Tag Archives: Donald Prothero

A Faked Kooky Creationist’s Book Review

Please note that the book review below–funny as it is– was not written by a real creationist, but by a faker. See the comment section for the full correction.

I occasionally like to sift through the reviews on Amazon.com of good, evolution related books. I wholeheartedly recommend Evolution: What The Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero. Although, one of the reviewers, someone named Sam Wood, decided it deserved only a single star and a ‘philosophical’ thrashing that is comical to behold. I can only assume it’s a real review and not a parody. I’ve emphasized my favorite parts in bold.

This book is the latest attempt by Big Science to put forth the Big Lie of evolution. Humble believers, the only real skeptics left, are supposed to simply cower in the face of the evidence. But here’s why you shouldn’t believe the Big Lie:

1) The Bible says that God created all earth’s creatures. Since the Bible is the word of God, I think it has slightly more authority than a goofy looking dingus named Prothero.

2) No one has ever seen evolution in action. Dogs don’t turn into birds, and mice don’t turn into armadillos.

3)If natural selection is true, it means that human minds evolved from lower animal minds, which means they are highly fallible. Yet evolutionists tell us to use these very minds to agree with them . If evolution is true, it must be false. That’s a contradiction, therefore Jesus died for my sins and God created the earth.

4) Where are all the fossils? The only fossil science has ever found is Piltdown man, and that was fake. Christians, however, have the Shroud of Turin, a fossil of Jesus. We also have fossil fingers of many saints. The fossils say that Jesus existed, the saints are holy, and Darwin was wrong.

5) It’s very hard to understand how evolution would work, while it’s easy to understand that God created the world. By the principle of Occam’s Razor, it therefore follows that God is the Creator.

6) Evolution is incorrect, and it is illogical to believe in something incorrect. Since the opposite of something incorrect must be correct, God and not Darwin or dinosaurs must be the creator.

7) Increasing evidence shows that Noah’s flood actually desposited[sic] all the layers of soil that geologists think happened over millions of years. The flood would have killed the dinosaurs, had dinosaurs ever existed, but they haven’t. A review of books shows that no one ever talked about dinosaurs until after Darwin, when they became part of the argument for evolution. Convenient, huh?

8. Evolution became popular around the time that scientists were becoming immoral and wanted to stop hanging around in labs and start having more sex. Evolution is the perfect excuse, since we’re all animals we should do it like animals. Christians find this offensive, since Mary was a virgin. If you suggest otherwise, it means you are thinking about the vagina of the mother of God, which is a sin.

So for all of these reasons, I call on Christians to reject Prothero and all of his works, and all of his minions. Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, the 12 apostles, and all of the archaegels[sic] and God the father are part of a holy plan which did not happen through evolution, so stop saying things that make God angry and vote McCain/Palin ’08.

After ingesting all that, I find my brain is awash in a dreamy haze of perturbation. So many questions remain unanswered: Is this sinister “Big Science” anything like Big Tobacco? Are all the non-existent fossils a drug induced hallucination delivered through my chlorinated, tap water? Is believing something to be correct both incorrect and illogical? Is my plastic dinosaur collection more valuable now that dinosaurs never really existed –they’re mint in the box? And are my impure thoughts about Mary, the mother of god, a sin if Aristotle is involved somewhere in the mix –if you know what I mean?

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Richard Dawkins Shows Us Some Intermediate Fossils

It might have been more educational if Richard Dawkins –or that over-simplified museum chart– had explained that paleontologists aren’t so much concerned with complete transitional fossils –or intermediates– but the transitional characteristics displayed in the fossils. Fossils are after all collections of physical traits. But Dawkins is countering creationists, who are so often ridiculously literal in their interpretation of evolution that they imagine the fossil evidence for the transition between two distinct species as an exact in-between –for example, half dinosaur and half bird. Evolutionary history, though, is bushy and convoluted; a particular species may only bear an ancestral trait(s) that’s been slightly modified, or a novel trait(s) that is in its incipient state. That a species of dinosaur had proto-feathers –and not necessarily fully functional wings– is in itself profoundly informative. No cartoonish hybrid is needed as proof of evolution. The same goes for those floating pigs of the sea, those media hogs, those cousins of the hungry hungry hippo –the whales.

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Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen (R) Loses Mind

Comedy courtesy of DesertPhile

Prepare to sigh with frustration at how effortlessly an idiot can gain a political seat. Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen (R) says the Earth is 6,000 years old. Surely, the turnip truck that delivered her into this world yesterday can just as easily take her back as defective merchandise; she must have been bruised when she fell off the back.

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The Lazy-Minded Creationist

What I find most irritating about debating creationists isn’t their ignorance of general science; we all don’t know things. What’s most annoying is their apparent lack of curiosity. If I don’t know something I like to do research. But if creationists don’t know something, they often pretend that they do know it, proudly and dogmatically, even if it’s blatantly wrong.  This behavior reminds me of something Ron Reagan once said about his father, former president, Ronald Reagan:

He knew what he knew, and he didn’t want to know any more.

Well, I found a post titled The Great Debate: Genesis or Science? by Allen Epling, a man claiming to be a former, public school, science teacher, and believer in the inerrancy of the Bible. He begins by declaring his apathy toward science:

Why is it so important that we know how man got here? To believers it shouldn’t matter so much HOW [his emphasis], as much as WHY.

He then resorts to revisionist history to make religion appear accommodating.

In the past 300 years we have seen several instances where true science has advocated an opinion that is different from the Church’s, with the result that the Church has adjusted its interpretation of the Word of God to reflect a more modern view.

The Catholic Church has adjusted its position, reluctantly and belatedly, on several issues, like evolution. But how have fundamentalist Christians –who believe the Earth is 6000 years old and who think The Flintstones is a documentary– ever adjusted their “interpretation of the Word Of God to reflect a more modern view”? Biblical literalism doesn’t sound objective.

Allan Epling’s continues with another historical inaccuracy:

Galileo was threatened with excommunication from the Church if he didn’t recant his statements that the moon was full of craters, even though his telescope clearly showed their existence.

No, Galileo was accused of heresy for stating that the Earth revolved around the sun in his book Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. After being threatened with imprisonment and death, he recanted, and was given the lesser sentence of house arrest, which lasted almost 10 years. In 1992 –350 years later– the Catholic Church apologized for the incident.

And as a former, physics teacher, Allan Epling should know better than to make the following ridiculous statement, which turns an aspect of quantum physics into philosophy.

Many scientists firmly advocate a “certainty” that there is no God, in spite of believing ‘religiously’ in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal. In the forefront of today’s science is a body of evidence, catagorized[sic] as Quantum Mechanics, that makes clear that nothing in the entire universe is certain but is determined by a “probability factor”. Any scientist that is certain about anything is admitting hypocracy[sic] to his own field of study.

All Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states is that “the more precisely the POSITION [of a particle] is determined, the less precisely the MOMENTUM is known”. It has nothing to do with the general reliability of scientific evidence.

And where would creationists be without quote mining. Allen Epling delivers with the ubiquitous Einstein citation.

The truth must come from both sides without the barriers that now exist that prevent us from seeing that truth. Einsten[sic] said that “Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame”. How true.

It’s fairly obvious Einstein wasn’t specifically paying homage to Christianity, but to the fantastical nature of religion in general, as a source of inspiration and imagination. Nowhere in Einstein’s work will we find the religion variable; there is no equation E=MC2 + God.

The last paragraph of Epling’s post sums up creationism in a nutshell:

Each week a new topic will be dealt with presenting, hopefully, a balanced, educated viewpoint, while ALWAYS upholding the divinity and sanctity of the Bible. The basic tenet of this article is that every word of the book of Genesis is factually, historically, and scientifically true.

What Epling is really saying is that science should accommodate Christianity, while Christianity should concede nothing.

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Channel Surfering For Creationism

This afternoon, after wasting several minutes of my life being appalled at Glenn Beck’s smarmy self-satisfied monologue on FOX News, I decided to surf the channels for some old-fashion creationism. Within a few touches of the remote button, I came across CMT (Country Music Television) –not a channel I’ve ever cared to watch before, for fear of having to hear Toby Keith sing about kicking liberals in the head with his cowboy boots.  But what I stumbled upon was a reality show called Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy. In the episode (titled, Chaffee/Hornaday) a liberal mommy from Georgia, who is also a die-hard, Star Wars fan, temporarily switched places with a mommy from a conservative Christian, Kentucky family. One particular moment stood out.

The conservative husband while driving the liberal mommy through town pointed out his family’s church as a place of interest. And that was enough to broach the subject of religion and evolution.

She said she didn’t care for churches.

He asked if she was an evolutionist.

She said yes; her family accepts science and Darwinism.

The Kentucky man then spoke up in a solemn tone and asked if he may say something on the subject. Without a thought he outright claimed there is no “absolute proof” for evolution. He knows so because his family subscribes to a Christian periodical called Creation Magazine. He then invited the liberal mommy to read it for herself –his family keeps a copy in the bathroom.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. How beautifully appropriate.  I can see it now –the juxtaposition of the crinkled heavily-read pseudo-scientific magazine against the shine of the toilet bowl; it speaks to me like a Monet seascape. It’s perfection. And yes, I can spare a square; I mean a page.

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The Great Darwinian Conspiracy

Dissect any creationist’s arguments and you’ll eventually uncover a belief in a worldwide Darwinian conspiracy. Scientists everywhere are hiding the truth of creation and teaching evolution as part of a vague shadowy plot to destroy religion and to corrupt the world’s youth with liberal ideas. Why should scientists do this? Is it for that sweet professorship level income? Is it to be in the presence of mobs of grateful undergraduate students? Or are all scientists radicals?

A better question is do scientists get along well enough to concoct a conspiracy? I’ve just finished reading The Earth Dwellers: Adventures in The Land Of Ants by Erich Hoyt. And featured in this book is entomologist Edward O. Wilson, who’s famous for creating the sub-field called sociobiology. One of the implications of sociobiology is that human behavior is partly genetic. Unfortunately, some people erroneously saw hints of social-Darwinism, racism, and sexism, in Wilson’s work. As a result, Wilson received nasty criticism and personal attacks not only from the public but from his colleagues at Harvard University. Two of his most vocal critics were fellow professors Stephen J. Gould and Richard C. Lewontin. Do you feel the love?

In the book, we also get a glimpse into Wilson’s feelings toward James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. The author writes:

Wilson found Watson the most unpleasant, scornful scientist he had ever met. Watson’s discovery [DNA structure] was so earth-shattering that he [Watson] became a “Caligula” who could do or say no wrong. In spite of Watson’s disdain, Wilson deeply admired the man’s accomplishment and even his sheer audacity. He credits Watson as his “brilliant enemy” or “adverse hero”.

This is just one example of conflict amongst scientists. The history of science is fraught with nasty disagreements. What good scientist wouldn’t disagree with a colleague in order to gain personal glory? If the evidence and data indicate a contrary opinion, then that’s the path one must take? Wilson found Watson “unpleasant”, but he still admired the man’s work. It’s the work that counts, not loyalty and ideology. Of course, scientists are human, and like everyone they have their biases. But most of the time they have no misgivings about following the data wherever it leads. This is why a worldwide conspiracy to hide the “truth of creation” simply wouldn’t work. And this is why evolutionary science couldn’t be suppressed in the 19th century.

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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Evolution: What The Fossils Say – A Great New Book

For X-Mas, I was delighted to recieve a copy of the new book by Donald Prothero, titled Evolution: What The Fossils Say and Why It Matters. Being unfamiliar with Prothero’s previous published works, I mistakenly took the book to be a pretty coffee table book about fossils. How wrong I was.

Donald Prothero is a professor of geology at Occidental College in Southern California, and he has written a whole list of books, from After The Dinosaurs: The Age of Mammals to The Evolution Of The Earth.

His latest book is a stimulating read. I’ve only just finished chapter 3, but I’m too excited to wait to review the whole thing. His style of writing to clear and to the point. And he knows how to introduce technical terms without overwhelming the reader. In the first chapter he explains the philosophy of science, which is very often misunderstood by the general public, especially creationists. Here is an excerpt in which he writes about science as a method and the meaning of the word theory:

…Science is not about final truth or “facts”; it is only about continually testing and trying to falsify our hypotheses, until they are extremely well supported. At that point, the hypothesis becomes a theory (as scientists use the term), which is a well-corroborated set of hypotheses that explain a larger part of the observations about the world. Some well-known and widely accepted theories are the theory of gravitation, the theory of relativity, and, of course, the the theory of evolution.

You can read a sample chapter (PDF Format) or view some of the color plates (PDF Format).

Here are a few of the other chapter titles: Life’s Origin, Cambrian “Explosion”… or Slow Fuse?, Spineless Wonders Of Evolution, Fish Tales, Dinosaurs Evolve and Fly, The Ape’s Reflection.

I’ll be back with more on this great book, because Prothero does a wonderful job crushing creationism with science, and he deserves to be applauded.

Editor

www.TheDarwinReport.com

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