For years, I've heard people reciting the statistic that 99% of all species that have ever lived are extinct. I heard it often enough that I assumed it must have some merit but I never really bothered to look into it at first. When I did investigate the claim, I saw that, like most secular theories of our origins, it was mostly smoke and mirrors. It's sort of like the false claims that human and chimp DNA is 99% similar or that 99% of all scientists believe in evolution. There's an old joke that says 99% of all statistics are just made up on the spot! In this case, that's not far off.
For a while, I looked at the absurd estimates of the number of extinct species in the same light as the scientific evidence for Big Foot: namely, that it's junk science but there's really no harm in it. However, I've been coming around, lately, to the realization that the inflated number of species is being used as evolutionary propaganda. For example, I've heard more than one person ask what's the point of God creating all these species only to have 99% of them go extinct? Such questions seek to cast doubt on a belief in creation. However, there's a far more devious implication in the inflated number that had completely escaped my notice until now.
According to Wikipedia: More than 99 percent of all species, amounting to over five billion species, that ever lived on Earth are estimated to be extinct. Estimates on the number of Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described.
I'm not sure who is in charge of checking math at Wikipedia but he's slipping. 10 million is 1% of only 1 billion so I'm not sure where they are getting the 5 billion number. Actually, the whole passage is poorly worded. What do they mean, “... estimated to be extinct”? Are they extinct or not? They mean to say, “an estimated 99% of all species... are extinct.” I know I have misspellings and typos on my blog but jeez!
But I digress.
Anyway, did you notice how even the number of species living currently is only estimated to be 10-14 million? The number actually identified is only around 1.2 million. They're taking a guess – perhaps a reasonable guess but still a guess – as to how many other species haven't been discovered yet. It's almost certain there are species we haven't discovered but another 10 million or so of undiscovered species is probably a little generous. Even so, let's go with that number.
From another Wiki article, we find that, “the number of species known through the fossil record is less than 5% of the number of known living species.” From that sparse sentence, it's hard to estimate how many species we're talking about. Five percent of 1.2 million is only 60,000. Five percent of 10 million is 500,000. I've heard various estimates about the number of species identified in the fossil record and it's only around 250,000. Again, for the sake of argument, let's say it's more like the 500,000. So, we have 1.2 million named living species and another 500,000 species known from the fossil record. That totals only 1.7 million of species known to exist.
Here's where things start to get devious.
We have identified approximately 1.7 million species yet evolutionists estimate there have been as many as 5 billion that have lived. However, there is no fossil trace for 99.99966% of the species evolutionists have alleged. Why not? Evolutionists claim it's due to the extreme imperfection of the fossil record. In other words, since fossilization is such a rare event, most species that lived never left a fossil. Hmm. That could explain it... or maybe it could be that the other 99.99966% of species never even lived!
How do they get such a high estimate? It all has to do with their assumptions – primarily their assumptions about the age of the earth. It works sort of like this: if life began 1 billion years ago, and if the average species only appears during 5 million years in the geological record, then all species have been replaced around 200 times. If there are 10,000,000 identified species (an inflated number to begin with), that means there must have been 2 billion total species that have lived! Get it?
You might still be asking me what is so devious about this. Well, it's a couple of things. First, if creationists were to believe that 99% of all species have gone extinct, then we're tacitly conceding the long ages assumed by evolutionists. The earth is not billions or even millions of years old. An earth that's only thousands of years old means most of the species that have lived are still alive!
The other thing about the claim is that, if it were true, then the fossil record truly is imperfect and would only preserve less than 1% of the transitions between a modern species and its ancient ancestor. One weakness of evolution is the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. If we believe so few species are preserved as fossils, we're basically giving evolutionists an excuse for not having fossil evidence for a critical part of their theory.
There is no evidence that billions of species have existed. The belief they existed is merely a consequence of evolutionary theory. It's voodoo science. The observable, testable evidence is better explained by creation: the earth is thousands of years old, most of the species that have ever lived are still alive, and the fossil record is remarkably complete yet shows a glaring lack of transitional forms.