Creating Information Naturally, Part 1: Snowflakes, Chess, and DNA

(Ashwin S) #41

I assumed the derived descendent group were whales and the ancestral group were land living mammals.
These “transitional fossils” must be ancestral to the first whale…unless you believe modern whales are not related to the ancient ones.

(Phil) #42

Agreed. Indeed, I have come to realize that the same is true of just about everything in the bible. It is not about (creation, cosmology, Job, wisdom, or whatever else we fill in the blank with) but is about God.


The ancestral group and transitional species would include cousins that aren’t direct ancestors of any living species.

“In looking for the gradations by which an organ in any species has been perfected, we ought to look exclusively to its lineal ancestors; but this is scarcely ever possible, and we are forced in each case to look to species of the same group, that is to the collateral descendants from the same original parent-form, in order to see what gradations are possible, and for the chance of some gradations having been transmitted from the earlier stages of descent, in an unaltered or little altered condition.”–Charles Darwin, “Origin of Species”

A more modern example would be the platypus which is transitional between reptiles and placental mammals but isn’t a direct ancestor of any living placental mammal.


As defined in biology evolution does assume random processes. Just like meteorologists assume rain fall is the result of a random process. Just like the outcome of throwing dice is a random number. Science is always based on the assumption that the result is natural not supernatural. The providence of God can not be proven using the scientific method but it is assumed based on what we are told in the Bible.

So as a Evolutionary Creationist I believe there is an intelligent designer behind evolution, but this is taken on “faith” as there is no way to show evidence of this designer. Just like there is no way to show evidence for God’s direction in a rain shower.

(Ashwin S) #45

Hi ,

I think the context of this quote is with respect to organisms alive now. It doesn’t make sense to apply to fossil evidence.
ESP when the claim is that the fossils are of intermediate species.


When we say that fossils are transitional or intermediate forms we are saying that they they have a mixture of features from two different groups. It is not a statement about direct ancestry. It applies to all species, living and extinct.

(Ashwin S) #47

Hi Bill,

Isn’t it an assumption to say there is no way to show evidence of the designer?
The Bible assumes that the designer is self evident.
Romans 1: 18 For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of those who in their wickedness suppress the truth.
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God himself has made it plain to them.
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse.

As per the Bible, the only way people do not give Glory to God for his creation is through a suppression of the truth(knowingly or unknowingly).

So why do you feel God’s nature/power cannot be understood through the study of his creation?

(Ashwin S) #48

I don’t think that’s the correct definition…
By that definition, a chimp would be a transitional species between a common ancestor and human beings… This is not the case.


Since a chimp doesn’t have any human features that other ape species do not have we wouldn’t consider chimps to be transitional. Again, the transitional nature of fossils has to do with their physical characteristics.

(Lynn Munter) #50

Hi, Ashwin!

So long as the starting population of the diverging species is small, there’s really nothing to say one way or another what happens to the bulk of the population or closely related species. At the risk of sounding like I’m making up stories, let’s think about what happens as soon as the transition to a fully aquatic animal happens: all of a sudden they can travel the whole world, but nothing prevents their semi-aquatic brethren from staying put right where they’ve been all along. Or just because a species figures out how to exploit a new ecological niche, and adapts to a different lifestyle in a number of ways, doesn’t mean the old ecological niche that they were well adapted to before isn’t there anymore.

This runs into the old argument, if humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys? The answer is simply that evolution branches like a tree, easily and often.

This might be true to a certain extent, but I don’t think genetically constructed trees assembled by computer programs that map extremely well to morphologically constructed trees are products of bias.

(George Brooks) #51

@Ashwin_s, say… you sure are bolted to the floor over special creation, aren’t you?

The evidence says the Earth is billions of years old…
The evidence says Species inherit attributes from prior populations in a way that says Nested Hierarchies exist in the Tree of Life. There would be no need for Nested Hierarchies if each species was created as an independent event.

If you are an Old Earther, we can discuss this some more. If you are a Young Earther, then mostly you are stuck on the Earth’s age - - with not much progress possible for you until you accept Old Earth like several Evangelical “camps” have already done.

(George Brooks) #52


When constructing cladograms, scientists are not trying to create a proof of evolution. They are trying to show how traits, organized as nested hierarchies, can be found in clusters of like creatures.

You probably should forget about analyzing “transitional” (or better, “Intermediate”) life forms… because you aren’t going to like how these concepts are handled. They aren’t handled this way to satisfy YECs; they are handled this way to learn new things buried in the evidence.

(Ashwin S) #53

I don’t know what to say to this. It’s as if once biologists decide something is a transitional species, then they will make up stories as much as possible to hold on.
You are painting a scenario where 4-5 species evolve into different transitional species ending up finally as a whale in a few million years while not leaving behind no evidence they existed before the whales were formed!
Is this still science?

Actually genetically constructed trees are worse. Based on the original assumptions
and the genes that are compared, you can get practically any result. I am attaching an article that explains the problem and points to a solution…

Guess what the solution is… Cherry pick the genes to compare to ensure you get the “right tree”.

(Ashwin S) #54

I am not a YEC.
I am not talking about cladograms. I was referring specifically to an example given in the article above with respect to transitional species/fossils from which whales are supposed to have evolved.
Now if you are saying that these species are not ancestors of whales, but just animals that look kinda like whales… I don’t have any problems with that. In fact, I think so too.

(George Brooks) #55


You are misunderstanding the point of Cladograms. I think you should probably wait a while before you tackle the logic behind them. They were not invented to convince YECs that Evolution is true. They are for the purpose of study - - for those who already accept Evolution.

If you don’t accept or understand Speciation … it is not likely that you will find much value in Cladograms and Cladistics.

(Ashwin S) #56

I was discussion a specific case connected to evolution of whales with @Lynn_Munter. We were not exactly talking about cladograms.

If you read the thread, you might be able to chip in with something related.

(George Brooks) #57


If you are going to dispute the term “Intermediate Species”, then you are disputing cladograms… because this is when that terminology is most used.

What you should be asking yourself is why would God specially create proto-whales with legs… and have them all go extinct even before humans are around to see them?

We can’t explain a giant chunk of natural process, if we don’t start with some smaller steps first.

(Lynn Munter) #58

Perhaps I should clarify that I don’t think it’s necessary that all of the proto-whale examples fit into a direct line of descent. However I think the chances that at least a couple of them will prove to have existed as species for a few million years longer than we currently have fossil evidence for are excellent. The “evidence of their existence” you want is all the different whale-related descendants they left.

Related to other comments on this thread, I do think living animals can qualify as transitional species. For example, there are frogs living today and the original amphibians that crawled out of the oceans pretty rapidly became something we would call “frogs,” despite not matching exactly any present-day frog species. Similarly, we would probably look at the original transition to reptilian characteristics and call it a “lizard,” more or less, and the precursor to all of them we would call a “fish.”

If you want to call a chimp an intermediate form between us and baboons, that’s actually fine with me, keeping in mind that chimps do have a few characteristics that our common ancestor didn’t.

The article didn’t at all say you could get practically any result. It was addressing uncertainties much farther back in time than any of the whales or other examples we’re talking about. This is a known issue. We expect DNA trees to start looking fuzzy after enough time elapses that everything is probably mutated, and the solution is to look at things like the genes for mitochondria that can’t change freely while maintaining viable organisms. But this is kingdom/subkingdom levels of uncertainty, not orders like Cetacea. For looking at the recent past, genetic trees are amazingly reliable.


It is a fact that these fossils have a mixture of modern whale features and features from terrestrial mammals. That’s what makes them transitional, and no stories are needed.

That’s not what happens. They use as many genes as possible, and the contradictions are right where we would expect to see them if evolution is true. When you are dealing with deep nodes with little genetic data you would expect contradictory trees for different genes. However, the contradictions are still well within the expected phylogenies. It isn’t as if some mouse genes have them more closely related to squid than to squirrels.


If whales evolved from terrestrial mammals then there should have been species in the past who had a mixture of whale and terrestrial mammal features, correct?