While we're discussing scientific skepticism, what about evolution?

Let me state right from the start that evolution driven by natural selection makes a lot more sense than some magical spirit guy started it all and created all the animals and plants.

But what's seldom discussed is some of the amazing holes in the evolutionary evidence. We have ample fossils of some species and none of others. 

Case in point: We've all seen at least one chart showing the evolution of man, or of the horse. 

I dare you to find one showing the evolution of the cow. I've spent hours and hours on google image search and have nothing to show for it.

Another massive hole: the bat, quite possibly the most prolific type of mammal. Bats seem to have popped out of thin air. There is no record of a creature whose fingers gradually get longer and longer until they are long enough to support a wing made out of skin.

But these are far from the only creatures lacking transitional fossils. This critique of the Darwinian position by Dr. Duane Gish, a prominent creationist, raises a lot of very interesting questions. A quote:

The essence of the neo-Darwinian view is the slow gradual evolution of one plant or animal into another by the gradual accumulation of micromutations through natural selection of favored variants.

If this view of evolution is true, the fossil record should produce an enormous number of transitional forms. Natural history museums should be overflowing with undoubted intermediate forms. About 250,000 fossil species have been collected and classified. These fossils have been collected at random from rocks that are supposed to represent all of the geological periods of earth history. Applying evolution theory and the laws of probability, most of these 250,000 species should represent transitional forms. Thus, if evolution theory is true, there should be no doubt, question, or debate as to the fact of evolution.

Such is not the case at all, however. The fossil record was actually an embarrassment to Darwin, and some paleontologists are willing to admit that it looks even worse from an evolutionary point of view today than it did in Darwin's time.1 Some even appear to admit that there is, in fact, little, if any, evidence for transitional forms in the fossil record. Kitts, for example, states, "Despite the bright promise that paleontology provides a means of 'seeing' evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists, the most notorious of which is the presence of 'gaps' in the fossil record. Evolution requires intermediate forms between species and paleontology does not provide them." More and more paleontologists seem to be coming to the point where they are now willing to admit that this is indeed the case, and are seeking to devise a mechanism for evolution that will tolerate, even predict, systematic gaps in the fossil record.

Other evolutionists remain steadfastly wedded to neo-Darwinism. They argue that there are examples of transitional forms in the fossil record, and that even if examples of gradual change are few, these few examples eliminate the necessity of seeking mechanisms for evolution other than neo-Darwinism. The examples most often cited are the reptile-to-bird transition (Archaeopteryx is the sole suggested intermediate), the so-called horse series, and the reptile-mammal transition.

Of the latter, Olson has said "The reptilian-mammalian transition has by far the finest record of showing the origin of a new class."2 Others claim that there are forms that stand perfectly on the reptilian-mammalian boundary. In an "Impact" article to be published soon, we will examine in some detail the "mammal-like" reptiles that some paleontologists believe represent transitional forms between reptiles and mammals. In the present article we wish to review the general nature of the evidence related to the origin of mammals.


Tags: Duane Gish, creationism, evolution, natural selection

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(Yeah, they'll slow down progress in science, but eventually they'll look more and more foolish. I'm convinced that younger generations will learn better than older generations how to spot fraud and uliterior motivations, e.g. those of creationists.)

It may be dangerous to marginalize them and think of them as a shrinking fringe of crackpots.  I hope that's the case, but they attack school curricula at every opportunity.  If they succeed, they will create a negative feedback loop of ignorance. 

Per Erock68la:

"If they succeed, they will create a negative feedback loop of ignorance. "

Well said. 

They have already succeeded with a large number of the religious ignorant.

But of course to be religious is to be ignorant, willful ignorance at that.

The key to winning is the children and this they know.

This is a war not a game, like it or not they are winning. 

I'm taking this dialog up to the highest level since it was becoming very difficult to follow.

you asked for evidence for the evolution of modern cattle. I provided that evidence (the 10,500 year old aurochs (http://www.thinkatheist.com/xn/detail/1982180:Comment:1455761) skeleton and its domestication, and its preceding 2 million year

That's hardly a complete chart going from mammals who were concurrent with dinosaurs to the modern cow, of which the auroch is merely an example of an extinct modern cow which is exactly what I originally asserted: that there is no complete line leading up to modern cattle.

I am doing no such thing here. In this case, the evidence is that our planet (named Earth) is observed to orbit a star (named Sol) based on the laws of physics and orbital mechanics. Likewise, based on the same observable evidence of physics and orbital mechanics, a planet (named WASP-17) is orbiting a star (also named WASP-17).

It was you who introduced the claim (http://www.thinkatheist.com/xn/detail/1982180:Comment:1457099) that an unexplained anomaly in the orbit of the planet (Earth) around the star (Sol) would render false that it orbits the star (Sol) at all.

I nowhere said "that an unexplained anomaly in the orbit of the planet (Earth) around the star (Sol) would render false that it orbits the star (Sol) at all" and so I invite you to quote me saying anything that very thing. Not something you can fancifully re-interpret to mean that, but find me saying just that plainly so that no explanation along the lines of "here's what Unseen really meant."

Here, as in the climate change thread, where you insist on referring to skeptics as deniers, you use the technique of repeating a distortion hoping that if you say it often enough, people who aren't paying attention (which I suspect is almost everyone here) may start believing it.

It's all based on the same established parameters, the same standards of evidence. How am I 'moving the goal posts' and demanding a different standard or a greater set of evidences? Explain. Be specific.

But you're not going to address that are you? You're going to keep avoiding that point and then accuse me falsely of doing what you're doing yourself.

Even if you remove the unexplained anomalous orbit of WASP-17 from all consideration, there are unexplained anomalies in Earth's orbit around the Sun. These include various aspects of the Chandler Wobble (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandler_wobble#cite_note-Gross-4), Nutation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutation#Earth), and Polar Motion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_motion#Theory).

Astronomy is an observational rather than experimental science like (even though it's not "a science") evolutiionary theory. Thus, we're often left with best guesses or "most likely" kinds of explanations rather than conclusive explanations.

which is that physics is subject to proof while evolution and astronomical explanations are based on preponderance of evidence. The one lives little room for doubt, the other does leave some room for doubt.

You're using the term 'proof' rather carelessly.

All science is subject to proof based on preponderance of evidence. 'Proof' in a scientific context means 'strongly supported by scientific means'.

Scientific proof cannot establish a scientific fact to be formally 'true' beyond all question. All scientific concepts are open to re-evaluation with the discovery of new data and the means of new technology. Absolute proof exists only in the abstract sense of mathematics and formal logic.

Like most words, "proof" has an array of meanings, and when it comes to science, the difference between "proof" and "evidence" is that "proof" is conclusive, "evidence" can approach but not quite reach the level of conclusiveness.

So, then, what is getting your back up about skepticism re: evolution and climate change, not by crackpots but by actual qualified scientists?

It's becoming clear that you just like to fight rather than let the give and take, the dialectic of discovery and debate, take place.

Science is as sure that evolution is true as that the Earth orbits the Sun. Science asserts neither statement (nor any statement outside of abstract mathematics) as a claim of absolute proof. The preponderance of evidence for both is overwhelming.

Science can't be "as sure" because we can observe our planet and the sun in real time and calculate our orbit, but there are big gaps in evolution involving events and processes which are simply permanently and irrevocably gone.

You claim (or strongly implied) (http://www.thinkatheist.com/xn/detail/1982180:Comment:1457099) there are "unexplained anomalies" in evolution, which is the science which shows that a population's gene pool changes over time. So let's see these anomalies. What are they? Then explain how these anomalies mean that it's not true a population's gene pool changes over time. (And you do realize this amounts to you denying that evolution is true?)

That is the point. I'm not the one who is failing to address it.

I did say there were anomalies the theory of evolution seems unable to explain. Bats, cows. Did I say evolution is thereby "not true"? No, rather I'm saying it's true to the extent that there's no better explanation. This is the same degree of proof we use for several other sciences.Even quantum theory is better proven than evolution because we can experiment with subatomic particles.

Just like when you wrongly use the term "denier" about me and my "ilk" (my ilk often including actual qualified scientists), you are attempting to paint me as an evolution denier. My original point was that there are some rather amazing gaps when it comes to depicting the ascent of certain species, and if one wants to know why some use those gaps allow some to deny evolution, well, there you are. They use those gaps. I don't doubt evolution at all because it's a far better explanation than imagining some supernatural ghostly spirit is responsible for creating the various species.

So, as I have said, I think you're just rather fond of arguing and, I'm adding here, you seem to do so by making mountains out of molehills. My assertions about climate science and evolution are not all that wild and in no way go beyond the facts.

Now, knowing you, you're rather helpless and will feel a need to respond and to have the last word. You won't.


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