I shouldn’t need to tell you about the recent creationist trouble in Korea. But if you don’t know, Nature has the lowdown: South Korea surrenders to creationist demands.
The Institute has reacted surprisingly swiftly. Today’s Creation Science Update, by Christine Dao (who we haven’t heard from in some time), claims instead that South Korea Moves to Correct Textbook Errors. Because you see…
Science gained a victory when South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced last month that textbook publishers will correct editions that contain misinformation regarding evolution. The push for the corrections is being led by the Society for Textbook Revise. Nature reported that the revisions will remove “examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx.”
Now how is this a ‘victory for science’ when changes are being forced through via textbooks? If decisions are being made in this manner – without the consultation of biologists I might add – then no matter who were in the right this would still be a defeat for science. This is not how science is done.
Zoologist and Institute for Creation Research senior lecturer Frank Sherwin said that statement isn’t entirely accurate. “Archaeopteryx has always been Archaeopteryx,” he said. “It didn’t evolve. Paleontologists have unearthed a total of 11 of these specimens, and most agree it was of a single species. So, where’s the evolution?”
This article may be technically written by Dao, but much of it is actually Sherwin quotes. What’s interesting about these 11 specimens is that there are in fact many differences between them (although this may perhaps be explained by different ages of the birds). Given anyway that all taxonomic classifications above the species level are arbitrary I fail to see what he’s driving at anyway: why would it matter how many Archaeopteryx species there were?
Mr. Sherwin, co-author of The Fossil Record with geologist and ICR president Dr. John Morris, recently wrote an Acts & Facts article with ICR science writer Brian Thomas that stated:
I covered that article just a couple of days ago. The quote given here is:
The idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds is also misleading. The poster child of Darwinian change is Archaeopteryx, an alleged link via therapod dinosaurs between reptiles and birds. However, unlike dinosaurs, Archaeopteryx had a large braincase for the increased motor control and sensory input that were required for flight. Theropods had a lizard-like pelvis that was distinct from a bird’s frame. Furthermore, Archaeopteryx had a robust furcula (wishbone), a trait characteristic of strong fliers—one that keeps flight muscles from crushing the bird’s delicate internal air sacs. No evidence supports the story that such fully formed wings with fused clavicles “evolved from” the tiny, clavicle-free theropod forelimbs. Even claw measurements of Archaeopteryx fall within the range of true perching birds [A. Feduccia]. It was a bird without a single transitional feature.
Well, if we are talking about erros here I’ll remind you that the fused clavicle claim is demonstrably false – many theropods also had this feature and their version is much closer to that of the Archaeopteryx than said bird’s is to modern birds – as are many of the other claims in the above paragraph.
Mr. Sherwin also said that the removal of horse evolution from textbooks is good for science, especially in light of a 2009 study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that called for “revising the recent evolutionary history of equids [animals including horses, zebras, and donkeys] using ancient DNA.”
Again, I have serious issues with the “good for science” claim here. But as for this 2009 study – the name of which is actually Revising the recent evolutionary history of equids using ancient DNA, the full text of which is available at that link – Creationists in general and Sherwin in particular seem incapable of telling the difference between ‘revisions’ and ‘everything we know is wrong.’
“‘Horse evolution’ has fallen upon very bad times,” Mr. Sherwin said. “Consider this: Many specimens placed as separate species are actually variations of the same species. That team of 22 international researchers found that for evolution to be true as taught in textbooks, there had to be sudden bursts of diversification—Cambrian-like explosions within the horse family. That’s contrary to Charles Darwin’s prohibition of great and sudden leaps.”
What “prohibition” is this – and why should we care? Evolution has moved on from Darwin, you know.
He continued, “Reading the research, one concludes these animals suddenly appeared in the fossil record without the expected gradual evolutionary transitions. Horses then appeared quickly all over the world. Finally, as expected by creation scientists, the skeletal features of fossil horses do not match up with the molecular data (ancient DNA) that they studied.”
Wait, why is that what creationists would think? Where does their barimonological whatsit predict it? Doesn’t the fact that “many specimens placed as separate species are actually variations of the same species” mean that we have a quite fine-grained picture of horse evolution? And aren’t all of these animals all part of the horse ‘kind’ anyway? The mysteries mount.
Students, whether in South Korea or other parts of the world, deserve the best education their countries can offer them. Correcting inaccuracies in textbooks is an important step in the right direction.
Not really. Textbooks contain many perfectly innocuous inaccuracies, from that aeroplane thing to the claim that tounge-rolling is a good example of mendelian genetics (or even genetic at all). It doesn’t really matter – indeed, time spent removing them is probably mostly time wasted.
But more to the topic at hand, the NCSE reports that an organisation similar in some ways to their own is desperately needed and is being organised. (They also claim that the “Society for Textbook Revise” is better referred to as the “Committee to Revise Evolution In Textbooks,” and is an “independent offshoot of the Korea[n] Association for Creation Research,” which seems to be nothing to do with – but far more powerful than – the ICR. [ED: It would seem that the KACR is actually something to do with the ICR, having been set up by them in the early 80's.]) We’ll see how this plays out over time.