Search This Blog

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Widening the gap between Darwinists and evidence...transitional forms

The definition: 
transition definition
tran·si·tion (tran zis̸hən, -sis̸hən)
noun

    1. a passing from one condition, form, stage, activity, place, etc. to another
    2. the period of such passing
  1. a word, phrase, sentence, or group of sentences that relates a preceding topic to a succeeding one or that smoothly connects parts of a speech or piece of writing
  2. Music
    1. a shifting from one key to another; modulation; esp., a brief or passing modulation
    2. an abrupt change into a remote key
    3. a passage connecting two sections of a composition
Origin: L transitio < transitus: see transit
intransitive verb
to make or undergo a transition
Related Forms:
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.




wollemi pine fossil and specimen

The idea of transitional forms is one of those slippery and sloppy concepts that cannot be nailed down.  As a purely classical Darwinist would claim, we are ALL transitional forms on our way to evolving into something else.   This sounds rather inclusive, for if the definition of something includes everything then it in fact says nothing.

Stephen Gould was more honest and forthcoming on this particular issue:

"The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nods of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils." - The Pandas Thumb, 1980, p. 181

credit

During his lifetime, Darwin bemoaned the lack of transitional fossils because his hypothesis of descent from common ancestry depended upon one kind of creature turning into another kind and that this would be happening everywhere in order to have produced the mass of organic life found on the planet.   The default expectation of the Darwinist would be to find a continuum of creatures slowly or quickly turning into something else.   This is hardly so.  Darwin said:


Evolution Quotes"But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record."     Origin of Species  (1859)  p.280
 

The reason Darwin needed and expected to find these things in the fossil record is clear from this:

Evolution Quotes"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."    Origin of Species  (1859)  p.186   


If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.    Origin of Species  (1859)  p.189

So Charles Darwin understood the importance of finding evidence of organs and systems and process forming.  He was also depending upon the idea of uniformitarianism or gradualism, the idea that the rock layers were records of millions upon millions of years of slow accumulations of dirt and debris.   We of course know better now.  Having found fossils being instantly buried, sometimes in the act of eating or giving birth and/or found them in formation as if they had been arranged by a strong flow of a current or sorted by size or probable specific gravity and having found fossils as delicate as jellyfish preserved, we must assert that the rock layers are a record of a catastrophic flood and the events associated with that flood.

There are no transitional fossils.   Michael Denton has shown that 97.7% of all land vertebrates are represented in the fossil record and 79.1% of all living land vertebrates are represented, a figure that rises to 87.8% if birds are not included, a group of animals that would be least likely to be preserved in the fossil record.  All 32 groups of mammals orders appear abruptly in the fossil record. From what we can ascertain of the fossil record, all animal types appear in the record of the rocks fully formed and many of them seem unchanged from living descendants of the same kind.   The Wollemi Pine is one of what has become hundreds of examples of this.  The discovery of so-called "Lazarus" types has ceased to be news.

‘The earliest and most primitive members of every order already have the basic ordinal characters, and in no case is an approximately continuous series from one order to another known. In most cases the break is so sharp and the gap so large that the origin of the order is speculative and much disputed.’

G.G. Simpson, Tempo and Mode in Evolution (1944), pp. 105[sic]—6.

Does a ‘transitional form’ replace one gap with two gaps?

John Woodmorappe

At times, creationists are ridiculed for pointing to gaps in the fossil record,
because, it is alleged, the finding of a ‘transitional form’ means that one
can now argue that there are two gaps whereas before there had been one.

To begin with, this argument is very disingenuous, if only because it tells
us nothing about the degree of morphological discontinuity remaining if two
smaller gaps do in fact replace one larger one.

Consider if, as an extreme example, the only organisms in existence were
yeasts, earthworms, and humans. From the standpoint of ancestor-descendant
relationships, evolutionists could state that the last common ancestor
of earthworms and humans was more recent than the last common ancestor
between Kingdom Animalia and yeasts (Kingdom Fungi). While it is obvious
that, in a sense, earthworms do ‘bridge the (one) gap’ between yeasts and
humans, the fact nevertheless remains that the two gaps which now exist (between
yeasts and earthworms, on the one hand, and between earthworms and
humans, on the other) nevertheless are very large. So, while it is technically
correct that there are now two smaller gaps instead of one large gap, this has
little practical meaning because of the huge discontinuities remaining between
the three forms of life. The same holds for cladistic relationships.

Nowadays, evolutionists deal with cladograms (branching diagrams
which are supposed to show relative degree of relatedness among living
things) rather than ancestor-descendant relationships.


A common cladogram

credit

On a cladogram for the example above, the yeasts would branch
off at a node before the one where the earthworms branch off from humans.
But this branching pattern would tell us little. In fact, as before, it would
only obscure the huge morphological discontinuity which exists between
yeasts, earthworms, and humans. Although I intentionally made the
example above extreme in order to make the point, the same considerations
apply to more conventional depictions of alleged evolutionary transitional
forms. In particular, as long as such things as half-legs/half-wings, or threequarter
scales/one-quarter feathers, are not found as fossils, the discontinuities
among such things as reptiles and birds remain large. This remains the case
whether or not some ‘transitional’ fossil can be thought of as replacing one
larger gap into two smaller but nevertheless still large gaps.

Finally, let us examine the one-gap, two-gap premise in the light of cladogram
construction. Can this one-gap, two-gap argument be levelled only
against creationists? Certainly not. Consider what happens when allegedly
transitional forms are found:

‘It might be expected that the addition of new fossil finds and
reanalysis of older ones would improve the fit of age data to a fixed sample of cladograms, 
by the filling of gaps and by corrections of former taxonomic assignments.
 … In other words, as a result of 26 years of work, new discoveries and reassignments
had improved the fit in 20 % of cases, but caused mismatches of clade and age data in a
further 20 % of cases. Sometimes a new fossil does not fill a gap, but creates additional gaps on other
branches of a cladogram [Emphasis added].’1

Clearly, then, to the extent that the ‘two gaps whereas before there was
one’ has validity, it is a double-edged sword. It impacts evolutionary thinking
no less so than creationist thinking. As a result, if they want to be intellectually
honest, evolutionists should realize that they cut themselves with
the double-edged sword everytime they level the ‘two gaps whereas before there
was one’ argument against creationist scholars. Of course, it must also be remembered
that the very cladistic methodology currently in vogue among evolutionists tends, by its very
nature, to de-emphasize the presumed status of (alleged) transitional formswhich are so
widely touted by the liberal media:

‘Remember that although a living individual must have had ancestors,
fossils are unlikely to represent any of them. Even if a fossil was an
ancestor, we will never know this— we can never know with certainty
what happened in the past. Accepting that fossils are not ancestors
also means that there are no “missing links” in the fossil record
because fossils cannot be ordered, as traditionally depicted, into an
evolutionary lineage. There is no ladder of life. Most, if not all, fossils
lie on the dead branches of the tree of life, and we must remember
that most of our tree of life is dead, with only a few green living leaves
at the tips of the branches.’ 2

But why just discard the false ‘ladder of life’ concept when it
is also so easy, based on the empirical evidence, to dispose of the tree of life
altogether? Once the lack of major transitions is acknowledged, one must
face the fact that there is no tree of life because there are no roots, no trunk,
no boughs, and no medium-sized branches. There are only mutually disjointed
bushes, and even these consist exclusively of variation only within
the kind, and this is almost invariably within the family unit of traditional
taxonomy. The scientific creationist needs to only reject organic evolution
before being in hearty agreement with the foregoing cited statements.

References

1. Benton, M.J., Testing the time axis of phylogenies,
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
Society of London B349:8, 1995.

2. Irwin, D.M., Dead branches on the tree of life,
Nature 403:480, 2000.

Darwin quotes courtesy of this site.


I would conclude that Darwinists will find an amphibian or a reptile or a fish that is not exactly like a species found today and seek to have it be included into the record as a transitional form and when this is done, if there is enough evidence of the actual remains of the animal, we find it is a fully formed creature that is not sporting, for instance, a tongue that is in the process of wrapping itself around within the skull of a woodpecker or a pair of legs that is one-half wing one half leg or anything similar.  We have yet to see a true transitional form, unsurprisingly.   We have yet to observe macroevolution in action, either. 

6 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

Someday, Radar, you will figure out that a few lines mined from out-of-date sources, roughly squared off with the Axe of Misquotation, and mortared together with the dry dust of creationist doubletalk, does not a valid argument build.

Someday you might also come to realize that anyone who claims that Stephen Jay Gould ever wrote anything that could reasonably be interpreted to cast doubt on evolutionary theory is ignorant, stupid, insane, or evil beyond salvaging.

Michael Denton has shown that 97.7% of all land vertebrates are represented in the fossil record and 79.1% of all living land vertebrates are represented, a figure that rises to 87.8% if birds are not included, a group of animals that would be least likely to be preserved in the fossil record.

This claim is ridiculous on the face of it. All the fossils that we can't find because they long ago eroded away ... all the fossils we'll never find because they're still buried under uncounted tons of rock ... all the new organisms that are described from fossils every year ... and you think anyone can say with any certainty that the record we have is complete or nearly so?

All 32 groups of mammals orders appear abruptly in the fossil record.

It was possible to get away with making this claim fifty or a hundred years ago, when we had fewer fossils and a limited understanding of those fossils we did have. It's not possible for an honest man to make the same claim today.

Hawkeye® said...

Radar,
Keep up the good work buddy.

(:D) Best regards...

creeper said...

"Having found fossils being instantly buried, sometimes in the act of eating or giving birth and/or found them in formation as if they had been arranged by a strong flow of a current or sorted by size or probable specific gravity and having found fossils as delicate as jellyfish preserved, we must assert that the rock layers are a record of a catastrophic flood and the events associated with that flood."

There are so many errors in just this one paragraph that it's hard to know where to start.

1. Fossils of beings instantly buried is not evidence of a global flood - it is just as compatible with a non-global-flood model. The same goes for preserved jellyfish. Rapid burial can take place under either scenario.

2. This is a whopper: "found [the fossils] in formation as if they had been arranged by a strong flow of a current or sorted by size or probable specific gravity

As for the first part, I don't think we've discussed this before, so if you can provide evidence of fossils "as if they had been arranged by a strong flow of a current", please do so. However, that probably still won't get you farther than what I already said under (1) above.

As for the second part, this is simply an untruth that you have been called on again and again. Maybe you are happy to continue to peddle this untruth, and maybe you are gullible enough to fall for it yourself, but it is simply and absolutely not true that fossils in the fossil record are "sorted by size or probable specific gravity". It's an outright LIE. Maybe you just don't get it and passed it on innocently, but that doesn't make it any less of a lie.

I hope that people like Hawkeye and Highboy are paying attention to this.

If you look at what fossils are found where in the fossil record and try to explain that by means of a sudden global flood, it simply doesn't add up at all. Nothing can explain, for example, why all dinosaurs are found only in certain layers, and why "modern" animals are not. The evolution/old Earth model can account for this in full and can even make very detailed and specific predictions based on this (and find them confirmed - we can go over the process that led to the finding of Tiktaalik again if need be).

For YEC it remains a MAJOR problem that the fossils in the fossil record are NOT sorted by "size or probable specific gravity" or any other known mechanism outside of that proposed by the theory of evolution. It's one of several areas that Radar has to avoid like the plague, as it completely falsifies a YEC hypothesis.

Radar, your conclusion, namely that "we must assert that the rock layers are a record of a catastrophic flood and the events associated with that flood", is not supported by your premises in any logical fashion.

-- creeper

radar said...

creeper and that forked tongue again. I have said many times that the layering of fossils involves many different scenarios with sorting by specific gravity being perhaps the least factor (although it does get involved in amber fossils). The layers first represent the bottom-dwelling sea creatures and then fish and amphibians which would be found in water already followed by those animal forms least able to get away from floodwaters and lastly those bigger and stronger and smarter types that kept finding high ground until the bitter end.

Funny how you tend to find the footprints of only the larger or smarter animals because only they would understand and be able to flee the danger.

I have also stated that the top layer or two represent the post-flood landslides and dike breaks that caused animals to be trapped.

Creation scientists specializing in the sedimentary layers and flood action also have spoken to the action of the receding floodwaters upon the layers of sediment, causing a great deal of rapid erosion where the waters ran off of the new face of the planet.

When I am not so busy I will find and post the link to the large site of flow-aligned dinosaur bones I posted about five months ago. I have gone over this ground before and it is getting tiresome that creeper uses the same arguments over and over without actually saying anything.

creeper, do you have any evidence of anything at all or do you just naysay? For instance, give us an explanation for how trees and reeds and a whale can be stuck upright for millions of years while debris slowly forms around it. Polystrates are common around the world in rock layers. If there was no huge worldwide flood, what was there, fourteen short world-wide floods?

Jon Woolf said...

The layers first represent the bottom-dwelling sea creatures and then fish and amphibians which would be found in water already followed by those animal forms least able to get away from floodwaters and lastly those bigger and stronger and smarter types that kept finding high ground until the bitter end.

Why aren't dolphins and ichthyosaurs ever found together, Radar?

Why aren't rhamphorhynchoids and neornithines ever found together, Radar?

How did dogwoods and sycamores outrun brontosaurs and allosaurs to higher ground, Radar?

How do we get fossil formations that preserve multiple layers of dinosaur and bird nests, obviously nesting colonies from several different years, in the middle of the geologic column?

How did we get magmatic intrusions -- that is, underground lava flows that took time to occur and more time to cool and solidify -- in between layers of fossil-bearing sedimentary rock?

How did we get basaltic lava flows covering the same areas over and over again, with fossiliferous rock that preserves large and diverse faunas in between those lava flows?

For instance, give us an explanation for how trees and reeds and a whale can be stuck upright for millions of years while debris slowly forms around it.

They can't. But it's a moot question, since no such thing has ever been found.

Anonymous said...

"creeper and that forked tongue again."

If you're going to accuse me of lying, kindly identify the lie. Otherwise do not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

"I have said many times that the layering of fossils involves many different scenarios with sorting by specific gravity being perhaps the least factor (although it does get involved in amber fossils). The layers first represent the bottom-dwelling sea creatures and then fish and amphibians which would be found in water already followed by those animal forms least able to get away from floodwaters and lastly those bigger and stronger and smarter types that kept finding high ground until the bitter end."

Yes, you've said that. And it completely FAILS to explain what we actually find in the fossil record. Follow your own advice and OBSERVE and THINK.

Jon has already mentioned a few examples of how your explanation doesn't add up. This is when you put your fingers in your ears and refuse to continue the discussion - because this completely falsifies YEC, and that is where your worldview has to trump you following where the evidence leads.

"For instance, give us an explanation for how trees and reeds and a whale can be stuck upright for millions of years while debris slowly forms around it."

First you'd have to find such a thing. Just because something transcends "layers" doesn't mean that those layers represent millions of years. That is why when you presented pictures of such polystrate fossils, I asked you what ages the rock in the layers at the top and bottom of the polystrate fossil were.

This is the same blunder you traipsed into with the planes stuck under all that snow in Greenland. You just assumed that that's all ice core layers were, piles of snow, and that's all scientists were doing.

Same blunder in thinking here.

Now have a look at the polystrate fossils and see if there is any evidence that they were not the result of rapid sedimentation; see if there is any evidence using dating methods that indicates that the top and bottom layers were indeed supposedly millions of years apart.

You won't find it.

"If there was no huge worldwide flood, what was there, fourteen short world-wide floods?"

There's no evidence of any worldwide flood, short or otherwise. Everything you've pointed out re. rapid burial etc. is just as easily covered by a much more likely explanation: localized floods.

-- creeper