Monday, December 19, 2005

The all-time most ignorant creationist statement ever?

A couple of months ago, an article appeared in Esquire Magazine, entitled Greetings from Idiot America, which PZ Myers summarized rather nicely. Basically, the article was a broadside against "intelligent design" creationism and the current anti-science, anti-expertise atmosphere in this nation today. It was the kind of article that inspired many of us who are very concerned about the anti-science and anti-intellectual trends in the U.S. to pump our fists and yell, "F*ck, yeah!"

In the January issue of Esquire, readers' letters about that article were published. Most were supportive; however, the editors chose to include a couple of "cancel my subscription"-type letters from creationists. (I'm convinced they did this for laughs.) In the last of these letters, I found perhaps the most idiotic creationist attack on evolution that I have ever seen. It comes from someone named Rick Short of Windemere, FL:
If you truly wish to believe that you evolved from an ape, then go for it. My Bible says that we are made by a God who loves us. If evolution is true, then why stop here? Why not keep evolving into a superbeing that can fly, live without food or water, and not get sick? I find it hard to believe that the same magazine that published an excellent article on the life of Christ two years ago could take such a turn as this. If you're going to attack my faith and my God, then I don't want your magazine coming to my home. Cancel my subscription.
First off, I have to wonder what such a fundamentalist Christian is doing subscribing to a magazine like Esquire in the first place, which, besides featuring good articles on politics like Idiot America and useful articles on culture and clothes (most of which I clearly fail to take to heart, as anyone who's seen the way I dress would know instantly), usually also features one photospread a month of a scantily clad woman, a monthly sex column, and a fair amount of blatant materialism (articles about expensive audio, computers, and electronics, for example--some of my favorite types of toys). If none of that bothers him, one wonders why Rick would be so offended by a polemic against "intelligent design" creationism that he canceled his subscription but apparently was not offended by a seminude pictorial of Britney Spears from about a year ago or even of Jessica Biel in the very same issue that included Idiot America (an issue in which, by the way, Biel was billed as the "sexiest woman alive"). Apparently ogling scantily clad starlets and reading sex advice are just fine and dandy with Rick, but start attacking creationism and he gets really pissed off--pissed off enough, apparently, to give up ogling the scantily-clad starlets, I guess. (Or maybe Rick will subscribe to Maxim or Stuff, or other magazines of this type, as they dispense with political and social commentary altogether. On the plus side, unlike Esquire, they do not feature Chuck Klosterman's column every month.)

More interesting, though is that Rick has perhaps the most bizarre misunderstanding of evolution that I've ever encountered. He honestly seems to think that evolution can (1) be voluntary and (2) lead to traits that are biologically extremely implausible, if not altogether impossible, such as never needing food or water. Really, his statement reveals such a profound ignorance of what evolutionary theory says that my jaw practically hit the ground when I read it. It's on the same level as Kent Hovind's "Did you evolve from mud" or "Did you evolve from a rock" idiocy.

If anyone has a more idiotic creationist attack on evolution than the one by Rick Short, now's the time to tell me. I'd love to hear it. Can anyone top Rick Short's polemic?

18 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 12/19/2005 1:43 AM, Anonymous Skeptico said...

Funnily enough, nothing these wingnuts say surprises me any more.

 

At 12/19/2005 1:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evolutionblog has a link to The Eagle's Forum Court Watch:
http://www.eagleforum.org/court_watch/alerts/2005/dec05/12-13-05.html

"On Men and Monkeys: The Oldest Fight in the Culture War, II."

'Fact vs. Fiction #1 & 2' are genuinely strange.
VKW

 

At 12/19/2005 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always had a certain fondness for Ed Conrad's "Man as old as coal" brand of crazyness. I wonder if he's still posting all over Usenet or if he's moved on?

 

At 12/19/2005 9:31 AM, Blogger The Probe said...

Ed Conrad has not evolved away from Usenet.

 

At 12/19/2005 9:38 AM, Blogger The Probe said...

thanks for the tip on Eagle Forum. Dr. Armstrong is a loon...Google her for some good laughs.

 

At 12/19/2005 9:39 AM, Anonymous wolfwalker said...

Of all the objections to evolution I've ever encountered, two really stand out as superlatively ignorant.

1) the dude who insisted evolution could only be demonstrated by seeing a dog give birth to a cat. It may have been the same guy who declared the only "transitional form" he would accept was a hybrid between two modern animals such as a "dat" (half-dog, half-cat) or "cowhale" (half-cow, half-whale).

2) the chap who said with a straight face that all of palaeontology was bunk because a museum exhibit he'd seen once about "Lucy" said that only half the skeleton was real fossils, and the other half was casts created using symmetry and other clues on the discovered bones.

I reserve a separate classification for the young-earth creationists who declare "there hasn't been enough time for evolution to occur," then turn around and say that Noah's cargo aboard the Ark included only "basic kinds" and that whole families of modern animals then evolved from them in less than a thousand years: all 38 species of cats from one "cat pair," all 20-odd species of canine from one basic "dog pair," and so on. There's even one guy who says all turtles are descended from one basic "turtle pair" -- all turtles, from the Galapagos Land Tortoise to the the sea-turtles like Ridley's and Loggerhead. That kind of thing isn't merely ignorant, it's out-and-out stupid.

 

At 12/19/2005 10:33 AM, Anonymous Naked Ape said...

"a superbeing that can fly, live without food or water, and not get sick"
This line demonstrates two things:
First, these dolts don't have a clue about how natural selection works. (As if we decided to grow large brains and shed most of our hair.)
Second, they already have creatures like this in their fantasy literature, they call them angels.

Cheers,

Naked Ape

 

At 12/19/2005 10:38 AM, Anonymous Jeff Hebert said...

What I find particularly ironic about this gentleman's specific objection is that it is far more applicable to "Special Creation" than it is to natural evolution. If God really created us out of whole cloth, completely separate from the rest of the natural world, then why didn't HE make us not dependent on food or water, able to live long healthy life spans, not feel pain, or able to fly? Natural selection can only build on what has come before, so some completely out-of-the-blue feature like those he mentions is essentially impossible. Not so for God-Did-It.

The fact that we DON'T have such miraculous powers is (using the kind of peculiar logic employed in the letter) actually evidence that God DIDN'T do it.

 

At 12/19/2005 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite: "If man is descended from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"

I'm descended from Italians, yet stangely there are still Italians.

 

At 12/19/2005 10:49 AM, Anonymous NotThatMo said...

I had someone once tell me that they believed in evolution and that white people descended from lions and black people from bears. I was just so stunned. And she was so proud of how modern and scientific she was for believing in evolution. I didn't think to ask her about polar bears until later.

Peggy Noonan had a real howler recently, but google is failing me at finding it.

 

At 12/19/2005 12:23 PM, Blogger Rockstar Ryan said...

Orac:

Fundies Say the Darndest Things is your one stop to all things retarded in Creationist thinking.

 

At 12/19/2005 2:15 PM, Anonymous Magnus Malmborn said...

pygmies+dwarves

it just have to be the single kookiest argument ever...

 

At 12/19/2005 2:36 PM, Blogger Josh Rosenau said...

At a Kansas City hearing on the Kansas science standards, one guy said that if we taught his children evolution, they'd grow up to be immoral doctors and murder people ad lib.

 

At 12/19/2005 10:50 PM, Blogger Bronze Dog said...

"Why not keep evolving into a superbeing that can fly, live without food or water, and not get sick?"

1) Just because you can hide a comic book in your Bible during church doesn't mean it's also divinely inspired or whatever.

2) How do you know we're not already on our way there? ;)

3) We've already got airplanes and vaccines, so 1.8 out of three ain't too bad.

 

At 12/20/2005 1:55 AM, Blogger Tim said...

I'm pretty sure I've heard folks claim that Adam and Eve were immortal until they ate the apple.

One of the better fundie howlers I heard was on a Bible radio program I stumbled across several years ago. The host claimed the reason the animals on the Ark didn't eat each other was because creatures like lions weren't carnivores at the time. He didn't explain why they changed.

 

At 12/20/2005 3:20 PM, Anonymous Nozzer said...

Steven Pinker mentioned being presented with a similar objection once, along the lines of "If evolution can do so much, why hasn't any creature evolved the ability to teleport, or grow to fifty times its normal size?" Because those would be undeniably useful traits...

By the way, hi, I'm a newcomer to the site and very much enjoying your work.

 

At 12/20/2005 9:17 PM, Anonymous Dave Harmon said...

Re: JC mythology: yes, before the Fall, Adam & Eve were allowed to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life, presumably representing immortality. And disease would naturally be considered an affliction of the Fall.

As far as wingnuttery in general, consider that famous rule of logic: "Anything follows from a contradiction". I suspect that even on the psychological level, once someone emotionally commits to any belief that blatantly contradicts external reality, it "breaks" their reality-testing in general. After that, they can be made to believe anything....

Wolfwalker: For dude #1: you should've shown him a Basenji (a dog breed that "mews" and climbs trees) and a manatee ("sea cow"). ;-)

 

At 12/20/2005 10:05 PM, Blogger Bronze Dog said...

"If evolution can do so much, why hasn't any creature evolved the ability to teleport, or grow to fifty times its normal size?" Because those would be undeniably useful traits...

I don't know.

It'd take a lot of energy to power the Heisenberg compensators.

And growing would take a lot of pim particles, and have you priced those, lately? I'm not made of money! Shut up!

 

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