Re: non-evolutionary theories from transitional fossils

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Mon Dec 05 2005 - 17:24:13 EST

Here is our good friend Charlie 0n fossils and evolution, partly from his B
notebook and also from his 1844 draft on evolution. Here we see no
"theological" arguing but trying to explain the fossil record historically.
Part of my chapter in Dembski and Ruse Debating Darwin (CUP 2004)

The Young Darwin on a non-evolutionary succession of life.

Phillips was a lifelong opponent of evolution, but Darwin made a fascinating
use of Phillips's ideas, while toying with evolution in his B notebook of
1837-8.[1] This was nine months before he read Malthus and thus predates
Natural Selection. Darwin agreed with Phillips' historical order of fossils,
but not his successive creations. In B notebook we see Darwin the GEOLOGIST
arguing historically and abductively for evolution. From p167 he was using
Phillips for historical information on fossils; 'fish approaching to
reptiles at Silurian age' (B p170) and asking 'How long back have insects
been known?' (B 171) Having asked the when questions he then asked the why.
Crucial is his earlier statement 'Absolute knowledge that species die &
others replace them' but 'two hypotheses [individual creation and common
descent] fresh creation mere assumption, it explains nothing further, points
gained if any facts are connected' (B 104) Here Darwin appears to dismiss
the view of Phillips cited earlier. Later he asked, 'Has the creator since
the Cambrian formations gone on creating animals with same general
structure. - miserable limited view' (B 216) and argued 'My theory will make
me deny the creation of any new quadruped since days of Didelphus[2] in
Stone[s]field' (B 219) This is in contrast to the Origin of Species where
Darwin argues by analogy from artificial selection and then from the fossil
record and biogeography. In B notebook he was arguing for the inference for
the best explanation to explain the succession of life, but in 1859 argued
for the mechanism first and then gave a minor abductive argument from
biogeography and the fossil record. However the original basis of his 'one,
long argument' was abduction from the fossil record. In fact, Darwin was
more successful in convincing others that evolution was the best historical
interpretation of the fossil record than for natural selection.[3] This is
contrary to Johnson's alleged materialist model of evolution, where 'a
materialistic evolutionary process that is at least roughly like
neo-Darwinism follows as a matter of deductive logic, regardless of the
evidence'.[4] Darwin had argued abductively and inductively from the
historical evidence and then by analogy. He had taken the long chronology of
"creationist" geologists and then, and only then, argued for evolution and
the virtual absence of creative acts to explain the progression of
lifeforms. This was a bold step as there were few detailed sequences like
the elephant, the horse, Triceratops and allied species and others.

            Miller in Finding Darwin's God[5] mischievously considers design
in relation to elephants with 22 species in the last 6 million years and
many more going back to the Eocene. If all were "formed" at about the same
time in c8000 BC, then the only reasonable explanation is some kind of
intelligent intervention, which designed each to be different, rather like
cars made by Chrysler or GM over several decades.

If geological timescale be correct, then these different fossil elephants
appeared consecutively and despite "gaps" form a graded sequence. They
indicate only "annual model upgrade". Assuming that this is a fairly
complete sequence, the Intelligent Designer seemed to have adopted the same
sequence of modifications as would be expected by evolution. This is exactly
the point Darwin made in his 1844 draft;

            I must premise that, according to the view ordinarily received,
the myriads of organisms, which have during past and present times peopled
this world, have been created by so many distinct acts of creation. . That
all the organisms of this world have been produced on a scheme is certain
from their general affinities; and if this scheme can be shown to be the
same with that which would result from allied organic beings descending from
common stocks, it becomes highly improbable that they have been separately
created by individual acts of the will of a Creator. For as well might it be
said that, although the planets move in courses conformably to the law of
gravity, yet we ought to attribute the course of each planet to the
individual act of the will of the Creator.[6]


[1] Darwin, C.D., B notebook, (P.H.Barrett, P.J.Gautry, S. Herbert, D.Kohn &
S.Smith, Charles Darwin's Notebooks, 1836 - 1844, !987, Cambridge:Cambridge
Univ Press.

[2] A Jurassic marsupial first described by Buckland in 1824.

[3] P. J. Bowler The Non-Darwinian Revolution, 1988, Baltimore: John Hopkins
Press, passim

[4] P.Johnson, The Wedge, Touchstone, July/August 1999, p19-20.

[5] K. Miller, Finding Darwin's God, 1999, New York: Harper Collins95-9

[6] C Darwin The Essay of 1844, Works of Charles Darwin, vol. 10, p133/4

----- Original Message -----

From: "Dr. David Campbell" <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 8:54 PM
Subject: non-evolutionary theories from transitional fossils

>> Also please provide any non-evolutionary theory
>> that explains the fossil evidence that common descent effectively
>> predicted.
> Here's a non-evolutionary, non-supernatural theory that could explain
> any set of organisms: Different kinds of organisms are produced by
> spontaneous generation from nonliving matter such as rocks and
> sediment. It's generally rejected because there's good evidence
> against spontaneous generation and because the observed patterns of
> organisms specifically fit with an evolutionary model, whereas this
> spontaneous generation model does not predict those evolutionary
> patterns. This spontaneous generation model closely resembles most
> young earth or ID models except that the latter invoke a supernatural
> rather than natural cause. There is good evidence that God can create
> things spontaneously out of quite different precursors (including
> nothing), but there is also good evidence that such events are quite
> rare. The young earth and ID models also fail to explain the
> evolutionary patterns (not counting the false claim that they are
> inventions of atheistic evolutionists.)
> --
> Dr. David Campbell
> 425 Scientific Collections Building
> Department of Biological Sciences
> Biodiversity and Systematics
> University of Alabama, Box 870345
> Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0345 USA
Received on Mon Dec 5 17:34:38 2005

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