General Question

Rarebear's avatar

Creationists: How do you explain the presence of transitional fossils?

Asked by Rarebear (25154points) August 2nd, 2010

This is in response to JLeslie’s question which has gotten out of hand with a flame war about homosexuality. JLeslie and I are seriously interested in a POLITE discussion about how Creationists explain the presence of transitional fossils. (And I’ll flag any answer that is not directly on topic).

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176 Answers

cockswain's avatar

God created the earth with a false history.

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain I’ve heard some Young Earth Creationists say just that.

YARNLADY's avatar

I just read the devil put them there to deceive people and turn them away from God.

cockswain's avatar

I forget the name of the man who put forth the theory, but it is a terrible one in that there is no way it could be disproved.

JLeslie's avatar

@cockswain What exactly does that mean? That God is trying to trick us to test our faith? That God actually created the fossils and left them laying around?

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie From what I read it’s the latter. God created an Earth with an entire history behind it. But other Young Earthers think that’s silly and just think that the Earth is much younger than it seems and everything is accelerated.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear So then accelerated during the first million or so years, but then has slowed down in present time? Or, at least the last 5 or 10,000 years? Does that try to explain carbon dating? Or, whatever means they use to ascertain how old something is?

cockswain's avatar

@JLeslie So here’s the wiki entry on the theory. In a nutshell, Gosse has decided the only way for the bible to not contradict what we see empirically (and of course the bible could not be false) was if God created an earth with a history that gave it the appearance it had existed much longer.

not my theory

gailcalled's avatar

The same way they explain the elephant with an infinite number of turtles standing on his back, or the fact that the sky is really not a dome with holes poked in it.

gorillapaws's avatar

If they’re right, Descartes must have been wrong about God not being a deceiver. This fact begs the question, if God IS a deceiver, how the hell can we trust anything? How do we know that the Bible isn’t a fabrication, or that there ever was a human history. If God is a deceiver, then we would have no way of believing/knowing/trusting anything, because it could just be him/her/it fucking with us.

Blackberry's avatar

Creationism is something like this: All of the hard work scientists did to help explain our existence with facts, god just set it all up and knew the humans would go for the bait.

Are there even creationists on Fluther? I assumed all 1,000 of them were in Texas trying to dumb their students down. I’m somewhat sarcastic with that last sentence, but my point is: Creationism is just like Mormonism, it’s so outlandish there is no point in debating against it. The basis for creationism is just putting the ‘god did it’ stamp on eveything we have discovered.

The last question we, the secular people, were trying to answer, is about the Cambrian explosion. That was/is the most current defense from the creationist I have seen so far.

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JLeslie's avatar

@Blackberry Yes there are creationists on fluther. Not sure if they are staying away from this question, or just have not been online. We are not looking to bash people’s religious beliefs or ideas about creationism on this Q. We are just interested in hearing how they explain fossils found which scientists believe help prove evolution.

Jabe73's avatar

@cockswain I brought that point up in the social section of this question. This is called the Omphalos hypothesis, it was written by Philip Henry Gosse. Most Christians do not believe this because it would make out god to be deceitful. Omphalism has another name called “Last Thursdayism”. They all basically mean the same thing.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m still trying to figure out how they explain this transitional fossil.

And even if they could, how do they explain primate olfactory genes in human pseudogenes?

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sleepdoc's avatar

I just wrote an answer on the other question which will be similar to this one. I believe that the Creator created the rules by which the universe runs. I also believe that the creator knew the beginning from the end and thus knew what various forms of life the earth could sustain in its various periods of existence. To me the notion that all life would somehow be intertwined and overlap within the creation schema is completely natural. Why would it be so hard to accept that the earth has had to go through all these changes and entry and exist of species because a creator knows when and where different forms of life are capable of surviving?

sleepdoc's avatar

Addtionally, just as there are those out there who have differing understanding and interest in evolution, there are also people who have differing understanding and interest in the creation. It would be nice if people could recognize this on both sides of this argument and not have to define one group as unintelligent or unable to think on their own.

JLeslie's avatar

@sleepdoc Yes, that is part of the reason I wanted to ask the question, to hear the differing opinions on the Creationist side. I assume your answer means you accept evolution, but that the creator planned it? Would that be correct? That you would not call evolution spontaneous?

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t believe that the creator set up the earth intially put it in motion and just left it to do what it would. I hope that answers what you are asking.

cockswain's avatar

@sleepdoc Do you believe the Creator then formed the universe and Earth billions of years before the bible states it did?

sleepdoc's avatar

@cockswain There are many parts of the old testament that if taken literally they way it is in our current language would make absolutely no sense.

cockswain's avatar

sleepdoc Oh, I don’t disagree with that statement at all. I was just wondering where you placed the line on this topic.

sleepdoc's avatar

@cockswain I mean if one wants to find things that are hard to understand based on the way they are written, just open the book of revaltion.

Buttonstc's avatar


I understand the intent of your Q. The main reason you’re probably not getting a lot of response from those who believe in a creator is because of most people’s automatic assumptionitions upon what the term “Creationist” implies.

From the comments I’ve read on both threads, the prevailing attitude seems to be that all people who believe in a Creator hold to the rigid tenets of the most verbal Young Earth Creatonists, namely Fundamentalists. Therefore all Creatonists must be opposed to both Science and Education.

Nothing could be farther from accuracy. Creatonists are not one monolithic group. There are many nuanced viewpoints which those who believe in evolution don’t acknowledge. It’s much easier to pontificate about the ramblings of the Fundamentalists because everyone is familiar with how ignorant THEY are.

In the other thread, someone even made the statement that nowhere in the Bible is intelligence praised.

Well, I guess they never read Proverbs. There it’s called Wisdom (such is the nature of translating concepts from one language to another) and it is much exalted and praised. It’s seen as a very laudable quality to possess.

I’m not going to get pedantic about it and post a bunch of Bible quotes from Proverbs. I’ll just allow those of you who think that the Bible is against intelligence to look it up for yourselves. Who knows? You might even pick up some wisdom in the process and refrain from blanket statements on something with which you are obviously unfamiliar :)

The Jewish faith is historically known for encouraging knowledge and questioning assumptions NOT for robotic adherence to dogma. Yeshivas, anyone ? Hello?

But, why bother with accuracy when a blanket statement that the Bible nowhere encourages intelligence is so much more popular and unlikely to be disputed by anyone in a scientific crowd ?

I watched that 60 Mins. piece when it was on Sun. nt and also when it first aired several months ago.

I have no problem at all with the idea that the Earth is far more likely to be millions of years old rather than several thousand.

Just because there are Creatonists who are Bible Literalists insisting that ONLY THEY are correct about the age of the Earth because they counted up all the numbers from the Bible record, doesn’t obligate everyone who believes in a Creator to fall behind them in lock step. Besides, if you’ve ever even taken a cursory look at the book of Numbers, it doesn’t take too long to figure out that there are HUGE generational gaps all over the place. The Bible ain’t a Math textbook; that’s for sure !

Sleepdoc was trying to get across the concept that there are two distinct lenses through which to view this issue and it’s doubtful that those who have no use for religion are likely to understand the perspective of those who do.

As human beings, time is a very important construct for us as it frames our comprehension of our existence.

So trying to pin down the age of the Earth and when significant changes occur become very important and in their eyes, a failure to frame EVERYTHING within those parameters is simply unacceptable and, of necessity, relegates a person like that to the status of uneducated.

And the yahoos out there who contrive any and all scenarious to try to explain away the obvious discrepancies with a 6,000 year old Earth are equally ridiculous and certainly don’t help the situation. As if God needed to resort to deception. Good grief!

But not EVERY SINGLE person who believes in a Creator is in that camp. It’s just much more convenient to relegate them all to that. Much easier to ridicule.

There is something very obvious here which I will try to state as succinctly as possible.

Time and space are pretty much irrelevant in a spiritual realm, particularly time. We are all human and limited by our finite understanding so time takes on exaggerated importance. In a spiritual realm it is meaningless.

If one believes in an immortal spirit, of what value is time?
Obviously I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t believe in that to buy into it. You’re free to believe whatever you want.

But why is it so difficult to comprehend that there are folks who believe in a Creator and don’t feel the need to shoehorn him into the narrow parameters advocated by SOME others who think they have God all in a neat little box which includes a thousands of years old Earth?

For me there is no conflict whatsoever between these fossil discoveries and the idea of a Creator. It doesn’t matter that some think I should have a conflict. I don’t. And I don’t have the least bit of compuction to prove to them why.

I also don’t need to know whether the streets in eternity will be paved with gold. There are some for whom that seems to be really important. They tend to forget that the whole book of Revelation is one giant metaphor.

Again, a spiritual realm is outside of space time parameters.

So to answer your original Q. I think those recent discoveries were great and don’t create any conflict for me at all.

And if you listened carefully to what was being said, you’ll realize that he acknowledges freely that it will take a long time for the SCIENTIFIC community to accept these finds and even longer for a consensus on how they fit in the overall picture.

So if even the scientific community doesn’t have consensus, why is it expected of all Creationists to march in lockstep with a formatted answer at the ready? I really don’t get that part of it at all.

Time is an irrelevant concept to a Creator. It has nothing to do with a spiritual realm.

Shakespeare had an instinctual understanding of precisely what I tried to get across when he wrote:

“there are more thing in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Indeed :)

sleepdoc's avatar

@Buttonstc Thanks for taking the time to write your answer

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc So what I can gather is that you’re okay with the age of the Earth as it is, but you see that the Creator shaped and molded the life? I’m still not sure of your point.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear Let me turn your question around. Where did the matter that makes up the earth come from?

tedd's avatar

Very simple answer that no one has thought of.

Why can’t the theory of evolution be the answer to how…. not the answer to why?

And as far as the bible being from god…. it was written by early christians, written down after generations (as in hundreds of years) of it being passed down verbally…. and the bible you find today in any church, is missing many of the books that it was originally written with, as the catholic church pulled them out of it for various reasons. Is it entirely impossible to believe that there might be a few mistakes in there? For instance, maybe the world is 5000 years old in “gods-time” (where as one second to god is 100 years for us mere mortals)

Not really putting down or defending either side, just putting it out there.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc Your question is off topic. I’m specifically asking about transitional fossils.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear I thought you just above asked me if I am ok with age of the earth. My point is that I don’t think the earth materialized from nothing. It came from matter. More specifically to transitional fossils, I believe they are just another one of the creations that lived in their specific place and time where conditions were optimal for them.

Buttonstc's avatar


I was busy editing and just saw your comment.

You’re welcome. I couldn’t just leave you hanging out there all by your lonesome :)

But I’m reasonbly certain that my answer, like yours, will be similarly unsatisfying to those looking to be dissatisfied.

So be it :)

missingbite's avatar

Some people of faith don’t feel the need to prove. Hence the term Faith. I have no problem not understanding everything in God’s power.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc Let me rephrase my question. Some Creationists believe that the Earth is 6000 years old. Others believe that the Earth is the (correct) age of about 4.5 billion years.

The first part of my question is which camp are you, and the second part of my question is do you believe that the transitional fossils were placed here by God, do you believe that God molded and shaped the evolution of species, or do you believe that God just created the conditions of life and then let life evolve where it would evolve? Or none of the above?

And in specific answer to your question, where the material of the Earth came from, there is an excellent Astronomy Cast episode here

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc Thank you for your answer, and I admire you and @sleepdoc for stepping into this hornets nest.

See my question above to @sleepdoc I ask the same to you. I’m wondering specifically about the transitional fossils and your perception on how they got there (ignore the bit about the Young Earthers)

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear My point earlier is that the matter that makes up the earth is what has been carbon dated. That matter is what has been dated at specific ages. Was it in the place where it is currently found can be debated.

The fossils are remnants of life, specific plants and animals that lived. Quite simply put I believe that all that has lived on the earth and will live on the earth was created by a creator.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc OK, so to close the loop (correct me if I’m wrong), life was created by a Creator and not evolved? Or do you believe that evolution is guided by a Creator?

Buttonstc's avatar

To answer your Q in part, I certainly DO NOT believe that God put them there to be deceptive.

I don’t have a problem in thinking that to one degree or another, the Creator put “the wheels in motion” so to speak.

As to how much that Creator specifically guided evolution and at which various stages, I have no idea.

And I don’t really need to. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to believe that the Creator used a natural process of evolution but also intervened at certain points. What makes that so impossible to comprehend ?

I don’t mean that you have to agree with that viewpoint yourself, but why is it so out of the question for a person who prefers to look at things from a spiritual point of view to believe that and not have a problem with it ? And why does that necessarily make them mentally defective ? That’s the type of supercilious attitude that makes people reluctant to get into this.

Only the evolutionists are presumed to be intelligent. Anyone else has to jump through hoops to prove it. I don’t regard the Dali Lami as an intellectual lightweight simply because he views things through a spiritual lens.

The opposite supposition to a Creator is that the spark of life was just random chance. I find it would be less logical and take more faith to believe that.

That’s what I mean by the dichotomy of the two perceptions. I can understand why people have a secular point of view and will only believe what their eyes can verify.

But why is it so difficult to comprehend that other (equally intelligent and well meaning) people would have a different point of view ?

And this point of view of which I speak is not limited to Christianity. Most spiritualities assume a Creator. The icky picky details of how are just not necessarily that significant to everybody.

I think some groups make fools of themselves by insisting that they have the only correct version down to the last jot and tittle.

I don’t agree with them but I’m not willing to throw out the “baby with the bathwater” to borrow a phrase. Just because they are off on a tangent, doesn’t diminish the validity of a Creator in my viewpoint. That’s a bridge too far for me.

I certainly don’t have all the answers with time and date stamps. But guess what? Neither does the theory of evolution. There isn’t just one crucial “missing link” there are hundreds. Still missing.

I’m not saying that some of them may not be found eventually, but there are plenty of other transitional finds necessary before I’m ready to subscribe wholeheartedly to all of Creation beginning with random chance. To me that’s more fantastical.

Your mileage may vary.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc I’m not sure if you’re asking rhetorical questions. I will answer them if you like.

Buttonstc's avatar

Please do.

Rarebear's avatar

What makes that so impossible to comprehend ?
It’s not difficult to comprehend. It’s just that there’s no evidence for it. There’s plenty of evidence to support evolution by natural selection. If you can provide verifiable scientific evidence that a Creator did the work in place of natural selection, by all means, post it.

And why does that necessarily make them mentally defective ?
Mentally defective? I never said that. I think I’ve been pretty respectful, actually.

But why is it so difficult to comprehend that other (equally intelligent and well meaning) people would have a different point of view ?
Again, you are skipping over the main context of the question. I asked about transitional fossils. I obviously believe that people have different points of view otherwise I wouldn’t have asked the question.

Most spiritualities assume a Creator But not all require it. I’m an observant Jew and also an atheist.

There isn’t just one crucial “missing link” there are hundreds. Still missing.
Okay, such as?

but there are plenty of other transitional finds necessary before I’m ready to subscribe wholeheartedly to all of Creation beginning with random chance.
Well, this statement is difficult because you obviously have some understanding of evolution, but not a complete one. May I suggest a book? It’s actually a children’s book but I’ve read it several times and it’s absolutely outstanding. Evolution by Dan Loxton. I’m not trying to be condescending by suggesting a children’s book, but it seriously is good. If you want an adult book, I highly recommend Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True.

If/when you read those books, you’ll get a basic understanding of why and how evolution works.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear Yes I believe all life is created by a creator. And before you go on, there is no proof of a creator nor will there ever be. But a creator has to operative according to the laws of nature that exist.

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc I certainly did not think that all creationsists think exactly the same, that is why I asked the question originally on the other Q, to hear the varied opinions. Since I most often talk to and am around people who generalize about what creationists believe, I felt my knowledge was lacking, and assumptions could be incorrect. Better to ask the very people who hold these thoughts and beliefs. I also have stated many times on various thread that believing that God is the creator is not necessarily mutually exclusive from accepting evolution. I would say the majority of my Catholic friends believe in both.

I also want to state that when I ask someone to explain further on this topic, it is not to find a hole in their theory, but to better understand and clarify.

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie And we thank you for taking that stance, for letting there be an opportunity for others to express their view instead of merely condemning them.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc I’m not going to debate the existence or non existence of God. Not my point on this question. No worries there.

Okay, you said, “All life is created by a creator.” I’m unsure what that means. You are the product of conception between your genetic mother and father. You are “created” by that. Are you saying that God created you and that your parents are just secondary?

I’m not being deliberately glib—I’m really trying to understand the statement “All life is created by a creator”.

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, this is I think when communication is very difficult between creationists, theists, the religious, scientists, atheists etc. We don’t really understand how each other uses various terms. I think that is why @Rarebear, I, and others ask for more information, we really dont know exactly what the terms refer to, the definition being used.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear The creator made many living things able to reproduce. He created them with that ability.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wow. I had something I wanted to say, something a young earth person said that could account for the fossils (the flood did it) but I think I’ll just watch instead.

@sleepdoc You’re doing a good job, and I, too, admire you for standing up for what you believe in.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc Okay, good. Now, let’s look at speciation. When a new species is evolved in an ecological niche, is that the work of God, or the work of natural selection?

sleepdoc's avatar

just for the record I would not call myself a creationist but one who belives in a creator. Maybe for some that is the same

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc Understood. So do you believe in evolution by natural selection?

sleepdoc's avatar

This will be my last post for today. And who knows where this thread will be by the time I get back to it tomorrow.

@Rarebear The universe and therefor this planet are all governed by natural laws that we set in place by the creator. The way I see it when we study those laws (science) we are attempting to understand how the laws work. As we progress we sometimes discover we had it right and other times that we were wrong (as has been citied so many time, the earth is flat, the earth is the center of the universe).

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc OK. So to just to answer my original question, and tell me if I’m not stating your point of view, you have no problem with transitional fossils because you see the world as being created by the Creator, but then left to its own devices as to how it evolves?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear He may have logged off already. I don’t think that is what @sleepdoc thinks although I want to see how he answers your conclusion. @sleepdoc wrote above to me I don’t believe that the creator set up the earth intially put it in motion and just left it to do what it would. I hope that answers what you are asking. This is why I think the communication is so tricky. What do you think?

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie I know it. That’s why I’m trying to understand exactly what he thinks.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I feel for the creationists. They get themselves between a rock and a hard spot. On top of it all is the belief that God will sever ties with them if they acknowledge evolution, which I don’t understand. I don’t have any problem reconciling the two.

Rarebear's avatar

@Dutchess_III How do you reconcile it? You know how I do.

Buttonstc's avatar

How on earth did you come to the conclusion that we think God is going to sever ties because of acknowledging evolution ?

I have already acknowledged that I don’t find them incompatible and that God was perfectly capable of using an evolutionary process.

THIS is the kind of generalizations to which I made previous reference.

For the record, I’m not biting my nails about ties being severed. I don’t regard being fickle as an attribute of God.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc Let me ask you the same question I asked @sleepdoc. Do you believe in evolution by natural selection?

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc But, there does seem to be people who will not acknowledge evolution. I have a Mormon friend who thinks it is ridiculous that people evoluted from primates. During the presidential primaries candidates were asked if they believed in evolution and I think 3 or 4 of the Republcians answered no. I would assume some people believe in evolution, but maybe not for human beings? I am sure there is a whole range of beliefs on the topic.

Buttonstc's avatar

@Rarebear @JL

My caviling about the assumptive attitudes of others was not directed specifically at you two but at plenty of others. This isn’t the first time I’ve wandered down this road. The previous post about severing ties is just one MINOR example. The blanket statement in the previous thread about the Bible devaluing intelligence was another. Blanket assumptions based upon…....who knows what ?


Since I don’t claim to be a scientist I can’t give you all the specific examples of the missing links in the evolutionary chain. It would be foolish to expect to when Darwin acknowledged that very thing in several chapters of his book. He was quite disappointed in the paucity of the fossil records. That’s not exactly a news flash.

He was expecting to find much much more physical backup in the form of transitional fossils to confirm his theory. That’s no big secret.

Neither does it disprove evolutionary theory. But it certainly doesn’t convince me enough to toss the concept of a Creator out the window either.

But the primary point for me is that there had to be a starting point. I happen to believe that that starting point involved a Creator who is larger than our ability to perceive.

It wasn’t just a random assortment of molecules which just happened to come together.

Can I prove that? No. But neither can it be disproven. Evolution (WITHOUT a Creator) is as much of a theory as Creationism. People can try to present it as irrefutable fact ( and I refer to BOTH sides here) but that simply isn’t true.

Please note the important part of my statement ( MINUS a Creator) because that is generally what Evolutionists include as part of that definition. If I’m mistaken about that please let me know.


I would also be interested in your definition of the phrase “observant Jew” and what that means for you. I don’t want to make assumptions from how other Jewish folks whom i’ve spoken to about stuff like this would define it. I’d like to know on a practical level for you.

I have difficulty trying to figure out why someone who self defines as atheist (rather than agnostic) would want to observe any religious customs at all since those observances presuppose the existence of God for their raison d’être. Interesting.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc I will explain my Jewish atheist thing to you. But first I don’t see that you answered my yes or no question. Do you, or do you not believe in evolution by natural selection. You can say the Creator started it all, I won’t quibble that point right now.

Buttonstc's avatar


Well, I certainly can’t speak for the Mormons as I think they went too far out on an untenable limb a long way back.

My guess on some of the Republican candidates (other than Romney) is that their views on evolution are a whole lot more nuanced in reality than their religious base is willing to accept.

But as in many other topics, they have been straitjacketed by their advisers to speak in certain soundbites. I wouldn’t be looking to them as prime examples of viewpoints on evolution and creationism.

They’re going to say what they think will get them elected. Yeah I’m cynical enough to believe that most politicians are so ethically challenged (to put it mildly) that it removes them as role models for spiritual living and thinking.

There are a few exceptions. Very very few.

Buttonstc's avatar

Totally by natural selection. No. I don’t think I would have any basis for believing that.

As I said previously, if an all wise Creator started life and instituted natural laws to govern things from there on, that doesn’t necessarily obligate Him to just stand by observing passively.

Some have used the analogy of the precision watchmaker setting everything in motion and that’s it. I don’t believe it has to be that way. But if it is I don’t necessarily have a problem with that per se. But then how can the miraculous be accounted for.

I don’t know whether that satisfies or not (and I have no idea if sleepdoc views it the same) but its how i honestly see it and that’s what I’m comfortable with for me.

I realize that may not enough for many others. But that goes back to what I said about the two points of view.

If one prefers a spiritual point of view, it isn’t that imperative to require God to dot every i and cross every t.

Somewhere in all of that is the ineffable quality of trust. Or that much overused and misunderstood word faith.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc Okay, fair enough. I appreciate your answer. I do encourage you to look at those two books I mentioned above; when you read them you will better understand the process of natural selection and why it so wonderfully describes the biological world around us so incredibly well.

In terms of being an atheist Jew, I light candles every Friday night. I have mezzuzim on my doorstops. I build a sukkot, I observe the rituals of most Jewish holidays. I blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. I go to services (although not as often as I’d like). My daughter goes to Hebrew school. I tell Jewish jokes. God has nothing to do with any of that.

Buttonstc's avatar

That’s certainly an interesting way to look at it. Are you saying that FOR YOU, God doesn’t have anything to do with it because it is a cultural and familial tradition and you see no reason to abandon it ?

To just make the assertion that God has nothing to do with it for anybody is a little ludicrous because those holidays and rituals all have a basis in worship or obedience to God.

I would have to look it up, but I know that the Mezzuzah on each doorway is supposed to contain Biblical text (the word of God) and people are commanded to place it upon their doorways etc. I’ll have to find it to quote it accurately.

But it’s the exact same symbolism as the phylacteries worn by the Orthodox on the forehead and arms when they pray.

Passover has nothing but symbolism relating to God and is a memorial reenactment of Gods special preservation. The primary difference being that it no longer requires the slaying of a literal lamb and smearing it’s blood literally on the lintels of your doorway.

How does that not have anything to do with God ?

But if you simply mean that it has nothing to do with God FOR YOU ONLY I guess that makes sense in a way.

What ever would you do if the Lubavitchers ever managed to convert your daughter to Orthodoxy after that fantastic Hebrew school preparation?

Just kidding. I’m sure you would love her exactly the same but I’m sure there would be many interesting conversations :)

“When I see the blood I shall pass over you”

I found the Mezzuzzah reference, for interest’s sake.

Deuteronomy 6:6–9

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc Okay, we’re getting off topic now, but that’s okay. I think the question has been more or less answered by you and @sleepdoc—at least as much as @JLeslie and I are going to get out of you guys.

I follow the Jewish traditions for a simple reason. It’s my heritage, my culture, and I enjoy them. I enjoy the ritual, the song, and especially the food. My father was an atheist and my grandfather was not only an atheist, but an orthodox Jew as well. He told me, “I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in being Jewish.”

Your internet references are correct. The Mezuzzah and the phylacteries do have prayers in them, quite religious ones that have God all over them. That’s okay. I’m comfortable in the dichotomy, and most Jews I talk to about it are also. Judaism at its core is humanism. You can be a theistic humanistic or a secular humanist, but it’s humanist. My views are best summed up by a famous story of Rabbi Shammai and Rabbi Hillel:

Rabbi Shammai was an engineer, known for the strictness of his views. The Talmud tells that a gentile came to Shammai saying that he would convert to Judaism if Shammai could teach him the whole Torah in the time that he could stand on one foot. Shammai drove him away with a builder’s measuring stick! Hillel, on the other hand, converted the gentile by telling him, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc The Jewish thing can be very confusing underestandably. I see it more as tradition and maintaining a Jewish household than whether the rules actually came from God or not. I am not sure if @Rarebear would say the same. Actually, since he uses observant he probably keeps kosher when out also, or tries to come close.

I agree the politicians are trying to play to their voters, but that means a portion of the voters don’t believe in evolution I would guess.

I agree science is still trying to fill in the gaps with evolution theory, but there is scientific proof regarding evolution.

Buttonstc's avatar


That’s kind of what I figured as a good friend of mine for many years is Orthodox and describes himself as agnostic.
He is also one of the most genuinely deeply ethical people I’ve encountered.

He was raised in an Orthodox family and as you probably realize, it impinges upon his daily life in myriad ways. He doesn’t only keep kosher, it’s Glatt kosher. And the few times he eats out, it has to also be Glatt kosher under the supervision of a specific Rabbi.

He worked as a computer consultant so each new assignment he had to negotiate some flexibility in his work hours (particularly in winter) in order to be able to make it to Temple prior to sundown each Fri.

Being an observant Jew for him (with only one notable major exception) entailed a great deal of effort in myriad ways so I was quite puzzled the first time he told me he was agnostic.

So my logical question was, if you doubt that a God even exists why do you go out of your way to obey every jot and tittle of the law in nearly everything you do on a daily basis, if you don’t even know if all that effort will be for nought (if God doesn’t exist). His answer was classic. “Just in case”. :)

We had many many interesting conversations over the 10 years in a rather large house share.

I like your Rabbi Hillel illustration. I’m assuming your aware that Jesus, who was also a Jew, said something quite similar. “Love God with all your heart soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself. Upon this is based all the law and the prophets.”

Other religions emphasize karma which is basically do unto others as you want done to you.

Perhaps sleepdoc can offer you and JL more scientifically oriented viewpoints on the issue of evolution and creation.

I majored in English, so for me to pretend that Science is my forte would be foolish indeed.

But I’m definitely looking forward to finding and reading the children’s book you mentioned. I don’t find it the least bit insulting. To be able to explain something well enough to make it comprehensible to a child takes a lot of thought and skill. I don’t regard that lightly.

I’m curious as to whether you’ve read the book referenced in the other thread written by the scientist studying the Human Genome Project who could see the Creator evident the more he realized the intricacy of the DNA.

If you want some insight into how a scientist can possibly believe in Creation, that might be your best shot.

I haven’t read the book but I’ve read articles about him and interviews with him.

If you want a scientists point of view about creation, seems like he would be the go-to guy.
Just a thought.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc Okay, to be clear, I’m a Reform Jew. I don’t strive to follow the 613 laws like your Orthodox friend. To me, observant means following the Hillel example and I do the holidays and services simply because I enjoy them and it’s part of my own personal history. Also, your Jesus quote is actually from the Old Testament and is the second part of the Sh’ma—the prayer that is in the Mezuzzim. V’ahavta et adonai elocheha, v’chol l’vavcha, u’vchol nafshecha, u’v’chol m’eodecha. “You shall love the lord your god, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”

In terms of Francis Collins, I haven’t read his book nor do I intend to. Not that I have anything against Collins, but I have far too many books and too little time to read them. I have, however, heard many interviews with him. Here is a good one. It is notable that Collins completely accepts evolution as established scientific fact, as does Kenneth Miller, a staunch evolutionist and Catholic. They are both proponents of Theistic Evolution. It’s a concept that I don’t agree with but I have no problem with people who do. Theistic Evolution proponents do not deny (and in Collins and Miller’s sake, actively promote) the established facts of evolution. I’m okay with that. My more militant Hitchens/P.Z. Myers-oriented atheist friends will argue even that point, but I generally don’t bother.

You also may be interested in an interview with Solomon Schimmel, who is an atheist Orthodox Jew.

I do recommend those two books if you want to learn more.

gailcalled's avatar

This Q & As is a perfect example of Fluther at its best. It is informative, courteous, clear, and has evolved into a really interesting dialog between @Rarebear and @Buttonstc.

Nullo's avatar

I’m not even entirely certain that they’ve found transitional fossils.

Rarebear's avatar

@Nullo They most certainly have. Would you like me to link you to some examples?

Rarebear's avatar

Thanks Gail! Button seems like a thoughtful fellow (or lass)

JLeslie's avatar

@Buttonstc You might like the Idiots Guide to Jewish History and Culture. An Easy read that captures well the Jewish American Experience and provides explanations of how and why Jews are how they are. How they practice their faith or don’t practice, customs, why you see a lot of Jews in comedy and acting and banking and medicine and law, etc. It’s easy to just skim through it, written with a sense of humor.

Nullo's avatar

@Rarebear In fact, I have the Wikipedia list not three tabs over from this one. What I meant is that I’m not convinced that these fossils actually depict a transitional organism.
Sorry, I should have been clearer.

Rarebear's avatar

@Nullo Okay, when I get home, I’ll show you some examples. Actually, maybe not tonight as I’m seeing Salt, but I’ll definitely do it within the next day. If you’re interested, that is.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo But, you believe those fossils are from beings that did exist, previously lived on earth? You are just saying you don’t think it necessarily relates to evolution. Is that correct?

sleepdoc's avatar

@Dutchess_III I don’t understand your statement about God severing ties. If you carefully read my comments thus far, you will see that there was no mention of God in them. As it happens I do believe in God and God as a creator, but one does not have to believe in God to believe in a creator.

@ Rarebear It is my belief that God did not finish the creation until Mankind (this is not meant to be a sexist statement) was on the earth. Therefore he created until this happened. So all the changes that occur until that point in the appearance of living things on the earth were part and parcel of the creation. You keep asking me if I believe that it happened by evolution and by natural selection. The answer is I don’t know and really nobody knows. We are still trying to explaing the facts we observe i(e the fossils you began this question with) with theories that seem to tie everything together. As far as I know, there has never been observed that one species was observed to evolve into another. That would be irrefutable evidence that evolution occurs. If you could demonstrate that by changing something in an organisms surrounding that an organsim with a different trait then was the only one able to reproduce then you would have proven natural selection. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think anyone has yet demonstrated either of these. With by the scientific method (which I was beaten mercilessly over my head in the other question) means that both of these are still hypotheses, as of yet unproven by exerimentation.

I hope that answers what you were asking.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc It answers what I understand about your position. You posted some incorrect statements, though, which I will point out. Here is the crux of your post:

As far as I know, there has never been observed that one species was observed to evolve into another. That would be irrefutable evidence that evolution occurs. If you could demonstrate that by changing something in an organisms surrounding that an organsim with a different trait then was the only one able to reproduce then you would have proven natural selection.

There are actually many examples of this. If you like, I will show them to you.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear There was someone who just posted something on the other question and so far in it I don’t see an example of exactly this. I have seen attempts at trying to cross breed things and have success at that I would not call this natural selection though.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc So you would you like me to show you examples of evolution by natural selection or not? I’m not following the other quesiton as I got sick of the homosexual flame war. If you like, you can repost that link and I’ll look at it.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear If you wish to post it because you feel I have misrepresented something that is fine. I don’t really think it has any bearing on my position stated above, because as I stated I don’t believe the creation process was complete until Humans were on the earth and I believe a creator operated within the laws of the universe many of which we already understand, some which we are still working to understand, and some which we can’t yet really explain.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc Okay, so you’re saying that you’ll keep your beliefs no matter what I post? If so, then I won’t bother, since it will involve going to my books and doing some research for you. I wasn’t planning on doing just a simple google search.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear… If your are posting it to change what I believe about the creation then no if won’t change what I believe.

cockswain's avatar

I hope no one is offended by this statement, but it appears @sleepdoc and @Buttonstc, although unquestionably intelligent and thoughtful people, have not actually read significant scientific works on the technical aspects of evolutionary theory. Do you guys think that is a fair statement, that in your lifetimes you honestly have not read several books devoted to the subject? Again, I’m not trying to attack. My experience has been that a lot of people who don’t embrace the theory are frequently not explicitly familiar with it.

sleepdoc's avatar

@cockswain… I have read. But as I stated above the scientific method is hypothesis, experiment and theory. Has that occured in regards to this principle?

Buttonstc's avatar


Your comments are appreciated, but let’s not leave out Ricky Schroeder (sleepdoc)
who is doing the heavy lifting on the specific scientific parts of all of this :)

And doing quite a good job of it, might I add.

Rarebear's avatar

@Buttonstc No he’s not! He’s just putting out platitudes and when I offer to show him some real evidence he tells me he’s going to believe what he wants no matter what I post. At least you’re willing to go out and read and educate yourself.

Buttonstc's avatar


It’s perfectly understandable to me how you reconcile your Jewishnes with your Atheism.
I was assuming that your primary enjoyment was the cultural and familial aspects and the fact that this all of this was connected with God was basically irrelevant.

But I realize that the term “observant” means different things to different people.

As a matter of fact, your practice strikes me as more logical than my Orthodox friend.

I initially was puzzled because of the sheer amount of time, energy and effort which he put into his observance while doubting the very existence of the One for whom this was being done. It seemed incongruous to me to be following the commandments of One whose very existence you doubt.

But his explanation obviously made sense for him. He’s hedging his bets and that works for him :)

When I included that paraphrase of what Jesus said, I was assuming it’s Jewish origin. After all, he was raised in an observant Jewish household typical of that time.

But there is congruence of the principle iterated can be found in numerous spiritualities and I enjoy finding and discussing incidences of congruity in various spiritual paths.

Buttonstc's avatar

I was writing the above before you just posted your recent comment so let me just make this observation.

Because of his medical training, I’m assuming that his reading of many aspects of science give him the basis for making a statement like that far more authoritative than mine.

I’m willing to do more reading simply because I would expect it far more likely that I may discover more gaps in my understanding than there would be in his.

But one of the Qs I wanted to ask you is this.

Do you expect that a fuller understanding of natural selection (upon which you have placed a spotlight) will inevitably diminish or outright eliminate belief in a Creator?

That’s a tall order.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@sleepdoc and @Buttonstc Didn’t mean you personally. In the 80’s I was very involved in a Pentecostal church. They did everything they could think of to discount evolution, dino fossils, everything. The overall, underlying theme was “If you accept evolution as a fact then you are denying God. You are denying everything in the Bible. You are denying God’s word.” They stopped short of saying “You Will Go To Hell!” because it wasn’t that kind of Fire and Brimstone kind of church. However, I rejected that message (just like I looked askance at the Speaking in Tongues thing!) but so many of the people I went to church with were….afraid. Afraid to really really look at the facts and maybe accept them. I’m not saying ALL Christians believe they’ll Go To Hell if they accept the evidence for evolution, but so many are afraid of that in the back of their minds.

@Rarebear I reconcile that simply because I believe human science can explain many things, but there are somethings we have yet to understand. Just because we can’t measure it, see it, feel it doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Just because we can’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not real. It’s kind of the reverse of those who refuse to accept evolution simply because they can’t fathom it. I think it’s arrogant to assume we know everything or can ever know everything.

sleepdoc's avatar

@ Rarebear You made the assumption that I needed to read more to have a better understanding of evolution and the discoveries surrounding it. My statement was not meant as that. I have read enough to have seen what is out there. The fact is that the term evolution is becoming more and more broadly used. Some are saying that what I would called migration of the genome, meaning that the genome is changing but the species is not, as evolution. Addtionally what I have be saying is not a platitude as I am not claiming that my statements are original.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@sleepdoc I chime in with “Do you accept the evidence that evolution happens?” The finches on Galapagos Island, for example. They have changed entire species in a matter of a few hundred years, and said change has been documented.

Buttonstc's avatar


I’ll accept your statement that you don’t mean to be offensive.

To a degree, I can understand your assumption about me, but why on earth would you assume the same about someone as trained in the sciences as an Md?

And what precisely do you mean by “embrace” the theory?

Does embracing this theory automatically cancel out simultaneous belief in a Creator? Why?

At least you correctly define it as a theory. Why would I want to abandon belief in a Creator for a different theory?

(and I do acknowledge that a Creator is also a theory in that it is not provable in a concrete irrefutable way)

But intuitively, I find a Creator far more probable than some magical random nothingness beginning a process of such incredible complexity.

And to turn the situation around; how many staunch evolutionists have bothered to do even the most cursory reading investigating a Creation hypothesis. And I don’t mean in place of evolution but rather in conjunction with it.

Have you read Francis Collins who acknowledges both? Have you even heard of Meredith Kline who has done a rather profound exegesis on the metaphorical description of Creation as found in Genesis?

Not EVERYBODY is a Bible literalist or chooses to wear ignorance like a badge.

I think that possibly one of the reasons you would presume lack of reading and ignorance on our parts is because that’s far more comfortable for you and in line with the loudmouth antagonistic uneducated types that you are used to?

It’s far harder to reconcile the thought that someone who is well read and well educated could still manage to cling to such an archaic notion as a Creator. How quaint.

But, sleepdoc and I are not some weird anomaly to be pitied. There are plenty of educated people who are well versed in ALL of the science and find that it strengthens their belief in a Creator.

I doubt that either you or I or most people could begin to scratch the surface of Collin’s understanding of DNA and the human genome and he managed to see the work of God in it. Go figure.

Not everyone who believes in God is an ignoramus yahoo. There are many people far more well educated and brilliant than anyone on this thread who believe in a Creator.

The Bible is definitely not the best text for coherent explanations of scientific principles and significant portions of it contain a lot of metaphor.

So it’s not a Science text. So what?

Someone in the original thread confidently asserted that nowhere in the Bible is intelligence considered a virtue.

If one is going to make a statement like that, wouldn’t it be logical to have read it to ascertain if that statement has any validity at all. I refer you to the book of Proverbs where wisdom is frequently praised.

The non-reading laziness cuts both ways.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Dutchess III Will you please give a citation, so I can answer after seeing what you are referring to, just so there is no confusion? Because I feel there is a fair bit of that going on in the other question on here in a similar vein.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc You said, “Does embracing this theory automatically cancel out simultaneous belief in a Creator? Why?” Exactly! It doesn’t! Not for me, anyway.

Hang on @sleepdoc. I don’t have much time, but I’ll do what I can….

Dutchess_III's avatar

@sleepdoc It’s on the fly, but here’s a good starting point

sleepdoc's avatar

@Dutchess_III I am reading it. Interesting thing that stands out in one of the first paragraphs.

Darwin thought in terms of “centres of creation” and rejected ideas of transmutation of species

sleepdoc's avatar

@Dutchess_III Ok from what I read there, I don’t see anything that would refute what I have said about the creation. There are a whole lot of finches he discovered which have polymorphism. Is that a concrete proof of evolution?

Dutchess_III's avatar

—@sleepdoc Of course it stand out in the first paragraph! I googled “Finches on Galapagos Island.” There are also the tortoises to consider and the sea faring iguanas, that are found no place but on the Galapagos Islands. Darwin initially rejected the “ideas of transmutation of species” but after reviewing, over and over, the evidence before his eyes, he had to change his mind….that’s the whole point. Transmutation of the species was right there. He couldn’t deny it. Although he was a Christian, and had a hard time reconciling his evidence with what he’d been taught in the churches he didn’t really feel that he had any other choice…. The evidence was too clear.

Really, I gotta go. I promise I haven’t trans mutated into a chicken. I really have to go!!

sleepdoc's avatar

@Dutchess III So for you genetic polymorphism is concrete proof of evolution? I can accept that you see it differently than I do. I still don’t believe that it contradicts what I have said about what I believe about creation. Unless you can prove that it happened after the human species showed up on the earth.

JLeslie's avatar

I can’t remember if I asked this already on one of the threads, is it offensive to people who doubt evolution that possibly humans came from primates? Sometimes I get the feeling it is replulsive to some people, just the idea of it. Nothing to do with God, scientific evidence, creation, just how a person feels about it on an emotional level.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear Also in regard to your last statement at the outset you stated, “POLITE discussion about how Creationists explain the presence of transitional fossils” I am having a polite discussion with you. I never expressed to you that I needed to be convinced as to a belief different from my own just like I have not asked you to change what you think.

Buttonstc's avatar


My Q was primarly directed to @cockswain but I appreciate your viewpoint.

His premise seems to be that if only sleepdoc and I had done more scientific reading and understood it better then we wouldn’t have the beliefs we do.

Or else why would it matter how much we have or haven’t read?

I’ve certainly read ENOUGH to know exactly why I believe what I do. I didn’t just accept it because it was spoonfed to me.

I doubt highly that a more complete understanding of the theory which would satisfy him would essentially change my beliefs.

But neither do I see any harm in doing so and if I can come to a more thorough understanding of the subject I see no reason not to pursue Rarebear’s recommendations.

But I’m assuming sleepdoc has been down this path already. There is a lot of scientific reading required for both pre-med students as well as those who obtain their Md. so I understand his position.

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t believe I can be offended by what others believe. Sometimes I don’t agree with them and if they ask I will let them know I think differently, but other’s beliefs don’t offend me. I am not sure if I am representing this perfectly but I was told in the other question that apes and humans come from a common ancestor, I guess primate fits that role right. Maybe just semantics, but I was corrected on it.

Buttonstc's avatar


You’re asking about people who doubt evolution. There aren’t any currently participating on this thread (except possibly Nullo who hasn’t been really clear yet) as both sleepdoc and I acknowledge that we don’t doubt evolution.

However, let me ask you to clarify. Anyone I’ve ever spoken with who self describes as an Evolutionist means evolution MINUS a Creator.

That’s a different thing altogether. Obviously I disagree with evolution without a creator.

Clarify your definition of evolution for the purpose of your question about apes and I’ll answer if it applies to what I do or don’t believe.

I’m not trying to dodge. For me it’s a critical point.

I do know how the Fundys most likely feel about it but I don’t want to be assumed to be in that category. There’s enough of that going on already. (Not from you, but in general)

JLeslie's avatar

@sleepdoc Not sure we are talking about the same idea. You are saying you are willing to agree to disagree I think. I am saying if it is proven, or if the skies open up and God or the creator shows himself and answers all the great questions of our time, and it turns out through all of these vehicles we know humans and apes came from common ancestors to use th ephrase you provided, is that appauling to some people? The idea of being related to a monkey so to speak.

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie To keep the discussion on topic and be polite and as non-inflammatory as possible. I am going to decline to answer that question.

Buttonstc's avatar


If you are sure that you really want to explore all the parameters of this sticky wicket, in fairness to Rarebear, it would most likely be better suited to a separate Q.

If you just want a quick down and dirty answer, I can sum up the Fundy attitude in a nutshell for you.

What I feel and believe about it is a whole nuther issue altogether involving concepts like Spirit, soul, body and what distinguishes one from another.

Clearly it’s own tangent.

JLeslie's avatar

Huh, interesting. I respect you want to keep it off of this Q, but I find it surprising there is not a quick answer. It did not even have to be a personal opinion, but maybe an observation of others. As I stated it is more of a feeling I get, the expression on someone’s face as they talk about it.

I asked because I think if it is upsetting to someone to think it, then they will not want to believe the idea of evolution. They are less likely to have an open mind.

Anyway, we’ll let it lie as requested.

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie This is one of those chicken and egg questions I think.

Buttonstc's avatar

Depends upon who the someone is that you’re referring to ;)

But I will say that your instinct is probably right.

JLeslie's avatar

@sleepdoc Nah. Not sure what you are thinking? I figure they think animals are on a different level than human beings. Again, we will let it lie.

cockswain's avatar

@Buttonstc To the extent that I’ve made a possibly incorrect assertion you aren’t explicitly familiar with the technical aspects of evolution (only because you admitted yourself to not be a scientist), you’ve made a lot of assumptions about my attitude towards you specifically. I don’t think you are an ignorant, thoughtless bible-thumper, which is why I stated “although unquestionably intelligent and thoughtful people…”.

I don’t know that you want me to respond to each question you ask, but the general gist is that, despite the fact you’ve explicitly stated your views on evolution aren’t driven necessarily from the bible, I view you as though you do, and I’m therefore just another asshole out to antagonize you on the subject. Not the case. One could theoretically believe in a Creator that set the laws in place from which evolution then naturally occurs. So, no believing the theory of evolution does not have to preclude belief in a Creator. It absolutely precludes belief in the bible’s description of how species were all created and are separate. That is what a lack of technical knowledge of the theory will prevent one from realizing.

I keep referring back to look at your questions, but again you really just keep stating I’m only of the opinion you’re ignorant. The fact you’ve decided that it seems reasonable that (and maybe I’m taking liberties with your view) that natural selection has been not completely random and has been on occasion directed by a divine hand doesn’t seem like a whacked out idea to me. I neither emphatically agree or disagree with it. I basically am of the viewpoint that while it may have been divinely guided, there is no convincing evidence it has so therefore I can’t adjust my views to believe it has. I just think the universe itself is God, and don’t necessarily think there is a conscious effort to evolve certain creatures in certain directions. Is the universe self-aware? Now there’s a discussion I’d love to have.

So I’m not calling you an ignoramus at all. You’re passionate in your beliefs, and you don’t eliminate obvious facts from your thinking. I happen to have a pretty detailed understanding of DNA and it’s evolution from school as well as work. I’ve been working in biotech for over ten years, have been published as a chemist in the field of synthetic nucleotides (not as the primary inventor), and the product our company makes is small synthetic pieces of RNA that can inhibit genes from expressing themselves (RNAi, if you’re looking for an interesting technology to read up on). I also participated in an aspect of the Human Genome Project around 2000–2001, managing the DNA synthesis lab that was providing single stranded DNA for detecting polymorphisms in the Japanese genome. So my apologies if I came off as condescending by stating you were possibly not well-versed in the technical aspects of evolutionary DNA. While I wouldn’t call myself a leader in the field at all, it is fair to say I have a solid understanding of a lot of the chemistry and biology of it all.

Has learning all of that led me to believe all physics is consciously directed? No, but not impossible either. Has it led me to believe there are people who got bored studying the subject? Yes.

Buttonstc's avatar

OK. Fair enough.

I was far more questioning you suppositions about sleepdoc since you included us both in your assumption.

I have had discussions on all of this numerous times and perhaps I’m projecting too much of the supercillious attitudes of evolutionists generally. Most simply have little regard for anyone who prefers viewing through a spiritual lens and come off as very dismissive.

The assumption usually is that we are the ones in need of an attitude adjustment and if we would only take the time to study the scientific facts then we would be free to appreciate science in all it’s glory. After awhile it just becomes tiresome.

Most people go through a period in their lives when there is an intensive focus upon which worldview they find logical for them.

This is when the primary “lens” through which they tend to view most things is developed.

If someone has firmly decided that they are more comfortable with a secular humanist, agnostic or atheist point of view I assume that they have put considerable thought into that process and I’m not looking to change their minds. I assume they have put sufficient effort into their search and are no longer searching.

Unfortunately that attitude isn’t usually accorded anyone with the audacity to state a belief in God. The general assumption is that we’re just parroting whatever our upbringing brainwashed us into. In my case I grew up in a totally non religious family. I chose my beliefs carefully and adjusted accordingly over a long period of time with a lot of research inany areas. So brainwashing doesn’t apply to me. Naturally I’m not fond of those who assume that if I’d just looked a little harder, I’d be able to go through life free of this annoying spiritual crutch keeping me from fully appreciating the majesty of scientific knowledge.

There are two distinct lenses through which most people choose to view most of life and there just isn’t much comprehension of how those with the other lens see things.

Altho this is the first discussion of THIS type I’ve chosen to participate in (primarily because I believe that JL was not asking about this with any hidden agenda) I’ve been around Fluther long enough to witness how anyone presenting a Theist point of view is treated. So, I’m understandably gunshy as i’ve already witnessed the outright contempt displayed toward pretty much any religious viewpoint. Most people expressing a spiritual point of view is presumed “less than” or uneducated compared to the rest of the enlightened cognescenti. Enough have displayed this type of contempt that I can safely say it’s widespread. Is it any wonder Theists get defensive? So far the only person I’ve witnessed getting a pass has been Judy. Too bad she’s not around now :)

If I made unfair assumptions about your attitude I apologize. I do realize that not everyone on Fluther holds a supercilious
attitude, but I’ve seen enough viciousness on many previous threads.

As far as I know there aren’t any Fluther regulars espousing Fundy intolerance so I don’t know why so many people get their hackles up.

If this discussion helps to change that that’s fine with me. But that’s not why I chose to participate. An honest Q was asked and I did my best to answer it from my particular viewpoint. That’s it.

Rarebear's avatar

Just got back from band practice, so catching up on the posts.
@Buttonstc Do you expect that a fuller understanding of natural selection (upon which you have placed a spotlight) will inevitably diminish or outright eliminate belief in a Creator?

Of course not. I really don’t care if someone believes in God or not. Most of my friends are theistic evolutionists. What I care about is that they believe in science. As I mentioned above Francis Collins and Ken Miller are both devout Christians and have a full understanding and belief in evolution. Matt Browne is a theistic evolutionist, as is Realeyes. I have had some debates with them, but never has it been about evolution. And by the way, I’m also a physician, just FYI. But I’ve studied evolution in detail and have read several books devoted purely to the subject. I know a lot about it.

@sleepdoc I apologize for the platitude remark and my tone in that one post. It was uncalled for. Evolution, to simplify it, is speciation by mutation, genetic variation, and natural selection in response to environmental pressures. The rest is just fluff on top of that basic principle. Mutation and genetic variation happen at the level of the DNA. Natural selection happens at the level of the phenotypical change of a population over time.

@Buttonstc and @sleepdoc Honestly, my intent wasn’t to jump down your throats when I wrote this question. It was to better understand where Creationist come from and how they explain transitional fossils. It was @sleepdoc‘s incorrect assertion that there are no actual evidence of natural selection that set me off.

I think you’ve both answered @Jleslie and me. In addition to reading the two books on evolution I mentioned above (the children’s book and the adult book), you should read some of the writings of Collins and Miller, both theists, and both having no issue with evolution.

The reason why the issue is so near and dear to my heart is that people who are ignorant of science have run this country, and have done very anti-science things. People who are anti-science sit on school boards and want children to be brought up in ignorance.

@sleepdoc I assume you’re a physician as I am. I direct an intensive care unit and am dealing with increasing antibiotic resistant strains of staph and enterococcus. We had our first case of VRE a couple of years ago. You want natural selection? There you go.

Again, most of my friends are theists of one ilk or another, some are quite religious. I have no conflict with them whatsoever, besides the occasional atheist joke. I respect them, and they respect me. That’s not the issue. The issue is denying facts of science based purely on faith. There are groups of people who believe that the moon landing never happened because their religious texts say so. Denying evolution because of religion is to me just as egregious.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear I understand what are you are trying to get at. My point in asking you how you view evolution was just to clarify. One of the things that I find very difficult to piece together in the whole evolution schema is understanding where its supporters draw the line at how it plays into the total number of species of plants, animals, virsus, bacteria, fungi, etc. that exist on the planet.
If you will indulge me for a minute, take the analogy that was made in the other Q where evolution is really more of a tree with branches that splay off and can be traced back to a common branch ahead of them. Now even if you totally reject the idea of a creation, follow me for a moment. If you continue to follow back all the branches you get to a trunk. So now my question is this, is that trunk merely the trunk for all genetically similar species? If so then where do all the non genetically similar organisms come from? If you don’t believe that the trunk belongs to just genetically similar organisms, then you have to conclude that all organisms come from one original life form. For me I cannot fathom how that many random changes can happen to produce all the different forms of life that exist. In the other Q I was told, “genomes do not undergo the kind of tremendous upheavel and shuffling in few million years that you seem to imply. If they did, the outcome after the shuffling would be very different from the original, if it would survive such a massive mutation.” And that was offered as an answer to why apes and humans have to have a common ancestor. So if you subscribe to that belief, how can you believe that all life has one common ancestor?

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear I apologize to 2 posts, but I just realized I forgot to address something. To me VRE is not an example of natural selection thus far. Yes the bacteria made an adaptation, but the previous strain of enterococcus is still the same, and the new strain has not eliminated the previous strain. I guess one could say, but if you wait for time x, these 2 will no longer end up being the same species. But that is not something that has been observed over time and documented. I understand the agrument that we haven’t recorded history and science long enough to do this. But regardless of the age you ascribe to the earth, I still find it hard to fathom that all life came from one organsim wich would have had to been unicellular.

sleepdoc's avatar

@JLeslie Ok to come back to your question about the relation of Humans to other species. The thing I find hard to understand is the same question I posed above. Where does the common ancestory stop? If all life (not just animals) came from a single celled organsim how do we explain that?

mattbrowne's avatar

An omnipotent wizard can do anything. He can put the Earth in the center of the universe and have the Sun move around it. To make the show a bit more interesting the wizard lets Mars perform a few erratic movements. So what? Planets are heavy objects but considerable power is available. Compared to this sculpting the Grand Canyon in 6000 years is a piece of cake. Transitional fossils? No such thing. Atheist nonsense. All the work was done at the end of the sixth day.

Seriously, as far as I know hardcore creationists reject the notion of transitional fossils.

JLeslie's avatar

@sleepdoc I am not a scientist, and I am sure you have taken many more science classes than I have. I also am an atheist, and generally do not consider miracles as being a possibility (I use miracle to mean something happening outside of the laws of nature). I do not mean that as a criticism of theists, I am saying my brain is not trained to go there. I do however agree with theists in that just because there is no proof of something it does not mean it does not exist. What I would say is we also cannot ignore proof of something, because it does not fit into our previous thought process. I am not accusing you of doing that, I am speaking generally here about how I think most open minded people who believe in evolution think, and how we desire people who believe in a Creator, God, to look at scientific evidence with an open mind, not worrying about a part of the bible being disproved possibly. I don’t feel that you or @Buttonstc are concerned specifically about the bible or a particular teaching by a religion. It goes back to what @cockswain said, and I have mentioned previously on fluther, there is a frustration among scientists, especially following the Bush years, that science is put on a back burner by religious people who do not have an understanding of science in general. So, there is some strong emotions surrounding the subject. I fully agree that there are religious people who are scientists, I am not including them in my generalization of religious people who seem to want to not except scientific discovery.

The elementary way I look at evolution is that I believe all living things are connected. ATCG, the genetic material in everything, just flip it around, put it in a different order, make a strand a different length, and boom a different species, or same species with different features. It seems so complex and so simple to me at the same time. I believe in the randomness of unexpected mutations, and also mutations to overcome environment. Recessive traits becoming more prominent or dying out. So for me it just seems logical that species are not static so to speak, that they change/evolve. I think the more complex the living being is from a DNA standpoint, most likely the longer it takes to observe a significant change in the species.

If I had to define God, it would be that everything is connected in the way I describe, we are all of the same genetic material, the same life force. Thinking about that is like thinking about the universe, almost impossiple to grasp, there is something quite beautiful about it in my opinion.

This partly explains my confusion about people possibly being disgusted by being related to primates. I feel related to every living thing on earth in a sense. I see the doe in my backyard watch over their fawn, trying to reel them in from going to far out of their mothers sight, in the same way a human mother watches her children, and feel connected. I watch my mother-in-law, who has the greenest thumb I have ever seen, clip off the leaf of a plant, put it in water, and a few weeks later it has roots and is growing addition leaves. I do see the “miracle” in it all, but I think science can or will be able to explain eventually. All of this in no way excludes the idea that a creator may have put all this into place. I just generally do not believe there is someone up there directing things, and I do not believe the path nature takes, and the end, are predetermined. Just my personal belief.

cockswain's avatar

@sleepdoc So you seem to have a disbelief in the possibility of single-celled organisms being able to form multi-cellular organisms. Here is some information about that subject, as it relates to green algae. Within the overview is a link to the abstract of a published journal article on the subject, and within there you can find a link to the full article. For the layman, this sort of paper is nearly incomprehensible or very tedious, but as a doctor you’re familiar with such papers. If you’d care to discuss the details of their study (which I admittedly haven’t thoroughly read yet, but will with my usual skeptical eye if others want to), by all means we can discuss the true biology of evolution.

But in a nutshell, it is absolutely possible given enough time for bacteria to evolve to aggregate structures, highly differentiated into many cell types. The organism eventually forms a heart, or lungs, or gills, or whatever the environment pushes it towards. Reproductive structures form. But I would love to discuss the details with any or all of you. This more gets to the reality of evolution, beyond intuition and feelings.

If one wants to state this process is guided by some higher consciousness, we can discuss that too. It would be interesting to consider how nuclear forces (which are closer to the heart of genetics) are all set up to produce very specific, highly detailed outcomes.

Rarebear's avatar

@sleepdoc I will add that yes, you’re related to an onion. Both you and the onion have some basic process of ATP metabolism that are the same.

In terms of the VRE—you’re right, not yet. But look at Staph Aureus. When penicillin was invented, Staph was sensitive to it. But penicillin resistance mutated and then spread quickly, and now, the penicillin sensitive staph has been wiped out.

sleepdoc's avatar

@Rarebear…. Pleases provide evidence that Penicillin sensitive staph is wiped out. I saw it grow out in a culture from a patient last week.

cockswain's avatar

@sleepdoc Come on…is that the point? You’ll ignore what I wrote to point out @Rarebear is incorrect on a small, semi-related point?

Rarebear's avatar

Oy. Okay, all but wiped out.
Whatever. You’re mind is made up. You answered my original question.

cockswain's avatar

@sleepdoc or others: Maybe you’ll find this recent interview interesting since you brought up the Human Genome Project as well as Francis Collins. Venter asserts nothing useful has come of the project (an assertion a molecular biologist at my company said is total BS), and also went on to claim Francis Collins is not a scientist, but simply a government administrator. While I’m not really taking sides on that since I’ve heard Venter likes to frequently make controversial statements, I thought it was interesting to see themes from our current discussion surface in the interview: “For me, it’s either faith or science – you can’t have both.”

If you read the whole interview, the synthetic biology project in which Venter is involved sounds full of potential. $600 million invested from Exxon, and they’ve created the first bacteria with a synthetic genome with the intention of engineering bacteria to synthesize fuels, plastics, and asphalt. Wild stuff.

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain I haven’t heard of Venter, but I do know that Collins is respected in his field. I always get wary when scientist start trashing each other, especially if there is profit involved.

cockswain's avatar

@Rarebear Totally agreed. Just thought it was interesting. Not sure if there is any conflict of profitable interest between the two though. Venter was the head of the Human Genome Project.

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain Wasn’t Collins the head of the Human Genome Project? Venter was part of that and worked with Collins. The results of the HGP was released into the public domain. My guess is that there is sour grapes there.

Buttonstc's avatar

To slightly mangle an old line from Shakespeare : Methinks he doth protest too much :)

I liked the part where the Mag starts quoting his own words back to him from the past to country an assertion he makes.

Venter then fobs that off on Collins, claiming that he was quoting him.

He really does have his shorts in a knot, doesn’t he?

The overall impression I get is of sour grapes on Venter’s part.

Has Collins replied to this in any way?

cockswain's avatar

I was mistaken in stating Venter was the head of the HGP. Collins was the head of the publicly funded HGP, begun in 1992 and supposed to complete in 2005. Venter challenged the project midway through in 1998 with his private company, Celera, stating he could finish the project 4 years sooner than the HGP. This started a competition, and Venter was indeed making faster progress privately. In June 2000, Venter and Collins both jointly announced the completion of the project.

@Rarebear Thanks for making me look that up. I’d always associated the project with Venter since Perkin-Elmer helped him, as well as the company I was with at the time. I always heard his name mentioned, and he did tour our lab.

@Buttonstc I meant to have directed the interview towards you, not @sleepdoc since you’d mentioned it. Like I said, I’m not taking sides, but since the interview was just a week or so ago I haven’t heard of Collins making a statement.

cockswain's avatar

I accidentally shot a planet into the sun

Rarebear's avatar

@cockswain The first time I saw that site a few months ago I did it purposely!

choreplay's avatar

I haven’t read all the post but want to say this. Everyone, find a bible (or just continue reading), stay with me, open to Genesis 1:1–2. I don’t usually put bible verses out there but I think you’ll see my point. Genesis 1: “1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty” STOP, There is an “a” referencing a footnote between “was” and “formless”.
The footnote says, “Or possibly became”
Some scholars propose that a more accurate interpretation of the original Hebrew was “became”.
I studied geology for my science requirements in college and do not hold a literalist perspective on creation. I do accept the Anthropic principle suggesting the base values of physic have been fine tuned to inexplicable accurate points (that can not vary in the slightest) to ultimately result in life set in motion millions of years ago. It does not make sense that these base values resulted by chance.

choreplay's avatar

gasp, still reading to catch up

Rarebear's avatar

@choreplay Well, the question was on transitional fossils, and not the anthropic principle, but since I asked this well over a year ago, that’s fine

In terms of your English translation, you can’t put too much into that. It’s just a translation of the Hebrew, after all. Different translations say different things.

In terms of the anthropic principle and us not being here by chance, why not? Let’s say the multiverse theory is correct. That would mean there are an infinite number of universes out there. If this were the case, a universe such of ours would be a statistical certainty.

gorillapaws's avatar

@choreplay Another way to look at @Rarebear‘s answer is if there were a million separate half-time shows where someone had to make a full-court shot blindfolded, facing the wrong way and on one foot. For sake of argument, let’s say that the statistics dictated that the odds on such a shot are 3 in every million. If you never knew that there were 999,999 other attempts at the shot and you happened to be in one of the 3 events where it actually was successful and the shot went in the basket, then you’d come to the conclusion that a miracle happened or that there was no way that it could randomly have gone in. In actuality, it would have been an anomaly if it had not made it at the rate that the statistics suggested.

choreplay's avatar

I am familiar with the multiverse theory @gorillapaws. I will answer tomorrow, but I have to set up for my sons birthday tonight.

Rarebear's avatar

@gorillapaws There’s a really good youtube video of Derren Brown hitting a coin with 10 heads in a row.

How does he do it? Well, he recorded 9 hours of coin flipping. You only see the one time where he hit it 10 times in a row.

cockswain's avatar

I wonder how many times he got to like 8 or 9 flips after a couple hours, then got tails and thought “__shit!__”

choreplay's avatar

@rarebear to answer your question regarding Multiverse I would like to ask a question first. What is the comparable plausibility (not provability) between the multiverse theory (the existence of an infinite number of universes in other dimensions. I am not arguing probability given infinite attempts and limited vantage point) and the Anthropic principle where a God designed and created the universe? Not only if one stands out from the other but how far of latitude between the two.
Let me answer and than you can add if you have a significantly difference perspective. The Plausibility for either is weak to the point of both seeming ridiculous.
If I have first hand experience of a God (in answered prayers, miracles, knowledge about things that could not be known at the time, a knowledge that circumvents time and understanding), if I am convince by these experiences that God is perfect love, or at least perfect in comparison to human standards, then I would tend to accept what I believe are his teachings. I believe what God gives/tells us is perfect but I don’t believe man can understand let alone communicate or interpret second hand perfectly. Do I get hung up on how Noah got all creatures on a boat, No, because I don’t think I have it understood perfectly. Maybe it was just a regional flood and not a world wide flood (The jist is Noah had faith he was hearing God and was able to save himself and his family with a big boat). Cockswain, not to jump on your point but that’s just my take on it.

There are many mysteries beyond this world that we will never know about for sure in this life. But we have stories passed down many generations and then written down. I forget where it says it or even says it but the bible calls our understanding of the spiritual realm like looking through smoked glass, suggesting we have a distorted view.
I appear to be answering your questions in reverse.
With regard to the interpretation from Hebrew, don’t you think it bust the fallacy that that bible says the earth is about 6000 years old wide open. Just the possibility that it says “became formless” changes everything.
Now transitional fossils, hmm I don’t know, maybe. I believe your correct when you say that limited perspectives can result in incorrect assumptions. Even so, are you suggesting that if evolutionist are correct the direct implication is there is no God, with the current contention being because our modern positions seem to contradict each other? I have a hard time believing macro evolution because of the lack of a full spectrum of the suggested range of stages. Why don’t we have creature on earth today that is in the range between apes and man, with a degree of higher intelligence than apes but less than humans? In my opinion humans are just too unique in comparison to the remaining creatures. Not that all of our abilities and traits (like love) are not endowed to different creatures but the culmination of all that we are, that give us our awareness of being, something more is going on, in my opinion.
I do not think there is such a gap between science and the bible. Do you see a contradiction between the verse in Hebrews that all that is seen was made from what is unseen contradicts E=MC2. Please explain to me if it does. I believe if everything was known and everything was known accurately there would not be contradictions.

Rarebear's avatar

Hookay, you asked a lot of questions and brought up a lot of points. I’ll get to them one by one.

“What is the comparable plausibility (not provability) between the multiverse theory (the existence of an infinite number of universes in other dimensions. ’ This isn’t a complete question. Between the multiverse theory and what? God? I’m perfectly willing to accept God as a hypothesis for the beginning of the universe. The hypothesis just needs to be testable.

“f I have first hand experience of a God… then I would tend to accept what I believe are his teachings.” I would then ask, “What is your first hand experience? Is it repeatable and verifiable?”

”...No, because I don’t think I have it understood perfectly. Maybe it was just a regional flood and not a world wide flood.” Are you aware that the flood myth has been around for thousands of years, even before the Bible was written? Read Gilgamesh.

“There are many mysteries beyond this world that we will never know about for sure in this life.” Every mystery that has ever been solved has been shown to be non-mystical, non-magical, and non-spiritual. Sure, there are a lot of mysteries; that’s what keeps scientists in a job. If every mystery were solved, then why explore? Why ask questions? why discover?

“With regard to the interpretation from Hebrew, don’t you think it bust the fallacy that that bible says the earth is about 6000 years old wide open. Just the possibility that it says “became formless” changes everything. ” I was just making the point that you were parsing words from an English translation of Hebrew.

“Even so, are you suggesting that if evolutionist are correct the direct implication is there is no God” That’s not what evolution is saying at all, and if you think that, you don’t understand it. Evolution says nothing about God one way or the other. Evolution is just a mechanism that speciation occurs. Just like gravity is the mechanism by which my ipod falls when I accidentally let go of it.

“I have a hard time believing macro evolution because of the lack of a full spectrum of the suggested range of stages.” Fossils are hard to make and even harder to find. You don’t need to get every stage of every speciation change. It’s about an accumulation of evidence, and the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to evolution as being the correct mechanism of speciation. And the whole point of my question is that transitional fossils EXIST. They are an undeniable fact. Creationists can close their eyes and ears and say “nyah nyah nyah I can’t hear you” but they are still there.

“Why don’t we have creature on earth today that is in the range between apes and man, with a degree of higher intelligence than apes but less than humans? In my opinion humans are just too unique in comparison to the remaining creatures.” They existed, but died out.

“In my opinion humans are just too unique in comparison to the remaining creatures.” Not so much. We are far FAR more similar to other animals than we are different.

“Not that all of our abilities and traits (like love) are not endowed to different creatures but the culmination of all that we are, that give us our awareness of being, something more is going on, in my opinion.” So you’re saying that other animals don’t have awareness of being? Tell that to my cat.

“I do not think there is such a gap between science and the bible.” Science says nothing about the Bible, but much of the Bible certainly contradicts science.

“Do you see a contradiction between the verse in Hebrews that all that is seen was made from what is unseen contradicts E=MC2.” This question makes no sense. E=mc2 is the mass-energy equivalence equation. Nothing more.

“Please explain to me if it does.” I would if I understood your question.

big_mac's avatar

I believe that by transitional fossils you’re referring to fossils showing the transition from one animal to another animal, for example dinosaurs evolving into birds. We know there existed a lot of dinosaurs, and some looked differently from eachother in many ways. The most natural thing for evolutionists would then be to label the dinosaur most similar to birds as the transitional dinosaur. However fossils forming a full chain to back that claim up haven’t been found or don’t exist. I believe this is the case with all the transitional fossils.

I can’t get my hands on the books you are promoting. But as far as I know there are scientists who disagree with eachother when it comes to the theory of evolution and in wether we are products of a higher power or not.

A better strategy is to specify the arguments with your own words rather than mentioning a book or an author. It makes it a lot easier for everybody to share their opinion over the matter.

Rarebear's avatar

@big_mac “I can’t get my hands on the books you are promoting.”
Here you go. On sale and used even.

Transitional fossils are not a matter of opinion. They exist. My question to Creationists is how they explain them away.

big_mac's avatar

Maybe you’re a salesman? I won’t buy these books. I would read them between classes in my library if we’d had them. I’d be grateful if you’d come up with own words with what you’ve learnt from these books to support evolution instead of relying on what others have to say.

Transitional fossils exist in the way that fossils have been found and have been described in a specific way. A complete set of fossils showing you how the dinosaurs develop more and more until becoming birds don’t exist.

Rarebear's avatar

The purpose of this question was not to have debates over the evidence. That would br another. The purpose of the question was for me to find out how creationists explain away the existence of transitional fossils. Which, in your case, seems to be denial.

big_mac's avatar

I’m clearly not denying the existence transitional fossils, there’s even a bunch of them competing over who’s the ugliest one on Wikipedia:

The interesting part of transitional fossils, which I mentioned twice already, is that they don’t show, for example, how dinosaurs evolved into birds. Why’s that? Could it be because they didn’t? Well there are no fossils which show they did, now that’s for sure.

big_mac's avatar

I’m not sure why you’re linking to other sources when it comes to evolution. From what I’ve understood you should have a good understanding about it already after reading those books you’ve mentioned a couple of times.

Archaeopteryx for example, which your source brings up at the top of the page, is a bird. The fossils shows it had feet able to grip branches. They also show it had teeth, fully developed wings and was completely dressed with feathers. There are no fossils that show dinosaurs evolving into this bird.

Rarebear's avatar

@big_mac As I said, if you’re interested in denying the evidence, that’s fine with me. From your own link on Archaeopteryx: “An excellent intermediate form between dinosaurs and birds. ”

As I said before, the purpose of this question was not to debate the evidence, but to find out how Creationists explain away the fact of transitional fossils. If you want to discuss it further, ask another question on Fluther and I’ll be happy to debate it with you there.

big_mac's avatar

I never said I agreed with what the Wikipedia page says about transitional fossils. I merely linked to it as to show there are fossils which are classed as transitional fossils. What I disagree with is how they class the fossils. Evolutionists suggest animals evolved over a period of time until becoming other animals. An example was that of dinosaurs evolving into birds. No fossils have been found that support the idea that dinosaurs evolved over a period of time until becoming birds. There are no fossils which show how dinosaurs evolved over a period of time until becoming Archaeopteryx.

My answer to the question is obvious. It is that I disagree with the description that has been given to certain fossils, in this case transitional fossils. Evolution as in animals evolving into other animals is a scientific theory, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. And if you’re not willing to discuss transitional fossils then I respect your will. But at first glance this topic gives the impression that transitional fossils are to be discussed.

Rarebear's avatar

So you deny the existence despite the evidence. You’ve answered my question, thanks.

But I’ll play, since I’m in a good mood.
“I never said I agreed with what the Wikipedia page says about transitional fossils.”
So you pick and choose what you agree with.

“Evolutionists suggest animals evolved over a period of time until becoming other animals”
This statement couldn’t be more wrong.

” No fossils have been found that support the idea that dinosaurs evolved over a period of time until becoming birds.”
You obviously aren’t looking at the links that you yourself linked to and mine, or if you are, you’re deliberately ignoring and denying the evidence.

“Evolution as in animals evolving into other animals is a scientific theory, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true”
You don’t know the meaning of the word “theory” in scientific parlance.

big_mac's avatar

As I mentioned earlier I’m not denying the existence of the fossils labeled as transitional fossils. What I disagree with is the description given to them. Also everyone picks and chooses what one is content with. In this case however I’ve already explained why I disagree with the description given to these fossils. The explanation is that they don’t show how for example dinosaurs evolved into birds, or into Archaeopteryx for that matter.

There are no fossils giving evidence to the suggestion that dinosaurs developed over a period of time until becoming birds in the pages linked by both you and me. If you disagree, pinpoint the evidence in those pages so we can discuss it more thorougly.

big_mac's avatar

With your own words, please.

Rarebear's avatar

Just read the link. It answers your question.

big_mac's avatar

Even though you’ve read Richard Dawkins book and Jerry A Coyne’s book all you can come up with is a link showing that Anchiornis had feathers, once again without using your own mental capabilities to support evolution. Anchiornis is a dinosaur and not a bird. What you have to do is fill in the gap between the assumed relationship between Anchiornis and birds with fossils showing how they started developing all the required traits until becoming birds.

Rarebear's avatar

“once again without using your own mental capabilities to support evolution.”

Wow. You really are an unpleasant sort aren’t you? Have a nice day.

Cirbryn's avatar

@big mac: “What you have to do is fill in the gap between the assumed relationship between Anchiornis and birds with fossils showing how they started developing all the required traits until becoming birds.”

Why do you think that’s what he has to do?

big_mac's avatar

In order to confirm it.

Rarebear's avatar

Hi @Cirbryn Thanks for jumping in here. He pissed me off with his last post so I’m handing this one off.

Cirbryn's avatar

big mac: So are you claiming that the existence of transitional fossils would only qualify as evidence of evolution if enough could be found to show a seemless progression between one taxonomic group and another?

big_mac's avatar

Obviously evidence is dynamic. And by that I mean one person can class something as evidence while another person doesn’t. In this case we are discussing the assumed relationship between dinosaurs and birds. In order to believe in that I want fossils showing how dinosaurs started developing and kept developing the required traits until becoming birds. I think that is a reasonable demand as it will change your whole view on how animals arose on Earth.

Cirbryn's avatar

> In order to believe in that I want fossils showing how dinosaurs started developing and kept developing the required traits until becoming birds. I think that is a reasonable demand

Well I’m not sure about “evidence”, but “reasonable” certainly seems to be dynamic. The way science works is that we test competing hypotheses by seeing which make predictions that are borne out by the evidence.

For instance, the theory of evolution posits that species evolve from previous species; genera from previous genera; families from previous families, etc. And that these taxonomic lineages branch off from one another in a treelike fashion. So if the theory is true, and we find enough fossils, we should find some from a given taxonomic group that have characteristics of another such group. And we should find them around the time that a common ancestor of those two groups could have lived. The fossils, taken as a whole, should fall into a pattern consistent with a phylogenetic tree of life. We should not expect to find a seemless progression of fossils from one group to another, however, unless we were very lucky, because such a progression would require us to find fossils of a high percentage of all the species and subspecies that ever lived; and in good enough shape to note minor differences.

If Creationism is true, then I would think we should not expect fossils from one taxonomic group to show characteristics normally considered indicative of another taxonomic group. We shouldn’t see any fossil dinosaurs with feathers, for instance, or birds with teeth and long tails, or fish with feet and flexible necks, or humanlike apes or apelike humans. And we particularly should not see such fossils in strata indicating they lived at times and places consistent with a branching pattern of descent. So the humanlike apes should not get more apelike as the fossils get older.

The existence of transitional fossils is thus consistent with the predictions of the theory of evolution, and appears directly contrary to the predictions of Creationism. That’s why Rarebear asked the question he asked. How do Creationists account for them?

gorillapaws's avatar

@Cirbryn “If Creationism is true, then I would think we should not expect fossils from one taxonomic group to show characteristics normally considered indicative of another taxonomic group. We shouldn’t see any fossil dinosaurs with feathers, for instance, or birds with teeth and long tails, or fish with feet and flexible necks, or humanlike apes or apelike humans. And we particularly should not see such fossils in strata indicating they lived at times and places consistent with a branching pattern of descent. So the humanlike apes should not get more apelike as the fossils get older.”

Unless God deliberately created the universe to look that way…

Which begs the question, what kind of sick fuck is a God that engineers the entire universe to appear to support evolution when infact it doesn’t. Either way, The creationist is left with either accepting the Theory of Evolution (and acknowledging that the Bible is allegorical/metaphorical in some places) or acknowledging that God is a deceiver (and if he is a deceiver, how could you trust the Bible?).

Cirbryn's avatar

> The creationist is left with either accepting the Theory of Evolution (and acknowledging that the Bible is allegorical/metaphorical in some places) or acknowledging that God is a deceiver

Well the Bible is pretty clearly allegorical in some places. Paul even specifically says that the events of Genesis 16 “are an allegory”. (Gal 4:24). But honestly it wouldn’t be that much of a stretch to assume God made modern species using evolution. Christians believe God makes each one of us, but that doesn’t make them dispute the fact that each of us developed naturally from a single-celled zygote. So then why should they dispute that our species evolved naturally from a single-celled ancestor? Most Christians have no problem with the idea. It’s just some of the fundamentalist Christians and Muslims that can’t manage it.

big_mac's avatar

So just because there are dinosaurs with feathers we should automatically believe they evolved into birds? With that argument one would believe in evolution regardless of finding any fossils at all. And you’re mentioning ancient creatures here such as Archaeopteryx and fish with feet and flexible necks (what are their names, please?). Today we have the ostrich, for example. It’s a bird, but can’t fly. What do you think about the ostrich?

Also I’m not interested in the fact that there are many similarities between this and that animal. I want to see the fossils that confirm evolution. Lets say you claim we evolved from humanlike apes, and that the humanlike apes evolved from apes. Show me the fossils…

I checked it up on wikipedia a while ago, and I came to the conclusion that there are a lot of skeleton fragments which joined the evolution club. Some of course got busted and others appear to be legit. But even though they might be legit I don’t trust them as what evolutionists describe them as. Just look at neanderthalensis, they’ve gotten a far more humanlike look throughout the years. Scientists thought they couldn’t even talk. So, when checking wikipedia, the amount of neanderthal findings are enormous in comparison to australopithecus anamensis, australopithecus afarensis, australopithecus africanus, homo habilis, homo erectus and homo heidelbergensis who are our supposed ancestors. My point is that if scientists were wrong when it came to neanderthalensis which we have a lot of material from, we should equip ourselves with a lot of skepticism when it comes to our supposed ancestors who consist of skeletal fragments.

My biology teacher couldn’t answer this, but maybe you can… The dinosaurs lived during mesozoikum (251–65 million years ago). We’ve found good remains of dinosaurs. Some of the remains being 60–95% complete. So why haven’t we found fossils of our supposed ancestors, the apelike humans in as good condition? And they lived from about 500 thousand years ago to 4,4 million years ago.

I have no idea where you get “Christians believe God makes each one of us” from. But if you’re familiar with the teachings of the Bible, then you know it gives no room for evolution, and certainly not in evolution from apelike humans to human beings as we are today. Also “Most Christians” have no idea about what the Bible teaches. Most of them, atleast the ones I’ve talked to, think that the mosaic law applies to christians.

Cirbryn's avatar

> So just because there are dinosaurs with feathers we should automatically believe they evolved into birds?

You and I both know I didn’t say that. What I said, summed up, is that feathered dinosaurs and other transitional fossils constitute supporting evidence for evolution because they are consistent with what we’d predict based on the theory. They also tend to disprove Creationism because they are contrary to what we’d expect to find if Creationism were true.

> With that argument one would believe in evolution regardless of finding any fossils at all.

I don’t see how you reach that conclusion given that we wouldn’t know some dinosaurs had feathers without the fossils to show it. Twenty years ago, feathers were considered a defining characteristic of birds. That’s the primary reason archaeopteryx was considered a bird.

> … fish with feet and flexible necks (what are their names, please?)


> Today we have the ostrich, for example. It’s a bird, but can’t fly. What do you think about the ostrich?

I think it’s a bird. Are you thinking it’s similar to a transitional species because it can’t fly? A transitional species would have to show characteristics of both ancestral and descendant groups, and live at roughly the right time for which such a transition to have taken place. Ostriches can’t be transitional because they don’t live at the right time. Moreover, they don’t show any characteristics indicative of dinosaurs except that (like most dinosaurs) they can’t fly. Since we also see flightlessness in many other bird species, some of which clearly evolved from flight-capable birds (as with flightless rails living on islands), flightlessness alone would not be a good indication that a given bird species is transitional from dinosaurs, even if it did live at the correct time.

> Also I’m not interested in the fact that there are many similarities between this and that animal. I want to see the fossils that confirm evolution.

But this question is about how Creationists account for transitional fossils. In science, if one hypothesis can account for all available evidence, including evidence that another hypothesis can’t account for, then the hypothesis that can’t account for the evidence is discarded.

> Lets say you claim we evolved from humanlike apes, and that the humanlike apes evolved from apes. Show me the fossils…

> Just look at neanderthalensis, they’ve gotten a far more humanlike look throughout the years.

Can you provide specific examples? Possibly you’re just recalling poorly supported illustrations and comparing them to better supported illustrations. Or possibly you’re just focusing on the amount of body hair or use of clothing that the illustrator chose to show. Body hair and clothing are difficult to infer from fossils.

> My point is that if scientists were wrong when it came to neanderthalensis which we have a lot of material from, we should equip ourselves with a lot of skepticism when it comes to our supposed ancestors who consist of skeletal fragments.

I am open to any arguments you may have showing how the skeletal structure of any given hominin may have been misinterpreted. What I think is unreasonable, however, is a general attitude that the experts on all these fossil species have all made the same obvious mistakes and found apelike characteristics in fossils that don’t have them. I’d also be interested in how you’d support referring to something like the Turkana Boy fossil as a “skeletal fragment”.

> The dinosaurs lived during mesozoikum (251–65 million years ago). We’ve found good remains of dinosaurs. Some of the remains being 60–95% complete. So why haven’t we found fossils of our supposed ancestors, the apelike humans in as good condition?

The conditions necessary for fossilization occur rarely, and the conditions for preservation of nearly entire fossil skeletons occur much more rarely still. Dinosaurs comprise a large order of animals that lived for nearly 200 million years, had a worldwide range, and were the dominant land animals on the planet. Hominins (particularly the older ones) comprise a few genera of animals that lived in a few places in Africa for a few million years. In short, there are many more nearly-complete dinosaur fossils than hominin fossils because were many more dinosaurs than hominins.

> I have no idea where you get “Christians believe God makes each one of us” from.

So you don’t believe you were made by God? Really? If you’re looking for a Bible verse, try Psa 139:14.

> But if you’re familiar with the teachings of the Bible, then you know it gives no room for evolution,

I disagree, and so do most Christians. Your personal interpretation of the Bible may give no room for evolution, but that’s not the same thing.

> “Most Christians” have no idea about what the Bible teaches.

My guess would be that the Archbishop of Canterbury (as just one example) knows what the Bible teaches.

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