Missing

Thoughts from Steven: More Thoughts About Transitional Forms

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As I concluded last time, while it may not be possible to conclude from the evidence alone that organisms appear in the fossil record according to distinct kinds, it is still necessary to talk about transitional forms with evolutionists. The purpose is not to convince them that the creationist narrative is correct but to demonstrate two things. First, that the creationist model can explain the supposed transitional fossils as well as evolutionary thinking. Second, that the evolutionary model does not explain everything and there are important pieces of information missing. The following is a compilation of thoughts and observations related to transitional forms that show both of these points.

While transitional forms are necessary for the theory of evolution to be true, they are not exclusive to the theory of evolution. As surprising as it may be, transitional forms can exist in the creationist model.

While the terms “transitional form” and “missing link” conjure up images of animals that are half-and-half (half-fish and half-amphibian or half-reptile and half-bird, for example), “transitional form” is used much broader than that. It can mean any connecting specimen between different individuals. For example, your father is, in a sense, a transitional form between you and your grandfather. You and your grandfather are distinct individuals that share a common heritage and your father is a transition between the two of you. Sure, it doesn’t sound like much, and everybody knows that you inherit your grandfather’s gene’s from your father, but this is an important point to an evolutionist. He believes that evolution occurs at the population level.

A population is defined as a group of organisms that belong to the same species living in the same area. Because they are the same species, they are capable of interbreeding and because they live in the same area, they are interbreeding. Because an evolutionist believes that evolution occurs at the population level, then the transitions from one generation to the next (grandfather to father to son) are the basis for the transition from dinosaur to bird or fish to amphibian. In other words, they are the same basic types of transformations.

Now let’s look at the creationist’s view at this point. A creationist would obviously accept that a father passes the grandfather’s genes to his son. If that is within the definition of a transitional form, then a creationist would accept transitional forms as a real thing. Moreover, creationists acknowledge that a kind is a large group than a species, thus several species can be in the same kind. It is even known that species of different genera can be in the same kind. Take something such as a wholphin, a cross between a bottlenose dolphin (genus Tursiops) and a false killer whale (genus Pseudorca). In the creationist model, these two genera belong to the same kind and may very well have begun as a single species that diverged over time into the modern bottlenose dolphin and false killer whale. Intermediate forms would be considered transitional forms between these two genera.

One takeaway here is that transitional forms can exist in creationism. Therefore, the presence of transitional forms does not favor one model (evolution) over the other (creation). In fact, the only way to distinguish between these two models, based on fossils, would be to find a continuous series of transitional forms from a single common ancestor to all of the living species.

The theory of evolution proposes that all living species are descended from a common ancestor, therefore all of those transitions must have existed at one point. The only way to prove the descent from a single common ancestor would be to find all of those transitions. On the other hand, missing some transitional forms would not disprove the theory of evolution, either, since it is extremely unlikely that all of those transitional forms would be preserved. Missing transitional forms does not favor creationism because, as was just described, missing transitional forms is consistent with the theory of evolution and with the known fossil record, so their absence can not distinguish between the two models.

Here we already have the two important facts: creationism can account for transitional forms and there are holes in the evolutionary model.

Lest an evolutionist claim that the sheer number of transitional forms favors evolution over creation, a few salient points are necessary. First, certain transitional forms are wholly unknown. Notable among these is bats and pterosaurs. While there are pterosaurs and bats that are considered more primitive, there are no forms that show the development of their flight membranes. Every known bat and every known pterosaur have function wings complete with membranes, so while evolutionists like to point to birds as an excellent example of a group whose transitional forms from dinosaurs are known, there is no equivalent for the other flying vertebrates.

The biggest example of missing transitional forms is the Cambrian explosion. In the view of “deep time,” the Cambrian is the first layer of rocks to show large, complex animals in abundance. The preceding rocks, the Precambrian, either lacks complex animals, they are few and far between, or they belong to peculiar groups. The transition between these two layers is the point where modern life forms evolved. Yet, they are missing.

The appearance of animals in the Cambrian is referred to as an explosion between within a short time span, nearly every phylum known to man appears in the fossil record. These appear without precedence: there is no transitional form linking jellyfish to arthropods or annelids to chordates or arthropods to mollusks, and so forth. While evolutionists have explanations for the missing fossils (they are all variations of “the fossil record is incomplete”), the stark absence of the transitional forms demonstrates that the necessary links between all living forms have huge gaps. Evolutionists can not claim that transitional forms disprove creationism when the very first transitions that should have taken place are absent.

The preceding discussion is only a glimpse. There is far more than could be said about transitional forms, but this should at least provide some good ideas on how to answer evolutionists if the topic of missing links every comes up.

One Response to “Missing

  • Steven,
    I’ve appreciated this series on transitional forms. Not sure if you have more planned for it or not, but if people search for info about the topic on the Internet they’ll be blessed to find these posts.

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