Some thoughts on common ancestry

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What common ancestry of all living things offers is the narrative satisfaction of continuity.

If you tell me that I have a common ancestor with the dump bear, the cloud of mosquitoes around the bear, and the patch of weeds he is lying in, what have you told me? That all life is connected in some way (I thought so, but the concept of common ancestry makes the idea more concrete).

An explanation is offered for the way I sense that the bear, the mosquitoes, the weeds and I all differ in the same general way from rocks and sand.

But now, the specific claim may or may not be true, even if the general intuition that makes it sound believable is.

One problem is that there is no remotely believable account of the origin of life:

So right at the beginning of the story, there is a problem. The dump bear and I and the other life forms have a common ancestor but no one knows what it is or how it came to be.

The difficulty with common ancestry of humans and chimpanzees is somewhat different. It’s the differences we need to account for, not the similarities. As I have said more than once, the claims about humans being genetically 99% chimpanzee merely demonstrate that genetics isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When they get to 99.999ff identity, they’ll have proved that genetics is meaningless.

Hey, wait a minute.

What then becomes of the original claim about common ancestry (which sounds at least intuitively right)? Now I am being asked to believe things that sound intuitively wrong—they are unbelievable on the evidence and they cast doubt on what I take to be solid science.

Could one reason many thoughtful people doubt common ancestry be this lack of a coherent narrative? Thoughts? – O’Leary for News

PS: Common ancestry and evolution are different concepts. Picture a far-off galaxy in which there are two solar systems, in each of which life originated and evolved independently. Both systems have been evolving but they have no common ancestor.

Added: Just as evolution could occur without common ancestry, common ancestry could occur without evolution for a very long time. Suppose a species of fern is unchanged for 180 million years. It could have common ancestors with other ferns without having undergone any meaningful evolution.

See also: Picture that terrifies creationists?

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17 Replies to “Some thoughts on common ancestry

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    PS: Common ancestry and evolution are different concepts. Picture a far-off galaxy in which there are two solar systems, in each of which life originated and evolved independently. Both systems have been evolving but they have no common ancestor


  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    As I have said more than once, the claims about humans being genetically 99% chimpanzee merely demonstrate that genetics isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When they get to 99.999ff identity, they’ll have proved that genetics is meaningless.

    the primary reason why genetic similarity is meaningless to explaining if humans evolved from some chimp-like ancestor or not is because biological ‘form’ is not even reducible to linear sequences of letters on DNA in the first place:

    Body Plans Are Not Mapped-Out by the DNA – Jonathan Wells – video

    “Although this theory [neo-Darwinism] can account for the phenomena it concentrates on, namely, variation of traits in populations, it leaves aside a number of other aspects of evolution… Most important, it completely avoids the origination of phenotypic traits and of organismal form. In other words, neo-Darwinism has no theory of the generative.”
    – Gerd B. Muller & Stuart A. Newman – Origination of Organismal Form, p.7

    Stephen Meyer – Functional Proteins And Information For Body Plans – video

    Dr. Stephen Meyer comments at the end of the preceding video,,,
    ‘Now one more problem as far as the generation of information. It turns out that you don’t only need information to build genes and proteins, it turns out to build Body-Plans you need higher levels of information; Higher order assembly instructions. DNA codes for the building of proteins, but proteins must be arranged into distinctive circuitry to form distinctive cell types. Cell types have to be arranged into tissues. Tissues have to be arranged into organs. Organs and tissues must be specifically arranged to generate whole new Body-Plans, distinctive arrangements of those body parts. We now know that DNA alone is not responsible for those higher orders of organization. DNA codes for proteins, but by itself it does not insure that proteins, cell types, tissues, organs, will all be arranged in the body. And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA. Which means you can mutate DNA indefinitely. 80 million years, 100 million years, til the cows come home. It doesn’t matter, because in the best case you are just going to find a new protein some place out there in that vast combinatorial sequence space. You are not, by mutating DNA alone, going to generate higher order structures that are necessary to building a body plan. So what we can conclude from that is that the neo-Darwinian mechanism is grossly inadequate to explain the origin of information necessary to build new genes and proteins, and it is also grossly inadequate to explain the origination of novel biological form.’
    Stephen Meyer – (excerpt taken from Meyer/Sternberg vs. Shermer/Prothero debate – 2009)

    The Types: A Persistent Structuralist Challenge to Darwinian Pan-Selectionism – Michael J. Denton – 2013
    Excerpt: Cell form ,,,Karsenti comments that despite the attraction of the (genetic) blueprint model there are no “simple linear chains of causal events that link genes to phenotypes” [77: p. 255]. And wherever there is no simple linear causal chain linking genes with phenotypes,,,—at any level in the organic hierarchy, from cells to body plans—the resulting form is bound to be to a degree epigenetic and emergent, and cannot be inferred from even the most exhaustive analysis of the genes.,,,
    To this author’s knowledge, to date the form of no individual cell has been shown to be specified in detail in a genomic blueprint. As mentioned above, between genes and mature cell form there is a complex hierarchy of self-organization and emergent phenomena, rendering cell form profoundly epigenetic.

    Moreover, as if that didn’t crush neo-Darwinism presuppositions coming out of the gate, contrary to popular belief, and contrary to the relentless propaganda coming from many neo-Darwinists, the 99% similarity figure is not even true:

    Geneticist Jeff Tomkins vs. Evolutionary Biologist who got laughed off stage – August 12, 2013
    Excerpt: Tomkins described the origin of the fallacious comparison as a myth that got started in reassociation kinetic methods of comparison in the mid-1970’s prior to the advent of modern sequencing techniques (like Illumina and Solexa). Reassociation kinetics was a technique where fragments of chimp and human DNA were mixed in the same chemical soup, and the DNAs that were reasonably similar would pair up, hence we got a biased sampling!
    If we take genes that are found in both humans and chimps and disregard the indels, we get the 98% figure. When indels are considered, the similarity drops to 80-85%!
    When including other sequences, the similarity drops even further, down to 70%. But that 70% figure itself, imho, is too generous. I don’t think Tomkins used ORFans or pseudo genes or many other intergenic sequences, and he explicitly avoided the complication of Synteny….

    The Myth of 98% Genetic Similarity (and Chromosome Fusion) between Humans and Chimps – Jeffrey Tomkins PhD. – video

    Comprehensive Analysis of Chimpanzee and Human Chromosomes Reveals Average DNA Similarity of 70% – by Jeffrey P. Tomkins – February 20, 2013
    Excerpt: For the chimp autosomes, the amount of optimally aligned DNA sequence provided similarities between 66 and 76%, depending on the chromosome. In general, the smaller and more gene-dense the chromosomes, the higher the DNA similarity—although there were several notable exceptions defying this trend. Only 69% of the chimpanzee X chromosome was similar to human and only 43% of the Y chromosome. Genome-wide, only 70% of the chimpanzee DNA was similar to human under the most optimal sequence-slice conditions. While, chimpanzees and humans share many localized protein-coding regions of high similarity, the overall extreme discontinuity between the two genomes defies evolutionary timescales and dogmatic presuppositions about a common ancestor.

    Using ENCODE Data for Human-Chimp DNA Comparisons by Jeffrey Tomkins, Ph.D.*
    Excerpt: In 2013, I published a research paper in which chimpanzee chromosomes were sequentially sliced into different sets of small pieces so that the algorithm could optimally compare them to human chromosomes. In so doing, I found that the chimpanzee genome was only about 70 percent similar to the human genome overall.7
    More research is needed to show specifically how the new wealth of publicly available ENCODE data can be used beyond basic studies of human-chimp DNA similarity—incorporating lincRNAs and vlincRNAs to further highlight human uniqueness. Research using three large datasets produced by the ENCODE project is now underway at ICR for the purpose of addressing these questions. In a concurrent study, I am also comparing human protein-coding regions to those in chimpanzees. In combination, these new analyses will provide a much more detailed picture of what makes humans unique and will further demonstrate we are not evolved apes.

    The Chimp-Human 1% Difference: A Useful Lie – 06/29/2007
    Excerpt: But truth be told, Wilson and King also noted that the 1% difference wasn’t the whole story. They predicted that there must be profound differences outside genes—they focused on gene regulation—to account for the anatomical and behavioral disparities between our knuckle-dragging cousins and us. Several recent studies have proven them perspicacious again, raising the question of whether the 1% truism should be retired.
    “For many, many years, the 1% difference served us well because it was underappreciated how similar we were,” says Pascal Gagneux, a zoologist at UC San Diego. “Now it’s totally clear that it’s more a hindrance for understanding than a help.”,,,
    This is a very disturbing article. We have basically caught the Darwinists in a bald lie that has hoodwinked the world for over 30 years. Gagneux says, “For many, many years, the 1% difference served us well” – stop right there! Who is “us”? Was it the millions of school children and laymen who were lied to? Was it the majority of people who believe God created mankind, suffering under an onslaught of lies told in the name of science? No! “Us” refers to the members of the Darwin Party,,,

  3. 3
    leodp says:

    bornagain77: “And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA.” What then controls body plans and where is that information stored? How is it implemented — what are the controlling mechanisms? How much do we now know?

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    leodp you ask,

    What then controls body plans and where is that information stored? How is it implemented — what are the controlling mechanisms? How much do we now know?

    ,,, as to what we know for certain, we are certain that all the information for embryonic development is NOT stored in DNA as is by presupposed by the neo-Darwinian framework (i.e. by the modern synthesis):

    Peer-Reviewed Paper: Development Needs Ontogenetic Information that Cannot Arise from Neo-Darwinian Mechanisms – Casey Luskin – June 2, 2014

    But in trying to answer the rest of your question,

    “What then controls body plans and where is that information stored? How is it implemented — what are the controlling mechanisms?”,,,

    It is better, as I pointed out yesterday, to realize just how much we don’t know, than what we do know, to truly appreciate the magnitude of the question before us:

    repost from yesterday:

    In pointing out how far off base Darwinists are in their insistence that most of the sequences in DNA are junk, it is good to reflect on just how little we know.,,,

    One Body – animation – video

    As to how a single cell of a billion protein molecules turns into a human of trillions of cells, at roughly a billion trillion molecules total, nobody, and I repeat NOBODY, has a solid clue as to how this ‘miracle’, (and I am not using that word lightly), is pulled off.

    Excerpt: “If you think air traffic controllers have a tough job guiding planes into major airports or across a crowded continental airspace, consider the challenge facing a human cell trying to position its proteins”. A given cell, he notes, may make more than 10,000 different proteins, and typically contains more than a billion protein molecules at any one time. “Somehow a cell must get all its proteins to their correct destinations — and equally important, keep these molecules out of the wrong places”. And further: “It’s almost as if every mRNA [an intermediate between a gene and a corresponding protein] coming out of the nucleus knows where it’s going” (Travis 2011),,,
    Further, the billion protein molecules in a cell are virtually all capable of interacting with each other to one degree or another; they are subject to getting misfolded or “all balled up with one another”; they are critically modified through the attachment or detachment of molecular subunits, often in rapid order and with immediate implications for changing function; they can wind up inside large-capacity “transport vehicles” headed in any number of directions; they can be sidetracked by diverse processes of degradation and recycling… and so on without end. Yet the coherence of the whole is maintained.
    The question is indeed, then, “How does the organism meaningfully dispose of all its molecules, getting them to the right places and into the right interactions?”
    The same sort of question can be asked of cells, for example in the growing embryo, where literal streams of cells are flowing to their appointed places, differentiating themselves into different types as they go, and adjusting themselves to all sorts of unpredictable perturbations — even to the degree of responding appropriately when a lab technician excises a clump of them from one location in a young embryo and puts them in another, where they may proceed to adapt themselves in an entirely different and proper way to the new environment. It is hard to quibble with the immediate impression that form (which is more idea-like than thing-like) is primary, and the material particulars subsidiary.
    Two systems biologists, one from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Germany and one from Harvard Medical School, frame one part of the problem this way:
    “The human body is formed by trillions of individual cells. These cells work together with remarkable precision, first forming an adult organism out of a single fertilized egg, and then keeping the organism alive and functional for decades. To achieve this precision, one would assume that each individual cell reacts in a reliable, reproducible way to a given input, faithfully executing the required task. However, a growing number of studies investigating cellular processes on the level of single cells revealed large heterogeneity even among genetically identical cells of the same cell type. (Loewer and Lahav 2011)”,,,
    And then we hear that all this meaningful activity is, somehow, meaningless or a product of meaninglessness. This, I believe, is the real issue troubling the majority of the American populace when they are asked about their belief in evolution. They see one thing and then are told, more or less directly, that they are really seeing its denial. Yet no one has ever explained to them how you get meaning from meaninglessness — a difficult enough task once you realize that we cannot articulate any knowledge of the world at all except in the language of meaning.,,,

    Talbott is certainly not alone in his assessment;

    Alexander Tsiaras: Conception to birth — visualized – video

    Mathematician Alexander Tsiaras on Human Development: “It’s a Mystery, It’s Magic, It’s Divinity” – March 2012
    Excerpt: ‘The magic of the mechanisms inside each genetic structure saying exactly where that nerve cell should go, the complexity of these, the mathematical models on how these things are indeed done, are beyond human comprehension. Even though I am a mathematician, I look at this with the marvel of how do these instruction sets not make these mistakes as they build what is us. It’s a mystery, it’s magic, it’s divinity.’

    Alexander Tsiaras is not exaggerating in the least:

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 2012
    Excerpt: “This is bad news. Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.”,,,
    Even with shortcuts like averaging, “any possible technological advance is overwhelmed by the relentless growth of interactions among all components of the system,” Koch said. “It is not feasible to understand evolved organisms by exhaustively cataloging all interactions in a comprehensive, bottom-up manner.” He described the concept of the Complexity Brake:,,,
    “Allen and Greaves recently introduced the metaphor of a “complexity brake” for the observation that fields as diverse as neuroscience and cancer biology have proven resistant to facile predictions about imminent practical applications. Improved technologies for observing and probing biological systems has only led to discoveries of further levels of complexity that need to be dealt with. This process has not yet run its course. We are far away from understanding cell biology, genomes, or brains, and turning this understanding into practical knowledge.”,,,
    to read more go here:

    Thus, despite the sheer hubris of Darwinists to declare the vast majority of our DNA junk before we have even had a chance to study it in any meaningful way, the fact of the matter is that the complexity being dealt with in molecular biology is far, far, beyond anything man has ever encountered before, and is certainly far from being understood,,,, much less are Darwinists anywhere close to giving us a rational explanation as to how that unfathomable complexity, of how a single cell can turn into trillions of cells functioning as a single cohesive whole, came about.

    Despite what Darwinists dogmatically claim to the contrary, the plain truth of the matter is that everyone of you are fearfully and wonderfully made:

    Verse and Music:

    Psalms 139:14-15
    I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

    MercyMe – Beautiful

    Supplemental videos

    Human Anatomy – Impressive Transparent Visualization – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made – video

    Introduction to Cells – Anatomy – video

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    leodp- we don’t know what determines the body plan. We seem to have a good idea on what doesn’t determine it.

    Given ID’s penchant for immaterial information I would say there is immaterial information in each cell that runs its operations. I would also say there is immaterial information that determines the body plan. The only way to find out where exactly that is is by artificially synthesizing each part of the cell one component at a time- we would do that to gametes and see how the embryo developed, if it developed at all.

    However, given materialism, no one is even looking.

  6. 6
    Dionisio says:


    bornagain77: “And what that means is that the Body-Plan morphogenesis, as it is called, depends upon information that is not encoded on DNA.”
    What then controls body plans and where is that information stored? How is it implemented — what are the controlling mechanisms? How much do we now know?

    On several occasions Dr. GP has referred to ‘procedures’ associated with the questions you have asked here.
    If you look at the around 180 examples of elaborate biological choreographies posted in the thread titled “The Third Way” you will realize the magnitude of the challenge the scientists face while trying to understand those interrelated mechanisms of cell fate determination and the whole nine yards.
    It doesn’t make much sense to me that we try to speculate on the origin of complex informational systems we barely can describe and in many cases poorly understand. It would make more sense to dedicate more efforts to trying to figure out how they function and what they do.
    These are exciting times to watch what’s going on in science. We ain’t seen nothing yet. The party is just starting. The fun part is still ahead. 😉

  7. 7
    Dionisio says:

    It doesn’t make much sense to me that we try to speculate on the origin of complex informational systems we barely can describe and in many cases poorly understand. It would make more sense to dedicate more resources to trying to figure out how those complex mechanisms function and what they do.

    Perhaps it would make more sense to use the funds going to SETI in order to fund more biology-related research, which could help to find better treatments and even cure for multiple diseases.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    But the aliens know how to cure what ails us!

    If we could just get in touch with them.

  9. 9
    Mark Frank says:

    Whatever problems there may be in explaining the OOL they have no relevance to common ancestry. However it happened, life did begin (unless you are determined to discard cosmology as well as biology).

    What exactly are you proposing with respect to humans? That they are not descended from other simpler life forms but spring into existence fully formed? Physically how could that happen? What would it look like?

  10. 10
    Dionisio says:

    Mark Frank,

    The jury is still out on this. Most discussions on ‘evo devo’ issues are still highly speculative these days.

    Check this out:


  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    Mark Frank asks,,

    What exactly are you proposing with respect to humans? That they are not descended from other simpler life forms but spring into existence fully formed? Physically how could that happen? What would it look like?

    Interesting question, as to ‘What would it look like?’ why don’t we ask the fossil record?:

    “Darwin’s prediction of rampant, albeit gradual, change affecting all lineages through time is refuted. The record is there, and the record speaks for tremendous anatomical conservatism. Change in the manner Darwin expected is just not found in the fossil record.”
    Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, The Myth of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 45-46.

    “A number of hominid crania are known from sites in eastern and southern Africa in the 400- to 200-thousand-year range, but none of them looks like a close antecedent of the anatomically distinctive Homo sapiens…Even allowing for the poor record we have of our close extinct kin, Homo sapiens appears as distinctive and unprecedented…there is certainly no evidence to support the notion that we gradually became who we inherently are over an extended period, in either the physical or the intellectual sense.”
    Dr. Ian Tattersall: – paleoanthropologist – emeritus curator of the American Museum of Natural History – (Masters of the Planet, 2012)

    “It is hard for us paleontologists, steeped as we are in a tradition of Darwinian analysis, to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably. New data acquired in recent years, instead of solving Darwin’s dilemma, have rather made it worse. Meyer describes the dimensions of the problem with clarity and precision. His book is a game changer for the study of evolution and points us in the right direction as we seek a new theory for the origin of animals.”
    -Dr. Mark McMenamin – 2013
    Paleontologist at Mt. Holyoke College and author of The Emergence of Animals

    “The Cambrian Explosion occurred in a geological moment, and we have reason to think that all major anatomical designs may have made their evolutionary appearance at that time. …not only the phylum Chordata itself, but also all its major divisions, arose within the Cambrian Explosion…. Contrary to Darwin’s expectation that new data would reveal gradualistic continuity with slow and steady expansion, all major discoveries of the past century have only heightened the massiveness and geological abruptness of this formative event…”
    (Gould, Nature, Vol.377, 26 10/95, p.682).

    “Almost all currently existing Metazoan phyla emerged during a relatively short Cambrian period around 510–550 million years ago (Cambrian Explosion) (reviewed in refs. 1 and 2). In previous periods paleontologists find diverse fauna of unicellular organisms and spongi. Shortly before Cambrian period some Cnidarian and Ediacaran fauna was found, but no other Metazoa. The appearance in evolution of the entire Metazoan fauna seems to have been very sudden. Interestingly, even in early Cambrian layers, in addition to primitive representatives of various phyla, more advanced forms, including relatively complex Crustaceae were discovered.3 Based on these data it was suggested that diversification of Metazoa started way before Cambrian period, however this suggestion appeals to existence of effectively unfossilizable forms, making these types of organism paleontologically “invisible”. This idea is supported by reports of putative trace fossils (e.g., tracks or burrows) dating to pre-Cambrian era. These claims, however, raise a question why fossilizable forms of various phyla appeared almost simultaneously, and were generally refuted, as discussed in recent review (ref. 2). Therefore, it appears that there was no sequential appearance of the major Metazoan taxons from simpler to more complex phyla, as would be predicted by the classical evolutionary model.”
    Shermer, M. – Universal genome in the origin of metazoa: thoughts about evolution. Cell Cycle. 2007 Aug 1;6(15):1873-7

    “If we were to expect to find ancestors to or intermediates between higher taxa, it would be the rocks of the late Precambrian to Ordivician times, when the bulk of the world’s higher animal taxa evolved. Yet traditional alliances are unknown or unconfirmed for any of the phyla or classes appearing then.”
    (Valentine, Development As An Evolutionary Process, p.84, 1987)

    The Ham-Nye Creation Debate: A Huge Missed Opportunity – Casey Luskin – February 4, 2014
    Excerpt: “The record of the first appearance of living phyla, classes, and orders can best be described in Wright’s (1) term as ‘from the top down’.”
    (James W. Valentine, “Late Precambrian bilaterians: Grades and clades,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 91: 6751-6757 (July 1994).)

    “Darwin had a lot of trouble with the fossil record because if you look at the record of phyla in the rocks as fossils why when they first appear we already see them all. The phyla are fully formed. It’s as if the phyla were created first and they were modified into classes and we see that the number of classes peak later than the number of phyla and the number of orders peak later than that. So it’s kind of a top down succession, you start with this basic body plans, the phyla, and you diversify them into classes, the major sub-divisions of the phyla, and these into orders and so on. So the fossil record is kind of backwards from what you would expect from in that sense from what you would expect from Darwin’s ideas.”
    James W. Valentine – On the Origin of Phyla: Interviews with James W. Valentine

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    “In Chen’s view, his evidence supports a history of life that runs opposite to the standard evolutionary tree diagrams, a progression he calls top-down evolution.” Jun-Yuan Chen is professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology

    In Explaining the Cambrian Explosion, Has the TalkOrigins Archive Resolved Darwin’s Dilemma? – JonathanM – May 2012
    Excerpt: it is the pattern of morphological disparity preceding diversity that is fundamentally at odds with the neo-Darwinian scenario of gradualism. All of the major differences (i.e. the higher taxonomic categories such as phyla) appear first in the fossil record and then the lesser taxonomic categories such as classes, orders, families, genera and species appear later. On the Darwinian view, one would expect to see all of the major differences in body plan appear only after numerous small-scale speciation events. But this is not what we observe.

    “The facts of greatest general importance are the following. When a new phylum, class, or order appears, there follows a quick, explosive (in terms of geological time) diversification so that practically all orders or families known appear suddenly and without any apparent transitions. Afterwards, a slow evolution follows; this frequently has the appearance of a gradual change, step by step, though down to the generic level abrupt major steps without transitions occur. At the end of such a series, a kind of evolutionary running-wild frequently is observed. Giant forms appear, and odd or pathological types of different kinds precede the extinction of such a line.”
    Richard B. Goldschmidt, “Evolution, as Viewed by One Geneticist,” American Scientist 40 (January 1952), 97.

    As Roger Lewin (1988) explains in Science,
    “Several possible patterns exist for the establishment of higher taxa, the two most obvious of which are the bottom-up and the top-down approaches. In the first, evolutionary novelties emerge, bit by bit. The Cambrian explosion appears to conform to the second pattern, the top-down effect.”

    Erwin et al. (1987), in their study of marine invertebrates, similarly conclude that,
    “The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, orders before that of families. The higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa.”
    Indeed, the existence of numerous small and soft-bodied animals in the Precambrian strata undermines one of the most popular responses that these missing transitions can be accounted for by them being too small and too-soft bodied to be preserved.

    Scientific study turns understanding about evolution on its head – July 30, 2013
    Excerpt: evolutionary biologists,,, looked at nearly one hundred fossil groups to test the notion that it takes groups of animals many millions of years to reach their maximum diversity of form.
    Contrary to popular belief, not all animal groups continued to evolve fundamentally new morphologies through time. The majority actually achieved their greatest diversity of form (disparity) relatively early in their histories.
    ,,,Dr Matthew Wills said: “This pattern, known as ‘early high disparity’, turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years. This isn’t a phenomenon particularly associated with the first radiation of animals (in the Cambrian Explosion), or periods in the immediate wake of mass extinctions.”,,,
    Author Martin Hughes, continued: “Our work implies that there must be constraints on the range of forms within animal groups, and that these limits are often hit relatively early on.
    Co-author Dr Sylvain Gerber, added: “A key question now is what prevents groups from generating fundamentally new forms later on in their evolution.,,,

    “With the benefit of hindsight, it is amazing that paleontologists could have accepted gradual evolution as a universal pattern on the basis of a handful of supposedly well-documented lineages (e.g. Gryphaea, Micraster, Zaphrentis) none of which actually withstands close scrutiny.”
    Christopher R.C. Paul, “Patterns of Evolution and Extinction in Invertebrates,” K.C. Allen and D.E.G. Briggs, eds., Evolution and the Fossil Record (Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989), 105.

    “It must be significant that nearly all the evolutionary stories I learned as a student from Trueman’s Ostrea/Gryphaea to Carruthers’ Zaphrentis delanouei, have now been ‘debunked’. Similarly, my own experience of more than twenty years looking for evolutionary lineages among the Mesozoic Brachiopoda has proved them equally elusive.’
    Dr. Derek V. Ager (Department of Geology & Oceonography, University College, Swansea, UK), ‘The nature of the fossil record’. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, vol.87(2), 1976,p.132.

    “The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find’ over and over again’ not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.”
    Paleontologist, Derek V. Ager, “The Nature of the Fossil Record,” 87 Proceedings of the British Geological Association 87 (1976): 133. (Department of Geology & Oceanography, University College, Swansea, UK)

    “It is a feature of the known fossil record that most taxa appear abruptly. They are not, as a rule, led up to by a sequence of almost imperceptibly changing forerunners such as Darwin believed should be usual in evolution…This phenomenon becomes more universal and more intense as the hierarchy of categories is ascended. Gaps among known species are sporadic and often small. Gaps among known orders, classes and phyla are systematic and almost always large.”
    G.G.Simpson – one of the most influential American Paleontologist of the 20th century

    “A major problem in proving the theory has been the fossil record; the imprints of vanished species preserved in the Earth’s geological formations. This record has never revealed traces of Darwin’s hypothetical intermediate variants – instead species appear and disappear abruptly, and this anomaly has fueled the creationist argument that each species was created by God.”
    Paleontologist, Mark Czarnecki

    “There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways, it has become almost unmanageably rich and discovery is outpacing integration. The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps.”
    T. Neville George – Professor of paleontology – Glasgow University,

    “Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them.”
    David Kitts – Paleontologist – D.B. Kitts, Paleontology and Evolutionary Theory (1974), p. 467.

    “The long-term stasis, following a geologically abrupt origin, of most fossil morphospecies, has always been recognized by professional paleontologists” –
    Stephen Jay Gould – Harvard

    “The sweep of anatomical diversity reached a maximum right after the initial diversification of multicellular animals. The later history of life proceeded by elimination not expansion.”
    Stephen J. Gould, Harvard, Wonderful Life, 1989, p.46

    Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document gradual steady change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series. New types often appear quite suddenly, and their intermediate ancestors are absent in the earlier geologic strata. The discovery of unbroken series of species changing gradually into descending species is very rare. Indeed the fossil record is one of discontinuities, seemingly documenting jumps (saltations) from one type of organism to a different type. This raises a puzzling question: Why does the fossil record fail to reflect the gradual change one would expect from evolution?
    Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 14 – Professor Emeritus, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University

    “What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin, and the continual divergence of major lineages into the morphospace between distinct adaptive types.”
    Robert L Carroll (born 1938) – vertebrate paleontologist who specialises in Paleozoic and Mesozoic amphibians

    “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums now are filled with over 100 million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track. What is the picture which the fossils have given us? … The gaps between major groups of organisms have been growing even wider and more undeniable. They can no longer be ignored or rationalized away with appeals to imperfection of the fossil record.”
    Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma 1988, Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, p. 9

    “The evidence we find in the geological record is not nearly as compatible with Darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be …. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than in Darwin’s time … so Darwin’s problem has not been alleviated”.
    David Raup, Curator of Geology at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History

    “Instead of finding the gradual unfolding of life, what geologists of Darwin’s time, and geologists of the present day actually find is a highly uneven or jerky record; that is, species appear in the sequence very suddenly, show little or no change during their existence in the record, then abruptly go out of the record. and it is not always clear, in fact it’s rarely clear, that the descendants were actually better adapted than their predecessors. In other words, biological improvement is hard to find.”
    David M. Raup, “Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology,” Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, 50 (January 1979): 23, 22-29.

    “In virtually all cases a new taxon appears for the first time in the fossil record with most definitive features already present, and practically no known stem-group forms.”
    Tom S. Kemp, Fossils and Evolution (New York; Oxford University Press, 1999), 246. – Curator of Zoological Collections

    “Every paleontologist knows that most new species, genera, and families, and that nearly all categories above the level of family appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.”
    George Gaylord Simpson (evolutionist), The Major Features of Evolution, New York, Columbia University Press, 1953 p. 360.

    “The record certainly did not reveal gradual transformations of structure in the course of time. On the contrary, it showed that species generally remained constant throughout their history and were replaced quite suddenly by significantly different forms. New types or classes seemed to appear fully formed, with no sign of an evolutionary trend by which they could have emerged from an earlier type.”
    Peter Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1984), 187.

    “No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It seems never to happen. Assiduous collecting up cliff faces yields zigzags, minor oscillations, and the very occasional slight accumulation of change over millions of years, at a rate too slow to really account for all the prodigious change that has occurred in evolutionary history. When we do see the introduction of evolutionary novelty, it usually shows up with a bang, and often with no firm evidence that the organisms did not evolve elsewhere! Evolution cannot forever be going on someplace else. Yet that’s how the fossil record has struck many a forlorn paleontologist looking to learn something about evolution.” –
    Niles Eldredge , “Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate,” 1996, p.95

    “Enthusiastic paleontologists in several countries have claimed pieces of this missing record, but the claims have all been disputed and in any case do not provide real connections. That brings me to the second most surprising feature of the fossil record…the abruptness of some of the major changes in the history of life.”
    Ager, D. – Author of “The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record”-1981

    “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology.”
    Stephen Jay Gould

    “The lack of ancestral or intermediate forms between fossil species is not a bizarre peculiarity of early metazoan history. Gaps are general and prevalent throughout the fossil record.”
    R.A. Raff and T.C. Kaufman, Embryos, Genes, and Evolution: The Developmental-Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1991), 34.

    “Species [in the strata of the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming] that were once thought to have turned into others have been found to overlap in time with these alleged descendants. In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.”
    Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 95.

    “The fossil record itself provided no documentation of continuity – of gradual transition from one animal or plant to another of quite different form.”
    Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 40.

    “No one has found any such in-between creatures. This was long chalked up to ‘gaps’ in the fossil records, gaps that proponents of gradualism confidently expected to fill in someday when rock strata of the proper antiquity were eventually located. But all the fossil evidence to date has failed to turn up any such missing links . . . There is a growing conviction among many scientists that these transitional forms never existed.”
    Niles Eldredge, quoted in George Alexander, “Alternate Theory of Evolution Considered,” Los Angeles Times, November 19, 1978.

    “Gradualism, the idea that all change must be smooth, slow, and steady, was never read from the rocks.”
    Stephen Jay Gould, “An Early Start,” Natural History 87, February 1978): 24.

    “Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of Darwin’s authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it. Yet Gould and the American Museum people [i.e., Eldredge] are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils. As a paleontologist myself, I am much occupied with the philosophical problems of identifying ancestral forms in the fossil record. You say that I should at least ‘show a photo of the fossil from which each type of organism was derived.’ I will lay it on the line – there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”
    Colin Patterson to Luther Sunderland, April 10, 1979, quoted in Luther .D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, 4th ed. (El Cajon, CA: Master Book Publishers, 1988), 89.

    Paleontologist Mark McMenamin on Darwin’s Doubt – David Klinghoffer June 17, 2013
    Excerpt: “It is hard for us paleontologists, steeped as we are in a tradition of Darwinian analysis, to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian Explosion have failed miserably. New data acquired in recent years, instead of solving Darwin’s dilemma, have rather made it worse. Meyer describes the dimensions of the problem with clarity and precision. His book is a game changer for the study of evolution and evolutionary biology. Stephen Meyer points us in the right direction as we seek a new theory for the origin of Cambrian animal phyla.”
    – Mark McMenamin – paleontologist at Mt. Holyoke College

  12. 12
    Joe says:

    Mark Frank:

    Whatever problems there may be in explaining the OOL they have no relevance to common ancestry.

    Of course the OoL is relevant to how life evolved. If the OoL produced many populations then we would expect many trees unless all but one population got wiped out.

    What exactly are you proposing with respect to humans? That they are not descended from other simpler life forms but spring into existence fully formed? Physically how could that happen? What would it look like?

    Right now we cannot test the claim that humans evolved from non-humans. No one knows what that would look like.

    How could a car appear to spring into exostence fully formed on the road?

  13. 13
    snelldl says:

    Here is a book on embryology I’ve been reading:


    It will blow your mind. Very little about evolution.

  14. 14
    leodp says:

    bornagain77 (and others who responded): Thank you for providing helpful information to my question about body-plan creation, regulation and control. I’ve read, “Darwin’s Doubt”, and was wondering if there has been any serious non-ad hominem reviews or reactions from biology community. Apparently the challenges to NDT Meyer raised have not been answered. And some very fundamental and major questions about how cells and organisms are built are still unknown/unexplained, at least in a naturalistic way. Or a non-ID way.

    I’m a technically oriented layman (computer programmer in nuclear power maintenance programs, and before that a pilot and aircraft mechanic – until recent retirement). I’ve had a keen life-long interest in biology and the origin of life subject (and science and technology in general). I’ve learned as much as I can through reading, and from what we get on science and nature TV programming. My interest first began in a high school biology class (in the 60’s) where we were taught that a naturalistic, Darwinian answer to how we came to be was all but complete. After all, we had Miller-Urey and Watson and Crick. Life began in a warm little pond of amino acids; life formed and then RM + NS did the rest. Unguided, random point mutations to the DNA code were the source of all innovation. My teacher at the time said (with a groan and a pained look), “Some of you will still want to believe in God. If you must, that’s fine, but God didn’t have anything to do with us being here.”

    I had a hard time then believing that chance and unguided mechanisms would be up to this task, and in the years since have only become more convinced. As a Christian I also realized that if the things I was being taught here were in fact true, then the Christian faith was falsified at the very foundation. But having examined and questioned my faith many times since I’ve only become, in the end, more convinced it is true.

    The current situation is scandalous. To students and the general public naturalistic Darwinian evolution is presented as settled science – only minor technical questions (though interesting) remain to be fleshed out. The major problems with the theory that have been discussed here are never presented. Only a unified, completely confident face is shown. Worse, even mildly questioning Darwin is extremely career adverse if a person wants a career in the sciences or in teaching. Fortunately for me, I’m a technician. I’ve had to write programs that actually function well and give reliable answers on how to best maintain nuclear plant equipment. Accurate data and careful and precise planning, design and coding are required to do this. Random code changes are always adverse in the real world. The same goes for flying and aircraft maintenance. Random design or actions degrade hurt or kill.
    My question is this: when will students and the public at large be let-in on the major and fundamental evidential problems, questions and doubts about the Darwinian story they are being lead to believe?

    This question isn’t just scientific or esoteric. It has broad implications to many other important areas of life. Does our existence have any transcendent purpose or meaning? Is there a moral order higher than individual opinion or preferences? Politically, Darwinian claims are poison to the foundational tenants of the American experiment: that “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. Take the powerful, purposeful and personal Creator out of that foundation and you’ve destroyed that foundation, and with it all else goes. Whence human rights, other than what those in power choose to grant or deny?

    For your enjoyment: “Where is your God?” http://vimeo.com/100252962

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    My question is this: when will students and the public at large be let-in on the major and fundamental evidential problems, questions and doubts about the Darwinian story they are being lead to believe?

    I use to think that if ID could only get its evidence to the right people in the right places then they would change their mind about Darwinian evolution and we would have a fundamental ‘paradigm shift’ from the ‘top down’. But after a few years of banging my head on that wall to no avail, I realized that it is not a head problem with these people so much as it is a heart problem. i.e. many influential people in academia simply don’t want Design to be true no matter what evidence you present to them. Indeed, in many educational institutions, there is a systematic effort in academia to Expel anyone who does not toe the Darwinian party line. Thus the growth in popular support for ID has been more of a ‘bottom up’ affair:

    Max Planck had this to say about new ideas in science:

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”
    Max Planck quotes (German theoretical Physicist who originated quantum theory, 1858-1947)

    Planck also had this to say:

    “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”
    Max Planck – The Father Of Quantum Mechanics – Das Wesen der Materie [The Nature of Matter], speech at Florence, Italy (1944) (from Archiv zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Abt. Va, Rep. 11 Planck, Nr. 1797)(Of Note: Max Planck was a devoted Christian from early life to death, was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God.)

    Of related interest to the Planck Quotes, since quantum mechanics is very friendly to Theism,then we also find this disconnect between ‘head and heart’ issues in quantum mechanics. Please note the poll at the 8:22 mark of the following video. Please note how ‘metaphysical prejudice’ drastically alters what physicists are willing to believe.

    The Measurement Problem in quantum mechanics – video

    Thus science is far from the black and white affair that everyone imagines it to be,,, where evidence always wins the day.,,, Scientists are subject to the same pride and prejudices as everyone else.,,, perhaps more so when the issues relate to their preferred worldview.

  16. 16
    Upright BiPed says:

    Whatever problems there may be in explaining the OOL they have no relevance to common ancestry.

    Mark, the rise of the singularly-unique physically conditions for one phenomenon, are exactly those that enabled the other. They are physically inseparable.

    You would know this, except for that you refuse to engage what those physical conditions are, and why they are inseparable from both OoL and descent (common or otherwise).

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Stephen Meyer – Responding to Critics: Marshall, Part 2

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