Friday, October 2, 2009

Exciting New Hominid Found: What's a Creationist to Do?

What an exciting day for anthropology! One of the most important fossil discoveries ever was announced yesterday, of a hominid female who lived 4.4 million years ago. And the way she fits into the evolutionary "tree" is even more exciting. Her arm, wrist, hand and shoulder bones show that she was a tree climber, yet her feet and pelvis clearly show that she walked upright!

I've always wondered: What's it like to be a creationist on days like this? To those of us who understand evolution, and the other sciences that support it such as physics, geology, astronomy, biology, chemistry and anthropology, it's all a wonderful, intricate puzzle, where each new discovery fits so beautifully, like a perfect puzzle piece that we've been waiting for. But to the creationist, it's another unpleasant yet undeniable fact, another ugly wart on the side of creationism. It means the creationists have to do yet another dance around the truth, come up with yet another unlikely story, make up more justifications and rationalizations.

I also had the pleasure of hearing Professor Tim White of the University of California interviewed on CNN. The team that was assembled to study this fossil collection was stellar. The found the remains of at least 36 individual hominids, but better yet, they were in a rock layer that included giraffes, bats, birds, trees, plants, pollen, seeds ... an entire ecosystem. They assembled a team of experts that included physicists, pollen specialists, animal specialists, primate specialists ... altogether almost forty scientific leaders in every relevant discipline. The fossil findings were so extensive – and so fragile – that it took fifteen years to complete the research for yesterday's announcement.

One has to wonder at the sheer chutzpah of creationist like Jerry Falwell who, without any expertise in any of these fields, simply declare them wrong. Of course, "chutzpah" is a Jewish word, so maybe Jerry would object to that, too.

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