ICR Says the Brain Is Proof of Creationism

This is about an inherently silly article at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. But it makes an interesting logical error that’s worth pointing out.

As soon as you see their title, Brain’s Complexity ‘Is Beyond Anything Imagined’, you know everything they have to say. We won’t excerpt too much about their description of the brain because that’s not why we visit ICR. We do it for their creationism. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

The brain has for a long time been compared to man-made computers in its astounding ability to process, store, and route information. But a new imaging technique has revealed that just one brain’s connections and capacities far outnumber and outpace those of all the world’s computers. And this makes the question of the origin of brains that much more difficult for naturalistic explanations.

Okay, so it’s difficult. We posted this almost two years ago: How Did the Brain Evolve?, in which we discussed some research about brain evolution, which showed that “some of the proteins involved in synapse signaling and learning and memory are found in yeast,” and we wondered if the creationists would ever get around to discussing brains — instead of endlessly quote-mining Darwin about eyes. The brain has now come to their attention, and maybe it’s our fault. But we’ll carry on anyway.

ICR then discusses this magazine article about some brain research, and they quote the magazine which says that the researchers found “the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined,” That’s enough to throw ICR into a tizzy.

ICR doesn’t mention it, but this is the paper the magazine is gushing about: Single-Synapse Analysis of a Diverse Synapse Population: Proteomic Imaging Methods and Markers. It’s all on-line at that link, and it’s about the authors’ imaging technique, nothing more.

Presumably still discussing the magazine article, ICR then says:

[T]they found that the total number of synapses in a brain roughly equaled the number of stars in 1,500 Milky Way galaxies! And memory patterns and tiny on/off switches, which were long thought to reside in the larger neuron cell bodies, were instead found to be smaller than the tiny synapse connections. Each of the neurons imaged in the study serves thousands of synapses.

Wow — big numbers! What else does a creationist need? Perhaps a bit of information to put those numbers in some kind of context would help. This Wikipedia article on human flora, for example, says:

The average human body, consisting of about 1013 (10,000,000,000,000 or about ten trillion) cells, has about ten times that number of microorganisms in the gut

What’s our point? Only that when we look at things that are very small, the numbers are likely to get big. But ICR doesn’t care, so get ready — here comes the creationism:

The more complicated a system is, the stronger it argues for having been intentionally designed. And brains certainly qualify, despite assertions that random-acting natural processes somehow assembled them. In these cases, the burden of proof lies heavily on those who insist that such systems are not in fact what they plainly appear to be: the products of intentional ingenious design.

We hinted at a logical error, and there it is. Big numbers somehow flip the burden of proof. Now — according to ICR — they’ve made their case for creationism and it’s up to the scientists to disprove it. Amazing argument, what? Then, imagining that they’ve achieved some kind of victory, they drive the point home:

The God of the Bible stands as the most tenable source of the specified complexity of interconnected neurons upon which human and much animal life depends. Until a naturalistic alternative can explain how a self-healing, adaptive, cosmic-sized internet of connectivity has been shrunk down to the size of a brain, then it is best to identify this hyper-tech design as being the product of a real Designer.

Creationism wins! They have evidence! What evidence? The brain is complicated. It has more synapses than the number of stars in 1,500 galaxies. (The population of microorganisms in your gut is even greater.) This is ICR’s last sentence:

And until an objective body of evidence can legitimately debunk the Bible’s historicity and proven accuracy, then it is best to identify this Designer as the Creator and Sustainer revealed in Scripture.

That’s it, dear reader. The game’s over.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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10 responses to “ICR Says the Brain Is Proof of Creationism

  1. And until an objective body of evidence can legitimately debunk the Bible’s historicity and proven accuracy,

    SC, you’re right. No need to debate with such irrationality. They’re beyond redemption, in more ways than one.

  2. I’m reminded of the cliché about there being a limit to genius, but stupidity go on forever.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    just one brain’s connections and capacities far outnumber and outpace those of all the world’s computers.

    A computer built in 2010 has connections and capacities that far outnumber and outpace those of all the world’s computers in 1950.

    Sometime between 1950 and 2010, obviously, God started making computers.

  4. I always like the line, ‘see how different (esp. more complex) life is from design. Therefore, design.’

    Uh, yeah, it’s disanalogous, hence the analogy wins.

    It’s easier for creationists who aren’t hiding anything, though, because they’re not pretending to really rely upon analogies with human creations (even when they imply that they do). They really mean to say that mystery = god, easily a non sequitur, but not the IDiots’ attempt to claim that disanalogy proves analogy.

  5. Wait. I’m confused. I thought the “complexity” stuff was only “evidence” of ID, not creationism. What do the Discoveroids have to say about ICR’s “discovery”?

    Gabroel Hanna: “Sometime between 1950 and 2010, obviously, God started making computers.”

    Jan. 1984, specifically. Didn’t you watch the Super Bowl commercial? 😉

  6. And until an objective body of evidence can legitimately debunk the Bible’s historicity and proven accuracy…

    ….such as the Israeli state archaeological teams who, after 60 years of constant attempts to prove any part of the “Old Testament” right, have concluded its ALL made up propoganda and allegory. No Exodus, no wandering in the desert for 40 years, no Joshua, no Jericho walls, no Flood, no Queen of Sheba, etc etc etc. All propoganda and foundation myths copied from other more developed societies round them or dreamt up in King Davids day to make themselves bigger and more important than they were.

    But hey….this is the ICR…. where truth and evidence are undiscovered countries.

  7. Finally! This is where ID ultimately had to go – the claim that intelligence is unevolvable. Without that claim, any real evidence for design would just be evidence for the alien equivalent of dog-breeding, not God. Such a discovery would radically change our understanding of earth history, but not refute or undermine the current understanding of the biological mechanisms of evolution.

    I’m just surprised its taken them 15+ years to get here.

  8. Yes, the brain is stupendously complicated. However, a designer would have to be even more complicated, and presumably could not have evolved itself, so … whose theory is the more improbable? Who owns the burden of proof?

    The burden of proof lies squarely with the God of the Gaps, who thus far has not spoken on the subject.

    Besides, nature offers a whole range of brains to study, from relatively simple nerve ganglions (ganglia?) in worms etc. all the way up the scale to ours, with all manner of variation en route. Furthermore, the human brain’s evolution from earlier humans is fairly well charted, at least on size and overall shape (probably more, but I think I’ve tapped all my brain’s circuits on this subject). At any rate, I imagine think brain evolution is one of the more well understood of evolutionary topics.

  9. No, “imagine think” is not a new cognitive process.

  10. eric: “I’m just surprised its taken them 15+ years to get here.”

    Note that ICR is the one that “got there.” As with Freshwater, the DI is going to pretend that this “discovery” does not exist. Which mean of course that they will make sure not to refute it either.