Understanding creationism:
An insider’s guide by a former young-Earth creationist

| 287 Comments

In this short series, David MacMillan explains how misinformation and misconceptions allow creationists to maintain their beliefs even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. A former creationist blogger and writer, Mr. MacMillan earned his BS degree in physics from the University of North Alabama and now works as a technical writer when he isn’™t frequenting the PT comment boards. Since leaving creationism, he has written several columns discussing the public dialogue between creation and evolution. This series will outline the core beliefs creationists use as the basis for their reasoning while pointing out the challenges faced in re-educating against creationist misconceptions.

Note added July 16, approx. 4:30 p.m.: I have added links to all the articles subsequent to this one at the bottom of the page.

1. Introduction and overview: Philosophy of pseudoscience

During my tenure as an active young-earth creationist, I never once heard other creationists accurately describe what evolutionary theory is or how it is supposed to work. Nor did I understand it myself. Creationists often seem familiar with a lot of scientific terminology, but their understanding is filled with gross misinformation. Thus, a host of misconceptions is believed and taught throughout creationist circles, making it almost impossible for actual evidence to really sink in.

There are plenty of comprehensive lists of creationist claims with exhaustive refutations, such as the TalkOrigins archive. Rather than try to replicate those, I will attempt to explain why creationist claims persist in the face of contrary evidence, even when individuals are otherwise well-educated. To do so, I’m going to go over the major areas where creationists get the science itself completely wrong. My list doesn’t represent all such misconceptions, of course. These are the misconceptions I personally recall hearing or using myself. I’ve chosen not to provide specific examples of each misconception from the creationist literature, though they are all easy to find. Citations for my explanations can be found online by anyone who wants to see them; this series is not about any particular facts so much as it’s about how false beliefs are used to support false conclusions.

We understand the theory of evolution to be a series of conclusions drawn from over a century of research, predictions, and discoveries. This theory allows us to understand the mechanisms in biology and make further predictions about the sort of evidence we will uncover in the future. Its predictive power is vital to success in real-life applications like medicine, genetic engineering, and agriculture.

However, creationists don’t see it the same way. Creationists artificially classify medicine, genetic research, and agriculture as “operational science,” and believe that those disciplines function in a different way than research in evolutionary biology. They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention. Thus, they approach the concept of evolution from a defensive position; they believe it represents an attack on all religious faith.

This defensive posture is reflected in nearly all creationist literature, even in the less overt varieties such as intelligent-design creationism. It dictates responses. When creationists see a particular argument or explanation about evolution, their initial reaction is to ask, “How does this attack the truth of God as Creator? What philosophical presuppositions are dictating beliefs here? How can I challenge those underlying assumptions and thus demonstrate the truth?” Recognizing this basis for creationist arguments is a helpful tool for understanding why such otherwise baffling arguments are proposed.

In reality, we understand that although various philosophical implications may be constructed around evolution, it is not driven by any atheistic philosophy. The fundamental principle undergirding the theory of evolution is the same as the fundamental principle behind all science: that hypotheses can be tested and confirmed by prediction. But creationists instead insist that evolution arises out of explicitly atheistic axioms. This series will look at the arguments and objections which flow from this worldview in six different areas.

Creationists accept certain aspects of variation, adaptation, and speciation, but they artificially constrain the mechanism for adaptation to produce an imagined barrier between “œmicroevolution” and “œmacroevolution” (Part 2). They conceptualize evolutionary adaptation as a series of individual changes, missing the entire mechanism provided by the population as a whole (Part 3). They make the extraordinary claim that no transitional fossils exist, simply by redefining “transitional” into something that could not possibly exist (Part 4). Creationists attempt to rewrite the last two centuries of scientific progress in order to avoid dealing with the multiple lines of evidence all independently affirming common descent and deep time (Part 5). They have far-reaching misapprehensions concerning microbiology and DNA (Part 6). On top of all this, they assign ethical and moral failings to evolutionary science in order to make evolution seem dangerous and anti-religion (Part 7). I will address each of these topics in the coming posts.

Appendix. Here are links to the following 7 articles:

1. Introduction and overview: Philosophy of pseudoscience [this post].

2. Variation and adaptation.

3. You don’t evolve, your species does.

4. Transitional fossils.

5. Evolution of evolution.

6. Genetic evidence.

7. The religion of evolution.

8. New perspective.

287 Comments

Looking forward to it.

Dang, now I’m going to have to check PT even more often!

To me as an interested non-scientist having read a great deal of creationist literature and scientific material adapted for non-specialists, Mr MacMillan’s outline seems spot on and I am looking forward to succeeding chapters of his writing.

A question that arises is the following: How does one account for people with excellent academic backgrounds in biological sciences - PhD’s from respected universities and so on - being fanatical creationists? I have in mind some of the staffers at Creation.com. It would be most interesting to see explanations for this phenomenon either by Mr MacMillan or others commenting here.

Creationists accept certain aspects of variation, adaptation, and speciation, but they artificially constrain the mechanism for adaptation to produce an imagined barrier between “œmicroevolution” and “œmacroevolution” (Part 2).

What’s amazing from this side is how the same sorts of derivation that they accept as evidence of descent with modification in some nebulous “microevolution” becomes mere “common design” in an equally nebulous, purported “macroevolution.”

Common descent and common design produce the same effects?

Hardly.

But then there’s that other aspect of almost all creationists–the acceptance of simple “explanations” that serve as apologetics without any sort of meaningful questioning or investigation. “Common designer” is the magic term that is supposed to banish common descent, so why think any further than that? And then they don’t. It is easy to do, I know that I got the “common designer” well poisoner early on, and only after accepting evolution via transitionals and the progression of life shown by fossils did I finally realize that a “common designer’s” productions would in fact be expected to deviate substantially from the results of common descent.

Of course you’re not supposed to “doubt,” so simple answers are supposed to be accepted. Simple-mindedness results all too often.

Glen Davidson

diogeneslamp0 said:

Looking forward to it.

Ditto. Although never a Creationist myself, I used to uncritically accept some pretty out-there Woo in my day. It’ll be very interesting to get an insider’s perspective with the light of honest introspection and self-reflection that I don’t typically get from practicing Creationists. Wonder if I’ll see many similarities to the ways I used to soak up pseudoscience and balderdash like a sponge.

They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention.

This is completely baffling. So many contributors to these disciplines have been religious people who have sincerely expressed their discoveries in pro-theist terms (understanding god, glorifying god, etc…).

Its a sort of backwards reasoning: if it damages my faith, the intent must’ve been to damage my faith. Um, no. To make an analogy: while wolves kill sheep, you can’t infer from that that every cause of sheep-death is a wolf.

I remember years back on Usenet that even people arguing against creationists seemed to buy into this distinction between “predictive” and “historical” science. I had never heard such a distinction before, but after puzzling over it, I wondered at the narrow interpretation of “predict.”

Obviously predicting the future course of evolution is rarely possible, but that’s not what the word means in science. It means making an observation that confirms a hypothesis, so among other things, finding a fossil more or less where you expected is confirming a prediction.

The scientific method is always a predictive process, and evolutionary science is no exception. I feel that even people who should know better have been too quick to concede this (but maybe things are better now). Based on your article, I think I have a better idea of how this arbitrary distinction has been injected into arguments over creationism. I think anyone who claims that evolutionary biology is not “predictive” needs to be called on it before the whole discussion goes down the “only a theory” rabbit hole.

“I will attempt to explain why creationist claims persist in the face of contrary evidence, even when individuals are otherwise well-educated”. And it is explained very well. I wonder if this explanation can be generalized to help explain other areas where claims persist in the face of contrary evidence even among otherwise well-educated individuals. My first thought is that just as young earth creationists have adopted a defensive posture toward evolution, those who are uncomfortable with the conclusions of climate science have adopted defensive postures and view climate science as somehow created to harm the fossil fuel industries.

callahanpb said:

I remember years back on Usenet that even people arguing against creationists seemed to buy into this distinction between “predictive” and “historical” science.

The fad these days seems to be “historical” vs. “operational”. Where the “good science” is about things that can be repeated and can be directly observed.

There is an article in RationalWiki under their slogan “How do know? Where you there?”

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/How_do[…]you_there%3F

My 2c: It is like learning to speak; learning your first language. Religious indoctrination is a very common occurence and if that as most often is the case, is fundamentalism, how can it be unlearned?

There are so many things wrong with the hackneyed “Were you there?” shtick that it is hard not to get miffed by the disingenuousness of the ploy; but I suspect that YECs like Ham enjoy poking “evilutionists” just to “make them demons squirm”.

The irony is that Ham demeans the “knowledge of men” while at the same time relying on the historical hearsay written down by men fighting among themselves during the political intrigues of the Nicean Councils over which writings were to be included in the Christian holy book.

Furthermore, Ham himself criticizes other Christians as though Ham himself is the One True Spokesman for all that is supposed to be Christian. Yet there are thousands of denominations within Christianity alone; and many of these denominations don’t like each other very much.

Ham is but one among many “entrepreneurs of sectarian religion” who make their living bilking a subset of religious believers by stoking suspicion, fear, alienation, and smug self-righteousness.

If there is one major “fault” with the US Constitution’s first amendment, it would probably be that it puts charlatans who hide behind religion outside the reaches of the law. On the other hand, that “fault” may also allow the rest of us to see first hand what some people will do in the name of religion to make money.

Unfortunately, in recent years, bending the intent of both the First and Second Amendments has established the rationales for the extreme self-indulgent behaviors of a few at the expense of everybody else.

P.T Barnum was right about there being a sucker born every minute; and there will always be someone else born to exploit them. As much as Ham would hate to admit it, he is actually a Social Darwinist.

They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention. Thus, they approach the concept of evolution from a defensive position; they believe it represents an attack on all religious faith.

Question here.

Yes, I agree that they do this.

But there’s something more.

Because if this was the issue, then being shown that many Christians accept science would be sufficient to allay their objections.

But instead, on learning of Christians who accept science, they reject them as “not true Christians”.

But think about this - they won’t accept science because it supposedly exists to challenge the existence of God, but then when presented with people who worship God and accept science, they say that those people worship God incorrectly.

It seems to me, quite frankly, that the rejection of science, and something represented by the science, is more important to them, ultimately, than the question of God. The commonality is that no matter who defends science, they find a reason to reject science.

Always love your insight, Dave. Seriously looking forward to this series, especially as an ex-creationist; I was able to get myself out of that trainwreck of theology in early high school so I never got into it deep enough to understand how they justify (to themselves) all the fallacious logic in their more “advanced arguments”.

Don Luigi said: A question that arises is the following: How does one account for people with excellent academic backgrounds in biological sciences - PhD’s from respected universities and so on - being fanatical creationists?

They seem generally to divide into two sorts: the ones who went into their education as creationists and had sufficient willpower (if that’s the right word) to maintain their beliefs in the face of all the evidence they were exposed to and those who in later life had a religious conversion and decided that evolution had to go because it conflicted with their newfound fundamentalism. In the former camp we might place Kurt Wise and Jonathan Wells. In the latter, the only one who immediately comes to mind is Dean Kenyon. In either case, they reject evolution because their faith, existing or newly found, trumps all empirical evidence.

Those who claim to discount merely human reasoning when it conflicts with what the Bible says …

How many of them resist the finding of modern science about the Earth being a planet of the Solar System? Perhaps they can persuade themselves that the “true meaning” of the Bible is compatible with heliocentrism, but no one ever has come to such a conclusion without modern science guiding the - well, how can one say that they did not discover the “true meaning” by anything other than “merely human reasoning”? For something like 2000 years, no one saw that.

How many of them follow the “merely human reasoning” that Moses couldn’t have written Deuteronomy 34, while claiming that the Bible says that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Replace the Modern Synthesis (Neo-Darwinism): An Interview With Denis Noble http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzan[…]5284211.html

“[W]hat Haldane, Fisher, Sewell Wright, Hardy, Weinberg et al. did was invent.… The anglophone tradition was taught. I was taught, and so were my contemporaries, and so were the younger scientists. Evolution was defined as “changes in gene frequencies in natural populations.” The accumulation of genetic mutations was touted to be enough to change one species to another.… No, it wasn’t dishonesty. I think it was wish fulfillment and social momentum. Assumptions, made but not verified, were taught as fact.”

No conserved molecular mechanisms that might enable mutations and natural selection to result in the evolution of biodiversity have ever been validated by experimental evidence. Thus, what we have is a theory that some people still believe in more than 80 years after it was invented. What’s worse is that Darwin placed ‘conditions of existence’ before natural selection and tried to ensure that others did so by repeatedly telling them not to jump into natural selection without consideration of what we now know to be the nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled physiology of reproduction in species from microbes to man.

The biophysical constraints on ecological adaptations that arise due to ecological variation make evolutionary theorists appear what Dobzhansky (1964) described in the context of bird watchers and butterfly collectors. There are now clear links from food odors to nutrient uptake and the altered microRNA/messenger RNA balance that enables amino acid substitutions to differentiate cell types in individuals of all species. See, for example:

Interspecies communication between plant and mouse gut host cells through edible plant derived exosome-like nanoparticles http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mnfr.201300729

This was reported as: http://news360.com/article/240380784 Amazing Food Science Discovery: Edible Plants ‘Talk’ To Animal Cells, Promote Healing

“With the recent discovery that non-coding microRNA’s in food are capable of directly altering gene expression within human physiology,[1] this new study further concretizes the notion that the age old aphorism ‘you are what you eat’ is now consistent with cutting edge molecular biology.”

Theorists tend to ignore cutting edge molecular biology, physics, and chemistry. Claiming that Creationist ignore evidence seems inappropriate.

Umm, let me guess. You’re selling ‘dietary supplements’, right?

Just Bob said:

Umm, let me guess. You’re selling ‘dietary supplements’, right?

Ha!

Hey, thanks to everyone; really thrilled to see a positive response back on this.

I’m planning to write a final post at the end of this series explaining a little bit about how I personally left creationism, if I get the time. I might also use that to answer any particularly interesting questions that arise in these comment sections from all of you. I’ll also try to briefly reply here in the comment threads if I can.

Thanks again for the feedback!

Don Luigi said:

How does one account for people with excellent academic backgrounds in biological sciences - PhD’s from respected universities and so on - being fanatical creationists? I have in mind some of the staffers at Creation.com. It would be most interesting to see explanations for this phenomenon either by Mr MacMillan or others commenting here.

This is one of the things I’m going to try to illustrate in the coming posts. In short, the rejection of biological evolution by otherwise-intelligent scientists with strong academic backgrounds is made possible by the accumulation of many many major misconceptions and misunderstandings of actual fact. They’ve replaced hundreds of critical facts with pseudo-facts…understandings that are just close enough to the truth to sound reasonable, but twisted enough to allow the pseudoscience to survive. That’s what this post series is about, really – explaining exactly where they’ve replaced fact with convincing-but-dead-wrong fiction, and thus how creationism survives.

Of course, that only explains how it’s possible, not why it actually happens. The why goes a lot deeper.

harold said:

They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention. Thus, they approach the concept of evolution from a defensive position; they believe it represents an attack on all religious faith.

Yes, I agree that they do this.

But there’s something more.

Because if this was the issue, then being shown that many Christians accept science would be sufficient to allay their objections.

But instead, on learning of Christians who accept science, they reject them as “not true Christians”.

Not as commonly as you might think. Creationists are clever. They know better than to insist that Christians who accept science aren’t true Christians. Instead, they insist that Christians who accept science are merely lead astray, overcome by the peer pressure of the secular scientific community and just a little deficient in religious fervor. A Christian who accepts evolution and deep time is a “compromiser” with weak and impotent faith who has let Man’s Sinful Ideas overcome God’s Infallible Truth.

Of course, that’s just for the Christians who simply accept evolution and move on. Christians who actively speak out against creationist pseudoscience, like me, get labeled as “angry” and “divisive” and “bitter”.

John Harshman said:

Don Luigi said: A question that arises is the following: How does one account for people with excellent academic backgrounds in biological sciences - PhD’s from respected universities and so on - being fanatical creationists?

They seem generally to divide into two sorts: the ones who went into their education as creationists and had sufficient willpower (if that’s the right word) to maintain their beliefs in the face of all the evidence they were exposed to and those who in later life had a religious conversion and decided that evolution had to go because it conflicted with their newfound fundamentalism.

This gets into the why, but not so much the how. The motivations for denying science probably have some commonalities from person to person but are still highly variable. The mechanisms required to make that sort of cognitive dissonance sustainable are more easily defined.

TomS said:

How many of them resist the finding of modern science about the Earth being a planet of the Solar System? Perhaps they can persuade themselves that the “true meaning” of the Bible is compatible with heliocentrism, but no one ever has come to such a conclusion without modern science guiding the - well, how can one say that they did not discover the “true meaning” by anything other than “merely human reasoning”? For something like 2000 years, no one saw that.

They’ll immediately throw up their hands and argue that the motion of the Earth around the Sun is observable in the present, while evolution and deep time are all “in the past” and so we can never know for sure. This, despite the fact that deep time is actually more readily demonstrable than the motion of the Earth around the Sun (there’s a 2’ chunk of slate and limestone in the parking lot behind my apartment that can singlehandedly demonstrate the impossibility of a global flood; disproving geocentrism takes a bit more work). To them, “science” is allowed and encouraged as long as it’s dealing with processes “in the present”, but it’s not allowed to make any claims about the past, because that’s the domain of divine revelation.

And of course they’ll say that even though the Biblical authors probably did believe in geocentrism, God was careful and made sure none of their foolish prescientific views made it into the Bible.

eric said:

They understand the theory of evolution, along with mainstream geology and a variety of other disciplines, as a philosophical construct created for the express purpose of explaining life on Earth apart from divine intervention.

This is completely baffling. So many contributors to these disciplines have been religious people who have sincerely expressed their discoveries in pro-theist terms (understanding god, glorifying god, etc…).

Its a sort of backwards reasoning: if it damages my faith, the intent must’ve been to damage my faith. Um, no. To make an analogy: while wolves kill sheep, you can’t infer from that that every cause of sheep-death is a wolf.

I think your analogy is slightly off. A more accurate one might be, “Wolves kill sheep”, therefore we can infer that, “Wolves were designed to kill sheep.” A version of the anthropic principle.

OTOH, some creationists would tell us that wolves were actually created to eat lettuce.

I think that most theorists have not followed the scientific progress that took serious scientists from the gene-centric view of evolution to what is now detailed in the context of biophysically-constrained ecological adaptations manifested in morphological and behavioral phenotypes. See for examples: A Challenge to the Supremacy of DNA as the Genetic Material http://blogs.plos.org/dnascience/20[…]ic-material/

Rehashing the pseudoscientific nonsense of evolutionary theory in attempts to make Creationists appear to be ignorant has failed in the past to do anything more than reinforce the fact that evolution doesn’t make sense in the light of biology. See: Combating Evolution to Fight Disease http://www.sciencemag.org/content/3[…]5/1088.short “…Theodosius Dobzhansky famously noted that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” but perhaps, too, “nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of biology.” Although the latter might be an exaggeration, an important gap is being filled by molecular understanding of the genesis of variation that confers the ability to evolve.”

Ecological variation confers the ability to ecologically adapt by nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction. Until evolutionary theorists explain how biodiversity arises (e.g., via mutations and natural selection – or whatever), Creationists will probably continue to follow Darwin’s lead by focusing on ‘conditions of life’ that are nutrient-dependent and not dependent on mutations and natural selection of anything except food.

Am I the only one having trouble pulling coherency out of our new visitor’s posts?

James V. Kohl said:

I think that most theorists have not followed the scientific progress that took serious scientists from the gene-centric view of evolution to what is now detailed in the context of biophysically-constrained ecological adaptations manifested in morphological and behavioral phenotypes. See for examples: A Challenge to the Supremacy of DNA as the Genetic Material http://blogs.plos.org/dnascience/20[…]ic-material/

Rehashing the pseudoscientific nonsense of evolutionary theory in attempts to make Creationists appear to be ignorant has failed in the past to do anything more than reinforce the fact that evolution doesn’t make sense in the light of biology. See: Combating Evolution to Fight Disease http://www.sciencemag.org/content/3[…]5/1088.short “…Theodosius Dobzhansky famously noted that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,” but perhaps, too, “nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of biology.” Although the latter might be an exaggeration, an important gap is being filled by molecular understanding of the genesis of variation that confers the ability to evolve.”

Ecological variation confers the ability to ecologically adapt by nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction. Until evolutionary theorists explain how biodiversity arises (e.g., via mutations and natural selection – or whatever), Creationists will probably continue to follow Darwin’s lead by focusing on ‘conditions of life’ that are nutrient-dependent and not dependent on mutations and natural selection of anything except food.

But creationists believe in gods, Jimmy, and gods are not real. They are fictional characters, like Harry Potter or the Avengers.

Until creationists can demonstrate the reality of gods, they will be laughed out of the room.

They conceptualize evolutionary adaptation as a series of individual changes, missing the entire mechanism provided by the population as a whole (Part 3).

While I had always accepted the notion of Evolution, it wasn’t until I started reading here and elsewhere about Evolution actually works. I also had understood it to be a series of individual changes. Evolution was your Mom having kids, writ large: individuals changing individually. Only recently did I come to understand the concept that individuals don’t evolve; populations evolve.

I now envision Evolution as a meandering river delta in several related but distinct ways. The river flows through “time”. A cross section of the river represents a point in time. The river is made up of many “micro” streams of water. That is, individual particles of water follow different trajectories within the flow of the river. (It helped me to visualize each separate trajectory with a separate color, a twisting web of smaller paths within the river, that make up the river. Some go down one channel in the delta, other particles go down another channel. The particles can represent a couple of things.

First, the river can represent the genome changing over time, while the particles can represent individual alleles within the genome. (I’m sure I’m using the terms here both loosely and inaccurately, but bear with me.) A cross section of such a river would give a snapshot of the entire genome at a point in time. The different parts of the genes aren’t evolving in lock step. Each part of the gene is evolving somewhat independently, just as the individual streams within the river can be thought of to flow separately within the river, but also interacting with each other is some ways.

Second, the river can represent a species (or multiple species) changing over time, while the particles can represent distinct familial lineages within the broader species. Each “trajectory” is made up of a family line, a sequence of individuals. A cross section of such a river would give a snapshot of all the individuals of the entire population at a point in time. The species is not evolving in lock step. Individual changes flow through the population. Sometimes parts of the species diverge, and sometimes they come back together, just as in the river delta. The “parts” that diverge might be “features” within the population, or family groups of individuals. The “event” of speciation is not the wolf giving birth to the dog, or in the analogy it is not the river “splitting” upon a rock in the middle of the flow. (Though, that too can happen some times.) Instead, speciation is more likely the meandering of the river across a flat plain, with no obvious direction, splitting and joining again.

Mike Elzinga said:

There are so many things wrong with the hackneyed “Were you there?” shtick that it is hard not to get miffed by the disingenuousness of the ploy; but I suspect that YECs like Ham enjoy poking “evilutionists” just to “make them demons squirm”.

The irony is that Ham demeans the “knowledge of men” while at the same time relying on the historical hearsay written down by men fighting among themselves during the political intrigues of the Nicean Councils over which writings were to be included in the Christian holy book…

The Christian cannon was fixed a long time before Nicea (by action at the grass roots level, oddly enough) congregation by congregation throughout the second century).

Here are the minutes of the council (confusingly called cannons in church terminology):

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3801.htm

You can see for yourself that they don’t touch on the issue.

Here is a good popularizing article by Roger Pearse debunking the anti-Nicean fairy tales that circulate in the atheist community.

http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/nicaea.html

I understand even Dawkins (or his minions) went off the deep end about Nicea last Easter.

callahanpb said:

Obviously predicting the future course of evolution is rarely possible, but that’s not what the word means in science. It means making an observation that confirms a hypothesis, so among other things, finding a fossil more or less where you expected is confirming a prediction.

The scientific method is always a predictive process, and evolutionary science is no exception. I feel that even people who should know better have been too quick to concede this (but maybe things are better now). Based on your article, I think I have a better idea of how this arbitrary distinction has been injected into arguments over creationism. I think anyone who claims that evolutionary biology is not “predictive” needs to be called on it before the whole discussion goes down the “only a theory” rabbit hole.

I think part of the confusion (sometimes intentional) are the scientific and “common” usages of the term “prediction”, just like the problem that creationists have with the term “theory”. The “common” usage of “prediction” is in fact a “guess” about what is going to happen in the future: the direction of some thing. Since “evolution” (and similarly, geology) is about what happened in the past, you can’t make a “prediction” about the past. All you can do is make a post-hoc “story” about the past, a “guess” based on our personal biases. As such, your “guess” is as good as anyone else’s “guess”. Since you’re both just making up stories, short of having a time machine, there’s no possible way to “test” which “story” was the right one.

I think that’s a primary reason why the Creationist seems baffled that Science is willing to simply accept a “plausible” mechanism. The Creationist is looking for the absolute “truth”, not a “story” about what might have been. It’s why they keep thinking that scientists are trying to say that this fossil “X” is our “ancestor”. How can you know that this particular fossil was our actual “ancestor”?

To be fair, I think the more recent TV shows (Cosmos, Your Inner Fish) are doing a much better job of being more precise in their descriptions, saying that this fossil “X” represents the kinds of species that represent our ancestors. It’s a subtle but important distinction.

david.starling.macmillan said:

This gets into the why, but not so much the how. The motivations for denying science probably have some commonalities from person to person but are still highly variable. The mechanisms required to make that sort of cognitive dissonance sustainable are more easily defined.

In all the time I have been watching these characters – since the 1970s – the pattern that sticks out most clearly is that they systematically bend and break scientific concepts in their own minds in order to fit with their sectarian beliefs. On several occasions I have watched a number of them do this in real time. Their thinking processes are stubborn and bizarre; and they seem to know they are doing it. If perchance anyone happens to notice the misconceptions and offers a correction, the process is quickly diverted into word gaming by the creationist.

In those relatively few cases I have actually observed an individual doing this distorting of concepts, I had a sense that there was a palpable fear that was driving the process; you can almost see their minds shutting down to any possibility that they are getting things wrong, and the arguments and rationalizations start almost instantly. I suspect this is behind some of the “testimony” that, say, the AiG “scientists” give when they say they felt persecuted when in secular science programs.

It is clear that Henry Morris and Duane Gish were well aware of the inner fears that YEC wannabe scientists had of attending secular institutions to get their degrees. On the one hand those would-be scientists wanted those letters after their names in order to become revered authority figures within their sectarian communities.

On the other hand, they genuinely appeared to fear loosing their religion and burning for eternity; that in addition to being ostracized by the community in which they grew up and in which they had already become invested as young teenagers. How do they suddenly turn their backs on the adulation they had been receiving throughout their formative years as they gave their testimonies and had been highly regarded in their church communities?

It’s a bit of a catch-22 for relatively bright kids who develop an interest in science and yet are brought up in a community that has rewarded them for their brightness and their faithfulness. Religious shunning and ostracizing can be devastating; and where does one find a mate after all that?

So Morris and Gish developed an institute that started the trend that helped such wannabes to bend and break concepts in a way that allowed them to keep their sectarian dogma. If they went to a secular institution to get those valued letters after their names, all they had to do was to keep their heads down and regurgitate what they thought their professors wanted to hear from them. As long as they were working within a group in a busy lab in which they could take on relatively mundane tasks and help produce papers for the group, they could probably slip by unnoticed – although not unnoticed by their fellow students.

However, the problems begin when they have to write research proposals on their own. Lasting in a research institution that relies on cutting-edge research is out of the question for them in the long run. Better to go to sectarian colleges or third tier secular schools that put more emphasis on teaching courses with large numbers of students who aren’t going into science.

While theorists continued to remain ignorant of cause and effect, it became clear that mutated genes were not responsible for biodiversity.

Molecular biology: A second layer of information in RNA http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/505621a

Carl Zimmer wrote: “Others maintain that as random mutations arise, complexity emerges as a side effect, even without natural selection to help it along. Complexity, they say, is not purely the result of millions of years of fine-tuning through natural selection—the process that Richard Dawkins famously dubbed “the blind watchmaker.” To some extent, it just happens.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/a[…]-complexity/

Since mutated genes and natural selection have been eliminated from evolutionary theory, I’ve seen no revision that restates the argument for the theory that typically is touted in discussions like this one.

What is it that theorists now claim should be compared to Creationist’s beliefs. Is anyone willing to say anything more than evolution “just happens?”

James V. Kohl said: Is anyone willing to say anything more than evolution “just happens?”

Why isn’t that sufficient? Waves “just happen”, and form beaches. Clouds “just happen”, and form hurricanes and tornadoes. Gravity “just happens” and forms stars. Evolution “just happens”, and forms biodiversity.

Seems quite sufficient to me.

James V. Kohl said:

While theorists continued to remain ignorant of cause and effect, it became clear that mutated genes were not responsible for biodiversity.

Molecular biology: A second layer of information in RNA http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/505621a

Carl Zimmer wrote: “Others maintain that as random mutations arise, complexity emerges as a side effect, even without natural selection to help it along. Complexity, they say, is not purely the result of millions of years of fine-tuning through natural selection—the process that Richard Dawkins famously dubbed “the blind watchmaker.” To some extent, it just happens.” http://www.scientificamerican.com/a[…]-complexity/

Since mutated genes and natural selection have been eliminated from evolutionary theory, I’ve seen no revision that restates the argument for the theory that typically is touted in discussions like this one.

What is it that theorists now claim should be compared to Creationist’s beliefs. Is anyone willing to say anything more than evolution “just happens?”

Apparently you want to propose some theory to replace the ToE.

What is it? How does it work?

How does it explain all that the ToE explains, from the beaks of Galapagos finches to Mendel’s peas, etc.?

You see, Jimmy, it isn’t enough to just deny. You must provide some alternative. Otherwise people just laugh.

eric said:

I have no idea how creationists deal with archaea and other stuff that isn’t either plant or animal. I also don’t know what they say about single-celled organisms that might blur the line between animal and plant.

What I would say, however, is that they tend to care less about the details of their ideas the further away from human you go. So for instance with “kinds” - they’ll express very detailed ideals about whether earlier hominids count as human or not, drawing very fine distinctions based on minor features. But when it comes to insects or plants, they kinda handwave away the millions of different species and seem fine with the idea that an entire taxonomic order (or even bigger grouping) counts as one “kind.”

Of course, the farther away from “mammal” you get, the easier it is to posit that the creatures in question weren’t land-based air-breathers, allowing them to claim that whole populations survived the Flood.

But there are some areas where this isn’t possible. You can see some of the inventive and elaborate hoop-jumping they go through here regarding birds.

Chickens, turkeys, pheasants, vulturine guineas, curassows, peacocks, and partridges are all considered to have descended from a single pair of super-landfowl on board the Ark. All penguins, despite their incredible variation (including, I assume, the numerous fossil penguins), are supposed to be from a single pair of super-penguins on the Ark. Yet petrels, storm petrels, and diving petrels are inexplicably separate kinds. All parrots and cockatoos are the same “created kind” and yet God ostensibly created “barn owls” separately from all the other owls. All eagles, kites, hawks, harriers, and vultures descended from a single pair of super-raptors. All 344 known species of hummingbird, from the tiny bee hummingbird weighing less than a penny to the starling-sized Giant Hummingbird, came from a single super-hummingbird pair. Naturally, all 232 species of woodpeckers are cousins. Amazingly, all 1421 species of sparrows/finches (including all of Darwin’s finches) are supposedly descended from a single pair.

This manages to reduce all birds down to only 196 “kinds” on the Ark. It’s uncomfortable for them, of course, because this results in many of their famous “see this was designed” examples ending up as evolved traits. They are forced to posit that the 196 superspecies on the Ark had an ungodly amount of genetic diversity with myriads of hidden genetic traits that rapidly varied and diversified out into what we see today.

Scott F said:

david.starling.macmillan said:

Remember that the YECs only have days to weeks passing between Creation and the Fall.

You would think that a “perfect” creation would last a bit longer than it took to make it. It obviously didn’t go through any QA before being released. Or is that just the chance you take with The Universe (v1.0)?

Strictly speaking, it’s an improvement over the original story. In the actual Genesis-1-fable, the Fall occurs on Day 6. Because, of course, Day 6 is a mythic representation of all of human history.

Rolf said:

david.starling.macmillan said:

Remember that the YECs only have days to weeks passing between Creation and the Fall.

That explains it, carnivores just survived until flesh was declared kosher.

Adam: “Oh, dear lion, won’t you PLEASE eat the spinach? Please please please? It’s good for you, I promise. You need your iron! Why won’t you eat it? Okay, I give up. Eve, go eat from the Tree; we’ve got to get carnivory going or these lions are going to lose it.”

eric said:

DanHolme said:

And sharks, presumably?

Seaweed and/or algae mats I guess. If anything, the ocean ecosystems are even more of a problem for FL’s brand of literalism than the land ones, because with some minor exceptions practically everything from plankton on up is carnivorous.

But plankton is basically like a plant, right? Sort of? Please please please?

Creationists will talk at length about how the predatory capacity of sharks is so clearly designed…yet deny death prior to the Fall. Really?

diogeneslamp0 said:

And in some shark species, like the grey nurse shark, practice carnivory in utero, with the big embryos eating their brothers and sisters (they have teeth in the womb). A pregnant shark may start out with 40 embryos but just one is born, having eaten all the others. After birth, the survivor must skedaddle before his own mother tries to eat him.

Quite an intelligent design.

If the embryo feeds on eggs, then the term is “oophagy,” if the embryo feeds on other developing embryo, then the term is “intrauterine cannibalism.”

Fossils of the enigmatic tadpole-like chimaera, Delphyodontos dacriformes, suggest that intrauterine cannibalism has a long history in the evolution of cartilaginous fishes.

david.starling.macmillan said:

eric said:

DanHolme said:

And sharks, presumably?

Seaweed and/or algae mats I guess. If anything, the ocean ecosystems are even more of a problem for FL’s brand of literalism than the land ones, because with some minor exceptions practically everything from plankton on up is carnivorous.

But plankton is basically like a plant, right? Sort of? Please please please?

Creationists will talk at length about how the predatory capacity of sharks is so clearly designed…yet deny death prior to the Fall. Really?

There is also the problem of how some algae are not as cut and dry photosynthetic wallflowers as Creationists would have you believe.

Like how the larval sporophyte stage of kelp require a coralline red alga host to develop in (and eventually kill as the sporophyte matures), or how species of the dinoflagellate genus Pfiesteria are carnivorous and attack fish by damaging their prey’s tissue with released toxins in order to absorb sloughed off dying tissue.

Creationists allow for the secondary special creation of “thorns and thistles” (sometimes interpreted to include disease-causing pathogens) following the Fall, so in theory they could quite conveniently argue that all cannibalistic and parasitic and carnivorous species and anatomy were created specially after the Fall. But of course then you get into unpleasant questions about how most sharks would’ve had to have been created completely new (because they are carnivores through-and-through), which means they’re a product of the Curse, which means they’re completely the result of evil, which means they’re intrinsically evil. For God to create a completely evil macrospecies seems like an evil thing to do, which is uncomfortable.

TBH, creationists should be able to posit that God did ANOTHER special creation episode following the Flood, creating completely new information in each post-Flood generation for a few centuries or so in order to more rapidly repopulate and rediversify the planet. I penned this humorous piece last weak as an example of how a YEC author could claim exactly that:

Fictional YEC David said:

One of the challenges in defending a Biblical, God-glorifying model of Earth’s history is explaining the diversification of life after the Flood of Noah’s day. The rate at which the various “kinds” on the Ark would have had to diverge into the species we know today is extremely high, higher than we observe today. Atheistic evolutionists who want to challenge the authority of God’s Word often mock Biblical creationists on this point, calling it “hyper-evolution” and making Christians out to be foolish.

Some sincere creationists have suggested extremely high mutation rates to allow this to take place shortly after the Flood, perhaps due to residual radiation from the mechanisms that produced the deluge, but such explanations usually end up causing more problems than they solve. Rather than depending heavily on man’s fallible ideas about science, we should turn to God’s infallible Word for our answers.

Psalm 104 is a majestic narrative about the sustaining power of God over His creation. This chapter has been traditionally identified with the creation narrative in Genesis 1, but that might not necessarily be the case.

Verses 6-9 unambiguously describe not the creation week, but the historical Flood itself:

You covered [the Earth] with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.

These emphasized statements – that the waters covered all the mountains, and that they will never again flood the earth – can only refer to Noah’s Flood. If these referred to the waters being separated from the dry land on Day 2, they would be proven false by the Flood, as it covered the Earth in water, and the Scripture cannot lie. So this entire chapter must be read as discussing what God has done after the Flood took place.

Further verses talk about God planting the cedars of Lebanon. The chapter named very specific creatures: storks, wild goats, hyraxes, and lions. We know that these are all species which came into existence after the flood, as goats descended from one sheep-goat kind on the Ark, lions descended from one feline kind on the ark, and so forth.

Verse 24 is key. “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”

While the creation of each baramin reproducing after its own kind was accomplished during the six-day creation week, this may not have been the only time when God’s creative power was extended into our planet’s created biosphere. At the end of Genesis 8, God tells Noah, “Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.” This “increasing in number” could be understood to refer not only to the quantity of living creatures, but the kinds of living creatures.

These verses seem to indicate that God’s creative hand could have been involved in recreating the diversity of life using the animals Noah brought on the Ark. Psalm 104:24 says, “How many are your works, Lord” – implying that the creative works of God extend perhaps beyond what we would expect.

Just as God added thorns and thistles to the world following the curse at the Fall, God could have added new genetic information to successive generations immediately following the Flood in order to fill the Earth more rapidly and help every kind of living creature adapt to the changed environment. This demonstrates God’s mercy alongside His justice – He wiped the Earth of wickedness, but added new creative works so that the restored world could thrive.

This is not the same as evolution. Every kind of animal still reproduces after its own kind, but each “tree” descending from every kind carried on the Ark could diversify more rapidly if God added new genetic information. This can explain why different families have different levels of genetic divergence within their Biblically-created kinds despite all recently coming from individual pairs on the Ark.

And now you see how creationist apologetics is written. Identify problem, imagine creative solution, look for a prooftext to justify your solution, interpret evidence according to your solution.

I think young-earth creationists shy away from this for two reasons. First, it’s painfully obvious special pleading, and they really want to appear to be invoking divine intervention as rarely as possible (and, when they must invoke it, they want it to seem as regular and predictable as possible so they can still appear to be doing science). Second, it’s uncomfortably close to Progressive Old-Earth Creationism, which they decry as theologically unsound.

david.starling.macmillan said:

But plankton is basically like a plant, right? Sort of? Please please please?

The whales must have had a heck of a time separating out the krill from the phytoplankton before swallowing.

david.starling.macmillan said: First, it’s painfully obvious special pleading, and they really want to appear to be invoking divine intervention as rarely as possible (and, when they must invoke it, they want it to seem as regular and predictable as possible so they can still appear to be doing science).

It’s sort of like their own version of Occam’s razor. Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest supernatural assumptions should be selected. Ham’s razor?

Dave Luckett said:

Of course, as eric points out, all this is false to fact in itself. Evolution would still occur. And it only applies to animals. Plants were being eaten, even on the FL take. You think plants don’t evolve in response to selection pressures like that? Apparently FL doesn’t. But then, FL doesn’t think about the things that FL doesn’t think about.

Which is why FL is FL.

But does FL think about things he does think about?

davidjensen said:

david.starling.macmillan said: First, it’s painfully obvious special pleading, and they really want to appear to be invoking divine intervention as rarely as possible (and, when they must invoke it, they want it to seem as regular and predictable as possible so they can still appear to be doing science).

It’s sort of like their own version of Occam’s razor. Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest supernatural assumptions should be selected. Ham’s razor?

Which, humorously, seems like a lack of faith.

But that misses the point of why creationism exists. Creationism came into existence for a lot of reasons, of course, but one of the main things it is employed for is a defense of theism. It’s intended to make science appear to prove God’s existence – or to make science appear to prove that God is required. To that end, then, they want to posit the least amount of supernatural intervention possible as long as God is still the underlying cause of it all, because that allows them to double down on the science aspect.

david.starling.macmillan said:

Fictional YEC David said:

Just as God added thorns and thistles to the world following the curse at the Fall, God could have added new genetic information to successive generations immediately following the Flood in order to fill the Earth more rapidly and help every kind of living creature adapt to the changed environment. This demonstrates God’s mercy alongside His justice – He wiped the Earth of wickedness, but added new creative works so that the restored world could thrive.

I think Fictional David missed a point, one which seems to go to the heart of the matter. Aren’t sharks and other carnivores part of that “wickedness”? God created killing machines, and predator wasps. Seems pretty wicked to me.

On the other hand, if God had created thousands of different ways of dying in order to facilitate the functioning of Evolution (which he also created), that would seem to be to be rather clever.

It isn’t “Creationism” that is the problem, per se. It seems that Theistic Evolutionists have solved that problem. Just embrace the Science. Evolution becomes the tool that God created and uses to mold life to His will. Everyone’s happy. (Except maybe phhht. :-) The world is as God created and maintains it. No special pleading required. Heck, as most creationist’s are wont to point out, most “natural philosophers” (Darwin included) started out simply by seeking to better understand the world that God created, and how he had created it.

But Biblical literalism doesn’t allow that. It’s the cherry-picking, head-in-the-sand literalism that seems to be the primary sticking point. The literalist can’t accept that the Bible is true allegory. The literalist must stand on his head and spin clockwise on Tuesdays to read the Bible as true history.

And that’s why we continue to discuss the Bible here, because the YEC, the Literalist, uses the Bible to put limits on what God can and cannot do, and to put limits on what Science can and cannot reveal about God’s creation. The Literalist imputes his own limitations onto God, because he can’t understand anything else. The god of the Theistic Evolutionist is far more creative and subtle that the god of the Literalist. The god of the TE at least has a sense of humor. The god of the Literalist is as dumb and humorless as a brick. He’s the schoolyard bully that beats everyone into submission, because he doesn’t know any other way.

Scott F said:

david.starling.macmillan said:

Fictional YEC David said:

Just as God added thorns and thistles to the world following the curse at the Fall, God could have added new genetic information to successive generations immediately following the Flood in order to fill the Earth more rapidly and help every kind of living creature adapt to the changed environment. This demonstrates God’s mercy alongside His justice – He wiped the Earth of wickedness, but added new creative works so that the restored world could thrive.

I think Fictional David missed a point, one which seems to go to the heart of the matter. Aren’t sharks and other carnivores part of that “wickedness”? God created killing machines, and predator wasps. Seems pretty wicked to me.

Oh, but we deserve it, because eating that fruit was just SOOO much more wicked than every natural evil and natural disaster than has happened in the 6000 years that followed.

Scott F said:

But Biblical literalism doesn’t allow that. It’s the cherry-picking, head-in-the-sand literalism that seems to be the primary sticking point. The literalist can’t accept that the Bible is true allegory. The literalist must stand on his head and spin clockwise on Tuesdays to read the Bible as true history.

And that’s why we continue to discuss the Bible here, because the YEC, the Literalist, uses the Bible to put limits on what God can and cannot do, and to put limits on what Science can and cannot reveal about God’s creation. The Literalist imputes his own limitations onto God, because he can’t understand anything else.

I’m not sure that I understand your two statements: that the Literalist uses the Bible to put limits on what God can do; that the Literalist imputes his own limitations on God.

david.starling.macmillan said:

Oh, but we deserve it, because eating that fruit was just SOOO much more wicked than every natural evil and natural disaster than has happened in the 6000 years that followed.

Of course, there’s nothing new about the notion of the jealous, vengeful God of the Old Testament, but this is first time I’ve ever thought God as Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny.

Hmm. In unrelated news, my old friend Dr. Lisle has a new article up on the AiG website. They sure do like naming logical fallacies, don’t they?

It’s mostly a rehash of poor arguments against an old universe (and makes no attempt to address the major problems with a young one), but a few particularly unpleasant bits stuck out. For example:

Jason Lisle wrote:

…star formation is riddled with theoretical problems. It has never been observed, nor could it truly be observed since the process is supposed to take hundreds of thousands of years.

If star formation is a process which takes hundreds of thousands of years, why would you count it as a problem that it has never been observed!? This is the same as the “macroevolution has never been observed” trope; OBVIOUSLY it has not been observed because it is, by definition, something which cannot be observed over human lifespans!

As with biological evolution, we see snapshots of stellar evolution at every conceivable stage. But of course, every time we find one of these “missing links”, they will simply say “Wait, now there are two empty slots on either side!” They don’t recognize that each missing link we find (biological or astronomical) is itself a confirmation of the predictions produced by the models in question.

They also have this one, in which they claim “biologists are puzzled” as to how “tiny genetic changes can produce so many dog varieties in such a short time”. They cite this “puzzlement” with this article, which unsurprisingly says nothing of the sort.

TomS said:

Scott F said:

But Biblical literalism doesn’t allow that. It’s the cherry-picking, head-in-the-sand literalism that seems to be the primary sticking point. The literalist can’t accept that the Bible is true allegory. The literalist must stand on his head and spin clockwise on Tuesdays to read the Bible as true history.

And that’s why we continue to discuss the Bible here, because the YEC, the Literalist, uses the Bible to put limits on what God can and cannot do, and to put limits on what Science can and cannot reveal about God’s creation. The Literalist imputes his own limitations onto God, because he can’t understand anything else.

I’m not sure that I understand your two statements: that the Literalist uses the Bible to put limits on what God can do; that the Literalist imputes his own limitations on God.

I think he’s saying that because the Literalist is insufficiently literate (now there’s some irony) in the disciplines of textual criticism and genre identification, and refuses to be educated thusly (because education would unseat his justifications for bigotry and legalism), he takes the results of his poor exegesis as absolute fact and applies them to his understanding of God.

callahanpb said:

There’s nothing new about the notion of the jealous, vengeful God of the Old Testament, but this is the first time I’ve ever thought God as Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny.

Hah, I hadn’t thought of that.

The notion of a vengeful Old Testament God is one that crops up periodically in history. Nothing new under the sun, you know.

My bible says they ate meat…

(KJV) Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given … meat: and it was so.

AiG, to its credit, has gone to great lengths in distancing itself from this view, depicting its versions of Adam and Eve as rather dark-skinned with vaguely Middle-Eastern features, trying to take into account as many ethnicities as possible. Which is nice of them to try and do. In their fictional universe.

Prig point, David. “and” is a conjunction so, I’m sure you know, the phrase “to try and do” is functionally inaccurate. Just a personal fingernails-on-the-blackboard.

Yardbird said:

AiG, to its credit, has gone to great lengths in distancing itself from this view, depicting its versions of Adam and Eve as rather dark-skinned with vaguely Middle-Eastern features, trying to take into account as many ethnicities as possible. Which is nice of them to try and do. In their fictional universe.

Prig point, David. “and” is a conjunction so, I’m sure you know, the phrase “to try and do” is functionally inaccurate. Just a personal fingernails-on-the-blackboard.

Hendiadys

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendiadys

TomS said:

Yardbird said:

AiG, to its credit, has gone to great lengths in distancing itself from this view, depicting its versions of Adam and Eve as rather dark-skinned with vaguely Middle-Eastern features, trying to take into account as many ethnicities as possible. Which is nice of them to try and do. In their fictional universe.

Prig point, David. “and” is a conjunction so, I’m sure you know, the phrase “to try and do” is functionally inaccurate. Just a personal fingernails-on-the-blackboard.

Hendiadys

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hendiadys

Yeah, Fowler’s wrong by this definition. Hendiadys applies to a noun and adjective. In the phrase “try and do”, “try” and “do” are both verbs. A reading of it as “to try and to do”, as in “to try to take… and to take…”, makes more sense, even if it is redundant. I suspect this is a (southern?) colloquialism that I wouldn’t notice if I’d grown up with it. As I said, a prig point.

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