"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin."
- Charles Darwin

Sep 25, 2007

But What About the Crocoduck?

Michael Behe's hypothesis still pseudoscience

Creationist argument for how evolution couldn't happen.

The California Literary Review has an interview with Intelligent Design guru Michael Behe. The comments have some decent information (especially about his Dover testimony that was referred to as “breathtaking inanity” by the conservative judge). The rest of the interview is filled with garbage like this:

Is there any way to test the concept of a designer? Is there any evidence of his or her actions interceding in the development of life on earth?

Well, it depends on what you mean by “test” and “evidence”. If you and a friend walked by Mount Rushmore, even if you had never heard of it before, you would immediately realize that the faces on the mountain were designed. Not for a moment would you think they were the result of random forces such as wind and erosion. Your conclusion of design would be certain, because you would see how well the pieces of the mountain fit the purpose of portraying an image.

So now Intelligent Design advocates have descended to the same silly argument that Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron trot out. If it looks designed, it must be. Problem solved. Never mind that structures such as Mount Rushmore are incredibly rare and violate the natural processes of geology while all biological systems show evidence of common descent. Behe should join the dynamic duo on their next adventure.

But What About the Crocoduck?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


ordinarygirl said...

Not to mention that there is evidence for design in Mt. Rushmore. In 1000 years if an archaeologist stumbled upon it not knowing about our civilization they could conclude through scientific study that it was designed through evidence like chisel marks, possibly human artifacts, artificial railings, etc. That's not the same as inferring a designer through nature.

Anonymous said...

This is annoying, everyone references the crocoduck picture or the name. But nobody explains the basis of Kirk's crocoduck argument. Pretty soon I'm gonna have to take the absurdity of it on pure faith.

Eric Michael Johnson said...


It's because the argument behind the crocoduck is too absurd to take seriously. Cameron can't understand the process of speciation and imagines that it must happen in major leaps. He, and a significant percentage of religiously motivated evolution deniers, imagines that evolution means that one species will give birth to another species. The crocoduck is his take on intermediate forms (we can charitably call it a joke, but I'm not sure it is).

Basically, if birds and reptiles had a common ancestry then there must have been a species that was not fully bird and not fully reptile. So far so good, Cameron might do well in biology. However, he imagines that this transition would take place in a single generation. While everyone accepts the abundant evidence of microevolution (variation in gene frequencies between populations) the only difficulty some people have is fast forwarding this process through millions of years of small, imperceptible genetic changes in isolated populations. It's like taking the evidence from geology that a canyon was formed by the slow water erosion from a river over millions of years and assuming there must have been a single flash flood that carved everything all at once.

So yes, ducks and crocodiles had a common ancestor. But this ancestor wouldn't have looked anything like either a duck or a crocodile. Ducks and daffodils also had a common ancestor. Where is Cameron's daffoduck? It makes just as much sense.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't that be Daffy Duck?

jose said...

"Basically, if birds and reptiles had a common ancestry then there must have been a species that was not fully bird and not fully reptile"

Birds came from dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were reptiles. Therefore, birds came from reptiles. There is nothing wrong about it. Populations really EVOLVE into different kind of animals. Some ancient sarcopterygian fishes evolved into amphibians. Some ancient amphibians evolved into reptiles. That's true. Oh yes, and we DID come from apes.

You can say 'reptiles and birds share a common ancestor' and it's true. But is also scientifically true that birds came from reptiles. ancient reptiles. extintc groups of reptiles. NOT current reptiles.

My grandpa was born in italia. That means I came from some italian guy. I don't mean either I came from some guy that is living in italia right now nor "i share a common ancestor with some italian people".

Anonymous said...

The next thing evolutionists will try to prove is the existance of a furry, vemonous, egg-laying beaver/otter/duck mammal. It's craziness I tell you.

Ryvius Sikuli said...

Easy rebuttal.

Look up Ambulocetus and Tiktaalik.

Anonymous said...

I've not seen the crocduck episode so can't really comment on it. I believe in God so I guess in most of your eyes that immediately drops my IQ but I neither pro nor anti evolution. I figure if you're God how you do it up to you. What I am always amazed at is the way evolutionist never seem to quite understand that the fact that it is a "THEORY" no one on earth be it guru, scientist, or true believer of Mr Darwin's lifes work know for sure if evoulution is a fact. It is a widely accepted Theory with a lot of very smart people who have made some incredible discoveries over the years and yet to BELIEVE in evolution is as much an act of Faith as beleiving in Creationism. Again I favour neither one over the other and by no means support, from what you are all saying, the somewhat clueless comments of Mr Cameron, but hey at least be honest with yourselves... no one really knows one way or the other when it comes down to it. So in the end it's all about faith.

Eric Michael Johnson said...

Evolution by natural selection is a theory only in the philosophical sense. It is used in the same way that seafloor spreading and subduction zones make up the theory of plate tectonics. Plate tectonics is a fact and so is evolution. The theory is an explanation for how it occurs, by what mechanism. The theory of natural selection is one of the most tested ideas in history and all lines of evidence, from multiple fields and from many different approaches, all converge on the same thing. Evolution occured (and continues to occur) through small, often imperceptible, genetic changes in populations. To claim that evolution is a belief is to completely misunderstand the scientific value placed on evidence.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Eric that was nicely put and got me looking around at a few things. As I said I'm neither for nor against evolution but have always been irked by the "fact" that it is always represented at schools and in the media as "fact" and I would clarify that by saying all aspects were represented as fact. But then as one the sources (pro evolution) that I read said evolution is a fact but the term fact does not mean "absolute certainty" and that the term fact in the science world is more a case of "confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional consent". Breaking that down kinda says to me that with the evidence we have to date this is what we believe to be true... though new evidence could alter that belief... sorry fact.

All I am saying is that evidence is almost always open to interpretaion and constantly under revision. Which is why you can always find a scientist with a perspective to suit your agenda.
I don't feel I misunderstand the issue but always appreciate it is a possibilty that some of my beliefs or facts "are", like science, open to revision.

Much of the evolutionary line work with regards to humans as I understand it is drawn from little more than teeth and jaw fossils. While I respect the work and evidence process you must concede that this leaves a lot of room for error and even deception such as the Piltdown Man which was taught as "fact" for almost 40 years. full credit it was science that proved it wrong but there were still scientist who believed it true until modern techniques proved it erroneous.

I still hold to the premise that know one really knows one way or the other for absolute definate certain sure as eggs is eggs and roast lamb needs mint sauce. But then it's only human to believe what you want to believe in the end isn't it.

Largenton said...

My apologies, but I saw the comment which "Anonymous" made and I had to say something. Anonymous you state that human evolution is evident only in jaw and tooth remains. I wish to correct you here as you don't seem aware of the implications of scientific method. Firstly, someone has already made it clear that a scientific theory is proven beyond reasonable doubt. It is a fact that Evolution happens. The theory explains this fact. The theory may change, but this will be modification, just in the way Newton was modified by Einstein.

Secondly, let's look at hominin remains. Most of the famous remains are skulls and I can assure you Anonymous that archaeologists and anthropologists find it incredibly easy to distinguish between us and them.

Have a look at that link. Those are hominin skulls. I presume you can note the difference between the chimp skull (A) and the modern Human skull (N). Whilst M is similar (in fact its an early version of our species, H.sapiens, sapiens), the rest have some differences. Note the big brow ridge around their eyebrows? The flatter skulls? Those are the obvious differences which I can indicate. Others include brain size, etc. There is a lot of evidence besides this, however, I think this indicates the methodology in which anthropologists determine human evolution. As someone has studied this area, I have an extensive library of papers on the matter which I'll be happy to provide.

Evolution is a scientific explanation for the world. It does not require faith, which is the key thing which distinguishes it from creationism. As creationism is non-scientific, it should not be put alongside the scientific explanation.

I am sorry for the butting in, but I thought it needed mentioning. Good blog though.

Eric Michael Johnson said...

No need to apologize. That's what this space is for. Great explanation, incidentally.

Largenton said...

Thanks, its one of those things I'm familiar with thanks to studying it at degree and then reading the Richard Dawkins boards regularly. The scientific method is important to me too and I strongly believe in teaching it in schools (which I will be doing once I get my PGCE).