The Academic Freedom Petition

September 30, 2008

When I was studying biology in secondary school, I used to enjoy the extra elements my teacher brought into the classroom far more than anything in the textbook. None of it ever came up in an exam, but I wasn’t in it just to pass the Leaving Cert; I just wanted to know as much as I could about biology. Unfortunately, not even my very dedicated teacher had time to get into the scientific debates going on at the time, for several reason. The most obvious is that those debates require a level of education far higher than what any secondary school student will have, but there’s also the issue of those exams I mentioned – like it or not, he had to cover a certain amount of material in a limited amount of time.

I bring this up because of the latest move by Creationists (under the guise of Intelligent Design proponents, of course) to get their psuedoscience into American classrooms. Meet the Academic Freedom Petition. What is it? ‘Teach the Controversy’, basically, but dressed up in the garb of ‘freedom’ and (surprise, surprise) further from religious funamentalism than any previous push to get ID into schools. From the website:

Across America, the freedom of scientists, teachers, and students to question Darwin is coming under increasing attack by self-appointed defenders of the theory of evolution who are waging a malicious campaign to demonize and blacklist anyone who disagrees with them.

This seems pretty innocent at first glance – after all, everyone should have the right to question whatever they like. Of course, it’s not that simple, and I’ll explain why.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is very obviously a Creationist initiative. The Petition website contains links to IntelligentDesign.org (which itself seems to be a product of the Centre for Science and Culture, the science branch of the infamous Discovery Institute) and, of all things, the Expelled website. If you think advocating Stein’s ‘documentary’ should be enough to destroy any credibility this movement may have had, you’d be wrong. The people behind this latest ploy do have a point, but (as always) they’re twisting it out of shape to further their own agenda.

It is true that most high school teachers either can’t or won’t discuss Creationism in their classroom, for a variety of reasons. As Airtightnoodle has pointed out, the laws preventing Creationism from being taught are something of a double-edged sword, in that they also prevent teachers from refuting it. Even where this isn’t explicit school policy, a teacher can put his or her job in danger by discussing what everyone knows is a religious topic. In high school, Creationism is a no-go area. I wish this wasn’t the case, if only to silence claims that biology teachers are incapable of replying to Creationist myths (again, Airtightnoodle goes a long towards debunking that one, but at the moment those are the rules that teachers must play by.

The Petition goes further than that, however, by implying that everyone involved in education or science is being prevented from questioning evolution. This goes hand-in-hand with the implication that the arguments presented in the likes of Expelled are actually valid and worthy of being taught to students. This is obviously not the case (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever heard Stein trying to talk about science), and the Petition falls apart when you realise that they’re backing the same refuted arguments that ‘evolutionists’ have been fielding for decades.

If there actually was significant scientific debate over the validity of evolutionary theory, and if Creationists actually did have something meaningful to say on the subject, then I might be more sympathetic to projects like this. As it stands, ‘academic freedom’ is a dressed up phrase for ‘psuedoscience, delivered to students by teachers’. Letting biology teachers point out imaginary weaknesses in evolution would be like letting history teachers point out weaknesses in the idea that the Holocaust was a real event, or that the moon landings were genuine. Rather than strengthening academic freedom, it would make a farce of academic integrity, at a stroke lowering the standards for what should and should not be allowed into a classroom dramatically. Creationism is laughed out of third-level institutes because it’s wrong, and it’s banned from high schools because it’s blatantly religious.

It’s also interesting that evolution is the only theory being targeted here – if this is a genuine push for better education, why does it only focus on what has historically been the whipping boy of the Creationist movement?

As always, the Discovery Institute and its ilk are attempting to smuggle their myths in through the back door. Having utterly failed to make any headway in the scientific community (this is what they mean when they whine about being ‘censored’ or unfairly ignored), they’re bypassing the whole bothersome process and going straight for legislation – again. Which leads to the disturbing question of how many times they have to throw their crap at the wall before some of it sticks.

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Adnan Oktar

September 29, 2008

Have you heard the news? Adnan Oktar, a Turkish Creationist known for being slightly off the wall, has put a bounty of ten trillion Turkish lira on ‘any intermediate-form fossil that demonstrates evolution’ (paraphrasing). 

That’s ten trillion Turkish lira. Almost eight trillion dollars. Four and a half trillion pounds Sterling. Five and a half trillion euro. 

In other words, a lot of money.

This is essentially Kent Hovind’s challenge, except that Oktar is offering way, way more money for far less evidence. Hovind was essentially demanding proof of five different theories, with the caveat that you’d also have to prove that God was not involved in them in any way – which is obviously impossible. Oktar apparently just wants a single example of a transitional fossil that ‘demonstrates evolution’. This guy has produced an 800-page book (almost an encyclopedia) explaining why numerous fossils are evidence of Creationism rather than evolution, so I’m guessing showing him Archaeopteryx isn’t going to cut it.

I haven’t been able to find the original announcement (is it available in English?), so I have a few questions about this supposed offer:

1) Does he actually have that much money? He’s apparently a member of some sort of cult-like organisation that collectively has considerable wealth, but still – trillions of Turkish lira? I smell a fraud.

2) What exactly is he looking for? Hovind is a classic example of why these ‘challenges’ are never genuine, and I doubt Oktar is deluded enough to believe that there aren’t any transitional fossils out there. What’s the catch?

Before you rush off to become a multi-trillionaire, you should see what PZ Meyers has suggested would be a good way to use the money:

 

Instead, though, I’m going to suggest something that will help out the entire country. The US government should immediately send a plane to pick up Mr Oktar, bring him to our country, and take him on a guided tour of the Smithsonian and the American Museum of Natural History, accompanied by Niles Eldredge, Kevin Padian, Jerry Coyne, Sean Carroll, and the entire scientific staff of those museums. Afterwards, they can accept the check from Mr Oktar, run down to the local bank and cash it, and use one trillion dollars to resolve the current financial crisis, seven trillion can be sunk immediately into the American educational system, and they can send the change left over to me as a reward for coming up with this brilliant plan.

 

I did a bit of reading on Oktar and discovered that his brand of Creationism is apparently almost identical to the Christian variety, except that he believes evolution is responsible for Buddhism –  in addition to the usual parade of materalism, Nazism, communism (isn’t that contradictory?) and atheism. Who knew?


The Latest Volley

September 28, 2008

(This originally appeared on Sirius Knott’s blog, and is his reply to this post of mine. He had put it somewhere where few were likely to see it, and has generously agreed to let me repost it here, in its unedited entirety. Enjoy! I’ll most likely put my own reply in the comment section.

Copyright, etc. for this belongs to Sirius Knott, obviously.)

 

Forknowledge has responded to this post in his usual half-cocked way. A good portion of the reply seems to consist of large chunks of quotes from me. These quoted portions account for the entirety of the intelligence in his article!

In his reply, he notes that I charged him with a form of argumentum ad antiquitum when he argued that uniformitarianism pre-dates Darwin’s theory and therefore modern geology cannot be based on evolutionary presuppositions. This was a careless dodge. Darwin incorporated Lyellian uniformitarianism into his theory [he stole pretty much all of the ideas in Origins]. Modern geology has not bothered to refute Darwin as his theory [which incorporated uniformitarianism] explained how [without being too specific as to the mechanism] the fossil record and stratum could be accounted for by modren processes. Modern geology is based not simply on uniformitarianism BUT ALSO evolutionary assumptions. Again, since the former has been incorporated into the latter, it is completely accurate to say that modern geology is NOW based on evolutionary presuppositions, even though geology prior to Darwin may have [and this doubted since evolution is an idea that was around since the Greeks, though not in its Darwinian form obviously] only accepted uniformitarianism and not evolutionism. In fact, I believe I can re-phrase my objection to state that modern geology is NOW based on neo-Darwinian presuppositions, though geology prior to Darwin were based only upon uniformitarianism and some proto-Darwinian evolutionary presuppositions. To bawlderize forknowledge, early geology may have influenced evolutionary theory and not the other way round, in today’s world it is evolutionary theory that influenced modern geology and not the other way round! Ah, sweet accuracy.

I’ll not comment much on his response to my clarification of neo-Catastrophism, except to say that I had forgotten that there is a group of Noachim Catastrophists who now try to identify themselves as neo-catastrophists in much the way modern darwinists insist that they are neo-Darwinists. Both theories are much more sophisticated than their predecessors, especially since we all have to account for a growing body of data. I’ve cautioned Noachim catatrophists against using the neo prefix since it’s already in use by secular catastrophists and might cause confusion, which it apparently has.

I’ve already commented on forknowledge’s demonstrable ignorance on Flood Geology and Creationism in general. It seems one so opposed to a theory ought to at least know what it is he disagrees with! I suggested in the above response that he read a book he unaccountably referenced, The Genesis Flood. He responded, “I’m told to read The Genesis Flood, which I don’t intend on doing.” For someone who’s supposed to be “for knowledge,” he seems stubbornly and willfully ignorant of his oppositions actual claims! One can only presume that rather than attacking real Creationism and Catastrophism that he is defending Darwin against the onslaught of an awful straw man Creationism/Catastrophism composited from baseless caricatures on antiCreationist sites! Dare we take this simpleton seriously?

Next, he shrugs at my warning that a majority of scientists can be wrong and then goes on to critique my comments concerning the fossil record. This is only appropriate as he was originally responding to Darwin’s Dyke: What the Fossil Record Actually Shows.

His major objection concerns fossil sorting. He believes what they’ve told him to believe, that the strata represent geological ages, like a good little Darbot. He objects to one of the creationist theories I’ve read regarding how this might occur, a part of which involves tidal waves. In all honesty, I was sloppy and presented an incomplete picture of the processes involved, so creationally-illiterate fo’nawlij cannot be blamed that he didn’t pick up on that. I intend to relate the processes involved in laying down the fossil stratum in a future post, but perhaps the following will alleviate his concerns that I’m just tilting at windmills:

In an article entitled The Fossil Record: Becoming More Random All the Time, John Woodmorappe comments:

“Creationists, including myself, have provided a variety of alternative explanations for fossil succession. These include such mechanisms as the sorting of organisms during the Flood, differential escape of organisms during the same, ecological zonation of life-forms in the antediluvian world (such that different life-forms in different strata reflect the serial burial of ecological life-zones during the Flood), and TABs (Tectonically-Associated Biological Provinces—wherein different life forms occur in successive horizons of rock as a reflection of successive crustal downwarp of different life-bearing biogeographic communities).

All of these mechanisms do away with the notion that horizons of fossils demand successive passages of time during which the organisms lived. In other words, they allow for there to have been only one set of mutually-contemporaneous living things on a young earth, instead of a repetitive replacement of living things over vast periods of time. Most of the earth’s sedimentary record is viewed as being deposited by the Noachian Deluge, and not over successive depositional events in analogues of modern sedimentary environments on an evolving earth.”

In other words, there are possible answers and creation scientists and flood geologists are hard at work testing their hypotheses.

His next objection is simply darling. He invokes parsimony to explain to me why we shouldn’t use one big event to explain a phenomenon instead of myriad smaller events. He really needs to look up the meaning of that word, for parsimony doesn’t not merely indicate that science should choose whichever explanation which will least support the Creationist position. Noachim Flood is only unnecesary as an explanation if it did not occur. Unfortunately for fo’nawlij there is a good deal of independent evidence for a global flood in the form of flood legends which are prevalent word-wide. I bring up flood legends because he mentions them later in his response. Of course, he displays his trademark amazing LACK of the slightest grasp of Creationism when he objects [and I am NOT making this up! He actually printed it on his own site! Ha!]:

“Knott mentions flood legends briefly, in reply to which I’d like to ask him how cultures that were supposedly wiped out by the flood managed to make stories about it afterwards.”

Ha! We don’t posit that drowned cultures wrote down flood legends post-mortem. How could Creationism have survived this long if we ever claimed something so obviously contradictory? No, we claim that all the world was destroyed by a global flood, save Noah and his family. Afterwards, humanity thrived again but remained localized for the largest part, though God had commanded them to disperse. At Babel, God divided mankind into different languages and dispersed them. Each of these people groups came to form the historical cultures. Some of these cultures forgot God. Others remembered the Flood, though the story had become distorted over time. Incidentally, there are also legends worldwide that speak of man having once spoke one language. Some even mention that God or a god divided the languages. Darwinism accounts for neither trend of universal legends.

Predictably, after his invocation of parsimony, he seques into a diatribe about how a belief in God destroys science, nevermind that the majority of science’s founders were deists and theists who believed God had created the world and had given them reason in order for them to discover how the world worked and thereby learn more about the power and nature of God. Here is another fellow that simply paints the stained-glass window black and then rails that it lets in no hue or light. To illustrate his point that saying “Goddidit” destroys scientific inquiry, he gives three example questions that might, with the flip of a coin, be answered with “darwindidit” or “chancedidit.” [Here, it seems, he has learned nothing from Eric Kemp’s excellent essay The Basic Fine-Tuning Argument for God’s Existence.]

He presumes upon reason when he states that “there is no way to test the God hypothesis,” forgetting conveiniently that things we cannot observe or prove directly, like quantum particles, may be infered from the data. I DEFY this worm to read my essay There Is No Science But Naturalism and Darwin is it’s Prophet! and refute my statements regarding science if in fact God does exist. Then again, he’d probably do just as poor a job of comprehending and responding to that as he has here. Ah well. The assumption of naturalism is inherently flawed.

His arguments for excluding God from consideration also invoke the unbelievably lame “But which god is it?” canard. Just because he has never seriously considered the question of which God is most credible does not mean that there is not a means to make this distinction. How many times must we hear that there are so many gods, so they must all be fake dodge. The existence of multiple possibilities does not invalidate any of them from being potentially true, else the entire scientific enterprise may as well be given up. We CAN narrow down the search if we are but willing to apply ourselves to the problem.

He then pretends as if he has come to his conclusions by reason, which he has yet to evidence the slightest grasp of, instead of admitting that he simply swallowed the Just-So Story of Darwinism hook, line and sinker and is now chained to his mythology and is stupid enough to believe that it really happened because he’s faithful enough not to dig too deep or honestly and truly examine the alternatives and just trust Good King Darwin at his word. [Sound familiar, fo’nawlij?] This suckling Darbot cannot accuse me in kind because I once rejected Creationism for Darwinism, but returned to Creationism a decade later after I re-examined both metaphysical theories!

I bring this up because he tries to dodge my comments about the presumptions behind radiometric dating by saying that I’m cheating, that I’m adding a “Goddidit” fudge factor. Note how he attempts to move the goalpost; rather than addressing the evidence I’ve presented, he accuses me of religious fervor.

At this point he ends his farce of an argument, his unimaginatively named reply to a reply, by trying to retreat behind radiometric dating, presuming that his “God versus science” canard has refuted my arguments. I’ve already dealt with the science versus faith dodge in The Faith of Richard Dawkins. He also tries to more fully engage the faith versus reason/science straw man by noting my “religious preoccupation.” Note that I admit my presuppositional biases, while he tries to pretend as if he hasn’t any! I could easily argue that he has never strayed from the myth of Darwin!

I find his lack of research and inability to grasp the art of argument amusing, but I do hope that this is a new trend amongst Darwin’s defenders!!

-Sirius Knott


I Get Spam

September 27, 2008

Most comments on this blog won’t have to await moderation unless they contain several links. I knew such permissive settings would eventually leave me the victim of spam, but I thought it would be worth it if commenters could see their comments immediately and not have to wait until I got around to approving them. (It also means that debate or conversations can go on in the comment section even in my absence.) What I didn’t foresee was how retarded some people on the internet can be:

Yeah, but next time you wear the pink tu-tu. Oh, wait, wrong blog. What the heck am I doing here? Bye.

 

Hold it, George! I think I’m evolving into a monkey!

 

Your blog

it lacks

intelligent design

 

All three of those were posted here by the mysterious M. Patterson, who in the past claimed to be a scientist. Going by his latest ‘additions’ to this blog, he’s a pretty stupid one. Some people delete spam, but I prefer to enshrine it like this, hopefully reminding whoever concocted it that they had nothing better to do than make complete idiots of themselves on a backwater blog.

Well done! 😀


What Do I Do Next?

September 27, 2008

I’ve covered a few Creationist myths by now, but I’m a bit stuck as to what to do next. The fossil record and the Cambrian explosion are two topics I haven’t dealt with yet (they’re coming, possibly by tomorrow morning), and I’d like to go a bit deeper into Flood Geology (it gets more ridiculous the more you read – mind-bogglingly so, in some cases). But what else is there out there? Feel free to comment and vote for your favourite myth that needs debunking.

For the time being, I’d like to point out that what I’m doing here isn’t real scientific debate. For a start, that would require that all parties involved have at least a passing familiarity with the topic being discussed, and since Creationists tend to have a mid-high school level of science education (if even that), this certainly doesn’t count as real debate. It’s more like debunking urban myths or conspiracy theories: interpretation of the evidence doesn’t play a big part in it, since the offenders generally rely on ‘evidence’ that’s wrong, inflated or entirely made up in the first place. This is the work of Snopes, not scientists.

For some debunking in video form, I suggest this YouTube channel. Here’s a particularly good example from there of why Kent Hovind is a moron:

“OI, HOVIND, WE CAN’T CARBON DATE THIS! THERE’S NO F*&!ING CARBON IN IT!”


Ben Stein: Champion For Justice

September 27, 2008

Ben Stein is a champion for justice, working tirelessly to weaken the iron grip of the evil liberal colleges on the collective intellect of the USA.

At least, that’s what the AFA would have us believe. The latest from their action alert newsletter:

Ben Blows the Horn on Censorship!

Dear ____,

When I saw this movie I wanted to jump up and down in joy. Ben Stein shows the Evolution Only crowd for what they are. This is the best expose’ of the educational bureaucrats ever. See how the leftwing liberals have captured higher education and will not allow any view but theirs to be discussed. See how they punish those who don’t think like they think. Ben Stein embarrases them intellectually. The liberals would like to ban this movie. They can’t do that, so they did the next best thing–they simply ignored it when it was shown in the theaters. The media critics also ignored it. The movie shows how they refuse to allow any discussion concerning creation. It shows how the liberal educators deal with their peers who do not agree with their Evolution Only stance.

Please watch this movie, then share it with others. I wish it could be shown in every classroom and every church in America.

In a controversial new satirical documentary, author, former presidential speechwriter,
economist, lawyer and actor Ben Stein travels the world, looking to some of the best
scientific minds of our generation for the answer to the biggest question facing
all Americans today:

Are we still free to disagree about the meaning of life?
Or has the whole issue already been decided…
while most of us weren’t looking?

I haven’t seen Expelled yet, although I’ve read enough about it (and seen enough individual clips) to think that it’s probably as stupid as everybody keeps saying. This e-mail is worse.

I have no idea why this jackass thinks us ‘liberals’ ignored Expelled – there’s an entire website devoted to cataloguing its flaws, and it has receieved many (overwhelmingly negative) reviews. If the movie hasn’t set the academic world on fire, it’s probably because it sucks.

The entire point of the e-mail is that this turd is coming out on DVD, which means that I will almost certainly end up watching it if the local video place decides to stock it. (Bringing it to the counter is going to be the most embarrassing experience of my life.) Expect a full review as soon as that happens, assuming it doesn’t leave me a shrieking, mindless wreck.


Information in the Genome: The Debunking

September 26, 2008

Yesterday I posted a brief challenge to Creationists: define what you mean when you say that no known mechanism can add information to the genome. Nobody has accommodated me by taking up the challenge, so I’ll just get straight to the interesting part. (I know I didn’t allow much time, but I’m bored and have several hours to waste use productively until my next lecture.)

The information ‘problem’ is a relatively recent Creationist claim, and is a good indicator of the trend away from easily-debunked myths about the fossil record or radiometric dating and towards more complex (to them) myths about the genome or cellular biology. You’ve probably heard it a dozen times before: “Information can’t be added to the genome”. But what does this actually mean? There are a seemingly endless number of variations based on what ‘information’ and ‘genome’ are defined as (Creationists seem peculiarly unable to agree on basic terminology), so I’ll just go through the most common ones and debunk them all.

1) Genetic material cannot be added to the genome. This one often shows up when a Creationist is pressed to define what they mean by ‘information’, what which point they fall back on the simplest definiton Wikipedia can think of: actual DNA base-pairs. The ‘letters’ of the DNA ‘language’ (as I’m sure no Creationists reading this need to be told!) are A, G, C and T, which stand for Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymin respectively. RNA, DNA’s more simplistic cousin, replaces thymine with U, or Uracil. Each letter has a complimentary letter on the other side of the famous ‘double helix’ – A with T and G with C. They can only form hydrogen bonds in this way; you cannot, for example, have A joined to C. These are ‘base pairs’, and they are directly analagous to the 1s and 0s of computer binary information.

Enough of the elementary biology: does this version of the information argument carry any weight? It does not: gene duplication (and in some particularly dramatic examples, whole genome duplication) is a process that commonly adds large amounts of genetic material to the genome. There are others as well, but you get the idea.

(b) Gene duplication just copies the same information again, rather than adding new information. This sub-myth stops making sense when you apply a little though to it; if a duplication increases the amount of raw genetic data in the genome, subsequent mutations of that new data will lead to an increase in both new information and more varied information. As we’ll see in a minute, though, this isn’t even necessary.

2) Mutations don’t add information, they destroy it. This one is a bit of a word game, because it plays on the fact that mutations are ‘mistakes’ in the genetic copying process. It is never clear what Creationists mean when they say that mutations ‘destroy information’ – presumably they don’t mean that the actual DNA base pairs always disappear, so they must be working off some other definition of ‘information’. As far as I can work out, they’re usually talking about the phenotype rather than the genotype, and falling back on the Creationist myth that mutations are always harmful. Of course, this is not the case – benifical mutations, while quite rare, have been found to occur with enough frequency to allow natural selection to take place.

(b) A mutation only adds information if it conveys a benefit to the organism. Again, this sub-myth is tied to the idea that mutations are always harmful. It’s also a brilliant example of the ‘moving goalpost’.

3) Mutations don’t add information. This one is even more vague, but it’s by far the most common version of the myth (even if the word ‘mutation’ isn’t actually used). Here, most Creationists are unknowingly invoking Information Theory (or Shannon-Weaver Information Theory), a field of mathematics that can be applied to many different situations. According to this theory, the ‘random noise’ of mutation actually helps to increase genetic information. Any reduction in redundancy (genetic material that does nothing, of which there is an enormous amount) is an increase in information. This is why I said earlier that duplication is not necessary for an increase in information: because the genome of any organism is huge, there is ample room for mutation to create new genes.

(b) There is no ‘junk’ DNA. This sub-myth attemps to negate the above defence by claiming that there is no ‘junk’ DNA, and that any mutation of existing genetic material will most likely lead to a negative effect on the organism (it is true that harmful mutations are more common than beneficial ones). Since genetic information supposedly cannot be added to the genome (as per Myth #1), the genome must be a more-or-less static entity, with only minimal variation allowed. It’s wrong, obviously: while some non-coding DNA does seem to have a purpose, very large sections of an organism’s genome can be cut out or reversed without any noticeable effect on the organism. (Incidentally, the idea of the genome as static and mostly unchanging is very appealing to those who believe in the special creation of the Bible or Qur’an. This type of thing is a good red flag to look out for when someone claims to reject evolution on purely scientific grounds; the religious bias is always lurking somewhere in the background.)

(c) Mutations just corrupt the genetic template. Vaguness-ahoy! This one plays off of the idea that there’s an original or ‘ideal’ form of the genome, and that any variation on this is corruption (and as we all know, corruption is a bad thing). Usually there are some appeals made to Adam as having this mytsterious ideal genome – if someone goes this far into the waters of fundie-hood, you can safely begin to ignore them. In reality, there is no such thing as an ‘ideal’ genome, for any organism. (The Human Genome Project took examples of those sections of the human genome which vary from many different individuals, since taking it from any one individual would have lead to a database that didn’t represent the diversity of humanity. Too bad they didn’t have any of Adam’s cells lying around!)

(c) Richard Dawkins couldn’t give an example of a process that adds information to the genome. This one is pretty irrelevant, but I thought I’d toss it in here anyway since it’s so common. According to Dawkins, he invited a camera crew into his home to give an interview on what he thought was to be a documentary on the interaction between science and religion. When he was asked about genetic information (with the question phrased in a way that made it sound as if it was lifted directly from Creationist literature) he realised what was happening and, in accordance with his rule about not debating Creationists, decided to cut the interview short there and then. While the cameras were off, the film crew supposedly begged him to continue (they had come a long way) and he relented. when the documentary was aired, he was appalled but not surprised to discover that it had been edited in such a way as to make his long pause (when he says he was deliberating over whether to answer) look like an inability to come up with a reply, followed by a quote, taken out of context, that made him seem as if he was trying to dodge the question.

Obviously only those involved know for sure what actually happened, and the possibility that Dawkins is lying can’t be ruled out. However, I find it hard to believe that he would be unable to answer a question like this, and Creationist deceit is not exactly unprecedented – the widespread use by them of ‘quote mining’ throughout the internet is evidence of that, as is the dubious methodology employed by the producers of Expelled. But, as I said earlier, whether Dawkins was able to answer the question or not is irrelevant, since the scientific evidence clearly and easily refutes this particular Creationist myth.

As usual, comment, criticism and suggestions are very welcome, particularly from those who know more about this than I do and feel that I missed something important due to ignorance of the subject,  or that I made a mistake.