Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
 

August 24 - September 7, 2005
Issue #82

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
   
Evolution Rock
Jesus or Darwin? An ultimatum
Allan Uthman

Keepin' it Real
Cindy Sheehan, representin'
Shawn Ewald

It's Gettin' Hot in Here
Global Warming: Warming the Globe?
Kit Smith
Large & in Charge
Bob Wilmers, Buffalo's control freak
Donnie Dobovich
People Like You
You people just don't get it

Michael Manville

No Strategy, Just Exit
Fractured left threatens itself

Stan Goff

The Real Greatest Americans
Screw the Discovery Channel
Erich Schulte

The BEAST BLOG
Buffalo in Briefs
The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime
Page 3
Celebrity Math
Separated at Birth?
Beast-O-Scopes
Kino Korner: Movies
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

COMIX:
Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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Evolution Rock
Jesus or Darwin? An ultimatum
Allan Uthman

The problem with writing about creationism, or intelligent design, as it goes by these days, is that it is just too easy a theory to knock down—it really doesn’t seem fair. The very idea that there is a real debate about evolution is mainly a fallacy—there have always been many millions of Americans who either doubted or disbelieved Darwin’s theory; the only difference is that, for the past several decades, the press knew better than to take them seriously.

Unfortunately, those days are gone. From CNN to Time magazine, the “debate” between evolutionists and creationists has been featured and the intelligent design canard has made headway into US consciousness as a “competing theory.” Creationist “museums,” featuring dinosaur rides for the kiddies, are sprouting up across America. School boards in some less evolved states are doing their best to codify ignorance, and mandate that their kids at least be given the choice to remain as childish and fatheaded as their parents.

The plain stupidity of promoting what boils down to magic as an equally valid alternative to observation and reasoned analysis shows what a powerful tactic the modern news fallacy of ‘balance’ really is. It would seem that the illusion of controversy is the single best way to advance agendas which would otherwise be immediately dismissed, and manufacturing a “controversy” about a “theory” which can be summed up in the line “God made it” makes this debate the most extreme test case of the “balance” formula yet. After all, if you can get ‘em to consider a flat earth, can a flat tax be far behind?

What people are calling balance these days is not a balance between valid, well-premised arguments, but a balance between what is true and what some would prefer to be true; a balance between the factual and the comforting. In this manner, one can cling to patently absurd beliefs and still feel he is just on one side in an important “debate.”

Put it in perspective: If the Christian creation myth were really as valid a position as evolution, then wouldn’t it also follow that all creation myths are just as valid? I can just imagine how evangelicals would react to a proposal to teach Hindu and Comanche creation myths alongside Intelligent Design, and “let the kids decide.” Seen in this light, the “balance” concept falls apart. A theory is not valid because of the number of people who believe it; it stands or falls by intellectual scrutiny.

How hard must it be to look at a zebra and a horse, or a lion and a tiger, and assert that they are not related? Really now—how valid is that position? The concept of sharing ancestry with apes may bother some, but really, have you seen apes? Did you know that chips have the exact same number of hair follicles that we do? I mean, that’s some hell of a coincidence.

There’s a lot of phony “debunking” of evolution on the internet these days, but virtually all of it stems from poor understanding of evolutionary theory or outright falsehood. One particularly mindless site, Creation Tips, points to certain reptiles which have not changed in hundreds of millions of years as evidence against evolution. This is proof of nothing but that creationists don’t even get what evolution is. If a species is well-suited to its niche, and survives well en masse, natural selection won’t occur, and the species won’t change. We won’t even go into what it means to offer up a 200 million-year-old lizard as proof that God made the earth 5,000 years ago.

A common tactic is proclaiming that evolution has become “just another religion.” I guess it’s not too surprising that the faith-afflicted wouldn’t be able to get their minds around the possibility that someone might use their minds to think and derive logical conclusions, rather than to believe, and find ways to avoid facing reality.

The incredibly flawed logic of creationism advocates is immediately apparent in their arguments, and hardly worth documenting, except for the sheer giddy horror of it. Take Tony Snow, a popular Fox News anchor drone. In a column called “Why can't we have a rational debate,” Snow unwittingly answers his own question:

"Hard science shows us a world of dazzling order, complexity and interdependence. To take one tiny example, a single gene seems to control vision in all animals. Could this be a matter of dumb luck?"

I’m not sure about dumb luck, but to me it sounds like a matter of dumb Tony Snow. Any person old enough to play checkers could see that such consistency—the same gene controlling vision in all animals—is in fact evidence of evolution. It’s not dumb luck; it follows naturally that, if every creature with eyes was descended from another with eyes, this would be the case. But Snow is so unclear on the concept of evolution that he sees this as evidence of a creator, undermining his own argument and showing himself to be a weak-minded fool.

"That said, ID does not qualify as science because it gives us nothing to test or measure. Science requires replicable tests involving measurable variables… These little insights give us the basis for admitting both views into the educational system. Evolutionary theory, like ID, isn't verifiable or testable. It's pure hypothesis -- like ID… "

Snow is officially in over his head now. In calling evolution “pure hypothesis,” he only reveals that he doesn’t understand science. Evolution is testable and verifiable; Snow just doesn’t really know what those words mean.

But Snow is a genius when compared with Joseph Farah of the far right WorldNetDaily, whose creationist argument relies heavily on what can only be described as a woeful lack of elementary knowledge. Farah claims, nonsensically, that “There are atheists who believe in intelligent design.” He also says “Evolutionists are incapable of selling their ideas in an open marketplace,” despite the fact that this is exactly how Darwin’s theory became so popular in the face of overwhelming religious opposition.

But none of this compares with Farah’s comically moronic recent column entitled “Why I believe in Creation,” or, as I like to call it, “Proof that I come from a monkey.” A choice sample:

"I am 100 percent certain man and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time. In fact, I'm not at all sure dinosaurs are even extinct!

"Think of all the world's legends about dragons. Look at those images. What were those folks seeing? They were clearly seeing dinosaurs. You can see them etched in cave drawings. You can see them in ancient literature. You can see them described in the Bible. You can see them in virtually every culture in every corner of the world."

That’s right; dragons. In cave drawings, even.

"And what about the not-so-unusual sightings of contemporary sea monsters? Some of them have actually been captured."
Sea monsters… oh, man. Some have been captured? Gee, you’d think it would have been bigger news.
"If I'm right about that – which I am – then the whole evolutionary house of cards comes tumbling down. This is the evidence about which the evolutionists dare not speak."

Farah thinks not only that dinosaurs are walking the earth, but that scientists would cover it up, as if it would have any bearing on the validity of evolution. This is not just ignorant and paranoid; it is the incredibly stupid speculation of a puny, cowardly mind. Can you imagine the worldwide jubilation among scientists if they actually found so much as a pterodactyl?

Another great site for this sort jaw-dropping claptrap is Answers in Genesis, probably the biggest of the genre. There are huge amounts of science-esque articles, arguing for creationism by attempting to sound too smart to be understood. These people are building a “museum” in Kentucky right now. They preach a literal interpretation of the Bible, which at least is more ballsy and honest than the stealth-Jesus Intelligent Design crowd. As civil war beard-reenactor Ken Ham puts it:

Let’s be honest. Take out your Bible and look through it. You can’t find any hint at all for millions or billions of years… you will have heard or read quotes from many well-known and respected Christian leaders admitting that if you take Genesis in a straight-forward way, it clearly teaches six ordinary days of Creation. However, the reason they don’t believe God created in six literal days is because they are convinced from so-called ‘science’ that the world is billions of years old. In other words, they are admitting that they start outside the Bible to (re)interpret the Words of Scripture.

This is where I agree with delusional Christians like Ham, and take heart in the plain absurdity of their position as a recruitment tool for agnosticism. The fact is that Genesis is specific: six days. There really is no indication that the “days” are in any way metaphorical. If you call yourself a Christian, and believe the Bible is truly the word of God, then you really only have two honest choices: accept that the earth is 5,000 years old, that Noah managed to fit all of the land species (including dinosaurs, don’t forget) onto a boat and keep them alive for an extended time, and many other things which defy logic and the evidence, or recognize that these ideas are fundamentally silly and juvenile. Interpreting these Biblical details as metaphors may be a sign of relative intelligence, but it is intellectually dishonest. Instead of retrofitting Genesis to match with a reality you can’t reasonably deny, why not follow through, chuck the whole thing altogether and join us in the real world? In other words, why not adapt to a new, more accurate understanding of existence? Why not evolve?

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