Creationist Wisdom #138: Just a Story

WE present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled No empirical proof for evolution, which appears in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune, circulation roughly 9,000, published in Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. We’ll copy most of today’s letter, adding some bold for emphasis and our Curmudgeonly commentary between the paragraphs.

However, we’ll break with tradition and give the letter-writer’s name and city. He’s Greg Swank, a resident of Rudolph, Wisconsin. We’ve had occasion to write about this genius before. See: Creationist School Board Candidate in Wisconsin. He lost the election (see Rayome, Lee re-elected to Rapids School Board).

There’s nothing really original in Swank’s letter that we haven’t seen many times before, but it’s a good example of a certain line of argument — we won’t call it thinking — that sustains creationists in their silliness. And this guy had once been on his local school board, so his views are somewhat noteworthy. Here we go:

Why do I believe evolution is a religion? It’s a story, nothing more.

But … wouldn’t that mean religion itself is “a story, nothing more”? Well, we won’t dwell on that. Let’s read on:

You’ve heard it before. It goes something like this. In the beginning there was a big bang … [skipping a goofy narrative] … and eventually mutated into a human being. That sounds like a story to me, but you could label it a theory.

Ah yes, Darwin and the big bang. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? No? Then you’re not as well read as today’s letter-writer. We continue:

But let’s take a second to explore some scientific “facts” about evolution. In the early 1900s Piltdown Man was presented as the “Missing Link,” a transitional ape-man used as “scientific empirical proof” of evolution in the Scope’s [sic] trial of 1925.

Nothing like that happened in the Scopes trial. As for Piltdown Man, we’ve devoted an entire post to him: Piltdown Man: The Creationists’ Savior. Here’s more from today’s letter:

Nebraska Man — just one tooth found, later identified as a pig tooth. This one tooth gave rise to those famous “ape-to-man” drawings you see everywhere. Neanderthal Man — said to be a transitional human form was later found to be a male human suffering from arthritis and rickets. There are literally hundreds of examples like this, but not enough space in the article to list them all.

The point is, there is absolutely no empirical “proof” to the theory. In order to accept evolution as a “possibility” you must believe in it, or better yet, you must have “faith” that things happened they way you are being told.

Right, that’s all the evidence there is for evolution. And Neanderthal Man is just one solitary fossil — a human suffering from rickets. Or so says Mr. Swank. His “knowledge” consists only of what he finds at creationist websites. Moving along:

Intelligent Design simply says that systems are so complex, such as DNA, a cell, human organs, etc., that the probability of it happening by chance is impossible to calculate. It argues that if humans build something spectacular, it took intelligent design to achieve the end product, so why would an information system like DNA just happen? You see, the more we learn about life, the more we appreciate the complexities and from a “scientific” point of view it is viable theory, not a story.

Okay — ID is a theory, not a story. But wait a minute — what’s the precise distinction between theory and story? Somehow we missed it. Anyway, here’s another excerpt:

Recently, the argument for life evolving on earth fell into serious question, so now many evolutionists, including Professor Richard Dawkins, are saying maybe we were “seeded” from another race from outer space.

We suspect the letter-writer is getting that from Expelled, the execrable creationist “documentary” staring that noted scientist, Ben Stein. Swank ends his letter like this:

God bless all his creation.

Mr. Swank seems to have graciously accepted his election loss, and the students of the local school district are indeed blessed by the wise decision of the voters to reject him.

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

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9 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #138: Just a Story

  1. Hey, if Piltdown and Nebraska can disprove evolution by themselves, can we use the same principle to disprove creationism. Any slight mistake or misunderstanding automatically means we have to throw the entire thing out. Of course we’d stop progress all together, but hey, who needs that?

  2. God bless all his creation.

    All science so far.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    Any slight mistake or misunderstanding automatically means we have to throw the entire thing out.

    It’s the if-we-don’t-know-everything-we-know-nothing fallacy, applied by denialists of all stripes, whether it’s evolution, global warming, or whatever.

  4. “if-we-don’t-know-everything-we-know-nothing” matches up so well with the solution of “if we know nothing we know everything”, as exemplified by “something did something sometime somehow”.

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    Ah, but “if we know nothing we know everything we NEED to know” only works for one side; the other side is held to “if we don’t everything we know nothing”.

  6. retiredsciguy

    I wonder if there’s a community college near Mr. Greg Swank offering an introductory Geology/Paleontology course at a time that would be convenient for him. Since he has been on the school board, he should have some interest in education, including his own.

    Such a course may not change his closed mind, but it would at least help him to know a little bit about what he writes about, thus keeping him from sounding so ignorant.

  7. There are seven comments after his letter, so far. All of them think he’s an ignoramus. That’s encouraging.

  8. Here’s what Talkorigins has to say:

    In the 1800’s the famous pathologist Rudolf Virchow was one who claimed that the first Neandertal fossil found was of a rickets sufferer. As Trinkaus and Shipman (1992) point out, Virchow, an expert on rickets, should have been the first to realize how ridiculous this diagnosis was. People with rickets are undernourished and calcium-poor, and their bones are so weak that even the weight of the body can cause them to bend. The bones of the first Neandertal, by contrast, were about 50% thicker than those of the average modern human, and clearly belonged to an extraordinarily athletic and muscular individual.

    Point being — our earnest correspondent is making a claim that Neanderthals never existed as a separate form of humanity, relying on an argument dating back well into the 19th Century when the Neanderthal was first discovered. As if 150 additional years of research and a lot more specimens count for absolutely nothing. Actually, the nothing here is the amount of research the letter-writer did, apparently getting his knowledge from obsolete religious tracts that endlessly copy each other. without ever being updated.

  9. This Swank is seriously outclassed by the comments to his screed. Even Elsberry takes the time to get in a smack.

    Frank J., go talk Wilkins, Harshman and Ron O. into responding.