Evolutionary Science Reporting Battles Creationists 10/24/2007 If creationism is so discredited as to not warrant any further discussion, some science writers are sure going out of their way to refute it. Some recent examples:
Eye of the Hydra: Little sea creatures known as hydrae have light-sensitive molecules called opsins, reported Science Daily. Scientists think the opsin proteins, which exist all over the tiny animals but are concentrated near the gut, help the hydra find its prey. Todd Oakley, a notable anti-creationist involved in the study, used this as a barb against Darwin doubters:
Oakley said that anti-evolutionists often argue that mutations, which are essential for evolution, can only eliminate traits and cannot produce new features. He goes on to say, “Our paper shows that such claims are simply wrong. We show very clearly that specific mutational changes in a particular duplicated gene (opsin) allowed the new genes to interact with different proteins in new ways. Today, these different interactions underlie the genetic machinery of vision, which is different in various animal groups.”
Yet the story begs the question that mutational evolution produced the opsins or led to their function. A team member illustrated the circular thinking when he inferred, “because we don’t find them in earlier evolving animals like sponges, we can put a date on the evolution of light sensitivity in animals.” Another problem with the idea that evolution produced it is that it pushes the origin of light sensitivity further back in the evolutionary time frame to 600 million years ago. See also Live Science.
Skull of the St. Bernard: In a surprising display of misunderstanding of the issues, a University of Manchester press release claimed that artificial selection in St. Bernard dogs refutes creationism. The skull shape in St. Bernards has changed a little in 120 years since the breed standard was defined. These changes “evolved purely through the selective considerations of breeders.” But this is, of course, artificial selection – not natural selection. The press release continues,
“Creationism is the belief that all living organisms were created according to Genesis in six days by ‘intelligent design’ and rejects the scientific theories of natural selection and evolution. “But this research once again demonstrates how selection – whether natural or, in this case, artificially influenced by man – is the fundamental driving force behind the evolution of life on the planet.”
A quick check of creationist literature would have shown that not even the most literal Biblical creationist believes God created St. Bernards directly. Creationist books and lectures often include diagrams of all the various dog breeds, from St. Bernards to poodles to Dobermans, as descended from an original dog kind that was probably like a wolf. Many would include all the wolves, coyotes, dingoes and foxes in the original dog kind. In addition, most creationists would admit an extensive amount of natural and artificial selection in the sorting out of traits in dog populations since the creation. Even in this press release, the dogs started and ended as St. Bernards – one variety within one species – so there was no “origin of species” or variation on the scale Darwin envisaged. EurekAlert, a news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, reproduced this press release without alteration; so did Science Daily.
Brain of the Behe: Science (Oct. 20) gave Michael Behe 200 words to clarify a point, but then let Sean Carroll have 500 words to trash it. A complete account is given at Access Research Network by David Tyler. The lopsided exchange omitted the fact that Behe has written extensive responses to Carroll on his Amazon blog, as noted by Anika Smith at Evolution News, and to many of his other critics, as noted by Robert Crowther on Evolution News. Science, by picking and choosing a small portion of Behe’s writing, gave the distinct impression that he was conceding a major point of Darwinism, when in fact Behe proceeded beyond the quoted part to explain why it was irrelevant to evolutionary theory. Carroll, nonetheless, accused Behe of a “complete disregard of a massive literature surrounding protein interactions crucial to Behe’s entirely unfounded conclusion.” Carroll did not cite any examples of such literature.
It is appalling to see the low level of intellectual rigor in the typical science press release these days when they deal with matters of creation vs evolution, and the deliberate anti-creationist bias in the journals. In the typical popular science report, creationism, when mentioned at all, is made into a caricature, a straw man to ridicule and shoot down. Don’t they realize that refuting an accurate presentation of an opponent’s view is more likely to succeed in the long run? Maybe they know they cannot. They use the only weak munitions they have: the pop-guns and spitballs of propaganda. We hope our readers appreciate the detail and fairness in these pages. Links to all the original sources are provided so you can check whether what is represented here is in fact what the evolutionists are claiming. Much of our reporting comes straight from the original science journals. While we try to present the news in ways that are thought-provoking and occasionally entertaining, we do not pander to ignorance or bias. We do not regurgitate the party-line talking points. We invite the reader to investigate the evidence and evaluate the logic on both sides. After decades of Darwin-only propaganda in the news media, we hope you find this liberating.