God hates flop

Creationists are a special kind of crazy. Their entire fucking belief system centers around gullible acceptance of fanciful stories, and their lack of self-awareness and intellectual reflection means that they view everything else in the world in terms of unquestioning acceptance of imaginary tales. They just aren’t capable of thinking any other way. If they were, they wouldn’t be creationists.  And since they write hoping to influence (i.e. corrupt) young children, their prose is geared towards generating simple-minded mnemonics and catchphrases rather than eloquence or mellifluousness. Hence the title of this recent article from creation.com:

The 3 Rs of Evolution: Rearrange, Remove, Ruin—in other words, no evolution!

The genetic changes observed in living things today could not have turned bacteria into basset hounds—ever

Alliteration nourishes the lazy brain.

Mr. Catchpoole is clearly hoping to add another catchphrase to the creationist repertoire. Maybe “Rearrange, Remove, Ruin” will join other creationist stalwarts like “From Goo through the Zoo to You” and “Were You There?” and “Design Implies a Designer” and other empty bromides that creationists endlessly regurgitate without ever actually thinking about. But probably not.

Anyways, let’s look at what Mr. Crotchpull has to say.

Evolution textbooks cite variation as being something upon which ‘evolution depends’.1 However, when one examines closely the claimed ‘demonstrable examples’ of ‘evolution’, they actually fall into three categories, which we can label here as the ‘3 Rs’.

Spoiler: He doesn’t actually look at any demonstrable examples (in scare quotes or otherwise). In fact, there is no discussion of any recent experimental evidence anywhere in the subsequent article. I’m sure you’re shocked to learn this.

‘R’#1: Rearrange existing genes

Careful examination of many purported instances of ‘evolution in action’ shows that such ‘variation’ actually already exists, conferred by genes that already exist.

In science, careful examination means looking at evidence gathered from experiments or collected from nature. In creationism, careful examination means ignoring distinctions and nuance and creating false dichotomies.

Of course evolution involves variation that is already there. It wouldn’t work the way it does if it didn’t prominently involve pre-existing variation. Natural selection does not create out of nothing. It modifies what already exists. This has been a core principle of the theory ever since fucking Darwin himself proposed it over 150 years ago.

Creationists want us to believe that there’s some kind of XOR relation between pre-existing variation and new variation. But there is nothing of the sort. Evolution involves both pre-existing variation and new variation. Both are essential to the theory.

Here’s a simplified example that shows this, and also how such genetic variety might be misconstrued as ‘evidence of evolution’. The two dogs in the top row of Figure 1 are a male and a female. They each have a gene that codes for short hair (inherited from its mother or father) and a gene that codes for long hair (inherited from the other parent). In combination, this gene pair for fur length results in medium length hair.2

Congratu-fucking-lations, you’ve achieved a less-than-rudimentary understanding of partial dominance. And need I even mention that he’s not referring to any actual dogs that were part of any actual experiment, but rather just to a cartoon drawing that accompanied the article? Keep that in mind.

A casual observer, looking only at the outward appearance, i.e. unaware of what is happening at the genetic level, might think: “There were no long-hair dogs in the parents’ generation. This long hair is a new characteristic—evolution is true!”

You’re operating under the assumption that the casual observer is even dumber than you are. People had noticed this phenomenon long before the theory of evolution came along, and Darwin was well aware of it.

But such a view is incorrect. The only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to rearrange existing genes. There’s simply been a sorting out of pre-existing genetic information. There’s no new information here of the kind needed to have turned pond scum into poodles, Pekingese, pointers and papillons.

But such a view isn’t what evolutionary biologists are talking about. Your make-believe situation with the dogs is utterly fucking irrelevant. Experiments such as Richard Lenski’s long term E. coli experiments have demonstrated again and again organisms evolving new genetic traits which weren’t there before. Unlike your make-believe dogs, they did this with real organisms and used real genetic tests to see what genes were there already and what genes appeared in later generations. Why is it so hard for creationists to understand that reality trumps Magical Pretend Land?

I’ve got actual experimental evidence. You’ve got cartoon dogs. I win.

‘R’#2: Remove genetic information

What about natural selection, adaptation and speciation?

None of these represent the generation of any new microbes-to-mastiff genetic information either. In our ‘hairy dog’ example, if we were to send our new population of dogs, some with short hair, others with medium or long hair, to an icy, very cold location, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see natural selection at work, killing off any dog that didn’t have long hair (Figure 2, Line 1). When the survivors reproduce, the only fur-length genes passed on to the offspring are those that code for long hair (Figure 2, Line 2).

Thus we now have a population of dogs beautifully adapted to its environment. Biologists encountering our ice-bound population of dogs, observing them to be isolated3 from other populations of dogs, could argue that they be given a new species name.

So here we see natural selection, adaptation, and possibly even speciation—but no new genes have been added. In fact, there’s been a loss of genes (the genetic information for short-and medium-length hair has been removed from the population).

We don’t see anything here, because you’ve demonstrated nothing. You’ve taken a completely imaginary scenario and invented arbitrary rules for it. And here’s where you really fuck up…

Note that such examples of natural selection, adaptation and speciation are often portrayed as evidence for evolution, but the only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to remove existing genes. If this population of exclusively long-hair dogs were now forcibly relocated to a steamy tropical island, the population could not ‘adapt’ to the hot climate unless someone re-introduced the short-hair gene to the population again, by ‘back-crossing’ a short-or medium-length hair dog from elsewhere.

You have your imaginary bullshit. I have actual evidence. The precise situation you describe has actually happened in real life, and guess what? The result was exactly the opposite of what you say.

In 1971, lizards were transported to the island Pod Mrcaru from the island Pod Kopiste in the Adriatic Sea. In 2008, the lizards on Pod Mrcaru were examined, and were found to have evolved a number of new traits, the most striking of which was a cecal valve in their stomachs. A whole new valve, in under 40 years! Genetic tests showed that they did not interbreed with any other lizards–they were wholly descended from the Pod Kopiste lizards, even though those lizards do not have a cecal valve (in fact, cecal valves are extremely rare in any species of lizard). This is exactly what the creationists insist cannot happen, and yet it does.

Once again, you have some cartoony shit that you pulled out of your ass. I have actual evidence taken from nature. I win.

This is exactly the sort of thing that our crop and livestock breeders are doing. They are scouring the world for the original genes created during Creation Week4 but which have subsequently been ‘bred out’ (lost) from our domestic varieties/breeds of plants and animals because of breeders artificially selecting certain characteristics, which means other features are de-selected (lost).

This just downright idiotic. Here’s an example. In the picture below, on the right is an ear of corn. On the left is corn’s wild genetic ancestor, which is called teosinte.

499px-Maize-teosinte

There is clearly more going on here than just a few genes being missing. The entire overall structure has been radically altered.

Strike three for your bullshit cartoons and imaginary scenarios.

So how about that third R?

However, there are forms of dog genes today which were not present at Creation but have arisen since. But those have not arisen by any creative process, but by mutations, which are copying mistakes (typos, we might say) as genes are passed from parents to offspring. You would expect such accidental changes to wreck the existing genes, and that’s what happens. For example, the dog pictured in Figure 3 has just such a mutated gene, resulting in ‘floppy ear syndrome’.5

“Wreck”? What the hell does that mean? That’s not a scientific term, and it is never defined in this article. Instead, the buttfuckingly stupid example of floppy ears on dogs is somehow supposed to explain how mutations “wreck” genes.

Dogs with this genetic mutation have weaker cartilage and cannot lift up their ears. So they just hang, floppy before dinner, and sloppy after it—unless their owners are diligent in cleaning them. Such regular attention to ear hygiene is necessary, as dogs with floppy ears are prone to serious ear infections, which can even lead to hearing loss.6 Not that their hearing was especially good anyway. As you might expect, dogs with erect ears are far superior to floppy-eared dogs at detecting prey by sound.7

So fucking what? The dogs that have floppy ears have no need to hunt prey by sound, so they aren’t harmed by this at all. This is like saying that a dolphin is “wrecked” because its limbs aren’t strong enough to walk around on land. When would it ever need to do that?

I can remember reflecting on this when I was an atheist/evolutionist, and wondering how such floppy-eared dogs could have ever evolved and survived in the wild.

You must have been the stupidest atheist in the universe.

I now know that they didn’t.

Yeah, no shit.

Instead this mutation in the genes has arisen since the original “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17–19). The floppy-eared mutation in dogs is but one example of how a post-Fall world is very much “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19–22).

How the fuck did you get from floppy ears to bondage?

And, no, that is not the explanation.  Floppy ears are an example of paedomorphosis, which can result from developmental processes like neoteny or progenesis. This involves alterations to regulatory genes which alter the time or pacing of sexual development and cause juvenile traits to be retained in the adult animal. It’s been the subject of experimental research ever since Dmitri Belyaev was able to recreate how dogs evolved from wolves, except this time using foxes. And he did this 50 years ago.

It’s not “wrecking” the genes. It’s making alterations which, if adaptive, will be preserved by natural selection. In the case of floppy ears, for domestic dogs “adaptive” means “humans like it”, and that’s what we see with dogs.

Why is this so important to consider, in the context of evolutionary claims that no Creator was necessary?

It’s not. Evolutionary biologists already understand floppy ears much better than you ever will, and unlike you, they have actual experimental evidence to back up their claims.

Evolutionary biologists, when pressed with the facts about natural selection, will concede that natural selection by itself can only remove existing genetic information. However, they argue that in tandem with mutations, natural selection would be a creative process.

But the floppy-ear mutation, for one, is a classic example of the widespread degradation of the genome—a downhill process. For microbes-to-man evolution to be true, evolutionists should be able to point to thousands of examples of information-gaining mutations, an uphill process, but they can’t.8 Mutations overwhelmingly ruin genetic information. Therefore evolutionists looking to mutations as being evolution’s ‘engine’ do so in vain.9 Thus they are left with no known mechanism capable of ever turning microbes into mutts—i.e. no way of ‘climbing’ up the supposed evolutionary ‘tree’.

This is why creationist fail. They fundamentally misunderstand the theory they’re arguing against, and end up making stupid arguments like this.

Evolution is not teleological. It has no direction. There is no path. “Good” and “bad” mutations are only good or bad relative to the environment the organism lives in. What’s good in one environment might be bad in another.

For this reason, there’s no such thing as “degradation” of the genome. What counts as a “good” genome depends on what kind of environment we’re talking about. In the wild, floppy ears might not be good. But living with humans, dogs with floppy ears have been successful and bred widely, and from a natural selection point of view that’s all that matters.

Note that while mutations degrade genetic information, sometimes an advantage arising from such degradation can outweigh the disadvantage vis-à-vis survival. While a floppy-eared mutant mutt might not last long in the wild, under human care—i.e. with regular ear cleaning—the equation changes. And what about the key moment when a buyer is looking for the ‘cutest’, friendliest pup in the pet shop window? Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the floppy-eared characteristic is strongly associated with tameness.10,11 Little wonder then, that floppy-eared dogs are so common today.12

Wait, so you acknowledge what I said earlier??? Then in what possible way could you mean “degrade”? Obviously you acknowledge that floppy ears actually benefit dogs in their human environment, so they’re not bad. So they haven’t been degraded or wrecked. Or is it that even in your tiny little creationist head you’ve never bothered to clarify just what the fuck those words are supposed to mean in this context?

Look, you’re conceding the point here. You’re acknowledging that in the right environment, a mutation might provide a survival benefit and, as a result, be preserved by natural selection. You basically just said that the evolutionists are right and natural selection preserves adaptive variations. In just one paragraph you completely undermined whatever garbled, nonsensical point you were trying to make about “degradation”. And yet you go on after this to spike the football and celebrate your victory over evolution, like a team that never looked at the scoreboard and doesn’t realize that they lost the game long ago, and in fact that last touchdown was in their own end zone. It’s just sad, really.

The Three R’s fail spectacularly. They’re supported by no actual experimental or observational evidence. Instead, they stand on only imaginary scenarios which either do not have any real life counterpart or are just childish recreations of rudimentary concepts. They don’t propose anything that evolutionary biologists hadn’t already considered (and often rejected). And in the end they undermine their own point. They boil down to a self-contradictory collection of nonsense founded on imaginary tales with arbitrary rules.

In other words, they are typical of religion.

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More Lies for Kids from AIG

Answers in Genesis just loves lying to children.  Here’s a fascinating article that purports to answer, for children, the question “What is science?” As someone who’s spent the last 12 years or so studying the history and philosophy of science, I can tell you this is no simple question.  In answer to a child’s query, I wouldn’t give them some complicated history of logical positivism or the demarcation problem or the difference between the syntactic and semantic accounts of scientific theories. But I would at least try to give them a description that accurately represents the current views of philosophers and historians and scientists, and that reflects both the potential and the limits of science while stressing the complexity of the overall process and the dangers of judging scientific findings one doesn’t understand.  Can I expect anything like that from AIG? No, of course not. Instead, we get this:

The kind of science that we normally think of as science (called “operational science”) is a wonderful tool that helps researchers discover new vaccines, find new kinds of fish in previously-uncharted waters, build more fuel-efficient cars, chart a course to other planets, and devise new treatments for old diseases.

Science makes you nifty toys and cures you when you have poopy-butt! That’s what the collected knowledge of hundreds of years of human endeavor to understand nature has earned us. New cars and space ships and diarrhea medicine.

“Operational science” is not a term in philosophy of science that I’m familiar with. The invention of new cars and medicines is what’s usually called “applied science” in philosophy of science. But it is sad but true that the shallow “gives us new technology to buy at the mall” view of science is all too common. People see the applications of science without any understanding of the theoretical principles that make that application possible.

With this kind of science, people can uncover fossils or study the composition of rocks.

Science finds things and tells you what they’re made of! Because that’s interesting and shit! But saying anything more than a shallow, simplistic “Here’s that fossil” or “Here’s that rock” is verboten blasphemy, because…

However, operational science has limitations. It can’t, for example, tell us where fish came from, when the rock formed in the first place, or how the bones of the creature came to be fossilized.

So it’s basically useless. A science that just points out the existence of things or describes what they are made of is just glorified stamp collecting. And, by the way, you can’t do important medical sciences like epidemiology without talking about how things (in this case, diseases) originate. So your definition of “operational science” is internally inconsistent. You can’t do medical science with this childish “point at rock and break it open” approach to science.

Operational science deals with the world of today. It involves testing and repeating experiments.

Are these two sentences both supposed to be about the same topic? They’re presented as if they are, and yet they clearly are not. If I had a hypothesis that King Tut had some particular genetic abnormality, and obtained some of his tissues and sequenced his genome, that would certainly be testing, and the experiment would be repeatable. But it’s not about today; it’s about thousands of years ago. And if I were a meteorologist who predicted something about the particular weather patterns happening right now, that would certainly be about today, but it would not be repeatable, since no future day is going to be exactly like today. And if I were an astronomer, I could make a prediction that such-and-such planet will appear in the sky today, but it wouldn’t be an experiment, since I have no way of manipulating or controlling any planet’s path. In fact, there’s quite a bit of legitimate science that doesn’t fit this definition of “operational science”.

“Operational science” doesn’t sound like science at all. Rather, it sounds like a way to enjoy the fruits of science while disparaging the ones who produce them. Kinda like how wealthy Republicans treat the workforce.

Origins science deals with the past.

Again, “origins science” is not a common term in history and philosophy of science. Care to elaborate?

Origins or historical science is used to reconstruct events that have happened in the past, using principles such as causality (for every effect, there must be a cause) and analogy (if this is the way it happens today, then perhaps it happened like this in the past).

Well, “historical science” is a real term, but you defined it poorly. “Causality” is part of all science. Seriously, what aspect of any human endeavor anywhere doesn’t involve causality? ‘What causes what’ is basic to almost any intellectual pursuit. And, again, analogy can play a role in any form of science. If causes and metaphors are all it takes to be origins science, then pretty much everything is origins science, and the term is meaningless.

The important factors in historical science are principles such as vera causae (causes for which you have independent evidence to know that they exist) and consilience of inductions (when multiple independent lines of evidence lead to the same conclusion). The important word in each is “independent”. Scientific facts aren’t discovered in a vacuum. They must be evaluated in terms of what you already know (and don’t know), and that’s crucial for understanding historical sciences like forensic science, geology, archeology, and, yes, evolutionary biology.

But I’m sitting here giving a philosophical evaluation of a dichotomy created solely to keep the god-humpers from having to acknowledge that human knowledge has advanced beyond their silly little book of fairy tales. Observe:

Of course, the best method of reconstruction is to rely on the account of an accurate eyewitness.

Really? So a few thousand years ago, Europe and the middle east were crawling with Centaurs, Minotaurs, Griffins, Satyrs, Trolls, Genies, Frost Giants, Leprechauns, Hydras, Sirens, Nymphs, Faeries, and about seventy bajillion gods and goddesses? Because that’s what the eye witnesses of the time tell us.

Naturalists have no such eyewitness to rely on.

“Naturalists” here means “people who rely on rationale, evidence based explanations”.

However, the Bible provides a written record of an eyewitness to (who was also intimately involved in) history—the Creator God.

So you don’t have any such witness either. And that’s not how parenthetical statements work, by the way.

This eyewitness cannot lie, so His account is completely trustworthy.

The fuck he can’t lie. If he’s even real, then basically his entire creation is one big fat lie. He puts the most distant galaxies 13.7 billion light years away, meaning the universe must be at least 13.7 billion years old or else we couldn’t see them, but then tells us it’s only 6,000 years old? Either the Bible is lying or the universe is lying. But since Jeebus is apparently the perpetrator of both, it’s his fault either way.

We can use this written record as our foundation for understanding the world around us.

We could do the same with the Gilgamesh or the Koran. And it wouldn’t be any more or less stupid.

This will help us to understand why the world is the way it is today and to make sense of where we came from and why we’re here.

There’s some fundamentalist logic for you. Specifically preventing people from pursuing questions like “How did the world get the way it is” is the path to finding the answer.

As you go through the museum, be sure to look for statements which fall under operational science—e.g., “this fossil was found in Montana”—and statements which fall under origins science—e.g., “this fossil is 65 million years old.”

Translation: Focus on easy, childish shit and reject things that require more effort, thought and training.

The philosophy of science that creationists peddle to children is reflective of the kinds of attitudes we see in adults who gullibly buy into this shit. Science, for them, is just a way to point at something, take it apart, and find a way to market it. Any broader understanding of reality is spoon fed to you by someone who claims to have absolute truth that can’t be questioned. And yet, so few people actually bother to notice the obvious fact that science couldn’t possibly have accomplished all it has over the last 400 years if finding things and taking them apart were all it could do. Pretty much all of modern technology relies on theoretical findings about atoms, electricity, germs, genes and physical interactions that can’t be directly observed but still succumb to the scientific method when understood properly. There is no eye witness account of the curvature of space-time, and yet our GPS satellites which rely explicitly on this theory work quite well. There have been tons of murders which nobody witnessed, but the killer was caught anyways due to the power of forensic science.

The creationist numbskulls are asserting two rather contradictory theses: 1.) What isn’t obviously right in front of your face can’t be real truth (thus evolution isn’t true because no one saw all 4 billions years of it), and 2.) You have to take on faith that the ruler of the entire universe inspired this particular book and any science that contradicts it must be wrong. The obvious problem here is that none of us saw God witnessing any of these events. We have to rely on non-witness humans to tell us God saw these events. The importance of eye-witnesses shoots them in the foot–we don’t have eye witness accounts in the Bible. Rather, we have people claiming someone else (god) told them he was an eye witness. And these people don’t provide any evidence whatsoever that they actually communicated with this so-called “god” fellow.

So we have to choose between humans who meticulously gathered gobs and gobs of evidence of evolution, and humans who say a magical being told them the truth. The latter’s argument only sounds convincing when you leave out the part where it’s humans saying that God said such-and-such, without bothering to provide any proof that any actual god said any such thing.  Leave that part in, and obviously the mounds of fossils and DNA and biogeography and comparative morphology and embryology and geology and astrophysics and cladistics and vestigial organs and plate tectonics sounds a lot more convincing than “I’m a human, and I say god wrote this book. So believe it, damn it!”