God of evolution
Time has long been an important subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars. ... One view is that time is part of the fundamental structure of the universe—a dimension independent of events, in which events occur in sequence. ... The opposing view is ... that time is neither an event nor a thing, and thus is not itself measurable nor can it be travelled.
Dr Cherry Lewis, University of Bristol, UK, said: "The age of the Earth was hugely important for people like Darwin who needed enormous amounts of time in which evolution could occur. As Thomas Huxley, Darwin's chief advocate said: 'Biology takes its time from Geology'."
Time is the inherent evolutionary variable. Nothing evolves without its passage. From seconds to millions of years, evolution requires time.
The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at least once phenomena, time is on its side. However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at-least-once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough. ... Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the "impossible" becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait; time itself performs the miracles.
To change something like a cat into something like a dog through artificial selection involves modifying not just its morphology, but its physiology, its brain, its neurology, and its (hard-wired) behavior. That would take a gazillion generations of artificial selection. I have no doubt we could do this had we thousands or tens of thousands of years to do that kind of breeding, but a) we haven't because b) nobody's interested in doing that.
It is not so much that the process of natural selection is hard to understand, or that it could be responsible for "simple" adaptations like antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Rather, it is whether there has been enough time for such a process to create all the complex adaptations we see around us.
On the other hand, it is manifestly impossible to reproduce in the laboratory the evolution of man from the australopithecine, or of the modern horse from an Eohippus, or of a land vertebrate from a fish-like ancestor. These evolutionary happenings are unique, unrepeatable, and irreversible. ... the applicability of the experimental method to the study of such unique historical processes is severely restricted before all else by the time intervals involved, which far exceed the lifetime of any human experimenter.
...our conclusion is that when one takes account of the role of natural selection in a reasonable way, there has been ample time for the evolution that we observe to have taken place.
Wilf and Ewens also make unrealistic biological assumptions that, in effect, simplify the search. They assume no epistasis between beneficial mutations, no linkage between loci, and an unrealistic population size and base mutation rate, thus increasing the pool of beneficial mutations to be searched. ...they assume that each evolutionary "advance" requires a change to just one locus, despite the clear evidence that most biological functions are the product of multiple gene products working together. Ignoring these biological realities infuses considerable active information into their model and eases the model's evolutionary process. ... Thus, just as Wilf and Ewens are wrong to assume that every intermediate phrase has meaning, so they are wrong to assume that every intermediate biological stage along some evolutionary pathway will be functional.
Winston Ewert, William A. Dembski, Ann K. Gauger, Robert J. Marks II - Time and Information in Evolution