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.
Considerable 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
Dr. John Ankerberg: Dave,
some have charged that the fossils of archaeopteryx are a hoax, that
theyíre a fraud. Do you think there is any truth to that?
Dr. David Menton: Sir Fred
Hoyle, I guess, has been the main protagonist there. He has reason to
believe that, or he thinks he has reason to believe, that what we have
here is really just a reptilian skeleton that somebody has rigged,
rather like the Piltdown hoax, in a case of hominid delusion, to look
like a reptile with feathers. And he cites as evidence, if you look at
the two halves of some of these fossils, that the two halves really
donít match and that theyíve merely been gimmicked up by making some
sort of impression with perhaps with some sort of bird feather, modern
bird feather, on a matrix thatís been sort of smeared over the surface
of the reptile.
Well, you know, the hoax goes a little further than
that. There are two lines of evidence in the skeleton alone that weíre
dealing with the bird, so you would have to trick that up as well.
Whatever else you can say about archaeopteryx, it does have a
wishbone. Now, I am not aware that any reptiles, fossil or living,
have a wishbone, where the collarbones are fused to support the
shoulders in flight. They actually bend in and out as the bird flies,
taking up the strain of flight. Also, birds have pubic bones that face
to the rear, rather than to the front as in most other vertebrates.
Kurt, maybe you can correct me on this. But I am not personally aware
of other animals, reptiles for example, that have a rear-facing pubic
Dr. Kurt Wise: Bird-hip
Menton: They do have that?
Wise: Thatís why they call
them bird-hip dinosaurs.
Dr. Duane Gish: I might
add this, Dave. Practically every research that has been done on
archaeopteryx last ten years, the features investigated turned out to
be bird-like rather than reptile-like. So I think Hoyle is simply
wrong. You mentioned the pubis had been reconstructed in the last few
years in a bird-like fashion rather than intermediate as John Ostrom
had done. The otic region is bird-like and when they dug the skull out
of the limestone, the London specimen, and studied it turned out to be
bird-like not reptile-like. The tail, the ankle area, turned out to be
bird-like and many other features that have been investigated in the
last few years, and in every instance turned out to be bird-like. And
furthermore, I believe, since Hoyle published that paper they
discovered another fossil of archaeopteryx which also had feathers. So
I think heís just simply wrong on his suggestion.
Menton: I quite agree.
Ankerberg: Letís summarize
this then. Where are we at this point?
Wise: Although we have
focused on the transition between dinosaurs, reptiles and birds, what
weíve seen here is actually reflective of something we see whenever we
look at the origin of any major group. Because we find that when we
try to even imagine the sequence that evolution must have gone through
in order to produce this particular phylum or class, we find it very
difficult, nigh unto impossible, to construct a scenario thatís
reasonable, where we can produce the ultimate complexity of the entire
organism so that it functions at all times. It somehow has to have the
characters in the process of development and yet somehow integrated
into the whole organism so that the whole organism works. That
challenge has never been met for the origin of any major group. You
can imagine sometimes the intermediates here and there, but to
construct the actual series, even in a hypothetical sense, to have
produced any one of the major phyla or classes from any other has
never been done.
Ankerberg: How about the
pictures we see in some of the books, some of the museums, like the
horse series or the man series? I think theyíve got a fish series as
well. That seems to be a hypothesis; itís a drawing, an idea. But
youíre saying what they cannot imagine is the mechanisms to bring that
kind of complexity.
Wise: Each one of those
series is within the major groups weíre talking about. Each one of
those series is one horse to another horse to another horseóone
elephant to another elephant to another elephantóone camel to another
camel to another camel, so on and so forth. Weíre talking about
relatively small changes within the groups that weíre talking about.
Sometimes you might have seen transition depicted
between land animals and whales or something like that. Again, you can
imagine individual intermediates sometimes, but then trying to get
down to the nitty-gritty in determining how each one of those would
have functioned, and how they could have survived, and how it is that
you went from A to B, and then B to C has never been done.
So in some of what we have gone through so far, we
lack any fossil evidence of the transition between these groups that
evolutionary theory demands, so we have no evidence. We lack the
evidence in the first organisms of real intermediate. Okay we have a
combination of characters which is somewhat intermediate, but we donít
have, if you look at any one of the individual characters, they are
not themselves intermediate. Itís a fully functional organism. And
thirdly, we canít even imagine the sequence whereby these organisms
could have arisen.
So we lack the evidence, we lack any experiment
which has been able to produce any one of these major groups from any
other, and we lack even a way, even an imagined scenario, thatís
Ankerberg: Thatís the
negative case in terms of looking at the evidence in view of the
evolutionary theory, but whatís the positive case for the creationist
side when you look at the fossils?
Wise: In a more literal
understanding of the fossil record, I would say that the fossil record
indicates that major groups of organisms, the phyla and classes, came
into existence independently of one another without common ancestor,
thatís their polyphyletic origin. Thatís the positive evidence from
the fossil record. Thatís what it says when you look at it literally.
The other thing is something that David brought up,
and itís something that you can do in any one of the major groups, is
to show that each one of these groups is so incredibly complex in the
coordination of characters and how the organism works as a whole, not
just individual characters, thatís complex enough, each one of those
characters is so complex that it seems to indicate we have a designer.
But then on top of that you have to somehow
coordinate those characters into a functioning organism and that
implies an even stronger case for a designer. So the creation case is
built on a more literal interpretation of the fossil record. There is
no evidence of the intermediates, and, the fact that the organisms,
when they do come into existence, are so complex, it seems to mandate
Ankerberg: Dave, you had
an illustration using bats.
Menton: One of the
arguments that I think has been raised by both creationists and
evolutionists, regarding transitional organs (weíre not talking
transitional organisms now, weíre talking about a transitional organ
like a half-feather, or a half-jaw, or whatever), is what functional
use would there be for the organ as itís going through its transition
from A to B.
One might look at bats, for example. These, of
course, are flying mammals. They fly by a mechanism rather different
than the birds do. They donít take advantage of feathers. They have a
large membrane that extends between the fingers of their hand. They
basically fly with their hands. And one could imagine a small perhaps
mouse-like mammal slowly evolving into a bat.
One of the things apparently that would be necessary
is that from about the waist on down the whole pelvic girdle turns and
faces the opposite direction. In addition, the digits, or so-called
fingers of the forelimbs would get longer and longer. A web would
develop between them. Itís easy to imagine having long fingers and a
web that perhaps are flyableóthat could contribute to flightóbut not
having the other features in place, such as the center of balance to
fly, such as the navigational requirements of flight, such as the
weight reduction of flight, the coordinated movements of flight.
Indeed, you can imagine an animal halfway between a small non-flying
mammal and a bat that was neither fish nor fowl. That is, it could no
longer walk well, it could no longer breed well, it no longer could
eat with any real efficiency, had difficulty either walking or flying.
What would be the selective advantage along the way for each of the
How would you slowly develop sonar in the bats? When
bats appear in the fossil record, they again appear, as so many others
fossils do, fully formed. There are no pre-bats that Iím aware of. The
bones of the face appear to give evidence of a sonar mechanism.
Theyíre shaped to funnel in sound to the ear. Everything is in place.
The pre-bat we might reasonably expect to find in the fossil record is
not there. But if you try to anticipate what this pre-bat would look
like, it is very difficult to do this. Itís very difficult to say why,
when youíre halfway along there would selective advantage to these
It leads, I guess, some evolutionists to propose
that evolution would sort of store up a bunch of changes and maybe not
express them for awhile, then all of a sudden turn them loose,
pre-adapted as it were, and that you would sort of select for the
whole package all at once. Certainly for flight you have to select for
a very large package of coordinated features, involving balance,
involving weight reduction, involving muscles, involving bones,
involving navigation, and its difficult to imagine flight.
Ankerberg: Itís in that
sense that youíre saying that not only is the evidence not there, but
the theory to concoct that pathway between the two forms, the one
thatís growing into the new one, they havenít even got the theory for
Menton: Right. Even when
you tell people, "Let your imagination run free; never mind, science,
never mind experiments, just allow your mind to be free." Even there
we have difficulty coming up with scenarios that require no proof, no
evidence, just invent scenarios.
I have read scenarios about the origin of whales.
Theyíre believed to have evolved from perhaps the cattle, others
suggest other organisms. In any event again a terrestrial mammal
begins to frequent the water, the ocean, presumably the nares, or nose
would move to the top of the head, the body size would increase, the
mouth would get large. There are all kinds of scenarios that can be
imagined, but again it is difficult to imagine what would be selected
for each step of the way. Remember you have to have value as you move
Evolutionists point out that proteins donít jump
into existence fully formed, that you sort of just keep adding a few
amino acids on the end, and maybe the protein takes on some new
function. And so, instead of having to wait for the entire protein
succinate dehydrogenase we could find that, as we started out, there
were other uses for it along the way. Maybe having nothing to do with
the Krebs cycle. And in this way, they could sneak up on it and the
probability then presumably is better than if he had to get the whole
thing in one shot.
Ankerberg: But your point
is, that while they are growing, how are they existing? What are they
doing? How do those other in-between forms help them to get to that
Imagine a cornea, thatís a little window in the skin that we look
through. What good is the cornea without an eye to look through the
window? On the other hand, what good is the eye without a window to
look through, or cornea?
Gish: I might add, we were
talking about the bat, the oldest known fossil bat, found in whatís
called eocene rock, therefore dated by the evolutionists at 50 million
years, this fossil bat was essentially identical to the modern bat. As
a matter of fact, instead of the structure of the skull, they were
able to discover it had this echolocation mechanism found in many
modern bats. It was in every aspect, modern, and there are absolutely
no traces of anything ancestral to that bat.
Dr. David Menton received his Ph.D. in cell biology from Brown
Dr Wiseís doctoral degree in paleontology was completed at
Dr. Gish received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of