Hypothetical ancestors

Tue Feb 12 16:43:41 CST 2002

At 06:06 PM 2/11/02 -0600, Bryan Simon wrote:
>I appreciate the replies I have seen so far on hypothetical ancestors, and
>I suspected these were the sorts of answers I was going to get, so it is
>nice to get confirmation.  However I have to prepare some sort of logical
>reasoning to counteract the creationist views on "origins", which as you
>know can come across very strongly.

It is with trepidation that I wade into this, since I view the whole thing
as a "red herring", and yet here I am having been sucked into addressing
it.  But for what it is worth, I think the essence of the problem is
revealed in your statement that you "have to prepare some sort of logical
reasoning to counteract the creationist views ..... ".  In my opinion, you
don't have to do that, you are choosing to do so.  By so doing, you are
agreeing to play on their turf, which is not a logical one at all.  You
could just ignore them, or decline the invitation to get involved with a
non-rational discussion, or ask them to address the relationships of birds
and dinosaurs which have recently been addressed in this forum.  That would
be requesting them to play on your/our turf rather than theirs.  Would they
feel they "had to" come up with a creationist opinion on the most likely
relationships between birds and dinosaurs?  To keep going back and forth on
creationism seems similar to repeated debates on the merits of
solipsism.  It is doomed to being nonproductive (which may, by the way,
have something to do with the motivations of the creationists to keep the
debate going; the more time spent in such arguments, the less fossils and
new species that will be discovered or analysed to help evaluate their

>To my way of thinking there is no
>issue here, as I view the evolutionary paradigm as the very means of
>how "creation" is directed by whatever one regards a higher power.

Note: We may be in some danger here.  Our traditional paradigm is that life
originated only once, and this is sometimes dogmatically put forth, but if
the early earth's environment was more conducive to life originating once,
why would it not be more likely to have happened multiple times in that
environment?  If we do chemical reactions in test tubes, we don't then say
that the products of those reactions, which may be indistinguishable, had
to come from a common ancestor.  In the "primeval soup", life's progenitors
may well have been hardly more distinguishable from each other than two
pieces of plastic from the same manufacturer.  So don't fall into the trap
of being almost as dogmatic as the creationists are by insisting on
monophyly to the exclusion of parallel evolution.  To a lesser extent, this
is true of lineages of extant groups that likely have had parallel
mutations and similar natural selection leading to convergences.

>Creationists sometimes tend to be highly qualified scientists, but usually
>in fields such as engineering, chemistry etc and come across
>authoritatively in areas in which they have had no basic training. Their
>use of holy books (Bible, Koran etc) as the source of their information,
>makes it difficult to have any sort of logical discussion. However maybe
>Taxacom is not the best discussion list for a topic such as this.

  It is probably as good as any.

Steve Manning

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