"Fishapod" Confounds Creationists

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Just kidding. Nothing confounds creationists, neither the old-fashioned young earth types nor the newfangled intelligent designers. As I heard one creationist explain it when I was covering the Creation Mega-Conference last year, "God said it. That settles it."

Science doesn't work that way. Paleontogists are reporting the exciting discovery of a fossilized 375 million year old fish with the beginnings of digits, elbows, wrists and shoulders. In other words, it's a fish with leglets, or a fishapod. Dubbed Tiktaalik roseae the fossil fits nicely between eusthenopteron fishes and the amphibious ichthyostega.

Look for creationists of all stripes to demand, "So where's the transition between eusthenopteron and tiktaalik, not to mention the transiton between tiktaalik and ichthyostega?" Essentially what they are requiring for proof of evolution are the fossils for every creature that ever lived because without them, there will always be a "missing link." Nevertheless, the discovery of tiktaalik forces their God into ever smaller gaps.

NEXT: Fear of a Black Hat, or, I See 'Dem Too

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  1. Why does anyone need to see transitional *fossils* to know there’s some wacky process at work?

    Have no creationists ever seen a friggin’ dolphin? How about a Sea Lion?

    Helloooo? Is this thing on?

  2. Tiktaalik looks like the noise some Lovecraftian monster might make.

  3. hokae. i had expected the usual, known wackjob assholes to come crawling out of the woodwork, but the “playtech casino” ‘bot spamming this thread (above, maybe removed already) came out of left field.

    wow. since we can’t prove that an imaginary friend did that, i guess it did. it’s settled, then

  4. Whoa! The squirrels are taking bribes now?

    Anyway, I want a fishapod! They’re cute!

  5. I like how science has to show ever-increasing amounts of proof, but they’ve yet to arrange an interview on 60 Minutes with this God person to settle the matter once and for all.

    Or maybe even a nice dramatic miracle–perhaps on 34th street?

  6. I sure would like to learn to play a slot machine. Now who could I turn to for this?

  7. This is undoubtedly a fraud perpetrated by the folks at National Geographic, working in conjunction with those corrupt scientists who take evolution as an article of faith. They’re coming after your children. They want to make them into godless heathens. The devil walks among us.

    Or something like that.

  8. And here, after reading the headline, I expected the content to follow with something about a company that made fish-shaped iPod cases getting sued by Christians over the fair use of the “jesus fish” icon. Dang. That woulda been funny.

  9. So spam gets through, while I have to try literally a half-dozen times or more to get my posts in. Et tu, server squirrels?

  10. Sandy,

    Yeah, yeah, it goes like this: Unless you can put together a foolproof case with absolutely no gaps whatsoever, then your “theory” is no more scientifically valid than our “theory” (aka fair-tale). Creationists/intelligent design-ers crack me up. “Give me proof! More proof! MOOOOORRRE PROOOOOOF! I’m still not satisfied. Sorry. What? You want proof of my theory? Um, here’s this storybook that various humans wrote a few thousand years ago. There’s yer proof.” It writes like an SNL sketch…but it’s real.

  11. Playtech Casino, must I say it yet again? God does not play dice.

  12. Evan: while that side requires no proof. just something “us crazy humans wrote” (who sang that, again, XTC?) about some really powerful dude.

    and that the crackpot side has allies among those who “side with them to get the liberals riled up”.

    yar.

  13. We require nuts and cocaine.

    Playtech Casino was there for us! Where were you?

  14. Evan:

    It writes like an SNL sketch…but it’s real.

    SNL was never that funny. Monty Python maybe.

    I am so glad one of these self-lobotomized ID’ers is not in front of me when they spew this idiocy.

    I do not want to get sued for hurting their feelings when I laugh, spraying spittle, directly in their face, nor do I wish to do the jail time should I give in to temptation and slap them silly.

  15. I’m not a creationist, but I will point out this isn’t that dramatic a discovery: The Ceolocanth had similar characteristics, and what’s more, it’s still alive today. You can catch them off the coast of South Africa.

  16. Very good post, Ron. I’ve always been a bit perplexed by this “missing link” idea since every living creature is a link from what came before to what came (or is to come) after. Nothing’s really “missing”.

  17. To merge this with another popular topic of discussion…

    If the only way to prove that a species is descended from an early species (rather than divinely created) is to show every transitional form, does it not follow that the only way to know you are indeed descended from your parents is to track down both of them?

    So, what if your father skips town and refuses to pay child support? Without his DNA, how do you know that your mother didn’t conceive miraculously, like the Virgin Mary did? Oh, sure, your mother had sex with somebody, but how do we know that having sex is what got her pregnant? Without the father’s DNA to compare, we can’t be sure that the pregnancy didn’t result from a miracle.

    Sorry, just felt like stirring things up.

  18. “fishes”? Does the NY Times have any editors with a pulse?

  19. no cause i was playing WoW and i wanted to get past the part with the eggs and i kept dieing and gramma said to pray about so i prayed and then i got past it so theres definitely a god no matter if drs and phds find some fucken fish with feet or whatever and how come theres still monkeys if we came from monkeys

  20. Moreover, without difinitive proof, how do you know we’re not all just brains in vats, man? Brains! In! VATS!

  21. Take it to its logical extreme, thoreau, and you’d need direct evidence of your parents’ role in your conception as well as evidence that links said conception directly to your earliest memories of being you. No gaps in the historical record!!

  22. Nevertheless, the discovery of tiktaalik forces their God into ever smaller gaps.

    I take it that Mr. Bailey didn’t read the post of mine that he linked. While some “creationists” (i.e., deists) might espouse such a view, no thoughtful Christian should ever embrace a “God of the gaps” position. It goes against everything will believe about the role of the Creator in creation.

    Also, who are these newfangled intelligent designers that do not accept transitional fossils?

    But even if his claim was aimed at anti-evolutionis neo-deists, the connecting of two species does not close but rather broadens the explanatory gap. Science rarely closes any “gaps” without new ones being created. This is what makes science an endless and exciting series of discoveries.

    So not only does he build a strawman by implying that most “creationists” fall back on GOTG explanations, Mr. Bailey shows that he doesn’t even understand what a GOTG position is.

  23. With all due respect, it seems contrary to the basic theory of evolution that a fish would somehow enhance the long term survival of the species by further adapting to a watery environment by growing legs, elbows, and digits.

    Truth is we don’t know, but I suspect that at some point along the human continuum that we will have an answer. I doubt if Jesus Freaks or Taoists are going to be happy with it. But there’s also a good chance that hard core evolutionists will not be happy either.

    Or maybe the answer will evolve so slowly that the evolutionists will evolve past evolution.

  24. Alright science lesson for Kwais time.

    If there is no missing link, what is the monkey that we descended from? I mean what are a few of the things between fishes and us?

    When I was a kid, it was supposed to be Neanderthals, but then I learn that we never descended from them.

    So are there any bones of anything that we actually descended from, and does it have a name?

    (I know this may be amateur science time. But I am not necessarily assumed to have read up on this for this website, where the JMJ’s you would think would have read up a little more about libertarian stuff)

  25. Or maybe the answer will evolve so slowly that the evolutionists will evolve past evolution.

    They’ll evolve to what, exactly?

    And there are fish right now whose environments demand that they travel across land briefly, between water holes, propelling themselves over the ground using–at least in part–their fins. Those whose fins happen to be slightly stronger, better suited for this type of “walking,” are more likely to survive. Give it a few million years and see what results from that situation.

  26. Steve Verdon has been at Joe Carter’s statistical ignorance for quite some time. Search his site for a lot of pretty good posts on ID.

    I know, I know, don’t feed the trolls, but I can’t resist.

  27. To clarify: fins that are “better suited” to walking aren’t just stronger. They could be more flexible, a joint could gradually move outward to change movement, etc. Any change that “helps” will, on average, be favored by selection. That process plus a shitload of time equals legs, if the environment demands it.

  28. “…you’d need direct evidence of your parents’ role in your conception….”

    What? You mean, like videotape?

    GAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

  29. Kwais,
    You can start here and follow the links.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject but some of the key findings are in there.

  30. TWC,

    Obviously, the ability to raise itself out the water gives the creature all sorts of benefits. It could better see what’s on the surface. It could get at prey on land or in shallow water. Like a snakehead, it could move to a better, less crowded water body.

    kwais,

    We didn’t evolve from monkeys. We and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor. Ditto with apes and great apes – we broke off from common ancestors at different points in pre-history.

  31. Kwais,

    Australopithicus is one that could be an ancestor. Google that word with “Eve” or “Lucy”.

    However, any talk of “missing links” is actually misleading, since the relationships between branches are very much up in the air. For instance, it’s still not been wholly decided where Neanderthals fall in relation to us. And likewise, this fishapod may not have had anything to do with current animals that dwell on land, it could have been just one species that evolved foot-like things and promptly died out. Then another fishapod could have come along and also evolved foot-like things, and given rise to land-dwelling creatures.

    None of this is closed-book stuff.

  32. Wino,

    “With all due respect, it seems contrary to the basic theory of evolution that a fish would somehow enhance the long term survival of the species by further adapting to a watery environment by growing legs, elbows, and digits.”

    Evolution theory does not espouse some subjective continuum toward some subjective perfection. Evolution is simply another word for “change over time.” Perhaps the creatures that were developing legs were reacting to lowering water tables in there environment. Perhaps they became trapped in a landlocked, lowering-water-table situation. Perhaps gravity was greater and it was a way of dealing with the bottom of the sea. Who knows? Evolution doesn’t have all the answers – just the best way of asking the questions.

    Kwais,

    “So are there any bones of anything that we actually descended from, and does it have a name?

    (I know this may be amateur science time. But I am not necessarily assumed to have read up on this for this website, where the JMJ’s you would think would have read up a little more about libertarian stuff)”

    The trouble with tracking the ancestry of certain creatures, like ourselves, is that we did not all live in environments conducive to generating fossils from our remains. Think of oil here. If all the organic matter on the Earth had existed in places conducive to the generation of oil, we could never run out – think about it. But that’s not the case. Our relatively recent ancestors, if our own behavior is any clue, probably lived near bodies of water, and bodies of water have a way of moving their borders about. That’s why the Mississippi culture, though thought to be the grandest of pre-Columbian North America, has left little clues for us today. The Mississippi moved around a lot.

    Also, human ancestors, if our modern relatives are considered, probably did not exist in very large numbers until very, very recently. There are plenty of fossils representing schooling and herding and flocking animals that lived in huge numbers and mass bred, but humans are not like that.

    That all said, there are plenty of bones and such that take our ancestry back quite a ways. Look it up.

    JMJ

  33. P Brooks,

    Preferably videotape, but more importantly, not just of you know what. You’d need to see the sperm fertilizing the egg, and then a continuous record that connects this ferilization to your earliest memories!

    kwais,

    As a rank layman, I would say the point is that just because we don’t have every bit of information theoretically possible about the past does not mean there is information that is “missing” in the same sense that a puzzle cannot be completed without a missing piece. If we do not know the exact species of primate preceding modern human, then sure, that information is “missing” in the sense that it would be nice to know that bit of information. But it is not “missing” in the sense that we cannot put together the big puzzle of evolution without it. We already have plenty of evidence that life has evolved on this planet.

  34. P Brooks,

    Preferably videotape, but more importantly, not just of you know what. You’d need to see the sperm fertilizing the egg, and then a continuous record that connects this ferilization to your earliest memories!

    kwais,

    As a rank layman, I would say the point is that just because we don’t have every bit of information theoretically possible about the past does not mean there is information that is “missing” in the same sense that a puzzle cannot be completed without a missing piece. If we do not know the exact species of primate preceding modern human, then sure, that information is “missing” in the sense that it would be nice to know that bit of information. But it is not “missing” in the sense that we cannot put together the big puzzle of evolution without it. We already have plenty of evidence that life has evolved on this planet.

  35. Anyone remember the educational film, “The Miracle of Life”? They actually did film the conception, development, and birth.

    I always wondered how traumatized that kid ended up.

  36. 375 million year old fish with the beginnings of digits, elbows, wrists and shoulders.

    God brought the last living specimen over last night and we ate it for dinner.

  37. BTW, I thought I also heard that the fishothing had both gills and lungs?

  38. Kwais –

    The scientific method involves asking questions, gathering evidence, and then proposing an answer that best fits the available evidence. Rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

    So, asking questions, like “what about the gaps?” is part of the scientific process. The problem, scientifically speaking, comes in a) proposing an answer that doesn’t fit the available evidence, b) dismissing an answer that does fit the available evidence outright, or c) proposing an answer that is not subject to empiricism. In that light, there is nothing wrong with creationists of any stripe asking the questions. The problem comes from failing to consider the evidence presented to answer the questions.

  39. Linguist and MK,
    Thanks, I can’t believe I didn’t know that. Why isn’t there a movie about it or something?

    I saw a show on the discovery channel where they were talking about the varios branches of human tree. But it was a tad confusing. And the way I understood it, it was entirely hypothitical, and they didn’t have any bones for any of it.

    Now that I think about it they had to have some kind of bones to justify those ideas.

    Joe;
    I know that. I use monkey as term to describe, apes, our ancestors, hairy people, and people with few skills, or people who do things I don’t understand. Over simplification being my favorite way to understand things.

    JMJ,
    I figured the whole “there aren’t that many bones. I had heard that one before. I was addressing the whole “is it possible to find the fossils”, not the “how come I don’t trip over them every day”

    Quasibil,
    I’m going to read your post more slowly to see if I understand it.

  40. thoreau

    “So, what if your father skips town and refuses to pay child support? Without his DNA, how do you know that your mother didn’t conceive miraculously, like the Virgin Mary did? Oh, sure, your mother had sex with somebody, but how do we know that having sex is what got her pregnant? Without the father’s DNA to compare, we can’t be sure that the pregnancy didn’t result from a miracle.”

    So in order to gain knowledge of god, all we need to do is examine and compare the DNA of every bastard child on the planet?

    I’m in for $20.

  41. Cartman – “fishes” is perfectly valid, especially for “more than one kind of fish”.

  42. I’ve just spent a retarded amount of time reading up on the evolutionary origins of humans on Wikipedia.

    Holy cow, there’s a lot of really interesting information out there. The most fascinating thing about it is that the development of modern humans is so fundamentally non-linear.

    “Anyone remember the educational film, “The Miracle of Life”? They actually did film the conception, development, and birth.”

    Nothing that gooey and aesthetically displeasing can possibly be a miracle.

  43. Quasibill-

    Your post, which may or may not appear directly above, is all the excuse I need to hop on one of my most favoritest hobbyhorses, to wit:

    Assertion is not the same as Fact. What distinguishes a fact from an assertion, is that a fact may be verified independently, by examining the evidence brought forth to support it (additional corroborative assertions do not qualify as evidence).

    It pleases me to know that I am not the only person aware of this distinction.

  44. By all the nonexistent gods! Something JMJ and I agree on.

  45. JMJ

    Perhaps gravity was greater and it was a way of dealing with the bottom of the sea. Who knows? Evolution doesn’t have all the answers – just the best way of asking the questions.

    The mass of the Earth has been sufficiently constant to rule any real gravitational changes out. However, you’re right that there are any number of reasonable explanations for why leggish/finny things might be useful without actually walking on land. Certainly if they were in swamps with rapidly fluctuating water levels, they’d have some reason to use these kinds of appendages.

    Certainly we’d conjectured that the Ceolacanth style lobe-fin fishes were using them as legs, but once we observed coelacanths* in their natural environment, we realized they just use them like normal fins, despite seeming leg-like.

    *no I don’t know how to spell it, and I’m too lazy to wikipedia it.

  46. I really, really wish that evidence, like this fossil, would cause Creationists and Intelligent Designers to question their dogma. Unfortunately, they are ignorant:

    Maggie Witlin, Seed Magazine
    Evolution operates too slowly to be measured. To actually observe the transmutation of one organism to a higher form would presumably take millions of years. No team of scientists could ever make measurements on such an experiment, and, therefore, the matter is beyond the realm of empirical science. Although there is some evidence of small variations in organisms today, there is no way to conclusively prove the changes within the present kinds can eventually metamorphose or actually change into different and higher kinds.

    What is more, the Second Law of Thermodynamics constitutes an incredible difficulty for evolutionists … In order for an organism to advance or evolve, energy must in some way be introduced, gained or increased. The Second Law, however, says this will not happen in any natural process unless external factors enter in to produce it. This, in effect, acknowledges the validity of the creationist approach and not that of evolution.

  47. On another side of the issue, I suppose that I qualify as a Creationist of sorts, believing that God is responsible for the creation the universe- but that the exact specific way doesn’t matter; I furthermore am pretty sure that you can’t prove that, or God’s existance in general, one way or another. Still, I think it’s a fine-and-dandy thing to do to study the evolution, and silly to attack it… but at the same time, it’s silly to attack the concept of a created universe in the other direction.

    My point, I guess, is just to ask you to make sure that you’re not lumping all Christians together, and to make sure that you keep your issues with “creationism” and “intellegent design”, rather than with Christianity in general. At least as far as this particular topic is concerned.

  48. There’s also the generally accepted idea that whales evolved from creatures that left the water, then returned. So none of this should really be surprising.

  49. Fennac,

    I never quite understood why it is that God was restricted in his methods and couldn’t possibly have used evolution as a means of creation. Evolution does not say anything about God one way or another. Evolutionists seem to be pretty ignorent about religion in that they seem to believe that the existence of God can only mean creation that looks like something out of a Cecil B. DeMill movie.

  50. “What is more, the Second Law of Thermodynamics constitutes an incredible difficulty for evolutionists … In order for an organism to advance or evolve, energy must in some way be introduced, gained or increased. The Second Law, however, says this will not happen in any natural process unless external factors enter in to produce it.”

    Like, oh, say, THE FUCKING SUN!

  51. Nothing that gooey and aesthetically displeasing can possibly be a miracle

    TWC can attest to exactly how messy giving birth really is. That’s why in all the old movies they sent the men out for lots of towels and pails of hot water.

    Regardless of the mess, being present when your kids are born is waaaayyyy better than chain smoking while pacing the waiting room.

  52. Jersey, change over time is what happens, but the underpinnings of evolutionary theory is that creatures that adapt best ensure the survival of the species.

    I am not against the theory of adaptation of species per se, but IMO subtle changes in left-handed amino acids multiplied over millenia will not give rise to liberal Democrats in America.

  53. mediageek-

    Exactly! The sun is the key to understanding how life can exist despite the second law.

    I hate the second law strawman! I hate it!

  54. Elli,

    They’ll evolve to what, exactly?

    In my ever-so-clever (to me) little ditty I meant that as science progresses and evolves and the answer slowly comes closer that the evolutionists will also evolve their thinking away from what we now think of as eveolutionary thinking. The change will be subtle and evolve over time until such point that nobody actually is an evolutionist any more.

    I’m all for scientific inquiry but I tend to be routinely skeptical of the latest and/or trendiest pronouncements. Keep in mind that we’re only a couple of decades out from the days when TRANS FATS were destined to save our clogged arteries from the scourge of animal fat. We’re only a century out from having enough sense to wash our hands before eating or surgically removing bullets. We’re only two centuries out from blood letting. Point being that state-of the-art scientific knowledge is sometimes dead wrong.

  55. On another side of the issue, I suppose that I qualify as a Creationist of sorts, believing that God is responsible for the creation the universe-

    Then who or what is responsible for the creation of God?

  56. I’m all for scientific inquiry but I tend to be routinely skeptical of the latest and/or trendiest pronouncements.

    If evolution were some new thing I’d agree with you. It isn’t. It’s an idea with a long pedigree, and over time the accumulation of evidence has overwhelmingly favored natural selection acting on genetic mutations as the mechanism by which new species emerge. The accumulation of evidence has also overwhelmingly favored an old earth populated by a progression of different life forms over the course of more than a billion years.

    This isn’t cold fusion. This is more like the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which, despite what the creationists say, is perfectly compatible with every study ever conducted in biochemistry and biophysics).

  57. An even more important announcement was released today:

    Using new techniques for resurrecting ancient genes, scientists have for the first time reconstructed the Darwinian evolution of an apparently “irreducibly complex” molecular system. The research was led by Joe Thornton, assistant professor of biology at the University of Oregon’s Center for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and will be published in the April 7 issue of SCIENCE. “We found that complexity evolved piecemeal through a process of Molecular Exploitation — old genes, constrained by selection for entirely different functions, have been recruited by evolution to participate in new interactions and new functions.”

  58. Corrected link to original articled

  59. I never quite understood why it is that God was restricted in his methods and couldn’t possibly have used evolution as a means of creation.

    For Creationists, IDers, and Fundies in general, their problem with evolution boils down to Adam, Eve, and Jesus.

    If evolution is true, then there where no first humans (Adam and Eve). If Adam and Eve didn’t exist, then the story in Genesis about Original Sin is false.

    Then, if there where no Original Sin, what was the reason Jesus was crucified??

  60. “…what was the reason Jesus was crucified??”

    Because he was crazy?

  61. you’re not a creationist in the sense meant by most evolutionists discussing the topic, if you just believe that a god or gods or Flying Spaghetti Monster or Great Green Arkleseizure created the universe. “Creationist” is short for “young-Earth creationist/ 6 – 24 – hour days creationists/ Biblical literalist/ strict creationist/ Genesis literalist”.

  62. Thow-row, I’m guessing that Evolutionary thought originated sometime between blood letting and hand washing. So, no, it isn’t particularly new unless you cast it in geological time.

    However, new discoveries that are as significant as fossilized fish elbows, may upon diligent inquiry prove to be something altogether different. That was my point.

    Brian,

    Then who or what is responsible for the creation of God?

    Great question. I once asked my bio prof a similar question about the then-popular Big Bang theory. You know, something from nothing? Or near nothing. And what was there before? Like the space the Big Bang was filling up.

    Got a similar answer as to what you might expect from a Creationist Christian to your question.

    Come on, it was a pretty cool Straw Man.

  63. biologist-

    I don’t mean to get too semantical here, but I thought that “creationist” can also be used to refer to the “old earth ID” people: The ones who believe that the earth is billions of years old, but the progression of life forms has required active intervention to overcome issues of “irreducible complexity.”

    These people are much more creationists than those who believe in a Watchmaker God that set up the initial conditions of the universe in such a way that life would emerge via the natural processes of this universe.

  64. John,

    When you say, “I never quite understood why it is that God was restricted in his methods and couldn’t possibly have used evolution as a means of creation. Evolution does not say anything about God one way or another,” you’re dead on.

    But when you say, “Evolutionists seem to be pretty ignorent about religion in that they seem to believe that the existence of God can only mean creation that looks like something out of a Cecil B. DeMill movie,” you seem to have your sites pointed the wrong way. Are scientists demanding “equal time” in religious schools? I don’t think so. The ruckus is being caused by creationists wanting equal time in science classes.

    Of course, even this is just a problem due to the institution of public education, which I admit makes the whole problem intractible to a large degree. Still, we have what we have, and creationism has no place in a public school’s science class. And that’s the crux of the issue.

  65. Thow-row, I’m guessing that Evolutionary thought originated sometime between blood letting and hand washing. So, no, it isn’t particularly new unless you cast it in geological time.

    you’d be incorrect. evolutionary ideas have been around since the Greek philosophers. our modern understanding of evolution begins with Darwin in 1859, and was renewed with the evolutionary synthesis in the early 20th century, which resolved discrepancies between newly-discovered Mendelian particulate inheritance and the gradations in characters actually observed in organisms.

    also, why would you ask a bio prof about Big Bang theory? that would be a more appropriate question for a physicist.

    thoreau – that could also be the case, depending on context. I was probably overgeneralizing again.

  66. I have relatives that grew up in strict fundie environments of the 1930’s and 1940’s who were taught by the church that the one day in Genesis was not literal. Interesting because apparently there was cognitive dissonance even then. Interesting to me because although strict fundie (I mean so strict that sex was forbidden because it might lead to dancing), there was no strict interpretation of the six day theory of creation.

    They cited some passage in Psalms as I recall, about a day being as a thousand years to God. Even in that, they held that this was still not literal but a way of showing that the passage of time in human terms was very different than eternal time on God’s clock.

    For What It’s Worth Regards, TWC

  67. bio,

    also, why would you ask a bio prof about Big Bang theory? that would be a more appropriate question for a physicist.

    Because it was Bonehead Biology for non-majors and it was part of class discussion. Great class too, we spent at least half of the term on genetics which was way over my head but interesting as could be none-the-less.

    you’d be incorrect. evolutionary ideas have been around since the Greek philosophers. our modern understanding of evolution begins with Darwin in 1859

    I don’t think I’d be too incorrect since there is a huge difference between ideas floating around for centuries and a modern scientific understanding of evolution beginning with Darwin in 1859.

  68. good point. from what I’ve been told, in the Hebrew that Genesis was originally recorded in, the word that was translated as day was “yom”, which could mean a 24-hour time period, or an indeterminate period of time.

  69. Come on, it was a pretty cool Straw Man.

    Hardly, TWC but nice try. That something must at some level just come to exist (or has always existed, whether it’s God, or whatever created God, or whatever created whatever created God… etc. etc.) was the point. Once you accept that, then a universe that just comes to exist is a much simpler explanation than some chain of creators that you chose to insert for no reason but personal whim (or perhaps the whim of others). At least we have evidence that the universe exists.

    The big-bang is totally irrelevant here. That we don’t know the exact processes that this thing we call the universe goes through is rather obvious but completely beside my main point which you totally missed in your rush to mislabel it.

  70. the Second Law of Thermodynamics constitutes an incredible difficulty for evolutionists … In order for an organism to advance or evolve, energy must in some way be introduced, gained or increased. The Second Law, however, says this will not happen in any natural process unless external factors enter in to produce it.

    First of all, LoTII specifically relates to ENTROPY. Entropy is typically described as ‘disorder’ but it isn’t disorder in the traditional sense. This does not preclude self-organization under some circumstances. Secondly, it refers to a closed system. The biosphere is NOT a closed system. There is a constant introduction of material from both space and from the earth (via volcanoes and black-smokers and the like). There is also a constant input and output of energy. Minimal energy introduced from below as the earth cools, plus some tiny energy input from lunar tides, but of course the sun inputs massive amounts of energy, and huge amounts of energy are radiated out to space.

    So no, the 2nd law is not particularly informative on the grand scale.

  71. my good point comment was directed at your 5:06 comment, TWC.

  72. Brian,

    The big-bang is totally irrelevant here.

    Exactly, which is why I was admiring my Straw Man handiwork. 🙂

    And, BTW, I got your point. Actually have made that argument a time or two myself.

  73. They cited some passage in Psalms as I recall, about a day being as a thousand years to God. Even in that, they held that this was still not literal but a way of showing that the passage of time in human terms was very different than eternal time on God’s clock.

    A few years ago, I read a book titled The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder that used relativity to explain how 15 billion years could be perceived as six days. I don’t remember anything really specific about the argument though.

  74. Next time some moe-ron tries that 2nd Law bullshit, ask him to state the 2nd Law. If you hear something about the integral of dq-sub-rev over T, shake his hand.

    In my experience, you’ll never shake his hand.

  75. I never quite understood why it is that God was restricted in his methods and couldn’t possibly have used evolution as a means of creation. Evolution does not say anything about God one way or another. Evolutionists seem to be pretty ignorent about religion in that they seem to believe that the existence of God can only mean creation that looks like something out of a Cecil B. DeMill[sic] movie.

    It is the creationists who are saying that “creation that looks like something out of a Cecil B. DeMill[sic] movie.” I realize that a lot of christians (possibly a majority) do not take the biblical fables so literally but the folks we are seeing referred to here do.

    Frankly it is really strange to observe. The fact of the matter is that it is only in North America that evolution is the slightest bit controversial (and it is much less so in Canada). And the controversy is stoked by fundamentalist literalists, who are simply more numerous here.

    Despite much lower church attendance and declaration of belief it is still accurate to describe Europe (and Australia and New Zealand) as Christian countries (or perhaps Judeo-Christian).

    However the majority attend (or don’t attend but claim affiliation with) mainline religions which have long since reconciled and rationalized the biblical fables with modern science. Science and evolution don’t conflict with the church’s teachings since the church is not dealing with physical reality. It is only the biblical literalists who believe in a physically real god, hence they must believe in a physically real creation.

    Hell, I was listening to an NPR report a while ago where they were interviewing some rabbis about how Judaism was dealing with the fact that the escape from Egypt story was simply not supported by the historical record. They pretty much said that the the truth of the story was irrelevant and that they would simply keep telling it. It seems that the symbolism of the story is what is important, not its truth. The same goes for the creation story.

    That said I am an atheist. I can no more get my head around the mystical or trancedental god (or the need to believe in it) than the physically real old geezer with the white beard or the heavenly father on Kolob.

  76. My evangelical friend, a few weeks ago, told me that fetuses breath as if they have gills while they’re in the womb, something which I did not know. When I pointed out that this fits in well with the idea that we evolved from sea creatures, he simply shook his head and said, “That’s bullshit.”

    So there you have it.

  77. Zach, you’re so right — as Rob Hood (Southern Baptist and conservative pundit) explains:

    We have a major problem here in America. People just do not get how serious the situation really is. We have crazed madmen our there telling our children that God is a fairy tale, the Garden of Eden never existed, and creation never happened. They are teaching our children that we derived from apes or evolved over millions of years. What garbage! How do we expect our children to grow up believing in God and obeying the laws of God when they are not taught by the parents to ignore these false doctrines? Yes, Satan has a very clever mind indeed. Evolution. What a deception! What a way to deceive many. What a way to pull people away from God.

  78. …God doesn’t play dice.

    Comment by: Einstein at April 6, 2006 12:03 PM

    Don’t tell God what to do with his dice.

  79. I love how people yell about how, no matter how much you breed dogs with dogs, all you get are dogs.

    Well, yes. And if you breed two mammals, you’ll always get mammals. If you breed two primates… always primates. Evolution is cladistically conservative. Once you are in a particular grouping, your descendants don’t leave that group. Humans still belong to every single taxonomic group that their direct ancestors belonged to.

    Everything that will descend from dogs will still by and large bear all the distinctive features that distinguish dogs from all other forms of life.

  80. “God said it. That settles it.”

    Got me on that one… :p

  81. TWC,

    You described the day-age theory (though hypothesis would be more appropriate). I got it too, and cognitive dissonance is right. Every word in the Bible is literally true, and if you believe otherwise you’re going to Hell. Except “day”, that’s figurative. Well, and “evening” and “morning”. And the parables. But the rest of it is literal, especially the parts that are different in English!

    Day-age doesn’t get you very far, either; the order of events in Genesis contradicts modern science.

    zach,

    Humans, like all vertebrates, have gill slits for a time, but not functional gills. A fetus “breathes” through the placenta.

  82. Tom,

    That’s bullshit.

  83. change over time is what happens, but the underpinnings of evolutionary theory is that creatures that adapt best ensure the survival of the species.

    Erm, no. Evolution is the cumulative effect over time of organisms acting to ensure their OWN survival. Species matters not at all. If evolution benefitted the survival of a species (presumably through some mystical process, because how in the world is the organism supposed to know what behavior best encourages its species’ survival? Humans can’t even do that!), then new species would never appear and the argument would be moot.

    Organisms try to survive. That’s all. The ones that are better suited to their environment produce more offspring. The offspring resemble their parents, passing along whatever individual variations the parents possessed. In this way, biological creatures change over time. They can’t NOT change. We know for a fact that organisms vary from one another within a species, and if you apply that over millions or billions of years, it’s statistically impossible for organisms not to end up vastly different than they started out.

    Species is essentially an arbitrary concept applied by human beings onto the vast continuum of organisms in the real world. Just listen to two entomologists arguing over classifying a new species of beetle to understand how arbitrary it really is. At some point we consider two organisms so divergent as to be two different species. (The theoretical distinction is that they can’t interbreed, but this is not universally true — many related species can produce viable offspring, lions and tigers for example.) Species is just a way of quantifying the infinite biological variation around us. Evolution describes how that variation propagates through populations over time.

    Caveat: I am not a biologist. Apply usual grain of salt.

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