An Evolutionary Journey


(system) #1
When it comes to scholarship, it seems to me that Christian integrity demands we read for insight rather than ammunition.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/kathryn-applegate-endless-forms-most-beautiful/an-evolutionary-journey

(Casper Hesp) #2

Hurray for this article!

It would be valuable to add that the YEC movement has not only quote-mined scientific work, but also the writings of theologians. They often misrepresent fellow Christians to make it seem like all important people completely agree with them. In this way, they have managed to keep the crowd from knowing that respected evangelists like Charles Spurgeon and [Billy Graham][1] were open to deep time and evolution.

Sadly enough, even the words of Jesus Himself were ventriloquized into subservience to the YEC doctrine…
[1]: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2009/08/06/quote-to-ponder-billy-graham-on-evolution/


(Dcscccc) #3

evolution is indeed untestable. for example: richard dawkins claim that even one fossil in the wrong place will " “completely blow evolution out of the water.” (from wiki)

but we actually found a lot of those fossils like this one:

in this case they just push back the origin of the species. so any fossil in any rock layer cant falsified the evolution. and therefore it isnt testable.


(Jason W. McInnis) #4

Dawkins’s claim is perfectly valid. While it is true that certain discoveries only lead to a refining of the particulars of evolutionary theory (as in the instance to which you’ve pointed), the discovery of, say, a fossilized mammal in a Cambrian layer, would be wholly incompatible with current theory and would indeed overthrow it. There is not a single such example among all the fossils ever discovered, and it is this remarkable consistency in the ordering of biological life from the simple to the complex in the geologic record that provides such strong evidence for common descent.

From the “Short Proof of Evolution”:

The final point in the case for evolution is this: simple animals and plants existed on earth long before more complex ones (invertebrate animals, for example, were around for a very long time before there were any vertebrates). Here again, the evidence from fossils is overwhelming. In the deepest rock layers, there are no signs of life. The first fossil remains are of very simple living things. As the strata get more recent, the variety and complexity of life increase (although not at a uniform rate). And no human fossils have ever been found except in the most superficial layers of the earth (e.g., battlefields, graveyards, flood deposits, and so on). In all the countless geological excavations and inspections (for example, of the Grand Canyon), no one has ever come up with a genuine fossil remnant which goes against this general principle (and it would only take one genuine find to overturn this principle).


(Dcscccc) #5

not realy. for example: lets say that someone will buried is dog in a cambrian layer. and about 10000 years from now someone will find is fossil. now you get a mammal fossil in the wrong layer. but no one will claim that its disprove the evolution in this case. they will claim that the fossil somehow get to this layer by some process.

again not realy. even if all species on earth was created in the same time we can find this order. the bacteria have the largest population on earth(10^30). so they need to appear first in the fossil record even if all the species on the world appear with bacteria in the same time. fish also have a lot of species and a large population. and they also appear in a very old layers.


(Jason W. McInnis) #6

You are attempting to make your case by speculating on the unanimous reaction of some unknowable number of future scientists to a hypothetical, improbably successful fraud to be discovered ten centuries from now. I’ll just leave it at that.

The size of species populations has absolutely nothing to do with their ordering in the fossil layer, and you’ve offered no explanation as to how the two would even be related. If all life existed at the same time, we should expect to find no particular ordering in the fossil record. Even if there had been some event in nature that generally ordered species from simple to complex in the fossil record (let’s say, a global flood :wink:), such a chaotic process could not be perfect in its outcome. We should still expect to find some mixing of biological complexity in that record. There isn’t a single, solitary example.

Your argument, as I understand it, is that regardless of any evidence, evolution’s adherents will simply bend and twist the facts in order to cling to their held beliefs. Putting aside the fact that this is demonstrably false throughout the sciences, is that not the very thing you yourself are doing?


(Larry Bunce) #7

The fossil record does not prove evolution. Study of fossils from the 17th century on, and finding regular, ordered appearances of the same creatures in the same layers everywhere is what led to Darwin’s theory.
Since every fossil in every place on earth has not yet been found, science recognizes that there is a possibility that an out-of-place fossil could falsify the theory of evolution. There is also a non-zero possibility that the sun will not rise tomorrow, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


#8

For the life of me I don’t understand the relevance of that sarcasm to “Oldest Land-Walker Tracks Found”. Obviously, paleontologists will continue to fill in more details of the countless detailed timelines of the history of life on earth. Needless to say, those discoveries of oldest, latest, newest, earliest, and yet another transitional-form-found in no way conflict with the Theory of Evolution. So what am I missing here?

Of course, National Geographic has rightfully earned a reputation for sloppy journalism at times.

That topic reminds me of the many popular-level magazines which have tried to increase newsstand sales by means of various versions of the sensationalist headline: “Does this paleontological discovery overturn everything we thought we knew about evolution?” And then one reads the cover story inside, which basically admits: “No. Nothing has changed. Scientists simply discovered some more tantalizing facts which fill in more of the details.”

I have been enjoying watching Young Earth Creationists try to somehow ignore cartloads of the evidence for billions of years of the history of life on earth by the fact that soft tissues were discovered by Dr. Mary Schweitzer. They think that an argument from incredulity, the state of not-knowing somehow overturns what we do know. I’ve read angry Young Earth Creationist Mark Armitage (who was/is suing his university employer for religious discrimination) demand in rants under this Youtube videos that, “Unless evolutionists can 100% explain how the DNA could survive for millions of years, these dinosaur soft tissue discoveries prove that dinosaurs lived just a few thousand years ago!”


(Dcscccc) #9

its easy. a large population mean larger chance to leave a fossils. so if the chance to leave a fossil is about one per milion- then in a large population you will have more chance to see its fossil first in the record.

we actually not find such hierarchy. the cambrian explosion for example show that a lot of complex species appear almost suddenly in the fossil record. in some cases we even found complex traits before a simpler one. the first eye in the fossil record for example contain about 16000 lenses, when even human eye have only one.


(Dcscccc) #10

the problem is that this species appear before its suppose missing link between tetrapods and fish. its like to find a human with a dino. and because of this reason i gave the dog example. we can always push back species.


(Benjamin Pierce) #11

The problems with your scenario are manifold:

  1. If someone buried a dog in a Cambrian layer, that would leave signs of the burial. Believe it or not, geologists are pretty good at saying, “Hey, look–this isn’t part of the same layer, it’s an intrusion.” Creationist sites like to portray geology as mainly a lot of guesswork and storytelling, but I’d suggest spending some time with geologists and finding out what they really do.

  2. Young Earth Creationism fails, badly, at explaining the progression of fossils we see. What possible reason could there be for icthyosaurs to always (and I do mean always) be buried vastly deeper than dolphins? Same habitat; same lack of ability to avoid the flood; same hydrological profile.

Evolution is falsifiable, and easily so. I can name any number of evidences which would convince me that I’m wrong about evolution. Show me a mammal with hemocyanin-based blood. Show me an insect with a fully-developed backbone, and apart from that, only insect characteristics. Show me a fossil rabbit in the stomach of a fossilized dimetradon.

The list goes on and on. My mind could be changed by evidence, because my acceptance of evolution is predicated on evidence, and not faith.

In twenty years, I have yet to find a Creationist who could list specific, testable evidence which would falsify their position on evolution.


(Larry Bunce) #12

Several arguments above demonstrate a lack of knowledge of how science works. Science does not allow facts to be “bent” to fit a theory. A theory can be modified to fit new evidence, assuming that the new evidence does not refute the original theory. A fossil tetrapod that is older than a transitional species merely means that the transitional species survived alongside its descendants, or that the specimen originally thought to be the transitional form was itself a descendent of the actual transitional species. Pushing the time frame of a transition forwards or backwards a few million years is only a refinement of the theory of evolution, not a rewriting of it. The fact that we need to revise scientific theory once in a while means that a field is still open to new research. Finding out that Pi is 3.14159 does not mean that people were wrong to think of it as 3.14.


(Dcscccc) #13

how actually? he will cover this by the same layer.

not true and i explained why. you tell me- if all the species in the world created in the same time. what is the first organism that will appear first in the fossil record?

about the icthyosaurs- maybe is population was bigger then the dolphin one.

ok. lest see. what about a dino with grass?:

“Until now there was no firm evidence that dinosaurs and grasses coexisted, so scientists assumed that herbivorous dinosaurs ate mostly trees, ferns, flowering plants and cycads.”

"This discovery could also cause a major shake-up in dinosaur dioramas around the world. "-

notice that they doesnt say that evolution falsified but just pushed back grass. so even a rabbit with dimetradon will not falsified evolution. just pushing back rabbits.

great. so lets test the evolution then.

there is always a first time:)


(Dcscccc) #14

see my comment above.


#15

I well recall Stephen Meyer helping to promote that misunderstanding. He confused first PRESERVATION with FIRST APPEARANCE and FIRST EXISTENCE. The reason for “sudden” (over millions of years, actually) appearances in the Cambrian records was due to the fact that not all body parts are easily fossilized. So when hard-shells evolved, they “suddenly” appeared in the fossil record, but that doesn’t mean that they “poofed” into existence at that point. (Of course, fossil evidence gradually became available, but the quantities were never as numerous as with the hard-body organisms.)

These are topics where time spent with a good university introductory textbook would serve as an effective antidote for a lot of ministry websites creating confusion about the Cambrian “explosion”. I remember watching films about the Cambrian explosion in my church. At the time I thought them convincing. But I knew nothing about the actual evidence at that time.

Are you saying that population sizes thereby determine the ORDER OF APPEARANCE in the paleontological record and geologic column??? If so, that is something I hadn’t heard before. Are you suggesting that if the population sizes had been larger, we would be finding human fossils alongside dinosaur fossils, for instance?


#16

Have you ever seen a fossil encased in matrix?


(Dcscccc) #17

first its an ad hoc explanation. in fact we find even ivertebrate fossils in the cambrian. and again- even the first animals.species are very complex. some traits are even more complex then those of modern species.

yep. if human and dino created in the same time.


#18

I’m not sure what you are saying there. Yes, both invertebrates and vertebrates appeared in the Cambrian. Are you implying that that is some sort of problem? (“Ivertebrate” is a typo that could easily have been intended to go either direction.)

Are you implying that that is some sort of problem?

I’m not sure how you are measuring “complexity” nor why “more complex” would matter. Are you implying that that is some sort of problem?

You had just complained about “ad hoc explanations”—and then you imply that humans and dinosaurs may have been “created in the same time” as an explanation for a very consistent order of placement in the geologic column. Interesting. (I assume that you are aware that the ground beneath us is not an amorphous, homogeneous continuum. And that is one of many reasons why I find your ad hoc explanation so astounding.)

How would you go about subjecting your ideas to falsification testing? Do you think humans and dinosaurs were “created in the same time” provides a better explanation of all of the evidence available to us? Or are you ignoring a great deal of the evidence?

By the way, are you claiming that population sizes are the predominant factor in explaining what is and isn’t frequently preserved in the fossil record? What peer-reviewed scholarship can you cite which supports what is obviously a very bombastic and startling claim?

A lot of Young Earth Creationist websites still try to imply that the Cambrian poses some sort of problem for the Theory of Evolution. Is that your position? If so, why? Is the basis of your claim rooted in scripture interpretation and the traditions of your church—or the scientific evidence? If the basis of your claim is in the scientific evidence, one should be able to find broad support within the peer-reviewed scientific literature from those of diverse theological and non-theological persuasions. Is that the case?

I’m just passing through here while waiting on my flight (and this post is being relayed through an assistant in the States) and I don’t have time for a debate. But I am well aware that Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt tried to revive a lot of popular creation science mythology concerning the Cambrian based on Meyer’s limited knowledge of paleontology, comparative anatomy, and science in general. (I only have about 30 hours of relevant coursework in those academic fields and yet I found myself marking up profuse errata throughout Meyer’s book, even before seeing many more noted in the book reviews.)

Various paleontologists have written detailed reviews of Meyer’s book and in the process exposed many of those myths. Yet, your population-size hypothesis is one that I can’t recall hearing before. (However, advancing age has its drawbacks in that regard.) But I’m curious if you have tried to think through the falsification testing which would subject your ad hoc explanation to the scientific method.

So please post how you’d test your relative population sizes hypothesis and what kinds of scenarios would falsify such an ad hoc explanation.


(Scott Jorgenson) #19

dcscccc, please explain why population size should have any correlation with order of appearance in the fossil record. Frequency of appearance, yes. Order of appearance, though? Nonsense. If all species were created simultaneously and species A outnumbered species B 100:1, then species A and species B would both occur throughout the column in a roughly 100:1 ratio of frequency, all other things being equal (eg their habitats vis-a-vis preservability, etc). Species A would not occur in all the layers and species B in only the topmost layers, for example, simply due to relative population size – but that is exactly the pattern we see, again and again.

Put another way - rabbit populations surely outnumber brachiosaur populations by many times, yet that does not cause rabbit fossils to show up lower in the column than brachiosaurs. In fact it has no bearing at all on where we would predict them to occur relative to one another in the column.


(Benjamin Pierce) #20

So: he’s going to burrow into Cambrian rock, bury a dog skeleton there, cover it up with said rock, somehow magically fuse the rock back into a solid layer without employing concretion or any kind of physical or chemical process.

Impressive.

Then why do we find so many more dolphin remains? Your “Lower fossils had higher populations!” argument fails on every possible level. Apparently, insects only exist in tiny numbers, since insect fossils are very rare. Meanwhile, PURELY by random chance, ALL of the allosaurus fossils were buried before ALL of the tyrannosaurus fossils–for no other reason than that “The allosaurus population was bigger.”

I could go on, of course, but “Bigger population means buried deeper!” fails as badly as “The faster animals all ran away from the water up high hills!”

[quote]
ok. lest see. what about a dino with grass?:

http://www.livescience.com/3912-dung-reveals-dinosaurs-ate-grass.html1

“Until now there was no firm evidence that dinosaurs and grasses coexisted, so scientists assumed that herbivorous dinosaurs ate mostly trees, ferns, flowering plants and cycads.”
[/quote}

Oh, dear. No.

Do you really not see the difference between finding evidence that grass existed, and discovering a fossil of a mammal in layers where no mammal, reptile, or therapsid could possibly exist if the theory of evolution is correct?

I eagerly await that first time. However, since you failed to name such evidence, this isn’t it.