Sunday, 29 July 2012

Noah's Ark and Biogeography

One cannot argue about the empirical in a vacuum; otherwise the claims will be ad hoc and unsubstantiated. When Jerry Coyne mentioned in a talk about biogeography not having a good account under creation, the Youtuber GreenSlug decided to take Jerry Coyne to task.

The response is not pretty in terms of its understanding of biogeography - in the end he frames it as a problem of migration for both evolution and creation. Even if this were the case (obviously there's migration), the reason why biogeography is such good evidence for evolution is the patterns of distribution. The question of why there are placental mammals and marsupials that are near identical in their appearance and evolutionary niche, but that marsupials are only found near other marsupials, is easily explained by evolutionary theory but has no reason as to why it should be so under Creation.

Yet GreenSlugg claims to have an answer: "biogeography makes perfect sense in light of creation: Noah". This is the problem of arguing in a vacuum. How does it make "perfect sense" exactly? Not through having any reason for any particular patterns just to be the way they are as arguing for migration post flood doesn't explain any patterns the way they are. How did flightless birds get to New Zealand but not any land mammals? How did Australia and South America end up with all the marsupials (and very different marsupials at that)?

GreenSlugg invoked land bridges for the animals to cross. In addition to the absurdity of why it is that certain morphologically-related animals all went in a similar direction, there's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that such land bridges even existed - let alone that's the way it happened. He hasn't explained anything other than to create a "just so" account with an implausible mechanism with no regard for any actual evidence. If it makes "perfect sense", it's because there's no trying to marry evidence with the hypothesis. It's junk speculation!

Yet to think about the kind of answer that GreenSlugg gives, it's a problem of trying to marry a natural account with a miracle. If he's just trying to say it's not impossible to see how a Creation account could handle biogeography, there are a lot of easier ways to do it. The Creator could have moved the animals to where the Creator desired, with no need to say there were land bridges. The Creator could have created all the species after the flood without any need to account for migration. The Creator, once you grant a miracle, could do anything to make the patterns how we see it now. It's why invoking a Creator is a bad explanation.

I don't see any need to try to make a supernatural account otherwise plausible, as the supernatural account is still going to be the sticking point. Instead of just saying "God did it the way God did it because God did it that way" (i.e. a miracle), it's God did it plus a lot of ad hoc claims that have no more validity than just invoking a miracle. Is there some veneer of plausibility that comes from trying to include a naturalistic framework around a supernatural? I don't see the point!

A good explanation is one that can be falsified; it's one that gives reasons for why things are the way they are, and why they are not the way they aren't. A bad explanation is one that can easily be modified to fit the data however it is. To say that Creation can explain biogeography would mean that the account of Creation would have to be able to sit closely with the evidence. Otherwise any attempt to say Creation can account for the pattern of evidence is trivial - there's nothing in the account that even tries.

The real absurdity in all this is supposing that Noah's Ark is literal history to begin with; that a grown man even tries to undertake a reconciliation between myth and history is pathetic. There was no global flood, there was no single point of radiation of life, and the Genesis account of the global flood is not meant to be taken as science. All else that follows is mistaken on that error, though it was interesting to see the failure in reason that such a pitiful "defence" offered.

1 comment:

Bill Raybar said...

Excellent points. Just say god moved the animals to where he wanted them and be done with it. Cut out the Spurious claims. People like this confuse the ideas of 'could have', 'probably' and 'did' happen... I.e. they confuse possibility and probability. There could have been land bridges. The sorting of fossils in the rocks could be due to god using his powers to flood the earth and keep trilobites away from all human bodies and artifacts. I could be an alien. Hell, I could be satan. But of course there is no reason to believe these things. Anything is possible when we ascribe consciousness to the forces of nature. God wanted the speed of light to change. See I can make anything appear to be god caused. Yet with no potential falsification there is no reason to believe it... Just faith.