Why Darwin Couldn’t Define the Word Species
You would think that a book entitled On the Origin of Species would have no difficulty at all defining such a central term. When you examine that publication for clarification of the word species, Darwin’s (1909, p. 58) only attempt is found here:
No one definition has as yet satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species. Generally, the term includes the unknown element of a distinct act of creation.
While naturalists still search for an adequate definition for this (lowest rung on the ladder of biological classification) term, others have attempted to find a satisfactory description. Because this term has differing definitions depending on the topic, we look for the biological definition when seeking clarity for this term. One such attempt can be found at Merriam-Webster online:
d (1): a category of biological classification ranking immediately below the genus or subgenus, comprising related organisms or populations potentially capable of interbreeding, and being designated by a binomial that consists of the name of a genus followed by a Latin or latinized uncapitalized noun or adjective agreeing grammatically with the genus name (2): an individual or kind belonging to a biological species.
The real dilemma concerning an acceptable and accurate definition for the term species is evident to even the most ardent evolutionary scientists as noted evolutionists, Claridge, Dawah, and Wilson (1997) write, “When we turn to the technical literature on species, the nature of species becomes much less clear. Biologists offer a dozen definitions of the term ‘species.’” When the alleged experts cannot produce a consensus for an adequate definition concerning the term “specie,” we begin to understand why they start to fish for some other ways to explain their support for the claim that all living things evolved from single-celled microorganisms. Even invoking the millions-to-billions of years of time (the magic ingredient for the evolutionary hypothesis) is done in the hope of making their outrageously absurd claims of “goo-to-you” somewhat plausible.
So how can evolutionary scientists create a definition that will be able to morph itself (no pun intended) into a believable scenario in support of Darwinian evolution? It makes sense that the proponents of evolution would look to the microbiologists for a working definition for specie(s). After all, microorganism’s speciate (the formation of new biological species, usually by one species that divides into two or more species), and they reproduce rapidly. Additionally, according to the Theory of Evolution (ToE), microorganisms are thought to be the earliest form of life on planet earth. Hence, the definition of speciation is, “the processes in which new genetically distinct species evolve usually as a result of genetic isolation from the main population” (Biology Online, 2011).
Speciation does not produce complex change
The problem with this definition is that speciation in microbiology can only produce a microorganism with slightly different characteristics. The changes in the DNA are insufficient to cause the types of changes required by the ToE. We do not see cocci (a spherically shaped organism) changing into bacilli (a rod shaped organism) or a spirochete (a corkscrew shaped organism) turning into a paramecium or some other form of single cell microorganism, i.e. amoeba, slime mold, algae, and the malarial parasite.
When we compare species of staphylococcus, i.e. S. aureus (Kluytmans, van Belkum, & Verbrugh, 1997) to Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), we see how a bacterium responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans can be so much more problematic than a slightly different specie of the same organism.
Another example of speciation is the group of microorganisms that cause necrotizing factitious. One of those is a strain (specie) of S. Aureus (Kotrappa, Bansal, & Amin, 1996). The term “flesh eating bacteria” is really a misnomer. These bacteria do not eat flesh, but rather secrete toxins that cause the damage to the infected area. These minor variations (microevolution) do not change these organisms substantially. The types of major changes required to substantiate Darwinian evolution are not demonstrated in nature, neither are they documented in the fossil record. Still, the evolutionary scientist’s commitment to this paradigm of naturalism is never shaken.
If the concept of speciation in microorganisms is difficult to grasp, look no further for an example of variety in similar living organisms, e.g. speciation, than the family dog (Canis lupus familiaris). Using the modern classification, domestic dogs are a species of the genus Canis, and a subspecies of C. lupus. Modern dogs are thought to be a domesticated form of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Therefore, every variety or breed of domestic dog we have, from Chihuahua to the Great Dane (and more than 150 other recognized breeds in between) are all believed to be variations of one kind of animal, e.g. the gray wolf.
The Bible speaks about grouping living organisms according to “kind,” therefore; these are all examples of speciation or variety within kind. They cannot be used as evidence that speciation among dogs (or bacteria) will ever produce a truly different organism. Dogs will not produce cats and horses will not produce buffalos. More importantly, invertebrates will not produce vertebrates, fish will not produce amphibians, and reptiles will not produce mammals.
Even when the difference has to do primarily with size, domestic cats (Felis catus) and African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) are classified as belonging to the same genus, e.g. Felis. The real distinction is that wildcats have far more difficulty interbreeding than domestic cats. The offspring of lion and tiger interbreeding, ligers and tiglons, cannot survive in the wild. Therefore, these are not a natural or true subspecies of lions and tigers, even though evolutionists have created a new genus, Panthera, to categorize them.
Who knew: The “gaps” are not really gaps at all
Because speciation fails to produce concrete evidence of the types of changes predicted by Darwin’s theory, evolutionists have looked elsewhere for support. Remember, when Darwin first proposed his theory, the fossil record was extremely poor. Darwin devoted an entire chapter to this entitled, On the Imperfection of the Geological Record. In fact, Darwin (1872, p. 179) wrote:
Lastly, looking not to any one time, but to all time, if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking closely together all the species of the same group, must assuredly have existed; but the very process of natural selection constantly tends, as has been so often remarked, to exterminate the parent-forms and the intermediate links. Consequently, evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains which are preserved, as we shall attempt to show in a future chapter, in an extremely imperfect and intermittent record.
The rest of the evolutionary community has continued to blame the lack of evidence of transition in the fossil record on the catastrophic nature of the geological history of the planet. Many of the quotes that correctly observe the systemic gaps in the fossil record are followed by secondary explanations as to why these gaps exist. One such example is this quote by Ernst Mayr (2001, p. 14):
Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series. New types often appear quite suddenly, and their immediate ancestors are absent in the earlier geological strata. The discovery of unbroken series of species changing gradually into descending species is very rare. Indeed the fossil record is one of discontinuities, seemingly documenting jumps (saltations) from one type of organism to a different type. This raises a puzzling question: Why does the fossil record fail to reflect the gradual change one would expect from evolution?
Mayr presents evolution as a fact. This is a common practice among evolutionists. He then states the obvious, noting that one would expect the fossils to document a gradual, steady change, from ancestral forms to their descendants, just as Darwin predicted. When the evidence contradicts what the ToE predicts, Darwin’s’ disciples must give us a secondary explanation to explain the apparent incongruity. This is a case in point. Mayr understands that systemic gaps continued, long after Darwin thought they would be filled by subsequent discoveries of transitional fossils. Mayr continues:
All of his life Darwin insisted that this is simply due to the unimaginable incompleteness of the fossil record. Only an incredibly small fraction of organisms that had once lived are preserved as fossils. Often the fossil-bearing strata were on plates that were subsequently subducted and destroyed in the process of plate tectonics. Others were strongly folded, compressed, and meta- morphosed, obliterating the fossils. Only a fraction of the fossil-bearing strata is presently exposed at the Earth’s surface. But it is even highly improbable that any organism ever becomes fossilized at all, since most dead animals and plants are eaten either by scavengers or decay. They become fossilized only when, immediately after death, they are buried by sediment or volcanic ash. Fortunately, occasionally a rare fossil is found that fills the gap between ancestors and modern descendants. Archaeopteryx, for instance, a primitive fossil bird of the upper Jurassic (145 million years ago), still had teeth, a long tail, and other characteristics of his reptilian ancestors. However, in other respects, for instance in its brain, large eyes, feathers, and wings, it is rather similar to living birds. Fossils that fill a large gap are referred to as missing links. The discovery of Archaeopteryx, in 1861, was particularly gratifying because anatomists had already concluded that birds must have descended from reptilian ancestors. Archaeopteryx confirmed their prediction.
The invocation of Archaeopteryx as the poster boy of transitional fossils is nothing new. What is interesting is the conclusion by avowed evolutionists that Archaeopteryx is anything other than an extinct bird. The old adage, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and flies like a duck, maybe it’s a duck” surely applies. Still, when pressed, Mayr and other evolutionists continue to diminish this lack of fossil evidence. Is it fair for evolutionists to present excuses such as the poor condition of the fossil record? Especially when creationists can document that every living organism found in the fossil record appears abruptly, fully formed, without transitional precursors, just as the creationist model predicts.
Lack of evidence miraculously becomes evidence
You might think that you have, once again, slipped down the rabbit hole along with Alice when you hear that Neo-Darwinists consider the lack of evidence from the fossil record to be evidence in support of the Darwin’s theory. That’s right. This new evidence, e.g. the gaps in the fossil record between every major type of living organism, is now going to be presented as evidence in favor of Darwinian evolution.
It is important to remember that evolution proposes gradual changes over time are the result of natural selection with the aid of beneficial mutations; thereby molecules can be organized into men. If you mix in the magic ingredient of ‘deep’ time, and ignore the statistical improbability of abiogenesis, e.g. life arising spontaneously by natural means (Bergman, 2000; Newman, 1967, p. 662; Thaxton, Bradley, & Olsen, 1984, p. 66), then the impossible allegedly becomes much more plausible.
David Coppedge (1920-2004) presented the case against Darwinian evolution using probability theory. He applied it to the development of the first protein. Using the most advantageous conditions possible, his calculations rendered the possibility a single usable protein arising by chance (using all the atoms on earth since the world began, by evolutionary standards, 4.5 billion years ago) as, on average, calculated to be 1 in 10161 (Coppedge, 1972). This astronomical number, 1 in 10 with 161 zeros following is, statistically speaking, an absolute impossibility.
Enter the saviors of the fossil record, paleontologists Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge. These two evolutionary gurus offered a clever hypothesis to explain the gaps in the fossil record. Gould and Eldredge (1972) published a paper that presented a theory called Punctuated Equilibria (sometimes Punctuated Equilibrium or Punctualism). Stating the obvious, that gaps are systemic throughout the fossil record, they proposed an alternative explanation for the missing evidence. They noted that the degree of gradualism commonly attributed to Charles Darwin is virtually nonexistent in the fossil record, and that stasis dominates the history of most fossil specimens. Therefore, they say, change must have occurred quickly, too rapid to be evidenced in the fossil record. Therefore, the transitional fossils are missing, because they never really existed in the first place!
Only evolutionists can have their cake and eat it too
Now the lack of corroboration, e.g. the gaps, by evolutionary standards, can be used as evidence in support of the ToE. The existence of alleged transitional fossils, i.e. archaeopteryx (150-145 mya), Cladoselache – extinct shark (370 mya), or Vieraella – extinct frog(213-188) mya, etc., are also invoked as evidence in support of Darwin’s theory. This is a difficult situation for evolutionists, because the gaps are supposed to be the result of evolution happening too quickly, and this is supposed to explain the lack of transitional fossils. However, in reality, the above noted examples of the evolutionary ancestors of birds (Archaeopteryx), sharks, and frogs are almost indistinguishable from their extant relatives.
A visit to Wikipedia (2011) reveals a long list of so-called transitional fossils. This record discloses that many are still alive and well today, with only slightly different characteristics than their tens-to-hundreds of million years old relatives. What you find is a list of allegedly very old organisms that appear to be almost identical to their modern counterparts. There are so many examples of these living fossils that evolution has created a classification for them, e.g. the Lazarus Taxon (Wikipedia, 2011).
Remember, Darwin’s theory predicted that a continuum of living organisms will exist in the past, thereby confirming that all life began evolving from a single-celled microorganism approximately 2 billion years ago. Punctuated Equilibria is yet another convenient “secondary” explanation, another “just so” story of Darwinism, given to explain why Darwin’s prediction failed, and the evidence of goo-to-you is absent from the fossil record. But, do we have any imperical confirmation for Punctuated Equilibria, or is this just another in a long line of “just so” stories intended to explain away the gaps, e.g. the empty spaces where transitional fossils should be?
It seems that in the world of Darwinian evolution, you get to say anything you want. Both the gaps in the fossil record as well as the transitional fossils are placed on the plus side of the evidence column for the ToE. Evolutionists get to have their cake (gaps in the fossil record where transitional fossils should be) and eat it too (transitional fossils where the gaps should be). This is done, even though gaps are allegedly the result of fast changes; changes that happen so quickly that they cannot be documented in the real world. The transitional fossils, allegedly evidence of the slow gradual changes Darwin did, in fact, predict is also used as support for the ToE.
The major reason evolutionists have failed to provide concrete evidence in support Darwin’s theory is that the evidence simply does not exist. Instead, we have stories of Abiogenesis and Punctuated Equilibria. These are purely theoretical constructs with little or no empirical support. The bait and switch tactics evolutionists employ are being confronted; microevolution or adaptation is not molecules-to-men macroevolution. Evolution’s house of cards is crumbling. It cannot withstand serious scientific scrutiny.
Darwin’s failure to define a major term in his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, is not surprising. The true origin of every species is the Creator, the God of the Bible. The difficulties in defining the term “species” has more to do with the failure of evolution to adequately explain what we see in nature as well as what we have seen documented in the fossil record. Darwinian theory often fails to make accurate predictions concerning what we would expect to see in a future dominated by the evolutionary paradigm. Combine all of this with the misleading and overly broad definition of evolution as change over time, and you are left with the pseudoscience of Darwinian evolution masquerading as scientific fact.
The testimony of the Word of God is clear. Every living organism is genetically pre-programmed by the Creator to reproduce itself, according to its own kind, Gen. 1: 12, 21, 24, 25. Adaptation is not evidence of Darwinian, molecules-to-men, evolution. Adaptation is part of the intelligent design of the Creator, thereby assuring that living organisms will continue to “be fruitful and multiply” in an oft-times less than friendly environment. Any theory that automatically excludes from consideration information based solely on that data’s inference of a Creator is itself shortsighted as well as deeply flawed.
Pastor Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.
Chief Technical Advisor
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