Thursday, August 03, 2006

Transitional Fossils

Something David Berlinski said got me thinking:
"I am happy to salute Archaeopteryx, recognizing the little monster as half-bird and half-reptile"
Now, Berlinski isn't a creationist but he does have a problem with Darwinist evolution. His comment, however, struck me in an interesting way. Why do creationists fret over the supposed "transitional" fossils? What is there really to worry about? So what if a creature is half-bird and half-reptile, that doesn't mean it evolved from either or into either. It just means it's half-bird and half-reptile. Peculiar, sure; proof of evolution, hardly.

The simple facts of reality are on our side. The past is inscrutable. Even if there was a perfect procession of fossils (which there absolutely isn't); even if we could create life from non-life in the lab by purely random processes (which we absolutely can not); even if we could observe macroevolution from one creature into another (which we absolutely have and will not) what would it prove? Nothing! It would only open up the possibility that such things might or can happen, not that they did in fact occur in the past. None of this can be proven empirically. Thus should cause science to step back and stop making dogmatic statements about such uncertain ground. Science is a fine thing as long as it keeps itself in check by its own standards of empirical observation and it remains purely objective and impartial. The past is not an object that can be reliably studied through these methods. It is therefore not the proper domain for scientific study, especially not dogmatic scientific conclusions.


At 5:20 PM, Blogger coolwater said...

good point seamus!!! It could have been a random mutation, or corruption due to time, but regardless it dosen't prove a link. This reminds me of a passage from a Case for a Creator. He says the archaeopteryx is actually just a bird fossile with very little to no reptile characteristics. Also, even it it were half and half it is 10 million years ahead of its time. How many times do they have to contradict and prove themselves wrong before they start to notice.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Seamus said...

Yeah, I haven't read Case for a Creator yet. I just read a chapter on Archaeopteryx in Icons of Evolution by Wells and it was very interesting.

Realistically, you could probably claim that lots of animals living today are "transitional" in the sense that they share characteristics of other animals. All it means is that animals can have similarities with other animals...big surprise. You could claim that a squirrel is "transitional" between a mouse and a gopher. There is obviously no such transition, but the body characteristics could fit it theoretically.

The problem is that people have taken abstract concepts like taxonomy and confused it with reality. Just because we can organize things in our minds into special groups and hierarchies doesn't mean that those groups have a basis in reality. Same thing with evolution. Just because we can imagine one thing evolving into another does not make it so. It also surely doesn't make it "scientific". All it shows is imagination and the manifestation of a prejudicial worldview.


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