January 11, 2022 | David F. Coppedge

Fossils Don’t Speak; Evolutionists Do

Evolutionists find errors in evolutionary tree calculations. They conclude
that many evolutionists are forcing their assumptions onto the fossils.


Fossils are silent – obviously. Piecing them into a narrative involves human judgment. And when humans have expectations about what mental picture the fossils are expected to show, they can manipulate fossils to fit those expectations. The same is true with molecular studies used to infer evolutionary relationships.

Clam fossils help scientists find errors in evolutionary tree calculations (University of Chicago). This press release from December 1, 2021 bears thinking about. It’s a rare example of evolutionists admitting that “almost every evolutionary study out there right now” is underpinned by questionable assumptions. What do they really know about the emergence and extinction of lineages?

“To say anything meaningful about evolution, we need to accurately know when lineages originate and when they go extinct.”

David Jablonski, Distinguished Service Professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago and a senior author of a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, noticed a “troubling” assumption underlying many efforts to construct phylogenetic trees. After an extinction event, evolutionary paleontologists typically assume a “forking” event where a species A diversifies into two species, A and B. What might actually be happening, though, is a “budding” event where an offspring B diversifies directly from A and remains co-existing with A. The implications of this erroneous assumption can have a “big impact” on conclusions:

University of Chicago scientists—along with colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution, the UK’s Natural History Museum and the Field Museum—found that one basic assumption made in most models can significantly distort the evolutionary picture, causing the scale of evolutionary recovery from a massive extinction to be off by as much as 400%.

Studying bivalves (e.g., scallops, oysters), for which there is an extensive fossil record, Jablonski and Nick Crouch noticed how errors can creep in by assumption.

For example, the forking method suggests that seven major lineages emerged after the extinction at the end of the Mesozoic. But the fossil record says it was 28. “That’s a four-fold difference,” Jablonski said.

This is troubling, because mass extinctions are an important element in how biologists understand evolution, Crouch said: “Mass extinctions are incredibly influential in shaping biodiversity. You get lineages that are completely wiped out, and entirely new ones that emerge in response. They are a major factor in evolution.

However, by using an evolutionary model that allows for budding instead of splitting, the scientists got a picture that much more closely matched the fossil record.

Note: Darwin skeptics should take note that these two are speaking from their evolutionary perspective. Creationists would explain many of the species as diversity within a created kind, not the origin of new species.

The effect of assuming a “forking” event makes the emergence of new species appear earlier and faster. This leads to assumptions of rapid “evolutionary” change after a mass extinction, which may not be accurate. By comparing the “forking” and “budding” models,

They found a huge difference. “You might not expect a simple decision to have that big of an effect,” Jablonski said. “But it turns out if you force that assumption on your data, you really lose some of the big picture.

A larger lesson from this article is the pervasiveness of assumptions in historical sciences like evolution. One cannot take a time machine to see what happened. Fossils are interpreted according to a prevailing worldview picture. If this particular evolutionary assumption forced onto the data made a huge difference, what other assumptions have not yet been acknowledged? If an error of 400% has been found in a phylum with an abundant fossil record, how big could the errors be for groups with a scant fossil record?

Credit: Rachael Norris and Marina Freudzon / Mayscallop (Wikimedia)

Bigger, Badder Assumptions in the Darwin Camp

The biggest assumption of all in such studies is evolution itself. Evolutionary-paleontologist-turned-intelligent-design-advocate Günter Bechly wrote in Evolution News this week that the fossil record refutes Darwinian gradualism. Although he accepts deep time, he rejects the idea that there is enough time for Darwinian evolution to occur.

An even bigger problem is the complexity of bivalves. They may look simple compared to humans, but they are surrounded by elaborate “telescope-like eyes” that are connected to behavioral responses with neurons which allow them to swim off quickly when they detect an approaching predator (Evolution News, 5 Dec 2017; see embedded video clip; see also 13 May 2019 article here at CEH by Jerry Bergman). Could such complexity arise by blind, unguided processes of mutation and selection?

Tom Bethell, Darwin's House of Cards (2017)

Classic book on Darwinism by the late journalist Tom Bethell.

This is more evidence that Darwinism is a house of cards poised to collapse.

The “diversification” that evolutionists claim to see in the fossil record may be due to other causes. Flood geologists say that hydrodynamic sorting of fossils in dynamic flow conditions can give the appearance of change over time, when the fossil animals were actually contemporaneous. Evolutionists might call some bivalves different species that have only minor differences in size or shape.

If samples higher up in the strata do not have new organs and major traits, can anyone claim they are seeing evolution? Such questions should be debated without assuming Darwinian processes and deep time. The study cited above, done by evolutionists, accuses their colleagues of imposing their assumptions on the data. Debate is a major way to expose assumptions and focus on observational evidence.


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