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Creation 35(1):46–47, January 2012

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Telling tales—how evolutionists ‘spin’ their story

‘Early Cambrian’ arthropod fossils showing ‘exceptionally preserved eyes’ with ‘modern optics’ should be an eye-opener for evolutionists—but they resort to ‘spin’ instead

Book ©iStockPhoto.com/PhotoSouth | Spinning Top ©iStockPhoto.com/vasiliki | Pinocchio ©iStockPhoto.com/malerapas telling-tales


The “modern optics” of arthropods found fossilized in ‘Early Cambrian’ South Australian shale rock are right in line with the Bible’s account of there being a Designer (Genesis 1, Romans 1:20).1 And the fact that these fossilized eyes are “exceptionally preserved” fits with the rapid burial you’d expect as a legacy of the catastrophic Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6–9). But the ‘spin’ that evolutionists have put on these fossils as they try to salvage them as evidence for evolutionary theory is both brazenly deceptive and admirably creative.

Here’s how the Nature journal editor began his summary of one research paper1 on the “modern optics” and “complex vision” of a claimed 500-million-year-old arthropod:

“Charles Darwin thought that the eye, which he called an ‘organ of extreme perfection’, was a serious challenge to evolutionary theory—but he was mistaken. Theory predicts that eyes can evolve with great speed, and now there is support for this prediction from the fossil record. Well-preserved fossils found in Early Cambrian shales from South Australia show that some of the earliest arthropods known had eyes very like those of some insects alive today, …”2

Clever indeed—turning the problem of an evolutionary origin of the eye, the problem of ‘sudden appearance’ of complex fully-functional eyes way down in the ‘fossil record’, and the problem of evolutionary stasis (things staying the same) over supposedly millions of years, into seeming support for the notion that sophisticated life forms could easily and quickly bring themselves into existence. In other words, if we were to paraphrase the evolutionary ‘spin’:

“Darwin recognized the difficulty his theory faced in explaining the origin of the eye [and spent a whole chapter in his Origin trying to address the problem—Ed.]. But evolution says they did evolve—and evolution has been proven right because not only do we find eyes in the fossil record, but there they are very early in the fossil record! Just like eyes today. Evolution did it, and did it quickly. It was that easy. Simple.”

A second paper about another fossil arthropod from the same shale rock deposit, also published in Nature journal by many of the same group of researchers, had to confront the same issues—design (as we have already reported3) and “exceptional preservation”.4,5 The fossilized arthropod was an extinct giant shrimp-like creature identified as Anomalocaris6 and described as having “at least 16,000 hexagonally packed ommatidial lenses (in a single eye), rivalling the most acute compound eyes in modern arthropods.”4 So, again, complexity and stasis—arthropods’ fully-functional eyes have always been that way. And the evolutionary researchers noted two other ‘surprises’ as well. First, evolutionists had presumed that compound eyes evolved together with exoskeletons—but Anomalocaris was soft-bodied, prompting the researchers to conclude that eyes evolved first. (Though other evolutionists warn this “could stir up debate”.7) Second, the discovery “pushes the origin of compound eyes deeper down the arthropod stem lineage”.4

But the researchers glossed over the evolutionary problems their fossil discovery raised. Instead, we see another example of creative, but myopic, ‘spin’ applied to their finding. Noting that it would likely have been “a highly visual apex predator”,4 the researchers proposed that Anomalocaris, far from presenting a problem for evolution, was actually crucial for it. Being such a sharp-eyed predator in “the early Cambrian ecosystem” would have “probably helped to accelerate the escalatory ‘arms race’ that began over half a billion years ago”.4 They call that presumed period an “important phase in early animal evolution”.4

Ah yes, the oft-invoked ‘arms race’, essential to the plot of the evolution tale.8 ‘Once upon a time’, this dog-eat-dog world saw creatures evolve from sea to land to air as predators became stronger and smarter, their prey faster and more elusive. But no-one has ever seen such transitions happening today—the sorts of changes necessary to have supposedly turned simple cells into cell-phone salesmen over millions of years.

And note the circular reasoning throughout—they are basically saying: “evolution is true, therefore the fossils should show that, and they do (even when the evolutionary storyline has to be dramatically altered to fit them), therefore evolution is true.”

Beware of spin. It might make for a creative story—a ‘ripping yarn’—but a concocted tale, no matter how cleverly told, is not history. The Bible’s creation account is.

References and notes

  1. Lee, M., Jago, J., García-Bellido, D., Edgecombe, G., Gehling, J. and Paterson, J., Modern optics in exceptionally preserved eyes of Early Cambrian arthropods from Australia, Nature 474:631–634, 2011. Return to text.
  2. At the nature.com online archive of Ref. 1, doi: 10.1038/nature10097. Return to text.
  3. Sarfati, J., Giant compound eyes half a billion years ago? Creation 34(4):39, 2012; reporting on: The eyes have it: world’s oldest predator found, canberratimes.com.au, 7 December 2011. Return to text.
  4. Paterson, J., García-Bellido, D., Lee, M., Brock, G., Jago, J., and Edgecombe, G., Acute vision in the giant Cambrian predator Anomalocaris and the origin of compound eyes, Nature 480:237–240, 2011. Return to text.
  5. And it was not just the members of the research team who waxed lyrical about its preservation. Paleobiologist Robert Gaines, who was not involved in the study, was moved to comment: “The extraordinary detail preserved in this specimen is just fantastic.” Kaplan, M., An eye-opening fossil—Ancient predators had vision sharper than modern insects, Nature.com, 7 December 2011. Return to text.
  6. This creature was also the subject of our earlier article about the unexpected doubling of its presumed evolutionary age: Catchpoole, D., Twice as wrong and more, Creation 34(1):15, 2012. Return to text.
  7. The aforementioned paleobiologist Robert Gaines—ref. 5. Return to text.
  8. E.g. Richard Dawkins devotes a whole chapter to it (Ch. 12: Arms Race and Evolutionary Theodicy) in his 2009 book The Greatest Show on Earth: The evidence for evolution. For a rebuttal see chapter 16 in Sarfati, J., The Greatest Hoax on Earth?—Refuting Dawkins on Evolution, Creation Book Publishers, Atlanta, USA, 2010. Also see creation.com/darwin-year-christmas. Return to text.

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