note: In June 1990 The John Ankerberg Show taped a series of
interviews with men from several branches of the sciences regarding
the evidence for creation. For technical reasons we were unable to air
these interview. Nevertheless, we have decided to release portions of
these interviews in a series of articles so you could read the
arguments that were being made at that timeómore than a decade ago.
effort has been made to quote the gentlemen correctly. We have
attempted to find the correct spelling of the scientific terms used.
However, the reader should keep in mind that this is a transcription
of oral interviews. Mistakes in spelling and in the technical language
should be laid at the feet of the editor.]
Ankerberg: Guys, weíll really get into this
later, but comment, if you will on the fossil record. Do we have an
accurate record, and does it support or oppose the evolutionary model?
Wise: Not only do we have evidence in the
fossil record that major groups of organisms come into existence very
rapidly, but we also see, itís also possible that if you looked at the
whole fossil record, you piled up all the rocks and looked at what you
see, youíd find a major group coming in here and another one here, and
another one here, and another one here, and another one here. And
thatís not what we see.
for an evolutionary model, that is, we see a whole bunch of the major
groups coming in all in one shot. The classic example is one that has
already been brought upóthe Cambrian explosion. Here we have, the
major phyla of animals all coming into existence during a rather short
period of time. Some are even talking now about shrinking several of
the units together and making somewhere on the order of fifteen to
twenty major phyla, flying into the record in a very short period of
time, evolutionary time, 30 million years, something like that, or
less. Major groups, and a large number of them coming in in a very
short period of time.
have, if you like, at the classes of echinoderms. Living echinoderms
include starfish, brittle stars, sea cucumbers, and things like that,
well those are the living echinoderms, but there are many, many more
fossil classes or major groups of echinoderms than there are living
groups of echinoderms. And they all shoot here in the Ordovician
period in the upper part of the Cambrian.
So instead of going from a few to many, you go from many to few.
Thatís right. Exactly. Something that Stephen J. Gould has called
decimation. You start out, and this occurs not just in the
echinoderms, but also from Steve Gouldís book on the Burgess shale, it
also occurs in the arthropods. Diagrams show a number of arthropod
classes or major groups of arthropods that come into the middle
Cambrian period, or at least we see them here for the first time,
without any ancestors, simultaneously.
So not only
do we lack ancestors, not only do they come in with incredible
complexity, and some of these creatures are very complex, beautiful
creatures if you like arthropods, some people donít, I find them
fascinating, but we have a variety of very complex creatures coming
into existence all in a very short period, or apparently if we are to
read the fossil record literally.
So again, it
emphasizes our point that weíve already made, not only do we have a
lack of evidence for evolution here of the major groups, but we have
organisms coming in, very complex organisms coming in very rapidly
without any ancestral forms. It seems to be a very powerful case for a
polyphyletic, multiple origin of major groups of organisms. And they
are so complex, so beautiful, if youíre a paleontologist and like that
sort of things, that you conclude they must have been formed by
design, otherwise thereís no known natural, series of natural causes
without intelligence that could produce this incredible complexity.
Menton: Thereís one area where evolutionists
and creationists do agree, I think there are several, but there is one
important one we ought to bring up now and thatís this matter of
extinction. Here we have no argument. Both sides agree that the vast
majority of those organisms that have ever existed on earth are no
longer with us and have become extinct.
No. I donít agree. Thatís incorrect.
Is that right?
The fossil record has 250,000 species, more or less, in its record,
What percentage do you think are extinct?
What percentage? I believe a very small percentage. We have over a
million and half species living today, 250,000 fossil species. I mean,
if we take things literally, most species exist today and not in the
There have been estimates of how many organisms are becoming extinct
today and one of the things that biologists get together and
commiserate on and understandably so, is the progressive loss of
animal and plant species in our time by the process of extinction.
Both sides recognize this extinction, neither side, I think, is
denying it, whether in fact it has been a majority of a species that
has become extinct or a minority, the point is that many species have
become extinct even in our own lifetime. And this process appears to
be continuing whether or not it is hastened by man. The intriguing
thing I think for the evolutionist is, where are the new species to
replace the old ones? We know weíre losing them at an alarming rate,
but we should be getting new ones.
Weíre losing them due to manís destruction of the environment so the
What about the great extinction that occurred....
Well again, the Pleistocene extinctions are thought to be mostly
man-directed. And the other extinctions, the Permian, whatever others
you want to bring in, were replaced by tens of millions of years of
diversification according to evolution.