Ben Stein - Expelled movie

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: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#46

Post by David Blacklock » Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:36 pm

Thanx for the reply, Bart. I appreciate your candid admission of your reservations about ID. You're still harping on scientists, however, :sleep: , and you needn't. I totally agree with you. As far as I know, they're mostly human. I'm not swayed by any evidence that describes how illogically people act - I expect them to act out. How badly proponents or dissentors act doesn't speak to the truth or lack thereof about any subject. I also don't know of any issue where people line up on opposite sides when at least some of them DON'T resort to obnoxious methods. Our politicians certainly did, starting right in with Jefferson and Madison. I agree with KMart that evolution is viewed as a dangerous concept by some believers, but I don't think its necessary that it be viewed that way.

Behe indeed has some things to say and I read all of his first book. I picked it up in a used book store about 5 years ago. I was not well-informed about the issue at that time and was impressed with his biochemistry, which is most of the first half of the book as I recall. However, I immediately recognized a problem when he got to irreducible complexity. I've read a lot of science and I have never seen a scientist approach a problem by pronouncing it "too complex to figure out." From the point of view of science, there IS no problem that is too hard to figure out. Probably it's not going to be that first guy, but scientists generally think most problems will be figured out, when the right guys happen to luck their way into the answer, or when new technology shows the way. At the same time most of them seem to think there are some things we'll never figure out - but any particular problem is not one of those we won't figure out (if that makes sense). We don't know what we'll be able to figure out and what we won't. There will always be things not understood, but they're not, in the eyes of science, irreducibly complex.

Anyway, I think most of the exchanges about ID/evolution are about things other than the issue. I'm pretty sure Behe's aware that his flagellum theory has been disproven many times over. Maybe by this time, he's too dug in and has too many people depending on him to change his stance. The issue to the DI might be, "how do we get high school science class to quit teaching evolution without letting on that's all we're interested in." The issue to me is whether or not it's basically true. After careful study, I have found it to be, overall, very convincing. I'm not going to fight much about the details, which are just that, details - usually too complicated for anyone but a practicing scientist in that field to understand. There is plenty of room for other opinions and that's OK. As Churchill said, "Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed."

Thanx for listening, Bart,

DB

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#47

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:15 pm

1. Q: Am I assuming that searching for an unintelligent cause is right, etc. A: right or wrong, science only searches for natural causes and my description of how science proceeds is very standard in the field and not mine. I wish I could take credit for it.
I could be verbose, but one thing: Some Darwinists (Crick I believe) have advocated the belief that life was seeded onto earth by aliens. (Panspora I believe). I guess I should have said it the first time, but ID isn't concerned about the character of the designer, its interested in whether there is evidence of design. So since ID could care less whether aliens or God did it, there is no reason to go supernatural with ID, and so it can even fit into a materialist conception of science.
Q: isn't it possible that the reason Michael Behe wrote The Edge of Evolution because he was curious, etc? A: Can't speak for Behe and others, but if they are not curious in a manner that includes conventional scientific investigation, they don't belong in science class, which is the real issue here.


No it is not the real issue (it's a strawman), ID advocates don't want ID taught in the classroom, they want evolution taught properly, with the pros as well as cons (minus false information, an example being what Icons of Evolution is all about) , and they want religion used to promote Darwinism out. Case in point:
http://www.idthefuture.com/2008/02/pros ... s_god.html
How is it that people like Behe aren't engaged in conventional scientific investigation? And why are you appealing to tradition to attack ID?
Q: Why do you neglect the fact that many ID proponents are Darwinists, such as MIchael Behe? A: That's a funny thing about Behe. Sometimes he speaks like he believes evolutionary science and sometimes he doesn't. My initial post questioned specifically his stand on IC and I would like very much your opinion as to how that attitude can be considered appropriate in science. I'm not talking about appropriate in general, just in science.
Is the idea that matter cannot be created nor destroyed also unscientific? There goes the laws of thermodynamics. What about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? Is that giving up as well? It says you cannot know accurately both the position and momentum of an atomic particle. It's also interesting, but your standard definition of science also gives a universal negative--that science cannot reach non-naturalist causes. No miracles in science. I'm quite fine with this personally, as science is concerned with investigating the regular patterns in nature, and things like miracles are quite the opposite of that (and thus cannot be predicted), and God is the presupposition of science, so anyone who wants to attack Christianity with science can go ahead, I'll just have fun watching their epistemology self-destruct.
Q: May I blast Darwinists for not being curious to determine if maybe life wasn't brought about by random mutation and natural selection? A: Scientists are open to other evidence than just N/S. Recently epigenetic variation has been getting a lot of attention. Workers in this field are following the evidence.


But of course this all goes on within the framework that we evolved.
Q: I would love to see some explanation as to how you came up with that. (ID proponents aren't interested in how things work). A: My extrapolation from the concept of IR. I assert that the very words, "irreducible complexity," indicate the investigations are over. Writings by the DI confirm my opinion. There are no investigations to find out how or where God has intervened.
Before Behe christened the bacterial flagellum irreducibly complex, he first explains how it works. Maybe the difference is over what you mean why saying ID proponents aren't interested in finding out how things work. If by that you mean they aren't interested in how the machinery of the cell works, that's not extrapolated from the concept of IR, that's made up out of thin air. The reason Behe labels something IR is because he does know how it works, and he thinks he's given sufficient reasons as to why an evolutionary pathway will not have functioning intermediates. If you're saying that it means they aren't interested in finding out how it might have evolved, then that point isn't as controversial, if at all. But, if the point of The Edge of Evolution is to show how much Darwinism can do...don't you think it'd be smart to see how much Darwinism can do before saying it can't do something? (I haven't read the book, just reviews, but it's on my bookshelf and my to-do list (I have read Darwin's Black Box though)). This once again gets us back to the same problem I think we started with--is finding an evolutionary pathway the right place to look for answers in the first place?
Q: And what multiple trails of evidence? A: Volumes worth, and the learning curve is long. Evidence from Paleontology, Geology, molecular biology, genetics and DNA sequencing, etc. Any texts on these subjects (and others) are full of valid evidence. As in any area of science, there are any number of items the authorities fight about, but they agree on the broad outline of evolution. The DI material concentrates on these arguments so I recommend a real textbook.
This is of course after contradictory evidence is weeded out, like the Cambrian and Avalon explosions. (as an aside)
My question: Why is there no huge argument about the specifics of the Big Bang? Your answer: It would probably be because an outworking of inflation theory doesn't lead to eugenics. A: I agree that happened. It wouldn't be the first time Man has misused his resources, nor will it be the last. I'm more interested in what is true and what is not. BTW, how is inflation theory not based on naturalism?
When I said inflation theory is not based on naturalism, I meant that 1) the idea that life evolved is an old naturalist idea. Darwin was beaten to the punch by almost 2000 years by Democritus, a Greek atomist. There is at least a few more people who thought of that, but none come to mind. Darwin himself was a naturalist.
http://www.uncommondescent.com/darwinis ... mr-darwin/
You can also read the rather long (and narrow, width-wise) post explaining that Darwinism didn't become an atheist because of his theory, but his theory came about because of his atheism.
and 2) inflation theory is not a necessary outcome of naturalism. In fact, it was actually believed that the universe was eternal, and it was Christians and Muslims who came up with the kalum argument which argued for a beginning, and therefore a creator (no comment on the argument, I wouldn't use it in its popular form). There are even some people who want the universe to still be eternal, so then we have the oscillating universe idea (Big Bang, expansion, contraction, rinse, lather, repeat).
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#48

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:16 pm

Oh man, I know things are going bad when my posts increase exponentially in length. I always find out later I could have done twice as much with half the space.
"My actions prove that God takes care of idiots."

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#49

Post by Gman » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:31 pm

AttentionKMartShoppers wrote:No it is not the real issue (it's a strawman), ID advocates don't want ID taught in the classroom, they want evolution taught properly, with the pros as well as cons (minus false information, an example being what Icons of Evolution is all about) , and they want religion used to promote Darwinism out. Case in point:
http://www.idthefuture.com/2008/02/pros ... s_god.html
How is it that people like Behe aren't engaged in conventional scientific investigation? And why are you appealing to tradition to attack ID?
That video was an eye opener.... Using our tax dollars to say that religion actually promotes evolution is a breech of the separation between church and state. Instead of focusing on science, Darwinists seem to be focusing more on theological issues instead. For a scientist to say that evolution is incompatible with religion (by using our money to promote this view in text books) is making a theological statement... No question there... Good point SuperK. :thumbsup:
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

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#50

Post by David Blacklock » Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:15 pm

People often engage in pointless arguments as to whether evolution is established "fact," "only a theory," etc. I feel that much of the misunderstanding arises because the word "evolution" covers so much ground, and people throw the word around without making clear exactly what ideas and positions they are attacking or defending.

One meaning of "evolution" is simply "change over time." With regard to life on Earth, it is abundantly clear that things have, indeed, changed over its history. So, in that sense, "evolution" is undeniable. But this is not what most people mean when they use the word.

A second, more common meaning of "evolution" involves the relationships of species. Here, it has to do with the development of current forms of life from earlier forms, including common ancestry relationships. Examples would include the evolution of modern dogs and wolves from a common ancestor, or the evolution of amphibians from fish. Evolution in this sense is well established for many cases (though, as with all science, coming to this conclusion involves some interpretation of the evidence and is not 100% "proven") through both the fossil record and molecular genetics. This makes the hypothesis that all living creatures (including humans) are related in this way a plausible (and even probable) scientific result. Note that this definition says nothing about the mechanism by which these species developed from their common ancestors.

A third meaning is in specific reference to Darwin's theory of evolution. Since this theory is often misunderstood, it is worth explaining briefly. In particular, it must be recognized that Darwinian evolution is not a matter of things developing "just by random chance." Darwinian evolution has two fundamental pieces. One is the genetic variation of offspring (which is the "chance" part and is due both to the normal genetic variations within a species and to mutations). But the other is "natural selection" (which is not random), in which the fittest offspring (best suited to their environment) survive, producing more offspring who pass on their genes. Over time, this combination of genetic variation and natural selection produces new species. On a small scale, Darwin's theory has been well verified. Directly observed examples include the evolution of bacteria resistant to certain drugs. For species that reproduce over longer timescales, the inferences for evolution must be made less directly. But it is now quite clear that, at least on some scales, Darwinian mechanisms are indeed a valid description of nature.

At this point I need to pause and explain why blanket denials of "evolution" by Christians make the faith look silly to scientifically literate non-Christians. Meanings 2 and 3 above are a large part of the scientific understanding of "evolution." For anybody to completely deny those established facts of nature is almost as nonsensical as claiming that the Earth is flat. Of course what Christians are really objecting to is usually some broader meaning of the word. But, by failing to make careful distinctions, they sound as if they are denying everything associated with "evolution," which does a disservice to the faith by associating it with nonsense. Unfortunately, the objections themselves are often nonsense, such as the misuse of the second law of thermodynamics and the arguments for a young Earth.

A fourth meaning of "evolution" is the hypothesis that Darwinian mechanisms explain the development of all life on Earth. Here, things are more speculative. While evolutionary theories provide a viable explanation (and the best scientific explanation we have so far), they are not 100% established by any means. These theories have great explanatory power, and agree well with most evidence. But the evidence is sparse enough to leave room for doubt, and there are some things which current evolutionary theory has a hard time explaining. Much has been made recently of so-called "irreducibly complex" systems, such as Michael Behe discusses in his controversial book Darwin's Black Box. While I feel that Behe's work (though of higher quality than the anti-evolution sniping of others such as Phil Johnson) is not nearly as damaging to evolutionary theory as some would like to think (anybody who is impressed by Behe should balance that by reading Finding Darwin's God by Christian biology professor Kenneth Miller), he does raise some legitimate issues. I think sometimes scientists, for fear of encouraging abominations like the "creation science" movement, are reluctant to admit that there are still unanswered questions with regard to evolution. Ultimately, we will be better off if everybody is honest about both the strengths and weaknesses of this and any other scientific theory.

A fifth meaning of "evolution" is sometimes called "chemical evolution" or "abiogenesis." Darwin's theory itself is only for the evolution of life from other life. It has been hypothesized that similar mechanisms worked in the development of the first life from chemicals. This is an area where the science is necessarily very speculative. Some scientists argue that the odds against this make it a practical impossibility, which others believe they are taking steps toward a viable explanation. I am not qualified to judge these arguments; I will simply point out that the disagreement among qualified scientists is a good indication that the answer is not clear-cut either way.

A sixth way in which "evolution" is sometimes used is to refer to a metaphysical position in which atheistic philosophy is grafted onto the science in the mistaken belief that finding a natural explanation for something puts God out of the picture. An example is Carl Sagan's line, "The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be." This is sometimes called "evolutionism," though a better term is simply "naturalism" or "metaphysical naturalism." Such philosophical extrapolations are completely unscientific, and it is shameful when some try to pass them off as results of science.

In summary, the word "evolution" can be used for a variety of things, ranging from scientific results that are essentially certain to philosophical positions that are not science at all. It is important for all people who consider such issues to be precise in defining what they mean when they attack or defend evolution; sloppiness in this area leads to misunderstandings and makes productive discourse impossible.

Personal View of the Evolution Issue
Allan H. Harvey
steamdoc@aol.com

As a Christian who is also a scientist, I have a special burden for the distress in the Christian faith over "evolution." This essay summarizes my views with regard to the science, the relevant portions of the Biblical record, and the larger issues of relating science and the Christian faith. I am not an expert in either evolutionary biology (though I know some basics and understand how science works in general) or in Biblical interpretation (though I take that seriously), so those two sections should not be considered as having been produced by an expert. I do feel that, with God's help, I have some good insight into the ways in which science and faith relate, so I consider the third section to be the most important part of this essay.

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#51

Post by Gman » Wed Feb 13, 2008 11:05 pm

Thanks David for those definitions...

In a nutshell, I think for the most part many Christians have an open hostility towards evolution when it is explained in a way without any divine intervention, which seems to be the prevalent direction it is expressed in schools, (a separation of church and state). That is the simple explanation that gets people's motors running. At least that is what my perception is of it, but you are right, categorically evolution can be expressed in various ways that can be tested with a legitimate outcome and without any bias.. Others would be more obscure.. My personal feeling is that the greatest obstacle evolution faces is in the chemical evolution arena sometimes scratching at the post of the philosophical. Nonetheless, I still believe the show must go on. For any side to claim they have a smoking gun is, well, being too presumptuous at this point. Both camps, I believe, should work on a mutual respect for each other if we want to move forward.
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#52

Post by Canuckster1127 » Thu Feb 14, 2008 7:11 am

I find as a Christian that the greatest issues for me in this realm comes from a majority of people on both sides of the Conflict talking past each other and not having agreed upon definition of terms.

That article is helpful in that regard.
Dogmatism is the comfortable intellectual framework of self-righteousness. Self-righteousness is more decadent than the worst sexual sin. ~ Dan Allender

//bartsbarometer.com/

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#53

Post by David Blacklock » Thu Feb 14, 2008 8:02 am

Thanx Gman & Cannuckster - I try to please :mrgreen:

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#54

Post by zoegirl » Fri Feb 15, 2008 4:25 pm

David,

just a point of confusion...(feeling a bit bit dense....my apologies!!!)

was that essay from you? your personal opinion? another author? do you agree?

It was a nice essay....and I like the separation and clarification of the terms....just wanted to know more about the background
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#55

Post by David Blacklock » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:10 pm

I'd like to take credit, but it was from Allen Harvey. I was surfing the internet, trying to put together something for my next post when I found his essay. It conveyed my sentiments better than I could write them, so I cut & pasted it. Sorry I didn't make that clear but I put his credits at the bottom of the essay. He has several other essays developed from his Sunday School classes:

http://members.aol.com/steamdoc/writings.htm

Essays about Science and Christianity
Evolution and Immorality: Is Sin Darwin's Fault?

A Personal View of the Evolution Issue

Science and Christian Apologetics

The Second Law of Thermodynamics in the Context of the Christian Faith

Thoughts on "Joshua's Long Day"

What Does "God of the Gaps" Mean?

DB

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#56

Post by zoegirl » Fri Feb 15, 2008 7:38 pm

Thanks, I thought it was from that person but just wanted to make certain.
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#57

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:59 pm

That's why I use the term Darwinism. Much less ambiguous. :beat: And it's really hard for you to divorce your third definition of evolution and your sixth definition of evolution is the differences are non-existent. Darwinism = random mutation + natural selection. You are saying that there is in fact something random going on. God is not sovereign. Several Darwinists have said that if rewind the tape of our evolution, and let it play out again, we wouldn't necessarily evolve again. I recall that Kenneth Miller had to fudge the facts when he was on the witness stand in a trial involving ID and lie about how his books defined Darwinism, because he claimed that only one or two of his books defined Darwinism as involving chance, but all of, or most of his books say that (what's the point of bookmarks when you can't find anything when you need it?). Haha, found it:
[e]volution is random and undirected.
That's how Kenneth Miller defines Darwinism (well, that's part of it). Much better way of phrasing it. Darwinism is defined as being random and undirected. So how can you say that one misguided version of evolution is atheists waving it as a banner saying "we explained it, God is gone!" There is no fundamental difference between the two definitions. You can't divorce the science and the philosophy. They go hand in hand, in the same way that Plato's idealism and the philosophy he worked out go hand in hand, or how Aristotle's interest in practicality and his philosophy go hand in hand.

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/07/fr ... nneth.html



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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#58

Post by David Blacklock » Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:16 am

KM: >>[e]volution is random and undirected<<

There is no branch of science that deals with supernatural causes. When an individual scientist does he is overstepping his boundaries. It's not surprising that evolution is the same in this regard as the other disciplines. y>:D<

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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#59

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Thu Feb 21, 2008 9:50 pm

David Blacklock wrote:KM: >>[e]volution is random and undirected<<

There is no branch of science that deals with supernatural causes. When an individual scientist does he is overstepping his boundaries. It's not surprising that evolution is the same in this regard as the other disciplines. y>:D<

DB
So, you have said there's a difference between the science of evolution and the philosophy of those who use evolution that is divorced from the science and abused by atheists...and when I say that part of the definition of evolution is that it is
random and undirected
you say that no branch of science deals with supernatural causes, and that Miller was overstepping his boundaries. First, what about the fact science doesn't deal with supernatural causes (we can ignore the metaphysical naturalism underpinning that statement later)? And are you saying Kenneth Miller overstepped his boundaries (if so, how, he didn't appeal to anything supernatural)? Also, what about the fact it's not just Miller defining Darwinism as random and unguided?
"My actions prove that God takes care of idiots."

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
- On Stanley Baldwin

-Winston Churchill

An atheist can't find God for the same reason a criminal can't find a police officer.

You need to start asking out girls so that you can get used to the rejections.
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Re: Ben Stein - Expelled movie

#60

Post by David Blacklock » Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:12 am

Hi SKMS - I'm only saying what I'm saying. I'm not saying what anyone might want to restate to better reflect a certain view.

"... And are you saying..." No, I'm only saying what I said.

For example, your assessment "God is not sovereign" would not appear in any evolution textbook.

No version of your words, "one misguided version of evolution is atheists waving it as a banner saying "we explained it, God is gone!" - would appear in an evolution textbook.

"Your 3rd definition of evolution and your 6th definition of evolution - the differences are non-existent."

Here are the two (paraphrased & shortened by me) definitions from Mr. Harvey:

A third meaning is in specific reference to Darwin's theory of evolution...Darwinian evolution is not a matter of things developing "just by random chance." Darwinian evolution has two fundamental pieces. One is the genetic variation of offspring (which is the "chance" part and is due both to the normal genetic variations within a species and to mutations). But the other is "natural selection" (which is not random), in which the fittest offspring (best suited to their environment) survive, producing more offspring who pass on their genes. Over time, this combination of genetic variation and natural selection produces new species. On a small scale, Darwin's theory has been well verified...it is now quite clear that, at least on some scales, Darwinian mechanisms are indeed a valid description of nature.

A sixth way in which "evolution" is sometimes used is to refer to a metaphysical position in which atheistic philosophy is grafted onto the science in the mistaken belief that finding a natural explanation for something puts God out of the picture..."metaphysical naturalism." Such philosophical extrapolations are completely unscientific, and it is shameful when some try to pass them off as results of science.

Clearly these are two completely different concepts.

"You can't divorce the science and the philosophy." I reject the metaphysical position stated in #6 and hereby divorce the science from that philosophy in my discussions. That is an issue in a course on the Philosophy of Science but not an issue in any individual discipline and would not likely be found in a text of evolution.

Whew - I got that out of the way.

As you mentioned, The Late Stephen Jay Gould popularized an understanding of evolution that focused on the role of randomness and chance. "Rewind the tape" (of evolution), he would say, and imagine the whole process unfolding from the start once again: everything would be different. Yes, I think most evolutionists would agree with this.

Now for the random and undirected. Evolution is random to a point, but non-random when it comes to natural selection. Survival of the fittest (not Darwin's words) is a non-random major feature of evolution. Evolution is also considered by scientists to be undirected. That is simply because there is no scientific evidence that it is directed. Any evidence to the contrary would be the biggest scientific news of the century and would get positive attention from scientists all over the world. As in any scientific pursuit, they are simply (and exclusively) following the trail of evidence.

An example: April, 2006, Tiktaalik was the lead story in a number of newspapers. Neil Shubin and his group found an transitional fossil bridging fish and amphibians. Shubin had been searching for similar fossils in Pennsylvania and became interested in this particular transitional species. He knew how old it had to be (375 million years). To find it, they had to find certain types of rocks of that age that were formed under conditions conducive to preserving fossils - sedimentary rock formed by slow moving bodies of water. It does no good if the sedimentary layer is buried several feet or a hundred feet down. The best places to look are where paleontologists can walk for miles over the rocks looking for bones that are "weathering out." Fossil bones are often harder that the surrounding rock, erode at a slower rate, and present a raised profile on the rock surface. In an introductory geology text they found 3 potential sites. One was in Pennsylvania where they were already working. One was in Greenland, but it had already been well studied. The other was in the Canadian Arctic. The latter one fit the criteria of age of rocks, type of rocks, and exposure. Further, it had not been prospected. They spent 4 of each of the next 6 summers there, in that short period of time each year permitted by the weather.

It took them 6 years to find it, but the fossil confirmed a prediction of paleotology: not only was the new fish an intermediate between two different kinds of animals, but they had found it at the right time period in earth's history and in the right ancient environment. They engaged the local Inuit Indians to come up with the appropriate name.

The order of fossils in the world's rocks is powerful evidence of our connections to the rest of life. If, digging in 600 million years old rocks, they had found the earliest jellyfish lying next to the skeleton of a woodchuck, there would be something drasticly wrong. That woodchuck would have appeared earlier in the fossil record than the first mammal, reptile, or even fish - before even the first worm. Moreover, our ancient woodchuck would tell us that much of what we know about the history of the earth and life on it is wrong. Despite over a century of people looking all over the world for fossils, this type of finding has never happened.

Of course, a single column containing the entirely of earth history doesn't exist, but the pieces do, here and there. Putting them together is a continuing labor of love for paleotologists, like working a giant jigsaw puzzle.

DB

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