ICR: Mouse to Elephant Evolution Is Fallacious

A few weeks ago we wrote Mouse to Elephant in 24 Million Generations, about some research showing that it takes 24 million generations for a mouse-sized animal to evolve to the size of an elephant.

At the end we said: “let’s sit back and watch the inevitable fireworks from the usual websites.” It took longer than we thought, but now we have a response from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

ICR’s article is Mouse to Elephant Needs How Much Evolution? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

How much time would evolution need in order to make a mouse the size of an elephant? Since this kind of evolution supposedly occurs too slowly for biologists to observe, one place to look for answers is in the fossil record. But in order to answer this particular research question, a team of evolutionary biologists made some large assumptions.

You noticed that “supposedly” they slipped in there. Okay, what kind of assumptions did the biologists make? ICR says:

The group published what amounts to a circularly-reasoned argument in a peer-reviewed journal. They estimated the maximum rate of evolution to achieve the most extreme change in mammal sizes. To do this, however, they had to first assume that small changes in size that are observed today had no limits in the past. In other words, they assumed that a mouse could turn into an elephant given enough time.

Circular reasoning? Like the way creationists assume, ab initio, that Genesis is literally true, and then brush aside all other knowledge that might interfere with their “science” that — ah — supposedly confirms their assumption? Let’s read on:

The study authors wrote, “Achieving such a large transformation calls for major biological reorganization,” a task that they assumed was no problem for nature. But in real life, reorganization never occurs by accident, and it always results from personal intent.

That’s true for extremely limited definitions of “reorganization” — like moving around the furniture in your bedroom or re-arranging the clothes in your closet — but not for the rest of reality. We continue:

[T]hey calculated the number of generations by dividing chronological (historical) time by the time between generations. And from where did they obtain this chronological time? From the evolutionary age assignments attached to fossils! Their report referred to mammals known from fossils “70 million years ago.”

Oh, how circular! But wait — if geology, the fossil record, and DNA evidence — which are separate lines of evidence — all converge on the same conclusion, that’s a classic case of cross-confirmation. It’s hardly circular. Here’s more:

But of course they would say a mouse requires 24 million generations to turn into an elephant, since that’s how many generations fit into the supposed millions of years between smaller mammals found in lower strata and larger mammals in higher strata. But if the distribution of mammals in various strata resulted from the waters of Noah’s Flood inundating successive niches, then the age assignments are wrong, along with studies that assume them.

Yes! If all the data from independent lines of evidence were wrong and Genesis were correct, than that 24 million generation estimate wouldn’t stand. Moving along:

So, scientists did not directly “measure” evolution. How could they, without a time machine?

Right! A good creationist always asks: Were you there? Here comes the end:

Instead, they used circular reasoning by assuming that evolution can overcome any biomechanical obstacle, and by assuming the very timescales that they “measured.”

Circular reasoning! By the way, Answers in Genesis actually recommends circular reasoning for creation science. See AIG’s Logic: Prepare To Lose Your Mind.

One more point: If the researchers had somehow concluded that instead of 24 million generations, mouse-to-elephant evolution required 24 billion generations, which was impossible in the available time, would ICR have accepted their conclusions?

We’ll finish with something we’ve posted before, but it involves circular reasoning and we like it:

Self-Proving Truth Certificate

Everything written by the Curmudgeon in this blog is true. The presence of this Certificate is your proof. Our logic is undeniable.

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

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10 responses to “ICR: Mouse to Elephant Evolution Is Fallacious

  1. They’ve had all this time to come up with a meaningful response, and all they have to offer is that the scientists had different assumptions? That’s their response to everything.

    They’ve run out of ideas.

  2. Ed says: “They’ve run out of ideas.”

    They never had any.

  3. aturingtest

    “In other words, they assumed that a mouse could turn into an elephant given enough time.”
    Isn’t that just called “making a hypothesis and testing it, via mutliple lines of inquiry, against the evidence”? I don’t think they know what “circular reasoning” means.
    Oh, wait, yes they do- or at least they know how to do it. “But in real life, reorganization never occurs by accident, and it always results from personal intent.” See, THAT’S circular- using your conclusion as part of the reasoning and evidence toward your conclusion.

  4. Tomato Addict

    Silly Creationists …

    But in real life, reorganization never occurs by accident, and it always results from personal intent.

    … just the other day I accidentally “reorganized” a stack of papers from my desk onto the floor. I didn’t mean to do that.

  5. aturingtest says: I don’t think they know what “circular reasoning” means.

    Some of them do. But their readers don’t. That’s the important thing.

  6. alphazulu99

    “Faith: No one word personifies the absolute worst and most wicked policies of religion better than that. Faith is mind-rot — it’s a poison that destroys critical thinking, undermines evidence, and leads people into lives dedicated to absurdity. It’s a parasite that’s regarded as a virtue. I speak as a representative of the scientific faction of atheism here — it’s one thing we simply cannot compromise on. Faith is wrong, and at the same time faith is a central tenet of just about every religion on the planet. We can’t ignore that — that’s the thing we are interested in fighting.”–P.Z. Myers

  7. How many generations did it take for “microevolution” to generate all of today’s species from the relatively few number of “kinds” on the Ark?

  8. TomS: that would be a good question. Unfortunately, since the creationist definition of “kind” is more of an open-ended, qualitative one than a necessarily-circumscribed quantitative one, it’s easy for them to say that the “relatively few number” is as large as they need it to be to support their conclusion- and the number of generations is irrelevant, since they were all that way to begin with (from the time of Noah’s loading them onto the ark).

  9. I simply just don’t understand why Creationists insist that it’s illogically impossible for any animals to have ever evolved, yet, then imply that God magically poofing animals, and plants and fungi and everything else into existence, using magic, over the course of 1 week, 10,000 years ago, is somehow logical.

  10. It is odd they don’t allow a comment section with their articles.