Somehow I missed a lovely letter to the editor by a creationist, Michael D. Shoesmith, regarding Ida.
'EXTRAORDINARY' CLAIMS NEED A CLOSER LOOK
Sir:Everyone's talking about Ida, that cute little lemur skeleton. However, there are primatologists who think people may have jumped the proverbial gun. It may only be a lemur skeleton.
I received the actual peer review article which published the scientific data collected by the scientists over the course of two years. The media storm surrounding this was enormous. Headlines from media sources all over the globe proclaimed "Missing link found," "Scientists find missing link" and so on. From the Guardian in the U. K. to Yahoo News to local radio stations, it was the echo heard around the world: "The missing link has been found."
There are, as you might have guessed, a few "problems." First of all, there is nothing new or spectacular about any of this. The claim has been made that this picture (of Ida) will be in school textbooks for the next 100 years, but has everyone forgotten Piltdown Man? Discovered in 1912 in a village near Uckfield, East Sussex, England, the scull fragments were thought by many "experts" to be the fossilized remains of early man and likewise trumpeted as the "Missing Link." The hoax was published and appeared in school textbooks for over 40 years before it was discovered in 1953 to be a forgery. It turned out to be the lower jawbone of an orangutan that had been deliberately combined with the scull of a fully developed modern human.
There is an even greater embarrassment in store for the atheistic evolutionist community with all of this. For many years now, they have claimed to be in possession of enough transitional fossils to close the books on the debate between evolutionism and creationism. Why in the world is it such a big deal all of a sudden that a missing link has been found when they've supposedly had all the evidence they would ever need to call creationists radical fundies and lift themselves up as the lone scientific authority?
Allow me to enlighten you about the motives. The evolutionist community gets most, if not all, of the scientific funding right now. Piltdown Man was an attempt to keep the money flowing. The imaginary fossil record they have is also a designed illusion to keep the grants coming. So, too, was Archeoraptor. And the list goes on and on. The hype is designed to keep the self-proclaimed animals out of the unemployment line.
This is big business, folks. The person who had the Ida fossil was asking $1 million for it. Richard Dawkins has made millions selling books which teach your children that they are nothing more than animals.
People really do need to learn how to read between the lines with these extraordinary claims. This one is going to be examined by some highly intelligent individuals who aren't swayed by money or fame. They simply want the truth and it could very well turn out to be another Piltdown Man or at very best just a really old lemur.
-- Michael D. Shoesmith Sarnia
I don't (shocking!) disagree completely with what Michael Shoesmith has to say - Ida was (overly) excessively promoted. It may not have helpful to science but, for the most part, it is another nail in the coffin of creationism.
However, Ida is millions of years old - that is not disputed in the science community. That, alone, demolishes a 6000 year-old view of earth. Ida isn't the only "missing link found" - Neil Shubin's book "Your Inner Fish" is another that should fit into the "missing link" category.
Most importantly, fossil evidence is far from the most impressive evidence available to support the theory of evolution.
There is biogeography which, to many, is the most awe-inspiring area - it enables us to PREDICT where we will find specific fossils (not only what place on earth but in what types of rocks and in what age of rocks). It is amazing because it has been 100% accurate - we have never found a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian period rocks (that would disprove the theory of evolution).
Genetics has provided substantial (possibly insurmountable) evidence in support of evolution and, the understanding of evolution, has provided countless life-saving medications and treatments.
If you want to learn more about evolution and why it is true (yes, true), check out Jerry Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True".
Back to Michael's letter to the editor, simply because someone has produced something as false in the past, doesn't mean that everything, moving forward, is automatically (or even highly likely to be) false. The evidence (real evidence) is described, accurately, in current evolutionary models. Science doesn't need to present false evidence to support the theory. As I mentioned earlier, the theory of evolution could be disproven by finding something like a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian rocks.
I don't quite understand what Michael is referring to when he says that the "evolutionist community gets most, if not all, of the scientific funding right now". If he is suggesting that scientists who agree that the theory of evolution is likely true get more money than those scientists who are creationists, he is right and that is right. Where else should/could the scientific funding go? After all, creationism/intelligent design ISN'T science!
Mr. Shoesmith later goes on to suggest that science is all about the money and in many ways, it has to be. Public funding is always (or should be) seen as an investment - we invest in mental health to save future costs, we invest in technology to make our lives better, we invest in basic scientific research to advance our knowledge. It is from that knowledge that a great number of applied research projects are then funded - to find applications for discoveries or find solutions to widespread problems (disease, accidents, limitations, etc.). It is an amazing bang for our buck, however.
Compare that to churches/religion and the payback to humanity is measurable and worthwhile. (What do we get for all the money that gets donated to churches? Extravagant buildings, beautiful parking lots and a shitload (that's a scientific term) of misinformation/lies/oppression/abuse.)
It is funny to see Richard Dawkins' name thrown in even though he had NOTHING to do with "Ida" and the press surrounding it. Richard Dawkins is wealthy - he has written some extremely successful science popularizing books as well as his latest (though this position will soon be taken up by his upcoming book - The Greatest Show on Earth) book, The God Delusion. His wealth, however, has little to do with public funding of science - he wrote books (good ones!) that were of interest to a great number of people. Richard Dawkins has made contributions to evolutionary science and he is and will be considered one of the greatest intellectuals of our time. He deserves all the success he has achieved - and he hasn't had to lie to people to get it!
Oh... and Ida is related to us and we are all animals. I'm proud of those two facts!
(Note: J.B.S. Haldane wrote about the rabbit fossil in the Precambrian rocks disproving evolution. I wish I could take credit for the catchy phrase.)