Creationism talk by Dave Eakin

A UK Bible study group hosted a talk tonight by Dave Eakin, an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). I didn’t know quite what to expect coming in to the talk–was Eakin going to explain some biology to the Bible study group or was this going to be bog standard creationism? The talk turned out to be standard old Earth creationism. What an embarrassment he is to EKU!

An MP3 recording of the talk is available here.

I made notes during the talk, they give a flavor for it. My comments are in brackets:

3 groups: biblers, people with set minds…

Comments about apoliticalness and open mindedness.

Cartoon: candle representing science, “Hit it with the Bible”.

Chain of being cartoon.
He mentions he had a creationisty poster at the KAS meeting and no one gave him guff about it.

3 theories of evolution:
1. chemical evolution (abiogenesis)
2. general evolution “an extrapolation of Darwin’s natural selection”
3. natural evolution = special evolution [seems to be a ref to microevolution]

Behe’s Black Box book. [Darwin’s black box: the biochemical challenge to evolution
By Michael J. Behe]

It’s hard to tell if things are designed.
Creationists are blackballed, McCarthyism-type environment for creationists.

Paley-like are arguments are too simple/wrong, but Behe is more sophisticated [not clear how].
Watch, mouse trap, flagellum
[clotting cascade, eye, Krebs]
Eye
Trials for cats. [????]

Graduate of U. of Louisville! [figures!]

No one can solve these problems

Color blindness slide?
Can make it clear by increasing contrast…
“Evidence doesn’t support theories, theories support evidence” –Dr Dave.
Big Bang not current, has been replaced by String Theory

CSI example, making the point that evidence can be made to support whatever theory a person wants.

If 60,000 people believe a lie, it’s still a lie.

All his sick evolutionist friends ask him to pray for them.

Quote: when fossils are known all no more guessing. [missed the cite]

We doesn’t know everything so we know nothing.

Absence of life in pre-Cambrian, organisms suddenly appear, and…

Picture of single-celled microfossils, asks if anyone believes them.
Makes fun of certainty of Ph.Ds.

Something new from Discover mag, image of tree of life from single-celled organism.
Pisoliths from pre-oxy atmosphere Earth (pre 2.3 billion years), but they only occur in presence of oxy.
[Casting doubt on what we know.]

Stephen Jay Gould had a young Earth Creationist student. [meaning unclear…]
Quote from Gould, from Evolution’s Erratic Pace, Natural Hist May 1977, at 12, 14. about no transitional forms.

Erase all the lines from tree of life because we don’t know anything for sure.

Never presented Creationism in class. Wants student to think for themselves.
Quote from Colin Patterson (April 10, 1979) on how we don’t have any transitional fossils.
Quote by Tom Bethell in Harper’s February on how no one is willing to publicly talk about ‘questions’.

But what about Archaeopteryx? Small, unimportant. Just a reptile.
Eakin has reviewed many/most biology textbooks.
Says Archaeopteryx is often misrepresented, over interpreted.

Some point about lack of learned behavior in reptiles.
Figures of bird physiology. Pectoral muscles in bird/reptiles.

How did scales evolve into feathers? Unknown, too hard to imagine. [Evo-dev has been providing answers about this.]

How did birds start to fly? An irreducible jump.
We know in our hearts that transitional forms can’t happen.

Faith is… “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

My battery ran down at this point and the sound cut off the last minute or two of his talk and the extended Q&A afterward. He mentioned the audience was very respectful and had given him his say. Bible groups must usually be a rough audience!

In the Q&A, he also said that he had talked to many biologists and that 10-20% were creationists of some variety but unwilling to publicly talk about it. This is quite silly, an argument from popularity. Also it’s nonsense. Anonymous surveys of biologists have been done and almost no biologists are creationists. A 1987 Newsweek article reports a survey found 0.14% of earth scientists and biologists are creationists, and a survey reported in CSI pegs the number at 1-2 in about 2000, about 0.1%.

It was sad to find out that EKU has a creationist teaching biology. Oh, the poorly served students!

Most surprising was that Eakin gave his whole talk without ever describing the theory of evolution, in any of its forms, either the simple Darwinian version or the Modern Synthesis. His talk was instead the poorly thought out basket of criticisms of evolution with no case made for anything else. I’ve heard this described as common in creationist talks.

Eakin started his talk saying that evidence is never conclusive, that there’s always doubt, and that we can’t be sure of anything. I thought that would be the theme of his talk before he swerved into ordinary creationism.

Eakin’s talk was at least a decade out of date. One topic was Behe’s book and the argument of ‘irreducible complexity’. Eakin doesn’t seem to know that Behe’s featured examples, the flagellum and the eye, have been shown to have evolutionary precursors where part of the ‘irreducible’ structure exists and functions.

Eakin mentions Archaeopteryx and then makes an extended argument that the evolution of reptile ancestors into birds is impossible but doesn’t seem to know that additional transitional birds have been discovered, or the recent evidence of the relationship between scales and feathers.

Eakin also briefly mentioned his impression that few transitional horse fossils are known, and mentioned that the linear, gradual depiction of horse evolution was admitted by biologists to be false. This hoary creationist canard leaves so much out as to be plain dishonest. Eakin should known better.

In the early part of the 20th century, depictions of horse evolution presented a linear, gradual picture of horse evolution, but soon after more and more horse fossils were discovered and filled in a picture of horse evolution as a branching bush with over a score of Genera, many coexisting and all but a few now extinct. Talkorigins.org has a good page on this, though Stephen Jay Gould’s essay “Life’s Little Joke” collected in Bully for Brontosaurus is a better read. There are many transitional horse fossils, and the branching tree of horse evolution has been widely known for 70+ years.

The talk ended with a series of quotes from evolutionary biologists about the lack of transitional fossils and the difficulty of drawing conclusions. This was standard creationist quote mining, quite a laugh.

Eakin is a graduate of U of L. I know that won’t surprise anyone at UK.

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