Comic








Others








Skepticism







Permalink

 

 

Updated every weekday.         Please vote!    

 

2009-07-27

Creationists have been demanding transitional forms ever since Darwin wrote On the Origins of Species, and paleontologists have responded with a vast array of fossils that show a chronological evolution of species. Since whales are specifically mentioned in Genesis, I'm using Cetacean evolution as an example, but paleontologists have unearthed transitional forms for many different species of animals.

The whale evolution illustrations have been reprinted without permission from the book Evolution: Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer. It's a very well written volume and I highly suggest it to anyone who wants to learn more about evolution.

 

Comments

christian2 writes:

 

what scientists did there was mix a ton of fossils and call it and animal evalving into a whale! And then of course everyone believes them becuz their "scientists". btw on most pictures of the wolf/whale evolving you just see animated pictures like the one above

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

You obviously didn't read the article on Cetacean evolution. If you're going to argue against a claim that has already been demonstrated and established, it is important to understand the evidence the other side is presenting. Read the articles and you'll see why your claim is unfounded.

The reason you see drawings of extinct animals is because we can't exactly take pictures of them. If you'd like to see the actual skeletal fossils from the various stages, go to the page, and then click on main articles for each stage. This, of course, only represents a small sample of the overall fossil record, so if you want to see more, get a book, go to museums, read scientific journals, etc. Your questions can be answered if you're willing to put in some effort.

Chris writes:

 

Excellent comic so far haha, I love it. I have tried to read most of the things that you linked, but my puny English Major mind cannot wrap itself around the massive amounts of physics. I have, however, read quite a bit on evolution, being as I like to know about what I believe in, so as to not look like an idiot, and this slide just makes me happy. Although, one thing I will note, you just sort of stuck the Orca in there, which technically isn't even a whale, it's a dolphin. Was there some reason you jumped from a blue whale to an Orca?

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

The diagram you're looking at shows the common ancestors of the order Cetaceans. This taxonomic rank includes all modern whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The two bottom pictures are examples of the sub-orders Mysticetes (blue whales, humpback whales, gray whales, etc.) and Odontocetes (dolphins, killer whales, porpoises, sperm whales, etc.).

The original diagram shows their evolution along a time line which makes the common descent much clearer, but I didn't have room to fit the whole thing in the comic. If you do a Google image search for "whale evolution", you'll find the image.

Winterset writes:

 

Evolution is one of the few scientific things I really "believe". It's obvious and I've seen more than sufficient evidence for myself to know it's real. A lot of stuff scientists spout is really no more convincing to the lay person than the crud the rest of the priests spout.

That's not to say, of course, that I wouldn't believe a scientist over a priest, but science is just one more religion to be disbelieved. Science books are mostly theological texts: they propose proofs based on the experiments others have done just as theological texts propose prophecies or what have you based on things other people were told by angels.

I'm not saying science is bogus, I'm just saying that if one is to be skeptical about things based on a lack of evidence, one should remember that words in a book do not constitute evidence. Get out there. Explore. Experiment. Research. Find reasons and facts to believe.

Oh, and I also believe most of what I've read about geology.

Sorry, rambling again. Done now.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

I can see why you draw a corollary between science and religion since they are both trying to explain the world around us and uncover truths. However, the way in which they do this differs greatly.

Religions use ancient scriptures with unknown origins or traditions that often make little sense to discover truth. They believe that if you disagree with these truths you are not only wrong, but evil.

Science, on the other hand, makes observations, conducts tests, studies evidence, and draws conclusions. Scientists understand the fact that humans are fallible, that is why their results are always peer-reviewed and re-tested many times by many people.

You say that scientific proofs are similar to prophecy, but scientific proofs can be repeated and tested by anyone, prophecies cannot.

You mention that people should explore, experiment, and research--all of these things are paramount to science. It wasn't a scientist who penned the phrase "here be dragons".

Science isn't always right, but it has built-in error correction, and problems are eventually brought to light and corrected.

Science thrives on new ideas and discovery. Religion, perpetuates useless dogma from a bygone era. They are very different.

Winterset writes:

 

I very much agree that they are very different not only in ethical value but also in methodology. My point, however, is that because scientists use a particular methodology (which is infinitely more valid than that of the theologists), non-scientists are expected to take their word for things. From the point of view of the scientist, that's great. From the point of view of the lay person, however, it's no different than the teachings of a church. At the core, one is being asked to believe in something without knowledge or even evidence. If one assumes that peer-review equates to accuracy, then the christians are far and away more believable since they have more "peers". Peer-review can only equate to trustworthy-ness.

In most things, personal experimentation and deductive reasoning will back up science. In most things where that isn't sufficient, the belief in the scientific statements is irrelevant to one's life (such as the Red Shift of stars' spectral analysis to determine relative motion). For those things that will effect one's life, if science is asking one to believe it, one must do the research for oneself. Skepticism is an important evolutionary development.

To be clear, I'm not remotely saying scientists are charlatans. I'm just saying that if one is going to take things on faith, it doesn't really matter what they believe since they're not using their minds anyway; they're using their hearts and that's not a valid foundation for a rational life.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

Okay, now I see where you're coming from and I agree. I, personally, have never measured the redshift of other galaxies, and I most likely never will. Other astronomers claim to have measured the redshift, and they all claim to get the same measurements, but it's possible that they could all be lying or mistaken. Because I've never measured it myself, I'm taking the words of astronomers on faith.

However, most of the things in our daily lives are taken on faith because it's not practical to test and measure everything all the time. For example, when I sat down at my desk, I didn't test my chair to see if it could hold my weight. I had faith that it would hold me up, and I used my experiences with it, and all other chairs in the past.

It's really a matter of believability. How far-fetched is a belief in redshifted galaxies? We can see the sun, moon, and some planets moving with our naked eyes. With telescopes any layperson can even see many other stellar objects moving. Based on what we know about motion, is it that much of a stretch to assume that the rest of the bodies in space are also moving, even without being an astronomer? We also have matching data from thousands of experts all over the world that can be accessed and studied by anyone. While I haven't done this myself, I think it's pretty safe to believe them.

Can the same be said for the bible? We don't know who wrote it, we don't know when it was written, we have no original copies, most contemporary historical accounts contradict it, most archeological accounts contradict it, and it makes numerous extraordinary claims without any evidence to back it up.

The difference is that religion is a huge leap of faith, while science is a tiny hop of faith.

Winterset writes:

 

I'd have to agree by disagreeing (agree with your point by disagreeing with your particular choice of words).

I think faith in *some* science is a leap of faith and if that leap needs to be made then faith isn't needed in the first place (those things don't matter). On the other hand, religion goes way beyond a leap of faith into the realm of blatant delusion. I mean seriously, it's a leap of faith to think that given a finite amount of testing on current carbon deposits that we can extrapolate to assume an accurate aging of ancient fossils. Believing in a talking snake and fruit cooler than blue raspberries? That's delusion.

(Like the call-back?)

Erynn writes:

 

One Problem with that diagram - Orca are Dolphins. o.o

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

This was addressed in the third and fourth comments on this page.

Katy writes:

 

@christian2: I thought the problem was that Satan created the fossil record to deceive people into believing that the world is older than it is. Can't the Religious Right get their conspiracy theories straight?

SoapyCola writes:

 

Sorry, but winterset thats kind of dumb. Science is easy for the lay person to understand. Not through 'Belief', or taking a scientists word for it. Infact, most scientists hate it when people just take their word for it. Because that leaves you ignorant. They don't expect you to believe them, they expect you to study it yourself. It doesn't require 10+ years to understand something that has already been researched.

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

@SoapyCola: It depends on what level of understanding you want to have on the subject. You could learn about the basic functions of the brain in a couple hours, but if you really wanted to have a comprehensive grasp on all aspects of the brain, and also construct and perform your own tests, it would take many years of studying. Neurosurgeons do have to go to school for 10+ years to start a practice. Granted, a lot of this time is spent on general studies, but it still requires plenty of months studying the brain.

wm writes:

 

do you really want a 20 billion page bible so he skips around a bit, sue him!

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

@wm: I wouldn't have a problem with a bit of skipping around, but the bible ignores 99% of what we know to be true about the formation of the universe, and the majority of what it does have is quite wrong.

Bahookee writes:

 

Darwin said his THEORIES would be proven in the NEXT 150 yrs. they are long past London paleontology doesn't not have a complete evolutionary migration of a single species to another what evolutions have done is steal the term ADAPTION which animal adapt to their environment but it's still the SAME species???oops big problem for all your evolutionist

TheAlmightyGuru writes:

 

Darwin never said anything about his theories being proven in 150 years. That is something made up by Creationists liars. Not that it matters because the evidence for his theory was pretty solid during his own life time, and with the discovery of DNA, genetics, and the ever-growing fossil record, his theory is quite indisputable today.

If you'd like another well-documented evolutionary line, take a look at the evolution of the horse. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse)

Regarding your usage of the term "adaptation," you do know that an adaptation is an evolutionary change, right? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptation)

 

Oh the irony!