First, I open the floor to Carl Wieland to explain why the fossil record is not a continuum of evolving organisms and in fact that it is hard to identify transitional fossils that are absolute certainties.
After that there will be a post about The power of asking the right questions.
Certainly Creation.com is my favorite source, although I have a great number of them. There will be many more very compelling arguments coming to help people understand why Darwinism can be dismissed as a broken hypothesis.
The floats keep changing!
Published: 29 May 2012(GMT+10)Unqualified sound bites such as ‘no missing links have been found’ are unhelpful statements that we recommend people do not use. However, many do use them, and they are taken by skeptics as a standard creationist argument. Dr Carl Wieland shows how the proper creationist argument on transitional forms works.
I am a big fan of Creation.com! I do have one question. Sometimes, I will browse the internet looking for atheist and/or evolutionist argumentation. One complaint that I often find goes something like this: “Creationists are always *saying* that no ‘missing links’ have been found, but they actually have… and lots of them. Evolution has been proven over and over again.” Like you, I believe this is completely false, but assuming they aren’t all out to deceive people, how are they able to say those things and really believe them?CMI’s Dr Carl Wieland responds:
This is an important question, and requires a detailed answer. Evolutionists are not ‘lying’ when they say things like that, they really believe them. I trust that the following analysis will show why firstly the creationist argument is on solid ground in this regard, but why we also recommend (e.g. in our article Arguments not to use) against simply saying ‘there are no transitional forms’ as a ‘sound bite’ with no qualification.
First, the fact that the links (transitional forms) which the concept of evolution would prima facie cause its adherents to expect are definitely still missing is highlighted in Chapter 3 of Dr Sarfati’s classic book Refuting Evolution.
Returning to our current reality, the following makes sense, therefore. That is, that we find firstly that the numbers of such alleged ‘transitional forms’ are indeed very tiny. And they are changing over time, as one such ‘link’ is quietly dropped once another is available to take its place. In other words, the ‘links’ that one generation grows up with as ‘proving evolution’ (certain apemen are a prime example) are mostly not the same as the following generation is shown as ‘proof positive’ for evolution. In fact, candidates for transitional forms are sometimes ‘dumped’ rather rapidly as more evidence is found. In the case of the recent ‘Ida’ missing link, it started to recede embarrassingly within months—see this article.
Perhaps the most classic example of how links get shown over time to be untenable is Pakicetus, the so-called ‘walking whale’ found in Pakistan. Fig. 1 shows the picture on the cover of Science magazine. The fossil’s discoverer, paleontologist Dr Philip Gingrich, said about it that:
“In time and in its morphology, Pakicetus is perfectly intermediate, a missing link between earlier land mammals and later, full-fledged whales.”1Like so many of these proposed or alleged ‘transitional forms’, the fossil reconstruction (see Fig. 2) involved a great deal of evolutionary speculation, to put it mildly.
And, again like so often happens, years later it is quietly dropped as evidence mounts against it. Fig. 3 shows how Pakicetus turned out, upon the discovery of more bones, to be nothing like the ‘walking whale’ shown by Gingerich and his colleagues. But vast numbers of people had had their faith in evolution reinforced.
Fig 2. What was actually found were the stippled portions of the skull bone. The rest of the picture was obviously based on sheer speculation.
Fig 3. A Pakicetus reconstruction 7 years later as featured in Nature. More bones had been found, which means that this creature had to be quietly dropped from the list of ‘transitional forms’.
Secondly, the handful of ones that are put forward as alleged transitional forms at any point in time are legitimately open to challenge in terms of their status as true transitional forms.
Thirdly, the repeated pattern is an on-going turnover of even that handful of candidates. I.e. in time, even evolutionists themselves acknowledge that a once-loved transitional form no longer qualifies.
I trust that this goes some way to answering your query.
With kind regards
Yours sincerely in Christ,
(Below this point no colors or emphasis will be added)
Readers’ commentsJason T., United Kingdom, 29 May 2012
Another great CMI article.
It is concerning that the Natural History Museum still shows the incorrect 'version' of the fossil.
For a 'world class museum' they certainly lack research or perhaps they forgo intellectual honesty to push their pseudo science on the unsuspecting public?
[Link provided but deleted according to comment rules]
William I., United States, 29 May 2012
Thankfully, science is allowed to be wrong. Often, that is precisely how we move forward in scientific fields. "Scientist A" states that he uncovered a new "transitional form"....people get excited to learn more, popular magazines such as "Science" display unscientific articles to promote the discovery, findings get submitted for review at a scholarly journal, and eventually "scientist B" stumbles onto a mistake or new evidence or even outright frauds, unraveling the original find and requiring a new explanation for it.
This process(or METHOD)is why science provides such valuable knowledge to the world, it constantly questions itself and is always looking to improve. What it is not is an opening for Creationists to make claims that evolution, as a whole, is wrong. For example, If a scientist discovers that the sun is actually made of ice, debunking hundreds of years of scientific knowledge about the sun, that doesn't mean the sun no longer exists
If you do not understand the scientific method, that's your problem.
Carl Wieland responds:
This idea of the 'self-correcting' nature of evolutionary science is worth exploring a little. It's not quite the way this idealized picture paints it. The first important point is that whatever the correction is, it may not go outside of the overall paradigm, i.e. that evolutionary transformism on the major scale (microbes to microbiologists, magnolia trees and mammoths) has indeed happened, period. This would be fair enough, as all science must proceed within paradigms--except that creationists are not afforded the same luxury or leeway. And when a particular transitional form is trumpeted, this tentative nature of the claim is not exactly highlighted--it is usually presented in our culture as an incontrovertible fact which means everyone must bow to evolution. Further, in practice, and in less spectacular cases than Pakicetus, the transitional form is usually only fully retired once another has been elevated or unearthed to take its place. And we are not claiming that because one transitional form is debunked, hence evolution is wrong, period. What is more than reasonable to state, however, is that the claim that evolutionists can show all these transitional forms is extremely misleading, and that the 'big picture' of the fossil record (which mostly demonstrates sudden appearance and stasis, not chains of links that Darwin expected) cannot be claimed to support evolution without serious massaging. In the real world science is not the neat thing that people like to package it as, whether done within an evolutionary or creationist paradigm, it is a far more messy endeavour in which beliefs, biases and social constructs play a huge role. And it can't be stressed often enough that the type of historical/forensic enquiry that is involved with attempting to reconstruct the history of life on earth does not have the self-correcting nature of normal operational/experimental science, where each correction, tested by repeatable experimental observation, brings us closer to the truth. Newton's physics is not overthrown by Einstein's in the way that transitional form X are overthrown by another set of opinions about alleged transitional form Y. Rather, because both were tightly based on experiment, it complements it and Newtonian physics is subsumed within Einstein's. All in all (and I digress here from the main point of this response), one wishes that there was intensive teaching on the philosophy of science in senior high at least, so that the glossy images of what science is and isn't are more readily understood for what they are. For those not trained in the subject (as I was not) I recommend the works of Thomas Kuhn, Imre Lakatos and JP Moreland (the latter a Christian).
R S., Canada, 29 May 2012
The problem with this article is that it ignores the fact that scientists expect the debunking of theories put forward by one generation by the next. Cladistics, for example is a form of classification of taxonomy designed from the ground up to account for the addition of new information. Therefore, each candidate for a transitional form is placed, not between two previously discovered forms, but on its own branch forking off of the earlier form's ancestral tree. This is designed to avoid saying definitively that a particular form is THE transition between x and y, in anticipation the event that new information is uncovered. This is actually a crucial aspect of the scientific method and is indicative of academic honesty rather than assumptions based on ideological preconceptions. The entire mainstream scientific community will change its consensus in light of new information, fully aware that some day in the future, new facts may one day be uncovered that change the fundamental theory yet again. This is how a worldview based on REALITY rather than DOCTRINE is constructed. How many times has CMI completely reworked is cosmological or biological model of history based on the discovery of new evidence?
Carl Wieland responds:
Please see the response to William I's similar comment just above. It should also be noted that these changing consensuses do not--no way--involve a willingness for scientists to change their entire 'cosmological or biological model of history'. Evolutionary science may be open to changing their view of HOW the biological world, for instance, made itself (evolved) but not WHETHER it did so. The mechanism may be argued about, or which fossil is transitional, but not the alleged 'fact' that there must have been such a transition. Both creationists like CMI and evolutionists generally hold to core dogmas, or sets of axioms. The world-made-itself dogma permits no alternatives (see creation.com/the-rules-of-the-game, and creation.com/lewontin). So that is the 'DOCTRINE' (upper case yours) which is permitted to trump 'REALITY' where necessary. What changes when there is contradictory evidence is that either auxiliary hypotheses are established to explain it away, or the various submodels that make up the 'big picture' are modified or abandoned. It is the same for both sides. (See the works of Lakatos particularly, mentioned in the other response). So yes, CMI has done that, with e.g. the vapour canopy model of the preFlood world, or the moon dust argument (see creation.com/dontuse) - and appropriately so. In the process, given how few are working on the issues compared to the taxpayer-funded countless billions working on evolution, there has been very heartening progress in understanding and developing the models of biblical creation. For an example of a set of facts which ucomfortably points to not just creation, but recent creation, and which currently has evolutionists scrambling for an auxiliary hypothesis or some other counter, see creation.com/sanford. Now, maybe there will be an answer to salvage evolution for now, maybe not. But it's important to at least be able to see clearly what is happening here, and no matter which side of the ideological fence one is on, not be beguiled by fairytale images of some idealized concept called 'science', nor the equally misleading idea that it is somehow synonymous with 'evolution'.
Jack C., Australia, 29 May 2012
As a scientist myself (retired) I never understood why so many of my colleagues were atheists. It's so obvious that there must be a God given all the evidence around us. This is even before I started studying the Bible seriously. I know there are many scientists even today who believe in God but the issue I see is they are treated like fools or sick in the mind by their atheist colleagues. I know as it's happened to me. It's really time to turn the tables around and start calling the atheists for what they are, fools and/or liars who will do anything to avoid the truth, even corrupting the evidence. Us God believers don't need to corrupt the evidence since the scientific evidence is in our favour, when it's examined and studied honestly.
Carl Wieland responds:
Jack, the sentiments are understandable, though I think we should recall that we are to give answers 'with gentleness and respect' (1 Peter 3:15). There is a difference between assertiveness and boldness in defence of the faith (which is what one wishes more Christians would exhibit) and agressiveness/bitterness, etc. which can come through if one engages in any sort of name-calling (which your comments could be interpreted as supporting, though I think you don't mean it quite like that). God can say that the one who refuses to acknowledge God is 'a fool', but He is in a very special position to do so, obviously.
Turning the tables and boldly challenging their basis for belief, if sufficiently informed, is a good idea; you may want to consider, too, the sorts of approach outlined in this article, which do not require high levels of proficiency in science: http://creation.com/why-not-and-why
Alex V., Canada, 1 June 2012
This is with regards to the caption under the Pakicedus picture: "Fig 3. A Pakicetus reconstruction 7 years later as featured in Nature. More bones had been found, which means that this creature had to be quietly dropped from the list of ‘transitional forms’."
Are you sure it has really been "dropped" as a transitional form by evolutionists? They keep telling me it is still a transitionary form, and refer me to sources like
[Two weblinks to evolutionary sources were provided here -- Ed. ]
Thank you for clarifying - in advance!
Carl Wieland responds:
I think I should have added to the response, after 'is quietly dropped', the words 'by informed and fairminded evolutionists and the media generally'.
Certainly the initial hype about Pakicetus died away rapidly (I was involved in the creation/evolution battle already at the time, and recall it all well) with the disappointment that accompanied the discovery that it looked nothing like the 'diving part-whale' on the cover of Science magazine, and certainly not the 'perfect' transitional form its discoverer proclaimed it to be at the time.
Evolutionary sites, and evolutionists themselves, are not going to all be on the same page or all uptodate in terms of what is superseded and what is not. (To be fair, that is often so for creationists as well.)
The Thewissen site you sent shows the same picture of Pakicetus as in our article, but insists on regarding the 'Pakicetids' as transitional forms. To quote the site: "Pakicetids did not look like whales at all, and resembled land mammals. However, the skulls of pakicetids have an ear region that is highly unusual in shape, and only resembles that of modern and fossil whales." This is their reason par excellence for including it as a 'link' type. All in all, a very tenuous candidature. Grant creation, and there is no reason why certain design features might not be shared between unrelated groups, in fact this is often found in groups that evos themselves admit could NOT have shared a common ancestor, where it is fudged over by calling it 'homoplasy'. (A word worth researching on creation.com's search engine, btw.)
The other link that listed transitional fossils in general does not actually refer to Pakicetus as such, as far as I can tell, but to the pakicetids, and under that heading refers to Ambulocetus. The very name 'ambulocetus' means 'walking whale'. To see our response to when ambulocetus itself was first discovered, see http://creation.com/a-whale-of-a-tale. See also this technical article from our Journal of Creation, http://creation.com/walking-whales-nested-hierarchies-and-chimeras-do-they-exist which includes documentation that in fact cladograms show ambulocetids and pakicetids to be sister groups, with no line of descent from one to the other. In short, most evolutionary sources do not regard the a/cetids as encompassed within pakicetids, as far as I can tell from a brief foray on the web.
Robert G., Australia, 1 June 2012
I agree entirely with the thrust of Carl's comments. I would add that the existence of a transitional form does not prove that the organism represented by the fossil was evolving. Fossils are 'snapshots' not 'videos'. It can be asserted that an organism existed with the form of the fossil. But even though that form appears to be 'halfway' between to other fossil forms it does not prove 'transition'. Only the existence of many so-called transitional forms, where there is a gradation in transition, would qualify as the basis of an hypothesis that evolution is demonstrated by the fossil record. This sort of evidence has never been found.
To put it another way, a few so-called transitional fossil forms only proves that organisms looking like these fossils existed. It does not point to 'movement' from one form to another.
Alan M., Canada, 1 June 2012
These answers are quite clear and truthful. There is however one point that is frequently missed while discussing the technicalities. Evolution is a weapon of the enemy. It is a delusion from which its victims have no power to escape. The presentation of the creation case only helps creationists and we see all to often that sound arguments and evidence have zero impact on their deluded minds. We often gasp at their dullness. This fails to help them.
Darwin was the high priest of a new religion. We need to respond to this with spiritual weapons. When the spiritual power behind this goes the scientists will follow.
Carl Wieland responds:
Alan, these are important considerations. I think that looking at the apostolic examples, though, we need to do more than just pray (which is probably not what you're implying, but it gives me a chance to make these points) be also ready and willing to engage the arguments.
William G., United States, 2 June 2012
I thank you for your great work at CMI of answering challenging questions proposed by evolutionist. I think that we must always be aware that evolutionist have a 'mindset' to see 'transition' where none really exists. They 'expect' to see a transitional form in almost any fossil find and will be financially rewarded if they can develop a plausible scenario or mythological picture of their fossil 'transitioning'. CMI and other creationist organizations provide the only stablizing influence to 'historical science', and I thank God for your work.
- Gingerich, P.D., The whales of Tethys, Natural History, p. 86, April 1994. Return to text.
The power of asking the right questions.
Published: 5 April 2011(GMT+10)After having devoured lots of information from Creation Ministries International in various forms—public talks, books and magazines—I have experienced a lot of ‘aha’ moments.
Like: ‘Now I see it!’. ‘That’s amazing!’. That is the reason why I’m eager and excited to lead people to creation.com, as CMI materials have made me appreciate the Bible so much more. Through CMI, I am so empowered with the confidence that the Bible is truly the word of God that nowadays it actually makes evangelism easy.
Noah and the animalsRecently, I was in a shop in the town of Warnambool (in Victoria, Australia) that sells all sorts of knick-knacks including some old books. As I was about to pay for a nice white Bible, the gentleman at the counter asked if I’ve seen an even older version than the one I was planning to buy. He kindly walked me to the area upstairs where several Bibles were displayed. (Incidentally, I had noticed the Bible that he was referring to, but had decided on the white Bible anyway.) He seemed to know quite a bit about the various Bibles, so I asked, “Are you a Christian?” He gave a little laugh and said, “Surely not!”. I don’t quite know why, but I just blurted out openly, with a friendly smile, “Why not?” He was quite taken aback by my question. So I eagerly repeated it.
On the way back to the counter, he promised me, quite sincerely, that he would definitely look up the site that evening. I’m sure he has a lot of questions. I wish in hindsight that I had taken his email address so that I could follow up and find out where he is at.
DinosaursAnother case was when a young man came to sell me some garbage bags for charity. I told him I am a Christian and therefore believe in charity. Then I asked if he was a Christian. He said no, but he respected other people’s faith. I then asked him much the same as I did the first person in the bookstore, i.e. “Why not?” Why wasn’t he a Christian? He said he could not accept the Bible because dinosaurs are not mentioned in it. I explained to him that the word ‘dinosaur’ was coined long after the Bible was written. He said, “Wow, no one has explained that to me before.” Naturally, I directed him to creation.com and told him about the searches and all. He promised to visit the site and even took a pamphlet off me.
Sometimes it’s ‘Why?’ instead of ‘Why not?’The third case was at my work, where a colleague said that if it were a matter of choosing between God and evolution, she would definitely choose evolution. I then asked her simply, “Why?”. She didn’t really have an answer. So I asked her if she knew that by evolution’s own principles of mutation and natural selection, evolution doesn’t work? And in any case, what does she understand by mutation and natural selection? It turned out to be not much at all. She hadn’t even heard of Richard Dawkins, for example, yet still chose to believe in evolution. (The context of that discussion had to do with showing CMI DVDs at lunchtime at work, by the way, another great way to break down these barriers to belief.)
But it’s simply asking the “Why?” and “Why not?” that can make all the difference in creating these openings, before sharing e.g. from the magazine, or via videos, or just pointing folk to creation.com.
Questions are powerfulSome years ago, former Australian speaker Warwick Armstrong, while working for the ministry prior to his retirement, apparently passed on similar advice. Ask people to explain, he said, why they would not want to accept the most wonderful ‘free’ gift of eternal life. (This is similar to my “Are you a Christian? Why not?”—always delivered with a smile, because I really am positive and excited about it.)
And if they say something about ‘science’, he said, most of the time it is not something they have thought through well at all. So if they say, “Well, it’s because of evolution”, ask them to explain what it is about evolution? If they say “the fossils”, ask them, “What is it about the fossils?” Keep this gentle probing up and you’ll find, he said, that most of the time they don’t really know why they believe what they believe, and soon come to the end of their answers. Which is a good opportunity to ask them if they would like to know more about such-and-such. And the above example shows that this really is so. It means they are in the position of having run out of answers, and they are the ones being invited to ask you to give them more information. Which means they will be much more receptive than if you had barged in uninvited.
When so many people give these Genesis-related issues as their no. 1 reason for unbelief, we need to sit up and take notice. It doesn’t mean that there are not deeper issues, but at the least these are tangible barriers to faith, and God has over and over seen fit to use CMI’s creation materials to ‘demolish arguments’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) within a person in association with doing His regenerating work.
Be encouraged—and don’t wait to be askedWith these few examples, I hope to encourage all of us who are aware of the wonderful creation ministry. I encourage you to seek out all those who are unaware that there are solid answers to the reasons that many of them see as why they are not trusting the Bible and God’s message of salvation. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and opportunity; you will find that opportunities abound. Notice that I didn’t hit them over the head with anything, and I didn’t have to be a science whiz to be able to direct them in the search for truth. In fact, I didn’t give them any detailed information at all—which also means that there is less chance that one will ‘put one’s foot in it’ inadvertently. You can rely on the ‘battle-tested’ information that CMI’s scientists and researchers present in so many different ways.
Non-Christians are not keen to know whether we are Christians or not. So, don’t wait for them to ask you; they probably never will. By raising the subject yourself, perhaps considering the sort of ‘question-asking’ approach I’ve outlined, you will find that many non-Christians are actually more open-minded than you might think. They are often very happy to discuss and even explore these issues if encouraged to do so in a friendly and positive way.
(Below this point no colors or emphasis will be added)Russell W., Australia, 5 April 2011
Great article. Handing over a CMI pamphlet will reduce the chance of them forgetting the important sound bytes they just heard. This article shows just how effective a primed, properly equipped believer can be in this humanistic society. It also blows away the popular opinion in the church that creation/evolution is a side issue. It isn’t. In my street preaching experience, evolution is the number one barrier to the Gospel, especially for young people. For anyone reading this feedback, if you are shy about speaking to a stranger, hand them a tract, or leave them lying around. People do read them. Your effort’s, with prayer will be a vital link for their salvation.
John J., United Kingdom, 5 April 2011
Thank you for this excellent article—a method of communicating creation I’d not thought about although, in hindsight, quite obvious! Non-threatening thus giving better opportunity to guide people to the Truth.
Jim S., United States, 7 April 2011
Yoke-Peng Kong’s article this morning was the slap in the face I have needed. Although I don't believe that one has to have all the answers in order to bear witness to the Faith, I have been acting and proceeding “as if” this were true. I daily read material from CMI and other good apologetic and creation-related stuff, but take few opportunities to use that knowledge in a practical way. By God’s grace I intend to change that. Thanks so much for your frequent e-mails.
Dr Col L., Australia, 27 April 2012
Oh How Gift giving is our God.
Your article by Yoke Peng-kong "Why not? And Why? is oh so simple yet oh so true. By that I am thinking of the truth that one does not need to be a highly educated person to be able to be a witnessing agent for God. Yoke has shed light on the fact that ALL can partake in being part of Gods Plan to spread the truth that God and Creation with all it's truths in the Bible starting with Genesis do show Gods WORD is truth in it's clearest form.
The question's "Why not & Why" may be the most profound ways to get to the point and heart of most peoples reasons for not knowing or accepting God and their separation from God by their sins.
I give Yoke-Peng Kong 3 Gong's and a GOLD STAR AND GOD the credit for her wonderful brain. We can ALL learn much from her article and improve our effectiveness to the glory of God should we follow the same logic to help people think more logically about why ONLY God's CREATION can tell the reality behind CREATION, CORRUPTION, REDEMPTION, ETERNITY.
GO YOKE !! I'm with you & and all at CMI.
Jim P., United States, 29 April 2012
The article 'Why not? And Why?' shows an approach that is often lacking in the Christian World. Instead of telling others the 'Truth' in spite of their beliefs, Yoke's approach tells others we are interested in them and what they have to say. This builds relationships instead of confrontations. True Christianity is not about religion, but relationship with our loving Father and Creator.
Yoke's approach shows interest in others, and gives them the 'floor' to speak their heart and mind, showing them they (and what they believe and have to say) are important in our eyes, and ultimately in God's eyes. It also allows them to ask for the truth when they are ready, instead of having it forced upon them.
This is a wise way to go about being a humble and honorable representative of our loving God.