No paleontologists reported finding any transitional forms today Ã¢â‚¬â€œ yet another stunning confirmation of the theory of punctuated equilibrium.
Seriously, I hope some of our Darwinists friends who post comments on this site can help me understand how evolutionary theorists deal with their cognitive dissonance when they consider the issue of gradualism and the general absence of transitional forms from the fossil record.
Now on the one hand, you have Charles Darwin, who understood that if his theory were true there must have been a whole universe of transitional species. He understood that the fossil record did not support this view, but hoped that in the future this would be remedied by determined paleontologists finding ever more proof of 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.”
Origin of Species, chapter 6
But he knew that if his appeal to the imperfection of the fossil record turned out to be unavailing, his entire theory would crumble:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He who rejects this view of the imperfection of the geological record, will rightly reject the whole theory. For he may ask in vain where are the numberless transitional links which must formerly have connected the closely allied or representative species, found in the successive stages of the same great formation?Ã¢â‚¬Â Origin of Species, chapter 11.
Today, it is clear that just that has happened. DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s predictions about gradualism have been refuted.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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.Ã¢â‚¬Â Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, The Myth of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 45-46.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“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 lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history.Ã¢â‚¬Â Stephen Jay Gould, Ã¢â‚¬Å“An Early Start,Ã¢â‚¬Â Natural History 87, February 1978): 24.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wish in no way to impugn the potential validity of gradualism . . . I wish only to point out that it was never Ã¢â‚¬ËœseenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ in the rocks.Ã¢â‚¬Â Stephen Jay Gould, Ã¢â‚¬Å“EvolutionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Erratic Pace,Ã¢â‚¬Â Natural History 86 (May 1977), 14, 12-16.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The fossil record with its abrupt transitions offers no support for gradual change . . .Ã¢â‚¬Â Stephen Jay Gould, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Return of Hopeful Monsters,Ã¢â‚¬Â Natural History 86 (June/July 1977): 22, 22-30.
Nor can the absence of proof for Darwinian gradualism any longer be attributed to an incomplete fossil record:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The record jumps, and all the evidence shows that the record is real: the gaps we see reflect real events in lifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history Ã¢â‚¬â€œ not the artifact of a poor fossil record.Ã¢â‚¬Â Niles Eldredge and Ian Tattersall, The Myth of Human Evolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982), 59-60.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Niles Eldredge and I . . . argued that two outstanding facts of the fossil record Ã¢â‚¬â€œ geologically Ã¢â‚¬ËœsuddenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ origin of new species and failure to change thereafter (stasis) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ reflect the predictions of evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record.Ã¢â‚¬Â Stephen Jay Gould, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Evolution as Fact and Theory,Ã¢â‚¬Â in Science and Creationism, ed. Ashley Montagu, 123 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984).
“We must learn to accept the fossil record at face value and construct our theories around it, not the other way round. Too often we have endeavored to force it into a particular mold or to ignore awkward facts contained in it . . . We still have a long way to go before we look at the fossil record for what it is and not for what we would like it to be. Historically, from Lyell and Darwin onwards, people have looked at the fossil record with a particular pattern in mind. They have failed to find the pattern they sought and have appealed to the incompleteness of the fossil record to explain way this anomaly. We are still doing this . . .”
Christopher R.C. Paul, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Adequacy of the Fossil Record,Ã¢â‚¬Â in K.A. Joysey and A. E. Friday, eds., Problems of Phylogenetic Reconstruction, 115-16 (London, Academic Press, 1982).
Yet today, Darwinists continue to argue that gradualism is absolutely necessary to the success of DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s theory:
“Gradualness is of the essence. In the context of the fight against creationism, gradualism is more or less synonymous with evolution itself. If you throw out gradualness you throw out the very thing that makes evolution more plausible than creation. Creation is a special case of saltation Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the saltus is the large jump from nothing to fully formed modern life. When you think of what Darwin was fighting against, is it any wonder that he continually returned to the theme of slow, gradual, step-by-step change?”
Richard Dawkins, Ã¢â‚¬Å“What Was All the Fuss About?Ã¢â‚¬Â review of Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria by Niles Eldredge, Nature 316 (August 1985): 683-684 (emphasis added).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gradualism is a concept I believe in, not just because of DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s authority, but because my understanding of genetics seems to demand it.Ã¢â‚¬Â Colin Patteson to Luther Sunderland, April 10, 1979, quoted in quoted in Luther .D. Sunderland, DarwinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems 4th ed. (El Cajon, CA: Master Book Publishers, 1988), 89.
Some Darwinists have gone so far as to say that if the fossil record does not support gradualism, then Ã¢â‚¬Å“so much the worse for the fossil record.Ã¢â‚¬Â We will chuck it out and continue to believe in gradualism:
“The argument [between gradualists and punctuationists] is about the actual historical pattern of evolution; but outsiders, seeing a controversy unfolding, have imagined that it is about the truth of evolution Ã¢â‚¬â€œ whether evolution occurred at all. This is a terrible mistake; and it springs, I believe, from the false idea that the fossil record provides an important part of the evidence that evolution took place. In fact, evolution is proven by a totally separate set of arguments Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and the present debate within paleontology does not impinge at all on the evidence that supports evolution . . . In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favour of the theory of evolution as opposed to special creation.”
Mark Ridley, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Who Doubts Evolution?Ã¢â‚¬Â New Scientist 90 (June 25, 1981): 830-1, 830-32.
The problem with this approach is that, as should be obvious, the fossil record is the ONLY evidence we have for what actually happened in the past, as opposed to what we think might have happened:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Although the comparative study of living animals and plants may give very convincing circumstantial evidence, fossils provide the only historical, documentary evidence that life has evolved from simpler to more and more complex forms.Ã¢â‚¬Â Carl O. Dunbar, Historical Geology (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1960), 47.
“Naturalists must remember that the process of evolution is revealed only through fossil forms. A knowledge of paleontology is, therefore, a prerequisite; only paleontology can provide them with the evidence of evolution and reveal its course or mechanisms. Neither the examination of present beings, nor imagination, nor theories can serve as a substitute for paleontological documents. If they ignore them, biologists, the philosophers of nature, indulge in numerous commentaries and can only come up with hypotheses. This is why we constantly have recourse to paleontology, the only true science of evolution . . . The true course of evolution is and can only be revealed by paleontology.”
Pierre P. Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation, (New York: Academic Press, 1977), 3-4, 204.
In summary, Darwin said that his theory depends upon gradualism. Gradualism has never been seen in the fossil record. Therefore, gradualism, and any theory that depends upon on it, is falsified. Nevertheless, Darwinists continue to believe in gradualism, and some have even proposed abandoning the fossil record if it does not support it. But the fossil record is the only evidence we have for what actually happened.
Can someone help me out here?