Category Archives: Intelligent Design

The Cambrian ‘Explosion’ Was Gradual

According to Wikipedia’s article on the so-called Cambrian explosion:

The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was an event approximately 541 million years ago in the Cambrian period when most major animal phyla appeared in the fossil record. It lasted for about 20–25 million years. It resulted in the divergence of most modern metazoan phyla. The event was accompanied by major diversification of other organisms.

But according to the Discoveroids, the Cambrian explosion was a magic moment when their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — came to Earth and whomped up a whole bunch of new species. So who’s right?

To help you make up your mind, some new research is reported at PhysOrg. Their headline is Major fossil study sheds new light on emergence of early animal life 540 million years ago. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

All the major groups of animals appear in the fossil record for the first time around 540-500 million years ago — an event known as the Cambrian Explosion — but new research from the University of Oxford in collaboration with the University of Lausanne suggests that for most animals this ‘explosion’ was in fact a more gradual process.

Egad — a gradual process? Then PhysOrg says:

The Cambrian Explosion produced the largest and most diverse grouping of animals the Earth has ever seen: the euarthropods. Euarthropoda contains the insects, crustaceans, spiders, trilobites, and a huge diversity of other animal forms alive and extinct. They comprise over 80 percent of all animal species on the planet and are key components of all of Earth’s ecosystems, making them the most important group since the dawn of animals over 500 million years ago.

A team based at Oxford University Museum of Natural History and the University of Lausanne carried out the most comprehensive analysis ever made of early fossil euarthropods from every different possible type of fossil preservation. In an article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences they show that, taken together, the total fossil record shows a gradual radiation of euarthropods during the early Cambrian, 540-500 million years ago.

Here’s the paper they’re talking about: Early fossil record of Euarthropoda and the Cambrian Explosion. Without a subscription, you can only see the abstract. PhysOrg tells us:

The new analysis presents a challenge to the two major competing hypotheses about early animal evolution. The first of these suggests a slow, gradual evolution of euarthropods starting 650-600 million years ago, which had been consistent with earlier molecular dating estimates of their origin. The other hypothesis claims the nearly instantaneous appearance of euarthropods 540 million years ago because of highly elevated rates of evolution.

The new research suggests a middle-ground between these two hypotheses, with the origin of euarthropods no earlier than 550 million years ago, corresponding with more recent molecular dating estimates, and with the subsequent diversification taking place over the next 40 million years.

Forty million years? We’d expect better from the intelligent designer. To make it even worse for the Discoveroids, they quote Professor Allison Daley, the lead author of the paper:

This indicates that the Cambrian Explosion, rather than being a sudden event, unfolded gradually over the ~40 million years of the lower to middle Cambrian.”

One last excerpt from PhysOrg:

Harriet Drage, a Ph.D. student at Oxford University Department of Zoology and one of the paper’s co-authors, says: “When it comes to understanding the early history of life the best source of evidence that we have is the fossil record, which is compelling and very complete around the early to middle Cambrian. It speaks volumes about the origin of euarthropods during an interval of time when fossil preservation was the best it has ever been.”

One question remains: How will the Discoveroids react to this? They can’t ignore it. It’ll be fun to see their reaction.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Louisiana’s 2018 Creationist Resolution — Dead?

Creationist bill, road kill

Your Curmudgeon was wrong. Two months ago we wrote More Creationist Madness in Louisiana, about a deranged resolution in the Louisiana Senate which provided:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Senate of the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby commend former Louisiana state Senator Bill Keith on his support and endorsement of teaching creationism in the public schools.

At the end of our post we said:

The 2018 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on 04 June, so there’s plenty of time for this thing to get passed. It’s difficult to imagine that it wouldn’t.

But now our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) are reporting this: Creationist resolution dies in Louisiana. Here’s one excerpt:

When the Louisiana state legislature adjourned sine die on May 18, 2018, Senate Resolution 33 (PDF), which would have commended a former state senator “on his support and endorsement of teaching creationism in public schools,” died.

That adjournment was earlier than we anticipated. We went to the legislature’s website, which says:

The 2018 Second Extraordinary Session will convene at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. Final Adjournment no later than Monday, June 4, 2018. The 2018 Regular Legislative Session convened on Monday, March 12, 2018. Final Adjournment on Friday, May 18, 2018.

Very strange. NCSE is correct in saying that the legislature adjourned on 18 May. However, they’ll be back tomorrow for another two weeks. Is it possible that the creationist resolution may yet get passed? Maybe it died with the regular session, and needs to get re-introduced. We have no idea what the rules are, but NCSE has good sources of information, so they’re probably right — it’s dead.

We don’t understand how the thing failed to pass. As we said in our earlier post:

Louisiana [is] a swirling vortex of voodoo and creationism. [I]n 2008 they were the first state (of only two) to enact — almost unanimously — a version of the Discovery Institute’s anti-science, anti-evolution, pro-creationism Academic Freedom Act (about which see the Curmudgeon’s Guide to “Academic Freedom” Laws). It became the infamous Louisiana Science Education Act (the LSEA). Since then, the legislature has rejected several attempts to repeal the LSEA.

This may be the first creationist measure in living memory that ever failed to pass in Louisiana. There will be lots of wailing at Discoveroid headquarters — and that’s a good thing.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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WorldNetDaily and the Octopus

Buffoon Award

The Drool-o-tron™ has been silent lately, but suddenly called to us with its sirens and flashing lights. The blinking letters of its wall display said WorldNetDaily (WND). As you know, WND was an early winner of the Curmudgeon’s Buffoon Award, thus the jolly logo displayed above this post.

The Drool-o-tron™ had locked our computer onto this headline at WND: Are octopuses from another planet? It was written by Joseph Farah, founder, CEO, and editor of WND. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections [that look like this]:

Have you ever looked at octopuses and wondered how such a complex creature unlike any other evolved? You’re not alone. Dyed-in-the-wool evolutionary scientists have the same problem. And when 33 of them got together to come up with a new peer-reviewed scientific study of the mystery, they determined octopuses could just be aliens from outer space.

This is the same thing we wrote about a week ago — see Is the Octopus an Alien Species? WND has had a lot of time to think about it, and now we have the result. Farah says:

That doesn’t mean the idea is being taken altogether seriously by the rest of the scientific community, yet, so far, there’s been no call to ex-communicate the 33 credentialed scholars from the academy. Apparently, that is a distinction reserved only for those who question the dogma of evolution as the only acceptable explanation for the diversity of life on Earth. However, the paper, published in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, has been scoffed at as hair-brained and unscientific – as one might expect.

Your Curmudgeon is one of those scoffers. Farah then spends several paragraphs gushing about the Cambrian explosion, about which he says:

[D]uring this period, virtually all animal kinds appeared simultaneously [Hee hee!] – and they resemble the animal kingdom we are familiar with today. There’s been diversification, of course, but not new animal life forms that cannot be explained through adaptation rather than what we think of as “macro-evolution” – one kind, or species, changing into another kind.

After that creationist clunker, he tells us:

So, this new study actually suggests a kind of wholesale invasion from outer space precipitated the “Cambrian explosion.” The paper, thus, asks whether this event, which saw the rapid emergence of most of the main animal groups that still exist on Earth today, was “terrestrial or cosmic.” Their conclusion is the latter.

Skipping a few paragraphs about the octopus, Farah continues:

Like creationists, the scientists don’t seem to have enough faith in evolution to allow that modern cephalopods could have evolved to their present form. So, the latter propose the possibility that octopuses are the descendants of creatures that arrived on Earth frozen in an icy comet.

Yeah, that explains panspermia — not enough faith in evolution. He ends with this:

Call it yet another “crisis of evolution.” I don’t know about you, but, just saying, I prefer to accept that God created the octopus, like all other life forms.

We don’t think it’s a crisis of evolution. It’s a crisis in peer review.

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #863: Who’s the Fool?

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Times Record News of Wichita Falls, Texas. The title is Believe in science and God, and the newspaper has a comments section.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. His first name is Wayne. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, some bold font for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections [that look like this]. Here we go!

Dear Austin Meek: I am a fool. According to your letter in the May 16 Times Record News, anyone who believes in an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, loving God must be a fool. I wear that badge with great honor.

We can’t find Austin Meek’s letter, but Wayne describes it well enough. He says:

Your letter was written in response to a letter by Jim Mills in Friday’s TRN. I do not always agree with Mr. Mills’ views but his basic idea Friday was that God created the universe and everything in it. The Bible supports this position because the very first words in Genesis are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.

Yup — that’s what it says! Wayne tells us:

Now I realize that it takes a great deal of faith to believe what is written in the Bible. Everyone must have faith in something.

That’s true — you gotta have faith! He continues:

Mr. Meek you appear to put your faith in science. I agree with you. [Huh?] Science is wonderful. It has given us cell phones, rapid transit, modern medicine, microwave popcorn and such. I like science, too – I’m a physicist and engineer myself. [Hee hee!] Perhaps you and I would have a lot to talk about. I think I would really like to meet you.

Maybe, or maybe not. Let’s read on:

I also have faith in science and physical things. When I turn the tap I have faith that water will come out of the faucet; when I flip a switch I have faith that a light will come on; and when I am in an airplane I have faith that the laws of aerodynamics will keep the plane aloft.

Wayne seems to confuse faith with justifiable confidence in verifiable observations. Another excerpt:

All these things pale however in comparison to my faith in God because God created the very science we are talking about here.

Ooooooooooooh! Here’s more:

Psalms 14:1 says: “The fool says in his heart there is no God”.

Verily, that’s what it says. Now Wayne issues a challenge:

From one fool to another let me ask you to do one thing: find a Bible and read John 3:16 and substitute your name, Austin, for the words “the world” and “whosoever”.

Your ever-helpful Curmudgeon provides the King James version of that bible passage so that you, dear reader, can take Wayne’s challenge for yourself:

For God so loved the world [or your name], that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever [or your name] believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Powerful, huh? And now we come to the end:

God loves you whether you know it or not.

Okay, dear reader, now it’s up to you: who’s the fool here? Is it Wayne, or the letter-writer he’s addressing?

Copyright © 2018. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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