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"Recapitulation" (also called the "biogenetic law" or "biogenic law") is the evolutionary theory that, at different stages in your embryonic development in your mother's womb, you had the organs of your forebears. But this ridiculous speculation has been repeatedly shown to be untrue by reputable scientists. Here are some of their comments. Evolutionary theory is a myth. God created everything; the evidence clearly points to it. Nothing else can explain the mountain of evidence. This is science vs. evolution—a Creation-Evolution Encyclopedia, brought to you by Creation Science Facts.

CONTENTS: Scientists Speak about Recapitulation

Introduction - Zeal to prove evolution got the idea started
Scientists Deride the Theory - They declare it to be utter nonsense
Facts and Questions - The scientific evidence does not agree with the theory
Evolutionists Refuse to Accept the Facts - They continue to teach and publish this error
Conclusion - The theory has been utterly rejected by competent scientists

This material is excerpted from the book, RECAPITULATION. An asterisk ( * ) by a name indicates that person is not known to be a creationist. Of over 4,000 quotations in the books this Encyclopedia is based on, only 164 statements are by creationists. You will have a better understanding of the following statements by scientists if you will also read the web page, Recapitulation.


Zeal to prove evolution got the idea started.

"The fertilized egg cell contains in its tiny nucleus not only all the genetic instructions for building a human body, but also a complete manual on how to construct the complex protective armamentarium—amnion, umbilical cord, placenta, and all that makes possible the embryo's existence in the womb."—*Life, April 30, 1965, pp. 70, 72A.

"Biogenetic Law, or Recapitulation Theory, was considered by Darwin to be `second to none' as an evidence of evolution."—H.M. Morris, W.W. Boardman and R.F. Koontz, Science and Creation (1971), p. 45.

"According to it, ontogeny, the development of the individual recapitulates phylogeny, the development of the race . . In this form the theory runs into so many difficulties it clearly cannot be true. An immediate problem is presented by the fetal membranes, the umbilical cord, and other fetal structures that cannot represent adult structures of any period. Furthermore, mutations have been shown to modify all stages of development, not just the final ones."—*G.B. Moment, General Zoology (1958), p. 201.

"The theory of recapitulation was destroyed in 1921 by Professor Walter Garstang in a famous paper; since then no respectable biologist has ever used the theory of recapitulation, because it was utterly unsound, created by a Nazi-like preacher, named Haeckel."—*Ashley Montagu, debate held April 12, 1980, at Princeton University, quoted in L.D. Sunderland, Darwin's Enigma, p. 119.

"The rapid development of this science [of embryology] was due principally to the enthusiasm created by the spreading of the theories announced by Darwin and Haeckel, and that the `almost unanimous abandonment' of the recapitulation theory has left considerably at a loss those investigators who sought in the structure of the organisms the key to their remote origin or to their relationships."—*A.Weber, quoted in E.R. Hooper, Does Science Support Evolution? (1947), p. 75. [*Weber is at the University of Geneva.]


They declare it to be utter nonsense.

"What is it [evolution] based upon? Upon nothing whatever but faith, upon belief in the reality of the unseen—belief in the fossils that cannot be produced, belief in the embryological experiments that refuse to come off. It is faith unjustified by works."—*Authur N. Field.

"The pharyngeal arches and clefts [creases] are frequently referred to as branchial arches and branchial clefts in analogy with the lower vertebrates, [but] since the human embryo never has gills called `branchia,' the term pharyngeal arches and clefts has been adopted for this book."—*Jan Langman, Medical Embryology, 3rd ed. (1975).

"Seldom has an assertion like that of Haeckel's `theory of recaptitulation,' facile, tidy, and plausible, widely accepted without critical examination, done so much harm to science."—*Gavin de Beer, A Century of Darwin (1958).

"As a law, this principle has been questioned, it has been subjected to careful scrutiny and has been found wanting. There are too many exceptions to it."—*A.F. Huettner, Fundamentals of Comparative Embryology of the Vertebrates, p. 48.

"The theory of recapitulation . . should be defunct today."—*Stephen J. Gould, "Dr. Down's Syndrome," Natural History, April 1980, p. 144.

"This law has been seriously questioned and is so obviously inapplicable in many instances that as a law it is now of historical interest only."—*W.R. Breneman, Animal Form and Function (1954), p. 407.

"[The] biogenetic law has `been demonstrated to be wrong by numerous subsequent scholars,' according to Bock, who was a biology professor at Columbia . .

"Raup and Stanley call the biogenetic law `largely in error'; Ehrlich and Holm note its `shortcomings' and its place in `biological mythology'; Danson says that it is `intellectually barren'; de Beer refers to the `evidence against the "biogenetic law" of recapitulation in Haeckel's sense'; Encyclopedia Britannica calls it `in error'; and even Mayr of Harvard describes the biogenetic law as `invalid.' In fact, Haeckel, the formulator of the "biogenetic law,' supported it with `faked' drawings."—W.R. Bird, Origin of the Species Revisited, Vol. 1, pp. 196-197. [See Bird for sources.]

"Anatomically homologous parts in different related organisms appear to have quite different embryonic origins. This is almost impossible to reconcile with orthodox Darwinian or neo-Darwinian theory, and it is by no means evident at the time of writing how such problems may be overcome."—*D. Oldroyd, "Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution: A Review of Our Present Understanding," Biology and Philosophy (1986), p. 154.


The scientific evidence does not agree with the theory.

"A number of questions have been asked by serious scholars: First, if the developing embryo is supposed to reenact the stages in the evolutionary history of the race, why are so few stages included? Why would we find some of them appearing in the wrong order? Why should we not find thousands of steps instead of only a few? Why does the embryo go through some stages that could not possibly have been included in the history of the animal? How can such stages as the egg, larva, pupa, and adult of a butterfly be explained? Why do some parts of an embryo show recapitulation and other parts never show it?"—*Cora Reno, Fact or theory? (1953), p. 69.

"One favorite example was the human heart. Supposedly, the heart passed through a worm, fish, frog, and reptile stage before reaching its final form. It is true that at one stage or another the heart in the human embryo has one chamber (as in the worm), two chambers (as in the fish), three chambers (as in the frog), and four chambers with the connection of the two sides (as in the reptile). But it should be noted that the heart in human beings starts out with two chambers which fuse into one for a time. This sequence actually reverses the stages of supposed evolution. There are reasons for each stage. The `reptile stage' is necessary to shunt the blood around the lungs until after birth. Since oxygen is received from the placenta before birth there is no use in sending a large supply of blood to the lungs when it is not needed."—J.N. Moore and H.E. Slusher, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity (1970), p. 424.

". . so that the facts as we know them lend no support to the theory of recapitulation."—*A. Sedgwick, Darwinism and Modern Science, p. 174.

"We see the development in the amniotic embryo of three successive kidney structures: pronephros, mesoniphros, and metanephros. It is often stated or implied that these three are distinct kidneys that have succeeded one another phylogenetically as they do embryologically. However, there is little reason to believe this. The differences are readily explainable on functional grounds."—*A. Romer and *T. Parsons, The Vertebrate Body (1986), p. 407.

"After fifty years of research and close examination of the facts of embryology, the recapitulation theory is still without satisfactory proof."—*A. Sedgwick, Darwinism and Modern Science, p. 176.

"Structures as obviously homologous as the alimentary canal in all vertebrates can be formed from the roof of the embryonic gut cavity (sharks), floor (lamprys, newts), roof and floor (frogs), or from the lower layer of the embryonic disc, the blastoderm, that floats on the top of heavily yolked eggs (reptiles, birds). It does not seem to matter where in the eggs or the embyros the living substance out of which homologous structures come from. Therefore homologous structures cannot be pressed back to similarity of position of the cells of the embryo or the parts of the egg out of which these structures are ultimately differentiated."—*Gavin R. de Beer, Homology, An Unsolved Problem (1971), p. 13 [italics his].

"Now that the appearances of the embryo on all stages are known, the general feeling is one of disappointment; the human embryo at no stage is anthropoid [animal-like] in its appearance."—*Sir Arthur Keith, quoted E.R. Hooper, Does Science Support Evolution? (1947), p. 76.


They continue to teach and publish this error.

"The biogenetic law was widely accepted by biologists and served as the basis for the surge of embryological research that continues unabated to this day. Moreover, the biogenetic law has become so deeply rooted in biological thought that it cannot be weeded out in spite of its having been demonstrated to be wrong by numerous subsequent scholars. Even today both subtle and overt uses of the biogenetic law are frequently encountered in the general biological literature as well as in more specialized evolutionary and systematic studies."—*W. Bock, "Book Review," Science, May 1969, pp. 684-685 [Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University].

"This generalization was originally called the biogenic law by Haeckel, and is often stated as `ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.' This crude interpretation of embryological sequences will not stand close examination, however. Its shortcomings have been almost universally pointed out by modern authors, but the idea still has a prominent place in biological mythology."—*Paul R. Erlich and Richard W. Holm, Process of Evolution (1963), p. 66.


The theory has been utterly rejected by competent scientists.

"It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny."—*George Gaylord Simpson and *William S. Beck, Life: An Introduction to Biology (1965), p. 241.

"The theory of recapitulation has had a great and, while it lasted, regrettable influence on the progress of embryology."—*Gavin R. de Beer, Embryos and Ancestors (revised ed., 1951), p. 10.

"Well, the biogenetic law—embryologic recaptulation—I think was debunked back in the 1920's by the embryologists."—*Dr. David Raup, as taken from page 16 of an approved and verified transcript of a taped interview conducted by Luther D. Sunderland on 27 July 1979. See also Luther D. Sunderland, Darwin's Enigma (1984), p. 111.

"Surely the biogenic law is as dead as a doornail."—*Keith Stewart Thomson, "Ontogeny and Phylogeny Recapitulated," American Scientist, May-June 1988, p. 273.


To the next topic in this series:

HAECKEL'S FRAUDULENT CHARTS Here is the story behind this one of many evolutionary frauds.