Transitional Forms: Dinosaurs and Bunny Rabbits, or Why the Speculative Nature of Darwinism makes it Unfalsifiable


Evolution been a matter of speculation [read: a vivid imagination] since Darwin first made the theory of atheistic origins popular. He theorized that life had a common descent and had developed from one-celled organisms to soft-bodied invertebrates to athropods to fish to frogs to reptiles to dinosaurs to mammals to man via innumerable small changes over vast periods of time. There was no evidence of the insane number of transitional forms required for the theory to work either observable in the present-day nature world nor in the fossil record, but he shrugged these objections off. These two objections were made trivial to him in the light of his wild speculations of how life developed. He was too interested in fleshing out this self-authored Just So Story to be bothered with the details that the natural world showed adaptation but never one kind of creature changing into another or that the fossil record was void of transitional forms. Since his theory required evolution to occur over vast periods of time and the changes would occur and a mind-boggling slow rate, he reasoned that it would not be observable now. Rather like the Flash’s most rediculous villain, The Turtle, a man so slow no one could see him! And we all know how he explained away the fossil record’s lack of support by complaining that it was imperfect.

It is no wonder that his modern-day apologists are trying to play fill in the blanks to his fantastical tale of What If?

There are a few key points one should keep in mind when discussing transitional forms:

1. It’s based on speculation. Just because you can speculate that a thing occurred a certain way does not mean it actually happened that way.

Darwinists make the presumption that just because they can speculate about how the dots MIGHT have been connected IF evolution were true that it means that they’ve discovered both that it occurred and that it occurred that way.

For example, we have the famous instance of Darwin’s speculation on how the eye might have developed bit-by-bit. Darwinists love to crow about how he showed it was possible. They forget that he did not show that it actually happened that way.

Or take the ungulates-to-whale series promoted as evidence for vertical [phyletic] microbes-to-man evolution. The entire series consists of a groups of hoofed animals wholly unrelated to whales, some partial fossil skeletons and fossils of creatures not in direct ancestral line to modern whales. Propped up by good story-telling.

Note Rodhocetus' Imagineered Whale's Tail and Flippers

Take Rodhocetus. Dr. Phil Gingerich [Director of the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan], one of the leading experts on whale evolution and Rodhocetus‘ discoverer, promoted the idea that Rodhocetus had a whale’s tail and flippers. Unfortunately, if you visit the University of Michigan, you’ll find that the portion of the tail that would allow us to determine whether Rodhocetus had a whale’s fluke [or not] is missing! “Since then,” Gingerich admits, “we have found the forelimbs, the hands, and the front arms of Rodhocetus, and we understand that it doesn’t have the kind of arms that can be spread out like flippers are on a whale.” [As quoted in Evolution: The Grand Experiment – Volume 1  by Dr Carl Werner, pg 143]. In other words, in the name of Darwin “scientists have added a whale’s tail to an animal when none has been found, and they have added flippers to this same land animal when none have been found.” [Werner, pg. 219]

Consider also the neck of the giraffe. Darwin cheated in Origins, using Lamarkism to explain how he thought the neck might stretch over succesive generations to reac taller trees in a drought. The neck of the giraffe is generally cited as an example of why Lamarck was wrong.

2. It’s based on presumption. Transitional forms carry a bit of circular logic about them. One says that we have proof of the truth of evolution because we have the evidence of transitional forms that fill Darwin’s prescription. One then says that we know these are transitional forms because evolution is true and predicts them.

It is this presumption that has allowed modern-day neo-Darwin apologists like Richard Dawkins and TalkOrigins to make the outlandish claim that we have living examples of transitional forms today. Darwin predicted that these changes would occur over such a long period of time that we could never see evolution in progress. But if we ASSUME evolution is true, we can speculate that each adaptation of species within their kind is actually a transitional form. Therefore they make the ludicrous claim that we can see evolution in action today. Again, that presumes evolution is true a priori. These transitional forms they cite are only transitional forms in truth IF Darwinism is true. We can only truly say we are seeing evolution in action today IF evolution is true.

The evidence speaks more reasonably of the same variation and adaptation of species within their kind that we see today than some Just So Story of common descent.

Now, I say that evolution is just an unfalsifiable belief about the past. We don’t have a time machine to go back and see what happened. Darwinism is the only pseudo-reasonable hypothesis to explain the diversity of life without the need for God. Hand-in-hand with cosmological evolution, it presents a picture of atheistic origins that is completely at odds with the Gensis account of theistic origins.

Recently, Ubiquetous Che objected to my statement that it is an unfalsifiable tautology. He gave this reason:

“Evolution predicts that two sets of fossils that are significantly out of date with one another will never be found within the same geological stratum. The moment that happens, evolution is disproved. Show me a rabbit next to a velociraptor and evolution will be disproven.

“Not only that, but it also predicts that there will never be a fossil for a more recent lifeform found in an earlier geological stratum than an older one. Find me some human bones that are in an older geological stratum than dinosaur bones and evolution is pretty much toast.”

Ignoring [for the moment] the fact that points made while discussing the so-called march of the horse actually make these two similar objections a farce, let’s make some quick observations.

1. A single incidence would not suffice to falsify evolution. Scientists would call that an anamoly. They’d come up with speculation as how it might have happened in ths incidence and then file it away under “Not enough information, but science will have all of the answers someday.” [I call this faith.]

2. A generally recurring pattern would only force an adaption or modification of the theory.

3. Fossils are NOT dated by the strata they’re contained in. On the contrary, the rocks are dated by the fossils they contain.

4. Nowhere in the world are fossils found in neat, successive strata like we see in textbook diagrams. Yes, textbooks are lying to us. Most of the well-known charts, diagrams and illustrations are pure propaganda. In some cases, strata dated older [due to fossil contents] sit on top of strata we have dubbedmore recent [due to fossil contents]. This is all part, we’re assured, of Darwin’s notoriously imperfect fossil record. Geological events have flip-flopped the strata, et cetera.

So let’s examine the objections separately:

In the case of finding a velociraptor and a bunny rabbit together:

1. If it were an incidence or scattering of similar but separate finds, or if the fossil deposit contained predominantly dinosaur remains, it might be theorized that rabbits evolved much earlier than previously supposed. Small mammals did co-exist with dinosaurs, if you’ve forgotten.

2. If it were a general and undeniably obvious pattern, or if thefossil deposits were predominantly mammilian, it might be theorized that some dinosaurs thrived past the Cretaceous in isolated portions of the world or in isolated populations. Darwin was a fan of isolated populations, after all. Call it the Lost World theory. It’s happened before [ex. the coelacanth] where a species thought to be extinct for aeons has shown up in the living world. It is not such a stretch to imagine that a dinosaur might unexpectedly show up in a later fossil record.

3. In either case, I think it’s safe to presume that we would further theorize that the rabbit was on the velociraptor’s menu. I also think it’s more presumable that the Lost World theory would be considered the more probable theory in either circumstance [incidence or pattern] since rocks are more likely [except in unusual circumstances] to be dated be the most recent fossil species contained. For example, a strata containing fish, mammals and insects is not likely to be dated as Devonian or Carboniferous, even if the characteristics of the fish or insects are found to be more similar to fossil species from those strata than to modern species. The presence of the mammalian fossil will cause the finds to be dated according to evolutionary preconceptions and will be assigned a date in the Tertiary.

In the case of human fossils contained in “older geological stratum” than dinosaurs, we have the aforementioned problem. Fossils are not dated by strata. Strata are dated by the fossils they contain.

Therefore, I’m at a loss to speculate just exactly HOW this would even be possible — and you can’t use the impossible as an example of how something might [“might” implies it is possible] be falsifiable.

Strata containing human fossils would be assigned a date in the Quaternary according to evolutionary presuppositions. Any fossils from older periods would be explained in light of this more recent date assignment.

That be as it may, if an indisputably older strata [and, again, how would we determine that?] was found to contain human fossils, we would not throw out the rest of the record! Given modern atheistic science’s predisposition to consider anything, so long as it’s not God, I’d wager they’d be more likely to speculate that they’d found evidence of future human time travel to past epochs of history than to throw out their favorite nontheistic theory of origins.

A few more observations:

1. Let’s face it: If it appeared that human fossils were in a strata older than dinosaurs, it is more likely that the strata containing human fossil remains would be dated as Quaternary and the dinosaur strata would be dated as Mesozoic. Geological events would be used to explain the juxtaposition. This is what Darwinists do today when confronted with such contradictions to their theory, after all.

2. If the geological column [due to a recurring and undeniable pattern of finds worldwide] was accepted as is [however unlikely] AND the evidence was to be interpreted as there are human fossils that predate dinosaur fossils, it is not likely that Darwin apologists would interpret the evidence to mean that ALL human fossils predate ALL dinosaur fossils.

a. Tell me you can’t see these true believers speculating that human evolution has occurred not once, but twice!

b. On the other hand, a gap in fossil finds [man in pre-dinosaur strata, man absent in dinosaur strata, man in post-dinosaur strata] would not invalidate the theory. The fossil record of insects contains a similar gap. They show up in amazing variety and profusion in the Carboniferous, but are absolutely rare in the Creataceous. Scientists chalk up this inconsistency with bad luck rather than observing that it may have more to do with how the strata was laid down than when they lived [catastrophism anyone?]. Such a gap, if accepted as valid and not explained by Dawkinsian flights of fancy like the failed experiments of space aliens or time travellers, would only suggest that humans predate dinosaurs. it would not falsify evolution, since evolution is a theory of common descent via minor changes over vast periods of time; it would only mean that our flow chart is wrong! We’d have to re-evaluate how life progressed, but Darwinists wouldn’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so long as they keep the faith, a vivid imagination and do not stretch the public’s credulity too far. How far is too far? Well, they’re DEFENDING Dawkins despite his speculation that evidence of design might imply life on Earth seeded [and presumably patented] by little green men, so what’s that tell you?

3. If the geological column [due to a recurring and undeniable pattern of finds worldwide] was accepted as is [however unlikely] AND the evidence was to be interpreted as there were dinosaurs living after man evolved, we would hear more Lost World theory, incorporating world-wide dragon legends, lake monsters and modern-day cryptid speculation.

So you see, every time they suggest a way that it might be possible to falsify evolution, it can be shown that they could and would simply imagineer their way out of it to preserve the pet theory.
This, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is why Origins is shelved under science fiction in my personal library.

–Sirius Knott

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. Good entertaining read.

  2. Jason says:

    Wow, you’re really reaching here…

    I like how creationists will complain to no end about radiometric dating, then all of a sudden when we discuss strata dating it’s as if it doesn’t even exist and strata are dated by the fossils they contain.
    We won’t even mention the other non-radiometric dating techniques because it’s unnecessary, your premise has already been invalidated.

    This is, of course, why no one takes philosophy seriously. It’s what you use to ‘prove’ a point when the evidence is not on your side. Hey, let’s use a philosophical argument to get around the fact that examples of ‘transitional forms’ are well documented (and technically, every creature that’s ever existed is a transitional form), mountains of genetic evidence, and actual observed instances of speciation in modern times. I know, we’ll just call it a tautology and use some of our own circular reasoning and our own tautology to back that up! Evolution is false because god designed life, and we know god is true because evolution is false and life needed a designer! Strata are dated by the rocks they contain, believe it because I say so! I say so because strata are dated by the rocks they contain!
    Another aspect of philosophy, it trains you to try and invalidate another persons argument, not to examine the truth value of an argument and certainly not to critique your own argument.

    It just the ID trend to selectively pick out data and completely ignore that which contradicts them, in action.
    Yes, I can also back up that assertion with facts. You and others keep talking about evolution as an atheistic theory. You’re completely ignoring the fact that there are more than 50,000 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences that are christian and supporters of evolution, and that most major denominations either officially state that evolution is compatible with their faith or have no official position whatsoever. Or you ignore the fact that, at the time the origin of species came out, creationism WAS the predominant theory because most scientists were christian. Evolution won out not because they were trying to get away from god, it won through sheer force of evidence. Or your insinuation in this post that Darwin just made the theory up out of the blue, while ignoring the fact that it had been proposed independently by several others who didn’t even know Darwin.
    It’s amazing how far someone will go to ingonre facts in support of ideology.

  3. Let’s go through your supporting points in order, shall we.

    1. It’s based on speculation. Just because you can speculate that a thing occurred a certain way does not mean it actually happened that way.

    First off the bat – all science starts out speculative. This doesn’t invalidate it from becoming religion.

    To use your own example: We can look at the dots we’ve got, and try and work out how they might fit together. In doing this, we can predict where new dots might be. If we can predict where the new dots are with good accuracy, then this validates the theory. If the result is slightly out of sync with the prediction, this suggests that the theory needs to be revised. If the result is hugely out of sync with the prediction, it becomes a falsifying observation for that theory.

    Until recently, there was a gap in the fossil record between primitive fish and primitive amphibian. Scientists used the scientific understanding of the geological timescales involved to make a prediction that, if they found rock of a certain type and a certain age, within that rock they would eventually find a transitional fossil that would fill that gap.

    Scientists found an area where such rock fitting the description was exposed, and got to work. Four years later, they found Tiktaalik – the dot was exactly where the lines said it should be. This is very strong validation for evolutionary science.

    It’s one of the sexiest validations for evolution. It takes more than one successful validation to prove a theory like evolution. Luckily, evolution has many such validating finds… They’re just not all as sexy as Tiktaalik.

    Science starts out with speculation, then tests that speculation. If you consistently get validating results for a theory, then it becomes a valid basis for further research – genetics, immunizations, etc. And if the results of the research based on that theory also validate that theory, you can be pretty sure you’re onto a winner.

    Or take the famous Dawn of the Horse progression made famous in museums and textbooks…

    I am interested in what you’ve said about the Dawn Horse progression. I’m ignorant on that particular piece of the puzzle, and I’d like to look into it some more. May I have a link to your resource(s)? I’m kinda hoping it’s avalible online and not from a book.

    I did turn up a quick mention of something very much like this here:

    The fossil record does not show a gradual, linear progression from Hyracotherium (Eohippus) to Equus. Nor is there any reason to think it should. The fossil record of equids shows that various lineages split into several branches. Evolution was not smooth and gradual; traits evolved at different rates and occasionally reversed. Some species arose gradually, others suddenly. All of this is in accord with the messiness we expect from evolution and from biology in general.

    So it kind of sounds like the different horse fossils you’re describing were each their own lineage, rather than moving backwards and forwards between lineages. But I can’t really stake much on that claim when I haven’t had a closer look at your resource, so I’ll suspend judgement on this particular point for now, save to point out that a satisfactory explanation of these lineages may not be as hard to produce as you might have thought.

    Another point of yours:

    Consider also the neck of the giraffe. Darwin cheated in Origins, using Lamarkism to explain how he thought the neck might stretch over succesive generations to reac taller trees in a drought.

    This is a little unfair. Evolution’s come a long way since Darwin. In the absence of an understanding of the mechanics of heredity, Darwin fell back on the best theory availible in his time. Although Lamarakism turned out to be wrong, it was proven wrong because eventually we did work out the mechansisms of evolution – mutation, genetic drift, migration, and natural selection – and we found out that Lamarakism had no valid scientific basis.

    2. It’s based on presumption. Transitional forms carry a bit of circular logic about them. One says that we have proof of the truth of evolution because we have the evidence of transitional forms that fill Darwin’s prescription. One then says that we know these are transitional forms because evolution is true and predicts them.

    You might actually have a point here if transitional fossils were the only evidence for evolution. They’re not. We can find the fingerprints of evolution in the genome, and we can also see evolution in action.

    Yes. You heard me. We CAN see evolution in action. Well… Small slices of evolution, anyway.

    First off, we can find evidence of benign mutation. So benign mutations can and do occur.

    We have evidence of genetic drift.

    We have evidence of gene flow.

    With the basis for genetic variance in place, it isn’t hard to see that in an environment where not all individuals of a species survive long enough to reproduce, those with a genetic advantage over their peers will be more likely to reproduce, and will pass on that advantage to their progeny. This bit is just plain common sense.

    The trick comes into natural selection via the gene – because we now understand that the fundamental unit of heredity (and therefore, evolution) is the gene. Darwin didn’t know that, and could only remark on heredity in more general terms – often resorting to theories such as Lamarkism that have since Darwin’s times been debunked.

    That’s all evolution needs in order to happen – mechanisms for genetic variance and natural selection.

    The part that seems to bother creationists is that they just can’t see how one species could turn into another. In evolution, that’s called a speciation event. The idea behind a speciation event is that you take a ‘parent’ poplulation of an organisim, and split it up into two groups – ‘children A’ and ‘children B’ – such that the two groups can’t reproduce with one another. Genetic variation over time will wind up changing the genetic structure of the DNA for the two groups, very, very slightly. This process will speed up if the two groups are subjected to different natural selection pressuress.

    Eventually, the DNA for the two children groups will be different enough that they will not be able to reproduce with each other even once they are put into the same environment. Once this happens, you have two distinct – though very highly similar – species of animal. Over time, the two species will continue to mutate in slightly different ways. Gradually, change will pile upon change, and over time the two children groups will evolve into two distinct forms of life.

    I’ll grant to you that we can’t see the whole show in one go. But we can see it, bit by bit. Speciation is an observed phenomenon. Evolution happens in nature – Darwin’s finches have evolved since Darwin’s time. There’s evidence for every step of the way.

    Evolution is very far from being the vauge and uproveable patchwork of guesses and presumptions that you’re presenting it to be. It’s very clear, simple, elegant, and observable explanation for the diversity of life. We can see it in action, and we can see evidence that it has been happening for a very long time.

    Another good example is the mutation in diseases. Every year new strains of influenza evolve resistances to the previous year’s set of immunisations. They get named after the cities in which the new strains emerge. Each new strain will be very slightly different to the old strains, and need their own, unique immunisation shot. That’s why we should all be immunized on an annual basis.

    The list of evidence supporting evolution goes on and on and on. Transitional fossils are just one part. I can grant to you that if transitional fossils were the only evidence for evolution, it would be a bit circular. But there’s far more to evolution than just the fossil record. And it just so happens that every piece of hard physical science that we’ve got backs up evolution.

    The question is no longer whether or not evolution happens. It does. It’s as simple, elegant, and factual as the fact that the theory that the earth goes around the sun.

    The questions remaining regarding evolution are related to precisely how it happens.

    That’s pretty much it for now… Just one more side issue:

    3. Fossils are NOT dated by the strata they’re contained in. On the contrary, the rocks are dated by the fossils they contain.

    I’m assuming that you’re reffering to index fossils. This is a lie that’s widely spread by creationists.

    The sequence of the the strata in the geological column were established in the 19th century by Christian creationist geologists, waaaay before Darwin and evolutionary theory. When those ages were established, it was noted that there were certain kinds of fossils that only appeared in certain strata. It became convienient to use these fossils as an index for the relative ages of strata, so that when digging in a new site it could save the scientists some time and effort in working out precisely where they were in the column.

    The use of index fossils to date strata relative to one another was validated before evolutionary theory – it was actually one of the major supports for evolution in the first place.

    There’s an excellent article on index fossils over on TalkOrigins.

  4. Bah! In my second paragraph:

    First off the bat – all science starts out speculative. This doesn’t invalidate it from becoming religion.

    Originally this read:

    First off the bat – all science starts out speculative. This doesn’t invalidate it from becoming valid science. This is distinct from religion.

    I figured that the original was too adversarial, so I went to delete the last sentence, but screwed up. It should have read:

    First off the bat – all science starts out speculative. This doesn’t invalidate it from becoming valid science.

    Of all the bloody typos to make, it had to be that. My kingdom for an edit function. 😦

  5. Sirius says:

    Jason,

    No, the rocks are not dated by radio carbon dating. I’m sorry if your textbooks still print something science knows to be misleading:
    http://www.icr.org/article/293/

    Also…. wow. You simply did not read what I wrote. You presumed that I would argue a certain way and then made your case.

    1. It doesn’t make a hill of beans whether some supporters of evolution are Christian or not. It only matters whether or not it is true. For example, Both theists [and deists] and atheists supported geocentrism in Galileo’s days. The top astronomer of his time rejected heliocentrism [because, as it turns out, Galileo was erroneously correct; he was right, but not for any of the reasons he gave!].

    2. All life forms would all technically be transitional forms ONLY IF evolution were true. You are making an a priori assumption, not proving your point. In religious circles, this would rightly be called dogma.

    3. I never said Darwin made it up out of the blue. He borrowed everybody else’s ideas. In fact, he shared credit for the idea with someone else as I recall from our history books.

    4. Evolution has not won. In fact, it has had to adapt [the neo-Darwin synthesis] in order to survive its criticisms. I’m afraid your wish that we just shut up because you’ve decided it’s settled won’t wash. The documentary Expelled! is a wonderful piece that explains what great lengths Darwinism has gone to in order to keep the issue as one-sided as possible. I mentioned one of them: your textbooks have not been updated. They still contain Haeckle’s doctored drawings. They still make assertions that scientists know are false.

    It appears you may’ve been preaching to the choir for too long, son. Come back here with your thinking cap on.

    **************************************

    Che,

    1. My point is that Darwinian speculation is always defended by yet more speculation. These guys can always imagineer their way out of the falsification box! Darwinism is therefore not practically falsifiable.

    In regards to Tiktaalik, I ask you to consider the folloowing web link: http://www.icr.org/article/2962/

    The salient points are as follows: 1. We have only an incomplete fossil skeleton. The hind end could reveal it to be either a lobed-finned fish or an amphibian. 2. Similarly, we have no idea what the soft tissue looked like, so it’s pretty much speculation that it is in fact a transitional form; in fact, it looks like it’s much more in line with another cautionary tale of failed transitional candidacy: the Coelacanth.

    Along the same vein, you mentioned earlier that you wondered why Archaeopteryx wasn’t included in one list of transitional forms. Unfortunately, that’s because there are bird fossils that predate it. It’s yet another genetic offshoot. Don’t let the teeth fool you. While modern birds do not have teeth, the fossil record has a few examples of birds with teeth. All invertbrate species have examples of species with and without teeth.

    As to the descent of the horse, there are differences of opinion. Unfortunately, changing the order about doesn’t explain why modern horse fossils are found in strata that are presumed to be co-existent and even pre-existent with their alleged ancestral forms.

    As for the giraffe neck: explain it. Go ahead. Speculate. Darwin resorted to Lamrckism because no other purely naturalistic theory would explain it. It continues to defy nontheistic explanation

    My point is that you’re supposing you will find it and then you go looking for things to support that supposition. But when you find things that go against the theory, you automatically dissemble and speculate your way out of the trap. In this regard, you are on equal terms with Creationism. Both theistic and nontheistic origins are based on weights of evidences and arguments. Neither is falsifiable by nature, being metaphysical [concerning origins] but both are reasonable faiths. I just happen to think my faith is MORE reasonable.

    2. Transitional forms are really the only evidence you have for common descent and you don’t have myriad examples; instead you have a few disputable examples.

    Genetic drift, mutation and gene flow are all pertain to how modern animals make adaptive changes within their kind. Your finches are still finches. they’re only a different kind of finch. The great leap of faith is to then speculate that these minor adaptations within species/kinds have resulted in a fishes to philosophers common descent.

    Influenza may adapt, but in doing so it loses information. It does not gain new information. Where did the raw information [DNA] come from to create greater orders and complexities of organisms? This loss of information is predicted in the degenerative Creation model [the world is fallen and crying out for rebirth, yet is sustained by God’s will [we believe natural selection is more of a preservation of the species mechanism for biology]] in that we believe Creation was finished but is now dying by degrees, if you will. In effect, we believe in descending complexity and a tendency towards disorder, which is scientifically verifiable.

    I’m afraid you’re still assuming evolution when you decide speciation [ala common descent] is occuring rather than mere adaptation of existing species.

    3. Christian creationist geologists had a faaaaaar different interpretation of these strata, so don’t try to pass the buck. The rocks are in fact dated by the index fossils, not the other way round. Radio carbon dating only works for thousands of years with any accuracy. It’s useless for the millions and billions of years that naturalists suppose these rocks must be dated at. Too, the amount of helium and the low amount of salt in the oceans speak of a younger Earth age. I could also mention the soft tissue found in fossils in Montana, the fact that a Civil War fence post was fossilized in a creek bed and that fish were fossilized in the act of eating other fish [suggesting catastrophic burial] as evidences of the recent age of the Earth.

    Oh and I’m not really into get my facts from the biased propaganda machine called talkOrigins. I say this respectfully but I have commented on their hubris before. It is their specific page on whether evolution was falsifiable that I debunked.

    –Sirius Knotts

  6. I’m leaving aside most of your last post for now… The responses are getting too long. 😀

    I’ll start responding to one point at a time, methinks. If you think any given response I give is satisfactory, then feel free to refer back to an earlier point that you’d prefer to have me address.

    As for the giraffe neck: explain it. Go ahead. Speculate. Darwin resorted to Lamrckism because no other purely naturalistic theory would explain it. It continues to defy nontheistic explanation.

    It hardly defies nontheistic explanation.

    Now, my explanation here is going to be speculative, for the very simple reason that I don’t have all the data. But that doesn’t make it any less plausible.

    The first thing people would say to justify the length of the giraffe’s neck would be that it increases the size of the giraffe’s food supply. That is a bonus, but I think that there’s more to it than that. But it is not hard to see that evolution could, in some cases, select for height.

    Another point about the giraffe’s neck is that, because of the length of the giraffe’s legs, a long neck is needed to reach water or grass. So then we need an evolutionary pressure to select for giraffes with longer legs, which would in turn create the pressure for a longer neck.

    The pressure for longer legs could be related to food supply, or it could be related to an increase in speed. Height could also be a sexual selection characteristic.

    Another thing is that giraffes headbutt one another when fighting over females, and the giraffes with longer necks are more likely to win and pass on the longer neck to their male descendants. This would be expected to be mirrored by the female species having necks that were similar to the male, but given that there would be less selection pressure for a female to have the longest neck possible then we’d expect that evolution would select for the female of the species having a shorter neck than the male – which is, in fact, the case.

    So there’s a couple of plausible evolutionary explanations for the giraffe’s neck – increased food supply, increased length of legs for running or fighting, and as a requirement for sexual selection amongst males.

    So I doubt there’s only one thing selecting for the giraffe’s neck. There’s probably a whole bunch of evolutionary factors in play, and all of these clearly have to be balanced against the costs of a long neck – time and energy spent growing it and moving extra weight around, and of course the risk of the neck being snapped.

    So once again – I accept that this is speculative. It’s my first guess, and I could be wrong. But I think these are all very plausible reasons for why a giraffe would have evolved a long neck – selecting for greater food supply, selecting for longer legs, and sexual selection.

    Sexual selection is probably the biggest one. My guess would be that the food supply and leg length thing only started out as very weak selectors for longer necks, but that once it became a factor for sexual selection it would have taken off quite dramatically. Sexual selection trumps almost anything else in evolution, even costs associated with the risk of death.

    And I accept that I could be wrong – but it’s hardly as implausable as you’re making it out to be.

  7. Sirius says:

    Do you realize you’ve just fallen back on Lamarckism?

    Even if you disagree with my assessment, you have amply demonstrated the speculative nature of Darwinism to which I refer in this post.
    Which was, of course, the reason I asked the question. I’m sorry to treat you so unfairly, but I felt the point should not only be made but demonstrated.

    –Sirius Knott

  8. Firstly, I was speaking in terms of natural selection pressures over a basis of genetic variance – this is most definitely not Lamarkism.

    And the reason why my response is speculative is because I don’t personally have the data to back this up or deny it. This doesn’t make my explanation less plausible.

    It sounds to me like you’re grasping at straws to discredit a plausible explanation.

  9. Ah! Here‘s a well-referenced example that argues the case for giraffe necks being selected on male sexual reproduction grounds. It doesn’t mention the leg thing – I might have been wrong on that one – but she does cite real evidence of the sexual behavior of male giraffes when competing for females.

    Here’s the conclusion:
    Sexual selection is a more valuable explanation for the evolution of the long neck.Behavioral analysis, courtship rituals, fossil data, and anatomical scaling all provide support for this type of evolutionary model.First, giraffe males use their necks in combat which determines hierarchy among male herds.The bull male with the longest neck gains access to estrous females and, thus, passes his “long-neck-genes” to the next generation.With geological time the giraffe species would tend to show increased neck length.Second, since mainly necks are used in necking this would give rise to asymmetric increase of the neck over other body parts which in fact is observed.Third, males have larger necks than females of the same body mass, hence there is sufficient evidence that necks are maintained by sexual selection.It can be concluded that neck elongation via sexual selection provides the strongest evidence for the evolution of the giraffe’s neck.
    The points from this conclusion are all well-referenced within the article. There’s evidence all the way.

    Hardly a speculative explanation, Sirius. Or is sound evidence-based reasoning still too speculative for your tastes?

  10. Sirius says:

    It doesn’t sound that way from where I’m sitting. It sounds more like your rehashing Darwin’s explanation, but I told you you might not agree with my assessment.

    Meanwhile, you might want to look up giraffe biology. You’ll have to explain the system of veinous and arterial valves that keep the giraffe from fainting and/or popping a blood vessel when it engages in such simple activities as running or drinking water. You’ll also have to ponder why it has the same number of neck vertebrae as most other creatures and why they’re so bloody big. Explain that little flyswatter tail and those long legs while you’re at it. Oh, and why is such a big and spatially recognizable [you’d recognize just the outline] varmint camoflaged at all?

    This is a rabbit trail.

    The reason your response is speculative is the same reason other Darwinists’ responses to the giraffe is speculative: they don’t know, but they have to find some way to fit it into Darwin’s box. They all speculate. They all guess. There’s really not much else to it.

    I’m not grasping at straws, friend. I’m pointing out the elephant in the living room. Or giraffe.

    Wanna go a couple rounds over the bombadier beetle while we’re at it?

    –Sirius Knott

  11. Conclusion to a well-researched and referenced essay I found online:

    Sexual selection is a more valuable explanation for the evolution of the long neck.Behavioral analysis, courtship rituals, fossil data, and anatomical scaling all provide support for this type of evolutionary model.First, giraffe males use their necks in combat which determines hierarchy among male herds.The bull male with the longest neck gains access to estrous females and, thus, passes his “long-neck-genes” to the next generation.With geological time the giraffe species would tend to show increased neck length.Second, since mainly necks are used in necking this would give rise to asymmetric increase of the neck over other body parts which in fact is observed.Third, males have larger necks than females of the same body mass, hence there is sufficient evidence that necks are maintained by sexual selection.It can be concluded that neck elongation via sexual selection provides the strongest evidence for the evolution of the giraffe’s neck.

    You keep coming back to the word ‘speculation’. You use it as if it means you can dismiss evolution.

    There’s a kind of speculation you can dismiss. Something for which there is no observation that could ever be made – like arguing about what clothes an intelligent lifeform in the Andromeda galaxy would wear if they wore clothes. That’s speculation.

    The argument I’ve presented took some observed facts, and tried to work out how those facts could be related. So yes – while there is a speculative part to this in terms of generating potential explanations – that doesn’t mean that those explanations can’t be plausible, or tested.

    The article I linked to does a better job than I did. It establishes the immediate observation – the length of a giraffe’s neck. Then it compares theories – selection for food, Lamarkism, and sexual selection – and settles on the inital evidence for sexual selection (giraffe males with longer necks are more likely to get mating rights than giraffe males with short necks).

    The essay then moves on to make some predictions based on the sexual selection hypothesis, and then provides the evidence that validates that hypothesis.

    Are there elements of speculation in this essay? Yes. Of course there is. All science has to have a bit of speculation in it. That’s what a hypothesis is. The difference between a hypothesis and pure speculation is that a hypothesis can be validated or invalidated by observed data. Then if that hypothesis is validated by observed evidence, then you have yourself a piece of sound scientific reasoning.

  12. Conclusion to a well-researched and referenced essay I found online:

    Sexual selection is a more valuable explanation for the evolution of the long neck.Behavioral analysis, courtship rituals, fossil data, and anatomical scaling all provide support for this type of evolutionary model.First, giraffe males use their necks in combat which determines hierarchy among male herds.The bull male with the longest neck gains access to estrous females and, thus, passes his “long-neck-genes” to the next generation.With geological time the giraffe species would tend to show increased neck length.Second, since mainly necks are used in necking this would give rise to asymmetric increase of the neck over other body parts which in fact is observed.Third, males have larger necks than females of the same body mass, hence there is sufficient evidence that necks are maintained by sexual selection.It can be concluded that neck elongation via sexual selection provides the strongest evidence for the evolution of the giraffe’s neck.

    Do a Google Search for “Edyta’s Research Paper: Evolution of the Giraffe Neck”, it should be the top link.

    Now, you keep coming back to the word ‘speculation’. You use it as if it means you can dismiss evolution.

    There is a kind of speculation you can dismiss. Something for which there is no observation that could ever be made – like arguing about what clothes an intelligent lifeform in the Andromeda galaxy would wear if they wore clothes. There is no current method where predictions of such speculation could be tested against observed evidence. That makes it speculation.

    The argument I’ve presented took some observed facts, and tried to work out how those facts could be related. So yes – while there is a speculative part to this in terms of generating potential explanations – that doesn’t mean that those explanations can’t be plausible, or tested.

    The article I linked to does a better job than I did. It establishes the immediate observation – the length of a giraffe’s neck. Then it compares theories – selection for food, Lamarkism, and sexual selection – and settles on the inital evidence for sexual selection (giraffe males with longer necks are more likely to get mating rights than giraffe males with short necks).

    The essay then moves on to make some predictions based on the sexual selection hypothesis, and then provides the evidence that validates that hypothesis.

    Are there elements of speculation in this essay? Yes. Of course there is. All science has to have a bit of speculation in it. That’s what a hypothesis is. The difference between a hypothesis and pure speculation is that a hypothesis can be validated or invalidated by observed data. Then if that hypothesis is validated by observed evidence, then you have yourself a piece of sound scientific reasoning.

    And also: What about the bombadier beetle?

  13. Sirius says:

    I keep misleading you, and for that I am sorry.

    Over and again, you prove my point: You can always explain away the anamolies with more speculation. But the cracks in Darwin’s Dyke are persistently increasing!

    The video on the bombadier beetle and these speculations on how the giraffe came about serve only to underscore my point.

    These guys only support their speculations with a few well-selected factoids and presume the truth about the unobservable past.

    A few key points:

    Speculation about how something might have occured is not the same thing as establishing that something did in fact occur that way.

    Scientific inquiry deals with things that are observable, testable and repeatable. Origins are outside the scope of scientific inquiry. Little wonder Karl Popper denied it as a valid scientific theory and called it a metaphysical research program into which scientific theories might be tested, but in itself was untestable.

    Even demonstrating that something is possible, doesn’t mean it occured that way in the past.

    This sort of science fiction speculation is why Darwin is unfalsifiable, whether you care to admit it or not.

    I also offer another reason: The nature of naturalism itself: https://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2008/06/06/why-naturalism-makes-darwin-unfalsifiable/

    –Sirius Knott

  14. This sort of science fiction speculation is why Darwin is unfalsifiable, whether you care to admit it or not.

    Err… Darwin is falsified. He has been falsified. ‘Darwinisim’ is not the same as the modern theory of evolution. ‘Darwin’s Dyke’ – as you so affectionately call it – is not the issue. Good ol’ Chuck just came up with the initial concept – that concept has come a long way since then.

    I think that you insist on constantly referring to Darwin is an inspired act of sophistry – you’re trying to make the modern theory of evolution look outdated by reffering to it’s founder. But the modern theory of evolution is very different to Darwin’s original ideas. The theory of evolution has itself evolved.

    These guys only support their speculations with a few well-selected factoids and presume the truth about the unobservable past.

    Almost.

    I’ll grant you that the bombadier beetle is pretty speculative. However, my point was not to show that that particular case happened – only that it is a plausible explanation which can be contrasted against intellgient design, and as such it is valid to be skeptical of both theories until the evidence can be evaluated for or against – in the absence of evidence for either opinion the bombadier beetle it is not, of itself, a disproof of evolution. It’s a good point that needs an answer – but without evidence to support the alternate theories, it’s not invalidating in and of itself.

    That’s not to say that it can’t invalidate evolution. It potentially could. The thing to remember here is the requirement for evidence. Regardless of what you say, there is a substantial amount of evidence for evolution, so it will take evidence contrary to evolution. STRONG evidence.

    Although I know you say otherwise, but if fossil bunnies could be found in the cambrian it really would do the trick. Maybe not for everyone, but it would work for me. If we found fossil bunnies in the cambrian – or something similar – I would have to grudgingly concede the point.

    But I digress.

    The giraffe neck, on the other hand, takes two observations – that the giraffe has an abnormally long neck, and that males giraffes mate more than females – then checks to see if any of the predictions from this can be borne out by the evidence. Now, I’m sure you’re aware of our shared human frailty in regards to the epistemological struggle. It is unreasonable to expect that every piece of evidence that ever existed will still exist today, and it is also unreasonable to expect that we have found everything that’s left.

    However, the article I referred to finds that the testable predictions that are specific to the ‘evolution of the giraffe neck by sexual-selection’ are borne out by the evidence.

    I do not mean to suggest that this proves evolution. You can’t ‘prove’ a Theory. You can only validate – or invalidate – a Theory. When a Theory is tested in a way that is potentially invalidating, and it is not invalidated, then we can say that it has been validated. Evolution is very strongly validated, and yet to be convincingly invalidated. This is how all science works.

    If you don’t consider this to be a valid approach to knowledge, then I have to wonder… You’re not a postmodernist, are you?

  15. Sirius says:

    You might want to take another look at how the scientific methoid actually works.

    –Sirius Knott

  16. atlanticslamon says:

    On strata, the strata is dated by the fossils because their are chances that the strata could be mixed. Various environmental effects such as erosion could mix the strata. Ever wondered why bones turn up on the surface sometimes?

    you can’t accurately identify strata from its contents other then fossils. Rain might have washed older strata onto newer strata for example, therefore, unless we measure it’s time by the fossils, we can’t get an accurate picture.

  17. Lenoxus says:

    “Speculation about how something might have occured is not the same thing as establishing that something did in fact occur that way.

    Scientific inquiry deals with things that are observable, testable and repeatable. Origins are outside the scope of scientific inquiry. Little wonder Karl Popper denied it as a valid scientific theory and called it a metaphysical research program into which scientific theories might be tested, but in itself was untestable.

    Even demonstrating that something is possible, doesn’t mean it occured that way in the past.”

    After reading this, I don’t care how long ago it was written, I am just dying to know why creation/design isn’t “speculative”, by this very definition. A certain quote seems especially apt here: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have such insight.”

  18. Sirius says:

    @Lenoxus:

    I didn’t realize that I hadn’t responded to this particular comment.

    Creationism isn’t speculative because we have an eyewitness: God, who gave us an innerrant revelation of what happened before we came along.

    Design isn’t the same thing as Creationism. It’s an eloquent version of Paley’s Watchmaker Argument.

    -Sirius Knott

    1. Fernando says:

      “Creationism isn’t speculative because we have an eyewitness: God, who gave us an innerrant revelation of what happened before we came along.”
      This is not a very good argument. I certainly do hope that God exists (indeed, this hope is still alive thanks to the Big Bang Theory), however, all we have of “God” right now is a book written by men, a book that has been mistranslated quite a few times (Could you please tell me if Moses parted the Red Sea, or the sea of Reeds?). I wonder if you know about Hyraxes and bunny rabbits.
      Your revelation is not so innerant.

      1. Fernando,

        You have repeated claims that have been refuted a thousand times over, so I suspect you have not investigated this subject too deeply. Every time someone has claimed that the Bible is full of errors, it has turned out to be a misunderstanding on their part. I do hope your aren’t drawing your conclusions from Bart Erhman’s reductionist books on the subject; his books are notoroius for making grand claims without considering traditional answers to such claims of error.

        To clarify our position, we believe the Bible is inerrant in the original autographs, so there are a few copyist errors, but nothing that really affects the Bible’s truth. Of course, if you really wanted to disqualify the Bible as inerrant, you’d have to account for fulfilled Bible prophecy [one of the vindications of its supernatural authorship]. I understand if you’d prefer to pick at nits rather than face dragons.

        As for the Big Bang, how does it keep the hope alive that God exists when it serves as the all-natural uncaused First Cause of the universe – a substitute for the supernatural uncaused First Cause of the universe… or did you read Stephen Hawking’s latest book? So long as believers keep trying to prop up their Biblical arguments for a supernatural creator on the all-natural Just-so story of the universe, their beliefs will always be characterized by an ever-shrinking God-of-the-gaps.

        Tony, DefGen.org

  19. Justin Tisnley says:

    Dear sir,

    I highly encourage you to go to you tube and watch “Foundational Falsehood of Creationism part 9”. You will gain a better understanding.

    Sincerely

    JET

    1. Justin,

      Thank you for linking to someone else’s argument rather than bothering to reason for yourself. You are a paragon of atheist thought.

      regards,
      SK

      1. Justin Tisnley says:

        Dear sir,

        Despite your brazen insult. I will respond. I suggested going to this source because it has a great deal to say, in oppositon, to all you have spewed out here. The video is extremely well made and illustrates a counter arguement far more effectively than i could do just sitting here writing about it. That does not mean that i cannot “reason” for myself. In fact, it is because i can reason that i am trying to put forth the best counter arguement availible. If i were to write out all of the material covered in the presentation, and why i agree with it, i would be typing all night. You sir, have used outside apologetic sources to help with your positions, such as Lee Strobels “The Case For Christ”. So, by your own rational, you cant “reason” for yourself, you must depend on outside apologetic sources to do your thinking for you.
        All i am suggesting is that you investigate this source. Just because its a video format, doesnt diminish what it is saying. I think you are unwilling to go to the sourse i sited because, maybe, just maybe, you may learn something that would challenge your beliefs.

      2. Justin,

        If you could only hear yourself. I’m not saying you cannot cite outside sources; rather I’m saying you can’t simply point to them to do your arguing for you.

        Again, I’ve read [yes, read: did you know he links a transcript to each YouTube video?] your source’s screed and I remain unimpressed. If there’s something in particular you think I might have missed, I welcome you to cite it [or quote it or however you prefer to say it] in your rebuttal, but please don’t waste my time by pointing to someone else to do your thinking for you.

        While you’re at it, please familiarize yourself with our Rules of Engagement

  20. Justin Tisnley says:

    Dear Sir,

    You seem to not be getting my point. I am not asking you to let the video argue or think for me. I am asking you to RESPOND to it. All you have stated is that you are “unimpressed”. If you are so unimpresssed, it should be no problem for you elaborate on what unimpressed you. As i stated earlier, there is far too much for me to write out here and have you respond to it. Since you want to make it difficult, i will try and make it simple as possible for you. Please respond to this one question, and please be specific with your answer. Dont just give simple rebuttels like “Im unimpressed”. Explain why you are not impressed.

    1. Having watched the video, do you still maintain that there are still absolutely “NO” transitional forms in the fossil record? If so explain.

    JET

  21. Justin Tisnley says:

    Dear Sir,

    Because you might complain allow me to amend my question.

    “Having watched the video OR read the entire transcript of Aron-ra’s “Foundational Falsehood of Creationism part 9” Do you still maintain that There are still absolutely “NO” Transitional Forms in the fossil record? If so explain.

    JET

    1. Justin,

      You seem to have missed my point [and it is my blog, so kindly pay attention this time]: I require you to make your own arguments on this site. If you have an argument to make, please make it.

      And please read the post before you object to it! I have never said there are no transitional forms in the fossils record; rather I have said that these transitional forms are only transitional IF microbes-to-man evolution is true AND that rather than the innumerable transitional forms darwin predicted for his theory we have only a handful of disputable candidates which could as well be mosaics like the playpus as true transitional forms. It may interest you to know that “There are no transitional fossils” is an argument that is listed on the Creationist List of Arguments Creationist Should No Longer Use. Of course, Aron-ra’s argument attacks that argument and since no one on this site or any major creationist organization’s site is using that argument, he’s only attacking a straw man, which makes his argument entirely irrelevant [except to folks who haven’t done their homework and really just want to believe what he has to say in the first place].

      Another reason you shouldn’t let other people do you thinking for you…

      -SK

      1. Justin Tisnley says:

        Dear sir,

        Thank you for finally answering my question. On a personal note, I said it before and I will say it again. All i wanted you to do was respond to Aron-ra’s position. By the way, looking over your “Rules of engagement” you want people to be brief with their responses and not write novels. If i were to write down an equal ammount, in prepotion to what you have written down above, on what was presented in Aron’s ra video it would have violated your own rules. Belive it or not, i have read your statement above, in its intirity and you may not realize that even though you do not directly state that there are no tranistional forms in the fossil record, you did make “Key Points” to that very effect. Such as 1.”Its based on speculation”. 2. “Its based on a presupositon”. Additionally, your attack on Richard Dawkins and Talk origins and such leads one to conclude that you object to what they are presenting as pure speculation that “ASSUMES” evolution is true. Your “Microbes to Man” presentatioin further leads a reader to assume that you dont believe in tranistional forms or if you do, you just believe in a small handfull of them. Since there are, suprisingly, opposing viewpoints to what you wrote down here i thought you may like to be aware of them. Aron-ra pointed out many sources to that effect. As for his “Strawman” you may be interested to know that if you had watched the video, not just read the transcript, he points out who these creationist are and the dishonest tactics they are using.

        The bottom line is that your paper summated with the phrase ” That is why Origins is shelved under science fiction in my personal library”. You took a position, as is your right,
        I attempted to show you the opposite end of the arguement. You dont have to agree with it. But i dont know how you could think that anybody could read this paper and not see it as anything but a pure one sided slap-down of The Transitional fossils in the fossil record.

      2. Justin,

        Regarding your efforts to expose me to the opposing argument… listen, you’ve made a rather big assumption about me by doing so. You see, I’m not some rube who has never been exposed to the opposing argument. Rather I am someone who once argued for the opposing argument and then came to see it as flawed tot he point of being unsupportbale [except through taxpayer funded indoctrination via public education].

        Regarding your demand for equal space, you are free to start your own free blog and respond to a post of mine at any length you care to. On this site, the comments section is reserved for comments not novellas. If you cannot summarize your objection [for example, by asking, “Are you saying that there are No transitional forms?], you probably haven’t given my argument [or your own reasons for objecting to it] enough thought yet.

        You also seem to be unfamiliar with the term “strawman argument.” A straw man argument is made when someone attacks a caricature or their idea of an opponent’s argument and refutes that argument rather than their opponent’s true argument. It can occur whether the opponent is named or not. Aron-ra is guilty of refuting a`straw man argument because creationists now argue that rather than the numerous transitional forms Darwin predicted for his theory we have only a handful of disputable candidates rather than arguing that there are no transitional forms. We have re-phrased our argument not because we believe there are true transitional forms but rather because we acknowledge that the evolutionists do have candidates for transitional forms. Nevertheless the point of my post stands: these disputable candidates cannot be used as evidence for microbes-to-man evolution without first assuming that microbes-to-man evolution has occurred.

        -SK

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