The Fossil Record arguments by creationists

February 8, 2009

“There are no transitional forms in the Fossil Record.”

This is a most false and ignorant statement made that is used to argue against evolution. Firstly, it is used to ‘disprove’ evolution. In order to disprove an idea in science, you must find some evidence against it. A lack of evidence, which with the fossil record there isn’t by the way, does not disprove an idea. It may be a case of not looking hard enough, looking in the wrong places, or looking for the completely wrong thing, that can lead to certain fossils not being found. So, even if there was a lack of evidence in the fossil record, which we shall see is a false claim, that still wouldn’t be enough to disprove evolution. The fossil record is actually very strong in supporting evolution; stronger than most people think. There are literally hundreds of millions of fossils that have been found and displayed in Universities and Museums, which all irrefutably support evolution. The claim regarding the ‘lack of transitional forms’, or lack of so called ‘missing links’ is also an ignorant claim.

Firstly, every fossil is a transitional one. Since species change over time, with no ‘ultimate end’, every species is a ‘transition’ between ancestral and future descendant species. However, there are many transitions that we have beautiful fossils for, such as the land mammal to whale transition, or the evolution of the horse, and even us, Homo sapiens. Secondly, how does one define a ‘missing link’? For instance, it is common to be asked to see an ape to human transition. However, transitions are so smooth, that even paleontologists themselves argue over where to draw the boundary between one species and another. To demand a single transitional form is demonstrating a misunderstanding of evolution. Humans are apes! Going back in time, you would observe a smooth spectrum of changes, perhaps with a few slightly bigger changes in between, where the difference between one ‘change’ and another would be difficult to distinguish. This is similar to the analogy of a rainbow that is illustrated in the ‘Biggest Misconceptions of Evolution’ post.

It is also expected of paleontologists to find a fossil for every morphological change that has occured within the evolutionary history of an organism. This is nonsense; a lot of changes occur in the soft tissue of an organism, which degrades away over time, leaving no trace whatsoever. Secondly, not all changes occur one by one, in a stepwise manner. This notion is false. A lot of evolutionary changes occur in tandem with other changes, so to ask for a fossil for every individual change that has occured in an organism’s evolutionary history is an incorrect request. Thirdly, not everything actually fossilizes! It’s surprising how strong the accumulated evidence is considering this fact, and actually speaks wonders about the evidence for evolution.

Fourthly, not every fossil has or may be found. Opponents of evolution often use this fact to argue that gaps in the fossil record mean that evolution has not taken place. But this idea can be turned around in order to illustrate the fallacy of this argument;

“Can you find the dead remains of every ancestor that you have had, back to the time of the Julius Caesar?”

Even with all the resources in the world, this feat would never be accomplised. Why? Because not every body has been buried, and those that have been will not all be found. This is just a simply analogy, and if one so wishes to argue against this, then they are welcome to attempt to find every ancestor they have had since the time of Julius Caesar. But let us assume that you have seen the logic behind the argument. What would you conclude? That because there is a lack of  certain ancestors being found, they would not have existed?! That would be impossible, because their non-existence would also mean your non-existence. Although this sounds silly, which of course it is, this is the argument that creationists are applying to the fossil record for many species.

Universities and museums store hundreds of thousands of fossils, and they provide a wonderful opportunity to be able to look and examine the evidence for evolution hands on.

//img.photobucket.com/albums/v668/maryscottoconnor/MLW%20Pics/whalecladogram0ns.gif).

This illustration depicts the various species that were intermediate between a modern day whale and it's land mammal ancestor (Figure taken from http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v668/maryscottoconnor/MLW%20Pics/whalecladogram0ns.gif).

//www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Equid_evolution_in_color.gif).

This figure shows how the modern day horse evolved from earlier ancestors (Figure taken from http://www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Equid_evolution_in_color.gif).

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One Response to “The Fossil Record arguments by creationists”

  1. kkob said

    Very good post there sir!

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