Debate with Dr. Jackson: Post-Debate Comments

In 2007, some creationist friends of mine organized a debate between creation scientist Dr. Jackson and myself.  The links below link to specific portions of the debate.  Below this are my post-debate facts.

I believe my debate with Dr. Jackson highlighted many of the claims I’ve made over creationism’s existence not a science but rather a series of arguments aimed at straw manning the science behind evolution through rhetorical tricks.

So in following up on the last portion of the debate (Q & A):

In regards to Answer 1–The Coccyx as a Vestigial structure whether Dr Jackson likes it or not.

Dr Jackson’s insistence that the coccyx isn’t Vestigial is based on the usual creationist straw man definition of being synonymous with “useless” (creationism often redefines words to its own liking and uses these straw man definitions to ‘refute’ evolution). Dr Jackson suggests that I retract my statement, but he would have to ask this of countless science journals and other references.

The Human Tailbone (Coccyx)

“These fused vertebrae are the only vestiges that are left of the tail that other mammals still use for balance, communication, and in some primates, as a prehensile limb. As our ancestors were learning to walk upright, their tail became useless, and it slowly disappeared. It has been suggested that the coccyx helps to anchor minor muscles and may support pelvic organs. However, there have been many well documented medical cases where the tailbone has been surgically removed with little or no adverse effects. There have been documented cases of infants born with tails, an extended version of the tailbone that is composed of extra vertebrae. There are no adverse health effects of such a tail, unless perhaps the child was born in the Dark Ages. In that case, the child and the mother, now considered witches, would’ve been killed instantly.”


“…also called tailbone curved, semiflexible lower end of the backbone (vertebral column) in apes and humans, representing a vestigial tail. It is composed of three to five successively smaller caudal (coccygeal) vertebrae. The first is a relatively well-defined vertebra and connects with the sacrum; the last is represented by a small nodule of bone. The spinal cord ends above the coccyx. In…”

Again, a creator isn’t limited to modifying tails into bones that attach to certain muscles that allow for certain functions. A creator isn’t limited to using the same basic tetrapod blueprint over and over.

In regards to Answer 2–Hominids display a line of animals from upright apes to humans.

I can’t blame Dr Jackson for not wanting to comment on Hominids and their gradual display for ape-to-human attributes. It’s a touchy subject given the fact that Creationists insist that man (“image of God”) and apes (“beasts of the field”) were created separately yet can’t agree on which of the Hominids are ape and which are human. Of course there is disagreement on classifications within the Hominid groups themselves–but this is to be expected within a smooth gradient of fossils with some overlaps. Whether a hominid is classified as Erectus or Ergaster, or whether they are classified as one species, 2 separate species, or one is simply considered a sub class of the other–it doesn’t make their human/ape features go away…it simply means that Anthropologists disagree on naming conventions. By the way, notice that I never mentioned intelligence, I simply showed the gradual transition in brain sizes. Yet he still refutes this claim.

And Dr Jackson apparently never tires from making articles (especially from the NG) say things they really don’t.

“And how can A. afarensis be bipedal with a thumb on its foot? (National Geographic, 11/06) ”

The article says no such thing.

“New theories by evolutionist researchers, on jaw measurements of afarensis (Science News, 4/14/07, p230) have just classified it as a gorilla — not my call, but theirs. ”

The article says no such thing. The closest this article comes to making this claim;

“Rak theorizes that a chimplike ramus appeared in the first members of the human evolutionary family and then in later species. However; Lucy’s kind independently evolved a gorillalike ramus that was passed on to robust australopithecines, he asserts.”’s+kind+may+occupy+evolutionary+side+branch-a0162921154

Since Dr Jackson is obsessed with National Geographic, perhaps he’ll start using these quotes.
The new fossil also supports the theory that A. afarensis walked upright on two legs, but it hints that human ancestors hadn’t completely left the trees by that time.

Lucy’s species was given the name Australopithecus afarensis in 1978. The species is believed to be the common ancestor of all later human species, including modern humans.

I believe this is the source of Dr Jackson’s “Afarensis/Africanus claim”

Australopithecus: A. anamensis (3.5-4.1 Ma) is the most primitive with a strongly sloping symphysis, large canine roots, etc., A. afarensis (3.0-3.6 Ma) is less primitive, and A. africanus (2.6-3.0 Ma) shares many derived characteristics with early Homo (e.g., expanded brain, reduced canine, bicuspid lower third premolar, reduced prognathism, greater flexion of the cranial base, deeper TMJ). The new postcranial material, however, reveals an apparently primitive morphology of relatively large forelimb and small hindlimb joints resembling more the pongid than the human pattern. More pongid-like proportions are also present in the two known associated partial skeletons of H. habilis (OH 62 and KNM-ER 3735). This may imply either (1) that A. africanus and H. habilis evolved craniodental characters in parallel with the lineage leading to later Homo, or (2) that fore- to hindlimb proportions of A. afarensis (and perhaps A. anamensis) evolved independent of the lineage leading to Homo and does not imply a close phylogenetic link with Homo.

“And since evolution researchers have disqualified all the missing links you listed (except antecessor), then why do you mention them at all?”

By “disqualified” Dr Jackson means “not our ancestor” (as opposed to non-existent). This is more convenient thinking on his part. Dr J avoids using the word “Anthropologist” and instead calls them “evolution researchers” (more convenient for his cause). The truth is Anthropologists do disagree on classification as well as which Hominids are our ancestors and which are side branches. What creationists do is pick the convenient expert opinion for each hominid and argue that they are all disqualified. This is again, part of the “x must evolve into y” straw man argument that Creationists are fond of (notice he just keeps repeating this one?).
“Neanderthals were people, too — evolutionists and creationists now agree on that”

This statement is meaningless. The word “people” is pretty broad and some Anthropologists even refer to the Australopithecines as “early man.” Homo Sapien Neanderthalensis is a separate line than Homo Sapiens Sapiens which most likely split off sometime before, with Heidebergensis being a possible common ancestor.
In regards to Answer 3–More Ad Hoc reasoning.

Notice he doesn’t even mention remnants of human civilization (the basis of my question)? He talks about “pre-flood habits” and birds and mammals floating to the top layers. It’s interesting to see how he can simply avoid my rebuttals and make the same claims over and over.

His quotes;
“The only missing link amphibian-reptile fossil evolutionists point to is the Seymouria which is found only in Permian rocks clearly above other layers that contain true reptile fossils (Understanding Evolution [2000], p140).”
This is simply untrue. While the transition from amphibians to reptiles is sketchy, there do exist samples of such in the lower-to-mid Carboniferous, namely Solenodonsaurus, Hylonomus, and Paleothyris. Furthermore, some of the early reptiles (ie. Westlothiana) are difficult to distinguish from amphibians. It should be obvious that transitionals which are no longer existent, will naturally be less represented in the fossil record, whereas a broader class of animals will be more plentiful in the fossil record, having survived throughout the years. What Creationists fail to see that everything is a transition—reptiles are transitions between amphibians and birds (and mammals) and they are still alive today. Because of this, they are better represented in the fossil record. Furthermore, transitional species tend to come into existence in specific places (because they have adapted to fill a specific niche). This adds to their scarcity in the fossil record compared to those their descendants who branch out into other ecologies.

“I’ve already explained the creationist position on the fossil sequence in the rock layers: original pre-Flood habitats, the fact that dead birds and mammals float, and hydrodynamic sorting. What’s left? ”

What’s left is to explain how the “pre-flood habits” of prairie dogs, gophers, and moles would have kept them from being buried in place, or how hydrodynamic sorting caused Dolphins to fossilize above Ichthyosaurs, modern birds above Archaeopteryx and other birds with reptilian features, how it explains the animal burrows throughout these layers, or even how fish we know exist in the ocean depths today don’t show up until the Triassic layers. This made up explanation might almost work if the sequence of fauna were an overall trend as opposed to an absolute–if we only tended to find rhinoceroses in the upper layers or if we rarely found dinosaurs in the upper layers with the megafauna (as opposed to never).

“I’ll leave off all fossil interpretations, theories and opinions, and lean on the known laws of chemical kinetics … as verified by repeatable lab experiments for the rate laws, rate equations, and equilibrium constants of biochemical reactions.”

In other words “Forget that we agreed to stick to faunal succession, I want to talk Biology now.” I will get to these later.

“I don’t use theories or opinions that rely on the accepted reputations of so-called experts in their fields”

What then is this?

“The Chair of Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill says it is not a link. “It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of ‘paleobabble’ is going to change that.”
“Whale expert Phillip Gingerich says the rear “legs” of Basilosaurus were used in mating (The Press Enterprise, 7/1/90, A-15). EIAF says they were “useless” vestiges from when whales used to walk on land. ”
(*Note: I actually hadn’t mentioned Basilosaurus legs, I’m not sure who Dr Jackson has in mind).
“And since evolution researchers have disqualified all the missing links you listed ”
“EIAF names five ape-man links. Four of those were disqualified as of this year (Newsweek, 3/19/07, p56). Evolution theorists no longer use them.”
“And if A. africanus really is a million years after afarensis”

Who does he think he’s dishonestly quote mining in these articles if not “experts in their fields?”

“Evolutionary thinking is presuppositional thinking. Evolutionary thinking is inertial thinking, resistant in every way, to any data or observations that indicate scientific truth departing from evolutionary fantasy. This has been made clear from the manner and demeanor of this on-line debate from start to finish.”
I suppose he believes that if he says it enough times, it becomes true. I wonder if Creationists reading this debate will even care that Dr. Jackson has been caught making false assertions on articles he must think I can’t find, falsely accuses me of making certain arguments, and using his own ad hoc reasoning along the way without bothering to address my rebuttals. Sadly most of them won’t, but I’m convinced a handful of them will see the dishonesty behind Dr Jackson’s (a perfect microcosm of Creationism in general) fallacious logic.

*Update (I am, for the time being, too lazy to work this into the blog more fluidly or create a new one)

I finally took the time to read Dr J’s “proof” that dinosaurs co-existed with humans and his logic behind his argument is every bit as disconnected as his previous claims (the reason I took so long to get around to this is because I correctly predicted another false cry for wolf).

These articles do nothing to prove dinosaurs co-existed with man and even before reading the articles, its obvious that his argument is disconnected;

” Shall I provide absolute proof that dinosaurs and humans lived together? Okay.”

and he supports this with…

” There is no process known to prevent the disintegration of these molecules longer than 10-40 thousand years”

In other words “you can’t provide a model for how these molecules can stay intact for that long, therefore dinosaurs co-existed with man.” Furthermore, there is nothing in these articles that suggests that finding these molecules contradicts the evolutionary timeline.

Here is an excerpt from the Ohio State Research article that supposedly proved his case;

“Geologists weren’t surprised that some of those colors turned up in the 350-million-year-old crinoids, Ausich said. “People have suspected for a long time that organic molecules could be found inside fossils,” he added. “This is just the first time that scientists have succeeded in finding them.”"

That’s hardly proof that Dinosaurs co-existed with man. Here is the link to the Science News, 3/26/05 article, which also does nothing to support the disconnected argument.

Something else worth mentioning; he never gives the name of these articles, which makes it that much more difficult and time consuming to dig up. I suspect that this is because his method of debating is tailored to those who will believe what he says without question, as well as to make it more difficult to check his fallacious arguments.

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