Pharyngula

Was that fun, or what?

That radio debate was a hoot and a half, but I can’t take credit. All the joy came straight from the mouth and brain of my lovely opponent, who obviously didn’t do a lick of research for either the debate or for his books. I was shocked for a moment when, after I’d mentioned the recent discovery of Indohyus, he went on to claim that there were no intermediates between that deer-like artiodactyl and modern whales … and when I tried to mention Pakicetus, Ambulocetus, Rhodcetus, Basilosaurus, etc., he seemed to have never heard of them, claimed his information came from a Scientific American article some months ago (way to plumb the depths of the scientific literature, Dr Simmons!), and then started making stuff about them not exhibiting dorsoventral flexion in swimming, and not having dorsal blowholes. He wrote a whole book about “Billions of missing links”! His other book, What Darwin Didn’t Know, needs to be retitled in a new edition, What Geoffrey Simmons Doesn’t Know. It will be a very large book.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at his performance, though. I have a secret: I read part of What Darwin Didn’t Know before the show, and knew exactly what kind of creationist I was engaging.

I have to share a few tidbits with you from that hilarious book. It has a chapter titled “Purposeful Design” which purports to list 81 examples of design. He has very low standards. Basically, anything that works is evidence of design.

The mouth, vagina, urethra, and anus are sealed by mucus when not in use and yet can open and close in controlled ways as needs arise.

This is a man who thinks the fact that he isn’t drooling and feces aren’t dribbling down his leg is a miracle from god. After reading his book, I kind of agree.

The book is full of confessions like that.

Menopause: Are women designed not to have babies when they age or are physically less fit, or is it the reverse, that babies shouldn’t be born to women who might not live until their children have grown up? Most women go through menopause around 52 years of age, and they all go through menopause in much the same way. It is clearly programmed. A similar pattern is found in men. As they approach 50, many have lower testosterone levels, lower sperm counts, and less interest in having sex.

What a bizarre argument. So, when the life expectancy was around 30 or 40 (say, in the time of Jesus), shouldn’t women have entered menopause around the age of ten or twenty? And if a designer is setting the timers on women’s fertility for optimum utility, I have a complaint: I want daughters’ fertility switched off until they’re old enough to handle it. Like around 30.

All women don’t go through menopause in the same way. There is an underlying similar cause, but the symptoms and expression of that mechanism is different in everyone.

And, umm, how old is Geoffrey Simmons?

His age might not matter. I don’t think he knows very much about sex. Look at this argument: women’s bodies are perfectly designed to maximize their enjoyment of the missionary position!

Intercourse: Face-to-face intercourse is relatively rare in the animal world, found only among whales, dolphins, dugongs, manatees, beavers, sea otters, centipedes, some crustaceans, a aNew Zealand songbird, and some primates like orangutans and bonobos [and squid. "Relatively rare," huh? -- pzm]

One might ask, how did human males and females evolve to be so perfectly compatible? Pelvic thrusting during intercourse stimulates both individuals and deposits the sperm in the deepest possible spot. Vaginal rugae (folds) stimulate the penis. Every male aspect of intercourse—from the initial excitement set off by visual cues and pheromones, to a good mechanical fit, to stimulation, to the placement of sperm—matches up well with the female’s equivalent interest, her means of being stimulated, the delivery of the egg, and her mechanisms to help the sperm on their voyage. Dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure, is released into the bloodstream in males and females after sex, just as it is released after ingesting a good meal or certain illicit drugs.

Please, somebody, show Dr Simmons where the clitoris is and explain female orgasms to him…for the sake of Mrs Simmons!

After that mercy is taken care of, explain evolution to him. I will note that Dr Simmons is the product of parents who had sufficient interest in sex and sufficiently compatible plumbing that they could generate him, and that they in turn had parents with compatible genitalia, and they came from parents likewise, and on and on back into the past. There was never a point where anyone had two parents who did not have sex with each other, so his observation, from an evolutionary perspective, is completely trivial. Design is unnecessary.

I was really tempted to turn this debate into a sex education discussion, which would have been good for the Christian listeners. Imagine a Christian talk station that patiently explained to the male listeners what a clitoris was … there would be many happy smiling ladies in church.

Comments

  1. #1 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2008

    Sorry if this has been brought up before, I don’t have time to read 192 comments now (and then the 342 on the previous post, and the 79 on the one before… urgh…)

    Face-to-face intercourse is relatively rare in the animal world, found only among

    NOBODY EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITIEEEAAAAAN!!! Among our weapons are such diverse skills as…

  2. #2 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2008

    Around the time the great technological, cultural and artistic leap forward was happening in Europe (think Lascaux cave paintings) something interesting was happening. We began to get grandparents.

    The grandparents hypothesis is nice, but what makes you think grandparents only appeared 30,000 years ago? And why are there grandparents outside of Europe, most notably in Australia?

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 1, 2008

    BTW, Rodhocetus. It’s not a Greek rose, but a place in Pakistan.

  4. #4 Kuba
    May 9, 2008

    Why didnt you correct him when he said “evolution is not a fact”?

  5. #5 Blaine
    May 12, 2008

    Can we redefine the use of “law” as a scientific tag and just start calling it the “law of evolution”… I’m so sick of:

    “Theory of Evolution” > “HA HA! He said theory!!!” > [explain 'theory'] > [silence] “… HA! THEORY!”.

    It’s like a child laughing every time they hear ‘uranus’… he he…anus.

  6. #6 Anonymous
    June 9, 2008

    The disposable soma theory, amongst other things, deals with meno-pauze (it’s about natural selection being in place for genes that endorse early reproduction, plus genes affecting many components; hence genes that help early reproduction can have adverse effects later on in life – after all: the ‘immortal’ does not ‘care’)

  7. #7 Anonymous
    June 9, 2008

    (‘immortal’ of course referring to the ‘immortal gene’)

  8. #8 Donovan
    June 10, 2008

    I would love to see some, just a little, just a smidgen, just a hint of the evidence #394 has apparently immersed him/herself in. I also think it’s great that an associate professor can switch from serious discussions of evolutionary fossil records to jokes about sex and feces. Hell, my best professors can combine the two over beers and wings and enrapture the whole bar in the epiphany of understanding. In case that particular professor is reading this, you still owe me cab fare. Science (and the rest of academia to include us ALB’s) is beautiful in just that way: it’s fun and entertaining while good for humanity and life in general.

    And why was Simons so upset with being called ignorant? I’m ignorant, which is why I’ve shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to universities over the years fighting my ignorance. Ignorance, like theory, is NOT a pejorative term. It is a statement of the amount of acquired knowledge, and we are ALL ignorant to some extent. Simons was either ignorant or lying, I think PZ was overly generous in applying the ignorant label, allowing Simons to say (more appropriate that his actual response) “Yes, I was ignorant about those fossils, and I will have to research that. Let us switch to some other areas of the theory I find unsupported and I hope we can discuss the whales again when I am up to speed.”

  9. #9 imflyboy
    September 16, 2008

    Just listened to the show on my way home tonight. It’s already been said enough, but way to go Dr Myers! This guy was a complete moron. What kind of medicine does this guy practice? If he’s as knowledgeable about his profession as he is about evolution I don’t want him anywhere near my body! I though it was great that when he realized he didn’t have a case he began to complain that you were insulting him. A nice try to distract the audience and the clowns moderating seemed more than ready to defend him. Too bad the folks who tune into that station are too ignorant to comprehend Dr Myers’ argument.