Butterfly Larva

Why Metamorphosis Does Not Disprove Evolution

In Articles, Christian News, Featured, Science and Technology by JD Rucker16 Comments

I tried. I really did. I searched Google and Wikipedia for keywords – every variation I could think of – that could demonstrate how insect metamorphosis such as the life stages from caterpillar to butterfly does not disprove the theory of evolution. As a Creationist, it’s important that I understand the thinking behind opposing views before trying to write a counterargument. In this case, there wasn’t a lot to go on. Evolutionists have been strangely silent on this issue.

There were a handful of scientific explanations dating all the way back to to 17th century and as recently as last year that attempted to tackle the concept. Most were clear that they had holes in their own explanations. Some had already been completely debunked. A few had been removed from scientific journals because they couldn’t stand up to peer review.

As an credible biologist today would tell you, there’s no accepted explanation for the process of metamorphosis fitting into the theory of evolution. The closest thing to a universally accepted response is that 280 million years ago a chain reaction of mutations occurred that now account for 40%-60% of the species development processes around the world.

The reason that metamorphosis does not disprove evolution isn’t rock solid evidence. It isn’t from a lack of effort; scientists have been tackling the question for centuries and continue today to understand it. No, the real reason that metamorphosis does not disprove evolution is because it would cause a cataclysmic demolition of the most commonly accepted worldview. Today’s society isn’t ready to abandon evolutionary theory any faster than 16th century society trying to abandon the Ptolemaic model of geocentrism.

It’s common for Creationists to point to Charles Darwin’s own words and apply them to metamorphosis:

IF it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.

Evolutionary scientists have regretted these words for decades. They say that Darwin should not have made such an absolute statement because there is clear evidence that some organs and even species themselves developed without slight modifications but rather through holistic changes to their biology brought about by mutations that worked in their favor. In the case of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, the series of slight modifications that would have had to transpire would have had to occur simultaneously… literally thousands of them… across multiple species… and the accelerated evolutionary transitions would have had to stop abruptly… and…

The list goes on and on.

There is one theory floating around today that is the closest that scientists have come to offering a feasible explanation. According to Scientific American:

Perhaps 280 million years ago, through a chance mutation, some pro-nymphs failed to absorb all the yolk in their eggs, leaving a precious resource unused. In response to this unfavorable situation, some pro-nymphs gained a new talent: the ability to actively feed, to slurp up the extra yolk, while still inside the egg.

It is a wonderful theory, not because it might actually be true, but because it is just enough to suspend the disbelief of those who would start to question evolutionary theory if they weren’t blinded by the masses. Evolution simply doesn’t work to explain many of today’s most pressing questions. The more that biologists learn, the more they have to continue to patch holes in the theory. Unfortunately, they are blinded by precedence and the risk of their worldview crashing (not to mention nefarious outside forces at work) so they’re still, for the most part, following along the lines of “evolution works because it explains most of what we can observe in animals today.”

What you won’t read in any evolutionary science publication is that 40%-60% of the species known to man could not possibly have evolved under any circumstance. They can take the evolution of the eye, for example, through the various evolutionary steps from where we are today all the way back to the simple eyespot, but nobody can explain why the eyespot evolved in the first place. If there was no organ that was capable of detecting light, how did an ancient organ evolve in the first place? Was it a “speculative evolution” – in other words, did it evolve because the DNA thought that light might exist and therefore something needed to be built in order to detect it?

There is a more important component to Darwin’s Difficulties of the Theory that is often overlooked:

It is now known that some animals are capable of reproduction at a very early age, before they have acquired their perfect characters; and if this power became thoroughly well developed in a species, it seems probable that the adult stage of development would sooner or later be lost; and in this case, especially if the larva differed much from the mature form, the character of the species would be greatly changed and degraded.

In layman’s terms, what Darwin is correctly asserting is that the theory of evolution takes the path of least resistance to achieve the goal. If it is assumed that somehow larva emerged from eggs before they had developed into their “perfect character” (in this case, a butterfly) and were able to survive for sufficient amounts of time, they would have genetically abandoned the butterfly stage altogether over time. If the 280 million year assertion is utilized for the argument, then by now the larval stages would have evolved reproductive organs rather than the painstaking process of evolving the pupal stage of transition into their perfect character.

Darwin’s most correct statement is that most if not all butterflies would have become obsolete by now and would have been degraded. They would not exist, not after 280 million years. A reproducing larva is more sustainable from an evolutionary perspective than the complex process required to keep the species alive today.

Normally, time is the big equalizer when it comes to attacks on Creationism. Evolutionists have the perception that, given enough time that humans are unable to fully contemplate, anything is possible. In the case of the butterfly, time is not on their side. One might even argue that it acts as evidence for the young earth theory… but that’s a whole other topic.

(This article is part of the Compassion and Fear Series)


  1. The caterpillar is the seed (child) of what develops into it!s full maturity as a butterfly. Only a seed can reproduce from itself not something else. Just as a seed of faith (children of Christ) have to grow into full beings in Christ.

  2. Pingback: The Unaddressed Evolutionary Challenge of the Eye's Origins

  3. This is far from being hushed up. Scientists enjoy what is not fully understood because it is what drives them to discover more. Just because we do not fully understand how these processes occur or developed doesn’t disprove evolution.
    Here are a few resources to look at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10519548
    (I’m sure that you have access to science journals, right?)


    Enjoy the knowledge!

    1. Author

      Thank you for the information, John. We do have access to science journals and, ironically, referenced your link in the original article that I assume you either didn’t read or perhaps simply forgot that we referenced them. We’re very familiar with the wife/husband duo who wrote the article and the paper that you reference in your comment, including the understanding that they have since shifted gears to stem cell research after being unsuccessful in their endeavors to solve the metamorphosis issue.

      1. Hi JD,
        I saw the Scientific American article referenced, and posted it because it is not as you say “just enough to suspend the disbelief of those who would start to question evolutionary theory”. Again since we do not understand it yet, does not mean that it is impossible or improbable to have developed through evolution. No one that understands how scientific discovery works is going to call Theory of Evolution false because we do not have all the answers to metamorphasis’ origins yet. Science is about finding out the unknown!
        The article is not meant to be a fully encompassing theory as to how metamorphasis came about, but has some interesting postulations of what possibly happened.

        I was unaware of the author’s work in stem cell research. That is good though, stem cells carry great potential to advancing humanity!

    2. I read the Scientific American article. All conjecture. And they don’t even try to tackle the fact that the catapiller actually dies before it takes on it’s change. 95% of it’s actual mass becomes soup. How do you ‘gradually evolve step by step’ that?

  4. Good article! There is no conclusive evidence showing that metamorphosis was a feature likely to evolve. At best, all the ideas I have heard so far regarding the idea of metamorphosis are faith-based postulations as to what possibly may have happened. I would call such a complex and efficient design what it is: a design, which obviously reveals the existence of a designer.

  5. *At best, all the ideas I have heard so far regarding the EVOLUTION of metamorphosis are faith-based postulations as to what possibly may have happened.

  6. Once again God of the Gaps is called upon when we have not yet solved a complex problem — a god that is constantly diminishing as science and understanding reduce his regime.

    Intelligent design is not benign
    It reaches its heights
    In Parasites!!

    1. How is God of the Gaps any different than “Naturalism of the Gaps”. A god that is constantly diminishing as science and understanding reduce his regime? Have you been keeping up to date on the publications coming out the past 20 years, the further we get into Cosmology, Biology, and Chemistry, the more questions we have regarding chemical and biological systems that we see today on planet earth, especially as a product of chance and time.

      Bacterial models trying to replicate these mutational changes over constricted periods of time are making it harder and harder to believe it happening without God. Someone has monkeyed with physics.

    2. Christians never use the God of the gaps. God is in every tiny detail. And your throwing stones from your glass house. You also have a god of the gaps. TIME. If you don’t understand it and you can’t explain it, just throw time at it. Time not only soothes emotional pain, it creates a variety of living things man can’t even understand, much less duplicate.

  7. I see absolutely nothing in the development of metamorphosis which is inconsistent with the theory of evolution. The early development stage which all complex lifeforms go through simply extended in some species to form independent larvae. They ultimately develop into the adult form, using cells which are present all along. Those which form pupae or cocoons do so because it offers extra protection during a vulnerable period. The reason these animals were successful is that they were able to access more food and therefore increase their survival rate.

    The details are still being studied, but the principle is clear and aligns exactly with evolutionary theory.

  8. Daniel C.

    Naturalism, as you call it, is the default position. We are natural beings in a natural universe. Why would we view things automatically non natural? What reference point do we have to make that type of assessment with no evidence?

    Cosmology, Biology and Chemistry DO NOT support intelligent design. That’s just wishful thinking.

  9. Christians never use the God of the gaps. God is in every tiny detail. And your throwing stones from your glass house. You also have a god of the gaps. TIME. If you don’t understand it and you can’t explain it, just throw time at it. Time not only soothes emotional pain, it creates a variety of living things man can’t even understand, much less duplicate.

  10. This does not disprove the TOE because nothing can disprove the theory. It is effectively unfalsifiable. It allows for any and everything. Those that tout the theory always have imagination to make up something ad hoc and save the theory. The overwhelming evidence of stasis in the fossil record gave rise to Punctuated Equilibrium which is just a fairytale within a fairytale. It tried to allow for very rapid change in a extremely small amount of e evolutionary time, but there just is no mechanism that will support it. So then it’s back to gradualism, but the fossil record just doesn’t support that so evidence contrary to the theory is just plainly ignored.
    Those who hold the theory near and dear to their heart will never abandon their fictional theory.
    The will keep coming up with imaginary scenarios to keep the theory on life support.
    And whe new discoveries like soft tissue in dinosaur bones comes along, they have to suspend common sense and reason in favor of fairytale. They are so indoctrinated they have to abandon real science and common sense.
    I mean it doesn’t take a genius to figure out you could never get an inert molecule like DNA to spontaneously form at the exact same perfect time that a cell would have had to spontaneously form. The chicken and egg conundrum going on between DNA and the cell is the first clue that an unguided process of evolution is ludicrous.

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