Posted by: cjobrien | 29 December 2010

Correcting Creationists Is Always Infuriating

I always struggle with trying to correct creationist information when I see it on various websites. It’s not that I find the information compelling (it never is); it’s that I know the proponents are not interested in serious examination of the evidence for evolution. Until they can at least show an honest understanding of what evolution is all about, I find myself not even desiring to correct them. Why bother? I really don’t care if they agree with evolutionary theory, but at least be able to tell the truth about what the theory says and what the evidence is or isn’t. You really can’t effectively debate creationists because you spend so much time correct the inaccuracies, lies and deceptions they present.

However, as my graduate advisor used to say…it’s not about changing the proponent’s mind; it’s about showing everyone else in the audience who is sitting on the fence why and how the proponent is incorrect. That’s what I find, time and again, in my anthropology course. The reaction I hear at the end of the class every semester and most often is, “Great class…I never knew all that information about evolution”. Most students either are never exposed to it correctly in high school biology, or have been lied to by their parents and ministers.

So, with that in mind, I came across Gregg and Part XVII of his series on Darwinian Evolutionary Frauds. Once again, I had to roll my eyes and shake my head at the inaccuracies, misinformation and outright lying that Gregg does about Darwin, evolution and the fossil record and wonder “why bother?” When I came to his “assessment” of Lucy’s anatomical characteristics and what they mean, I couldn’t hold back. Gregg has absolutely no interest in understanding science, evidence or anything about the fossil record and is clearly only interested in protecting his god from the evil evolutionists (why god would choose someone like Gregg as a spokesperson just verifies that I’m on the right track with my atheistic tendencies). Gregg identifies eleven “facts” (I assume he considers them factual) about Lucy’s anatomy that should make anyone reading his column suspicious of evolutionist claims. Below the fold I underline each of his “facts” and then comment on the actual data as we currently know it….

No similarity in appearance to humans

Gregg is being very vague here. What, exactly, does he mean by “appearance”? The fact is, it completely depends upon what part of Lucy’s anatomy you happen to be looking at as to whether it “looks” human-like or “looks” ape-like. Actually, when I show side-by-side comparison photos of chimp, human and afarensis pelves, the students have no problem identifying afarensis as more human-like; they say the opposite when shown side-by-side photos of the cranium; they are generally mixed when looking at the jaws). I have no doubt Gregg sees no human characteristics at all, which is to be expected since I don’t think he has the ability to push his god apologetics aside and think critically. Fortunately, scientists have things like quantifiable measurements, computers and statistics to demonstrate that in fact Lucy’s anatomy contains both human-like and ape-like characteristics….as well as some that don’t fit well into either category.

Long arms identical to chimpanzees (not humans)

I’m not sure which hat Gregg pulled this rabbit out of, but it’s not true. Yes, afarensis arms are longer than humans, but they are not identical to chimpanzees! In fact, although Lucy’s arms are long relative to humans, they’re actually short relative to modern apes (including chimps and gorillas). There is also nothing in afarensis forelimb anatomy to suggest that it engaged in knuckle-walking or any other type of quadrupedal locomotion like modern apes.

Jaws are very similar to chimpanzees (not humans)

Not hardly. Lucy (and other afarensis dental remains) show mixtures of both (tooth rows similar in shape to chimp’s, but lacking a diastema (like humans) and large canine (larger than humans but not the size of chimp or gorilla canines). Enamel thickness is greater than in either the great apes or humans (with which group does that align Lucy?).

Upper leg bone very similar to chimpanzees (not humans)

Again, no. The proximal end of the femur shows distinctions between early humans, apes and humans, with more overlap with humans. The distal femur is far more human-like than chimpanzee. It angles toward the knee like humans (and unlike chimps and gorillas) and contains thicker bone along the ventral portion of the femur neck (to support a bipedal gait) almost exactly like that seen in humans.

Lucy’s legs were very ape-like

Well, that’s the same point as above; however, the lower hind limb (the tibia) also exhibits characteristics that are human-like and unlike those seen in chimpanzees.

Brain size (400-500 cc) overlaps chimpanzees (not humans)

Yep, that’s correct…and it makes it all the more interesting when you look collectively at all the human-like traits that Lucy shares with us. Very much like a….transitional fossil?

Large back muscles for tree dwelling

Yeah, that may be true…but so what? If the implication is that Lucy only lived in the trees, then that’s simply irrationally dismisses all the evidence available to the contrary. No scientist has proposed that Lucy and other australopithecines did not walk bipedally. All accept that view. The question is whether Lucy’s bipedal gait war more like ours, or something different. Additionally, her spinal column suggests a human-like curvature related to bipedalism and not structured for quadrupedal locomotion as seen in apes. Her shoulder blade was originally argued to have been more adapted to tree dwelling, like those seen in modern apes, however, newer, more complete fossils suggest that may not be the case.

Hands similar to pygmy chimpanzee  (not human hands)

Well, the fingers are curved as in chimps and probably more flexible than in humans, but other characteristics of the hand are distinctly more human-like than chimp-like. The fingers are not elongated like in apes and the opposability of the thumb and other fingers is distinctly more like humans. Again, as with other anatomical features of Lucy, if you can say “ape” only if you ignore all the suite of traits that, taken in isolation, would say “human”. The fact is, Lucy is a mixture.

Feet were long and curved (not human like at all)

Yes, but “long and curved” are not the only characteristics of the feet. In fact, the afarensis foot is arched more like modern humans than chimps, and articulations of the metatarsals and toes are much more like ours. The heel is also structured like the human foot so that it can take the weight of a biped – it is not chimp-like at all. Time and again, Lucy’s skeleton (and those of other afarensis individuals) show mixtures of human and ape characteristics.

Rib cage conical like modern chimpanzee not barrel shaped like human

Actually, new afarensis discoveries suggest the chest is not as barrel shaped as originally reconstructed. So, like the shoulder blade, this is still a question in need of an answer – Gregg’s definitive statement is incorrect.

Hip bone geometry inconsistent with upright walking

Not even close, Gregg. No one disputes that afarensis was a habitual biped – and the pelvis clearly shows human-like adaptations to upright walking. The debate is over the efficiency of the biped locomotion. It is not clear if Lucy and her kind walked exactly like humans – but it is clear they moved more like humans than chimps. Gregg is just lying about the data here.

Of course, Darwinists have known about every single one of these points for decades, in fact not long after the 1974 discovery of Lucy.

Since none of Gregg’s points are factually correct, what “Darwinists” knew about Lucy is exactly the opposite of what Gregg has depicted. And while controversy still remains about Lucy’s place in the hominid family tree (watch that line get taken out of context as another creationist example of scientists waffling on Lucy’s status), none of it is about her mixture of human-like and ape-like features. As I tell my students, the very fact that there is controversy over where Lucy fits in relation to humans and apes just shows how many features she shares with both groups. Gregg and other creationists can say she’s not human, but he has to close his eyes and squint really, really hard when he looks at the skeleton.

In fact, Gregg’s entire series on “Darwinian Evolutionary Frauds” is in fact…fraudulent. It reproduces the same old creationist lies and deceptions common to all creationist websites. There is nothing educational about any of it unless you need to deceive yourself about the truth. It amazes me to know the level of falsehoods, inaccuracies, misinformation and general lack of intellectual integrity presented by creationists. It shouldn’t…creationists cannot make an argument about evolution without lying about it or simply refusing to understand the science behind it. Gregg illustrates this point beautifully. Ultimately, he is not interested in understanding the science behind evolution – the best he can do, like any creationist, is to quote mine, take facts out of context, and just do everything in his power to protect the god he believes in (apparently his god just can’t operate very effectively here in the real world and needs people like Gregg to defend him). This is not a problem with intellect – it’s psychological. It’s not that people like Gregg can’t learn…they don’t want to. The answer may conflict with their personal knowledge (and vision) of the invisible sky fairy.

I will give credit to Gregg for one thing. He just gave me some good talking points to go over in my Anthropology course with the students, just so they can understand when they see or hear statements from creationists like Gregg how bogus that information is.

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Responses

  1. From someone who believes in theistic evolution-

    Creationists get it wrong, but so do Darwinists. The missing part of Darwinism is the creator-God. He can do the universe any way he wants to. He did it through evolution. All evolution does is follow the physical part of the universe. Even a slight acknowledgement that God did it would make Darwin’s theory palatable.

  2. But god didn’t do it….

  3. And automobiles are concepted by accident, and buildings are architected by accident, too. The Declaration of Independence was a random jumble of symbols. Right.

  4. Uhh…no….but then again I’ve never seen a building copulate and reproduce itself through genetic replication. So what’s your point?

  5. The point is that everything has a designer, except for one thing. Something that designed it all, something that caused it all. God. Machines don’t create themselves, even living beings don’t recreate themselves.

  6. I have to agree with your first paragraph, but on the other end of the spectrum. I also have to repeatedly explain to critics of religion and to other Christian religions that what they think I believe about the Bible is inaccurate. I spend hours trying to explain to them, but to no avail. Anyway, I am not here to argue with you, you have your views and I have mine. But the problem with all these evolution/religion blogs, and the reason you get so frustrated from all the illogical arguments, is that you are arguing with false religion. Don’t get me wrong, the God of the Bible is real, it is just that the people who claim to be his followers are not true followers. Their theology is the result of many years of human philosophy mingled together with the biblical texts. Most of there ideas are easily challenged. Take for example the idea of the creation account occurring in 6 literal days of 24 hours. Genesis 2:4 itself disproves this idea calling it one day. Not to mention that in the book of Hebrews, Paul indicates that the 7th day of Genesis does not end until Christ returns. Well that has been more then 6,000 years now. So no, the creation was not 6 literal days, it was thousands of years long. The Bible is so misunderstood it is not funny.

  7. The bulk of your character assassination above is what is called an argumentum ad hominum, which means in the Latin “To the Man” meaning it is a personal attack against my character instead of the actual arguments that I presented. This is, strictly speaking, a fallacious argument.

    Calling me a liar repeatedly, while it probably vented some of your Darwinist spleen, doesn’t address a single point I brought to the table. It is, in fact, a very weak argument. For example, you say that my series on frauds is fraudulent. What is fraudulent are hoaxes perpetrated in the name of Darwinism such as Piltdown man. You offer me some advice which is to learn more about science. I am constantly learning. But I would advise you to learn some things about logic, critical thinking, and formal debate.

    God Bless,
    Gregg

  8. Gregg, seriously, Piltdown man??? That’s the best you can come up with??? Go back to going to church on Sunday and leave science to the professionals. As with my last couple of posts, unless you have the courage to actually read and consider the data, you have no business talking about evolution. You focused on a couple of comments I made and refused to address the points I made about Lucy. I’ll say it again, you are either knowingly lying about the evidence or you or you refuse to consider it honestly – and as a character flaw, I don’t know which is worse. In the meantime, I’ll keep correcting your fraudulent science for those who are willing to listen (and it’s a LOT more than you could possibly imagine).

    • I assume, then, that you concede at least that Piltdown man was fraudulent. Your reply to my reply contains additional fallacies. First of all, an open debate is not exclusionary. Your premise is arbitrary and thus fallacious. For example, I could say, until you study the Bible and understand the nature of God, you have no business talking about God, or even believers in general. That would be an arbitrary argument and fallacious. Unlike you, I am actually quite open minded when intellectually honest information is brought to bear in a valid, sound, and scientifically unbiased and logical manner. So I find myself unable to be arbitrary and hostile.

      You point out that I didn’t read your other points and consider the data. I could point out that you read exactly 1 out of 17 posts in a series, picked the summarized list of points you wish to attack and took only those points well out of context, and then went on a straw man and Ad Hominem rant calling me by name more than 20 times. I don’t think it is a matter of you lacking any courage. My opinion is that you are probably just intellectually lazy and emotionally hostile as your fallacious argumentation style tends to indicate.

      And again, the Ad Hominem of attacking my character does nothing to resolve any debate over conclusions reached. You obviously did not watch the video clip of Lovejoy admitting that Lucy could not have possibly walked upright so he actually takes a dremel tool to her hipbone and reconfigures the geometry there. You obvioiusly missed the preceding posts which quote Ph.D’s and other specialists in the field with respect to Au Af that led to the bullet points which apparently so incensed you.

      I am beginning to think that you may not actually be interested in an honest debate, though, preferring you little bully pulpit. Your reply will determine a lot of what remains in my assessment of that.

      Again, God Bless you.
      Gregg

  9. Howard, thank you for your comments. I agree, the bible is sorely misinterpreted (it was written by primitive agriculturalists with no knowledge of science or much of the broader world around them. I don’t actually mean this as a criticism…it was just the nature of the times). I appreciate your personal belief in god, but I’m sorry I don’t share that with you. Nothing in the real world today requires belief in an invisible deity.

    • That’s exactly it. Religion is not, nor should it be, in the business of science, and the Bible makes no claims to scientific accuracy. In fact, for the 4000 years before Christ came, and for 1500 years after He came, nobody said that the Biblical account was scientific. Whatever the Bible is, it’s not science.

      But come on, you’re ‘sorry’ you don’t share that belief in God? You’re right nothing in the ephemeral world, nothing here on earth requires you to believe in God. That’s just our point-what’s important isn’t on earth, it’s what happens after we die.

    • In reply to you comment, I’m not sure I understand your statement of “Nothing in the real world today requires belief in an invisible deity.” I can only assume you are associating the Judeo-Christian God with that of other ancient gods that were relied upon for man’s understanding of the physical world. The Judeo-Christian Bible does not attempt to do this at all. It does not try to explain natural phenomenon and objects in nature as divine entities. The sole purpose of the Bible is to explain God’s means of saving the people of the earth and showing them how they should live their lives so that they can be a part of this salvation. The Bible is not a book to explain science. When someone writes a bibliography or a cookbook, should we dismiss it out of hand because it does not attempt to explain science. So back to your original statement. If the world today is filled with misery, hatred and war, and God offers a solution to this, I think their is certainly something in the real world that requires a belief in an invisible deity. I am not attempting to prove God’s existence here, I am merely answering your comments as to what the Bible is really about and what need there is for such a deity today. However, each person must make their own examination of the information and come to their own conclusions.

      I read in your main post that you are an anthropologist. That makes you extremely qualified to answer a few questions if you do not mind. And no, I am not trying to lead you into a situation where you need to agree with me. Being an anthropologist, what is the scholarly consensus in your field as to why the Judeo-Christian Bible and religious practices have had such a significant impact on many cultures through out the world including the western? It appears that this impact is much more significant than the religious ideas and writings of Egypt, Greek, Rome and others. Basically, how did a relatively small group of people in the first century change the world? How did this “fairy tail” as so many put it, deeply influence so many of the brilliant minds through history? Man has studied science at least since Aristotle’s time, why has he only become scientifically enlightened in the last two centuries? These are serious questions and they no doubt hit upon some of the main points of the foundation of Judeo-Christian beliefs. I am interested in hearing an opinion from an anthropologist. Let me quote one Scripture, not for its divine origin, but for its simple logic.

      (Acts 5:38-39) . . .And so, under the present circumstances, I say to YOU, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is from God, YOU will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, YOU may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.”

      Do you think this logic is sound? What do you believe accounts for the longevity of the Judeo-Christian religion? Do you know of any other religion that has been practiced continually for over 2,500 years with archeological evidence and over 6,000 years as implied in the Bible.

      Thanks
      Howard

      • Sorry, bibliography was suppose to be biography…

  10. Howard, I haven’t neglected your questions from a previous comment; I’ve just been busy reworking a couple of lectures in light of some fraudulent information being presented on other blogs. Believe me, I’m giving them some thought and will respond…probably in a new post.

    • No problem, take your time.

  11. [...] of them eventually, but I want to start with Dave’s comment several posts ago regarding how infuriating it is to try to deal with creationists. Dave is clearly a good accomodationist – rejecting extreme fundamentalist interpretations of the [...]


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