Saturday, April 4, 2009

The American Family Association and Evolution

I just finished my preliminary qualifier exams. Algebra went well aside from a minor brain fart while analysis did not go very well. My brain is a bit of mush right now. Moreover, I realized afterwords that I had made a number of silly mistakes. Lucky for me, I have been saved from feeling stupid by an email I just received from the American Family Association. The AFA has apparently branched out from their usual focus on how homosexuals and Jews are destroying America. The email was primarily a link to advertise some video about animals that somehow "defy" evolution.

According to the advertisement, the movie "enters the fascinating world of animals to reveal sophisticated and complex designs that shake the traditional foundations of evolutionary theory."

According to the website, the video will answer such interesting questions as:

- Are there really creatures that produce fire to defend themselves?

- How does a giraffe get a drink without causing lethal blood pressure to his brain?

- How can Geckos walk upside down, even on glass and not fall?

- How can birds navigate over thousands of miles of ocean and never get lost?

- How do fireflies and glowworms create light that generates no heat?

- How do great whales dive to the bottom of the ocean without the pressure causing them to implode?

- What creature was the inspiration for the helicopter?
- How can some creatures be cut in half and still regenerate themselves? Some can even grow a new head!

- What kind of bird can kill a lion with a single kick?

- How can some dogs know that a storm is coming before it appears, or can sense when their masters are about to experience a seizure?

- Which creature perlexes scientists because of its amazing ability to heal itself, even when it sustains horrendous injuries?

- How do Emperor Penguins go two and a half months without eating or drinking?
This is entire video is apparently an example of the golly-gee-wilikers-that's-so-complicated-it-must-be-made-by-God argument. Some aspects of the advertisement suggest that the video might at times become slightly more sophisticated. The comment about giraffes suggests that the video may also use the frequently rebutted creationist whinings about how the giraffe could have evolved its long neck.

However, there are two entries which stand out. The entry about dogs is most interesting. First, many animals and even some people can tell if a storm is coming due to the change in air pressure. Better hearing also allows some animals to hear thunder when it is far away. I'm genuinely perplexed at what the AFA people thought was complicated about this. It seems like they think that any ability that humans lack must be extraordinairy and difficult to explain. This entry is also interesting because even most young earth creationists agree that dogs evolved from wolves. So the evolution of capabilities is supposedly a problem even when they agree that evolution occurred to give them those capabilities?

The other entry of note is the entry on fireflies. This entry manages to demonstrate even more ignorance than the entry on dogs. Whoever wrote this doesn't understand that their are many examples of phenomena which produce light and little to no heat. Moreover, the mechanism that fireflies use to produce light is very simple, relying on a protein (a type of luciferase), and ATP, the universal energy exchange found in every living cell. This is a well-understood, very simple mechanism. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, there's not even a ghost of a homeopathic dilution of irreducible complexity here. How fireflies light themselves is understood by young children who have the minimal curosity to wonder how fireflies light themselves. Moreover, this fact is simple enough to explain in even further detail, that when I was a little kid, I had at least two separate books which explained this process in some detail. When I was 12 years old I had strong Young Earth Creationist sympathies, and if you had stated this argument then, I would have likely laughed in your face. Congratulations, AFA, you've shown that you are more ignorant than many little kids.

Thank you AFA. When I opened my email an hour ago, I felt stupid. Now, having seen an example of extreme stupidity and willful ignorance, and am relieved. I have seen the face of idiocy, and not passing an analysis qualifier is not it.


Jay said...

It's amusing in an odd way that the anti-evolution literature collapses to little more than a few dozen arguments from ignorance and a smattering of strawman arguments. It's also interesting that the traditional creationist authors are more frequently adopting the terminology of the cdesign proponentists in their works, which further erodes what little remains of the facade that the ID movement isn't pushing a specifically religions agenda.

Lautreamont said...

And they only want $61 for this single engaging DVD! How utterly Christian.

Stacy S. said...

I'm happy you feel better! ;-)

Joshua said...

Stacy, thanks for the sentiment. We'll see how I'm feeling when I actually find out if I passed.

Stacy S. said...

I'm sure you did. :-)

Metro said...

Ugh ... I know the "empty-brain" feeling after exams. But just imagine how much worse it could be: Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell must feel that way all the time!