On the difference between skeletal remains and living organisms

I was in a debate recently where this fossil find was advanced as evidence of how the human ear evolved by Darwinian processes. Apparently we are fortunate that some ancient reptiles had bones of a certain structure, otherwise we might not be able to hear the way that we do and so on. I wonder if some paleontologists really understand all that goes into hearing given their extrapolations from skeletal remains. Fortunately the article does mention at least a little critical thinking at one point:

…”the paper has perhaps drawn a few more conclusions than they should have” about how the fossil ear would have functioned in the living species….

After all, the things that paleontologists imagine about soft anatomy and transitions based on skeletal remains have been proven to be incorrect on the rare occasions in which living fossils have been found, so they may be incorrect to imagine that this fossil find represents a transition as well. It’s also important to note that organisms are not being studied as they are naturally stripped of the majority of their complexity in the process of fossilization. It is easier to arrange skeletons in a sequence than it is to arrange actual organisms. It is also easier when the environment itself is arranged in a sequence from aquatic to semi-aquatic to land but actual evidence of transitions remains largely imaginary or skeletal. Skeletons lack the majority of the complexity typical to organisms and yet all species, specification and biological complexity is said to be “explained” based mainly on imaginary (“I can imagine things.”) or skeletal evidence (“Look at this skeleton and imagine things about the past with me. Given my way of imagining things this is just what I expected.”).

Darwinists have sometimes also focused on embryos in order to better help the process of imagining things about the past, as the article mentions here:

“We can trace this developmental process in developing mammalian embryos,” said Luo. “In the early embryonic stage of modern mammals, the middle ear was still attached to the jaw. Later, the middle ear becomes separated from the jaw, and … starts the adult function [of hearing].”

But I might point out that I can imagine that the biological brain events which cause people to think that the early embryonic stage of modern mammals has anything to do with what happened millions of years ago are themselves a recapitulation of the form of ancient worm-like creatures. As far as supporting evidence it seems that all one has to do is point out vague similarities in form so perhaps they could be shown a picture of their own embryonic state with a few notes on how they look a little bit like worms.

When people get so “overwhelmed” that they begin imagining it reasonable to claim that because embryos seem reptilian one ought to imagine an evolutionary transition millions of years ago it is likely that they’ve overwhelmed their mind with their imagination. One might as well imagine a uterus to be “evidence” of the origins of life in a primeval ocean. It seems that the Darwinian urge to merge back into the womb of Mother Nature leads toward a hysterical conception of the world.

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14 Responses

  1. With all of this in mind, shouldn’t Darwinist’s be recruiting mere children for their hypothesizing, since they have immense imaginations that are never restricted by reason?

  2. The first grade teacher:

    “OK, boys and girls! Today we’re going to draw a picture book! Yay! But this will be a little bit different kind of a book because some of the pictures are already drawn for us. It will be our job to fill in the blanks!”

    “Ok, now open your workbooks! There are 100 pages in all. You’ll notice, pages 1 through 45 are blank! But on page 46, there’s a nice picture of a frog! Ok, now skip the blank pages until you get to page 67 where you’ll find a picture of a rat. Yuck! Ok, keep skipping more blank pages until you get to page 89. In the middle of that page I want you to draw a picture of yourself! You’ll notice no more pictures filled in, but there are still 11 more blank pages after page 89.

    “Now here’s the assignment: On the blank pages, starting from the beginning, I want you to draw whatever pictures come into your mind that show nothing turning into the froggy, then the froggy turning into the rat, and then the rat turning into you! On the last 11 pages, I want you to draw what you think you might turn into! Have fun! And oh yeah, make sure you leave the first page blank! We all know that only nothing can turn into something!”

  3. When people get so “overwhelmed” that they begin imagining it reasonable to claim that because embryos seem reptilian one ought to imagine an evolutionary transition millions of years ago it is likely that they’ve overwhelmed their mind with their imagination. One might as well imagine a uterus to be “evidence” of the origins of life in a primeval ocean. It seems that the Darwinian urge to merge back into the womb of Mother Nature leads toward a hysterical conception of the world.

    In graduate school, I was reading a series of articles on subliminal influences on behavior. In one series of articles, the phrase, “Mommy and I are one,” was subliminally displayed to schizophrenic patients. They found that this reduced symptoms and improved behavior in these patients. Interestingly, this phrase did not work, “Mommy and I are two.” So, perhaps you are being sarcastic there, but there may be more truth to what you are saying than people think. I don’t think it’s random that the phrase “mother nature,” came into being. It can represent an aspect of psychology of the people (person) who came up with the phrase and identify with it. I think this also applies to country identification (such as “Mother Russia” vs. “Uncle Sam”).

  4. So, perhaps you are being sarcastic there…

    Unfortunately when it comes to certain mental patterns it is almost impossible to make a satire out of them or to make a sarcastic comment about them. Karl Kraus mentioned this about some of the pseudo-science of his day. Most of what he wrote about the impact of psychology on responsibility, rationality and traditional theism could apply equally to the impact of Darwinism on the same:

    Modern psychologists have greatly enlarged the frontiers of irresponsibility: they needed more space in this territory.
    ____

    Psychology is the most powerful religion: it turns doubt into bliss. As weakness engenders not humility but arrogance, this new doctrine enjoys great earthly success and lords over all other creeds and cults.

    The new science of mad-doctoring has dared to invade the mystery of genius. ….I will stand watch and personally consign these manufacturers of madness-whose cry, ‘Anything to treat?’ is now heard all over the land-into oblivion. Their teaching enlarges irresponsibility and thus diminishes the personality.
    __

    If mankind, with all its repulsive faults, is an organism, then the psychoanalyst is its excrement. Psychoanalysis is an occupation in whose very name “psyche” and “anus” are united. Its practitioners are divided into separate sects, each with its own Journal, each representing its own distinctive, and yet typically psychoanalytic, doctrine of destroying God, disgracing Nature, and demeaning Art.
    __

    Despite its deceptive terminology, psychoanalysis is not a science but a religion-the faith of a generation incapable of any other.
    cf.
    (Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’s Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry, by Thomas Szasz)

  5. With all of this in mind, shouldn’t Darwinist’s be recruiting mere children for their hypothesizing, since they have immense imaginations that are never restricted by reason?

    Unfortunately in a way they already do recruit children. Note the reaction to Johnathan Wells when he tried to take on Haeckel’s embryos. Darwinism often proceeds based on blurred imagery that is generally false and has little to do with the empirical evidence, depictions of apes-like creatures evolving into humans typically make use of imagery of this sort. In contrast, the Christian religion is based on the Word which lets language speak for itself. It seems to me that this is part of the difference between indoctrination and education. Indoctrination tends towards imagery, emotional conditioning or propaganda which achieves an “overwhelming” effect while education tends toward literacy, rational argumentation and in the end a person is left with a mind which is capable of critical thinking.

  6. Unfortunately in a way they already do recruit children.

    Yeah, they call it “public school education”.

  7. …there may be more truth to what you are saying than people think.

    Not at all, that article was all just scientific facts that have nothing to do with the urge to merge! 😉 I was surprised that they mentioned embryos. Note that people generally do not understand the natural processes or laws that are forming an embryo. There are theories and so on but generally it is not well understood. These are things that they can see “evolving”/unfolding empirically and sit there and watch forming and transforming right before their eyes. Yet they use embryos to argue that they have a general understanding of how every single embryo, organism and life form came to its current specification and species. They argue that an imaginary sort of formation happens in millions of years even as the formation of millions of life forms goes on at the moment. It seems to me that they should spend less time imagining things about the past and more time studying how life unfolds now without trying to mix empirical observations with imaginary events in the past. (Note the old gill-slit canard, apparently human embryos are fish-like and then reptilian and so on. Don’t worry if you don’t see why anyone would actually argue that. You have to imagine things in a certain way to see things that way.)

  8. Unfortunately in a way they already do recruit children.

    Yes, I know. I taught in the public schools. I was being facetious.

    It seems to me that this is part of the difference between indoctrination and education. Indoctrination tends towards imagery, emotional conditioning or propaganda which achieves an “overwhelming” effect while education tends toward literacy, rational argumentation and in the end a person is left with a mind which is capable of critical thinking.

    And yet, in educational psychology, we were warned not to indoctrinate. Of course, they meant speaking of God and truth!

    “…education (SHOULD) tends toward literacy, rational argumentation and in the end a person is left with a mind which is capable of critical thinking.” (which then would lead to young people who could problem solve effectively, and use their God given creativity and skills for the good of many!)

    Couldn’t have said it any better!

    Also, Mike, liked the analogy!!!

  9. Also, Mike, liked the analogy!!!

    Thanks. I often wonder about the “last 11 blank pages”.

    Here’s a nice picture for Darwinists:

    Imagine the human of the future. Complete with wings, beak, talons and feathers. A talking bird, able to fly up to great distances, and at great speeds. Able to write books, make music, build bombs, form governments, play baseball, etc…

    See, I can draw pictures too, and evolution can validate them for me. We might as well have crucified a frog or a rat on the cross 2000 years ago. Same difference. Man is meat.

  10. See, I can draw pictures too, and evolution can validate them for me. We might as well have crucified a frog or a rat on the cross 2000 years ago. Same difference. Man is meat.

    As I’ve stated before, I find the whole naturalist point of view dehumanizing!

  11. …and Aristotle might as well have been a rabbit, Napolean a turtle, Lincoln a salmon, and Darwin a peanut butter sandwich

  12. As I’ve stated before, I find the whole naturalist point of view dehumanizing!

    Whether or not naturalism is “dehumanizing” depends on one’s views about nature in general and about animal life in particular. The point of view expressed by DB and Mike could be put as follows:

    1) If Darwinism is true, then there is no difference in kind between humans and all other animals.
    2) All other animals are mere “meat,” without any spiritual dimension to their existence.
    3) Therefore, if Darwinism is true, then human beings have no spiritual dimension to their existence.

    It needs to be pointed out, apparently, that (2) is separate from (1); neither depends on the other, and there’s no inconsistency in affirming (1) while rejecting (2). Thus, accepting (1) need not lead to accepting (3).

  13. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

    Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. 13 By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit…

    We love, because He (God) first loved us. (1 John 4: 7-19)

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