Recap of June 1st CORR MeetingJune 2, 2006 at 6:12 am | Posted in Journal of Anti-Science meetings | 19 Comments
Unfortunately, Dr. Lucas did not join us via closed-circuit television (CCTV) as planned. Mr. Lehman, the unofficial leader of CORR and main presenter, said that they hadn’t worked out how Dr. Lucas could control his own slides. They were so far as to get it to where Dr. Lucas could hear and see the crowd and the crowd could see and hear him. Hopefully, Dr. Lucas will join us when the group meets again in two weeks.
As an important note, there is an overall plan for CORR to have many people, like Dr. David Menton and others like him, present to the group through this set up. Perhaps, this will provide an interesting future.
Now, a recap of the meeting:
The meeting was small. There were only 13 people at the meeting total, and the 2 who were new each left before the meeting was over.
CORR went with its back up plan, a Lehman presentation. He planned for more than what was done, but only ended up showing 2 videos. The first one was brief, only about 8 minutes. It was a journey through the universe, starting from Earth. It was well made, but it was presented as a an argument against “evolutionist” science at this meeting. However no argument was expressed in the part of the video shown. In the words of Zack, who accompanied Dr. Van Stipdonk, who did attend, the point of the video was, “The universe is big – wow.” The second video didn’t provide an argument that was any clearer. It was the Dr. David Menton video, “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” In this video, which was shown for greater than 45 minutes, Dr. Menton focused on human reproduction.
All seemed well and good, except for Dr. Menton’s asides. For example, “Evolutionists can not explain amniotic fluid.” He said many things like this, including many statements like, “Evolutionists can not explain how this can happen by chance.”
A large focus of the video was made about the similarities between embryos of different organisms, including a misinterpretation of gill folds, and a misrepresentation of images found in many biology textbooks. Many resources were cited, but none more recent than 1963. Here it degraded into letting Dr. Spock speak as the sole authority on evolutionary biology. One of the quotes used is this, from Spock’s book Baby and Child Care (1946):
“Each child as he develops is retracing the whole history of mankind, physically and spiritually, step by step. A baby starts off in the womb as a single tiny cell, just the way the first living thing appeared in the ocean. Weeks later, as he lies in the amniotic fluid of the womb, he has gills like a fish…”
This Ernst Haeckel drawing (1874) was shown prevalently in the video, along with many others that can appear to have the same theme.
This is where a large portion of misrepresentation of textbook science was done in this video. Haeckel proposed a since discredited theory in 1866, called biogenetic law, which boils down to the idea that an organism’s evolutionary history repeats itself as it develops as an embryo. In very simple terms, birds evolved from reptiles that evolved from fish, so the embryo of a bird will transform from fish, to reptile, to, finally, a bird as it develops before birth.
The misrepresentation made by the video was that they used Spock’s quotes and drawings in textbooks like the one below to claim that Haeckel’s theory is accepted science today. It is not. Science is about progress and is composed of models, when Haeckel’s theory was falsified by observation of embryo development it no longer was accepted science.
Pictures like these do exist in current biology textbooks, and when these other pictures were shown in the Menton video another misrepresentation was delivered. These diagrams do not show the development of each organism left to right (as Menton showed), but the development of each organism is shown in its own column. These diagrams are not meant to support Haeckel’s theory. They are meant to show the similarities between embryos during the early stages of development and how they progress in different organisms.
Menton also said in the video that science says that in the womb, human babies use gills to breathe in amniotic fluid. This is also not accepted science. It is true that features in the neck of a human embryo are called gill folds, but simply because they resemble the gills of a fish, not that embryos use them to breathe in amniotic fluid.
After the video, one of the new people, a middle aged man who fell asleep twice during the video, left immediately when it was turned off. Mr. Lehman, apparently sensing the fatigue the video caused in those who remained, asked if he should present something else, and I said, “No.”
Then I said, “But I’m curious. Was a scientific argument presented in this video? It seems as though Menton just explained things and simply said, isn’t that amazing, too amazing for evolution to explain?”
Lehman said something about that he was making a point about the complexity being profound, and points were made in the video about the silly creationism/intelligent design mantra of “irreducible complexity.”
So then I said, “Well, he adds comments for things he thinks are weird or amazing and says evolutionists can’t explain this or that. And that evolutionists can’t explain how such a thing would happen by chance. Evolution does not claim things happen by chance, and nobody who understands evolution would claim otherwise. He shows complete ignorance about the theory of evolution by doing so. Why am I supposed to believe that he knows what he’s talking about evolution’s perspective on amniotic fluid when he doesn’t even understand the basics?”
He asked me to explain.
I said, “Well, random mutations are subject to physical forces, and since we focus on natural selection, the individual organism is then subject to the conditions of its local environments. It’s not chance, it’s the situation and many factors are involved.”
He didn’t get it. Dr. Van Stipdonk backed me up on this point. Then Dr. Van Stipdonk and I then kept making statements about the misrepresentations of the video and everyone would be best served by understanding the theory before criticizing it. Eventually Mr. Lehman appeared angry and suggested we stop the meeting, although the crowd kept talking to each other and Mr. Lehman continued participating as he packed to leave.
From there Dr. Van Stipdonk explained the situation with Haeckl as another misrepresentation of the video. I didn’t know anything about Haeckl at the time, but I backed him up about how those diagrams are meant to be read and what they’re aiming at, because I did know that.
From there the discussion went to this concept of perfect design. Dr. Van Stipdonk argued that many of the designs concerning the reproductive system mentioned were poor designs. Mr. Lehman said, “Well, shouldn’t evolution have made it perfect?” And in a chorus, Dr. Van Stipdonk and I said, “It just has to work well enough.”
Then the discussion got philosophical and theological which I do not participate in, I’m there simply for the science.
Not much progress was made at this meeting, because there wasn’t room for any.