Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The fossils speak, but what do they say?


Talk to the Fossils 3.jpg After fifteen years of news coverage on issues of interest to the ID community, I finally got to say what seems evident to a news writer (who doesn’t wave pom poms for Darwin’s followers):

First, the fossils speak, but hardly with one voice:

University of Chicago biochemist James Shapiro, not a design theorist, offers in one of his lectures four kinds of rapid, evolutionary change that Darwin “could not have imagined”: horizontal DNA transfer, symbiogenesis, genome doubling, and built-in mechanisms of genome restructuring. His approach is in sharp contrast to the “defend Darwin” strategy usually championed in the academy. So it is no surprise that he is a controversial figure. But is he right in saying that many possible mechanisms of evolution owe little or nothing to Darwin’s theory, the only concept of evolution most of us hear about?

It is reasonably estimated that there are 8.7 million species today (excluding bacteria), but that only about 14 percent have been identified — and only 9 percent of ocean life forms. Our picture of Earth’s life forms might change radically if we had more information about all the others. For example, an entire kingdom of life, the Archaea, was only identified in the 1970s.

How did all these life forms get to be where they are? As we examine some evidence-based mechanisms, we should keep in mind a critical question: How does a given mechanism fit our current picture of evolution? And how much change can it account for?

The welter of data coming back from paleontology, genome mapping, and other studies presents a challenging picture. With so much new information, the history of life begins increasingly to resemble the history of human civilizations. There is peril in that, principally to older ideas that depended on less information and more overarching theory.

Overarching theories often falter when evidence replaces speculation. Darwinian evolution is, despite legislative protection, certainly one of the victims. By contrast, discarded and ridiculed theories like Lamarck’s (inheritance of characteristics acquired in life by the parents) may turn out to have some basis in epigenetics.

So, to start this series, instead of contemplating yet another picture derived from grand theories, let us assemble, under eight headings, some of what we have learned in past decades that we did not expect. That might help us evaluate theories, new and old. More.

Read there, argue here.

See also: Talk to the Fossils: Let’s see what they say back

Yes, it is true. I dragged back from the assaults of Darwin’s followers. I didn’t know how to dissemble in fashionable Christian mags. You know: Fluffarella Fluffarelli discovers Darwin. Hooray!!! No. Don’t tune up the guitar for me.

I don’t believe any aspect of materialism/naturalism, for good reason. I offer it no terms, in consequence.

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Thanks for your feedback. I was using this argument on Twitter with a few atheists. Most never thought about it. And some didn't get it. But there are perhaps billions of whole fossils, and zero evolutionary failed experiments. That's quite the success rate for a random process. Ridiculous really. So the hard evidence supports intelligent design by an infinite degree. I believe Gould recognized this, but he was talking about intermediaries so most people missed the point. I wish I heard any leading ID theorist use it. Peter
anthropic I know about , i think the same, lizards on some isles. yet I don't know the stress, if thats the word, had a effet on hormones! It was the hormones thing that I'm unsure of or that is common enough to be presumed as a important mechanism. Robert Byers
Huh? All James Shapiro says is that things change and some things survive. That's what we said all along. (my impression of an orthodox darwinian) lifepsy
But organisms like bacteria actually do self-mutate under stress, as has been pointed out by James Shapiro. And the stress of a very different food supply evidently led to the development of cecal valves in lizards on an Aegean island in only 35 years. anthropic
Lee Spetner. your stress hormone idea is not proven even in creationist circles. Might be true and hopefully it is. There must be other mechanisms for biological quick change. Peoples looks being the great example. People never evolved their looks but needed them instantly for living. AMEN the fossils don't show descent or anything but a fossilized creature at its death. Its the deposition claims that are used to make connections. otherwise they are just types of creatures living in a more diverse world back then. Robert Byers
Peter I think they might try to say only the finished creature was likely to be fossilized. However indeed how a half way there piece of body would never be found in fossils is very unlikely if evolution was true. Robert Byers
Neo-Darwinian evolution, which is a name often given to the Modern Synthesis (MS), claims to account for how life evolved from some primitive form – say a single primitive cell. But the claim is false. The claim of the MS is that random mutations (including random genetic recombinations) generate enough variability for natural selection to work on and produce a better adapted species. This reliance on random mutations to produce speciation requires that a probability analysis be made to show that such adaptations are likely enough to make evolution happen. Mathematical analyses have not shown that the probability of speciation is anything but negligibly small. Therefore the claim is false. The so-called evidence of common descent (mainly fossils and molecular similarities) do not imply descent. Descent has not been observed, and it may very well have not happened. The evolution that has been observed is microevolution that involves rapid morphological and behavioral changes that adapt to new environments. These adaptations cannot be accounted for by the MS, but there is ample evidence that these evolutionary changes are the responses of the organisms to the stress imposed by a changing environment. The mechanism of these responses are also known. It is the result of stress-related hormonal secretions, which are known to cause genetic rearrangements. Pursuing failed theories of how life descended from a single source has led only into a blind alley. More profitable would be to try to understand the mechanism of the only evolution we actually observe, and drop the barren Modern Synthesis. Lee Spetner
Peter, you're not missing anything. Your argument is spot on. There are so many things wrong with evolution that one can only surmise that it's being promoted by demons or some other kind of alien entities, the mind snatchers. It's evil. Mapou
It is my understanding that of all the complete fossil specimens, 100% are of normal functional creatures. It seems to me that if evolution was true less than 1% would be functional unless it can be shown that evolution finds adaptive super-complex solutions randomly 100% of the time. This is absurd. The fossil record irregardless of intermediary forms is monumental proof that evolution is false. Yet, no one seems to make this argument. Am I missing something? Peter
A author quoted said fossils show the history of life. I say they only show what was fossilized at death. The history of life claims are not from the fossils but from the deposition of the fossils. A non biological subject. Without the depositional paradigm there is no life story. Therefore the fossils are not biological evidence for a life story of critter or biology in general. Fossils ay nothing about biological origins. Why do folks think they do?? Evolutiondom reasons without scientific methodology in using fossils. Even if they were a clue to origins it still wouldn't be bio sci evidence. THen the geology can be corrected later. Robert Byers
Well, congratulations on your new series. Great idea. I say "talk and listen to the fossils." Mapou

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