Intelligent Design

Gradualism: The Darwinist Article of Faith

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Commenter Seqenenre writes:

Me, my mother, her mother, her mother etc 110 million times. Each and every mother and daughter are of the same species. Yet number 50 million and 49.999.999 certainly are not human. I find this puzzling.

We can deduce two things from this comment. First, Seqenenre is not a native English speaker. I deduce this from the fact that he uses a period instead of a comma as a digit group separator. It is neither here nor there, but I am guessing German.

The second thing I deduce is that Seqenenre has drunk deeply from the well of Darwinist gradualism. Yet there is simply no evidence that gradualism in the way Darwin expected ever happened. Indeed, the rocks suggest it never did. Even Darwin admitted this in Origin and said it was the gravest objection to his theory:

But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.

In the intervening 150 yeas, the evidence against gradualism in the manner Darwin envisioned has only gotten worse. Following are several quotations. Prediction: I will be accused of quote mining. Those who accuse me of quote mining will have the burden of demonstrating that I am quoting all of these writers out of context, and in context they mean something other than what I appear to be quoting them for. Second prediction: There will be much bluster and bluffing, but none of my accusers will be able to back up their charge.

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 changeover 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 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 95.

“The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and hence offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid.” Steven M. Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1979), 39.

When we view Darwinian gradualism on a geological timescale, we may expect to find in the fossil record a long series of intermediate forms connecting phenotypes of ancestral and descendant populations. This predicted pattern is called phyletic gradualism. Darwin recognized that phyletic gradualism is not often revealed by the fossil record. Studies conducted since Darwin’s time likewise have failed to produce the continuous series of fossils predicted by phyletic gradualism. Is the theory of gradualism therefore refuted? Darwin and others claim that it is not, because the fossil record is too imperfect to preserve transitional series . . . Others have argued, however, that the abrupt origins and extinctions of species in the fossil record force us to conclude that phyletic gradualism is rare. A number of contemporary biologists, however, favor various hypotheses of the punctuated equilibrium theory . . . They base their hypotheses on fossil records which have large ‘chains’ of missing organisms. Although missing-link fossils are occasionally discovered, the record does little to support Darwin’s concept of gradual, long-term change . . . Others opposed to hypotheses of evolution through sudden change argue that because such a tiny percentage of organisms becomes fossilized . . . drawing definite conclusions from fossil evidence about evolution through either gradual or sudden change is not warranted.

Cleveland Hickman, Jr., Larry S. Roberts, and Allan Larson, Animal Diversity (New York: McGraw Hill, 2000), 23, 261.

“Gradualism, the idea that all change must be smooth, slow, and steady, was never read from the rocks. It was primarily a prejudice of nineteenth-century liberalism facing a world in revolution. But it continues to color our supposedly objective reading of life’s history.” Stephen Jay Gould, “An Early Start,” Natural History 87, February 1978): 24.

“I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism . . . I wish only to point out that it was never ‘seen’ in the rocks.” Stephen Jay Gould, “Evolution’s Erratic Pace,” Natural History 86 (May 1977), 14, 12-16.

“The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change . . .” Stephen Jay Gould, “The Return of Hopeful Monsters,” Natural History 86 (June/July 1977): 22, 22-30.

The word ‘evolution’ means unfolding, and for more than a century biologists have portrayed the evolution of life as a gradual unfolding of new living things from old, the slow molding of animals and plants into entirely different forms. It was this persistent style of change that Darwin described as The Origin of Species. Today the fossil record – a rich source of information that was long untapped – is forcing us to revise this conventional view of evolution. As it turns out, myriads of species have inhabited the Earth for millions of years without evolving noticeably. On the other hand, evolutionary transitions have been wrought during episodes of rapid change, when new species have quickly budded off from old ones. In short evolution has moved by fits and starts.

Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 3-4.

“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.

“The fossil record flatly fails to substantiate this expectation of finely graded change.” Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, The Myth of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 163.

“Palaeobiologists flocked to these scientific visions of a world in a constant state of flux and admixture. But instead of finding the slow, smooth and progressive changes Lyell and Darwin had expected, they saw in the fossil records rapid bursts of change, new species appearing seemingly out of nowhere and then remaining unchanged for millions of years-patterns hauntingly reminiscent of creation.” Mark Pagel, “Happy Accidents?” review of The Pattern of Evolution, by Niles Eldredge, Nature 397 (February 25, 1999): 665.

“Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin’s postulate of gradualism . . . and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record.” Ernst Mayer, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), 138.

[We] are still in the dark about the origin of most major groups of organisms. They appear in the fossil record as Athena did from the head of Zeus – full-blown and raring to go, in contradiction to Darwin’s depiction of evolution as resulting from the gradual accumulation of countless infinitesimally minute variations, which, in turn, demands that the fossil record preserve an unbroken chain of transitional forms.

Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), 3.

“At the higher level of evolutionary transition between basic morphological designs, gradualism has always been in trouble, though it remains the “official” position of most Western evolutionists. Smooth intermediates between Bauplane [i.e., body plans] are almost impossible to construct, even in thought experiments; there is certainly no evidence for them in the fossil record (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do not count). Even so convinced a gradualist as G. G. Simpson (1944) invoked quantum evolution and inadaptive phases to explain these transitions.” Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, “Punctuated Equilibria: the Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered,” Paleobiology 3 (1977): 147, 115-147.

“Perhaps we should not be surprised that vertebrate paleontologists did not support the prevailing view of slow, progressive evolution but tended to elaborate theories involving saltation, orthogenesis, or other vitalistic hypotheses. Most of the evidence provided by the fossil record does not support a strictly gradualistic interpretation, as pointed out by Eldredge and Gould (1972), Gould and Eldredge (1977), Gould (1985), and Stanley (1979, 1982).” Robert L. Carroll, Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution (New York: W.H. Freeman, 1988), 4 (emphasis in original).

“The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.” Stephen Jay Gould, “Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging?” Paleobiology 6 (January 1980): 127, 119-130.

The Modern Synthesis was perhaps not so much a true synthesis as it was a victory for gradualistic genetics [but the] known fossil record is not, and never has been, in accord with gradualism. What is remarkable is that, through a variety of historical circumstances, even the history of opposition has been obscured. Few modern paleontologists seem to have recognized that in the past century, as the biological historian William Coleman has recently written, ‘The majority of paleontologists felt their evidence simply contradicted Darwin’s stress on minute, slow, and cumulative changes leading to species transformation.’ In the next chapter I will describe not only what the fossils have to say, but why their story has been suppressed.

Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 71.

“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.

“Undeniably, the fossil record has provided disappointingly few gradual series. The origins of many groups are still not documented at all.” Douglas J. Futuyama, The Case for Evolution (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), 190-91.

“The main problem with such phyletic gradualism is that the fossil record provides so little evidence for it. Very rarely can we trace the gradual transformation of one entire species into another through a finely graded sequence of intermediary forms.”
Salvador Luria, Stephen Jay Gould and Sam Singer, A View of Life (Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings, 1981), 641.

Paleontologists have paid an enormous price for Darwin’s argument. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we almost never see the very process we profess to study . . . The history of most fossil species includes tow [sic] features particularly inconsistent with gradualism: 1. Stasis. Most species exhibit no directional change during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change I [sic] usually limited and directionless. 2. Sudden appearance. In any local area, a species does not arise gradually by the steady transformation of its ancestors; it appears all at once and ‘fully formed.’

Stephen Jay Gould, “The Episodic Nature of Evolutionary Change,” in The Panda’s Thumb: More Reflections In Natural History (New York: Norton, 1980), 181-182.

“We would not have predicted stasis from population genetics, but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that small changes do not accumulate.” Francisco J. Ayala, quoted in Roger Lewin, “Evolutionary Theory Under Fire,” Science 210 (November 21, 1980): 884.

“[I]f 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.” Derek V. Ager, “The Nature of the Fossil Record,” 87 Proceedings of the British Geological Association 87 (1976): 133.

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

“. . . the tale itself illustrates the central fact of the fossil record so well [the] geologically abrupt origin and subsequent extended stasis of most species . . . Anatomy may fluctuate through time, but the last remnants of a species look pretty much like the first representatives.” Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 749.

“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.

“It is a simple ineluctable truth that virtually all members of a biota remain basically stable, with minor fluctuations, throughout their duration . . .” Niles Eldredge, The Pattern of Evolution (New York: W.H. Freeman, 1998), 157.

“. . .the greatest and most biologically astute paleontologist of the 20th century . . . acknowledged the literal appearance of stasis and geologically abrupt origin as the outstanding general fact of the fossil record and as a pattern which would ‘pose one of the most important theoretical problems in the whole history of life.’” Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 755, quoting George Gaylord Simpson, Simpson cite.

“Anatomy may fluctuate over time, but the last remnants of a species usually look pretty much like the first representatives . . . The great majority of species do not show any appreciable evolutionary change at all. These species appear in the section (first occurrence) without obvious ancestors in the underlying beds, are stable once established and disappear higher up without leaving any descendants.” Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2002), 749, 753.

“. . . one of the most striking and potentially embarrassing features of the fossil record [is that the] majority of major groups appear suddenly in the rocks, with virtually no evidence of transition from their ancestors.” Douglas J. Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (New York: Pantheon Books, 1983), 82.

“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.

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.

This extraordinary abundance of some fossils illustrates something important about the history of life. Evolution is a theory about change through time – ‘descent with modification,’ in Darwin’s words. Yet when fossils are most abundant during substantial stretches of time, well-represented species are usually stable throughout their temporal range or alter so little and in such superficial ways (usually in size alone) that an extrapolation of observed change into longer periods of geological time could not possibly yield the extensive modifications that mark general pathways of evolution in larger groups. Most of the time, when the evidence is best, nothing much happens to most species.

Stephen Jay Gould, “Ten Thousand Acts of Kindness,” in Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History (New York: Norton, 1993), 275-8.

The Eldredge-Gould concept of punctuated equilibria has gained wide acceptance among paleontologists. It attempts to account for the following paradox: Within continuously sampled lineages, one rarely finds the gradual morphological trends predicted by Darwinian evolution; rather, change occurs with the sudden appearance of new, well-differentiated species. Eldredge and Gould equate such appearances with speciation, although the details of these events are not preserved . . . The punctuated equilibrium model has been widely accepted, not because it has a compelling theoretical basis but because it appears to resolve a dilemma. Apart from the obvious sampling problems inherent to the observations that stimulated the model, and apart from its intrinsic circularity (one could argue that speciation can occur only when phyletic change is rapid, not vice versa), the model is more ad hoc explanation than theory, and it rests on shaky ground.

Robert E. Ricklefs, “Paleontologists Confronting Macroevolution, review of Patterns of Evolution as Illustrated by the Fossil Record, ed. A. Hallam, Science 199 (January 6, 1978): 59.

“In spite of these examples, it remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families and that nearly all new categories above the level of families appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences.” George Gaylord Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1953), 360.

The only illustration Darwin published in On the Origin of Species was a diagram depicting his view of evolution: species descendant from a common ancestor; gradual change of organisms over time; episodes of diversification and extinction of species. Given the simplicity of Darwin’s theory of evolution, it was reasonable for paleontologists to believe that they should be able to demonstrate with the hard evidence provided by fossils both the thread of life and the gradual transformation of one species into another. Although paleontologists have, and continue to claim to have, discovered sequences of fossils that do indeed present a picture of gradual change over time, the truth of the matter is that we are still in the dark about the origin of most major groups of organisms. They appear in the fossil record as Athena did from the head of Zeus – full-blown and raring to go, in contradiction to Darwin’s depiction of evolution as resulting from the gradual accumulation of countless infinitesimally minute variations, which, in turn, demands that the fossil record preserve an unbroken chain of transitional forms.

Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), 3.

“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.

“The record now reveals that species typically survive for a hundred thousand generations, or even a million or more, without evolving very much.” Steven M. Stanley, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic Books, 1981), 110.

“We have long known about stasis and abrupt appearance, but have chosen to fob it off upon an imperfect fossil record.” Gould, Stephen J., “The Paradox of the First Tier: An Agenda for Paleobiology,” Paleobiology 11 (1985): 7, 2-12.

Darwin and most subsequent authors including G. G. Simpson have held that most evolutionary transitions occur within established lineages by phyletic gradualism guided by natural selection. But fossil species remain unchanged throughout most of their history and the record fails to contain a single example of a significant transition . . . An alternative model of evolution, that of punctuated equilibria, introduced by Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould in the early 1970s, more fully accounts for these same observations.

D. S. Woodroff, review of Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, by Steven M. Stanley, Science, 208 (1980): 716, 716-17.

Stasis, or nonchange, of most fossil species during their lengthy geological lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all paleontologists, but almost never studied explicitly because prevailing theory treated stasis as uninteresting nonevidence for nonevolution. …The overwhelming prevalence of stasis became an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left ignored as a manifestation of nothing (that is, nonevolution).

“Stasis has become interesting as a central prediction of our theory.” Stephen Jay Gould, “Opus 200,” Natural History (August 1991): 16, 12-19.

“Before Niles Eldredge and I proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium in 1972, the stasis, or nonchange, of most fossil species during their lengthy geological lifespans was tacitly acknowledged by all paleontologists, but almost never studied explicitly because prevailing theory treated stasis as uninteresting nonevidence for nonevolution . . . The overwhelming prevalence of stasis became an embarrassing feature of the fossil record, best left ignored as a manifestation of nothing (that is, nonevolution). Stephen Jay Gould, “Cordelia’s Dilemma,” Natural History 102.2 (February 1993): 15, 10-18.

At the core of punctuated equilibria lies an empirical observation: once evolved, species tend to remain remarkably stable, recognizable entities for millions of years. The observation is by no means new, nearly every paleontologist who reviewed Darwin’s Origin of Species pointed to his evasion of this salient feature of the fossil record. But stasis was conveniently dropped as a feature of life’s history to he reckoned with in evolutionary biology. And stasis had continued to be ignored until Gould and I showed that such stability is a real aspect of life’s history which must be confronted – and that, in fact, it posed no fundamental threat to the basic notion of evolution itself. For that was Darwin’s problem: to establish the plausibility of the very idea of evolution, Darwin felt that he had to undermine the older (and ultimately biblically based) doctrine of species fixity. Stasis, to Darwin, was an ugly inconvenience.

Niles Eldredge, Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), 188-189.

The main impetus for expanding the view that species are discrete at any one point in time, to embrace their entire history, comes from the fossil record. Paleontologists just were not seeing the expected changes in their fossils as they pursued them up through the rock record. Instead, collections of nearly identical specimens, separated in some cases by 5 million years, suggested that the overwhelming majority of animal and plant species were tremendously conservative throughout their histories. That individual kinds of fossils remain recognizably the same throughout the length of their occurrence in the fossil record had been known to paleontologists long before Darwin published his Origin. Darwin himself, troubled by the stubbornness of the fossil record in refusing to yield abundant examples of gradual change, devoted two chapters to the fossil record. To preserve his argument he was forced to assert that the fossil record was too incomplete, to full of gaps, to produce the expected patterns of change. He prophesied that future generations of paleontologists would fill in these gaps by diligent search and then his major thesis – that evolutionary change is gradual and progressive – would be vindicated. One hundred and twenty years of paleontological research later, it has become abundantly clear that the fossil record will not confirm this part of Darwin’s predictions. Nor is the problem a miserably poor record. The fossil record simply shows that this prediction is wrong. The observation that species are amazingly conservative and static entities throughout long periods of time has all the qualities of the emperor’s new clothes: everyone knew it but preferred to ignore it. Paleontologists, faced with a recalcitrant record obstinately refusing to yield Darwin’s predicted pattern, simply looked the other way. Rather than challenge well-entrenched evolutionary theory, paleontologists tacitly agreed with their zoological colleagues that the fossil record was too poor to do much beyond supporting, in a general sort of way, the basic thesis that life had evolved.

Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, The Myth of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 45-46.

“The principal problem is morphological stasis. A theory is only as good as its predictions, and conventional neo-Darwinism, which claims to be a comprehensive explanation of evolutionary process, has failed to predict the widespread long-term morphological stasis now recognized as one of the most striking aspects of the fossil record.” Peter G. Williamson, “Morphological Stasis and Developmental Constraint: Real Problems for Neo-Darwinism,” Nature 294 (November 19, 1981): 214

Simple extrapolation does not work. I found that out back in the 1960s as I tried in vain to document examples of the kind of slow, steady directional change we all thought ought to be there, ever since Darwin told us that natural selection should leave precisely such a telltale signal as we collect our fossils up cliff faces. I found instead, that once species appear in the fossil record, they tend not to change much at all . Species remain imperturbably, implacably resistant to chance as a matter of course.

Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 3.

“Stasis is now abundantly well documented as the preeminent paleontological pattern in the evolutionary history of species.” Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 77.

“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.

“Many species remain virtually unchanged for millions of years, then suddenly disappear to be replaced by a quite different, but related, form. Moreover, most major groups of animals appear abruptly in the fossil record, fully formed, and with no fossils yet discovered that form a transition from their parent grou Thus, it has seldom been possible to piece together ancestor-dependent sequences from the fossil record that show gradual, smooth transitions between species.” Cleveland Hickman, Jr., Larry S. Roberts, and F. M. Hickman, Integrated Principles of Zoology (St. Lewis, MO: Times Mirror/Moseby College Publishing, 1988), 866.

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 changeover 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 (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 95.

But we saw – as did several paleontological contemporaries of Darwin – that if you do collect a series of fossils up through a sequence of sedimentary rock, and if you don’t see much evidence of anatomical change through that series, that is indeed evidence that substantial gradual evolutionary change has not occurred within that species lineage, no matter how gappy the record may be. That’s why the evidence for stasis now appears so overwhelming.

Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin: The Great Evolutionary Debate (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1995), 96.

“Gradualism, the idea that all change must be smooth, slow, and steady, was never read from the rocks. It was primarily a prejudice of nineteenth-century liberalism facing a world in revolution. But it continues to color our supposedly objective reading of life’s history.” Stephen Jay Gould, “An Early Start,” Natural History 87, February 1978): 24.

37 Replies to “Gradualism: The Darwinist Article of Faith

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Excellent collection of quotes Mr. Arrington!

    Reminds me of this passage from the bible

    Verse:

    Genesis 1:24-25
    And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

    Lest I be accused of trying to force the Bible to say something that it isn’t (i.e. quote mining), I would like to point out that I’m not the only one who has found a striking correspondence between the findings of modern science and what Genesis has always stated:

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    “The Bible is frequently dismissed as being anti-scientific because it makes no predictions. Oh no, that is incorrect. It makes a brilliant prediction. For centuries it has been saying there was a beginning. And if scientists had taken that a bit more seriously they might have discovered evidence for a beginning a lot earlier than they did.”
    John Lennox
    Quote taken from the 1:58 minute mark of the following video,,,
    John Lennox – Science Is Impossible Without God – Quotes – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6287271/

    ,,, ‘And if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

    “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence. I believe that the universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science.”
    Anthony Flew – world’s leading intellectual atheist for most of his adult life until a few years shortly before his death
    The Case for a Creator – Lee Strobel (Nov. 25, 2012) – video
    http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/ee32d/

  2. 2
    butifnot says:

    Thought I scrolled down into one of BA77’s comments – That is a lot of telling quotes!

  3. 3
    butifnot says:

    I have always liked PE and the great arguments it has against gradualism, perfect.

  4. 4

    Barry:

    Good list of quotes on gradualism.

    —–

    Can you provide a link to the thread of Seqenenre’s comment. I can’t tell from the little bit you quoted what Seqenenre’s point is, or even if it is supportive of or critical of gradualism, so would like to see the context.

    Thanks,

  5. 5
    Ian Thompson says:

    Barry: maybe not quote mining. But certainly quote inflation. The last two indented quotes are duplicates of earlier text blocks.

  6. 6
  7. 7
    jerry says:

    Barry,

    Gradualism if it operating will not just show up in the fossil record but also in the various genomes. The supposed Darwinian mechanism should leave a forensic trail of gene development.

    The prohibitive reason for why gradualism is impossible is that new proteins have to be developed to achieve anything meaningful. As we sample more genomes of the same or similar species we should see this process working or how it led to two species separating from a common ancestor.

    I am sure there may be an odd example here or there but what has happened in the fossil record requires thousands of dramatic new gene sequences leading to new complex proteins.

    But so far radio silence in that area also. No genes/proteins in the process of developing means no gradualism. Axe and others have provided the basis for why this is impossible.

  8. 8
    Barry Arrington says:

    Eric, see Jerry’s link at 6

  9. 9

    Excellent series of statements from the leading minds of Darwinian thought.

    Can the truth be spelled clearer than this?

    The question is: if there is no gradualism is there anything left from Darwinian evolution?

    Isn’t the time to finally employ the proper word for the proper case and denounce the Darwinian evolution as a TOTAL FRAUD?

  10. 10
    Querius says:

    While there are fraudulent elements within Darwinian evolution, I wouldn’t be that harsh, IVV.

    Darwinian evolution is simply a theory that’s outlived its scientific lifespan as a result of the explosion of genetic discoveries. It’s a quaint 19th century explanation that’s better suited to an age of wooden ships with tall masts than an age of jet aircraft and the internet.

    -Q

  11. 11
    Querius says:

    Incidentally, punctuated equilibrium is profoundly and refreshingly more compatible with the “fossil record” than Darwinian evolution, and was briefly popular in academia. Also, its parallels with Marxist ideology did not go unnoticed.

    Unfortunately, a reasonable mechanism for the “punctuated” part has never been identified and demonstrated, so we’re once again left only with speculation and wishful thinking.

    -Q

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    “The Eldredge-Gould concept of punctuated equilibria has gained wide acceptance among paleontologists. It attempts to account for the following paradox: Within continuously sampled lineages, one rarely finds the gradual morphological trends predicted by Darwinian evolution; rather, change occurs with the sudden appearance of new, well-differentiated species. Eldredge and Gould equate such appearances with speciation, although the details of these events are not preserved . . . The punctuated equilibrium model has been widely accepted, not because it has a compelling theoretical basis but because it appears to resolve a dilemma. Apart from the obvious sampling problems inherent to the observations that stimulated the model, and apart from its intrinsic circularity (one could argue that speciation can occur only when phyletic change is rapid, not vice versa), the model is more ad hoc explanation than theory, and it rests on shaky ground.
    Robert E. Ricklefs, “Paleontologists Confronting Macroevolution, review of Patterns of Evolution as Illustrated by the Fossil Record, ed. A. Hallam, Science 199 (January 6, 1978): 59.

  13. 13
    udat says:

    Gradualism: The Darwinist Article of Faith

    That’s because the stakes are high:

    Evolution is very possibly not, in actual fact, always gradual. But it must be gradual when it is being used to explain the coming into existence of complicated, apparently designed objects, like eyes. For if it is not gradual in these cases, it ceases to have any explanatory power at all. Without gradualness in these cases, we are back to miracle, which is simply a synonym for the total absence of explanation. Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden, Basic Books, New York, p. 83.

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    Great quote, udat!

    I’m astonished that Dawkins is holding onto the hope of finding a gradualistic mechanism rather than starting from scratch, which I think would be far more interesting.

    Also, I’m glad that Dawkins recognizes that scientific miracles are still miracles and not explanations!

    -Q

  15. 15
    Joe says:

    My apologies- Lizzie Liddle responds to this thread by baldly declaring that the program “Eureka” uses darwinian mechanisms- unfortunately she has been exposed as not knowing what darwinian evolution entails.

    What is wrong with evos that they think that all evolution = darwinian evolution?

  16. 16

    Joe @15:

    Oh, boy. Not another claim about evolutionary algorithms . . .

    We have learned from long experience that if Eureka uses Darwinian mechanisms nothing interesting will result. If something interesting results, it came about by something other than Darwinian mechanisms.

  17. 17

    udat @13:

    Great quote from Dawkins.

    What he doesn’t realize is that invoking “gradualism” doesn’t take something that is a miracle and make it a non-miracle. Just because I proclaim that something came about slowly, step-by-step — as opposed to in a great leap, all at once — doesn’t make it scientific, or a non-miracle, or something we should accept.

    The real power of gradualism is not that it is an actual “explanation” as Dawkins thinks, but just that, from a rhetorical standpoint, it is more believable than saltation. If we claim that something occurred suddenly in a great leap, people will get suspicious. In contrast, if we say it came about very slowly over millions of years (conveniently, so slowly we can’t observe it), people will tend to say, “Yeah, OK, I guess maybe that could happen.”

    But we really haven’t provided any meaningful “explanation.” We haven’t offered any details of how such a process could go from A to Z. All we do when we invoke long periods of time, gradualism, natural selection, and so on, is restate the theory. No explanation, certainly not in a meaningful, testable, scientific sense has been offered.

    Thus, gradualism, rather than being an “explanation”, is in fact primarily a rhetorical tool for making the overall idea of evolutionary theory more palatable and more believable.

  18. 18
    Joe says:

    Eric,

    It is a safe bet to say that not one of the evos over on TSZ understands what darwinian evolution entails. And when you try to educate them you are accused of either quote-mining or not understanding what was written (because what was written refutes what they claim).

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    But it must be gradual when it is being used to explain the coming into existence of complicated, apparently designed objects, like eyes.

    Apparently all current eyes appeared in the Cambrian and there has been little change since. So all the eyes poofed into existence and then gradually remained the same for the last 450 million years. It is nice to see that gradualism working.

  20. 20
    phoodoo says:

    Eric,

    I think Lizzie is both preposterous and also precisely correct in her usual claim that another computer algorithm helps demonstrate Darwinian evolution. She seems to have an almost genetically mutated predisposition for thinking that if you write a computer program, it must be an example of Darwinian evolution.

    Saying the Eureqa program is an example of Darwinism is akin to saying a fish is the same thing as a cloud. Preposterous, well sure. But since fish and clouds are both made up of atoms and molecules, and since Darwinian evolution has become such a vague concept to include virtually anything that happens that makes an organism not exactly the same as their parent, well, the comparison of fish to clouds is actually as accurate as calling a stupid computer program Darwinian evolution. So Lizzie is oddly correct.

    If you wrote a computer program that plays chess with pieces of rotting fruit, that is also Darwinism, because Darwinism is absolutely anything you want it to be. Lizzie is so oddly correct. No wonder she loves these algorithms so much, a fish really is a cloud.

  21. 21
    Joe says:

    LoL! Lizzie just doesn’t get it. Now she sez:

    Eureqa most certainly works using Darwinian mechanism. It’s precisely how it works.

    So I wrote the programmers of Eureka andasked. The response was:

    Hi Joe,

    Eureqa leverages a number of techniques related to randomized stochastic search. It has the explicit intent to maximize agreement with data and parsimony of results.

    Rather than comparing Eureqa to evolution, a closer analogy would be to the scientific process, where scientists compete to build the most accurate and elegant theory based on observations.

    Thanks,
    Jess

    (bold added)

    Lizzie loser will never acknowledge that.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    As predicted Lizzie thinks that the response actually makes her case. Talk about pathetic.

    Unfortunately for Lizzie she is still ignorant wrt what darwinian evolution entails. And as I said she thinks all “evolution” = darwinian evolution. She’s so happy to stay ignorant wrt Intelligent Design.

    Scientific methodology is NOT darwinian evolution. But nice to see how desperate you have become, Lizzie.

  23. 23
    Joe says:

    The following video demonstrates that it does not use darwinian evolution:

    how eureqa works

  24. 24
    Joe says:

    Natural selection doesn’t select. Eureqa actively selects.

    Case closed.

  25. 25
    Joe says:

    Out of one side of their mouths they say that Dembski is wrong because Darwinian evolution is not a search (as if that helps them but that is another story).

    And out of the other side they say that Eureqa, which utilizes an active search (ie a goal-oriented targeted search) for a data fitting equation, uses Darwinian mechanisms.

    Goal-oriented targeted searches are Intelligent Design evolution in action. When something actively selects out of a range of choices and actively makes constrained changes to the selections to achieve a pre-specified result, well that is the antithesis of blind watchmaker evolution.

    OK you guys are right, why even bother…

  26. 26

    The proof is in the pudding.

    Naturalistic evolution — allegedly — is able to produce not only intricate, functional machines, but the most sophisticated coding and storage system known. Indeed, it is alleged to have produced virtually everything we see.

    Yet the evolutionary algorithms aren’t being used in a widespread manner to create wonderful new things. The retort that “evolution takes lots of time” doesn’t cut it; time is precisely the thing that computers help us to deal with, running through generations in a matter of seconds.

    No, the real issue is that evolutionary algorithms are useless for generating real novelty. They are only utilized in very narrow situations in which careful parameters and constraints have been put in place, based on intelligent input.

    We have a real-world situation crying out for new innovation, new code, new inventions. Yet there the evolutionary algorithms sit — those programs that allegedly prove the power of evolution and are themselves an example of evolution in action — bringing essentially nothing to the table.

    Someone wake me back up when an evolutionary algorithm, one operating on Darwinian principles and not under the careful tutelage of an intelligent person, writes a meaningful novel or produces a play or writes a useful Android app.

    The proof is in the pudding.

  27. 27
    Joe says:

    Yes, but if pudding could reproduce we could get cheesecake, given the right selection coefficient. And with cheesecake, well, forgetaboutitalready. 🙂

    Evolutionary algorithms are good for solving the problems they are designed to solve. Evolution by design, not via the blind watchmaker.

  28. 28
    Querius says:

    Ever hear of the duck that evolved RADAR?

    After millions of years and an incredibly rare sequence of biochemical and genetic events, a single duckling hatched with this amazing ability! Mathematicians calculated that it would take hundreds of millions of years for nature to produce another one like it. Yet amazingly enough, another duck of the opposite sex was also hatched in the same vicinity around the same time!

    Anyway, before they were able to pass on their RADAR gene, they were both run over by a pickup truck.

    Darwinist response: “Hey, I don’t believe that. How likely is it for a pickup truck to run over two ducklings?”

    -Q

  29. 29

    Querius, LOL!

    Thanks for the laugh!

  30. 30
    Joe says:

    I’m stealing it but I will always credit Q- I have the comment linked in and ready to roll.

    Well done Q.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I decided to give one of BA’s cites a context expansion, the Gould-Eldredge one on Punc Eq theory from 1977 that begins “At the higher level of evolutionary transition between basic morphological designs, gradualism.”

    Here goes:

    _________

    >>At the next level of speciation, Carson (1975)
    has proposed a model that is punctuational
    even in ecological time. He argues that sexual,
    diploid organisms possess two differing sys-
    tems of genetic variability: 1 ) An “open” sys-
    tem of freely-recombining, polymorphic loci
    responsible for gradual, adaptive change
    within populations-e.g. clinal and subspe-
    cific variability. 2) A “closed” system of co-
    adapted, internally balanced gene complexes
    that cannot vary without drastic effects on the
    ontogenetic program of a species; thus, the
    “closed” system varies between, but not
    within, species. Gradualistic models work
    only for the adaptations that arise within pop-
    ulations by a fine-tuning of organism t o en-
    vironment; for these adaptations reflect
    change in the open system. But these gradual
    changes cannot be extrapolated to a model for
    speciation, because the origin of new taxa in-
    volves rapid, drastic reorganization of the
    closed system. Speciation, the source of mac-
    roevolutionary variation, is qualitatively dif-
    ferent from local adaptation within popula-
    tions. It is also punctuational in ecological
    time
    [–> First step to body plan level changes] . . . .

    Carson argues that . . . reorganizations of
    the closed system may occur very rapidly
    when natural selection is relaxed during a
    population flush-crash-founder cycle. [..And how does this provide 500 – 1,000+ bits of novel bio info, instead of say loss of wings for beetles on a windy island, or loss of eyesight for fish in a cave]

    At the higher level of evolutionary transi-
    tion between basic morphological designs,
    gradualism has always been in trouble, though
    it remains the “official” position of most West-
    ern evolutionists. Smooth intermediates be-
    tween Bauplane are almost impossible to con-
    struct, even in thought experiments; there is
    certainly no evidence for them in the fossil
    record
    (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do
    not count). Even so convinced a gradualist
    as G. G. Simpson (1944) invoked quantum
    evolution and inadaptive phases to explain
    these transitions . . . >>
    __________

    Sounds familiar?

    It should, save to those who are ever so willfully determined to brand embarrassing citations as “quote-mining”; with all its lurking insinuations of dishonesty.

    The real challenge at this stage is to show a clear, strong pattern of body plan level novelty arising by blind watchmaker mechanisms, or else admit failing the vera causa test on the origin of FSCO/I.

    But, failing that test is momentous, as if one cannot show that a given cause reliably acts in the present, then one should not be resorting to it as an explanation on the traces we see from the remote past of origins. FSCO/I is one of those traces, and there is but one reliable observed source for such functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information, design.

    The needle in haystack analysis and the implications of blind sampling from a set of configurational possibilities that rapidly becomes beyond astronomically large (try 500 – 1,000 bits as threshold) tell us that such FSCO/I will be maximally difficult or practically impossible to find by blind search processes.

    To the point where ti is a reasonable inference that he degree of overperformance vs blind random search is a good index of the amount of active information inadvertently or deliberately incorporated into the search.

    There is indeed no free lunch.

    Let me clip and cite my overnight test the tablet HP 48 emulator preliminary result:

    10^80 atoms, each observing 1,000 fair coins flipped every 10^-45 s, for 10^25 s, giving 10^150 observations.

    Then, compared to the 1.07 *10^301 possibilities for 1,000 bits.

    Using the usual comparison of 10^150 is as a 1 g straw, we end up dealing with a cubical haystack that seems to be ~ 2 *10^33 LY across. Or, about 2 * 10^21 times the diameter of the observable cosmos. [Fairly sure these results are at least rather roughly right. of course a cross check is always going to be done later on before finalising confidence on specific values. Measure twice, cut once etc.]

    Toss in the observed cosmos into the stack, even millions of such cosmi.

    Now, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick a single straw-sized sample from the whole.

    With all but certainty, you will pick straw and nothing else, none of the millions of cosmi being anywhere near likely to be spotted.

    The relevance of this is that there are some things which are needle in haystack challenges and it is not reasonable to expect any blind search of small scope relative to the field of possibilities to spot anything but the bulk of the distribution.

    Yes, rare things do happen, but when we have narrow hot zones and a lot of haystack, blind search runs into the no free lunch effect.

    With all but utterly complete certainty under such circumstances, if you pick up other than straw, the search was not blind.

    The relevance of this to the challenge of getting to FSCO/I by blind watchmaker mechanisms should be obvious, especially as the rabbit trail on how you cannot be sure that functional clusters are not isolated is long since gone cold.

    One last point, on reliability.

    The tab came with a slender quick start user manual, and a much fatter one on health and safety of wireless devices.

    That last pivots on how the few tests that seem to point to health effects for wireless emissions, are very hard to replicate if at all.

    Vera Causa.

    KF

  32. 32
    Joe says:

    Hey Lizzie says:

    Evolutionary processes are extraordinarily powerful,as long as you have time to go through the necessary number of generations.

    So close and yet so far. Let me help Lizzie:

    Evolutionary processes are extraordinarily powerful,as long as they are directed towards a goal, as is the case with Intelligent Design evolution.

    OTOH blind watchmaker evolutionary processes are just patheic and can only simplify, break or deteriorate.

  33. 33
    Joe says:

    And Eric, Lizzie sez that you have to eat the pudding. I guess that refutes you.

    Unfortuanetly Lizzie at the pudding with the LSD because she is hallucinating about darwinian processes being extraordinarily powerful. But again only if you throw eons of time around.

  34. 34
    phoodoo says:

    Eric,

    Very good points. Better still, if a computer can’t do it, let some lab throw a bunch of chemicals into a vat, zap it with some electricity and let’s start seeing how great this Darwinian process is.

    Of course the best Lizzie can come up with to counter this is eat pudding.

    She has given up even trying to fake meaningful commentary.

  35. 35

    Evolutionary processes are extraordinarily powerful,as long as you have time to go through the necessary number of generations.

    Well, this is an interesting half truth.

    Evolutionary processes are “extraordinarily powerful” in the limited sense that they can do interesting things if you have a near infinite amount of time. But the kind of time we are talking about in the known universe is a pittance, a drop in the bucket, a rounding error, compared to the amount of time that would be required for living systems. So it is a half truth in that it is true hypothetically, but false practically.

    Furthermore, it is strange to call such processes “extraordinarily powerful.” Compared to what? Design? Not even close. Compared to law-like regularity? Definitely not. So the chance-driven processes that underlie evolutionary theory are in fact the least powerful of the known causes.

    I imagine Lizzie in a free-throw competition against Michael Jordan, to see who can sink 10,000 free throws first. After slow going for a few hours and when the crowd starts checking their watches and eyeing the exits, Lizzie protests, “But I’m an extraordinarily good free throw shooter — if you give me enough time.” “Look, the referee responds, no-one questions that eventually you’ll get there. But unfortunately we need to wrap this up soon; we just don’t have enough time.” Then the referee leans in and whispers, “Furthermore, just between you and me, while your missing all these shots you might not want to keep shouting to the crowd about how ‘extraordinarily good’ you are, lest you embarrass yourself.”

    Let’s be intellectually honest enough to admit that evolutionary processes (and by that we can only mean chance events that happen to bump up against various law-driven natural processes) are the least competent force around.

    If that is sufficient to drive your theory, great. It might be. Show us the calculations.

    But let’s not proclaim the extraordinary power of such processes when (i) it is known that they run a distant third place, and (ii) when such extraordinary power has never been demonstrated, only assumed.

  36. 36
    Joe says:

    Lizzie shooting a free-throw? There is a better chance of her making free-throws then there is for her actually understanding the fundamentals of darwinian evolution. 😛

    If by “evolutionary processes” Lizzie means natural selection (which includes random, as in happenstance, variation/ mutation) and drift, throwing eons of time/ interations/ generations just to overcome the fact that neither has been demonstrated/observed to do anything, 1) is not science and 2) is not justified.

    However if by evolutionary processes one includes the goal-orieneted targeted searches employed by genetic and evolutionary algorithms, then I would agree with the powerful part but not extraordinarily so. These design processes are far more powerful than natural selection, even given illions of generations.

  37. 37
    jerry says:

    Dr. Liddle has a soul mate. The Teaching Company, now call the Great Courses has a new course out only a few days. It is called the

    12 Essential Scientific Concepts

    http://www.thegreatcourses.com.....x?cid=1126

    The professor, Dr. Indre Viskontas, is a cognitive neuroscientist and is big on genetic algorithms.

    At the time, the best-known scientific theory of how order can emerge from chaos was evolution, specifically the mechanism of natural selection. So, Holland borrowed from the ideas of Darwin to pioneer a type of computer program called a genetic algorithm (GA), which is a type of shortcut, or heuristic, that uses the principles of natural selection to optimize searches.

    She is an avid backer of Darwinian processes and guess what. She use the Peppered Moth, Darwin’s finches and microbe changes due to antibiotics as proof of Darwinian evolution. Someone should tell her that none of these are really good examples of evolution.

    I have finished about half the lectures and some of her stuff is very interesting. She has a really great discussion of the complexity of the cell. Next I plan to watch her take on cosmology, quantum mechanics and multiverses. Her discussion of the Big Bang and the Standard Model has not been controversial but there is a lecture on what else might exist.

    And she is a big fan of the concept of emergence that might explain everything.

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