They’re trying to wear me down

I get email from creationists all the time, and it is so discouraging: there are a few people who manage to pump out so much noise and garbage, and there are a few people willing to engage their nonsense, and I guess I’m one of them. But I can’t possibly keep up! For instance, one obnoxious creationist has sent me a couple of links to his horrible website, Darhiwum, which just goes on and on with bogus misinterpretations at endless length. This particular article first quotes Conservapædia, and then explores the author’s misbegotten thesis, which is…let’s see if you can figure it out.

The cause of evolution does not exist in evolution. Evolution as a cause does not contain a response to the cause that makes it consequent. It does not give an account of itself, why is evolution possible in the first place? It is merely a programmed biological process on an assembly line.

“Evolutionary units must know the “trick” of reproducing, they must have heredity, hereditary variation… The basic problem is that the first evolutionary units could not have evolved in an evolutionary way, because they did not have the necessary properties at that time.” /Evolutionary biologist Eőrs Szathmáry/.

Where did they get this “knack” – they have no idea!

A pre-existing ability cannot be developed afterwards, and if the ability to evolve /reproduction, mutation, variation, natural selection, heredity/ is not there in the first place, the evolutionary process cannot even start. Evolution can only work if all its components are present and working simultaneously. Where do we get these capabilities by which the alleged evolution takes place?

First, I have to get something out of the way, this contemptible habit creationists have of quote-mining scientists. Eőrs Szathmáry is a theoretical biologist who published with John Maynard Smith, wrote articles presenting the mechanisms for evolution, and was never arguing for creationism. This creationist, though, throws out a mishmash of Conservapædia and established scientists to somehow lard his ideas with some trace of authority.

Their article goes on for thousands of words, but their central stupid idea is that evolution needed to evolve a specific mechanism for mutation, but evolution cannot proceed without mutation. Error is apparently intentional and designed; error is the “capability” that needs to be put in place by design.

I tried to read this bozo’s work with an open mind, but as it sank in what he was trying to argue, I realized that he was just stupid and not worth the effort.


  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    …evolution needed to evolve a specific mechanism for mutation…

    I’m admittedly operating on a high-school-biology level, but I was under the impression that there were quite a few mechanisms for mutation: Radiation (something that there probably was quite a bit of on primordial Earth), chemical mutagens, and sometimes there is simply just an error in replication. Of course, I’ll let better educated heads correct me and/or elucidate further.

    Does this Bible-fucking clown really think those don’t exist? Nope! On second thought I don’t want to know what this creep thinks about anything. I’m having a hard enough time trying to parse the word salad PZ quoted.

  2. Rich Woods says

    Is this person one of Tucker Carlson’s science advisors? Do they also double up as one of Carlson’s supermarket reviewers?

  3. raven says

    Mutation is inherent in the process of replicating long sequences of DNA nucleotides.
    No process is perfect.

    I’m just guessing here, but mutation could be thought of as a consequence of entropy.

    One of the many mistakes of the creationists is assuming that mutations are rate limiting for evolution to occur.

    The available data shows that natural selection or selection pressure is usually rate limiting. That is why we see adaptive radiations whenever new ecological space opens up.
    That is, the mammals are actually a very old line of animals. They remained small and obscure until the Chicxulub asteroid slammed into Yucatan 65 million years ago.
    After that, they promptly took over the ecological niches occupied by the dinosaurs.

  4. says

    Their article goes on for thousands of words…

    That’s not science, that’s theology — the bluff that keeps on bluffing…forever…

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Finally a niche where AI will be useful.
    Instead of answering the garbage messages you can have a low-quality AI do it for you. As their arguments are recycled again and again the ‘training’ phase will be uncomplicated.

    An optional extra is to train it to emulate the sarcastic and rude Basil Fawlty or Edmund Blackadder.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    “Their article goes on for thousands of words”
    -Wait, did they program an AI first?

  7. garnetstar says

    Those above talking about no process being perfect and errors in replication are correct.

    One of the mechanisms that drives evolution is called chemistry. It is not possible, by the laws of thermodynamics, for any chemical reaction to have only one product. That means, for every chemical reaction involved in replication (aka, all of them), there are always a certain percentage of products produced that are different from the major, desired one.

    I mean, for goodness sake, read a basic chemistry book before you blather on about needing a “specific” mechanism. I have noticed that all these creationists who babble about no way to self-organize or create mutations deliberately remain ignorant of chemistry (and, of course, of a lot else.)

  8. says

    One creationist tactic: Say something stupid and false, repeated it over and over again and voila! It becomes fact worth spreading repeatedly around the WWW!

    Boy do I feel sorry for you, PZ.

  9. says

    @garnetstar #8
    I think you’re on to the right track, there. It’s probably an issue with knowing just a little bit of chemistry. When people first learn about DNA replication, they’re shown diagrams that are very simplified and imply that tap A goes into slot B, almost like some kind of “assembly line”. It takes a while before you realize that, in the real world, the process is much more like throwing a bag of nails at a wall and then a few of them stick. I doubt that the average creationist ever studies that much.

  10. ardipithecus says

    The arguments about mechanisms or irreducible complexity show that the creationists can’t get their heads around the fact that evolution does not have intent. Inherent in their hypotheses is the notion that to get from A to B, one has to want to get from A to B. So, even if those who have some vague understanding of the sloppiness of chemical reactions, the reality of byproducts is irrelevant to them. In their minds, god is directing everything, and they appear incapable of seeing it any other way.

  11. andywuk says

    I suspect the urge to engage with and correct creationists must be connected to the (laudable) urge to teach. PZ has my respect and sympathies.

    For my own part there’s a local church who regularly set up a stand in the local shopping centre and blather on with the old saws of formation of the eye etc. Watching them one day I realised 1.) correcting their wilfully ignorant BS would be a lot of hard work and 2.) I couldn’t be arsed.

    I’m not cut out to be a teacher.

    As consolation, many passers-by were treating them in a classic British manner by taking the piss.

  12. Alan G. Humphrey says

    That gibberish seems to reduce to, “Reproduction can’t happen without sex and sex can’t evolve without reproduction.” In other words, a “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” discussion, where they’ve ignored the billion years of chemistry that occurred before there was even DNA.

  13. says

    It’s chickens and eggs all the way down. If by chicken you mean the biochemical unit capable affecting the synthesis of it’s own precursors. Like something that can mash modified acetate chains together.

  14. d3zd3z says

    It’s always fascinating when people use “big words”, but clearly don’t really understand what those big words mean.

  15. steve oberski says

    So I foolishly followed the link to the web site and up pops a dialog asking me if I wanted to translate from Hungarian to English.

    Seemed appropriate.

  16. lanir says

    For what it’s worth, my take was a slant on what some others like Akira, raven and garnetstar mentioned. In isolation that quote by the biologist doesn’t sound all that noteworthy. I think we’re supposed to read it as some kind of gotcha but… I don’t think it matters if self-replicating chemicals were self-replicating for a very long time before something didn’t go quite right with the copying. If you compared the fuzziness of the time factor of life beginning with the frequency of those chemical processes I suspect it would be more amazing if things replicated perfectly over that amount of time.

    Basically the quote doesn’t make the case the creationist wants it to well enough on its own (for a general audience) and that means he’s even failing at quote mining.

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