Those Missing Links
For many years evolutionists have been squabbling among themselves over a variety of issues. Not the least of these is how and at what rate the evolutionary process is supposed to have occurred.
It is generally argued that biological change (resulting in new kinds of organisms) is the consequence of random genetic mutations, working in concert with natural selection.
Mutations are accidental alterations of the genetic code in a cell. Natural selection is supposed to be nature’s sorting mechanism. Those creatures with qualities best adapted for survival do survive, while the weaker are eliminated.
Gradually, it is alleged, sufficient change is generated to effect a new type of biological organism. Fish change into amphibians, amphibians into reptiles; reptiles evolve into birds, and birds eventually produce mammals.
Of course, if this scenario did occur, there is a perfectly good way to check it out. Look at the record that has been left by the fossil deposits in the various strata of the earth. Water deposits in the ancient past have left millions of fossils (chemically formed duplications of living creatures) in a veritable geologic library.
But what has the fossil evidence revealed? Certainly not proof for the evolutionary concept. To the contrary, the fossil testimony suggests that the major forms of biological life stand abruptly apart. The thousands of intermediate links bridging these huge gaps are conspicuously absent.
This has baffled evolutionary apologists. Charles Darwin confessed that this absence of transitional fossils is “the most serious objection which can be urged against the theory” (1859, 313). Stephen J. Gould, a militant humanist, acknowledged:
All paleontologists know that the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt (1977, 24).
When the late Louis B. Leakey, an anthropologist of world renown, lectured at the University of the Pacific (in Stockton, California) in February of 1967, he was asked regarding “the missing link.” He responded: “There is no one link missing—there are hundreds of links missing.”
The question is: where did they go?
The answer usually given is this: evolution simply operates too slowly for the links to be apparent. Professor Robert Jastrow claims: “It is in the nature of biological evolution that it always proceeds slowly” (1981, 86).
Of course, this makes no logical sense at all. If evolution has occurred at a very slow rate, the fossil record ought to reveal virtually every subtle change as one type of organism evolves into another—much like examining the individual frames of a movie film. The links are just not there!
And so a number of years ago, the “systemic mutation,” or “hopeful monster,” theory was born. In 1940, Professor Richard B. Goldschmidt of the University of California postulated the possibility of quick, gigantic mutations, which, he claimed, could produce “hopeful monsters.” Goldschmidt speculated, for example, that “the first bird hatched from a reptilian egg” (1940, 395). His theory did not gain wide acceptance; in fact, it was ridiculed by most prominent evolutionists. Some, though, continued to promote the idea.
In 1958, a children’s book titled The Wonderful Egg was published. It was highly recommended by several prestigious scientific and educational associations (e.g., the American Association for the Advancement of Science). This volume told the story of a dinosaur laying an egg out of which “came the first baby bird in the whole world” (Morris and Parker 1982, 112-114).
Most evolutionists were still unconvinced. Ernst Mayr, who has been dubbed “Darwin’s new bulldog”—a designation which he relishes (Rennie 1994, 24)—wrote that the occurrence of genetic monstrosities by mutation are really “hopeless monsters.” He added:
To believe that such a drastic mutation would produce a viable new type, capable of occupying a new adaptive zone, is equivalent to believing in miracles (1970, 253; emphasis added).
Miracles indeed. Strange language for an evolutionary “bulldog.”
That leaves Darwin’s disciples with no reasonable concept to explain those embarrassing gaps in the fossil record. Professor George G. Simpson of Harvard handily solved the mystery with a bit of semantical gymnastics.
[T]he argument from absence of transitional types boils down to the striking fact that such types are always lacking unless they have been found (1949, 233).
Isn’t that brilliant?
Where are the missing links? Enter Stephen J. Gould, the prominent Marxist professor at Harvard. In 1977, Gould attempted to resurrect Goldschmidt’s defunct theory, renaming it “punctuated equilibrium.” His controversial article, “The Return of Hopeful Monsters,” predicted that within the decade of the 80s, Goldschmidt’s theory would be vindicated. Here we go again!
But Gould’s views irritated the crusty, ninety-year-old Mayr, his Harvard colleague. In an interview, Mayr described Gould’s hopeful-monster concept as “total rot,” “a lead balloon,” and “a red herring” (Rennie, 25).
The truth is the links never existed because God created earth’s creatures “after their kind.”
- Darwin, Charles. 1859. The Origin of Species. London, England: A. L. Burt Co.
- Goldschmidt, Richard B. 1940. The Material Basis of Evolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
- Gould, Stephen J. 1977. The Return of Hopeful Monsters. Natural History, June-July.
- Jastrow, Robert. 1981. Science Digest, December.
- Mayr, Ernst. 1970. Populations, Species and Evolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Morris, Henry and Gary Parker. 1982. What Is Creation Science? San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers.
- Rennie, John. 1994. Darwin’s Current Bulldog. Scientific American, August.
- Simpson, George G. 1949. The Meaning of Evolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.