Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Christian Response to Ida

From Answers in Genesis, some things to ponder:

Thus, rather than an apeman-like missing link that some media sources have irresponsibly implied, the real story is quite underwhelming and should in no way faze creationists. Let’s first review the facts:

  • The well-preserved fossil (95 percent complete, including fossilized fur and more) is about the size of a raccoon and includes a long tail. It resembles the skeleton of a lemur (a small, tailed, tree-climbing primate). In no way does the fossil (see the picture, right) resemble a human skeleton.
  • The fossil was found in two parts by amateur fossil hunters in 1983. It eventually made its way through fossil dealers to the research team.
  • Ida has opposable thumbs, which the ABC News article states are “similar to humans’ and unlike those found on other modern mammals” (i.e., implying that opposable thumbs are evidence of evolution). Yet lemurs today have opposable thumbs (like all primates). Likewise, Ida has nails, as do other primates. And the talus bone is described as “the same shape as in humans,” despite the fact that there are other differences in the ankle structure.3
  • Unlike today’s lemurs (as far as scientists know), Ida lacks the “grooming claw” and a “toothcomb” (a fused row of teeth) In fact, its teeth are more similar to a monkey’s. These are minor differences easily explained by variation within a kind.
The Creationist Interpretation

The principles that inform creationists about Ida are some of the same that allow creationists to interpret fossil after fossil hailed as “transitional forms”:

  1. Nothing about this fossil suggests it is anything other than an extinct, lemur-like creature. Its appearance is far from chimpanzee, let alone “apeman” or human.
  2. A fossil can never show evolution. Fossils are unchanging records of dead organisms. Evolution is an alleged process of change in live organisms. Fossils show “evolution” only if one presupposes evolution, then uses that presupposed belief to interpret the fossil.
  3. Similarities can never show evolution. If two organisms have similar structures, the only thing it proves is that the two have similar structures. One must presuppose evolution to say that the similarities are due to evolution rather than design. Furthermore, when it comes to “transitional forms,” the slightest similarities often receive great attention while major differences are ignored.
  4. The remarkable preservation is a hallmark of rapid burial. Team member Jørn Hurum of the University of Oslo said, “This fossil is so complete. Everything’s there. It’s unheard of in the primate record at all. You have to get to human burial to see something that’s this complete.” Even the contents of Ida’s stomach were preserved. While the researchers believe Ida sunk to the bottom of a lake and was buried, this preservation is more consistent with a catastrophic flood.4 Yet Ida was found with “hundreds of well-preserved specimens.”5
  5. If evolution were true, there would be real transitional forms. Instead, the best “missing links” evolutionists can come up with are strikingly similar to organisms we see today, usually with the exception of minor, controversial, and inferred anatomical differences.
  6. Evolutionists only open up about the lack of fossil missing links once a new one is found. Sky News reports, “Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution,” while Attenborough commented that the missing link “is no longer missing.” So are they admitting the evidence was missing until now (supposedly)?

"[B]ecause the fossil is similar to a modern lemur (a small, tailed, tree-climbing primate), it’s unlikely that creationists need any interpretation of the “missing link” other than that it was a small, tailed, probably tree-climbing, and now extinct primate—from a kind created on Day 6 of Creation Week."


  1. One would hope that someone interested in matters of science would be a bit more scientific than a lone comment referring to digestive effluvia.

  2. First, Sky News and Richard Attenborough do not speak for the scientific community, where there has been a lot of angry talk about how irresponsible the PR push has been, noting specifically that this is too new a discovery to make such broad statements. Science can hardly be held responsible for the media response.

    Second, the specifics of Australopithicus (sp?) satisfied every creationist in theory, at least until it was actually discovered. After a considerable moving of the goalpoasts a more modern definition doesn't allow that Lucy is transitional.

    Look at what's happening here. Not one of the handful of creation scientists has had a look at this specimen, but already there is a "creationist interpretation." Is this the way creation scientists work, by basing their opinions on puff pieces in Entertainment Weekly?

    Science always makes room for new data, even if it requires throwing out old theories and starting from scratch. The problem is that even if evolution is absolutely false we are left with the utility, predictive power, and robustness of evolution. Nothing else exists where all the data fit so perfectly, least of all creationism.

    The whole creationist agenda seems dishonest to me. Where's the transparency?


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