Christian biology teacher emphasizes evolution in classroom, taunts his creationist students

Regular reader and blogger Biodork just shared a story over at her blog that made me smile. It’s a simple story (link). She works at a bookstore and, well, let me let her tell you. It’s titled, “I love my customers”:

I just met a gentleman who wanted to sign up for the bookstore’s educator discount. While he was filling out the registration form, I asked what subject he taught, and he told me he taught high school biology, with an emphases on ecology and evolution – Yeah! We traded favorite authors and podcasts (also, dude had to be in his 60s, so he’s hip, he’s with it), and he shared his guilty secret: He loves to antagonize his evangelical fundamentalist young earth creationist students (even though he’s a Christian) Hehehe…mean ol’ guy!

It’s okay to be a Christian and accept science. The evidence is overwhelming.

Just sayin’.

Be sure to check out her blog!

Thanks, Biodork!

“Evolution, the Grand Experiment” Chapter 7, The Fossil Record of Invertebrates

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I’m reviewing Dr. Carl Werner’s book “Evolution, the Grand Experiment” chapter by chapter. My reviews are all searchable using the search field to the right.

I must say, thank goodness for chapter 7. Finally, it seems that Dr. Werner has come to his senses in support of evolution. Finally he wrote a chapter that just makes sense. It’s fair, balanced and honest.

Let’s go explore.

As always, one chapter title isn’t enough. There are page titles, too.

Here we find, “What’s the Problem with Trilobites?”

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There’s a graphic (pictured right) that shows fossil layers and the ages that Werner attached to them. There’s no reference despite that they don’t jive with other scientists’ dates, but who’s a stickler for that info anyway?

Werner explains that trilobites are invertebrates or animals without backbones. This is a fact. I can truly say that Werner is most accurate with his description of trilobites and backbonelessness.

Then Werner writes, “They are problematic for the theory of evolution because they appear suddenly in the Cambrian fossil layers without a trace of an ancestor.”

What a segue! Where is my teddy bear? I’m going to go hug it now, because Werner jumped from trilobites to the “fact” that they don’t appear before the Cambrian in the same paragraph.

Werner writes:

“If evolution occurred and if the fossil record is representative of the past, then animals that evolved into trilobites should have been discovered by now. Proponents of evolution imagine that the ancestors of trilobites would have had soft bodies. Despite finding hundreds of thousands of other unrelated soft-bodied fossils, not one soft-bodied fossil has been declared the uncontested ancestor of trilobites.”

Werner is truly the master of evolution. Not only does he report the facts, he doesn’t have one citation or reference backing him up. But what does it matter? Werner is honest, this book has shown his honesty in a clear fashion, and we can believe honest people.

Werner concludes his opening paragraph for chapter 7 with, “Remember, Darwin believed his theory would be upheld as more fossils were found. But now, hundreds of thousands of fossil trilobites have been discovered, but no direct ancestors. Does this indicate there is a problem with the theory of evolution or is there a problem with the fossil record itself?”

It’s a good thing Dr. Werner is here to save us from our ignorance.

There’s a violator  or call out area at the bottom of the page with a quote from Dr. Andrew Knoll, paleontologist and professor of biology, Harvard University (emphasis mine. I’ll come back to this later in my reviews — not this one. There’s this great thing that Werner does that I’ll demonstrate in chapter 8’s review).

Knoll says, “What bothered Darwin about the fossil record more than anything else was the pattern of paleontology that we’ve been talking about … the oldest fossils you see are both diverse and complex, [such as] fabulously complicated things like trilobites.”

You have to hand it to Werner. He really knows how to place a quote on a page. There is a footnote on the quote that says it comes from a videotaped interview with Knoll. Great. Thanks, Dr. Werner.

The next page shows 36(!) pictures of trilobite fossils and the text says, “Trilobites: 100,000+ discovered ¶ Ancestors: None” underneath that: “Multiple varieties of trilobites have been found throughout the world but not the ancestors of trilobites.”

The next four pages show more invertebrates, and sells the message that there are 100,000,000 invertebrate fossils known, but not one direct ancestor. This poses a real problem for “scientists” who oppose evolution, but Werner is careful not to tell us what those “scientists” do believe.

The point Werner really wants to make is that the fossils of everything from shrimp to bacteria appear “suddenly” in the fossil record.

There’s another violator with a quote from Dr. James Valentine, professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Integrated Biology. Valentine says (note: this is how Werner wrote it, there’s no quotes at the beginning and the quote itself is in italics. Notice also the ellipses indicating two spots of who knows how much is left out):

At the “beginning of the Cambrian Explosion proper…one finds brachiopods [shellfish] and gastropods [shellfish]...We also see trilobites for the first time.

Dr. Werner concludes the chapter with another quote from Knoll: “Despite the 30 years of research on Ediacaran fossils, there are very few, if any, unambiguous ancestors of things that appear in the Cambrian.”

There are more lines selling the “sudden appearance” bit. Thus concludes chapter 7. Not one footnote to the “facts”, just some nebulous language and quotes that seem to support the ideas.

Honesty is gorgeous.

I have three major complaints:

  1. Werner told you nothing about trilobites except that they are invertebrates. What kind of educator is he? If you are interested, here’s the wiki. They are, in fact, an extinct species of arthropod. He mentioned many other invertebrates. He offers no information on them either.
  2. Science does claim to have evidence for trilobite evolution. You can start with a simple google of “trilobite evolution” or you could read here and more info here on the same site, and another good one here that talks about how losers like Werner creationists want to confuse you.
  3. Dressing up the Cambrian explosion as a euphemism for “creationism” isn’t going to work. There are many fossils that predate the Cambrian. You can read about that here. There isn’t a wealth of fossils primarily because the animals in the Ediacaran hadn’t developed hard shells. That doesn’t mean there are no fossils. It’s simply harder for animals with soft shells to fossilize markings in rock like hard-shells can. The implication is that nothing predates these animals. This is a fruitless venture, because there are no mammals in the Cambrian. So if there’s a sudden appearance of animals … those sudden appearance animals led to the rest of creation through evolution. If you’re a “god did it by evolution” kind of person, maybe this makes sense. But otherwise, Werner is literally barking up the wrong tree.

I have a slew of other complaints, but I’ll leave that for another day. Go read about trilobites yourselves.

Again, if this is the best book creationists have for showing a fair portrait of “evolution”, Christians, you’ve set your bar lower than a sewage plant.

Set your bars higher. For the love of education.