Whale Evolution: Theory, Prediction and Converging Lines of Evidence

(Ashwin S) #41

If I get it right, the authors had three indicators for the date ranging from 54mya to 40mya based on various ways to interpret the date… and they went with 40-46 Mya because it’s more in line with other findings. It’s more of a political/conservative decision rather than anything. The same data they found could be argued for the fossils being 51mya. I think 49 Mya is a fair assumption.

Sure, it could mean there are older pakecetids and whales evolved from them quickly spreading to Antarctica. It does create a problem for the rest of the transitional species described.

(George Brooks) #42


It’s one thing to cherry-pick an argument for a one-time topic… but you would have to repeat the same refrain over and over … comparing all the dinosaur period creatures like brontosaurs (and even the giant marine reptiles) who apparently drowned before cows, cattle and giant sloths drowned… because their fossil remains are all below the KT layer … while all the large mammals tread water successfully.

After a while, even theoretically possible explanations seem lame when they show systematic failure to explain.

(Ashwin S) #43

Hi brooks,

I wouldn’t be surprised if the dating of a lot of fossils have this issue.
Methods such as stratigraphic estimation of age gives a lot of leeway in dating.

When I have time, I will check out the dating of the rest of the transitional forms …
Or you can do some studying yourself.

(Chris Falter) #44

Hi Ashwin,

Our friend @T_aquaticus is one of the many friends we have at the forum who do not profess to be Christians. You ask a good question–perhaps he will give it some thought.

As to knowing the Truth: as a follower of Christ, I know the Truth because I know Him, not because I can reason my way to Him. Like any gift, reason is useful, but it has limits. We cannot reach capital-T Truth by its means, although we can use it to find useful approximations.

Finally, I want to encourage you to investigate the oldest whales very carefully. You seem to assume they were basically identical to modern whales, but this is not at all the case. They were much closer to their “intermediate” cousins than to modern whales.

Chris Falter

(George Brooks) #45


And there it is again… suggesting that the evidence has some sort of systematic leeway. And yet the systematic bias is not just “a little give here and there”… the evidence SHOUTS the following:

  1. If you support a global flood, all dinosaurs above a certain size drowned long before any large mammal did… and that includes the special problems represented by gigantic dinosaurs like brontosaurs and giant marine reptiles (not officially labeled as dinosaurs).

  2. the array of marsupials in Australia requires that once released from the ark… all of these marsupials virtually raced to Australia’s coastline… well ahead of even faster placental predators… in time for Australia to drift into the middle of the ocean where no placental mammals could follow. That is NOT leeway; it is just a slice of ridiculousness.

  3. Again, if one supports a global flood, it is more than a little leeway that large mammals like giraffes, rhinos, elephants (or to be more specific, the precursor populations that came before the Earth’s current animal populations) and so on are NEVER found “drowned” in the same layers as the dinosaur-period animals.

In fact, the drowning of precursor animal populations waits until the smaller versions of these animals drown first… which only drown after even smaller versions drown… and so on… but with the bizarre realization that even the earliest of these mammal drownings (above the size of, say, a badger) had to wait until ALL the big and small dinos had to drown first!

(Ashwin S) #46

Hi Chris,
I will look at the oldest whales more carefully as you suggested.
As to knowing the truth. I was an agnostic in high school/pre college. It was my biology classes that played a big role in my becoming a theist (not Christian, that happened years later). I learned about evolution in class, and my first reaction was a thorough skepticism. And once I thought things over, and realised evolution was the best explanation science had, I realised there had to be a God. And the God I assumed from looking at organisms, was quite similar to the God of the Bible, though I had never read the bible at that point. So in my experience, a person can arrive at the truth through logic. I did. (I am sure the holy spirit
also helped my logic)
As a Christian , I understand that evolution can be compatible with some ways of interpreting the Bible. However, as a logical person, the more I look at it, the more it looks like a bunch of fairy tails built on a philosophy of materialism.
Perhaps I have not looked hard enough…

But as it stands, I agree more with David Berlinsky on this issue. In my viewpoint some vague claim of common ancestry based on similarity is not enough… Because similarity (even at the minute molecular level) does not always indicate ancestry.

(George Brooks) #47


Of course it is not enough. But in cases of non-convergence, when God gives us very tight correspondences genetically, to support the claim of common ancestry, we find that evidence for this is all over the world, and in all time periods, and for all kinds of animal and plant life.

That’s pretty non-vague!

If God was using special creation to create all species (even the ones that came and went long before any human could even see them), and if God didn’t want us to “believe the evidence” … all he would have had to do was make sure each species had genetic markers that made it impossible to conclude a genetic/reproductive relationship with common ancestral populations!

(Ashwin S) #48

The problem is… how do we identify “non-convergence”…
They might as well call it convenience… when it can be fit into a tree… it’s non-convergence…
When we can’t manage to do that… call it convergence.
There is no real differentiator between similarities that can tell which is common descent and which is convergence… other than convenience.

(George Brooks) #49


So when can you enage in some remedial genetics reading?

Non-Convergence is easy to determine … when the genetics shows a close relationship, and a detective-like stance on the flagged factors - - is there continuity between one group or another?

If the court system used your rules of evidence, you would never find a man guilty … because you would refuse to believe the “trails of breadcrumbs” that culprits leave behind them…

You would simply repeat your mantra: “that could mean anything”. When in fact, centuries of jurisprudence tells us, “circumstantial evidence” is not really useless. In fact, law schools teach their students that the best cases are usually based on “circumstantial evidence” - - because it’s evidence that can exclude all other possibilities.

The opposite of “Circumstantial Evidence” is not “good evidence”… it’s eye-witness testimony. But witnesses can have memories in error, or they can lie.

“Circumstantial Evidence” doesn’t lie. And if you have ENOUGH circumstantial evidence, the bad guy will be found guilty.


  1. the defendant has motives.
  2. the defendant has means (he sells rat poison).
  3. the defendant has opportunity - - he was the only person alone with the murder victim during the last 4 hours of his life. There is a video of the entrance, and nobody else came or went into the building. The accused cooked a pasta meal for the victim. And the accused has “pasta stains with rat poison in the sauce” on his apron. And the accused said he ate the same meal as the victim.

These are all circumstantial… because they are not based on testimony.

As you can see, “circumstantial evidence” and the proper deductions from it are all that is needed to make a solid conclusion.

(Ashwin S) #50

Circumstancial evidence is useful as long as the entire framework is not circumstantial.
And legal cases are not the best examples. They have the principle of “the element of doubt”. If any of the facts is questionable… such as we can’t say for sure whether the accused actually cooked the meal that killed the victim (i.e he might not be a direct ancestor).
If the accused lived next door with gates adjacent to the house of the victim and the evidence is not clear as to which house he entered… and finally another guy turns up with an apron with similarly poisoned pasta …
No judge will convict. I think evolution is worse than this example.

(George Brooks) #51


Now you are trying to tell me that the logic used by a detective is different from the logic that professional scientists use. This is a deal-breaker. Scientists use the same logic, whether it is CSI, or Evolutionary analysis.

You are making up your objections as you go along. I’m probably not going to discuss these topics with you anymore. And I will counsel others not to as well. The logic of science is what we work with here… and you are trying to tell me/us that science doesn’t apply to Evolution.

Good luck to you sir.
cc: @jpm

(Randy) #52

Greetings Mr Ashwin. Good questions here. I am curious as to why you were incredulous about evolution if you were not yet a theist. What position did you come from?
Also, I am a Christian. However, one observation in favor of naturalism and against ID seems to be God of the Gap problem. Every time we think we find irreducible complexity, we find a cause naturalistically. The concern here is that we rely on our own intuition to guess how God works. And if we proclaim we found it, only to be proven wrong again, What does that say about our faith? Do we put it in God ultimately, or in our puny reasoning?
Finally, I have just read a book by Randal Rauser called “Is The Atheist My Neighbor?” Very convicting. Most, if not all, atheists do not become so out of rebellion. We theists may be much more prejudiced. To take them at face value is very appropriate. We can all learn from each other.

You have put in good questions here. Thanks. Blessings.

(Ashwin S) #53

No, I am trying to tell you that your analogy of a courtroom is wrong.

I would prefer to discuss actual facts rather than analogies/parables on this subject.

(George Brooks) #54


We can’t discuss actual facts, because you refuse to acknowledge the facts as they fit into our use of the term Evolution-with-Qualifiers. Now, if our qualified use of the term Evolution was intentionally designed to confuse, I would understand your objections. But frankly, you are being non-responsive all the way around.

You don’t accept that professional scientists are using the same kind of science that SCI professionals use.

You don’t accept how we qualify the term Evolution.

And you refuse to give us a unique expression to substitute for God-Guided-Evolution… other than to offer us a term (i.e. “Old Earth Creationism”) that virtually everyone knows belongs to groups who oppose speciation, common descent and natural selection. Yeah— you are REALLY flexible!

So… have a nice day.

cc: @jpm, @pevaquark

(Ashwin S) #55

Hi Randy,

I used to be an atheist from a young age ( probably because my Dad was one at that time). By the time I reached 11th grade in school, I was starting to really think and was more or less an agnostic.
For me, the things that made me skeptical of evolutions were

  1. Probability- Overall , evolution describes extremely low probability events. I wasn’t and still am not interested in filling this gap with God. So I consider it a real problem that needs to be addressed. Better methods with higher probability are needed to make evolution a viable proposal.
  2. Design in nature : Organisms have mechanisms/machines in them which look designed. I don’t think nature has the capacity to design machines from scratch.
  3. thermodynamics: I had a vague idea that the law of entropy would put hurdles in the process of evolution.

That was my thought process then. After that I have been reading on the subject on and off .

As to irreducible complexity. If there are methods to explain it. I would love to see an analysis of the probability for things happening the way the biologists explain it.
As of now, there is gap theory working there. Atheists say, it must have happened by evolution because there is no other alternative… and since we exist, we must have won the lottery.
Theists say God took care of the low probability.
I think both answers are copouts.

God bless.

(George Brooks) #56


Wow… so this fellow won’t LET God touch mutations… or eco-niches… or do any of the many things that God should have the privilege (nay, the expectation) of doing.

God can make DNA out of dust … which means he had to touch every amino acid in our miles-long DNA chains… but God better not touch the DNA once it’s made!?

(Ashwin S) #57

Yes, I would expect science to stand on its own two feet.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #58

Do you still hold to these to some degree?

Would you be able to point me to some actual probability calculations that have been peer reviewed? Also, would you be able to demonstrate what kinds of odds you would be willing to reject and what kind of odds would be acceptable as occurring by natural mechanisms?

Unfortunately it wouldn’t and it doesn’t. Whatever you came across that convinced you otherwise also didn’t understand entropy.

First a 2007 paper:

And then a 2018 paper:

Ashwin, scientists (many whom are Christians) say that evolution is the best explanation we have for how these structures came about because it best fits the data. There is no other model that currently can sufficiently explain and predict much of anything. This is not ‘atheists,’ it is ‘scientists’ and many of the ‘scientists’ are Christians. It’s not because ‘there’s no other alternative’- you unfortunately have bought into some kind of false dichotomy that doesn’t exist in reality. I’m sorry for that.

That’s mostly the argument from Intelligent Design proponents, not the argument from the BioLogos official position that’s for sure (of which you can find on the main site).

(George Brooks) #59


But didn’t you already admit that God can also arrange things via natural law (i.e. science)?
This is hardly a new idea. This was discussed and affirmed by the Church Fathers almost 2000 years ago.

Then arrives Ashwin, and all bets are off?

(Ashwin S) #60

So we must be able to describe and verify these laws on an independent basis.
That’s the basics of science.