Really Stupid Creationist Arguments

This post is chock full of them, but several really jumped out at me.

Was the first single cell organism an animal or plant? If it was an animal what did it eat? Animals only eat organic material. If it was a plant, it would have needed to synthesize it’s own food. It would need to bio-originate with a fully functioning photosynthesis capability. Probabability? Zero Point Zero to 20 decimal places.

But for the purpose of exploration, lets just allow that the immaculate bio-origination with a fully functioning photosynthesis actually happened.

No, it isn’t the blazingly obtuse notion that the first single cell life form had to be either a plant or an animal (hint: it would be neither). What gets me is that this guy thinks that a serious criticism of evolutionary theory is his own personal incredulity of the whole thing (evolution). Well, I personally find it a bit odd that a supreme being who oversees billions of stars, a multitude of galaxies…an entire universe, decided to put life on a infinitely small speck of a planet in a completely normal galaxy. That is just way too unlikley.

And note the language, “immaculate bio-origination”. Cute, eh? But what about immaculate conception? That never happens. Ever. How many women (besides the ones cheating on their husbands) have conceived a child with no sex? Answer: Zero. Probability of this happening: “Zero Point Zero to 20 decimal places.”

If you are going to criticize evolution, for crying outloud don’t use an argument that can be used against your own religious beliefs. Basically his complaint is that evolution requires something highly unlikely happens suddenly. Uhhh…excuse me, but isn’t that precisely what happens in the bible’s abiogenesis story? How likely is that? Oh…not likely? Well then, didn’t happen did it.

And as for these kinds of probability arguments don’t use them if you are a creationist. Or if you do think they are persuasive, please never go to Las Vegas. Here is a test: Flip a coin 10,000 times. Or better yet, get 100 friends, family, etc. together and each of you flip that a coin 100 times and record the sequence of heads and tails. What is the probability of getting that exact sequence? How about 210,000. Well that is impossible. But you just did it…but it is impossible…but…you just did it. See how this argument doesn’t work?

Here is another argument that creationists trot out all the time.

Suddenly at some point, a plant mutates and stops consuming carbon dioxide and begins to burn oxigen and feed on plants. Or suddenly a plant gives birth to an animal. I like science fiction, and that one sounds like science fiction to me. A plant giving birth to an animal. What are the odds on that one? Add some more zeroes.

If a plant suddenly “gave birth” to an animal we’d have ironclad evidence that evolution is false. Demanding evidence that would disprove evolutionary theory is…well let us just say it marks you as suffering from severe ignorance. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but this question is so common it is simply astonishing. “I ain’t seen no goat give birth to no fish…evolution is wrong!” Gee, maybe because a goat giving birth to a fish would be evidence of the supernatural? Could that be it? Heck, if I saw that I’d probably say, “Okay, you win God really did make Adam and Eve. Game over. Too bad evolutionary theory and all you biologists, better start looking for new jobs.” Instead, this lack of evidence of the divine is somehow a mark against evolutionary theory.

These are the kinds of “standard arguments” that creationists think are terribly devastating to evolutionary theory. They don’t realize that things like chemistry has rules and certain things aren’t going to happen, or that natural selection is not random, etc. And from this ignorance are born the doppy objections to evolutionary theory.

Oh…and one last piece of advice, no, most mutations are not fatal, most are neutral. Don’t use that one either.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, , , , , , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. floyd says:

    steve ; pretty bad if you can’t win an argument when supplying both sides. at any rate you’re a smart guy and your belief in evolution proves it, right? problem is; creation is fact,whether evolution is or not.BTW the conception of Jesus happened in the same way as life first appeared on earth, faith filled words. now condescension is unbecoming, so stick to your own side of the argument and let the fools on both sides expose themselves.

  2. Roger says:

    Such a little creationist God some believe in. He couldn’t conceivably have created evolution. And what was He thinking when He planted all that scientific evidence for evolution? Didn’t He realize some would be fooled by it and the rest of would look like Luddite fools? He does work in mysterious ways. Yes indeed.

  3. DavidV says:

    Those pro-creationist arguments are less than convincing, but the rebuttal is equally weak.

    If you are going to criticize evolution, for crying outloud don�t use an argument that can be used against your own religious beliefs. Basically his complaint is that evolution requires something highly unlikely happens suddenly. Uhhh�excuse me, but isn�t that precisely what happens in the bible�s abiogenesis story? How likely is that? Oh�not likely? Well then, didn�t happen did it.

    Simple answer. The Christian worldview allows for the supernatural. Within the Christian paradigm, it is perfectly reasonable to have a supernatural virgin birth. You may disagree with the premise, but the Christian’s position is not inherently contradictory.

    However, evolution explicitly denies the involvement of the supernatural. Thus, the evolutionist cannot offer a supernatural explanation for the claimed spontaneous generation of the universe.

  4. Herb says:

    I’m sure that there must be a chart, graph or half baked theory that “Proves” the creationist doctrine.

    The denial of a supreme being will only lead to a world smothered with an “anything goes mentality” that we see so much of in today’s society with the rampant use of mind altering drugs, abortions, and crime in the streets.

    The creationist can take pride in promoting the sick segment side of America and the World.

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    DavidV,

    Simple answer. The Christian worldview allows for the supernatural. Within the Christian paradigm, it is perfectly reasonable to have a supernatural virgin birth. You may disagree with the premise, but the Christianâ??s position is not inherently contradictory.

    Sure, but here is how I’d spin it, that supernatural entity, he did that immaculate bio-origination thingy too. See no problem, no contradiction, no amazingly tiny probability.

    Now David, your position isn’t all that different from theistic evolution. That is God exists and he works via evolutionary theory.

    However, evolution explicitly denies the involvement of the supernatural.

    No, this is incorrect. Evolutionary theory and science explicitly exclude the supernatural, that is weaker than outright denial.

    Thus, the evolutionist cannot offer a supernatural explanation for the claimed spontaneous generation of the universe.

    Only for the reason that the supernatural can be very problematic for science. The supernatural, that allows for an all powerful being, renders all hypotheses equally likely and hence we cannot discriminate between any of them.

    Herb,

    The denial of a supreme being will only lead to a world smothered with an â??anything goes mentalityâ?? that we see so much of in todayâ??s society with the rampant use of mind altering drugs, abortions, and crime in the streets.

    Really? Why? Couldn’t having rules be an evolutionary stable strategy? If that is so, then the above is false.

    Why is the idea of a supernatural entity the only source for “right” and “wrong”?

  6. G A PHILLIPS says:

    What holds the atom together, still no answer?

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    G. A.,

    Strong nuclear force (a.k.a. the strong force).

    No…really. Link.

    So…does this mean God doesn’t exist?

  8. floyd says:

    steve; how does science arrive at right and wrong? or is it merely political? majority decides? or like in america,pajority decides?the limitation with science[done right] is that it can only hope to persue truth, which is only a cousin of right or wrong.

  9. Roger says:

    An individual’s claimed belief in God does not seem to be a very good predictor of understanding right and wrong as demonstrated by this blog.

  10. DavidV says:

    Steve,

    Based on some of your previous posts, I assumed you were advocating “strict” evolution, without a supernatural being, and thus argued against that position. I disagree with theistic evolution on scientific grounds, but I agree it does address most of the logical and philosophical arguments against atheistic evolution.

    Regarding the issue of morality, evolution may establish rules as you argue, but it provides no compelling reason to obey them. Just because “rules [are] an evolutionary stable strategy” does not give me a reason to follow them. Even if you argue it is for the good of humanity, why should I care about humanity? You may say I ought to, but that returns us to “Why?”

  11. Steve says:

    Regarding the issue of morality, evolution may establish rules as you argue, but it provides no compelling reason to obey them.

    I disagree. Following the rules could be a good strategy.

    Just because �rules [are] an evolutionary stable strategy� does not give me a reason to follow them.

    Actually it does. Evolutionary stabel strategies (ESS) are strategies where “mutations” can never come to dominate. That is the mutations will always be losing strategies. See this post of mine at my blog.

    Even if you argue it is for the good of humanity, why should I care about humanity? You may say I ought to, but that returns us to �Why?

    You might also find this post on evolutionary game theory interesting. Playing “by the rules” can have benefits, and not playing by them can have consequences. Imagine a more primative culture where life is closer to “the edge” not playing by the rules might even be fatal (i.e. the rest of the tribe simply kills you as you are more of a liability than an asset).

  12. DavidV says:

    I see what you’re saying, and I found the game theory post interesting. However, I think you are conflating advisability with a moral imperative.

    From the perspective of the individual, it may be in his best interest to obey moral rules (though I continue to find such arguments dubious). However, that still fails to provide an “ought.”

    It may be in X’s evolutionary best interest to reproduce as often as possible, but suppose X decides instead to become a celibate monk / nun. There is no moral imperative one way or the other.

    Similarly, there is no moral obligation for the individual human to obey “rules” if they are simply evolutionary survival strategies.

    Evolution may present a plausible “macro-ought” of survivability, but it cannot produce a “micro-ought” of moral imperative. Wife beating may be a poor long-term evolutionary strategy, but evolution fails to provide the wife-beater with any compelling personal reason to stop.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    I see what youâ??re saying, and I found the game theory post interesting. However, I think you are conflating advisability with a moral imperative.

    Well, if you mean I question the notion of moral absolutes, you’re right. I’m not sure if such absolutes can exist. Maybe they do, but appealing to a supernatural being for whom evidence of his/her/its existence is highly contentious strikes me as no less questionable.

    From the perspective of the individual, it may be in his best interest to obey moral rules (though I continue to find such arguments dubious). However, that still fails to provide an â??ought.â??

    It may be in Xâ??s evolutionary best interest to reproduce as often as possible, but suppose X decides instead to become a celibate monk / nun. There is no moral imperative one way or the other.

    Well, evolutionary best interest happens at the species level, not the level of the individual. Still you’re right that the ought aspect of this is more problematic, but I’m not convinced that religion is the answer either. While it provides the “ought” it strikes me as being somewhat arbitrary.

    Still this is all rather beside the point of whether or not to accept evolution and evolutionary theory. The latter two aren’t philosophical theories about morality, but descriptors of reality. Further, I think the idea of rejecting either based solely on the idea that some people might try to construct a morality based on them is dubious at best as that requires a rejection of reality…a lie. Seems to me that most moral codes find such behavior: basing one’s life on a lie, to be morally reprehensible.

  14. DavidV says:

    Actually, I agree. The lack of moral absolutes within evolution does not itself constitute an argument against evolutionary theory, because it is illogical to argue that a theory is invalid simply because of its results. Gravity is still valid, even if we don’t like falling down.

    I do think evolutionists should honestly concede that their belief system makes moral absolutes problematic, however.

    Regarding moral absolutes from religion, their validity obviously hinges on the validity of the religion itself. Taking Christianity as an example: If it is true, then its statements of moral absolutes are true as well. If not, then they are meaningless. Same with any other religion.

    Thanks for the interesting discussion – I’ve enjoyed it.

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    I do think evolutionists should honestly concede that their belief system makes moral absolutes problematic, however.

    I think Kenneth Miller would argue quite vigorously and persuasively you with that. Of course, he is also a Catholic, which shows the problem with using the term “evolutionist” as a synonym for “atheist”. Just as a bit of advice, in the future you might want to be more cognizant of this.