Do live pterosaurs “disprove evolution?”

On March 29, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I sometimes encounter a criticism such as this: “A living pterosaur would not disprove evolution. It would just be another example of an ancient species that survived.” That appears simple and airtight, appearently proving me and my associates to be fools to think that an extant pterosaur would relate to the conflict between “religion and science.” One problem with that reasoning is with the word “evolution.” That word some people assume to precisely refer to gradual shifting of biological forms; few people know that the word itself is a shape-shifter. Another problem relates to “disprove,” a word appropriate to mathematics or to science (not to the popularity of a philosophy). In addition, the “conflict between religion and science” is a phrase referring to a conflict between two extremely conflicting philosophies (1); but a conflict between a general belief in God and a belief in the efficacy of sound scientific principles for making discoveries—that is nonexistent: There is no conflict.

In a conversation about biology, “evolution” may refer to different concepts. Unfortunately, those engaged in conversation often fail to realize or distinguish the differences, or fail to appreciate the significance. The limited changes in sizes, shapes, and colors for the same basic kind of organism, commonly observed changes—that kind of evolution has been observed by Darwin and many others. But that is not the kind of change needed to cause one organism to have a future descendant that will be a completely different kind of organism, for example, a mammal with a liver having an ancestor that did not have a liver.

For those who insist that a general definition of “evolution,” a definition like “gradual change over time,” is sufficient in a conversation about biology, consider Professor Peter Beach (2). Over a period of time, the opinion held by this biologist, about Darwin’s ideas about Common Descent, changed dramatically, for his original confidence in Darwin’s philosophy of unlimited common ancestry decreased until it had evaporated. His opinion gradually changed over time, and that process of thinking involved biological brain functions. But how far removed is that kind of evolution from the usual concepts! The real problem is with the vagueness of “evolution.” I suggest, to those who would communicate about the conflict between life-origin philosophies, that we be precise: Use “unlimited common ancestry” when appropriate and other phrases for other concepts. Never converse with the word “evolution” without prior agreement on what is meant by that word.

What is the problem with the word “disprove?” When this word comes up regarding extant pterosaurs (3), their relationship to unlimited common ancestry, the true subject is not scientific but philosophical. Darwin’s idea that there is no limit to common ancestors (as we trace back family trees into the past)–that is a philosophy, and a philosophy cannot be proven or disproven. How serious here is the problem in reasoning! What a problem! Those who think that they are talking about something scientific are blind to the nature of what they are trying to protect: their philosophy.

I will not dwell upon the “conflict between religion and science.” There is no such thing. What some people sometimes refer to is a conflict between strict Naturalism philosophy and the Genesis-account of Creation and the Flood of Noah, especially the philosophy of the “Young Earth Creationist” (YEC). Contrary to the declarations of some of my critics, extant pterosaurs do relate to such conficts, for those who have not already settled their hearts into a philosophy will find that modern pterosaurs fit better with literal concepts in Genesis than with universal common ancestry.

1 Opposing philosophies

2 Brave biologist: Peter Beach

3 Extant Pterosaurs in an issue of Creation Research Society Quarterly

See also Marfa Lights, New Enlightenment


non-fiction book Live Pterosaurs in AmericaDid you know that living pterosaurs have been reported in North America, even in the United States? Read the many eyewitness sighting reports  by purchasing a nonfiction book on Amazon or from the publisherLive Pterosaurs in America.

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2 Responses to “Do live pterosaurs “disprove evolution?””

  1. Robert says:

    Isaiah speaks of Egyptians as fiery flying serpents in ch 30. Egyptians were proud, cunning and deceptive. They were opportunist and experts at taking advantage of others. The flying serpent lures by intimidation and superiority through perfecting arts. Using these skills they confiscate property leaving men hopeless.

  2. I believe you refer to this verse:

    “The burden of the beasts of the south: into the land of trouble and anguish, from whence come the young and old lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they will carry their riches upon the shoulders of young asses, and their treasures upon the bunches of camels, to a people that shall not profit them.”

    As I see it, the following words refer to actual animals: lion, viper, fiery flying serpent, asses, camels. Whatever symbolism might be used in this verse, the relevance for this blog is that the fiery flying serpent was a real animal.