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Monday, November 24, 2014

Paleontologists Found What They Were Looking for….NOT!

Posted by jlwile on December 12, 2012

A picture of a mineral formation that was widely interpreted as an animal fossil (Click for credit)

The Cambrian Explosion presents a serious headache for evolutionists. After all, the fossils found in Cambrian rock are supposed to be about 540 to 485 million years old. However, when you look at the complex animals preserved in such rock, you find every major body plan that exists in today’s animals. Worse yet, when you look in layers that are supposed to be older than Cambrian rock, you don’t find the supposed ancestors of these complex animals. Evolutionists have desperately tried to explain around the problem, but so far none of their explanations work.


In 2004, a ray of hope appeared. The journal Science published an article claiming to have found animal fossils that are 40-55 million years older than the Cambrian fossils. They also seemed simpler than the animal fossils found in Cambrian rock. These simple animals were called Vernanimalcula guizhouena, and the authors thought that they helped to mitigate the evolutionary headaches caused by the Cambrian Explosion. As the authors state in their paper:1

The morphology of Vernanimalcula demonstrates that the evolutionary appearance of developmental programs required to generate a multilayered bilaterian body plan preceded the entrainment of the growth programs required for macroscopic body size. Furthermore, the organization of these fossils, taken together with their provenance, indicates that the genetic tool kit and patter formation mechanisms required for bilaterian development had already evolved by Doushantuo times, long before the Cambrian. Therefore, the diversification of body plans in the Early Cambrian followed from the varied deployment of these mechanisms once conditions permitted, not from their sudden appearance at or just before the Cambrian boundary.

So these fossils showed that the Cambrian Explosion wasn’t an explosion at all. Instead, simpler versions of the complex animals that appear in Cambrian rock existed previously, and the Cambrian era simply represented a rapid diversification of a basic body plan that had already existed in a simpler form.

Of course, like many evolutionary propositions, once this claim was thoroughly analyzed, it was shown to be utterly false.

A recent paper makes the compelling case that the “fossils” called Vernanimalcula guizhouena are not fossils at all. Instead, they are the effects of mineralization and do not have any biological origin. The authors conclude2

There is no evidential basis for interpreting Vernanimalcula as an animal, let alone a bilaterian. The conclusions of evolutionary studies that have relied upon the bilaterian interpretation of Vernanimalcula must be called into question.

The paper goes a step further, however. It says something very important about the nature of science and how scientists can be fooled by their own personal desires. The authors quote one of the paleontologists involved in the 2004 study, Dr. David Bottjer. In a 2005 article he wrote for Scientific American, he said:3

We had come to Guizhou in 2002 to hunt for microscopic fossils of some of the earliest animals on earth. Specifically, we were hoping to find a bilaterian.

The authors then go on to say that it’s not surprising that the team found exactly what they were looking for. In the end, if you really want a fossil to exist, you will find something that looks like that fossil, whether it is real or not. The authors’ comments reminded me of something I read two years ago. Dr. Esteban E. Sarmiento (a primatologist) wrote a commentary about Ardipithecus ramidus in the journal Science. This fossil is supposed to be a part of the evolutionary lineage of people, but Dr. Sarmiento is rather skeptical of that interpretation. After giving the reasons for his skepticism, he ends his commentary this way:

… it is curious that in a century-old race for superlative hominid fossils on a continent currently populated with African apes, we consistently unearth nearly complete hominid ancestors and have yet to recognize even a small fragment of a bona fide chimpanzee or gorilla ancestor.

I wholeheartedly agree. Like Vernanimalcula, the interpretation of many African fossils as members of the supposed human evolutionary line is heavily influenced by paleontologists’ desire to find a human ancestor. In order to do good science, however, we must fight the desire to force the data to conform to our preconceived notions.

Now please understand that this is a problem for all scientists, not just evolutionists. When we go looking for evidence to confirm our views, we tend to find such evidence. If we are to be good scientists, we should avoid that situation. Instead, we should put the evidence first and follow it wherever it leads.

REFERENCES

1. Jun-Yuan Chen, et. al., “Small Bilaterian Fossils from 40 to 55 Million Years Before the Cambrian,” Science 305:218-222, 2004
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2. Stefan Bengtson, John A. Cunningham, Chongyu Yin, and Philip C.J. Donoghue, “A merciful death for the ‘earliest bilaterian,’ Vernanimalcula,” Evolution & Development 14(5):421–427, 2012
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3. David J. Bottjer, “The early evolution of animals,” Scientific American 293:42-47, 2005
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Comments

60 Responses to “Paleontologists Found What They Were Looking for….NOT!”
  1. Mia says:

    Do tell. I don’t have the leisure of responding to you when you want me to. So, you’ll just have to wait for it. But my questions do show how qualitatively different Rooker’s article is compared to Cargill’s. Cargill does use the text – it’s all we’ve got – but he does not use it for a discourse on sin. Cargill is Christian btw.

  2. jlwile says:

    I am happy to wait, Mia. However, if you really want to reply to the arguments of the experts I cite, you should stop bringing up all sorts of new objections that have little merit. That simply delays any substantive response you might have.

    I agree that Rooker’s article is quite different from Cargill’s. As I pointed out before, while both are heavy on exegesis, there are several glaring errors in Cargill’s article, and so far, you haven’t found any errors in Rooker’s article. Instead, you had to resort to misrepresenting what he said in an attempt to make the article look bad.

    I know Cargill is a Christian. I never implied otherwise. There is a wide range of views on Scripture in Christendom, as my “links to investigate” clearly demonstrate.

  3. Mia says:

    Cargill is not in error about the flood narrative being two different stories woven together, with different details about the same simple matters from each story. They are contradictions. Your cheap harmonizations are in error. As for the sources of the water, Cargill was simply assuming that no supernatural events happened to cause the worldwide flood. If you wish to believe that God used supernatural events to cause water to move from the oceans to over the land, or from some unknown sub-terrainian source to bubble up through the earth’s crust, that’s fine. But don’t pretend for a minute you have any evidence for either of those occurrences. AiG’s article is pure speculation.

  4. jlwile says:

    Cargill was most definitely in error regarding the Flood story being contradictory. The two links I gave you (here and here) are not “cheap harmonizations.” They use the text to show quite clearly that there simply is no contradiction.

    Also, you claimed in your previous comment that “Cargill does use the text.” However, the text itself says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.” (Genesis 7:11). So Cargill did not use the text, as the text clearly spells out two sources of water for the Flood, but Cargill only considered one. Once again, then, Cargill’s article is filled with errors, while you could find no errors in Rooker’s article. Instead, you had to misrepresent what Rooker said in an attempt to make his article look bad.

    And yes, of course there is excellent evidence for the fountains of the great deep. Indeed, even now, there are vast reserves of water stored under eastern Asia. And of course, Christian Answers’ article (not AiG’s article) is not “pure speculation.” Instead, it is based on an incredibly successful computer model of the earth’s tectonic history.

  5. Mia says:

    Now going back to this comment.

    Okay, a misunderstanding (or error on my part, if you wish) on source criticism and Documentary Hypothesis (DT). You are right, source criticism is not falling out of favor. All biblical historians agree that the Genesis flood story is made up of different sources woven together. The DT goes further, not just labeling the different sources J, E, D and P, but assigning the dating of those sources to specific periods in the history of ancient Israel. However, those periods have no attestation from any source or method from outside the Hebrew Bible itself. It is circular to use the Bible to date hypothetical sources within the Bible. Luckily for me, another excellent post on this exact topic has been written by Neil Godfrey. I highly recommend you (and anybody crazy enough to be still reading this thread) read it and the posts that will follow discussing “Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus” by Gmirkin.

  6. Mia says:

    Yes, I googled “comparative religion school” too. Not much there, is there? Unfortunately for you, Gauvreau made a mistake. Gunkel, Weiss, Bousset and Troeltsch were members of the history of religions school. The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the google search shows that it mistranslated “Religionsgeschichtliche”. “Geschichtliche” means historical in German, not comparative. Your scholar Gauvreau made the same mistake. Here’s an evangelical site that shows the two schools are different.

  7. Mia says:

    It’s not an appeal to consensus, it’s an invitation to read the evidence! You admit that you haven’t read the other side. So, you are appealing to ignorance.

    I really can’t help but emphasize again that you think the author of 2 Peter, regardless of who it is and what the provenance of the document is, knows that the text of Genesis 6-9 is an accurate historical description of what happened. What is your evidence for believing this to be the case?

  8. jlwile says:

    Sorry to keep doing this, Mia, but I can’t let your false statements go uncorrected. You claim, “All biblical historians agree that the Genesis flood story is made up of different sources woven together.” This is simply untrue. Dr. Paul Maier is a biblical historian, and he thinks the Flood account is unitary. The same can be said for Dr. Noel Weeks, Dr. Thomas Nettles, and many others.

    You are obviously getting a bit confused, because you posted the link by Godfrey previously. It is interesting, but there is a wealth of evidence (which you have not even tried to challenge) to indicate that the Pentateuch was written long before 270 BC. Thus, the article has little meaning.

    And no, Gauvreau did not make a mistake. Once again, your own link shows that. As this book, which comes from your very link says:

    “Hence, we may speak of Gunkel’s method as the school of comparative religion.”

    And no, the History of Religion School was not completely different from the Comparative Religion School. Indeed, once again, had you read the link you posted, you would understand that. This book is also from your link, and it says:

    “The History of Religions School is often praised and perhaps chiefly remembered for its work in the area of comparative religion.”

    Once again, then, your own sources support my point and refute yours. Thanks for providing them!

    So once again, an “error” you claimed to have found in Rooker’s article is not an error at all. Thus, we still have the situation where there are (at least) three glaring errors in Cargill’s article, but you have found none in Rooker’s. No wonder you are so confused, Mia. When your sources are full of errors, you will never understand an issue.

    And yes, your arguments are mostly an appeal to consensus. This is why you make false claims like, “All biblical historians agree that the Genesis flood story is made up of different sources woven together.” You are also confused on who has read from the other side. You claim, “You admit that you haven’t read the other side.” Of course, that is 100% false. I have never even remotely indicated that I haven’t read the other side. Quite the opposite. I have shown that I am very familiar with the arguments of the other side. When you brought up The Bible Unearthed, for example, you assumed I had never heard its arguments. However, I told you I have watched the documentary on which it was based and refuted two of the arguments in that documentary. Also, when you claimed “There is no archaeological evidence for the biblical account,” I quoted directly from The Bible Unearthed to refute that false statement. In addition, I had read the Godfrey post you just offered well enough to notice that this is the second time you have posted it. Your comment indicates you thought it was the first time you posted it.

    Thus, I am the one who has read the other side. You, on the other hand, steadfastly ignore the other side. You won’t even attempt to address the wealth of evidence I have given you. So far, the only thing you have done is misrepresent Rooker in an attempt to make his article look bad. Fortunately, I have not allowed such misrepresentations to stand.

    Of course, you can’t seem to stop misrepresenting me, either. I never said that the author of 2 Peter knows that the Genesis text is an accurate historical account of what happened. He never indicates that one way or another. What I said was that 2 Peter is an authority on what happened in Genesis. That is most certainly true, because as the Kruger article I linked shows, it is authentic. As a result, it belongs in the Bible and can be used to understand other parts of the Bible. So when 2 Peter says that the world was destroyed by being flooded with water, it helps to emphasize that the Genesis Flood was global.

  9. Mia says:

    My, it will take me weeks to get through all your falsehoods. But to return to this comment: “The Bible Unearthed (a book you claim to be very authoritative when it comes to the Bible)”

    To copy your tactics, I never said TBE was “very authoritative”. In fact, my quote was “Try reading The Bible Unearthed. Or watch the accompanying video clips”. I later provided 4 positive reviews of it. I never claimed anything for it. I would appreciate it if you would stop fabricating my words.

    The long quote from TBE you provide is great. The beginning of the bold section is “Thus it seemed…” Hmmm, I wonder why they used this phrase? Perhaps they don’t agree with what follows? Here’s a more authoritative quote from the online material that appears in the chapter’s summation:

    “Until recently both textual scholars and archaeologists have assumed that ancient Israel reached the stage of full state formation at the time of the united monarchy of David and Solomon. Indeed, many biblical specialists continue to believe that the earliest source of the Pentateuch is the J, or Yahwist, document — and that it was compiled in Judah in the era of David and Solomon, in the tenth century BCE. We will argue in this book that such a conclusion is highly unlikely. From an analysis of the archaeological evidence, there is no sign whatsoever of extensive literacy or any other attributes of full statehood in Judah — and in particular, in Jeru-salem — until more than two and a half centuries later, toward the end of the eighth century BCE. Of course, no archaeologist can deny that the Bible contains legends, characters, and story fragments that reach far back in time. But archaeology can show that the Torah and the Deuteronomistic History bear unmistakable hallmarks of their initial compilation in the seventh century BCE. Why this is so and what it means for our understanding of the great biblical saga is the main subject of this book.”

    You: “Since the Old Testament has demonstrated itself to be a historically trustworthy document (even in the eyes of Biblical minimalists like the authors of The Bible Unearthed)”. TBE does not argue the Torah “must have been based on a substantial body of accurately preserved memories.” Rather, it says the entire Torah was written no sooner than the seventh century BCE and that it contains “legends, characters and story fragments” from earlier times. It is not an historically trustworthy document of Moses, much less of the Patriarchs and very much less of Noah.

    As for other OT minimalists, Davies, Thompson, Niels Peter Lemche, et al., they provide ample evidence that the Torah is not an accurate historical account.

  10. jlwile says:

    Mia, you are welcome to try to show that I am stating falsehoods. However, so far this thread shows that you are the one who is making false statement after false statement. You are correct on one thing, however. I did, indeed, mischaracterize your statement about TBU (not TBE), and I am sorry. You did not claim that TBU (not TBE) was very authoritative. You simply suggested that I should read it or watch the videos. Of course, contrary to your expectation, I already had watched the videos, and I demonstrated how two of the key claims made therein are demonstrably false.

    Even though there are several errors in TBU (not TBE), it still supports my claim that the Old Testament is, indeed, historically trustworthy. Perhaps, like many of the sources you post, you didn’t actually read the quote I gave you from TBU (not TBE). Let me remind you what it says:

    Archaeology has always played a crucial role in the debates about the composition and historical reliability of the Bible. At first, archaeology seemed to refute the more radical critics’ contention that the Bible was a rather late composition, and that much of it is unreliable historically. From the end of the nineteenth century, as the modern exploration of the lands of the Bible got underway, a series of spectacular discoveries and decades of steady archaeological excavation and interpretation suggested to many that the Bible’s accounts were basically trustworthy in regard to the main outlines of the story of ancient Israel. Thus it seemed that even if the biblical text was set down in writing long after the events it describes, it must have been based on a substantial body of accurately preserved memories. This conclusion was based on several new classes of archaeological and historical evidence.

    Note that this is the entire section labeled “History, or Not History?” So the section asks if the Old Testament is history or not history, and the authors answer the question, stating that it is basically trustworthy in regards to the main outlines of the story of ancient Israel. There is nothing that even implies the authors don’t agree with their own statement. I suspect you are confused because you don’t read many scientific works. The phrase “it seemed” or “it seems” is very common among scientists. It is simply a way of saying that we could be misinterpreting the evidence, but this is the conclusion we reach based on our interpretation of the evidence.

    Your quote from TBU (not TBE) says nothing about the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. It simply says that while the authors think the book was written later (as I have already demonstrated, there is a wealth of evidence to indicate it was written during the time of Moses), it draws on characters, stories, and legends that are older. So, if you were to actually read the book (or watch the documentary as I have), you would know that the authors think the Old Testament has an accurate account of the basic history of ancient Israel. According to them, there are embellishments, uses of ancient legends, etc., but as to the “main outlines of the story of ancient Israel,” it is reliable. They know this because of the “spectacular discoveries” of archaeology.

    You claim, “As for other OT minimalists, Davies, Thompson, Niels Peter Lemche, et al., they provide ample evidence that the Torah is not an accurate historical account.” Of course, you provide no such evidence. Once again, Mia, your appeals to consensus do not advance your case. If you want rational people to take your case seriously, you must support it with evidence and refute the evidence from the other side. So far, you have done neither. Instead, you have tried to misrepresent me and Rooker because you can’t effectively argue against us. When you do try to present some evidence, your sources sometimes end up refuting your statements and supporting mine. Once again, I suggest that you actually read your sources before you post them.

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