Creationist Describes “Weaknesses” of Evolution

The endlessly-fascinating website of that venerable creationist organization, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), presents us with an article that may shake your soulless, scientific mind to its naturalistic roots: No Weaknesses in the Theory of Evolution?

The author’s name is Frank Sherwin, described below the article as “Senior Science Lecturer.” There’s a Wikipedia article about an Irish politician of that name who died in 1981 — probably not the same man. Ah … after a bit of searching we found this: biographical page about Frank Sherwin, III, which describes him as “an Aide de Campe to ICR’s President, Dr. John Morris.” That’s our man. Here are some excerpts from his article, with bold added by us:

“There are no weaknesses in the theory of evolution.” This was the testimony of Eugenie Scott to the Texas State Board of Education in January when the Board was debating new state science curriculum standards. Dr. Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a watchdog group committed to exposing and ridiculing any group that questions the strange paradigm of Darwinism.

Yes, “the strange paradigm of Darwinism.” Let’s read on:

Is it true “there are no weaknesses” in this particles-to-people worldview?

We usually see creationists bravely beating up on the strawman expression “molecules to man,” but this “particles-to-people” is a welcome variation in their routine. Let’s continue:

Clearly, there is a very real problem with what biological molecules (DNA and proteins) tell the evolutionary scientist, versus what morphology (fossils) says. Evolutionary medical journalist Trish Gura exposed this weakness when addressing a raging debate within evolutionary circles:

Whoa, baby! The Darwinist oath of silence has been violated! The conspiracy is exposed! The jig’s up! The cat’s outta the bag! The game’s over!

We found the traitor’s website: Trisha Gura. According to a footnote in the ICR article, which gave no link, the revelation was disclosed in this article: Bones, molecules…or both? The article is dated July 2000; the news is a bit old. A subscription to Nature is required to read the article, so our readers are cautioned to be extremely skeptical of the quote which follows, as creationists are notorious for — shall we say — inaccuracies in such matters. Anyway, here’s what ICR claims Trish Gura wrote:

When biologists talk of the “evolution wars,” they usually mean the ongoing battle for supremacy in American schoolrooms between Darwinists and their creationist opponents. But the phrase could also be applied to a debate that is raging within systematics. On one side stand traditionalists who have built evolutionary trees from decades of work on species’ morphological characteristics. On the other lie molecular systematists, who are convinced that comparisons of DNA and other biological molecules are the best way to unravel the secrets of evolutionary history.

Well! There’s “a debate that is raging within systematics.” Let’s get back to the ICR article:

When the fossil record tells one evolutionary scenario while biological molecules tell a different story — that’s a weakness that schoolchildren, for example, have a right to hear.

Here, we must puncture this creationist hot-air balloon before it gets too far off the ground. It’s quite true that detailed DNA analysis sometimes requires some tweaking of a species’ place in the Tree of Life. But these occasional corrections merely strengthen the resulting picture of common descent. They never contradict it.

Such corrections are about as significant as your finding a document which shows that a man you believed to be your great-great-grandfather was actually not your ancestor; but instead you are descended from his brother. It’s a change, but it’s not as if you learned your grandmother was a palm tree.

The ICR article discusses a few other “weaknesses” of evolution, none of which is any more important than a minor adjustment in the historical lineage of a few specimens. At the article’s conclusion, it says:

Evolutionists would say that these are only unexplained problems with evolution, not issues that are unexplainable. Very well, let’s teach children in taxpayer-funded schools the as-yet unexplained problems (weaknesses) with evolutionary theory. If evolution is truly a valid scientific theory, it should be able to easily weather a reasoned inquiry as to its weaknesses and strengths. The irrational and visceral reaction by secular scientists to this suggestion says otherwise.

If a high school biology curriculum demanded that children be notified every time some beetle’s line of descent gets corrected due to a rigorous examination of its DNA, what would that accomplish? Would it prove Noah’s Ark? Frankly, we doubt it.

These so-called “weaknesses” in the theory of evolution aren’t weaknesses at all. They represent a great strength, as additional study permits researchers to make increasingly exquisite refinements to our understanding of the evolutionary history of life on earth.

Speaking of trivia, Casey Luskin wrote about Trisha Gura’s “revelation” in this Discoveroid blog article from February of last year: Peter Atkins Dramatically Overstates the Evidence for Evolutionary Phylogenies. Like his creationist colleague at ICR, Casey also leaps to the conclusion that “that Darwinian evolution is faring poorly” as a result of these matters.

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8 responses to “Creationist Describes “Weaknesses” of Evolution

  1. Well, let’s get right to business exposing the mendacity of these anti-Evo cretins, shall we?

    Our Curmudgeonly Leader wrote:

    We found the traitor’s website: Trisha Gura. According to a footnote in the ICR article, which gave no link, the revelation was disclosed in this article: Bones, molecules…or both? The article is dated July 2000; the news is a bit old. A subscription to Nature is required to read the article, so our readers are cautioned to be extremely skeptical of the quote which follows, as creationists are notorious for — shall we say — inaccuracies in such matters. Anyway, here’s what ICR claims Trish Gura wrote:

    When biologists talk of the “evolution wars,” they usually mean the ongoing battle for supremacy in American schoolrooms between Darwinists and their creationist opponents. But the phrase could also be applied to a debate that is raging within systematics. On one side stand traditionalists who have built evolutionary trees from decades of work on species’ morphological characteristics. On the other lie molecular systematists, who are convinced that comparisons of DNA and other biological molecules are the best way to unravel the secrets of evolutionary history.

    There’s no need to speculate about what Gura meant by this, as she quite clearly articulates her position on the implications of minor squabbles within Evolutionary theory:

    Scientists do of course disagree on some of the specifics of evolution. For example, they argue about the exact positions that whales and hippos occupy on the tree of life and about the exact sequence of genetic changes that cause tumor cells to develop resistance to chemotherapy. Darwin’s theory hasn’t explained all these details—at least not yet, say scientists. But the devil is in the details.

    Meanwhile, anti-evolutionists claim that these disagreements cast doubt on whether evolution ever happened at all—”a completely willful misinterpretation of the level of disagreement between scientists,” says Jack W. Szostak, HHMI investigator at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who studies the principles of Darwinian evolution on populations of DNA molecules in the laboratory.

    from her article on the “Evo Wars in Ohio,” which can be read as a pdf document HERE:

    http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/pdf/sept2002/Evolution.pdf

    Yup, this is a clear case of yet another Creationist misrepresentation of reality by quoting a scientist out-of-context, to give false support to their reality-challenged world-view.

    In court, failure to tell the WHOLE truth about a material fact under oath is felony perjury; the only difference between that and what Mr. Sherwin did in misrepresenting Ms. Gura’s quote is the oath.

  2. Do these people (bloviating Creationists who “quote-mine” the writings of others in order to twist their words to service their own anti-rational agenda) have no shame at all?

  3. Creationism is never having to say you’re sorry.

  4. Do these guys get all their ‘science’ material from time capsules? Do they bury all scientific reports in the ground to get rid of the materialistic cooties?

    On that note, what determines how many decades it stays in the time capsule? How long until they finally dig out Origin of the Species and actually read it instead of depending on a few quote-mines of it.

  5. Penn Towers

    It’s a bit like ideas on glaciation — geology gives us part of the picture but each glaciation partially erases the record of the previous ones so the record is a bit crude — then along comes isotope analysis of ocean floor sediments which us a much finer picture.

    Anyway, Gura’s Nature article (to which I have access) is sub-headed (presumably by an editor):

    “Evolutionary trees constructed by studying biological molecules often don’t resemble those drawn up from morphology. Can the two ever be reconciled, asks Trisha Gura”

    And she has been accurately quoted and not taken out of context. It’s a real and lively and interesting debate. But it in no way casts a shadow in the FACT OF evolution — it’s about some relatively slight shifts in the branches.

    What’s always stupid about these creationist stories is how they are given “teach the controversy” meaning when, in fact, there is no disagreement on the the fundamentals of evolution. Still, if you did teach this in school it would a real interesting lesson how science is done and how it progresses.

  6. Anonymous

    Bashing steriotypical creationists, using countless logical fallacies, surely is the best way to show that one is ‘logical’ and ‘rational.’

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bashing steriotypical creationists, using countless logical fallacies, surely is the best way to show that one is ‘logical’ and ‘rational.’

    Can you expand on that for me. Just a bit? I want to be sure I understand your point.