Re: Morphologically intermediate species

Stephen Jones (
Wed, 12 Mar 97 06:25:44 +0800


Welcome to the Reflector! I'm sorry but I haven't the time to answer
your private messages on Reflector topics. I will normally only
answer public ones on Reflector topics since I feel Creation v
Evolution should normally be a public debate.

I am not sure where you are coming from in this debate. Are you a
naturalistic or theistic evolutionist? Apologies if you have already
stated this and I have missed it.

On Mon, 03 Mar 1997 20:33:29 -0400, Pim van Meurs wrote:

SJ>Agreed. The problem is what is a "reptile"? As I understand it,
>there is a problem in classifying what a reptile is, since what
>reptiles have, so do mammals and birds

PM>True but some features are unique to reptiles or to mammals or to

There are "features" that are "unique to....mammals" (eg. fur,
mammary glands) "or to birds" (eg. feathers, avian lung), but not to
"reptiles" as I understand it.

SJ>Agreed. Darwinist `blind watchmaker' macroevolution needs more
>than a handful of "morphological intermediates" to prove its point.

PM>There are never enough intermediates to satisfy you? When will
>it be enough?

When Darwinists can prove their step-by-step `blind watchmaker'
macroevolutionary hypothesis. Denton suggests how:

"To show that any two species of organism are related in an
evolutionary sense, to show for example that one species A, is
ancestral to B, ie A->B or that both species have descended from a
common ancestral source, ie A<->B, it is necessary to satisfy one of
the following conditions. Either one, to find a 'perfect' sequence
of fully functional intermediate forms I1, I2, I3 leading
unambiguously from one species to another, ie A->I1->I2->I3->B...or
two, to reconstruct hypothetically in great detail the exact sequence
of events which led from A to B or from a common ancestor to A and B,
including thoroughly convincing reconstructions of intermediate forms
and a rigorous and detailed explanation of how and why each stage in
the transformation came about." (Denton M., "Evolution: A Theory in
Crisis", 1985, pp55-56)

PM>Given the problems of fossilization, the possibility of
>regionally restricted development make it remarkable that so many
>intermediates have been found.

It depends how you define "intermediates". In a strict sense of
ancestor to direct descendant, *no* "intermediates" have been found:

" the words of a recent British Museum publication:

`we assume that none of the fossil species we are considering is the
ancestor of the other.' (British Museum of Natural History, "Man's
Place in Evolution", 1980, p20, in Denton M., "Evolution: A Theory
in Crisis", 1985, p165)

But even if a less strict sense of ancestor to indirect descendent,
in the really important areas of transition between higher taxonomic
groups there are few (if any) "intermediates" at all:

"Where information regarding transitional forms is most eagerly
sought, it is least likely to be available. We have no intermediate
fossils between rhipidistian fish and early amphibians or between
primitive insectivores and bats; only a single species, Archaeopteryx
lithographica represents the transition between dinosaurs and birds."
(Carroll, R.L., "Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution", 1988, p4)

If Darwinist `blind watchmaker' macroevolution is true, one should
expect not only intermediates, but intermediates from the

"Because Darwinism is assumed to be a purposeless, undirected
process, it could not proceed from a starting point to a destination.
The expectation is that instead of lines of descent you would have a
thick bush with branches going off on each side and to failing and
extinct organs. And so one has to imagine a whole *forest* of
intermediates between the hypothetical animals and each of the later
groups that emerges. As Darwin himself put it, if Darwinism is true
the Precambrian world must have `swarmed with living creatures'..."
(Johnson P.E., "The Blind Watchmaker Thesis" , tape 2 of 3, Trinity
Founders Lectures, 1992)

Denton points out that in the case of the whale alone the number of
side-branches must have been "inconceivably great" unless there was
"an external unknown directive influence in evolution":

"There is no doubt that as it stands today the fossil record provides
a tremendous challenge to the notion of organic evolution, because to
close the very considerable gaps which at present separate the known
groups would necessarily have required great numbers of transitional
forms..Take the case of the gap between modern whales and land
mammals. All known aquatic or semi-aquatic mammals such as seals,
sea cows (sirenians) or otters are specialized representatives of
distinct orders and none can possibly be ancestral to the present-day
whales. To bridge the gap we are forced therefore to postulate a
large number of entirely extinct hypothetical species starting from a
small, relatively unspecialized land mammal like a shrew and leading
successfully through an otter-like stage, seal-like stage,
sirenian-like stage and finally to a putative organism which could
serve as the ancestor of the modern whales. Even from the
hypothetical whale ancestor stage we need to postulate many
hypothetical primitive whales to bridge the not inconsiderable gaps
which separate the modern filter feeders (the baleen whales) and the
toothed whales. Moreover, it is impossible to accept that such a
hypothetical sequence of species which led directly from the
unspecialized terrestrial ancestral form gave rise to no collateral
branches. Such an assumption would be purely ad hoc, and would also
be tantamount to postulating an external unknown directive influence
in evolution which would be quite foreign to the spirit of Darwinian
theory and defeat its major purpose of attempting to provide a
natural explanation for evolution. Rather, we must suppose the
existence of innumerable collateral branches leading to many unknown
types. This was clearly Darwin's view and it implies that the total
number of species which must have existed between the discontinuities
must have been much greater than the number of species on the
shortest direct evolutionary pathway. In the diagram opposite, which
shows a hypothetical lineage leading from a land mammal to a whale,
while there are ten hypothetical species on the direct path, there
are an additional fifty-three hypothetical species on collateral
branches. Considering how trivial the differences in morphology
usually are between well-defined species today, such as rat-mouse,
fox-dog, and taking into account all the modifications necessary to
convert a land mammal into a whale - forelimb modifications, the
evolution of tail flukes, the streamlining, reduction of hindlimbs,
modifications of skull to bring nostrils to the top of head,
modification of trachea, modifications of behaviour patterns,
specialized nipples so that the young could feed underwater (a
complete list would be enormous) - one is inclined to think in terms
of possibly hundreds, even thousands, of transitional species on the
most direct path between a hypothetical land ancestor and the common
ancestor of modern whales. Further, when we repeat the above process
to envisage the bridging of all the gaps between different types of
organisms and to connect all the unique and isolated groups such as
whales, icthyosaurs, pleisiosaurs, turtles, seals and sea cows we are
forced to admit with Darwin that in terms of gradual evolution,
considering all the collateral branches that must have existed in the
crossing of such gaps, the number of transitional species must have
been inconceivably great." (Denton M., "Evolution: A Theory in
Crisis", Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp172-174)

I accept the actual evidence of the fossil record that `evolution'
has been too direct for any known naturalistic evolutionary
mechanism. Therefore, I believe in "the fast-transition theory",
namely mediate creation through the progressive introduction of
genetic information by an Intelligent Designer.

SJ>It has to also explain the systematic *absense* of "morphological
>intermediates" where it most needs them and the pervasive *stasis*
>that characterises the fossil record.

PM>It needs the intermediates where there are none found yet. To
>focus on the absence of evidence rather than on the presence of
>evidence is not very useful.

See above. I *do* "focus...on the presence of evidence". The actual
"evidence" does not support Darwinist, `blind watchmaker'

"We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports [the
story of gradual adaptive change], all the while really knowing that
it does not."] ( Eldredge N., "Time Frames", 1986, p144, in Johnson
P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993, p59)

The actual evidence supports what Gould calls "the fast-transition

"the fossil record, read literally, seems to indicate...the
fast-transition theory" (Gould S.J., "Wonderful Life", 1991, p273).

It is *Darwinist* who need to claim that there must be an "absence of

"I can answer these questions and objections only on the supposition
that the geological record is far more imperfect than most geologists
believe." (Darwin C., "The Origin of Species", 6th Edition, 1967
reprint, p441)

PM>Stasis in the record is not a problem for darwinism either. Even
>Darwin speculated about the possibilities of stasis followed by
>rapid change.

Agreed, but nowhere near the extent of the degree of stasis that
modern palaeontology has revealed:

"Having carefully scrutinized data from the fossil record during the
past decade, however, I have demonstrated a biological stability for
species of animals and plants that I think would have shocked Darwin.
Certainly it has jolted many modern evolutionists." (Steven Stanley,
"The New Evolution", Johns Hopkins Magazine, June 1982, pp6-11), in
Sunderland L.D., "Darwin's Enigma", 1988, p103)

SJ>Since `blind watchmaker' macroevolution required countless
>intermediate forms, a relatively small number of intermediates is
more consistent with a progresssive mediate creation than
>naturalistic evolution:

PM>Except what you consider a small number is not necessarily so.

Disagree. See above quotes by Johnson and Denton. If evolution was
a gradual, step-by-step undirected `blind watchmaker' process, then
there must have been hundreds of thousands of intermediate species in
the whale transition alone, and each of those transitional species
would have branched off into other species. This would mean
countless millions of actual individual animals in total, revealing
different stages in the transition. Even with an extremely low rate
of fossilisation and recovery, one would expect to find much more
evidence of these transitional stages than what has been found.

The old `imperfection of the fossil record' arguments might have been
barely plausible in Darwin's day but they are not plausible today.
Even where the geological strata is continuous for millions of years,
the fossil record does not support the Darwinist `blind watchmaker'

"According to Steven Stanley, the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming contains a
continuous local record of fossil deposits for about five million
years, during an early period in the age of mammals. Because this
record is so complete, paleontologists assumed that certain
populations of the basin could be linked together to illustrate
continuous evolution. On the contrary, species that were once
thought to have turned into others turn out to overlap in time with
their alleged descendants, and `the fossil record does not
convincingly document a single transition from one species to
another.' " (Stanley, S.M., "Macroevolution", 1979, p39, in Johnson
P.E., "Darwin on Trial", 1993, p51)

PM>Why not focus on what has been found and what is supporting
>evolution rather than the evidence which has yet to be found ?

See above. The word "evolution" without qualification or defintion
is too vague to even be wrong! The actual "evidence" is more
consistent with a progresssive mediate creation than
fully naturalistic `blind watchmaker' macroevolution.

SJ>Not in an absolute sense. But the argument is still perfectly
>valid in a *relative* sense. The modern creationist argument should
>not be there are *no* transitional forms but there are *not enough*
>transitional forms. It is only YEC that needs to argue the former

PM>Indeed, you find one transitional and there are two gaps to fill.
>Extrapolating this idea reveals that the more transitionals are
>found, the more are lacking.

This wouldn't be so if they were true ancestor-direct descendant
"transiitonals". It only highlights that there are enormous "gaps"
between most claimed "transitional" forms.

PM>Of course this requires ignoring the evidence found in support.

No. It actually *considers* "the evidence" claimed to "support"
Darwinist `blind watchmaker' macroevolution and finds it inadequate.

If one has no apriori bias that naturalistic evolution just has to be
true, then a mediate creation by the progressive introduction of new
genetic information is more consistent with the evidence.

God bless.


| Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ |
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