"Creationism does not deny that limited speciation has occurred. The cats we see today were derived from the original kind. Further, I think it is not coincidental that the strongest
evidence for evolution in the fossil record is amongst closely related species [for ex. ox and
cow species]." -Bzrd
The simplest mechanism for speciation occurs when some physical boundary separates a population. That is for what ever reason, a population split up to forage different environments for food, or escape from predators, etc.
So the distinction you made in cows and oxen being in different species shows that somewhere along their past, their ancestors branched off and went off to different environments. The adaptations that occured after the separation then became so pronounced that, if you ever tried to unite the species of oxen and cows again - trying to mate them - this would not be possible because they`ve evolved to the extent where their mating would produce viable young. This is one of the criterion scientists have placed on the classification in "species". What distinguishes your special defintion for "kind"? and what makes it empirically more approapriate than the scientific nomenclature?
"If you want to refer to this as evolution that is fine." -Bzrd
Yes. I would very much like to refer to this as evolution because it shows how organisms become increasingly more suited to their environments with time. From a genetic standpoint, evolution can be defined as the change in allele frequency with time. So that is exactly what is happening in your ox --> cow example.
Moreover, you said creationists accept limited speciation has occured between very close organisms. Let`s look at primates. Humans and chimpanzees share approximately 97 % of their genetic material. You don`t need to be a statistician to see that this is extremely close measure. Thus, it`s not inconceivable that apes and other primates had a common ancestors (just as in your cows and oxen example). Creationists only object to this implication because it doesn`t explicitly say that we evolved from other primates in the bible.
As one of my favorite authors Desmond Morris said: "i prefer to view ourselves not as fallen angels, but as risen apes".
"Does this imply that a cat can morph into a rhinocerous?" -Bzrd
I think you`re misrepresenting what evolution says. Evolution contends that for a given environment, we will see organisms that are well suited to survive there. Thus a cat is best suited for its particular environment, and a rhino for it`s own environment. Each are optimally suited to their specific environments.
Traits arise from random mutations (rare but regular occurances) which are then selected by nature. Beneficial mutations have been known to arise Ex. recent studies on south african prostitutes show that many of them have an apparent immunity to the HIV virus. It is natural selection at work.
"Tenacious, there is nothing wrong with learning. God gave us an intellect. He expects us to use it." -Bzrd
Excellent. He expects us to use it. That is rationalism. If God gave me a brain, it is imperfect. You perceive that this brain has led me to make erroneous conclusions about the world (ie. God doesn`t exist). Therefore, God can`t really hold it against me if i follow my own convictions, because i have a finite brain that he gave me. I`m using it to the best of my ability, and to me, the bible doesn`t make sense. Oh well, i would assume a compassionate God would be understanding to my human flaws nonetheless.
"Why does an evolutionist "see" transitional forms in the fossil record when a creationist does not? It is an issue of the heart." - Bzrd
You are so right. Even in science, issues will eventually lead to subjective insights. The scientific method is far from fool proof. There will be dogmatic scientists as there will be dogmatic theists (which aren`t necessarily mutually exclusive). There`s not much i can do about it but accept that the views i hold are mine - and it`s my own decision that i`ve arived upon based on what i know for the time being.
I have tried to search the bible, they don`t seem to me to be the absolute truths i once thought they were. I`ve have always asserted that the bible, along with all other religious writings are valuable. But i cannot base my life on them.
Of course, what follows this is tolerance of others. When there is so much subjectivity, and so few absolutes - one is forced to be understanding to the plight of his fellow man. We are all the same. Ultimately, we`re all stuck with hard answers, and we`re working on them as best we can. Although i hope that me being on the world has meant something and made a differennce, I can measure my own life only through the fact that i`ve tried. Creationist or evolutionist; theist or atheist; there`s no shame in that. I see life as not so much about finding the answers, but to ask the tough ambiguous questions. As far as i`m concerned everybody on this forum has asked these questions, and it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside :)