Letter to the Editor: 03.01.13

In the project of learned discourse, we don’t often find moments of complete intellectual incompetence. However, such is the case with the recent columns from Faris Sahawneh and Mark Looy of the infamous Answers in Genesis.

Sahawneh wishes to challenge the view that dinosaurs and humans did not coexist. Sahawneh does this by claiming that, according to evolutionists, crocodiles lived at the same time as dinosaurs (even before them) and that these crocodiles live today alongside people.

This demonstrates a total misunderstanding of the phylogenetic history and taxonomic classification of modern crocodiles and those ancient reptiles that are both members of the order Crocodylia, which appeared 83.5 million years ago.

First, the crocodilian total group, the clade Crurotarsi, appeared 220 million years ago, whereas the dinosaurs appeared 230 million years ago. So, we can see that this proposal is incorrect from the very beginning – no crocodile of any sort existed prior to the dinosaurs. Secondly, modern crocodiles belong to the family Crocodylidae that appeared about 55 million years ago during the Eocene epoch.

Now, as anyone remotely educated in biology knows, the dinosaurs went extinct during the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. With the modern crocodile family not appearing for another 11 million years, it can easily be seen that Sahawneh’s idea clearly wants of proper biological knowledge.

But, all that aside, even if Sahawneh’s assertion were true, what does it prove? Dr. Zingrone’s original claim was that humans did not coexist with dinosaurs – not crocodiles. And crocodiles are not dinosaurs, but an offshoot of the Archosaurs (diapsid amniotes) along with dinosaurs and pterosaurs. But, lest we forget, this is a creationist we are talking about – someone whose understanding of biology equals that of a matchstick. Finally, it doesn’t seem that Sahawneh understands what it means for something to count as an ad hominem attack either.

Yes, Dr. Zingrone did call Ken Ham a clown, and rightly so. But what he didn’t do was say that we should dismiss Ham’s arguments because he is a clown. There is a difference. Ken Ham is a clown because he is a surreptitious conman devoid of any capability of thinking scientifically. But again, this is a creationist, and it’s not surprising that they know nothing of logical discourse either.

Mark Looy of Answers in Genesis asks us, “If dinosaurs perished 65 million years ago, how in the world could the soft tissue have possibly survived and not disappeared 64 million years ago?” – a standard boilerplate argument of creationists. This is nothing but an argument from incredulity – another logical fallacy. We don’t know how it happened, therefore Jesus. The real scientist who discovered the soft tissues, Mary Schweitzer, has already decried the creationists who have commandeered her research to twist it into their fairy tale fantasies.

The femur had even been intentionally broken and then not preserved in the normal manner, specifically because Schweitzer wanted to test for soft tissue!

Additionally, geologists had already established the site to be 68 million years old. So, all this means is that more research into fossilization needs to be done. By definition, there are things that scientists don’t know, because the whole point of science is to explore the unknown.

Finally, Looy also speaks of one of their “scientists,” David Menton, who holds a Ph.D. in biology from an Ivy League school. This amounts to nothing more than an appeal to authority – yet another logical fallacy. However, Answers in Genesis cannot even get logical fallacies right, much less logic!

As a creationist, Menton isn’t even considered an authority on science by the scientific community! Furthermore, we have a professor of biology with a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Oxford who would vehemently disagree with creationist claims.

So, if it is an authority pissing contest that they’re worried about, Murray State wins hands down. Creationists are simply science hijackers that use other’s work as the viscous with which to grease their flimflam machine.

So, needless to say, we who promote a secular view on campus will continue to hammer away at the absurdities touted by those whose slapdash poppycock deserves nothing more than continued criticism and rebuke.

Letter from Ben Shelby, graduate student from Boaz, Ky.

2 Comments on "Letter to the Editor: 03.01.13"

  1. Theo Cyrene | March 16, 2013 at 1:43 am |

    Excellent rebuttal, Ben.

  2. Bravo to Ben. I would add to his otherwise excellent rebuttal two points:
    It has taken years of effort by various teams to finally isolate a tiny trace of badly degraded protein from the best preserved dino bone. If dino bone is just 4,500 years old then isolating protein, even DNA, from it should be routine. It isn't. Why not?
    Creationists love boasting about the academic credentials of their "scientists". I would ask, how many of them are called "Steve"? Google NCSE Project Steve. PhD scientists called "Steve" alone outnumber all creationist ones combined(I'm one of them!) Indeed, if the creationists attempt "an authority pissing contest" they lose – badly.

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