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Things Creationists Say

Buzzfeed asked a bunch of creationists who were at the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on Tuesday to make some signs with questions they’d like to ask of those who accept evolution. The results were pretty much exactly what you’d expect, which was serious ignorance. Like this one:

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No, it doesn’t. Next.

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Seriously?

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Congratulations. You’ve replaced thinking with repeating bumper stickers.

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This is a great example of what I have long called virulent ignorance. It isn’t just that this person is ignorant about anthropology, though she obviously is. It’s that she has swallowed whole a bunch of false claims and myths that give her the illusion of knowledge. It simply isn’t true that Lucy is the only hominid fossil we have. It isn’t even vaguely related to the truth. But her Sunday school teacher or her minister or Ken Ham himself told her, “There’s no evidence at all of human evolution. The only thing they’ve found is Lucy and that was just an ape.” And she believed it. A related one:

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I don’t even know what that means. Lucy is the name of a specific fossil. Of course we’ve only found one of that particular fossil. We have other fossils of the same species, however. Again, virulent ignorance.

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*sigh* But here’s the thing. None of these people are hopeless, though the older ones may well be. When I was 14 or 15 years old, I actually used to argue against evolution with the “why are there still apes” line. I just didn’t know any better. By the time I was 17, I knew it was nonsense. Ignorance is not necessarily stupidity.

Comments

  1. Doc Bill says

    What I find most disturbing is that most of these questions, possibly all of them, are not original. These kids are simply writing stuff they’ve heard in church, from Hambo or elsewhere.

    What do any of these godbots know about thermodynamics, a subject you get introduced to as a sophomore or junior in college physics and chemistry? (or earlier if your mileage varies)

    Ignorance is one thing and can be fixed, but the total lack of curiosity, ability to think for themselves and complete reliance on authority is far more dangerous and possibly permanent. They’ll have to be told how to do everything for the rest of their lives. Sad.

  2. iknklast says

    My father asked me the monkey question after my dissertation defense. I’m sure he thought he’d stumped me. I answered him, patiently, though I know it did no good. He will continue to parrot that line. My father is an extremely intelligent, highly educated man who nonetheless believes in God said it, I believe it, that’s it. To give him some credit, though, he does believe in an old earth (a day is like a thousand years…).

  3. says

    “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

    surely the short answer is that there aren’t still ‘monkeys’: at least not the ones we evolved from.
    …and to make it a bit longer: the ‘monkeys’ that present day monkeys evolved from aren’t either.

  4. Chiroptera says

    Isn’t the development of an adult human being from a single egg cell a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? All of modern embryology is wrong! That’s why I’m pro-abortion.

  5. colnago80 says

    Re lldayo @ #3

    Phil Plait also answered the questions. I had a problem with his response to question #6 on the big bang. there is actually a quite plausible hypothesis as to how the universe came into existence.

    http://goo.gl/tW8qL8

  6. A Masked Avenger says

    surely the short answer is that there aren’t still ‘monkeys’: at least not the ones we evolved from.

    That’s true–but bear in mind, there’s no special reason that there couldn’t have been present-day monkeys who had descended more or less unchanged from the common ancestor species. All it would require is sufficiently stable conditions, somewhere in their habitat, for them to remain the best adapted to their niche.

    My new favorite comeback is, “If Americans came from Europeans, why are there still Europeans?” The situation is perfectly analogous, despite the lack of a speciation event.

  7. Doubting Thomas says

    So there was a family that for generations worked as blacksmiths. Their name was Smith. Each child was taught the trade and followed the families traditional vocation. But one of the children decided to study medicine instead, became a doctor and had children and grandchildren of his own. Those children followed their parents vocation and became medical doctors. Now there are lots of Dr. Smiths.

    Why are their still blacksmiths?

  8. A Masked Avenger says

    Note: I’m assuming that the common ancestor species would in fact be classified as a monkey. It seems a safe enough assumption that the common ancestor of New World and Old World monkeys would be classified as a monkey.

    I realize that addressing “why are there still monkeys” involves addressing at least two fallacies, one of them being the confusion between modern and ancestral species, and using “monkey” to describe monkey-like ancestors of modern monkeys would tend to exacerbate that confusion.

  9. sinned34 says

    I read elsewhere a comment that I agreed upon with the Nye/Ham debate: Creationists build themselves a little bubble whereby they avoid hearing anything that challenges their beliefs. These little sayings you see here are exactly the kind of thing that they find so convincing, and they get so surprised when people who don’t share their beliefs don’t find these arguments very compelling.

    I also remember saying stupid shit like this when I was a creationist. It embarrasses me now that I know better, but at the time I thought these were strong arguments against evolution, cosmology, or any other science that threatened my beliefs that the world was less than 10,000 years and that God created Adam and Eve directly by casting Animate Corpse on some mud and a spare rib.

    The one saving grace of the debate is that some of these people probably heard rebuttals to their uninformed ideas for the first time ever. Hopefully at least one of them learned something from it.

  10. raven says

    “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

    If Protestants came from Catholics, then why are there still Catholics?

    Isn’t the development of an adult human being from a single egg cell a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

    It’s also a huge increase in complexity. Clearly impossible. It’s also a myth that you can plant seeds in the ground and end up with wheat fields and trees.

  11. sinned34 says

    Note: I’m assuming that the common ancestor species would in fact be classified as a monkey.

    Humans are monkeys, but don’t try to tell the creationists that. I recall having a discussion with a member of my family who insisted that humans weren’t animals. He wouldn’t even agree that we are mammals, for fear that it might contradict his beliefs and give ammunition to the idea of common decent.

  12. Randomfactor says

    They’ve been told that all the fossils of Lucy’s species belong to a single individual skeleton and that’s the only one found. That’s why she features so prominently in their shared delusion.

  13. says

    A lot of these people crave certainty and simplicity. It is simply easier to just point to Genesis and say “that’s all I need to know.”

  14. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    I ran the “why are there still monkeys?” question past my daughter when she was about 8 years old. (I’d just heard Larry King ask it the previous week.) Not only did she immediately see how silly a question it was, she went on to give a pretty good layman’s description of allopatric speciation – not, of course, that she called it that. I think of that moment any time I’m tempted to despair of the next generation.

  15. raven says

    They’ve been told that all the fossils of Lucy’s species belong to a single individual skeleton and that’s the only one found. That’s why she features so prominently in their shared delusion.

    That was true, the day they found the Lucy skeleton.

    It’s not true today. They’ve found a lot more A. afarensis fossils. It’s simply a lie by people who won’t spend 15 seconds looking it up on Google.

  16. DysgraphicProgrammer says

    > “If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?”

    If you were born from your cousin, then why is you cousin still alive?

  17. escuerd says

    sinned34 @ 17:

    Humans are monkeys…

    Well, we’re generally classified as apes, not monkeys. But if you insist that “monkey” refer to a monophyletic group containing old and new world monkeys, then it would certainly include us apes too.

  18. Pieter B, FCD says

    While some of those people are young enough that they might start thinking critically about evolution, about half seem to have reached an age where they’re unlikely to change their ways. Another sad thing is that several of those photos are of people using arguments Ham’s own website says should not be used. They haven’t looked deeply enough to find that advice, but they probably think their questions are “checkmate, heathens!”

  19. sinned34 says

    Escuerd @ 24:

    Well, we’re generally classified as apes, not monkeys.

    I was responding in the same simplistic manner to which the original “if we evolved from monkeys” question was postulated. But your response is more accurate.

  20. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    Ignorance is not necessarily stupidity.

    In this context it is, both in terms of emotional intelligence and critical thinking. That’s because creationists predominately advocate or directly abuse kids due to their promotion of policies that deny kids a proper education. Creationists also support politicians that are anti-science. Both observations reveal stupidity and not mere ignorance. Their justifications for holding these indefensible positions also fail remedial-level critical thinking, that’s also stupid.

  21. peterh says

    “Ignorance is not necessarily stupidity.”

    No, it’s not. Ignorance can be overcome. Stupidity can’t be fixed.

  22. Curt Cameron says

    A Masked Avenger wrote:[blockquote]I realize that addressing “why are there still monkeys” involves addressing at least two fallacies, one of them being the confusion between modern and ancestral species, and using “monkey” to describe monkey-like ancestors of modern monkeys would tend to exacerbate that confusion.[/blockquote]
    The question is such a joke among the science-literate because there’s something going wrong with that person’s assumptions that led to the question, but it’s so far off-base that it’s not even clear where they went off track.

    In addition to the two you named, another (and I think more common) one is that creationists tend to think of evolution as animals progressing towards something like humans, the obvious pinnacle of all the species. If our group of monkey ancestors could do it, then the fact that other groups didn’t disproves the whole idea!

  23. Nemo says

    When I was 14 or 15 years old, I actually used to argue against evolution with the “why are there still apes” line.

    Ah, at last, someone I can ask directly!

    Ed, when you said this — what did you mean by it? Never having been a creationist, I struggle to understand some of their thinking, particularly how this question is meant to be a “gotcha”. (That is the idea, right? I’m not even totally sure of that.) I’ve yet to see it explained properly, only debunked. There are obviously hidden assumptions behind the question, but I don’t clearly understand them. Can you explain what this question meant to you, at a time when you felt it was meaningful?

  24. Michael Heath says

    peterh writes:

    Ignorance can be overcome. Stupidity can’t be fixed.

    Some forms of ignorance can’t be fixed. That’s because these types of individuals don’t possess a sufficient amount of integrity, or perhaps other necessary attributes, to consider information that threatens their current faith/beliefs.

  25. Michael Heath says

    Nemo,

    The creationists I knew in meat world that used this the, “why are there still monkey’s” objection were simply ignorant of nearly all facts related to evolution. They didn’t realize that populations can and did become geographically segregated, that environments change and change differently in the varying locations where these populations have become separate. These creationists instead have a very simplistic view of evolution. That populations remain together and environments don’t change. The latter defect is most likely caused to falsely thinking that Noah’s flood happened a mere few thousand years ago where the earth hasn’t had any climatic changes. Let’s recall that YECs reject even the last ice age, at the least the ones I grew up with did.

    One of the biggest current threats I see to YEC is how much information regarding paleoclimates is being reported in the main stream media. Which also threatens denialists like this forum’s lancifer’s false claims regarding climate sensitivity. Imagine being a YEC and seeing a TV news segment showing an ice core from 800,000 years ago.

  26. evodevo says

    The “why are there still monkeys” meme is based on a widespread misapprehension of how evolution works … even non-fundie members of the general public are mistaken in this regard, I guess due to the abysmal state of biological education in our public/private schools.
    It is one of the first things I have to address in my college bio courses – POPULATIONS EVOLVE, INDIVIDUALS DON’T. I guess because of those drawings of primitive apes evolving into humans, or fish morphing into amphibians (see Carl Sagan, etc.) . No one explains that these are short-hand references only, and the failure to explain the mechanisms of evolution is but one direct cause of our peculiarly American resistance (as compared to the rest of the developed world) to the theory. Very few high school graduates could adequately explain the process, and the same goes for the college-educated. At the public school level, it is usually glossed over very quickly – or you get nasty phone calls from fundie parents AND the administrators – and at the college level, especially the community college level, it often gets ignored or discussed so briefly no one comes away with any real understanding. Some of my fellow college instructors let it slide, preferring not to stir the pot in our small, fundie-infested community, but I INSISTED that my students understand and regurgitate it, regardless of their fundie leanings/objections. I told them they could “believe” what they liked outside the classroom, but in here they were learning science, not superstition, and there WILL be a quiz! I got away with that for several years with no repercussions, but I was teaching at the college level, not public schools, where the situation is a lot more tricky.

  27. Lofty says

    The reason that YECs think the monkey s>>>humans argument is so funny is that they believe in the doctrine of :”kinds”, that is all monkeys are descended from the the two on Papa Noah’s Yark and it simply doesn’t register that the earth is vastly older than that.

  28. fwtbc says

    Ed, can you please add appropriate alt text to the images for those who can’t see/read them?

    Thanks.

  29. Childermass says

    “Starts With a Bang” article cited by lldayo:

    “For decades, Lucy was the only Australopithicus afarensis ever discovered, and the fact that the fossilized remains of even one such creature existed was seen as a remarkable serendipitous discovery. ”

    Lucy was not even the first remains of Australopithecus afarensis found. And a year after it was found, the remains of at least 13 individuals from that species were found in one locality. (This would go up to at least 17 many years later.) There are other finds in this time period as well. If we go a few years out, in 1992 a skull was found that is 18 years after Lucy which easily in there time frame of “decades.”

    Admittedly Lucy was the best find of that species every found. It should be noted that Lucy is not the best early hominin find any more. Little Foot, the Malapa fossil site, and the Rising Star Cave all have provided far more material.

    (I don’t see a way to comment and the Science Blogs version to lack the article.)

  30. dingojack says

    Childermass – I’m confused. You stated: “Lucy was not even the first remains of Australopithecus afarensis found”. But then you go on with “And a year after it was found, the remains of at least 13 individuals from that species were found in one locality….” [& etc.]

    The first sentence quoted needs some citations to support it, I’d say.

    Dingo

  31. colnago80 says

    Re Dachshund @ #39

    Childermass may be thinking of Australopithecus Africanus, a different species, which was discovered in the 1920s.

  32. peterh says

    @ #33:

    I did not mean my comment to be taken that ignorance will always be overcome, only that it can be overcome whereas stupidity cannot.

    I feel one reason such juvenile questions as those in the photos above keep coming around time after time after time is that the questioners are not looking for answers but confirmation. Anything not in accordance with their confirmation bias is simply filtered out and their little mutual admiration society trundles happily round and round in their go-nowhere echo chamber.

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