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Where Are The Half-evolved Dinosaurs?


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http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/16669.html

 

Where Are The Half-Evolved Dinosaurs?

by Babu Ranganathan

August 09, 2006 09:00 AM EST

 

Millions of people are taught that the fossil record furnishes proof of evolution. But, where are there fossils of half-evolved dinosaurs or other creatures?

 

The fossil record contains fossils of only complete and fully-formed species. There are no fossils of partially-evolved species to indicate that a gradual process of evolution ever occurred. Even among evolutionists there are diametrically different interpretations and reconstructions of the fossils used to support human evolution from a supposed ape-like ancestry.

 

Even if evolution takes millions and millions of years, we should still be able to see some stages of its process. But, we simply don't observe any partially-evolved fish, frogs, lizards, birds, dogs, cats among us. Every species of plant and animal is complete and fully-formed.

 

Another problem is how could partially-evolved plant and animal species survive over millions of years when their basic organs and tissues were still in the process of evolving? How, for example, were animals breathing, eating, and reproducing if their respiratory, digestive, and reproductive organs were still evolving?

 

What about all those spectacular and popular claims reported in the mass media of evolutionists having discovered certain transitional forms in the fossil record? Such claims have not been accepted by all evolutionists and, after much investigation and analysis, these claims have been found to have no hard basis in science. This has been the case of every so-called "missing link" and "transitional" form discovered since Darwin.

 

Many times, evolutionists use similarities of traits between different forms of life as a basis for claiming a transitional link. But, the problem for evolutionists is that the traits which they cite are complete and fully-formed. The issue of comparative similarities and traits will be discussed later in this article. The important thing is to get the big picture!

 

If macro-evolution (evolution across biological kinds) actually occurred then we should find millions of indisputable transitional forms in the fossil record instead of a few disputable transitional forms that even evolutionists cannot all agree upon. And, again, the point needs to be emphasized that species cannot wait millions of years for their vital (or necessary) organs and biological systems to evolve.

 

In fact, it is precisely because of these problems that more and more modern evolutionists are adopting a new theory known as Punctuated Equilibrium which says that plant and animal species evolved suddenly from one kind to another and that is why we don't see evidence of partially-evolved species in the fossil record. Of course, we have to accept their word on blind faith because there is no way to prove or disprove what they are saying. These evolutionists claim that something like massive bombardment of radiation resulted in mega mutations in species which produced "instantaneous" changes from one life form to another. The nature and issue of mutations will be discussed later and the reader will see why such an argument is not viable.

 

The fact that animal and plant species are found fully formed and complete in the fossil record is powerful evidence (although not proof) for creation because it is evidence that they came into existence as fully formed and complete which is possible only by creation.

 

Evolutionists claim that the genetic and biological similarities between species is evidence of common ancestry. However, that is only one interpretation of the evidence. Another possibility is that the comparative similarities are due to a common Designer who designed similar functions for similar purposes in all the various forms of life. Neither position can be scientifically proved.

 

Although Darwin was partially correct by showing that natural selection occurs in nature, the problem is that natural selection itself is not a creative force. Natural selection can only work with those biological variations that are possible. The evidence from genetics supports only the possibility for horizontal evolution (i.e. varieties of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.) but not vertical evolution (i.e. from fish to human). Unless nature has the ability to perform genetic engineering vertical evolution will not be possible.

 

The early grooves in the human embryo that appear to look like gills are really the early stages in the formation of the face, throat, and neck regions. The so-called "tailbone" is the early formation of the coccyx and spinal column which, because of the rate of growth being faster than the rest of the body at this stage, appears to look like a tail. The coccyx has already been proven to be useful in providing support for the pelvic muscles.

 

Modern science has shown that there are genetic limits to evolution or biological change in nature. Again, all biological variations, whether they are beneficial to survival or not, are possible only within the genetic potential and limits of a biological kind such as the varieties among dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc.

 

Variations across biological kinds such as humans evolving from ape-like creatures and apes, in turn, evolving from dog-like creatures and so on, as Darwinian evolutionary theory teaches, are not possible unless Nature has the capability of performing genetic engineering.

 

Biological variations are determined by the DNA or genetic code of species. The DNA molecule is actually a molecular string of various nucleic acids which are arranged in a sequence just like the letters in a sentence. It is this sequence in DNA that tells cells in the body how to construct various tissues and organs.

 

The common belief among evolutionists is that random mutations in the genetic code over time will produce entirely new sequences for new traits and characteristics which natural selection can then act upon resulting in entirely new species. Evolutionists consider mutations to be a form of natural genetic engineering.

 

However, the very nature of mutations precludes such a possibility. Mutations are accidental changes in the sequential structure of the genetic code caused by various random environmental forces such as radiation and toxic chemicals.

 

Almost all true mutations are harmful, which is what one would normally expect from accidents. Even if a good mutation occurred for every good one there will be thousands of harmful ones with the net result over time being disastrous for the species.

 

Most biological variations, however, occur as a result of new combinations of previously existing genes - not because of mutations which are rare in nature.

 

Furthermore, mutations simply produce new varieties of already existing traits. For example, mutations in the gene for human hair may change the gene so that another type of human hair develops, but the mutations won't change the gene so that feathers or wings develop.

 

Sometimes mutations may trigger the duplication of already existing traits (i.e. an extra finger, toe, or even an entire head, even in another area of the body!). But mutations have no ability to produce entirely new traits or characteristics.

 

Young people, and even adults, often wonder how all the varieties and races of people could come from the same human ancestors. Well, in principle, that's no different than asking how children with different color hair ( i.e., blond, brunette, brown, red ) can come from the same parents who both have black hair.

 

Just as some individuals today carry genes to produce descendants with different color hair and eyes, humanity's first parents possessed genes to produce all the variety and races of men. You and I today may not carry the genes to produce every variety or race of humans, but humanity's first parents did possess such genes.

 

All varieties of humans carry genes for the same basic traits, but not all humans carry every possible variation of those genes. For example, one person may be carrying several variations of the gene for eye color ( i.e., brown, green, blue ) , but someone else may be carrying only one variation of the gene for eye color ( i.e., brown ). Thus, both will have different abilities to affect the eye color of their offspring.

 

Science cannot prove we're here by creation, but neither can science prove we're here by chance or macro-evolution. No one has observed either. They are both accepted on faith. The issue is which faith, Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory or creation, has better scientific support.

 

What we believe about life's origins does influence our philosophy and value of life as well as our view of ourselves and others. This is no small issue!

 

Just because the laws of science can explain how life and the universe operate and work doesn't mean there is no Maker. Would it be rational to believe that there's no designer behind airplanes because the laws of science can explain how airplanes operate and work?

 

Natural laws are adequate to explain how the order in life, the universe, and even a microwave oven operates, but mere undirected natural laws can never fully explain the origin of such order.

 

There is, of course, much more to be said on this subject. Scientist, creationist, debater, writer, and lecturer, Dr. Walt Brown covers various scientific issues ( i.e. fossils, biological variation and diversity, the origin of life, comparative anatomy and embryology, the issue of vestigial organs, the age of the earth, etc. ) at greater depth on his website at www.creationscience.com.

 

On his website, Dr. Brown even discusses the possibility of any remains of life on Mars as having originated from the Earth due to great geological disturbances in the Earth's past which easily could have spewed thousands of tons of rock and dirt containing microbes into space. In fact, A Newsweek article of September 21, 1998, p.12 mentions exactly this possibility.

 

An excellent source of information from highly qualified scientists who are creationists is the Institute for Creation Research (www.icr.org) in San Diego, California. Also, the reader may find answers to many difficult questions concerning the Bible (including questions on creation and evolution, Noah's Ark, how dinosaurs fit into the Bible, etc.) at www.ChristianAnswers.net.

 

It is only fair that school students be exposed to the scientific arguments and evidence on both sides of the creation/evolution issue.

 

Babu G. Ranganathan

 

The author, Babu G. Ranganathan, is an experienced Christian writer. He has his B.A. with academic concentrations in Bible and Biology. As a religion and science writer he has been recognized in the 24th edition of Marquis Who's Who In The East. The author has a website at: www.religionscience.com

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Guest aldous

hahahahaha! Is he serious? He's throwing around terms like Macro-evolution that he evidently ripped from the back of a Cheerio's box over breakfast! Amazing. You'll never catch me arguing finance with an investment consultant, nor the holy trinity with a christian. You'd think people wouldn't want to look dumb pontificating subjects they clearly know nothing about! He honestly pictures like half a fish swimming around with half a gill? Wow.

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The early grooves in the human embryo that appear to look like gills are really the early stages in the formation of the face, throat, and neck regions. The so-called "tailbone" is the early formation of the coccyx and spinal column which, because of the rate of growth being faster than the rest of the body at this stage, appears to look like a tail. The coccyx has already been proven to be useful in providing support for the pelvic muscles.

 

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/se...ml#ontogeny_ex2

 

Example 2: vertebrate pharyngeal pouches and branchial arches

 

There are numerous other examples in which an organism's evolutionary history is represented temporarily in its development. Early in development, mammalian embryos temporarily have pharyngeal pouches, which are morphologically indistinguishable from aquatic vertebrate gill pouches (Gilbert 1997, pp. 380, 382). This evolutionary relic reflects the fact that mammalian ancestors were once aquatic gill-breathing vertebrates. The pharyngeal pouches of modern fish embryos eventually become perforated to form gills. Mammalian pharyngeal pouches of course do not develop into gills, but rather give rise to structures that evolved from gills, such as the eustachian tube, middle ear, tonsils, parathyroid, and thymus (Kardong 2002, pp. 52, 504, 581). The arches between the gills, called branchial arches, were present in jawless fish and some of these branchial arches later evolved into the bones of the jaw, and, eventually, into the bones of the inner ear as recounted above and in prediction 1.4, example 2.

 

Example 4: the embryonic human tail

 

Humans are classified by taxonomists as apes; one of the defining derived characters of apes is the lack of an external tail. However, human embryos initially develop tails in development. At between four and five weeks of age, the normal human embryo has 10-12 developing tail vertebrae which extend beyond the anus and legs, accounting for more than 10% of the length of the embryo (Fallon and Simandl 1978; Moore and Persaud 1998, pp. 91-100; Nievelstein et al. 1993). The embryonic tail is composed of several complex tissues besides the developing vertebrae, including a secondary neural tube (spinal cord), a notochord, mesenchyme, and tail gut. By the eighth week of gestation, the sixth to twelfth vertebrae have disappeared via cell death, and the fifth and fourth tail vertebrae are still being reduced. Likewise, the associated tail tissues also undergo cell death and regress.

 

tail_cross_section.jpg

 

Figure 2.4.3. A histological cross-section of the human embryo's tail at Carnegie stage 14. The complex structures present in the human tail were visualized with light microscopy in this image. At Carnegie stage 14 (about 32 days old), the human tail is composed of neural tube (n, doubled in a large fraction of embryos), notochord ©, developing vertebrae (somites, s), gut (g), and mesenchyme (m). These specialized structures extend for the length of the tail, and the cells of all these structures die and are digested by immune system macrophages within the next two weeks of embryonic development.

 

Using light and scanning electron microscopy, several detailed analyses of the embryonic human tail have shown that the dead and degenerating tail cells are ingested and digested by macrophages (macrophages are large white blood cells of the immune system which more normally ingest and destroy invading pathogens such as bacteria) (Fallon and Simandl 1978; Nievelstein et al. 1993; Sapunar et al. 2001; Saraga-Babic et al. 1994; Saraga-Babic et al. 2002). In adult humans, the tail is finally reduced to a small bone composed of just four fused vertebrae (the coccyx) which do not protrude from the back (Fallon and Simandl 1978; Sapunar et al. 2001) (see Figure 2.4.1).

 

The regression of the human embryonic tail can be clearly seen in the fantastic images available at the Multi-dimensional Human Embryo site, where online images of three-dimensional MRI scans of live human embryos are archived. Different levels of maturity of the human embryo are classified according to the Carnegie stages. The embryonic post-anal tail is clearly visible in Carnegie stages 14, 15, and 16. The site has movies of a human embryo in rotation, giving clear views of the embryo's three-dimensional contours. Most stages have movies with the neural tube highlighted. It is especially informative to compare these rotating movies of the early stages (e.g. Carnegie stage 14 or stage 15) with the last stage (Carnegie stage 23), where the regression by cell death of the neural tube in the tail is clearly evident.

 

Another problem is how could partially-evolved plant and animal species survive over millions of years when their basic organs and tissues were still in the process of evolving? How, for example, were animals breathing, eating, and reproducing if their respiratory, digestive, and reproductive organs were still evolving?

 

lol... He really does not understand evolution and this ignorant statement pins it all down here. He sees evolution like a boy with blocks. He sees it as a little piece here and a little piece there being added until millions of years later you have a functioning organ. It just doesn't work that way. You have simpler organs and smaller organs, not half-made organs -- like a cross section of a kidney! lol... THis guy, instead of asking his fundy friends who know nothing of evolkution, should actually sit down and read a book. Of course, that would mean he actually wanted to know!

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What about all those spectacular and popular claims reported in the mass media of evolutionists having discovered certain transitional forms in the fossil record? Such claims have not been accepted by all evolutionists and, after much investigation and analysis, these claims have been found to have no hard basis in science. This has been the case of every so-called "missing link" and "transitional" form discovered since Darwin.

 

He talks a lot of schmack but never shows his hand. Where is this "investigation and analysis?" Where is his evdience that there is "no hard basis in science?" I certainly don't see it anywhere in this article! Let's look at what science actually says:

 

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/se...l_intermediates

 

Prediction 1.4: Intermediate and transitional forms: the possible morphologies of predicted common ancestors

 

Example 1: reptile-birds

Example 2: reptile-mammals

Example 3: ape-humans

Example 4: legged whales

Example 5: legged seacows

 

All fossilized animals found should conform to the standard phylogenetic tree. If all organisms are united by descent from a common ancestor, then there is one single true historical phylogeny for all organisms. Similarly, there is one single true historical genealogy for any individual human. It directly follows that if there is a unique universal phylogeny, then all organisms, both past and present, fit in that phylogeny uniquely. Since the standard phylogenetic tree is the best approximation of the true historical phylogeny, we expect that all fossilized animals should conform to the standard phylogenetic tree within the error of our scientific methods.

 

Every node shared between two branches in a phylogeny or cladogram represents a predicted common ancestor; thus there are ~29 common ancestors predicted from the tree shown in Figure 1. Our standard tree shows that the bird grouping is most closely related to the reptilian grouping, with a node linking the two (A in Figure 1); thus we predict the possibility of finding fossil intermediates between birds and reptiles. The same reasoning applies to mammals and reptiles (B in Figure 1). However, we predict that we should never find fossil intermediates between birds and mammals.

 

It should be pointed out that there is no requirement for intermediate organisms to go extinct. In fact, all living organisms can be thought of as intermediate between adjacent taxa in a phylogenetic tree. For instance, modern reptiles are intermediate between amphibians and mammals, and reptiles are also intermediate between amphibians and birds. As far as macroevolutionary predictions of morphology are concerned, this point is trivial, as it is essentially just a restatement of the concept of a nested hierarchy.

 

However, a phylogenetic tree does make significant predictions about the morphology of intermediates which no longer exist or which have yet to be discovered. Each predicted common ancestor has a set of explicitly specified morphological characteristics, based on each of the most common derived characters of its descendants and based upon the transitions that must have occurred to transform one taxa into another (Cunningham et al. 1998; Futuyma 1998, pp. 107-108). From the knowledge of avian and reptilian morphology, it is possible to predict some of the characteristics that a reptile-bird intermediate should have, if found. Therefore, we expect the possibility of finding reptile-like fossils with feathers, bird-like fossils with teeth, or bird-like fossils with long reptilian tails. However, we do not expect transitional fossils between birds and mammals, like mammalian fossils with feathers or bird-like fossils with mammalian-style middle ear bones.

 

(more on site)

 

hahahahaha! Is he serious? He's throwing around terms like Macro-evolution that he evidently ripped from the back of a Cheerio's box over breakfast! Amazing. You'll never catch me arguing finance with an investment consultant, nor the holy trinity with a christian. You'd think people wouldn't want to look dumb pontificating subjects they clearly know nothing about! He honestly pictures like half a fish swimming around with half a gill? Wow.

 

He's so ignorant it's offensive! It's like a neanderthal talking about astrophysics, it's just sad. He might as well be grunting with wild gestures! Just look at what creationism has done to a healthy brain! Who will save this man from complete scientific atrophy?

 

Science cannot prove we're here by creation, but neither can science prove we're here by chance or macro-evolution. No one has observed either. They are both accepted on faith. The issue is which faith, Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory or creation, has better scientific support.

 

Again, more talking out of his ass. And why not? It's not like his herd will dispute his "findings." They're mindless followers, believerbots awaiting the latest programming.

 

Science can prove evolution. It's had over 150 years to do so and scientists across many diverse fileds have been tirelessly amassing very convincing evdience. This is why evolution is refered to as a fact and a theory:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/evolution..._and_theory.htm

 

Evolution as Fact and Theory

 

by Stephen Jay Gould

 

Kirtley Mather, who died last year at age ninety, was a pillar of both science and Christian religion in America and one of my dearest friends. The difference of a half-century in our ages evaporated before our common interests. The most curious thing we shared was a battle we each fought at the same age. For Kirtley had gone to Tennessee with Clarence Darrow to testify for evolution at the Scopes trial of 1925. When I think that we are enmeshed again in the same struggle for one of the best documented, most compelling and exciting concepts in all of science, I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

 

According to idealized principles of scientific discourse, the arousal of dormant issues should reflect fresh data that give renewed life to abandoned notions. Those outside the current debate may therefore be excused for suspecting that creationists have come up with something new, or that evolutionists have generated some serious internal trouble. But nothing has changed; the creationists have presented not a single new fact or argument. Darrow and Bryan were at least more entertaining than we lesser antagonists today. The rise of creationism is politics, pure and simple; it represents one issue (and by no means the major concern) of the resurgent evangelical right. Arguments that seemed kooky just a decade ago have reentered the mainstream.

 

The basic attack of modern creationists falls apart on two general counts before we even reach the supposed factual details of their assault against evolution. First, they play upon a vernacular misunderstanding of the word "theory" to convey the false impression that we evolutionists are covering up the rotten core of our edifice. Second, they misuse a popular philosophy of science to argue that they are behaving scientifically in attacking evolution. Yet the same philosophy demonstrates that their own belief is not science, and that "scientific creationism" is a meaningless and self-contradictory phrase, an example of what Orwell called "newspeak."

 

In the American vernacular, "theory" often means "imperfect fact"—part of a hierarchy of confidence running downhill from fact to theory to hypothesis to guess. Thus creationists can (and do) argue: evolution is "only" a theory, and intense debate now rages about many aspects of the theory. If evolution is less than a fact, and scientists can't even make up their minds about the theory, then what confidence can we have in it? Indeed, President Reagan echoed this argument before an evangelical group in Dallas when he said (in what I devoutly hope was campaign rhetoric): "Well, it is a theory. It is a scientific theory only, and it has in recent years been challenged in the world of science—that is, not believed in the scientific community to be as infallible as it once was."

 

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.

 

Moreover, "fact" does not mean "absolute certainty." The final proofs of logic and mathematics flow deductively from stated premises and achieve certainty only because they are not about the empirical world. Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

 

Evolutionists have been clear about this distinction between fact and theory from the very beginning, if only because we have always acknowledged how far we are from completely understanding the mechanisms (theory) by which evolution (fact) occurred. Darwin continually emphasized the difference between his two great and separate accomplishments: establishing the fact of evolution, and proposing a theory—natural selection—to explain the mechanism of evolution. He wrote in The Descent of Man: "I had two distinct objects in view; firstly, to show that species had not been separately created, and secondly, that natural selection had been the chief agent of change. . . . Hence if I have erred in . . . having exaggerated its [natural selection's] power . . . I have at least, as I hope, done good service in aiding to overthrow the dogma of separate creations."

 

Thus Darwin acknowledged the provisional nature of natural selection while affirming the fact of evolution. The fruitful theoretical debate that Darwin initiated has never ceased. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Darwin's own theory of natural selection did achieve a temporary hegemony that it never enjoyed in his lifetime. But renewed debate characterizes our decade, and, while no biologists questions the importance of natural selection, many doubt its ubiquity. In particular, many evolutionists argue that substantial amounts of genetic change may not be subject to natural selection and may spread through the populations at random. Others are challenging Darwin's linking of natural selection with gradual, imperceptible change through all intermediary degrees; they are arguing that most evolutionary events may occur far more rapidly than Darwin envisioned.

 

Scientists regard debates on fundamental issues of theory as a sign of intellectual health and a source of excitement. Science is—and how else can I say it?—most fun when it plays with interesting ideas, examines their implications, and recognizes that old information might be explained in surprisingly new ways. Evolutionary theory is now enjoying this uncommon vigor. Yet amidst all this turmoil no biologist has been lead to doubt the fact that evolution occurred; we are debating how it happened. We are all trying to explain the same thing: the tree of evolutionary descent linking all organisms by ties of genealogy. Creationists pervert and caricature this debate by conveniently neglecting the common conviction that underlies it, and by falsely suggesting that evolutionists now doubt the very phenomenon we are struggling to understand.

 

Secondly, creationists claim that "the dogma of separate creations," as Darwin characterized it a century ago, is a scientific theory meriting equal time with evolution in high school biology curricula. But a popular viewpoint among philosophers of science belies this creationist argument. Philosopher Karl Popper has argued for decades that the primary criterion of science is the falsifiability of its theories. We can never prove absolutely, but we can falsify. A set of ideas that cannot, in principle, be falsified is not science.

 

The entire creationist program includes little more than a rhetorical attempt to falsify evolution by presenting supposed contradictions among its supporters. Their brand of creationism, they claim, is "scientific" because it follows the Popperian model in trying to demolish evolution. Yet Popper's argument must apply in both directions. One does not become a scientist by the simple act of trying to falsify a rival and truly scientific system; one has to present an alternative system that also meets Popper's criterion — it too must be falsifiable in principle.

 

"Scientific creationism" is a self-contradictory, nonsense phrase precisely because it cannot be falsified. I can envision observations and experiments that would disprove any evolutionary theory I know, but I cannot imagine what potential data could lead creationists to abandon their beliefs. Unbeatable systems are dogma, not science. Lest I seem harsh or rhetorical, I quote creationism's leading intellectual, Duane Gish, Ph.D. from his recent (1978) book, Evolution? The Fossils Say No! "By creation we mean the bringing into being by a supernatural Creator of the basic kinds of plants and animals by the process of sudden, or fiat, creation. We do not know how the Creator created, what process He used, for He used processes which are not now operating anywhere in the natural universe [Gish's italics]. This is why we refer to creation as special creation. We cannot discover by scientific investigations anything about the creative processes used by the Creator." Pray tell, Dr. Gish, in the light of your last sentence, what then is scientific creationism?

 

Our confidence that evolution occurred centers upon three general arguments. First, we have abundant, direct, observational evidence of evolution in action, from both the field and laboratory. This evidence ranges from countless experiments on change in nearly everything about fruit flies subjected to artificial selection in the laboratory to the famous populations of British moths that became black when industrial soot darkened the trees upon which the moths rest. (Moths gain protection from sharp-sighted bird predators by blending into the background.) Creationists do not deny these observations; how could they? Creationists have tightened their act. They now argue that God only created "basic kinds," and allowed for limited evolutionary meandering within them. Thus toy poodles and Great Danes come from the dog kind and moths can change color, but nature cannot convert a dog to a cat or a monkey to a man.

 

The second and third arguments for evolution—the case for major changes—do not involve direct observation of evolution in action. They rest upon inference, but are no less secure for that reason. Major evolutionary change requires too much time for direct observation on the scale of recorded human history. All historical sciences rest upon inference, and evolution is no different from geology, cosmology, or human history in this respect. In principle, we cannot observe processes that operated in the past. We must infer them from results that still surround us: living and fossil organisms for evolution, documents and artifacts for human history, strata and topography for geology.

 

The second argument—that the imperfection of nature reveals evolution—strikes many people as ironic, for they feel that evolution should be most elegantly displayed in the nearly perfect adaptation expressed by some organisms—the camber of a gull's wing, or butterflies that cannot be seen in ground litter because they mimic leaves so precisely. But perfection could be imposed by a wise creator or evolved by natural selection. Perfection covers the tracks of past history. And past history—the evidence of descent—is the mark of evolution.

 

Evolution lies exposed in the imperfections that record a history of descent. Why should a rat run, a bat fly, a porpoise swim, and I type this essay with structures built of the same bones unless we all inherited them from a common ancestor? An engineer, starting from scratch, could design better limbs in each case. Why should all the large native mammals of Australia be marsupials, unless they descended from a common ancestor isolated on this island continent? Marsupials are not "better," or ideally suited for Australia; many have been wiped out by placental mammals imported by man from other continents. This principle of imperfection extends to all historical sciences. When we recognize the etymology of September, October, November, and December (seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth), we know that the year once started in March, or that two additional months must have been added to an original calendar of ten months.

 

The third argument is more direct: transitions are often found in the fossil record. Preserved transitions are not common—and should not be, according to our understanding of evolution (see next section) but they are not entirely wanting, as creationists often claim. The lower jaw of reptiles contains several bones, that of mammals only one. The non-mammalian jawbones are reduced, step by step, in mammalian ancestors until they become tiny nubbins located at the back of the jaw. The "hammer" and "anvil" bones of the mammalian ear are descendants of these nubbins. How could such a transition be accomplished? the creationists ask. Surely a bone is either entirely in the jaw or in the ear. Yet paleontologists have discovered two transitional lineages of therapsids (the so-called mammal-like reptiles) with a double jaw joint—one composed of the old quadrate and articular bones (soon to become the hammer and anvil), the other of the squamosal and dentary bones (as in modern mammals). For that matter, what better transitional form could we expect to find than the oldest human, Australopithecus afarensis, with its apelike palate, its human upright stance, and a cranial capacity larger than any ape’s of the same body size but a full 1,000 cubic centimeters below ours? If God made each of the half-dozen human species discovered in ancient rocks, why did he create in an unbroken temporal sequence of progressively more modern features—increasing cranial capacity, reduced face and teeth, larder body size? Did he create to mimic evolution and test our faith thereby?

 

Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am—for I have become a major target of these practices.

 

I count myself among the evolutionists who argue for a jerky, or episodic, rather than a smoothly gradual, pace of change. In 1972 my colleague Niles Eldredge and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium. We argued that two outstanding facts of the fossil record—geologically "sudden" origin of new species and failure to change thereafter (stasis)—reflect the predictions of evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record. In most theories, small isolated populations are the source of new species, and the process of speciation takes thousands or tens of thousands of years. This amount of time, so long when measured against our lives, is a geological microsecond. It represents much less than 1 per cent of the average life-span for a fossil invertebrate species—more than ten million years. Large, widespread, and well established species, on the other hand, are not expected to change very much. We believe that the inertia of large populations explains the stasis of most fossil species over millions of years.

 

We proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium largely to provide a different explanation for pervasive trends in the fossil record. Trends, we argued, cannot be attributed to gradual transformation within lineages, but must arise from the different success of certain kinds of species. A trend, we argued, is more like climbing a flight of stairs (punctuated and stasis) than rolling up an inclined plane.

 

Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups. Yet a pamphlet entitled "Harvard Scientists Agree Evolution Is a Hoax" states: "The facts of punctuated equilibrium which Gould and Eldredge…are forcing Darwinists to swallow fit the picture that Bryan insisted on, and which God has revealed to us in the Bible."

 

Continuing the distortion, several creationists have equated the theory of punctuated equilibrium with a caricature of the beliefs of Richard Goldschmidt, a great early geneticist. Goldschmidt argued, in a famous book published in 1940, that new groups can arise all at once through major mutations. He referred to these suddenly transformed creatures as "hopeful monsters." (I am attracted to some aspects of the non-caricatured version, but Goldschmidt's theory still has nothing to do with punctuated equilibrium—see essays in section 3 and my explicit essay on Goldschmidt in The Pandas Thumb.) Creationist Luther Sunderland talks of the "punctuated equilibrium hopeful monster theory" and tells his hopeful readers that "it amounts to tacit admission that anti-evolutionists are correct in asserting there is no fossil evidence supporting the theory that all life is connected to a common ancestor." Duane Gish writes, "According to Goldschmidt, and now apparently according to Gould, a reptile laid an egg from which the first bird, feathers and all, was produced." Any evolutionists who believed such nonsense would rightly be laughed off the intellectual stage; yet the only theory that could ever envision such a scenario for the origin of birds is creationism—with God acting in the egg.

 

I am both angry at and amused by the creationists; but mostly I am deeply sad. Sad for many reasons. Sad because so many people who respond to creationist appeals are troubled for the right reason, but venting their anger at the wrong target. It is true that scientists have often been dogmatic and elitist. It is true that we have often allowed the white-coated, advertising image to represent us—"Scientists say that Brand X cures bunions ten times faster than…" We have not fought it adequately because we derive benefits from appearing as a new priesthood. It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all these grounds. But the culprit is not, and cannot be, evolution or any other fact of the natural world. Identify and fight our legitimate enemies by all means, but we are not among them.

 

I am sad because the practical result of this brouhaha will not be expanded coverage to include creationism (that would also make me sad), but the reduction or excision of evolution from high school curricula. Evolution is one of the half dozen "great ideas" developed by science. It speaks to the profound issues of genealogy that fascinate all of us—the "roots" phenomenon writ large. Where did we come from? Where did life arise? How did it develop? How are organisms related? It forces us to think, ponder, and wonder. Shall we deprive millions of this knowledge and once again teach biology as a set of dull and unconnected facts, without the thread that weaves diverse material into a supple unity?

 

But most of all I am saddened by a trend I am just beginning to discern among my colleagues. I sense that some now wish to mute the healthy debate about theory that has brought new life to evolutionary biology. It provides grist for creationist mills, they say, even if only by distortion. Perhaps we should lie low and rally around the flag of strict Darwinism, at least for the moment—a kind of old-time religion on our part.

 

But we should borrow another metaphor and recognize that we too have to tread a straight and narrow path, surrounded by roads to perdition. For if we ever begin to suppress our search to understand nature, to quench our own intellectual excitement in a misguided effort to present a united front where it does not and should not exist, then we are truly lost.

 

[ Stephen Jay Gould, "Evolution as Fact and Theory," May 1981; from Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994, pp. 253-262. ]

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Furthermore, mutations simply produce new varieties of already existing traits. For example, mutations in the gene for human hair may change the gene so that another type of human hair develops, but the mutations won't change the gene so that feathers or wings develop.

 

This is an example of his own magical thinking being transposed onto evolution. He believes that his god, using magic, can make a person out of mud, blow some magical pixie dust into him, and presto, we have a living human. Evolution just doesn't work this way.

 

The evolution of feathers is still hotly debated, but recently, through efforts in the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or evo-devo, scientists have largely come to a consensus:

 

http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Evolution_of_feathers

 

The Feather: From Placode to Pterylae

 

In the past ten years or so, the field of evolutionary developmental biology has largely revolutionized our understanding of feather embryogenesis and ontogeny, which has in turn clarified our view of how feathers first appeared, regardless of the reason for which they appeared.

 

The feather placode above a condensation of dermal cellsPrevious attempts, as mentioned above, did not take the complex heirarchical nature of feather development into account when hypothesizing basal feather morphs, and were therefore led down untenable paths. To understand feather evolution, one must first understand how they come into being.

Feather development begins with an epidermal placode situated above a condensation of dermal cells which specifies the particular feather's location.

 

From below, dermal cells work themselves upwards, forcing the epidermis into a finger-like projection called the papilla, or feather bud. Signaled by the dermis, the epidermal cells around the base of the papilla then sink down, creating an invagination called the lumen, or follicle cavity. Subsequent morphogenesis proceeds from the epidermal collar. Along its length, keratinoctyes proliferate and form barb ridges.

 

The papilla, or feather budThese barb ridges are helically displaced as they grow, eventually making their way to the anterior midline and fusing to form the rachis ridge, which later becomes the feather rachis. Opposite the rachis ridge, new barb ridges spring out of the collar, these fusing with the rachis ridge anteriorly. On the barb ridges themselves, peripheral cells organize themselves into horizontal layers. Following the death of cells in the middle, those on either side become the paired barbules, with those more central fusing to become the ramus.

 

Finally, the whole structure, which until this point has remained essentially tubular, opens up. The outer surface becomes the dorsal surface of the fully developed feather, and the interior becomes the ventral. It should now be clear precisely why the planar surfaces of scales and feathers are not homologous; scales develop from the anterior and posterior surfaces of the placode directly, feathers round-aboutly develop their surface from the inner and outer surfaces of the cylindrical collar.

 

Also of great importance is the hierarchically contingent nature of the developmental processes. Barbs can only form on a collar, and a rachis can only be formed after the growth and displacement of the barbs. Distal and proximal barbules cannot close a vane unless they have barbules of some sort to grow from, which themselves originate from barbs. One step necessarily precedes the other.

 

The Evo-Devo of Feathers

 

Guided by the hierarchically contingent developmental process described above, Prum (1999) proposed a theory that seamlessly harmonizes the morphogenetic, biochemical and paleontological data in a way previous theories have failed to do. It involves essentially five stages, one built on top of another, broadly mimicking feather development while explicitly not being based on the discredited Haeckelian “law” of recapitulation.

 

The first stage is hypothesized to have originated with the first feather follicle. As above, the dermis would have pushed the epidermis into a collar, with the epidermis sinking around its base. This would have yielded a hollow, tubular structure much like the calamus of modern feathers. Stage II involves the origin of barbs. Derived from the collar, these would have opened up into a simple “tuft” extending from a calamus. Stage III has two stages which the theory cannot distinguish between in terms of temporal origination; either could have occurred first. What Prum labels IIIa involves the helical displacement of the stage II barbs and their fusion to form the rachis on the midline. The fully developed feather would have been pinnate, and superficially quite similar to modern feathers. With the evolution of stage IIIb, stage II barbs would have evolved barbules and ramus. Together, both stages would yield an open pennaceous feather complete with a rachis, ramus, barbs, and barbules. The following stage, stage IV, sees the evolution of distal and proximal barbules, built off IIIb, which would have hooked together and closed the vane. Fully developed, these are essentially modern, but symmetrical, feathers. All subsequent morphologic variety is subsumed under stage V, including asymmetrical flight feathers, and down.

 

How these changes are accomplished is a rather complicated matter, and all the intricacies have not yet come to light. What is known, however, is that plesiomorphic developmental pathways were co-opted and changed in such a way that novel feather structures were developed. An illustrative examples comes by way of Harris et al (2002), who looked at patterns of Shh and Bmp2 expression in a chicken (Gallus), duck (Anas), and alligator (Alligator). What they found was that at the placode stage, when both feathers and scales are just condensations of dermal cells, there is a conserved expression of Shh in the posterior domain, and of Bmp2 along the anterior border -- in both timing and polarity -- in each. Subsequent to this stage, we see derived coexpression of Shh and Bmp2 in the distal epithelim at which point the papilla is growing. Subsequent patterns of expression are also unique to feathers.

 

What all of this shows it that the placode and placode development are plesiomorphic in archosaurs, and that the Shh-Bmp2 module was probably co-opted during development multiple times, leading to a novel feather morphology after each. That is, in the primitive scaled precursor to feathered theropods in which Shh was expressed posteriorly and Bmp2 anteriorly, mutation altered this such that Shh and Bmp2 now additionally expressed themselves in the distal epithelium. Although this is my no means the entire story, the role of Shh and Bmp2 are illustrative of the molecular pathways Prum and his colleagues envision.

 

The Evolution of Feather Keratins

 

As noted above, phi-keratins are remarkably different from both alpha-keratins and other beta-keratins. Those of various feathers and their parts are a heterogeneous bunch, all with a mass of roughly 10.6 Kd. Those of scutate scales, claws and beaks yeild a similar electrophoretic array, but are larger, with a mass of 14.5 Kd (Brush 1996). This size difference, according to Walker & Bridgen (1976), is due to a repeating tripeptide sequence (Gly-Gly-X, where X is either Phr, Leu or Tyr) of 3 Kd. Other differences exist in the precise specifications for the beta-pleated sheath, and shorter/longer globular portions.

 

Because feather specific phi-keratins are clearly similar enough to establish homology, and non-feather classes broadly so, Brush proposed that an ancestral non-feather type phi-keratin gene (recently discovered in alligator claws by Sawyer et al. 2000, making it plesimorphic in archosaurs) underwent duplication and subsequent deletion of the Gly-Gly-X region, resulting in the two distinct sizes. Subsequent duplication and modification explain the similarity of all the smaller feather phi-keratins (Brush 1993, 1996, Prum & Brush 2002).

 

It is unknown if feather specific phi-keratins were present in the most basal feathers. Brush (1996, 2001) suggested they were, but Prum (1999) has argued that the morphological novelty of the feather itself probably preceded it.

 

References

 

Brush, A.H. 1980. Chemical heterogeneity in keratin proteins of avian epidermal structures: Possible relationships to structure and function. In The Skin of Vertebrates, Eds R. Spearman & P. Riley, pg 87-109. Linnean Society of London, London.

 

Brush, A.H. 1985. Convergent evolution of reticulate scales. Journal of Experimental Zoology 36: 303-308.

 

Brush, A.H. 1996. On the origin of feathers. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 9: 131-142.

 

Brush, A.H. 2001. The beginnings of feathers. In New Perspectives on the Origin and Early Evolution of Birds, Eds J. Gauthier & L.F. Gall, pg. 171-179. Peabody Museum of Natural History, New Haven.

 

Dyck, J. 1985. The evolution of feathers. Zoologica Scripta 14: 137�154.

 

Feduccia, A. 1980. The Age of Birds. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

 

Feduccia, A. 1985. On why the dinosaurs lacked feathers. In The Beginnings of Birds, Eds M.K. Hecht et al, pg. 75�79. Freunde des Jura-Museums, Eichstatt.

 

Feduccia, A. 1996. The Origin and Evolution of Birds, First Edition. Yale University Press, New Haven.

 

Feduccia, A. 1999. The Origin and Evolution of Birds, Second Edition. Yale University Press, New Haven.

 

Jones, T.D. et al. 2000. Nonavian feathers in a late Triassic archosaur. Science 288: 2202�2205.

 

Maderson, P.F. & Alibardi, L. 2000. The development of the sauropsid integument: a contribution to the problem of the origin and evolution of feathers. American Zoologist 40: 513�529.

 

Martin, L. 1983. The origin of birds and of avian flight. Current Ornithology, 1: 105-129.

 

Ostrom, J.H. 1976. Archaeopteryx and the origin of birds. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 8: 91-182.

 

Prum, R. 1999. Development and Evolutionary Origin of Feathers. Journal of Experimental Zoology 285: 291-306.

 

Prum, R. 2003. Are current critiques of the theropod origins of birds science? rebuttal to Feduccia (2002). The Auk 120: 550-561.

 

Prum, R. & Brush A.H. 2002. The evolutionary origin and diversification of feathers. The Quarterly Review of Biology 77: 261-295.

 

Zhang, F. & Zhou, Z. 2000. A primitive enantiornithine bird and the origin of feathers. Science 290: 1955�1959.

 

Retrieved from "http://wiki.cotch.net/index.php/Evolution_of_feathers"

 

Furthermore, mutations simply produce new varieties of already existing traits. For example, mutations in the gene for human hair may change the gene so that another type of human hair develops, but the mutations won't change the gene so that feathers or wings develop.

 

l_034_01_l.jpg

 

Bird Evolution

 

This family tree is not a chronological progression. Rather, it illustrates how evolution incorporates traits that evolved for unrelated reasons into a novel structure -- the wing of a bird. The skeletal adaptations that gave theropod dinosaurs an advantage of better balance or a swift strike to capture prey combined with feathers that may have served as insulation or an impressive display to potential mates to provide the components of a basic wing. A significant advance in flying ability came with the evolution of the alula, a tuft of specialized feathers attached to the thumb that alter airflow and allow control and maneuvering at slow flying speeds, important for controlled takeoffs and landings.

 

Few subjects in evolutionary theory have posed such intriguing puzzles for so long as the origin of birds. Evidence of avian beginnings has been elusive in the fossil record because birds' light, hollow bones rapidly decompose. So far, the oldest-known bird fossil is the famous Archaeopteryx lithographica, discovered in 1861 just two years after the publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species, but Archaeopteryx leaves many questions unanswered.

 

This odd, crow-sized creature had long legs and three toes tipped with claws; its jawbone and teeth were like those of a small dinosaur, and its extended spine formed a tail, another reptilian feature found in small dinosaurs too. But the creature also had wings and bore feathers -- certainly birdlike traits.

 

Scientists now view Archaeopteryx, which lived about 150 million years ago, as the earliest known (or most basal) member of the lineage of modern birds, but it still retained many features of small dinosaurs. These small, two-legged dinosaurs called theropods scurried around something like today's roadrunners. Many characteristics that typify birds were present in the theropods before birds evolved, including hollow bones, a wishbone, a backward-pointing pelvis, and a three-toed foot. In the course of theropod evolution, the forelimbs and hands became progressively longer. In some theropods, the bones of the wrist took on a shape that allowed the joint to flex sideways. This would have allowed these animals to whip their long hands forward in a swift snatching motion, perhaps to catch prey. The wishbone in theropods served to anchor the muscles that pulled the forelimb forward in this grabbing movement -- a motion that functional analysis shows to be almost identical to the flight stroke of modern birds. Theropods, though, probably remained largely on the ground.

 

Despite the increasingly clear picture of the evolution of birds from theropod dinosaurs that has emerged, a few scientists are still unconvinced. No alternative hypothesis has been offered to explain the multiple similarities between birds and theropods, however, and there is scant evidence to support a link to any of the other animals that have been suggested as possible ancestors or relatives. Meanwhile, the evidence connecting birds and theropods continues to accumulate.

 

For a long time, feathers were regarded as a uniquely avian feature. Bur recent fossil evidence suggests that feathers, too, evolved in theropods before birds. Whether they evolved for warmth, for display, or served some other function is not yet known. But in a small, lightly built bipedal predator leaping into the air to catch insect prey, even primitive feathers could have given a small amount of lift. Larger feathers would have increased lift until it was possible to stay airborne for short distances. The evolution of feathers with an asymmetrical shape, like those of Archaeopteryx, further enhanced the flight capabilities of early birds.

 

After Archaeopteryx, the fossil record suggests that birds diversified rapidly, though some of these Cretaceous early birds would have looked quite strange to our eyes, with their toothed beaks and clawed fingers. Our knowledge of this period of bird evolution is growing rapidly. Since 1990, more than three times as many bird fossils dating from the Cretaceous have been discovered than were found in the previous two centuries. While most of the bird lineages that arose during the Cretaceous died out, some of them survived to gave rise to the wonderful diversity of birds we see today.

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I hope I am not bringing this thread down to0 many levels.. I am intersted in the subject but am no scientist so..

One of the things that always bothered me about evolution was that fact there was no obvious seemless transition between species. I am interested in this 'punctuated equilbrium' theory. Can you summarise this is unscientific terms? Does it propose to prove that new species do 'just appear'? If you tell me to read up on it then you will be right to do so .. but I am no scientist in any way and a long essay in scientific terms is tough work! :twitch:

 

I am also interested in why a crocodile for instance has not evolved at all in what I believe is millions of years. Is this because it evironment has been so stable in all that time it has no need?

 

I realise this thread is more creationism vrs evolution. I am not agruing for creationism but I do think evolution theory has some holes And these holes are being used by the creationsist to either create doubt or to push their own cause.

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I hope I am not bringing this thread down to0 many levels.. I am intersted in the subject but am no scientist so..

One of the things that always bothered me about evolution was that fact there was no obvious seemless transition between species. I am interested in this 'punctuated equilbrium' theory. Can you summarise this is unscientific terms? Does it propose to prove that new species do 'just appear'? If you tell me to read up on it then you will be right to do so .. but I am no scientist in any way and a long essay in scientific terms is tough work! :twitch:

 

I am also interested in why a crocodile for instance has not evolved at all in what I believe is millions of years. Is this because it evironment has been so stable in all that time it has no need?

 

I realise this thread is more creationism vrs evolution. I am not agruing for creationism but I do think evolution theory has some holes And these holes are being used by the creationsist to either create doubt or to push their own cause.

 

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_structure.html

 

Punctuated Equilibrium's Threefold History

 

by Stephen Jay Gould

 

he "Urban Legend" of Punctuated Equilibrium's Threefold History: The opponents of punctuated equilibrium have constructed a fictional history of the theory, primarily (I suppose) as a largely unconscious expression of their hope for its minor importance […] This supposed threefold history of punctuated equilibrium also ranks about as close to pure fiction as any recent commentary by scientists has ever generated. In stage one, the story goes, we were properly modest, obedient to the theoretical hegemony of the Modern Synthesis, and merely trying to bring paleontology into the fold. But the prospect of worldly fame beguiled us, so we broke our ties of fealty and tried, in stage two, to usurp power by painting punctuated equilibrium as a revolutionary doctrine that would dethrone the Synthesis, resurrect the memory of the exiled martyr (Richard Goldschmidt), and reign over a reconstructed realm of theory. But we were too big for our breeches, and the old guard still retained some life. They fought back mightily and effectively, exposing our bombast and emptiness. We began to hedge, retreat, and apologize, and have been doing so ever since in an effort to regain grace and, chastened in stage three, to sit again, in heaven or Valhalla, with the evolutionary elite.

 

Such farfetched fiction suffers most of all from an internal construction that precludes exposure and falsification among true believers, whatever the evidence. Purveyors of this myth even name the three stages, thus solidifying the false taxonomy. Dawkins (1986), for example, speaks of the "grandiloquent era…of middle-period punctuationism [which] gave abundant aid and comfort to creationists and other enemies of scientific truth." In the other major strategy of insulation from refutation, supporters of this "urban legend" about the modest origin, bombastic rise, and spectacular fall of punctuated equilibrium forge a tale that allows them to read any potential disconfirmation as an event within the fiction itself. […]

 

In particular, and most offensive to me, the urban legend rests on the false belief that radical, "middle-period" punctuated equilibrium became a saltational theory wedded to Goldschmidt's hopeful monsters as a mechanism. I have labored to refute this nonsensical charge from the day I first heard it. But my efforts are doomed within the self-affirming structure of the urban legend. We all know, for so the legend proclaims, that I once took the Goldschmidtian plunge. So if I ever deny the link, I can only be retreating from an embarrassing error. And if I, continue to deny the link with force and gusto, well, then I am only backtracking even harder (into stage 3) and apologizing (or obfuscating) all the more. How about the obvious (and accurate) alternative: that we never made the Goldschmidtian link; that this common error embodies a false construction; and that our efforts at correction have always represented an honorable attempt to relieve the confusion of others.

 

But the urban legend remains too simplistically neat, and too resonant with a favorite theme of Western sagas, to permit refutation by mere evidence. So Dennett (1995, pp. 283-284) writes: "There was no mention in the first paper of any radical theory of speciation or mutation. But later, about 1980, Gould decided that punctuated equilibrium was a revolutionary idea after all [but] it was too revolutionary, and it was hooted down with the same sort of ferocity the establishment reserves for heretics like Elaine Morgan. Gould backpedaled hard, offering repeated denials that he has ever meant anything so outrageous." And Halstead (1985, p. 318) wrote of me (with equal poverty in both logic and grammar): "He seems to be setting up a face-saving formula to enable him to retreat from his earlier aggressive saltationism, having had a bit of a thrashing, his current tack is to suggest that perhaps we should keep the door open in case he can find some evidence to support his pet theories so let us be 'pluralist.'"

 

I do not, of course, claim that our views about punctuated equilibrium have never changed through the years of debate (only a dull and uninteresting theory could remain so static in the face of such wide discussion). Nor do I maintain a position that would be even sillier—namely, that we made no important errors requiring corrections to the theory. Of course we made mistakes, and of course we have tried to amend them. But I look upon the history of punctuated equilibrium (from my partisan vantage point of course) as a fairly standard development for successful theories in science. We did, indeed, begin modestly and expand outward thereafter. (In this sense, punctuated equilibrium has grown in theoretical scope, primarily as macroevolutionary theory developed and became better integrated with the rest of evolutionary thought—and largely through articulation of the hierarchical model, as discussed in the previous chapter).

 

We started small as a consequence of our ignorance and lack of perspective, not from modesty of basic temperament. As stated before, we simply didn't recognize, at first, the interesting implications of punctuated equilibrium for macroevolutionary theory—primarily gained in treating species as Darwinian individuals for the explanation of trends, and in exploring the extent and causes of stasis. With the help of S. M. Stanley, E. S. Vrba and other colleagues, we developed these implications over the years, and the theory grew accordingly. But we never proposed a radical theory for punctuations (ordinary speciation scaled into geological time), and we never linked punctuations to microevolutionary saltationism.

 

Of course we made mistakes—serious ones in at least two cases—and the theory has changed and improved by correcting these errors. In particular, and as documented extensively in Chapter 8, we were terribly muddled for several years about the proper way to treat, and even to define, selection at the level of species—the most important of all theoretical spinoffs from punctuated equilibrium. We confused sorting with selection (see Vrba and Gould, 1986, for a resolution). We also did not properly formulate the concept of emergence at first; and we remained confused for a long time about emergence of characters vs. emergence of fitness as criteria for species selection (Lloyd and Gould, 1993; Gould and Lloyd, 1999). In retrospect, I am chagrined by the long duration of our confusion, and its expression in many of our papers. But I think that we have now resolved these difficult issues. […]

 

The saltationist canard has persisted as our incubus. The charge could never be supported by proper documentation, for we never made the link or claim. All attempts collapse upon close examination. Dennett, for example, who insists (1997, p. 64) that "for a while he [Gould] had presented punctuated equilibrium as a revolutionary 'saitationist' alternative to standard neo-Darwinism," documents his supposed best case by assuring readers (1995, p. 285) that "for a while, Gould was proposing that the first step in the establishment of any new species was a doozy—a non-Darwinian saltation." Dennett directly follows this claim with his putative proof, yet another quotation from my 1980 paper, which he renders As follows: "Speciation is not always an extension of gradual, adaptive allelic substitution to greater effect, but may represent, as Goldschmidt argued, a different style of genetic change—rapid reorganization of the genome, perhaps non-adaptive" (Gould, 1980b, p. 119).

 

I regard Dennett's case as pitiful, but the urban legend can offer no better. First of all, this quotation doesn't even refer to punctuated equilibrium, but comes from a section of my 1980 paper on the microevolutionary mechanics of speciation. Secondly, Dennett obviously misreads my statement in a backwards manner. I am trying to carve out a small theoretical space for a style of microevolutionary rapidity at low relative frequency—as clearly stated in my phrase "not always an extension of gradual…" But Dennett states that I am proposing this mechanism as a general replacement for gradual microevolutionary change in all cases of speciation—"the first step in the establishment of any new species" in his words. But my chosen phrase—"not always"—clearly means "most of the time," and cannot be read as "never." In short, I made a plea for pluralism, and Dennett charges me with usurpation. Then, when I try to explain, I am accused of beating a retreat to save face. When placed in such a double bind, one can only smile and remember Schiller's famous dictum: Mit Dummheit kimpfen die Gdtter selbst vergebens.

 

Finally, the claim that we equated punctuated equilibrium with saltation makes no sense within the logical structure of our theory—so, unless we are fools, how could we ever have asserted such a proposition? Our theory holds, as a defining statement, that ordinary allopatric speciation, unfolding gradually at microevolutionary scales, translates to punctuation in geological time. Microevolutionary saltation also scales as a punctuation—so the distinction between saltation and standard allopatry becomes irrelevant for punctuated equilibrium, since both yield the same favored result!

 

Moreover, the chronology of debate proves that we did not issue disclaimers on this subject only to cover our asses as we retreated from exaggerations of our supposed second phase, because we have been asserting this clarification from the very beginning—that is, from the first paper we ever wrote to comment upon published reactions to punctuated equilibrium. Our first response appeared in 1977, long before we issued the supposed clarion call of our false revolution in 1980. We wrote (Gould and Eldredge, 1977, p. 121), under the heading "Invalid claims of gradualism made at the wrong scale": "The model of punctuated equilibria does not maintain that nothing occurs gradually at any level of evolution. It is a theory about speciation and its deployment in the fossil record. It claims that an important pattern, continuous at higher levels—the 'classic' macroevolutionary trend—is a consequence of punctuation in the evolution of species. It does not deny that allopatric speciation occurs gradually in ecological time (though it might not—see Carson, 1975), but only asserts that this scale is a geological microsecond."

 

We have never changed this conviction, and we have always tried to correct any confusion of scaling between saltation and punctuation, even in papers written during the supposed apogee of our revolutionary ardor, during illusory stage 2 of the urban legend. For example, under the heading of "The relationship of punctuated equilibrium to macromutation," I wrote in 1982c (p. 88): "Punctuated equilibrium is not a theory of macromutation…it is not a theory of any genetic process…It is a theory about larger-scale patterns-the geometry of speciation in geological time. As with ecologically rapid modes of speciation, punctuated equilibrium welcomes macromutation as a source for the initiation of species: the faster the better. But punctuated equilibrium clearly does not require or imply macromutation, since it was formulated as the expected geological consequence of Mayrian allopatry." […]

 

The Charge of Ulterior Motivation

 

When charges of dishonesty or lack of originality fail, a committed detractor can still label his opponents as unconcerned with scientific truth, but motivated by some ulterior (and nefarious) goal. Speculations about our "real" reasons have varied widely in content, but little in their shared mean spirit (see, for example, Turner, 1984; Konner, 1986; and Dennett, 1995). I will discuss only one of these peculiar speculations—the charge that punctuated equilibrium originated from my political commitments rather than from any honorable feeling about the empirical world—because, once again, the claim rests upon a canonical misquotation and exposes the apparent unwillingness or inability of our unscientific critics to read a clear text with care.

 

I have already discussed Halstead's version of the political charge in the great and farcical British-Museum-cum-cladism-cum-Marxism debate (see pages 984-985). The supposed justification for this construction lies in another quotation from my writing, second in false invocation only to the "death of the Synthesis" statement discussed earlier (p. 1003).

 

I do not see how any careful reader could have missed the narrowly focused intent of the last section in our 1977 paper, a discussion of the central and unexceptionable principle, embraced by all professional historians of science, that theories must reflect a surrounding social and cultural context. We began the section by trying to identify the cultural roots of gradualism in larger beliefs of Victorian society. We wrote (Gould and Eldredge, 1977, p. 145): "The general preference that so many of us hold for gradualism is a metaphysical stance embedded in the modern history of Western cultures: it is not a high-order empirical observation, induced from the objective study of nature . . . We mention this not to discredit Darwin in any way, but merely to point out that even the greatest scientific achievements are rooted in their cultural contexts—and to argue that gradualism was part of the cultural context, not of nature."

 

We couldn't then assert, with any pretense to fairness or openness to self-scrutiny, that gradualism represents cultural context, while our punctuational preferences only record unvarnished empirical truth. If all general theories embody a complex mixture of contingent context with factual adequacy, then we had to consider the cultural embeddedness of preferences for punctuational change as well. We therefore began by writing (p. 145) that "alternative conceptions of change have respectable pedigrees in philosophy." We then discussed the most obvious candidate in the history of Western thought: the Hegelian dialectic and its redefinition by Marx and Engels as a theory of revolutionary social change in human history. We cited a silly, propagandistic defense of punctuational change from the official Soviet handbook of Marxism-Leninism, in order to stress our point about the potential political employment of all general theories of change. We concluded (p. 146): "It is easy to see the explicit ideology lurking behind this general statement about the nature of change. May we not also discern the implicit ideology in our Western preference for gradualism?"

 

But the argument required one further step for full disclosure. We needed to say something about why we, rather than other paleontologists at other times, had developed the concept of punctuated equilibrium. We raised this point as sociological commentary about the origin of ideas, not as a scientific argument for the validity of the same ideas. An identification of cultural or ontogenetic sources says nothing about truth value, an issue that can only be settled by standard scientific procedures of observation, experiment and empirical test. So I mentioned a personal factor that probably predisposed me to openness towards, or at least an explicit awareness of, a punctuational alternative to conventional gradualistic models of change: "It may also not be irrelevant to our personal preferences that one of us learned his Marxism, literally at his daddy's knee."

 

I have often seen this statement quoted, always completely out of context, as supposed proof that I advanced punctuated equilibrium in order to foster a personal political agenda. I resent this absurd misreading. I spoke only about a fact of my intellectual ontogeny; I said nothing about my political beliefs (very different from my father's, by the way, and a private matter that I do not choose to discuss in this forum). I included this line within a discussion of personal and cultural reasons that might predispose certain scientists towards consideration of punctuational models—just as I had identified similar contexts behind more conventional preferences for gradualism. In the next paragraph, I stated my own personal conclusions about the general validity of punctuational change-but critics never quote these words, and only cite my father's postcranial anatomy out of context instead.

 

We emphatically do not assert the "truth" of this alternate metaphysic of punctuational change. Any attempt to support the exclusive validity of such a monistic, a priori, grandiose notion would verge on the nonsensical. We believe that gradual change characterizes some hierarchical levels, even though we may attribute it to punctuation at a lower level—the macroevolutionary trend produced by species selection, for example. We make a simple plea for pluralism in guiding philosophies—and for the basic recognition that such philosophies, however hidden and inarticulated, do constrain all our thought. Nonetheless, we do believe that the punctuational metaphysic may prove to map tempos of change in our world better and more often than any of its competitors—if only because systems in steady state are not only common but also so highly resistant to change.

 

 

The Most Unkindest Cut of All

 

If none of the foregoing charges can bear scrutiny, strategists of personal denigration still hold an old and conventional tactic in reserve: they can proclaim a despised theory both trivial and devoid of content. This charge is so distasteful to any intellectual that one might wonder why detractors don't try such a tactic more often, and right up front at the outset. But I think we can identify a solution—the "triviality caper" tends to backfire and to hoist a critic with his own petard—for if the idea you hate is so trivial, then why bother to refute it with such intensity? Leave the idea strictly alone and it will surely go away all by itself. Why fulminate against tongue piercing, goldfish swallowing, skateboarding, or any other transient fad with no possible staying power?

 

Nonetheless, perhaps from, desperation, or from severe frustration that something regarded as personally odious doesn't seem to be fading away, this charge of triviality has been advanced against punctuated equilibrium, apparently to small effect. To cite a classic example of backfiring, Gingerich (1984a, 1984b) tried to dismiss punctuated equilibrium as meaningless and untestable by definition—and to validate gradualism a priori as "commitment to empiricism and dedication to the principal [sic] of testability in science" (1984a, p. 338), with stasis redefined, oxymoronically in my judgment, as "gradualism at zero rate" (1984a, p. 338). Gingerich then concludes (1984b, p. 116): "Punctuated equilibrium is unscaled, and by nature untestable. It hardly deserves recognition as a conjecture of 'major importance for paleontological theory and practice.' . . . Hypotheses that cannot be tested are of little value in science."

 

But how can Gingerich square this attempted dismissal with his own dedication of a decade in his career to testing punctuated equilibrium by fine-scale quantitative analysis of Tertiary mammals from the western United States (Gingerich, 1974, 1976)? These studies, which advanced a strong claim for gradualism, represent the most important empirical research published in the early phase of the punctuated equilibrium debate. Gingerich then recognized punctuated equilibrium as an interesting and testable hypothesis, for he spent enormous time and effort testing and rejecting our ideas for particular mammalian phylogenies. He then argued explicitly (1978, p. 454): "Their [Eldredge and Gould's] view of speciation differs considerably from the traditional paleontological view of dynamic species with gradual evolutionary transitions, but it can be tested by study of the fossil record."

 

Among Darwinian fundamentalists (see my terminology in Gould, 1997d), charges of triviality have been advanced most prominently and insistently by Dawkins (1986, p. 251) who evaluates punctuated equilibrium metaphorically as "an interesting but minor wrinkle on the surface of neo-Darwinian theory"; and by Dennett (1995, p. 290) who calls punctuated equilibrium "a false-alarm revolution that was largely if not entirely in the eyes of the beholders."

 

But a close analysis of Dawkins's and Dennett's arguments exposes the parochiality of their judgment. They regard punctuated equilibrium as trivial because our theory doesn't speak to the restricted subset of evolutionary questions that, for them, defines an exclusive domain of interest for the entire subject. These men virtually equate evolution with the origin of intricately adaptive organic design—"organized adaptive complexity," or O.A.C. in Dawkins's terminology. They then dismiss punctuated equilibrium on the narrow criterion: "if it doesn't explain the focus of my interests, then it must be trivial." Dawkins (1984, p. 684), for example, properly notes the implications of punctuated equilibrium for validation of higher-level selection, but then writes: "Species-level selection can't explain the evolution of adaptations: eyes, ears, knee joints, spider webs, behavior patterns, everything, in short, that many of us want a theory of evolution to explain. Species selection may happen, but it doesn't seem to do anything much." "Everything"? Does nothing else but adaptive organismal design excite Dawkins's fancy in the entire and maximally various realm of evolutionary biology and the history of life—the "endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful" of Darwin's closing words (1859, p. 490).

 

But the truly curious aspect of both Dawkins's and Dennett's charge lies in their subsequent recognition, and fair discussion, of the important theoretical implication of punctuated equilibrium—the establishment of species as Darwinian individuals, and the consequent validation of species sorting and selection as a prominent process in a hierarchical theory of Darwinian evolution. In 1984, Dawkins acknowledged that this aspect of punctuated equilibrium "does, in a sense, move outside the neo-Darwinian synthesis, narrowly interpreted. This is about whether a form of natural selection operates at the level of entire lineages, as well as at the level of individual reproduction stressed by Darwin and neo-Darwinism."

 

In his 1986 book, Dawkins then devotes a substantial part of the chapter following his rejection of punctuated equilibrium to an evaluation of species selection. But he finishes his exploration by reimmersion in the same parochial trap of denying importance because the phenomenon doesn't explain his exclusive interest in adaptive organismal design: "To conclude the discussion of species selection, it could account for the pattern of species existing in the world at any particular time. It follows that it could also account for changing patterns of species as geological ages give way to later ages, that is, for changing patterns in the fossil record. But it is not a significant force in the evolution of the complex machinery of life . . . As I have put it before, species selection may occur but it doesn't seem to do anything much!" (Dawkins, 1986, pp. 268-269). But doesn't "the pattern of species existing in the world at any particular time" and "changing patterns in the fossil record" represent something of evolutionary importance?

 

At the end of his long riff against punctuated equilibrium, Dennett also pauses for breath and catches a glimmer of the concept that seems important and theoretically intriguing to many students of macroevolution (Dennett, 1995, pp. 297-298):

 

The right level at which to look for evolutionary trends, he [Gould] could then claim [indeed I do], is not the level of the gene, or the organism, but the whole species or clade. Instead of looking at the loss of particular genes from gene pools, or the differential death of particular genotypes within a population, look at the differential extinction rate of whole species and the differential "birth" rate of species—the rate at which a lineage can speciate into daughter species. This is an interesting idea . . . It may be true that the best way of seeing the long-term macro-evolutionary pattern is to look for differences in "lineage fecundity" instead of looking at the transformations in the individual lineages. This is a powerful proposal worth taking seriously.

 

I am puzzled by the discordance and inconsistency, but gratified by the outcome. Dawkins and Dennett, smart men both, seem unable to look past the parochial boundaries of their personal interest in evolution, or their feelings of jealousy towards whatever effectiveness my public questioning of their sacred cow of Darwinian fundamentalism may have enjoyed (see Gould, 1997d)—so they must brand punctuated equilibrium as trivial. But they cannot deny the logic of Darwinian argument, and they do manage to work their way to the genuine theoretical interest of punctuated equilibrium's major implication, the source of our primary excitement about the idea from the start.

 

 

 

[ Stephen Jay Gould, The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002, pp. 1006-1021. ]

 

 

 

 

I am also interested in why a crocodile for instance has not evolved at all in what I believe is millions of years. Is this because it evironment has been so stable in all that time it has no need?

 

Here are some good links on crocodile evolution, which has, indeed, evolved:

 

http://il.essortment.com/crocodilehistor_rhut.htm

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/20...es_fossils.html

 

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID...882809EC588ED9F

 

The creationists have been lying to you. Big surprise, huh? It's their stock and trade.

 

 

 

If you tell me to read up on it then you will be right to do so .. but I am no scientist in any way and a long essay in scientific terms is tough work! :twitch:

 

Here's a simple list of 15 creationist "challenges" to evolution that are answered in what I would call layman's terms:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/15_answers.htm

 

Here's an index of creationist claims completely refuted:

 

http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html

 

Here's a simple article that was a cover story for National Geographic from November 2004:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/was_darwin_wrong.htm

 

Enjoy! But if you want something more detailed and packed with evidence go here:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/macroevolution.htm

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One of the things that always bothered me about evolution was that fact there was no obvious seemless transition between species.

Well, I'm sure that if we still had the skeletons of every single living creature that ever died, we would have transitional fossils out the ass, providing a more-or-less "seamelss" transition from one species to the next. But, since bones are easily destroyed, and fossilization is an extremely rare event in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of holes in the fossil record.

 

Fewer holes than there are in creationism, though...

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One of the things that always bothered me about evolution was that fact there was no obvious seemless transition between species.

Well, I'm sure that if we still had the skeletons of every single living creature that ever died, we would have transitional fossils out the ass, providing a more-or-less "seamelss" transition from one species to the next. But, since bones are easily destroyed, and fossilization is an extremely rare event in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of holes in the fossil record.

 

Fewer holes than there are in creationism, though...

 

Yup. That about sums it up. Within certain groups though, such as the transition from reptiles to mammals, there are abundant fossils that show a "seamless" progression:

 

jaws1.gif

 

These hominid skulls seem to flow rather nicely to me, too:

 

hominids2.jpg

 

As does the evolution of horses:

 

horse_series_icon.gif

 

And that of whales:

 

whales-graph.jpg

 

Reverend Athiestar I didn't have the patience to read all of that, I apoligize, conservastives who suck at science just piss me off.

 

But how do you time do read all this stuff? Why do you care?

 

One word: love. I love science and especially evolution. It is the emotions the reading and studying of these fields generate that keep me coming back for more. It's all just so interesting! I can't get enough!

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Well that makes sense, are you a scientist or something like that?

 

I don't mean that hostilitly, just wondering if you love because it's part of your profession or it's just your past time.

 

Sometimes I just gleam over your posts to get the basic jist of it. That's what brought me to ask, I was thinking "This guy just has much information, how does he have time for this?"

 

Your the only person I've ever seen who makes Internet posts longer then me! :lmao:

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Well that makes sense, are you a scientist or something like that?

 

I don't mean that hostilitly, just wondering if you love because it's part of your profession or it's just your past time.

 

Sometimes I just gleam over your posts to get the basic jist of it. That's what brought me to ask, I was thinking "This guy just has much information, how does he have time for this?"

 

Your the only person I've ever seen who makes Internet posts longer then me! :lmao:

 

No, sadly not my profession. It's just a hobby. For almost all of my childhood I wanted to be two things when I grew up: an artist or a writer. Now that I'm older I'm leaning toward the latter. Drawing, I just don't have the time or patience for anymore. But writing? It just flows out of my fingers so effortlessly!

 

Well, I can't take that much credit here, it's a copy and paste job with a little bit of my writing. I just know all the good places to look. You should check out my list of links. It's gotten quite large:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/links.htm

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Ah well bang goes my hopes of a short consice reply :twitch: As I said I am not agruing for creationism, but I still feel that the evolution theory has some holes. Anyway I don't have time to go into it in that sort of depth I'll leave that to others

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Ok, something bite-size for you non-scientist guys who can't brain-gest the huge portion sevred to you by the Reverend.

 

Punctuated equilibrium consists of periods of rapid evolutionary change, puctuated by evolutionary plateau. The periods of rapid change would be the state of the most intermediate forms,periods of rapid change, being a time of 'discord'. Plateaus are a stable relationship between the organism and its environment. It ain't broke, it ain't getting fixed just yet.

On a geological timeline, we humans are in a period of extremely rapid change, evolutionarily. How do we know this? One, because we are making our environment change faster than ever before, presenting new challenges in the form of new selective pressures. Two, because our bodies are plagued with intermediate deformaties. Look at our teeth, for example, and all the selective pressures involved. Cranial growth, innovation of cooking and tools,change in diet, standing upright, shortening of muzzle due to skin persperational cooling, all have put selective pressure on the recent development of our dental structure. As expected, human teeth are a mess in the majority of the population. Look at the neat rows of shark teeth, the jagged symetry of dog teeth, those are the teeth of an evolutionary plateau. Compare that the unfortunate ramshackle that most people are stuck with, and you see a work in progress.

Humans are an intermediate form. To what, exactly, is impossible to determine.

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Great post Dan. I hate to admit it, but I'm one without the patience to read through the Rev's contribution. Your summation was the one profound thing I'll probably learn this week.

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Well, I'm sure that if we still had the skeletons of every single living creature that ever died, we would have transitional fossils out the ass, providing a more-or-less "seamelss" transition from one species to the next. But, since bones are easily destroyed, and fossilization is an extremely rare event in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of holes in the fossil record.

 

Fewer holes than there are in creationism, though...

And fewer holes than the Bible. I think there is about 25,000 fragments to support the current Bible translation, but several hundred thousands (or maybe more) of fossils and more found each day to support the process of evolution.

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Ah well bang goes my hopes of a short consice reply :twitch: As I said I am not agruing for creationism, but I still feel that the evolution theory has some holes. Anyway I don't have time to go into it in that sort of depth I'll leave that to others

 

That was the purpose of the links to simple articles. I don't really have the time to sit down with you and explain it all. I guess I just should have posted it. The following should clear up your misconceptions:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/15_answers.htm

 

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense

 

Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don't hold up

 

By John Rennie

 

When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere--except in the public imagination.

Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a "wedge" for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God.

 

Besieged teachers and others may increasingly find themselves on the spot to defend evolution and refute creationism. The arguments that creationists use are typically specious and based on misunderstandings of (or outright lies about) evolution, but the number and diversity of the objections can put even well-informed people at a disadvantage.

 

To help with answering them, the following list rebuts some of the most common "scientific" arguments raised against evolution. It also directs readers to further sources for information and explains why creation science has no place in the classroom.

 

1. Evolution is only a theory. It is not a fact or a scientific law.

 

Many people learned in elementary school that a theory falls in the middle of a hierarchy of certainty--above a mere hypothesis but below a law. Scientists do not use the terms that way, however. According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a scientific theory is "a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." No amount of validation changes a theory into a law, which is a descriptive generalization about nature. So when scientists talk about the theory of evolution--or the atomic theory or the theory of relativity, for that matter--they are not expressing reservations about its truth.

 

In addition to the theory of evolution, meaning the idea of descent with modification, one may also speak of the fact of evolution. The NAS defines a fact as "an observation that has been repeatedly confirmed and for all practical purposes is accepted as 'true.'" The fossil record and abundant other evidence testify that organisms have evolved through time. Although no one observed those transformations, the indirect evidence is clear, unambiguous and compelling.

 

All sciences frequently rely on indirect evidence. Physicists cannot see subatomic particles directly, for instance, so they verify their existence by watching for telltale tracks that the particles leave in cloud chambers. The absence of direct observation does not make physicists' conclusions less certain.

 

2. Natural selection is based on circular reasoning: the fittest are those who survive, and those who survive are deemed fittest.

 

"Survival of the fittest" is a conversational way to describe natural selection, but a more technical description speaks of differential rates of survival and reproduction. That is, rather than labeling species as more or less fit, one can describe how many offspring they are likely to leave under given circumstances. Drop a fast-breeding pair of small-beaked finches and a slower-breeding pair of large-beaked finches onto an island full of food seeds. Within a few generations the fast breeders may control more of the food resources. Yet if large beaks more easily crush seeds, the advantage may tip to the slow breeders. In a pioneering study of finches on the Galápagos Islands, Peter R. Grant of Princeton University observed these kinds of population shifts in the wild [see his article "Natural Selection and Darwin's Finches"; Scientific American, October 1991

 

The key is that adaptive fitness can be defined without reference to survival: large beaks are better adapted for crushing seeds, irrespective of whether that trait has survival value under the circumstances.

 

3. Evolution is unscientific, because it is not testable or falsifiable. It makes claims about events that were not observed and can never be re-created.

 

This blanket dismissal of evolution ignores important distinctions that divide the field into at least two broad areas: microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution looks at changes within species over time--changes that may be preludes to speciation, the origin of new species. Macroevolution studies how taxonomic groups above the level of species change. Its evidence draws frequently from the fossil record and DNA comparisons to reconstruct how various organisms may be related.

 

These days even most creationists acknowledge that microevolution has been upheld by tests in the laboratory (as in studies of cells, plants and fruit flies) and in the field (as in Grant's studies of evolving beak shapes among Galápagos finches). Natural selection and other mechanisms--such as chromosomal changes, symbiosis and hybridization--can drive profound changes in populations over time.

 

The historical nature of macroevolutionary study involves inference from fossils and DNA rather than direct observation. Yet in the historical sciences (which include astronomy, geology and archaeology, as well as evolutionary biology), hypotheses can still be tested by checking whether they accord with physical evidence and whether they lead to verifiable predictions about future discoveries. For instance, evolution implies that between the earliest-known ancestors of humans (roughly five million years old) and the appearance of anatomically modern humans (about 100,000 years ago), one should find a succession of hominid creatures with features progressively less apelike and more modern, which is indeed what the fossil record shows. But one should not--and does not--find modern human fossils embedded in strata from the Jurassic period (144 million years ago). Evolutionary biology routinely makes predictions far more refined and precise than this, and researchers test them constantly.

 

Evolution could be disproved in other ways, too. If we could document the spontaneous generation of just one complex life-form from inanimate matter, then at least a few creatures seen in the fossil record might have originated this way. If superintelligent aliens appeared and claimed credit for creating life on earth (or even particular species), the purely evolutionary explanation would be cast in doubt. But no one has yet produced such evidence.

 

It should be noted that the idea of falsifiability as the defining characteristic of science originated with philosopher Karl Popper in the 1930s. More recent elaborations on his thinking have expanded the narrowest interpretation of his principle precisely because it would eliminate too many branches of clearly scientific endeavor.

 

4. Increasingly, scientists doubt the truth of evolution.

 

No evidence suggests that evolution is losing adherents. Pick up any issue of a peer-reviewed biological journal, and you will find articles that support and extend evolutionary studies or that embrace evolution as a fundamental concept.

 

Conversely, serious scientific publications disputing evolution are all but nonexistent. In the mid-1990s George W. Gilchrist of the University of Washington surveyed thousands of journals in the primary literature, seeking articles on intelligent design or creation science. Among those hundreds of thousands of scientific reports, he found none. In the past two years, surveys done independently by Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University and Lawrence M. Krauss of Case Western Reserve University have been similarly fruitless.

 

Creationists retort that a closed-minded scientific community rejects their evidence. Yet according to the editors of Nature, Science and other leading journals, few antievolution manuscripts are even submitted. Some antievolution authors have published papers in serious journals. Those papers, however, rarely attack evolution directly or advance creationist arguments; at best, they identify certain evolutionary problems as unsolved and difficult (which no one disputes). In short, creationists are not giving the scientific world good reason to take them seriously.

 

5. The disagreements among even evolutionary biologists show how little solid science supports evolution.

 

Evolutionary biologists passionately debate diverse topics: how speciation happens, the rates of evolutionary change, the ancestral relationships of birds and dinosaurs, whether Neandertals were a species apart from modern humans, and much more. These disputes are like those found in all other branches of science. Acceptance of evolution as a factual occurrence and a guiding principle is nonetheless universal in biology.

 

Unfortunately, dishonest creationists have shown a willingness to take scientists' comments out of context to exaggerate and distort the disagreements. Anyone acquainted with the works of paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University knows that in addition to co-authoring the punctuated-equilibrium model, Gould was one of the most eloquent defenders and articulators of evolution. (Punctuated equilibrium explains patterns in the fossil record by suggesting that most evolutionary changes occur within geologically brief intervals--which may nonetheless amount to hundreds of generations.) Yet creationists delight in dissecting out phrases from Gould's voluminous prose to make him sound as though he had doubted evolution, and they present punctuated equilibrium as though it allows new species to materialize overnight or birds to be born from reptile eggs.

 

When confronted with a quotation from a scientific authority that seems to question evolution, insist on seeing the statement in context. Almost invariably, the attack on evolution will prove illusory.

 

6. If humans descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

 

This surprisingly common argument reflects several levels of ignorance about evolution. The first mistake is that evolution does not teach that humans descended from monkeys; it states that both have a common ancestor.

 

The deeper error is that this objection is tantamount to asking, "If children descended from adults, why are there still adults?" New species evolve by splintering off from established ones, when populations of organisms become isolated from the main branch of their family and acquire sufficient differences to remain forever distinct. The parent species may survive indefinitely thereafter, or it may become extinct.

 

7. Evolution cannot explain how life first appeared on earth.

 

The origin of life remains very much a mystery, but biochemists have learned about how primitive nucleic acids, amino acids and other building blocks of life could have formed and organized themselves into self-replicating, self-sustaining units, laying the foundation for cellular biochemistry. Astrochemical analyses hint that quantities of these compounds might have originated in space and fallen to earth in comets, a scenario that may solve the problem of how those constituents arose under the conditions that prevailed when our planet was young.

 

Creationists sometimes try to invalidate all of evolution by pointing to science's current inability to explain the origin of life. But even if life on earth turned out to have a nonevolutionary origin (for instance, if aliens introduced the first cells billions of years ago), evolution since then would be robustly confirmed by countless microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies.

 

8. Mathematically, it is inconceivable that anything as complex as a protein, let alone a living cell or a human, could spring up by chance.

 

Chance plays a part in evolution (for example, in the random mutations that can give rise to new traits), but evolution does not depend on chance to create organisms, proteins or other entities. Quite the opposite: natural selection, the principal known mechanism of evolution, harnesses nonrandom change by preserving "desirable" (adaptive) features and eliminating "undesirable" (nonadaptive) ones. As long as the forces of selection stay constant, natural selection can push evolution in one direction and produce sophisticated structures in surprisingly short times.

As an analogy, consider the 13-letter sequence "TOBEORNOTTOBE." Those hypothetical million monkeys, each pecking out one phrase a second, could take as long as 78,800 years to find it among the 2613 sequences of that length. But in the 1980s Richard Hardison of Glendale College wrote a computer program that generated phrases randomly while preserving the positions of individual letters that happened to be correctly placed (in effect, selecting for phrases more like Hamlet's). On average, the program re-created the phrase in just 336 iterations, less than 90 seconds. Even more amazing, it could reconstruct Shakespeare's entire play in just four and a half days.

 

9. The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that systems must become more disordered over time. Living cells therefore could not have evolved from inanimate chemicals, and multicellular life could not have evolved from protozoa.

 

This argument derives from a misunderstanding of the Second Law. If it were valid, mineral crystals and snowflakes would also be impossible, because they, too, are complex structures that form spontaneously from disordered parts.

 

The Second Law actually states that the total entropy of a closed system (one that no energy or matter leaves or enters) cannot decrease. Entropy is a physical concept often casually described as disorder, but it differs significantly from the conversational use of the word.

 

More important, however, the Second Law permits parts of a system to decrease in entropy as long as other parts experience an offsetting increase. Thus, our planet as a whole can grow more complex because the sun pours heat and light onto it, and the greater entropy associated with the sun's nuclear fusion more than rebalances the scales. Simple organisms can fuel their rise toward complexity by consuming other forms of life and nonliving materials.

 

10. Mutations are essential to evolution theory, but mutations can only eliminate traits. They cannot produce new features.

 

On the contrary, biology has catalogued many traits produced by point mutations (changes at precise positions in an organism's DNA)--bacterial resistance to antibiotics, for example.

 

Mutations that arise in the homeobox (Hox) family of development-regulating genes in animals can also have complex effects. Hox genes direct where legs, wings, antennae and body segments should grow. In fruit flies, for instance, the mutation called Antennapedia causes legs to sprout where antennae should grow. These abnormal limbs are not functional, but their existence demonstrates that genetic mistakes can produce complex structures, which natural selection can then test for possible uses.

 

Moreover, molecular biology has discovered mechanisms for genetic change that go beyond point mutations, and these expand the ways in which new traits can appear. Functional modules within genes can be spliced together in novel ways. Whole genes can be accidentally duplicated in an organism's DNA, and the duplicates are free to mutate into genes for new, complex features. Comparisons of the DNA from a wide variety of organisms indicate that this is how the globin family of blood proteins evolved over millions of years.

 

11. Natural selection might explain microevolution, but it cannot explain the origin of new species and higher orders of life.

 

Evolutionary biologists have written extensively about how natural selection could produce new species. For instance, in the model called allopatry, developed by Ernst Mayr of Harvard University, if a population of organisms were isolated from the rest of its species by geographical boundaries, it might be subjected to different selective pressures. Changes would accumulate in the isolated population. If those changes became so significant that the splinter group could not or routinely would not breed with the original stock, then the splinter group would be reproductively isolated and on its way toward becoming a new species.

 

Natural selection is the best studied of the evolutionary mechanisms, but biologists are open to other possibilities as well. Biologists are constantly assessing the potential of unusual genetic mechanisms for causing speciation or for producing complex features in organisms. Lynn Margulis of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and others have persuasively argued that some cellular organelles, such as the energy-generating mitochondria, evolved through the symbiotic merger of ancient organisms. Thus, science welcomes the possibility of evolution resulting from forces beyond natural selection. Yet those forces must be natural; they cannot be attributed to the actions of mysterious creative intelligences whose existence, in scientific terms, is unproved.

 

12. Nobody has ever seen a new species evolve.

 

Speciation is probably fairly rare and in many cases might take centuries. Furthermore, recognizing a new species during a formative stage can be difficult, because biologists sometimes disagree about how best to define a species. The most widely used definition, Mayr's Biological Species Concept, recognizes a species as a distinct community of reproductively isolated populations--sets of organisms that normally do not or cannot breed outside their community. In practice, this standard can be difficult to apply to organisms isolated by distance or terrain or to plants (and, of course, fossils do not breed). Biologists therefore usually use organisms' physical and behavioral traits as clues to their species membership.

 

Nevertheless, the scientific literature does contain reports of apparent speciation events in plants, insects and worms. In most of these experiments, researchers subjected organisms to various types of selection--for anatomical differences, mating behaviors, habitat preferences and other traits--and found that they had created populations of organisms that did not breed with outsiders. For example, William R. Rice of the University of New Mexico and George W. Salt of the University of California at Davis demonstrated that if they sorted a group of fruit flies by their preference for certain environments and bred those flies separately over 35 generations, the resulting flies would refuse to breed with those from a very different environment.

 

13. Evolutionists cannot point to any transitional fossils--creatures that are half reptile and half bird, for instance.

 

Actually, paleontologists know of many detailed examples of fossils intermediate in form between various taxonomic groups. One of the most famous fossils of all time is Archaeopteryx, which combines feathers and skeletal structures peculiar to birds with features of dinosaurs. A flock's worth of other feathered fossil species, some more avian and some less, has also been found. A sequence of fossils spans the evolution of modern horses from the tiny Eohippus. Whales had four-legged ancestors that walked on land, and creatures known as Ambulocetus and Rodhocetus helped to make that transition [see "The Mammals That Conquered the Seas," by Kate Wong; Scientific American, May]. Fossil seashells trace the evolution of various mollusks through millions of years. Perhaps 20 or more hominids (not all of them our ancestors) fill the gap between Lucy the australopithecine and modern humans.

 

Creationists, though, dismiss these fossil studies. They argue that Archaeopteryx is not a missing link between reptiles and birds--it is just an extinct bird with reptilian features. They want evolutionists to produce a weird, chimeric monster that cannot be classified as belonging to any known group. Even if a creationist does accept a fossil as transitional between two species, he or she may then insist on seeing other fossils intermediate between it and the first two. These frustrating requests can proceed ad infinitum and place an unreasonable burden on the always incomplete fossil record.

 

Nevertheless, evolutionists can cite further supportive evidence from molecular biology. All organisms share most of the same genes, but as evolution predicts, the structures of these genes and their products diverge among species, in keeping with their evolutionary relationships. Geneticists speak of the "molecular clock" that records the passage of time. These molecular data also show how various organisms are transitional within evolution.

 

14. Living things have fantastically intricate features--at the anatomical, cellular and molecular levels--that could not function if they were any less complex or sophisticated. The only prudent conclusion is that they are the products of intelligent design, not evolution.

 

This "argument from design" is the backbone of most recent attacks on evolution, but it is also one of the oldest. In 1802 theologian William Paley wrote that if one finds a pocket watch in a field, the most reasonable conclusion is that someone dropped it, not that natural forces created it there. By analogy, Paley argued, the complex structures of living things must be the handiwork of direct, divine invention. Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species as an answer to Paley: he explained how natural forces of selection, acting on inherited features, could gradually shape the evolution of ornate organic structures.

 

Generations of creationists have tried to counter Darwin by citing the example of the eye as a structure that could not have evolved. The eye's ability to provide vision depends on the perfect arrangement of its parts, these critics say. Natural selection could thus never favor the transitional forms needed during the eye's evolution--what good is half an eye? Anticipating this criticism, Darwin suggested that even "incomplete" eyes might confer benefits (such as helping creatures orient toward light) and thereby survive for further evolutionary refinement. Biology has vindicated Darwin: researchers have identified primitive eyes and light-sensing organs throughout the animal kingdom and have even tracked the evolutionary history of eyes through comparative genetics. (It now appears that in various families of organisms, eyes have evolved independently.)

 

Today's intelligent-design advocates are more sophisticated than their predecessors, but their arguments and goals are not fundamentally different. They criticize evolution by trying to demonstrate that it could not account for life as we know it and then insist that the only tenable alternative is that life was designed by an unidentified intelligence.

 

15. Recent discoveries prove that even at the microscopic level, life has a quality of complexity that could not have come about through evolution.

 

"Irreducible complexity" is the battle cry of Michael J. Behe of Lehigh University, author of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. As a household example of irreducible complexity, Behe chooses the mousetrap--a machine that could not function if any of its pieces were missing and whose pieces have no value except as parts of the whole. What is true of the mousetrap, he says, is even truer of the bacterial flagellum, a whiplike cellular organelle used for propulsion that operates like an outboard motor. The proteins that make up a flagellum are uncannily arranged into motor components, a universal joint and other structures like those that a human engineer might specify. The possibility that this intricate array could have arisen through evolutionary modification is virtually nil, Behe argues, and that bespeaks intelligent design. He makes similar points about the blood's clotting mechanism and other molecular systems.

 

Yet evolutionary biologists have answers to these objections. First, there exist flagellae with forms simpler than the one that Behe cites, so it is not necessary for all those components to be present for a flagellum to work. The sophisticated components of this flagellum all have precedents elsewhere in nature, as described by Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University and others. In fact, the entire flagellum assembly is extremely similar to an organelle that Yersinia pestis, the bubonic plague bacterium, uses to inject toxins into cells.

 

The key is that the flagellum's component structures, which Behe suggests have no value apart from their role in propulsion, can serve multiple functions that would have helped favor their evolution. The final evolution of the flagellum might then have involved only the novel recombination of sophisticated parts that initially evolved for other purposes. Similarly, the blood-clotting system seems to involve the modification and elaboration of proteins that were originally used in digestion, according to studies by Russell F. Doolittle of the University of California at San Diego. So some of the complexity that Behe calls proof of intelligent design is not irreducible at all.

Complexity of a different kind--"specified complexity"--is the cornerstone of the intelligent-design arguments of William A. Dembski of Baylor University in his books The Design Inference and No Free Lunch. Essentially his argument is that living things are complex in a way that undirected, random processes could never produce. The only logical conclusion, Dembski asserts, in an echo of Paley 200 years ago, is that some superhuman intelligence created and shaped life.

 

Dembski's argument contains several holes. It is wrong to insinuate that the field of explanations consists only of random processes or designing intelligences. Researchers into nonlinear systems and cellular automata at the Santa Fe Institute and elsewhere have demonstrated that simple, undirected processes can yield extraordinarily complex patterns. Some of the complexity seen in organisms may therefore emerge through natural phenomena that we as yet barely understand. But that is far different from saying that the complexity could not have arisen naturally.

 

"Creation science" is a contradiction in terms. A central tenet of modern science is methodological naturalism--it seeks to explain the universe purely in terms of observed or testable natural mechanisms. Thus, physics describes the atomic nucleus with specific concepts governing matter and energy, and it tests those descriptions experimentally. Physicists introduce new particles, such as quarks, to flesh out their theories only when data show that the previous descriptions cannot adequately explain observed phenomena. The new particles do not have arbitrary properties, moreover--their definitions are tightly constrained, because the new particles must fit within the existing framework of physics.

 

In contrast, intelligent-design theorists invoke shadowy entities that conveniently have whatever unconstrained abilities are needed to solve the mystery at hand. Rather than expanding scientific inquiry, such answers shut it down. (How does one disprove the existence of omnipotent intelligences?)

 

Intelligent design offers few answers. For instance, when and how did a designing intelligence intervene in life's history? By creating the first DNA? The first cell? The first human? Was every species designed, or just a few early ones? Proponents of intelligent-design theory frequently decline to be pinned down on these points. They do not even make real attempts to reconcile their disparate ideas about intelligent design. Instead they pursue argument by exclusion--that is, they belittle evolutionary explanations as far-fetched or incomplete and then imply that only design-based alternatives remain.

 

Logically, this is misleading: even if one naturalistic explanation is flawed, it does not mean that all are. Moreover, it does not make one intelligent-design theory more reasonable than another. Listeners are essentially left to fill in the blanks for themselves, and some will undoubtedly do so by substituting their religious beliefs for scientific ideas.

 

Time and again, science has shown that methodological naturalism can push back ignorance, finding increasingly detailed and informative answers to mysteries that once seemed impenetrable: the nature of light, the causes of disease, how the brain works. Evolution is doing the same with the riddle of how the living world took shape. Creationism, by any name, adds nothing of intellectual value to the effort.

 

but I still feel that the evolution theory has some holes.

 

With your limit on reading, this is no surprise, at all. How do you ever expect to understand it if you can't commit to reading it? Would a visual learning system be easier for you to grasp? Can you sit through that? Try this out. It's a very interesting lecture series that was even able to keep my 4 year old's attention (for a little bit, anyway lol...):

 

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/lectures.html

 

Ok, something bite-size for you non-scientist guys who can't brain-gest the huge portion sevred to you by the Reverend.

 

Punctuated equilibrium consists of periods of rapid evolutionary change, puctuated by evolutionary plateau. The periods of rapid change would be the state of the most intermediate forms,periods of rapid change, being a time of 'discord'. Plateaus are a stable relationship between the organism and its environment. It ain't broke, it ain't getting fixed just yet.

 

On a geological timeline, we humans are in a period of extremely rapid change, evolutionarily. How do we know this? One, because we are making our environment change faster than ever before, presenting new challenges in the form of new selective pressures. Two, because our bodies are plagued with intermediate deformaties. Look at our teeth, for example, and all the selective pressures involved. Cranial growth, innovation of cooking and tools,change in diet, standing upright, shortening of muzzle due to skin persperational cooling, all have put selective pressure on the recent development of our dental structure. As expected, human teeth are a mess in the majority of the population. Look at the neat rows of shark teeth, the jagged symetry of dog teeth, those are the teeth of an evolutionary plateau. Compare that the unfortunate ramshackle that most people are stuck with, and you see a work in progress.

 

Humans are an intermediate form. To what, exactly, is impossible to determine.

 

Thanks! I'd like to add that when a geologist or evolutionist talks of "rapid" change, it's rapid on a geological scale. Case in point, the Cambrian Explosion was filled with just such rapid change. How long did it take? Oh, only ten million years! To those scientists, who work in terms of billions of years, that's but a few blinks of an eye.

 

 

Great post Dan. I hate to admit it, but I'm one without the patience to read through the Rev's contribution. Your summation was the one profound thing I'll probably learn this week.

 

Huh, I was always irritated with how most articles spoke of all the massive evidence for evolution and only made brief mention of it. I was frustrated with the lack of extensive detail. So, I went and searched out the most detailed information I could get my hands on and it was then that I really started to understand evolution. I'm sorry, I tried to do the same for everyone else. On the other hand, I also made the effort to provide the "non-scientist" people with something simple. In Robert's case, it seems to have been ignored. Unless, that is, 15 Answers was too complicated, as well. I guess he wanted Evolution In One Paragraph or Less! I'm just not used to breaking it down that simple. Furthermore, I really don't think it would do the subject justice.

 

 

Well, I'm sure that if we still had the skeletons of every single living creature that ever died, we would have transitional fossils out the ass, providing a more-or-less "seamelss" transition from one species to the next. But, since bones are easily destroyed, and fossilization is an extremely rare event in the grand scheme of things, there are a lot of holes in the fossil record.

 

Fewer holes than there are in creationism, though...

And fewer holes than the Bible. I think there is about 25,000 fragments to support the current Bible translation, but several hundred thousands (or maybe more) of fossils and more found each day to support the process of evolution.

 

Not to mention the very DNA we have in almost every cell our bodies! Comparitive DNA studies have yielded much in the way of new evolutionary knowledge:

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/natural_s...g_influence.htm

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/simple_genetic_changes.htm

 

http://www.reverendatheistar.com/genealogy_rewritten.htm

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Huh, I was always irritated with how most articles spoke of all the massive evidence for evolution and only made brief mention of it.

Some people are detail people. Some people are concept people. Good science needs both. Rev, You have the soul of a true scientist. However, for many, they, out of brevity's sake, show a degree of 'faith', erg, that these mountains of evidence, compiled through the blood, sweat, and tears field and laboratory researchers. is indeed facticious and not ficticious. They simply don't have the time or inclination to understand the significance of every bit of data collected. So why is this faith any better than that religious adherents show to their church and to their god(s)?

The difference between good science here and ID/creationism and its religious underpinnings, is that good science doesn't need this faith as a measure of its veracity, but instead frowns upon it in serious circles. On the other hand, metaphysical constructs require faith to uphold their fundamental scheme.

In a serious debate, this of course would only be an excuse. Among any given crowd of non-specialists, however, a summary of the basic concepts followed up with some concrete examples will suffice.

 

Soldier on, Rev. You're compiling quite a source reference for the rest of us! :grin:

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Great post Dan. I hate to admit it, but I'm one without the patience to read through the Rev's contribution. Your summation was the one profound thing I'll probably learn this week.

 

Huh, I was always irritated with how most articles spoke of all the massive evidence for evolution and only made brief mention of it. I was frustrated with the lack of extensive detail. So, I went and searched out the most detailed information I could get my hands on and it was then that I really started to understand evolution. I'm sorry, I tried to do the same for everyone else. On the other hand, I also made the effort to provide the "non-scientist" people with something simple. In Robert's case, it seems to have been ignored. Unless, that is, 15 Answers was too complicated, as well. I guess he wanted Evolution In One Paragraph or Less! I'm just not used to breaking it down that simple. Furthermore, I really don't think it would do the subject justice.

 

No need to get defensive here. I did my time in bio and botony when I was in school and while I'm far from informed on the subject, I accept ToE and appreciate the controbutions of those here who try and educate the rest of us. I just don't have the time or the desire to read through 10-20 pages on it right now. Dan's summation for me was great. Those who wish to explore more, can absolutely read through your papers and do even more in depth research. Those who deny the theory but have not done the research should be ashamed since they have no ground to defend.

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Rev - Ok I suppose you are right I should either read read read and then ask or just not ask ... But I don't have time.. and maybe not the brain either! Does this mean I can't ask questions? You shouldn't be so impatient . do you expect everyone to be scientists first and then family and jobs come second? please don't take that personally though .. just a thought :grin:

 

And having said all that I thank you for your links and posts I am trying to keep up !

 

Your motivation is partly about why Creationism is wrong. Mine is just trying to understand how evolution answers all of the questions.

 

Anyway Peace.. I have reading to do :wicked:

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http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/16669.html

 

Where Are The Half-Evolved Dinosaurs?

by Babu Ranganathan

August 09, 2006 09:00 AM EST

 

 

The fossil record contains fossils of only complete and fully-formed species. There are no fossils of partially-evolved species to indicate that a gradual process of evolution ever occurred. Even among evolutionists there are diametrically different interpretations and reconstructions of the fossils used to support human evolution from a supposed ape-like ancestry.

 

Even if evolution takes millions and millions of years, we should still be able to see some stages of its process. But, we simply don't observe any partially-evolved fish, frogs, lizards, birds, dogs, cats among us. Every species of plant and animal is complete and fully-formed.

 

 

I think the above shows the major problem with Ranganathan's article and those of many creationists like him. R. thinks there can be "partially evolved species." This notion is self-contradictory. Every species, as R says himself, is "complete and fully-formed." There is no species with half-grown organs; every species' organs are complete for it at its time in biological history. Some earlier species have less complex or less successful organs in a given environment than later species. It's a qualitative judgment when to consider enough incremental changes to justify calling a species new.

 

I wish creationists would stop attacking the straw man of the "partially evolved" creature or species.

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I wish creationists would stop attacking the straw man of the "partially evolved" creature or species.

 

That would involve actually studying the subject. In many circles, that amounts to blasphemy. It is holy to remain ignorant. Thou shalt not read about evidence for evolution. It's of the devil!!!

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