“Big Daddy” Chick Tract: The Most Widely-Distributed Anti-Evolution Publication

CONTENTS

The Best-Seller

Fossil Evidence for Intermediate Human-Primate Species

The Chick Tract Treatment of Anthropoid Fossils

“Big Daddy”: Fruits, Roots, and Responses

* *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The Best-Seller

There are two living authors whose works have sold over half a billion copies. One is American novelist Danielle Steel. The other is Christian pamphleteer Jack Chick. Now 91 years old, the reclusive Chick has reportedly sold a staggering 750 million copies of his illustrated tracts and comic books since 1960. His works have been translated into over 100 languages and are widely distributed by missionaries and other Christian workers.  Many of his publications are consistent with mainstream evangelicalism, stressing man’s accountability to God and the necessity of personal integrity and of following Christ. Some of his tracts, however, vehemently attack modern secularism and also religious views (especially Roman Catholicism) that Chick disagrees with.

I recall being handed a copy of his anti-evolution cartoon tract, “Big Daddy”, many years ago. This pamphlet, which first appeared in 1972, is reportedly “the most widely distributed anti-evolution booklet in history“.   A recent article by Paul Braterman on the Primates Progress blog ,” How to lie about radiometric dating, evolution, and even nuclear physics “,  brought this Chick tract back to my attention. This pamphlet continues to be sold in bulk at 16 cents apiece, and stands as an example of the arguments brought against evolution by some Christians. The complete tract is shown on the Chick Publications web site. I will display some representative panels here, and comment on the accuracy of their scientific claims.

Big Daddy cover

The cartoons start off with a professor, flanked by a portrait of a banana-eating ape titled “Our Father”, asking:

Prof who believes

The whole class calls out “We do, sir!” One courageous Christian student dissents, and battle is joined:

I will shred

In the cartoons, the student shoots down all the pro-evolution evidences put forth by the increasingly-desperate professor. By the end the professor becomes convinced that evolution is wrong. He decides he can no longer teach it, and naively hopes that the university administration will tolerate his change of view:

Prof quits

It would be tedious to analyze the whole tract, panel by panel. The Primate’s Progress article  does an excellent job critiquing many of these items, and discusses the psychology that lies behind such authorship. A briefer rebuttal of each panel in “Big Daddy” is given by Robert Stovold.

Fossil Evidence for Intermediate Human-Primate Species

A core concern of “Big Daddy” is the plausibility of potential human ancestors. I’ll start by recapping the current state of fossil evidence, then discuss how the tract treats the subject.

A large number of fossils have been found which represent species with mixed ape and human characteristics. The earliest of these species are more ape-like, but with time, more-human features appear. The “Prominent Hominid Fossils” page on the TalkOrigins site provides an accessible treatment of this subject. Over 60 fossil finds are briefly discussed, usually with photos provided, representing about a dozen species of hominids. Also, the Wikipedia “List of human evolution fossils“ article has a table with dozens of entries, listed in order of age. Most of these entries have photos of an actual skull and links to further articles.

I’ll comment on some of the more significant of these ancient species:

Australopithecus afarensis – – This hominid lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. Its brain size was about 380–430 cm3, roughly the same as modern chimpanzees. The Wikipedia article lists at least eight major fossil specimens of this species, so it is well-established. The most famous specimen is “Lucy”, a female partial skeleton found in 1974. It had a mixture of ape-like and human-like features: while features of Lucy’s arms and hands resemble those of apes, “in overall anatomy, the pelvis is far more human-like than ape-like. The iliac blades are short and wide, the sacrum is wide and positioned directly behind the hip joint, and evidence of a strong attachment for the knee extensors is clear.”

Young earth creationists sometimes try to dismiss the significance of Australopithecus afarensis fossils like Lucy by saying these were merely chimpanzees. This assertion is so straightforward to disprove that one professor developed a classroom exercise for biology teachers, which shows students the fossil evidence and let them draw their own conclusions. In the main figure of that exercise, chimpanzee bones and teeth are shown on the left, human bones are on the right, and “Lucy” remains are shown in the middle. Anatomical traits numbered, and numbers that represent humanlike states are underlined. Below is a portion of that figure dealing with just the lower jaw and teeth. It is obvious that some Lucy features are more closely resemble chimps, and some more closely resemble humans, just as expected for a species which is intermediate between humans and other primates.

Lucy jaw bones

Skeletons of chimpanzee (left), the australopithecine specimen AL 288-1 (“Lucy”) (middle), and a modern human (right), with anatomical traits numbered according to Table 1. Numbers that represent humanlike states are underlined. Source: Were Australopithecines Ape–Human Intermediates or Just Apes? A Test of Both Hypotheses Using the “Lucy” Skeleton, by Prof. Phil Senter (Fayetteville State University, NC)http://www.nabt.org/websites/institution/File/pdfs/american_biology_teacher/2010/February%202010/FebABTonline.pdf

Homo habilis – – At least five major fossil specimens are known. This species lived 1.5 to 2.8 million years ago. Its brain size of 550 cm3 to 687 cm3 was about 50% larger than that of the australopithecines, but still much less than modern humans (typically 1350 to 1450 cm³). This is one of the earliest species that used flaked stone tools.

Homo erectus  – –  The fossil evidence for Homo erectus (“Upright man”) extends from 1.9 million years ago to 70,000 years ago. Dozens of fossils have been found, on three continents. H. erectus starts to look fairly human, but with some significant differences. Large brow ridges and large teeth remain, and the brain size (750-1250 cm3) was generally smaller than modern man. Several groupings of fossils are subsumed under this species classification. There was a trend toward larger brain size and overall more resemblance to modern humans for some of the more recent Homo erectus fossils, indicating evolution within this species. These folks made fairly sophisticated stone hand-axes, and might have mastered the use of fire. Both Neanderthals and modern humans are thought to have evolved from some branch of Homo erectus. Here is a Homo erectus skull dated about 1.6 million years ago, with a brain size of 850 cm3:

KNM-ER 3733, Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster). Discovered at Koobi Fora in Kenya and thought to be female. The whole skull is similar to some of the Peking Man fossils.  Source: TalkOrigins      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/3733.html

KNM-ER 3733, Homo erectus (or Homo ergaster). Discovered at Koobi Fora in Kenya and thought to be female. The whole skull is similar to some of the Peking Man fossils.                      Source: TalkOrigins http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/homs/3733.html

Homo heidelbergensis – – Because it shares features with both Homo erectus and modern humans, this species is sometimes viewed as a late, advanced Homo erectus or an archaic Homo sapiens. At any rate, it is the sort of intermediate fossil that evolutionary theory predicts. Individuals lived in Africa, Europe and western Asia between 600 and 200 thousand years ago.

Homo neanderthalensis –  –  The bones of about 400 individuals have been found ranging from about 30,000 to 300,000 years old. Despite many similarities, Neanderthals had stouter limbs, a wider, barrel-shaped rib cage, a reduced chin and a much larger nose than modern humans. Their typical brain volume (1600 cm3) was slightly higher than modern humans, and their skulls were more elongated, with a “bun” at the back (see figure below). Although they were very similar to Homo sapiens, DNA evidence shows they were a separate species which split off from the lineage of Homo sapiens around 400,000 years ago.  There are indications that some interbreeding with modern humans took place much later in Europe or Asia.

Anatomical comparison of skulls of Homo sapiens (left) and Homo neanderthalensis (right)   , in Cleveland Museum of Natural History.   Features compared are the braincase shape, forehead, browridge, nasal bone, projection, cheek bone angulation, chin, and occipital contour.   Source: Wikipedia article “Anatomically modern human”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_human

Anatomical comparison of skulls of Homo sapiens (left) and Homo neanderthalensis (right) , in Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Features compared are the braincase shape, forehead, browridge, nasal bone, projection, cheek bone angulation, chin, and occipital contour. Source: Wikipedia article “Anatomically modern human”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomically_modern_human

Homo sapiens – – Anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Evidence indicates that about 70,000 years ago some of them left Africa and eventually spread all over the world. There has been some evolution within this species over the millennia. Some of earliest Homo sapiens fossils such as Skhul/Qafzeh people displayed brow ridges. Somewhat later Homo sapiens, such as the Cro-Magnon people living in Europe 30,000-40,000 years ago, had more robust skeletons and larger brains on average than today’s humans.

Nick Matzke has plotted the brain size and age of many individual fossil representatives of the species discussed above. It can be seen that there are many fossils of increasingly human-like species over the past 3 million years, which is consistent with modern humans evolving from earlier primates.

Ages and cranial capacity data: C. De Miguel and M. Henneberg (2001). "Variation in hominid brain size: How much is due to method?" Homo 52(1), pp. 3-58. Cranial capacity of modern humans: McHenry et al. (1994). "Tempo and mode in human evolution." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91:6780-6. Graphic by Nick Matzke, National Center for Science Education.    Source:   “Transitional Fossils Are Not Rare”, NCSE on line. September 25th, 2008. http://ncse.com/creationism/analysis/transitional-fossils-are-not-rare

Ages and cranial capacity data: C. De Miguel and M. Henneberg (2001). “Variation in hominid brain size: How much is due to method?” Homo 52(1), pp. 3-58. Cranial capacity of modern humans: McHenry et al. (1994). “Tempo and mode in human evolution.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 91:6780-6. Graphic by Nick Matzke, National Center for Science Education. Source: “Transitional Fossils Are Not Rare”, NCSE on line. September 25th, 2008. http://ncse.com/creationism/analysis/transitional-fossils-are-not-rare

Although not every little transition is filled in here, this is an impressive array of fossils which supports the notion that today’s humans evolved from earlier species. Some general principles for assessing fossil intermediates are given in Realistic Expectations for Transitional Fossils . (It is worth noting that even more powerful than the fossil evidence is the modern genetic evidence for common ancestry between humans and other primates, as discussed in Endogenous Retroviruses in Your Genome Show Common Ancestry with Primates. )

The Chick Tract Treatment of Anthropoid Fossils

The relevant cartoons in “Big Daddy” are shown below:

Main cartoons from Big Daddy

Cartoon of ape-men

I’ll discuss nine claims made in these cartoons:

(1) “Richard Leakey found a normal human skull under a layer of rock dated at 212 million years”

This statement is false. TalkOrigins explains:

What Richard Leakey actually found was an early, primitive skull in a layer of rock that dates a little more recently than 2 million years. The physical characteristics and date of the skull are quite consistent with human evolution.

  • The skull in question, KNM-ER 1470, is not that of a normal human. Among other things, the skull capacity (750cc) is far below that of an average modern human and the face is much more robust. Nearly all anthropologists agree that this skull is either a very early member of the homo genus (Homo rudolfensis) or a member of another hominin genus entirely (e.g., Australopithecus or Kenyanthropus).
  • The original dating of the rock at over 200 Ma was false due to contamination of the sample with older volcanic rock. Subsequent dating methods converged on a range of dates between about 2.9 and 1.8 Ma, and in the early 80s, the discrepancy was finally resolved at 1.8 Ma.

(2) “Lucy was only an unusual chimpanzee”, and “Nearly all experts agree that Lucy was just a 3 foot tall chimpanzee.” This is blatantly false. See discussion of Lucy above, under “Australopithecus afarensis”, showing many features closer to humans than to chimps.

(3) “HEIDELBERG MAN Built from a jaw bone that was conceded by many to be quite human”.

This statement implies that “Heidelberg Man” is a shaky concept (based only on a single jawbone), and that this was essentially a modern human. This is false.

While the first fossil of Homo heidelbergensis   (“Heidelberg Man”) was indeed a jaw bone, found in 1907 near Heidelberg, Germany, other fossils of this species have been recovered in Ethiopia, Namibia and South Africa.  Many high-quality fossils have been found in caves in Spain.  These fossils are not of modern humans. Below is shown a skull from one of those caves. It is closer to modern humans than to apes, but clearly has the brow ridges and low forehead of a pre-modern species. It is thus an example of the type of intermediate species predicted by evolution.

"Homo heidelbergensis Cranium 5" was discovered in the Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca (Spain).        Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atapuerca_Mountains

“Homo heidelbergensis Cranium 5” was discovered in the Sima de los Huesos, Atapuerca (Spain). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atapuerca_Mountains

(4) “NEBRASKA MAN   Scientifically built up from one tooth, later found to be the tooth of an extinct pig”.

An examiner of this tooth, Henry Osborn, believed it to be the tooth of an anthropoid ape, and published this conclusion in Science in 1922.  Further work at the field site uncovered more bones, which showed that the original tooth came from an extinct peccary, not an ape. Science published a retraction in 1927.

Here we have an honest mistake in the 1920’s, which was caught and corrected within five years. This is an example of the self-correcting nature of real science: after a hypothesis is proposed, it must sustain testing by colleagues in open debate.

Chick’s description here is largely correct (except that the “build-up” was mainly journalist, not “scientific”), but it is misleading to reach way back to a mistake (which was quickly corrected) nearly a hundred years ago as though that is representative of the anthropoid fossil record as a whole.

(5) “PILTDOWN MAN  The jawbone turned out to belong to a modern ape”.

Robert Stovold comments:

Piltdown Man was a hoax exposed in the 1950’s. The modern ape’s jaw had been filed down to make it look more human-like, making the fraud harder to spot than it would otherwise have been… The hoax was exposed by scientists, showing how science can correct its errors.

One hoax cannot indicate the inferiority of conventional archaeology, because creationists have several hoaxes of their own, including Paluxy footprints [supposedly human and dinosaur tracks in the same rock layer], the Calaveras skull, Moab and Malachite Man, and others. More telling is how people deal with these hoaxes. When Piltdown was exposed, it stopped being used as evidence. The creationist hoaxes, however, can still be found cited as if they were real.

( 6) “PEKING MAN    Supposedly 500,000 years old, but all the evidence has disappeared”.

This statement gives the impression that the notion of “Peking Man” is unsubstantiated. This, again, is a falsehood. The Wikipedia article notes that some 15 skulls and 11 jaws were found near Beijing (“Peking”) between 1929 and 1937 and were carefully studied. While the original fossils were lost as a result of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, we have detailed descriptions and casts which were made of these fossils, and we also still have some teeth which can be dated. So it is not true that “all evidence has disappeared.”  Also, these fossils were representatives of Homo erectus, for which dozens of other fossils have been found, as noted above.

( 7) “NEANDERTHAL MAN     At the Int’l Congress of Zoology (1958) Dr. A.J.E. Cave said his examination showed this famous skeleton found in France over 50 years ago is that of an old man who suffered from arthritis.”

The wording here (“this famous skeleton found in France”) implies that that particular skeleton is the key evidence for Neanderthals, and also implies that a scholar opined that this was the skeleton of a regular (modern) man who happened to be elderly and arthritic. These points are both false.

As noted above, fossils of some 400 Neanderthals have been found at sites across Europe, the Middle East and central Asia which establish them as a separate species from Homo sapiens, with distinctive physical features. None of that is negated if one of these skeletons showed signs of arthritis. Also, the scholar here (Dr. Cave)  called attention to features like robust bones and musculature that differentiated it from today’s Homo sapiens.

(8) “NEW GUINEA MAN   Dates way back to 1970. This species has been found in the region just north of Australia”.

This is just a deceitful distractor. No textbook or other scientific publication refers to “New Guinea Man” (whatever that is supposed to be) as a link in human evolution. It seems that some young earth creationist just made this up.

(9) “CRO-MAGNON MAN    One of the earliest and best established fossils is at best equal in physique and brain capacity to modern man … so what’s the difference?”

This is yet another misleading distractor. This statement implies that scientists consider Cro-Magnons as a link in the evolution of modern humans, but scientists do no such thing. Since Cro-Magnons were fully modern humans, they cannot be considered as ancestors of modern humans. That Cro-Magnons had “physique and brain capacity” equal to modern man has no bearing on the evolutionary origins of Homo sapiens.

The tract put this statement in the mouth of the professor:

Cartoon list fossils

The tract attempted to discredit this declaration, but ironically it is the probably most valid science-related statement in the whole pamphlet. The fossils (which are far, far more than just a few fragments) do indeed display a progression from mixed ape/human features in Australopithecus afarensis, to gradually more human-like characteristics in Homo habilis and then Homo erectus (and other intermediate species as well), in full support of evolutionary expectations.

 “Big Daddy”:  Fruits, Roots, and Responses

The claims in the Chick tract regarding fossil evidence of human evolution were found to be deceitful, and are often outright falsehoods. It is not clear that Chick himself is educated enough to appreciate how wrong his pamphlet is. Young earth creationist popularizer Ken Hovind was involved in revising the tract in 1992. Hovind has read enough scientific literature that he should know better, but apparently he gleans from his reading only that which fits his worldview. Hovind’s creationist views are so extreme and irresponsible that other young earth creationist groups like Answers in Genesis have publically criticized him for continuing to use creationist arguments which have been discredited.

Whatever the inner thoughts of Jack Chick, his anti-evolution tract continues to be distributed by young earth creationists, and is considered by many to provide accurate information on human evolution. As an example, the Missing Links page of the Discovery News website directly or indirectly quotes a number of the statements in the Chick tract, such as the nonsense about “New Guinea Man”:

On the basis of such findings, that website assures its readers:

The fact is, the fossil record has not produced one piece of evidence that man has evolved from another species. Millions and millions of fossils have been unearthed, and not one of them substantiates the philosophy that man evolved from apes, monkeys, or any other animal.            If the theory of evolution were true, surely by now at least one credible piece of fossil evidence would have been unearthed.

Responsible citizens, and especially science educators, are rightly dismayed by this sort of teaching which motivates students from religious backgrounds to reject large realms of modern science. (It’s fine to question evolution, but it is not fine to mindlessly reject the reasonable answers which scientists provide to questions about evolution).

As a Christian, I am further dismayed by the bad witness entailed here. Long ago, Augustine warned against this sort of thing. He noted that if Christians claim that the Bible teaches something about the physical world which unbelievers know to be incorrect, they will be disinclined to give the more crucial teachings of the Bible a fair hearing:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the Earth, the Heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics… If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?  – St. Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis (408 A.D) Book 1, ch.19.

Many of my friends are young earth creationists, and I was in that camp myself at one time (see here for my story) , so I am acquainted with their motives. They are on the whole trying to do the right thing. The core problem is their conviction that the Genesis creation story (six-day creation, a few thousand years ago) must be taken as literally true. That conviction acts to filter out all the pro-evolution facts and reasoning presented by secular teachers. This willful blindness seems deplorable, but this sort of confirmation bias is common human behavior. Passionate political conservatives and liberals, for instance, can summarily dismiss any allegation that their side is in the wrong.

An ongoing stream of books, on-line articles, and videos published by young earth creationist organizations (and also by Intelligent Design proponents) serves to refute, in the minds of the faithful, the evidence presented by the “Darwinists”. The staff of those young earth organizations, such Answers in Genesis, the Institute for Creation Research, and the Creation Research Society bear the primary responsibility for the ongoing popularity of young earth creationism. Doing a Google search on a controversial evolutionary topic can uncover a breathtaking number of conservative Christian sites actively retailing the anti-evolution teachings from these organizations.

The secular sites and organizations which refute the misinformation of the anti-evolutionists are helpful in combatting this problem. I believe it is also important to address the theological error (i.e. the necessity of a literal interpretation of Genesis) that is at the root of young earth creationism. Believers should know that there are alternative, old-earth interpretations which are held by committed Christians, and which take into account the world-view of the people to whom the Scriptures were first given. Many of today’s Christians are not aware that the mainstream conservative Christian view on creation from about 1860 to 1960 was of an old earth. As discussed here,  it was only after John Whitcomb and Henry Morris took over the view of a discredited Seventh Day Adventist promoter of Flood geology and repackaged it in their 1961 volume, The Genesis Flood, that young earth creationism became fashionable in conservative Protestantism.

My approach to biblical interpretation which allows for honest interaction with modern science is described here.  The New Testament treatment of the Fall  is a controversial topic, which is discussed in Adam, the Fall, and Evolution.  Another, more structured resource is this Biologos article, “Why should Christians consider evolutionary creation?”, which includes a number of links to further testimonies and articles.

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About ScottBuchanan

Ph D chemical engineer, interested in intersection of science with my evangelical Christian faith. This intersection includes creation(ism) and miracles. I also write on random topics of interest, such as economics, folding scooters, and composting toilets. Background: B.A. in Near Eastern Studies, a year at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a year working as a plumber and a lab technician. Then a B.S.E. and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Since then, conducted research in an industrial laboratory. Published a number of papers on heterogeneous catalysis, and an inventor on over 80 U.S. patents in diverse technical areas.
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14 Responses to “Big Daddy” Chick Tract: The Most Widely-Distributed Anti-Evolution Publication

  1. CARLOS CERVANTES says:

    I’M AMAZED ON HOW TITLES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE FLANBOYANTLY ARE STREWN ABOUT TO VALIDATE A HYPOTHESIS. ANY EVIDENCE OF FOSSIL TODAY OR THAT WILL EVER SURFACE CAN ONLY BE A VARIABLE OF THE INFINITE POSSIBILITIES OF A TRUE LINEAGE. I DO NOT HAVE ANY TITLES OR PUBLICATIONS BUT I KNOW THE A 3 YEAR OLD CAN COME UP WITH A HYPOTHESIS AND JUSTIFY IT. TO TRY TO TOPPLE UNEDUCATED CHRISTIANS IS LIKE PISSING AGAINST THE WIND. I MUST ADMIT THEY DO HAVE A STRONG PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN AGAINST SCIENCE AND ITS THEORIES. I HAVE GONE TO THE POINT WHERE I FEEL PITY FOR THESE PEOPLE. THEY ARE COMPULSIVE LIARS THAT ARE CONSTANTLY ARRAIGNING THEIR OWN FUNDAMENTALS TO MEET FINANCIAL AGENDAS. IF YOU REALLY WANT TO GET BACK AT THEM HERE IS HOW: I LIVE IN OCEANSIDE,CALIFORNIA, I ATTENDED A LOCAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH WHERE I CLIMBED IN POSITION RAPIDLY ON THE SUGGESTION OF A RELATIVE. . I IGNORED A LOT OF THE FALLACIES TO MAINTAIN A COURTEOUS DEMEANOR AND OPERATED VIDEO FOR THE SERVICE. . I KNOW THE CAMERA DOESN’T LIE. SO WHY LIE TO INNOCENT CHILDREN ABOUT A PORNO POEM OF SONG OF SONGS AS A SPIRITUAL EVENT…WHEN I STARTED TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT IT, THEY KICK ME OUT, TOLD THE POLICE I WAS ON DRUGS AND HAD ME ARRESTED. I WANT TO TAKE AWAY THEIR MONEY BASKET THAT THEY BEG WITH AND DON’T PAY TAXES ON. .I’M LOOKING FOR A LITIGATION LAWYER FOR DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER AND FALSE IMPRISONMENT. I KNOW THIS FORMULA WORKS FOR I’VE SEEN IT EFFECTIVELY PROCESS IN FLORIDA FOR A DEAR FRIEND YEARS AGO. I HAVE LOST CONTACT WITH HIM…… IT IS WORTH A COUPLE MILLION DOLLARS UNLESS YOU SETTLE OUT OF COURT. SO THERE!….. OPEN FOR ANY SUGGESTIONS IF YOU GUYS ACTUALLY READ INCOMING COMMENTS. IF SO……CHEERS COLLEAGUES!

  2. Joseph says:

    Scott,

    I’ve read a little of what you’ve written. You apparently reject a literal interpretation of much of the Old Testament, including Exodus. You reject the notion of a global flood. You reject much of what’s absolutely foundational to not just the Old Testament but also the New Testament. The Christian bible makes very extraordinary claims, including the literal resurrection of Christ. My simple question to you is this: why should you or I believe *any* of what’s written in the Christian bible if you believe that its very foundation is false? You believe that YEC is inconsistent, but I could just as easily point out to you that your adherence to Christianity is also inconsistent (and even more inconsistent) than what YEC’ers believe. This is not a minor point. This is a very major point. Plainly, if the very foundations of Christianity are false, then the entire religion is nonsense.

    I find it very interesting that you belabor the purported mental contortions that YEC’ers conduct in adherence to their interpretation of the Christian bible, but I must say that your mental contortions must be infinitely greater if you reject the very foundations of the Christian bible but nevertheless accept Christianity as fact. Again, this is *not* a minor point. It’s a very major one. I’m looking forward to your response.

    Thank you

    • Joseph,
      These are fair questions.

      I am not in the habit of just believing something because someone else urges me to. I look at the evidence. For controversial issues,I try to read different perspectives and give each side a fair hearing. I have (reluctantly) found that all the available evidence shows that the earth and universe are old, and that humans evolved from other primates. So I cannot, with any integrity, affirm the literal Genesis creation account. On the other hand, there is solid evidence for, and no evidence against, the Resurrection.

      I have dealt with the theological implications of the Fall here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/adam-the-fall-and-evolution-christianity-today-and-world-get-it-wrong/ . That essay also deals with the “slippery slope” argument, by noting the fundamental differences between the Genesis story and the more or less eyewitness accounts of the New Testament events. Thus, it is incorrect to claim that rejecting a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3 leads inevitably to denying a literal Resurrection.

      I won’t rehash all those arguments here. The bottom line is that a literal Adam and a literal Fall are not essential to the gospel. Paul develops the universality of sin in Romans 1-3 with no mention of original sin. He moves from, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness… although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (1:18-21) to “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23) quite apart from Adam. In all the gospel proclamations to both Jews and Gentiles recorded in the Book of Acts, there is not a single reference to Adam’s sin. The Fall is never mentioned in the sayings of Jesus. On the contrary, Jesus directed people away from religious speculations or blaming others, and towards a consciousness of their own shortcomings and their personal need for mercy.

      As far as what is “foundational” in our faith, I would like to let the New Testament writers define that for me. See, for instance, I Cor 15: 3-5, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.” Heb 6:1-2 describes the “foundation” teachings as “repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Nothing here about a six-day creation.

      As far as the purpose for the Old Testament, God declares, “My word…will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and will achieve the purpose for which I sent it. “ (Isaiah 55:11) The Bible is authoritative and inerrant with respect to the purpose for which it was sent. But we must be rigorously biblical in affirming what that purpose is. Jesus said that the function of the Old Testament was to testify about him and his saving work (John 5:40; Luke 24:44), and Paul stated that it is useful for teaching and training in righteousness, to make us wise for salvation and equipped for good works (II Tim 3:15-17). Again, there is nothing about teaching geology or biology. I prefer to not “add to the word” by claiming authority in areas where it does not assert authority.

      I am too occupied worshipping and following my risen Lord and savior to worry overly much about questions like whether there was a literal worldwide flood or not.

      I do explicitly point out the disinformation associated with young earth creationism, because this runs counter to Christian standards for integrity, and because thousands of Christian young people have their faith shaken and often lost when they take science classes in college and discover that their pastors and parents have not been telling them the truth about evolution. But I try to also explicitly acknowledge that the YE creationism proponents are acting from honorable underlying motives like wanting to uphold the authority of the Bible. I acknowledge them as my brothers in the Lord, even though I believe in some matters they are deeply mistaken and that their teaching causes harm to others. But, they would probably say the same about me.

      Paul wrote, ” For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17). There Paul was urging believers not to attack each other over differing opinions on matters of the Old Testament scriptures. This is advice worth heeding.

      I hope this helps answer your questions.
      Blessings…

      • JIM THINNSEN says:

        “I am too occupied worshipping and following my risen Lord and savior to worry overly much about questions like whether there was a literal worldwide flood or not.”

        THAN WHY DONT YOU BELIVE HIS WORDS? KIND OF STRANGE LOGIC.. HE IS YOUR LORD AND SAVIOUR AND YOU WORSHIP HIM, BUT OUT OF THE SAME MOUTH YOU CLAIM THAT HE IS WRONG ABOUT CREATION AND THE FLOOD OF NOAH BECAUSE YOU ARE MORE KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT THOSE SUBJECTS THAN JESUS IS,,,
        YOUR ARROGANCE IS INCREDIBLE..

        JESUS SAID: 4,“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE’?

        1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 HE CREATED THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.…

        JESUS DIDNT BELIEVE IN DARWINISM LIKE YOU DO!!! WHY DO YOU THINK THAT IS?
        IS JESUS MISTAKEN? LYING? IGNORANT?
        BUT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE CHUCK INSTEAD OF JESUS???

        JESUS SAID : …37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.…

        JESUS BELIEVED IN THE WORLD WIDE FLOOD OF NOAH.
        IS JESUS MISTAKEN? LYING? IGNORANT?
        BUT YOU WANT TO BELIEVE CHUCK INSTEAD OF JESUS???

        YOU HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED AND INDOCTRINATED IN TO BELIEVING SATAN’S GREAT LIE STRAIGHT FROM HELL… THE HYPOTHETICAL HYPOTHESIS OF MINDLESS MYO MUD TO MAN MYTH OF DARWINISM…

        THERE IS ZERO EMPIRICAL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE HYPOTHETICAL HYPOTHESIS OF CHUCKY.. NONE, ZILCH, ZIPPO, NADA..

        AND I THINK YOU KNOW IT,, snake in the grass…. and wolf in sheeps clothing

        did you also send out the Clergy Letter Project to everyone you know as well??

    • JIM THINNSEN says:

      100 PERCENT CORRECT! THANK YOU FOR POINTING IT OUT! ALL OF THE CHRISTIAN CULTS LIKE MORMONISM, JEHOVA’S WITNESSES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE, THEODARWINISTS (LIKE THIS GUY), ETC, HAVE THE SAME THEME AND ARE ALL VARIATIONS OF THE SAME THEME.. IT GOES LIKE THIS, JESUS AND HIS FATHER GOD THE CREATOR WERE EITHER LYING / IGNORANT / OR DELUDED ABOUT HOW AND HOW LONG IT TOO FOR THEIR CREATION / THE FLOOD OF NOAH / ETC.. DONT BE FOOLED, THESE WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING WILL HAVE TO ANSWER FOR THEIR DEEDS..

      JESUS SAID: 4,“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE’?

      1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 HE CREATED THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. 3When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.…

      JESUS SAID : …37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.…

      NOW, ACCORDING TO THESE ARROGANT FOOLS, JESUS DIDNT KNOW AS MUCH AS THEY DO, OR HE WAS LYING… AND THEY CALL THEMSELVES CHRISTIANS??
      7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return.

  3. Jim,
    If you actually took the words of Jesus seriously (e.g. Mat 5:22), you would not be making vicious accusations against a brother in Christ. I forgive you.

    Re evidence for evolution and an old earth– I don’t know if you are actually interested in the facts or not. If you are, you might start with https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/endogenous-retroviruses-in-your-genome-show-common-ancestry-with-primates/
    and https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/some-simple-evidences-for-an-old-earth/ .

    As for taking the words of Jesus literally, you might consider he often spoke in parables and used figurative language. Also, he was speaking to Jews who assumed the Old Testament to be literally true. In lovingly reaching people where they were, Paul (e.g. Acts 17) sometimes cited Greek poets as though they were valid. Jesus was not omniscient (Mat 24:36), and he gave up much of his divine prerogatives (Phil. 2:6-8) as he lowered himself to share in the human experience and to be tested in every way as us (Heb 4:15). Was Jesus “lying” when he called Herod a “fox” ( Luke 13:32 ), even though Herod was not a furry quadruped? By your logic, because Jesus called the mustard seed the smallest of all seeds (Mark 4:31) then we must deny that smaller seeds have been found. For all these reasons, it is not obvious to me or to millions of other confessing Christians that that Jesus’s statements on Noah, etc., are intended to teach geological history.

    I respect your underlying motivation to uphold the authority of God’s word. I would caution you, however, against falling into the error of the Pharisees of old. They, too, were concerned to honor God and the Scriptures. But their zeal was “not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2), and so they had a distorted notion of purposes of God. I Tim 3:15-17 defines the purposes of the Scriptures, and there is nothing there about teaching geology or biology.

    Hopefully we can respectfully agree to disagree on this issue.

    • Jim Thinnsen says:

      Not so fast Scott..

      You Claim..
      “As for taking the words of Jesus literally, you might consider he often spoke in parables and used figurative language.”

      Does THIS sound like a “Parable or “figurative language” to you? There are Names, Ages and Details VERY SPECIFIC details.. Clearly describing the Genesis Account.. Who should I Believe?? Atheists / Darwinists / You? (You all seem to be on the same team) Or God the Creator and his Son Jesus (Who WERE there during the Creation) … Hmmm Tough Choice for me….
      But more to the point How ARROGANT can YOU be??
      ===========================================================================
      JESUS SAID: 4,“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE’?
      1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 HE CREATED THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. 3When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.…
      =========================================================================

      AND
      Does THIS sound like a “Parable to you?
      ======================================================================——-
      JESUS SAID : …37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. 39And they were oblivious, until the flood came and swept them all away. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.…
      ==========================================================================
      He is SPECIFICALLY describing the Worldwide flood of Noah! With Names of REAL People..

      You DO realize that you have been brainwashed and indoctrinated into believing Satan’s Greatest lie from Hell.. Remember the Brief Moment of Candor from the Guru of “Evolution”

      ‘Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled ATHEIST”
      Richard Dawkins

      THERE IS ZERO EMPIRICAL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT THE HYPOTHETICAL HYPOTHESIS OF MINDLESS MYO MUD TO MAN MYTH OF ABIOGENESIS FOLLOWED BY DARWINISN COMMON ANCESTOR FOR ALL OF THE FLORA AND FAUNA THAT HAS EVER EXISTED..

      You give me ERVs? Like the “Junk DNA” Myth that was shot down in flames…
      It turned out that the only think that was “Junky” was man’s Inability to understand it..
      Here are 2 informative videos that DESTROY the myth of ERVs being Evidence for ANYTHING.
      I don’t know if you are actually interested in the facts or not. If you are, you might start with these.

      Here a Genomic Expert Destroys 2 Atheists/Darwinists who are reduced to Embarrassment..
      Do you think that YOU know more about the subject than Richard Sternberg?

      ERVs are said by evolutionists to be the DNA of viruses inserted into the genomes of many kinds of life. They claim that because many of these genetic sequences are shared or very similar between the various kinds of life, that it is evidence of the hereditary relatedness of all life. However, science has produced evidence that these sequences possess instructions which regulate the expression of genes which produce organisms during their developmental stages, code for proteins, regulate immune system functions, and a host of other functions in multicellular organisms with inter-cellular systems. This evidence destroys the claim that they are viral DNA and evidence of evolutionary heredity between all of the kinds of life. It is irrational to believe the DNA of a virus could possess the complex specified information for such functions in vastly more complex organisms, or that viral DNA could have been adapted for such functions in higher organisms. Evolutionism is not scientific, but is instead a religious dogma that has been forced into science and not both permeates and causes harm to all fields of science.

      I suggest that you take a step back and pray that God would remove the blinding scales from your eyes so you can see Clearly and snap out of your Brainwashed and Indoctrinated State…
      (Assuming that you are who you say you are and NOT just an Agent of Satan which I suspect you to be..

  4. Jim,
    You continue to ignore the obvious fact that Jesus continually made statements (typically without qualifying them) which, if taken literally, turn out to be untrue. In fact, “without a parable he did not speak to them. (Mark 4:34). His disciples were frequently puzzled by his utterances, (e.g. Mat 16:7, regarding the “yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees) and were relieved when he occasionally spoke “plainly, and using no figure of speech.” (John 16:29). Thus, if we take the witness of the gospels seriously, we should EXPECT that Jesus is normally speaking in figurative, illustrative, analogical terms when he tells or refers to a story, NOT that he intends the story to taken as literally true.

    The fact that Jesus referred to Noah as a specific person has no bearing on whether the Noah story is literally true. Jesus referred to Herod Antipas, a specific, historical figure, as a “fox” (Luke 13:32). Does that mean we must regard this tetrarch as a talking, robe-wearing, furry quadruped? No, because we have recourse to God-given other information (both biblical and extrabiblical) on Herod.

    When Jesus cleared the courts of the Temple in Jerusalem, saying “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market”, the Jews demanded a sign to prove his authority to do this. Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Note that their question had to do with his actions regarding the physical Temple, and they were presumably standing there looking at that specific Temple, located in time and space right there. Obviously, he must be referring to that literal Temple. That is what the Jews thought, and that is where your logic leads. But, as usual, he was speaking in figurative terms: “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (2:21).

    In the course of telling the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus makes a blanket, apparently factual statement that the mustard seed is “smaller than all the seeds on earth.” (Mk 4:31). As I see it, the point of this parable was not to make a statement about botany, but to illustrate the growth of the kingdom of God from small beginnings. Thus, I can make use of the God-given extrabiblical evidence to assess whether Jesus’s statement about seed sizes is literally true or not. And that is what I and millions of Christians do with the other statements of Jesus which seem to bear on the physical world, including Noah, the Flood, and human origins.

    For any given saying, I don’t presume to know a priori whether Jesus was speaking literally or otherwise, so I try make use of all the God-given information available, including the evidence of His created physical universe. You, on the other hand, with no good justification, claim God-like certainty that certain verses MUST be literal, to the extent that you repeatedly slander a brother in Christ. So who is being “arrogant” here?

    Jesus’ hearers would be familiar with the Noah story, so it was a wise choice to draw on this story with all its vivid details (“…they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away”) as an illustration of the suddenness of the Second Coming. To obsess over whether the Flood actually occurred is to completely miss the point of Jesus’ teaching, on a par with obsessing over whether there was a literal Good Samaritan.

    But was there actually a global deluge 4500 years ago which killed nearly all but two of every terrestrial animal and deposited most of the sedimentary rock layers? For reasons discussed above, the default assumption should be that Jesus is using this story for its analogical value, not because it is literally true. And it is straightforward to look at the God-given evidence of the rock layers themselves and see that such a global Flood did not in fact occur. Therefore, the Noah story is not literally true (unless you subscribe to an elaborate appearance-of-age deception theory). Regardless of your attempt at literary analysis, Jesus’s use of this detailed story does not mean that it actually happened, any more than his telling of the narrative of the Good Samaritan as though it were true means that that episode actually occurred. Note that the Good Samaritan story (Luke 10:30-36) is likewise rife with details, including a specific geographical location.

    The geologists of Europe, most of them confessing Christians, figured out by 1840 that the rock layers showed a very old earth, not a young earth shaped by a global flood. I gave you a link above showing multiple, straightforward lines of evidence on the age of the earth. I am not going to argue that with you here, since you evidently have no interest in facts that do not agree with your opinions; if you think you have evidence of a recent creation and global Flood, feel free to submit a paper on this at the next meeting of the American Geological Association. They do allow input by young earth creationists.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Regarding endogeneous retroviruses (ERVs) – if you had any interest in the facts you would have read the link I gave you above (again: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/endogenous-retroviruses-in-your-genome-show-common-ancestry-with-primates/ , which has links and references for the facts I discuss below
    ), realized that it addressed and refuted the main points in those two videos, and not wasted your time and mine to link those videos.

    The Comments Policy on this blog is: “Comments are expected to relate to the post topic and to reflect the commenter’s own thoughts or questions (no links to other sites or videos). Abusive tirades will be disallowed.” I made exceptions for you so far regarding abusive tirades, and will make a further exception for the two videos you just linked to, since it is an opportunity to illustrate the depths of deception to which young earth (YE) creationists will stoop. Let’s start with the facts, then call out some of the falsehoods in the first video.

    Viruses work by introducing their RNA or DNA into a host cell, and hijacking the host cell’s genetic machinery to start making more copies of the virus. Some viruses, called “retroviruses”, do this by having their RNA transcribed into DNA, which then gets inserted into the cell’s DNA genome. (This is considered “retro”, because normally in a cell DNA is transcribed into RNA, not the other way around). The HIV virus that causes AIDS is an example of a retrovirus. Once the virus’s DNA has been integrated into the host’s DNA, the viral genome is known as a prototype retrovirus, or provirus.

    A virus may end up killing its host, or it may cause little damage. Various types of cells in an animal’s body can become infected with viruses. Most of us have experienced the common cold, where the virus thrives in the cells lining the respiratory tract. In some cases, a virus can infect a cell in the “germ line”. Germ line cells include the egg and sperm, as well as cells that produce the egg and sperm. If a retrovirus inserts its genetic load into a germ line cell of an animal, this viral DNA will then be passed down to all descendants of that animal, appearing as an “endogenous” retrovirus (ERV) in their genomes.

    If that animal happened to be a common ancestor to two or more future species, all of these species would show this ERV at the same place in their genome, i.e. in orthologous (homologous) locations. Genomes mutate over time, and sometimes whole chunks of DNA get moved around, but there is generally enough genetic context to determine whether a location is homologous among the various primates. The ERVs themselves accumulate mutations that make them non-infectious, and further degrade them with time. Nevertheless, thousands of ERVs retain enough genetic identity to be clearly identified in the human genome.

    The genetic signature of a retrovirus in the genome is very distinctive. ERVs have common features such as the genes that code for the viral coat protein and for the reverse transcriptase that copies the viral RNA genome into DNA. The ERV DNA codes for three groups of proteins, known as “gag” (matrix, capsid, nucleoproteins), “pol“ (protease, reverse transcriptase, RNaseH, dUTPase, integrase) and “env” (subunit and transmembrane). This genetic core is flanked by long terminal repeats (LTR) sections. Finally, when the retrovirus tears open the host genome for insertion, some of the torn original host DNA is recopied on either side of the viral insert.
    These distinctive features make it relatively straightforward to search through the human genome sequence and identify ERVs. At least 275 full-length ERV’s can be observed. These ERVs are relatively recent (e.g. last ten million years) arrivals to the primate genomes. Older ERVs tend to get chopped up by the usual shuffling of genomes over time. About 200,000 entities in human DNA, constituting a full 8% of the genome, have been identified as being ERVs or chunks of ERV’s. Most of these chunks are solitary LTRs. [cf. Lander, et al. (2001) and Seifarth, et al. (2005) ].

    All human ERV’s except for one are found in all humans, indicating that they entered the ancestral human genome before Homo sapiens became a distinct species. The exception is in the HERV-K(HML2) family. By examining the DNA from a diverse set of people, Belshaw, et al. identified 113 elements of the HERV-K(HML2) family in the human genome. Most of these elements occur in all people. However, at least 8, and perhaps 11, of these elements are insertionally polymorphic – – some human individuals have the insertion while other individuals have the empty, preinsertion site. This shows that this virus family has been transcriptionally active within the age span of the human race.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Studies show that retroviruses have certain preferred regions in the genome for insertion, but there are tens of thousands of available sites within these regions. Thus, a given retrovirus may insert randomly in any one of more than ten thousand sites along the 3-billion-base-pair-long human DNA chain. Similarly, a given retrovirus can insert in more than ten thousand sites in a chimpanzee genome.

    To assess the implications of this, let’s start by considering a very simple case, where only one ERV insertion was found in both humans and chimpanzees. Suppose further that this particular retrovirus which we will call retrovirus A could randomly insert in any one of 10,000 locations in the human genome, and also in the same 10,000 locations in the matching chromosomes of chimpanzees. If retrovirus A integrated into an the genome of an ancestral chimp, and in a separate infection event also endogenized into the DNA of an ancestral human, there would be a 0.01% ( 1 /10,000) chance that the resulting ERV A would be found in the same location in both species.
    Now, let’s extend this thought experiment to having two shared ERVs. If both species were independently infected with retrovirus B as well as with retrovirus A, the probability is only 1/100,000,000 that virus B, as well as virus A, would happen to end up in matching sites in humans and in chimps. This would constitute very strong evidence that these ERVs did not arrive at their locations through random, independent infection events in humans and in chimps. A more reasonable explanation is that humans and chimps both descend from a common ancestor, whose genome suffered the insertion of these two viruses in these two locations.

    Moving now to the actual situation, there are at least 100,000 ERV insertions found in the same locations in humans and in chimps. There is essentially no chance that all these identical insertion points could have occurred by independent insertion events in the two lineages. Again, this shows that these insertions occurred in ancestors which are common to both humans and chimpanzees.

    This is such powerful evidence for the common ancestry of humans and chimps that that first video resorts to outright lying to deny it. At about the 3 minute mark, this video displays the following text:

    “ 14 of the 98,000 human “ERV”s are in the same location in the chimpanze genome (0.00014%). This means that 99.99986% are not in the same location! “

    [“chimpanzee” is misspelled in the original]

    A literature reference is given for this statement to lend it credibility: “ Robert Belshaw; Pereira V; Katzourakis A; Talbot G; Paces J, Burt A; Tristem M. (Apr 2004). “Long-term reinfection of the human genome by endogenous retroviruses ‘ ”

    This is all a gross falsehood. That Belshaw, et al. article has nothing to do with comparing chimp and human genomes; the chimp genome was not even published until more than a year after that article. Neither that article, nor any other recent academic publication, states that only 14 human ERVs are in the same locations as chimp ERVs. Such outright lying demonstrates the desperate lengths to which YE creationists will go in order to evade the plain implications of the scientific evidence.

    As discussed in Three Layers of Endogenous Retroviral Evidence for the Evolutionary Model, there are two broad approaches to comparing the genomes of two different species. One is to examine variations in insertions and deletions (“indels”), while the other is to analyze the whole genome. The “Three Layers” article describes these analyses in moderate detail. The conclusions from both approaches is the same: “Less than 100 ERVs are human-specific and less than 300 ERVs are chimpanzee-specific.” Thus, out of some 200,000 ERVs in the human genome, “The percentage of ERVs in identical loci is greater than 99.9%.” In other words, nearly all of the many thousands of ERVs in the human genome occur in the same locations in the chimpanzee genome.

    There are a few exceptions to this co-location of human and chimp ERVs, i.e. there are a few ERV families that appear in one species but not the other. For instance, out of 42 families of ERVs in chimps, 40 appear in the orthologous positions in the human genome and 2 do not. [Polavarapu, et al, “Identification, characterization and comparative genomics of chimpanzee endogenous retroviruses” 2006 ]. This is to be expected, since human and chimp lineages diverged some 6 million years ago. That is plenty of time for a few new ERV families to be introduced independently to humans and to chimps, or for some previously-shared ERVs to be lost from humans or from chimps due to well-known genetic processes such as genetic drift and incomplete lineage sorting. Anyone interested in understanding the scientific explanations of cases such as PtERV1 can google the subject. The video claims that there are no good scientific explanations for these cases, but that is another lie.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    The final topic I’ll cover here is the genetic functionality which has been observed for some fragments of ERVs in the human genome. The video makes a big deal about this, and you picked this up and wrote above:
    “ It is irrational to believe the DNA of a virus could possess the complex specified information for such functions in vastly more complex organisms, or that viral DNA could have been adapted for such functions in higher organisms. “

    This statement demonstrates deep ignorance of molecular biology. The DNA associated with retroviruses started out as functional genetic material, including the protein-coding gag, pol, and env genes, and the LTRs, which are rich in promoters. So even small portions of these ERV sequences can have various effects on the human genome, e.g. in modifying (“regulating”) the expression of existing human genes. Indeed, the effects that have been documented to date do not involve the entire viral function, but only small portions of the ERV doing mainly regulation.

    As these chunks of DNA get inserted at various spots in the human genome, they can have various effects on the human metabolism. Some of these effects are bad, and some are good.

    The human genome is moderately tolerant towards mutations. At each generation, we inherit about 50 new mutations compared to our parents’ DNA, distinct from the usual allele rearrangement. If a generation is about 30 years, compared to people 3000 years ago each one of us has about 5000 mutations in our DNA. Often, these mutations are fatal. About 40% of fertilized eggs end up being spontaneously aborted as miscarriages, due in part to genetic defects. Of the babies who survive through birth, about 3% have genetic disorders such as congenital heart disease. However, the rest of us get along fairly well, and all the genetic shuffling occasionally produces a genius like Einstein, or a modified gene which gives resistance to cardiovascular disease.

    If the insertion of a retrovirus in a particular spot in some human’s genome gave a very bad effect, that human would die without reproducing, and that particular genome would not be promulgated. However, sometimes the effects of the ERV are just moderately bad, producing disorders which are not immediately fatal. For instance, ERVs in humans have been tied to a number of cancers, including Hodgkin’s lymphoma, melanoma, and bladder and breast cancer. ERVs are also implicated in a number of autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. (For more information see Katoh and Kurata, “Association of Endogenous Retroviruses and Long Terminal Repeats with Human Disorders“, 2013 ).

    On the good side, the proteins expressed from the env genes of several retroviruses embedded in the human genome help with the development of the placenta. (See here
    http://barryhisblog.blogspot.com/p/ervs-are-essential-in-reproduction.html for discussion of how the function of these genes in the human genome are similar to the function of these genes in the native retrovirus).

    Also, many LTRs have retained regulatory activity, and have landed close to genes where they can influence the expression of proteins from those genes. Over 100 LTRs have been demonstrated to help control transcription of human genes, and several thousand other LTRs could potentially have that function as well.

    The original viral replication functions of the ERVs found in humans have been disabled by mutations. The functionalities which now observed for human ERVs are general what would be expected for some 200,000 quasi-random insertions of chunks of DNA into the genome over tens of millions of years: most ERVs have no known effort, some cause genetic disorders, and some have useful interactions with the rest of the genome.

    Young Earth (YE) creationists point to these instances of functionality as evidence that ERVs were purposefully placed in the genome by God when He created the first humans a few thousand years ago. However, ERVs bear all the marks of having come from functioning viruses. For many ERVs, we can recognize all or nearly all of the components of a retrovirus (viral gag, pol, and env genes, LTR sections, etc.), which would have the capacity to integrate into the genome if they had not been disabled by additional mutations. Even the plain LTRs are distinctive.

    Another sign that ERVs were actual insertions is the duplication of some original DNA on either side of the ERV, as discussed above.

    Moreover, if endogenous retroviruses were divinely-created portions of Adam’s DNA, all humans would possess the same set of ERVs. But HERV-K shows that this is not the case: for several instances of this ERV family, some people have them in their genomes, and some have the empty pre-insertion site. This shows that retroviruses are in fact inserted into human genomes to form ERVs.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~~ ~~ ~ ~ ~

    I could go on and expose further errors in this video, but I have other things to do. The second video is fine – it shows that the evolutionist debaters were unaware that some ERVs in the human genome have genetic function there, but as discussed above that has no bearing on whether these are actually inserted ERVs or not.

    It is a tedious, endless business to keep up with all the falsehoods put forth by YE creationists, so I think we are done here. I wish you well.

  5. Pingback: Jack Chick and the Real Halloween Scare | Veracity

  6. daniel marsh says:

    Years ago I confronted Jack Chick on his tract called Big Daddy because his sources could not be verified. He got so mad that he sore at me. I noticed that He removed all the outdated references in 2008 to use some guy that is uneducated. Can someone dig up his old Big
    Daddy tract and post those sources in your magazine challenging his followers to produce the documentation He used.

    Thanks,
    Daniel Marsh

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  8. Pingback: Listing of Articles on Science, Faith and Other | Letters to Creationists

  9. Amelia says:

    Thank you for this excellent article.

    I am currently teaching my -home schooled- children about evolution and this week we’re looking at creationism versus more reasonable, scientific interpretations of the Bible.

    Your article and the one you linked to are wonderfully helpful.

    Thank you.

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