Excerpted from The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins 2009
“It would be so nice if those who oppose evolution would take a tiny bit of trouble to learn the merest rudiments of what it is that they are opposing.
Creationists are deeply enamored of the fossil record because they have been taught that it is full of “gaps”. Actually, we are lucky to have any fossils at all. The massive numbers we now do have document evolutionary history. Large numbers by any standards constitute beautiful “intermediates.” The fossil evidence for evolution in many major animal groups is wonderfully strong.
We don’t need fossils. The case for evolution is watertight without them, so it is paradoxical to use gaps in the fossil record as though they were evidence against evolution. There is more than enough evidence for the fact of evolution in the comparative study of modern species and their geographical distribution.
All the fossils that we have, occur, without a single authenticated exception, in the right temporal sequence. Not a single solitary fossil has ever been found before it could have evolved.
The biggest gap, and the one the creationists like best of all, is the one that preceded the so-called Cambrian Explosion. Evolutionists believe that this really does represent a very large gap in the fossil record.
However, not a single fossil of flatworms, of which there are more than 4,000 species, has ever been found. Creationists believe that flatworms were created in the same week as all other creatures. If the gap before the Cambrian Explosion is used as evidence that most animals suddenly sprang into existence in the Cambrian, exactly the same “logic” should be used to prove that the flatworms sprang into existence yesterday. This argument completely and finally destroys the creationist case that the Precambrian gap in the fossil record can be taken as evidence against evolution. Probably, most animals before the Cambrian were soft-bodied like modern flatworms, then something happened half a billion years ago to allow animals to fossilize freely — the arising of hard, mineralized skeletons, for example.
History-deniers often use Piltdown man as an excuse to ignore the very numerous fossils that are not hoaxes. We now have a rich supply of intermediate fossils linking modern humans to the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees. It is chimpanzees, not humans, who today have a right to complain of missing links!
No modern species is descended from any other modern species (if we leave out very recent splits). Humans are not descended from monkeys. We share a common ancestor with monkeys. Even though humans evolved from an ancestor that we could sensibly call a monkey, no animal gives birth to an instant new species, or at least not one as different from itself as a man is from a monkey, or even from a chimpanzee.
Evolution not only is a gradual process as a matter of fact; it has to be gradual if it is to do any explanatory work. Huge leaps in a single generation — which is what a monkey giving birth to a human would be — are almost as unlikely as divine creation, and are ruled out for the same reason: too statistically improbable.”
Now we have been told the merest rudiments, what are our responses?