Ray Comfort has been doing a great job of stirring up his minions on twitter, who, without exception, seem to be as ignorant as he is. I already mentioned one, Republican Mom, who combines dismal stupidity with chipper smugness, but there are others. And they seem to be going after everyone with a reputation for defending evolution. I’m not feeling besieged, though: it’s more like a swarm of fluff.
They’re also going after Carl Zimmer (and a bunch of the names he mentions are familiar — there aren’t that many of them, but they’re all really noisy and each one is peppering lots of people with the stupid). He’s now written a very nice post explaining their error.
Here’s what creationists like Comfort always do to deny evolution: they demand an example of a new feature evolution, of evolution in action. Then we give them one (we have many) in some species of bacterium or fish or whatever. They ignore it (seriously, they promptly wave it away and pretend that what we’ve told them isn’t what they asked for), and immediately turn to all the other traits of the organism that are still unchanged, and announce, “Well, it’s still a bacterium.”
It’s infuriating. Here’s a single-celled organism that evolved two tails; “it’s still a single-celled organism.” Here’s a fish that evolved armor plating; “it’s still a fish.” Here’s a fruit fly that evolved a whole new mating signal; “it’s still a fruit fly.” Notice what’s common in every case: the conscious denial of what you just told them. It’s not just ignorance, it’s willful ignorance.
There’s no way around this game. They demand something that evolution does not predict, and claim its absence falsifies evolution. If I had an experiment in which a population of single-celled bacteria evolved into a multi-cellular mouse while recorded by a video camera (which would falsify all of our evolutionary theories, by the way), they’d ignore the miracle and say, “Well, they’re still both made of cells, aren’t they? It’s still cells.”
Once upon a time, a population of apes evolved an upright, bipedal stance — but they still had hairy ape bodies and binocular vision and grasping hands — they were still apes, but they were on the long road to us. And we are still apes with a host of shared attributes with chimps and gorillas and orangutans. When you see Ray Comfort and he denies that he is an ape, point out that by his “they’re still just X” argument, he has scapulae and hair follicles and a liver and jaws and an autonomic nervous system just like a chimp, and if he’s going to deny the evolved differences, he’s still just a chimpanzee. He’s still got a spine, just like a fish, so he’s still just a fish. And he’s bilaterally symmetric, just like a worm, so he’s still just a worm.