Response to Rusty's Questions Below

Rusty posted a brief response to my last entry on the testable creation model. I'll paste the comments here because it allows a bit more space to respond:

Ed, you really are tempting me to respond...

I really think a good, long conversation on this topic would clear a lot of things up. We would each still be sitting in our respective camps, but we'd probably have a better understanding of what the other was positing.

Let me explain in the next comment...

Case in point is the "order of appearance" argument you make (e.g., Wolf-like creature to whale). Both models support the fossil data. But here is where I say, "there are no transitionals." (as predicted by the Creation Model) To which you say, "but there are transitionals!"

STOP! That is the point of contention in this case - I posit that what you call transitionals are really intermediates.
So the issue isn't that the CM isn't testable - it's our disagreement over the interpretation of the data.

Now we could go further with regards to what transitionals should really look like and whether there is any evidence that the mechanism proposed to go from species to species truly works (i.e., natural selection combined with genetic mutations over time).

But the accusation that there isn't anything testable in the CM is unfounded. Here is one test: There will be no transitional forms.

To be sure, we will disagree on whether the test has been passed or not - but that was kind of my point.

When Rusty makes the statement, "Case in point is the "order of appearance" argument you make (e.g., Wolf-like creature to whale). Both models support the fossil data.", he is conflating two different issues. The issue of the overall order of appearance is distinct from the question of whether we have transitional fossils in any specific lineage, such as with whales. There are of course lineages in which we have large gaps in the fossil record, and that will always be the case - paleontology will never be able to fill every gap, and it is unreasonable to expect that it could given the nature of fossilization. But my argument about the order of appearance has nothing to do with the question of transitional forms in any particular lineage. The argument simply states that in order for evolution to be true, the order of appearance MUST be what it is, both among the major animal groups (fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds) and, more importantly, within each of those groups. If evolution is true, then the first amphibians to appear in the fossil record MUST look like virtually identical to a specific lineage of fish; if evolution is true, then the first mammals to appear MUST look virtually identical to a specific lineage of reptiles; and so forth. And if evolution is true, then the trends within every single one of those taxa MUST be that the forms get more and more diverse over time, progressively less-like the designated ancestral group and more like modern life forms. If the fossil record looked any other way, evolution would be falsified.

Further, Rusty is still using a completely anachronistic definition of "testable". It simply is absurd to claim that a model is "testable" because it "predicts" that the model it purports to compete with will have gaps in explanatory power. This is identical to arguing that weather patterns are caused by invisible leprauchans, building an "invisible leprauchan model", and claiming that the invisible leprauchan model "predicts" that conventional meteorology will not be able to predict the weather with 100% accuracy. And Invisible Leprauchan Advocates could of course point to any number of instances when a meteorologist predicted 8 inches of snow and we got 14 instead.

Or one could posit that it's not gravity that keeps the planets in their orbits, but rather angels that push them around in the precise orbits that they inhabit. And the "angel model" would "predict" that centuries after Newton allegedly worked out the theory of gravity, physicists would still be arguing over what gravity IS - which they do. Is it a force? A wave function? A particle, like a neutron? We don't know. There is a gap in our knowledge, and the theory does not explain everything. But it would be absurd to claim that the "angel model" predicts that the theory it purports to compete with wouldn't be perfect and that therefore the imperfection of the theory of gravity makes the "angel model" testable because it's "prediction" came true. An advocate of the "angel model" could also make the same claim that Rusty makes for the creation model - it's consistent with the evidence. But the point I've been trying to make, and he has not even attempted to refute, is that such a model is consistent with ANY set of evidence. There is no conceivable evidence that could not be explained by his "model". And this is exactly why I keep saying - again, without even an attempt to engage my reasoning from Rusty - that he and Ross are using a definition of "testable" that is entirely different than the definition scientists use. If a "model" can explain data set X AND the exact opposite of data set X, it is not falsifiable; if it is not falsifiable, it is not testable. Period. There simply is no rational argument over this.

On the subject of transitionals, I will repeat the argument I made in my last response, and that is that the creationist argument concerning transitionals is inherently disingenuous. If Rusty wants to give us a coherent set of criteria of what a transtional fossil would look like that could hypothetically be satisfied for me to meet, we could perhaps have a fascinating discussion about specific fossils and whether they meet that criteria. But I've tried that before with other creationists and the inevitable result is that the goalposts move. I simply do not believe that there is any possible fossil or series of fossils that could be shown to Rusty that he would admit are transitional. No matter how perfectly a series of fossils showed a transition from one taxa to another, in the precise anatomical and temporal order predicted by evolution (or predicted by creationists, for that matter), the creationist can make one of two arguments - either they can change the subject and say "but what about THIS trait that isn't preserved in fossils?", or they can say, "But that doesn't PROVE that it was actually a transition, maybe God just created in that order. He's God, he can do what he wants." There is no set of evidence that could not be explained away.

Over and over again, Rusty keeps saying that all of the evidence that is explained by evolution can also be explained by the "creation model" - but since the creation model, as we've seen a thousand times in this discussion, can explain ANYTHING, this is a meaningless statement. And it is precisely why this "creation model" is anything but testable by any rational definition.


More like this

To continue the dialogue with Rusty Lopez from the New Covenant blog, let's examine his latest posting. I'm going to do this one a bit differently so as not to lose the threads of each specific point of dispute. I'm going to divide this post by those areas and label them as such, and I will put my…
Rusty has again left comments on a post below. Unfortunately, the comments only allow a short message and the issues he raises may require more than 300 words, so I'll copy them here and respond in more detail. Rusty's words are in italics, my responses are in plain type. I will take a different…
Rusty Lopez of the New Covenant blog has stated that his latest response to me regarding the "testable creation model" that he advocates will be his last. I thank him for an engaging dialogue on these issues, and regret that he chooses not to continue the conversation. He says he does not have the…
In the last post, I wrote the following to Rusty: On the issue of transitionals, you are still dodging the question. You said that appearance alone cannot prove transition. Therefore wouldn't you have to say that no fossil evidence could possibly show transition? Fossils can only show appearance,…