Are whales truly a testament to the validity of random evolution, or to God's hand in creation? Learn what science and your Bible have to say on the matter. Tune in to discover the truth.
[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Whales are among the most magnificent of earth’s creatures. Massive and majestic, they rule the oceans and inspire us to consider the wonder of life. Yet, many evolutionists claim that whales also provide powerful evidence for evolution—celebrated as clear examples of how life was not created by God, but rather evolved slowly over millions of years.
Is this claim true? Join us now on Tomorrow’s World, where we’ll take a close look at this whale of a tale.
Welcome to Tomorrow’s World! On behalf of myself and the crew behind the scenes, we’re delighted you’re here.
On today’s program, we’ll zoom in on one of the most popular icons of Darwinian evolution. We’ll also offer you the opportunity to request a free copy of one of our most thorough resources, Evolution and Creation: What Both Sides Miss. Be sure to watch for the information you need to get your free copy.
Some of the most famous words ever written are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The theory of evolution offers a different tale, of course. According to Neo-Darwinian evolution, life began as a microscopic organism—much like the simplest bacteria we find today. (It’s best not to ask where the bacteria came from.) This bacterium would experience small, random, genetic mutations as it reproduced itself. Most mutations would harm its offspring, but a small percentage would benefit it, so that it survived longer or reproduced more successfully. In this process, Charles Darwin suggested that nature rewards some random changes and punishes others. The theory of evolution proposes that these unguided processes accumulated changes over a few billion years that turned that initial bacterium into the vast variety of lifeforms we see today…millions of species of every shape, color, and size. Life, in ALL of its MARVELOUS COMPLEXITY, all from one simple organism, due to nothing but random, undirected processes—no intelligent Creator necessary.
Certainly, it is quite a tale! Frankly, given life’s complexity, it seems quite a leap of faith.
Does the evidence justify the leap?
Darwinists CLAIM much evidence, and today’s free offer dives deeply into many of those claims. But for today’s brief program, we’ll examine one considered a crown jewel in evolution’s case—a masterpiece thought to be an undeniable example of God-less evolution in action.
Enter, the whale! These magnificent creatures stir imaginations with their majestic appearance, their graceful motion beneath the waves, and their sheer power. Whales exist in wonderful variety in our oceans, and, as the largest animals on earth, they are a sight to behold.
AND evolutionists present WHALES as some of their best evidence that life has evolved. Here’s why.
According to evolution, as animals evolve over millions of years into NEW and DIFFERENT animals, they leave numerous TRANSITIONAL FOSSILS demonstrating that change. Embarrassingly, the potential transitional fossils that HAVE BEEN found are FAR FEWER than what SHOULD BE FOUND if evolution is TRUE.
But evolutionists believe WHALES are exceptions. Fossils appearing to illustrate whale evolution parade through textbooks and popular writings. As evolutionist and author Jerry Coyne writes,
“But we don’t have to imagine how whales evolved…. Whales happen to have an excellent fossil record, courtesy of their aquatic habits and robust, easily fossilized bones. And how they evolved has emerged within only the last twenty years. This is one of our BEST examples of an evolutionary transition, since we have a chronologically ordered series of fossils, perhaps a lineage of ancestors and descendants, showing their movement from land to water” (Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution Is True, 2009, p. 52).
Let’s look at this supposed evolutionary lineage. While some depictions include additional species, this diagram gives a good representative idea. Using the general timeline evolutionists claim,
This fossil sequence—elongating bodies, limbs becoming flippers, nostrils moving around on the skull—is considered some of evolution’s best evidence—taking us from wolf-sized, land-dwelling Pakicetus, to whale-sized, sea-loving Basilosaurus. In fact, paleontologist and evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould once wrote,
“This sequential discovery of picture-perfect intermediacy in the evolution of whales stands as a TRIUMPH in the history of paleontology. I CANNOT IMAGINE a BETTER TALE for popular presentation of science, or a more satisfying, and intellectually based, political victory over lingering creationist opposition” (Stephen Jay Gould, “Hooking Leviathan by its past,” Natural History, May 1994, pp. 8–14).
It IS quite a tale! But is it true? Is this collection of creatures really the pristine example of evolution many claim it as? Or do problems swim beneath the surface? We’ll dive into details in a moment.
We’ve discussed the celebrated sequence of fossils that evolutionists point to as “picture-perfect” evidence for whale evolution.
As explained more deeply in today’s free resource, part of the challenge is that evolution tends to be ASSUMED FROM THE BEGINNING, and then that ASSUMPTION is used to INTERPRET the evidence.
Let’s look more closely at this fossil sequence.
First, we should understand that the creatures depicted in these diagrams are often partially reconstructed with artistic license. Complete skeletons are rare. Often, the evidence consists of skull fragments, a pelvis here, most of a leg there, and skeletons are made from multiple creatures—with MISSING bones simply guessed at.
As paleobiologist Nicholas Pyenson wrote concerning studying fossils to determine how whales’ supposed ancestors moved from land to water,
“…most early stem cetaceans [that is, presumed whale-ancestors] are known from FAR LESS COMPLETE SKELETONS than many ARTISTIC INTERPRETATIONS would indicate…. The INCOMPLETENESS OF THESE FOSSIL TAXA, especially for early quadrupedal [or four-legged] forms such as Pakicetus, underscores the challenges of reconstructing their ecology” (“The Ecological Rise of Whales Chronicled by the Fossil Record,” Current Biology, vol. 27, iss. 11, June 5, 2017).
When diagrams show a beautiful, complete, transitional collection of creatures, often you are looking at far more “artistic interpretation” than you might realize.
How do scientists and artists “fill in” missing parts and other features? Often by relying on evolution-based assumptions, tainting the “evidence” from the beginning.
Still, for the sake of argument, let’s ignore that. There are larger fish to fry. Let’s assume that scientists and artist’s imaginations are “spot on” and the creatures looked exactly as they appear to look in their impressive charts. And let’s assume that they existed at the very times they are claimed to have existed, 40 to 50 million years ago.
Part of what makes this tale so convincing is the chronological order of the sequence.
As Jerry Coyne explains, this ordering of fossils is crucial to their ability to serve as evidence of the transition:
“We see ancestral whales spanning the gap between their own landlubber ancestors and fully modern whales. If evolution were not true, fossils would not occur in an order that makes evolutionary sense” (Coyne, p. 57).
Dr. Coyne says that we see fossils in the order evolution tells us they should exist. If you found a fossil of a creature that was OLDER than a fossil of its supposed ancestor, evolution would be in trouble. Descendants have to come AFTER ancestors—if evolution is correct, the fossils have to be in order.
Frankly, a number of exceptions can be found that contradict this expectation, but today we’re focusing on WHALES. Is it true that we’ve NEVER found ANY whale fossils OUT of sequence?
No, it is NOT true. In 2011, researchers did JUST THAT. As the Associated Press reported,
“The jawbone of an ancient whale found in Antarctica may be the oldest fully aquatic whale yet discovered….
“A scientist not involved in the find said it could suggest that whales evolved MUCH MORE QUICKLY from their amphibian precursors than previously thought.
“Argentine paleontologist Marcelo Reguero, who led a joint Argentine-Swedish team, said the fossilized archaeocete [or, ancient whale] jawbone found in February dates back 49 MILLION YEARS” (Michael Warren, “Ancient whale jawbone found in Antarctica,” Associated Press, October 11, 2011).
According to these scientists, this was a FULLY AQUATIC WHALE, which poses a SERIOUS problem. This places fully aquatic whales BACK at least TEN MILLION YEARS or so—LONG BEFORE some of their supposed ANCESTORS. This is like discovering that your family tree only works if you were born BEFORE your great-great grandfather!
If FULLY AQUATIC whales ALREADY EXISTED alongside some of their most ancient SUPPOSED ANCESTORS—IN FACT, when whales were still supposedly LAND creatures—then something smells fishy. Either our “picture-perfect” story is falling apart, or we have a time-traveling whale on our hands.
Yet problems with our whale tale don’t stop there. We’ll look at a bigger problem in a moment.
It is one thing to talk about a land-creature slowly adapting to become a sea creature, but we should consider what ACTUAL changes are involved with such a transformation. How long would it take evolution to produce them?
Whale DNA analysis suggests that some changes could arise through LOSS of biological function. This is a legitimately proven way Darwinian processes can work, as described in today’s free resource. But creating BRAND NEW bodily structures and biological functions is entirely different.
And when you examine the whale’s features that are specialized for aquatic life, the list of adaptations is LONG. Let’s dip our toes in and look at a few features evolution would need to create to change a wolf-like creature to a whale. In his book Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution, researcher and writer Jonathan Wells details many:
(Jonathan Wells, Zombie Science: More Icons of Evolution, 2017, pp. 104–109).
Truly, whales are a wonder of our world, beautifully designed to rule in their watery domain.
This is only a small sampling of the changes needed to convert a land-dwelling mammal into an ocean-dominating whale. Even if these hundreds of innovations WERE possible through Darwinian means, how long might such a series of changes take? Jonathan Wells notes in his book that the accepted time frame gives land-lubbing Pakicetus around eight million years to “evolve” into a true whale. Is that enough time?
To answer the question, Wells looks at studies on the rates of genetic mutation in creatures such as fruit flies and human beings, and reports on the work of population geneticist Richard Sternberg, who applied these rates to whale evolution. Noting that a study suggested that fixing only TWO coordinated mutations would take 100 MILLION YEARS for humans, Wells reports on the obvious conclusion:
“Assuming a generation time of twenty-five years for humans and five years for the ancestors of cetaceans [including whales], Sternberg pointed out that fixing just TWO mutations in the latter would take MILLIONS OF YEARS LONGER than the time available in the fossil record. So there isn’t enough time to fix even TWO mutations, yet we need HUNDREDS or even THOUSANDS of new mutations. Obviously, eight million years is not long enough to accumulate enough accidental mutations to turn a “walking whale” into a real whale—even if neo-Darwinian theory were right about the power of mutations (which it isn’t)” (Wells, p. 113).
Yet, as we’ve seen, the problem is WORSE than that, because the discovery of a FULLY AQUATIC whale that existed around the same time as land-lubbing Pakicetus means that all of these changes would have had to happen within only ONE TO THREE million years!
If these changes could not have happened in eight million years, they DEFINITELY could not have happened in three—let alone ONE.
We’ll put everything together in the next segment and replace this fish story with facts and truth.
My friends, the more one dives into the details of the supposedly “picture perfect” tale of whale evolution, the less it seems like a masterpiece and the more it seems like a low budget monster movie fit for Mystery Science Theater 3000—the sort that people watch not because it’s good but because it’s so much fun to poke holes in it and laugh at the bad special effects. Today, we’ve seen that the plot has chapters that happen in the wrong order, poorly developed characters, some of which show up in scenes they don’t belong in, and everything happening in a ridiculously impossible length of time that is way too short—like in bad soap operas, where a character has a baby one day, and by the end of the season, the “baby” is already old enough for high school!
If this “picture-perfect” illustration of evolution is this problematic, then what of supposedly lesser evidence? Though claimed to be “scientific fact,” evolution simply is not so.
So, where DID modern whales come from? Genesis 1 and verses 20 and 21 has had something to say about that for more than 3,000 years:
“Then God said, ‘Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.’ So God created GREAT SEA CREATURES and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
These magnificent creatures have a Creator! And HE is responsible for their remarkable design and engineering, their astonishing abilities, and their beautiful variety!
We should note, however, that it is wrong to assume the creatures God created cannot change at all, or that a great capacity for variety does NOT exist in living creatures. For instance, the whales of today may have changed somewhat from the original “sea creatures” of Day Five in the Genesis “Creation Week.”
Consider, when God created dogs on Day Six, do we imagine that meant He created every variety of dog EXACTLY as we see them today? Did Adam and Eve see VAST HERDS OF CHIHUAHUAS running across the plains? Or Great Danes, or Dachshunds, or St. Bernards?
No—apparently, He began with something much like a wolf, and from such magnificent beginnings, mankind has been able to tease out details, eliminate unwanted characteristics, and breed different varieties. Life’s design, including the REMARKABLE DNA molecule and its incredible programming language, is a tribute to a Creator of great forethought—something discussed and illustrated in today’s free offer. Yes, we can begin with a wolf-like dog and intelligently produce NEW dogs over time, like Chihuahuas and Great Danes. Yet, the idea of taking a wolf-like creature and producing a BLUE WHALE? As we’ve seen today, THAT is a different claim, entirely.
Yet, if THAT tale isn’t truly supported by the evidence, then what of the larger, grander tale of evolution in general? Not that a wolf-like creature can eventually become a blue whale—but that a BACTERIA can one day become a blue whale?
THAT fairy tale is one we’ll save for another day. But you can address it NOW with today’s free offer, Evolution and Creation: What Both Sides Miss. I hope you will order your free copy.
And I hope we will see you here at Tomorrow’s World next week, where Gerald Weston, Richard Ames, Rod McNair, and I will be waiting for you, ready to share the clear teachings of God’s word, what prophecy declares is coming in the days ahead of us, and Jesus Christ’s Gospel of His coming Kingdom. Until we’re together again, take care.
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Many claim that life has evolved over billions of years through blind forces of nature. Others declare that the earth, and even the whole universe, was created by God only 6,000 years ago. Both ideas can’t be right. But both can certainly be wrong.
What are the facts that both sides fail to see? Can the Bible be reconciled with science? And what is the true history of the earth—and of life?