Friday, October 29, 2004

Flores Man and the Imago Dei - Evolutionary desperation...

The evolutionary world has been going gaga recently over a new fossil find. From Nature we read,
It sounds too incredible to be true, but this is not a hoax. A species of tiny human has been discovered, which lived on the remote Indonesian island of Flores just 18,000 years ago. Researchers have so far unearthed remains from eight individuals who were just one metre tall, with grapefruit-sized skulls. These astonishing little people, nicknamed 'hobbits', made tools, hunted tiny elephants and lived at the same time as modern humans who were colonizing the area.
Why all the fuss? Well, the unique distinctiveness of modern humans, while blatantly evident, is virtually impossible to explain in evolutionary terms. Combine that distinctiveness with the relatively recent appearance of modern humans - what is sometimes referred to as the Mind's Big Bang - and what you end up with is evidence for the Biblical account of mankind's origin. So finding an evolutionary relative, contemporary with modern humans, is cause for naturalistic celebration. One should note that when the folks at Nature say a species of tiny human, they aren't referring to a bunch of jockeys itching to ride the Triple Crown. Evolutionists will sometimes use the term "human" to refer to bipedal primates as far back as Australopithecus, or at least as far back as Homo ergaster. Rendering of Homo floresiensis from National Geographic. Flores So-Called Man, according to the article, is considered to be an offshoot of Homo erectus. If you'll note, in the following diagram, that Homo floresiensis is at the tail end of a sliver spiking upwards from Homo erectus. No mention is made that, at present, there is no fossil evidence connecting the two. Despite the overwhelming evidence of modern human uniqueness, evolutionists continue their quest for any shred of evidence that indicates humanity is not so special afterall. Henry Gee, in a Nature column titled, Flores, God and Cryptozoology, concludes with,
Until now. If it turns out that the diversity of human beings was always high, remained high until very recently and might not be entirely extinguished, we are entitled to question the security of some of our deepest beliefs. Will the real image of God please stand up? (emphasis added)
The evolutionary biologists are drooling over the apparent fact* that Homo floresiensis had "tools" 18,000 years ago, yet they seem to ignore the fact that Homo sapiens explored art some 30,000 years ago. What is it about that Homo sapiens species that causes it to be so concerned with the abstract? Further reference: The Leap to Two Feet RTB Response to: Up From The Apes * the National Geographic article states, The skeleton was found in the same sediment deposits on Flores that have also been found to contain stone tools. There was no indication that the tools were found with the Homo floresiensis fossils.

13 comments:

Paul said...

Why all the fuss? Well, the unique distinctiveness of modern humans, while blatantly evident, is virtually impossible to explain in evolutionary terms.No it isn't. There's a range of opinion on the exact path we took to get here, but there is a clear understanding that we arose from natural processes, and that our uniqueness (by which I assume you mean our advanced self-awareness and associated concepts) could come from those processes. An impressive thing, as any biologist would tell you, but not even close to impossible.

Combine that distinctiveness with the relatively recent appearance of modern humans - what is sometimes referred to as the Mind's Big Bang - and what you end up with is evidence for the Biblical account of mankind's origin.What, that the universe was created in 7 days, and that man is made out of clay and breath? Homo Florensiensis may turn out to prove many things, but the biblical account is not at the top of the list.

Rusty said...

Paul,

You're probably not surprised that I completely disagree with you on this. I've heard the attempts to explain human distinctiveness away through naturalistic means and, in my opinion, they're all grasping at straws. Go rent PBS' Evolution series and closely watch The Mind's Big Bang episode. Listen to Steven Pinker describe how the changes in the human brain were immensely complex - upwards of a 100 billion nerve cells and 100 trillion connections - and isn't it fascinating how evolution wired this stuff to support evolution? [ed. note - missing is 'how' evolution could do such a thing] Or listen to the episode How Does Evolution Work and Geoffrey Miller posit that the complex human brain evolved through a guidance that "wasn't God," but through natural selection based on mate selection. [ed. note - Miller provides us with no evidence that his theory is correct, much less evidence to conclude that the guidance "wasn't God."]

These are but two examples of evolutionary explanations that assume the phenomenon arrived through natural means in spite of having no means to demonstrate it as such. I stand by my opinion that the evolutionary community has no clue as to how human distinctiveness arose.

By the Biblical account of mankind's origin, in the context of my comment, I mean that mankind arrived on the scene relatively recently (within the past 50,000 years) and that mankind is uniquely distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom (i.e., the qualities of the Image of God as posited by the Bible).

Paul said...

The series you mentioned is now on my Blockbuster list :)

I think you may be confusing two separate issues. Just because we can't come up with an experiment to show brain evolution happening, that doesn't mean we can't show how it can happen, or have confidence that it did. The problem isn't the theory, it's the difficulty of the experiment. For example, it has been shown that the connections formed in the brain are controlled by relatively straightforward chemical processes, and that minor perturbations in that process can change brain structure. That gives us a way of producing variation, and natural selection gives us a way of picking between the variations thus thrown up.

A couple of other points for clarification; why was homo sapiens only exploring art 30,000 years ago? Assuming for a moment that you don't think they were the intellectual match of us today, do you think that your God evolved them? Or if they were our equals, what were they doing between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago? And for that matter between then and now?

Second question; what fossil evidence of a link between erectus and flores would you expect? A set of father-son skeletons stretching back 2 million years?

Rusty said...

Paul,

Glad to have turned you on to the Evolution series. It was a very well produced piece of naturalistic propaganda. ;^)

I'm well aware of the way evolutionary scenarios are posited. However, to posit that a mechanism could perform a certain function is inherently different from demonstrating that the mechanism is capable of performing the function. So simply because connections in the brain are controlled by natural processes does not warrant the extrapolation that such processes, over long periods of time, can produce the complex brain that homo sapiens possess.

I wasn't claiming that humans didn't start artistic expression until 30,000 years ago, just that the particular example I showed was dated in that range. I'll have to check on the earliest artistic expression found among modern humans, but I believe it is around 40,000 years ago. If humans were created 50,000 years ago then we would expect artistic expression at that time as well. Keep in mind that Old Earth creationists put the creation of Adam and Eve anywhere from 10,000 to 60,000 years ago. Note also that the "complex" artistic techniques displayed were not due to technical knowledge but to artistic expression - an abstract quality.

Regarding erectus to floresiensis, I would expect much more than a 2 million year, half size gap. Extrapolations tend to be made based on philosophical bias rather than actual empirical data.

DarkSyde said...

The phylogeny of LB1 is unknown at this time although it's the subject of immense speculation. Some feel that it's a descendent of H erectus such as Java man. Others feel it's a descendent of an earlier hominid such as an h. rudolphensis or an australopethicine. The brain size is very odd. It's below the range even of a. afarensis (Lucy).
What it does not do is pose a problem for evolution. You'd need something like human remains in the cambrian to do that.

DarkSyde said...

Evolution:

1.-The process of change in the traits of organisms or populations over time. Evolution, through the process of natural selection, can lead to the formation of new species.


2.-[n] (biology) the sequence of events involved in the evolutionary development of a species or taxonomic group of organisms

3.-Diversification and speciation from common ancestor[s].

4.-A change in the frequency of alleles within a population over time resulting in morphological change and increased reproductive fitness of a population in it's respective environment.

Dwarfism:

Examples of dwarfism on Islands: 1. Dinosaurs in Romania and Madagascar, 2. Mammoths on Aleutian Islands, 3. Elephants in Indonesia 4. Sloths and 5. Now perhaps Humans/Hominids in Flores

So we have a rich evolutionary history of dwarfism on Islands, we have the definition for evolution which revolves centrally around the idea of 'change in appearance/morphology' and we have the idea of speciation and diversification from common ancestors, and now we MAY, and I stress MAY, have dwarf hominids now on an island near Indonesia showing ancestral traits of early hominids.... How does LB1 not fit in with evolution again Rusty?

386sx said...

So finding an evolutionary relative, contemporary with modern humans, is cause for naturalistic celebration.
Other causes for naturalistic celebration:

       Every time I turn on my car.

       Every time I order pizza.

       Every time I don't jump out my ten story window.

       Every time I win the lotto! Woo hoo!

Joseph said...

Rusty,

I've been following links on Flores man and I ended up here, in your blog. And I have to tell you that you're reaching on this one. I realise that you desperately need to believe in something because the culture we live in is so unrewarding, so... unsatisfying, but one must face the facts sooner or later and thus free him- or herself from ignorance. After all, what it all comes down to is that we've all been read a very good story since the day we could understand language. Why? Because the mentality in the Middle Ages was that of a desire to control people--the way the think, the way they behave--so that those doing the controlling could play God, could rule. Impressive how this story has survived all of this time.

As to Flores man, well, in the absence of his discovery, I can take you in to any zoological laboratory in the world and prove to you beyond any doubt that we evolved. His discovery only adds to the ever-mounting pile of undeniable evidence.

All of that aside, though, I think that you need to understand the purpose and practise of science, and the scientific method. Science is not out to disprove the existence of a god - this would be both arrogant and futile. This is not its purpose. Science is simply the pursuit of truth via physical evidence; proof. In fact, the very first thing that a scientist does is to attempt to punch holes in his or her theory any way that he or she can; to disprove it. If this cannot be done, then there is something significant worth looking in to there. Scientists DO NOT put forth forgery in a pointless attempt to grapple with the church. You're just going to have to let that one go.

As to the human body being unique, I have a challenge for you. I challenge you to provide an explanation for the fact that we all possess a vestigial appendix: an organ that is found in every primate on the planet, only in the active form in their case. They use it as a kind of secondary stomach, for the digestion of bark and other coarse materials in their diet. Yet we don't have these things in our diet any longer and have a vestigial appendix as a result; a seemingly worthless organ. Also, are you aware that we are one of only a few species on this planet whose pharynx and eosophagus cross over, making choking a possiblity? Most other species have had this evolutionary flaw removed through the process of natural selection. And finally, what of our weak pectoral girdle? It is of the same design of that of primates, yet it causes us no end of back problems. Studies have shown that this is entirely a result of our transition to full bipedalism, and our lack of further evolution due to our temprorary leave of the natural process. This is hardly evidence of superior design, in my opinion. And I challenge you to explain this to me, without falling back on some excuse that it's somehow part of a grand plan. If you can manage to do this--and you'll be the first--then I will open my ears to another possibility, but only then.

Peace.

Joseph said...

One more thing, Rusty: science has no need for propaganda (see above). No offense, but this accusation is completely unfounded and, well, ludicrous. Propagandists best serve governments with ulterior motives, and 'terrorists' (both Eastern and Western fundamentalists) with a very confused cause.

Rusty said...

Hello Joseph,

Your argument regarding Middle Age mentality sounds eerily like the chronological snobbery that C. S. Lewis wrote about. I have a desperate need to believe in something because our culture is so unrewarding, and the facts will somehow set me free? Can you, without relying on “the facts,” demonstrate to me why I should trust “the facts”? What about this desperate need? Are you saying that “the facts” will satisfy or do away with that need? What about the need itself? Do “the facts” explain to me where this need came from, what it is comprised of, or even whether or not it really exists?

You’re new to my blog, but you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I disagree with your statement regarding human evolution. I would argue that what is beyond doubt is the fact of the lack of solid evidence that modern humans evolved from early primates. Finding a fossil of a species that has similar structure to humans is not sufficient. Reliable mechanisms must be posited which are capable of producing the changes necessary to, say: turn a quadraped into a biped, produce an inherently larger brain to body ratio, turn a species driven by instinct into one driven by reason, etc. The evolutionary paradigm has yet to do this.

I understand the scientific method and have no problem with it. In fact, I wholeheartedly support scientific research. My issue is with how scientific data is interpreted, and the worldview which drives such interpretation. I don’t recall ever stating that scientists put forth forgery in an attempt to grapple with the church (not that there may, in fact, be unscrupulous scientists out there who would do such a deed – but I have stated before that dishonest behavior is found in limited measure… limited to the human race).

A clarification on how I view the human body. While its genetic signature is unique, it is not unique in the sense that it resembles other species in physical structure or operation. With regards to my Flores man post I am primarily highlighting the uniqueness of modern humans with regards to abstract thinking (e.g., spirit worship, creative expression, concern with justice, concern with the afterlife, etc.).

Do you see how you address the data through evolutionary spectacles? The appendix is vestigial; its form (active) appears in every primate; they use it to process dietary items we no longer consume; conclusion? – we evolved from primates and the organ is no longer needed since we no longer consume the same dietary items. This is circular reasoning: your conclusion that we used to eat bark is based on the assumption that we evolved from bark eating primates; and your conclusion that we have the appendix as a remnant of our prior form again assumes that we evolved. Similarity in form and function does not mandate an evolutionary sequence. It very well may be that we evolved from bark eating primates, but the mere existence of an appendix does not demonstrate that.

The same could be said with your description of the esophagus. How do you conclude that most other species have had this evolutionary flaw removed by the process of natural selection?

And what of your description of our back problems? It would seem that natural selection, rather than changing a species, actually maintains it. You yourself seem to imply as much when you note that humans have circumvented the process of natural selection. Our increased knowledge and technology has allowed us a better quality of life, but at the price of larger bodies.

One feature of design that is overlooked by critics is that of intention – namely, the designer’s intention. If the intention is unknown or, worse yet, misidentified, then conclusions about the soundness of the design may be flawed. Anyone involved in engineering is familiar with the concept of design intentions as well as: trade-offs, functional lifetime, operating environment, redundancy, cross-checking, feedback loops, extraneous parameters, etc.

The idea of non-functionality for the appendix seems to be eroding (see this Scientific American link). Of course, the evolutionary response could be that the appendix evolved from helping to digest bark to that of helping the immune response system.

If humans wouldn’t bite off more than they can chew, then they’d choke a lot less. The pharynx and esophagus work fine when food is ingested in true bite-size chunks. It’s also interesting to note that the design allows humans to produce a wider variety of sounds.

I agree that science has no need for propaganda; it’s those entrenched in the belief that "nature is all there is" that do.

Regards

Joseph said...

Hello, Rusty. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

Firstly, when I speak of 'the facts', I am speaking of the pysical evidence that has been found to exist on this planet, all around us; the undeniable proof. Nothing more. However, these facts are not what I am suggesting will 'set you free'... or set me free, or set anyone else free, for that matter. What I meant by a desperate need to believe in something is this: our culture offers us little more than the most laborious existence in our history. There is also very little left in it that can even be considered sacred. Even a sense of community - something we require as social beings - has been greatly diminished. And our culture offers us very little in the way of reward.

Rusty, our system might work well for those sitting atop of a capitalistic hierarchy, and even offer a sort of pacification in mediocrity to the 'middle class', but it offers the masses nothing at all, and it ultimately fails at all levels. It is no more than the result of a vision, and one that began with the idea of putting the food under lock and key and forcing people to work for it. Of course this didn't occur so quickly - there were centuries of detribalisation and other such crusades (practises still in existence today i.e. Americanisation) that brought us to the point where we are today. Having said that, however, the time from the conception of this kind of 'totalitarian agriculture' and the following industrial revolution was a rather short one in the history of mankind. What had worked for millions of years for humans on this planet was changed rather quickly, in fact, Rusty.

As to evolution, evidence of it is to be found everywhere in nature. Evolution is taking place outside of your door this very moment; creatures are adapting to change, genes are being selcted for and against, and new creatures are emerging as a result. This is something that could only be denied by one that is attempting to view it through a different pair of spectacles. Speaking of which, don't you find it funny how we are so reluctant to let go of what we have been conditioned to believe is the foundation of right and wrong in our culture? Talk about some extremly tight-fitting spectacles - we cannot possiloby imainge that humans ever lived (will ever live) any other way in the world that we are today. I mena, of course we can distinguish between what we rad about say, the Middle Ages, and now, but I am speaking of something much older than our conveniently recored history. I am speaking of tribal societies. Our ancestors and co-inhabitants of this planet, the survivors still living as they always did, in harmony with the natural world... at least for now. At least until we finish our mission of detribalisation completely, when these peoples become inconvenient for us. There's something very important to see in all of this, Rusty, something to ponder, and it's the possibility that we lost our way somewhere aloing the path, Rusty.

As to your points of rebuttal on human anatomy, allow me just to say that we see what we want to see, what we need to see, and we will use whatever opinion supports our view. This is something that all humans in our culture do. But the 'bite-size chunks' thing is funny - I'll give you that.

Rusty, where you see a better quality of life, thanks to 'knowledge' and technology, I see a life of rather poor quality of life, thanks to the very same things. And if we continue on this self-destructive path I can assure you of our extinction. And there isn't a technological program in the world that will prevent it from happening.

As to those that believe that 'nature is all there is', I think that this statement is a vague one. It requires more of an explanation. What exactly is nature, in your opinion? And who are these people that believe that it is all there is? And are they 'evil' in your mind, simply yet to be saved, or is it possible that you simply don't understand their belief system(s)?

Peace.

Joseph said...

My apologies...

I should have read what I wrote before I posted it. I apologise for the jumbled mess in certain areas as a result of it being very late. I hope that you can make out what I attempted to convey.

Good night.

Rusty said...

Hi Joseph,

No need to apologize for some jumbled thoughts… I’ve been there many times myself.

To get a better idea of my viewpoints on the evolution debate, you might want to check some of my past posts:

How certain aspects of the planning process apply to intelligent design arguments:
I didn't plan it this way

What are your intentions?

Attributes of a designer

A scheduling nightmare

My critique of H. Allen Orr’s review of Dembski’s No Free Lunch:
Part 1

Part 2


My attempt to realistically portray methodological naturalismRegards