Friday, September 12, 2008

Bloggers of the world unite!

Sorry, had to say it. But right now that is how I feel. I received a link to an interesting blog called
"Kickin' the Darkness" which had a fascinating post, "How to talk to an Evolutionist (without being dismissed as ignorant and stupid)". It is a well laid out post which attempts to explain that many anti-evolutionist arguments are self-defeating. In my opinion any Creationist, Intelligent Design proponent, or other form of anti-evolutionist really should read this to avoid the more common arguments that make them look . . . well . . . stupid and ignorant.

The bottom line is really simple. There are many arguments that simply are not only ineffective, but really do make some people look . . . well you know . . .. I have no idea how many times someone has posted, "If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?" A question like this only serves to underline that the person posting it has no understanding of Evolution at all! Add to the fact it has not only been answered a hundred different times in a hundred different ways -- and it is one of the questions many Creationist websites say should no longer be used. But people still use it, and then wonder why no one takes them seriously. The whole urban legend of Darwin recanting his work is another one. It just proves that an anti-evolutionist will grasp any straw, even one proven by other Creationist websites as being untrue. A decent grounding in actual scientific methodology will also go a long way. How many times has evolution been called a religion, or the very definition of a scientific theory been bounced around erroneously? More than I can count by now.

There are many arguments like that. I assembled by own personal top 10 of ineffective Creationist arguments:

10. Why are there still monkeys?
9. But what about Darwin's recanting and Lady Hope?
8. But it violates the 2nd (1st or 3rd) law of Thermodynamics.
7. But you have to have how life began to know how it changes.
6. Now if this tornado touches down in a junkyard ...
5. 'Real' Christians don't support evolution.
4. The 'Great' flood did it all.
3. There are no transitional fossils!
2. The 'Big Science' conspiracy.

and my number favorite Creationist Whine is ...

1. "It's only a Theory!"

After first posting this, a couple of folks asked for a thumbnail sketch as to why these are ineffective, to say the least, so here goes:

10. Why are there still monkeys? Evolutionary theory states that we and modern monkeys evolved from a common ancestor -- not that we evolved from monkeys. The common ancestor was more monkey-like and the cleft point may have been a geological upheaval in which part of the common ancestor population was stranded on one side of a new mountain range where the weather caused to jungle to recede. Hence the changes toward more bi-pedal and so forth.

9. But what about Darwin's recanting and Lady Hope? Pure hoax! 35 years after Darwin died this English Lady addressed a Evangelists group in Connecticut and claimed that Darwin recanted his work and accepted Jesus Christ. There has never been no corroborating evidence and Darwin's own family denounced it. Plus she had many details of his final months wrong!

8. But it violates the 2nd (1st or 3rd) law of Thermodynamics. Simply put, the 2nd law is applicable to closed systems, which this planet certainly is not. Anyone who understands thermodynamics recognizes this argument as based on a poor understanding of physics to go with their poor understanding of biology.

7. But you have to have how life began to know how it changes. Do you have to know how a car is built to drive one? If so most people would be off the road! Evolutionary theory starts with the presence of life. There are other ideas about how life formed, but they are not part of evolutionary theory.

6. Now if this tornado touches down in a junkyard ... The rest of this is an apparent attempt to compare evolution with a tornado passing through a junkyard and building a 747 or the Space Shuttle. In other words anyone who says this has an incredible poor understanding of Evolution because it is not nearly as random as this example would make you think. Now if there was a process to grab each part blown up by a tornado and save it to be used during later storms . . . ie: Natural Selection . . . you might get a slightly better example, but as it is it has nothing to do with Evolutionary theory.

5. 'Real' Christians don't support evolution. Then why do most Christians accept Evolution? Are you trying to say that Catholics, Baptists, and Methodists are not Christians? Only by some imaginary standard that the rest of the Christian world seems to know nothing about.

4. The 'Great' flood did it all. There has never been one shred of evidence of a single world-wide flood event, not one! The evidence that support floods also point to many different flood events, none of the on a world-wide scale, over millions of years. Plus a single event could not be responsible for all the geological features, fossils, strata . . . and all the things Creationists like to justify. In my opinion when they can't explain away a certain piece of evidence supporting evolutionary theory, they just use the Flood as the default argument.

3. There are no transitional fossils! This on is the hardest one to justify in my mind -- because there are hundreds of transitional fossils. In fact every fossil can be called transitional because the past leads to the present which will lead to the future of all organisms. But how the ones I have talked to justify this is they claim either no one has found "The Missing Link" or that there are no "Dog/Bird/Cat fossils". Once again all they are doing is revealing their ignorance of evolutionary theory.

2. The 'Big Science' conspiracy. This one has been bandied around for a while. So let me get this straight, there is some super-secret world-wide, multinational, and multi-generational organization conspiring to keep Evolution in science and keep Creationism out? Does anyone else see the problem here? This argument is nothing more than a smokescreen as to why Creationist (including Intelligent Design proponents) cannot seem to find any scientifically valid support for their wishful thinking. Rather than re-look at their ideas, they blame some conspiracy. So what happens, at some point in your science education 'they' pull you intoa secret room, teach you the secret handshake and send you forth to continue oppressing those who wish to bring religion into the classroom as if it was scientific? Please! Someone go get the credibility stretcher, I think we hit the wall on that one.

1. "It's only a Theory!" This can be explained a couple of different ways. First of all it's a deliberate deception by misusing the word "theory". When it comes to science there is no higher label to put on anything. Theory is it! So a scientific theory is not a guess, or a hunch, or even just an idea. It is a well supported explanation of a given phenomena. It meets the evidence, generates predictable results, and can be falsified. The other way this can be explained is another example of scientific ignorance. People do not understand theory in the terms of science, so when someone claims it's just a theory, that sound right because they are not using it in the context of science. While the two ways sound similar the difference is intent. On the one hand groups making the claim are deliberately trying to deceive people. On the other people simply just don't know any better.

So there is my thumbnail sketch. Many of there have been explained in other blog entries. I know I may have missed your personal favorite Creationist argument, and you can always comment here.

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