Saturday, July 08, 2017

Young Earth Creationism: Now Transitional Fossils Are Okay

Recently, Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight produced an excellent book titled Adam and the Genome: Reading Genesis After Genetic Science.  I have just finished this book and it is very well-written and concise.  It is also very persuasive in its presentation of the veracity of evolutionary theory, that there were never just two people alive at one time and that the modern human line extends back more than 200 thousand years.  To bolster their argument, however, Venema and McKnight take the reader through an account of many of the transitional forms in the fossil record.

Well, Answers in Genesis has taken a potshot at the book, in several articles by Nathaniel Jeanson, who has argued that Venema's central thesis, that evolution is strongly supported by explanatory evidence and has predictive power, is flawed.  Here is where things get peculiar. Jeanson writes this, regarding the existence of transitional fossils:
In other words, Genesis 1 says that God created man in His own image. In light of this fact, we would be justified in looking to the products of human design to understand the principles that God might have employed in designing life. Since humans design “transitional forms,” why wouldn’t God do so as well?

Thus, while the existence of “transitional forms” might fail to reject the hypothesis of evolution, it also fails to reject the hypothesis of design. As we observed in a previous post, this is a type-3 experiment—in other words, pseudoscience.

This fact applies to Venema’s additional claim about fossil gaps being filled in. Since both YEC scientists and evolutionists predict the existence of “transitional forms,” it doesn’t matter how many fossil gaps are filled; none of these filled gaps will distinguish between creation and evolution. (Of course, if gaps never were filled in, evolutionists would have a lot of explaining to do, as Darwin’s own writings reveal. In formal terms of a previous article, the gaps in the fossil record represent a type-2 experiment—the existence of gaps would spell trouble for evolution; the lack of gaps would say nothing about either model.) (emphasis added)

Wut?

For almost a hundred years, one of the steady mantras of the supporters of recent-earth or young-earth creationism has been that there are no such things as transitional fossils.  Animals were created as “kinds” that were, to a large extent, immutable.  Duane Gish, one of the grand old men of YEC used to attempt to poke holes in the idea of transitional fossils with his “Bossie to Blowhole” slide attempting to show the absurdity of the idea that modern-day whales are the descendants of land animals.  I once attended a lecture by Gish in which he used this slide.

To be sure, many argued that microevolution could take place—the subtle changing of gene frequencies and mutations—but species change simply did not happen. Donald Prothero, in his book Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters, devastatingly showed this to be false.

(Plug: If you have not read this book, you need to.  It is a fantastic trip through the fossil record and the support for evolutionary theory.

The entire study of baraminology is predicated on the fact that there are no transitional fossils, simply created kinds.  Here is AiG's page on the subject, with multiple articles, yet Jeanson's article shows up on the Answers in Genesis web site.  Let's have a look and see what else they have to say about transitional fossils:

Regarding the dinosaur to bird transition: Fossils Fail to Transition from Dinosaur Legs to Bird Wings
The biblical record of history is not only consistent with what we observe in the world but even explains much of what science shows us. The fact that birds appear complete and without evolutionary transitions in the fossil record is, like the rest of actual scientific observations, consistent with God’s Word, which we can confidently trust from the very first verse. 
The Devonian tetrapod transition: The Fossil Record of ‘Early’ Tetrapods: Evidence of a Major Evolutionary Transition?
A robust rationale for concluding that the Upper Devonian tetrapods evolved from a fish ancestor, or that they gave rise to Carboniferous tetrapod lineages, is lacking. It is hoped that this paper may stimulate creationists to develop a fuller understanding of these remarkable creatures and their ecological and geological context.
On the ancestry of whales: It's a 'Whale'
The “evolution” is entirely in the minds of evolutionists, who need to find ancestors for whales, and thus create a “sequence” that isn’t really there. Like lining up horse fossils small to large and proclaiming a sequence, whale evolution is just another fiction.
About gaps in the fossil record: Does a ‘Transitional Form’ Replace One Gap with Two Gaps?
Once the lack of major transitions is acknowledged, one must face the fact that there is no tree of life because there are no roots, no trunk, no boughs, and no medium-sized branches. There are only mutually disjointed bushes, and even these consist exclusively of variation only within the kind, and this is almost invariably within the family unit of traditional taxonomy. The scientific creationist needs to only reject organic evolution before being in hearty agreement with the foregoing cited statements.
As we can see, even the Answers in Genesis site, at least for the last twenty years has had the official position that transitional fossils do not exist.  So, now transitional fossils are okay?  Jeanson's article is an astounding thing to read.  Not only does he dispense with almost a hundred years of creationist “teaching,” without once referring to its existence, he then turns around and accuses Venema of pseudoscience because his hypothesis fails to reject creationist teaching on the existence of transitional fossils. The mendacity of Jeanson's argument is breathtaking.  This is a complete disregard for scientific integrity and honesty.  Libby Anne of Patheos refers to this as exactly what it is: Bullshit.

But Jeanson isn't done.  He then writes something truly idiotic regarding the order of the fossil record:
What about the order of the fossils in the fossil record? The order was actually discovered before Darwin published his book. Therefore, it would be nearly impossible to call the order of the fossils a “prediction” of evolution. Instead, both sides in the origins debate look back on this discovery and incorporate it into their model. Thus, while the order of fossils might fail to reject the hypothesis of evolution, it fails to reject the hypothesis of creation.
This betrays a complete lack of understanding of how the theory of natural selection came about. Darwin's theory predicted that if natural selection was the best explanation for present and past diversity in the fossil record and that there should be increasing order of complexity in the fossil record, leading up to humans and that more transitional forms WOULD be found in the fossil record in the future, a prediction that has been borne out many times over (e.g. Tiktaalik, the evolution of whales).

One more thing: the order of the fossil record has always been a stumbling block for creationists because it is difficult to explain the order in the context of a world-wide flood.  Species that should sink to the bottom, like large dinosaurs and sea creatures, are found three-quarters of the way up the column.  Additionally, there are no humans or their cultural remains found at the bottom, which is what you would expect.  Indeed, the world-wide flood hypothesis is easily rejected based on multiple lines of evidence. 

Ironically, at the tail end of the article, Jeanson writes this:
Why does Venema make these basic scientific mistakes? We observed above that the answers to Venema’s claims have been in the YEC literature for several years. Yet we also observed in a previous post that evolutionists refuse to read YEC literature. And we discovered that they do so because they apparently think that YEC scientists are liars. Naturally, this leads to ignorance of the opposition—and, effectively, to fitting of facts to preconceived ideas.
Gee, I can't imagine why we would think that.

One of the comments on Libby Anne's story, by Deus ex Lasagna, put it best (if sarcastically):
"You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them. "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this goalpost, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible."

- Matthew 17:20, updated for realism

2 comments:

  1. WHAT. THE. FRACK. Are they seriously expecting to gaslight us like this? The ONE thing creationism has consistently claimed for over 150 years, and now they're claiming it fits perfectly into their worldview? That's some "We've always been at war with Eastasia" level crap right there.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Reality continues to catch up with these pathological liar 'biblical creationists' - I guess there are now too many transitional forms to dismiss eg Homo naledi. It's now got to the point where the YEC ideologues have instead to say even if our claims are very very dodgy, trust me, the claims of 'evolutionists' are even worse - and that is what really matters here. But if they accept that God may have designed some 'transitional forms' (eg a now extinct bird or mammal) after all then let them agree that these should also include Tiktaalik, 'Lucy' and Archaeopteryx - all of which appear to straddle their invented 'kind' boundaries.

    ReplyDelete