Is there any evidence for evolution?
Last month we addressed a related question, “What is the best evidence for evolution?”
Before addressing any serious questions about evolution we need to define what we mean by “evolution”. I am referring not just to change over time, but to the idea of “molecules-to-man” evolution. That is, non-living molecules formed a living cell, which then changed into human beings over a period of almost 4 billion years.
As I often do with my questions, I won’t be addressing this from the expected angle, but rather, will be making a point about the “bigger picture”. I will make a few comments about “evidence” and then we’ll look at an example.
Science never really “proves” anything, particularly when dealing with events that happened in the distant past when no one was around to see them happen and we can’t reproduce them in the present. We simply come up with ideas (guesses and assumptions) about what may have happened and then seek evidence that could be legitimately considered to be supportive of our ideas. All facts must be interpreted in order to have any real meaning or be potentially considered as evidence for something. What’s interesting is that we must use our pre-existing bias (or starting points, worldview, presuppositions, etc.) as a basis for making our interpretations. If our starting point is wrong or faulty, we will end-up being incorrect in our assessment of the facts most of the time.
A scientist might look at two creatures in the fossil record, and noticing the significant differences, claim how powerful evolution is to have caused these changes over time. (He or she is assuming that evolution is true – part of their starting point or worldview – and then looking at “change” as “evidence” that evolution is true.) Somewhat circular in nature and is also a logical fallacy called “begging the question”. What’s even more interesting is that when a scientist sees the same creature at greatly separated distances in the fossil record (i.e. representing supposedly millions of years in between) and these creatures seem virtually identical, they say it’s amazing how evolution is able to preserve these creatures over such a long period of Earth’s history! You can’t have it both ways (i.e. change is evidence for evolution and no change is evidence for evolution).
According to University of California-Berkeley:
“At the heart of evolutionary theory is the basic idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time.”
“Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago.”
[“Understanding Evolution” http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/0_0_0/lines_01]
For the purpose of this article, we will look at just one line of evidence they purport to be strongly persuasive that evolution is true… the fossil record. Again, from UC-Berkeley:
“The fossil record provides snapshots of the past that, when assembled, illustrate a panorama of evolutionary change over the past four billion years. The picture may be smudged in places and may have bits missing, but fossil evidence clearly shows that life is old and has changed over time.”
Darwin himself (writing in his book, Origin of Species) stated:
"So that the number of intermediate and transitional links, between all living and extinct species, must have been inconceivably great. But assuredly, if this theory be true, such have lived upon the earth."
“Why then is not every geological formation and every strata full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory.”
The problem has not been solved, even though we’re told that it is no longer an issue… they supposedly have plenty of intermediate forms. In reality, all they have is a small handful that are all questionable, when they should have countless clear examples.
One such supposed example is “Pakicetus”, the alleged transitional ancestor to modern whales. They originally claimed it was “perfectly intermediate, a missing link between earlier land mammals and later, full-fledged whales.” (Gingerich, P.D., The whales of Tethys, Natural History, p. 86, April 1994.) That conclusion all from just a few skull bones!
Today, after discovering more bones, all evidence indicates that Pakicetus was definitely a land mammal and not any kind of creature that lived in the water.
We could go through each alleged transitional form, or the other lines of alleged evidence (homology, genetics, etc.) and show how each of their interpretations is faulty and often based on the assumption that evolution is true (again, begging the question).
In reality, the more research that is done, the more we discover huge challenges to the idea of evolution. Does that mean the “theory” will eventually go away? Not likely… they will just continue to be creative and always interpret whatever they see as being in support of what they already believe to be true. They may question a few details along the way, but never question the factuality of evolution itself. Future articles will discuss other alleged evidences as time permits.
As with all of our other articles, much more could be said about this, but if you have any questions related to this month’s article or any other issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!