A Critique of Biological Materialism

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Renee
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Renee » December 11th, 2016, 3:51 am

Daviddunn wrote: I am interested in knowing how old were these fossil "evidence", and how was its age determined from a scientific point of view?
Google it.

The tools of research are available to you just as readily as to anyone and everyone else on this forum. So please, I would like to encourage you to exercise your right and capability to do your own research.

On a personal note, I am impressed how well you used the third person possessive adjective. I am not joking. 99.999 percent of the current English-speaking population messes that spelling up, and that rubs me the wrong way. I hope I did not sound condescending with this compliment, because I did not mean to. I am truly impressed every time someone uses that word in its correct spelling ab ovo.
Ignorance is power.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Daviddunn » December 11th, 2016, 6:24 am

Renee wrote:Google it.

The tools of research are available to you just as readily as to anyone and everyone else on this forum. So please, I would like to encourage you to exercise your right and capability to do your own research.
Thank you for your encouragements. But I remark that you as well did not reply to the questions I asked, instead you gave me encouragements to exercise my rights. Therefore, I will exercise my right to freedom of conscience that you too do not know the answer to these questions. So it is pointless for me to ask you these questions now. So, I conclude, yet again someone fails to answer my questions. But may be you are not as knowledgeable as Andrian on the subject of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I hope I am not being rude in pointing out the limits of your knowledge, I did not mean to! So, I will wait for Andrian to reply. May be he/she has these answers that I have been looking for, for so long.

On a personal note as well, I have observed that many people who believe in the theory of evolution by natural selection, do not know much about the details of this theory. So it is not just something peculiar to you. They believe in it out of blind faith, and to the point of being unreasonable and inconsistent.
Renee wrote:99.999 percent of the current English-speaking population messes that spelling up, and that rubs me the wrong way
If that be the case that your are being "rubbed the wrong way", then I would encourage you to take it easy on yourself. Spelling mistakes of the English-speaking people should not get you in that state. Get some fresh air, and chill out when you get the opportunity. It is alright to make spelling mistakes. Every human being makes mistakes. The intelligent human being is one who learns from his/her mistakes, and makes an effort to correct them.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Dolphin42 » December 11th, 2016, 3:47 pm

Hey @Daviddunn.

You seem to have asked a couple of people here how the evidence is gathered which suggests the ages of fossils. Do you mind if I join the conversation? As an amateur student of the subject (like yourself) my understanding is that it is done by cross referencing from different types of evidence. The main one, as I understand it, is the positions of those fossils within the rock sediments where they're found - sediments generally being laid down slowly on the beds of rivers. Various categories of evidence about the geological history of the Earth, including such things as the slow upheavals of bodies of rock that used to be on the bottoms of rivers, tends to suggest time periods during which various formations were laid down. Finding fossilized remains in a particular formation constitutes evidence that the creature in question expired during the time period when that formation was formed. I think I've read something like that (albeit probably explained much better by the original author!)

The Burgess Shale, being possibly the most famous formation in the western world, seems like a good example to consider. It is allegedly about 500 million years old. Why is this alleged?

Obviously what we might call the "mainstream" geological answer to this information is available with time and research but I think the most efficient way to continue a discussion like this is to recognize, from your words, that it seems highly likely that your view on this kind of evidence, and its validity, differs from this mainstream of geology - the one that we tend to find by googling it! So perhaps it would be best if you set out your alternative theory as to how and when these fossils were laid down? The readers could do a little research and see what the available evidence appears (at last according to Google!) to say about that.

Would that work?

Anthony Edgar
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Anthony Edgar » December 12th, 2016, 3:19 am

Andrian wrote: The spiritual realm, up to this point, has not been observed, which is why many people, myself included, do not believe in such a thing.
What about reports of miracles, visions and demonic possession? These are events that have been observed.
As for dead matter doing magical things, I am unaware of any scientist who believes that matter ever does anything magical. I'm guessing you're referring to abiogenesis, in which nonliving matter slowly became more complex until eventually it became living matter. This is not a magical process.

Scientists don't call it magic, but in effect, that is what they believe in.  Abiogenesis is one example of pseudo-scientific magic, but there are many others, such as dead matter producing at ordered universe.  Evolution is magic.  The Sun, for example, is a nuclear fusion reactor, which, according to science, formed as a result of chance.  Magic.
There's good chemistry to back it up
This is code for "more untestable theories".



a strong precedent ... nonliving matter becomes living matter every day. Plants are constantly converting nonliving carbon dioxide from the air into living matter. Carnivores turn the dead matter of corpses into the living matter of their own bodies. Virtually all life on earth converts dead matter into living matter all the time. There's nothing magical about this process - it's just chemistry in action.
Yeah, photosynthesis is so simple! (just like the first "simple" cell that began all life)

Um... Punctuated Equilibrium is nothing like spontaneous generation.
I agree. I recant the comparison.
Spontaneous generation is the now defunct belief that rotting meat turned into flies, that grain turned into mice, and that mud turned into frogs.
It makes more sense to compare abiogenesis to spontaneous generation - believing "rotting meat turned into flies" and "mud turning into frogs" is really no different to believing that dead matter turned into living matter (abiogenesis).  
So abiogenesis is really spontaneous generation under a different name - ie, nineteenth century superstition and magic masquerading as science.

-- Updated December 12th, 2016, 3:23 am to add the following --
Greta wrote:Basically your theist pals were performing exorcisms on people afflicted with bacterial disease ...
Can you cite an example, please?

-- Updated December 12th, 2016, 4:08 am to add the following --
Fooloso4 wrote:If one begins with the assumption that they know the truth as revealed by God then anything that appears to contradict that truth must be false. When science seems to confirm their beliefs they appeal to science, but when science contradicts their beliefs they either claim that it is not science or that science is not a reliable source of knowledge. They appeal to evidence when it seems to favor their beliefs but when it contradicts their beliefs they insist that evidence is irrelevant.They quote evolutionary biologists out of context to make it appear that they are saying something other than they actually are of simply misquote them. But it may be a bit unfair to blame them for this since more often than not they are simply repeating what others have said and do not bother to check the sources and read what was actually said in context. Typically it does not matter because they are not interested in discovering the truth, they are only interested in defending what they believe to know is the truth.
I've come across a few quotes used by creationists that were indeed taken out of context. If any of the quotes I used are taken out of context, please let me know and I will recant them.

-- Updated December 12th, 2016, 11:42 am to add the following --
Fooloso4 wrote:Typically it does not matter because they are not interested in discovering the truth, they are only interested in defending what they believe to know is the truth.
An atheist being concerned about the truth of existence is like a condemned man on his way to the gallows being concerned that his hair isn't combed.
"There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe in them." - George Orwell

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Andrian » December 12th, 2016, 9:14 am

Anthony Edgar wrote: What about reports of miracles, visions and demonic possession? These are events that have been observed.
These are anecdotes, not observations. These reports cannot be verified or repeated, and interestingly these things never seem to happen when qualified skeptics are watching. They're just big fish stories and nothing more.
Anthony Edgar wrote: Scientists don't call it magic, but in effect, that is what they believe in.  Abiogenesis is one example of pseudo-scientific magic, but there are many others, such as dead matter producing at ordered universe.  Evolution is magic.  The Sun, for example, is a nuclear fusion reactor, which, according to science, formed as a result of chance.  Magic.
Now you're just being silly and obstinate.

First off, whether the universe is orderly or not is up for debate. Planets, stars, and even galaxies run into each other all the time. There are big asteroids that have come frighteningly close to hitting the earth in recent years. On earth, there are a lot of disorderly events, such as our notoriously difficult-to-predict weather.

However, there is a sense in which the universe is orderly, and that is in the basic physics of the world. Everything comes down to the four forces - gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. We may not know everything about these forces yet, but we do know how they work and how to predict interactions between atoms based on those forces. Even at larger scales, things can be fairly predictable. For example, the laws of chemistry, Newton's Laws of Motion (at non-relativistic scales), and Einstein's Special and General Relativity all hold true with so much regularity that we've been able to produce gobs of useful technology based off of them.

I've already explained that abiogenesis is just chemistry in action. The fact that organisms change over time is obvious to anyone who's ever looked at family portraits. The basic mechanism for how this happens (random mutation and natural selection) is remarkably simple and requires no magic whatsoever. The sun formed as a result of gravity pulling a cloud of gas together. As the gas particles got closer together, the temperature rose until it was hot enough to begin nuclear fusion. No magic required, just the laws of physics.

Is it only by chance that a rock falls to the ground when you drop it? Is it magic that hydrocarbons react with oxygen to produce heat, carbon dioxide, and water? The same principles govern these everyday occurrences as govern the processes you label as magic. Scientists don't believe in magic. They leave that to the superstitious.
Anthony Edgar wrote: This is code for "more untestable theories".
Untestable? Really? So... all the tests being done with protocells and RNA don't count? Scientists are just sitting in armchairs dreaming up stories explaining how life emerged without ever going into the lab and seeing if there's any evidence to back those stories up? Give me a break. Abiogenesis is an active and fruitful field of research.
Anthony Edgar wrote: Yeah, photosynthesis is so simple! (just like the first "simple" cell that began all life)
Photosynthesis doesn't have to be simple to prove my point. It is nonliving matter turning into living matter. If you think that's impossible, I challenge you to explain why photosynthesis can't happen, perform an experiment to prove it can't happen, and win a Nobel Prize.
Anthony Edgar wrote: It makes more sense to compare abiogenesis to spontaneous generation - believing "rotting meat turned into flies" and "mud turning into frogs" is really no different to believing that dead matter turned into living matter (abiogenesis).  
So abiogenesis is really spontaneous generation under a different name - ie, nineteenth century superstition and magic masquerading as science.
Ah, now this is something I actually expected you to compare abiogenesis to! It's still completely wrong, but at least the two can be properly compared with each other. The difference between abiogenesis and spontaneous generation is that spontaneous generation was the belief that fully-formed extant species emerged whole cloth from nonliving material, while abiogenesis is the belief that organic chemistry gradually became more and more complex until the first self-replicating organisms formed, at which point the theory of evolution takes over to explain how that organism's descendants diversified over millions of years to become all the living things we see today. The time scales are different. The mechanisms are different. One has evidence to support it, and the other does not. These are not the same thing.

As usual, I really wish that I could post links. :(

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Fooloso4 » December 12th, 2016, 1:38 pm

Anthony Edgar:

If any of the quotes I used are taken out of context, please let me know and I will recant them.

Recanting a quote is beside the point. It would be far more instructive if you determined the context before accepting and posting them. Following my own advice I note that the immediate context of your post was the fossil record. You are correct to the extent that the fossil record is problematic, however, the misuse of quotes is not about the veracity of the fossil record but of evolution. Issues involving the fossil record with the broad field of the evolutionary sciences are being misrepresented by those who wish to refute or debunk evolution.


You ask:

What does the fossil record reveal?



Using carbon dating, one thing that the fossil record reveals is that the earth and life on it are far older than 6,000 years.


I could, as you should, go through your quotes one by one to see that none of them stand as refutation of evolution, but I will get you started. You quote Richard C. Lewontin:

Look, I'm a person who says in this book [Human Diversity, 1982], that we don't know anything about the ancestors of the human species.

The quote makes it appear as if he rejects evolution. He doesn’t. He is an evolutionary biologist and geneticist. The issue in the book is not evolution but racial diversity. The point of the quote is to criticize those who use the fossil record to make claims about human ancestors. This does not mean that we do not have evolutionary evidence of human ancestors but rather that the fossil record is not the way to identify them. The problem is determining whether the fossil is in direct lineage to humans. His point is that diversity should be studied using population genetics.


If you want to discuss problems with the fossil record you will find lots of support from evolutionary scientists. What you will not find, however, is confirmation of your claim that the earth is 6,000 years old or that problems with the fossil record is evidence that the theory of evolution is false.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 12th, 2016, 2:34 pm

Kind of an aside but the Bible does not make a definite claim about the age of the earth, don't know where the "it's 6000 years old" idea came from, but it cannot be found in the Bible.
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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Dolphin42 » December 12th, 2016, 3:14 pm

Felix:

I think it was because of that guy from a long time ago who once decided to add up all the ages of all the people in the Bible, back to Adam and Eve, to find out how old the world is, so he did it and it came to, like, 4853 years or something, and nobody can remember that number so they just round it up to 6000.

I think it was that.

As you may have guessed, I decided to resist googling that one and try to actually remember it.

Thank God for Google, eh?

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Felix » December 12th, 2016, 3:26 pm

Thank God for Google, eh?
Or Lucifer, depending on your perspective....
"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are." - Anaïs Nin

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Anthony Edgar » December 12th, 2016, 9:39 pm

Andrian wrote:So, now you're moving the goalposts on me, eh? You start off talking about macroevolution having no value in applied science, and then when I give you examples of macroevolution being used in applied science, you switch to talking about speciation.
No, I'm not moving the goalposts. I equate speciation with macroevolution.
Antibiotic resistance is an amazing example of evolution at work because it shows how a population can change over time.
Change, yes.  But is this evolution?  Evolution within the species, yes.  But evolution that leads to speciation?  That's an extrapolation that's not necessarily true.  

Antibiotic resistance can be likened to this scenario:  Some aliens come to earth and want to wipe out the human race.  So they spray the planet with a drug designed to kill humans.  But for some quirk in their genetic make-up, people with red hair aren't affected by the drug.   So, the human population is wiped out except for the redheads. Over the centuries the redheads breed up and eventually fill the earth.  So the aliens use the drug again, but it doesn't work this time because it doesn't affect redheads.  The aliens realize that the humans "have become resistant" to their drug (which is a misleading term, since the redheads didn't "become" resistant, they were always resistant).  

The demographic of the humans has changed, but no speciation has occurred.  The redheads were present before the application of the drug and they are there after; they haven't changed one iota.  This process is natural selection and has nothing to do with speciation.  So to relate antibiotic resistance to speciation is nonsense.  Simply culling a population will not lead to speciation.

The same principle applies to your Greenish Warblers.  If part of the ring becomes extinct, the rest of the ring are still Greenish Warblers.  You claim they're on their way to becoming a different species - pelicans, maybe ... or eagles, but that's just speculation.  
"There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe in them." - George Orwell

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by JamesOfSeattle » December 12th, 2016, 10:27 pm

For what it's worth (and maybe its worth, ahem), Terrence Deacon has a pretty good idea of how life may have started in his book Incomplete Nature. In a nutshell, there are two phenomena that are known to occur spontaneously: the formation of lipid bilayer enclosures, and autocatalytic chemical systems wherein the products of one reaction catalyze another reaction whose products catalyze the first reaction. If one of the side products of the reactions is the proper lipid, you can get a system that sorta self-regenerates, and this simple system could pick up new parts to increase likelihood of self-regeneration, yada yada. This is untested theory, as far as I know, but it's a place to start.

*

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Anthony Edgar » December 12th, 2016, 10:32 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:Recanting a quote is beside the point. It would be far more instructive if you determined the context before accepting and posting them ... I could, as you should, go through your quotes one by one to see that none of them stand as refutation of evolution, but I will get you started. You quote Richard C. Lewontin ... The quote makes it appear as if he rejects evolution. He doesn’t. He is an evolutionary biologist and geneticist. The issue in the book is not evolution but racial diversity. The point of the quote is to criticize those who use the fossil record to make claims about human ancestors. This does not mean that we do not have evolutionary evidence of human ancestors but rather that the fossil record is not the way to identify them. The problem is determining whether the fossil is in direct lineage to humans. His point is that diversity should be studied using population genetics.
Point taken. I must admit to being lazy and not checking this one (and a few others) out, which is unwise and risky, since is it a fact that some creationists have used some quotes out of context. My error and thank you for pointing it out. A lesson learnt.
If you want to discuss problems with the fossil record you will find lots of support from evolutionary scientists. What you will not find, however, is confirmation of your claim that the earth is 6,000 years old or that problems with the fossil record is evidence that the theory of evolution is false.

I never claimed that the earth is 6000 years old. I believe that by using Biblical texts (such as the geneology in Genesis 5), the year of creation can be ascertained, which, according to scholars, turns out to be a little less than 6000 years. The Jewish Chronical, for example, publishes the year 5777 (aka 2016 AD) on its front page. The Catholic Church comes up with a similar figure, although only "fundamentalists" believe it these days. (Wouldn't it be funny if "fundamentalist" turns out to be another way saying "the elect".)
"There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe in them." - George Orwell

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Andrian » December 13th, 2016, 12:24 am

Anthony Edgar wrote:Change, yes.  But is this evolution?  Evolution within the species, yes.  But evolution that leads to speciation?  That's an extrapolation that's not necessarily true.  

Antibiotic resistance can be likened to this scenario:  Some aliens come to earth and want to wipe out the human race.  So they spray the planet with a drug designed to kill humans.  But for some quirk in their genetic make-up, people with red hair aren't affected by the drug.   So, the human population is wiped out except for the redheads. Over the centuries the redheads breed up and eventually fill the earth.  So the aliens use the drug again, but it doesn't work this time because it doesn't affect redheads.  The aliens realize that the humans "have become resistant" to their drug (which is a misleading term, since the redheads didn't "become" resistant, they were always resistant).  

The demographic of the humans has changed, but no speciation has occurred.  The redheads were present before the application of the drug and they are there after; they haven't changed one iota.  This process is natural selection and has nothing to do with speciation.  So to relate antibiotic resistance to speciation is nonsense.  Simply culling a population will not lead to speciation.

The same principle applies to your Greenish Warblers.  If part of the ring becomes extinct, the rest of the ring are still Greenish Warblers.  You claim they're on their way to becoming a different species - pelicans, maybe ... or eagles, but that's just speculation.  
Your example is actually an excellent analogy for how natural selection works! Good job! Now all you need to do is accept descent with modification and you'll have accepted Darwin's basic theory! However, let me extend the analogy further. Let's say the aliens realize that their human-killing drug isn't working any more, so they come out with an even stronger human-killing drug and return to earth. This drug kills some redheads, but not all of them. Let's say that the amount of freckles on their skin determines how strongly they react to this new drug. This means that the redheads with the most freckles are most likely to survive. So after this application of the drug, only freckled redheads remain. Repeated applications of this drug would of course cause the human population to become more and more dominated by heavily freckled redheads. Now, of course, if the aliens figure out why heavily freckled redheads are immune to their drug quickly enough, they can come back and wipe out all the remaining humans.

However, here is where descent with modification comes in. In this planet populated by freckled redheads, there will still be variations between them, and the longer the redheads are left alone by the aliens, the more diversity there will be among them. Some will be taller, some will have curlier hair, some will have hairier bodies, some will have different-colored eyes, and some might even have more interesting variations, like extra fingers and toes. These traits will be passed down to their children, and the more diverse the population is when the aliens return to spray them again, the greater the chance that some of them will be immune to the newest drug. If the aliens keep coming back and wiping out all but a few humans with a few distinctive traits, and then those humans repopulate the earth and diversify, only to have the aliens return to almost wipe them out again, eventually humans will start to look very different from their ancestors. Maybe the delivery method of the aliens would give an advantage to some humans over others. Let's say that the aliens, instead of spraying their toxin, put the drug into the water supply, but that the humans quickly discover that alcohol destroys the alien toxin. Now, alcohol is itself a toxin, and it has a number of negative effects on the human body. But, since none of these effects are instantly fatal like the drug is, humans who drank alcohol would survive, while those who didn't would die out. Now, as I'm sure you know, some humans can function better under the influence of alcohol than others, and these humans would have a distinct advantage over their lightweight fellows. Over time, alcohol resistance would build up in the human population, and of course new variations within the spectrum of alcohol tolerance would be constantly cropping up. With such strong evolutionary pressures toward being able to metabolize alcohol, it wouldn't be long before an immunity to alcohol developed within the population. Now we would have a population of humans that was VERY different from the original stock, and over time, enough differences could accumulate such that, if an alien with a time machine were to come to earth and take one of these new freckled, redhead, alcohol-immune humans back in time to before the first spraying, they couldn't successfully interbreed with any of their ancestors.

We observe something similar to the alcohol tolerance thing occurring all the time, such as when scientists were able to evolve e. coli to metabolize citrate, or when flavobacteria evolved to digest nylon. Of course, it takes longer to see such traits evolve in creatures with longer lifespans than bacteria, because the generations are longer. But the same principles are at work in both cases.

As for the Greenish Warblers, of course they're never going to evolve into anything other than Greenish Warblers. Nothing ever evolves out of its evolutionary lineage. Even if one strain of the Greenish Warbler evolved to be 13 feet high, breathe fire, and survive in outer space, it would still be a Greenish Warbler (This is a hyperbolic example which is probably physiologically impossible. It is used for illustrative purposes only.). However, at some point, assuming the lineages on the ends continue to diverge, there will be different species of Greenish Warbler, and if those populations diverge, then each species of Greenish Warbler could become two new species of Greenish Warbler, and so on.

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Anthony Edgar » December 13th, 2016, 9:56 pm

Andrian wrote:
Anthony Edgar wrote: First of all, Tiktalik isn't an example of applied science. Finding a fossil is not a practical use; it amounts to no more than finding (perceived) evidence to support a theory. Furthermore, have fans of Tiktalik ever considered that one "success" is statisically insignificant and can therefore be attributed to luck?
Somehow I missed this section of your reply.

Ummm... are you kidding me? Do you even know what applied science is? And how is predicting the location of an as-yet undiscovered fossil of no practical use? Seems quite practical to me. If you want to find a specific kind of fossil, you need to know where to look for it, so as not to waste your time and money digging in the wrong spot.
Your idea of applied science needs reviewing, methinks. Ok, so you find a fossil ... then what? How is this fossil useful? If you rub in on your skin, will it cure cancer? If you bury it near a fruit tree, will the tree produce more friut? I suspect not.
The only use a fossil has, apart from being an historical curiosity, is to used as evidence to support some scientific theory. Please be advised that embellishing a theory is not applied science - it's theoretical science.

Come to think of it, off the top of my head I can't think of any use the entire realm of paleontology has in applied science. It seems to be as practically useless as (macro)evolution ... surprise, suprise!
"There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe in them." - George Orwell

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Re: A Critique of Biological Materialism

Post by Andrian » December 14th, 2016, 6:15 pm

Alright, so I think I can post links now. I don't remember everything that I wanted to provide a link for, but here are some of the ones I do remember:

Explanation of whale evolution, complete with fossils: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrar ... vograms_03
More detailed explanation of whale evolution, complete with fossil illustrations: http://www.talkorigins.org/features/whales/
Hominid fossil record: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/specimen.html
Basic overview of the evolution of birds from dinosaurs: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrar ... vograms_06
Information on the Greenish Warbler: http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/~irwin/GreenishWarblers.html

If there are more sources that people are waiting for, let me know what they are and I'll happily provide more sources.

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