Darwinism stasis

Donald Prothero: Sometimes even a Darwinist must confront the pattern of the evidence

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He just doesn’t have to learn anything.

Donald Prothero , geologist/paleontologist at the California Institute of Technology, has been a pretty good joe for Darwinism over the years. He is quoted here and
here, for example, affirming Darwin’s truths, and also affirming the miracle of Haeckel’s embryos (described by others as an imposture)* in his 1994 textbook with Robert H. Dott, Jr. Oh never mind, people have done worse for those they love.

But, late in their careers, Darwinists sometimes admit the very problems that they seemed anxious earlier to explain away. In 2012, Prothero admitted that in evolution, stasis (no change over vast stretches of time) is the general pattern. Gradualism (slow Darwinian change) is rare, and evolutionary biologists have known that for decades*:

In four of the biggest climatic-vegetational events of the last 50 million years, the mammals and birds show no noticeable change in response to changing climates. No matter how many presentations I give where I show these data, no one (including myself) has a good explanation yet for such widespread stasis despite the obvious selective pressures of changing climate. Rather than answers, we have more questions—and that’s a good thing! Science advances when we discover what we don’t know, or we discover that simple answers we’d been following for years no longer work. – Donald Prothero, “Darwin’s Legacy,” Skeptic, February 15, 2012: http://tinyurl.com/btsn796

He strenuously participates in Darwin’s battles today. Yet the broad pattern of stasis is the real message from the rocks.

Darwinism is apparently one of those things that must be believed in its utter absence, as a sign of faith. And that is what it is to be a Skeptic these days.

* For example: “one of the most famous fakes in biology,” Michael K. Richardson quoted in Elizabeth Pennisi, “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered,” Science 277 (1997): 1435.

9 Replies to “Donald Prothero: Sometimes even a Darwinist must confront the pattern of the evidence

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    It’s strange to think that the world of Alice in Wonderland and Catch 22 were not at all more fanciful than real life. Quite the contrary.

    The state of our post-Christian Academia could hardly afford more glaring proof of the madness of the West’s scorn for wisdom, in favour of its worship of the unspiritual, simian intellect, now grounded on random assumptions.

  2. 2
    Robert Byers says:

    The real reason for the statis problem is that its all based on geological presumptions.
    Biological conclusions here are worthless because nothing concluded is based on biology.
    Its all about fossils and all that about strata of deposition of the fossils.
    There has been no change in creatures, despite the weather, in the last 50 million years because there is no evidence that there ever was evolutionary change.
    Further it was just 6000 or 4500 years since creatures got fossilized.
    Their ‘theories’ don;’t work because they are founded on false presumptions.
    These presumptions are not even biological ones.
    Its all wrong and dumb.

  3. 3
    Barb says:

    The late Stephen Jay Gould recognized this problem about 40 years ago, and stated: “the fossil record still proclaims [gradualism] false, after more than a century of diligent search for gradual change. Paleontologists have documented virtually no cases of slow and steady transformation, foot by foot up the strata of a hillslope—not for horses, not for humans.”

    “Instead,” admits Gould, “most fossil species share two features: First, they do not change in any marked way during the entire course of their existence; second, they enter the record abruptly, either replacing or coexisting with their ancestors. In short, stasis [stability] and sudden replacement mark the history of most species.”

    Stephen J. Gould, a professor of biology at Harvard University, is quoted as saying: “Phyletic gradualism was an a priori assumption from the start—it was never ‘seen’ in the rocks; it expressed the cultural and political biases of nineteenth-century liberalism.” In other words, Darwin’s thinking was conditioned by the society in which he lived. Karl Marx is quoted as saying: “It is remarkable how Darwin recognizes among the beasts and plants his English society with its divisions of labor, competition, [and so forth].”

    To counter this seemingly insurmountable evidence, evolutionist Gould speculates that in each case, the evolving must have occurred relatively rapidly “in a small, isolated peripheral area,” which geologists have not as yet found in their diggings. Of course, such speculation affords an escape for evolutionists when confronted with this overwhelming evidence against their theory. However, does such probing in the dark have the ring of objective, unbiased scientific thought? Or does it, rather, reflect the frantic gropings of the dogmatist who has been exposed?

  4. 4
    lifepsy says:

    Could one ask for a clearer example that selection pressures do not drive evolutionary transformations? This theory does not work anywhere except in the imagination and cartoons.

    Things like this take away my frustration with the pseudo-scientific evolution community, and replaces it with pity. It seems like they are crying out for help.

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    Posters put it well here.
    however it stills comes down to using geology to make a biology case or criticism of the case.
    Gould was wrong in drawing biological conclusions without biological evidence.
    Strata levels just show segregated deposition events.
    They don’t show evolution of biology even if they were documenting biological evolutionary changes.
    I mean its just geological presumptions plus fossils plus a line of reasoning that connects dots.
    there is no biological scientific evidence for evolution looking at fossils.
    None. its a logical flaw that everyone bumps into.

    The case of the living seal demonstrates this.
    there seals with this type of flexible foot and those with less flexible.
    Deposit them in a different flow of sediment this week and evoltionists would years from now insist the top layer of seal type evolved from the lower one.
    Yet in fact they live together and don’t affect each other.
    it would be a error of geology that leads to a error of biology.
    Thats the big error in evolutionary biology today.

  6. 6
    Chance Ratcliff says:


    “NEW YORK (AP) — For decades, people have been getting rid of cockroaches by setting out bait mixed with poison. But in the late 1980s, in an apartment test kitchen in Florida, something went very wrong.

    A killer product stopped working. Cockroach populations there kept rising. Mystified researchers tested and discarded theory after theory until they finally hit on the explanation: In a remarkably rapid display of evolution at work, many of the cockroaches had lost their sweet tooth, rejecting the corn syrup meant to attract them.”

    Rapid evolution strikes again.

    “It’s not clear when the Florida cockroaches first encountered bait with glucose or how quickly they ditched their taste for the sugar, he said. But he said it’s reasonable to estimate that it took maybe only five years for that glucose aversion to spread to so many cockroaches that the bait was no longer effective. That’s about 25 generations of German cockroaches, which can reproduce about one to three months after they’re born, Schal said.

    The glucose aversion may have arisen in an individual cockroach in response to bait. Or it may have already been present in just a few individuals when the arrival of the bait suddenly gave them an advantage for surviving and reproducing. Their offspring would inherit the trait and increasingly replace other cockroaches.”

  7. 7
    PeterJ says:


    I have just watched this same story on the BBC News here in Scotland. And I was very quickly amazed at the langauge they used in describing this discovery. The headline of course was that Cockroaches have ‘evolved’, but what I found rather amusing was after having mentioned ‘evolution’ on a number of occassions they ever so subtely slipped in the word ‘adapted’ when describing what had actually taken place biologically.

    They even backed up this case of evolution by mentioning ‘Bacterial resistance to anti-biotics’ and ‘the rats resistence to warfarin’.

    If that is the kind of evolution that makes the headlines then it really is game over 😉

  8. 8
    Upright BiPed says:

    OT: This may have already been tossed on the table…

    Science 24 May 2013:
    Vol. 340 no. 6135 p. 910
    DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6135.910-a

    Biology of Genomes
    Long Noncoding RNAs May Alter Chromosome’s 3D Structure
    Elizabeth Pennisi

    Thirteen-thousand “genes” specify mysterious molecules called long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs), but what are they good for? Some researchers have suggested that they represent “noise”: DNA randomly converted to RNA that serves no purpose. Others propose that they may be as pivotal as proteins in guiding cellular processes. Now, researchers think lncRNAs have a role in regulating chromosomal activity by influencing the shape of chromatin, the protein complex that swaddles DNA.

  9. 9
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    PeterJ @7,

    It’s funny how the word “evolution” gets tossed out there like it’s a mechanism, as if any observed change in an organism or population is simultaneously an example of, and evidence for, Darwinian evolution, even though they know very little about how or why the changes actually occurred.

    “The glucose aversion may have arisen in an individual cockroach in response to bait. Or it may have already been present in just a few individuals…”

    So it’s not known whether the glucose aversion was triggered in an individual (or multiple individuals) as some sort of response mechanism, or already present in a sample of the existing population. But regardless of the cause, it’s touted as “evolution.”

    In the same way I guess we can presume that star alignments and cosmic phenomena are evidence of astrology. 🙂

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