<link rel="stylesheet" href="//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Roboto%3A300%2C400%2C500%2C700%7CRoboto+Slab%3A400%2C700">Top creationist discoveries of 2015 - Filthy Monkey Men
The fossils of Homo naledi found, representing 15 individuals. Note how many times the same bone is repeated. Each repeat is a chance to test - and disprove - the creationist narrative

The fossils of Homo naledi found, representing 15 individuals. Note how many times the same bone is repeated. Each repeat is a chance to test – and disprove – the creationist narrative

Last year was the 6,018th year of humanity’s existence. At least, if you’re a creationist. If you aren’t, the Institute for Creation Research has gathered all of the key human evolution discoveries that support their position. All three of them.

Except these three pieces of evidence aren’t actually saying what the author – Brian Thomas – claims they say. Which is notable because some of the stuff cited is written by another creationist.

In other words, not only is Brian misinterpreting science; but the writings of his fellow creationists too.

Homo naledi proves creationism

Brian reckons that Homo naledi is the most significant discovery of 2015 (when everyone knows it’s actually the second most significant) and confirms Genesis. Because it doesn’t actually exist.

But how can we be sure that the team accurately reassembled a whole body from the 1,550 or so scattered bone pieces they found, considering the subjectivity and bias involved when scientists piece together what they hope was an individual? In other words, what if Homo naledi is merely a mix of human and ape bones?

And since Homo naledi doesn’t exist, it can’t be evidence of evolution. Which somehow makes it evidence of Genesis? It’s the very definition of an argument for ignorance. When you use a lack of refutation as proof that you’re actually right. In reality, just because you haven’t been disproven yet isn’t the same as being proven right

But that isn’t the end of Brian’s problems. As well as the argument being fundamentally fallacious, it’s also factually wrong. He insinuates there’s a possibility that Homo naledi is a mixture of different species. Which was a possibility considered – and refuted – by the original researchers.

For starters, there’s the fact that many parts of the skeletons were found articulated (still in their original position). For instance, a hand was found with all the bones still in place; confirming that is the hand from a single species. 

The hands of Homo naledi.

The hands of Homo naledi.

Additionally, many elements of the skeleton are repeated. There are multiple legs, skulls, etc. If there were several species in the cave, then these legs etc. shouldn’t all be identical. Except they are. From the original paper:

In all cases where elements are repeated in the sample, they are morphologically homogeneous, with variation consistent with body size and sex differences within a single population.

Misquoting a creationist

So the evidence Homo naledi provides for creationism is both fallacious and contradicted by the science. But that’s nothing particularly special for a creationist; who regularly make these sorts of vacuous argument (often about Homo naledi).

However, to cover all the bases Brian adds why it wouldn’t count as evidence for evolution even if it was a real species:

Homo naledi only becomes relevant to human origins if its age assignment fits exactly between the published time ranges of Lucy and humans—ignoring the fact that evolutionary literature shows those time spans already overlap.4

That little superscript number 4 is where things get interesting. It points back to an another Institute for Creation Research article by Dr Clarey. This one discusses the issues with dating the fossils.

Since the fossils haven’t actually been dated yet, it’s mostly devoid of any meaningful content. Including any discussion of the time frame of Lucy and humans. Yet Brian is citing it as evidence that the “time spans  already overlap” between Lucy and humans.

To reiterate: Brian claims a creationist article from his own organisation supports the idea that Lucy and humans were contemporary. Yet this article contains no mention Lucy, let alone its age.

As the previous section demonstrates, this sort of misquoting and misunderstanding isn’t particularly new to the Institute for Creation Research. Brian (and others) do it all the time. But this is the first time they seem to have misquoted themselves.

It’s a delightful little revelation that highlights just how bad at science they are. If they can’t even correctly comprehend what their collegues are saying, how can they be expected to understand complex scientific ideas. Like articulated fossils. Maybe that’s why Brian things Homo naledi is a mix of species.

tl;dr

Brian claims a creationist article from his own organisation supports the idea that Lucy and humans were contemporary. Yet this article contains no mention Lucy, let alone its age.

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