Monday, June 16, 2008

"...the fossil evidence is flawed and imperfect"

From John Morales:

Rhology said: We cite Gee to show the dissension over such basic ideas as the support lent from the fossil record within the Darwinian camp.

Dissention (sic), eh?

Here's PZ Myers on the subject.

"First of all, the fossil evidence is flawed and imperfect, which every evolutionary biologist will tell you, and as creationists are fond of quoting. Even Darwin's Origin goes on at length to document the imperfection of the geological record — all it can do is demonstrate a long pattern of change and diversity over earth's history (which does contradict literalist interpretations of the bible) and hint at transitions and connections between lineages … and even the fossil lineages are a product of a connect-the-dots sort of exercise."

I have a feeling I'll be referring back to this from time to time...
Darwinians speak out of both sides of their mouth. When arguing about ToE, the fossil record is great, it's wonderful, it's fantastic, it's more than sufficient.
When called on the dissension in the ranks, they "remember" that the fossil record is incomplete and insufficient.
Moving the goalposts as needed - it's the MO of the Darwinian camp.


Dr Funkenstein said...

This post doesn't seem to have paid too much attention to what I wrote previously...

All these other evidences are kind of important to the whole enterprise - the fossil record is just one part of the jigsaw. A lot of people would argue the most important evidence for common descent comes from living organisms - Darwin certainly ranked embryology and biogeography as two of the most important factors. The advent of molecular biology has served very well as a means of support for common descent also.

PZ says (just after the quote in the post):

Fossils disprove a literal Genesis, which is probably why the creationists focus on them so much, but they provide only a sketch outline of the history of life on earth and are not the key evidence for the process and mechanisms for evolution.

Rhology said...

Wow, damage control is already kicking in...

Rhology said...

Here are statements from this very blog, from DrFunk's own mouth evidencing this shift-the-goalposts-as-needed mentality:
RTT again
Chris Severn

Or are these all just incompetents?

Dr Funkenstein said...

haha - even though I posted it a day before you posted this post? My telepathic skills are obviously developing nicely...:-D

Dr Funkenstein said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Funkenstein said...

My second reply you link to barely mentions fossils Rho - in fact we spent most of that thread talking about natural selection in finch populations, as well as some other aspects of evolution.

Reading through the rest we seem to only briefly talk about reptile-bird fossils, which was something HG's book talked about, where he said it becomes hard to determine where non-birds stop and birds start based on the fossils. The reptile-bird fossil record is quite rich from what I have read about paleontology. The other aspects of the fossil record we talk about are similar to my recent post talking about why there are an absence of certain fossils in certain strata. We also talk about homologous structures for a little while.

NAL said...

When arguing about ToE, the fossil record is great, it's wonderful, it's fantastic, it's more than sufficient.

I await your posting of a link in which any of the commenters have used those words to describe the fossil record as it applies to the ToE. If not, then you have demolished another strawman.

Rhology said...

Humorous hyperbole, for effect, NAL.

John Morales said...

Rhology, the point is that, though fossil evidence is imperfect, what there is is extensive and entirely consistent with evolutionary theory.

And so it should be, of course - this has been studied for generations and theories to survive must account for the evidence.

Rhology, you overestimate the importance of the fossil record to the genesis and development of evolutionary theory; while simultaneously underestimating its utter congruence with other lines of evidence.

Anyway, I leave you with another juicy PZ quote, that you may dig it.

"They think we worship Charles Darwin, but actually, if there are any objects of reverence among evolutionary biologists, it would be the evidence — the bones of Lucy, of Archaeopteryx, of Tiktaalik, the little trilobite in shale that I keep by my hand at my office desk."

Hi Ho, Hi Ho...

John Morales said...

Dr Funkenstein, I'm sure you've noticed how, though you've read past the quote itself, Rhology gives no indication of having done so; in fact, he has handwaved your reference in that first comment, calling it damage control.

I will emphasise the point Rhology artfully dodges - here's the index of the article (#2.3) I've referenced above:

[Evidence of common descent]
1 Evidence from genetics
2 Evidence from paleontology
2.1 Fossil records
 2.1.1 Extent of the Fossil Record
2.2 Evolution of the horse
2.3 Limitations

3 Evidence from comparative anatomy
3.1 Homologous structures and divergent (adaptive) evolution
 3.1.1 Pentadactyl limb
 3.1.2 Insect mouthparts
 3.1.3 Other arthropod appendages
3.2 Analogous structures and convergent evolution
3.3 Vestigial structures
4 Evidence from geographical distribution
4.1 Continental distribution
4.2 Explanation
4.3 Evidence for migration and isolation
4.4 Continental drift
4.5 Oceanic island distribution
5 Evidence from comparative physiology and biochemistry
5.1 Universal biochemical organisation
5.2 Molecular variance patterns
5.3 Out of Africa hypothesis of human evolution
6 Evidence from antibiotic and pesticide resistance
7 Evidence from studies of complex iteration
8 Evidence from speciation
8.1 Hawthorn fly
9 See also
10 References
11 External links

That's how important the fossil evidence is.

John Morales said...

Dissention (sic), eh?


English is my second language, I make mistakes and disdain spellcheckers.

Rhology said...

You'll never see me rip anyone for a misspelling, John. It's just a blog, after all. :-)