Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Pastor John Leatherman of the curiously-named Dry Run Independent Baptist Church of Duncansville, a borough of Altoona. We’ll give you a some excerpts from the rev’s letter, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!
In a recent letter to the editor, it was claimed that the theory of evolution cannot be denied. [Gasp!] A big problem for evolution is that it has never been observed, which is quite devastating since observations are vital for science. No one has ever witnessed one kind of animal in the process of changing into a totally different kind.
The rev is right! No one has ever seen an alligator turn into an aardvark! He says:
Their answer for this is that evolution happens so slowly that no one can see it happening. Still, some sort of active transitioning should be visible today. But not only that, there should be an abundance of evidence for this change in the fossil record.
Yeah, what about the fossil record? The rev tells us:
Darwin couldn’t find the transitions in his day but suggested that they would soon be found throughout the fossil record to vindicate his theory. Unfortunately, the missing link is still missing.
He’s found evolution’s weak spot, and he hammers away at it:
If evolution were true, there would be billions of fossilized, transitional intermediate forms of one kind of animal changing into another. Darwin’s “innumerable” transitions should have filled every rock layer.
So where are they? Let’s read on:
Darwin openly admitted these transitions were not there and called this the “most obvious and serious objection” (“Origin of the Species”). Darwin’s answer to this problem was the “extreme imperfection of the geological record,” i.e., scientists had not dug into the dirt enough. If they kept digging, he believed they would eventually find these missing links.
That’s not at all what Darwin said in Origin of the Species, Chapter 10: On the Imperfection of the Geological Record. The Sixth Edition is online here, so you’ll have to scroll down a lot to find it. Darwin’s chapter ends with this:
For my part, following out Lyell’s metaphor, I look at the geological record as a history of the world imperfectly kept and written in a changing dialect. Of this history we possess the last volume alone, relating only to two or three countries. Of this volume, only here and there a short chapter has been preserved, and of each page, only here and there a few lines. Each word of the slowly-changing language, more or less different in the successive chapters, may represent the forms of life, which are entombed in our consecutive formations, and which falsely appear to have been abruptly introduced. On this view the difficulties above discussed are greatly diminished or even disappear.
The rev continues:
About 150 years have passed. There are about 100 million fossils in museums around the world. And there are fewer examples of evolutionary transitions than in Darwin’s day. [Huh?] And Darwin didn’t have any.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! If every animal that ever lived were fossilized, and if the geological record remained undisturbed throughout time, then everywhere we dig — including your back yard — we should find a vast layer of fossils providing a perfect record of gradual transitions. It should be fossils all the way down! So where are they?
Well, we know what bears do in the woods, but they also die there. Where are the uncountable millions of bear fossils? Similarly, why don’t we find hundreds of millions of buffalo fossils in the American West? They don’t exist either. Why?
It’s not that complicated. Fossilization is rare. Almost all dead animals are quickly devoured by scavengers, and whatever remains will be consumed by worms and then bacteria To be preserved, an animal needs to conveniently die in a bog, or a glacier, or maybe an avalanche. Such events are rare. And even if it were frequent, the geology must remain stable for millennia — but this doesn’t happen either.
At the end of his letter, the rev switches to a young-Earth argument, which he probably found at a creationist website like ICR — see 30 Years Later, the Lessons from Mount St. Helens . He says:
Evolution cannot correctly date the earth. [Hee hee!] In the early 1980s, a volcano erupted on Mount St. Helens. The lava dome expanded and finally cooled and solidified into rock in 1986 (starting the radiometric dating “clock”). But when these rocks were dated early in the year of 2000, they were dated as high as 2.8 million years old. The theory of evolution certainly can be denied.
That old clunker is discussed in the TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims here.
So there you are, dear reader. Yet another preacher is convinced that the Earth is young and evolution never happened. He’s happy, we assume his flock are happy, and we’re happy too because we found his letter. Everybody wins!
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