dogmatism and resistance to any consideration of possible error.

One not afraid to challenge the establishment, Stephen Gould, recognized the inevitable shift when he said:

To many scientists, natural cataclysm seemed as threatening as the reign of terror ... yet the geologic record seemed to provide as much evidence for cataclysmic as for gradual change. . . . Contrary to popular myths, Darwin and Lyell were not the heroes of true science, defending objectivity against the teleological fantasies of such "castastrophists" as Cuvier and Buckland. Catastrophists were as committed to science as any gradualist, in fact, they adopted the more "objective" view that one should believe what one sees and not interpolate missing bits of gradual record into a literal tale of rapid change.16

What is some of the evidence for Catastrophism which has impressed Gould and others? One of the main pieces of evidence is the presence of massive fossil graveyards around the world. It is only reasonable to ask whether any of these could have been laid down by currently operating processes. Is there any evidence of significant fossil formation presently taking place?

All of the museum officials interviewed were asked if there was any example they could identify of significant fossil deposition going on today on the bottom of any lake, sea, or ocean. Their replies were unanimous. Dr. Patterson said, "The only cases I know about are some dead fish that were dredged up from the bottom of the Black Sea and off the coast of South Africa 500 feet below the surface of the water. There is no way of knowing why they were lying on the bottom or if there are significant numbers of them. Perhaps they floated to the surface and burst. They are not fossils yet." Could they be compared to the billions of fish thrown together, all contorted in the Lompoc formation of California? "No, not like the Lompoc. These things are scattered and they are rare."

Dr. Fisher was asked if he knew of any examples today where fish were being fossilized on the bottom of any sea floor. He replied, "I can't give you any specific examples, but I'm sure that they are finding them on the sea floor today.... When the skeletons fall to the sea floor, I'm sure that a certain percentage of those are being covered with sediment." Did he have any firsthand knowledge? His reply was in the negative: "Did I see it? I haven't seen it, no." Neither had he heard of any. He was told: "See, this is where we are trying to sift out the conjecture from the facts. The conjecture is that these thick layers of fish fossils were formed over millions of years as sediments covered the dead fish, but we don't find them on the bottom of any ocean, sea, or lake. ... Normally a dead fish just floats to the surface and is consumed." Dr. Fisher thought that the reason we did not see evidence of fish forming into fossils was that "man has such a short span of life that he can't observe these things happening." The only example he could give of anything fossilizing in New York State was leaves that had fallen into mineral water becoming coated with minerals.

The author continued questioning Dr. Fisher about the lack of organisms in the process of fossilization: "Still we have billions and billions of fossils all thrown together. For instance, down at Glen Rose, Texas, Dr. Steve Austin, a geologist, told me that he found something just as significant as the many dinosaur and human tracks there. This was a three-foot layer of pelecypods (clams) all with their valves (shells) closed. How could pelecypods get formed into fossils over millions of years without their valves opening? They had to have been covered suddenly."

Dr. Fisher agreed, "Oh yes. We've seen that with brachiopods here in New York. We have brachiopods with their valves closed. There had to have been a catastrophic covering of sediments." He thought there were many catastrophes that formed the fossils, but he did not think they were on a worldwide scale. That was before there was so much talk about Catastrophism at the geology conferences.

Hardy-Weinberg Principle

High school biology students in New York state, and perhaps across the country, must struggle with what is called the Hardy-Weinberg principle. This involves the use of a complex equation called a quadratic, that is supposed to describe how populations of organisms change. It is a most difficult thing for students who have not had algebra to cope with, but it has the effect of making evolution theory appear to be well-defined mathematically. Students are thus inclined to believe it despite the fact that they have not the slightest idea of what Hardy-Weinberg means. The principle is stated thus:

If mating is random (natural breeding) in a given large population and no external factors are involved, the gene frequencies (percentage of occurrence of particular genes) and the genetic proportions in the population will remain constant from generation to generation. By definition this is a stable population.

This is a statistical rule that can only come into play when the population is large, is naturally interbreeding, has no mutations, and has no migrating elements. If mating is not random but directed in some way by external factors, the population is not stable and changes genetically. These changes often alter the outward appearance of the population. The big question is whether the change is ever in a direction that would produce basically new genetic material so that a previously non-existent structure or function comes into being.

Case after case can be cited where populations have been irradiated and deliberately mutated, but they have never been observed to change into anything basically different from the original -- a bacterium is always a bacterium, a fruit fly is always a fruit fly, a dog is always a dog.

Evolutionists classify some of this observable variation as speciation, however, someone calling a variation by a new species name does not prove that all life evolved from a common ancestor. Even when a phenomenon called polyploidy occurs and the number of chromosomes is doubled in an offspring, the plant (or occasionally animal) never changes into anything other than a variant of the original. A flower is still the same kind of flower, a salamander is still a salamander, etc.

Here is how Dr. Eldredge explained it: Initially things are in equilibrium, and then certain conditions are needed to disrupt the equilibrium. Then a new state of equilibrium is reached. He said, "In my mind, Hardy-Weinberg and all of the other formulas on population genetics show how difficult a job it is to change a characteristic." That, indeed, is a true assessment. That is why Dr. Eldredge observed that stasis was one of the two most significant characteristics of the fossil record. When he observed the second important fact, which is the sudden appearance of new species, it is simply an assumption that the new species, with totally different structures, had evolved from some other ones.

Dr. Patterson commented on the statement that the Hardy-Weinberg principle showed stability: "Yes. It has nothing to do with evolution. People keep asking me why I didn't mention it in my book. Ha! Ha! It has nothing to do with evolution. Every time I find a population it's inside Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium."

Population Genetics

One of the ideas that the revised Darwinism was supposed to have contributed to biology was the contention that the individuals do not evolve, populations evolve: populations would become isolated and drift, gradually forming a new species. Norman Macbeth had some comments about the contribution of so-called population genetics to science:

Lewontin says some shocking things too, but some of these men are regarded as "enfants terribles" who like to startle people. The profession as a whole settles right back into its normal routine and ignores them.

I wrote a paper recently on the subject of population genetics with a neighbor who is a professor of zoology. We discovered that the three leading recent treatises on population genetics, one by Lewontin, one by Spiess, and another by Jonathan Roughgarden at Stanford, all stated that population genetics had contributed nothing to evolution theory. Therefore, our paper said that we didn't see any reason why courses in evolution should waste any time on population genetics.

One of our colleagues at a nearby college read it over and said, "I really agree with you; this is all true, but you can't publish that. Publish that and the Creationists will get hold of it and throw it in our faces." There is still a conscious effort to cover up problems with evolution. This professor didn't quite realize what she was saying, and if we had pointed out that this was just sweeping it under the rug, she might have changed her position. But they instinctively take this position and try to protect the traditional and sacred theories that were taught to them in school and that they've been teaching to their own students. You have to wonder where they would be if they did say this had all been a lot of rubbish.

We had in that article that Gene Fairley called both Gregory Bateson and Marshall Sahlins and asked them what they thought of his creation myth theory -- that Darwinism was a creation myth and you don't question creation myths. These two anthropologists answered, "That's not a bad idea." Bateson said, "I've just written something on that myself," and he read off a very sarcastic note about natural selection. "Wonderful theory," he said, "it demonstrates that if things are the way they are, they tend to remain the way they are. It's about as stupid as that."

Sahlins in Chicago said, "That's not a bad idea. I never thought of it before, but it is all right. But why are you so excited about natural selection anyway? Natural selection is all bunk. . .." On the tape he said, "Science is like an eclair, it's firm on the outside but it is all mushy on the inside. It is good in the eating, however, so we enjoy it and go on with it." These are terrible confessions.17

It was noted that those are the confessions of honest scientists and Macbeth replied, "They are outside the gang that have staked their life on it [evolution]."


Although Darwin recognized that the fossil record did not give any support for the theory of evolution, he was most impressed by what he thought was the best evidence for common ancestry of all life, namely, embryological development. He said that it was "second to none in importance." The hypothesis that during embryological development higher organisms, like man, relived their evolutionary history was popularized by Ernst Haeckel in Germany at about the time Darwinism was gaining acceptance. The concept, however, was originated in 1811 by Johann Meckel before scientists took the theory of evolution seriously. He thought that the embryonic stages of development in higher forms of life paralleled the adult stages of lower forms. Fifteen years later Karl von Baer argued that it was the embryonic stages of lower forms rather than the adult stages which were paralleled by higher forms. Then, in 1864, Fritz Muller proposed that the higher forms added stages to the embryonic stages passed through by the lower forms in their development. Ernst Haeckel, in 1866, simply combined the ideas of others and popularized the theory which he called "the fundamental biogenetic law."

Haeckel, demonstrating his considerable artistic skills, made wood carvings which indicated that the embryos of a fish, tortoise, hare, pig, monkey, and man had similar appearances at various stages. He was one of Charles Darwin's staunchest supporters and claimed that his discoveries validated the theory that all life had come from a common ancestor.

The natural history museum experts interviewed by the author were not specialists in the field of embryology so the subject was only discussed with two, Drs. Raup and Patterson. Dr. Raup was well aware of the current feeling in scientific circles about the theory. He said, "The biogenetic law -- embryologic recapitulation -- I think, was debunked back in the 1920s by embryologists. I don't see embryology as any different than any other kind of comparative morphology, similarities being in (embryonic) stages or in adult morphology."

Famous anthropologist professor Ashley Montagu, in a debate with Dr. Duane Gish on April 12, 1980, at Princeton University, verified Dr. Raup's claim that the "law" had been debunked in the 1920s. First Dr. Gish commented on the harmful effects of evolution theory on research:

Years and years of embryological research was essentially wasted because people, convinced of the theory of evolution and that embryos recapitulated their evolutionary ancestry, spent much of their time in embryological research trying to develop phylog-enies based on the data of embryology. As I mentioned earlier, embryologists have abandoned the theory of embryological recapitulation. They don't believe it. They know it is not true.... It produced bad research rather than the good research that should have been done.

In response, Dr. Montagu stated:

The theory of recapitulation was destroyed in 1921 by Professor Walter Garstand in a famous paper, since when no respectable biologist has ever used the theory of recapitulation, because it was utterly unsound, created by a Nazi-like preacher named Haeckel.

Dr. Gish made a further comment:

Ladies and gentlemen, I have traveled all over the world. I have debated and lectured on many, many major university campuses, and it is hardly a single university campus that I appear on that some student does not tell me that he is taught the theory of embryological recapitulation right there at that university. I've had many evolutionists argue the evidence for evolution from embryological recapitulation. Unfortunately, as Dr. Montagu has said, it is a thoroughly discredited theory, but it is still taught in most biology books and in most universities and schools as evidence for evolution.

Dr. Montagu then made a most perceptive observation:

Well ladies and gentlemen, that only goes to show that many so-called educational institutions, called universities, are not educational institutions at all or universities; they are institutes for mis-education.

At the time of the interview, Dr. Patterson must not have been aware that recapitulation theory had fallen into disrepute for he said that he felt comfortable with it and that it was still alive: "It's one of the few things that I think has survived. The expectation in Darwin's time was that all we need do was look at fossils and they would give us the answers. But it's true to say they haven't. I do like the ideas of embryology. That's one of the few things that has stood the test of time." When asked if he was aware that the human embryo at no time was anthropoid in appearance but that the ape embryo appears humanoid at one point and so was backwards, he replied, "It's only backwards if you insist that man is the highest point in the evolutionary tree, which I wouldn't try to say." Since the interview, Dr. Patterson has become an anti-evolutionist, so perhaps he has changed his beliefs about the evidence from embryology.

It is significant that the Encyclopedia Britannica in its extensive discussion of embryological development, under the section on zoology, contains only two sentences about Haeckel and his biogenetic law. In its biographical sketch of him it states, "Haeckel was the originator of the dictum that, 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,' since proved to be false."18 Strangely, it did not mention the well-known fact that Haeckel forged some of his drawings of embryos to make them appear in accord with his theory, and used the same sketches to represent several different animals. He was even accused of altering drawings of embryos made by others. For his forgery, he was convicted by a German court. His forgeries were brought to the attention of the public in 1911 in a book called Haeckel's Frauds and Forgeries.19In view of the fact that the problems were well known from the very beginning, it is inexplicable that this theory of recapitulation ever gained such widespread acceptance before being debunked in the 1900s. Professor Kerkut of the University of Southampton quotes Radl as saying, "Everything that has ever been cited against the theory was known when the theory was put forward; nevertheless it was widely accepted. Today some still accept it, others do not."20

In his A History of Biology, Charles Singer discussed Haeckel's influence on science: "His faults are not hard to see. For a generation and more he purveyed to the semi-educated public a system of the crudest philosophy -- if a mass of contradictions can be called by that name. He founded something that wore the habiliments of a religion, of which he was at once the high priest and the congregation."21

Why do modern embryologists not believe in embryological recapitulation? First, when scientists studied the embryological development of various animals and got beyond the superficial appearance level, they soon discovered that no higher embryo develops along the same route as is assumed for common-ancestry evolution. There are just too many exceptions for the theory to have any credence. In fact, many structures develop in an order that is the reverse of that assumed for evolution.

The most popular evidence offered to support recapitulation is the presence of so-called "gill slits" in the embryo of fish, mammals, and human beings at a certain stage of development. This is supposed to show that man and other mammals came from an ancestral fish. It is true that the embryos of these animals have a series of folds in the tissue of the neck region. In the fish embryo the gills develop in this region, but in mammals they never form slits and are never part of the respiratory system. These folds transform into other organs having no connection with respiration, which in mammals is accomplished through the placenta. If they are never slits and are never gills, they could hardly be honestly called "gill slits." Some of the numerous facts of embryonic development that contradict recapitulation theory are: Evolution was supposed to have created teeth before the tongue, but children develop the tongue before teeth. Vertebrate embryos form the heart before the remainder of the circulatory system, but evolution theory holds that the opposite occurred. The human embryo never has a tail with extra vertebrae extending far beyond the pelvis. Rather, the pelvis forms near the tip of the spinal column, which quite naturally develops first.

The October 1979 issue of Parent's Magazine contains some impressive color photographs of the developing human embryo photographed with a technique involving fiber optics. The article notes that "Since the human embryo has been photographed at every stage of development, it is now known to be specifically human at every stage."22

Even though knowledgeable embryologists have abandoned the discredited theory of embryological recapitulation, it is likely to retain its place in school and university textbooks for many years. In April 1984 it was still being taught in Ivy League colleges where the author lectured. Yesterday's myths die hard, especially when they so nicely help to perpetuate a particular favored philosophical belief system.


Another bit of indirect evidence that evolutionists since the time of Erasmus Darwin have used to argue in support of their theory is the similarity in certain structures in otherwise basically different groups of organisms. For example, the bones in the forelimbs of man, horse, bat, whale, and dog share certain superficial structural similarities. The homologous structures are supposed to indicate that their possessors all came from a common ancestor. This is one of the most logically appealing arguments used by evolution theory protagonists because it appears to be supported by visually observable evidence that can be readily perceived.

Certainly, similarities in organisms can indicate closeness of relationship, but this is not a dependable guide because there are many cases of close similarity that could not be due to inheritance from a recent common ancestor. If similarities show evolutionary relationship, then dissimilarities should conversely show a lack of relationship. The rule should be consistently applied not simply ignored when the evidence conflicts with it.

The following structures are very similar to those in humans: The octopus eye, pig heart, Pekingese dog's face, milk of the ass, and the pronator quadratus muscle of the Japanese salamander. When the concentration of red blood cells is considered, man is more similar to frogs, fish, and birds than to sheep. Do these homologies indicate close evolutionary relationships? Obviously not. There could hardly be two organisms further apart on the assumed evolutionary tree than the octopus and man, and two placental mammals are much closer on the evolutionary tree than man and fish or man and bird.

There are many more dissimilarities in the organisms that possess homologous structures, but evolutionists ignore them when looking for evidence to support their theory. For example, in the three thousand different species of frogs in which there are many superficial similarities, there is much greater variation in their DNA than there is between the bat and the blue whale, which structurally are vastly different.

It is absolutely unacceptable in the field of science for a researcher to carefully select his data and cover up that which contradicts his theory. But that is done repeatedly in this particular branch of science. It is permitted because of the widespread philosophical bias among scientists, which causes them not to publicize evidence that discredits evolution.

Frequently, apologists for recognized abuses in evolutionary science use the excuse that there are other branches of science such as molecular physics which also cannot have all their theories tested empirically. This might be true, but one fault is never justified by the revelation of another one of equal magnitude.

The above discussion, however, is admittedly somewhat subjective. It is not necessary to consider only such superficialities now that the science of genetics has progressed to the point where we can observe the genes that control specific structures. In his 1974 book, Homology an Unsolved Problem, prominent British evolutionist Gavin DeBeer stated:

It is now clear that the pride with which it was assumed that the inheritance of homologous structures from a common ancestor explained homology was misplaced; for such inheritance cannot be ascribed to identity of genes. The attempt to find homologous genes has been given up as hopeless . . . what mechanism can it be that results in the production of homologous organs, the same patterns, in spite of their NOT being controlled by the same genes: I asked this question in 1938, and it has not been answered. It is useless to speculate on any explanation in the absence of facts.23

Since evolution is supposed to be a change in the genes which changes the structures that they control, how could the structures remain virtually unchanged but the genes that control them become changed completely? William Fix quoted Randall, who described the situation very clearly:

The older textbooks on evolution make much of the idea of homology, pointing out the obvious resemblances between the skeletons of the limbs of different animals. Thus the "pentadactyl" limb pattern is found in the arm of a man, the wing of a bird, and the flipper of a whale, and this is held to indicate their common origin. Now if these various structures were transmitted by the same gene-complex, varied from time to time by mutations and acted upon by environmental selection, the theory would make good sense. Unfortunately this is not the case. Homologous organs are now known to be produced by totally different gene complexes in the different species. The concept of homology in terms of similar genes handed on from a common ancestor has broken down.24

Some of the most devastating new scientific data that falsifies the homology argument for evolution come from the field of molecular biology. In his 1985 book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis,25Michael Denton presents new molecular data that reveal what he calls "one of the most astonishing discoveries of modern science."

Just what is molecular biology and what can it tell us about evolution? From the founding of biology in the 1700s until the 1960s, the only way biologists had to compare and classify organisms was at the gross morphological level -- in other words, just by comparing superficial outward appearances. They simply tallied the number of similarities in certain selected structures and functions in various organisms. This procedure had obvious difficulties. A mammal might, for example, look more complex than a housefly, but whether or not this is true cannot be determined by considering outward appearance only.

Then came the molecular biology revolution of the 1950s that dramatically changed the situation and allowed us to compare in great detail the features of organisms at the molecule level. For example, we found that the proteins that compose organisms are made up of 20 amino acids, like basic building blocks, and we discovered how the DNA molecule, found in every cell, coded the formation of the different proteins. Surprisingly, the same protein, such as the blood protein hemoglobin, varied somewhat from one species to another. And the amount of difference could be quantified precisely when we compared the DNA sequences in different species.

Finally we could quantitatively measure the similarities, so the study of homology would cease to be a matter of opinionated arm-waving and shouting. Once and for all time, we could prove that there were progressions of increasing complexity showing that all life was connected to a common ancestor. Or so hoped the evolutionists. The potential for finding evolutionary sequences in nature with this technique was certainly of great interest. Where the fossil record had completely failed to show morphological progressions, perhaps the field of biochemistry would validate evolution.

It was found that where there were large morphological differences between organisms, there was also a great difference in their protein sequences. For example, the hemoglobin sequences between two mammals such as man and dog differed by 20 percent, while in more different species such as man and carp, they differed by about 50 percent. There was, however, less variation in other proteins. Cytochrome C, for instance, differed by 5 percent between man and dog and 13 percent between man and carp.

Dr. Denton says that the evolutionists' hopes for documenting evolution theory with microbiology were shattered: "However, as more protein sequences began to accumulate during the 1960s, it became increasingly apparent that the molecules were not going to provide any evidence of sequential arrangements in nature but were going to reaffirm the traditional view that the system of nature conforms fundamentally to a highly ordered hierarchic scheme from which all direct evidence for evolution is emphatically absent. Moreover, the divisions turned out to be more mathematically perfect than even most die-hard typologists would have predicted." (Typolo-gists are those who say that in nature there are isolated groups unlinked by transitional forms to any other group pointing to a model of nature that is diametrically opposed to, and indeed irreconcilable with, common ancestry evolution.)

Much data began accumulating on the amino acid sequences in various proteins, such as in Cytochrome C, which is associated with converting food into cellular energy. We shall use the data collected on Cytochrome C to show the patterns found in the sequence data for various groups of organisms.

A convenient way to compare these data is to present the data as a percent sequence difference matrix. Dr. Denton's matrix found in his Figure 12.1 will not be reproduced here, but some astounding facts derived from the matrix table will be discussed.

Using the matrix data, it is possible to classify organisms into groups, and these groups correspond exactly with groupings determined by morphological techniques; for example, mammals, reptiles and birds, fish, insects, angiosperrns (flowering plants), yeasts, and bacteria. The fact of supreme importance in our evaluation of the two theories on origins is that the groups (subclasses) are isolated and distinct. Denton sums up the picture: "Every sequence can be unambiguously assigned to a particular subclass. No sequence or group of sequences can be designated as intermediate with respect to other groups. All the sequences of each subclass are equally isolated from members of another group. Transitional or intermediate classes are completely absent from the matrix."

Now that should settle the issue of whether or not all life came from a common ancestor. It is a rather subjective process when scientists classify organisms by general morphological appearances, because their preconceived notions and biases can affect the outcome. But here we have hard numbers that can be validated repeatedly by independent experiments in the laboratory. When distinguished paleontologists, such as Dr. Colin Patterson of the British Museum of Natural History, say that they know of no transitional forms, either fossil or living, evolutionists can easily find someone of equal status who will say the opposite. Since the media, science educators, and referees for scientific journals almost all promote evolution, when evolutionists make such claims they are not required to produce the evidence for transitional forms. It is much more difficult, however, for volumes of molecular data showing that there are no transitional forms to be brushed aside with a wave of the hand.

Let us examine some of the data presented in Dr. Denton's book, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. A bacterium is a single-celled organism that has no nucleus. Yeast is also a single-celled organism, but it has a nucleus. We shall compare the percent difference in amino acid sequences of Cytochrome C between a bacterium and a number of increasingly complex organisms. First we shall illustrate what is meant by percent difference in amino acid sequences. There are 20 amino acids that are the building blocks of all cells. An average protein might contain several hundred amino acids, but let us use a sequence of 10 amino acids in our example of two proteins as follows.

The letters in each column represent different amino acids in two similar proteins. Notice that nine of the ten positions are identical in both columns, so there is a 10 percent difference in the sequences.

The following table shows the percent sequence difference between a bacterium and six other organisms:

   Cytochrome C Differences

     Bacterium to Six Organisms

Bacterium & yeast............ 69%

Bacterium & wheat........... 66%

Bacterium & silkmoth ...... 65%

Bacterium & tuna.............. 65%

Bacterium & pigeon.......... 64%

Bacterium & horse............ 64%

What a surprise for someone expecting Cytochrome C homology to prove evolution! The actual data show the exact opposite. There is less difference between a bacterium and a single horse than between a single-celled bacterium and a single-celled yeast. The reader might suspect that this example is just a fluke or the result of someone carefully selecting the data.

Instead, this is the rule rather than the exception. Denton exclaims, "Considering the enormous variation of eucariotic species (those containing a cell nucleus) from uni-celled organisms like yeasts to multi-cellular organisms, such as mammals . . . this must be considered one of the most astonishing findings of modern science."

Now consider the percent sequence difference between an insect (the silkmoth) and the various vertebrate cytochromes:

   Cytochrome C Differences

      Silkmoth to Vertebrates

silkmoth & lamprey................ 27%

silkmoth & carp ...................... 25%

silkmoth & pigeon .................. 26%

silkmoth & turtle..................... 25%

silkmoth & horse .................... 30%

How does the hemoglobin of jawless lampreys (supposedly more primitive than the jawed fishes) compare with other vertebrates?

       Hemoglobin Differences

     Lamprey to other Vertebrates

lamprey & human ................... 73%

lamprey & kangaroo ............... 76%

lamprey & chicken.................. 78%

lamprey & frog ....................... 76%

lamprey & carp ....................... 75%

Dr. Denton observes: "There is not a trace at a molecular level of the traditional evolutionary series: fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal. Incredibly, man is closer to lamprey than are fish." When we compare Cytochrome C of fish with that of terrestrial vertebrates, all are equally isolated.

  Cytochrome C Differences

      In Terrestrial Vertebrates

carp & bullfrog ................. 13%

carp & turtle...................... 13%

carp & chicken.................. 14%

carp & rabbit..................... 13%

carp & horse...................... 13%

So, although Cytochrome C vary considerably from one another, they are all equidistant from the fish. At the molecular level there is not a trace of the evolutionary transitions from fish to amphibian to reptile to bird or to mammal. Dr. Denton says, "One of the most remarkable features of these new biochemical discoveries is undoubtedly the way in which the pattern of molecular diversity seems to correspond with the predictions of typology. With very few exceptions, the members of each defined taxa are always equally divergent whenever an outgroup comparison is made." He concludes his chapter A Biochemical Echo of Typology with:

Despite the fact that no convincing explanation of how random evolutionary processes could have resulted in such an ordered pattern of diversity, the idea of uniform rates of evolution is presented in the literature as if it were an empirical discovery. The hold of the evolutionary paradigm is so powerful that an idea which is more like a principle of medieval astrology than a serious twentieth-century scientific theory has become a reality for evolutionary biologists.... Yet in the face of this extraordinary discovery, the biological community seems content to offer explanations which are no more than apologetic tautologies.

How one views the similarities and differences in different organisms depends entirely on the philosophical bias of the individual. But good science should be practiced in a manner that is independent, as much as humanly possible, from individual biases of investigators. The safest conclusion one might draw from the evidence of homologies is that it doesn't necessarily indicate whether organisms evolved from a common ancestor or were created by an intelligent designer. It can be stated with complete confidence that the resolution of that question is beyond the bounds of empirical science.

Different Names for Same Species

An unusual practice among paleontologists was uncovered during the interviews, namely, that of giving different names to the same species if it is found in rocks of different periods. Dr. Eldredge was asked, "Do paleontologists name the same creatures differently when they are found in different geological periods?" He replied that this happens, but they are mistakes. When asked the same question, Dr. Patterson replied, "Oh yes, that's very widely done." Next he was asked, "That doesn't seem quite honest. You wouldn't do that, would you?" He said that he hoped he wouldn't. Dr. Raup was asked, "In these books it is claimed that paleontologists call the same creature by different species names when it is found in different period rocks. Is that true?" He acknowledged that it used to be a very common practice and still occurred. How did this happen? If a fossil were found in South America that was indistinguishable from one previously found in Europe, many taxono-mists would give it a different name. He said that this was partly due to some evolutionary model that they were using which made them think that a species could not have lasted such a long time or covered such a wide geographic area. It was done purposely because of an a priori theoretical model, but he thought that most of these had "been cleared out now."

Would not this practice make a lot more species? Dr. Raup said that it would; perhaps 70 percent of the species described are later found to be the same as existing species, so 70 percent of the new species named should not have been, either through ignorance or because of the ground rules used by taxonomists.

How do taxonomists establish a new species? Dr. Raup said that if you cannot find a description of the organism, and, in your judgment, it is sufficiently different from any other to have been reproductively isolated, then it is given a new species name. An assistant of Dr. Eldredge who was studying trilobite fossils as the American Museum explained to the author how he made the decision on naming a new species: "I look at a fossil for about two weeks and then if I think it is different enough, I give it a new name." So it is simply a matter of judgment with no firm ground rules. Obviously it is impossible to check the reproductive isolation of a fossil.

Start of: "Darwin's Enigma"