The Discovery Institute on Tiktaalik


The poor babies in Seattle are in a state of denial.

These fish are not intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find. Tiktaalik roseae is one of a set of lobe-finned fishes that include very curious mosaics–these fishes have advanced characteristics of several different groups. They are not intermediates in the sense that they are half-fish/half-tetrapod. Rather, they have some tetrapod-like features. The anatomical characters of Tiktaalik and similar taxa were “coded” and analyzed by a computer program. Because of the presence of some advanced characters, the analysis placed Tiktaalik next to a group of tetrapod-like fishes. What is clear is that forms like Tiktaalik are a melange of primitive and more developed features.

(I’ve been nagging my freshman students lately about how to write out Latin binomials, telling them that they are supposed to be italicized…it irritates me to see the DI screwing that up, but I’ll leave it exactly as they wrote it. I am amused, though, that one of my co-instructors in the course, when explaining the rules of taxonomic nomenclature, told the students that a good reason to follow them is that they’d look like idiots to scientists when they don’t.)

But that kind of mosaicism is what you’d expect, and what we should see in a transitional form! Every element of the organism shouldn’t be changing in a slow and steady lockstep, but instead should shift haltingly, with sometimes most of the selection on the feeding structures, for instance, and maybe some other time on locomotor morphology. Sometimes major shifts in the environment might oppose some kind of concordance, and plasticity means a change in one structure might impose related changes in associated structures, but it’s silly to assume everything morphs uniformly from one generation to the next.

According to DI Fellows a number of these fishes—Ichthyostega, Elpistostege, Panderichthys—have been hailed in the past as the “missing link.” Maybe one is a missing link; maybe none are.

This is plain dishonest: the “missing link?” There’s only supposed to be one? I don’t know of any scientist who has made such a claim. For one, they tend to eschew the term “missing link,” which is a kind of silly, empty phrase anyway. It’s not as if finding Tiktaalik means the scientists think they’re all done; they’ll be out looking for forms between Panderichthys and Tiktaalik, and between Tiktaalik and Acanthostega.

What remains unexplained is the dearth of so-called “missing” links.

Hold it.

Stop right there.

That sentence really deserves to win some sort of prize for stupidity. Try parsing it out.

We’re supposed to explain the scarcity of missing fossils? Most dead things don’t fossilize. Isn’t that part easy?

I think, though, that what he means is that we’re supposed to explain why we don’t have many transitional forms, although his awkward wording interferes with seeing that. At least, that’s what I get from his next sentence.

The Darwinian process, if it indeed produced all of the animal forms around us, should have produced untold millions of transitional forms.

Yes. And they all are. No species is static, but is constantly shifting over time. When fossils are dug up, it’s very rare for the scientist to say, “I have no idea what this is or what its antecedents were.” Instead, they compare it to other forms and say, “This organism belongs in this lineage and is related to this other group.” No transitional forms? Almost all of them are.

There’s a problem with the Darwinist position that runs even deeper than this, however: If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?

There he goes again, making stuff up.

It is another important piece of evidence, a fossil that tells us more details about the history of the tetrapod lineage. It is not crucial in the sense that if we didn’t find Tiktaalik, we’d all give up and become Baptists and creationists. We are enthusiastic because this is what science is all about: discovering new pieces of the puzzle, putting together ever more complete and comprehensive stories that lead to new ideas.

Evolution is a fact, but it’s also a framework to guide our exploration of the world. A corollary of Crowther’s claim is the assumption that if we thought we had an “undisputed fact,” we’d stop searching. That may be true of the frauds he calls Discovery Institute “scientists,” but it’s not true of genuine scientists.

All the Whos down in Whoville are singing. The Grinch was smart enough to realize that that must mean his assumptions about what they thought was important were all wrong…but Robert Crowther just isn’t that clever.

Comments

  1. says

    What it demonstrates, most of all, is the enduring Creationist inability to understand the process of Science, or even to understand its tools.

  2. G. Tingey says

    I still don’t think some people on this blog, and elsewhere have really caught on yet.

    There are two overlapping classes of people who are Idiots and Cretinists.

    By far the largest group are the FOOLS.
    They don’t understand, and can’t understand, or won’t understan Evolution. And it frightens them
    They don’t like it, so they don’t believe it.

    The smaller, more dangerous group are the LIARS.
    They realise perfectly well, that evolution is (probably) the “correct” answer, but it diasgrees with their view of how the world should be ordered (i.e. not a theocracy)
    And they will do anything to alter that state of things.

    Some, of course are members of both groups.

  3. rrt says

    A corollary of Crowther’s claim is the assumption that if we thought we had an “undisputed fact,” we’d stop searching.

    That was the part that leapt out at me. It betrays their own way of thinking. I can’t help but wonder: If evolutin was actually specified in the Bible in some way, such that creationists actually accepted it, would we see much difference in creationist “research?” Or would creationist evolutionary biology still amount to “God said it happens, that’s all I need to know.”

  4. Bob O'H says

    Are expect and should parts of Latin binomials too?

    [Quickly dodges behind Carl von Linn√ɬ©’s gravestone]

    Bob

  5. Evan Murdock says

    Isn’t it odd that creatures can be said to have “primative” or “more developed” features by a group that denies the development of features?

    I mean, they were all created on the same day, right? Or was Tiktaalik created at, say, 11 am, while modern tetrapods weren’t created until after lunch? I guess God would have had to have fish for lunch. Or unicorn – eat your mistakes.

  6. Zombie says

    “If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?”

    Wow, what a catch-22! Whenever we find new evidence of evolution, it’s proof that there wasn’t enough evidence of evolution, therefore evolution must be wrong! That’s got to win some sort of prize for twisted illogic.

    (These tools are especially embarressing to me considering they’re local.)

  7. Rocky says

    Bottom line, the creationist’s recycling of William Paley’s arguements are being shown for the farce they are. Creationist go into an even tighter spin cycle to explain stupidity, or as you noted Mr. Tingey, fools and liers. And buffoons.
    Stupid is as stupid does.

  8. BMurray says

    The media is at least partly our enemy here when they announce such finds as “filling gaps” or being “missing links”. The amazing result of this find is the affirmation of the predictive power of evolutionary biology, and not the fact that yet another point on one of the continuous functions of speciation was discovered.

  9. QrazyQat says

    A corollary of Crowther’s claim is the assumption that if we thought we had an “undisputed fact,” we’d stop searching.

    This is a key misunderstanding of evolution — and science in general. It’s used not just by creationist/ID proponents, but throughout much of pseudo and fringe science. For instance, in my critiquing of Elaine Morgan’s “aquatic ape”, I note she does this regularly.

    The fact remains that none of the ideas stands up to close examination, and that none of them gets endorsed by a majority of the peer group as sufficiently persuasive to make further speculation redundant.

    When you told your son that the explanation of bipedalism is now being hotly debated, did you mention that it has been hotly debated for over a hundred years, and did he ask you why it was taking so long?

    As well she has suggested that debate about gravity ended with Newton — tell that to Einstein.. okay, so he’s dead, but tell it to people who are still working to finetune the ideas surrounding gravity. The debate always goes on, in any field that has any adherents, and the conclusions are always contingent. My response (10 years ago) was: “The AAT, as does creationism, views this fundamental, necessary and extremely useful feature of science as a crucial failing.”

  10. randy says

    I apologize.

    Since the Dover decision I though you were getting a bit shrill. (Taht must be someone else.)

    I was wondering if you were flogging a deceased equus, but see that it is still kicking, even if not properly alive.

    OK, so you found A link between two somethings we saw before, but it is not THE MISSING LINK because there is still a step between, which can only be as a result of DESIGN?

    So if you don’t make it perfect that means that our view of perfection is better?

    In the words of the man in the Bren gun carrier, BASH ON, BASH ON.

    Again, I apologize.

    In our other official language, maintain le droit, et ecrasez l’infame.

  11. Caledonian says

    Reason takes the method for a given and leaves the conclusions open to change. Faith takes the conclusions for givens and leave the methods open to change.

    These are people who believe “thinking” means coming up with a rationalization to justify the conclusion you desire. Most of them aren’t aware other meanings are even possible. That’s why they keep attacking the scientific method when it reaches conclusions they don’t like — it clearly can’t be the right method to use when it produces ‘wrong’ conclusions.

  12. Sean Foley says

    They are not intermediates in the sense that they are half-fish/half-tetrapod.

    Out of curiousity, Mr. Crowther, would a “true” intermediate be a fish on its left side and a tetrapod on its right or vice versa?

    If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?

    If the American Civil War is an undisputed historical fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is Eric Foner’s recent book being billed as such a crucial piece of historical inquiry?

  13. Bruce says

    Whenever I see the word “Darwinian” (or kind) by bsometer pegs. The DI references “Darwinian evolution” in your extract; is there some other kind of evolution to which they subscribe? Or is it just an affectation?
    Zombie, you want to get together and tp the DI ‘Labs’ Saturday night? Us locals got to stick together.

  14. Spud says

    A thought occurred to me recently, underlying the whole issue. Suppose that it could be conclusively, definitively and absolutely proven beyond any shadow of a doubt whatsoever that every single other species of living creature on earth came about by perfectly natural evolutionary processes but humanity was after all specially created by a deity — do you reckon these IDiots and Cretinists would actually ever give evolution a second thought?

    Not many, Benny.

  15. rev.enki says

    I thought the DI was all about “Intelligent Design.” Why would intelligent design advocates bend themselves in such knots arguing against evidence for evolution, when their official stance (so I was led to believe) is that evolution happened, but was directed?

  16. wamba says

    These fish are not neccesarily intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find.

    According to DI Fellows a number of these fishes–Ichthyostega, Elpistostege, Panderichthys–have been hailed in the past as the “missing link.”

    It’s hard to argue with unimpeachable (and unnamed) sources like that!

  17. Sean Foley says

    I don’t think the DI has an “official stance” on how much evolution there was or when it happened. Some of them endorse some form of common descent (Behe), others are full-out Young Earth Creationists (Nelson, I believe), and others don’t say anything about it calling it an “open question” (Dembski, Johnson).

  18. wamba says

    But that kind of mosaicism is what you’d expect, and what we should see in a transitional form! Every element of the organism shouldn’t be changing in a slow and steady lockstep, but instead should shift haltingly, with sometimes most of the selection on the feeding structures, for instance, and maybe some other time on locomotor morphology.

    Why do you hate Jesus?

  19. wswilso says

    From the DI item:

    …primitive and more developed features.

    A Freudian slip perhaps? primitive vs more developed.

    Sounds like an evolutionist to me.

  20. says

    The Crowther piece has been “updated.” I was banging out the April NMSR newsletter last night, and grabbed a couple of juicy quotes from the piece. But today, they were changed or missing.

    Samples:
    Before:

    These fish are not intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find.

    After:

    These fish are not neccesarily intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find.

    Before:

    They are not intermediates in the sense that they are half-fish/half-tetrapod. Rather, they have some tetrapod-like features.

    After:

    They are not intermediates in the sense that have half-fish/half-tetrapod characteristics. Rather, they have a combination of tetrapod-like features and fish-like features.

    Before:

    There’s a problem with the Darwinist position that runs even deeper than this, however: If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?

    After:

    -deleted-

    These IDiots are hard to keep up with!
    Dave

  21. ma3rk says

    Sean, I am also surprised that the definition of “intermediate” means “exactly in the middle”.

    Watching them try to tapdance out of this one is most amusing.

  22. says

    Wait a minute. I thought the whole deal with ID, the thing that distinguished it from creationism and made it a real science, was that it accepts evolution as a fact. I thought they were only arguing that natural selection and other natural mechanisms were inadequate to explain evolution. So why are they here insisting there is a “dearth” of transitional forms and that Tiktaalik is a fraud? You’d think they didn’t believe in evolution at all! You’d think they were just a bunch of Young Earth Creationists only PRETENDING to believe in evolution or something! It’s almost like they’re no different than the creationists! I can’t figure it out!

  23. says

    I thought that ID, not being creationism or related to it, was neutral to things such as transitional fossils and the like. After all, doesn’t ID remain neutral to common descent so why is there a need for this diatribe anyway?

  24. says

    I am amused, though, that one of my co-instructors in the course, when explaining the rules of taxonomic nomenclature, told the students that a good reason to follow them is that they’d look like idiots to scientists when they don’t.

    Funny, that’s almost exactly what I tell my students when we go over basic chemical nomenclature.

  25. Great White Wonder says

    These fish are not neccesarily intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find.

    Who the fxck are these “Discovery Institute scientists” Crowther is referring to?

  26. george cauldron says

    If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?

    I’m not surprised they cut this line. It really is the money shot of that whole essay. Many of these Creationist screeds often have one standout line that really sits up and slaps you in the face.

    Just sit back and breathe it in: If Darwinian evolution is an undisputed fact, as its chief defenders routinely claim, why is this fossil find being billed as such an crucial piece of evidence?

    Ouch.

    I can only assume that this means SOMETHING like “If Darwinism was true, they would have stopped looking for evidence long ago. In fact, if they were really honest, they would have no evidence at all, like us: we’re so confident of the correctness of ID, we can believe it with no evidence. Yet the Darwinists keep accumulating more ‘evidence’. What are they so afraid of?”

  27. Great White Wonder says

    I thought the whole deal with ID, the thing that distinguished it from creationism and made it a real science, was that it accepts evolution as a fact.

    Good point.

    Isn’t the Tiktaalik evidence for a designer because it shows the designer experimenting with variations on “the fish” and “the lizard,” just like other “intelligent” engineers experiment with different designs before deciding which ones they like best?

    Yeah, that’s it. I think this in the 2nd chapter of Rectalicus: “And lo! God maketh variety in the living creatures so He might admireth each and test each creature for its worth.”

    It’s so plain I wonder how a brilliant man like Crowther, surrounded by scientists at the Discovery Institute, could have forgotten this.

    Perhaps Crowther is just a lying scumbag and the Discovery Institute “scientists” are just sick psycho fundie charlatans trying to push their religious crap on everyone.

  28. ChetBob says

    I just think its damn irritating that the media having to pander to the ID and creationist cretins distracts from just enjoying and being fascinated by new discoveries in this area.

    But then again, maybe it will backfire on them and get more people reading and thinking about the subject at hand. Wishful thinking, I know. I just remember when I was a kid in the 60s new discoveries dealing with evolution were reported as the wonders they were without the media needing to check-in with a religious nut to get their opinion.

    On a more positive note: I find the story of the scientific investigation of this lineage to be particularly fascinating. I am not a scientist but picked up on the story from a Discover or Nova program I got off a library shelf that talked about the scientist who had been hoarding the “ichthiostega” fossils for 40 years, refusing to let others see them (or did I get ichthio and acantho mixed up? and no I dont know how to do html italics.). The video then talked about the discovery of acanthostega and the gradual realization that these creatures had not been walking on land like the popularized lung fish going from draught-ridden watter hole to water hole, but rather had been swimming, pushing, and pulling themselves through thickly vegetated shallow swamp and riverine environments. I remembered seeing videos when I was younger about the lung-fish trudging its awkward desperate way from one water hole to the next as a model for evolution. The response and self-challenge of sciencists to reformulate prior ideas seemed particulary exicting to me.

  29. slpage says

    Gee – I wonder who these ‘Discovery Institute scientists’ that Crowther claims ot have talked to were?

    Surely he cannot mean Wells?

  30. BlueIndependent says

    This whole creationism thing can be a real source of scientific comedy. These DI people basically have to create the science from their vague, way too non-specific theory, and then analyze all the work that has been done, and the subsequent advancements, to prove how and where it is wrong.

    For people who ascribe to wanting efficient government (or rather the lack of it), this is the most inefficient way of conducting anything. They’re trying to disprove what’s in front of them.

    My the lengths at which fools are willing to waste human effort.

  31. says

    If you’ll excuse a philosopher’s quibbling: the problem at issue between creationists (including IDiots) and evolutionists is metaphysical.

    Creationists and IDiots operate with a basically Aristotelian metaphysics — living things are distinguished based on “kinds,” and each kind is an “essence” which is realized in many different existing things.

    Evolutionists reject typological/essentialist thinking in terms of a populationist model of the species. And this is really what Darwin’s revolution, as I understand it, consisted of: showing that a ‘species’ is a sort of average over individuals in a population. There is no ‘essence’ to the species at all.

    Plenty of folks find it easy to think about humans in populationist terms — those of us whose ancestors came over from Ireland don’t ask, “why are there still Irish?”

    Given their commitment to an essentialist metaphysics about species, creationists and IDiots have a distinct and weird notion of what a “transitional form” would have to look like — and given their criteria, no fossil find could ever, not even in principle, satisfy them.

    Evolutionists and creationists look at nature through different metaphysical lenses. And unfortunately for creationists, we’ve found that looking at nature through evolutionary lenses results in much greater explanatory and predictive power.

    They can only deny this by pointing out that the evolutionary picture is always changing (and it’s very interesting, isn’t it, that the self-correcting but fallibilistic dynamic of scientific research is supposed to be a strike against it?), or by saying that, since evolutionary biology hasn’t explained everything, it’s still on a par with creationist explanations.

    (Although this is only tangential, I think that the creationist adherence to an essentialist model of species is fueled by ethical and political worries, not genuinely scientific ones. After all, if there’s no essence to huamnity, then we can arrange society however we wish, and then what’s to stop man-on-dog sex?)

  32. says

    Some here seem to be surprised that the so called “Intelligent Design theorists” sound exactly like your average creationists. I wasn’t surprised at all. Didn’t we learn anything from the Dover trial? I mean, “Of Panda’s and People”… nga plz.

  33. says

    I’ve always been one to look for consistency in the positions of particular groups of people. To that end, one could assume that many creationists are supporters of the Bush administration given their similar religious leanings. One might also assume they supported the President in his justifications for the Iraq war and remain committed to that position despite the fact that there were no WMD’s, no link to 9/11, and no indications that Hussein was integrally involved with Al Qaeda. They likely criticize the media for failing to report the ‘good news’ in Iraq and they likely doubt that Iraq is closer to civil war than to democratic civility.

    If we take the creationists position on evolution together with the fact that I may be correct in my assumptions about their position on Iraq, a few things become apparent. First, I’ll grant them the consistency of their steadfast convictions. But more importantly and more telling is the fact that the means taken to reach these convictions are wholly inconsistent. The mindset that requires indisputable evidence in order to accept the theory of evolution would logically bring this same skepticism to other complex and controversial issues (i.e. Iraq) if it were an innate characteristic or a principled posture. Faith in what one simply chooses to believe is an insult to the construct of faith. When faith is blind, the path to one’s chosen destiny must be traveled in darkness…and that path will necessarily be absent the clear and credible markers that will lead, firstly, to the penultimate salvation…truth. If faith is allowed to subvert truth, the destination may be final…but it is ultimately not salvation.

    more observations here: http://www.thoughttheater.com

  34. lt.kizhe says

    They are not intermediates in the sense that have half-fish/half-tetrapod characteristics. Rather, they have a combination of tetrapod-like features and fish-like features.

    That’s not a moped! It’s a vehicle with a mix of bicycle and motorcycle features!

  35. Gerry C. says

    What amuses me is that the ID folks will argue seven ways to sunday about the imagined vagaries of an individual, albeit, important fossil find when in reality their creationist belief system should argue against the mere existence of these creatures’ fossils. If a supreme being created all life in one instance, how could the remains of so many non-extant life forms be continuosly uncovered?

  36. Steviepinhead says

    Bruce:

    Zombie, you want to get together and tp the DI ‘Labs’ Saturday night? Us locals got to stick together.

    Can we Seattle-ites get some toliet paper printed up with pretty little TrollArt half-fishies, first? Just so they can’t * possibly * miss the point.

  37. James R says

    The real beauty of this discovery is the purely scientific approach from the very start. Schubin and Draeschler (spelling?) used scientific principles to predict where to find these fossils and then used scientific Knowns to pinpoint the geology and then scientific reasoning to look in just the right spot. SUCCESSFULLY. Wouldn’t it be nice if the ID’ers could find their designer in the same way?

  38. craig says

    This can’t be the missing link. I’ve been hearing about this “missing link” ever since I was a little kid, and there’s just no way you’ll convince me we went from monkey to fish to man.

  39. MrHanson says

    [Quoting an evolutionist] “What more do we need from the fossil record to show that the creationists are flatly wrong?”

    [Quoting a creationist] “How many examples of convergent evolution to we need to show the evolutionists that similarities don’t prove evolution?”

  40. leenibus says

    In the Tiktaalik roseae article in the Disco Institute’s “Evolution News & Views”, William Dembski claims: “Intelligent design does not so much challenge whether evolution occurred but how it occurred.”

    Why do I have the feeling he is being disingenuous? If they truly accept the reality of earth’s biological history as constructed by science, where are the learned articles by ID advocates analysing the geological record? You would think they would be eager to examine the nature of the “intelligent designer” from the physical evidence of the order in which he/she/they/it has “poofed” new species into existence through geologic time.

  41. DrWestingtone says

    “I just think its damn irritating that the media having to pander to the ID and creationist cretins distracts from just enjoying and being fascinated by new discoveries in this area.”

    You are so incredibly wrong just by your extremely arrogant statement. The (popular) media is anything but friendly to ANYONE of faith. The only time a person of faith gets airtime in the popular media is when they give (say Fred Phelps) who is an idiotic religous fenatic, an interview.

  42. Leon says

    Whenever I see the word “Darwinian” (or kind) by bsometer pegs. The DI references “Darwinian evolution” in your extract; is there some other kind of evolution to which they subscribe? Or is it just an affectation?

    That should also set off your “missing the point!” meter. NO ONE believes in Darwinian evolution, or “Darwinism”, any more. The theory has been improved and updated tremendously over the years. Darwin laid out a very solid beginning of the theory of evolution, but there were flaws in his hypotheses just like there are in the beginnings of any scientific theory.

  43. craig says

    The only time a person of faith gets airtime in the popular media

    Yeah! Someone should give Pat Robertson his own TV show!. but seriously… you have to be kidding. Religious types are all over the media. Ever hear of Bill O’Reilly? Is there ANY professed atheist on Fox?

    Why then do most newspapers have a religion section? Where’s the skeptic section?

    How about politicians – how many speeches by atheist politicians have you watched on TV?

    Remember the “God Squad?” Where’s the “Reason Brigade?”

    Come off it.

  44. Leon says

    You are so incredibly wrong just by your extremely arrogant statement.

    I see. “Don’t say anything I don’t agree with, or I’ll call you names!!” Nice to know the level of maturity we can expect from you.

  45. MrHanson says

    “One might also assume they supported the President in his justifications for the Iraq war and remain committed to that position despite the fact that there were no WMD’s, no link to 9/11, and no indications that Hussein was integrally involved with Al Qaeda.”

    Wow, aren’t you a perceptive atheist! You must dicipline yourself by repeating over and over:

    “All Christian are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”

    Just be sure to say that 100 times at night before going to bed. But seriously my mother is a dedicated Christian and she was (and still is) completely against the Iraq war. But you are right. It is irritating to hear so called conservatives who are against the Iraq war anti-american liberals.

  46. QrazyQat says

    and there’s just no way you’ll convince me we went from monkey to fish to man./i>

    I’ll second that. Curiosity impels me to ask, however, just who on earth (besides creationists) has ever suggested that sort of transition?

  47. DrWestingtone says

    “Don’t say anything I don’t agree with, or I’ll call you names!!” Nice to know the level of maturity we can expect from you.”

    Please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have posted this and should expected this sort of contempt from an anti-Chrisitian pro evolution web site such as this. Actually I have never heard of the God Squad or the Reason Brigade. And no I don’t like Pat Roberts. Well I do, I just don’t like to listen to him lol. My point is, when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN or is able to have a column printed in the New York Time? Absolutely none! And I find it somewhat amusing that pro-darwinists here seem to place all the critical eggs of Darwinian theory in the Christian basket (See “harunyahya.com” which is critical of darwin and
    somewhat anti-chrisitian). Many Jews are jumping on the ID bandwagon also. Again I apologize. Although I do see a lot of name calling on this very page. Is that mature?

  48. DrWestingtone says

    “Don’t say anything I don’t agree with, or I’ll call you names!!” Nice to know the level of maturity we can expect from you.”

    Please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have posted this and should expected this sort of contempt from an anti-Chrisitian pro evolution web site such as this. Actually I have never heard of the God Squad or the Reason Brigade. And no I don’t like Pat Roberts. Well I do, I just don’t like to listen to him lol. My point is, when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN or is able to have a column printed in the New York Time? Absolutely none! And I find it somewhat amusing that pro-darwinists here seem to place all the critical eggs of Darwinian theory in the Christian basket (See “harunyahya.com” which is critical of darwin and
    somewhat anti-chrisitian). Many Jews are jumping on the ID bandwagon also. Again I apologize. Although I do see a lot of name calling on this very page. Is that mature?

  49. DrWestingtone says

    “Don’t say anything I don’t agree with, or I’ll call you names!!” Nice to know the level of maturity we can expect from you.”

    Please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have posted this and should expected this sort of contempt from an anti-Chrisitian pro evolution web site such as this. Actually I have never heard of the God Squad or the Reason Brigade. And no I don’t like Pat Roberts. Well I do, I just don’t like to listen to him lol. My point is, when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN or is able to have a column printed in the New York Time? Absolutely none! And I find it somewhat amusing that pro-darwinists here seem to place all the critical eggs of Darwinian theory in the Christian basket (See “harunyahya.com” which is critical of darwin and
    somewhat anti-chrisitian). Many Jews are jumping on the ID bandwagon also. Again I apologize. Although I do see a lot of name calling on this very page. Is that mature?

  50. DrWestingtone says

    “Don’t say anything I don’t agree with, or I’ll call you names!!” Nice to know the level of maturity we can expect from you.”

    Please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have posted this and should expected this sort of contempt from an anti-Chrisitian pro evolution web site such as this. Actually I have never heard of the God Squad or the Reason Brigade. And no I don’t like Pat Roberts. Well I do, I just don’t like to listen to him lol. My point is, when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN or is able to have a column printed in the New York Time? Absolutely none! And I find it somewhat amusing that pro-darwinists here seem to place all the critical eggs of Darwinian theory in the Christian basket (See “harunyahya.com” which is critical of darwin and
    somewhat anti-chrisitian). Many Jews are jumping on the ID bandwagon also. Again I apologize. Although I do see a lot of name calling on this very page. Is that mature?

  51. says

    Can we Seattle-ites get some toliet paper printed up with pretty little TrollArt half-fishies, first? Just so they can’t * possibly * miss the point.

    Sounds like a good time — do we get drunk before, after, or both?

  52. Great White Wonder says

    My point is, when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN or is able to have a column printed in the New York Time? Absolutely none!

    Same with the earth-centered theory of the solar system.

    And where are the Ph.D. sasquatchologists?

    It’s so unfair. How are our children to mature into critical thinkers without access to the information provided by prize-winning* scientists like Michael Behe?

    *winner of the Fuckhead of the Year Award, 2005.

  53. Great White Wonder says

    “All Christian are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”
    “All Christians are stupid!”

    This actually works. Since I’ve been repeating this to myself and hanging out here at the Panda’s Thumb, I’ve met more stupid Christians than I ever thought existed.

    Perhaps Templeton University should study this phenomenon.

  54. MrHanson says

    “That’s not a moped! It’s a vehicle with a mix of bicycle and motorcycle features!”

    That’s not Effigia! It’s a crocile Ancestor that just so happens to share many features with ornithomimosaurs!

    That’s not an Itchylosaur! It’s a fish with a mix of reptile and porpoise features!

    That’s not a Thylocine! It’s a dog that happens to be a marsupial!

    That’s not a sugar glider! It’s a flying squirrel that also happens to be a marsupial!

    That’s not a….. oh I give up.

  55. Leon says

    Please accept my apologies. I shouldn’t have posted this

    Ok, and I may have jumped the gun a little responding.

    Not everyone here is anti-Christian, much as that may seem the general climate. And I hope you’re not associating pro-evolution with anti-Christian (I don’t necessarily see that in your statement, but it could be construed that way.)

  56. MrHanson says

    “*winner of the Fuckhead of the Year Award, 2005”

    Another cunning demonstration of the unbiased, intelligent (and obviously mature) posters in this forum. You don’t happen to work for the New York Times or CNN do you?

  57. Steviepinhead says

    Sounds like a good time — do we get drunk before, after, or both?

    Dang! I’m sorry, I didn’t know I was supposed to WAIT (hey, it’s Friday night, who needs the DI as an excuse?).

    Double dang! 1402 Third, that’s like downtown on a major street, meaning a TALL building.

    I may need to go get a lot more toilet paper.

    Do they even SELL toilet paper in this bar?

  58. Anne Nonymous says

    And I find it somewhat amusing that pro-darwinists here seem to place all the critical eggs of Darwinian theory in the Christian basket.

    Wow. So, which came first, the critical Darwinian chicken or the critical Darwinian egg? And is the Christian basket a handbasket? Can we go to hell in it? That sounds like fun.

  59. Anne Nonymous says

    All the Whos down in Whoville are singing. The Grinch was smart enough to realize that that must mean his assumptions about what they thought was important were all wrong…but Robert Crowther just isn’t that clever.

    I’m amused that you used an effectively religious reference to make this point, PZ. I’m sorta surprised none of the trolls have been smug about it yet.

  60. CousinMacul says

    While I was at the DI website, I decided to see what they had to say about that other anti-ID story out there. Sure enough, our friend Dr. Behe was at it again. His whole rebuttal can basically summed up as “So what? The system you chose doesn’t meet the criteria of being irreducibly complex.” But my favorite line is

    “2) The authors (including Christoph Adami in his commentary) are conveniently defining “irreducible complexity” way, way down. I certainly would not classify their system as IC.”

    Wow! This coming from the guy who conveniently defines “scientific theory” way, way down.

  61. craig says

    when does a qualified person with a PHD who is critical of Evolutionary theory get airtime on CNN

    as soon as one exists?

  62. Anne Nonymous says

    You know, that Harun Yahya site is just not good PR for Islam at all. Poor site design, crazy ideas, focused on one guy like he’s some kinda cult figurehead. Sigh. It’s a good thing there’s all these crazy Christians and Jews and etc. too, or the symmetry of my religious intolerance would be in serious danger.

  63. Anne Nonymous says

    Er, aren’t the Grinch and the Whos in Whoville, um, in a story about Christmas? You know, that holiday that’s supposed to be about some dead guy on a stick’s virgin birthday?

  64. craig says

    (and anyway, you didn’t say someone anti-evolution. You just said “a person of faith.”)

    Which means, of course, that you feel that for someone to be a person of faith, they have to reject evolution… and of course which also means that for someone to reject evolution, it’s a religious position….

    and which means that you are saying that “Intelligent Design” = Creationism = Religion.

    You’re saying intelligent design is not science, it’s “faith.”

    No shit.

  65. craig says

    “Er, aren’t the Grinch and the Whos in Whoville, um, in a story about Christmas? You know, that holiday that’s supposed to be about some dead guy on a stick’s virgin birthday?”

    damn – that’s right… I remember it now – the Grinch steals the baby jesus so god can’t come on his sleigh and bring the rapture to all the whos in whoville. Or something.

  66. says

    Perfectly good secular values are on display in The Grinch, and there isn’t a whiff of any scrap of the Christian mythos anywhere in it. Didn’t you notice?

  67. says

    So… a fish that has tetra-pod-like characteristics (and, one would assume, fish-like characteristics since we are calling it a fish) is not an intermediate between fish and tetrapod? Huh. This thing has fish parts! And some tetrapod-like parts! And this other fossil is even more like a tetrapod and less like a fish! That one over there is more like a fish and less like a tetrapod! Wow. It’s a darn shame we don’t have any intermediate fossils.

  68. Anne Nonymous says

    Yes, craig, I know Christmas isn’t presented in a particularly religious light in Seuss’ story. But, just because pop culture tends to treat it like a secular holiday doesn’t mean that Christmas as a concept, or the average Western celebration of Christmas, is fundamentally secular.

    As far as I can tell, most Christian Americans (which means most Americans) still go to church on that day, even if they never go the entire rest of the year. And most people know it’s supposed to be about that virgin-born Stick-Boy, even if they’re not much into the Jesusy aspects of the holiday themselves. For Jewish families Christmas tends to be a huge issue — the kids see all their friends getting presents and having huge celebrations and stuff, and they want a piece of it too. Why do you think a minor holiday like Chanukkah has been blown up into such a big thing?

    So I’m sorry if it’s hard for me to see Christmas as anything other than a religious celebration, even if many non-Christians like to ignore that fact so that they can have a big dinner with their families and get loads of presents. And I reserve the right as an atheist to despise Christmas for that reason (and many others), despite all my warm fuzzy childhood memories about it.

  69. Anne Nonymous says

    I mean, all that said, I think the Grinch book is great, and of course I’d read it to my kids and I don’t think there was anything wrong with quoting it to make the point that was made. I just thought it was kinda funny.

  70. rrt says

    MrHanson:

    GWW and I have our differences, but those are peripheral. Why would you single that out vs. the general point of his post…that the allegation that the media refuses to give time to or treat any religious authority or person credibly is, quite factually, asinine? Do yourself a favor: Check the audio archives and transcript from tonight’s PBS News Hour. No, it’s not about ID…wanna check some of PZ’s archives excoriating multiple news stories about ID?

    And given the silliness of that quote, and the general exhaustion and frustration he and most of us feel here regarding the silliness of the general creationst/ID movement, can you really begrudge his venom very much? If anyone deserves it, Behe does.

    At least do him the favors of respecting his right to be pissed and responding to the substance of his statements. If you have no issue with the latter, well, my apologies for missing that.

  71. Sean Foley says

    The (popular) media is anything but friendly to ANYONE of faith. The only time a person of faith gets airtime in the popular media is when they give (say Fred Phelps) who is an idiotic religous fenatic, an interview.

    Yeah. Remember when John Paul II died and CNN hardly said a word about it, not bothering to bring a single religious figure on the air to discuss his pontificate or any matter of faith whatsoever? Man, what was up with that?

    And where are the Ph.D. sasquatchologists?

    Well, there was Grover Krantz, but he’s dead.

  72. Torbjörn Larsson says

    “it’s hard for me to see Christmas as anything other than a religious celebration, even if many non-Christians like to ignore that fact so that they can have a big dinner with their families and get loads of presents.”

    But there are nonreligious traditions to go by in some parts of the world.

    Where I live, as for midsummer and spring festivals, yule was kidnapped by christians. If you ignore these parts you are left with fun and inspiring traditions that doesn’t look like any modern religion. The christians couldn’t kill yule.

  73. says

    Dr Spinoza has a point, I think:

    Creationists and IDiots operate with a basically Aristotelian metaphysics — living things are distinguished based on “kinds,” and each kind is an “essence” which is realized in many different existing things.

    Also, isn’t the same thinking at the heart of racism?

  74. Anne Nonymous says

    Craig, fair enough, and sorry if I got a bit edgy. I was in the middle of a rather tense argument in another forum, so I was maybe just a bit too much into a mode of slamming into any criticism at all with a massive wall of argument. Which is kind of a stupid way to be when I was really only intending to make a light joke in the first place. So, um, I’m a dork. Sorry.

    Torbjörn, I just want to respond to you so I can use an umlaut. :-)

    I don’t know that I actually have anything productive to add, but here goes… I guess it seems hard to me to roll back the mass of Christian associations far enough to be able to appreciate Yule on (what little has been preserved of) its own merits. Although I’ve gotta imagine some of those merits are probably pretty much pagan superstition, which isn’t my most favoritest thing either. ;-)

    It would be awfully nice to have some genuinely secular, non-nationalist festivals, though. Especially, with, you know, big family dinners and presents. ;-P

  75. Second Dan says

    Bastards. The post and then your comments have made me hurt myself laughing.

    Poor bloody creationists. They’re like pinatas waiting to be smacked.

  76. Pete Dunkelberg says

    Whenever I see the word “Darwinian” (or kind) by bsometer pegs.

    Haven’t you heard of Newtonian motion?

  77. Torbjörn Larsson says

    Anne, I understand completely. One can forget about the religious associations when in secular company, but there are always reminders around.

    We could celebrate things like the Big Bang; it should be lots of fireworks. :-) Or First light of our sun; one has to stay up and watch sunrise, as a symbol of the fusion ignition. There are also humanistic things to celebrate like the First democracy.

  78. says

    Dr. Spinoza: I more or less agree, but Aristotle was much more ambivalent about mind-body dualism than these sorts presumably are. This is crucial to understanding them, I should think. I’ve also been (for a current project) trying to figure out the relationship between the metaphysics and the ethics – it seems to me that there is a sort of feedback cycle involve or a self-reinforcing circle. This is fine as far as it goes; I would expect a secular and materialist world view to work out the same – whence my arguing for the imporance of developing them rather than merely working piecemeal on philosophical problems. For example, who thinks about connecting (say) one’s view of dispositions with debates over the correct ethical theory? Prima facie there is of course no conflict possible, but I suspect that together with “morsels of science and technology” (as Bunge puts it) and of art, then one starts to get an interesting space of world views and that some of the answers to the “problems and paradoxes” in the philosophical literature become impossible to sustain together. (I’ve been wanting to write a piece of software called “world view builder” to help with mapping this out, but haven’t gotten around to it.)

    Dr. Seuss? Grinch? Do they make a tofu substitute for roast beast? (I’m not a vegetarian, but it might be good to have around.)

  79. Chris says

    Don’t forget that Christmas is also traditionally celebrated by lying to small children. (Lots of people push their religion on children, but usually only if they believe it. People who *know* Santa Claus is fake still encourage small children to believe it.)

    I like your ideas Torbj√ɬ∂rn – don’t forget the anniversary of the moon landing (one of the few that we can know an actual day to celebrate it on) and other notable human achievements.

  80. says

    When it comes to holiday traditions that don’t have silly religious content, I think we need to roll our own. I don’t mind pagan cultural sources (after all, the point of pagan religion, as I understand the history, was more about culture and ritual than about belief). We hold a Saturnalia celebration, which has some nice resonances– freeing Saturn, echoes of an egalitarian golden age, inversion of social hierarchy (& a little mischief and fun with the sacerdotus), and a few other rituals. Of course it’s not anything serious (no more serious that the Saturnalian content of Christian Christmas celebrations– there is no more of an ‘essence’ to these social things than there is to species– after all, they are biological…). For serious content (such as it is) we just say ‘happy solstice’– at least in the northern part of the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice is a nice bit of good news: By that time of year, I really miss the light…

  81. craig says

    I have no problem sticking with the traditional holidays. Why? Because they have always BEEn celebrations of fiction and fantasy. Halloween – great fun, and nobody actually believed in ghosts and witches and goblins and stuff… it was just fun playing pretend! (The few morons who do believe in those things HATE halloween.)

    Easter – nobody actually believe in the easter bunny, etc… Nobody believes in Santa and Rudolph.

    It’s always BEEN just a bit of fun with make-believe.

    Even the fools who think easter and xmas have a religious significance still do the bunny and santa stuff, so even they at least partially acknowledge its a fun celebration of BS… they don’t actually think of the bunny as relating to jesus.

    So the only difference is, everyone celebrates the fun of make-believe, and some think there’s something real tangentally related to the make-believe in the case of a couple of holidays, but a few of us are able to see that it’s ALL make-believe.

    What’s the problem? Do I have to believe in zombies to dress up for halloween?

    Do I have to believe in zombies and jesus to dress up as a zombie jesus for christmas?

  82. vandalhooch says

    PhD sasquatchologists – Dr. Jeff Meldrum

    Started a course in primate evolution taught by him but I had to drop it after a rugby injury. Very smart guy, with a hint of wishfulness.

  83. Torbjörn Larsson says

    BTW, Wall Street Journal has a rather nice ID takedown caused by Tiktaalik and the study on ancestral hormone receptors.

    “The trouble for ID is that this isn’t the first study to show, step by step, how complex structures could have evolved. Recent experiments have shown how irreducibly complex structures such as bacterial flagella and the lens of an eye could have evolved by co-opting existing structures just as the hormone did. More such research is in the pipeline.”

  84. says

    They are not intermediates in the sense that they are half-fish/half-tetrapod.

    Hm. This reminds me of something. Oh, wait. I remember: this.
    Gee, an ID proponent making the same argument as a cretionist. Who’d’a thought it?

  85. David Renrel says

    Fools or liars? I think it comes down to brainwashing. We have been programmed forever to copy our parents. It’s how we have language, bipedal movement, whatever. (Ok, I made up the specifics, but they work for my purpose.) Small children believe their parents, right or wrong. It’s why bigots have bigots, saints have saints, and creationists have creationists. If any religion truly made more sense than any other, with just enough advertising to indicate its existance, people should flock to it from all backgrounds. But this doesn’t happen. Children follow their parents, and those early instilled beliefs are deeply entrenched.

    Not that I actually expect this to be read, since it’s not at the top.

  86. gap says

    Some facts for fact fans!
    Scientists are not immune on scamps(Piltdown man,38 million years old fly, Archaeoraptor..).They are not unmistakable in indentification fossil remains(Nebrasca man,Man of Orce..).So,what if Tiktaalik pass the test?Where is his place in evolution from fish to tetrapods?It is said that body scales, fin rays, lower jaw and palate are comparable to those in more primitive sarcopterygians(not more advanced),but also have some evolutionary bonuses.It seems to me that his closest match Elpistostege, a fragmentary fossil thought to be closer to tetrapods than Panderichthys, “beating” him in some features,but “tiktak” has greater score(more bonuses,less penalties)till now.But the game is not over yet,cause either fossil is not complete.What if final score will be drawn?It is look like that one gap is filled,but more then few might be opened due to this finding,so gaps multiplication continues(creationsafaris.com/crev200604.htm).Imagine,what would happen(i am evolving into evolutionist)if scientists discover tetrapods older than “tiktak”(like anachron grass eating dinos)?In summary,there are little evidence,and gigantic hate.That is why evolution will continue to have indisputable right on scientific truth.

  87. steve says

    I love reading this stuff! But, come on… Does America exist? I’m from England and I noticed on a map of Ireland a village called Hollywood! Ah, the penny dropped! “That’s where they make America” I exclaimed to myself. But I’m a bit perplexed to read such detailed stuff from ppl pretending to be scientists from ‘America’ who are obviously actors from Ireland. Is it really necessary to go to such lengths?. God, like any Top Bod in industry gets the credit for any work done in his employ. Nobody cares how many Angel hours went into R&D. God picked ‘that one’ and a whole team with millions of years experience suddenly became redundant. Question: if the moon was closer 350m years ago, were the tides stronger? did fish need to get a grip for long periods in fast flowing mega tides? perhaps a watery world at that time didnt need land animals just tenacious fish!