Thursday, January 24, 2008

A theory of desperation

"Evolutionary theory has been enshrined as the centerpiece of our educational system, and elaborate walls have been erected around it to protect it from unnecessary abuse. - - What the 'record' shows is nearly a century of fudging and finagling by scientists attempting to force various fossil morsels and fragments to conform with Darwin's notions, all to no avail. Today the millions of fossils stand as very visible, ever-present reminders of the paltriness of the arguments and the overall shabbiness of the theory that marches under the banner of evolution."
(Jeremy Rifkin, Algeny [New York: Viking Press, 1983], pp. 112, 125)


human rorschach test said...

Here we agree to a point. Animals surely change, but what on earth did man evolve from, and where is it's remains now?

One of the sumerian texts that genesis was plagiarized from states (roughly) that the gods made man in their image. They did this by taking the essence of an animal into the womb of a goddess. The first man is called the Adama, or servant. Of course, we call him Adam. It also mentions other races they created.

I guess my point is that semitic religions want us to think that we were created to work hard, and then in the new testament all we have to have is faith (and obedience).

I think you might find it interesting that researchers in 2005 that had put together the most complete neanderthal skeleton said that there is no way we evolved from them! It's just a cousin of ours, like the chimpanzee they say, due to it's radically different physique.

Jeff said...

Yes, I do find that interesting. Thanks for letting me know that.

You may already be familiar with some or all of the following embarrassing events:

"Piltdown Man: An Orang-utan Jaw and a Human Skull!

In 1912, a well-known doctor and amateur paleoanthropologist named Charles Dawson came out with the assertion that he had found a jawbone and a cranial fragment in a pit in Piltdown, England. Even though the jawbone was more ape-like, the teeth and the skull were like a man's. These specimens were labelled the "Piltdown man". Alleged to be 500,000 years old, they were displayed as an absolute proof of human evolution in several museums. For more than 40 years, many scientific articles were written on "Piltdown man", many interpretations and drawings were made, and the fossil was presented as important evidence for human evolution. No fewer than 500 doctoral theses were written on the subject. While visiting the British Museum in 1921, leading American paleoanthropologist Henry Fairfield Osborn said "We have to be reminded over and over again that Nature is full of paradoxes" and proclaimed Piltdown "a discovery of transcendant importance to the prehistory of man.

In 1949, Kenneth Oakley from the British Museum's Paleontology Department, attempted to use "fluorine testing", a new test used for determining the date of fossils. A trial was made on the fossil of the Piltdown man. The result was astonishing. During the test, it was realised that the jawbone of Piltdown Man did not contain any fluorine. This indicated that it had remained buried no more than a few years. The skull, which contained only a small amount of fluorine, showed that it was not older than a few thousand years old.

It was determined that the teeth in the jawbone belonging to an orangutan, had been worn down artificially and that the "primitive" tools discovered with the fossils were simple imitations that had been sharpened with steel implements. In the detailed analysis completed by Joseph Weiner, this forgery was revealed to the public in 1953. The skull belonged to a 500-year-old man, and the jaw bone belonged to a recently deceased ape! The teeth had been specially arranged in a particular way and added to the jaw, and the molar surfaces were filed in order to resemble those of a man. Then all these pieces were stained with potassium dichromate to give them an old appearance. These stains began to disappear when dipped in acid. Sir Wilfred Le Gros Clark, who was in the team that uncovered the forgery, could not hide his astonishment at this situation and said: "The evidences of artificial abrasion immediately sprang to the eye. Indeed so obvious did they seem it may well be asked-how was it that they had escaped notice before?" In the wake of all this, "Piltdown man" was hurriedly removed from the British Museum where it had been displayed for more than 40 years.

Nebraska Man: A Single Pig Tooth

In 1922, Henry Fairfield Osborn, the director of the American Museum of Natural History, declared that he had found a fossil molar tooth belonging to the Pliocene period in western Nebraska near Snake Brook. This tooth allegedly bore common characteristics of both man and ape. An extensive scientific debate began surrounding this fossil, which came to be called "Nebraska man", in which some interpreted this tooth as belonging to Pithecanthropus erectus, while others claimed it was closer to human beings. Nebraska man was also immediately given a "scientific name", Hesperopithecus haroldcooki.

Many authorities gave Osborn their support. Based on this single tooth, reconstructions of the Nebraska man's head and body were drawn. Moreover, Nebraska man was even pictured along with his wife and children, as a whole family in a natural setting.

All of these scenarios were developed from just one tooth. Evolutionist circles placed such faith in this "ghost man" that when a researcher named William Bryan opposed these biased conclusions relying on a single tooth, he was harshly criticised.

In 1927, other parts of the skeleton were also found. According to these newly discovered pieces, the tooth belonged neither to a man nor to an ape. It was realised that it belonged to an extinct species of wild American pig called Prosthennops. William Gregory entitled the article published in Science in which he announced the truth, "Hesperopithecus: Apparently Not an ape Nor a man. Then all the drawings of Hesperopithecus haroldcooki and his "family" were hurriedly removed from evolutionary literature.

Ota Benga: The African Native Put Into a Cage

After Darwin advanced the claim with his book The Descent of Man that man evolved from ape-like living beings, he started to seek fossils to support this contention. However, some evolutionists believed that "half-man half-ape" creatures were to be found not only in the fossil record, but also alive in various parts of the world. In the early 20th century, these pursuits for "living transitional links" led to unfortunate incidents, one of the cruellest of which is the story of a Pygmy by the name of Ota Benga.

Ota Benga was captured in 1904 by an evolutionist researcher in the Congo. In his own tongue, his name meant "friend". He had a wife and two children. Chained and caged like an animal, he was taken to the USA where evolutionist scientists displayed him to the public in the St Louis World Fair along with other ape species and introduced him as "the closest transitional link to man". Two years later, they took him to the Bronx Zoo in New York and there they exhibited him under the denomination of "ancient ancestors of man" along with a few chimpanzees, a gorilla named Dinah, and an orang-utan called Dohung. Dr William T. Hornaday, the zoo's evolutionist director gave long speeches on how proud he was to have this exceptional "transitional form" in his zoo and treated caged Ota Benga as if he were an ordinary animal. Unable to bear the treatment he was subjected to, Ota Benga eventually committed suicide."

Jeff said...

"It is very true that we have older creation/flood accounts than those found in Genesis. However, I think that this only adds to the credibility of the biblical account, rather than detracting from it. That there would be similarities between accounts of the creation of the world and humans and a divinely-initiated flood makes sense because these are events with significance beyond one tribe or one religious cultus ("cultus" in the non-pejorative sense). Also, humans and their religions endeavor to answer the same set of "big" questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny, so it [follows that] similarities (on some levels) should be expected. In fact, I've seen it argued that Genesis assumes the reality of other creation accounts. There is nothing in Genesis that says, "This is the only account ever written about how these things happened."

"In a post-Gutenberg, literacy-based culture like ours it is easy to forget that people in the ancient world operated primarily with an oral paradigm. This is not to say that they could not write (which, is obviously not the case). This is to say that while literacy had some value, it was not the primary means of communication, and literacy was not as connected with socio-economic status and intelligence as it is in our day. Oral transmission was still the norm in most ancient cultures, even when there was some regard for literacy on some level. Being post-printing press and news-inundated folks, it's easy for us to think that what's written first is what happened first. In our culture, news networks vie for the first coverage of events, fusing immediate dissemination of information for the most accurate interpretation of events. But this is not necessarily the case.

It makes sense that the Genesis narrative was written later than some of the others. We know that Jewish people penned the Genesis narrative, and (obviously) God did not begin to even form what would become Israel/the Jewish people until long after the world had been created. The whole Pentateuch narrative is something that would be penned when a nation is pondering/defending its national identity, as opposed to something written by a guy who just thought, "It would be cool to write some of this down." Israel only wrote these things down after they had a sense of nationhood and the divinely-given vocation associated with that nationhood.

Lastly, the commandments given to Israel by Yahweh do bear some similarities to laws in other [nations] before and after Israel. In fact, I agree with those who say that if you put some folks on an island and forced them to make a civilization, they would come up with something pretty close to commandments 5-10 (the ones that deal with human relationships), even if they had never heard of the ten commandments or the bible. That's all well and good. However, God's commandments are not merely given because Israel needed order as a nation. If that were true, we wouldn't even have to bring God into the equation (some say, "Hallelujah!" to this). When God gives the commands he is: 1) pledging covenant fidelity to Israel and demanding the same of them; 2) revealing his character to Israel, so that each command is an invitation for Israel to corporately imitate God's character; 3) forming a people through their performance of commands so that Israel can be God's vessel through which he will bless the whole world (recalling the promise given to Abraham). Considering the context in which the commands are given, God is up to something much more significant than merely giving humans a set of civil ordinances that will keep them from chaos. The God of Israel has in mind the formation of a people through whom he will work to put the entire creation right again."