The Daheshist Theory of Reincarnation
Part 7: CHILDREN of POSEIDON
Part 7: Children of Poseidon
WHEN PIGS FLY… OR, LEAP OUT OF WATER!
Museums of Natural History, textbooks, and popular media are awash with renderings and model reconstructions of the skeletal systems of alleged transitional forms, all purportedly amounting to evidence that whales, and to borrow a phrase from American biologist Dr. Jerry Allen Coyne, “almost certainly evolved” (and now, back to yours truly) through an undirected, unplanned, dragged-out, and unguided fashion, from a land-dwelling animal that paleontologists refer to as an Artiodactyl—that is, and as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica, any member of the mammalian order Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates (ungulate, by the way, means “having hooves”), which includes pigs, peccaries, hippopotamuses, camels, chevrotains, deer, giraffes, pronghorn, antelopes, sheep, goats, and cattle.
Now, what manner of rock-solid evidence would lead to such an “almost certain” assertion?
Since we’re just getting started, and as a warmup exercise, let’s review some of what Dr. Coyne revealed in his highly acclaimed 2009 book Why Evolution is True, Chapter 2: Written in the Rocks; subchapter “Back to the Water:The Evolution of Whales,” page 48:
At one point we learn that because they are prone to sunburn, and should they graze ashore in the daytime instead of feeding at night—as they would usually—hippos “evolved” an adaptation that protects them from the scorching sun: basically, their skin secretes Hipposudoric acid, which is a red pigment often mythologized as “blood sweat”— though neither blood nor sweat—that acts as a natural sunscreen and as an antimicrobial agent.
Coyne writes, “Hippos are obviously well adapted to their environment, and it’s not hard to see that if they could find enough food in the water, they might eventually evolve into totally aquatic, whalelike creatures.”
Alright… first, as a modal verb, “might” implies a low probability. You know… “Something will happen;” versus, “Something may happen;” versus, “Something might happen.” But I suppose, it only takes one random, successful, non debilitating genetic mutation to be fixed, passed on, and built upon, so on and so forth, for a “whalelike creature” to be born. Well, two “whalelike creatures” actually, because how else would this new species thrive?
“Easy peasy,” right?
Sure, until, oh I don’t know, you grow up, go to college as an Architecture major, and you begin to wonder if you might not have told a white lie (see? I can be nice!), and that in actuality, untold non-deleterious, blind, undirected, random, and coordinated mutations might … not even be enough!
And that brings us to the main problem: projecting a public image of Darwinian Evolution as a foregone conclusion, rather than a debate-worthy hypothesis, thus removing the need to demonstrate through at least one one blessed, falsifiable algorithm how blind, mindless nature can manage to assemble a never-before-seen body plan within a span of, say, 10 million years (which would be a geological blink of an eye, by the way!), is tantamount to proselytizing in the name of Scientism—a religion whose apostles, disciples, and apologists truly believe that mindless, thoughtless matter can self-organize into complex living machines.
Personally? I don’t have a problem with evolution. But mindless, blind, devoid-of-any-level-of-intelligence evolution—despite what the science is, may, or might be saying? That, I have a problem with!
Now, let’s analyze Jerry Coyne’s statement from the point of Darwinian logic:
First, the fact hippos are well adapted to their environment is, by Darwinian rules, due to a sequence of random mutations that perfectly matched—again, by sheer dumb luck—the prevailing environmental conditions. I mean, it’s not as though nature custom-ordered the adaptation!
That would be implying teleology, which is a proverbial piñata to Materialists!
And let’s assume there are no deleterious mutations to worry about: these chance mutations could just as well have resulted in Hippos evolving baleen instead of teeth… or beanie hats with propellers.
OK, maybe not beanie hats, but certainly propellers… And why are you laughing?
Just take a look at the bacterial flagellum and prepare to be amazed: it’s a sophisticated, nanoscale molecular engine, assembled—Ooh sorry, self-assembled—from many protein components. It’s equipped with things such as a stator ring that generates torque using an electrochemical gradient of protons or sodium ions across the inner membrane… and whatnot!
So what says this ingenious nano-scale machine could not, or might not, be scaled up?
So, yes, using that logic which amounts to a tautology: anything could or might be possible.
And therefore it shouldn’t be hard to see that if they could find enough food in the water, they might eventually evolve into something totally aquatic… perhaps with an inboard or outboard motor that’s driving a propeller-like appendage!
And by the way, should you ever be made to feel it isn’t your place to contradict an “expert” who is quick to flash their credentials, and thus intimidate you into believing you lack the wherewithal to do so, just remind them that you don’t need a degree in rocket science to know that the payload goes in front of the propulsion system!
Once again, in Darwinism, anything could or might be possible: “all is fluid,” to quote Richard Dawkins, who in his 2009 book, The Greatest Show on Earth, made it clear there are no archetypes, and that “Descendants can depart indefinitely from the ancestral form, and each departure becomes a potential ancestor to future variants.”
Not to freak you out, but that alone should keep you up at night!
Anyway, Jerry Coyne continues by saying, “But we don’t have to imagine how whales evolved by extrapolating from living species. Whales happen to have an excellent fossil record, courtesy of their aquatic habits and robust, easily fossilized bones…This is one of our best examples of an evolutionary transition, since we have a chronologically ordered series of fossils, perhaps a lineage of ancestors and descendants, showing their movement from land to water.”
And so according to standard-issue, ubiquitous talking points, over 55 million years ago, and presumably—because it is yet to be found—there lived a four-legged, cloven-hoofed animal — an artiodactyl — whose evolution would cause one of the branches of Darwin’s Tree of Life to bifurcate, resulting in 2 separate tree branches: one leading to the modern hippopotamus of today, and another major branch that also bifurcated, some 35 million years ago, into 2 sub-branches atop of which sit —on one side-baleen whales, and — on the other— toothed whales.
Now, process-wise, fossils — nature’s rare sculptural and lithographic handiwork, given that they are not the remains of the organisms themselves, but quite literally rocks— are discovered, dug up, deconstructed, then reconstructed, and—as in the case the Whale evolution story—woven into a narrative shoring up a materialistic worldview, with the added irony that not all Darwinians necessarily subscribe to the scientific materialism doctrine!
Furthermore, and with a little help from the mass media, this narrative becomes so deeply entrenched that any attempt to scrutinize or challenge it publicly has all the markings of an exercise in futility with the added bonus of potential repercussions, ranging anywhere from mild scorn to catastrophic loss of income!
Now, and just in case you didn’t know, (I certainly didn’t!) Paleontology, which deals with the fossils of long-deceased animals and plants, is an interdisciplinary field (just like architecture, I suppose) involving: geology, archaeology, chemistry, biology, and anthropology. And let’s just throw in speech therapy for good measure. And so it is a demanding discipline and paleontologists for sure have their work cut out for them. After all, something as modest as a fossilized tympanic part of the temporal bone can be challenging to draw or sketch, let alone to identify and place in context of the larger skeleton or story. And that’s just the beginning of trying to reconstruct how the organism might have lived or died, and ultimately, how the Earth has changed.
For example, the fossils of ancient marine animals called ammonites that had been unearthed in the Himalayas in Nepal is how we know that the rock formations that would ultimately became the Himalayas once lay at the bottom of the ocean.
And the discovery of an ancient giant shark called Megalodon is how we know that the state of Utah was probably underwater.
As discussed in episode 5, this is textbook abductive reasoning: if I see a live turtle stuck atop a fence post, my most logical, rational conclusion is that “Well, somebody must’ve put it there!”
So in the case of Megalodon, either some alien species played a joke on us, or Utah was submerged.
And by the same token, when I see a fascinating series of fossils that implies an evolutionary process, why—when I factor myriad insurmountable challenges in—should I feel compelled to cling to the notion that this evolution had to have been the result of a random, blind, and undirected mechanism, all the while dismissing—with prejudice—an alternative that makes more common sense?
And so, my goal here is to hopefully persuade you—dear willing participant—that these so-called whale fossils are a double-edged sword and—by extension—that the whale-evolution narrative is not the slam dunk it’s cracked up to be.
And if you happen to identify as Daheshist and are wondering what on Earth paleontology—or this business of debunking Darwinism—has to do with Daheshism, then you really need to listen to Episode 6. And while you’re at it, please ask yourself what the most important gift you can bestow upon your fellow human being is:
Is it to proselytize—that is, induce someone to convert to your faith?
Of course… not!
As I’ve said in a prior episode, I can attest to the fact Doctor Dahesh left written instructions that expressly forbid Daheshists to do so.
Daheshists are obligated to respect a person’s choice even if that person believes that a piece of rock represents their God. Doing otherwise, and in Star-Trek speak, that would be an egregious violation of the Prime Directive. Again, remember that Divine prophets even visited primitive civilizations, and relayed to them instructions and knowledge compatible with their intellectual, emotional, and spiritual—even—development.
Now, I’m not suggesting you hold your tongue, regardless.
On the contrary, if asked, speak your piece. And when challenged, may it be on theological or scientific grounds, challenge back!
Furthermore, one of Doctor Dahesh’s missions in life was to expose charlatans, and educate the public.
And so, and this my opinion: Daheshists are obligated to debunk what Scientific Materialists are claiming, which I maintain is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Why must we do so, particularly in light of the “Daheshist prime directive,” as it were?
Simple: As I said this in Episode 3, in his book called Words, Doctor Dahesh wrote, “It would be a disgrace if you died before performing good deeds toward humanity.” A statement he tempered by also writing in that same book, “It would be insane to burn yourself in order to illuminate the path for others.”
Which is why, at this stage of my life, I just lay it all out on the table for those who may be searching for answers.
Secondly, it would be one thing for someone to choose to be an atheist, which is their God-given right. But many are tricked into becoming atheists, with pseudoscience.
And as though it weren’t bad enough that some members of the clergy are causing congregants to lose faith in God, the Scientific Materialists, many of whom are proud, self-confessed Militant Atheists to boot, are distorting science, and consequently unleveling the playing field.
In the words of Dr. David Berlinski, who is a self-professed agnostic: “If it should come to pass in the fullness of time that we discover that there is no explanation for life, we will have to accept it. If it should come to pass that we discover in the fullness of time that the only explanation for life is that it is a process designed for transcendental purposes by a transcendental figure, we will have to accept that too. And if that should come to pass, I would like to ask, who among us will genuinely feel diminished?”
DARWIN’S TEMPLE OF CARDS
On September 8, 2022, I travelled to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, DC. Once I made it inside, and past the security checkpoint, I headed straight to the Sant Ocean Hall. There, I looked up and came eye-to-eye with the 45-foot-long, life-size model suspended at the center of the exhibit space. Touted as of being “perfect down to the placement of every hair and scar,” (and frankly, who am I to argue that claim?) this culmination of a 4-year endeavor pays homage to Phoenix, the North Atlantic Right Whale, one of (what is believed to be) fewer than 500 remaining on the planet. Born to her late mother, Stumpy, who was killed in a collision with a ship, we learn that Phoenix has been tracked in her Atlantic Ocean environment by marine biologists at the New England Aquarium in Boston, ever since she was born off the coast of Georgia in 1987. And in a cruel ironic twist, this species of whale is aptly named “right whale” because, for whalers, they were the right whale to hunt given that they swim slowly, and they do so in coastal waters. And to add insult to injury, they rest at the surface, and float when killed.
And even though hunting has been banned for more than 70 years, factors such as pollution, habitat degradation, and declining prey may be impacting their numbers.
Now, aside from recognizing Phoenix — wherever she might be — I’m sharing all this to underscore the fact that, unlike rabbits, whales have a relatively long generation time. Consequently, this renders any prospect of coordinated random, blind, undirected mutations beating unimaginable odds, that much more difficult, read, impossible! And yet, architects of this materialist worldview, deem these mutations capable of naturally falling into elegant, near-flawless holistic design configurations that would eventually transform a pig-like mammal into a whale.
See, where I come from — that is, reality — this smacks of the miraculous.
Let me finish!
Even bacteria, which — to the best of our knowledge — possess the fastest generation time in the known universe, are yet to provide evidence that Darwinian macroevolution is not science-fiction. But, hold that thought!
Again, the sticking point here is not whether macroevolution is a real thing.
I mean, the fossils—imperfect as they are—certainly beg, if not scream for us to draw such an inference. I’ll give you that! But macroevolution without the intervention or guidance of some sort of intelligence?
Frankly, considering how potentially lethal it could be, there had better be some sort of intelligent agent monitoring microevolution.
On that front: from a Daheshist perspective, there certainly is, and every outcome is the result of our thoughts and deeds, whether in this life cycle, prior life cycles (again from the perspective of beings that are bound to a dimension molded by spacetime), or parallel, concurrent life cycles.
Anyway, and back to realm of plain, mundane reality: as it turns out, there’s a wealth of empirical data and rational arguments that challenge atheism, naturalism, materialism, reductionism, and scientism.
That is, and to paraphrase paleontologist Dr. Gunter Bechly, whom I will be telling you more about in a future episode, it is possible for a staunch Neo-Darwinian (atheist or otherwise) to change theirs views because of science, and not in spite of being a scientist.
Once again, and for the record, though the majority of Neo-Darwinists I know of are Atheists—though not necessarily militant atheists or anti-theists for that that matter— the Vatican has endorsed Darwinism. In fact there are prominent Neo-Darwinians who identify as Catholic.
And by the same token, you will find atheists and agnostics who flat-out reject Darwinism.
Now, for my part, and with regard to the detente between the Darwinists and the Vatican, I’ve already touched upon that interesting plot twist in Part 6 when arguing how reincarnation can solve, albeit asymptotically, the problem of theodicy.
I will provide a follow-up, when discussing Theistic Evolution, which, and if you will please update your schedules, has now been moved to Episode 9. You see, a funny thing happened following my visit to the Smithsonian: Somehow, the original Episode 7 script evolved into two separate episodes. Well, it was either that or serving you a 5-hour-long extravaganza! And while I’m at it, I probably should also mention that the follow-up Anthropic Principle discussion has been moved to episode 10!
Now, you know!
Anyway, back to the topic of whales: in Episode 5, you might remember my sharing with you highlights from a short story penned by Doctor Dahesh on the night of February 2, 1979, at 9:20 pm, Beirut local time, called “Journey of a Musk Rose,” which he included in his book titled Strange Tales and Wondrous Legends Part II, and in whose introduction he had written: "The stories in which I have mentioned incidences of reincarnation are not imaginary.”
Well, it might interest you to know that in the “Journey of a Musk Rose,” we learn that whales, are practically human! They are spiritually aware, capable of love, loyalty, honesty and they may even be prone to pathological jealousy.
And if you think this is absurd, which for the record, I don’t, wait until I tell you “why some whales lost their teeth,” according to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History, which might as well be called The Scientism Temple.
There, you’ll find a statue of Charles Darwin, and a quote from the last couple of lines from On the Origin of Species. It is prominently emblazoned, along with other select references celebrating Darwinian evolution, as though to exorcise the demon of Creationism, and it reads:
“From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
In fact, it almost feels as though the powers that be at the Smithsonian went to great lengths to make themselves believe something that sounds great in theory, but is highly improbable — if not impossible—in practice (and this is right off one of the backlit displays):
“Ancient whales probably moved to the ocean in search of food. Once there, some developed a new way to eat. About 38 million years ago, they evolved baleen, net-like plates hanging from the upper jaw that strain small prey from the water. It was a radical shift.”
As to: “Why did whales develop baleen in place of teeth?”
According to the museum: “The ocean cooled and upwelling increased, enhancing the growth of phytoplankton (tiny plant like organisms). Small animals feeding on plankton, such as krill, flourished. Baleen whales (mysticetes) may have evolved to take advantage of this rich new food supply.”
Huh… Well, I suppose, in hindsight, it’s a good thing whales — more specifically, the mysticetes— didn’t develop baleen before there was an abundance of krill. I mean, that would’ve been awkward!
Seriously though, over the past 40 years, populations of adult Antarctic krill have declined by 70 to 80 percent according to an August 29, 2016, Scientific American article by Andrea Thompson titled “Krill Are Disappearing from Antarctic Waters,” And whose subtitle reads, “Whales, seals and penguins could be hurting as this tiny creature--fundamental to the food web—declines.”
Now, do we really believe these marine mammals and flightless seabirds will eventually “adapt” in response to these dire environmental pressures? Don’t laugh! In theory, and by Darwinian rules, this could happen. And yet, no scientist worth their salt is willing to take that bet!
On the contrary, they will all tell you that if the situation worsens, these animals will go extinct. And that common-sense conclusion should make any staunch Darwinist wonder why (in this case) the early whales who first lost their teeth (ouch!), and underwent major structural reorganization to boot (double ouch! ), before blind, undirected mutations finally equipped them with baleen never went extinct between these painful transitions.
Seriously, think about it: how did the animals that had to wait millions of years for just the right adaptation to finally stick the landing, if you will, manage to survive — let alone, reproduce—while the body plans of selected, read unfortunate, offspring endured a parade of what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger mutations?
And, not for nothing, but shouldn’t the planet be littered with these fossilized fiascoes?
You know … the kind of stuff that Mother Nature could never live down? I mean, people still talk about the Ford Edsel, for crying out loud!
I’m sorry, what was that? Oh, they were probably too fragile to be fossilized … Oh, You mean like those fossilized, microscopic sponge embryos I’ll be telling you about in Episode 9, when discussing the Cambrian Explosion? Right…
Anyway, and as a recap: design is all about coordinated alterations and adjustments that lead to creating a solution to a problem—something that could never, ever, occur in a Darwinian universe, where design is purportedly an illusion, and nothing is created on purpose, and everything happens randomly, and only those random mutations that manage to be fixed, will be passed on in direct defiance of the second law of thermodynamics, read entropy—more on that later in the next episode.
In any case, you need a heck of lot more time and resources, read evolution fodder!
Remember folks, in Darwinism, Nature is out to get you! Have a nice day!
But let’s indulge the Museum and imagine that the only way this could have gone down, is for the teeth-to-baleen transition to have occurred, gradually, progressively, adaptively, randomly, and slowly—as in, over a long, very long period of time.
So long, in fact, that you could never ultimately test macroevolution (not microevolution) in a lab, and attempt to falsify Darwinism.
Now, I should mention Dr. Richard Lenski, an American evolutionary biologist, and a John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Microbial Ecology at Michigan State University, who on February 24, 1988, launched what would be called The E. coli long-term evolution experiment, which is — last I checked — still an ongoing study in experimental evolution at Michigan State University, and currently overseen by Dr. Jeffrey E. Barrick at The University of Texas at Austin. To make a long story short, this experiment, which was a practical solution to the fact evolution takes a prohibitively long time, produced the equivalent of over a million years in the history of a large animal species like humans, to paraphrase what Dr. Michael Behe had written in his 2019 book Darwin Devolves, which I’ve cited in Episode 6.
“So not only are there the big numbers of organisms from which to get real answers to evolutionary questions; there are more than enough generations for profound changes to occur too.”
Well, and here I am vulgarizing an otherwise thorough and fascinating chapter: they found out that the bacteria would undergo degradative mutation—that is, “one in which the loss of a preexisting genetic capacity improved the bacteria’s survival.”
Now, this is a big deal, and we need to talk about this. Again, the operative term here is preexisting genetic capacity…
Think about it: devolution for the sake of improving survivability flies in the face of the neo-Darwinian claim that we’re constantly progressing—that is, increasing in complexity.
Because, well, for one thing — and imagine you’re a bacterium — if you must “shed weight” as it were, and reduce your existing bacterium’s DNA code’s complexity (again you’re a measly bacterium; not a human, or a fruit fly for that matter) where did the original, more complex DNA come from?
To paraphrase an analogy offered by Behe, imagine you have this great-looking, fully-equipped, heavy car, but little fuel left, and you have to make it from point A to point B. So what do you do? You strip down the vehicle to its bare essentials. Therefore, you lessen the weight: you dump ballast if you will, and consequently conserve fuel.
Anyway, and as I’ve indicated before, microevolution is a scientific fact.
Daheshism, of course, tells us that there’s an intelligence switching on and off the appropriate genes, which are ultimately made of Spiritual Fluids.
Daheshism also tells us that nothing is random.
I mean, consider that every progeny is the result of “random” mutations—that is, “copying mistakes.” Otherwise, we’d all be exact replicas of either our fathers or mothers; I mean, talk about “send in the clones”!
And, as we shall learn in a future episode, Daheshism also supports the notion of extraterrestrial beings upgrading, if you will, human DNA.
In any case, and back to the E.Coli experiment that started in 1988, the bottom line is: they’re still bacteria!
But, nevertheless, we’re made to believe that if we could observe them replicating over millions of years, who knows what they might evolve into!
In fact, by Darwinian standards, many of us will have eventually spawned progeny with wings because although admission to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History is free, parking is a definite nightmare!
A WHALE OF A TALE
In the first edition of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life,” published in 1859, Charles Darwin made a bold extrapolation based on an observation by English explorer Samuel Hearne pertaining to black bears:
“In North America the black bear was seen by Hearne swimming for hours with widely open mouth, thus catching, like a whale, insects in the water. Even in so extreme a case as this, if the supply of insects were constant, and if better adapted competitors did not already exist in the country, I can see no difficulty in a race of bears being rendered, by natural selection, more and more aquatic in their structure and habits, with larger and larger mouths, till a creature was produced as monstrous as a whale.”
And so, Darwin floated the idea that the whale might have had a terrestrial ancestor—an idea, incidentally, he would begrudgingly omit in subsequent editions due to critics whaling on it!
Now, will all of you persnickety purists out there kindly note that I didn’t say Darwin claimed that bears could became whales, or give birth to them. One, that’s clearly not what Darwin actually wrote. Two, there is something called the law of monophyly, which basically says, and if you’ll forgive my laymen’s interpretation: a bear cannot produce a non-bear.
I mean, sure, a bear could give birth to a horribly disfigured mutant bear, courtesy of random mutations—remember those?
But … a whale?
No, because, of all things, that’s forbidden!
Apparently, mindless, blind nature, suddenly has standards…
Anyway, be ready to be called out by a Darwinian apologist should you dare suggest Darwin claimed bears can–could–may–might become whales.
Instead, say something along the lines of “Darwin speculated that distant descendants of bears could give rise to creatures that are more aquatic, and be similar to whales.”
Now, if you’re thinking, “You’re kidding me, right? How is that (at least in practical terms) not a distinction without a difference?,” you’d be spot-on! After all, the bottom line is that we’re basically talking about a really slow, really incremental bear-to-whale transition—assuming, of course the ancestor of whales was bear-like, which it wasn’t. But that’s a technicality.
As I mentioned a little earlier, it was purportedly pig-like; but, please don’t let a paleontologist ever hear you say it was a pig.
Listen, I get it. We architects have our pet peeves, too. Seriously, whenever I’m within earshot of someone saying “cement” instead of “concrete,” or “amphitheater” instead of “theater,” I’m like, “hold my T-square!”
So, and to recap, the official story is that the ancestor of the whale had specific traits that are only found among what paleontologists call Artiodactyls— more on that later.
In the meantime, the bottom line here is that we’ve got the case of a terrestrial animal, which, through successive generations altered by blind, undirected, random mutations, and fixed by natural selection, would gradually schlep back to the water, whence it came, to paraphrase John Noble Wilford’s May 3, 1994, New York Times article titled “How the Whale Lost Its Legs And Returned To the Sea.”
Wilford writes: “Ages after some adventurous (or misadventurous) fish left the sea and planted the flag of vertebrate animal life on land, their descendants had it both ways as amphibians and then completed the epic transition, evolving into terrestrial reptiles, mammals and birds. But something about the water must have kept beckoning, until a few irredentists among the mammals did eventually reclaim a place in the sea.
Most prominent of these mammals are the whales.”
According to this lavishly illustrated New York Times article, whose opening paragraph was clearly waxing poetic, new fossil discoveries would reveal “several of the critical evolutionary steps in the earliest history of whales.”
More than that, we learn that “Scientists have identified some intermediate species as land mammals steadily changed physical form while adapting to swimming, diving, feeding and otherwise thriving in their new habitat” with one surprise being that the purported “transformation of four-legged land mammals into an animal completely adapted to marine life took only 10 million years -- hardly any time at all in evolutionary terms.”
Then the article cites what Harvard University paleontologist Dr. Stephen Jay Gould had written in Natural History magazine:
"The embarrassment of past absence has been replaced by a bounty of new evidence -- and by the sweetest series of transitional fossils an evolutionist could ever hope to find."
One discovery in particular was “a remarkable smoking gun” according to Dr. Gould: an amphibious species “clearly intermediate between a terrestrial ancestor of whales and aquatic modern whales.”
More on that in just a moment.
In the meantime, and because this is a crucial plot point, I should mention that although Stephen Jay Gould was an evolutionist through and through, he was not of the Darwinian persuasion in the sense that he believed in the radical concept—he and Niles Eldredge proposed in 1972—called “Punctuated equilibrium,” which is the polar opposite of Darwin’s gradualism; that is, the hypothesis that evolution proceeds chiefly by the accumulation of gradual changes. In contrast, punctuationism states that (and here, I’m dramatizing), “No, the fossil record, for the most part, is not ‘incomplete,’ thank you very much! Rather, these so-called gaps clearly show evidence that life on Earth undergoes long periods of stability, punctuated by rapid evolutionary bursts.”
Therefore, 3 or 4 fossils as evidence of four-legged land mammals becoming whales in merely 10 million years (once again, a mere geological blink of an eye) would have been exactly what Gould hoped to find, as it corroborated a diametrically-opposed worldview of evolutionary biology in which evolution undergoes periods of stasis, punctuated by brief periods of rapid change.
And by “brief periods,” we’re talking only several hundred-thousand years.
In any case, unlike the Darwinian model, it does not proceed at a steady pace.
Be that as it may, and to-date, no one has ever demonstrated or replicated how such an accelerated evolutionary rate could occur—for one thing—without the interference of a human programmer, where computer simulations designed to wow us are involved! And as we’ve learned in episode 6, computer simulations that supposedly mirror the Darwinian mechanism, and consequently vindicate it, only succeed when — at their core — they are not Darwinian.
And for sure, we’ll be revisiting punctuated equilibrium in episode 9.
Anyway, and back to that one fossil Stephen Jay Gould dubbed a remarkable smoking gun, this purported intermediate between a terrestrial ancestor of whales and aquatic modern whales, measuring about 10 feet from snout to tail, was just “what scientists would have expected to find.”
Basically, “It still had four limbs for walking on land, though probably with diminished agility. It could also hunt in the sea, probably swimming by kicking its big feet.”
In other words, we’re talking about an alligator-like creature—probably designed by a committee, on account of its being a tad goofy-looking!
As an aside:
Please keep in mind that Daheshist position is that every creature is an amalgam of Spiritual Fluids that have merited their assignment, and as may be the case, their predicament.
But fair enough, we’ll get to what purportedly made this fossil animal named Ambulocetus Natans—aka, the walking whale—“clearly intermediate” a little later.
For now, I would like to recognize that it was excavated from sediments of an ancient seabed in Pakistan by a team led by Dr. J.G.M “Hans” Thewissen, in January 1994.
Shortly after, paleontologist Dr. Philip D. Gingerich would report in the journal Nature the finding of Rodhocetus Kasrani, an animal that “was the earliest known transitional whale with an anatomy adapted for swimming like a whale. It had a more streamlined body and a fully flexible rear spinal column, which could have produced the motions for the powerful beat of a horizontal tail fluke that propels modern whales.”
And for the record, although Dr. Gingerich said that Rodhocetus could have had a fluked tail, and although John Noble Wilford states in the article that “Whether Rodhocetus had indeed made this important advance cannot be determined until more complete tail fossils are uncovered,” we learn that Dr. Gingerich and his colleagues concluded that the evidence, "shows that tail swimming evolved early in the history of cetaceans."
Quick sidebar: Cetaceans are the marine mammals of the order Cetacea; they include whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
But soon enough, Rodhocetus would end up sporting a fluked tail! Talk about expeditiousness! Although, one can’t really blame Dr. Gingerich for fast-tracking Rodhocetus to whale status. After all, and to quote Dr. Thewissen from a 2007 Nature video: “ever since the time of Darwin, scientists have known that whales were descended from land mammals. But until very recently, about 15 years ago, the ancestors of whales were not known. And Creationists had a field day because there were no intermediates. In the last 15 years, then, a number of remarkable transitional forms have been found that document the transition and morphology of these early whales very nicely.”
Now, before I continue, I must cry foul on account of Thewissen’s assertion that “ever since the time of Darwin, scientists have known that whales were descended from land mammals.”
And I swear … expert paleontologists unwittingly sounding like sub-par philosophers of science is why we can’t have nice things!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there is a difference between knowing that something is true, and believing that it is? Now, the way it’s always been drilled into my head is as follows: knowledge implies a situation in which we perceive directly, or something we have direct cognition of.
Now, granted, scientists have known since the seventeenth century that whales and their kin are mammals.
But again, while they might have believed they were evolved from land mammals, this business of “knowing,” they were “almost certainly evolved from a species of Artiodactyls,” according to Jerry Coyne, would come much later. Indeed, Coyne writes in his (again) 2009 book: “how they evolved has emerged within only the last twenty years.”
In fact, according to a 2001 PBS video documentary: in about 1978 in Pakistan, geologist-turned-paleontologist Dr. Phil Gingerich found a peculiar fossil, which was the back of the skull of an animal he couldn't identify.
That fossil, which he eventually christened Pakicetus, was very similar — in terms of morphology and scale — to a wolf's skull.
In fact, to Gingrich's expert eyes, this fossil had surely belonged to a Creodont; that is, an extinct carnivorous, land mammal considered to be ancestral to modern carnivores.
Or, so he thought…
Apparently, there was something strange about this skull: on its underside, there was a walnut-sized bump, which was part of Pakicetus's inner ear, and according to the documentary it "had a distinctive shape. A shape found today in only one kind of animal: Whales. What was the ear of a whale doing on the skull of an animal that resembled a wolf? Gingrich was intrigued, so he constructed a model of what the creature's full skull might have looked like."
Gingerich then wondered if he had found a crucial missing link; that is, “the first fossil evidence ever found for one of Darwin’s most daring claims: that whales had evolved from land mammals.”
To know for sure, more fossils needed to be found so that they constitute transitional forms, showing each stage of the “whale transformation.”
“I want to line them up; I want anyone to be able to see it, and believe it because they’ve seen it,” said a resolute Gingerich.
Then, in the video we learn about Basilosaurus, a 40 million year-old creature already known to science, which lived full-time in the water, and — as it turned out — hadƒ small, vestigial bones — a pelvis, a knee cap, and toes even — that suggested at one point it had legs. Therefore, and for all intents and purposes, and according to Gingerich, “For the first time, we’ve got whales that have legs.”
We’ll get back to Basilosaurus because the Darwinian narrative states that if whales had indeed evolved from land mammals, they must have done so long before Basilosaurus, which despite questionable evidence, is officially considered a descendent of much older, amphibian proto-whales (as they are called) that lived some 53 million years ago, and whose fossils had been found in South Asia and other warmer latitudes.
Is Basilosaurus a descendent, though? We’ll take a closer look at that claim in moments.
In the meantime, the official story is that since Dr. Gingerich first discovered Pakicetus, “the list of known transitional whales has grown,” to include, in order of appearance on Earth: Ambulocetus, Rodhocetus, Durodon, and Basilosaurus.
Not only that, but these transitional forms purportedly reveal “another element of whale evolution: the gradual migration of nostrils to the top of the head, as whales adapted to breathing in the water.”
Alright, so in addition to fins and flukes for swimming, the nostrils gradually became blowholes … all without the help of any sort of intelligence agent.
Now, if that’s not a triumph for Darwinism, I don’t know what is.
Well, perhaps making sure that every schoolchild believes that nature alone was able to pull off such a feat requiring Lord knows how many coordinated mutations!
In fact, in that aforementioned PBS video, we see a group of eager young students on what appears to be a field trip to a museum of natural history, standing before Dr. Gingerich who can be heard asking “how did whales lose their legs?”
The camera cuts to a close-up of a student who answers “as the years went by, they evolved into newer…shhhh… types of shapes…” (the camera cuts to a closeup of Gingerich; he’s beaming with pride). The narrator goes, “Gingerich’s work demonstrates what Darwin himself insisted: that the evidence for evolution is all around us, if we choose to look for it.”
If we choose to look for it? Listen, PBS: nothing says this purported evolution wasn’t directed by some sort of mind, whose fingerprint is clearly visible in DNA … if we choose to look for it!
Again, this is not about whether or not evolution happened.
Rather, this is about whether it is conceivable for molecules to not only self-organize, but to do so in such in a fashion as to allow scientists to make predictions as to the type of fossil — even DNA — evidence they should expect to find, and which — in turn — would corroborate, read vindicate, a scenario even more absurd than one invoking the necessity of a creator, despite (we’re told) there not being any built-in, preordained logic or predictable pattern to the mechanism, all of which would be hallmarks of mind — perish the thought!
In other words, we’re talking about a mechanism that is unpredictable, (I mean, talk about chaos!) and yet allows one to hypothesize and boldly posit something to the effect of, “we predict that if Darwinian Evolution is true, then, whales must have evolved stochastically from a land mammal, because these leviathans possess anatomies that retain vestiges of the four-legged land animals, and unlike fish, which swim by flexing their spine from side to side, mammals do so by undulating their spine up and down”… and the preceding was based on the work of Dr. Frank Fish, who “studies how today’s mammals swim, and looks for their evolutionary heritage, in the way they move in the water” according to that aforementioned PBS video on whale evolution.
And another thing: the mass media, namely PBS, keeps presenting the story of whales as though the debate were settled, and in a manner that belies how puzzling, if not bewildering and frustrating the fossil record is!
That’s why if you want to know what’s really going on, you best read the peer-reviewed papers, such as the December 27, 2007, Nature article by the aforementioned Dr. Thewissen et al, titled “Whales Originated from Aquatic Artiodactyls in the Eocene Epoch in India.”
So, picking up where we left off a little earlier, Artiodactyls are a group of animals that include, Hippos, pigs, and deer.
And although there’s definitely a link between Cetaceans and Artiodactyls, things are not as slam dunk as the popular media makes it sound.
Granted, the fossil known as Indohyus (the closest non-cetacean relative of whales, which we’ll get back to a little later), “shares with cetaceans several synapomorphies that are not present in other artiodactyls.”
By the way, synapomorphies, in the context of Darwinism, are those traits that are shared as the result of evolution from a common ancestral form. More precisely, and according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: a synapomorphy is “a character or trait that is shared by two or more taxonomic groups and is derived through evolution from a common ancestral form.”
Please note the circular definition.
I mean good luck getting Merriam Webster to define a synapomorphy as merely : “a character or trait that is shared by two or more taxonomic groups,” without adding the bit about evolution!
Anyway, what are those similarities that make paleontologists insist that artiodactyls, became, as it were, whales? Here’s one paragraph from that paper. Please brace for impact, as the language is a bit on the technical side. But, fear not, I’ll be elucidating as we go along.
So, here goes!
“Most significantly, Indohyus has a thickened medial lip of its auditory bulla, the involucrum, a feature previously thought to be present exclusively in cetaceans. Involucrum size varies among cetaceans, but the relative thickness of medial and lateral walls of the tympanic of Indohyus is clearly within the range of that of cetaceans and is well outside the range of other cetartiodactyls.”
OK, so first, what are cetartiodactyls? (Which are not to be confused with Guitartiodactyls!)
In a nutshell, at one point experts suggested that the cetaceans, which are divided into two major classifications (the odontocetes, or toothed whales; and the mysticetes, or baleen whales) be grouped with their closest terrestrial relatives: the Artiodactyls—that is, even-toed ungulates, including animals such as cows, camels, and deer. That way, two superficially quite different orders of mammals Artiodactyla, and Cetacea, would form the order known as Cetartiodactyla.
[Crickets chirping… ]
“Really? What was that, and how is any of this is relevant?”
Well, for one thing, this goes to show — and if not to show, at least to seriously hint — that behind paleontology’s public image of sanguinity lurks an identity crisis!
In fact, last I checked, scientists were still debating over the concept of species.
More than that, apparently, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to the old question in biology “What is a species?” the answer to which is that there are over 26 definitions at play! Apparently, there’s a debate over which concept of a species to settle on. Some, like geneticist, evolutionary biologist, and author Jody Hey, who has written about the philosophical and historical aspects of the species problem, think that species only exist in the minds of biologists and their public—owing to people’s motivations and tendencies with regard to categorization. You know … pigeonholing!
There’s a punchline, and here I will quote, verbatim, what Doctor Dahesh, all smiles, and feeling sorry for the cardiologist who was examining him at the New York City apartment, a couple of days following the heart attack he had suffered while he and I were trapped in the back of a taxi cab amid bumper-to-bumper, Times Square traffic, whispered to me : “ما بيعرفو شي” … translation, “They don’t know anything!”
So, and this is the Daheshist perspective: neither paleontology, or any human endeavor for that matter, will never uncloak the mystery of existence.
Great, glad we cleared that up!
Next, the paragraph mentions the auditory bulla, and the involucrum.
Before going over what makes them crucial to the story, here’s an overview of what those are:
First, we have the tympanic cavity, which is an air-filled compartment surrounded by bone that is separated from the external ear by a thin tympanic membrane (that, the eardrum), and is in direct communication with the pharynx through a tube called the Eustachian tube, which, incidentally, we’ll get back to a little later. But, anyway, it’s that hollow bony structure on the ventral, posterior portion of the skull that encloses parts of the middle and inner ear that is of special interest to us, and it is formed by the tympanic part of the temporal bone. In many species, we find a highly complex, bulbous, hollow bony structure on the ventral, posterior portion of the tympanic cavity, called the tympanic bulla, or the auditory bulla. And, no, I’m not making this up.
In lawmen’s terms, it looks like a lopsided bowl, with a cavity in the center, almost reminiscent of a Henry Moore sculpture, with one really bulging side, called the involucrum, opposite which—that is, on the much thinner side facing it—you’ll see a squiggly, bony extension called the sigmoid process.
So, we have two noteworthy characters in the auditory bulla — plural bullae: consisting of one thick, bulging side called the involucrum, and another, thinner side featuring a squiggly extension called the sigmoid process.
With me so far? I’m so proud of you!
Now, let’s talk about the involucrum: first, as defined in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the involucrum is a “surrounding envelope or sheath.” But it can also be a layer of new bone growth outside existing bone. So this particular bowl-shaped, bony growth is thought to be exclusive to whales.
Thus according to Hans Thewissen, the involucrum is, “diagnostic for whales and their relatives, dolphins and porpoises. And is also present in all fossil whales and not in other mammals.”
Now, what about the squiggly, bony extension called the Sigmoid Process?
According to Thewissen, and in reference to the fossil of Ambulocetus — let’s not forget him, for he’s our “Smoking gun”! — “That character is a little bit more tricky because it’s present in all whales for its own reasons; but, it’s also present in some animals that are not whales.”
You don’t say!
We’ll get back to the sigmoid process and Ambulocetus shortly.
In the meantime, and moving along, the paper reads, “Other significant derived similarities between Indohyus and cetaceans include the anteroposterior arrangement of incisors in the jaw, and the high crowns in the posterior premolars.”
Alright, so the bottom line is that Indohyus has two characteristics, one in its ear, and the other in its teeth that we only see in whales. Thus, and so so far, this seems to be a slam dunk, until we proceed to the next paragraph, titled Characterizing Cetacea:
“Until now, the involucrum was the only character occurring in all fossil and recent cetaceans but in no other mammals. Identification of the involucrum in Indohyus calls into question what it is to be a cetacean: it requires either that the concept of Cetacea be expanded to include Indohyus or that the involucrum cease to characterize cetaceans.”
Then the authors write, “Characters identified as synapomorphies for Cetacea in some of our most parsimonious trees include: long external auditory meatus,” (incidentally, a meatus is a fancy name for passage or opening leading to the interior of the body), anyway, and so on and so forth, that is, they list some characters, then, they write, “None of these features characterize all modern and extinct cetaceans; the dental characters, for instance, cannot be scored in toothless mysticetes” (again mysticetes are the Baleen whales) then they write, “In addition, all of these characters are found in some mammals unrelated to cetaceans.”
So there are characters, which are identified as synapomorphies for Cetacea in some of their most parsimonious trees” that are found in some mammals unrelated to whales?
And so, aside from assuming common ancestry, how do they actually demonstrate it?
How is their conclusion that these are indubitably whales not based on their selecting or favoring the evidence that confirms their presuppositions—that is, their a-priori beliefs? In other words, this a textbook case of confirmation bias.
I mean, talk about pulling the whale over our eyes!
Oh, I’m picking on paleontologists, am I?
I tell you what—let’s get back to this business of the sigmoid process, and come to think of it, the apparent migration of the blow hole up the snout:
In one Dec 8, 2014, video segment published on YouTube by Thewissen himself, titled “Dr. Hans Thewissen introduces the walking whale Ambulocetus Natans,” Hans Thewissen reveals to Jeff St. Clair (host of NPR’s All Things Considered, who had co-written the script for the aforementioned video) that the skeleton of Ambulocetus that was hanging from the ceiling was in fact a reconstructed, plastic copy of the original, heavier fossil, which was, come to find out, incomplete.
“As common with fossils, we did not find all of it,” Thewissen said, adding, “We didn’t find the tip of the snout. We only found part of the forelimb and part of the hindlimb, and we did not find much of the tail.”
You know, this calls for an instant replay: “We didn’t find the tip of the snout.”
Please put that on the back burner, if you don’t mind!
“Well, if you didn’t find all of it, how did you build this? How do you know what to reconstruct,” asks St. Clair, to which Thewissen replies, “Right, what you do is look at closely related animals and you use their shapes to infer what those parts should look like.”
So, once again, Thewissen never found the tip of Ambulocetus’s snout, which is why, when St. Clair asked him (as per the script they both had written), “You know, I don’t see any blow hole. I mean, whales have a blow hole,” to which Thewissen responds, “That’s true, modern whales have blow holes, which is clearly not in this guy; but we don’t actually know where the nose opening is in this whale.”
How interesting that Dr. Thewissen would say that! We’ll get back to this later.
In the meantime, how do we know this is a whale?
“We know this is a whale because of its ear,” says Thewissen, who proceeds to place on the table a small “lump of bone” which is supposed to be the auditory bulla—that is, again, the tympanic bone of Ambulocetus—which supposedly features both the involucrum and sigmoid process.
And for clarity’s sake, he places next to it the auditory bulla of a bowhead whale and proceeds to point out how they identified that it had a sigmoid process, which, I repeat, Thewissen qualified as being, “more tricky because it’s present in all whales for its own reasons; but, it’s also present in some animals that are not whales.”
So, to recap, Ambulocetus, hailed as the walking whale, definitely (we’re told, although it’s not so clear from that “lump of bone”) had an involucrum like all whales, as well as a sigmoid process, like all whales and some mammals, though we’re not clear on whether or not it had a blowhole. Because, and let’s hear that instant replay again, “We didn’t find the tip of the snout.”
Now, let’s contrast this with an earlier, May 19, 2014, YouTube video segment (featuring an interview actually shot in 2013) titled Dr. Hans Thewissen Interviewed About Walking Whale Ambulocetus, and which is an excerpt from a television series called Evolution: The Grand Experiment, whose executive producer is Dr. Carl Werner, who had authored a book also called Evolution: The Grand Experiment, first edition 2007, third edition 2014, and who had received his doctoral degree in medicine at the age of 23.
In the video segment, which again was shot in 2013, Thewissen discusses, among others, the finger-like sigmoid process that all whales, dolphins, and porpoises possess—and this time, thanks to the extreme close up shots, we get a closer look at that same “lump of bone,” upon which the whole case seemed to rest.
Well, as it turned out, in this particular case, because (and in reference to the involucrum), “this one is somewhat crushed, usually it has a cavity in the middle” we can’t actually discern the bowl-shaped cavity, and the outside ridge, the alleged sigmoid process, is not finger-like.
Then Dr. Werner asks, “Now, is that sigmoid process unquestionable? Because on Packicetus there was some questions about that one; it was more like a plate or something.”
Again, if I may jog your memory, the discovery of Packicetus, the wolf-like fossil with “the ear of a whale,” by Dr. Phil Gingerich, is what led to the assertion that whales couldn’t have been created, or were the result of directed evolution, but had to have evolved according to Darwinian rules, from land mammals, within a span of only around 10 millions years.
Yeah, I know, the PBS documentary says, “why did it take so long?” Well, believe it or not, and in the big scheme of things, it’s didn’t!
Anyway, what was Dr. Werner referring to?
Meet Dr. ZheXi Luo, as we speak professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, who, from May 1995 to January 2012 was curator and associate director of Section of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
In 1998, he contributed Chapter 9, titled “Homology and Transformation of Cetacean Ectotympanic Structures,” which you can find in the 1998 book titled Emergence of Whales: Evolutionary Patterns in the Origin of Cetacea, edited by J.G.M. Thewissen:
In section 3.1 titled Pakicetids, page 283, paragraph 3, Dr. Luo confirms that “Cetaceans including pakicetids have only one unambiguous bullar synapomorphy that is absent from all non cetacean mammals — the involucrum.”
So it’s official: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but has an envolucrum, it’s a cetacean!
To paraphrase Dr. Thewissen, the involucrum is a very diagnostic character.
Next, Dr. Luo writes, “Other diagnostic characters. such as the sigmoid process, as discussed below, are now open to question in the wake of the new fossil evidence from Pakicitus and Ichthyolestes.” (Ichthyolestes, by the way, means “Fish thief”.)
In paragraph 4, he writes, “the presence of the sigmoid process has been widely accepted as a major diagnostic character for cetaceans” (and he references the sources, which include Gingerich et al., and Thewissen et al.).
But at the beginning of paragraph 5, he writes, “This character is equivocal.” And he goes into a detailed, comparative description, briefly explaining why the sigmoid process has become more a prominent, independent projection in cetaceans. And then we read, “In view of the new evidence from Ichthyolestes and Pakicetus (that the sigmoid is a simple plate, not S-shaped, and lacking the involuted margins)” … so on and so forth … until we get to the following statement: “the sigmoid process should be redefined as a systematic character, and its value as a cetacean synapomorphy should be reconsidered.”
And on page 284, paragraph 2, the first sentence reads, “The sigmoid process in pakicetids is a simple plate. Its edge lacks the involuted and thick margins of basilosaurids and extant cetaceans (By the way, “extant” means “existing). It does not have a “sigmoid” outline as in extant odontocetes and mysticetes.”
Again, Odontocetes are the toothed whales and the Mysticetes are the baleen whales.
Anyway, I hope this puts things into perspective—that is, it’s not a slam dunk, and the popular media has this tendency to cherry-pig—ooh, sorry, pick!—and sensationalize academic papers.
Although, scientists being human, they are partly to blame as well for enabling them.
Now, I’d like to go back to Dr. ZheXi Luo’s chapter 9 — or more specifically, the title “Homology and Transformation of Cetacean Ectotympanic Structures.”
Why? Well, because I’d be remiss if I didn’t broach of Darwinism’s hallowed topics —namely, homology.
And although, technically-speaking, you’ll’ve heard me mention homology — in context — briefly by the time this presentation is over, it merits a quick sidebar.
Now, to be sure, I’ll be deferring discussing it in depth until episode 9.
However, the following tidbit should hold you over:
The long and the short of it that species that look pretty different on the outside while sharing a unique physical feature, such as a complex bone structure or a body plan, may all have inherited this feature from a common ancestor. And so physical features — such as the forelimbs of humans, whales, birds, and dogs — that are assumed to be shared due to Darwinian evolution are described as homologous. Therefore, though decidedly different on the outside, if we look at their respective bone structure, we find similarity across these species, which suggests that it would be unlikely such similar structures had evolved independently in each of these species, ergo the likelihood of a common ancestor of humans, whales, birds, and dogs.
Well, it’s either a common ancestor or a common designer! And, who wants that, right?
As to why it would be unlikely for such homologous structures to have evolved independently in each of these species: consider the odds of getting one tree of life going.
Furthermore, please consider that this Tree of Life purportedly started off from one Universal Common Ancestor (that original life form whence all life forms evolved); which then grew a multitude of major and minor branches (and sub-branches, and what have you); which then led to the introduction of many distinct, subsequent Common Ancestors; which in turn were responsible for the panoply of creatures possessing physical similarities that are not necessarily homologous, but (wait for it!) analogous, being that they evolved independently in different organisms, in different parts of the same tree.
And yes … my head is spinning too!
The upshot is that homology is cited as evidence of evolution; and evolution is cited as evidence of homology. And so for Darwinists it’s either promulgating this sort of circular definition and —as we’ve learned in episode 5 — remaining steadfast in their a-priori commitment to Materialism, or — once again — run the risk of allowing “a divine foot in the door” to paraphrase Richard C. Lewontin!
Anyway, and back to the matter at hand, evolutionists really want these so-called whale fossils to be evidence of random, undirected, evolution that happened in around 10 million years, which is highly improbable. Aside from that, and as we’ll learn shortly, there might be a slight issue with the temporal sequence.
But back to the peer-reviewed paper:
To my mind, and I encourage you to read that Nature article by Dr. Thewissen et al, this is a clear case of, and here I’m dramatizing, “this is what we think—but, you be the judge… again, don’t let us influence you, or anything … we just want you, to decide for yourself… that, we’re right. Please! Because research funding doesn’t grow on trees! Well… not yet, anyway!”
So, let me tell you where we’re headed in this episode: based on the odds of failure, you would have to come to the conclusion that 50, 55, or a gazillion million years are nowhere near enough for a land-dwelling, grass-eating, cloven-hoofed — purported — ancestor to eventually — through natural selection acting on random mutation — give rise to the cloven-hoofed animals of today, and that later split into two branches; with one lineage leading to whales, and another lineage leading to the modern Hippopotamuses.
By the way, that bit about hippos is true: As though the fossil record weren’t mystifying enough, in 1985 when UC Berkeley's Vincent Sarich, a pioneer of the field of molecular evolution analyzed blood proteins, he saw a close relationship between hippos and whales. Therefore, and to quote Jerry Coyne again, “Biologists now believe that the closest living relative of whales is — you guessed it—the hippopotamus. So maybe the hippo-to-whale scenario is not so far-fetched after all.”
But then again: was this purported evolution directed or desultory?
And we can’t just simply conclude it was desultory because the alternative sounds absurd — because we simply don’t want it to be true — and then concoct computer simulations that rely on the very thing they are supposed to disavow:
For example, computer simulations where we try to simulate how nature allegedly brings about gradual, progressive, and adaptive change —blindly, no less, that is without the help of an intelligent agent — only to find ourselves forced to intervene, and ultimately guide along the program or simulation; because — surprise! — unless we did that, nothing but a proverbial, chaotic mess would result! Therefore, falling short of providing a less-absurd option…
Nor should we attempt to sweep the maths under the rug:
Despite mathematics not being on their side, (please hold that thought) Darwinians keep pointing at 3 or 4 fossils and say, “See? Here are the transitional forms, what more do you want?” glossing over the fact that, oh, I don’t know, aliens might have been involved? And if you just snickered, please refer to my talk, in episode 5, about the theory called Directed Panspermia, which was co-authored In 1972 by Francis Crick, who, a couple of decades prior, and along with James Watson elucidated the structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid—that is, DNA. In Directed Panspermia, which was championed by Carl Sagan of all people, James Crick and Leslie Orgel posited that DNA had to have had alien origins.
Oh, and get this:
In a December 4, 2020 Science News update by Maria Temming, we learn that in the years since scientists confirmed that the Murchison meteorite contained amino acids, primarily glycine, and that those organic compounds likely came from outer space (as per Science News, March 20, 1971; p. 195), Maria Temming writes, “amino acids and other chemical precursors to life have been uncovered in other fallen space rocks. Recent discoveries include compounds called nucleobases and sugars that are key components of DNA and RNA. The amino acid glycine even has been spotted in outer space in the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Such findings bolster the idea that life could exist elsewhere in the universe.”
Now, you can have all the amino acids rain down from the sky, and then some, that still doesn’t solve the problem of how they assembled into the first biological, living cell, thus making the leap from inamimate molecules to self-replicating life. Furthermore, and as I intimated in episode six: although the still-unsolved origin of life mystery and its alleged, subsequent, blind and undirected evolution are two distinct areas of research, the two are often confused.
Plus, and putting aside the fact the simplest biological cel bewilders biologists, just think of how complicated a problem it would be for engineers to convert a car into a submarine.
Better still, just ask Mrs. Blandings how unexpectedly complicated, and costly, it was just to install her “little flower sink.”
If you’ve never seen it, in the movie “MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE,” one day, Muriel Blandings, played by Myrna Loy, spots four pieces of flagstone left over from the construction of the porch, that were just going to be thrown away, and she asks the contractor, Mr. Retch, if he could lay them down on the floor of the flower sink and poke a little cement between the cracks, and give her a nice stone floor where it “might be wet with flowers and things.”
“That was absolutely all I did,” she kept pleading once she and Bill, her husband, played by Cary Grant, were presented with the exorbitant amount Mr. Retch ended up having to charge them, due to a cascade of structural, plumbing, and electrical changes that were needed for the floor to support all that additional dead weight, and for the drain to be placed! Now, I wouldn’t want to spoil the movie for you, and so you’ll have to watch it to find out what happens. In fact, as an Architect myself, I highly recommend you watch this movie if you’re contemplating building or renovating your house!
But, let’s get back to this pesky math problem facing Darwinians:
First, for a land mammal to successfully transition to a fully aquatic environment, you “have to have the coming together of a number of adaptations. And that is unfathomably complicated” according to Dr. Richard Sternberg, whom I spoke about at length in episode 6.
So, the scale of these adaptations is just massive.
Yes, I know, “It’s gradual; it happens in small, tiny steps.”
Hang on, let me finish:
First, we would have to remodel the skull and muscles and move the nostrils—so now they become blow holes. Then, we need flippers instead of legs, and reconstruct the skeleton in such a fashion as to include—and please remember that important detail for later—a ball joint that allows the tail to move up and down. Then, and in the case of the Baleen whales, we’ve got to convert the teeth into baleen—basically, a sieve so that the whale can eat. Oh, and we need specialized kidneys to accommodate for the intake of salt.
The lungs have to be redesigned for “extreme skin-diving.” After all, it’s not as though whales can carry SCUBA tanks on their backs in order to breathe compressed air. Speaking of which, all this repeated deep-diving whales and other marine mammals do must certainly put them at risk for Decompression Sickness (DCS for short), which is typically associated with SCUBA diving, and is the result of nitrogen build up in the blood, due to breathing compressed air. However, given how deep and for how long whales dive, and aside from the fact they eat professional deep divers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner combined, they most definitely—at a minimum—qualify as SCUBA divers, and thus are potentially prone to DSC.
Basically, DCS, also known as the Bends (owing to the fact you will soon find yourself lying on the ground, bent in a fetal position, writhing in excruciating pain should it afflict you, which is why you should never dive without proper training and certification—and welcome to another episode of “Mario Ruins Everything!”) is an illness that is the result of the rapid release of nitrogen gas from the bloodstream, which causes bubbles to form in the blood and other tissues when a diver either ascends to the surface of the ocean too rapidly, holds their breath while ascending, stays too long at certain depths, or any combination of the above.
The main culprit here is the necessity of breathing air that is pressurized to more than 1 atmosphere when SCUBA diving.
By the way, when skin diving keep that precious air in your lungs and don’t blow bubbles under water, for crying out loud. It’s what’s keeping your lungs from collapsing, which would be bad!
Remember that, when diving to depth, the external pressure on our bodies, which are naturally equipped with gas-filled spaces, increases around 1 ATM for every 10 meters (or 14.7 psi per 32.8 feet), which can lead to mechanical distortion and tissue compression. And divers know that the smallest instance of tissue distortion can result is something called, “the squeeze.”
For that reason, it is vital for us to breathe pressurized air (when SCUBA diving, or to keep the air in our lungs when skin or free diving) to prevent our chests, lungs, sinus cavities, and lest we forget, our ear drums, from either collapsing or tearing.
And in the case of our human ear drums and sinuses, this equalization occurs thanks to the Eustachian tube, which is a small passageway that connects the throat to the middle ear. And because equalized pressure is needed on both sides of the ear drum for the proper transfer of sound waves, and to not feel excruciating pain, it is crucial to safely “pop your ears.” One technique often used is to pinch the nostrils through the diving mask and lightly blow out against the pressure.
Now, though most marine mammals lack the frontal cranial sinuses present in terrestrial mammals, they do have inner ears, and inner cranium sinuses. And according to an August 21, 2006 Scientific American article titled “How do deep-diving sea creatures withstand huge pressure changes?” in some cetacean species, the general consensus seems to be that the middle ear cavity is “lined with an extensive venous plexus, which is postulated to become engorged at depth and thus reduce or obliterate the air space and prevent development of the squeeze.” Also, according to the article, cetaceans also have large Eustachian tubes communicating with the tympanic cavity of the ear and the large pterygoid sinuses of the head. “These air sinuses of the head have an extensive vasculature, which is thought to function in a manner similar to that of the middle ear and facilitate equilibration of air pressure within these spaces.”
So, basically, the insides are surrounded with a fleshy material that — it is believed — swells up as the wale dives, thus buttressing the cavities, as it were, preventing them from collapsing.
And most of us know how nearly-useless our human ears are below the surface of the water, which is five times denser than air. According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s website, “baleen whales have a wax plug filling their external ears. This plug is thought to transmit sound to the inner ear from the water. Because the density of the plug is the same as the water, baleen whales are probably deaf in air.”
Anyway, and back to the problem of the Bends, as human beings, we unfortunately are ill-equipped to handle pressurized air because, at higher pressures in the lungs, gases such as oxygen and nitrogen—even helium when used in diving-gas mixture—become increasingly soluble in the blood.
Now, while oxygen is metabolized, excess pressure will result in nitrogen and helium build-up throughout the body. Incidentally, and as an aside: helium is used in deep-sea diving, as it reduces the narcotic effects at high-pressure depths that are otherwise induced by both nitrogen and oxygen. You see, narcosis literally makes you drunk, and potentially fearless. And so, you are drawn to dive deeper, and deeper, hence the term Rapture of the Deep: The diving pathology, not the 2005 album by Deep Purple… you know, featuring Steve Morse on lead guitar! Anyway, adding helium to the breathing mix reduces this effect so that professional, deep-sea divers, also known as saturation divers, can think more clearly.
Now, all divers returning to sea-level pressure (which itself fluctuates, though by small amounts) must do so in a way that does not result in bubbles forming as the nitrogen/helium re-equilibrates.
In the case of saturation divers, some of whom must conduct saturation dives at more than 1000 feet, according to Jadon Anderson, a visiting instructor at of the Divers Institute of Technology, they must be protected from instant, grizzly death by being shuttled back-and-forth via pressurized bells: first to where they will be working for 6 hours at time, and then back to a small chamber, on the surface, which also pressurized to storage depth. And they must remain under these extreme conditions for 28 days at a time, while breathing an oxygen and helium mixture, and sounding like Donald Duck, or a Jawa when speaking.
On a very serious, somber note, and just to illustrate how risky a career saturation diving is, there’s a June 30, 2021 Daily Record online news article by Emma Gritt, whose headline reads, “Deep sea divers' blood boiled in seconds as bodies explode in grisly disaster”
with the following subheading:
“The harrowing Byford Dolphin accident of 1983 saw five men lose their lives in the most horrifying way 508ft below the surface of the North Sea when a compression mechanism malfunctioned, causing their bodies to explode instantly.”
And so, consider what follows as a public service message that will hopefully dissuade, once again, some of you from ever SCUBA diving without proper training and certification. to that end, please allow me to illustrate with a familiar analogy what getting the Bends involves: you know how when you pop open a bottle or can of soda, it fizzes?
Similarly, and in this case, nitrogen gas forms bubbles, accumulates, and saturates the muscles and blood, triggering excruciating pain and bringing on The Bends—a condition that can also cause injuries involving the nervous system, read permanent paralysis!
And once again, we’re going over the physics behind the bends because we’re trying to turn a land-dwelling herbivore into an full-time carnivore, by (a) imagining that Darwin never made a mistake in assuming that small genetic differences are somehow preserved, so that over the millennia intergenerational differences would accumulate, thus eventually transforming one species into another, and (b), and in the case of whale evolution, there was enough time for that to happen. In other words, we’re playing devil’s advocate.
Anyway, there are three ways divers can get The Bends:
One, by ascending too fast, which causes the otherwise compressed gases to be turned loose, as it were, which can lead to some of these gas bubbles being released into the arterial circulation, and cause arterial gas embolism.
Two, if the diver holds their breath after breathing compressed air, while ascending or swimming towards the surface. Even if they do so slowly, the air in their lungs will expand and rupture lung tissue, causing pulmonary barotrauma, which can lead to—again—arterial gas embolism.
Now, let’s say, as a recreational SCUBA diver, you do everything by the book, except that you stay too long at a particular depth:
Oops! You’ve just entered decompression diving territory, where—just like technical divers—you’re required to make one or more stops during your ascent to give your body time to safely release the gases (such as nitrogen) that dissolved into your tissues during the dive.
And so, if you ascend without abiding by the strict protocol that professional divers are trained to follow, it’s the decompression chamber for you, assuming there’s one nearby, you survive the intolerable pain, and are not permanently disabled by the time you’re placed—I mean, shoved—inside one.
Again, the deeper you dive, the quicker gas dissolves into your tissues, which is amplified by how long you stay at any given depth.
Under normal, “no stop” or “no decompression” diving conditions, as you ascend—slowly—the nitrogen gas in your tissues undergoes off-gassing, it dissolves into your lungs, and is expelled from your body through normal breathing.
Now, provided the amount of dissolved gas is within certain limits, you can ascend to the surface without any required stops. That being said, even in “no decompression diving” it is recommended you hover at 15 feet for 3 to 5 minutes — as a safety practice.
Now, like I stated earlier, whales don’t SCUBA dive. Rather, they freedive. And while it has generally been accepted that freedivers need not worry about the bends, please be aware that one is potentially at risk of getting the bends when freediving, that is aside from the problem of the lungs collapsing due to an increase in pressure. In fact, both human and whale lungs, which had been inflated to capacity at the surface, will have collapsed by the time a depth of 200 meters is reached. And yet, Sperm whales, for example, which feed on giant squid, regularly dive 1,000 to 2,000 meters deep.
“Wow, that’s deep!” you say?
Hold on: a 2014 study that used satellite-linked tags to follow the dives of eight beaked whales off the coast of Southern California revealed that the deepest whale dive recorded so far was made by a Cuvier's beaked whale, whose normal dive depth would be 2,000 meters. That’s 6,561 feet, 8 and 3/16”. However, this bad boy broke the record for diving mammals by reaching a depth of 2,992 meters; or 9,816 feet, 3 and 1/4”.
Also, according to that same study, the longest dive lasted 137 minutes. And if you think that’s impressive, according to a 23 SEPTEMBER, 2020, study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, which analyzed 3680 dives from 23 satellite-linked tags deployed on Cuvier's beaked whales, the researchers recorded two extremely long dives from one individual of 173 and 222 minutes!
In her article Secrets of the Deepest-Diving Whales, published on London’s Natural History Museum, Katie Pavid writes, “Around 2,000 metres below the surface, the water is freezing, black and seemingly impenetrable. No light reaches the murky depths, and no human could survive the crushing pressure from the water above. It is easier for a person to exist in space than it is to explore the ocean floor at such depths.”
Now, I don’t particularly agree with that assessment: based on my research, it seems to be a wash. Although, and according to an August 7, 2014, The Press and Journal/Evening Express, article titled, “Diver vs. Astronaut”:
“Saturation divers do eat better than astronauts: their food is prepared freshly on the outside and delivered into the chamber through a pressurised hand-lock, though many divers report taste is affected under pressure.”
Again, it’s a wash!
And so whales face two challenges: storing enough oxygen to hunt successfully and withstanding the enormous pressure.
Again, you have to imagine you’re Mother Nature and you’re designing—although, not really, because that would imply intelligence—the next best thing to a demigod; or… a Marvel’s Avenger.
Now, in terms of withstanding the crushing pressure and dealing with their body tissues becoming overly saturated with harmful levels of nitrogen, scientists do not fully understand how whales deal with these problems. Katie Pavid writes, “One theory is that marine mammals collapse their lungs in a way that forces air away from the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lungs that transfer gasses like oxygen and nitrogen into the blood.”
Now, this solves the problem of nitrogen bubble formation leading to decompression sickness. As to how whales can survive without air for so long: thanks to an overabundance, if you will, of hemoglobin and myoglobin, whales can store oxygen in their blood and muscles. Whereas, humans, on the other hand, must store it in their lungs. In addition, whales have the ability to reduce their heart rate and stop the blood flow to certain parts of the body, temporarily shutting down organs such as their kidneys and liver while they hunt.
Next, we need to equip the creature with the mother of all dry suits—that is, the layer of blubber for insulation in cold water.
Plus, we have to figure out where to place the ears; we have to modify the eyes, the skin, and, in the context of Darwinian evolution, reconfigure the male reproductive system—the most crucial and challenging adaptation of them all:
Because whales, which have streamlined bodies, can’t wear high-performance swimsuits in order to reduce drag on the body in water—nor can they wear boxer shorts, for that matter—we would have to move their reproductive organs from the exterior of their torsos, to inside their abdominal cavities. Once inside the body, we are faced with yet another design challenge: given their placement, which is a position where there are large muscle packages driving the fluke in order to afford whales underwater locomotion, which, consequently, generates heat, which is detrimental to fertility.
That’s right! Without successful reproduction, Natural Selection has nothing to… select! “Sterility means ‘it’s no go… you don’t count’ in the race of life, so-to-speak,” says Dr. Sternberg speaking on camera in a YouTube video called “Whale Evolution vs. Population Genetics.”
So, once inside the body, these vital reproductive organs must be cooled and kept below core body temperature. Plus consider again that when whales swim, they generate heat, which in turn will cause sterility unless some sort of refrigeration mechanism is designed into the circulatory system.
The solution? Transport and cool the blood in the non-insulated regions of the dorsal fin and the tail, through a network of veins and arteries forming a coutercurrent heat exchange system.
And so to paraphrase Sternberg: could we explain this remarkable, anatomically complex solution, which involves a “miraculous web of arteries and veins,” by some, “smooth, gradualistic, textbook scenario: little change, little change, fixation? No, it doesn’t fit the Darwinian model.” Sternberg opines that we’re looking at “just a suite of characters that had to have been integrated from the get-go. And it’s a non-gradualistic type of change,” he says.
Why? Well, consider that — on the one hand — the cooling system makes sense because we have the internalized reproductive glands. And on the other hand, the internalized reproductive glands are useless unless we’ve got the countercurrent cooling system. Dr. Sternberg asserts that we can’t explain the emergence of one, without the other.
According to the video, since 2001, Sternberg, who as I mentioned in part 6, holds two doctorates, one Ph.D. in Biology, and another Ph.D. in Systems Science, has “used widely accepted data on mutation rates and population genetics to study the Darwinian model for whale evolution.” In particular, he has focused his research on natural selection and the probability of coordinated mutations. And as a reminder, mutations are the genetic errors in a DNA molecule that ultimately bring about macroevolutionary change. To Sternberg, it all boils down to a numbers game, where one would have to explain it in terms of coincident mutations that “just happened to arise, and be put in the right combinations to reshape the vertebral column, to reshape the musculature, the nervous system, the eyes, the ears, and on, and on, and on, and on.”
Alright, let’s simplify the task and imagine that all we want to achieve is transforming a leg into a flipper.
Let’s say we need mutation (a) to affect the bones. However, and according to philosopher of biology, Dr. Paul Nelson, who also appears in the aforementioned video, when we think of our own limbs, “It’s not just bones… there are muscles and tendons and nerves, and associated behaviors…” he says, then pointing out that while one mutation—let’s call it (a)—may start the transformation, it still won’t be able to handle the task on its own. We’ll need (for example, and again we’re keeping things simple), mutations (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) as well. He says, “So, the challenge of cooperative mutations is to have these events occur in space and time, is such a way that they can jointly work together — cooperate — to bring about the transformation that you need.”
“Great, let’s dial up those mutations and the get the ball rolling,” you say? No problem, comin’ right up! Here… Oo, check this out: It’s a Bio-Morph slot machine; make sure you have enough coins, read, resources and time!
Now… uh, what’s that? “Life doesn’t work this way?”
Oh, but it does, according to Darwinism. Plus, you have no choice… you have to play!
So, go ahead, pull the lever to your heart’s content, and good luck getting just the right sequence of mutation accidents in the genetic material!
The fact of the matter is that population genetics calculations, which are highly technical, and mathematical, show there isn’t anywhere near enough time for just two coordinated mutations to take place, let alone 10 million years. In fact, there’s a peer reviewed paper you can look up on National Institute of Health’s—that is, NIH.gov’s—National Library of Medicine website, by Rick Durrett and Deena Schmidt, titled:
Waiting for Two Mutations: With Applications to Regulatory Sequence Evolution and the Limits of Darwinian Evolution.
This paper was published in 2008, and subsequently corrected in 2009.
First, let me briefly mention why it was corrected, and by whom: In their abstract, the authors write, “In addition, we use these results to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe's arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.”
As a result, Dr. Michael Behe, submitted his own paper to NIH, in 2009, in which he noted: “Durrett and Schmidt write that one of their aims is ‘to expose flaws in some of Michael Behe's arguments concerning mathematical limits to Darwinian evolution.’ Their effort, however, is itself seriously flawed,” and Behe proceeds to show where they went wrong, and… NIH published the correction.
Now, back the original paper, whose manuscript was submitted by Cornell University’s Department of Mathematics and Center of Applied Mathematics on Sept 30, 2007 and accepted for publication on August 19, 2008, and finally published in GENETICS in November 2008, right before chiding Michael Behe, the authors wrote, “Consistent with recent experimental observations for Drosophila (that would be a fruit fly to you and me), we find that a few million years is sufficient, but for humans with a much smaller effective population size, this type of change would take >100 million years.”
Alright, so if takes over a 100 million years for 2, just 2 cooperative mutations to be established in a population of humans, how does that square with the claim that a mere 10 million years are enough for the theorized evolution of a land-dwelling animals, into a whale?
You don’t have to be a math genius, or have a PhD in population genetics, to paraphrase Paul Nelson, in order to see where this is heading.
He says, “Even if I grant millions and millions of years, 5, 10, 50, 100 million years to bring about this transformation, you still face these very real limits of population size, mutation rate, generation time, and the number of features that have to be modified.”
“The bottom line, if this transition occurred,” he say, “it did not occur by an undirected Darwinian process. That simply is not possible biologically.”
Sternberg adds, “Darwinism provided an explanation for the appearance of design, and argued that there is no designer; or, if you will, the Designer’s Natural Selection. If that’s out of the way, that just does not explain the evidence. Then, flip side of that is, well, things appear designed because they are designed.”
Now, if you’re tempted to invoke an argument like Darwin’s Finches, please refer to — again — Episode 6, where I covered the topic of microevolution vs. microevolution, and debunked the notion that “microevolution/macroevolution is a distinction that no actual scientist makes.”
Again, we’re talking macroevolution.
On that front, and his 2017 book, Darwin’s House of Cards, the late Tom Bethell wrote that, “such a transformation has never been observed. No species has ever been seen to evolve into another. What scientists do observe is something quite different: reversion to a mean… reversion to the mean implies that species inhabit ‘plateaus’ of limited space upon which variants are free to roam. Artificial selection can ‘push’ varieties to the edge of the plateau, but they cannot be pushed off it or be made to invade the terrain of adjacent species. No experiment has shown us otherwise.”
Granted, and in the interest of full disclosure, while it is true that domesticated animals, which have been selectively bred and genetically adapted over generations to live alongside humans, gradually but certainly revert in character to their aboriginal stocks once they run wild, and as Darwin wrote, “in many cases we do not know what the aboriginal stock was, and so we could not tell whether or not nearly perfect reversion has occurred,” we shouldn’t overlook the main issue, which was perfectly summarized by Tom Bethell:
“It isn’t necessary to observe ‘perfect reversion’ to demonstrate that characters enhanced by domestic breeding are quickly lost in the wild. Darwin wanted to believe that he had discovered a process comparable to a journey that could be extended indefinitely, not just one of a few steps which are then reversed. Reversion to the mean suggests the metaphor of going for a walk, or going to work, and then returning home, as opposed to wandering eternally. In fact, having no home epitomizes the Darwinian worldview.”
A TAIL OF A WHALE, OR HOW TO GET A PALEONTOLOGIST TO HATE YOU!
On December 4, 1997, a debate moderated by Michael Kinsley, titled, “Resolved: The Evolutionists Should Acknowledge Creation,” took place at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, New Jersey, and which would subsequently be telecast on PBS on December 19, 1997 as an episode of The Firing Line.
During the proceedings, Dr. David Berlinski, who had made it clear his “interest in divine creation is negligible” posed the following question to philosopher of science and author, Michael Ruse, “where is the scientific theory of biology that you are proposing to endorse? Where is the theory?”
In response, Ruse asserts that, of course, Darwinism is a scientific theory.
“And the Mississippi is a river, but where is the theory beyond having named it?” Berlinski retorts.
“Where is the theory?” Ruse asks.
“Yes,” Berlinski insists, “Where is it? I've never been able to discern it. Simply saying that things change is not a theory.”
And after a couple of back-and-forths, Berlinski said, “with respect to the great, aching, global questions of life, where is the theory that you propose as an explanation? Does it go beyond the mantra random ‘mutation and natural selection’ or is there some solid theory that a physicist would recognize, that an engineer can implement?”
Ruse retorts that of course Darwinism is a global theory. By way of evidence, he cites, among others, Darwin’s finches (which, incidentally, once again and as I’ve argued in episode 6, pertains to microevolution, and not macroevolution, which is what Berlinski was trying to to get Michael Ruse to shed a light on). And if you remember, macroevolution is where the purported generative power of the Darwinian mechanism of Natural Selection acting on random mutations supposedly lies. That is, the power to introduce new body plans, which — and to paraphrase Richard Dawkins — reflect the evolutionary view of life as one in which (and I know I said this early on in this episode, but it bears repeating) “descendants can depart indefinitely from the ancestral form, and each departure becomes a potential ancestor to future variants.”
Therefore, we’re not just talking about different breeds of dogs, or cats, or finches whose beaks change in shape and size. Again, that’s microevolution; whereas, Berlinski was expressing doubt in macroevolution, the few whale fossils presented as evidence notwithstanding, a couple of which, come to find out, were apparently… how should I put this?… “creatively manipulated” by the paleontologists who discovered them in order to maintain the continuity of the whale evolution narrative; thus creating the illusion that these “missing links” showed a complete transition between land-living ancestors and marine whales.
Surprised? Oh, don’t be.
The practice of manipulating evidence to keep the world safe for Darwinism is not without precedent: In fact, let’s take the case of German Zoologist and highly gifted graphic illustrator Ernst Haeckel, who, in the 1860s proposed the biogenetic law, which posits that the stages that an animal embryo undergoes during development represent a chronological replay of that species' past evolutionary forms (to quote Elizabeth Holmes from her May 3, 2014 article titled, “Ernst Haeckel's Biogenetic Law” (1866), which can found on Arizona’s State University’s The Embryo Project Encyclopedia).
Basically, Ernst Haeckel's was a fervent Darwinist and played a crucial role in spreading Darwinian ideas in Germany, and his motto was, “Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny.”
Essentially, ontogeny (hence ontogenesis) is the origination and development of an organism.
As for the terms phylogeny, it harkens back to the system of biological classification still widely used by many, but not necessarily all evolutionary biologists (and more on that later), and which was invented by Carl Linnaeus, the father of Linnaean taxonomy.
Incidentally, taxonomy, whose root word is taxon, plural taxa, is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as the “orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships.”
Now, as a point of interest: early on, Linnaeus believed that a species was not only real, but immutable. However, and according to a University of California Museum of Paleontology web page, “Linnaeus observed how different species of plant might hybridize, to create forms which looked like new species.” Consequently, he “abandoned the concept that species were fixed and invariable, and suggested that some -- perhaps most -- species in a genus might have arisen after the creation of the world, through hybridization.”
In any case, his religious beliefs led him to embrace natural theology, which — as a school of thought dating back to Biblical times — would especially flourish around 1700, and whose core tenet was that it is possible to understand God's wisdom by studying His creation.
And so, in Linnaean taxonomy, organisms are grouped according to similarities and differences. For example, humans, same as fruit flies, belong to the animal Kingdom. Therefore, the Kingdom is the highest level of the hierarchy. One step below is the Phylum, plural Phyla, and in the case of us Humans, we belong in the Chordate phylum. Then, one step lower we have the Mammal Class, then the primates Order, then the Hominids Family, then the Homo Genus, plural Genera; and finally, the Sapiens Species. Hence, and in the interest of brevity, we say humans are simply Homo Sapiens. And once again, as I’ve intimated earlier, we are still debating over the concept of species. So, and aside from trying to get a perfect score on your biology exam, deep down, at a visceral level, I wouldn’t get too attached to the nomenclature.
Now, back to Haeckel: by saying, “Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny,” he essentially posited that if we were able to capture the development of an organism’s embryo in a sequence of images, and thus create a visual record of all the stages that embryo undergoes, a flip book if you will, we should be able to see a recapitulation — a visual reel of sorts — of its evolutionary journey. Therefore, according to Haeckel, who marketed this idea through his polished illustrations, which can still be found in biology textbooks today, human embryos (for example) undergo transformations that unequivocally show characteristics of their ancestors, such as gills and tails—essentially, the embryo would display a recap of its evolutionary journey, from fish, to ape, to human, you get the idea—and, very importantly, clearly showing (again, in keeping with Darwin’s ideas) a progression from simpler to more complex forms.
Fast-forward to September 5, 1997, the day Science Magazine published an article by Elizabeth Pennisi, titled “Haeckel’s Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered.”
The article reads, “Generations of biology students may have been misled by a famous set of drawings of embryos published 123 years ago by the German Biologist Ernst Haeckel.”
According to Michael Richardson, an embryologist at Saint George’s Hospital Medical School, who according to the article, “hopes, once and for all to discredit Haeckel’s work first found to be flawed more than a century ago,” when re-examining and photographing embryos roughly matched by species and age with those Haeckel drew, they often “looked surprisingly different” (according to what Richardson reported in the August 1997 issue of Anatomy and Embryology). Furthermore, according to the same Science Magazine article, “Not only did Haeckel add or omit features, Richardson and his colleagues report, but he also fudged the scale to exaggerate similarities among species, even when there were 10-fold differences in size.”
As to the aforementioned 2014 article available on Arizona’s State University’s The Embryo Project Encyclopedia’s online page, it reads, “Haeckel's biogenetic law was further discredited by the results of experimental embryologists in the early twentieth century. Researchers abandoned Haeckel's theory when they couldn't confirm his observations. Embryologists showed that cases of recapitulation were less prevalent than were the inconsistencies between the developmental stages of normal organisms from different species.”
“Forgive and forget. What’s the point of dwelling on the past” you say?
OK, first: Hi, have we met?
Second… Well, aside from the fact that Haeckel’s images persist despite the controversy they’ve stirred up, and with “Creationists at the Gate,” scientific materialists are very worried. And, consequently, some—as we shall learn—played fast and loose with the evidence.
Now, in terms of the materialists being worried… I read an interview conducted by Amada Gefter, and which was published in on December 14, 2005, by New Scientist, in which she asks the renowned Dr. Leonard Susskind the following question:
“If we do not accept the landscape idea are we stuck with intelligent design?”
As a reminder, The Landscape is the name Susskind would later use to refer to the Multiverse. And so Amanda Gefter was basically asking what will happen if no evidence of the Multiverse is found. Again, we’re talking about a landscape of billions upon billions of non-causally connected universes, each with its own settings as far as the physical constants are concerned, and where we happen to find ourselves living in the one that just happened to have the right calibration, if you will, of those physical constants as to allow the formation, and — lest we forget — the evolution of life; deity-free, all brought to you by… nothing!
Again not at all the Daheshist concept of the Multiverse, where everything is interconnected, nothing happens by chance, and every outcome is decided by a Divine Justice System!
Anyway, Susskind replies by saying, “I doubt that physicists will see it that way. If, for some unforeseen reason, the landscape turns out to be inconsistent – maybe for mathematical reasons, or because it disagrees with observation – I am pretty sure that physicists will go on searching for natural explanations of the world. But I have to say that if that happens, as things stand now we will be in a very awkward position. Without any explanation of nature’s fine-tunings we will be hard pressed to answer the ID critics.”
ID, of course, stands for “Intelligent Design.”
And now, on to the matter of the “fudging” of select transitional whale fossils:
It all started when I noticed a discrepancy while watching a June 5, 2014, YouTube promotional video produced by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, whose full title is, "Richard Dawkins: Show me the Intermediate Fossils! - Nebraska Vignettes #1."
Apparently, and during Dawkins's 2009 American tour, he and members of his foundation visited Judy Diamond's "Explore Evolution" exhibit at the University of Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln, which as of June 2014 had been "replicated in six museums around the country."
In that first vignette, Dawkins opens with the following declaration, "People often say, 'Where are the intermediate fossils? Show us your intermediate fossils!' There are plenty of intermediate fossils, and one of the best examples is whales."
And Dawkins had good reason for being confident in his assertion, what with the purported complete series of fossils discovered in Pakistan and India in the early 1990s, namely our old friends Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Rodhocetus, 3 key purported whale fossils that finally filled the gap between Indohyus (or “India Pig”), which was a raccoon-sized animal that lived 48 million years ago in Kashmir, and whose fossil evidence suggests it was fairly aquatic, and Dorudon, (or “Spear-Tooth”) and which was an ancient cetacean that lived a 41 to 33 million years ago, in the Eocene.
Therefore, and as I mentioned at the beginning of this episode, paleontologists, finally had what they felt was a complete transitional series that confirmed the gradual, non-directed transition between land-living ancestors and marine whales. In fact, during the 1997 The Firing Line debate, which we’ll get back to in moments, Dr. Kenneth Miller, whom I mentioned in episode 6, holds up a chart and says, “We have heard, over and over again, that there are gaps in the fossil record, there are missing forms. And it's been implied, the only reason they could be there is because evolution is not the explanation. I want to show you a very famous gap. It's a gap between Mesonychid mammals, land-dwelling carnivores that lived, oh, 55-60 million years ago, and Archaeocetes which are the oldest whales. We know from skull and dentition patterns, that as it turns out, these whales are very closely related to Mesonychids.”
At this point Dr. Miller, still holding up the chart, turns his attention towards Dr. Behe; and he goes, “And my colleague directly across from me, Michael Behe, once wrote, ‘if random evolution is true, there must be a large number of transitional forms between Mesonychid and the ancient whale,’ and much in the way that Dr. Berlinski has said, he said ‘Where are they?’ Well they're right here.”
Then Miller goes for the big reveal: “One, two, three” he says, as he sequentially removes the sheets of paper, thus showing three transitional forms, including a complete skeleton of the aforementioned Ambulocetus, which, he characterized as “an extraordinary intermediate,” thus echoing Stephen Jay Gould’s sentiment when he referred to it as “a remarkable smoking gun.”
Therefore, in 1997, the story was that within a relatively short span in terms of geologic time, 3 missing transitional fossils, and here they are again in case you’ve forgotten their names, Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Rodhocetus, somehow managed to appear on earth, through a process of random, undirected evolution. That last one, Rodhocetus, was even officially depicted as having a fluked tail, and a blow hole that was midway along its snout.
And remember Ambulocetus, our “extraordinary intermediate/remarkable smoking gun?” Well, it was originally depicted as sporting a blow hole that also was midway along its snout, despite Dr. Thewissen’s telling Jeff St. Clair, in that video whose script they both had co-written, that the tip of the Ambulocetus’s snout had been not found. But hold on to that thought while we return to the matter of the discrepancy—or discrepancies rather—I noticed while watching that YouTube promotional video produced by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science:
The first thing I noticed was that Ambulocetus was conspicuously missing from that large poster, titled Whales: Evolution from Land to Sea, and whose caption reads, “Today’s whales evolved from four-legged land mammals that lived about 55 million years ago,” at which Richard Dawkins was gleefully pointing!
After all this hubbub and hoopla about Ambulocetus Natans, why wasn’t it featured in that video?
And I might as well tell you that the only reason I made that special trip to the Natural History Museum, in Washington, DC, was to see for myself how the museum curators presented Ambulocetus. Well, guess what? Aside from the overhead fossil skeletons, I really had to look hard to finally stumble on a three-panel display titled “Evolution of Whales,” which come to find out did not feature Ambulocetus. Although, I did find it mentioned—briefly—in the short video playing on the other side of it.
That video starts off with an animation of Pakicetus; the caption reads, “Pakicetus, 48 million years ago, foraged in streams, 6 feet long, nostrils far forward, forelimbs function for walking, hind limbs function for walking, no tail flukes.”
Then, Pakicetus morphs into Ambulocetus. Caption reads, “47 million years ago.” So, in the space of only one million years Nature is able to somehow figure out how to orchestrate all the cooperative mutations necessary to result in goofy-old Ambulocetus? Although, honestly, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him if he still existed. That thing had jaws! Anyway, the caption reads, “Alligator-like, fed in the water, 14 fee long, forelimbs function for waking. Hind limbs function for walking.”
And although that video at the Smithsonian’s does show Ambulocetus’s nostrils to be further back on the skull (about 1/3 up the way) they don’t mention it, or draw attention to it whatsoever!
Back to Dawkins, he explains, ”Here’s a series of fossils back in time: Dorudon about 36 million years ago, Rodhocetus about 47 1/2 million years, Pakicetus about 48 1/2 million years. And you can see they form a lovely series of intermediates. As you go from old to young, Pakicetus, Rodhocetus, you’re gradually losing the hind legs to Dorudon, which has almost lost the hind legs completely. Modern whales have completely lost the hind legs. There are some vestigial bones, some remnant bones buried deep inside the body."
Alright, so instead of Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, and Rodhocetus, then Durodon, we now only have Pakicetus, Rodhocetus, and then Durodon.
So that’s one discrepancy.
The second discrepancy has to do the fact that whatever Dawkins was saying did not match the image he was pointing at. Again, Dawkins was saying, “As you go from old to young, Pakicetus, Rodhocetus, you’re gradually losing the hind legs to Dorudon, which has almost lost the hind legs.”
Now, obviously, based on the verbal account only, when you hear me say that the fossils named Pakicetus and Rodhocetus are "gradually losing the hind legs to Dorudon,” you would expect to see just that if you were standing there, looking at the poster: a gradual transition; that is, things getting smaller and smaller and smaller... again, expecting them to be “losing their hind legs.” Except that, in the video vignette, not only both Pakicetus and Rodhocetus are depicted with rather large hind legs— that don’t seem to be shrinking—Rodhocetus, which is supposed to be the intermediate between Pakicetus and Dorudon appears to have hind legs that are all but identical to Pakicetus's.
I don’t know… Maybe I’m not clear on what the term “intermediate” means in Darwinian evolution?
And yes, I did scale up Pakicetus to match Rodhocetus's breadth and girth. Trust me, I’m an architect, that’s the first thing I did! Anyway, technically, they're identical. Then poof, there's Dorudon, a basilosaurid that lived alongside Basilosaurus 40.4 to 33.9 million years ago in the Eocene, and which is starting to look closer to a whale, the silly tiny hind legs notwithstanding, and particularly in the tail section: In this case Dorudon, unlike its ancestor, Rodhocetus, sports a tail with the familiar flukes...
But wait a second!
How come in this particular 2009 whale evolution chart, Rodhocetus no longer has flukes on its tail?
What happened to the flukes?
Why am I saying that? So glad you asked!
I say this because I distinctly remember seeing older illustrations in which Rodhocetus is depicted as having a long, fluked tail, and flippers. In order words, Rodhocetus, the ancestor species, was made to look like more like Dorudon, the descendent species. Plus, let’s not forget that years prior Dr. Gingerich said that Rodhocetus could have had a fluked tail, according to John Noble Wilford’s May 3, 1994 New York Times article and that business of fast-tracking Rodhocetus to whale status.
So, what gives? What happened to Rodhocetus’s fluked tail, and the flippers that museum diagrams used to show? In the Dawkins video, Pakicetus and Rodhocetus have hinds legs ending with webbed feet.
And another thing, and picking up this matter of temporal sequences where I left off: what's the deal with chronological inversions also know as ghost lineages—that is, the common practice of ignoring where a species actually shows up and inserting it out of sequence?
For example, the drawings on page 50 of Jerry Coyne's aforementioned 2009 book, Why Evolution is True, features a "tree" depicting the evolutionary relationships of 6 chronologically-ordered transitional forms—or fossils—starting with Indohyus, and ending with Balaena, that is, the genus consisting of the Greenland whale (as defined by Merriam-Webster's dictionary). First off, Dr. Coyne writes, "There is no need to describe this transition in detail, as the drawings clearly speak—if not shout—of how a land-living animal took to the water."
Fair enough... Although, I probably should describe it anyway!
So, we learn that the sequence begins with, again, that raccoon-sized animal called Indohyus, which lived 48 million years ago, and is clearly closely related to whales "because it has special features of the ears and teeth seen only in modern whales and their aquatic ancestors." Again, fair enough, and incidentally, nothing that Coyne has said, so far, precludes there be a designer that directed the genetic mutation that would allow the transition from Indohyus 48 million years ago to Packicetus, which lived 52 million years ago... wait, what?
That can't be right!
OK, hold on a second… How can, Pakicetus, supposedly the descendant of Indohyus be … the ancestor of Indohyus? How does that work?
Oh, I see… Coyne says, "Although Indohyus appears slightly later than the largely aquatic ancestors of whales, it is probably very close to what whale ancestors looked like." Then we learn that Indohyus—who is positioned on Coyne’s evolution "tree" two to four million years before 2 of its ancestors, namely Pakicetus and Ambulocetus—is "not the ancestor of whales, but was almost certainly its cousin."
Yes, I know I sound as though I’m about to set forth the inane “why are there still monkeys around if we’re descended from monkeys?” argument!
By the way, technically, that’s not correct because as I’ve mentioned in episode 5, both humans and chimpanzees purportedly evolved from a common, ape-like ancestor.
But I digress! And Sure, nothing says an ancestor species can’t coexist alongside its descendants.
However, if I don’t have proof-positive that this or that particular species is in fact ancestral, and all I have is a fossil that is younger than its supposed descendants, and I up and move that fossil down, that is, earlier in the geological timeline than where it actually belongs, because, morphologically it would fit the Darwinian narrative—such as the case with Indohyus, which, again, might have been the ancestor of them all, but, we can’t be sure until actual fossils dating back to the appropriate date are found—my argument would be weak at best, especially that my only line of defense would be to say, “go ahead, prove that Indohyus is not the ancestor!”
Or, for that matter, that unicorns don’t exist!
And if you think that challenging you to prove a negative is bad form, if not bad science, as it would be tantamount to expecting you to accomplish the impossible, don’t blame me! Because if I did expect you to prove you to prove a negative, I would simply be emulating Charles Darwin when he wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”
And yet, Indohyus is placed right at the very bottom of that evolution chart.
That aside, and at this point, I have to ask… When Jerry Coyne says "almost certainly": what does that means in quantifiable, scientific terms? And what about the depiction of the transition from small bipedal dinosaurs to birds on his book's dust jacket's front panel?
How reliable is that, considering the book's back flap features a disclaimer printed in a red typeface, that reads, "The jacket depicts a chronological sequence of fossils showing the evolution of birds. We do not know whether the actual line of descent included the first three species, but the origin of modern birds almost certainly involved a sequence very much like this one" ?
Again, with the almost certainly...
Honestly, with a theory that is touted by materialists, and militant atheists to boot, as the path to intellectual fulfillment—to paraphrase Richard Dawkins—can we at least have a paper that describes the mechanism which purportedly only the insane would disavow?
Is that too much to ask?
Meanwhile, and on the back panel, Dawkins is quoted as saying, "I once wrote that anybody who didn't believe in evolution, must be stupid, insane, or ignorant, and I was then careful to add that ignorance is no crime. I should now update my statement. Anybody who doesn’t believe in evolution is stupid, insane, or hasn’t read Jerry Coyne. I defy any reasonable person to read this marvelous book and still take seriously the breathtaking inanity that is intelligent design‘theory’ or its country cousin, young earth creationism.”
And here’s Christopher Hitchens’s endorsement, “Its ignorant opponents like to say that the process of evolution by natural selection is ‘only a theory.’ (That’s how they prove their ignorance.) Jerry Coyne shows with elegance and rigor that it is a hypothesis that meets and withstands all tests, and strengthens itself as a theory thereby. One could almost say that it had the distinct merit of being true.”
Again, and save for the unfalsifiable, though highly creative and imaginative extrapolation based on a gap-riddled record, that theses fossils “almost certainly” form a transitional sequence, what “tests” was Hitchens referring to that confirm the hypothesis that claims, for example, that birds “almost certainly” descended from theropods, through an undirected, blind, and random process?
I mean, once again and not to put too fine a point on it, directed mutation is scary enough, let alone one that is left to the whims of “dumb luck.”
The fact remains that no one, not a single soul, knows what manner of unguided mechanism could have made that happen. And if they did, and to paraphrase the late Philip Johnson (the law professor, not the architect), I wish they’d “publish the paper on it because I'd love to see it torn to bits.”
Let me give you another example: we've all been told that Archaeopteryx is an intermediate fossil between coelurosaurs, which are theropods—that is, small bipedal dinosaurs—and birds.
In his 2004 book, Missing Links: Evolutionary Concepts and Transitions Through Time, page 153, in the section titled "Origin of Flight," Dr. Robert A. Martin writes, "The small coelurosaurian dinosaurs related to Archaeopteryx all occur in the fossil record after Archaeopteryx and so cannot be directly ancestral, although as Kevin Padian has shown, small delicate theropods existed in North America about the same time as Archaeopteryx in the Old World. However, no early generalized archosaurs are known that could be a common ancestor to both dinosaurs and birds, so the dissident camp, those who are against a dinosaur-bird (ground-up) ancestry, cannot point to obvious bird ancestors either."
In other words, the jury is out!
Furthermore, apparently the official story that Basilosaurus (remember him?) lived 40 million years ago, which means it was a descendent of proto-whales, in not necessarily accurate!
Can I say “almost certainly inaccurate”? Hm…
First, let me share with you highlights from an October 11, 2011 Associated Press press release by Michael Warren, titled, “Ancient whale jawbone found in Antarctica”
“BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—The jawbone of an ancient whale found in Antarctica may be the oldest fully aquatic whale yet discovered, Argentine scientists said Tuesday.
A scientist not involved in the find said it could suggest that whales evolved much more quickly from their amphibian precursors than previously thought.
Argentine paleontologist Marcelo Reguero, who led a joint Argentine-Swedish team, said the fossilized archaeocete jawbone found in February dates back 49 million years.”
According to Reguero, this jawbone belongs to the Basilosauridae group of fully aquatic whales, thus making "The relevance of this discovery is that it's the oldest known completely aquatic whale found yet,"
The Associate Press article states that, in evolutionary terms, 49 million years is not far off of even older, amphibian, proto-whales from 53 million years ago that had been found in South Asia and other warmer latitudes.
And so to paraphrase University of Chicago Paleontologist Dr. Paul Sereno—who wasn't involved in the research—if the new find “withstands the scrutiny of other scientists, it will suggest that archaeocetes evolved much more quickly than previously thought from their semi-aquatic origin in present-day India and Pakistan.”
Now, aside from the fact that this begs the question as to how such an accelerated, undirected, blind evolution took place without, oh, I don’t know… a miracle? This clearly torpedoes the claim that Basilosaurus went into service after Rodhocetus and Durodon.
And if may jog your memory, Indohyus, the purported ancestor of them all lived 48 million years ago. Therefore the assertion that cetaceans began as more terrestrial than aquatic is not supported by the evidence!
But, let’s say, for whatever reason, you’re dubious about getting your information from popular media, even if that means getting it from The Associated Press, because you feel it’s outdated!
Fair enough, in that case you can always study papers published by other experts in the field, and there are plenty out there. One in particular, is a March 2016 paper by Dr. MÓNICA ROMINO BUONO, et al, titled EOCENE BASILOSAURID WHALES FROM THE LA MESETA FORMATION, MARAMBIO (SEYMOUR) ISLAND, ANTARCTICA. It’s very thorough… and where’re you goin’? Sit down, we’re about to get to the good stuff!
Anyway, that paper the authors make it clear that there several possible dates for the Basilosaurid fossil found in Antartica. And depending on the study, (and here we learn about research done by Dutton et. al, Ivan et al, Douglas et al, Brinkhuis et al., Bijl et al, and others) we literally are spoilt for choice! Some studies, such as the Dutton 2002 study, is very broad and covers anywhere from 55 to 46 million years ago. Others are more constrained, and hover around the vicinity of 49 million years, which is again problematic given that it would make it impossible for Basilosaurus to be a descendent; and others place the Basilosaurids where evolutionists expect to see them.
And it ultimately comes down to which dating method is used: Biostratigraphy, that is, a relative dating method, or the more reliable Absolute Dating (such as radiometric dating or Magnetostratigraphy, which, incidentally, is (because I’m sure you’re dying to know) “a technique that uses the record of the polarity reversals of the Earth's magnetic field registered in sedimentary and/or volcanic rocks as a correlation and dating tool” to quote what Giovanni Muttoni wrote in Volume 1 of Encyclopedia of Geology (Second Edition), 2021.
Now, before I get to the punchline, I should mention that I originally learned about this paper from a July 1, 2020, YouTube video produced by Discovery Science, titled Whale Evolution: A Rebuttal, which was created to respond to some critiques to their Long Story Short video on whale evolution. I highly recommend you watch them, if you haven’t done so already!
And for the record, I couldn’t find any information about the video’s “animator.” However, in an Evolutionnews.org April 23, 2020, article titled Whale of a Webinar Debuts a Delightful “Long Story Short” Video, David Klinghoffer, writes about a “surprise guest, the video’s animator, who here goes by a first name only, Evan, for reasons you can imagine: even an animator has to worry that Darwinists will try to destroy him professionally (as they sought to do to Dr. Sternberg).” Incidentally, you might remember my telling you about what happened to Dr. Sternberg, and others, in episode 6.
Anyway, and back to the video: Evan—we shall call him—who conducted a thorough review of the Buono paper and took all the numbers representing myriad ranges of possible dates, and the various geological dating methods for granted, lined up the studies that were referenced in the Buono paper and others, and what he found was that they almost all of them converged on that 49 million years date quoted in the Associated Press article. And that is a problem for the Darwinian model because, “fully aquatic whales should not have lived that early.” And according to Evan, the authors of the Buono paper chose “the dates of 40 to 46 million years ago, not necessarily because that’s where the data converge, (it isn’t), but, because—as they say— it is ‘more consistent with the published stratigraphic record of basilosaurids elsewhere.’ ”
As Evan put it, “Their conclusions are being skewed by evolutionary presuppositions,” concluding that “this fossil still casts a huge shadow over the entire timeline, their overly optimistic conclusions notwithstanding.”
Anyway, lI promised you a punchline. So, let’s get back to why we no longer see flukes on the tail of Rodhocetus, and this business of “whatever happened to Ambulocetus?”
For that, I’ll first give you some highlights from an April 7, 2014 (Updated August 28, 2017) press release available on TheGrandExperiment.com.
“Whales with four legs, walking on land, are currently considered one of the best fossil proofs of evolution, but now this evidence has collapsed according to science documentary maker Dr. Carl Werner. After interviewing the two scientists who reconstructed the fossils of the three famous walking whales, Rodhocetus, Pakicetus and Ambulocetus, Dr. Werner has concluded that scientists created false models of these skeletons and skulls and passed them off to museums.”
That list includes the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo, the Paris Natural History Museum, and others. And incidentally, this may no longer be the case, and all these museums might have taken the necessary corrective measures. In fact, and in the interest of full disclosure, the press release states that, “When Dr. Werner began questioning Dr. Thewissen about the shape of the skull and missing fossil parts, Thewissen retracted the entire blowhole idea even though he had supplied the world’s top museums with skeletons having blowholes.”
Now, why does that ring a b… Oh, that’s right! Has the Smithsonian picked up on this? Because that short animation I saw on their video display needs a little bit of editing!
Next, let’s talk about Rodhocetus, which you might remember was discovered by Dr. Gingerich in 1994, and that according to the official story he was a “walking whale,” equipped with a fluke and front flippers. Now, when, in 2001, the aforementioned Dr. Carl Werner, author and executive producer of Evolution: The Grand Experiment, visited the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, he noticed a discrepancy between museum renderings of Rodhocetus and the actual fossils. Basically, the reconstruction showed Rodhocetus having a tail fluke, whereas the fossils clearly didn’t.
Consequently, in a May 19, 2014, YouTube video clip titled Dr. Phil Gingerich Interview About Rodhocetus, Dr. Werner poses the following question to Dr. Gingerich,“what was the reasoning that the scientists think there was a fluke on Rodhocetus based on the other pieces of anatomy?”
Dr. Gingerich responds, “Well, I told you we don’t have the tail in Rodhocetus. So we don’t know for sure whether it had a ball vertebra indicating a fluke or not. So I speculated it might’ve had a fluke.”
Then the narrator of the video adds, “Scientist Gingerich also acknowledged that the flippers were drawn on the diagram without these fossils. Now, he does not believe this animal had flippers.” Meanwhile, and at the time of this interview, the museum diagrams on display at the Museum of Paleontology at the University of Michigan, which had been directed by Dr. Gingerich—and whose notable student I might add was Hans Thewissen—still had flippers on them.
Once again, on camera, Gingerich says, “Now, since then, we’ve found the forelimbs… the hands and the front arm—the arms in other words of Rodhocetus—and we understand that it doesn’t have the kind of arms that can be spread out like flippers are on a whale…” (then camera does a split-second cross fade to the same close up of Gingerich saying) “and if you don’t have flippers, I don’t think you can have a fluke tail, and really powered swimming. And so… I now doubt that Rodhocetus would have had a fluked tail.”
So, once again, whales are supposed to be the best fossil evidence for evolution, despite these discrepancies. And even if these discrepancies didn’t exist, and considering the odds stacked against a spontaneous chemical origin of life, and its alleged subsequent evolution through an undirected, blind, random, mindless, stochastic shuffle of element, I fail to see what would preclude creation or directed evolution.
And to think, professional lives were ruined because of shenanigans like these! Alright, so how unreasonable would it be to inquire about the sort of undirected, blind, and mindless mechanism (emphasis on mechanism) that could induce a land-dwelling, grass-eating animal to undergo—through reproduction, thus, descent with modification—slow, cumulative changes that would ultimately lead to the introduction of an ocean-roaming, krill-eating Baleen Whale?
Well let’s find out, shall we?
“And now, back to our regularly-scheduled, proverbial boxing match!”
At some point during the aforementioned The Firing Line debate, Dr. David Berlinski asked paleontologist Dr. Eugenie Scott, the then director of the “National Center for Science Education,” the following first question:
Berlinski: “Would you agree, as almost everyone else affirms, that the overwhelming pattern of the fossil record is sharply discontinuous?”
“Sure it's discontinuous,” Scott responds.
Berlinski: “Okay, so we agree on that. Could I ask you to give us your best estimate of the number of changes required to take a dog-like mammal to a sea-going whale?”
Now, instead of remaining on topic, never mind providing an answer, Dr. Scott pivots and deflects by referring to an earlier exchange with the late Philip E. Johnson, who at the time was a law professor at UC Berkeley, and whose 1991 book, Darwin on Trial, argued that neo-Darwinian theory evolution was not shored up by scientific evidence, rather by a philosophy of naturalism.
And so Eugenie Scott, felt this sudden urge to disambiguate the term “evolution” because, obviously people like Michael Behe, David Berlinski, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Philip E. Johnson needed to be edumacated on the matter… funny, really, when you consider that just earlier, she coyly declined, when prompted by the moderator, to define the term “adaptive differential reproduction,” which she, alone employed during the almost-two-hour-long program.
For context, in that instance, David Berlinski was debating Barry Lynn, the then executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who not only was a lawyer, but a United Church of Christ ordained minister, and (wait for it) a Darwinian (again, as stated in the last episode, not all Darwinians are atheists, anti-theists, or agnostics. Many, in fact, are believers, and in the case of Kenneth Miller, self-professed Catholics!)
In any case, a puzzled Barry Lynn was asking Berlinski why he didn’t “seem to understand that different ecological environments in the distant past, as well as today, produce different adaptations,” to which Berlinski said, “You're right, I don't understand it. It makes no sense scientifically.”
Incredulous, Barry Lynn presses on, with Berlinski pushing back, finally saying, “It's always easy to persuade yourself that you've understood something when you haven't understood a thing. The issue before us is not whether retroactively we can explain an adaptation, but whether we can draw that adaptation from general principles.”
He added that this is what Darwinian theory cannot do, though it is the requirement of normal science. Berlinski then said, “If I'm doing astrophysics I have a dynamical theory. I can simulate the evolution of the universe and I know where the theory agrees with the data and where it does not. I cannot do that in biology. Whatever happens, happens.”
Barry Lynn retorts, insisting that random selections which make a species more likely to survive are beneficial, and, “That's a very simple idea and it explains why in fact some species survive and others do not.”
Thus, effectively missing Berlinski’s point, which he had expressed in his opening statement; that is, “The mechanism that Darwin proposed, that of random search or a stochastic shuffle is known to be inadequate in every domain in which it's applied. It's known to be inadequate in linguistics, and it's certainly inadequate when it comes to the overwhelming complexity of living forms. There is no reason on earth to believe that this mechanism is adequate to the task that it sets itself.”
Consequently, Eugenie Scott jumps in and exclaims, “I mean, adaptive differential reproduction is the definition of natural selection. Why is this a problem? Why is this a problem?”
Berlinski retorts, “Que sera sera. What will happen, will happen. That could not be the locus in which you repose your trust. What will happen, will happen. Big deal.”
Eugenie Scott retorts back, “No, no, no, that's not -- No, adaptive differential reproduction is not "what will happen, will happen."
Berlinski goes, “That’s just a large Latinate construction.”
At that point, moderator Michael Kinsley cuts in: “Explain -- why don't you explain what that term means.”
Eugenie Scott, who felt the need to use the term twice, responds, “Well, I don't know, it may just -- it may not necessarily enlighten our listeners actually because it is technical. But that's the whole point.”
Berlinski goes, “It's not technical. It's just means what survives, survives. We know that.”
Eugenie Scott then — and to my ears — makes a declaration implying that David Berlinski, a self-professed agnostic, who unapologetically defends Intelligent Design’s right to be heard without — ever — actually endorsing it, is a creationist! She says, “One of the reasons -- one of the reasons why people like me who deal with the creation-evolution issue all the time, get very frustrated dealing with say, Institute for Creation Research people and so forth, is because they are constantly saying "X" didn't happen, and then it takes a great deal longer to explain why "X" did happen, gaps in the fossil record or whatever.”
Then, using mild sarcasm, Dr. Scott tries to turn the tables on Berlinski by reminding him that, in his Commentary article, The Deniable Darwin, he mentioned that the major transitional sequences in the fossil record were incomplete, based on “Romer’s hot-off-the-press 1966 article.”
Dr. Scott: “Romer is a very great man and very knowledgeable. 1966 is not exactly cutting-edge paleontology. Are you familiar sir…”
Dr. Berlinski interjects: “You're absolutely right. Let's turn to Carroll”
Dr. Scott cuts him off and asks him if he was familiar with the research that's been done in the last 31 years.
Dr. Berlinski goes, “Hm, hm.”
Dr. Scott, who was clearly unfamiliar with Berlinski’s apparent photographic memory, says “I can't imagine that [audience chuckles] because you would realize that the major argument going on among paleontologists dealing with the reptile-mammal transition is, where the hell do you draw the line? These things grade insensibly into each other --“
Berlinski: “Is there a question that I can answer?”
Scott: “-- and they have no ability to say, these guys are mammals, these guys are reptiles, because they roll into each other. “
Berlinski, who was neither reading off his notes or a teleprompter answers the non-question: “Yes, I agree with the tail-end of your question, late reptilian transition to mammal is well documented in the record, although nowhere near as well as Darwinian theory requires. That's a big distinction. But if you dislike the citation to Romer who's a great figure in paleontology, let's look at Carroll's new book on chordate paleontology, hot-off-the-presses, page 4, left side of the page, Evolution heading, third paragraph, second sentence, what does he say? He says the evidence shows that major transitions are missing from the fossil record just as Eldredge, Gould, and Stanley claim.”
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, and because I simply had to see for myself, I did look up Robert Lynn Carroll’s 1988 book, Vertebrate Paleontology, and lo and behold, on page 4, though on the right side of the page, Evolution heading, the third paragraph reads:
“Perhaps we should not be surprised that vertebrate paleontologists did not support the prevailing view of slow, progressive evolution but tended to elaborate theories involving saltation, orthogenesis, or other vitalistic hypotheses.”
Now, before I continue quoting that 3rd paragraph, let’s go over some of the terms:
Saltation: is basically leaping or jumping; and in the context of evolution, that goes against a doctrine of gradual, cumulative, step-by-step transformations.
Orthogenesis: also known as straight-line evolution, is where, and according to Encyclopedia Brittanica, “the features developed in the orthogenetic group appear to have little if any adaptive value and may even be markedly disadvantageous.” In other words, and according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, there is a predestined direction resulting in progressive evolutionary trends independent of an external factors.
As for Vitalism: Merriam-Webster’s dictionary provides 2 definitions: (1) a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces, and (2) a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining.
In other words, and if I may paraphrase, life is a mystery — although, we really can’t say there’s a Creator — and Darwinism doesn’t really make a lot of sense. I mean, sure, as a work of science fiction: it’s fantastic! But… scientifically-speaking? Yeah… Oh, look, bunnies! What? I mean, it is a rabbit hole!
That said, Carroll, whose academic advisor was Alfred Sherwood Romer—incidentally— continues, “Most of the evidence provided by the fossil record does not support a strictly gradualistic interpretation as pointed out by Eldredge and Gould (1972), Gould and Eldredge, (1977), Gould (1985), and Stanley (1979, 1982).”
By the way, this all goes to what I will cover in this episode 9; formerly episode 8; namely, “Punctuated Equilibrium.”
Anyway, back to Eugenie Scott pivoting away from Berlinski’s question about whales, she claimed that the argument that has been presented so frequently on Berlinski’s side of the table is “all one has to do is disprove Darwinism, and they will have disproven evolution,” which to her was nonsense.
Yeah, but not if Darwinism equals undirected evolution. I mean, nobody on my side of the table is trying to disprove evolution; we’re just shellacking Darwinism!
Meanwhile, Berlinski, who was unable to get a word in edgewise, was going, “No, no, no. I'm trying to anchor the discussion in something factual and concrete like a number.”
Unabated, a now filibustering Dr. Scott goes, “Why do you assume that the fossils are the only source of data for evolution?”
Berlinski: “I certainly don't, you're absolutely right. But I'm talking about the whale, all right? Large sea-going mammal. The thesis is: that there's a Darwinian progression, and the evidence is three or four intermediates. I'm asking you to give us your best estimate of the number of changes required to take a dog-like mammal to a sea-- ”
Scott: “The number of genetic changes?”
Berlinski: “-- morphological, physiological, just give us a number. Is it three, is it ten--”
Scott: “That's an absurd question.”
Scott: “None of us, none of us on the evolution side of this argument has ever proposed that we can come up with ‘the number of changes;’ that's a ridiculous question!”
Berlinski: “Then how on earth can you commend the mechanism, if you are unsure whether it's adequate to the result ?”
Scott: “Why are you so fixated on the mechanism of natural selection?”
Berlinski: “Because that's the heart of your doctrine. It's a theory, it's a scientific theory.”
Scott, once again pivoting and deflecting: “It is … Would you agree with me that if you disprove evolution … excuse me, if you disprove natural selection, you therefore disprove evolution? “
Scott: “You're wrong.”
Scott: “Because evolution -- because natural selection is only a way by which evolution can take place. The evidence would still be there…”
Berlinski: “There is no other attribute of the theory. Go back…”
Scott, apparently trying to run out the clock, plows ahead: “…from homology, from anatomical homologies, biochemical homologies, and the fossil record. We're not dependent on the fossil record.”
Berlinski, now at his wit’s end: “Dr. Scott, focus on my question, I'm begging you. We have a theory…”
Scott: “I answered it.”
Berlinski: “…the theory is a theory of random mutation and natural selection. I'm asking you to apply it to the case of the progression from a dog-like mammal to a sea-going whale …”
Moderator, Michael Kinsley: "I'm begging you not to!"
MARIO HENRI CHAKKOUR, AIA
January 6, 2023
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And so we’ve come to the inevitable riddle of passage awaiting earnest champions of science in quest of Truth, if not linguistic clarity! (Seriously, have you ever heard a paleontologist long-windedly describe the intricacies of the tympanic part of the temporal bone?) Now, all aboard and take a deep breath, as we prepare to submerge in a vast, tempestuous ocean; that is, Darwin's rabbit hole. Within its murky depths, purported transitional fossils abound and wax vindication of random whale evolution… But, is this narrative the slam dunk it's cracked up to be? Let's find out!
MARIO HENRI CHAKKOUR, AIA