Responses to our 15 Questions: part 3
Published: 22 September 2011 (GMT+10)
Here we continue presenting the attempted answers to our 15 Questions for Evolutionists. We’ve compiled many of the answers that we’ve received to date (paraphrased to cover as many versions of the answer we’ve received as possible), along with our refutations.
9. Why are the (expected) countless millions of transitional fossils missing?
Answer 1: They aren’t missing. Every fossil ever found is a link between older and newer forms.
Rebuttal: This is assumed, not demonstrated. It is also patently absurd, as, numerically, the majority of fossils fit neatly into previously-described species (many of them documented in Living Fossils). It also obfuscates the real problem. Even on a species-by-species basis, transitional forms are the exception to the rule. There are only a handful of fossils claimed to be transitional between major groups of life. This was recognized by Darwin himself as a huge problem for his theory. And this handful of disputed fossils is different from the disputed handful of the past. For example, the coelacanth fish was presented by evolutionists as ‘the ancestor’ of tetrapods (four-legged animals) for many years. It is no longer considered as such by evolutionary paleontologists, although it is still in many school textbooks. See: Famous Living Fossil ‘Link’ Idea Fizzles Further.
Answer 2: Only a small fraction of animals are fossilized, the fossil record still remains largely incomplete.
Rebuttal: This begs the question, because the ‘evidence’ that the fossil record is incomplete is the rarity of intermediates! This argument may have been convincing in Darwin’s day, although Darwin’s paleontological opponents like Richard Owen, Louis Agassiz and Adam Sedgwick, didn’t buy it, when there were only a small number of fossils that were known. But today we have fossilized representatives of every living animal phylum and every plant division. There are many phyla that have fossilized representatives of every living group or class. We have pointed out before that 97.7% of living orders of land vertebrates are represented as fossils and 79.1% of living families of land vertebrates—87.8% if birds are excluded, as they are less likely to become fossilized (see The links are missing). With so many forms accounted for, there doesn’t seem to be much room for transitional forms to do their work.
What evolutionists should say instead is that fossilization events are rare in processes occurring today. That should lead them to realize that fossils are mostly the result of an extra-ordinary event—such as a globe-covering flood that buried lots of creatures very fast, and prevented them from decomposing or being scavenged as today. See for example Hundreds of jellyfish fossils!—Darwin claimed, due to his faulty uniformitarian views, “No organism wholly soft can be preserved.”
Answer 3: They aren’t missing. There are millions of transitional forms.
Rebuttal: First, there is something bizarre when excuses are basically mutually incompatible, like #2 v. #1 and #3. Which is it? Are they commonplace, or rare because of the rarity of fossilization events?
This answer would require practically every fossil to be a transitional form (actually, several transitional forms at once, given that only about 250,000 fossil species are actually known). But many fossils are practically identical to living creatures, in which case the adjective ‘transitional’ becomes meaningless.
Answer 4: Tiktaalik is a good example of a transitional link.
Rebuttal: Tiktaalik is an amazing example of a well-designed fish—see Tiktaalik roseae—a fishy missing link There is no evidence that it is the ancestor of tetrapods, especially since there are footprints in the fossil record dated before Tiktaalik—see Tetrapods from Poland trample the Tiktaalik school of evolution. The descendant can’t be older than its ancestor!
Answer 5: Evolution would stand even if we didn’t have a single fossil.
Rebuttal: Not all evolutionists would agree. The foremost French zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé (1895–1985), editor of the 35-volume Traité de Zoologie, wrote:
“Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms. A knowledge of paleontology is, therefore, a prerequisite; only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms … that is why we constantly have recourse to paleontology, the only true science of evolution. From it we learn how to interpret present occurrences cautiously; it reveals that certain hypotheses considered certainties by their authors are in fact questionable or even illegitimate.”1
In any case, these critics would have us believe that evolution is sound with fossils or without fossils, it’s by chance and natural selection but it’s not a random accident! If your theory can explain any set of events, then it’s not scientific, according to many philosophers of science, because it’s not falsifiable in your eyes by any conceivable findings (although see also Self-serving SEC definitions of ‘science’).
10. How do ‘living fossils’ remain unchanged over supposed hundreds of millions of years, if evolution has changed worms into humans in the same time frame?
Answer 1: When creatures find no need to adapt to changing circumstances, they don’t change.
Rebuttal: So evolution explains if creatures don’t change, and it explains if they do! How convenient. See Question 12 with a quote from one of the world’s leading organic chemists, the late Philip Skell.
But surely mutation would work at the same rate in the populations that had unchanging environments, and if eight mutations per year were being fixed in the population as argued in the above answer, this would mean that most, if not all, species would be subject to radical change over time. How could these species not change in light of the species evolving around them, some of which, including bacteria, would be trying to make a meal out of the species in stasis? Also, evolutionists believe that environments changed drastically over millions of years, while some creatures in these environments didn’t change? See also Evolutionary Stasis: Double—Speak and Propaganda.
People take an animal’s environment to mean things like the temperature, pressure, salinity (for marine and fresh water organisms), O2 concentration, etc. So it’s not inconceivable in their mind for an environment to stay roughly the same for millions of years. But once one stresses that a creature’s predators, and their prey species (if carnivores) or plant food (if herbivores), are very much part of their environment, as are their parasites and other pathogens, suddenly it gets even more ludicrous that the environment would stay constant for eons. There are species of all of these categories not only migrating in and out of the area, but also supposedly undergoing all this evolutionary change themselves.
Answer 2: Worms didn’t change into humans—we still have worms today. Rather, worms and humans have a common ancestor, if you go back far enough.
Rebuttal: Tell that to the evolutionist who wrote the article “We were once worms” (cited here).
11. How did blind chemistry create mind/intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality?
Answer 1: Morality and the meaning of life is a philosophical question and irrelevant to the theory of evolution.
Rebuttal: Of course it’s a question for evolution. Evolution is all about how we got from the first life to the life we have today. And humans today have (at least the illusion of) mind/intelligence, meaning, altruism and morality.
You assume that evolution only has to answer scientific questions. But evolution is as much about philosophy as science (I would argue that it’s much more about philosophy than science). There are branches of evolutionary ‘science’ called sociobiology, human behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology, which attempt to explain human society, love, morals, religion, altruism, etc., purely in evolutionary terms.
But if you’re really serious, then you better tell many of your fellow evolutionists who pontificate about religion and morals!
Answer 2: Everyone creates his or her own meaning for life—it’s not a question science can answer.
Rebuttal: This is presented as if it’s an answer—it’s the biggest non-answer one could give. But this is really our point: if evolution were true, then there is no basis for right and wrong—see Dawkins’ admission, this article on the foundation for ethics, and how an evolutionist justified deceiving students to believe in evolution.
12. Why is evolutionary ‘just-so’ story-telling tolerated?
Answer 1: Because evolution’s ‘just-so’ stories are based on facts.
Rebuttal: Does the critic realize that question was based on a review by evolutionist Richard Lewontin who referred to “the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories”. That’s the whole point: if they were based on fact, then they wouldn’t be ‘just-so’ stories, as Lewontin admitted existed!
The problem is when the evolutionary scenarios are full of ‘suppose’ and ‘what if?’ scenarios, which don’t work when a little thought is applied. Here are some examples:
- Just-so-stories for the punctuated evolutionist.
- Pterosaur ‘missing link’ poses problems for a Dawkins’ evolutionary story in The Greatest Show on Earth
- Yet another flap about dino-to-bird evolution (flight evolved from running up incline planes)
- Chameleon catapult tongue
- Why sex?
Answer 2: I don’t understand what this has to do with the theory of evolution being wrong.
Rebuttal: It should be obvious: the whole rationale for teaching evolution and excluding any opposition is that it’s a plausible scientific theory for the origin of living creatures. If the majority of supporting examples are really just-so stories, then this pretense of a proven scientific theory should be dropped.
But this question attacks practically every evolutionary explanation there is. “Oh, you found unfossilized blood vessels with red blood cells in them? Obviously flesh can survive in some cases for millions of years!” “This animal is no different from the fossil? Obviously it was so well-adapted that it didn’t need to evolve and stayed the same over millions of years!” Evolution can explain why men are monogamous, or why they cheat, or why they rape. It can explain how females drive sexual selection, except when it wants to argue that the males do. See: ‘Just-so’ stories of sex and family life.
13. Where are the scientific breakthroughs due to evolution?
Answer 1: Evolution is an extraordinary breakthrough in its own right.
Rebuttal: But other things that are extraordinary scientific breakthroughs in their own right lead to other breakthroughs.
Answer 2: Evolutionary concepts are being applied to electronics to create more efficient circuits.
Rebuttal: No, the concept of iterative algorithms, which long pre-date Darwin, have been hijacked with an “evolutionary” label. If humans were more mathematically adept, we would not need to resort to trying multiple random changes of a system to see where the best potential improvements lie. See Genetic algorithms—do they show that evolution works?
Answer 3: Norman Borlaug’s understanding of evolution and genetics helped him to mass-produce crops to feed millions of people, winning him the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize.
Rebuttal: Yet there is nothing about Darwinian evolution that had any relevance to Borlaug’s work. One of his innovations was developing multiline varieties via crossbreeding so they would have many genes for pesticide resistance, compared to the purelines that were genetically depleted. But this shows that the artificial selection that led to purelines resulted in loss of information, while the multilines recombined some of the original information. In fact, the author of the tract is a Ph.D. plant physiologist with much experience at such things—see What! … no potatoes? We have shown the same problem with purebreds in other creatures such as dogs, compared to the superior fitness of mongrels (see “A Parade of Mutants”—Pedigree Dogs and Artificial Selection).
Another of Borlaug’s projects was breeding dwarf wheat for their shorter, stronger stalks that would support larger seed heads. But this is also an application of artificial selection of largely existing genes and possibly mutants with stunted growth, which would not be so good in the wild because they are worse at competing for sunlight.
Finally, as we have pointed out, many of the advances in agriculture predated Darwin by millennia, including breeding (artificial selection).
Answer 4: Music, theology, and philosophy don’t lead to scientific breakthroughs either but they’re still taught in schools.
Rebuttal: You’re missing a fundamental distinction—evolution claims to be science. The other subjects don’t claim to be subsets of science. What other subset of science has yielded precisely no useful discoveries, including Nobel science prizes?
In any case, aren’t you aware that there are certain philosophical assumptions one has to make for science to be possible? For example, there has to be the assumption of an orderly universe, where under normal conditions things work consistently. For instance, gravity isn’t suddenly going to change and work differently than it did 5 minutes ago, so we can do tests and replicate results. See also The biblical roots of modern science.
14. Science involves experimenting to figure out how things work; how they operate. Why is evolution, a theory about history, taught as if it is the same as this operational science?
Answer 1: There have been plenty of experiments that demonstrate evolution, one of the most famous being Lenski’s experiment.
Rebuttal: What experiments demonstrate that a universal common ancestor changed into all the living things on earth? None. This is a belief about history and no experiments can be done on such an imagined history. You are referring to experiments that demonstrate mutations, adaptation, etc., in today’s world. Creationist biologists have no argument with these, except when they are held up as ‘evidence of evolution’, which they are not, because these observable variations in living things cannot be extrapolated to explain the origin of those living things. This is the old equivocation trickery, which we have written about (see It’s not science, for example). As for Lenski’s experiment, this is old news, thoroughly refuted in The Greatest Hoax on Earth? ch. 4. Dr Batten dealt with the most dramatic “evidence” in this experiment: Bacteria ‘evolving in the lab’? ‘A poke in the eye for anti-evolutionists’? We will say it once again: variation in an existing trait does not explain the origin of the trait or the origin of the bacterium.
15. Why is a fundamentally religious idea, a dogmatic belief system that fails to explain the evidence, taught in science classes?
Answer 1: Evolution can explain the evidence, creationists such as CMI simply refuse to recognize this.
Rebuttal: Ipse dixit (“he himself said it”—an unproved and dogmatic statement designed to be accepted on faith not substance). One of the previous answers asked what was wrong with just-so stories, which really don’t explain anything. Also, many evolutionists, including our critics, explain certain things by mutations and natural selection, which are also parts of the creation model, so are powerless to choose between them. Likewise, common features are a prediction both from common ancestry and common design; but some of them thwart evolutionary explanations so favour the latter (see Argument: Common design points to common ancestry from Refuting Evolution 2)
Answer 2: Evolution has no doctrines or dogma, no rituals, traditions or holidays. It has no leaders or defenders of the faith because it does not allow faith. Evolution is not a religion, and it’s deceptive of creationists to claim that it is.
Rebuttal: Yet this charge of deception would thus need to be applied to the evolutionary philosopher of science, Michael Ruse:
“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.
“ … Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.”
In reality, evolution is a deduction from the faith position—which can’t be proven by science—that matter is all there is, so no supernatural is allowed. I.e. creation is streng verboten as a conclusion, regardless of whether the evidence supports it, because of self-serving ‘rules of the game’.
Conversely, biblical faith is never contrasted with reason or evidence, but with sight. See Loving God with all your mind and Using the Bible to prove the Bible? Are biblical creationists guilty of circular reasoning?
- Grassé, P.-P., Evolution of Living Organisms, pp. 3,4. Academic Press, New York, NY, 1977; original French title L’évolution du vivant, 1973. Return to text.