Every time I talk to creationists, I’m always stunned at the depth of their misconceptions. There are always the same old boring arguments that are ably dismissed with a paragraph from the Index to Creationist Claims, but there are also occasions when they get, errm, creative, and unfortunately they always take your gape-mouthed I-can’t-believe-you-are-so-stupid-that-you-said-that reaction as a triumphant vindication that they must be right.
Orac takes a right-wing idiot to task, and I don’t need to jump in—he’s done a fine job dismantling him—but I made the mistake of actually reading the ghastly blog article he’s criticizing, and even worse, reading some of the comments there. The very first comment will make your jaw drop at the combination of sublime arrogance and impenetrable stupidity. There’s a list of 7 objections to evolution, all wrong, but I’ll spare you and show just the first.
If any two species chosen at random share a common ancestor, would that not imply that every living creature today was ultimately derived from one singular “Mother-Beast”? Just what did this creature look like (I imagine a bulbous sphere, fourteen stories in diameter, with various heads sticking out all over: cow, porcupine, squid, human, etc. Most are confused; none are happy.)
This person learned everything they needed to know about evolution from playing with Mr Potato Head at the age of 4, and has not progressed since. They have not bothered to read word one of any actual science text, but are still convinced that they can accurately summarize evolutionary theory. (It’s also telling that one of their objections is that they are uncertain about whether biology argues that plants and animals are related; of course they are.)
Evolution is not a mix-and-match game of shuffling preformed body parts. The last common ancestor of all life on earth was a population of single-celled organisms, not some unlikely chimeric behemoth. The last common ancestor of all animals would have been a near microscopic, multicellular worm-like creature, or something even more bloblike, like Trichoplax, and would have had much in common with modern choanoflagellates, with relationships revealed by similar molecular pathways, not similar heads.
I would never have imagined someone coming up with an argument against evolution as stupid and fact-free as this “Mother-Beast” nonsense, but that’s because my position is constrained by the evidence. We have to explain the world in terms of what we can see and measure…and what we have to work with are molecular patterns, fossils, and the observation of processes at work in the modern world. From a position of complete ignorance, you can invent anything—as that creationist thread demonstrates—and even better, can be pretentious, arrogant, and utterly refractory to any counterargument.
That’s what we face: the arrogance of the ignorant.