The Case for a Creator: Complexity Is Scary!

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 8In the previous installment, I discussed how creationists steer well clear of doing any real science. We can see another example of this in, ironically, the way Strobel falls all over himself lauding Michael Behe as a Real Scientist:He has authored forty articles for such scientific journals as DNA Sequence, The Journal of Molecular Biology, Nucleic Acids Research, Biopolymers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Biophysics, and … [Read more...]

A Sense of Kinship


This past summer, I was visiting the New York Botanical Gardens when serendipity struck: this beautiful little creature alighted on a stone railing around the edge of a pool, staying just long enough for me to snap this shot:I think, though I'm not an expert, that this is a blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis.I don't usually like close-up photos of insects - they have an eerie, alien feel that I find disturbing. (I admit it, I'm a mammal chauvinist.) But this one is one of … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: The Ultimate 747

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 6In his frequently-maligned (but less-frequently read and understood) book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins offers what I think is an underappreciated argument against all varieties of supernatural design, the "Ultimate 747" argument.Briefly stated, it goes like this: If we accept ID advocates' reasoning, complexity and organization require a designer. Yet it stands to reason that any designer that could create a complex, organized thing must be an even more … [Read more...]

Another Branch on the Human Family Tree

I haven't written about any new transitional fossils in a while, so it's a great pleasure for me to mention this one: a hominid skeleton nicknamed "Ardi", a specimen of Ardipithecus ramidus. This species was known from other fossil fragments, but Ardi is one of the oldest and most complete hominids found so far, and may give us the most insight yet into what the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees looked like.Ardi lived about 4.4 million years ago (by comparison, Lucy and her fellow … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Dysteleology

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 4In the last section of his interview with Stephen Meyer, Lee Strobel brings up the dysteleological argument, asking how intelligent design can account for the faults and imperfections in the natural world that would seem to cast doubt on the wisdom or benevolence of the designer. He begins with a classic argument, the inverted retina. Quoting Ken Miller:"We would have to wonder why an intelligent designer placed the neural wiring of the retina on the … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Meet Your Ancestors

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3In the final section of chapter 3, Strobel and Wells turn to the evidence that creationists loathe above all else: the fossil hominids that make up the human family tree. Human ancestors are not only a clear, obvious transition that even a layperson can understand, they directly demonstrate that we ourselves are a product of evolution, thus striking at the desire to be separate, special creations that almost certainly motivates nearly all creationists.I … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Ancient Wings


The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Up until now, Jonathan Wells' critiques of evolution, although misguided, have been fairly sophisticated, touching on topics such as abiogenesis, the Cambrian explosion, and embryology. That's about to change. In this section, Wells and Strobel haul out the most breathtaking, shameless lie bandied about by creationists: that there are no such things as transitional fossils. This opening quote foreshadows the direction they're going:I was under the … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: The More Things Change

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Strobel's discussion of embryonic similarities with Jonathan Wells leads into a broader discussion of homology, which deserves its own post.I've been harder on Wells than I otherwise would because he, unlike the vast majority of creationists, has a legitimate degree in biology. It's impossible that he doesn't understand some of the things he claims not to understand, or that he doesn't know the actual scientific explanations for the questions he poses. … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Beating a Dead Haeckel

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Ernst Haeckel died a hundred and fifty almost a hundred years ago [fixed - thanks, Alex!], but the creationists won't let him rest in peace. In this section, Wells again exhumes these old bones and takes a few kicks at them, and imagines that by doing so he's brought the entire edifice of modern evolutionary biology crashing down.If you're not familiar with Haeckel, here's a bit of background. Ernst Haeckel was a nineteenth-century biologist, one who lived at … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Small Twigs


The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Jonathan Wells' second "icon" is Darwin's tree of life, which he says is a "dismal failure" [p.43] as an illustration of the fossil record.With a lead-in like that, you'd expect a typical creationist jeremiad against transitional fossils. In fact, that's not what we get. The focus of Wells' complaint is about the Cambrian explosion, 550 million years ago. No transitional series more recent is treated here: not the origin of tetrapods, not the therapsids … [Read more...]