Jun 19 2014
Creation.com, the authors of “15 questions for ‘evolutionists’ that they have already answered but we are going to continue to ignore those answers,” has recently release a trailer for their new movie where they apparently found 15 PhDs who are willing to embarrass themselves by documenting their scientific illiteracy. The film is “Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels,” and if the trailer is any indication, it is just a repackaging of the same creationist lies that have been exposed for decades.
The trailer starts out with the claim, “Most evolutionists have never critically examined their own position.” That is, if you don’t count the last 150 years of scientific examination, thousands of published peer-reviewed papers, and dozens of popular books carefully (what’s that word?) examining the evidence for evolution. We can add to that now the countless websites and blog posts critically examining every question creationists endlessly raise. Seriously, such a claim is either a bald-faced lie, or evidence of profound intellectual laziness.
The next series of “Achilles’ Heel” shockers is based on a misunderstanding of biology, genetics, and evolution. The voice on the trailer claims that mutation and natural selection “work in the wrong direction,” and so “how does evolution work?”
You can see where they are going with this. In their 15 questions propaganda, #3 states that mutations cannot add specific information, because mutations “degrade” information. Then #4 repeats the canard that natural selection only removes unfit genetics from the population, and does not add anything.
Mutations are known for their destructive effects, including over 1,000 human diseases such as hemophilia. Rarely are they even helpful. But how can scrambling existing DNA information create a new biochemical pathway or nano-machines with many components, to make ‘goo-to-you’ evolution possible?
These statements represent a fundamental misunderstanding of biology and genetics. The notion that mutations degrade the information in DNA, are inherently harmful, or that they “scramble” DNA is all nonsense. It assumes that one configuration of DNA is inherently better than another, or that there is a “correct” sequence for any gene – mutations can only “degrade” this information.
The truth is that the DNA sequence of any organism is already a complicated mess, because it evolved from the bottom up, and was not designed from the top down. Everything is a mutation – mutations are just change, they don’t inherently “degrade.” Most mutations have little or no effect – they don’t change the amino acid sequence, or they change one amino acid to another similar amino acid that has little or no effect on the protein structure or function. When mutations do change the function of a protein, it can be neutral, harmful, beneficial, or have mixed results with some benefits and some detriments. Benefit and harm, however, often need to be viewed in the context of the organism and their current environment and survival strategies.
They actually use the word “devolving” – there’s no such thing. All such change over time is evolution. The concept of “devolving” implies that there is a preferred direction to evolutionary change. There isn’t. Again – all the creationists document is their own ignorance of the science they presume to criticize.
They repeat the fallacy of looking at only a subset of the mechanism for evolution at any one time. They claim that mutations are blind and random, and natural selection only removes information from the gene pool. This is like saying that a car cannot work because the steering wheel cannot propel the car, and the engine cannot steer it.
Mutations demonstrably increase the amount and variety of information in a population’s genome. Natural selection is the non-random survival of those with traits that confer a survival advantage in the current environment. Numerous independent lines of evidence have clearly established these mechanisms for evolution, but creationists continue their endless strategy of denial.
Next we hear that even if every molecule in the universe were an experiment over billions of years it could never form a single protein, let alone all of life. This is the old tornado in a junkyard argument. They just never let go of an argument, no matter how often it is obliterated. This, of course, is a strawman. No scientist argues that a specific complex protein assembled entirely by chance. Proteins evolved – natural selection is a non-random cumulative process.
Also, this is a bit of the lottery fallacy – what’s the chance of this protein arising by chance? The real question is – what is the chance that some protein, any protein, occurred by chance? Since amino acids form spontaneously, and then spontaneously form into polypeptides and proteins, I would say the chance is 100%, given the right conditions.
For some reason they throw in cosmology, the inflationary model of the Big Bang. That is just a transparent god-of-the-gaps type argument. Look, scientists don’t understand everything about the universe, therefore magic. But look how far they have to go, now, to find their gaps. Sure, we haven’t yet sorted out exactly everything that happened and why 13.7 billion years ago during the first nanoseconds of the Big Bang. What do scientists know?
Then, of course, they move onto the fossil record. Their summary of the “big picture” of the fossil record is “sudden appearance” and lack of transitional forms. Wow. I know I have been doing this for a long time, but this one never ceases to amaze me, because it is a direct contradiction of hard facts. The fossils are physical objects that exist, you can go to the museum and see them for yourself.
I have written about this one numerous times before – the big picture of the fossil record is change over time, with species occurring, existing for a while, then disappearing. Moreover, the appearance of new fossil species is not random, but occurs in a pattern that is always consistent with evolution. They are derived from previous ancestors. They occur in a time and place that is compatible with the evolution of life on earth. Scientists have even predicted when and where certain fossils should be found, and then found them. There are countless transitional forms.
They take a swipe at radiometric dating methods, mentioning the few exceptions of radioactive isotopes that have variable decay rates. They don’t mention that these are not the radioisotopes that are used for dating.
The trailer for this “documentary” is a Gish Gallop of tired old creationist claims amounting to blatant deception and science denial. Yet creationists marvel at why they can’t get any respect among scientists and within academia. I suspect it is a combination of motivated reasoning and the Dunning-Kruger effect – they are simply too ignorant of science generally, critical thinking, and biology and evolutionary theory specifically to even assess their own level of ignorance.
In order to maintain their level of ignorance, however, would require a profound level of intellectual laziness and/or sloppiness, and this is where the motivated reasoning comes in.
The answers they seek are out there. If they had genuine intellectual curiosity and honesty, they could easily see for themselves that the pattern of fossils in the fossil record is a home-run for evolution. People have even taken the time to specifically address their claims, point out their logical fallacies, and link to the very evidence they say does not exist.
This is further evidence that creationists are not genuinely engaging with their critics or the scientific community. This lack of engagement is a hallmark of the pseudoscientist or denier.
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