Field of Science

My own pet creationist

Alternative blog-post titles:
  • Babu strikes again
  • Cretinist science writer
  • The truth about science in Russia
As an evolutionary biologist with a side-interest in the debate between evolutionists and creationists, I have my own little pet creationist whom I have read a bunch of articles by, and whom I have corresponded with on several occasions.

Babu Ranganathan. Pronounced Ranga-nathan. He is a conservative Christian and a reformed Baptist. At the age of fourteen, Jesus himself entered Babu's heart and converted him from the heathen hindu that he was. He has a B.A. in Bible and Biology (sic) from that über-christian college (can you guess it?) Bob Jones University. You can read his bio here if you scroll to the bottom.

Today he has yet another of his amazingly asinine pieces of pseudo-science mumbo jumbo in Pravda, of all places (Pravda means 'truth' in Russian, lest you forget).

In it, he argues that there really are no transitional fossils. Instead there are fully formed species that scientists interpret as evidence of common ancestry, whereas creationists see them as evidence of common functions used to solve similar problems of design, and neither position can be scientifically proved. It's a familiar outline to those who have read anything by young-earth creationists before.

He starts be defining a true transitional form as a fossil that has two structures that have a similar function, but of which neither is complete nor functional. This is of course hilariously wrong already: No sane person would require a transitional form to lose the use of one function while evolving the other, which would then only be working once the second is fully formed. We are asked to imagine a fish with part fins and part legs, neither of them being of any benefit to the fish, just sitting there ready to be snapped up by a predator until its offspring's offspring's offspring finally evolved proper legs and the ability to walk. I trust it is clear to anyone with half a brain how preposterous this definition is. Additionally, since fully formed isn't defined, this whole definition doesn't work in any way whatsoever.

Babu should be forgiven for not knowing much about science. Bible is his major, and biology is his minor. But he really should not be forgiven for spreading his cretin gibberish when he makes no effort to learn about evolution. I once emailed him in regard to one of his articles about mutation and natural selection (the gist of it being that mutations just aren't the source of variation that natural selection acts on, because... well they just aren't). This was his reply:
Dear Bjorn,

Please review below some prominent quotations from scientists. These quotations are found in Dr. Walt Brown's site: . I urge you to look through that website's table of contents. There's much interesting information.

The quotes were appended for my perusal, and I looked at a few and wrote back.
They may be prominent quotations from scientists, but not many of them are quotations from prominent scientists. Arthur Koestler, for instance. I mean, why the hell are you quoting him at all? He knew nothing of biology! Also, many of your quotes are from long, long time ago. We did learn a whole lot since then, and you can hardly blame Crow and Nilsson for their views considering they were expressed 50 years ago.

However, your list is long, and I have only been able to look into a few. I do have real science research to do also, you know. I'd like to tell you more about it, but instead I promise to let you know as soon as something is published about it.

I wonder if you know about gene duplication? One idea here, among others, is that when a gene is duplicated, there are two copies of the same gene, and one of them is then free to mutate all it can, while the other one is constrained by selection to keep producing the essential protein. Did you hear about this at all?

Lastly, I must apologize for my tone of voice in some of these emails to you. I am normally a very forgiving and easygoing person, but the truth is I accuse you of either purposefully flat out distorting the truth in the media, or really not being very intelligent while pretending to know something about science. So call me arrogant if you will, but I do in fact look down on people being guilty of either of these two sins.

Until next time,
He was gracious enough to respond with much more calm than I was able to muster:
I have remotely heard of what you are saying. I have not done enough research on it. But, considering that DNA and genetic information cannot come into existence by chance such gene duplication was most probably designed by the Maker as a back-up precisely because mutations over time may destroy one of the sets of genes.In any case, this is no help for your argument, because how did evolution come about when such a complex mechanism as gene duplication was still supposedly evolving. DNA has mechanisms for repairing mutations. If these mechanisms were still evolving, and by chance at that, how could DNA have come into being.

DNA is language. You would not argue that errors in a printing press won't bring about a book written by Skaespeare, but you have no problem with DNA coming into existence by chance. Duplicate genes just add to your problem. There are just more mechanisms for you to explain by chance origin.

One of Skaespeare's books is enough a problem to explain by errors in a printing press, much less two of them! Two sets or duplicates of the same book and you're saying one of the books alone can be subject to unlimited mutations (random changes) and will in time evolve into a totally different book. Not rational. When will this other book express itself? If it does it won't have much to say!

At this point I gave up because I realized which of the two accusations that I made to his face was the correct one. See if you can figure it out for yourself, too.

In Russia they get Babu, while in Pakistan they get Tiktaalik, a fish with legs.

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