Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Human Evolution Revision

I have wanted to comment on the new developments in the fossils related to the speculations about human evolution:

Two fossils found in Kenya have shaken the human family tree, possibly rearranging major branches thought to be in a straight ancestral line to Homo sapiens.

Scientists who dated and analyzed the specimens — a 1.44 million-year-old Homo habilis and a 1.55 million-year-old Homo erectus — said their findings challenged the conventional view that these species evolved one after the other. Instead, they apparently lived side by side in eastern Africa for almost half a
million years.

I hope to comment further later, but for now, some quick observations. Think about the logic of the third paragraph in the Times article:
If this interpretation is correct, the early evolution of the genus Homo is left even more shrouded in mystery than before. It means that both habilis and erectus must have originated from a common ancestor between two million and three million years ago, a time when fossil hunters had drawn a virtual blank.

Note the acknowledgment of mystery in the first sentence, followed by a statement about what "must" have happened in the second. Note the evidence supporting this statement of certainty. (There is none.) Is this science or philosophy? Feel the irony: in an article primarily about revising what scientists thought they knew, the reported tells us what must have happened despite the lack of evidence for it.

Honey, your presuppositions are showing.

Scrappleface has picked up on this story. But this post is not as funny as the Scrappleface post quoted here on a related topic.


At August 16, 2007 5:31 PM, Blogger mattghg said...

That's because where naturalistic explanations of any or no level of evidence exist we should accept them, and where they aren't we should trust that one day they will be. Otherwise we risk all turning into suicide bombers.

At August 17, 2007 10:04 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

Very refreshing Lawrence, there does indeed need to be thought given to laying out what we know of the fossil record and then seeing what sort of framework they do suggest instead of simply assuming it all must point to macroevolution and then tying ourselves in knots trying to fit the puzzle pieces into our predefined puzzle.

Now, Lawrence, please excuse this divergence from your stated topic as I reply to Matt who has used a false claim as a distraction to the real point.

Matt, what exactly is it about finding the evidence may point to something besides naturalistic explanations will cause one to become a suicide bomber? I believe it is a grace disservice and indeed shows a marked lack of thought or incite in the matter which would lead one to this conclusion.

Christians have existed for two thousands of years and have not generally been found to be anxious to blow anybody into bits. The idea that more people have lost their lives to religious violence is also at best a factual error and at worst a lie. The 20th century has been the bloodiest century, to the point of more people dying of violence in the last hundred years than all of previous history combined. The wars of the 20th century were wars of race, of nationalism, of aggression, not of religion. Communist Russia killed many millions in the Gulag, in fact it was Christians and others who stood against the evil of communism who lost their lives in Siberia. Germany, in a war of racism and aggression, Germany was a secular humanist society with great umbrage taken at their perceived harsh treatment at the end of WW1. Germany killed Jews in a "purifying" sweep and killed those who protected Jews. Christians were prominent in the underground in Germany, choosing to obey a higher law than that in control in the halls of man at the time.

All this to say, do not lightly say that simply for accepting a non-naturalistic view of evolution on must necessarily become a suicide bomber. You are woefully mislead if you hold that to be the truth. I am a Christian, I do not hold a naturalistic view of evolution, I am an American and believe that all viewpoints have an equal right to be aired, and I also believe in objective truth: at least one of the viewpoints, either naturalistic macroevolution or ID or creationism is necessarily false as they are mutually exclusive. And yet I will not in any way seek to harm you physically because of your divergent views. And I would stand up to anybody who would seek to harm you unnecessarily for any reason.

Be very careful what you believe Matt, it may be wrong.

At August 17, 2007 10:05 AM, Blogger Matthew said...

... or perhaps, were you being sarcastic? If so, my sincerest apologies for taking this too seriously in the particular case.

At August 17, 2007 8:32 PM, Blogger John J. Kaiser said...

Thanks for the post. I've been so busy reading history books that I haven't read much news.


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