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Discovery Magazine 10/1/1999

Of Pigeons and Whales

Darwin knew he had problems with his theory of evolution. He knew, for instance, that people might have a hard time believing that species can change in nature. So he turned to plants and animals that people used. His favorite example was the pigeon. He liked to show how much the man-made breeds of pigeons had changed from the wild rock pigeon. If puny man had done so much to pigeons over a short time, he thought, then imagine how much nature could do over a long time!

Actually, this was not a good comparison. A farmer can select sheep that will produce more wool, or cows that will make more milk. But nature does not have a goal or purpose like this. Also, there might be big differences among the different breeds of pigeons, but this doesn’t mean that dinosaurs could become birds, or that apes could become human beings.

Darwin knew that we would not see changes taking place before our very eyes. But, he thought, we should be able to see the results of evolution in the fossil record. If the whale, say, evolved from a creature that lived on the land, then we should be able to see each step along the way. We should find fossil creatures that are becoming more and more whale-like.

In those days, people hadn’t collected many fossils, so Darwin could not produce much evidence for his claim. But he was sure that fossil hunters would find the evidence he needed. Just give them time.

That was almost a century-and-a-half ago. Have the fossils been kind to Darwin? People who believe in evolution think so. They like to arrange creatures on a page and ask us to believe that big changes have taken place. Usually they pick creatures that have similar features. This is supposed to show that they are related.

But how did these big changes take place? Evolutionists shouldn’t just point at a picture and say, "All these creatures are related." They need to tell us how one creature changed into another. Natural selection is not a good answer because it cannot produce changes that are big enough.

Here are three more problems. First, we have found lots of fossils since Darwin. We should have enough fossils to see the big changes he predicted. But those fossils are missing (because they were never there). Second, a lot of creatures we find in the fossil record are just like the creatures we find roaming the Earth today. It looks like things stay the same more than they change. And third, complicated-looking animals appear suddenly in the fossil record. This fits much better with the idea that God created life, just as we read in the first chapter of Genesis.

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