Field of Science

Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution III - evolution's assumptions

In the third video in the series of Dr. Jobe Martin's Increadible Creatures that (he thinks) Defy Evolution we get a lot more of "I don't see how evolution can explain that". Literally, that's what he says. Again. But, we also finally learn what "evolution's assumptions" are (it's in the bonus material, so perhaps I just missed it the first two times around). I'll let Dr. Jobe Martin speak first, and then get to the rebuttal.

#1 Spontaneous generation occured*: non-living things gave rise to living material.
"Why is this an assumption? Because they can't make it happen."

#2 Spontaneous generation occured* only once.
"The probability of 200 amino acids bonding together to become a simple protein is something like one to the 141st power. That's a minus 141st power, so we're not thinking in fractions. That would be a one with 141 zeros after it. And that's one of the reasons the evolutionists make this assumption, which then leads to the third assumption."

#3 Viruses, bacteria, plants & animals are all related.
To paraphrase: "In textbooks different (living) species are drawn as tips on a phylogenetic tree with lines that lead to the origin of a single cell. But there's nothing on the lines. Well, why is there nothing on those lines? Well, because those are the missing links, see. There's nothing there because there's nothing there. It's an assumption that there something there, when there's not."

#4 Invertebrates gave rise to verebrates*.
"We don't know that, because we can't make it happen."

#5 Fish gave rise to amphibia, the amphibia to reptiles and reptiles to birds & mammals.
"Is there any such thing as let's say a lukewarmblooded, semi-dense boned creature in between reptile and bird? No." Also, "leading evolutionary thinkers now are telling us that archaeopteryx is a pure bird."

"So, this whole idea of big bang, macroevolution is based on a whole series of pure assumptions. It is a faith system."

And those are the so-called assumptions that evolution supposedly rest upon, according to Dr. Jobe Martin.

He is, of course very wrong on several accounts.

First of all, belief that an event took place need not be an assumption of faith just because we cannot reproduce the event today. But, it is true that in science - where we look for natural explanations only - we started by guessing that life arose from non-living matter. Why? Well, because the only other option is that it was always there, and since we have found out that the Earth formed at some point, and there's no evidence of life before Earth, life must have come later. It's an inference: from what we understand of nature, and from the evidence available to us, the only sensible conclusion is that life came from non-life. But, having said that, scientists don't stop there. No, we cannot exactly reproduce abiogenesis in the lab. Yet. But people are working hard on it, and molecules have been shown to self-replicate (Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme).

Abiogenesis probably happened only once, yes. It was an unlikely event, and once it happened, that life would be eating other molecules, making the event even more unlikely to happen again. But, so what? It's not an important assumption that means anything. The third "assumption" that all life is related, is not based on that, but on homology. Cells in plants, fungi, protists, animals, archaea, and bacteria (the six kingdoms) are similar on many levels, and the most sensible inference is that they then have a common ancestor. However, Dr. Martin has it wrong that viruses are supposed to share an ancestor with the rest of us. Viruses aren't even cells.

Dr. Martin's claim that there are no transitional fossils is hogwash. It's a tired, boring, annoying claim that has been dealt with sooo many times before. How can anyone claim to know anything about evolution without any knowledge about any of those "missing links"? Answer: only someone either lying about their credentials or about the evidence.

Archaeopteryx is not a pure bird. It has many features in common with reptiles.

Dr. Martin holds that evolution is a faith system, and that his belief in creationism is based on evidence. The evidence that he has presented is that many creatures defy evolution, simple - literally - because he cannot see how they could have evolved. Again, I counter that that's because i) he doesn't know enough about evolution, ii) we don't know everything about evolution, and iii) he wants his faith-based belief (which is based on words in a book) to be true, and it conflicts with the scientific consensus (which is based on evidence).

Here's Tim Minchin on that Good Book. I ♥ Tim.

* As spelled in the video.

Update 6/11/2010:

If you've never seen the famous peanut butter creationist, then do have a go:

What kind of life did he expect, anyway? Animals large enough to spot with the eye? Animals tasting of something else than peanut butter? I've eaten my share of peanut butter, and while I have never found new life forms in there - indeed, any life forms - I trust there are bacteria in it, and I trust that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between common bacteria and new peanut butter life forms.


  1. Or, if abiogenesis happened more than once (or is happening right now!!! Squeee!!!), it either didn't "take", or it got out-competed and eaten.


  2. Pepe, thanks for that. I'll be visiting your blog on art and music when I have time for art and music (i.e., when I retire - which I'm not planning to ever do).

    Cicely, that does seem very likely. For example, if the abiogenetic peanut butter experiment ever works, most likely we'd be eating it before we knew (see video update in main post).

  3. Even if the peanut butter argument weren't naive and outdated in light of current thinking about abiogenesis, it blows me away how these idjuts completely ignore the entire question of scale.

    Let's pretend for the sake of argument that this guy's infantile conception of abiogenesis is correct, that all it takes is carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen exposed to a great deal of heat and light, and BAM! it spontaneously fuses into an organism. So? He is really comparing the heat and light generated by fluorescent lights in a supermarket to that produced by cataclysmic events in the Earth's early history?!?

    "Gravitationalists" tell us that objects fall because of an attractive force between two masses, and because the Earth is very massive, it causes objects to fall towards it. But wait a minute... fat people are also very massive. If gravitation were real, then every now and then, when a really fat person walks past you, you should find yourself rapidly accelerating towards them at a rate inversely proportional to the square of the distance between you and them. Despite this experiment being performed every day by the millions of obese Americans, we never observe fat people producing their own gravitational field.

    Obviously, gravity is a fairy tale.

  4. Evolution teaches that energy plus matter can occasionally create new life.

    Er, no.

    We'd be looking at abiogenesis even if lamarckism had been true.

    And please, tell that 'food engineer' (I feel a little ashamed to be doing my chemical engineering degree) to check the peanut butter to see if it contains any proteins or molecules (as in, even one or two such molecules, not in observable amounts) that aren't expected to be found in peanut butter.

  5. I have a degree in management and I find it immensely frustrating to read the non-stop nonsensical babble that comes in ever increasing dollops from proponents of ID and Creationism. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for scientists like you. But hell - you have to do this - we are counting on you!

  6. I enjoyed reading these blogs. The authors are both witty and intelligent. I usually don't read blogs because of the negativity. When is the last time you read a blog that was uplifting and positive? Are people afraid to compliment each other these days? Can we agree to disagree without going into a rage or think the other person is a moron, idiot or worse? I believe it takes faith to believe in evolution, looking at the mathematical probability alone. To me the theory of evolution violates laws of science. The one that can't be overlooked is reproducibility. Until this happens, the theory of evolution is just "cold fusion". Not to mention the lack of transitional species.

  7. Tom, there are plenty of transitional fossils.

    It does not take faith to believe in evolution if you know the evidence for it.

    The mathematical probability of what, exactly? Often one will hear creationists quote that the probability for a protein of a certain length to spontaneously form just the right way is ten to the minus 34th. But of course that's not the way evolutionary theory says it happens in the first place. So, hit me with your best shot.

  8. One of the most exciting things about Dr Martin is the fact that he was looking for the "missing links" believing they were findable. The author of this article and people commenting say, There are many transitional examples, yet where is one? Bjorn Ostman answering Torn, saying, It does not take faith to believe in evolution if you know the evidence for it. Good, however it does take faith to believe God created the heaven and earth until you get to know him personally, then it makes an immense amount of sense.

  9. Deeclair, that's very exciting for you that you know God personally. However, it isn't for anyone else. For the rest of us it means nothing at all. It's like me saying that Angelina Jolie has agreed to marry me, and that makes me very happy, but I can't show you any evidence that she agreed.

    You want transitional fossils? Here you go:


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