Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Forms?

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.

Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Forms?

Postby RickD » Fri Oct 18, 2013 3:06 pm

Transitional forms. Evidence for evolution, or mosaic design?
Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Forms?"
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes.

-Jack Handey


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony
User avatar
RickD
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 7977
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:59 am
Location: N.E. Florida

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby hughfarey » Sun Oct 20, 2013 12:52 pm

Off we go again. Having attempted to demonstrate unsuccessfully that evolution and belief in God are incompatible, we are now going to try to find fault with the Science. Once again, we begin with a sweeping statement that cannot be allowed to go unmodified. “Many evolutionary biologists argue that there’s overwhelming evidence for macro-evolution, and that evidence comes primarily from the fossil record.” The fossil record is extremely important, but I think I would say that today the principal evidence for evolution comes from DNA analysis of living things. Be that as it may, we are then told that “the fossil record does not look like we would expect it to look. If evolution indeed accounts for the history of life on earth we would expect to see a gradual evolutionary history unfolding in the fossil record, with an innumerable number of transitional forms documenting the transformation of one major group into another major group.” If only that were true, but it’s not, as the most basic understanding of fossils will demonstrate.
1) Generally, a fossil is formed by the gradual replacement of biological tissue with mineral, in such a way as to preserve the form of the original tissue. The proportion of organisms to which that may happen is necessarily vanishingly small; most dead organsims are eaten, scattered, or biologically decomposed before any such process has a chance to occur.
2) What’s more, the kind of organism is an important factor. Those parts of an organism most likely to survive long enough for fossilization to occur are the hardest, least decomposable parts. Organisms with no hard parts are most unlikely to be fossilised.
3) Also, since the replacement of tissue by mineral is almost invariably an aqueous process, aquatic organisms are likely to be favoured, and finally,
4) The further back in time we go, the less likely it is that the strata within which the fossils form are likely to have remained intact.
With all that in mind, evolutionists certainly do not "expect to see a gradual evolutionary history unfolding in the fossil record."

Bearing all this in mind, let’s move on with the lecture. “What we see, when we look at the fossil record, is an absence of transitional forms.” How true this is will depend on your defintion of a transitional form, of course.

And also who you ask. Would it be better to ask a modern palaeolontologist, with some two hundred years of directed exploration and increasingly sophisticated tools at his disposal, or someone from 150 years ago, making the best of the random collection then found in various museums and laboratories? Our lecturer, of course, plumps straight for the old man.

Nevertheless, there is a point here. Even allowing for the varation in fossilisation conditions outlined above, some fossil organisms appear to be represented in a much smaller quantity than others, which appears to indicate that there really were far fewer of these kinds of organisms alive on the planet. Forty years ago and longer, the prevailing view was that evolution was a continuous process of gradual change, stimulated by changing environments and effected by genetic mutation, and it is true that this was not borne out by the fossil record. Niles Eldredge and Stephen J. Gould argued that since evolutionary change reflected environmental change, then rates of change in the environment would be reflected in the fossil record. There may also be genetic bottlenecks, whereby a useful evolutionary change could only start once a particular genetic variation occurred, which it might not, for a very long time. Together Eldredge and Gould formulated the theory of punctuated equilibrium, whereby organisms tend to remain stabe for long periods of time, evolving relatively suddenly as conditions became appropriate. As organisms evolved to take advantage of the new possibilities to their best, there really were fewer organisms along the transitional path, which is why they appear so much less frequently in the fossil record.

Our lecturer quotes a passage from Gould reflecting these views as if Gould was denying the existence of transitional forms at all, and perhaps even evolution, which is nonsense. In saying that “the fossil record does not support the evolutinary paradigm” he is at least forty years out of date. The fossil record supports fairly rapid transition (we’re talking in millions of years, of course) between the occupation of one ecological niche and another.

Our lecturer chooses to focus on the evolution of tetrapods, and thus the appearance of a whole new class of vertebrates - and the evolution of whales, a whole new order of mammals. He does not deny the existence of a number of apparently transitional fossils, which is curious in the light of the earlier section of the lecture, but claims that ten million years is not enough time for such a transition to have happened. Why he should think so is not explained.

He next misunderstands the nature of evolution, and that of the fossil record, by claiming that all the intermediate forms ought to form a continuous evolutionary sequence from one to the other, as if a single species of fish might gradually have evolved, all by itself, into a single species of amphibian. It seems that several different species of lobe-finned fish diversified into a number of new species more or less capable of surviving periodic drought. In some parts of the world, notably those areas that were to become Greenland and Canada, some of these lobe-fins strengthened into limbs capable of dragging themselves around in various conditions of mud, and eventually one or more emerged as fully fledged amphibians. In the area that was to become Poland, some ten million years previously, it appears that a similar urge onto the land resulted in limbs made from stiffened fin rather than bone, as some “walking fish” footprints have been found from that area dated about 400 million years old. It is not obvious that they evolved any further, however, as the earliest true amphibians we have seem to come from America. Overall this means that from, say, 415 to 375 million years ago, there were small numbers of dozens of different species of transitional fishapods, all more or less evolved to cope with the littoral environment, of which a few finally emerged as our ancestors. The random selection of fossils that we have found of these creatures illustrates beautifully the possible sequence of adaptations which led to amphibians, without any one of them necessarily representing the sequence which actually did. They may all be cousins rather than ancestors, which accounts for the fact that, as they all evolved at different rates, they cannot be placed in the neat evolutionary line illustrated on the video.

Exactly the same sort of thing occurs with whale fossils, and with hominid ones, for that matter. Changing circumstances result in a number of contemporary transitional forms, one of which represents the ancestral line to the modern form, while the others became extinct. The ones we actually dig up may or may not come from our own ancestral line, and may or may not show the evolution of exactly the same forms in exactly the same way at exactly the same time.

There is a poverty of creative thinking in our lecturer’s next point. “I would argue that these are well designed organisms, perfectly suited to live at the water’s edge, and I would view them as creatures that were created by God, that existed in this environment and later disappeared, and that whales were created through God’s direct intervention, as were the first vertebrates on the land, the first tetrapods.” In other words over the course of ten million years God allowed dozens of separate species to evolve that were almost amphibians, or almost tetrapods, and then destroyed them, leaving only their fossils, popping in the replacement organisms as fully formed land or water creatures. Doesn’t that sound feeble compared to the evolutionary theory? It does to me.
hughfarey
Established Member
 
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:58 am

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby ryanbouma » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:27 am

hughfarey wrote:1) Generally, a fossil is formed by the gradual replacement of biological tissue with mineral, in such a way as to preserve the form of the original tissue. The proportion of organisms to which that may happen is necessarily vanishingly small; most dead organsims are eaten, scattered, or biologically decomposed before any such process has a chance to occur.
2) What’s more, the kind of organism is an important factor. Those parts of an organism most likely to survive long enough for fossilization to occur are the hardest, least decomposable parts. Organisms with no hard parts are most unlikely to be fossilised.
3) Also, since the replacement of tissue by mineral is almost invariably an aqueous process, aquatic organisms are likely to be favoured, and finally,
4) The further back in time we go, the less likely it is that the strata within which the fossils form are likely to have remained intact.
With all that in mind, evolutionists certainly do not "expect to see a gradual evolutionary history unfolding in the fossil record."


Actually, we do expect to see gradual change based on those 4 points. Nothing there says were should see puntuated equilibrium.

hughfarey wrote:
Nevertheless, there is a point here. Even allowing for the varation in fossilisation conditions outlined above, some fossil organisms appear to be represented in a much smaller quantity than others, which appears to indicate that there really were far fewer of these kinds of organisms alive on the planet. Forty years ago and longer, the prevailing view was that evolution was a continuous process of gradual change, stimulated by changing environments and effected by genetic mutation, and it is true that this was not borne out by the fossil record. Niles Eldredge and Stephen J. Gould argued that since evolutionary change reflected environmental change, then rates of change in the environment would be reflected in the fossil record. There may also be genetic bottlenecks, whereby a useful evolutionary change could only start once a particular genetic variation occurred, which it might not, for a very long time. Together Eldredge and Gould formulated the theory of punctuated equilibrium, whereby organisms tend to remain stabe for long periods of time, evolving relatively suddenly as conditions became appropriate. As organisms evolved to take advantage of the new possibilities to their best, there really were fewer organisms along the transitional path, which is why they appear so much less frequently in the fossil record.


This is more convincing of punctuated equilibrium. Although I remain unconvinced. And considering Gould thought a panda's thumb was bad design, I have a hard time taking him seriously. He had it out for ID'ers.

hughfarey wrote:
Our lecturer chooses to focus on the evolution of tetrapods, and thus the appearance of a whole new class of vertebrates - and the evolution of whales, a whole new order of mammals. He does not deny the existence of a number of apparently transitional fossils, which is curious in the light of the earlier section of the lecture, but claims that ten million years is not enough time for such a transition to have happened. Why he should think so is not explained.

He next misunderstands the nature of evolution, and that of the fossil record, by claiming that all the intermediate forms ought to form a continuous evolutionary sequence from one to the other, as if a single species of fish might gradually have evolved, all by itself, into a single species of amphibian. It seems that several different species of lobe-finned fish diversified into a number of new species more or less capable of surviving periodic drought. In some parts of the world, notably those areas that were to become Greenland and Canada, some of these lobe-fins strengthened into limbs capable of dragging themselves around in various conditions of mud, and eventually one or more emerged as fully fledged amphibians. In the area that was to become Poland, some ten million years previously, it appears that a similar urge onto the land resulted in limbs made from stiffened fin rather than bone, as some “walking fish” footprints have been found from that area dated about 400 million years old. It is not obvious that they evolved any further, however, as the earliest true amphibians we have seem to come from America. Overall this means that from, say, 415 to 375 million years ago, there were small numbers of dozens of different species of transitional fishapods, all more or less evolved to cope with the littoral environment, of which a few finally emerged as our ancestors. The random selection of fossils that we have found of these creatures illustrates beautifully the possible sequence of adaptations which led to amphibians, without any one of them necessarily representing the sequence which actually did. They may all be cousins rather than ancestors, which accounts for the fact that, as they all evolved at different rates, they cannot be placed in the neat evolutionary line illustrated on the video.



Ah yes, it's just that easy isn't it. http://www.uncommondescent.com/intellig ... antartica/

hughfarey wrote: In other words over the course of ten million years God allowed dozens of separate species to evolve that were almost amphibians, or almost tetrapods, and then destroyed them, leaving only their fossils, popping in the replacement organisms as fully formed land or water creatures. Doesn’t that sound feeble compared to the evolutionary theory? It does to me.


I'm not sure I would paraphrase it quite like that, but it doesn't sound feeble to me anyways. Every creature on the planet has died or will die. What's the big deal about death. So God made some animals because they suited the environment at the time, or because they were necessary, or because they were beautiful and he can... and then he let them go there way and die out. He let them die out in the evolutionary context too.
ryanbouma
Established Member
 
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:18 pm
Location: Ladysmith, British Columbia

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby PaulSacramento » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:54 am

IMO, evolution is a far greater testament to God than "creation as is".
Why?
With evolution we have God creating a universe from nothing and giving that universe the ability to adapt and overcome, the ability to evolve.
Let that sink in.
What will WE become?
Paul said that we would become "like the angels".
Not to put words in Paul's mouth, but what a "jump in evolution" that will be.

That God created life with the ability to adapt, to overcome, to use random mutations to its best interest, to produce new and glorious variety of species ( yes, even "bad" species), to me is nothing short of miraculous.
PaulSacramento
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 4045
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:29 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby RickD » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:35 am

PaulS wrote:
IMO, evolution is a far greater testament to God than "creation as is".
Why?
With evolution we have God creating a universe from nothing and giving that universe the ability to adapt and overcome, the ability to evolve.

The same ability is given in special creation. Creationists believe life can adapt and evolve too.

What will WE become?
Paul said that we would become "like the angels".
Not to put words in Paul's mouth, but what a "jump in evolution" that will be.

Luke 20:36
for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.

And Mark 12:25
"For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Paul, in one context, people become like angels because of the resurrection.

In the other context, people become like angels because they don't marry one another any more. Also after the resurrection.

God will give believers an incorruptible body. People aren't evolving into angel-like creatures.

You are making it sound "new age".

That God created life with the ability to adapt, to overcome, to use random mutations to its best interest, to produce new and glorious variety of species ( yes, even "bad" species), to me is nothing short of miraculous.

That's fine Paul. Nobody is saying you can't believe that. But you do realize it is a belief, not a fact, don't you?
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes.

-Jack Handey


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony
User avatar
RickD
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 7977
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:59 am
Location: N.E. Florida

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby PaulSacramento » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:06 pm

I certainly didn't mean to make it sound new age, YIKES !!!
I simply meant that our bodies becoming like the angels can be viewed as a form of evolution and YES, it ( that God created life with the ability to evolve) is 100% a belief and not a fact.
PaulSacramento
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 4045
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:29 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby RickD » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:20 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:I certainly didn't mean to make it sound new age, YIKES !!!
I simply meant that our bodies becoming like the angels can be viewed as a form of evolution and YES, it ( that God created life with the ability to evolve) is 100% a belief and not a fact.

But Paul, even TE's believe God set Evolution in motion, and it was on its own from there. That's one reason why TEs that actually do believe in a literal Adam, have to believe Adam was made human from a preexisting hominid. Because if Adam was created specially, that wouldn't be evolution. It would be Creation.

Calling a believer's resurrection, (because Christ died and was resurrected as a direct supernatural act of God), a form of evolution, is not really evolution, is it? Isn't that a direct, miraculous intervention of God? Unless of course you believe all humans evolve into angel like beings when they die? Then you'd have a whole set of new problems with Universalism. :lol:
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes.

-Jack Handey


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony
User avatar
RickD
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 7977
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:59 am
Location: N.E. Florida

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby hughfarey » Mon Oct 21, 2013 4:17 pm

RickD wrote:Even TE's believe God set Evolution in motion, and it was on its own from there.
Certainly not. On its own? While God went off for a cup of coffee? I think not. Without God's direct, intimate involvement with every quantum twitch of the universe it wouldn't work at all, and might well vanish instantly into the nothing from which it came.
hughfarey
Established Member
 
Posts: 109
Joined: Mon Jun 03, 2013 2:58 am

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby Gman » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:39 pm

hughfarey wrote:Off we go again. Having attempted to demonstrate unsuccessfully that evolution and belief in God are incompatible, we are now going to try to find fault with the Science.


There is nothing wrong with demonstrating G-d with evolution. The problem however is when it is only conveyed via naturalism or only naturalistic beliefs. That is, that all there is is only "matter" and nothing else.
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8
User avatar
Gman
Old School
 
Posts: 6081
Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 10:36 pm
Location: Northern California

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby PaulSacramento » Tue Oct 22, 2013 5:00 am

RickD wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:I certainly didn't mean to make it sound new age, YIKES !!!
I simply meant that our bodies becoming like the angels can be viewed as a form of evolution and YES, it ( that God created life with the ability to evolve) is 100% a belief and not a fact.

But Paul, even TE's believe God set Evolution in motion, and it was on its own from there. That's one reason why TEs that actually do believe in a literal Adam, have to believe Adam was made human from a preexisting hominid. Because if Adam was created specially, that wouldn't be evolution. It would be Creation.

Calling a believer's resurrection, (because Christ died and was resurrected as a direct supernatural act of God), a form of evolution, is not really evolution, is it? Isn't that a direct, miraculous intervention of God? Unless of course you believe all humans evolve into angel like beings when they die? Then you'd have a whole set of new problems with Universalism. :lol:


Actually, I don't think that TE believe that God "set it in motion then went off to get a coffee" ;)
That the process of evolution was instilled in all life forms so that they CAN adapt AND survive is what I believe and that God is STILL guiding that process in HIS WAY, is what I and most TE believe as well.
PaulSacramento
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 4045
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:29 pm
Location: Ontario, Canada

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby Morny » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:30 pm

RickD wrote:Transitional forms. Evidence for evolution, or mosaic design?
Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Forms?"


god_science_dolphin_evolve.jpg
god_science_dolphin_evolve.jpg (64.24 KiB) Viewed 709 times


The picture shows just a few time-ordered fossil transitions from terrestrial mammals to dolphins. Scientists do not say such fossil data, by itself, "proves" evolution, but do say this evidence is at least consistent with dolphin evolution.

You would say the same thing. Yes?

Note: I'm not asking for an agreement to the encyclopedic entirety of evolution. I'm asking for a weighing of just this specific evidence regarding dolphin evolution.
Morny
Recognized Member
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:05 pm

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby RickD » Tue Oct 22, 2013 3:04 pm

Hi Morny,

I can't give you an educated answer to your question. Sorry, I just don't know enough about dolphin evolution to answer your question.

And, welcome to the board! :wave:
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have his shoes.

-Jack Handey


St. Richard the Sarcastic--The Patron Saint of Irony
User avatar
RickD
Board Moderator
 
Posts: 7977
Joined: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:59 am
Location: N.E. Florida

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby Morny » Tue Oct 22, 2013 8:25 pm

RickD wrote:Hi Morny,

I can't give you an educated answer to your question. Sorry, I just don't know enough about dolphin evolution to answer your question.


An education of dolphin evolution isn't necessary. Just for the moment, assume that the shown skulls, corresponding ages (in MYA), and text are correct.

Between the wolf-like skull at the top and the dolphin skull at the bottom, do the other skulls look consistent with time-ordered and morphology-ordered intermediates?
Morny
Recognized Member
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:05 pm

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby ryanbouma » Wed Oct 23, 2013 12:39 pm

Sort of, but not really. Especially the last one. I suppose if I thought evolution was the only explanation I'd force the connection. But I bet I could muster up a bunch of skulls from all kinds of animals and make the same chart. I'm like Rick though, my biology background is pretty poor.
ryanbouma
Established Member
 
Posts: 140
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 4:18 pm
Location: Ladysmith, British Columbia

Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

Postby Morny » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:53 am

ryanbouma wrote:Sort of, but not really. Especially the last one.

What evidence from the picture are you basing your observation on?

The last one (I assume you mean squalodontidae) is intermediate in time. The last one is also intermediate with respect to several progressions: the nostril moving toward the top of the head, the thinning of the cheekbone, and the extent of the peg-like teeth.

ryanbouma wrote:I suppose if I thought evolution was the only explanation I'd force the connection.

I believe you, but we're weighing just this picture's evidence here.

ryanbouma wrote:But I bet I could muster up a bunch of skulls from all kinds of animals and make the same chart.

Please do! Your example will be instructive. Be sure to clearly state the claim that your skull evidence supports.

ryanbouma wrote:I'm like Rick though, my biology background is pretty poor.

Again, a biology background is unnecessary. My original question has to surely be one of the simplest evolution questions discussed on this forum. Why aren't posters in the other forum topics claiming such a lack of background on much more complex scientific questions?

Is even tentatively acknowledging the consistency of those dolphin intermediates with evolution from a wolf-like ancestor too slippery of a slope?
Morny
Recognized Member
 
Posts: 79
Joined: Sun Oct 06, 2013 8:05 pm

Next

Return to God and Science

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest