The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Okay, case in point courtesy of Bob Ellis and "Dr.Theo."

Some Creationists point to the Cambrian explosion as evidence against evolution. They point to the fossil record. Hmmm. What fossil record? What Cambrian era? When was that Cambrian era anyway? Before or after the big flood? 10 thousand years ago? Six thousand? Or 500 million? I'm sorry, but these guys are all over the map.

Here's the Ellis/Theo post:
And a fairly succinct rebuttal:

But the real question is, if all these layers were created in the "great flood" and laid down quickly a few thousand years ago, where are the giraffes in the Cambrian layer? Or Pebbles? Or Bam Bam? And how can one use the fossil record and DNA to support an argument on one hand and deny it on the other?

So, yeah, the Cambrian layer. That's as good a place as any to start. (Except, of course, for the Pre-Cambrian layer.)


denature said...

According to evolutionary theory, one would expect to find in the fossil record that bacteria appeared before fish, which appeared before amphibians, which appeared before reptiles etc. This is an example in which evolutionary theory could be falsified. Instead it is confirmed--the appearance of particular groups of species is confirmed at multiple locations throughout the world.

By contrast, you seldom find a coherent model presented by creationists, which is one reason it should be kept out of the schools. Theo et al. provide a case in point to why this is. If we accept their central thesis--that complex animals first appeared on earth fully formed in the Cambrian--we still have to wait for the emergence of animal groups like bony fish, amphibians, dinosaurs etc. That means evolution still took place. Since only a small minority of creationists promote the idea that the flying speghetti monster created a subset of species fully formed and then let evolution take over (or that multiple rounds of creation took place separated by up to 100s of millions of years), they seldom mention the broad implications of their arguments.

There are a number of problems with promotion of Cambrian fossils as strong criticism of evolutionary theory. This is not comprehensive, and I'm attempting to be succinct.

1. The Cambrian is not a discrete point in time, it's tens of millions of years long. You do see evidence of gradual change throughout this period--all lifeforms don't show up all at once.

2. Evidence of multicellular life (and at least 6 animal phyla) exists before the Cambrian.

3. In addition to transitional forms outside the Cambrian, transitions can be found within the Cambrian (for example animals that look like worms with legs).

4. In addition to what we tend to think of as animals occurring later (mammals, reptiles, birds and the like), all land plants emerged after the Cambrian as did several animal phyla.

5. You can find "explosions" of diversity at other points outside of the Cambrian. Sometimes these are associated with extinction events, which would allow populations to move into previously unexploited niches. Nothing observed in the Cambrian requires a supernatural explanation.

6. If all life was formed at once, why no mention of how different the appearance of Cammbrian species are from modern forms?

Taunia said...

This is some seriously heavy stuff...I need ejication to come here when BF gets on this jag.

And denature, same way ....sigh...although, I am an authority on "the flying speghetti monster". Unless this isn't a fabricated idea. If there is indeed such a creature, then I know not one word of this entire dialogue.

I now know exactly how Sarah Palin feels.

Bill Fleming said...

Funny, Taunia. Click this sentence for more on "the flying spaghetti monster."

Richard Dawkins has a great hypothetical scenario from a courtroom that serves as a good analogy for this debate, which I'll paraphrase here:

Imagine that you, the prosecutor had proved your case against a murderer with DNA evidence, fingerprints, motive, opportunity, etc, etc, every way from Sunday but then, at the last minute, some video tape shows up from the security system in the victim's house.

We see the accused breaking in the door. Then we seem him walking through the house in another snippet, then going up the stairs, then into the bedroom, gun in hand. Then back out the door, down the stairs and back out the door he broke into. Open and shut case, right?

No! The defense argues that there are gaps in the video record and that we never see him shoot the gun! Therefore the butler did it, or it was a suicide, or the next door neighbor. Anyone but the accused. And (at least as far as the jury is concerned) all the other evidence goes right out the window.

Such is the nature of the Creationists' line of argument. Give them this much, they are indeed superb debaters. Even when they are dead wrong.

Steve Sibson said...


Creationists can answer “the who done it”, while the evolutionists have more questions they can’t answer.

Bill Fleming said...

No they can't, Steve.

Taunia said...

**Steve, it's much easier and wiser to sit down, shut and say you don't know the answer then to go forth, open your mouth and let us decide you don't know the answer.

You have no idea what you're talking about.

**BF, I looked at the link. I now know more about the flying spaghetti monster.

**Denature - I bow to your wisdom. Glad you're here.

Steve Sibson said...


Beware of false prophets.


We have history on our side. All you have is speculation. Your religious humanism (whichever branch you choose) takes more faith than Christianity.

Bill Fleming said...

History of what, Steve?

Bill Fleming said...

This is the kind of meaningless, knucklehead stuff Sibby always comes up with.

I read it over about four times trying to figure out what, if anything, he's trying to say, and then finally just give up and punt.

It's either that, or just refuse conversation with him, which seems rude — especially around the pastafarian "Holidays."

So ok Steve, what's the big bad deal about "humanism?"

Why are you not for it? Are you not human?

I would think, given what I can distill from your disjointed rambling posts, that you would be more inclined, both politically and theologically, to argue against "materialism."

Bill Fleming said...

"Around the time of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, Pastafarians celebrate a vaguely-defined holiday named "Holiday". Holiday does not take place on "a specific date so much as it is the Holiday season, itself". Because Pastafarians "reject dogma and formalism", there are no specific requirements for Holiday. Pastafarians are instructed to celebrate Holiday however they please.[28]

Pastafarians interpret the increasing usage of "Happy Holidays", rather than more traditional greetings (such as "Merry Christmas"), as support for Pastafarianism.[28] In December 2005, George W. Bush's White House Christmas greeting cards wished people a happy "holiday season",[29] leading Henderson to write the President a note of thanks, including a "fish" emblem depicting the Flying Spaghetti Monster for his limo or plane.[30] Henderson also thanked Wal-mart for its use of the phrase.[31]"

— From above Wikipedia link (and yes, Sibby, it's a joke... Merry Christmas, dood.)

denature said...

"Creationists can answer the who done it."

It's Chuck Norris, isn't it?

Taunia said...


I only wish I'd thought of that one!