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September 16, 2009

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I've already seen this promoted by individuals as the proof ignorant Christians have been seeking all these years.

What astounds me is that these same Evolutionists demand that Creationists respect the peer-review system of public scientific-scrutiny, and yet they get this excited and conclusive when a photo pops onto the internet.

Double-standards? Certainly not.

Why would it be impressive for the snake to reproduce another snake with a leg? If it's a genetic mutation, then it wouldn't be surprising for the snake's offspring to have it, too. Any more than it's surprising when the child of someone with a genetic disease also has that disease.

The surprising thing would be if the mutation spread throughout the local population of snakes. If it's not beneficial, natural selection won't preserve it long-term. That doesn't mean it disappears immediately.

Jonathan,

Er.... In the interests of fairness, who exactly is getting excited & conclusive?

I've yet to see anyone in the scientific community treat this as anything other than it is -- a genetic mutation.

No one would be arguing that it supports biological evolution until the thing had been subjected to further study.

That's one thing scientists tend to do well: not rush to judgment.

Unless you have a specific quote from a "Darwinist", stop accusing people of doing something that they haven't done. Talk about "begging the question". I'm sorry, but who ever posted this has little or no understanding of evolution.

Joe,

Respectfully, is it possible that you have little or no understanding of how typical evidential conversations go with Darwinists?

Just asking.

John

Here is how a creationist can come to have doubts:

Suppose, over a long period of time, sighted animal lost the ability to see. (Think of blind cave fish. Descended from sighted fish, they have eyes but can't see.) This is not incompatible with creationism is it?

Perhaps most of the genetic information needed to make the eyes see is still there. It just never gets turned on. Still no conflict with creationism.

Perhaps, occasionally one of these fish is born with working eyes. There would be no conflict with creationism right?

And so it is with the snake. Snakes are descended from animals with legs. They still have the genes to make legs. But these genes don't normally get turned on so the snake has no legs. The snake with legs in the picture is an exception. Any conflict with creationism yet?

The leg in the picture has digits. It is modern. An animal evolving legs looks like this:

http://tiktaalik.uchicago.edu/

No digits there.

RonH

@Jugulum: As I said, it was "individuals" claiming this. The first place I saw this was on digg.com

You can never disprove the Goddidit hypothesis since God can be responsible for every observation we would ever encounter. But this find, if genuine, would be another case of evolution being put to the test and again passing.

Evolutionists claim that snakes evolved from legged ancestors. What they say is that this kind of thing happens with the de-activation of genes which remain in the genome. Whales are the same way.

So if evolution is true you might expect occasionally to run across an animal that has had an ancestral feature re-activated.

Suppose though something different happened. Suppose for instance a human was born with feathers. To my knowledge evolutionists don't claim that any human ancestors ever had feathers. So if one did sprout feathers this would be a big challenge for evolution. It would be disconfirming of evolution.

On the other hand if a human sported a tail, this would be another example of evolution passing the test, just like the snake case. Human ancestors had tails.

For Christians it's all fine. Humans can sprout tails, feathers, wings, blowholes. Whatever. God did it that way. Good enough. This is why the creationist hypothesis is so worthless from a scientific standpoint, and why evolution is not.

John,

"Is it possible that you have little or no understanding of how typical evidential conversations go with Darwinists?"

Um, I think I'm familiar with such conversations. Have you had a conversation in which a "Darwinist" claims this snake is a "transition"? If not, is there any support at all for the claims of this post?

But wait, I thought evolution was as well proven as gravity. Why would there be any concept of "missing links" or further evidence required? I don't recall them making breathless announcements about more evidence for gravity.

If I may clarify, if the the leg in question really was produced by the body of the snake (a very big if, at the moment), then it could provided support for evolution for the reasons others have outlined here. Mostly, if real, this snake would tell us something about developmental genetics that is relevant to evolution, but this is quite different from claiming that it's a "transition".

Despite the prediction of the original post, this snake is not going to be cited by "Darwinists" as supporting evolution because it's a "transition". There is no evidence to support the claim of the original post, a claim that was then used to criticize evolutionary biology. No support for the claim, no validity to the argument against "Darwinists".

Joe,
Maybe the snake's foot is a fake. Makes no difference. Google for ...

human tail

... It's the same thing only more shocking and better attested.

The snake's foot and the tails of humans are quite well accounted for by evolution. But as I described above they are very compatible with creationism too - provided you allow that Noah and his fam had tails. Ha ha.

RonH

@RonH:

Google human-tails. You won't find any thing more than humans born with fatty-tumours, or a couple repeated vertebrae, or a mis-aligned caudal appendage with no muscles or bone. You won't actually find humans with tails. Shoot, even Eugenie Scott admitted this when she was debating Hugh Ross. She noted these cases as developmental-issues, and not evolutionary-issues. A deeper text can be found in the book "Vestigial Structures are Fully Functional" by Drs. Bergman and Howe.

Respectfully,

Jonathan Sampson

Interesting that no one from STR claims this post (Melinda, Amy, etc.) This snake precisely supports evolution and the original posts claim is without support.

No Neil, we don't need additional evidence to establish the Theory of Evolution. Who said we did? The fact is this snake would be just another piece of data that fits perfectly within the overall framework. So do thousands of peer reviewed scientific papers, with their various tests and predictions. We don't need this one individual item.

Johathan,

You won't find any thing more than humans born with fatty-tumours

You mean not everything that looks like a tail is a tail. Fine.

or a couple repeated vertebrae,

And why are they repeated?

or a mis-aligned caudal appendage

You mean not everything that looks like a tail is a tail. Fine.

with no muscles or bone.

The Barbary Ape's tail is without bone too.

Anyway, there are human tails with voluntary muscle, bone, and cartilage.

"Vestigial Structures are Fully Functional"

Wait! Are they fatty tumors or are they functional?

Come on! Make up your mind.

RonH

Dr. Dolittle,

I'm sure the name is missing by accident. The poster, though seems on the one hand to have bought the caricatures of transitional forms, like this one from Kirk Cameron...

http://tinyurl.com/q4mvl7

... hook line and sinker and on the other hand to actually know what the real explanation is (assuming the picture of the snake's leg is real): Snakes used to have legs, which became latent when God cursed them as a species, and that recessive feature just popped out on this snake.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

RonH

It appears to not be the snake's foot at all. Could it be something the snake ate? It seems to have something relatively large in it's digestive tract. Just a thought.

Cool.

Maybe snakes used to walk on legs and then were cursed or something so now they have to slither around and eat dust.

Oops. I should have read the whole post. The original poster already posted that idea. Oh well.

Joe and RonH,

This was basically a post for the Christian readers of this site to discuss. We didn't need or call for any of your Evolution input. It was a discussion topic on a Christian site. No need for your input on this one, thanks for stopping by though... Have blessed day my brothers.

Matt could be right.
In any case, here's an interesting article on snake legs.

http://tinyurl.com/9xsql


RonH

> RonH: You mean not everything
> that looks like a tail is a tail.
> Fine.

Sure. My point is that we shouldn't be so naive.

> RonH: And why are they
> [vertebrae] repeated?

For the same reason humans can be born with six fingers on a single hand. It's a copying-error that is likely tied to a termination sequence. Apoptosis can break down and leave webbed-toes, but that doesn't link us to ducks.

> RonH: The Barbary Ape's tail
> is without bone too.

The Barbary doesn't have much of a tail to begin with. So I'm not exactly shocked it doesn't have much of a bone structure. You're talking about human-appendages that extend several inches, which means the Barbary is a terrible comparison.

> RonH: Anyway, there are human
> tails with voluntary muscle,
> bone, and cartilage.

I've heard the claims, but I've never actually seen one that held up to scrutiny. Judging by your high-regard for peer-review, I'm guessing you have a peer-review source in a mainstream scientific journal?

> RonH: Wait! Are they fatty
> tumors or are they functional?
> Come on! Make up your mind.

Don't mistake the title of the book for the explanation of the appendage.

Speculations, speculations, speculations and more speculations. Is this a natural mutation or a photo shop/video editing software mutation...that is the question. Whether it be nobler to speculate or to take up feet against a sea of troubles...

Couple of observations. Is this the leg that neo-Darwinian synthesis is looking to stand on? Is this the happy foot that Darwinists are looking for to bring them good news? Will we find out through this story that a lie has short legs when we find out it is a fraud?
Is not sensationalism the last gasp of desperation for a failed theory? Has science become nothing more than fodder for tabloids?


What interests me more, is why scientists aren't up-at-arms about the way their field is dragged through this kind of muck. It is denigrating science to paste this kind of nonsense all over the internet and other publications. I should say that science should announce a fathwah against this kind of corruption of science instead of making it into the cutting edge of scientific discovery. First words out of the mouth of a dedicated scientist on a story like this should be "It's probably fraud and I will consider it as such until the conclusive evidence is in. Until then, I reserve my right to remain silent." Yeah, that is one right that seems to be the least likely to be exercised in the scientific community that has been subverted into a community of speculators rather than investigators. The reason for this turnaround is just plain laziness. It is easier to speculate and get paid for it than it is to do the hard work good research requires. Actually, it is just enough work to get more money flowing for further research. That's it, do as little work as possible in order to get more work. That's what you get when you turn science into a business.

Prince,

STR could run an echo chamber here if they wanted. It seems they don't.
Good for them.

RonH

Jonathan,

True human tails range in length from about one inch to over 5 inches long (on a newborn baby), and they can move via voluntary striped muscle contractions in response to various emotional states (Baruchin et al. 1983; Dao and Netsky 1984; Harrison 1901; Keith 1921; Lundberg et al. 1962).

That's from this site:

http://tinyurl.com/l5utqx

The abstract of Dao AH and Netsky MG is here:

http://tinyurl.com/m3y72c

... and says:

The true tail arises by retention of structures found normally in fetal development. It may be as long as 13 cm, can move and contract, and occurs twice as often in males as in females. A true tail is easily removed surgically, without residual effects. It is rarely familial.

"Familial" means inherited. No matter how rare, if tails are ever inherited it means the tails are in the genes. As I said before, this is compatible with creationism if you assume someone in Noah's family had a tail. Ultimately I guess that would mean either Adam or Eve had a tail.

RonH

Ron,

You should write childrens books...

Your argument is shallow and based on meaningless information!

Prince,
Thanks for the career advice.
What argument is that?
RonH

Anytime...

Prince >> This was basically a post for the Christian readers of this site to discuss. We didn't need or call for any of your Evolution input. It was a discussion topic on a Christian site. No need for your input on this one, thanks for stopping by though...

How is this post any different than any other post? I thought this was an open forum, and I wasn't aware that you helped to set the guidelines.

One reason I come here is because I enjoy seeing and evaluating the back-and-forth between opposing views, and it's usually civil enough.

Once the Home Team begins to say to the Visiting Team, "Please leave, you're not welcome! We don't want to play anymore.", is that not a forfeit?

Luckily, I think we all know that STR is for open discussion of viewpoints, both on the radio and the blog. If that makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you should consider other forums with less diverse viewpoints.

Meanwhile, I hope this interesting discussion continues on.

Thanks for your input Jim T...

It is an open forum and anybody is welcome to discuss their views and type their opinions and give their 2 cents... Even if they don't make any sense.

I'm glad you enjoy this site though. It's awesome isn't it!

Louis, you made a lots of accusations here with very little to back them up.

"Is this the leg that neo-Darwinian synthesis is looking to stand on?"

No.

"Is this the happy foot that Darwinists are looking for to bring them good news?"

No.

"I should say that science should announce a fathwah against this kind of corruption of science instead of making it into the cutting edge of scientific discovery."

Who is making this the cutting edige of scientific discovery? Has this appeared in a peer-reviewed journal? Any well-known biologists making cutting edge statements about this snake? You have no evidence for your claim.

"Is not sensationalism the last gasp of desperation for a failed theory?"

It seems to me that almost all of the "senstationalism" has been produced by the anti-evolution crowd, for example, by the original anonymous poster. You folks keep hooting and hollering about claims that have not been made.

By the way, when are you going to announce a "fatwah" against all of the Christians who are corrupting Christianity? At least science has it's peer review process.

Prince,

"We didn't need or call for any of your Evolution input."

Well, I have no doubt that you prefer ignorance to knowledge, so I can understand your complaint.

....Well, I have no doubt that you prefer ignorance to knowledge, so I can understand your complaint....

Wow! That couldn't be farther from the truth my friend!

I have no doubt you have a thirst for theory's, and very far fetched conclusions that will help you sleep at night.

I think you need to visit this site for the right reasons and learn from it instead of trying to poke holes in a Christianity! You need to visit this site and many others daily my brother. You are swollowed up in a Scientific world that continues to crumble due to it's "what if" and "some how" and "maybe if" evidence. I think your ignorance statement very well apply's to yourself...

So, back to the original post:

I'm sure soon some Darwinists will be citing this freak of nature as evidence for evolution.

P.Z. Myers is a famous atheist and biology professor. His first reaction was to explain in his blog how evolution would for the snake's foot. What most likely happened here... was his tone. Jerry Coyne, who wrote Why Evolution is True commented on P.Z's post that it might be a bad case of indigestion. He also sounds like he think the picture might be a fake. P.Z. reacted to the various comments he got and concluded We need to do a dissection!

http://tinyurl.com/offb3b

So that is how 'some Darwinists' reacted. Thoughtfully. Critically.

The snake's foot is not surprising given evolution. But it is not the best evidence ever for evolution either.

Freak of nature? Not under evolution.

I'll tell you what would be a freak of nature to Dawkins, Coyne, and Myers: a snake with a wing.

To the creationists here: Why would they see it that way?

RonH

"I have no doubt you have a thirst for...very far fetched conclusions that will help you sleep at night."

Nice projection.

Thnaks Joe!

"By the way, when are you going to announce a "fatwah" against all of the Christians who are corrupting Christianity? At least science has it's peer review process."

Joe,
much of what I said was at least partly tongue-in-cheek. I know that there is a process of peer review that must be gone through before anything is declared bonafide science. What irks me just a bit is this business of teaching journalists in science class things that they carry over to their journalistic careers and since they are convinced in those classes, no matter how scant their education is in the field, that because they grasp the concept of evolution, they are now sufficiently trained to pronounce every oddity as being some sort of example of evolutionary development. Since these folks are trained to report stuff that s(m)ells, and I am trying to be kind and humorous in the way I phrase that :), they attach the question mark of "Is this evolution in action?" as one report put it. This kind of question starts the ball rolling int the evolutionary direction as one of the bloggers out there puts it "This is proof of evolution. Fossil evidence points to snakes at one point having legs. Some still have little stubs. This snake could not have grown a leg unless it had some latent genes in it's DNA for legs and feet. viva la evolution!" This just fans the fires of speculation and the first spark started in the classroom where no competing theories to that of evolution are allowed. Since it is the scientific community and its classroom representatives that have provided the sparks for this outlandis kinds of speculations, it is incumbent upon them to put out the fire and take ownership of the fact that they were responsible for starting it in the first place. My point is that there should be some accountability and responsibility shown by loudly denouncing these wild and unfounded speculations by having a prominent cridentialed scientist denounce them as premature and completely baseless and without merit and denounce those who claim such outlandish nonsense as being nothing more than frauds.

As to error in the church, there has been plenty of examples of heretics being booted out on their proverbial keesters and publickly and loudly denounced as such. You don't have to go far to find their names listed in the annals of history. So, I think that you are right that those who are corrupting Christianity should be disciplined and I think that this has historically been the case. Now, maybe you think that is not the case. If so, I am willing to entertain the possibility of this failing, but I will request you provide some evidence of that. Of course, you could have a point here.

Louis,

If your complaint is about the way journalists cover science, well, welcome to the club. Bad science journalism is a perennial pet peeve for most scientists.

"There has been plenty of examples of heretics being booted out on their proverbial keesters and publickly and loudly denounced as such."

Yes, that's true. For example, that notorious corrupter Luther was booted out and denounced. Good riddance, I say.

But I must admit that I was thinking more along the lines of the corruption of the Religious Right.

By the way, while I understand your point about wanting prominent scientists to "denounce" this snake, I don't see where this story has gained much attention to begin with. There's just not that much here to "denounce", and again, no one has claimed that this is a "transition". So, some prominent scientist is supposed to get on a soapbox over something that will be quickly forgotten? Is there any evidence of a fire of any meaningful size? I haven't seen it.

All we have in this post is a lot of folks hollering before they're hurt.

"

By the way, while I understand your point about wanting prominent scientists to "denounce" this snake, I don't see where this story has gained much attention to begin with. There's just not that much here to "denounce", and again, no one has claimed that this is a "transition". So, some prominent scientist is supposed to get on a soapbox over something that will be quickly forgotten?"

Not by young impressionable minds that are surfing the web today and are getting their first taste of indoctrination in evolution.

" Is there any evidence of a fire of any meaningful size? I haven't seen it."

I'm sorry to hear that you aren't seeing it. I am sorry to hear that you do not see that ideas have long term repercussions.

"All we have in this post is a lot of folks hollering before they're hurt."

Can you understand why I am having such a hard time taking certain claims of science seriously when scientists themselves aren't combating those claims that they know should be given no merit? If you dismiss dragging science through the tabloid much as insignificant, then tell me what choice do I have but to conclude that science is not held in high regard by those claiming to.

I should think that such a thing is a very large conflagration with a need for smoke-jumpers.

Ok, from now on, prominent scientists will spend their time patrolling the web.

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