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Answers in Genesis' Response on Evidence for Whale Evolution

Ed,


Very informative post! Your experience is very consistent with anyone who has tried to engage Sirfarti (aka "Socrates") at theologyweb.com. As a point of information, he has been banned or exiled or whatever from that site for the past four or five months due to rude behavior -- and that's no mean task, given that it's run by YEC fundamentalists.


Thanks!


Roger


Hi,
I'm new to the ASA list, or rather was on it years ago and just rejoined. I noticed a discussion about the young-earth creationist, Sarfati (or was it "Socrates" at tweb? -- are they different people or one and the same?) and his penchant for name calling, as mentioned two or three months ago in the ASA forum. I have my own story to add concerning Sarfati:


About a year ago I read several articles at aig.org (Answers in Genesis website) that attempted to debunk evidence for cetacean evolution, but one article in particular attempted to debunk the claim that modern day cetaceans had been found with hind leg rudiments. According to the AiG author he could find no evidence of such things in the scientific literature. All that AiG had been able to find was a photo of a diseased pelvis of a Right whale, and the author claimed there was no evidence that the diseased bone in question was actually a pelvis, nor any evidence that the small protrusions extending from it on either side were rudimentary femurs.


So I did some research of my own and obtained a few articles on hind limb rudiments that are occaisionally found on modern day cetaceans, and I posted the findings and photos and dissection drawings of a healthy Right whale's pelvis, femur and tibia bones.


My webmaster was proud of the page she had put together and emailed Sarfati at AiG and asked him to respond to the evidence since the article questioned several AiG articles.


Sarfati's "response" to my webmaster included him referring to me as "Blabinski" (instead of "Babinski"). Sarfati wrote, "Blabinski manages to miss the point of the [AiG] article," and added, "it's laughable from my perspective as a Ph.D. scientist (earned from a secular university) to hear non-scientists like you and Blabinski try to lecture me on science..." [Ironically, the sources I quoted were scientists who had studied cetaeans far more deeply than Sarfati had, but Sarfati continued to attack my credibiliy, as if that allowed him to reject the evidence out of hand. - Ed.] Sarfati wrote, "What qualifications does Babinski have? Actually, I know the answer to that -- zip, nada, zilch." [I have a Bachelor's in Biology from Fairleigh Dickenson University in New Jersey. - Ed.] Sarfati continued, "He's an affable enough person during emails, but his main claim to fame is as an editor of a book of "anti-testimonies" by assorted apostates. And he writes other junk... I haven't the slightest confidence that these reports are any more than more of the same wishful thinking... This time-wasting apostate deserves nothing but obscurity." He ended with, "I trust that you will also appreciate the immense busyness operating here; we have about 25,000 visitors to our site every day, and I'm finishing a book. So I hope you will understand that we can't possibly respond to all claims disseminated by every God-hater inhabiting the darker hovels of the Internet..."


I sent Sarfati an invitation to look at the evidence, photos, dissection diagrams for himself. He has not yet said what he makes of the evidence for hind limb rudiements found on modern day whales. In fact, in the dissection of the Right whale at my site, Struthers found the hip bone connected to the leg bone, connected to the shin bone, by ligaments, as exists in ALL modern day Right whales, hidden inside their flesh:


"Nothing can be imagined more useless to the animal than rudiments of hind legs entirely buried beneath the skin of a whale, so that one is inclined to suspect that these structures must admit of some other interpretation. Yet, approaching the inquiry with the most skeptical determination, one cannot help being convinced, as the dissection goes on, that these rudiments [in the Right Whale] really are femur and tibia. The synovial capsule representing the knee-joint was too evident to be overlooked. An acetabular cartilage, synovial cavity, and head of femur, together represent the hip-joint. Attached to this femur is an apparatus of constant and strong ligaments, permitting and restraining movements in certain directions; and muscles are present, some passing to the femur from distant parts, some proceeding immediately from the pelvic bone to the femur, by which movements of the thigh-bone are performed; and these ligaments and muscles present abundant instances of exact and interesting adaptation. But the movements of the femur are extremely limited, and in two of these whales the hip-joint as firmly anchylosed, in one of them on one side, in the other on both sides, without trace of disease, showing that these movements may be dispensed with. The function point of view fails to account for the presence of a femur in addition to processes from the pelvic bone. Altogether, these hind legs in this whale present for contemplation a most interesting instance of those significant parts in an animal -- rudimentary structures." [Struthers, p. 142-143]




DAVID: Sarfati's "I have a PhD and you don't" attacks are especially ill-founded given that his batchelor's and PhD are in chemistry. He has no more official qualification to talk about evolutionary biology than any layman. Of course, people without degrees in a field can be quite knowledgeable; it is the citation of a chemistry PhD as proof of authority on evolution that is problematic.


ED:

Sarfati responded: "How exactly are they are un-christlike? It seems 'un-Christ-like' not to believe what He [Christ] did about Genesis!"

DAVID: As He didn't say anything about the age of the earth, this claim is questionable. Perhaps more fundamentally, Genesis never says you should lie about whale anatomy. Belief in a young earth does not require belief in the false claims of creation science. It's a popular creation science tactic to label any questioning of their claims as an attack on the Bible.


ED:

So, the problem may lie not only with Sarfati, but perhaps with "Biblical language" itself. I could of course give examples of some serious rhetoric from the Bible, far more serious and sarcastic than Sarfati's.

DAVID: Plenty of examples from church history, too...


Different situations may call for harsher rhetorical styles. E.g., some of the Biblical examples were elicited by harsh comments (e.g., Amos vs. Amaziah).


The fundamental discrepancy between Sarfati's language and Biblical examples is that he is using it to defend his own deviations from Biblical standards of truth and quality.



Dr. David Campbell
Old Seashells
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
Box 870345
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0345 USA

That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at Droitgate Spa


From: "ed babinski"

My webmaster told Sarfati: "I found your comments highly insulting, un-christlike, and exceptionally un-professional."
Sarfati responded: "How exactly are they are un-christlike? It seems 'un-Christ-like' not to believe what He [Christ] did about Genesis!"


Also, in fairness of Sarfati's sharp sarcastic tongue, is his verbal behavior inconceivably worse than the verbal behaviors of prophets, psalmists, Jesus and Paul, who employed some serious rhetoric at times? For instance, when I questioned Sarfati about the way he addresses people whose beliefs differ from his own, he directed me to an online article by J. P. Holding, titled, "Is it 'Un-Christian' To Engage in Satire?"
http://www.tektonics.org/lp/madmad.html


So, the problem may lie not only with Sarfati, but perhaps with "Biblical language" itself. I could of course give examples of some serious rhetoric from the Bible, far more serious and sarcastic than Sarfati's.


Yes, the Bible uses pretty bruising language sometimes - e.g., Gal.5:12.
(The idea there is "I hope that when they're being circumcised the knife slips.") But aside from ethical issues, the following points should be considered.


1) People should not use sarcasm, ridicule unless it's actually funny & effective. Most people who use such devices make themselves look silly because they don't know how to do it. E.g., distorting someone's name - Blabinski for Babinski - is childish. It's at about the same level as when my daughter learned the telling put-down "doody head" in 1st grade (in Australia). When adults use language like this it's a reasonable inference that their arguments are weak & that they're putting up a smokescreen.


2) There are 2 very different situations that are relevant here. The biblical writers are using sarcasm & as a rhetorical device in the public arena. E.g., Paul was trying to persuade one group of people (e.g., the Galatian Christians) that another group (the Judaizers) were wrong and that he was right. Generally that kind of thing happens when a dispute has already become more or less public and opposing positions have been set. In the situation you've described, OTOH, Sarfati was (as I understand it) dealing with you as a private individual. The only purpose such rhetoric serves then is intimidation.


I think that the best thing to do with Sarfati & those of his ilk is to leave them, as much as possible, severely alone. Their claims need to be refuted as strongly as possible in whatever media are available, & this includes saying bluntly, with supporting evidence, that those claims are false, absurd - & if the evidence warrants it, lies. But trying to debate with hardline YEC cadres is a waste of time. Efforts should be directed instead to trying to keep them from infecting others.


Whatever the biblical examples may be, childish rhetoric should be avoided. Intelligent people can see through it.


Shalom
George


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2 comments:

  1. From: gerholdllemke@gmail.com. I have about 20 pages when you Google for: Gerhold L. Lemke. Most of them correcting the LSI blog from my point of view of a created Virtual Time. Thanks for info that old Henry in CRSQ was pointing his ire at Austin & Wise. GLL

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gerhold, I looked up the LSI and your articles as you asked. It appears you're a young-earth creationist Lutheran. Missouri Synod perhaps? I respond to creationist denials of plain evidence on this page:

      http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2006/11/dolphin-hind-limbs-response-to-aig.html

      and here

      http://etb-whales.blogspot.com/2012/03/review-of-overselling-of-whale.html

      and you can see further evidence of whale evolution via this index page

      http://etb-whales.blogspot.com/2012/03/whale-evolution-and-atavistic-hind.html

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