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The term 'missing link' is one that is seen quite a lot in the context of evolutionary theory, but it's also one that's frequently misused. In principle, a 'missing link' is supposed to be whatever absent organism 'links' ancestor species with descendant species. It's thought of as a type of 'link' in an evolutionary chain which is, unfortunately, missing.

Read Article: Evolution and the Missing Link: Why Is It Missing?

Comments
May 11, 2006 at 5:40 pm
(1) Andrew says:

I will confess, the idea of links is more intuitive than shades. A continuum works for a direct line of descendancy, but when you have branches and forks (as when 2 or more new species branch off from a common ancestor), continuums and spectrums aren’t as easy to visualize. Maybe the best analogy in this case would be the classic tree of life.

I don’t give much credence to creationists’ use of “missing links” or missing transitional fossils to somehow disprove evolution. Supply them with one, and they just ask for the one in between the missing link and its ancestor and/or descendant. If they had their way, evolution could be proven only with a complete fossil record of every plant, animal, and germ that ever lived in the history of life on Earth. (Which is to say, never.)

February 18, 2008 at 10:11 pm
(2) Andrew Hayes says:

That’s the best you can do? Don’t worry about explaining what we can’t explain because life is a spectrum! What a load of crap!

February 19, 2008 at 7:28 am
(3) Austin Cline says:

That’s the best you can do? Don’t worry about explaining what we can’t explain because life is a spectrum! What a load of crap!

Perhaps if you represented the argument correctly, instead of creating a straw man, it wouldn’t look like a “load of crap” anymore. Ironically, the demand for “missing links” comes from others who themselves in the process misrepresent what evolution is, so it’s really not surprising that attempts to correct this would also be misrepresented.

March 11, 2008 at 5:10 pm
(4) Greg says:

If the idea is so outdated and doesn’t make any sense, it’s interesting why scientists also claim to be searching for it.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0413_060413_evolution.html

If the changes are ‘gradual’ like you say then we should have some fossils to prove that. Thanks for a bull**** article against creationists. Quit wasting peoples time.

March 11, 2008 at 6:17 pm
(5) Austin Cline says:

If the idea is so outdated and doesn’t make any sense, it’s interesting why scientists also claim to be searching for it.

The problem with providing links like you did is that readers can see how you are misrepresenting things. The article says nothing about scientists searching for the sort of “missing link” described in my article. In fact, none of the scientists quoted use the term “link.” Did you notice that?

If the changes are ‘gradual’ like you say then we should have some fossils to prove that.

That statement wouldn’t be made by anyone who understood how hard it is for fossils to form.

Thanks for a bull**** article against creationists. Quit wasting peoples time.

Whereas your comment, consisting of nothing but misrepresentations and falsehoods, represents a good use of time?

March 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm
(6) Don Latimer says:

Go to the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits and see change over time. They have pleanty of fossils there.

March 18, 2008 at 4:58 pm
(7) Pandamonk says:

… or check out my youtube video showing gradually progression from a common ancestor with chimps to us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dvqq7y_SCw

For a more accurate video, check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZ2WoHFc7eE&feature=related

March 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm
(8) K. Anonymous says:

To Greg and others who share his views on evolution,

You do realise that thousands of fossils of various forms of life have been found right? Including missing links. Its not open to debate anymore, go to any decent secular museum and they will most likely have such a fossil, or at least information of musuems that do have them.

So how about next time you get your facts straight before wasting people’s time?

July 3, 2008 at 11:34 am
(9) R.J. Anderson says:

The best comment I can make to you as a former science teacher comes from Dr. Thomas Dwight of Harvard. He states, “We have now the remarkable spectacle that just when many scientific men are agreed that there is no part of the Darwinian system that is of any good influence, and that, as a whole, the theory is not only unproven, but impossible, the ignorant, half-educated masses have acquired the idea that it is to be accepted as scientific fact.”

July 3, 2008 at 12:42 pm
(10) Austin Cline says:

The best comment I can make to you as a former science teacher comes from Dr. Thomas Dwight of Harvard. He states, “We have now the remarkable spectacle that just when many scientific men are agreed that there is no part of the Darwinian system that is of any good influence, and that, as a whole, the theory is not only unproven, but impossible, the ignorant, half-educated masses have acquired the idea that it is to be accepted as scientific fact.”

Tell me, from which book of dishonest apologetics or pseudoscience did you scrape that quote? Had you deigned to investigate it further, you might have learned that Dr. Thomas Dwight was an instructor of anatomy who died in 1911.

This means that the “now” of the quote was, at best, a reference to the first decade of the twentieth century — long before many of the discoveries which have proven not only the evolution is a fact, but also that evolutionary theory is as sound and solid as other scientific theories like Plate Tectonics. Don’t you suppose that there has been quite a bit of advancement in the past century?

A bit more investigation might have also revealed that evolutionary theory is the very foundation of modern biology. Evolution is the framework which binds together all the various aspects of biology in the same way that Plate Tectonics is fundamental to geology. Don’t you find it curious that there is hardly anyone in science today who takes the position which Dwight stakes out — and that those who do all do so for religious rather than for scientific reasons?

I find myself compelled to wonder if any of this disinterest in history, research, and facts is in any way related to why you are a former science teacher, and not someone who currently has any responsibility for teaching science to young people anymore. It is certainly interesting that the “best” comment you can make on a scientific matter is a century-old quote from an anatomist who is now better known for his contributions to Christian apologetics than to the advancement of science.

July 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm
(11) John Hanks says:

The one thing I’m sure of is that the Biblical account of creation has nothing to do with anything more than the myths that were collected to make it. It does have a certain resemblance to ideas involving early cognitive development: chaos, naming, etc.

July 8, 2008 at 4:40 pm
(12) Warrior for Christ says:

Austin if you wan’t to be decieved and stake your eternal destiny on missing links which are planted by satan to decieve small minded men like you. Be my guest. The bible is very clear about these things and if you would take the time to read you would know this. But you in your atheist arrogence always tell us to “Prove it” when we say the truth. I hope there is plenty of popcorn in heaven because I can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting back and watching you burn in hell for all eternity.

September 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm
(13) Judy MacDonnell says:

I am horrified that another Christian would make such a comment! I am very much a creationist myself, but I don’t believe that language like this glorifies our Maker. Even God says that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, so how can we even think of taking pleasure in it. I seriously fear that you are not truly converted. I understand an atheist bieng intolerant of others because they accept no special standard of behaviour, but Christians have Jesus’ example to follow. Every person is worthy of our respect.

July 8, 2008 at 7:01 pm
(14) Mark Thomas says:

In reference to Warrior for Christ’s comment, don’t you just love the logic? Since he lost the debate because of evidence, he had to resort to threats of eternal punishment — curtesy of his loving god.

Of course, there are large numbers of intermediate fossils (e.g. “missing links”). I’ve gathered a list of a few at our science page — along with many links explaining evolution.

The evolution of humans from other primates, over the last 5 million years, is well-documented. I also have a section on our science page with significant evidence. This is an excellent short article showing the chromosomal evidence.

Here’s a moderate overview of the Theory of Evolution.

July 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm
(15) K. Anonymous says:

Warrior,

‘Austin if you wan’t to be decieved and stake your eternal destiny on missing links which are planted by satan to decieve small minded men like you. Be my guest. The bible is very clear about these things and if you would take the time to read you would know this.’

As far as I’m aware Austin has read the Bible, which is incidentally a work of fiction which has no bearing on modern science. Have you ever read a single scientific book in your life? I suspect not.

‘But you in your atheist arrogence always tell us to “Prove it” when we say the truth.’

If you can’t prove it how do you know its the truth?

‘I hope there is plenty of popcorn in heaven because I can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting back and watching you burn in hell for all eternity. ‘

You’ve said this quite a few times, what exactly do you think you’re achieving by doing so? Besides, doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that god is supposedly loving yet will send people to hell for eternity just for not believing in what humans have said he wants you too? Even if there is a god maybe he’d rather send hate-filled extremists like you to hell, have you ever thought about that?

I notice once again you don’t even suggest the precense of evidence for anything you say.

July 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm
(16) Gudfala says:

“missing links which are planted by satan to decieve small minded men like you”

Damn – if only I’d known that when i was writing my thesis. I could have changed the focus a bit “Mega-fauna in Oceania: Satan’s hilarious prank”

July 9, 2008 at 12:18 am
(17) Tom Edgar says:

I really am trying not to be pedantic, but when I read letters with obvious misspellings, & glaring grammatical errors that are written by people such as “Warrior.” I ask to be forgiven for saying that people with such a low intellect & educational standard should not enjoy a response. In the first place it raises their status, secondly there is absolutely no way they will actually give any credence to an intelligent reply.

It is both understandable, and totally in keeping with, the world over, a lower education, and I Q, invariably equates to a deep belief in religions.
It is not a requirement, highly educated people do have theistic beliefs. Atheists are not all from the upper echelons of Academia either.
The main difference is that the latter, without exception, come to their position from making their own decisions, often from a previous religious upbringing. Theists invariably have their thoughts and philosophies imposed by a clerical hierarchy or an even higher imagined authority, and never question the veracity of, from the cradle, indoctrination.

I have no objection to debating with a sensible Theist, if that isn’t oxymoronic, but it seems pointless when one is bombarded by scriptural quotations and unsubstantiated “Truths.”

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

July 9, 2008 at 12:40 am
(18) Zack says:

I hope there is plenty of popcorn in heaven because I can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting back and watching you burn in hell for all eternity. Comment by Warrior for Christ — July 8, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

You fantasize about being in a position of power because you have none.

July 9, 2008 at 5:46 pm
(19) Paul says:

The whole idea of “missing links” has more to do with the popular misrepresentations of Darwin made in America during the 19th Century than with the Modern Synthesis that is the basis of biology today. Is it any wonder that American education has sunk so low with people like our former science teacher? I have seen too many science teachers who really did not understand what they were teaching, and very often their problem was a religious objection that impeded their ability / motivation to clarify what was so clearly muddled in their minds.

July 14, 2008 at 4:27 am
(20) Tom Edgar says:

To get back to the question. Why are the links missing.?

They are not, some may not have been found YET. Under the circumstances it is amazing how so many links have been discovered.

The main difference is when asked. “How do we KNOW ?” Generally the answer is.
“The verifiable evidence points to this conclusion.” Theists have no verifiable evidence but claim that they KNOW, because some semi literate Middle Eastern nomad said so five thousand years ago.

tomedgar@halenet.com.au

September 1, 2008 at 5:42 am
(21) Wayne Wohler says:

HI, Austin

You do a fair job in demonstrating the subtleties and nuances of “linking” prior species with new ones. The real problem is that Darwin’s theory never was meant to apply to man although he “assumed” that man evolved similarly as in his theory for other animals. During his time there was no fossil evidence to “prove” an evolutionary linear transition for homo sapiens let alone any for our current physical manifestation as the subspecies homo sapiens sapiens. And, there STILL ISN’T! All previous hominids prior to modern man ended sometime contemporaneously with our presence here. There has been no demonstrable link whatsoever for Homo Erectus, our closest “prior link”,evolving into Homo Sapiens. There is, however, quite a bit of evidence that their was a genetic intervention sometime around 250 to 300 thousand years ago in S.E. Africa (see Zecharia Sitchin’s “Genesis Revisited”). In one of the earliest cuneaform tablets of the Sumerians, labeled by scholars as the “Mutiny of the Pick-Ax”. It tells a very detailed story of how thier “gods”, the Annunaki, used a process which can only be described today as in vitro fertilization to produce a hybrid being they called an “Adamu” or earthling (also translated as “primitive worker”). These Adamus were part Annunaki (using the blood and sperm or “essence” of a young Annunaki male)and the “seed” or ova from an indigenous hominid female(Sitchin believes most probably Homo Erectus) which they found around the mines there in the Abzu (S.E. Africa)circa 300 thousand B.C. He had published this information in his “12th Planet” before the “Out of Africa” theory was proclaimed as a result of mitochondria DNA studies for the origin of a single “Eve” originating in S.E. Africa!
So, briefly, our physical vessel was a product of genetic engineering by an advanced extraterrestrial race using an evolved hominid, which originally was a creation of our ultimate Divine Creator. Kind of puts a few twists in both the Creationist’s and Evolutionist’s theories of man’s origin!

Love to debate all the problems this alternative explanation for our present “evolved” state of physical manifestation.

Your Brother in Spirit,

Wayne

September 3, 2008 at 7:26 pm
(22) James says:

Evolution(if it is true) is ABSOLUTE proof of God.

The bible tells of the ice ages and the extinction of the dinosaurs on the first page. It also says we were made from pre-existing material.

September 9, 2008 at 6:23 pm
(23) Drew says:

James,

Please forward me a copy of the version of the Bible you possess. I’ve never seen one that contained the word “dinosaur” or the phrase “ice age” on the first page before. How fascinating. Presumably, your Bible also says that the earth rotates around the sun? That the earth is round, not flat? What either gems of knowledge does your Bible possess, that are strangely absent from all the others?

It’s always amazing that simpletons like James claim that their beliefs are based upon evidence, when they clearly have zero ability to actually evaluate the degrees of evidence which things possess. Religious belief forces people to construct increasingly complex webs of self-delusion, until reality must become a place they can only see off in the distance.

September 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm
(24) Judy says:

Isaiah 40:22, “It is He who sits above the CIRCLE of the earth, and its inhabitants like grasshoppers, who STRETCHES OUT the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” The word circle has been translated from the original Hebrew word khug, which may be translated “sphere”. (The German word kugel means “ball, sphere or globe”.)
There are 17 Bible texts that speak of God “stretching out” the heavens during His process of creation, which makes sense with our current understanding of redshifts. Job, when describing God, says: “He stretches out the North over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing”. Job should have known that you can’t hang something on nothing. However this verse, written around 2000 BC, correctly describes the earth as being suspended in space.

September 9, 2008 at 9:10 pm
(25) Todd says:

“During his time there was no fossil evidence to “prove” an evolutionary linear transition for homo sapiens”

1) All skeletons are transitional. Even yours.

2) Just because we don’t know how we got from A to C, doesn’t meant that pixies did it. Science openly admits the holes in its understanding, and encourages questioning. Religion does neither.

September 10, 2008 at 1:33 pm
(26) K. Anonymous says:

‘The bible tells of the ice ages and the extinction of the dinosaurs on the first page. It also says we were made from pre-existing material.’

No it doesn’t. I’ve read the first page of the Bible many times and that’s a pretty loose interpretation.

September 15, 2008 at 5:48 am
(27) Pedro says:

Why on earth would we expect to have a fossil of every generation of every animal that ever lived? indeed, with the fluidity of evolution, being based on individual mutations, we would need a fossil of every animal ever to not have a “missing link”. The fossils that we do have imply gradual changes of shared traits in species over time and support the idea of speciation. Creationists need to to realise what evolution is before they attempt to disprove it.

September 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm
(28) Judy says:

No point in arguing, guys. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” Why don’t we look at what some of the experts say:

“Unfortunately not a single specimen of an appropriate reptilian ancestor is known prior to the appearance of true reptiles.” Robert L. Carroll: Problems of the Origin of Reptiles Biological Review of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 1969 p.393

“I shall discuss the broad patterns of hominoid evolution, an exercise made enjoyable by the need to integrate diverse kinds of information, and use that as a vehicle to speculate about hominoid origins, an event for which there is no recognized fossil record. Hence, an opportunity to exercise some imagination.” (Dr David Pilbeam is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and curator of paleontology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

“Feathers are features unique to birds, and there are no known intermediate structures between reptilian scales and feathers.” Feduccia: The Beginning of Birds – Jura Museum, Germany 1985

December 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm
(29) Wayne Wohler says:

Well, you’re right we don’t “need” every transitional link leading to our current species of homo sapiens, just the one prior to us would be nice. And that’s the problem. All the evidence shows that our nearest previous precursor, Homo Erectus, was at least some 2 million years of evolutionary “mutations” short of modern man!

Again, ALL previous hominids prior to modern man ended sometime contemporaneously with our presence here. There has been no demonstrable link whatsoever for Homo Erectus, our closest “prior link”,evolving into Homo Sapiens. There is, however, quite a bit of evidence that their was a genetic intervention sometime around 250 to 300 thousand years ago in S.E. Africa (see Zecharia Sitchin’s “Genesis Revisited”). In one of the earliest cuneaform tablets of the Sumerians, labeled by scholars as the “Mutiny of the Pick-Ax”. It tells a very detailed story of how thier “gods”, the Annunaki, used a process which can only be described today as in vitro fertilization to produce a hybrid being they called an “Adamu” or earthling (also translated as “primitive worker”). These Adamus were part Annunaki (using the blood and sperm or “essence” of a young Annunaki male)and the “seed” or ova from an indigenous hominid female(Sitchin believes most probably Homo Erectus) which they found around the mines there in the Abzu (S.E. Africa)circa 300 thousand B.C. He had published this information in his “12th Planet” before the “Out of Africa” theory was proclaimed as a result of mitochondria DNA studies for the origin of a single “Eve” originating in S.E. Africa!
So, briefly, our physical vessel was a product of genetic engineering by an advanced extraterrestrial race using an evolved hominid, which originally was a creation of our ultimate Divine Creator. Kind of puts a few twists in both the Creationist’s and Evolutionist’s theories of man’s origin! But, it also explains the missing link…genetic engineering by interventionists from off-planet.

Love to discuss the increasing acceptance and further evidence now emerging which favors this explanation of our current physical incarnation.

Wayne

December 23, 2008 at 9:30 pm
(30) Brent says:

Isn’t it interesting that Zecharia Sitchin is able to posit all these theories across a wide range of academic disciplines with merely a degree in Economic History, a background as a journalist, and a smattering of ancient semitic languages while those who have devoted themselves for years to these subjects have found no basis for his claims? And as to the latter, his translations have proven ridiculously inaccurate. http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/sitchinerrors.htm

December 24, 2008 at 4:33 am
(31) Zack says:

So, briefly, our physical vessel was a product of genetic engineering by an advanced extraterrestrial race using an evolved hominid, which originally was a creation of our ultimate Divine Creator. — Wayne Wohler December 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Erich von Däniken should sue Zecharia Sitchin for infringement of bulls**.

December 24, 2008 at 4:45 am
(32) Zack says:

The real problem is that Darwin’s theory never was meant to apply to man although he “assumed” that man evolved similarly as in his theory for other animals. — Wayne Wohler says on September 1, 2008 at 5:42 am

You do realize that the second half of your sentence contradicts the first half, right?

Remarkably, both halves of your sentence still manage to be wrong:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Descent_of_Man

December 24, 2008 at 5:10 am
(33) Zack says:

The best comment I can make to you as a former science teacher comes from Dr. Thomas Dwight of Harvard. He states, “We have now the remarkable spectacle that just when many scientific men are agreed that there is no part of the Darwinian system that is of any good influence, and that, as a whole, the theory is not only unproven, but impossible, the ignorant, half-educated masses have acquired the idea that it is to be accepted as scientific fact.” — R.J. Anderson July 3, 2008 at 11:34 am

The telling point about this quote is what it doesn’t contain: namely, any kind of statement that evolution should not be accepted as a scientific fact.

At the end of the 19th century, Darwin’s stock among scientists was at the lowest it would ever be, because no one had been able to identify a means by which organisms could confer advantageous mutations to offspring.

It wasn’t evolution that was out of favor — it was natural selection specifically. Ironically, a contemporary of Darwin had described genetic inheritance, but during his lifetime Darwin never knew of the work of Gregor Mendel.

When Mendel’s work resurfaced early 20th century, scientists realized that this was the mechanism that Darwin’s theory had lacked, resulting in what Julian Huxley called the “New Synthesis.”

April 22, 2009 at 10:06 am
(34) JayD says:

This logic does not get rid of the idea of a missing link, now it requires more links. Gradualism is also probably wrong since we know that species tend to not change at all for long periods of time. The biggest problem is that because of how fossils come to be, there will always be relatively few of them. Thus we will only have a very small percentage of the fossils, and those that we have are seriously decomposed. If you want to say that everything originated from one single-celled organism and are only able to demonstrate this with a small fraction of life, then you will have doubters. Especially if it is against the religious belief of people. In science, evolution makes the largest claims of all theories, with the least verifiable support. The idea that Lucy was the missing link was based off of the inclination of the femur to the hip bone on a decayed, degraded set of fossils.

The scientists are doing the best they can with the information they have, but it is incomplete information and they should not state their claims as facts.

Instead we should say that it may not be the best explanation of life, but it is the only one that does not need the supernatural and thus the best scientific explanation we have and leave it at that. Thinking people should change their religious views and not be “creationists” because of a theory that is riddled with holes is not only unscientific, but unrealistic.

May 13, 2009 at 7:59 am
(35) Alex says:

darwins wrong. God created the earh

May 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm
(36) Mark @treedoc.com.au says:

Clearly the concept of a missing link is held in high regard by scientists, from Darwin onwards. (Just try a Google search to reveal the number of articles and ‘missing links’).

Unfortunately our knowledge of living organisms has changed. The argument that change is gradual is clearly wrong. Some changes are rapid and enormous even withing a genus. A change in the number of chromosones from 20 to 22 represent an enormous change (10%). In fact every change in the number of chromosones is a big jump and defies the model of gradualism.

These big changes line up more with the concept of punctuated equalibrium but this concept creates problems as a result of genetic inbreeding. Not a problem if the gene pool is perfectly created and degrading but a dilema if you are working on a long chain of successive genetic mutations with a loss of genetic matterial at each new genus in the line. It simply does not explain the genetic diversity but rasther suggests genetic loss

July 9, 2009 at 6:25 pm
(37) Alex says:

Its funny…This whole debate between the evolutionist and the creationist…neither side has soild proof of either or… As I myself am partial to the evolution theroy, but still believe in the good lord I find that those who are one sided (either side) are too narrow-minded to accept the fact that there just will not be a real answer until we die.

But thats besides the point, I think this article makes a good point. People always play off ignorance and make up stories that if you really looked at, are not at all coherent. This happens on both sides of the playing feild, sadly too many dumb people in this world.

July 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm
(38) Austin Cline says:

This whole debate between the evolutionist and the creationist…neither side has soild proof of either or…

Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but there is abundant proof for evolution.

September 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm
(39) Judy says:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as a trade secret of Paleontology. Evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” (Dr. Stephan J Gould, Harvard Paleontologist, “Evolution, Erratic Pace”)

“The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory. Is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation. Both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither up to the present has been capable of proof.”
L. Harrison Matthews FRS – Introduction to Darwin’s Origin of Species – 1971 p.11

September 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm
(40) Austin Cline says:

Why don’t we look at what some of the experts say:

Indeed, let’s take each quote in turn… and I’m sure you can discuss them in depth because you didn’t just copy them from someone else in the expectation that something which looks authoritative must necessarily be authoritative, right? Of course not…

“Unfortunately not a single specimen of an appropriate reptilian ancestor is known prior to the appearance of true reptiles.” Robert L. Carroll: Problems of the Origin of Reptiles Biological Review of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 1969 p.393

1. What is the full context of that quote?

2. How does that position then compare to the consensus today?

“I shall discuss the broad patterns of hominoid evolution, an exercise made enjoyable by the need to integrate diverse kinds of information, and use that as a vehicle to speculate about hominoid origins, an event for which there is no recognized fossil record. Hence, an opportunity to exercise some imagination.” (Dr David Pilbeam is the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and curator of paleontology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Date? Context?

“Feathers are features unique to birds, and there are no known intermediate structures between reptilian scales and feathers.” Feduccia: The Beginning of Birds – Jura Museum, Germany 1985

1. Context?

2. How does this compare to the current consensus?

3. What is Feduccia’s evidence?

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as a trade secret of Paleontology. Evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” (Dr. Stephan J Gould, Harvard Paleontologist, “Evolution, Erratic Pace”)

So, you agree with Gould that there are transitional forms in the fossil record? Great! You’re an evolutionist!

“The fact of evolution is the backbone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory. Is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation. Both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither up to the present has been capable of proof.”
L. Harrison Matthews FRS – Introduction to Darwin’s Origin of Species – 1971 p.11

Would you like to provide the full context of that quote, or should I?

You know, using quotes out of their proper context to make a person appear to be defending a position that is the opposite of what they hold is a form of lying.

July 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm
(41) Bible Believer says:

{MY WORDS ARE IN CAPS}

K. Anonymous says:
Warrior,

‘Austin if you wan’t to be decieved and stake your eternal destiny on missing links which are planted by satan to decieve small minded men like you. Be my guest. The bible is very clear about these things and if you would take the time to read you would know this.’

WELL… LET’S FACE THE FACTS. THE MISSING LINKS ARE STILL, WELL MISSING. AND ACCORDING TO EVOLUTION, THERE SHOULD BE PLENTY OF THEM BECAUSE THE PROCESS TAKES MILLIONS OF YEARS. I THINK THAT IS PROOF ENOUGH THAT EVOLUTION IS FALSE.

As far as I’m aware Austin has read the Bible, which is incidentally a work of fiction which has no bearing on modern science. Have you ever read a single scientific book in your life? I suspect not.

THE BIBLE IS A CREATIONISTS BASE TO HOW WE INTERPRET FACTS THAT ARE AROUND US. JUST LIKE EVOLUTIONIST USE THERE OWN IDEAS AND OPINIONS. THE BIBLE IS MY FOUNDATION TO FIGURING OUT HOW THE WORLD CAME ABOUT. AND FROM WHAT I’VE STUDIED, MAN’S IS NOT PERFECT AND HIS IDEAS ARE FALLIBLE. SO I’D RATHER BELIEVE AN ALLKNOWING GOD WHO WAS THERE WHEN HE CREATED THE EARTH.

‘But you in your atheist arrogence always tell us to “Prove it” when we say the truth.’

If you can’t prove it how do you know its the truth?

WHAT ARE WE EXACTLY PROVING HERE. THAT GOD CREATED THE EARTH, THAT WE DIDN’T COME FROM MONKEYS. I’LL TRY MY BEST TO ANSWER BUT I NEED TO HAVE A TOPIC TO PROVE. :P

‘I hope there is plenty of popcorn in heaven because I can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting back and watching you burn in hell for all eternity. ‘

I DON’T LIKE WHAT YOU SAY HERE. EVERYONE NEEDS THE LORD AND I FEEL BAD FOR THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN BLINDED FROM THE TRUTH. GOD DOES LOVE THEM AND IS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR ASKING FOR THEM TO FOLLOW HIM, BUT THEY AREN’T LISTENING. REVELATION 3:20

You’ve said this quite a few times, what exactly do you think you’re achieving by doing so? Besides, doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that god is supposedly loving yet will send people to hell for eternity just for not believing in what humans have said he wants you too? Even if there is a god maybe he’d rather send hate-filled extremists like you to hell, have you ever thought about that?

GOD DIDN’T WANT US TO GO TO HELL. HE CREATED THE WORLD PERFECT AT FIRST AND GAVE MAN CHOICE. WHEN WE SINNED AND ATE FROM THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL, OUR EYES WERE OPENED AND WE COULD NO LONGER BE WITH A PERFECT GOD. THAT’S WHY HE DIED AND CLEANSED THE SINS OF THOSE WHO TRUST IN HIM SO THAT WE ARE ABLE TO GO TO HEAVEN. JOHN 3:16

I notice once again you don’t even suggest the precense of evidence for anything you say.

WHAT DO YOU WANT EVIDENCE FOR. NARROW THE TOPIC DOWN.

February 4, 2010 at 6:34 am
(42) ibrahem pyramidologie says:

for me it a kind of funny how chritians and atheist are fighting

and both r false religions i’m a muslem thank god

its not so strange that the new generation in west is far away from church .
but the strange is they have run away from a nonsense to another nonsense

from 3 is 1 and 1 is three but they r not the same to monkey crawling reptiles and rats fossil

from worshiping a human (jesus) as a god
to
worshiping a humans (scientists)

is to know god is so difficult

So have they not traveled through the earth and have hearts by which to reason and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breasts.

Have they, the disbelievers not travelled in the land so that they may have hearts with which to comprehend, what befell deniers before them, or ears with which to hear?, the stories of how they were destroyed and their dwelling-places were ruined, and so take heed? Indeed it is not the eyes that turn blind, but it is the hearts that turn blind within the breasts 22-46

And for how many a city did I prolong enjoyment while it was committing wrong. Then I seized it, and to Me is the [final] destination. 22-48

February 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm
(43) Ur mother says:

You know, mister Atheist, if you think God does not exist, stfu and hold the resons for ur own please… You’re garbaging the world with chaos and sh*t. Really, please mister threat, I’m only saving your sole, I just hope it will not be too late…

March 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm
(44) Gray says:

‘I hope there is plenty of popcorn in heaven because I can think of nothing more satisfying than sitting back and watching you burn in hell for all eternity. ‘

Sorry Warrior but I strongly doubt there is popcorn in heaven? It’s horrible stuff… You may have to settle M&Ms…

Us disbelievers get the popping corn, you know, in the fires of hell and that. Of course it’s the salted stuff so we won’t enjoy it anyway…

May 7, 2010 at 8:56 am
(45) David says:

Doesn’t it all come down to the fact that fossils are proven to be more than a few thousand years old and that the tooth fairy is just your mother?

I’m not sure why everyone is giving the Warrior of Christ post a reply, not really worth the effort.

Myself being someone who stormed out of a Religious Education class at the age of 8 have never been one to believe in such nonsense, but I am happy to appreciate and tolerate people to want to believe in something as long as it doesn’t cause death and destruction. The best man at my wedding is going to be a Christian but he knows we evolved from apes. He just appreciates the Christian way of life, and that is the key to living happily – finding how to live your live the fullest.

Persuasion is an art attempted far too often by intolerant bigots in todays world. IF YOU’RE A BIGOT, YOU’RE A GOD DAMN BIGOT! (see what I did there)

July 14, 2010 at 8:53 am
(46) steve says:

Using common sense and assuming there is no God is there anything that is not permissible. In other words if there is no wrong or right why can’t I just shoot you and take what you have? You think that’s wrong? Who are you to tell me what to do? Why would your morality take precedent over mine? What’s wrong with the Bloods and Crips blowing people away. Survival of the fittest isn’t it? Just curious what anyones position is on this.

July 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm
(47) Austin Cline says:

Using common sense and assuming there is no God is there anything that is not permissible.

Sure: all the times we don’t permit.

In other words if there is no wrong or right

Why assume that a god is required for “wrong or right”?

why can’t I just shoot you and take what you have?

If the only thing that is preventing you from this is the belief that there is a god, then you could probably be diagnosed as a sociopath and should probably seek help from a mental health professional.

You think that’s wrong? Who are you to tell me what to do?

The person you are threatening. People don’t survive in a society like the one you are promoting so they have created societies where people aren’t permitted to do that — and those who try are removed from society so they aren’t a threat anymore.

August 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(48) God is not Darwin says:

Evolutionary faith astounds me. Let’s get back to basics. A creation needs a creator. Any other theory is so random, it is shameful for any scientific mind to profess otherwise. The real crux of the debate is firstly, origin of life, and secondly, natural selection. Evolutionary theory is just that. A hypothesis that humans evolved from earlier primates. Nonsense! When are U PEEP HOLEZ ever gonna learn? Peace out!

August 12, 2010 at 5:22 pm
(49) Austin Cline says:

Evolutionary faith astounds me.

What about Plate Tectonics Faith?

Let’s get back to basics. A creation needs a creator.

OK, prove that nature is a “creation.”

The real crux of the debate is firstly, origin of life, and secondly, natural selection.

Oh? Why are they the “crux of the debate”?

Evolutionary theory is just that.

Evolution is also a fact. Do you understand enough science to understand why?

November 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm
(50) Keith says:

“It’s a spectrum in that there are gradual transitions from one species to another”
If there are “gradual transitions from one species to another” then there would have to be fossils showing such change. There’s just no way around this fact no matter how hard the evolutionist’s try. Evolution has been proven to be a false theory over and over and a theory that is impossible to work but evolutionists still go blindly along with the idea while ignoring the facts. Oh well, some day (soon) you’ll finally know the truth.

November 3, 2010 at 5:42 am
(51) Austin Cline says:

If there are “gradual transitions from one species to another” then there would have to be fossils showing such change.

There are.

There’s just no way around this fact no matter how hard the evolutionist’s try. Evolution has been proven to be a false theory over and over and a theory that is impossible to work

Then provide the proof.

November 6, 2010 at 11:49 am
(52) Steve says:

What? You just used different words but are saying the same thing as creationists. “It’s a spectrum in that there are gradual transitions from one species to another, all of whom are certainly linked together…”

How did one animal develop over time into a different animal without leaving evidence of that change? Where are the transitional forms?

November 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm
(53) Austin Cline says:

How did one animal develop over time into a different animal without leaving evidence of that change? Where are the transitional forms?

Define what you mean by “transitional form”.

November 17, 2011 at 4:36 am
(54) Me says:

Just answer the question austine. There should be at least a few of these many “missing link” fossils that should be if it took a million years for us to be evolved in to homo sapiens. Homo sapiens arent even living for a million years and we have a population of 6billion already. Why is the missing hard to find then? because it does NOT exist!

November 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm
(55) michael says:

I would like to point out austin that evolution is not even a scientific fact according to the scientific method. It is a theory and nothing more. I hope you know that even the most simplest proteins(which are some of the most fundamentally important things for life) have an average of 124 amino acids all of which have to be in the exact correct order for the protein to function properly. There are about 17 different kinds of amino acids (maybe 20 but 17 for the sake of argument) they all form a chain. When we do the math all together the chances for making a single of the simplest of proteins is 1 in 10 to the 152 power. That means the 152 zeros after the ten. Sounds a little kinda bad doesn’t it?

November 8, 2010 at 3:20 pm
(56) Austin Cline says:

I would like to point out austin that evolution is not even a scientific fact according to the scientific method. It is a theory and nothing more.

Do you comprehend the difference between “fact” and “theory” in science? It doesn’t look like you do, which seriously undermines any credibility you might have had.

When we do the math all together the chances for making a single of the simplest of proteins is 1 in 10 to the 152 power. That means the 152 zeros after the ten. Sounds a little kinda bad doesn’t it?

No, why should it?

November 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm
(57) Brent says:

Michael,

Any argument against an event based on probability by its nature explicitly makes the claim that what may be considered improbable still lies in the realm of the possible. Every event is 100 percent statistically probable–it’s in the prediction that we find the game of dice.

November 17, 2010 at 11:12 am
(58) Todd says:

The odds of winning the lottery are pretty bad, yet someone wins. What are the odds of a coin flips showing 4 heads in a row if you flip the coin a million times?

What are the odds of two magnets, placed in a bag, and shaking them… that the two magnets will connect? Very high. Atoms do the same thing. They connect to form molecules, molecules can connect to form more complex things like proteins.

There are billions of stars in our galaxy and billions of galaxies. If there’s a .0000000001% chance of life arising around any given star, the universe is teeming with life.

Odds don’t enter into it. Odds only exist in our heads as a means to grasp the unknown. The roll of a die isn’t random, there’s no element of change in its outcome. The result is determined by the mass of the die, the friction of the table, the original orientation of the die, the height of the roll and so on. Just because we don’t know what the roll will be, doesn’t make it “random”, it just means it is beyond our ability to predict.

November 28, 2010 at 5:17 pm
(59) bryan says:

Can i just say that the only “missing links” i have ever heard of have ended up on t.v because someone found like a pig tooth and it was misused to create an entire skeleton or something of that nature. Honestly if you smart scientistical dudes were satisfied with the “proof” you have then why would you pull a stupid move like that?

November 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm
(60) Austin Cline says:

Can i just say that the only “missing links” i have ever heard of have ended up on t.v because someone found like a pig tooth and it was misused to create an entire skeleton or something of that nature.

Maybe you should get your science from someplace other than popular TV programs?

Honestly if you smart scientistical dudes were satisfied with the “proof” you have then why would you pull a stupid move like that?

We don’t. You need to get your science from more reputable, reliable sources.

February 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm
(61) Elena says:

I do see misspelling and supposed grammatical discrepancy from commentators on both opposing sides of this discussion, and I can even be prone to such myself. So I will try to avoid first basing my judgment for or against someone’s argument on the basis of grammar – although I appreciate an attempt to use grammar gracefully, I would first base my judgement on content.
There is as yet no absolute incontrovertible scientific proof for or against the theory that contemporary man as we see him today was also once an ape – not meaning at all to use the word “ape” as a derogatory term.
The theory remains a theory, and the search for proof, in order to declare the theory a fact, goes on.
It IS a valid scientific search, I do think.
But it seems best to remain open minded to reasonable discussions, for or against, the theory that man as we see him today was once also an ape.
As there is no incontrovertible religious or scientific proof, one way or the other, there is no need for backbiting and insult, but obviously a need for open minded listening and discussion.

March 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm
(62) Austin Cline says:

There is as yet no absolute incontrovertible scientific proof for or against the theory that contemporary man as we see him today was also once an ape

Yes, there is.

The theory remains a theory, and the search for proof, in order to declare the theory a fact, goes on.

You are misusing and misunderstanding both “theory” and “fact” here. Evolution the theory is the explanation for how and why evolution the fact occurs – and that evolution occurs is a fact. That our species has evolved from other species is also a fact.

But it seems best to remain open minded to reasonable discussions, for or against, the theory that man as we see him today was once also an ape.

That’s not a theory, it’s a fact.

Evolutionary theory is the explanation for how and why our species evolved from apes.

As there is no incontrovertible religious or scientific proof, one way or the other, there is no need for backbiting and insult, but obviously a need for open minded listening and discussion.

So… since you are wrong and it is fact that humans evolved from other species, does this means it’s OK to insult?

May 4, 2011 at 5:23 pm
(63) Josep says:

Elena:
“There is as yet no absolute incontrovertible scientific proof for or against the theory that contemporary man as we see him today was also once an ape”

Austin Cline:
“Yes, there is.”

Me:
No, there isn’t. lol

Elena:
“The theory remains a theory, and the search for proof, in order to declare the theory a fact, goes on”

Austin Cline:
No, it doesn’t.

Me:
Yes, it does.

Elena:
“But it seems best to remain open minded to reasonable discussions, for or against, the theory that man as we see him today was once also an ape.”

Austin Cline:
” That’s not a theory, it’s a fact.

Evolutionary theory is the explanation for how and why our species evolved from apes.”

Me:
That’s not a fact, it’s a theory.
Evolutionary theory is the explanation for the theory that man evolved from apes.

Elena:
“As there is no incontrovertible religious or scientific proof, one way or the other, there is no need for backbiting and insult, but obviously a need for open minded listening and discussion.”

Austin Cline:
“So… since you are wrong and it is fact that humans evolved from other species, does this means it’s OK to insult?”

Me:
No, your wrong since it is a theory that humans evolved from other spicies, so it is okay to insult you!!

May 4, 2011 at 5:30 pm
(64) Josep says:

Austine Cline if Elena says to be a little bit openminded and you say f that. Why do you think people should be open minded with you theories?

March 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm
(65) Bob says:

“The theory remains a theory, and the search for proof, in order to declare the theory a fact, goes on.”

-Elena

Nail on the head.

The word ‘fact’ is so oft misused and misunderstood, it hurts my brain.

People like Austin Cline as well as the rednecks who have posted further this problem.

March 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm
(66) Austin Cline says:

People like Austin Cline as well as the rednecks who have posted further this problem.

If you can identify any error in what I have written, I challenge you to do so.

Your quote from Elena is incorrect.. Evolution is both a fact and a theory because “evolution” can refer to two different things: the fact of evolution occurring and the theory of how/why it proceeds.

Maybe your head would stop hurting if you understood this simple point?

November 17, 2011 at 4:48 am
(67) hallo says:

the fact of evolution occurring and the theory of how/why it proceeds. – if the how and why is a theory, how can it be a fact?

March 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm
(68) PNUT says:

Religion is nothing less than intellectual dishonesty and stupidity . I have no respect for anyone who preoesses belief in supernatural nonsense. Faith is not a virtue, it’s ignorance.

March 17, 2011 at 6:33 am
(69) Vee says:

This is old news already, I’m surprised that nobody’s mentioned A. Sediba. Scientists argue about the significance like scientists do but I’ve seen these bones and to me, they fit in with my understanding of evolution and how it works.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/100408-fossils-australopithecus-sediba-missing-link-new-species-human/

December 13, 2012 at 9:07 am
(70) gandlwiest@gmail.com says:

Interesting article. I have never heard this take on evolution and the missing links. I recently re-read Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” and he actually dedicates a chapter to the problems of evolution. Chief among them is the absence of intermediary species, ie-”missing links”. In non-scientific language(I am not a scientist) it would seem that if the link between chimpanzee’s and modern man are the various links in between, then there should be more of the intermediary species running around today then the primitive species. Darwin also notes the problem that when two seemingly related species are mated, the offspring are sterile or are not able to survive at all. Granted, he wrote several hundred years ago, but I think he captured the problem adequately. You might want to fill in the gaps a little better in why you don’t think the concept of “missing links” or intermediary species are still an issue. Perhaps you already have somewhere else.
Evolution still does not explain initial causes. What energy transfer began the first life form has never fully been sorted out from a Darwinian perspective. People of faith tend to attribute this to a higher intelligence, which we call God. I am interested in the genetic evidence for evolution but I am still not convinced. From a very logical perspective, there ought to be more intermediary species running around today rather then the primitive.

December 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm
(71) Austin Cline says:

In non-scientific language(I am not a scientist) it would seem that if the link between chimpanzee’s and modern man are the various links in between, then there should be more of the intermediary species running around today then the primitive species.

Why?

From a very logical perspective, there ought to be more intermediary species running around today rather then the primitive.

Why?

December 15, 2012 at 7:55 am
(72) Greg Wiest says:

Answer to Austin’s why question: Why should there be more intermediary species then primitive? Darwin’s theory of Natural selection. More advanced species are better able to compete for food, living space ect. Cromagnon man should be better able to compete then Chimpanzees and thus there should be more of them(cromagnon) still around. With natural selection, the assumption is that species living today are mostly at the highest level of evolutionary selection given the present circumstances, but continually in the process of natural selection.

Darwin’s explanation is geographical separation. IE-Evolution of human being took place on one continent but not on others. Also he says that we do not have the complete fossil record. I would still say, if there are chimpanzee’s around today then there ought to be a few “mission links” as well. There is no reason for there not to be.

PS-I am curious, what were Austin’s area of study in higher education? i did not see this on your profile.

December 25, 2012 at 10:09 pm
(73) Brent S says:

Recent statistics have placed the number of Cro Magnons and variants of its subspecies currently at 6 billion.

August 12, 2013 at 12:16 am
(74) Leonie says:

Heya are using WordPress for your site platform?

I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set
up my own. Do you need any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
Any help would be greatly appreciated!

September 21, 2013 at 10:24 pm
(75) Gordon McElvany says:

Having had the opportunity to listen to atheist comment on the proof of evolution it seems that they all, without exception, state that some FAITH is involved in their conclussions. And all along I thought FAITH was a dirty word in those circles.

November 2, 2013 at 4:41 am
(76) Matt says:

It troubles me to see these arguments posted on here. Nothing but stones thrown in each other’s directions. As Christians, our only motives should be to spread the love of Christ, atleast thats my only motive to hope that I could influence just one person to turn to Christ. Being a Christian is not about scaring someone out of hell but offering them the love of Christ. For a naturalist, I don’t understand your motives, other than what seem to be rooted in bitterness. I would like to say you can see the difference and proof in the lives of Christ’s followers, but when you speak of watching someone burn as if watching a comedy movie I myself fail to see the difference. The proof can not be seen without being granted through Christ, just as I wouldn’t try to dismiss newtons laws through my bible, I don’t see it fit to dismiss a loving God through a science book. They exist in two seperate planes, the artist is not bound by the painting, but the painting by the artist. Just as God is not subject to exist under physical laws, but physical laws exist under God. I pray that you can read this with clarity and peace and not dispute with anger and bitterness I have no drive to prove you wrong nor to argue any point. I simply would like to share the love that has been shared with me.

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