Thursday, June 7, 2007

Finding Fossils That Speak To Us


The following quote comes from an inciteful article from Dr. David Menton, Ph.D. (Click on the link to view the paper).


"To be consistent with evolution, the fossil record should show how organisms slowly transformed one into another through countless intermediate or transitional stages. Evolutionists, for example, claim that over one hundred million years were required for the gradual transformation of invertebrates into vertebrates; thus we would expect that the fossil record should show at least some of the progressive stages of this large-scale transformation.



To be consistent with creation, on the other hand, the fossil record should show no obvious transitional stages between distinctly different kinds of organisms, but rather each kind of organism should appear all at once and fully formed." - David N. Menton, Ph.D.


What the fossil record seems to show is there are no obvious transitional stages between distinctly different kinds of organisms, but rather each kind of organism appears all at once and fully formed.



Hmmm, now what does that indicate??
As recently as my high school days it was taught that "Eohippus" known today as Hyracotherium, (which evolutionists assumed was the first horse) was a direct line ancestor of today's modern horse, "Equus." Soon after becoming a Christian and comparing the science I was being taught in School with the science in books by scientists who are Christians, I learned that fossils of both Eohippus and Equus were found in the same strata, proving that both were in existence at the same time.
Recently I've learned that some textbooks still perpetuate that story but with a few modifications, one of which states "There's no discernable "straight line" of horse evolution..." God forbid that the Bible should make such changes--they'd throw the whole thing out!

To show how evolution's pathway is illustrated we high schoolers were also exposed to Haekels Drawings:


Those drawings supposedly revealed the development of the human fetus as it passed through, and demonstrated various evolutionary stages. It's since been shown that Haekel was intentionally misleading. There is an attempt today by certain individuals to "whitewash" Haekels hoax and redeem it as 'science.' I also understand that Haekels drawings still appear (with modification) in some of today's high school textbooks--though I've not personally seen them.
*picture of me in Death Valley, obviously mining quotes.

7 comments:

TXatheist said...

Could you please indicate what a non-fully formed creature/being looks like?

R. Hoeppner said...

txatheist: No, evidence of transitional species are not being found every day. David Raup (David Raup, a paleontologist at the Field Museum of Natural History) wrote; "We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much -- ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of Darwinian change in the fossil record such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information." (Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin, 50:22-29)

TXatheist said...

From talkorigins.org and I'm still wondering why you are against evolution?

Yes, Raup did say this (in "Conflicts between Darwin and Paleontology", Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin Jan. 1979, Vol. 50 No. 1 p. 22-29). Here is the quote in the immediate context (the quoted portions in boldface):
"Well, we are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn't changed much. The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transitions than we had in Darwin's time. By this I mean that some of the classic cases of darwinian change in the fossil record, such as the evolution of the horse in North America, have had to be discarded or modified as a result of more detailed information -- what appeared to be a nice simple progression when relatively few data were available now appear to be much more complex and much less gradualistic. So Darwin's problem has not been alleviated in the last 120 years and we still have a record which does show change but one that can hardly be looked upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection."(p. 25)

Note that while Raup says that some of the examples have been "discarded" he also says that others have only been "modified". For example the classic horse series Raup mentions is one of those that has been modified, but it is far from discarded. Also note that Raup clearly states that the pattern of the fossil record is one of change in living things over geologic time, something that young earth creationists deny.

And yes it has been taken out of context. The paper is about Darwin's mechanism of natural selection and whether this mechanism is reflected in pattern of the fossil record, not whether there is a lack of evidence for common descent. From the beginning of the article:

"Part of our conventional wisdom about evolution is that the fossil record of past life is an important cornerstone of evolutionary theory. In some ways, this is true -- but the situation is much more complicated. I will explore here a few of the complex interrelationships between fossils and darwinian theory. . . Darwin's theory of natural selection has always been closely linked to evidence form fossils, and probably most people assume that fossils provide a very important part of the general argument that is made in favor of darwinian interpretations of the history of life. Unfortunately, this is not strictly true. We must distinguish between the fact of evolution -- defined as change in organisms over time -- and the explanation of this change. Darwin's contribution, through his theory of natural selection, was to suggest how the evolutionary change took place. The evidence we find in the geologic record is not nearly as compatible with darwinian natural selection as we would like it to be." (p. 22)

The transitions Raup seems to be talking about in the quote creationists use are mostly at the level of species or genera (like between a horse and a zebra or between a fox and a wolf), not intermediates between higher classifications like between classes, orders, or families (between reptiles and mammals etc.), which are the ones creationists most object to. However it is these "missing" species level transitions that creationists (in ignorance?) often quote paleontologists talking about. This seems to be the case here as well:

"There were several problems, but the principle one was that the geologic record did not then and still does not yield a finely graduated chain of slow and progressive evolution. In other words, there are not enough intermediates. There are very few cases where one can find a gradual transition from one species to another. . ." (p. 23, emphasis mine)

Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge are favorite targets for this creationist tactic because their hypothesis of punctuated equilibria is intended to explain why from a biological point of view we should expect species level transitions to be rare in the fossil record. Thus in their writings they frequently state the problem(s) they are attempting to solve. Creationists quote them stating the problems but not the solutions they propose. This seems to be the nature of the quote they have taken from Raup. The beginning of the very next paragraph after the one they quote tends to confirm this:

"Now let me take a step back from the problem and very generally discuss natural selection and what we know about it. I think it is safe to say that we know for sure that natural selection, as a process, does work. There is a mountain of experimental and observational evidence, much of it predating genetics, which shows that natural selection as a biological process works."(p. 25)

He then moves on to the fossil record:

"Now with regard to the fossil record, we certainly see change. If any of us were to be put down in the Cretaceous landscape we would immediately recognize the difference. Some of the plants and animals would be familiar but most would have changed and some of the types would be totally different from those living today. . . This record of change pretty clearly demonstrates that evolution has occurred if we define evolution simply as change; but it does not tell us how this change too place, and that is really the question. If we allow that natural selection works, as we almost have to do, the fossil record doesn't tell us whether it was responsible for 90 percent of the change we see or 9 percent, or .9 percent." (p. 26)

He then goes on to discuss natural selection versus other possible explanatory mechanisms and how they might relate to the fossil record. He also discusses the effects of historical contingency as it relates to extinction pointing out that sometimes species may become extinct due more to "bad luck" than bad genes -- this by the way is the basis for Raup's 1991 book Extinction - Bad Genes or Bad Luck?). Raup concludes this article stating:

"The ideas I have discussed here are rather new and have not been completely tested. No matter how they come out, however, they are having a ventilating effect on thinking in evolution and the conventional dogma is being challenged. If the ideas turn out to be valid, it will mean that Darwin was correct in what he said but that he was explaining only a part of the total evolutionary picture. The part he missed was the simple element of chance!"(p. 29)

Not particularly damning. Perhaps the more interesting question is where do creationists get the idea that lists of such (out of context) quotations are a valid form of scientific arguement?

For Raup's views on creationist arguments I suggest you look up one or both of the following:

"Geology and Creationism", Field Museum of Natural History Bulletin Mar. 1983, Vol. 54 No. 3 pp. 16-25)

"The Geological and Paleontological Arguments of Creationism" in Scientists Confront Creationism (1983), Laurie R. Godfrey (Editor), pp. 147-162

R. Hoeppner said...

txatheist: You will note that I posted your comment even though it was quite lengthy and through it all you didn't acknowledge that in my post I did refer to the modification (of the theory) regarding eohippus. I also in previous post(s) have clearly said that those I quoted from remained unchanged in their belief in evolution(and why not? The theory of evolution is like silly putty, if the evidence contradicts the theory, one can simply stretch, bend and form it to -"modify"- it to fit whatever. Furthermore,I'm using your posted quotation where Raup summarizes, "So Darwin's problem has not been alleviated in the last 120 years and we still have a record which does show change but one that can hardly be looked upon as the most reasonable consequence of natural selection."(proves my point and shows that I didn't quote out of context. The lack of real intermediate links plus the sudden appearance and disappearance of species in the fossil record gave rise to the additional theory of 'Stasis'] (stasis--a period of little or no evolutionary change in a species in the punctuated equilibrium model of evolutionary biology) to the evolutionary model. Stasis is another way of saying 'creationism.' Finally, unlike many atheists who take a quote from the Bible, (usually one verse or less) to establish their point--I at least take a paragraph. Now you posted how that quote I made was out of context yet you didn't show anything different than I did.

TXatheist said...

My post elaborated on how creatures did change and how Raup acknowledged it. Stasis is equivelent to creationism? Not science but I'm sure you think beings were created in their current form.
4th time is a charm? Why are you against evolution? Why can't you say god used evolution?

TXatheist said...

Maybe you didn't get the point of the article where it says scientists ask rhetorical questions and then answer them. I'm going to speculate that you are against evolution because you think there is evidence against evolution? If that is the reason then please just say so.

R. Hoeppner said...

txatheist asked, "Why can't you say god used evolution?"

I would be dishonest if I said that. I don't believe it unless you were to specify 'micro-evolution.' That I could agree with.

God created everything to reproduce after its own kind, according to Genesis. That is observable. Cross breeding has produced some improved aspects to different species but they are all sterile and cannot reproduce. I suppose that some sort of genetic engineering will develop some weird creatures but I suspect that even they will be sterile.