Casey Luskin and the Missing Link

We are about to embark on a great adventure, dear reader. As our title suggests, it’s something like an Indiana Jones movie; but unlike the intrepid Dr. Jones, the hero of this post never finds what he’s looking for.

The hero is Casey Luskin, our favorite creationist. He’s a Curmudgeon fellow and a follower of the Knights of Uranus.

The thing that makes Casey so unique among adventure heros is that his failures are his victories! Every time he doesn’t find what he claims to be seeking, he says it’s evidence for his theory of intelligent design — which depends upon such failures. In truth, his theory is nothing more than a God of the gaps argument. As Wikipedia so eloquently puts it:

God of the gaps is a type of theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are taken to be evidence or proof of God’s existence.

And as Einstein once said:

To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering with the natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense, by science, for this doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behaviour on the part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal. For a doctrine which is able to maintain itself not in clear light but only in the dark, will of necessity lose its effect on mankind, with incalculable harm to human progress.

– Albert Einstein, Science and Religion

That was a long introduction to an infinitely silly item at the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

Casey’s post is titled A Big Bang Theory of Homo. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us and Casey’s links omitted:

If human beings evolved from ape-like creatures, what were the transitional species between ape-like hominins and the truly human-like members of the genus Homo found in the fossil record?

There aren’t any good candidates.

That’s a stunning beginning! If you’re new to all of this, you should know that Casey is trumpeting his own book, about which we previously wrote Discovery Institute: Casey’s New Book! It’s published by the Discovery Institute Press, and the Discoveroids have posted about it at least a dozen times already.

Casey discusses several pre-Sapiens fossils, and nit-picks each one to conclude that none of them fits his concept of a transitional fossil that would demonstrate the evolution of man. He never gets around to saying precisely what it is that he’s looking for — perhaps only Piltdown Man would satisfy him — but nothing found thus far is able to meet his requirements. He never pauses to marvel that if we were specially created by the magic designer — blessed be he! — then none of those fossilized creatures makes any sense, except as our cousins.

We’ll skip over his review of the fossils that have been found, and his dissatisfaction with each of them as a direct ancestor. His analysis isn’t worth the bother. After that he says:

In other words, the fossil record provides ape-like australopithecines, and human-like Homo, but not fossils documenting a transition between them.

In the absence of fossil evidence, evolutionary claims about the transition to Homo are said to be mere “inferences” made by studying the non-transitional fossils we do have, and then assuming that a transition must have occurred somehow, sometime, and someplace.

Assuming that no human ancestor has yet been discovered that is satisfactory to Casey, which of these two conclusions is more ridiculous: (1) We have no ancestors; or (2) we have them but they haven’t been found yet? You know which conclusion Casey prefers. He finishes his essay with this:

As another commentator proposed, the evidence implies a “big bang theory” of the appearance of our genus Homo.

So Casey is claiming that human evolution has only a “big bang theory” to explain the gap in our fossil record. From that he concludes that his magic designer is the god of that gap. That’s as good summary of intelligent design theory as you’re ever likely to find.

We can’t wait for the sequel: Casey Luskin and the Quest for a Brain.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Casey Luskin and the Missing Link

  1. Please note that, although the article is titled, “A Big Bang Theory of Homo“, it doesn’t present any theory. It doesn’t tell us what he guesses might have happened or when. It doesn’t offer an explanation for the appearances of those fossils (or for the absence of other things that might have been – why no centaurs?).

  2. So the DI is reduced to excerpting portions of their book on their website now? Are they not selling enough copies to pay their printing costs? Or, maybe, Casey is just too lazy to write anything new.

    The “Big Bang” term was in a press release, (in an unusually helpful gesture it is actually linked in the footnotes) which referred to a paper concluding that homo went through a population bottleneck about two million years ago in Africa, during which relatively rapid evolution took place. Per the press release, the authors based this on a “broad range of genetic, fossil, and archeological evidence”. The only mention of the term is in the headline to the press release, and the article seems to be focused on showing that no more recent bottleneck occurred, as proposed by advocates of the Eve theory.

    I haven’t clicked on the other footnotes, but it would no doubt expose Casey’s trademarked quote mining.

    It’s amazing to me just how diverse our ancestors became after diverging from chimps. That, or the designer tried lots of different variations before settling on a final one. Does attorney Casey regard the changes from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens to be evolution, or a little post-production tinkering by the designer, I wonder?

  3. “There aren’t any good candidates” :Luskin stated. I always thought of him as a/the missing link.

    Anyway, here’s a summary of his “big bang reference,” from a year 2000 study, but subsequent support is not mentioned, certainly not by Luskin.

    http://www.ns.umich.edu/Releases/2000/Jan00/r011000b.html

    “According to the researchers, the available genetic data do not disprove a simple model of exponential population growth following a bottleneck two million years ago and extending through the Pleistocene Epoch, when ice covered much of North America and Europe. But they are incompatible with a more recent population-size bottleneck.

    “Many details of subsequent human evolution over the period of the ice ages remain unclear, but one certain finding from both anthropological and genetic data is that there was no later time when the size of the human species became small again,” says Hawks. “So the ‘Eve theory’ of modern human origins, which states that modern human populations very recently arose as a new African species that replaced all other indigenous peoples such as Neanderthals, can be put to rest. “

  4. Retired Prof

    What, DavidK? No evidence for an eight-person bottleneck 4,000 years ago, during Noah’s flood?

    The DI needs to replicate that study and turn up the evidence overlooked or misinterpreted by the previous researchers. It has to be there, because otherwise the case for the biblical account is seriously weakened. Maybe demolished.

  5. He references the same paper all creationists reference, Spoor et al. (1994) on inner ear structure of hominids. That paper he lies about outright.

    Luskin writes: “An analysis in Nature of the ear canals of habilis similarly found that its skull is most similar to baboons and suggested the fossil “relied less on bipedal behaviour than the australopithecines.”

    Outright lying. No one has established that that the skull of Homo habilis is most similar to babboons– what lying scum. He’s pathological.

    In fact, that paper only analyzed the inner ear structure of one true Homo habilis fossil, and it was transitional between Australopithecus and Homo erectus in inner ear structure. It supports Homo habilis as a transitional.

    However, in that paper they also analyzed another fossil at that time called Homo habilis but later reassigned to Homo gautengensis. It was slightly off from a transitional state between Australopithecus and H. erectus– off by about one standard deviation– not statistically significant.

    This paper was widely criticized for drawing inferences about bipedality from tiny, tiny differences in inner ear structure.

    Every creationist cites that as disproving bipedality of Homo habilis. They get the fossils mixed up.

    But Luskin says the skull of H. habilis is most similar to a babboon?

    Luskin is a pathological liar.

  6. Luskin needs to focus on what’s going on in Louisiana with Jindal’s voucher program. He and the Louisiana Family Forum went to great lengths to get the LSEA passed. Now, scarce education dollars will be going to Christian Madrassas who have NO interest whatsoever in ID or ‘Strengths and Weaknesses in Evolution’. It’s going to be flat out, full blown, lake-of-fire Creationism for these folks. I can’t find a peep anywhere on DI’s website about these vouchers or Zach Kopplin’s efforts to reverse the policy. With all of this going on, where’s Luskin and his scientific luminaries at the DI?

  7. Charles Deetz ;)

    Interesting point, Ian. Unfortunately, its an end run by the creationists and the DI’s job is done. Kind of like engaging one front on a war, while another army wins the battle on a different front.

  8. I think the transitions widdle Casey seeks is this: Homo numbskullis, Homo prevaricus, Homo unibrowis, Homo gerbilis.

    Note that H. numb split into a separate D. institutis line: Homo sociopathis, Homo personanongratis, Homo moronis, Homo klinghofferisadoltis.

    Sub-humans all.

  9. Ceteris Paribus

    @Doc:

    onorseflysis,
    incombeesis,
    praiseklingofferscheesis?

  10. Ian, Luskin’s and the dishonesty institute’s work in Louisiana is done, the seeds have been sown, and now the people of Louisiana will reap the “rewards” of what they’ve sown, an incredibly bad diversion from real science and an illegal entanglement of religion in the process. The legislature listened, Jindal signed, and the people are screwed.