It’s International Celebrate Human Evolution and Ignore Young-Earth Creationist Nonsense Day!

Happy "You Got Dug Out of The Dirt Millions of Years After You Died on This Day" Day, Lucy!

Google has a cool Doodle out today, commemorating the discovery of “Lucy,” the partial specimen of Australopithecus afarensis found by the American paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and his colleagues 41 years ago.

Here’s the GIF:

41st-anniversary-of-the-discovery-of-lucy-5736109501841408-hp2x

On Facebook, I predicted last night that young-earth creation proponents would be lighting up their blogs this morning with their usual “It’s just an ape” nonsense, and of course, I was right, but I’m not going to link to any of them because I care about you and value your sanity.

Instead, I’ll give you a taste of exactly the kind of deceit and misinformation you will find on those blogs today, should you venture out to look for it. This is a 2007 article from the esteemed outfit Creation Ministries International, talking about a then-new study on the Lucy specimen.

A reader sent me a link to that article this morning and asked me to respond. The thing is basically just one, incredibly long, sustained fallacy. I mean, in that sense, it’s almost a thing of beauty. It would be impressive, you know, if it weren’t a horrifically misguided exercise in un-logic that does nothing but muddle the gospel, fuel culture war and spread disunity in the church.

I’ll just do one excerpt here, but feel free to click over if you wish:

Perhaps the most famous icon of human evolution in modern times may now have to be quietly discarded. For over the last thirty years, the supposedly 3.2 million year old Australopithecus afarensis specimen known as ‘Lucy’ has been boldly proclaimed as the ancestor of all humanity in magazines, television shows, books, newspapers, and museums. However, Tel Aviv University anthropologists have published a study casting serious doubt on Lucy’s role as mankind’s ape ancestor. Based on a comparative analysis of jaw bones in living and extinct primates, researchers concluded that Lucy and members of her kind should be ‘placed as the beginning of the branch that evolved in parallel to ours.’ In other words, by evolutionary reasoning, Lucy should no longer be considered to be our direct ancestor. Lucy’s demise falsifies thirty-three years of evolutionary hyperbole and propaganda.

Allow me to unpack this a bit.

As BioLogos’ Jim Stump so brilliantly explains in this post, finding a “direct ancestor” in the fossil record is never a sure bet. It’d be exactly like me trying to find one of my direct ancestors in a human cemetery: It’s very unlikely that I would find one, considering how many people have lived and died.

I might find some people who are more closely related to my actual direct ancestors than others, but ultimately, they would represent different lineages than my own.

This is exactly what the Lucy thing is all about. A. afarensis (Lucy’s species) may not be our direct ancestor, but there has never been any doubt in the scientific community that this species was closely related to the species that is our direct ancestor. We’re essentially talking about the difference between a great-great-great-(about a million times)-granduncle (or in this case, aunt) as opposed to a great-great-(etc.)-grandparent.

So what, right? So, Lucy is very, very closely related to our direct ancestor, rather than actually being our direct ancestor. THAT’s what CMI thinks equates to “Lucy’s demise,” and a “falsification” of evolution? Are you kidding me? It’s completely absurd. They should be ashamed of producing such misleading nonsense and false propaganda in the name of Christ.

That’s the kind of stuff “ministries” like CMI, Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research will spend their morning doing, and the worst part is the whole time they’ll be pretending they’re serving Jesus. And who knows — they may even really believe that’s what they’re doing, too.

Instead of wasting your time with that, I propose something entirely different. You see, it’s also the 156th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” by the way. So have a banana today (and make it good, in honor of our ancestry. You earned it. After all — 3.2 million years of evolution doesn’t happen every day.

Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • ashleyhr

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/google-doodle/12013826/Who-is-Lucy-the-Australopithecus.html

    But outraged science deniers at CMI are deploying their sacred lies that ‘Lucy’ was a ‘knuckle-walker’ to their adoring fans once again lest they might investigate further:
    https://www.facebook.com/creationministries
    “Google is promoting the 41st anniversary of the discovery of the supposed missing link ‘Lucy’ today. However, if ‘Lucy’ really is our ancestor who walked upright, why does her wrist anatomy suggest she walked on all fours? It just does not add up!
    http://creation.com/creation-videos?fileID=cNV6XY6SrJg

  • ashleyhr

    Oh – I see you didn’t want to link to anyone of them …

  • ashleyhr

    But talking of CMI (I don’t know the date of that ‘Lucy’ related video they are linking to today), they have a poisonous new website article against an article by Jim Stump (which their adoring fans are lapping up underneath and also on Facebook):

    http://creation.com/response-jim-stump-theistic-evolution

    • CMI really is the worst of the three main YEC outfits. They’re probably still bitter about being the ugly stepchild that Ken Ham branched off from, beat the lawsuit they filed against him and then became more well known and successful than them.

      • Or they could just be terrible for other reasons. Who knows.

      • ashleyhr

        I see that the allegedly non-political Ken Ham is using a Google Doodle about ‘Lucy’ to bash Obama once again today. It’s not the first time Ham has tried to appeal to extremist Republican supporters (I’m in the UK so I could never support the Democrats electorally).

        • Headless Unicorn Guy

          “Using Google Doodle about Lucy to bash Obama”?

          Is that yet another way of indirectly playing The Race Card?

      • Or the raped bastard son; I had just learned about CMI on my 38th Birthday as I discovered your site and Old Earth Ministries. In 2014 I had examined the King James Only Movement as they tend to see the Genesis narrative as literal being an evolutionist (I had quietly acknowledged this in my church years as the pastor and congregation claimed the earth was 6000 years old. When I studied philosophy I had began to see myself as a critic of religion as being a Christian who didn’t use the King James Bible to quote back every other sentence when I spoke. I used to pass around chick tracts when I was 18 but when I saw Big Daddy (the Kent Hovind influenced tract, part of me was saying, “this is bullshit and they really want to bring this into public schools” as I wrote my first science fiction story when I was 27 I brought up the evolution-creationism debate without realizing I did and I became critical of young earth creation. When I reaffirmed my faith in God, evolution became a part of it as I want to bring evolution into Christian high schools.

    • ashleyhr

      In an email from Biologos I see that Stump replied as follows:

      “I suppose I should be flattered at some level that creation.com wrote about me. Evidently they thought what I said merited a response. I’m afraid I don’t feel the same way about what they have written (besides this one comment). When they claim to put the “last nails in the coffin” of the contemporary understanding of genetics, they have removed themselves so far from the realm of relevance that there is no point in responding. They have constructed an alternate universe where facts can be waived away with a sneer. I have no doubt of their earnestness, but when the quest for truth leads to vilification that is justified by Scripture, something has gotten off the rails. The amount of hate mail the post generated for our BioLogos account set a new record–including one person who creatively added up the ascii character values of the letters in my name to suggest that I might be the anti-Christ. You can’t expect me to take these people seriously. It is a sad commentary on our society and the church that anyone does.”

      • A great response from Jim. Thanks for sharing, Ashley.

    • There is a point in that article that I think is worthy of discussion, and it crops up under the “sawing off the branch” subheading – the question of why one would affirm theistic evolution when their idea of evolution requires no deity.

      I’ve thought about that, too. I mean, I don’t refer to myself as a theistic hydrologist because my view of the water cycle requires no direct, supernatural divine intervention. Yet, I can make a statement like, “God sends the rain,” by which I mean that these naturalistic forces have behind them a God who planned, originated, and sustains them.

      So, ultimately, I think that point fails as a critique, but it’s worthy of consideration from a self-definition standpoint. Maybe “theistic evolution” isn’t a good designator.

      • I think “theistic evolution” is a clunky and extremely inaccurate term, but I use it when I must because it’s the only way I can succinctly define my position so people have some idea where I’m coming from. BioLogos prefers “evolutionary creationism,” which I like more, but its even clunkier and far less well-known.

        Your point about “theistic hydrology” is well made and I have argued along similar lines. Ultimately, I don’t think we need a separate term. The fact that one exists is fallacious from the start, implyig evolution is something different than any other well-established theory in science, and it’s not.

    • I also liked the bit at the end where the author justifies being “mean” by quoting another creationist who “keeps the charge” of Isaiah 58:1. Yes, God’s instruction to Isaiah to charge Israel with her failure to care for the poor while observing religious rites is -obviously- a charge to creationist blog writers to go after their opponents.

      Oh, those vaunted creationist hermeneutics – sticking to the plain reading of Scripture.

      • Their reading of scripture is totally consistent: every verse is about the young-earth creationists who are reading the text, and it means whatever they say it means.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Here’s the GIF:

    Yet another variant on the famous Time/Life “March of Evolution” graphic.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    You see, it’s also the 156th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species,” by the way. So have a banana today!

    Preferably not the same way as Ray Comfort….

    • LOL. Yeah, but there are very few things I would suggest doing the same way as Banana Ray.

  • ashleyhr
    • Meh. It’s not worse than his usual efforts.

    • David J

      Apparently there is only going to be one more Risner piece about Tyler.

      In his second to last piece, he claims that the Book of Nature is hard to read. What kind of evidence does he use to back up this this claim? The existence of tobacco company ads in the early 20th century that talked about how many doctors preferred their respective brand of cigarettes.

      His claim that the Bible is straightforward and unambiguous is incompatible with his belief that the Bible is without contradiction or other error.

      • Just one more, huh? That’s weird. He still hasn’t started on the article be claimed be was going to respond to at the beginning. Maybe he got distracted by a squirrel or something and forgot.

        • David J

          I think I was wrong about the one posted today being the last one. It was only the last of the 5 part mini-series within the larger series, which is 20 parts so far, and still hasn’t hasn’t proceeded past your introduction.

          And again he claims you are obsessed with Ken Ham.

          • Well that’s a relief. I was afraid I would have to find a new stalker, and that market is pretty tapped out nowadays.

          • David J

            Wow, this paragraph from his latest is a doozy:

            So is the point here that incest is okay? Of course not. It seems like Tyler wants us to think that’s what the Biblical teaching is, but it clearly is not as is indicated by the above Levitical text. But prior to the Law being given, not only was incest excused, it was necessary. Tyler is trying to use this Law and the numerous instances where we find this act in Scripture prior to the delivery of the Law as a means to discredit the Bible. He’s also then, towards the end of his blog post, employing the “what if” fallacy to try to poke holes in this clear teaching. In fact, he’s trying to make a case for incest being okay. That seems ironic, doesn’t it? This almost seems like a familiar phrase we find in Genesis 3:1: “Did God really say…”

            I need to stop reading stuff on that site, but it can be so entertainingly bad.

          • For everyone’s sake, this guy should really avoid trying to find irony in the work of other people. With his stunningly dense lack of self-awareness, he risks creating some kind of doomsday scenario of ironic super-explosions that could threaten the whole planet.

            But yeah, I know what you mean. Sometimes, it’s so bad you just…can’t…look…away…

  • Chris Mason

    This reminds me of something that you pointed out in your article “The Top 10 Signs That You Don’t Understand Evolution At All.” Creationists like to use the Piltdown Man as evidence that evolution-believing scientists can’t be trusted, failing to realize the fact that hoaxes like that were exposed by other evolution-believing scientists, not creationists. It’s the same thing here. Scientists realized that Lucy wasn’t our direct ancestor, not creationists (and if they try to say “Well, we were saying that all along,” my response is “Shouting ‘False’ at every opportunity that you get doesn’t score you any points just because you managed to find one ‘example’ out of a million tries”).

    • Australopithecus is still far more closely related to us than any extant ape. I think YECs still need to explain why God felt the compulsion to create so many “non-human apes” that looked and acted an awful lot like humans.

    • David J

      Creationists like to use the Piltdown Man as evidence that evolution-believing scientists can’t be trusted, failing to realize the fact that hoaxes like that were exposed by other evolution-believing scientists, not creationists.

      It’s part of their mental narrative that evolutionists will jump from theory to theory as each is eventually discredited. The evolutionists are desperately trying to find any evidence that people came from apes. (when, of course, we don’t need any fossils to be able to show humans and other apes share a common ancestor). Whether it is hoax fossils, or whether a study shows that some fossils didn’t belong to a direct ancestor, it doesn’t matter to them.

      Another example of this relates to the age of the earth. And in this case, creationists don’t even have anything to hang their claims on. I frequently see comments from YECs (including at least one of the Worldview Wrestlers) about how scientists are frequently adding time to how old they say the earth is. Meanwhile, in the real world, scientists have had the pretty much the same estimate for the age of the earth for well over 50 years… in fact, the estimated age has decreased by about a quarter of a percent since 1956.

  • Belac

    I don’t know if you’ve ever had this question asked before, but…did neanderthals, homo erectus and even australopithecines have what we would define as a “soul,” and if so, could we even tell?

    • What would you define as a soul?

      • Belac

        Somewhere between identity, abstract thought, and/or our intangible spiritual nature. I’d love to hear your take on the soul. I’m always eager to expand my knowledge in BioLogos.

        • I think the Bible is not that clear as to what a soul is, but I’d largely agree with your comment. I think that when the Bible talks about us being made in the image of God, our souls — not our bodies or physical form — is what it is talking about. But, as to exactly what that means and entails, I think it’s a very open question, based on scripture and reason and experience.

  • Seth

    In the latest AiG newsletter they had a sidebar on their Lucy display. Lucy is modeled as a knuckle walking chimpanzee and the accompanying text is full of their typical whoppers. But then I dug further and they have an article responding to someone picking apart their Lucy display. This was far more sophisticated, and unless someone had relevant experience in the field, it would take quite a few hours looking at primary sources to counter.

    • Belac

      You should see the articles they have on Homo Naledi, they’re a doozy.

      • Seth

        Turns out the guy they were trying to discredit took the time to do an in depth response. http://www.evoanth.net/2012/10/29/answers-in-genesis-vs-evoanth-1/

        • Belac

          Not to mention poitning out their inability to agree on an answer.

          I mean good Lordy, these are weird.

          • Belac

            I meant pointing, sorry

        • I’ve seen that series before. He did a really good job cutting through the AiG bullcrap and exposing the vacuity of their arguments.

          • AiG are always giving sunday school answers to scientific and philosophical questions — it bothers them that Christians are acknowledging the much older earth and willing to learn about the science of evolution. I faced off with one of the members of Creation Today in an e-mail exchange as my responses were explicit as I said some of the seven words you can’t repeat on television. I did let a few f-bombs fly as well as the vulgar slang for fecal matter as I am guessing Paul Taylor has feces for brains. Young Earth Creationists have to result to witness wear and holy hardware to not question Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Ray Comfort, Eric Hovind and Kirk Cameron (I think Kirk can be reached and show him where science is compatible with Christianity if he doesn’t do biblical literallism as my old churches all practiced this. I pissed off the pastor’s wife when I told her I was going to enroll in Philosophy at College of DuPage.) I’ve seen the sunday school answer often from younger Christians when I would ask, “What is the nature of evil?” They both would say “Satan” and as I would explain “no take God and Satan out of the question then answer it.” I pissed off a lot of pastors with this question as they call it a science question.

  • I had asked a King James Onlyist if they drank their own piss and ate their own dung (paraphrase the latter part and you have one of the seven dirty words you can’t say on television.) Fornicate becomes the f-bomb. You have this website too who follows “Dr.” Kent Hovind’s teachings of humans and dinosaurs co-existing as I used Carnosaur to show what that really looks like. The Young Earth Creationists respond to profanity like a vampire with holy water as I am from the thrash and Industrial metal scenes I remember being handed the Big Daddy Tract as Jack T. Chick and Kent Hovind practice cartoon theology. I had debated with Paul Tayler of Just Six Days asking him, “How do you explain the land bridge, how do you explain the ice age with the young earth argument. Avoid using Christianese terms as I used to chew Christians up and spit them out when I was a hardcore Atheist.” This is that website where their logic is beyond twisted. http://www.creationliberty.com