Dispatches from the Creation Wars

DI on Tiktaalik roseae

I mentioned a couple days ago the new fossil of a species dubbed Tiktaalik roseae, which beautifully fills a gap in the fossil record for the fish-amphibian transition. The response to this find from the ID creationists has been quite amusing. The DI media complaints division promptly posted a response that is deliciously inconsistent. On the one hand, it says that the find is “no threat” to ID because ID doesn’t necessarily deny evolution or common descent (which depends on which ID advocate you ask, of course). On the other hand, it tries to argue that it’s not an intermediate form anyway with one of the silliest arguments you’ll ever encounter:

These fish are not intermediates, explain Discovery Institute scientists I queried about the find. Tiktaalik roseae is one of a set of lobe-finned fishes that include very curious mosaics–these fishes have advanced characteristics of several different groups. They are not intermediates in the sense that they are half-fish/half-tetrapod. Rather, they have some tetrapod-like features.

And some fish-like features. Which means the argument really is “these creatures aren’t intermediate in the sense that they are half fish, half tetrapod, they’re just have some features of fish and some features of tetrapods.” Now, unless they’re going to take the idiotic position that an intermediate must be precisely half fish and half tetrapod (how would one measure such things anyway?), they’ve just contradicted themselves. What on earth do they think an intermediate form should look like if not that it has some features of the ancestral form and some features of the descendant form?

Add to that the fact that it appears in precisely the right anatomical and temporal sequence predicted by evolution and there is no doubt that this is an excellent example of an intermediate form, regardless of whether this specific species split off to or from another specific species. So why bother denying that, especially with such a stupid argument, if they’re going to take the position that it doesn’t matter whether it’s intermediate or not since ID doesn’t deny common descent? You got me. Apparently they think like a lot of high school debaters, that multiple weak arguments is better than one good one.

PZ Myers has a more thorough response to the “not an intermediate form” argument.


  1. #1 llDayo
    April 7, 2006

    I’m wondering how many finds of evolution significance it will take until these people start questioning whether they’re incorrect or not? This find probably ranks up there with the Archaeoptyrix (sp?) and was even PREDICTED FOR! How well of an example do you need to show validity to a theory than one that follows specifically with what the theory says should be found? I just don’t understand it.

  2. #2 Jim Anderson
    April 7, 2006

    Apparently they think like a lot of high school debaters, that multiple weak arguments is better than one good one.

    Or, more accurately, better than none. Maybe I’m ignorant, but I can’t fathom what a good argument against its transitional status would look like.

  3. #3 Anuminous
    April 7, 2006


    I’m wondering how many finds of evolution significance it will take until these people start questioning whether they’re incorrect or not?…I just don’t understand it.

    I am afraid you don’t. These people do not experience the universe the same way you and I do. They have a very specific filter in place over all input which causes them to believe that all input supports their position. I think it comes from beginning with a conclusion and working backwards.

  4. #4 Dave
    April 7, 2006

    The Wall St. Journal has an article about this as well, which is worth checking out.

    The link, I believe, is a free one.

  5. #5 Sastra
    April 8, 2006

    Their argument is indeed curious. It’s as if they were to deny that a child shows evidence of coming from two different parents because all it has are resembling features — blue eyes like the mom and red hair similar to the dad’s. If it were REALLY a product of both it would have to have something like Dad’s tattoed arm sticking out of its little toddler shoulder and Mom’s shapely leg coming out of its little hip.

    I’m always surprised by the implicit assumption that evolution works like the Animorphs.

  6. #6 wayne123
    April 10, 2006

    oh no! i have to believe in evolution now! they found more bones!! wow

    somthing died! oh wait, does that mean that the “Aquada” boat slash

    car, proves that boats turn into cars if you give them a couple

    trillion years? hmm mabye people will think that in the future, if the

    car/boat survives a million years in ice, then the next species will

    think so.
    Im curious, so i dont waste my freakin life having no point other then

    to live life to the fullest(even though i know that im just telling

    myself that to make me think im happy ) is there any better proof that

    evolution is real? because i was forced to go to your church ever sence

    middle school biology, while they try to convince me that nothing

    creates everything. and i believed that for 7 years, because i had

    nothing else to believe. but I guess ill have to go to the christians

    because their only ones sceptical enough to go against the theory of

    evolution. what evolutionist preacher is going to tell me about the

    flaws of his religion anyway, i havent found one yet.
    you have found some truth to strengthn your belief in your god, but did

    you need it? no your faith is sufficient enough. the problem is will,

    not truth or faith. you have to want it first. and what you may want is

    no god. you get what you want . You dont live untill you find somthing

    to die for. ill pray that god shows himself true in your life as he does everyday for me

    in mine.

    -i care what happens to you, but he cares more

  7. #7 Ed Brayton
    April 10, 2006

    Thank you, Wayne, for stopping by and entertaining us. Come back when you have something of substance to add to the conversation.