Creationism for Dummies

Reading this StopTheACLU page and some of their sister pages has proven to be good fun. One of the pages it links to is AmericanProtest.net, which contains this breathtakingly bad essay by Wayne Boettcher that attempts to debunk evolution. Even by creationist standards, this is really, really bad stuff. He can't even repeat creationist canards accurately. It begins with this amusing statement:

Casting doubt on evolution theory inevitably leads to...accountability. For if Darwin was wrong, we may indeed be held responsible for our actions while on earth, and possibly face judgment for them at the end of it! And that is a scary thought which causes evolution theory proponents to run and hide from this frightful inquiry.

Uh, yeah. Evolution theory proponents like, perhaps, Ken Miller, the devoutly Christian author of Finding Darwin's God? Or perhaps Keith Miller, the devoutly Christian editor of Perspectives on an Evolving Creation? Or my devoutly Christian colleague at Michigan Citizens for Science Howard Van Till, author of Science Held Hostage? Mr. Boettcher is making the very common mistake of equating evolution with atheism, then attacking atheism while thinking he's attacking evolution. Evolution and atheism are not synonymous. There are millions of Christians who accept and advocate evolution, including a sizable number who are professional evolutionary biologists. I work with many of them.


Evolution dogma states that the fossil record proves evolution. But it doesn't. For one thing, the earliest fossils are from the Cambrian period, which has the most fossils. For evolution to be true, we'd start out with fewer and then get more fossils later!

Completely false. The earliest fossils are not from the Cambrian period. In fact, we have fossils that predate the Cambrian by hundreds of millions of years and a wide range of fossils that predate it by tens of millions of years. And the number of fossils has nothing to do with whether evolution occured. Different types of animals fossilize at different rates. Animals with skeletons fossilize far more often than animals without skeletons, and animals with shells or exo-skeletons fossilize far more often than either of them. Animals with exo-skeletons that occupy marine environments fossilize best of all, which is why an extraordinary percentage of all fossils are arthropods and brachiopods.

Scientist don't agree on fossils. Some say dinosaurs are lizards, others that they are birdlike creatures who evolved into birds.

Actually, no. Dinosaurs are reptiles and birds did split off from one particular lineage of dinosaurs. No scientist says that dinosaurs are lizards (though the word itself came from lizards), but lizards are reptiles like dinosaurs are.


A few years ago one dreamy digger announced he found "faint lines" in a fish fossil that "could be finger bones." I had to stare in amazement at the liberal media trumpeting of evolution "science" at work. Those faint fossil lines could be anything! Give me a break!

It's always amusing to hear how creationists explain what scientists do or think. The homology between the bones in lobe-finned fish and amphibian limbs is not based on "faint lines in a fish fossil", it's based on very well preserved fossils - literally hundreds of them - and on the comparative anatomy of modern lobe-finned fish and modern amphibians. For an excellent description of the evidence for the fish-amphibian transition, see this essay by my friend Glenn Morton, another of those devoutly Christian evolution advocates. Here's my favorite part though:

Fake fossils and fossil interpretations are rampant. With no links between species in the fossil record, shady paleontologists and evolution crackpots have gone overboard in their frenetic attempts to hoax the public. From Piltdown Man to "Lucy" missing link hoaxes abound through history. They really want that "human" missing link - bad enough to lie and cheat to get it. Piltdown Man was an out and out fraud. "Lucy" was just some old monkey bones, not even found together. The knee joint was discovered miles away from the skull fragments. That's quite a stretch!

No, it's quite a lie. And all the more amusing that after declaring that hoaxes by "shady scientists" are "rampant" and "abound through history", he manages to come up with two - one of them nearly a century old and not perpetrated by scientists, and the other completely false. Piltdown Man was indeed a hoax, but it was not perpetrated by scientists but by a British collector named Charles Dawson who foisted it on scientists without any specialty in anthropology. From the start, the specimen did not fit with the rest of the evidence and scientists eventually proved that it was a fraud. That was over half a century ago.

The claim that Lucy was "just some old monkey bones" is utter nonsense. No one in their right mind would make such a claim unless they simply didn't care about the truth. Lucy is a 40% complete Australopithicus afarensis specimen that is entirely genuine. The claim that Lucy's knee joint was found miles away from the rest of the skeleton was debunked years ago. The knee joint in question was not Lucy's knee joint, it was an entirely different knee joint that was found a year earlier at an entirely different site. Both discoveries were described in separate journal articles, but a creationist named Tom Willis mistakenly thought that the knee joint found in 1973 was claimed to have belonged to Lucy, found in 1974. he was wrong. Willis' mistake has been repeated by dozens of creationists. When confronted with the proof that Willis has confused two entirely different specimens, most creationists refused to stop using it, which tells you all you need to know about how honestly they deal with evidence. For details, see this article by Jim Lippard.

Jonathan Wells' classic book "Icons of Evolution" points out many other types of hoaxes used to "prove" evolution, including the discredited Miller-Urey Experiment, the faked Pepper Moth Study and even Haeckel's whacked out fraudulent embryo drawings, accepted for many years by naive evolution believers who desperately wanted them to be true. If you haven't read that book I suggest an immediate trip to the library or bookstore.

Wells' book says much more about his own dishonesty in dealing with the evidence than with the honesty of scientists. It has been thoroughly hammered for dozens of inaccuracies by many of the same scientists whose work he misrepresents. For a brief look at the inaccuracies in Well's book, see this section in the TalkOrigins Archive.

The layers of the Earth can be seen in the Grand Canyon but what evolution fanatics won't tell you is that the layers are different in different parts of the world.

LOL. That's just funny. Of course the layers are different in different parts of the world. No scientist - hell, no sane human being with an IQ above room temperature - would pretend otherwise. The world contains lots of different ecosystems and environments; the types of sediments laid down in different parts of the world at different times are many. And in many parts of the world at any given time, there is no deposition at all because of erosion. This is called a straw man, attributing a ridiculous opinion to unnamed people and then labelling them "evolution fanatics". Quite absurd.


The "Geologic Overthrust" theory used to rationalize this is nothing short of bizarre, like most explanations of enormous evolution anomalies.

Sorry, but geologic overthrusts are not used to "rationalize" the undeniable fact that sedimentary strata are different in different parts of the world. In fact, it has nothing at all to do with it.

Sometimes fossil age is determined by which layer they are found in and sometimes the layers age is determined by the fossils found in it!

Ah, another hoary old chestnut from the creationist jokebook. Completely false. Index fossils are used for field identification, but sedimentary layers are dated with radioisotope techniques. Relative dating is a double check on the absolute dating.

The article goes on like this a bit later, along with the requisite nonsense about the scientific "Gestapo" that will destroy anyone who questions evolution. It's just one big list of long discredited arguments cribbed from creationist pamphlets by someone who clearly doesn't have a clue. Which makes it about average.

More like this

tags: Creationism-vs-evolution, fundamentalism, religion, culture wars A friend, Dave, sent me an interesting article that was published several months ago in Science. This insightful and well-written article by Jennifer Couzin is important because it focuses on one scientist's trauma and ensuing…
tags: dinosaurs, Tarbosaurus bataar, paleontology, fossils, Tyrannosaurs rex The newly unveiled fossil skeleton of the juvenile Tarbosaurus bataar in its protective jacket. Discovered in 2006, a near-perfect complete skeleton of a juvenile Tarbosaurus find was made available for public viewing…
Proof of "a threshold species between modern birds and their prehistoric dinosaur relatives" hanging out with Mephistopheles in Flight. Though don't take my use of the word "proof" too sincerely. Archaeopteryx lithographica(Berlin Specimen)[Convergences #33] Eugène Delacroix, Mephistopheles in…
Our intrepid creationist, William Gibbons, is back again. You might remember him from a year ago when I challenged him to explain the evidence from biostratigraphy, a challenge he has still not even attempted to meet. A couple weeks ago, he was back with a long reply of plagiarized and uncredited…

You got the title wrong, it should be "Dummies for Creationism."

I think this guy has a real comprehension problem. The "overthrust" thing has to do with the Lewis Overthrust in some other state, not the Grand Canyon. The strata *are* out of order in the overthrust, and creationists claim that it is *not* an overthrust based on reading the first page of a Government pamphlet. Of course, it is as the pamphlet explains a few pages later.

Keith-
Right. Overthrusting has nothing to do with explaining why there are different strata in different parts of the world. The fact that the world has different ecological zones explains that all on its own. Overthrusting does explain why in a few places we see strata in reversed order. And contrary to the silly claims of creationists, overthrusting is well understood and is not an ad hoc explanation. Overthrusting leaves behind very specific types of evidence and that evidence is found wherever you have inverted strata.
The Lewis Overthrust, as you stated, is a textbook example and the creationists have peddled a lie about that one since the 1960s. Morris and Whitcomb took a completely out of context quote from the Ross and Rezak paper that you mentioned and ignored the fact that the very next sentence details the evidence of overthrusting. This was proven to them decades ago, yet this nonsense still gets repeated. The iron law of creationism: no argument that appears to support creationism ever dies, no matter how thoroughly it is debunked. We're still hearing about moon dust and the Paluxy footprints decades after they were debunked by creationists themselves.

Good post, the creationists are simply a disgrace. But I must admit their thinking is a little more consistent than some of the other names you mentioned.

Take for instance Glen Morton, a man whose writing I appreciate as it debunks creationism and supports science. He makes the same logical fallacies the creationists do but tempers them with reality. The odd thing is he doesn't follow this logic throughout his belief system. I remember reading one of his articles where the science he was studying, and knew was correct, was leading him to egads, atheism. So what did he do? Instead of realizing his belief system may be incorrect he modified it to a different reading.

I have no problem with this BUT he starts from the same point as the creationists, that they have the truth and just need to understand it. Thats the great thing about Christianity and perhap it's greatest strength, it can say and mean virtually anything and does.

Now they don't have to carry their thinking to a logical conclusion, and I don't care, but people like him and Miller end up creating more logical inconsistencies with their accomodation of evolution than the creationists blind rejection of it. Even if they are correct about evolution being factual.

Speaking of Jonathan Wells, I find it quite amusing (and disturbing) that creationists think Darwin can be blamed for the horrors of "social Darwinism" but idolise Wells, who spent a decade denying that HIV causes AIDS and is also a Moonie, for God's sake.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 09 Jun 2005 #permalink

For if Darwin was wrong, we may indeed be held responsible for our actions while on earth...

Last time I checked, we often are held responsible for our actions while on earth. It's not like there's any mystery as to why, but it is pretty mysterious to me what it has to do with evolution.

JimC:

Now [theistic evolutionists like Miller and Morton] don't have to carry their thinking to a logical conclusion, and I don't care, but people like him and Miller end up creating more logical inconsistencies with their accomodation of evolution than the creationists blind rejection of it.

I don't think I agree with this. The main 'inconsistency' with theistic evolutionists is that they believe certain things in the absence of empirical evidence, in fact for things in which empirical evidence is probably unobtainable. I don't see this as a logical inconsistency, rather it is simply a questionable epistemological position. The creationists, on the other hand, believe certain things in spite of evidence, while at the same time generally not rejecting evidence and empiricism altogether. This is far more inconsistent.

JimC wrote:

Take for instance Glen Morton, a man whose writing I appreciate as it debunks creationism and supports science. He makes the same logical fallacies the creationists do but tempers them with reality. The odd thing is he doesn't follow this logic throughout his belief system. I remember reading one of his articles where the science he was studying, and knew was correct, was leading him to egads, atheism. So what did he do? Instead of realizing his belief system may be incorrect he modified it to a different reading.

(Full disclosure: Glenn is a longtime friend) I think you misunderstand the journey that Glenn took. Glenn was raised as a young earth creationist and believed that to be a Christian, one had to believe in a literal interpretation of the bible. But every day he went to work and had to confront the geological evidence that showed that belief was wrong. Unlike what most creationists do, he did not distort the data to fit his beliefs, he changed his beliefs to fit the data. That's what an honest person does. I do not accept the notion that if you "follow the logic" of evolution it necessarily leads one to atheism. That is precisely the mistake that the creationists make in not distinguishing between science and philosophical inferences drawn from science.

Hi Ed,

But thats exactly my point. Thats the strength of Christianity, it can literally be made to say whatever you want it to say. But that by blending evolution and the bible you create more problems than you solve just to maintain a belief system that in most cases was indoctrinated into you from childhood.

In this regard I find the literal creationists more consistent in THEIR belief even thought they are totally wrong and generally clueless. Being consistent in a beleif system doesn't make in enviable.

And one last point, you allowed yourself one logical fallacy:
' I do not accept the notion that if you "follow the logic" of evolution it necessarily leads one to atheism.'

I never said that, many alternatives exist. Agnostism, deism, buddism,and on and on. The point is that creationists are very consistent in understanding the 'Christian' plan of salvation and any inclusion of evolution into said equation makes the use of apologetics necessary that often hardly have the scantest of biblical ideals.

Any doubt about that can be revealed in the otherwise excellent book 'Finding Darwins God' by Miller. Spot on science until he reaches the last chapter where it devolves into a form of weak apologetics even going so far as to say the 'Christian' God blesses the Western world with scientific advances while the 'non Christian' world lanquishes behind. It's laughable. And the IDer's who call such thinking muddled are correcton that 1 item.

Of course the embrace of a secular government and a myriad of other reasons surely had nothing to do with it?

' don't think I agree with this. The main 'inconsistency' with theistic evolutionists is that they believe certain things in the absence of empirical evidence, in fact for things in which empirical evidence is probably unobtainable.'

Correct, I have no problem with that in and of itself. People can and should believe as they wish as long as they harn no one else. And some of what they believe may be unobtainable. I hear this time and time again, but what exactly might that be given enough time and progress?

'I don't see this as a logical inconsistency, rather it is simply a questionable epistemological position.'

I disagree here, but see your point. I think one needs to seperate God belief and evolution from the concept of the Christian God belief and evolution, they are 2 distinct ideas. When one must have a fall and then a salvation you are left with some serious problems theologically with evolution in the equation that the creationists don't have and as mentioned must resort to questionable(weak) apologetics to 'answer'.

Other belief systems accomodate evolution seemlessly. Using another form of apologetics evolution could probably used as an argument for them!

'The creationists, on the other hand, believe certain things in spite of evidence, while at the same time generally not rejecting evidence and empiricism altogether. This is far more inconsistent.'

Well maybe. When it comes to origins I find creationists pretty consistent, wrong but consistent. Overall I find them no more or less theologically consistent than the Miller types.

Just as an example, you could argue that the Miller types reject evidence and empiricism just as selectively in their arguments. Billions of people have lived and died on this planet, pretty good empirical evidence that people who are dead aren't restored to life. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, but wouldn't you agree that it provides empirical evidence about such a belief?

The first block quote had me in stiches. If I understand the poor feller he's saying, "The best argument against Darwin is, you'll go to hell if you believe it's true."

Is there a more un-American statement?

It's not even that, quite. It's: "Darwinists can't cope with the thought of moral responsibility so they concoct a 'science' which means they don't have to." Which, apart from being arrant nonsense, offers a wonderful insight into how the creationist mind works and the central fallacy of ID. They just can't wrap their head around the concept that even if evolutionary theory is wrong, that doesn't mean ID is right. It means that any one of an infinite number of non-evolutionary hypotheses could be right. If they want ID to be taken seriously, they'll have to adduce some positive evidence for it. Until then it's all just hot air.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 09 Jun 2005 #permalink

This Boettcher essay isn't much better.

The left will fight us with ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) lawyers, extremist non-profit groups and lying news articles and opinion pieces. Left wing Senators and Representatives will try to give judges even more power. The judges themselves will fight against freedom by enacting more oppressive laws, taking property, restricting free speech, throwing innocent people in jail and starving more helpless victims. Don't be discouraged! With God's help, America will win! But only if we fight.

This entire idea of 'moral' resposibility according to religion is really an intellectual sham.

I mean most real world choices are not black and white and seeing them as such leaves one confused and guilt ridden over things that are just a part of the life experience. As an example a friend of mine got engaged to a girl who was all wrong for him. He wasata tough spot in life, a little lonely, just going through a tough patch. He's the type who takes committment very seriously.

Well the long and the short of it is he eventually wisedup to the fact that this was not good forhim or her and ended the relationship. She took it better than he did as he broke his word that he would marry her.

But in this case he had made a mistake and knew it and breaking his word prevented more suffering down the line. He is now married to a woman who is for all intents and purposes his 'soul' mate.

The world is not black and white but many shades of grey. We all make mistakes, seeing them all as moral failures according to stone age mentality seems to me to rob humans of the very essense of that which is life.

The purpose of creationists is to amuse me, by saying things like "For one thing, the earliest fossils are from the Cambrian period, which has the most fossils. For evolution to be true, we'd start out with fewer and then get more fossils later!"

We need to encourage these third-rate minds to loudly proclaim ID. What better way to invalidate a movement, than to associate it with stupid and deranged people.

Like that guy with the creationist book featuring dinosaurs attacking Noah's ark. We should be secretly buying him adspace, using our clandestine UN atheist Jew influence to get him on Leno, etc. The more people he gets to, the more people associate creationism with insanity.

Here are some of the FAQ's from Boettcher's main page (http://www.americanprotest.net/faq.php):

Q. Why are your T-shirts not for sale right now?
A. We are considering non profit status, we'll let you know when you can get them again.

Q. What kind of T-Shirts are these?
A. High quality 100 % Cotton Preshrunk.

Yes, it really did require 2 questions to cover the t-shirts, and these the first 2 questions in the FAQ.

Q. Why do you have a circle slash around ACLU? Does that mean you hate them?
A. No, we do not hate anybody. Think about a no smoking sign in a building. There is a circle slash around a cigarette; meaning according to the rules there is no smoking in the area. The people who run the building don't hate the people that smoke. They are simply letting everyone know the rules. It is the same thing with the 10 Commandments and Prayer. It is against the rules (US Constitution, 1st amendment) to prohibit the free exercise of religion; therefore we are simply explaining the rules about prayer and the 10 Commandments.

Q. What about Separation of Church and State? Why don't you look at that part of the US Constitution?
A. Because Separation of Church and State is not in the US Constitution. It was in a letter. Click on David Barton's explanation if you want to know more about how this phrase was twisted around to advance a liberal agenda.

Q. I wore one of your t-shirts and someone asked me a question about it that I don't know the answer to.
A. Write down the question and find out the answer from our links page or by searching the web. Pray about it and let God lead you to the answer. You can always contact us with the question and we give our best answer or reference.

Again with the t-shirts.

Q. Aren't you just trying to make money?
A. Well, we tried but we didn't make any. Now I'm looking into non profit status but will continue to write my weekly column.

Q. Great, do you have any more products I can buy?
A. We have many ideas about protesting products, as soon as we can make them available on the website we will.

Never fear, I'm sure he'll find some way for you to send him your money.

Q. Why do you want to protest liberal agendas? Aren't liberals just nice, groovy people?
A. We believe these agendas are harmful to the USA, to all Americans and even just people in general. Many liberals are just nice, groovy people who are simply misguided. When you protest a liberal agenda you also inform, and hopefully these well meaning liberals will someday understand that there are more effective ways to be nice and help others, like Christian conservatives do all over the world on a constant basis.

Groovy?? Are we back in '67 again?

Q. I think you have a great organization so where can I donate to it?
A. We are working on becoming a non profit organization, in the mean time there are many deserving non profit groups on our links page.

And you can't even give him money yet. Darn it.

I love the way the left has agendas (be it a liberal agenda or a homosexual agenda), while the right just does what it thinks is right.

By Ginger Yellow (not verified) on 10 Jun 2005 #permalink

JimC asked:

People can and should believe as they wish as long as they harn [sic] no one else. And some of what they believe may be unobtainable. I hear this time and time again, but what exactly might that be given enough time and progress?

Well, Jim, the existence of an omnipotent being, for one. Consider, how can you ever prove such a being does exist? Even if a being you think is omnipotent were to submit to testing, you could never be sure that there were no limits to said being's abilities. No matter how impressive the being might be, how do you prove that there isn't a more powerful being that has yet to reveal itself? On the other hand, an omnipotent being could choose to elude any proof of existence or non-existence because the being would be, of course, omnipotent and could change the rules at any time.

In the end, belief in an omnipotent being requires faith and is impervious to proof or disproof.

My understanding from a sermom by our Ministerial intern (a UU church, if you are interested), was that what Christians most dislike/fear about Evolution over Creationism is that, if we evolved to where we are now, then when did we develop a soul? Without a soul, we don't go to Heaven, so goes their thinking.

I found this a very interesting line of thought. Now, turning to a belief system, I believe that we have souls, but I do not believe in Heaven or Hell. Just plain makes no logical sense. Personally, I believe in reincarnation.

But, that is where it gets interesting, as far as I am concerned. If we do have souls, but not every creature on the earth does, when did we develop or get a soul? And a lot more questions can derive just from that line of thought.

And, without a Heaven or Hell, or some sort of life after death, why, what are all the life struggles and adversities about? I guess the fact that life is just naturally difficult is too much for them.

Religion does a much better job of answering the questions in a nice simple way than science does. "Everything is all part of God's grand plan, and we just cannot understand God's ways or God's plans for us".

Thanks for the website, and I have enjoyed reading the posts afterwards.

'And, without a Heaven or Hell, or some sort of life after death, why, what are all the life struggles and adversities about? '

Why do they have to be about anything at all? Other than perhaps survival.

'Well, Jim, the existence of an omnipotent being, for one.'

Ok, I was taking that one for granted, but your correct. Any others?