Sunday, 21 February 2016

Filling The Gap and Evicting Creationism's Magic Friend

"Ribbo"
Illustration: Karen Carr.
Closing Romer's Gap | The National Museum of Scotland

To any decent creationist, it's all about those lovely gaps. Gaps in the current knowledge, gaps in the fossil records, gaps in our understanding or ability yet to explain! Any gap will do, and if the right one can't be found, one can easily be invented with a childish parody of science. No-one will ever notice because the target audience couldn't tell a childish parody of science from the real thing. It's all magic anyway.

"Ribbo" fossil.
One of their favourites is Romer's Gap, named after a the paleontologist, Alfred Romer, who recognised that there is a global gap in the fossil record from the very early stages of terrestrial quadrupeds. The emergence of these from their bony fish forebears which had begun the migration onto land coincides with two mass extinctions at the end of the Devonian Era about 375-360 million years ago after which the fossil record becomes sparse for some 15 million years. It is not clear what caused this mass extinction but the same event probably accounts for Romer's Gap too, either because there were simply not many animals to fossilise or because something like low atmospheric oxygen was not conducive to the fossilisation process.

Westlothiana Lizziae
Illustration: Karen Carr.
After this gap, we find fossil evidence of a whole diversity of terrestrial animals which have clearly evolved out of the early terrestrial quadrupeds but we just don't know how. In some ways, it is like looking at a stream disappearing into a hole and another stream emerging some distance away. Even if you can be sure it's the same stream, you have no idea what course it takes under ground unless you can dig down and look.

This situation is gradually changing, however, not least of all because of the work being done by Scotland-based paleontologists which is revealing more and more gap-filling details. These finds can be seen at the National Museum of Scotland.

To date, none of the researcher have reported anything resembling a god or magic designer in this shrinking gap. It's beginning to look like science is closing yet another gap about which creationists used to gloat over as being 'proof' of their magic friend, but which will now be relegated to the status of 'no importance whatsoever... and never was'.

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3 comments :

  1. Here is a link to understand even better what fossils are all about: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/geology/fossil.htm

    The following quote taken from the text on page 4 shows how creationists indulge themselves in wishful thinking and/or other types of magical religious & woo-bullshit thinking:

    In the last 10 years, scientists have made some surprising discoveries about dinosaur fossils. For example, N.C. State University researcher Mary Schweitzer has found what appear to be blood cells and protein in 65-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex bones. While some creationists viewed the discovery as proof that the Earth is far younger than 4.5 billion years old, many scientists viewed it instead as an unanswered question about fossil creation and how long soft tissue can really last.

    The proneness to always choose the wrong answer to given questions is typical of so-called "harbingers of failure". IMHO creationists overall belong to this special group of people who nearly always, in some way or other, prefer/choose the wrong and ridiculous answers to posed questions.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Creationism is all about performing the necessary mental gymnastics to be able to convince yourself that the evidence either supports you, or can be dismissed. The conclusion must remain unchanged whatever the evidence says and intellectual dishonesty is seen as a willing self-sacrifice that God will really appreciate.

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  2. A little off topic for this article, but I was reminded of a person on a ted talks who is suggesting mass extinctions were caused by microbes. Thought you might find it interesting if you've not already heard of it.

    https://www.ted.com/talks/peter_ward_on_mass_extinctions/transcript?language=en#t-697000

    ReplyDelete

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