Honesty is really the best policy. If you start with a lie, and then won’t admit it, you are forced to continue lying. In the end you create a web of lies, each dependent on the other. It’s like juggling a whole lot of balls. It requires a lot of effort and is ultimately self-defeating as it’s impossible to keep track of the whole web.
The creationist arguments are just like that. And today its easy for even the most amateur creationist to construct these arguments by copying and pasting from creationist web sites. These sites have done all the quote mining work and provide plenty of material. Even those who are scientifically challenged can put together arguments which appear scientific and authoriatative to others who are similarly challenged. These arguments also work well with people who desperately wish to find evidence for their fundamentalist religious belief.
It’s interesting that people who have no real regard for science, and are actually working hard to discredit modern science, feel the need to ‘use’ science to support their arguments!
However it is hard for creationists to hide from their audience the fact that evolutionary science is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientifically literate. Even amongst society in general only about 20% of New Zealanders refuse to accept evolution. So how do the creationist propagandist overcome this problem? How do they explain to their audience that despite the ‘facts’ they have copied and pasted the people who do understand the science, the people who have studied and researched this whole area, the experts, do actually support evolutionary science?
Well, it’s too late to tell the truth. That would destroy the whole web of lies they have constructed. So they a forced into another lie. And this one is a whopper!
The ‘Expelled’ whopper
This lie claims the experts accept evolutionary science – because it’s a conspiracy!! People are sacked from their jobs if they don’t accept the “lie.” They are ‘bullied’ into silence by the scientific establishment. They are prevented from publishing the truth from their research by the “peer review” system. And so on. It’s all familiar to us now because of that nasty little documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. And it’s coming to a Church basement near you in New Zealand. Any day soon the Christian fundamentalist and Apologetics network will get into action and start screening the newly-released video.
Of course these creationist propagandists see New Zealand Christians as the natural constituency for their propaganda. This constituency is more accepting because the more fundamentalist of them fear that modern science negates their faith. They also inappropriately feel that the harsh reality of natural history somehow has implications for how human society should work.
The fossils lie
“Stephen Jay Gould, professor of Zoology and Geology at Harvard University, conceded this point and so proposed an amendment to evolutionary theory called Punctuated Equilibria to explain away the absence of transitional forms.”
This is a bit out of date (a problem with copy and paste) as Gould died in 2002. However, in 1983 he expressed his resentment at this creationist distortion of his ideas:
“Faced with these facts of evolution and the philosophical bankruptcy of their own position, creationists rely upon distortion and innuendo to buttress their rhetorical claim. If I sound sharp or bitter, indeed I am-for I have become a major target of these practices. . . . . . Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be quoted again and again by creationists-whether through design or stupidity, I do not know-as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms. Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are abundant between larger groups. “
Second law of thermodynamics
As a chemist I feel offended when creationists take a thermodynamic law which applies to a closed system and dishonestly apply it to part of an open system as Thinking Matters does in its claim that evolution violates this law:
“the idea of life springing from non-life butts its head against the rock of the second law of Thermodynamics. It states that the amount of usable energy in the universe is deteriorating.”
Just not true! The earth, where life evolved, is not a closed or isolated system.
Creationists certainly love big numbers – especially when they inappropriately use them to prove evolution ‘improbable.’ Of course, to do this they must set up a straw man – their liem that evolutionary changes result from chance!! They should really spend a few minutes contemplating the title of Richard Dawkins’ book Climbing Mount Improbable. Charles Darwin’s contribution to evolutionary science was about natural selection – not chance.
But creationists seem to have no shame and here is what Thinking Matters has to say:
“The calculations of any reaction taking place to form life is somewhere in the order of one chance in 10 to the power of 40,000.”
“. . . the chances of a single protein containing only 100 amino acids would form spontaneously is less than one chance in 10 to the 65th power.”
“. . . the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell is one in 10 to the 40,000th power.”
” . . . the chance of a single bacteria arising by chance is one in 10 to the hundred-billionth power.”
“The odds they calculated for the assembly of the human gnome (sic) was somewhere around 4 to the -360th power to the 110,000th power — simply an incomprehensible number.”
What a waste of words – and numbers!
The improbability of creation
The irony is that while the small steps in natural selection have a high probability the huge creation step doesn’t. The numbers given by Thinking Matters really should be applied to the acts of special creation required by their ideas. It is them, not evolutionists, who require spontaneous formation from constituent atoms of life, enzymes, bacteria and human genomes. Darwin, in The Origin of Species, ridiculed this idea of creationists by asking:
did they “really believe that at innumerable periods in the earth’s history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissue?”