Friday, November 13, 2009

Show us the bones, Mr. Dawkins, show us the evidence, show us the science. We can do without the fairy tales.

Poor Richard Dawkins, poor Wendy Wright. She keeps saying there is no evidence for evolution or specifically for the supposed transitional forms between different species, and he keeps saying there is. I've barely begun watching this discussion between the lady from Concerned Women for America and Dawkins the biologist, but I want to comment before I watch further.

He keeps saying there IS evidence, go to the museum and see Australopithecus, homo habilis, homo erectus, that these represent a graded series of transitions to modern homo sapiens from something more ape-like (it's supposed to be the ancestor of both apes and man but it always looks particularly ape-like you know), and she's not saying clearly enough for Dawkins to get it why these are not evidence. At least so far - to the middle of Part 2 at this point.

She DOES say "show me the bones" and that is the beginning of our objections, but she doesn't get to explain what she means. What you see in museums and book illustrations are artists' conceptions of these supposed transitional creatures, not the actual facts, not the actual evidence. We are given only a fantasy idea of some creature that may or may not have existed for all we know, imaginatively constructed from only a few bones, sometimes ridiculously few bones. We are not given the actual evidence, the actual bones, which are hardly ever -- in fact more likely never -- entire skeletons, we are not given the reasoning that links a particular body part to another body part, or if by searching for it we can find such a description it often seems glibly and even sometimes romantically (in the literary sense) described rather than rigorously thought through.

Sometimes a skull is found sort of near to but not close enough to be unequivocally related to a particular bone or collection of bones and the insistence that they belong together is not all that convincing from the actual facts. We want the real evidence. We want to be able to think it through ourselves, but they give us only THEIR conclusions and withhold the evidence. We want to see some examples of ape bones versus human bones, and a good range of them since we know there are big differences between individuals, so we can make comparisons ourselves. We want to know exactly how many actual specimens of any supposed "hominoid" type are in existence and how complete they are and how it is known all the parts belong to each other in a particular case. We want to be told exactly where each piece of a specimen was found. We want to know exactly how they were all dated -- was it by the particular stratum they were found in? And how was that stratum identified and dated? Were actual tests done or was the date inferred from other clues and may we please know what facts validate those clues if so? And we'd like to see this all laid out in good English and not in shorthand or scientistic jargon in minuscule old fashioned typeface.

We know archaeologists are scrupulously careful to mark each artifact and fragment as to where it was found at the site as mapped on a grid, and it is all carefully photographed as well. Perhaps this is unfair, but it's easy to get the impression that evolutionists, on the other hand, are rather sloppy with their evidence, preferring to construct their finds from imaginative rhapsodizing rather than actual science, and that they couldn't produce a rigorously kept log of any of the evidence at any site where a specimen was found. If such logs do exist, publish them so we can all mull them over.

Then there are the artists' renditions of the supposed pre-homo sapiens creature. I often wonder: Have the scientists ever seriously considered the huge range of skull shapes and sizes and body types and sizes among LIVING HUMAN BEINGS? They insist that such and such a skull shape is a precursor or a transitional type as if there were a fixed modern type it is precursor TO, though it seems to me I've seen all those supposed precursor types walking around some city in the 21st century, working on a construction crew or reading the Wall Street Journal (or Darwin's Origin of Species) over a latte in a cafe. OR I've seen it in a cage at the zoo: That is, either it's an ape or it's a human being, there's nothing in between.

Also, do the scientists or the artists have the expertise, or work with those who do, in reconstructing the fleshy contours of a face over a skull? It's an exacting science, but I get the impression from the usual evolutionist illustrations that some pretty rough and exaggerated guesswork often suffices for them. TRULY SCIENTIFIC illustrations scrupulously indicate the actual evidence as distinguished from the artistic rendering. It's a mark of the LACK of scientific rigor that what we get from the evolutionists are completed artistic fantasies without a clue to how much of it has any real factual basis.

I'm sure Dawkins is genuinely convinced that those artists' renditions in the museums ARE evidence, ARE science. That's why he just can't get what Ms. Wright is trying to say about them and is so offended that a nonscientist would doubt the work of scientists. He needs to seriously rethink that belief.

I hope Wendy Wright gets into all this with more specificity but I'm going to post this at this point and come back to it later.

Assuming this discussion remains on the topic of evolution I'm moving any further posts on it to my Fantasy of Evolution blog. [Later: Dawkins' latest book on evolution promises to supply the evidence I'm asking for here, but in fact it fails to deliver on that promise, and at Fantasy of Evolution I posted a review of the book from Amazon that discusses this problem.]