"The main cause, however, of innumerable intermediate links not now occurring everywhere throughout nature, depends on the very process of natural selection, through which new varieties continually take the places of and supplant their parent-forms. But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely-graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and serious objection which can be urged against the theory." -- Charles Darwin, 1859.
Out of all the different evidences for common descent, none is more powerful and compelling as the now-many fossils of seeming human ancestry, especially the skulls--the most obvious illustrations of evolutionary transition. When Jonathon Wells captioned the series of images progressing from primitive ape to modern man the "Ultimate Icon" of evolution, he was right. Upon the urging of the acolytes of Darwin's theory, the paleontological record went from destitute to rich with fossils of intermediate forms. It remains a false popular myth among the skeptics that intermediate forms are somehow lacking, that the "missing links" are still missing. For fifty years, a trip to a natural history museum should have been the remedy to that error. Nowadays, all it takes is an Internet search and a mouse click (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Human Evolution Evidence).
The Evidence To this end, Douglas Theobald, in his web series, "29+ Evidences of Macroevolution," compiled a series of images of fossil skulls from the Smithsonian website. Sourcing that compilation, the following animated GIF illustrates that series.
Do not misunderstand this series of skulls. It is not meant to illustrate a direct lineage. Instead, each species would be placed variously within a family tree, with a species similar to (but not the same as) a modern chimpanzee at the root of the tree and the species of modern humans at one of the tips of the many branches. Because of the diversity and uncertainty of ancestral history, we can not expect to either find or certainly identify any species exactly along the lineage of human ancestry.
The Evolutionary Explanation But, we can expect to find features transitioning from ancestral features to modern features among the species in the family tree, because all species would be variously connected to the lineage of human ancestry. Three of the most obvious and relevant spectra of transitioning features are:
Increasing cranium size. The ancestors had small brains, but modern humans have large brains.
Decreasing snout protrusion. The ancestors had a long protruding snout like a chimpanzee, but modern humans have a snout that is flush with the face.
Decreasing eyebrow protrusion. The ancestors had eyebrow ridges that protrude, but modern human eyebrows are flush with the forehead.
With progressing time, each of these three transitional qualities among the set of fossils progress roughly along each spectrum. This matches evolutionary expectations. Before Darwin, none of these fossil skulls were known, and nobody expected them. Darwin predicted that such transitions should be existent in the fossil record. The scientific adherents of Darwin's theory were motivated to look for them, and indeed they found them.
The Creationism Explanations So how do creationists explain this evidence?
They certainly do not explain all of the evidence of hominid fossil skulls all at once. They seemingly do not ever bother with explaining the apparent transitions in the features of the whole of the fossil evidence. Instead, at best, they focus on the specifics, and they pigeonhole each specimen as either "human" or "ape," as their model demands.
The following table reports the creationist opinions, among four prominent creationist organizations, of the identities of seven of the fossil skulls in the above series.
For the transitional features among hominid fossil skulls that go from chimpanzee-like to human-like, there generally is little difficulty for the creationists on the two opposing ends of each spectrum. The problems emerge with the fossil specimens with features that fall within the middle of the spectra. In this case, two such specimens are KNM-ER 1813 (Homo habilis) and KNM-ER 1470 (Homo rudolfensis).
Some evolutionists find revealing irony in the disagreements among creationists. Jim Foley of TalkOrigins.org researched thoroughly and established that point beautifully (Comparison of all skulls). But, I find more relevance on the points where creationists agree. AiG is conflicted, but two prominent creationist organizations, ICR (Institute for Creation Research) and CMI (Creation Ministries International), both assert that KNM-ER 1813 (or the Homo habilis) is an ape and KNM-ER 1470 (or the Homo rudolfensis) is a human.
A. W. Mehlert of CMI says about KNM-ER 1813,
Whatever else may be said of the enigmatic specimen ER 1813, its post-cranial features are very similar to those of OH 62. Whatever the various authorities choose to call these creatures, australopithecines or habilines, the fact remains that apart from brain-size in a few of them, they all still overwhelmingly display the same chimp-like features of the 'early' specimens. (Australopithecus and Homo habilis Pre-Human Ancestors?)
Duane Gish of ICR says about the species of the KNM-ER 1813,
Furthermore, the postcranial skeleton (that portion of the skeleton below the skull) was every bit as primitive, or ape-like, as that of "Lucy," who is supposedly two million years older than this allegedly 1.8-million-year-old adult female, H. habilis. Recovery of the remains of the arm of this H. habilis fossil revealed the fact that, just as is true of apes, it had very long arms, with finger tips reaching almost down to the knees. (Startling Discoveries Support Creation)
Peter Line of CMI says about the KNM-ER 1470,
The interpretation of fossil cranium KNM-ER 1470, from Koobi Fora, Kenya, which has a cranial capacity of about 752 cm[sup]3[/sup],has been problematic for both evolutionists and creationists. In 1999 creationist Bill Mehlerts analysis, which focused on the disputed reconstruction of the face of cranium 1470, led him to believe that the cranium looks increasingly like a larger-brained gracile australopithecine. However, creationist Marvin Lubenow has long argued for its human status, and, in his revised and updated book Bones of Contention, recently stated that comparisons suggest that skull 1470 is more modern than any of the Homo erectus fossilseven the Kow Swamp material, which is only about 10,000 years old. Creationist Malcolm Bowden has also argued that KNM-ER 1470 is simply a small human skull. Although there are variations between specimens KNM-ER 1470 and KNM-ER 1813, much of it can be explained, according to evolutionist Wolpoff, if we assume that the larger crania and faces with powerful postcanine dentitions (and their structural consequences) of specimens such as ER 1470 reflect body size differences. Although a gorilla skull has been found with the same cranial capacity (752 cm[sup]3[/sup]) as that of KNM-ER 1470, the cranium of the latter is much more likely that of a human than an ape. (Fossil evidence for alleged apemenPart 1: the genus Homo)
Duane Gish of ICR says about the KNM-ER 1470,
The small cranial capacity for this skull is difficult to reconcile with the fact that everything else about it is reportedly essentially indistinguishable from modern man (Dr. Alec Cave, an English anatomist, has described the skull as "typically human"). Even the pigmy must possess a cranial capacity in excess of that reported for 1470, although an Australian aboriginal female with a cranial capacity of about 900 cc has been reported. (Richard Leakey's Skull 1470)
So there is agreement that KNM-ER 1813 is an ape and KNM-ER 1470 is a human. Now, the following images are those two skulls. The first is the "ape," and the second is the "human."
This distinction between "human" and "ape," especially among the extinct species, is apparently not easy.
To illustrate the sort of contrast between ape and human that creationists should expect, the following images are of two more skulls. The first is modern ape (chimpanzee), and the second is modern human. The chimpanzee is the modern species most similar to the human species.
Creationist authors often make a point that evolutionists are strongly conflicted about the identifications of hominid fossils. However, disagreements of classification are expected among evolutionists, because the theory itself expects the objective evidence to be ambiguously transitional. The theory of evolution expects messy transition and overlap, not only between "human" and "ape," but between all of the narrowest delineations of "ape" that may relate to the human ancestry.
Creationists, on the other hand, expect cut-and-dry delineations of created "kinds," of which all humans belong to a single "kind," all descended from Adam and Eve. There should be no ambiguity within the model of young-Earth creationism about which fossil specimens are human and which are not, and the criteria of such decisions would be predicted to be as plain as day. After all, according to Genesis, only one species was created in the image of God.
Edited by Admin, : Reduce table width.
Edited by Admin, : Change table background to make links more visible.
Edited by Adminnemooseus, : Add "(FINAL STATEMENTS ONLY)" to topic title.
Your prejudices about creationists seem to be clouding your judgment about the most obvious explanation for the similarity between men and apes. Find me an engineer who doesn't recycle old code for new designs. You can't. The intelligent designer of human beings did the same. He may have even borrowed the code for apes that someone else wrote for his own design of Homo sapiens. That is very much like the way we all know intelligent design is done, in all fields of engineering. QED.
quote:Find me an engineer whose designs fall into a nested hierarchy.
Also, engineers recycle old designs and old code because of time and resource constraints. An omniscient and omnipotent supernatural deity who resides outside of time with access to infinite resources would not need to recycle designs. For such an entity starting from scratch would require the same effort as recycling old designs.
OK, you win, I believe in the theory of evolution, now.
ICANT, I think you are reading Genesis correctly. The way critical scholars tend to make sense of it is to discern two creation stories from two separate traditions that were merged into one narrative. It is called the "documentary hypothesis." You may notice that the passage from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 uses the Hebrew phrase Elohim, translated "God." But, Genesis 2:4 and onward uses the phrase YHWH Elohim, translated "LORD God." This marks the two separate Jewish traditions.
ICANT, the documentary hypothesis as it applies to the two separate creation stories in Genesis is perhaps the most controversial element of the theory, and it seems to be a big reason to conclude one of two things: 1) that both accounts are merely Jewish myth, with no reflection on creation or origins as they actually happened, or 2) that the documentary hypothesis is nothing but garbage, which is the stance taken by so many creationists.
The evidence for the documentary hypothesis seems to be very firm, with the two accounts of creation being one of many "doublets" throughout the first five books of the Old Testament. Each "doublet" is marked by a different phrase for God, be it YHWH, Elohim, or YHWH Elohim. Genesis 1 is from the "P" source, and Genesis 2:4 and onward is from the "J" source.
Since the two traditions were seemingly developed apart from each, it would be reasonable to conclude that such knowledge did not have a common source, and their two sources are explained as roughly the same set of sources as so many other hundreds of tribal creation myths--creative storytelling imaginations.
Do you suppose there is anything wrong with such an explanation?
ICANT, there really are a bunch of people out there who will believe whatever plausible idea that discredits and embarrasses Christianity the most. I try to be a little more disciplined with my explanations--I will believe the best explanations regardless of where that may lead--to either confirmation of Christianity, condemnation of Christianity, or something neutral. The method of finding the best explanation is something that I found within New Testament scholarship. It is called, "Argument to the Best Explanation." The explanation for evidence that scores best on the criteria of explanatory scope, explanatory power, plausibility, consistency and least ad hoc should be accepted as the best explanation.
The documentary hypothesis explains the differences in the names of "God" between the doublets and triplets in Genesis and the other Pentateuch texts. The redactor (who combined the texts) wanted to preserve the contents of the previous texts (scripture is sacred), and the previous texts each had different titles for "God." It isn't just a way to discredit the Bible, but it really seems to be the best way to make sense of it. Do you have an explanation for why "God" is used in Genesis 1:1-2:3 but "LORD God" is used in Genesis 2:4 and onward? If your explanation exceeds the documentary hypothesis in the criteria, then such an explanation wins.
Here is the nearly-complete skeleton of Turkana Boy, so a judgment can be made about whether he descended from the humans created according to Genesis 1:27 or whether he descended from Adam and Eve as told in to Genesis 2.
Here is the full skeleton of Lucy (Australopithicus afarensis).
I am not sure if it was Turkana Boy or Lucy who more closely match the humans who were closest in design to "in the image of God he created them," but they must been the ones who were killed in Noah's flood. There is a line of ancestral descent from Adam to Noah, and Noah's ancestry is linked to Abraham, Jesus and presumably the entire world population.
Anyway, if Lucy was the one who is closer in descent to the image of God, then this is a rough reconstruction of what God looks like:
But, if Turkana Boy was the one closer in descent to the image of God, then this is a rough reconstruction of what God looks like:
I like the looks of Turkana Boy better, but, if he was sorta created in the image of God according to Genesis 1:27, then I am thinking it is difficult to explain Lucy.
Edited by ApostateAbe, : Update image of Turkana Boy
ICANT, do you really think that Lucy existed 3.5 million years ago, Turkana Boy existed 1.5 million years ago, and God created man 6,000 to 10,000 years ago? I am trying to understand your position. Where do you place Lucy and Turkana Boy in the history of life?
ICANT, very well. I take it your model is somewhat like that of Hugh Ross, where each "day" can be interpreted as a very long time, and I take it you are still not sure about whether Lucy and Turkana Boy should be considered human or ape.
Before, I mentioned five criteria for determining the best explanation. One of them was explanatory power, and it is a very important one. It is the principle that the explanation must narrowly expect the evidence. It is most well-known as prediction within science.
The theory of evolution expects that there should be intermediate forms between humans and lower primates. That is what the whole series of fossils represent, including Lucy, Turkana Boy and all the fossils listed in the OP. These were most certainly not predicted by anyone who explained life with creation by God.
Your model can accommodate the evidence. With enough imagination, so can strict mainline young-Earth creationism, because they have speculation of the power of God to change the evidence according to his mysterious will. That isn't the test of a good model, however. The model with the most probability has all of the criteria.
quote:Darwin expected there would be millions of intermediate forms that would be found. When they were not the theory had to be modified.
Yes, that's right. Sort of. I have Darwin's prediction at the top of the OP. He didn't say "millions," but he did present a question: "Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links?" What I left out was the remainder of that chapter (Chapter X) where he answers that question. You can read all about it here. His actual prediction was: "...so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed, be truly enormous."
And we find evidence of exactly that.
If you object that not enough intermediate varieties have been found to confirm the prediction, then I suppose that would be relevant if you had an explanation with greater explanatory power that covers the existing evidence of seemingly intermediate forms.
The debate shouldn't really be about what Darwin predicted, and I shouldn't have brought it up, because it can get into an irrelevant debate about 19th century history. If Darwin predicted no such thing, then the theory of evolution and the evidence would each have same weight. I brought up Darwin's prediction mainly because it is a demonstration of the relevant point: the theory of evolution has explanatory power of the intermediate forms in the fossil record.
Just so you know exactly what I mean, here is the formal definition of explanatory power:
The hypothesis with the greatest explanatory power must make the observation statements it implies more probable than any other.
That is a rephrase from C. Behan McCullagh's Justifying Historical Descriptions. Another way to say it is: the evidence must follow from the theory with the greatest probability.
To explain further, you quoted a verse in Genesis that says that Adam named "every living creature," which could successfully be interpreted to include Lucy, Turkana Boy, et cetera, just like any living thing you can possibly imagine.
Since the theory of evolution expects the specific evidence much more so than the model of special creation by God, then the theory of evolution has explanatory power, and it wins the battle of probability.
If no intermediate forms between human and other primates were found in the fossil record, despite centuries of thorough searching and finding everything but such fossil intermediates, then the theory of evolution would have a big problem, but the model of special creation by God would score the same.
If, instead, we found intermediates between men and birds, then the theory of evolution would have an even larger problem, as it would imply that the family tree forms an impossibly looping branch. Before Darwin's theory, humans were placed by Linnaeus in the taxonomy of great apes. But, the model of special creation by God scores the same.
If, instead of intermediate forms, we found fossils that form an entirely different structure of life, not a family tree, but a rectangular grid, then the model of special creation would hang its head high, but the theory of evolution would not even be on the table.
arachnophilia, I haven't lost all hope. Even when you don't see it happen, it happens. Some people really do change their minds in light of the evidence. I am one of them. It works best when you don't try to force it down anyone's throat.