We recently wrote Dembski and Wells Demolish Darwin — Maybe. Two Discovery Institute geniuses, William Dembski and Jonathan Wells, were promoting their book, which we wrote about in Two New Discovery Institute Books.
Now the same two are doing it again. Their new post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog is Why Fossils Cannot Demonstrate Darwinian Evolution. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
The transition from reptiles into mammals via mammal-like reptiles is regarded by many evolutionary theorists as the best example of an evolutionary lineage in the fossil record. There are, however, three fundamental problems with this and all other examples of inferring Darwinian evolution on the basis of fossil evidence.
[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Three fundamental problems! This is big news, dear reader. What are those problems? They say:
The first is that any specific hypothesis must use the fossil data selectively; the second is that similarities in fossil or living organisms may not be due to common ancestry; and the third is that fossils cannot, in principle, establish biological relationships.
Wow — we’re in big trouble now! The rest of their post elaborates on those three problems. It’s too mind-wrenching to dig in too deeply, so we’ll just give you the highlights. Regarding the first fundamental problem — that we are using the fossil evidence selectively, they claim:
As in the case of therapsids, fossils more mammal-like can occur earlier in the fossil record than fossils that are less mammal-like. Yet to trace an evolutionary lineage on the basis of the fossil record requires that therapsids structurally more similar to mammals enter the history of life later than those that are structurally less similar. Evolution, after all, needs to follow time’s arrow and cannot have offspring giving birth to parents.
[*Groan*] Different lines of species can exist at the same time, even though one line evolved from the other. Evolution does not require that every example of ancestral stock must become extinct whenever some new species arises. The Discoveroids have more to say about this:
A similar problem arises with geographical mismatches, in which fossil organisms that are supposedly next to each other in a structural progression are widely separated geographically. If the geographical separation is too great, how can one organism be ancestral to the other? Reproduction, after all, requires proximity — parents do not give birth to offspring at the other side of the globe.
[*Groan*] Offspring can migrate, and over a number of generations, their descendants can live far from their ancestral roots. Oh wait — the Discoveroids are prepared for that rebuttal:
The problem of temporal and geographical mismatches is widespread. The Darwinist’s way around this problem is to assume that organisms that appear to enter the fossil record too late or too far away actually entered earlier or closer together. But such assumptions are entirely ad hoc and ignore the actual fossil evidence.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s an ad hoc assumption, but unevidenced intervention by a transcendental intelligent designer isn’t. They have several more paragraphs on this first “fundamental problem,” but let’s move on to the next one — that similarity may not be due to common ancestry:
In evolutionary theory, convergence refers to the origination of identical or highly similar structures through independent evolutionary pathways rather than inheritance from a common ancestor. Darwinian theory attributes convergence to similar environments that apply similar selection pressures and thereby produce similar structures.
This explanation is on its face implausible because there is no reason to think that Darwin’s opportunistic mechanism has the fine discrimination to produce virtually identical complex structures in causally disconnected environments. Yet organisms possess many similar features not thought to arise from a common ancestor.
[*Groan*] Wikipedia has an article on Convergent evolution. They say: “The recurrent evolution of flight is a classic example of convergent evolution. Flying insects, birds, and bats have all evolved the capacity of flight independently. They have ‘converged’ on this useful trait.” It’s a problem only in the minds of creationists. Dembski and Wells declare:
If similar structures can evolve and re-evolve repeatedly, then fossils cannot distinguish convergence from common ancestry, and tracing evolutionary lineages in the fossil record becomes impossible.
Yeah, impossible. Now let’s skip some blather until we get to their third point — that fossils cannot, in principle, establish biological relationships. We’re told:
Imagine finding two human skeletons in the same location, one apparently about thirty years older than the other. Was the older individual the parent of the younger? Simply by looking at the skeletons, one can’t say. Without independent evidence (e.g., genealogical, dental, or molecular), it is impossible to answer the question. Yet in this case we’re dealing with two skeletons from the same species that are only a generation apart. It follows that even if we had a fossil representing every generation and every imaginable intermediate between, say, reptiles and mammals — if there were no missing links whatsoever — it would still be impossible, in principle, to establish ancestor-descendant relationships.
Neat, huh? Darwinists have no evidence at all! Then they quote somebody who purportedly said:
To take a line of fossils and claim that they represent a lineage is not a scientific hypothesis that can be tested, but an assertion that carries the same validity as a bedtime story — amusing, perhaps even instructive, but not scientific.
Hey — that’s right! After all, were you there? The Discoveroids conclude with this:
In short, fossils cannot demonstrate Darwinian evolution.
That means the only valid, rock-solid theory that explains life on earth is Oogity Boogity! The logic is undeniable.
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