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Questions For Creationists - Atavisms And Genetic Leftovers

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#1 Darwin's Goldfish

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 07:02 PM

Hello all

I'm new to this site so my apologies in advance if this has been covered elsewhere, I had a quick look around but didn't find any good threads on it. I was curious to see if Creationists have a good explanation for features that are traditionally seen as "evolutionary leftovers". As an example, consider whales which evolutionists say evolved from land mammals. There were a few reasons for suspecting this even before any fossils or genetic evidence was uncovered:
  • They are mammals, and according to evolution mammals evolved on the land
  • The up-and-down motion they use while swimming is much more reminiscent of the spine of a running land animal than the side-to-side motion of a fish
  • They need to breathe air from the surface
Another couple of important points to note are that, according to evolution:
  • Whales evolved from land animals that would probably have had full coats of fur, much like most mammals today
  • Again, like most mammals today, they would have had external ear structures (not just a hole in the side of the head like lizards for example)
  • They would have also had front and hind limbs, again like mammals today
  • All the fist whales had teeth, and baleen whales evolved form toothed whales
Since these observations, we have discovered a number of features in whales that appear to be evolutionary leftovers from this path of development. Baleen whales, for example, exhibit the following:
  • They have the genes for making teeth. We know this because some baleen whales develop teeth while in the womb yet re-absorb them into their bodies before bith
  • They have the genes for growing full coats of body hair. We know this because many whales grow body hair in the womb but again they are lost before birth
  • They have muscles in the sides of their heads which would in most mammals be used for moving their external ears around (think of how cats are able to point their ears in the direction of a sound), however whales of course do not have any external ears
  • They have the genes for growing hind legs. We know this because they grow hind limb "buds" in the womb (like the ones that develop into their front flippers, but on the rear of the animal) but again they re-absorm them before birth
So my question for creationists is: why do they have these genes? Why do they have the genes for making hind limbs, teeth, and coats of fur when they do not have these features? And why do they have the muscles for moving ears they don't even have?

Please note that despite my (attempt at a) humorous user name I'm not a troll and I'm not committed to evolution or atheism. I'm an evolutionist because I think that's what the data points to and I'm an atheist because I haven't heard any convincing arguments for God. I could certainly change my mind on either of these topics because I think the truth is the most important thing, and I will gladly follow evicence and reason to whatever conclusion it leads.

Looking forward to hearing some responses!

#2 ikester7579

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 09:12 PM

Hello all

I'm new to this site so my apologies in advance if this has been covered elsewhere, I had a quick look around but didn't find any good threads on it. I was curious to see if Creationists have a good explanation for features that are traditionally seen as "evolutionary leftovers". As an example, consider whales which evolutionists say evolved from land mammals. There were a few reasons for suspecting this even before any fossils or genetic evidence was uncovered:

  • They are mammals, and according to evolution mammals evolved on the land
  • The up-and-down motion they use while swimming is much more reminiscent of the spine of a running land animal than the side-to-side motion of a fish
  • They need to breathe air from the surface
Another couple of important points to note are that, according to evolution:
  • Whales evolved from land animals that would probably have had full coats of fur, much like most mammals today
  • Again, like most mammals today, they would have had external ear structures (not just a hole in the side of the head like lizards for example)
  • They would have also had front and hind limbs, again like mammals today
  • All the fist whales had teeth, and baleen whales evolved form toothed whales
Since these observations, we have discovered a number of features in whales that appear to be evolutionary leftovers from this path of development. Baleen whales, for example, exhibit the following:
  • They have the genes for making teeth. We know this because some baleen whales develop teeth while in the womb yet re-absorb them into their bodies before bith
  • They have the genes for growing full coats of body hair. We know this because many whales grow body hair in the womb but again they are lost before birth
  • They have muscles in the sides of their heads which would in most mammals be used for moving their external ears around (think of how cats are able to point their ears in the direction of a sound), however whales of course do not have any external ears
  • They have the genes for growing hind legs. We know this because they grow hind limb "buds" in the womb (like the ones that develop into their front flippers, but on the rear of the animal) but again they re-absorm them before birth
So my question for creationists is: why do they have these genes? Why do they have the genes for making hind limbs, teeth, and coats of fur when they do not have these features? And why do they have the muscles for moving ears they don't even have?

Please note that despite my (attempt at a) humorous user name I'm not a troll and I'm not committed to evolution or atheism. I'm an evolutionist because I think that's what the data points to and I'm an atheist because I haven't heard any convincing arguments for God. I could certainly change my mind on either of these topics because I think the truth is the most important thing, and I will gladly follow evicence and reason to whatever conclusion it leads.

Looking forward to hearing some responses!


For all of this to be true there is only one question that has to be answered. What is the process in which "new" and "correct" information gets written so that the "new change" is done correctly? New and correct information does not just poof itself out of thin air to do all that you claim above. And video animation does not replace what cannot even be observed as real empirical evidence.

Your questions are based on the assumption that what you claim is true and can be empirically proven. Not one speck of it can even meet that criteria. It's assumed that this happened through interpretation (words) not observable provable evidence. If you have more than interpretation (words) to back it up with, then I have no problem addressing your questions. But let's be honest. Most of evolution and it's claims are based in word interpretation of evidence found that could mean more than one thing. But the reason all evidence will always support evolution is because:

1) It's always evolutionists that dig it up.
2) It's always evolutionists that make the interpretation to always support what they believe to be true,

Why would a evolutionists ever dig anything up and interpret that it supported anything else but evolution?

#3 Darwin's Goldfish

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Posted 10 February 2012 - 11:30 PM

Your questions are based on the assumption that what you claim is true and can be empirically proven. Not one speck of it can even meet that criteria. It's assumed that this happened through interpretation (words) not observable provable evidence.


Here are some sources on the whale features I mentioned:
Baleen whales with embryonic teeth:
http://www.seaworld....acteristics.htm
(see point no.7 on baleen whales)
http://creationwiki.org/Baleen_whale
(in the introductory paragraph)

Whales with embryonic hair
http://marinelife.ab.../whaleshair.htm

Whales (specifically dolphins, which are classed as a type of whale) showing embryonic hind limb buds
http://www.edwardtba...hind_limb_buds/
(scroll down about halfway)
http://whitelab.biol...er and Hall.pdf
(page 449)

Whales with muscles for moving their nonexistant external ears:
http://books.google....epage&q&f=false
(see page 83)

If you have more than interpretation (words) to back it up with, then I have no problem addressing your questions.


Then please do so. Can you tell me why these animals have these features?

#4 NewPath

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 12:04 AM

So my question for creationists is: why do they have these genes? Why do they have the genes for making hind limbs, teeth, and coats of fur when they do not have these features? And why do they have the muscles for moving ears they don't even have?


I thought this is a well thought out question, nice and challenging to us creationists. I checked your facts by looking at the skeletal structure of whales, and sure enough, whales have pelvic bones with no known function.

I am a committed creationist , and yet believe there have been signs of rapid micro-evolution in the 6000 years of existence of species. I believe the potential for macro-evolution is definitely there. I would say that God created mammals well suited to their environments, and a few special crossovers also well suited to their environment. ie mammals that can swim, fish that can fly, birds that can swim, fish that can crawl.

I believe the whale was created 100% mammal as you point out, with hair and teeth and ears. Genetically it is highly related to the hippo. In fact the hippo is more closely related to the whale than to a pig. And so using logical projection God possibly created the first whales like the manatee yet with small hind limbs for extra pushing along the shallow sea bottom (resembling a cross between a manatee/hippo). Due to rapid micro-evolution over the last 6000 years there has been some slight adaptation from this manatee/hippo of creation due to their preference for more extreme marine environments. Please google a picture of a manatee to see how closely this resembles a hippo.

Note: this is not a standard creationist point of view, I believe in rapid microevolution, possibly occurring faster than even evolutionists claim. Another example where you can see this is in the way large mammals have adapted to become small even in the 4300 years since the flood.

#5 Salsa

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 01:26 AM

I checked your facts by looking at the skeletal structure of whales, and sure enough, whales have pelvic bones with no known function.


Hi NewPath, I agree with some of your points :lol: but I am not sure about the "fact" that pelvice bones do not have a function.

"Everhard Johannes Slijper (1907–1968) was professor of general zoology at Amsterdam University, Netherlands. He was the world’s leading authority on whales. Chapter 2 of his classic work is entitled ‘Evolution and External Appearance.’ In it, he talks about a bone in whales that he calls the ‘pelvic bone,’ which is some 30 centimetres (12 inches) long, ‘but unlike the pelvis of normal mammals it is not attached to the vertebral column.’ This bone serves as an anchorage for the male reproductive organs. Slijper goes on to say that sometimes ‘another small bone may be attached to it.’ Being an evolutionist, he naturally interprets this smaller piece of bone as a throw-back to the femur, or thigh bone, of the whale’s evolutionary ancestor. However, he states that in these occasional cases, the bone in question is generally 2.5 cm (just over an inch) in length, and that it is sometimes ‘fused’ with the pelvic bone."

http://creation.com/...eg-on-the-whale

I also think that the idea that a land animal would turn into a sea dweller is incredibly far-fetched. What did it do? Go wading into the ocean untill its legs fell off? What could possibly make the sea so attractive to a land animal that instead of continuing to evolve on land like the rest of us, suddenly changed its mind and went back to swimming around in the sea long enough to sprout finns and so on?

It could hardly have been due to diet, because it would be much, much, much, much more likely that a land-dweller, that obviously already could sustain itself with the food on land, would continue to find food on land sooner than it would turn into a whale.

Animals have a variety of evolutionary survival alternatives - they could run faster, change diet, climb up trees, climb down trees, produce toxics that make them unidible, camoflage themselves and so on...

But all of these alternatives demand a great number of steps in one particular direction to achieve. What makes them go in that direction, and that direction alone, long enough to evolve specific traits?

At what point in the evolution of whales did the direction change from sea-to-land to go back in the other direction. Why then and not earlier? At what point in human development did evolution drive us to climb up trees, only to do a 180 degree turn and get us to climb down again? It seems that evolutionary development can change direction at any time at all. What determines the direction?

#6 NewPath

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 03:13 AM

This bone serves as an anchorage for the male reproductive organs. Slijper goes on to say that sometimes ‘another small bone may be attached to it.’ Being an evolutionist, he naturally interprets this smaller piece of bone as a throw-back to the femur, or thigh bone, of the whale’s evolutionary ancestor. However, he states that in these occasional cases, the bone in question is generally 2.5 cm (just over an inch) in length, and that it is sometimes ‘fused’ with the pelvic bone."


Good point here. So God kept the basic mammal structure consistent, creating the pelvic structure (and slight indications of legs) in whales to protect the reproductive organs.
(which makes my whole "hippo" projection redundant - lol)


Despite your point I still feel that the whale has undergone some slight micro-evolution changes since its initial creation as argued by the opening poster. (whales have differing quantities of teeth and hair). ie a loss of teeth and hair in some subspecies. Maybe you have an explanation for that too?

#7 JayShel

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 06:30 AM

Hello all

I'm new to this site so my apologies in advance if this has been covered elsewhere, I had a quick look around but didn't find any good threads on it. I was curious to see if Creationists have a good explanation for features that are traditionally seen as "evolutionary leftovers". As an example, consider whales which evolutionists say evolved from land mammals. There were a few reasons for suspecting this even before any fossils or genetic evidence was uncovered:

  • They are mammals, and according to evolution mammals evolved on the land
  • The up-and-down motion they use while swimming is much more reminiscent of the spine of a running land animal than the side-to-side motion of a fish
  • They need to breathe air from the surface
Another couple of important points to note are that, according to evolution:
  • Whales evolved from land animals that would probably have had full coats of fur, much like most mammals today
  • Again, like most mammals today, they would have had external ear structures (not just a hole in the side of the head like lizards for example)
  • They would have also had front and hind limbs, again like mammals today
  • All the fist whales had teeth, and baleen whales evolved form toothed whales
Since these observations, we have discovered a number of features in whales that appear to be evolutionary leftovers from this path of development. Baleen whales, for example, exhibit the following:
  • They have the genes for making teeth. We know this because some baleen whales develop teeth while in the womb yet re-absorb them into their bodies before bith
  • They have the genes for growing full coats of body hair. We know this because many whales grow body hair in the womb but again they are lost before birth
  • They have muscles in the sides of their heads which would in most mammals be used for moving their external ears around (think of how cats are able to point their ears in the direction of a sound), however whales of course do not have any external ears
  • They have the genes for growing hind legs. We know this because they grow hind limb "buds" in the womb (like the ones that develop into their front flippers, but on the rear of the animal) but again they re-absorm them before birth
So my question for creationists is: why do they have these genes? Why do they have the genes for making hind limbs, teeth, and coats of fur when they do not have these features? And why do they have the muscles for moving ears they don't even have?

Please note that despite my (attempt at a) humorous user name I'm not a troll and I'm not committed to evolution or atheism. I'm an evolutionist because I think that's what the data points to and I'm an atheist because I haven't heard any convincing arguments for God. I could certainly change my mind on either of these topics because I think the truth is the most important thing, and I will gladly follow evicence and reason to whatever conclusion it leads.

Looking forward to hearing some responses!


Dangit, you just proved evolution! NOW what am I gonna do with my life?

Just teasing. Good question though so in all seriousness, lets examine this further. Your assertions are that whales evolved from land dwelling mammals, and that there is proof of this from genetic leftovers that serve no biological function. Under the creationist worldview, God created everything, and all DNA is useful for some biological process, at least from the time of creation. Mutations may have degraded the genome, and specialization as a result of these mutations may have reduced the variety of traits available to one whale species. This sounds deceptively similar to evolution, but plays out more like devolution; a reduction of genetic information and variety.

To be scientific about this, we must examine if these features mentioned, teeth and hair in-utero, serve a biological function when they appear. I don't know this for a fact, but it would make sense that the teeth are needed for proper jaw formation.

To quote a website that you linked in post #3:

Since hair is not needed for warmth, scientists think the hair serves as a sensory structure, and may be used in social or S@xual situations, or for calves communicating a need to nurse.
LINK


So biologists line of thinking is that the hair serves a biological function. We may not know exactly what function it serves, but we cannot argue from our ignorance that these features do not serve a biological function. We can however, logically infer plausible biological functions and scientifically test them. Also, under creationist assumptions, God may have created whales with the ability to adapt to environments with genes for both baleen and teeth, or he may have used teeth that disappear to ensure proper formation of the jaw within baby whales. That would be the line of research I would pursue if I were a biologist studying whales. Hope this helps.

#8 Darwin's Goldfish

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 06:15 PM

Good responses everyone, correct me if I am wrong but essentially you are saying that these features might have functions of their own (in which case it would make sense that a designer included them) or that they are leftovers from some kind of de-volution (perhaps like the eyes in cave salamanders)?

I will have a go at answering some of UppsalaDragby’s questions:

"I also think that the idea that a land animal would turn into a sea dweller is incredibly far-fetched. What did it do? Go wading into the ocean untill its legs fell off? What could possibly make the sea so attractive to a land animal that instead of continuing to evolve on land like the rest of us, suddenly changed its mind and went back to swimming around in the sea long enough to sprout finns and so on?
It could hardly have been due to diet, because it would be much, much, much, much more likely that a land-dweller, that obviously already could sustain itself with the food on land, would continue to find food on land sooner than it would turn into a whale."

Evolution is driven mainly by the environment that an organism finds itself in. Environmental pressures such as a shortage of food on the land, an abundance of food in the water, a new predator arriving on land etc. could drive other animals into the water. It would necessarily have been fairly gradual, our hypothetical land-whale certainly wouldn’t have been fully terrestrial one minute and then taken up a fully aquatic lifestyle the next, only to have to wait a few million years while its fins and tail flukes developed. If whales did indeed evolve from land mammals it would have had to have been in stages - after the fully terrestrial stage it would have been a partially aquatic stage (otters live this kind of life today), and then something more aquatic still, with a lifestyle more like crocodiles or sea lions, and then an even more aquatic like true seals (which are very awkward on land) and eventually severing all ties with the land and becoming fully aquatic.

"Animals have a variety of evolutionary survival alternatives - they could run faster, change diet, climb up trees, climb down trees, produce toxics that make them unidible, camoflage themselves and so on..."

That’s true, and indeed most animals tend to do these sorts of things rather than return to the water. Even according to evolution the number of animals that have returned to the water is quite small (whales, seals and their relatives, manatees, turtles, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and to an extent marine iguanas are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head) while the number of animals that just adapted better to the land would be almost countless. Still, the existence of partially aquatic animals today makes me think it is certainly possible, and I think these leftovers support that.

"But all of these alternatives demand a great number of steps in one particular direction to achieve. What makes them go in that direction, and that direction alone, long enough to evolve specific traits?

At what point in the evolution of whales did the direction change from sea-to-land to go back in the other direction."


Well to be specific, the fossil evidence points to whales taking to the seas around 50 million years ago. For comparison, evolutionists believe that the first vertebrates that took to the land would have been primitive amphibians around 360 million years ago, so the ancestors of whales would have been living on the land for a long time before they returned to sea.

"Why then and not earlier?"

Very difficult to say, as evolution depends largely on environmental factors, it might have simply taken that long for a suitable situation to arise, probably one in which food shortages on land drive animals to forage in the water.

"At what point in human development did evolution drive us to climb up trees, only to do a 180 degree turn and get us to climb down again? It seems that evolutionary development can change direction at any time at all. What determines the direction?"

Unfortunately, although evolution is very good at making “retro-dictions” - things like "I bet if we dig here, in rocks of this age, we can find a fossil of an animal with these features" - it isn’t very good at making predictions of which direction an animal’s evolution will take. For example if a population of mammals were isolated in a cold environment, we could predict that they would become better adapted to the cold but not how it would happen. They might grow longer fur, they might get larger in size (thereby reducing their surface area relative to volume), they might alter their behaviour by huddling together for warmth, etc, but we wouldn’t know which of these directions, if any, they would take. It might depend on what mutations happen more often (is long hair more likely to arise than larger body size) etc. So to answer your question, the direction is largely determined by the environment.

Now, the reason I think these features are better explained by evolution is that they only appear in the kind of pattern that evolution predicts. According to evolution it is perfectly OK for a baleen whale to have the genes for making teeth because they evolved from an ancestor who had teeth, and the same goes for hind limbs, body hair, external ears etc. What we should NOT find are the genes for making feathers for example, or arthropod-style exoskeletons, because whales did not evolve from an ancestor who had either of these features. Have a look at this simplified phylogenetic tree:

http://www.freeimagehosting.net/rsrm2

Now, if would be perfectly OK if birds had the genes for making teeth and long, dinosaur-like tails, because they evolved from dinosaurs which had teeth and long tails. What we should NOT find are birds with the genes for making mammary glands or placentas or anything like that, because birds did not evolve from animals with these features. These features are on a completely separate branch of the evolutionary tree. Evolution says that its fine to inherit features from further down the trunk of the tree, but you can’t inherit features directly across from other branches. It’s not so much the raw similarities and differences in animals as it is the pattern they fall into, which is a perfect nested hierarchy. We could even derive some more rules just by looking at this tree, for example: no arthropod can have feathers, or mammary glands, or a placenta. We know this because those features appear directly across from arthropods, not below them on the trunk. A feature right at the base of the tree could be something like a brain, which all the animals on this tree will have because the animal at the very base of the tree had a brain. Not all animals have them of course, jellyfish and sponges for example do not, because they branch off even earlier than arthropods, before brains evolved. This nested hierarchy is a very powerful tool for explaining evolution and is one of the reasons I think these genetic leftovers speak more strongly in favour of evolution than design.

#9 JayShel

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Posted 11 February 2012 - 08:13 PM

What we should NOT find are birds with the genes for making mammary glands or placentas or anything like that, because birds did not evolve from animals with these features. (emphasis added)


Above in bold is the current understanding/paradigm of evolutionists, but this evolutionary tree is not set in stone. Let me explain. If you DID find an bird with mammary glands, or a whale with feathers in the fossil record, then your understanding of HOW "evolution happened" would change, and so would the diagram. This pursuit of a fossil outside of current paradigms would not falsify evolution, so it is a dead end for creationists, and so you are just dangling a carrot.

This diagram relies on the belief that there is a genetic mechanism for evolution that would allow for common ancestry to happen; steadily adding new information to the genome and modifying other genetic information in such a way that critical failure of an organism would not occur before new and useful bio-mechanisms arise from this process. The most common mechanism cited as a genetic mechanism for evolution is mutation, but inevitably, mutation degrades the bio-mechanisms of an organism faster than it adds new bio-mechanisms (if it adds new bio-mechanisms at all, which also has not been observed/proven). Since the genetic mechanism needed for common ancestry has not been discovered, you do not have solid proof of evolution. All you have is a belief/faith founded on the idea that "evolution happened (presupposition/bias), therefore we will eventually prove it by discovering the mechanisms that cause it" (a logical fallacy called argumentum ad futuris), and you are satisfied by this, yet deny that it takes faith to believe. This is what Creationists object to. All this time, you rail against Christians for having a faith in the Bible. We consider the Bible a historical testimony/revelation, so we use this as a scientific guideline for historical (forensic) science, not experimental science. Evolution is not the only explanation for the diversity of life today, despite it being the only explanation offered in public schools. Our assertion is that homology in DNA implies a common Creator.

You say that there are genetic leftovers:

This nested hierarchy is a very powerful tool for explaining evolution and is one of the reasons I think these genetic leftovers speak more strongly in favour of evolution than design. (emphasis added)


You have essentially prematurely halted investigation (or curiosity) into possible biological functions of these traits in-utero, and stated "these features have no biological purpose" so you can claim victory for evolution. As I pointed out in post #7 this is an argument from ignorance, which is a logical fallacy:

Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or "appeal to ignorance" (where "ignorance" stands for: "lack of evidence to the contrary"), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false, it is "generally accepted" (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to prove the proposition satisfactorily to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).[1] In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof. (bold added)
LINK



#10 Salsa

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 12:39 AM

Now, if would be perfectly OK if birds had the genes for making teeth and long, dinosaur-like tails, because they evolved from dinosaurs which had teeth and long tails.


I think birds have bird-like tails and dinosaurs have dinosaur-like tails. And what do teeth prove? Lots of animals have them. Cats have them, dogs have them, I have them, and hopefully you have them. The same goes with tails (although I don't have one, vestigial or otherwise).

Similarities between different animals and grouping and classifying them is being presented as evidence of evolution. But we could find similarities between all kinds of things on earth and classify them into some kind of tree, despite the fact that they were designed.

If we fossilized all the animals living on the earth today and sorted them into layers then someone living in the future could make the same kind of claims as evolutionists today. You just have to use your imagination and a whole lot of could-have's.

#11 jason

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Posted 12 February 2012 - 04:56 AM

lol, all but coulda diddas and one big presto change and viola here we are.

#12 Darwin's Goldfish

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 05:13 AM

Hi everyone, sorry I can’t reply too quickly but I am quite busy these days. There are some good points you guys made! I will try to address…

“Above in bold is the current understanding/paradigm of evolutionists, but this evolutionary tree is not set in stone. Let me explain. If you DID find an bird with mammary glands, or a whale with feathers in the fossil record, then your understanding of HOW "evolution happened" would change, and so would the diagram. This pursuit of a fossil outside of current paradigms would not falsify evolution, so it is a dead end for creationists, and so you are just dangling a carrot.”

I agree to a point, but there are two important points to make here. The first is that yes, the theory of evolution, like all sciences, can change as new observations are made. This is why I am more inclined to trust it than religious creation accounts - evolution can correct itself it it finds itself to be wrong, and consequently get closer and closer to the truth. Creationism, like any faith based belief, cannot, because once written, the scriptures are forbidden to be changed. If it is wrong at the start it will remain exactly that wrong, forever. Even you cannot escape the conclusion that the vast majority of faith based beliefs are wrong, for you do not believe the creation accounts of the Egyptians, the Norse, the Mayans, the Aboriginal Australians, the Hopi, the Mbombo, the Ngai etc. the list could go on for some time! Seeing as these accounts are all mutually exclusive, you must admit that at the very least most faith based accounts are wrong. And since they must be taken on faith and already have what they believe to be the whole story they do not look for more evidence. I have heard some people argue that science is always changing but the Bible is forever therefore they do not trust science. However while they see the mutability of science as its weakness, I see it as a great strength. Simply put, if you are wrong in science, you can change your mind so that you are right. This is why science and reason gradually get closer and closer to the truth with each new discovery while faith stays exactly the same distance from the truth as it always was, unless of course it happened to be right all along. This is why I distrust faith - not faithful people but the principal of faith itself. I hope I haven't offended Christians here, because I have nothing against people who honestly believe that Christianity is the way because they have weighed up the evidence and really think that it's the best fit. Hey if that's the case I want to hear from them because I might be wrong and in that case I should change my mind! What I don't agree with is the principal of picking a predetermined position and then defending it against any and all evidence to the contrary, and this is as far as I can see, exactly what Creationism is and does. If you think I am wrong here and that Creationism is science, then can you give me an example of how Creationism could change or has changed in the light of a new discovery?

The second point is that while evolution is changeable, there are some changes that would force so drastic a revision that I don’t think we would even call it the same theory anymore! To put this into perspective, it was once thought that megachiroptera (large bats) were more closely related to the colugo (a kind of gliding lemur) while microchiroptera (small bats) were closer to insectivores. However it was recently discovered through genetic analysis that small and large bats are both closer to each other than any other group and so the phylogenetic tree had to be revised to bring them closer together. This was unexpected, however it wasn’t a huge problem because they are all fairly similar animals so determining their relatedness based on morphology alone is always somewhat inaccurate, and genetics typically has the last word on these things. A bird with mammary glands or a mammal with feathers, however, would be such a drastic change I think the whole mechanism of evolution would need major revision. That is of course assuming it was not thrown out entirely! The family trees of mammals and birds are so well supported that there really isn’t room for this kind of thing, it would either require some kind of completely unknown and utterly revolutionary mechanism of horizontal gene transfer, or it would mean that our whole mechanism of constructing trees based on the hierarchies of traits would be utterly wrong. Either way, big changes, possibly theory wrecking changes. It would be very difficult to explain. Of course, I’m not expecting Creationists to go out looking for a mammal with the genes for making feathers but who knows, as more and more genomes are sequenced we may find one!

“You have essentially prematurely halted investigation (or curiosity) into possible biological functions of these traits in-utero, and stated "these features have no biological purpose" so you can claim victory for evolution. As I pointed out in post #7 this is an argument from ignorance, which is a logical fallacy:”

I called them leftovers yes, but that’s because they look very much like what I would expect a genetic leftover to look. While I fully agree that an argument from ignorance is not a good argument, I disagree that what I said constitutes one. Take a hypothetical situation here - suppose every single tenet of evolution was proved wrong tomorrow - mutations were found to be impossible, natural selection was proved not to exist, the earth proved beyond a shadow of a doubt to be 6000 years old and Angels descended from heaven to hand out fresh copies of genesis to everyone in the world (note I am not saying Creationists believe all these things, but it would certainly wreck evolution, which is all I’m trying to suggest here). Now suppose I were to say “Look, I still believe that everything evolved.” You challenge me to justify my claim, and I reply with “We don’t know how it evolved, but if you say it didn’t, that’s just an argument from ignorance!” and while I might technically be right, no-one would take me seriously. The claim of “argument from ignorance” has its limits. I maintain the burden of proof rests on those making the positive claim, and I would therefore challenge you to come up with a use for the ear muscles in whales which in most mammals are used to move external ears.

“Similarities between different animals and grouping and classifying them is being presented as evidence of evolution. But we could find similarities between all kinds of things on earth and classify them into some kind of tree, despite the fact that they were designed.”

Not in the same way. This is one of the main reasons I don’t think life was designed – if you make a phylogenetic tree out of designed objects it does not look like the tree of life at all. For example, you might start making a tree of cars from the invention of the first car through the early designs of various manufacturers, however I guarantee you they would not fit a hierarchy of derived traits. You might start off with a base form which has an engine, transmission to 2 rear wheels and drum brakes. This could “evolve”, if you like, into a number of early cars which used this setup, each on their own branch of the tree. They continue to evolve as different manufacturers play with their designs. Then, one of the manufacturers invents disk brakes. They’re fitted to one car on one branch of the car tree of life. They are, however, much better than drums and soon every manufacturer is using them in their new models even though their old models didn’t have them. A similar thing happens when air conditioning is invented – it rapidly spreads to all the branches. Real life evolution cannot allow this. It would be like if the first birds evolved feathers and the mammals decided “hey, that’s really good insulation, we should get those too!”. Bats especially would find them useful, however they do not have them. Designers can and do use this method in real life, however evolution could neither produce nor permit it. This is why I don’t think the phylogenetic tree of life looks designed – when we apply the same principals to objects we know have been designed (by humans) it does not work. Phylogeny is one of the ideas I find most convincing about evolution, and for this reason. It looks exactly like a family tree, and not like the artificial trees we can construct from items which were designed.

#13 jason

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 07:32 AM

weak analogy on cars as ns has no purpose the car designer has a purpose. building a car and one that will sell.

#14 JayN319

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 10:14 AM

Hey all! First time poster here. Sorry to join the party late but this has developed into a pretty interesting discussion!

Some pretty solid points made on both ends but I feel that there may be some misunderstanding as well.


I think birds have bird-like tails and dinosaurs have dinosaur-like tails. And what do teeth prove? Lots of animals have
them. Cats have them, dogs have them, I have them, and hopefully you have them. The same goes with tails (although I don't
have one, vestigial or otherwise).


While birds do have bird-like tails and dinosaurs have dinosaur-like tails, I think the point being made here is that
genetic information is retained and passed on for many generations, so while certain traits are expressed phenotypically in
certain organisms (i.e birds), their genotype also reflects their ancestry (i.e dinosaurs). In terms of many animals
having teeth - they certainly do (and many different types for that matter), but I think the main point being made here is that
Baleen Whales do not have teeth yet they carry the genetic coding to produce them. Intelligent Design states that all living things on the planet should in theory, inhabit a niche they were designed for, being equipped with the tools needed to cope with their environment. This leads me to wonder why a designer would
include this type of unnecessary and extreme baggage, unless a mistake was made in design? From an evolutionary perspective, it makes
sense to see the presense of these unused genes in whales (and many other organisms for that mater), as geneticists and zoologists have theorized that whales share a common ancestor with land dwelling mammals that would have used teeth, ear muscles, etc. Hard evidence of this can be found in the fossil record which can be further backed up genetically, through the molecular clock, which demonstrates the genetic relationship between whales and land mammals.


As Jayshel mentioned earlier, there are often instances when the expression of certain traits may not serve an obvious roll. A good example can be found in the appearance of feathers in the fossil record, which are considered an exaptation in modern birds today: the first feathers were found in flightless dinoasaurs, probably for thermoregulation or S@xual selection. Smaller dinosaurs that retained this trait after the mass extinction may have used them to aid in locomotion over short distances or perhaps to assist in hunting down flying insects (again by gliding over short distances. See Archaeopteryx). In any case, we see feathers in birds today because they have inherited them from an ancestor. If we saw them in distant flying relatives such as bats or winged insects, there would be a problem seeing as they do not descend from dinosaurs. As for the whale example, there really doesn't appear to be an apparent use for the vestigial ear muscles. Your idea of the teeth being used in the development of the jaw I admit is unfamiliar to me, especially because most mammals see their milk teeth erupt well after they are born and the jaw/mandible is fully fused, but if you have some type of literature that supports this I'm interested.

To Jason, I think the bit he mentined on cars was suposed to demonstrate how a tree based on design should in fact look different from a natural one, if you re-read the whole thing.

#15 jason

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 10:52 AM

not really, at beast only to american cars but each car also has slight variations to deal with power and stopping.

honda automatics arent automatics at all but solenoid controlled manual with a eprom that does the shifting for you. this design last longer. it also has a torque converter. there are myraids of designs that are used in ac compressor.

hardly a tree if we did it that way.

#16 jason777

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 11:03 AM

Here are some sources on the whale features I mentioned:
Baleen whales with embryonic teeth:
http://www.seaworld....acteristics.htm
(see point no.7 on baleen whales)
http://creationwiki.org/Baleen_whale
(in the introductory paragraph)

Whales with embryonic hair
http://marinelife.ab.../whaleshair.htm

Whales (specifically dolphins, which are classed as a type of whale) showing embryonic hind limb buds
http://www.edwardtba...hind_limb_buds/
(scroll down about halfway)
http://whitelab.biol...0and%20Hall.pdf
(page 449)

Whales with muscles for moving their nonexistant external ears:
http://books.google....epage&q&f=false
(see page 83)

  • Baleen whales have attachments for their balleen. Theses attachment points develop first and are mistakingly called teeth.
  • Whales, like elephants, have huge ear bones that allow them to hear ultra low frquencies from miles away.
  • Hair is a mammalian trait and is not unexpected that whales would have hair.
  • The reproductive bones of whales could not be a vestigal pelvis unless the spinal chord seperated in two and fused back together at a later time.
  • In short, not a single one of these traits is unexpected, vestigal, or atavistic.
Enjoy.

#17 Salsa

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:33 PM

For example, you might start making a tree of cars from the invention of the first car through the early designs of various manufacturers, however I guarantee you they would not fit a hierarchy of derived traits. You might start off with a base form which has an engine, transmission to 2 rear wheels and drum brakes. This could “evolve”, if you like, into a number of early cars which used this setup, each on their own branch of the tree. They continue to evolve as different manufacturers play with their designs. Then, one of the manufacturers invents disk brakes. They’re fitted to one car on one branch of the car tree of life. They are, however, much better than drums and soon every manufacturer is using them in their new models even though their old models didn’t have them.


This is a complete missundertanding on your part. You are assuming the development of cars follows the evolutionary model. It should be conspicuously obvious, since I am a creationist, that it is the creationist model that I base my argument on!

Obviously, I could design a broad range of products that I develop and market simultaneously, not over a range of years with different designers competing against each other!

For example, let's say I develop different kinds of pots, differnt kinds of pans, various knives, forks, spoons, other objects related to cutlery and kitchen utensils all at the same time (the creationist model).

How hard would it be to arrange these things in some kind of logical structure and claim that the existence of changing trends in design over time is evidence that these objects developed?

By cleverly arranging these object in the way I want ot arrange them I can form the kind of trees that support my theory.

Kitchen utensils is an incredible simplification and the "branches" would therefore seem a little forced. But having millions of different organisms to play around with it would obviously make the task much easier.

#18 jason

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:38 PM

that is why ones world's view and the evidence is taken in a bias to the naturalist or creationist. both are by faith. one has more logical truth and constinancy to it,whereby, the other in general operates under "deep time" and has such a strong paradign that it cant be dismissed despite the evidence.

i tried to make the case with my brother who is an ocer.

#19 Salsa

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 12:46 PM

I think the point being made here is that genetic information is retained and passed on for many generations, so while certain traits are expressed phenotypically in certain organisms (i.e birds), their genotype also reflects their ancestry (i.e dinosaurs).


Hi Jay, and welcome!

My understanding of genetics is relatively poor, so you will have to excuse my ignorance, but I kind of get the feeling that the assumption made here is that genetic information is always and exclusively claimed to be evidence of ancestry and never common design.

If that is the case then that kind of argument would obviously presuppose that evolution is true and creationism false. Is that a correct assessment of what you are saying?

#20 Salsa

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 01:39 PM

The first is that yes, the theory of evolution, like all sciences, can change as new observations are made. This is why I am more inclined to trust it than religious creation accounts - evolution can correct itself it it finds itself to be wrong, and consequently get closer and closer to the truth. Creationism, like any faith based belief, cannot, because once written, the scriptures are forbidden to be changed. If it is wrong at the start it will remain exactly that wrong, forever.


The assumption you make here seems to lean toward the conclusion that the Bible is wrong to start with.

Otherwise you wouldnt settle on something else that you obviously know is almost guaranteed to be wrong, even though you believe that is is "improving".

Later on in your post you name other religions as if that alone was evidence that the Bible is not a trustworthy document.

Shouldn't every document stand on its own merits? In this regard the Bible is completely unique in the claims it makes and the way in which it validates its claims. If you know of any other documents, secular or religious, that competes with the predictions and fulfillments made by the Bible then please present them.

Also there is an incredible flaw in your reasoning that is very difficult to detect.

Even though it might seem to be a watertight case to claim that since science "corrects its mistakes" inevitably it brings you "closer to the truth". Actually, there is NO guarantee that this is so.

Any number of "truths" can lead anyone in the wrong direction.

It depends on the number of "truths" you possess in relation to the number of truths that you are not aware of.

It also requires that your interpretation of these truths is also correct.

But it doesn't even stop there, because there is actually nothing preventing you from incorrectly interpreting millions and millions of isolated "truths" upon one assumption that happens to be false.





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