Science in Christian Perspective
PALEONTOLOGIC EVIDENCE AND ORGANIC EVOLUTION
The existence and significance of paleontologic evidence, and arguments for or against the validity of organic evolution.
JOHN N. MOORE ROGER J. CUFFEY
From: JASA 24 (December 1972): 160-176.
This is the second in a series of Dialogues to be presented in the pages of the Journal ASA. Each published Dialogue is the result of many months of correspondence and feedback between the participants, during which time every effort is mode to eliminate extraneous claims and criticisms.
Like the first Dialogue, this second discussion is also concerned
with that perennial
topic: evolution. Such discussions of evolution may be broken down
into at least
four sub-groups. First there is the discussion of the possibility of evolution
in view of the Scriptural revelation; this was the subject of the
published in the June 1972 issue of the journal AS\, Second there is
this is the purpose of this Dialogue-of whether the available evidence indicates
that evolution has taken place. Third is the consideration of how evolution could have occurred. And finally there is
of the compatibility of an acceptance of organic evolution with a
Attempts to intermix these four basic questions so as to confuse
can only result in misunderstanding.
Readers continue to inquire as to why we bother to discuss the question of evolution, reliving as it were the days of the Scopes trial in a day far removed in sympathy and need. Our answer must be that see exist to serve our readers, and it is clear that a sizable minority of our readers consider evolution not only to be a vexing problem, hot even one of ultimate and vital concern to their Christian life. Without belaboring the subject inappropriately, therefore, we hope that our occasional excursions into this area will prove beneficial to our readers.
THE POSITION OF JOHN N. MOORE
Cuffey's Critique of Moore's Position
(Professor John N. Moore is in the Department of Natural Science at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48823. He is Go-editor of Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 1970 and Managing Editor of the Creation Research Society Quarterly.)
Introduction and Definitions
Over 110 years after the publication of Charles Darwin's book, The Origin of Species on November 24, 1859, we hear and read, repeatedly, about evolution stated as fact, in unhesitating fashion, by leading evolutionists. Julian Huxley has said so in as many words on many occasions and in written form. In 1959, Fluxicy claimed even that the universe had evolved, the earth had evolved, life evolved, man evolved, and man's culture in sum total had evolved.
In 1966, the now deceased Hermann Muller was instrumental in gaining signatures of close to 200 prominent scientists in support of the idea that evolution is as well established as the rotundity of the earth. And Theodosius Dohzhansky has said that evolution is as well established as anything could be, according to all those who are in full possession of the data available.
Little room for credibility seems left for that minority of scientists (See Olson, 1960), who assert quite boldly that evolution is illogical and not at all biological. Nor is some imaginary credibility gap reduced much by someone challenging Gavin de Beer, who has maintained in print that the certainty of evolution is comparable to that of the system of Copernicus, or that of Newton. Yet, I will assert that evolution is not at all comparable to the systems of either Copernicus or Newton with regard to logical precision or probative strength. What can be the basis of such an allegation?
Actually many, many evolutionists believe that evolution is comparable to the Newtonian theory in logical precision and probative value, essentially because they equate evolution with natural selection. Evidently evolutionists labor under this impression because they feel as de Beer, i.e.,
Only ignorance, neglect of truth, or prejudice could actuate those who in the present state of knowledge, without discovering new facts in the laboratory and in the field, seek to impugn the scientific evidence for evolution. (de Beer, 1958)
But a close, rigorous check of the de Beer article explicates the fact that he
has equated literally the term "natural selection" with
and then subsequently proceeded to substitute for "natural
the term "evolution". And de Beer and many, many evolutionists make
the tacit assumption that substantial experimental and field data that may be
used to support the concept of natural selection are also useful as support for
Thus I find it necessary to raise questions of logical exegesis with regard to primary methodological issues associated with evolutionary theory and interpretations of several groups of physical data. It would be possible to offer extensive discourse around such topics as: a) use and abuse of ad hoc hypotheses, b) ex post facto explanations, c) the problem of definitions, d) methodological requirements of genuine scientific hypotheses, e) probability arguments involved in evolution theory, and f) the problem of untestable hypotheses.
Also I find it necessary to explicate the failure of many, many evolutionists to recognize overtly the definite limitations of scientific methodology. As time-binding organisms, human beings functioning as scientists are still limited in observational capacity beyond naked eye study to whatever extensions are possible through microscopes, telescopes, ultra-speed films, spectroscopes, and similar instrumentation. And direct physical data for the historical period of the past may be studied in archeology and similar work only some 3,000 years before the present. Thus all discussion about origin of the universe, the earth, life, man, and man's culture-a la the previously mentioned statement by Huxley-is pure conjecture.
As background to a discussion of physical evidence and evolution, an explication of the meaning of the word "science" or an answer to the question, "What is science?", is apropos. Of course the word "science" comes from the Latin for knowledge; and, according to a common dictionary definition, science is knowledge attained through study or practice. But this definition is obviously much too broad to be of much value. For a more coherent definition we find:
Any body of doctrine or collection of truths is scientific to the extent that it yields the power to predict in relation to the subject matter of its choice. ( Somerville, 1941)
And a decade later the following definition was offered:
Science is an interconnected series of concepts and conceptual schemes that have developed as a result of cxperimentation and observation and are fruitful of further experimentation and observation. (Conant, 1951)
And thirdly the Oxford Dictionary contains this formal definition:
A branch of study which is concerned either with a connected body of demonstrated truths or with observed facts systematically classified and more or less colligated by being brought under general laws, and which includes trustworthy methods for the discovery of new truth within its own domain.
Thus, from these three definitions scientific activity involves the search for facts that can be observed or demonstrated, and laws which have been demonstrated also, by means of trustworthy methods of discovery. Then at the core of scientific method or methods is experimental repeatability or reproducibility. Other synonyms for this core idea are predictability and/or control. As a leading paleontologist has pointed out:
The important distinction between science and those other systemizations (i.e., the arts, philosophy, and theology) is that science is self-testing and self-correcting. The testing and correcting are done by means of observations that can be repeated with essentially the same results by normal persons operating by the same methods and with the same approach. (Emphasis added) (Sinspson, 1962)
Therefore, the heart of scientific method is the
And, necessarily, the scientific method involves predictions. And predictions,
to be useful in scientific methodology must be subject to test empirically. But
is this the case with regard to the theory of evolution? Are
that are repeatable?
Thus, many scientists who have critically analyzed the theory of evolution have found that a General Theory of Evolution must be distinguished from a Special Theory of Evolution. (See Kerkut, 1960)
A proponent of the General Theory of Evolution, which is the "Amoeba to Man" thesis, would state that all living things in the world have arisen from a single source that came from an inorganic beginning. Thus, according to the General Theory of Evolution, the first living cell "evolved" into complex muticellular forms of life, these gave rise to all forms of invertebrates; in turn, invertebrates "evolved" into vertebrates; fish into amphihia, amphibia into reptiles, reptiles into birds and mammals, early mammals into primates, and finally primates "evolved" into man. Without question this is the basic meaning of the term "evolution" for most people.
However, a proponent of the Special Theory of Evolution would state that many living plants and animals can be observed, over the course of time, to undergo changes so that new varieties are formed.
Presentation of the General Theory of Evolution as fact has no basis in science. The General Theory of Evolution is totally without foundation in physical evidence as is shown presently.
But a final word of introduction is needed. I assert that evolutionists, who speak and write as "historical" geologists or biologists, do so as men who present their imagined narratives about the so-called geological past, and produce imagined narratives about supposed phylogenetic trees of living things. Geologists, especially, must be reminded constantly that they study only the present. Then they interpret and extrapolate about the past, and in so doing they leave empirical science.
Yet, such imagined narratives have been offered for a very long time in geology textbooks as "accounts" of past "history" of living things. Such imagined narratives have been presented so persuasively, for such a long time, that most geologists, paleontologists, and biologists have come to accept them as fact, as if the events imagined and the supposed changes in living things had occurred actually. Thus, we find Huxley, Muller, Dobzhansky, and Simpson in the lead as spokesmen for the position that general evolution is fact.
The Real Situation
What is the real situation? Just what is the situation about general evolution as fact? The real situation is that discussion about general evolutionary thought or theory involves a paradigm case of the "interminable dispute" in scientific discourse. Discussion about general evolution is plainly a conceptual dispute, or a quarrel of faiths. There is no experimentum crucis possible. And there is no need for new physical evidence as de Beer would have his readers believe. There are no private facts for evolutionists; and no private facts for scientists who are not disciples of the Evolutionary Faith. Disagreements' are conceptual in nature, and not factual in character. The same physical data of the geological record, animal breeding records, and plant breeding records are used by both evolutionists and other scientists.
Also, the real situation could he phrased in terms of "conflict questions", as was done in the doctoral thesis, "Methodological Issues in Evolutionary Theory", by Wing Meng lb for his 1965 degree at Oxford University. Dr. Ho maintains that these conflict questions are no longer problems of science, but problems in philosophy. We do not need more physical evidence as per de Beer for conflict questions that center in such dichotomies as, 1) mechanism versus vitalism, 2) mechanistic versus organismic biology, 3) non-teleological versus teleological approaches, or 4) non-evolutionary versus evolutionary origin of matter and life.
Ho sees that empirical versus mm-empirical questions must be faced, when conflict questions are formulated. And theories of general evolution involve conflict questions about origin that are quite non-empirical. Rather than collection of more facts, solution or dissolution of conflict questions on origins and general evolution require analysis and clarification of points at issue according to a particular viewpoint re meanings, definitions or interpretations'. Resolution of conflict questions will not come by gaining new physical evidence, but by making decisions of intent to construe and apply certain key-terms in some definite manner. Such key-terms might he listed as,
1. cause, or causes
But, in the main, evolutionists seem unaware of, or uninterested in, precision of definitions. This seems especially true when evolutionists equate "evolution" and "natural selection", or equivocate "evolution" and "variation". Or when evolutionary biochemists indiscriminately interchange "create" and "synthesize", or "creation and "synthesis". Such neglect of detail seems contradictory to the spirit of empirical science.
When scientists criticize general evolutionary thought or the use of terms by evolutionists, when they raise objections to teaching general evolution as fact, as if it were or is observable, they are merely insisting on elementary scientific procedures. The very essence of suspended judgment, as an attitude of scientists, and further the self correctiveness of scientific methodology (which is so often pointed to as a criterion to separate science from other disciplines of man, as per Simpson above), are both properly served when scientists ask pointed conflict questions above general evolutionary theory or thought.
Scientists, who criticize evolution, experience conflict when they ask questions such as, "If a machine is the result of a draftsman and engineer, and if the draftsman and engineer are the result of their genetic codes, then what is the organizing principle or pattern for these genetic codes?" If this question is pushed back far enough to involve the concept of beginning, or origin, then solution or dissolution of that conflict question will come only after certain key-terms are consistently employed by evolutionists.
In sum, then, with regard to the real situation, many scientists maintain that theories of general evolution are not suitable for the study of origin, whether concern is for the origin of the universe, the earth, life, man, or man's culture. It would seem that something as important to scientists as the origin of the universe should not be discussed in basic terms which are employed in a contradictory manner.
"Evidences" for General Evolution Examined
Therefore, it becomes necessary to examine the broad theory of general organic evolution, which entails development of an imaginative narrative about the "history" of living things, about their origin and changes in the past to the present. The thesis of general organic evolution has been well known ever since Charles Darwin made it acceptable to the intelligentsia of his time. Specialists and non-specialists are acquainted with the evolutionary thesis that all living things came from organisms of the past which came from some least complex beginning and in turn from an inorganic origin. Thus, change in living things from least complex to most complex is the "end" involved in general evolution. But the "means" involved whereby that "end" supposedly was and is accomplished was imagined by Darwin to he "natural selection", and evolutionists still hold this to be a prime mechanism of change.
Darwin used major chapters of his hook to expound upon so-called "evidences" for general evolution and the same headings are useful today for reference to classified physical data as per the following: a) geological record (succession), b) morphological affinities, e) geographic distribution, d) embryological similarities, and e) rudimentary or vestigial organs. (Blood or protein analyses would be added by some today.)
At this point some scientists are quick to point out the practice of ex post facto explanations. No one has ever seen one type or form of an animal change into another type or form of an animal, and hence all use of physical evidence under the above headings partakes of the practice of formulating explanations after the fact. Darwin and all orthodox disciples of the Evolutionary Faith have diligently sought after physical evidence to substantiate the general evolutionary thesis already expressed simply as "Amoeba to Man", or as one high school textbook is subtitled: "Molecules to Man". Yet all discussion of so-called "evidences" under the above
mentioned headings is done after the fact. Hence the crucial point still remains that the basic concepts always involve untestable hypotheses.
And in terms of their methodological approach, scientists are obligated to point out that the entire structure of general evolutionary thought rests upon the geological record-the supposed historical record of what actually happened.
Yet the whole discussion of supposed succession of horses, or any other type or form of living thing as based upon the geological record, partakes unavoidably of the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore, because of it"). The fallacy involves the error of taking something as the cause for another thing merely because of being earlier in time. That is, merely because the remains of one kind of organism lie in a stratum under remains of another kind of organism, it does not necessarily follow that the "lower" is the cause (or ancestor) of the "upper".
Thus some scientists are attempting to construe and apply certain key-terms with regard to the geological record. Succession does not afford sufficient and necessary grounds for claiming one organism as the ancestor of another. (Succession in rock strata is not the same as clear genetic relationship established through interfertility tests, which many evolutionists hold as criteria for establishing the species concept.)
But most important of all is the fact that all of the physical "evidence" used by evolutionists under the above headings are made plausible and persuasive only because of one basic assumption. Underlying the geological record, morphological affinities, geographic distribution, embryological data, rudimentary organs, and blood or protein analyses is one basic assumption, i. e., the degree of relationship of organisms depends upon the degree of similarity of organisms. In short, if organisms look alike, then they are related, according to the degree of similarity. If organisms do not look alike then they are not related, or only distantly related, according to the degree of similarity. But, in no respect, as many scientists point out, are genetic relationships afforded the general evolutionary thinker by physical data grouped under the above headings. No genetic relationship is established through exercise of the assumption that the degree of relationship depends upon the degree of similarity.
And most conclusively, as far as methodological issues are concerned, only circumstantial evidence is involved throughout all the listings of classified physical evidences used to support evolution from "Amoeba to Man", or for that matter, from "Molecules to Man". Relationships expounded are purely conjectural because they cannot he tested. All these circumstantial evidences involve extrapolations quite beyond the realm of genuine scientific investigation, i. e., experimental analysis. All hypotheses of relationships of general evolutionary nature are untestable; and, therefore, are purely conjectural and speculative. It would appear, therefore, that these hypotheses are doomed forever to remain a part of the untestable dogma of the Evolutionary Faith.
At this point many scientists would open discussion of the validity of circumstantial evidences to the establishment of scientific truth. Being reminded that we cannot equate "natural selection" to "evolution", and we cannot equivocate "evolution" with "variation", critical scientists press hard on the fact that general evolutionary theorists, in using circumstantial evidences almost ex elusively, are involved with an important weakness and seriously irremediable defect in their thinking. This is their heavy dependence on the argument from analogy. An analogy can he given:
If (A) is known to have properties "P" and some additional property "R" and resembles (A), in that (A) is
known to have properties "P", then (A) is expected to have property "R".
Darwin depended on an analogy between artificial
selection and natural selection, as he discussed his supposed
mechanism for general
evolution. He formulated the reasoning that the artificial selection
of the breeder
and fancier of domestic animals, about which he could observe and gain actual
physical data, was analogous to his imagined natural selection of the
organisms for survival. But the analogy breaks down.
In the first place, artificial (breeder) selection must be accomplished in accordance with certain desired or determined criteria. The plant breeder has distinct characteristics which he wants to retain, improve, or even remove, if possible, for his particular desire (criteria). The breeder works with plants to bring about distinct departures in characters according to this design. This also is true of the animal breeder or fancier.
In the second place, proponents of the doctrine of natural selection state that it occurs without any set
criteria. There are no distinct characteristic changes planned or designed. Only the interaction of organism (s) (populations) and the environment are involved. Plants change according to wind pollination or as insect pollination occurs. Animals reproduce and control a territory and change according to interaction with the environment, somehow. There are no criteria. Furthermore, supposed changes are slight, minute, hardly noticeable variations of the genome. Actually most distinct departures (most mutants) are eliminated, and field and laboratory data are better interpreted that gene stability is the most proper conclusion from empirical data.
Artificial selection, therefore, is not analogous to natural selection, or vice versa. There is no resemblance between A and A' because the properties associated with A are different from the properties associated with A. Thus, there is no adequate comparison of artificial selection and supposed natural selection and the analogy fails.
Genetics as "Evidence" for General Evolution
As a last defense for general evolution, many will demand, "Well, what about genetics? Aren't evolutionists on the correct path when they use data from genetics to try to support their thesis of 'amoeba to man' evolution? Is it not true that variations have been shown to be transmissible?" Yes, "Is it not true that changes of genetic material have been shown to be of a fixed nature?" Yes. "Is it not true that changes of genetic material are constantly arising?" Yes.
But many scientists are asking, "Is there any evidence of empirical nature that favorable variations have ac
cumulated so as to effect overt general evolutionary changes?" Again, a conflict question has been reached, and the problem of defining the meaning of terms must be faced. "What is a viable mutation?" "What is a variation?" "What is an evolutionary change?"
Clearly, even evolutionists must admit that no new organs or organisms, re type or form, have come about by the shuffling and reshuffling of genes. It is true that the researcher may conclude from his experimental data that changes in eye color, in eye shape, in eye pattern in fruit flies do occur, but the eyes always remain Drosplnlia eyes, if that is the organism with which he deals in his research! Recombinations of genetic materials do not bring about new types or forms. Such changes are always within limits of known types or forms of organisms.
That inviolate genetic barriers exist between major groups of living things may be stated conclusively on the basis of available genetic evidence. Unbridgeable breeding gaps are known; no amount of reference to ploidy and or chromosomal rearrangements will truly erase the undeniable evidence that breeding gaps between major groups of living things do in point of fact actually exist.
Anyway any reference to different phenomena of ploidy and chromosomal rearrangements constitutes nothing more than ad hoc, untestable hypothesizing, as far as any attempt to explain any relationships between or among major groups of animals or major groups of plants is concerned. Absolutely no genetic connections are ever established between major groups of living things by means of any mechanisms involving ploidy and chromosomal rearrangements.
But there is another problem here. Are mutations, or more properly mutants, truly raw materials upon which "natural selection" operates, as is so commonly claimed by such as Theodosius Dobzhansky? lie has admitted that mutants do not of themselves involve anything new (Dobzhansky, 1953). Mutations are sources only of differences of characteristic expressions of traits already in existence, and not a source of new traits. Mutations result only in changes within the existing genetic structure. Therefore the fundamental genotype remains unchanged as far as traits are concerned.
Thus the contention so often heard and read that mutations supply the raw materials for "natural selection" to bring about "amoeba to man" evolution involves a whole hierarchy of ad hoc hypotheses, which are void of testability. Once again the untestable hypothesis is encountered, which is so common in general evolutionary theory or thought.
Since the vast majority of mutations are lethal or cause impairment of physiology of the organism, since the gene mutation hypothesis suffers from the difficulties of the pathological nature of and the great rarity of mutational changes, it follows that mutations are not useful as supporting evidence for general evolution, that is, "molecules to man". And public attestations to the "failure" of the mutational theory are appearing in print more and more. As one scientist has written: "But who can tell us how point mutations and sundry tape doublings, crossings, and writhings made the oak and squirrel, the gull and the gall by summing up the changes in many a piece of enzymes?" (Morrison, 1971 and Davis, 1970; Haskins, 1971)
Any hypotheses about "suppressor" genes (Fisher, 1932), undetected viable mutations (East, 1936), or changes in the evirmment favoring certain mutations (Dobzhaosky, 1953) must be labelled untestable. And a similar generalization can be made of more recent attempts to "explain" change of one kind of organism into another kind of organism by way of mutations and other gene manipulations.
Thus an important methodological issue with regard to physical evidence from genetics is the fact that the
favorite hypotheses of evolutionists fail to satisfy the criterion of testability, and because of this., they lie outride the realm of scientific investigation. In genetics, many scientists detect the repeated practice of ad hoc hypotheses, which are fully untestable, and detect heavy commitment by general evolutionists to extrapolation and interpretation of terms that are vague and ambiguous. "What is a viable mutation?" "What is a useful mutation?"
In considering for a moment that last question, a change of color in moths or alteration of food use by bacteria might be cited as results of "favorable" or "useful" gene mutations. Nevertheless such changes of moths or bacteria arc only within a certain genus, and not across limits of genera. Therefore, any thought to consider any so-called "favorable" gene mutations as possible mechanisms for changes across limits of known kinds, which are the type of changes required if the general theory of evolution is to he given any empirically sound basis, partakes again of dependence upon ad hoc, untestable hypotheses.
In summation, with regard to physical evidence from genetics, the point that needs to be emphasized over and over again is that minor changes can and do occur in living organisms, but the changes are always \vithin bounds of a certain type, form, or kind. And in passing, it should be noted that even in the fossil record, basic types, forms, and kinds are clearly recognizable even as we see them today in many, many examples.
Of course, this is in exact agreement with the pattern found in Genesis 1, that is, "after their kind", "after his kind". This can be extended by the statement that all the known physical evidences can be fitted into the Genesis account in great consistency with all the better scholarship; and this cars he done better by far than attempts to fit the physical evidence into imagined, speculative narratives of evolutionary theorists.
On the basis of the most rigorous scholarship, the conclusion is inescapable that no transitional forms of true genetic relationship or connection can be established from breeding records, which constitute the only truly repeatable, demonstrable physical evidence (hence really scientific). There is truly an irrefutable case that can he made for "fixity of kinds".
Because of failure to follow fundamental scientific procedures, especially with regard to origins, because of the extensive commitment of general evolutionists to sheer circumstantial evidences, because of the failure of mutational hypotheses to provide anything pertaining to truly new physical traits, it is clear that theories of general evolution are not suitable for the study of origins, whether concern centers on origin of the universe, the earth, life, man, or man's culture. And equally important, theories of general evolution cannot be presented as fact without implication in fraud and/or hoax.
Conant, James B. 1951 Science and common sense, New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 25.
Davis, Bernard. 1970 Prospects for genetic intervention in man, Science, 170, 18 December: 1279-1283.
de Beer, Gavin. 1958 The Darwin-Wallace centenary, Endeavor, April, p. 75.
Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1953 Genetics and the origin of species. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 296.
East, E.M. 1930 Genetic aspects of certain problems in evolution, American Naturalist, Vol. 70.
Fisher, Ronald. 1932 The genetic theory of selection. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Haskins, Caryl. 1971 Advances and challenges in science in 1970, American Scientist, 59, May-June: 298-307. (See especially "Molecules and evolution" section: 304-306.)
Ho, Wing Meng. 1965 Methodological Issues in Evolutionary Theory with Special Reference to Darwinism and Lamarekism. Oxford: Bodleian Library Oxford. (Shelfmark: Ms. D. Phil. d. 3591. Photographic order no. BPC 7442, Oxford University Press.)
Kerkut, CA. 1960 Implications of evolution. New York: Pergamon Press.
Morrison, Philip. 1971 Book Review, Scientific American, 224 (5), May: 128.
Olson, E.C. 1960 (in) Evolution alter Darwin, Vol. 1. Edited by Sol Tax. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 523.
Simpson, CC. 1961, 1962 Notes on the nature of science by a biologist (in) Simpson, CC. and Others (Editors) Notes on the nature of science. New York: Harcourt. Brace and World, Inc., p. 9.
Sommerville, John. 1941 Umbrellaology, or methodology in social science, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 8: 560.
Cuffey's Critique of Moore's Position
The critical role of paleontologic evidence in demonstrating organic evolution
to the satisfaction of the scientific community seems largely
overlooked by writers
of Moore's persuasion. Consequently, presenting such evidence here in
fashion seems to me to he the most useful contribution which these papers can
make toward resolving the evolution controversy.
Moreover, the arguments used against this paleontologic evidence by anti-evolutionists like Moore are woefully lacking, because they rest upon misunderstanding or oversimplification of actual paleontologic procedures. Four brief comments suffice to elaborate this point.
First, as an example, Moore's suggestion that the stratigraphic succession of fossils is logically fallacious is hated upon a grossly and erroneously oversimplified view of the nature of the fossil record. As explained previously in my position paper, it is important not only that one organism's remains lie below those of another. It is also essential, for demonstration of evolutionary relationship between the two, that the intervening strata contain other fossils which grade continuously in both morphology and ehronologic-stratigraphic position from the lower to the upper form.
Similarly, as a second example, the curious notion that studying past events involves only speculation and untestable hypotheses reflects serious ignorance. Actual paleontologic practice is in fact dominated by observational investigation of the fossil materials which would have been produced under various possible circumstances, in an attempt to determine how nature most probably did behave in the past.
Third, as previously indicated, the paleontologic record provides an immense and overwhelming quantity of evidence supporting evolutionary concepts. In general, retreat into oversimplified philosophical arguments against such a massive body of verifiable observational evidence suggests strongly an inability to convincingly counter the clear implications of that evidence.
Fourth, Moore states that disagreements concerning evolution are "quarrels of faiths". In contrast, as indicated earlier, I believe that such disagreements are readily resolvable by scientific data. I sincerely hope that those of his persuasion will reject one possible implication of his statement-namely, that no matter what relevant evidence is newly presented to them, they will not consider the implications of that evidence! Retaining open minds about controversial concepts is necessary, until sufficient evidence accumulates. However, enough scientific evidence is already at hand to remove any reasonable doubt about the validity of the concept of organic evolution.
Other points raised by Moore are adequately covered in my position paper, and therefore need not he repeated here.
In rebuttal to Cuffey's critique, I assert that I am quite aware of "the
critical role of paleontologic evidence" with regard to supposed organic
evolution. It is my concern about misuses of such information that prompts me
to point out again that no demonstration empirically of general evolution has
been accomplished. To allude to the "satisfaction of the
seems to me to be no more than an appeal to the fallacious idea that truth is
a matter of voting.
The "scientific community" was satisfied with the Copernican formulations; and yet, Kepler wrought great and significant changes. The scientific majority was satisfied with Newtonian physics; and yet, Einstein wrought great and significant changes. Contemporary scientists of Charles Darwin were at one moment satisfied with their interpretations of Genesis 1; and yet, Darwin wrought great and significant changes.
It is just because of my understanding and appreciation of the complexity of actual paleontological procedures that I make bold to tell it like it is, and urge fellow colleagues in the scientific community today to realize, that now is the time for all scientists to reconsider general evolution. A period of over 110 years, since Darwin's book appeared, is time enough to insist that evolutionists either put up hard physical evidence for general evolution, or else yield in their arrogant dogmatism in writing and teaching about general evolution as fact. To challenge scientists in astronomy, biochemistry, botany, embryology, geology, paleontology, and zoology to provide hard physical evidence is done in the spirit of self-correctiveness of scientific endeavor mentioned in the Simpson quote in the Introduction of my position paper.
And Cuffey's use again of such words as "demonstration", "observational", and "implications" in his critique must be challenged. He did not write of, and he cannot provide, any empirical demonstration of genetic lineage between or across limits of kinds of organism. He joins his reference to "observational" with "possible" and "probable" and thus provides further basis for my case that he does deal inescapably in "speculation and untestable hypotheses". And when he asks that critics of evolution consider the implications of physical evidence, I offer that I have done just that per my position paper, and I repeat that the real situation that prevails is total absence of any physical evidence upon which to base the General Theory of Evolution. Any discussion of change of species or genetic variation within limits of kinds of organisms must never be confused with general evolution.
To speak of "validity", as Cuffey does in his next to closing statement of his critique, leads directly to the whole thrust of my criticisms of any presentation of general evolution as fact.
There is immense "reasonable doubt" about the validity of general evolution. There is immense "reasonable doubt" that general evolution has ever occurred. All of the physical data from comparative anatomy, comparative embryology, rudimentary (vestigial) organs, blood and protein analyses, Mendelian and population genetics, and the fossil record may be fitted more validly into the creation account of Genesis 1, than into any speculative, imaginative narrative of men about general evolution.
I hope sincerely that those of Cuffey's persuasion will reject one possible implication of his statement before concluding his position paper, that Christians "will need to integrate evolutionary process into their views as being the proximate means which Cod uses to create various forms of life"-namely, the implication that the ways of men, the ideas of men, the traditions of the world must be given credence over the ways of Christ, who said, "male and female created he them". If Christians accept the ideas of men about general evolution, then they may be consciously or unconsciously beguiled (Cal. 2:8 and Eph. 4:14) to accept a human substitute about origins for the Word of God, which is the one and only source of unchanging answers for people of all generations about origins of the universe, the earth, life, man, and man's culture.
Today, Christians can declare confidently that "fixity of kinds" is the scientifically documented prediction from the creation model, that is, supported by all physical evidence. And "fixity of kinds" might well be understood as the modern day equivalent of the Biblical "after his kind" or "after their kind".
THE POSITION OF ROGER J. CUFFEY
Moore's Critique of Cuffey's Position
(Professor Roger I. Cuffey is active in the field of paleontology, and is in the Department of Geosciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802.)
Practicing paleontologists today, regardless of personal philosophical outlook, unanimously agree that the varied organisms inhabiting the earth originated by a process of gradual, continuous development or evolution over long periods of prehistoric time. Because the case for organic evolution had been adequately demonstrated in the late 1800's (principally by paleontologic evidence), scientists in this century turned their attention to many other important subjects. Consequently, most have been surprised by (Lewontin, 1971) and also illprepared to cope with the recent reappearance of anti-evolutionary ideas (such as Morris, 1963; Moore, 1970a, 1970h, 1971a, 1971h; Moore & Slusher, 1971). Therefore, presenting the paleontologic evidence relevant to the concept of evolution is most timely, particularly for an audience like that of the Journal ASA.
The participants in the current controversy about evolution seemingly agree that fossils (the study of which comprises the science of paleontology) are the remains (or direct traces) of formerly living organisms, preserved in the earth's crust since prehistoric times. This conclusion is incontrovertibly supported by the complete spectrum observable within the earth's crust between recently dead organisms and highly altered fossils.
In addition to the morphology of fossils, a paleontologist studies also various aspects of their distribution within the earth's crust, As Van de Fliert (1969) has ably discussed, the rock layers comprising that crust reveal a chronological framework (usually stated succinctly as the standard geological time scale) for the earth's history. This basic framework, founded upon repeatable observations of the succession of rock strata, is quite independent of any concept of organic evolution (Van de Fliert, 1969, p. 75, 77); in fact, the standard time scale historically was worked out half a century before evolution was proposed and demonstrated.
As a consequence, we can examine the fossils entombed in chronologically successive rock layers, and thereby learn what organisms inhabited this planet during successive intervals of past geologic time. When we do this, we find that the fossils naturally form sequences showing gradual and continuous morphologic changes from earlier forms to later forms of life, sequences which make evolutionary interpretations ultimately inescapable.
As working paleontologists interested in the history of particular organisms, we locate for detailed study a relatively thick succession of fossil-bearing rock layers whose observable physical features indicate continuous and uninterrupted deposition over a comparatively long time interval. We next examine those layers for
the fossils in which we are interested. We initially find a few fossils, scattered widely among the different layers. Studying these specimens usually shows noticeable morphological differences between ones from various geologic ages, differences which we recognize formally in progress reports by referring the specimens to different species, genera, etc., depending upon the magnitude of those differences. Continued field collecting from the rock strata intervening between any two successive forms thus described frequently produces a series of fossils which begin with the earlier form, change in morphology gradually and continuously as we proceed upward, and end up with the later form. Because these new fossils demonstrate a morphological and parallel chronological transition from the earlier form to the later form, they are termed "transitional fossils".
Examples of Transitional Fossils
If we read the paleontologic literature (especially if with the background of professional paleootologic training and experience; Cuffey, 1970, p. 93), we find that the fossil record contains many examples of such transitional fossils. These connect both low-rank taxa (like different species) and high-rank taxa (like different classes), in spite of the record's imperfections and in spite of the relatively small total number of practicing paleontologists. Because of the critical role which transitional fossils played in convincing scientists of the occurrence of organic evolution, paleontologists have been appalled that many otherwise wellinformed persons have repeated the grossly misinformed assertion that transitional fossils do not exist. Consequently, after a relatively brief and non-exhaustive search of the literature immediately available to me, I compiled the examples of transitional fossils presented here. At least enough of these can be readily examined by anyone seriously interested in this topic that he can be convinced of their implications, I believe; collectively, they (and the many other similar ones which more extended search would find) comprise a massive body of evidence which cannot he ignored or explained away.
Although the broad patterns and many details in the history of life are well known, many other details remain to be learned. Because of the unevenness of our knowledge, therefore, we can conveniently distinguish several different types of transitional-fossil situations. Let us consider these now, starting with that situation where our knowledge is most complete, and proceeding through situations in which knowledge is progressively less complete.
First, some groups have been so thoroughly studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils which grade continuously from one species to another without break (Table 1), sometimes linking several successive species which cross from one higher taxon into another (Table 2). We can say that situations of this kind display transitional individuals. Among the many available examples of transitional individuals, some particularly convincing examples can be noted.
carols (Carruthers, 1910, p. 529, 538; Easton, 1960, p. 175; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 140; Weller, 1969, p. 123),
gastropods (Fisher, Rodda, & Dietrieh, 1964),
peleczjpods (Kauffman, 1967; Kauffman, 1969, p. N198-200; Kauffman, 1970, p. 633),
echinoids (Beerbower, 1968, p. 136, 138; Kermack, 1954; Nichols, 19S9a, 1959h; Olson, 1965, p. 98; Rowe, 1899).
Second, other fossil groups have been well enough studied that we know sequences of transitional fossils comprising a series of chronologically successive species grading from an early form to a later form (Table 3), again sometimes crossing boundaries separating different higher taxa (Table 4). This type of situation can be termed successive species. Published descriptions of successive species lack explicit discussion of individuals transitional between the species, although frequently such exist in the author's collection but are not discussed because they are not directly pertinent to his purposes. Again, some especially persuasive examples of successive species can he seen, among:
forominiferons (Wilde, 1971, p. 376),
brachiopods (Greiner, 1957; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 124),
pelecppods (llastoo, 1960, p. 348; Kay & Colbert, 1965, p. 327; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 447; Newell, 1942, p. 21, 42, 47-48, 51-52, 60, 63, 65; Olson, 1965, p. 97; Stenzel, 1949; Stenzel, 1971, p. N1079-1080; Weller, 1969, p. 209),
ammouoids (Cobhan, 1961, is. 740-741).
In many fossil groups, our understanding is relatively less complete,
rise to a third type of situation which we can label successive
higher taxa. Here,
we may not have complete series of transitional individuals or
but the genera (or other higher taxa) represented in our collections
form a continuous
series grading from an earlier to a later form, sometimes crossing from one higher-rank taxon into another
(Table 5). Because
genera are relatively restricted in scope, many series of successive
been published. However, families and higherrank higher taxa are so
broad in concept
that they are not usually used to construct transitional-fossil
occasionally they are (Bulman, 1970, p. V103-104; Easton, 1960, p. 436; Flower
& Kummel, 1950, p. 607).
Finally, in some fossil groups, our knowledge is quite fragmentary and sparse. We then may know of particular fossils which are strikingly intermediate
Table 1. Examples of transitional individuals grading continuously
species within the same higher taxon (genus).
Algae: Gartner, 1971.
Angiosperms: Chandler, 1923, p. 124, 132-133; Chancy, 1949, p. 197-198; Stebbins, 1949, p. 230-231.
Forominiferans: Barnard, 1963, p. 82, 90; BauzerChcmousova, 1963, p. 48.
Corals: Carruthers, 1910, p. 529, 538; Cocke, 1970, o
13 Raston, 1960, p. 175; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 140; Ross & Ross, 1962, p. 1182-1184; Weller, 1969, p. 123.
Bryozoans: Coffey, 1967, p. 38-39; Coffey, 1971a, p. 158; Coffey, 1971b, p. 38; Elias, 1937, p. 311, 317.
Brachiopods: Ziegler, 1966, p. 532.
Gastropods: Fisher, Rodda, & Dietrieh, 1964; Lull, 1940, p. 19; SohI, 1967, p. B12-13, B1516; Thomson, 1925, p. 96.
Pelecypods: Charles, 1949; Charles & Maubeuge, 1952, 1953a, 1953h; Heaslip, 1968, p. 58, 69, 77-79; Imlay, 1959; Kauffman, 1965, p. 8-21; Kauffman, 1967; Kauffman, 1969, p. N198-200; Kauffman, 1970, p. 633; Kay & Colbert, 1965, p. 325; Lerman, 1965, p. 416, 431-432; MacNeil, 1965, p. G35-36, C42; Raop & Stanley, 1971, p. 191, 257; Stenrel, 1971, p. N1077; WaIler, 1969, p. 26.
Ammanaids: Cohhao, 1958, p. 114; Cobban, 1962a, 1962h; Cobban, 1969, p. 6; Cahban & Reeside, 1952, p. 1020-1022; Easton, 1960, p. 456.
Trilobites: Broower, 1967, p. 152-155; Kaufmano, 1933, 1935; Raop & Stanley, 1971, p. 292; Simpson, 1953, p. 250.
Echiooids: Beerbower, 1968, p. 136, 138; Durham, 1971, p. 1126-1127; Hall, 1962; Kermaek, 1954;
Nichols, 1959a, 1959b; Olson, 1965, p. 98; Rowe, 1899.
Conodonts: Clark, 1968, p. 21-23; Scott & Callinsan, 1959, p. 562.
Marnosols: Osborn, 1929, p. 20-21; Simpson, 1953, p. 387-388; Teilbard de Chardin, 1950; Trevisan, 1949; Watson, 1949, p. 47; Wood, 1949, p. 188-189.
Table 2. Examples of transitional individuals grading continuously
species and crossing from one higher taxon into another.
Cinkgophytes; Andrews, 1961, p. 337-339; Brown, 1943, p. 863; Franz, 1943, p. 323; Scagel et at,
1965,1). 484; Seward, 1938; Weller, 1969, P. 66.
Angiosperms: Chancy, 1949, p. 193-199; Elias, 1942, p. 70-71, 88-89, 109-122; Stehhins, 1949, p. 230.
Foramiferans: Banner & Blow, 1959, p. 21; Barnard, 1963, p. 86, 88-89; Gimbrede, 1962, p. 1112-1123; Jones, 1956, 1). 274; Papp, 1963, p. 352353 Woodland, 1958, p. 803-808; Zeller, 1950, p. 19.
Brachiopods: Boocot & Ehiers, 1963, p. 48-51.
Pelecypods: Newell, 1942, p. 21, 59.
Anononoids: Arkell, Kommel, & Wright, 1957, p. L113119; Briokmann, 1929, 1937; Broower, 1967, P. 156-158; Cobban, 1951, p. 5-11; Cobhan, 1964, p. 110-14; Easton, 1960, p. 455; Erben, 1966; Knimbein & Sloss, 1963, p. 369; Olson, 1965, P. 105-107; Raop & Stanley, 1971, p. 264, 306-307; Spath, 1938; Wenger, 1957.
Conodonts: Rexroad, 1958, p. 1158.
Mammals: Hanson, 1961,p. 50-51; Scott, 1937, p. 417; Simpson, 1951, p. 114-121, 148, 217-228, 232, 236, 257, 265, 282, p1s. 20, 31; Wood, 1949, P. 186.
Honsinida: Coon, 1962; Howells, 1967; Kommcl, 1970, p. 578-583; Le Cros Clark, 1964; Uzzell & Pilbeam, 1971, p. 615.
between two relatively high-rank higher taxa, but which are not yet connected to either by a more continuous series of successive species or transitional individuals. We can refer to these as isolated intermediates, a fourth type of situation involving transitional fossils, a type which represents our least-complete state of knowledge.
Isolated intermediates include some of the most famous and spectacular transitional fossils known, such as Archaeopteryx (Colbert, 1969, p. 186-189; Romer, 1966, p. 166-167). This form is almost exactly intermediate between the classes Reptilia and Ayes (Cuffey, 1971a, p. 159; Cuffey, 1972, p. 36), so much so that "the question of whether Archaeopteryx is a bird or a reptile is unimportant. Both viewpoints can be defended with equal justification" (Brouwes, 1967, p. 161). The fossil onychophorans (Moore, 1959, p. 019; Olson, 1965, p. 190) and the fossil monoplacophorans (Knight & Yochelson, 1960, p. 177-83; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 308-309) have been regarded as annelidarthropod and annelid-mollusk inter-phylum intcrsnediates, respectively. Moreover, although invertebrate phylum origins tend to be obscure for several reasons (Olson, 1965, p. 209-211), recently discovered, Late Precambrian, soft-bodied invertebrate fossils may well alter that situation, particularly after certain peculiar forms are studied and compared with Early Cambrian forms (Kay & Colbert, 1965, p. 99, 103; Weller, 1969, p. 247).
Mention of this last prompts me to point out parenthetically that the appearance of shelled invertebrates at the beginning of the Cambrian has been widely misunderstood. The assertion is frequently made that all the major types of animals appeared suddenly and in abundance then. In actual fact, collecting in successive strata representing continuous sedimentation from Late Precambrian into Early Cambrian time reveals a progressive increase upward in abundance of individuals. Moreover, the various higher taxa-particularly the various classes and orders reflecting adaptation to different modes of life-appear at different times spread over the long interval between the Early Cambrian and the Middle Ordovician.
Finally, because of widespread interest in questions of man's origins, it is well worth emphasizing that a rather complete series of transitional fossils links modern man continuously and gradationally hack to midCenozoic, generalized pongids (see references in Table 2).
In spite of statements to the contrary . . . , the fossil record of the Hominnidea, the superfamily containing
man and the apes, is quite well known, and it is therefore possible to outline a tentative evolutionary scheme for this group (Uzrcll & Pilbeam, 1971, p. 615).
Potential Complications of the Paleontologic Literature
Non-paleontologist readers examining examples of transitional fossils mentioned above should be aware of several common occurrences within the professional palcontologic literature which could conceivably he confusing.
Historically, continued paleontologic research on any particular fossil group tends to move our understanding of its fossil record from the least-complete to the most-complete type of transitional-fossil situation. For example, early paleontologists recognized that the goniatite ammonoids gave rise to the ceratite ammonoids (successive higher taxa, in this case superorders or infraclasses; Easton, 1960, p. 436); later work indicated the successive species by which this transition was accomplished (Easton, 1960, p. 446; Miller, Furnish, & Schhsdewolf, 1957, p. L22). Other examples can also he cited (Simpson, 1953, p. 361-364; Cuff cy, 1967, p. 38-39). Also, our ideas about particular lineages may sometimes change as more specimens are brought to light (Stenzel, 1971, p. N1068-1070, 1077).
Frequently, secondary references portray evolutionary lineages much more vividly than does the
Table 3. Examples of successive species within the same higher taccon
Angiosperms: Chandler, 1923; Chancy, 1949, p. 197199; Elias, 1942; Stehbios, 1949, P. 230-231.
Foraminiferans: Barnard, 1963, p. 82; Bronnimann,
1950, p. 406; Cita-Sironi, 1963, p. 119-121 Hottinger, 1963, p. 306-307; Schanh, 1963, p. 288290, 292-294; Wilde, 1971, p. 376.
Brachiopods: Berry & Boneot, 1970, p. 30-31; Dunbar
& Waage, 1969, p. 113; Greiner, 1957; Ranp & Stanley, 1971, p. 124.
Gastropods: Franz, 1932; Franz, 1943, p. 272; SohI, 1960, p. 100.
Pelecypods: Deehaseaux, 1934; Easton, 1960, p. 348; Heaslip, 1968, p. 74-77, 79-81; Kay & Coibert, 1965, P. 327; Lerman, 1965, p. 416; Moore, Lalieker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 447; Newell, 1937, p. 40, 80; Newell, 1942, p. 21, 42, 47-48, 51-52, 60, 63, 65; Olson, 1965, p. 97; Sehafle, 1929, p. 79; Steorel, 1949; Stenrel, 1971, p. N1056-1057, N1077, N1079-1080; Weller, 1969, p. 209; Zeuner, 1933, p. 317.
Trilobites: Grant, 1962, p. 983-998.
Crustaceans: Guber, 1971, p. 15-16; Soho, 1962, p. 1207; Swartz, 1945; Weller, 1969, p. 267.
Garpoida: Barrande, 1887; Weller, 1969, p. 297.
Blastoids: Beaver, 1967, p. S303-305.
Craptolitea: Berry, 1960, p. 9.
Fishes; Boreske, 1972, p. 3-4.
Amphibians: Olson, 1965, p. 45-48.
Mammals: Lull, 1940, p. 189; McGraw, 1937, p. 448; Tedford, 1970, p. 671, 694.
original paper reporting them. For instance, contrast the original presentation of one coral sequence (Carruthers, 1910, p. 529, 538) with several later presentations (Easton, 1960, p. 175; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 140; Weller, 1969, p. 123).
Sequences of transitional individuals or successive species are often, especially for teaching purposes, presented instead as more generalized sequences of successive genera. One ammonite lineage including transitional individuals between families (Spath, 1938; Arkell, Kummel, and Wright, 1957, p. L113-116) appears elsewhere as merely successive genera (Olson, 1965, p. 105-107). The various successive species of the horse lineages (Simpson, 1951, p. 114121, 217-228, 282) are often summarized as successive genera (Hanson, 1961, p. 50-51; Scott, 1937, p. 417).
Similarly, for instructional purposes, some authors illustrate a series of fossils which show a progression in morphology, but which are not chronogically successive. These therefore are not evolutionary sequences, even though they resemble such. Two examples of such morphological series involve foraminiferans (Pokorny, 1963, p. 312) and nautiloids (Easton, 1960, p. 426).
In many instances, transitional individuals exist but are not reported explicitly as evolutionary lineages, for several reasons. Fully documenting such complete sequences is rather expensive in both research effort and publication cost; thus, many remain unpublished (Berry & Boucot, 1970, p. 30-31). Moreover, the practicing paleontologist sees little need to repeatedly reprove well-established concepts, especially when his primary concern is with other matters such as biostratigrapluc dating (Berry, 1960, p. 9).
Effect of Transitional Fossils on Taxonomic Practises
Still further, because the Linnean system of taxonomic nomenclature has been very useful historically, we tend to refer transitional individuals to that species which they resemble most, rather than calling attention nnmenelaturally to their intermediate status (Bird,
Table 4. Examples of successive species crossing from one higher
taxon into another.
Ginkgophytes: Andrews, 1961, p. 337-339; Brown,
1943, p. 863; Franz, 1943, p. 323; Scagel et al, 1965, p. 484; Seward, 1938; Weller, 1969, p. 66.
Foraminiferans: Berggren, 1962, p. 101, 116-126.
Bryozoans: Lang, 1921-1922; Easton, 1960, p. 268.
Gastropods: Fisher, Hodda, & Dietrieli, 1964.
Pelecypods: Stenzel, 1971, p. N1057, 1078.
Nautiloids: Easton, 1960, p. 425; Flower, 1941, p.
526; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 351.
Annnonoids: Arkell, Kumnsel, & Wright, 1957, p. L116; Cohhan, 1961, p. 740-741; Easton, 1960, p. 446; House, 1970, p. 666-674; Miller, Furnish, & Sehiodewoif, 1957, p. L22; Wright & Wright, 1949.
Crustaceans: Claessner, 1960, p. 40-41; Glaessner, 1969,
Grinoids: Moore, Lalieker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 629.
Echinoids: Jackson, 1912, p. 231; Weller, 1969, p. 355.
Reptiles: Lull, 1940, p. 290; Olson, 1965, p. 99-101.
Reptile-Mammal Transition: Olson, 1965, p. 202.
Mammals: Kummel, 1970, p.514; Lull, 1940, p. 524; Matthew, 1910; Nelson & Seniken, 1970, p. 3734; Osborn, 1929, p. 35-37, 724, 761, 773, 784, 791, 801, p1. 48; Patterson, 1949, p. 243244, 246, 263, 268; Scott, 1937, p. 429; Simpson, 1951, p. 148, 245; Wood, 1949, p. 188-189.
Table 5. Examples of successive higher taxa (genera).
Coniferophptes: Florin, 1951; Seagel et al, 1965, p. 491-492, 520-522, 596-597.
Foraminiferans: Dunhar, 1963, p. 42; Pokorny, 1963, p. 155, 192.
Corals: Wells, 1956, p. F364.
Brachiopods: Dunhar & Rodgers, 1957, p. 280; Slsroek & Twenhofel, 1953, p. 346.
Nautiloids: Teiehert, l964a, p. K200-201 Teichert, 1964h, p. K325.
Amaionoids: Miller, Furnish, & Sehindewolf, 1957, p. L23.
Colceids: Easton, 1960, p. 476; Weller, 1969, p. 233.
Blastoids: Fay, 1967, p. S394-395; Tappan, 1971, p. 1087.
Crinoids: Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 631.
Echinoids: Kier, 1965; Tappan, 1971, p. 1088.
Graptobtes: Moore, Lalieker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 726.
Fish-Tetroporl ( Crossopterygian-Ampibian ) Transition: Colbert, 1969, p. 71-78; Homer, 1966, p. 72-74, 86-88, 90; Homer, 1968, p. 71-72.
Amphibian-Reptile Transition: Colhert, 1969, p. 111114; Homer, 1966, p. 94-96, 102103; Homer, 1968, 1). 86-87, 96.
Reptiles: Colhert, 1948, p. 153; Colhert, 1965, p. 170171; Homer, 1968, p. 131, 137, 138.
Reptile-Mammal Transition: Beerhower, 1968, p. 477480; Colhert, 1969, p. 130-144, 250, 254; Coffey, 1971a, p. 159; Olson, 1965, p. 40-44, 193-209; Olson, 1971, p. 671731; Homer, 1966, p. 173-174, 178, 186; Homer, 1968, 13. 159, 163-164.
Mammals: Colhert, 1969, p. 368-369, 454, 457; Dunhar and Waage, 1969, p. 464; Lull, 1908, p. 180; Lull, 1940, p. 569, 615; MeGrew, 1937, 1). 448; Oshorn, 1929, p. 759, 831; Scott, 1937, p. 335, 476; Stirton, 1959, p. 48; Thomson, 1925, p. 60.
1971; Crusafont-Pairn & Reguant, 1970). As a result, a casual reader might
conclude erroneously that we see no evolutionary variations within
the true situation is that paleontologists frequently ignore such
it is not pertinent to their immediate goals (Willams, 1953, p. 29), but that
such variation is present as transitional individuals within the
1971; Cuff ey, 1967, p. 41, 85-86; Klapper & Ziegler, 1967; Scott
1959; Williams, 1951, p. 87).
Similarly, we also tend to refer transitional fossils to that higher taxon which they most resemble or to which their final representatives belong. Consequently, the fact that we are dealing with continuously gradatinnal sequences may he obscured by our conventional practice of superimposing artificially disctsntinous, higher-rank taxonomic boundaries across such lineages (Olson, 1965, p. 100-101, 202-203; Van Morkhoven, 1962, p. 105, 153; Williams, 1953, p. 29; Cuffey, 1967, p. 38-39). As a result, for example, in the middle of sequences of transitional fossils bridging the conceptual gaps between the various vertebrate classes, we find forms which sit squarely on the dividing line between these high-rank taxa and which can he referred to either of two. In addition to Archaeopteryx between reptiles and birds (discussed previously), we can also note Diart/trognathus between reptiles and mammals, the seymouriamnrphs between amphibians and reptiles, and Elpistosiege between fishes and amphibians (see references in Table 5).
Higher taxa-from genera on up through phylaare useful concepts in handling data concerning organisms (in fact, they constitute what the layman terms "major kinds" of organisms); however, they are artificial mental constructs rather than "basic facts of nature" (Brouwer, 1967, P. 161; Olson, 1965, p. 100101, 201-203). Moreover, although there are reasons why transitional sequences between higher taxa are not as frequent as we would like (Brouwer, 1967, p. 160-169; Olson, 1965, p. 118, 184-211; Simpson, 1953, p. 366-376; Simpson, 1960, p. 159-161), nevertheless we can cite some particularly impressive transitional fossils between higher taxa of various ranks. In addition to those mentioned previously as inter-phylum and inter-class transitions, others involve higher taxa of class-group rank (Erben, 1966; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 306-307), orders (Easton, 1960, p. 446; Miller, Furnish, & Schindewolf, 1957, p. L22; Teichert, 1964, p. K325), families (Arkell, Kummel, & Wright, 1957, p. L117-119; Brinkmann, 1937; Easton, 1960, p. 425; A Flower, 1941, p. 526; Moore, Lalicker, & Fischer, 1952, p. 351), and genera (Arkell, ICummel, & Wright, 1957, p. L116118; Brinkmann, 1929; Broower, 1967, p. 158; Gimhrede, 1962; Newell, 1942, p. 21, 59; Raup & Stanley, 1971, p. 264).
Evolutionary Implications of Transitional Fossils
Let us consider the implications of an observable sequence of transitional fossils, such as those examples cited above, linking an earlier form (A, in Figure 1) with a later form (I). At a preliminary stage of knowledge, when only the relatively distinct forms A and I are known, it could be thought (as was actually done in the early 1800's) that the earlier form (A) had been instantly created, lived for a time, was then eliminated by some catastrophic environmental event, and after extinction was replaced by special creation of the somewhat similar later form (1). As our knowledge of the paleontologic record begins to increase, we find a third form (such as E, in Figure 1) which is morphologically and chronologically intermediate between A and I. The gap between A and I is thus partly filled and replaced by two narrower gaps, and we must invoke an additional special creation and catastrophic extinction to explain the observed record. Continued collecting uncovers more morphologically and chronologically intermediate specimens (say C and G, and later also B, D, F, and H, in Figure 1); at each step, the new gaps we produce by partly filling existing ones are progressively smaller, and we must invoke ever more instantaneous creations and catastrophic extinctions. It is evident that, when we have accumulated a very large series of transitional fossils grading continuously from A to I (as we often now have in the course of population-oriented paleontologic studies), we must envision a very large number of creations and catastrophes-approaching, in fact, the probable number of reproductive generations involved in the sequence, allowing for the vagaries of the processes of fossilization and study. Invoking progressively more special creations until each generation is interpreted as the result of special creation becomes clearly implausible. Instead, noting that many fossils preserve ordinary reproductive structures, and also that the differences between successive fossil assemblages are of magnitude comparable to those observable between consecutive ancestordescendent populations in nature today, we are forced to conclude that the entire series represents a chain of reproductive generations, descending one from the other by the usual natural reproductive processes, uninterrupted by any special creative acts from without.
As emphasized above, transitional fossils are known
between groups of organisms classified at both low and high taxonomic ranks; i.e., between both low- and high-rank taxa.
Low-rank taxa-the many species known to ushave a real existence in nature, in that they consist of populations or morphologically similar, actually or potentially interbreeding individuals which live during a continuous segment of geologic time. Transitional fossils between morphologically distinct, chronologically successive species require us thus to conclude that a new species results from the operation of natural reproductive processes upon successive generations of a population without the intervention of special creative acts; i.e., through what the scientist terms "evolutionary processes".
On the other hand, higher taxa-thosc above speciesrank, from genera up through phyla-do not have a real existence in nature in quite the same sense that species do. Instead, higher taxa of various ranks are simply the scientist's mental abstractions by which the many species comprising the organic world are grouped according to the various degrees of over-all morphologic similarity displayed. Species which are very similar may be grouped within one genus, while species which have only a little in common may be grouped together only in the same class or phylum. Since higher taxa are no more than aggregations of species, transitional fossils between higher taxa indicate simply that, in time, the same natural ancestor-descendent process producing new species eventually produces a chain of successive and progressively more different species, whose final member will be drastically different in morphology from its initial member and will therefore be classified by taxonomists in a different high-rank taxon. Consequently, the practice has developed among modern taxonomists that higher-rank classifications, which are based initially upon observable degrees of morphologic similarity among species, also should reflect evolutionary ancestor-descendent relationships among those species as much as possible. Moreover, it also is apparent that the amount of morphologic change producable by evolutionary processes is essentially unlimited, given the context of vast eons of geologic time.
As a still broader implication of these considerations, we can define "evolution" as the gradual and permanent change in the form and function of adult living organisms, of successive generations, over a long period of geologic time. Paleontologic evidence (discussed here) has played the critical role in developing this concept, but numerous other lines of evidence also suggest it. The interested reader can explore these in other excellent sources (especially Lull, 1940; Olson, 1965; Simpson, 1953), where he also can learn that the process termed "natural selection"-far from being carelessly equated to evolution as some anti-evolutionists assert-is an important part of the method by which evolution is accomplished. Moreover, the range in taxonomic ranks over which transitional fossils are observed (as described above) shows that what some anti-evolutionists label "general" and "special" evolution are merely extreme end-members in the scale of a single natural phenomenon, evolution, and thus usually do not warrant separate consideration.
As defined above, evolution is a scientific (rather than, say, philosophical) concept, and so comments about the nature of science are relevant here.
Using actual practice as the basis for definition, we can define "science" simply as the attempt to understand natural phenomena more completely by means of repeatable or verifiable observations of natural phenomena. (This is broader than the rigid, prediction- or experiment oriented definitions developed by some philosophers not actively engaged in scientific work.) Also, unlike mathematics or logic, science does not deal in formally rigorous certainties, but instead strives for conclusions which are at best highly probable. Failure to understand this has made extensive, philosophically-based discussions-by anti-evolutionists, among others irrelevant. Moreover, while the search for ultimate or first causes moves into the realm of metaphysics, discussion of possible proximate or intermediate causes which might be implied by observational evidence clearly falls well within the scope of science.
Still further, we need to realize that there is no fundamental difference between what has been termed "historical science" and "empirical science". The scholar can be relatively certain of only what he is experiencing at the present moment, not of what the objects he is examining imply to him about the past. This is as true for the chemist reading his notebook describing yesterday's experiments and for the historian examining ancient Egyptian records, as it is for the paleontologist viewing the fossils and rock strata which form the pages of a natural textbook. None of these three can he rigorously certain that their world was not instantaneously created minutes ago with all its evidences of apparently longer history (Olson, 1965, p. 49); however, for each, his scholarly interpretations about events before the present moment are much more probable than would be purely conjectural imaginings.
Paleontologists studying sequences of transitional fossils are clearly operating in a scientific manner, because their data can be regenerated by anyone willing to examine the earth's crust independently. As more and more such sequences come to light, considering the processes which formed them becomes essential if we are to understand nature more thoroughly (i.e., still within the scope of science). As discussed above, interpreting these sequences as proximately due to evolutionary processes becomes ever more probable (in fact, overwhelmingly so, agree all who have been directly involved with the evidence), while a fiat creationist interpretation becomes ever less likely. Because of the long time spans involved, we will never be rigorously certain that our view is a wholly accurate reflection of natural reality, but the many transitional fossils known render evolution already so highly probable that presentation of it as scientific fact is quite justified. Finally, as is generally true in the development of science, once a concept has been well documented, it can in turn provide a basis for further work; the concept of evolution has done just this most fruitfully for many areas within the earth and life sciences over the past years.
A few remarks are also appropriate about the theological implications of evolution as demonstrated by sequences of transitional fossils. As the reader may have noted, theological considerations do not enter at all into our demonstration of evolution as a very highly probable scientific conclusion. Consequently, like other scientific conclusions, this one cannot be viewed as inherently either pro- or anti-Christian, However, of course, Christians-especially theologians-will need to integrate evolutionary process into their views as being the proximate means which Cod uses to create various forms of life, just as He uses other scientifically demonstrable processes to maintain the natural universe.
In summary, the paleontologic record displays numerous sequences of transitional fossils, oriented appropriately within the independently derivable geochronologic time framework, and morphologically and chronologically connecting earlier species with later species (often so different that the end-members are classified in different high-rank taxa). These sequences quite overwhelmingly support an evolutionary, rather than a fiat- creation ist, view of the history of life. Consequently, after carefully considering the implications of the fossil record, we must conclude that that record represents the remains of gradually and continuously evolving, ancestor-descendent lineages, uninterrupted by special creative acts, and producing successive different species which eventually become so divergent from the initial form that they constitute new major kinds of organisms.
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Moore's Critique of Cuffey's Position
Several comments must be made in critique of Cuffey's position paper. Within his very first sentence he contributes to confusion of terminology by presenting the alternative: "development or evolution". This suggestion that development, during the life time of an organism, is interchangeable with supposed evolutionary alteration of one kind of organism into another kind of organism is the very confusion that Louis Agassiz and many others in succeeding decades have urged evolutionists to avoid. Development of an individual organism and general evolution are not alternative concepts.
And apparently Cuffey has contented himself with consideration of physical evidence from the geological record only; consequently, he has ignored completely the full range of data utilized initially by Charles Darwin as he developed his persuasively expressed case for imagined changes of species over time. (I assume that Cuffey realizes the cogency of my explication of the sheerly circumstantial nature of physical evidence from those areas covered by Darwin.)
Anyway because Cuffey has chosen to concentrate only on the fossil or paleontological evidence, and has given his greatest attention to so-called "transitional fossils", he has limited my task of criticism.
However, before turning to careful examination of his proffered evidence for so-called "transitional fossils", a significant lack of understanding of scientific methodology on Cuffey's part must be made explicit. He fails to comprehend evidently that all empirical work of geologists is confined to what they are able to study in their lifetime. That is, most of the actual empirical work of geologists involves detection of types of rocks, classification of rock types on or near the earth's surface, and examination of material included in rocks (especially sedimentary rocks), which commonly involves study of inclusions (fossils) interpreted as parts of and or impressions of previous living organisms.
Thus his early use of the term "demonstrated" in his second sentence, and again several times in the Introduction plus many other times in his position paper, is ample indication that he does not understand that geologists cannot demonstrate empirically anything regarding organic evolution which is supposed to have occurred over time. Geologists can only interpret what they find as empirical scientists, as far as the unrepeatable past is concerned, and this fact would seem to be clearly evident from Cuffey's own words before his last introductory paragraph, i. e., "make evolutionary interprepretations ultimately inescapable". Of course his evolutionary interpretations are not ultimately inescapable.
Hence, in his zeal to present his ease for "transitional fossils", as forcefully as he feels he can, Cuff ey fails to realize that all conclusions that he offers about "sequences" or "succession" or "series" are plainly reconstructions and extrapolations of what geologists want to interpret about material found in rocks, after they have first accepted evolutionary thinking as a frame of reference. In writing to numerous other geologists about these concepts, I find that they rather reluctantly admit this point; they come to realize belatedly that the fossil record in no way is sufficient and necessary to establish genetic connections between different kinds of organisms. Absolutely no known genetic lineage is established from any paleontological study, no matter how lengthy the study of the rocks or of the literature about the rocks.
This brings us face to face with another significant shortcoming of the position taken by Cuffey. He does not define "evolution" in his introductory remarks and, when he finally gives attention to such an important point midway in the section before his conclusion, he leaves his readers in utter confusion. Cuffey then defines "evolution" in reference to changes in adult forms through successive generations. Clearly ambiguous, he does not tell his readers that he is only addressing his entire line of discourse basically to changes within limits of a kind of organism where generation after generation of the same kind of organism could he extrapolated from the fossil data.
He evidently tries to avoid this restriction on his presentation by referring to "general" and "special" evolution as extremes "in the scale of a single natural phenomenon, evolution,..." . But neither he nor any other geologist can show empirically that the fossils they find are part of any "natural phenomenon", as far as illustrating any genetic lineage 0f one kind of organism with another kind of organism.
His attention to supposed "transitional fossils" is where Coffey becomes involved in a blatant ambiguity. He clearly illustrates this fact in his use of Tables 1 through 5.
All the physical data cited per references included in Table 1 relate solely to supposed changes of "species within the same higher taxon (genus)". So in what way can Coffey think that these data are at all relevant to the question of explaining change of one kind of organism into another kind of organism? And the same question can be asked with respect to Table 3 wherein he has cited referential materials again of "species within the same higher taxon (genus)".
It may be true that paleontologists have interpreted some fossil evidence to involve changes of species within
those kinds of organisms he lists, i.e., angiosperms, foraminiferans, brachiopods, gastropods, peleeypods trilobites, and mammals, as far as groups common to both Tables 1 and 3 are concerned. Nevertheless, paleontologists evidently had no difficulty in recognizing these kinds of organisms as kinds, and had no basic difficulty in separating the species of one kind of organism from species of another kind of organism.
Thus Table 1 and Table 3 are totally irrelevant to any discussion of supposed changes of one kind of organism into another kind of organism, which is precisely the fundamental meaning of organic evolution, as I have made pointedly specific by affording clear and unambiguous definitions of "general evolution" versus "special evolution". The evident confusion of the terms with which Coffey seems to be satisfied is quite clear in his fourth section when he refers to "evolutionary variations within species". To juxtapose "evolutionary" and "variation" in this manner partakes explicitly of confusion between supposed changes across limits of kinds of organisms (general evolution) and those changes within limits of kinds of organisms (genetic variation, or microevolution, if that is what Coffey means), which can be successfully studied in proper empirical fashion by geneticists.
But to return to Table 2, and then give attention to Tables 4 and 5, which Coffey refers to at some length in his section on "examples" of so-called "transitional fossils". I again write "socalled" because his referential citations, when checked not carefully, do not afford any evidence of change of one kind of organism into another kind of organism, which is exactly the degree of change to which Coffey and any paleontologist most address himself, if purporting to supply physical "evidence" for organic evolution, and not just limited changes within boundaries of kind. Space limitations prevent complete, item by item analysis, but I will give attention to several representative groups included in these tables.
For instance, in Table 2, Cuffey cites five sources of information about hominid species gradation supposedly "crossing from one higher taxon into another". Accepting the clear fact that a "taxon" is essentially whatever a group of specialists say it is, then I must point out that proposals about hominid relationships by Coon, Howells, Kummel, Le Cros Clark, or Uzzell and Pilbeam are sheerly conjectural and speculative because their work is totally devoid of establishment of any direct genetic lineage. These men have concentrated on reasoned extrapolations from the fossil data, and have offered their speculations about supposed hominid changes after they have first accepted the thesis of general evolution as I have defined it. And the same comment holds for the speculations of E. C. Olson with respect to supposed reptile to mammal transition included in Table 4.
But most attention should be given to Table 5 because of referential citations pertaining to three supposed vertebrate transitions: a) fish-tetrapod (Crossopterygian-amphibian), b) amphibianreptile, and c) reptile-mammal (also included in Table 4). (Discussion of supposed vertebrate transitions are always favored by evolutionists.) Here Cuffey, like most other paleontologists, claims that amphibians have "evolved" from fish. However, no one has ever found a single transitional form showing part fins and part feet, though these changes would have involved conceivably a vast multitude of transitional forms.
A certain fish, known as a erossopterygian, is supposed to have "envolved" into a labyrinthodont. Noteworthy is the fact that paleontologists reconstruct the erossopterygian as a fish, equipped with fins, which certainly did not resemble a four-footed animal. The labyrintbndnnt, on the other hand, had four feet and legs according to paleontological reconstruction, and was obviously an amphibian. No one would confuse it with a fish.
But no one has ever found a single transitional form between them! The only reasonable scientific conclusion
seems to be that these transitional forms are not found because they never existed.
Paleontologists have supposed that a reptile "evolved" into a bird. Such transition should be traced easily in the fossil record, since forelimbs of the reptile most have changed slowly and gradually into wings of the bird, and reptilian scales must have changed slowly also into feathers. However, no one has ever found a single fossil either with half-way forelimbs and halfway wings, or with half-way scales and half-way feathers. Nor has any other stage between reptile and bird ever been found.
Of course, Coffey refers to Archeopteryx as one of the "most famous and spectacular transitional fossils known", as is so customary with most paleontologists. However, other evolutionists deny this claim. It is noteworthy that Archeopteryx had claw-like appendages on the leading edge of its w'ings; and, a species of birds living today, the Iloaetzin of South America, has such claw-like appendages. Also Archeapteryx had teeth, but other extinct birds, unquestionably 100% birds, had teeth. And though Archeopteryx, unlike all other birds, had vertebrae extending out along the tail, nevertheless Arch eopteryx had 100% wings and 100% feathers. Thus it is safe to conclude that Archcopteryx was a bird.
Archeopteryx was no more a transitional form between reptile and bird than the bat is between mammal and bird. An authority on birds has stated: "The origin of birds is largely a matter of deduction. There is no fossil of the stages through which the remarkable change from reptile to bird was achieved." (Marshall, A.J., Editor. 1960. Biology and comparative physiology of birds. New York: Academic Press, p. 1) (Emphases added) Now this evolutionist did not say that there are only a few fossils at this supposed transitional stage, but he said there are no fossils.
And speaking of hats, I would call attention to the cover photograph of Science, December 9, 1966, showing a reconstruction of the hones of what is claimed to he the oldest known bat, and also call attention to comment in the related article that no fossil related to a bat had ever been found in the same rocks, or any older rocks than the claimed age of 50 million years for the bat bones. Pictured there was the oldest known bat and it was recognized clearly as 100% bat, the only mammal that flies, which supposedly "evolved" the power of flight over vast lengths of time. Yet no one has ever been able to find a single fossil to document this claim.
With reference to supposed transitional forms, the ability to fly supposedly has "evolved" separately in four different kinds of animals-the insects, flying reptiles (pterosaurs), birds, and bats. If general evolution has really happened, surely we must be able to find some physical evidence in the fossil record, in at least one or two of these cases. But no evidence can be found for the imagined evolutionary origin of the ability to fly.
Paleontologist Olson has admitted that as far as flight is concerned there are some very big gaps in the record (The evolution of life, 1966. New York: The New American Library, p. 180). lIe holds that there is almost no information about the history of the origin of flight in insects. He stated that there is absolutely no sign of intermediate stages for the pterosaurs, or flying reptiles. And referring to the alleged reptilelike features of Arch copteryx, he had to admit that Archeopteryx was definitely a bird with no evidence of presumed evolutionary ancestors. Finally he stated that the first evidence of flight in mammals is in fully developed bats. Therefore, the fossil record is devoid of any physical evidence for any imagined evolutionary origin of flight. There are no transitional forms! (See also Gish, Duane T. 1972. Evolution: the fossils say no! San Diego: Institute for Creation Research, 2716 Madison Avenue.)
A further indication of Cuffey's inclination toward lack of precision in definition of terms he uses, beyond his perpetrated confusion re the term "evolution", is found after his definition of "science" in his words, "there is no fundamental difference between what has been termed 'historical science' and 'empirical science"'. This is completely false. He is confused when he compares the chemist, who actually wrote the notebook he later reads, and the work of the paleontologist, who never has seen the rocks formed or the fossils made that he purports to interpret as bases for general evolution.
Even examination of ancient Egyptian records ranks in a separate category from the "paleontologist viewing the fossils and rock strata", because the former are the products of human effort wherein some Egyptian reported what was actually seen or known on a first a person basis. The paleontologist has no such first-person experience with rocks or fossils. Contrary to assertions by Coffey, "interpretations about events before the present moment", i.e., formation of rock strata and fossilization of organisms, are nothing more than "purely conjectural imaginings", to use his own words.
Evidently Cuffey has been weaving imagined narratives about fossils and rock strata for so long, as have most paleontologists ever since Charles Lyell, a lawyer, made the practice acceptable to the intelligentsia, that Coffey and his colleagues have not come to realize, in any explicit manner, the fact that the whole field of "historical" geology involves a maze of imaginative, speculative narratives as extensive extrapolations into the past. Indisputably, paleontologists are limited only to observational work with rocks, strata, impressions, and inclusions, and such observational work is the extent of their actual empirical scientific work. They cannot repeat events involving such objects. They cannot be scientific by trustworthy, testable, repeatable methods beyond straight forward observation of rocks, strata, impressions, and inclusions. Therefore, all their thoughts about supposed transitional forms, and about imagined past events, are of no value other than as imagined formulations based on circumstantially arranged objects.
When evolutionists, and others probably including Cuffey, refer to such forms as Peripatus and Neopilina as possible transitional forms, or to Jamoytins, Archeopteryx, Seymouria, and Tupaia, as intermediate or linking forms, they merely count on circumstantial similarities which are proposed by the paleontologists in their opinion as evidence to support general evolution. But opinion and speculative, circumstantial interpretations are exactly what the empirical scientist seeks to avoid in preference to conclusive genetic evidence.
true transitional form that could be accepted, it seems to me, is
that form demonstrated
empirically, conclusively as genetically connected to two major kinds
Such conclusive evidence would be obtainable only through cross
subject to repeatable observations.
Hence, nothing is gained, from all of Coffey's careful compilation of referential citations, that counts as physical evidence for imagined general evolutionary changes of the degree that might have involved changes from one type, form, or kind of organism into another type, form, or kind of organism. He has provided only data regarding changes supposedly within kinds which are essentially to he considered as no more than genetic variational changes. Basically, all of his referential citations relate to physical evidence that can be utilized better to support the concept of "fixity of kinds". He has failed to provide any true transitional forms between or across kinds of organisms.