Thinking About Evolution...and Progressive Creation

@John_Harshman, a secular biologist, took up our invitation to dialogue with RTB, and he responds to their thoughts on the fossil record.

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  1. I’m not responding just to the Cambrian explosion, but to everything they say about the fossil record and, in fact, to everything (which is very little) they say about common descent.

  2. None of the graphics were working when I went there.

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And just what is the progressive creation model and what are its predictions? As mentioned earlier, the book never actually says. At the conclusion of this chapter, we get “The sudden proliferations of new life forms seem to be more in keeping with the events described in progressive creation models, both in the details provided and in the order in which they are presented.” This is supported by a reference to a web article, Biology’s Big Bangs by Fazala Rana, which merely repeats the same claim at slightly greater length. It contains a link that promises details on the creation model, but that link leads only to “Error 404”. So we are left with a nonexistent model that we are assured is supported by fossil evidence, with no mention that other evidence must also be confronted.

Have faith. Future creationists will make sense of it all. The nested hierarchy, the definition of kinds, progressive creation “models”, why someone even would “progressively create” organisms at million-year intervals following giant extinction events(almost as if adaptive radiation and diversification follows the opening of ecological niches) etc.

ˉ\ˍ(ツ)ˍ/ˉ

Progressive creation is one giant cope with the evidence for evolution.

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You apparently do not understand the profound theological, and subtle and sophisticated biological, implications of “Error 404”. You have seen it many times, yet you continue to misunderstand it.

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@John_Harshman we will get that fixed today. Sorry!

@Joe_Felsenstein and @John_Harshman , hope that fixes things.

Works fine now. But the “Error 404” was a bit of humor occasioned by a reference in the article; nothing to do with the file itself.

It’s all well and good when creationists assert that the Cambrian establish the bodyplans of almost all modern phyla, but all one has to do is to look at fossils of Cambrian life to see that they’re all radically different from extant organisms. Somehow evolution is false, though all arthropods share common descent from some original kind created >500 million years ago?

Just take a look at arthropod diversity from this image on wikipedia:

The “arthropod kind” all evolved from a common ancestor supernaturally created in the Cambrian? That’s a lot of evolution.

Naturally creationists will want to respond by subdividing arthropods into more kind categories, but then when do each of these subdivisions first get created? Do we find butterflies and centipedes in the Cambrian? Nope.

Whence crustaceans, and do all crustaceans share common descent and evolved from a common ancestor? So we get copepods(animal plankton so small they’re invisible to the naked eye) and japanese spider crabs, which can be up to 3 meters wide, share common ancestry? So now we break up crustaceans in more kinds too, right? And when do these each first appear in the fossil record?

It’s ridiculous. It’s all utterly ridiculous.

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To be fair, RTB are progressive creationists and would be happy to agree that various “kinds” appear at different times. But of course if there are lots of arthropod kinds, then what is the Cambrian explosion supposed to be? And if there are kinds, what are they and how do you recognize them? Nothing on this so far.

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At least Cambrian arthropods had legs, unlike Cambrian chordates.

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Well, a few of them had teeth (e.g. Hindeodus) and a few had scales made of dermal bone (e.g. Anatolepis). So that’s something. Still, no internal bones, which you probably need to have legs.

The great thing about BARAMINs (“kinds”) is that they can be as big or small as needed at any given moment. Indeed, I’ve had YEC friends tell me—and I’ve heard Ray Comfort specifically belabor this point—that ALL of the world’s bacteria constitute a single “kind”. (That is why, allegedly, no laboratory demonstration of evolutionary processes involving bacteria ever supports the Theory of Evolution: “That’s still not an example of evolution. It’s just another bacteria.”)

Ken Ham often says that a baramin (“kind”) is roughly equivalent to the “family” level of taxonomy----and yet the exceptions in even his own literature and speeches are countless. Apparently, in actual practice, a baramin/kind can be as large as an entire kingdom. (e.g., the Monera Kind.)

British naval historian Cyril Parkinson is still remembered for Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Perhaps we need to codify Ham’s Law: “A baramin/kind expands so as to dismiss all available evidence of so-called macro-evolution. But, yeah, sometimes it shrinks. It is a very flexible and useful term.”

Yeah. But it can be kind of fun to watch—if I don’t let my frustrations get the better of me.

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Oddly, the goal of dialogue with RTB seems not to have been achieved. Or perhaps not so oddly.

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Baramins are the stuffed bra of creationism. The only reason for their existence is to give the impression that they have scientific answers to tough questions.

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It’s really a shame that there has been exactly zero response to this review. So much for dialogue.

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Yes, but I can’t say it’s unexpected. What are they to say? I cannot imagine that they actually think their position makes a lick of sense – they probably are just hoping to fool a few people. In that situation, the very last thing they should do is try to engage with criticisms – all it does, as we see here time and again, is cause creationism to look even worse.

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I have not yet sent it out to the listserve yet. That’s happening today.

Also, they are going to be slow getting back to you. From what I can tell, many of your points are valid. A response will not be easy.

Complicating this, the author of this chapter suddenly passed away. So any response will have to be carefully thought through on their end, so as not to disrespect her.

We can have some discussion here, but as far as an official response from RTB, my guess would be in the 6 months time frame. At the same time, this puts you on their map in a good way. You might be invited into conversations in private with them about this beforehand.

Also relevant, key leaders at RTB recognize they need to develop a clear error correction policy. I’m encouraged that they do seem to be genuinely motivated to act in good faith in this way, and are looking closely at @sfmatheson 's error correction policy adopted by PS. If it is in fact true you identified some errors, that policy might need to be in place before you get a complete response.

So sit tight and give this some time to brew.

Strong praise indeed. But surely a response of “Oh, we were wrong” would be easy enough, if less than palatable.

Are you saying that you are not qualified to judge or that you haven’t tried to judge?

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Just be patient on this one. Let’s see what they do with it. I just explained several factors that justify a long time frame. Give them a chance to respond.

But it’s already been a long time frame, hasn’t it? I wrote all this back in April, and I thought you had shown it to them for prepublication feedback. Not so?

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