Evidence for Evolution
Given all of this, it does not seem that a lack of fossil evidence should lead to the conclusion that evolution did not occur. However, there is in fact a great deal of fossil evidence for evolution—but it’s not of a kind that is immediately recognizable by the layperson. This means that to the average person trying to argue against evolution on religious grounds, the fossil argument actually seem to work in their favor.
But does it really? In fact, the fossil record can tell us quite a bit about evolution, and the record is highly consistent with the way evolution is thought to work.
Simply looking at the diversity of life—particularly the genetic diversity—is in itself evidence for evolution, and it is easily possible to find plenty of evidence for evolution with ever considering fossils. Examining fossil evidence does provide one important advantage, however, in that it allows us to actually look at the past, where the vast bulk of human (and non-human) evolution took place.
The simplest fossil evidence for evolution is simply that the fossil record suggests that life appeared incrementally, with simple organisms appearing first, and more complex organisms evolving over time. The rock that fossils are embedded in (and the fossils themselves) can be dated, and in most cases these dates support the idea that the simpler organisms appeared much earlier than the more complex varieties.
There are some gaps in the fossil record—most likely due to the conditional requirements as explained above—and some other anomalies, such as the Cambrian explosion, a period of time around 530 million years ago in which complex life forms appeared rapidly, whereas only very simple life forms had existed prior to that time. Overall, however, the fossil record is highly suggestive of a long series of small changes which occurred very gradually.