Saturday, August 23, 2008

Vast ignorance

Via Fundies Say the Darndest Things (specifically here)comes a creotard website that is almost painful in its ignorance.

Missing Universe Museum

Here is the site's mission statement (from the home page):

The Missing Universe Museum contrasts the Evolution and Creation models of origins. The main purpose of this museum is to demonstrate that these two models are opposites and therefore are mutually exclusive. The public will be shown the assumptions behind each model and will be assisted in making predictions based on them. Evidence from around the world is presented so that each person will be able to make an intelligent, informed decision as to which model best explains our universe.

Here's how evolution is defined in "Exhibit 1":
The Evolution model states that matter has always existed.
Modern Evolutionary Theory says no such thing. Wrong theory. Hell, wrong branch of science.
Everything in the universe came about by chance.
Still not MET.
Life began spontaneously from non living matter.
That's really abiogenesis, not MET. But that's a quibble; MET does sort of imply abiogenesis. However, "spontaneously" is bullplop. Get rid of that and the statement is true enough.
Evolution is a random, ongoing process.
Partial credit for "ongoing process". Selection via survival is very much non-random.
All living things have a common ancestor.
A 100% correct statement. I am astounded!
There is no God.
Oops. MET has nothing to say about the existence of any god(s).
The concept of evolution has been hinted at for centuries, but Darwin gave it apparent plausibility by his theory of natural selection which would result in "purposeful" organisms without a Creator.
Close. Lose the word "apparent", and you've got it.
The mechanism for change is mutation, refined by natural selection.
Incredible, right again!
A few (partially) correct statements + a few outright lies = wildly incorrect description of MET. There is one reference given (Exhibit 1A). It is a statement by The American Humanist Association, from 1977 (it's really good, and still 100% applicable). Here is the same statement, but on Almost surprisingly, it is the same. But it isn't really a reference, it is, as it's title says, "A Statement Affirming Evolution as a Principle of Science". It is not a description of the evidence for MET.

Here's the definition for the creation model (also part of "Exhibit 1"):
The Creation model is defined by the Bible. God has always existed. All things were created by God and all life forms existed at the same time. Every living thing then would reproduce after it's kind, so Creation was an act, not an ongoing process. There was no death until man disobeyed God.
Wait, where did that last part come from? I think Genesis 3:22
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:[KJV]
clearly indicates that man, at least, was already subject to death.
The Bible says that the world was flooded, which caused rapid mass extinction and reshaped the surface of the earth.
There are four reference links, all of which provide a bunch of bible verses (some of which are repeats), and nothing else.

Pretty standard tactic: ignore all that pesky evidence, and claim an ancient text trumps it all anyway.

Then there is a fun little chart comparing "predictions" of both theories.

Going through it line-by-line:
  1. "A Finished Act" vs "An Ongoing Process"
    Okay. Pass.
  2. "Zero Transitions" vs "Trillions Of Transitions"
    I don't know about trillions, but lots, so I'll let this one pass, too.
  3. "Zero Vestigial Organs" vs "Trillions Of Vestigial Organs"
    Again, trillions? but yeah, vestigial organs. So, pass.
  4. "Decreasing Species" vs "Increasing Species"
    Guess what, speciation has been observed. But MET predicts both, actually. Increasing due to speciation, and decreasing due to extinctions. Fail.
  5. "Purpose/Intelligence" vs "Random/Chance"
    NO. That should be "Random Mutation + Non-Random Selection". The selection part is what makes MET work. If you don't emphasize selection, you aren't discussing MET. Fail.
  6. "Will Be Missing Links" vs "Species Will Blend Together"
    A slew of transitional fossils have been discovered. That link is even outdated, several more have been discovered. But, hey, it's right about MET, so, pass.
  7. "Fossils Lived At Same Time" vs "Fossils Show Progression"
    We have those pesky transitional fossils. Whales and horses are good examples. And, sorry creos, dating methods really are accurate Still, right about MET. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that "progression" is used rather than "progress" (which suggests a goal). Pass
  8. "World Under-Populated" vs "World Over-Populated"
    MET does not predict overpopulation. Fail.
  9. "Permanent Extinction" vs "Temporary Extinction"
    "Temporary Extinction" is an oxymoron. When a species goes extinct, it is gone forever. The dodo is not coming back. Fail.
  10. "Probably Young Earth" vs "Requires Old Earth"
    Yep, pass.
  11. "Was Oxygen Atmosphere" vs "Was Reducing Atmosphere"
    This probably refers to the Urey-Miller experiment back in the '50s. But there probably was a mildly reducing atmosphere. Even so, MET does not require one. So, Fail.
  12. "Rapid Catastrophe" vs "Slow, Uniform Processes"
    Nope, sorry. Evolution occurs at varying rates (punctuated equilibrium) and extinctions can happen quite suddenly. Fail
  13. "Fossils Buried Alive" vs "Fossils Died, Then Buried"
    MET makes no predictions about the condition of a creature when it was buried. Fossilization could occur (or not) either way. Fail.
  14. "Mutations Are Harmful" vs "Mutations Are Beneficial"
    According to MET, the vast majority of mutations are neutral, followed by harmful as distant second. Mutations may be beneficial, but it's very unlikely. Fail.
  15. "Fossils Are Abundant" vs "Fossils Are Rare"
    "Rare" is a relative term. In terms of raw numbers fossils are extremely common. As a kid, I used to find rocks with fossilized shell imprints in the gravel in my driveway. In comparison to the number of organisms that have ever lived, fossilization is rare. So, while this is technically correct, it is also misleading. Therefore, fail.
  16. "Limited Coal And Oil" vs "Renewable Coal And Oil"
    Even though it's a pretty big stretch to tie this to MET, I'll let it slide. But, if we are using them several million times faster than they form, they aren't really renewable, are they? Fail.
  17. "Isolated Species" vs "Same Species Globally"
    Geographical isolation is one major way speciation can occur. Fail.
  18. "Clocks Are Always Created" vs "Clocks Can Evolve!"
Notice that I didn't say anything about the creation side of the table. That's because if you posit an omnipotent deity, absolutely anything is possible.

That's just Exhibit 1. The other 24 fail just as badly.

My favorite, and the one that brought this site to my attention, is Exhibit 20, wherein evolution is disproved because a random pile of LEGOs doesn't become a house or a car or something. This kind of hearkens back to Fred Hoyle's "Tornado + Junyard = Boeing 747" metaphor for evolution. Both illustrate a terrible, perhaps insurmountable, misunderstanding of MET.

Oh, about that clock thing. See this previous post. Pay close attention to the exposition at the beginning and end of the video to understand why clocks can't really evolve.


6 people have spouted off:

John said...
Hey Jackie,

Does this make up for my last post?
8/23/08, 10:34 PM
Jackie said...

lol. Yes, though I tire quickly of creobot lies, too. How much of this crap do you think the author believes? Do they really think it's OK to lie as long as it's lying for Jesus? Or do you think they don't really believe in god, they're just doing it for money/publicity?

Were the numbered points quotes, too? It's unclear without the block quote.

OT: did I tell you I read Carl Zimmer's Microcosm? Excellent book, I highly recommend it. I also read Shubin's Your Inner Fish - not quite as good as Microcosm, but still well worth the read for all you'll learn about evo devo and evolution.

Qalmlea said...

The problem is precisely that there are people who believe this garbage. It's hard to tell if the ones doing most of the spewing believe it or not, but the ones who listen to them do.

And I would have no problem with them if they'd just stick with the ol' appearance of age trope (thus admitting there is no science in their beliefs). Then they might as well learn how their 'god' made the world 'appear', and hence learn all about how everything 'appears' to have evolved. I'm sure they've already got more than enough doublethink in them to deal with that.

John said...
Jackie -

the numbered points were items from the "comparison table", Microcosm is on my reading list, but I have read Sean Carroll's Endless Forms Most Beautiful, another excellent book on evo-devo.

Qalmlea -

I suspect their leader's don't believe in much other than money. This site in particular, though, I can't really tell. The "appearance of age" argument is easily mocked with Last-Tuesdayism. And they can't stick with it because they want the cachet that comes with apparent scientific validity, to better draw in the gullible.
8/24/08, 1:16 PM
Qalmlea said...

Yeah, I know. I call "appearance of age" the "lying god gambit" myself. But at least it makes it clear that their beliefs have no scientific basis and cannot be made to have one.

Thumb Biter said...

You use the word "spontaneously" incorrectly. Scientists use spontaneity of a reaction or occurrence to mean that given enough time, it will eventually, inevitably happen with no outside trigger. Therefore, the statement that "life began spontaneously from non living matter" is true according to abiogenesis, whether or not the word "spontaneously" is included in.
Also, why is the statement that "everything in the universe came about by chance" not MET?