The Origin of Copulation

The subject of sex can be challenging to write about, but when it’s in the news it can’t be avoided. We shall endeavor to maintain our customary high standards throughout this post.

The topic is sometimes raised by creationists, who assert that sex couldn’t have evolved. The first time we ran across that argument was at the Jack Chick website — see Jack Chick: Sex Is Evolution’s Nightmare. Then the same line was echoed by Answers in Genesis (AIG). Our post about that one was Answers in Genesis: Sex Didn’t Evolve. Here’s a quote from the AIG article:

Sexual reproduction is only possible when both sexes have fully functional reproductive organs at the same time. … How is it then possible that such different and complex organs, which fit one another in every morphological and physiological detail, could have evolved suddenly?

Now we’ve found an article at PhysOrg that, ah … touches on the subject: Sex? It all started 385 million years ago (w/ Video). As that title suggests, there’s a video you can watch if you click over to their article. Your Curmudgeon hasn’t seen it, so proceed at your own risk. Anyway, here are some excerpts from the article, with a bit of bold font added for emphasis:

It may not have been love as we know it, but around 385 million years ago, our very distant ancestors — armoured fish called placoderms — developed the art of intercourse. So suggest a team of evolutionary scientists, who point to the fossil of a placoderm species blessed with the name of Microbrachius dicki.

There’s some information about them at Wikipedia: Microbrachius, which briefly mentions the latest findings, but we’ll stay with PhysOrg. Let’s read on:

Measuring about eight centimetres (four inches) in length, M. dicki lived in habitats in modern-day Scotland — where the first specimen was found in 1888 — and in Estonia and China. Placoderms have previously been found to be the most primitive jawed animal — the earliest known vertebrate forerunner of humans.

Then it gets interesting:

But they now have an even more honoured place in the book of life.

Oh dear, here it comes:

Microbrachius is the first known species to copulate in order to carry out internal fertilisation, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal Nature.

Here’s a link to that paper: Copulation in antiarch placoderms and the origin of gnathostome internal fertilization. PhysOrg continues:

Male fish had bony, L-shaped genital limbs called claspers which transferred sperm into the female, a more effective way of reproduction compared to spawning in the water, the study says. The females, for their part, developed small, paired bones with which they locked the male organs in place in order to copulate.

Egad, this is terribly graphic! Here’s more:

“‘Microbrachius’ means little arms, but scientists have been baffled for centuries by what these bony paired arms were actually there for,” said John Long, a professor of palaeontology at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia. “We’ve solved this great mystery because they were there for mating, so that the male could position his claspers into the female genital area.”

Ah, the mystery has been solved. Moving along:

Covered with thick, bony plates covering the head and trunk, placoderms ruled the world’s oceans, rivers and lakes for around 70 million years. They were then were wiped out around 360 million years ago in a mysterious mass extinction.

Well, they had a good long run. Another excerpt:

The critters handed on features such as jaws, teeth and paired limbs that are seen today in reptiles, birds and mammals, including humans. If the new study is right, the “claspers,” over hundreds of millions of years, evolved into the penis.

There’s more in the PhysOrg article. They actually describe how the, ah, deed was done. We’ll let you discover that for yourself. It’s going to be interesting to see what the creationists say about this — other than I ain’t no kin to no placoderm! Maybe they won’t say anything at all.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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AIG Talks About Ebola, Again

Our last post about AIG and Ebola was AIG Can Solve the Ebola Problem. Today they’re at it again — no doubt to serve the needs of the millions of people who turn to AIG for information about such things.

The new article is titled Is the Ebola Epidemic Evolution in Action? It was written by three of the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG), the online ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo).

The three authors are: Elizabeth Mitchell (a creationist gynecologist), Georgia Purdom (this is her AIG bio page), and Tommy Mitchell (here’s his AIG bio page). Yes, it appears that Elizabeth and Tommy Mitchell are married to each other — a creationist power couple.

Most of the article seems to be standard information about Ebola, but we’ll skip that because there are more authoritative sources. What we’ll do here is give you the parts that are pure creationism. Okay, let’s get started, with some bold font added by us for emphasis. One of their introductory paragraphs asks:

In the past, outbreaks have remained geographically confined to the regions where the organism that harbors them lives. Why is this one different? Is Ebola wielding the power of Darwinian evolution over medical science?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! What kind of a question is that? The kind that would occur only to a creationist. Skipping a load about case histories, symptoms, etc., they mention that the virus mutates, and then they say:

But is this evolution? No. When a virus or microorganism mutates, it might change some of its traits, producing some mutant copies better able to face the challenges in its environment and some less able. Obviously the ones better able to cope survive and become the “parents” of the next generation. But they do not change into different kinds of viruses or microorganisms. Ebola virus remains Ebola virus. This is not an example of molecules-to-man evolution.

Got that? It’s not turning into a crocoduck. Mutation isn’t evolution. Let’s read on:

What about concerns recently mentioned in the news that Ebola could evolve into an airborne virus? Many experts doubt this will occur. Why? Well, even though viruses mutate rapidly, they do not acquire the genetic information to build brand new structures that would make them into a different kind of virus.

You can relax, dear reader. The AIG creation scientists assure you that Ebola won’t become airborne. They explain why:

[W]hen we look at the reason many experts believe the virus will not be able to make this leap, we can see it is the distinction between molecules-to-man evolution (which does not happen) and variation within a created kind (which happens all the time) that makes this confidence possible. The fact that organisms are unable to gain new genetic information to add structures and functions leading them to become a different kind of organism, from the human point of view, is a very good thing.

Skipping over some stuff, they ask a very important question:

Why Did God Make Viruses?

You know the usual creationist answer, but it bears repeating. They say:

Because we are confident that the original world was good until the curse of man’s sin fell upon it, we know that the original viruses — like the original kinds of bacteria and all other microorganisms — must have been harmless and served useful purposes. Over the past 6,000 years many disease-causing variations have developed in viruses and indeed in all classes of microbes. However, the more science learns about this hard-to-see part of our world, the more hints we see that these things were designed as a vital part of our world.

Ebola isn’t God’s fault — it’s yours! Here’s more:

Ebola is indeed the latest challenge in this sin-cursed world, and a very dangerous one. But it is not powered by Darwinian evolution.

Ah, if it’s “not powered by Darwinian evolution,” we have nothing to fear. Then we come to the final paragraph, and it’s the funniest thing we’ve ever seen in an AIG article. Here it comes:

This information is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended as professional medical advice. The information should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or other health care professional. If you have specific questions about any medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider or go to a hospital.

That was priceless. Although AIG insists that they know far more about science than all those horrible secularists and evolutionists do, and although two of the three authors of their latest Ebola article are (or were) physicians, they have enough sense to caution their drooling readers not to rely on them. They don’t need to worry. The only people who take AIG seriously are already brain-dead.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Ken Ham Spews the Usual Nonsense

Night was dark

Three weeks ago, the New York Times carried an article by David Barash, a biology professor, about an introductory lecture he gives to his students: God, Darwin and My College Biology Class. He begins with this:

It’s irresponsible to teach biology without evolution, and yet many students worry about reconciling their beliefs with evolutionary science. Just as many Americans don’t grasp the fact that evolution is not merely a “theory,” but the underpinning of all biological science, a substantial minority of my students are troubled to discover that their beliefs conflict with the course material.

So he gives them what he calls “The Talk.” We didn’t blog about it because we rarely write about articles with which we agree. It’s much more fun to wait for the creationist reactions. But even when the Discoveroids posted their predictable response (At U. of Washington, Evangelizing Atheist David Barash Illustrates How the Scientific “Consensus” on Darwinism Is Maintained), we still ignored it.

We shall ignore it no longer. Today we have a reaction from Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia, famed for his creationist ministry, Answers in Genesis (AIG) and for the mind-boggling Creation Museum.

Ol’ Hambo’s article is Evolutionary Biologist Gets It Right (Sort of). Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

For years evolutionists have been repeating the famous mantra of “nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution” in one form or another. Evolutionary biologist David P. Barash is the latest to make statements of this kind.

Hambo quotes Barash a bit and then he says:

Now, something that Dr. Barash fails to mention in his article is that naturalistic evolution actually goes against a principal law of biology: the Law of Biogenesis.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! A biology professor is ignoring a basic law of biology! Well, actually not, because there is no such law. The irony here is that creationism recognizes no laws of nature, because The Man Upstairs can whimsically suspend them whenever a miracle is desired.

Yet creationists make a big point of defending the utterly fictitious Law of Biogenesis. That “law” is such a false, rotting, putrid clunker it’s amazing that anyone bothers with it. TalkOrigins mentions it in their Index to Creationist Claims, but they give it only a couple of sentences: Pasteur and other scientists disproved the concept of spontaneous generation and established the “law of biogenesis”. We have a brief section on it in our Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Let’s read on:

The biblical worldview doesn’t have this problem; the Law of Biogenesis is never violated because all life, including the original creatures God made to inhabit the earth, comes from the Life-giver, our Creator.

See? There are no rules whatsoever in creationism. Well, there is one rule: Thou shalt ignore reality! Hambo continues:

Also, when we look at nature we see animals reproducing according to their kinds. Dogs give birth to dogs, bats give birth to bats, and whales give birth to whales. However, biological evolution requires that one kind of creature gives rise to another — something that has never been observed. So evolution is actually going against observational science!

Jeepers, he’s right! No one has ever seen a squirrel give birth to a hippopotamus. Here’s more:

The observable evidence confirms biblical creation. Evolution is not fundamental to biology but, rather, goes against the evidence we see in nature.

No comment. Moving along:

Barash then states, “Although the natural world can be marvelous, it is also filled with ethical horrors: predation, parasitism, fratricide, infanticide, disease, pain, old age and death — and that suffering (like joy) is built into the nature of things.” He argues that evolution destroys the idea of a “benevolent, controlling creator.”

Here’s Hambo’s response to that:

I would certainly agree with him! If you believe that God used evolution to create, what you are really saying is that our all-wise, all-loving Creator used a wasteful process of death, suffering, and extinction to create life. This provides no answer to the question, Why is there death and suffering?

Suffering and evil is an ancient theological (not biological) problem, but Hambo has an answer — it’s because of Adam & Eve and their original sin.

Ol’ Hambo goes on a bit longer, then he wraps it up by urging his readers to pray for the professor, and he finishes with a pitch for the books and videos AIG has for sale. Hambo seems to have one constant operational imperative: Any pro-evolution article in the media is an opportunity to sell AIG’s merchandise. That ol’ Hambo is a smart man!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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Creationist Wisdom #485: Nothing To Lose

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Daily Inter Lake of Kalispell, Montana, the gateway to Glacier National Park. It’s titled Scorn at creationism reveals a deeper problem. There’s a comments section at the end, with no comments at the moment.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t use his (or her?) full name. The writer’s first name is Synoia, one which we’ve never encountered before. Excerpts from the letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

By rejecting the unproven theory of evolution, I in no way reject my degree in geology, my published thesis in geochemistry, or my work as a research assistant with Dr. Samuel Epstein at California Institute of Technology on the carbon isotope equipment he pioneered.

We’ve searched, but we get no Google hits on Synoia’s name in any scientific field. We found one hint that he (or she?) is in the travel business, but we’re not certain. Anyway, it would appear that Synoia hasn’t made much of a splash in science. On with the letter:

I realize that though our dating equipment would place the age of the earth at millions of years on the day of creation, in reality it would only be one day old. Medically Adam and Eve would have been 20 or 30 years old when in truth they were one day old.

Good, huh? Let’s read on:

What is of greater significance here is the inference that if you believe in a Creator, you are worthy to be laughed at, scorned, and incapable of contributing meaningfully to society. Behind it is the age-old assumption of an elevated elite who need to rule over the masses: who in their superiority can subject the lower beings to slavery, abuse, or death if to their advantage, as was the case with Africans in England and carried over to this country, with the Jews in Nazi Germany, and with unborn babies today.

Aaaargh!! That wicked “elevated elite” of science brings us slavery, genocide, and abortion! Synoia continues:

Our forefathers set up a different model: We are created equal by our Creator and have inalienable rights not based on education, color, creed, or age. On the other hand, if we have evolved — and use evolution as our yardstick — then some of us will be a little higher up the food chain than others and just as our dogs need us to rule over them, the inferior will need to be under the rule of the more powerful race and that could end up being a Hitler or ISIS or North Korea where we can put hundreds of thousands in concentration camps if they don’t agree with us.

The Hitler claim is typical of creationism, and it’s incredibly stupid — see Hitler, Darwin, and … Winston Churchill? — but this is the first time we’ve seen evolution blamed for ISIS and North Korea. Here’s more:

Steve Daines, chosen by the people in a primary election, represents the values underpinning the success and development of this great nation while someone chosen by a big government committee, who will support the well-oiled machine of community organization while fitting the bill to get elected and continue to empower the advance of socialism and communism in our country is not the person I want representing me.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Synoia is a supporter of Steve Daines in the current Montana election for the US Senate. We recently wrote about another one here: Creationist Wisdom #483: Steve Daines Supporter. A suspicious person might think that letters like this are being generated by Daines’ opponent, but we suspect that such a disinformation campaign isn’t necessary. Synoia is probably sincere. Moving along:

I don’t want to win an argument, but rather try to expose the subtle and powerful forces promoting pride and prejudice and ultimate bondage. All the power and knowledge of this physical world fails to ultimately reckon with the even higher spiritual forces behind it all.

Synoia’s only goal is to expose the “subtle and powerful forces” of bondage — and that’s the conspiracy of Darwinists and their blasphemous theory of evolution. Another excerpt:

If what I believe isn’t true, what do I lose by believing it? Our wonderful, intelligent, elite class of big government will take care of things; while believing as I do is very pleasant, helps me deal with the evil of this world, and encourages me to love and help others as much as I can rather than be self-centered and narcissistic.

That’s an invocation of Pascal’s Wager. What does Synoia lose if he (or she) is wrong? If living a life of flaming idiocy doesn’t represent a loss to Synoia, that’s okay with us. On with the letter:

But wait, will big government take care of things or botch it up as has been the case throughout history? On the other hand, if what I believe is true, those who reject it may have a pretty good life for now, but it will be the only heaven they ever know in an eternity of hell.

Pay attention, dear reader. Synoia is warning you that you’ll spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. And now we come to the end:

Since I have everything to gain and nothing to lose, I hope for their sakes I am wrong although I’m so convinced I’m not, I will try to win them to our side.

You’ve got it made, Synoia. Good luck trying to persuade the rest of us.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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