Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Arguments VI -- Gaps in the fossil record

I hadn't thought about this one recently, until someone reminded me of it. There are gaps in the fossil record. Now when I first learned this, way back in my first dinosaur class in elementary school, I wasn't a happy camper. I mean back then dinosaurs were Cool and anything that didn't directly tie back to dinosaurs was not! I guess I was all of 8 or 9 years old and anything that was missing, like fossils, were crimes against nature -- to my thinking back then.

Nowadays I understand a lot more and I think even later in elementary school when I learned how fossils formed I understood why there weer gaps and some of the gaps might never be filled. But back then I still didn't like it!

The only thing I don't like today about the gaps is how Creationists/Intelligent Design supporters have tried to use them as rationale for the failures of science to answer questions. What i hope you understand is that the gaps were expected and predicted by paleontology theories. The reason is quite simple, the formation of fossils is a rare event. The conditions that allow a fossil to form are pretty exact and specific. The right materials, moisture content, even pressure and other conditions must be there in order to form a fossil. Most organisms never have the opportunity.

Of course Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents point to the thousands of fossils and claim how can this be, there are tons of fossils. Well when you look a the age of the Earth and the billions of years involved, translate that to how many organisms have lived upon this planet? Only a very tiny percentage of them will die and eventually form a fossil.

Then of course some of the Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents claim the Earth is only between 6,000 and 10,000 years old, depending on which group of them you happen to be talking to, and attempt to steer the whole conversation away from the gaps.

So, as I said science not only knows about the gaps, but expected there to be gaps. It would be totally amazing if there was an unbroken string from the original organism through modern day man of fossilized remains. In fact that would cause paleontologists to be more concerned over the validity of their finds than having gaps. You can read more about fossils here.

But Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents will continue to point to the gaps as evidence of the weakness of science. What they tend to forget is that a gap can one day be filled. We are still finding fossils and learning. They prefer to put their God/Designer in the gap and say, see God/Designer did it. The problem I see with the God of the Gaps story is that what happens when we find a fossil to fit one of the gaps? What will their story become then?

Of course Creationists/Intelligent Design proponents have more issues with the fossil record than the gaps. I've mentioned a few in other posts, like their disbelief in transitional fossils and their claim that radiocarbon dating isn't accurate, and their general disbelief in thermodynamics. Like the fossil gaps they like to point at science and make wide claims about its inaccuracy and inapplicability. I wish they would focus more on the science of their own ideas. Tearing down science doesn't mean as much when they use science to try and validate their own pet ideas. Oh there are gaps in the fossil record -- but here is Intelligent Design -- yea that makes sense.

I will close by saying once again that there are gaps in the fossil records expected gaps, explained gaps, and predicted gaps. I would really like to know how that advances Intelligent Design because from what I have read, including books by Behe, Johnson, Dembski, and Coulter, there are gaping fissures in Intelligent Design that no one seems interested in filling.

No comments:

Post a Comment