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Posted by on Jan 19, 2014 in Evolution, Featured, Science, Science and religion, Skepticism | 4 comments

“There is no association between evolution, science, academics, or the intellect. It does not exist.”

OK, it might take you a while to stop laughing. Now, these days, I don’t really get involved in evolution arguments with people who flatly deny evolution on such blatantly anti-intellectual terms. I see it as self-delusion, and having written before that such people are impervious to reason and evidence, and that showing such actually entrenches their views, I try not to be bothered by such positions. But often fail.

In this case, the commenter was replying to a video I made years ago which was responding to the oft cited claim that evolution is just a theory. Jeez, that one pisses me off. Anyway, these comments from one particular commenter can be found on my You Tube video below:

So, here are a selection of his (or her) comments:

Evolution doesn’t exist and has no facts to support it.  And it is due to absolute 100 percent knowledge that I know it does not exist. It has nothing to do with “not wanting to deal with this or that”  I know this for a fact, no theory involved.  At 1:40 you associated evolution with science.  There is no association. So that is a false argument.  You claim creationists are ignorant of science, yet you never proved nor has anyone that evolution is science.  So to appeal to “science” is simply a ruse.

When I hear evolution is a theory.  I know that I am being lied to.  The notion that “scientific community” is welcome to be debunked by the scientific method is another ruse.  Your whole argument is an appeal to perceived authority fallacy.  No facts are facts.  Falsehoods are falsehoods. That simple

By claiming naivete, you are pretending that evolution is science, and it that it requires high intellect to understand.  That is not true.  There is no reason to bring up what direction trees are facing.  Bacteria reproduce bacteria, so you gave an example of reproduction, that isn;t an example of evolution.  Ok lemurs exist.  That doesn’t prove evolution either.  Evolution makes predictions, affirming the consequent fallacy.   Creation predicts life will reproduce after its own kind.  But creationists don’t make arguments based on affirming the consequent because it is logically fallacious.
To say you need to read, is to pretend that evolution is academic again.  There is no association between evolution, science, academics, or the intellect.  It does not exist.

No its not cognitive dissonce I have absolute knowledge that evolution does not exist.  Not a shred of doubt.  There is no such thing as a phd in evolution because evolution does not exist.  You are merely observing life reproduce after its own kind, then calling reproduction evolution.  There is no such thing as en evolution expert or evolution phd, because it does ot exist.  Evolution is a simple con. Step 1 call evolution science.  Step 2 Logical fallacy proof,Step 3 repeat step 1.

Your trying to associate evolution with real science. You gave examples of one kind of animal reproducing after its own kind.  Animals don’t reproduce exact clones of themselves.  To say that since animals don’t reproduce clones of themselves is evolution is not true.  There are not millions of people who work on it, and it is not true.  Evolution doesn’t exist therefore has nothing to do with academics.  No I did not make that claim.  I simply made the claim that evolution is not science.  The claim that I must make predictions is not true.   A fact is simply true or not true.  Whether or not we can make predictions from the fact is not proper reasoning.  Its affirming the consequent fallacy.
Creation would explain ERV’s by simply stating they exist.  That makes no sense to phrase a question that way.  The term species is used by evolutionists to say that the same kind of animal is a different species.  So then they call speciation evolution.  Just a simple word game trick.  It’s all dependent on who defines the lexicon, the concepts stay the same.
I predict tomorrow that life will reproduce after its own kind, and nature will not create life.  This will be true.
The evolutionist con is to make predictions that have nothing to do with proving life can reproduce other than its own kind, or that nature cause mud to come to life.  This has to be observed.  We actually observe the claims from creation.
That makes no sense your argument of simply listing different things.
What about Boyle’s Law, the quadratic equation, etc simply listing things doesn’t prove anything.
Sexual selection exists because it exists.  All sorts of phenomenon exists.  How does that lend a hand to evolution.  No one is saying that life does not exist.
How does creation explain all those things – they were created, hence creation.
Evolution isn’t science.  People are simply conned in schools to associate evolution with science in their minds.  It doesn’t actually exist. Life reproducing after its own kind is all that has ever happened. It is not possible for some animal, not human to mate with another animals and a human being be reproduced.  This is simple biology.  Its a law of biology.
Poe’s law -logical fallacy appeal to ridicule

With all due respect (I mean that literally, the amount of respect due to such comments is…), it is hard not to ridicule such comments. But then I remember that people are the result of who they are in the situations they find themselves in. Perhaps I need to be more courteous in such situations. Perhaps.

What I usually start off by saying in these scenarios is “Have you read a book on evolution by an evolutionary biologist?” to which the answer is usually not forthcoming, question ignored (as in this case) or is simply “no”. This is the first hurdle. The very people who should know the most about this subject are the ones being ignored by the people who refuse to believe it. And that statement cuts to the heart of the matter. This is not a conclusion (the denial of evolution) arrived at after surveying all the proper information and arguments. This is a conclusion derived from presupposed ideals and does not take into account the vast amounts of data and evidence. It is, indeed, the classic case of post hoc rationalisation, with a heavy dollop of cognitive dissonance in dealing with subsequent argument and data.

Will this post change this person’s mind? No. When someone who has arrived at a position or worldview based on an a-rational or irrational process, and then scrabbles around to post hoc rationalise; and if they have vested personal interest in that position; and if that position threatens them with the worst possible consequence in human conception for not believing and rewards them for the best possible consequence in human conception for believing it, then no, this person is unlikely to change their mind in the face of good, solid, rational evidence. But hey, hope springs eternal and all that.

What next? Well, I will list a few points which I think are deal clenchers, which will all need explaining under creation. I mean explaining. Properly.

    1. Endogenous retroviruses. These viral fossils in the DNA of humans and primates show beyond any statistical doubt that we have common ancestors.
    2. Fossils. Loads of them. If just one fossil was out of place, in the wrong strata, evolution would be in serious doubt. Not one is. All fossils are found where predicted.
    3. Predictiveness. Evolution predicts findings. Biologists have predicted things on evolution and have found them to be true. Creation predicts jack shit. For example, the types of diversity of animals and plants between very old continental islands, continental islands and oceanic islands.
    4. Vestigial organs and atavisms. Parts of the body which no longer have use and that are leftovers of previous evolutionary processes. Humans have appendices, arrector pili, ear wiggling and suchlike. Many are born with coccygeal projections – stumpy tails from our ancestral heritage. These recapitulations of ancestral traits are reexpressions of ancestral functional genes. Whales have vestigial and atavistic pelvises and leg bones. they have leg bones of differing sizes which are unconnected to their skeleton. They have no use at all, no place in any perfect designer’s design book, but are fully explicable when we know whales evolved from land mammals back into the water.
    5. Embryology. Human foetuses start with tails and look like fish embryos. What’s up with that, God? Our blood vessel map and nerve map (as with other animals like the giraffe) show a clear ancestral heritage going all the way back to fish, hence Neil Shubin’s superb book, Your Inner Fish. Darwin saw embryology as the greatest evidence for evolution. If any of you have had babies, that fine downy hair called lanugo is also part of our ancestral heritage and has absolutely no explanation under creation. Evolution explains it just fine.
    6. Bad design. Oh yes, bad design. Evolution gets by. It does all it needs to to get adults to reproductive age, and promotes reproduction itself. A perfect designer? Well… one would imagine they would deign… perfectly? Flatfish, with eyes in stupid places, compared with the better evolved skate. The laryngeal nerve, hinted above, in humans and giraffes is very badly designed. Explicable in terms of evolution from fish. Creation says jack. Male testes (heritage from fish gonads) are explained by evolution. Creation must insist that God really dug whacking our bollocks on the outside. Also, our urethra is a bit troublesome too. Women giving birth through the pelvis – ouch. This had to remain a narrow opening due to human bipedality as evolved from earlier locomotion. The gap between human ovary and fallopian tube is just stoopid.
    7. Biogeography (BG). My favourite. Geographic isolation from the rest of the world or the ecosystem means that natural selection can take hold and mutations can branch out species which have travelled there, or who have been split off from tectonic movement or what have you, to form new species. Creation makes no sense of this – why would God put groups of distinct mammals only on separate islands? Darwin’s finches set off this understanding. Oceanic islands are a perfect example of this. They harbour incredible amounts of unique species. But larger places do this too. Why are marsupials only found in Australasia (also, ancient ancestral marsupial fossils were predicted to be found in Antarctica, and then were, due to tectonic plate movement)? Lemurs in Madagascar, but nowhere else?
    8. BG II. Why are there connected species in particular areas which are thousands of miles apart? Of course, this is predicted by evolution together with tectonic movement. Species of flora and fauna found in Eastern South America are connected to those found in Western Africa. Creation can say nothing about this.Geographic ranges of fossils
    9. BG III. A certain fossilised tree species, Glossopteris, exists in distinct locations, pushed down by glacial ice movement. Such movement always pushes trees forward in the movement of the ices, and this is always towards the sea. But there are some places around the world where this species is seen pushed towards the centre of the continent. Hang on! This makes no sense! Unless, of course, we see the tectonic plate movements from ancient Gondwana which shows directions to the coast now flipped inland. That’s science; it works, bitches.
    10. BG IV. Quote from Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True: “And, starting about forty years ago, we have accumulated information from DNA and protein sequences that tell us not only the evolutionary relationship between species, but also the approximate times when they diverged from common ancestors. Evolutionary theory predicts, and data support, the notion that species diverge from their common ancestors, their DNA sequences change in roughly a straight-line fashion with time. We can use this “molecular clock,” calibrated with fossil ancestors of living species, to estimate the divergence times of species that have poor fossil records. Using the molecular clock, we can match the evolutionary relationship between species with the known movement of the continents, as well as the movements of glaciers and the formation of genuine land bridges such as the Isthmus of Panama. This tells us whether the origin of species are concurrent with the origin of new continents and habitats.” Creation doesn’t even come close to having this explanatory power.

      The direction of the glacial scratches and the falling of the glossopteris trees fits with plate tectonics and biogeography.

      The direction of the glacial scratches and the falling of the glossopteris trees fits with plate tectonics and biogeography.

    11. BG V. Why would convergent evolutionary species only exist in particular habitats when they could simply exist in others, too? This shows three aspects of evolution: common ancestry, speciation and natural selection. If God created all animals, then what the heck would he be doing putting random species which would be adept at living in different places, only in certain habitats? Take Cacti and Euphorbs. These exist in very similar habitats and climates, and yet, they are thousands of miles apart. This is predicted by evolution by natural selection – that species with common ancestors would adapt to similar environments, but not necessarily in exactly the same way. And yet when you transport one to the habitat of the other, it thrives. Convergent evolution is what that is.
    12. BG VI. Oceanic islands again. The types of animals we would find on oceanic islands, as predicted by evolution by natural selection, would be those who could get there by wind, flight or rafts. Not mammals and the like. This is precisely what we find (until man popped along and brought mammals). Think Galapagos etc.
    13. Domestication is evidence of artificial selection, which is just natural selection harnessed by man. All dog varieties come essentially from wolves in only so many thousands of years. We know evolution works coz, like, we done it and all.
    14. Lenski’s experiments. Evolution in the lab creating bacteria with new abilities. Watch the video below.
    15. All of the fossil evidence to support human evolution from a common ancestor with primates.

So on and so forth. On Lenski’s experiments, see this:

http://youtu.be/vUhYGgtwNkE

Anyway, let’s get back to dealing with a few of the points the commenter raised.

“Evolution doesn’t exist and has no facts to support it. “

Mere assertion which is itself empirically false.

“And it is due to absolute 100 percent knowledge that I know it does not exist. It has nothing to do with “not wanting to deal with this or that”  I know this for a fact, no theory involved..”

Interesting epistemological assertion, again. Apparently he has some secret 100% knowledge no one else has access to. Of course, by interesting, I mean ridiculous. Are we talking indubitable, even though from a Cartesian point of view, all we can know 100% is cogito ergo sum? Everything else is probability. So we need to talk about what scientific fact is and how it is defined. On all definitions of scientific fact, evolution is one. It was developed 150 odd years ago, and has been verified every year since then. Even with no idea of a mechanism for heredity, Darwin nailed it. Genetics followed. Nice one, Charlie boy!

” I know that I am being lied to.  The notion that “scientific community” is welcome to be debunked by the scientific method is another ruse.  Your whole argument is an appeal to perceived authority fallacy.  No facts are facts.  Falsehoods are falsehoods. That simple”

This is just utter nonsense. As Andy Schueler would so beautifully say, word salad. Facts appear to be only the things that this commenter claims and adheres to. More later on the absolute stupidity in asserting that the scientific community is somehow in collusion… So one cannot appeal to the scientific fact to show that a scientific theory is valid? Wow! This person is GOOD! (By good, I mean uses unhinged arguments.)

“Creation predicts life will reproduce after its own kind.  But creationists don’t make arguments based on affirming the consequent because it is logically fallacious.”

This just gets better. Do you really want me to list the fallacies creationists use? Better still, watch this:

http://youtu.be/EXMKPvWqgYk

There is a rather circular and invalid aspect to his approach. (S)He asserts that evolution is unacademic and unscientific and when I ask him or her to read something by an evolutionary biologist, the reply is:

“To say you need to read, is to pretend that evolution is academic again. “

Wow, and then the commenter has the sheer audacity to claim:

“Evolution makes predictions, affirming the consequent fallacy.   Creation predicts life will reproduce after its own kind.  But creationists don’t make arguments based on affirming the consequent because it is logically fallacious.”

This is superb. Such amazing hypocrisy. The commenter does not realise that the sheer ad hoc nature of their approach is the best example of affirming the consequent. In fact, they START with the consequent as a presupposition, and then deny any contrary evidence. You literally can’t get any more fallacious than this!

And then, if that nonsense is not enough, check this out:

“Creation would explain ERV’s by simply stating they exist.  That makes no sense to phrase a question that way.  The term species is used by evolutionists to say that the same kind of animal is a different species.  So then they call speciation evolution.  Just a simple word game trick.  It’s all dependent on who defines the lexicon, the concepts stay the same.”

I am actually laughing at this. It is brilliant. To explain something (which is an actual usable piece of knowledge in virology) by claiming that creation merely states it exists is not onlywrong (creationists actually try to deny them in various ways and fail) but also has absolutely no explanatory value. Valid theories, plausible theories, must do (if they are to be preferred) the best job against rival theories to explain the data. As for speciation, we have even seen this taking place (examples can be found here).

The craziness goes on:

“Sexual selection exists because it exists.  All sorts of phenomenon exists.  How does that lend a hand to evolution”

To state something like this shows very clearly two things:

1) this person does not understand the philosophy of science and the creation of hypotheses.

2) this person does not properly understand evolution and what it entails. They really need to read that book… And we are back to “well, these phenomena just exist!” Brilliant, just brilliant. We observe phenomena and they have absolutely no explanation under creation, and yet are perfectly explained, even predicted by, evolution. and they settle for the theory with no explanatory value because an old book implies, under their particular interpretation, that this must be the case.

“Life reproducing after its own kind is all that has ever happened. It is not possible for some animal, not human to mate with another animals and a human being be reproduced. “

Wow. This is priceless. First, I suggest this person reads up on the Problem of Species, nominalism vs realism, and the Sorites Paradox. Of course, there is no delinaeation, truly , between species. We are, in some kind of abstract way, all one species in different transitional forms. However, we can’t all reproduce with each other, and so this allows us to have something more than an arbitrary time-defined method of demarcation. This commenter, however, seems so utterly unaware of such ideas that it is amazing that they can deny evolution, that they can deny something about which they have no grasp whatsoever.

My final point is to show that this person contradicts themselves so tremendously:

“Animals don’t reproduce exact clones of themselves.  To say that since animals don’t reproduce clones of themselves is evolution is not true.”

 Wowsers. This is again brilliant. OK, so this person accepts that animals do not produce exact clones. that’s a start. Of course, if you then factor in millions of years and multitudinous generations, we are starting to get somewhere like evolution. So perhaps this person doesn’t deny evolution (he can’t, we can see it in the lab, for real, in front of our eyes), perhaps it’s just time and tectonics…

The problem for such denialists is that they end up having to deny all sorts of other scientific disciplines and findings just to be able to ad hoc rationalise such denial. Carbon dating, radiometric dating, geology, genetics, biogeography, virology, anthropology, paleontology, archaeology etc; and, if a young earth is claimed, then cosmology and physics. Denialists jump through, no, thrust themselves headlong into massive ad hoc, Ockham’s Razor contesting, hoops of contrivance.

I remember listening to a Reasonable Doubts podcast where they were talking about the onerous idea of bothering to deal with such claims, claims which they saw as so banal and unwarranting of answer since they were so obviously problematic and false as to be a waste of intellectual effort. But then, they all started off believing in similar ways and that so many people are engaged in this battle, and are starting off their journey in a similar way that these efforts are not wasted and are not in vain. Well, I  hope the effort of putting this together is not in vain; that someone, somewhere might have their doubts piqued, and may deign to research further these fascinating scientific findings.

My last point is this. Millions of people, if not more, both work in and rely on these findings. I said this to the commenter and (s)he misread me to say that millions of people work in evolutionary disciplines. I did not mean that. I mean there are people who work in and benefit from our knowledge and understanding of evolution and all of the disciplines associated with it. This may be genetics, virology, immunology, geology or what have you. That the planet has been around this long with its plates slowly moving means that we need to properly understand those movements to properly work towards mitigating their effects. That so many people go to work each day in disciplines which either rely directly or indirectly on evolution being true, and that thousands and thousands people go to work directly in the field of evolution and its research, tirelessly logging data and doing field research, aggregating other research, synthesising conclusions and findings, is staggering in its scope. That someone can flatly deny these findings and hypotheses; that they can accuse these people of concocting a lie; that they can claim that all of those decades of meticulous research amounts to nothing but such a lie… is not only wrong, but is tantamount to a massive insult. It’s bloody rude. It is an insult not only to intelligence itself, but to the good and thorough work of these people and these disciplines. If this person ever needs gene therapy to treat their genetic blindness, upon which such work relies on application of work derived from evolutionary theory and understanding, then perhaps the scientists should deny such therapy to them.

It’s rather like a doctor or surgeon and their team who tirelessly work for days in saving a poor child’s life, using the best known scientific methods, expertise and understanding, only for the parents to turn around to the team and claim, “It’s a miracle! God has answered our prayers and saved our child’s life!”

Ah, bugger off. That’s thousands of hours of scientific learning and practice, built upon hundreds of years of application of the scientific method and building up of the body of knowledge synthesised by countless numbers of the finest human minds for the better of humanity, coming together through hard work and application, to save that life.

Yeah, that’s science. It ain’t no frigging miracle. It’s hard damned work.

Appealing to a two thousand year-old book written by unknown people in unknown places in unknown times for particular agendas to provide explanation for natural phenomena is easy (though intellectually very difficult and contrived). Anyone can bury their head in the sand.

Going out and doing the field studies and data collection which drive scientific work and understanding and theorising; writing the papers; getting peer-review; learning the scientific theories and knowledge; working on designing, carrying out, recording, and relaying results from experiments; and so on – now that’s hard. But it’s worth the effort. Properly understanding this effort and knowledge is the respectful thing to do, particularly if you have decided you don’t want to believe it in the first place. You know, just because some people in your church told you to.

  • pboyfloyd

    Here’s a short version of a conversation I had.
    “There’s evidence for dinosaurs on the Angkor Wat!”
    “Really? Then you think Sphinxes are real?”
    “No, but that’s religious, just temple stuff, hah, you dummy!”
    “What’s Angkor Wat, if it isn’t a temple?”
    “… fuck you!”

  • Seth R. Massine

    Wow…just, wow. I didn’t really laugh so much as sob.

  • Ulises

    Some fossilized questions for a healthy debate, for instance: is there evolution if there is no time? How will evolutionary biology meet new physical paradigms about time, space and so on? Will new conceptual changes deny evolution? Or on the contrary, will it become a more extraordinary process, full of astonishing implications? If so, will past human beings and the rest of living beings become different as science progresses? After all, is life something fix-finite-defined? That is, can one understand it by means of using a brain and its limited words? Does the whole of life fit into a bone box? Indeed, will science add indefinitely without understanding completely? Anyway, is it possible to understand something completely? Along these lines, there is a different book, a preview in goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another suggestion, in order to freethink for a while

    • Daydreamer1

      ‘is there evolution if there is no time?’

      Good question, but equally reversible. Since enough evidence has been gathered across multiple disciplines to say that evolution did occur then does that mean that physics models that would not allow evolution as we find it must be incorrect? After all, it is quite possible to create physics models of universes that do not include stars or planets, but since ours does they cannot be ‘right’ in the sense of describing our universe. If a physics model makes predictions that are refuted by observational measurement then the historical trend, and the agreed upon action by physicists, is to disregard the physics, not disregard reality.

      Often these new ‘physics paradigms’, as you call them, are actually theoretic physics, and it can be worth remembering the ‘theoretical’ bit. If the model doesn’t produce the universe we observe, from stars, planets, and yes, evolution, then the model is wrong.

      ‘Will new conceptual changes deny evolution’

      How can they? Can new conceptual changes deny planets and moons? Planets and moons are observed and measurable. Evolution is too. Again, the conceptual change would have to be fundamental. Even if this turned out to be a matrix type reality and we are all brains in vats it wouldn’t stop evolution being true, it would just be true within the matrix. In exactly the same way, even if we are trans-dimenional energy beings from the dimension of Heaven symbiotically bonded to complex, self replicating, matter evolution is still observed by us.

      ‘If so, will past human beings and the rest of living beings become different as science progresses’

      A chair is a chair. We may one day use it for sitting on, another to stand on and the next in a bar fight as a weapon. However, the chair remains the same – we change. Will past human beings and all living things become different as science changes? They have done in the past as science changed, so it certainly has that power. I guess the answer depends on what degrees of change you would require before you thought we were now looking at things differently. The big shift has been away from just cultural non-scientific claims to looking at what and how we are and going by that instead. If you come from a culture where chairs are only for sitting on and you go to somewhere where people stand on them too, or hit each other with them, then arguably you have changed, but the chair was always the same. Science measures the chair, whereas cultural stories are just spread and change. Therefore arguably by measuring the chair and not just going by stories of it you have become closer to the thing itself. For this reason, being closer to the thing, I think we are less likely to change now than we were when huge changes in our self perception and understanding were possible because we were just believing in stories as if they were true, when they were not.

      ‘After all, is life something fix-finite-defined’

      I am. My arms are my arms and my genome is my genome. as for life out there in the universe I have no idea. There may well be life beyond my wildest dreams – not too hard since dreams and imagination tend to be intimately connected with experience and the senses. That wouldn’t suddenly mean that I had no arms though, or that my genome was different.

      ‘That is, can one understand it by means of using a brain and its limited words’

      We only get where we get. Trying to understand it using your feet and farting noises won’t get you as far. It is all we have and we will no doubt use it to get as far as we can. Will it be enough? Who knows. Is there an end, a bottom, to knowledge? Who knows.

      ‘Does the whole of life fit into a bone box’

      Not all life has a skeleton, no. If you mean, is all life made of matter and energy? Who knows. Right now I’m happy playing with the idea, but also seeing that our only experience of life is what we know. Solvents and chemistry.

      ‘will science add indefinitely without understanding completely’

      It is very good at it so far. Unless you can suggest a reason why it would just suddenly stop because it does not understand everything completely then I would argue yes, it will go on indefinitely under that circumstance. That is not the same thing as hitting a problem so hard we cannot figure it out though. That might happen.

      ‘Anyway, is it possible to understand something completely’

      You can measure something to the limits of your equipment and design theories to explain your measurements. That is all we have got, I think. Yep, not having infinite knowledge is frustrating, but I don’t let that fool me into thinking other people have better ways of ‘knowing’ things if they have to redefine knowledge to get their stuff to fit into it. Its a great tactic – if your idea doesn’t fit in a box (and the box happens to be what we see all around us) then move the box. People seem to see through it all the time, unless the idea gives them a serotonin and dopamine release. An example of that might be if you measured a chair and told me it was a chair and I said my intuition said it was a turtle. Your measurement should win out, if we are being rational. If not, well, then my turtle wins :)