Bad news for Creationists: archeologists have discovered yet another transitional fossil

May 1, 2009 | By | 69 Replies More

Archeologists in Canada have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown species that shows features of both land- and water-dwelling mammals.  Though not a direct ancestor of modern seals, the fossil nevertheless gives clues to how today’s water-dwelling mammals evolved.

One begins to wonder how complete the fossil record needs to be before Creationists admit they’ve been wrong all along.  Something tells me no amount of completeness will ever satisfy them.

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Category: Evolution, Religion

About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (69)

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  1. Tony Coyle says:

    Bravo, Alison… Although you really need a [sarcasm] or [humor] tag so that Karl & his ilk don't misinterpret your comment

  2. Tony Coyle says:

    Karl – I think you are confused. atheists do not subscribe to any central dogma or interpretation of the same, so unlike the protestant christians, atheists have no need to schism into 30,000 individual sects.

    There is only ONE type of atheism, but MANY types of atheists holding that position. That's very unlike protestantism where there are many different positions, but very few types of christian holding those positions (literalist, non-literalist moderate, deist).

  3. Karl says:

    Erich says: "There are selfish, proudly ignorant, bigoted, lazy, arrogant and destructive atheists out there. I don’t deny that."

    From my understanding you are saying, you believe you are simply incapable of categorizing or labeling atheists into more general types of atheist that would match a collective number of other atheists.

    Even though I think you just delineated some types of atheists you specifically see as a categorization.

    I also don't deny there are selfish, proudly ignorant, bigoted, lazy, arrogant and destructive people from most religions out there as well – including Christianity.

    You just happen to think that turning more and more people into atheists and then giving them proper education and social engineering is going to create less and less selfish, proudly ignorant, bigoted, lazy, arrogant and destructive people.

    This is where I disagree, because many educated and uneducated people alike as I have observed don't really have substantive ways of avoiding their un-altruistic human nature. They can lie to themselves and rationalize any behavior they choose whether they categorize themselves one way or the other.

  4. Karl says:

    Quoth Tony:

    “If the average person is generally susceptible to such superstition, and the average rational person is not so susceptible, does that make the average rational person distinctly above average in terms of the general population (in ability to process information reliably), and that all those non-rational people are therefore generally below average?”

    Hank agrees, yes.

    Mark, and Erich however both state that the rationality arguement doesn't hold water.

    Without a clearer definition of the premises and rationality two people can have the same evidences and "reason" to different conclusion, both doing it logically and rationally in their minds.

    Also quoth Tony:

    The snark was clearly and simply that people who demonstrate demonstrably non-rational behaviors (religion, woo) are therefore less rational (on average) that people who do not demonstrate non-rational behaviors.

    Tony Also Quoth:

    The claim was not about atheists being smarter. Simply, on average, more rational. Absent the elephant in the room (belief in god is not a rational belief) there is no more I can offer you. My statements made no other claim on ‘the superiority of atheists’.

    Your claim is based upon your definition of rationality, and specifically its qualification concerning theism. How awkward that most lies are also called rationalizations.

    By your reasoning all I need to say is that from the perspective of theists, your perspective concerning your unbelief in God is less rational and therefore I would be able to say that the way you use reason to interpret evidence uses inferior rationality.

    By selecting the premises you want to use, nearly anything can eventually be found to have the meaning you want assigned to it.

    To deny the supernatural all one needs to do is disbelieve in its possibility.

    To create skepticism, all one needs to do is ask a question that is a logical fallacy – like "when did you stop beating you wife?"

    To establish interpreted evidence as supportive of a philosophical perspective all one needs to do is to build consensus among the experts who agree before hand what is or is not admissible for consideration knowing full well what verdict they are looking for is to begin with.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Karl: You are really way off base in so many ways.

      Skepticism is not a matter of asking a misleading question, such as "When did you beat your wife." A scientific (or empirical) skeptic "is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation."

      I know that it is yourmethod to deny thing by simply choosing to disbelieve their possibility. You've repeatedly shown us that in your mind hope trumps evidence. That is an terribly unreliable method of knowing, because it can take you anywhere.

      It really seems that you don't understand the importance of being self-critical. You seem incapable of questioning your cherished beliefs. There doesn't really seem much point in continuing dialogue with you for this reason. You do make such a tempting foil, though. A chance to let the world see that we aren't making things up here when we claim that people like you exist.

  5. grumpypilgrim says:

    Karl wrote, "You just happen to think that turning more and more people into atheists and then giving them proper education and social engineering is going to create less and less selfish, proudly ignorant, bigoted, lazy, arrogant and destructive people."

    Karl seems to enjoy setting up absurd strawman arguments. In fact, attempting to turn more people into atheists is not for the purpose of creating fewer selfish, proudly ignorant, bigoted, lazy, arrogant or destructive people: human nature is what it is. No, the point of turning more people into atheists is so that important issues can be addressed on a factual basis, not on the basis of whatever wishful thinking happens to appear in the pages of a particular leader's holy book.

  6. Karl says:

    I never said all atheists didn't have something in common.

    Go back and re-read what I wrote.

    I've been mischaracterized again, mainly because of the saracasm/humor.

    Tony states:

    "There is only ONE type of atheism, but MANY types of atheists holding that position."

    I agree. I only wanted a little clarification on what are the "thousands of ways" that individuals come to the conclusion rationally that God doesn't exist.

    Surely they don't all reach the same conclusion for the same reasons. If they do all arrive at the same conclusion from the same reasoning process, then they really are all the same and there really aren't any "types" at all.

    Saying atheism is composed of types of atheists is exactly what I stated, I just wanted to know what specific atheists thought concerning the specific types of atheists that obviously exist in societies.

    I'm not trying to divide and drive wedges between the commonalities of atheism. I want to encourage "rationality" so other people realize the different ways people come to the same conclusion.

  7. Karl writes:—"… because many educated and uneducated people alike as I have observed don’t really have substantive ways of avoiding their un-altruistic human nature."

    Very true. I have absolutely no quibble with that statement at all. And religious leaning makes NO DIFFERENCE. For many people like this, all "finding Jesus" does is give them an out for their fundamental lack of grasp—because, after all, you only need to ask forgiveness and everything'll be fine.

    And before you say "It doesn't work that way" let me say "I know that" but they don't. That's the message they glean. And if it's the wrong message, that's only a matter of interpretation, because it is certainly one message, and they take it and run with it.

    So let's set that aside. We really aren't talking about assholes, who will be assholes no matter what they believe. We're talking about the rest of us (yes, I'm being generous, but not unrealistically so, because it is likely that anyone interested enough to follow this blog and respond in this manner has a sense of community obligation and the requisite light of decency).

    I don't care about those assholes. They are the reason we have laws. Can't do anything about them, because they are so self-centered (while simultaneously being quite unselfconscious) that they will automatically turn any philosophy into justification for their moral laziness.

    I am concerned with the place we're building for those in the future which we all hope will be lesser assholes, indeed for those who will form the best of us. Building that future based on a concept of truth that doesn't require mythic jerrymandering to make sense of injustice or altruism, that doesn't rely on Providence but on responsibilities derived from the rational apprehension of consequence, would seem to me to be a Good Thing. Crediting or blaming a deity for either our successes or shortcomings is obfuscatory and distracting. In the final analysis, god or no god makes no difference to that fact that we have to do this thing, this living stuff, all on our own, and we're the ones who are responsible for making it viable.

    Categorizing people according to ideologies is not useful—categorizing ideologies is. If you cannot modify your beliefs to meet changes in circumstance or the realization of new evidence about the nature of reality, you hogtie yourself and potentially get in the way of solutions. I say "modify" not abandon. There are many believers in deities who function and contribute mightily to the enterprise at hand without resorting to insistence that it is their belief and only their belief that makes a difference. It may to them personally, but it wouldn't to me—unless said belief becomes an obstruction.

    So when some pompous ass stands up and says Katrina happened because we don't have school prayer, I want to take his microphone away and send him back to the principle's office. He's an asshole. The paradigm on which his (or her) statement is based is not Reality, but the assertion of ideology over evidence, fantasy over fact, and a little bit of self-aggrandizement over public utility (see, I know what the real cause of the disaster is, but no one listens to me!). It is a useless perspective.

    I stated in a post on religion that Religion cannot allow itself to be displaced by nonreligion because it doesn't recognize the legitimacy of anything other than religion—which is why secularism is continually being cast in the role of a religion, when it is not. This recasting makes it a war of sorts that pits accepted views against each other (religion vs religion) instead of what is really going on, which is the obsolescence of one worldview and emergence of another that has no real parallel to it. Instead of people choosing one god over another, people just walk away from the field. That's worse for religionists than a holy war they might lose.

    People, regardless of ideology, can be assholes. Conversely, people, REGARDLESS OF IDEOLOGY, can be decent, caring, moral agents. Which says to me that the ideology is less important than perhaps either side wishes to believe.

    While the majority of Christians today don't usually go around telling people who aren't christians that they're going to hell because they don't believe in Jesus, that is part of the philosophy. And in that regard, it is little better than racism—"Oh, you can't help being inferior because you're who you are, but I'm better because…" It is worse than offensive, it is crippling. And it's bullshit.

  8. Tony Coyle says:

    Mark – fabulous comment and excruciatingly clear.

  9. Mindy Carney says:

    Mark, this is a phenomenal post. Jumping on Tony's bandwagon and standing to applaud. I am going to quote you regularly from now on.

  10. *blushes appropriately, shuffles feet* Aw, you guys!

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