The Natural History Museum in London contains the best human evolution exhibit in the UK. Except for the one in Liverpool I helped put together, of course.
Sadly creationists are more interested in the London exhibit than mine. Creation Ministries International recently published an article debunking it.
Or at least, that’s what they claimed to do. In reality most of the article was spent throwing out generic creationist talking points rather than dealing with the actual exhibit.
To me, this highlights an unwillingness to have an actual conversation. They’re more concerned with throwing out soundbitees than engaging with the evidence presented in the exhibit.
No transitional forms
The first part of the article is the only part that really addresses the museum exhibit. Even then, it’s more generic creationist fluff than actual dissection of the display.
It all revolves around that classic creationist claim of “there are no transitional fossils”. The author notes how the museum display features just two groups: humans and Australopiths. There’s no “bridge” between them.
Also significant is that the chart [in the museum] contains just two main groups, one identified as ‘humans’ and other as ‘australopithecines’—with nothing bridging them. . . Since ‘australopithecine’ means ‘southern ape’ one might reasonably conclude that all these different ‘species’ (collectively known as ‘hominins’) should be classified as either ‘apes’ or ‘humans’, with no clear examples of ‘ape-men’.
But this argument only makes sense if you equate Australopithecus with ape. Otherwise they might become a candidate for that missing bridge. Fortunatley, the author can equate the two because . . . the technical name for them means ape?
It also talks about them being southern, as the first examples were found in South Africa. However, it turns out that most of them actually lived in east Africa. Clearly latin names from the 1920s aren’t the best source of scientific information.
Indeed, when you look at the fossils themselves (rather than dismissing them out of hand) numerous “bridge” traits show up. They clearly aren’t just apes. I’ve talked about a lot of them before. But rather than repeating myself, I’m just going to post this rather nice graph that highlights just how neatly they fit between apes and humans.
And with that the discussion of the museum exhibit comes to a close. Now we’re onto random stuff the author saw in the giftshop.
A book on sale in the museum’s shop is titled, 99% Ape: How Evolution Adds Up, and argues that our DNA differs from that of chimpanzees by only 1% . . . In fact, the figure of 99% similarity is very outdated and many evolutionists would agree that it is far lower than this—perhaps no higher than 81%.
Just like how the author refuses to engage with the museum exhibit, they don’t seem to engage with this book either. There’s no evidence they read any of the book beyond the title.
Perhaps if they had, they may well have found out just what the science actually says. Instead they’re off parroting more creationist talking points; this time about how human and chimp DNA isn’t actually that similar. The ultimate source for this is a creationist genetics paper I’ve mentioned before.
The big issue with this paper is how little detail it gives about the methodology. There’s no real way of knowing if the results are meaningful because we can’t tell how they were obtained.
And it seems like they may have been obtained in a very sketchy way.
Attempts to repeat the methods of this paper have revealed it has two pretty massive flaws. The first being that the version of the software used in his analysis has a bug if you enter in the data all in one go. Which the researcher did. This bug lowers the number of results returned, making the similarity seem far smaller than it should be. Although the researcher has since corrected for this, they continue to fall victim to the second flaw: using the wrong parameters.
Generic creationist claim #4567
At this point any pretence of examining the museum exhibit are abandoned as the author just moves onto a generic creationist claim. That radiometric dating doesn’t work.
The example in question isn’t even related to palaeoanthropology, being a random case of different dating methods producing different results.
What they don’t tell people, however, is that different radioactive ‘dating methods’ can lead to very different conclusions about the age of the samples being tested. For example, some wood was found buried in basalt rock in the Crinum coal mine in Australia. The wood was ‘dated’ by the radiocarbon method and yielded a result of around 45,000 years. The basalt was ‘dated’ by the Potassium-Argon method and yielded a result of 45,000,000 years
It’s such a generic claim that it’s got its own spot on creationist bingo. Hopefully, this fact serves to highlight just how disinterested this author seems to be with having an actual conversation.