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Posts Tagged ‘young earth creationism’

This morning, I decided to subject myself to some creationist programming on one of the religious channels that every American gets with a basic TV package. I don’t know why I do this, but I consider learning what creationists do– and do both deceptively and wrongly–a great exercise in understanding my own epistemology.

The most important thing to understand about creationism, whether it is the Kent Hovind, 6,000-year-old earth type or the more sophisticated intelligent design type, is the fundamental exercise is not understanding scientific findings. Instead, it is about protecting the authority of scripture from scientific findings. The Hovind types are about denying science, wile the ID types are more into a sort syncretism between the findings of science and the need to have faith. This same sort of syncretism exists with religious people who accept evolution, too, but the intelligent design types often are a bit more into making sense of scripture and science than the theistic evolutionists.

So whenever you are subjected to creationist or intelligent design pontifications, you need to understand they are much more concerned with defending scripture against scientific findings than creating any kind of parallel scientific hypothesis that could ever compete with those of peer-reviewed science.

This particular creationist segment was concerned about speciation, and it was definitely from the school of thought that a Kent Hovind would appreciate. Because biologists do not have a hard and fast definition of species– a strength of the discipline, if you ask me–creationists are able to play games with what a species is. The piece talked about how they accepted that all the breeds of dog derived from a wolf ancestor, but then it started getting dishonest.

It showed how biologists think of lions and tigers as distinct species, but they can sometimes interbreed. However, unlike mixed breed dogs, the ligers are often sterile. The narrator of the piece didn’t seem to get that this sterility is how we know that lions and tigers are different species, because no scientist alive believes that two animals that produce offspring in which fertility is limited to this degree belong to the same species.

Instead, the narrator skipped over this glaring problem and began to explain that breeds of dog and tigers and lions were obviously derived from the same kind, and the reason why ligers are often sterile is because of a sort of hyped up “evolution” that happened after Noah’s flood.

It is certainly true that dog breeds are far more morphologically variable than lions and tigers are from each other, but dogs have a good reason for this morphological variation. They have some odd characteristics to their genomes that allow them to respond to selection pressures in rather dramatic ways. Thus, dogs vary a lot in terms of their morphology, but they don’t vary as much genetically as lions and tigers do from each other. Molecular evidence points to all extant dogs radiating within the past 15,000 years, and although some experts would put that date a bit further back, it is nowhere near the 4 million years estimated for the most recent common ancestor lions and tigers.

I don’t know how creationists square this problem, except to say that mutation rates are so much higher in some of these “species” than in others. But the mutation rate you’d have to have to match the millions of years of divergence between tiger and lion lineages would not be biologically possible. I image that the genetic load from deleterious mutations would be too much to sustain either lineage.

But that’s not what the creationists in this piece discussed. Instead, they came up with an entire theory called “polyphyletic decent.” The “kinds” of animal that came off the ark diverged into the things resembling species in phylogenetic trees that look a lot like the ones real scientists use to describe evolutionary relationships. However, unlike those phylogenetic trees there is no implication of connection between “kinds.” They are trees growing out of a single stem that diversified.

Evolution is based upon monophyletic decent. That’s why the argument that creationists often make where they posit the absurdity of an organism giving birth to another species is quite ridiculous. All living things evolve out of a particular lineage. Nothing evolves out of it. Humans will always be great apes, which will always be Old World primates, which will always be simiiformes, which will always be haplorhines, which will always be euarchontoglires, which will always be boreoeutherians, which will always be placentalian, which will always be therian mammals.

This is why so many taxonomists work hard to ensure that organisms are classified according to their descent. This descent can be traced through the morphology of the organism as well as its molecular biology.

If the creationists were right about this “polyphyletic descent” hypothesis, then you would be able to find organisms for which one can find no DNA sequences in common with any other. And one has not been found yet.

So creationists have a new thing to play around with. It will never gain acceptance among scientists.

But that is not the point. The point of creationism is to defend scripture’s inerrancy against scientific findings. It is an exercise in defending faith, not in trying to understand that which the rigors of the scientific method has revealed.

And once you understand this difference, it makes total sense why scientists don’t debate creationists. The two disciplines are trying to do entirely different things, which are not equivalent to each other. One is trying to understand the material world using measures and data that verified, while the other is trying to defend supernatural beliefs that can never be verified.

I guess I go by the Bible and say by its fruits, it will be known. The scientific method has produced all the technological advancements that have made modern life what it is. It has increased our knowledge about our place in the world and in the cosmos. Defending scripture against what science has revealed has produced little but adhering the truly faithful to the religion a bit more strongly and made a few charlatans infinitely rich. But it has not advanced us one iota, and in this current epoch, it is holding us back from confronting global problems like climate change and mass extinctions. If you can deny evolution, which is quite obvious, then you have the intellectual skill-set to deny what climate scientists are saying.

We live in an era of tribal realities. What one accepts as true depends upon which tribe one belongs. If you’re a conservative Christian in the United States, you have a different understanding of how the world is than virtually anyone else in the Western World. Part of the reason for this disconnect is that white conservative Christianity is losing the demographics battle in the United States. And in this loss in demographics is this tendency to turn to those ideas and individuals who might restore their former advantage. Belief in fundamentalist Christianity might somehow bring down the divine, which could restore it all with a miracle, and belief in Donald Trump might work out, too, because he will be nasty to all those people who are taking away this demographic advantage.

Time will eventually remove this madness from our society, but while it is there, it will do some damage. And for the climate, we don’t have that much time.

All I can do, then, is use my voice to make some sense to a few more people, and hope, the dismal tide turns sooner rather than later.

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From Potholer54:

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Hovind’s attempt at moving the goalposts has backfired.

NB:  Alaska rabbits are domesticated European rabbits that were developed in Germany!

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1. He admits creationism is a religion.

2. He thinks evolution is a religion that says butterflies turn into horses, which it is not.

3. He think kangaroo fossils have been found in Africa, which they have not.

 

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Thylacoleo carnifex, the "marsupial lion," is just a big cat with a pouch, according to creationists. And I guess Sylvester was right-- the kangaroo is just a giant mouse with a pouch!

One big problem that creationists have is biogeography.

If all animal life on earth is derived from animals that were on the  Noah’s Ark, why is it that the place where it went aground, supposedly Mt. Ararat, Turkey,  isn’t the greatest biodiversity hot spot? This mountain would have been the place where all life would have begun to repopulate the earth, and it is likely that more species would be found near the point of origin than places thousands of miles away– like Brazil, a place Noah never even heard of!

The other big problem is that there are no marsupials in Mesopotamia.  Most marsupials are in Australia, and many are in Central and South America.  And there is one species that is found north of the Rio Grande in North America. If these animals were on the Ark, why didn’t they populate any place outside of Australia or the Americas?

Well, the creationists thought this one through.

Remember, creationists usually claim that Noah didn’t actually have one of every species on the Ark.  That would be too silly. How could Noah have put that many species on a boat?  No. Noah put two of every “kind.”  A kind is deliberately nebulous term, but in an essence, it is not a species. It includes like species, but unlike other taxonomic groupings, like species or genera or order or kingdom, there are no levels of a kind. It can group together whatever species it wants. It is entirely up to the creationist to group species into kinds.

And that’s exactly how they deal with the marsupial problem.

On the site Revolution Against Evolution, an author named Robert Byers groups together the placentals with the marsupials that look like them into the same kind. The marsupial traits are just adaptations that “evolved” after the flood. Remember, creationists often believe in evolution within kinds, but a kind can’t become something else. Byers explains how this works:

Creation theory has an equal and even more plausible explanation for the seeming anomaly marsupial concentration and exclusivity of Australia in the present and past as indicated by the fossil record. In addition, an equal and also more plausible explanation exists for similar animal groupings in the past, shown in the fossil record, who looked similar to present and past creatures elsewhere but said to be unrelated by modern science. This second matter is not so well known by the public and even well-read creationists.

Present evolutionary biology and palaeontology contends that over great lengths of time natural selection brought about same kind of creatures at different times on different parts of the world from totally unrelated non descript rodent like creatures. These include bear, dog, cat, horse, and elephant shaped creatures with no biological relation whatsoever evolved in numerous places around the world from different ancestral tiny creatures. They call it called convergent evolution. This is a great theme in evolutionary biology.

Creationists can confidently present a better argument than before for the suitability of present and past animal distribution based on a model accepting the Biblical flood and its aftermath animal dispersal.

The fossil record shows same shaped creatures in different areas of the world with minor differences. These creatures while shaped like other creatures in the world have minor similarities to each other in each particular area that they live in. And so a bear and cat shaped creature would have a similar ear bone arrangement or foot arrangement in that area. And while evolution will say that the ear or foot arrangement indicates common ancestry, creation theory can on contrary contend these creatures are just bears and cats the same as elsewhere who due to some influence in the area, adapted some minor ear or foot arrangement. All bear and cat creatures descended from the pairs from the Ark.

This all leads to the seeming anomaly of Australia with its exclusive marsupial fauna. Australia is not an aberrant anomaly but rather a revelation of the true story or equation of post flood animal migration and adaptation.

These minor similarities of marsupials and bone structures in the creatures of Australia are irrelevant as to their origin and ancestral relationship. The origin and relationship of these creatures is the same as all creatures similarly shaped elsewhere on the earth now or in the past. Marsupial dogs and cats are the same kinds as regular dogs and cats, and likewise related to dogs and cats (in the fossil record but now extinct) also with minor regional body differences that lived in certain places on earth.

Only the marsupial mole, same as the placental mole elsewhere hints at the common adaptations after the flood.

The marsupial creatures of Australia are the absolute same ones as elsewhere that filled the earth after the flood. The same body type is the evidence of ancestry and not minor matters as reproduction. The present attempt of science to group animals and their relationships by reproduction methods or minor bone structures has been the error of modern evolutionary biology and palaeontology.

To the organized creationist community I make this contribution believing that it is true. Yet also believing a previous problem can be turned into an exciting example to creationists, Christians, and the scientific world how faith in the accuracy of the Bible and study of what data there is can place creation theory in the forefront and eye to eye with the truth of origins with anybody.

Now. This is about as valid as the old Sylvester cartoons in which he encounters a baby kangaroo while out mousing. Sylvester then assumes he’s come across the largest mouse in the world.

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The insanity of this statement really is amazing.

Yes. There are marsupials that look like placentals.  The marsupial moles look like placental golden moles. And the thylacine looked like a species of wild dog, even though it behaved more like a cat and was restricted to hunting much smaller prey than a similar-sized placental wild dog.

But to say that the thylacine was the same kind as the dogs in the order Carnivora totally denudes the concept of kind. Genetic evidence, which another big problem for creationists, clearly shows that placental mammals and marsupials split a very long time ago. The current thinking is that placentals and marsupials diverged 160-180 million years ago. That’s a long time ago.

If we look at the actual evidence, humans are more closely related to dogs than dogs are to thylacines, even if dogs look more like thylacines than humans. Humans are are also more closely related to lions than lions are to the “marsupial lion,” Thylacoleo carnifex.

These statements are well-backed up in genetic studies and in analyses of the fossil record.

So how on earth could this concept of “kind” mean anything? If dogs and thylacines are the same kind,  how on earth could that ever be a useful way of categorizing species?

This might be the most bizarre creationist claim I’ve yet encountered.

Furthermore, marsupial moles looking like golden moles and thylacines looking like dogs are only the two best examples of marsupials resembles placentals.  Koalas really don’t look like bears, and the marsupial lion was very, very different from a big cat. The teeth of the marsupial lion were different from any other mammal living or extinct.

So this is one big croc of fail sauce.

Or something else.

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This is the best one I’ve ever seen.

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Robert Trivers is a Professor of Anthropology and Biological Sciences at Rutgers, who holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, and this is the closest you’ll find to Kent Hovind debating a true, world-class expert in the field. Most won’t waste their time, but I don’t think he’s wasting his time here at all.

Hovind is so full of crap, and his followers are so gullible that they can’t see that this is the big take-down.

This is a big glass of shut-up juice.

“I don’t want to introduce too much science into this revival meeting.”

LOL.

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Modern biological research has also shown another mystery about the platypus. At least it’s a mystery for evolutionists. While the platypus is classified as a mammal, it is genetically as different from all other mammals as mammals are from birds. Nor is the platypus genetically like the bird. This leaves the platypus with absolutely no evolutionary history, almost as if it had simply popped into existence.

Um. No.

Comparative genomics shows Ian Taylor to be rather incorrect in his analysis:

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But this information isn’t easily explained in thirty seconds, and it doesn’t appear on gospel radio stations in the Bible Belt.

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I am going to steal this scenario from Penn & Teller. I would embed the video, but I can’t find it.

Let’s say that two people come across a domestic rabbit.

Both people have had experience with rabbits, so they do know how to determine the correct sex.

The two people decide to make a guess about the sex of the rabbit before checking. They come up with opposite guesses.

One person’s opinion will be absolutely wrong. The other will be entirely correct.

It does not matter if every other person in the world agrees with the person who is wrong. The opinion is still wrong.

Take this scenario and extrapolate it out to other discussions we have.

Not all situations have the nice easily falsifiable characteristics of the above scenario. Political views are good example of a more complex situation. One’s political views are based upon a system of thought, a system of thought that tends to weed out any facts that contradict the system or to rationalize them as deviations from the ideal. Political views are terrible scientific hypotheses and even worse theories. Humans are very hard to study in a truly scientific sense.

But there are situations in which evidence clearly contradicts a widely held view.

Take young earth creationism.

Young earth creationist worldviews are held by 40 percent of Americans.

But there isn’t a single piece of evidence that suggests that creationism, as a scientific theory, explains anything.

In fact, it has many large holes in it, not the least of which is the tons of evidence from a variety of scientific disciplines that clearly show the earth is not 6,000 years old.

Many creationist “scholars” come up with rather interesting information to defend their views, which includes making up facts, misrepresenting science, and misunderstanding what scientific studies actually say.

These distortions are rarely, if ever, corrected, but they are often repeated by different creationists, even if it has been shown that these views are based upon these errors and frauds.

The science that has found evidence for the theory of evolution is quite different. Errors and frauds may have existed, like “Piltdown Man” and “Nebraska Man.” But these frauds and errors have been corrected. I don’t know of a single scientist who uses Piltdown Man as a legitimate scientific finding that can further contribute to the literature.

However, creationists use the global flood for just about everything. Never mind that it such a deluge would rupture the crust of the earth, and never mind that the wide genetic diversity of different species living today is too great for these animals to have descended from just a pair of animals– representing “kind,” not a species– that Noah rescued on the Ark. And then there is the question of why there are no marsupials in Mesopotamia. Why isn’t Turkey– the place where the Ark landed– the main hot spot of biodiversity on the planet?

We are back to the sex of the rabbit situation. Evolution has been backed up a lot of evidence that has been rigorously tested. Young earth creationism holds onto falsified pieces of evidence, even when it is easily demonstrated that this evidence is faulty.

One side explains reality. The other does not.

It does not matter what 40 percent of the US population thinks. They are in error.

They are as much in error as the person who guessed the wrong sex of the rabbit.

That’s why we can’t have equal time or equal consideration for every opinion.

Now, evolution is a little different in that it cannot fully be falsified in the same way the rabbit’s sex was. But it has overwhelming evidence on its side, and more and more of evidence is being revealed every day. The theory of evolution explains facts. Young earth creationism does not.

The unfortunate reality is that it is possible to be wrong in many situtations.

In our postmodernist world, objective reality has been reduced to subjective experience, and whole generations of people have grown up with the false view that all opinions are equal. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. In some cases, such as political beliefs, this is acceptable.

But when we’re dealing with situations in which objective facts can be found and analyzed, it is possible to be wrong.

The unfortunate aspect is we accept this subjective framework for situations in which objective reality can be ascertained, and large sectors of society accept ideas that are simply in error.

With subjectivity, the power is not given to the scientist or the journalist or the investigator. Power is given to the spin doctor who can make things look a certain way.

This is very dangerous for a free society, for those with vested interests will always have the upper hand at shaping perception, even to the point of making perception the official reality.

That puts us far away from the informed populace that could govern ourselves that Jefferson believed we could be.

We have become a society that widely accepts error, simply because we have accepted the falsehood that everyone is equally correct in every situation.

It just isn’t so.

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