As Darwinian evolution faces more and more problems with the evidence, those who defend it become more and more dogmatic.
Writing recently in Slate Magazine in an article titled “Defending Darwin,” University of Kentucky biology professor James Krupa declares that “the mission of advancing evolution education” is “the most important aspect of my job,” and thus he emphatically teaches that “evolution is a fact and that evolutionary theories explain biological patterns and mechanisms.”
However, Dr. Krupa has a problem.
“I teach human evolution,” he writes, but “[t]here are some students I’ll never reach.”
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Despite presenting them with what he calls “convincing and overwhelming evidence” and having “shared images of many transitional forms during the semester” regarding human evolution, a troubling number of students will never join the evolutionary camp. No matter how winsome and persuasive Dr. Krupa tries to be, many of his students still doubt Darwin. He continues:
After a semester filled with evidence of evolution, one might expect that every last student would understand it and accept it as fact. Sadly, this is not the case. There are those who remain convinced that evolution is a threat to their religious beliefs. Knowing this, I feel an obligation to give my “social resistance to evolution” lecture as the final topic.
Even after his final lecture where he “lays down the history” of what he labels “the anti-science and anti-evolution movements,” and then details “the arguments made by those opposing evolution, and why these arguments are wrong,” students remain unconvinced. Tragically, he reports, some even walk out of his class in disgust.
Dr. Krupa seems to be under the misapprehension that student-skepticism of Darwinian evolution is strictly religiously based, and that his failures in swaying students to become evolutionists have nothing to do with problems with the evidence or his doctrinaire tone. Perhaps he could reach more students if he was less dogmatic, and more forthright about the scientific weaknesses in evolutionary biology.
For example, consider human evolution, the focus of Dr. Krupa’s class. Recently the prestigious scientific publisher Springer released a 2015 book titled "Macroevolution: Explanation, Interpretation and Evidence." One chapter, “Macroevolution in and around the hominin clade,” co-written by respected George Washington University paleoanthropologist Bernard Wood and post-doc Mark Grabowski, reviews the fossil evidence for human evolution. (
(Hominins are those species descended from our most recent supposed common ancestor with chimps, but sitting on the branch that includes humans.)
This image provided by William Kimbel shows different views of the LD 350-1 mandible. The scale bars indicate 1 cm. The jawbone fragment is the oldest known fossil from an evolutionary tree branch that eventually led to modern humans, scientists reported on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. At about 2.8 million years old, the partial jawbone pushes back the fossil record by at least 400,000 years for our branch, which scientists call Homo. (AP/William Kimbel)
While lamenting “[t]he dearth of unambiguous evidence for ancestor-descendant lineages” they admit that the evolutionary origin of most hominin species is unknown:
[T]he evolutionary sequence for the majority of hominin lineages is unknown. Most hominin taxa, particularly early hominins, have no obvious ancestors, and in most cases ancestor-descendant sequences (fossil time series) cannot be reliably constructed...
After reviewing many fossil species, they observe: “At one time, or another, every early hominin discussed above has been presented as ‘the’ ancestor of later hominins, but in our opinion, only two pairs … are plausible examples of ancestor-descendant relationships.” Both examples say little about human evolution.
One pair is Australopithecus anamensis and its supposed descendant Australopithecus afarensis—even though Au. anamensis is only known from a few jaw scraps and an otherwise highly fragmented skeleton, and is an entirely unimpressive “transitional form.” The other possible “ancestor-descendant” pair pertains to two members of the genus Paranthropus, a gorilla-like offshoot whose lineage is thought to have gone extinct and is far removed from human origins.
In other words, according to two leading experts in a recent authoritative technical review, evolutionary relationships between hominins are in great doubt, and it’s impossible to construct a credible lineage of ancestors and descendants leading from ape-like creatures to our own species Homo sapiens.
No wonder the great evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr stated:
The earliest fossils of Homo, Homo rudolfensis and Homo erectus, are separated from Australopithecus by a large, unbridged gap. How can we explain this seeming saltation? Not having any fossils that can serve as missing links, we have to fall back on the time-honored method of historical science, the construction of a historical narrative.
Wood and Grabowski are both fully committed to an evolutionary paradigm, but they close their chapter with a striking admission. Although “it is difficult to believe,” they note, “the last time a review looked at the whole of what we now call the hominin fossil record” was in 1964 in a book by the British primatologist Wilfrid Le Gros Clark. Since that time, they explain that paleoanthropologists have enjoyed “an order of magnitude increase in the [amount of] fossil evidence,” but at the same time have seen “the absence of equivalent progress in how we analyze the fossil record.”
If their meaning isn’t clear, they’re discussing our continued inability to determine how different species are related and thereby “improve our understanding of macroevolution within the hominin clade.”
Essentially, they’re admitting that 50 years ago we had few hominin fossils and knew little about how species were related and whether any were directly ancestral to humans. Today we have more bones, but we still have little idea of how most hominin species—including humans—evolved. As Harvard paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman stated in a different Slate article in 2010, “The origins of the genus Homo remain as murky as ever.”
Dr. Krupa may be so impassioned to persuade his students to accept evolution that he may or may not ever admit that such fossil problems exist. But his goal to “reach” students is commendable—and it is entirely attainable.
It’s attainable, that is, if Dr. Krupa changes his method from indoctrinating students in the pro-Darwin-only view to teaching them to objectively study the scientific strengths and weaknesses of human evolution, and to critically analyze the evidence.
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