The Missing Links
Starting with Darwin, evolutionists have been apologizing for the fossil record’s lack of evidence for gradual evolution. Around 1980, leading evolutionists gave up on finding the “missing links” and have made some remarkable statements that concur with what creationists have been saying all along, that the big picture of the fossil record is that there are systematically links missing between major life forms–biological discontinuity. As a result, terms like transitional form have been obscured while the theory of punctuated equilibria has been advanced to explain four troublesome features of the fossil record: large morphological gaps, abrupt appearance of biological forms, stasis after that appearance, and lack of identifiable phylogeny (a line of ancestors and descendants – a family tree).
While not every author cited would agree with Eldredge and Gould’s work in every detail, most would identify themselves with the punctuated equilibria position. The point one should come away with is not that the scientists cited no longer believe in evolution. Rather, they no longer rely on the fossil record as evidence. As Mark Ridley of Oxford has said, “In any case, no real evolutionist, whether gradualist or punctuationist, uses the fossil record as evidence in favor of evolution as opposed to special creation.” (“Who Doubts Evolution?” New Scientist, vol. 90, 1981, p. 831). Ridley went on to argue in favor of evolution, but reasserted that the fossils record is not a key part of that argument.