With Evolutionists the Excuses Never End
I’ve been reading some of Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt which covers evolutionists’ reactions to the well-known Cambrian explosion. The problem with this explosion is easy to understand although the devil is in the details. In the Precambrian fossils at least 541 million years ago, very few species existed and then suddenly, in the Cambrian, animal life exploded with very few connecting links to primitive varieties of those organisms. Darwin drew attention to these missing links in his Origin, admitted that objections to his theory based on these absences carried weight, and met those objections by suggesting that the fossil record was incomplete and the missing fossils would be found later.
Charles DoolittleWalcott, who was the first to explore the Burgess Shale which provided evidence for such a rapid origin of life, proposed the artifact hypothesis which suggested that the ancestral forms to the Cambrian fossils existed, but were not fossilized in layers that could be uncovered. Instead, they were fossilized in deep-sea sediments. As Meyer suggests, this was essentially a “negative argument that attempted to explain away the absence of evidence,” but was better than Darwin’s explanation in that it could be tested. It was. As oil companies drilled offshore, they did not find Precambrian fossils, and geologists realized that marine sedimentary rock, because of subduction, will have too short a life span to provide any evidence of Precambrian fossils. The place to look is on the continents where they are already lacking.
Meyer features the work of J. Y. Chen who explored older Cambrian fossils near the town of Chengjiang in China. This discovery revealed that animals appeared even more rapidly than previously thought. Asked by a professor whether he was reluctant to contradict Darwin, he said that in China one can criticize Darwin but not the government while in America one can criticize the government but not Darwin. University of Chicago paleontologist Michael Foote, applying statistics to fossil research, suggested that, since so many fossils in the Precambrian have not documented intermediate links, it would be highly unlikely that intermediates would be found in the future. So why not admit that Darwin’s theory is faulty?
As a result of this failed theory, evolutionists turned to another questionable theory – punctuated equilibrium. I ran across this theory years ago when I bought Steven Stanley’s The New Evolutionary Timetable whose message is that jumps between animal forms are the rule and not the exception. These jumps are not considered disproof of Darwin’s theory; instead, punctuated equilibrium claims that is what evolution would expect.
Meyer’s take on punctuated equilibrium is that such an explanation for the origin of life is no better either. The arrangement of animals in the Cambrian does not testify to a gradual development from simpler organisms to more advanced forms. Rather, the more advanced ones appeared right away. Second, the fossil record is dominated by stasis, and any process that generates stasis is not one that can generate rapid changes. While trying to cope with these problems, Stephen Gould simply reiterated that he did not doubt that natural selection is capable of generating new life forms.
While reading Meyer’s book, as far as I am into it, I am struck by one theme running through evolutionist literature – a theme I have seen outside his book. A theory is proposed that can account for the origin of life in a way that counters Biblical creationism, but new discoveries do not reveal evidence for this theory. Excuses are constantly made for the paucity of the evidence even to the point of proposing evidence for evolution that is at odds with what Darwin proposed as evidence. No matter what happens, an evolutionist explanation for life is never allowed to be falsified. Meyer compares Walcott to a defense attorney stumbling upon a room full of clues that discredit his client but continues to have absolute faith in him. The same applies to all evolutionists and Darwin’s essential theory.