Friday, February 09, 2007

botf: Army of Christ Enlists Google to put the Extinction on Evolution

Jesus: I made the following point to [Darwin] about transitional fossils and you can read his response which follows as well.

Jesus: Since you always supply me with articles instead of photographs of these countless transitional fossils I decided to google them up. I used Advanced Search Google Images and put in the exact phrase "transitional fossil." This will give you photos, not articles. Only 33 hits of which only about 3 were photos, not illustrations. To be honest, I would have expected to have gotten about 100,000 hits which is not uncommon. Then I put in the exact phrase "intermediate fossil." Total hits, 3. Not impressive [Darwin]. Food for thought.

Darwin: I just typed "God" into advanced google search Images, and guess what? A lot of hits, but no photos of god whatsoever. I guess that proves god doesn't exist, right?
Jesus: Well some thought that was so clever of [Darwin] and the perfect response. So I am here to tell you, a little bit funny, a lot bit sad. Not only does this educated poster not have a good response to the total absence of intermediate fossils appearing in Google Images, he has always been secretly or not so secretly driven to deny any manifestations or evidence for God. I admit to being powerless to try to change such an animal.

Darwin: The whole rigamarole about transitional fossils is essentially a creationist tactic that is based on the idea that there should be a 100% complete fossil record, with every transition between every evolutionary state completely documented. As has been pointed out to you about a zillion times, this is a ridiculous assumption. Fossilization is a long, difficult process--so difficult, in fact, that the odds of any particular organism being fossilized have been estimated to be greater than one in a billion. It's a wonder we have any fossils at all.

Jesus: Sorry, doesn't fly. How many actual animals become fossilized is irrelevant. The fact that a transitional animal or form getting fossilized is equal to any whole species getting fossilized is an important premise. The fact is there are tens of millions of species of advanced animals that allegedly evolved from some other, usually, more primitive species so they all had to go through billions of transitions amongst them. I have heard estimates of up to ten million fossils of animals are housed in universities, museums, laboratories, etc. What are the odds that every single one of these fossils are of completely whole species and not some transitional forms? Impossible really. So now you are left with debating a handful of fossils that some say could be or are transitional fossils, and many others saying "no way" and with good reasons of their own. Either way, the there is a statistical dearth of transitional fossils and I am not buying it that we just haven't found them or should not be expected to find them.

Darwin: But what of "transitional" fossils? First of all, there are plenty of fossils that have been described as transitional in just the sense that you desire--they demonstrate a transition between two evolutionary states. May I suggest you google "Archaeopteryx lithographica" and see how many pictures you get? Each year, more transitional fossils are found--for example, just last year Tiktaalik was dug up on the Arctic Circle--it demonstrates a nice link between early tetrapods and their fishy ancestors.

Jesus: What of them? I resent those who embrace evolution here telling me that those scientists refuting these claims are junk scientists or religious laymen with no science background. They propose sound reasons and challenges to these claims that others accept without question.

Darwin: But more to the point--since all species are in evolutionary transition (barring extinction), then in a very real way, every fossil is a transitional fossil. Because you don't understand it as so doesn't make it any less true.

Jesus: It is not that I don't understand it, it is that I do not buy it. Just because someone says there were animals that morphed from this wolf like looking land animal into the modern day whale does not make it so. And there is plenty of that going around. Secondly, one species, by definition, cannot reproduce with another species. Or at best, they produce sterile animals. It is a leap of faith on your part to think that all these tricky reproduction transitional stages occurred until we have a new species all nice and neat.

Darwin: As for Google--images in Google are searched by the captions given to them by the people who post them on their various web pages. So unless somebody puts a picture on their web page and captions it "transitional fossil," it doesn't turn up on a Google Image search. People who are posting pictures of fossils don't take your weird tunnel-vision view of the world. They post things by their names. So, try an image search for "Archaeopteryx" (5,330 hits), or for "Tiktaalik" (702 hits), or using my definition above, "fossil" (322,000 hits).

Jesus: Yes, I get it. But it is the number of hits that showed up that is still glaring. 5,330 hits for photos of Archaeopteryx but only 33 hits for transitional fossil? And only 3 hits for intermediate fossil? That makes no sense. Except that there is a reluctance on the part of evolution scientists to call it that. The statistical difference says something to me. I won't bore you with further expounding.

Darwin: Your entire argument.... "I don't buy it."

Darwin: True enough, but I think you erred a bit (although I enjoyed your post [or at least, it made me les annoyed by the top-post]) in discussing the extent to which "transitional" can be truthfully used as a post hoc appellation. Better if you had taken *only* the all-forms-are-transitional-or-dead-ends tack (which was fine in your post). For a lesser degree of infuriating stupidity than [Jesus’] your dual explanation would have been helpful, but consider the conceptual model of evolution implied by his/her use of the word "morphed" or even the way he defines species (re: breeding - fine in some contexts, but not helpful here 'cause implies transition and species can be identified in an ongoing way, rather than post-hoc). A fun game to play would be to challenge [Jesus] to explain evolution as well as s/he can. Odds are you'd agree that the expressed view was silly as well. Or maybe I'm being too optimistic (the disagreement as incomplete knowledge school).

Jesus: I'll try at defining evolution for you.

Essentially, when you consider all that it claims, it is no more bold or preposterous than the following:

If you watch a canary long enough, it will turn into a wolverine.

That is what you want us to accept.

Darwin: As I said, your use of the word "morphed" (and some other tidbits) suggested you might be labouring under the misconception you again imply. That is, your description is vaguely compatible with Lamarckian evolution, but not Darwinian evolution. Really, even as a description of Lamarckianism, it is fatally imprecise. Try again, if you like. Tough call whether you are as evil (by my lights - denying a beautiful truth) as Arch implied.

In any event, a fun perspective for you: I don't know whether you've ever thought enough to encounter it, but abstract truth excites the human sense of beauty very stronly. It's a phenomenta that is most pronounced in mathematics, but evolution is probably the most beautiful truth that I know. It is an astonishing and wonderful thing that such a work of art (I mean all the intellectual labours that expand on the meaning of "evolution") should be more accessible to you than most (say, pure math). If you believe in God, this would be a gift from him to you - the fullest use of your mind to understand his work. Your behaviour is sacrilege. (In fairness, I'll state the obvious that I'm an atheist, but I'm not being manipulative here - few things make me empathize more with a religious sense of wonder than contemplation of evolution)


Schadenfreude said...

I'm bored.

JV-12: Most of my interaction with him has been positive, but when he's on the subject of his religion (the very fringes of medieval superstition) there's no point in talking to him.

I'm rather surprised at his disingenuous use of the "transitional fossils" argument. The reason that he doesn't find pictures of them is that they don't exist. The terminology was invented by creationists as a strawman. (What JV-12 means by "transitional" appears to be something like a lizard caught in the act of turning into a penguin).

Ghost's last post in that thread is just one more piece of evidence that he/she is too good for the Fray.

Feeling evil: ghost's question led me to think that Iso's loss is just about the maximum possible. All of the resources have been used in raising the child to adulthood, but the young adult dies before realizing any return. This seems to make a certain amount of sense - when a newborn baby dies it's much less of a tragedy then when a three-year-old dies, etc.

Ducadmo: I've long suspected him of being an idiot. Confirmed.

Archaeopteryx said...

I couldn't be more proud.

Dawn Coyote said...

Ender: nice one.

Schad: disagree - ghost is good for the fray, as are you.

Heliogabalus said...

Schad, right on target...

Questions. why is the United States of America among modern & industrialized nations, the only country where issue such as creation versus evolution is still the focus of intense official & public debate. What is the reason for such resistance, denying & confrontation to scientific empiricism at the dawn of the 21th century.

Archaeopteryx said...


Would that it were so. Creationism is making inroads in the UK and Canada, and is snaking its viscous tentacles into France, Germany, and Japan. Some of this is due to the insidious efforts of people like Ken Ham and his ilk in the US, but it can only take hold because stupidity is international.

Heliogabalus said...


Of course i am not pretending that stupidity has a particular tendency to affect American genes, but certainly Americans have a predisposition for loony thinking. Maybe this goes back to the Mayflower & the Puritans.....

I am aware of a peculiar politicized fringe of radical Christians shaking the bone of creation in Europe, but most Europeans even the most religious among them (Italy, Spain) are too rational to get on the bandwagon.
In France, Germany & England, churches are closing because of a lack of people willing to enter priesthood, religion is moribund. But there is certainly a market for pseudo-scientific, superstitious & credulous hogwash in Eastern Europe.
Here in Japan i can assure you that the threat of religiosity is not a problem. Japanese are certainly the less religious people on earth, They just don't give a damn.
Usually for wedding ceremony, a Japanese couple will attend a church ceremony with white dress, funny singing etc....because it is fashionable & romantic for the Ladies, then will go to the temple to perform a ceremony which is in fact a mix of old traditional Japanese Shinto religion, and modern Buddhism.

twiffer said...

helio: remember, the puritains came from england. [grin]