CORR: Reposted from April 21, 2006April 21, 2006 at 12:00 am | Posted in Journal of Anti-Science meetings | 3 Comments
I have this strange feeling of peace. A feeling I haven’t had in awhile. I feel good.
The meeting had a total of between 30-35 people in attendance at one time or another. Only 20 were remaining at the end.
Mr. Lehman started the meeting by showing a video starring Dr. David Menton, pictured above, that set the tone for the largest portion of the meeting. Dr. Menton calls himself a “creationist anatomist” and has strong ties with something known as “Answers in Genesis,” a group that is obviously out to inject a literal interpretations of the Bible into science. He has a PhD from Brown University.
The topic of the video was Lucy, a famous fossil of Australopithecus afarensis, an extinct hominid species, that was found by a team of anthropologists in Ethiopa, Africa in 1974. The video is called, and I love this title: “Lucy: She’s No Lady!” As expected, Lucy was also a major topic of the evening’s discussion.
First, a brief background.
Lucy’s fossil is a representative of a hominid species that existed around 3 million years ago. She’s apparently, from a scientific perspective, one of our ancestors. While small in brain size and stature, about 3′ 8″, the morphology of her hips, knees, and skull show she walked upright, and her molars and front teeth are more similar to modern humans than to great apes, such as Gorillas or Orangutans. Lucy was an important find, but she is not unique. She was the first of many Australopithecus afarensis fossils found in the same area.
In the video, Dr. Menton expressed a profound knowledge of the thoughts of anthropologists, almost omniscent. He implied that they created evidence rather than discovered it, because they didn’t know any other way to support it. He said that fossils were constructed and not discovered, and that they only proceeded to support it to promote their agenda. He used specific claims that anthropologists searched for a dating method that would make Lucy appear to be 3 million years old, among others. I wondered where he got this information.
Dr. Menton showed a painting of an Australopithecus afarensis holding a spear and looking into a field.
He made comments, in a tone revealing his displeasure, comically criticizing the artist for trying to fool us into thinking that Australopithecus afarensis is intelligent and appears to have something on his mind. That the artist is trying to fool us into thinking that Australopithecus afarensis is a human.
As a side-note, I’d like to mention that if you don’t think that there’s anything going on upstairs in any of the great apes, (like chimps, orangutans, or gorillas) I encourage you to go to the Sedgwick County Zoo and sit and observe them for yourself. Look at them honestly, and realize that there are many indications that Australopithecus afarensis were more intelligent than our remaining cousins.
Back to the misrepresentation, Dr. Menton continued with a criticism of a painting of Lucy. Here I must admit 2 things: 1. The following is not the painting from Dr. Menton’s video, I couldn’t find it. And I’m jealous of Dr. Menton because I admit that his picture of Lucy was more sexy. 2: I am of the philosophy that if you can’t find a sexy painting of a single female from a hominid species, then you must use a painting of her nursing. So here you go:
With his sexy picture of Lucy, Dr. Menton criticized what he felt the artist was trying to portray a human. He commented on her sexy legs, slender figure, and human genitalia. Dr. Menton’s video audience mixed between gasping and laughter at his criticism of the painting.
I must mention that during this video Dr. Menton only said one thing that was outside of the realm of a stand-up comedian or art critic. Oddly, it appeared to be in the form of scientific argument. It was that Lucy had locking wrists common in the great apes who do not walk upright. He said this one thing to prove that Lucy did not walk upright. While I do see locking wrists as indicative of knuckle-walking, I don’t see why locking wrists and bipedalism are mutually exclusive. Also, I don’t know whether or not Dr. Menton’s statement was accurate and Lucy’s morphology provides overwhelming evidence that she walked upright.
Here, Mr. Lehman made a transition from that video to a different one which main point was that scientists can not explain planet formation, therefore, in a wild conclusion, evolution is wrong. Its assumption is that with no designer/creator present, the sun could not form and that the planets forming in the same solar system would have the same composition. These unqualified assumptions ignore too many physical factors to have any scientific validity whatsoever. Thankfully this video was shown relatively briefly, as its content was extremely insulting and terrible. The graphics were decent though.
Then Mr. Lehman returned to the video with Dr. Menton. From there Menton becomes more scientific and less of an art critic, though his arguments were flawed and far less than impressive. Twice he made statements that implied that the parent species must die out in order for evolution to occur, which is not a requirement in scientifically accurate evolution.
As soon as this video ended I interrupted. I couldn’t let it continue any longer. I asked Mr. Lehman for information on Dr. Menton, “Is he an art critic and stand up comedian or is he some sort of scientist?”
Mr. Lehman mentioned Menton’s PhD and that he speaks to the top medical students in the country.
My reply: “Then why does he obviously fail to comprehend the basic concept that evolution does not require the parent species to die out? He doesn’t appear to understand any fundamental ideas behind what he is criticizing.”
Mr. Lehman tried to assure me that that’s not what he said, but others in the room seemed to agree with me, and the issue was left unsettled. However, I noticed 3 people leave at this time, a trend that would continue.
I then asked Mr. Lehman, “I’m also wondering how Dr. Menton seems to get the information of some sort of omnipresent force. He makes statements that seems like he’s witnessed conversations and read thoughts, and I don’t see how they can be true.”
Mr. Lehman said something like, “If anyone else made Dr. Menton’s statements they’d be just as true.”
My reply: “I agree. Because if I had said them I wouldn’t have been there either.”
I got no response, but I can understand. Dr. Moore-Jansen was in attendance, and not only that he brought a date in a suitcase. Here’s an unrestored version of what she looked like:
You see, Dr. Moore-Jansen is an anthropologist at Wichita State. Lucy is in very much his realm of science. His studies focus on primates.
If I were Dr. Moore-Jansen I would see the lies of the Menton video as a personal attack, and so he defended himself, pulling a skull from his suitcase. He was the expert in the room, but he had to fight a bit to speak.
Dr. Moore-Jansen seemed to try to be as brief as he could. He answered fully any questions thrown at him while he spoke. I felt he was respectful to those who endorsed this travesty of a video as he did his best in the limited time to explain its inaccuracies.
A woman in the row in front of Dr. Moore-Jansen said, “Please, I will take your class. I will listen to what you have to say then. I’m here to listen to them now.”
Dr. Moore-Jansen defended what he was doing, that what was being presented was what he does and he should have the right to address it. I interjected by saying, “The content of the video was scientifically inaccurate. This is a scientific discussion. We deserve better than that. This is Dr. Moore-Jansen’s area and he can help us.”
There Mr. Lehman said he was going to move into his presentation, Dr. Moore-Jansen said, “This is what I do. You have to give me a chance to address the lies of the video.”
I think it was Dr. Van Stipdonk who seconded that, and I thirded it (if it was necessary). So, it was then decided that Dr. Moore-Jansen would have some time to address after Mr. Lehman’s presentation.
The presentation was about 100 reasons why evolution is not possible. We didn’t get through all of them. They were poetic musings and odd math that attempted to show how improbable evolution is to occur “by chance.” The only one I remember is that the calculations it would take for the human eye to operate for 0.01 of a second is something like hundreds of differential equations that computers can not compute, thus evolution is not possible.
I waited until the end and said, “First of all, I don’t understand how the assumption is made or who is making it. Second of all, it appears to me that the statement about the human eye seems to be a comment about the limitations of computing and not about the probability of evolution. Who are making these assumptions? I’ve sat here for 2 and a half hours wondering where these assumptions come from.”
The answer was poetic math and nonsensical, so I won’t trouble you with it.
So I continued: “Whoever said that anything about planet formation has anything to do with evolution?”
Mr. Lehman said that these show the improbability that evolution could occur by chance and went on to something to the effect that those who have a naturalistic worldview are atheists and evolutionists and none of their science works or can explain these things.
Dr. Van Stipdonk backed me up here, producing two recent and scientifically accepted papers about the formation of the moon. There was discussion but I’m not sure Mr. Lehman acknowledged the validity of those papers to the scientific community.
For a moment here it seemed like Dr. Van Stipdonk and I were in a relay of saying, “Why is it the job of an evolutionary biologist to explain astronomy or cosmology?”
Nothing came of it.
Then I tried to shut up. I wanted Dr. Moore-Jansen to speak, and he did. I thought he did an amazing job. Many people left during it, including the woman in the row in front of him. He had a chance, although brief, to defend himself, and I’m pleased that the other members of CORR allowed him the opportunity.
At this point, at the end, Dr. Ackerman somehow was set up to speak. He gave a personal story that included, “The existence of God causes a problem, and it’s this problem of accountability. If there’s a God you will be held accountable.”
So, at the end I asked, “Are you expecting to be held accountable for endorsing misrepresentations and lies about science?”
He asked, “What lies or misrepresentations?”
I said, “We’ve been addressing them and these meetings are so saturated with lies and misrepresentations of science I don’t see how anyone honest can endorse them.”
He asked for me to give him something specific and we could address it and get to the bottom of it.
I said, “All of these presentations are so vulgarly scientifically inaccurate to address them you’d win by time limitations alone.”
Things got a little disorganized, but Dr. Ackerman mentioned we need to stop having “shotgun sprays.” I guess that means we’ll focus on one thing, one argument, at future meetings. I’ll give him credit for that. It will give them a better shot at presenting a valid argument, and either way, 0/1 looks better than 0/100. Hopefully these meetings do not descend into valid arguments against bull headed equivocation, but you never know.
That was the end of the meeting. I talked for awhile to a very nice woman who was a creationist. She appeared to have an open mind and I enjoyed speaking with her and another member of CORR who I don’t know the name of.
I’d like to thank the support for science that was present. I know it’s hard to sit through, but your presence was both appreciated and is important.
Thank you for sending creationists/ID supporters my way.