AIG Reacts to “Your Inner Fish” Episode 1

At last we have a creationist reaction to Your Inner Fish, which aired last weekend, hosted by Neil Shubin. He discovered Tiktaalik, and told the tale in Your Inner Fish (Amazon listing).

It’s from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (ol’ Hambo’s online ministry), and the author is Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell. Her bio page at AIG says she’s a physician, board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She’s a creationist gynecologist, and she explains why Shubin is all wrong.

AIG’s title is: Review: Your Inner Fish, Episode 1. It’s rather long, and what Mitchell does is go through the whole show, describing what Shubin says, and then giving the creationist version. Because it’s so repetitive, we’ll have to skip a lot, so we give you only the goofiest excerpts. As always, the bold font was added by us for emphasis. Here we go:

Your Inner Fish, hosted on PBS by fish paleontologist Neil Shubin of Tiktaalik fame, blends fishy fables with embryology, genetics, and human anatomy. Shubin mingles observable wonders of biology with evolutionary explanations for their origin. He claims the human body itself contains the evidence for evolution and that “we are, every one of us, just a jury-rigged fish.”

“Fishy fables”? Can’t she can do any better than that? We’ll see. Here’s more:

Is there any harm in believing evolutionary “just so stories” about our bodies? There is. Blindly accepting the evolutionary explanations for why our bodies work as they do can lead to poor medical judgment. Wrongly believing that humans are just animals that go through a fish stage in the womb has tragically led many women to destroy the human life within them. And the false belief that the human body suffers from many flaws consequent to our evolutionary heritage leads to a mistaken view of the real origin of suffering and death.

That’s a new one. Now the creationists are blaming abortion on evolution. If abortions weren’t common before Darwin, why did the Hippocratic Oath, attributed to Hippocrates (c. 460 – c. 370 BC), originally say that a doctor would not help a women have an abortion? Surely such an oath wouldn’t mention a non-existent phenomenon. Never mind that. Let’s read on:

Shubin naturally spent much of the episode discussing Tiktaalik, which he found in Devonian rock deemed a little older than that in which Ichthyostega was found. Depicted walking out of the water in computer animations, Shubin opted to not discuss the anatomy needed for this feat, perhaps because Tiktaalik didn’t have it.

Despite declarations that Tiktaalik was “genuinely transitional” and had evolved “features contributing to the trend toward pelvic-propelled locomotion”4 across the terrestrial landscape, Shubin’s recent peer-reviewed writings do not make a case that it trotted out onto land.

No one claims that Tiktaalik literally walked — or trotted. It undoubtedly could only flop around with its bony fins, as walking catfish do today. We continue:

Rather than trying to make a case for Tiktaalik walking, Shubin asserts that the skeletal structure of its lobed fins pre-figured our own arms and hands.

[…]

Having now given viewers a glimpse of God’s marvelous design for the human hand, he gives the “god” of evolution the credit. He says, “So where did this marvel of evolution come from? It clearly has deep roots in the past. And you can see evidence of that in the bones of modern creatures.” Yet this is not “clear.” He simply assumes that similar skeletal patterns — common designs — demonstrate common ancestry rather than a Common Designer.

Ah yes, the designer likes to re-use his old plans — which only gives the appearance of common ancestry. But why does the designer always stick to old patterns? He never comes up with something that couldn’t be due to common ancestry — like a Pegasus or a centaur. Here’s more:

Darwin’s speculative explanation [common ancestry] remains as imaginative today as when he thought of it. Biology reveals animals vary and reproduce within their created kinds. Biological observation is consistent with the biblical account. It only makes sense that a wise Creator, the Common Designer of all living things, would use this versatile, stable skeletal pattern in countless different kinds of creatures.

The whole article is like that. Moving along:

Evolutionists can provide no mechanism for how such a trait [similar bones and muscles in the limbs] could develop through random processes in the first place nor be transferred to some new and more complex terrestrially mobile kind of animal down the road. God provided each kind of animal — and human beings — with the anatomical designs needed to function in its environment, no evolution required.

Can you handle any more? We can’t go on much longer. We’ll skip a few paragraphs about hernias, which Shubin says are due to an inherited design flaw. The creationist gynecologist disagrees. She says:

God designed a perfect human body along with a perfect world in the beginning. How do we know? He told us so in Genesis 1:31. And God warned Adam that rebellion would have consequences (Genesis 2:16–17). Adam did rebel and ever since that day the entire world has groaned (Romans 8:22) under sin’s curse. People’s bodies have worn down, gotten ill, and died. The problem is neither bad design nor evolutionary bondage, but the perversion of God’s good original designs as a consequence of man’s rebellion against the Creator.

Great, huh? The things that work are due to common design. Other things that don’t work so well are due to sin. Neat explanation! Here are the final words of her last paragraph:

We should be thankful that our bodies work as well as they do and that embryologic development usually operates as it should. Anyone who has studied human anatomy and physiology without evolutionary presuppositions — as I, a physician, have been privileged to do — should not recognize our “inner fish” but instead the hand of the Master Designer, our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16–17), and with the psalmist declare we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

We were expecting better, but considering how powerful Tiktaalik is as evidence for evolution, that was probably the best AIG can do.

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

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40 responses to “AIG Reacts to “Your Inner Fish” Episode 1

  1. We haven’t seen Shubin described as a “fish paleontologist” before.

    He describes himself thus in the opening minutes of the episode.

  2. No gods required.

  3. realthog corrects the Curmudgeon: “He describes himself thus in the opening minutes of the episode.”

    Oh. Well, he was being modest.

  4. Shubin identifies himself repeatedly as a fish paleontologist, stressing how important it is to look at human anatomy through the eyes of a fish paleontologist. Did you watch it? It was very good.

  5. Okay, okay. I’ll fix that erroneous remark.

    It’s gone. It never happened.

  6. Translation: Godditit! Therefore all the evidence is wrong.

  7. Stephen Kennedy

    While medical doctors do take some basic science courses as part of their training they are not scientists. An MD is not even an authority on the Biological Sciences let alone disciplines such as Geology, Paleontology, Astronomy and Physics. It is a real indication of how scientifically ignorant AIG is that they have assigned this creationist gynecologist the job of passing judgment and commenting on the research that renowned experts in their respective fields do and publish.

    Because the creationist gynecologist knows nothing about things like the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation and other difficult to understand topics in science her daily commentaries on scientific developments are very formulaic. She simply repeats what the scientist said and then, instead of giving any intelligent comment of her own on the science itself, because she does not understand it, she simply dismisses the research as wrong for the same familiar reasons: The secular researcher started with the wrong worldview and presuppositions leading to an erroneous conclusion, The researcher did not distinguish between observational science and historical origins science that can not tell us anything about the past, and most importantly, the scientist reached conclusions that are contradicted by god’s eyewitness testimony in the bible.

    AIG’s pretentions of being an organization that can in any way act as an authority on science are absurd but go to their facebook page and count all the morons that are convinced that AIG knows far more than secular scientists.

  8. I’m not sure where Dr. Mitchell got her MD, but when I taught anatomy at a major medical school, I saw enough to convince anyone who thought about it for 30 seconds that a freshman engineer at Lehigh could do a better design job. I know Dr. Mitchell works on the other end of the body, but, for example, having the air and food pipes cross in the throat is just plain stupid, and gurantees a number of the alleged designer’s alleged favorite creations will choke to death each year. Not a Nobel prize winning idea, sky fairy.

  9. Regarding “God designed a perfect human body along with a perfect world in the beginning. How do we know? He told us so in Genesis 1:31.” If he gave us a perfect world why have we had to modify so many of the plants and animals he gave us dominion over? Apples were to small, potatoes did bot have enough starch, neither did corn. Artichokes used to be thistles, sugar beets were ever so much smaller than a football rather than bigger as they are now. Nut trees have been hybridized and grafted onto other tree roots to prevent God-created root diseases. Grapes were too small and didn’t produce enough juice … need I go on? So much for a “perfect world.” These idiots keep making claims that they cannot back up at all and expect us to believe them?

  10. Christine Janis

    OK, time for some deconstruction of the article

    Caption for Figure 3. “These are photographs of Tiktaalik’s pectoral fins. —– Bones are named according to the bones they would correspond to in an terrestrial vertebrate: H=humerus, U=ulna. (The bone thought to correspond to the radius, not labeled, is on the other side of the ulna)”

    There are no actual labels on this drawing. However it is color coded according to the bones. There is a huge purple bone identified as the radius. Duh.

    ” Several small bones are also thought to correspond to digits are labeled r=radials. ”
    On this picture the radials are not the same color as the digits (which do not actually appear on this picture) — not surprising because no precise homologs to the digits are known in any fish.

    “Among other problems, Tiktaalik, like other lobe-finned fish, lacked a sturdy connection between its pelvic and pectoral girdles—which attach to the bones in its lobed fins—and the bony vertebral column. ”

    Ah, yes, the old David Menton problem. The fins (only the pectoral ones described originally) don’t connect to the vertebral column. Neither do your arms, Dr. Mitchell. If they did you wouldn’t be able to shrug your shoulders. The pectoral limb attaches to the vertebral column only in some derived pterosaurs. Good thing that your specialty is the other end of the body.

    “Ray-finned fish do not have bones in their fins, —-”

    Oh yes they do. They’ve reduced the number of bones, but they still have bones at the base of the fin.

    “Shubin presents the discredited embryonic “recapitulation theory”—the notion that embryos replay their evolutionary history—as if it were true. ”

    No he doesn’t. Shubin is very careful to point out that, at a certain embryonic stage, we resemble an embryonic stage also seen in fish. This is not Haeckelian recapitulation, which would require that we resembled adult fish.

    “SHH influences wing development in chickens, fin development in fish, and finger development in people. SHH is one of many universal switching mechanisms that our Creator uses in many of His creations. Nothing about it demonstrates “a shared genetic history,” but it is exactly what we would expect from the fact that we have a “shared Creator.””

    Why would a creator be limited to using the same genetic mechanism for building two very different types of limb?

    “Based on superficial appearance and evolutionary thinking, they were once called things like gill slits, gill pouches, gill arches, or branchial arches. Only in fish do these arches differentiate into components of gills.”

    Yes. Where did Shubin indicate otherwise. The issue is the homolog of not only the derivation of the bony and soft tissue structures in those pouches, but also in the precise pattern of cranial nerve innervation. Why did the designer want two of our ear bones to start off their development in our jaw, just like we see in fish?

    “Many embryology textbooks have abandoned this deceptive terminology in favor of pharyngeal arches, for mammalian embryos never at any time develop any sort of gill. ”

    I believe that Shubin did actually use this term, but I’d have to go back and check. Yes, this is the right term. It doesn’t make the homologies disappear, however.

    “Molly’s pre-auricular pit is a tiny remnant that was left over when parts of the first and second pharyngeal arches fused to form her ear, but neither Molly nor her ancestors ever had a gill.”

    This isn’t even correct embryology. If those parts fused, then we wouldn’t be able to hear through our middle ear bones.

    “The reason men are more likely to develop such a hernia involves embryology, not evolution. ”

    Too bad the designer couldn’t do the development better then.

    “First of all, is this really a design flaw? The external location of the human male gonads is ideally suited for the heat-sensitive sperm they produce.”

    Right. So why start the testes up near the heart and make them descend through the body wall?

    “There is an additional problem with Shubin’s convenient evolutionary explanation. Not all mammals follow the path he laid out for them. For instance, the rhinoceros seems to be quite fertile despite the internal location of its gonads. ”

    Er — I think the good gynacologist is confusing rhinos and elephants. An easy thing to do, Linneaus classified them both as pachyderms, both being large and grey.

    “God designed a perfect human body along with a perfect world in the beginning. How do we know? He told us so in Genesis 1:31. And God warned Adam that rebellion would have consequences ”

    Got it. Adam was perfect and had internal testicles. The problem with hernias only came after the fall. Good thing that happened, or else there would be no subsequent humans.

  11. Good job, Christine Janis. I never looked at the illustrations. Hey, it obviously can’t be too difficult to be a gynecologist. Maybe I should give it a try.

  12. Nice to see someone carrying on the timeless institution of the Gish Gallop, albeit in the written form. Like the Masters, it’s a tradition unlike any other.

  13. Great post, Christine! Thank you.

    AiG has several pet “scientists” on staff, but the homeschooling retired gynecologist is one of my favorites. The crazy astronomer they have is almost as entertaining. Oh well . . . .

    I’m ever so glad that my physician has a much better grasp of anatomy than the AiG’s pet physician. Now, Doctor Mitchell, M. D., time to go tell the kiddies about how to saddle up a dinosaur like Adam did.

  14. Stephen Kennedy

    They used to have an even crazier astronomer at AIG. Danny Faulkner at least sometimes seems to be capable of moments of lucidity but Jason Lisle is so far gone that he is down right creepy.

  15. Got it. Adam was perfect and had internal testicles. The problem with hernias only came after the fall. Good thing that happened, or else there would be no subsequent humans.

    Sublime.

  16. If I were a woman, I’d feel more comfortable going to a witch doctor than to this gynecologist.

  17. Yeah, Jason’s light speed anisotropy stuff was madness on steroids, for sure. My brain underwent deuteric alteration when reading it.

  18. Applause, Christine Janis! Applause.

    As already noted by Mark Germano, looks like Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, MD, is embracing her inner Gish.

  19. Our Curmudgeon entertains a career change:

    Hey, it obviously can’t be too difficult to be a gynecologist. Maybe I should give it a try.

    It took four hours and a bottle of brandy for Olivia to calm down after reading that. Only in the last half-hour has she, still trembling and sobbing uncontrollably, managed to explain to me how it is that, even years after the event, she remains deeply traumatised by your notion foreplay…

  20. To say nothing of your bizarre attempt to [edited out]

  21. Megalonyx is aghast because: “Our Curmudgeon entertains a career change”

    Well, after reading Mitchell’s column, how difficult can gynecology be? All patients get the same advice: abstinence and faith healing. When things go wrong, blame it on sin.

  22. @Con-Tester Yes, applause for Christine Janis (BTW, I recall that Shubin made an effort to distance what he was saying from the mistakes).

    But applause, also, for you, CT, for:

    embracing her inner Gish.

    This should find use often.

  23. @Stephen K: the opinion of a religious gynecologist about Evolution Theory is about as relevant as the opinion of an atheist palenthologist about pregnancy.

    “the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation and other difficult to understand topics in science”
    Your point is clear and correct, but actually CMBR is not that different to understand; neither are the outlines of Evolution Theory. I am pretty sure Mitchell could do it if she wanted. So I disagree with your judgment on her; she only is repeating old tired stuff because she doesn’t have anything better. SC is right – the only new element is “assuming human embryo’s look like fish embryo’s is propagating abortion; abortion is wrong hence Evolution Theory is wrong.” Even this one doesn’t really require an answer.

  24. Con-Tester says: “As already noted by Mark Germano, looks like Dr Elizabeth Mitchell, MD, is embracing her inner Gish.”

    As one who is considering a career in creationist gynecology, I can assure you that’s a standard procedure.

  25. @abeatwood, so correct. Adam and Eve’s perfect bodies must also have lacked shoulder and knee joints. Not to mention lower backs.

    Having this woman as my gynecologist would be as scary as letting Egnor cut into my brain. In both cases, when they walked into the examining room, I’d jump off the table and run naked and screaming out of the room.

  26. Darwin’s speculative explanation [common ancestry]…”

    Does anyone else recognize how that makes the rest of her rant completely unnecessary?

    The only way to answer that rant is with “Go whine about it to the Discoveroids.” Sure, they’ll ignore her on that, and maybe even praise her for agreeing that “RM + NS” can’t do this or that, but they nevertheless either think she’s dead wrong on the common ancestry denial, play dumb about it, or at most only vaguely agree. If that isn’t bad enough, Discoveroids regularly admit that Tiktaalik lived 300+ million years ago, on a planet that was already 4+ billion years old. If AiG really thinks (& I’m far from certain that they do) that the whole earth and universe is only 1000s of years old, they and the DI have a lot to debate about. And they could do it without getting distracted by the irrelevant “naturalism” issue, or the is/ought nonsense that they both agree is appropriate.

    Before I get the usual objection, yes ‘m very aware that AiG has an apparent policy of “balancing” (aka “drowning out”) their occasional whine to the DI with 100s more aimed at “Darwinists,” and that the DI’s policy is to never ever defend themselves against the occasional attack by other “kinds” of evolution-denier. But that’s my whole point – to show the average person on the street, especially the fence-sitters (at least 1/4 of adult Americans) the games these activists play, and how they demonstrate at best a serious lack of confidence in their own claims.

  27. Con-Tester: “…embracing her inner Gish.”

    You do have a gift, Con-Tester! Comments like this make this blog so much fun to read.

  28. Christine Janis: great post. It’s so bloody obvious to anyone who has studied biology that creatures, from bacteria to humans and maple trees, are designed just barely well enough that a sufficient number survive to have offspring. Just what you’d expect from natural selection, and not so much what an intelligent sky fairy would do.

  29. It’s no surprise that AIG is thumping the Bible. That’s what they do! It’s in their name.

    Shambo didn’t even try to spar with Bill Nye, rather pointed to his book and said over and over, “I’ve got this book.”

    So, AIG is simply an amusing sideshow of creepy things.

    What I find more fun to watch is the transformation of the Disco Tute into the Disco AIG. Right before our very eyes, the resident Village IDiot, Klinderella, extolls Stephen Meyer lecturing on the Universe being created and guided by a transcendent being and why the Being needs to be Transcendent. The Disco Tute has dropped all pretense of being a “science” organization. They might as well declare themselves a ministry.

  30. My take is that for the quick-moving TV show, Shubin presented a lot of information without providing detailed proof of every claim he made. However, in his book, he provides far more technical detail, and if the AIG doctor had bothered to read his book, she’d be embarrassed by the accusations she’s making.

  31. Retired Prof

    abeastwood aptly points out, “having the air and food pipes cross in the throat is just plain stupid.”

    I can’t resist mentioning another design flaw mentioned by Garrison Keillor on one of his all-joke editions of “A Prairie Home Companion.” If you’ve heard it before, don’t stop me.

    One fellow claimed God must be a mechanical engineer on the evidence of how bones in the skeleton mesh together and how the muscles make it operate. Another said that no, he has to be an electrical engineer–look at how precisely electrical impulses in the nerves direct the muscles. The third said he must be a civil engineer. Who else would run a sewer line through a recreational area?

  32. This may sound punctilious, but Con-tester again shows that when it comes to world play, he truly punches above his weight. He can puncture any creationist claim with his pen, or more accurately, keyboard. I can only wish to be a bit more punctual with my next comment.

  33. Let’s remind creationists that it was creationism that has demonstrably caused physical harm. The first heart transplant recipient died because the doctor was a creationist, and didn’t accept the fact that a baboon was not the closest living ancestor to humans.

  34. The first heart transplant recipient died because the doctor was a creationist, and didn’t accept the fact that a baboon was not the closest living ancestor to humans.

    I hadn’t known this. Do you have a convenient source I could go look up for more, pretty please?

  35. That doctor’s at Loma Linda University – natch.
    See Pence (2008) – Classic Cases in Medical Ethics.
    See also the 2nd paragraph of: http://tinyurl.com/ohx34xc

  36. Thanks, J St. J! I had heard about the case, but had forgotten the name and thus couldn’t refind it when I needed it.

  37. @James St. John

    Many thanks for the info!

  38. Dr. Haeckel N. Jaeckel

    “First of all, is this really a design flaw? The external location of the human male gonads is ideally suited for the heat-sensitive sperm they produce.”

    Right. So why start the testes up near the heart and make them descend through the body wall?

    Chris Janus that’s easily explained! You see that all happened after JHVH realized that he had not made ADAM a “help mate”. So he had the gonads up in the thorax so that Adam would produce EVE up there – that’s why Eve came out of Adam’s side. Once Eve was created the testes had to descend down to the area where EVE had her sexy parts.

    Imagine the scandal if Adam had his sex organs up near the chest and Eve…well, you get the picture…darn close to the C************ word. To much temptation. Plus there is that issue of keeping the sperm cool.

    So in fact, rather than the Evolutionary history being duplicated in embryology…you actually have Bible History being duplicated. 😉

  39. Dr. Haeckel N. Jaeckel

    James St. J….here’s the actual stuff from wiki (apologies for any inaccuracies) “A human heart had been available on the day of the surgery; also Fae’s mother had no medical insurance and the xenograft was offered for free. When asked why he had picked a baboon over a primate more closely related to humans in evolution, he replied “Er, I find that difficult to answer. You see, I don’t believe in evolution.””

    BTW This wasn’t the FIRST Heart transplant case using non-human organs. Dr. Christiaan Barnard used baboon hearts for adult transplants back in the late 1950’s. There too, the transplants were rejected. But Barnaard argued that this might supply time for finding suitable human donors.

  40. Dr. Haeckel N. Jaeckel

    OOps… Barnard’s xenograft surgeries were in 1977…he used both baboon and chimpanzee ventricles. Neither took.