Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Hovind hasn't earned the title of 'Dr. Dino' (2a of 5)

In Part 1 of this series, I described why Kent Hovind's 'doctoral dissertation' doesn't even qualify as one, from its own admission of not being original research, to exposing the school that issued it as being highly dubious indeed. If you haven't read it already, please do.
` This time, I'm taking on Chapter 1, in which Hovind officially begins his paranoid ranting and misrepresentation of science, culture, religion and history. My favorite part is where he says that Noah's flood destroyed every living thing on earth during the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt.
` That particular detail, however, will have to wait until Part 2b. As you may have noticed, this post is Part 2a of 5. It seems that Chapter 1 divides nicely into three fairly equal pieces, which I am now working with one at a time. It's much easier, both on me and my readers.

Also, I would like to address some criticisms:

I've been given quite a hard time for wasting my time and talent on shredding apart what is so obviously unworthy of anyone's attention in the first place. After all, attention for being obnoxious is what these young-earth creationist proponents want, and I'm giving it in spades.

Why do I bother to beat this dead horse instead of write about something my readers would actually care about? It's not as though I would expect to convince any of Kent Hovind's fans that there may be something fundamentally wrong with his fundamentalist claims.
` Even more, there's nothing at all challenging about this task other than putting a lot of time and effort into keeping myself busy with it. If I want to impress someone with my writing, then I should pick a topic that actually requires work in order to figure it out.

So, why am I doing this? Because really, I just need the exercise. It's straightforward and not intimidating, and I think it's good practice for me to go through the motions without the pressure of having to make a difference in the world.
` In other words, I'm too lazy to be creative, original, or helpful to anyone but the very few who actually care about how mentally ill Hovind may be.

Most of all, one might think that if I am doing this for the benefit of my Arch-Rival in Taking Over the World, then I'm only shooting myself in the foot. I disagree:
` While I'm taking all this trouble to write this series, he will probably conclude that this immense sea of writing only demonstrates that Hovind is somehow a formidable opponent and that therefore he instead must have some intellectual worth.

After all, Kent Hovind -- while he is in federal prison at present -- has nevertheless gotten rich and successful, unlike me. Who's actually 'made it' in life -- someone who has a career, or some random blogger?
` Furthermore, who am I to criticize someone who makes a living off of telling outrageous lies so he can get attention like some spoiled brat? Never mind about his fake degree -- what credentials do I have?

To answer that, I'm currently working on my transfer degree to get to a four-year university, and that will be more qualification than Kent Hovind has ever earned, as I have previously mentioned.
` I've taken classes in biology, oceanography, and other sciences, and have read a great deal about evolution and other topics of whose principles Hovind has never demonstrated having even the most basic grasp.

So really, is this all just to make myself feel superior to some rich person who acts like an idiot? Is writing this series actually about how ignorant or dishonest I can expose someone else to be in order to stroke my own ego?
` Not really -- to me, this is a way that I can share my laughter at such utter mental retardation to anyone who cares to hear it. It's genuinely a form of (depressing) entertainment for me, so why not show the world how funny/sad Kent Hovind's ravings are?
` The best part is, it requires that I reserve my effort for where it really matters in life right now -- working and studying hard. Priorities, you know?

Of course, writing something more timely and important may also further my career, so what is my excuse for playing silly games instead of working?
` I admit that I don't have one, other than to develop my mad debunking skillz, as well as to invoke the Sunk Cost Fallacy by saying I spent so much time in May working on it that I'd really just love to finish maiming/glorifying Hovind's paranoid ranting.

If this lame excuse is not satisfactory to my readers, especially if you're the type who is so traumatized by the pain of listening to Hovind's abject nonsense that you never want to hear his name again (this isn't hypothetical, I know such people), just know that I'm only going to do this once and only once. And I'm gonna do it good.

So, I should really be getting on with Part 2a already, and I would like to point out first that throughout this dissertation, Hovind shows signs of insecurity by frequently using words such as 'clearly', 'definitely' and 'obviously' in almost every point he makes.
` It seems to imply that if you can't 'clearly' see it, then you're 'obviously' stupid. I can 'clearly' see why Hovind would have to resort to this form of bullying, because in the very first sentence, he demonstrates that he seems to have no clue about what evolutionary theory is:


(Section A: Bastardizing Science)

This is really the first sentence:
Where in the world did the idea come from that things left to themselves can improve with time? Who would start a crazy idea like that?
Oh, I know! Creationists would! In this way, they make those who accept evolution look 'crazy'! In reality, of course, biological evolution is quite different:
` The theory of evolution is based on the idea that species adapt to their habitat at the time they are alive. As evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould phrased it, evolution is not a watchmaker, but a short-order cook.
` Because of this, there is no clear 'progress' toward any specific goal, but rather only change through allele frequencies. Unlike wine and cheese, species are not expected to 'improve' over time according to some subjective criterion or human taste.

It sure would be 'crazy' if people who study evolution thought it to be progressive -- now, wouldn't it? -- and that's why Hovind claims they do.

The theory of evolution only predicts that species will adapt, which is the only thing a lineage can do to keep itself from going extinct in the face of any environmental challenge. Evolution does not plan ahead, nor strive for any particular goal; in general, changes occur because they are necessary in the immediate environment.
` This concept is as basic to evolution as the concept that 'molecules are made up of atoms' is to chemistry, so right here it is obvious that Hovind is not displaying any actual knowledge of what evolutionary theory actually is. And it goes on and on this way:
This idea is the opposite of everything that we observe in the world today.
Darn right it is, and 'evolutionists' completely agree on that point.
For instance, all the highways in our nation today left to themselves decay, deteriorate, and fall apart. A house left to itself will become a wreck. It takes work and constant planning to make anything improve. Everything tends toward disorder. The first and second laws of thermodynamics are well established scientific laws that have never been observed in the universe to be broken.
I've explained to my Arch-Rival before, in some detail, why this makes zero sense -- it is a false analogy. To reiterate here, the sun is constantly adding energy to the earth, which allows the level of entropy to decrease in the earth's ecosystems.
` Although life forms can reliably grow, develop, organize and create new individuals without breaking the second law of thermodynamics, billions of years from now the sun will be so hot that it will boil the oceans from the earth and eventually explode, destroying the only planet we've ever lived on (so far).
` In other words, entropy is still the ultimate result, but until then, life will continue to grow and decay in roughly equal amounts.

Living things are not like highways or houses because they can repair themselves, increase in size, eat each other and produce many more individuals. These individuals can only do their best at competing/cooperating in the world because, as the earth turns, the sun is ceaselessly and evenly replenishing the ecosystems.
` This continuing input of energy is the only requirement necessary for evolution: as long as organisms can keep living and reproducing, their genes will continue to change -- occasionally at a very noticeable rate (i.e. new species evolving before our eyes), which I may get into later in this series.

As I've also mentioned to the Arch-Rival, genomes can increase the number of genes they contain, as in gene duplication yes, there is such a thing, which can cause new genes to evolve; one noteable example is the gene that codes for the antifreeze protein in the Antarctic eelpout. The gene has a new function, yet it comes from a frame-shift mutation in an un-needed copy of another gene with a different job.
` In other words, genomes don't degenerate. They can lose genes, but they also make new genes. I'd go on with other examples, but it seems most appropriate to stick with Kent's insanity about the laws of thermodynamics:
The first law says that matter cannot be created nor destroyed by ordinary means.
Actually, it doesn't. It states only that energy is conserved, and as we know today, matter and energy are interchangeable. The "by ordinary means" bit is also not a part of this law.
` Scientists don't say, "this happens, but only without God!", which is what Hovind seems to be suggesting. Physicists actually say, "this happens", and whether or not God is involved is left out because that is unanswerable by science.
` This comment rather seems to reveal Hovind's belief that there is indeed a way around physical laws, similar to his belief that there is a way around tax laws.
We do not see anything being created today, and yet we do see an entire universe of created material. This clearly indicates a Creator.
Clearly? Or perhaps this is all semantics; first, he's saying the universe was 'created', in order to imply such creation was deliberate. Just as easily, we could use another word, like 'formed', which doesn't imply the universe came about on purpose.

So, what caused the universe? We may be led to expect an answer to this question because we exist inside of time. Time began when our universe began, so our familiar concept of cause and effect would not apply.
` In other words, cause-and-effect can only work if there's already something to work with. If there isn't anything to work with, then it happened another way, and that's a way no one knows about.

All that physicists know is that the galaxies are flying away from one another because space is expanding, and if you turn back the clock 13.7 billion years, all of space would have been a singularity.
` Although the Big Bang is understood in minute detail only fractions of a second after its occurrence, the gist of it is that early on, all of space was filled with white-hot luminous matter before it cooled and the light 'turned off'.
` This same light is still streaming through the universe, although it's thinned a lot because the universe continues to expand. It's not visible to human eyes, however, because the expansion of space has stretched it from the visible spectrum into longer-wave light.

This universe-wide flash near the beginning of our universe was accidentally discovered in 1964 by Penzias and Wilson, a physicist and astronomer pair who had just built the then-most sensitive radio antenna/receiver system in the world.
` Although this radiation was predicted in 1948, Penzias and Wilson did not think of it when their machine picked up some 'noise' they did not expect. After ruling out all other sources of radiation, such as New York City -- as well as shooting some pigeons who had been depositing 'white dielectric material' in the horn antenna -- they concluded that it must be coming from somewhere else.

The echoes of this flash -- called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation because it is strongest in the microwave spectrum -- is being mapped in great detail by progressively more advanced satellites. For example, here's what the WMAP shows us:

As you can see, these glowing particles were not entirely evenly-distributed, but rather lumpy, which would be just what one would expect if galaxies were to have a way to form via gravity becoming stronger in some regions and pulling material together.

Just how that expanding singularity 'happened' in the first place is still a mystery, but it may not always be as long as scientists don't throw up their hands and say, "I give up, therefore Goddidit!"

Moving on, Hovind also implies in this passage that it's impossible for anything at all to create matter, with only one possible exception; God, and presumably not any other deities, either.
` Of course, human beings use particle accelerators to hurl particles around and smash them into one another, which can create matter through the ordinary rules of cause-and-effect -- it's called pair production.

Thermonuclear bombs do the same thing, of course, as does the sun, to the extreme! In this process, one particle has a positive charge and the other has an equal-but-opposite negative charge -- in other words, a matter particle and an antimatter particle.
` Thus, their energy level is the same as the level before they were formed. However, antimatter is rare (although enough of it orbits the earth to be used as fuel according to this Astrophysics Journal article) because most types of antimatter tend to annihilate one another.
` Although annihilation produces a lot of energy, it leaves behind the same total amount of energy because one is positive and one is equally and oppositely negative. I've always pictured this as sort of like taking a string (energy) and tying it into a knot (particles) and then untying the string again.

So, while this doesn't break any laws of physics, it does demonstrate that unlike what Hovind asserts, matter is ordinarily created every day.

The particle accelerator experiments help physicists figure out how matter was formed in the Big Bang, although they don't tell us where this energy that turned into matter came about to begin with, or why more matter hasn't been annihilated by antimatter.
` That mystery (and perhaps the missing antimatter) lies outside the universe and its laws of cause-and-effect, and remains to be solved.
` It is this mystery, and not cause and effect, that Hovind seems to be referring to -- the universe is here and no one knows why.

Scientists who ask this question do experiments to try to figure it out; they want to learn the answer because they don't know. It should be fairly obvious to anyone that not knowing the answer means that you don't know the answer -- therefore you still don't know!
` To say you have the answer when you really don't is a logical fallacy called Argument From Ignorance. So, if someone says, "I don't know how to explain that, therefore it's evidence of ghosts/aliens/Goddiddit" the only thing that tells you is that individual's personal beliefs.

And one more important point (yes, there's more); figuring out where the universe comes from is the realm of physicists and cosmologists, not biologists. The origin of the universe has nothing to do with biological evolution, although there are concepts which use the name 'evolution', such as 'stellar evolution', which describes how stars change over time.

Stellar evolution is the process of gravity causing gases and dust to collapse into stars and planets, which explains why they are round, and why they move the way they do. Later, when all the star's fuel is spent, it no longer has the energy to prevent its further compression and blows itself apart into a different phase, such as a red dwarf or neutron star.
` If it is massive enough, it becomes a singularity, called a black hole, which can be seen like a cosmic version of the Tasmanian Devil character from Looney Tunes, occasionally tearing apart other objects in a very bright and violent mess.
` Stellar physics has nothing to do with biological evolution because stars are not living things and are not subject to genetic variability and natural selection. In this case, the word 'evolution' refers to the changes of a single star over its 'lifetime', in the same way that 'lifetime' here means 'as long as it lasts' rather than 'as long as it is alive'.

I think that's more than enough of my interjections -- let's move on to Hovind's next paragraph:
There are people in the world today who wish to avoid the concept of God. They do not like the idea of a God telling them what to do. Therefore, they have come up with the most dangerous, damnable doctrine every [sic] imagined, evolution.
It is easy to see why there is literally no logic to this statement: If somebody already doesn't believe in a certain deity, then why would they care if that deity wants them to behave a certain way, any more than a believer in that deity would take a different one seriously?
` There's no more empirical evidence for Zeus or Thor than there is for the Christian concept of God, so why would atheists (or deists, for that matter) be compelled to believe it exists, much less 'wish to avoid' it? (I suppose there are some rebels out there, but they seem to be in the minority of atheists.)

Also, something I recall from my Philosophy of Religion class (taught by a devout Christian): If biblical morality is moral because God says it is -- as in "Thou shalt not kill" -- then God can say that killing is immoral one day and moral the next. In other words, whatever God says is moral becomes moral and there are no objective moral standards!
` Although the bible is filled with instances of God (and even Jesus) telling the Israelites to kill others, this is not because the rules are being changed, but rather because "Thou shalt not kill" only applies to other Israelites, and everyone else is fair game. Either way, this is not what anyone today would consider as 'enlightened' thinking.

My Arch-Rival has defended the example of God telling Moses to commit genocide, sparing only the virgins for the purpose of raping, as being moral because it was a necessary step in spreading God's love. And why do the ends justify the means?
` Because Whatever God Commands Is Good, Even If It's An Unspeakable Atrocity. Do I need to go into why exactly this is Very Bad Logic?

I should expect that if there's a God who actually told my Arch-Rival to do something so incredibly heinous, he wouldn't be able to bring himself to do it, thus putting his own moral standards above God's.
` However, if he were able to obey, then what would that say about him? Would that make him a religious terrorist? Would it show the strength of his faith or the tragedy of being a pawn to his belief that God Is Always Right?

There are, however, examples of changing morality in the bible, as when God decrees slavery, and commands people to stone those who insulted him, even when they hadn't harmed anyone. In the modern world, such things are considered barbaric, so does that mean that God was a barbarian?
` Were those things right back then? Were they never right to begin with? How can there possibly be objective moral standards if those standards can change?
` The idea that God is benevolent is only believable when one has faith that everything he is said to have done is Right. If that belief is at the base of one's answer, then anything else can be justified in that light.

Regarding scientists, they must avoid the concept of God in their methods, whether they believe in God or not. This is because it is not possible to include something you can't test, or to explain some unexplained phenomenon by saying "Goddidit!" because if there is a naturalistic explanation, you can't afford to be cynical and say there can't possibly be one.

Charles Darwin himself was studying to become an Anglican minister before he became a naturalist, and according to all his writings, he himself believed all the tenants of the Church, including the literal six-day creation, until he was convinced by all the geological processes and fossils that the earth was millions of years old, and that such things as the pattern of species distribution showed that species arise mainly through natural selection.
` As I recall, Darwin described admitting his proposal "like confessing a murder" because of the reaction it would get, but it was no doctrine: He put his theory out there to be trounced upon by the entire scientific community, and they did, which led to it being taken apart, revised, refined and expanded enormously, which continues to this day.

So, what is evolution through natural selection, anyway? Hovind clearly has no clue:
The technical definition of evolution means “change.”
Whoa, Kent, that's so technical! In all seriousness, what he's trying to do is make the definition of biological evolution so vague that it can apply to any sort of change.
` As I've said, biological evolution is about the genetic changes in populations, nothing more.

As the Understanding Evolution website puts it: "Biological evolution is not simply a matter of change over time. Lots of things change over time: trees lose their leaves, mountain ranges rise and erode, but they aren't examples of biological evolution because they don't involve descent through genetic inheritance."
` I recommended Understanding Evolution to the Arch-Rival, so that he could learn more about what he doesn't know about evolution, such as what it is and how it works, as well as its history.
` It's very basic, but it doesn't take a braniac to understand the concepts -- and then realize that people like Kent Hovind are giving it fictional definitions that are ripe for mockery!

Hovind quite deliberately likes to confuse biological evolution with the idea of any other kind of change, including ideologies promoting progress. (No surprise, he's conservative to the point of wanting to bring back public executions by stoning, but that's another story.) He says:
There is no question thatthings [sic] do change. All change is directed either downward toward less order if left to themselves, or upward with a master-mind behind it.
I would like to point out that crystals do build themselves, and there's no master-mind needed to explain them. This is why crystal formation has been suggested in the past as one way that living things could have come into being (this is not part of evolutionary theory, but rather, the theory of biogenesis).
The cities that we live in have ‘evolved’ over the years. ... Not one of the buildings in your city built itself by the material rising up out of the ground.
I would also like to point out that living things build themselves -- thanks to our parents, we've all done it ourselves in nine months, and then continued growing and developing.
` Under the best conditions, a small number of trees can "build a whole city" of trees, with new trees literally springing up from the ground, thanks to the natural creative force of the plants' reproductive organs.
` These are some of the reasons that materials used for making buildings are not considered life forms, and this is why they cannot build themselves. Is this not 'obvious'?
A college professor told me that cities 'evolve' with time.
This is true, provided that we acknowledge that the word in quotes does not refer to biological evolution.
I said to him, "I agree. If you use this as your definition of 'evolved' then you are including a design, a designer, and lots of work -- planned intelligent progress, not chaos ordered by self. Not one of the buildings in your city built itself by the material rising up out of the ground."
True -- if we use this as our definition! However, we're not talking about genetic distribution in a population because buildings don't make baby buildings.
` When biologists speak of evolution, they are referring to the minor changes in allele frequencies that naturally occur in plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, archaea, etc. in order to adapt to their local environment. Unfortunately for Hovind:
When I speak of evolution, I am not referring to small minor changes that naturally occur as animals have to make some adjustments to their environment.
So, in other words, he is spelling out that when he is referring to evolution, he actually isn't referring to biological evolution at all! What brilliant double-talk! How does he do it?

Biological evolution works like this: Unlike what Hovind would say, we always expect the offspring of organisms to be the same species as their parents, although each one has their own unique mutations that even the parents don't have.
` Over time, genetic changes accumulate more and more so that, while their DNA is compatible with their contemporaries in their own population, over time it loses its compatibility with their ancestors of many thousands of generations before.
` The line between species is always a fuzzy line. The lineage at Time A may be genetically compatible with the same lineage living at Time B; and the lineage at Time B may be compatible with this lineage at Time C, and so on.
` However, if the population of the lineage at Time A could try to produce fertile offspring with the population at Time E, their genetic divergence may no longer allow this.

We also see this in species that share a recent common ancestor, yet have been isolated from one another for thousands of generations. Some examples of mammals crossbreeding include donkeys with horses (mules/hinneys), lions with tigers (ligers/tiglons), dromedary camels with llamas (camas), and bottlenose dolphins with orcas (wholphins).
` Genetic markers and fossils show that these close relatives were once the same species, and as evidence of this, their genes still allow them to produce offspring, although it may be difficult.
` In some cases, the offspring are commonly fertile, as with wholphins, camas, and hybrids of various types of big cats, although in others, such as mules/hinnies, the offspring are usually sterile.

This is also why I have pointed out to the Arch Rival the existence of ring species -- contemporary species which are only blurrily separated by space -- which is exactly what evolution predicts we'll find:
` Species A can breed with neighboring Species B, and Species B can breed with neighboring Species C and so on, but by the time you get to Species E, it cannot breed with Species A!
` There are only subtle differences between the neighboring species, but if the middle 'links' in the ring go extinct, then you have a successful separation of two distinct species which will never again be considered part of the same species and continue to differentiate as orcas and dolphins have, or camels and llamas.
` The Arch-Rival's response, if my memory is correct, was basically, "That's still micro-evolution." Or in other words, it wasn't 'macro-evolution' which, as we'll see just ahead, includes speciation in its definition. In other words, I described one way that new species evolve, and then he said this isn't what is happening.
` Well, what is happening? Hovind cannot tell us:
For instance, if we released hundreds of rabbits in an area with cold winters, only the animls [sic] with the heavier fur would survive. So within a few years, the population would have a little heavier fur than the earlier populations. These small minor population shifts brought about by environment are referred to as ‘micro-evolution.’ There has been no change in the genetic material of the rabbit.
Except, the way he has described it, there has been a change in their genetic material in that certain variants have become dominant.
There has only been a change in the ratio of the population.
No, actually it's a ratio of the genes in the population, genius.
You still have the same kind of animal. If that climate were to change back to a milder climate, the population of animals would change back to having a lighter fur.
It might, although it might not, depending on whether that's particularly beneficial to change back.
Macro-evolution would be defined as changing into a different kind of animal. There is no similarity between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. Many evolutionists will use micro-evolution to try to prove that macro-evolution is true. We must guard ourselves not to fall for this false logic.
This 'micro-evolution' is a good description of biological evolution through natural selection, and this is not false logic, as there is in fact no solid distinction between these concepts. As such, many biologists don't even use them.
` If we are going to use these terms, it's like the same sort of relationship that microeconomics -- the economic activity of individual households and businesses -- has with macroeconomics, which is the collective sum of microeconomics and how it determines economics on a societal or global scale.

In biology, these 'micro' and 'macro' terms are not always useful, because no matter what aspect of evolution one is describing, it is all based on this incremental type of change.
` Some biologists do call certain areas of study -- such as population genetics and ecological genetics -- 'microevolution', whereas paleontology, evolutionary developmental biology, genomic phylostratigraphy and comparative genomics constitute 'macroevolution'.

These terms were coined in 1927 by Iuri'i Filipchenko, in his work, Variabilität und Variation, in which he sought to reconcile Darwin's theory with Mendelian genetics.
` One of his students, Theodosius Dobzhansky, introduced them in his 1937 founding Modern Synthesis work Genetics and the Origin of Species: "we are compelled at the present level of knowledge reluctantly to put a sign of equality between the mechanisms of macro- and microevolution".
` This was the first time anyone had heard these terms in the English-speaking biology community, although they are still not used by most biologists in the English-speaking world. While definitions vary, here's the general idea:

Microevolution -- changes below the level of speciation, referring to the frequencies of alleles (i.e. alternative genes) within the species or population, as well as other changes which are not even genetic.

Macroevolution -- can be anagenetic speciation, which is the change of one species to another over time, and cladogenesis, which is the splitting of one species into two, as ring species have imperfectly done.
` It can also apply to more specific and dramatic instances, as in Levinton's definition from his 2001 Genetics, Paleontology and Macroevolution: "I define the process of macroevolution to be "the sum of those processes that explain the character-state transitions that diagnose evolutionary differences of major taxonomic rank".

So, when variations in gene ratios change in favor of heavier fur, that can be called 'microevolution'. When this same thing happens with more traits, which accumulate over thousands of generations until a distinct species emerges, that can be called 'macroevolution'.
` Although creationists love to load these terms with great meaning, there is actually no solid line to be drawn between such abstract concepts as different aspects and degrees of evolution. You can no more draw a line between them than you could draw a line between colors in one continuous spectrum.
` Go ahead, try. You really can't, can you? Even so, as with colors, labels can still be handy.

Let's go back to the rabbits: What if all the deer in one area went extinct? One could conceive of a population of rabbits taking advantage of all the food that the now-gone deer aren't eating. To adapt to this new way of life, they would become larger and taller to reach higher branches.
` Over thousands of generations of this happening a little bit more, and a little bit more, these rabbits could become another species altogether. A species of unusual-looking rabbit, yes, but eventually one would be tempted to give it another name. Dougal Dixon, help me out, here!

Ah, yes, why not 'rabbuck'? Notice, however, that they will always be based on rabbits -- or, you can say, 'basically rabbits' -- no matter how much they change. No one claims that they wouldn't be, except for Hovind in his inane lectures, as I've addressed elsewhere.

Similarly, lizards can only give rise to other lizards -- for example, there are modern lizards which are adapted to marine environments, including monitor lizards.
` A point of interest with this is, at one point in the earth's history, the sea was home to fully-aquatic, whale-sized monitor lizards called Mosasaurs, which looked like this:

See? That's a lizard! It's quite different from the ones we know, in that is had flippers, but it's still a lizard! It's not even difficult to picture similar marine lizards evolving again, although meat-eating whales would probably have to go extinct for this to happen.

Also, unlike what Hovind will tell you, lizards are different types of reptiles from dinosaurs, in the same way as turtles are different from mammals. It amuses me, then, that Hovind suggests (in his lectures) that the gigantic browsing ornithopod, reminiscent of a rhinoceros, Triceratops, has evolved (but he doesn't call it that!) into a tiny predatory chameleon.

Now, chameleons have prehensile tails and feet, which they use to slowly move through tree branches while swaying back and forth like a leaf, eyes that look in different directions independently for finding insects, and a sticky, spring-loaded tongue for catching prey.
` It isn't an insane proposition to suggest that one animal could evolve into one that is so different, but the basic skeletal structure of dinosaurs have different derived characteristics than those of lizards, such as different openings in the skull, not to mention their limbs, joints and torsos are built quite differently from one another because of their different postures (e.g. splayed vs. upright).
` In other words, they are both reptiles which share a common reptile ancestor, but they took different paths in evolution -- they've diverged to begin with -- so one did not evolve into the other!
` Hilariously, though, Hovind has actually stated that dinosaurs are merely large versions of today's lizards, but this is as absurd as saying that dinosaurs are merely large versions of today's marsupials. They really are that different, although describing why would take a really long time.

And while I'm on the subject of lizards, I'd like to bring up one (of many) instances of visible lizard evolution -- one which shows just how fast an animal can evolve in response to its environment:
` Only 36 years after biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their habitat in Pod Kopiste to the island of Pod Mrcaru, the population was noticeably different:
` Since they had adapted from eating insects to plants, their heads were much larger and deeper for chewing, their teeth were flatter, and they had even developed cecal valves in their guts for digesting plants, which is a rare trait among lizards.
` Their social structure had also changed, as plants are so plentiful that the lizards no longer needed to defend a territory. This whole thing did not even take four decades. It happened literally before the biologists' eyes, as they had been watching the whole time. Given another few thousand years, what else could happen?

Kent has refused to acknowledge the fact that biologists expect that lizards can only give rise to lizards, and, in one of Kent's "debates" I've discussed with the Arch-Rival, that plants can only give rise to plants and animals can only give rise to animals, but just what type of plant or animal it can evolve into depends on what branch on the family tree it derives from.
` This is why molluscs can only evolve into other species of molluscs, although we may call them clams, snails, or squid, for example. They have the same basic body plan, and genetics, but seem much different from one another. In the same vein, vertebrates will always be vertebrates, although they range in form from sharks to elephants.

Reptiles include groups as diverse as snakes, mammals and birds, which share an even more ancient common reptilian ancestor. Those on the mammal branch can only give rise to other mammals, be they whales, bats, naked mole rats, or possibly rabbucks.
` Monkeys can only give rise to other monkeys, including apes, and apes can only give rise to other apes -- even if they're bald, big-brained and bipedal, they're still 'savannah apes'.
The idea that evolutionists try to get across today is that there is a continual upward progression. They claim that everything is getting better, improving, all by itself as if there is an inner-drive toward more perfection and order.
Again, this statement merely demonstrates that the 'evolutionists' haven't gotten anything across to him, because evolution has got nothing to do with progress, much less an inner drive toward it.

I should add that, the word 'evolutionists' is used to make people who accept evolution seem somehow on par with 'creationists', or 'Marxists'. In other words, this word is used to make it seem as though biological evolution is merely an ideology or belief.
` Now, Aristotle argued that such upward progression must exist, from lower to higher forms, and so did Lamarck in his now-discredited not-even-theory of Lamarckian evolution -- both because of their spiritual views. However, no biologist today would make such a ridiculous claim of progress because a) it doesn't make sense and b) all the evidence is against it.
This is totally opposite of the first and second law of thermodynamics.
Actually, it seems that this 'progress' idea would only go against the second law, but that is more than enough for it to be wrong. And, as Hovind's idea of evolution is wrong, it's good that no biologist believes it.
It goes against all scientific evidence that has been accumulated.
Yes it does -- he's right! But that's the idea of 'evolution' that he's peddling and not the theory that biologists use!
Yet, this lie is what many men believe today.
This could only apply to men who don't understand how evolution works, and this lack of understanding is one good reason why it needs to be taught better in schools -- the last thing we need is more people like him!
We don't see any evidence of this in the fossil record.
Indeed, there is no evidence of direction in the fossil record because species must adapt from one habitat to another, even if that means becoming less complex. That's evolution.

From the perspective of someone who has a basic understanding of evolutionary theory, Hovind's repeating-as-mantra the idea of evolution-as-progress reminds me of the childish lies of an old friend of Arch-Rival's and mine -- Restraining Order Rick.
` When Rick claimed that he was planning on moving to a house overlooking Stephen's Pass, I didn't know whether to believe him or not. However, my Second-In-Command, Lucas, knew that this area is nothing but rugged state parkland, so to him it was so obviously a lie that it was presumably hard for him not to roll his eyes.
` So it is when Hovind describes evolution -- it is so blatantly not evolution that I have trouble not rolling my eyes, along with any evolution-studying scientists who might be reading. This comparison in itself doesn't mean that Hovind is lying, but it does illustrate how people who know what evolution actually is view these statements of his.

Even so, I'm pretty sure that what's going on here is that he is using his knowledge of the fact that, the more times you repeat something, the more likely your audience will think it's true, and the more difficulty others will have with correcting these distortions.

Well, I've come to the end of Section 2a, but next up in the queue is Section 2b of Hovind's thesis: Bastardizing the World's History and Religions.
` If any of my science-minded friends have any suggestions or would like to correct me on anything, please leave me a comment so that I can fix it. After all, I did not so deeply research this section because most of what I wrote is ubiquitous in any text about evolution to the point where it seems to have become hard-wired into my brain.
` Also, if any fans of Hovind would like to correct me about Hovind's position on anything, do let me know.


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