Evolutionary Tales Are Constructed Out of Imagination, Not Data
Fossil bits or genetic tidbits are often used as props for grand evolutionary tales, even when the data are problematic for Darwinian theory.
Mother of All Carnivores
Look at this artist reconstruction in Science Daily: a mysterious sleek animal prowling in a tree, sporting a long tail, colorful coat and pointy ears. What’s it based on? Just teeth and a few ankle bones. All the rest is imaginary. Yet that scanty fossil evidence props up a story about the mother of all carnivores: an animal that gave rise to “Cats and dogs, as well as other carnivorous mammals (like bears, seals, and weasels),” the article claims. Essential to the tale is calling the fossil “very primitive looking” so that readers are assured that the world has made evolutionary progress since the imaginary time “55 million years” ago when this animal lived. Imagination breeds imagination. Now, the evolutionists can imagine still more imaginary ancestors: “Although close to the origin of carnivoraforms, the fossils suggest there were even more primitive species in the group in an earlier time period, the Paleocene.”
Extremely rare is the reporter or scientist who considers whether the same bits might confirm some other paradigm. Philosophers understand a concept called “underdetermination of theory by data.” For any evidence, there are an infinite number of theories that could be confirmed by that evidence. Some ankle bones and teeth do not, therefore – indeed, cannot – provide necessary and sufficient evidence to confirm the Darwinian theory. The same evidence could be used, for instance, to support a story of degeneration and decreasing diversity over time.
Readers are generally not surprised by such articles, because evolutionists have drummed this kind of speculation into “the way science is done” these days – ever since Darwin popularized the genre. The grand story comes first: then, the “scientist” imagines ways to incorporate discoveries into the story, using bits of bone or DNA to prop it up and keep it going.
Examples abound. On a nearly daily basis, science reporters tease readers about new bits that “shed light” on the grand tale – each bit far beneath any decent standard of necessary or sufficient evidence for confirmation. PhysOrg recently asserted that the “New World monkey family tree” is coming to light in spite of a lack of fossil ancestors – by imagining a remarkably improbable tale that “the animals made the ambitious transatlantic crossing on a vegetation raft, perhaps hurled seaward by a powerful storm.” No effort was made to see if that kind of thing happens today. It would seem a storm at sea would peter out long before getting far from the African coast, stranding the poor animals on their vegetation raft thirsting and starving to death, long before currents could carry it to Brazil.
The migration story was conjured by pure speculation to rescue a belief that New World monkeys evolved from Old World monkeys. Once the raft story was launched, it expanded into an auxiliary hypothesis to account for monkeys on Caribbean islands “floating there by chance, the same way their ancestors crossed the Atlantic” – only this time, a few thousands or years ago instead of millions. Has anyone observed a monkey floating by chance across an ocean? Why don’t ships routinely encounter vegetation rafts inhabited by monkeys in the open sea looking to be rescued? Yet evolutionists believe other primates, namely humans, built boats by intelligent design to get to the South Pacific islands; otherwise it’s incredible they could have arrived there.
Might Makes Right
Anything “might” happen, but speculation doesn’t make it right, even if bathed in jargon. In Current Biology, evolutionists in Spain claimed to “uncover one of the most extreme cases of evolutionary organ divergence” in insects. They basically found similarities in the way segments develop in fruit flies. Some of the segments develop into trachea (breathing organs), while others become part of the endocrine system. This is not surprising, because in any developing embryo, simple structures usually become the foundations for construction of complex organs later. These authors, however, suggested that evolution took primitive segments and originated the endocrine organs and trachea from them: “We propose that the arthropod ectodermal endocrine glands and respiratory organs arose through an extreme process of divergent evolution from a metameric repeated structure.” I.e., it “might” have happened. No fossil evidence was cited.
Some French evolutionists exercised their rights from this “might” and turned it into a right mighty tale of evolution. Commenting in the paper in the same issue of Current Biology, they celebrated their fluency in imagination against a backdrop of depressing ignorance:
Although evolution is a continuous process, when we take a large-scale view certain evolutionary transitions stand out as milestones in the evolution of body form and function. We recognize events, such as the invention of muscles and neurons, or the evolution of segmented bodies, hormonal control systems and centralized brains as major changes, and use them to categorize the animals into discrete phyla with more or less distinctive ‘body plans’. While we are certain that these transitions did take place in deep branches of the animal tree, we often do not understand how they occurred and have difficulty in reconstructing functional intermediate steps taken during these transitions. We know that vertebrates, insects, mollusks and sea anemones are all related to each other, but we cannot yet picture what their common ancestors looked like and how they lived. The deepest ancestral forms and functions of animals are the ‘known unknowns’ of animal evolution. New work by Sánchez-Higueras, Sotillos and Castelli-Gair Hombría, published in this issue of Current Biology, raises new questions about one of these unknowns — the evolution of arthropod endocrine systems — by revealing an unexpected link between two major endocrine glands and the respiratory organs (tracheae) of insects.
It’s just as possible, though, that the endocrine glands and trachea are not linked by evolution, despite the similarities. It’s also possible that the deepest ancestral forms are not “known unknowns” but vacuous flights of imagination about entities that never existed. Nevertheless, supporting the new paper’s “unexpected link” required ample use of possibility thinking: “some components of the endocrine system may not have been present in these distant ancestors, but arisen later in evolution… some of the relevant hormones may have been produced by other tissues… endocrine functions may have been already associated with the presumed evolutionary precursors… the physical unity of endocrine organs and gills may have helped integrate cues from the environment into a system regulating body size, respiration and growth.”
Without a time machine, they don’t “know” that all these disparate body plans (which, incidentally, exploded onto the scene in Cambrian fossil record – see 9/23/13) are related to each other. All they know by scientific standards is that fruit flies today have trachea and endocrine systems that work very well.
April Extinctions Bring “May” Dinosaurs
The key word is “may” in Richard Butler’s piece in The Conversation, “How mass extinctions drove the evolution of dinosaurs.” Since data are lacking to support the notion these creatures evolved, Butler may have struck gold with the word “may” in his mind’s eye:
- Growing evidence suggests that dinosaur origins may have formed part of the long-term recovery of ecosystems from the Permo-Triassic (PT) mass extinction….
- This extinction decimated many of the earlier reptile and amphibian groups, and may have created environmental space for dinosaurs and other new groups to evolve….
- Why dinosaurs survived this extinction, but other groups of reptiles did not, is still poorly understood. However, as palaeontologists understand more about dinosaur biology, we are beginning to recognise that unique features such as rapid growth rates or highly efficient bird-like lungs may have helped dinosaurs prosper as others died out.
A little fact-checking for actual data to support these notions turns up evidence that could support other paradigms. Between those bits are many assertions that dinosaurs and birds did evolve. In science, though, saying something doesn’t make it so. It’s also contrary to strict Darwinian theory to suppose that extinctions “drove the evolution” of anything. That makes no sense unless one has a prior faith in some imaginary creative power of mutations. Did the mere creation of “environmental space” that “allowed dinosaurs to evolve” conjure up chance mutations to work the magic? If it can, we must await the evidence, because Butler’s team is “hoping to unravel the story of dinosaur origins“. The actual data in the article show three things: (1) dinosaurs lived, (2) they died, and (3) birds have highly efficient lungs.
Phos for Us
Some supernova remnants contain phosphorus. Big deal. They also contain carbon, argon, and iron. But from the presence of phosphorus, Science Magazine, one of the world’s leading science journals, promoted the suggestion that an element essential for life was made inside stars. By the time the story got to Space.com, it had evolved into a full-fledged speculation about how we got here: “The finding is one of two discoveries of elements in deep space that may give scientists clues to how life is possible in the universe, researchers said.” How the other element (argon) became enmeshed in the speculation about life is unclear.
NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine even speculated that phosphorus in meteorites was responsible for kick-starting life on Earth. “Meteorite phosphorus may have been a fuel that provided the energy and phosphorus necessary for the onset of life,” one researcher suggested. But such speculations are meaningless without the probabilistic context. Sam Jones may have won 100 million dollars in the Powerball lottery, too, but he had better not plan his retirement on that suggestion, if the odds are one in a billion. What if the odds are one in 10161 or less? That’s the chance of getting one single usable protein in a cell (see online book at this site). No portrait of a smiling scientist, as seen accompanying the article, can compensate for such improbabilities, especially when an outside observer might detect conflict of interest. Typical of the genre is the call for funding: “the researchers said more work would need to be done to determine the exact contribution of separate sources to what they are certain was an essential ingredient to early life.”
Folks, these are not cherry-picked examples. We get a steady stream of this fare every day. This is how evolutionists work! Their faith in Darwin comes prior to the evidence. Inside their pointy little heads is inscribed with an iron stylus their favorite Victorian myth. Then they go out looking for confirmation in little bits of bone, little bits of DNA, little bits of fruit fly tissue, or little bits of the periodic table, trying desperately to fit them into grand schemes their meager data cannot bear (see “How Not to Work a Puzzle” in the 5/01/08 commentary). Yet they have hoodwinked the world into thinking they are doing science! This is a huge scam that must be exposed. Everyone loves the science that brings us space travel, technology and cures for disease, but what is this evolutionary fluff, if not useless, clueless, empty speculation hitchhiking on the reputation of real science?
We must understand this point and get society to understand it. The actual science in these stories has nothing to do with the evolutionary speculations parasitizing them. If you read the above articles carefully, there is a clear dichotomy between the evidence and the evolutionary speculations. Nothing in the observations requires an evolutionary story. Darwin himself did reasonable science when he collected abalone shells, birds, and plants, when he studied their structure and design, and faithfully catalogued and published them. Those activities had nothing to do with the grand myth he concocted about how those organisms “emerged” by blind, unguided natural processes, for which he had zero evidence (but lots of imagination).
On the contrary, we have just seen these evolutionists admit the opposite of confirmation: “we cannot yet picture what their common ancestors looked like and how they lived,” they said. What do they know about evolution? Nothing! Even their fertile imaginations cannot picture the mythical common ancestors. Evolutionists misappropriate bits of teeth or bone to support the myth, like pagans on a remote isle dismantling a computer they don’t understand that dropped out of an airplane to build an idol to their god. No amount of shaman storytelling can obviate the fact that the computer was designed. Darwinists can look at the most intricate machines in biology and say they “emerged” or “arose” or “developed” by unguided natural processes. That’s magic talk. The facts militate against their tale, requiring leaps of imagination that would make P. T. Barnum envious: such-and-such may have happened; carnivores “arose” as if by magic, phosphorus in a meteorite is tied to “the onset of life.” Through word games and the power of suggestion, with visual tricks and bald assertions of Darwinism (BAD), evolutionists captivate the unwary, seducing them to presume they are doing “science” when all they are really saying is “stuff happens“—the opposite of science. An undergraduate in philosophy of science could see through the chicanery.
Here’s what we’re up against. This con game has been successfully ensconced as “science” in our culture, and is defended by powerful interests like the courts, universities, the NCSE, the ACLU, atheist groups and more, in a battle royale to prevent the public from figuring out what’s going on. That’s why they must constantly suppress honest criticism of Darwinism.
Ah, but now we have the internet. There used to be one channel broadcasting endless re-runs of Charlie’s angles. Sites like Creation-Evolution Headlines liberate the brainwashed. Share this exposè and help it go viral. Time to run these flim-flam artists out of town (12/22/03 commentary).