Re: Clarification of my Progressive Creationist position

Stephen Jones (
Wed, 28 Jun 95 21:24:48 EDT


ABSTRACT: This post is over 100 lines long. It represents a shift in
my position to a more consistent Progressive Creationist position. I
discuss important evidence supporting the reptilian jawbones-mammalian

earbones transition from Gould's "Eight Little Piggies". I now accept
transition as fact, although I do not accept it happened by a 100%
natural process. If my personal intellectual journey is uninteresting
to you then
send this to the bit bucket without reading on! <g>

As you may be aware, I have been giving a lot of thought to my
position on this Reflector. You may not be aware that I believe my
presence here is due to God's mysterious workings. I won't bore you
with the details but there have been too many co-incidences.

I have challenged theistic evolutionists' posting of alleged
transitional fossils (eg. fish - amphibia and land mammal - whale).
Yet as Glenn has rightly pointed out, Progressive Creation would
expect that there should be some intermediate structures and forms.
I still do not uncritically accept these, but I do not rule them out
on principle.

I had a vivid dream the other night and God seemed to be saying
to me the one word "features". On waking, I lay awake wondering if
this is the key. Is creationists' focusing on "kinds" missing the
point? Is God's work more subtle than that? Does God build up his
ideal archetypal plan for each creature, feature by feature? For
example, mammalian hair, opposable thumb, bipedality, etc?

I still think evolution is weak when proposing a purely naturalistic
*mechanism* for the development of new features. For example, how
did the feather *really* develop? How did the eye *really* develop?
The whale may have developed from a mesonychid, but what 100%
naturalistic mechanism made it do so, especially considering the
specialised features of whales and the relatively short time-frame.

I now think it is a wrong approach to deny transitional forms and
features. This however does not mean that every claimed transitional
form should be uncritically accepted. Terry has posted good evidence
that all primates (including man) have the same switched-off gene
that prevents them from synthesing vitamin C. This is good evidence
of common ancestry and I provisionally accept it, pending more
information. Much of the negative attitude we get towards transitional

forms is IMHO from reading YEC material (eg. Gish, Morris, etc). From
a YEC viewpoint, even one proven major transitional fossil would be
fatal to their view. But it is not fatal to a PC, indeed transitional
fossils should be expected (albeit rare). It is the claimed 100%
naturalistic mechanism that PC should focus on and challenge. BTW
TE seems unable to do this.

This mini-paradigm shift was completed today by what I regard as
another one of God's "co-incidences" in my life. As you know, I have
just had an ear operation to remove my stapes (stirrup) ear bone and
replace it with a plastic piston. I did a bit of study in my
daughter's university Biology textbooks and I posted an extract
describing the exquisite mechanism of the mammalian ear. I said that
I can understand that it could have happened because the right numbers
of bones are in the right place. I just could not understand how it
could have happened, although my mind was working on it and I was
half-convinced. Well, God has stepped in with a little
I am still off on sick leave after my operation and today I went to
shopping centre. There was a book-sale going on. I noticed a hard
of Gould's "Eight Little Piggies" on sale for only $9.95. Amazed I
snapped it up. At home I idly opened it and noticed in the index, "An

Earful of Jaw, p95". With much foreboding (!), I read the chapter. I

was utterly convinced. Gould's masterly account completely explains
(with diagrams) how it happened and indeed that it actually happens

"Thus, every mammal records in its own embryonic growth the
development pathway that led from jawbones to earbones in its
evolutionary history. In placental mammals, the process is complete
at birth, but marsupials play history postnatally, for a tiny kangaroo
or opossum enters its mother's pouch with future ear bones still
attached to, and articulating, the jaws. The bones detach, move into
the ear, and the new jaw joint forms - all during early life within
the maternal pouch." (Gould S.J., "Eight Little Piggies", 1993,
Jonathan Cape, London, p105)

So Glenn is partly right. The "apologetical books" who keep repeating
"how could an animal chew and hear while this was happening?", are
ignoring the evidence. Gould explains very well how it happened. Is
this evolution? Not necessarily. Evolution is not only a claim that
something changed, but it is also a claim that it happened by a purely
naturalistic, mutation + natural selection process. It must show that
these changes from jaw bones to ear bones had a selective,
reproductive advantage all the way through the transition. Gould
doesn't and indeed (I believe) cannot fully explain this transition
in terms of current Darwinian theory. He admits:

"Embryology and palaontology provide adequate documentation of the
`how,' but we would also like more insight into the `why.' In
particular, why should such a transition occur - especially since the
single-boned stapedial ear seems to function quite adequately (and at
least in some birds, every bit as well as the three-boned mammalian
ear)?" (Gould S.J., "Eight Little Piggies", 1993, Jonathan Cape,
London, p106).

As a progressive creationist, I believe the ultimate explanation to
Gould's "why" is that God designed the mammalian ear, and brought
it into actuality by a process that involved much natural process, but
the decisive factor was God's direct and supernatural intervention at
strategic points. This of course is as unprovable to the sceptic as
the resurrection of Christ. But I believe that it is a sub-theory
fits all the known facts within a wider Progressive Creation model
which endeavours to integrate the scientific facts within a fully
model of reality.

My future posts will endeavour to build this Progressive Creation
model of reality. I will accept the *proven* facts that evolutionists
unearth, including transitional fossils, but I will challenge their
100% naturalistic explanations. I will agree more with my Theistic
Evolutionist brothers (while still testing their claims), but I will
challenge whether their views fully reflect Biblical theism.
for those with more traditional creationist views I might have to side
sometimes with TE's. :-(

I apologise for the length of this post, but I think it has been
important (at least to me)! <g> God bless and thank you all
(especially Terry and Glenn).