You may have seen the news a couple of weeks ago. PhysOrg had this headline: Researchers wonder if ancient supernovae prompted human ancestors to walk upright. Here’s one excerpt:
Did ancient supernovae induce proto-humans to walk on two legs, eventually resulting in homo sapiens with hands free to build cathedrals, design rockets and snap iPhone selfies? A paper published today in the Journal of Geology makes the case: Supernovae bombarded Earth with cosmic energy starting as many as 8 million years ago, with a peak some 2.6 million years ago, initiating an avalanche of electrons in the lower atmosphere and setting off a chain of events that feasibly ended with bipedal hominins such as homo habilis, dubbed “handy man.”
This is the paper they’re talking about: From Cosmic Explosions to Terrestrial Fires?, but you can’t read it without a subscription. The abstract says:
Multiple lines of evidence point to one or more moderately nearby supernovae, with the strongest signal at ∼2.6 Ma [2.6 million years ago]. We build on previous work to argue for the likelihood of cosmic ray ionization of the atmosphere and electron cascades leading to more frequent lightning and therefore an increase in nitrate deposition and wildfires. The potential exists for a large increase in the prehuman nitrate flux onto the surface, which has previously been argued to lead to CO2 drawdown and cooling of the climate. Evidence for increased wildfires exists in an increase in soot and carbon deposits over the relevant period. The wildfires would have contributed to the transition from forest to savanna in northeast Africa, long argued to have been a factor in the evolution of hominin bipedalism.
In other words, supernovae may have caused conditions that resulted in the African savanna, the environment in which human ancestors evolved. Okay, fine. Not much a creationist can do with that, right? Wrong! This just popped up at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog: Upright Walking and African Witch Doctors.
The Discoveroids’ author is Olufemi Oluniyi, PhD, whom they describe as “executive director of the Centre for Values and Social Change in Lagos, Nigeria.” They also refer to “his expertise on the history of Social Darwinism in shaping European colonialism.” Here are some excerpts from his post, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:
From the 18th century to today, the image of the African witch doctor has lingered in the Western imagination. Travelers to my continent mocked this weird figure. For phenomena he did not understand, he offered ridiculous explanations and uninformed guesses, addressed to his followers who seemed powerless to tear themselves away from his enchantment. Does this sound at all familiar?
Yes, very familiar. In the Western world, that kind of character would be a creationist. It sounds familiar to Dr. Oluniyi too, but for different reasons. He says:
The Western scientist, including the evolutionary scientist, is thought to be light years ahead [Does he mean time or distance?] of such superstition. But sometimes I wonder. Consider an article for The Guardian, “Exploding Stars Led to Humans Walking on Two Legs, Radical Study Suggests.”
Dr. Oluniyi criticizes the research — based on the newspaper story — and gives us three principle objections:
First, what appears as an explanation does not actually add any new information. [Hee hee!] Rather, it is a sleight of hand, an assertion posing as an explanation.
Second, while we hear about wildfires devouring African forests and leaving savannas in their wake, there is no mention of the more immediate impact of the fires on the protohumans living in the vicinity. Such destruction seems more consistent with wiping species out of existence, not transforming and gifting them with complex new functionality. [Yeah, nothing can survive a forest fire.]
Third, why was the anatomy needed for walking upright the only part of the body to be affected — and affected in one particular way, to cause human beings to walk as we do, whereas there are countless other imaginable outcomes? What of the nose, the intestines, the ankles, the thighs, the vocal cords, and the fingers? Did the “cosmic intervention” sculpt any of these? If not, why not? It appears arbitrary. Or perhaps purposeful! [Gasp!]
But banish that thought. This latest research could just as easily be taken as supporting intelligent design, yet the pseudo-scientists would swear and recoil from such a conclusion.
Dr. Oluniyi has ripped this new research to shreds! He concludes by telling us:
Yes, it does all sound familiar. In seeking to explain what makes humans exceptional, current evolutionists convert guesswork into a methodology, as humans did for long ages in the pre-scientific past. The African witch doctors of old would sympathize.
So there you are. Don’t kid yourself by thinking that the ignorant savages chanting Oogity Boogity! are creationists. They’re the smart guys. The real savage is you, dear reader. and Darwin is your witch doctor.
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