Posted by: rmbrowning | May 22, 2009

On our new cousin Ida

Earlier this week a fossil Darwinus masillae (nick-named “Ida”) created a bit of a stir and sent creationist websites into deny-everything-about-everything mode.  The media has also been pretty unhelpful with it’s “missing-link” labeling and over-hyped rhetoric that this fossil has finally validated Darwin’s theory.  I’ve reluctantly decided to throw in my tuppence worth because some of what I’ve read has not been good.

Ida is:

  • 47 million years old, which makes her a great deal older than our species.
  • Well-preserved and 95% complete.
  • Not a lemur as she lacks a grooming claw and tooth comb.  Additionally, her talus is shaped like members of our primate line.
  • Helpful in giving us an idea of how various traits developed (which is pretty cool).
  • A bridge between lemurs and their more distant relatives such as monkeys and us.

Ida isn’t:

  • THE missing link.  (Every fossil is transitional in some way; Ida is one link in a very long evolutionary chain.)
  • The only example we have of a transitional fossil.  (There are so many that I feel sorry for those who have to store and categorise them all.)
  • An example of scientists trying to deceive you.  (Yes, there was a hoax but that doesn’t put every subsequent fossil in the same basket.)
  • A much needed piece of evidence for the theory.  (There’s a mountain of evidence that overwhelmingly supports evolution by natural selection. We don’t even need fossils due to: vestigial organs, embryology, morphological similarities, genomic similarities, observable evolution of micro-organisms and virtually every other discovery in biology over the 150 years.)
  • The work of Satan.

How Christians respond to facts such as these can be very influential as to how people view Christianity.  If one avoids, ignores or denies them it is very detrimental amongst those people who wonder about Christianity today.  Honest dialogue is necessary not only for our intellectual integrity but also for our message.

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Responses

  1. very cool – I had only briefly heard about ‘Ida’ – thanks sir, and good points on what she ‘is’ and especially what she ‘isn’t’! 🙂

  2. […] Browning joins the NZ blogosphere – and it’s not long ’till he has a post about evolution Share […]

  3. I linked here from Dale’s fruitful faith. Good stuff…I’ll be back.

    John <

  4. Also found this via Dale’s site. Love the corrective “Ida is not…” bullet points!

    I hope that this sensible approach to science will percolate to my zealous young friends in evangelical churches.

    • Thanks! They’re based on the most common objections that I saw raised by creationists in the week the fossil was announced. I see creationism (and child intelligent design) as being very harmful to modern Christianity and I’ll do my best to try and counter them. If you’re interested have a look at “Evolving Thought” on my blog roll, it’s entirely devoted to faith+science dialogue.

      Ryan

  5. […] On our new cousin Ida | A view from the pew Earlier this week a fossil Darwinus masillae (nick-named “Ida”) created a bit of a stir and sent creationist websites into deny-everything-about-everything mode. The media has also been pretty unhelpful with it’s “missing-link” labeling and over-hyped rhetoric […] Ida is NOT: * THE missing link. (Every fossil is transitional in some way; Ida is one link in a very long evolutionary chain.) * The only example we have of a transitional fossil. (There are so many … to store and categorise) * An example of scientists trying to deceive you. * A much needed piece of evidence for the theory. (There’s a mountain of evidence that overwhelmingly supports evolution by natural selection. We don’t even need fossils due to: vestigial organs, embryology, morphological similarities, genomic similarities, observable evolution of micro-organisms and virtually every other discovery in biology over the 150 years.) * The work of Satan (!) (tags: evolution) Posted by ropata Filed in Uncategorized Leave a Comment » […]


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