Colin Patterson, Ph.D.


Imperial College, London (1955–1957)

Zoology, First Class Honors

University College (1961)


British Museum of Natural History, London (1962-1993)

Senior Principle Scientific Officer in the Paleontology Department

Patterson, an avowed evolutionist, jolted a distinguished audience of scientists assembled at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, November 5, 1981.

Missing Transitionals

Dr. Colin Patterson, distinguished evolutionist researcher and author, shocked colleagues by expressing serious doubts about evolution theory in a 1981 lecture. To the dismay of colleagues committed to Darwinian thought, Patterson publicly questioned whether evolution should be taught in high schools.

Patterson, sent shivers through academic establishments when he publicly released his range of reservations about evolutionism, including personal doubts about missing transitionals. His blunt assessment raised eyebrows.

“Gould and the American Museum people are hard to contradict when they say there are no transitional fossils… I will lay it on the line—there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”1

He described “evolution as faith…evolution does not convey any knowledge, or if so, I haven’t yet heard it…One morning I woke up, and something had happened in the night, and it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years, and there was not one thing I knew about it.”

“It does seem that the level of knowledge about evolution is remarkably shallow… Most of us think that we are working in evolutionary research. But is its explanatory power any more than verbal?…Evolution not only conveys no knowledge, but seems somehow to convey anti-knowledge, apparent knowledge which is actually harmful to systematics… During the last few years, if you had thought about it at all, you’ve experienced a shift from evolution as knowledge to evolution as faith. I know that’s true of me, and I think it’s true of a good many of you in here.”2

  1. . . Colin Patterson letter to Luther D. Sunderland, 10 April 1879, quoted by Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin’s Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems (San Diego: Master Books, 1988) 89, cited by James Perloff, The Case Against Darwin (Burlington, Massachusetts: Refuge Books, 2002) 40.
  2. See Colin Patterson, lecture, “Can You Tell be Anything About Evolution,” as transcribed by Wayne Frair and reported in “Bridge to Nowhere,”, Autumn, 2004 Edition. Some of Patterson’s comments were excerpted for publication in Warren L. Johns’ Beyond Forever as published in November 2006. In August, 1993, Patterson offered some afterthoughts.

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