Archive for the ‘YoungEarthCreationism’ Category

In this clip, Michael Ruse says that Creationism/Evolution is really just one piece of the larger culture war – the fight over society’s views of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, although I do think the culture war is certainly a part of the Creationism/Evolution “debate”. And, Creationists often like to argue from consequences (e.g. if everyone believes in evolution, then they’ll behave like Nazis; they won’t believe in God or morality; etc).

Hearing him reminded me of stuff in Ken Ham’s book “Evolution: The Lie” (1987). Ken Ham is the president of Answers In Genesis, the major young-earth creationist group in the world. If you want to get a feel for how popular these guys are, I recommend comparing their alexa stats against, say, Panda’s Thumb, Discovery Institute, and Uncommon Descent:


It’s amazing the level of stupidity they get away with while still managing to stay relevant and popular. (Personally, I think this says something about humanity’s willingness to accept any stupid argument as long as it promotes and supports their pre-existing beliefs, which is rather sad.)

Here’s some of Ken Ham’s wonderful arguments against evolution. You’d think I was making this stuff up, but I’m not.

First, the front and back of the book. Note the implication here: Evolution is the lie in the same way that eating the apple in the garden of Eden was a lie given to us by Satan.


Most of the book is written text, but it’s punctuated with cartoons illustrating his ideas. I’m going to stick to the cartoons – they’ll give you a pretty quick understanding of what his arguments are, and they are heavy on the “cultural consequences”. Maybe you can play a game called “spot that logical fallacy” at home.

Chapter 1 – Christianity is Under Attack


Chapter 2 – Evolution is Religion


Chapter 3 – Creationism is Religion

Ooh – look at all the badies up there on the stage. They’ve banned one religion (Christianity) and replaced it with another religion in the schools.

Chapter 4 – The Root of the Problem


Chapter 5 – Crumbling Foundations

Argument: If a literal interpretation of Genesis is undermined, then Christianity is undermined.

And if Christianity is undermined, then all kinds of bad things – like homosexuality – are okay. Uh oh. Remember homophobes: you won’t be able to condemn homosexuality unless you stick with Creationism. (Does this smell like the culture war, yet?)

This comic actually reminds me of my friend Chris. When he came out as gay, his dad tried to argue that homosexuality is wrong – using the Bible to back him up. My friend wasn’t very impressed – since his dad never went to church with the rest of the family. But, the Bible suddenly turns into “the good book” as soon as you want to condemn something as evil.

Chapter 6 – Genesis Does Matter

Only the Bible literal interpretation of Genesis provides a moral foundation for wearing clothing. Without the Bible, nudists aren’t doing anything wrong.

Chapter 8 – The Evils of Evolution


I thought I’d leave in the text at the bottom – it’s the next section which claims Male Chauvanism is really based on Evolution, and the Bible has nothing to do with it. There are other sections linking Evolution with: Nazism, Racism, Drugs, Abortion, and Social Darwinist Business models. (Hmm, I wonder if the producers of “Expelled” read this book as research for their movie.)

Here’s an excerpt from the section on Drugs:

Many people would not think of evolution as being in any way related to the taking of drugs. However, the following letter of testimony from a man in Western Australia shows clearly this relationship …

My naive belief in evolution had three important practical consequences:
1. It strongly encouraged me to look to drugs as an ultimate course of comfort and creativity.

The balloons above the “Evolution” castle read: Euthanasia, Divorce, Homosexuality, Pornography, Abortion, and Racism.


Update: I just discovered that Answers In Genesis lets you read the book on their website. Unfortunately, it seems that they’ve removed the cartoons. Here’s something else to check out: the Amazon page for “The Lie: Evolution”. About 50% of the voters gave it 5 stars. Sit back and marvel at the people writing comments in defense of the book.

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I listen to a lot of podcasts. I was looking around for some new ones when I stumbled on some podcasts by How Stuff Works. One of the podcasts tackled the question “Fact or Fiction: Could Noah’s Ark Really Have Happened?” Curious about what they might have to say, I gave it a listen. They hit on some criticisms I’ve heard before — like if there really was a vapor canopy above the atmosphere, as the Bible suggests, that the increased atmospheric pressure would make human life impossible, and that there doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to enough water on earth to cover all the land.

They talked about the fact that flood myths appear all over the world (suggesting that it might be true), and the possibility that the flood myth was just an exaggerated account of a real flooding. Overall, not a very through discussion about the plausibility of Noah’s Ark.

But, then, right at the end it got weird and non-committal:

Also, as you mentioned, it’s just impossible – atmospherically, meteorologically – for the water to have risen to the point that [it covered the] top of a mountain … [Robert Ballard] went diving at the bottom of the Black Sea to see if he could find any remains [of the Ark], and he didn’t. But, that’s not to say that the Ark didn’t exist, and it was never built. It could be simply that it wouldn’t have sunk into the Black Sea. Perhaps there was a different locale. And, so, really comes down to a question of ‘how much evidence do people really need?’ It sounds like it comes down to question of faith … So, if you want some empirical answer to whether or not the Ark existed, you could simply say, “the wood disintegrated”. Or skeptics could say, “It never really did happen.” But, we know for sure that there was the possibility that the world could have flooded based on the annual rise and fall of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, or there could have been an ice-cap. Whether or not anyone built an Ark to withstand the flood is a question that I think people have to answer on their own.

I see this all the time with popular magazines and television. They present a little bit of information – hopefully, stuff that people haven’t heard before so that they look knowledgeable and informative – and then retreat to a totally bogus non-committal conclusion so that they can please everyone, and not anger the religious people who actually think the flood was a historic event.

First of all, it’s obvious non-sense that the annual flooding of the Tigris and Euphrates or an ice-cap could cause a global flood. Maybe she meant that those things could’ve caused a local flood that was greatly exaggerated, or maybe she was looking for anything that could superficially justify “we know for sure that there was the possibility that the world could have flooded”. Based on the editing of the clip, I had to wonder if management forced them to go back and sound more conciliatory towards global-flood believers. (I can only imagine the kind of hate mail they would receive if they actually said that Noah’s Ark was fiction.)

How do we know that Noah’s Ark didn’t happen?

There are already a bunch of arguments out there about Noah’s Ark that I’m not going to discuss because they’ve already been discussed to death. They include:
– Could a person in 2350 BC build a wooden ship 450 feet long that was sea-worthy? (The only known wooden ship approaching this size was the USS Wyoming. It was 450 feet long, completed in 1909, and the water tended to flex the planks in high seas so water seeped in and had to be pumped out.)
– Could Noah fit all the world’s animals on that boat, including space for food?

Instead, I think the bigger problems for Noah’s Ark are:

(1) The Bible goes into quite a bit of detail about ancestral lineages, and how old people were when they gave birth to the subsequent generation. This allows us to calculate backwards and figure out when the global flood supposedly happened. According to the Bible, the date of the global flood ends up being around 2350 BC. This date is simply not realistic. Ancient civilizations go back earlier than that. Egypt, for example, has a series of dynasties leading back to 3000 BC. (See my post “Creationism versus Archeology”.)

(2) If the 2350 date were correct, then human civilization would’ve had to undergo an extreme population explosion in the millenium following the flood. According to Biblical sources, there would have been millions of Jews leaving Egypt, so assuming a global population of 40 million around that time (~1350 BC), and comparing that to global population estimates later in history (an estimated 200+ million by 0 AD), would require an incredibly high population growth between 2350 BC and 1350 BC (5,000,000 fold increase in 1,000 years), and a much lower population growth after 1350 BC – usually less than 5 fold population growth within any 1,000 year period between 1350 BC and 1800 AD.

(3) The distribution of animals is not what we would expect if there were a global flood killing all life. If all life was limited to the top of a mountain in the Middle East in 2350 B.C., then how to explain the distribution of animals across the world? All the kangaroos on the Ark went to Australia? How did the animals get to the Americas? If they crossed via an ice-bridge in the Bering Strait, then the Americas should be limited to animals that are warm blooded and capable of traveling hundreds of miles across snow. This means no reptiles, no spiders, etc. Yet, the Amazon contains a wide variety of animal biodiversity. And why didn’t American desert animals stay behind in the deserts of the Old World? (See related post: “Creationism versus Animal Biodiversity”)

(4) Genetic evidence shows that human beings are far to genetically diverse to be descended from a single family in 2350 B.C. If Noah’s Ark were true, then all men alive today would’ve gotten their Y-chromosomes from Noah, and all human mitochondrial DNA would come from Noah’s wife and the three daughter-in-laws. Studies of the human Y-Chromosome show that you’d need far more than 4,300 years to accumulate that many mutations. Human beings could not be descended from a single male in 2350 B.C. What the studies show, instead, is that, in order to explain the number of mutations in the human Y-Chromosome, you have to allow for roughly 60,000-90,000 years. Similarly, human mitochondrial DNA requires roughly 160,000 years to accumulate that many mutations — showing that Eve could not have lived 6,000 years ago as the Bible says. (See Carl Zimmer’s article on Y-Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve.)

(5) If the entire human race were repopulated from a single family in the Middle-East in 2350 B.C., then we would expect the highest levels of genetic diversity to be in the Middle East. Populations who moved to Africa, Europe, Australia, etc would carry only a subset of that genetic diversity with them. In reality, the highest levels of human genetic diversity occur in Africa. For example, the Khosian (in South Africa) have some of the most diverse genetics. If the Bible predicted Noah’s Ark landing on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, genetic diversity would at least align with the Biblical story. Unsurprisingly, humans appear to have arisen in the same location as our closest genetic relatives – chimpanzees and gorillas. (See National Geographic’s Genographic Project, which uses genetics to trace the migration paths of humans over the past 200,000 years.)

I suppose young earth creationists could side-step issues two and three by invoking miracles. For example, they can say that God miraculously allows a population explosion, and God miraculously moved animals back to their original locations (after miraculously moving them to the Ark in the first place — afterall, it’s not reasonable to suggest that Noah gathered all the world’s animals). Flood-believers already have to invoke a whole series of miracles (God sending enough rain to cover the earth, God talking to Noah, God removing the excess water from the earth after the flood, etc). Of course, if you add enough divine miracles to your story, nothing is “unreasonable”. However, it would be odd to say the other three can be cleared up by invoking a miracle — it’s not understandable why God would want to do a miracle in those cases (unless he was trying to deliberately obscure that a flood happened).

So genetics and archeology show that Noah’s Ark didn’t happen. Some Christians, Jews, and Muslims might suggest that Noah’s Ark did happen, but it was more than 4,400 years ago (i.e. the Old Testament is wrong about that detail). It still causes problems because you’d have to push back the date tens of thousands of years in order to allow for that level of human genetic diversity.

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PZ Myers’ recent post, which included a creationist mangling whale evolution, reminded me of this series of videos:

Parts 1-3:

The author of these videos has made a lot more. Right now, there are seventeen videos in the series.

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[Via Pharyngula] AnswersInGenesis has been sending out press releases for their new Creationist museum which includes a VNR (video news release) which is essentially a pre-packaged “news segment” with news reporter-esque voice-overs that TV stations can air with little effort. Here’s the clip:

The man in beginning of this video is Ken Ham, and he says:

“You see, we live in a scientific age, an era of history in which science supposedly contradicts the Bible. We are showing people that creationists are real scientists, and that real observational science actually confirms the Bible’s history. And so if its history is true, then the rest of the Bible is true.”

Ignoring the obvious non-sequitur (“if its history is true, then the rest of the Bible is true”), Ken Ham is the same man I quoted a few days ago in “The Platypus is not a Chimera” making this ridiculous comment:

[T]he platypus is a real problem for the evolutionists. You see, they believe animals have evolved into other animals over millions of years. So, the question is: now which animal did the platypus evolve from? It would have to be just about everything. I think that every time an evolutionist looks at the platypus, I believe God must smile. Maybe He created it just for them.

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One of the things evolution rules out is chimeras – animals that are mixes of two or more different animals. Evolution is a theory of descent with modification, and since animals can only mate if they are the same species, it means the offspring will have the genome of its (nearly identical) parents plus a few mutational changes (i.e. the modification). There are plenty of chimeras in mythology though: mermaids, centaurs, minotaur, pegasus, and the greek lion/dragon/goat chimera.

I’ve heard a number of creationists counter this by claiming that the platypus is a chimera – it has hair like a mammal, lays eggs like a reptile, and a bill like a duck.

For example, AnswersInGenesis says:

The platypus is an animal with a bill like a duck, and a beaver-like tail, it has hair like a bear, webbed feet like an otter, claws like a reptile, lays eggs like a turtle, and has spurs like a rooster, and poison like a snake. You can see why scientists first thought it was a fraud. But, the platypus is a real problem for the evolutionists. You see, they believe animals have evolved into other animals over millions of years. So, the question is: now which animal did the platypus evolve from? It would have to be just about everything. I think that every time an evolutionist looks at the platypus, I believe God must smile. Maybe He created it just for them. (Link)

Or here:

Monotremes are a scientific puzzle if you are an evolutionist. They are clearly mammals because they have milk glands, hair, a large brain, and a complete diaphragm. Yet they also resemble reptiles and birds in that they lay eggs, their blood temperature is influenced to some extent by their surroundings (as is reptiles’), and the platypus’s bill is like a duck’s. (Link)

Kent Hovind also makes the platypus argument here.

(1) The platypus’ bill is not like a duck’s bill. It “resembles a duck’s bill but is actually an elongated snout covered with soft, moist, leathery skin and sensitive nerve endings.” (Link) Further, the platypus bill is covered with electroreceptors, enabling them to detect prey hidden in the mud (something ducks are not known to do).

(2) The platypus has poison spurs, but that doesn’t mean its venom is anything like snake venom. Lots of animals – including spiders, scorpions – have venom, but that doesn’t mean they all gained their venom from a common ancestor. Rather, they all evolved it independently, which is why, biochemically, the platypus venom does not resemble venom in any other animals: “platypus venom is a cocktail of toxins, most of which is a mixture of proteins which resemble no other to date.” (Link) On the other hand, genetic studies of snake venom shows that their venom is just modified versions of an original venom that appeared millions of years ago. (And, interestingly, they share this venom with a few legged reptiles – revealing that venom first evolved while snakes’ ancestors still had legs.)

(3) The Platypus lays eggs, “like a reptile”. Actually, the platypus is part of a family of animals called monotremes. The only other living animals which belong to this group are spiny anteaters. Monotremes existed before placental mammals or marsupials. Those branches of mammals appeared later, and became the dominant mammals. A diagram of their relationship through time would look like this:


Giving birth to live young is something that placentals and marsupials do, but the laying of eggs is something that mammalian ancestors (i.e. reptiles) did. What’s interesting, then, is that monotremes resemble the patterns of earlier, reptilian ancestors. They have retained the traits we would expect of an early mammal. This isn’t the only similarity monotremes have with reptiles:

(4) Monotremes’ urinary, defecatory, and reproductive systems all open into a single duct (the cloaca). This is similar to reptiles, but in placental and marsupial mammals, these ducts have separate openings. (Pharyngula also has an article touching on the monotreme / placental / marsupial reproductive system variations, which also shows the early branching of monotremes from placentals and marsupials – and the monotreme female anatomy resembles the reptilian version.)

(5) Monotremes have their limbs on the sides of their bodies, which is similar to reptiles (think of turtles, alligators, and lizards). Mammals typically have their limbs directly below their bodies.

(6) Monotremes produce milk for their young, but unlike placentals and marsupials, they don’t have nipples. Instead, they simply have patches of skin that produce milk. Again, this resembles what we might expect of an early mammal.

(7) The platypus maintains a lower average body temperature (32’C) than marsupials (35’C) and placentals (38’C). The spiny anteater can even turn off it’s temperature regulation in cold weather. Reptiles are cold-blooded, so their body temperature varies.

So, the platypus seems like a mixture of reptilian and mammalian traits because it branched from the mammalian tree very early, but retained many of the ‘early mammal’ traits. Other features – like the venom, bill, electrolocation, and flat tail were evolved after the branching occurred, and this is backed up by the fact that their physical and genetic structure is very different from similar structures in snakes (venom) and ducks (bill).

Here’s how the diagram might look:

Now, you might be thinking – gee, that looks like the nested hierarchy one would expect from an evolutionary process. You’re right. Not only does it show the gradual accumulation of “mammalian” traits, but it is similar to the tree produced in Talk Origin’s 29 Evidences for Macroevolution. Creationists, like AnswersInGenesis and Kent Hovind get all the facts wrong and play on people’s ignorance by claiming that the platypus is somehow a problem for evolution. It isn’t. It fits with evolutionary theory.

Update: Here’s an article on the evolution of mammary glands.

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theonionwnd.jpgQuite a few people have been commenting on this article from the WND: “Everything that is was created 6,010 years ago TODAY!” (By the way, they just changed the title of the article to much more non-committal “Historian: World was created 6010 years ago”.)

I just think you need to read this article in its proper context.

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