PRATT Index

This section of Captainoccam.com exists because I’ve decided to let Google put ads here. That way companies get to advertise products on the site, I earn back some of the money I’m paying for hosting, and the only cost for readers is a small banner at the bottom of the page. Everybody wins, right?

Well, not quite. Since Google determines what ads to put here based on words the site uses, the ads are occasionally for creationist organizations that propagate the same PRATTs I’m making fun of! It’s possible for me to block the ads here from linking to certain sites, but that solution seems like a cop-out to me. Instead, I’ve decided to provide an explanation of exactly what’s wrong with each of the creationist claims that this comic mentions.

Evolution contradicts the second law of thermodynamics

This claim has been proven false for so long that I find it a surprising anyone still uses it at all. The second law of thermodynamics states that once energy is turned into heat, it’s impossible to convert all of it back into a useable form. More generally, this law can be interpreted to mean that the order of a closed system will decrease over time, but that has nothing to do with evolution either. Earth isn’t a closed system: it constantly receives energy from the sun, and the decrease in order occurring as the result of nuclear fusion there is far greater than any increase in order on earth.

When creationists are presented with this rebuttal, they most often try to extrapolate the second law of thermodynamics and claim that the order of an open system must always decrease also, even when it’s receiving energy from an external source. However, not only is this claim completely different from what the second law of thermodynamics says; it’s also is observably false. The formation of crystals is a good example of how a system can undergo a localized increase in order, as a result of order decreasing in another part of it.

See also: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo.html

Archaeopteryx is a forgery

Even Answers in Genesis rejects this claim, although the rest of what they have to say about the animal admittedly isn’t of much value. They also neglect to mention what I consider the most obvious disproof of this particular argument: the way in which it was disproved by the American paleontologist John Ostrom.

In 1970, John Ostrom identified a specimen of Archaeopteryx that had been misidentified as a pterosaur in the Teyler Museum of Haarlem, Netherlands. This specimen of Archaeopteryx had been discovered in 1855, around four years before Charles Darwin published his theory of evolution. If someone had forged this fossil in an effort to support Darwins theory, they were attempting to support a theory that actually didn’t exist yet.

Evolution is “just a theory”

Evolution is a theory the same way gravity is a theory. It’s an explanation for a large number of observations, many of which can’t be explained any other way, and which makes predictions about future observations which can be tested and confirmed. This isn’t true of creationism, or of its watered-down version “Intelligent Design”. Most of the predictions made by creationism are easily shown to be incorrect, and Intelligent Design doesn’t make any testable predictions at all.

See also: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA201.html

“Carnivorous” dinosaurs actually ate plants

Nobody actually believes this claim, do they? One fossil of the dinosaur Compsognathus contains the bones of a lizard in the area of its ribcage that corresponds to its stomach, and coprolites (fossilized droppings) from Tyrannosaurus contain fragments of bone. Better yet are the Fighting Dinosaurs from the Gobi Desert, which were buried alive while one of the carnivore’s claws was embedded in the herbivore’s neck exactly where its jugular vein would have been.

The origin of birds and feathers

Creationists have so much to say about this topic, and I have so much to say in response, that I can’t post all of it here. I’ve posted an article here debunking some of the more common creationist claims about this topic, as well as describing the various stages in the evolution of feathers. In this article, I’ve also provided more details about some of the transitional fossils between dinosaurs and birds.

Evolution is a big mafia in worldwide

I shouldn’t need to explain what’s wrong with this one, suffice to say that I’ve actually seen a creationist use it.

Further reading

This page is only a small sampling of the arguments that creationists use. For anyone who’s interested in researching this topic more thoroughly, I recommend the following sites:

Talk.Origins–In my opinion, this is the best collection of scholarly articles debunking creationism. Although the articles there aren’t peer-reviewed in the same way they would be in a professional journal, the Talk.Origins newsgroup has a similar review process to ensure that everything in them is accurate and cites its sources properly.

EvoWiki–Another large collection of material debunking creationism. Since this is a Wiki, the articles in it aren’t screened for errors as thoroughly as they are at Talk.Origins, but the fact that it’s so easy to submit articles there enables it to deal with a lot of topics in greater depth than Talk.Origins does.

Analysis of Kent Hovind–An extensive overview of the false and fallacious arguments used by the world’s most infamous creationist.

Creationism vs. Evolution forum–My personal favorite place to debate with creationists. If you’d like to try debating with me, register and post a thread; I’ll be happy to oblige.