Creationist Wisdom #544: Guadeloupe Woman

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Bournemouth Daily Echo of Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. It’s titled Evolution is just a theory. The newspaper has a comments feature.

Because today’s writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. We’ll use only his first name, which is Mike. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

The media is full of evolutionary talk these days. It is taught in schools as fact, when the truth is it is still only a theory, it is not fact.

Aaaargh!! Specialized fields have their own specialized vocabularies. For example, when a lawyer or an auditor provides an “opinion” to a client, it’s not a casual expression of personal feelings. In science, a “theory” isn’t a hunch or a wild guess. Scientifically recognized facts don’t start out as theories, and then get promoted to facts. They’re two different things. Scientific theories are well-supported explanations of facts. Mike should take a look at Evolution as Fact and Theory by Stephen Jay Gould. Then he should consult the Definitions of Evolutionary Terms provided by the National Academy of Sciences. The National Center for Science Education also defines those terms here: Definitions of Fact, Theory, and Law in Scientific Work. This comes up so often we’re going to add it to our Common Creationist Claims Confuted.

Okay, back to Mike’s letter:

Professor Fred Hoyle, the former astronomer royal, said “the odds of life having spontaneously formed on earth are the same as for a whirlwind blowing through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747 ready for take off”.

Aaaargh!! See junkyard tornado. Let’s read on:

The fact is there are big holes in the evolutionary theory and intelligent design is a much more likely solution.

Aaaargh!! Even if holes exist, you can’t fill them by invoking Oogity Boogity. See God of the gaps. Mike continues, and now we’re getting to the good stuff:

In 1812 a well documented woman’s skeleton was discovered buried in a massive sandstone block over a mile in length on the island of Guadeloupe. Known as Guadeloupe Woman she was 5ft 2 inches tall with head and feet missing. The rock was dated at 28 million years old, 25 million years before we were supposed to be here. You will find little reference to this in evolutionary texts.

Aaaargh!! Why haven’t we heard of this before? We dashed over to the website of the Institute for Creation Research and did a search. Nothing. Okay, what about Answers in Genesis? Aha! We found this: Where Are All the Human Fossils? They mention only “controversial Guadeloupe skeletons” about which they say:

Without wishing to take sides in the debate, and in any case the hard data are still inconclusive either way, the fact remains that even if perchance these skeletons were so-called Miocene, that in and of itself would still not prove that the skeletons were in Flood sediments and therefore represented the remains of pre-Flood people.

AIG has a footnote to that which says:

The existence and potential significance of these skeletons were first brought to our attention by Bill Cooper, ‘Human fossils from Noah’s Flood’, Ex Nihilo … . Since then debate has raged in the pages of Ex Nihilo … . The skeletons do exist, one being housed in the collections of the British Museum (Natural History) in London, and the report of the excavators indicate that more are in the limestone strata east of the village of Moule on the island of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean.

Googling around, except for a few references to other creationist websites, we found this at the TalkOrigins website in their article Creationist Arguments: Anomalous Fossils. We quote:

Guadeloupe Man: W. Cooper claimed in 1983 that a modern skeleton found on Guadeloupe in 1812 had been dated at 25 million years old, in the Miocene period. The excellent condition of the skeleton, and the fact that it had originally been found with other skeletons (all pointing in the same direction) along with a dog and some implements, indicate that it was a recent burial. In addition, it has never been claimed to be from Miocene deposits by anyone except Cooper.

We’re so confused!. Well, AIG doesn’t seem to support the Guadeloupe Woman (or Man), so it’s too crazy even for them. Here’s more from Mike:

She was quietly moved to the basement of the British Museum after the publication of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and I believe she is still there.

Whoa! The fossil was found in 1812, and was then moved to the museum’s basement after Darwin’s work was published? What were they hiding? This looks like a conspiracy involving time travel. And now we come to the end of the letter:

Perhaps she should be returned to a place where the public can view her again? It would certainly start a debate.

This is a good project for Mike to pursue. We wish him luck. And we thank him for a great letter.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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15 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #544: Guadeloupe Woman

  1. It was just yesterday that I posted the comment “And if I hear one more time somebody talking about Boeing 747s and junk yards, I’m going to hurl!.”

    As empiricists are prone to do, the S.C. just had to put it to the test and quote Mr. Hoyle. (Thanks a lot, S.C.! The cleaning lady only visits on Fridays.)

  2. Charles Deetz ;)

    Typical creationist claim … typical creationist claim … whoa Curmie has to do some research to figure out what the heck your talking about. These letters still hold some surprises.

  3. If someone really did find a human fossil dating from the Miocene, along with remains of a modern dog, I’d be more willing to see it as evidence of time travel than of divine creation. At least time travel, while controversial, is held as potentially possible by a number of highly respected, top-flight physicists. Can anyone name a top-ranked biologist, geologist, physicist or specialist in any other relevant discipline who is a creationist?

    I’d like to know more about the Guadeloupe skeletons’ condition. Were they actually fossilized? If not, no way were they from the Miocene; it wold be highly unlikely that they’d have survived even the 4,200 (give or take) years since Noah’s flood allegedly occurred. The nice folks at AiG surely know that. HOAX ALERT

  4. I’ve been trying to make this point for many years, and nobody seems to think much of it. But I’m going to try one more time.

    When someone refers to “the theory of such-and-such”, that does not mean that they are referring to such-and-such, the theory.

    Just search for common examples:

    the theory of flight. Flight is not a theory.
    the theory of antennas. Antennas are not theories.
    the theory of the Earth. The Earth is not a theory.
    The theory of everything. The theory of music. The theory of the novel.

  5. Derek Freyberg

    The replies are fun:
    muscliffman says: “A fascinating tale but I understand the skeleton of ‘Guadeloupe Woman’ was actually not removed from the last period of display at the British Museum until the late 1960’s – some considerable time after Darwin’s theory was published” and sweatybetty2 says: “By the way as I thought creationists thought the world was only 6000 years old how do they account for a 28million year old rock? Perhaps evolutionary theory is making progress amongst the creationists (I hesitate to call them dinosaurs.)”
    I don’t think we need to worry too much about anti-evolutionism in Bournemouth.

  6. Creationists have also lied about “Malachite Man” – hominid skeletons claimed to be in Mesozoic-aged bedrock.

  7. Just to add to Mike’s errors, Fred Hoyle was never Astronomer Royal.

  8. docbill1351

    Digging around unearths a lot more information about Guadalupe Woman. The skeletons were partially embedded in oolitic limestone which can form quite quickly under the right conditions, like an island in the Caribbean where a lot of oolitic limestone deposits are found. The individuals, dog and implements indicate a post-Columbian burial site. The rocks are not from the Miocene and the bones were not fossilized and the bones were not discovered “encased” in rock. They were unearthed under soil and partially embedded in oolitic limestone, which at the time of burial was probably a swampy mess that hardened over a period of 3-400 years, not unlike concrete.

    And speaking of Guadalupe, I visited the island for a week last year and had a great time. The food was tasty, our accommodation overlooked the sea. There were 6 or so cats living on our hotel site and every evening we had rum punch on the veranda followed by a nice dinner prepared by our hosts.

    There are daily flights from Paris to Guadalupe, as it is a French department (or whatever; sorry, didn’t look up the actual designation because I’m freaking lazy!) Or you can go through Miami as we did.

  9. Sandy Eggo

    The “fossil” is probably modern. I located this article in the New Scientist: The case of Miocene Man.

  10. More on the Guadeloupe Woman. According to the British Museum’s own expert, “Palaeontological and mineralogical work has been carried out on the block [of oolitic limestone in which a human skeleton was partially embedded] we have which indicates nothing unusual about this find and there is now a plan to carry out absolute dating on the bones of this skeleton.” (Emphasis added.)

  11. gnome de net

    docbill1351 wrote:

    There were 6 or so cats living on our hotel site [in Guadalupe] and every evening we had rum punch on the veranda followed by a nice dinner prepared by our hosts.

    For at least “6 or so” evenings?

  12. There used to be a Creatio Museum in Bournemouth: I seem to remember hearing it had closed

  13. ashdeville
    Paul – it was in Pompey and not Bournemouth. Looks like it is still operating

  14. In response to SC’s post, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews has written a most informative piece at Bad Archaeology on Guadeloupe Woman.

  15. Docbill1351 wrote: “There were 6 or so cats living on our hotel site and every evening we had rum punch on the veranda followed by a nice dinner prepared by our hosts.”

    You sure know how to set-up the reader for a big letdown! When I read “There were 6 or so cats living on our hotel site and every evening we had rum punch on the veranda…, I was all ready for some hilarious prank that involved sharing that “rum punch” when the 6 cats roamed onto the veranda. I thought sure you would say something like, “There’s nothing more entertaining than watching seafood-loving cats licking all that tasty rum-soaked juice from our entree dishes and then trying to catch the geckos that wander onto the warm patio concrete at night. It makes them clumsier than any dose of catnip and the geckos are surprised that they can get away so easily!”