This headline is hardly news, but still noteworthy. A few days ago, Todd Wood (a young earth creationist from Bryan College, in Dayton, TN) noted an article in ICR’s Acts & Facts on trilobite tracks by his predecessor at Bryan, creationist Kurt Wise:
“Why would dozens of feet of rock have tracks but not the animals that made them?” asks Wise. He proposes that the Flood uniquely solves this dilemma.
He quotes Wise:
What if, when the “fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11), the spreading waters surprised the trilobites living on the ocean bottom? As the water became muddy, trilobites scurried about in terror, leaving their tracks behind them. Then as a layer of mud covered their tracks, they climbed through the mud and left tracks on the next layer – repeating this process until they finally succumbed in exhaustion and were themselves buried and preserved.
Wood then notes a paper in Nature describing tetrapod trackways millions of years older than the earliest known tetrapod fossils, adding “Hmmm…. That sounds familiar!”
Mere hours later, Disco. dancer Casey Luskin wrote an ID version of the same post, referring to Tiktaalik as “an alleged transitional fossil,” arguing that “if this transition ever took place it seems to have occurred millions of years before Tiktaalik” (emphasis added), but offering no suggestion of what he thinks would explain the pattern of morphological and molecular similarity among living and fossil animals if there were never such a transition. In this regard, young earth creationism is far superior to ID creationism. At least they can straightforwardly suggest that tetrapods were magically poofed into existence in a way that leaves no evidence, rather than just insisting – a la IDC – that we don’t know anything because nothing is knowable.
Luskin closes with an endorsement of Doubting Thomas in both a theological and scientific contexts. But remember that Thomas was chastised in that story, told “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That’s the theology, and it’s exactly opposite to the theology ID would advocate. Scientifically, doubt is essential, but so is the ability to accept evidence conditionally. I’ve held the actual Tiktaalik fossils, I’ve seen the ways their bones relate to those of fish and of tetrapods, and I’m confident that it represents a transitional form.
This doesn’t mean that Tiktaalik is your great-great-great-…-great-grandparent, but it is a close descendant of that ancestor. Even if that ancestor lived 18 million years earlier than Tiktaalik, the transitional state of that ancestor is preserved in its descendants. Casey cites various news articles which mess up this distinction, but never points to the scientific literature where these points are clarified. But as the Disco. blog tagline explains: “The misreporting of the evolution issue is one key reason for this site.”