Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Sending Dolts to Challenge a Giant

I was flipping channels and came across a video of a group of creationists who went to the Galapagos Islands in order to prove Darwin wrong. I didn’t watch much of it, but I figured it was only a matter of time before such a well-funded creationist project showed up on the Worldnutdaily. And it reveals just how ignorant and ridiculous the people behind this project are. Some of this stuff is staggeringly idiotic. Like this:

He explained that Darwin accepted homology and morphology, believing common origins would be evident from similar body traits.

“The idea is that a man has a head, arms and legs and an ape has a head, arms and legs, so that shows similar ancestry and, therefore, a common lineage,” Phillips said. “That was one of the fundamental bases of Darwinian thinking that came from the Galapagos.”

However, he said even evolutionists don’t believe that anymore because DNA has proven it’s utterly false.

“We have eyeballs with retinas and rods and corneas, but so do giant squid – just like humans,” he said. “Nobody thinks we came from the same common lineage. Creationists argue that it’s because we have a common Designer, not a common evolutionary ancestry.”

Scientists don’t believe in homology anymore? I’m sure that will come as quite a shock to scientists. If anything, the case for homology has gotten much, much stronger with the advent of sequencing of proteins and DNA. Sequence homology in proteins and DNA provides a virtually irrefutable argument for common ancestry.

Here comes the serious stupid:

Another concept that came from Darwin’s Galapagos adventure was Lamarckism, something Phillips said is “the cornerstone of evolutionary thinking.”

“The concept is, for example, if a giraffe stretches its neck, builds its neck muscles and develops a longer neck, it will pass on that trait to baby giraffes. Their necks are expected to be a little bit longer and stronger because of the practices of the parents,” he said. “Lamarckism is the laughingstock of the scientific community because if I run a marathon and develop strong leg muscles and excellent cardio, does that mean my children will benefit from that? Absolutely not. That’s ridiculous.”

He continued, “We know that now because we understand genetics, and Darwin didn’t have access to genetics.”

For crying out loud. Not only did Lamarckism not “come from” Darwin’s work, Darwinism was largely a rejection of Lamarckism (bear in mind that Lamark was dead before Darwin ever boarded the Beagle, much less published his theory). Darwin did very tentatively suggest the possibility of a related concept (pangenesis) as one mechanism of evolution in plants and protozoa, but it was natural selection working on natural variation that was his dominant proposed mechanism for common ancestry. The neo-Darwinian synthesis, integrating Mendelian genetics with Darwin’s theory of evolution, put the final stake in the heart of Lamarckism.

What is truly bizarre is that Phillips simultaneously claims that Lamarckism is “the cornerstone of evolutionary thinking” and that Lamarckism is “the laughingstock of the scientific community.” It cannot be both, and of course the first statement has not been true for the past 150 years.