Darwinism has become a cultural Shibboleth like supporting homosexual lifestyles. If you criticize either, you are immediately labeled as ignorant, culturally backward and an obstacle to progress. Oxford zoologist and naturalistic evangelist Richard Dawkins stated, “…If you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”
Unfortunately, many theists who oppose Darwinism don’t truly understand it. I forced my way through Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of the Species and Evolution: History of an Idea by Peter Bowles in order to present the theory correctly even if I must do so in oversimplified terms. So, what is Darwinism?
Charles Darwin argued that all life can be traced back to a common ancestor. He theorized that different species were the product of millions of years of slight mutations, breeding and “natural selection.” In other words, Darwin argued that a creature would produce an offspring with a slight mutation that happened to give the offspring a slight advantage over his or her brothers and sisters. The slightly mutated offspring would thrive thanks to the advantage and eventually produce offspring with slight mutations and, given enough time, you will have completely different species.
It is important to note that Darwin argued the mutations that would lead from one species to another would be gradual, if not slight, and take millions or hundreds of millions of years.
Darwin argued that the fossil record would eventually demonstrate that through the remains of transitional forms that all life can be traced back to a common ancestor. However, Darwin knew that the fossil record as it existed in 1859 did not support his theory. He was well aware that complex life forms suddenly appear during the Cambrian period, (roughly 500 million years ago) with no transitional forms in the preceding era. Complex life appears so suddenly in the Cambrian period that Richard Dawkins admits, “it is as if they were planted there.” Darwin admitted that if fossils were not found leading up to the Cambrian period that it would be truly devastating to his theory. In fact, Darwin noted in On the Origin of the Species, “If numerous species, belonging to the same genera or families, have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory to descent with slow modification though natural selection.”
Darwin had helped with fossil digs as a young man. He knew the fossil record well and that it posed a serious threat to his theory. In fact, Darwin faced as much opposition during his lifetime from geologists as from conservative Christians. Darwin called the Cambrian Period an “inexplicable mystery” but truly believed the pre-Cambrian fossil record that would prove his theory was buried out in the world somewhere perhaps beneath the oceans. For more than a hundred years, many of Darwin’s supporters took umbrage in this explanation but once off shore oil drilling began in the late 20th century and produced drill cores, we finally had a fossil record to work. Yet, none of the pre-Cambrian fossils produced evidence to support Darwin’s theory.
Where does that leave us? To that we will turn tomorrow.