Thursday, January 29, 2009

Honest Creationist Kurt Wise Spills the Beans about Transitional Fossils

This is from Panda's Thumb, and it is classic.

Kurt Wise, a creationist paleontologist who studied under Stephen Jay Gould, and was called the only "honest creationist" by Richard Dawkins, wrote an article about how creationists should understand transitional fossils. While Kurt says that species-to-species intermediates are lacking (which can be explained by periods of rapid evolution), Kurt admits,

"Evidences for Darwin’s second expectation - of stratomorphic intermediate species - include such species as Baragwanathia (between rhyniophytes and lycopods), Pikaia (between echinoderms and chordates), Purgatorius (between the tree shrews and the primates), and Proconsul (between the non-hominoid primates and the hominoids). Darwin’s third expectation - of higher-taxon stratomorphic intermediates - has been confirmed by such examples as the mammal-like reptile groups between the reptiles and the mammals, and the phenacdontids between the horses and their presumed ancestors. Darwin’s fourth expectation - of stratomorphic series - has been confirmed by such examples as the early bird series, the tetrapod series, the whale series, the various mammal series of the Cenozoic (for example, the horse series, the camel series, the elephant series, the pig series, the titanothere series, etc.), the Cantius and Plesiadapus primate series, and the hominid series. Evidence for not just one but for all three of the species level and above types of stratomorphic intermediates expected by macroevolutionary theory is surely strong evidence for macroevolutionary theory. Creationists therefore need to accept this fact. It certainly CANNOT said that traditional creation theory expected (predicted) any of these fossil finds."

I've skimmed the rest of the article, but do plan to go back and read it. Here's a challenge: Find what's wrong with Kurt's explanation of intermediate forms. I await your comments. In the next two or three days I will make the time to debunk it.


Hambydammit said...

Somebody needs to explain to Creationists that the theory of evolution predicts gaps in the fossil record precisely because of how speciation often occurs. Suppose you have a population that is split, perhaps by a glacier, into two populations. Now, they are evolving independently, and my turn into two species. Soon, (geologically) the glacier melts, and the two species intermingle again. Because they are quite similar, they will likely compete, and one will drive the other extinct. In the fossil record, you will see one species, then suddenly another species, with no transition -- precisely because separation is often the most important condition for speciation.

Anyway... Damn, I wish creationists would read a book.

Hambydammit said...

* may turn into two species

AIGBusted said...

That's a very nice illustration of Punctuated Equilibrium, Hamby.

I used to feel that Punc Equ was necessary to explain the species to species gaps in the fossil record, but then I read "Finding Darwin's God" and discovered that experiments have shown very rapid evolution happening over a period of a few years which was faster than even some of the fastest fossil record transitions we know of.

It seems to me that selection is probably an on again/off again affair. Sometimes species are prefectly adapted to their environment, and they go millions of years without change (as horseshoe crabs have), or the environment changes, as happened with our early ancestors who found themselves on the savannah, and the species is forced to change, sometimes rapidly. I think Richard Dawkins' chapter on "Punctuating Punctuationism" in his book "The Blind Watchmaker" reflects my own views well.

Hambydammit said...

Dawkins explains very well how there is really no debate between punctuated equilibrium and gradualism. It's a difference in degree, not kind. Gould, et al, were really just gradualists with asterisks. Anyway, great post!

Jake said...

And none of you have explained how we can possibly get such an increase in specified information.

Punctuated equilibrium is an ad hoc band aid for a mortally wounded (philosophically and scientifically) theory of origins.

The lengths evolutionists will go to deny design and prove themselves as being evolved goop is truly astounding.

Jake said...

No longer (ever?) can evolutionists say that it's creationists that cherry pick quotes.

Gee, the evidence is so strong for macroevolutionary theory that Kurt remains a 6-day creationist.

Does anybody use their brain anymore?

For goodness sake, copy and paste this recent Kurt Wise article into your URL line:

Doppelganger said...

Yes, Jake, Wise remains a YEC because for people like him, Sctripture trumps evidence.


Roberto said...

Scripture IS evidence.

Lenoxus said...

Jake, more than a year ago, said: No longer (ever?) can evolutionists say that it's creationists that cherry pick quotes.

At best, that's only true for at least one creationist. If one creationist accurately describes the state of evidence for evolution, that doesn't mean other ones don't commit fallacies, pick cherries, etc.

The salient thing here is that Wise is saying something which nearly all other creationists dispute: that there really are transitional forms between reptiles and mammals. If you somehow want to claim him as a shining example of honesty, you must also accept this admittance of his; otherwise you are seriously contradicting yourself.

Jonathan Kolker said...

Lenoxus, I do not think that is what Jaks meant. I think he is accusing the author of this article of quote mining.