Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ray Comfort's Idiotic Challenge

Over at Dispatches, Ed Brayton reports on Ray Comfort's $10,000 Evolution Challenge. As is the norm with such challenges, they tend to only excite the mouthbreathing fans, and expose the collosal ignorance of, the offerer. Ray Comfort does not dissappoint:

The $10,000 Offer
A transitional form (or missing link) is an example of one species "evolving" into another species. Excited scientists thought they had found one when they discovered "Archaeopteryx." The fossil led to the theory that the dinosaurs did not become extinct, but rather all turned into birds. The Field Museum in Chicago displayed what was believed to be an archaeopteryx fossil on October 4-19, 1997. It was hailed as "Archaeopteryx: The Bird That Rocked the World." However, Dr. Alan Feduccia (evolutionary biologist at the University of North Carolina), said, "Paleontologists have tried to turn Archaeopteryx into an earth-bound, feathered dinosaur. But it's not. It is a bird, a perching bird. And no amount of 'paleo-babble' is going to change that." [Science, February 5, 1993]. So here's my challenge: I will give $10,000 to the first person who can prove to me that they have found a genuine living transitional form (a lizard that produced a bird, or a dog that produced kittens, or a sheep that produced a chicken, or even as Archaeopteryx--a dinosaur that produced a bird). Species do not cross, no matter how long you leave them. The whole of creation is proof that evolution is truly "a fairytale for grownups."

It is troubling how consistently creationists/Intelligent Design proponents misrepresent their opponents' positions. Little indicates bullshit is to follow, with more consistency, than a creationist saying "evolution says..." Isn't there something in their theology about not bearing false witness? Was it not the great Christian philosopher Thomas Aquinas who believed one should know one's opponent's argument well enough to present it before criticizing it? Well, when scientists have written, clearly and plentifully, what evolution is, and you claim they say something else, is that not bearing false witness? Is lying for Jesus OK? I doubt he would agree. I doubt Aquinas would either. I suspect he took his duty to avoid that sin pretty seriously.

Such is the case with Comfort's challenge. It's a nonsense misprepresentation of what evolution is. I'll leave the fisking of his flawed version of the archaeopteryx story to those more suited to the technical issues. I'm attacking the basic premise of the challenge. Nothing in evolution says anything about one species giving birth to another one. In fact, if this happened, it would be proof AGAINST evolutionary theory, which says that speciation is something that occurs in tiny increments over vast time. There is vast evidence that occurred, complete with many, many transitional fossils. Just nary one like Mr. Comfort describes. So he made up something that no one believes exists and claims that is what it would take to prove evolution occurred. Liar or simply ignorant? You be the judge.

If you still aren't convinced, think about it this way. Do you believe all humans have a common ancestor? Surely you do. If you agree with Mr. Comfort you probably name them "Adam" and "Eve". Well, it stands to reason that you believe Africans, Europeans, and Asians descended, within a "kind" if you like, from those ancestors, correct? There are no other creation events mentioned in your theology, they had to, at least according to your views.

So prove it, Mr. Comfort's way.

Show me a transitional form akin to "a dog that produced kittens". Show me a European woman that gives birth to African babies. You can't? Why not? Do you prefer Mr. Cameron's example of a "crocoduck"? Fine, then show me a person with the head of an African and the body of an Asian. What, none of those either? Well, then you must be wrong about there being an Adam and Eve.

That's not an analogy. That is EXACT argument Ray Comfort makes, just applied to us. Stupid, isn't it? Really stupid, and not at all representative of evolutionary theory. No Ray, the "fairytale for grownups" isn't evolution, it is that quaint book of fictional tales written many hundreds of years ago by ignorant desert tribesman, from which you get your science. Get whatever spiritual inspiration from it you like, just never forget that it is neither a history text, nor a scientific treatise. Your ignorant denial of evolution, based on that timely tome, stands as evidence, as does your challenge.

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