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Friday, March 25, 2011

The Myth of Horse Evolution


I've been meaning to do a series of posts lately based on a book I started to crack open by James Montgomery Boice entitled Genesis Volume I, Creation and Fall, An Expositionary Commentary and given the interest the bacteria flagellum thread has generated, I just thought I'd throw this out there for discussion. On page 45, Boice writes...

"[A] major problem with the use of fossils to support evolution is the subjective nature of arranging fossil histories. It might be argued...that there is nevertheless evidence for development within one of the ancient time periods, even if not from one to the other. The supposed development of the horse from the Eocene period to modern times is an oft-cited example. During 60 million years or so the horse is supposed to have increased in size, lengthened its limbs, reduced and then eventually discarded toes and became a grazer. Many museums have skeletons or pictures that are supposed to represent this development. But the fossils do not prove this development. They may suggest it, and the development they suggest may in fact be right. But there is still no evidence that one supposed form of the horse gave place to another. In actuality the skeletons may have come from similar but otherwise unrelated animals. Moreover, even if the fossils of these horselike animals prove a development, it is still not an example of the development of a new species but only of a change within a species."

So what is your take on all of this? I agree with Boice in that a case could be made of change over time but at this point, we just don't know yet and cannot argue as if this example of evolutionary change is a cold, hard FACT.

14 comments:

GentleSkeptic said...

I just have to ask: before posting, did you even think to Google "evolution of horses"?

And you do know that even without a single fossil, there is still a mountain of evidence for the modern synthesis iteration of the ToE?

JD Curtis said...

Wouldnt you know it? As soon as I post this topic, theres a story about this horse on Drudge. Link

Check it out.

GentleSkeptic said...

OK: That. Is. Adorable.

Jquip said...

Nonono. That's it, I'm laying of the LSD.

Justin Vacula said...

With or without fossils, evolution is profoundly supported by genetics and speciation among other things.

Yes, and how about going on google and looking for information from scientists?

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/horses/horse_evol.html

JD Curtis said...

Check out Figure 5 from this link and explain to me how it is different than the horse evolutionary chain that you cite.

GentleSkeptic said...

Heh… I love that JD's link goes to "Creation Ministries International." Ministries. Not Laboratories, or Scientists, or Researchers… Ministries. But it's not religion, really.

JD Curtis said...

So what? If it were a point so easy to desconstruct, then why hasn't JV done so already?

Look, we can all interpret the same information in different ways. Is it any wonder that what passes for science these days was once referred to as natural philosophy? One's worldview can definately affect how data is perceived.

GentleSkeptic said...

Here is a portion of the caption of Illustration 5 in question:

Even animals alive today can be arranged into a hypothetical evolutionary series, since variations in the skeleton within one group of animals often overlap with the variation in other groups within the same family. This does not prove, however, that any individual animal has evolved into another.

This summary belies a basic misunderstanding of the ToE. For one thing, no "individual animal" evolves into another. For another, it's not assumed that any arbitrary "hypothetical evolutionary series" is as valid as any other, or that the dik-dik evolved into the gazelle, which evolved into the bushbuck, which evolved into the gnu, which evolved into the eland, in a neat and tidy sequence. The assumption is COMMON ANCESTRY, which is to say that all of these creatures represent (current) tips of "branches" on the tree of life.

How that branching occurred is always a provisional understanding reconstructed to the best of our ability based on the evidence. The split between any two of those species may be farther back than previously thought, but that doesn't kill the principle behind the theory. Real scientists work hard to sort that shit out and advance our understanding. Of course, if creationist observers insist on limiting their evidence to fossils-only, it kind of looks like they have a case to make. Kind of. You'll notice, however, that Creation Ministries International makes no mention of DNA evidence, which weakens their case considerably.

And guess what? Professional opinions differ. Even among creationists. ("Creationists have various opinions on whether the horse series is in fact made up of different created kinds.") All the Creation Ministries International folks seem to agree on is that the ToE MUST be false, and horse evolution must be a "myth." Otherwise, the Bible is wrong, and we certainly can't have that. Which is why ID is religion, and not science.

Yes: we can all interpret the same information in different ways. And some of those ways are wrong.

Justin Vacula said...

One's worldview can certainly affect how data is perceived, but not all worldviews are "equal" and not all will provide reliable mechanisms to arrive at truth. A white supremacist, for example, will see blacks as an inferior race while a secular humanist will believe that race does not make people inferior. Regardless of how we interpret the data or who interprets it, truth is external to the perceiver. I cover this and more here. I'm not going to post a tremendous amount of text here, so I'll instead link: http://www.justinvacula.com/2010/11/truth-about-truth.html

JD Curtis said...

A white supremacist, for example, will see blacks as an inferior race while a secular humanist will believe that race does not make people inferior

If one defines secular humanism as "the doctrine emphasizing a person's capacity for self-realization through reason; rejects religion and the supernatural" I don't see how that insulates someone from subsribing to 'bad reasoning' and thus they could not(by definition of the term) possibly exhibit racism.

In fact, if you google [secular humanist racist] one of the first things that pops up is secular humanist Dr. James Watson stating...

"he's "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really." He went on to say in the profile that it would be nice if all groups were equal, but that "people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true."

Link

JD Curtis said...

The assumption is COMMON ANCESTRY, which is to say that all of these creatures represent (current) tips of "branches" on the tree of life

And as I quoted above..

"the fossils do not prove this development. They may suggest it, and the development they suggest may in fact be right. But there is still no evidence that one supposed form of the horse gave place to another. In actuality the skeletons may have come from similar but otherwise unrelated animals. Moreover, even if the fossils of these horselike animals prove a development, it is still not an example of the development of a new species but only of a change within a species."

ID is religion, and not science

And when agnostic and Muslim scientists agree with Intelligent Design, then what?

If it is religion, then what are it's worship services like? What is it's way of salvation? Who is the equivilent of the pope? Etc.

Theological Discourse said...


ID is religion, and not science

another sheep parroting something he does not understand. Please GS, enlighten us all on exactly what the definition of science is.

GentleSkeptic said...

You're really not worth arguing with anymore, JD.

Believe what you want.