Friday, September 25, 2009

The creationist's guide to Darwin...

Kirk Cameron and company are releasing a new edition of Darwin's Origin of Species, including a new introduction (by Ray Comfort) that's full of non-sequiturs, fallacious arguments, and anecdotes from scientists-turned-Christians*. (And, occasionally, something kinda useful - like descriptions of Darwin's more problematic premises about women and race. Totally eschewing the fact that Darwin was actually quite the anti-racist in his time. And ignoring the fact that the Bible is far more misogynistic and racist than Darwin could have ever hoped to be. But I digress...)

The hits come early and don't stop coming. Take this ill-conceived metaphor for natural selection:

Consider for a moment whether you could ever believe
this publication happened by accident. Here’s the argument:
There was nothing. Then paper appeared, and ink fell from
nowhere onto the flat sheets and shaped itself into perfectly
formed letters of the English alphabet. Initially, the letters
said something like this: “fgsn&k cn1clxc dumbh cckvkduh
vstupidm ncncx.” As you can see, random letters rarely produce
words that make sense. But in time, mindless chance formed
them into the order of meaningful words with spaces between
them. Periods, commas, capitals, italics, quotes, paragraphs,
margins, etc., also came into being in the correct placements.
The sentences then grouped themselves to relate to each other,
giving them coherence. Page numbers fell in sequence at the
right places, and headers, footers, and footnotes appeared from
nowhere on the pages, matching the portions of text to which
they related. The paper trimmed itself and bound itself into
a Bible. The ink for the cover fell from different directions,
being careful not to incorrectly mingle with the other colors,
forming itself into the graphics and title.

First things first - no scientist believes that there was ever "nothing", nor did matter come from "nowhere". And regardless, Darwin doesn't concern himself with the beginnings of the universe, so the relevance of this passage to his book could only be apparent to - and be written by - someone who doesn't understand the book or its theories. Or science, for that matter. "Mindless chance" hits closer to the mark, if "mindless" is meant to mean "without direction from on high". "Chance" a bit pejorative for my taste - insofar as an organisms competition for resources depends on factors beyond its own control, chance plays a big role. But
biology determined whether, say, dinosaurs would be wiped out by an unlucky encounter with an asteroid while alligators would survive, not random chance, which is what "chance" here seems to imply. And that bit about ink "being careful not to incorrectly mingle"? He's mixing up his theories - its creationism that thinks the universe can be correct or incorrect according to some mystical standard, not evolution.

Who proof-reads this crap, anyway? Certainly none of the scientists who granted them testimonials. But anyway...

To liken DNA to a book is a gross understatement.

Actually, it isn't. Because "understatement" implies that the analogy, on some level, works. It doesn't.
To liken DNA to a book is an exercise in absurdity.

After completing the mapping of the chimp genome in 2005,
evolutionists are now hailing the result as “the most dramatic
confirmation yet” that chimps and humans have common
ancestry. Their overwhelming “proof” is the finding that the
genetic difference is 4 percent—which is interesting proof,
because it’s actually twice the amount that they’ve been
claiming for years.

Those sneaky scientists - hypothesizing one thing and then, after years of research and testing, amending their position slightly. Damned flip-floppers, why can't they remain stubborn and unmoving in the face of new and contradictory evidence? You know, just like religion? Well, that's the scientific method for you.

In addition, even if the difference is only 4 percent of
the 3 billion base pairs of DNA in every cell, that represents
120,000,000 entries in the DNA code that are different!

And, oh, about 2.9 billion that are the same -
2.90 billion versus 0.12 billion.

Men and monkeys also have another fundamental
difference: humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes while
chimps have 24, so the DNA isn’t as similar as you’ve been
led to believe.

Who is "you" in this sentence? Someone who knows nothing about science and about how remarkably close, when compared to the rest of nature, this similarity actually is? Maybe someone who is easily fooled by the lack of context that's presented in this introduction? Because it can't be a "you" who knows anything about biology.

But I've wasted enough time. A commentator interlaces some hilarious refutations of Kirk Cameron's video introduction to the book here:

And a brief and hilarious rebuttal to Ray Comfort's video extolling the common-sense linkage of bananas and intelligent design. Except that common-sense ignores their actual origin and spread across the globe - their evolution, if you will - which is part mutation and part cultivation and is explained in more detail at the end of the video:

Scary stuff.

Remember how arguments would be resolved in team games when you were a kid? When there were no adults around, I mean. If someone on your team showed any indecision, much less entertained the thought that the other team was right, it didn't matter that he or she was the only one - a tiny minority - that thought so. Some jerk on the other team would take that as proof that you were wrong - even though the rest of your team was certain you were right.

This guy is that jerk.

(Besides, for every Antony Flew there's a Bart Ehrman. And even Flew, held up as evidence that science can lead a person to God, is a deist who believes in the existence of an unknowable, disinterested original force that he calls God, not the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God.)


runnerfrog said...

Plus, Ray Comfort uses secret geek messages for spreading his intolerance! :-P hehehe.
I laughed very hard in the moment I read this:
" Initially, the letters said something like this: “fgsn&k cn1clxc dumbh cckvkduh vstupidm ncncx.” As you can see, random letters rarely produce words that make sense. "

They make perfect sense!!! Easy hacker slang, slight 1337 code:

"Fags and cunts,"

"can't click."


"Can't click that link, duh."

"They're stupid, man!"

"And can't fuck."

Excuse the bad words. I'm also surprised of how open he left the words stupid and dumb there.

neilshyminsky said...

Seriously? I had no idea. So is this evidence of a subversive copy editor or something?