Thursday

Evolution confirmed; God unavailable for comment.


The headline reads:

Scientists have unveiled a 47-million-year-old fossilized skeleton of a monkey hailed as the missing link in human evolution.

This 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' is described as the "eighth wonder of the world"
The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years - but it was presented to the world today at a special news conference in New York.

The discovery of the 95%-complete 'lemur monkey' - dubbed Ida - is described by experts as the "eighth wonder of the world".

They say its impact on the world of paleontology will be "somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth".

Wow, nothing like unbridled enthusiasm, I thought scientists we supposed to be objective and unbiased. But it gets better.

Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, and the then radical, outlandish ideas he came up with during his time aboard the Beagle.

Its official then; I guess we can close debate and put those pesky creationist nut jobs in their place. Well not so fast, let’s parse the facts from opinion, reality from hyperbole. The article begins with a series of suppositions and opinion:

Opinion - Sir David Attenborough said Darwin "would have been thrilled" to have seen the fossil - and says it tells us who we are and where we came from.

Opinion - "This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals," he said.

Opinion - "This is the one that connects us directly with them.

Opinion - "Now people can say 'okay we are primates, show us the link'.

Opinion - "The link they would have said up to now is missing - well it's no longer missing."

Fact - A team of the world's leading fossil experts, led by Professor Jorn Hurum, of Norway's National History Museum, have been secretly researching the 1ft 9in-tall young female monkey for the past two years.

Fact - And now it has been transported to New York under high security and unveiled to the world during the bicentenary of Darwin's birth.


Fact - Scientists say Ida - squashed to the thickness of a beer mat by the immense passage of time - is the most complete primate fossil ever found.

Opinion - With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first developed features that would eventually develop into our own.

Opinion - Another important discovery is the shape of the talus bone in her foot, which humans still have in their feet millions of lifetimes later.

Fact - Ida was unearthed by an amateur fossil-hunter some 25 years ago in Messel pit, an ancient crater lake near Frankfurt, Germany, famous for its fossils.

Opinion - This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the eons of time, 47 million years ago.

Fact - "This is really something that the world has never seen before, this is a unique specimen, totally unique," he says, clearly emotional.

Opinion - Attenborough: The Link Is No Longer Missing.

Fact - Through radiometric dating of Messel's volcanic rocks, they discovered Ida lived 47 million years ago in the Eocene period.

Fact - This was when tropical forests stretched right to the poles, and South America was still drifting and had yet to make contact with North America.

Opinion - During that period, the first whales, horses, bats and monkeys emerged, and the early primates branched into two groups - one group lived on mainly as lemurs, and the second developed into monkeys, apes and humans.

Opinion - The experts concluded Ida was not simply a lemur but a 'lemur monkey', displaying a mixture of both groups, and therefore putting her at the very branch of the human line.
This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals. This is the one that connects us directly with them.

Opinion - Sir David Attenborough "When Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859, he said a lot about transitional species," said Prof Hurum “...and he said that will never be found, a transitional species, and his whole theory will be wrong, so he would be really happy to live today when we publish Ida.

Opinion - "This fossil is really a part of our history; this is part of our evolution, deep, deep back into the eons of time, 47 million years ago.

Opinion - "It's part of our evolution that's been hidden so far, it's been hidden because all the other specimens are so incomplete.

Opinion plus ad hominem - But no doubt there would have been one person happy for the missing link to have remained hidden. When Darwin famously told the Bishop of Worcester's wife about his theory of evolution, she remarked: "Descended from the apes! My dear, let us hope that it is not true, but if it is, let us pray that it will not become generally known."

Now, it certainly is.

The truth is that this is not the smoking gun that will end the evolution vs. creation debate. This so called “missing link” is at the beginning of the evolutionary story. What we have been shown is the link between lemurs and monkeys not monkeys and humans. There is no way to link this fossil to humans without completing the links in between.

The transitional smoking gun would be the link between modern man and primates somewhere closer in geological time. I understand the excitement of discovering a heretofore unknown species but I think scientists have overstated the discovery in their zeal to kill God.

It appears that “real” science and “real” journalism have evolved in parallel tracks. Both have abandoned neutrality in favor of advancing ideological agendas. Wishing it to be true does not make it true, but apparently calling it science or journalism does.

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