Letter: Evolution, science and fantasy

The April 18 Community Views article “Evolution fails the test” demonstrates a vast lack of knowledge and understanding of evolution, genetics, ecology and geology.

Evolution is the change in the genetic makeup of a species (not an individual) over time in response to environmental pressure or opportunity. Those individuals that are better adapted to the environment produce more offspring, thus passing their “good” genes on to the next generation. This process is repeated each generation and better adapts that species to its surroundings. If the individual’s genetic makeup does not adapt it to its environment, it will produce fewer offspring and, over time, that lineage will die out.

Because of this we do not “observe billions of life forms in all different stages of change … into completely different life forms.” Evolution takes time, as evidenced by the fossils left over the last 50 million years by the ancestors of the modern horse. The number of fossils depends on geological conditions and generally involves multiple intermediate forms. Depending on the geographical range of the organism under discussion, many separate species may evolve from a common ancestor, as demonstrated by rodents. There are several species of rats in North America, several in Africa, several in Eurasia, etc., each from a common ancestor.

Although the earth is 4.5 billion years old (not the 13 billion as stated in the anti-evolution article) this is ample time for evolution to occur. The rate of evolution seen is dependent on the organism examined and the environment in which it lives. Horseshoe crabs, which live in relative stability on the U.S. East Coast, show almost the same body pattern as fossil forms that are over 190 million years old, while the cichlid fishes of Lake Turkana in east central Africa that live in a fluctuating environment have evolved into a number of new species over only the last 50,000 years.

The April 18 article also fails the test of geology. The author questions why there are fossils on mountain tops. Rock formations on the earths’ surface were deposited over a long geological time, usually at or below sea level, and are subjected to various geological processes. Rock layers at the top of many mountains were formed at the bottom of oceans and then elevated as mountains developed due to normal tectonic forces. What is seen at the top of a mountain was deposited when that rock layer was formed. \

Another problem with the article’s discussion of geology and anthropology is the statement that “human artifacts (are found) in every rock strata, clear down to the supposed Pre-Cambrian” (around 500 million years ago). This demonstrates a total ignorance regarding widely accepted anthropological data. The first clearly human artifacts were stone tools found in the rift Valley of East Africa dating to around 2.5 million years ago during the Pliocene Age.

Oh, and do not worry about the evolutionary and geological time lines. They are based on well documented changes in the isotopes (forms of atoms) of some elements at a constant rate over time (work done in physics labs with no thought of evolution).

The age of the earth noted by new earth creationists is 4,400 B.C. (not 4,400 years ago) and was developed by Irish Bishop James Usher in the 17th century by adding all the ages of the biblical patriarchs together.

This timeline is not indicated in the Bible.