Creationists still can't seem to evolve

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Oct. 11 2010 12:30 PM

Creationists still can't seem to evolve

Creationists make me laugh (at least, when they aren't making me beat my head against a wall). Sometimes their tactics adapt -- dare I say evolve? -- to new situations (like when they changed their name from creationism to Intelligent Design), and sometimes they don't. Cherry-picking, taking things out of context, and deception are de rigueur for many of them.

smbc_evolutionEnter creationists Bob Enyart and Fred Williams. The former is the host (and the latter a guest host) of a creationist radio program called -- hang on to your irony gland -- Real Science Friday. On the October 8 show, they tackle (well, try to tackle) several issues about science, including one involving me. I downloaded the episode and listened to it, and wasn't terribly surprised to hear them grossly mischaracterize science all through it. They manage to pack a whole lot of outright wrongness into just a few minutes; anyone who has passed middle school science would be able to see where they're wrong. It's the usual tour-de-force of creationist nonsense.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Which brings us to me. Last year, I took creationist Spike Psarris to task for misusing the term "evolution" when it comes to astronomy. Psarris has a series of videos out about creationist astronomy. In them, he uses the term evolution to stir emotions in creationists, and not for what it actually means. He then tried to squirm out of that, saying astronomers use the term evolution all the time. I then showed where he was being very deceptive there, trying to distract his readers away from the point that he was seriously misusing the term.

Re-enter Enyart and Williams. Starting at 18:45 in their radio show, they talk about this. Of course, they praise Psarris (who is wrong, wrong, wrong), but then turn to my own blog posts about him.

Oh wait, did I say "posts", plural? I meant they turn to my first blog post. That's important; we'll get back to that.

They basically parrot what Psarris did, pointing out that astronomers do use the term evolution. Of course we do, but it's entirely different than biological evolution. Astronomers use it to mean change, usually in individual bodies (stars, planets, galaxies), while biologists use it to talk about change in species or larger categories due to the change in frequency of alleles. Comparing the biological and astronomical usage of the term evolution would be as silly as comparing the biblical and scientific usage of the verb "to know".

But since creationists hate evolution, they use it to tar all of science. Funny that, given that without the science they deny, radio wouldn't work. Hmmm.

So clearly, Enyart and Williams carry on the tradition of creationist misuse of scientific terms. On their website describing the radio program, it says:

Also, they chuckle over the accusation leveled by Discover magazine blogger evolutionist Phil Plait who accused Creation Astronomy's Spike Psarris of being deceptive because he uses the term "evolution" to describe naturalistic astronomy for, as Plait wrote, "evolution has nothing to do with astronomy." So, Spike knocks it out of the park by showing the covers of nine astronomy texts, each one with the word evolution in their titles, such as Solar System Evolution.

Interestingly, this indicated to me that perhaps they haven't actually looked at my blog much, or used the search engine there, because it seems to have slipped their notice that in my followup post, I show why, in great detail, Psarris was wrong. They also say I call Psarris a liar, which I do not, as I point out in my second post*.

Had they read the second post, certainly they wouldn't have used arguments already shown to be wrong. Right?


Psarris, Enyart, and Williams either don't understand the basics of what they are attacking, or they don't care as long as they can cast doubt on things over which there is no doubt. Something outspoken creationists never do is look for objective facts, for context, for reality. They'd rather keep those scales on their eyes, score cheap points, and hope no one listening to them goes to the trouble of typing words into a search engine.

Sadly, it's a bet they win way too many times.

* They even ask if I will revise my statement on my blog. Um, no, I won't because in my second post I show why I'm right and Psarris is wrong.



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