...for the purposes of this thread, I'll make one key point: it seems to me that the argumentation used is philosophically the same as that used by ID - marshalling scientific data to argue for an overall narrative. To those here who state "ID is not science", based on this article and the style of reasoning used in it and applying the same standard, would it also not be true that "Evolution is not science" either?"
[ " I welcome thoughtful responses, after people have considered the column Phil linked." ]
Marty, let's both take a deep breath before the plunge into this ongoing miasma....
If you will allow me, I would like to start with this discussion of "Transitional Fossils": I repeat my confession that I was surprised to find out that what I thought were Transitional Fossils are not what academics mean by the term. In fact, they rarely have the ability to use the term as clearly as I thought they used the term.
Trapped by the inescapable logic that without a long chain of DNA samples to go with each fossil, they cannot state categorically that one fossil represents an ancestral population or a descendant population. (I think we would become increasingly irate if they in fact tried to state such things.)
So, for them, "Transitional" becomes a reference to anatomical traits which appear to be consistent with a common ancestor. By arranging a collection of fossils along a spectrum for a given trait - - providing the basis of comparison for:
researchers can look for traits that move together (suggesting closer connection to a common ancestral population), and those that do not, but show how there appears to be more of a connection to another population that exceeds a purely random one.
For example, the ankle bones of Hippos which show a surprising similarity to the structure/design displayed by the ankles of proto-whales when they still had all four appendages. Now that is surprising, yes?
@Marty, is this non-science? Are they exceeding their grasp when they lay down a path of changes from one kind of population to another? If, in the process, they ignored other aspects ... like two populations which had amazingly similar neck bones ... but one is a fish and the other is a bird . . . I could see the sense of the charge that there is fakery-a-foot!
But what I see, Marty, is that you just don't like the aesthetics of using the word "transitional" when as far as you are concerned, the "transitions" may well be purely hypothetical. Yes, I think you know that I understand this.
So, what adjective would you propose for the academics to use? It should be non-pejorative, neutral, and yet still be descriptive, yes? If you find an acceptable term, I will be happy to use it for all my future discussions that touch on Transitional fossil finds.
But let's now turn to I.D.
Intelligent Design folks very rarely talk about I.D. in the context of important leaps of evolution within the context of a vastly ancient Earth. Have you noticed that? When's the last time you found an ID proponent who said, with all due candor, that the hominid line is quite old . . . but there seems to be an indication that an evolutionary step between one feature to another most likely came with help from an intelligent agency?
A) The Limited Discussions of ID
If you look at the part of my sentence (above) in bold, I frequently find just the thought (in bold) being proposed, but never within the context of millions of years otherwise natural evolutionary development.
B) ID, by Definition, is not Science
Then there is the question of how to prove a super-natural event? If we all agree that God's "assist" in Evolution is, by definition, a supernatural event . . . how would science find that? It has been touched on in recent weeks:
Where supernatural events occur, events appear chaotic, random or not explainable by normal lawful activity. But in the interaction between genome and environment, there are two places where God can act & work:
1) He can make very precise mutations in the genome; and
2) He can make very precise manipulations of rival species, food shortages, or very precise shifts in humidity or water turbidity that we would find impossible to follow, to duplicate, or to even imagine trying to control for.
Mutations we can understand at the molecular level. But in complex environmental systems, supernatural influences can be exerted that would take centuries to unwind and isolate. Certainly Marty, you and I would have a devil of a time trying to argue that God would never try to use supernatural influence on the food supply, the water supply, or even the enthusiasm of predators!
There is a veil that separates the natural from the supernatural. How is it that you think I.D. scientists can ever adequately document any supernatural event (which ID is, by any understanding of the event or events under scrutiny) to bring it into the realm of the scientific and the natural?
There is only one group I know capable of handling this ambiguity and still avoid calling miracles "scientific" - - and that would be
@Marty, what exactly do you think I.D. can do differently?