Creationist Wisdom #232: It’s All About Fear

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Tulsa World, which boasts having “the largest news staff in Northeast Oklahoma.” The letter is titled Fear Alternative. 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. Okay, here we go:

Did all organisms evolve over time from a common ancestor, a single-celled organism? Charles Darwin said that his hypothesis of evolution would be proved or disproved by the fossil record.

Did Darwin really say that? One would think that when attributing statements to famous people whose works are freely available online, creationists would provide the appropriate quote with a link to its source. We can’t find such a statement by Darwin, but he made several statements about the sketchy nature of the fossil record. Here’s Darwin’s Origin of Species. In Chapter 9 – On the Imperfection of the Geological Record, he says:

But just in proportion as this process of extermination has acted on an enormous scale, so must the number of intermediate varieties, which have formerly existed on the earth, be truly enormous. Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.

He then goes on for pages explaining why the fossil record is necessarily incomplete. But nowhere does he even hint that this is a defect in his theory. Indeed, much later in that chapter he says:

If then, there be some degree of truth in these remarks [about the imperfect nature of the geological record], we have no right to expect to find in our geological formations, an infinite number of those fine transitional forms, which on my theory assuredly have connected all the past and present species of the same group into one long and branching chain of life. We ought only to look for a few links, some more closely, some more distantly related to each other; and these links, let them be ever so close, if found in different stages of the same formation, would, by most palaeontologists, be ranked as distinct species. But I do not pretend that I should ever have suspected how poor a record of the mutations of life, the best preserved geological section presented, had not the difficulty of our not discovering innumerable transitional links between the species which appeared at the commencement and close of each formation, pressed so hardly on my theory.

Aside from that, a striking number of transitional fossils have been discovered (see List of transitional fossils). So much for the letter’s first paragraph. Oh, we noticed the letter-writer’s cunning use of the word “hypothesis” instead of theory. That’s not worth commenting about. The letter continues:

Instead of housing an orderly progression of organisms in successive layers, the fossil record reveals a sudden, simultaneous explosion of life forms. Simple fungi, arthropods, dinosaurs and humans (yes, humans!) show up together in the same rock stratum in Glen Rose, Texas.

Lordy, lordy. That old canard. See The Texas Dinosaur/”Man Track” Controversy. On with the letter:

Meanwhile, significant transitional-life-form fossils remain undiscovered. It only takes one observation of fact to disprove a hypothesis, no matter how beloved that hypothesis might be.

That nonsense in Glen Rose, Texas isn’t going to do the job, so why doesn’t the letter-writer go out and find the elusive Precambrian rabbit? The letter ends like this:

Darwin’s hypothesis is disproven. Flora and fauna did not evolve gradually over millions of years. Yet the intelligentsia and the local newspaper editors howl about any attempts to teach this fact to schoolchildren. Why? Because they fear the alternative?

He’s figured it out. We’re afraid!

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #232: It’s All About Fear

  1. aturingtest

    “Why? Because they fear the alternative?”
    Weapons-grade projection there. I might ask him the same about his wilfully ignorant opposition to evolutionary theory. I am encouraged, though, that not a single comment in response to his letter supported his position (except one, tangentially, that labeled all the others as “liberals”).

  2. It’s usually not worth registering at those sites to leave comments, but this time I did and posted this:

    Fear “the” alternative? Irony meters everywhere are exploding. Every evolutionary biologist would love it if the were a scientific alternative to work on, and achieve fame and fortune. Unfortunately there are none. But there are plenty of mutually contradictory pseudoscientific ones, e.g. YEC, OEC, ID. And proponents of some of them think that Mr. Galazin is as wrong as any “evolutionist” does. Even ID peddler Michael Behe agrees that humans share common ancestors with dogs, dinosaurs and broccoli, though he denies (or pretends to deny) the Darwinian mechanism. Like many scientists who accept evolution I think that God is ultimately responsible. But so far he has outsmarted those who think that can catch Him hiding in the “gaps.” Oh, and I’m about as “liberal” as Mitt Romney.

  3. Frank: Thanks for commenting on the article. It does help us here in this reddest of states. We encourage people to write letters to editors and make comments on news blogs supporting evolution and opposing the crazy creationist bills. The Tulsa World has been editorially against creationist bills in recent years, unlike the major paper in the state, ‘The Oklahoman’ in Oklahoma City, known by most as ‘The Daily Disappointment,,’ is mostly a conservative mouthpiece, but they have accepted letters opposing creationism, but often change them somewhat.

  4. I know I’m routinely terrified of things I know don’t exist. Why just last night I wet myself when I imagined I felt the Tooth Fairy reach under my pillow.

  5. It would appear that the good people of Tulsa have no time for creationism.
    Every comment disagrees with the author.

  6. Tomato Addict

    NOBODY expects the Oklahoma Creationist! Our chief weapon is ignorance…ignorance and fearfear and ignorance…. Our two weapons are fear and ignorance…and ruthless efficiency…. Our *three* weapons are fear, ignorance, and quote mining…and a fanatical devotion to bronze age mythology…. Our *four*…no… *Amongst* our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, ignorance…. I’ll come in again.

  7. @TA: Beautiful! (provides standing applause!) I’m certain all of the Pythons would approve!