Paleontology: The Case of the Missing Links
Charles Darwin was a genius who correctly explained why viruses mutate, house insects have evolved resistance to our pesticides, and dogs, cats, and humans, come in various shapes sizes and colors. These observable changes in nature within a particular species are called microevolution.
But Darwin made a big leap from the observable to the theoretical by proposing macroevolution. He theorized that all of life developed gradually over time as one species evolved into a new species. However, Darwin’s leap of macroevolution has never been empirically verified. Thus when scientists take issue with Darwin’s theory of evolution, they are not debating changes evident within a species. They are simply pointing out the fact that no evidence exists that all of life evolved by undirected natural selection.
Darwin proposed a way to test his theory of macroevolution. During the lengthy process, millions of transitional species would leave a trail of fossil evidence. Darwin predicted that the discovery of these transitional fossil forms would eventually prove his theory right. Such fossils would take us from the world of theory and “what ifs” to the world of forensics. Fossils are hard evidence, not theoretical probabilities.
There were plenty of fossils for Darwin to evaluate in his day, but he was concerned that his theory’s predicted transitional fossils were absent from the fossil record. He asked,
“But as by this theory innumerable transitional forms must have existed why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crust of the earth?” Charles Darwin
It’s still a good question.
But why are the missing links essential to Darwin’s theory? Couldn’t gradual macroevolution have occurred without producing transitional fossils? Not according to Darwin.
And certainly if countless species had undergone very gradual transitions from one category to another (for example, cats into dogs or fish into birds), then, according to Darwin, there should be countless fossils. The trail of evidence should be abundantly evident in the fossil record.
Now, a century and a half later, there is an abundance of evidence, with over a billion fossils that have been scrutinized. And it seems to be going against Darwin’s theory. The transitional fossils Darwin predicted would validate macroevolution are embarrassingly absent. Even ardent evolutionist, Niles Eldredge admits,
“No one has found any such in-between creatures…and there is a growing conviction among many scientists that these transitional forms never existed.”Niles Eldredge
Another setback for materialists is the Cambrian explosion, a period where complex life forms developed much quicker than gradual evolution predicts. Stephen Jay Gould, a staunch advocate of materialistic evolution, sums up the problem for Darwinists:
“We do not know why the Cambrian explosion could establish all major anatomical designs so quickly. … The Cambrian explosion was the most remarkable and puzzling event in the history of life.” Stephen Jay Gould
Darwin said that his theory would “absolutely break down” if sudden appearances of species were ever discovered. These sudden appearances of new life forms during the Cambrian explosion prompted Gould and Eldredge to theorize that Darwin was wrong about gradualism. Renouncing Darwinian gradualism, they derived a theory entitled “punctuated equilibria,” which says that life evolved too quickly to leave a trail of transitional fossils.
Although materialists point to a few spurious fossils they say are transitions, most paleontologists are surprised at the lack of hard evidence to support Darwin. However, those who believe in intelligent design are not at all surprised. The results fit perfectly with a master architect who superintended his creation.
The Unique Origin of Man
Paleoanthropologists (scientists who study the origin of man) have been searching for hundreds of years to discover human ancestors. Darwin’s theory predicts the evolution of man from ape-like creatures would result in a fossil trail. But that trail has become a source of frustration due to the lack of a direct ancestor.
Additionally, paleoanthropologists are baffled by the single origin and sudden appearance of Homo sapiens in the fossil trail. Many evolutionists had predicted that the evolution of man would be common and widespread throughout different geographical regions. However, mitochondrial DNA studies have shown that our species originated from one location, and one mother (they call Eve).
Although fossil hunters have discovered a few extinct species of hominids, these creatures are vastly inferior to humans in their intellectual capacities. In fact, there is a huge jump from such hominids to our own species. Evolutionist Ian Tattersall (curator at the American Museum of Natural History) remarks in his book The Fossil Trail:
“Something extraordinary, if totally fortuitous, happened with the birth of our species….Homo sapiens is as distinctive an entity as exists on the face of the Earth, and should be dignified as such instead of being adulterated with every reasonably large-brained hominid fossil that happened to come along.” Anthropologist Ian Tattersall
Thus the evolution of man remains an enigma with Darwinists. Homo Sapiens came from one location, one ancestor, and have much larger brain cavities than hominids. Additionally, we are the only species with the capacity for spoken language. This led reputed evolutionist Ernst Mayr to state,
“Man is indeed as unique, as different from all other animals, as had been traditionally claimed by theologians and philosophers.” Evolutionist Ernst Mayr
Thus, if we truly are unique, we need to revisit the question of whether we are the accidental winners of a grand cosmic lottery, or whether we are special creations in a grand cosmic scheme.