Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Reptile to Mammal link

Noteworthy items: The period is from the Permian to the Triassic. Here are some of the evolutionary marks from fully reptile to mamalian-reptiles.

1. The switch in teeth appearance. From peg like to differentiated teeth of mammals - incisors, molars, canines.
2. The switch in jaws appearance. From 5 bones to 1 bone the dentary. In the reptilian past and present, the jaw joint lies between the articular bone at the back of the lower jaw, and the quadrate bone in the skull. But in mamals In mammals the jaw joint is between the dentary and the squamosal element of the skull.
3. The switch in the middle ear. In reptiles, as in amphibians and fishes, there is a single hearing bone, the stapes. But in mammals, including humans, have three ear bones, hammer, anvil, and stirrup or stapes.

OK. So here it is folks. More evidence that evolution can be traced and predicted. It is not an empty scientific proposition.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Are there Missing Links? From Reptiles to Birds

Most critics of evolution contend that there is no direct evidence that today's animals were descended from earlier life forms. There is no link to previous earlier animals.
But that is not true.

As early as 1861, with the discovery of the Archaeopteryx, part bird and part lizard, there is a connection from one early species to another. Here are some more recent findings.

Other new specimens of birds have been found in Spain and China, which are some 30 or 40 million years younger than Archaeopteryx, and they are more bird-like, exactly as an evolutionist predicts. Their characteristics include short bony tails, and their hand claws are reduced, which indicates that they are becoming more bird-like. The Chinese localities have not only produced amazing new birds, but also new dinosaur specimens with feathers!

These new specimens really complete the argument. Archaeopteryx is no longer alone and unique. No, below it, on the evolutionary tree, are countless of theropod dinosaurs that become ever more birdlike through time, and above it stretch numerous bird species that bridge every step of the way from Archaeopteryx to fully-fledged birds. Also, a long series of fossils through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, which is a span of 140 million years, document the evolutionary transition from reptile to bird.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Where's Occam?

If you've ever wondered how science works, start with the concept of theory, followed by variables, followed by facts.

A good theory will try to explain as many facts as possible. So if two theories A and B are used to explain facts, and theory A explains 100 facts, and the other theory B explains the first 100 facts and another 50 facts, for a total of 150 facts, naturally then Theory B is better.

Or is it.

If Theory A uses 4 variables, and theory B uses 8 variables. Then A is the simpler theory and B is more complex. So is A better than B now? If A cannot explain the other 50 facts that B can explain, then B is still the better theory.

Suppose Religion can explain 100 facts. Religion in the guise of God can explain 100 facts. But religion without god cannot explain the extra 50 facts. So is God necessary to explain what is happening?

Let's look at some facts: the earth orbits the sun; objects fall at the rate of 32 feet /second squared. There are 24 hours in the day. Light travels at about 186,242 miles per second. Now everyone of these facts were not known at one time. But they became known over a period of time using scientific investigation. Religious investigation did not offer up these facts at all. So would you know these facts if you believed in God? No you wouldn't. Believing in God does not make you more knowledgeable of any fact. You still have to enquire about how the came about using a scientific methodology. Believing in God does not help your quest. Only Science does.

So from the stand point of Occam's razor, you don't need God for any theory to be valid or invalid. The theory must stand on its own merits.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Intelligent Design - If its Intelligent design, the design should be intelligent.

Many people have fallen into believing that Intelligent design is a viable explanation for the way the Universe operates. The clock model, or that it's statistically impossible that all of this should have happened randomly. So everything shows that there was a designer.

OK, but first lets note that if the universe was intelligently designed, then the design must be intelligent. How do you explain the mistakes? Take cancer or diabetes for a moment. How is that intelligent? Genetic theory says that cancers are cells that have stopped working as they are supposed to. We can make more examples of this, but realistically, an intelligently designed system should not have mistakes.

One may reply, there are many items that are designed that would fail that test of intelligence. But we still say that they are intelligently designed. Take the two World Trade towers. They were intelligently designed for their time, but they were not designed to withstand the hit of a fuel packed commercial airliner traveling at over 350 miles per hour.

Yes but that supports the main argument. Those towers fell because of physics and fuel chemistry. They failed not by some random event, but because there was a lack of fire retardant material in the steel columns. c

Intelligent design also assumes that someone knows how the physical laws operates but then extrapolates to requiring a third party ... the leap to designer. Consider Occam's razor. This says that if you have two competing theories that can explain a natural phenomena, then the one with the fewest variables, is the better explanation. Evolution says that the processes of selection, competition, environment, genetics all play a role in the formation of natural and living processes. Intelligent design says that the processes of selection, competition, environment, genetics, and God play a role in the formation of natural and living processes. God is the extra element. Is it needed?