Creationist Wisdom #548: Too Smart To Survive

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Chronicle-Journal of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. It’s titled Restrict teaching to micro-evolution. The newspaper doesn’t have a comments feature.

Unless a letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name. This one is an exception. He’s Abraham Drost, about whom you can read here. He’s the Chairman of a few mining companies, has a Masters degree in Mineral Exploration, and has been a consulting geologist to the Ontario Government. Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Regarding an earlier letter, he says:

The author asserts that evolution is not some kind of faith-based product. He invokes the observations of Charles Darwin in the Galapagos which led to the theory of natural selection. He emphasizes the importance of hard physical evidence in scientific endeavour. As a geologist, a student of paleontology and a Christian, I agree with most of what he says.

He agrees with most of that — but not all. Here’s where he disagrees:

However, may I also suggest that what the schools should restrict themselves to is micro-evolution, that is physical, observable changes within species and fossil family lines over time in response to changing conditions and environmental stimuli, also known as survival of the fittest.

Oh dear. This sounds like an invitation to the micro-macro mambo, which we discussed in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. Let’s read on:

The hard physical evidence argument begins to break down in a discussion of macro-evolution or linkages outside of species and fossil family lines. Here is where a form of faith is also required to support the unifying theory of evolution.

Aaaargh!! What’s he saying — there are no transitional fossils? Okay, here’s a link to Wikipedia’s list of transitional fossils. We would have expected better from a man of his accomplishments. He continues:

Nowhere is this more profoundly evident than in the debate about the origin of humankind.

Lordy, lordy. Is he going to tell us he ain’t no kin to no monkey? We’ll find out:

Humankind is not physically evolved to withstand extremes in climate, nor a winner in the survival of the fittest category. Furthermore, the human brain is far more advanced than is required for mere survival in response to changing environmental circumstances. A brain this complex isn’t necessary for mere survival and yet there it is, out of sync with natural selection from our supposed predecessors.

Did you follow that? Drost seems to be saying: (1) we’re physically weak; (2) we’re mentally strong; (3) therefore, we shouldn’t have survived. Does that make sense, or does it seem likely that despite our physical weakness compared to some predators, we survived because of our brains? Drost doesn’t like our interpretation. Instead, he tells us:

The complexity of the human brain is in itself a contradiction to natural selection and survival of the fittest as a defining theory of human existence.

Uh huh — a smart person has no survival or reproductive advantages. Here’s how he wraps up his letter:

The human brain is capable of building bridges and skyscrapers and composing the sweetest of symphonies, incidentally dedicating it all to the glory of God in the case of J.S. Bach. And let’s not speak of the soul because after all, there is no hard physical evidence and it cannot be observed. Or can it . . . ?

We don’t know what to make of this one. What do you think, dear reader?

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

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20 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #548: Too Smart To Survive

  1. Charles Deetz ;)

    In this case we have geologist who has a great opportunity to apply his trade and put some authority to his arguments, instead he wanders off talking about biology. How pointy-haired boss of him.

  2. Well, no worries about our geologist friend’s brain being too far advanced for survival.

  3. The complexity of the human brain is in itself a contradiction to natural selection and survival of the fittest as a defining theory of human existence.

    He certainly speaks for himself on this one.

  4. According to Drost’s reasoning, there should only be one species of the simplest possible life form in existence since everything else is smarter than it needs to be. Drost, say this word with me: NICHE.

  5. My home town has finally made an appearance! I had a friend who used to work for the aforementioned paper, and said that there were someday going to go through a change where random people would write pieces for the paper rather than paying journalists to do it. I expect if this plan ever comes to fruition, it will make many more appearances here.

  6. This man cannot possibly be a competent geologist. The Canadians need to fire him. The end.

  7. Humankind is not physically evolved to withstand extremes in climate, nor a winner in the survival of the fittest category.

    Durn tootin’. Us true Aryans are adapted only to the comfortable, warm but not too hot, just-enough-water climate of the whole world before the Flood. All those filthy savages who have developed skin colors, hair textures and so on never seen among the ancient Mediterranean people from whom Noah and his family would have sprung–well, they haven’t evolved, they’ve degenerated from worshipping Satan.

    Furthermore, the human brain is far more advanced than is required for mere survival in response to changing environmental circumstances. A brain this complex isn’t necessary for mere survival and yet there it is, out of sync with natural selection from our supposed predecessors.

    Well, maybe it isn’t necessary for creationists. But Mr. Dross, I mean Drost, has overlooked an obvious selective pressure: competition among human beings. Once humans became smart enough to outwit other animals (most of the time), they still had to outwit one another in the contest for resources, including mating partners. And they still do, though some scientists suggest we may be up against practical anatomical limits to brain size in a human-sized body.

  8. What they don’t realize is that evolution is always micro, but the changes pile up over deep time.

  9. I’m saddened and embarrassed to see a fellow geologist so publicly display his willful ignorance. I’m skeptical of his claim at knowing something about paleontology. Mining geologists do need to know about absolute ages of host rocks, orogenic events, and mineralization events to assist them in exploration. Denying evolution and an old Earth makes one a poor geologist. Actually, it makes one a non-geologist.

  10. He may actually turn out to be correct that humans are too smart for our own good, but if that’s the case, then natural selection will take care of the problem.

    If we reproduce so successfully that we crowd our habitat and use up our resources to such an unsustainable extent that we can no longer resist the temptation to use the massively destructive weapons our brains let us produce, our extinction could follow. Or we could just befoul the place so thoroughly that we would die off not with a bang but a whimper. Either case would demonstrate natural selection in action.

    But who would be left to appreciate the demonstration?

  11. WTF? He says the human brain is oh so complex yet we can’t cure the common cold. Most people can’t keep their [bleep]ing shoes tied. It’s over complex for the level of intelligence that we show as a group over all. If this is ID then I want a new designer. The level of stupid that I have to deal with day after day does not tell me that we are intelligent or complex.

    I just want a hit on this guy’s pipe!

  12. “What do you think, dear reader?”

    I think his blind faith is causing him to warp the science to fit his religion.

    Drost’s choice of words indicates he’s perhaps a bit conflicted in his beliefs:
    “…the human brain is far more advanced than is required for mere survival …”

    Advanced? “Advanced” implies it has evolved from a lesser intellect, as opposed to being created “as is”.

  13. Dave Luckett

    No, we are not adapted by nature to cold climates. We adapted ourselves, by using fire, building shelters and inventing tanning and fabrics. These technologies were made possible by our enlarged brains. Because intellectual ability enlarged our range and increased our adaptability, it was an advantage, and by that simple fact, selected for. The human brain is large because intelligence is an advantage to humans. Its costs, which are considerable, are more than compensated by its advantages. So far.

    Why is it so difficult for these loons to get so simple a concept into their own heads?

    It’s not always because they’re intellectually incapable, ie, simply stupid. Sometimes, but I think not often. This man is a geologist, we read. He can’t be a complete dope. If he is incapable of perceiving the blatant illogic of what he’s saying, I don’t think it’s because he’s too dumb. It’s that he is prevented by some factor other than intellectual incapacity. Morton’s demon, maybe. But I don’t know.

    See, this isn’t just shutting the gate to contrary facts. This is making up nonsense and using it instead of facts. The human brain is “far more advanced than is required for mere survival in response to changing environmental circumstances”, he says. Where on earth does he get that idea from? Why would anyone think that? Can he really believe that the enormous elaboration of technology and culture unique to humans is some kind of excess baggage, and not actually an advantage to them?

    Has he come up with that idea himself? If so, more than Morton’s demon is operating here. Even if he is merely parroting what he’s heard somewhere, the demon has done more than exclude contrary facts from his attention and admit only favourable assertions. It has also disabled his ability to examine the latter, once admitted.

    That’s scary.

  14. What’s he saying? It seems to be: (1) we’re physically weak; (2) we’re mentally strong; (3) therefore, we shouldn’t have survived.

    I think what he’s trying to say is that our brains are far too powerful to have evolved through sheer environmental pressure — we could have survived and prospered with far less intelligence. It’s a nonsense argument, of course. Whenever I trip over it I’m reminded of a book I read as long ago as the 1960s, The Original Australians by the Australian anthropologist A.A. Abbie. At the time, stupid Oz racists were claiming the Aborigines must be unintelligent. Abbie pointed out that anyone who could survive in the habitats many Aborigines survived in had to be pretty damn’ intelligent — certainly a lot brighter than the average Melbourne lounge lizard needed to be.

    Same with our ancestors. Someone else has mentioned the human-vs-human evolutionary pressure, but simply surviving against tigers and hippos and stuff was probably enough. Besides, whoever said mutations produce only what’s needed? Sometimes you get extra bits and bobs that don’t seem to have much use at the time, but later, thanks to natural selection’s opportunism, prove handy.

    None of which will of course influence Drost’s thinking at all. He has clearly nailed his head to the wall and is expecting us all to admire him for his dedication.

  15. @Dave Luckett: Again, you’ve nailed it. Must be something beneficial in the water in Australia.

  16. @Dave Luckett

    Superb comment.

  17. Dave Luckett

    Thank you. But the water here has nothing to do with it. Ken Ham drank it for thirty years, and look at what it did to him.

  18. Eric Lipps correctly observes

    Once humans became smart enough to outwit other animals (most of the time), they still had to outwit one another in the contest for resources, including mating partners.

    Indeed. But the alacrity with which Olivia fled from our Curmudgeon and into my protective embrace was no contest at all…

  19. Megalonyx speaks of his “protective embrace.”

    Olivia still has nightmares in which she is a captive of King Kong.

  20. O Great Invisible Hand of Correction! Not for myself do I now entreat Thy mercy, but for Thy servant our Curmudgeon, who hath keyed in error.

    His text, of course, should read

    “a captive of King Curm Kong”