While we're discussing scientific skepticism, what about evolution?

Let me state right from the start that evolution driven by natural selection makes a lot more sense than some magical spirit guy started it all and created all the animals and plants.

But what's seldom discussed is some of the amazing holes in the evolutionary evidence. We have ample fossils of some species and none of others. 

Case in point: We've all seen at least one chart showing the evolution of man, or of the horse. 

I dare you to find one showing the evolution of the cow. I've spent hours and hours on google image search and have nothing to show for it.

Another massive hole: the bat, quite possibly the most prolific type of mammal. Bats seem to have popped out of thin air. There is no record of a creature whose fingers gradually get longer and longer until they are long enough to support a wing made out of skin.

But these are far from the only creatures lacking transitional fossils. This critique of the Darwinian position by Dr. Duane Gish, a prominent creationist, raises a lot of very interesting questions. A quote:

The essence of the neo-Darwinian view is the slow gradual evolution of one plant or animal into another by the gradual accumulation of micromutations through natural selection of favored variants.

If this view of evolution is true, the fossil record should produce an enormous number of transitional forms. Natural history museums should be overflowing with undoubted intermediate forms. About 250,000 fossil species have been collected and classified. These fossils have been collected at random from rocks that are supposed to represent all of the geological periods of earth history. Applying evolution theory and the laws of probability, most of these 250,000 species should represent transitional forms. Thus, if evolution theory is true, there should be no doubt, question, or debate as to the fact of evolution.

Such is not the case at all, however. The fossil record was actually an embarrassment to Darwin, and some paleontologists are willing to admit that it looks even worse from an evolutionary point of view today than it did in Darwin's time.1 Some even appear to admit that there is, in fact, little, if any, evidence for transitional forms in the fossil record. Kitts, for example, states, "Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of 'seeing' evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of 'gaps' in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them." More and more paleontologists seem to be coming to the point where they are now willing to admit that this is indeed the case, and are seeking to devise a mechanism for evolution that will tolerate, even predict, systematic gaps in the fossil record.

Other evolutionists remain steadfastly wedded to neo-Darwinism. They argue that there are examples of transitional forms in the fossil record, and that even if examples of gradual change are few, these few examples eliminate the necessity of seeking mechanisms for evolution other than neo-Darwinism. The examples most often cited are the reptile-to-bird transition (Archaeopteryx is the sole suggested intermediate), the so-called horse series, and the reptile-mammal transition.

Of the latter, Olson has said "The reptilian-mammalian transition has by far the finest record of showing the origin of a new class."2 Others claim that there are forms that stand perfectly on the reptilian-mammalian boundary. In an "Impact" article to be published soon, we will examine in some detail the "mammal-like" reptiles that some paleontologists believe represent transitional forms between reptiles and mammals. In the present article we wish to review the general nature of the evidence related to the origin of mammals.


Tags: Duane Gish, creationism, evolution, natural selection

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I have my own theory regarding at least some of the gaps. Take the absolute absence of bat fossils. Perhaps they evolved in isolation, in a valley or, better, on an island, then after they were mostly evolved into modern day bats and flew away, some natural catastrophe obliterated their fossil history. A tsunami or asteroid.

What is accepted science today will probably change at some point, and I think that's the point, is that while I believe evolution is the best theory going, it is still just a theory (not a gospel, hopefully).

This often begs the question 'Do you think that gravity is just a theory?' As a matter of fact, I do. Gravity does not explain everything (weak atomic bonds, et al).

If science already had an answer for everything, there wouldn't be any need for research, right? 

"Just a......." has a pejorative or demeaning connotation Andy. Like saying "he's just a boy" or "it was just a shag" or "it was just a joke" or "that's just your period talking". Likewise when people say "evolution is just a theory" the intent isn't to communicate the infallibility of science but to belittle it as less than credible or as credible as any other pseudo-science or myth. It's not "just a theory". It's an outstanding monumental towering theory.

Only grand theories even purport to explain everything. You know, a "theory of everything" as Einstein and Hawking mean/t the term. 

Religious people don't seem to understand that words can have different meanings. On the one hand, a theory can be like a conjecture, hunch, guess, or supposition. This isn't the sense the word is used by science. A theory in science is a organizes data and has implications for further study.

That's true.  They say creationism is a theory just like evolution is a theory.  That's like saying a paper airplane is an airplane just like a B2 stealth bomber is an airplane.  One is a complex integration of systems relying on many different technologies and scientific disciplines, designed and refined over decades; the other is creationism.

One is a complex integration of systems relying on many different technologies and scientific disciplines, designed and refined over decades; the other is creationism.

I like that statement.

My tweak at the end may be like "the other is just... creationism".

Gravity does not explain everything (weak atomic bonds, et al).

Unless I misunderstand, isn't that what the so-called "electroweak" force does?

Typically overdone 

Anyway, while it's easy to dismiss the absence of fossils of bat ancestors (they are small creatures with tiny and fragile bones), the absence of pre-cattle is a far bigger puzzle.

I have seen pics of those somewhere...oh yeah..

That isn't a fossil cow, it's a skeleton cow. 10,500 years ago in geological terms is contemporary with some of the oldest human civilizations and hardly qualifies as prehistory. It's no more a "fossil" than a skeleton of a passenger pigeon or Tasmanian Tiger. How about some sort of pre-cow from the paleogene or neogene eras (24-1.8 million years ago)?

How about some fossil of almost-cattle?

I don't think I have ever used the word "dogma" in this thread. Correct me if I'm wrong. 

I'm not going to count the aurochs as anything other than an actual cattle species that went extinct. It's not different enough from modern cattle to take seriously as a prehistoric progenitor.

I have provided a long list of experts who aren't totally convinced to varying degrees with the current widely-accepted view of the cause of global warming. They are hardly guilty of "unreasoned questioning."

Suppose I were to hypothetically admit the aurochs in a chart of evolutionary progression. It looks enough like a modern cow to function as the modern example. Where is the rest of the progression. What came before the aurochs that looks enough like it bur enough different from it to function as a step before the aurochs.

Want reasoned objections from scientists? Just go here.



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