Honest creationist Kurt Wise on transitional fossils

| 85 Comments

I rediscovered a 1995 article by creationist paleontologist Kurt Wise in response to a question I got this morning. I discovered to my surprise that the article is online, but, probably because almost no one reads creationist articles, no one had commented on it.

Wise basically gives away the whole game by conceding that the fossil record does contain numerous examples of transitional series bridging major transitions. His only qualm is in the very small species-to-species transitions where (like Gould, his PhD advisor) he says the fossil record has a more punctuated pattern. (As far as I’ve heard, scientific meta-analyses are about split 50-50 across various groups about whether the fossil record is punctuated or smooth at this level; at any rate, these small differences between species should be irrelevant to creationists, since this level of change is well within the “microevolution within a kind” (usually a taxonomic family or so) which creationists readily accept.)

A scanned PDF of the article is online here. Click the “Ape-men, bird-lizards, and walking whales” circle and a link to the article comes up. After reading the article, one can’t help saying, “Why don’t you just GIVE UP already!!” Of course, we know the reason why: Kurt Wise has forthrightly stated that his adherence to Biblical literalism comes first, and if the physical evidence is against creationism, so much the worse for the evidence. This is why Richard Dawkins dubbed Wise “an honest creationist.”

A passage from the article below the fold:

[p. 218]

In various macroevolutionary models, stratomorphic intermediates might be expected to be any one or more of several different forms: –

(a) inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates;

(b) stratomorphic intermediate species;

(c} higher-taxon stratomorphic intermediates; and

(d) stratomorphic [intermediate] series.

As an example (and to provide informal definitions), if predictions from Darwin’s theory were re-stated in these terms, one would expect to find: –

(a) numerous stratomorphic intermediates between any ancestor-descendent species pair (numerous interspecific stratomorphic intermediates);

(b) species which were stratomorphic intermediates between larger groups (stratomorphic intermediate species);

(c} taxonomic groups above the level of species which were stratomorphic intermediates between other pairs of groups (higher-taxon stratomorphic intermediates); and

(d) a sequence of species or higher taxa in a sequence where each taxon is a stratomorphic intermediate between the taxa stratigraphically below and above it (stratomorphic series).

With this vocabulary as a beginning, the traditional transitional forms issue can be gradually transformed into a non-traditional form, more suitable to the creationist researcher.

It is a Very Good Evolutionary Argument

Of Darwinism’s four stratomorphic intermediate expectations, that of the commonness of inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has been the most disappointing for classical Darwinists. The current lack of any certain inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has, of course, led to the development and increased acceptance of punctuated equilibrium theory. Evidences for Darwin’s second expectation - of stratomorphic intermediate species - include such species as Baragwanathia27 (between rhyniophytes and lycopods), Pikaia28 (between echinoderms and chordates), Purgatorius29 (between the tree shrews and the primates), and Proconsul30 (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 groups31 between the reptiles and the mammals, and the phenacdontids32 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,33 the tetrapod series,34,35 the whale series,36 the various mammal series of the Cenozoic37 (for example, the horse series, the camel series, the elephant series, the pig series, the titanothere series, etc.), the Cantius and

[p. 219]

Plesiadapus primate series,38 and the hominid series.39 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.

[p. 221]

REFERENCES

5. Wise, K. P., 1994. Australopithecus ramidus and the fossil record. CEN Tech. J., 8(2):160-165.

[…]

27. Stewart, W. N. and Rothwell, G. W., 1993. Paleobotany and the Evolution of Plants, Second Edition, Cambridge Universily Press, Cambridge, England, pp. 114-115.

28. Gould, S. J., 1989. Wonderful Ufe: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, Norton, New York, pp. 321-323.

29. Carroll, R. L., 1988. Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution, Freeman, New York, p. 467.

30. Carroll, Ref. 29, p. 473.

31. Hopson, J. A,, 1994. Synapsid evolution and the radiation of noneutherian mammals. In: Major Features of Vertebrate Evolution [Short Courses in Paleontology Number 71, D. R. Porthero [sic] and R. M. Schoch (eds), Paleontological Society, Knoxville, Tennasee, pp. 190-219.

32. Carroll, Ref. 29, pp. 527-530.

33. Ostrom, 1. H., 1994. On the origin of birds and of avian flight. In: Major Features of Vertebrate Evolution [Short Courses in Paleonlology Number 71, D. R. Prothero and R. M. Schoch (eds), Paleontological Society. Knoxville, Tennessee, pp. 160-177.

34. Thomson, K. S., 1994. The origin of the tetrapods. In: Major Features of Vertebrate Evolution [Short Courses in Paleontology Number 71, D. R. Prothero and R. M. Schoch (eds), Paleontological Society, Knoxville, Tennessee, pp. 85-107.

35. Ahlberg, P. E. and Milner, A. R., 1994. Theorigin and early diversification of tetrapods. Nature, 368: 507-514.

36. Gingerich, Ref. 1; Could, Ref. 2; Zimmer. Ref. 3.

37. Carroll, Ref. 29, pp. 527-549.

38. Gingerich, P. D., 1983. Evidence for evolution from the vertebrate fossil record. Journal of Geological Education, 31:140-144.

39. For example, as listed in Wise, Ref. 5.

[source: pp. 218-219 of: Kurt P. Wise (1995). “Towards a Creationist Understanding of ‘Transitional Forms.’” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, 9(2), 216-222. (caps original)

The full article is online here under the “Ape-men…” circle: http://www.bryancore.org/anniversar[…]uilding.html ]

In fairness, Wise goes on to claim that this evidence is “explainable” under the creation model, postulating as an alternative the scientific model that “God created organisms according to His nature” (p. 219), which apparently leads to the expectation of “high homoplasy” – because God, I assume, likes homoplasy.

85 Comments

Honest creationist? Isn’t that an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp, or Swiss cheese? In Bushese I guess he might be called honestish.

Matt, Kurt Wise is definitely an honest creationist. I’ve never seen him use any severely out of context quote mines and he has modified arguments in the past based on feedback.

Dawkins considers Wise honest because Wise does not try to distort or deny the evidence. Wise instead makes the blanket claim that no amount of evidence can possibly make any difference. So long as we all understand that science isn’t studying God’s Reality but rather playing games in the sandbox of illusion and imagination, no doctrinal insult arises from freely admitting the resounding complex yet consistent nature of that illusion.

So Wise takes the position that scripture refutes reality, scripture is God’s Word, thus perceived reality is in some “higher” sense not real at all. Scientists (and Wise really is one) are like math wonks amusing themselves concocting self-consistent but otherwise useless geometries. An entertaining conceit, but irrelevant to God’s Truth which He dictated to us in Genesis.

Hi all,

Yes, Kurt Wise is an honest creationist in the sense that he doesn’t try to lie, or to misrepresent, or to pull morally unethical stunts of the kind we’ve come to expect from Bill Dembski. He’s also extremely sharp - I speak from personal experience - and I am still amazed that someone as bright as he is did turn towards the “dark side”.

Best,

John

P. S. Nick’s latest contribution emerged out of a private online discussion we were having with someone fighting with creos overseas. Am surprised he’s been able to post this so quickly.

If, as Flint says, “no amount of evidence can possibly make any difference” to Wise, why would Wise need, as Joshua says, to modify his arguments? If arguments are based on no evidence whatsoever, then why would they need modification (other than as rhetoric)? And isn’t Scripture a part of Reality, even if it doesn’t reflect reality? Unlike Descartes, Wise isn’t starting from nothing, right?

Slightly OT to Matt G.,

Why is Swiss cheese an oxymoron?

Other favorite oxymorons:
Jumbo shrimp (kudos to Gorge Carlin)
Athletic scholarship
Pretty ugly
Civil war
Non-dairy creamer
Politically correct
Real psychic
Supernatural explanation
Legal brief
Standard option
Old news
Functional illiterate
Self-help group
Digital modem (apologies to non-geeks)

Matt G said:

If, as Flint says, “no amount of evidence can possibly make any difference” to Wise, why would Wise need, as Joshua says, to modify his arguments?

Presumably, he’s convinced, but he’s trying to convince others. Unlike others, he obviously doesn’t believe in flogging a dead horse, and when one of his arguments gets shot down in flames, he moves on.

I can only say that that must be a very odd mental state to live in.

Well, but isn’t this fine? As long as he uses the scientific method (incl. publishing in journals, etc…) and supports the teaching of the best available science findings, what more do we really want to ask? His position sounds close enough to methodological naturalism to me. The whole point of methodological naturalism could be summed up as the “honest” matters more than the “creationist.” Or is there something unacceptable about the way he does science that I’m missing?

Flint said:

Dawkins considers Wise honest because Wise does not try to distort or deny the evidence. Wise instead makes the blanket claim that no amount of evidence can possibly make any difference. So long as we all understand that science isn’t studying God’s Reality but rather playing games in the sandbox of illusion and imagination, no doctrinal insult arises from freely admitting the resounding complex yet consistent nature of that illusion.

So Wise takes the position that scripture refutes reality, scripture is God’s Word, thus perceived reality is in some “higher” sense not real at all. Scientists (and Wise really is one) are like math wonks amusing themselves concocting self-consistent but otherwise useless geometries. An entertaining conceit, but irrelevant to God’s Truth which He dictated to us in Genesis.

I wonder why he believes that bibles exist, let alone that they contain reliable information?

Well, but isn’t this fine? As long as he uses the scientific method (incl. publishing in journals, etc…) and supports the teaching of the best available science findings, what more do we really want to ask? His position sounds close enough to methodological naturalism to me. The whole point of methodological naturalism could be summed up as the “honest” matters more than the “creationist.” Or is there something unacceptable about the way he does science that I’m missing?

It’s fine for Wise – I mean, I think his position is silly, but it’s a free country. But my point is that virtually all other creationists/ID supporters (a) know less than Wise and yet (b) confidently assert that there are too few/no transitional fossils and that this is a huge problem for evolution. Yet the creationists’ own leading expert agrees with us!

Maybe Wise is himself transitional between the two sides? ;)

Bill Gascoyne said:

Slightly OT to Matt G.,

Why is Swiss cheese an oxymoron?

This is an inside joke for fans of the zany sitcom Newsradio.

Personal Failure said:

I can only say that that must be a very odd mental state to live in.

I can think of a lot of odd mental states: Texas, Kansas, Louisiana…

Nick Matzke Wrote:

After reading the article, one can’t help saying, “Why don’t you just GIVE UP already!!”

It would not surprise me in the least if soon-to-be-famous DI folk said just that to themselves back in 1995. Behe’s reaction would have been “might as well just concede common descent,” whereas the others’ reaction would have been “oh well, time go to Plan B (don’t ask, don’t tell).”

If, as Flint says, “no amount of evidence can possibly make any difference” to Wise, why would Wise need, as Joshua says, to modify his arguments?

To make them consistent with the evidence. I think I wasn’t clear - Wise thinks the evidence produced by science makes sense within the domain of science, within which it should be done right and be consistent. Even though the domain of science is itself imaginary and irrelevant to God’s higher reality.

If arguments are based on no evidence whatsoever, then why would they need modification (other than as rhetoric)?

Again, I think Wise draws a very sharp distinction between the realities of science and scripture. Wise (again, honestly) according to his own testimony went through his bible line by line, physically cutting out every semantic block that could not be true IF science is indeed investigating objective reality.

When he had finished this task, so little was left of his bible that he couldn’t even pick it up. Wise testifies (witnesses?) that he realized at that point that either the Bible is almost entirely fabrications, OR the evidence available to our senses, however internally consistent, is an illusion.

Wise was faced with a devastating dilemma - either his faith was false, or his senses and intellect were being tricked in some monstrous incomprehensible fashion (and everyone else’s were being tricked the same way). Finally, Wise decided his faith couldn’t possibly be false, therefore reality must be false. And because reality is false, there’s no good reason to misrepresent it. It’s all an illusion anyway.

And isn’t Scripture a part of Reality, even if it doesn’t reflect reality?

Apparently not. Apparently scripture belongs to, and is indeed our ONLY indication of, God’s Higher Reality.

Kurt Wise wrote:

Of Darwinism’s four stratomorphic intermediate expectations, that of the commonness of inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has been the most disappointing for classical Darwinists. The current lack of any certain inter-specific stratomorphic intermediates has, of course, led to the development and increased acceptance of punctuated equilibrium theory.

Honest or not, I can’t say I understand how this helps creationism’s case. 1) Wise acknowledges transitional fossils that make far bigger leaps than “interspecific” intermediates (Tiktaalik anyone?). 2) Species differences are often in traits that wouldn’t be seen in the fossil record anyway (e.g., do you think you could tell a fossil chinook salmon from a fossil coho salmon????).

I suppose the greatest use of this article for creationists is similar to AiG’s section on “Arguments Creationists Shouldn’t Use” – i.e., don’t weaken creationism’s credibility (further) by falling for one of these easily-pounced-upon, oft-refuted claims.

Thanks for posting this, Nick. I’m going to be giving a public talk on Darwin on Feb. 12. I’m in a relatively rural area and I’m bound to have some creationists in the audience. I can’t wait to make and show a slide of one of their own conceding transitional forms in the fossil record.

Flint wrote:

“Wise was faced with a devastating dilemma - either his faith was false, or his senses and intellect were being tricked in some monstrous incomprehensible fashion (and everyone else’s were being tricked the same way).”

Not much of a decision really. If the only way your faith in God can be valid is if God is a lying, deceitful bastard, then what good would faith in such a God be anyway? Really, who else could perpetrate such a hoax and why would you worship such a hoaxter?

If you can’t trust reality or your senses, doesn’t that mean that you are some type of insane? How could you function in a world like that? Why would you want to? Most of all, why would you want to be a scientist if you really believed that reality could not be trusted? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply question your interpertation of the Bible?

What a great quote from the Conclusion, though, to make the average creationist’s head spin:

“Substantial supporting evidence of macroevolutionary theory can be found in the fossil record of stratomorphic intermediates. Additionally, the creation model is not well enough developed at present to properly evaluate this evidence or to develop an adequate alternative scenario or explanation.” Kurt Wise (1995)

Continuing:

“However, in the light of the creation model’s incomplete development, its non-inconsiderable success at explaining that record is exciting and promising indeed. There is little doubt in this author’s mind that with the maturity of the creation model will come an explanation of stratomorphic intermediates superior to that of macroevolutionary theory.”

Reading that latter part, I conclude that Kurt Wise believes reality is real, not an illusion, just that the BEST explanation for it all has not yet been found. And he has faith it will prove to be a creationist one.

You’re absolutely right TH. He’s sincere and at least, unlike Dembski, a sincere, God-fearing Christian (I speak from personal experience, since we met and corresponded briefly back in the early 1980s.). He REALLY BELIEVES in Young Earth Creationism and isn’t trying to hoodwink us, unlike the Dishonesty Institute folk:

TH said:

What a great quote from the Conclusion, though, to make the average creationist’s head spin:

“Substantial supporting evidence of macroevolutionary theory can be found in the fossil record of stratomorphic intermediates. Additionally, the creation model is not well enough developed at present to properly evaluate this evidence or to develop an adequate alternative scenario or explanation.” Kurt Wise (1995)

Continuing:

“However, in the light of the creation model’s incomplete development, its non-inconsiderable success at explaining that record is exciting and promising indeed. There is little doubt in this author’s mind that with the maturity of the creation model will come an explanation of stratomorphic intermediates superior to that of macroevolutionary theory.”

Reading that latter part, I conclude that Kurt Wise believes reality is real, not an illusion, just that the BEST explanation for it all has not yet been found. And he has faith it will prove to be a creationist one.

KP Wrote:

Honest or not, I can’t say I understand how this helps creationism’s case.

I never cease to be amazed at how much anti-evolutionists can admit to their more rabid fans. Behe admits common descent, and even his YEC fans tune it out and convince themselves that his arguments validate their fantasy.

KP Wrote:

I can’t wait to make and show a slide of one of their own conceding transitional forms in the fossil record.

Make sure you’re prepared for one of the more savvy creationists who might state Behe’s claim that the fossil record is “irrelevant.”

TH said:

Continuing:

“However, in the light of the creation model’s incomplete development, its non-inconsiderable success at explaining that record is exciting and promising indeed. There is little doubt in this author’s mind that with the maturity of the creation model will come an explanation of stratomorphic intermediates superior to that of macroevolutionary theory.”

Reading that latter part, I conclude that Kurt Wise believes reality is real, not an illusion, just that the BEST explanation for it all has not yet been found. And he has faith it will prove to be a creationist one.

Like what? That God was still “experimenting” when he created (just to name a few) Australopithecus spp., H. habilis, H. erectus, H. neanderthalensis (if you’re a splitter and not a lumper) til he finally got it right with H. sapiens and wiped the others out in the flood?

Oops, then ya gotta defend the “omniscient” assumption and figure out why he screwed up so many times.

Frank J said:

Make sure you’re prepared for one of the more savvy creationists who might state Behe’s claim that the fossil record is “irrelevant.”

Off the cuff, how about countering with Behe’s concession of common descent? Then discuss biochemical (i.e., right from Behe’s own field) evidence for common descent.

Or maybe I could counter by showing this “controversy” within “creation science” (between Behe and Wise) and advocate a “teach the controversy” approach? :-)

Nick,

This is Wise’s (and Todd Wood’s) explanation of the fossil record and transitional fossils. It’s ad hoc to the extreme.

The references are:

Wise KP (2003) The pre-Flood floating forest: a study in paleontological pattern recognition. In: Ivey RL Jr (ed) Proceedings of the fifth international conference on creationism. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp 371–382

Wood TC, Murray KJ (2003) Understanding the pattern of life: origins and organization of the species. Broadman & Holman, Nashville I took it from:

Heaton, T.H. (2008) Recent Developments in Young-Earth Creationist Geology. Science and Education, DOI 10.1007/s11191-008-9162-6.

To explain all this I would like to propose the existence of an extensive floating forest biome in the pre-Flood world. Its association with otherwise marine fauna of the Paleozoic suggests it floated atop ocean water. The huge volume of Paleozoic plants (e.g. the Carboniferous coals) suggests that the biome was huge – perhaps subcontinent to continent-sized. The highly disruptive waters of the Flood would be expected to destroy such an ecosystem from the outermost portions inward, explaining the sequence of Paleozoic plants we see in the fossil record as well as the exclusively marine nature of the first enclosing sediments and then the fact that later fossils are often interbedded with marine fauna and sediments. Post-Flood catastrophism would also explain both why the ecosystem never developed after the Flood and why most of the Paleozoic plants are extinct and the remainder are found only in low diversity in relict localities…. Living among the flora of the floating forest was an associated fauna. This fauna would have ranged from fish which lived in the pools in the forest floor, to amphibians which inhabited the aquatic/terrestrial interface, to insects and small animals which lived in the terrestrial environment of the understory and canopy. The permanent destruction of the floating forest biome would explain why virtually all Paleozoic ‘land’ animals are extinct. It would also provide a reasonable explanation for the stratigraphic position, the environment, and the morphology of the animals which appear to be fully functional morphological intermediates between fish and amphibians (e.g. Ichthyostega). (Wise 2003, p. 376)

Heaton then interjects with:

Normally a massive flood would mix all the plant and animal remains into a random heap, sorting out only those that remained afloat in the water. Since the fossil record is highly ordered (but not with respect to the floatability of carcasses), Wise proposed a series of unlikely events to account for the observed order. Recognizing that this model still has difficulty explaining the order of fossil zones, Wood and Murray (2003, p. 188; see also Wise 2002, pp. 172–175) went further by offering another creative proposal:

Because the zones have little overlap between them, we infer that the organization of the pre-Flood organismal geography was much stricter than it is today. After the Flood, when all organisms were thrust together and then re-distributed, the geographical patterns that emerged display a great deal of gradation between ecological zones. In contrast, the pre-Flood zonation appears to have been much more well-defined, with very limited regions of ecological gradation

Now we have more on transitional fossils and the lack of humans:

Strangely missing from the Flood-deposited strata were most of the mammals, birds, and angiosperms, and all evidence of human life. From their nearly complete absence, we can infer that these organisms probably occupied the same biological zone before the Flood. The few birds and mammals found in the Secondary strata suggest that the mammal/bird/human zone was probably adjacent to the dinosaur/gymnosperm zone. Even more exciting in this regard is the presence or morphological intermediate organisms, such as the mammal-like reptiles found in South Africa and the Archaeopteryx from a single deposit in Germany. If the border region between the mammal and dinosaur zones was a sharp ecological transition, it is possible that the intermediates long interpreted as evidence for evolution are actually evidence for an ecological transition…. When the Flood began, large portions of the crust that formed the ocean floor began to slide underneath the crust that formed the continents. Creationist geologists believe that this process, called subduction, was the primary driving force for the Flood. Because the subduction occurred so quickly (destroying thousands of kilometers of ocean crust in months), the subduction zone would have been a site of violent geological upheaval. If the mammal zone bordered on one of these subduction zones, it is possible that all remnants of the pre-Flood people (and mammals and birds) were annihilated in the subduction zone.

A YEC associated with this lot summarised with:

Now, to answer your question: although there has been very little discussion of the geological context of the Devonian tetrapods in the creationist literature, I’m aware of two papers that attempt to address the issue – from different perspectives. Unfortunately neither is available on the web, so I can only summarise here.

One is a paper given by Kurt Wise at the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (2003) and available in the published Proceedings. Entitled ‘The Pre-Flood Floating Forest: A Study in Paleontological Pattern Recognition’, it is an attempt to reconstruct a pre-Flood environment. The first appearances of higher plant taxa in the fossil record occur in an order which correlates strongly with the order of evolutionary branching predicted from published cladograms. However, Kurt points out that it also strongly correlates with increased terrestriality of the taxa. Kurt proposed that the destruction of a pre-Flood floating forest biome during the Flood might explain this trend. He envisaged a pre-Flood forest growing out over the ocean through an ecological succession of plants of steadily increasing size – in a fashion analogous to the plants of modern quaking bogs. Also living in the floating forest would be a succession of Palaeozoic animals, including the aquatic Devonian tetrapods. Residual catastrophism after the Flood may have prevented the floating forest becoming re-established and resulted in the extinction of most of the Palaeozoic plants and tetrapods.

The second paper is entitled ‘From Fins to Feet: Did Fish Evolve Into Tetrapods’ and was written by Paul Garner. It is available as a Genesis Agendum Occasional Paper (see http://www.genesisagendum.org.uk/pu[…]cations.html). It looks at the Upper Devonian tetrapods through the lens of the post-Flood recolonisation model. It proposes that aquatic tetrapods may have survived the Flood as adults, larvae, or eggs outside the Ark – which is why they appear earlier in the fossil record than the more terrestrial vertebrates of the Upper Palaeozoic and Mesozoic. Moreover, the Devonian tetrapods are already widely dispersed at their first appearance in the fossil record, because they were not repopulating the earth from a single location. Their first appearance is regarded as coinciding with the post-Flood spread of vegetation around the margins of the Palaeozoic continents – coastal swamps and lagoons that provided an ideal habitat for the predatory lobe-fins and aquatic tetrapods.

I’m not wanting to claim that either is a fully-worked out solution – simply to point out that some creationists at least are grappling with the relevant issues.

So there you go.

I am quite baffled as to how Kurt Wise can believe this still, especially when his Ph. D. advisor was none other than Stephen Jay Gould, and I am willing to guess that he probably had had some interaction with the likes of Richard Lewontin, E. O. Wilson, and even, Ernst Mayr:

SteveF said:

Nick,

This is Wise’s (and Todd Wood’s) explanation of the fossil record and transitional fossils. It’s ad hoc to the extreme.

The references are:

Wise KP (2003) The pre-Flood floating forest: a study in paleontological pattern recognition. In: Ivey RL Jr (ed) Proceedings of the fifth international conference on creationism. Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp 371–382

Wood TC, Murray KJ (2003) Understanding the pattern of life: origins and organization of the species. Broadman & Holman, Nashville I took it from:

Heaton, T.H. (2008) Recent Developments in Young-Earth Creationist Geology. Science and Education, DOI 10.1007/s11191-008-9162-6.

To explain all this I would like to propose the existence of an extensive floating forest biome in the pre-Flood world. Its association with otherwise marine fauna of the Paleozoic suggests it floated atop ocean water. The huge volume of Paleozoic plants (e.g. the Carboniferous coals) suggests that the biome was huge – perhaps subcontinent to continent-sized. The highly disruptive waters of the Flood would be expected to destroy such an ecosystem from the outermost portions inward, explaining the sequence of Paleozoic plants we see in the fossil record as well as the exclusively marine nature of the first enclosing sediments and then the fact that later fossils are often interbedded with marine fauna and sediments. Post-Flood catastrophism would also explain both why the ecosystem never developed after the Flood and why most of the Paleozoic plants are extinct and the remainder are found only in low diversity in relict localities…. Living among the flora of the floating forest was an associated fauna. This fauna would have ranged from fish which lived in the pools in the forest floor, to amphibians which inhabited the aquatic/terrestrial interface, to insects and small animals which lived in the terrestrial environment of the understory and canopy. The permanent destruction of the floating forest biome would explain why virtually all Paleozoic ‘land’ animals are extinct. It would also provide a reasonable explanation for the stratigraphic position, the environment, and the morphology of the animals which appear to be fully functional morphological intermediates between fish and amphibians (e.g. Ichthyostega). (Wise 2003, p. 376)

Heaton then interjects with:

Normally a massive flood would mix all the plant and animal remains into a random heap, sorting out only those that remained afloat in the water. Since the fossil record is highly ordered (but not with respect to the floatability of carcasses), Wise proposed a series of unlikely events to account for the observed order. Recognizing that this model still has difficulty explaining the order of fossil zones, Wood and Murray (2003, p. 188; see also Wise 2002, pp. 172–175) went further by offering another creative proposal:

Because the zones have little overlap between them, we infer that the organization of the pre-Flood organismal geography was much stricter than it is today. After the Flood, when all organisms were thrust together and then re-distributed, the geographical patterns that emerged display a great deal of gradation between ecological zones. In contrast, the pre-Flood zonation appears to have been much more well-defined, with very limited regions of ecological gradation

Now we have more on transitional fossils and the lack of humans:

Strangely missing from the Flood-deposited strata were most of the mammals, birds, and angiosperms, and all evidence of human life. From their nearly complete absence, we can infer that these organisms probably occupied the same biological zone before the Flood. The few birds and mammals found in the Secondary strata suggest that the mammal/bird/human zone was probably adjacent to the dinosaur/gymnosperm zone. Even more exciting in this regard is the presence or morphological intermediate organisms, such as the mammal-like reptiles found in South Africa and the Archaeopteryx from a single deposit in Germany. If the border region between the mammal and dinosaur zones was a sharp ecological transition, it is possible that the intermediates long interpreted as evidence for evolution are actually evidence for an ecological transition…. When the Flood began, large portions of the crust that formed the ocean floor began to slide underneath the crust that formed the continents. Creationist geologists believe that this process, called subduction, was the primary driving force for the Flood. Because the subduction occurred so quickly (destroying thousands of kilometers of ocean crust in months), the subduction zone would have been a site of violent geological upheaval. If the mammal zone bordered on one of these subduction zones, it is possible that all remnants of the pre-Flood people (and mammals and birds) were annihilated in the subduction zone.

A YEC associated with this lot summarised with:

Now, to answer your question: although there has been very little discussion of the geological context of the Devonian tetrapods in the creationist literature, I’m aware of two papers that attempt to address the issue – from different perspectives. Unfortunately neither is available on the web, so I can only summarise here.

One is a paper given by Kurt Wise at the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (2003) and available in the published Proceedings. Entitled ‘The Pre-Flood Floating Forest: A Study in Paleontological Pattern Recognition’, it is an attempt to reconstruct a pre-Flood environment. The first appearances of higher plant taxa in the fossil record occur in an order which correlates strongly with the order of evolutionary branching predicted from published cladograms. However, Kurt points out that it also strongly correlates with increased terrestriality of the taxa. Kurt proposed that the destruction of a pre-Flood floating forest biome during the Flood might explain this trend. He envisaged a pre-Flood forest growing out over the ocean through an ecological succession of plants of steadily increasing size – in a fashion analogous to the plants of modern quaking bogs. Also living in the floating forest would be a succession of Palaeozoic animals, including the aquatic Devonian tetrapods. Residual catastrophism after the Flood may have prevented the floating forest becoming re-established and resulted in the extinction of most of the Palaeozoic plants and tetrapods.

The second paper is entitled ‘From Fins to Feet: Did Fish Evolve Into Tetrapods’ and was written by Paul Garner. It is available as a Genesis Agendum Occasional Paper (see http://www.genesisagendum.org.uk/pu[…]cations.html). It looks at the Upper Devonian tetrapods through the lens of the post-Flood recolonisation model. It proposes that aquatic tetrapods may have survived the Flood as adults, larvae, or eggs outside the Ark – which is why they appear earlier in the fossil record than the more terrestrial vertebrates of the Upper Palaeozoic and Mesozoic. Moreover, the Devonian tetrapods are already widely dispersed at their first appearance in the fossil record, because they were not repopulating the earth from a single location. Their first appearance is regarded as coinciding with the post-Flood spread of vegetation around the margins of the Palaeozoic continents – coastal swamps and lagoons that provided an ideal habitat for the predatory lobe-fins and aquatic tetrapods.

I’m not wanting to claim that either is a fully-worked out solution – simply to point out that some creationists at least are grappling with the relevant issues.

So there you go.

Kurt Wise has forthrightly stated that his adherence to Biblical literalism comes first, and if the physical evidence is against creationism, so much the worse for the evidence.

I think that would make Wise a coward, not honest.

I won’t disagree with your assessment, Dale, but you might wish to read that section in Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” which recounts Wise’s faithful Faustian choice between science and religion (It would be a tragic segment in an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre”.):

Dale Husband said:

Kurt Wise has forthrightly stated that his adherence to Biblical literalism comes first, and if the physical evidence is against creationism, so much the worse for the evidence.

I think that would make Wise a coward, not honest.

What offends me so deeply, as an Honorable Skeptic, is that Kurt Wise is in essence saying that the God who created the universe and everything in it, including ourselves, totally misrepresents reality to cause a conflict between the conclusions one would reach from an empirical study of reality, and the dogmas one reads from the Bible. To me, that is blasphemy.

Now, look at this:

http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/dis[…]p;pst=668443

The inserted numbers refer to my notes in response to Dr. Wise’s nonsense.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/doc[…]asp?vPrint=1

The evidence from Scripture is by far the best evidence for creation. No better evidence can be imagined than that provided from Him who is not only the only eyewitness observer, but who also is the embodiment of all truth. (1) All Christians should be content in His claims for creation. (2) There are those, however, who reject the authority of the Scriptures. (3) I believe that the best extra-biblical evidence for creation would come from the design of organisms past and present. The schizochroal compound eye of the trilobite (a horseshoe crab-like organism of the past), for example, contains the only known lens in the biological world which corrects for focusing problems that result from using non-flexible lenses. (4) The designs of the schizochroal lenses, in fact, are the very same designs that man himself has developed to correct for the same problems. Furthermore, the design of the schizochroal eye combines this optimum focusing capability with the optimum sensitivity to motion provided by the compound eye as well as the stereoscopic (3-D) vision provided by closely spaced eyes. The design of the schizochroal eye makes it unique among eyes; perhaps even to the point of being the best optical system known in the biological world. (5) This design, in fact, seems to far exceed the needs of the trilobite. (6) The origin of the design of the schizochroal eye is not understood by means of any known natural cause. Rather, it is best understood as being due to an intelligent (design-creating) cause, through a process involving remarkably high manipulative ability. (7) Among available hypotheses, creation by God is the most reasonable hypothesis for the origin of the complexity of the trilobite’s schizochroal eye. (8)

1. Actually, the “evidence” in the Book of Genesis, written by authors thousands of years after the events it claims to describe, is hearsay. Thus it would be inadmissible in any American court of law, because it could be faked.

2. What about Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and others?

3. Because of finding errors in the Scriptures that fundamenalists then attempt to explain away with all sorts of unfounded speculations and even outright lies.

4. If trilobite eyes are so amazingly designed, why did their Creator allow the trilobites to become extinct later?

5. Better than the eyes of man, who is supposed to be the one made in the image of God?

6. This is not a fact, but an assumption based on no evidence.

7. Science says, “We don’t know yet, maybe we will find out later.” The attempts of religion to fill the gaps of our knowledge with unproven acts of God creates a God whose existence becomes less and less important as scientific knowledge expands.

8. It’s amazing how often you see opponents of evolution underestimating the ability of natural selection to improve parts of organisms over millions of years. Didn’t Darwin write at length about the eye and its possible evolution in the Origin of Species?

Flint said:

I think Wise draws a very sharp distinction between the realities of science and scripture. Wise (again, honestly) according to his own testimony went through his bible line by line, physically cutting out every semantic block that could not be true IF science is indeed investigating objective reality.

When he had finished this task, so little was left of his bible that he couldn’t even pick it up. Wise testifies (witnesses?) that he realized at that point that either the Bible is almost entirely fabrications, OR the evidence available to our senses, however internally consistent, is an illusion.

Wise was faced with a devastating dilemma - either his faith was false, or his senses and intellect were being tricked in some monstrous incomprehensible fashion (and everyone else’s were being tricked the same way). Finally, Wise decided his faith couldn’t possibly be false, therefore reality must be false. And because reality is false, there’s no good reason to misrepresent it. It’s all an illusion anyway.

Having not bought Dawkins’ book, I wouldn’t know the reference you made, John Kwok. Maybe if I find it in a library.…

John Kwok said:

I won’t disagree with your assessment, Dale, but you might wish to read that section in Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” which recounts Wise’s faithful Faustian choice between science and religion (It would be a tragic segment in an episode of “Masterpiece Theatre”.):

Dale Husband said:

Kurt Wise has forthrightly stated that his adherence to Biblical literalism comes first, and if the physical evidence is against creationism, so much the worse for the evidence.

I think that would make Wise a coward, not honest.

Dale,

Dawkins recounts Wise’s tragic life-changing decision in Chapter Eight. As I noted in my Amazon review of “The God Delusion”:

“In a later chapter, Chapter 8 ‘What’s Wrong With Religion? Why Be So Hostile?’ Dawkins clearly explains the difference between an evolutionary biologist such as himself who ‘accepts’ evolution, and a fundamentalist Protestant Christian creationist who doesn’t. Dawkins acknowledges that some may view his passion for evolution as an example of his own ‘fundamentalist belief’, but that’s due to his recognition that the evidence for evolution is so strong, firmly ‘buttressed’ by ample data supporting it. He cites the regrettable example of one American creationist, Kurt Wise - who earned a Ph. D. degree in paleontology from Harvard University as a student of Stephen Jay Gould’s and a brilliant scientist with much potential - ‘who tossed out science, evidence and reason, along with all his dreams and hopes.’ Instead Wise chose to embrace ‘Young Earth Creationism’, simply because of his strong faith and belief in what Scripture said about the age of Planet Earth. Dawkins admits that he is hostile to religion because of what it did to Kurt Wise, by subverting his acceptance of science, evidence and reason, and replacing it with a blind adherence to faith. He notes that what Wise did to himself was self-inflicted, simply because Wise could have followed theologians like Bonhoeffer in embracing an allegorical interpretation of the Bible without forsaking the promise of a potentially bright career in science (The same path taken by many eminent American scientists of which two of the most notable examples include evolutionary ecologist Michael Rosenzweig - an observant Conservative Jew - and cell biologist Kenneth Miller - a devout Roman Catholic; the latter’s book, ‘Finding Darwin’s God’, receives enthusiastic praise from Dawkins, who notes that he has recommended it to those taken in by Behe’s mendacious intellectual pornography.).”

Regards,

John

Here’s a bit of poetry:

Poor Dr. Kurt Wise I do despise For evolution He denies He writes about Trilobite eyes And for the Bible He cries I think he lies I can’t explain him Otherwise.

About a year and a half ago, a young man by the name of Marcus Ross “earned” a PhD in geology at URI (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/12/s[…]s&st=cse). His thesis was on the Cretaceous era, and it was praised by his adviser - but he’s a YEC and doesn’t actually believe any of it! He rationalizes it by claiming to regard science as a “paradigm”. He’s at Liberty U now, teaching his students about the “gaping holes” in evolutionary and cosmological theories. He’s stated publicly that, although he doesn’t feel there is sufficient evidence to corroborate evolutionary theory, even if such evidence existed, he’d still refuse to believe it, as it contradicts the Bible. For that reason alone, his professors at URI had absolutely no business giving him the degree; it’s a betrayal of the most fundamental principles of science, and cheapens the degree for those who come after.

Which brings me to my reason for mentioning this - I understand there were those at Harvard who didn’t want to give Wise the degree, but Gould argued in his favor. I imagine he felt he was displaying an integrity lacking among creationists, or didn’t want to give them an excuse to cry “discrimination”, but I feel it was very possibly the worst mistake he ever made. As I say, it lessens the inherent value of the degree, and these characters then take the degrees and use them to validate the Christian cracker factories for which they go to work afterward.

Actually, I disagree. If a student actually understands what science is all about, he is legally entitled to a science degree or doctorate even if he is a Young Earth Creationist. What he is NOT entitled to do is then claim that he is really following the true teachings of whoever created the universe, because the Bible quotes God as saying “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. I can honestly say that if I were the Creator and I knew that certain people were claiming that a certain book that was supposed to be my Word carried more weight in their hearts and minds than the study of the actual universe I created, I’d be preparing something like Hell for those people after they die. Why? Because they lied about me. That’s what I meant earlier when I said Kurt Wise was a blasphemer. Attacking Creationists via theological means rather than scientific ones will take us much farther, I beleive.

The fossil record is nothing more than a snap shot of what inhabited the earth at the time of the world wide flood in Noah’s Day.

Dale Husband said:

Attacking Creationists via theological means rather than scientific ones will take us much farther, I beleive.

You’d think so, but, from my personal experience, the vast majority of Creationists simply don’t care that they are blasphemers, and ignore those Hell-bound sinners who point this apparently useless fact out to them (after all, facts are useless to Creationists, ask FL).

PC: I call Poe.

Stanton said:

Dale Husband said:

Attacking Creationists via theological means rather than scientific ones will take us much farther, I beleive.

You’d think so, but, from my personal experience, the vast majority of Creationists simply don’t care that they are blasphemers, and ignore those Hell-bound sinners who point this apparently useless fact out to them (after all, facts are useless to Creationists, ask FL).

Yeah really. Just look at all the fundies who cut up their Bibles with scissors and knives and whatnot. Cuckoo!

John, btw, I said this to you a couple of weeks ago on Roger Ebert’s blog, in the “Expelled” thread, but I don’t think you noticed it - I admire the way you tackle creationists on Amazon. I haven’t the stomach for it. If anyone I know is ever tempted to harbor any hope for the future of humanity, I direct them to the comments on Amazon. That cures them of it pretty quickly!

In any case, you’re a better man than I.

John Kwok said:

Jeff, what you described about Ross reminds me of Wise’s rationale for assigning evolution labs to Gould’s students in Gould’s Harvard undergraduate history of life course for non science majors. It was virtually identical, if my memory is correct:

I think it’s part of their “infiltrate and conquer” agenda. I’m sure he has a sincere interest, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his pastor seized upon that and told him it was his “Christian duty” to get a degree from a legitimate secular university, in order to use it later to try to lend credibility to their insane world view.

Or it could be simply that he found out that scientists with degrees from real universities make more money than do the ersatz scientists who graduate from Jesus schools!

stevaroni said:

About a year and a half ago, a young man by the name of Marcus Ross “earned” a PhD in geology at URI.… but he’s a YEC and doesn’t actually believe any of it!

Um, am I the only one wondering why Ross decided to invest all that time, energy and money pursuing a degree based around scientific principals he chooses to ignore?

I read the AIG page where he describes methodically taking an Xacto knofe to the bible, splitting it up line by line in to “keep” and “ignore” piles, and all the attendant mental anguish that came with all that.

Once I add on all the work that comes with toiling through a graduate program, even in a subject one enjoys.…

Gotta tell ‘ya, young Mr Ross sounds like the kinda guy who’s gonna be needing a lot of lithium someday.

Dale, I can’t agree. I’m not thrilled about the growing number of evangelical undergrads on the campuses of top-tier secular universities (I feel they’re taking away spaces that would otherwise be given to students who would appreciate more and better utilize what is being offered), but I realize there’s little if anything that can be done about it. However, a graduate program is different. It isn’t about merely showing up for class, taking exams, writing papers and parroting back what you’ve been told. In a graduate program, one is expected to do original work, based upon a foundation comprised of the work of others who’ve come before. You can’t do that if you begin by repudiating the basic principles of the discipline - “Even if the evidence exists, I refuse to believe it!” You want to subordinate empirical evidence to faith? Fine - go into theology, not science.

If a young man or woman were to apply to the physics dept. at Harvard, and tell them, “I will absorb and repeat everything you tell me, but I want you to know up front - I reject every physical theory of the past 300 years. Newtonian mechanics tell us everything we will ever need to know about reality. Every innovation of the twentieth century - relativity, quantum theory, string theory - it’s all garbage. This is a matter of faith for me; no evidence you can show me will change my mind.” - should he/she be accepted? You simply can’t do science that way.

Tragically, this, or a scenario very much like it, probably has already occurred.

Actually, I disagree. If a student actually understands what science is all about, he is legally entitled to a science degree or doctorate even if he is a Young Earth Creationist. What he is NOT entitled to do is then claim that he is really following the true teachings of whoever created the universe, because the Bible quotes God as saying “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”. I can honestly say that if I were the Creator and I knew that certain people were claiming that a certain book that was supposed to be my Word carried more weight in their hearts and minds than the study of the actual universe I created, I’d be preparing something like Hell for those people after they die. Why? Because they lied about me. That’s what I meant earlier when I said Kurt Wise was a blasphemer.

Attacking Creationists via theological means rather than scientific ones will take us much farther, I beleive.

Well, I suppose that if one can master the course work and successfully perform original research then one can earn a PhD in science, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.

However, it might prove difficult to base a research project on principles that one did not believe in, or to accept results that were contrary to one’s faith. This is why almost no one remains a creationist after getting an actual degree in Biology. It is far easier to ignore the evidence if you remain ignorant of the evidence. Once you become aware of the4 evidence, then all sorts of mental contortions are required in order to deal with reality.

Still, the degree is Doctor of Philosophy. Why should the degree be granted to someone who doesn’t actually believe in the philosophy of science? You might be able to get a BS or an MS degree without actually believing in the philosophy of science, but a PhD is not just about the course work or even the research. It would seem to me that you would have to be a complete two-faced lying hypocrite to try to trick someone into granting you a PhD in science if you really had nothing but comtempt for science and evidence. That would pretty much defeat the religious motivation aspect anyway.

This would be like someone trying to get Buddist monks to teach them Kung-fu so they could become a serial killer. If the monks found out your true motivation, they might not be too pleased.

Actually, this is more similar to a movie I once saw (can’t remember the name). A student comes to an art professor about a grade. He says: “Why did you flunk me, I memorized all of the names of all of the paintings?” She replies: “Yes, but the title of the course is Art Appreciation and I saw no evidence of any appreciation on your part whatsoever.”

I take some comfort that the “infiltration” strategy can backfire - if memory serves, Denis Lamoureux is an example of this. Think about it: even within the rare group of people with a mindset so stubborn that they pursue a doctorate in something in order to disprove it, the evidence is strong enough to make some of them change their minds. At the other end of the spectrum is Jonathan Wells, who unlike Wise has no problems with deceit (see Icons of Evolution):

“Father’s [Sun Myung Moon’s] words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle.”

–Jonathan Wells, Darwinism: Why I Went for a Second Ph.D.

Maybe words by Kurt Wise like

Most creation science is garbage

and

… the material that’s out there is—uh, I’ll hold back and be nice—garbage. It’s really atrocious

carry more weight coming from a respected scientist and true YEC creationist than if he should be “just another Darwinist”?

It would carry more weight if he actually changed his mind. All Wise is saying is that they need better apologetics.

Now, if we want to argue that when they go looking for real evidence and don’t find any, then they’ll change their minds - perhaps. But don’t hold your breath.

James F said:

I take some comfort that the “infiltration” strategy can backfire - if memory serves, Denis Lamoureux is an example of this. Think about it: even within the rare group of people with a mindset so stubborn that they pursue a doctorate in something in order to disprove it, the evidence is strong enough to make some of them change their minds.

Glenn Morton is another example – he was actually a “card-carrying member of the ICR” until his work as a geophysicist started to suggest something wasn’t quite right. More encouraging, he commented that most of the other creationists who had taken up his profession were also strongly afflicted with doubts from their work.

I would think that it would backfire more often than not. It takes a certain mental discipline to acquire a degree in the sciences, and at some point one might notice that some of the arguments in the ICR canon are more than just slightly intellectually sleazy – quote mines, grossly selective use of the evidence, smear tactics, and exercises in pure ignorance.

Once even one of the arguments became suspicious, the whole structure would start to disintegrate, all the more so because once any questions were asked the true believers would immediately become hostile: “You’re one of the ENEMY!” That was Morton’s experience, and my experience with (blessedly short-lived) youthful misadventures with zealot groups in other domains.

Of course, as with Kurt Wise, there are people whose compartmentalization remains airtight unto death.

Cheers – MrG / http://gvgpd.proboards.com

Jeff,

I think I did see it and thanks so much for your kind remarks. We need to remind people like Kurt Wise, Bill Dembski, Mike Behe, Ken Hamm, Casey Luskin, Paul Nelson, etc. et.c that they are merely peddling their own twisted form of mendacious intellectual pornography. I think if we did that, and urge people to buy and read books like Ken Miller’s “Only A Theory” and Jerry Coyne’s “Why Evolution is True”, then maybe, just maybe, the intellectual climate in the USA might just get better for those, like us, who stand with the forces of light and reason:

Jeff Eyges said:

John, btw, I said this to you a couple of weeks ago on Roger Ebert’s blog, in the “Expelled” thread, but I don’t think you noticed it - I admire the way you tackle creationists on Amazon. I haven’t the stomach for it. If anyone I know is ever tempted to harbor any hope for the future of humanity, I direct them to the comments on Amazon. That cures them of it pretty quickly!

In any case, you’re a better man than I.

Appreciatively yours,

John

@Bill Gascoyne (#6):

Was that list supposed to be funny? Most of those are only seem to be oxymorons if you don’t understand that English words can have more than one meaning. I thought that was a creationist failing.

John Marley said:

@Bill Gascoyne (#6):

Was that list supposed to be funny? Most of those are only seem to be oxymorons if you don’t understand that English words can have more than one meaning. I thought that was a creationist failing.

You’ve pretty much described every oxymoron I know of (with the possible exception of Creation Science). Even “obvious” ones like “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp” depend on (deliberate?) misinterpretations of at least one of the words involved, with more than a touch of cynicism required. So I guess the short answer to your question is “yes.”

Jeff Eyges said:

John, btw, I said this to you a couple of weeks ago on Roger Ebert’s blog, in the “Expelled” thread, but I don’t think you noticed it - I admire the way you tackle creationists on Amazon. I haven’t the stomach for it. If anyone I know is ever tempted to harbor any hope for the future of humanity, I direct them to the comments on Amazon. That cures them of it pretty quickly!

In any case, you’re a better man than I.

John Kwok said:

Jeff, what you described about Ross reminds me of Wise’s rationale for assigning evolution labs to Gould’s students in Gould’s Harvard undergraduate history of life course for non science majors. It was virtually identical, if my memory is correct:

Seconded, and passed by acclamation. Or, if you tire (or sicken) of the comments on Amazon, try plumbing the depths of YouTube. Oh, the humanity.

Agreed: http://xkcd.com/481/

Although, years back, I saw some of the remarks in AOL chat rooms. I honestly don’t know how we’ve lasted this long.

Dave Luckett said:

Jeff Eyges said:

John, btw, I said this to you a couple of weeks ago on Roger Ebert’s blog, in the “Expelled” thread, but I don’t think you noticed it - I admire the way you tackle creationists on Amazon. I haven’t the stomach for it. If anyone I know is ever tempted to harbor any hope for the future of humanity, I direct them to the comments on Amazon. That cures them of it pretty quickly!

In any case, you’re a better man than I.

John Kwok said:

Jeff, what you described about Ross reminds me of Wise’s rationale for assigning evolution labs to Gould’s students in Gould’s Harvard undergraduate history of life course for non science majors. It was virtually identical, if my memory is correct:

Seconded, and passed by acclamation. Or, if you tire (or sicken) of the comments on Amazon, try plumbing the depths of YouTube. Oh, the humanity.

Why not give up?

Because the literal-mindedness that makes one a decent scientist is the same literal-mindedness that makes one a steadfast fundy.

To treat a work of ancient literary art with respect, the thinking goes, requires treating it like a lab report or a newspaper. Everything has to be literal fact: what, when, where, who, why. Treating a work of art like a newspaper article is the highest compliment the literal mind knows how to pay it. Metaphor, allusion, archetype, symbol, sophistication–what use are these to a thinking adult?

The problem is not always inadequate science education. Often it is inadequate humanities education.

Because the literal-mindedness that makes one a decent scientist is the same literal-mindedness that makes one a steadfast fundy.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat????

Henry J said:

Because the literal-mindedness that makes one a decent scientist is the same literal-mindedness that makes one a steadfast fundy.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat????

Science requires a certain mindset. Pretty much nothing is cut-and-dried, dead-on, no-questions-left type reasonable paths to new knowledge. Scientists require enough faith in themselves and their ideas to act on them, sometimes before rational reasons are on the table. What Archer calls fundies have an extreme such faith in themselves that they know something and act accordingly. It isn’t so much that they have faith in some higher being and give up their reasoning power, but a lot of them “know” that they are right. The higher power may not even exist, it is their personal faith in themselves that drives the fundies to do what they do. Some use it as an excuse to do things that they know are wrong, but ultimately their own personal failings cause them to do what they do.

You have to agree that scientists can screw up in the same fashion.

Because the literal-mindedness that makes one a decent scientist is the same literal-mindedness that makes one a steadfast fundy.

Perhaps. But the major difference is that in science, the unyielding dogma is “Prove it, or be ignored”, in fundamentalism the unyielding dogma is “Believe it, or be ignored.

The practical difference is that the two world views become “You must question” versus “You must not question”.

I submit that one of these approaches is far, far more likely to actually figure out a complicated, mysterious, thing like how nature actually works.

Sorry for being late to the thread. I have been pretty much offline for the last couple weeks.

Todd Wood and Megan Murray in their 2003 Understanding the Pattern of Life use their “statistical baraminology” to conclude Hyracotherium and other commonly cited horse fossils are from the same “baramin.”

(By the way,Amazon incorrectly lists Wise as an author and Murray as editor. It is the other way around. Wise was however a coauthor with Wood and D.P. Cavanaugh of the creationist paper the book cites.)

If you concede the fossil horse transitional series, you have pretty much given up the game as the Hyracotherium is quite a bit different from a modern horse – we call it a “horse” because of many transitional creatures that connect it with modern horses.

Frank Lewis Marsh decades ago also put all the fossil horses into the same “baramin” as modern horses as Wood and Murray point out.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on January 23, 2009 2:05 PM.

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