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

#16

Post by RickD » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:39 pm

Morny wrote:
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?

The question is only valid if you ask someone who believes in dolphin evolution.

Since I don't have any idea if that chart is consistent with what is believed about dolphin evolution, I can't answer your question.
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#17

Post by Morny » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:36 am

RickD wrote:
Morny wrote:
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?
The question is only valid if you ask someone who believes in dolphin evolution.
How does judging evidence about a theory require belief in the theory?
RickD wrote:Since I don't have any idea if that chart is consistent with what is believed about dolphin evolution, I can't answer your question.
You only need to know that dolphin evolution says that a 50 million year old wolf-life mammal is the ancestor of dolphins. For obvious reasons creationists and evolutionists alike rightly and regularly ask for intermediate fossils. Are these time-ordered fossils reasonable intermediates supporting the proposed ancestry?

What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?

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

#18

Post by RickD » Fri Oct 25, 2013 11:56 am

You only need to know that dolphin evolution says that a 50 million year old wolf-life mammal is the ancestor of dolphins. For obvious reasons creationists and evolutionists alike rightly and regularly ask for intermediate fossils. Are these time-ordered fossils reasonable intermediates supporting the proposed ancestry?
Again, I have no idea. I don't know anything about what is proposed in the dolphin evolution theory.
What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
I'm sure it could be. Especially if the theory is based upon the "fossils" in the movie.

If I show you the six Star Wars movies in order of 1 to 6, would that series of movies be consistent with George Lucas' Star Wars story?
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#19

Post by jlay » Fri Oct 25, 2013 1:02 pm

Morny wrote: What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
Wow? You have a transitional quadraped mammal, with a fully formed fluke? Please, do share
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#20

Post by pat34lee » Fri Oct 25, 2013 9:38 pm

Morny wrote:How does judging evidence about a theory require belief in the theory?
You have to take many things on faith when you view fossils as evidence for evolution. First, they rarely find a complete, or nearly complete skeleton. Mistakes and forgeries have been made using a few bones and a lot of imagination to make a whole creature.So you have to believe that a fossil is what they say it is. Second, you have to believe that the further down you dig, the older the rock layer. You have to believe that dating methods, from radiometric to using index fossils are correct. You have to believe that similarity between creatures indicates a genetic relation between them. There are more, but you get the idea.
Morny wrote:What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
[/quote]

As pointed out in the first paragraph, how do you know that the fossils are related, much less which order they would go in?

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

#21

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:26 am

I'm kind of thinking that the question asking for "transitional" forms is perhaps unfair to those who believe in evolution.

It is not something that can be resolved through looking at similar structures and characteristics alone. There needs to be an objective, unambiguous method for identifying which similarities truly are homologies rather than analogies.

For example, consider that there are many similar structures and characteristics which are attributed to convergent evolution such as bird and bat wings (considered to be analogous).

So why is the question unfair? Well, it's kind of the creationist just playing cat and mouse normally with a non-biologist, someone who has likely just been taught evolution at school and believes it. So they get their biology book out, and turn to the homology section and point to it saying "there's your evidence." And then it usually isn't enough for the person it gets presented to....

Trust me Morny, if the person who doesn't believe in evolution was serious, they'd research some phylogenetic trees many evolutionary biologists have painstakingly tried to put together. Sadly, many are formed through identifying similar structure and characteristics and their placement in time. This is quite subjective, hence perhaps possibly even why you felt the need to ask others here whether they see the transitions in your dolphin example? If they don't, well you will either get frustrated, think they're blind, playing unfair or if you are in a good mood maybe source another example... and so the cat and mouse game continues. But, I'm saying it's ultimately a pointless exercise because a whole lot more is needed to prove they are indeed transitional than similarity.

Sadly, I'm not sure there is an objective way to prove homologies over and above analogies. One needs a lot of data, to examine it and come to their best conclusion. Knowing when one species existing in time compared to another can help. DNA could also help matters... changes and revisions are happening all the time as scientists explore and account for more and more.

Furthermore, the embedded philosophical assumptions rule out other possible explanations such as "similar design" scenarios.

I'm not sure if you pay much attention to the design side of things, but many who believe in creation will accept similarities as evidence of one "Designer". Some will simply say its just similar design, while others posit the designer making use of biological "templates" found in distinct life forms. For example, consider that in Genesis, Eve was created brand new by God from "Adam's side". They were created similar, yet different, and to complement each other side-by-side throughout life. Could it be... that God used a similar process in the fashioning of distinct animal species? There is some precedence. Scripture doesn't say though. But I can visualise God quite masterfully working with and shaping DNA, genes and what-not much like a creative potter who enjoys molding clay into all sorts of fantastic shapes.

In any case, a bad argument many who believe in evolution make, is if God existed then God wouldn't have created that way... or would have created more diverse creatures... or what not. In any case, much of evidence claimed to support Natural Evolution over and against Creation, is in fact accountable within both.

As a Christian, and someone who very much believes in God's creative act, what I love about phylogenetics is can help us to reconstruct how God created... how intimate two species are, what parts of them may have been shared. And no, this isn't evolution any more than God creating Eve from Adam's side... rather God would still be very much performing a new creation, yet in a more intimate manner tying all life together. As a great potter of life, why not?

And so... "What about transitional forms?" I wouldn't have the foggiest how to approach that from the side of evolution. What is the purpose of the question? Does it really matter?

I think it's actually normally used in a rhetorical way by many who believe in creation to make some point.
Last edited by Kurieuo on Sat Oct 26, 2013 7:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#22

Post by Kurieuo » Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:56 am

I just listened to the video of Fuz.

After doing his spoon -> spork -> fork example on homologies in phylogenetics, he states that his final point is this:
Many of the features that we see in the fossil record that are interpreted from a evolutionary perspective, find ready interpretation within a creation model viewpoint.
So seems, I'm not far wrong that the question is in fact rhetorical. The person who believes in creation that asks it, and yet understands this point, is just playing games. Trust it to be RickD. ;)
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#23

Post by Morny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:07 am

Kurieuo wrote:I'm kind of thinking that ...
An excellent post covering the issues, and worthy of a re-read.

Clarifying just a couple points relating to my post ...
Kurieuo wrote:There needs to be an objective, unambiguous method for identifying which similarities truly are homologies rather than analogies.
Yes! Alas, such an "unambiguous method" does not exist in science.
Kurieuo wrote:But, I'm saying it's ultimately a pointless exercise because a whole lot more is needed to prove they are indeed transitional than similarity.
Again, yes. But unfortunately science (via the scientific method) cannot "prove" anything. Anyone waiting for science to prove evolution is going to be disappointed (or here, maybe I should say "happy").

So what good is science?! By accumulating multiple independent lines of supporting evidence, science can only give us increasing levels of confidence in a theory.

My original post showed just one small and very specific piece of evidence, that so far is unacknowledged, maybe as you say, because of confusion about mere supporting evidence vs. definitive statements about proof or theory confirmation.
Kurieuo wrote:Furthermore, the embedded philosophical assumptions rule out other possible explanations such as "similar design" scenarios. ...
Nothing I can say here will change opinions in the slightest, but I have to say this anyway ... science lives by methodological naturalism, not philosophical naturalism. Methodological naturalism is only a provisional assumption that the scientific method is the best approach we currently have. And the hyper-spectacular success of the last 400+ hundred years has justifiably raised confidence in that assumption.

I live with methodological naturalism's annoying practicality. But I love "design" explanations, because science is so much easier when finding inconsistent/invalidating evidence is so much harder. Confirming one rabbit fossil in the pre-Cambrian destroys current evolutionary theory. With "design"? No problem.

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

#24

Post by Morny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:12 am

pat34lee wrote:
Morny wrote:How does judging evidence about a theory require belief in the theory?
You have to take many things on faith when you view fossils as evidence for evolution. First, they rarely find a complete, or nearly complete skeleton. Mistakes and forgeries have been made using a few bones and a lot of imagination to make a whole creature.So you have to believe that a fossil is what they say it is. Second, you have to believe that the further down you dig, the older the rock layer. You have to believe that dating methods, from radiometric to using index fossils are correct. You have to believe that similarity between creatures indicates a genetic relation between them. There are more, but you get the idea.
I'm old and not that smart. I need to start simple, and then shuffle my mental walker forward slowly. First we need a common starting point.

Assume the fossils are accurate and have the given dates. Is that fossil evidence, by itself, reasonable evidence of intermediates between a 50 million year old wolf-like mammal and a dolphin? After that, we can move on to your more complicated questions/issues.
pat34lee wrote:
Morny wrote:What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
As pointed out in the first paragraph, how do you know that the fossils are related, much less which order they would go in?
I'm not telling you the fossils are related, I'm asking you. Base your judgment just on what is in the picture. The ages (in MYA, millions of years ago) appear next to each fossil.

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

#25

Post by Morny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:15 am

jlay wrote:
Morny wrote: What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
Wow? You have a transitional quadraped mammal, with a fully formed fluke? Please, do share
Focus please. To keep the discussion simple for now, we're only talking about evidence supporting skull fossil intermediates. Is the shown fossil evidence, by itself, reasonable evidence of intermediates between a 50 million year old wolf-like mammal and a dolphin? Later we can talk about your tail lobe (fluke) issues.

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

#26

Post by Morny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:18 am

Morny wrote:
RickD wrote:
Morny wrote:
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?
The question is only valid if you ask someone who believes in dolphin evolution.
How does judging evidence about a theory require belief in the theory?
Does my question have an answer? Or did you mis-speak?

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

#27

Post by Morny » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:22 am

RickD wrote:
You only need to know that dolphin evolution says that a 50 million year old wolf-life mammal is the ancestor of dolphins. For obvious reasons creationists and evolutionists alike rightly and regularly ask for intermediate fossils. Are these time-ordered fossils reasonable intermediates supporting the proposed ancestry?
Again, I have no idea. I don't know anything about what is proposed in the dolphin evolution theory.
You do know something about dolphin evolution theory. Re-read my 1st sentence that you quoted here. Then ask yourself whether the shown fossil evidence is, by itself, reasonable evidence of intermediates between a 50 million year old wolf-like mammal and a dolphin.
RickD wrote:
What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
I'm sure it could be. Especially if the theory is based upon the "fossils" in the movie.

If I show you the six Star Wars movies in order of 1 to 6, would that series of movies be consistent with George Lucas' Star Wars story?
Assuming a non-rhetorical question, If by "order of 1 to 6" you mean "in order of Episode I thru VI", then obviously yes, just like the assumed-valid fossils in the original picture are reasonable intermediates consistent with a wolf-like mammal transition to a dolphin.

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

#28

Post by RickD » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:33 am

Morny wrote:
Morny wrote:
RickD wrote:
Morny wrote:
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?
The question is only valid if you ask someone who believes in dolphin evolution.
How does judging evidence about a theory require belief in the theory?
Does my question have an answer? Or did you mis-speak?
It doesn't require a belief in the theory, but it requires an understanding of the theory.
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Re: Through the Lens: Evolution, "What About Transitional Fo

#29

Post by RickD » Sun Oct 27, 2013 10:34 am

Morny wrote:
RickD wrote:
You only need to know that dolphin evolution says that a 50 million year old wolf-life mammal is the ancestor of dolphins. For obvious reasons creationists and evolutionists alike rightly and regularly ask for intermediate fossils. Are these time-ordered fossils reasonable intermediates supporting the proposed ancestry?
Again, I have no idea. I don't know anything about what is proposed in the dolphin evolution theory.
You do know something about dolphin evolution theory. Re-read my 1st sentence that you quoted here. Then ask yourself whether the shown fossil evidence is, by itself, reasonable evidence of intermediates between a 50 million year old wolf-like mammal and a dolphin.
RickD wrote:
What if I show you 20 date-ordered fossils, which form a "movie" morphing a wolf-life mammal into a dolphin. Would those fossils be consistent with the proposed dolphin ancestry?
I'm sure it could be. Especially if the theory is based upon the "fossils" in the movie.

If I show you the six Star Wars movies in order of 1 to 6, would that series of movies be consistent with George Lucas' Star Wars story?
Assuming a non-rhetorical question, If by "order of 1 to 6" you mean "in order of Episode I thru VI", then obviously yes, just like the assumed-valid fossils in the original picture are reasonable intermediates consistent with a wolf-like mammal transition to a dolphin.
It was rhetorical.
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24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

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

#30

Post by pat34lee » Sun Oct 27, 2013 7:40 pm

Morny wrote:I'm old and not that smart. I need to start simple, and then shuffle my mental walker forward slowly. First we need a common starting point.

Assume the fossils are accurate and have the given dates. Is that fossil evidence, by itself, reasonable evidence of intermediates between a 50 million year old wolf-like mammal and a dolphin? After that, we can move on to your more complicated questions/issues.
This is another sticking point. To have a 50 million y/o fossil, you would need 50 million years of history, which is another assumption. The only common point we could start at is a fossilized bone is found. Identification of the bone would be next. In most cases, that is not a problem IF enough of the skeleton is found, or it is an easily identified animal bone.
Morny wrote:I'm not telling you the fossils are related, I'm asking you. Base your judgment just on what is in the picture. The ages (in MYA, millions of years ago) appear next to each fossil.
Even if all the assumptions about the age of these were true, we have no evidence that any of the fossils are related directly to each other. The last two are the most likely to be from the same kind of animal. The first is most likely not related at all, and #s 2 and 3 may be from similar but unrelated animals.

You may remember the horse evolution chart that used to be in all the school science books. Did you know those charts were faked, like the embryo charts that were also used extensively? And both have continued to be used despite knowing they were wrong for many years now. See the following on the two:
http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/horse.html
http://www.discovery.org/a/3935

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