We noticed a recent article at PhysOrg and thought it was interesting, but not worth blogging about. Little did we know. The PhysOrg article is How vision may have driven fishes onto land. A few excerpts should be sufficient:
About 375 million years ago, certain fishes had developed powerfully strong paired fins that were capable of transporting them out of the water and onto land. These fishes would eventually evolve into the first truly terrestrial animals, called tetrapods. They had four limbs bearing digits – fingers and toes – to help them when they walked around around on land.
But one of the biggest mysteries for scientists is figuring out what could have driven such fishes out of the water and onto land in the first place. Was it availability of new food sources, or perhaps their need to escape from predators in the water?
A new theory says it was improved vision, as shown by dramatic increases in eye size and visual acuity, that enabled fishes peeping upwards at the waterline to spot prey on land. This would have motivated them to venture out of the water to hunt for food.
That’s enough. You can read it all if you like. Now then, what we failed to appreciate is what a dedicated creationist could do with that. Take a look at Klinghoffer’s latest post at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog: Vertebrates to Land Is an Evolutionary Transition Dripping with Teleology . Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Darwinian evolution is supposed to have done away with the need for purpose or will in driving the history of life. The words of Darwinists themselves tend to refute that idea. That’s especially the case when they don’t have the defense of highly technical language to obscure what’s going on. As an illustration, see how researchers describe their idea about how vertebrates made the transition from sea to land some 385 million years ago.
Do you sense where this is going? Creatures like Tiktaalik, rather than being an embarrassment to creationists, are now going to be illustrations of divine will. Klinghoffer says:
Getting to solid ground, according to previous thinking, was driven by the evolution of limbs. These scientists, however, say it was all in the eyes. Large eyes are unhelpful in water, but a necessity on land. So to make the launch to dry earth, sea creatures “evolved” [note the scare quotes] larger eyes. They explain in an article for Science Daily, “Vision, not limbs, led fish onto land 385 million years ago.” “Led“? Note the language suggestive of teleology, purpose, forethought … .
After some quote-mining to highlight the allegedly teleological action, Klinghoffer tells us:
The article concludes: “Rather than limbs, it was eyes that brought our ancestors to land.” Obviously, in ordinary English “bringing” things, “leading” them, implies purposeful action.
Yes — oh yes! — the intelligent designer — blessed be he! — brought our ancestors onto the land! Klinghoffer sums it all up in his final paragraph:
Certainly, “buena vista” [good vision] is a prerequisite to life on land. It seems to have been “selected” for [scare quotes again], however, prior to there being much need for it. That kind of looking ahead to future needs is a hallmark not of blind Darwinian shuffling but, of course, of intelligent design.
[*Groan*] It also illustrates how natural selection takes advantage of fortuitous mutations, but in Klinghoffer’s universe, that never happens. So there you are.
The Discoveroids’ original reaction to Tiktaalik was to deny its existence — see Discovery Institute: Tiktaalik — a “Fraudulent” Transitional Fossil. But when additional specimens were found, they just clammed up. Now, however, they’ve figured out a way to convert it to their purposes.
As we’ve said before, intelligent design is delightfully compatible with anything and everything we may ever discover. Verily, it is the harlot of theories, and the Discoveroids are its promoters.
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