Answers in Genesis vs EvoAnth #1

A few days ago I received about seventy-billion emails informing me people had started to comment on a post of mine from over the summer concerning Answers in Genesis’ knuckle walking Lucy exhibit. This flurry of interest was prompted by Answers in Genesis posting a “rebuttal” to that post, something which surprised me greatly. Not because I am above reproach (I’ve certainly made a fair few mistakes on this blog and encourage people to point them out) but because I never expected my little hobby was on the radar of a million-dollar organisation. Nonetheless, I have been deemed worthy of 6,000 words. I’m quite flattered really.

They start by giving a bit of background on me. There’s nothing particularly wrong about it, save for their silly American terminology. I finished college 3 years ago and have never met anyone from a “high school.”

The blogger, Adam Benton, reports he is an undergraduate student studying evolutionary anthropology. He says he started the blog after he gave a presentation about his college to some high school students where he became convinced that “People are clearly interested in where they came from, yet there are all too few sources providing this information.”1

Their footnote, however, is a bit of a jibe at my justification for blogging, noting how “our recent Google search of the phrase “human evolution” produced 230,000,000 results, so there doesn’t seem to be such a paucity of sources.” Next time someone asks me about my degree, I’ll just point them at google then.

Before addressing the blogger’s scientific claims, we should emphasize that he’s never been to the Museum. His evident reliance on hearsay rather than either observation or investigation does not excuse his erroneous statement that the Museum lacks “anything with scientific meat to it.”

Nope, never been to the museum. Don’t have any real plans to either, given how far a student budget stretches (i.e. not at all). Which is why I only mentioned the museum itself in passing, I can’t properly evaluate something I haven’t seen. Yet they manage to squeeze a couple of paragraphs out of this issue, because someone going “hey, I’ve heard that place isn’t good” is worth nothing less than total and utter annihilation. If it’s that much of an issue I’ll retract that bit. The museum might be great for all I know (or care), but I can tell you that the Lucy exhibit is a pile of poo.

The blogger seems to think the fossils have been altered, though. He writes:
I didn’t believe creationists would try and manipulate and mutilate her [Lucy’s] anatomy to portray her as something she is not”

Ok, here I’ll hold up my hand and say “my bad.” This bit isn’t as clear as it perhaps should’ve been (I thought it was, but then I know what I mean. Not everyone has access to my brain) so I’ll clarify:

 “I didn’t believe creationists would try and manipulate and mutilate [the presentation of] her [Lucy’s] anatomy to portray her as something she is not”

Those evolutionary scientific sources cited in the signage illustrate that the community of evolutionary scientists is not quite as committed to the belief that Lucy was not a knuckle-walker as our undergraduate critic believes. Perhaps he would deem the findings and opinions of these educated and experienced evolutionary scientists to be “abominations” and “travesties” also.

When a scientist gets something wrong there is debate and our knowledge progresses. Our understanding of the right answer is improved and, hopefully, the scientist changes their mind. It’s not an abomination because it helps everything get better. However, when a museum gets something wrong then that doesn’t really benefit anybody. Particularly when they insist it is true and refuse to improve the exhibition.

He writes:
“They often like to claim that their views and science are simply two ways of looking at the evidence, both equally valid. Of course, this forgets that ideas are given more credence when they demonstrate their reliability through hypothesis testing. Whilst science does plenty of that, creationism almost never does; you’ll never see an article with “creationists were surprised by a new finding” because they’re never predicting anything that could be shown to be wrong. As such, science and creationism are far from equally valid ideas.”
Of course, here the blogger is assuming that creation science is not science.

An assumption being a “thing that is accepted as true … without proof.” Did they not read last paragraph they just quoted, the one where some evidence that creations science was not science was presented? Surely it’s not an assumption when one is not just, you know, assuming it! I suspect AiG just likes to throw around creationist buzzwords like “assumption” and “worldview” regardless of whether they actually apply to what is being talked about. Their critique of my point as an assumption is particularly curious given that they then go on to talk about the evidence I make my case with. If they’re acknowledging there’s more to this claim than just my say so how can they call it an assumption?

Anyhoo, they defend calling creationism science on the grounds that many creationist models are wrong and abandoned (and they have a list of arguments creationists shouldn’t use to find it), showing they test their ideas, and that they sometimes make predictions. Like the fact that they predicted most of the genome would not be junk – a prediction confirmed by the recent ENCODE findings. In reality I think they do more to prove my point than anything else.

Their argument that “there are arguments creationists shouldn’t use, showing we test our ideas” because their list of failed creationist arguments is pathetic. Seriously, there’s 24. Either they’re essentially infallible or they “almost never” test their ideas, which was my original point. Their point regarding ENCODE doesn’t help either since it shows they’ll claim victory regardless of what the evidence shows. That’s not how predictions work. ENCODE has yet to find that the vast majority of the genome is functional, just that it is transcribed, yet they’re still claiming victory.

And that’s their introduction folks! So far all that seems to have happened is that they misunderstood me a couple of times, then asserted I made assertions. I didn’t, having offered evidence for my point which I believe still stands despite their attempt to knock it down. All in all it’s nothing particularly spectacular, although I do like the way they keep calling me “the blogger.” Makes me sound like a bit of a superhero!

Continued in part 2 ->

26 thoughts on “Answers in Genesis vs EvoAnth #1

  1. All they was to attack you rather than what you say: they did not attempt to disprove your comments (because they simlpy don’t have arguments), so they use the age old technique of trying to discredit the speaker.

    I agree 100% with you that Lucy’s knucke walking is completely flat out wrong: for example, what about the Laetoli footprint ? Maybe they should try to discredit the Austrapolithecus Afarensis who made them: for all we know he probably did not have any diploma and might have been trying to lie about the way he walked !

    • I’m always a bit weary of relying on the Laetoli footprints because we don’t know for a fact that Au. afarensis made them. Kenyanthropus platyops was living in roughly the same area around the same time, or there might also be a previously undiscovered species of hominins. However, the important thing to note is that studies have show Au. afarensis could have made these bipedal footprints.

      • Sure, in any case it shows that hominins of the time were walking upright, and since quite some time given the fact that the footprints were made by a specimen fully adapted to upright walking. Otherwise you may just look Lucy’s pelvis, knuckle walking would have been ridiculous with such pelvis !

        Great blog by the way !

        • True, with anatomy like that knuckle-walking would be to Lucy what bipedalism is to modern chimps: possible, but inefficient, uncomfortable and not preferred.

          Thank you by the way!

  2. Pingback: Creationism vs. Christianity (a reprise) « Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

  3. Honestly, I would consider it a great honor to be attacked by AiG. It means that you’re argument is scientific, open to a scientific debate, and can’t be dis-proven by creationists without going for ad homonym attacks. Good for you! You’ve made it to the big times. Keep up the good work, and don’t let angry creationists get you down.

  4. Pingback: Answers in Genesis v Evoanth #2: The foramen magnum « EvoAnth

  5. Pingback: Lucy the knuckle walking ape? – Misguided Mondays « EvoAnth

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  9. I just started reading the “exchange” and as usual of your post, I love it.
    That said, I would like to add my 2 cents… One of the most striking aspects of this type of debate is the tone and recurrence of certain type statements.

    Cent #1) AIG is certainly attacking and mocking you on a personal basis, which is completely uncalled for and patronizing to say the least. But likewise, referring to their statements as a “pile of poo” (etc), however accurate you feel your description is, does nothing to further the debate.

    Cent#2) I wish debates around objective issues did not center around a statement like “the reason they are wrong is because they can’t read correctly” or “They don’t know what real science is” etc.

    In the first case it makes the debate sound like more quarrel than anything else, in the 2nd it sounds like a biblical fundamentalist arguing over who has the real truth (or light) or whatever…

    Anyhow, hope this helps. Keep up the good work.

    • This post is the most wishy washy of the bunch given it’s about the nature of science and creationism. The others are more grounded in objectivity and hopefully you enjoy them more as a result.

  10. Pingback: Answers in Genesis v EvoAnth #6:The conclusion « EvoAnth

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  12. Pingback: Lucy the knuckle walker? Answers in Genesis v EvoAnth | EvoAnth

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