I graduated with my geology degree in the year 2000 and of course I still remember most of what my professors drilled into me about rocks, dinosaurs and evolution. One of the key phrases I was made to memorize is “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Weird, huh? Say that to your friends three times fast and they might commit you to a mental institution.
This strange phrase has a specific meaning: embryological development (ontogeny) progresses through (recapitulates) the same changes that occurred during evolution (phylogeny). Basically, evolutionists believed (and some still believe) that in the womb vertebrate embryos progress through the previous stages of evolution before developing into a vertebrate (an organism with a backbone).
Too bad this idea is completely false. And the research this theory was originally based on was fraudulent.
Called the biogenetic law, this theory was first published by Ernst Haeckel, a German biologist, in 1866. Haeckel produced a series of drawings to prove his theory. These drawings were discredited as early as 1874 and yet the sketches found their way into a 1901 book called Darwin and After Darwin. Ever since then, these drawings have been cited in textbooks everywhere as fact and proof of evolution.
The textbooks I studied to get my geology degree included Haeckel’s drawings. It made sense to me, as someone who believed in evolution, that you would be able to see evidence of it in embryos. I had no idea I was looking at false evidence.
Even today, many biology textbooks will say evolution is evident in embryological development, although they wisely leave out Haeckel’s drawings. But even this isn’t true. Early vertebrate embryos are quite different. Haeckel faked the evolutionary progression by obscuring the differences and highlighting the similarities between embryos of fish, salamander, turtle, chicken, pig, cow, rabbit and humans. He even changed the scale, in one case where the difference in size was 10 fold, to make the embryos appear similar (for a picture of Haeckel’s drawings compared with the actual embryos click here, it’s the second set of pictures).
Why would Haeckel misrepresented these embryos? To prove the case of a common ancestor.
In 2000, shortly after I graduated, Stephen Jay Gould (a committed evolutionist) went on record saying that scientists should be ashamed of the “century of mindless recycling” that led to these drawings being used in modern textbooks. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
What could lead to over a hundred years of belief in a fraudulent idea? Commitment to the ideology of evolution.
What do you think? Why would scientists look past the evidence (or not examine it close enough) to recognize such a fraud?