by Bill Nugent
With sadness I reflect on the death of Harvard professor and prolific author, Dr. Stephen J. Gould. Dr. Gould was a down to earth, affable man who wrote many books on the subject of evolution. He attempted to bring evolution to the masses in simplistic, even entertaining terms. His work is reminiscent of that of Thomas Huxley (1825-1895). Huxley was called Darwin’s bulldog for his aggressive spreading of the Darwinian faith.
Why would a creationist as myself mourn the death of a man like Dr. Gould? I guess I regard death as a tragedy for any person and especially for a person who most likely did not know God. I prefer not to speculate as to where the soul of Dr. Gould presently resides.
Dr. Gould popularized a variation of evolution called “Punctuated Equilibrium.” Punctuated Equilibrium is the idea that evolution was not a gradual change in animals (as Darwin postulated) but that evolution proceeded in periods of radical change in animals followed by periods of stability. Gould’s frank admission that the fossil record lacks transitional forms caused him to reject gradualism. His attacks on Darwinian evolution and his claims that the fossil record lacks transitional forms were so articulate that creationists frequently quote him.
Gould’s theory claimed that an animal species evolved gradually and then some sort of cataclysm occurred that decimated the population leaving only a small subset of animals that possessed unique features. The animals with the unique features then would expand to form a new population with a new gene pool. It was gradual change in DNA followed by a disaster that kills off a big part of the gene pool of the species. However, we must remember that those unique features had to have been added by beneficial mutations to DNA over time. Geneticists tell us two major things about mutations: 1) beneficial mutations are a small minority of mutations and 2) mutations don’t add new properly sequenced base pairs to the DNA of the gene pool. More on that later.
Gould’s theory was actually an attempt to offer a substitute for U Cal Berkeley professor Richard Goldschmidt’s 1940’s era “Hopeful Monster” theory. Goldschmidt also tried to account for the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. To illustrate the Hopeful Monster theory consider the hypothetical example of a lizard that lays an egg and out hatches a bird. In other words a lizard changes into a bird in one generation. The question arises: “How would the bird find a mate to produce offspring?” There were no other birds on earth at the time that this ”hopeful monster bird” supposedly happened. Hopeful Monster theory was roundly criticized and largely rejected by evolutionists at the time.
The science of genetics was not kind to Goldschmidt’s theory. A radical change in an animal to cause a ‘leap’ in evolution would require changes in thousands of chemical base pairs in the DNA. Geneticists tell us that even one base pair out of place can be disadvantageous or even fatal. Beneficial mutations are extremely rare. The probability that a large radical beneficial change in DNA could take place randomly in one big step is so absurdly remote as to be unrealistically improbable.
The Hopeful Monster theory relied on mega doses of hope. It’s hopeful indeed to expect a random large, radical mutation in DNA to be nonfatal. How much more hopeful to believe that a large, radical mutation could be beneficial. Gould’s theory scaled back the radical leap required by Hopeful Monster, but still relied on genetic mutations as the mechanism for change in DNA. Both theories can’t surmount the fact that genetic mutations never add new useful genetic information to the DNA of organisms. Mutations simply scramble, garble, delete, duplicate or transfer pre-existing base pairs in the DNA, in the gene pools of all species.
Mutational addition of new, properly sequenced base pairs giving useful information is simply not observed in nature or the lab. Even mutational viral insertion is simply a transfer of pre-existing base pairs from one DNA strand to another. It’s a transfer of genetic information from the virus to the host organism. It’s not new information. Mutations can’t explain the origin of the pre-existing base pairs in the DNA of viruses, bacteria or any other organism. In fact, DNA is observed to be breaking down from generation to generation because of mutations. This is called genetic entropy.
There are more than three thousand human diseases caused by genetic mutations. There are only a few dozen advantageous conditions that are the result of beneficial mutations. Rarely does the mutational scrambling of DNA offer any benefit to a human being.
Since genetic mutations don’t add new base pairs to DNA that would contain new useful information, evolution has no means by which to build new biological structures in any life form. Mutations can’t put wings on a mouse to produce a bat. Evolution, whether it be Darwinism, Hopeful Monster or Gould’s Punctuated Equilibrium, has no mechanism to change living things in an uphill evolutionary direction. I can cite many scientists who concur with my assertion.
Genetics alone demolishes evolution before we even discuss the lack of evidence for evolution in the fossil record. Scientists and all people must admit that only God could create the marvelous complexity of DNA and the complexity of thousands of other biochemicals. .
Dr. Gould himself even criticized his own theory in addition to his criticism of traditional Darwinism. Apparently there were not enough transitional forms in the fossil record even to support Punctuated Equilibrium. Here is a quote from Dr. Gould: “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The 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 the fossils.” from “Evolution’s Erratic Pace”, Natural History, vol. 86 (May 1977), p. 14.
Gould and his colleague Niles Eldridge shook up the Darwinian establishment for decades by relentlessly pointing out the lack of transitional forms. The few transitional forms offered by evolutionary paleontologists are sparse, incomplete and require a lot of storytelling and imagination. Evolution is collapsing on all fronts and science is the wrecking ball. Evolution is in danger of extinction and I do not mourn its passing.
Gould’s most important contribution was his in-house dissent against Darwinism. Regrettably, there was no hint of an outside-the-box dissent that would have led him to the Savior.
Dr. Gould was a clever writer who’s nuanced argumentation in support of atheistic evolution undermined the faith of his readers. The Bible says “‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways’” (Ezekiel 33:11 NASB).
Stephen Gould died of cancer before reaching three score and ten years. I can only hope that in his final lucid moments Gould reflected on the errors of atheistic materialism and turned to Christ to receive forgiveness of sins.
Steps to salvation:
Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
Prayer to receive salvation:
“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:
“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!