"Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists - by design or stupidity, I do not know - as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. The punctuations occur at the level of species; directional trends (on the staircase model) are rife at the higher level of transitions within major groups." [emphasis mine]

- Stephen J. Gould

Note: Dr. Gould's rant re-emphasizes his own admission of the absence of macro-evolutional evidence. He also commits the straw man fallacy of attempting to debunk a belief that creationists do not hold.

The findings of micro-evolutional evidence he touts are actually part of the creationists' model, and the "punctuations"are exactly where only creationism predicts they should be.

"In no one knows what time, though it will be soon enough by astronomical clocks, the lonely planet will cool, all life will die, all mind will cease, and it will be as if it had never happened. That, to be honest, is the goal to which evolution is traveling,..."

- Leslie Paul



Where did man come from?
6) punctuated equilibria


"Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact...And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered."

- Stephen Jay. Gould

"Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny."

- Carl Sagan


10.19 Evolution theory #2: punctuated equilibria

The scientific community's formal rejection of Darwinism's slow, gradual evolution of one species into another probably began in the 1930's with Richard Goldschmidt. While acknowledging the modifications caused by micro-evolution within a given species (something that was never challenged), he expressed doubt that slow evolutionary changes over great periods of time resulted in new species.

Goldschmidt considered examples such as a creature evolving from a crawling species into a flying one. At some point, Darwinian evolution maintains that creature would have appendages that were half feathered wings and half scale-covered legs. Accordingly, this would leave countless middle generations to be rather poor at either running or flying. This would be a significant threat to another Darwinian necessity: survivability. Less obvious transitions would present equally difficult problems:

The lungs of reptiles consist of millions of tiny air sacs; whereas, bird's lungs have tubes. The piecemeal evolution of bird's lungs from reptile's lungs seems virtually impossible. 42

Goldschmidt's theory was that massive changes came about suddenly in single generations. This theory additionally required that an appreciable number of like-mutations must have appeared during the same generation. Simultaneous like mutations are essential. Otherwise, when one-of-a-kind creatures mated with their normal species, if even possible, the mutation would disappear. The mutation would be lost; if not immediately, then after a sufficient amount of interbreeding with normal genes. Hopeful monsters, as they were dubbed, must have similar monster mates in order to propagate their mutation.

10.20 As modernized per DNA studies

Today's modernized hypothesis of Goldschmidt's theory contemplates non-functional DNA, called psuedogenes, mutating for generations unnoticed. Then, when a more rare functional gene mutates, the functional gene triggers the other mutations. At this point, the traditional analogy of Goldschmidt's hopeful monster theory might occur: a lizard's egg hatches and a bird flies out.

Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge likely found the hopeful monster theory too incredulous, but confirmed that the fossil record was absent of transitional forms. What the fossil record did show, they said, was that many creatures, like the marine bivalve, existed for tens of millions of years completely unchanged. Then, when the geologic record appears to indicate their sudden disappearance, a different, fully developed form abruptly appears; again, with no indication of transitional development.

By 1977, Gould and Eldredge incorporated these observations into an evolutionary theory, or modification, called punctuated equilibria. This would describe macro-evolution as a rare and relatively quick event. Transitions happen:

10.21 Problems with punctuated equilibria:

a. not simple

b. no (primordial) soup for you

1.) Punctuated equilibria differs from Darwinian evolution in the amount of time and degree of change thought to occur between each favorable mutation. However, punctuated equilibria, like traditional evolutionary belief, theorizes there once existed a primordial soup of the building blocks of organic matter from which emerged a simple living cell.

Although information about a primordial soup and the nature of cellular life was insufficient in Darwin's day to weigh in on the issue, a great deal of information has been gained in these areas in the last thirty years. What this information shows is that: a) cellular life is not simple, and b) there was no primordial soup.

DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick's research shows that the early earth did not have an oxygen poor atmosphere amenable to such a soup:

Since the atmosphere interacts with the chemicals on the surface of the earth, the chemical composition of the earliest sedimentary rocks should give us some clues to the composition of the early atmosphere. ...if all the available rocks of a given age are considered, then, when averaged, the evidence suggests that the atmosphere in the past was rather like what it is today. 43 [emphasis mine]

Wickramasinghe declares that his own work with Hoyle confirms Crick's investigation into the early earth's atmosphere:

This had been around for a good many years, the general belief, that life has to originate on the surface of our planet from some kind of primordial soup which developed in the very early days of the earth's history... The atmosphere of the earth was supposed to be of a character that permitted the formation of complex organic materials, according to the conventional story, and our investigations revealed to us that earth's atmosphere could not have had this character. 44

Drs. Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen concur:

Furthermore, no geological evidence indicates an organic soup, even a small organic pond, ever existed on this planet. It is becoming increasingly clear that however life began on earth, the usually conceived notion that life emerged from an oceanic soup of organic chemicals is a most implausible hypothesis. We may therefore with fairness call this scenario 'the myth of the prebiotic soup'. 45 [emphasis mine]

2.) Even granting the existence of a primordial soup which punctuated equilibria demands, microbiology has only recently revealed the true complexity of so-called simple cells. Michael Behe points out that these inner workings of cells were totally unknown in Darwin's day; workings which early evolutionists had a largely simplistic and erroneous conception. Molecular biologist Michael Denton expounds on the actual workings of the cell:

What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity...

...Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which -- a functional protein or gene -- is complex beyond our own creative capacities, a reality which is the very antithesis of chance, which excels in every sense anything produced by the intelligence of man? 46 [emphasis mine]

Hoyle positively agrees with Behe and Denton stating,

Biochemical systems are exceedingly complex, so much so that the chance of their being formed through random shufflings of simple organic molecules is exceedingly minute, to a point indeed where it is insensibly different from zero. 47

Fellow evolutionist and molecular biologist Hubert Yockey also agrees:

The origin of life by chance in a primeval soup is impossible in probability... A practical person must conclude that life didn't happen by chance. 48 [emphasis mine]

These evolutionists, regardless of their unique differences, are absolutely clear and unanimous on this point: Life was no accident.

3.) Even if simple cells, as complex as they really are, can be granted to have miraculously appeared out of impossible primordial pools, the fossil record remains the star witness against both Darwinian evolution and punctuated equilibria. The fossil record displays that highly complex living systems existed from the very beginning. Hoyle writes,

If one believes that life originated on Earth, the compulsion to search for an ancestral cell is strong, and the tendency is to imagine that there must have been a time when simple cells existed, but when complex cells did not... this belief has turned out to be wrong. 49

Hoyle further records,

Most of the biochemical complexity of life was present already at the time the oldest surface rocks of the Earth were formed. Thus we have no clue, even from evidence which penetrates very far back in time, as to how the information standard of life was set up in the first place, and so the evolutionary theory lacks a proper foundation. 50 [emphasis mine]

This being the case, Gould's theory, like its predecessor, has no scientific foundation by which to believe that life forms have chronologically progressed from one species to another.

4.) Punctuated equilibria, like modern Darwinism, assumes the layering of fossilized lifeforms in the theoretical geologic column to be representative of serial development; a progression from the small and simple to the larger and complex. However, as pointed out previously, this is not conclusive of serial development. The layering seen in the column is not substantially different from what any cross-section of the earth reveals right now.

In the deepest levels of the sea and earth, tiny microbial life can be found. As one moves toward the surface levels, creatures are progressively found larger in size and complexity. If a large asteroid hit the ocean, or a large volcano exploded and raining silt and debris buried all land-borne life in place right now, imagine what a future generation of evolutionists might conclude. By digging into a cross-section of the resulting geologic column, they would find the remains of people, then below that gophers, then grubs, then mites, then single-celled creatures, and mistakenly conclude this was a serial development. Each form must have preceded the one above it by millions of years. That would completely miss the fact that all these forms exist at the same time right now.

The previously discussed explosion of Mt. St. Helens and the consequential filling of Spirit Lake is a great example of how geologic findings can be misinterpreted. Massive flooding and landslides over a few days caused acres of trees to be buried vertically in layers one atop another. This was a condition which had previously only been interpreted as separate forests succeeding one another by hundreds of thousands of years. This observed event proves with certainty the plausibility of a sudden-burial explanation for layered fossils of creatures that may well have coexisted.

5.) If, as fellow evolutionists charge and as Gould and Eldredge admit, punctuated equilibria has no clear evidence and is not observable or falsifiable, then, like Darwinian evolution, punctuated equilibria is a matter of blind faith, not testable science.

To believe in this theory, one must almost begin with the premise that evolution is true:

Interestingly, it is just such a non-evidencing, improbable kind of way that describes the third and most recent evolutionary idea: Directed Panspermia.



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NEXT: PART 7) Directed panspermia

See also:

Where did the earth come from?

Where did the universe come from?

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This section explains punctuated equilibria and presents arguments against it from scientists of both secular and Christian persuasions.

1. Punctuated equilibria
2. Updated per genetic studies
3. Problems with PE