A horse is a horse, unless of course…

…the horse is of course the famous Eohippus.

One of my favorite corners of the alternate universe that is creationism is where creationists get to talking about (denying) horse evolution. The fossil record for horses and their relatives (rhinos, tapirs and some extinct groups) is so well documented it is amusing seeing how creationists rationalize their way around the evidence and when I find something about horses on a creationist site I often take a look to see what sort of silliness they’ve gotten up to.

Case in point: Answers in Genesis put up a short piece on their site recently titled “Not Just Horsin’ Around” which directs their readers to a site called “eQuest 4 Truth.com”. They report that the owner of the website (Rebekah Holt) started it to “… steer young people away from the incorrect information that they receive in many public school textbooks and encyclopedias” and that the site “…helps refute the claim that the modern horse evolved from a much smaller, non-horse ancestor.”

On the site is a page titled “Horse Evolution – Fact or Horse Manure?” written by creationist Arthur Biele, who, judging by a Google search on his name, has been pestering people with nonsense in various internet discussion forums for years. His article here attacking the evidence for horse evolution is a barely readable hodgepodge of unsupported assertions, factual errors and standard quotes from “The Creationist Joke Book™”.

Given that there is so much creationist nonsense out there on the web I normally wouldn’t have taken as much time as I did to dissect it but since Answers in Genesis put their seal of approval on it I figured it would be worth the time.

OK, we’re off to the Eohippus races…

Read on»

I’m still here…

Sorry for the lack of new posts but I am working on about three different things right now (and remember I have a day job ;) ). One is a big post on fossil horses, another post has to do with ICR and tunicates and lastly I am supposed to be helping on a rewrite of the Talk Origins Archive FAQ on the Lewis Overthrust (hi John).

The horse piece is dragging on a bit as it involves an ongoing correspondence with people from two major museums and a major university, and I’ve had to make two trips to the local UC library to pick up relevant papers.

So please bear with me, and hopefully it will all be worth the wait.

ORFan genes and intelligent design

“When you said “ORFan”, did you mean “ORFan” – a gene unique to one species that appear to have no relatives in other species, or “OFTen”, frequently?” *

In a previous post about a Expelled Q & A event held at Biola University, I mentioned that Paul Nelson (of the Discovery Institute), who chaired the event, had said something about “orphan genes” in our after event discussions (I now know it is ‘ORFan’ rather than ‘orphan’) . Well he brought them up again in the comments section of that post and now

[ * My apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan ...and Musgrave.]

The Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism” list examined

In my review of the so called “Leaders Guide” (part 1 and 2) put out by the producers of the movie Expelled I addressed its reference to the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism” list.

L.G. More than 700 scientists have signed this statement!

A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism

“We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” (p.12)

To which I responded: “Yes they have a list of scientists, and many of them are the usual creationist suspects. Still others are scientists whose field of study is not particularly relevant to the subject of evolutionary theory. More importantly they constitute a tiny fraction of the global scientific community.”

Read on»

Evolution, racism and the Klan

With the movie Expelled resurrecting the shopworn creationist guilt by association argument that since Nazis and other racists have used [perversions of] evolutionary theory to rationalize their racism, then there must be something inherently wrong with evolution, I thought it might be enlightening to take a look at some of America’s home grown haters, like the Ku Klux Klan.

Given the ‘irrefutable evidence’ linking evolutionary theory to racism and antisemitism surely Klan groups must inevitably be hotbeds of evolutionists right? Well, let’s take a look at what one prominent Klan group, “The Knights Party” has to say about the subject on their web site:

We DO NOT believe in evolution. We believe that God created each race as we see it today and that NO race evolved from any animal.

When we barred the school house door to God, traditional Christian teaching, prayer and Bible reading, and opened the school house door to sexual perversion, condoms, evolution, and abortion counseling, we robbed our kids of their moral foundation.

Adam and Eve were not the progenitors of all races. Isn’t it amusing how on one hand the modern church fights against the idea of evolution and than on the other hand wants us to believe that all races evolved from one source.

[…] Now within the last hundred and fifty years a very dangerous idea began circulating in the Church – again brought on by Jewish fables which said that the Black race was the children of Ham who was cursed. I am sure you have heard this; that the whole world was under a flood and only 8 people survived. This causes problems because the church must then explain how all of the other races came into being. So they latch on to the idea that the three sons carried the genes from Adam and Eve which all of a sudden caused the three sons’ offspring to become the different races. We see the church teaching evolution again.

Yep, a bunch of materialistic “Darwinists” right there. How is it that we didn’t hear about this group in Expelled?

I feel like I need to go take a long shower now.

Expelled Q & A at Biola University

This last Monday (April 28th) I attended a Q & A forum on intelligent design (ID) creationism and the movie Expelled held at Biola University (La Mirada, CA) which I saw advertised over on Uncommon Descent by Paul Nelson (who told me he has my blog bookmarked; hi Paul):

…If you’ve got a burning question or two about the Expelled controversies. Darwin-to-Hitler, doesn’t Sternberg still have his Smithsonian position, the Pepperdine students were extras, the cell animation is plagiarized, Dawkins and P.Z. Myers and all the rest were tricked into granting interviews, Darwin’s Descent of Man was quote-mined, why didn’t Ben Stein just use Google Maps to find the Discovery Institute, ID is religious ’cause Expelled admits it, Yoko Ono is suing…whatevah.

Bring Your Questions for Profs. John Bloom, Mike Keas and Paul Nelson

Joining me to monitor the goings on were my friends Don Frack and Cal. State Fullerton Professor Jim Hofmann. Besides ourselves and the three panel members there were perhaps 20 other people in attendance.

Read on»