Thursday, January 01, 2009

Responding to a Comment about Marvin Lubenow's Book

A reader (Dr. T.) states the following in a comment:

I just wanted to leave a comment for visitors to this page. I truly appreciate the intellecual [sic] stimulation given by Lubenow in his book: Bones of Contention (2004, revised version). I truly enjoy the scientific and biochemical knowledge shared. It really does feel like I'm taking a college course! In fact, I am a graduate student studying clinical psychology, but I am first and foremost a Christian (raised a Christian by a grandfather who was a Pastor and mother who was a devout Christian) who fervently seeks well-supported information on creationism, religion and science, and God vs. "Lucy" or "African Eve."

Here is my response:

Dear Dr. T.
Thank you for your comments to this page. I also appreciate that you have read Marvin Lubenow's book Bones of Contention. Sadly, I cannot agree with your assessment of the book. During the course of reading it, I found an extraordinary number of errors that fell into several categories:
* Factual errors
* Logical errors
* Misinterpretations of theory and
* Use of out-of-date information.

For example:

Factual Error:
p. 80—“Simply put, evolutionists don’t know where the Neandertals came from or where they went. Just a few years ago, their beginnings were said to extend back only as far as 200,000 years. Now, thanks to a striking discovery in a cave in Spain (see chapter 20), the Neandertals may go back 800,000 years on the evolutionist time scale. Equally mysterious is their alleged rapid disappearance at about 34, 000.

The idea that evolutionists don’t know where Neandertals came from is false. We have fossil remains from the sites of Saccopastore, Arago, Steinheim, Swanscombe and Petralona which predate the classic Neandertal remains of Europe and for which it is easy to clearly see incipient Neandertal characteristics and it is reasonably clear that Neandertals came from one of these groups.

The Gran Dolina material (800 kya) does not show Neandertal characteristics. In fact, it is the lack of Neandertal characteristics that have led some researchers to hypothesize that Neandertals were an offshoot. The last Neandertal does not date to 34 kya, but to 27 kya at the site of Zafarraya. Lubenow has his information incorrect.

Logical Errors:
P. 34—“All experiments performed with present-day animals, plants, or biological molecules are equally flawed. They cannot prove or even support the alleged evolutionary processes of the past. The extensive use of present-day experiments to try to demonstrate evolution reveals that evolutionists do not understand the difference between scientific and historical evidence.”

The wrong-headedness of this statement is breathtaking. It completely wipes out the study of geology, palaeontology, astronomy, palaeoclimatology and other legitimate areas of science. It assumes that there is no uniformity to present and past processes. This is EXACTLY how these sciences work. This is a critical logical flaw in Lubenow’s thought processes. Current experiments are the key to the past because by doing current experiments, we can predict what will be found in the past. If we find it, we know we are on the right track.

An example would be a ballistics expert. He fires different kinds of bullets into different types of material to determine ballistic patterns. When a crime scene is examined, if any of these patterns appear, they investigators have a pretty good idea of what gun was used and how. He didn't have to be there to know this.This is how predictive science works. To dismiss this out of hand is ridiculous. It is difficult to believe that someone such as Lubenow has practiced science for as many years as he has and has not figured this out.

Misinterpretation of theory:
p. 215 par. 4—“Evolutionists insist that the evolutionary process is nondirectional. This is because mutations, the raw material of evolutionary change, are random. However, if you look at an evolutionary chart of the history of life, that chart is clearly directional

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. No practicing evolutionary biologist has ever stated that evolution is non-directional. While mutations are random, selection is not. It is directional, stabilizing or disruptive. That is a fundamental tenet.

Use of out-of-date information:
p. 81—“If Amud I was buried into layer BI, it follows that he cannot be older than layer BI but could be younger. The radiocarbon date for Upper B1 is just 5, 710 ya.”

Lubenow has missed a particularly important citation here. In an article by Rink, et al. in 2001, ESR and TL dating on six animal teeth recovered from the site yield ages of between 53 ± 7 kya for the B1 layer to 70 ± for the B4 layer. This firmly places the Neandertal at Amud in the range of Neandertals in Europe. Lubenow has gone out of his way to use the oldest date for this Neandertal that he can find. A revision means you go out and get the most up-to-date information.

The book is also astounding in its lack of accompanying citations. Numerous passages that attack evolutionary theory or the fossil record contain no citations to back up their claims. Here is an example:

p. 216 par. 2—“I discovered a number of well-documented cases of reversals in the fossil record of insects, worms, ammonites, fishes, mammals and humans. There were cases where organisms had seemingly gone from a specialized to a more generalized condition. Because the paleontological literature is so vast, I suspect that the results of my research were just the tip of the iceberg. I have no doubt that further research would reveal many more well-documented cases of reversals.

They are so well documented, he doesn’t bother to cite them. Where is this research? I've never seen it. Why is it not cited?

There are many, many, many other examples of these kinds of errors in the book and I do not have the space here to document them all. Hopefully, I can do that later. It was, quite frankly, difficult to get all of the way through it without throwing it down in disgust. Many times I could not tell if he was simply ignorant of the literature and the theory, intentionally selecting out-of-date information to bolster his (nonexistent) case, or being dishonest. I would like to not think the last option but there were many instances, notably in his lack of citations, where it was hard to conclude otherwise.

Sadly, this book is an example of what I have seen in recent creationist literature and it is no wonder that mainstream scientists do not take them seriously.

No comments:

Post a Comment