Casey Luskin vs. Reality: The Thundering Climax

WE know you’ve been waiting for this. Almost two months ago we posted Casey Luskin vs. Reality: Who Will Win?

We haven’t had much to say about Casey’s challenge since then, but now we’ll make up for that. As you recall, Casey (everyone’s favorite creationist) had announced that he was taking on the entire edifice of evolutionary biology in what amounts to a steel cage death match. Presumably this effort has the full backing 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 promised a series of Discoveroid blog articles in which he would demolish all fifteen lines of evidence for evolution by natural selection provided by the journal Nature here: 15 EVOLUTIONARY GEMS. It’s a 17-page pdf file which is easily copied and excerpted, and Nature says: “We are happy to offer this resource freely and encourage its free dissemination.”

As we said at the time of Casey’s bold announcement:

This [Nature‘s 15 Gems] is more than a splendid collection displaying the wealth of evidence that supports the theory of evolution; it’s also a striking example of the kind of evidence that does not exist to support the ravings of creationists. All too often we fail to notice what isn’t there, but this is one of those occasions when we ought to pay attention.

Creationists carry on endlessly about why they don’t like evolution, but the mere existence of the “15 Gems” eloquently reveals that they have nothing even remotely comparable to support their own claims. Their grievances, denunciations, and lamentations are not scientific evidence.

Casey has been writing those promised blog articles. We assume that he’s been spectacularly successful up to now, because we’ve heard absolutely nothing about his work and you know what that means — a “Darwinist blackout” is the surest indicator of creationist success. Anyway, Casey has just posted the last article in his monumental series. We present to you, dear reader, some excerpts from : Evolutionary Biologists Are Unaware of Their Own Arguments: Reappraising Nature‘s Prized “Gem,” Tiktaalik.

We’re very impressed that Casey has saved Tiktaalik for last. As you know, most evolutionary biologists regard that fossil as the brightest jewel in evolution’s crown. See The Lessons of Tiktaalik, where we said “the story of Tiktaalik should be told every time you find yourself in a conversation with a creationist.”

Has Tiktaalik now been discredited? Judge for yourself, dear reader. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

The final “gem” from Nature‘s evolution-evangelism packet which remains to be assessed in this series deals with the origin of tetrapods, focusing on the alleged transitional form Tiktaalik roseae. The packet states: “The discovery and painstaking analysis of Tiktaalik illuminates the stage before tetrapods evolved.” That was printed in 2009. But how defensible is that statement in 2010?

The educated world trembles in anticipation. Let’s read on:

As I discussed in January 2010 at Tiktaalik Blown “Out of the Water” by Earlier Tetrapod Fossil Footprints, new evidence of tracks of full tetrapods before Tiktaalik refute claims that known specimens of Tiktaalik directly document, as the packet implies, “the stage before tetrapods evolved.”

We recall that article. At the time we regarded it as too goofy to bother with because several months before that Casey had tried to discredit Tiktaalik for a similar reason — an earlier and better-preserved specimen had been found. See Tiktaalik — a “Fraudulent” Transitional Fossil. At that time we said:

Observe what Casey is saying — if we find a really striking transitional fossil, and later we find one that is even more striking, then the later finding “proves” that our enthusiasm over the earlier fossil was — according to Casey — ignorance, retroactively exposed by the later find.

But it’s the later finding of a pre-Tiktaalik fish-to-land transitional fossil that has Casey really excited. Evolutionary biologists are excited too because now there’s even more evidence to support the evolutionary transition that their theory had predicted. But Casey is excited for a very different reason. He says:

Simply put, these tracks suggest that tetrapods predated Tiktaalik and thus Tiktaalik is not, as Nature put it elsewhere, a “direct transitional form” between fish and tetrapods.

Observe that phrase “direct transitional form.” Casey’s entire effort here hinges on the word “direct” — the alleged “Darwinist” claim that Tiktaalik is the one and only transitional ancestor of land-dwelling tetrapods. That’s the key to this very long article. Casey imagines that he’s truly accomplished something here. He raves on and on about how the “Darwinists” have been wrongly publicizing Tiktaalik. For example:

With rhetorical guns blazing, the NAS [National Academy of Science] made Tiktaalik‘s placement in the fossil record one of its central arguments for evolution. No wonder Time Magazine stated that Tiktaalik has become the Darwin lobby’s “Exhibit A in their long-running debate with creationists and other antievolutionists,” or that the New York Times quoted paleontologists saying Tiktaalik “‘might in time become as much an evolutionary icon as the proto-bird Archaeopteryx’ bridged the gap between reptiles (probably dinosaurs) and today’s birds.”

Then he writes at length about how (in his opinion) the newly-found pre-Tiktaalik transitional fossil destroys the credibility of the entire enterprise of evolutionary biology. Seriously, that’s what he says. For example:

They claimed this prediction [that led to finding Tiktaalik] was a great confirmation of evolutionary theory. But this prediction is now known to be false. Neo-Darwinism lost an important argument.

Read Casey’s whole essay if you like. We want you to satisfy yourself that we haven’t misrepresented his argument. And then be prepared for endless assertions in the future that the Discoveroid geniuses have thoroughly refuted all of Nature‘s 15 Gems.

They will never point out, however, that they have no “Creationist Gems” to offer. What they have instead is Casey. But then — he really is a gem, isn’t he?

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “Casey Luskin vs. Reality: The Thundering Climax

  1. What they have instead is Casey. But then — he really is a gem, isn’t he?
    24 carat cubic zirconium. Or maybe diamonique.

    these tracks suggest that tetrapods predated Tiktaalik and thus Tiktaalik is not, as Nature put it elsewhere, a “direct transitional form” between fish and tetrapods.

    Riiiiiight. Because I’m older than my wife, she can’t possibly be transitional between our (separate) grandparents and our kid.

  2. You know what just blow creationists minds?

    I have an aunt who is younger than I am. Obviously, I can’t exist then… according to them.

  3. I read the full article. Nowhere does he refute the premise that there is a transitional form between fish and tetrapods. He doesn’t try. He doesn’t even argue that Tiktaalik is not a transitional form. He only asserts, with great defensiveness on his part, that some evolutionary scientists had claimed that Tiktaalik was a direct transitional form, (the specific ancestor) and now there appears to be others, so therefore those scientists were wrong. Gotcha!

    I used to think the IDiots argued that transitional fossils did not exist. Apparently Luskin, at least, has given up that position.

    I would have to re-read the article, but I don’t think he ever actually said that Tiktaalik’s existance was not evidence of evolution. He certainly didn’t offer an ID counter-argument.

  4. Here’s the coffee-spewing money quote from the DI’s attack gerbil Luskin.

    The reality is that just like me, evolutionary biologists understand evolutionary theory perfectly well.

    Yeah, just like you who spent the previous 4,000 words mangling and misunderstanding every aspect of evolutionary theory.

    What I really liked about Luskins stirling article was that all of the positive science quotes were from scientists, like Shubin, who actually know a thing or two about Tiktaalik, and the two dissenting views both came from creationist organizations. Too rich, that!!!

  5. We’ve heard this one before, Casey:

    “If Man tetrapods evolved from monkeys Tiktaaliks , why are there still monkeys Tiktaaliks?