Saturday, October 16, 2010

Answers in Genesis Explains It All

The hot news on the creationist/ID front (featured on both Evolution News and Views and the AiG website) is that the most Earthlike exoplanet ever discovered may not exist.  Now, obviously, if "Earthlike" can be defined precisely enough, there must be a "most Earthlike exoplanet," but a team of astronomers trying to confirm the existence of a three-times-Earth mass planet in the habitable zone of Gliese 581g has been unable to do so.   From this embarrassment it follows, logically, that "evolutionists" are prone to premature announcements based on dubious and indirect observations that are quickly discredited.  What remains fascinating is the apparent determination of creationists and ID proponents that the Creator/Designer should not have put evidence of His handiwork on any planets but this one.  For open creationists, this makes sense (for some values of "sense"): if the entirety of creation has been cursed for Adam's sin, then it would be unfair (more so, apparently, than merely cursing all Adam's descendants and all life on Earth) to punish extraterrestrials for a sin committed on Earth.  But ID proponents aren't supposed to be creationists or committed to religious doctrines like the Fall and Original Sin.

Answers in Genesis goes on, in this weeks News to Note, to announce that creationists may be receiving help from dead fish, perhaps as science advisors.   Studies of rotting fish have shown that even where soft parts are preserved, some soft parts -- including parts that especially distinguish more advanced species from more primitive members of their clades -- are especially unlikely to be preserved.  From this, AiG confidently infers:
 More importantly, the research suggests that—at least in some biological taxa—there may be a systematic bias making fossils appear more “primitive” than they actually were; and by decreasing the frequency of supposedly primitive fossils, evolutionists have even less of an example of progressive evolution over time.
Apparently, Microraptor and Caudipteryx, if we only had complete specimens, would turn out to be modern bluebirds, and the braincases of the Dmanisi H. erectus specimens probably shrank after death.

Citing research at Emory University, Answers in Genesis marvels at how monarch butterflies lay their eggs preferentially on more toxic species of milkweed when the butterflies are infested with the parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, apparently as a form of chemical warfare against the parasites.  AiG finds it especially intriguing that the mother butterfly does not benefit from this; only the offspring do (with the implicit question of how natural selection could favor behavior that improved only one's chances of leaving behind more copies of one's genes).  The article goes on to remark on God's benevolence and forethought in providing the monarch butterfly with a way to cope with the parasites He cursed it with in the Fall.

And AiG refers to the recent discovery of the prosauropod Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis in Arizona.  Given that this dinosaur doesn't seem to be specialized for a purely vegetarian existence, but may have been an omnivorous scavenger; it has caused some paleontologists to speculate that sauropodomorphs didn't spread through North America because they were better than local herbivores; rather, they spread out and specialized after a niche for large-bodied hervibores was opened by the extinction of earlier dinosaurs.  AiG is surprisingly objective in its recounting, not even mocking the idea that there might have been meat-eaters before the flood (though in the past they've been more open to scavenging than predation in pre-Flood animals); it just notes that this goes to show how much we still have to learn about dinosaurs (that one thing we've learned is that they were around a long time before 4000 BC is, of course, just reliance on human reason rather than on revealed truth).

For their last item, AiG's weekly News to Note, they take on Jerry Coyne's recent article stating that "Science and Religion Aren't Friends."  If you're familiar with Ray Comfort, you're familiar with the litany of criticisms: without God, Coyne has no basis for moral judgments, Coyne can't prove that there is no God (and the burden of proof is apparently on him to do so),  that there's no basis for assuming reason works except a creationist basis (which goes on to argue that since creationism provides the only basis for assuming reason works, we should abandon reason and trust in AiG's interpretation of God's word).

And speaking of abandoning reason, AiG deals with Coyne's claim that a billion-year-old ape fossil would justify abandoning evolutionary theory, by turning around and asking whether, e.g. a living "ape man" would have the same effect.  Given that AiG already includes, on its "list of arguments creationists should not use" page, the "if we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys" argument, I can only assume that while the authors understand that ancestors can continue to exist after descendants arise, they haven't quite figured out that this isn't reciprocal: descendants can't live before their ancestors do.

1 comment:

  1. Nice and interesting blog Steven. You seem to be a prolific writer, and a good thinker. I shall visit often.