Saturday, 15 December 2007

Truth For Youth Dissection: The Truth About Evolution

This comic is just full of misinformation and lies, so here comes the rebuttal. This one is more a rebuttal of the misinformation rather than a jokey one, BTW, though if I think of any jokes I'll put them in.
All images copyright 2004 Tim Todd Ministries. - click on "evolution".

"Man evolved from apes" -- okay this isn't true and is a common misconception of evolution. Humans and modern-day apes had a recent(evolutionarily speaking) common ancestor. Think of it like branching from a tree. There was a particular ancestor whose lineage split into 2 parts, one becoming the modern day man and one becoming modern-day apes(although of course this would involve extra divisions between species). I'll get onto the "racist evolutionists" in the next panel.
Okay, evolution does not teach that whites are more evolved than black people. Evolution is effectively the Red Queen phenomena -- it has to keep running to remain in the same place. Good example of this is the "arms race" between a predator and prey: prey gets faster, so does the predators etc with nobody actually "winning". Evolution actually teaches that nothing is "more evolved" than anything else, because evolution is all about adaptation to a particular environment: an amoeba is adapted well to its environment, so is a tiger. Neither is "better" than the other in any objective sense. So even if, say black people are slightly differently adapted then white people(which is of course true because black people need darker skin for the hotter climate) it doesn't mean either is objectively better. And as this kid points out: even if evolution was racist it wouldn't make it untrue.

I must confess that I'm not particularly well versed in the fossil history, but even if these things are hoaxes it 1) wouldn't disprove evolution as there is thousands and thousands of fossils as well as other evidence and 2) if it was a proven hoax it would not be in a museum(not unless for historical interest clearly stated that it was later discovered to be fake).

Since when is Homo erectus an "ordinary man"? It's a completely different species from Homo sapiens.

"Created by mere chance" Natural selection is NOT CHANCE. Mutation is random with respects to the benefits to the organism, but natural selection is actually the opposite of chance: the best organisms surviving to breed while others die is a perfectly ordered, non-random system even though there is no teleology to it. Besides "I can't see how evolution could have created these wonderful flowers" is an argument for personal incredulity. I might say that, well, I can't see how Quantum Mechanics works so it must be invalid. Not an argument.
"Why can't I look at the flowers and see a designer behind them". Short answer: There's no evidence for one. Long answer: any creator complicated enough to design the universe must be far more complicated than the universe is. At some point some sort of Darwinian process must have been in action--otherwise we merely end up asking "who created God?" and thus it extends back into an infinite regress of gods. Thus, the only way to explain complexity is its origin from non-complexity. To postulate God as the origin of the process is to postulate a skyhook--ie an impossible means of suspension.

"They weren't there to see it all" Well, neither were you. This "logic" could be applied to just about anything, for example: "I wasn't there to see the Spanish Inquisition, thus it never happened", "I wasn't there to see the Gunpowder plot unfold so that never happened either."

"Just because a lot of people..." Like fundies!! "Goddidit!" "Homosexuality is an abomination" etc - repeating them over and over again doesn't make them true.

Now he goes on about how much he's studied it, even though he's all "EXPERTS ARE WRONG!!" just above. Hmm...

Carbon dating: Hmm, well I don't really know a lot about this, but 1) there is other dating methods, 2) carbon dating only dates relatively recent phenomena, not in the "millions of years" range to my knowledge.

"Much of which contradicts other evidence" How can evidence "contradict" other evidence?!!

"and theories" well, yes new evidence is supposed to contradict theories, that's one of the ways we make progress in science. Then the theories are either modified or discarded, depending.

"trees crossection" well, earthquakes and other natural disasters mess up the layering.

Look, even if the layers didn't take millions of years to to form, it doesn't mean the earth isn't millions of years old. I'm kind of getting a very non-sequiturish feel out of the top two panels "trees intersected evolutionary layers, thus Noah's flood happened!" Er, no.

"Science isn't the ultimate source of truth! Book written by ignorant goatherders is!"

Yes, science changes when new evidence is given, that's one of the strengths of science: it's not dogmatic. I am aware of some philosophical problems with science, such as the problem of induction, inductivism v falsificationism, etc. Somehow I don't think this guy is intelligent enough to be talking about this here, though.

"not through human argument" Then stop using it.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics makes sense is not an argument against evolution. Yes, as a general trend entropy increases in a closed system but earth is not a closed system, and it is perfectly possible to have a temporal temporary bucking of the second law of thermodynamics trend, so long as entropy is increasing in the universe as a whole closed system.

Is a bacterium more complex than a bicycle? Well, to get a bicycle, you must first must have a bicycle maker, which is far more complicated than a bacterium. Thus in that sense, bicycles are more complicated than bacterium.

They're not teaching creationism in school because there's no evidence for it.

"religious belief of atheism" I'll put it in a way you fundies can understand: Atheism. Is. A. Religion. In. The. Same. Way. Abstinence. Is. A. Sex. Position.
And fundies don't let their preconceptions obscure the evidence?

Okay, counterpoint. I used to believe that gender roles were determined by society and weren't inherently genetic. Then, I read about the evidence for this claim and realised that it wasn't true, because it was not backed up by science. Preconceptions don't mean the evidence can't change your preconceptions.

"exact same evidence, opposite conclusion" Well, it depends on what is meant by "opposite" in this context. And also, one person may be looking at the evidence wrongly though a completely blinkered perspective. Doesn't per se mean all conclusions from the same evidence are valid, and even if there are 2 competing theories that both fit the evidence there are ways to distinguish between them and decide which one is more likely to be true until new evidence comes in eg "Which theory is less ad hoc?"

"It's hard to be truly objective" Well, okay, that may be true, especially if one holds dogmatically to particular tenets. But that doesn't mean "anything goes". That doesn't mean no rational enquiry.

Last panel is the typical "wow, how do I convert to this wonderful fact-denying fundamentalism" so I won't be dealing with it.

In conclusion, I was not convinced by this tract that evolution is untrue. I mean, as a evolutionist, and thus a racist as described in panel 2, what made them think I'd be convinced by a darkie?

PS. If anyone knows a lot about carbon dating and other ways of measuring the age of the earth, please comment and inform me :).


Anonymous said...

Deconstruction that shit!

Anonymous said...


Sweet One said...

I don't know that much bout carbon dating either, but I do know about fossil history. Australopithicus was never dismissed as "just another apes," except by creationists. It walked upright and was as perfect a transitional form between man and apes as you could ask for. Piltdown Man ("Eoanthopus") was indeed a hoax perpetuated by Charles Dawson in the 19th century. Peking man and Java Man were reclassified as both being Homo Erectus,formerly called Pithacantropus, which was considered human with ape like features. Neanderthal is classified separately as Homo Neanderthalis, and was not a type of Homo Erectus.

Roedy said...

Claiming experts can know nothing of the past is a childish error. That would imply police would have no ability to solve crimes unless they were eye witnesses. Events leave clues to those trained to read them. Science can see light that left its star 12 billion years ago, but is just arriving now.

Creationists have no ability to know anything since they refuse to look at evidence and refuse to learn the techniques of evidence, or even to read about the conclusions of experts.