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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This is a new section (02 Feb 07) to our web site which we hope members of the BCSE will be interested in contributing to. This can be used to:

  • Outline the basic policies of the BCSE.
  • Discuss definitions of terms such as ID, fundamentalism, the scientific method, etc.
  • Respond to criticism being aimed at the BCSE.
  • Produce a list of counterarguments to common creationist claims.

To keep it manageable, the final item on this list would probably have to be restricted to those arguments popular in UK creationist scene, for example thermodynamics, ID etc, but if there is any whiz kid out there who really wants to make a name for themselves & have a go at knocking up a comprehensive UK based anticreationist resource, then don’t let the stragglers coughing & spluttering on their Pall Malls 200 yards behind stop you!

To avoid having to learn the mark up we suggest starting all headings in bold (which can be accessed from the editor) followed by simple text which has preferably been checked for spelling mistakes. Here’s some handy mark up:

>>clip<<
Boxes in text
>><<

Boxes in text

Don’t worry about the page becoming long & unwieldy, someone (any volunteers!) will come along & sort it out, create new pages & reorder into groups etc.

Start Here

This is the overall structure of our FAQ

Section 1: 1 Outline the basic policies of the BCSE. Section 2: Details of who and what we are Section 3: Responses to criticism being aimed at the BCSE (This was formerly Group 4) Section 4: Definitions of terms such as ID, fundamentalism, the scientific method, etc. Section 5: How do the Creationists Operate Section 6: A list of counter arguments to common creationist/IDer scientific claims. Section 7: A list of counter arguments to other (non-scientific) common creationist/IDer claims

In terms of work done, we suspect we are close to agreeing that group 3 of this revised list is complete.

To keep it manageable, Section 6 may have to be restricted to those arguments popular in UK creationist scene, for example thermodynamics, ID etc, but if there is any whiz kid out there who really wants to make a name for themselves & have a go at knocking up a comprehensive UK based anticreationist resource, then don’t let the stragglers coughing & spluttering on their Pall Malls 200 yards behind stop you!

One of the reasons for producing a FAQ is to also make use of material posted in our public forum here that would otherwise end up being lost over time. There is a lot of expertise amongst forum participants which it seems a shame to let waste.

A classic example is if a creationist asks why there are no intermediate fossil species. Most of us can answer this standing on our heads but a thought out reply by an expert may be far more useful in the long run.

To actually help put the FAQ together is not difficult. You can enter your work directly into the relevant section of the wiki part of the web site (writing and editing to wikis are dead easy; its only a slight variation on word processing software – it you can use M/S Word, then you will have no problem at all).

It’s also quite a fun thing to help to produce. You need only do the bits you want to and it provides a learning experience.

So, please step forward any volunteers. Some of us on the Committee will be contributing but the more the better.

Moreover, if you don’t want to contribute but have any suggestions for content, please do not hesitate to comment.


Section 1: Outline of BCSE Policies

1.1: What are the policies of the BCSE?

The basic policy of the BCSE is to try to prevent the teaching of young earth creationist and Intelligent Design pseudo-science in the science classrooms or as science in state funded schools in the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Our broader policies are to raise public awareness of the issues and to provide a comprehensive publicly available database on the subject. We use the media and the political system at national, regional and local level to get our message across. Where appropriate we also promote literature related to the issues. We either work directly or assist other organisations and individuals with the same objectives.

Our Constitution summarises this as follows:

The BCSE is established to:

1. Oppose the teaching of the unscientific ideas of “Creationism”, “Intelligent Design”, or any similar philosophies in the Science Classroom or as a Scientific Topic in schools which receive monies from the Public Purse in the British Isles.

2. In pursuit of the above objective, gather and present information about the activities and identities of creationists and creationist groups operating within the British Isles.

3. Provide such support as may be possible to individuals, national and local groups wishing to or actively campaigning within the remit of aims (1), always provided that the BCSE disassociates itself from any and all other issues.

BCSE relies on the efforts or its members to provide expertise and advice and our committee is drawn entirely from our membership. Policies and strategy are formed by the membership and implemented by the committee with the assistance of other members.

1.2: What is the BCSE's Position on Faith-Based Schools?

In so far as the British Centre for Science Education is a single issue organisation dedicated to trying to prevent the teaching of intelligent design and young earth creationism in science or as science in publicly funded schools, it has no position on publicly-funded faith-based schools.

Many people have robust opinions that faith-based schools are relevant to the issues which we address. However, our position is that we can only be interested where faith-based schools are used to push young earth creationism and/or intelligent design as science or in the science classroom and in that we do not differentiate them from other publicly financed schools pushing these same agendas.

The issue of faith-based schools is a very wide-ranging and complex part of public policies towards education in the United Kingdom.

As a consequence we have no hesitation in referring the public to other organisations that are addressing the issues of faith-based schools – both for and against. Whilst this does not mean that we necessarily agree with the position of such organisations, we are happy to work with them in addressing the issues where and when we find common cause and there are no major conflicts of interest with our single issue policy.

We would be very grateful if readers and others could provide us with the URLs of organisations both in favour of or opposed to faith based schools. Please feel free to email us at roger@bcseweb.org.uk with details.

Here are some such web sites:


Section 2: Who and What about the BCSE

2.1: What is the British Centre for Science Education?

The BCSE is a single-issue lobbying group whose aim is to prevent the teaching of pseudo-science, (in the form of young earth creationism and/or Intelligent Design in the science classroom, or as science, in state-funded schools in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. We believe that such pseudo-science is being promoted by its advocates, such as Truth in Science, purely for religious reason and has no scientific merit whatsoever. It is both a menace to good education and a threat to the very basis of the modern world in which we live.

2.2: Why has the BCSE been established?

The BCSE has been established by its members following increasing efforts by the proponents of young earth creationism to have Intelligent Design taught in British state-funded schools. The problem became apparent in 2002 following revelations about a state funded school in the North East of England and political lobbying by leading advocates of young earth creationism in the UK. Research and investigations in 2005 by individuals who later helped establish the BCSE indicated that a major problem was emerging. BCSE members believed at the time that the young earth creationist movement in the UK is well funded, well organised and determined. We were subsequently proven right by the launch of Truth in Science.

2.3: Who is behind the BCSE?

Its members. It is a cooperative effort open to all members of the public who share our aims and objectives. The members are mostly professional and managerial people who have benefited from education and are aware of the dangers poised by young earth creationism and Intelligent Design. BCSE is not yet backed by any other organisation although we receive advice from the US National Center for Science Education. We are not part of some conspiracy, national or international, with hidden backers. We are not part of the New World Order, the Illuminati, the Freemasons or any other alleged conspiratorial organisation some crackpot creationists believe exists.

2.4: What is the legal status of the BCSE?

It is a British-based voluntary not for profit organisation run entirely by unpaid volunteers. It is registered in the UK with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Because our work involves political lobbying, we are taking advice as to whether it can be registered with the Charity Commission. Our sole sources of funding at present is donations from members.

2.5: Does the BCSE membership consist only of scientists and teachers.

No. Indeed, far from it. BCSE members have a wide variety of backgrounds and qualifications. Some have experience of teaching and many have science qualifications of some sort. Others have backgrounds in mathematics, the social sciences, the arts and highly vocational disciplines such as engineering and management. We make no requirements that members are either scientists or educators. It neither requires any science qualifications or experience in teaching to know that young earth creationism and Intelligent Design are examples of pseudo-science. It is also your absolute right, whatever your qualifications and background are to oppose the teaching of creationism in science lessons. It is not an issue best left solely to scientists and educators. It’s your children and your money involved. We advise that the membership of Truth in Science contains very few working scientists or educators at secondary school level.

Here are some coments from members stating why they have joined the BCSE: "I am a member because I am a parent with three kids in various stages of the UK school system and I care about the attempts to smuggle religious indoctrination into science lessons."

"Likewise, but with 2 kids."

I am also a member because I care about truth and justice.

2.6: When was the BCSE formed?

The BCSE was put together between July 2006 and mid-September 2006. It is a new organisation. We had our first major policy successes in September and October.

2.7: How is the BCSE organised?

We have a formal constitution which can been seen on our wiki-based web site at http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/Constitution. It is run by a committee but all members are invited to help and participate in our activities. It is run along very democratic lines. At the moment all of the members contribute on a part-time basis in their free time. It is currently financed solely by member donations in cash and/or kind. Membership is currently conditional on providing a cash donation. It has no full time or paid employees. The BCSE is registered as a voluntary organisation. Because we lobby politically, we believe we are not able to register it as a charity.

2.8: How is the BCSE run?

Strategy is set by BCSE members; the elected committee is responsible for implementing strategy. The committee draws heavily on the expertise and voluntary efforts of members in doing so. Whilst we have a formal committee with members of it having designated responsibilities, it is run as a collective, team effort. A key element is the wiki-based part of our web site which provides the intelligence base on which we operate and advise the public and people of influence. The wiki part has a large number of contributors to it, including people who are not members of the BCSE. BCSE also runs a public forum for discussion of the issues involved in our activities. That is open to the public at large.

2.9: Who can join the BCSE?

Anyone can join the BCSE as long as they support its objectives and pay a small cash donation (of whatever size they feel fit). Membership is not restricted by any other criteria. Membership is not restricted by age, gender, political beliefs or affiliations, religious beliefs or affiliations, nationality or place of residence, qualifications, experience or occupation. It current membership is diverse and includes people in business, entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, teachers, the retired, clergy, consultants and so on. Members include Anglicans, Catholics, Evangelicals, agnostics, atheists, theists, humanists and secularists. For the most part, we are unaware of the political affiliations and beliefs of members. We don’t ask as it is not a condition of membership.

2.10: What is the BCSE’s Public Forum?

It’s a platform for open, public discussion of the issues pertaining to the teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design. It can be found here - http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum It is open to all members of the public (irrespective of whether or not they are members of the BCSE). The only requirement is that we ask users to stick to some standard basic rules in using it. BCSE has a team that lightly moderates the forum. You can use it whether or not you agree or disagree with the BCSE and its objectives. The forum is a form of public email exchange. As a public forum, it is open to people with robust opinions (they can be very strong, indeed) and we have therefore organised it into separate sections to stop flame wars. However, the most heavily used, by a long margin, is the Free for all section. There are also sections to discuss religion, secular matters and science. The News Section is a noticeboard where only moderators can post. It is not intended for discussions.

2.11: What is the BCSE’s Wiki?

Our web site is divided into two parts - a forum (http://www,bcseweb.org.uk/forum) for exchange of emails which is open to the public and a wiki-based section which acts as a conventional web site but is easier to use. They use different software as a matter of ncessity. A wiki is a form of web site software that allows easy updates and modifications by all those authorised to use it. It is much simpler to use that a conventional web site. Our wiki (which you are now reading part of) is basically the record of all our research into the creationist movement in the UK together with supporting information and details about our organisation. It’s primarily (but not exclusively) a reference source for researchers, journalists, politicians, clergy, anti-creationists, members of the public and so on who are interested in the issues. To edit and update, it is very similar in concept to Wikipedia although we do restrict access to editing it to people we know and trust. This is to prevent vandalism.

You can find out more about wikis in What is a Wiki?

2.12: How do I find information on the BCSE web site?

There is a table of contents on the left of the home page. Just click onto what area you want. Note, however, that there is also a section called “More” which provides further sections to click onto. If you want to find out about, say, an individual, click onto Who’s Who which will then provide a list (in alphabetical order by surname). Then click onto the name and you will find material on that person. Likewise with Creationist organisations. Just click onto Creationist Groups in the table of contents on the home page. There is also a search engine at the top of the page. It’s really easy to use. Just type in a word (say, a person’s surname) and it will bring up all occurrences which you can then click onto. If you want to refine the search by, say, using the full name of the person, including forename, use invested commas at the beginning and end of the phrase.

2.13: What is your policy about amending or changing the web site's content?

We are continuously updating it. Like all such sources of information it is never complete and we do, from time to time, make mistakes. We are therefore always very open to comments, complaints and criticisms as well as suggestions for new material or amendments and additions to existing material. There are a number of areas where we would be very pleased to receive material to post to it including relevant articles on science, critiques of creationist pseudo-science, information on creationist organisations and their activities, educational and religious issues and so on. We have no hesitation in allowing URL links to creationist sources. The wiki-based section (i.e. what you are reading now) provides email contacts allowing people to submit comments and material to us. You can also send information to us through our forum (http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/forum) but you have to register on it first. However, the wiki element of our web site is not, however, a platform for the dissemination of creationist material and opinions.


Section 3: Responses to Criticism of the BCSE

3.1: Is the BCSE an atheistic organisation?

No, the BCSE is a pluralist organisation that takes no stance on religion. People are free to join the BCSE or participate in its public forum irrespective of their beliefs. Members and participants include ordained religious ministers, evangelicals, Catholics, Anglicans, atheists, agnostics, theists and others holding a wide variety of other positions on religion. The BCSE is keen to attract people with a wide range of beliefs. However, all BCSE members are aware that their personal religious opinions are just that, personal and not those of the BCSE as an organisation.

3.2: Does the BCSE have a hidden agenda?

No, the BCSE is a single-issue organisation, whose constitution specifically states that its only purpose is to try to prevent the teaching in science lessons, or as science, creationism and Intelligent Design in state-funded schools.

3.3: Does the BCSE want to see religious education and religious services removed from schools?

No, it is outside the aims and objectives of the BCSE. The provision of RE and religious services in schools has never been considered by us. We have never formally discussed the issue and have no plans to do so. We believe to do so would seriously undermine BCSE's pluralist approach and dilute its effectiveness.

3.4: Is the BCSE trying to censor debate over creationism and Intelligent Design?

No. How could we? We are a group of private individuals who believe in democracy and operate a democratic organisation. We don't control the media, Internet or scientific journals. It is a frequent allegation from creationists and proponents of Intelligent Design that their opponents are all trying to censor promotion of their religious opinions. However, the science classroom of secondary schools is not a proper forum for public airing of their religious views, which run counter to scientific principles that have been firmly established since the 19th century.

3.5: Does the BCSE moderate its forum?

Yes, but moderators only exercise their abilities to edit posts in the event of a breach of the forum rules, notably by posting material utterly unrelated to the topic or by cutting and pasting large articles from other web sites. These are standard rules normally applied by the providers of public discussion forums on Internet. One of the reasons why BCSE has a public forum, which has attracted a number of creationists, is to provide a platform to debate the scientific and other issues surrounding creationism and Intelligent Design.

3.6: Does the BCSE have any foreign connections?

Yes. We have a number of participants in our forum and members who at not British citizens and are not resident in the UK. We also have members who are British citizens but resident outside of the UK. We have received considerable and valuable advice from them as well as the National Centre for Science Education in the USA. However, we are neither funded by the later nor part of it. We believe it necessary to attract support from outside of the UK because the creationist movement in the UK also has considerable support from the USA and Australia (in particular). As a new organisation we need to be able to draw on all the foreign expertise we can. Young earth creationism and Intelligent Design are basically imports from the USA, being promoted here by American organisations or using American produced material and US organisational skills and practices.

3.7: You have been described as political activists. Is that true?

Yes. Of course we are. There is nothing at all wrong or untoward with being politically active in a democracy. The only sort of person who would suggest otherwise almost certainly has very strong authoritarian views that run counter to the fundamental principles of democracy. The teaching of creationism and Intelligent Design in science classrooms in state schools is a political issue. The department for Education and Skills is ultimately responsible for the National Curriculum and it is your and our money, through the taxation system, that pays for state education. The state education system is accountable to the politicians and the politicians are ultimately accountable to the public, of which we are members. Moreover, the young earth creationist movement in the UK is highly politically active as well and has been for years. The matter is so serious that it has to be political. What we must say, again, is that we are a single issue organisation, unaligned to any political party or organisation.

3.8: Do people at BCSE hold extreme political views?

Not as far as we know. Those involved in BCSE are all ordinary people with mainstream political beliefs and opinions that you would normally find amongst a typical cross-section of the public. The BCSE as previously stated is a single-issue pressure group and as such is apolitical. The BCSE itself operates on the fundamental democratic principles we are all familiar with. Membership of the BCSE is open to anyone providing their membership does not compromise the overriding need for pluralism and diversity.


6: Claims by creationists about science.

6.1: Why don't coelecanths show the theory of evolution to be wrong?

This is a reply to an email from a creationist making claims about coelecanths.

The statment is as follows: “The coelecanth is a fish - Latimeria chalumnae. An index fossil - a complete fish. Only able to breed with other similar species. Not transitional at all - although the evolutionary world had hoped it would be. They needed to account for 150 million years of history where no ancestors of amphibians had been found in your disastrous fossil record. Long it had been held up as an example of how fish were evolving into amphibians and so it would be found in the geological column above primitive bony fish long since extinct. How gutted you all must have been when it was discovered very much alive and well in the sea off of South Africa in the late 1950s. “

Emailer’s statement: “The coelecanth is a fish - Latimeria chalumnae. An index fossil - a complete fish.”

“Coelacanth” is not a species of fish. It’s an order of fish which covers over 120 known different species (not just one) in several different families/genera. Latimeria chalumnae is just one of these species. Moreover, there are two (not one) species of Coelacanth alive today, Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoensis. There is no evidence to suggest that these two species can interbreed with each other (they live some 10,000 kms apart.) Current scientific evidence suggests that they diverged from each other about 40-30 million years ago.

It’s ludicrously stupid to describe Latimeria chalumnae as an index fossil. No fossils of this species have ever been found.

The two living species are of the genus Latimeria and are the only known examples. No other species of the genus is yet known in the fossil record. However, in the family (Family Latimeriidae) of the Latimeria genus, the genus Marcropoma is said to closely resemble the two living species. From known fossils it appears to have been only 2 feet long whereas the modern species grow to over 6 feet.

Both the living species give live birth to their offsprings. It is understood that they may be unique amongst Coelacanths in this respect.

The emailer seems to be claiming that Coelacanths prove the theory of evolution is wrong because they are “Only able to breed with other similar species.” So what? That’s the basic definition of a species – that they can only successfully and sustainably breed with each other.

(From my understanding fossil Coelacanths are nearly always, if not universally, much smaller than the two modern species which grow up to six feet in length or more. Many fossil Coelacanths are no larger than minnows and few more than 55 cm (less than 2 feet). At least one young earth creationist has fantasised that this is wrong because ALL fossil Coelacanths are fossils of “babies”. That the young of modern Coelacanths are actually known as pups seems to have passed the person by. If it were ever possible to recreate exactly known extinct species of Coelacanths, it is highly unlikely that any of them could breed with the two existing species and no one has ever suggested otherwise.)

It appears that our emailer has been drawing his information from either religious tracts or creationist web sites/material. Had he any understanding of modern Coelacanths he would have realised that there are two species, the Indonesian one being discovered in 1997. It is very common for uninformed young earth creationists to cite from material years out of date because they do not understand that scientific knowledge is increasingly rapidly. It’s usually evidence that they know nothing at all about science.

Emailer suggesting that scientists claim the Coelecanth to be a transitional species: “I completely disagree. Name one to get me started. Archaeopteryx, Seymouria, Coelecanth? Name one definite transitional form... “

The two modern Coelacanths are not claimed to be transitional species. They will only become transitional if new species evolve from them. Since there is a danger that they will become extinct because of modern fishing techniques it looks unlikely that this will happen. They are exceedingly rare, perhaps totalling no more than a few thousand in number.

Most fossil species are transitional in that new species evolve from older species. It’s only where the species comes to be the end of the line that they are not transitional.

Here, from Wikipedia, is a summary of the taxonomy (classification) of coelacanths:

Class Sarcopterygii (lob fined fishes which include Tiktaalik_roseae)

Subclass Coelacanthimorpha

Order COELACANTHIFORMES

Family Coelacanthidae (extinct)

  • Axelia (extinct)
  • Wimania (extinct)
  • Ticinepomis (extinct)
  • Coelacanthus (extinct)

Family Mawsoniidae (extinct)

  • Alcoveria (extinct)
  • Axelrodichthys (extinct)
  • Chinlea (extinct)
  • Diplurus (extinct)
  • Mawsonia (extinct)

Family Latimeriidae

  • Holophagus (extinct)
  • Undina (extinct)
  • Libys (extinct)
  • Macropoma (extinct)
  • Macropomoides (extinct)
  • Megacoelacanthus (extinct)
  • Latimeria (alive)

L. menadoensis (Indonesian coelacanth)

L. chalumnae (Comorese coelacanth)

My understanding is that most fossil Coelacanths belong to the extinct Coelacanthidae Family.

Claims that Coelacanths were used as index fossils until (or after) the first live Coelacanth was caught in 1938 appear to be without foundation. Creationists commonly make the claim but it appears that all such claims are unsubstantiated and unchecked repeats of the same mistake made by Whitcomb and Morris in The Genesis Flood in 1961 (no references where given there either, it appears).

(Index fossils are fossils used to define and identify geological periods.)

Indeed, technically there is no reason why Coelacanth fossils could not be used today as index fossils. The two living species belong to a completely separate genus from all the other species (all of which are only known from fossils).

It appears that the reason why Coelacanth fossils are not, and never have been, used as index fossils has nothing at all to do with the 1938 discovery of a live Coelacanth. It seems that they are simply not very useful as index fossils.

This reference - http://www.antievolution.org/topics/law/ar_hb2548/ - states that “A search of the GeoRef database (http://www.agiweb.org/georef/), covering 1785 to 2000, found no instance of a paper citing use of Latimeria (or any other sarcopterygian fish, extant or extinct) as an index fossil.”

In others words, fish generally speaking don’t make good index fossils. Roughly speaking there are four criteria which determine whether a fossil makes a good index fossil.

  • 1. The fossils are common (comparatively speaking, not so with fish).
  • 2. They evolved rapidly (with 120 odd species over 410m years, not generally the case with Coelacanths).
  • 3. They are easily recognised (not that easy with fish fossils).
  • 4. Are geographically widely spread.

The oldest known fossil coelacanth consists of a jaw found in a stratum datable 410 million years ago that was collected near Buchan in Victoria, Australia. It was given the name Eoactinistia foreyi when it was published in September 2006. However Dawkins suggests that first Coelacanths emerged about 425 million years ago.

Main body of the emailer’s comments on Coelacanths: “An index fossil - a complete fish. Only able to breed with other similar species. Not transitional at all - although the evolutionary world had hoped it would be. They needed to account for 150 million years of history where no ancestors of amphibians had been found in your disastrous fossil record. Long it had been held up as an example of how fish were evolving into amphibians and so it would be found in the geological column above primitive bony fish long since extinct. How gutted you all must have been when it was discovered very much alive and well in the sea off of South Africa in the late 1950s. “

As far as I am aware, nobody claims that amphibians evolved from Coelacanths. That may have been the case in 1938 but it isn’t now. According to Dawkins amphibians probably evolved from an extinct group of lobefins called Osteolepiforms, some time in the late Devonian period (there is still a lot of scientific debate about this). These would have had common ancestry with Coelacanths but that does not mean amphibians evolved from Coelacanths. Basically amphibians evolved from lungfish not Ceolacanths. The Coelacanthimorpha order is a separate side-branch of the fish group that gave rise to the amphibians (and, in turn, reptiles, birds and mammals).

I can’t make head nor tail what this person is talking about with his 150m years. 150 million years between what? There seems to be, at maximum, no more that 80m years between the appearance of the first Coelacanth and the first amphibian and only 70 million between the last known fossil Coelacanth species and the modern Coelacanth species.

Coelacanths ARE found in the fossil record above “primitive bony fishes” (whatever the emailer means by that). They are found right up until near the end of the Cretaceous period. Ray-finned fish date back 440 million years and fish in the broadest sense, appear to have emerged in the Cambrian period. I think what the emailer is getting at is the sort of “bony” fish that were common in the Devonian period with external, bone like, armour.

The first modern Coelacanth was not found off the coast of South Africa in the late 1950s. It was found in 1938. The second coelacanth was found in the Comoros (near Madagascar) in 1952. The first example of the Indonesian species was not identified until as recently as 1997.

“How gutted you all must have been when it was discovered very much alive and well…” Why would anyone have been “gutted” by the discovery in 1938? Young earth creationism had been killed off by the Scopes trial a decade earlier. The discovery is wholly consistent with evolutionary theory and thinking. It was an interesting and very useful find that added to our knowledge but made no profound impact on the theory of evolution, nor raised any doubts about it.

Indeed, it is pretty predictable from what we understand about evolution that the two current species have left no known fossils. Whilst Coelacanths were abundant up until around near the end of the Cretaceous period, the fossil record shows that they were mostly living in shallow water environments, exactly where most fossils come from. The two modern species are relatively deep water fish living in very specialised ecological niches unsuited to the formation of fossils. The vast majority of fossils are formed in shallow water marine sediments.

It also does not require rocket science to work out that as the two living species of Coelacanths are exceedingly rare (possible totalling no more than a few thousand in number) that fossil remains of them are very unlikely to be ever found.

Indeed, their survival as a relatively deep water fish is also consistent with other orders that were once very abundant such as brachiopods. It seems that as ecology and environment changes, evolution results in phylums or orders being pushed to the margins, leaving newer groups to dominate the more resource rich areas. It seems that the once abundant brachiopods were largely replaced by bivalve molluscs following the end of the Permian period. Nowadays brachiopods are typically deep water creatures whereas prior to the end of the Permian, they were predominantly shallow water living.

That there are no fossil records of Coelacanths more recent than about 70m years ago is thus not surprising although the awareness of the condescension of posterity precludes me from saying “predictable”. It only needs on to turn up and it would be wrong.

Moreover, it is completely irrelevant whether or not modern Coelacanths are closely related to known fossil Coelacanths. It makes not an iota of difference to our understanding of evolution either way. Even if the modern coelacanth and fossil coelacanths were the same, it would not be a serious problem for evolution. The theory of evolution does not say that all organisms must evolve and it certainly doesn’t predict that they won’t.

There are loads of lists of transitional fossils. Here are a few:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils

Detailed list and explanation from Talk Origins by Kathleen Hunt, dated 1997: http://talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html

This blog looks at transitional species amongst insects: http://darwinblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/transitional-species-in-insect_24.html

Here is another private web site that gives a load of examples: http://darwiniana.org/transitionals.htm

6.2: Is the theory of evolution about to collapse?

No. Various creationists have been claiming this since Darwin first had published the Origin of the Species in 1859. It's never happened yet the claims continue. The vast majority of scientists continue to accept evolutionary theory and there is no evidence at all that a growing number dispute it. Today's "young earh creationism" has been around for nearlly 50 years but its proponents have been unable to either publish a single refereed (peer reviewed) paper providing any alternative. Nor has creationism contributed one iota of increase in our scientific knowledge.

Glenn Morton of BCSE has written a paper showing that creationists have been crying wolf with monotonous regularity for at least a hundred and fifty years about the imminent demise of the theory of evolution.You can find the paper here.


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