Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Want to Start a Barroom Fight?

In a 1999 article arguing that the rarity of transitional fossils does not count as evidence against Darwinism, Padian and Angielczyk wrote: "Want to start a barroom fight? Ask another patron if he can produce proof of his unbroken patrilineal ancestry for the last four hundred years. Failing your challenge, the legitimacy of his birth is to be brought into question. At this insinuation, tables are overturned, convivial beverages spilled, and bottles fly. Not fair, claims the gentle reader. This goes beyond illogic to impoliteness, because you are not only placing on the other patron an unreasonable burden of proof, you are questioning his integrity if he fails. But isn't that what creationists do when they claim that our picture of evolution in the fossil record must be fraudulent because we have so many gaps between forms?"

Yet Padian and Angielczyk have it exactly backwards.

Imagine this: A Berkeley professor walks into a bar and goes up to a guy who's peacefully sipping a beer. The professor looks down at the guy and declares with an air of authority: "You are the lineal descendant of a worm." The guy stands up, tempted to deck this bozo right then and there, but he's in a good mood and decides to play along. "Look," the guy says, "I've read about this Darwin stuff in the papers, but what makes you think you can tell me who I'm descended from? I don't even know anything about my great-great-grandparents, except that they were Irish. And here you are, claiming to know that one of their ancestors was a worm? Are you just trying to start a fight?"

"Look," says the professor, quoting comedian Lewis Black as his authority, "I'm right, and I don't have to argue this point any more. Fossils. Fossils. FOSSILS! I win."

Jonathan Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, pp. 23-4

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