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Friday, April 07, 2006

As for me, I'll wait and see

The New York Times is very, very excited:

Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land....

Other scientists said that in addition to confirming elements of a major transition in evolution, the fossils were a powerful rebuttal to religious creationists, who have long argued that the absence of such transitional creatures are a serious weakness in Darwin's theory.

Given the past history of missing links, I'll be interested to learn if there are any Darwinian faithful whose belief is dependent on this fossil being genuine. I can't imagine there are, since the ur-faith has survived numerous frauds in the past.

Now, it's entirely possible that the discovery is genuine, its purported significance is real and there is no fraud involved. Does it prove anything? No, it is merely a proposed solution to an obvious hole in the hypothesis, and will rightly boost confidence in that hypothesis.

But should this prove to be another fraud in the long and colorful history of evolutionary science, or even a simple misinterpretation of the paleontological data, it will be interesting to see if the New York Times will cover the story so prominently, or explain how this is a "powerful rebuttal" to evolutionists and "should undercut the argument that there is... evidence in the fossil record of one creature becoming another kind."

As I've said many times in the past, I am an evolutionary skeptic, not an anti-evolutionist. I do, however, find it amusing that otherwise rational evolutionists will so readily accept ontological arguments in favor of their hypothesis that they reject in most other facets of life.

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