This article is from
Creation 1(1):17–18, June 1978

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Hopeful monsters revisited


The almost universally accepted mechanism of evolution (Neo-Darwinism) is one of slow and gradual change by means of mutation/selection with each successive form having a survival/reproductive advantage, thereby leading to its establishment in the population. According to this model, in the assumed transition from say, fish to amphibian we would expect to find a smooth, gradual chain of innumerable so-called transitional forms. In fact, we should not really be able to call these transitional forms at all - there should be a continuous intergrading of one kind with another. At first glance, we would expect the same to be true of living populations. Of course, the evolutionist brings in secondary assumptions to explain this away. The presence of universal gaps (i.e., a complete absence of the connecting forms demanded by the theory) in the fossil record is more difficult, however. Informed evolutionists usually do not attempt to explain it away in terms of the poverty of the record—this could explain sporadic gaps, but not systematic gaps. Also, it is common knowledge that the fossil record has become ‘unmanageably rich’. The following quote is from the renowned evolutionary paleontologist David B. Kitts (Professor of Paleontology at the University of Oklahoma and a pupil of George Gaylord Simpson) writing in the journal ‘Evolution’ in 1974, Vol. 28, p 467:

‘despite the bright hope that paleontology provides a means of “seeing” evolution, it has provided some nasty difficulties for the evolutionist, 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.’

He also says in the same article that the gaps are a contingent feature of the record and will not be filled by further collecting. In other words, the gaps are real, now we have to find some way of explaining them.

Some years ago, the evolutionary geneticist, Richard B. Goldschmidt, supported by the German paleontologist Schindewolf among others, claimed that because the gaps were real, slow and gradual evolution could not possibly be true because of this. He proposed what he called the ‘hopeful monster’ solution—in essence, a reptile laid an egg and a bird hatched out! Naturally, this solution did not appeal to thinking men, and although no one has yet come up with a better solution for the gaps this idea has been quietly shelved until quite recently. In the June/July issue of ‘Natural History’ 1977, there is an article by Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard and a current leader in evolutionary thought, in which he predicts a revival of this ‘hopeful monster’ mechanism. The article is titled ‘The Return of Hopeful Monsters’.

In another article in ‘Natural history’, May 1977 p.14, Gould admits that:

‘the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology—we fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favorite account of evolution by of natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.’

This is why he predicts a return to Goldschmidt’s proposals.

In summary, the gaps are there, the gaps are real and universal. The only way some evolutionists can see of explaining them away is to postulate mechanisms close to turning mice into footmen—phenomena never observed in the real world.

The paradox is this—when the creationist asks for real, experimental evidence of evolution other than miniscule, horizontal changes within a kind, he is told that it happens much too slowly and that he is not being reasonable to expect this. When he then asks for evidence from the past, i.e., the fossil record, of transformation, he is told that it happened much too quickly and explosively in the past! The creationist does not have to twist and turn with all these evolutionary escape mechanisms—the creation model directly predicts the presence of many kinds of creatures, living and fossil, with no intermediate forms denoting common ancestry. The fossil record therefore provides powerful support for the concept of special creation. We may agree with Goldschmidt, Gould and Kitts that the gaps are real and deny Neodarwinism, and with the Neodarwinists that the ‘hopeful monster’ mechanism is a scientific fairytale.