Help, what are the falsehoods in this evolution takedown?

This deserves repeating. I would welcome @jbabraham88’s input here, but Discovery’s Ray Bohlin would affirm common descent when involved with deciding the science curriculum for the state of Texas, but he would turn around and present arguments against evolution and for special creation at an “Apologetics Conference” at Watermark megachurch in Dallas. The DI consistently speaks out of both sides of its mouth.


Here’s my take.

I saw the whale evolution video from Discovery Institute.
You should read Johnathan Wells’s Icons of Evolution book, which is an attempt to “take down” most of what textbooks say are evidences for evolution,
Wells is a commando for the Unification Church, which apparently gave him the mission to take down Darwin. He is one of the most important speakers on the Discovery lineup.
He attacks the textbooks, including the family tree of life I believe.
A famous tactic of antievolutionists going back to Harry Rimmer in the 1940s is to say the fossils can be shuffled around into many trees, and so scientists are confusing people.

I think Discovery was once open to common descent in the 1990s according to Behe in the Black Box book.

But now if you read Theistic Evolution the book put out with a lot of Discovery support and the help of theologians like Wayne Grudem, they get harsh with EC people.

There is one Discovery video on YouTube questioning Francis Collins too.

See I think Discovery thinks BioLogos and the American Scientific Affiliation are caving into the New Atheists.

By the way, I don’t think the apologists at Watermark church in Dallas really know what the Discovery Institute is. I attend their meetings with nonbelievers. They are good people.

They put evolution as far away from the center of the salvation message.


Not essential to agree about.

Discovery people you must understand are culture war commandoes.

Philip Johnson used the Wedge idea…we are gonna wipe out naturalism like a football team in a wedge formation!

Lawrence Krauss my former physics professor at Yale and now a New Atheist at ASU spoke with Stephen Meyer and Denis Lamoureux at Univ of Toronto. Denis and I talked about this debate.
Krauss really fries Meyer calling Discovery dishonest etc etc

But don’t underestimate Discovery’s pull with Campus Crusade through Walter Bradley and Dallas Theological Seminary or Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the largest in the world.

A small Institute with a large bullhorn among mostly white evangelical churches.

Ray Bohlin is with Discovery and Probe Ministries here in Plano close to Dallas. He is I believe on a textbook commission or something that approves books for Texas public schools in Austin.

These ID guys are so, so well networked.

I hope BioLogos can raise the EC profile here in Dallas, the world center of creationism perhaps with millions of dollars of support money available, a Discovery office here, and ICR with its museum.


I could be a bit more generous about what you’re seeing. I for one am open to all manner and possible variations of common descent, all while remaining very suspicious and critical of the one particular, naturalistic narrative of common descent that is presented as a foregone conclusion that stands untouchable beyond all debate.

(In other words, for someone like me, who is open to considering varying models and hypotheses about common descent, I simply do not see in this video a critique on “common descent” in any and all forms, I rather see a critique on one particular model of common descent)

I find these kind of statements disingenuous. It pretends like there are all these other models of common descent on the table, when there aren’t.

It’s the kind of rhetorical move that reminds me of the Christian patriarchy groups that get all huffy when you say they don’t support equality for women. “Oh, yes, of course we do,” they claim. Just not the “feminist” model of equality that thinks women should have equal education opportunities, equal employment opportunities, equal voice in making decisions in church and family, equal say in who they marry and when and how many children they have. It’s just that model of equality they are against. Never mind that their model of equality where fathers arrange marriages, women aren’t taught math or science in their homeschool, the only career open to them is midwifery, and they are “subject” to men in all areas of church and home (but are “totally equal in worth before God”) is not “equality” in anyone else’s estimation.


Any model of common descent by any mechanism will show progression in whatever fossil record is unearthed. The video disputes the chronologically ordered fossil record, standard Darwinian dates for the fossils, and the rather obvious expectation that transitional fossils will display intermediate characteristics. But that fossil record would be consistent with “common descent” in any and all forms, including divine tinkering with DNA, straight up miracles along the way, whatever. Common descent by any definition invokes lineage of birth, and as the old expression goes, you cannot be a little bit pregnant, there is no shade of grey.


I don’t even see a take down of evolution, just a pummeling of an innocent straw man.


So when you speak of “equality” between men and women, you make no qualifications or nuances whatsoever?

Also, you piqued my curiosity… now i’m very curious about such groups. Can you point to me a link to one of these groups that actually forbids girls to learn math? I googled but couldn’t find anything, though i’m not sure what i’m looking for exactly.

That’s not really relevant. The point is “female equality” is a concept that is understood across a broad audience to imply support of some general ideas. If you say you support female equality, just a different “model” of it that is exactly contrary to the way the concept is generally understood and your “model” implies actively working against the general ideas the concept normally implies, then you are being a willfully bad communicator or plain dishonest to say you support female equality.

Well, since much of what they advocate could be construed as child abuse, neglect, or trafficking, they don’t exactly put it all in writing on the internet. Girls aren’t “forbidden to learn math,” they just aren’t taught much beyond basic arithmetic because it isn’t considered necessary to be a good wife and mother. They are told girls shouldn’t go to college because it will just expose them to immorality (their education does not prepare them to get in anyway) and they don’t need a “career” because women should not work outside the home.

You can read “survivor” testimonies on multiple blogs, like Homeschoolers Anonymous, No Longer Quivering, Love, Joy, Feminism, Spiritual Sounding Board

A group called Let Them Marry was in the news somewhat recently was when a group tried to have a retreat to sell their daughters to older men. They believe in the Old Testament practice of “bride price” and that fathers should arrange marriages for post-pubescent daughters to men with established livelihoods. The Salvation Army retreat center ended up cancelling the event due to public pressure.

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Comparing the dates from the video to the Paleobiology Database records:

Video date for Pakicetus 52mya

Database Dates
Collection 45529 Kuldana Formation, Lutetian (47.8 - 41.3 Ma)

Collection 45586 Kuldana Formation, Lutetian (47.8 - 41.3 Ma)

Both of the Discovery Science videos make quite a deal of their perceived chronological inversion of Indohyus and Pakicetus. I do not have access to the papers which are the basis for the Paleobiology Database, so right now I can only offer that these database dates do not match the video presentation. It is difficult to engage with videos as they typically do not substantiate with footnotes.

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The SJG essay is also worth mentioning:

The SJG essays are priceless.

In the first video, much hay was made of the idea that “Darwinists” believed Pakicetus was descended from Indohyus, even though Indohyus lived four million years later. As I pointed out in an above post, they have not indicated who exactly holds to these dates. Both Indohyus and the variants of Pakicetus come from narrow in age Subathu and Kuldana formations in Pakistan and India.

Stratigraphic and Micropaleontological Constraints on the Middle Eocene Age of the Mammal-Bearing Kuldana Formation of Pakistan
The Kuldana Formation is a relatively thin, 20-120 m thick low-sea-stand tongue of continental red beds lying within a much thicker sequence of foraminifera-rich marine formations. … The short duration of the low-sea-stand interval when Kuldana mammals are found means that differences between samples recovered to date probably represent differences in local living environments, sites of deposition, and sampling, rather than any substantial difference in age.

and from Philip Gingerich, the general similarity of mammalian faunas …argues against any marked time transgression."

The message seems to be that fossils in this formation may not be indicative of priority, and given species may be contemporaneous with each other. That is why the 2007 Nature Article introducing Indohyus leads with [emphasis mine]
Here we show that the Eocene south Asian raoellid artiodactyls are the sister group to whales. The raoellid Indohyus is similar to whales, and unlike other artiodactyls, in the structure of its ears and premolars, in the density of its limb bones and in the stable-oxygen-isotope composition of its teeth.

So the video mounts an argument based on “granting the standard Darwinian dates for these fossils, Indohyus is dated as far younger than its supposed descendents” Now if the facts are on your side, there is no need to misrepresent the challenging position. The literature is clear that there is no chronological inversion and that while Indohyus is the more distant relation to whales, it is a sister group. You descend from your parents, not your sister. When somebody says one thing and another reports them as saying something else, the Biblical term for that is false witness.

Which leads us to the second video, the supposed rebuttal to objections, such as just described above, to the first video. More on that later.

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Did you mean later rather than prior?

Yes, dyslexic moment. Edited.

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That did happen with the pastor of a church I used to attend. He homeschooled his 3 girls to know only the basics, told them they didn’t need college, and tried to set them up with chosen husbands. Sadly, the one that did marry a son of her dad’s friend was abused.

The pastor was self -taught from the Bible, and never went to seminary. As I recall, he said that babies cried because of inborn sin, and not to pick them up or love them in response. He was a very attractive speaker in other ways, and led a church split when some criticized his beliefs. It’s another argument that we can’t rely on a “plain reading” of the Bible, based on our own (his) cultural blinders.


Stories like this lead some anti-theists to over-generalize that being raised in a Christian home is a form of abuse. Of course I don’t disagree that what your ex-pastor did was harmful for his girls.

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To be honest, I also know that things are not black and white. He was cowed by a massive fear of an unkind version of God…what we see across the world, with similar prejudice across regions and cultures. I have no doubt that he deeply loved his girls, no less than other cultures do; and that they loved him. My attitude was perhaps not the best.
The very fact that many unrelated cultures treat their women and children in a restrictive way indicates there is another, nonreligious reason… I I don’t fully understand it, but an evolution of social role differences appears to me to be reflective of many variables. Maybe someone else on the forum can give more insight. Thanks.

Exactly. There are many reasons that customs come to be what they are. Even where Christianity is the dominant source it will not likely ever be the only one.

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Here is the link for those interested to the discussion page for @RyanBebej’s new whale evolution article!

Defending the Tale of the Whale


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