IN OUR TIME: FUNGI

Fungi are not plants, as we often suppose. They aren’t animals or bacteria: they are a kingdom all on their own. And when we see a toadstool while wandering in the forest, we’re only seeing the tip of the fungal iceberg, because under the ground it consists of a network of fine filaments, which may stretch a very long way…

There are millions of species of fungi. Fungi or their spores are literally everywhere: you have some on you, and you can find them on the poles. But perhaps the most interesting fact about them, and again, one which most of us are unaware of, is that without them, there could be no life on earth. Readers of my last post will recognize this recurring fact from other aspects of nature, which I’ve summarized when I’ve critiqued the popular radio documentary, “In Our Time”. Please don’t misunderstand me: I really love to listen to this program. It’s fascinating, stimulating and educational, as true science always is, although In Our Time does discuss other subjects besides science. My only problem with the show (actually it’s a benefit to me) comes when the panel of learned evolutionists being interviewed reveals, usually unintentionally, the distinct lack of evidence that there is for the evolution of life and the many natural phenomena which make up our world and cosmos.

When one member of the panel is asked about the relevance of fungi to the history of life in earth, he tells us that fungi are responsible for “the greening of the earth”. That is, when plants moved from water onto land for the first time, “four hundred and fifty million years ago”, they were aided indispensably by fungi. Fungi provided vital nutrients for these primitive plants, which weren’t yet able to cope with growing out of water, he said. Once helped up onto land, plants were able to diversify, said the expert. As with many kinds of life, plants and fungi “evolved” a symbiotic relationship: ninety percent of plants have a co-dependent relationship with fungi today.

Melvyn the host, in the necessity of his role in the show, then asks the expert how they know about this event, in which fungi helped plants to go terrestrial: how did they find out that this happened? A good question indeed.

The answer seems at a casual listen to be convincing. But if you really listen, and listen between the lines, you can hear that there’s something wrong.

There are some remarkable fossils which demonstrate this transition and symbiosis, says the guest, and one in particular is dated to around four hundred and twenty million years old. Ooh! This sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It sounds like, goodness me, they really have evidence for evolution, and we’re just about to learn of it. But wait.

These fossils are incredibly well preserved specimens of early plants and plant roots, says the expert. And when you look into them, the fungi are right there. This is how the answer was worded:

They don’t just contain fossilized plants, but you can actually see evidence inside the root system of structures that are remarkably similar to the structures that you see today in modern-day plants”.

The first thing I noticed here is that fungi dated at almost half a billion years old “are remarkably similar to the structures that you see today in modern-day plants”. So they haven’t changed in all that time! Aren’t they supposed to be evolving and changing constantly? Shouldn’t they be different now-more advanced, more complex, or even almost unrecognizable in comparison to their ancient counterparts? True, the plants they are found in are said to be “early”: could we perhaps just replace that word with “extinct”? And if they had these complex and modern-looking fungi inside them, didn’t they have to be themselves pretty complex to host the fungi?

The second thing I noticed here is that the fully-formed fungus is there in the fully-formed roots. There is no partial inhabitation; no transition; no half-formed fungi, and no half-occupied host plant. Nothing new to see here!

Thirdly, there is no evidence offered or even mentioned, in this discussion of fungi by three evolutionists, of the evolution of fungi. They just appear, “remarkably similar” to their modern counterparts, and don’t demonstrate any development from simple cells, or simple forms…or transitions into anything else.

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