Home » Intelligent Design » The Three Fallacies of Evolution

The Three Fallacies of Evolution

We routinely hear that the biological evidence proves evolution, beyond any shadow of a doubt. Recently PZ Myers made this claim for the fossil evidence and Sean Carroll for the molecular evidence. These evidences are often debated and discussed, but what is often missed is that this evolutionary reasoning is illogical to begin with. Philosophical failure is not a good starting point for discussion. Any debate needs to start with a clear understanding of the evidence and what it means. Unfortunately, such a starting point is difficult to come by. In fact, three different fallacies are routinely at work in the evolution genre. Here are quotes from Myers and Carroll, and an explanation of the fallacies.

Read more here.

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83 Responses to The Three Fallacies of Evolution

  1. So with marsupial fossils from 40 million years ago found in South America, and in Australia from 20 million years ago – and then (based on evolutionary theory) 30 million year old marsupial fossils are predicted to be found in Antarctica (which joined South America and Australia 30 million years ago in the supercontinent of Gondwana) – and the predicted marsupial fossils are then found…does that somehow offer no proof of evolution?

  2. Dr Hunter,

    In Fallacy 1 you say that the fossil and genetic evidence does support the claims of Myers and Carroll, but in Fallacy 2 and 3 you say that there is much evidence that does not support those claims. Since the claims involve a universal nested hierarchy, I would expect that even one “rabbit in the Cambrian” would disprove these claims. So is your statement in F1 correct, and the fossil and genetic evidence supports evolution, or is F2 and 3 correct and the evidence does not support evolution? It sounds like you are trying to have it both ways.

    I think you are more correct with F1, that the evidence supports evolution, but logically there could be another explanation which also explains all of that evidence, plus other evidence that evolution doesn’t explain. What is your opinion of a credible alternative?

  3. From the linked page:

    In the fossil record, for instance, increasing complexity, decreasing complexity, rapid appearance, trees, bushes, diversity explosions, stasis for eons can all fit within evolution’s broad and flexible imagination of what natural forces can do.

    Of course, if this is a “problem”, it’s a problem for any theory that accepts and tries to explain the fossil record… and I’ve never seen a single decent a priori reason why the Designer had life’s history go the way it did, and not some other way. Paleontologists can make amazingly specific predictions about the time and place a transitional organism appeared, whereas ID still seems to be making up its mind as to whether transitionals exist in the first place.

  4. If evolutionary theory is invalid because it affirms the consequent, then all science based on hypothesis testing is invalid. Newton used the same process of making a hypothesis P, determining its implications Q and then testing for Q. If Q is shown to be correct, then P is supported. If not, then P is rejected. do you really think that almost all science outside of descriptive studies are bogus because of a logical fallacy?

  5. @1.

    I think you are confusing evolution with migration. Evolution is the transformation of species into another. Migration is one species moving to another place.

    Were these marsupial fossils showing gradual change in form, or were they all very similar across the continents?

    ==============

    @3.

    Why is it a problem for ID? ID says that the appearance of new species in the fossil record-

    __/ \_____/ \____/ \___

    (nothing, nothing…explosion of species over brief time…nothing, nothing… explosion again, etc)

    - is difficult to have occurred from naturalistic processes, but that an intelligent, directed process is fully capable of causing this pattern.

    I would suggest working from the bottom up, rather than top down. That way you avoid presuppositions (e.g. “I don’t like/accept the proposed conclusion, therefore the data cannot match it!”).

    And I’ll also like to call you on your assertation about the predictive powers of paleontologists – could you provide examples of these places and times?
    It is just that if what you assert is true, then I am amazed that only a bare handful of “transitional” fossils have been found – and these are very much disputed within the paleontology community anyway :/

    ==========

    @4.

    It does not invalidate hypothesis testing.

    If you are familiar with the scientific method (from your reasoning this does not seem the case), then one of the most important parts is to limit as many variables as we can. This is in order to isolate a particular constant/factor/observation that we are testing.

    Probably the best example I can give is testing whether a heavier object falls faster than a lighter object, e.g. a hammer or a feather. We could assume that because the hammer falls faster, therefore heavier objects fall faster than lighter objects. But, once we eliminate variables such as atmosphere (e.g. perform the experiment on the moon; Apollo15), we see that both feather and hammer fall at the same rate, refuting that an object that weighs more accelerates faster when dropped.

    The problem with darwinian evolution ‘science’ is that it does not do this, instead taking what supports it (hammer falls faster than brick) and dismissing the (more numerous) detractors.

    And of course the observations don’t even line up with the original predictions (see my wonderful ascii art of the fossil record in my response to #3

  6. Footnote:

    Affirming he consequent is a common challenge of scientific thought.

    Arguments by explanation have a counter flow between the explanatory logic, from Hyp to facts and predictions, and the flow of empirical evidence, from observations to explanations. If Hyp THEN Obs (current and expected) does not mean that IF Obs THEN Hyp.

    That’s why scientific explanations are at best provisional and reliable against test, but are subject to correction in light of further observations.

    Confirmation bias then may blind us tot he crucial issue: scientific explanations are refutable by empirical evidence, not provbable thereby; though they may be shown reasonably reliable in a relevant domain.

    In that context, denial of counter-evidence becomes a serious problem, once anomalies pile up. And of course this takes us down the road travelled in part by Kuhn: at what point do we say ENOUGH for a paradigm? When do anomalies bring us to a point where a theory is in crisis and begs fro a revolution?

    One thing I know: imposing censorship by redefining science as applied materialism does not help us.

    GEM of TKI

  7. “Avonwatches” (#5) wrote: “And I’ll also like to call you on your assertation about the predictive powers of paleontologists – could you provide examples of these places and times?”

    Dr. Neil Shubin wrote a fascinating book, “Your Inner Fish” (described at http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/book.html ) about where a transitional fossil (which when found was named “Tiktaalik”) was predicted to be found. And it was.

    And if you are unaware of the predictive powers of paleontologists, I take it you are also unaware of the Journal of Paleontology – see http://www.journalofpaleontology.org, a publication of the Paleontological Society, which has been around a hundred years – see http://www.paleosoc.org.

  8. Khan,

    The theory of evolution is based on our ignorance.

    And it is our ignorance that allows it to “stay alive”.

    Why do I say that?

    Because no one on this planet knows whether or not the changes required are even possible.

    Also other ideas affirm the same consequent that the ToE does- meaning it doesn’t have anything exclusive.

  9. 2 : Nakashima @

    “What is your opinion of a credible alternative?”

    Yes I agree, the article claims that others options are possible, but sure most half intelligent persons realize this fact, but the ToE HAS THE MOST EVIDENCE. :)

    5 : Avonwatches @

    “(nothing, nothing…explosion of species over brief time…nothing, nothing… explosion again, etc)”

    For those unaware, ‘brief’ in this context means 50 million years, that’s if you were referring to the Cambrian explosion!

    “And I’ll also like to call you on your assertation about the predictive powers of paleontologists – could you provide examples of these places and times?
    It is just that if what you assert is true, then I am amazed that only a bare handful of “transitional” fossils have been found – and these are very much disputed within the paleontology community anyway :/”

    What are you saying? There are hundreds of transitional fossils, stop reading Kent Hovind and go find some real literate. If you not finding it you looking in the wrong place (and I cant be bothered to go find it for you. lol)

  10. sorry, typo, ‘find some real literature’

  11. Nnoel,

    What are you saying? There are hundreds of transitional fossils, stop reading Kent Hovind and go find some real literate. If you not finding it you looking in the wrong place (and I cant be bothered to go find it for you. lol)

    Oh boy. So you’re posing a positive argument yet refusing to be bothered to provide the evidence to back it up? That’s committing a big science no-no as the burden is proof is on you.

    Who told you that there are hundreds of transitional fossils? Care to cite any comprehensive lists of such fossils? I’m just curious, because according to Wikipedia, you could probably fit all of those “hundreds” of fossils into a walk-in closet; most of which fossils I would find questionable to begin with.

  12. *burden of proof*

  13. 13

    PaulN,

    There are certainly tons of transitional fossils regarding mico evolution- what some IDists and most creationists question is macro evolution or universal common ancestry. There have been some fossils found supporting this but those fossils such as the reptile/bird transition and some of the primate transitions are often called into question for several reasons.

    1. They either fit into one category or the other- meaning no clear cut middle of the road transitions are found. Lucy for example I think was about 3 feet tall – that is hardly close enough to a man to be conclusive for all skeptics. Not to mention even if the evolution is continuous scientists still say there was a first homosapien to be born called mitochondrial Eve. So you would need both the transition right before and the so called first homosapien to show that continuity- and until that point people can imagine a disconnected special creation via a common designer just as well as evolutionists can imagine a universal tree of life.

    and

    2. There seems to be very few of these transitional forms – and in the case of the whale mammal transitions they dont even have all of the skeleton of even one- when in fact animals that big should be easy to find transitions of. The argument that stasis seems to be the rule in higher taxonomic fossils is still very evident despite a few examples.

    When you have people as brilliant as Stephen Meyer still opening saying that he is not convinced of universal common ancestry you know there is probably a weaker case for it than is being advertised. SO those of us with lesser knowledge of all the fossils that have been found can rest assured that questioning macro evolution is not off limits yet- even if subsequent evidence does show that theory to be true.

  14. Nakashima:

    Since the claims involve a universal nested hierarchy, I would expect that even one “rabbit in the Cambrian” would disprove these claims.

    A rabbit in the Cambrian?
    Here’s what would happen upon such a dig: The strata would be reclassified by the Darwinists to fit the theory.
    It would no longer be Cambrian. Simple.

    How many times have such reclassifications actually occurred to skewer the real data? By the paleontologist or whoever pushing and pressuring for a different dating?

    I suspect a lot more than we think.

  15. 15

    I would like to also add that an extreme frustration that i have is that whenever a transitional fossil is claimed as proof of macro evolution they seem to always use pictures and drawings of the skeleton to prove their point. Then I would say about the 90% of the time they use skeletal replicas of the animals they claim to have fossils for- but rarely are they showing us the real fossils so we can take a look for ourselves and decide how transitional it really seems.

    Let me give the evolutionists some honest advice- if you want your truth to be known by all stop building replicas and drawing cartoons all the time- and spend more time showing us all of the overwhelming number of macro transitional fossils.

    Show me the common ancestor of dogs and bears. Show me the common ancestor of all dinosaurs- and explain why a one cell organism was able to evolve into a human being but mosquitoes have not evolved in 300 million years.

  16. Frost,

    Thanks for making that distinguishment. I’m sorry if I didn’t explicitly indicate that I was targeting solely fossils that would illustrate macro-evolution(Which to me is the primary issue I have with the ToE), in which case there certainly aren’t “hundreds” as proposed.

    Micro-evolution of course has not been argued, because not only is it empirically observable, but we have also observed the very reliable and consistent method in which it occurs. All of the changes we see are normally minor variations, but more importantly, even these expressed minor variations are derived from pre-existing information.

    There’s no arguing the fact that normally humans can range anywhere from 4 1/2 to nearly 8 feet tall. But this is not to say that if you found a short human in the fossil record that precedes a tall human who appears later on in the column, that this can be extrapolated to ape-likes evolving into humans. This applies to many of the other minor traits as well such as proportions, hair color, eye color, nose shape etc… From what we know and observe, there are genetic boundaries in which these traits can vary, and these boundaries are defined within the genetic makeup of the organism.

    Now if you want to argue the potential for mutations to break this barrier in any meaningful way, then that’s another discussion altogether.

  17. Borne,

    A rabbit in the Cambrian?
    Here’s what would happen upon such a dig: The strata would be reclassified by the Darwinists to fit the theory.
    It would no longer be Cambrian. Simple.

    Oh so true! Remember what happened when the T-rex soft tissue was found? The funny thing is that even more stringent research on the same fossil has been conducted to put the nail in the coffin of any objections. But of course this just means that hey, I guess soft tissues can survive over 65 million years after all! =P Apparently the power of the paradigm overrides the power of the evidence.

    http://creation.com/dinosaur-s.....nfirmation

    Sorry, my YEC view likes to surface now and again. Please don’t hit me!

  18. 18

    And show me good almost full skeletons – don’t show me a piece of bone the size of my pinky finger and claim it is the missing link between bacteria and man kind.

  19. 19

    Paul,

    “Now if you want to argue the potential for mutations to break this barrier in any meaningful way, then that’s another discussion altogether.”

    I never argue here because i am one not knowledgeable about such things at this time and two because i am convinced anyone can put together a hypothetical model of how anything could evolve into anyhting. Sure it is easier to evolve a chimp into a man than a horse into a man but what ID critiques is notion that it is rational to expect this to happen given the mechanisms of DE. Which it is not because you have insufficient mechanisms to break the probability barriers- which for me is almost always the care with evolution except very small changes observed under lab conditions with minimal intelligent intrusion.

    Ideas like irreducible complexity assert that certain biological mechanisms could not have evolved by chance in small gradual steps due to their complexity and the necessary function of the whole. This does not mean the systems cant be designed, built or even evolved- but that they cannot be evolved without some form of intelligent design bridging the gap of improbability. (at least i think I am explaining IC here correctly)

  20. Ah yes indeed, you’re speaking of front loaded design. I only really have one qualm though. How can one who acknowledges a grand designer who also acknowledges common descent hold a different position than the theistic evolutionist? Just curious because I always see theistic evolution carry a bad connotation around here, yet I fail to see how the TE position differs from the ID common descent position.

    Of course I’d be infinitely more apt to accept evolution as a product of careful planning and design over random natural processes. But then again, I think John C. Sanford makes the best case above most every other study I’ve seen so far which infers de novo creation followed by continual genetic decay.

  21. 21

    “How can one who acknowledges a grand designer who also acknowledges common descent hold a different position than the theistic evolutionist?”

    Well let me put it in vivid terms here and compare special creation to universal evolution.

    For the universal evolutionist the idea that life forms could emerge fully formed as if they were put there by a designer or creator is a supernatural claim.

    But for the creationist the idea that everything could have evolved without a guiding creator or designer is to them a super natural or even impossible claim as well.

    Both theories run into the same problem which is why ID is compatible with both. Special creation runs into the problem of improbable creation at the origin of the higher taxa- but evolution runs into the problem at the beginning of their cosmic natural selector called the big bang.

    The fallacy of unintelligent or non-teleolgical evolution is that everyhting is “explained” naturlaistically when infact their entrie theory relies on the biggest maricle of all- the manifest emergence of everyhting out f nothing.

    I have often said that the idea that the big bang could bring forth “everyhting” out of “nothing” is the single most illogical theory, idea, postion and or conception not just ever mentioned, but that could ever be.

    Everything out of nothing- the cosmic free lunch in the name of anti-intelligent evolution.

    So the point is if universal common ancestry is true it needs an intelligence to bridge the probability gaps between mutation/selection and it’s correlation to the fitness landscape and both theories require a machine or creator to bring forth their system into existence.

    SO theistic evolution is fine so long as it is supported within good evidence and acknowledges the need for evolution to be guided- which theologically mean that the creator is involved in it’s creation.

    There really is no good case for Deism- except to say God may not commit miracles which would be defined as acts which go outside a certain probability bound. But it would be a stretch to make such a case for Deism.

  22. 22

    I would also like to point out that there is mysticism on both sides- creationists say “God did it” as often their explanation and secular evolutionists like to say “we don’t know”- but neither answer is scientific- because if God did it we want to know how he did it (though it may be beyond our ability to understand or it may simply never be revealed) and if there is an unknown aspect of a secular theory we need to have that explained to accept that theory as a whole. To say you dont know and to say God did it is equally worthless though the theory of ID does rationally make a case for the requirement of a guiding designing intelligence – but not creation.

    Allow me to hypothetically speculate on how both modes of explaining the mystical could actually bump heads. Take the idea of special creation- that is God creates animals without a universal linage- and take the theory of Dark Matter in astrophysics. The theory of Dark Matter is supposed to explain why we have no evidence of most of the matter absolutely required for the big bang model to function-

    What if the missing dark matter/energy was actually somehow used or displaced though special creation events?

    This explanation would change physics as we know it and of course evolution and yet could help explain both and limit one theory by proving another.

    This is a real kind of problem with physics, evolution and reality- that is mysticism- actually with the unknown in general. We are dealing with mysticism on both sides. Creationism tends to welcome it while evolutionists reject it or write promissory notes that it will be uncovered my man. But in reality neither side knows what’s going on with the missing matter and energy- nor do they know how matter emerged- or what guides it and governs it’s manifested forms. Science does do the job of understanding mysticism- of lifting the vale a bit- but it needs to embrace its own limitations and admit what it does not know at present- and accept it’s fallibility and stop trying to declare itself an all seeing eye- because when that happens science reveals itself to be the very thing it rejects- a mystic.

  23. Borne wrote:

    A rabbit in the Cambrian?
    Here’s what would happen upon such a dig: The strata would be reclassified by the Darwinists to fit the theory.
    It would no longer be Cambrian. Simple.

    Indeed.

    This reminds me of a recent article by Jonathan Wells where he writes:

    Coyne goes on to discuss several “transitional” forms. “One of our best examples of an evolutionary transition,” he writes, is the fossil record of whales, “since we have a chronologically ordered series of fossils, perhaps a lineage of ancestors and descendants, showing their movement from land to water.”9

    “The sequence begins,” Coyne writes, “with the recently discovered fossil of a close relative of whales, a raccoon-sized animal called Indohyus. Living 48 million years ago, Indohyus was… probably very close to what the whale ancestor looked like.” In the next paragraph, Coyne writes, “Indohyus was not the ancestor of whales, but was almost certainly its cousin. But if we go back 4 million more years, to 52 million years ago, we see what might well be that ancestor. It is a fossil skull from a wolf-sized creature called Pakicetus, which is bit more whalelike than Indohyus.” On the page separating these two paragraphs is a figure captioned “Transitional forms in the evolution of modern whales,” which shows Indohyus as the first in the series and Pakicetus as the second.

    But Pakicetus—as Coyne just told us—is 4 million years older than Indohyus. To a Darwinist, this doesn’t matter: Pakicetus is “more whalelike” than Indohyus, so it must fall between Indohyus and modern whales, regardless of the fossil evidence.

    (Coyne performs the same trick with fossils that are supposedly ancestral to modern birds. The textbook icon Archaeopteryx, with feathered wings like a modern bird but teeth and a tail like a reptile, is dated at 145 million years. But what Coyne calls the “nonflying feathered dinosaur fossils”—which should have come before Archaeopteryx—are tens of millions of years younger. Like Darwinists Kevin Padian and Luis Chiappe eleven years earlier, Coyne simply rearranges the evidence to fit Darwinian theory.)

    Full Article

  24. “A rabbit in the Cambrian?
    Here’s what would happen upon such a dig: The strata would be reclassified by the Darwinists to fit the theory.
    It would no longer be Cambrian. Simple.”

    It used to be that evolution would be disproved if one found a rabbit in the precambrian. Regardless to say that finding a rabbit in the cambrian or the precambrian makes no difference. It is not possible for a rabbit to exist either in the cambrian or precambrian for the simple reason that would require the rabbit to exist before the phylum for the rabbit existed.

    In short the evolutionists posit something that is impossible as it”s standard for falsification!!!

    Vivid

  25. In short the evolutionists posit something that is impossible as it”s standard for falsification!!!

    Well of course, if the conditions for falsification actually fell within the realm of possibility then it would have been falsified 3 times over by now! =P

    This is why genetic entropy, the cambrian explosion, irreducible complexity, complex specified information, and the actual observed/tested effects of gross mutations within a wide range of experiments have not yet falsified it.

    Who needs all of that empirical data anyway? Evolution is true after all, so none of that stuff matters.

  26. 1 part presupposed truth, 2 parts broad/ambiguous conditions, variables, and forces, and 3 parts persuasive political/social dominion over all other propositions. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour and Voila! Your naturalistic unassailable theory is ready to be forc- errr served to the masses =)

  27. Mr Vividbleau,

    Why does this strike you as unusual? If it wasn’t “impossible”, it wouldn’t be contradictory to the theory and a disconfirmation. A single rabbit’s foot, a single flower petal would be disconfirmation.

  28. Mr Frost122585,

    Why are you fixated on the volume and weight of the fossils? You can be convicted on the basis of a fingerprint, a piece of hair, a drop of blood. The weight of evidence is no longer measured on a scale!

  29. Mr PaulN,

    Of all the plants and animals mentioned in the Bible, which do you think has the weakest support in the fossil record for gradual, macro-evolutionary change?

  30. 30

    Nakashima,

    ——”Why are you fixated on the volume and weight of the fossils? You can be convicted on the basis of a fingerprint, a piece of hair, a drop of blood. The weight of evidence is no longer measured on a scale!”

    We’re not talking about criminal forensics, where there is obvious Intelligent Design inherent in the crime, for if there weren’t, there would be no person to convict. Now if you want to say that the fossil record has some Intelligent Design inherent in the artifacts and their culmination, then the analogy to forensics is appropriate. Without ID, the analogy to forensics in the fossil record is a false analogy, for the false analogy would be that you could convict something that doesn’t exist, a phantom.

  31. 31

    PaulN,

    —–”1 part presupposed truth, 2 parts broad/ambiguous conditions, variables, and forces, and 3 parts persuasive political/social dominion over all other propositions. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour and Voila! Your naturalistic unassailable theory is ready to be forc- errr served to the masses =)”

    Well put.

  32. If it wasn’t “impossible”, it wouldn’t be contradictory to the theory and a disconfirmation

    Wouldn’t that be the same thing as saying that everything “possible” confirms the theory of evolution then?

    Looks like I might have to reformulate my previous recipe and add in a couple more parts presupposed truth. =P

    A single rabbit’s foot, a single flower petal would be disconfirmation.

    In the impossible scenario that someone were to actually find one of these items in the cambrian or the precambrian, do you really think that most of mainstream science would abandon the theory? I think Vivid’s original point is that even if you were to find something like this, then the theory would just be retrofitted to contour with the new data. When you presuppose the theory of evolution to be true, then there of course is no way to falsify it. Your logic will just remain along the lines of “I know this to be true, so lets see how the data can be reinterpreted to fit.” No matter how much contradictory evidence is presented within the realm of possibility, you won’t be able to abandon something that you have already accepted as reality, leaving only unrealistic or “impossible” means for falsification.

  33. 33

    PaulN,

    ——”This is why genetic entropy, the cambrian explosion, irreducible complexity, complex specified information, and the actual observed/tested effects of gross mutations within a wide range of experiments have not yet falsified it.

    Who needs all of that empirical data anyway? Evolution is true after all, so none of that stuff matters.”

    “The Bergsonian critique of orthodox Darwinism is not easy to answer. More disquieting still is Professor D. M. S. Watson’s defence. “Evolution itself,” he wrote, “is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or, can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation [and ID], is clearly incredible.” Has it come to that? Does the whole vast structure of modern naturalism depend not on positive evidence but simply on an a priori metaphysical prejudice? Was it devised not to get in facts but to keep out God?”
    ~C.S. Lewis, Is Theology Poetry?

  34. Mr Hayden,

    I was not making an analogy to forensics, I was pointing out that evidence comes in all shapes and sizes, and we now know that the most convincing evidence is not necessarily the heaviest.

  35. CS Lewis was correct to rebut an argument from incredulity. However I wonder what his response to this other, very similar sentence from DMS Watson’s same paper in Nature (1929) would have been?

    Evolution itself is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or is supported by logically coherent arguments, but because it does fit all the facts of taxonomy, of palæontology, and geographical distribution, and because no alternative explanation is credible.

  36. 36

    Nakashima,

    ——”Mr Hayden,

    I was not making an analogy to forensics, I was pointing out that evidence comes in all shapes and sizes, and we now know that the most convincing evidence is not necessarily the heaviest.”

    The most convincing evidence would be the heaviest, but since evolution doesn’t have it, they make analogous claims to trace evidence being “the best”, when, in reality, the analogy to trace evidence is a false analogy, and therefore the conclusion that “trace evidence” is the best has no purchase.

  37. but because it does fit all the facts of taxonomy, of palæontology, and geographical distribution, and because no alternative explanation is credible.

    From what I’ve seen so far, including what I’ve mentioned already, I believe this statement stands highly contested in and of itself. This statement is another truth claim that has been well disputed by various evidences in all 3 fields mentioned. So even though the sentence conveys a slightly different message in this case, the validity of the message still stands contested according to the evidence. Also the last sentence really does help to reveal the mindset carried out by the person who stated it in the first place, which in my opinion leaves it open for even more scrutiny.

  38. Oh, and thanks for the C.S. Lewis reference Clive, that hit the nail on the head!

  39. Clive,

    The most convincing evidence would be the heaviest, but since evolution doesn’t have it, they make analogous claims to trace evidence being “the best”, when, in reality, the analogy to trace evidence is a false analogy, and therefore the conclusion that “trace evidence” is the best has no purchase.

    are you then saying that, if we could get DNA from, for example, precambrian organisms it would be worse evidence than the fossils we have?

  40. 40

    Nakashima,

    ——”CS Lewis was correct to rebut an argument from incredulity. However I wonder what his response to this other, very similar sentence from DMS Watson’s same paper in Nature (1929) would have been?”

    It would have been the same. Emphasis on the “and because no alternative explanation is credible” showing the hand that is being played by Watson.

  41. 41

    Khan,

    ——”are you then saying that, if we could get DNA from, for example, precambrian organisms it would be worse evidence than the fossils we have?”

    Not at all. It would be good evidence. It would be good evidence that precambrian organisms had DNA :), but all we can do, so far, is collect fossils, and on that score, trace fossils are not “better” than full organisms, wouldn’t you agree? I mean, a jaw bone here, and an feather there, are certainly not to be preferred over a whole specimen.

  42. Clive,

    First, a jaw is not a “trace” fossil.. this term is reserved for marks in the substrate, e.g. burrows made by worms.

    second, of course a full skeleton would be better than a jaw bone. I don’t see anyone arguing with you there. but this doesn’t mean that “bigger” is always “better.” a fossil of a precambrian organism the size of a thumbnail may be many times more valuable than, say, a complete woolly mammoth skeleton.

    finally, can you take me off moderation? i have been commenting for at least 6 months now..

  43. 43

    Khan,

    You’re off moderation. I guess we need parse out size and importance. I never claimed that a larger sized specimen would be “better”, I only claim that a forensic view of evidence is not better, and that a complete specimen would be better also.

  44. 44

    “PaulN” (#11) wrote: “Who told you that there are hundreds of transitional fossils? Care to cite any comprehensive lists of such fossils?”

    It’s not hundreds…there’s lots more. Please take a look at Dr. Kevin Padian’s expert witness sworn testimony and slideshow which were part of his Federal Court appearance in the 2005 Dover trial – see http://ncseweb.org/news/2007/0.....ers-001159 . This provides many examples and a clearly understandable explanation of transitional fossils.

  45. Here’s a simple question for IDists regarding the nature of micro vs macro evolution.

    What mechanism is there in nature that actively limits microevolution from changing into macroevolution? This is decidedly the center of the debate, and it’s something the ID camp needs to answer.

    Microevolution and macroevolution are the same process in different scales; it is irrational to say that only one of them exists. When you seek to “refute” macroevolution, all you’re doing is reducing micro to a minimum effect and pushing macro to a maximum effect, when in fact there is a spectrum in between. And since creationist terms are perpetually undefined, it’s remarkably easy to employ a smokescreen and impossible to objectively determine what evidence would be required to support it. So now we’re asking you.

    When do two recently diverged species descendants become sufficiently distinctive that macroevolution has occurred? What is the minimal requirement?

  46. And is there any chance I could be taken off moderation also? I really have no idea why I was put on it in the first place.

  47. 47

    Nakashima wrote,

    “Why are you fixated on the volume and weight of the fossils? You can be convicted on the basis of a fingerprint, a piece of hair, a drop of blood. The weight of evidence is no longer measured on a scale!”

    Because universal common ancestry is not about finding a particular person based on their unique finger print- it is about showing a continuous transformation between species.

    Paulburnett,

    Why would make that claim above and than link to an article with no slides and no pictures?

  48. Because universal common ancestry is not about finding a particular person based on their unique finger print- it is about showing a continuous transformation between species.

    Who claimed continuity? The smallest possible change in a genome is a single nucleotide substitution. That is not continuous. It is a discontinuity.

  49. 49

    ALan,

    Is there an argument there? I am saying we need multiple fossils that show a linage. The continuity i am referring to is the continuous small scale change exemplified in fossils over millions of years as it pertains to one higher taxa orphing into anotehr.

    If you just have one or several ape like creatures that have close DNA signatures to human beings that is not enough to assume one evolved from another. You need to show the linage and that is where the amount and overall weight of the evidence builds the case. Steve Meyer still seems unconvinced and his more experienced mind is greater than my less experienced mind.

    The theory of evolution does not say we will find one possible transitional fossil- it makes a much larger claim than that. It is all things are connected via a materialistic tree of life. So there is no one silver bullet the case must be made with a preponderance of evidence which must ultimately be shewn with a multitude of good transitional fossils showing macro evolution between very different kinds of creatures.

    And cartoons and models do not suffice.

  50. The theory of evolution does not say we will find one possible transitional fossil- it makes a much larger claim than that. It is all things are connected via a materialistic tree of life.

    Yes, the claim is that all life that exists or has existed on Earth is descended from a common ancestor. So far, what has been found in the fossil record is not inconsistent with this prediction.

  51. 51

    Alen you are asking me to prove a negative which is almost impossible but I will point out as evidence that the lack of the multitude of transitional fossils expected to be found is evidence for the theory to be possibly incorrect. The truth is that there should be millions of these things show clear patterns – not small bones used to extrapolate an entire living creature that is then used to extrapolate an entire evolutionary sequence.

    I did a quick search today for real pictures of intermediate transitional fossils between marco taxa and the closest thing that i could find wa sa whale head with teeth.

    I mean the only example i could fined should a devolution from a more complex whale like creature that had teeth to out whales now that don’t need teeth. Is that to be taken by me as the proof for a theory of universal ancestry full of billions of missing links?

  52. Alen you are asking me to prove a negative which is almost impossible…

    No, I am just pointing out that the for the ToE to be true, all living and extinct organisms must fall into a pattern of a nested hierarchy of relatedness from a universal common ancestor.

  53. 53

    I agree with that but evolution is a fact- the theory that you are referring to is the universal common ancestor hypothesis within Darwinian evolution. DE does seem to explain micro change within living organisms but not to new body plans. So if you mean the neo-darwinisn synthesis I agree it does need all extensive and living organisms to fall into a tree of life- and ID is perfectly compatible with this hypothesis.

    I think there is good reason to question universal common ancestry as fact though- even if one does think it is true they should remain somewhat skeptical and continue to question- as with nay theory such as special/general relativity. To hold a position without skepticism is to hold a “belief”, dogmatic or religious. Darwinism is a dogma for many especially those advertising it as fact.

  54. 54

    When I say evolution is a fact i mean everything changes or can change over time- mutations do occur- people do reproduce and all races of humans probably all have common ancestors – the bible called them Adam and Eve. But this is limited to change within species. Universal commons ancestry makes a huge claim and needs to be continually questioned not just for the sake or making sure it is true but to get the actually tree of life right. I just take the position that the macro fossils probably build a weaker case for it being true than people think and are lead to believe by and large.

  55. Frost:

    When I say evolution is a fact i mean everything changes or can change over time- mutations do occur- people do reproduce and all races of humans probably all have common ancestors – the bible called them Adam and Eve. But this is limited to change within species. Universal commons ancestry makes a huge claim and needs to be continually questioned not just for the sake or making sure it is true but to get the actually tree of life right. I just take the position that the macro fossils probably build a weaker case for it being true than people think and are lead to believe by and large.

    What mechanism is there in nature that actively limits microevolution from changing into macroevolution? This is decidedly the center of the debate, and it’s something the ID camp needs to answer.

    Microevolution and macroevolution are the same process on different scales; it is irrational to say that only one of them exists. When you seek to “refute” macroevolution, all you’re doing is reducing micro to a minimum effect and pushing macro to a maximum effect, when in fact there is a spectrum in between. And since creationist terms are perpetually undefined, it’s remarkably easy to employ a smokescreen and impossible to objectively determine what evidence would be required to support it. So now we’re asking you.

    When do two recently diverged species descendants become sufficiently distinctive that macroevolution has occurred? What is the minimal requirement?

  56. 56

    Ardeekay wrote,

    “What mechanism is there in nature that actively limits microevolution from changing into macroevolution?”

    What is the mechaism that gives rise to evolution? That is that is the machism capoable of prodcing front loading on the cosmic to mico scale? It is irrational no allow a miracle in one place but not another unless there is sufficient evidence to support the theory. That is what is being criticized with maco-evolution- one, lack of evidence and two, if it is probabilistically reasonable given naturalistic resourced and chance/time.

    “it is irrational to say that only one of them exists.”

    We may hold different views reach the same conundrum if only at different points. It is only rational to accept both if there is ample evidence that both are true. Evolutionists themselves create demarcations of when one species begins from another. Thus whether one believes those two species to be totally separate or connected via an evolutionary chain of mutation is up for the observer and ample evidence to decide.

    As far as how me scientifically demarcate between species, this is an issue of shape and form. Two card can be created from the same parts and metals but with variation within the design. This does not mean one evolved from the other or that they have common ancestors but that they share a common creator or designer.

    Most people use literal interpretation of scripture to support their belief in special creation- the bible said Adam was made out of dust or sand. After Einstein we now know that man could come from sand given that forms of matter are actually made out of the same primary substance which is energy. So if there wa sa surime God that wanted to perform special creation at the species level or at the big bang one can infer he would be able -like a great alchemist- to change sand into DNA and breath life into it.

    This is not possible form mortals to do but it is scientifically possible- just like how one can invent a series of steps required for evolutionary change from one species to another- one can also imagine energy and matter changing form into anyhting else as well. In fact that is what happen at the big bang- matter went out and turned into all the elements, and life eventually in some way, either through special creation or descent with modification- interconnected ancestrally or not. We appeal to the authority of reason to decide which story is true and why. TO appeal to the authority of imagination- or the authority of scientists is a categorical fallacy. This is why some people like Stephen Meyer seek ample evidence.

  57. 57

    Correction above (my spell check has not been working at all),

    “Two cars* can be created from the same parts and metals but with variation within the design.”

  58. 58

    Woah. lots of talking in this thread. I have not read posts 10+, but just going quickly back to responses #7 & #9.

    Between these two responses I have been cited ONE “transitional fossil” (Tiktaalik is not a good example. Among other things, the “limbs” don’t have a proper bony structure to support body weight on land.) Grats guys. Very demonstrative of the so-called ‘predictive power’.

    Citing a journal does not constitute providing examples. I’m not going to read through the entire journal. Since you are in the know, can you provide me examples from within? Saves me a bit of time, and you are the one that knows where the good examples are anyway, so it is not so much trouble on your part.

    And you do not seem to understand that 50Million years IS a brief time in the context we are speaking in. Why, I am even referred the book “your inner fish – the 3.5 BILLION year development of the human body”. So, for entirely new species to appear in 50mil year spurts is brief.

    But all of this really misses the point of the post. ID’s main beef with darwinian evolution is the mechanism. Id reckons species change can’t happen by random, accumulated mutations. Evo looks at the present and the past and infers their own mechanism without testing it.

    (Why is it nobody talks about Lenski’s experiment anymore?)

  59. 59

    Avonwatch:

    Between these two responses I have been cited ONE “transitional fossil” (Tiktaalik is not a good example. Among other things, the “limbs” don’t have a proper bony structure to support body weight on land.) Grats guys. Very demonstrative of the so-called ‘predictive power’.
    How about this?

    Malllat J & JY Chen (2003). Fossil sister group of craniates: predicted and found. J Morphol 258(1):1-31.

    Abstract:

    This study investigates whether the recently described Cambrian fossil Haikouella (and the very similar Yunnanozoon) throws light on the longstanding problem of the origin of craniates. In the first rigorous cladistic analysis of the relations of this animal, we took 40 anatomical characters from Haikouella and other taxa (hemichordates, tunicates, cephalochordates, conodont craniates and other craniates, plus protostomes as the outgroup) and subjected these characters to parsimony analysis. The characters included several previously unrecognized traits of Haikouella, such as upper lips resembling those of larval lampreys, the thick nature of the branchial bars, a mandibular branchial artery but no mandibular branchial bar, muscle fibers defining the myomeres, a dark fibrous sheath that defines the notochord, conclusive evidence for paired eyes, and a large hindbrain and diencephalon in the same positions as in the craniate brain. The cladistic analysis produced this tree: (protostomes, hemichordates (tunicates, (cephalochordates, (Haikouella, (conodonts + other craniates))))), with the “Haikouella + craniate” clade supported by bootstrap values that ranged from 81-96%, depending on how the analysis was structured. Thus, Haikouella is concluded to be the sister group of the craniates. Alternate hypotheses that unite Haikouella with hemichordates or cephalochordates, or consider it a basal deuterostome, received little or no support. Although it is the sister group of craniates, Haikouella is skull-less and lacks an ear, but it does have neural-crest derivatives in its branchial bars. Its craniate characters occur mostly in the head and pharynx; its widely spaced, robust branchial bars indicate it ventilated with branchiomeric muscles, not cilia. Despite its craniate mode of ventilation, Haikouella was not a predator but a suspension feeder, as shown by its cephalochordate-like endostyle, and tentacles forming a screen across the mouth. Haikouella was compared to pre-craniates predicted by recent models of craniate evolution and was found to fit these predictions closely. Specifically, it fits Northcutt and Gans’ prediction that the change from ciliary to muscular ventilation preceded the change from suspension feeding to predatory feeding; it fits Butler’s claim that vision was the first craniate sense to start elaborating; it is consistent with the ideas of Donoghue and others about the ancestor of conodont craniates; and, most strikingly, it resembles Mallatt’s prediction of the external appearance of the ancestral craniate head. By contrast, Haikouella does not fit the widespread belief that ancestral craniates resembled hagfishes, because it has no special hagfish characters. Overall, Haikouella agrees so closely with recent predictions about pre-craniates that we conclude that the difficult problem of craniate origins is nearly solved

  60. 60

    Or this:

    Or this:

    The ‘Ur-Ant”, or transitional between wasps and ants, was not only found in the strata predicted, but also possessed the mosaic of characters expected between the two groups as well.

    Can be found in EO Wilson’s Journey to the Ants

  61. 61

    How about the prediction that marsupial mammal fossils would be found in strata approximately 30-40 million years old in Antarctica?

    Barton NH, DEG Briggs, JA Eisen , DB Goldstein & NH Patel (2007). Evolution p. 74

  62. 62

    How about transitionals in the Cave Bear? :

    From the early Ursus minimus of 5 million years ago to the late Pleistocene cave bear, there is a perfectly complete evolutionary sequence without any real gaps. The transition is slow and gradual throughout, and it is quite difficult to say where one species ends and the next begins. Where should we draw the boundary between U. minimus and U. etruscus, or between U. savini and U. spelaeus? The history of the cave bear becomes a demonstration of evolution, not as a hypothesis or theory but as a simple fact of record

    Kurten B (1976) . The Cave Bear Story. Columbia University Press, New York

  63. 63

    Modern seacows (manatees and dugongs) are predicted to be descendants from terrestrial mammals. Here is fossil confirmation:

    Domning DP (2001). The earliest known fully quadrupedal sirenian. Nature 413 625-627
    From the abstract:

    Modern seacows (manatees and dugongs; Mammalia, Sirenia) are completely aquatic, with flipperlike forelimbs and no hindlimbs1, 2. Here I describe Eocene fossils from Jamaica that represent nearly the entire skeleton of a new genus and species of sirenian—the most primitive for which extensive postcranial remains are known. This animal was fully capable of locomotion on land, with four well-developed legs, a multivertebral sacrum, and a strong sacroiliac articulation that could support the weight of the body out of water as in land mammals. Aquatic adaptations show, however, that it probably spent most of its time in the water. Its intermediate form thus illustrates the evolutionary transition between terrestrial and aquatic life. Similar to contemporary primitive cetaceans3, it probably swam by spinal extension with simultaneous pelvic paddling, unlike later sirenians and cetaceans, which lost the hindlimbs and enlarged the tail to serve as the main propulsive organ. Together with fossils of later sirenians elsewhere in the world1, 4, 5, 6, 7, these new specimens document one of the most marked examples of morphological evolution in the vertebrate fossil record.

  64. 64

    Let’s not leave plants out of the transitional fossil picture (for joseph’s benefit):

    Gerrienne P, M Meyer-Berthaud, M Fairon-Demaret, M Streel & P Steemans (2004). Runcaria , a Middle Devonian seed plant precursor. Science 306: 856 – 858

    From the abstract:

    The emergence of the seed habit in the Middle Paleozoic was a decisive evolutionary breakthrough. Today, seed plants are the most successful plant lineage, with more than 250,000 living species. We have identified a middle Givetian (385 million years ago) seed precursor from Belgium predating the earliest seeds by about 20 million years. Runcaria is a small, radially symmetrical, integumented megasporangium surrounded by a cupule. The megasporangium bears an unopened distal extension protruding above the multilobed integument. This extension is assumed to be involved in anemophilous pollination. Runcaria sheds new light on the sequence of character acquisition leading to the seed.

  65. 65

    Dave,

    SO far you have listed bears turning into bear, animals predicted to be found in a continent probably based on the indisputable concept of Pangaea (which there are different explanations for the causes thereof)

    and then you list animals that went from land dwelling creatures to sea creatures but did not change massvily. And interesting how most of evolutionary theory is about things evolvig from sea creatures to land creatures- the simple to the complex and yet the most predominant fossils are those that went from the land to the sea…

    A change in complexity is not an increase in complexity and even a small increase in complexity in one species cannot be extrapolated to every species that ever lived.

  66. 66

    Dave,

    Plant evolution is more like variation among species – and plants are a little easier to change than full fledged complex animals that die very easily if they inherit a mutation that can have bad consequences.

    Yet we have mosquitoes that are 300 million years old- from the time of the dinosaurs but have refused to yield to those pesky random mutations.

  67. 67

    Frost, the request was for transitional fossils, and the complaint was that there was only one example given. Now the main complaint is they aren’t dramatically different enough in complexity. I think Tiktaalik – an example of a transition between radically different lifestyles mor ethan addresses your concern, though since Tiktaalik wasn’t comnpletely terrestrial, Avonwatch’s problem with it is moot. My Runcaria example addresses exactly what you are asking for as well –an example of the transition to seed plants, one of the key innovations in evolutionary history.

  68. 68

    Frost, plants are complex eukaryotic organisms that are subject to the same evolutionary processes as animals are, and are presented with just as critical adaptive problems to solve.

  69. 69

    Dave writes,

    Frost, the request was for transitional fossils, and the complaint was that there was only one example given. Now the main complaint is they aren’t dramatically different enough in complexity. I think Tiktaalik – an example of a transition between radically different lifestyles mor ethan addresses your concern, though since Tiktaalik wasn’t comnpletely terrestrial, Avonwatch’s problem with it is moot. My Runcaria example addresses exactly what you are asking for as well –an example of the transition to seed plants, one of the key innovations in evolutionary history.

    I have always asked for many transnationals showing connection across several significantly different complex taxa.

    I do not know that much about genetics but I suspect you are wrong about the plants. My intuition tells me they can evolve more easily than complex mammals- Suspect they are more numerous for one and secondly since they are less complex it would take a shorter time for the diversity of their speciation.

    Tiktaalik is some kind of an ancient fish- hardly a great example of a long evolutionary tree of life.

  70. 70

    and I remind all at this post who still dare to question Macro evolution or universal common ancestry – that there are many Darwinian evolutionists looking for evidence of their theory day and night. The search for transitions, data and explanations for life’s origin is for them the search for the Holly Grail. So if you are unconvinced by the evidence know that the evidence they do have is the absolute best that they can muster. Make no mistake they have worked day and night to prove this theory.

    Now with all of that said universal common ancestry is a logical possibility with some evidence but there is no reason why a person cant desire more evidence to be convinced. Questioning the theory even if it was true only opens up the discussion resulting in making people think, disseminating scientific information and literacy and promoting the pursuit of new questions and ideas. All of which is very important as we can do science for eternity but the motivations which guides our science are limited to the specific desires of man to peruse the enterprise.

  71. 71

    Hi Frost,

    You write:

    I do not know that much about genetics but I suspect you are wrong about the plants. My intuition tells me they can evolve more easily than complex mammals- Suspect they are more numerous for one and secondly since they are less complex it would take a shorter time for the diversity of their speciation

    Plant genetics are the same as animals, Frost. A moment’s reflection that the basic laws of inheritance were derived from studies of plants, not animals, should tell you that. Or were you thinking of the prevalence of polyploidy (multiple chromosome sets)?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “evolve more easily”– by that do you mean adapt? And why did you switch from animals in general to mammals in particular? Do you think highly specialized orchids can adapt to changes in pollinators any more easily than mammals can adapt to changes in their environments? Are plant extinction rates lower than those of animals (I’m not sure myself).

    Plant evolution is more like variation among species – and plants are a little easier to change than full fledged complex animals that die very easily if they inherit a mutation that can have bad consequences

    Then why are there far more insect species than all plant species combined?

  72. 72

    Yet we have mosquitoes that are 300 million years old- from the time of the dinosaurs but have refused to yield to those pesky random mutations.
    The fact there are over 3000 species of them today suggests that quite a few mutations occurred in the lineage over that 300 million years ;)

  73. 73

    Good point in bringing up the insects. Because they are small they can reproduce in massive quantities because there is a large relative landscape for them to evolve.

    Plants are less complex than most animal life forms. When a mammal begins to evolve it is so complex that there are many problems that have to be adjusted for a morphological trait to be carried on. Plants are not only more numerous and therefore have a greater population to evolve such traits but they also don’t have as many features and hence they don’t have as many problems to circumvent in order for a marco change to proliferate.

    You can debate genetics for ever- it is much like debating mathematical formulas- of which there are many that are not in use. DE needs major fossil evidence showing a continuous linage between vastly different taxa and the logical step by step process that the various morphological changes evolved through.

    Sketches and models count for nothing outside of a firm fossil record. This is the obvious truth that has encouraged devout materialist evolutionists to fake several transitional fossils.

  74. 74

    Dave those small mutations have nothing to do with what we are discussing about marco change. You know as well as I that no one id debating variation among kinds or species-

    The theory of universal common ancestry makes a gigantic claim and gigantic claims require gigantic evidence. :)

  75. Plant evolution is more like variation among species – and plants are a little easier to change than full fledged complex animals that die very easily if they inherit a mutation that can have bad consequences.

    Yet we have mosquitoes that are 300 million years old- from the time of the dinosaurs but have refused to yield to those pesky random mutations.

    That’s your big beef?

    Quite literally “don’t fix what ain’t broke”.

  76. 76

    For those interested, the Journal Evolution: Education and Outreach has an issue devoted to transitional fossils (and its available free online!!!):

    http://www.springerlink.com/co.....&pi=0

  77. 77
  78. The fact there are over 3000 species of them today suggests that quite a few mutations occurred in the lineage over that 300 million years

    Darwinism continues to conflate evolution with adaptability. They are not the same.

    3,000 species suggests the adaptability of mosquitos, not the evolution of the mosquito.

    As other posters have pointed out (using other animal examples), mosquitos are still mosquitos. The evolutionary rollout of the mosquito is finished. It is now exhibiting the specified plasticity of its genome (its adaptability).

    It’s like that basic screensaver where you see the ball bounce from all sides of the screen. Mosquitoes, like all other animals are confined to a specific adaptive range. They can bounce around but they can never breakout from the adaptive room they are confined to.

  79. Further to my last post, the fact that there are 3000 species of mosquitoes seems to show that mosquitoes’ adaptive capability is sufficient to stabalize its genome over time.

    It therefore has no pressure to transform itself into some non-mosquito form in order to continue on.

  80. Mr Oramus,

    Mosquitoes, like all other animals are confined to a specific adaptive range.

    Do you have some science to back this up, or is it just wishful thinking?

  81. Mr Frost122585,

    I have always asked for many transnationals showing connection across several significantly different complex taxa.

    Assuming the example given of ants and wasps was not sufficiently different, would you be convinced if someone could show that all the different kinds of mammals, bats, whales, horses, humans, etc., were all related in some branching tree of gradual change?

  82. How can one tell the difference between a transitional fossil and phenotypic plasticity?

    You can’t.

    Transitional fossils are ASSUMED based on the overlying assumption that (universal) common descent has occurred.

    What the theory of evolution needs is genetic data which links to form.

    That way we could test the premise that such changes are even possible.

  83. As for Tiktaalik, there are air-breathing fish alive and well in the Amazon River today.

    And they ain’t on their way to becoming land animals.

    IOW Tiktaalik is a transitional only because the theory requires it to be.

    There isn’t any genetic data to support the transition.

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