Gradualism versus Punctuationism
Although modern evolutionists are thought to be divided on the issues surrounding evolutionary theory, a close look at the evidence suggests that both the gradualist school of thought and the punctuationist school of thought share many characteristics in common. This is especially true when evaluating their beliefs about the fossil record, disagreement with the theory of saltation, and the misinterpretation of the word "rapid" in terms of punctuationist theory. Although this may be the case, the two theories do diverge on one important point, the notion of periods of stasis, but when taken as a whole, the evidence suggests that punctuationism is not as radical as it has been hyped up to be. In terms of evaluating both arguments, it is important to dispel the some common myths about punctuationist theory. First, there appear to be many large gaps in the fossil record (Dawkins, 1986). Both gradualists and punctuationists agree that the only explanation for these apparent gaps, besides the notion that there are gaps in the record, would be creationism. Creationism holds that the reason for the appearance of largely different organisms in the fossil record, without organisms that display intermediate amounts of change is the presence of a divine creator. Neither gradualists nor punctuationists agree with this assumption. In addition, when comparing the theories of gradualism with punctuationism, it is important to evaluate the theory of saltationism. Although punctuationists have often been confused with saltationists, this is a huge mistake. Saltationism holds that macromutations are the cause of evolutionary change (Dawkins, 1986). This could make sense when viewed in the context of the fossil record. Saltationists would argue that there really are no gaps in the fossil record. The dramatic changes noted in the fossil record would be products of macromutations which are signs of natural selection. This cannot be the case for...
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