The Fish That Could Walk

Ok, I am finally getting around to writing the follow-up to my previous post. I don’t recall exactly what got me thinking about evolution, but something sparked my thinking on the subject. I spent the majority of my drive home from Muncie one evening about two weeks ago mulling it over and came up with a few things to seemed to be very contradictory to me. So, I drafted a very brief story to demonstrate some of the thoughts I had, and what you got was my previous post.

For me, everytime I think about a creature evolving, I picture in my mind the famous “Darwin fish” — a prehistoric sea bass with four legs, gills, and lungs creeping up out of the water onto dry land for the first time. Now, I realize that my little story had some theoretical problems with it, even from an evolutionary perspective. But it was fun to write and I knew I would never be
able to briefly encompass all my thoughts, so that was what you got. Let me try to elaborate the logical order with which my thoughts progressed.

So, you have this fish, four legs, lungs, gills, able to live both in water and dry land, the first of his species (one would suppose) to have evolved and adapted to a harsh environment. Questions come to mind: How was he able to grow legs and lungs? Did his parents have such organs first, perhaps underveloped ones? Was his aquatic environment too harsh to survive in, thus forcing his evolution to a new species? And if so, why didn’t the rest of his species die off completely? Were they also able to adapt? How long did this adapatation take? One generation? Multiple generations? If multiple, then how were they able to adapt quickly enough to avoid being annihilated? See, the problem for me is that evolutionary scientists assert that physical evolution takes millions, billions of years. That would suggest that for one species to take the next evolutionary step would require at the minimum a couple of thousand years, hardly what I would consider ‘fast’ adaptability to harsh conditions. If I’m not mistaken, evolutionary change is only stimulated as a result of a need to adapt, a need to survive or be destroyed utterly as a species. If that is the case, the evolutionary changes required of a species would take far too long to be beneficial.

In the case of my story example, we have a fish that has evolved at least some of the necessary physiology to survive on land, the first of the lizards. As FKIProfessor has pointed out, the fish’s changes would have had to have developed prior to his emergence from the water onto land, thereby indicating that its ancestors would have had to have encountered the land first and have failed to survive on it. Would every successive generation have then tried for the land, only to fail but at least cause their own genetics to ‘adapt’ a little more by developing new organs adapted to land? (And by the way, how would the genetics have known what to change in order to be suited to life on land?) Also, the mating drive (which was something I was definitely trying to point out in this story) poses an additional problem. There would have had to have been a ‘first’, a creature who emerged from the water ahead of the others. Would it have been alone, the only one of its generation to do so? Or would there have been others who had
evolved at the same time? Where would these new creatures have mated? Would they have been suited for mating on land? And LeiraHoward pointed out a number of good questions, as well.

Ultimately, I found the idea presposterous at least because of its contradictions — evolution that takes far longer than it should in order for a species to survive; the source of food for a new species and its ability (or lack thereof) to catch it; the idea that the genetics of the species would ‘know’ how best to adapt to a completely foreign environment; etc. In essence, I discovered that there would still have had to have been intelligent design behind the whole
thing because there is no way that genetics alone could have known either what adaptations to make in the species or could have randomly figured it out in time for the species to survive the hostile conditions from which it was trying to escape. I know that some of the questions I posed above could be answered from an evolutionary theoretical perspective (I could answer them myself), but I don’t know that it could answer all of them satisfactorily or resolve the seeming contradictions in theory. Again, I find that it takes far more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creation of the universe and all things in it by an intelligent, living, creative being.

Thanks for indulging this up-and-coming author in a bit of creative, speculative license, and thanks for the comments that came back. It’s always fun to get feedback from real, thinking people.

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