Creationist Wisdom #262: Red Blooded Proof

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the North County Times located in San Diego, California, and the title is Red blood cell complexity denies evolution. A provocative title!

This one was brought to our attention by one of our clandestine operatives. We’ll give you a few excerpts, enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary, and some bold font for emphasis. As we usually do we’ll omit the writer’s name and city. Here we go:

One-fourth of all cells are RBC’s (20-30 trillion). They contain no DNA, nucleus, nor most internal components that other cells have. Most other vertebrates do have nuclei.

Note that “RBC” is the letter-writer’s abbreviation for “red blood cells.” We assume he meant that one-fourth of a human’s cells are red blood cells. As for the number of cells in a human body, estimates vary between 50 trillion all the way up to 100 trillion. It depends on the size of the person, and the actual number is irrelevant to the letter-writer’s argument. It’s true that red blood cells have no nucleus and no DNA; they don’t reproduce. As for the letter-writer’s statement that “Most other vertebrates do have nuclei,” he’s probably referring to the fact that the red blood cells of most vertebrates have nuclei.

Does any of that disprove evolution? Stay with us as the letter continues:

Each RBC is replaced every 100 to 120 days; the “worn out” ones (entropy) are dismantled by macrophages (another complex cell) and recycled. The destruction and production are complex balancing acts extraordinaire.

Red blood cells are replaced as often as he says, but the connection to entropy is something we’ll leave you to ponder. As for the cells’ destruction and production being “complex balancing acts extraordinaire,” well, so is everything else.

We’ll spare you the letter-writer’s continued recitation of trivia. By now you’re wondering how this mindless (and somewhat garbled) outpouring of information about red blood cells is proof of creationism. The reasoning is a bit primitive, as with all creationist arguments, but here it comes:

This is just for starters. There are more than 200 different kinds of cells in the human body and each has its own chemical story of production, interdependence on everything else and organ formation. No computer could emulate cellular complexity, nor could evolution accomplish it in any number of trillions of years.

That’s it. That’s the whole letter. Dazzling, isn’t it?

What we come away with is that the letter-writer stumbled onto some kind of text about red blood cells — of all the things he might have focused upon. We don’t know his source, and it’s not important. Nor are we concerned with the garbled quality of his recitation. What matters is that upon reading the material he went into a bewildered daze and concluded that the only way to comprehend such things was to attribute it all to creationism.

As we analyze the letter-writer’s methodology, it boils down to these two steps: (1) recite data; and (2) declare Oogity Boogity! We told you the argument was primitive, but you gotta give the guy some credit — he did his research.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #262: Red Blooded Proof

  1. SC said:

    he did his research.

    True, but he didn’t do it well. If this were part of a report, even at the high school level, it would have received (and deserved) an F.

  2. Ceteris Paribus

    The letter writer says: “There are more than 200 different kinds of cells in the human body …”

    I presume he means 200 nice, clean, godly, and fully human cells, and not those nasty little freeloading gut flora cells hanging around in his gut, and which obviously haven’t read Ayn Rand enough be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

    The freeloaders in the human gut are estimated by a wikipedia article to outnumber human cells by a ten to one ratio, contain 300 to 1000 species, and make up 60% of the weight of what goes into the crapper.

    Which begs the question of what the Holy Designer really had in mind when he finished up the six day project, and created humans. Maybe humans were meant to be the bestest creature of all. Or maybe the designer was just playing a holy joke and created Adam to just house god’s chosen microflora.

    Either way, it appears that everything about the plan pretty much turned to crap.

  3. Ceteris Paribus says: “60% of the weight of what goes into the crapper.”

    The divinely ordained color of which, I’m told, is due to dead red blood cells. A little detail the letter-writer omitted to mention.

  4. Jim Thomerson

    I have read that camels do/do not have nucleated RBCs. I did a little research and am still not sure about camels. Mammals ordinarily do not have nucleated RBCs, but it will happen that occasional individuals of various species have a few or many nucleated RBCs, particularly while young. So far as I know, vertebrates other than mammals have nucleated RBCs. As I understand it, the blood pools in our spleen, in a low oxygen environment, and there is where the phagocytes remove abnormal RBCs. One of the treatments for sickle cell anemia has been removal of the spleen.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    So the designer left out the nucleus so that humans could figure out how to share blood 5667 years into their history. So sorry he did tell anyone this trick earlier, and untold millions have died.

    (I’m guessing about the benefit, but even if I’m wrong, why are human’s blood cells lacking nucleus, what was the designer’s reason?)

  6. Steven J. Thompson

    According to Wikipedia (a frequently accurate source), the lack of nuclei in mammalian red blood cells leaves more room for hemoglobin. And camel erythrocytes lack nuclei, as do other mammalian red blood cells, but differ from the red blood cells of other mammals because they are elliptical rather than circular. This trait is seen in many non-mammalian vertebrates and may have contributed to the idea that camels are like these other animals in having nuclei in their red blood cells.

  7. Curmudgeon: “As for the letter-writer’s statement that ‘Most other vertebrates do have nuclei,’ he’s probably referring to the fact that the red blood cells of most vertebrates have nuclei.”

    While the rest of you are taking the bait, this “supercurmudgeon” has another opinion. The letter writer chose his (*) words very carefully and deliberately. He wants his target audience (**) to think that humans are different, in “kind” not degree, from all other species, even though he know that ain’t so. He knows that stating it more accurately might make more readers check for themselves and see that his argument is misleading. He wanted to say “all other vertebrates” but knew that that was bearing false witness. So omitting the “RBC” was a compromise. I do wonder, though, if they think their clever language fools God, or if they think God will forgive them for telling little white lies to save the world.

    People who spin so many misconceptions have surely come across the refutations. Yet they always pretend that they don’t exist. Tell me again which side is promoting censorship.

    (*) I looked it up but ~99% of the time these letter writers are male – make of that what you wish.
    (**) Fence sitters, not committed evolution-deniers, who don’t need his “evidences.”

  8. The first comment in reply to this letter totally destroys his argument. I also learnt that RBC’s reject the nucleus as they mature, so the letter writer didn’t waste my time. Thanks SC, as a day when you learn something isn’t wasted.

  9. Adrian: “The first comment in reply to this letter totally destroys his argument.”

    He probably knew it before even reading it. But he also calculated that the average fence-sitter will not read it, and remember his misleading but catchy sound bites. When readers do read the comments, they often see unnecessary and irrelevant anti-religion comments, and that’s what sticks, not the devastating refutations.

    Letter writes are a fascinating “transitional species” between rank-and-file deniers and activists. Some realize from the comments that they are out of their league, and retreat to passive denial. The more skilled ones learn to be more slippery next time; YECs and OECs sound more like IDers, yet learn to be even better at “atheist baiting.” Once in a blue moon, the writer realizes that he has been scammed, and gives up the anti-science crusade.

  10. retiredsciguy

    Curmy, off the topic of this thread, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, Bill Nye the Science Guy goes after evolution deniers on You Tube:

    http://gma.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/bill-nye-science-guy-hits-evolution-deniers-123047918–abc-news-tech.html