You’ll find his picture next to ‘disingenuous’ in the dictionary


How stupid can creationists get? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s even more stupid than they assume me to be.

A short while ago I mentioned this Indonesian creationist who was posing as an evolutionary biologist writing a book “for the science community”. He wrote to me Just Asking Questions.

He wasn’t very good at the pretense. His first question was about the Atlas of Creation.

I was not very nice in dismissing him.

Really, if you can’t explain what is wrong with the Atlas of Creation, you’ve got no business writing a book about evolution. It’s that simple.

Alas, he is persistent and has come back with more requests. Dude, you are obvious, go away.

Ray Comfort only asks questions that biologists can’t answer because they are based on his misconceptions. Have you seen a cat evolve into a dog? The first elephant to evolve would have had to wait for millions of years for the first female elephant to appear. How do you explain elephants, then?

Not to mention that if you do give an answer, he’ll cut it out of his video.

I’m not responding directly to Mr Arif — I don’t want to encourage him. But if Muhammad Arif wants to be exposed as a dishonest fool, I’m happy to help.

Comments

  1. Nemo says

    I like “I often argue with creationists about the fossil record, but most of them are graduates of geology and biology”. As if. Graduates of bible college, maybe.

  2. says

    Didn’t Harun Yahya/Adnan Okhtar recently go to jail for certain gangster-type activities? I remember reading reports that he and his bigoted Muslim-extremist chums had been bullying universities all over Turkey into dropping evolution from their curricula. If this creationist stooge can’t even find a more credible “creation scientist” than Harun Yahya, then that alone is good reason to kick him to the curb.

  3. arief07 says

    I’am sorry Dr. Myers, I don’t mean anything, just want to ask a few things about biological evolution, and sorry for my bad english. At least if you think my question is weird, you can say it via email without posting here, I just want to get an answer from a scientist I admire :)

  4. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @3: Mr. Arif, you having English as a second language and trying to learn (if you sincerely are) despite that is admirable. What PZ is saying is that your questions presuppose facts not in evidence. He can’t answer your questions any more than he could answer the question “When you take pictures in your camera, where does the film go?”

    Dr. Myers is telling you there are no living fossils. So there’s nothing to explain. Let me ask you a question:

    How many living fossils do you think you would expect under a theory of evolution? How many under creationism?

    It strikes me that a perfect designer should have a bunch of perfect models. I would expect living fossils being near-100% under any reasonable creationist model. Even if we abandoned an omnipotent or arbitrarily powerful God as a creation agent, I would still expect a rate of living fossils that would be far, far above the essentially zero we see in the record.

    Count how many living fossils Yahya claims there are. Compare with how many species, both extant and extinct, are confirmed to have existed over all known history. Is the number, even being as liberal as possible, anything but a vanishing percentage?

    When you perform this thought experiment honestly, you will see that a creationist model contradicts known evidence.

    Now, are there open questions about evolution? Perhaps you can ask some! But you know that evolution has to be the answer, broadly speaking. Evolution predicts a very low rate of living fossils. Even Yahya has to concede that this is what we see.

    If you’re unwilling to do this and ask follow-up questions with that insight in mind, can you see why a busy man like Dr. Myers might lose patience with your unwillingness to learn?

  5. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Correction: ““When you take pictures in your phone camera, where does the film go?”

  6. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    Correction: ““When you take pictures in your phone camera, where does the film go?”

  7. davidc1 says

    @5 I thought that the fish they dragged up off the coast of South Africa was a living fossil .
    The Coelacanth ,plus the Horseshoe Crab to give another example .

  8. John Morales says

    david @8, well, yes — it’s in the name. What it means, however, is often misinterpreted.

    A living fossil is an extant taxon that cosmetically resemble ancestral species known only from the fossil record.
    […]
    Popular literature may wrongly claim that a “living fossil” has undergone no significant evolution since fossil times, with practically no molecular evolution or morphological changes. Scientific investigations have repeatedly discredited such claims.

    (Wikipedia)

    Something people generally don’t get is that everything is as evolved as everything else.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    The things that do not evolve are the thoughts of those who are deeply invested in ideology/religion
    .
    OT question- did extant lineages of insectivores exist before the dinosaurs died out? Mostly nocturnal critters like shrews or hedgehogs seem vulnerable to big predators wether those are theropods or canids.

  10. says

    @8 “fossil: a remnant, impression, or trace of an organism of past geologic ages that has been preserved in the earth’s crust”

    Explain how that can be alive?

    Now here is the entry for “living fossil” in the same dictionary:

    “an organism (such as a horseshoe crab or a ginkgo tree) that has remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times and whose close relatives are usually extinct”

    Notice that
    a) This use of the word “fossil” is at odds with its meaning. (That’s not the dictionary’s fault; it just tracks language usage.)
    b) By this definition, the phrase is only accurately applied if the organism actually has “remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times”. You can’t establish empirical facts through definition alone.

    You say “I thought that the fish they dragged up off the coast of South Africa was a living fossil .”
    Sure, some people have called it that, but how do you know that they are right–that it “has remained essentially unchanged from earlier geologic times”? Did you read PZ’s comments that “modern coelecanths … are very different from fossilized coelecanths”? Are you claiming that he is wrong?

  11. says

    @3

    You say that the you asking these questions doesn’t mean that you don’t understand basic biology or basic evolution, but this: “is there something wrong with [Ray Comfort’s] question Dr. Myers? Or maybe we haven’t been able to find any observable evidence of changes in kinds” proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you do not understand basic biology or basic evolution.

  12. says

    @10

    All extant organisms have a lineage that runs back to the beginning of life, so it’s not exactly clear what you’re asking. Are you suggesting that today’s insectivores all evolved from mammals that were not insectivores prior to 65 MYA? (The dinosaurs have not yet died out, y’know.) Why would you think that? There were mammals at the time, and they were mostly nocturnal insectivores. You say that shrews or hedgehogs seem vulnerable to big predators whether those are theropods or canids, but we have shrews, hedgehogs, and canids today so what’s your point?

  13. arief07 says

    @5

    I know some about living fossils, I read a lot of scientific journals about it before emailing Dr. Myers. But maybe what Dr. Myers dont know is that the questions I give are only for quotations from scientists, because indeed the contents of the books I write contain mostly quotations from scientists I contact, I ask that does not mean that I do not know what living fossils are, etc. It’s like a journalist interviewing someone, even though he knows a little of the answer, but the answer from the expert is more important and that’s what I did. Living fossils don’t really change, they do change, for example the Coelacanth fish. Research in 2013 wrote that this fish has undergone many changes, (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bies.201200145). I have studied about this living fossil since last 2020, I bought many evolutionary biology books to know more. Another Dr. Myers confusion is that he think of me as a creationist in disguise, even though I am not a creationist, even if I am considered a creationist because of my religion, I am a pro-evolution creationist. I’ve had a lot of debate with creationists in my place, as well as explaining to the public the theory of evolution as a scientific theory. After all, I read a lot of Dr. Myers article on the internet, because of that interest I contacted him to get more information, but unfortunately he was too pathetic in responding to a fan’s question.

  14. arief07 says

    @14

    I asked that because I saw Dr. Myers was confused in answering Ray Comfort’s question, he even laughed. Why not then Dr. Myers reprimanded Ray Comfort about his wrong question? It could be that he told Ray Comfort that his question was wrong or showed that you don’t understand the mechanism of evolution, why would he let Ray Comfort continue to question him, and instead said that Ray Comfort’s question was not true, etc. on the internet. Everyone can easily do that, when they lose a debate in the real world but then a lot of talk on the internet, blaming it, saying it doesn’t understand, etc, right?

  15. DanDare says

    @17 arief07 it would help if you linked to the actual video you are talking about.

    To answer what I think you are asking, the people Ray interviews often do correct him. He then just edits the video to exclude that. They then go online and rebut Ray where he cannot censor them. In some cases including their own, original recording of the interview to prove their claim.

    What question of Ray’s do you need answered?

  16. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @14: Okay. You claim to have done some research. What is curious is that the research you’ve done didn’t make you understand the con Yahya pulled, fairly blatantly: If your goal is to be a journalist, you need to be able to critically assess sources, or else your job can be done by a literal algorithm. Yes, you need to be able to get “both sides” to comment, but you should also be clear about the qualifications and sophistication of arguments of “both sides”. You also haven’t told our host what kind of book this is, or what your goal is. Do you understand why that can make you feel somewhat disingenuous?

    So Dr. Myers gave you your response. He spoke bluntly, but that’s actually good! You have someone on record saying that this argument is garbage. That should be good enough. Certainly not “pathetic”, as you’ve rudely suggested.

    It’s not clear if you think the coelacanth has changed or hasn’t. What is clear is that I asked you a direct question and you didn’t answer it. Please, do answer the question. To reiterate:

    “How many living fossils do you think you would expect under a theory of evolution? How many under creationism?”

    If you can’t come up with a percentage range and an argument for it, make a qualitative argument. And if you can’t, at least acknowledge that the question was asked, because it should go to the heart of why this is an important topic, why Yahya and creationists are being so dishonest about it, and what you need to do to reason more effectively.

    You then say that you’re a pro-evolution creationist. That’s not a coherent position to hold. Do you believe in divinely guided evolution? Or do you believe that beings were made in their original form and then evolved? In the former case, you’re not a creationist, you’re a religious evolutionist. In the latter, the problem is that you need to show us the moment where that indeed happened, and you can’t. The evidence shows common descent. And do you now understand why PZ thought you were being disingenuous? You clearly have a perspective, which you weren’t honest enough to admit the first moment it was relevant. You should do that in the future. You’re not a disinterested journalist.

    Anyways, your own citation shows that you had enough information to answer the question you asked PZ. Moreover, Yahya’s book has been fisked to hell and back. That is also available. So what do you need from PZ that isn’t readily available in the background information? Good journalists don’t waste the time of their sources. The only thing you could have been coming to PZ for, for a pull quote and a sense of the academic response to creationism and Yahya’s work, you got from PZ’s first response.

    @17: PZ has answered Ray’s questions. Dozens of times. People laugh at Ray now because he is deliberately being a disingenuous clown. He has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is both dishonest and not intellectually curious. You do know about the whole banana thing, right? About how he very clearly made an argument that was a sincere (if presented in a tongue-in-cheek manner) reductio, that he then got caught for his argument having a totally fatal flaw in it that is emblematic of creationist reasoning, and then he decided to pretend he’s a joke and a fool and that’s good for God somehow, even though Ray may be a moron but he’s not actually showing any humility or contrition which is much of the whole point of the fool archetype?

    You also seem to be disingenuous when you exclude a very real possibility: Ray’s questions can’t be answered directly. Mr. Arif, when did you stop murdering people? (I won’t use the “beat your wife” example because I don’t know if you’re married). Why don’t you just answer the question? There are questions that cannot be answered as a yes or a no because the question assumes away some kind of null state or third alternative that is in fact true. This is a straightforward fallacy and I have no doubt you are smart enough to see this. So are you actually going to defend Ray’s question as being actually a legitimate, non-fallacious, non-dishonest question, or not? Because you can’t just act as if PZ had no possible reason to respond as he did. You know better. I wonder if you actually think Ray has made a single point that has not been addressed ad nauseum (see: PRATT).

    TL;DR: Please respond to the question I asked you originally.

  17. arief07 says

    @18

    Maybe yes Mr. DanDare I agree with you, someone can edit the full video for his personal interest like Ray Comfort, talking about answer, I just need an answer from Dr. Myers in case if someone asks me the same thing, so I can explain it. Regarding the answer to his question, I only found out after emailing Dr. Myers, I read several articles on the internet about the interview, but before that I didn’t know the answer, that’s why I asked Dr. Myers.

  18. arief07 says

    @20

    No Mr. Frederic I did not do direct research, I only read the results of the research. Yes, that’s right, maybe my mistake was not telling what kind of book I wrote. So the book I wrote is about evolution and the origin of humans. My book is planned to fill each chapter with many opinions of scientists, not only scientists, I also interviewed several religious people to ask for their point of view. And as I wrote above, this book includes many quotations from scientists, Dr. Myers was one on the list of scientists I wanted answers to, that’s why I asked him. I’m not asking about how many living fossils are here, what I want is an answer from question “how living fossils were formed and why”, that’s the only question I’m asking, my interview with Dr. Myers was all that really was, but he responded with an answer that didn’t good for me.

  19. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @22″ Mr. Arif, surely you realize that asking your sources to watch a long video, especially when that video is put up by people you know they believe are disingenuous, is not particularly respectful of their time? Find specific questions the video gave you and ask them. The video is from one of Ray Comfort’s propaganda tracts and isn’t even formatted to ask questions. What you’ll find is that most of those “Ask an atheist twenty questions” or “Ask an evolutionist ten questions” videos are asking questions that are already well-answered, showing the people to be making the video to either be childishly misinformed, delusional or dishonestly propagating the idea that there are no answers to those questions.

    @24: Mr. Arif, I’ve asked you a question twice now you and you refuse to respond. Why? Is it because the question demonstrates why you continuing to ask is pointless?

    You’ve already had your question answered by PZ, people here and the primary literature, Mr. Arif. It’s really simple: “Living fossils” are creatures who have not seen as much change as other organisms (though never no change, as slight modifications continue to adapt them to a subtly changing environment). They are in this position because they’ve already achieved a niche in their environment. Take sharks (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/modern-sharks-may-not-be-living-fossils-after-all/). The researchers in shark fields are constantly having to clarify that “living fossils” in the sense of organisms that don’t change at all don’t exist. But why sharks can seem morphologically similar to specimens from hundreds of millions of years ago in the broad strokes (though with differences that the experts can explain are actually quite substantial) is because the shark body form is really, really effective. Why change when you’re already winning? There’s a related phenomenon called carcinization: Lots of separate lineages have evolved into what basically looks like a crab, because the crab form is a really good balance to mobility and armor compared to alternatives such as looking more like a lobster or crayfish. This is really basic stuff, and it’s been amply explained to you now. Do you see why this thoroughly answers the questions of people like Ray Comfort and Yahya? That evolutionary theory actually has no reason whatsoever to expect that every form will always be in constant flux, precisely because there’s no selection pressures operating on creatures who are already winning in their niche?

    This is why I keep you asking that question, to see if you get the point. Evolutionary theory in fact predicts a small number of “living fossils”. Even a lineage that didn’t change at all wouldn’t actually contradict evolutionary theory: It’d just be an extreme outlier. And that is exactly what is predicted in the evidence. Meanwhile, creationists who invoke the point as if it’s useful to them ignore that their theory would (as long as they’re not cheating, which they always were) anticipate a near-100% rate of living fossils. Organisms shouldn’t even need to evolve! A perfect designer with perfect foreknowledge would never need to make something that could adapt; It would have known the adaptations that would be necessary ahead of time! So the question is either one that is fundamentally ignorant or fundamentally dishonest when asked by a creationist, because when you actually properly compare the two theories (instead of doing what creationists always do, which is to nitpick evolution and then propose an alternative based on exactly no evidence that actually supports their theory over any other – you are aware that creationism and neo-Darwinian evolution aren’t the only two logically available options, right?), evolution perfectly explains what we see and creationism makes predictions that are wildly falsified.

    Also, we know you didn’t publish a paper, Mr. Arif. That’s obvious. By “doing research”, I meant reading studies or even pop science explanations. If you had, you wouldn’t need this answer here.

    @25: So you have seen that an expert in the field has shown that Yahya made a claim that is based on a childishly poor lack of research, and so is thus either proof of utter incompetence or dishonesty. Why are you continuing to think that there’s any validity to Yahya’s work? Shouldn’t your book at this point say that Yahya and Comfort are not competent or qualified?

  20. davidc1 says

    “Did you read PZ’s comments that “modern coelecanths … are very different from fossilized coelecanths”? Are you claiming that he is wrong?”

    Don’t recall the Doc saying anything about coelecanths in this post ?
    I thought the species they dragged up from the ocean in the 1920’s hadn’t
    evolved from when it evolved into it’s present form until now .
    Sorry I can’t put it any better than that
    Species evolve into other species because of pressures from the environment ,along with competition from other species for food ,and predators .I always thought a living fossil was a species that had had no need to evolve because it didn’t face competition from other species or pressure from the environment ,is that not the case?

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