Ben Carson’s Creationist Talking Points

Ben Carson’s Creationist Talking Points February 5, 2015

Ben Carson has written six books and Tim Murphy of Mother Jones magazine took the time to read them all (poor guy). He has some excerpts from those books that confirm what I’ve come to see about Carson in reading his columns in recent months: The guy doesn’t have an original thought in his head. All he does is repeat talking points and platitudes. The only thing that separates him from Sarah Palin is that he’s more eloquent than she is. Case in point:

From what I know (and all we don’t know) about biology, I find it as hard to accept the claims of evolution as it is to think that a hurricane blowing through a junkyard could somehow assemble a fully equipped and flight-ready 747. You could blow a billion hurricanes through a trillion junkyards over infinite periods of time, and I don’t think you’d get one aerodynamic wing, let alone an entire jumbo jet complete with complex connections for a jet-propulsion system, a radar system, a fuel-injection system, an exhaust system, a ventilation system, control systems, electronic systems, plus backup systems for all of those, and so much more. There’s simply not enough time in eternity for that to happen. Which is why not one of us has ever doubted that a 747, by its very existence, gives convincing evidence of someone’s intelligent design.

This argument is something of a litmus test for creationist ignorance. When you hear someone make it, you can safely dismiss anything else they might say on the subject because it’s now quite obvious that they simply have no idea what they’re talking about. The analogy is not just false, it’s utterly absurd. Evolution is not like a tornado going through a junkyard in any way whatsoever. More mindless repetition of creationist talking points:

For me, the plausibility of evolution is further strained by Darwin’s assertion that within fifty to one hundred years of his time, scientists would become geologically sophisticated enough to find the fossil remains of the entire evolutionary tree in an unequivocal step-by-step progression of life from amoeba to man—including all of the intermediate species.

Darwin said that? Where, exactly? Please quote him. He did say that he hoped that the more fossils are found, the more evidence we will have to support his theory and the better we will understand how life evolved on earth. And guess what? His hope came true, despite this nonsense from Carson:

Of course that was 150 years ago, and there is still no such evidence. It’s just not there. But when you bring that up to the proponents of Darwinism, the best explanation they can come up with is “Well…uh…it’s lost!” Here again I find it requires too much faith for me to believe that explanation given all the fossils we have found without any fossilized evidence of the direct, step-by-step evolutionary progression from simple to complex organisms or from one species to another species. Shrugging and saying, “Well, it was mysteriously lost, and we’ll probably never find it,” doesn’t seem like a particularly satisfying, objective, or scientific response. But what’s even harder for me to swallow is how so many people who can’t explain it are still willing to claim that evolution is not theory but fact, at the same time insisting anyone who wants to consider or discuss creationism as a possibility cannot be a real scientist.

This might be labeled the evolution of a creationist straw man. Scientists do not, of course, say any such thing, nor does the evidence. Despite the fact that the fossil record is incomplete (and always will be, of course), we have an extraordinary record of how life evolved on this planet. How would Mr. Carson explain that record? How would he explain the fact that, in the lowest strata, nothing appears but bacteria and stromatolites for nearly three billion years? How does he explain the fact that the fossils form a perfect sequence from single-celled organisms to simple multicellular life to marine invertebrates to marine vertebrates (fish) to amphibians to reptiles to mammals and birds and, finally, to humans?

How would he explain the fact that the first amphibians to appear in the fossil record look nearly identical to the fish they evolved from and become increasingly diversified and more adapted to terrestrial life over time? We see that pattern over and over again, where the first of each new higher taxa looks just like the one it diverged from and then, as new species within that taxa appear they are increasingly more diverse, less like the taxa they split off from and better adapted to the new territory into which they have expanded.

How does he explain the fact that we have an excellent series of fossils leading from our ape-like ancestors to modern humans? We can see all of the key human traits evolve over time in the fossil record, from dentition patterns to brain capacity to the ability to walk upright. Was God experimenting, making first an ape, then a slightly more human version, then a slightly more human version again, and so on, until modern humans appear in the last few hundred thousand years? Was he trying to trick us? Or did those traits evolve over time, as the fossil record clearly suggests?

Carson is merely repeating well-worn and false creationist claims. He clearly knows nothing at all about the fossil record, much less other lines of evidence for evolution like molecular sequencing data. This is the Dunning-Kruger effect in full bloom, a man who knows nothing at all about a subject but feels entirely competent in declaring that virtually every biologist, geologist and paleontologist in the world is wrong.

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