When a belief system is irrational and unsupported by verifiable facts, its advocates inevitably get themselves tangled up in contradictory statements. We have a good example today. On the one hand, creationists are always claiming that we’re uniquely created to be superior to all other life, we ain’t no kin to no monkeys, we alone have a soul, mere animals have no rights, etc.
On the other hand, we get stuff like this mess from the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia: Smarter Than You Think.
It was written by Dr. Joe Francis, a name we haven’t encountered before. At the end of his article we’re told that he is: “dean of the school of science, math, technology, and health at The Master’s University …” According to Wikipedia that’s a bible college. Okay, here are some excerpts from Joe’s article, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Truman, an octopus at the New England Aquarium, could see several aquarium workers each day; but he consistently soaked only one college student volunteer with cold salty water. After taking a leave for a few months, the volunteer returned and was promptly soaked again. Truman did not soak anyone else in the interim.
Zookeepers and others who work with animals experience their smarts every day, but the rest of us miss out on these stories. We’re conditioned to assume “lower” animals aren’t smart. So stories like that about the octopus, an invertebrate, surprise us. For much of the last century, invertebrates were considered low on the scale of biological evolution and assumed to be much less intelligent than vertebrates like mammals.
This thinking stifled decades of discovery in a branch of biology called ethology, the study of animal behavior. The idea that animals generally lack intelligence can be traced back to the pagan, humanistic philosophy of Aristotle, who put all living things on a scale “treating animals as simple minded.” Even Christians like Augustine were influenced by Aristotle’s man-centered (as opposed to Creator-centered) views.
Yes, evolutionary thinking always stifles scientific progress; but creationists are moving forward. Joe says:
Creationists have come up with a different view, based on the Bible, that leads us to expect astonishing examples of intelligence throughout the animal kingdom, not merely in “higher” forms, as proponents of evolution would expect. In his book Devotional Biology, Dr. Kurt Wise calls this “the spectrum of perfection.” If God is perfect and wants to reveal his attributes in an imperfect world, how can he do that? Dr. Wise suggests that he put in place a spectrum of intelligence which, when considered together, points to his perfect intelligence. Thus, categories of intelligence are seen in God’s living creation down to the invertebrate level.
The “spectrum of perfection”? We didn’t know about that. It appears to be an original contribution of creation science. Here’s Wikipedia’s write up on the genius who figured it out: Kurt Wise.
Joe’s long essay is loaded with examples of intelligent behavior displayed by animals. We’ll skip all of that. Then he tells us:
Although God placed marvelous examples of intelligence in his creation, even among his small and lowly creatures, none can compare to the full range of abilities given to his human creation, the only creature given the wisdom to have loving dominion over all God’s earthly creation.
So what does that “theory” do for us? Nothing, really. But to the extent that creationists have been feeling inferior because they’ve made no contributions to biology, now they can point to the “spectrum of perfection” It sounds lovely — but it doesn’t explain anything, doesn’t predict anything, and it doesn’t mean anything. It’s exactly what you’d expect from creation science.
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