Some mob of creationists out of Minnesota are putting up billboards around various other states challenging evolutionary theory with the slogan “Are They Making a Monkey out of You?”.
Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education -which has as its motto “Defending the Teaching of Evolution in the Public Schools” – also took exception with the Who Is Your Creator campaign.
“Contrary to what the group claims, evolution is a central and unifying principle of the biological sciences, accepted by the scientific community on the basis of overwhelming evidence – for which garish billboards are not a valid substitute,” Branch told Cybercast News Service on Wednesday.
“By the way, the billboard captures the scientific illiteracy of Who Is Your Creator nicely,” he added. “That’s an ape in the last panel, not a monkey.”
The billboard simply lists the group’s website URL (Who Is Your Creator?), which contains the bog-standard listing of refuted claims about what evolutionary theory does and doesn’t claim, and which drops the usual clangers and howlers. I have linked the specific rebuttals from the Index of Creationist Claims to the list on the index page of their site, for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen these particular claims or rebuttals before. Here’s the response to the monkey stuff for starters – [CA640]
FACT, THEORY, OR RELIGION?
The False Foundations for the Faith of Evolution
(Theology [CA610] [CA611] [CA612]
1. The Universe is a Result of an Explosion.
2. The Creation of Life is a Result of Spontaneous Generation.
( Abiogenesis [CB000] [CB010] [CB050])
3. Descent with Modification is UNLIMITED.
4. The Fossil Record Substantiates the Theory of Evolution.
( Fossil Record [CC200] [CC201.1] [CC300])
5. Evolution is Still Occurring Around Us.
6. All Scientists and Professors Believe in Evolution.
( [CA111] [CA111.1] [CA112])
7. Scientists Are Encouraged to Seek the Truth, No Matter Where it May Lead.
( [CA320] Scientific Method)
Young Earth Creationists always include 1 and 2, and accuse evolutionary biologists of equivocating when they respond that they are irrelevant to the theory of evolution. But it’s really quite simple – from the evidence scientists find, life on earth in the distant past was very, very, different from the life that flourishes on the earth today. It is clear that the forms of life on earth have changed over eons of time.
Science seeks to establish how that change has happened. How life began and how the universe began are other very interesting questions, but even if every scientist was personally and irrefutably informed by the Creator tomorrow about when the Creator sparked the universe and life on earth ineffably, the questions about how life on earth has changed over time would still remain.
Their #5 is a classic example of quote mining, too. They ask – “The most serious problem with evolution is why did it stop occurring?” and then answer it with a quote from Charles Darwin.
“Why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion, instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?”
Charles Darwin, British naturalist and author, The Origin of Species, 1859, chapter VI (titled “Difficulties of the Theory’).
Of course, in that very chapter they cite Darwin goes on to answer the exact question that they pretend is an impediment to biological evolutionary theory. They rely on people not going through and reading the long chapter written in formal Victorian English.
The story only gets better when you realise that the source is Cybercast News Service,
Study after study by the Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, clearly demonstrate a liberal bias in many news outlets ““ bias by commission and bias by omission ““ that results in a frequent double-standard in editorial decisions on what constitutes “news.”
In response to these shortcomings, MRC Chairman L. Brent Bozell III founded CNSNews.com in an effort to provide an alternative news source that would cover stories that are subject to the bias of omission and report on other news subject to bias by commission.
CNSNews.com endeavors to fairly present all legitimate sides of a story and debunk popular, albeit incorrect, myths about cultural and policy issues.
CNS do indeed present all sides of a story. We could quibble hard about the legitimate qualifier, though. In their story about these billboards, the first 15 of the paragraphs are direct descriptions of the website material, quotes from the group’s founder Haberle, or poll results saying that most Americans favour believe in creation vs evolution, then only in the last 7 paragraphs do they mention critics, and even then they still give Haberle one paragraph of those to give a rebuttal.
Just chucking in some quotes from critics at the end of an article, without giving those critics the same detailed context as the subject of the first 2/3 of a news report, is hardly “fairly presenting” all sides of a story, particularly when the news report provides links to the Creationist website and no links to any of the critics’ websites.
It’s a shoddy pretence of “balance”, that’s all.
I’m scratching my head at #3. What are they getting at? I don’t think there are a pile of scientists out there holding their breath for Heroes-style “mutations” any time soon.
There is a link on their front page to a fuller version of their arguments against descent with *unlimited* modification, but their point seems to be simple incredulity at the idea that descent with modification over deep time can produce vast genetic and phenotypic differences in organisms. It’s a point of argument meant to bolster the “variation is limited and can’t lead to speciation” argument.
Wow, that page is a really special kind of wilfully stupid, isn’t it?
Did they miss the bit where their “questions to ask Darwinists” are questions that evolution scientists have been asking themselves since the start of ev science, and answering quite well thankyouverymuch?
The aesthetic-teleology WTFery is new to me – did these people graduate middle school? It all seems a bit too large and complex to be a satire, but I still find myself looking for a “(c) The Onion” mark.
I like the creationist who is builing a $25 million museum in America which show dinosaurs with human children. The explanation of how such huge animals went on the Arc is that they were taken on as eggs. Damn if I can’t argue with logic like that.
In Kentucky, built by Answers in Genesis’ Ken Ham (originally from Queensland, OhTheShame). Only 9 days until it opens!
To paraphrase Huxley, I would rather be descended from an ape than a fundamentalist.
Oh, the US gave us McDonalds, we gave them Ham in exchange. I think we got the better of that deal.