P.A. WAHID

DARWINISM IS the core idea of modern evolutionary theory variously called neo-Darwinism or modern synthesis. However, even after 150 years of its publication, the theory remains controversial in many ways. In spite of that, the scientific and popular media propagate it as an accepted scientific theory. When a respectable daily like The Hindu writes an editorial in favour of Darwinism (May 3), it can ring a bell with many readers. Darwinism states that species evolved through gradual changes in the old. Evolutionists interpret the results of their studies to suit this assumption. In spite of the fact that evolutionists have the required molecular tools to alter the genetic make-up of an organism (the genome), they have not been able to change a simple organism like fungus into an equally simple organism like bacterium. But they continue to blindly support the idea of evolution through gradual change. Whoever opposes Darwinism is silenced.

Blind support

When Pierre P. Grasse, the most distinguished of French zoologists, editor of the 28 volumes of Traite de Zoologie, and ex-president of the Academie des Sciences, made a frontal attack on all kinds of Darwinism in his book L'Evolution du Vivant, Darwinists called him wrong. Grasse has not gone wrong due to ignorance but as a well-known neo-Darwinist Dobzhansky said, "the most distinguished of French zoologists did not understand the rules of scientific reasoning!" This remark about a card-carrying biologist speaks volumes about Darwinists' blind support to the theory. The current excitement in evolutionary biology is over the discovery of a fish species Tiktaalik roseae published in the April 6 issue of the journal Nature. It was a predator with sharp teeth, a crocodile-like head and a 4 to 9 feet long flattened body that is thought to have lived in shallow streams about 375 million years ago. The fossils, scientists argue, show how the fish's pectoral fins evolved into the limbs of tetrapods, or four-limbed animals. Evolutionists are hailing this newfound species as the "missing link" between the aquatic and terrestrial organisms. What Darwin proposed as the transitional forms were not fully developed species but organisms with structures in various stages of development. Darwin himself had admitted that the transitional forms predicted by his theory were not present in the fossil record. "Lastly, looking not to any one time, but to all time, if my theory be true, numberless intermediate varieties, linking most closely all the species of the same group together, must assuredly have existed... Consequently evidence of their former existence could be found only amongst fossil remains... Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record... " Darwin's declaration of the incompleteness of the fossil record created a very sticky situation in evolutionary biology; one group of evolutionists started trying to establish the incompleteness of the fossil record, and the other group started considering the fossil species as transitional forms ignoring Darwin's view. The discovery of Tiktaalik fish fossil as the missing link between aquatic and terrestrial forms of life belongs to the latter category. The claim would have stirred Darwin in his grave, because to him it is not a missing link. In 1972 Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould questioned the idea of gradualism by proposing a different model called `punctuated equilibrium' (PE) based on fossil record. It stated that there was sudden appearance of new species in the fossil record punctuated by long periods of species stability. The PE does not support gradualism which is the backbone of Darwin's theory. Naturally, the gradualists attacked the PE. As Motoo Kimura who proposed the neutral theory against Darwinism remarked: "Looking back, I think that it is a curious human nature that if a certain doctrine is constantly being spoken of favourably by the majority endorsed by top authorities in their books and taught in classes, then a belief is gradually built up in one's mind, eventually becoming the guiding principle and the basis of value judgment." That sums up what Darwin's theory is.

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