extinction Intelligent Design

Are extinctions evidence of a divine purpose in life?

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Late Pleistocene landscape/By Mauricio Antón – from Caitlin Sedwick (1 April 2008). “What Killed the Woolly Mammoth?”. PLoS Biology 6 (4): e99. DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060099., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11781070

Hugh Ross asks us to consider the Pliocene extinction:

Two years ago, a team of seven ecologists and paleontologists from Switzerland, Panama, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States identified a previously unrecognized mass extinction event. They determined that 36% of the Pliocene marine megafauna (mammals, seabirds, turtles, and sharks) genera failed to survive into the Pleistocene. The Pliocene Epoch extended from 5.333 to 2.580 million years ago while the Pleistocene Epoch spanned from 2.580 million years ago to 11,700 years ago.

The seven ecologists ascertained that the Pliocene-Pleistocene mass extinction event especially impacted animal species with high energy requirements. Animal species that lived in coastal and continental shelf marine habitats were also especially impacted.

A month ago, three astrobiologists published a paper in which they presented evidence that a nearby supernova either caused or was a substantial contributor to the Pliocene-Pleistocene mass extinction event. They first pointed out that there is independent evidence from multiple sources for up to ten nearby supernova eruption events during the past 8 million years. Of these supernovae, the one that impacted Earth most strongly occurred about 2.6 million years ago.4 This ensemble of supernova eruption events also formed the Local Bubble in the nearby interstellar medium…

As with all mass extinction events that have occurred in the history of Earth’s life, the Pliocene-Pleistocene mass extinction event poses a serious challenge to models attempting to explain the history of Earth’s life by strictly natural means. The general trend in that history reflects a pattern of increasing numbers of species of life where the most complex life-forms become progressively complex and advanced. Thus, on average, the rate of speciation must exceed the rate of extinction. While natural processes and events can explain the extinctions, they are not able to explain the speciations. Naturalistic models are especially challenged to explain high rates of speciation for large-bodied, advanced animals. A creation model can readily explain the speciation rates as stemming from the mind of a supernatural Creator who replaces species when he pleases and for his purposes.

Hugh Ross, “Another Megafaunal Extinction Challenge to Naturalistic Evolution” at Reasons to Believe

See also: Is there a fixed time limit for recovery after mass extinctions?

and

Learning more about the asteroid that doomed the dinosaurs

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12 Replies to “Are extinctions evidence of a divine purpose in life?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    A creation model can readily explain the speciation rates as stemming from the mind of a supernatural Creator who replaces species when he pleases and for his purposes.

    It doesn’t explain anything unless we have some knowledge of the nature of this supernatural creator. For example, if Ross’s supernatural creator is the Christian God, we have to ask why He would have to wait for a supernova event to occur in order for the radiation to kill a large amount of the life on Earth which would open up environmental niches which could be populated with new species. Why not just drop another Great Flood and save a lot of time and energy? And if His purpose was to protect life on Earth, why not prevent – or at least deflect the radiation – from the supernova? Of course, being omniscient, the question is why bother do it at all? It’s not as if He wouldn’t already know the outcome of any experiment He could possibly imagine.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    Seversky:

    It doesn’t explain anything unless we have some knowledge of the nature of this supernatural creator.

    That’s wrong. Understanding that life was designed to evolve (and adapt) and evolved by design via built-n responses to environmental cues, explains how rapid changes can come about. It doesn’t need the variation to already be there. It creates its variations.

    For example, if Ross’s supernatural creator is the Christian God, we have to ask why He would have to wait for a supernova event to occur in order for the radiation to kill a large amount of the life on Earth which would open up environmental niches which could be populated with new species.

    If you have to ask then ask. But don’t ask us why. I could definitely come up with reasons. The main one being that is just how it had to be. Supernovae replenish the raw materials of the universe. And those organisms were paving the way for scientific discoverers.

    Thinking that you can pull a first grader set of questions out of thin air doesn’t mean that God is somehow affected, is sheer desperation.

  3. 3
    MatSpirit says:

    Good news Hugh! News recommended a book that goes a long way towards answering your questions.

    It’s “Lamarck’s Revenge: How Epigenetics Is Revolutionizing Our Understanding of Evolution’s Past and Present”

    You can’t go wrong with this one. The author, Peter Ward, is a well known in the scientific world AND News recommends it.

    Remember when epigenetics was going to solve all of ID’s problems?

    P.S. News’ recommendation is at https://uncommondescent.com/evolution/peter-ward-epigenetics-explains-why-there-are-fewer-species-than-we-think/

  4. 4
    Brother Brian says:

    Sev

    He would have to wait for a supernova event to occur in order for the radiation to kill a large amount of the life on Earth…

    Yes, 163 years is a long time to wait.

  5. 5
    SmartAZ says:

    “It doesn’t explain anything unless we have some knowledge of the nature of this supernatural creator. For example, if Ross’s supernatural creator is the Christian God, we have to ask why …”

    It is because He is the God of rightness, not whimsy. The universe operates according to reality, and what seems logical to you or anybody else has no bearing on it.

  6. 6
    SmartAZ says:

    I wish somebody would explain the difference between mass extinction and just plain extinction.

  7. 7
    ET says:

    I wish somebody would explain the difference between mass extinction and just plain extinction.

    The mass extinction involves more than one population, ie many, of differing organisms whereas plain extinction usually refers to one.

  8. 8
    doubter says:

    Without the simultaneous Cretaceous-Tertiary asteroid impact and Deccan Traps lava outflow extinction events that wiped out the dinosaurs, the dinosaurs would still rule today and higher mammals would never have evolved. It certainly looks like a higher power or powers intervened to give the mammals a chance to develop beyond a rat-sized low-on-the-totem-pole fauna and ultimately for man to appear.

    From a spiritual perspective, Spirit, periodically intervening to engineer the major innovations in biological evolution, can be presumed to occasionally realize it must engineer a massive stimulus to evolution via a mass extinction event, in order to jog life out of a long period of stasis or a log-jam so to speak. To accomplish this it could usually utilize natural mechanisms just jogged out of course a little, like a near-earth asteroid.

    Of course, Spirit could instead just as well not wanted to actively interfere by actively causing massive extinctions, because for instance such interventions just required injection of too much energy into our world, and so it just waited until purely random naturally occurring mass extinction events cleared the way for enough new biological innovations for the development of man. The problem for this is it would be so much less efficient and take much longer. In either case evolution has had to be periodically helped along with crucial injections of biological design in order to originate new basic forms and systems down to the family level of organization. Mere Darwinian processes were good enough for the lower classifications of genus and species, consisting of mostly degradative genetic changes.

    Of course, the materialistic perspective of our existence is that is has been purely happenstance, entirely depending on natural events happening at random. Too many problems with this hypothesis to even start enumerating.

  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    The understanding of the Christian God is very annoying to me when people put very human limits and a human understanding on something that we cannot understand in the first place it is beyond our understanding

    The Christian God is outside of time so we might experience a time frame in which something works or happens and say it’s a very long time for such and such God to do it

    The Christian God can do it and it’s the blink of an eye for god whilst it would be millions of years to us, We experienced time God does not

    The Christian God is also the god of nature and is considered to be part of everything in all the known universe so God using supernovas to cause something is like God flicking his wrist. God is not some supernatural dude in a cloud with a white beard that magic man does not exist

  10. 10
    doubter says:

    AaronS1978@9
    I am not a Christian, but still have a spiritual belief system. This allows me to postulate that the evidence shows that spiritual beings lower than God but still vastly greater than man are probably behind evolution. These beings would still be limited by the rules of engineering in their designing organisms and evolution, would conduct trade-offs of pros versus cons considering the design goals and constraints, would re-use previously successful systems and strategems (instead of simply creating new designs de novo), and might have definite limitations in the degree to which they can intervene in the world, etc. The actual design of living organisms shows the results of this sort of process, the results of a rational systems engineering process of an extremely high level rather than what would be expected from an omnipotent and omniscient Being – a simple resort to omnipotent miraculous magic wherever something is needed.

    A materialist open-minded to the vast evidence compiled against Darwinism having the power that has been claimed, could instead surmise that the very advanced beings behind evolution are extremely advanced aliens, millions of years ahead of humanity in their scientific and technological development.

  11. 11
    AaronS1978 says:

    @doubter

    Good sir I most certainly agree with you this is something that I have actually tried to talk with many other people about multiple times but it is very hard to talk about, it is a concept that I have wondered about A lot

    Now about my last post, my contention comes from the Misconception about what Christians believe and what atheist think Christians believe

    A biennial like God, which is tied into the entirety of the whole universe would be everywhere and unaffected by time

    How long something takes is inconsequential to something that is out side of time. Furthermore something that is attached and it’s directly part of the very universe that we live in, it would not be surprising that when a supernova goes off it would be nothing more than the flick of the wrist to it, it’s all part of the same being

    The Christian God, the Catholic God is not the atheist guy that is so easily refuted. God is a spirit something that is part of everything which is emphasized the lot in the Bible

    God is not a man, God does not have an image, God is infinite without beginning and without end

    It bothers me when someone says what’s the problem with God taking his time with something or why did God do that because I don’t think it’s correct.

    all of these are strawmen and show a lack of understanding for the very subject matter that they wish to refute

    Now I’m not saying all atheists are like this but a lot of misunderstanding over what they’re arguing against stems from this misunderstanding.

    Now on what you said in your last post about aliens or better said extremely advanced beings, being the driving force behind evolution is an interesting topic I generally have a hard time talking to anyone about. One point and the topic is most people say it’s aliens but what if they were demons are angels as well and wanted demons and angels are just a name for inter-dimensional beings and so on and so forth

    I’ve always had interest in this type of topic but it really does open up a huge can of worms but I’m more than willing to spitball ideas at you

  12. 12
    jstanley01 says:

    Despite the fact that he looms rather large in the biblical story — already a snake at his first entry onstage notwithstanding that the scene is set in Paradise — there’s one being that remains mysteriously absent in every discussion revolving around theodicy that I’ve ever witnessed. You know the one, right? The liar whose greatest lie, according to some wag or other, is that he doesn’t exist?

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