The Spectacle Blog

An Evolving Theory

By on 11.29.05 | 11:51AM

Michael Powell's Washington Post review of the new Darwin exhibition at New York's American Museum of Natural History is generally praiseworthy but Darwinists won't like his singing off key late in the piece: "...in its eagerness to declare the grand evolutionary questions settled, the show takes its lone stumble. Only four decades ago, most paleontologists rejected the theory, now broadly accepted, that comets and volcanic eruptions delivered mass extinctions and so played a key role in speeding evolution. Nor are scientists clear on the mechanism by which one species evolves into another; curator Eldredge and the late scientist Stephen Jay Gould crafted the once heretical theory of punctuated equilibrium, which holds that species sometimes evolve in grand leaps."

Then Powell notes that one prominent scientist, Simon Conway Morris, is now arguing that "even very distant species share structural similarities and journey toward inevitable complexity. This suggests to him that evolution adheres to an architecture."

Architecture? Sounds like intelligent design.

Powell said the exhibit's curator, Niles Eldridge, will "shrug" if you bring these complications up to him. Not mentioned in Powell's piece, though alluded to in his noting that Eldridge is associated with the theory of punctuated equilibrium, is that Eldridge once acknowledged in the 1980s that the fossil record does not support Darwin's expectation that it would eventually prove his theory of gradual transitions. "The pattern that we were told to find for the last 120 years does not exist," Eldridge was quoted in the New York Times as saying.

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article

More Articles From George Neumayr