Two weeks ago, a Swedish team revealed that, while sifting through sediment near Loki’s Castle, a field of hydrothermal vents in the Arctic Ocean, they had discovered metagenomic evidence of a hitherto unknown phylum of the kingdom Archaea. This phylum straddles the line between prokaryotes, simple single-celled organisms which have no nuclei or organelles, and eukaryotes, the domain of more complex organisms that also contains all multicellular life. Some publications have gone so far as to describe this phylum — Lokiarchaeota, named after Tom Hiddleston’s character in “The Avengers” — as the “missing link” in eukaryote evolution, even though personally I wish they wouldn’t, because usually use of the term “missing link” causes creationists to put on their Denouncing Hats and start shrieking.
Curiously, creationists haven’t yet weighed in on this discovery. Perhaps they’re waiting for Answers in Genesis to write a blog post indicating the Official Creationist Position on Lokiarchaeum. Or maybe they just haven’t yet noticed; considering many creationists still maintain that rock can’t bend, a phenomenon which was described a century ago, it’s fair to conclude that it takes creationists a while to catch up with the scientific zeitgeist.
Whatever the reason for their delay, though, I can hazard a guess what creationists will say once they finally get around to saying something about Lokiarchaeum: “God made it that way.” Sure, evidence of single-celled life with primitive organelles appears to support evolution, and is exactly what evolutionary theory predicts and requires, but it’s also perfectly consistent with an omnipotent, whimsical being who just magically whips up life that appears to have transitional features because why not. Never mind that six-limbed mammals, bats that lay eggs, lactating invertebrates, and birds with compound eyes would also be perfectly consistent with a supernatural, omnipotent creator and yet completely devastating to evolutionary theory, and that, in His divine wisdom, God chose only to make organisms that fit flawlessly within the nested hierarchy that evolutionary theory demands.
The strength of evolutionary theory is that it can’t explain all conceivable evidence. What it does is explain the evidence that actually exists and provide a framework for new predictions. We will never dig up a fossil of a six-limbed mammal. If evolution is true, there can be no such thing. Creationism can make no such predictions. And since the creator they worship restricts His creative vision to only those organisms which could have naturally evolved, perhaps in an effort to trick people, that makes God a bit sneaky, doesn’t it? Kind of mischievous.
Not unlike Loki.