Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 23, 1967
NUMBER 29, PAGE 5-6a

Evolution Examined - 6

Harry E. Ozment

In our last article, we considered three of the five main "evidences" for evolution. In this article, we want to examine the two remaining "proofs."

Some evolutionists often cite embryonic recapitulation as "evidence" for their theory. This idea that higher animals repeat their evolutionary process in their embryonic development (in a shortened form, of course.) This "evidence" is usually applied to the human embryo. The human embryo begins as one fertilized cell — this is supposed to represent the protozoan stage from which man (and all animals) evolved. The embryo, as it ages, resembles a jellyfish, then a worm, and finally a human with a spine. These theorists claim that this embryonic development tells the story of man's evolutionary development. Other theorists assert further that the evolutionary process can be seen in the embryonic development of individual organs. The human heart, so the evolutionists claim, first exists in the embryo as a pulsating tube (which supposedly represents a worm's heart), the a two-chambered structure (which supposedly resembles a fish's heart), then a three-chambered structure (which supposedly corresponds to a frog's heart), then a four-chambered structure with connections between the right and left sides of the heart (which is supposedly parallel to a reptile's heart), and finally a four-chambered structure properly divided (human heart). Some assert that the bronchial grooves, which occur in the human embryo at about four weeks, resemble the "gill slits" of fish — therefore, man went through the fish stage. This "evidence" sounds pretty ridiculous even on the surface, doesn't it? Notice, however, some other faults of this "proof':

(1) If embryonic recapitulation were true, each organ in the embryo should function as does the organ of the animal which each resembles. For example, the bronchial grooves of the human embryo should have a respiratory function because the "gill slits" in fish (which human bronchial grooves supposedly resemble) have a respiratory function.

(2) If "embryonic recapitulation" is true, why are some stages of the embryonic development of organs changed from that which was to have taken place in evolution? Consider, for example, the following:

(a) In the human embryo, the heart develops first, and then blood vessels appear. Evolution teaches, however, that in the development of living organisms, blood vessels appeared first, then a need existed for a heart, and it developed afterward.

(b) In the human embryo, the tongue first appears, and then the teeth. Evolutionary development, however, is just the opposite — first, teeth appeared, and then the tongue.

Here and there, a person can find an evolutionist who is honest enough to admit this imperfection of "embryonic recapitulation." Although he believes in embryonic recapitulation, notice how much is admitted by Emil Witschi, Professor of Embryology and Endocrinology at the University of Iowa:

But it is also recognized that the ancestral history is not faithfully repeated in full detail. Many short-cuts are taken, and most stages exhibit modifications in the nature of adaptations to changed environmental conditions. Often ancestral organs are no longer used and consequently show various conditions of reduction. The gill slits and bronchial arches in human embryos are without physiologic importance for the individual. (Development of Vertebrates, p.6)

Perhaps the "evidence" that is used the most by evolutionists attempting to prove their theory is the fossil record, or the Geological Strata Index. Webster defines a "fossil" as follows: "Any remains, impression, or trace of an animal or plant of past geological ages that has been preserved in the earth's crust." Not only do most evolutionists turn to this as their main evidence for evolution, but many assert that this is the only real evidence for evolution. For example, Dr. E.M. Speiker, head of the Geology Department of Ohio State University, says, "When all is winnowed out, the grain reclaimed from the chaff, it is certain the grain in the product is mainly the fossil record and highly likely that the physical evidence is the chaff." Julian Huxley, perhaps the leading evolutionist of our day, says, "Primary and direct evidence in favor of evolution can be furnished only by paleontology." ("Discourses Biological and Geological" in Volume VIII of Collected Essays) There are several reasons why evolutionists rely this much upon the fossil record. In the first place, most fossils are different from the plants and animals found today. Therefore, evolutionists claim that evolution has taken place — the forms of life of today evolved from the life represented by the fossil. Also, fossils are grouped together so that, generally speaking, certain layers of rock will contain certain groups of fossils. This, by the way, is what is meant by the Geological Strata Index (which is merely an index of fossils.) The first chart in article IV is a simplified Geological Strata Index. Notice that life has existed in five different eras: Archezoic, Proterozoic, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic (no life existed in the Azoic Era.) According to this time scale, as the era is older, the life is simpler. For example, the animals (and therefore, their fossils) that lived in the Mesozoic Era are more complex than the animals that lived in the Paleozoic Era. Some evolutionists claim that they can trace the course or evolution through these different eras using the index.

This evidence sounds invincible, doesn't it? But it's not! There are problems involved with both the fossils themselves and the Geological Strata Index. Some evolutionists have put all their eggs in this one basket, and one day they will have to be honest enough to admit that their basket of eggs turned rotten!

Let's first examine the problems involved in the fossils:

(1) According to Dwight Davis in Genetics, Paleontology, and Evolution, p. 73, the complexity of an organism cannot always be determined from its skeletal system. Therefore, evolutionists cannot always be certain whether a fossil represents a simple or complex organism. If this is true, the path of evolution cannot be traced in fossils.

(2) Even admitting that fossil life was in a different form from life today, this could be explained by variations within a species. One should not jump to the conclusion, therefore, that a fossil represents a different species.

(3) There is also the very real difficulty of being certain whether a design imprint in a rock is the imprint of an organism that once lived (and thus, a fossil) or merely a peculiar formation of rock.

(4) It is assumed that many fossils are extinct now. This assumption is due, in some cases at least, to man's ignorance, because in the past, forms of life formerly thought to be "extinct" have been found. Many more might be found.

There are also many difficulties involved in the Geological Strata Index:

(1) In some cases, the dating of rocks is very speculative. Radioactive methods cannot be used in some cases because radioactive material is not in the rock. When this is the case, dating is often done by the fossils found in the rock. Then, the fossils are dated by the rock in which they were found. Have you ever heard of a "vicious circle?" This is a prime example!

(2) The Geological Strata Index was formulated by using a comparatively small number of fossils.

(3) Very often, complex fossils are found in a layer of rock where only simple forms of life should have lived. Some evolutionists answer that this "inverse order" is due to a "shifting" of rock layers (such as an earthquake). But this "answer" is inadequate because this "inverse order" is seen in great mass areas, some as big as 20,000 square miles. No type of "earth shifting" could have affected this much of the earth.

(4) Even in the Geological Strata Index, there is the absence of "missing link" fossils which show transitions from one species to another. Dr. William R. Thompson, past Director of Commonwealth Institute of Biological Control, says:

What the available data indicated was a remarkable absence of the many intermediate forms required by the theory; the absence of the primitive types that should have existed in the strata regarded as the most ancient? and the sudden appearance of the principal taxonomic groups. ("Introduction" to The Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin, Everyman's Library, p. xviii)

Now, the evidence is all in. It has been heard, and to an honest juror, the best that could be said of this "evidence" is that it is full of faults. In the light of what we have studied in these last two articles, I would pity the nerve of a man (I care not how many degrees he might have) who would still boldly stand before a classroom of intelligent people and persist in stating that evolution is established as fact!

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