Creationist Wisdom #939: Micro Macro Mania

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Grand Island Independent of Grand Island, Nebraska. It’s titled Debate both sides of macroevolution, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a high school science teacher. It’s Dave Olson, who teaches at Northwest High School. We wrote about him a few years ago — see Creationism in a Nebraska School Board. He was arguing that he “wants students to learn the evidence both for and against neo-Darwinian evolution.” He gave the school board a PowerPoint presentation with several slides quoting Discoveroid Jonathan Wells.

Then he appeared here one year ago in #836: The Science Teacher. Now he’s at it again. We’ll give you a few excerpts from Dave’s latest, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

At this time of year, evolutionary theory is presented in our schools and is valid in some areas regarding change in living organisms. However, evolution today has come to have a variety of definitions. This writing concerns that which defines how new species arise.

We can see where Dave is going. He’s about to dance the “micro-macro mambo” — see our discussion of that in Common Creationist Claims Confuted. He says:

The “icons of evolution” not only are lacking evidence but also are misleading. The fossil record does not contain detailed information about the appearance of new species. They appear abruptly, no intermediates.

Icons of Evolution is the title of a creationist book by Discoveroid Jonathan Wells — with whom Dave seems to have an obsession. He also thinks that examples of every generation of every species on Earth should be well-preserved in the fossil record so we can easily see how, over millions of generations, one species gradually becomes another. Lacking that kind of impossible detail, Dave is eager to embrace supernaturalism. He tells us:

Darwin based his inference of common ancestry on the belief that the earliest stages of embryo development are the most similar. [What?] He used the drawings of Ernst Haeckel, which were shown to be falsified. Yet today’s books claim the same groups of embryonic cells produce similar cells in the same patterns. This was disproved in 1985 by Gavin de Beer, who disproved homologous structures and embryonic development as a mechanism for speciation. Even the presentation of how life began is riddled with speculation of microspheres and eukaryotic cell formation, which have been shown to be doubtful by Albert de Roos.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The theory of evolution never depended on Haeckel’s drawings. Ernst Haeckel was a student in the 1850s when Darwin published Origin of Species. Darwin did mention some of Haeckel’s work several years later in The Descent of Man, but he never embraced and relied upon Haeckel’s work. Dave continues:

The point is the one-sided approach [i.e., science only] to macroevolution leaves a void for students to enable them to discuss this controversial issue. This controversy is not going away. [Dave won’t abandon Oogity Boogity!] What I find disconcerting is our Nebraska Science Standards promote argumentation with evidence, yet, do not apply this concept to macroevolution.

Dave is upset. There’s not enough argumentation in school about “macroevolution.” Let’s read on:

The goal here is for parents to encourage their students to ask the questions regarding the “proof” for macroevolution and to research these concepts to determine their validity.

In other words, state biology classes should teach evolution in biology class using creationist material from the Discoveroids. The Kitzmiller case never happened. And now we come to the end:

Disliking, avoiding or shunning ideas that don’t agree with the status quo is not good for our country. Rather than protection from diverse arguments and points of view, our students should be exposed to them, to teach them how to think and find the truth.

Dave is a Discoveroid-style creationist, and he dreams of teaching their version of Oogity Boogity. But if he’s so unhappy with his teaching job, why doesn’t he go to work for some bible school?

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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14 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #939: Micro Macro Mania

  1. Christine Janis

    Gavin de Beer was writing in 1985???

  2. Michael Fugate

    What is Dave’s alternative?

  3. “What is Dave’s alternative?”

    Sacred Superstition, which is always 100% TRUE because they say it is, and no evidence is ever required. What could possibly be wrong with that approach?

  4. How can you ask this, MichaelF, about a guy who’s totally clueless about what he wants an alternative for?
    Btw I wonder who that Albert de Roos was? None of the three candidates I found looks the right one: a social-democrat politician who died in 1978, a student killed by a nazi-collaborator in 1944 and a professor radiodiagnostics very much alive.

  5. It’s impossible to argue from evidence, or indeed in rational terms at all, with someone who cannot perform the operation from both sides of the question, someone who never asks “What evidence is there for my view?” and who only ever attacks the evidence to the contrary. Thus this other Dave. Of course his shaky grasp on the evidence for evolution is compounded by straightforward denialism. But that’s a defence. It’s a perfectly valid one – but it is one-sided. What of the attack? Dave doesn’t want to allow one.
    ;
    So he’s remarkably coy about what his opinions actually are. What does he think is the explanation for the diversity of species? He doesn’t actually say. I’m prepared to bet that he thinks it’s “fiat creation by God (or an intelligence that amounts to the same)”. But he doesn’t say that.

    This is the mental equivalent of the pea-and-thimble game. Dave is trying to lock you into only standing on the defence. Play by his rules, and you lose.

  6. Michael Fugate

    Gavin’s ghost? Dead men don’t tell lies.

  7. “This controversy is not going away.”

    Dave means that stupidity and stubbornness in the face of the bleedin’ obvious is not going anywhere any time soon. He’s a man of principle, is Dave.

  8. @DL: “who only ever attacks the evidence to the contrary”
    The point of my question to MichaelF was that he doesn’t even do that ….

  9. This brings up a supposed lack of transitions at the species level. But the Young Earth Creationists insist on the reality of microevolution within kinds, that accounts for evolution of new species and even new genera. The supposed lack of evidence, for creationists, is about “the something like the taxonomic family”.
    This writer is not familiar with creationism.

  10. Michael Fugate

    True FrankB, they always claim that there’s no evidence for evolution.

  11. Michael Fugate

    What’s interesting is Dave was informed about his dubious use of Haeckel’s embryos when he visited here August 2013. He prates on and on about open minds and evidence and ignores it all – as if Wells were a reliable source. This letter seems much more deranged – as if written in panic. Did he have a bad dream about the Darwin conspiracy, wake up, dash off a letter without even verifying the “sources” with his creationist masters? We know he hasn’t verified any science.

  12. Dave is a chemistry teacher and an intelligent design creationist. I taught biology at his school, Northwest High School for many years. He really wants to promote his creationist teaching in all science classes at the school. It’s an embarrassment to the school. It’s like having a math teacher that discards the pythagorean theorum or a geography teacher promoting a flat earth. And he doesn’t listen, he hasn’t learned anything new on the topic of biology since I left there 3 years ago. I say this because he still has the same uncompelling arguments.

  13. Thanks, SJM, but trust me – nobody here is surprised. That’s what he’s a creacrapper for.

  14. Off topic. There is an article in the Guardian online: “Study blames YouTube for rise in number of Flat Earthers”
    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/feb/17/study-blames-youtube-for-rise-in-number-of-flat-earthers