Ah…evolution

OK, time to tackle comment #3 in response to this post.

Here, we are talking about Question #4 (If we are ancesoters/descendants of Apes, then why are there no transitional fossils or species to support this theory?)

My original response:

Holy fuck. Do you even listen when someone gives you the answer to this question?

We are not descendants of Apes. Apes and humans share a common ancestor. At some point and for some reason, our paths diverged. And there are transitional fossils. There aren’t very many because the evolution of humans is farily recent and it takes a long time to make a fossil. You are looking for every fucking step between that common ancestor and modern humans and without it, you will never be satisfied.

How’s about you produce evidence that the fossils found so far aren’t millions and millions of years old? I mean, without completely ignoring all scientific evidence in our possession. Like you did when you asked this stupid ass question.

His response to me is as follows:

Probably the better question is, where are the living evolutionary forms of pre- homosapiens. One could (and should) argue that the same pressures that would have caused the evolution of monkey to human still exist and will always continue to exist. Why would the evolution of mankind apparently stop?

Carbon dating does have some flaws. Enough where some question whether or not it is reliable for scientifically dating fossils. Here is a prime example.
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/05/31/us/errors-are-feared-in-carbon-dating.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

So here is where I must admit that I am not a biologist.  I know a lot of biologists and I’ve read a great deal about evolution but I’m going to get some of the biology wrong.  Even with that said, I have a real problem with people who don’t understand biology at all making arguments about it.

On an upcoming Geeks Without God podcast, we talk with Laura Okagaki-Vraspir and one of the things that I asked her was about being a part of a field that is most questioned by people who know nothing about her field.  By that I mean biologists are constantly called into question by people who know nothing about biology.

What other scientist has to deal with that?  Not physicists.  Nobody questions Einstein.  Or Newton.  Chemists?  About the only other field of science to constantly questioned is climatology.

Yet here we are again.  And here we will always be since evolution flies in the face of a world designed by god.  In order to reject evolution, you must ignore literally thousands of scientists whose research has all pointed to one very clear fact: evolution is real.

If you read books like “Why Evolution is True” or “The Greatest Show on Earth,” you will see that there is ample evidence for evolution.  Both are not books about atheism – they are books about evolution.   I think anyone who claims that evolution is not real needs to read about it.

Because, quite simply, they are wrong.

Now, on to the comment, which re-words the question because, I hope, of the recognition that are transitional fossils and we are finding more every year.

So…where are the living evolutionary forms of pre homo-sapiens?

Um…there aren’t any.  They either evolved into us, died off or were killed off (probably by us).  There is lots of anthropological research into what happened to these transitional forms and we certainly don’t know everything.

If you are going to ask that question of Humans, why not ask it of Tigers?  Or Elephants?  Or trees?  Where is the evolutionary form of a pre-tiger?

It’s gone.  It evolved into a tiger – several species of Tiger in fact.  Before that, there was a different type of animan that eventually evolved into all the feline species.   These animals are all still evolving but as they evolve into something new, the older, less ideally adapted form ceases to be.

That’s how evolution works.  Tiny adaptations over thousands of generations result in new species.

One of the best experiments that shows us how evolution works is the E. Coli long term evolution experiment, which I think is wicked cool.  The experiment has been going on since 1988 and it is a remarkable example of the theory of natual selection being proven on a nearly daily basis.

Humans are relative newcomers in the chain of evolution and as such, we can’t see the evolutionary process in our own species.  But it is there.

It is fair to argue that our intelligence changes the evolutionary process because we adapt our environment to fit our needs rather than adapting our bodies to fit our environment.  Even so, you can see differences in human populations based on the part of the world they inhabit and those differences are part of the evolutionary process.

“I was wondering when you’d notice that.”

Simply put, humans have not stopped evolving and there is a great deal of evidence to support that conclusion.  Evidence that must be ignored if you wish to argue any differently.

Now, as for the questionable nature of carbon dating, I note that the study cited is dated 1990 which, in scientific circles is an eternity.

I also see considerable failure to understand the article.  Basically, what we learn is that carbon 14 dating is not as accurate when something is older than 9000 years but an analysis of uranium/thorium ratios is more accurate at that point.  As I pointed out, however, that article is over 20 years out of date.

However, let’s not even start with carbon dating.  Let’s start with tree ring dating, another concept I find incredibly cool.  Basically, by identifying important events like forest fires, draughts and so on, we can date trees back almost 11,000 years.

So that means by using a dating technique that has nothing to do with carbon dating, we already know the earth is older than 6000 years, as many creationists think.  For those who go with the more “reasonable” estimate of 10000 years, tree ring dating takes us beyond even that threshold.

There are many different dating techniques and we have a very good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each one.  Overall, they make it very easy to date fossils and to put together a clear picture of evolution over millions of years.

I could link to dozens of articles (and I was about to) but I must return to my initial question, what proof can be provided that these dating techniques are wrong?  Failing convincing evidence, is the argument that biologists, palentologists, geologists and other scientists are simply lying?

All of the scientific evidence points to one conclusion: evolution is a fact.

Virtually all the “proof” I have seen to the contrary relies on a complete failure to understand evolution.  The remainder relies on the bible as proof and that is a circular argument.

How do you know evolution is false, I ask.

Because it does not fit with what the bible teaches, you respond.

How do you know the bible is accurate in all things, I ask.

Because it is the revealed word of god.

How do you know that?

Because it says it is.

The bible is being used as the testament to it’s own validity.  There is no assailing that argument in spite of the obvious logial failure of the argument.  The Bible is accurate because it just is.  Any and all evidence that disproves part of the bible must, therefore, be wrong.

I find that train of thought baffling.  If you are not capable of questioning what you believe and reconciling it with scientific reality, you are engaging in one of the worst kinds of lies.  You are lying to yourself.

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About Petsnakereggie

Geek, movie buff, dad, musician, comedian, atheist, liberal and writer. I also really like Taco flavored Doritos.

2 responses to “Ah…evolution”

  1. Robert Eshleman says :

    Looking at your twitter…just curious…would you consider your self a fundamental atheist? You appear to use that in a derogatory way. Anyway, I’ll take a look at this and try to respond as soon as I can.

    • Petsnakereggie says :

      Do I have a problem with fundamentalism? Yes I do. You define yourself exactly the same way I’d define a Fundamentalist Christian:

      “If by fundamental Christian, you mean one who believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God…Guilty as charged.”

      You believe a book filled with contradictions and so obviously driven by the agenda of the *people* who wrote it to be the inerrant word of god. I think that book has been used to justify more evil acts than any other book in existence.

      Do I have a problem with fundamentalism? Unquestionably. Does that mean I hate you? No. I don’t think any of your beliefs are correct and I believe they are built upon a faulty foundation but I am quite certain they are heartfelt and you believe you are doing good in the world.

      As to the question of being a fundamentalist atheist, I guess I don’t understand the question and there is no equivalence. There is no book on which I fix the entire structure of reality. As I’ve written elsewhere, I will admit that I am not 100% certain there is *no* god. I’m probably 99.5% certain but I do admit the possibility of a godlike being.

      I don’t, however, allow the possibility of a godlike being that is anything like the god of the Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.

      How do you define “fundamentalist atheist?” If I understand what you mean by that and I agree with your definition, I’m happy to accept the moniker.

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