Home » Intelligent Design » Extinction: A 62-million-year itch?

Extinction: A 62-million-year itch?

At Seed Magazine (June 29, 2009), Adrian Melott of “The Big Idea” asks, “Sometimes, something kills nearly all life on the entire planet. But is there a regular cycle to this creation and destruction of Earth’s biodiversity?”, arguing,

Fortunately, all known dips in biodiversity seem to be followed by periods of rapid diversification called radiations. It was the end-Permian event that allowed the dinosaurs to develop and flourish. Of course, yet another mass extinction ended their reign. In their place, birds and then mammals ascended. And now humans have emerged. But even with all our intelligence and technology, we still don’t really understand what causes extinctions or radiations.

One of the big mysteries associated with these phenomena is also a key question for life’s future: Do they occur with any regularity? If we discovered a cycle to these events, it might suggest what’s driving the changes on Earth, and what linkage, if any, they have to events elsewhere in the universe.

He plays with the idea of a 62-million-year cycle:

Soon I was losing sleep over something I’d read in a 2005 issue of Nature. Robert Rohde and his mentor, Richard Muller of UC Berkeley, had reported a fascinating cycle in biodiversity within a major compendium of fossil data sets, a regular 62-million-year rise and fall in the count of all kinds of creatures. They had explored several mechanisms to explain it and found them lacking, but both they and their editors deemed the signal so significant that it was published.

Hmmm. Scheduled renovations?

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13 Responses to Extinction: A 62-million-year itch?

  1. The next “scheduled renovation” is going to make all the rest pale in comparison;;

    in Revelation 21 the new heaven and the new earth have come, God the Father then brings heaven to earth in the New Jerusalem where He dwells with His own for eternity.

  2. Don’t you have a relevant YouTube link for that BA^77?

  3. Denyse,

    Hmmm. Scheduled renovations?

    Or perhaps some sort of genetic entropy phenomenon?? I wonder if Dr. Sanford has read this.

  4. db, if that was some type of snide comment on your part, I feel this scripture is appropriate in response to you.

    John 3:12
    I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

  5. db, if that was some type of snide comment on your part, I feel this scripture is appropriate in response to you.

    More just straight-up sarcastic. I suppose snide could apply though, if you like. Really, though, all I was doing was poking a bit of fun at your penchant for Argumentum Ad YouTube. You have to admit: you do do that a whole lot.

    John 3:12
    I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

    What earthly things have you mentioned here which I did not believe? I see two references to scripture, which, yes, I don’t buy, and an implied question of intent. But yes, I take your point: No YouTube for you! :(

  6. Even if there is are periodic extinction events every 62 million years or so, then it’s still extremely unlikely that we will see one within the next, oh, say, 10,000 years (unless we cause it ourselves of course).

    Given a few more decades–or centuries, if you like–there will be very few types of extinction event that we won’t be able to avoid or prevent. Asteroids and comets will likely be no problem within the next 100 years. Others, like supervolcanoes or some heretofore other geological event will take longer, but we’re likely to have colonized space (and perhaps Mars) by then, and will probably have plenty of advanced warning in order to prepare evacuations on a large scale.

    If the trouble comes in the guise of an energetic gamma ray burst, then we’re in trouble, but even then, we’re talking about events happening on a geological timescale (e.g. a million years from now) and if we’re not ready for something like that by then, I suspect we’ll not going to be around to worry about it anyway.

  7. What make me laught is that the same people that tells us that mass extinctions are communs and that it’s for the greater good (we wouldnt be here…) are the same fearing that climate change might kill off or destroy most life on the planete.
    When you tell them that according to their theories climate change should be good for life ultimately they tell you that climate change is too sudden (and man-like)for life to “adapt”.
    Well, dinosaurus allegedly got extinct after a huge meteorite collided with the Earth. Most of life then was exterminated in less of a day. And then -allegedly- rapid diversification that lead to mammals, birds, humans, etc.. Looks to me that we should endevor to accelerate climate change!!
    I’m surely going to do my bit for “biodiversity” today: I’m going to take my car to go to work!!!

    My theory why more and more people believe in Evolution even though most arguments are so silly that even a 12 years-old can rebuke them. Something like half of human population live in town, out of touch with Nature. They have forgotten how beautiful and cleverly designed the world is.
    No wonder that God was furious when Nimrod build Babel…

  8. Kyrilluk,

    When you tell them that according to their theories climate change should be good for life ultimately they tell you that climate change is too sudden (and man-like)for life to “adapt”.
    Well, dinosaurus allegedly got extinct after a huge meteorite collided with the Earth. Most of life then was exterminated in less of a day. And then -allegedly- rapid diversification that lead to mammals, birds, humans, etc.. Looks to me that we should endevor to accelerate climate change!!

    That’s a great point. A consistent Darwinist would of course welcome a catastrophic asteroid impact because it (theoretically) would lead to greater biodiversity, as you mentioned. I wonder why we never hear Dawkins or Myers admit this publicly??

  9. 10

    …it’s for the greater good (we wouldnt be here…)

    That paranthetical note supplies the important context here. From an evolutionary point of view mass-extinctions (or any extinctions at all for that matter) are neither good nor bad. They simply are. They are not necessary for life as a whole to continue, and they are not deleterious to life itself as is evidenced by the fact that life existed/exists before, during and after such events. It’s only good or bad when considered from the point of view of a specific species such as oh I don’t know…just choosing at random here, humans for instance.

    People consider past mass-extinctions a good thing because they paved the way for the appearance of humans on earth. The same logic says that another mass-extinction would most likely be a very bad thing. Why? Because in all probability “we wouldn’t be here” after such a mass-extinction.

    Both of these conclusions are based on a view of humans as somehow worth special consideration. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that view in and of itself. However, it must be recognized that it’s a view that is independent of evolution, which does not care one way or another about any specific species, including humans.

  10. Herb says: “A consistent Darwinist would of course welcome a catastrophic asteroid impact because it (theoretically) would lead to greater biodiversity, as you mentioned. I wonder why we never hear Dawkins or Myers admit this publicly??”

    To echo Kris Sensored’s point, this doesn’t follow at all. Just because a mass extinction might lead to greater biodiversity doesn’t mean that a scientist would want that to happen. I think it is perfectly consistent for someone to say, “Our species might go extinct as part of some cycle of extinction and regeneration” AND say “I really hope that never happens and I hope we can prevent it.”

    The question of whether evolution is a fact is independent of whether we like it or not.

  11. KRiS_Censored:

    Both of these conclusions are based on a view of humans as somehow worth special consideration. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that view in and of itself. However, it must be recognized that it’s a view that is independent of evolution, which does not care one way or another about any specific species, including humans.

    Hear, hear! (my emphasis added)

    My question is, what do mass extinctions tell us about the limits of the Designer’s capabilities, or its ability to predict future disasters? Or is there some strange way in which the Designer would intend them, creating multitudes of species for eventual destruction? Why? (It ultimately has to be one or the other.)

  12. @Lenoxus:
    This is an interesting question: why a designer would destroy some of its creation? I imagine that more need to be learn about it (maybe that Dinosarus wouldn’t have been a good species to live with, I don’t know).
    However, it doesnt say anything about its ability to predic the future given the fact that we don’t quitte know why he created these creature in the first place.

    @KRiS_Censored:
    I don’t know many scientists that would be against a greater bio-diversity…

    As for the argument that evolution (…) does not care one way or another about any specific species, including humans., I agree, in theory. I remember having spoken to an evolutionist telling me that evolution doesn’t have a particular direction.
    In reality though, it just happen that after each mass extinction, what take the place of the old species were new more sophisticated,prettier and clever species (no offence to the dinos…but I prefer birds).

    So to say that there nothing special about human or about the way evolution seems to produce more advanced system as time goes by (even though it’s not supposed to) is to a bit … hum..defying any rationality.

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