Don McLeroy responds to the evidence for whale evolution

The other day I put up a post showing a video by Jon Peters about the evidence for the evolution of whales. That’s one of the great stories of evolution, and is copiously documented with evidence from many areas: the fossil record, genetics, embryology, vestigial organs, and so on. (The reptile—>mammal transition is equally well documented.) Readers added other evidence, including Gabriel McNett’s presentation on whale evolution at the NCSE website (free download) and a BBC show on the same topic with three scientists.

At the end of my post, I added this coda:

Given that the lecture’s being used in Texas, I look forward to creationist Don McLeroy’s response explaining how these data really comport better with the creation story of Genesis.

Well, McLeroy, once head of the Texas Board of Education, and a man who’s done more to damage science education in this country than anyone I can think of, has responded on his site To My Listening Ear. (What a misnomer! The man listens only to refute; he’s completely close-minded.) Here’s the entirety of McLeroy’s post, called “The Evolutionist’ Conceptual Lock” (there’s apparently a missing “s”):

Considering Carl Sagan’s “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” Jon Peter’s video fails Sagan’s test for whale evolution; he doesn’t realize he has not presented very much evidence. If he would only look at all of the whale as he looks at a hind limb atavism, he would realize his mistake. For example, when discussing hind limb atavisms, Peter’s observes: “Think about that. Remember, if it is a leg, think of the DNA it takes to produce a leg—bones, muscles, nerves, skin cartilage. That’s a lot of DNA.” I agree. But now consider the amount of genetic instructions and rewired DNA it takes for the transformation of an ancient land mammal into a whale. Now this is a lot of DNA! I do not know if he really has thought about the amount needed.

Yes, a creationist has a hard time explaining the atavism [JAC: what’s your explanation, Mr. McLeroy?], but the evolutionist has a multiple orders of magnitude problem explaining a whale. Especially, when all this supposedly happened “remarkably fast: most of the action took place within only 10 million years.” (Coyne, Why Evolution is True, 51)

This short critique highlights what I believe is the evolutionist’ greatest blind spot: thinking he has massive overwhelming evidence when he doesn’t. Stephen Gould warned “The greatest impediment to scientific innovation is usually a conceptual lock.” (Wonderful Life,276) I see the evolutionist’ “conceptual lock” as claiming “What’s not a problem is the lack of evidence.” (Coyne, 222)

I guess the missing “s” in “evolutionist'” isn’t a typo after all.

Here McLeroy simply raises the old canard about “evolution can’t create that much change in the DNA!”  But nobody has ever shown that it can’t, and we have the fossil evidence that it can. If McLeroy is serious here, he’d show that that amount of morphological and anatomical evolution that occurred simply couldn’t have happened via natural selection. That’s presently impossible, of course, since we don’t know how many genes have changed, and how many substitutions have occurred. The only attempt I know to see if the evolution of a complex character was evolutionarily feasible in a reasonable amount of time was Nilsson and Pelger’s 1994 paper (free download) on the evolution of a camera eye from a light-sensitive eye spot. Contrary to creationist assertions, they showed it could happen pretty quickly: a few hundred thousand years. Whales had ten million years to evolve, and of course many traits were changing at once.

And, as I said, we have the evolutionary evidence for morphological evolution—in the fossil record! McLeroy simply ignores that. What is his explanation for all the evidence: God put the vestigial pelvises and atavistic legs in whales to fool us? Did God create a succession of fossils to mimic the evolution of whales, apparently to trick biologists into thinking that whales evolved from terrestrial artiodactyls? Is McLeroy’s God a Cosmic Prankster?

As with all creationists, McLeroy doesn’t explicitly describe his alternative theory to explain the data: he just kvetches about evolution. I presume that he thinks that the false evidence for evolution is God’s handiwork; if he believes otherwise, he should give his theory for the remarkable succession of fossils, the vestigial pelvis and rudimentary legs, and the silenced olfactory-receptor genes (they’re all  “dead” in cetaceans). For the nonce, I will assume that McLeroy sees God as allied with Satan in this cartoon from reader Pliny the in Between:

Toon Background.001

 

62 Comments

  1. Scott Draper
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Motivated reasoning is a real bitch. Watching someone else be very obtuse is a good reminder to me that I shouldn’t care too much about arriving at any particular conclusion.

  2. BobTerrace
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    This describes McLeroy perfectly:

    None so deaf as those that will not hear.
    None so blind as those that will not see.
    – Matthew Henry

    • jeffery
      Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

      “It is futile to attempt to use reason to budge someone from a position which they did not acquire BY reason.”

  3. Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    It’s why I make it very clear in a revised version of the lecture that I’m presenting the product (evolution) and not talking about the process (the mechanisms). McLeroy is conflating them. There’s so much evidence that whales have evolved that to deny this (per Gould and others) is to be perverse. He can discuss and criticize how it occurred but to say that just because he just can’t imagine how all that complexity evolved in 10 million years doesn’t mean it did not happen – and we know it did by all the independent lines of evidence. If whales have the DNA for making legs, why would a designer put that in if their ancestors never had them? It’s like finding a plane that can only fly with boat parts in it. We have wonderful fossil transitional whale fossils now. And even in the 1800’s anatomists were seeing evidence in extant whales that their history harked back to the land. Transposons? Case closed unless you have an agenda.

    Here’s one way to look at the product vs. the process. If we come across a house in shambles we can argue about the process: tornado, hurricane, earthquake, Trump developer? But no one in their right mind would argue the house is not knocked down.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      All evidence says that whales evolved from hooved mammals. No evidence says otherwise. As for the amount of DNA that needed changin’ I don’t think that it was very much. Very small changes in regulatory regions of DNA alters where and when a gene is expressed. So a small change in DNA can have a big effect on morphology.

      • JohnW
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

        That struck me as well and I think exemplifies how most creationists really don’t understand what DNA or genes actually are… Their arguments usually fall into the not even wrong category. Most mammals, whether mouse or whale, have fairly similar genomes with c-values of around 3 – 3.5, around 3 Gb of DNA, and around 20-24K genes. The coding region of the genome of the last terrestrial cetacean common ancestor was probably a lot like the same in the genome of whales now but with different alleles and allele frequencies and some relatively small degree of paralogous genetic divergence.

        • Joe Pickard
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          But but whales are sooo big, they must have more genes than a mouse!

          • BobTerrace
            Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

            No, but they have a whale of a story to tell.

    • Kingasaurus
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      —If whales have the DNA for making legs, why would a designer put that in if their ancestors never had them?—

      This is THE important question that Dangerous Don has no answer for.

      The whole point is that things like atavisms are expected under evolution and common ancestry, and totally UNexpected under any proposed creation model.

      Jerry asks why Don doesn’t answer the question, and the reason he doesn’t answer is that he simply can’t propose an answer without the underlying assumption that his god is some sort of trickster who creates animals from scratch with features and genetic material that make it look like they evolved.

      Why do aquatic mammals swim with vertical fluke movement, while fish and reptiles swim horizontally? Evolution reasonably answers that, creationists just shrug and have no answer. Multiply this situation by 10,000.

      Whales would be more efficient if they had gills instead of super-efficient lungs. They’d never have to surface and their newborns would never drown. If god made them from scratch, why didn’t god give whales gills? Creationists have no answer as to why whales have super-efficient lungs rather than gills. Evolution answers such questions in a reasonable fashion.

      • Posted April 28, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Creationists have no answer as to why [….]

        Well, to be fair…they do have an answer to why so many aspects of biology are poorly designed, such as air-breathing whales.

        You see…wait for it…trust me, it’s worth it….

        Well, you see, as I was starting to tell you…about six thousand years ago, when the world was new and freshly-made, a talking snake convinced a woman cloned from her made-from-mud husband’s rib into eating a magic sin fruit. Before that fateful bite, all was perfect. Did I mention? Everything was new and sniny. But, clearly, after the fruit hit the tongue, the world had no choice but to fall apart on the spot, resulting in all the problems you mentioned plus everything else that’s not right.

        But fear not! The King of the Undead took an S&M vacation in a backwater corner of the Roman Empire. As a result, highly trained magic men can transmogrify mere bread and water into the King’s own flesh and blood, and all who cannibalize the reconstituted zombie body parts are granted absolution for the original fruitful sin and guaranteed eternal zombification of their own during an impending global cataclysm of, literally, Apocalyptic proportions.

        Wait…why’re you laughing? They’re dead serious about this, you know….

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

        • BobTerrace
          Posted April 28, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

          To each, his own… but we get to mock, satirize, ridicule and laugh as much as we want

    • gil
      Posted May 1, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

      hi jon.

      you said:

      “If whales have the DNA for making legs, why would a designer put that in if their ancestors never had them? “-

      what genesyou refer to? thanks. actually- human have gene for feathers. but it doesnt mean that human evolve from birds. a lot of gene are multifunctional.

    • gil
      Posted May 1, 2016 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      hey dr jon. you said:

      “and the silenced olfactory-receptor genes (they’re all “dead” in cetaceans)”

      actually some of them are funcional:

      https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19211-how-does-a-bowhead-whale-smell-quite-well-actually/

  4. dougeast
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    What a waste of valuable scientific time having to deal with people opposing a theory of science on a religious basis. If Jesus was said to have levitated would we have to defend the theory of gravity as well?

  5. Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    remarkably fast: most of the action took place within only 10 million years

    We can safely use a decade as a conservative estimate of a generation time for large mammas. Humans are at the slow extreme for reaching sexual maturity, and we’re not that much past a decade.

    That gives us one mmmmiiiiiilllllliiioooooonnnn generations from proto-whale to modernity.

    Consider that even the most diehard Cretinist would claim that all humans descended from Noah and his family about 4,000 years ago, roughly 200 human generations…and that we’ve got such huge variation in humans alone…well, I gotta wonder what the problem is?

    If we can go from Noah all the way to pigmy tribes and Shaquille O’Neil and Margaret Thatcher and Kenyan marathoners and the Inuit and all the rest of us, in (according to Cretinists) a mere 200 generations…why on earth not from a deer-like animal to a seal-like animal to a dolphin-like animal to a whale-like animal over five thousand times as many generations?

    Were there a problem here, I’d be happy to address it. But what I’m hearing from McLeroy is akin to somebody carping about how a journey of a thousand miles over the course of a year is impossible because a single step takes almost a second to execute and only spans a few feet. Um…yes…and the problem is what, exactly…?

    b&

    • Gamall
      Posted April 28, 2016 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      > We can safely use a decade as a conservative estimate of a generation time for large mammas.

      No comment 🙂

    • gil
      Posted May 1, 2016 at 7:21 am | Permalink

      hey ben. whale also have a sonar system. how many mutations need for a whale sonar? lets say that a minimal sonat need about 3 new parts. do you think its possible during 10 my?

  6. eric
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    But nobody has ever shown that it can’t…

    Oh I think the situation is far worse for creationists than that: nobody has ever shown even a theoretical mechanism for a limit on the amount of genetic change that can happen over generations. Like a compound interest equation, mutation works the same no matter what the past history of “account.” If they think it doesn’t, they’re going to have to hypothesize an additional mechanism that prevents it and show evidence such a mechanism exists.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      It might surprise you — and, perhaps, it might surprise even McLeroy — that you’ve precisely nailed it. There is, indeed, exactly such a theoretical mechanism, and it’s the ultimate source for all this nonsense.

      The theory, of course, is Platonic Idealism. Plato would claim that, for example, there exists (for some definition of the term, with more or less physicality depending on the interpretation), a Perfect Rabbit. It is the ultimate and pure essence of Rabbit, such that there is nothing even theoretically more nor less Rabbit than this Ideal. And all the rabbits we see are imperfect approximations of the One True Rabbit. And the Essence of Rabbit somehow (in some unspecified manner) constrains Earthly rabbits to within some distance of the Ultimate Rabbit.

      This sort of philosophy is very much in evidence in Christian theology, especially in the Pauline letters and their immediate pre-Christian antecedent, Philo’s development of the Logos. Adam was the first man, the Platonic archetype of the human body; Christ was the last man, the Platonic archetype of the human soul. As all flesh is made in the image of Adam, so, too, all spirit is made in the image of Christ.

      That sort of thing only makes sense if not only Aristotelian Metaphysics holds, but if Plato’s Idealized formulation of Metaphysics is correct.

      In reality, we know that it’s all bullshit. Metaphysics and Idealism have no more place in our modern world of the Standard Model and Cosmology than does the demonic possession theory of disease have any place in a world with antiretroviral medications like AZT.

      But if you ditch Platonism, you ditch its derivatives, including Christianity, which eventually to McLeroy means that, when he dies, he’s dead. And since that conclusion is intolerable to him, he follows the chain all the way back to Platonism and clings to it like a baby to the bottle.

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • eric
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        That’s not a mechanism. Let’s say a DNA strand gets hit by a cosmic ray and the question is whether a mutation can happen or not (‘not’, under your model, if it would take the strand too far away from its platonic ideal). To be a mechanism, you have to tell me (1) how the DNA strand accesses/interacts with its platonic ideal to assess whether the reaction that cosmic ray is about to cause is ‘too much’ delta from the original. (2) How the current delta between DNA stand and platonic ideal gets converted back into some sort of kinetic or thermodynamic barrier to reaction.

        The concept of a limit is somewhat analogous to the Maxwell’s demon problem or even the concept of a soul: your “mechanism” is no mechanism because it lacks a demon to move particles, lacks a connection mechanism between the material and nonmaterial (respectively).

        • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

          Sorry if I wasn’t clear. I’m not defending Platonic Idealism; indeed, I’m about as harsh a critic of it as you’ll find. Your objection is but one of many that could be brought to bear — with, I would continue to argue, the more significant objection being that this sort of primitive superstition has no place in modernity when we’ve got the Standard Model. Hell, Newtonian Mechanics was far more than enough to render Metaphysics hopelessly obsolete.

          What I was instead attempting to do was explain the primitive, superstitious, ignorant mindset which McLeroy and his ilk are trapped in, from their perspective. Christianity grew up in an age in which Plato was the height of sophistication and largely unassailable, and it remains essentially a product of that era. (A big footnote belongs here pointing to the pre-Socratics, especially Democritus and Epicurus and Lucretius. But they were the old fuddy-duddies of the time of the Caesars.)

          If you understand that the Cretinist objections to modernity are arguing from Platonism as their foundation, you can then go to that foundation and demonstrate why their starting premises are nonsense.

          Cheers,

          b&

          >

      • Robert bray
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for this post, Mr. Goren. Over many decades as a professor of humanities, I can remember several instances in which lessons on the Platonic Forms proved an eye-opener to my Christian students EVEN WHEN I DID NOT ALLUDE TO THEIR RELIGION! They put it together. Whether their realization affected their faith I of course do not know. But it very probably put religion under the microscope of critical thinking, a good thing.

      • Lee
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        This same sort of thought process is at work with current Mormon thinking on homosexuality. Mormon leaders view gender as an eternal, immutable characteristic of the human spirit. Apostle Boyd K. Packer described the relation of the spirit to the body as being analogous to the relation of the hand to a glove. The spirit, which is eternal and existed before birth, inhabits and controls (and is in fact spatially coextensive with and actually looks like) the body.

        It’s very telling that the brain has no distinct role in Mormon theology (no pun intended, but pun well deserved!). It’s the spirit that does the thinking and feeling, and which contains the essence of gender in all its manifestations. Therefore homosexuality, transgender etc are perversions of the divine essence of the person involved, perversions that the person him/herself is to some degree responsible for. No one is “born that way”; they somehow come to choose an impure and immoral lifestyle. Mormon leaders even find it hard to say the word “homosexual”, and when they write about it they tend to leave it in quotation marks. The politically correct phrase is “suffering from same-sex attraction”.

        Mormon views on homosexuality seem to me to be very much of a sameness with other forms of Platonic essentialism. It’s a very hard mental habit to break, apparently.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

        You now have me wondering if Elmer Fudd was a Platonist 🙂

  7. Jeff Lewis
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I wonder if McLeroy thinks bees can’t fly. I mean, if you misapply a theory with the wrong assumptions, that certainly trumps evidence, right?

  8. DrBrydon
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I like how McLeroy tries to turn the “extraordinary claim” back on itself. Suddenly claiming there isn’t divine intervention is an extraordinary claim? I think this ultimately robs the divine of its uniqueness, though. If divinity is quotidian, then it’s really not special.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Leibniz, no atheist, complained that Newton’s ideas of the universe were unworthy to be candidates for the divine plan because they required repeated divine intervention.

      I think there’s a unresolvable tension between two views. God as perfect and does everything right at once and god as miracle maker, and hence doesn’t do everything right at once.

      This can be turned into an atheistic argument, by sort of argument from cases and reductio.

  9. docbill1351
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    Creationists are neither reasonable nor truthful. I hold the personal view that all YEC’s are dishonest and McLeroy is no exception.

    For example, how can McLeroy even utter the words “10 million years” when he believes the entire Universe is about 6,000 years old?

    But for the YEC the real Achilles’ Heel (if they believed in Achilles.) is the flood that wiped out all life on Earth save for what was in the rock. A full third of the YEC “history” is wiped out by that event. YEC’s can’t even account for recorded history in this narrative.

    It is simply not possible to reason with a person that delusional.

    • Jeff Lewis
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Having known a few YECs, most weren’t intentionally dishonest. They were just very ignorant and didn’t think things through very much based on what they did know.

      Like your example of the flood and not accounting for recorded history – the YECs I’ve known just don’t know much about recorded history at all. I mean, they’re vaguely aware of ancient Romans and Greeks and Egyptians (mostly from movies), but not enough to put any of it into context.

      • eric
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        Agree; docBill may be underestimating the ignorance (willful or otherwise) of his opponents. Sherri Sheppard may be an extreme case, but if you google her you’ll find her on national TV stating (1) she doesn’t need to know the shape of the Earth, and (2) there were no people on Earth before Christians. That second one doesn’t even make internal theological sense, but is illustrative of the great depth of historical ignorance some of these folks maintain.

        As the saying goes, never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence.

        • docbill1351
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

          I guess I mostly deal with professional YEC’s! They’ve got Google and Wiki and all the other info we do. McLeroy has had this stuff explained to him time and time again. Certainly, the YEC’s who make money off of creationism are dishonest to the bone, but it’s a living. Someone has to vacuum the bottom.

          For the rest, I can’t say that I’ve known a YEC who has “seen the light,” although some of the people who post at the Panda’s Thumb have expressed that narrative, so I believe it happens.

          I would side with Ben in the #6 thread that they cling to YEC notions simply because they are too difficult to let go of, and recognize their religious house of cards has no foundation, and not even a Frank Underwood to run things.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted April 27, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

            Hi docbill:

            Love your stuff, as always. For the record, I’m an ex-YEC; I know there are at least a few others on this web site, and reasonably sure that that is actually more than just a few.

            • Posted April 27, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

              I was one, but I quickly dispensed with it when I learned the facts as they exist rather than the facts as invented by apologists. I suspect a large number of people are in the same situation, simply shielded from the facts. I don’t understand how people who have been presented with the facts repeatedly maintain their YEC position. It is stark denial at best, blatant dishonesty at worst.

  10. Posted April 27, 2016 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Most likely, McLeroy believes Jonah survived three days in the stomach of a whale, so I doubt he is an expert on whale morphology.

  11. kieran
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Or what happens to the buoyancy of a whale in flood water?

  12. eric
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Complete aside, but from the sleeve poking out it looks like Satan is wearing an original series Star Trek uniform.

  13. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a different way of viewing religion and its adherents – conspiracy theory.

    If you ascribe all of life’s happenings to ‘them’, or in this case ‘Him’, then everything *must* fit into the conspiracy theory. Muddled sacred texts, check. Hidden mastermind with a very definite secret goal in mind, check. Good and bad things happening because of the actions of secret agents, check. Only a few special people realise the nature of the conspiracy, check.

    So Creationist believes contrary evidence is planted or fabricated. Check.

  14. ladyatheist
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    What would happen in 1,000,000 generations if only people with Downs Syndrome mated?

  15. RGBowman
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    Well, blast!
    That to the paper wasn’t free. I did find it at Cal Tech.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Obfuscation, they name is Don McLeroy:

    Considering Carl Sagan’s “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” Jon Peter’s video fails Sagan’s test for whale evolution; he doesn’t realize he has not presented very much evidence.

    Since evolution presents an observable natural mechanism, no biologist consider its predictions extraordinary. On the contrary, they consider the evidence overwhelming.

    And what would McLeroy suggest? An extraordinary claim of magic intervention, with absolutely zero evidence!

    Even a child can add that one up. Too bad McLeroy can’t.

    For example, when discussing hind limb atavisms, Peter’s observes: “Think about that. Remember, if it is a leg, think of the DNA it takes to produce a leg—bones, muscles, nerves, skin cartilage. That’s a lot of DNA.” I agree. But now consider the amount of genetic instructions and rewired DNA it takes for the transformation of an ancient land mammal into a whale. Now this is a lot of DNA! I do not know if he really has thought about the amount needed.

    The amount of change in existing genes to change, say, the blowhole position due to a development change, or the pelvis size, is presumably minute.

    To evolve the requisite genes in full is another amount of change altogether.

    No one knows, but we can guesstimate: a few base pairs/gene for small alterations vs a gene copy and alteration meaning addition of hundreds or thousands of gene pairs for new genes.

    I don’t know if McLeroy has really thought about genes and how they work under evolution.

    TL;DR: McLeroy is a pitiful excuse for a creationist apologetic. But that is as ‘good’ as they come.

  17. rickflick
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    McLeroy’s web site is called, “To My Listening Ear”, but his approach could best be described as closing his eyes, thumbs in the ears, chanting, “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!…”

  18. Diana MacPherson
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    The horns are a nice touch, Pliny!

  19. Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Is McLeroy’s God a Cosmic Prankster?

    If I were an omnipotent being who will be around for all eternity and humans were my prize creation, I sure as hell would be a prankster. Humans are very easy to fool. I might even take a shot at fooling them into believing in my existence!

    Henceforth, this shall be known as The Argument from Mischievous Chicanery. All other arguments are contained within a proper subset of this one.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Hate to burst your bubble, but it’s trivially demonstrable that your “Argument from Mischievous Chicanery” is, in fact, itself a subset of the “Argument Over Mucilaginous Chicory.”

      Cheers,

      b&

      >

      • Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        That argument is only going to get you into a sticky situation, which never works out when your opponent uses The Argument from Mendacious Chivalry.

        • Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

          That’s where one turns to the Application of Medicated Chives in order to silence the Annoyingly Meddlesome Chowderhead!

          b&

          >

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      Closely related to the argument from jiggery pokery.

      • Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        Augmented jiggly pork bellies?

        b&

        >

  20. Vaal
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s always fun when talking to a creationist to draw out the vacuousness of their “explanation” for the variety and features of earth’s life forms.

    Take any single creature, e.g. the whale, and one can ask “Why are there whales?”
    Evolution theory actually answers that question. All the theist can say is “Because God made whales.”

    Using evolution theory, we can delve into all sorts of features of every creature to answer the question “Why THIS feature, not THAT feature?” (E.g. why do whales breath air, not water like other fish. Why do whales swim moving vertically, unlike fish, why do whales have a hand-bone structure, unlike fish…)

    Not only does evolution provide answers, the answer spread in fecundity into the rest of nature, providing ever more answers to such questions.

    But ask the same questions to the theist – e.g. why do whales breath air instead of water? – and all he can offer is “Because God did it that way.” Replace evolution with theism, and you replace the massive interconnecting realm of scientific answers with the same, single, repeated answer “Because God made it that way.”

    Sorry creationists, nah, we already passed through those periods of ignorance. Stop rallying to get them back again and start catching up.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Your line of reasoning is more or less why I questioned creationism. I always looked at the diversity of life on the planet and asked, “Why the hell did God make that?” The stock Creationist answer is so that we can experience His glory, but this is not a satisfying answer when considering that there’s life 6 miles under the surface of the ocean, yet the point of Biblical authority is so that we can be redeemed. Don’t even start to consider the existence of these life forms as they pertain to Noah’s Ark, or how we’re supposed to appreciate His glory as it pertains to flesh eating bacteria…

      • rickflick
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        Maybe He wanted to hide a few species here and there. Kind of like watching the kids hunt for Ēostre Eggs. Ēostre eggs?..Oh God…it must all be true…

      • Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

        Actually, I think it is worse than that. The creationist claims that (say) the whale proclaims the glory of god. However, that doesn’t explain why we have whales and not, say, schmales, instead. By contrast, evolution does that, by explaining that whales came from whale ancestors, etc. (and presumably also perhaps some selection pressure or whatever in this or that direction).

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. As Theodosius Dobzhansky said, nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

    • Roux Brownwell
      Posted April 28, 2016 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      If you persisted with the questions, eventually the answer would be something like: “Your questions indicate impiety! Stop asking questions!” I think at base, folks like McLeroy want everyone to forget these (to them) irrelevant details of the natural world in favor of getting right with Jesus.

  21. Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Look how much d*gs have changed in only a few hundred years. Granted it is not “undirected” evolution which has changed them, but 10 million years sounds plenty long enough to turn a racoon into a whale! Funny how creationists think the world can be made in 7 days, but 10 million years is too short a time for whales to evolve!

  22. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Hasn’t McLeroy just completely missed the point?
    It is not the amount of DNA at issue but that there is that amount of DNA for no purpose.

    If it were true that there is also a large amount of DNA needed for the transformation it doesn’t matter, because there is a purpose, the transition.
    The DNA is being used for something, unlike the DNA for the leg.

  23. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    This is really a straightforward example of the “argument from incredulity” analyzed by RationalWiki here.
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Argument_from_incredulity

    Against this I like Michael Shermer’s point (in his book “Why Darwin Matters”) that one argument for evolution is convergence of evidence from multiple independent lines of inquiry, also known as “consilience”. As Wikipedia puts it,
    “when multiple sources of evidence are in agreement, the conclusion can be very strong even when none of the individual sources of evidence is significantly so on its own”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consilience

  24. Linn
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 4:12 am | Permalink

    I don’t have an advanced education in evolution or biology except for what I learnt through school and university, but even a child in primary school knows enough about evolution to say that Mcleroy is an idiot.
    I could give this response to my cousins 8year old daughter and she would say that he’s wrong even though she wouldn’t yet be able to explain why he’s wrong. They learn this stuff in primary school. I wonder what school Mcleroy went to.

    Like others have posted further up, Mcleroy clearly thinks that whales needs more DNA than any other animal because they are so big. It’s like kindergarten logic.

  25. Mike
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    These idiot Creationists do not have a problem explaining anything, God did it ! no explanation needed, I don’t know why people bother engaging with them.!

  26. Lee
    Posted April 28, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    In the creationist mindset, human intelligence was given to man to glorify God, not to seek truth for its own sake. If there were ever a piece of physical evidence that supported creationist doctrines, creationists would be all over it. Science would be their best friend. But in the absence of such evidence, science has to be made to bend to doctrine.

  27. jeffery
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    If you enjoy debating these people, CNS (Christian News Service) is good for lots of absurd articles about things like the immanent demise of Evolutionary Theory, how America has been abandoned by God for its wicked ways; how Christians need to “take back” America, etc. (it’s kind of like HuffPo for fundamentalist Christians), with comments on Disqus. Interestingly, about 75% of the comments are from religious skeptics, atheists, and backers of E.T. (I credit CNS with their extreme tolerance for opposing viewpoints to their articles- some of the commenting gets far nastier than ever would be allowed here). It’s always good for a few laughs in the evening to see what the fools have written (CNS sends you updates showing your comments and inviting you to continue the discussion) and toss in a few more jibes.
    One particular type of Creatard commenter that I see appearing more frequently I call the “Question Troll”: knowing they don’t have squat in the way of a real explanation, they subscribe to the belief that if enough “holes” can be poked in E.T. that Creationism will somehow win by “default” and devote themselves to an endless series of questions, trying to find some weak point.
    Of course, all these questions concern data that they could easily look up themselves, but so long as they’re asking questions, they don’t have to supply any answers!


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