Skip navigation.
The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

Testimony of Dr. Stephen Jay Gould

Testimony of Dr. Stephen Jay Gould, Professor of Geology, Harvard University (Plaintiffs Witness) - transcript paragraph formatted version.


MR. NOVIK: May we please have a few minutes? We'll be getting Doctor Gould from the witness room.

THE COURT: We'll take a ten minute recess.

(Thereupon, court was in recess from 10:50 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.)

MR. NOVIK: Plaintiffs' next witness is Doctor Stephen Gould.



called on behalf of the plaintiffs herein, after having seen first duly sworn or affirmed, was examined and testified as follows:,



Q: Professor Gould, what is your current employment?

A: Professor of Geology at Harvard University and curator of invertebrate paleontology and comparative zoology there.

Q: I'd like to show you Plaintiffs' Exhibit Number 96 for identification, which purports to be your curriculum vitae.

A: (Examining same)


Q: Does it accurately reflect your education, training, experience and publications?

A: Yes, it does.

MR. NOVIK: I move that that be received in evidence, your Honor.

THE COURT: That will be received.

MR. NOVIK: (Continuing)

Q: Professor Gould, when and where did your receive your Ph.D.?

A: Columbia University in 1967.

Q: In what field?

A: In paleontology.

Q: What are your areas of expertise?

A: Paleontology, geology, evolutionary theory, and I've also studied the history of evolutionary theory.

Q: Have you published a substantial number of books and articles in these fields?

A: Yes. I've written five books and more than a hundred and fifty articles.

MR. NOVIK: Your Honor, I offer Professor Gould as an expert in the fields of geology, paleontology, evolutionary theory, and the history of evolutionary theory.

THE COURT: Any voir dire?

MR. WILLIAMS: No, your Honor.


MR. NOVIK: (Continuing) Professor Gould, I'm showing you a copy of Act 590. Have you had an opportunity to read that act?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Have you read Act 590's definition of creation-science as it relates specifically to geology?

A: Yes. As it relates specifically to geology, point number 5 proclaims that the earth's geology should be explained by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a world wide flood.

Q: Have you read the creation science literature relative to geology?

A: I have indeed. Let me say just for the record, though, I'll use the term `creation science' because it's so enjoined by the Act, but in my view there is no such item and creation science is not science. I would prefer to refer to it as creationism.

But yes, I have read the creation science literature, so called.

Q: Is the statutory definition of creation science as it relates to geology consistent with that creation science literature?

A: Yes. The creation science literature attempts to interpret, in most of that literature, the entire geological column as the product of Noah's Flood and its


A: (Continuing) consequences, and it is certainly consistent with point number 5 of the Act.

Q: Have you read Act 590's definition of evolution as it relates specifically to geology?

A: Yes. I would say that that primarily is the point that uniformitarianism is-

Q: And the Act defines it as-

A: Oh, yes. An explanation of the earth's geology by catastrophism. Or it says that evolution is the explanation of the earth's geology and evolutionary sequence by uniformitarianism.

Q: What does uniformitarianism mean?

A: As creation science defines it, it refers to the theory that I would call the notion of gradualism, namely, that the phenomena of the earth and geological record were produced by slow, steady, imperceptible change, and the bar scale events were produced by this slow accumulation of imperceptible change.

Q: And it is in that sense that uniformitarianism is used in the Act?

A: In the Act, yes.

Q: Are you familiar with scientific literature in the field of geology?

A: Yes, I have. In fact, I have authored several articles on the meaning of uniformitarianism.


Q: Is Act 590's definition of evolution in respect to uniformitarianism consistent with the scientific literature?

A: Certainly not. It may be true that Charles Lyell, a great nineteenth century geologist, had a fairly extreme view of gradualism, but that's been entirely abandoned by geologists today.

Geologists have been quite comfortable with the explanations that some events have been the accumulation of small changes, and others as the result of, at least, local catastrophes.

Q: So modern geologists believe in both; is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Is the Act's definition of evolution in terms of uniformitarianism creation consistent with the creation science literature?

A: Oh, yes. The creation science literature continues to use the term "uniformitarianism" only to refer to the notion of extreme gradualism. For example, they argue that since fossils are generally only formed when sediments accumulate very rapidly, that, therefore, there is evidence for catastrophe, and somehow that confutes uniformitarianism.

In fact, paleontologists do not deny that fossils that


A: (Continuing) are preserved are generally buried by at least locally catastrophic events, storms or rapid accumulations of sediments. And indeed, that's why we believe the fossils record is so imperfect and most fossils never get a chance to be preserved, because the rate of sedimentation is usually slow and most fossils decay before they can be buried.

Q: Is there any sense in which modern geologists do believe in uniformitarianism?

A: Indeed, but in a totally different meaning. The term `uniformitarianism' has two very distinct meanings that are utterly separate. First is the methodological claim that the laws of nature are unvaried, but natural laws can be used to explain the past as well as the present.

That's a methodological claim that we assert in order to do science.

The second meaning which we've been discussing, the substantiative claim of falsifiable, the claim is often false, about actual rates of change. Namely, the rates of change are constant. And that is a diagnostic question for scientists.

Q: Could you give us an example of these two different meanings of uniformitarianism?

A: Yes. For example, take apples falling off of


A: (Continuing) trees. That's the usual one. The first principle, the methodological one that we do accept as part of the definition of science, holds that if apples fall off trees, they do that under the influence of gravity. And we may assume that they do so in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

For example, the great Scottish geologist James Hutton said in the late eighteenth century on this point, that if the stone, for example, which falls today will rise again tomorrow, principles would fail and we would no longer be able to investigate the past in the present. So that's what we mean by the methodological assumption.

The notion of gradualism or constancy of rates would hold, for example, that if two million apples fell off trees in the state of Arkansas this year, then we could assume with the constancy of rates in a million years from now, two millions apples would fall, which of course is absurd. Apples could become extinct between now and then. We've got a contravene in the laws of science.

Q: Does the creation science literature accurately reflect these two different meanings of uniformitarianism?

A: No, it doesn't. It continually confuses the two, arguing that because we can't refute constancy of rates, in many cases which indeed we can, that, therefore, somehow the principle of the uniformity of law, or the


A: (Continuing) constancy of natural law, is also thrown into question. And they are totally separate issues.

Q: Let's return to the Act's definition of creation science as including scientific evidence for a worldwide flood. Are you aware of any scientific evidence which would indicate a worldwide flood?

A: No, I'm not.

Q: Are you familiar with creation science literature concerning a worldwide flood?

A: Yes, I've read a good deal of it.

Q: Is the creation-science theory concerning a worldwide flood a scientific theory?

A: At its core, it surely isn't, because from the literature I've read, it explicitly calls upon miraculous intervention by God; that it is an extension of natural law.

That's what I take it we mean by miracles, for some of these events in the flood narrative. For example, there just isn't enough water in the world's oceans to thoroughly cover the continents in a deluge as profound as that of Noah's, and so they call upon water that is presumed to be in the earth and Whitcomb and Morris in The Genesis Flood talk about a giant canopy of water above the firmament. But then have to rely upon God's miraculous


A: (Continuing) intervention to get that water onto the earth. If I may quote from Whitcomb and Morris-

Q: What are you quoting from?

A: Pardon me. It's from The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris. On page 76, the statement, "The simple fact of the matter is that one cannot have any kind of a Genesis flood without acknowledging the presence of supernatural events."

Then the next paragraph, "That God intervened in the supernatural way to gather the animals into the ark and to keep them under control during the year of the flood is explicitly stated in the text of scripture. Furthermore, it is obvious that the opening of the windows of heaven in order to allow the waters which were above the firmament to fall upon the earth, and the breaking up of all the bounties of the great deep, were supernatural acts of God."

THE COURT: What page?

THE WITNESS: Page 76, your Honor.

THE COURT: What exhibit?

MR. NOVIK: Your Honor, I believe that The Genesis Flood has been pre-marked- Actually, that has not been pre-marked.

If the Court would like, we could mark that as Plaintiffs' Exhibit 124-126.

MR. NOVIK: (Continuing)

Q: You testified that at its core the flood theory is


Q: (Continuing) a supernatural, relies on a supernatural process; is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Are there any predictions based on flood geology that can be tested?

A: Yes, they do make certain testable predictions. They have been tested and falsified long ago.

Q: Could you give an example, please?

A: Yes. The creation science literature assumes that since God created all forms of life in six days of twenty-four hours, that, therefore, all animals lived simultaneously together. One would, therefore, assume, at first thought, that the geological strata or the earth would mix together all the forms of life, and yet that is outstandingly not so.

And the outstanding fact of the fossil record which must be admitted by everybody, creationists and evolutionists alike, of course, is that rather than mixing together all the animals, that the geological record is very well ordered; that is, we have sequence of strata, and different kinds of animals and plants characterize different layers of those strata.

For example, in a rather old strata, we get certain kinds of invertebrate, such as trilobites that are never found in higher strata.


A: (Continuing) In strata of the middle age we find dinosaurs, but never trilobites. They're gone. Never large mammals. In upper strata we find large mammals but never any dinosaurs. There is a definite sequence that occurs in the same manner throughout the world and that would seem to contradict the expectation that all forms of life lived simultaneously should not so order themselves.

And therefore, creation scientists, in order to get around this dilemma and to invoke another aspect of the Genesis story, call upon Noah's flood and say that all the animals and plants were mixed up together in this gigantic flood and that the ordering in the strata of the earth records the way in which these creatures settled out in the strata after the flood or as the result of the flood.

Q: Have creation scientists advanced any specific arguments or claims for why a worldwide flood would sort out the fossils in this unvarying sequence?

A: Yes. As I read the literature, there are three primary explanations that they invoke. First, what might be called the principle of hydrodynamic sorting. That when the flood was over, those creatures that were denser or more streamlined would fall first to the bottom and should end up in the lower strata.

The second principle you might call the principle of


A: (Continuing) ecological zonation, namely, things living in the bottom of the ocean end up in the lowest strata, where those that lived in mountaintops, for example, would probably end up in the uppermost strata. And the third principle that they use is what I might call differential intelligence of mobility. That smarter animals or animals that can move and avoid the flood waters might end up in higher strata because they would have escaped the rising flood waters longer than others.

Q: Are those three claims or hypotheses consistent with the observable facts?

A: Certainly not.

Q: In your opinion, have they been falsified by the observable facts?

A: Yes, they have.

Q: Could you give an example, please?

A: Yes. If you look at the history of any invertebrate group, for example, our record is very good. We have thousands upon thousands of species in those groups, and each species is confined to strata at a certain point in the geological column.

They are recognizable species that only occur in a small part of the geological column and in the same order everywhere. And yet we find that throughout the history of invertebrates, we get species each occurring at a


A: (Continuing) separate level, but they do not differ in any of those properties.

For example, in the history of clams, clams arose five or six hundred million years ago. Initially almost all clams were shallow burrowers, in that they burrowed into the sediment. Now, it's true that in the history of clams there have been some additions to that repertoire, some clams like the scallops now swim, others are attached to the top, but in fact, a large majority, large number of species of clams still live in the same way.

So there is no difference in the hydrodynamic principles among those clams throughout time; there is no difference in ecological life-style, they are all shallow water burrowers; they are not different in terms of intelligence or mobility, indeed, clams can't even have heads. So they cannot be intelligent creatures.

And yet, as I stated, each species of clam lives in a definite part of the stratigraphic column and only there. There are large-scale extinctions of certain kinds; you never see them again, yet they do not differ in any of the ways that the creation scientists have invoked to explain the order in the strata as the results of the single flood.

Q: Could you give another example, please?

A: Yes. Another good example is in the evolution of


A: (Continuing) single-celled creatures. It is a unicellular calcite (sic?) called foraminifera. Many of the foraminifera are planktonic; that is, they are floating organisms. They all live in the same lake floating at the top or the upper waters of the oceans, they don't differ in hydrodynamic properties. They live in the same ecological zone, and they certainly don't differ in intelligence and mobility. They don't even have a nervous system.

And yet for the last twenty years there has been a worldwide program to collect deep sea cores from all the oceans of the earth. And in those cores, the sequence of planktonic foraminifera species are invariably the same. Each species is recognizable and lives in only a small part of the column; some at the bottom of the column, some at the top of the column. Those at the bottom do not differ from those at the top, either in intelligence, ecological examination, or hydrodynamic properties.

Q: Professor Gould, does the creation science argument based on principles of hydraulics explain why trilobites are always found in the bottom layers of the stratigraphic record?

A: Certainly not. Trilobites are the most prominent invertebrate animals found in the early strata that contain complex invertebrates, but they are neither


A: (Continuing) particularly streamlined or very thin. In fact, one group of trilobites that occurred early, even within the history of trilobites, in the earliest rocks we call Cambrian, called the agnostids, which are very delicate, tiny, floating creatures, yet they are abundant not only with the trilobites, but early in the history of trilobites. I don't see how that can be explained that in any creation science philosophy.

Q: Professor Gould, you have been talking up until now about invertebrates. Do these creation science arguments explain the stratigraphic sequence of vertebrates?

A: They do just as badly. The earliest fossil vertebrates are fishes, and one might think that's all right because they were swimming in the sea, and yet in detail it doesn't work out that well.

Indeed, the fishes with the relatively largest brains, namely the sharks, occur rather early in the record. And even more importantly, those fishes that, in fact, today represent more than ninety percent of all fish species, the teleosts, the most advanced fish, do not appear until much later and do not flower until the period that we call Cretaceous, which is sixty to a hundred million years ago. The record of fishes goes back to three or four hundred million years ago.

Why should the teleosts occur only in the upper strata?


A: (Continuing) Moreover, when you look at the history of other vertebrate groups, in both the reptile and the mammals, there are several lineages that have secondarily evolved from terrestrial life to marine life and, therefore, lived in the sea with fishes and you might expect them at the bottom of the column. They're not. In fact, they occur in geological sequences where their terrestrial relatives occur.

For example, during the age of dinosaurs, there were several linages of reptiles that returned to the sea. Ichthyosaurus, pelycosarus and the therapsids, in particular. And they are always found in the middle strata with dinosaurs, never in the lower strata. When you get a history of mammals, you find whales only in the upper strata with other large mammals, never in the lower strata, with the early fishes.

Q: Do geologists and paleontologists have natural law explanations for the universal sequences found in the fossil record?

A: Yes. The earth is very ancient, and those animals that were alive at any given time occur in the rocks deposited at that time. They then become extinct or evolve into something else, and that's why they're never found in younger rocks deposited on top of those.


Q: Is it possible to determine at least relative dates for the different strata in the stratigraphic record?

A: Yes, indeed, just by noting which fossils invariably occur in strata on top of others, and, therefore, we assume deposited later and, therefore, younger.

Q: In assigning relative dates to the stratigraphic record, is it necessary to rely at all on any theory of evolution or any assumption of evolution?

A: Certainly not. It's merely a question of observation, to see what fossils occur in what sequences. It's the same way throughout the earth; there is no assumptionary process at all involved in that.

Q: Do creation scientists claim that evolutionary theory does play a role in the relative dating of the geologic column?

A: Yes. One of the most persistent claims is that the whole geological column is probably invalid, because it's involved in a circular argument, namely, that since you need to assume evolution in order to establish the sequence of fossils, but then use that sequence to demonstrate evolution, that the whole subject is tautological. If I may give you some examples?

Q: Please do.


A: In Scientific Creationism—

MR. NOVIK: I believe that's Plaintiffs' Exhibit 76 for identification, your Honor.

A: In Scientific Creationism, on pages 95 and 96, we read, as a cardinal principle, number 2, page 95, "The assumption of evolution is the basis upon which fossils are used to date the rocks." And then the tautology argument is made on the next page, 96, "Thus, although the fossil record has been interpreted to teach evolution, the record itself has been based on the assumption of evolution."

I repeat, that is not so, it is merely based on observation of evidence of sequence. Now, I continue the quote, "The message is a mere tautology. The fossils speak of evolution because they have been made to speak of evolution."

"Finally we being to recognize the real message of the fossil is that there is no truly objective time sequence to the fossil record, since the time connections are based on the evolutionary assumption."

And there's another example, Duane Gish, in Evolution: The Fossils Say No.

MR. NOVIK: I believe that's Plaintiffs' Exhibit 78 for identification, your Honor. And the book, Scientific Creationism, comes in two versions, a public school edition and a non-public school edition, and those are


MR. NOVIK: (Continuing) Exhibits 76 and 75.

A: Duane Gish writes on page 59, "This arrangement of various types of fossiliferous deposits in a supposed time-sequence is known as the geological column. Its arrangement is based on the assumption of evolution.

Q: Professor Gould, would you please explain how geologists do assign relative dates to different layers of the stratigraphic record?

A: Yes. We use these principles that have names that involve some jargon. They are called the principles of original horizontality; the principle of superposition, and the principle of biotic succession.

Q: What is the principle of original horizontality?

A: The principle of original horizontality states that sedimentary rocks that are deposited over large areas, say that are deposited in oceans or lakes, are laid down initially in relatively horizontal layers.

That doesn't mean that in a small area if you deposited on a hill slope that you might not get some that are somewhat inclined, but at least deposition in large basins would be fundamentally horizontal.

Q: What is the principle of superposition?

A: The principle of superposition states that given that principle of horizontality, that those strata that lie on top of others will be younger because they were


A: (Continuing) deposited later, unless subsequent movements of the earth have disturbed the sequence by folding, faulting, and other such processes.

Q: What is folding?

A: I will illustrate. Folding is when rocks originally deposited in horizontal layers are twisted and contorted in such a way that the sequence can be changed. For example, if we had three horizontal layers laid down, originally horizontal, in superposition, if through later earth movement they got folded over, you can see how the top layer here, which is the youngest layer, in a folded sequence would come to lie underneath a layer of rock actually older than it.

Q: What is faulting?

A: Faulting is when rocks break and later move. For example, the kind of faulting most relevant here is what we call thrust faulting. Suppose the rocks break. So we have that three ways (Indicating), and that is the break and that's the fault. Then what we call thrust faulting. One sequence of rocks that is literally pushed over on top of another, and that would also create a reverse of the sequence, such as you see here. The oldest strata here, this so-called thrust block broken and pushed over this older stratum and would then come to lie upon the younger stratum here, and you get all of those sequence.


Q: Are geologists able to tell whether folding or faulting or some other geological process has disturbed the initial strata?

A: Yes. And I should say it is not done secularly by finding of fossil sequences, and then assuming that only because of that there must be a fold or a fault. We look for direct evidence, of fold or fault.

There are two main ways of doing that. The first is geological mapping, where you actually trace out the folds and faults in the earth's strata.

In the others you can well imagine what there is. For example, in thrust faulting, a large block or blocks has literally been pushed over. In another, there would be some disturbance of the boundary. That is, this heavy block of rock has literally pushed over the other. But you would get fracturing and folding of rocks from either side of the so-called thrust plane, and we find this.

Q: Could you please give an example of a thrust fault?

A: Probably the most famous thrust fault that is known in the United States is the so-called Lewis Overthrust in Montana where rather ancient rocks of pre-Cambrian age, that is current even before we have the first invertebrates and the fossil record, are thrust over much younger rocks of Cretaceous age that is coeval with the dinosaurs.


Q: What do creation scientists say about the Lewis Overthrust?

A: They try to argue that it's a good example of why the geological column is wrong, because of the sequence of the mass and the sequence of fossils, and that it isn't really an overthrust because they claim that the sedimentary layers are in fact undisturbed, and that the so-called thrust plane is really just a bedding plane, and that it's a single calm sequence of the process of rocks.

Q: Did they cite any evidence for that claim?

A: Well, they certainly claim to. For example, again, in The Genesis Flood that we referred to previously by Whitcomb and Morris—

MR. NOVIK: That's Plaintiffs' Exhibit 126.

A: —we find the following statement about the Genesis flood. Whitcomb and Morris are here quoting from a reputable source.

Q: This is a statement about the Lewis Overthrust?

A: Yes. A statement about the Lewis Overthrust from an article by C.P. Ross and Richard Rezak quoted by Whitcomb and Morris. And the quotation on page 187 reads: "Most visitors, especially those who stay on the roads, get the impression that the Belt strata are undisturbed" — the Belt strata is the upper strata of the pre-Cambrian thrust, sorry — "that the Belt strata are


A: (Continuing) undisturbed and lie almost as flat today as they did when deposited in the sea which vanished so many years ago."

And that would seem to indicate that it was just a single sequence. It's rather interesting if you would go back to the Ross and Rezak article and read the very next statement, which Morris and Whitcomb did not cite, you would find the following.

The very next statement, uncited by Whitcomb and Morris, is as follows: "Actually," talking about folded rocks, "they are folded, and in certain places, they are intensely so. From points on and near the trails in the park, it is possible to observe places where the Belt series, as revealed in outcrops on ridges, cliffs, and canyon walls, are folded and crumpled almost as intricately as the soft younger strata in the mountains south of the park and in the Great Plains adjoining the park to the east," the younger strata being the Cretaceous rocks below.

But that's certainly a good example of selective misquotation.

THE COURT: Let me see if I've got both of those references.

MR. NOVIK: The second reference, your Honor, I believe has been marked as Plaintiffs'—


THE COURT: Before you get to the second one, the first one is—

A: The first one, your Honor, is from The Genesis Flood.

THE COURT: That's Plaintiffs' Exhibit 126?

MR. NOVIK: That's correct, your Honor.

THE COURT: Page what?

MR. NOVIK: Page 187.

A: The continuation, I'm citing from an article by Christopher Weber called Common Creationist Attacks on Geology.

THE COURT: Is that an exhibit?

MR. NOVIK: It's Plaintiffs' Exhibit 127, your Honor.

THE COURT: From what page are you reading?

A: That is on page 21, if I'm not mistaken. 21 and 22. It continues on 22.

Q: Professor Gould, while the Court is making that notation, if I might simply state, if you could slow down your answers a little, the court reporter might be able to—

A: I apologize. My father is a court stenographer, and I should know better.

Q: Professor Gould, you've talked about the first two principles geologists rely upon to assign relative dates


Q: (Continuing) to this stratigraphic record. What is the third principle?

A: The third principle is biotic succession, which states that fossils occur in the same sequence everywhere in the earth.

For example, if we go to one place and examine a sequence of strata, and we find — Well, they don't have to be organisms — suppose we found bolts, nuts, and screws. Bolts in the oldest rocks, nuts in the rocks, on top of them, and screws in the rocks on top of them. By the principle of biotic succession, we would find that same sequence anywhere on earth.

If we went to another area, for example, we would find bolts at the bottom, rocks in the middle, and screws on top. And we use that to predict.

Suppose we go to another area and we find only one sequence with only nuts in it, we would predict that in rocks below that, if we dug, for example, we would probably find bolts, and then screws would be in rocks found on top of that.

Q: And is that what you find?

A: Yes, indeed.

Q: Everywhere in the—

A: Except when the sequence has been altered by folding or faulting, and we could determine that on other


A: (Continuing) grounds.

Q: In order to assign relative dates based on the sequence of fossils, is it necessary to assume that the fossils in the higher strata evolved from the fossils in the lower strata?

A: Certainly not. It's merely a question of preserved sequence. You don't have to assume any theory or process at all. It could literally be bolts, nuts, and screws. If they compared the same sequence everywhere, we could use them.

Q: So is the creation science claim that the assumptions of evolutionary theory are essential to the relative dating of the stratigraphic record correct?

A: No. It's a red herring. The stratigraphic record is established by observation and superposition.

Q: When were those relative dates first established?

A: In broad outline, the geological column was fully established before Darwin published The Origin of Species. And I might add, was established by scientists by the most part who did not believe in evolution, didn't even have the hypothesis available.

In fact, some of the scientists who first worked on the geologic problem didn't even believe that the fossils they had been classifying were organic. They really did see them as so many nuts, bolts and screws, and yet recognized


A: (Continuing) that you could date rocks thereby.

Q: And is that knowledge of when the relative dates were first assigned widely known?

A: Indeed.

Q: Do creation scientists refer to that at all?

A: Not that I've seen.

Q: Is there any other evidence in the fossil record which is inconsistent with flood geology?

A: Yes. I think the outstanding fact of the fossil record is the evidence of several periods of mass extinction during the history of life. And by mass extinction, your Honor, I mean that you will find at a certain level in the geological column, a certain strata in rocks of the same age, the simultaneous last occurrence of many forms of life; that you would never find any of them in younger rocks piled on top of them.

The two most outstanding such extinctions are the one that marked the end of the Permian Period, some two hundred twenty-five million years ago when fully fifty percent of all families of marine invertebrates became extinct within a very short space of time. The other major extinction, not quite as tumultuous, but in effect was more famous, was the one that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous, some sixty-five million years later. The dinosaurs became extinct then, as well as


A: (Continuing) several invertebrate groups, including the amniotes. That posed a problem for the creation science literature I've read, because they want to see the entire geological column as the result of this single flood of Noah, and they are expecting a more graded sequence. Due to hydrodynamic sorting or differential intelligence, you wouldn't expect these several episodes of mass extinction.

Q: How do creation scientists explain away the evidence of repeated episodes of mass extinction?

A: In the literature that I've read, in a most remarkable way, considering that this is the outstanding fact of the geological records paleontologists study. Simply by not referring to it.

In Scientific Creationism, by Henry Morris, again, what he does is merely to cite from a newspaper report coming, at least from a science newspaper, a secondary news journal, not even from the primary literature, one single citation in which he misquotes a scientist to the effect that perhaps these extinctions don't take place.

And he then argues, `You see, there weren't any such extinctions anyway,' which I think makes a mockery of hundreds of volumes of scientific literature devoted to the study of mass extinctions and their causes.

Q: Is the flood geology proposed by creation


Q: (Continuing) scientists a new idea?

A: No, it isn't. It was proposed more than a hundred and fifty years ago, tested and falsified. It was, in fact, the subject of intense geological discussion in England in the 1820's. It was assumed by many of the early geologists particularly the Reverend William Buckland, the first professor, the first reader of geology at Oxford University— Now, he didn't try to claim the whole geological column was the result of this single flood, out he did try and argue that all the upper strata were products of a single flood. And indeed, he wrote a book called The Reliqwae Deluviavi, or the relics of the flood, in 1820 to argue that.

That proposition was extensively tested throughout the 1820's and falsified, because scientists, including Buckland, who came to deny his previous assertion, found that all the strata that they assumed were the same age and a product of a single flood, were in many cases superposed, and, therefore, represented many different episodes.

Now, we know today that they, in fact, represent the remains of glacial ages, not floods, and that there were several ice ages. Indeed, in 1831, the Reverend Adam Sedgwick, then president of the Geological Society of London, read in his


A: (Continuing) presidential address, his recantation of the flood theory. And I'd like to read it, because to my mind it's one of the most beautiful statements ever written by a scientist to express the true nature of science as a tentative and correctable set of principles. Adam Sedgwick, in the 1831 address, first of all, writes that the theory is falsified, and says, "There is, I think, one great negative conclusion now incontestably established, namely, that the vast masses diluvial gravel" — That's the name they gave to this strata they were trying to attribute to the flood — "scattered almost over the surface of the earth, do not belong to one violent and transitory period."

Then he makes what is one of my favorite statements in the history of science. He writes, "Having been myself a believer, and to the best of my power, a propagator of what I now regard as a philosophic heresy, and having more than once been quoted for opinions I do not now maintain, I think it right as one of my last acts before I quit this chair" — that is the chair of the Geological Society of London — "thus publicly to read my recantation. We ought, indeed, to have paused before we first adopted the Diluvian theory" — that was the flood theory — "and referred all our old superficial gravel to the actions of Mosaic flood. In classing together distant unknown


A: (Continuing) formations under one name and giving them a simultaneous origin, and in determining their date not, by the organic remains we have discovered, but by those we expected hypothetically hereafter to discover in them, we have given one more example of the passion with which the mind fastens upon general conclusions and of the readiness with which it leaves the consideration of unconnected truths."

Q: Professor Gould, in your professional opinion, has the flood geology theory required by a literal interpretation of Genesis been falsified?

A: Yes, it has, more than a hundred and fifty years ago. Nothing new has occurred since then.

Q: Is it consistent with a scientific method to persist in a theory that has been falsified?

A: Certainly not.

Q: Professor Gould, have you read Act 590's definition of creation science, as it relates specifically to paleontology?

A: Yes. Item 2.

Q: What does Act 590 provide with regards to paleontology?

A: It states explicitly that there are changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals, and then explicitly states there must be a


A: (Continuing) separate ancestry for man and apes.

Q: Have you read the creation science literature relevant to paleontology?

A: Yes, I have.

Q: Are Sections 4 (a), subdivisions 3 and 4 of the Act's definition of creation science consistent with that creation science literature?

A: Yes. The main point that that literature makes is how the existence of so-called gaps in the record — and by `gaps' we mean the absence of transitional forms linking ancestors and descendants — but the gaps in the record are evidence for the changes only within fixed limits of created kinds.

Q: Is that a scientific theory?

A: In its formulation, certainly not, because it calls again upon the suspension of natural law and the divine, or the creation by miracle, by fiat, of new forms of life.

Q: How does the creation science literature deal with the fossil evidence in this regard?

A: By selected quotation, by overstating the extended gaps, by not mentioning the transitional forms that do exist in the literature.

Q: Are there natural law explanations for these gaps in the record?

A: Yes, there are. Though there are gaps, and I don't


A: (Continuing) mean to say that every aspect within them has been resolved. But there are two major natural law explanations, the traditional one, and one proposed rather more recently, in part by myself.

The traditional explanation relies upon the extreme imperfection of the geological record, and the other explanation argued that the gaps are, in fact, the result of the way we expect evolution to occur. It's called the theory of punctuated equilibrium.

Q: Let's turn first to the imperfection in the fossil record. Would you please elaborate upon that explanation?

A: Yes. The fossil record is a woefully incomplete version of all the forms of life that existed. Some tiny fraction of one percent of all the creatures that ever lived have any opportunity of being fossilized. In most areas of the world rocks are not being deposited, but rather are being eroded.

Lyell expressed it in a famous metaphor, usually known to historians as the "metaphor of the book." Lyell argues that the fossil record is like a book of which very few pages are preserved, and of the pages that are preserved, very few lines, of the lines that are preserved, few words, and of the words, few letters.. We can well imagine that in such a book you would not be able to read a particularly complete story.


Q: Given the infrequency of fossilization, would scientists expect to find a complete record of the evolutionary process?

A: No, you would not.

Q: Would you please briefly explain the theory of punctuated equilibrium?

A: The theory of punctuated equilibrium, which is an attempt to explain gaps as the normal workings of the evolutionary process, begins by making a distinction between two modes of evolution. First, evolution might occur by the wholesale or entire transformation of one's form, one's species into another.

We maintain in the theory of punctuated equilibrium that that is, in fact, not a common mode of evolution, but what normally happens, the usual way for evolutionary change to occur, is by a process called speciation or branching. That it's not the whole transformation of one entire species into another, out a process of branching, whereby one form splits off. In other words, a small group of creatures may become isolated geographically from the parental population, and then, under this small isolated area, undergo a process of accumulation of genetic changes to produce a new species.

The second aspect of the theory of punctuated equilibrium— The first one is—


THE COURT: Did you say equilibrium?

A: Equilibrium. I did leave out a point there. That most species, successful species living in large populations, do not change. In fact, are fairly stable in the fossil record and live for a long time. The average duration of marine invertebrate species was five to ten million years. During that time they may fluctuate mildly in morphology, but most of them — I don't say there aren't exceptions — most of them don't change very much. That's what we would expect for large, successful, well-adapted populations. And that's the equilibrium part. By punctuation, we refer to those events of speciation where descendent species rather rapidly in geological perspectives split off from their ancestors. And that's the second point.

First, that evolutionary changes accumulate, not through the transformation of entire population, but through events of slipping, branching, or speciation. Then we have to look at the ordinary time course, how long the event of speciation takes. And it seems to be that it occurs probably on the average — there is an enormous variation — in perhaps tens of thousands of years. Now, tens of thousands of years, admittedly, is very slow by the scale of our lives. By the scale of our


A: (Continuing) lives, ten thousand years has been deceptively slow. But remember, we're talking about geological time. Ten thousand years, in almost every geological situation, is represented by a single bedding plane, by a single stratum, not by a long sequence of deposits.

And therefore the species forms in ten thousand years, although that's slow by the standards of our life, in fact, in geological representation, you would find all of that represented on a single bedding plane. In other words, you wouldn't see it.

What's more, if it's a small, isolated population that's speciated, then the chance of finding the actual event of speciation is very, very small, indeed. And therefore, it is characteristic of the fossil record that new species appear geologically abruptly. This is to my mind a correct representation of the way in which we believe the evolution occurs.

Q: Professor Gould, would it assist you in your testimony in explaining punctuated equilibrium to refer to a chart?

A: Yes. I have a chart that I presented to you. What we see here, your Honor—

MR. NOVIK: Professor Gould, let me state for the record, I am handing to you Plaintiffs' Exhibit 101 for


MR. NOVIK: (Continuing) identification.

Q: Does that exhibit contain a chart illustrating punctuated equilibrium?

A: Yes. I have two charts here. The first, your Honor, illustrates the principle of gradual-

Q: What page would that be?

A: That is on page 642. —illustrating the slow and steady transformation of a single population. The next page, page 643, illustrates punctuated equilibrium in which we see that in geological perspectives, though remember, we're talking about tens of thousands of years, that in geological perspective, species are originating in periods of time that are not geologically resolvable and are represented by single bedding planes and, therefore, appear in the record abruptly.

I might say at this point, if I may, that there are two rather different senses that would turn gap into record. The first one refers to an existence of all interceptable intermediate degrees. And to that extent, those are gaps, and I believe they are gaps because indeed, evolution doesn't work that way, usually. They are gaps because that is not how evolution occur. There is another sense of gaps in the record claiming, in other words, there are not transitional forms


A: (Continuing) whatsoever in the fossil record. It's, in fact, patently false.

Indeed, on page 643, if you consult the chart, we do display an evolutionary trend here on the right, and evolutionary trends are very common in the fossil record. Punctuate equilibrium does not propose to deny it. By evolutionary trends, we mean the existence of intermediate forms, structurally intermediate forms between ancestors in the sense that we don't have every single set, and we find transitional forms like that very abundant in the fossil record.

But the theory of punctuated equilibrium says that you shouldn't expect to find all interceptable intermediate degrees. It's not like rolling a ball up an inclined plane, it's rather, a trend is more like climbing a staircase, where each step would be geologically abrupt. In that sense that are many transitional forms in the fossil record.

I might also state that when the geological evidence is unusually good, that we can even see what's happening within one of these punctuations.

Q: Within one of these bedding planes, as you refer to it?

A: What is usually bedding planes, but in very rare geological circumstances, we have finer geological


A: (Continuing) resolution. Those ten thousand years may be represented by a sequence of deposits, and we can see what is actually happening within that interval of tens of thousands of years.

MR. NOVIK: Your Honor, I'd like to move that Plaintiffs' Exhibit 101 for identification be received in evidence.

THE COURT: It will be received.

Q: Professor Gould, you have testified that in some rare instances you can find actual evidence of punctuation; is that correct?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you give us an example of such?

A: There is one very good example that is published in Nature magazine by Peter Williamson. It concerns the evolution of several species of fresh water clams and snails in African lakes during the past two million years. At two different times water levels went down and the lakes became isolated.

Now, in lakes you often get much finer grained preservation of strata than usual, so you can actually see what's happening within one of these punctuations. So the lakes become isolated, and we can see in the sequence of strata the transformation of ancestors and descendants within a period of time that is on the order


A: (Continuing) of tens of thousand of years. I have submitted three photographs-

Q: Would it assist you in your testimony to refer to these photographs?

A: Yes, it would.

Q: Let me state for the record, Professor Gould, that these photographs have been previously marked as Plaintiffs' Exhibit 123 for identification.

A: In the first photograph, marked number one, you see, your Honor, on your left is the ancestral form. It's a snail that has a very smooth outline, and on your right is a descendant form that comes from higher strata. You notice that the outline is stepped, more like the Empire State Building, in a way.

The second photograph shows the actual sequence of intermediate forms. Again, on your left is the ancestor, on your right is the descendant. The three or four snails in the middle are average representatives from a sequence of strata representing tens of thousands of years. And the third, which is the most remarkable that we actually have evidence for the mechanism whereby this transition occurred, we have three rows there. The top row represents a sequence of representative series of snails from the lowermost strata, in the ancestral form. And you'll note that there's not a great deal of


A: (Continuing) variability. They all look pretty much alike.

On the bottom row are the descendant forms, the ones in the uppermost strata in this sequence, and they all, again, look pretty much alike, but they are different forms. These are the ones that have the stepped like outline.

In the middle row, notice that there is an enormous expansion of the variability. Presumably, under conditions of stress and rapid evolution, there are enormous expansions of variability. There you have a much wider range of variation. There are some snails that look smooth in outline, there are some that look pretty much stepped, and there are all intermediate degrees. Here is what happened, you get a big expansion of variability, and the natural selection or some other process eliminated those of the ancestral form. And from that expanded spectrum and variability, only the ones that had the stepped-like outline were preserved.

And in the sequence, we, therefore, actually see the process of speciation occurring. So it's not true to say that punctuated equilibrium is just an argument born of despair, because you don't see transitional forms. When the geological record is unusually good, you do, indeed, see them.


Q: Professor Gould, how does creation science deal with the theory of punctuated equilibrium?

A: From the literature I've read, it's been very badly distorted in two ways. First, it's been claimed that punctuated equilibrium is a theory of truly sudden saltation, that is, jump to a new form of life in a single generation. That is a kind of fantasy.

The theory of punctuated equilibrium doesn't say that. It merely says that the correct geological representation of speciation in tens of thousands of years will be geologically instantaneous origin.

The second distortion is to claim that under punctuated equilibrium we argue that entire evolutionary sequences can be produced in single steps. In the transition from reptile to mammal or from amphibian to reptile might be accomplished under punctuated equilibrium in a single step. That's manifestly false.

The punctuations in punctuated equilibrium are in much smaller scale record the origin of new species. And we certainly believe that in the origin of mammals from reptiles that many, many steps of speciation were necessary.

Again, as I said, it's like climbing a staircase. But believers and those who advocate the theory of punctuated equilibrium would never claim mammals arose from reptiles


A: (Continuing) in a single step. And yet that is how it's often depicted in the creation science literature. Can I give an example?

Q: Certainly. Let me offer you Plaintiffs' Exhibit 57 pre-marked for identification.

A: The Fossils: Key to the Present, by Bliss, Parker and Gish.

On page 60 we have a representation of punctuated equilibrium which distorts it exactly in that way. The diagram implies that the transition from fish to amphibian and from amphibian to reptile and from reptile to mammal and from mammal to man occur, each one, in a single step. And that, therefore, there are no transitional forms. The theory of punctuated equilibrium does not say there are no transitional forms. When we're talking about large scale evolutionary trends, there are many transitional forms.

MR. NOVIK: Your Honor, at this point, before we go on, I'd like to offer Plaintiffs' Exhibit 123, the photographs, in evidence.

THE COURT: They will be received.

Q: So the charts from creation science literature on which you are relying suggests that punctuated equilibrium would require great leaps from-

A: Yes. Single step transitions, in what we, in fact,


A: (Continuing) believe are evolutionary trends in which ancestor and descendent are connected by many intermediate steps. But again, they are not smooth, gradual transitions, because evolution doesn't work that way. It's more like climbing steps.

Q: And that's not what the theory suggests at all?

A: No.

Q: Does the fossil record provide evidence for the existence of transitional forms?

A: Yes, it does.

Q: Are there many such examples?

A: Yes, there are.

Q: Could you give us one example?

A: One very prominent one is the remarkable intermediate between reptiles and birds called Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx is regarded as an intermediate form because it occurs, first of all, so early in the history of birds. But secondly, and more importantly, is a remarkable mixture of features of reptiles and birds.

Now, I should say that we don't expect evolution to occur by the slow and steady transformation of all parts of an organism at the same rate; therefore, we find an organism that has some features that are very birdlike and some that are very reptile-like. That's exactly what we


A: (Continuing) would expect in an intermediate form, and that's what we find in Archaeopteryx. Archaeopteryx has feathers, and those feathers are very much like the feathers of modern birds. Archaeopteryx also has a so-called furcula or wishbone, as in modern birds.

However, in virtually all other features of its anatomy point by point, it has the skeletal structure of a reptile; in fact, very much like that of small running dinosaurs that presumably were their ancestors.

For example, it seems to lack the expanded sternum or breastbone to which the flight muscles of birds are attached. It has a reptilian tail. And detail after detail of the anatomy proves its reptilian form. Most outstandingly, it possesses teeth, and no modern birds possessed teeth. Archaeopteryx and other early birds possess teeth, and the teeth are of reptilian form. I can also say, though this is not the opinion of all paleontologists, but many paleontologists believe that if you study the arrangement of the feathers and the inferred flight musculature of Archaeopteryx, that it, in fact, if it flew at all, and it may not have, was a very poor flier indeed, and would have been intermediate in that sense, as well.

Q: How do creation scientists deal with this evidence


Q: (Continuing) of a transitional form?

A: Again, mostly by ignoring it. And using the specious argument based on definition rather than morphology -

Q: What do you mean by morphology?

A: Morphology is the form of an organism, the form of the bones as we find them in the fossil record.

In that sense, Archaeopteryx had feathers, and since feathers are used to define birds, that, therefore, Archaeopteryx is all bird, thereby neglecting its reptilian features. The question of definition is rather different from a question of the assessment of morphology. For example, Duane Gish, in Evolution: The Fossils Say No—

MR. NOVIK: That's Plaintiffs' 78 for identification, your Honor.

A: —says on page 90, "The so-called intermediate is no real intermediate at all because, as paleontologists acknowledge, Archaeopteryx was a true bird — it had wings, it was completely feathered, it flew. It was not a half-way bird, it was a bird."

And then for the most part just ignoring and not talking about all the reptilian features of Archaeopteryx, or by using another specious argument to get around the most difficult problem, namely, the teeth of Archaeopteryx.


A: (Continuing) Gish writes on page 92, "While modern birds do not possess teeth, some ancient birds possessed teeth, while some other did not. Does the possession of teeth denote a reptilian ancestry for birds, or does it simply prove that some ancient bird had teeth while others did not? Some reptiles have teeth while some do not. Some amphibians have teeth, out some do not. In fact, this is true throughout the entire range of the vertebrate subphylum — fishes, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves," — that is birds — "and Mammalia, inclusive."

That, to me, is a specious argument. It's just a vaguely important question. Yes, it's true, some reptiles have teeth and some don't. But the important thing about the fossil record of birds is that the only birds that have teeth occur early in the history of birds, and those teeth are reptilian in form. Thus, you have to deal with not just the issue of some do and some don't, and that is not discussed.

Q: Professor Gould, you have just talked about a transitional form, Archaeopteryx. Could you give an example of an entire transitional sequence in the fossil record?

A: Yes. A very good example is that provided by our own group, the mammals.


Q: Would it assist you in your testimony to refer to an exhibit?

A: Yes. I have a series of skulls illustrating the most important aspect of this transition.

Now, in terms of features that would be—

Q: Let me state for the record, Professor Gould, I have just handed you Plaintiffs' Exhibit 125 for identification.

Please continue.

A: Yes. In terms of the evidence preserved in the morphology of bones which we find in the fossil record, the outstanding aspect of the transition from reptiles to mammals occurs in the evolution of the jaw.

The reptilian jaw, lower jaw, is composed of several bones, and the mammalian lower jaw is composed of a single bone called the dentary.

We can trace the evolution of those lineages which gave rise to mammals a progressive reduction in these posterior or back bones of the jaw, until finally the two bones that form the articulation or the contact between the upper and lower jaw of reptiles becomes smaller and smaller and eventually becomes two or the three middle ear bones, the malleus and incus, or hammer and anvil, of mammals. And you can see a progressive reduction in the charts I've supplied. The first animal, Dimetrodon, is a member


A: (Continuing) of a group called the pelycosaur, which are the ancestors of the so-called therapsids or the first mammal like reptiles.

And then within the therapsids you can trace the sequence of the progressive reduction of these post dentary bones until — and this is a remarkable thing — in advanced members of the group that eventually gave rise to mammals, a group called the cynodonts. In advanced members of the cynodonts, we actually have a double articulation, that is, a double jaw joint. It is one formed by the old quadrate and articulate bones, which are the reptilian articulation bones, the ones that become the malleus and incus, the hammer and the anvil, later. And then the secondary articulation formed by the squamosal bone, which is the upper jaw bone of mammals that makes contact with the lower. And at least in these advanced cynodonts, it seems by a bone called the surangular, which is one of the posterior post-dentary bones, and then in a form called Probainognathus, which is perhaps the most advanced of the cynodonts, you get, in the squamosal bone, the actual formation of what is called the glenoid fossa, or the actual hole that receives the articulation from the lower jaw.

And in Probainognathus, it's not clear. Some paleontologists think that the dentary was actually


A: (Continuing) already established, the contact. In any event the surangular seems to be in contact. And then in the first mammal, which is called Morganucodon, the dentary extends back, excludes the surangular and you have the complete mammalian articulation formed between the dentary of the lower jaw and the squamosal of the upper jaw.

Now, Morganucodon, it appears the old quadrate articulate contact is still present, the bones that go into the middle ear, although some paleontologists think that, in fact, that contact may have already been broken, and you may have this truly intermediate stage in which the quadrate and articular are no longer forming an articulation, but are not yet detached and become ear bones.

I might also state that if you look at the ontogeny of the growth of individual mammals and their embryology, that you see that sequence, that the malleus and incus, the hammer and anvil, begin as bones of the jaws. And in fact, in marsupials, when marsupials are first born, it is a very, very undeveloped state that the jaw articulation is formed still as in reptiles, and later these bones actually enter the middle ear.

Q: Now, Professor Gould, you've used a lot of technical terms here. If I understand you correctly, the

Transcript continued on next page