Monday, November 08, 2004

Ham Weighs In

Somehow you just knew that this new fossil find was actually evidence for creationism, right? Here's uber-creationist Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, weighing in, as reported by Agape Press:

Answers in Genesis founder Dr. Ken Ham says he is always amazed by the reactions of evolutionists whenever a new, so-called “humanoid” bone is found. Inevitably, he says, the evolution proponents say with the finding of a new fossil that creationists have lost their age-old argument with Darwinists.

We ought to point out that we are not talking about a single bone, but several, impressively complete, skeletons.

But Ham says this is not so. “The interesting thing is that, really, from a creationist perspective, we have no trouble at all explaining variation within human kind like this,” he explains. “I like to help people understand that by saying, 'Look -- eight people got off Noah's ark, and as they increased in number, and then you have the Tower of Babel, and you split up the human gene pool.'”

When this happens, the science expert continues, the result is “different combinations of genes moving in different directions. You can get certain features in a particular group that might be unique to that particular group.” Thus, he concludes, are the so-called “evolutionary” differences in the features of human skeletons explained.

We really must begin by snickering at the description of Ken Ham as a “science expert”. Aside from the fact that Ham's writings on evolution are notoriously filled with errors, we should point out that anyone with genuine scientific credentials would not describe himself with a term as juvenile as “science expert”.

Now that we are done snickering, let's consider the argument Ham is making here. He seems to be saying that the variations observed in the known hominid fossils are explained as the normal sort of genetic variation we find within any, er, kind. As Ham tells it, we are all ultimately descended from the survivors of Noah's flood. Local variations in each of these lines accumulated to the point that they appear as diffrent species in the fossil record.

This is a classic example of a professional creationist tossing out science jargon to impress his followers while avoiding the real question. The numerous hominid fossils known to date show a clear progression through time from those with small brains and non-erect gait through increasingly more human-like forms. From the evolutionary standpoint not a single one, including H. floresiensis, is out of place (in the sense that an erectus fossil appearing before the oldest Australopithecines would be out of place). The variations that we find in the fossils are far too great to be dismissed as trivial genetic variations accruing in the course of a few thouand years, and the sequence they form is too suggestive to be ignored.

There is also the fact that every known hominid except modern humans are currently extinct (as far as anyone knows). If the hominid fossil record only records trivial variations in the great human family, why do we not find the same variations in modern humans?

The known hominid fossils strongly suggest evolution. Ham knows this. That is why the best counter-argument he can offer is almost incoherent.

Ham blathers on for a few more paragraphs after this. Enjoy!


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