quote: ... the evolution of birds as basically fact when the debate still rages as to how and from where.
Because scientists are in no doubt that birds evolved. Even though there is some debate as to what what the ancestors of birds were, not a single one of the scientists involved is contending that they did not evolve. Scientists are (mostly) not trying to prove evolution is true. That game is over. The evidence is in.
quote:Transitional fossils: Now reading through the transcript Colin Patterson's speech, I think I begin to understand what is happening. As many of you have pointed in some cases there seem to be morphological features in some animals which when placed next to other animals with similar morphological features you could possibly create a line of animals where these features are arranged into progressive steps. However which features do you pick? The ones that fit the best story? One basic example might be that the common theory says that birds evolved from reptiles, but this is because certain features are picked. If we picked as a major feature warm-bloodedness as a feature the evolutionary tree would look quite different with birds evolving from mammals.
One of the things that proves common descent is real is that similar trees result when different sets of features are used - and by the way, sets of features are always used rather than single ones to avoid the kind of problems you describe above.
Note that the trees are not EXACTLY THE SAME when derived by different methods - however, statistical analysis can now show how significant the similarity is. And for evolutionary trees it's very significant (pace Mayr).
Statistically it is also now possible to detect objectively how strongly a 'tree' supports 'common descent'. Trees based on features of organisms show strong evidence of this, languages do also.
quote:They are also generally in accord with the Creation model. As I said this type of classification makes no claim about evolutionary paths. It groups organisms into morphological similarities.
Or genetic similarities, or both - but that's a side issue.
The main point is that the trees are not 'generally in accord with the creation model'. The evidence we have massively constrains the kind of creation that is permitted - to one that looks exactly like common descent.
What we explicitly do NOT see is a modular approach, where the same components are used across a wide variety of organisms in widely spread branches of the tree. Everything looks like it is derived from characters that belong to creatures further up the tree.
Why would a designer be constrained in this way? Why would a designer create something that looks exactly like common descent? Why would a good and moral designer create something that leads people who care about evidence to the wrong conclusions about the history of life?
The answer is they wouldn't, of course. Because there was no designer