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ARN Vid: Stephen Meyer and Marcus Ross on Irreducible Complexity

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Steve Meyer
Marcus Ross

The pervasive patterns of natural history seriously undermine the plausibility of neo-Darwinian theory. The disparity of the major body plans in the Cambrian explosion appear before the diversity of species. This lecture by Stephen C. Meyer and Marcus Ross is one of the best overviews available on the topic and clearly presents in verbal and pictorial summary the latest fossil data including the recent finds from Chengjiang China.

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3 Replies to “ARN Vid: Stephen Meyer and Marcus Ross on Irreducible Complexity

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    A few notes on ‘The disparity of the major body plans in the Cambrian explosion appearing before the diversity of species’:

    Challenging Fossil of a Little Fish
    Excerpt: “In Chen’s view, his evidence supports a history of life that runs opposite to the standard evolutionary tree diagrams, a progression he calls top-down evolution.”
    Jun-Yuan Chen is professor at the Nanjing Institute of Paleontology and Geology

    Investigating Evolution: The Cambrian Explosion Part 1 – (4:45 minute mark – interview on upside-down fossil record) video
    Part 2 – video

    Disparity preceding Diversity graph of Cambrian Explosion from ‘Darwin’s Doubt’

    Disparity precedes diversity – graph

    “The record of the first appearance of living phyla, classes, and orders can best be described in Wright’s (1) term as ‘from the top down’.”
    (James W. Valentine, “Late Precambrian bilaterians: Grades and clades,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 91: 6751-6757 (July 1994).)

    Jerry Coyne’s Chapter on the Fossil Record Fails to Show “Why Evolution is True” – Jonathan M. – December 4, 2012
    Excerpt: Taxonomists classify organisms into categories: species are the very lowest taxonomic category. Species are classified into different genera. Genera are classified into different families. Families are classified into different orders. Orders are classified into different classes. And classes are classified into different phyla. Phyla are among the very highest taxonomic categories (only kingdom and domain are higher), and correspond to the high level of morphological disparity that exists between different animal body plans. Phyla include such groupings as chordates, arthropods, mollusks, and echinoderms.
    Darwin’s theory would predict a cone of diversity whereby the major body-plan differences (morphological disparity) would only appear in the fossil record following numerous lower-level speciation events. What is interesting about the fossil record is that it shows the appearance of the higher taxonomic categories first (virtually all of the major skeletonized phyla appear in the Cambrian, with no obvious fossil transitional precursors, within a relatively small span of geological time). As Roger Lewin (1988) explains in Science,
    “Several possible patterns exist for the establishment of higher taxa, the two most obvious of which are the bottom-up and the top-down approaches. In the first, evolutionary novelties emerge, bit by bit. The Cambrian explosion appears to conform to the second pattern, the top-down effect.”
    Erwin et al. (1987), in their study of marine invertebrates, similarly conclude that,
    “The fossil record suggests that the major pulse of diversification of phyla occurs before that of classes, classes before that of orders, orders before that of families. The higher taxa do not seem to have diverged through an accumulation of lower taxa.”
    Indeed, the existence of numerous small and soft-bodied animals in the Precambrian strata undermines one of the most popular responses that these missing transitions can be accounted for by them being too small and too-soft bodied to be preserved.

    “Darwin had a lot of trouble with the fossil record because if you look at the record of phyla in the rocks as fossils why when they first appear we already see them all. The phyla are fully formed. It’s as if the phyla were created first and they were modified into classes and we see that the number of classes peak later than the number of phyla and the number of orders peak later than that. So it’s kind of a top down succession, you start with this basic body plans, the phyla, and you diversify them into classes, the major sub-divisions of the phyla, and these into orders and so on. So the fossil record is kind of backwards from what you would expect from in that sense from what you would expect from Darwin’s ideas.”
    James W. Valentine – as quoted from “On the Origin of Phyla: Interviews with James W. Valentine”

    Disparity preceding diversity is not only found in the Cambrian Explosion but is found after it as well.

    Scientific study turns understanding about evolution on its head – July 30, 2013
    Excerpt: evolutionary biologists,,, looked at nearly one hundred fossil groups to test the notion that it takes groups of animals many millions of years to reach their maximum diversity of form.
    Contrary to popular belief, not all animal groups continued to evolve fundamentally new morphologies through time. The majority actually achieved their greatest diversity of form (disparity) relatively early in their histories.
    ,,,Dr Matthew Wills said: “This pattern, known as ‘early high disparity’, turns the traditional V-shaped cone model of evolution on its head. What is equally surprising in our findings is that groups of animals are likely to show early-high disparity regardless of when they originated over the last half a billion years. This isn’t a phenomenon particularly associated with the first radiation of animals (in the Cambrian Explosion), or periods in the immediate wake of mass extinctions.”,,,
    Author Martin Hughes, continued: “Our work implies that there must be constraints on the range of forms within animal groups, and that these limits are often hit relatively early on.
    Co-author Dr Sylvain Gerber, added: “A key question now is what prevents groups from generating fundamentally new forms later on in their evolution.,,,

    “The point emerges that if we examine the fossil record in detail, whether at the level of orders or of species, we find’ over and over again’ not gradual evolution, but the sudden explosion of one group at the expense of another.”
    Paleontologist, Derek V. Ager (Department of Geology & Oceanography, University College, Swansea, UK)

    “It is a feature of the known fossil record that most taxa appear abruptly. They are not, as a rule, led up to by a sequence of almost imperceptibly changing forerunners such as Darwin believed should be usual in evolution…This phenomenon becomes more universal and more intense as the hierarchy of categories is ascended. Gaps among known species are sporadic and often small. Gaps among known orders, classes and phyla are systematic and almost always large.”
    G.G.Simpson – one of the most influential American Paleontologist of the 20th century

    “Given the fact of evolution, one would expect the fossils to document a gradual steady change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what the paleontologist finds. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.” –
    Ernst Mayr-Professor Emeritus, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University

    “What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin, and the continual divergence of major lineages into the morphospace between distinct adaptive types.”
    Robert L Carroll (born 1938) – vertebrate paleontologist who specialises in Paleozoic and Mesozoic amphibians

    “In virtually all cases a new taxon appears for the first time in the fossil record with most definitive features already present, and practically no known stem-group forms.”
    Fossils and Evolution, TS Kemp – Curator of Zoological Collections, Oxford University, Oxford Uni Press, p246, 1999

    Verse and Music

    Psalm 104:29-30
    Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. When You send Your breath, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth.

    Creation Calls — are you listening? Music by Brian Doerksen

  2. 2
    Eric Anderson says:

    Whew! Just finished watching the video (took a couple of days).

    Lots of stuff that most people here probably already know, but a good mid-detail-level analysis of the Cambrian Explosion characteristics and the implications for design vs. naturalistic theories (whether Darwinism, Neo-Darwinism, punctuated equilibrium, or any other theory that posits a bottoms-up view of origins).

  3. 3
    HeKS says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure why ARN bothers to enable comments on these videos. YouTube commenters seem to largely be idiots, and it seems like the dumber they are, the more inclined they are to comment. The comment section for this video would tend to confirm this assessment. For example, one genius informs us that, see, the Cambrian Explosion isn’t really a problem at all, silly people, because it’s just that the evolutionary precursors were soft-bodied and couldn’t be fossilized. That Meyer, he’s such a dope to not be aware of this obvious explanation.

    These people make authoritative pronouncements when they obviously have no clue what they’re talking about and often obviously haven’t even bothered to watch the video. And, of course, part of the reason for these drive-by comments, over and above simple stupidity, is so that when the average person stumbles across the video without knowing much about the subject they’ll see a horde of commenters saying it’s stupid, full of misinformation, dishonesty, misquotes, etc. and will move along.

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