More Nonsense from Bombadill

Dembski himself used to post some pretty bad stuff to Uncommon Descent, but the group of acolytes he put in charge of it a couple weeks ago has rapidly proven to be way beneath him in the credibility department (and that's not easy to do). Bombadill, in particular, seems to be completely clueless when it comes to basic science, making statements that even Dembski himself must find embarrassing. To wit, this comment:

Paleoanthropological studies reveal that hominids appear suddenly, without clear direct fossil ancestors, and distinct from previous hominids...The abrupt appearance of Homo as a novel and distinct form, significantly different from earlier fossil forms and without links to previous fossil forms, implicates intelligent design.

I assume he means "implies" rather than "implicates". But more importantly, I would love to see what "paleoanthropological studies" he thinks exist that support this point. This statement could not be made any more absurd if one tried. Hominids do not appear "suddenly" and "distinct from previous hominids", but rather there is a line of hominid species over the last 5-7 million years showing a clear and gradual change in form in all of the key diagnostic traits - brain size, bipedal adaptation, cranial and dentary adaptations, use of tools and sophistication of culture.

This alleged "abruptness" he imagines exists is disproven by the mere fact that there are so many intermediate forms within this lineage that creationists like him, who believe that there is a clear and obvious break between "apes" and "humans", cannot agree on which fossils belong in which group. Jim Foley does a review of all of the major creationist texts on hominid fossils (none of which, by the way, was written by a paleoanthropologist or involved any paleoanthropological studies) and shows how the various authors categorize the various hominid fossils we've found. It's quite telling. Is Java Man an ape or a human? 4 creationists say it's an ape, 2 says it's human. Peking man? A perfect split, 3-3. Same with ER-3733, a primitive Homo erectus, split 5-1, and with the Turkana Boy specimen.

Foley has a list of all of the major hominid fossils and species, in chronological order and with pictures of each fossil, showing this gradual change in the hominid lineage over the last few million years. From Ardipithecus ramidus, around 5 million years ago, to the various Australopithecenes (anamensis, afarensis, africanus, aethiopicus, rubustus and boisei), to Homo habilis to Homo erectus and finally to Homo sapiens, there is a finely graded and gradual change in every single key human trait.

Brain size goes from a very chimp-like 300cc 5 million years ago to modern Homo's 1350cc average. Bipedality goes from the primarily arboreal but primitively bipedal early specimens to the primarily bipedal but still partially arboreal Australopithecenes to the fully bipedal humans. As brain size goes up, so does the sophistication of the tools they used and so does the sophistication of cultural traits as identified through the use of ritual and the like. There is nothing "abrupt" about this at all, these fossil species fall into exactly the right temporal and anatomical order that evolution predicts.

Even Dembski, who is not a young earther and isn't completely ignorant of the evidence, must cringe when he sees statements by those he put in charge of his blog that betray such astonishing ignorance of the evidence. It's getting so bad that I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull the plug on it again soon, and perhaps even erase all the posts in another effort to change history and pretend it never happened.

I also continue to be baffled by how common it is to see people who are completely ignorant of a subject spout off about it in public. There are many subjects about which I am almost completely ignorant. I know virtually nothing about automobile engines, for instance. But I know that I know virtually nothing about it and it wouldn't occur to me in a million years to make public statements about how all the mechanics in the world are wrong about the correct ignition timing on a 2002 Dodge Intrepid. I'd make a fool out of myself because I don't know the first thing about it. And I simply cannot understand why others don't feel the same way about evolution.

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Yay, a thread in my honor! Hey ya'll! *waves real fast.

A couple of quick points:

Casey Luskin - B.S. (2000) and M. S. (2001) in earth sciences from UCSD. A published geological researcher. worked at the Scripps Paleomagnetics lab where he completed his masters research in 2001.

William Dembski -
Ph.D. philosophy University of Illinois at Chicago 1996
M.Div. theology Princeton Theological Seminary 1996
M.A. philosophy University of Illinois at Chicago 1993
Ph.D. mathematics University of Chicago 1988
S.M. mathematics University of Chicago 1985
M.S. statistics University of Illinois at Chicago 1983
B.A. psychology University of Illinois at Chicago 1981

Here are the 3 links I posted over at UC:

A quick read thru these articles will demonstrate some of the "holes" in the traditional explanation of the Hominid record, as Ed has presented it. I found there to be compelling reasons to question said explanation. :)


Cheers all!


By Bombadill (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

There are some links to the material he is refering to (some stuff by Luskin) a few comments down. Dembski actually has wrote something similar (abrupt appearence of Homo, basic types, etc.). I'll provide links when I get home from work.

By afarensis (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

I also would like to know how hominids can both "appear suddenly" and be "distinct from previous hominids" at the same time. If there were previous hominids, they didn't appear suddnely.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

What if (your) bible told you that ignition timing should be determined by God? And your value system placed more importance on faith than on logical consistency? You might go on a campaign against timing lights.

Naah, that would be idiotic. Just like creationism.

Ginger Yellow - Dembski and Luskin argue that Australopiths and Homo are separate "basic types". Homo, acording to them, was created by a massive infusion of genetic info from the designer. The sudden emergence parts of their papers sound like they are trying to swipe some ideas from punk eq, without really understanding what they are trying to steal.

One of the most hilarious distortions of human evolution is in a "Chick Tract," those little Christian cartoon books by Jack Chick, that was rewritten with the help the amazingly insane Kent Hoving. In it, Hovind claims that "[n]early all experts agree Lucy was just a three foot tall chimpanzee."

At a talk he gave at Berkeley a couple years back I asked Hovind to name one expert who believed this and after trying to change the subject several times, and me not letting him worm his way out of it, I went back to my seat with the audience shouting at him, "Answer the question!"

It's nice to see that Dembski's minions have a friend in Kent Hovind.

By skipevans (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

Sorry for the typo above. The name is Kent "Hovind".

By skipevans (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

Given the current state of the fossil evidence, I'd argue for the sudden appearance of Pan (chimpanzees) rather than Homo. We have a grip (yes, this is an SI unit) of hominid fossils compared to the paucity of chimp fossils. We evolved, chimps were intelligently designed.

That's quite amusing. The "paleoanthropological studies" he refers to were done by Casey Luskin, an attorney, and Bill Dembski, a philosopher and theologian. Neither with any training or expertise whatsoever in paleontology or anthropology. Perhaps Bombadill has a different definition of "studies" than the rest of the world does, but in science "studies" are performed by scientists with great knowledge of the field and they are published in peer-reviewed journals.

An actual anthropologist - of which the ID movement has none - would likely spend a couple of hours in fits of laughter reading the nonsense in those "studies" that he cites. Dembski's is particularly laughable because he acknowledges, for all practical purposes, that the fossil evidence shows a clear progression from an ape-like ancestor to modern humans. He even names the series of species in which we can view, through their fossil remains, the gradual changes in all of the key human traits. But he still argues that, even though this pattern of appearance mimics exactly what evolution predicts - indeed, what must be true if evolution is true - we still need "independent evidence." In other words, unless you can actually view it taking place, unless someone has a videotape of the process in action, there is no reason to believe the logical inferences. If that standard were applied in court, of course, our prisons would be virtually empty.

Interesting point. True that we have practically no fossil evidence for chimp evolution, largely attributed to where chimps live, an environment not likely to produce fossils.

Years ago, I heard Phillip Johnson claim on AFA Family Radio that the reason anthropologists like to attribute all these "monkey bones" to human ancestors is because it brings them wealth and fame.

I would think that the first scientist that can come up with some good chimp ancestor fossils would become quite the rock star.

By skipevans (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

"An actual anthropologist - of which the ID movement has none - would likely spend a couple of hours in fits of laughter reading the nonsense in those "studies" that he cites."

I only have a BA plus some grad school and I laughed myself silly (fell out of my chair at one point - that was when Luskin cited the Encyclopedia Britanica)...I can only imagine what a Ph.D in anthropology would do. Personally myself I think Luskins article (Dembski is a little more careful) uses a lot of YEC arguments and might make a good exhibit in future trials.

By afarensis (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

I can appreciate the brilliance of the "sudden and distinct" argument. You see, no matter how often you find yet another earlier and/or transitional fossil, they can always say - "Yes, but where is the even earlier fossil form leading up to that one ... obviously that new fossil appears abruptly and without precursors, and that can only be explained by design."

It codifies goal-post pushing to all new levels.

Dave S-

You've discovered the "every new transitional fossil creates two new gaps" argument, popular with creationists everywhere.

Ed -

The classics never go out of style.

They may need to be re-named from time to time, but that's about all you need to do.

I read the Luskin "research", and it's quite the something (as we say around these parts) to watch him warp and twist to come to the conclusion that Australopithicines were just apes. I really like the bit about "intelligent design theory" postulating that " ... humans originated due to the intentional arrangement of biomatter--including the human genetic code--by an intelligent agent." I wonder where in ID "theory" he found that tidbit?

"It's getting so bad that I wouldn't be surprised to see him pull the plug on it again soon"

On Panda's Thumb last week I called last week in January.

By fake ed brayton (not verified) on 17 Jan 2006 #permalink

It just keeps getting funnier and funnier over there. Now DaveScot has a post up and he's aghast! that people would object to be booted off his site...oh, did I mention that these are people booted for what they are saying outside his site. No matter what they say inside, if he finds they've been less than complimentary outside, out they go. The reign of the petty tyrant continues .... but for how long?

That's even funnier than having the nutty John Davison post his pet "hypothesis" once again. That always ends well. :)