Monday, June 15, 2009

Debate: Michael Shermer vs. Eric Hovind

Dr. Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic Magazine, engaged in a radio debate on Creationism vs. Evolution against Eric Hovind, son and heir apparent of "Dr. Dino" Kent Hovind. The full podcast can be heard here, or you can listen to a sample below:

Not much new material here, for those who are interested in the subject. Shermer gives a good account for his support for evolutionary science, although he allows himself to get dragged down rabbit trails by Hovind too often. Of course, that's easy to do, because Hovind is like his father, quick to insert a half-dozen canards and outright falsehoods regarding Creationism, Evolution, Biblical authority and textual criticism in one go. If you thought Piltdown Man, and Julius Caesar can't be combined in a single sentence, then you haven't hear a Hovind speak.

When the show hosts or callers asked questions of Hovind, most often his answer was to invite the questioner to buy or obtain one of his DVDs, something even the sympathetic show hosts mentioned as a point against Hovind.

One of the callers asked Shermer a question that's been asked and answered countless times: Why aren't any transitional species found in the fossil record but always fully formed? Shermer answered the question adequately, stating that many, many fossils have been found of transitional species, but the question likely stems from a problem of definition. How does the questioner define "transitional species"? Ray Comfort defines it as two existing (and incompatible) species somehow mashed together, like a duck with a dog's head.

Of course, no evolution scientist has ever postulated such a species, living or dead. This is a cartoon version of Evolution. It would be like debunking gravitational theory by watching cartoons of the Road Runner and Wil E. Coyote.

Every species is a transitional species, just like every ring of metal, when connected to others in a line, becomes a "link" in a chain. Some transitional species are more apparent than others. Certain crickets can differentiate from each other by as little as the songs they employ to find mates, yet when they are fossilized they appear identical. Other species are clearly intermediates between different types of species, such as the feathers and other bird-like characteristics on the lizard Archaeopteryx.

As for the definition of the term, "fully formed," I suspect the Creationist is insisting on being shown birds with only one wing, or horses with three legs and one stump. Again, the theory of evolution doesn't postulate that such species exist, except as mutations within established species. Such errors of gene copying typically don't live long enough to reproduce due to their enormous disadvantage.

Thus, the Creationist has protected herself by insisting on evidence that does not and can not exist, ensuring she will never have to change her mind, or even worse, admit that they were wrong once. And yet they believe in Creationism on even scantier evidence, namely, the writings of an ancient book written in a pre-scientific society.

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