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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2006
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Claim CC202:

Sequences of transitional fossils do not show direct ancestry. For example, with the fossil whale transition, which evolutionists consider as good a series of transitional fossils as one could hope to find, the fossils show extinct side lineages at best. Even if we had a fossil of every individual in the lineage, we could not verify direct ancestry. Fossils cannot show evidence of descent with modification even in principle.


Wells, Jonathan, 2006. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design. Washington DC: Regnery, 18-23.


  1. Perfect knowledge is not necessary to verify a pattern. One does not need to watch Jupiter constantly for twelve years, without blinking, to verify that it orbits the sun. Common descent implies a pattern of gradual change and diversification through time. The hundreds of thousands of fossils which have been discovered are consistent with this pattern, and they are not consistent with any other pattern that has been proposed. (In particular, they rule out the possibility that all present life forms existed in essentially the same form throughout the history of life.) It is conceivable that fossils which have not been found might differ wildly from this pattern, just at it is conceivable that Jupiter might zigzag across the Solar System while we blinked, but there is no reason to think so.

    A transitional fossil is simply a fossil which shows traits intermediate between two other fossils. Transitional fossils show likely relationships clearly, and they sometimes show details of how particular features arose. For example, the transitional fossils from reptiles to mammals show how the inner ear bones developed. Such patterns are shown whether the fossils are connected by direct ancestry or by another close relationship. And since we expect extinct side lineages to be common, we would have evidence against evolution if most transitional fossils were not from extinct side lineages.

  2. Knowledge advances by subjecting hypotheses to tests that effectively distinguish one hypothesis from another. Fossil evidence, along with other lines of evidence, does this. Since every hypothesis would fail Wells's requirement for having perfect knowledge before accepting it, his is not an effective test. It can serve only to reinforce one's own preconceptions. Wells himself promotes other propositions on much less evidence, to put it mildly.

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created 2006-8-24