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Feb 23 2012

An anti-science cartoonist

AAAAAAAAAARGH! Someone is wrong on the internet, and I don’t know whether to scream or to facepalm! (I tried doing both at once, but then it just comes out as a muffled gargle.)

Please go look at this creationist comic called “How Darwin Got It Wrong”. It’s typical creationist garbage, and practically every panel is wrong, wrong, wrong…yet it purports to be an objective discussion of the scientific problems with evolution. The author, however, knows no biology at all.

Take this page (please).

Look at that one word balloon: “BUT IN MY OPINION THE WHEELS USED TO BE DOORS AND THE DOORS WERE ONCE WINDOWS!” Setting aside the anachronism of the car, Darwin would not have said that: he wasn’t expressing an opinion in his book, but marshaling the evidence of prior states with mechanisms of transformation. An evolutionary biologist would not claim that a car can change into anything at all, but that it’s descendants will always be derived from a car; we humans are mammals and our descendants will also be mammals, mammals are bilaterian animals and all of their descendants are bilaterian animals, and bilaterian animals are eukaryotes and all of their descendants will be eukaryotes. There is variation, but there are also constraints.

Now I know I’m supposed to be an educator, and ignorance should be something I patiently correct, but this page is so stupid and wrong it just makes me furious.

It doesn’t even get its premises right! Those aren’t all the different ways you can stack four blocks — the correct answer is 4!, or 24. And it doesn’t even make sense to argue that there is no information in the arrangement of the bits in the code — of course there is. If there wasn’t, we could just print out individual letters of the alphabet, dump them in a sack, and hand them to the snotty little kid in the cartoon, and tell him, “here’s your bible, go read it.”

And then…”EACH SPECIES HAS A SET NUMBER OF GENES.” No, it doesn’t. There are deletions and duplications, there are copy number variants, there are all kinds of ways gene numbers vary within populations. That statement is simply a lie.

And then the author indulges in a little begging of the question.

Imagine a form of inheritance that lost a gene every generation. Well then, smarty pants, E. coli, with less than 5000 genes, would be extinct within a few years! This guy has children; does he consider them inferior to him, because of the inevitable decay of their genes? It is simply not the case that genetic information cannot increase.

One more: this guy has loads of these dumb, ignorant cartoons all over the place, so here’s one with a classic quote mine.

I looked up the paper. Birch and Ehrlich did say that; it’s a paper criticizing fellow ecologists who use evolutionary assumptions to short-circuit the hard work of doing ecological analyses. Our cartoonist leaves off the next few sentences:

The cure seems to us not to be a discarding of the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory, but more scepticism about its tenets. In population biology, more work is need in elucidating the the general properties of populations, both those made up of two or more species, without reference to dogmas or guesses about how they evolved. First we need answers to questions such as (1) How frequently do populations become extinct in nature? (2) Do most populations have self-regulating properties? (3) How frequently do populations utilize the same limited resources in nature? (4) What kinds of selection pressure does such utilization impose on each population? (5) Is great reduction of gene flow necessary for differentiation of populations in nature? (6) How are community complexity and stability best defined and measured? (7) What is the relationship between complexity and stability? Then we can see how the answers fit into the modern synthesis.

That’s in Nature 214(5086):349-352. The idjit couldn’t even cite it properly; I suspect he never even read it.

But it’s a perfect example of what scientists do all the time: DOUBT. Don’t assume, test. The point of their criticism was to explain that evolution is not dogma and should not be used as such, and that the evaluation of the strength of evolutionary theory cannot be made by assuming it’s true, but by making real-world observations and assessing whether they fit the theory.

(Also on Sb)

124 comments

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  1. 1
    pentatomid

    What the fuck… They’re not even funny or anything. They’re just standard creacrap in cartoon form. It’s… It’s hideous.

  2. 2
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    Oh man, that’s horrible in every way.

  3. 3
    Nutmeg

    So. Much. Fail.

    This is why we need proper science education. Anyone who’s taken even one high school biology class could refute every argument this comic makes.

    On the bright side, the graphics are so bad that I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t already brainwashed would think this is a credible source.

  4. 4
    scholz

    I think you can imagine a sort of artificial selection going on in cars, which while not traditional evolution, does bear some resemblance.
    All modern cars “evolved” from carriages. The inherited certain features (the driver side, the width, etc)
    Additions like safety, speed, economy and such were selected by forces (mostly market ones).
    When those forces were less powerful (the oil gluts of the 80s and 90s) features like gas mileage didn’t have much selective force.
    I

  5. 5
    richardelguru

    Why does he seem to think that Darwin was a Lubavitcher?
    Is he anti-Semitic as well as stupid??

  6. 6
    LykeX

    I love the fact that he got the number of block combinations wrong. That’s so simple and he couldn’t even get that right. Maybe that’ll work as a hint to the smarter kids that this guy can’t be trusted.
    We can hope.

  7. 7
    interrobang

    When inanimate objects start reproducing the same way living things do, then stupid creationist arguments about cars and 747s and stuff might start being less stupid, but until then, probably the best response is “Hey, idiot, when was the last time you saw a baby car?”

  8. 8
    Glen Davidson

    And one of the greatest points is that by no means is the possible change unlimited.

    Evolution is quite limiting and predictive, while creationism/ID cannot explain the limitations of life at all.

    A boat can’t evolve into a car. But a lobe-finned fish can evolve into a tetrapod, mainly because it has fins that already can operate something like legs. Where are the radical shifts in life that are not uncommon in design?

    Glen Davidson

  9. 9
    The Lorax

    From a mechanical standpoint, it’s fun to take the forms and imagine what sort of pressures would produce other forms. Like, trees that grow taller, and animals that either grow taller, become better climbers, or what-have-you in order to adapt, yet they all start from the same thing, so that’s a constraint. It is terribly entertaining to imagine how plants and animals might change, and what might have pressured them to change into what we have today.

    … but it is not science. It’s daydreaming. You can take that and try to form hypotheses, but until you do tests and collect data, it’s nothing more than an entertaining past-time.

  10. 10
    Dick the Damned

    The truth is found in the bible. This book, written by god…

    Was the eejit that wrote this there to witness it? Well, that is one of their criteria for believing things. Feckin’ eejits.

  11. 11
    frog

    I remember the first time I came across someone on the internet who had swallowed this particular poison. He seemed to think that evolution meant a pile of bricks would spontaneously assemble into a house, and since that never happened…

    I didn’t even know what the hell to say to that other than “You clearly have no idea how evolution works.” I tried to give a simplified description of how a population with a genetic advantage in an environment will, in the long term, outbreed other populations. He said we don’t know that happens, because we’ve never seen it. I explained why we no longer use penicillin very much.

    A few years later I ran into the same guy and he had clearly gone to college and taken some real science classes. I don’t claim credit–he had to be listening in order to learn, so kudos to him for that.

  12. 12
    richardelguru

    @!? #7
    Fiat 500??
    :-)

  13. 13
    blindrobin

    The question that occurred to me at first glance was” “why is there a chasidic rabbi in a xtian cartoon about Darwin”? Then I realised that the author probably thought that Darwin was a rabbi and that evolution is a cabalistic cult fostered on the world by zionist bankers and the lizard people that make watches out of Swiss chocolate in Davos or something…

  14. 14
    richardelguru

    @blindrobin #13 (my #5)
    I’m glad I’m not the only one to think that!

  15. 15
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Damn.

    All the childish stupidity and cupidity of a Chick Tract with none of the What-the-Fuck moments, and none of the laugh-out-loud unintentional humour. This shit is priceless. Literally. It is worth nothing.

    I have run into a similar mindset as the one presented in these cartoons on numerous occasions. They know that the bible (or, rather, what they think of as the bible) was transcribed via a prophet from gods. Therefore no thinking was involved. It was strictly, and totally, revealed knowledge. And it is still treated that way.

    The Theory of Evolution, as elucidated by Darwin, is, of course, built on the shoulders of those who came before and built within the mind of Charles himself as he observed, recorded, and studied extant life. This was knowledge created through brilliance, hard work and observation. It was not suddenly revealed to him as in

    In my opinion, the wheels used to be the doors, and the doors were once windows/

    By reducing it to Darwin’s opinion, created without thinking as revealed knowledge, the creationists are able to portray the Theory of Evolution as a religion. And a failed religion, at that, since it does not mention Jesus, genocide or salvation, or any of the other good news of the bible.

    As I said (wrote?), I know people like this. They refuse to make judgements or decisions based on evidence. And the idea of formulating a theory to explain natural phenomena via observation is completely foreign to them.

    Bleah.

  16. 16
    boadinum

    Oh my lack of god, he makes YECs look brilliant. There is a link on his website titled “The Jews are Back” (I kid you not). While not overtly anti-semitic (based on a quick glimpse until my vomiting urge kicked in), it seems to propagate the idea that Jews should be tolerated (just) because the state of Israel is a prerequisite for “Da Rapture”.

    I feel sick again.

  17. 17
    Kevin, 友好火猫 (Friendly Fire Cat)

    @Scholz:

    Good explanation… but it looks like you didn’t finish.

  18. 18
    datasolution

    Why does he seem to think that Darwin was a Lubavitcher?
    Is he anti-Semitic as well as stupid??

    This.
    It can’t be a coincidence, I immediately thought it was about ultra-jews.
    And he looks goofy on top of that.

  19. 19
    redwood

    Isn’t the ending a bit bizarre? It’s one thing to trash Darwin (I think a lot of people would wonder why he’s so well known if he’s so wrong), but to say that sin “entered the world through humans” (the first virus?) and because of that the world is “deteriorating,” is quite scary. It makes it sound like each following generation is going to be worse off than the previous one. How would you like to read that as a kid? Maybe he later says that God stops this bad stuff happening, but then why say it’s going on in the first place? Lots of empty places in the logic, but then the old faithful “Godcouldwouldhadtoshouldhavedoneit” appears. How nice to have such a “deus ex machina” at hand, a literal one!

  20. 20
    gussnarp

    Wow, it’s so wrong on so many levels. My personal favorite is “de-volution”. You’ve taken that apart on the level of how evolution actually works, but it’s wrong on a more basic level, namely, that the very concept of “de-volution” is nonsensical. Evolution is change, not constant improvement or progress toward a goal. There’s no “de” to it, if, for example, and animal evolved from something like tiktaalik and eventually evolved into a terrestrial mammal, and then it evolved into an aquatic mammal and lost those hard earned legs and feet, this would not be “de-volution”, it would still be evolution even though it seemed to go “backwards” because there is no backward or forward, there is just change. It would also be a whale.

  21. 21
    Glen Davidson

    The supposedly sophisticated creationists are no better. David Berlinski (no, I don’t care that he’s too lazy and ignorant to really claim creationism–he’s just incapable of thinking better than they, so good enough) “disproved” evolution by considering what it would take to turn a car into a submarine.

    These dumbasses must be stupid enough to believe their own lies, that life really is like machines, therefore it is as difficult to evolve as machines. However, ignorant buffoons, it is crucial that life is very much unlike machines in many respects, especially in the fact that it has all of the limits to change that inhere in evolutionary processes, and does not have the “mix and match” design of a submarine or a car.

    That’s a whole lot of the point of evolution, and of course you’re too ignorant and/or stupid to get it.

    Glen Davidson

  22. 22
    Glen Davidson

    It can’t be a coincidence, I immediately thought it was about ultra-jews.
    And he looks goofy on top of that.

    Incompetent thinkers may very well be incompetent artists as well. Anti-Semitic is entirely possible, but you also can’t expect these people to know wtf they’re doing at all.

    Glen Davidson

  23. 23
    AussieMike

    I have printed out the pages on cheap paper. I am now off to the toilet to put them to proper use. I feel it’s going to be a nasty one!

  24. 24
    neilweightman

    But that eyeless fish looks so sad! It must be true!

  25. 25
    anchor

    Man. Ugly as ugly can get.

    The most infuriating aspect of it is the condescending tone and aire of superior knowledge – as if serving explanations to a slow child – and yet get absolutely nothing whatsoever right. Their knowledge of rudimentary science concepts is faulty because it must conform to their preference and preconceptions of the way the world works, then their knowledge of ANYTHING is suspect. What makes my skin crawl is how they bask in their absolute God-like certitude. It’s…[pentatomid got the right word]…positively HIDEOUS.

    What was that bullshit in their holybook about the meek and the Earth and inheritance again? Like I said: their knowledge of ANYTHING is suspect. There is something fundamentally wrong with their brains. A basic logic malfunction.

  26. 26
    gogreenranger

    This is the same guy who draws the cartoons for Ray Comfort’s blog. He’s written guest posts over there, and they were all literal parrots of Ray Comfort’s posts.

  27. 27
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    The point of their criticism was to explain that evolution is not dogma and should not be used as such

    I keep seeing claims that we atheists have a dogma, and that dogma is evolution.

    But here they seem to be finding fault with atheism because it doesn’t have a dogma.

    Make up your minds, religitards!

  28. 28
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Creationists: Often wrong, but NEVER in doubt!

  29. 29
    AJS

    That is so obviously a parody. There’s no way anybody could ever take it seriously.

    The obvious clue should have been in the stacking of the blocks. None of the stacks has a yellow block at the top. That should have given it straight away: there must be more than a dozen ways to arrange four blocks.

    Anyway, reproduction isn’t about rearranging blocks (reaction kinetics dictates how the blocks will arrange themselves), but making new blocks that look as near as possible to the existing ones. And doing it in limited time, with whatever materials happen to be to hand. Not surprising it gets it wrong from time to time, really.

  30. 30
    sonofrojblake

    I have a natural tendency to try to see the best in people. An almost idiotic optimism, it is. Which makes me think this guy is pro-science, not anti-. How do I justify this ridiculous position? Simple.

    I(‘d like to) think he’s written this for Christians to read, and made it SO hokey, SO stupid, SO transparently, easily provably wrong, that a reasonable number of the kids it’s presumbaly aimed at will think “Hang on, this is blindingly obviously bullshit. He didn’t even get the math right on that block thing – I know that and I’m just a kid! How much else of this stuff is complete bollocks?”

    Arsewitted know-nothing Christian? Or subtle genius atheist double agent?

    Ach, who am I trying to kid. :-(

  31. 31
    stephcherrywell

    “Once there was a very bright fellow who built his own car…”

    Given that he seems to have built a modern Camaro in the mid-to-late 1800s, I’d say he was a very bright fellow indeed.

  32. 32
    BaldySlaphead

    Richard Gunther, Ray Dumbfuck’s cartoons gimp, turns out to be egregiously stupid. Who would have thunk it?

  33. 33
    epikt

    richardelguru says:

    Fiat 500??
    :-)

    No, that’s clearly a transitional species that lands somewhere between “car” and “roller skate.”

  34. 34
    Richard Smith

    I can actually see what he’s doing regarding the four colours. There are 12 possible ways to arrange the blocks such that no pattern is duplicated or mirrored. Makes perfect sense. I mean, four distinct letters – POTS, say – will clearly express the exact same information backwards – STOP. See? Perfectly logical.

  35. 35
    kevinalexander

    AussieMike @#23

    What are you thinking? The purpose of paper is to get shit OFF your ass. This stuff will just add more.

  36. 36
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    This is quite bad. But do you know what I find worse? There is a cartoonist named Gary McCoy, who actually works as a political cartoonist for US newspapers!

    Have a look at what he drew about the Komen – Planned Parenthood debate. I really want to vomit. At least the reactions on the MSNBC Cartoon Blog were negative as well.

    http://cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/10/10375774-conservative-cartoonist-on-komen-and-planned-parenthood

  37. 37
    pelamun, the Linguist of Doom

    (oh the reactions are discussed in a different post, apparently only to one of the cartoons, and the date is earlier than the link I just gave you. Which is confusing, but here you go: http://cartoonblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/08/10351207-planned-parenthood-cartoon-riled-up-our-readers )

  38. 38
    Deen

    “The truth is in the Bible”

    No it’s not. The Bible has nothing to say about mutations, DNA errors, genes becoming incomplete, or damaged, etc. Suggesting that this is what the Bible says is just plain dishonest.

  39. 39
    ChasCPeterson

    Not gonna click; the car thing was plenty. Reb Darwin sure comes off a doofus.

  40. 40
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I have a natural tendency to try to see the best in people. An almost idiotic optimism, it is.

    There’s no almost about it.

    I(‘d like to) think he’s written this for Christians to read, and made it SO hokey, SO stupid, SO transparently, easily provably wrong, that a reasonable number of the kids it’s presumbaly aimed at will think “Hang on, this is blindingly obviously bullshit. He didn’t even get the math right on that block thing – I know that and I’m just a kid! How much else of this stuff is complete bollocks?”

    Arsewitted know-nothing Christian? Or subtle genius atheist double agent?

    Ach, who am I trying to kid. :-(

    We’ve had several discussions here recently about how counterproductive this sort of knee-jerk denialism is. Stop doing it.

  41. 41
    ricardodivali having sniffles over stiffles

    It’s nice to see that Comfort and gang are continuing to lie and cheat openly about what they know to be false. When you have lost all decency and ethics to protect your worldview, you have lost so hard it can be seen from space.

    Azkyrot –

    Arsewitted know-nothing Christian? Or subtle genius atheist double agent?

    Ach, who am I trying to kid. :-(

  42. 42
    GodotIsWaiting4U

    I can say precisely one good thing about this comic: that little cartoon Darwin is adorable.

    Pity he’s in such an awful comic.

  43. 43
    AJS

    @ Richard Smith, #34: No, it’s not even that. Column 5 is column 3 inverted, and column 9 is column 6 rotated. My younger self would have spotted that even more quickly. (Since those days, I have learned to ignore most of what my senses tell me, or at least not bother committing it to memory; and the world actually makes a lot more sense that way.)

    I stand by my original assertion: The comic is not intended to be taken seriously. It is attempting to lampoon the faulty thinking that underlies creationism. Nobody with the sense to remember to breathe could honestly believe what it says.

  44. 44
    Anthony K

    Arsewitted know-nothing Christian? Or subtle genius atheist double agent?

    There’s nothing genius or subtle about Poeing so hard and often that every case of idiocy becomes a confusing case of I-think-I-know-that-she-knows-that-I-think-that-he-knows—I think—that-I-know-that-they’re-not-as-stupid-as-they’d-like-me-to-think-they-are-maybe. (It’s like trolling; 99.99999999999999% of trolls are cleverly underscoring the paradigmatic thinking of online communities; they’re just selfish pieces of shit who can’t stomach a conversation that isn’t about them.)

    But back to this business of Poes:

    “Ha-ha! Now we don’t know whether the US is infected with creationists or whether it’s actually all a bunch of crypto-atheists pulling each others’ chains, but the joke (or not) is paid out in the miseducation of children, so ha-ha!”

    Frankly, makes us all look like a bunch of ironic hipster sociopaths rather than clever genii, doesn’t it?

  45. 45
    Richard Smith

    Although I’m still pretty sure the idea was to omit mirrored patterns, they still managed to screw it up, probably because they liked the neat three groups of four blocks at the top. I guess 6-4-2 wasn’t pretty enough. Anyway, pattern 5 is a mirror of 3, 9 is a mirror of 1, and no sign of green-blue-red-yellow or blue-green-red-yellow in either direction. What? It’s a slow day at the office and I worked it out in Excel…

  46. 46
    Richard Smith

    AJS: 5 out of 6 are still unique, so I still figure that was their intent if not their final product.

  47. 47
    Anthony K

    I stand by my original assertion: The comic is not intended to be taken seriously. It is attempting to lampoon the faulty thinking that underlies creationism.

    Well, with that sort of dedication to being wrong, you should contact the cartoonist to see if he needs a researcher: there’ve got to be better Bible quotes than this.

  48. 48
    alejb

    @ Nutmeg #3

    Anyone who’s taken even one high school biology class could refute every argument this comic makes.

    Perhaps… but I don’t remember learning much about the molecular details of evolution (including gene duplication, etc.) until college. There is some subtlety to the arguments about information and entropy that educators tend to gloss over. I think we really do need to try to push some of this material earlier in the curriculum so that non-scientists have a better understanding of the details and can better spot the fallacies in cartoons like this. And educators need to do a better job of conveying how this information was obtained in the first place — i.e. not “handed down” by some monolithic patriarch but continually subjected to criticism and experiment.

  49. 49
    Ingdigo Jump

    I stand by my original assertion: The comic is not intended to be taken seriously. It is attempting to lampoon the faulty thinking that underlies creationism. Nobody with the sense to remember to breathe could honestly believe what it says.

    HOw I wish I could join your world.

  50. 50
    'Tis Himself

    The truth is found in the bible. This book, written by god

    How do you know? Were you there?

  51. 51
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    How do you know? Were you there?

    Heard it from a friend who
    Heard it from a friend who
    Heard it from an other that god was messing around

    Yes, I am very embarrassed that I just paraphrased REO Speedwagon.

  52. 52
    petzl20

    As an evangelical, this dude also has to be super pro-Israel: check out his oddly titled “The Jews are Back”.

    Whole bunch of islamophobia thrown in for good measure. Here’s one of his blissfully hypocritical arguments:

    “Allah comes from the Arabic Al ilah meaning ‘the God.’ It is not even a name.”

    That’s his argument? How is muslims’ “Allah/the God” any different from christians’ “God”?

    And it’s always distressing how super pro-Israel evangelicals are. They “love” Israel so much, because they “know” the only way to the End Times/Second Coming is if there’s that glorious apocalyptic battle that destroys Israel (and, by the way, destroys any Jews who haven’t converted to christianity in time). The evangelicals’ valentine to Israel says “I love you so much, I wish to hasten your destruction.” I don’t blame Israel for accepting help from the powerful evangelical US lobbies, but privately they must have no small distaste for the evangelicals’ motivations.

  53. 53
    richardelguru

    I too like to look on the bright side, so in that vein may I say that arse-wipingly bad as that cartoon is it has produced some witty comments.

    Also
    Someone commented on not having seen baby cars, to which I replied:
        Fiat 500??
        :-)
    epikt replies to that:
    No, that’s clearly a transitional species that lands somewhere between “car” and “roller skate.”

    And there I think we have the whole of evo-devo in a nut shell.

  54. 54
    anathema

    I stand by my original assertion: The comic is not intended to be taken seriously. It is attempting to lampoon the faulty thinking that underlies creationism. Nobody with the sense to remember to breathe could honestly believe what it says.

    I doubt it. Richard Gunther has been providing illustrations for Ray Comfort’s blog for several years now. If Richard Gunther is a poe, then it seems he’s fooled the people at Living Waters into thinking he’s one of them. So even if Gunther doesn’t actually believe what this comic says, it appears that Ray Comfort and the folks at Living Waters do. If it’s an attempt to lampoon creationism, it fails because creationists seem to agree with it.

  55. 55
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    This god dude is an inefficient designer. When we bought our car we had an option to have either a diesel engine or a gasoline engine, and the battery can be replaced by a new one that doesn’t even have to be made by the same company, and that can be used in other totally unrelated cars.

    So why don’t babies come with options like wings or compound eyes? And why can’t we easily pop in a new heart (with a lifetime guarantee!) or spleen when the old one fails?

    I mean, anyone who didn’t know better would look at all these species and think that they just, I dunno, evolved by chance or something.

  56. 56
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    That’s his argument? How is muslims’ “Allah/the God” any different from christians’ “God”?

    Because God is actually God’s given name. When it isn’t Yhwh or some other tribal small g god who was actually big G God in disguise. Or using someone else’s id because he was too young at the time. Clear?

  57. 57
    myeck waters

    What a Maroon #55,
    Jeez, what fly-by-night outfit are you getting your babies from?

  58. 58
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    myeck waters,

    I’m not sure of the name, but it involves pickles and a delivery guy with a long beak. And they’re very adament about not using aspirin, for some reason.

  59. 59
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    What a Maroon #55,
    Jeez, what fly-by-night outfit are you getting your babies from?

    What, you never heard of ‘Babies-R-Us’?

  60. 60
    Rutee Katreya

    Did anyone else think “Scott Adams” on seeing the post title?

  61. 61
    Owlmirror

    I note that Colin Patterson (in the last comic included) was also someone who was quote-mined; context is at Talk Origins.

  62. 62
    jloopy

    “If you stumbled on a watch you’d assume it had a watchmaker.” Well, yes, yes I would. Unless of course I stumbled upon a field of watches growing from roots in the ground that themselves produced watch seedlings that fell to the earth and took root and grew into more watch plants.

    Not seeing or accepting that there’s a difference between naturally occuring phenomena and engineered/made/constructed stuff is really just willful stupidity.

  63. 63
    NitricAcid

    I thought Darwin was meant to look like the Ayatollah….

  64. 64
    sc_0dee93df036579d47fa2bc8dbb024093

    Sweet freaking Jesus this guy’s a tool. I’m going to print this out and present it every time I hear someone say atheists don’t take on sophisticated theology.

  65. 65
    Anthony K

    “If you stumbled on a watch you’d assume it had a watchmaker.”

    Yes, but only because I’d be able to contrast it with the surrounding rocks and grass and trees and dirt and ants that don’t, apparently, have the appearance of having had a designer, since the designed watch is obviously designed. Of course, if I assumed everything in the universe was designed, I’d think the watch was no different than any other designed part of the landscape.

    Those of you claiming Poe want proof that some theists are fucking stupid? They think Paley’s Watch is an argument for their side.

  66. 66
    Owlmirror
    That’s his argument? How is muslims’ “Allah/the God” any different from christians’ “God”?

    Because God is actually God’s given name. When it isn’t Yhwh or some other tribal small g god who was actually big G God in disguise. Or using someone else’s id because he was too young at the time. Clear?

    Oh, come on! God is only properly called one name, which is Yahweh. Or Yahuwa. Or Yehuwa. Or Yehovah. And that name is also sometimes transliterated as Jehovah. But you’re not supposed to say that name, anyway, so you’re supposed to say Adonai. Or sometimes (rarely) Tetragrammaton (“Four Letters”, which the name is in the original Hebrew, even though “Tetragrammaton” is Greek). Or more often, Hashem (The Name).

    Or sometimes he’s called Elohim (God).

    Or Yahweh Elohim (Yahweh God).

    Or El Shaddai (Almighty God). Or El Elyon (Highest God). Or HaKadosh (The Holy [One]). Or…

    Um, what was my point again?

    Anyway, listing all the names of God is a Bad Idea, because it’s known that the result of that would be eschatological, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead of the game.

  67. 67
    capnxtreme

    The bit I like best is where it is claimed that the babble was written by god. What makes it so irresistibly funny is that this is only true until you point out the myriad undeniable inconsistencies in the holy scripture. Then, in a pathetic effort to save face, it was written by fallible humans inspired by god. This copout, one of the most damning examples of flip-flopping on important issues in my opinion, is one of the biggest reasons I call myself an atheist.

  68. 68
    Richard Smith

    I actually just figured out what’s really wrong with the cartoon. The text isn’t in Comic Sans!

  69. 69
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    capnxtreme,

    This copout, one of the most damning examples of flip-flopping on important issues in my opinion, is one of the biggest reasons I call myself an atheist.

    I can see why that would turn you off Xianity (and judaism and Islam), but why would that turn you off all religion?

    Put another way, if you came across a religion that was totally consistent internally, would you rethink your atheism?

  70. 70
    unclefrogy

    Sorry if I am repeating anything but I could not resist cars can turn into anything please just go and look a little bit took me 30 sec

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibious_vehicle

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_car_%28aircraft%29

    take you pick

    uncle frogy

  71. 71
    NitricAcid

    What a Maroon:

    Can’t speak for capnxtreme, but once the fallibility of the religion you’re brought up in is proven (by not being internally consistent), then other religions (even internally consistent ones) get treated with skepticism.

  72. 72
    Marcus Ranum

    It’s pretty much a sure thing that the car won’t be a car a million years from now. So, yeah.

  73. 73
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    NitricAcid,

    I guess that makes sense as a path to atheism, but for me the most compelling reason for being an atheist is that no religion is consistent with what we know about nature (and any religion that was would be indistinguishable from science).

    (Aside, re my 69: Judaism should be capitalized.)

  74. 74
    Rey Fox

    Bleah. He draws like a Klasky-Csupo reject.

  75. 75
    boadinum

    No religion can be internally consistent; that’s an oxymoron, Maroon. Even recently made-up religions (of course all religions are made up) such as Mormonism and Scientology, can easily be shown to be nothing more than slightly modernized rehashes of older religions; their prophets (Joseph Smith, L. Ron Hubbard) were shysters, con-artists, only out to make a buck. They simply cherry-picked the bible, and then made up other equally absurd scenarios, and fed them to the uneducated and the credulous.

    In order to be logically consistent, a religion must be true both to its own text (they all have one, call it the bible, koran or what you will), it must also be true in the words and deeds of its practitioners. No religion meets this test.

    There is no reason to rethink atheism.

  76. 76
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Anyway, listing all the names of God is a Bad Idea, because it’s known that the result of that would be eschatological, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead of the game.

    And if you actually list all nine billion names of god, all the stars will disappear. . . .

  77. 77
    Joshua

    I almost spit pop all over my keyboard and screen I laughed so hard when I saw page 2. 12 possible combinations? Math, you’re doing it wrong.

    And since we are grossly oversimplifying how DNA works and comparing it to “stacks of blocks” maybe the guy should cruch these numbers, There are ~3.2 billion base pairs in the haploid human genome. If we (arbitrarily) count a base pair as a “block” that gives us a lot of “stacks”. What is 3.2b!? I don’t want to crunch the math and I think I broke an online factorial calculator, but its a big number. plenty big enough that if evolution worked by “restacking” our “blocks” there would be plenty of room for it to work. His argument fails on so many levels.

  78. 78
    feralboy12

    Yes, but only because I’d be able to contrast it with the surrounding rocks and grass and trees and dirt and ants that don’t, apparently, have the appearance of having had a designer, since the designed watch is obviously designed.

    Simplified watchmaker argument: “nature looks like design, which we can recognize because it doesn’t look like nature.”

    Such logic is obviously too much like math for a creationist to spot the fallacy. As for the factorial error, I would say he needs to go forth and multiply again.

  79. 79
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Well we know a watch is created because we know how it was created. We know the tools, the techniques, we can find you tube videos, we can go to a watch shop, we know watchmakers.

    Nature, if you are a creationist, you only believe you know. But you can not answer any of the above posed as questions positively.

  80. 80
    Hank_Says

    Argh.

    Science aside, let’s just add “draw a decent fucking cartoon” to things creationists simply can’t do, along with “quote honestly”, “research”, “understand humour/sarcasm/irony”, “breathe through nose” and “get dressed without becoming strangled by own underpants”.

  81. 81
    Hank_Says

    Oh and by the way: I tried it and a “scream/facepalm” sounds eerily like the awful muffled screams of a headcrab zombie from Half Life 2. Go and play – you’ll see I’m right.

  82. 82
    LewisX

    Ah. I see the Ehrlich quote mine is repeated verbatim so frequently and unquestioningly across the Moronosphere that it has earned a place in the TalkOrigins quote mine project.

  83. 83
    NitricAcid

    Joshua- I rounded to 4 billion, and I get 10^(3.7×10^10). So somewhere between a google and a googleplex.

    Someone who is actually mathematically literate can check my work.

  84. 84
    NitricAcid

    3.2 billion! gives ten to the power of 2.9e+10, if I know what I’m doing.

  85. 85
    jayarrrr

    “it’s all downhill from here”

    Does anybody else pick up on the self-loathing expressed by these people? “Man’s Nature is Sin” “I’m a Sinner” “I’m NOTHING without the Lard!” and my favourite:
    “If you don’t believe in Gawd, then what’s the point of living? Why don’t you just kill yourself now and be done with it?”

  86. 86
    boadinum

    3.7 x 10^10 is actually 37 billion…not as round as you’d like it to be. A googol (Not to be confused with the search engine Google) is 10^100. That’s a one followed by 100 zeroes. It would take me about a minute to write that down on a sheet of paper. A googlpex is a one followed by a googol of zeroes. Not only would you need an amount of time longer than the age of the universe to write down that many zeroes, you also couldn’t find a sheet of paper large enough to hold that many zeroes and still fit inside the observable universe.

    Your comment “3.2 billion! gives ten to the power of 2.9e+10, if I know what I’m doing.” proves that you don’t know what you’re doing.

    I hope that you will become more mathematically literate.

  87. 87
    Anthony K

    A googol (Not to be confused with the search engine Google) is 10^100.

    Google took its name from a misspelling (or alternative spelling, as I originally heard it) of “googol”.

  88. 88
    boadinum

    I think that it was a deliberate misspelling.

  89. 89
    Owlmirror

    And if you actually list all nine billion names of god, all the stars will disappear. . . .

    That’s what I intended by “eschatological”.

    Any plan where you lose your stars is a very, very, very bad plan.

  90. 90
    NitricAcid

    Your comment “3.2 billion! gives ten to the power of 2.9e+10, if I know what I’m doing.” proves that you don’t know what you’re doing.

    I hope that you will become more mathematically literate.

    Alright then, you show me how to calculate the factorial of 3.2 billion (that’s 3.2e+9 where I come from) and why it isn’t close to 10^(2.9e+10). Help me attain the numeracy that I so sorely lack.

    Or did you not notice the factorial (!) in what I wrote?

  91. 91
    Anthony K

    Or did you not notice the factorial (!) in what I wrote?

    Fun fact: in Spanish, a factorial of an integer n is denoted by ¡n!

  92. 92
    NitricAcid

    And Brownian wins yet another thread.

  93. 93
    capnxtreme

    Put another way, if you came across a religion that was totally consistent internally, would you rethink your atheism?

    The answer to being completely disgusted with the religion you were brought up with is not to jump ship to another one. I don’t understand people who do that. But I’ll do you one better. If god himself came down from the heavens and proved his existence to me incontrovertibly, I’d certainly feel obligated to rethink my atheism. The only thing religious text can tell me is I need to be faithful, and I can’t accept that.

  94. 94
    McCthulhu, now with -25% less fat.

    Ignorant fuckwittery in its purest form. This cartoonist (and I use the term so loosely that it’s hanging by only one or two atoms) is my nominee for this year’s annual Tinfoil Crocoduck Award statue, given yearly on Darwin’s birthday to (dis)honor the person(s) farthest away from having even a single clue about reality and evolution.

  95. 95
    ironflange

    That site is a seemingly bottomless pit of stupidity.

  96. 96
    cheesynougats

    Shit on a stick. It’s even more awesome: scan this.

    Look at page 4:

    This page uses a lot of big words. Don’t be put off. Even if you have no idea what they mean, the main point is that all the different forces in the universe are JUST RIGHT to make life possible on Earth.

    And the very next page, after “explaining” the strong nuclear force and gravity:

    Each of these ingredients, as listed on page 29 could be dealt with in the same way, but the point is, the balance between all the forces is set perfrectly [sic] right now.

    Now that is the most obvious example of “We will do the thinking for you; don’t worry about it” that I have ever seen.

  97. 97
    JimDiver

    And the stupidity caused by Ray Dumfort rolls on….

  98. 98
    kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith

    @96

    IMHO, anybody who takes as granted things written by somebody who can’t be arsed to write “perfectly” correctly is an unsalvageable idiot.

    And the graphics are just about appropriate for a preschool-level book. You know, small books about eating your veggies, toilet training and stuff. Even the tone is similar. Except preschool books are thankfully not that verbose.

    The more things xians do, the more they prove the assertion that adding “xian” in front of something means that it’s spectacularly much crappier than average. It’s true for their books, films, webpages, video games, and now, comics.

  99. 99
    Chris Booth

    Actually, his statement that there are 12 ways to stack the blocks is True.
    So would be the statement that there are 13; or 11; or ….

    Any number between 1 and 16, inclusive. Seventeen is right out!

    But that is not how he meant it. He thought that 12 was exhaustive. Even if he doesn’t know how to figure out whar four squared comes out to (4 x 4 is complex math for these folks), its easy enough to keep drawing until you done all the possibilities. Wow.

    What a[n] [effing] dolt. Also a liar. (They are always both.)

  100. 100
    Chris Booth

    No, he meant “Prefectly”. Like Tweedledumbkirk and Tweedledolteron he wants to be Ray’s First Boy.

    Its a banana thing.

  101. 101
    Chris Booth

    Why is the rabbi walking around with a leprechaun?

  102. 102
    twas brillig (stevem)

    Any number between 1 and 16, inclusive. Seventeen is right out!

    umm uhhh … 4x3x2x1 = 24 so 17 is an acceptable number. If you want to calculate all the possible arrangements; the first block is any of 4, the second is any of the 3 remaining, the third is either of the 2 remaining and the fourth is the only remainder.
    Where did you get 4 squared as the total?

  103. 103
    Chris Booth

    Doh.

  104. 104
    Owlmirror

    Why is the rabbi walking around with a leprechaun?

    They’re looking for a bar to walk into. Duh!

  105. 105
    AJS

    @ Brownian,

    I’m calling Poe on this like I’d call Poe on any variant of the “Paley’s Watch” or “Pascal’s Wager” fallacies.

    Paley’s fallacy is that you can’t use an argument which relies on both a statement and its converse being simultaneously true (i.e., X && !X == false for all X). No matter where you try draw the line between “natural” and “designed”, the fact that you have even drawn a line at all means that you are assuming that (1) the state of being designed is a property that can be detected and (2) some things are not designed. This contradicts the premise that “everything is designed”.

    Likewise, Pascal’s Wager is a transparently obvious fallacy. Any God worthy of the title ought to know the difference between a sincere belief and one faked merely in the hope of obtaining a reward. There are two other ways to debunk it, but I stopped evaluating sub-expressions as soon as I had a definitive answer :)

    The fact that Darwin did not know about genetics strengthens his argument. He simply regarded the mechanism of heredity as a black box — a necessary precondition, which automatically offered a suggestion for further work. A testable prediction, even. If there later turned out not to be such a mechanism, then it would have dealt a blow to his theory — but nearly 100 years later, Crick and Watson discovered DNA.

    Basically, you would have to have such poor reasoning skills as to be mentally ill to take seriously any of the above arguments. Hence, it is evidently a hoax.

  106. 106
    richardelguru

    @AJS
    Ah! But what about (to use Tolkien’s term, as in On Fairy-Stories) a ‘subcreator’.
    Everything is designed by the Lard High Skyfairy, and we can’t detect that, but some things (Watches and the like) are designed by subcreators: who were themselves designed by said Hairy Skyfairy.

    Don’t think it’s a true argument, but what about it??

  107. 107
    elizabethmorran

    I want to know why Darwin is an Orthodox Jewish rabbi

  108. 108
    rr

    If you stumbled on a rock you’d assume it had a rockmaker?

  109. 109
    David Marjanović

    Why does he seem to think that Darwin was a Lubavitcher?
    Is he anti-Semitic as well as stupid??

    That’s likely Yes (see comment 16), but an Orthodox Jew is simply the closest thing to a 19th-century gentleman the author has ever seen.

    Jesus, genocide or salvation, or any of the other good news of the bible

    I like your way with words! :-)

    animal evolved from something like tiktaalik and eventually evolved into a terrestrial mammal, and then it evolved into an aquatic mammal and lost those hard earned legs and feet

    Forget mammals. Instead of “terrestrial mammal”, say “terrestrial lizard”, then secondarily marine snake, then secondarily terrestrial snake, and today’s sea snakes are tertiarily marine.

    OK, that’s still controversial, but if you put all data together it looks like the likeliest possibility.

    That is so obviously a parody. There’s no way anybody could ever take it seriously.

    The obvious clue should have been in the stacking of the blocks. None of the stacks has a yellow block at the top. That should have given it straight away: there must be more than a dozen ways to arrange four blocks.

    You vastly underestimate the innumeracy of most people. See comments 45 and 46.

    Nobody with the sense to remember to breathe could honestly believe what it says.

    Good, then, that humans don’t need to remember to breathe.

    (Dolphins possibly do.)

    “If you stumbled on a watch you’d assume it had a watchmaker.” Well, yes, yes I would. Unless of course I stumbled upon a field of watches growing from roots in the ground that themselves produced watch seedlings that fell to the earth and took root and grew into more watch plants.

    O hai! I just maded you this Internet out of fresh lavender cookiez. And I did not eated it.

    And if you actually list all nine billion names of god, all the stars will disappear. . . .

    The Nine Billion Names of God

    Why is the rabbi walking around with a leprechaun?

    They’re looking for a bar to walk into. Duh!

    Thread won.

    Basically, you would have to have such poor reasoning skills as to be mentally ill to take seriously any of the above arguments.

    No, it works the other way around: you are unusually smart.

    It’s about time you came to terms with this fact. You’re quite literally surrounded by idiots. Billions of ‘em.

    For example, your objections to Paley’s Watch and Pascal’s Wager are true, but most people simply don’t think that far on their own. I myself have occasionally failed to do so.

  110. 110
    Ingdigo Jump

    No, it works the other way around: you are unusually smart.

    It’s about time you came to terms with this fact. You’re quite literally surrounded by idiots. Billions of ‘em.

    While idiot is true in a simplistic almost tautological sense I must hasten to point out that the problem is not one of stupidity, but that few people are actually trained in how to ask proper questions or be properly curious.

  111. 111
    Anthony K

    Basically, you would have to have such poor reasoning skills as to be mentally ill to take seriously any of the above arguments.

    There are a number of assumptions and poorly defined terms in this claim, AJS.

  112. 112
    Anthony K

    While idiot is true in a simplistic almost tautological sense I must hasten to point out that the problem is not one of stupidity, but that few people are actually trained in how to ask proper questions or be properly curious.

    Further, it’s a somewhat cultural trait. While some people come to it naturally, it’s usually because they’ve been raised in a culture or subculture where such questioning, particularly of the things elders say, is permissible. This isn’t universally the case.

  113. 113
    Ingdigo Jump

    Basically, you would have to have such poor reasoning skills as to be mentally ill to take seriously any of the above arguments.

    Good reasoning skills is no more the default state of the brain than fit is the state of the body.

  114. 114
    Anthony K

    And is it just me, or is Pharyngula’s formatting all weird? Instead of blue and grey, everything is eggshell and pee-stain, and the font in comment box font is now Courier.

  115. 115
    Ingdigo Jump

    @Brownian

    He of the Most Glorious Ink Sacks is practicing his color changing ability as all cephlapods are wont to do

  116. 116
    demonhellfish

    In response to the claims that complex machinery can’t evolve and therefore evolution is false, some enterprising individual simulated complex machinery that reproduces and varies. Look, they evolved a clock!

  117. 117
    forjo

    Well, it’s not exactly Calvin and Hobbes is it. All the good comics tend to stay away from the whole Creationism thing.

  118. 118
    gravityisjustatheory

    petzl20
    23 February 2012 at 11:29 am

    And it’s always distressing how super pro-Israel evangelicals are. They “love” Israel so much, because they “know” the only way to the End Times/Second Coming is if there’s that glorious apocalyptic battle that destroys Israel (and, by the way, destroys any Jews who haven’t converted to christianity in time). The evangelicals’ valentine to Israel says “I love you so much, I wish to hasten your destruction.”

    I think that must depend on the particular strain of evangelical.

    I’m sure there’s a Chick Tract that explains how in the final days a joint Russian-Chinese army (backed by the UN and the Vatican) will attack Israel, but Jesus will come down and personally destroy the attackers.

    This one gives a similar account (as well as a… creative history of the problems in the Middle East and their relation to troubles elsewhere in the world), but doesn’t mention the nationalities of the attacking armies (I may have conflated this one with one of the others that claims the UN is run by the Vatican which is in turn controlled by Satan):
    http://chick.com/reading/tracts/1000/1000_01.asp

  119. 119
    'Tis Himself

    gravityisjustatheory #118

    You are trying to make sense of a Chick tract. As the old saying goes: Does not compute.

  120. 120
    Alexandra (née Audley)

    While not overtly anti-semitic (based on a quick glimpse until my vomiting urge kicked in), it seems to propagate the idea that Jews should be tolerated (just) because the state of Israel is a prerequisite for “Da Rapture”.

    Uh, yeah, that kind of thinking is “overtly anti-semitic”.

    You ever wonder why American evangelicals support the Israeli government without question? Israel needs to be a stable country so it can be destroyed during end times.

    Wishing for the death of millions of Jews =/= antisemitism to you?

  121. 121
    boadinum

    I meant that it doesn’t overtly call for the destruction of the state of Israel, as does, say Iran. I know that evangelicals think that Israel is a sign of the End Times/Rapture/Tribulations bullshit, and this is certainly vile and disgusting antisemitism.

    I should have phrased my thoughts more carefully. My bad.

  122. 122
    Ava, Oporornis maledetta

    I’d go right around the bend if I read any more of those cartoons.

  123. 123
    briantarr

    wow…SO many great comments! i should take the time to read comments threads here more often! :)

    p.s. there are far too many to go back and applaud properly, but, the most recent knee-slapper was brownian @114 — seriously, dude, “eggshell and pee-stain” made me lose it, for real :D

  124. 124
    Richard Smith

    @Brownian (#91):

    Fun fact: in Spanish, a factorial of an integer n is denoted by ¡n!

    Would an approximation of a factorial be denoted by ¡ñ!? (Or should that be “…denoted by ¿¡ñ!?”?)

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