There’s a Gould-ish Nightmare Brewing

by Tom Graffagnino

“It’s hard for us paleontologists, steeped as we are in a tradition of Darwinian analysis, to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably. New data acquired in recent years, instead of solving Darwin’s dilemma, have rather made it worse.” —Dr. Mark McMenamin, paleontologist, Mt. Holyoke College

Charles Darwin knew from the outset that his theory of gradual evolutionary change could and would be challenged by the inconvenient truth presented by the “Cambrian Explosion” of animal life. In fact, he was unsure if his theory would be able to stand in the light of it.

When, in the early 1970’s, Stephen Jay Gould realized that the mechanism of incremental gradual change proposed by the long-accepted paradigm of neo-Darwinian macro-evolutionism was inadequate to account for the Cambrian explosion of life forms, he posited his alternative scenario of rapid fire (ie., “punctuated”) change. He

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called his theory “punctuated equilibrium” (or “Punk Eek”). He knew the Punk Eek scenario must have happened because the existing fossil record and the relatively short time span involved simply demanded it. The gradualism of undirected micro-change and adaptation was inadequate and untenable and could not explain the explosive diversity evident in the Cambrian fossil record. In effect, Gould’s theory confirmed the validity of Darwin’s doubt.

When Gould’s Punk-Eek scenario was placed on the table for scrutiny and consideration in the early 1970’s, the standardized mechanism of gradual macro-evolutionary change was called into question, and the distress flag began rising up the credibility flagpole of traditional neo-Darwinian thinking.

Then later, when it was discovered and confirmed that mountains of complex, specified information had to be encoded into the molecular/genetic make-up of living animals in order for such morphological diversity to occur during the Cambrian era, the distress flag was raised higher still. After all, common sense and daily observation testifies that specified information always originates from an intelligent source. But, alas, the possibility of an intelligent, designing agent, had to be ruled out because intelligent agents in contemporary Macro-Evolutionville are not allowed to exist…

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There’s a Gould-ish Nightmare Brewing – Tom Graffagnino


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