Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More Creationist Nonsense

PZ Meyers has a takedown of a recent post by someone named Peter Hitchens in the London Daily Mail. Hitchens is trying to argue that mean ol' scientists are deliberately ignoring the evidence that evolution did not happen, and that (presumably) all life on earth is the result of direct special creation some 6,000 years ago. Meyers' rebuttal is so good I'll post a big chunk of it after the jump.

But Darwinism is all about events that happened when there was nobody there to witness them. And it is also about events which - if happening now - are happening too slowly for anyone to live long enough to see them. It is amazing how many supporters of this theory cannot see the difference between the micro-evolution of adaptation or alteration within species, and the far more ambitious developments of macro-evolution, in my view qualitatively different, which Darwinists believe in.

Oh, bleh…the usual "historical science" canard. That something happens slowly (or too quickly) or distantly (or on too small or too large a scale) so that one person can't sit there and watch it happen directly before his favorite program comes up on the TV is one of the dumbest arguments in the creationist arsenal. It rules out all of astronomy and astrophysics and geology and cosmology and chemistry and anything that involves something more than a naive sense of naked eye measurement. How can you say glaciers covered much of the northern hemisphere? Were you there? No, but I can see the effects of their movement on the modern landscape. How can you say a star is carrying out nuclear reactions and producing new elements? Have you visited one? No, but an astronomer can interpret the spectra he measures. How can you claim that a reaction occurred in that tiny volume? All you see is one drop of clear fluid, and later it's still a drop of clear fluid. Hey, chemists have sensitive devices like chromatographs and NMR gadgets that let them see what your eyes can't.

We can see the effects of history on modern individuals. We can sequence genes, measure protein polymorphisms, follow patterns in morphology and see the record of macroevolutionary changes as clearly in life on earth as an astronomer can track stellar history in a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. That the ignorant are unwilling to read the data is not an argument, but it's one they drag out with annoying frequency.

The whole "If you didn't see it happen you can't know anything about it" school of argument is ridiculous. I'd like to ask one of these people why they don't march right down to the local police station and demand that the entire department be disbanded:

"My house was robbed, they stole all my belongings!"
"Were you there to see it?"
"Well, no ... "
"Then I'm afraid there's nothing we can do, if we weren't there we can't tell anything about it."
"Well bugger!"

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