Jigsaw Pieces from the Rocks

Hunting fossils is a hard job, painstakingly scraping away sand under a baking sun. And when the animals you're looking for are small, the task is even harder. But nature has supplied an army of eager helpers: ants. Yes, paleontologists (scientists who study fossils) have their task made easier by large red harvester ants. These insects instinctively collect small, hard objects—including fossilized teeth and bones. An anthill can be a treasure chest of tiny fossils. There's been a lot of controversy in the scientific community over fossils in recent years. You see, Darwin's theory of evolution assumes that life evolves gradually, by imperceptibly tiny steps. Darwinism pictures life as a continuous chain—from the simplest one-celled organism to the most complex birds and beasts. But, of course, this continuous chain is nowhere to be seen. In the world today, bears and beavers and bats are all quite distinct. There are clear gaps between major biological categories, with no blurring of the boundaries. Darwin knew this, of course, so he appealed to the past. He suggested that the missing links had died out and would one day be found in the fossil record. The history of paleontology is largely a history of the search for the missing links. If Darwin was right, the fossil record should show literally millions of transitional forms. But that's precisely what it does not show. Yes, the fossils do show that life was often very different from today. Some forms of elephants were once hairy: the woolly mammoths. Some forms of reptiles were once gigantic: the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But—here's the important point—those strange forms still fit clearly within the same basic categories known today. Elephants were still elephants, reptiles were still reptiles. The same gaps exist in the fossil record that exist in the living world today. This was obvious even in Darwin's day. But paleontology was still in its infancy then, and he hoped the gaps would eventually be filled in as more fossils were discovered. Today museum storerooms are bursting with fossils, and the gaps still exist. It's become irrational to hope they will be filled in by transitional forms. Some paleontologists have faced the problem head-on and come up with an alternative to Darwin's theory of slow, gradual change. Stephen J. Gould at Harvard suggests that evolution happened in sudden bursts—too fast to leave behind any fossil evidence. This may explain the gaps in the fossil record, but it also places scientists in a very awkward position. If you ask why we don't see evolution happening today, they tell us it happens too slowly to be observed. If you ask why we don't see evidence in the fossil record, they tell us it happens too quickly to leave a trace in the rocks. So where's the evidence for evolution? It isn't there. This is the message we need to bring our friends, our youth groups, and our children's teachers. Most people never hear the case for creation. It's up to you and me to change that. You can even use this series to make your point. It's time to get pluralism back into science.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary