Review by Greg Neyman
First published 18 May 2014
Old Earth Ministries Website
The article "Darwin Missed the Obvious" on the Creation Today website tries to claim that Darwin failed to recognize that species can go extinct rapidly.1
The author quotes Darwin, who stated that "There is reason to believe that the extinction of a whole group of species is generally a slower process than their production." The argument pointed out by the YEC author is that during Darwin's time, the Great Auk, a bird, was approaching extinction, thanks to mankind. Later on in the article, another example is given, the frog Rhinoderma darwinii, which was declared extinct in 2013.
There are several problems with this article. First, look at Darwin's quote. He is talking about the extinction of whole groups of species, whereas the YEC author is giving a examples based on single species. The quote by Darwin is not talking about extinction of single species, but that fact doesn't stop the YEC author from using it, and YEC readers from buying it.
In Darwin's day, the study of evolution, and how it works, was just beginning. Darwin did not have a very good picture of the fossil record so that he could study extinction. If Darwin did not fully understand some evolutionary/extinction processes, that does not mean that scientists today do not. We should give the pioneer of evolution a little bit of leeway.
The Great Auk was hunted out of extinction, and disease led to the extinction of the frog. This brings up a good point...it is easier to kill a species than it is to create one. If Darwin had access to today's research and data, he would come to the same conclusion.
The article then changes gears, and examines extinction rate vs. speciation rate. The author makes a case that many species are in threat of extinction today. True, we are possibly losing a lot of species. But we must also realize that these are based on estimates. They make one quote that says we will lose 5 to 50% of all species by 2050. Can they be more vague? They also say that dozens are going extinct every day. To these people making this claim (The Center for Biological Diversity), I ask, "Which dozen went extinct yesterday." They don't know...again it is based on estimates.
It appears that the YEC author has joined forces with radical left-wing environmentalists, and are using their estimates to attack evolution. Do not misunderstand me, though, I'm not trivializing extinction, I'm just pointing out that the numbers are closely tied to environmentalism and politics, so those creating the numbers are pushing their agenda, and not necessarily reporting the truth. One final point...if there is new speciation, it would be harder to observe than extinction. We appear to be losing many amphibians, but deep in the jungles of the world, we may also be gaining new species, as no one is there to observe them. Therefore, we can't really compare extinction rates and speciation rates with any accuracy.
It is interesting that YEC's are going back 150 years into the past to attack evolution, and teaming with environmentalists to report unverified numbers when it suits their cause. Desparate times call for desparate measures.
1 Darwin Missed the Obvious, by Creation Today. Posted on the Creation Science Evangelism website at http://www.creationtoday.org/darwin-missed-the-obvious/
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