WERE you taught in school that you are the result of a gradual process of evolution? That when all the "missing links" are finally discovered they would show the progression of evolution as conceived by Darwin? And if you dared to question the validity of Darwin's concept were you looked at strangely? Even laughed at? Well, guess what! A growing body of scientists is concluding that Darwin was not right after all! A century has gone by — a century of searching for the missing links essential to hold Darwin's theory together. It has become all too evident that those missing links will never be found because they never existed in the first place. This does not mean that those scientists who are abandoning Darwinism are abandoning the idea of evolution. They continue to maintain that life evolved — but n6t the way Darwin thought it did. How did it evolve then? That is what they would like to find out! Classical Darwinism has held that life evolved from simple forms to complex forms through the slow accumulation of small changes over many millions or even hundreds of millions of years. When a change occurred, the principle of competition determined whether or not the change was an " improvement." This was known as natural selection or survival of the fittest. The whole process was gradual and relatively simple — according to the theory. However, if that is the way it happened the story should have been reflected in the fossil record. There should be evidence of a long unbroken chain of life forms starting with minute organisms, progressively working up through various branches of the evolutionary tree to the ultimate complex form — man himself. Each link in the chain should look a little like the link before it and a little like the link after it. But, much to the disappointment of evolutionary scientists, record of such an unbroken chain of life forms has not been found. Not that they haven't looked! They have very diligently searched and pieced together what they have unearthed in an attempt to construct the chain of evolution. But without proven success. There are just too many missing links. Reporting on the gaps, science writers for Newsweek commented: "In the fossil record, missing links are the rule: the story of life is as disjointed as a silent newsreel, in which species succeed on another as abruptly as Balkan prime ministers. The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms between species, the more they have been frustrated" (Newsweek, November 3, 1980). Hence the disillusionment with Darwin's ideas.
The search now being undertaken by many scientists is for a new theory of evolution to replace that of Charles Darwin. A very promising replacement is a theory that has gained prominence in just the last few years. It is called punctuationalism. Rather than a slow but steady series of changes through eons of time, punctuationalism would have life forms changing very little for lengthy periods and suddenly making a significant sporadic and spasmodic evolutionary leap. The burst of activity would be followed by another period of inactivity. Missing links would no longer be a problem, since transitional life forms would not be needed. But by what mechanism would such quantum leaps occur? — chance mutations perhaps? When 160 of the world's most eminent paleontologists, anatomists, evolutionary geneticists and developmental biologists met In Chicago last October, the majority of them favored some form of punctuationalism. But there is sharp contention concerning details. The new theory poses many difficult questions. Meanwhile there are some scientists who still refuse to abandon Darwin's concept. And so the scientific community is in disagreement as to how various life forms came to be. But it is remarkable that in all the discussion going on, In all the searching for alternate explanations, there is no move among evolutionary scientists to reconsider whether the biblical record of how God created the different life forms might be accurate after all. There is no indication that it even enters into serious discussion. Investigation of that possibility is out of the question in the mainstream of science. The biblical record doesn't need any missing links. It fits the fossil evidence that various species came suddenly into being. Then why isn't it considered? Perhaps the answer was given by NASA astrophysicist Robert Jastrow. Though his field of interest is more the origin of the universe than the origin of life, the parallel between both studies is interesting.
In the Beginning
The study of the origin of life is being altered by evidence that life forms came abruptly into being. So too, the study of the origin of the universe has been modified by findings that compel astrophysicists to consider that the universe had a definite beginning. That the heavens and the earth came into being at a definite point in time is contrary to what many experts prefer to believe. But that is exactly what the Bible has always said. One would think the astronomers and physicists would therefore consider the biblical account as a possibility at least. But no, as with the evolutionary scientists, there is no move among the astronomers and physicists to the Bible. It is as though there is an unspoken rule among the members of the scientific community that God and the Bible are to be automatically excluded from any search for scientific truth. So striking is this phenomenon that Mr. Jastrow, a self-proclaimed agnostic, commented on it: "Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the universe had a beginning. But astronomers are curiously upset by it. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind — supposedly a very objective mind — when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in their profession. It turns out that scientists behave the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence: We become irritated; we pretend the conflict does not exist; or, we paper it over with meaningless phrases" (Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1978). There is a religion in science — a faith that every event can be logically accounted for as the product of some previous event. But to define that previous event science insists on evidence it can see, feel, measure or weigh. This leaves out the supernatural, because the ultimate "event" is — GOD. Thus a vital dimension is missing from scientific reasoning. The Bible depicts as fools those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Timothy 3:7). Truth in any matter cannot be determined if all the evidence is not examined. As long as the spiritual dimension is excluded from scientific reasoning, new theories will constantly have to be advanced as old ones prove inadequate. Ultimately, though, it will be necessary for science to come to terms with the supernatural. Mr. Jastrow describes that moment: "For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." The question we pose to Mr. Jastrow is, why have the band of theologians been sitting there. Has there been something equally wrong in theology as in evolutionary science?