To the evolutionists and their faithful in the media and the education system, fossils have always presented a problem they don’t like to discuss publicly. Their central claim, of course, is that all the species of nature came about by accident. By freak occurrence some idiosyncrasy in the body of one individual conferred upon it a biological advantage, transmitted to all its descendants. So they survived and those without it became extinct. Thus over millions of generations such freak occurrences produced the different species.
Now for this to be confirmed, there would have to be countless fossil remains. of what are called transitional species things that were; for example, part bird and part dinosaur, representing the in-between specimen as the one turned into the other. The awkward problem has been that nobody could find any, though they’ve been looking f6r about 150 years.
Then in China several years ago came this astounding discovery : a fossil that had the body of a bird and the tail and feet of a dinosaur. National Geographic called in three top paleontologists to vouch for it at a press conference, one of them Philip Currie, director of Alberta’s Royal Tyrrell Museum. A big splash followed in the magazine’s November edition.
Though National Geographic didn’t mention it at the time, not all scientists are in accord with the dinosaur-into-bird theory. Storrs Olson, bird curator at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., was particularly doubtful and said so. His concerns were dismissed. Because, said Professor Currie, “there is so much evidence in favour of birds coming from dinosaurs.” He didn’t say what.
Then a terrible thing happened. A Chinese paleontologist on the National Geographic team announced that examination of Archaeoraptor left little doubt he was the composite of two fossils, a bird one and a dinosaur one. They had been combined, probably on purpose. Archaeoraptor is, in other words, a fake.
The Discovery channel was unkind enough to interview Prof. Currie on this unfortunate development. “Given that you were the principal paleontologist at the press conference,” said host Jay Ingram, “what then becomes your responsibility in terms of, you know, bringing suspicions like this, or evidence of fakery, to the public?”
“Well, I feel it’s a…good lesson for me as a scientist and certainly for National Geographic and others as well that…um…we always have to be suspicious about these things, and we have to be careful on how they’re presented publicly…um…clearly it’s always been that case in terms of scientific journals as well. But…ah…publicly we have to be responsible about this too. And I think, given more time, this would have to come out anyway.”
National Geographic plans to run an apology in its next edition. Other media are less noble. Almost none of the Archaeoraptor farce, needless to say, has appeared in those newspapers which were so quick to condemn American school boards that have begun to have doubts about the whole theory of natural selection. The Edmonton Journal, so effusive on a Kansas decision, has said nothing editorially, the Globe and Mail hasn’t even reported it.
Of far more interest however, is the question: Why did it happen? Because, one could reply, somebody saw the chance to rip off a Utah museum f6r $80,000. But that misses the point. Why are the religious vulnerable to fraud? Because people want to defraud them, isn’t an answer.
Obviously the irreligious are just as vulnerable. They need reassurance too, and for a reason. Their commitment to natural selection isn’t actually based on science, but on faith. On faith, the religious ascribe nature to God. On faith, the irreligious ascribe nature to sheer chance. We both want our deepest convictions affirmed. This makes us all into suckers.