Counting the errors in one section of the Origin of Life brouchure

by bohm 33 Replies latest jw friends

  • bohm

    From page 12:

    What do you think?

    The theory of evolution tries to account for the origin of life on earth without the necessity of divine intervention.

    FALSE: Simply plain false on both accounts.

    However, the more that scientists discover about life, the less likely it appears that it could arise by chance.

    FALSE: Author state conclusion which is not supported by the text. This is the key to the section.

    To sidestep this dilemma

    FALSE: There is no dilemma. Loaded language.

    some evolutionary scientists would like

    BZZZ: Loaded language (some, would like)

    to make a distinction between the theory of evolution and the Question of the origin of life.

    FALSE: There is such a destinction per definition. Notice the author has allready concluded this destinction does not exist, now he want to pose it as a question.

    But does that sound reasonable to you?

    BZZZZ: Argument from readers ignorance. Author is asking questions he has allready answered.

    The theory of evolution rests on the notion that a long series of fortunate accidents produced life to start with.

    FALSE: by definition. Author is restating conclusion and answering his own rethorical question.

    It then proposes thal another series of undirected accidents produced the astonishing diversity and complexity of all living things.

    FALSE: This is not what evolution says.

    However, if the foundation of the theory is missing,

    FALSE: Its not because its an invented controversy. The author never provide evidence for this.

    what happens to the other theories that are built on this assumption?

    FALSE: Author is trying to cook up a false logical connection.

    Just as a skyscraper built without a foundation would collapse, a theory of evolution that cannot explain the origin of life will crumble.

    FALSE: False analogy. The author yet again reaffirms they are connected.

    FALSE: The author use his false logical connection. The statement is obviously untrue because it would apply equally to genetics and germ theory.

    After briefly considering the structure and function of a "simple" cell what do you see-evidence of many accidents or proof of brilliant design?

    FALSE: Fallacy of excluding the middle. Neither of the two options are evolution.

    FALSE: Allready stated the conclusion, namely that the more scientists learn about life, the less likely the chance hypothesis is. Fallacy of begging the question.

    If you are still unsure,

    BZZZ: He talks to the reader like the reader is a child.

    BZZZ: Wonderfull way it is phrased: If YOU are still unsure (ie. I am not) then ...

    take a closer look at the "'master program" that controls the functions of all cells.

    The most scary part IMHO is how the author state the conclusion authoritatively multiple times, and ask the reader in different ways inbetween. Also notice the word chance is used 4 times in the short section. What do i think? I think the author is full of shit. I also think it could be fun to name the fallacies and make it into a youtube video with a buzzer and a counter for each error.

    Link to previous topic i did on the same brochure:

    Question for lurkers: Why is the slave puplishing things which are so obviously wrong?

  • zoiks

    The 'slave' is publishing things that are obviously wrong because the R&F will, for the most part, never think to check these things for accuracy. I took this stuff for granted for years and years. I used to chuckle to myself at those scientists who the WTS would quote, and think to myself, "How can they admit so many problems with their theory yet still cling to it?"

    The day I decided to look at what those "stupid agenda-driven scientists" actually had to say was the day my exit began. For me, the issue is not whether life was created, or whether it has evolved since then. The issue is that they lied to me, over and over and over again.

  • wobble

    I posted this on BOHM's other thread, and he has kindly replied at length to me by PM with further suggestions,which I will be using, some of which are in his post above, but I would be appreciative of further suggestions from anyone, my aim is not to make it too long, or too scientific, just to show how blatantly dishonest and badly written the Brochure is.

    I will be adding a bit about Noah's flood and belief in that as a postscript. Please help me hone this first draught into something punchy !

    My sister gave my oldest son the two brochures, she asked that he looked at them in an open minded but "scholastic" way, he is far too busy to even read them,(apart from his lack of inclination to read any WT trash) so I have penned this reply on his behalf, what do you think ?suggestions are appreciated.

    "The Origin of Life" Brochure

    - an open-minded study.

    You asked that this brochure be considered in an open-minded and scholastic way.

    Open-minded means "Receptive to new ideas......" and a scholar looks at things using his/her analytical skills, and life experience and existing knowledge, whilst still being receptive to ideas that have merit.

    Open -mindedness is not gullibility, so when one is presented with an argument by theologians, scientists, or politicians etc. one looks for the fallacies and falsehoods in the argument and presentation, otherwise one would be open to accepting every argument that comes along.

    One bad argument method is to spend time mainly on attacking the "opposition", a method much loved by politicians, this does not though prove your argument, the oppositions could be totally wrong, but that does not make yours right, the facts do.

    Another method is to use "loaded" language that affects the way we think about the argument, or arguer, that is being attacked, without reason or proof for such language.

    Another method is the appeal to authority as though they back up what your point of view is, for this to be "tested" it is necessary to see who these authorities are, and what they actually say, so bibliographies need particular scrutiny, to the point of examining the original quote in context.

    In fact the brochure encourages such an examination, quoting Proverbs 14 v15:

    "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps"

    And Romans 12v1&2 "to use ones power of reason".

    It would be possible to take issue with the brochure on most of its points, but it is sufficient to show where the above methods are used.

    On page four we have an example of loaded language, under the heading "What do many scientists believe" we are told that scientists "believe" and "feel" certain things, not that they have "discovered" or "learned".

    Just above that we have the statement that " some scientists seem reluctant to discuss .....

    Where did life come from?"

    What scientists, who are they ? Why are they reluctant ? We are not told.

    It is a fact that very few scientists are engaged directly in the field of Abiogenesis, and so it would be foolish for those not equipped to publish their thoughts on the matter.

    Page five states that "life always comes from pre-existing life" a bold statement that the scientists working in the field are close to disproving, the work in the area concerned with RNA having made great strides, I believe the brochure was prepared before the very latest work was published.

    Dr. Carol Cleland is quoted as commenting on this, she has gone on record as saying:

    " It is clear that scientists know how many of the most basic building blocks of life are made under natural conditions"

    She adds, regarding the selective quote in the brochure:

    "My work has been used before by these people and it really angers me because they are using it to defend views that I reject..... it is deeply dishonest for theists to deliberately distort the words of scholars for their own purposes; as I recall , this is a sin"

    The brochure then asks "if we go back far enough in time ,is it really possible that this fundamental law was broken?" (Life always coming from pre-existing life)

    The creationist should answer "Yes" to this, believing that the Creator did not come from pre-existing life. A huge leap of faith.

    The brochure spends a lot of time attacking Evolution Science, which really is getting away from the title of the brochure, Evolution Science is about how the great variety of flora and fauna that existed in the past became that which we see today, not the origin of life itself, and so is an example of false argument, but let us look at some of the attack.

    Much is said about the fossil record, and it needs stating that Evolution Science does not rely on the fossil record, rather it is a bonus. Yes it is incomplete, as you would expect because of the special conditions needed for fossilisation to occur, soft bodied animals being an example of difficulty.

    What would be a problem for Evolution Science with regard to the fossil record ? what does Evolution "predict" that it should show? It predicts that simple life forms come first and more complex ones much later.

    Creation predicts we should find such life forms side by side .

    Or as one scientist (J.B.S Haldane) put it, what would be a problem would be:

    "Rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian"

    Has even one such anachronistic fossil been found ? No.

    The brochure on page 24 quotes Henry Gee as though he casts doubt on the fossil record with his saying,in part, "The intervals of time that separate the fossils are so huge that we cannot say anything definite about their possible connection through ancestry or descent"

    Studying the original quote in context we find that Henry Gee is not talking generally about the fossil record, but about two distinct fossils ,both Giant Civits, that lived a million years apart, this is blatant dis-honest quoting.

    Notice too that the brochure has to admit that none of the quoted scientists or scholars are in doubt about the veracity of Evolution Science, yes, they show where more research is needed, and that is what Science is about.

    Could not one reputable scientist be found to support the creationist view ?

    A good number of scientists, such as Francis Collins, who worked on the Human Genome de-ciphering, are theists, but do not doubt evolution.

    In summary the brochure is poorly argued, scurrilous and dishonest, if I was going door to door, in all conscience I could not offer this to the public.

    Herewith I add some more quotes, as in the brochure, and then as in context, without comment:

    . Quote 38:
    At the beginning of the 20th century, all the fossils that were used to support the theory that humans and apes evolved from a common ancestor could fit on one billiard table. Since then, the number of fossils has increased. Now it is claimed that they would fill a railroad boxcar.

    Actual Reference 38:
    An often repeated creationist canard insists that all known human fossils would fit on a billiard table. This was probably true in the late 19th century, but it has not been true for a 100 years. Known human fossils number in the thousands and represent the remains of hundreds of individuals. They are more numerous and better studied than the fossils of any other vertebrae group, because the intense interest that people have for the bones of their ancestors has driven them to devote far more effort to collecting and studying fossil humans than say fossil horses or herring. Having seen most of the major collections of human fossils in the world's museums, we can assure our readers that those collections can no longer be laid out on a billiard table. It would be hard to cram them all into a boxcar.

    Quote 39:
    However, the vast majority of those fossils consist only of single bones and isolated teeth. Complete skulls - let alone complete skeletons - are rare.

    Explanation of Actual Reference 39:
    What this book further attempts to do, bearing in mind that results from studies of small numbers of post-cranial fossils have not been overly persuasive within the profession, is to carry out these studies using large samples. This means that we can better know populations through averages and variations, and be less dependent upon the vagaries of single, possibly far from average, specimens. Such studies have to be based upon teeth, because these are the only anatomical parts that are available in such large samples. Using teeth means we lose the functional inferences that can be readily derived from post-cranial bones. But we gain from the marked improvements in the sample sizes.

    Quote 40:
    Perhaps the only consensus now is that there is no consensus.

    Actual Reference 40:
    At any point in time, the number of hominin genera and species recognized by the majority of specialists will be limited, reflecting the merging into a single category of specimens previously categorized as separate. But in turn new claims for taxonomic uniqueness keep the pool large, until affected by their own cycle of merger. Figure 1 is indicative of the addition of new taxa to the hominins; while most of these have subsequently been subsumed and disappeared from the literature, the chart shows that the pattern of new names for new finds show no signs of introduction of new genera has declined since 1970. There has been a substantial number of different classificatory schemes, both from those associated with the newer discoveries and from those standing to one side of these. [u]Perhaps the only consensus now is that there is no consensus.[/u]
    Both 'splitters' - those who favour multiple species and genera - and 'lumpers' - those who prefer a classificatory and phylogenetic scheme with fewer taxons - vary in the criteria they consider essential to their classificatory scheme.

    Quote 41:
    Nothing is known of the actual timing and mode of divergence of the African ape and hominid lineages.

    Actual Reference 41:

    With the discovery of Ardipithecus, Orrorin and Sahelanthropus, our knowledge of hominid evolution before the emergence of Pliocene species of Australopithecus has significantly increased, extending the hominid fossil record back to at least 6 million years (Myr) ago. However, because of the dearth of fossil hominoid remains in sub-Saharan Africa spanning the period 12-7 Myr ago, [u]nothing is known of the actual timing and mode of divergence of the African ape and hominid lineages[/u]. Most genomic-based studies suggest a late divergence date-5-6 Myr ago and 6-8 Myr ago for the human-chimp and human-gorilla splits, respectively-and some palaeontological and molecular analyses hypothesize a Eurasian origin of the African ape and hominid clade. We report here the discovery and recognition of a new species of great ape, Chororapithecus abyssinicus, from the 10-10.5-Myr-old deposits of the Chorora Formation at the southern margin of the Afar rift. To the best of our knowledge, these are the first fossils of a large-bodied Miocene ape from the African continent north of Kenya. They exhibit a gorilla-sized dentition that combines distinct shearing crests with thick enamel on its 'functional' side cusps. Visualization of the enamel-dentine junction by micro-computed tomography reveals shearing crest features that partly resemble the modern gorilla condition. These features represent genetically based structural modifications probably associated with an initial adaptation to a comparatively fibrous diet. The relatively flat cuspal enamel-dentine junction and thick enamel, however, suggest a concurrent adaptation to hard and/or abrasive food items. The combined evidence suggests that Chororapithecus may be a basal member of the gorilla clade, and that the latter exhibited some amount of adaptive and phyletic diversity at around 10-11 Myr ago.

    Quote 42:

    The classification and the evolutionary place of hominid fossils has been under constant debate.

    Actual Reference 42:

    One of the main reasons of the [b]different interpretations[/b] of the evolutionary way of the hominids is that [u]the classification and the evolutionary place of hominid fossils has been under constant debate[/u]. It is caused partly because hominid fossils are not plentiful - inspite of the growing number of the fossils - and perhaps partly because there are a number of rival discovery teams, and the importance of a new hominid fossil discovery is enhanced if the discovery apparently requires new classifications and/or new interpretations.

    Quote 43 & 45:
    See brochure

    Actual Reference 43 & 45:

    UNBRIDLED hoopla attended the unveiling of a 47-millionyear-old fossil primate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York on 19 May. The popular press immediately hailed the specimen as a "missing link" in human evolution. Some called it the "eighth wonder of the world". Google even incorporated an image of the fossil into its celebrated logo. Now that the first proper description of the fossil, nicknamed Ida, has been published, the task of separating the scientific significance of the fossil from the mass of public relations hype can begin. Ida is the first known member of a new genus and species (Darwinius massillae) belonging to an extinct group of early primates called the adapiforms, whose overall proportions and anatomy resemble those of a lemur. What does this tell us about her place on the family tree of humans and other primates? The fact that Ida retains features found in all early primates indicates that she belongs somewhere closer to the base of the tree than living lemurs do. But this does not necessarily make Ida a close relative of the anthropoids - the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes, you and me. To be connected in this way, Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and other early primates. Here she fails miserably: Ida is not a "missing link" in human evolution. She is, nevertheless, a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of known primates. For this, we can celebrate her discovery as a real, if incremental advance. If Ida herself offers only limited extra insight into primate evolution, the PR campaign which greeted her raises the marketing of science to unprecedented heights. As a practising scientist, I applaud fellow scientists' efforts to promote their findings to a wide audience. But there remains an important difference between the type of publicity that scientists work towards and that which rock stars, sports personalities and politicians seek.
    The currency that we trade in is rooted in data and objectivity. If we ever allow marketers and publicists to divorce us from that simple standard, we will quickly find our work being evaluated on the same basis as the advertising campaign for the next world tour of the Rolling Stones. Shall we all begin tuning our guitars?

    Quote 44:
    Whole article can be found at:

    Quote 46 is in line with actual reference:
    "With limited data it is difficult to assess accurately the survival rate of different late Pliocene and Pleistocene fossil hominins. With such data it is easier to study the survival rate of newly patented species in the literature. The recovery of fossil hominin skeletal material operates, and has always operated, in a contemporary framework: that of physical access, national priorities, research funding and individual research passions. The interpretation of these finds, and in particular their initial naming, so frequently claiming uniqueness, emphasizes the subjectivity of these frameworks. The leader of a research team may need to over-emphasize the uniqueness and drama of a 'discovery' in order to attract research funding from outside the conventional academic sources, and they will certainly be encouraged in this by the print and electronic media, looking for a dramatic story."

    Quote 47:
    "Any facial 'reconstructions' of early hominids are likely to be misleading."

    Context of Actual Reference 47:
    Depending on the reconstruction technique (Russian, British or American) there may be slight variation in the size of the nose and/or mouth. Mouth size for example can differ up to 1 cm.

    Quote 48:
    One group of researchers used brain size to speculate which extinct creatures were more closely related to man admitted that in doing so, "they often feel on shaky ground."

    Context of Actual Reference 48:
    Here is a foreword in a book simply explaining a number of educated assumptions. "We use these (Brain size) to offer speculations about the interrelatedness and evolution through time, and even here we [u]often feel on shaky ground".

    Quote 49:
    "Scientists have failed to find a correlation between absolute or relevant brain size and acumen amongst humans and other species. Neither have they been able to discern a parallel between wits and the size or existence of specific regions of the brain, excepting perhaps Broca's area, which governs speech in people."
    "The Human Fossil Record: Brain endocasts : the paleoneurological evidence"
    Actual Reference 49:
    The above, plus: "Why have we failed to find this correlation? Because anatomically, the human brain is very similar to that of other primates because humans and chimpanzees share an ancestor, that walked the earth less than 7 million years ago."

    Quote 50:
    "Neanderthals may have been a true human race"

    Actual Reference 50:
    "Since their first discovery, Neandertals have served as an out-group for interpreting human variation. Their out-group role has changed over the years because in spite of the fact that Neandertals are the most abundant of all fossil remains (or perhaps because of this) their interpretation is the most controversial of all human fossils. Many believe them to be a different, albeit human-like species, but recent genetic evidence supports anatomical interpretations indicating that interbreeding with other humans was an important aspect of human evolution. The combination of anatomical difference and restricted gene flow between populations suggests the possibility that Neanderthals may have been a true human race."

    Quote 51:
    "Such pictures as this are based on the biases and assumptions of researchers and artists, not on facts."

    Actual Reference 51:
    "We view our pictures only as ancillary illustrations of what we defend by words...The familiar iconographies of evolution are all directed, sometimes crudely, sometimes subtly, towards reinforcing a comfortable view of human inevitability and superiority. The starkest version, the chain of being or ladder of linear progress, has an ancient, pre-evolutionary pedigree."

    Many thanks in advance,


  • Cadellin

    I'm working on an analysis of the article "Has All Life Descended from a Common Ancestory?" in the Origin brochure (but have become bogged down with other stuff!) which I'll eventually post. While the WT is up to its old tricks of taking quotes out of context, it's worth noting, apart from the logical fallacies that bohm has nicely highlighted here, that the rhetorical approach is also carefully contrived to lead to a desired yet unsubstantiated conclusion: The writer will state a claim, then use a quote as evidence, then move directly into another claim, rather than explaining how the quote supports the claim made, what the connection is between the quote and the point that the writer is desiring to make.

    For example, on p. 23, the brochure makes the claim "Recent research continues to contradict Darwin's theory of common descent." It then goes directly into 2 quotes, one by Bapteste: "We have no evidence at all that the tree of life is a reality," and one by Rose about how the tree of life is being buried. But rather than explaining what the connection is between these quotes and common descent or, more importantly, how these quotes relate back to the central claim of the whole article itself, which is that there are "fixed barriers separating the different kinds" (p.22), the article goes directly into the next subheading, leaving the reader to make the connection on his or her own, in all likelihood presuming that these quoted scientists (Bapteste and Rose) are disputing common descent in toto. However, a review of the New Scientist article from which these quotes are taken quickly reveals that they are speaking of gene swapping among unicellular organisms--bacteria and viruses. "As early as 1993, some were proposing that for bacteria and archaea, the tree of life was more like a web," the original New Scientist article states. "By sheer weight of numbers almost all the living things on Earth are microbes. It would be perverse to claim that the evolution of life on Earth resembles a tree just because multicellular life evolved that way." (emphasis added).

    Hmm...I think it's clear to see why the writer conveniently avoids explaining how the quote relates to the claim, don't you?

    Why did my typing get so small?

  • bohm

    Cadellin: I cant wait reading your analysis, im also working on one of exactly that chapter!

    Its a very fine point. The booklets consist entirely op the oppinion of the authors mixed with quotes from scientists which are not explained. no arguments are advanced, no facts presented, its just oppinions.

    kind of hard to debunk really.

  • PrimateDave

    Very well done! Unfortunately, my mother has swallowed these brochures whole. Simple, "common sense logic" is very appealing to her. Any time Evolution is mentioned on television, she gets exasperated at the "ignorance" of the narrator of the nature program. She wanted me to read the brochures, and I obliged. However, I do not want to discuss this topic with her. Such a discussion will do me no good.

    I think she is under the misguided impression that my atheism is rooted in Evolution. No, my non-theism is more rooted in a disbelief in the deities of the Jewish mythologies. The book of Genesis is one of the most absurd literary works anyone could base a belief system upon. Bohm, you illustrate very well the logical hoops that the WTS has to jump through in support of literalist, inerrantist theology. I could concede intelligent design, but then who designed the designer?

  • bohm

    PrimateDave: Sorry about your mom. I wonder to what extend they are actually trying to distort the conversation (for example, redefining terms like atheist, etc.), and to what extend they believe they are doing everything right. It must take a special mindset to go through book after book on evolution and just cherry pick the passages that can be twisted to your liking.

    Its a bit funny when you think of it that the brochure is ment as a presentation of facts the reader can make up his mind upon, ie. somewhat balanced. Yet while they could poke hole after hole in the scientific attempts to explanations, they could not find a single disputable point in a book about magic and talking animals.

    "who designed the designer" - all conversations on evolution seem to spiral back to that question. it should have a name :-).

  • Pistoff

    I agree on the point made, the booklet is about the Origin of Life, something that evolution does not attempt to answer.

    Witnesses are incredibly ignorant of the idea that theory in science is not what it is in non science matters, and booklets like this one are making the average witness even more subject to ridicule.

  • bohm

    Pistoff: Whats frustrating is thats its so easy to explain even a child can understand it!

    • Abiogenesis: How life originated.
    • Evolution: The processes which change life from generation to generation (formal definition of evolution: Change in the frequency of genes in a population over generations)
    • History of evolution: Basically how evolution has changed life from abiogenesis untill today.

    Now consider the two models:

    Scientific model:

    • Abiogenesis: RNA world or ... ? We dont really have a clue.
    • Evolution: The processes which create evolution in a population are mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, horizontal gene transfer etc. etc.
    • History of evolution: self-replicating molecules --> bacteria --> us.

    The JW model:

    • Abiogenesis: Magic and dirt created life.
    • Evolution: exactly the same mechanisms as scientists believe + some degree of magic. I have yet to meet a person who does not believe in evolution.
    • History of evolution: Evolution did not function untill noahs ark. Then evolution went really quick and created life today from a few discreete kinds. Insert magic where problems arise.
  • TheOldHippie

    The theory of evolution tries to account for the origin of life on earth without the necessity of divine intervention.

    CORRECT: That was Darwin’s strategy from the beginning, to show no God was needed..

    However, the more that scientists discover about life, the less likely it appears that it could arise by chance.

    CORRECT: Hence the extreme silence as to this first step. But once this step has been achieved, then the theories come into action.

    To sidestep this dilemma

    CORRECT: There is a huge dilemma..

    to make a distinction between the theory of evolution and the Question of the origin of life.

    CORRECT: There is a huge silence on the Origin question, but an equally huge literature on the Evolution question.

    The theory of evolution rests on the notion that a long series of fortunate accidents produced life to start with.

    CORRECT: That is what it is all about.

    It then proposes that another series of undirected accidents produced the astonishing diversity and complexity of all living things.

    CORRECT: That is what evolution says.

    However, if the foundation of the theory is missing,

    CORRECT: The step-by-step changes are not explained in detail..

    what happens to the other theories that are built on this assumption?

    CORRECT: They end up void.

    Just as a skyscraper built without a foundation would collapse, a theory of evolution that cannot explain the origin of life will crumble.

    CORRECT: Once a foundation is made, anything can be constructed, but they have no foundation.

    After briefly considering the structure and function of a "simple" cell what do you see-evidence of many accidents or proof of brilliant design?

    CORRECT: I see nothing but proof of brilliant design. A design that can be ascribed to a Creator or to Evolution – but not to Darwinism - but design is what I see.

Share this