Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mary's Bones Part III: Is Evolution Science or Metaphysics?

I would like to begin to present here the ongoing results of a truly.........interesting sojourn at the TalkRational site.

Fair warning: If one clicks some of the links I will be providing in the course of this series of posts, and scans up and down the thread from them, one will likely encounter instances of blasphemy so utterly vile as to present a problem for me here.

Do I risk leading someone to a site where such incredible evil is not only permitted, but encouraged?

I conclude that only those spiritually prepared to enter the lion's den should enter it.

Otherwise, just stay here and I will present relevant posts with direct links sufficient to fairly characterize the arguments (minus the blasphemies).

Believe me, if I had the choice, I would stay here.

But since I am already in the lion's den, let me tell you that the lions have a big, big problem on their hands.

The problem consists in the existence of Cretaceous dinosaur bones presenting the extreme anomaly of soft tissues (now there are dozens and dozens of similar finds reported by separate teams of researchers working in widely divergent areas of the world).

First off: I learned a very important point concerning the C14 dating of the TRex bones related in Mary's Bones, Pt II.

In the update inserted at the top of that post, you will see the first substantive benefit I received from entering the lion's den.

The "relatively modern" ages reported in the abstract of the referenced paper by Kaye, et el (2008), are actually reported in the paper itself as far too modern; that is, the results obtained would be consistent with our TRex having croaked on a timescale:

"139.01%±0.65 of modern (1950) of 14C activity"

approximately consistent with last Tuesday.

Now that doesn't work for anybody, whether strict Darwinian, theistic evolutionist, or young earth creationist.

The date is clearly most plausibly associated with modern contamination of the sample.

But here, again, the plot thickens.

In this post, which is representative of dozens and dozens of others, an objector insists that C14 dating is never appropriate for Cretaceous specimens, since we already know that all Cretaceous fossils are at least 65 million years old, and C14 dating only returns valid dates on samples less than approximately 60,000 (carbon) years old.

My reply situates the real issue here:

Oh, this is rich.

The logical fallacy is "circulus in probando", or circular argumentation.

We have a bone.

We want to know if it is less than 60,000 carbon years old.

In order to do the experiment which will objectively answer the question, we must......

First determine whether the bone is less than 60,000 years old.

Sir, has it yet occurred to you yet that if you are receiving public funds of any kind to do "science", that you ought in conscience return them?

Now here is the basis of the problem for the lions.

The entire science of paleontology was developed precisely because it was assumed that ancient bones- like dinosaur bones, which are assumed to be at least scores of millions of years old- could never contain soft tissue, blood cells, and collagen- such organic substances would degrade much, much more quickly than that.

But the scientific method involves, always, the principle of falsifiability.

If one is pursuing a scientific program of research, then no matter how many times a given assumption has proven to be justified, even one well-established, confirmed, and carefully verified contrary observation is sufficient to call the assumption into question at the very least, and even to falsify it.

The existence of counter-predicted soft tissue in 80,000,000 year old dinosaur bones, therefore, calls the assumption of an 80,000,000 year age into question- at least if we are dealing with a scientific theory!

This principle of falsifiability is often associated with the great philosopher of science Karl Popper, who puts it this way:

"The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game."
  • Ch. 2 "On the Problem of a Theory of Scientific Method", Section XI: Methodological Rules as Conventions

The very best formulation of this principle, in my opinion, comes from Albert Einstein himself:

"No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong."


Is the Darwinian theory actually pursuing the anomaly on the basis of the scientific method?

UPDATE 2/13: The following link has been updated to reflect the progression of the discussion:

I argue it is not.

I argue that the Darwinian theory is instead a metaphysical research program.

The discussion is ongoing, and will be updated soon.


  1. In 'proving' evolution, magical thinking rules. It is an attempt to get around the scriptural dictate that kind reproduces kind. No one has ever proven that to be false, but the evolutionists must believe in magic or as you put it, metaphysics, for their atheistic vanity won't allow them to believe in creation and Genesis One.

  2. Thanks Steve!

    Your comment just led me to Mary's Bones Part IV :-)

  3. Fun, fun, fun. I remember telling my Geological Engineering father about the 300 foot pieces of land that can just 'flow away' from someones property here in the wet Northwest. My loving dad was surprised because living in Las Vegas, he figured 300 feet would take thousands of years. Was he surprised.