Gunter Bechly: Darwin's gap problem (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, January 01, 2020, 18:23 (381 days ago) @ dhw

From Darwin in 1859: "The number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, [must] 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 gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. "

"Darwin hoped that over time new paleontological discoveries might resolve this problem for his theory. However, even 160 years later this has not happened, despite the greatly expanded knowledge we have today and a “completeness of the fossil record that is rather high for many animal groups”


" the fossil record, “stasis is data” (Gould 1991). This led two American paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould to propose their famous model of “punctuated equilibria” (Eldredge & Gould 1972). This model is often misunderstood as advocating saltational evolution, which it explicitly does not. It is just a special version of gradualism that confines the incremental evolution to an isolated small subpopulation and compresses it into a shorter period of time.


"Eldredge and Gould suggested punctuated equilibria as a general phenomenon, but it was never accepted as such within mainstream evolutionary biology. Many Darwinists rejected it and others considered it as nothing but a “minor wrinkle on the surface of neo-Darwinian theory”


"After the Darwin Year in 2009, celebrating his 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species, Hunt (2010) reviewed all the fossil evidence for species transitions assembled by paleontologists in 150 years of research since the time of Charles Darwin....Hunt’s conclusion, regarding all the available fossil evidence, was startling indeed:

“'The meandering and fluctuating trajectories captured in the fossil record are not inconsistent with the centrality of natural selection as an evolutionary mechanism, but they probably would not have been predicted without the benefit of an empirical fossil record."

"That is a formidable example of obfuscating language. It can be translated as: the empirical data from the fossil record totally contradict the gradualist predictions of Darwin’s theory. There just is hardly any fossil evidence for directional and gradual species-to-species transitions, and especially not for anagenesis. The demise of the three textbook examples described above leaves Darwinian paleontologists empty-handed.

"This may come as a surprise even for many critics of Darwinian evolution, because neither intelligent design proponents nor old earth or young earth creationists generally deny that neo-Darwinism may sufficiently explain low-level speciation, such as the diversification of a founding finch species into the various species of Darwin finches on the Galápagos Islands. That even such a minor phenomenon of gradualist evolution is not supported by fossil evidence gives reason for pause. Maybe we should not grant too much, too early to Darwin’s theory. Neo-Darwinian mechanisms certainly can well explain intraspecific changes of gene frequencies, like the rise of antibiotic resistance in germs, but it is unclear if the explanatory value of this process can be stretched much further. This does not imply that “God did it” as some critics of intelligent design theory often mockingly claim. But it does imply that the fossil support for neo-Darwinism is still very much exaggerated in our education system. And it suggests the need for a paradigm change in evolutionary biology, as is definitely becoming more and more evident. It is not intelligent design theorists who are the science deniers, but rather all those stubborn Darwinists. The latter still close their eyes to the ever-increasing number of anomalies that their pet theory fails to explain. (my bold)

"But there is a silver lining: At the conference “New Trends in Evolutionary Biology,” hosted by the prestigious Royal Society in London in November 2016, the renowned evolutionary theorist Professor Gerd Müller explicitly mentioned “non-gradual forms of transition” among his list of five explanatory deficits of the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis (aka neo-Darwinism). The other points include phenotypic novelty and phenotypic complexity. You heard that right: Everything that is really interesting in the history of life and that should be explained by Darwin’s theory, this very theory actually fails to explain, by the admission of modern evolutionary biologists themselves. No wonder that high-ranking intellectuals like Yale professor David Gelernter are giving up on a beautiful but refuted theory (Gelernter 2019). "

Comment: Upon close examination only gaps are present. Gradualism in the fossil record does not exist. The Cambrian explosion is the most famous gap, which Darwin, himself, despaired of. Gould desperately tried to solve the problem with an invention that is not correct, and as Bechly carefully notes in this very long article, which is worth fully reading, the inventive attempts are desperate and numerous. Note my bold. ID is not unreasonable about minor speciation events as Darwinists view them. Which means ID is worth reading and following, although it should be carefully noted they never name God as designer.

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