Pinkoski again: How stupid can creationism get?


I’ve been having some fun with a bizarrely didactic creationist comic book by one Jim Pinkoski that purports to explain all the flaws in evolutionary biology. What it really is is the most astounding collection of bad creationist arguments I’ve ever seen gathered in one place. I’ve been trying to slog through rebuttals, but unfortunately, it’s like every word and phrase is so far off kilter that it’s going to take me forever to get through it. One putative “problem” that I’ve already dealt with is that we only use 10% of our brains, and so scientists are stupid and untrustworthy, but here’s another one: evolution requires that everything be extraordinarily brilliant. Or in comic book speak,

Evolutionists are saying that “teeny-tiny” life forms somehow willed themselves to “evolve,” which means that we must credit
with being smarter than Albert Einstein!!!

How many errors can we find in that one sentence? Well, evolutionists have never said anything of the sort, evolution isn’t a matter of willing new features into existence, and no one credits bacteria with high intelligence. Pinkoski illustrates this bogus concept with a “steg-o-moeba” trying to will itself into becoming a stegosaurus.



Here’s a closeup of that little amoeba wishing it were bigger and had eyes. Cute. But totally divorced from reality.

This is entirely contrary to what evolutionary biology actually teaches: there is no intelligence behind changes. There are variations within populations, and the variants that are most successful at coping with local, short-term conditions are represented at a higher frequency in subsequent generations. Pinkoski’s ideas are actually anti-evolutionary, and even have a technical term associated with them: orthogenesis. If there were actually a program of evolution driven by the will of organisms, that would be evidence against evolution. You can’t refute modern biology by inventing a thoroughly silly argument, and pointing out how silly it is—because evolutionary biologists will also tell you how silly it is. It is a classic straw man.

It gets better. Take one straw man, and compound it with a gross misunderstanding of how animals develop, and turn it into a mega-straw man, a Tyrannosaurus rex of straw.

If “evolution” is true, then each major life form would have to evolve it’s own eyes (as well as every other major organ of its body)!

Again, if evolution is true, it predicts exactly the opposite: new species do not evolve the majority of their features anew, but inherit them from the parent species. Homo sapiens did not have to generate four limbs, a head, a pancreas, a spine, etc. de novo—we got those from our predecessors. The process is called descent with modification, not descent with reinventing everything all over again every time.

Orthogenesis, weird ideas about evolution without inheritance…Pinkoski is about to ratchet the absurdity up a few notches with his very own novel thoughts about bilateral symmetry.

Common sense tells us that “evolving” all the individual parts of the eye is impossible, but I want to address an aspect that most overlook—


If the “eye” really evolved, when did all these animals decide that 2 eyes were better than only 1 eye??
“Evolution” depends largely on mutation—and it only makes sense that if an “eye” suddenly mutated into existence, then that animal would only grow 1 of them!!

Ouch. That’s so stupid it hurts to read it. Apparently, Pinkoski has this vision of evolution in which each new species arises from an amoeba, which has to sprout each of its organs by force of will, and each step lingers about long enough to limp about and leave fossils of its pathetic intermediate state. It’s not just eyes, it is the whole shebang.

Believe it or not, “bilaterally symmetrical” prove how impossible evolution is! Just like it was stated on the previous page about the evolution of the eye, the same thing applies to arms, to hands, to feet, to ears, to fins and to wings, etc.!


Evolution is refuted because there are no fossils of one-winged pigeons lacking a pancreas and a beak? If there were collections of the kinds of organisms Pinkoski describes, we’d have to reject evolution, because clearly there would be some extremely peculiar piecemeal assembly of animals going on—the kinds of transformations that would violate modern biology’s conception of organisms as integrated wholes.

Just as I’ve inherited four limbs and a head from the great and ancient tetrapod class, so too is bilateral symmetry an inheritance from ancestors even farther back. Bilateral symmetry is over half a billion years old. What it reflects is the presence of signalling molecules that define dorsal and ventral (back and front), molecules that define identical domains on the left and right sides. Your left and right eye are not independent creations, but are instead the product of the same genes expressing themselves in response to simpler signals that are active on both the left and right sides of your head during embryonic development. It actually requires specific, additional mechanisms to break symmetry, and vertebrates that are normally lopsided, like flounder, are generated by a secondary modification of initially symmetrical forms.

Pinkoski’s argument rests on a total absence of awareness about what biological evolution really says. Creationism is an intrinsically ignorant enterprise that crumbled away long ago for people who actually study the evidence, and only persists in those who refuse to examine the science behind it, and think that stacking misconceptions on top of one another is a path to the truth. This particular creationist story got nothing right.

  • Evolution does not occur because individuals want it to happen. Mutations arise by chance, and populations evolve by the survival of favorable (and sometimes not so favorable) variants.
  • Every new species is not an independent creation. It inherits a full suite of characters from its parent population, and modifies their expression.
  • Intermediate forms are not incomplete or non-functional or lacking in major characters. Every species is complete and successful in itself, but is different. Evolution is about acquiring differences, not a drive towards some superior, more complex form.
  • Bilateral symmetry is not a problem for evolution. Mutations that generate a feature on one side of an animal tend to be in response to molecular signals that are present on both sides of the organism; paired features are often easier to evolve than asymmetries in animals that are inherently bilateral.

The disturbing thing is that this pack of lies is part of a series of which a quarter million copies have been distributed by Amazing Facts, a “media ministry” (I guess that’s what they call it nowadays to avoid the taint of the word “televangelism”) based in Roseville, California, and led by a
genuine, literal troglodyte, Doug Batchelor. It’s 56 pages long, and every sentence is either cockamamie nonsense or outright lies. As a science educator, I have to look at this thing and think…boy, do I have a lot of work to do.


  1. quork says

    I’ve been trying to slog through rebuttals, but unfortunately, it’s like every word and phrase is so far off kilter that it’s going to take me forever to get through it.

    One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent. – H.L. Mencken

  2. J-Dog says

    Wow. 56 pages? That seems like a heck of a lot of pages for your average creo…way beyond their normal attention span. Is it possible you misunderstood and are actually reviewing the Grad Level Evo Devo textbook for Bob Jones and Liberty Universities?

  3. says

    God… I feel like I should have copies of books like this as reference material, but I really hate to contribute even $5.95 to these sorts of crackpots. I feel the same way every time I see the “Pandas and People” book at Barnes and Noble. (That is, on TOP of the feeling that I should pluck it off the science shelf and move it somplace else.)

  4. Peter says

    I did actually move “Darwin’s Black Box” from the science to the christianity section in my local Borders. It has been there for a couple of months now… Fortunately, it seems in Britain it is not in particularly high demand.

  5. craig says

    Pack of lies? I dunno. Sure, most IDers of the Discovery Institute vein are liars and deliberately mislead… but this stuff is so out there that I think Pinkoski is honestly, sincerely nuts.

  6. says

    Yes, Mr. Pinkoski: Lysenkoism is silly. We’ve known this for a long time. Now leave it up to us scientifically minded, fact-oriented people to debunk it when necessary. We don’t need you and Gene Ray to step in.

    Oh, and please stop calling Lysenkoism “evolution”.

  7. says

    How does he explain that the possessive pronoun “its” possesses an unnecessary apostophe in his book? It’s just like our appendix: a useless appendage that reflects the messy reality of evolution! If his words had been created by an intelligent designer, that error wouldn’t be there, right?

  8. says

    The disturbing thing is that this pack of lies is part of a series of which a quarter million copies have been distributed…

    Sometimes, considering numbers like that one, I find myself feeling thinking: damn, what a waste. Of time, of energy, of lives. 250,000, huh? All that pulp, all that paper, all that ink, all those hours in the service of fraud, delusion, a confused mix of the two… whichever it is, it’s still such a waste. All those poor beknighted readers who might have actually bought it, in whole or in part, all the mischief and confusion this creates.

    I also do suspect it really has to be fraud, most of the time, at least. It doesn’t seem particularly believable to me that ‘arguments’ (using the term rather loosely) so utterly tendentious and incredibly poorly constructed could come about purely from ignorance.

    Which leads to another thought: again, just now and then, I find myself thinking: it ought to be possible to make people responsible for this kind of thing. 250,000 copies out there, a quarter of a million people wasting time and money on this kind of thing, it almost only seems logical and just that if the guy writing this really is constructing these lies consciously (as opposed to genuinely being that dumb, that deluded, that insane) that it ought to be possible to put together a class action or somesuch thing. ‘Did you buy a copy of this bilge? Did you give him money for it? Did you, even briefly, embarrass yourself by believing any part of it? Write to the following address, we’ll make him take his pack of nonsense back, pay for the postage, give you a few bucks for your copy and for damages’…

    Yeah, yeah, very impractical, I know. But still, as I said: it only seems just, somehow.

  9. says

    Does anyone have a link to the full book? I, like most of you, want to laugh at their stupidly more, but don’t want to support them!

    PZ you blog is a service to all. Keep up the good work.

  10. Paul W. says

    Seems to me it’s time to coin a new word: Malarckism.

    It starts with mal-, ends in -ism. Appropriate, no?

    I’m not sure whether it’s best applied to the creationists’ worse-than-Lamarckism straw T. Rex, or their own position, so maybe it’s fitting that it’s Lamarckism spelled sideways.

  11. Grand Moff Texan says

    we must credit
    with being smarter than Albert Einstein!!!

    Or at least smarter than the dumb cracker who wrote that.

  12. says

    Doug Batchelor (who is significantly responsible for distributing Pinkoski’s nonsense) is a bright guy who sought meaning, purpose, and direction in a life that had gone chaotic and meaningless. He had, however, avoided learning much in schools, having discipline problems and being shifted around schools a lot (military school at one point), and ended up having no money to get further education.

    So he learned what he could, free religious instructions, which may well have benefited him at that juncture in his life (being given a “purpose” and forbidden to take drugs, alcohol, cigarettes–these substances had done harm to his life). And he did well, being a fairly good speaker who thinks well on his feet. It was a way for an uneducated person to get ahead, and he did so with gusto and almost certainly a sense of purpose beyond the personal ambitions that were actually driving him.

    He never did go to seminary, and became an SDA minister without even a college education. Now he leads the Sacramento SDA church and Amazing Facts, apparently with great benefit to his intellectual peer, Pinkoski (I did not know this part before today). The stories of both men are how to succeed, and perhaps get quite ahead, by (honestly, in the personal sense, I believe) buying into the “Truth” and pushing it upon the gullible.

    Doug’s “wild ways” (in both senses of the word) are great tales for those who have been forbidden to live as he did, giving some vicarious satisfaction to their repressed desires.

    There you go. Both men have been amply rewarded (I doubt either are very rich, fwiw) for learning next to nothing and having no capacity for critical analysis. Because they do honestly believe this nonsense, they come across as sincere people concerned about the “Truth” as their victims know it to be (my mother, for instance). They actually are all of that, for the most part, though unfortunately their religion precludes them (though not some others) from learning what intellectual honesty entails.

    It is not at all easy to reach past Pinkoski and Doug Batchelor (or Francis Collins) to provide another outlook to those who believe them. In a sense, the real counter-culture has always been the religious culture that has largely avoided Enlightenment ideals in order to create a world of their own “truths”. Pinkoski and Batchelor seems reasonable to these people, while almost nothing on this forum or on PT ever does.

    Pinkoski only needs to tell most of his readers that scientists are lying because…, and he’s got them. For Pinkoski makes sense to them in their eyes, so he can remake the evidence for them to fit their anthropomorphic conceptions of God and science. Indeed, many are grateful that he does this, feeling the tension caused by contrary claims drain away as Pinkoski “explains” what really happened.

    Glen D

  13. says

    Two things:
    A) Is it Stegomoeba or Acanthamoeba?
    B) I want to say that the ancient Hebrews should have had an 11th commandment, “THOU SHALT NOT USE GOD AS AN EXCUSE TO BE A TOTAL MORON,” but, technically speaking, that’s one of the exact things they meant when they already wrote “Thou shalt not take thy Lord’s name in vain.”

  14. says

    It just goes to show that there is no argument in the creationist armamentarium more powerful than the blatant non sequitur. It leaves one’s opponent stunned and momentarily speechless. Perhaps it’s the direct lineal descendant of the biblical “jawbone of an ass.”

  15. tomob says

    I’ve asked this question before…is there a biblical injunction against learning to spell? Note the clever way Pinkoski resolves his confusion about whether to use “it’s” or “its” as a pronominal adjective — it should be “its” — he spells it two different ways in the same sentence.

    If “evolution” is true, then each major life form would have to evolve it’s own eyes (as well as every other major organ of its body)!

  16. BlueIndependent says

    “It’s not online. You have to actually view it on paper!”

    Exactly…where it’s easier to pass around a bunch of small churches with insulated groups of attendees, many of whom do not have internet access, and generally fear technology. It also keeps the message and “evidence” out of the hands of those who might question its validity, and send it sinking to the bottom of the ocean with the Titanic.

    I think this fake debate is getting to the point where Christians that believe in the viability of evolution (they do exist) need to start printing their own anti-creationist rhetoric pieces and handing them out at churches or something.

  17. says

    Is Amazing Facts one of those periodicals I see on the rack at the Quickie Mart–with headlines like “Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Jesus Return and Form New Band” or “Batboy Kills and Eats Members of Spelunking Expedition”? Fer cryin’ out loud, can this guy Pinkoski feed himself? I’ve run into candied yams that were more erudite.

  18. says

    Evolution does not occur because individuals want it to happen.

    Huh? You mean that “_Will_ yourself to evolving a Larger Penis” email was lying to me? MAn, I gotta demand my money back from that guy in Nigeria…

  19. Azkyroth says

    Now he leads the Sacramento SDA church and Amazing Facts, apparently with great benefit to his intellectual peer, Pinkoski (I did not know this part before today).

    …this SOB is here in Sacramento? Argh…

    Heh. I still think the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard leveled at the scientific consensus (“evolution”) is the claim that “the LAW of superposition” (emphasis in original) renders evolution impossible.