Science v Intelligent Design: Whales illustrate intelligent design

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Just when you think that you have heard it all, an Intelligent Design supporter makes the claim that Whales illustrate intelligent design. I kid you not.

We are surrounded by evidence of intelligent design. Take but one example: the suckling mechanism of the whale. The whale is a mammal which suckles its young underwater. It does so by means of a watertight cap around the mother’s nipple which fits tightly around the baby’s snout so as not to allow the entrance of sea water. Such a mechanism does not allow of a transitional form which adapts slowly to its environment. It does not allow for a gradual evolutionary process. It must exist perfectly formed for the purpose or the baby whale dies. How else could such a mechanism exist if not brought about by an intelligent and purposeful creative force?

Nick Matzke documented a likely origin for this claim

What is even more funny is how people at UcD respond to this news… Check out Born Again’s flawed understanding of vestigial organs:

…. some modern whales have a pair of bones embedded in their tissues, each of which strengthens the pelvic wall and acts as an organ anchor.

Carl Wieland- 1998

Seems like the useless leftover legs actually have purpose in the whale!

With the appendix finding purpose in humans it seems the Evolutionists seem to be running out of vestigial parts to point to as proof for their cherished lie!

Is this the best ID has to offer? Well, it can get worse, just check out Dembski and Denyse O’leary’s comments about eugenics and Darwinism at UcD.

Children you have been warned, this is a ‘brain on ID’…

What does this person expect? That the whale mother evolved independently from it’s off spring?

We learn some more about the nursing behavior of whales at this link

Actually, that’s a great question and it’s not one that we know everything about. The mammary glands of a female whale are located on either side of the genital slit, which is on the underside of the animal back towards the tail. A major difference between whales and land mammals is that the former’s mammary glands contain what are called compressor muscles, which the mother uses to actively pump milk into the mouth of the calf (i.e. it’ isn’t passive, with the kid doing most of the work by suckling). This undoubtedly evolved as a means of getting around the obvious problems you’re thinking of, concerning suckling in an aquatic environment.

As for the posture: there is a gap between the two racks of baleen inthe mouth of large whales (except, of course, the sperm whale, which is a toothed whale), and it is through this gap that the calf suckles. Or rather, has milk pumped into its mouth; whether there is active sucking on the part of the calf we don’t know, but given that this would help matters, there probably is to some extent.

Undoubtedly calves swallow some seawater in the process, and we really dont know how they minimize salt water intake. One hazard of this is that it is probably during nursing sessions that whales take in larval parasites. There may be rather high mortality in young animals or yearlings since the young immune system is “naive” or not fully developed at this time.

93 Comments

And yet, ID proponents feel no need to explain why an intelligent designer would bother to design an aquatic animal that is incapable of extracting oxygen from water.

Is this the best ID has to offer?

yes, yes it is.

…but you already knew that.

ID is just the usual Argument from Ignorance and Incredulity. Given the complexity of the biosphere they could pick out examples for centuries. Oh, wait, they have been doing this since before Darwin, 150 years and counting.

It’s boring and leads nowhere.

They’ve ignored the fossil record which shows early whales with legs, what you expect for a transitional form between land and water. Plus the DNA and embryological data.

And occasionally today, whales and dolphins are found with atavistic…legs.

It only shows how IDiots are willing to lie and show off their ignorance. Most whales have no legs, and all whales have no lungs, yet they are ocean dwellers who cannot live on land at all. Only an idiot would design a whale like that. And only an idiot would beleive in such an idiotic designer as well.

It only shows how IDiots are willing to lie and show off their ignorance. Most whales have no legs, and all whales have no lungs, yet they are ocean dwellers who cannot live on land at all. Only an idiot would design a whale like that. And only an idiot would beleive in such an idiotic designer as well.

Now let’s see, if I’m an intelligent designer, how would I design an aquatic mammal? Would I give the females caps that the young could use for suckling? No, actually I think that I would put the nipples higher up on the body so that the young could suckle out of the water. Or maybe I would give the females long tubes, sort of elaborate nipples, that the young could put into their mouths to avoid ingesting sea water. Or maybe I would have them reared in nurseries in underwater caves so that they could feed out of the water. Or maybe I would know better than to try to have marine mammals in the first place and just have the young fed by regurgitation as in penguins.

Come on, really. The cap is obviously an add on that could be advantageous in intermediate forms. It might even be the best that evolution could be expected to do given historical contingency. It certainly is not the best that an intelligent designer could do, given even a little bit of planning and foresight. Why have aquatic mammals at all when fish and sharks do just fine without breasts? If you can interpret this as intelligent design you can rationalize anything. You could even say that the baleen was intelligently designed when obviously a really intelligent designer would have just given the whales fishing boats and nets. Then they could fight back against the whalers a little better as well.

“all whales have no lungs”

might want to clarify that typo

It only shows how IDiots are willing to lie and show off their ignorance. Most whales have no legs, and all whales have lungs but no gills, yet they are ocean dwellers who cannot live on land at all. Only an idiot would design a whale like that. And only an idiot would beleive in such an idiotic designer as well.

Please delete the last two comments of mine. OUCH!

if I’m an intelligent designer,

If I’m an intelligent designer… I wouldn’t make a universe that is mostly empty of life. I would make the Earth flat and its surface stretch into infinity, with some air and light source above.

Better make that light source go dark for a period btw, I choose Homo sapiens having sex in open daylight to be immoral. So, um, let’s invent sleep to explain that.

Hmm. Wouldn’t that make me an abrahamic prechristian god?

might want to clarify that typo

Luckily it wasn’t a creationist, so the whales may not need to hold their breath.

Hooray for saving the whales!

I’d give ‘em laser-shooting eyeballs, yeah! yeah! And cool-looking flames on their flanks, like a hot rod!

the new ID: Immature Design.

Another thread that sucks! Perhaps the Disco gang can now explain male nipples.

Only an idiot would design a whale like that.

Every time the DI opens their mouths on Intelligent Design they seem to come up with more indisputable proof that the Designer is actually a moron. If I was the Designer, I’d be getting mighty irritated by now.

Conclusion: neither whales nor ID have legs to stand on. :)

Henry

They might want to check out The Whale Kiosk

an Intelligent Design supporter makes the claim that Whales illustrate intelligent design.

What is with the creationists and their whales?

I seem to remember that a while ago whales used to be a favorite chant of (IIRC) Gish. Something moronic like “Where did the whales come from - if they’re descended from land animals all their ancestors would have drowned before they could ever grow flippers”.

The irony is, of course, that whales eventually turned out to have one of the best-documented transitions of all, largely because their ancestors had the good fortune (though not from their perspective, perhaps) to die in shallow bodies of water where their skeletons were often well preserved.

There are actually far more well-dated transitional proto-whales available for study than there are human ancestors.

Just when you think that you have heard it all, an Intelligent Design supporter makes the claim that Whales illustrate intelligent design. I kid you not.

Well of course. Everything illustrates intelligent design. There is nothing that does not illustrate intelligent design. Even our location in the galaxy illustrates intelligent design. Shrug!

The best essay on whale evolution and creationists, is by Stephen Jay Gould (of course):
Hooking Leviathan by Its Past

My favorite line: Still, our creationist incubi, who would never let facts spoil a favorite argument…

As a summary for the above comments:

“If I were God, I would have done it much better”

As a summary for the above comments:

“If I had been in God’s place, I would have done it much better”

Lots of questions arise when we consider a land dwelling mammal slowly turning into an exclusively sea dwelling animal:

1. Why would he want to “get back into water” ?

2. When did suckling apparatus supposedly evolve? Was it while the land mammal was evolving into a water mammal? Was it after it was totally aquatic?

3. Was the locomotion system evolving at the same time, and in total sync with the breast feeding system?

4. Was the seeing system evolving at the same time as well?

5. Whales are voluntary breathers, who have an highly sophisticated system to help them preserve oxygen (for example, in their muscles). Was this system evolving at the same time that the locomotion, the seeing, the suckling apparatus were evolving ?

6. The nostrils of the whale are placed on its back. How did it evolve all the way there, from the place it is in many land mammals? Let me guess: “Slow and gradual steps!”, right?

7. Back to the suckling system. The text says:

“a watertight cap around the mother’s nipple which fits tightly around the baby’s snout so as not to allow the entrance of sea water”

Whatever happened to all those babies who had to suckle on a nipple that was not “water proof”? (Was there any?) Did they have to wait for millions of years until (finally!) natural selection gave the mother a watertight cap around her nipple?

8. Still concerning locomotion, what about the fusiform? Did it evolve at the same time, and at the same rate, as the other systems mentioned above (specially, the breathing apparatus, since whales have their nostrils on the back) ?

9. Finally, how could we falsify the belief that whales evolved from a land mammal?

I am sure many questions could be added to these.

Mats didn’t even bother to read the Gould essay, did he? The ignorance, it burns.

Mats:

As a summary for the above comments:

“If I had been in God’s place, I would have done it much better”

Pretty much, yeah. Pretty surprising that we can think of improvements over your omniscient god, eh?

By the way, when is he going to get around to intelligently designing my spine so that I don’t have to deal with at least one day a week with crippling pain?

Lots of questions arise when we consider a land dwelling mammal slowly turning into an exclusively sea dwelling animal:

1. Why would he want to “get back into water”?

Land animals go back to the water all the time, RM/NS. Most would be called amphibious right now, but who knows, in 10 million years, they could be called “transitional” forms. Beavers, otters, seals, walruses, sea lines, penguins, sea otters, sea snakes, etc..

In the fossil record, reptiles did it 2 or 3 times, mosasaurs, icthyosaurs, pleisiosaurs. Oddly enough, two of those clades ended up looking a lot like dolphins.

Land animals have also taken to the air, pterosaurs, birds, bats. Flying animals have taken to the ground, ostriches.

Fish have eventually turned into intelligent tool users.

Intelligent tool users have given rise to unintelligent creationists.

ID is boring. The real world is several orders of magnitude more complicated and interesting than their model. Their answer to every question imaginable is the same. Some old guy waved a magic wand and went “poof”. They’ve been saying magic man “poof” for 150 years now.

What’s the point? Why don’t they just program a computer or parrot to say, “magic man, poof”. Of course, then they would have to go out and get real jobs.

Lots of questions arise when we consider a land dwelling mammal slowly turning into an exclusively sea dwelling animal…

Lots of questions arise when we consider a sea dwelling animal being poofed into existence by a supernatural being with all the physiological indications that it evolved from a land mammal over millions of years. Unfortunately for the status of the goddidit assertion, none of these questions are answerable by science, even in principle, which is why “goddidit” is scientifically useless.

It’s too bad that when certain people find science’s findings to be in conflict with their religious beliefs, they choose to attack science instead of dealing with the problems apparently inherent in their own personal theologies. Mats is obviously too ignorant to understand that MET didn’t get to where it is as a result of a diabolical scientific conspiracy to create a rhetorical weapon with which to attack religion, but as a result of thousands of individual (and historically, largely religiously devout) scientists realizing that the evidence involving the origins of biological diversity point inexorably away from the long-held assumptions of supernatural intervention and special creation, and toward the natural evolution of all life from a common ancestor. Because of the superstitious beliefs he chooses to hold, Mats hates this fact, and must dishonestly attack this single branch of evolutionary science and impugn the motives of its practitioners, even while implicitly accepting the many many other theories science has generated and confirmed using the exact same means–resulting in technologies which benefit him every day and make his very existence possible. Pathetic, really.

1. Why would he want to “get back into water”?

Perhaps the whale was a creationist, like Mats, and didn’t know that it had come from the water.

Mats, when you were recently accused of lying, you admitted it, then tried to justify it. You’ve repeatedly proven that you have the mentality of an obnoxious junior-high mouth-breather, whose word is absolutely worthless; and you have brought nothing of value to any adult debate on this blog. Now go back to bed and stop pretending to be an adult, or a Christian.

1. Why would he want to “get back into water”?

As the late Sam Kinnison once shrieked: “Move to where the food is!”

Mats said:

6. The nostrils of the whale are placed on its back. How did it evolve all the way there, from the place it is in many land mammals? Let me guess: “Slow and gradual steps!”, right?

If you have actually looked at an accurate picture of a whale, you would realize that the nostrils are actually on the top of its head, not its back.

It does so by means of a watertight cap around the mother’s nipple which fits tightly around the baby’s snout so as not to allow the entrance of sea water. Such a mechanism does not allow of a transitional form which adapts slowly to its environment.

That’s what passes for argument in the ID camp? That’s pathetic. The lips of a human baby are just as capable of forming a “watertight cap.” (Perhaps if those oh-so-uptight Christians were a bit less squeamish about breasts and breast-feeding, they’d remember this.) So it’s quite possible that the species from which whales evolved had that “watertight cap” feature BEFORE they went aquatic.

Even then, you misinterpret the quote. Darwin was suggesting that whales and bears shared a common ancestor, not that whales could arise from modern bears.

I’ve never read it like this. To me, it has always seemed that he was answering critics who said that whales could not have evolved by throwing out a way in which they could have evolved, not necessarily from a bear but from any largish mammal, without suggesting that they are specifically descended from bears.

Besides, whales are after all smarter than the average bear.

Richard, I could have got it a bit wrong. My memory of that part is hazy at best. The point still stands, though, that Mats was trying to set up a strawman that Darwin thought that whales evolved from bears, and then make fun of it.

However, I think you may find that whales and bears do share a common ancestor. Somewhere in the Triassic, maybe, since they are both mammals.

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This page contains a single entry by PvM published on October 17, 2007 11:56 AM.

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