A month ago we wrote Another Creationist Dream Headline, about what may have been a debunking of what was thought to be a transitional fossil, named Tetrapodophis, showing the origin of snakes from lizard-like precursors. A team of researchers led by Michael W. Caldwell (University of Alberta) re-examined the only known fossil of Tetrapodophis, and expressed doubt that it was a transitional creature.
We’ve been waiting for the creationist reaction, and now we have it, in the form of a long article at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title is Four-Legged Snake Fails as a Transitional Form, and Perhaps Even as a Snake. It was written by Elizabeth Mitchell, a creationist gynecologist. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Last year scientists reported discovery of a fossilized four-legged snake — the first ever found.
Yes, and when the discovery of Tetrapodophis amplectus was reported, we wrote How Did the Snake Lose Its Legs? Creationists, however, were dubious. But now that the transitional nature of the fossil has been questioned, they’re all excited. The creationist gynecologist says:
Hailed as a transitional form between modern snakes and their supposed terrestrial lizard ancestors, Tetrapodophis amplectus is now the subject of heated controversy.
[Despite the Caldwell team’s doubts,] David Martill and the other scientists who originally reported that Tetrapodophis is a snake stand by their study. Martill maintains, “In virtually every single respect [it] looks like a snake, except for one little detail — it has arms and legs.” … And after the fossil’s mysterious disappearance from a German museum, paleontologists everywhere were in an uproar because there was no way for them to repeatedly analyze the specimen to test their conclusions.
Well! This is quite a situation. The disputed fossil is missing. It’s a golden moment for creationists, and the creationist gynecologist takes full advantage of it. She tells us:
Evolutionary scientists are ever on the hunt for transitional forms. Transitional, or intermediate, forms are animals having unusual characteristics that make them appear — to those with an evolutionary worldview — to be intermediates between different kinds of animals.
Just to be clear, despite claims that intermediate forms represent transitions between one kind of animal and a more complex kind of animal, evolutionists have never actually found any fossil that can be demonstrated to be an evolutionary intermediate. Such evolutionary transitions-in-action are not observable in fossils or in living animals, no matter what odd collection of characteristics they have. They are just animals with interesting traits.
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! So called transitionals are “just animals with interesting traits.” But she’s thrilled that this particular fossil is no longer available, and says:
The scientific method requires scientists be able to repeat their tests and observations. Is Tetrapodophis a snake or not? The discrepancies between the observations made by the two teams of scientists are substantial. We will not know whether this animal was an unusual snake or a lizard until these differences have been resolved. For a scientific observation to be observable, testable, and repeatable, it must be possible for scientists to replicate the measurements and anatomical observations made by others.
That’s true, and it’s been done with other transitional fossils, but that doesn’t matter. This one is missing, so it can’t be re-studied. Then she goes far beyond repeatable studies and declares:
Nevertheless, even with the fossil in hand, some of the assertions concerning it cannot be tested or observed. “Origins science” is not observational science. The supposed evolutionary rise of snakes can never be replicated, tested, or observed. What these scientists do not acknowledge is that they themselves cling to many unobservable, untestable scientific beliefs concerning this fossil and many others. For instance, how do scientists know Tetrapodophis is really 110 million years old? How do they know that legless snake fossils Michael Caldwell discovered in early 2015 are 143–167 million years old? They do not. Those ages are based upon a series of unverifiable assumptions affecting the interpretation of radiometric dating methods.
Gasp! Those scientists are lying to us! It gets better:
Can the origin of the snake be repeated for scientists to observe? No! Evolutionary transitions from one kind of animal to another have never been observed. The origin of the snake has already happened. Fossils can be described, the anatomy of snakes and lizards can be compared, and the genomes of living animals can be scrutinized and subjected to tests determining the functions of the genes that govern their embryonic development in the present. But the origin of snakes cannot be repeated, observed, or subjected to scientific tests. … The idea that the four-legged snake represents an evolutionary transition, an intermediate form, is not a scientific fact. It is a worldview-based assumption rooted in the unbiblical presupposition that all living things have an evolutionary origin.
After babbling for a while she gets biblical:
God cursed the serpent to move on its belly (Genesis 3:14) after Adam and Eve sinned. Many Bible-believing scholars believe this portion of Scripture indicates that God made a dramatic change in the snake’s body plan after man’s Fall into sin. This was, at the least, a permanent visual reminder of the serpent’s role in Satan’s deception of Eve, the prelude to the first couple’s rebellion against God and the subsequent punishment for sin that fell upon all mankind. If so, did God switch off certain genes to bring about this change? Did He use a mutation?
Great question! Did God use a mutation? The creationist gynecologist discusses that:
Mutations are generally random genetic changes. Mutations do not create new genetic information of the type required for the evolution of more complex kinds of animals. [Hee hee!] Mutations do, however, sometimes result in a loss of genetic information. … [T]he legless snakes we see today may have given us a peek into genetic events through which God may have implemented the Curse He spoke upon the serpent in Genesis 3:14, though we cannot be dogmatic about this.
Brilliant! And now we come to the end:
As we ponder the significance of the mysterious four-legged whatever-it-is as well as the recent discoveries about the genetic underpinning of the snake’s lack of legs, we should remember that nothing about these discoveries demonstrates an evolutionary origin for snakes. They are, however, completely consistent with what we learn from the Word of God, the Creator of all, and the only eyewitness to our origins.
Creationism wins again! Aren’t you glad?
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