Consilience and whale evolution

Way, waaay back in December of 2005 (ye gods has been ten years already?!) I wrote a Feedback response on the Talk Origins Archive to a question about the vestigial pelvic bones found in modern whales. In this case the questioner did not believe them to be truly vestigial, no doubt due to holding erroneous beliefs regarding the subject. In my response I of course took the time to correct their faulty views, however I also used the opportunity to talk about the concept of consilience wherein multiple independent lines of evidence converge on a single explanation, giving us greatly increased confidence that those explanations (hypothesis/theories) are likely to be accurate reflections of reality, i.e. “true”. 

I have now and again thought of going back and using that post as a spring-board for a more detailed examination of this subject and who knows, I may still do so someday. In the meantime however, here is a great video from Stated Clearly that I ran across on Facebook recently that uses the same topic—whales—to essentially do the same thing I did all those years ago; make a point about the consilience of evidence pointing to a pretty definite conclusion with regards to not just the ancestry of cetaceans but the evolution of life in general. Better they include more details than I did and it has animations.

Check it out:

I miss answering the feedback question on Talk Origins…

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4 thoughts on “Consilience and whale evolution

  1. hi. i have an interesting argument: lets say that scientists will create a robot with a living traits like self replication and may contain even DNA. i guess we may all agree that this kind of speciel robot will be evidence for design and not a natural process like evolution. if so: why not human itself that have the same traits?

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      • yep. i actually found both blogs (from this site) and write the same argument. i think its a very intneresting argument. now, about this article: what about the possibility that those whale structures are a vestigial fins?

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