Final Note on Transitional Forms

Final Note on Transitional Forms February 5, 2004

In the last post, I wrote the following to Rusty:

On the issue of transitionals, you are still dodging the question. You said that appearance alone cannot prove transition. Therefore wouldn’t you have to say that no fossil evidence could possibly show transition? Fossils can only show appearance, not actual ancestry. So why not just admit that no fossil evidence, regardless of what it shows, could possibly convince you that an evolutionary transition occured? That would at least be honest, but you seem to be loathe to admit that. Is there ANY fossil evidence that you would regard as transitional, even hypothetically?

Rusty just responded in a comment with this:

Ed I’ve answered your question over and over again. You have the responsibility to provide the data in a conclusive manner that is not open to other avenues of explanation. That is, if you have a testable model and want to prove your position. Your data is scant! That doesn’t necessarily prove your theory is incorrect but why aren’t you being honest and admitting it?

I honestly don’t know if Rusty is being intentionally obtuse or not, but I have a hard time believing, after all this time, that he’s not intelligent enough to understand the distinction here. He must know that “presenting the data” is pointless if he has already decided that no data possibly COULD establish what is being disputed. Furthermore, he simply can’t be dense enough to really believe that anyone has the responsibility to prove anything to the degree that it “is not open to other avenues of explanation”. ALL theories have alternative explanations that are possible. There is absolutely nothing that can be shown to the degree that it completely rules out alternative explanations. Gravitational theory cannot rule out or disprove the “angel model” of orbital mechanics. It might BE angels or invisible leprauchans pushing the planets around.

But this is precisely why I am asking for what criteria you would offer for what you would regard as transitional BEFORE showing you any fossils – because if the criteria is as utterly ridiculous as “you have to prove all alternative explanations are false”, then there is not only no point in providing any data, there isn’t much point in trying to discuss anything after that point. Come on Rusty, you know that this is an absurd answer. If there is no data that could possibly satisfy your criteria for transition – and it’s very obvious that that is the case, though you absolutely refuse to admit it – then it is pointless to demand that you be showed data. And you’re smart enough to know that.

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