Refutation of “Evolution: A Fairy Tale for Grownups” – Questions 1 – 10

Question 1

Comfort begins the first question with the following: “In what year did USA Today report: Paleontologists have discovered a new skeleton in the closet of human ancestry that is likely to to force science to revise, if not scrap, current theories of human origins?” The discovery left scientists confused, saying, “Lucy may not even be a direct human ancestor after all.”

Rays answer: 2001.

(Source: Tim Friend, “Discovery rocks human-origin theories” USA Today, March 21, 2001 http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/2001-03-21-skull.htm)

Does not damage evolutionary theory

The fossil in question is Kenyanthropus platyops, estimated age is between 3.5 and 3.2 million years. This is a mostly complete cranium which came in two pieces: a skullcase which was heavily distorted, and a face which was much better preserved. The fossil has an unusual combination of characteristics, most notably a broad flat face and small teeth. The name Kenyanthropus platyops means “Flat faced man of Kenya”. The brain size is similar to that of australopithecines.

However, this fossil does not disprove the theory of evolution. It is still undergoing investigation of where it may fit into our lineage, but it does not disprove the fact that humans are apes and share a common ancestor with other apes. What the author of this article proposes is that humans may belong to a separate genus, but they remain unsure. The article includes the following quote “I and many others believe Lucy needs to be replaced, but I’m not sure Kenyanthropus is the one,” says Rick Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.

Even without a fossil, we still can prove that humans share a common ancestor with apes based on genetics, taxonomy, phylogenetics, and much more.

Non-Academic Source
USA Today is not a scientific journal. Any body can publish their material and opinions onto such magazines and newspapers, and USA Today does not provide proper peer-review.

In-Depth Comments

“Paleontologists in Africa have found a 3.5 million-year-old skull from what they say is an entirely new branch of the early human family tree, a discovery that threatens to overturn the prevailing view that a single line of descent stretched through the early stages of human ancestry. The discoverers and other scientists of human evolution say they are not necessarily surprised by the findings, but certainly confused. Now it seems that the fossil species Australopithecus afarensis, which lived from about four million to three million years ago and is best known from the celebrated Lucy skeleton, was not alone on the African plain. Lucy may not even be a direct human ancestor after all.”

(Source: John Noble Wilford, “Skull May Alter Experts’ View Of Human Descent’s Branches,” The New York Times, March 22, 2001 )

Non-Academic Source
The New York Times s not a scientific journal. Any body can publish their material and opinions onto such magazines and newspapers, and New York Times does not provide proper peer-review.
Does not damage evolutionary theory
At best, this fossil piece only offers that the proposed hominid fossil Australopithecus afarensis (Lucy) was not the only species of hominidea in Africa at the time. The paper says Lucy “may not” even be a direct human ancestor – specifically note the “may not” part. It is not concrete proof that Lucy is therefore dismissed or rejected. Lucy to this day remains the prime candidate of our early evolutionary ancestry. Furthermore, while Kenyanthropus platyops may be a early species of hominidea, nothing about this refutes the fact that humans share a common ancestor with other primates.
Distortion of Science
Recent evidence has proven the Lucy did not walk quadrupedal but upright. The first comment says that the find might “overturn the prevailing view that a single line of descent stretched through the early stages of human ancestry.” Observing the conclusion of this comment, which is a little more obvious: “Lucy may not even be a direct human ancestor after all.” Interesting, but it has no bearing on our confidence in evolutionary theory in general.

“The evidence given above makes it overwhelmingly likely that Lucy was no more than a variety of pygmy chimpanzee, and walked the same way (awkwardly upright on occasions, but mostly quadrupedal). The ‘evidence’ for the alleged transformation from ape to man is extremely unconvincing.”

(Source: Albert W. Mehlert, Former Evolutionist & paleoanthropology researcher. “Lucy – Evolution’s Solitary Claim for Ape/Man.” CRS Quarterly, Volume 22, No. 3, p. 145)

Non-Academic Source
CRS Quarterly is not an academic source where a person’s material is subject to scientific peer-review. In fact, it is the very antithesis of a scientific paper. It is in fact a quarterly journal of the Creation Research Society
Distortion of Science

“Lucy was a chimpanzee. The ‘evidence’ for the transformation from ape to man is unconvincing.” This point also might go over your head if you’re not scientific, but the title of the article makes the point obvious: “Lucy: Evolution’s Solitary Claim for Ape/Man.” This article is talking strictly about the relationship between Lucy and humans. It’s not saying anything fundamental about evolutionary theory. It is not challenging the the evolutionary model that humans share a common ancestor with other primates.

Neither of these comments is saying anything about scrapping evolutionary theory, or even revisiting the idea that we are apes descended from apes. They’re just talking about scrapping the prevailing views concerning “the early stages of human ancestry.” All they’re talking about here is the details of the family tree that we share with the other primates. Neither one of these comments says anything incriminating.

“Evidence from fossils now points overwhelmingly away from the classical Darwinism which most Americans learned in high school… The missing link between man and the apes … is merely the most glamorous of a whole hierarchy of phantom creatures. In the fossil record, missing links are the rule… The more scientists have searched for the transitional forms between species, the more they have been frustrated.”

(Source: Adler, Jerry “Is Man a Subtle Accident?,” Newsweek, November 3, 1980)

Not a qualified biologist
Comfort said in the Introduction of this book he would be quoting “evolutionary experts” and right here, Comfort provides a quote from a non-biologist. Jerry Adler is a contributing editor at Newsweek. He is not a scientist.
Non-Academic Source
Newsweek is not a scholarly or scientific source.
Distortion of Science
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Finally, the last comment: the evidence points away from Darwinism? Another look at the article reveals something different;

“Evidence from fossils now points overwhelmingly away from the classical Darwinism which most Americans learned in high school: that new species evolve out of existing ones by the gradual accumulation of small changes. Increasingly, scientists now believe that species change little for millions of years and then evolve quickly.

Context certainly does seem to be important here. The part that Ray Comfort quotes seems to say that evolutionary theory itself is in crisis. In proper context, we can see that the author is not saying anything about evolutionary theory. He’s saying that the changes in species are often sudden, contrary to the prevailing gradualist view at the time. He even goes on to say that “the new theories are intended to explain how evolution came about—not to supplant it as a principle.”

Clearly, no quiet admissions of lack of evidence concerning evolutionary theory are apparent in any of this commentary. The question itself and the first two comments simply say nothing negative at all about any facet of science. The third comment was quote-mined and grossly misrepresented. Finally, let’s look at the sources for all these excerpts: USA Today in 2001; The New York Times in 2001; Newsweek in 1980; and CRS Quarterly. Even if any of these quotes did say something incriminating about evolutionary theory, we should be very careful not to grant them too much credence, given that the first three are popular press and the last one is the quarterly journal of the Creation Research Society. Not to mention that two of the articles were already seven years old when Ray published his book, and one of them almost thirty. An awful lot of knowledge can be gained since in three decades. Question #1 is empty.

Question 2

“Who said it? “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have to have been satisfied to get it going”? Comfort answers “Sir Francis Crick”

(Source: Life Itself, Its Origins and Nature, 1981, p. 88)

Comfort adds, “Francis Crick (1916-2004) was an English molecular biologist, physicist, and neuroscientist who is most noted for being one of the co-discoverers of the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. He, James D. Watson, and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.””

Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

What Ray Comfort, and many other anti-evolutionists, did not post was the rest of the sentence and the rest of the paragraph by Francis Crick:

” . . . so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going. But this should not be taken to imply that there are good reasons to believe that it could not have started on the earth by a perfectly reasonable sequence of fairly ordinary chemical reactions. The plain fact is that the time available was too long, the many microenvironments on the earth’s surface too diverse, the various chemical possibilities too numerous and our own knowledge and imagination too feeble to allow us to be able to unravel exactly how it might or might not have happened such a long time ago, especially as we have no experimental evidence from that era to check our ideas against.”

It’s obvious that whoever posted the sentence cut off in the middle as it was either was deliberately dishonest, or never bothered to read the original.

In-Depth Comment

“Leslie Orgel is one of the leading figures in origin-of-life research since many years, and he is one of several researchers who independently from each other proposed in the 1960’s the RNA world as a precursor of the current DNA/protein world. Gerald oyce is also a top scientist in the field. The authors argue in a joint article published in The RNA World, 2nd edition (2000), p. 68, on solid chemical grounds that, because of the complex and stereospecific chemistry required, ‘the de novo appearance of oligonucleotides on the primitive earth would have been a near miracle’….They go on to say that although the presumed RNA world should be considered a milestone and a plateau in the early history of the earth, the concept ‘does not explain how life originated’ (p.74). They conclude (p.74): ‘One can sketch out a logical order of events, beginning with prebiotic chemistry and ending with DNA/protein based lief. However it must be said that the details of these events remain obscure and are not likely to be known in the near future.’”

(Source: Albrecht Moritz, “The Origin of Life” October 31, 2006).

Quote Mine/Distorted message of author
The quote by Albert Moritz provided by Ray does not appear anywhere in the source he provided.

Question 3

Fill in the blank. David Kitts, an evolutionary paleontologist, said “Despite the bright promise that
paleontology provides a means of ‘seeing’ evolution, it has presented some nasty difficulties for evolutionists the most notorious of which is the presence of ‘gaps’ in the fossil record. Evolution requires ________ between species and paleontology does not provide them.”
Comfort’s answer: “intermediate forms”
(Source: Evolution, Vol. 28, September 1974, p. 467).
Comfort goes on to add, “Although faced with no paleontological way to show one species changing into another, Kitts holds on to his belief in evolution.”
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Aside from the presence of a dash between “promise” and “that” in the original text, the quote is accurate. But does Kitts believe that these gaps disprove evolution? On page 468 we find this:

“The claim has been repeatedly made that the fossil record provides a basis for the falsification of synthetic theory [Neo-Darwinism] and Simpson has demonstrated that this is not the case.”

Kitts outlines several different hypotheses as to why the fossil record appears the way it does, among them Punctuated Equilibrium, but at no point does he abandon evolution as an explanation for what is seen.

 

Outdated Source

In-Depth Comments

 “Given the fact of evolution, one would expect to find fossils to document a steady gradual change from ancestral forms to the descendants. But this is not what paleontologist find. Instead, he or she finds gaps in just about every phyletic series.”
(Source: Ernest Mayr, What Evolution
Is
, 2001. p. 14)
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Notice Ernest Mayr calls evolution a fact, but Ray is giving the false impression that intermediate fossils do not exist and there are huge gaps in the record. In the same page, Mayr answers why this is and how it is not a problem for the theory off evolution. Mayr states that there are several lineages that are complete — he mentions the lineage between therapsid reptile and mammals, as well as land-dwelling animals to whales AND humans from australopithecus ancestors. Mayr states many intermediate transitional fossils have been found (he even names Archaeopteryx). Mayr explains that it is very rare for an animal to fossilize because most animals and plants are eaten. So basically, Mayr is not saying that these gaps in the fossil record disprove evolution, nor is he saying it is a problem for the theory. In fact, Mayr provides an explanation why this is, and how it compliments the theory of evolution.

 

“A persistent problem in evolutionary biology has been the absence of intermediate forms in the fossil record. Long-term gradual transfigurations of single
lineages are rare and generally involve simple size increase or trivial phenotypic effects. Typically, the record consists of successive ancestor-descendant lineages, morphologically invariant through time and unconnected by intermediates.”
(Source: P. G. Williamson, Paleontological Documentation of Speciation in Cenozoic Molluscs from Turkana Basin, 1982, pg. 163.)
Outdated Source
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

This is actually from the journal Nature 293:437-443 and occurs on page 440. Possibly the original quote-miner got it from a later collection of papers. The quote is at the start of the concluding section of the paper, where Willianson discusses the implications of his research (and in fact the section is called “Implications”). Williamson certainly believes that evolution has occurred, because earlier in the paper he writes: “The 19 species lineages in the section represent 18 genera and 12 families, thus ancestor-descendant relationships between species lineages and their derivative taxa are unambiguous.” The quoted section introduces the idea of punctuated equilibrium, and Williamson feels that his research conforms to that idea. He sampled roughly 3,300 individuals.

“The majority of major groups appear suddenly in rocks, with virtually no evidence of transition from their ancestors.”
(Source: D. Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution, 1983, p. 82.)
Outdated Source
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author
Finally, and rather ironic, Futuyma immediately follows this with the observation of an early example, by Gish, of quote mining. A little later he says: “The transitional forms that evolve so quickly, and in such a small area, are very unlikely to be picked up in the fossil record. Only when the newly evolved species extends its range will it suddenly appear in the fossil record. Eldredge and Gould have suggested, therefore, that the fossil record should show stasis, or equilibrium, of established species, punctuated occasionally by the appearance of new forms. Hence, the fossil record would be most inadequate exactly where we need it most — at the origin of major new groups of organisms.” p. 83

Question 4

Question 4 uses a quote from Dr. Tim White that anthropologists want to find a hominid fossil so much that “any scrap of bone will become a hominid fossil” from a New Scientist article were a dolphin bone was mistaken for a hominid collarbone. (Source: New Scientist Hominid collarbone exposed as dolphin)
Distortion of Science

This tries to portray scientists as biased and dogmatic. Scientific results are tested. This has two very important consequences: First, the scientists know that their results will be subject to challenge, so they work harder to make sure the evidence really does support their results. Second, published ideas that the evidence does not support will get rejected, especially in times or places with different cultural biases.

Creationists find what they want to find. Since their entire world view is threatened by finding disconfirming evidence, they are very highly motivated not to see it. Scientists, on the other hand, usually welcome disconfirming evidence when it comes along. But as it stands, there is no evidence confirming or supporting creationism.

In-Depth Comments

“Evolutionists present much of their finds as if they were compelling and factual explanations to human evolution. In fact, they base their conclusions on mere speculation and often the flimsiest of `finds’. Many discoveries of supposed hominids consist of only a mouth fragment, a leg bone, a hip bone, or a knee joint. On this alone, they have considered it to be a hominid. They even name it, reconstruct what it looked like, and present it to the public as a fact. Some of these finds have turned out to be those of a pig, donkey, or the result of a hoax. One hoax consisted of someone placing a human skull with an ape’s jaw. Evolutionist declared it to be a hominid for fifty years without having done an in depth study of it. Some finds consist of an assortment of fragments found miles apart and then placed together to look as though they came from the same individual. Sometimes rocks as simple as those found in any backyard are called tools of hominids and are pictured in books. Footprints that look identical to any person’s today are sometimes declared in books and accepted as those of hominids. The brow ridge that supposedly marked the hominid appears only in one skull.”

(Source: Doug LaPointe, “The Top Evidences Against the Theory of Evolution”)

Not a qualified biologist
Doug LaPointe is not a scientist, he is a pastor who graduated with a degree in Communications at Rutgers University. (Source)
Non-Academic Source
This is actually an of-shot web page from www.bestbiblescience.org.
Distortion of Science
Regarding LaPointe, his arguments are way off. Evolution is not based on fragmentary fossils. The theory would still be extremely robust with no fossils at all, based on evidence from modern life. Furthermore, there are more than enough substantially complete skeletons to support evolution. The whale transitional sequence, for example, is based on several excellent skeletons. A single bone, even in isolation, can give a surprising amount of information. A tooth, for example, can show generally what kind of food an animal ate and give an idea of its size. These conclusions, in turn, tell how the animal fits into the ecology. Bones are never considered in isolation; rather, they are compared with other bones from more complete skeletons. If you have a bone that looks like an Iguanodon femur but smaller, to give a simple example, the reconstruction would look a lot like a smaller Iguanodon. A complete reconstruction, however, is possible only if you can match the single bone to an animal for which there is a complete skeleton already.

“A long-enduring and regrettable effect of the success of the Origin [of Species] was the addiction of biologists to unverifiable speculation…This situation, where scientific men rally to the defense of a doctrine that they are unable to define scientifically, much less demonstrate with scientific rigour, attempting to maintain its credit with the public by the suppression of criticism and the elimination of difficulties, is abnormal and undesirable in science.”

(Source: From “evolutionist” W. R. Thompson, Introduction to The Origin of Species 6th Edition (New york; e. P. Dutton & Co., 1956), p. xxii.)

Outdated SourceDistortion of Science

The quote from Thompson is highly inaccurate and outdated.

Thompson offers nothing more than “Such is the effect of Darwinian fantasy on biological thinking.”

Thompson was not a layman, but a scientist with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto, a Master of Science degree from Cornell, a “D.Sc.” from the University of Paris, and a Ph.D. from the University of St. Maximin. He was a practicing entomologist (one who studies insects) and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Yet despite all this, and in spite of a background that should have provided him with the skills necessary to construct a logical critique of Poulton’s article, and the claim that experiments have shown that this variety of Lantern Fly is mimicking an alligator, all Thompson can do is state that it’s a fantasy.

If Thompson truly felt that he had a point, he should have backed it up with evidence.

Question 5

This question asks who said it? “To postulate that the development and survival of the fittest is entirely a consequence of chance and mutations (Ray’s footnote: In biology, mutations are changes to the base pair sequence of the genetic material of an organism) seems to me a hypothesis based on no evidence and irreconcilable with the facts. These classical evolutionary theories are a gross oversimplification of an immensely complex and intricate mass of facts, and it amazes me that they are swallowed so uncritically and so readily, and for such a long time, by so many scientists without a murmur of protest.” Comfort answers “Sir Ernst Chain,” co-holder of the 1945 Nobel Prize for developing penicillin.

(Source: Ronald W. Clark, The Life of Ernst Chain [New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985], pp. 147-148)

 

Not a qualified biologist
Comfort said in the Introduction of this book he would be quoting “evolutionary experts” and right here, Comfort provides a quote from a non-biologist. Ronald W. Clark is not a scientist, he is a biographer and author.
Outdated Source
Appeal to authority

Chain was a biochemist, but his personal views does not agree with the actual evidence. Chain’s primary objection to evolution is that the probability of the origin of DNA molecules by sheer chance is too small to be seriously considered – however, this is an outdated objection to abiogenesis, not evolution. Additionally, his objection is an argument from ignorance – even if we were to discover that the true probability was enormously small, that has no bearing on whether or not it actually occurred because ‘unlikely’ does not equate to ‘impossible’.

Modern theories refute Chain’s objection by noting that it’s based on fundamentally flawed assumptions. The first ‘life’ forms need not resemble modern proteins, they could have been single, self-replicating molecules or any number of other simple living things. The formation of these simple polymers is a natural function of chemistry and the element of ‘sheer chance’ is limited.

In-Depth Comments

“’Survival of the fittest’ and ‘natural selection.’ No matter what phraseology one generates, the basic fact remains the same: any physical change of any size, shape or form is strictly the result of purposeful alignment of billions of nucleotides (in the DNA). Nature or species do not have the capacity for rearranging them, nor adding them. Consequently no leap (saltation) can occur from one species to another. The only way we know for a DNA to be altered is through a meaningful intervention from an outside source of intelligence: one who knows what it is doing, such as our genetic engineers are now performing in their laboratories.”

(Source: I. L. Cohen (officer of the Archaeological Institute of America) taken from the book Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities (New York: New Research Publications, Inc., 1984, p. 209)

 

Outdated Source
Not a qualified biologist

Comfort said in the Introduction of this book he would be quoting “evolutionary experts” and right here, Comfort provides a quote from a non-biologist.

Cohen is a mathematician, not a biologist, so already he is making claims outside his field. Rearrangements of DNA do happen naturally, and no scientist (not even Cohen) has provided any evidence of supernatural influence regarding evolution. The best argument they come up with is the flawed argument from probability. Mutations are degrees of variation which are usually quite subtle but cumulative, normally harmless, and occasionally advantageous. Any change in information is different information, not already present, and therefore can only be considered “new”. But of the many types of mutations known to occur, there are additions and duplications as well as deletions and the rest.

Question 6

A true or false question. “There is ample fossil evidence to support mankind evolved from ape-like creatures.” Comfort (unsurprisingly) answers false and then provides another quote: “Species that were once thought to have turned into others have been found to overlap in time with these alleged descendents. In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another.”

(Source: S. M. Stanely, The New Evolutionary Timetable: Fossils, Genes, and the Origin of Species (New York: Basic books, 1981), p. 95)

Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Here is the full quote (words Comfort omits are in bold);

Superb fossil data have recently been gathered from deposits of early Cenozoic Age in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. These deposits represent the first part of the Eocene Epoch, a critical interval when many types of modern mammals came into being. The Bighorn Basin, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, received large volumes of sediment from the Rockies when they were being uplifted, early in the Age of Mammals. In its remarkable degree of completeness, the fossil record here for the Early Eocene is unmatched by contemporary deposits exposed elsewhere in the world. The deposits of the Bighorn Basin provide a nearly continuous local depositional record for this interval, which lasted some five million years. It used to be assumed that certain populations of the basin could be linked together in such a way as to illustrate continuous evolution. Careful collecting has now shown otherwise. Species that were once thought to have turned into others have been found to overlap in time with these alleged descendants. In fact, the fossil record does not convincingly document a single transition from one species to another. Furthermore, species lasted for astoundingly long periods of time. David M. Schankler has recently gathered data for about eighty mammal species that are known from more than two stratigraphic levels in the Bighorn Basin. Very few of these species existed for less than half a million years, and their average duration was greater than a million years.

Outdated Source

Does not damage evolutionary theory

There are mountains of evidence to prove that man evolved from ape-like creatures, Ray Comfort is only asking for fossil evidence. We have found many fossils that our lineage is not considered complete, but even without a single fossil, we still have plenty evidence of common descent. Demanding an “ape-man” is actually just as silly as asking to see a mammal-man, or a half-human, half-vertebrate. How about a half dachshund, half dog? It’s the same thing. One may as well insist on seeing a town half way between Los Angeles and California. Because the problem with bridging the gap between humans and apes is that there is no gap because humans ARE apes –definitely and definitively. The word, “ape” doesn’t refer to a species, but to a parent category of collective species, and we’re included. This is no arbitrary classification like the creationists use. It was first determined via meticulous physical analysis by Christian scientists a century before Darwin, and has been confirmed in recent years with new revelations in genetics. Furthermore, it is impossible to define all the characters exclusively indicative of every known member of the family of apes without describing our own genera as one among them. Consequently, we can and have proven that humans are apes in exactly the same way that lions are cats, and iguanas are lizards, and whales are mammals. So where is the proof that humans descend from apes? How about the fact that we’re still apes right now!

 

In-Depth Comments

“…the gradual morphological transitions between presumed ancestors and descendants, anticipated
by most biologists, are missing.”
(Source: David E. Schindel (Curator of Invertebrate Fossils, Peabody Museum of Natural History), “The Gaps in the Fossil Record,” Nature Vol. 297, 27 May 1982, p. 282.)
Outdated Source
Distortion of Science
“Indeed, it is the chief frustration of the fossil record that we do not have empirical evidence for sustained trends in the evolution of most complex morphological
adaptations.”
(Source: Stephen J. Gould and Niles Eldredge, “Species Selection: Its Range and Power,” Nature, Vol. 334, 7 July 1988, p. 19)
Outdated Source
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author
The quote by Stephen J. Gould is a quote mine.
Gould was explaining punctuated equilibrium, but his work before and afterward explicitly showed that he did accept there were hundreds of transitional fossils.

Question 7

This question address archaeology and the Bible. Somehow, Ray Comfort thinks this refutes evolution. The
question is which publication reported the following: “In an extraordinary way, modern archaeology is affirming the historical core of the Old and New Testaments, supporting key portions of crucial biblical stories.”
Comfort answers “Readers Digest
(Source: Jeffery L. Sheler, “Is the Bible True?” June 2000).
Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology
First of all, the reliability of biblical history is irrelevant to the subject of evolution. Even if the archeology provided any support to the biblical stories (which they don’t), it wouldn’t damage the credibility of the theory of evolution in any way. If we discovered that Jericho and the Exodus happened, that would not instant change the reality that we (humans) are apes by definition nor would it automatically make the evidence for evolution vanish.
Non-Academic Source

Second of all, Readers Digest can publish whatever they wish and it is rather pathetic that Comfort uses this as a valid argument. How about a legitimate historical journal, or at least by an authentic historian or archaeologist. Jeffery Sheler is a freelance journalist, who worked for the U.S. News & World Report for 24 years, including 15 years as the religion editor. Lets take a look at what two authentic historians and archaeologists and see if they support Ray’s claim that archaeology supports the Bible,

  •  William Denver, an archaeologists normally associated with the more conservative end of Syro-Palestinian archaeology, has labeled the question of the historicity of Exodus “dead.”
  • Israeli archaeologist Ze,ev Herzog, provides the current consensus view on the historicity of the Exodus: “The Israelites were never in Egypt. They never came from abroad. This whole chain is broken. It is not a historical one. It is a later legendary reconstruction—made in the seventh century [BCE]—of a history that never happened.”

 

In-Depth Comments

“Following the 1993 discovery in Israel of a stone containing the inscriptions “House of David” and “King of Israel,” Time magazine reported, “The writing—dated to the 9th century B.C., only a century after David’s reign—described a victory by a neighboring king over the Israelites…The skeptics’ claim that David never existed is now hard to defend.”
(Source: Michael D. Lemonick (“Are the Bible stories True?” Time June 24, 2001)
Not a qualified biologist
Comfort said in the Introduction of this book he would be quoting “evolutionary experts” and right here, Comfort provides a quote from a non-biologist. Michael D. Lemonick is a journalist, not a scientist.
Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology
The quote by Lemonick is also misleading. Skeptics do not question the existence of David, but the size of his empire. Archaeological evidence does not support the description of his empire as described in the Bible, but none of that matters anyway to the theory of evolution. Even if the archeology provided support to the biblical stories of David, it wouldn’t damage the credibility of the theory of evolution in any way. Discovering a stone with several engravings on it does not instantly change the reality that we (humans) are apes by definition nor would it automatically make the evidence for evolution vanish.

“During the past four decades, spectacular discoveries have produced data corroborating the historical backdrop of the Gospels. In 1968, for example, the skeletal remains of a crucified man were found in a burial cave in northern Jerusalem…There was evidence that his wrists may have been pierced with nails. The knees had been doubled up and turned sideways and an iron nail (still lodged in the heel bone of one foot) driven through both heels. The shinbones appeared to have been broken, perhaps corroborating the Gospel of John.”

(Source: Jeffery L. Sheler. “Is the Bible True?” Readers Digest June 2000)

Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology
This does not mean squat to the theory of evolution. Despite whether the act of crucifixion was common or practiced back then is irrelevant. None of it does not instant change the reality that we (humans) are apes by definition nor would it automatically make the evidence for evolution vanish.
Non-Academic Source

Sheler’s quote proves nothing except crucifixion was practiced back then. Nobody argues against this. What the problem is that there is no evidence for a crucified man who rose from the dead several days later. There is no evidence of a massive earthquake, a solar eclipse, nor a mass resurrection of the dead who walked in the streets of Jerusalem for all to see.

We know that Greek heroes were often buried in certain fashions, and we have evidence of these burials, but that does not mean mythical Greek heroes described in Homer’s epics as real.

“At the present stage of geological research, we have to admit that there is nothing in the geological records that runs contrary to the view of conservative creationists, that God created each species separately, presumably from the dust of the earth.”
(Source: Edmund J. Ambrose (Emeritus Professor of Cell Biology, University of London), The Nature and Origin of the Biological World (John Wiley & Sons, 1982) p. 164)
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Turns out this is a quote mine. The full quote is provided below, with omitted words in bold;

We need to remember that the only evidence about the way events occurred in the past is found in the geological records. However sophisticated advances in molecular genetics and molecular engineering may become eventually, the fact that a genetic change or even a new species might be generated eventually in the laboratory does not tell us how new species arose in the past history of the earth. They merely provide possible mechanisms. At the present stage of geological research, we have to admit that there is nothing in the geological records that runs contrary to the view of conservative creationists, that God created each species separately, presumably from the dust of the earth. My own view is that this does not strengthen the creationists’ arguments.

Does not damage evolutionary theory

So Ambrose believes that the fossil record is incomplete, but doesn’t feel that this strengthens the creationist’s hand. But he does feel that the geological record supports evolution, as we can see on page 103:

“It is strikingly clear in the geological records, when life had reached the stage where organisms were capable of living in a previously unoccupied region of the planet, such as the move from estuaries to dry land, the appearance of plants growing to great heights which provided a location (habitat) for climbing animals, or when birds and insects actually moved up and flew in theair[sp] above the earth’s surface. Large numbers of new species appeared at these times; this has been called radiation, a spreading out of life.

Outdated Source
Distortion of Science
Taking the quote-mine at face value, Ambrose would be completely mistaken. The geological record does not support a young earth, global flood, or any other myth in creationism.

Question 8

Fill in the blank question. Richard Dawkins said “feathers are modified reptilian ______”
Ray answers “scales” (put provides no source for this) and argues this is false. Ray Comfort uses arguments from Jonathan Sarfati, and creationist author with a PhD in chemistry. Sarfati formerly worked for Answers in Genesis (AiG), presently works for Creation Ministries International (CMI) as co-editor of their magazine, Creation.
Not a qualified biologist
Comfort said in the Introduction of this book he would be quoting “evolutionary experts” and right here, Comfort provides a quote from a non-biologist. Sarfati is not a paleontologist, biologist or skilled in taxonomy. Here is a site that reveals Sarfati’s fallacious works. Sarfati’s work has been known as “crude piece of propaganda”by the National Center for Science Education. Reed A. Cartwright and Dr Douglas L. Theobald, have criticized Sarfati’s claims such as one that accuses scientists of continually changing the definition of vestigial to match the evidence.
Distortion of Science
Feathers are indeed modified reptilian scales.
 birds

In-Depth Comment

Comfort quotes E. Mayr, “Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin’s postulate of gradualism…and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phylogenetic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quiet abruptly in the fossil record.”

(Source: E. Mayr, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), pg. 138)

Outdated Source
Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Not surprising, the quote by Mayr is a quote mine. Continuing on, it reads, “During the synthesis it became clear that since new evolutionary departures seem to take place almost invariably in localized isolated populations, it is not surprising that the fossil record does not reflect these sequences.”

Ernst Mayr there is paraphrasing Steve Gould’s findings and he’s talking about species levels. In other words, the level at which punctuated equilibrium applies to single lineages of one species moving to the next as we talked about before. Mayr is not not talking about things like the origins of birds and feathers and whales and getting land creatures out of that. Ernst Mayr was not a paleontologist and did not familiarize himself with the date of the fossil record.

Question 9

Addressing transitional fossils. Does transitional fossils prove macroevolution as a scientific fact? Ray Comfort answers “No.”

Comfort then provides a quote from Luther D. Sutherland’s book Darwin’s Enigma. “Now, after over 120 years of the most extensive and painstaking geological exploration of every continent and ocean bottom, the picture is infinitely more vivid and complete than it was in 1859. Formations have been discovered containing hundreds of billions of fossils and our museums are filled with over 100-million fossils of 250,000 different species. The availability of this profusion of hard scientific data should permit objective investigators to determine if Darwin was on the right track.”

(Source: Luther D. Sunderland (Creationist), Darwin’s Enigma: Fossils and Other Problems, 4th edition, Master Books, 1988, p. 9 (Emphasis added by Comfort)

Ray Comfort claims that nothing has changed in 30 years.

Does not damage evolutionary theory
Darwin’s Enigma is a rather infamous creationist book piled with dishonesty, but several years later the author Sunderland changed his views.
Distortion of Science

Transitional fossils do prove macroevolution is a fact, but so does phylogeny, speciation, specie rings, and much more.

We have discovered many transional fossils that prove macroevolution. A decade ago, Kathleen Hunt, a zoologist with the University of Washington, produced a list of a few hundred of the more dramatic transitional species known so far, all of which definitely fit every criteria required of the most restrictive definition. Myriad transitional species have been, and still are being, discovered; so many in fact that lots of biologists and paleontologists now consider that list “innumerable” especially since the tally of definite transitionals keeps growing so fast! Several lineages are now virtually complete, including our own.

Apparently, Ray Comfort, A LOT has happened in thirty years.

In-Depth Comment

“Given that evolution, according to Darwin, was in a continual state of motion, with ongoing but slow and gradual change accruing over long periods of time, it follows logically that the fossil record should be rife with examples of transitional forms leading from the less to more evolved…But when the dust settled, and the fossils were assessed in terms of whether they validated Darwin’s evolutionary predictions, a clear picture of slow, gradual evolution, with smooth transitions and transformations from fossils of one period to another, was not forthcoming. Instead of filling the gaps in the fossil record with so-called missing links, most paleontologists found themselves facing a situation in which there were only gaps in the fossil record, with no evidence of transformational intermediates between documented fossil species.”

(Source: Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes and the Emergence of Species (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999), p. 89).

Quote Mine/Distorted message of author

Here is the full quote (with words omitted in bold)

“Given that evolution, according to Darwin, was in a continual state of motion, with ongoing but slow and gradual change accruing over long periods of time, it followed logically that the fossil record should be rife with examples of transitional forms leading from the less to the more evolved. Not only had Darwin put these thoughts into words but he had also illustrated them in a diagram that consisted of hypothesized ancestors giving rise over time to hypothesized lineages of descendant organisms. In various places in this diagram, Darwin indicated the extinctions of hypothetical lineages as well as the origins of a multiplicity of species from the same ancestor. In words and in illustration — the only illustration in On the Origin of Species — Darwin breathed new life into the discipline of paleontology, which was the only field of study that could provide the scientific world with an actual picture of his view of evolution.

Fueled in no small way by the role that paleontology could assume — reconstructing and also demonstrating the course of evolution — the world’s leading museums of natural history focused on fossil collecting. When these institutions were first founded, they were envisioned as the forums for displaying, in often overfilled and poorly labeled cabinets, unorganized geologic and biological collections of plain old specimens. Now, armed with the possibility of being able to exhibit not just an array of fossils but the drama of evolution itself, museums vied with one another to secure the best fossil localities and discover increasingly older representatives of the lineages of now-extinct animals. In the American West, fossil hunting took on the stereotype of the ruthless Old West. Fossil localities were kept secret and guarded by men with rifles. Armed guards also accompanied the trainloads of plaster-protected and crated fossils that often traveled by night in order to avoid detection. Sometimes, however, these attempts at secrecy did not work, and gangs from rival museums would successfully raid and loot the paleontological spoils of the competition.

But when the dust settled, and the fossils were assessed in terms of whether they validated Darwin’s evolutionary predictions, a clear picture of slow, gradual evolution, with smooth transitions and transformations from fossils of one period to another, was not forthcoming. Instead of filling in the gaps in the fossil record with so-called missing links, most paleontologists found themselves facing a situation in which there were only gaps in the fossil record, with no evidence of transformational evolutionary intermediates between documented fossil species. Without fossil intermediates to back up Darwinian predictions of how evolution works, the turn of the century saw [P. 90] both paleontology (an evolutionary discipline) and gradual change via natural selection (an evolutionary model) fall on hard times. Even the paleontologists’ special plea—that the gaps in the fossil record were the consequences of poor preservation, the loss of fossils through erosion or other destructive processes—did not work.

The egregious omission of context is evident from the sentence immediately following, but omitted from, the original quotation. The most natural interpretation of the quotation, as originally given, is that in the second sentence Schwartz was referring to the contemporary status of palaeontology. However, in the section of Sudden Origins from which the quotation was taken, Schwartz was giving a historical account of the fate of Darwin’s theory, and of palaeontological activities, in the years immediately following the publication of On the Origin of Species. It is clear from the missing context that in the last sentence of the cited quotation Schwartz was referring to the status of palaeontology towards the end of the 19th century.

Schwartz’s opinion about the state of palaeontology may be at the time he was writing (c. 1999, when his book was published) which may well be much the same as it is about its state towards the end of the 19th century. Nevertheless, the cited quotation provides no evidence whatsoever that this is the case, since, as already noted, Schwartz was there referring only to the situation as it stood at the earlier period.

As the complete version of the quotation shows, the omitted text indicated by the second ellipsis in the original version comprises three full sentences at the end of the paragraph where it starts, the entire following paragraph, and one sentence at the beginning of the next. If the proper context, as indicated above, had been otherwise provided, the omission of this text would not seem to me, by itself, to have substantially changed the meaning of the quoted text. Nevertheless, the quotation, as given, suggests a much closer connection between its first and second sentences than there actually is between them in Schwartz’s original text.

In the second sentence of the original quotation, the word “evolutionary” has been omitted from between “transformational” and “intermediates”. Presumably this was an inadvertent copying error, since it does not appear to favor any particular interpretation of the original text over any other.

Question 10

True or False question. Does the first law of thermodynamics state energy and matter cannot be created? Comfort correctly answers “True” but argues that this proves the the Bible true and the Big Bang Theory false, because Comfort claims the Big Bang Theory says everything came from nothing. Ray Comfort quotes Genesis 2:1 to argue that the “heavens and the earth were finished” and Genesis 2:2 that “God rested from his work of creation” – therefore, according to Ray Comfort, “our present universe prevent any possibility of matter springing out of nothing today.”

Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology

How does the Big Bang prove the Bible? The Bible says that the universe was created magically from nothing. The Big Bang does not say at all that the universe was created magically or from nothing. While some scientists may claim that the universe originated from nothing, they no not mean that all matter was created from nothing. To clarify, they say that space and matter was so small that it seemed almost irrelevant to include it in their equations, but they understand that there was always something. Dr. Sten Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for NASA, Education and Public Outreach program, 2001 spelled out what scientists mean when they say “nothing:”

“How can ‘nothing’ do anything at all, let alone create an entire universe? When physicists say ‘nothing’ they are being playful with the english language, because we often think of the vacuum as being ’empty’ or ‘nothing’ when in fact physicists know full well that the vacuum is far from empty. The primordial ‘state’ at the Big Bang was far from being the kind of ‘nothingness’ you might have in mind. We don’t have a full mathematical theory for describing this ‘state’ yet, but it was probably ‘multi- dimensional’, it was probably a superposition of many different ‘fields’, and these fields, or whatever they were, were undergoing ‘quantum fluctuations’. Space and time were not the things we know them to be today because our world is a lot colder than the way it started out. Nothingness was not nothing, but it was not anything like the kinds of ‘somethings’ we know about today. We have no words to describe it, and the ones we borrow (that are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary) are based on the wrong physical insight.”

In-Depth Comment

“First Law of thermodynamics: Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another. The First Law of Thermodynamics (Conservation) states that energy is always conserved; it cannot be created or destroyed. In essence, energy can be converted from one form into another.”

Not relevant to evolutionary theory or biology
The quote provided is correct, but Ray Comfort’s conclusion is not. Ray’s position, creationism, states God created everything. In the book of Genesis, God said “Let there be…” and it was. This is basically an incantation (i.e. MAGIC) that created everything out of thin air (nothing). It does not explain how God created anything, nor does Ray provide anything that is only the result of supernatural creation.

TOTALS FOR THIS SEGMENT (Q 1 – 10)

Fallacy Number of Fallacies
Quote Mining 12
Appeal to Authority 1
Outdated Source 11
Non-Academic Source 7
Not a qualified biologist or scientist 6
Not Relevant to Evolutionary theory or Biology 5
Not Damaging to Evolutionary theory 5
Distortion of Science 10
Total 57
There are a total of 28 quotes in this segment. Almost half of them are quote-mines

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